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July 26, 2006

Armed UVF Men Guarded Paisley

News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 07/26/06
UVF Men With Guns ‘Guarded Paisley’
BT 07/26/06 DUP Sceptical On IRA Despite Hain's Upbeat Comments
DI 07/26/06 McIlveen Murder Witness Threats
DI 07/26/06 Security Gate Demanded To End Loyalist Attacks
IN 07/26/06 Loyalists Behind Arson Attack On Primary School
SF 07/26/06 SF: Fire At Primary School Is An Attack On Whole Community
DI 07/26/06 CIRA Shooting Attack Claims
DI 07/26/06 SDLP Is ‘Irrelevant’ Says Report
DI 07/26/06 Opin: Sectarian Hate Still Running Rampant
DI 07/26/06 Opin: Guarding The Guards
BT 07/26/06 Opin: Shut The Door On Housing Racket
BT 07/26/06 Opin: Getting Involved - With The PSNI
BT 07/26/06 Opin: Will The Truth Ever Emerge About Our Troubled Past?
IN 07/26/06 Opin: Extrad Treaty - Loaded Statement Fires Up IA Debate
BT 07/26/06 Hain In £11,000 Sporting 'Jollies' Row
BB 07/26/06 Whale Rescue Operation Resumes
UT 07/26/06 Airlines Cut Knock Routes


UVF Men With Guns ‘Guarded Paisley’

By Sharon O’Neill Chief Reporter

ARMED loyalist paramilitaries once guarded the home of DUP
leader Ian Paisley, a member of the Policing Board has

PUP chairwoman Dawn Purvis said UVF members believed the
DUP’s criticism of her role on the Policing Board was

She said UVF members asked why DUP activists did not object
when armed men guarded Mr Pais-ley’s home and accompanied
him at political rallies.

The DUP, along with other members of the Policing Board,
was scathing of the British government’s decision to give a
seat on the body to a party linked to the UVF months after
it had refused to recognise the paramilitary group’s

However, Ms Purvis, pictured, insisted that, despite being
linked to ongoing violence and organised crime, the UVF was
no threat to the peace process and nationalists had nothing
to fear.

In her first in-depth interview since taking up her new
role on the Policing Board the 39-year-old hit out at her
DUP critics.

“Former paramilitaries came up to me, told me ‘the
hypocrisy of [the DUP] would make you sick’,” Ms Purvis

“One said, ‘I remember guarding Paisley with a gun down my
trousers outside his house in east Belfast.’

“Another said to me, ‘I remember when Paisley was going
round in the back of a flat-bed lorry and there was armed
men around him. He wasn’t complaining then.’

“There is absolute hypocrisy. [Loyalists] have always known
the DUP speak with a forked tongue or, as some people put
it, out the back of their hand.”

Last night a DUP spokesman said he did not want to comment
on “such allegations”.

In a wide-ranging interview, Ms Purvis said she was worried
by rac-ist attacks attributed to loyalists.

“I do worry about that,” she said.

“There is a racist element in all communities and racists
exploit that. While there would be paramilitaries that are
racist, the leadership absolutely abhors it.”

She added: “The whole process of migrant workers coming in
has not been managed well.”

But she insisted there were “good signs” the UVF was
attempting to halt all activities.

“I don’t think the UVF is a threat to the peace process.
The nationalist community has nothing to fear from the UVF.
The good signs are there. We have seen it over the last
couple of weeks. Look at the whole parades thing,” she

“Decommissioning would be good for the whole community. I
see [the UVF’s] transformation as more important at the
moment than decommissioning.”


DUP Sceptical On IRA Statement Despite Hain's Upbeat Comments

By Noel McAdam
26 July 2006

Days away from the first anniversary of the IRA's historic
'standing down' statement, the DUP has poured cold water on
British and Irish government assertions that the
Provisionals have fully delivered on their commitments.

As he prepared to leave for the United States for a series
of meetings, Secretary of State Peter Hain gave his most
positive assessment of the IRA since the statement a year
ago this Friday.

But he was also supported by Irish Foreign Minister Michael
McDowell - who earned the opprobrium of Sinn Fein since the
Northern Bank robbery and the Robert McCartney murder - who
said the IRA is "adhering 100 per cent to the commitments
that it has made".

Their comments came at the latest British Irish Inter-
Governmental Conference at Hillsborough Castle ahead of
today's meeting of the preparation for Government committee
which is getting down to detailed work on policing and
justice and the institutions, including the North/South

They also set the governments' tone for the next report
from the Independent Monitoring Commission, expected in
October, which could be crucial for achieving a devolution

The DUP, however, accused Mr Hain of "living in fantasy
land". North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said his party would
not be fooled by Government "spin" and accused Mr Hain of a
"ham-fisted" attempt to bluff the community.

Mr Hain, however, argued it was not realistic to expect an
"absolute state of perfection".

"There probably is still some localised individual
criminality by former and maybe existing Provisional IRA
members for their own private gain. What there is not is
organised 'from the centre' criminality any more," he said.

Alliance leader David Ford said Mr Hain should have waited
for the next IMC report. "Whatever (his) motivation, it is
time he realised that the sceptics are not listening to
him," he said.


