- Name: Jay Dooling
- Irish Aires Home Page
- IA Houston Links
- IA Links Page
- IA News Links
- Irish Aires Archived
- IA Email Lists
- Irish Aires Blog
- October 2004
- November 2004
- December 2004
- January 2005
- February 2005
- March 2005
- April 2005
- May 2005
- June 2005
- July 2005
- August 2005
- September 2005
- October 2005
- November 2005
- December 2005
- January 2006
- February 2006
- March 2006
- April 2006
- May 2006
- June 2006
- July 2006
- August 2006
- September 2006
- October 2006
- November 2006
- December 2006
- January 2007
- February 2007
- March 2007
- April 2007
- May 2007
- June 2007
- August 2007
- September 2007
- October 2007
- November 2007
- December 2007
- January 2008
- February 2008
- March 2008
- April 2008
- May 2008
- June 2008
- July 2008
- November 2008
- December 2008
- February 2009
- April 2009
- May 2009
- January 2010
- April 2011
- May 2011
- June 2011
- July 2011
- August 2011
- February 2012
News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
May 21, 2006
Death of Richard McIlkenny of Birmingham 6
To Index of Monthly Archives
To May Index
To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste http://irishaires.blogspot.com/atom.xml into a News Reader)
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
News About Ireland & The Irish
IT 05/22/06 Death In Dublin Of Richard McIlkenny Of Birmingham Six
SF 05/21/06 Adams Sets Out SF Plan To Elect 1st & Deputy Ministers
BB 05/21/06 DUP To Reject First Minister Vote
SF 05/21/06 Demands For Truth For Those Killed Because Of Collusion
BB 05/21/06 Parade Body 'Should Be Re-Formed'
ST 05/21/06 Devolution Committee To Be Formed
SL 05/21/06 Alliance In Sinn Fein Or Unionist Lord Mayor Dilemma
BN 05/21/06 Empey Confirms Talks On Strengthening Position
SL 05/21/06 I Understand Reg's Decision Says Trimble
SL 05/21/06 Paisley Criticised Over Refusal To Meet Father
BT 05/20/06 Jean McBride To Meet US Officials
DF 05/21/06 Immigration Activists Organize For Face-To-Face Lobbying
IP 05/21/06 INA Members Left San Diego With Renewed Confidence
SL 05/21/06 Frazer To Pursue Border Fox Case
SL 05/21/06 Scap Spied At Seaside Resort
SC 05/21/06 First Minister Visiting Northern Ireland
BB 05/21/06 Police Attacked By Stone Throwers
SL 05/21/06 Opin: Lynda Gilby - Straight Talking
SL 05/21/06 Anatomy Of A £26.5m Heist
WG 05/21/06 Black 47's Larry Kirwan
BN 05/21/06 Prof McAleese To Be Conferred With Notre Dame Degree
IM 05/21/06 Review Of "Ruairí Ó Brádaigh: Life Of A Revolutionary."
Death In Dublin Of Richard McIlkenny Of Birmingham Six
Richard McIlkenny, who was falsely imprisoned for 16 years
with five other men who became known as the Birmingham Six,
has died in hospital in Dublin after a long illness. He was
73 and is understood to have been battling cancer for some
A spokeswoman for Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown,
confirmed that Mr McIlkenny died yesterday afternoon with
his family at his bedside.
Mr McIlkenny came from Belfast and joined the Army in 1952.
After serving for four years, he emigrated to England and
was employed as a factory worker in towns in the north of
He was living in Birmingham when he was detained by Special
Branch detectives in November 1974, following the bombing
of two pubs in the British midlands city. Twenty-one people
died and 162 people were injured in the blasts.
After being interrogated by police for three days, he
signed a false confession in which he admitted to bombing
the pubs. In August 1975 he was sentenced to life in prison
along with Patrick Hill, Gerry Hunter, Hugh Callaghan,
Billy Power and Johnny Walker.
All six were denied leave to appeal and had to wait until
1987, when new evidence emerged, for their case to be
referred to the Court of Appeal. This appeal was rejected.
In 1991 their convictions were overturned, after 16 years
in jail, following a long campaign for justice here and in
Mr McIlkenny is understood to have returned to live in
Maynooth, Co Kildare, with his wife.
At the time of their release, the men held an impromptu
press conference outside the Old Bailey where they
expressed their anger at their imprisonment for crimes they
did not commit. Mr McIlkenny was the first to speak.
"We've waited a long time for this, 16 years, because of
hypocrisy and brutality," he said. "But every dog has its
day and we're going to have ours."
He is survived by his wife Kathleen, his daughters and his
In an interview with The Irish Times in November 2004, one
of his co-accused, Johnny Walker, described how the men had
met two years earlier and felt that "the best thing to do
was to each get on with our own lives".
"I don't want to be known as 'Johnny Walker, Birmingham
Six', he said. "I just want to be known as Johnny Walker.
The rest of them felt the same way."
© The Irish Times
Gerry Adams Sets Out Sinn Fein Plan To Elect First And Deputy First Ministers
Published: 21 May, 2006
Speaking in advance of tommorrows effort to elect a first
and deputy first minister Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams
"Leadership means making difficult decisions. The
alternative means accepting the status quo. That includes
Sinn Féin believes that politicians, whatever the
differences, between us must do our utmost to prevent that.
Sectarianism must be tackled anderadicated. If it is not,
then like Michael McIlveen,more of our young people will
fall foul of it.
It is my firm view that leaders must lead by example. I
have never believed in the politics of condemnation. They
have delivered little and are no substitute for leadership.
This is the context for my decision to nominate Ian Paisley
as First Minister. It is intended to send a very clear and
positive signal to two elements of unionism. The first of
these is to political unionism and particularly the DUP.
If they want political power it has to be under the Good
Friday Agreement and on the basis of equality. That means
in government with Sinn Féin.
The second message is to wider unionist opinion. The
intention is to signal very clearly to them that despite
the difficulties involved and apprehension among some
sections of nationalism, Sinn Féin is prepared to accept
Ian Paisley as First Minister.
Some, including sections of the media have dismissed this
initiative as a stunt.
Others have expressed outrage. They appear to be equally
representative of both nationalist and unionist tendencies.
Despite this I believe it is the right thing to do and it
is my intention on Monday to proceed with nominating the
DUP leader and Martin McGuinness to the positions of First
and Deputy First Ministers respectively.
While Sinn Fein is deeply opposed to the policies and
politics of the DUP and mindful of their record, we
recognise and respect their electoral mandate. Ian Paisley
has the right to the post of First Minister under the terms
of the Good Friday Agreement.
It may be that Ian Paisley will refuse to accept a
nomination at this time. That is his choice. But as Sinn
Fein has said numerous times the only reason we are
participating in the Peter Hain Assembly is to get the
power sharing executive re-established.
This cannot happen without the First and Deputy First
Minister being nominated. If my motion on Monday is
unsuccessful we will seek to return to this business at the
earliest possible time.
Understandably there is a lot of scepticism about whether
Ian Paisley will ever lead his Democratic Unionist Party
into the Executive with the rest of us. I think everyone
who is committed to the Good Friday Agreement should
suspend our scepticism and make a good faith effort to get
the Executive up and running.
If Ian Paisley does not play his part then its over to the
two governments to get rid of the Assembly and to proceed
with all other aspects of the Agreement.
The best way forward however is with local politicians in
DUP To Reject First Minister Vote
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is expected to nominate Ian
Paisley as Northern Ireland's first minister amid efforts
to restore devolution.
