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May 08, 2006

UDR Brothers Faced Prev Bombing Charge

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SB 05/07/06
UDR Brothers Faced Previous Bombing Charge
SL 05/07/06 Orange Brief On Assault Charge
SF 05/08/06 DUP Cannot Ignore Responsibility For Ballymena Conditions
BN 05/08/06 Adams In Plea To Unionists Over Summer Marching Season
BB 05/08/06 Lords Pass Assembly Legislation
BN 05/08/06 North Gets New Ministers In Blair Reshuffle
IT 05/08/06 Opin: Policing Issue Will Not Be A Pre-Condition For Deal
BT 05/08/06 Belfast Safe? We've Been Robbed, Then Burgled
IT 05/08/06 Australian Prime Minister To Visit Ireland
IT 05/08/06 600 Rural Pubs Closed In Past Two Years - VFI
IT 05/08/06 15,000 Expected To Travel For Keane Testimonial
IT 05/08/06 Mystery Plaque To Be Taken Down At O'Connell Bridge
MO 05/08/06 Film: The Wind That Shakes The Barley
MN 05/08/06 Fr Mychal Judge: "The Saint Of 9/11"
CP 05/08/06 Political Prisoners' Resistance From Ireland To Gitmo


UDR Brothers Faced Previous Bombing Charge

07 May 2006 By Colm Heatley

Two UDR brothers involved in the Miami Showband murders in
1975 were allowed to continue serving in the regiment,
despite facing charges in relation to a bombing just 17
months before the attack on the band.

Wesley Somerville was one of two loyalists killed in the
attack which also claimed the lives of three members of the
Miami Showband.

The incident happened on July 31, 1975 when Somerville, his
brother John and three other loyalists set up a bogus
military roadblock between Newry and Banbridge.

The five showband members were ordered out of their

The loyalist gang, wearing UDR uniforms, shot dead three of
them after a bomb Wesley Somerville and Harris Boyle were
trying to load onto the minibus exploded, killing them

John Somerville was given a life sentence for his role that
night. Released under the terms of the Good Friday
Agreement, he is now an evangelical minister in Belfast.

However, it has emerged that over a year before the Miami
murders, the Somerville brothers faced kidnap and hijacking

This was after a bread van carrying a bomb was stopped in
the nationalist Mourne Crescent housing estate in
Coalisland, Co Tyrone.

A five-month-old child was injured in the incident, in
March 1974.

However, charges against the brothers were inexplicably
dropped and a court order prevented their addresses being
given to the press.

The pair were also granted bail. A third man, Trevor
Bernard, was convicted, despite the trial judge
acknowledging that he was not the key player in the bombing

The fact that the two UDR men continued serving in the
regiment, despite having faced serious terrorist charges,
has raised fresh concern among nationalists over the role
of the UDR during the Troubles and the extent of its
collusion with loyalist terrorists.

Wesley Somerville is also suspected of involvement in the
1974 Dublin/Monaghan bombings in which 34 people died.
Margaret Urwin, of Justice for the Forgotten, a campaigning
group for the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, said the leniency
shown to Somerville in the 1974 Coalisland bombing case
raised serious concerns.

‘‘We have known for a long time that Somerville was a
suspect in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings,” she said.

‘‘We find it very surprising that Trevor Bernard, who was
not the key player, was the only man who was convicted of
the Coalisland bomb attempt.

“Wesley Somerville was shown extreme leniency by the courts
in 1974.

‘‘His involvement in that incident, his suspected
involvement in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and his direct
role in the Miami Showband massacre, taken with the
leniency shown towards him, raise serious questions about
the relationship between British military intelligence, the
RUC Special Branch and loyalist paramilitaries.”

Justice for the Forgotten has called on the Irish
government to hold a public inquiry into the
Dublin/Monaghan bombings.


Orange Brief On Assault Charge

Ciaran McGuigan
07 May 2006

THIS is the bruised face of the victim of an alleged
assault by lawyer and prominent Orangeman Richard Monteith.

The Lurgan-based legal eagle is accused of common assault
against his estranged wife, Rosmund Evans, at the couple's
former marital home on June 10 last.

Our photograph of bruises on Ms Evans' face was taken a
short time after the alleged assault.

Monteith (48), of Dromore Road, Lurgan, was not present at
Craigavon Magistrates Court on Thursday when the assault
case was raised, but he was represented by solicitor Alan
Kane. Mr Kane told Resident Magistrate Alan White that he
believed the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case, as
the complaint papers had not been signed by either a lay
magistrate, a justice of the peace or by a clerk of petty

He also claimed the complaint had not been brought within
the strict time-limit for such actions. Mr White said the
matter would be considered at a future court hearing.

However, he discharged himself from hearing any case
against Monteith as the defendant regularly appeared before
him in his professional capacity as a solicitor.

Monteith has risen to prominence as a lawyer by
representing a string of high-profile clients. Among those
he has represented was Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson, the
leader of the ruthless UVF gang behind the 1974 Dublin and
Monaghan bombs.

He also represented Clifford McKeown, who is currently
serving life for the brutal slaying of Catholic taxi-driver
Michael McGoldrick during the Drumcree dispute in 1996.

Monteith has also provided his legal services to the Orange
Order - most notably in challenges to Parades Commission
decisions relating to Garvaghy Road.


DUP Cannot Ignore Responsibility For Ballymena Conditions

Published: 8 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan
has said that unionist politicians in Ballymena and the
areas MP Ian Paisley cannot ignore their responsibility for
creating the conditions which gave rise to the sectarian
attack on a young Catholic man in the town over the
weekend. Mr McGuigan said that he would be contacting the
Irish government to insist that they began to take some
action to guarantee Irish citizens safety in the town.

Mr McGuigan said:

"This young man was brutally attacked by a unionist mob
some of whom were armed with weapons. Our thoughts are
obviously with the young man and his family at this time.

"Saturday nights attack is the latest in a long line of
attacks on Catholics, their homes churches and schools in
the wider Ballymena area.

