News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

June 30, 2006

Table of Contents - 06/06

Table of Contents – 06/06
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Table of Contents 05/06
Table of Contents 04/06
Table of Contents 03/06

06/28/06 - IAUC Loses Confidence in Hain

06/28/06 - More Pictures from Ireland

06/21/06 - Irish Lobby Group Back in Washington

06/19/06 - IRA No Longer Involved in Fundraising

06/19/06 - Gerry Kelly - Bodenstown Address

06/15/06 - Action Item for Malachy McAllister

06/13/06 - Hain Appoints 2 To Chair Committee

06/11/06 - Pictures from Ireland

06/07/06 - US at Odds With Brits on SF Fundraising

06/05/06 - Saving Cash on £7 Tout

06/02/06 - Hain 'U-Turn' On Assembly Debates
BB 06/02/06 Hain 'U-Turn' On Assembly Debates
IT 06/02/06 DUP Claims Victory In Stormont Debates Row
BT 06/02/06 UVF Leadership Sanctioned Haddock Murder Bid
BB 06/02/06 Man Held Over Loyalist Gun Attack
UT 06/02/06 McCord Claims UVF Will Not Stop
BN 06/02/06 Orde: Too Soon To Blame UVF For Killing
BB 06/02/06 Lord Mayor To 'Work For Everyone'
BB 06/01/06 Pair Remanded On Real IRA Charges
DT 05/26/06 Local GP Recalls Bloody Sunday Evidence 'Distress'
BT 06/02/06 Opin: Six Bullets ... And Empey Feels Heat
IT 06/02/06 Opin: Sir Reg Tears Up Pretences
TO 06/02/06 Opin: Was MI6 Behind The Brighton Bomb?
IT 06/02/06 Irish Spend 3 Times More On Alcohol Than EU Counterparts
IT 06/02/06 'Psychics' To Complain Again About Pat Kenny
IT 06/02/06 Dogs Still Present On Lahinch Strand Despite Summer Ban

06/01/06 – Alliance Refuse To Back UUP Mayor
BB 05/31/06 Alliance Refuse To Back UUP Mayor
GU 05/31/06 Shooting Politics In Stormont
SF 06/01/06 Collusion Summit Needed After UVF Murder Attempt
BN 06/01/06 Orde Facing Questions About Shooting Of Leading Loyalist
BT 06/01/06 Haddock 'Set Up' By His Former UVF Comrades
FN 06/01/06 Fifer Admits UDA Membership
SF 06/01/06 Questions Raised For OO After Scottish UDA Conviction
IP 06/01/06 Memorial Plan For Bombing Victims
IM 06/01/06 Public Meeting On The 1981 Hunger Strikes
NL 06/01/06 I Got Scap, Now I'm After You
LW 05/31/06 Fraud And White Collar Crime: Beyond Borders
UT 05/31/06 New NI Supercouncil Chief Named
SF 05/31/06 DUP Position Exposed By Demand To Free Poyntzpass Killers
IC 05/31/06 Opin: Fr. Des - Unionism’s Twisted Logic
BT 06/01/06 Opin: Loach's Winning Movie Has Many Irish Connections
BB 06/01/06 Blue Flags For Eight NI Beaches
WP 06/01/06 History Has Shown Davitt To Be Far Ahead Of His Time
WP 06/01/06 Bloody Good Farce: The Gory 'Inishmore'

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June 28, 2006

IAUC Loses Confidence in Hain

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mike Cummings (w) 518 482 0349 or (h) 518 447 4802


Washington, D.C. June 28, 2006 - The Irish American Unity Conference
(IAUC) has said Irish America has lost confidence in Britain's
Northern Secretary State Peter Hain to fairly manage the peace

In a statement today, IAUC President Dr. Robert Linnon said: "A series
of controversial decisions by Peter Hain which have been clearly and
unashamedly designed to bolster unionism and disadvantage nationalism
have undermined his authority and standing in Irish America. Mr. Hain
has become a team player for the DUP and not a referee, making it
impossible for him to bring the pressure to bear on Dr Paisley's party
which is needed if the political logjam is to be broken."

Dr. Linnon pointed out five major areas where Mr. Hain has made
decisions that hark back to the days of unionist rule at Stormont
rather than the era of fair play supposedly ushered in by the Good
Friday Agreement. These were:

1. Bending the rules of the Parades Commission appointments process to
put two obviously biased Orangemen on the Commission while making no
effort to have the views of nationalist residents represented. This
decision is continuing to be challenged in the courts by the residents
of Garvaghy Road.

2. Appointing a head of the Victims' Commission after consulting alone
with the DUP. Again this decision is being challenged by nationalist
victims' groups in the courts.

3. Blocking demands for a full investigation of British security force
collusion in the case of murdered human rights attorney Pat Finucane
and seeking to frustrate attempts by nationalists to uncover the truth
about past killings by the British security forces.

4. Refusing start-up assistance and advertising on a par with other
pro-government newspapers to the pro-United Ireland newspaper Daily

5. His imprisonment of republican Sean Kelly in June 2005 showed that
Mr. Hain is more interested in pandering to the DUP than pushing
forward the peace process."

Dr. Linnon said Mr. Hain's pandering continues to the present day with
the proffering of a November 24 deadline to the DUP when they should
be told to get the power-sharing Executive up and running now.


For comment, please contact: Mike Cummings: (w) 518 482 0349 or (h)
518 447 4802


National Office
611 Pennsylvania Ave, SE # 4150
Washington, D.C. 20003

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More Pictures from Ireland

The Posing Goat

Hi all,

Here is probably the final installment of "what we did on our summer vacation" for 2006. We return next Monday and we are Dublin doing some genealogical research. (No, the goat is NOT family!! I don’t think.)

We saw "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" last night. Very, very powerful!
You can find this group of Jay’s pics at:

You can find this group of Bertha’s pics at:

All of the pics can be found at:

If you would like any individual picture, just email me with the picture name & I will be happy to send you a copy via email.


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June 21, 2006

Irish Group to Lobby Washington Again

Irish Group To Lobby Washington, Again

By Gerald McKinstry
The Journal News

(Original publication: June 21, 2006)

An Irish activist group that has been lobbying for
immigration changes is heading back to Washington. This
time, it is focusing on the House of Representatives.

On June 28, the New York-based Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform will go to the capital to bolster support for
immigration changes in the House. A Senate bill, known as
the Kennedy-McCain bill, passed last month.

Organizers said they would try to meet with several
congressmen - namely Reps. Pete King, R-Long Island; Tom
Tancredo, R-Colo.; and F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.; and
Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, - who now do not
support the Senate's version.

"We're hopefully going to change their views and hopefully
they'll realize this is the best way to fix a broken
immigration system," said Matt Reilly, a Blauvelt man who
has been active in the immigration movement. "We're going
to talk to them and persuade them to support the Kennedy-
McCain bill."

The lobby group expected Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to
join them. The Senate bill was introduced last year by
Kennedy and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

It called for a guest-worker program that would admit up to
200,000 people per year; hiring of more Border Patrol
agents; building hundreds of miles of fencing on the
border; and allowing illegal immigrants who have been in
the country for at least five years to remain, pay $2,000
in fines and settle back taxes, among other provisions.

It is estimated that the number of illegal immigrants
ranges from 6 million to 11 million and that there are
between 40,000 and 50,000 from Ireland in the United

In March, thousands from the Lower Hudson Valley, the Bronx
Queens, Stamford, Conn., Boston and Philadelphia marched on
the capital to lobby senators. A month later, McCain
visited the Bronx as part of a town hall meeting sponsored
by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

Kelly Fincham, director of the immigration group, said the
trip in March that focused on the Senate was a success and
she expected similar numbers for this trip.

"We're prepared to knock on all 531 doors," she said. "We
would hope to be changing some minds in the House."

Leaders who oppose the Senate's version have raised
concerns about potentially granting amnesty to immigrants.

King, for example, has said cracking down on illegal
immigration was paramount in the post-Sept. 11 world. His
approach called for stricter immigration laws that pay
particular attention to border controls and enforcement. He
has also proposed making it a crime to be in this country

That has many in the Irish community concerned, but Fincham
hoped the trip might change King's mind.

