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

July 24, 2006

O'Loan's Son Tells of Attack Ordeal

News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 07/24/06 O’Loan’s Son Tells Of Attack Ordeal
IN 07/24/06 ‘They Knew I Was A Catholic: I Was An Appropriate Target’
IN 07/24/06 Attacks On Church And Orange Hall Condemned
SF 07/24/06 Call For Unionist Leadership Following Sectarian Attacks
IN 07/24/06 Parties Hit Out At Sectarian Attack
NH 07/24/06 South Derry IRA Breaks From Leadership
DI 07/24/06 SF Slams McDowell As ‘Arrogant Thatcherite’
BT 07/24/06 Attwood Hits Out At Secrecy Over Cost Of MI5 Holywood Base
UT 07/24/06 SF Delegation Inspect Dublin Jail
SL 07/23/06 DNA From Suspect's Dog May Hold Key To Devlin’s Killing
SL 07/23/06 UDA Tension Rising After Cop Search
BT 07/24/06 McCord Killing Breakthrough Claimed
SL 07/23/06 Whistleblower Won't Meet O'Loan
SL 07/23/06 Failure To Probe Abduction Of Informer Shot By Provos
SL 07/23/06 Killer Stone Asked To Help Mo Drama
UT 07/24/06 'One In Five PSNI Officers Catholic'
IT 07/24/06 Policing Board Refuses To Vet Community Justice Scheme
DI 07/21/06 Opin: No Room At The Inn For Film Tourists
IN 07/24/06 Opin: Paisley Still Trading On Fears Of Gullible People
IN 07/24/06 Opin: History Provides Answer To Burning Question
IN 07/24/06 Opin: There’ll Be No Pushing Paisley Into Deadline
IN 07/24/06 Opin: UDA Plan For Ceasefire Is An Audacious One
IN 07/24/06 Opin: CRJ Typifies Inequality For The North’s Citizens
IN 07/24/06 Opin: Proof That People Do Need Alternatives
IN 07/24/06 Opin: Guessing Game Over Alternative Strategy
DI 07/21/06 Opin: Ex-Noraid Boss Still Gloomy On Peace Process
IN 07/24/06 Tributes To Former RTE Broadcaster
NY 07/24/06 Thomas J. Manton, 73, Influential Queens Democrat, Dies
DA 07/24/06 Last Molly Maguire Hanged Said He Wasn't The Killer
DI 07/21/06 Government Folds On Plans To Ban Casinos
IT 07/24/06 New Era Of Random Breath Testing Arrives
IT 07/24/06 Crew Of 'Asgard II' Sails To Success In Tall Ships Race


O’Loan’s Son Tells Of Attack Ordeal

By Sharon O’Neill Chief Reporter

A son of Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan has spoken for the
first time about a suspected sectarian attack which he
fears may have left him with permanent damage to his brain.

Damian O’Loan also said he wanted to publicly thank a taxi
driver who rescued him as he lay unconscious on a north
Belfast street.

The 23-year-old was attacked in the Oldpark area in the
early hours of Monday June 11 as he walked alone to his
Ardoyne home after a night out with friends in the city

He said he tried to reason with the four-strong gang and
innocently told them where he lived.

“Presumably that was all they needed to hear... They knew I
was Catholic,” he said.

Mr O’Loan was knocked unconscious with a blow to the back
of the head with a metal bar, before being set upon by the

It is estimated he was hit at least eight times, with his
wounds including serious head injuries, a broken arm and
damage to his leg.

A passing taxi-driver raised the alarm and drove him to

“He potentially saved my life. He didn’t even know what had
happened,” Mr O’Loan said.

The victim was surrounded by family – including his mother
and his father Declan, an SDLP councillor in Ballymena –
when he woke up 24 hours later.

“There was one point when [doctors] were a wee bit worried
so they got everybody on stand-by for resuscitation,” he

Almost six weeks later Mr O’Loan is making good progress
but has been left emotionally and physically scarred by his

“I have a lot of bruising on the brain. I was getting
splitting headaches and stuff. It has died down a wee bit,”
he said.

“I will probably have permanent scarring. I have tissue
that won’t heal...

“Lasting brain damage, I am a bit worried about that.

“I suppose in a way it is the same as physio where you have
got to go through some sort of treatment to try to heal it
a bit before you can work out what the lasting damage is.

“I still get loads of dizzy spells, then forgetful.
Everything does feel a bit different. I have got a CT scan
at the end of the month.”

Despite the brutal attack, Mr O’Loan said he planned to
stay in north Belfast.

