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April 04, 2006

Loyalist Group Ousts Its Chairman

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 04/03/06 Loyalist Group Ousts Its Chairman
BB 04/03/06 Council Rejects Connolly Tribute
IT 04/04/06 Mixed Reaction To Move In South Armagh
BB 04/04/06 Omagh Families Meet Police Chief
IM 04/03/06 '81 Website Remembering Hungerstrikers 25 Years On!
BT 04/04/06 Police Under Fire As Three-Year Case Come To An End
BT 04/04/06 Emotional Scenes As Three Year Nightmare Ends In Court
BT 04/04/06 Relatives Of Man Killed By Loyalists Want Public Probe
BB 04/04/06 Woman Questioned Over £26m Raid
IT 04/04/06 Court Adjourns IRA Money-Laundering Case
BB 04/04/06 Man Jailed Over IRA Base Bombing
BB 04/04/06 Loyalist Areas Getting £33m Boost
IS 04/04/06 IRA Volunteer Gerard Casey/Still Looking For Justice
BT 04/04/06 LVF Victim's Dad Dies On Aid Trip
BN 04/04/06 Teen Killed, 30 Injured In Offaly Crash
SF 04/04/06 Crowe Expresses Shock And Sadness At Co. Offaly School Bus
IT 04/04/06 State To Review Same-Sex Unions
IT 04/04/06 Bitter March Goes Down On Record
IT 04/04/06 Dark Days For Irish Fishermen
RT 04/04/06 Ireland May Need Nuclear Power - Forfás


Loyalist Group Ousts Its Chairman

Presbyterian minister Reverend Mervyn Gibson has been
ousted as chairman of the Loyalist Commission.

The commission is an umbrella group which includes members
of the UVF, Red Hand Commando and the UDA, as well as
clerical and community representatives.

Mr Gibson was asked to stand down at a meeting of the
commission on Monday.

It is understood some were concerned about a NIO initiative
he was involved in which would include the loyal orders and
nationalist residents groups.

One source told the BBC that it was thought Mr Gibson had
"taken on too much, too soon".

However, Mr Gibson said there was a "difference of
interpretation" of what he was trying to do.

Mr Gibson said he was surprised at being asked to stand
down but had "no hesitation" in agreeing to leave.

He said that though he was no longer a member, he wished
the commission well.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/03 20:29:13 GMT


Council Rejects Connolly Tribute

Belfast councillors have voted against erecting a stained
glass window in its city hall in memory of the socialist
and Irish patriot James Connolly.

Connolly - executed for his role in the Easter Rising - was
born in Edinburgh of Irish stock, but spent time in Belfast
as a trade union organiser.

Sinn Fein had proposed the window as a way to commemorate
the 1916 rising.

However, a majority of city councillors voted in favour of
a DUP amendment that the proposal should be rejected.


Speaking ahead of the council vote, Sinn Fein's Fra McCann
said Connolly had a huge impact on Belfast.

"He was a champion of the working class and people of no
class," he said.

"We believe because of his connection with the working
classes, Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter, that it would
be only right he be honoured in this way by the city

Mr McCann said Belfast City Hall was a building "full of
regalia that represented one community" and that a window
commemorating Connolly would encourage more republicans to
use to city hall.

But the DUP's Ian Crozier said the motion was simply an
attempt to "erode the British identity" of the province.

"They have been at this at the city hall for quite some
time," he said.

"First it was trying to remove the Union Flag, now it's
trying to put in a window to the Easter Rising.

"It is just bit by bit, gradual attempts to erode the
British identity of the people of Northern Ireland - we are
not going to support it."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/03 20:42:45 GMT


Mixed Reaction To Move In South Armagh

Dan Keenan

Demolition of the final British army watchtowers has begun
in south Armagh. Soldiers began the dismantling work early
yesterday aided by Chinook helicopters brought in to carry
out heavy lifting work.

Five towers dotted across Camlough Mountain, Jonesborough
Hill and Croslieve Hill will be returned to green-field
status in accordance with a "security normalisation" plan
announced by the British government after last summer's IRA
announcement that it was standing down units.

Eight towers have already been dismantled since December
1999. Last August the British government said troop numbers
would be halved, local British army battalions stood down
and British army support for the police would end within
two years.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, the SDLP and
Sinn Féin welcomed yesterday's demilitarisation, while
unionists signalled caution.

The Minister said the dismantling work "is yet another
tangible demonstration of the transformed security
situation in Northern Ireland, and of the benefits it
brings to everyone".

Sinn Féin MP for Newry Armagh Conor Murphy said his
constituents had been frustrated by the slow rate of change
in their locality but added "people are happy to see it
happening now".

However, DUP Assembly member Arlene Foster said the
dismantling was "premature and flawed", while UUP deputy
leader Danny Kennedy said: "There is still a significant
level of threat posed by dissident republicans and we feel
the government really has no excuse to continue in the
manner they are progressing."

© The Irish Times


Omagh Families Meet Police Chief

Intelligence gathered by MI5 ahead of the Omagh bombing was
passed to police only this year, the chief constable has
confirmed to victims' families.

Michael Gallagher was part of a delegation of relatives who
met Sir Hugh Orde and his senior officers.

He said it might have made a difference if the information
was passed on before the attack, which killed 29 people.

Mr Gallagher said the two-hour discussions were "very long,
at times difficult and sometimes very frank".

"We talked about the way things had been handled, the
intelligence, particularly MI5," he said.

