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July 06, 2006

Loyalists Had Licence To Kill Catholics

News About Ireland & The Irish

EX 07/06/06
Loyalists Had Licence To Kill Catholics, Finds Inquiry
IO 07/06/06 Pub Bombers 'Treated Better Than Victims' Families'
OF 07/06/06 Blanketmen In Sligo To Commemorate Death Of Joe McDonnell
WT 07/06/06 Irish Crusade
IE 07/06/06 ILIR Girds For Longer Haul With Upbeat D.C. Rally
ND 07/06/06 Crossmaglen Uproar After PSNI Land U-Turn
EE 07/06/06 UUP MP Voices Discomfort Over PUP Link-Up
BT 07/06/06 Whiterock Riots: Army Cleared On Baton Round Use
BT 07/06/06 Sinn Fein Has 'Made It Easy For Criminals'
BM 07/06/06 Rasharkin Riots 'A Disgrace'
HT 07/06/06 Sinn Fein Leader Mediates Between LTTE, Lanka
ML 07/06/06 Opin: Moving The Goal Posts In Northern Ireland
IN 07/06/06 Opin: Fresh Eyes Revisit Battle Of The Somme
IN 07/06/06 Opin: West Versus The Rest Over ‘Bigotfest’ Event
ND 07/06/06 Somme Exhibition Opens In Kilkeel
BT 07/06/06 Ulster House Prices Up By 25%
LS 07/06/06 Northern Ireland To Allow Gay Partners To Adopt


06 July 2006

Loyalists Had Licence To Kill Catholics, Finds Inquiry

By Paul O’Brien Political Reporter

SENIOR members of the security forces in the North allowed
a climate to develop in which loyalist subversives believed
they could attack Catholic targets “with impunity”, an
inquiry has found.

In addition, the RUC may have kept information from gardaí
investigating a bombing in order to hide security force
collusion in attacks.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair was called upon last
night to order the RUC’s successor, the PSNI, to cooperate
fully with Oireachtas hearings that will be held on the
issue later this year.

The findings were contained in an interim report of the
commission investigating the bombing of Kay’s Tavern in
Dundalk on December 19, 1975, in which two people were

Later that same night, a gun and bomb attack was carried
out at Donnelly’s Bar in Silverbridge, Co Armagh, killing
three more people.

In his report published yesterday, former Supreme Court
judge Henry Barron — the sole member of the commission —
said the Dundalk bombing was carried out by loyalists, most
probably associated with the mid-Ulster UVF.

These loyalists were using the farm of an RUC reserve
member, James Mitchell, as their centre of operations,
although Mr Justice Barron said he accepted the bomb did
not originate from the farm, located in Glennane, Co

However, he believed the Dundalk and Silverbridge bombings
were coordinated by members of the “Glennane group”, and
therefore “members of that group must at least have known
in advance of the plan to attack Dundalk”.

The judge said allegations of collusion were “impossible to
prove or disprove”. However, he could say that:

nThe Glennane group contained members of the RUC and the
British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), “some of whom
probably knew of the plan to attack Dundalk”.

nSenior members of the security forces “allowed a climate
to develop in which loyalist subversives could believe that
they could attack with impunity”.

nSome of those suspected of the bombings, such as well-
known loyalists Robin Jackson and brothers James Nelson
Young and Joseph Steward Young, had relationships with
British intelligence and/or RUC special branch officers.

While the commission did not have firm evidence, Mr Justice
Barron said he suspected the RUC kept crucial intelligence
from the gardaí investigating the Dundalk attack in order
to “limit information relating to security forces collusion
in terrorist activity from reaching the public domain”.

The judge also said that, while forensic evidence was
inconclusive, the nature of the explosives used suggested a
possible link between the Dundalk attack and the bombings
of Dublin and Monaghan in 1974 and Castleblayney in 1976.

An Oireachtas sub-committee will begin hearings on Mr
Justice Barron’s report in September, and issue its own
report by mid-November. But families of the victims again
expressed disappointment last night that no public inquiry
would be held.

Sinn Féin said the Taoiseach needed to hold a special
summit with Mr Blair to discuss exclusively the issue of


Pub Bombers 'Treated Better Than Victims' Families'

05/07/2006 - 18:46:42

Loyalist bombers who blew up a Dundalk pub in 1975 were
treated better than the families of the victims, it was
claimed today.

An Oireachtas Committee today published a report on the no-
warning blast at Kay’s Tavern which killed two men in their

Local tailor Hugh Watters, 60, and lorry driver Jack
Rooney, 62, who had dropped into the bar for a drink after
work, died after the car bomb detonated on Crowe Street.

Mr Watter’s daughter Margaret English told the launch of
today’s report in Leinster House that victims’ families
were neglected by the State for three decades.

No-one has been brought to justice for the atrocity which
also injured 20 locals.

Mrs English said: “I would like to say that the victims
were shown very little respect over the years.”

She added: “I think the bombers were treated better than we
were. “It is absolutely disgusting that citizens of the
state were treated in this way.”

Mrs English added that her family didn’t receive any co-
operation from local gardaí when they held an event at the
scene to mark the 30th anniversary of the atrocity in
December last year.

“It was held at 6.22pm, the time when Daddy died, but the
gardai wouldn’t even stop the traffic for us,” she said.

