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May 14, 2006

DUP Hamstrung Assembly From Outset

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SL 05/14/06 DUP 'Has Hamstrung Assembly From The Outset'
IT 05/13/06 Paisley Says Progress Hinges On SF Support For Police
BN 05/12/06 SDLP And DUP Clash Over Paisley's Legacy
BN 05/13/06 Unionist Move Robs Sinn Féin Of Ministry
BN 05/13/06 SF Anger At Unionist Moves Over Assembly
SL 05/14/06 Decision Time On Fate Of Shoukris
BB 05/14/06 Eames Says Learn To Live Together
GU 05/14/06 Hunger Strike Plates Anger Maze Families
IT 05/13/06 Two More Held In Ballymena Murder Inquiry
SL 05/14/06 Thomas Devlin's Mum Offers Support To Michael's Parents
SB 05/14/06 Where Peace Has Made No Progress
BN 05/13/06 SF Calls For Health Care Crisis Protests
NY 05/14/06 A Flag Not Everyone Is Rallying Around
IN 05/13/06 Opin: Women’s Coalition: Departing With Dignity, As Ever
NH 05/13/06 Opin: Evidence 'Final Proof' For Nationalists
NH 05/13/06 Opin: One Man's Collusion, Anothers Anti-Terror Activity
IN 05/13/06 Historic Guns Will Once Again Adorn City Walls
IT 05/13/06 Armed Robbery At Abbeyleix Jewellery Shop
IM 05/14/06 Christy Moore To Lead Annual AfriFamine Walk In Mayo


DUP 'Has Hamstrung Assembly From The Outset'

14 May 2006

THE DUP has effectively consigned tomorrow's resumption of
the Stormont Assembly to failure after it confirmed that it
wouldn't seriously consider sharing power with Sinn Fein
until the end of this year at the earliest.

Unless there was dramatic evidence that the IRA was no
longer engaged in major crime and Sinn Fein made an
unequivocal commitment to support the police there was
little prospect of the Assembly being able to elect First
and Deputy First Ministers and act as a government, senior
party sources said.

DUP Deputy Leader Peter Robinson confirmed yesterday that
his party won't even start consulting the unionist
community about Sinn Fein's suitability for government
until after the next report from the Independent Monitoring
Commission is published in October.

Only if the report concludes that the IRA has stopped all
major criminal activities will the DUP launch its

It means that the November 24 deadline for setting up the
Assembly is likely to come and go before the DUP survey is
carried out, almost certainly guaranteeing that progress
won't materialise.

Peter Robinson said: "These grey areas cannot be allowed to
exist and there is no point going to the unionist community
to consult them if the IRA is still engaged in crime."

DUP MP Nigel Dodds added: "The success or failure of this
Government initiative lies in the hands of republicans."

The decision of the SDLP to participate in an economics
debate at the Assembly this week is seen as a significant
policy change after the party leadership signalled in the
House of Commons last month that it wouldn't participate in
a powerless 'talking shop'.


Paisley Says Progress Hinges On SF Support For Police


DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley has said Sinn Féin must
endorse the Police Service of Northern Ireland as part of
any deal to restore power-sharing government. Frank Millar,
London Editor, reports

As Assembly members return to Stormont on Monday with a
November 24th deadline for the appointment of an executive,
Dr Paisley insisted: "Except we have the police issue
resolved there is no way forward. The talks have no future
until everyone who's going to be in the government of
Northern Ireland is a complete and total supporter of the

At the same time he made clear his view that a Sinn Féin
decision to join the Northern Ireland Policing Board would
not of itself constitute support for the police. Concluding
the "Back to Stormont" series in an interview for today's
Irish Times, the DUP leader specifically keeps open the
door to an eventual partnership administration with Sinn

However, he suggested people "should not worry" about the
November deadline set by the British and Irish governments
and rejected the idea that his decisions might be motivated
by a desire to spend the final years of his political
career as First Minister.

"I'm not interested in office," Dr Paisley said. "Do you
think I have come to 80 years of age to sell my soul? No,
I'm not. What I'm interested in is to have a broad base of
democracy on which we build, and then, come hell or high
water, that edifice is going to stand."

That declaration will serve as an encouragement to both
governments as they embark upon an initiative about which
both Sinn Féin and the SDLP have expressed deep misgivings.
However, Dr Paisley served notice of tough negotiations
ahead, maintaining that "a true democracy" at Stormont
would require significant changes to the Belfast agreement.
Rejecting the notion of "a quick deal", he said: "You can
make a quick deal and then, when you start to build, you'd
be on sinking sands."

And he confirmed this meant he would be seeking changes to
the agreement to provide for "collective responsibility" in
any new executive. Dr Paisley also confirmed he is still
seeking to separate the equal posts of First and Deputy
First Minister, and that he anticipated an eventual need to
move toward government decisions by way of "weighted"

Asked if, in the ninth year of the second IRA cessation and
following confirmation that their "war" was over, he
accepted that the situation in Northern Ireland was already
transformed beyond recognition, Dr Paisley agreed, while
insisting that has been, in part at least, the result of
his party's position. "Our pressure had a lot to do with
it," he said. "Our pressure was successful . . . You do not
throw away successful policies - you pursue them."

Asked if he understood that many Catholics in Northern
Ireland would find it difficult, if not repugnant, to wake
one morning and find him First Minister, Dr Paisley
laughingly replied: "I think I wouldn't be the unionist I
am if they didn't . . . I mean, I have said that personally
to Bertie Ahern and his whole Cabinet when I met them. I
said 'you are bound to be against me because I am against
you. We're not sitting here in friendship or ecumenical
kisses . . . we're sitting here because we are opponents on
a vital issue'."