"He confirmed that it was only earlier this year that the
PSNI was aware of that intelligence for the first time. It
was important for us to hear it from the chief constable.

"That was something outside his control, but nevertheless
we believe it could have made a difference and the police
in Omagh had a right to know that intelligence so that they
could at least have had a chance."

Mr Gallagher added: "It may or may not have had a bearing
on the Omagh bomb but at least it would have raised the
state of awareness that there was a bomb attack on its

Mr Gallagher's son Aiden was one of 29 killed in the Real
IRA attack in August 1998.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/03 17:25:53 GMT


'81 Website Remembering Hungerstrikers 25 Years On!

International Rights And Freedoms News Report Monday
April 03, 2006 22:34 by Ógra B - Ógra Shinn Féin osf6county
at yahoo dot com

This year, 2006, marks the 25th Anniversary of the 1981
Hunger Strike. As part of a year-long commemoration, a
series of events has been organised throughout Ireland and

The official website of the Hungerstrike '81 Committee has
been launched recently at

The website contains a wide range of information and news
coverage of events as they unfolded in 1981, biographies of
the Hungerstrikers and upcoming events relating to the 25th
anniversary commemorations.

Ógra Shinn Féin spokesperson, Andrea O'Kane, speaking at
the launch of the website said,

"Young people in Ireland and internationally should use
this website to educate themselves on the true story of the
'81 Hungerstrike, and to use it as a tool for developing
ideas and ways in which they can commemorate and re-tell
the story of '81 to the youth of today."

"We can learn alot from the 'Youth Against The H-Block'
committee from 25 years ago, who organised Youth Marches,
'Rock The Block' concerts, torchlight processions,
solidarity fasts, rooftop protests and occupations of state
buildings - we must mobilise the youth of today behind the
heroic sacrifice of these fine revolutionaries - in memory
of the ten!"

Related Link:


Police Under Fire As Three-Year Case Come To An End

By Lisa Smyth
04 April 2006

The police investigation into the incident that brought
Kieran Milnes to court was the subject of criticism by the
judge at the Belfast man's trial.

In particular, Craigavon Crown Court judge Mr Justice
Patrick Markey singled out a failure by the police to carry
out a forensic examination on the vehicle in question,
which he said he believed was a breach of a code of

The Police Ombudsman was also critical of the police
handling of the investigation and after carrying out its
own probe, recommended that a police officer be informally
disciplined "for failing to ensure the scene of the
incident was forensically examined".

The police investigation into the incident was the subject
of intense scrutiny throughout the week-long trial and
prompted defence QC Eilish McDermott to launch an
unsuccessful attempt to have the case thrown out of court.

She made the application to stay the proceedings on day
three of the retrial - in which she claimed it was
impossible for her client to have a fair trial as a result
of a lack of evidence to corroborate Mr Milnes' version
that he found the teenager in his former girlfriend's car.

The application followed evidence from a police officer who
attended the scene of the incident and admitted a key piece
of evidence had been lost.

Referring to a screwdriver which was said to have been
discovered at the scene, Constable Gareth Hoy said he no
longer knew its location. He also revealed that while he
had bagged it as evidence, it was never tested for

During the hearing, it also emerged that police did not
carry out any forensic tests on the Fiat Punto belonging to
Mr Milnes' then girlfriend.

Ms McDermott argued that this made it impossible to prove
whether Gerard Pickering was ever in the vehicle, claiming
that the serious nature of his head injury and the amount
of blood on his clothing on the night in question would
mean his DNA must have been present in the car if he had
sat in it.

She also pointed to the fact that police had not made any
efforts to locate a person alleged to live in the vicinity,
who was the person the teenager claimed he was going to
visit when, he said, he was set upon by Mr Milnes in an
unprovoked attack.

Despite this, the judge ruled it was the role of the jury
to decide upon which version of events to believe, although
he conceded: "I think it is a case where there were
deficiencies in the investigation."

Mr Justice Markey also referred to the failure by the
police to carry out a forensic examination, which, he said,
deprived the defendant of showing whether there was fibres,
fingerprints or blood in the car.

"If that had been found it would go a long way to undermine
Gerard Pickering's account and credibility because it would
place him in the car," he said.

"More importantly, blood on the seat or in the car would
indicate he had been injured before he got in and was
already bearing the injuries."

A PSNI spokeswoman said the police will examine carefully
the points raised by the judge.


Emotional Scenes As Three Year Nightmare Ends In Court

By Lisa Smyth
04 April 2006

A west Belfast man cleared of causing grievous bodily harm
to a teenager he believed was trying to steal his former
girlfriend's car last night said the case should never have
gone to court.

It took less than 30 minutes for the jury at Craigavon
Crown Court to unanimously acquit Kieran Milnes, (29), of
Oakman Street, of attacking 15-year-old Sean Gerard
Pickering with a hammer in November 2002.

There were emotional scenes inside the court as the foreman
of the jury read not guilty verdict. It brought to an end a
three-year nightmare for Mr Milnes, who was originally
ordered to serve nine months for the offence last year.

However, after serving two months of the sentence, Milnes'
conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal, which
ordered a retrial. The jury rejected prosecution claims
that Pickering sustained a fractured skull in an unprovoked
hammer attack carried out by Mr Milnes.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph moments after he was
acquitted, Mr Milnes said: "You'll forgive me if I'm not
jumping for joy. Don't get me wrong, I'm really pleased,
but it should never have been brought to court.