Murder Witness Threats

Boy is taken out of classes after warning he may be
attacked -Father of teenager who witnessed the murder of
Michael McIlveen is informed by PSNI that his son’s life is
at risk

By Connla Young

The father of a teenager who witnessed the brutal beating
dished out to murdered Ballymena schoolboy Michael McIlveen
has said his son’s life is under threat.

Ballymena man Danny Graham said he feared for his son
Christopher’s life after the PSNI warned the family the
teenager was at risk of attack.

It has emerged that the 16-year-old was taken out of
Slemish College in Ballymena during his GCSE exams in June
after the PSNI warned he could be attacked during school
hours or outside school.

It is understood that teachers at the college advised the
student’s parents to keep him away from the integrated
school for his own safety.

The teenager’s father last night said he feared for the
safety of his son. His fears were heightened two weeks
after a second son, 27-year-old Paul, was badly beaten by
loyalists just metres from the spot where Michael McIlveen
was attacked.

Mr Graham says his family has been living under a cloud of
fear since Michael McIlveen was beaten at the rear of their
family home in May. The 15-year-old died a day later from
his injuries.

“I feel like my whole family is under threat. The big
concern for me is that since the police got statements from
us they have not wanted to know us. They have left us on
our own. Nobody is helping us at all and we feel like we
are on our own. I feel we are in fear of our lives, but I
am worried more so for my young boy. All you have to do is
look to what happened to Michael.”

The worried father says his family members will not be
intimidated into withdrawing statements given to the PSNI
in the wake of Michael McIlveen’s murder.

“We have our concerns but wrong is wrong and that fellow
didn’t deserve that and it’s the right thing to do. We
won’t be dropping our statements.”

Mr Graham also revealed that his son narrowly escaped
serious injury after he and a group of friends were set on
by loyalists in an attack similar to the one that resulted
in the death of Michael McIlveen.

Mr Graham says the attack on his son Paul has shaken the

“When the police arrived I brought Paul out and he was
bleeding from the head. The policeman told me to give him a
call the next day. But after Michael was beaten he was able
to go home with a serious head injury. I was worried about
Paul and this policeman wanted me to ring him the next

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “We don’t comment on the
security of individuals.”

Earlier this month nationalists reacted angrily after it
emerged that loyalists in Ballymena have circulated a sick
video mocking the brutal murder of Michael McIlveen. The
existence of the video came to light just days after
loyalists in Ahoghill, near Ballymena, erected a tricolour
on an eleventh night bonfire with the words “Fuck Micky
Bo”, a reference to the dead teenager, scrawled across it.

Six men have been charged in connnection with the death of
Michael McIlveen.

Ballymena SDLP councillor Monica Digney said: “We have been
aware of this intimidation for a long time. It’s a total
disgrace. The McIlveen failimy needs all the support it can
get at this time.”

Mr Graham said his family had been living under a cloud of
fear since Michael McIlveen had been beaten at the rear of
his family home in May. The 15-year-old died a day later
from his injuries.

“I feel like my whole family is under threat.

“The big concern for me is that, since the police got
statements from us, they have not wanted to know us.

“They have left us on our own. Nobody is helping us at all
and we feel like we are on our own.

“I feel we are in fear of our lives but I am worried more
so for my young boy.

“All you have to do is look to what happened to Michael,”
said Mr Graham.

The worried father said his family members would not be
intimidated into withdrawing statements given to the PSNI
in the wake of Michael McIlveen’s murder.

“We have our concerns but wrong is wrong, and that fellow
didn’t deserve that and it’s the right thing to do. We
won’t be dropping our statements,” he said.

Mr Graham also revealed that his son Paul had narrowly
escaped serious injury after loyalists had attacked him and
a group of friends in a similar attack to the one that
resulted in the death of Michael McIlveen.

The father said the attack on his son Paul had shaken the

“When the police arrived, I brought Paul out and he was
bleeding from the head.

“The policeman told me to give him a call the next day. But
after Michael was beaten, he was able to go home with a
serious head injury.

“I was worried about Paul and this policeman wanted me to
ring him the next day,” said Mr Graham.

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “We don’t comment on the
security of individuals.”

Earlier this month, nationalists reacted angrily after it
emerged that loyalists in Ballymena had circulated a sick
video mocking the murder of Michael McIlveen.

The existence of the video came to light just days after
loyalists in Ahoghill, near Ballymena, had put up a
Tricolour on a bonfire with a reference to the dead

Six people have been charged in connnection with the death
of Michael McIlveen.

Ballymena SDLP councillor Monica Digney said: “We have been
aware of this intimidation for a long time. It’s a total

“The McIlveen family needs all the support it can get at
this time.”


Security Gate Demanded To End Loyalist Attacks

Group of around 40 people with weapons attack houses and
cars in cul-de-sac

A north Belfast Sinn Féin councillor has demanded the
erection of a security gate on the Whitewell Road following
a loyalist attack on Sunday evening.

Tierna Cunningham was speaking as the PSNI confirmed the
force was investigating an attack by a large group of
loyalists on Catholic homes in the Christine Close and
Whitewell Road areas.

Local people have described seeing a group of around 40
people emerging from an alleyway that links the
predominantly loyalist Graymount area with the nationalist
Whitewell Road at around 10.30pm, before carrying out
attacks on houses and cars in the quiet cul-de-sac.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said that, when
she came out of her house to see what was going on, she had
a crossbow pointed at her head.