Mrs English also complained that the Oireachtas Committee
only informed victims’ families about the launch of the
200-page Interim Report yesterday.

Oireachtas Committee chairman Sean Ardagh extended his
sympathies to the families and acknowledged that they had
strong feelings on the issue.

But he assured them that they would get ample opportunity
to express their frustrations at parliamentary hearings on
the Interim Report in late September.

Committee member Finian McGrath said he and his colleagues
would do everything in their power to achieve truth and
justice for the families.

The Interim Report was based on the findings of Mr Justice
Henry Barron, who has also carried out investigations into
three other atrocities which involved allegations of
British security force collusion.

Justice Barron concluded that allegations of collusion were
impossible to prove because it couldn’t be established who
carried out the bombings.

But he added: “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.

“However there is no evidence that senior members of the
security forces were involved in any way in the bombing.”

Dublin barrister Paddy MacEntee is currently completing a
Commission of Investigation probe into the 1974
Dublin/Monaghan bombings.

A Sub-Committee featuring TDs Mr Ardagh, Mr McGrath, Maire
Hoctor, Kathleen Lynch and Sean O Fearghail and Senators
Maurice Cummins and Jim Walsh will hold the hearings on the
Kay’s Tavern atrocity.


Blanketmen In Sligo To Commemorate Death Of Joe McDonnell

Jul 06, 9:55 am

Two of the so-called H Block blanketmen were in Sligo last
night as part of the 25th anniversary commemoration of the
hunger strikes.

Jackie McMullen and Leo Green, who both took part in the
republican blanket protest at the Maze Prison in the
1980's, were the guest speakers at an exhibition organised
by the local Sinn Fein party.

The exhibition was set up in connection with the 25th
anniversary of the death of hunger striker, Joe McDonnell,
who stood as a general election candidate in Sligo-Leitrim
in 1981.

Dermot McNally, who now lives in Sligo, was in the Maze
Prison at the time of the hunger strikes, and says the
exhibition brought a lot of memories back for him.


Irish Crusade

Embassy Row
By James Morrison
Published July 5, 2006

P.J. Bradley stumped the halls of Congress, dropping
off letters at offices in both the Senate and House, and
pleading the cause of thousands of illegal aliens from

"I am delivering messages to the tables of America's
top politicians to ask them for support for undocumented
Irish," said Mr. Bradley, who represented the Social
Democratic and Labor Party of Northern Ireland.

The Irish illegals problem pales in comparison with the
Mexican one, but Mr. Bradley is as passionate as any
Hispanic politician arguing for amnesty.

Mr. Bradley said he spent last week "at full throttle"
on the Hill, where he said he is picking up support from
lawmakers such as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts
Democrat, and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

"We are urging them for a pathway to legality and an
opportunity for the undocumented Irish to receive green
cards and be allowed to continue to live and work in the
United States," Mr. Bradley said.

He said he understands the complexity of the U.S.
debate over illegal aliens and insists his campaign is
designed "not to threaten the safety of the American
nation, nor is it to undermine immigration laws."

"The Irish-American community is an integral part of
American society, and I am urging members of Congress to
recognize this," Mr. Bradley said.

"Thousands of families across the island of Ireland,
and indeed many from the north, have loved ones who have
left Ireland and have set up home in America. ... America
has been good to the Irish for very many years.

"It has become a second home to many Irish people. We
want to see that bond between the two nations continue."

Fighting poverty

Rich nations must balance the need for security with
their duty to help the poor in undeveloped countries, a
British official said, as he urged a Washington think tank
to consider the victories in the global war on poverty.

Hilary Benn, secretary of state for international
development, noted that worldwide life expectancy increased
by 25 percent and illiteracy fell by half in the past 40

"Our growing interdependence as a world means that we
are increasingly affected by what happens in other
countries, including conflict, terrorism and religious
extremism," he told the Center for Strategic and
International Studies last week.

"We are all concerned to ensure our security, but we
cannot cut ourselves off. We have a global responsibility
and also a duty to use our influence responsibly and with
understanding of how others see us. It is not an easy

Mr. Benn called for debt relief to prevent indebted
nations from making "that awful choice between pay the debt
or paying the doctors and nurses who will save people's

"Providing education, clean water and health care for
all the world's children and defeating AIDS is the great
moral and practical challenge of our generation," he said.

Saudi justice

Saudi Ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal wants Saudi
prisoners held by U.S. authorities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
returned to the desert kingdom to face trial.

"If there are any crimes that they have committed, they
will be tried in Saudi courts and face punishment for those
crimes," he said on a recent visit to Sweden, where he
attended a conference on globalization.

The Defense Department last week announced the pending
transfer of 14 Saudi detainees to the custody of the Saudi
government. Of about 450 terror suspects held at the U.S.
naval base in Cuba, about 100 are Saudis.

The nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch
fears the suspects might be worse off in Saudi Arabia,
where they are "unlikely to receive a fair trial and are at
risk of torture."

•Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or


Digging In

ILIR Girds For Longer Haul With Upbeat D.C. Rally

By Ray O'Hanlon

The campaign to secure legal lives for thousands of
undocumented Irish needed some craw-thumping encouragement.