"I haven't been able to get employment since this all
started so I'm going to concentrate on getting a job after
I have spent some time with my family and girlfriend."

During the trial, the judge criticised the police handling
of the investigation after it emerged officers did not
carry out a forensic examination of the car and a
screwdriver said to have been found at the scene was then

Mr Milnes continued: "I'm not slamming the police. I know
they have a hell of a job to do in Poleglass and Twinbrook
and I congratulate them for what they do, but
unfortunately, they didn't carry out their duties to the
full on that night."

Mr Milnes always maintained he discovered the teenager
inside his former girlfriend's car and that he pulled him
out of the vehicle and restrained him until police arrived.

And he said he would take the same action again if he felt
it was necessary.


Victim's family eye Europe

Relatives Of Man Killed By Loyalists Want Public Probe

By Michael McHugh
04 April 2006

The family of loyalist murder victim Seamus Ludlow may take
their campaign for a public inquiry to the European courts,
the Belfast Telegraph learned today.

The possible move follows the failure of an Irish
parliamentary committee which investigated the matter to
recommend a public tribunal.

However, taking the matter to the Court of Human Rights in
Strasbourg would be fraught with difficulty and could take
some years.

Mr Ludlow (47), a Dundalk labourer, was picked up on his
way home from a pub in the town in May 1976, allegedly by
four north Down loyalists, and was shot dead close to his

A sub-committee of the Oireachtas' Justice Committee
recommended an alternative inquiry to a public hearing -
one not acceptable to relatives of Mr Ludlow.

"This is one area that we will be having a look at. It has
been mentioned as one way in which we can challenge it," Mr
Ludlow's nephew Jimmy Sharkey said.

"There may be other routes because it could take some time
and some members of the family may be unhappy with that.

"It is something which we need to talk about with our
lawyer but it is certainly one possibility."

The committee recommended a Commission of Investigation
held behind closed doors, a mechanism not acceptable to

The Dublin/Monaghan bombings by loyalists in 1974 have been
compared to the Ludlow case because they also involve the
suspicion of collusion and there are concerns about how
police investigated both cases.

Two of the suspected killers of Mr Ludlow were UDR members,
as well as Red Hand Commando gunmen.

Campaigners for the Dublin/Monaghan families failed in
their bid to have the matter considered in Strasbourg but
Jane Winter from British/Irish Rights Watch said the family
could have a strong case.

"I would be very surprised if the Ludlow families were not
considering going to Europe at the minute," she said.

"One of the very sad things around this case is that many
members of the family are very elderly now and they don't
have years and years to spend going to Europe but that may
be the only way to get justice.

"The Council of Ministers in Europe has had the UK in the
dock since 2001 over not providing an effective inquiry and
you would think you could argue something similar against
the Republic."


Woman Questioned Over £26m Raid

A 40-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with
the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery.

A police spokeswoman said the woman had been arrested in
County Tyrone on Tuesday morning.

The woman, from the Coalisland area, has been taken to
Antrim PSNI station for questioning by detectives
investigating the raid.

Millions of pounds was taken from the bank's Belfast
headquarters in December 2004 in a robbery blamed on the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/04 12:08:52 GMT


Court Adjourns IRA Money-Laundering Case

The trial of a Co Cork chef arrested as part of a Garda
investigation into IRA money laundering has been further
adjourned until next month by the Special Criminal Court in

Don Bullman (31), a father of two, from Fernwood Crescent,
Leghanamore, Wilton, was charged with membership of an
illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican
Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA, on
February 16th, 2005.

He was arrested at Heuston Station in Dublin in a Northern-
registered 4x4 after gardaí found a hold-all containing
over €94,000 wrapped up in three individual bundles. The
wads of cash were hidden in a washing powder box tucked
inside the bag.

His trial was originally fixed for March 22nd but was
adjourned last month after the court was told that
extensive documentation had been received by the defence
including hand-written documents and CCTV footage.

The court remanded Mr Bullman on continuing bail until May
3rd next when the case will be mentioned again.

During a bail hearing last year the court was told Mr
Bullman was "a central individual" to the activities of the
IRA prior to February 16th, 2005, and that activity was "a
money-laundering operation for the IRA, in which he is

Mr Bullman's arrest followed days of Garda raids in
connection with a cross-Border operation to hunt down the
millions of pounds stolen in the Northern Bank heist in
Belfast in December 2004.

© The Irish Times/


Man Jailed Over IRA Base Bombing

A Northern Ireland man has been sentenced to six years in
prison by a German court over an IRA bomb attack on a
British army base in Germany in 1989.

The court said it was clear Leonard Joseph Hardy, 45, from
Antrim, took part in the bombing of the Quebec barracks in

Prosecutors told the court, in Celle, that Hardy had
"intended to kill as many British soldiers as possible".

He had pleaded guilty to attempted murder and preparing a
bomb attack.

A total of 120 kilos (265 Ibs) of Semtex explosives was
planted at the barracks, but the bombs were discovered at
the last minute when a civilian employee surprised two of
the suspected attackers.

One bomb exploded, causing extensive damage, but there were
no casualties.

Hardy was arrested in the Spanish resort of Torremolinos in
August, but was released and fled to the Republic of
Ireland. He turned himself in to German authorities in

Four accomplices were sentenced to jail sentences of up to
12 years in 1995.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/04 10:32:30 GMT


Loyalist Areas Getting £33m Boost

A £33m injection for improving health and education
provisions in deprived loyalist areas of inner city Belfast
has been announced by the government.

