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July 11, 2006

DUP Is At Its Blocking Best

News About Ireland & The Irish

DI 07/11/06 DUP Is At Its ‘Blocking Best’
DI 07/11/06 Parades Body ‘Laughing Stock’ For Ruling
DI 07/11/06 Barron Inquiry Leaves More Questions Than Answers
BT 07/11/06 60,000 Expected To March At Twelfth Demonstrations
DT 07/11/06 Bloody Sunday Relative Rejects Newspaper Claims
EX 07/11/06 Orange Halls Attacked In Derry
BB 07/11/06 No Nuclear Stations For NI: Hain
SF 07/11/06 Opposition To 6 New British Nuclear Power Stations
BB 07/11/06 IRA 'Owe McConvilles An Apology'
IN 07/11/06 IRA’s McConville Statement ‘Scraping Bottom Of Barrel’
BT 07/11/06 Opin: McConville - The Grisly Gall Of The Guilty
IN 07/11/06 Opin: Imperfect Peace Is Taken For Granted
IT 07/11/06 Opin: Sectarian Tensions Continue To Poison The North
BT 07/11/06 Durkan's Nephew Fighting For His Life
BB 07/11/06 Belfast Survivor Set For Homecoming
IO 07/11/06 British Based Irish Groups Get €8m In Grants
IT 07/11/06 Druid Takes Synge Marathon To Appreciative New York


DUP Is At Its ‘Blocking Best’

Democratic Unionists ‘quibbled, queried, stalled and
stopped negotiations’ during latest efforts to move peace
process forward

By Eamonn Houston

The Democratic Unionist Party “quibbled, queried, stalled
and stopped negotiations” during the latest efforts
yesterday to move the peace process forward, nationalists
said last night.

Both the SDLP and Sinn Féin criticised the DUP for blocking
attempts to set up subgroups of the preparation for
government committee at Stormont in a bid to have
devolution restored.

SDLP senior negotiator Seán Farren claimed the DUP had been
at its “blocking best” at yesterday’s meeting.

“They quibbled, queried, stalled and stopped negotiations,”
he said.

“They didn’t want the preparation for government committee
to set up an economic group for the most obscure and
pedantic procedural reasons. Nor did they want to see a
policing group set up or a group on changes to the

“The reason why they are blocking all this, though,
actually has nothing to do with procedure and everything to
do with politics.

“They want to kill off negotiations between the parties
because they think that they can get a better deal in
direct negotiations with the British government. And so
well they might.

“After all, this is the same British government that gave
them over 100 secret side deals at the time of the
Comprehensive Agreement. So they think that the British are
a soft touch for concessions now.

“The secretary of state [Peter Hain] cannot wash his hands
of this mess. He needs to tell the DUP upfront that they
have to negotiate directly with other parties.

“He needs to tell them that the days of negotiations with
officials in Downing Street’s back parlours are done. He
needs to tell them that they will only get what they can
agree with others, not what they can milk from the

“They must know that the days of secret shoddy side deals
are over, now and for good. It is only when the DUP know
this that the negotiations between the parties will make
real progress.”

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness accused the
DUP of deliberately blocking any genuine effort to make
progress in the preparation for government committee.

“I have to say that this is typical of the attitude adopted
by the DUP since this committee was first brought together.
It also raises very serious issues which the two
governments need to quickly address.

“As the DUP continue to block and frustrate the business of
reforming fully functioning political institutions, it is
becoming increasingly obvious that they are not interested
in moving forward this side of the two governments’
November deadline.

“If this scenario is played out, then it will be very clear
that the party who have blocked the formation of the
political institutions was the DUP, and the two governments
then need to close down the Hain assembly and bring forward
joint partnership arrangements,” said Mr McGuinness.


Parades Body ‘Laughing Stock’ For Ruling

By Connla Young

The Parades Commission has been branded a “laughing stock”
after issuing an amendment to a determination that could
clear the way for an Orange band to play music in the
centre of a predominantly nationalist village.

In a statement released last night, the commission issued
what it termed a “clarification” on a ruling relating to an
Orange parade in Dunloy, Co Antrim, that is to take place

The Parades Commission moved after talking with
representatives of unionist and nationalist communities in
a series of tense meetings yesterday.

Ian Paisley, the North Antrim MP, also met commission
chairman Roger Poole in London to express his concerns.

Instead of banning Orangemen from assembling at any point
of the notified route for tomorrow’s march, the Parades
Commission has amended its determination and instructed
Orangemen not to hold “a procession” on any part of the
notified route.

Nationalists have said they believe this clears the way for
a loyalist band to play Orange music from a static position
at any given point on the parade route.

North Antrim Sinn Féin assembly member Philip McGuigan
slammed the Parades Commission.

“This is making the Parades Commission a laughing stock.
This altered determination is little more than capitulation
to Ian Paisley,” he said last night.

“We have always said the way to successfully resolve this
issue is through dialogue and, instead, Orangemen are
rewarded for intransigence.

“What the Parades Commission has done here is say ‘this
march isn’t to take place in Dunloy’ but they can form up
and play music for up to ten minutes. That’s a joke.”

A tense stand-off took place in Dunloy last year between
nationalist residents and Orangemen during the town’s
annual July 12 Orange parade.

The day-long protest ended after talks between local
residents and the PSNI. After travelling to a local
Presbyterian church by car for a wreath-laying ceremony, a
loyalist band formed up and played music, infuriating local

Orangemen said they intended laying a wreath at the same
Presbyterian church tomorrow for those who died at the
Battle of the Somme.

North Antrim Democratic Unionist Party assembly member
Mervyn Storey welcomed the Parades Commission statement.

“We are glad this has been amended but there is still an
issue with the parade in the village.

“We hope that people who are still trying to up the ante on
this issue step back. People need to realise this is a
service about remembering the dead and should be conducted
with dignity and respect.