“Honestly, I think this could happen to you in south
Belfast, east Belfast or west Belfast,” he said.

“So many people here just want to get on with their own
lives, not have to deal with all these issues day in and
day out.”

Last night police said a sectarian motive for the attack
had not been ruled out.


‘They Knew I Was A Catholic: I Was An Appropriate Target’

By Sharon O’Neill

Almost six weeks after a son of Police Ombudsman Nuala
O’Loan was viciously attacked at a north Belfast interface,
the young victim speaks to chief reporter Sharon O’Neill

Lasting brain damage – I am a bit worried about that,” says
Damian O’Loan as he nurses a cup of coffee.

The 23-year-old is back at his flat in Ardoyne, north
Belfast, still sore from a physio session hours earlier.

Not many would return to an area where sectarian thugs
stalk interface street corners before splitting up to trap
their victims.

But Damian has and despite constant protestations from his
mother, Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan and his father, SDLP
politician Declan O’Loan, he is staying for now.

An apartment with a superb view swayed the move to Ardoyne
two and a half months ago.

His mother made inquiries from people in the area about how
safe it was and Damian decided to move in.

Although his family live in Ballymena, Co Antrim, Damian
was well-used to city life after four years at Edinburgh
University where he studied French and philosophy.

Still undecided about a firm career, he works at a Belfast
city centre restaurant to keep him ticking over.

He gets on well with his colleagues and on Sunday June 11
they all went out for a night on the town – Saturday being
out of the equation due to work.

Despite it being the end of the weekend they managed to
find places open and stayed out until 3am.

“I couldn’t get a taxi home, so I walked,” Damian said.

His flat is easier to get to from the Crumlin Road but
gates closed off his normal route.

Not wanting to risk walking the longer way home, he opted
to go up Oldpark Road.

Either route was dangerous – the annual air of tension at
the flashpoint area in the run-up to the Twelfth was

At around 3am Damian was in loyalist Hillview Court, just
minutes away from the Catholic Ardoyne area.

But he had been spotted by a four-strong gang wielding
metal bars.

Two walked straight at him, the others came from behind.

“I knew exactly what they were going to do. I didn’t think
how serious it could get,” he recalled.

“I had no idea who they were. They just looked like hoods.
They didn’t speak.”

Damian tried to plead with his attackers, and as he did so
gave a clear indication of his religion.

“I said to them ‘I just live here, I am just going home
now. I live in the Ardoyne,’” he said.

“Presumably that was all they needed to hear.

“One of them behind me hit me first, on the head, knocked
me out. I was unconscious for the rest of it.

“I don’t think it went on longer than two or three

A taxi driver came to the unconscious victim’s aid.

“He potentially saved my life. He didn’t even know what had
happened,” he said.

“He was under no obligation to pick me up at all. It was
the height of generosity. I couldn’t be more grateful.

“We tried to get in contact with him. I really want to
thank him.”

The cabbie rushed Damian to hospital.

“There was one point when they were a wee bit worried, so
they got everybody on stand-by for resuscitation.

“I came round 24 hours after it happened. My mum was
waiting for me.

“I asked where I was. She didn’t say what had happened to
me, just told me where I was, that I was OK.

“I couldn’t move my leg, couldn’t move my arm. I can’t
remember much.

“I know about the [blows] that left the injuries – about
seven or eight. They broke my arm, moved the kneecap out of
its base, they tore all the muscles and ligaments in my
leg. It was pretty brutal.”

After three days in hospital, Damian says he was confined
to bed at home, where he was “ill for pretty much two

“I have a lot of bruising on the brain.

“I was getting splitting headaches and stuff. It has died
down a wee bit,” he said.

“I will probably have permanent scarring. I have tissue
that won’t heal.

“My broken arm seems to be slotting back into place, all my
ligaments and muscles will heal.”

But it is the head injuries he suffered that worry him

“I suppose in a way it is the same as physio, where you
have got to go through some sort of treatment to try and
heal it a bit before you can work out what the lasting
damage is,” he said.

“I still get loads of dizzy spells, then forgetful.
Everything does feel a bit different. I have got a CT scan
at the end of the month.”

Asked if the attack has in any way taught him a lesson, he
says: “I knew I should be more careful anyway.

“It did not teach me anything about north Belfast I didn’t
know before.

“To be fair other people are more careful than I was.

“Most [taxi drivers] are too scared to drive up here – it
leaves people stuck in the city centre with a problem.”

However, Damian was reluctant to describe the assault as

“I wouldn’t credit them with that much intelligence or any
kind of political motivation,” he said.