The lower Newtownards Road, Shankill, Crumlin Road and
Oldpark areas will receive a share of the money, Social
Development Minister David Hanson said.

He said previous attempts to tacke deprivation had "not
always had the same impact in many Protestant areas".

Improving educational achievement is one of the key goals.

A new fast track initiative is being launched to encourage
young people to stay on in education and training after the
age of 16.

A £3m areas of risk programme, initially focusing on 10
pilot areas, will also be launched.

Separately from the schemes, Mr Hanson announced that the
Department of Employment and Learning would build a new
£13.5m Workforce and Economic Development Centre in the
Springvale area of west Belfast.

It will provide outreach programmes across Belfast to
ensure training opportunities are widely known and widely
accessed by all.

"Failure to tackle disadvantage is not simply a question of
additional resources," Mr Hanson said.

"It is clear that efforts to tackle disadvantage need to
become more focused, developing strategies that are
relevant to the particular needs of communities and
considering carefully whether current spending is being
used to maximum effect."

The Renewing Communities action plan is based on the report
of a taskforce which examined claims within the
Protestant/unionist community that they had lost out to
nationalists in improvement programmes since the signing of
the Good Friday Agreement.

Studies showed that of the 15 electoral wards in Northern
Ireland with the worst educational attainment, 13 are
predominantly Protestant.

Unveiling some 60 measures aimed at improving education,
health care and housing, Mr Hanson said the government
"believes in a fair and inclusive society".

Ridding communities of the influence of paramilitaries
would be central to the project, the minister said.

"At the same time we will be helping those who want to move
away from violence to find a more respectable role in
society," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/04 09:59:30 GMT


Remembering IRA Volunteer Gerard Casey/Still Looking For

In October 1988 Gerard Casey's home in Rasharkin was raided
by the RUC (Northern Ireland police). While there they
removed a legally held shotgun and sketched an internal map
of the home before taking him off to Castlereagh. On April
4th 1989 loyalists entered the home and shot dead Gerard
Casey as he slept with his wife.

There was a strategy to murder family members of
republicans as well as murdering republicans and
nationalists. Charlie and Teresa Fox, Sean and Martin
Lavery, Kevin and Jack McKearney were also killed in the
reign of terror, which knew no bounds - the list is
endless. The tactic often used throughout the 70's against
an entire community was now being concentrated on
republican families. Many lived under direct threat
learning that their personal details were in the possession
of loyalists.

In all of these killings South African weapons imported by
British army agent Brian Nelson were used. Thousands of
RUC/British army 'P' cards (personal details) went
'missing'. Restriction orders prohibiting any regular
'police and army' presence in the vicinity of some murders
and attacks were issued. Those under threat were denied
adequate security measures by the NIO on the advice of the
RUC. Special Branch was behind every choreographed move.

On August 7th 1994 wife and mother of four young children,
Kathleen O'Hagan, was shot dead in her home as loyalists
smashed their way in, Kathleen was seven months pregnant.
Her husband Paddy returned home to find his children
huddled against their mother's body. Paddy O' Hagan was a
former republican prisoner.

In many of these incidents there was no proper
investigation to apprehend the culprits. The RUC attempted
to put distance between themselves and the loyalists much
in the same way they did concerning 'C' Company of the UDA
during the Nelson trial. The RUC even abandoned its former
policy of immediately issuing the forensic and ballistic
history of guns and bombs used in loyalist attacks because
they were traceable to the weapons imported by Nelson. And
of course the authorities talked about 'arrests' but in
many of the cases where there is clear evidence of
collusion there is also an excessively high failure rate of
arrest, prosecution and conviction. Those loyalists
arrested had no idea of the origins of their weaponry or
information or of exactly who was pulling the strings. As
the saying goes the gunmen were a dime a dozen and
expendable. Relatives are more interested in those who
pulled the strings.

The following two reports were sent to me by a contact in
Northern Ireland.

Fresh Calls for Independent Inquiry as Rasharkin remembers
IRA Volunteer

For Immediate Release: 03/04/2006

Republicans from across North Antrim were in Rasharkin this
weekend for a very successful series of events organised to
commemorate the life of local IRA Volunteer, Gerard Casey.
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay opened the
weekend’s events by chairing the 2nd Annual Gerard Casey
Memorial Lecture that was held in the village on Friday
night. He started proceedings by reiterating the need for
an independent investigation into Gerard’s death.

Cllr McKay said:

“This weekend will not only be about celebrating the life
of Óglach Gerard Casey and the sacrifices he made for his
country and his community, it is also about highlighting
the circumstances of his death, the fact that he was set up
by members of the RUC and the fact that a full and wholly
independent investigation has yet to be launched into the
circumstances of his death.”

Just prior to Gerard’s murder the RUC raided the Rasharkin
man’s home, drew a sketch of the outlay of his house and
told him that he would be killed. After loyalists broke
into his home and shot him dead his family were left in no
doubt about who had set him up.

The Guest Speakers at this year’s lecture were Brendan
Lynch and Paul McGlinchey, who spoke of their time as
Blanketmen in Long Kesh and their experiences of the 1981
Hunger Strike.

They spoke in great detail about the camaraderie that
existed at that time in the prisons and how the bondage
that developed and existed between those on the blanket was
something they had never experienced before or since and
how this made it much more difficult to adjust to life
outside the jail when they were released.