“There is no attempt to hoodwink anybody. What we want to
see is the procession passing off without this kind of
uncertainty, which just creates unnecessary hassle,” he

A spokesperson for the Parades Commission said: “The
organiser, participants and supporters of this procession
shall not hold or attempt to hold a public procession on
any part of the notified route for this procession other
than as directed in paragraph A (of the original

“The Parades Commission also reiterates its belief that a
local accommodation in Dunloy, based on mutual respect, can
be achieved through a process of meaningful dialogue and
will be redoubling its efforts in coming months to
facilitate and encourage such a process.”


Barron Inquiry Typically Leaves More Questions Than Answers

Conclusion of report into collusion allegations between
loyalists and the British government is ‘unsatisfactory’

By Mick Hall

The conclusion reached in last week’s fourth and final
Barron inquiry report that allegations of collusion in the
1975 bombing of Dundalk by loyalists were “impossible to
prove or disprove” was a telling reflection on the limited
powers of Mr Justice Henry Barron.

Formerly known as the Hamilton inquiry, the probe was set
up in 1999 at the behest of the campaigning relatives’
group Justice for the Forgotten. The investigation’s remit
included dozens of murders of Irish citizens in the South
during the 1970s, including the 1974 Monaghan and Dublin
bombings, which killed 33 people.

However, Mr Justice Barron was not vested with the power to
subpoena, so that the investigation was entirely dependent
on voluntary co-operation, particularly from the British
government. The British authorities were accused of
operating a covert military strategy of killing Irish
citizens by arming, infiltrating and directing loyalist
paramilitary units in the North.

At 6.22pm on December 19, 1975, a car bomb exploded outside
Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk. It killed two local men — Jack
Rooney (60) and Hugh Watters (51) — and injured 14 others.

A subsequent Garda investigation failed to identify the
perpetrators although the families have lived for years
with the names of those identified by others as being

None of those named were ever questioned by gardaí in
relation to the murders. The case was dropped because of
lack of evidence.

When Mr Justice Barron said in his report that there was
“no evidence that senior members of the security forces
were involved in any way in the bombing”, he was stating a
material fact.

Since 1999, British documentation passed to Henry Barron
has, in the words of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, been “limited
enough”. The judge himself once again stated his
dissatisfaction with the level of co-operation in this
latest report. The fact that Henry Barron found himself
unable to name those involved pointed to a fundamental lack
of co-operation from the British government.

However, according to some relatives of the murdered men,
the Irish government remains just as culpable for its

Margaret English (53), the daughter of Hugh Watters,
remains deeply hurt by what she sees as the Irish
government’s failure to bring Britain to book for its
alleged role in the death of her father.

“I don’t have any anger towards those responsible. The
Irish government have known who were responsible for over
30 years and allowed the British government to protect them
and they ignored us for all that time,” she said.

“They failed to protect their own citizens and instead help
protect those who killed their citizens.”

Ms English, who was 22 at the time of her father’s murder,
was present when the two families were presented with the
fourth Barron report at the Dáil last Wednesday.

“We were brought down the stairs by government officials
and given the report an hour and a half before going to the
press conference upstairs. I tried to read it but, when I
saw my father’s name, I couldn’t read on,” she said.

“It’s been 31 years but the emotion was just too much.”

During the conference, Mrs English lambasted the Irish
government for its treatment of the families but she said
it was only when the name of the notorious and now deceased
mid-Ulster Ulster Volunteer Force leader Robin “the Jackal”
Jackson was mentioned that she found the strength to speak

“The experience of having so many journalists surrounding
us was intimidating, and the family members didn’t really
speak. It was left to legal representatives but, when I
heard a journalist ask about Robin Jackson, I just took the
microphone and said what I thought.

“Hearing that name induced the same sense of anger and
disbelief I experienced when meeting the victims
commissioner John Wilson in 1998, after the Good Friday
Agreement was signed. We were introduced as relatives of
the Dundalk bombing victims and his reply was: ‘Oh, yes,
Robin Jackson.’

“When my father was killed, we weren’t even told by the
gardaí and only discovered it when we visited the local
hospital. We were never informed about the progress of
their investigation. My father’s death was never talked
about afterwards. We didn’t want to upset my mother but the
peace agreement changed that. It opened up a can of worms
and has put our lives in emotional turmoil again.”

The findings of Henry Barron pointed to the nature of the
explosives used in the Dundalk bombing and suggested a
possible link with the mid-1970s bombings of Monaghan,
Dublin and Castleblayney.

The judge concluded: “By their [security forces’] attitudes
towards loyalist violence and towards violent members of
their own forces, some senior members allowed a climate to
develop in which loyalist subversives could believe that
they could attack with impunity.”

This, of course, does not mean the British state sanctioned
murder or incursions into the South’s jurisdiction, even
though partial evidence for this is already available.

A British government security memo, dated 1971, has been in
the hands of the Barron inquiry since 2003.

According to the memo, an additional 18 to 20 battalions
would be needed for the British army to gain control of the
border area, which the memo said remained wide open. Such a
requirement would entail withdrawing troops from other
parts of the world, so Britain stood to lose face with its
Nato partners.

The memo therefore suggested three other options, the
“best” being to remove existing restraints on army
activities and the intensification of “border operations”.

Many would claim the final Barron report lacked the
political will to join the dots.

By suggesting that “some senior army officers” simply
acquiesced with emerging trends of assasination and
violence, he has denied the very possibility that they
instead followed strategic written directives.

Last week’s report was published after being referred to a
subcommittee of the Oireachtas joint committee on justice
and defence, chaired by the Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ardagh.

Mr Ardagh said public hearings into the findings of all
four Barron reports would take place in the autumn. For the
families of Hugh Watters and Jack Rooney, the hearings will
present another painful opportunity to ask questions of the
Irish state.

“They’ve known the truth for years. We deserve that truth
and want a proper history written about what happened
during that period,” said Margaret English.

A government spokesperson told Daily Ireland: “The
government has noted with concern that Judge Barron has
once more stated, in his latest report, that the level of
co-operation received from the British authorities has been

“The taoiseach and the minister for foreign affairs have
raised these issues consistently with the British
government at every available opportunity.”