"There's still room for him to be a friend of the Irish,"
she said.

If you go

What: The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform is going to
Washington as part of its efforts to advance immigration
change in the House.
Cost: free
When: June 28
Where: Buses leave from Katonah Avenue in the Bronx at 5
Information: Call 845-359-0392 or 914-595-2558. Visit the
group's Web site at

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June 19, 2006

IRA No Longer Involved in Fundraising


06/19/06 11:39 EST

A report outlining the rate of serious and organised crime

in Northern Ireland has found that the IRA is no longer

involved in fundraising.

The Organised Crime Task Force - a multi-agency group

including police, customs and excise; the Assets Recovery

Agency; and government ministers - estimates that £600

million (US$1 Billion) is raised annually in the North

through organised crime by both paramilitary and criminal gangs.

The content of the task force's annual report concurs with a

statement by the IRA last July in which the organisation

said its units were stood down and ordered to cease all


"The IRA, as an organisation, has stopped its involvement in

organised crime, although old habits die hard for some

individuals," a senior task force source said.

"Any money still being raised by either past or present IRA

members is not going towards its activities," he said.

"Loyalists, however, remain actively involved in all forms

of organised crime, particularly drug-dealing."

The task force said the main areas of concern included fuel

smuggling along the Border, illegal dumping,

money-laundering, extortion, drug dealing and armed robbery.

The British government believes that up to two-thirds of

organised crime networks are paramilitary-linked.

The report found that loyalist paramilitaries continue to

deal drugs and run a series of other money-spinning scams

including counterfeiting, money lending and armed robbery.

The report also said that dissident republican groups have

used the proceeds from shifting contraband goods, robbery

and intellectual property crime to fund attacks on British

security forces.


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Gerry Kelly - Bodenstown Address

Gerry Kelly - Bodenstown Address
Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member and MLA for North Belfast Gerry Kelly on Sunday delivered the main address at the annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown attended by thousands of republicans from across the island and beyond.

Full Text

A Chairde agus a chomradaithe,

Is onóir mór domhsa bheith anseo inniu, ag labhairt libh ar an lá stairiúl seo, comrade ar bhás Wolfe Tone, measc pairceanna Chontae Chill Dára.

Tá sé iontach Sprague domh teach chugaibh ar lá gálanta mar seo go dtí an uaigh seo agus amharc thart ar na slaite ó gach ceann dea tir seo, idir sean agus óg, atá bail the inníu.

Tá muid ag tabhairt ómós don duine ach níos mó ná sin, at muid ag tabhairt ómós don ailing a spreag daoine le níos mó ná dha chéad blain le dul amach chun troid agau eagrú agus obair go crua ar son saoirse na haileáin bheag seo a bhaint amach.

I am very honoured to be here today to speak of those who fought and died for the freedom of the people of Ireland and to do so at the graveside of Theobald Wolfe Tone, the father of Irish Republicanism.

Here was a visionary. An Irish republican, a father, brother, husband and son. A lawyer, a writer, a gun-runner. A civil rights activist who became a revolutionary because in his time freedom and equality was impossible without revolution. Here was a young protestant man, as many in the leadership of the United Irish men were. His commitment and dedication was such that he was able, after arriving in France in February of 1796, on the run, to convince the French Republican government to send a fleet of 15,000 soldiers off to Ireland. He convinced them to put their most experienced General Lazare Hoche in charge of the expedition, who in turn, appointed Wolfe Tone as an Adjutant General in the French army. He was so persuasive that after an atrocious sea storm aborted the landing at Bantry Bay the French sent three further fleets - one in 1797 and the other two in 1798. The year of the great rebellion.

Unfortunately he was captured by the British off the Donegal coast in 1798 and died in jail just before he was due to be hanged on the gallows.

He would find good company here today.

But perhaps his biggest achievement was his vision. His ideas of freedom were boundless and more importantly he acted on them. Those ideas have inspired the oppressed in Ireland and throughout the world ever since. It is a fire still burning in the heart of every Irish republican.

This year is also the 90th anniversary of the 1916 rising and Wolfe Tone‚s tremendous influence can be seen in Pádraig Pearse‚s 'The Separatist Idea' published in 1916. We can also see the commitment, determination and courage of Tone in those who gave their lives in the Hunger Strike of 1981 some 25 years ago. This is also the 30th anniversary of Vol. Frank Stagg and the 60th anniversary of Seán McCaughey who both died on Hunger Strike.

In commemorating and celebrating the bravery of Wolfe Tone and our fallen comrades since then, I want to pay tribute to the volunteers and leadership of the IRA today because they have shown outstanding valour and vision on and off the battlefield. They have played the most pivotal role in this phase of the struggle and I commend their initiatives, patience, discipline and tenacity.

If courage were the yardstick of success then the British would be long gone.

Indeed individual and collective courage have been the mainstay of this long struggle. It was the courage shown by the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann in calling a cessation of military operations in 1994 which was the catalyst for not only the overall peace process but for the ongoing development of the republican strategy which has brought us so far.

Since we last gathered here in 2005 the Irish Republican Army announced that it has formally ended its armed campaign. This was a courageous and truly historic step to advance the cause of peace and the cause of Irish freedom.

Although this is the first time I've been on the platform at Bodenstown, I have spoken at the gravesides of many fallen comrades so let me repeat what I have consistently stated, I don't know what Wolfe Tone would think of our present day strategy and tactics or indeed what James Connolly or Bobby Sands or Mairead Farrell or Sheena Campbell or other friends who were killed during the present phase of struggle might say.

I do know that we all agree with Tone's words, still relevant two hundred and more years after his death;

To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government,

To break the connection with England,

The never failing source of all our political evils,

And to assert the independence of my country-

These were my objects.

To unite the whole people of Ireland,

To abolish the memory of all past dissensions,

And to substitute the common name of Irishman

In place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter-

These were my means,

- Theobald Wolfe Tone

We strive for that same independence and unity.

I do know that those who are left behind, those who survive must take up the mantle and do the best we can in the era that we live in. We must lead, we must strategise and use tactics suitable and workable to the 21st century. That is the onerous task our fallen comrades leave to us.

Now there are turning points in a nation‚s history that change the course of that nations people. 1798 was such a point, the 1916 rising was such an event as was the Hunger Strike of 1981. Despite the profound difficulties for many Republicans the IRA statement of July 28th, 2005 is another such event. The IRA has provided a golden opportunity to advance a new era in our long struggle. It is crucial that this opportunity be grasped by Republicans and opponents alike.

In the coming weeks there will be renewed efforts to advance the peace process. Republicans had taken hugely important decisions. It is time for others to respond in like manner. The challenge is there not just for the DUP but more importantly for the British and Irish government.

The inescapable question for the DUP is whether they are prepared to join with the rest of us in sharing power. If they refuse then it is the two governments who must deliver on their commitments to jointly implement all other elements of the Good Friday Agreement. Unionism must be shown that power sharing is much more preferable than British ministers implementing policies over their heads which are detrimental to the lives of everyone living in Ireland, nationalist or unionist.

Many people will be frustrated at the slow pace of progress and angry that those opposed to change are being pandered to. However these are the perennial tactics of our opponents.

Our response lies in our strengths; Sinn Féin has become the largest nationalist party in the North. We became the 3rd largest party in Ireland. We are the only all-Ireland party. We have the capability of achieving a united Ireland and we must continue constantly building the capacity to achieve that goal.

We will only do that by leading with courage and imagination, by taking initiatives and above all by hard work. More and more people in Ireland North and South are joining us and looking to us for leadership. It has meant activists changing and adapting their role in our struggle. Perhaps few activists thought they could adapt, but, as they say ˆ „the proof is in the pudding‰. It has been the Republican ability to face each new situation, each new obstacle to overcome, in an open and imaginative way which has proven the versatility and ability of the Republican activist. There is no lack of work and make no mistake, the effort that republicans put into this struggle is the envy of political struggles the world over.

Sinn Féin is not going to stand by and allow Human rights, equality, ending discrimination, the rights of Irish language speakers, the achievement of an acceptable policing service or any other of our rights, to be subject to any unionist veto. These are our rights and we will persist until they are achieved. Let‚s also remember POW‚s still incarcerated. There are still political prisoners in jail. There are people on the run. They all should be free to be with their families.