And it was provided in abundance last Wednesday afternoon
in a Washington D.C. hotel by some of the nation's leading

The gathering, at the Holiday Inn on Capitol Hill, was a
rally organized by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

It followed a day of lobbying by ILIR members, many of them
undocumented, in the office buildings of the U.S. Senate
and House of Representatives.

It also followed the move by House Republicans to long
finger the process of reconciling the House immigration
bill with a Senate measure that would include a path to
legalization for the Irish and an estimated 11 million
illegals of other nationalities.

Four members of the House, Jim McGovern, Riche Neal,
Anthony Weiner and Joe Crowley, and three from the Senate,
Ted Kennedy, Sam Brownback and John McCain, turned up for
the rally in the hotel's main conference room.

Two additional rooms had to be set aside as the occupancy
limit for the main auditorium was a meager 250.

What the t-shirt clad campaigners heard over two hours was
a mixture of hard reality and what was still potentially
attainable down the road.

Senator Kennedy, a prime mover along with John McCain of
the bipartisan Senate bill, was certain of ultimate

"We're going to win. I didn't come to lose. I came to win.
What about you?" Kennedy told his audience to loud cheers
and clapping.

Kennedy accused anti-reform House members of following a
misguided pathway.

The reform issue defined what America was about, he said.

"I'm going to fight for reform," he loudly promised.

Responding to House Speaker Dennis Hastert's plan for
nationwide "field" committee hearings on the Senate bill,
Rep. Jim McGovern said that no such hearings were needed.

"We don't need more hearings but comprehensive immigration
reform," he said.

"We need to embrace what the Senate passed and get rid of
the garbage that the House passed," McGovern said.

"You are great people. We are lucky that you are here. You
deserve an immigration bill and we're going to fight until
you get one."

Rep. Anthony Weiner made the point that the U.S. could walk
and chew gum at the same time, by which he meant that the
nation's borders could be secured even as qualifying
undocumented immigrants working within those borders could
be processed along the road to legalization.

Immigration law needed to catch up with the times, argued
Weiner who leveled broadsides at GOP House members and
leading critics of the Senate bill Tom Tancredo and Peter

ILIR chairman, Niall O'Dowd, also criticized Rep. King.
Meetings with 87 legislators had been arranged in advance
of the morning's lobbying effort, he said. The only one who
hadn't turned up, he said, was Congressman King.

Rep. Richie Neal invoked President Bush who is supportive
of the kind of reform that would include a path to earned

"President Bush is right about this issue," the
Massachusetts congressman said.

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, a relative unknown to
Irish audiences, became an instant favorite when he held up
a t-shirt calling for legalization of the Irish.

Brownback came to the podium after a rousing rendition of
the "Fields of Athenry" and immediately explained how he
himself came from the fields of eastern Kansas.

"We all came here from somewhere. I want to encourage your
fight," said Brownback who urged all in the room to work
within the political system in part by using media outlets
such as talk radio and letters to editor pages.

"You've got to speak up. This country moves by public
opinion," he said.

Brownback, invoking the spirit of President Ronald Reagan,
described America as a special nation with a special
calling. If any walls were to be erected, he said, they
should include doors.

Secure borders were necessary, Brownback stressed. He
argued that amnesty for illegals contained in the 1986
reform bill had not worked on its own. Neither had
enforcement alone, which had been the basis of the 1996
immigration bill.

It was only comprehensive reform that would work, he said.

"Help us move this across the line," Brownback said to loud

Former New York Assemblyman John Dearie cautioned that the
reform campaign was more a marathon than sprint.

He said that instead of the normal conference negotiations
pitting two bills, "a phony insincere situation" had been
created by opponents of reform.

Dearie said that he had no recollection of "field" hearings
ever happening in place of a House/Senate conference.

"Our next step should be that whenever these phony baloney
hearings are held, we should be there," he said.

John McCain, already familiar to many in the room after his
appearance at an ILIR rally in the Bronx in April, was
warmed to his task by chants of "Olé Olé Olé."

"You represent the Irish but also people from all over the
world," McCain said.

The reason why America remained the most wonderful, most
bountiful nation in the world was because of the infusion
of fresh blood by way of immigration.

"You represent that," he said.

While there had been a backlash and while the immigration
debate had lately been dominated by anti-immigrant
rhetoric, McCain said he now saw the pendulum swinging back
to the center.

Prior to his address to the ILIR rally, McCain told the
Irish Times that he would consider a compromise proposal
that would delay the guest-worker program and the
legalization of undocumented immigrants until after
America's borders are made more secure.

But he would not countenance deporting 11 million people in
the meantime.

"Eleven million people can't be arrested," he told the

The reform effort, he said, was about the character and
nature of this nation.

"I'm proud to be in your company. Continue your efforts.
You are speaking eloquently for millions. God bless you and
keep up the fight," McCain concluded.

The meeting was also addressed by members of a multi-party
delegation of visiting Irish politicians from both sides of
the border.

The group was made up of Fianna Fáil's John Cregan and
Paschal Mooney, Simon Coveney, Michael Ring and Paul
Connaughton of Fine Gael, Sinn Féin's Seán Crowe and the
SDLP's P.J. Bradley.

Bradley brought with him messages of support from the
mayors of Belfast, Derry and Newry. A written message of
support from former Boston mayor and U.S. Ambassador to the
Vatican, Ray Flynn, was also distributed.