And he rejected suggestions that he is seeking to raise new
"preconditions" for powersharing by way of the policing
issue, insisting: "These are the conditions I set out in
all my talks [with the two governments]. I fought an
election on it. I won my majority on this very issue."

© The Irish Times


SDLP And DUP Clash Over Paisley's Legacy

12/05/2006 - 20:14:12

The SDLP and DUP have clashed over the legacy and role of
Ian Paisley, less than sixty hours before they meet across
the chamber in the recalled Stormont assembly.

The DUP say Ian Paisley's policies are working and turning
the North back onto the path of democracy, but the SDLP say
the DUP leader has done more to sabotage reconciliation
than anyone else.

The DUP's MP for East Antrim, Sammy Wilson, said this
afternoon that Mr Paisley's approach was forcing the IRA
towards peace.

Democracy, he said, must be defended from the corruption
caused of terrorists and criminals in government.

The Northern Secretary, Peter Hain, also had kind words for
Mr Paisley today, calling him courageous.

But Sean Farren, the SDLP assembly member for North Antrim
said he could not spot a single courageous act that Ian
Paisley had done in half a century of public life.

For 40 years, he said, he had set out to sabotage political
progress while his name was a byword for hard-line


Unionist Move Robs Sinn Féin Of Ministry

13/05/2006 - 13:15:16

Sinn Féin today faced the prospect of losing a ministerial
post in Northern Ireland’s next devolved government after a
senior loyalist Assembly member agreed to join the Ulster
Unionist group at Stormont.

As Northern Ireland’s 108 Assembly members prepared to
gather at Stormont on Monday for the first time since they
were elected in November 2003, the Progressive Unionist
Party announced their leader David Ervine would form a
group with Sir Reg Empey’s Ulster Unionists.

The move would give the new group 25 Assembly members while
Sinn Féin will have 24.

And it will result in the Ulster Unionists being able to
claim three ministries in a future Stormont executive, with
Sinn Féin getting just two.

Prior to the decision of the PUP executive today, the
Ulster Unionists would have only been entitled to two
ministries as opposed to three for Sinn Féin.

The PUP executive is currently holding talks and Mr Ervine
will remain its leader.


SF Anger At Unionist Moves Over Assembly

13/05/2006 - 21:06:53

Sinn Féin tonight branded the Ulster Unionist Party as
hypocrites for recruiting the loyalist Progressive Unionist
Party to join its Assembly grouping at Stormont.

The move by PUP leader David Ervine gives the UUP group 25
Assembly members which means it will be able to claim three
ministries in a future Stormont executive.

Sinn Féin still have 24 MLAs and will only be eligible for
two ministries.

Sinn Féin general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin described
the UUP’s recruitment of Mr Ervine as breathtaking
hypocrisy because it had refused to engage with his party
over its links to the IRA.

“The UUP repeatedly brought down the political institutions
on the issue of IRA decommissioning. Yet, in an attempt to
obtain an extra minister in a new Assembly, they are
seeking to have the PUP leader join their Stormont group
when the UVF has refused outright to decommission and
continues to engage in sectarian, racist and internecine
violence, ” he said.

“It is David Ervine’s democratic right to join any group he
wishes. But the UUP attempts to recruit David Ervine
underlined Unionist ambivalence towards loyalist violence
in the starkest terms possible. The double standards of the
UUP are breath taking.”

Prior to the decision of the PUP executive today, the
Ulster Unionists would have only been entitled to two
ministries as opposed to three for Sinn Féin.

The development came as Northern Ireland’s 108 Assembly
members prepare to gather at Stormont on Monday for the
first time since they were elected in November 2003.

The PUP’s decision was confirmed by the party’s chairperson
Dawn Purvis.

“The PUP took this decision after wide consultation,” the
Northern Ireland Policing Board member said.

“It was discussed at length and it was a collective

“It is felt that by forming a group, that will give the
unionist community a much-needed boost.”

Mr Ervine, who represents East Belfast in the Assembly,
will become part of the Ulster Unionist Party Assembly
Group but he will not become a UUP member.

As things currently stand in the Assembly, the Reverend Ian
Paisley’s Democratic Unionists have 32 Assembly members and
are the largest group at Stormont.

They will be entitled to the post of Stormont First
Minister and to three ministries.

It had been thought last year that the DUP would have been
able to claim four ministries but those plans were set back
when their Newry and Armagh MLA Paul Berry was suspended
following allegations about his private life.

Mr Berry will sit in the Assembly on Monday as an
independent unionist.

Sinn Féin had hoped to have gained a ministry following Mr
Berry’s suspension but will now, if things stand, be
entitled to the Deputy First Minister’s post and two
cabinet portfolios.

The nationalist SDLP will be entitled to two ministries in
any future executive.

The Northern Ireland Assembly will gather on Monday without
a power sharing executive or devolution in place.

The chamber last sat in October 2002 when a row over
allegations that republicans operated a spy ring forced the
British government to suspend devolution.

Since then, there have been three failed attempts to
establish a multi-party government.

The Reverend Ian Paisley’s DUP has also in that time
overtaken the Ulster Unionists and become Northern
Ireland’s largest party.

But with the IRA last year announcing an end to its armed
campaign and completing its disarmament programme, British
Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern are
hopeful that an executive can be formed this year.

In a roadmap for devolution unveiled last month, the two
premiers announced that they would ask Assembly members to
initially try and set up an executive six weeks from next

But with expectations low about the formation of an
executive before the summer, both leaders have given the
Assembly an ultimate deadline of November 24 to achieve
power sharing.

If that deadline is not met, both governments have warned
that they will have to enter into partnership arrangements
in the absence of devolution, enhancing cross-border links
in Ireland.