Let us also here today pledge our ongoing support for the families of those killed across this island through the British State policy of collusion over many decades. Their refusal to accept the lies and cover-up of the British State is an inspiration for the rest of us, and more importantly is a clear reminder for the British government that this issue will not go away.

Sinn Féin believes in people. We believe in empowering people, in working in partnership with local communities to tackle problems and map out new alternative policies.

One of the most encouraging aspects of this phase of our struggle has been the numbers of young people attracted to our party. A new generation of activists are taking their place in the struggle and we must ensure that place is secured. We are the only political party, which is experiencing such growth, and it is a sign that young men and women see this party as a vehicle for change for a new generation. The first people out to defend our areas against physical attack are youth ˆ they are needed in the vanguard of our political project.

Our goal is to see a united Ireland, which delivers real social and economic change. We are the only party with a strategy and policies for achieving Irish unity and independence. An all-Ireland democracy. An Ireland of Equals.

We will never again accept the status of second class citizens North or South. Neither will we ever impose second class citizenship upon anyone else.

But unionists too have responsibilities and this includes the need to break with sectarian politics. The politics of domination.

However, we are mindful that for many unionists the change we have embarked upon is a terrifying prospect. Change is always difficult. When taken in the context of a conflict resolution process, change can be traumatic. And this can be mr party would go into coalition with anybody to make up the numbers.

Sinn Féin wants to be in government, North and South. We want to see change in the here and now. We are about building a complete alternative to the kind of government which presides over one of the wealthiest economies in the world yet is failing to deliver.

Despite 15 years of unprecedented economic growth. 15% of our children live in constant poverty.

Patients are left for days on end on hospital trolleys.

Remember that in 1980 there were over 17,500 acute hospital beds now there are only 12,000 for an increased population. And, if you are rich you many jump the queue for treatment ˆ a queue that for the poor is never ending.

44,000 families are on the social housing waiting list while building land around our cities is controlled by a small cartel of speculators who have friends in high places.

And to cap it all the government hands over our natural resources to multi nationals like Shell and then jails a few brave Mayo men for standing up to Shell.

The people Sinn Féin represents have rights. So does everyone on this island, North and South alike. We have a vision. Our goal is an Irish unity that is inclusive, that everyone including unionists will feel welcome in, that they are a part of.

There is much work to do. But we believe that we are in the countdown to a united Ireland. We believe that together we can make great strides forward and truly transform Irish society on this island forever.

Is the British government up for this?

Time will tell.

Is the Irish government up for this?

Let‚s test that. The Irish government has after all a constitutional imperative to work for a united Ireland.

There are simple things the government in Dublin can do but inexplicably refuse to do.

MP‚s elected in the 6 counties should be accorded speaking rights in the Dail.

Voting rights for Presidential elections should be extended to citizens in the six counties.

Let us see action on these rights as a small beginning.

Is Sinn Féin up for it?

The answer is a word unionist political leaders need to learn. The answer is an emphatic YES. Sinn Féin is up for making this work. Our activists and supporters are up for it.

Is the IRA up for it?

Who, except for the most vitriolic and blind anti-republican elements could doubt that the IRA is up for it. Republicans have stretched themselves repeatedly to put the process back on track.

Sinn Féin is in this process to the end. We want the British government and the Irish government and the unionists to work with us and finish the work we have all started. The length of the journey can be shortened and the ups and downs on the road can be smoothed out if we go at it collectively. If we do it together.

All of you here today are part of the fastest growing party in Ireland. Whether it is here in Bodenstown, or in Derry, or Upper Bann, or North Antrim or Wexford, or Dublin or Belfast, or South Armagh, or Cork it is clear that Sinn Féin is winning more and more hearts and minds right across the island. Everyday there are more and more Irish republicans. We are building our political strength.

Republicans are not chained by history. They learn from it and use it. That is why important initiatives have been taken on so many occasions. While unionists are fixated with slowing down and frustrating change republicans want more change, want to move on from the past. But there will be a need for more discipline and a well of patience by republicans. More courage is called for. Those who have set their minds against change will be more provocative. The bigots and the securocrats dream of wrecking the structure of change. They want to destroy rather than build. Their tools are bigotry, mistrust, political policing and paramilitary attacks. They should be starved of anything that feeds their frenzy.

Republicans have a better vision. I am confident that we will build on our achievements and substantially increase our political strength. We must continue to build on that strength, the stronger we are the closer our goal of a free independent, and united Ireland will come.

We face difficult challenges ahead but also there are great opportunities. We stand on the threshold of historic change. Standing on the deck of a ship heading into battle as Wolfe Tone did, is one way to experience the historical moment. Many generations before us have struggled for a united Ireland. For hundreds of years we have struggled. It is, however, our generation who have the potential of achieving that goal. All struggles are won on the accumulation of many smaller battles. Do your bit, win your battle and you will have brought the day of freedom of our country that much closer. Remember our fallen comrades were ordinary people in extradionary circumstances who rose to the challenge. There are young people here today who have that same ability. So go out and do what we do best.

Mar sin, sin mo mheíd ata go leir ráite agam ach, Bígí cinnte go dtiocfaidh ar lá.

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June 15, 2006

Action Item for Malachy McAllister

Mid NJ Chapter President and longtime IAUC member Eileen Kelly Kean informed us that her son Sean Kean, who is a NJ assemblyman, has introduced a resolution in the NJ Assembly supporting Malachy McAllister. The proposed resolution is AR182 and can be viewed at:

ACTION ITEM: Members & friends should contact the office of co-sponsor, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, and request that he release the resolution before the assembly adjourns at the end of this month.

His phone number is # 1-908-624-0880.

To send him an email click on Contact Your Legislator/Electronic Mail:

Also, THANK YOU! to Sean Kean for his support in introducing this resolution. His contact information can be found at:

Jerry Lally
National Political Action Chair
Irish American Unity Conference

June 13, 2006

Hain Appoints 2 to Chair Committee

Hain Appoints Two Deputy Speakers To Chair Committee

06/12/06 10:47 EST

Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain today
appointed the Stormont Assembly's two deputy speakers to
chair a committee preparing for the return of devolved

After a week of deadlock between the Democratic Unionist
Party and the other Northern parties on who should chair the
Preparation for Government Committee, Mr Hain decided to
take the decision himself.

He said: "I would have preferred not to have had to issue a
decision on this procedural matter."

Deputy Speakers Jim Wells of the Democratic Unionist and
Francie Molloy of Sinn Féin will chair the committee which
has been tasked with identifying issues ahead of the
November 24th deadline for the return of a power sharing

Assembly members on the committee last week rowed over how
the committee should be chaired.

The Democratic Unionists had wanted Stormont Speaker Eileen
Bell to take charge of the committee. She refused, seeking
legal advice to back her refusal.

The other parties on the committee - Sinn Féin, the Ulster
Unionists, the nationalist SDLP and the Alliance Party -
suggested that the chairmanship should be rotated between
all the parties but that was vetoed by the DUP.

Mr Hain issued a direction to the Assembly speaker today
calling a meeting of the Preparation for Government
Committee at 4pm local time and announcing that Mr Wells and
Mr Molloy would from now on chair its meetings.

His statement stressed that the Deputy Speakers would chair
the meetings as impartial presiding officers and not as
representatives of their respective parties.

Earlier, Mr Hain said that he "would have preferred not to
have had to issue a direction on this procedural matter".

"The deadlock must not be allowed to stand in the way of the
important work that needs to be done," he added.

Mr Hain said all the parties had "accepted that deadlock
must not be allowed to stand in the way of the important
work that needs to be done to prepare for the return of
locally accountable government."

"The committee's initial task is to identify the issues that
need to be addressed to prepare for government and to refer
appropriate topics that need to be publicly aired and
debated in the assembly as part of the preparation process,"
he said.

The DUP had taken most of the blame from the other parties
for the deadlock.

The Irish American Information Service is a non-profit organization
providing up-to-the-minute political news from Ireland to the world.
The IAIS is funded entirely by your contributions. Please send your
tax-deductible contributions to IAIS at the 907 F St NE, Washington
DC 20002. You can visit us on the Web at

June 11, 2006

Pictures From Ireland

Hello from Ireland!!

