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May 08, 2006

Four Held Over Sectarian Assault

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News About Ireland & The Irish

RT 05/08/06 Four Held Over Sectarian Assault
SF 05/07/06 Masonary Falls Onto Homes From British Army Helicopter
BT 05/08/06 Harryville's Red, White And Blue Kerbs Removed
BN 05/08/06 Spanish Police Arrest Suspected Real IRA Smuggling Gang
BT 05/08/06 Anger At 'Real IRA Smuggling Links'
DR 05/08/06 'Mad Dog': I'm Looking For Peace
NH 05/08/06 Protest Which Saw 65 Deaths Turning Point In Irish History
BT 05/08/06 Opin: The Telling Lesson Of The Hunger Strike


Four Held Over Sectarian Assault

08 May 2006 10:30

Four men have been arrested in connection with a serious
assault on a teenager in Co Antrim.

The 15-year-old Catholic boy is in a critical condition in
hospital following the attack yesterday morning.

He was chased from a cinema in Ballymena and beaten by a
group of men. The incident is being treated as sectarian.

And a 24-year-old man is due in court later this morning,
charged with attempted murder following a stabbing incident
in Derry.

A 25-year-old man is in hospital after he was attacked in
the Waterside area of the city early yesterday.


Masonary Falls Onto Homes From British Army Helicopter

Published: 7 May, 2006

Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy MLA has said that there is
a justified anger within the south Armagh community as news
of a second incident of masonary being removed from the
British military mountain spyposts by helicopters falling
on properties. "Once again it has only been through good
fortune that no one has been killed or seriously injured"
said the MP.

Property in the vicinity of Adavoyle Road Dromintee was
damaged by falling masonary and last week a roof on a home
was damaged after lumps of stone from the overhead
helicopter flight smashed onto it.

"Surely there are rigorous safety requirements about this
type of transportation" said the MP who stated that he
would be raising the matter with the Department of Foreign
Affairs in Dublin as a matter of urgency.

Local Councillor for the area Packie Mc Donald said that
the incident once again highlighted the complete disregard
that the British military forces had for the community.

"Our community is being treated with contempt not only by
those piloting this low flying helicopter cargoes but by
those who direct them. There is a genuine fear that someone
will be killed before these spy posts are all removed.

"There appears to be no adherance to Health and Safety
guidelines for this sort of operation by the crown forces.
I have asked our Health and Safety Officials at Newry and
Mourne Council to investigate this latest incident" said
the Slieve Gullion area Sinn Fein Councillor.


Harryville's Red, White And Blue Kerbs Removed

By Nevin Farrell
08 May 2006

AN Ulster-Scots community worker in Ballymena has welcomed
the commencement of work to remove red, white and blue
kerbstones close to the Harryville Catholic Church, once
the scene of bitter loyalist protests.

Geoff Calderwood, from the Harryville Ulster-Scots Society,
praised the start of a scheme to take away coloured kerbs
on both sides of Larne Street, including outside The Church
of Our Lady.

The latest work is part of a deal worked out earlier this
year which has already seen the removal of a UDA mural and
red, white and blue paint from the Catholic church's
surrounding wall and fence.

The cross-community initiative, which also involved Irish
tricolours being taken down by republicans on the
Cushendall Road at the opposite end of Ballymena, ran into
some difficulties in recent weeks.

Amidst claims and counter- claims from loyalists and
republicans, the Irish tricolours went up and down and
loyalists also said they were going to re-erect the UDA

But Mr Calderwood said tensions have been reduced recently,
and the UDA mural will not be re-erected.

He said: "I welcome this roadworks scheme. The kerbs are
now being taken away by Roads Service as part of a plan
which will see new footpaths and a road surface from the
roundabout at Wakehurst Road to Waring Street past the

"We also hope to have parking bays put in outside the
chapel, after our representations, as there had also been
an issue about parishioners parking in front of local
people's houses."


Spanish Police Arrest Suspected Real IRA Smuggling Gang
07/05/2006 - 14:18:30

Spanish police arrested two suspected members of the Real
IRA in the southern city of Malaga for allegedly attempting
to smuggle 500,000 packets of cigarettes to Britain, the
Interior Ministry said today.

Both men were being held on suspicion of attempting to
smuggle tobacco after police swooped on two trucks carrying
the cigarettes, the ministry said in a statement.

Authorities said they had conducted a two-year
investigation before arresting the men, who the ministry
identified as Thomas Philip C., of Dublin, and Aaron
William J., of Lisburn.