The DUP has insisted it will not simply go into a devolved
government with Sinn Féin because of the November 24

Deputy leader Peter Robinson has insisted that the party
will only contemplate such a move if it is convinced that
the IRA has ended paramilitary and criminal activity for

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said as a result of Mr
Ervine’s decision unionists would be punching their full
weight at the Assembly for the first time since it was
established in 1998.

“Unionists will be taking positions back from Sinn Féin,”
he said.

“None of this will matter, of course, unless the conditions
are created that will lead to the restoration of

“That is why we have tabled a proposal for the creation of
a restoration of devolution committee at Stormont so that
we can establish if the conditions can be created for
progress or not.”


Decision Time On Fate Of Shoukris

By Stephen Breen and Alan Murray
14 May 2006

THE role of the two Shoukri brothers within the UDA is set
to be decided by the terror group's leadership this week.

Senior loyalist sources told Sunday Life last night that no
decision has been taken to expel Andre and Ihab Shoukri
over the north Belfast UDA brigade's links to drugs and

But further meetings will be held this week - including one
by the UDA's so-called 'inner council' tomorrow - following
the conclusion of an inquiry into the activities of the two
brothers and their cronies.

Sources claim that, if the Shoukris are not expelled, it
could lead to friction with other UDA leaders - including
south Belfast 'brigadier' Jackie McDonald.

Said one senior UDA source: "Nobody knows what the findings
of this inquiry will be and what effect it will have on the

"The Shoukris are still members of the UDA and it will be
interesting to see what happens over the coming week.

"It looks as if they might be allowed to remain, but who

"There is a lot of confusion in the organisation at the

It's understood that, if the north Belfast leadership is
allowed to remain in the organisation, it will seek the
expulsion of east Belfast Ulster Political Research Group
(UPRG) spokesman Frankie Gallagher.

Mr Gallagher last night refused to comment on the claims.

Churchmen and community workers in north Belfast also told
a UDA inquiry last week that crime and drug-dealing in the
area had been substantially reduced over the last 18

They also claimed the man proposed as the alternative
leader to replace Andre Shoukri was a thug, who left a
local man in a coma after a savage attack.

McDonald - who is recovering from a serious operation - is
understood to have backed one veteran UDA man, another
senior UPRG member and a minor UDA figure in the area in
their criticisms of the Shoukris.

The trio claimed UDA funds were siphoned off by the
Shoukris to fund gambling, pay for foreign holidays and for
top-of-the-range cars and clothes.


Eames Says Learn To Live Together

The peace process will only work if both sides of the NI
community start to learn to live together, Archbishop Robin
Eames has said.

Speaking on the eve of a return to Stormont by NI
politicans, he said he was optimistic about the future.

He said the people would determine whether the process

"There is evidence... that people want change, they want a
shared future, they want to see this place moving forward,"
he said.

Step down

"Unless you get people at the local level where they are,
living and working and loving and being with their loved
ones, politicians can do everything they like, but they
will never bring about reconciliation."

Dr Eames, 69, who is Archbishop of Armagh, announced last
week that he would step down on 31 December.

He was ordained in 1964, and has been a bishop for more
than 30 years. Dr Eames was appointed archbishop in 1986.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/14 09:45:03 GMT


Hunger Strike Plates Anger Maze Families

Henry McDonald
Sunday May 14, 2006
The Observer

Families of the 1981 hunger strikers along with H-block
protest veterans have denounced Sinn Fein's main support
group in the United States for selling plates commemorating
the death fast.

A New Jersey branch of Noraid - the organisation that has
raised funds for the IRA and Sinn Fein since 1969 - is
charging $25 per plate, plus $7 shipping. All 10 hunger
strikers are pictured on each plate.

Last night the brother of one of the 10 who died in the
fast 25 years ago described the commemorative plates as
'tacky in the extreme'.

Tony O'Hara, who was Bobby Sands's cellmate in the Maze in
1978, was a prisoner in the H-blocks when his younger
brother Patsy became the first Irish National Liberation
Army inmate to die on hunger strike. Three out of the 10
prisoners belonged to the INLA.

After seeing the plate online with his brother's image on
it, O'Hara said: 'The image of Patsy and the other two INLA
prisoners who died were hijacked a long time ago by the
republican movement. What is unacceptable is that a group
like Noraid, which has many right-wing supporters in
America, never liked the INLA because they were republican
socialists. Yet now they are using Patsy and the other
boys' pictures.'

Richard O'Rawe, the IRA's press officer inside the Maze
during the 1981 hunger strike, said: 'You eat food off a
plate and yet they have brought out a plate to commemorate
the men who died refusing food. It's tacky and just about
making money.'

Frank Connell, of the Noraid Luke Dillon Unit and
originally from Co. Cavan, said: 'Of course it's
appropriate. No food after all will ever be eaten off those
plates. They are purely commemorative.'


Two More Held In Ballymena Murder Inquiry

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor


Police investigating the murder of Ballymena teenager
Michael McIlveen say they have found a baseball bat,
clothing and footwear during searches.

Officers also said they were investigating CCTV evidence
which they hope will help them identify those involved in
the murder of the Catholic youth in the early hours of last
Sunday in a car park in the Co Antrim town.

This was revealed at Larne Magistrates' Court yesterday
during an application to have two further suspects detained
in custody for a further 36 hours for questioning.

The two cannot be named on account of their ages. Five
people appeared in court on Thursday on counts of murder.

Meanwhile a row has erupted over alleged remarks by a local
DUP councillor, who said that Catholics, such as the
murdered teenager, would not get into heaven unless they
were saved.

Councillor Roy Gillespie was quoted in yesterday's Daily
Ireland newspaper as saying: "I won't be going to the
funeral. Stepping foot inside in a Catholic church is
against my religious beliefs."