60,000 Expected To March At Twelfth Demonstrations

By Debra Douglas
11 July 2006

The Fire and Rescue Service last night issued a stark
warning about the serious dangers of bonfires and urged
people to take extreme care when enjoying the Eleventh
Night festivities.

A spokesman for the Service's Community Development
Department said: "Each year in Northern Ireland, hundreds
of bonfires are lit and enjoyed in safety by many people.
However, every year there are serious injuries and damage
to property, which could have been avoided."

Safety measures to take include siting bonfires well away
from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees
and shrubs.

The distance from the bonfire to the nearest property
should be five times the height of the bonfire and the
stack should be built so it is stable and will not

Huts or dens should not be built inside the bonfire and
foam-filled furniture, tyres, aerosols, tins of paint or
bottles should not be burnt.

Responsible adults should look after lighting the bonfire
and should check that no children or pets are hiding

Buckets of water, a hose or a fire extinguisher should be
ready in case of an emergency.

The spokesman added: "At any sign of danger, ring Northern
Ireland Fire and Rescue Service."

The spokesman also called on community leaders for
assistance to ensure firefighters are able to carry out
their job without fear of attack or harassment.

He added: "Firefighters are not there to spoil anyone's
fun. An attack on your firefighters is an attack on your

Bowler and brolly essential tomorrow

By Claire Regan

Tens of thousands of Orangemen will be packing their
brollies along with their bowler hats and sashes tomorrow
after forecasters predicted a wet start to the Twelfth

The 316th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne is to
begin with spells of rain, although it will improve as the
day progresses.

A spokeswoman for the PA Weather Centre said the morning is
"not looking too brilliant" but promised an "improving
picture throughout the day".

"It will be a wet start with showers of rain across
Northern Ireland but the conditions will clear as the day
goes on and temperatures will reach a nice 20 degrees
centigrade," she added.

Lodges to converge on 18 centres

By Claire Regan

Up to 60,000 Orangemen were making final preparations today
to join one of the many annual Twelfth demonstrations being
held across Northern Ireland.

Members of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the
Independent Orange Order - representing hundreds of
district lodges - are getting set for tomorrow's
celebrations at 18 main venues in all six counties to mark
the 316th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

A total of 1,400 lodges from Northern Ireland will be
joined by marchers from Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and
Leitrim along with other contingents from Scotland,
England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In Belfast, past Grand Master of Ireland, the Rev Martin
Smyth, will be the main speaker at Barnett's Demesne.
Around 250 lodges from the nine Belfast districts will be
headed by more than 100 bands as the main parade leaves
Carlisle Circus at 10am and makes its way to the demesne
via Donegall Street, Royal Avenue, Donegall Square, Bedford
Street, Dublin Road, Lisburn Road, Balmoral Avenue and
Malone Road.

In Randalstown, 86 lodges will take part in the East Antrim
Combine's demonstration. Brethren from a wide area will
start parading at Shane Street at 11am.

The tiny village of Broomhedge is the venue for the South
Antrim demonstration. Seventy-five lodges and 50 bands from
the Lisburn, Aghalee, Glenavy, Magheragall, Ballinderry,
Derriaghy and Hillsborough districts will take part.

Portglenone will co-host the Co Antrim 'Triangle' taking in
the neighbouring districts of Ahoghill and Cullybackey.
Seventeen lodges will take part in the parade which starts
from Chesney Crescent at 1pm.

Thirty local lodges, headed by 17 bands, are to take part
in the Ballymena festivities, making their way from the
town centre to Waveney Road, through Harryville to Ballee.

This year's Braid demonstration is in Broughshane, getting
under way from The Commons at noon. Platform proceedings
will start at 2pm.

Ballycastle will host the North Antrim demonstration taking
in the neighbouring districts of Ballymoney, Rasharkin,
Cloughmills and Bushmills. Fifty lodges leave Ramoan
playing fields at 1pm.

The Co Armagh Twelfth demonstrations at Richhill will
involve 170 lodges from 11 districts, starting in the
village at 9.15am. Visiting districts are expected from
Portadown, Loughgall, Tandragee, Armagh, Lurgan, Killylea,
Keady, Newtownhamilton, Markethill and Bessbrook.

Gilford is the location for the South Down demonstration,
involving 96 lodges, 50 bands and several dozen Lambeg
drums. Districts taking part are Lower Iveagh, Lower Iveagh
West, Rathfriland, Newry, Banbridge, Loughbrickland, Bann
Valley and Gilford.

In Bangor, the five North Down districts will be joined by
67 lodges from east and mid Down.

The 15 Mourne district lodges and bands will converge on
Kilkeel. Platform proceedings will be held at the field on
the Manse Road.

More than 100 Fermanagh lodges will be joined in
Maguiresbridge by lodges from neighbouring border counties.
The Fermanagh County Grand Master, Thomas Elliott MLA, will
chair proceedings.

And more than 60 South Derry lodges will be providing the
festivities in Magherafelt. The parade will pass through
the town centre at noon.

Coleraine's Twelfth celebrations start at Killowen at
11.30am with 60 lodges and bands from three districts and
the City of Londonderry Grand Orange Lodge making their way
to the Showgrounds.

The Tyrone village of Castlecaulfield will host 65 lodges
and 60 bands from the east and south of the county. The
parade moves off at 12.30pm.

Meanwhile, 60 north and west Tyrone lodges and bands from
six districts will meet in Castlederg, The parade starts on
the Strabane Road at 12.30pm.

And in Ballygawley, 22 lodges and bands will form the
Twelfth parade in the Clogher Valley. Marchers will
assemble at Old Omagh Road and move off at 12.15pm heading
for the demonstration field at Tullyvor Road.

The Independent Orange Order demonstration will be held in
Portrush for the first time. The parade around the town of
20 lodges will start at Landsdowne Crescent at 1pm.


Bloody Sunday Relative Rejects Newspaper Claims

A brother of one of the men who was murdered on Bloody
Sunday has criticised a British newspaper for questioning
the cost of the Saville Inquiry.