“There must have been about 40 of them and from all ages.
The oldest ones would have been in their mid-30s right down
to teenagers.

“They had crossbows and one of them even had a gun. The
rest had bricks and stones. I came out because I thought
someone was putting stuff in a skip we had hired but, when
I got out, one of them pointed the crossbow at me and
shouted ‘UVF’. He was wearing a balaclava.

“We have been attacked here before but never as bad as
this. Everyone is very frightened,” she said.

Another resident, who is a foreign national, said he was
considering leaving Ireland for the sake of his children.

“I am afraid for my kids now after this attack. I think I
will try and move my children back to Turkey after this. If
it was only me living here, I wouldn’t mind because, up
until now, I have been left alone but I have to think of my
family and I am not sure it is safe here,” he said.

Councillor Cunningham slammed the Northern Ireland Office
for its refusal to put a gate on the alleyway used in the

“We have fought long and hard to get this alleyway closed
off at night but still nothing has happened.

“The NIO say they cannot put a gate up because it would
cause a health and safety issue with the [Greencastle
Methodist] church, who have an exit into the alley, but we
are only asking that it be closed at night when the church
is empty.

“Because of this, the people who carry out attacks have
easy access onto the Whitewell Road so I am asking the NIO
to revisit their decision,” she said.

Responding to the accusations, an NIO spokeswoman said
gates could not be installed because of access issues with
surrounding buildings.

“There is a health and safety issue associated with this

“Greencastle Methodist church has an emergency exit that
leads directly onto the lane in question. Advice from
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service indicates that a
gate would undermine the integrity of this exit.

“Also, the lane provides the church with disabled access.
It would be inappropriate to limit this access,” she said.

A PSNI spokeswoman said the force was investigating attacks
on both sides of the interface.

“Police are investigating a number of incidents of criminal
damage in the Whitewell Road/Catherines Court area last

“Police are also investigating attacks at Graymount in the
early hours of yesterday morning when a window of a house
was broken and a number of cars damaged. Inquiries into
both incidents are continuing,” she said.


Loyalists Behind Arson Attack On Primary School

By Barry McCaffrey

LOYALISTS were last night blamed for a suspected sectarian
arson attack on a Catholic school in north Belfast. A
sports hall at St Mary’s Star of the Sea primary school on
the Shore Road was severely damaged in an arson attack in
the early hours of yesterday morning.

It took fire fighters two hours to bring the blaze under
control which badly damaged the roof of the building.

Fire service chief Martin Cassidy said he believed the
fire had been started deliberately.

“It is very sad to see that young children’s places of
education are being targeted in this way,” he said.

Board of governors chairman Fr Colum Curran said he was
saddened that the school had been attacked.

“It is hard to believe that someone could do this,” he

“I don’t know the extent of the damage, we will have to
wait for the structural

engineers. I am just thankful that no children or adults
were injured.

“This school makes a lot of effort to build bridges between
the two communities.”

At the height of the Drumcree dispute in 1996 loyalists
were blamed for an arson attack on the school which saw
four classrooms having to be rebuilt.

Yesterday’s attack came less than 24 hours after loyalists
attacked Catholic homes on the nearby Whitewell Road.

Those attacks were claimed to have been in retaliation for
an attack on Protestant homes and cars in the nearby
Graymount estate on Saturday night.

SDLP councillor Pat Convery described yesterday’s attack as
a “warning” to the whole community.

“We don’t know the precise motivation for this attack but
in a way it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“There is never any real reason or excuse for doing things
like this and the only real point is to stop them

“Attacks on community property like schools can only be
deterred by the whole community acting together.

“In closely knit, built-up communities very little happens
without someone seeing or hearing.

“The time has come for people to accept their full social
responsibility and work with the police to bring arsonists
to justice.

“The time has come to stop making excuses.”

North Belfast Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds said the
attack on the Catholic school should be condemned by all
right-thinking people.

“It is deplorable that a place of education should be
targeted in this way,” he said.

“I appeal to anyone who has become involved in recent
attacks on property in the area to stop immediately before
more damage or potentially serious injury is caused.

“I have spoken to local police and the assistant chief
constable for Belfast, Duncan McCausland, to seek
assurances about increased resources for the area to
protect and defend residents and their property from this
spate of attacks.

“It is vital that these types of attacks cease forthwith
and that people be allowed to live in peace.”


Fire At Primary School Is An Attack On Whole Community - Sinn Féin

/ Sinn Féin North Belfast Councillor Tierna
Cunningham has today said that last night's fire at a
Catholic school in North Belfast "bore all the hallmarks of
another sectarian attack in the area".

A fire severely damaged St Mary's Primary School on the
Shore Road in the early hours of this morning.

Speaking today Ms Cunningham said:

"Having been to visit the school this morning it is clear
that the damage is extensive. Our view is that this latest
attack is sectarian in nature given what has taken place in
this area for the past couple of nights. This is also the
view of very many residents I have spoken to in the area.

"This is clearly an attack upon the whole community which
can only heighten tensions and lead to a spiralling
situation as we have seen over the past number of nights.
These attacks are wrong and must cease immediately, whether
they be on schools, homes, churches or Orange halls.