We won't be sending you too many emails during June, but we will try
to upload a few pics. So log on, to see what we have seen!

Bertha & I both have albums to share. Go to:

We will try to update it every couple of days.


June 07, 2006

US at Odds With Brits on SF Fundraising,,3-2212310,00.html

US at odds with allies over bar on Sinn Fein fundraising

From Tom Baldwin in Washington

BRITAIN is pressing President Bush’s Administration to lift a fundraising ban imposed last year on the leadership of Sinn Fein, The Times has learnt.

But Mitchell Reiss, Mr Bush’s special envoy to Northern Ireland, has so far refused to heed calls from the British and Irish governments. They believe that Sinn Fein should be rewarded for renouncing its armed struggle and decommissioning IRA weapons.

Both sides are playing down any talk of a significant row, although sources in London have confirmed that “there is a clear difference of opinion between us on this issue”.

A senior US official acknowledged that it was “ironic” that Britain, having spent years fulminating over the millions of dollars raised by the Irish Northern Aid Committee (Noraid) to finance Sinn Fein and the IRA, should be seeking to get a fundraising ban lifted.

Restrictions were reintroduced by the Bush Administration last year after controversy over the IRA’s alleged role in the murder of Robert McCartney and the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery.

These do not stop Friends of Sinn Fein (FOSF) raising up to $1 million a year.

Instead, the ban limits the scope of visas issued to leaders such as Gerry Adams, preventing him from participating in fundraising. He had relished his star status in America since an earlier travel ban was lifted by President Clinton more than a decade ago.

Much of the $10 million-plus raised by FOSF has paid for luxury hotels and first-class flights for the party leadership, as well as the cost of staging events in the US. Less than 10 per cent of the money was registered to Sinn Fein back in Ireland.

Mr Bush’s ban has proved costly and personally humiliating for Mr Adams. In March FOSF had to refund more than $100,000 to supporters who attended a St Patrick’s Day breakfast in Washington with the Sinn Fein leader. The party president then missed a political event in Buffalo, New York State, when he was delayed at an airport by security staff who spotted his name on a federal terrorist alert list.

Since then, Mr Reiss is understood to have held talks with Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, over lifting the ban. The British Government’s official position is that this “remains a matter for the US authorities”. But privately, Mr Hain believed that Sinn Fein deserved credit for the progress made during the past year and, perhaps, needs to demonstrate to its own community that their sacrifices have been recognised.

Mr Reiss, however, believes that the ban remains a useful lever on Sinn Fein in general — and the party’s refusal to sign up to Northern Ireland’s policing structures in particular.

Mr Reiss confirmed yesterday that he had spoken to the British and Irish governments about the ban, adding: “We remain in close consultation on this matter.”

He told The Times: “This is not so much about pressure from the US Government. If there is any pressure it is from inn Fein’s own constituents to remove sociopaths from their neighbourhoods.”

Significantly, he highlighted his recent article in an Irish-American publication, which stated: “In a worst-case scenario, Sinn Fein will not join policing for many, many years. Who polices these communities until then?” British officials believe that recent remarks from Sinn Fein leaders indicate that it is preparing to change its mind on participating in policing.

A special conference may be held in September, which could help to persuade the White House to lift the fundraising ban by November — the month when Sinn Fein last year hosted a $5,000-a-table dinner in New York.


1994 President Clinton gives Gerry Adams US visa despite objections from Britian

1995 Clinton lifts the Sinn Fein fundraising ban in US. The organisation Friends of Sinn Fein USA set up. Americans donate more than $11 million (£5.9 million). Donations fall slightly after 9/11

2005 Fundraising ban is reimposed on by President Bush on Sinn Fein's leaders after Robert McCartney murder and Northern Bank robbery, both in Belfast


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June 05, 2006

Saving cash on '£7' tout

(Poster's Note: We are in Ireland; will try to post news when I get a chance. Jay)

Saving cash on '£7' tout

By Sunday Life Reporter04 June 2006

FREED loyalist informer Ken Barrett may be broke - but his release last week will save the Prison Service a whopping £200,000 per year.

Barrett - the only man convicted of murdering Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane - hasn't received a financial package from any government agency.

He was whisked out of Belfast last Tuesday afternoon just hours after being freed from Maghaberry Prison where he was serving a 22-year sentence for his part in the murder of the high profile lawyer.

His departure has saved the Prison Service £200,000 a year in costs because he had to be guarded round the clock by at least four prison officers due to fears he would be attacked by other UDA inmates.

Four specially trained officers also had to accompany Barrett every time he was moved from a segregation unit to a special visits or medical area.

The former UDA enforcer pleaded guilty to all the charges put against him in the Crown Court in September 2004 and never divulged his role in the infamous murder which is still being probed by the Stevens Inquiry team.
Ken Barrett's solicitor Joe Rice has already dismissed reports that the UDA killer has received a substantial 'financial package' as a payoff for keeping quiet about the murder.

"Ken Barrett left Belfast with £7 in his pocket. It's absolute nonsense to suggest that he received any financial package from the British Government, never mind a substantial financial package.

"Nothing could be further from the truth.

"He will be on benefits and his wife is surviving on benefits.

"He is broke."

Last month the Sentence Review Commission upheld Barrett's application to be considered for early release under the terms of the Prisoner Release Scheme which became law after the Belfast Agreement was signed.

The Secretary of State Peter Hain opposed Barrett's release on the grounds that he was likely to resume association with the UDA, a suggestion dismissed by sources in the outlawed organisation.

One senior UDA figure said: "Barrett would have got whacked just like (William) Stobie if he had returned to live in Belfast.

"He was a tout and nobody in the West or North Belfast Brigades would have trusted him.

"So I don't know where the Northern Ireland Office is getting this from."
Barrett served two years and eleven months for his part in the Finucane murder, which loyalist sources claim was simply to drive the gunmen to the solicitor's North Belfast home.

The main gunman is understood to be a senior UDA figure from the West Belfast Brigade who is currently facing serious criminal charges.

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June 02, 2006

Hain U-Turn On Assembly Debates

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 06/02/06 Hain 'U-Turn' On Assembly Debates
IT 06/02/06 DUP Claims Victory In Stormont Debates Row
BT 06/02/06 UVF Leadership Sanctioned Haddock Murder Bid
BB 06/02/06 Man Held Over Loyalist Gun Attack
UT 06/02/06 McCord Claims UVF Will Not Stop
BN 06/02/06 Orde: Too Soon To Blame UVF For Killing
BB 06/02/06 Lord Mayor To 'Work For Everyone'
BB 06/01/06 Pair Remanded On Real IRA Charges
DT 05/26/06 Local GP Recalls Bloody Sunday Evidence 'Distress'
BT 06/02/06 Opin: Six Bullets ... And Empey Feels Heat
IT 06/02/06 Opin: Sir Reg Tears Up Pretences
TO 06/02/06 Opin: Was MI6 Behind The Brighton Bomb?
IT 06/02/06 Irish Spend 3 Times More On Alcohol Than EU Counterparts
IT 06/02/06 'Psychics' To Complain Again About Pat Kenny
IT 06/02/06 Dogs Still Present On Lahinch Strand Despite Summer Ban


Hain 'U-Turn' On Assembly Debates

NI Secretary Peter Hain has made a U-turn on his decision
not to hold any debates at the assembly next week.

Mr Hain's announcement on Thursday had been met with
criticism from the DUP, the UUP, the SDLP and the Alliance.

But an NIO spokesman later confirmed Mr Hain would tell the
speaker assembly business could take place next Tuesday.

The DUP had threatened to boycott the new Preparation for
Government Committee had Mr Hain not changed his mind about
assembly business.

Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP and Alliance have said they will join
the new Preparation for Government Committee, which will be
chaired by assembly speaker Eileen Bell.

BBC Northern Ireland's political editor Mark Devenport
said, at this stage, it seemed that no party would boycott

However, the DUP has insisted that the committee should not
be a negotiating body.

On 15 May, Northern Ireland's politicians took their seats
in the Stormont assembly for the first time since October

While there is no immediate prospect of a power-sharing
executive being formed, the government hopes recalling the
politicians will help to pave the way towards a deal in the
autumn, by its deadline of 24 November.