Flynn described current immigration law as "unfair and

Rep. Joe Crowley brought proceedings to a close by stating
that there was no question as to where he stood on the
reform issue.

"I'm immensely proud of your presence here today and what
you have done in the past few months. You're not just
speaking for yourselves but for millions of people and
you're making an impression on Congress," Crowley said.

"But the work is not yet completed. There's a long way to
go. You're on the side of right. Keep up the fight,"
Crowley urged his cheering, foot-sore audience.

This story appeared in the issue of July 5 - 11, 2006


Crossmaglen Uproar After PSNI Land U-Turn

THE COMMUNITY in Crossmaglen is up in arms after the PSNI's
decision to vest land instead of returning it to its owners
as had been previously agreed.

The land was claimed by the Army 25 years ago and was
expected to be returned to the original owners in October.

But they will now receive a fee in lieu of their land.

"This is totally unacceptable," said Newry and Armagh Sinn
Fein MP Conor Murphy.

"This is a community that had to endure the British Army
intruding on their lives and their homes, now there is an
attempt to stop their rightful property being returned."

According to Sinn Fein councillor Terry Hearty, the
landowners received letters last week notifying them that
they had a fortnight to consult with their solicitors over
the vesting.

"This is dirty tricks against the people of Crossmaglen by
the PSNI or whoever it is that is pulling the strings,"
said Mr Hearty. "People here are devastated and view it as

The vesting of the land is seen as a huge setback to the

"While people are welcoming change and new investment,
particularly in the Crossmaglen area, the stark reality is
that the PSNI want to retain this unsightly and redundant
monstrosity of a barracks," said Mr Hearty.

He suggested that the PSNI is keen to justify its presence
in Crossmaglen by suggesting the area is a lawless bandit

"This attempt to hold onto stolen land clearly shows that
this agenda is still their priority," said Mr Hearty.

The PSNI have a different take on events.

"We have a simple and straightforward objective," said
Newry and Mourne DCU commander Bobby Hunniford. "We want to
make the whole district a safer place for everyone and I
believe we are doing that."

Mr Hunniford said that the PSNI must have a physical
presence if they are to build on the confidence and support
of the public.

"Crossmaglen and Newtownhamilton police stations both
provide that," he said.

"Both stations have an important role to play in the
ongoing development of policing in the area."

Mr Hunniford said that in order to maintain this service
the Policing Board needs to secure some of the ground on
which both stations are built.

"Part of the grounds in both cases was originally
requisitioned under emergency legislation which expires at
the end of July," he said.

"If the owners are unwilling to sell, then vesting orders
will be required. This is about providing the people of the
whole of our south Armagh sector what they need and what, I
believe, they want - a normal, professional and effective
policing service."


UUP MP Voices Discomfort Over PUP Link-Up

05/07/2006 - 2:58:24 PM

Eyewitness claims that the Ulster Volunteer Force was
involved in extortion and other criminal activities were
today cited by Ulster Unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon as a
reason for her unease over her party’s decision to link up
with the Progressive Unionists in the Stormont Assembly.

The North Down MP, a member of the Northern Ireland Affairs
Committee which today launched in Armagh its report on
organised crime in the North, again expressed her
discomfort over the UUP’s decision to allow David Ervine,
the leader of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionists, into
the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group.

She said: “You have to understand this from a number of

“If you look at this from the perspective of me being
married to a former Chief Constable of the RUC, you can see
why I took the position when in September last year there
was vicious rioting on the back of the dispute over
marching in the Whiterock area of Belfast and live
ammunition was fired on police officers who could have died
or been injured.

“My view of the UVF was coloured by that.

“But from the perspective of someone who also sits on this
committee, we have been looking at considerable evidence
over the past six months of UVF involvement in a range of

“All of that has been swilling around over the past six
months and I could not simply wipe the slate clean knowing
what I know.

“The UVF we all know, is not on ceasefire, is a proscribed
terrorist organisation that is not involved in
decommissioning and is involved in crime.

“That is why I was most disappointed by Sir Reg Empey’s
decision to go and ally the UUP with the PUP in the
Assembly on May 15.”

Lady Hermon, the Ulster Unionists’ sole MP, has twice
publicly expressed her unhappiness at the party’s decision
to join forces with Mr Ervine’s party in the Assembly.

That unhappiness was exacerbated by the shooting of leading
loyalist Mark Haddock in Newtownabbey and speculation that
that was carried out by the UVF two weeks after the
decision to let Mr Ervine join the Ulster Unionist Assembly

The Ulster Unionists initially explained the Assembly move
on the grounds that it would ensure a majority of unionist
ministers in the next Stormont power-sharing government and
would result in their party picking up a ministry at the
expense of Sinn Féin.

However UUP leader Sir Reg Empey also explained that by
linking up with the PUP leader, he hoped that it would
persuade the Ulster Volunteer Force to end all paramilitary
and criminal activity, with progress in the autumn.

In today’s organised crime report by the Northern Ireland
Affairs Committee, MPs claim they had received evidence
that a five figure sum was paid to the UVF as well as a
six-figure sum to the Provisional IRA over the course of a
year by a construction firm in the North.

Lady Hermon dismissed claims from some of her critics that
she did not know what she was talking about because she was
perceived to represent a more affluent constituency.