"People in North Belfast are working hard to ensure that
this situation does not escalate any further. Meanwhile, my
colleague Gerry Kelly will be writing to British Direct
Rule Minister Paul Goggins to reiterate calls for agreed
physical measures to ensure public safety during the hours
of darkness in the lane between the Whitewell Road and the
Greymount estate. Sinn Féin has been engaged in extensive
lobbying, in conjunction with local residents to ensure
that such a measure is put in place." ENDS


CIRA Shooting Attack Claims

By Anton McCabe

The Continuity IRA has claimed it carried out two gun
attacks on the PSNI in Armagh city on July 12.

A handwritten statement from the Armagh city command given
to Daily Ireland said the Continuity IRA had launched the
attacks to protect nationalists in the Drumarg and
Mullacreevie estates after the PSNI had moved in to
confront rioters.

“An active service unit of the Continuity IRA monitored the
situation from noon that day,” the statement said.

“PSNI personnel increased in numbers and moved in on a
number of rioters, forcing the Continuity ASU [active
service unit] to open fire and engage, which they did with
an AK47 on two Land Rovers on Armagh’s ring road. The PSNI
immediately left the scene.”

The statement alleged that the security forces had
endangered civilian lives by ignoring a number of bomb
warnings in recent months.

“If the British forces continue with this practice, it is
inevitable that lives will be lost,” the statement said.

Republican sources have said the Continuity IRA in Armagh
city is one of the organisation’s stronger units.

A PSNI spokesperson said it had received no reports of any
shooting incidents in Armagh on the day.


SDLP ‘Irrelevant’ - Report

Consultants say members should link Sinn Féin with crime

By Anton McCabe

A consultants’ report commissioned by the SDLP has
recommended that the party link Sinn Féin with criminality.

It has also said that eight of the SDLP’s 18 assembly seats
are in danger.

In the section Lawful Society, the report says:
“Challenging Sinn Féin on policing — eg, 1. Suggest the
real reason they do not want policing is to protect their
own involved in crime.”

The report — entitled New Imprint, New Impetus: Political
and Marketing Initiatives — was issued in February.

It was commissioned as a critical analysis and review of
the SDLP.

The consultants analysed strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities and threats in relation to the SDLP in a so-
called Swot analysis.

The main weaknesses found were “poor organisation”,
“perception of being weak, irrelevant, old”, “whingeing”,
“not on the ground”, “apparent lack of representative
talent”, “lack of charisma”, “culture of indiscipline”.

The main strength was identified as “John Hume”.

Major opportunities identified were “middle-class
Protestant voters” and “create a system of punishment and

The report acknowledged that the SDLP urgently needed new

“More young people,” it said.

“More women. More people rooted in the community, working
for the community.”

It recommended that party leader Mark Durkan and his deputy
Alasdair McDonnell put their imprint on the party, “rather
than continuing with an inherited spirit of decline”.

The report added: “In order to do this, a new energy will
need to be generated if the party is in any way to get
close to the discipline, intelligence and enthusiasm of

The marketing strategy implicitly criticised the party on
its narrow publicity strategy of favouring a single
newspaper and recommended thinking “about how to extend it
appropriately for each campaign”.

The report recognised that almost half the party’s assembly
seats were under threat.

These were named as Belfast West, East Derry, Fermanagh and
South Tyrone, Lagan Valley, North Antrim, South Antrim,
Upper Ban, and West Tyrone.

An appendix to the report gives a detailed analysis of the
party’s vote in last year’s local elections.

It said there had been an above-average swing from the SDLP
to Sinn Féin in 43 of the North’s 101 district council
electoral areas.

Five of these areas are in North Antrim, with swings to
Sinn Féin ranging from 29 per cent in both Ballycastle town
and the Glens areas, to five per cent in Ballymena North.

The SDLP currently holds an assembly seat in North Antrim
but the constituency is to lose one of its two nationalist
quotas given the boundary changes to be implemented before
the next assembly election.

In East Derry, there were swings of 21 per cent in Limavady
town and 19 per cent in Bellarena.

The SDLP only increased its vote in ten of the electoral

The appendix also detailed how the areas where the SDLP did
worst were mostly core nationalist areas in which the
combined nationalist vote exceeded 50 per cent.

Former SDLP deputy chairman Eddie Espie said the report
showed the party was in terminal decline.

“In 1969, the main opposition party in the North was the
Nationalist Party,” Mr Espie said.

“Two years later, it was gone. A precedent was set back
then, proving when the critical mass of electoral support
drifts away from a party and reaches a certain point, the
end becomes unstoppable.”


What Is Community-Based Restorative Justice?

By Claire Simpson

The victim has a major part to play and the projects try to
make sure they get some kind of restitution from the
offender, although in some cases there is no clear

The schemes also organise support for victims and some
operate youth education projects.

They tend to deal with anti-social behaviour offences which
may have been ‘punished’ previously by paramilitaries, such
as car crime, burglaries, drug dealing or vandalism.

However, there have been reports that some schemes have
attempted to deal with more serious crimes.

There are three main types of restorative justice schemes.

Youth Conferencing, which is sponsored by the government,
works with the police, Courts Service and Public
Prosecution Service (PPS) and dealt with 229 cases last

Community Restorative Justice Ireland, which operates in
nationalist areas, has no relationship with the PSNI,
Courts Service or PPS.