Devolved government was suspended over allegations of a
republican spy ring. The court case that followed

Direct rule from London was restored in October 2002 and
has been in place since.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/06/01 18:47:56 GMT


DUP Claims Victory In Stormont Debates Row

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has been forced into
a U-turn on the sitting next week of the Stormont Assembly,
it was claimed last night.

The Reverend Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists claim Mr
Hain was forced to back down on a plan to hold no debates
for the second week running at Stormont after they
threatened not to participate in a special committee formed
at Stormont to prepare for devolved government.

There was outrage from unionists, nationalists and cross-
community politicians after Mr Hain informed Assembly
members there would be no debates next week.

Assembly members had suggested debates on the imposition of
rates on manufacturers in Northern Ireland and on the
British government's controversial plans for the shake-up
of local government and public bodies.

"Dr Paisley made it clear that there would be no
Preparation for Government Committee unless there was an
Assembly debate next week," a source said. "We have now
been informed a debate will take place."

Stormont sources speculated that the government was
unwilling to risk the prospect of the SDLP joining Sinn
Féin in boycotting the debates in protest at the British
Government's attitude to the reconvened Assembly.

The SDLP has initially agreed to participate in the debates
despite their reservations about the Assembly sitting
before the possible return of devolution.

The SDLP has given the British government a testing period
to prove it is willing to take the Assembly's will
seriously, particularly on motions which criticise British
Government policy in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin has said it will only participate in Assembly
business on the formation of a power-sharing executive. The
party has stayed away from two debates so far on the
economy and new planning regulations, claiming they were
pointless in the absence of devolution.


UVF Leadership Sanctioned Haddock Murder Bid

By Brian Rowan
02 June 2006

The UVF was behind the attempted murder of the informer
Mark Haddock, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.

The disclosure comes from a senior and credible source, who
spoke to this newspaper within the past 24 hours.

Another source has revealed that Haddock will know the
gunman who fired the shots that critically wounded him.

The only unanswered question is whether the UVF will now
formally admit to its involvement in the shooting.

It was not a maverick attack and nor was it carried out by
individuals acting without authority.

The background commentary on this shooting is that
Tuesday's attempt to kill Haddock resulted from the most
recent revelations about his informer activities.

But, according to reliable sources, he was de-activated - a
move that coincided with the opening of the Police
Ombudsman investigation four years ago into events
surrounding the 1997 murder of Raymond McCord Jnr and a
purge of the informer world ordered by the Chief Constable.

The police have not yet publicly linked the UVF to
Tuesday's shooting, but the confirmation obtained by this
newspaper that that group was involved will increase
pressure on the Ulster Unionists over their Stormont
arrangement with David Ervine.

The PUP leader, whose party has political links to the UVF,
has been saying in interviews that he believes there was no
authorisation for the shooting.

A lengthy consultation involving meetings in Northern
Ireland, Scotland and England has now been completed.

But the loyalist group is delaying making a declaration on
its future intentions until after the November 24 deadline
for a political deal at Stormont.

Next week, the Ulster Unionists will meet the Independent
Monitoring Commission - the body that reports to the
British and Irish Governments on continuing paramilitary
activity and the state of ceasefires.

The Haddock shooting - and who was responsible - will be
part of the agenda for that meeting.

A senior Ulster Unionist source said his party's objective
is to try to bring paramilitarism to an end, to get the
arms issue dealt with and to stop young people joining
loyalist organisations.

Meanwhile, Haddock is recovering from his injuries and has
been able to talk to family members from his hospital.

Anti-UVF campaigner Raymond McCord today challenged Chief
Constable Hugh Orde to order the arrest of Haddock over the
mounting allegations about his paramilitary past.

"The PSNI should not wait for the Ombudsman's report. Nuala
O'Loan is not investigating Mark Haddock, she has been
looking into the police investigation of my son's murder."


Man Held Over Loyalist Gun Attack

A man has been arrested by detectives investigating the
attempted murder of leading loyalist Mark Haddock, police
have said.

The 36-year-old, who remains seriously ill, was shot six
times in a gun attack in County Antrim on Tuesday.

Mr Haddock was shot at Mossley Orange Hall on the Doagh
Road in Newtownabbey after he got out of his car.

He is on bail on a charge of attempting to murder doorman
Trevor Gowdy at a social club in Monkstown.

He was named in that court case as a leading member of the
Ulster Volunteer Force. Judgement in the trial has been

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/06/02 11:49:47 GMT


McCord Claims UVF Will Not Stop

The Ulster Volunteer Force gunmen who shot rogue loyalist
Mark Haddock will not stop until he's dead, a paramilitary
victim's father has claimed.

Raymond McCord, who believes police protected the
terrorists involved in his son`s 1997 murder, also admitted
he would shed no tears if they succeeded in killing him.

His claim came as doctors treating Haddock declared him off
the critical list.

Haddock, 36, was ambushed at a meeting on Tuesday, which he
only agreed to because trusted friends assured him UVF
bosses wanted to put an end to rumours he was a Special
Branch agent, sources revealed.

"They met on what he thought was a safe place - a main road
in broad daylight," one said.

"He was told senior UVF men wanted to talk to him and get
the allegations sorted out."

Haddock, who has been on trial for attempted murder, was
shot six times.

Gunmen opened fire as he stepped out of his black Peugeot
206 on the Doagh Road, Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

The north Belfast man, who once controlled a notorious UVF
unit in the city`s Mount Vernon estate, is understood to
have been investigated by Police Ombudsman Nuala O`Loan.

Her officers have been probing a series of loyalist
murders, allegedly involving a Special Branch informant.

That inquiry began with an examination of the 1997 murder
of former RAF man Raymond McCord Jnr, who was battered to
death by the UVF and dumped in a quarry on the city`s
northern outskirts.

Mrs O`Loan`s findings, due for publication within weeks,
are expected to be explosive.

But Mr McCord, who has lobbied London, Dublin and
Washington for support during a nine year justice campaign,
suspects Haddock may not live to hear the outcome.

He said: "I believe the UVF will kill him.

"Within the Protestant community he`s a hated figure.

"He is despised and it`s all coming home on him now.

"I would rather he was arrested, but I can`t be a hypocrite
and say I`ll be sorry if he is killed."

Although the UVF`s political representatives denied the
organisation carried out the murder bid, two of Haddock`s
closest associates are believed to be under suspicion of

The burly loyalist had been living in a luxury apartment
close to a police station in Templepatrick, County Antrim -
five miles from the scene of the shooting.

He was out on bail while on trial accused of trying to kill
a nightclub doorman. A judge is due to deliver his verdict

Trevor Gowdy was found unconscious in the Monkstown estate,
Newtownabbey, following a ferocious beating in December

Mr Gowdy was allowed to testify against Haddock from a
secret location in England because he feared he would be
killed if forced to return to Northern Ireland.

As detectives continued their hunt for the men who shot
Haddock, Northern Ireland Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde
could not confirm if the UVF were to blame.

After privately briefing members of the Northern Ireland
Policing Board about the attack, he said: "It is too early
to say. It is 48 hours or so into the investigation.

"Until I have some hard evidence I am not going to say
anything that will get in the way of my investigating

All information will be passed to the Independent
Monitoring Commission, the body monitoring paramilitary
ceasefires, the police chief pledged.

Sir Hugh, who stressed police had previously objected to
Haddock being granted bail, added: "It is a very serious

"It was a determined attempt on Mr Haddock`s life and we
are determined to investigate it as fully as we are able to

"It is also important to remember Mr Haddock is currently
awaiting a finding by the criminal court in relation to a
very serious allegation made against him."


Orde: Too Soon To Blame UVF For Killing

01/06/2006 - 16:47:58

The North's chief constable has pledged to say as soon as
possible if he believes the UVF tried to murder one of its
former members.

He also appealed, at a policing board meeting, to both
Catholics and Protestants in Ballymena to work against

Hugh Orde said it was only 48 hours since loyalist Mark
Haddock was shot and too early to apportion blame to the

Asked if he felt constrained that the chairperson of the
PUP, linked to the UVF, is on the Policing Board, he said
he wasn't.