“Don’t anybody try and patronise me that I live in the
leafy suburbs in Northern Ireland and don’t know what I am
talking about,” the North Down MP said.

“We had the experience of the rioting last September around
Whiterock - rioting which was not confined to that part of
Belfast but which also spilled over into my constituency
and other constituencies.”


Whiterock Riots: Army Cleared On Baton Round Use

By Michael McHugh
06 July 2006

The Army's use of baton rounds and live fire during last
year's Whiterock parade disturbances was justified and
proportionate, it was ruled last night.

Independent assessor of military complaints Jim McDonald
cleared soldiers of recklessly discharging live rounds and
non-lethal rounds, known as Attenuated Energy Projectiles
(AEPs), during some of the worst street rioting seen in

The trouble flared following the rerouted September 10
Orange Order parade.

Soldiers and police officers were attacked with petrol
bombs and blast bombs, as well as live bullets during the
rioting which saw 63 people arrested and 60 police officers
and one soldier injured.

The total policing bill was estimated at £3m.

Soldiers fired five live rounds and 140 AEPs during three
days of trouble in Belfast. Rathcoole, the Shankill Road
and Broadway were the areas affected.

Mr McDonald's report said: "In my judgment the response
from the military was proportionate.

"The 140 AEP's that they fired were used within the current
guidelines; albeit that in those most dangerous engagements
(with military gunners specifically targeted by blast
bombs, live rounds, petrol bombs and bricks), the gunners'
aim at moving, ducking and weaving targets was often less
than perfect - though certainly not reckless or inept.

"I am also satisfied that the thorough and realistic
training gives the confidence and composure to soldiers
which is necessary when facing extreme violence."

The trouble was linked to loyalist deprivation by some
unionist politicians as well as to frustration at the re-
routing decision. Police said it was clearly orchestrated
and pre-planned.

The assessor made a series of recommendations to improve

? The number of "high hits" (ie. those in the chest area)
as reported by the military gunners, needs to be examined.

? The whole area of training, in the prospective absence of
the Royal Irish Regiment and their expertise in dealing
with public order tactics, should be addressed.

? The presence of children in public order situations
should be re-emphasised in training.

? The enhanced post-firing report form (with its improved
guidance) should be completed as quickly as possible,
including the role played by the Royal Military Police.

This year's parade, held on June 24, passed off peacefully
after the Parades Commission allowed one lodge onto the
nationalist Springfield Road with the main parade re-routed
via a former factory site.

About 100 nationalists, including Sinn Fein Assembly member
Fra McCann and councillor Tom Hartley, staged a peaceful
protest as the Orangemen passed.


Sinn Fein Has 'Made It Easy For Criminals'

By Jonathan McCambrigde
06 July 2006

Sinn Fein was last night accused of "ducking policing" and
making it easier for organised crime to suck millions of
pounds out of the Ulster economy.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee yesterday published
its report on Organised Crime which said the refusal of
Sinn Fein to support the PSNI was allowing criminality to

But Sinn Fein responded last night by claiming the
committee was neither independent nor credible.

SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell, who sits on the committee,
said: "Sinn Fein has to act. For so long as they duck
policing, they help let IRA men involved in crime get away
with it - at everybody else's expense.

"So Sinn Fein has a choice - either they are for a lawful
society - or they are for allowing their associates get
away with crime. It's as simple as that."

Committee member Sammy Wilson of the DUP said the report
contradicted claims "the IRA is no longer involved in

But Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy
responded: "Given the make up and operation of this body
nationalists and republicans will place little credibility
on anything said in today's report."


Rasharkin Riots 'A Disgrace'

POLICE and community officials have slammed a gang who set
alight materials gathered for the Eleventh Night bonfire.

The outcry comes after the local Fire Service were attacked
and bombarded with stones whilst attending the fire at
Belmont Park in Rasharkin.

And an 84-year-old woman was also left petrified after her
window was smashed during the riot at the weekend.

In a statement to the Times, the Mayor of Ballymoney, Cllr
John Finlay said: "As an elected representative of the Bann
Valley constituency I would like to condemn without
reservation the activities of Republican thugs in Rasharkin
on Saturday night.

"In their unquenchable thirst to drive all of the
Protestants out of Rasharkin, a group of mindless sectarian
wreckers set alight the materials gathered for the annual
Eleventh Night bonfire.

"Not only was this foolhardy and provocative but when the
fire brigade was summoned to deal with the nefarious work
of the Republican arsonists, the brigade was attacked and
stoned by those who had lit the materials.

"Such was the level of danger in Rasharkin that the PSNI
had to maintain a presence until 5am on Sunday morning.

"In the aftermath of the night's violence, fences to the
rear of a number of houses were found to be scorch damaged
and a pensioner's window was smashed.

"I believe that the victim is an elderly Roman Catholic, a
fact that only underlines the state of minds of the

"I think it is clearly apparent that Republicans in
Rasharkin are determined to drive every Protestant in the
village out of the area. They are doing so without
condemnation from Sinn Fein.

"Until the last Protestant leaves the village, Republicans
seem determined to persecute that community and eradicate
every part of the Protestant culture.