"Unionist politicians and in particular the DUP who control
the local council cannot ignore their responsibility for
creating the conditions which have given rise to violent
attacks upon Catholics in this area by unionist gangs.

"The DUP fail to engage in any power sharing on the
Council. The local MP Ian Paisley went AWOL last summer at
the height of the last anti-Catholic campaign which saw an
attempt to ethnically cleanse a neighbouring village.

"The DUP failure to create conditions in Ballymena where
the small Catholic community can live and work in peace
does raise serious questions about the ability of the DUP
to share power at any level with the representatives of the
nationalist and republican community. Time and again when
they get the opportunity to do so they fail to step up to
the mark instead preferring to play to the lowest common
denominator within their community.

"I will be today contacting the Irish government about the
situation in Ballymena. Last year victims of unionist
violence in the area did meet with the Irish government.
They do have a responsibility to take some action to ensure
the safety of Irish citizens in this area who are being
faced with this unacceptable situation." ENDS


Adams In Plea To Unionists Over Summer Marching Season

06/05/2006 - 14:36:23

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams today made a plea to the
Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party to play a
leading role in ensuring the North summer marching season
was peaceful.

He made the call as the party leadership met in Dublin to
discuss their strategy for the return of the Northern
Ireland Assembly on May 15.

Members have been recalled to see if they can elect a First
and Deputy First Minister and agree the establishment of a
new power-sharing Executive.

Tony Blair has given them a six week period to agree,
followed by a second post-summer session which he says must
end by November 24.

No agreement is expected before the summer and many believe
there is little chance of agreement by the final deadline.

Speaking after the strategy meeting Mr Adams said: “Sinn
Féin will be in the Assembly on May 15 to try to bring
about the return of the power sharing government.

“This is the business that the Assembly members were
elected to do. The electorate has been waiting for almost
three years for this to happen.”

He said everyone knew the coming months would be difficult.

“We are also facing into another marching season. This
situation will only be made worse if the political vacuum
continues. I want to urge the DUP to play a leading role in
ensuring that the marching season is peaceful.”


Lords Pass Assembly Legislation

Legislation to allow the restoration of devolved government
in Northern Ireland has become law.

The Northern Ireland Act restores from next Monday the
province's assembly, suspended since October 2002.

It also sets a deadline of 24 November for its members to
elect a power-sharing executive.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has said the deadline
is not flexible. On Monday peers in the House of Lords
approved the legislation.

It was fast-tracked through the Commons last month in just
two days.

On 6 April, prime ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern
travelled to Northern Ireland to unveil their blueprint for
restoring devolution.

They confirmed the assembly would be recalled on 15 May
with parties being given six weeks to elect an executive.

If that fails, the 108 members get a further 12 weeks to
try to form a multi-party devolved government. If that
attempt fails, salaries will stop.

The British and Irish governments would then work on
partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday

Devolved government at Stormont was suspended in October
2002 following allegations of a republican spy ring.

A court case arising from the allegations later collapsed.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
internet sites

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/08 20:34:26 GMT


North Gets New Ministers In Blair Reshuffle

08/05/2006 - 13:24:58

The British government's Northern Ireland Office is to get
two new junior ministers under Prime Minister Tony Blair's
Cabinet reshuffle.

While Peter Hain is staying on as Northern Secretary, two
of his ministers are leaving for other jobs in Britain.

Shaun Woodward is taking up a new role in the Department of
Culture, Sport and Media and will be replaced by Paul
Goggins, who is currently a Home Office minister.

Angela Smith, meanwhile, is moving to the Department of
Communities and Local Government.

Ms Smith's job in the NIO is being taken by Maria Eagle
from the Department of Education and Science.


Opin: 'Policing Issue Will Not Be A Pre-Condition For Deal In November'


In the first of four interviews with key figures in the
peace process, ahead of next week's planned return of the
Northern Ireland Assembly, Dermot Ahern, Minister for
Foreign Affairs, talks to Frank Millar, London Editor.

Next Monday sees the recall of the Northern Ireland
Assembly, tasked to appoint a power-sharing Executive by
November 24th. The British and Irish governments insist the
deadline is absolute. However many suspect London and
Dublin have got their timing wrong and that the politics of
next year's election in the Republic might prove the
undoing of this latest devolution initiative.

And there is one other potential obstacle, little discussed
in detail, yet every bit as complex as the negotiation of
the Belfast Agreement itself. Even assuming the Rev Ian
Paisley might be tempted to conclude a power-sharing deal
with Sinn Féin, does Dermot Ahern accept that the DUP
leader would first require Sinn Féin to endorse the Police
Service of Northern Ireland?

Mr Ahern makes clear "the policing issue wouldn't be a pre-
condition" for a November deal, before recalling that both
parties appeared content to put the issue "in the middle
distance" when negotiating around the "Comprehensive
Agreement" proposals in autumn 2004.

There is of course a question as to whether the parties
were negotiating for real back then. But be that as it may,
many would say had that deal gone ahead it would have come
quickly unstuck precisely because it did not contain a
resolution on policing.

Yet my sense is that the Minister shares Mr Hain's
expectation that it might only be resolved in the context
of the future devolution of policing and justice powers?

"That would be our view," Mr Ahern confirms: "But I agree
with people that it follows as night follows day that if
parties are going to go into an executive there has to be
an understanding that there is a move toward full
acceptance of policing."

The problem with this scenario is that there appears a
considerable time lapse between the darkness and daylight?

"What I'm saying is Sinn Féin have work to do, and they
accept that," says Mr Ahern, adding that he always agreed
with Séamus Mallon "who said policing would be the key
issue in any resolution".

Yet Mr Mallon might argue that by successfully delaying a
resolution, policing is the issue Sinn Féin is now using to
complete the destruction of the SDLP?

Mr Ahern doesn't think so: "Sinn Féin recognise they need
to move on policing. Equally, others need to recognise that
Sinn Féin have to be part of that policing hierarchy."