It oversees 15 schemes which deal with around 1,700 cases a
year, involving around 6,000 people.

It also trains around 160 volunteers every year, including
former paramilitary prisoners.

Most of its schemes operate within Belfast, including the
Upper Springfield, Poleglass, Markets and Twinbrook areas.
There are also some schemes in Derry city and Jonesborough
in south Armagh.

Northern Ireland Alternatives operates in loyalist areas
and does work with police but not with the Courts Service
or PPS.

It has five centres, all based in the Belfast area,
including one which oversees the other four. Areas covered
include the Shankill, north Belfast and east Belfast.

The centres deals with up to 300 cases a year and has 50
volunteers and trained a further 30 last year, including
former loyalist prisoners.


Opin: Sectarian Hate Still Running Rampant

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

The miasma of sectarian hatred and evil that surrounds the
murder of Ballymena teenager Michael McIlveeen shows no
sign of dissipating.

The latest sinister twist to be revealed is that another
teenager who witnessed the brutal beating that took his
life is now under threat after making a statement about the
killing. Christopher Graham, who’s just 16, has had to be
taken out of school after the PSNI warned that he could be
attacked in or out of class.

Teachers were then forced to plead with his family to
remove him from school and two weeks ago his elder brother
was also badly beaten by loyalists just yards from the
murder spot.

The man suffered a head injury, but his father was tld by
the PSNI to call them the next day. This was despite the
fact that Michael McIlveen was also able to make it home
with a head injury after his attack, but subsequently
collapsed and died.

Such advice would seem to call into question the commitment
of the PSNI in Ballymena to tackle the scourge of
sectarianism in the town, which despite the protestations
of unionists, is widespread, ingrained and tolerated in the
unionist community

Mr Graham says he feels abandoned by the PSNI after his
family made statements about the McIlveen beating which
happened at the rear of their home, but bravely says they
won’t be intimidated into withdrawing their evidence.

Watching the bigots apparently running rampant in the bible
belt of Co Antrim makes that understandable.


Opin: Guarding The Guards

Tommy McKearney

Brendan Behan is supposed to have said that he never knew
of a problem that policemen couldn’t make worse.

A typically cheeky remark from the Dublin literary genius
but one resonating strongly in the wake of Peter Hain’s
call on Sinn Fein to support the PSNI and John Reid’s
determination to place uniformed border guards at ports of
entry to the United Kingdom.

Having shifted republicans’ position on arms and
insurrection, the British and Irish governments now seem
determined to bind them into policing the Six Counties.

Worryingly, Sinn Fein appears less than clear in its
response to this onslaught.

Party spokespersons talk about being able to sort these
matters out and mention the need for local control over

Apart from the fact that local authority would most likely
rest with a DUP minister, the idea that a left leaning,
Irish republican party can simply endorse policing per se
is surely mistaken.

Under current circumstance, support for policing in the Six
Counties can at best be conditional and selective.

It is reasonable to approve of measures curbing dangerous
driving and burglars for example but this shouldn’t extend
to protecting John Reid’s border guards or the enforcement
of anti working-class legislation. It would be helpful,
moreover, if northern republicans were to make this
distinction clear.

Policing inadequacies are not, however, a purely northern
issue. Garda reaction to the publication of Justice Barr’s
investigation into the killing of John Carthy illustrates
the depth of the problem.

In spite of a detailed, carefully-considered report that
was highly critical of their handling of the Abbeylara
siege, gardaí have shown no contrition for their behaviour.

They appear instead to have treated the report (and by
extension the public) with contempt.

Gardaí are well used to manipulating the media, as anyone
with experience of television crews arriving to film a
Special Branch search of their home knows, so why are they
behaving so crudely now?

Part of the answer lies in the fact gardaí are not used to
being routinely held accountable by the public. There is a
political culture in the Republic that demands unequivocal
backing for, rather than critical supervision, of the

This type of unconditional support for policing has not
benefited the southern public.

It would be very strange if republicans, with all their
experiences at the hands of policemen, were now to tolerate
a similar situation in the North.


Opin: Shut The Door On Housing Racket

By Lindy McDowell
26 July 2006

Suppose, say, that the Government was to announce that
there were to be far fewer houses built in loyalist areas
of north and west Belfast.

Suppose the Government was to add that some of the houses
which would be built in those areas would feature
'inferior' work.

Just think of the (justifiable) outrage this would spark
from unionist politicians.

But it is actually happening.

And for this grim state of affairs we have to blame, not
Government policy, but those so-called noble defenders of
the loyalist working class - the UDA.

In the News Letter this week, a contractor spelled out how
an extortion scam is currently impacting on areas which
already suffer their unfair share of disadvantage. The UDA
goes to builders and demands that they not only hire UDA
men as part of their workforce but that they also pay them
extortionate wages.

While some of these men may qualify for the title handymen,
says the contractor, the reality is that they're not up to
the job. ("Some of them have never worked a day in their

The result is the contractor has a choice between bringing
in another team to fix the botched work - or leaving the
house with a shoddy finish.

There is another option, of course, and that's what he's
doing. Refusing to even consider contracts in the areas

Result? The UDA makes a packet. But people in those areas
are denied the housing they desperately need and deserve.