Describing the Pope as the "anti-Christ", he was also
reported as saying: "As a Catholic he [ Michael McIlveen]
won't get into heaven unless he has been saved. If he did
not repent before he died and asked the Lord into his
heart, he will not get into heaven. Catholics are not
accepted into heaven."

Mr Gillespie later claimed in a radio interview that he had
been misquoted, adding that he made no remarks about the
afterlife specific to Michael McIlveen. Daily Ireland says
it stands by its story.

The remarks were heavily criticised by Ulster Unionist
councillor James Currie, Sinn Féin's Philip McGuigan and
Declan O'Loan of the SDLP.

Mr Gillespie declined to speak to The Irish Times when
contacted yesterday. The councillor has previously spoken
against a proposal to grant-aid GAA clubs to buy hurleys,
is a critic of Irish-medium schooling and dislikes the
Harry Potter books.

Referring to the popularity of JK Rowling's character as a
cult, he has said: "These cults with their stories about
witches are damaging, especially to young people, who would
be better off saying their prayers."

Following the riot in O'Connell Street last February as
Protestant victims planned to march to Leinster House, Mr
Gillespie said the violence was an indication of what was
to come.

"Be warned. This is what lies ahead for those who are for a
united Ireland," he told the council. The McIlveen family
has publicly invited DUP leader Ian Paisley to the funeral
next week.

© The Irish Times


We share your pain

Thomas Devlin's Mum Offers Support To Michael's Parents

By Stephen Breen and John McGurk
14 May 2006

THE grieving mum of slain schoolboy Thomas Devlin last
night told how the murder of Ballymena teenager Michael
McIlveen brought back the horror of her own son's death.

Penny Holloway spoke to Sunday Life as two more teenagers
were charged in connection with the sectarian killing of
fifth-form pupil Michael (15).

One accused - a 15-year-old boy - is charged with Michael's

The other - a 16-year-old - is charged with affray.

Both youths are both due to appear before Coleraine
Magistrates Court tomorrow.

Said Penny: "We have sent a message to the McIlveen family.
Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this tragic time.

"Michael's brutal murder brought it all home to us again
last week about Thomas's killing. It's hard to take in -
it's still so raw for us."

Added Penny: "Once again, our society has witnessed the
senseless waste of such a young life.

"Like Thomas, Michael had his whole life in front of him -
and he has been robbed of that.

"We know what his family are going through and our thoughts
will remain with them over the weeks and months ahead."

Five other teenagers have already been charged with
Michael's murder, which sparked cross-community outrage
across the province.

News of the latest charges came as police last night
revisited the spot where Michael was viciously beaten by a
baseball bat-wielding gang in an alley at Garfield Place in

Speaking at the scene, Detective Inspector Robbie Paul
appealed for witnesses to come forward.

He said that detectives particularly want to speak to
anyone who was in the car park of the town's IMC Cinema at
any time between 11.30pm on May 6 and 1.00am on May 7.

No details have yet been made public about the funeral of
the St Patrick's College pupil.

However, it is expected to take place early this week.

In a separate development, the Devlin family want people
living in Belfast's Mount Vernon estate to hand their son's
killers over to cops if the area receives cash as part of a
Government plan to pump millions into loyalist districts.

Added Penny: "We know the police have been getting some
support from people in Mount Vernon.

"But people close to the suspects have still not come

"We have read about the Government's strategy to tackle
deprivation and, if an area like Mount Vernon does receive
large amounts of cash, then that community has a
responsibility to give something back to society.

"Some of the people in that community seem to think that
it's a bigger crime to talk to police than brutally kill a
defenceless teenager."


Where Peace Has Made No Progress

14 May 2006 By Colm Heatley

A few yards into Ballymena town centre, the loyalist
paramilitary banners that hang from almost every lamppost
let the casual visitor know exactly who controls the town.

Most of the kerbstones are painted red, white and blue.

Union Jacks flutter from bedroom windows. Pictures of King
Billy and masked loyalist gunmen stare down from the gable
walls of terraced houses.

It was underneath one of these flags that 15-year-old
Catholic Michael McIlveen was kicked to death last week.

He was on his way home from the local cinema - where he had
met Protestant friends - when he was set upon by a loyalist
gang wielding baseball bats and knives.

He struggled home after the beating, but collapsed and
lapsed into a coma a few hours later. Last Monday, he died.

Last Thursday, five young Protestants were charged with his

The front garden of the family home was turned into a
temporary shrine for the sports-mad teenager. Celtic
jerseys and the colours of his local hurling team took
pride of place as a steady procession of mourners streamed
in and out of the house.

They all shared one sentiment - that this was a tragedy
waiting to happen. Since Christmas, there has been an
upsurge in sectarian attacks in Ballymena, nearly all
against Catholics.

Ballymena has always had an unenviable legacy of

In the late 1990s, when the Good Friday Agreement held out
hope of progress, Catholic Mass-goers at Harryville Church
in the town were pelted with urine-filled balloons by
loyalist protesters every week.

Today, the town is festooned with loyalist flags, a
carnival of reaction against political progress.

The town centre, a supposedly neutral area, has UDA and UVF
emblems almost everywhere.

UDA flags hang from lampposts outside Harryville Church,
and just a few feet away hangs a UDA mural ‘‘remembering
with pride’’ the organisation’s members - whose targets, of
course, were Catholics just like those who attend Mass at

Most of Ballymena is a no-go area for nationalists. The
UDA, which many believe is behind the orchestrated attacks,
has gone from strength-to-strength in the town, tightening
its grip on the local heroin trade and recruiting loyalist
youths into its ranks in unprecedented numbers.

So far, no significant political pressure has been placed
on the group to disarm or to cease its activities.