Both men spoke of the humiliation, the beatings and
inhumane conditions they had to live through and how
friendship, bravery and the personal sacrifices made by
their comrades helped get them through the worst of these

Paul spoke of the great respect he had for Francis Hughes,
a fellow Bellaghy man, and how his bravery and leadership
inspired other POWs who were on the blanket at that time,
“His courage and selflessness that made him such a legend
in areas like South Derry & North Antrim where he operated,
was just as evident when he was on the blanket.” Paul
continued to talk about the other hunger-strikers and
related to the audience the great personalities that they
were and how they influenced the other prisoners not only
through their bravery but also their sense of humour. He
recalled how Martin Hurson had adopted the name
‘Arrachtach’, “His fellow comrades, with our blanketman
sense of humour, had told him that this was his name in
Irish. The name is of course Irish for ‘monstrosity’,
something that we felt we had to tell him after he joined
the hunger-strike. He was a bit angry at first, but then
laughed it off and said that he would be proud to keep the
name his comrades gave him.”

Brendan Lynch said that it was important for older
republicans to realise that there is now an enormous amount
of young people who consider themselves as republicans, and
that it was important to ensure that they are educated and
made aware of the Hunger-Strike during this year’s
Celebration of their lives.

After the lecture had concluded there ensued a lively
Question and Answer session and young and old alike
addressed the 2 men with a variety of questions. In
response to one question Paul McGlinchey criticised Richard
O’Rawe for making spurilous claims last year in an effort
to gain publicity to sell his book.

“The hunger-strikers controlled their destiny, not the IRA
as O’Rawe claimed. The very fact these men broke Army
orders and embarked on hunger strike showed how courageous
and farsighted they were in their thinking that no one must
be allowed to criminalise our struggle for justice, peace,
equality and freedom.

“The responsibility of the deaths of the Hunger Strikers
lies with no one but the British Government, who created
the conditions to allow it to happen.”

After 2 hours of debate the talk drew to a close with
everybody commenting on how insightful an event it had

On Sunday hundreds of republicans gathered in Rasharkin for
Gerard Casey’s Annual Commemoration. Local people also
remembered Gerard’s brother, Liam Casey, who was also a
Volunteer and who had died in tragic circumstances.

On what turned out to be a glorious day, local Sinn Féin
Councillor Daithí McKay welcomed the crowd who had gathered
from Counties Antrim, Derry, Tyrone and Donegal to attend
the event.

Ógra Shinn Féin (Sinn Féin Youth) were the first to speak.
Local Representative Laoi Áine Ní Pheacoig said:

“Gerard was a joiner by trade and also a talented
footballer for Rasharkin. He had an active interest in GAA,
which you would call ‘the norm’ for most Irish people.
However Gerard stood out as a volunteer soldier of the
North Antrim Brigade of Óglaigh na hÉireann. Gerard like so
many others had seen enough of discrimination, imperialism
and oppression and pledged to fight back. Gerard Casey
served the community of Rasharkin well whether that was
lining up alongside his teammates on the football field or
lining up alongside his comrades in Óglaigh na hÉireann on
the battlefield. Indeed the community here in Rasharkin and
North Antrim are proud of and will never forget his

“Gerard was killed by a British funded policy of collusion
in the north of Ireland. The British colluded with loyalist
murder gangs to murder anyone who opposed British
interference in Irish affairs.

“A few months before Gerard’s murder, Councillor ‘Big’ John
Davey, who also had strong links with Rasharkin, was
murdered in the County Derry village of Gulladuff, not too
far from we are gathered here today. Indeed this area had
the reputation as a murder triangle, which has seen a large
number of British state sponsored executions.

“I’m of the generation who were not born when Bobby Sands,
Mairead Farrell and Gerard Casey gave their lives for Irish
freedom. But I am spurred on by their selfless courage and
determination and I recommit myself here today to the
republican objectives, which they gave up their lives to
pursue. I urge others to do likewise

“It is my belief that the policy of collusion, which
claimed the life of Vol. Gerard Casey, will not be ended in
Ireland until we establish a 32 county republic in Ireland
free from British rule.

“As an Irish republican youth I am prepared to do my bit
for the freedom of my country. Padraig Pearse didn’t have
to do what he did, Bobby Sands didn’t have to do what he
did, Mairead Farrell didn’t need to make the stand she did,
and likewise neither did Gerard Casey. But they stood up
brave and noble and fought against imperialism and
discrimination and fought bravely for the freedom of our

“If this struggle is to succeed we need the involvement of
many more people. In the prevailing circumstances of today
you may not be asked to make the sacrifice which Gerard
Casey made seventeen years ago but your contribution to the
struggle is as important as ever. I urge you to join our
struggle. Everybody has a part to play.”

The Guest Speaker at Sunday’s Commemoration was West Tyrone
Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff. He spoke of how the Casey
family, like the Harte family in Tyrone and many others has
made a huge contribution and sacrifice for the republican
cause and that the republican community in areas like
Rasharkin will never forget that.

Mr McElduff, who is Sinn Féin’s All-Ireland spokesperson,
criticised the Irish Government for dragging their feet on
issues such as Presidential voting rights for Northern
citizens and Northern representation in the Dáil. He said
that the selection of the GAA All-Stars was a good example
of this, “Its astounding to think that of those footballers
being congratulated by President McAleese only 4 out of the
15 selected are allowed to vote in Presidential elections.
There are no excuses for the Irish Government continuing to
disrespect and ignore the rights of Irish citizens in the

He concluded by saying that the now rapid growth of Sinn
Féin in areas such as Ballymoney, Coleraine and Ballymena,
was “testament to republicans in North Antrim who had
defended this struggle during the most difficult times and

Speaking after the weekend, Rasharkin Sinn Féin Councillor
Daithí McKay said: "On behalf of the Gerard Casey Sinn Féin
Cumann Rasharkin, I would like to extend our gratitude to
everyone who took part and contributed to what was a very
fitting tribute to Óglach Gerard Casey.