Mr Paisley was entitled to the post of First Minister under
the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, said Mr Adams.
But the DUP leader has already made it clear that he will
refuse to accept Mr Adams's nomination.
Monday's vote will follow an address to Stormont assembly
members by Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell.
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain invited Mr McConnell
to Belfast to "highlight the benefits of devolution".
Speaking ahead of Monday's assembly session, Mr Adams said
he would nominate the DUP leader and Martin McGuinness to
the positions of first and deputy first ministers
"Ian Paisley has the right to the post of First Minister
under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement," he said.
"It may be that Ian Paisley will refuse to accept a
nomination at this time. That is his choice.
"But as Sinn Fein has said numerous times the only reason
we are participating in the 'Peter Hain Assembly' is to get
the power sharing executive re-established."
UUP leader Sir Reg Empey said that if the election for the
first and deputy first minister posts did not take place,
he hoped the assembly would be able to debate a motion on
Tuesday calling for the establishment of a committee for
the restoration of devolution.
"Tuesday represents a crucial day. The assembly could
establish a mechanism that will allow us to concentrate on
the main business which is to establish whether it is
possible to get devolution or not," he said.
"We understand that there are many social and economic
matters that we wish to debate, however none of that can
replace the fundamental duty on the assembly to focus on
the obstacles on the restoration of devolution."
No-one expects the vote on forming a power-sharing
government to go through, but under the new temporary rules
of this assembly, it will still be possible for the
politicians to debate other matters.
On 15 May, Northern Ireland's politicians took their seats
in the Stormont assembly for the first time since October
While there is no immediate prospect of a power-sharing
executive being formed, the government hopes recalling the
politicians will help to pave the way towards a deal in the
autumn, by its deadline of 24 November.
Devolved government was suspended over allegations of a
republican spy ring. The court case that followed
Direct rule from London was restored in October 2002 and
has been in place since.
Under the temporary rules, policy matters can be debated,
but laws cannot be made.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/22 02:53:26 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Morgan Calls On Government To Support Demands For Truth From Families Of Those Killed In 26 Counties As A Result Of Collusion
Published: 21 May, 2006
Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan speaking at the Martin 'Doco'
Doherty commemoration in Dublin today, Sunday 21st May,
said ‘it is time that the Irish government supports the
demands for truth from the families of those killed in the
26 Counties as a result of collusion between British forces
and unionist paramilitaries.’ Deputy Morgan said ‘is it any
wonder that the British continue to hamper the search for
the truth about the Dublin Monaghan bombings, the murder of
Seamus Ludlow or the murder of human rights lawyer Pat
Finucane when the Irish government have refused to
establish a public inquiry in their own jurisdiction.’
Today’s commemoration also remembered IRA Volunteer Raymond
McCreesh and INLA Volunteer Patsy O'Hara who died after 61
days on Hunger Strike on 21st May 1981.
Deputy Morgan said:
“Republicans gathered here in Dublin today to honour the
memory of IRA Volunteer Martin Doherty and also to mark the
deaths on hunger strike of IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh
and INLA Volunteer Patsy O’Hara who died this day 25 years
“IRA Volunteer Martin Doherty was killed by unionist
paramilitaries in an attempted bomb attack on the Widow
Scallons pub on Dublin's Pearse Street on the 21st May
1994. His courage, in confronting the UVF death squad
saved countless lives.
“To this day there remain many unanswered questions around
the murder of Martin Doherty - questions for the Gardaí,
this state and the British, with lingering suspicions that
the UVF, who claimed responsibility, did not act alone.
“Martin Doherty’s murder is not the only case where
questions have been raised. There are many examples of
British state collusion with unionist paramilitaries or
direct operations by British forces in which civilians were
killed in the 26 Counties, including the Dublin – Monaghan
bombings. Last week marked the 32nd anniversary of the
Dublin-Monaghan bombings and the families, through Justice
for the Forgotten, are still campaigning for the truth.
The ongoing refusal of the Irish government to establish a
full public inquiry into the Dublin Monaghan bombings is a
disgrace. Is it any wonder that the British continue to
hamper the search for truth or that they are refusing to
hold a public inquiry into the murder of human rights
lawyer Pat Finucane.
“Deep concerns have also been raised about the government’s
Tribunal of Inquiries Bill which gives the government
almost complete control over the direction of any tribunal
and severely limits the potential for such inquiries to
discover the full truth about the extent of British state
collusion with unionist paramilitaries in the 26 Counties.
“It is time for the truth about collusion between British
forces and unionist paramilitaries. It is time that there
was a spotlight on the lack of response by this state and
the failure to properly investigate such cases. It is time
for the Irish government to stand up for the rights of its
own citizens and to support their demands for justice.”ENDS
Parade Body 'Should Be Re-Formed'
The author of a government commissioned report reviewing
the Parades Commission has said it needs to be re-formed.
Sir George Quigley also criticised the NIO for appointing
two Orangemen to the body which "should be reconstituted".
He said those directly involved in the parades dispute
should not be on the decision-making body.
On Friday, the High Court ruled the appointments of David
Burrows and fellow Orangeman Don McKay were unlawful.
It said the appointments did not ensure membership of the
body represented both sides of the community.
Sir George told the BBC's Politics Show on Sunday: "My
feeling is, and certainly this was the conclusion of my
report, that one should not have on the body those who are
involved in the parades issue itself.
"You don't get over the difficulty by saying they will not
be involved in their own area.
"Because, so many of these dispute are inter-related - we
have the whole problem of feeder parades.
"I think you simply have got to get people of independence,
common-sense, able to analyse the case."
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he agreed with Sir George.
He said his party supported reform and a new approach and
he called for a balanced membership.
There were now no members of the DUP on the commission,
said Mr Donaldson.
Joe Duffy, a resident of the nationalist Garvaghy Road in
Portadown, went to the High Court last week seeking to
overturn the appointment of Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay.
Both Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay were members of the Portadown
Lodge of the Orange Order which has been at the centre of
the decade-long dispute surrounding their Drumcree parade.
Mr MacKay resigned from the commission earlier this week
after it emerged he had listed DUP MP David Simpson and
SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly as referees on his
application form without asking their permission.
Secretary of State Peter Hain said he would take legal
advice over the High Court judgement.
The Parades Commission was set up in by the government in
1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades
should be restricted.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/21 12:41:17 GMT
© BBC MMVI
The Sunday Times May 21, 2006
Devolution Committee To Be Formed
AN ALL-PARTY committee is likely to be established at
Stormont this week to examine what issues are preventing
the restoration of devolution.
A motion to establish the committee is set to be tabled on
Tuesday by Sir Reg Empey, the Ulster Unionist leader, after
the expected failure to elect a first minister and deputy.
The committee would have two members from each of the main
unionist and nationalist parties, and one from the
The SDLP is in favour of the idea, depending on the terms
of its remit. “It forms the basis through which all-party
participation could be achieved,” said Sean Farren, an SDLP
The DUP has also expressed interest while Sinn Fein says it
will support the proposal if the committee is given
sufficient substance. “The assembly needs to do a bit more
than provide occupational therapy for the MLAs,” a
Empey’s move follows dissent within his party over its
alliance with David Ervine, the leader of the Progressive
Unionist party, the political wing of the Ulster Volunteer
Force. Several leading members of the party expressed their
discomfort, including its MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon. Willie
Ross, a former East Londonderry MP, described it as a “very
foolish and damaging decision”.