Many shopping centres, bars, leisure centres, cinemas and
pizza parlours are out of bounds for a fifth of Ballymena’s
citizens, because those businesses are all located in
loyalist areas.

Older nationalists can drink only in bars in William
Street, ‘‘but you’d never dream of walking home’’, said one
patron of a pub in the street.

This is life for Ballymena’s nationalists, more than eight
years after the Good Friday Agreement was signed and almost
12 years since the first IRA ceasefire.

For young nationalists, the only venue which is safe is the
small and dingy Trick Shot snooker hall, situated on the
outskirts of the town centre.

They are corralled into two housing estates at the north
end of the town, Dunclug – where Michael McIlveen lived -
and the tiny Fisherwick estate, whose residents only had
central heating put into their houses two years ago.

Dunclug is a typical council housing estate with a
smattering of greenery at the top end of it. Locals playing
hurling have to do it on the tiny basketball court, the
hoops acting as goals.

When the Troubles began, most Catholics lived on the south
side of the town, but sectarian intimidation forced them to
move. Ironically, it is only in these two mainly
nationalist estates that Protestants and Catholics mix

Protestant teenagers, who walk around wearing Rangers
jerseys, are counted as friends by the local Catholics.
Last week, some of the Rangers jerseys were emblazoned with
the words ‘‘Mickey Bo’’, McIlveen’s nickname, as a mark of

In another twist, one of those charged with the murder has
a Catholic mother, and has close relatives who live near
the McIlveens.

Life for Dunclug’s younger nationalist residents is
punctuated by sectarian attacks and pervaded with a sense
of despair, growing anger and resentment at their impotence
in the face of sustained attacks.

In recent months, the attacks have become more organised,
vicious and bold. Since January, locals say that loyalists
have been out cruising in cars, armed with baseball bats
and knives, on the prowl for nationalists, a claim
supported by Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the victims of these
midnight ‘sorties’.

The premeditated nature of these attacks is a chilling echo
of the darkest days of the Troubles and Lenny Murphy’s
Shankill Butchers gang, which killed more than a dozen

Barry McGill is 18 years old, and was a close friend of
McIlveen. Three weeks ago, he was sitting near his home in
Dunclug when a car full of loyalists pulled up. They held
him down and tried to carve a Union Jack on his stomach
with a kitchen knife.

‘‘I was just minding my own business when it happened,” he
said. ‘‘They came in and did it for nothing. They are bad
bastards who wanted to get any Catholic they could. We are
second-class citizens here - that’s all.”

No one has been charged with the attack and, like most
young nationalists, McGill won’t venture into the town
anymore unless he has a crowd with him.

But that, in turn, leads to PSNI attention and unwanted
‘‘stop and search’’ procedures, which nationalists complain
are meted out unfairly and disproportionately.

‘‘How come I can’t walk into the town without being
searched but the loyalists can saunter around with baseball
bats and knives?” asks McGill.

The case of Robert Hamill, a Catholic man kicked to death
by loyalists in front of an RUC Landrover in Portadown in
May 1997, still plays on the minds of nationalists in
Ballymena, who view their situation as similar to that of
nationalists in Portadown during that time.

On Easter Saturday, another young nationalist from the
Dunclug estate was beaten in a sectarian attack in the
town’s Tower shopping centre. Kirk McCaughren, 20, was
stabbed and punched and was left with a punctured lung in
the daylight attack.

The police later charged him with causing an affray, but
didn’t charge any of his dozen or so attackers. McIlveen’s
mother Gina, meanwhile, was punched in the face in the same
shopping centre at Christmas.

Again, loyalists were responsible.

At least three Catholic families have been forced from
their homes in Ballymena because of sectarian intimidation.

The frequency of attacks has also meant that many jobs in
Ballymena are off limits to young nationalist men and
women, who fear that loyalists would wait until closing
time and attack them.

In the Dunclug and Fisherwick estates, unemployment is
high, even though Ballymena is one of the most prosperous
towns in the north. Surprisingly, despite the attacks,
there is little talk of revenge.

‘‘If a Catholic goes out and stabs a Protestant teenager,
then people will say we are as bad as them,” said McGill.

However, a friend of his admits that McIlveen’s murder
‘‘has left me bitter’’.

The recent sectarian beatings come after a sustained wave
of attacks on Catholic homes in Ballymena and the nearby
village of Ahoghill last summer.

In Ahoghill, just five miles from the centre of Ballymena,
loyalists petrol-bombed the homes of the last remaining
nationalists in the village.

Families who had lived there for generations fled. The PSNI
was criticised for its response - it gave fire-blankets to
the nationalists who chose to stay on.

In response to such intimidation, young nationalists have
‘‘rebelled’’ by wearing Celtic shirts and hanging up
tricolours in their estates.

Declan O’Loan, a local SDLP councillor and husband of the
Police Ombudsman, said that, in years gone by, Catholics
were always the primary targets of attack, but that over
the past five years there had been less inclination to
suffer in silence.

‘‘In the past, Catholics seemed almost to accept their fate
and accept the intimidation, but over the past five years
there has been a rising self-confidence and young people in
particular don’t want to sit back,” he said. ‘‘They are
more assertive than past generations.”

That assertiveness, combined with a growing Catholic
population, has infuriated Ballymena’s loyalists who,
through sectarian attacks, are determined to maintain their
status in the town.

The rise of the Sinn Fein vote in Ballymena and surrounding
areas has also led to a sustained assault on the
nationalist community.

Paddy, a local community worker in whom many of the young
people of the area confide, said the situation meant that,
for most young Catholics, life experience doesn’t exist
outside Dunclug housing estate.