“They knew I was Catholic. Given they knew that – and what
they did – I was an appropriate target.

“I am pretty fortunate. I don’t feel intimidated by the
people who did it.”

However, he added: “I am more pessimistic generally about
people since and more edgy. I check whether the door is
locked in here – I never used to think about that.”

Not surprisingly, he has nightmares.

“I’ve got a massive memory block,” he said.

“I remember a tiny bit – it is not a graphic representation
of what happened at all but associated things [in
flashbacks] like running away, trying to hide.

“After something like that your body shuts down and you
suppress stuff.”

Asked if his mother had told him he was foolish to walk
home at that time, he said: “No but I am sure she thought
it. She would often ask me if I would leave this flat and
get one somewhere else. She tries to convince me.

“But I have no plans to. Honestly, I think this could
happen to you in south Belfast, east Belfast or west

“I am not prepared to go out and try to change my whole
lifestyle and try to avoid [being attacked].

“So many people here just want to get on with their lives,
not have to deal with all these issues day in and day out.

“I understand a lot of people would be immune to hearing
[about such attacks].

“You don’t pay much attention to the Iraq war and stuff
because you hear it on the news again and again and I am
sure that is what is going on here.”

And Damian said he was not confident that the police would
be able to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong in their methodology
in going out catching them but I don’t think they will be
caught,” he said.


Attacks On Church And Orange Hall Condemned

By Staff Reporter

Attacks on a Catholic church and an Orange hall at the
weekend were last night described as shameful.

The church which was attacked is in Bushmills, Co Antrim. A
passing police patrol discovered that a tar-like substance
had been thrown over the front of the building on
Priestland Road at around 4am on Saturday .

The incident happened days after the sacristy area of the
Church of the Immaculate Conception in Ballycastle was
extensively damaged in an arson attack.

In a separate weekend attack, an Orange hall outside Lurgan
was damaged by vandals. A window was smashed and graffiti
painted on the outside of the building on Derrytrasna Road
at about 4am yesterday. Three men were arrested at the

A senior Orangeman, who uses the hall but who did not want
to be named, said paint had been used to daub republican

“The paint was taken from the adjoining house which is used
to store the arch. There were the usual things like IRA and
Eire written on the wall,” he said.

He said arsonists had att-empted to set fire to the hall in
a previous attack, leading to security measures being

The hall is used as a community centre and hosts two Orange
lodges and the oldest Royal Black Institution preceptory in

“No-one has the right to vandalise or destroy property in
this way,” SDLP asssembly member for Upper Bann Dolores
Kelly said.

“Over the last number of weeks we have seen attacks on
Catholic churches and Or-ange halls across the north and
they must stop now.

“Both communities have had enough of the few thugs on both
sides who are causing this destruction. Community and
political leaders of both traditions must show their
influence and denounce such attacks.”

DUP MP David Simpson said he was disappointed at the attack
in his constituency.

The SDLP’s Sean Farren described the church vandalism as


Kelly Calls For Unionist Leadership Following Sectarian Attacks

Published: 24 July, 2006

Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly has appealed
for unionist representatives to show leadership in their
communities after a sectarian mob attacked cars and homes
in Whitewell Road and Catherine's Court last night.

Local residents were alerted at approximately 11.30pm last
night when a crowd of up to 40 men entered the area and
smashed windows and damaged cars.

Mr Kelly said:

"I would appeal for calm in the Whitewell area at this
point in time. This was a planned and orchestrated attack
on vulnerable nationalist properties and vehicles. The
residents in this area pose no threat to their neighbours,
however are forced to endure attacks of this nature all
year round.

"Sinn Féin has worked tirelessly across North Belfast, and
in Whitewell in particular to ensure a peaceful summer,
however we are not witnessing the same level of commitment
by Unionist politicians. I am therefore calling for
representatives of the DUP and UUP in the area to show some
positive leadership in bringing this type of attack to an

"North Belfast also has a number of interface workers at
present tasked with dealing with this type of situation and
I would call on them all to work together constructively to
ensure the safety of all residents in the area." ENDS


Parties Hit Out At Sectarian Attack

By Staff Reporter

Sinn FEIN has condemned an attack in which several cars
were damaged in the mainly Protestant Blacks Road area of
west Belfast on Saturday morning.

Police said a crowd of youths damaged cars and windows were

Two men were arrested and later released on police bail.

A resident said it had been a terrifying experience.

“They were armed to the teeth with bats, golf clubs, bricks
and they smashed cars up,” she said.