Peter Bowles, a UUP official, said he could see no benefit
for the party and expressed his anger that there had been
so little consultation. Bowles is a councillor for a
constituency that includes Loughinisland, Co Down, where
the UVF killed six Catholics in a bar in 1994. “How do I
justify this decision to those constituents?” he said.
Hermon spoke of her “deep distress” over the decision but
added that if the deal helped bring an end to sectarian
murders, it would be worthwhile.
The PUP deal was backed by Lord Maginnis, who said that the
situation with loyalist paramilitaries could not continue.
“If we have to talk to get them involved in the political
process then we have to do it,” he said.
Alliance In Sinn Fein Or Unionist Lord Mayor Dilemma
By Joe Oliver
21 May 2006
The party that holds the balance of power on Belfast City
Council is facing a major dilemma over the election of a
new Lord Mayor.
The four Alliance Party members are being asked to back
Sinn Fein's nominated candidate - former IRA bomber, Caral
But they fear her appointment could be public relations
disaster with a Royal visit and other events scheduled
later this year to mark the centenary of the City Hall.
However, we can also reveal that they would have major
difficulties with an Ulster Unionist candidate following
the party's controversial alliance with PUP boss David
Mr Ervine represents the Pottinger ward on the council and
one member of the Alliance group told us:
"The credibility of the Ulster Unionist Party has been shot
"The IRA is on a recognised ceasefire, but the paramilitary
group which Mr Ervine represents is not.
"He will obviously be joining his new colleagues in the
council chamber, so the election of a member from that
party would be difficult to support."
The Alliance councillor added: "Talks involving the various
parties have taken place, but any final decision is
probably going to come very late in the day."
The DUP's Wallace Browne is due to step down from the
mayoral office when his term finishes at the end of the
The UUP will meet this week to select a candidate from
three-long standing councillors - Ian Adamson, Bob Stoker
and Jim Rodgers, who have all previously served as Lord
Sinn Fein members, having nominated councillor Ni Chuilin,
will argue that they are next in line for the top post.
The north Belfast councillor was jailed for nine years in
the 1980s for her part in a foiled Provo bomb plot to wipe
out RUC officers.
She served four years of her sentence for a string of
terrorist offences, including possession of explosives with
intent and membership of the IRA.
Meanwhile, the SDLP will also meet this week to select its
candidate. Carmel Hanna is understood to be among the
Empey Confirms Talks On Strengthening Position
20/05/2006 - 15:38:31
The leader of the Ulster Unionists has confirmed that his
party has been in touch with other assembly members about
further increasing the strength of the Ulster Unionist
group at Stormont.
But Reg Empey is refusing to identify which politicians
have been targeted.
Last week, PUP leader David Ervine joined the Ulster
Unionist block putting one of Sinn Féin's ministerial seats
Empey says elements within the British government are
opposed to his deal with Mr Ervine.
I Understand Reg's Decision Says Trimble
By Alan Murray
21 May 2006
Former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has backed his
successor's controversial decision to bring the PUP's David
Ervine into his party's Assembly grouping.
Lord Trimble said he was fully briefed about Sir Reg
Empey's decision last weekend and said he believed it was
the right thing to do.
"I understand and support his decision," he said yesterday.
"I wouldn't have been First Minister without the votes of
the PUP and the way Peter Hain has had the Standing Orders
written for this Assembly left Reg with very little room to
Sir Reg's decision came under fire from DUP leader Ian
Paisley, who claimed that by linking with the PUP, which
has ties to the UVF, the UUP were "allying" themselves with
Perhaps even more worrying for Sir Reg, the Ulster
Unionist's sole MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon spoke in the House
of Commons of her "deep distress" over the move.
But Lord Trimble said the UUP had had an understanding with
the Progressive Unionists for more than a decade and Sir
Reg's decision was in keeping with that.
"We've had an understanding, indeed a coalition, with David
Ervine, Billy Hutchinson and Hugh Smyth in the City Hall in
Belfast for 13 to 15 years for the very same reason, to
maximise the Unionist vote and bring advantage to the
"It's been of huge political benefit to us there and we
have benefited from it in the Assembly."
He added: "I was fully briefed about the decision last
weekend, as I believe were all senior members of the party,
and I fully understand and support Reg's decision", he
Paisley Criticised Over Refusal To Meet Father
By Stephen Breen
21 May 2006
Ian Paisley was last night criticised for refusing to meet
the father of a young girl sexually abused by a senior
member of the Free Presbyterian Church in Canada.
'John' (not his real name), a former church deacon,
travelled from Toronto last week in a bid to confront Dr
Paisley over why the offender was not kicked out of the
But the Free P church in Belfast defended the decision not
to meet the man, saying the matter was out of its
Spokesman the Rev David McIlveen said: "We have said all
along that this is a matter for the presbytery in North
America. Dr Paisley meets people from all over the world
and after considering the content of this request decided
not to accede to it.
"I imagine it was hard for him to comment on the situation
because he doesn't know anything about it."
But the father was angry he did not get the chance to meet
the DUP leader.
His daughter - now in her 20s and living in Co Armagh - was
13 when she was abused by Free P Sunday school teacher
Jeffrey Kruger in Toronto.
Kruger pleaded guilty to sexual interference and received a
year's house arrest and probation in 2003.
'John' said: "I'm very disappointed, the only thing I
wanted was a few minutes of Dr Paisley's time to tell him
about my daughter's case and the impact it has had on our
"The incident may have happened in Canada but Dr Paisley is
leader of the church, this is an issue which is of
relevance to him."
Jean McBride To Meet US Officials
By Marie Foy
20 May 2006
Belfast woman Jean McBride, whose son Peter was murdered by
two soldiers 13 years ago, is to speak to US government
Mrs McBride, along with a representative from the Pat
Finucane Centre, will meet US special envoy Mitchell Reiss
and consul general Dean Pitman.
They are objecting to a $$300m contract which the US
government has with a firm that co-ordinates private
security in Iraq.
The company, Aegis Defence Service, is headed by former Lt
Col Tim Spicer, who was commanding officer of the Scots
Guards when Mr McBride was shot.
Scots Guardsmen Mark Wright and James Fisher served three
years in jail for the murder of the father-of-two, who was
gunned down in the New Lodge district of north Belfast in
Paul O'Connor, from the Pat Finucane Centre, said that Mr
Spicer had repeatedly insisted that the guardsmen had done
Immigration Activists Organize For Face-To-Face Lobbying
By Erin Texeira
The Associated Press
CECILIA MUNOZHundreds of pro-immigrant advocates from at
least 20 states were headed to Washington to lobby members
of Congress today, taking their issue from the streets to
While reaction to President Bush's address on immigration
was mixed, some activists were buoyed by the fact that the
issue at least remains a priority.
"The one clear message coming out is that the White House
is engaged," said Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of
La Raza. "They're willing to invest in this issue."
The call to arrange face-to-face meetings with members of
Congress and their staffs was put out just a week ago when
the We Are America Alliance, a loose coalition of the
nation's biggest pro-immigrant groups, was formed.
Participants were asked to pay for their own travel, so
organizers expected to get only about 100 activists, said
Cory Smith of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration
Reform, a member group.
By early Tuesday, however, more than 400 had confirmed --
and as many as 1,000 were expected, said Joan Maruskin, who
works on immigration issues for Church World Service in
Washington, which will register participants, provide
breakfast and help visitors navigate the Capitol.
With the Senate taking up immigration and Bush's prime-time
speech, there was a renewed sense of vigor among the
activists, she said.