Wednesday's Daily Telegraph ran an article on its front
page claiming that the cost of the Saville Inquiry had
risen to £400 million. The newspaper also suggested that
the cost of the inquiry into the shooting of 14 Derry men
in 1972 was preventing the British Government for beginning
its inquiry into the London bombings of July 2005.

The NIO has since confirmed that the estimated cost is
£163m. A spokesman said he didn't know where the higher
figure, quoted by Labour Minister Tessa Jowell, came from.

John Kelly, whose brother, Michael, was shot dead by
paratroopers on Bloody Sunday, disputed the newspaper's
figures and said that the cost of the Saville Inquiry was

"The latest figure that I read about the cost of the
Saville Inquiry was £168 million and that was just at the
weekend. According to this latest newspaper report it seems
to have trebled since then.

"Our view about this issue is quite simple, we don't care
how much it costs. We don't care how much the inquiry
costs. How can you put a price on a human life? How can you
put a price on truth? How can you put a price on justice?"
Mr. Kelly asked.

Mr. Kelly said that the British government created the need
for the inquiry and its subsequent costs. "If our people
had not been murdered by the British army there would have
been no need for any inquiry. If they had held a proper
investigation the first time around and not the botched
Widgery inquiry they would not have needed this," he

He also said that he could not understand how the Saville
inquiry would impact on any inquiry into the London

"The Bloody Sunday inquiry is all about the search for
truth and justice. It is not and has never been about
money. I can't see how it relates to any other inquiries
financially. We want truth and justice, as I am sure the
families of those killed in the London bombings do to,
regardless of the cost," he said.

10 July 2006


Orange Halls Attacked In Derry

Republicans were blamed today for attacking Orange Halls in
south Derry.

Two outside Magherafelt were smeared with paint and a third
in neighbouring Castledawson had windows smashed.

With tens of thousands of Orangemen due to attend Twelfth
of July rallies across the North tomorrow, one community
representative claimed the attacks were an attempt to
heighten sectarian tensions.

Ken Wilkinson of the Progressive Unionist Party, the
political wing of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force,
said: “This is deliberately provocative action by
republicans who are looking for a reaction. It’s been going
on in the south Derry area for a number of months.”


No Nuclear Stations For NI: Hain

Nuclear power stations will not be built in Northern
Ireland, Secretary of State Peter Hain has said.

He was speaking as a new generation of nuclear power
stations was expected to be given the go-ahead by the
government following its energy review.

The review is expected to make the case for as many as six
new facilities in England, Scotland and Wales.

However, Mr Hain said that renewable energy sources would
provide the way forward for Northern Ireland.

"There are no plans to build any nuclear power stations in
Northern Ireland - that is the view I have taken as
secretary of state," he said.

"It's also part of an understanding we have with the Irish
government, who are opposed to any new nuclear build on the
whole island of Ireland

"That means that we have to go very strongly and
progressively for green, clean, renewable energy, which is
what we will be doing."

Global warming targets

Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered the energy review last
November to decide how the UK would meet its targets for
fighting global warming and ensuring energy security.

Nuclear currently meets 20% of the UK's energy needs and Mr
Blair says that gap needs to be filled as all the existing
plants are decommissioned by 2023.

Supporters of nuclear power want to have a firm framework
on which to make investment decisions.

They insist they will not need government subsidies to
build new nuclear plants.

But critics say siding with nuclear power will make
investors less likely to put money into renewable sources
and distract from energy efficiency - the focus of the
government's last energy review in 2003.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/11 06:49:09 GMT


Morgan To Write To Tony Blair To Oppose Construction Of Six
New Nuclear Power Stations Across Britain

Published: 11 July, 2006

Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD
speaking as the British government is to publish a review
of it's energy policy said "The threat of a new wave of
nuclear power plants across Britain will cause huge concern
to people in Ireland, particularly given our experience of
the Sellafield nuclear power plant." Deputy Morgan is to
write to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair immediately
opposing plans to build up to six new nuclear power
stations across Britain.

Deputy Morgan said, "The British government will release
its energy review later today and it is expected to include
proposals for the construction of six new nuclear power
stations. This will cause huge concern right across Ireland
given our experience of the Sellafield nuclear power plant.
For decades now people on the eastern Irish seaboard have
been living in the shadow of what is the most discredited
and unstable nuclear power plant in all of Western Europe.
Over this time we have had to deal with health concerns,
consistent safety lapses, missing plutonium and
inaccessible radioactive ponds.

"We want a complete closure of the Plant, on a phased
basis. We want a proper clean-up operation and we want more
openness and no more cover-ups from the British Government
on this issue.

"Nuclear power can never be a viable option. The
devastation caused twenty years ago at Chernobyl and the
after-effects, which will be felt for many more generations
should be enough to make us stop in our tracks and think

"Some time ago I raised the issue of Sellafield and ongoing
problems faced in Ireland as a result of this nuclear
facility with the British Prime Minister in Downing Street.
At that time Margaret Beckett was in charge of the
Environment portfolio at Whitehall and there were hopes
that Britain would be moving away from nuclear power.
Today's energy review indicates a shift in policy which
will put nuclear power back in the ascendancy.

"I intend to write to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair
immediately to oppose the expansion of Britain's nuclear
industry. I will be making it very clear to the British
Government and to the nuclear industry that we are very
serious about defending the health and safety of the people
of Ireland." ENDS


IRA 'Owe McConvilles An Apology'

The IRA owes the family of murdered Belfast woman Jean
McConville an apology, SDLP leader Mark Durkan has said.

It follows a statement issued by the IRA at the weekend
repeating its claim that Mrs McConville was an informer.

She was abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA
in 1972.

Mr Durkan said no-one would believe what was said about Mrs
McConville by the IRA and that the family had suffered

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan said on Friday that she had
found no evidence that Mrs McConville had passed
information to the security forces.

However, the IRA later insisted a "thorough investigation"
confirmed that the mother of 10 "was working as an informer
for the British army".

'Confidence and comfort'

Mr Durkan told BBC News on Monday: "I think it is terrible
that the IRA again are denying Jean McConville's good name.