"I would call upon the PSNI to act with urgency to protect
the rights of Protestants in Rasharkin. I would also ask
the PSNI to protect the homes and lives of all the people
in the village from the so-called thugs who are terrorising
an entire community."

A police spokesperson confirmed the attack adding: "The 84-
year-old woman who resides alone was left seriously
traumatised by the whole incident. I don't believe she was
singled out but was the victim of a stray stone.

"However with regards to the attack on the Fire Service,
that can never be justified and is a total and utter

"The fire officers were simply there to do a job and keep
the local community safe and this gang tried to prevent

"I would therefore like to call on all the elected
representatives and MLAs to come forward and ensure that
such an atrocious incident does not happen again."

06 July 2006


Sinn Fein Leader Mediates Between LTTE, Lanka

Indo-Asian News Service
London, July 6, 2006

Martin McGuinness, the most visible face of Sinn Fein in
Northern Ireland after president Gerry Adams, has met
leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in
Sri Lanka and urged them to embark on the path to peace.

McGuinness this week flew in a military helicopter over the
jungles of Sri Lanka into LTTE-controlled territory and
sought to persuade the rebels to return to the negotiating

He said he was in Sri Lanka to try to persuade both sides
to return to negotiations that collapsed earlier this year.

"I was able to share with the Tamil leadership the
experiences of the Irish peace process," he said in a
statement issued by Sinn Fein in Belfast.

"My core message was that both sides need to act decisively
to prevent the downward spiral into all-out conflict. The
reality is that, just as in Ireland, there can be no
military victory and that the only alternative to endless
conflict is dialogue, negotiations and accommodation," he

Reports say that McGuinness and Sinn Fein appear to be
taking an interest in conflict resolution around the world.

His peace mission to Sri Lanka comes after a similar visit
to meet Basque separatist leaders in Spain in June.

This was the second visit to Sri Lanka this year by
McGuinness. During his January trip, he was not able to
travel to the northern areas to meet representatives of the
LTTE, but held talks with the president.

McGuinness, who is also Sinn Fein's chief negotiator, said
he urged the LTTE leadership to re-engage in the stalled
negotiations and pointed out the need to build a credible
peace process as an alternative to the escalating conflict.

He said he asked the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil
Tigers to take "decisive initiatives to build the peace


Opin: Moving The Goal Posts In Northern Ireland

Thursday, July 06, 2006

When is a deadline not a deadline?

When it has been imposed on the political parties in
Northern Ireland, where deadlines have been treated as the
merest trifle, worthy mostly of being ignored.

It has been more than eight years since the so-called Good
Friday agreement was ratified in the North. The accord
established the framework for a power-sharing government
that was to bring an end to more than three decades of
sectarian violence in the province. But the government
sputtered, stalled and was finally suspended. Deadline
after deadline for resuming the power-sharing government
was imposed and ignored. Still more deadlines were
established, only to be extended - and missed.

Now British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish
counterpart, Bertie Ahern, are imploring the parties to see
the most recent deadline - Set for late November - as the
real McCoy. And they may even mean it.

Protestant unionists, led by firebrand preacher Ian
Paisley, have been giving little indication of late that
they actually want to attempt to govern in the Northern
counties with their Catholic counterparts, who desire
closer ties with the Republic to the south. Paisley has
moved the goal posts so many times that he has essentially
moved to another playing field entirely.

He initially said that he could not govern with Sinn Fein,
the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, unless the
IRA rid itself of its massive cache of weapons. When the
paramilitary group promised to do just that, Paisley said
that words were not enough. But then the IRA dumped its
weapons - a move that was confirmed by outside observers -
and Paisley again balked.

One inflexible individual should not be able to single-
handedly derail the entire peace process. If Paisley is
going to be intractable, it is up to other more moderate
Protestants to move to the fore.

No thinking person, no matter his politics, could hope to
see a return to the violence of decades past. But that
would be a real possibility if the coalition government
were to collapse irreparably.

The people who live in Northern Ireland have had a glimpse
of peace. That vision should be a building block, but it is
in grave danger of becoming just a memory.


Opin: Fresh Eyes Revisit Battle Of The Somme

The Thhursday Column
By Jim Gibney

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising and
the Battle of the Somme, two hugely significant events in
our history.

The 1916 Rising was an attempt to establish an Irish
national democracy. The Battle of the Somme was one of the
major battles of the First World War.

The First World War was an imperialist conflagration which
claimed the lives of more than five million soldiers with
23 million casualties. The scale of the human loss is
incomprehensible. It was a pointless and futile war.

Many caught up in it were poor hapless individuals. The war
claimed some 35,000 Irish soldiers – lost in a vast,
impersonal killing machine, oiled by the delusions of
squabbling monarchs and generals.

The Somme battle began on July 1 and ended on November 18
1916. Just under one million men died in “hell’s trenches”
as one German soldier described it in a letter home. An
average of 5,000 men died every day for five months.

For Ireland the Somme death toll was cataclysmic. Over the
first two days of the battle the 36th (Ulster) Division
suffered 5,500 dead and wounded. Over a six-day period in
September of the same year the 16th (Irish) Division
suffered 4,300 dead and wounded.

Last Saturday the Irish government held a commemoration at
Islandbridge in Dublin in memory of the war dead and in the
chamber of Belfast City Hall a minute’s silence was
observed. Sinn Fein attended both ceremonies.