‘‘They can’t go into the town and they don’t have any
resources, so they end up drinking out of boredom,” he

‘‘We have all the difficulties of every other working-class
area, plus the problems of a loyalist town that tells
Catholics they can’t leave their estate or they’ll be
beaten up.

‘‘For a lot of these kids, there is nothing to do, and the
future doesn’t look too rosy for them.”

Inside the estates there are no facilities to occupy young
people, and a number of boarded-up houses are the former
dwellings of local heroin dealers chased out by Dunclug’s

For nationalists in Ballymena, the peace process has
delivered no real change; if anything, they feel that their
situation has deteriorated over the past ten years.

In the Fisherwick estate, a tiny nationalist enclave even
farther from Ballymena town centre, dissident republicans
have had some success in recruiting local young people.

Last year, five young people from the estate were arrested
over their alleged involvement in a fire-bombing campaign
in the north Antrim area. However, support for dissident
republicans is still extremely small.

Since the death of McIlveen, there has been something of an
outpouring of cross-community grief in Ballymena. Local
Protestants left flowers and sympathy cards at the spot
where he was beaten to death.

However, the street violence being perpetrated against
nationalists in Ballymena is played out against a backdrop
of political intolerance and religious fundamentalism,
which is frequently expressed by the town’s DUP

The council insists on flying the Union Jack 365 days a

Party members, including Ian Paisley Jr, attended the
Harryville Church protests, while his father is well-known
for his firebrand pro-union speeches.

However, the McIlveen family has been generous in its
praise of Ian Paisley, who didn’t visit the house but
prayed with them over the phone. He has been invited to
attend the funeral.

McIlveen’s murder has been unusual mainly for the attention
it has attracted. When another Catholic teenager was
stabbed to death by loyalists in north Belfast last year,
barely a ripple was created.

Catholics in Ballymena feel that unless radical moves are
taken to ensure the loyalist attacks are brought to an end,
another innocent life will be lost.

Within a fortnight, the Orange marches will begin in
earnest and sectarian tensions will be ratcheted up.

Providing security for nationalists in Ballymena will be a
key test for both the PSNI and unionist politicians if a
new era is to be created in the North.


SF Calls For Health Care Crisis Protests

13/05/2006 - 08:56:42

Sinn Féin today called on Dubliners to take to the streets
in protest over the crisis in the health care sector.

In a day-of-action, the party urged people to join
demonstrations demanding access to decent, efficient

Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin MEP, said: “Access to decent
healthcare is one of the biggest issues facing people

“We have just come through one of the worst winters in
recent years for Accident and Emergency units, with up to
490 people per day waiting on trolleys and chairs at its

Ms McDonald said that at the root of the problem was a
grossly unequal, two tier, public-private system.

“Those who can afford it can get the best care quickly.
Everyone else has to wait, sometimes for years,” she said.

“We are calling on people not just to complain about the
health services but to campaign and to demand the decent,
equitable and efficient services that we need.”

Events will begin at the GPO on O’Connell Street with
protesters joined by TDs and councillors, while other
protests will be held across the city.


May 14, 2006

A Flag Not Everyone Is Rallying Around

By Saki Knafo

At Paddy Duggans Pub, a snug drinking spot on Greenpoint
Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens, a clutch of middle-aged men
sat at a corner of the bar on a recent evening nursing
bottles of American beer and pints of Guinness. Between
sips, an Irish carpenter named John Murphy swept his hand
toward a row of empty stools.

"In the last three years," he said in a heavy brogue, "this
place is dead for the Irish."

Mr. Murphy was referring not only to the bar but also to
the Celtic enclave of Sunnyside. Like many Irish
immigrants, he has recently seen droves of friends leave
the United States, something that he attributes not only to
a now-prosperous Ireland but also to the hardships facing
illegal immigrants in this country. But when he was asked
about the large immigration rallies in Queens this month,
his angular face took on a dour expression. "They're
turning people against us," he said bitterly.

Nearly two weeks ago, tens of thousands of immigrants in
New York, along with those nationwide, demonstrated against
proposed legislation that aims to toughen measures against
illegal immigration. In a gesture of solidarity, many
immigrant shopkeepers closed their businesses for the day.
But within the Irish community, these tactics met with
overwhelming disapproval.

"We don't know how many times you have to put people out in
the streets to make a point," said Niall O'Dowd, chairman
of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and publisher of
The Irish Voice. "The backlash is a very real notion."

The marches in New York were dominated by Latinos, as are
many commercial stretches in the traditional Irish
strongholds of Sunnyside and neighboring Woodside, which
have seen an influx of immigrants from Central and South
America in the last two decades. The local demographics
reflect a global story: a booming Irish job market is
drawing Irish immigrants back home, while some Latin-
American economies are faltering.

On Roosevelt Avenue, in the shadows of the elevated
platform for the No. 7 train, Colombian cafeterias and
Argentine bakeries sit next door to Irish pubs and grocery
stores. Yet the proximity of these businesses only
accentuates the lack of solidarity between the different
groups of immigrants who run them and frequent them. On May
1, for example, the day of the protests, Paddy Duggans was
serving the usual Guinness, while the Mexican restaurant
beside it had its doors bolted shut.


Opin: Women’s Coalition: Departing With Dignity, As Ever


The final demise of the Women’s Coalition, although far
from unexpected, was still a sad day for politics in
Northern Ireland.

Throughout its relatively short history, the coalition
exercised an influence which went well beyond its numerical

Members were able to introduce fresh thinking over a range
of issues and can claim with considerable justification to
have left their mark on the Good Friday Agreement.

They also helped to embarrass some of the other parties
into encouraging women to play a more prominent role within
their structures.

Coalition members had to deal with unacceptable sexist
abuse along the way from those who were much more
comfortable in a male-dominated political environment.