"The incredibly exciting thing is to see the spirit that is
moving everyone," she said. "It's amazing."
The labor activists, religious leaders and grassroots
organizers taking part in the campaign were expected to
slightly adjust their messages to lawmakers depending on
local concerns, but most planned to work from a shared
outline provided by the Alliance.
The groups' top priorities are reuniting immigrant families
and providing a path to citizenship.
While they generally oppose Bush's plan to deploy National
Guard troops to help secure the Mexican border, most
acknowledge the need to reduce illegal immigration.
In Atlanta, a busload of activists planned to depart on
their 1,300-mile round trip to Washington on Tuesday
evening. "Senators will see what's really going on," said
Julian Herrera, a Pentecostal pastor and organizer.
More than 100 Irish immigrants from nearly a dozen states
were also on the way, said Kelly Fincham, executive
director, of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. In Los
Angeles, many planned to stay home to register voters or
visit the California offices of federal elected officials
and the state Democratic and Republican parties, said the
Rev. Giovanni Bizzotto of St. Peter's Italian Church.
Still, Bizzotto and about 20 others flew to Washington to
"keep the pressure on the Senate to give us a legislation
that would be good for the people," he said.
Not all pro-immigrant groups agreed with the lobbying plan.
"The current proposals in the Senate fall far short of the
basic issues," said Monami Maulik, director of Desis Rising
Up and Moving, a group of mainly Southeast Asian immigrants
that has not joined We Are America. They planned to hold a
rally this evening.
"We will not accept such a highly compromised bill," Maulik
Still, many said that after scores of protest marches
nationwide in recent weeks, the next step is shifting the
energy to influence public policy.
INA Members Left San Diego With Renewed Confidence,
determination and resolve after a successful AGM last
A new Executive Board and four committees with
responsibility for carrying out and implementing INA
objectives and operational strategies were established.
The new Committees formed were Unit Development,
Fundraising, Public Relations and Political Action.
Speaking after the meeting, INA Chairman, Paul Doris said
"INA has been the backbone of the Irish republican struggle
in America. We have suppported republican prisoners,
championed civil rights legislation and fought for equality
and justice for the nationalist community.
"These new committees help us channel our resources more
effectively in the changing political atmosphere as we
build support for the republican ideal of a free
Delegates to the meeting were impressed by the quality and
content of the debate. Dan O'Rourke from Detroit INA
called it "well organized and productive" and said the new
committees would provide units with focus and direction.
San Diego Chairman, Mick Byrne felt that the conference was
a positive step forward and called on all unit members to
respond to the new intiatives. "Through these new
committees, INA members have a direct input to our
organization, so we can co-ordinate activities and ignite
political action not only on a local basis but on a
national level," said Byrne.
The conference ended with a memorable evening commemoration
of music, poetry and song in honor of the 1916 Easter
Rising and 1981 Hunger Strike.
Frazer To Pursue Border Fox Case
By Alan Murray
21 May 2006
Victims campaigner Willie Frazer says he hasn't given up
the fight to bring 'Border Fox' terrorist Dessie O'Hare
before the courts in Northern Ireland.
Mr Frazer says he is continuing to press the Chief
Constable Sir Hugh Orde for a formal explanation as to why
warrants for the ex-IRA and INLA gunman no longer exist.
He says he remains determined to have O'Hare investigated
for crimes he allegedly committed before his imprisonment
in Dublin 18 years ago.
"I want to know what happened to them," said the Families
Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) spokesman.
"I want to know where they are and who decided that they
should cease to be active warrants. If they have lapsed I
want to see new warrants issued so this man can be
questioned properly for the first time about the crimes his
"A lot of decent honest good people were murdered by
O'Hare's gang and if Hugh Orde thinks FAIR will forget
about that then he is wrong.
"The Finucane case is still being investigated 17 years
after that murder," he said.
Since Mr Frazer first raised the O'Hare case with the
Police Ombudsman the PSNI has advised him to be careful
about his movements in case of retaliation by the jailed
The FAIR spokesman was told by the Police Ombudsman that
O'Hare won't be arrested by the PSNI because warrants for
his arrest no longer exist.
The PSNI has declined to discuss the O'Hare case since he
turned up at his wife's home in Newtownhamilton at the
beginning of the month after being released from Castlerea
Prison in the Republic in April.
DUP MPs Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson are tabling
questions about O'Hare's presence in the border area.
Unionist peer Lord Laird is raising the issue in the House
He has put down questions about the 1983 Gospel hall
murders in Darkley and the 1977 murder of Margaret Hearst,
a 24-year-old mother-of-one from Armagh, who was also a
part-time member of the UDR.
Scap Spied At Seaside Resort
21 May 2006
Outed IRA spy Freddie 'Stakeknife' Scappaticci has been
making frequent visits to a secret bolt-hole in PORTRUSH.
But his regular trips to the seaside resort have sparked a
bitter war of words within the Security Services.
Furious MI5 officials have berated the Ministry of Defence
after the former IRA 'nutting squad' boss and top Army
agent moved into the seaside town.
Sunday Life has learned that Scappaticci, currently being
investigated by the Stevens Inquiry, the Police Ombudsman
and the PSNI in relation to various offences including
murder, has been using the Co Antrim resort for rendezvous
with family members.
He has been flying into various airports, but MI5 are said
to be 'livid' and fear a Denis Donaldson-style
assassination bid by disgruntled IRA members.
Scap has been spotted in Portrush on a number of occasions
in recent weeks, by both police officers and by members of
One Belfast man on a day trip to the town with his family
said he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Stakeknife
"walking along the promenade as if he hadn't a care in the
He added: "I thought it was stupid. He was along with a
woman and there were other people there too."
There have been other sightings of the IRA's most wanted
man in the town in recent weeks.
Scap has been living between Manchester, where he has
relatives, and the Italian town of Cassino, where his
father came from.
He has also been sighted holidaying in the Canary islands.
But it is his weekend trips to Portrush which has set alarm
bells ringing inside MI5.
A senior security source told Sunday Life: "It is utter
madness for Scappaticci to even consider visiting Ireland,
never mind Portrush.
"He may have thought he could melt into the background in
what is an overwhelmingly unionist town but his face is so
"MI5 are very unhappy with his frequent visits there and
have made their feelings clear to the Ministry of Defence
who are Scap's spymasters."
The top republican, who once struck fear into IRA active
service units, was paid £80,000-a-year for passing on
republican secrets to the British.
However he has been linked to up to 40 murders during his
time as an agent and his role in killing IRA members ? many
of whom were not informers ? has led to a number of police
Families of several Provos killed by Scap have also been
demanding an internal IRA inquiry, which has been resisted
by the group's ruling Army Council.
First Minister Visiting Northern Ireland
21 May 2006 18:34
First minister Jack McConnell has been touring Belfast
this afternoon ahead of an adress to be given to the
Northern Ireland Assembly tomorrow morning. Mr McConnell
was shown the consequences for communities of sectarian
Last week, the Northern Ireland Assembly reconvened, but
it's still not certain if devolved government will be
restored to the province. Division and suspicion still run
Today, Scotland's first minister toured Belfast, witnessing
at first hand the realities of division. Over 60 so called
peace lines divide communities in a city where 97% of
social housing is allocated on the basis of religion.
Mr McConnell said: "I think it's easy to be depressed by
the images that one sees in visiting Northern Ireland, but
today I've been heartened by the changes that have taken
place since I was last here several years ago."