I put it to the Minister that he would not sit in
government with anybody who did not, as a matter of first
principle, support the Garda Síochána.

He instantly confirms: "No I wouldn't."

So why should any unionist politician sit in government
with people who refuse to support the PSNI?

Mr Ahern is clear cut: "You're not dealing with like with
like between the South and the North."

What's the difference?

"You're dealing with 35 years of history, the very strong
suggestion that over 35 years people within the security
services had been involved in some criminal activities . .
. You haven't got that in the Republic, you're dealing with
a normal democratic society and I think it's unfair to
equate the two."

Mr Ahern volunteers the same applies to the political
question - why should Sinn Féin be considered eligible for
government in the North while rejected in the South? Again:
"You're dealing with a normal democratic society in the
South, whereas you're dealing with a situation as per the
Good Friday agreement where it's accepted by the vast
majority that the only way forward is by cross-community
partnership. The Patten proposals were all designed . . ."

But they've all been implemented, surely? "No they haven't
been fully implemented, but they were designed to bring us
to a stage . . ."

Which substantial pieces of Patten have not been

"The parties haven't totally subscribed," replies the
Minister: "For instance, Sinn Féin aren't part of the
Policing Board."

But that's hardly Patten's fault? "I accept that."

So which parts have not been implemented? "The point I was
making was that there are still gaps in that parties have
not fully implemented Patten."

Does the Minister accept that Patten has been implemented?
"I think you'd have to leave that to the Oversight

I wonder if the implication is not that the SDLP has been
stupid about all this, and actually jumped too soon? The
Minister is making no such suggestion. Yet a nationalist or
republican reading this interview might want to know his
judgment as to which of these parties has got it right?

"I can't speak for either party," insists Mr Ahern: "Given
the fact that I personally have been very supportive and
requiring of people to support the PSNI, despite all the
history . . ."

But is there any reason he can see why somebody should
still refuse? "You'd have to ask those people who are not
doing that," Mr Ahern tells me: "They continuously
articulate, with some clear evidence . . ."

Yes, but we knew all that at the outset, that's why we had
Patten. And the Irish Government endorsed the SDLP's
decision to accept the PSNI. Mr Ahern accepts that. So, is
there a legitimate policing dispensation available to the
Catholic community in the North, or not?

"There is," is the Minister's unequivocal reply, before
adding he does not think Sinn Féin could join the policing
board before endorsing the PSNI: "No. I think it has to be
with the clear ultimate goal of accepting that these are
the people who will enforce law and order."

Without raising difficulties for the management of the
process ahead, the Minister also expresses confidence that
this is the direction in which Sinn Féin is ultimately
headed: "I think to be fair, if they are to make a decision
to join the policing board it will clearly show there's a
sequence of movements to happen.They've always been
strategic in that way."

What then of Dr Paisley's possible strategy for the process
ahead? We've already identified what unionists consider the
double standard, whereby they are encouraged into
government with Sinn Féin while the parties in the Republic
keep them at arms length. Why would Paisley do it? The
Minister reminds me we are "not dealing with like with
like", and I get the point that coalition is prescribed for
the North by "the template" that is the Belfast Agreement.
However, we are surely dealing with the same underlying
democratic principles in both states - the core issue being
whether the republican movement has turned its back on
violence and fully embraced exclusively peaceful and
democratic means. Why would any unionist embrace Sinn Féin
in government while Irish ministers are about to fight an
election saying they are not fit or to be trusted in
government in Dublin?

Mr Ahern replies sharply: "We're not saying they're not
candidates for government."

No, isn't it rather that they're not considered fit for
government? "We haven't said they're not fit for

The point being that they're just not candidates for Fianna
Fáil? "Yeah, that's the point we've made time and again."

Why not? "One very big reason is that they're an extreme
socialist party, they've no like policies with us, they
want to increase corporation tax to 17 per cent which would
send everything out of this country."

How could they be bad for the Republic's economy yet good
for that of Northern Ireland? "Again you go back to the
premises upon which the future of Northern Ireland is set
down, the Good Friday agreement and the principle of
partnership government."

Mr Ahern may cite economic reasons but I put it to him that
other Ministers like Mr McDowell and Mr O'Dea cite the
continued existence of the IRA and its constitution as
inimical to membership of an Irish government?

"I think it's fair to say if you look at what Michael
McDowell has said in relation to any of the recent
Independent Monitoring Commission reports it is in the
context of the ability of Sinn Féin to participate in

Mr McDowell hasn't resiled from other statements he has
made about the republican movement in relation to its
activities in the Irish State? "No, but I think it's fair
to say a lot of the utterances of Michael McDowell are
couched in terms of the political scene in the Republic,
let's be straight about it."

So Gerry Adams is right to say much of this is
electoralism? "Well, what's wrong with electoralism?"
demands the Minister: "Parties have to put out their stall,
and we do."

I suggest what might be wrong with it is that Southern
politicians are playing politics with the issue, while
solemnly telling everybody in the North they have to abide
by different rules.

"We have them [ Sinn Féin] as part of our democratic
system," argues the Minister.

And they are elected to the House of Commons and the
North's district councils, and can participate as they
wish, I counter. Mr Ahern is adamant: "We deal with them
purely in the political realm."

But is that true? The Minister for Justice certainly sees
them as a threat to the State? "No, he doesn't say that in
relation to Sinn Féin, he says that in relation to the

Does Mr Ahern consider the IRA a continuing threat to the
State? "No, I do not. The security advice I receive is that
the IRA are in effect gone out of the scenario, that what
is clear to our security services is that there is a
complete and unequivocal move to politics."

Like every other democrat, Mr Ahern says he "would love to
see the IRA disband" while not thinking it possible because
some people "will say that's a bridge too far."