On the surface such a gesture from Sinn Fein might not be
considered significant but it is. It has taken republicans
almost 90 years to revisit the Somme with a fresh eye.

Some years ago they took their first tentative steps when
Sinn Fein’s ard chomairle sent Belfast Sinn Fein councillor
Tom Hartley to a ceremony at Islandbridge, a British war

Councillor Hartley was an appropriate representative. He
has long argued for republicans to openly engage with all
the strands of Irish history not just those they are
comfortable with.

In a speech earlier this year about the Somme he said:
“Irish society has many layers of history, some of which
correspond to my political views and some of which conflict
with my political views. But I also recognise that the
history of our society is my history; therefore I wish to
engage with and take ownership of its breadth and

Tom’s visit to Islandbridge was followed by Alex Maskey, as
lord mayor of Belfast, laying a laurel wreath at Belfast’s
cenotaph on the anniversary of the Somme in 2002.

In a speech prior to the event Alex referred to the
importance of memory in people’s lives. He said: “History,
memory and associated rituals are important psychological
anchors in the cycle of one’s own life. The same can be
said in relation to the life of a nation. History helps to
define us as a people. And it is people by their actions
who make history.”

Since then Sinn Fein has participated in First World War
civic commemorations organised by local councils.

It is not easy for republicans and nationalists to open
their minds to the First World War.

It was after all a British-sponsored war at a time when all
of Ireland was occupied and that occupation in part
continues today.

Unionists used the Somme sacrifice as a badge of loyalty to
their new state and still do. Wrapping their ceremonies in
the union flag and British military regalia, intentionally
or otherwise, diminishes the memory of nationalists who
fought and died there.

But there is distance, in time, and new politics from the
peace process is creating new thinking.

New thinking which should also extend to unionists and
their attitude, thus far hostile, to the Easter Rising and
the volunteers who fought and died in it.

We now have a context in which republicans and nationalists
can look afresh at the First World War and in particular
the Battle of the Somme.

The enormity of the loss of the lives of Irishmen alone
demands it.

It would indeed be ironic if a war as devastating and
divisive as the First World War now brought together
nationalists and unionists to commemorate Irishmen who lost
their lives 90 years ago.

Ironic but not impossible.


Opin: West Versus The Rest Over ‘Bigotfest’ Event

By Newton Emerson

It is telling that Sinn Fein invoked the West Belfast
Festival in response to the NIO’s decision to fund the
Orange Order.

Assembly member Michael Ferguson said there was “disbelief”
in Belfast “given that the British government had denied
funding for the feile”.

Assembly member John O’Dowd compared the Orange “bigotfest”
to the “successful inclusive community festivals in north
and west Belfast”.

Even eminently sensible councillor Paul Maskey was wheeled
in front of the cameras for some predictable outrage on the
subject – although his heart clearly wasn’t in it.

But was it wise to equate the two events so publicly? For a
start, the West Belfast Festival will continue to receive
more funding than ‘Bigotfest’ for at least the next three
years, on top of the far larger sums of public money
invested in it to date.

Feile has been running since 1988 and has a turnover of
£500,000. Its big-name sponsors include several companies
that previously backed other Belfast festivals, which must
now struggle by without an inextricably linked political
party to argue their case.

So the question is not why the West Belfast Festival
doesn’t get more money but why it still gets any public
money at all. However, there is no question over why the
British government supported feile so generously in the
first place. The West Belfast Festival was launched in the
wake of the Gibraltar and Milltown cemetery killings with
the wider aim of replacing the August internment protests.
In this regard it has been a tremendous success.

What was once an annual orgy of

youth-driven street violence has become an annual Christy
Moore concert complete with sixth-form debate at St
Louise’s, sixth-rate exhibitions at the Conway Mill and a
poignant closing ceremony at An Culturlann, where Frances
Black serenades Gerry Adams with ‘Something Inside So
Strong’ while an audience of distinguished guests politely
refrains from laughter.

So who are the Shinners to say that the same trick won’t
work on the July fortnight? Indeed, aren’t the Shinners the
very last people who should be saying that the same trick
won’t work on the July fortnight? When Orange Order
spokesman William Humphrey claims the Twelfth is “an event
that can be enjoyed by the whole community” this is
obviously self-serving nonsense – but it was equally self-
serving nonsense when exactly the same thing was said in
the first years of feile.

Even today the West Belfast Festival is hardly a
comfortable cross-community event – some aspects seem
determined to prove Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich’s dictum that
all the religious bigotry in Ireland is Protestant and all
the political bigotry is Catholic. But that is besides the

The West Belfast Festival is a lightening rod that collects
negative energy and dissipates it harmlessly into the
ground – leaving only positive energy behind.

Demanding that the negative energy should not exist in the
first place would be optimistic to the point of

It is obvious that something similar needs to be done to
neutralise the Orange Order. A common unionist complaint is
that the institution would have simply died out due to lack
of interest if only Sinn Fein had let the issue lie for
another 10 years.

Whether or not this is true, it is too late to ignore the
problem now.

Many unionists would be perfectly happy with an aggressive
law and order solution to contentious parades.