He said Dawn Pervis had given him insights into her
community and he was anxious to see Sinn Féin members join
up to represent their electorate.

On secterian tensions in Ballymena, where Catholic
schoolboy Michael McIlveen was murdered, he said police
were doing what they could, but the community must help.


Lord Mayor To 'Work For Everyone'

Belfast's new lord mayor has pledged to work for everyone
in the city regardless of their background.

Pat McCarthy of the SDLP received backing from all parties,
except Sinn Fein when he was elected at a meeting in City
Hall on Thursday.

Mr McCarthy has been a councillor for five years,
representing areas including the Markets and Lower Ormeau.
It was the first time a nationalist lord mayor was elected
with the backing of the DUP.

He is the council's fourth nationalist lord mayor and will
replace the DUP's Wallace Browne.

DUP councillor Ruth Patterson has been elected as his
deputy for what will be Belfast City Hall's centenary year.

Mr McCarthy said he "wanted to have an input into the
future" of Belfast.

"We have a lot of catching up to do. We have come out of 30
years of turmoil and I want to see a brighter future for
all," he told BBC News on Friday.

"I am a parent. I have two sons and a daughter, and I want
them to live and work within our city and not have to get
the boat or plane as other children have done before them."

He added: "I believe in reaching out to people... I work
for all people. If anyone asks for my help, I don't care
what colour or creed they are, if I can help them, then
that's my job."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/06/02 08:13:13 GMT


Pair Remanded On Real IRA Charges

Two men have been remanded in custody on charges of Real
IRA membership and smuggling cigarettes worth £1m.

Aidan Grew, 50, from Benburb Street, Blackwatertown, and
Noel Abernathy, 37, of Glebe Mews, Dungannon, appeared at
Banbridge Magistrates Court.

Mr Abernathy was also charged with having articles for use
in terrorism.

Defence solicitors claimed evidence from MI5 agent David
Rupert formed the basis of the prosecution case. A police
officer refused to comment.

The defence also claimed their clients had been denied
private consultation with their legal team.

Both men were remanded in custody until 20 June.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/06/01 17:02:01 GMT


Local GP Recalls Bloody Sunday Evidence 'Distress'

DR. RAYMOND McClean - who attended most of the post mortem
examinations of those shot dead on Bloody Sunday - has
spoken for the first time of the "emotional distress" he
experienced while giving evidence to the Saville Inquiry.

The retired Derry GP claims he was "unfairly treated"
during his testimony to the probe in December 2001.

Speaking to the 'Journal' this week, Dr. McClean - who told
the Saville tribunal that some of the Bloody Sunday dead
may have been shot by deliberately tampered 'dum dum'
bullets - claimed his credibility as a witness had been
called into question during his evidence.

"On an emotional basis," he said, "I left the witness box
distressed and totally fatigued.

"I felt that, for the first time in my professional career,
my personal integrity had been very seriously attacked. I
also felt that I had been left with no adequate means of
reply or redress."

During his evidence, claims Dr. McClean, he endured a
particularly "lengthy and arduous cross examination" from
Edwin Glasgow QC - senior counsel for most of the British
soldiers at the Inquiry.

This cross-examination, says the GP, left him "physically

This, he says, was in direct contrast to his testimony to
the Cameron, Himsworth and Scarman probes which took place
in the late 1960s.

"In each of these investigations I felt entirely
comfortable, in that I was allowed to give my evidence
without hindrance and was treated with respect at all

"My experience in giving evidence to the Bloody Sunday
Inquiry was entirely different."

Dr. McClean - who had no personal legal representation at
the Inquiry - believes he received no "protection" during
his evidence to the tribunal.

He added: "My experience at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry is
probably best explained by focusing on its logical and
emotional aspects.

"Turning to the logical experience, I left the witness box
frustrated and with the clear understanding that I had not
been given the opportunity to put forward evidence which
had come to my attention since I had submitted my original
written statement to the tribunal."

Emotionally, he says, he was treated unfairly with the
"major emphasis" being to question his credibility as a

Tribunal chairman, Lord Saville, however, expressed the
opinion that the doctor had not been 'unfairly treated."

Dr. McClean says he has since written to the Inquiry
seeking an apology.

"No apology has, as yet been received," he said. "However,
I shall continue to live in hope."

26 May 2006


Opin: Six Bullets ... And Empey Feels Heat

As UVF sources admit the attack on Mark Haddock, security
expert Brian Rowan assesses the political fall-out

02 June 2006

The Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey will be feeling
the heat of the political kitchen right now.

Even before the UVF fired six shots into Mark Haddock on
Tuesday, there was some serious questioning of Sir Reg's
judgement in inviting David Ervine to join the Ulster
Unionist Group at Stormont - not just a questioning from
outside the party but from inside it as well.

That questioning will be all the more intense as the full
truth of Tuesday's shooting emerges.

Haddock was a Special Branch informer - de-activated we are
told when the Police Ombudsman started to probe the 1997
murder of Raymond McCord junior and when the chief
constable ordered a purge of the informer world.

The names of some agents have spilled out from that world.

Scappaticci was spared, Donaldson is dead, Barrett will
forever have to hide, and six bullets will spell out to
Haddock that the UVF want him dead.

Yes, the UVF, not mavericks within that organisation, not
individuals acting without authority.

There will be no loyalist court martial after the Haddock
shooting - those involved knew what they were doing and
knew there would be no comeback from those who sit at the
top of the UVF, inside its Brigade or Command Staff.

The only question still to be answered is whether the
loyalist group will formally admit to its involvement in
Tuesday's shooting.

There are some who think it should whatever the political

But why was Haddock targeted and shot now?

His agent role has been an open secret for some time. The
UVF have long had their suspicions.

He was dismissed from the loyalist wing at Maghaberry jail
and, inside and outside prison, he was ostracised by the
loyalist organisation.

The background commentary on this shooting is that
Tuesday's attempt to kill Haddock resulted from the most
recent revelations about his informer activities, but one
imagines guns were being pointed at him long before then.

Haddock will know who he met on Tuesday, and therefore will
know the man who came to kill him.

The gunman did not intend the informer to live. Six bullets
is proof of that.

David Ervine meets and speaks to the UVF leadership every
week. They will be talking today, and those in the room
will know that they have put Sir Reg Empey in a very
difficult place.

So far there has been no knee-jerk response from the Ulster
Unionist leader, but he will want to keep a certain degree
of wriggle room as the story of Tuesday's shooting
continues to emerge.

Up to this point, Ervine has survived within the Ulster
Unionist Group at Stormont.

Sir Reg Empey knows the real world of the peace process and
knows what can happen, and so too does the chief constable.

We do not hear Hugh Orde calling for Dawn Purvis of the PUP
to be removed from the Policing Board.

David Ervine and Dawn Purvis had nothing to do with the
shooting of Mark Haddock, and those who know them well will
know what they want the UVF to do.

That organisation needs to get on with it. It has had its
consultation on its future, but has delayed an announcement
on its decision until after the November deadline for a
political deal at Stormont.

The longer it stays on the stage - the longer it allows
actions such as Tuesday's shooting - the more vulnerable
and fragile the Empey-Ervine arrangement at Stormont will

John Hume has been here before. In the same period as SDLP
and Sinn Fein delegations met in 1988, the IRA murdered
soldiers - 14 of them - in Lisburn and at Ballygawley.

The Hume-Adams process survived the Shankill bomb and
Warrington and it went on to help deliver the ceasefires of
1994 and 1997.

Making peace is about taking risks.

But Northern Ireland is a political glasshouse, and those
who live in it keep throwing stones.

We should reserve judgment on the Empey-Ervine arrangement
and the reaction to it, until we know the full story of all
of the talking and all of the meetings that have taken
place at many different times during our long Troubles.

There have been contacts and there has been talking that we
have not yet been told about.

If Reg Empey is being asked to show David Ervine the
political door, should unionist politicians - all kinds of
unionist politicians - also stay out of the meeting halls
when marching is being discussed in the company of the
leaders of the UVF, the UDA and Red Hand Commando?

Reg Empey has taken a risk and he has been embarrassed by
the actions of the UVF, but if the Ulster Unionist leader
can help deliver on the loyalist side what Hume achieved
with the IRA, then it will have been a risk worth taking.