The DUP figures who used to moo loudly during Coalition
contributions to debates eventually stopped their moronic
behaviour when they realised they were creating public
sympathy for their opponents.

If they were ever to consider similar tactics, it must be
expected that the first objection would come from women
activists in the DUP itself.

The Coalition plainly helped to change the political
culture at Stormont and elsewhere but was unable to develop
the level of electoral support which could have given it a
long-term future.

It was a creature of its time and the loss of both its
assembly seats as well as the continued suspension of
devolved government, left it on the margins of the
political process.

If some form of merger with Alliance was not feasible then
a dignified disbandment was probably the most appropriate


Opin: Evidence 'Final Proof' For Nationalists

(Steven McCaffery, Irish News)

The emergence of the first documented evidence of large
scale collusion and government knowledge of it, represented
"final proof" for nationalists of a long-standing
grievance, according to one media observer.

As the story unfolded it sparked a lengthy debate on the
north's leading internet platform for political discussion.
Mick Fealty, editor of the Slugger O'Toole site said the
publication of the documents saw contributors post more
than 250 comments within two days.

The Slugger debate, he said, seemed particularly important
to nationalists.

He noted how some sought to use the new information as a
"silver bullet" – using it to support a range of
nationalist theories over the troubles – but he pointed to
one contribution that summed-up the wider nationalist

"It went along the lines of saying, some nationalists
thought they were going insane, because it was never
conclusively confirmed that there had been this kind of
dual membership going on between the UDR and loyalist
paramilitaries," he said.

"But finally now they had got official confirmation of what
they had known, but which was being officially denied.

"There is a sense that for this longterm grievance, finally
they have proof, not only that the British government now
know about it, but that it knew about it back then. And we
are talking about the times of the Miami Showband and so

The Irish News had exclusive access to the documents and
carried a series of detailed reports across two days of
special coverage.

The publication of the documents sparked a dispute over
their contents, with Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the DUP and
Ulster Unionist Party clashing over the issue.

Victims' groups representing those bereaved by loyalists
and security forces said that after years of campaigning on
individual cases they were shocked at the "revelations",
adding that the arming of loyalists "has now been
acknowledged in official documents".

Among the groups to speak out were the Pat Finucane Centre
and Justice for the Forgotten, who discovered the documents
buried among public records office files, and who have
since passed them to the police Historic Enquiries Team.

After the first day of Irish News coverage the story was
taken up by the Press Association (PA) news agency.

Its stories are fed to media outlets throughout Ireland and

The PA story was carried by The Belfast Telegraph, UTV
online, The Examiner, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express.
The Guardian, The Irish Times, The News Letter and The
Sunday Business Post all wrote their own follow-up stories.

RTE reported on the emergence of the documents in their in-
depth news programme, This Week.

BBC Northern Ireland did not carry any news coverage on the
emergence of the documents. A BBC spokesman said, however,
that The Irish News reports were mentioned in Radio
Ulster's early morning newspaper review.

May 13, 2006


Opin: 'One Man's Collusion, Another Man's Anti-Terrorism Activity'

(Steven McCaffery, Irish News)

Documents showing the British government was aware of large
scale collusion between security forces and loyalists from
as early as 1973 were written by officials who "did not
know what they were talking about", a leading Ulster
Unionist has claimed.

Ken Maginnis, now Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, a founder
member of the UDR and former company major in the regiment,
dismissed the documents, insisting military intelligence
officers were "fishing in the dark" and that leading
British politicians of the time were out of touch.

His claims have led a nationalist counterpart to claim
unionists were 'burying their heads in the sand'.

The dispute centres on three sets of official files
revealed in The Irish News:

a report from 1973, stamped 'secret' and entitled
'Subversion in the UDR', saw military intelligence officers
estimate that five to 15% of UDR members were linked to
loyalists, and that the regiment was the "best single
source of weapons" for loyalists

separate documents showed how nationalist MPs who asked
questions at the time were not told of the evidence of

finally, a memo from 1975 showed Prime Minister Harold
Wilson and his Northern

Ireland Secretary of State Merlyn Rees brief Margaret
Thatcher on how "elements of the police" were linked to the
UVF, and describing the UDR as "heavily infiltrated by
extremist Protestants".

Mr Maginnis dismissed the documents.

"The guys who came over here and who were responsible for
intelligence, and I worked with some of them in the early
1970s, if they had been good, the IRA would never have got
off the ground," he said.

"These are guys who fished in the dark, so I would place
remarkably little dependability on their assessment,
because they simply did not know what they were talking

"As far as the UDR was concerned, by and large, the UDR
were decent people who paid a very high price for their
desire to maintain law and order."

The UDR had 197 members and 60 former members killed by
republicans during the troubles, while many others were

Mr Maginnis answered the concerns over collusion among the
regiment, saying: "It's not as simple as 'was there
collusion?'. One of the problems is that one man's
collusion is another man's anti-terrorist activity.

"And if you take a place like Northern Ireland in the early
seventies and a great number of murders going on, it was
very difficult to keep a tab on who was doing what, when a
conversation was, or was not, conspiracy."

He insisted there was "no wholesale surrender of weapons to
loyalists" and said "the real killing machine was the
provisional IRA".

Lord Maginnis, left, said of the Downing Street link in the
documents: "How many times was Harold Wilson in Northern
Ireland? He was the guy who talked about the people of
Northern Ireland as spongers. I didn't value his judgment

"Merlyn was a well intentioned fellow but at the same time
he was not somebody who had any knowledge of counter-

He added: "What I would say to nationalists is that if they
are going to give credibility to these documents, then they
must give credibility to those who arranged who would be
interned at that time. They must either think both were not
credible or both were credible."

