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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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