But like Dr Paisley he is hopeful of seeing them become "an
old boys society" and asserts: "In effect that's what's

If Sinn Féin go into an executive with adherence to the
policing service, he concludes, "it follows that they are
recognising that the IRA are off the scene once and for

© The Irish Times


Belfast Safe? We've Been Robbed, Then Burgled

Following the death of a belfast pensioner after being
mugged, just how safe is the city? here Deborah Dundas
tells how in the space of a few months she and her husband
were robbed in the city centre and their belfast home
burgled while they slept. and just what have the PSNI been
doing about it? Well, initially some officers said they
couldn't help - because the crime had ocurred on the wrong
side of the street ...

08 May 2006

It seems to be happening more and more in northern ireland.
stories about people being burgled, robbed, mugged - and
sometimes attacked or murdered in the commission of these
crimes - seem to be hitting the headlines with more and
more regularity.

As individuals, we are asking ourselves whether we are safe
on our own streets, in our own homes.

We are all asking what, exactly, can we do to make sure the
justice system punishes those who deserve it.

These questions have taken on a certain degree of urgency
around my family's dinner table. We have had particularly
bad luck lately. I hesitate to say that we've been victims
of crime - the word victim to me carries a negative tone.
You can be victimised certainly, but, to me, you're only a
victim if you do nothing and allow them to get away with

So, we've had a string of bad luck.

In September, my husband Paddy and I experienced a 'snatch
and grab' theft. Sitting outside a coffee shop on Belfast's
Royal Avenue on a sunny day, my husband and I had left our
mobile phones on the table in front of us, just in case
anyone was brave enough to interrupt our moment of
quietude. Then along came some kids - teenagers - from the
direction of the city centre.

The group of boys - about five in all, with one of them
carrying, incongruously, a very nice stainless steel
blender in a new box - sauntered past the few of us
relaxing there.

Everyone at the café, even those inside, noticed them the
second they came into view, or so I found out later. These
boys made no effort to make themselves inconspicuous -
swaggering and hanging around the outside of the coffee
shop, obviously, it seemed to us, looking for trouble. We,
too, kept our eyes on them until they passed us by.

We turned back to our conversation and that was our fatal
mistake. They'd clocked our mobile phones - and the £10
note we'd taken out to pay the bill. Two of them came up to
us slowly and then, quick as lightning, grabbed our phones,
the money, and headed up towards the Carrick Hill.

I leapt up, ran into the café, and the staff promptly
telephoned the police. As the call was made, I watched the
boys as they ran up the street. Eventually they turned a
corner and disappeared from sight. I went back out and
waited for the police to arrive.

Half an hour later, I was still waiting. Meantime, a few of
the boys had come back and taunted us from across the
street, adding insult to injury. They left a few minutes

Finally, I spied a police Land Rover going north on Royal
Avenue. I ran to the road and started waving frantically.
One of the officers inside gestured in a 'Who, me?' way.
"Yes, you," I nodded, beginning to feel even more

I was furious about the delay and let them know it. In my
mind, if the police had arrived sooner, there's the
potential we could have pointed out the perpetrators to
them and an arrest would have been imminent. But maybe I'm
watching too many crime dramas on TV.

I was informed that this side of the street wasn't actually
their jurisdiction - the swathe of black tarmac is the
boundary between north Belfast and south Belfast - and
their beat was actually north Belfast.

Nevertheless, they went back to their Land Rover, made
radio calls to someone and came back out. They'd deal with
me. And, to be fair, they gave a substantial part of their
time and a great deal of patience. The calls to the office
had resulted in the discovery that the original gang of
five or so had been captured on video by CCTV cameras. A
man who had also been sitting outside the cafe kindly
remained and gave the officers a statement. By that point,
time was pressing and we made arrangements to go to the
police station in a day or two to give our own statements.

A few days later, my husband and I received a letter in the
post giving us numbers to contact in case we felt the need
for victims' counselling.

We didn't. But we still needed to give a statement. Like
confessing to a crime, I imagine, giving a statement helps
to get things off your chest. Everything you have to say is
taken down in writing - a record of the event and the
violation against you. You're being listened to, being
heard. There's something to be said for giving those who
have been victimised a voice. It's also why I'd recommend
reporting a crime. At least you know you're doing something
- even if nothing comes of it.

Giving a police statement is in itself an interesting
exercise. I'm reminded of Detective Friday of Dragnet. The
facts, ma'am, just the facts. We went through the incident
second by second. Deciding which facts were pertinent and
which weren't. I tried not to editorialise, tried not to
give my opinion of what happened. You'd be surprised how
much you can do this. "It looked to me like he was ?" and
"It was obvious that they were ..."

At the end of the statement, he asked me whether the thief
had my permission to take my phone. You've got to be
kidding. "No," I answered in disbelief. The officer quickly
explained. He said that he was only asking because, in
court a while ago, another thief had claimed he had the
victim's permission to take whatever it was he had stolen.
The lack of explicit permission wasn't contained in the
victim's police statement so the guy wasn't convicted.

Justice can be bizarre sometimes.

My interview was over, but my husband still hadn't had a
chance to give his statement. The officer needed to take
someone else who had an appointment for an interview - so
we opted for my husband to give the statement later in the

Meanwhile, we were also supposed to look at the CCTV
footage to identify the suspects. I wanted to be able to
jump to my feet, finger pointing, loudly exclaiming "That's
him! Nail the b******!"

I still haven't seen it.

We heard nothing back for over a week and a half. We
didn't, though, fault the officers for that - it was during
the Orange Order protests last September and police across
Northern Ireland had their hands full with other matters.

The next week, the constable phoned me. He said he simply
wanted to update me that things were still ongoing and it
was looking pretty good for eventual prosecution as they
were able to connect the dots via the CCTV footage.

He also said that he would phone my husband to make an
appointment for him to make his statement. We haven't heard
back since.

At the end of January (six months after the first
incident), we were robbed again. Let me rephrase that - we
were burgled this time. As we were sleeping, burglars broke
into our house, stole my bag (containing purse with credit
cards, bank cards and cash, as well as various items like
leather gloves, lipsticks, etc.) and our car keys - they
made off with our car. A five-month-old BMW.