The story is not a new one, of course. The extortion
rackets of the UDA have long been common knowledge. But
what's being done about it? Why aren't unionist politicians
and community representatives, at the very least,
clamouring for action from the authorities to shut down
these scams?

True, we can't expect a lot of noise from the UUP since
they've now got links to a paramilitary organisation also
involved in the rackets. But there are other voices out
there (including the churches) that could and should be
raised against this.

It would be good to hear from them.


Opin: Getting Involved - With The PSNI

26 July 2006

Proof that the 50-50 rule in police recruitment works is
underlined by figures showing that one in five PSNI members
is now a Catholic. That proportion is still not
representative of the population, but the rise from 8% to
20% in the course of eight years shows that Catholics are
increasingly willing to accept the police as an impartial
force, worth joining and supporting.

Sinn Fein think otherwise, clinging to their tattered
policy that the police cannot be accepted as reformed until
powers are transferred from Westminster and republicans can
hold them to account.

But more and more of their constituents are voting with
their feet, looking at a job in which they can get ahead
and perform a much-needed service for the whole community.

There are many unionists who resent the Patten edict
insisting on equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants
(including ethnic minorities) among the new recruits.

They want it scrapped, because more Protestants apply and
would be accepted, but for the 50-50 rule.

Yet the percentage of Catholic applicants is rising fast -
37% in the last batch - so that any inequity is being

The gain is that, bit by bit, the old republican
accusations about the police, and opposition by ordinary
people, are fading away.

There may not be enough police available, focusing on the
right kinds of crime, but there is an opportunity for
everyone to make their views heard, either to a district
policing partnership or a Policing Board representative.

Although the figure of 20.8% Catholics in the PSNI is a
breakthrough, it would be foolish and would send out all
the wrong signals to cast aside the policy that has
achieved it.

Patten saw it lasting for a full 10 years, until there was
a properly balanced workforce, and there is much work to be
done in getting young people, in particular, to show the
police the respect they deserve.

Hardly a day goes by without evidence of assaults on
policemen and women simply doing their duty.

Householders call them out, because they need protection,
but late-night gangs can regard them as fair game, open to

Is it not inevitable that if republican politicians say the
police are unacceptable, some young people will take their
cue from that description?

The plain fact, which Sinn Fein so far refuses to face, is
that ordinary law-abiding people are crying out for more
policing, not less. They don't see the need to wait until
devolution is restored and republicans are in an executive
to be able to endorse the PSNI. Those people are getting
involved, not just using policing as a bargaining chip.


Opin: Will The Truth Ever Emerge About Our Troubled Past?

The truth behind the brutal killing of Belfast mother-of-
ten Jean McConville has been the subject of claim and
counter-claim since she disappeared 34 years ago. Security
writer Brian Rowan speaks to Chief Constable Hugh Orde
about the potential difficulties of any truth process.

By Brian Rowan
26 July 2006

Take just one case - one killing that is more than 30 years
old. Look at the very different versions of events, and ask
yourself how difficult it will be to get to the truth of
Northern Ireland's past.

Thirty-four years on, the facts behind the IRA "execution"
of Jean McConville in 1972 are still being fought over in a
very public way.

Just recently, the Police Ombudsman dismissed the IRA
allegation that the mother-of-ten, whose body was
"disappeared" and not found until 2003, was an informer.

But, within 24 hours, the IRA raised the voice of its
spokesman 'P O'Neill' to repeat its claim.

Even after the ending of its armed campaign, even after
decommissioning, even though 34 years have passed since a
bullet was fired into Jean McConville's head, the IRA was
not prepared to let the commentary of the Police Ombudsman
go unchallenged.

And, in speaking once more, it used words that it knew
would wound the McConville family.

The IRA having its say, the IRA once again repeating its
claim that its victim was an Army informer, is in the words
of one republican, this organisation "defending its
integrity" - not allowing "the war effort" to be
undermined, not allowing the IRA to be "criminalized

And here we have just one case; one killing in a wider
story of many hundreds of deaths - the shooting and
disappearing of Jean McConville by the IRA, and a
continuing argument over the allegation that she was an

The IRA has its truth, which the Police Ombudsman and the
McConville family have challenged.

So, how do you bring closure, not just to this case but to
the many, many others?

How do you let all sides be heard and questioned in some
sort of truth process?

And what is the beginning towards that end?

The Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde dismisses the argument
that the time is not right - that the different sides in
Northern Ireland are not yet ready to speak, to listen, to
challenge and to be challenged.

Waiting for the right time means standing still and that
means doing nothing.

"I think the first step is we need a small group of people
that have credibility within communities to take soundings
and to ask hard questions across the piece," the Chief
Constable told the Belfast Telegraph.

When he talks about across the piece, he means on all
sides, "everyone involved in the Troubles" - security
forces, loyalists and republicans.

"Until we do that I don't think we are going to move on,"
Sir Hugh said.

Moving on means going backwards first, back into a history
of over 30 years and more than 3000 killings.

What is to be our version of truth and reconciliation - or
whatever else we choose to call it - and who is prepared to
be part of it?

Northern Ireland's most senior police officer believes it
must involve "third ways of dealing with history and that
is something around storytelling... explanation,
understanding and acknowledgement."

"If it means people have to acknowledge that we could have
done things better across the piece, I think that's a good
thing," the Chief Constable continued.