"The message sent out by this weekend's events is that
there are more republicans in Rasharkin than ever before
and the massive crowds that continue to turn out for
republican events throughout North Antrim shows quite
clearly that republicanism is still continuing to grow
unabated in this area, as it is throughout the island."


LVF Victim's Dad Dies On Aid Trip

Father said he would see son again in heaven

By Claire Regan
04 April 2006

Michael McGoldrick, the forgiving father of a murdered
Catholic man and tireless charity worker, has died suddenly
while distributing aid in Moldova, it emerged today.

Tributes were paid this morning after the popular 64-year-
old passed away in hospital last night after recently
taking ill.

It is understood the Craigavon man fell sick while in the
eastern European country, which he visited with his United
Christian Aid charity every couple of months to distribute
aid, and underwent surgery yesterday. He died a short time

Mr McGoldrick and his wife Bridie founded United Christian
Aid in Craigavon in the wake of the death of their only
child, 31-year-old Michael, in July 1996.

The taxi driver was murdered during the Drumcree protest by
renegade members of the UVF who formed the LVF. Afterwards
Mr McGoldrick said that he forgave his son's killers.

Father Martin McAlinden, the McGoldrick family's parish
priest in St Anthony's Church, Moyraverty, confirmed the
peace campaigner had died.

"Michael was a very humble man and well-known for his work
in this parish," he said.

"He went to Moldova every six or seven weeks. Basically,
people here pledged money to him every month and he went
over and made sure it got to the people who needed it most.

"Sometimes he brought over money and sometimes it was
things like toothpaste and clothes - anything that would
help the people. He did a lot of good for children and
orphanages in particular."

Fr McAlinden said the charity work became Mr McGoldrick's
vocation after his son was murdered.

"He loved to go - it was his life. He often said that while
he lost his son, he had gained thousands of children
through his work and he loved that."

Craigavon independent councillor, Kieran Corr, who has
known the McGoldrick family for a long time, said he was
stunned by the news.

"My heart goes out to Bridie and the entire family. I just
can't take it in," he said.

"Michael is held in very high esteem. He and Bridie are an
inspiration to so many people. He really was the true
meaning of being a Christian.

"He will be badly missed by both the people of Craigavon
and Moldova who he worked so hard for.

"He put his life on the line by going into many of the
areas he did. But it was a vocation to him."

It is understood Mr McGoldrick was in Moldova, Europe's
poorest country, with Tom Lennon, who runs United Christian
Aid in the Republic, when he fell ill.

United Christian Aid is the charity Michael credited with
bringing him back from the brink after his son's terrible
death, and of giving his life meaning.

Speaking of the work he carried out in Moldova once, Mr
McGoldrick admitted that had it not been for his son's
death, he might not have been involved.

"I was a Christian before, but not a fully-fledged one.
After Michael's death, I had a conversion. Before they put
the lid on my son's coffin, I put my two hands on top of
his and said, 'Goodbye, I'll see you in heaven'.

"From that moment my whole life changed. I realised then
how much evil there was in Northern Ireland, and I wanted
to turn my life into something good, something positive."


Teen Killed, 30 Injured In Offaly Crash

04/04/2006 - 11:04:24

Gardaí have confirmed that a 15-year-old boy has died and
30 people have been injured in a school bus crash in Co

Ten of the injured have been described as seriously ill and
more than 20 others have been termed ‘"walking wounded",
suffering from cuts and bruises.

The injured, who are aged between 15 and 17 years old, have
been taken to hospitals in Tullamore and Mullingar in a
fleet of 10 ambulances.

Clinics at Tullamore Regional Hospital have been suspended
and counselling has been provided to students and parents,
according to the Health Service Executive.

The accident occurred when the bus overturned on the bog
road between Clara and Rahan road shortly before 9am.


Crowe Expresses Shock And Sadness At Co. Offaly School Bus

Published: 4 April, 2006

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Seán Crowe TD, has
expressed shock and sadness at the tragic school bus
accident in which a fifteen year old boy was tragically
killed today in County Offaly.

Deputy Crowe said, "It was with tremendous shock and
sadness that I learned of this latest tragedy on our roads.
I would like to express my sincere condolences to the
family and friends of the young boy killed in today's
tragic accident and to wish a full and speedy recovery to
all the other injured children.

"I would call on the Government to make the fullest
possible supports both physical and emotional available to
all those involved. I would also call for an immediate
investigation to find the causes of the accident and to
ascertain, what measures and procedures recommended
following last years fatal school bus crash in Meath, which
left five dead, have actually been implemented and if the
process needs to be speeded up." ENDS


State To Review Same-Sex Unions

Carl O'Brien, Social Affairs Correspondent

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said yesterday that a range of civil
union options for gay and lesbian couples will be examined
by the Government later this year.

While he did not say whether legislation would be published
in the lifetime of the Government, he said the Coalition
was "unequivocally in favour of treating gay and lesbian
people as fully equal citizens in our society".