It is what peace making is all about.


Opin: Sir Reg Tears Up Pretences

By Fionnuala O'Connor

One of the problems in the North is that everybody knows
everyone else. There are few delightful surprises. Yet when
Sir Reg Empey said in a television discussion that unionist
politicians had "used" loyalist paramilitaries through much
of the Troubles and that he had been wrong 34 years ago to
join Vanguard - an umbrella group for loyalist
paramilitaries as well as unionist politicians - he
silenced his audience and, for the moment anyhow, the
loquacious Gregory Campbell of the DUP.

It was a brave and honest thing to say, acknowledgement of
something long denied with consistency, heat and very
often, threats of legal action. The Ulster Unionist leader
deserves praise and recognition. He will get neither from
many Protestants, and most unionists. Nor may he reap
appreciation from nationalists, though he should: what he
said cannot be unsaid.

Campbell's insistence that the DUP "do not have discussions
with people linked to terrorist organisations or who are
front people for terrorist organisations", and his
rewriting of the 1974 loyalist strike to assert that his
party had not "sat down with paramilitaries", seemed to
prompt Empey's frankness. Earlier he had made the point,
but in passing, that "unionist politicians used the
paramilitaries for their own purposes".

At that point he was explicitly trying to justify his
invitation to David Ervine, the sole representative of the
UVF's tiny front party in Stormont, to join the UU group in
the Assembly - a move that could give Empey's party one
more ministerial position than Sinn Féin.

Sir Reg himself called this "a tactical decision" to give
unionists the majority of executive positions, push Sinn
Féin into third place behind the two unionist parties;
though he went on to claim that in addition it was part of
a high-minded strategy to detach loyalists from violence.
It was universally mocked as a stunt, and one which would
surely backfire since security forces, other paramilitaries
and the media agree that the UVF is responsible for most of
the killings in the last six years.

Right on cue, last Monday persons unknown shot leading UVF
man Mark Haddock.

He remains critically ill, the chief suspects are his own

Embarrassed faces around Empey in Stormont testified to
unease and worse in the party. Here was a demonstration of
how low the once mighty Ulster Unionists had fallen and how
humiliated they have been: that they should claw themselves
into second place behind the DUP, through taking, as
Campbell gloated on television, a "representative of active
terrorism into their group and potentially into the heart
of government". Sir Reg did his best to sound competent at
Stormont but left an impression of gabbling. Ian Paisley
promptly wallowed in righteous identification of his
communal rivals with "Sinn Féin/IRA". The final blow came
from observers who pointed out disobligingly that any deal
about a new executive will surely be followed by another
Assembly election. Sinn Féin and the DUP will both want to
have another go at wiping out their respective rivals. Sir
Reg's hard-won "extra ministry" will almost certainly
evaporate as the UU's vote continues to fall.

But the next time he faced a sizeable television audience
he made a convincing comeback. A telling line on the Let's
Talk programme was his "this isn't simply an opportunistic
thing" admission of the element that blighted his chance of
taking the high moral ground in Stormont. On the same panel
Mark Durkan swatted Gregory Campbell's brazen profession of
the DUP's purity from paramilitary association, past and
present, with a ringing: "For years unionist politicians
justified the nonsense that loyalist violence was only a
reaction to republicans."

Empey acknowledged the SDLP leader, remarkable in itself:
"All of us - a lot of us - have not had an absolutely
pristine record in terms of dealing with paramilitarism.
There's a lot of truth in what Mark said." He thought
unionist politicians had a responsibility now to "clear up
the mess", because in the 1970s and '80s they had used
paramilitary organisations for political purposes: "That's
a fact." He recalled that the DUP and his own party had
been in the same voting group in Belfast City Council for
years with David Ervine's party and the UDA's
representatives, "and that's when there was no ceasefire".

Mr Campbell watched him in silence. It was a point that
Ulster Unionists, like the DUP, were in the habit of
dismissing angrily at the time, with much abuse of the
journalists who put it to them.

Yes, he had been in Vanguard, Empey said, the umbrella
group including politicians and paramilitaries which backed
the 1974 loyalist strike, "and I think my attitude in 1974
was wrong". Sir Reg broke ranks, and tore up the pretences.
The oddity is that he should have flouted such a tribal
rule and had the courage to question his own past so soon
after meriting universal scorn. But he did it.

© The Irish Times


The Times June 02, 2006

Opin: Was MI6 Behind The Brighton Bomb?

Kevin Toolis

If you think so, you presumably also believe the Martin-
McGuinness-as-British-spy theory

COULD THE MAN we all believe to have launched a thousand
car bombs and to have twice ordered the assassination of
the British Cabinet at Brighton in 1984 and in the 1991
mortar attack on Downing Street really have been working
for the British Secret Service all along? Our very own
Derry version of 007?

A few months ago such a thesis would and could be dismissed
as even too fantastical for the plot of a James Bond movie.
It would be like saying that the Rev Ian Paisley had,
despite the fire and brimstone, secretly all along been an
agent of the Papacy.

But times are changing in Northern Ireland. After hanging
up their guns Irish republicans have turned to their second
favourite activity — poring over the past to unmask alleged
traitors. Irish republicans are second only to the Lebanese
in their fervent belief in conspiracy theories, fiendish
British plots and the ever-present Judas within their own
ranks. And just because the Shinners are paranoid it does
not mean they are wrong.

As we have discovered the British state did indeed have an
amazing array of agents within the Provisional’s hierarchy
including Freddie Scappattici, the IRA’s chief interrogator
and Witchfinder-General, and Denis Donaldson, the alleged
Sinn Fein spy at Stormont who turned out to be a British
spy instead. But could such betrayal actually include
someone like McGuinness, a man who to his followers is the

For three decades McGuinness, who rose from the ranks of
the 1969 Bogside rioters, has along with Gerry Adams been
the primus inter pares in the tiny, hermetic elite that has
ruled the Provisionals. From 1976 he was the IRA’s director
of operations in its Northern Command — the bit of the IRA
that did all the bombings and killings in Northern Ireland.
And from 1978 to 1982 he was the IRA’s Chief of Staff — the
most important single post in the republican organisation.

In the 1990s McGuinness was the man Michael Oatley, the MI6
European counter-terrorism chief, approached to negotiate
secretly the end of our Irish war. McGuinness was the only
man, MI6 believed, who had the power to get the gunmen to
cease their terrorist onslaught.

McGuinness has devoted his entire life to the destruction
of the British state in Ireland. Could this all really be a
lie? The allegations of his alleged MI6 role broke in the
Irish newspapers last weekend in a farrago of murky
documents, competitive journalism and hidden, suspect
motives by embittered former agents. Allegedly a document
has surfaced that “proves” McGuinness took instructions
about the bombing of checkpoints from his MI6 handler.

In reality the document does nothing of the kind. All good
plots, from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the
Hitler Diaries, always revolve around “documents” that
subsequently turn out to be patent forgeries. The only
important thing is that enough people at the time believe
in the document long enough for the presses to roll. And
once the lie has been printed, then, in the world of the
conspiracy theorist, it must be true.

McGuinness did himself few favours by calling a press
conference to deny the rumours as “hooey”. As we all now
know from similar “denial” media events, be they staged by
the police or new Labour, the only sure outcome is that
those on the platform protesting their innocence will be
arrested or thrown out of office the following week. It is
one of the iron rules of our media age — all formal denials
merely act to confirm the validity of the original

So where does this all leave us? For the paranoid Provo
prosecutor the case against McGuinness could soon become
compelling. Despite all his years of IRA activity
McGuinness has only ever served one short term of
imprisonment. In Derry, despite living within sniper range
of the local RUC barracks, McGuinness travelled freely
without bodyguards in an ordinary family saloon.

One alleged assassination attempt by the notorious loyalist
killer Michael Stone was foiled when mysteriously
McGuinness failed to show up at his normal newsagent on the
appointed day. That McGuinness had contact with Oatley of
MI6 is ipso facto damning evidence. McGuinness must have
been protected by somebody. Ergo, MI6. He must have been
their agent all along.

It does make a wonderful conspiracy and it might be even
more plausible after a couple of glasses of Guinness but I
doubt if it’s true.