During the investigation, police determined that several
people from Northern Ireland had taken up residence on
Spain’s south coast and were suspected of "collaborating
directly" with armed groups linked to the Real IRA.

Police investigators believe the money raised by selling
cigarettes smuggled from Spain to Britain – where tax on
tobacco makes them considerably more expensive – could have
been used to finance activities linked to suspected
terrorism, the ministry said.

One truck was loaded with 250,000 packets of cigarettes and
the other contained 248,000, the total value of which was
estimated to be more than £683,000, the ministry said.

An average pack of 20 cigarettes in Spain costs about £2
compared to about £5 in the UK.

Both suspects were taken to a police station in Madrid for
further questioning.


Anger At 'Real IRA Smuggling Links'

Omagh relative speaks out

By Michael McHugh
08 May 2006

The arrest in Spain of two men allegedly involved in a
smuggling ring linked to the Real IRA has provoked a bitter
response from the husband of one of the terror group's
murder victims.

The suspects were detained by police in Malaga for
allegedly attempting to smuggle 500,000 packets of
cigarettes to Britain. The profits from the suspected
racket have been connected by officials in Spain to Real
IRA fundraising.

Stanley McComb, the husband of a victim of the Real IRA
bomb attack in Omagh in 1998, described the organisation as
a "cancer going into remission".

"These people will never go away. They have to get their
money from somewhere and they will re-emerge at some time,"
he said.

"The peace process is for politicians, not for these
organisations, and we should not be under any illusion that
these people have gone away.

"After all these years and all these people being murdered
I am still bitter and this is just a reminder of what they

A total of 29 shoppers and bystanders were killed in the
August 1998 blast in Omagh's main street, an atrocity which
drew worldwide condemnation.

One man, Sean Gerard Hoey (35) from Molly Road in
Jonesborough, is charged with the murders and his trial is
due to begin later this year.

Meanwhile, the two men arrested at the weekend were named
by Spanish police as Thomas Philip Cawley (32), from
Dublin, and Aaron William Jordan (42), from Lisburn.

The swoop on two trucks followed a two-year investigation.

During that investigation, police determined that several
British citizens from Northern Ireland had taken up
residence on Spain's south coast and were suspected of
"collaborating directly" with armed groups linked to the
Real IRA.

Police investigators believe the money raised by selling
cigarettes smuggled from Spain to Britain - where tax on
tobacco makes them considerably more expensive - could have
been used to finance activities linked to suspected
terrorism, a spokesman for Spain's Interior Ministry said.

One truck was loaded with 250,000 packets of cigarettes and
the other contained 248,000, the total value of which was
estimated to be more than £683,000, the ministry said.

An average pack of 20 cigarettes in Spain costs about £2
compared to about £5 in the UK.

Both suspects were taken to a police station in Madrid for
further questioning.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey praised the
international police co-operation and said it highlighted
the continuing threat from "rejectionist" republicans.


'Mad Dog': I'm Looking For Peace

Feared loyalist's plea

By Kizzy Taylor

FORMER loyalist terror chief Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair
yesterday claimed he had found peace in Scotland after
being run out of Belfast.

Adair, 42, said he had put his violent past behind him and
paid his debt to society and should now be left alone.

He said of his new home in Troon, Ayrshire: "It's a mirror
image of back home, minus the trappings of flags and
bunting. The people of Scotland are as warm as our people.

"My actions were only because of the past conflict in
Northern Ireland. The war is over. So I don't need to get
engaged in anything like that again.

"I just feel the need to be left alone. My life has not
been easy, but that's my fault. As a result of past
conflicts I've spent a third of my life in prison.

"I have been shot on a number of occasions, had bombs
thrown at me and had my home attacked. I've paid my debt to
society and I think I should be left alone to live the rest
of my life in peace, with no harassment."

The former UDA brigadier's wife Gina and closest allies
fled to Scotland then on to Bolton in 2003 after being
warned to get out of Belfast by rival loyalists.

Adair joined them in 2005 on his release from prison but
left Bolton for Troon after a row with Gina, 39, who is
suffering from cancer, ended in him assaulting her.

He was recently joined by his 20-year-old son Jonathan.

But he said he is totally safe in his new bolthole and
believes his enemies would never be able to pull of an
assassination attempt.

He said: "The chances of that happening are nil. You should
never underestimate your enemy, but the chances of someone
coming from Belfast and killing me are non-existent.