Police took about half an hour to show up when we called
them after discovering the break-in. A detective followed
an hour or so later as did, within a few hours, a crime
scene investigation team. We learned that four other houses
in the area had also been hit that night - and high-end
cars were taken each time.

A few days later we received a phone call letting us know
the car still hadn't been found, but they were continuing
to work on the case.

A week or so later, we received a letter in the post
telling us our car was "still missing" and that they were
pursuing the case.

A week after that, we received another letter saying the
status of the case was unchanged and letting us know where
we could go for victim support counselling if we needed it.

The police were very nice, but we're no further ahead in
finding our car. (Unofficially, we're pretty sure it's long
gone over the border, stolen to order, and we're not at all
likely to see it again).

This incident made me curious about our 'snatch and grab'
incident. I phoned the police station and left my name and
a message for the officer involved. He phoned me back the
next day.

He explained that some of the CCTV footage wasn't as good
as they originally hoped and it had to be enhanced. And the
one bit of footage that was clear made the police realise
the two faces we pointed out were unknown to them. In order
to get these guys, they had to figure out who they were.

So the pictures will be put into circulation in police
circles. And once an officer recognises the culprits and
can pinpoint them, then they can move from there.

The wheels of justice sometimes grind slowly and sometimes
not at all.

This idea led my husband to ask the nice officer who looked
after our 'snatch and grab' incident: "Why do you do this?"
My husband pictured a life of frustration. "Because
sometimes we get 'em," the officer said.

Sometimes justice is served.

It may not have happened in these two incidents, but at
least the crimes were logged. At least there's a record of
it. At least the people we pointed out are now, as the
saying goes, 'known to police'. It's a beginning.


Australian Prime Minister To Visit Ireland

Last updated: 08-05-06, 17:25

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is to visit Ireland
later this month for meetings with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
and other ministers.

Mr Howard will also address the Dáil on May 23rd.

A Government spokesman said Mr Howard's visit will be an
opportunity to strengthen "the historically close and
increasingly dynamic relationship between Australia and
Ireland and in particular, our economic relations".

In addition to talks with politicians, Mr Howard will meet
Irish business leaders with links to Australia.

The visit will be Mr Howard's first trip to Ireland, and
the first by an Australian prime minister since 1993.

© 2006


600 Rural Pubs Closed In Past Two Years - VFI

By Paul Anderson Last updated: 08-05-06, 13:00

Some 600 public houses outside Dublin have closed in the
past two years, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI)
claimed today.

Speaking at the beginning of its annual conference in
Sligo, VFI president Seamus O'Donoghue said rising business
costs were the main reason why many publicans were unable
to continue in business.

The costs of water, waste and environmental services are
totally unjustified, unreal and grossly inflated

VFI president Seamus O'Donoghue

He said local authority charges in particular were making
the licensed trade unprofitable for rural pubs.

"There are varying reasons for these closures - retirement,
realising value of licence or property however for many
small rural pubs they simply could not survive against
these spiralling overheads," Mr O'Donoghue said.

The decline in regional tourism was also a factor in the
closures, said Mr O'Donoghue, whose federation represents
licensed traders outside Dublin.

Measures need to be taken at Government level to help the
business community in rural areas compete, he added.

He referred to an Ibec study that said waste collection
charges increased by 23.2 per cent; local authority charges
by 20.5 per cent and water charges by 21 per cent.

"In particular, the costs of water, waste and environmental
services are totally unjustified, unreal and grossly
inflated. Annual water rates have continued to soar and are
now unsustainable," said Mr O'Donoghue.

Ibec's environmental executive, Paul Sweetman, who will
address delegates tomorrow, said that local authority
charges are both inconsistent and inequitable.

"Many of the services local government provide are
essential to the functioning of all sectors of society,
including business. However, while all of society is
benefiting from the services, it is only business who are
picking up the bill," said Mr Sweetman.

© 2006


15,000 Expected To Travel From Ireland For Keane Testimonial

Olivia Kelleher

An estimated 15,000 people are travelling from Ireland to
Manchester for Roy Keane's testimonial match at Old
Trafford this evening.

Three charter flights are carrying 538 passengers from Cork
to Manchester, while special flights are also scheduled
from Dublin and Belfast.

Jack Sheill, manager of Dawson Travel in Cork who organised
the charter flights from Cork , said there would be a real
family atmosphere at tonight's match.

"It is all families who have booked for the match.
Grandfathers have bought trips for Confirmation gifts and
so on. We have parents bringing their young children.

"There is a huge amount of people going to Old Trafford for
the first time with their children as this is a sociable,
friendly and family event."

Building contractor Vincent Barry from White's Cross, Cork,
is travelling to Manchester with his wife Susan and their
three children under 11. Mr Barry said his children were
"beyond excitement" at the prospect of attending the match.
"I am bringing them because we won't see someone like Roy

Keane is estimated to make about €3.5 million from the
match, which will be broadcast live on RTÉ2 television. He
is expected to donate a substantial portion to charities in
Cork, Manchester and Glasgow.

© The Irish Times


Mystery Plaque To Be Taken Down At O'Connell Bridge

Olivia Kelly

Dublin City Council is to remove a memorial plaque from
O'Connell Bridge because it does not know the person
commemorated or how the plaque got there.

The bronze plaque, set into the wall on the western side of
the bridge, commemorating "Fr Pat Noise" was spotted
recently by a Sunday newspaper journalist.

The plaque claims to mark the spot where the priest died in
1919 when his carriage plunged into the River Liffey in
"suspicious circumstances".

The council's heritage officer has reviewed historical
records but can find no reference either to the priest or
the accident, a council spokeswoman said.

Furthermore, the council did not erect the plaque, was not
asked permission for its placement on the bridge and has
"no idea" how it got there.