In the Troubles, where almost everything on the surface was
a lie or a deception, the only hard certainties are the
bullets, the bombs and the dead bodies left in the ditch.
In the summer of 1984 Patrick Magee, a veteran bomber,
acting on the orders of the IRA’s Army Council, really did
plant a bomb behind the bath panel of room 621 of the Grand
Hotel. When that bomb exploded six weeks later it very,
very nearly killed Margaret Thatcher and most of her

If McGuinness had been an MI6 agent then MI6 must have
known about the Brighton bomb and then allowed the
potential decapitation of the British Government to go
ahead. Therefore MI6 was really behind the Brighton bomb.
Instead of being plausible the thesis that McGuinness was a
MI6 agent becomes nonsensical.

Is the Pope a Catholic? And is Martin McGuinness an enemy,
not an agent, of the British state? The answer to both
questions is the same.

Kevin Toolis is a terrorism expert working on a film for
Channel 4 on female and Western suicide bombers


Irish Spend Three Times More On Alcohol Than EU Counterparts

Jamie Smyth, European Correspondent

Irish people spend more on alcohol and "binge-drink" more
than any other Europeans. Yet more Irish men abstain from
alcohol than their counterparts across the EU. These are
the key findings in a 400-page report on alcohol published
yesterday by the European Commission. Alcohol in Europe
shows that Irish people go on drinking binges on average 32
times per year, more than four times as often as Italians.

The report defines binge-drinking as five pints of beer,
one bottle of wine or five shots of spirits on a single

The report also shows young people in the Republic are the
biggest bingers on alcohol across the EU.

Almost one-third of 15 to 16-year-old students have binged
three or more times in the past 30 days, according to the
report, which relies on a wide range of data collected
between 1999 and 2005.

Irish households spend three times more than any other
Europeans on alcohol. The report notes that they spend on
average €1,675 per year on alcohol, compared to €531 by
Danish households - the next-highest-listed among the
original 15 EU members. Greek households spend just €146 on
alcoholic drinks.

The report notes that Ireland has the second-highest tax
rate on alcohol in the EU.

Irish people are behind only the Czechs and the
Luxembourgers in the volume of alcohol consumed every year.
The Irish consume 14 litres (25 pints) of alcohol each on
average per year, compared to 16 and 15 litres of alcohol
respectively, says the survey.

The report notes that consumption of alcohol in Ireland
rose by one-quarter between 1995 and 2000. Beer is the
preferred drink, making up just in excess of 60 per cent of
total drink consumed. The remainder is split evenly between
spirits and wine.

Almost 80 per cent of drink in Ireland is consumed without
food. In Italy, just 20 per cent of drink is consumed
without food.

However, the report highlights that Ireland also has the
highest number of men who abstain from drinking alcohol in
the EU. One in 10 Irish men does not drink alcohol, while
just more than 20 per cent of women in the Republic

The Institute of Alcohol Studies prepared the report, which
was funded and published by the European Commission.

Overall, it found the EU was the heaviest-drinking region
of the world, consuming 11 litres of alcoholic drinks per
person on average per year. An estimated 23 million
Europeans are dependent on alcohol in any year, leading to
a "tangible cost" of €125 billion in 2003. The report calls
for more research and action plans to be put in place to
fight alcohol abuse.

The drinks industry strongly criticised the report, saying
it was "extraordinary" that one of Europe's staunchest
critics of alcohol policy, Dr Peter Anderson, had been
invited to prepare it for the commission.

It said the report was based on outdated information that
bore little relationship with the current market.

"Key arguments are made about spending on alcohol in
different countries but the research was undertaken seven
years ago, in 1999. In Ireland, consumption levels peaked
in 2001 and have been declining pretty much since," it said
in a statement. A spokesman for the Drinks Industry Group
in Ireland said the report was another attempt by the anti-
alcohol lobby to demonise the alcohol industry and pressure
policymakers into introducing draconian measures to tackle
a serious but limited problem.

© The Irish Times


'Psychics' To Complain Again About Pat Kenny

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

The managing director of premium-rate call company Psychics
Live is to lodge a complaint with the Broadcasting
Complaints Commission (BCC) over an item on the Today with
Pat Kenny programme on RTÉ Radio yesterday.

Tom Higgins is to make a formal complaint this morning
after comments made by Pat Kenny yesterday in relation to
the upholding by the BCC of a previous complaint made over
an interview with Mr Higgins in November 2005.

On yesterday's programme, while introducing a recorded
adjudication by the BCC, Pat Kenny gave a statement of his
own in which he said that Irish Psychics Live had been
"caught" by the programme's reporter "to be in breach of
regulations in regard to informing its customers of the
charges being run up using premium-rated phone lines".

To put it at its kindest, he said, "the so-called psychics'
service provided was shown to be valueless". Kenny added:
"For our part, we believe then, and continue to believe
that there is no neutrality required when vulnerable people
are being exploited."

In its adjudication, the BCC said it upheld two complaints
against the original item on the basis that it infringed
the fairness regulations of the Broadcasting Act, 2001.
While acknowledging that the subject matter was of public
interest and that the interview would therefore be expected
to be conducted robustly, the commission noted that "the
presenter made statements throughout the piece that were an
expression of his own opinions".

It added: "While playing the devil's advocate is an
acceptable interviewing style, the commission believes that
the interviewer, in both tone and content, persisted with
statements and allegations in a partial manner and
concludes that the interviewer dealt with the subject
matter in an unfair manner."

Mr Higgins said he was "flabbergasted" at Kenny's
"extraordinary" statement on yesterday's programme. "What I
was unhappy with was how Pat Kenny introduced it. He dug a
trench he didn't need to dig.

"That repeated what he did in the first interview. [
Yesterday's] broadcast was, if anything, worse than the
first one. At least on that occasion I was there to put my
point across, but [ yesterday] there was no attempt to
present any balance . . . He has attacked us for breaching
regulations and then with this seems to be saying that he
doesn't have to observe the statutory regulations in
relation to the BCC. It makes a mockery of the BCC's

Mr Higgins said he did not believe his company was in
breach of regulations, while he regarded the charge that
its service "was shown to be valueless" as defamatory. "I
am actively taking legal advice," he said.

Mr Higgins's original complaint alleged that RTÉ and Pat
Kenny failed in their duty to conduct an interview with him
in an impartial manner.

© The Irish Times


Dogs Still Present On Lahinch Strand Despite Summer Ban

Gordon Deegan

Clare County Council's summer ban on dogs on beaches may
have come into force yesterday, but there were still
animals walking on Lahinch strand.

Dog-owners face fines of up to €1,270 if found on the beach
with their pets between 11am and 6pm each day.

However, at Lahinch yesterday, the council had yet to erect
any signage informing people of the new bylaws and there
was no trace of any official patrolling the beach on the
lookout for anyone contravening the new rules.

Dog-owner Michael O'Halloran travelled from Clooney in east
Clare to bring his two Labradors for a walk on the beach.
He said: "I have bought two new leads for my two dogs today
and I have been told that I can't walk them on the beach. I
think it is ridiculous. It doesn't make any sense. I intend
to bring them on the beach, it is a crazy law."

Carlow woman Evelyn Carroll was on Lahinch promenade with
her cocker spaniel, Wally. She said: "A total ban on dogs.
What is the world is coming to? Ah, my God. A curfew? It's
lucky they don't smoke. What next?"

However, the new council ban won the support of mothers of
young children at Lahinch. Sophie Coughlan, a mother-of-
three on holidays from Britain, said: "I would be very much
in favour. My two youngest are scared of dogs and it upsets
them to see dogs bounding about. My children were building
a sandcastle yesterday and a dog fouled nearby with the
owner carrying on and he had to be asked to clean it up.

"In the UK, people are very good about scooping, but dogs
wouldn't be banned on the beach."

Another mother, Jane O'Shea, said: "I would be in favour of
the new law because I would be very anxious when stray dogs
come close to my children. It is not safe."

Opposed to the outright ban, Cllr Joe Carey (FG) said
yesterday: "If Clare County Council enforced the existing
laws that are there, there would be no need to introduce
the dogs ban."

© The Irish Times

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