What he wants to see is "far more activity led by
government" - activity and discussion that is designed to
agree the way or ways of dealing with the past.

I suppose it is about achieving a properly thought through
and agreed process that replaces the present piecemeal
approach - an approach that is costing millions, but which
may deliver very little in terms of the truth that is
demanded and the closure that is sought.

The Chief Constable's opinion on public inquiries has not

In terms of dealing with the past, he believes they are
"extremely limited in that they can deal with individual
events in a legal way, and I don't think that's how you
bring closure to well over 3,000 people, their families,
their relatives, their friends, because the bottom line is
the Troubles affected everybody."

The Policing Board member Brendan Duddy, a man who for
years was the secret link between the British Government
and the republican leadership, supports efforts to achieve

He says it is time for all sides to begin to move forward.

It is his opinion that "all war is over".

"Whether a truth process in the form of South Africa would
or would not work in Northern Ireland is very debatable,"
he told this newspaper.

"But individual truth which may be available, should be
made available to those who need it," he continued.

There is much in the past that has to be discussed before
this place can even begin to think about settling into the

And part of the discussion has to be agreement on the
context for the debate.

Is it about explanation, or is it about people being asked
to account and answer for past actions?

Was it a war or was it something else?

If it was a war, will the generals in the various armies
step forward?

For senior republicans, there can be no hiding behind the
statements, "I was never in the IRA" or "I left the IRA in
the early 1970s".

If it is to be a selective search for the truth, then there
is no point looking.

The IRA's storytelling in whatever our truth process
becomes needs to go beyond the very general apology it made
to the families of the "non-combatants" it killed.

And the bodies of the disappeared need to be returned, and
if there is better information now available, as has been
suggested, then let the searches begin.

The loyalists killed many non-combatants and labelled them
members of the IRA, the INLA or the IPLO.

They were random sectarian killings, and that truth needs
to be told and in detail.

The Government and the security forces need to explain
their role and the role of their agents.

What was allowed? Were there occasions when they "played
God" in terms of life and death, and what is the truth of
collusion with republicans and loyalists?

If it was a war, then the peace deserves those answers, and
there won't be a proper peace until people have truth.

Before then, we need to know who will ask the questions,
and, much more importantly, we need to know who will answer

That is the first step towards some closure.


Opin: Loaded Statement Fires Up Irish American Debate

By Ray O'Hanlon

Nobody needs convincing how the weather influences our
daily lives or how it can affect the course of human

D-Day was supposed to be on June 5. The Spanish Armada
might have returned to Spain more or less intact but for
storms off the west coast of Ireland.

What if it had been a little colder around the icepack and
that iceberg that got in the way of the Titanic had not
drifted so far south? What if Hurricane Katrina had taken a
different course?

It hardly ranks with these standout moments in history but
the weather played a significant role in the argument in
Washington last week over whether or not the US senate
should ratify a revised extradition treaty with the United

The battle against the treaty has been waged in large part
by Irish-American groups and the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU).

It reached something of a climax in a senate foreign
relations committee hearing room on Capitol Hill last

But in an almost Shakespearean twist, the main champion of
Irish-America’s argument was absent from the affair, forced
to contemplate lightning bolts from a terminal in Chicago’s
O’Hare Airport.

Francis Boyle is a professor of law at the University of
Illinois in Champaign, a town set in corn country about 130
miles south of Chicago.

In the battle against the revised treaty, Boyle has been
Irish-America’s point man.

There were others to argue in Washington but it was rather
like a team taking to the field without its leading

Still, the frequent-flying senators, who well understand
the vagaries of an American summer, agreed to take Boyle’s
statement on board and indeed any ripostes he would
undoubtedly have in response to the pro-treaty government

Boyle had raised the roof last week when it seemed that he
was to be the only Irish- American speaker at the foreign
relations committee hearing alongside three lawyers who
were lined up to present the US government’s argument for

Somebody listened because the hearing was moved from
Wednesday to Friday morning and additional Irish-American
speakers – from the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Irish-
American Unity Conference – were invited to attend and
present their views.

This they did with a fair degree of fire and determination.
There is nothing like the spectre of an unbridled Britannia
to arouse the passions of politically-active Irish-

Jack Meehan, newly-elected national president of the
Ancient Order of Hibernians, told the two senators who
presided at the hearing, Republican Richard Lugar and
Democrat Chris Dodd, that the fact that the United Kingdom
had already adopted the treaty was “proof positive” of its
“disregard for law and due process,” a fact, he said, that
had been “demonstrated over and over again in six of the 32
counties of Ireland”.

Of course, such forceful argument really puts it up to the
members of the foreign relations committee.

Do they back the Bush administration and dismiss Irish-
American and ACLU concerns, or do they throw a spanner in
the works by rejecting the treaty outright or calling for
changes in its formulation?

There are 18 members of the committee. Chairman Lugar is a
veteran of foreign entanglements while Joe Biden, not Chris
Dodd, is the ranking Democrat.

Biden’s Irish-American credentials are well known, as are
Dodd’s, so the Hibernians and others will be looking hard
at what they say on the matter. Lugar’s Republicans are the
majority on the panel and they include Chuck Hagel, who has
worked closely with non-member Ted Kennedy on issues such
as immigration reform and Lincoln Chafee from Rhode Island
who has something of an independent streak.