"These people are cowards. They wouldn't have the
intelligence to put a plan into operation to assassinate
me. I say that because I know their strengths and their
weaknesses, because at one time I was charged with
directing their activities."

Adair draws parallels with his situation and that of Sinn
Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

He added: "They've gone on to be members of the government.
Everyone has to be given the chance to change.

"I've no regrets about my past, none whatsoever. I defended
a cause that was close to my heart. Like thousands of other
Protestants and Catholics, I got caught up and I defended
my homeland from an IRA threat."


Protest Which Saw 65 Deaths A Turning Point In Irish History

(Marie Louise McCrory, Irish News)

The 1981 Hunger Strike was a tumultuous period in Irish
history, marked by dozens of deaths in and outside the Maze
prison, but also emerging as a key stage in the eventual
birth of the peace process. Marie Louise McCrory looks back
on the events 25 years ago as republicans mark the
anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands

The death of Bobby Sands in the early hours of May 5 1981
was to have far-reaching repercussions beyond the walls of
the Maze prison.

News of the 27-year-old's death sparked widespread rioting
on the streets, but the period encompassing the 1981 hunger
strike would also become one of the turning points of the

From the start of the protest on March 1 1981 until it
officially ended on October 3, a total of 65 people lost
their lives.

Sands, the first of the prisoners to die refusing food,
remains an icon of republicanism today and arguably opened
the door to the electoral success Sinn Féin has enjoyed.

His image continues to watch over west Belfast from a Falls
Road gable, its slogan 'Everyone republican or otherwise
has their own part to play' known the world over.

Sands grew up in the predominantly Protestant Rathcoole
estate on the outskirts of north Belfast.

His family moved to Twinbrook in west Belfast in the early
1970s where he became an apprentice coachbuilder and joined
the IRA.

He was jailed between 1973 and 1976, and the following year
was sentenced to 14 years after being arrested for
possession of weapons.

Known as 'Geronimo', he became the IRA's 'OC' (officer
commanding) in the Maze in 1980.

Sands went on hunger strike on March 1 1981 in a
culmination of protests at the withdrawal of special
category 'political' status for republican prisoners.

He was joined at intermittent intervals by other inmates,
though some did not continue the hunger strike for various

At the core of the hunger strike were five demands.

Prisoners wanted the right to wear their own clothes
instead of prison-issue uniform, exemption from all forms
of prison work, free association with each other, the right
to organise their own educational and recreational
programmes, and full restoration of remission to those
conforming with prison rules.

A similar regime had existed in the 1970s but was phased
out by the British government, which regarded it as
conferring the status of political prisoner on IRA inmates.

In April 1981, while on hunger strike, in one of the most
dramatic by-elections of modern times, Bobby Sands shook
the British establishment by winning a seat at Westminster.

A majority of 1,500 votes saw him elected MP for
Fermanagh/South Tyrone but the result also ignited
worldwide interest and threw the spotlight firmly on the
prisoners' campaign.

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher insisted it would
make no difference to her stance and refused to negotiate
with IRA prisoners.

Intensive efforts were meanwhile being made by clerics and
a range of other Irish and international bodies to find a

An envoy from the Pope spent an hour with Sands in his room
in the Maze Prison's hospital on his 59th day without food.
When he died on the 66th day, he did so with a crucifix
given to him nearby.

News of his death brought people onto the streets, with
supporters rattling dustbin lids. It also prompted
widespread disturbances, while Britain found itself
fighting off hostile worldwide political reaction.

Several cities, including Tehran and Paris, have named
streets after the hunger striker.

In the US, prayer vigils were held outside British
consulates in a number of towns and demonstrators burnt an
effigy of Margaret Thatcher outside the British embassy in
New York.

Marches and protests were also held in the Republic, with
black flags put up on poles and in houses.

Two prisoners also won seats in border counties in the
Republic's 1981 general election. Kieran Doherty, who later
also died while on hunger strike, became TD for
Cavan/Monaghan and Paddy Agnew was elected in Co Louth.

In Belfast, the first fatality of violence following the
death of Sands was RUC officer Philip Ellis on May 6.

He was shot by the IRA close to a 'peaceline' barrier at
Duncairn Gardens in north Belfast.

A policewoman and a nine-year-old boy were also hit by the

On May 7 tens of thousands of people lined the streets for
the funeral of Sands, who was buried in the republican plot
at Milltown Cemetery.