"Having spent years denying the whereabouts of her body,
having denied her the right to life, having denied her
family the right to a mother... it is terrible that the
McConville family have been revisited with this slur.

"But the family take great confidence and comfort from the
fact that people will believe what the Police Ombudsman has
said and they will not believe the self-serving version of
events that has again come from the IRA."

Mr Durkan said questions "need to be asked about how the
IRA think they can be so authoritative about this".

Speaking to the BBC, Mrs McConville's daughter Helen
McKendry said: "I do want the IRA to admit that they killed
an innocent woman. I want them to clear my mother's name.

"When you look back to 1972, where did my mother get the
time to be a British agent?

"She was on her own, she was just after losing her husband,
her 17-year-old son was interned, she took a nervous
breakdown and was in hospital for a few months - so where
did she get the chance to be this spy?"

In 1999, the IRA admitted they had killed Mrs McConville
and several other of the "Disappeared", but alleged some of
them had been informers.

Mrs McConville, who was a widow, was killed after she went
to the aid of a fatally wounded British soldier outside her
home in west Belfast's Divis flats.

Her remains were finally found at Shelling Hill beach in
County Louth in the Irish Republic in August 2003.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/10 07:41:10 GMT


IRA’s Mcconville Statement ‘Scraping Bottom Of Barrel’

By William Scholes

The IRA is “scraping the bottom of the barrel” by
continuing to insist that Jean McConville was a British
informer, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said last

“What has been overlooked is the fact that Mrs McConville
should not have been murdered and the IRA’s ‘justification’
should not be the main issue,” Sir Reg said.

He said that others would be subjected to “the same sort of
stress for many years to come as the IRA attempts to
rewrite history”.

The IRA’s weekend insistence that west Belfast woman Jean
McConville, pictured, was a British informer was the latest
instalment of republican commentary on the Disappeared.

The Saturday statement, signed by ‘P O’Neill’, said that
the IRA had “carried out a thorough investigation into all
the circumstances surrounding her death”.

“That investigation confirmed that Jean McConville was
working as an informer for the British army,” the statement

It came hours after Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan said she
had found no evidence to support the claim that Mrs
McConville (37), a mother-of-10 abducted from her Divis
flats home in December 1972 and murdered by the IRA, had
passed information to the security forces.

The latest IRA statement echoed a 1999 one in which it said
that Mrs McConville had been “arrested by Oglaigh na
hEireann in 1972 and admitted to being a British army

In March 1999 the IRA confirmed that it had abducted and
murdered nine of the Disappeared and said Mrs McConville
was buried on Templeton beach in Co Louth.

Extensive digging proved fruitless and the search was later
widened but it was not until August 2003 that her remains
were found at Shelling Hill Beach in Co Louth.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams provoked anger in May 1999
when he said of the Disappeared that “these things happen
in war”.

In 2003 the West Belfast MP claimed that the IRA had made a
genuine attempt to help locate the bodies of those it had
killed and buried.

His comments came after the IRA insisted it had passed on
all available information about the Disappeared to the
Irish government.

Mr Adams said he hoped the uncovering of Mrs McConville’s
remains would bring “closure to her family”.

“I think that the IRA has made genuine efforts to try and
bring closure for the families involved,” he said.

In June 2005 Mr Adams also said republicans had “never
stopped trying to help” the families of the Disappeared
find their loved ones.

In September 2002 he denied fresh allegations that he was
aware of orders to murder Mrs McConville while he was the
IRA’s Belfast commander in 1972.

According to a book by journalist Ed Moloney, Mr Adams
established a secret unit to carry out the killings and
burials of alleged informers.

Mr Adams has strenuously denied the claims.

Sinn Fein general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin was roundly
criticised in January 2005 when he said that Mrs
McConville’s murder was not a crime because it was
committed in the context of a struggle for Irish freedom.

The IRA's decision to insist that Belfast woman, Jean
McConville was an informer 30 years after it killed her has
surprised the Government, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said.

"I really don't know that, and neither does any of our
people. We have no information on it," said Mr Ahern,
following the IRA's public disagreement with Northern
Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.


Opin: The Grisly Gall Of The Guilty

By Gail Walker
11 July 2006

The IRA statement justifying their murder of Jean
McConville (right) 30 years ago reminds us all - as if we
needed it - just how dangerously malevolent this
organisation still is.

It takes some gall to repeat allegations that the mother of
10 was an informer when no one - not even among their own
misguided supporters - is prepared to believe that rubbish
any more. And it is sickening to hear, tacked on to the
statement, the ghastly 'regret' extended to relatives of
those killed by them over the period of the Troubles.

Talk about having your cake and eating it?

At any rate, their 'disappearing' of Mrs McConville's
remains speaks volumes about how this grim outfit operated
then and now. They were so proud of their deed that they
didn't want anyone to find out they had killed her. In
particular, they didn't want their own community to know
they had killed her.

And that's from an organisation that killed more of 'their'
community than loyalists and security forces combined -
another big secret you won't find daubed up on Falls Road
walls by Young Sinn Féin.

The sanctimoniousness of the statement is amazing. This is
an organisation which was obviously soaked with informers,
many of whom are still alive and well and in positions of
influence in the republican movement to this day.

The most prominent of those (to date, that is) was murdered
by republicans earlier this year.

The fact is Jean McConville was murdered because she was a
Protestant. Yes, she had changed her religion when she
married her husband. But everyone knew she wasn't 'one of

And everyone knew her husband had been a soldier.

And everyone knew she had gone to the aid of a soldier who
had been shot and was lying dying in the street.

Put all those together and you've the reason why the brave
IRA hauled her out of her house, shot her in the back of
the head and hid her body as far away as they could.

'Let's hear it for the lads who got McConville'? I don't
think so. I can't see her murderers being given a standing
ovation as Heroes of the Revolution, even if they had the
bottle to own up and look for applause.

Nuala O'Loan's statement 'clearing' Jean McConville's name
was laudable. It challenged the duplicitous IRA head-on.