The crisis at Holy Cross Primary in 2001 when Catholic
youngsters ran a gauntlet on their way to school is an
enduring recent memory. Jack McConnell was told today that
things are improving. Belfast has changed much following
the Good Friday agreement - no longer are 300 city centre
businesses destroyed as they were in a five year period
during the Troubles. Fashionable properties now fetch
Jack McConnell addresses Stormont tomorrow. Back home, most
voters might now be sceptical about devolution, but in
Belfast, most would like to see an end to the kind of
political paralysis which has put devolution into a state
of constitutional limbo.
Police Attacked By Stone Throwers
Police officers have come under attack during a republican
parade in County Down.
They were attacked with stones at a hunger strike
commemoration parade near Newry.
Officers were facilitating the parade and directing traffic
when a 30-strong crowd confronted a police vehicle and
tried to prevent it from moving.
The incident took place on the Camlough Road at about 1600
BST on Sunday. There were no reports of injuries.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/21 17:15:29 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Opin: Lynda Gilby - Straight Talking
By Lynda Gilby
21 May 2006
In the grand scheme of things it probably doesn't matter a
fiddler's puff of flatulence that PUP MLA David Ervine has
been co-opted by the UUP.
I mean, do you seriously expect an Executive to be elected,
up and running by the New Year? Me neither.
But if David Ervine has taken the UUP whip for the reason
he says he has, then I for one, am disappointed in him.
For he knows, as does anyone with a titter of wit, that the
numbers game is a non-starter in Northern Ireland. It's the
cause of the bloody problem, for heaven's sake.
There may still be more Protestants than Catholics in the
province but we have found to our cost that majority rule
does not spell a workable democracy.
It surely makes sense that, whatever the numbers, both
traditions here should have an equal say in running the
Mind you, powersharing hasn't worked either, so far. But as
things stood, in the proposed new Executive, the allocation
of Ministers would have been even had Ervine not upset the
There is, however, one advantage in Ervine's move and I
would like to think that it forms a stronger motivation
than swiping an extra ministry for his side.
And that is that it, at last, gives a tenuous political
path along which loyalist frustrations might be channelled.
Last year when loyalist riots left the Albertbridge Road
looking like a WWII battle zone, I remarked that the boot
was firmly now on the other foot. It was now loyalists who
felt disadvantaged, but the problem was they had no
significant political leadership.
The IRA has the highly sophisticated machinery of Sinn
The UVF has David Ervine - period.
And Ervine has had to tread a very fine line while waiting
for loyalists to play political catch-up.
All through the peace process, he has not tried to defend
them whenever the UVF, indulging in some atrocity, have cut
the political rug from under his feet.
He has, in fact, on numerous occasions, condemned their
But a fine line it most certainly is and it's a pretty fair
bet that any security precautions taken by Ervine are not
because of any threat to life and limb from the IRA.
Last year, the PUP seriously debated whether to sever its
links with the UVF. It decided not to and I, for one, was
glad of it. I commented at the time that the best thing we
could do would be to shut up about it and let Ervine,
Hutchinson et al use and develop what influence they had to
focus militant Protestant energies onto the political
You may not like David Ervine (I, cautiously, do) and you
may not like the people with whom he associates (I most
certainly don't) but frankly, at the moment, as the Grand
Old Duke of York season fast approaches, he's all we've
Hard days and nights ahead for Sir Paul
SIR Paul McCartney (right) now has a lot of work to do.
It's called grieving and bloody hard and lonely work it is,
Sir Paul met his present wife, Heather, one year after he
buried the love of his life, Linda, a woman from whom he
had barely been parted for a single night in 29 years of
deeply devoted partnership.
In general, men cope less well than women with devastating
They say it takes at least two years for the initial stages
of grief to resolve themselves. Twelve months after Linda
died, it must just have been hitting home hard to her
widower how long and desolate the years ahead looked
No wonder he was desperate to escape such isolation. No
wonder he clutched at feisty Heather like a drowning man at
It's just sad that he has given himself even more heartache
than was necessary.
Bring on outsiders
It's not the same, seeing it in cold print and this is one
occasion where television, as a medium, certainly scores
over the Press.
Seeing Donald MacKay, the Orangeman who has resigned from
the Parades Commission, interviewed on Hearts And Minds
last week, I became convinced of both his sincerity and his
I believed the guy when he said he truly wanted to make a
difference and to improve the situation.
But in Northern Ireland, we all know, don't we, the fate of
most good intentions?
My question is what on Earth were the NIO thinking of in
appointing a couple of Orangemen to the Parades Commission
in the first place?
Isn't that a tad like putting Dracula in charge of the
If the Parades Commission is to be effective and to have
any credibility at all then surely it should be peopled by
outsiders who have damn all to do with Northern Ireland in
The only way to guarantee impartiality is surely to bring
in people from outside who have no axe to grind?
Anatomy Of A £26.5m Heist
Starting this week Sunday Life is serialising Ripe For The
Picking, a sensational new book by the Ulster award-winning
journalist and author Chris Moore that reveals the inside
story of the IRA's £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery, the
heist that rocked the peace process to its very core...
By Chris Moore
21 May 2006
Sunday December 19, 2004.
The mobile phone networks are red-hot for a ruthless gang
of criminals who have plans to treat themselves for
Christmas - by helping themselves to huge amounts of the
Northern Bank's cash.
The gang leader is a leading west Belfast republican, a
former Maze prisoner who is close to Gerry Adams.
Only days earlier, high hopes of an historic deal between
the DUP and Sinn Fein to end political deadlock in Northern
Ireland collapsed on the issue of IRA disarmament.
But the peace process is now about to be completely
derailed as the IRA man sets in motion his meticulous
robbery plan, after receiving the call he had been waiting
for from a Northern Bank 'insider'.
In the Poleglass estate on the outskirts of west Belfast,
and in the Co Down village of Loughinisland, two
unsuspecting families are about to have their lives changed
Northern Bank official Kevin McMullan and his wife Karen
have spent the day relaxing at their Loughinisland home.
It's an icy cold evening when Karen answers a knock at her
front door from two men in police uniforms.
They have bad news - a relative has been killed in a
traffic accident. With this lie, the phoney policemen gain
access to the McMullan home.
Once inside they produce a gun and put it to Kevin
McMullan's head. They tie him up and throw him onto a
"Co-operate or die," the terrified captives are told.
Karen is forced to put on a boiler suit, her hands are
bound and a hood is placed over her head.
Kevin McMullan is petrified. His heart is thumping so hard
he thinks it is going to burst out of his body as he
watches the robbers remove his wife from the room.
Thirty miles away in Poleglass another Northern Bank
employee is now also being held hostage.
Football fan Chris Ward (23) had been watching a Spanish
game on TV with his father Gerry when he answered the door
to a stranger who said he wanted to talk about "the
This was not an unusual request for Chris, the assistant
treasurer of the local Éire Go Brach Celtic Supporters
But when he lets the man in for a chat, he quickly notices
a second man entering his home.
Both visitors are unmasked but manage to keep their faces
fairly well covered using hats and their coat collars.
Chris Ward's worst fears are confirmed when they threaten
and manhandle him. One of the intruders informs him: "We
know who you are. We know everything about you. We know who
your family is. We know everything about them and we're
here about your job."
Soon Chris, his father and mother, his brother Gerard and
his brother's girlfriend are all being held hostage.
Like the McMullans, Ward is given a chilling warning about
the consequences of his family or himself failing to co-
The robbers now have control of the two Northern Bank
employees who have the keys to one of the richest treasure
vaults in the country - the cash centre at the bank's
Despite his own panic, Ward tries to calm his family down.