That same day saw the death of a 14-year-old Protestant
schoolboy, Desmond Guiney, after a mob stoned a lorry he
was travelling in with his father in north Belfast. His
father Eric also died on May 13 from his injuries.

Nine more prisoners died over the next three months on
hunger strike.

Francis Hughes (27) died on May 12 after 59 days, sparking
extensive rioting in nationalist areas.

Among victims of the violence was Emmanuel McLarnon (21),
from Massereene Row in west Belfast, who was shot by the
British army amid rioting which broke out in Divis Flats.

The INLA claimed he was one of its members and had died in
'active service'.

Eight people, six of them members of the security forces,
were also injured at various locations.

The following day Julie Livingstone (14), from Carrigart
Avenue in Lenadoon in west Belfast, was hit and killed by a
plastic bullet.

Footage from an American film crew shown during her inquest
showed she had not been rioting.

Raymond McCreesh (24), from Camlough in south Armagh, was
the third hunger striker to die, on May 21.

He was followed shortly afterwards by Patsy O'Hara (24)
from Derry's Bogside, and Joe McDonnell on July 8.

The 30-year-old had been arrested along with Bobby Sands in
October 1976 following a bomb attack on a furniture store
in Dunmurry.

There were also disturbances during his funeral when
soldiers opened fire with plastic bullets outside St Agnes'
Church on the Andersonstown Road in Belfast.

Tyrone man Martin Hurson (27) was the sixth hunger striker
to die on July 13, followed by Kevin Lynch (25), a labourer
from Dungiven, Co Derry, on August 1.

The following day Kieran Doherty, who had begun refusing
food on May 22, died.

Thomas McElwee (23), from Tamlaghtduff in south Derry, was
the youngest prisoner to die. He was a cousin of Francis

The last man to die on hunger strike was Michael Devine,
from Derry, on August 20. The 27-year-old was said to be a
founder member of the INLA.

The Hunger Strike was finally called off on October 3 at
3pm. A few days later a series of measure were announced
which went some way to meeting prisoners' demands.

May 8, 2006


Opin: The Telling Lesson Of The Hunger Strike

08 May 2006

On this day 25 years ago the world was digesting news of
the funeral of Bobby Sands, which took place on May 7,
1981. An estimated 70,000 people followed the cortege,
reflecting the wave of emotion that engulfed the
nationalist community at that time.

The Maze hunger strike, which led to the death of Sands and
nine of his fellow-prisoners, was a seminal event in the
history of the troubles. But it was also an episode - like
Bloody Sunday - that polarised this community in the most
dramatic way.

Republicans viewed Sands and his colleagues as self-
sacrificing heroes courageously taking a stand, while a
majority of nationalists sided with the prisoners against
Margaret Thatcher. In general, unionists had little
sympathy, regarding the prisoners as terrorists who were
the authors of their own misfortune.

The passage of time has not changed these views, and the
cold-shouldering of the anniversary by the unionist
community tells its own story. While there may be grudging
admiration for the commitment shown by the prisoners, the
commemorations were the preserve of Sinn Fein and its

The debate continues, though, as to whether the hunger
strikers would have endorsed the policy currently being
pursued by Gerry Adams. It was significant that the Sands'
family - now identified with the 32-County Sovereignty
Movement - chose to boycott the Sinn Fein programme of

While there were no winners in the hunger strike, the event
is widely regarded now as being the launch pad of Sinn Fein
into politics. Tragically, though, it was to be 13 long
years before the IRA finally called a ceasefire and the
ballot box began to take over from the Armalite.

So much has changed. Certainly, few people in the Northern
Ireland of 1981 could have envisaged the day when Sinn Fein
would be the second largest party and take part in a power-
sharing administration at Stormont. Sinn Fein has acquired
the political status which the prisoners were seeking, but
only by being flexible and pragmatic.

The heady emotions evoked by the hunger strike belong to a
different era. The major terrorist campaigns are at an end,
and there is a widespread acceptance in both sections of
the community that the future lies in inclusiveness and

Divisions persist, though, and the difficulties being
experienced by the Government in reviving the Assembly are
testimony to that. Even though there is a greater
willingness to live and let live, Northern Ireland is still
a segregated society.

Northern Ireland has come a long way since 1981, but a
lasting peace remains elusive. The hunger strike showed
what can happen when dialogue does not exist, and that
should be a lesson to everyone.

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