But it does raise the option for the relatives of all those
many, many other people murdered as 'touts' by the IRA to
demand that their cases are re-examined also and for the
records to be trawled for evidence that will contradict the
glib accusations of their murderers.

The climate of fear in communities formerly run by the IRA
has been diluted considerably by the revelations about
senior touts in the republican movement. Diminished also by
the failure of SF to deliver the kind of political progress
they promised when the ceasefire was declared and by the
open racketeering and cross-border smuggling the IRA has
turned its full resources to.

Most of all, it has been lessened by the very visible
personal wealth accumulated and flaunted by known IRA
activists while the conditions of those who suffered the
fear of punishment beatings and intimidation remain as
hopeless as most working-class communities everywhere.

It's the old, old story.

Ordinary people who might have subscribed to SF's political
ambitions are much less likely these days to swallow whole
the pious utterances of self-justifying thugs.

And they're more likely to identify with poor Mrs
McConville than with the hoods who destroyed her and her
family out of sheer sectarian malice.


Opin: Imperfect Peace Is Taken For Granted

The Tuesday Column
By William Graham

A very fine sculpture entitled Reconciliation is to be seen
in the garden at Stormont showing a young man and woman
kneeling to embrace each other across the divide.

Copies of this statue are also located in the ruins of
Coventry Cathedral, Hiroshima and on the site of the Berlin

On the drive up to Stormont I always glance left at this
statue and wonder if people in Northern Ireland can ever
reach a true political reconciliation or show the necessary
compassion towards each other for a new future together.

Apart from this statue representing hope and equanimity
Parliament Buildings is a depressing place these days for
politicians and political correspondents alike as all
energy seems to have been sucked out of the so-called

The parties and the political observers now believe that
there is precious little chance of a return to devolution
by the magic date of November 24.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern during
their most recent visit to Stormont appeared to be
whistling in the dark in their hopes for an autumn deal
particularly between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

The minutes from the Preparation for Government committee
reveal some parties returning to the old arguments.

The committee has become something of a damp squib with no
political light visible at the end of the tunnel.

Similarly the assembly’s last debate before the summer
recess turned out to be an absolutely hopeless exercise as
MLAs themselves described the plenary session as a complete

Secretary of State Peter Hain seems to have come in for
criticism from all sides for the way the assembly is
conducting its business.

The Peter Hain Northern Ireland Office policy on allowing
assembly debates looks suspiciously to be one that is made
up on the hoof.

Assembly members never know until the last minute (or at
least until the evening before) when debates are to be held
making it impossible for them to prepare their

The NIO may occasionally allow these debates (which are
boycotted by Sinn Fein) but pay not the slightest attention
to anything that is said whether it be on economic or
social issues.

The chance of any NIO policy change on the economy, health
or education, or the imposed rate hikes or water taxes as
the result of any assembly debate is about nil.

What has been happening at Stormont is not only depressing
but it also undermines the whole political process.

The question has been asked quite rightly – how can the
assembly members have any credibility when they can’t even
order their own debates on a piece of business?

What hope of the assembly members being able to form a
government in November or make decisions on a budget
involving billions of pounds?

Meanwhile, in the real outside world the Northern Ireland
Life and Times survey contains some interesting figures.

It appears support for the Good Friday Agreement has
dropped to the point where almost two-thirds of adults do
not want to see it implemented in full.

This all makes grim reading for those of us who believed
that the agreement would endure.

Perhaps it will endure but in a slightly different format.

A long political road has been travelled since 15 minutes
before five o’clock on Good Friday 1998 when the political
parties but not the DUP, consented to this agreement.

Senator George Mitchell said at that time if it endured, it
would be because it was fair and balanced.

In his book Making Peace he spoke about his dream to return
to Northern Ireland and on a rainy afternoon to drive to
Stormont with his young son and to sit quietly in the
visitors gallery of the assembly.

He wrote: “There we will watch and listen as the members of
the assembly debate the ordinary issues of life in a
peaceful democratic society – education, health care,
agriculture, tourism, fisheries, trade. There will be no
talk of war, for the war will have long been over. There
will be no talk of peace, for peace will by then be taken
for granted.”

Today without devolution the assembly members are unable to
make decisions on the ordinary everyday bread and butter
issues which impact on everyone in Northern Ireland.

And eight years on from the Good Friday Agreement the
imperfect peace in the north is taken for granted – perhaps
dangerously so in a deeply divided society where violence
has historically a habit of returning in cycles.

• Breidge Gadd is on holiday


Sectarian Tensions Continue To Poison The North


Sectarianism, and the denial of it, remain huge obstacles
in Northern Ireland, writes Susan McKay

M ore than two months have passed since 15- year-old
Michael "Mickybo" McIlveen was beaten to death in a
sectarian attack in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

His murder made headlines around a world which had thought
such things no longer happened in Northern Ireland. Some of
the media tried to find a hopeful story in a miserable one
- on the day of his funeral some headlines were saying that
Ballymena had "united in grief". But it had not, and it has
not, since.

Yes, the huge crowd at the funeral included boys and girls
wearing blue Rangers tops, but they were few and far
between in the sea of Celtic green worn by the Catholic
youth of the town. No senior DUP representative attended
the funeral to hear Father Paul Symonds calls for a "new
vision" for Ballymena, and the Bishop of Down and Connor,
Patrick Walsh, calling for justice and equality. (One DUP
councillor had already implied the teenager would be going
to hell because he was not a saved Christian.)

Downtown Ballymena went about its ordinary weekday
business. In Ballykeel, loyalists held a demonstration
about the persecution of Protestants. A car full of
mourners took a short cut through the estate on the way to
the graveyard for Michael's burial and was attacked.

In the days following the attack, the McIlveen family
appealed for calm. Michael's mother, Gina, played over and
over from the windows of her house, Cara Dillon singing the
Tommy Sands song, There Were Roses. The song celebrates a
friendship between a Catholic and a Protestant, one of whom
is murdered in retaliation for the murder of the other. It
includes the line, "And the tears of the people fell

Criticised last year for claiming there was more to the
sectarian expulsion of Catholics from villages near
Ballymena than met the eye, the PSNI stated in the
immediate aftermath of the attack on Michael that the
motive was sectarian. However, the longtime MP for North
Antrim, the Rev Ian Paisley, claimed republicans had been
provocative for failing to honour an agreement about flying
flags. "There's problems in Ballymena when people don't
keep their word," he said.