Mr Ahern was speaking at the official opening of new
offices for the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen), in
what organisers said was the first official launch of a gay
and lesbian project.

The Taoiseach said legislating for civil partnerships was
"complex and challenging" and would need to be consistent
with the Constitution. "Legislating for civil partnerships
requires thinking through a host of related matters. The
British Civil Partnership Act (2004) has 264 sections and
30 schedules. Moreover, our written Constitution gives rise
to complexities that did not arise in the British case," he

"This challenge, however, is one that the Government is
determined to meet. We are committed to legislating on this

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell had established a
working group on domestic partnership chaired by Anne
Colley, which includes Government officials and members of
Glen, and was due to report by October this year, Mr Ahern

It will provide an analysis of categories of partnerships
and relationships outside marriage to which legal effect
and recognition may be given. As well as this, it will
identify options over the extent to which legal recognition
may be given to alternative forms of partnership, including
those entered into outside the State.

The deliberations of the Oireachtas Committee report on the
Constitution and the Law Reform Commission will inform the
work of the group, as will a report being prepared by the
Human Rights Commission on protections under international
law for unmarried couples.

Kieran Rose, chair of Glen, said gay law reform and
equality legislation meant there was now a young generation
of gay and lesbian people who had no memory of being
criminalised and took the equality framework for granted.

"These young gay people, like their heterosexual peers,
have high expectations for themselves and their society and
see no reason why their horizons should be limited," he

Mr Rose said there was no reason why Ireland should not aim
to become the sixth country in the world to provide for
civil marriage for lesbians and gay men.

"Of course, we welcome progress towards that goal," he

Mr Rose said research showed that the most successful
places were those that were open and inclusive, as they
were able to generate and attract a pool of creative and
talented people.

As a result, Glen intended to develop an initiative about
employers valuing and benefiting from diversity.

© The Irish Times


Bitter March Goes Down On Record

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Last month saw some of the coldest March days in Ireland
since records began.

Only four times previously - in 1962, 1965, 1986 and 2001 -
have air temperatures in March fallen below the minus 7.8
degrees Celsius recorded in Birr, Co Offaly, on March 3rd.
The ground temperature of minus 16 degrees noted in Birr on
the same day was the lowest since the station opened in
1954, according to Met Éireann's monthly weather summary.

"It's a long time since I saw air and ground temperatures
that low," said forecaster Aidan Nulty. "I've been working
here for 27 years and I've never seen ground temperatures
that low."

As well as being exceptionally cold, last month was also
the wettest and dullest March for more than five years in
most parts of Ireland.

Most parts have not seen a wetter March for between eight
and 18 years, although the number of wet days (those with
1mm or more rainfall) was in the normal range for March.
The highest daily rainfall of 27.4mm was recorded at
Valentia Observatory on March 26th.

There were fewer sunny days than usual, too, making it the
dullest March for between six and eight years.

An Arctic airstream which covered Ireland in the early part
of the month brought severe frost and widespread snowfalls.
The latter part of the month was more unsettled everywhere,
with rain or heavy showers developing regularly.

Met Éireann said there was one reported tornado last month.
It struck at Bailieborough, Co Cavan, last Friday, damaging
several houses and cutting the power supply to hundreds of
homes. A second tornado was reported in Co Meath last
Saturday, April 1st.

"It seems tornadoes are becoming more usual in Ireland,"
said Mr Nulty. "They're quite isolated and short-lived, but
they do seem to be getting reported more."

© The Irish Times


Dark Days For Irish Fishermen


Two recent tragedies have compounded pressures on the
fishing community, which is looking to immigrants to crew
trawlers, writes Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

Glen Cott, Krzysztof Pawtowski and Jan Sankowski weren't
planning to stay at sea for long when they set out in the
15-metre Maggie B off the south-east coast a week ago. The
trio had been fishing together for a couple of months, and
this was their first exploratory trip on the vessel which
had been purchased by colleagues of Cott, the Walsh
brothers, in east Cork's Ballycotton.

The vessel was fitted with beam trawl gear. Dutch and
Belgian fleets pioneered the technique using trawls
suspended from a vessel's beam, rather than stern. Although
beaming is regarded as both hazardous and environmentally
insensitive, due to the risk of snagging trawls on the
seabed, the method is very effective in catching highly
priced flatfish.

However Cott, the son of a fisherman, would have known that
it takes some practice, and his main focus would have been
on testing the gear when he and his Polish crew ran into
trouble late on Wednesday night. South-west winds veering
south-east and spring tides had whipped up considerable
turbulence in the Waterford estuary.

Krzysztof Pawtowski, who survived without a life jacket or
survival suit in six-degree temperatures by inflating the
boat's life raft and clinging to it, was reported to have
said that the vessel sank in minutes some 8.6 km south of
Hook Head. He was plucked from the water by the Dunmore
East lifeboat just 51 minutes after the emergency was
raised by the boat's skipper. Neither Cott nor Sankowski
were so fortunate.

The Maggie B was a 17-year old Dutch-built steel vessel
which capsized off the British coast in 1993 when then
registered as Gilsea. It was refurbished when brought into
Ireland several years ago. However, it is understood that
the registration and safety equipment checks undertaken on
the vessel in February did not include a full survey.

The sinking occurred on one of the most hazardous areas of
the Irish coastline, just four months after the loss of the
eight-metre lobster boat, Rising Sun, off the Saltee
islands. Like the Maggie B, the Rising Sun lost two crew -
skipper Pat Colfer and Jimmy Meyler. Both vessels went down
in some 50 metres of water.