The plaque will be removed within days, the spokeswoman

Meanwhile, plans to preserve 16 Moore Street, the last
headquarters of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, have been
delayed by at least four months because of errors in the
notice proposing its addition to the Record of Protected

Councillors were expected to ratify its preservation at a
city council meeting last night.

However, city manager John Fitzgerald said the process
would have to be delayed until September because of
"technical problems" in the public notice.

The building would continue to be protected by the council
until that time, Mr Fitzgerald said. However, Labour
councillor Dermot Lacey said last night that the building
was already deteriorating.

The leaders of each party on the council will meet with the
city manager later this week to discuss the issue.

© The Irish Times


The Wind That Shakes The Barley

UK cinema release date: 23 June 2006

cast list

Cillian Murphy
Pádraic Delaney
Liam Cunningham
Orla Fitzgerald

directed by
Ken Loach

There are many episodes in British history about which
those in authority should be ashamed, events that lead the
historian to wonder: What if we had behaved better? Ireland
presents a bookful of what ifs from the plantations of the
15th Century to the Black and Tans of the 1920s. It is a
trail of blood and bitterness that still runs along the
streets of Ulster.

With an Irish patriot song for its title, Ken Loach's
masterful The Wind That Shakes The Barley at first appears
to be a partisan view of the events that lead to the Irish
Free State in 1921. But Loach is a more complex filmmaker
than that, and so avoids mythologising the period. He also
shows that in any independence movement, the things that
unite the freedom fighters need to be stronger than the
mere desire to overthrow the oppressor, if a bloody civil
war is to be avoided once independence is achieved. It is a
message British and Americans should heed in their dealings
with Iraq.

The film opens in 1920. A group of men play hurling in a
field in Cork. It is a good-natured game to be followed by
drink and chat at a local farm. Damien, a young doctor, is
being joshed. He is plans to leave for England soon after
to pursue his career. But the easy going atmosphere is
shattered when a squad of Black and Tans, part of the
British Royal Irish Constabulary, burst onto the scene like
happy slappers. They accuse the hurlers of playing "Paddy"
games, made illegal by the oppressive British rulers. Their
brutality, repeated on a railway platform, politicises
Damien (Cillian Murphy), who throws up his career to join
his Republican brother Teddy (Pádraic Delaney) in the
struggle for independence.

Teddy and Damien become leading lights in the local IRA.
Though our sympathies are with them, Loach does not hold
back from showing the dark side of their struggle,
especially in the punishment meted out by Damien on a young
informer. It is a scene that resonates much later in the
film, as the two brothers find themselves on opposing sides
when civil war breaks out. It epitomises that terrible
brand of harsh, unforgiving, righteousness that fuels
family feuds and civil wars.

Loach shows how a struggle for autonomy can be fractured by
internal disputes, both ideological and personal, as
happened within the Republican movement. In personalising
this struggle around the relationship between Damien and
Teddy, Loach conveys the true horror of civil war, its
fracturing of families and friends, and the way in which
our humanity can become buried under the rhetoric of
ideology and indignation.

He is aided by a very strong cast, led by the excellent
Murphy, whose pretty boy sensitivity is countered by the
muscular Delaney. Filmed on location in the West of
Ireland, The Wind That Shakes The Barley is as lush on the
eye as it is demanding on the head and heart. And demanding
it is, not least as a reminder that imperial powers have a
responsibility to ensure that when they hand over power,
they do not leave a legacy drenched in blood and

- Danuta Kean


New Documentary Makes Case For "The Saint Of 9/11"


Four of the five men who carried the body of Fire
Department Chaplain Father Mychal Judge from the World
Trade Center on September 11, 2001 pose with a painting
depicting the scene at Judge's church, St. Francis of
Assisi, in New York on August 22, 2002. A new documentary
film makes a case for sainthood for Judge. One of the best-
known victims of the worst attack on U.S. soil, Judge chose
to join his men within the North Tower rather than
remaining on the sidelines and died at age 68 after giving
last rites to a fallen firefighter. REUTERS/Shannon

Monday, May 08, 2006 2:26:43 PM ET
By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new documentary film makes a case
for sainthood for Mychal Judge, a New York Fire Department
chaplain who died at the World Trade Center in the
September 11 attacks.

One of the best-known victims of the worst attack on U.S.
soil, the Franciscan friar chose to join his men within the
North Tower rather than remaining on the sidelines and died
at age 68 after giving last rites to a fallen firefighter.

Glenn Holsten's film, "The Saint of 9/11," shows Judge
moving in often-conflicting social circles: a proud Irish-
American; a recovering alcoholic helping others fight
addiction; a confidant for tough, gritty firefighters, and
a celibate homosexual active in the gay community.

"I got a peek into his journey and the fine line that
Mychal walked at the time," Holsten said of his film, which
premiered at New York's Tribeca Film Festival and was
produced by the Philadelphia-based Equality Forum gay
rights group.

Critic Andrew Sullivan said at the documentary's premiere:
"He became celebrated for how he died. But there's so much
more to him than that."

The film, narrated by actor Sir Ian McKellan, was one of
several September 11-related works shown during the
festival, founded as a way to revitalize downtown Manhattan
after the attacks and now in its fifth year.

Over three years, Holsten pieced together footage,
interviews and Judge's own words and writing. A tribute to
the chaplain, its original title was "My Mychal" before it
changed to "The Saint of 9/11."

"The film grew into its title," Holsten said. "There's a
spirituality I connected with him."

The film recounts Judge's well-known work with the homeless
and those with AIDS as well as relatives of the victims of
the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 over the Atlantic. It also
touches on his personal struggles, and "collection of small
gestures" such as giving his coat to a homeless person,
Holsten said.

"He touched people in an ordinary, consistent way," said
Brendan Fay, a long-time friend of Judge's and a producer
of the film.

Fay also hopes the film will quell disputes over Judge's
sexual orientation. "It puts to rest that question," Fay

Former New York City fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen
recounts in the film his discussions with Judge about his

Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal
Church, told Reuters before the premiere he identified with
Judge's struggles.