Gina McIlveen, determined that her son's death would bring
Protestants and Catholics together, generously invited
Paisley to the funeral. He visited her, prayed with her,
but said he had to attend parliament that day. Then he
stood up in the House of Commons and muddied the waters
with the claim that, "there is a strange significance to
this particular murder because those who are charged cross
over the religious divide".

Ian Paisley junior has since drawn attention to the fact
that Gina McIlveen has a past conviction for affray. (She
and others got suspended sentences.) DUP politicians have
referred to the "alleged murder". Around the town, an ugly
and false rumour had it that Michael hadn't died as a
result of the attack at all, but from a subsequent fall at
his home. (Similarly squalid rumours went around after the
Quinn murders, when three children died after being trapped
inside their petrol-bombed home in the Co Antrim town of
Ballymoney on July 12th, 1998.)

At the first meeting of the local council after the murder,
the DUP, (which has 13 councillors to the UUP's five, while
the SDLP has two and Sinn Féin one) rejected motions from
the SDLP and Sinn Féin calling for anti-sectarian
programmes of action for the town. Although the PSNI has
said that the majority of sectarian attacks are againt the
minority Catholic population (80% of the population is
Protestant), unionists insist it is the Protestant people
who are being "ethnically cleansed."

David Tweed, a supporter of the 1996 loyalist blockade of
Harryville Catholic church, claimed in 1998 that the
murders of the Quinn children that summer were not
sectarian. At the council meeting, he accused the SDLP of
spilling out hatred of Protestants. He said the "pan-
nationalist bandwagon" had started to roll after the
McIlveen murder. His colleague, Maurice Mills, said people
were "ganging up" on Protestants and that unionism was "in
a battle to save our country". Some local Protestants say
this sort of talk is only what you'd expect of the DUP's
"dinosaurs", and that most unionists in the prosperous town
just want to live and let live. Sectarianism is only a
problem for elements in the housing estates, according to
this view. However, what is happening in Ballymena bodes
ill for the restoration of the Assembly. The DUP insists it
is behaving democratically in the town, though it hoards
all the power.

Ballymena's loyalists, meanwhile, having been recently
cajoled into removing a huge UDA mural which for years
overlooked Harryville church, are issuing dire warnings.
The Ulster Political Research Group (which is "close to"
the UDA) warned last month that despite its efforts to keep
the lid on things, "chaos" was only a step away. Loyalists
had been pushed to "breaking point" by republicans.

"We are not far away from some serious, serious violent
scenes," said spokesman Darren Smyth.

At the June meeting of Ballymena council, the single Sinn
Féin councillor, Monica Digney, was appointed to a
committee dealing with cultural affairs. It took a long
hour of hard wrangling by the combined forces of Sinn Féin
and the SDLP to persuade the DUP to agree. When she speaks
in council, some unionist councillors ostentatiously ignore
Digney and talk among themselves. The atmosphere, according
to the SDLP's Declan O'Loan, is "absolutely poisonous".

It was moving to see Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren
from Ballymena going together to Stormont to meet Tony
Blair and Bertie Ahern during their recent visit. Good work
is, quietly, being done.

However, sectarianism and denial about it remain huge and
formidable obstacles. Tom Paulin has a poem which starts
with the assertion that during the 51-year existence of the
old Northern Ireland parliament at Stormont, only one bill
by a non-unionist member was ever passed. This was the Wild
Birds Act of 1931. He describes a bird called the
"notawhit" rapping out a sharp code sign, "like a mild and
patient prisoner/pecking through granite with a teaspoon".
The poem is called Of Difference Does it Make.

How things politically are in Paisley's heartland should
act as a warning to those optimistic that good sense, and a
recognition of the need for justice and equality, will

© The Irish Times


Durkan's Nephew Fighting For His Life

Flicker of hope for family in bedside vigil for SDLP

By Clare Weir
11 July 2006

A flicker of hope was offered to the distraught family of
SDLP leader Mark Durkan today when his politician nephew
briefly opened his eyes after the horror accident that left
him fighting for his life in intensive care.

Popular Northlands representative Mark H Durkan was in
intensive care at Altnagelvin Hospital and underwent
surgery after the incident, which occurred at the family
home in Edanmount Park in the city.

It is thought Mark has suffered a fractured skull and a
broken collar bone.

His parents Patrick and Gay have mounted a bedside vigil in
the latest heartache for the family.

Mark's sister Deirdre was killed in a car accident on
Desertmartin Road, Moneymore, in January 2000.

The 18-year-old was a rear seat passenger in a Volvo car
which left the road and struck a post.

Three members of her family were also in the car but
escaped unhurt.

Tragically, Deirdre's boyfriend then took his own life
following the accident.

On Monday morning a neighbour found 28-year-old father-of-
one Mark on the ground - where he is thought to have been
lying for some time - after he apparently climbed a ladder
to gain access to the family home through an upstairs

However, today fellow SDLP councillor Seana Hume said that
her colleague had opened his eyes briefly last night.

His family will now endure an agonising wait for Mark to
regain consciousness following surgery on his head.

"He had a comfortable night and opened his eyes yesterday
evening for a time," said Seana.

"He had a surgery yesterday and I think the wait is now on
for him to regain consciousness - I think then that we will
all have a better idea about the extent of his injuries and
how long it will take him to recover."

Mark and Seana, along with fellow councillor Colum
Eastwood, hit the headlines in 2005 when they were voted
into Derry City Council as some of the youngest councillors
in the UK.

His immediate family refused to comment on the accident
today, while a spokesperson for Altnagelvin Hospital could
not confirm the councillor's condition this morning.