However, the authorities have made it clear that they don’t
support aggressive law and order solutions to anything,
while republicans can’t even call for a security response
to loyalism without tripping over their own ideological

So that just leaves the slow, pragmatic and initially
dishonest approach taken with all other protagonists to our

The Orange Order must be lured into the phoney political
posturing of culture, heritage, rights, equality,
ethnicity, identity and inclusivity – until the self-
serving nonsense serves it well enough to drop the loyalist
flute bands, reroute the unwanted marches, recognise the
Parades Commission and talk to the residents groups. In its
pathetic bleat of “civil and religious liberty for all” can
be seen an early sign that this might even work.

There is certainly no better idea available, not least from
the republicans who pioneered this very approach to their
own community’s problems.

What Sinn Fein’s representatives should have said last week
when they were wheeled in front of the cameras was that
they welcomed the NIO’s “republican-inspired strategy”
towards tackling Orange violence – and looked forward to
the first Orange parade at the West Belfast Festival.


Somme Exhibition Opens In Kilkeel

AN EXHIBITION marking the 90th anniversary of the Battle of
the Somme opened in Kilkeel on Saturday.

Over 200,000 people from both sides of the border fought in
the First World War battle for the British Army against the
German forces. A total of 45,000 of them were killed in the

The exhibition was organised by the Ulster Scots Agency and
featured a mural marking the occasion.

"It is good that someone took the initiative to organise
this event," said UUP councillor Henry Reilly, who attended
the exhibition.

"This is a traumatic event that had a strong impact on
local people especially those from the loyalist community."

South Down MLA Jim Wells took part in the official Irish
commemoration in Dublin, which also took place on Saturday.

"It was extremely well organised and given the context they
(the Irish Government), went as far as they could," he

"It was just a pity that everybody who fought in the battle
from either side of the border is now dead, which meant no
survivors were able to attend the commemoration."


Ulster House Prices Up By 25%

Property boom outstrips UK

By Victoria O'Hara and Lisa Smyth
06 July 2006

Northern Ireland's house price boom is continuing with a
25% rise in the past year, new figures confirmed today.

The price of a typical property in Northern Ireland is now
£146,367 - almost £30,000 more expensive than this time
last year.

This translates to an increase in value of just over £80
per day. In contrast, the average price of a UK property
increased by just over £7,500 - a rise of only £21 per day.

The new figures - from the Nationwide Building Society -
confirm predictions that the Northern Ireland market has
hotted up again.

Belfast continues to be the most expensive place to buy a
house in Northern Ireland, with the average property
costing £193,180, almost 20% higher than the average for
the Province.

Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's group economist, said:
"Northern Ireland's housing market is booming. House prices
increased by 24.9% in the last 12 months."

She continued: "While prices in Belfast have increased more
quickly than anywhere else in Northern Ireland over the
last 10 years, the rate of growth has slowed more

According to the new figures, Londonderry saw the fastest
growth, at 31%.

Ms Earley added: "Other parts of Northern Ireland have also
seen house price growth accelerate. In the north east,
including the local authorities of Antrim, Ballymena,
Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey, prices increased by 23% in
the last year, up from an annual rate of growth of 10% this
time last year and 15% in quarter one of 2006."

Other statistics last night also confirmed the extent of
the upward swing. According to the Council of Mortgage
Lenders, average house prices in the province have more
than trebled in the last ten years from £42,619 in 1995 to
£153,457 in the first quarter of 2006.

And, although it's good news for homeowners, those hoping
to get a foot on the property ladder will be disappointed
at predictions that the market is expected to remain

Between 2000 and 2005, there was a 24% decline in the
number of first-time buyers in Northern Ireland, compared
to just 7% in the UK as a whole.

Jeff Raines, owner of east Belfast-based Jeff Raines & Co,
said a major contributing factor to the prosperous property
market in Northern Ireland was down to a less volatile
political situation in the Province.

"We were always undervalued compared to the rest of the UK
and Ireland, but the peace process kick-started the whole
thing. Confidence has grown and prices have reflected
that," explained Mr Raines.

According to local estate agents, the increased house
prices can also be put down to a lack of availability
compared to demand.


Northern Ireland To Allow Gay Partners To Adopt

By Hilary White

BELFAST, July 5, 2006 ( – The government
of Northern Ireland on Tuesday announced plans to include
homosexual partners as eligibile to adopt.

Health Minister Paul Goggins says the change will mean that
those in “civil unions” and those who are only in temporary
arrangements of the same or different sexes would be able
to adopt.

Under the current law unmarried persons can adopt children,
but there was no provision for homosexual partners to adopt

This decision will bring Northern Ireland into line with
the rest of Great Britain, which has adopted similar
measures over the last year.

The Belfast Telegraph quoted Fr. Aidan Troy, a well-known
Catholic priest from Ardoyne who supported the move,
despite what he called his support for the traditional
family. “You have to start from the point of view of what
is best for the child,” he said. “We need to ask can a
child grow and flourish in this set of circumstances. Then
we are able to look at this in relation to adoption.”

A more robust Christian response was forthcoming from Rev
David McIlveen, of the Free Presbyterian Church, who said
changes in the law to allow gay and lesbian couples to
adopt would be “not only reprehensible but repulsive”.

“The government is trying to promote this as modernisation
of the laws but it is liberalisation. It will undermine the
structure of family life in Northern Ireland.”

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