"We all have closets of one kind or another. I think the
danger in any religion is to take someone who is a leader
in a faith tradition and put him on a pedestal and somehow
he is not supposed to have any kind of a struggle," he

The Roman Catholic canonization process is complicated and
can take decades. Holsten said his film strives for a more
personal interpretation of what constitutes a saint.

"These are qualifications for me of sainthood: being true
to yourself and putting the people in your life before you.
I think people could wrestle with the term, but I don't
think that's a bad thing," Holsten said.


May 8, 2006

Political Prisoners' Resistance From Ireland To Gitmo

"No Less Courage"

By Kate McCabe

In a statement to his lawyer, Guantánamo detainee and
hunger strike organizer Binyam Mohammed al-Habashi said of
his plans to protest his unlawful imprisonment by the
United States: "I do not plan to stop until I either die or
we are respected. [We] will definitely die. Bobby Sands
petitioned the British government to stop the illegitimate
treatment of Irishmen without trial. He had the courage of
his convictions and he starved himself to death. Nobody
should believe for one moment that my brothers here have
less courage."

As an Irish American, Mohammed's words resonate with me on
many different levels. I was five at the time of the Irish
hunger strikes in 1981, and although I don't remember when
I first heard the name "Bobby Sands," I do know that it was
at a very young age. I grew up with Irish relatives who
loved to tell stories about home; my father and his family,
the McCabes, immigrated to the U.S. from Tullamore, and the
Sloans-on my mother's side-are from Belfast. I was raised
on the tales of Irish martyrs like Wolfe Tone, Michael
Collins, Terence MacSwiney, and James Connolly; how over
centuries brave men and women have fought against British
imperialism in Ireland; and how that history-and the impact
of partition and systemic discrimination against Catholics
in the north-informed the conviction of Bobby Sands and his
comrades on the hunger strike.

I had learned the names of many of Ireland's freedom
fighters well before I knew about those who had fought for
similar goals in the U.S., the country in which I was
raised. Learning about them, and about the rich history of
the Irish struggle for independence from Britain, marked
the beginning of my politicization. My early Irish history
lessons led to a desire to learn all I could about global
struggles against colonialism and oppression, while at the
same time giving me perspective on history and current

When I first learned of the U.S. interrogation camp at
Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, I couldn't help but notice the
similarities between the treatment of the internees at Long
Kesh (the British internment camp set up for the Irish) and
those held at Guantánamo. They both faced internment
without trial, rigged courts, torture and coerced
confessions. Those with firsthand experience in British
prisons in Ireland have made similar connections regarding
the "war on terror" and the use of torture by the U.S. and
British armies in Iraq.

As Gerry Adams, President of the pro-united Ireland
political party Sinn Féin, wrote in the article "I have
been in torture photos, too," reports of the abuse of
prisoners by British and U.S. soldiers in Iraq and
elsewhere do not surprise residents of republican Ireland,
many of whom have survived such abuse at the hands of
British security forces. Irish republicans have heard it
all before, Adams explains, and it appears as though the
British never did stop their human rights abuses. "Although
these cases ended up in Europe, and the British government
paid thousands in compensation, it didn't stop the torture
and ill-treatment of detainees. It just made the British
government and its military and intelligence agencies more
careful about how they carried it out and ensured that they
changed the laws to...make it very difficult to expose the

In a May 2004 article in the Andersonstown News, author
Danny Morrison reflected on the irony of Tony Blair's
condemnation of the mistreatment of Iraqis after a
newspaper published photographs of a British soldier
urinating on a hooded prisoner lying in the back of a
military truck. In 1977, Morrison recalled (which Blair
overlooked or conveniently forgot), the European Commission
on Human Rights found the British government guilty of
"inhuman and degrading treatment" of Irish prisoners
interned without trial. At the time, then-Prime Minister
John Callaghan condemned such treatment in the House of
Commons and vowed that it would never happen again. "It
happened again and again and again. A proud tradition.
First in Ireland, now in Iraq," wrote Morrison.

It was in this frame of mind that I first read about the
hunger strikes that have occurred since 2002 at the
Guantánamo interrogation camp. Information coming out of
the prison camp is heavily censored and slow coming; most
"new" reports received by lawyers and subsequently released
to the media are several weeks old by the time we hear
them. At the time of writing, there are about 490
detainees-some as young as 12 or 14 years old. The numbers
of those on hunger strike are disputed, with military
estimates much lower than those of non-military legal
counsel. Numbers exceeding 100 participants have been
quoted, but it is generally believed that many have left
the strike due to torture and coercion on behalf of prison
guards. The U.S. military has manipulated the use of
language to reclassify suicide attempts as "self-injurious
manipulative behavior," so as to cover up the true numbers
of such attempts. It is suspected that the numbers of
hunger strikers are similarly distorted.

The U.S. military continues to force-feed hunger strikers,
despite widespread belief that such practices are
dangerous, barbaric, and in direct violation of prisoners'
rights. Gerry Kelly, an Irish republican ex-prisoner and
current Sinn Féin MLA, was force-fed 170 times over a 205-
day hunger strike in an English jail in an effort to be
transferred to a prison in the north of Ireland. He
described the horrors of being force-fed to the North
Belfast News in 2004:

They press their knuckles into your jaws and press in hard.
The way they finally did force feed me was getting forceps
and running them up and down my gums. I opened my mouth,
but I was able to resist after that. Then they tried ­
there's a part of your nose, like a membrane and it's very
tender ­ and they started on that. It's hard to describe
the pain. It's like someone pushing a knitting needle into
the side of your eye. As soon as I opened my mouth they put
in this wooden bit with a hole in the middle for the tube.
They rammed it between my teeth and then tied it with cord
around my head. Then they got paraffin and forced it down
the tube. The danger is that every time it happens you
think you're going to die. The only things that move are
your eyes. They get a funnel and put the stuff down.