SDLP Mayor Helen Quigley said she was "deeply upset" after
learning of Mr Durkan's plight and wished him a speedy

Paying tribute to the councillor, she said: "He is an
excellent young councillor and he is very much a man of the
people. I wish him a full and speedy recovery."

Mark H Durkan has been prolific in tackling issues in his
constituency since coming into office last year.

He has been noted for his work in combating anti-social
behaviour in the Glen area close to his home.

Sinn Fein group leader on council, Maeve McLaughlin, and
Ulster Unionist, Mary Hamilton, have also expressed their
sympathies and best wishes to the Durkan family.


Belfast Survivor Set For Homecoming

By Julian O'Neill
BBC Newsline reporter

Amid the shipwrecks scattered about Le Havre docks in
France is a survival story.

The SS Nomadic, a rusting relic so nearly sent to the
scrapyard, is ready to come home.

Weeds grow on its deck, and year after year of recent
neglect have taken a heavy toll.

Step onboard and you see the enormity of the renovation

Look hard enough, however, and you do glimpse the
potential. The question is will the millions needed be
raised to do the job?

The British Government, who bought the SS Nomadic at
auction for £170,000 in January, has established a trust to
raise up to £7m to fully restore the vessel and in the
process provide a major boost to tourism in Belfast.

But if the money is not raised within 18 months, it has
threatened to sell the boat for scrap.

That the SS Nomadic is still afloat after almost a century
is in itself remarkable.

It was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the famous
White Star Line and was used to take first and second class
passengers out to Titanic at Cherbourg in 1912.

The Titanic entered legend when it sank with the loss of
more than 1,500 people on its maiden voyage from
Southampton to New York, but the Nomadic's story continued.

It did service as a troop carrier in both world wars and
saw out the end of the century as a floating restaurant
beside the Eiffel Tower in Paris before being sent for
storage in Le Havre.

The French Titanic Society is glad the SS Nomadic has a
future to look forward to in Belfast.

But Thierry Dufournaud said: "People in Belfast need to
realise what a big job the renovation will be."

One of the biggest tasks is replacing the boat's upper
passenger deck and funnel, removed when it left Paris.

Only some of structure is stored on board, scattered here
and there below deck.

The SS Nomadic does retain some of its original features
like internal doors and decorative ironwork around

The amount of dark wood is also striking, not just on wall
panels but as beams on ceilings.

Other artefacts, such as a lifeboat, are in storage but
huge sections - like the restaurant area - have been
modernised without sympathy.

Such is the vessel's condition that a specialist company
has been hired to carry it home on the back of a barge, a
journey that begins on Tuesday.

Jonathan Bawden of Anchor Marine Transportation Limited
said: "We have done this kind of work before but it is
great to be involved in Nomadic which is part of Belfast's

The homecoming will take a week. The refurbishment will
last years.

BBC Newsline will have a specially extended programme on
Monday 16 July for live coverage of the ship's return to
Belfast docks.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/11 07:07:30 GMT


British Based Irish Groups Get €8m In Grants

11/07/2006 - 13:02:07

Irish community groups in Britain received more than €8m in
Irish Government grants today.

At the Irish Embassy in London, the Minister for Foreign
Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern announced the funding for
Irish welfare, community and sports organisations.

Over 140 organisations and advisory services meeting the
needs of the Irish in Britain will benefit.

The funding from the Dion Committee which was set up by the
Government in 1984 to respond to the needs of Irish
emigrants in the UK.

More than €29m has been allocated to date from Dion, which
means "shelter" in Irish.

A total of €7m was provided last year, a 60% increase on

In 2001, it was estimated that there were six million Irish
people living in Britain who were Irish-born or second or
third generation Irish.

This represented 11% of the total 54.5 million UK
population at the time.

However, in recent years more migrants have been moving
from the UK to Ireland than vice versa.


Druid Takes Synge Marathon To Appreciative New York

Seán O'Driscoll in New York

DruidSynge, the Druid theatre company's mammoth eight-and-
a-half hour production of all John Millington Synge's
works, has opened in New York as the headline at this
year's Lincoln Center Festival.

Mick Lally and a host of other Druid actors received a very
positive reaction from more than 600 people who saw the
work at a theatre at the John Jay College of Criminal Law
in mid-Manhattan yesterday.

DruidSynge's director, Garry Hynes, is already known to New
York's theatre-going public for her Tony award winning
production of Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen Of

Her latest interpretation of Synge has attracted huge
attention in the New York arts world.

The New York Times published a 1,500 profile of her last

The Synge cycle will run for eight-and-a-half hours every
day until July 23rd.

Tickets are only available for the whole production but
patrons are allowed to leave in between plays - but only

"You've got like five minutes before they start up again,"
says Mary Davis, a retired school teacher from Manhattan's
Upper East Side.

"I'm going out for a stiff drink at some point. The words
are like music but you need a break after a few hours, you
know what I mean?

"Good thing they have it in a criminal law college -
there's so much death in this thing."

Ms Davis rates the performances of the first two plays -
Riders To The Sea and The Tinker's Wedding as

"The sound of the sea in the first one was just so
hypnotic, it carried you into the play.

"I didn't have a clue what they were talking about for the
first five minutes but the sea carries you into their world
and you understand."

Melissa James from Philadelphia intends to see it out to
the very end.

She was thrown somewhat by the modern dress of the actors
in The Tinker's Wedding.

"In Riders To The Sea, they're all in shawls, and then you
have these Irish tinkers with tattoos and cheap jewellery
and the woman has her boobs all over the place.

"I wasn't expecting that, but you go with it. I think it
would be boring if they just kept to the same time period.
It's exciting, a really exciting project," she said.

This is the first New York production of DruidSynge, which
was first shown at the Galway Arts Festival in July 2005.

It has since played to sell-out crowds in both Dublin and

Headlining the Lincoln Festival is a major achievement for
Druid, which was founded in 1975 as Ireland's first
professional theatre company outside Dublin.

Before coming to New York this month, Druid performed their
Synge cycle at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis after
being invited by the artistic director at the Guthrie,
Irishman Joe Dowling.

© The Irish Times

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