At the beginning of the 'Subversion in the UDR' document
its authors record that their report was based on contacts
with UDR headquarters, army intelligence, personnel files,
weapons loss reports, intelligence reports, and visits to
UDR battalions.

Sinn Féin has said the revelations confirmed longheld
republican beliefs on the scale of collusion.

Alban Maginness of the SDLP, above left, said: "I think I,
like many people in the nationalist community, long
suspected a degree of collusion between the UDR and
loyalists paramilitaries.

"But I think when one is confronted with the cold
analytical facts of military documentation more or less
confirming that this was in fact true, and was on an
organised basis over a prolonged period, I think in those
circumstances I do think you do become quite shocked.

"I think the unionist reaction is one of denial. I think
that it's very unhelpful for them simply to bury their head
in the sand.

"I think a much healthier approach would be for them to
face up to the historic facts, analyse them carefully and
try to explain how this all happened. Because it did

May 13, 2006

This article appeared first in the May 12, 2006 edition of
the Irish News.


Historic Guns Will Once Again Adorn City Walls

North West News
By Seamus McKinney

DERRY’S walls have taken possession of the most complete
set of historic siege cannon in the world following a major
refurbishment programme.

Seven restored cannon were unveiled at a ceremony in the
city centre yesterday.

A pageant was also performed, re-enacting the arrival of
the first cannon in Derry in 1642.

The full collection of 21 guns includes some of the
earliest cannon shipped to Derry for Sir Henry Dowcra
following the Plantation.

Many of the guns which line Derry’s historic walls were
used in the two great sieges of the city in 1649 and, most
famously, in 1689.

Derry mayor Lynn Fleming said the restoration programme was
significant as the cannon were essential in telling the
history of Derry.

“This contributes to both the heritage and tourism
provision in the city and makes a strong statement about
our commitment to ensuring the city’s walls and their
heritage are conserved for future generations,” she said.

The restoration of the guns is part of the Walled City of
Derry tourism project.

Phase one has also included refurbishing the Tower Museum
as the permanent home of Derry’s Spanish Armada exhibition.

Phase two will involve new lighting systems for the city’s
architectural attractions as well as the restoration of
historic buildings. There are also plans to develop a
culture and animation programme of festivals, plays and
street artists.

Sir Gavyn Arthur, governor of the Honourable The Irish
Society, said it was symbolic that a 17th century
investment by the city of London was being re-invested.

“The society and the City of London are committed to the
city and the county in carrying out cross-community
charitable works and supporting Derry city council in
promoting the city as a tourism destination,” he said.


Armed Robbery At Abbeyleix Jewellery Shop

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses to an armed robbery at a
jewellery shop in Co Laois yesterday evening.

Three men wearing balaclavas and gloves and armed with a
shotgun and a knife entered the shop on Main Street in
Abbeyleix at around 6.00pm.

The threatened staff and took cash and jewellery before
fleeing in the direction of Portlaoise in a stolen blue
Volkswagen Golf.

Two of the raiders reportedly spoke with Dublin accents.

Anyone with information on the men or the car is asked to
contact gardaí at Abbeyleix Garda Station.

© The Irish Times/


Christy Moore, Dr. Wiwa & Mcgraths To Lead Annual AfriFamine Walk In Mayo

Mayo Miscellaneous Event Notice Sunday May 14, 2006
08:41 by Afri - Action from Ireland Afri on 01 8827563

Christy Moore and Dr. Owens Wiwa, Vincent and Maureen
McGrath to Lead Annual Famine Walk from Doolough to Louisburgh
on Saturday May 20th 2006

Afri and Louisburgh Community Project are delighted to
announce that the leaders of this year's walk are Christy
Moore, Dr. Owens Wiwa and Rossport couple Vincent and
Maureen McGrath.

The theme of this year's walk is 'Land for People, not for
Profit'. This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of
the birth of Mayo's most famous son, Michael Davitt,
founder of the Land League. Our leaders have agreed to
participate in the walk as people's rights to the land is
an issue close to their hearts and still very relevant

Dr. Owens Wiwa, brother of the late Nigerian writer and
environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa, knows only too well the
consequence of placing profit and resource extraction
before people and their livelihoods. Ken Saro Wiwa paid
with his life.

Christy Moore has addressed the issue of land and people
for many years through his songs and we are delighted to
welcome him along for a second time as leader on the walk.

Vincent McGrath is one the Rossport 5 who paid for their
resistance to Shell with 94 days in jail. During this time
and all through their campaign Vincent's wife, Maureen, has
been a tireless voice defending the rights of the North
Mayo people.

The annual 10 mile sponsored walk from Doolough to
Louisburgh, which follows the route taken by hundreds of
people in the spring of 1849, takes place this year on
Saturday May 20th. The walk commemorates those who died in
1849 along this route and is also an act of solidarity with
those who suffer injustice in today’s world.

The walk is organised jointly by Afri and Louisburgh
Community Project and promises to attract hundreds of
people from all over the country along with local people
from Louisburgh, Mayo and Galway.

Calendar of events:

Friday 19th May: 8 p.m. Drama, music and art by pupils of
Killeen, Louisburgh and Lecanvey national Schools, followed
by questions and answers with Dr Owens Wiwa

Saturday 20th May: 12 noon. Music on Louisburgh Square by
pupils of Killeen National School

1 p.m. Shuttle buses leave the square for Doolough

2 p.m. Christy Moore, Dr. Owens Wiwa, Vincent and Maureen
McGrath (Rossport) address the walkers before start of walk

5 to 7 p.m. Certificates on arrival from walk; music and
sandwiches in Teach Na nOl and The Bunowen Inn

9.30 p.m. Céilí in The Derrylahan with Sheamus Heneghan and
other musicians

For further information please contact;
Afri on 01 8827563

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