Up to this point, he has not actually seen a gun.
Before he is taken from the house there is a remarkable
incident. The intruders want the Ward family to underwrite
their promise to co-operate by swearing on a holy picture.
Chris Ward would later explain that in his view, and that
of his family, "once you swear on a holy picture, then you
are giving someone your word".
He is ordered to pack his bank uniform and as he leaves the
house he hears his mother crying.
He is escorted to a waiting car, he is ordered to lie in
the back seat and the driver points the barrel of a handgun
at him. It is the first time he catches sight of a gun.
Ward realises that he's unfortunate to have been caught up
in the gang's plans like this. He was not on the duty rota
for Monday. The change was made late on Friday at his
request. But how did these men know about that?
In Loughinisland, Kevin McMullan is bound and helpless, and
can only watch as Karen is removed from the house and
driven away. He fears he may never see her alive again.
Soon Chris Ward arrives at the McMullan house. He has his
hands tied behind his back and is shoved into a corner
where he cries and thinks of his family.
Eventually, he's led into a small room where Kevin is being
Ward is shocked to see his work colleague tied up and
sitting on a mattress.
One of the gang kicks him and tells McMullan to get his
workmate to calm down or someone will get hurt.
The two masked men holding them demand answers to questions
about the bank and the security system. Most of their
questions are, apparently, directed at Kevin McMullan, the
more senior of the two bank staff.
The kidnappers relentlessly press for information about the
Northern Bank cash centre - staffing arrangements, the
layout, and how the security systems operate, including the
position of CCTV cameras.
At times the robbers challenge a previous reply, or pit one
victim's answer against the other's.
At one stage they get very nasty, shouting as they accuse
Kevin of looking over at the panic button installed in his
home by the bank.
The two hostages are amazed at the extent of the knowledge
the kidnappers have of them, their families and the bank,
that they knew when they would be on duty together - and in
possession of the keys to the vault.
McMullan recalls the rota putting him and Ward together had
been altered at the last moment on Friday. Then the penny
drops. Someone on the inside knew about the change and must
have told the kidnappers.
Chief Suspect for robbery has a formidable reputation
Police quickly recognised the handiwork of the gang
involved in the robbery. It wasn't from the clues left
behind - but rather because of the lack of them.
As one senior detective told me: "This mob are known to be
actively involved in major crimes but are so forensically
aware that they make it more or less impossible for us to
unearth the vital clues essential to prosecution and
Several officers told me the list of suspects. The chief
suspect they named was Bobby Storey (left), a dedicated
republican from west Belfast. Storey is acknowledged as a
determined and ruthless leader of men, someone with the
necessary qualities to organise the mass IRA breakout from
the Maze Prison in 1983.
He was named in Parliament after the raid as the IRA's
senior intelligence officer, the orchestrator of the
robbery and a loyal supporter of the Sinn Fein leadership's
peace strategy. He is also a close associate of Gerry
Police believe Storey was the 'brains' behind the raid on
Special Branch offices at Castlereagh in 2002, when
confidential intelligence files were stolen. They also
suspect him of involvement in a number of so-called 'tiger'
robberies, which involved the taking of hostages.
It is thought the Northern Bank raid was the 41st 'tiger'
robbery in Northern Ireland since 2003.
Police believe the IRA was responsible for a number of
these robberies, namely:
? May 2004: Cigarettes, alcohol and electrical goods worth
over £1m stolen in a robbery at a Makro store in south
? August 2004: A bank in Strabane was robbed of £500,000
after armed men held a bank official's family hostage
? October 2004: In the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, a
family was held hostage while an IRA gang robbed Gallaher's
cigarette factory, escaping with £2m worth of tobacco. A
member of the family was forced to open the warehouse in an
The nucleus of the robbery gang were experienced - a team
that worked together on similar operations. But the job
required a bigger team - as many as 30 men from west
Belfast, Co Down and south Armagh. They were divided into
small units to carry out specific tasks on a need-to-know
basis. Only a trusted few knew all the details.
Just how did they walk away with so much money?
It was the Christmas cash heist to end all heists - and the
robbers didn't even set foot in the bank.
Hostages Kevin McMullan and Chris Ward were well aware of
the bank's special procedures for dealing with the kind of
terrifying kidnap situation they were in.
They were supposed to remain calm, obey the kidnappers'
orders and, at the earliest opportunity, call the bank's
telephone hotline number.
But the two bank staff travelled to work on Monday December
20 intending to carry out the gang's orders to the letter.
Frightened for their families, they would keep up the
facade of normality in front of colleagues while inwardly
being in turmoil over what would happen if anything went
Chris Ward's family remained in their home, guarded by gang
Kevin McMullan didn't know where his wife Karen was being
She was in a state of terror, dressed in a boiler suit and
with a hood over her head, fearing she might be raped or
Throughout the day the robbers kept up the pressure,
constantly keeping in contact with the two bank officials
on mobile phones they had given them.
Ward and McMullan did as they had been told.
McMullan, the more senior of the two as sector manager,
sent a porter and the three other members of staff home
In the basement cash centre, the pair stuffed £1m in £50
and £100 notes into Chris Ward's sports bag.
Ward slung the bag over his shoulder, walked from the
basement, was buzzed through the two sets of internal
security doors, and left the Donegall Square bank HQ
through the main staff door without being searched.
He later described the moment he walked out with £1m as
Safely outside the bank, he called a gang member on the
mobile and was ordered to walk to a bus stop in Upper Queen
Street where a man approached him, asked if he had
something to give him for Christmas, and calmly walked off
with the bag of cash.
By this time the raid leader was reassured his plan was
working, and gang members from south Armagh were despatched
in a white van that would be used to collect millions of
The gang were wearing wigs and baseball caps to avoid being
identified on CCTV cameras.
Ward returned to the bank, and, oddly, security staff
didn't notice he was minus the sports bag he'd left with a
short time before.
Security staff in the bulletproof control room were told
that a company will be calling that evening to collect
rubbish from the cash centre.
Ward and McMullan explained they would bring the rubbish up
to the bullion bay themselves on trolleys.
Then, as instructed, they loaded up 24 crates of new £20
and £50 notes onto trolleys in the cash centre, disguising
their cargo with broken office furniture, cardboard boxes
and bin bags.
There were no security cameras watching them, and their
colleagues were already at home or out Christmas shopping.
The pair made four runs in total through the labyrinth of
corridors and security doors, leaving the trolleys of
millions of pounds of cash at the bullion bay double doors
leading to the street- right under the eyes of the security
staff in the control centre.
Ward then left the building for the second time to report
to the gang as instructed.
After making the call, he walked to the Centra supermarket
nearby and bought a couple of bottles of Coke to make
security staff think he had just been on a break.
When the white van - which had an automated tailgate to
lift the heavy load of cash - arrived outside the bank,
security staff dutifully alerted Ward and McMullan.
One of the security men even paused for a chat with the two
bank officials, who by then were feeling the strain of the
But they brazened it out, still thinking about what would
happen to their families if they were caught.
It took 15 minutes to load the van with the cash-laden
Before driving off with the first load, one member of the
gang told the shocked Poleglass man: "You've 15 minutes to
fill as many cages as you can with £20 notes."
This time they only managed to fill two of the trolleys,
containing £10m, and the pair felt certain they would be
The reality about security that night at the Northern Bank
was it was so relaxed, that had the gang of robbers
returned for a third load, they might well have got away
with that as well. In fact, they could have emptied the
As it was, they drove off with £26.5m - at the time the
biggest bank raid in UK history.