The Rising Sun tragedy claimed a third life when New Ross
diver Billy O'Connor, a former vice-president of the Irish
Underwater Council, died on his return from a dive on the
wreck of the boat. The vessel was subsequently salvaged but
damaged during the lift, and there was no sign of the
skipper's body on board.

There is, as Irish Fishermen's Organisation Joe Maddock
says, a combination of "both sorrow and anger" prevailing
in the south-east region. He is aware of the depth of that
anger in relation to the Rising Sun, sparked off by a delay
in despatching Naval Service divers to the wreck. This
delay influenced O'Connor's decision to dive with partner
Harry Hannon to search for Colfer.

Questions relating to the State's response and relating
also to the subsequent salvage of the Rising Sun may be
addressed only in part by the Marine Casualty Investigation
Board. However, Maddock believes that "people appreciated
the work done by the State agencies", and notes that "the
State can be easily picked on when one doesn't see instant

Compounding that sense of grief and hurt has been the
pressure on the fishing industry at a time of reduced
quotas and rising fuel prices - the sort of economic
pressures which force many skippers of smaller, older
vessels to stay out fishing long after forecasts tell them
it is time to return to port.

Some eight years after initiating a €100 million whitefish
renewal programme, the Government has introduced a €45
million decommissioning scheme this year to remove some 25
per cent of the whitefish fleet, albeit applicable only to
vessels of a certain age.

A recent case study of west Kerry noted that a significant
portion of fish landings to Kerry ports are now made by
non-Irish vessels. Under the revised Common Fisheries
Policy (CFP), the Naval Service has little information to
allow for adequate monitoring of non-Irish vessels.

The increasing number of "new Irish" employed in the
industry is also symptomatic of shrinking margins, and the
perceived lack of any real future in the sector for the
sons and daughters of traditional fishing families. Bord
Iascaigh Mhara has no figures for the number of non-
nationals working as crew, but recruitment from eastern
European states became a significant trend several years
before EU enlargement.

Jason Whooley of the Irish South and West Fishermen's
Organisation believes that Ireland's failure to make the
most of some of Europe's richest fishing grounds, the
recent rows over new illegal fishing legislation and what
he sees as "negative spin" about the sector propagated by
Minister for Marine Noel Dempsey, are all due to a lack of
any Government policy. Such a "long-term strategic" policy
was promised in the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats
programme for government after the 2002 general election.

Industry representatives say that Dempsey's comments in the
Dáil and Seanad on the recent Sea Fisheries and Maritime
Jurisdiction Bill have revealed a fundamental
misunderstanding of the flawed nature of the CFP - and
amnesia about the coalition's lobbying of the European
Commission over the supertrawler, Atlantic Dawn.

The recent report to Government on decommissioning by
former IDA chief executive Padraic White had pointed to a
"volatile economic and financial environment" in which the
industry was operating, and "an underlying temptation"
therefore to "exceed fishing restrictions". All that in an
unrelentingly harsh environment which few politicians have
any real experience of, or empathy with.

© The Irish Times


Ireland May Need Nuclear Power - Forfás

04 April 2006 12:57

The State agency, Forfás, has warned Ireland will face a
liquid fuel crisis in the next ten to 15 years and may have
to develop a nuclear power station to supply its
electricity needs.

Forfás, which advises the Government on the enterprise,
trade and innovation matters, has said that Ireland is now
more heavily dependent on imported oil for our energy
requirements than almost every other European country.

In a new report, the agency warned that the world is
approaching a point termed 'Peak Oil', where global oil
production can no longer be increased.

This will cause very rapid increases in oil prices and
Ireland, according to the report, is one of the most
vulnerable countries in the world to the crisis that would

It warns that a sudden and more imminent onset of 'Peak
Oil' could require the suspension of the Ireland's Kyoto
environmental targets, because we would become more reliant
on carbon intensive fuels like coal, gas, and peat.

Forfas is also calling for the implementation of the
National Spatial Strategy in preparation for 'Peak Oil',
because current spatial patterns militate against the
development of an efficient and effective public transport

The report says that Ireland is now using 50% more oil per
person than in 1990 and that we are the sixth most
dependent on oil for electricity generation out of 25
European Countries.

Irish oil consumption 50% above EU average

It also points out that despite Ireland having considerable
fewer cars per capita than the EU average we still consume
50% more oil per capita for transportation than the
European average.

This is because Irish people use their cars more
intensively than other Europeans due to longer commuting
distances, and poor public transport facilities.

Forfás also notes that Ireland is very heavily dependent on
road haulage for goods.

The amount of goods transported by road doubled here in the
seven years between 1995 and 2002 while goods transported
by rail fell by 28%.

There was also far stronger growth in air travel in Ireland
than elsewhere in the EU between 1990 and 2002 and this has
also increased our dependency on imported oil.

Forfás says it will take up to 10 years to significantly
reduce Ireland's dependence on imported oil.

They are calling for the greater use of fuel-efficient
vehicles, greater investment in public transport with
electrified trams, buses and trains, and for the use of
bio-fuels in transportation to be investigated.

Forfás is also calling for the continued operation of
Moneypoint, Ireland's only coal-fired power station, as
well as the development of new coal-fuelled powered
stations in the future.

It also says that the Government may have to consider the
development of a small-scale nuclear power station in the

In addition the report calls for greater use of renewable
energy sources such as wind, wave, biomass and tidal

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