In addition to Biden and Dodd, the Democratic members
include 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry and rising
star Barack Obama from Boyle’s Illinois.

While Irish-American fears will only carry so far, the
ACLU’s could have a deeper reach.

“This administration has a history of moving people around
like chess pieces to avoid giving them access to the
constitutional liberties that are the foundation of this
country and that all people deserve. If this treaty is
ratified, it will be a dark day for all Americans,” the
ACLU said in a statement.

Even darker, no doubt, than the skies over O’Hare airport.

Still, this is a loaded statement. It will be intriguing to
see which way the committee fires on this one.


Hain In £11,000 Sporting 'Jollies' Row

Chartered planes to sporting events in Republic are slammed

By David Gordon
26 July 2006

Ulster Secretary Peter Hain was at the centre of a row
today over expensive taxpayer-funded flights to sporting
events in the Republic.

The Belfast Telegraph has learned that Mr Hain flew in
specially chartered planes to a Dublin rugby international
and two Sligo motor racing events within the past year.

The bill for the three trips by Mr Hain and a total of six
officials came to almost £11,000 - prompting a Tory MP to
denounce them as "costly jollies".

Details of the flights are contained in a newly-published
Government breakdown of travel by Cabinet Ministers in

Mr Hain made 10 official trips in total outside the UK as
Northern Ireland Secretary in the 12 months at a combined
cost of more than £55,000.

Three were to the US, on scheduled flights, for talks with
the US administration. The remaining seven were to the
Republic, all in specially chartered planes.

Four involved meetings with Dublin politicians, while three
centred around sporting events. The total bill for the
three sports-related Irish trips, including accommodation
costs, came to £10,754.

Last October, he flew to Sligo with one official, to attend
the inaugural motorsports event of the organisation Rally
Ireland and support its bid to bring a World Rally
Championship round to Ireland. The cost of this one-day
trip was £2,491.

In February this year, he flew to Dublin to attend an
Ireland versus Wales rugby match and an official lunch with
the British ambassador. Three officials went with him and
the bill for the one-day trip came to £5,002.

In March, he was back in Sligo again to attend another
Rally Ireland event. Two officials flew with him on a
charter plane for a two-day stay which cost £3,271.

Mr Hain, a keen motorsports fan, has strongly backed Rally
Ireland's plans. Its bid for a World Rally Championship
event was approved by WRC bosses earlier this month,
prompting Mr Hain to predict a major economic boost for
cross-border areas.

His use of publicly-funded charter flights to attend such
events was today questioned by the Conservative Party's
Northern Ireland spokesman, David Lidington, who said:
"Everyone accepts the need for Ministers to travel,
sometimes at short notice, but these three trips sound like
costly jollies at taxpayers' expense."

Assemblyman John Dallat said: "Peter Hain never tires of
lecturing us about how we have to pay our way and how our
public services must be reformed.

"He's not setting a very good example. These expensive
flights add insult to injury with householders facing water
charges and hikes in their rates bills."

A spokesman for the NIO stated: "Traditionally, due to
security considerations, cross-border travel by car for the
Secretary of State has been considered inadvisable.

"Chartered flights are used by the Secretary of State for
regular travel between Northern Ireland and London and on
occasions, to represent the NIO at events in the Republic
of Ireland.

"The Secretary of State is accountable to Parliament and
must be able to travel between London and Belfast quickly.
To meet all his commitments, it is vital that he has access
to flexible and efficient travel which is not offered by
scheduled flights.

"Travel arrangements are always kept under review."


Whale Rescue Operation Resumes

An operation off the County Antrim coastline to rescue a
minke whale has resumed for a second day.

The animal, thought to be injured, was spotted in shallow
water close to Larne harbour at about 0700 BST on Tuesday.

Ian Enlander from the Environment and Heritage Service said
the whale looked much weaker on Wednesday morning than it
had done on the previous day.

"It was beginning to roll and the dorsal fin was falling
over somewhat," he said.

"Undoubtedly, it is in a stressed state and not in the kind
of deep water environment that it is normally used to."

A team from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has been
trying to guide the whale into deeper waters.

Peter Steele of the group has asked boats to stay away from
the Larne Lough area as they fear noise will confuse the
mammal further.

"It is very important to stress that the more noise there
is in the water, the harder it is for this animal to get
out of the lough," he said on Wednesday.

"It is very important that other boat users don't approach
this animal."

On Tuesday, the whale became trapped behind some of the
legs of Ballylumford power station, which is situated on
the opposite side of the lough near Larne harbour.

Onlookers at Ballylumford harbour spotted the whale in the
same position on Wednesday morning.

Scientists believe the current heatwave may be contributing
to unusually large numbers of whales and dolphins off the
UK coastline.

Minke whales have a body length of 7-10m and weigh 5-10

They are the smallest baleen whale, apart from the pygmy
right whale.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/26 08:29:31 GMT


Airlines Cut Knock Routes

Two airlines have announced plans to cancel two of their
routes from Knock Airport.

Ryanair and Easyjet have confirmed they will no longer
operate flights from Knock to London Gatwick from October.

Ryanair is also pulling its route from Shannon to Luton.

A spokesperson for the no-frills airline says it is to
accommodate new routes from Shannon to Bournemouth and

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