After two years of planning the raid, the gang were told -
from WITHIN the bank - 'its now or never', as tighter new
security arrangements loomed...
IT was now or never.
That was the blunt message delivered by the Northern Bank
'insider' to the IRA robbery gang, whose leader had been
plotting the extraordinary raid for two years.
In the aftermath of the £26.5m robbery, there was
speculation the heist was a 'spectacular' to mark the
breakdown of peace talks.
The reality was that the timing was dictated by news from a
member of the gang who was also a trusted bank employee.
The 'insider' had discovered the Northern was about to
introduce a drastic change in security that would wreck the
gang's meticulous plans.
That vital security change was to have been made at close
of business on Monday December 20, 2004.
The gang struck late on Sunday December 19 - and drove away
with £26.5m the following day, minutes before the change
Inside information was vital to the gang's detailed plan.
The plot depended on kidnapping and terrorising two cash
centre supervisers who held dual master keys to the vault
in the basement of the headquarters.
But the mole had discovered the Northern's head of security
had devised a new system of controlling the keys to the
The change was designed to take the pressure off the
supervisers by passing control of their master keys to
However, the gang's 'insider' was also able to reveal that
the bank had been a little slow in implementing the change.
The delay gave the raiders a 'lucky' second chance.
It was not until three weeks after the security directive
had been issued that senior bank management met with
Maybins, the bank's contracted security firm, to discuss
That was on Friday December 17.
According to my bank source, there had been a number of
attempts to arrange the crucial get-together sooner.
"I think two days were set," he recalled.
"But, certainly, one of the meetings was cancelled at
fairly short notice because it did not suit someone in the
At the December 17 meeting to discuss the directive were
the deputy manager of the cash centre, two supervisers -
including Kevin McMullan - and the Maybins representative.
My source explained: "The supervisers - that is the key-
holders to the vault- had the run of the cash centre. They
could use their keys to override the internal security
"Once the new arrangements came into place, the keys of the
cash centre would be held in the control room . . . staff
would have had to rely on the security staff in the control
room to open and close the doors for them."
This truly was a 'key' impediment to the success of the
The robbers needed to carry out the raid while the
supervisers had keys that could override the security doors
internally. It meant that, at the very least, they could
get a cargo of cash up to the bullion bay area - just one
door away from the street.
From there the gang could prise it out of the building,
using guns if necessary.
During the meeting on December 17 it was decided that the
new arrangements would be put in place by the end of
business on the following Monday, December 20.
Once the decision to change the arrangements for Monday was
taken, the other superviser present said he should be
excused, as he had just agreed to a swap in his Monday
"He had changed shifts with Chris Ward at Chris Ward's
request, and so Chris Ward was brought into the meeting,"
said a source.
The Northern Bank and its security advisers were obviously
aware of the kidnap threat to staff.
But its system of pairs of supervisers holding dual master
keys on a rolling rota basis was considered best practice.
No one had thought of the prospect of two members of staff
being taken hostage.
A bank source told me: "The dual key system was devised to
frustrate kidnappings. The bank felt this was a sound
policy . . . especially when the bank considered that the
rolling rota system could permeate any number of
combinations when it was devising the 'pairs' who would be
on duty at any particular time.
"Up until this robbery, the bank regarded the dual key
system as foolproof."
How Northern's 'kidnapping guide' proved such a help to IRA
Prior to the robbery the Northern Bank had provided staff
with a detailed guide on how to deal with the risk and
threat of kidnapping.
But it is almost certain that the gang, which clearly had
one member working inside the bank, had access to the
document 'Kidnappings: A Guide To Prevention - December
And it would have helped them plan their operation - making
them aware of how staff were expected to respond in the
event of kidnapping and how they were supposed to detect
one in advance.
The guide gives precautions staff can take to prevent
criminals gathering details on their personal lives and
daily routine. It also highlights "giveaway clues" that
they are being spied on.
But such precautions could not compete when it is a staff
member who is prepared to betray their colleagues and
The guide includes special telephone numbers for staff to
raise the alarm, rather than call the police.
A section entitled 'What To Do If A Kidnapping Happens'
states: If a kidnapping does happen there are three things
you should do:
? Stay calm. Although the situation is very frightening it
is important to stay calm. The kidnappers themselves will
be anxious and it is best not to increase their anxiety, as
they may hit out.
? Obey. Do what the kidnappers tell you to do, there is no
point in annoying them.
? Report the incident at the earliest opportunity to ****
*** *** from Northern Ireland or * *** *** *** from the
Republic of Ireland.
Under the heading 'Do Not', staff are advised there are
three things which you should not do, including not
telephone the local police.
"This is a police requirement," the guide states. "They
need to be able to respond in the correct way and do not
want the local car with sirens wailing and lights flashing
chasing down the road."
There is further advice not to talk to the media, and in
the summary it is stated: "It is important to co-operate
with the kidnappers to avoid putting either yourself or
your family at risk.
"While you should do what they tell you, remember to report
the incident as soon as possible and play for time."
Ripe for the picking - why writing was on the wall for this
branch of the Northern...
The IRA gang targeted a bank that was, in many ways, ripe
Soon after the raid, the Northern Bank was taken over by
Danish bank Danske, which has massively invested in new
But on the day of the raid there were some startling
failures in security, some of which bank sources put down
to under-investment and false economies by the former
owner, the National Bank of Australia.
The CCTV system - which should have been at the frontline
in the defence against robbery - proved hopelessly
Images from the bank's cameras focused on the bullion bay
entrance, where the robbers parked their white van, were
The videotapes had been used and re-used so often that the
picture quality was badly degraded.
It meant the images could not be publicised by police
hunting the gang.
The bank did successfully film one aspect of the robbery -
employee Chris Ward leaving the building with a sports bag
stuffed with £1m in notes.
Why wasn't Chris Ward - who was acting under duress -
searched as he left? Why couldn't security staff see what
was going on in the cash centre?
The bank must have been aware of the high-profile case a
few years earlier at the Ulster Bank's Waring Street cash
There, three lowly messengers managed to steal over £1m in
used notes which were destined for the incinerator.
Only when - following a tip-off - police placed cameras in
the Ulster Bank's cash room and 'burn room' did they catch
the thieves, who had bypassed other security measures,
taking cash from the burner before it fired up.
The Northern should have had cameras in the cash centre
vault that would have - on the night of the robbery -
allowed security staff to see what was going on in the cash
They could have watched Ward and McMullan load the
'rubbish' on to trolleys!
But a bank source said: "The equipment in the control room
had been state-of-the-art when it was originally installed.
"But no money was spent on upgrading, and it left security
staff with small four-inch monitors to look at.
"The quality of the equipment was awful. That's all been
updated now, and the bank has once again got state-of-the-
art equipment. There are now more and bigger screens
showing what's going on in the cash centre and in the
The previous lack of investment in what is perhaps the most
important aspect of banking - security - was typical of the
way the Australians ran the Northern, according to bank
The current Northern employee said, at the time of the
robbery, the Northern and NIB branches were "still back in
the Seventies" in terms of technology.
He reckoned Danske was spending £100m upgrading the bank's
The Australians had effectively bought the Northern Bank -
including its southern operation (which became the National
Irish Bank) - for just £90m from the old Midland group in
When the Northern and NIB were sold 17 years later for
£967m, the Australians made a cool profit of £877m on their
Then there are the dividends taken over 17 years, which
amounted to £737.3m.