Other Irish hunger strikers, such as Michael Gaughan in
1974, have died as a direct result of such inhumane

Belfast-born Dr. David Nicholl recently published a letter
signed by 250 medical experts from 7 countries in the
medical journal Lancet condemning the practice of force-
feeding at Guantánamo, claiming that those doctors who
engage in force-feeding are abrogating their medical
ethics. Recent reports claim that many of those on hunger
strike will eat one meal every three days in an effort to
avoid being classified as on hunger strike and risk being

What would make a prisoner go on hunger strike, one might
wonder-especially if there is a good likelihood that to
engage in one will lead to your death? Irish hunger striker
Laurence McKeown recently recalled, "After years of being
in prison you realize all the many instances that you are
stripped of the sort of power you would have, just as a
person, if you were on the outside." McKeown was part of
the 1981 hunger strike in which Bobby Sands and nine other
men died fighting for political status and against the
British policy of criminalization. The strike marked the
culmination of years of protest, an escalation proclaiming
that "only the loud voice of the Irish people and world
opinion can bring them to their senses and only a hunger
strike, where lives are laid down as proof of the strength
of our political convictions, can rally such opinion," as
their statement described.

I met Laurence McKeown in the offices of Coiste na n-
Iarchimí, the republican ex-prisoner organization where he
works, in Belfast last December. We discussed his
experiences on hunger strike and its effects on his health,
the legacy of 1981, the war in Iraq, and briefly,
Guantánamo. He spoke of his motivation for participation in
the strikes, saying that being involved in the struggle
against British colonialism in Ireland "means you've
accepted that you would end up dead or in prison, so there
was already a commitment there, an element of self-
sacrifice or preparedness for it. When you think of the
hunger strike, you often might say-maybe in particular if
you're American-you're often surprised that there is that
level of commitment, but there's a different political and
cultural history over here."

Morrison and many others believe that the lack of popular
British support enabled Thatcher's intransigence and
allowed ten men to die as a result of the Irish hunger
strikes in 1981. There is an eerie similarity to the United
States government's arrogance regarding Guantánamo, as the
Bush administration continues to deny the internees their
basic human rights under federal and international law and
maintains its position that the "enemy combatants"
currently being held are a threat to national security
despite rapidly surmounting evidence to the contrary.

McKeown thinks that the corporate media plays one of the
biggest roles in the charade, allowing people to turn a
blind eye. Referring to the British policy of criminalizing
the political acts of the republican movement, he says,
"the media were there trying to push [the idea that] 'these
people are terrorists, these people are criminals, so
therefore you can do whatever you want to them.'the first
thing is being able to portray them as "non-people" and in
America [right now] as far as laws are concerned these are

This classification as a non-person, in both the legal and
social realms, allows the government to manipulate people's
fear of terrorism into a calculated dismissal of the
conditions of the prisoners at Guantánamo.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Irish
hunger strikes. On March 1st, I stood beside Bobby Sands'
grave in Belfast's Milltown Cemetery, on the anniversary of
the first day that he went without. As I stood there and
contemplated his sacrifice and conviction, I thought about
the international response and outpouring of support that
met the news of Sands' death on May 5, 1981. There were
dem-onstrations all over the world, from Western Europe to
Australia to India to Iran. World leaders stood up to
condemn the British government for allowing Sands, who had
been elected a member of Parliament during the hunger
strike, to die. Members of the Senate, including Ted
Kennedy, sent Margaret Thatcher a letter in protest of her
"inflexible posture which must lead inevitably to more
senseless violence and death." There were marches in cities
across the U.S., from New York to Boston to Chicago to San
Francisco. State legislatures passed resolutions: New
York's resolution expressed sympathy while condemning the
British government, Rhode Island declared a day of
mourning, and my home state of New Jersey officially
honored Sands' courage and commitment. On the day of Sands'
funeral, all British ships were blocked by the
Longshoreman's Union.

Standing in the republican plot at Milltown that day, I
also thought about the men hunger striking in Guantánamo
and how the U.S. gov-ernment does not believe that they
deserve to be treated as prisoners of war as defined by the
Geneva Conventions. I thought, too, about a story that
Sands recounted in his Writings from Prison, called "The
Lark and the Freedom Fighter." In the story, Sands recalls
a tale told by his grandfather about the lark, whose
imprisonment, as the symbol of freedom and happiness, was
the greatest cruelty of all. After being locked in a cage,
the lark no longer sung. Her spirit of resistance and
desire to be free meant that she would rather die than
submit to a life lived in a cage controlled by another's
whim. Sands compares his plight to that of the lark, and
contrasts both with that of the ordinary prisoner. Sands
wrote: "I feel something in common with that poor bird. My
position is in total contrast to that of an ordinary
conforming prisoner: I too am a political prisoner, a
freedom fighter. Like the lark, I too have fought for my
freedom, not only in captivity, where I now languish, but
also while on the outside, where my country is held
captive. I have been captured and imprisoned, but, like the
lark, I too have seen the outside of the wire cage."

I do not doubt that Binyam Mohammed and his brothers
imprisoned at Guantánamo have any less courage than did
Sands and his fellow Irish martyrs.

This year, I will attend many hunger strike commemoration
events, where I will continue to celebrate the lives of
Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Patsy O'Hara, Raymond
McCreesh, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran
Doherty, Thomas McElwee, and Michael Devine, as well as
Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg-while expressing my
opposition to what is happening at the U.S. interrogation
camp. What better way to honor their memories, to pay
tribute to their legacy, than to stand up against the
disgrace that is Guantánamo and the war in Iraq.

Sands once said, "We must see our present fight through to
the very end. Generations will continue to meet the same
fight unless the perennial oppressor is removed." First in
Ireland, then in Iraq, now in Guantánamo. "Everyone,
Republican or otherwise, has their own particular part to
play. No part is too great or too small, no one is too old
or too young to do something."

Kate McCabe is an editor of Critical Moment magazine and an
active member of the Irish American Unity Conference. She
can be reached at:

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