In total, the Australians removed in cash from the Northern
Bank a total of £1,614.3m - or almost £1.62bn. That's
certainly good business. But critics says the Australians
left behind a bank desperately in need of financial
investment, and in need of a morale-boosting change in
management to rejuvenate the workforce.
They claim the Australians milked profits from the Northern
'cash cow' to prop up huge losses made by the NAB from
disastrous investments in the United States.
Mind you, just the act of the Australians selling up
created an immediate response at the Northern Bank
headquarters just a week before the robbery.
Said one frustrated Northern official: "When news broke of
the sale of the bank from the Australians to the Danes,
head office was shaken with cheering and applause because
the Aussies were finally leaving."
? Extracted from Ripe For The Picking: The Inside Story of
the Northern Bank Robbery by Chris Moore, which is
published by Gill & Macmillan on May 26 2006, price
Black 47's Larry Kirwan
Celebrates 'Bittersweet Sixteen'
Whether singing about James Connolly or Bobby Sands or
quoting Lorca, Wexford-born rocker Larry Kirwan casts a
discerning, empathetic and sometimes angry eye on the
world. With "Bittersweet Sixteen," a new retrospective
album out, he takes time out to discuss his oeuvre, old and
new, with writer Alex Fthire.
(For complete article, click here)
'Bittersweet Sixteen': Black 47's Kid Comes of Age
Kirwan Grapples With Legacy of Anglo-Irish Strife
Prof McAleese To Be Conferred With Notre Dame Degree
21/05/2006 - 10:32:35
President Mary McAleese is to visit the University of Notre
Dame today, where she will receive an honourary doctor of
The President will give the commencement address at the
Notre Dame President Reverend John Jenkins paid tribute to
Prof McAleese, describing her as an inspirational role
model for women, a champion for peace and a passionate
voice within the Catholic Church.
Anthony Coughlan Review Of "Ruairí Ó Brádaigh: The Life And Politics Of An Irish Revolutionary."
National History And Heritage Other Press Sunday May
21, 2006 19:48 by Anthony Coughlan
Anthony Coughlan is Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social
Policy at Trinity College Dublin and Secretary of the
National Platform EU Research and Information Center
Robert W White, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh: The Life and Politics of
an Irish Revolutionary; Indiana University Press; €27.00;
THERE has been a library of books written on the Northern
troubles over the past 35 years, of which fewer than a
dozen are worth reading for the real insight they give into
those events. This biography of Ruairi Ó Brádaigh is one of
them. It will be an indispensable source for future
historians seeking to understand modern Irish
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh is a quintessential Republican in the
Fenian tradition. Born in Longford in 1932 of a strong
nationalist family, his father had been active in the War
of Independence. He joined the IRA and Sinn Fein as a young
man in the 1950s and was co-opted to the IRA Army Council
He played a leading role in the 1956-62 Border campaign,
which initially had significant support in sections of
Southern public opinion. This led to his election as one of
four abstentionist Sinn Féin TDs in the1957 general
election, in his case for his own Longford-Westmeath
constituency. He became IRA Chief of Staff in 1958 and was
later editor of the Sinn Fein paper, The United Irishman.
During the 1960s, as the Republican Movement shifted from
military to political activity, he broadly supported that
development. He welcomed Republican involvement in the
Northern Civil Rights Movement, which historically was the
most significant of the political initiatives taken.
Abandoning abstentionist was a step too far however. Ó
Brádaigh saw this as a breach of fundamental Republican
principle, which he believed, would lead inevitably to the
absorption of those responsible in the political status-
quo, however strong their sense of personal Republican
commitment and however well-intentioned their motives.
When Cathal Goulding and the Republican politicisers
unwisely pushed the abstentionist issue in 1969, it
contributed significantly to the tragic split that then
occurred, from which came the Provisional IRA and
Provisional Sinn Féin. For Southerners like Ô Brádaigh the
proposal to drop abstentionism seems to have been the most
important cause of the split - that and differences of view
as to whether it was politically sensible or not to seek
the abolition of the Stormont Parliament.
Abstentionism seemed less of a key principle for those
founders of the Provisional Movement who were living in the
Six Counties. For them the decisive factor was the failure
of the Cathal Goulding-led IRA to put up a credible defence
in face of the attempted Loyalist pogrom on the Falls Road
and Ardoyne in August 1969.
Historians may ponder whether the Goulding-led IRA could
have remained politically on top of the situation if they
had been able to "defend the people" better then. The view
of the Gouldingites was that it was the job of the British
Government to protect the lives and property of the people
of Belfast and Derry that it claimed authority over, as
long as they were kept, however unwillingly, as citizens
of the United Kingdom — this being, in their view, the
logic of the political, civil rights approach.
Goulding saw the Loyalist attacks as an opportunity for
bringing about a confrontation between the British
authorities and ultra-Unionism, which would discredit the
latter further in the eyes of British and world public
opinion. It was hard to expect the people having their
houses burned down to appreciate such politically
motivated considerations however. They said,
understandably: if you claim to be or have an IRA, why are
you not there to defend us? Hence the 1970 split, from
which followed a shift from military defence to offence by
the newly formed Provisionals in face of subsequent events,
and all that stemmed from that.
In 1970 Ruairi Ó Brádaigh was elected president of
Provisional Sinn Féin and a member of the Provisional IRA
Army Council. He remained president of Provisional Sinn
Féin until 1983, when he was replaced by Gerry Adams, who
led the generation of younger Northern Republicans whose
outlook had been largely formed by Northern events since
1970. For them, abstentionism and the continuity of
Republican tradition back to the Second Dáil were not the
core principles that they were for Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and
In the aftermath of the hunger strike and deaths of Bobby
Sands and his comrades, the opportunities for political
advance North and South, which they believed, could make
national reunification a big issue again in both parts of
the island and in Britain. Ó Brádaigh remained skeptical,
pointing to how Fianna Fáil, Clann na Poblachta and
Democratic Left, all of whom contained sincere Republican
anti-imperialists in their day, ended up as pillars of the
Irish Establishment, with Partition as firm as ever.
The book contains much interesting detail on the
interaction between the older and younger Republican
generations, which to some extent corresponded to
inevitable differences of outlook between those ruled from
Dublin and those ruled from London. This culminated in the
further split in 1986 that led to the foundation of
Republican Sinn Fein, of which Ruairi 6 Bradaigh became
President, a position he holds up to the present, as well
as the establishment of the Continuity IRA.
Professor White, a distinguished American sociologist,
sets out the complex details of Ruairi Ó Brádaigh's half-
century-long involvement in Irish politics dispassionately
and objectively. He avoids moralizing about the details of
the IRA's campaigns as he sets down what happened, and
concentrates on explaining the motivation and world-view
of those in the Republican leadership.
He clearly had the full cooperation of his subject and the
book is based on many hours of interviews with Ruairi Ó
Brádaigh himself, his family and colleagues, supplemented
by the author’s masterly knowledge of the internal politics
of Republicanism from the 1950s to the present.
The latter will make his reference notes alone an
invaluable source of material for future historians of the
"Getting to the person beneath, the core of the human
being, is the biographer's job," he quotes a literarv
critic as saying. Professor White has
Certainly done this in relation to the subject of this
(Anthony Coughlan is Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social
Policy at Trinity College Dublin and Secretary of the
National Platform EU Research and Information Center)
Related Link: http://www.rsf.ie
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste http://irishaires.blogspot.com/atom.xml into a News Reader)
To May Index
To Index of Monthly Archives