“They stood about just waiting to see if they could incite
anyone to come out and nobody did come out.

“This is a very small community. There’s only 10 streets
and the majority of the people that live here are young
children and elderly people – we’re no threat to anyone.”

Michael Ferguson, Sinn Fein assembly member for the area,
said: “Any attack on the community in Blacks Road because
of their religion is entirely unacceptable.”

DUP assembly member Diane Dodds said: “There is a constant
campaign of sectarian hatred carried out against the
community in Suffolk.”

Mr Ferguson said he had written to Mrs Dodds seeking a
meeting to discuss issues in the area. He said a number of
incidents had taken place recently and that Catholic taxi
cabs using Blacks Road had been targeted.


South Derry IRA Breaks From Leadership

(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

The bulk of the South Derry brigade of the Provisional IRA
has broken away from the organisation because of its
disillusionment with the leadership, republican sources
have told the Sunday Tribune.

It's the most serious division in republican ranks since
the split which led to the formation of the Real IRA in

Sources close to the men who left said they were committed
to the 'tactical use of armed struggle' and planned to
carry out intermittent attacks on the security forces.

They said the men did not want to join either the Real or
Continuity IRA but would collaborate with both groups. It
is understood they also want to hold discussions with the

"They don't want to amalgamate with any other organisation
but they want to work with other republicans and build an
anti-Good Friday Agreement front," the source said.

The source claimed the men were "completely disillusioned"
with the stance of the Sinn Féin and IRA leadership on a
range of issues, but particularly on policing.

The 25 men, compromising almost the entire brigade,
resigned from the Provisionals within recent weeks. The
source alleged the men had weapons but would not disclose
any details. He said the defectors included seasoned
activists in their 30s and 40s, and men in their 20s who
joined the IRA after the ceasefire.

Another source close to the men accused the Adams-
McGuinness leadership of abandoning the last vestige of
traditional republicanism by wanting to sign up to support
the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The brigade saw this as "yet another ideological u-turn".
They had grown increasingly unhappy with various political
compromises and policy shifts over the years, he said.

Last year, around 20 IRA members resigned in north Belfast
amidst disillusionment with the leadership but they walked
away from all military and political involvement.

The biggest threat to the peace process occurred in 1997,
when senior IRA members, led by the quarter-master general,
Mickey McKevitt, resigned from the Provisionals and formed
the Real IRA.

They were supported by units in the Republic and the bulk
of the IRA's First Battalion in South Armagh. The Real IRA
went on to carry out an armed campaign, bombing commercial
and security targets across the North and in Britain.

In recent years, the intelligence services have had
remarkable success against dissident republicans through
high-tech surveillance and informers.

While the security forces will be concerned about the
latest developments, the threat from the South Derry men is
substantially less than that following the 1997 split.

The latest dissidents will be operating within a limited
geographical area. Earlier this month, a nail bomb,
complete with command wire, was found in Bellaghy, Co
Derry. The police said the device could have "caused death
or serious injury" and described it as a "sinister"

July 24, 2006


Party Slams ‘Arrogant Thatcherite’

By Eamonn Houston

Sinn Féin in Donegal has labelled the justice minister an
“an arrogant Thatcherite” over comments he made blaming the
party for division in the North.

At the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Michael McDowell
accused Sinn Féin of not adhering to republican principles.

Sinn Féin councillor Pádraig Mac Lochlainn reacted angrily
to Mr McDowell’s comments.

He said: “I find it remarkable that a man who is on the
record as believing that inequality is a good thing would
have the audacity to lecture Sinn Féin on republicanism.

“I challenge Minister McDowell to lift the 1916 Easter
Proclamation and read it line for line and tell me that his
political career and track record has been directed by
those noble aspirations.

“Of course, he is line with his family history in that
regard, his great-uncle Eoin Mac Néill having issued
countermanding orders during that rising.

“McDowell is regarded as an arrogant Thatcherite across
this island. He is seen as closer to Margaret Thatcher, the
ultraright-wing British Tory leader who let the 1981 hunger
strikers die, than to the republican ideals that those
hunger strikers died for.”

Mr Mac Lochlainn said Sinn Féin was a “grass-roots party”
that had eclipsed Mr McDowell’s party, the Progressive

“He is closer to Ian Paisley and Margaret Thatcher than
Pádraig Pearse and Constance Markievicz,” he said.


Attwood Hits Out At Secrecy Over Cost Of MI5 Holywood Base

By Chris Thornton
24 July 2006

The Government was accused of having something to hide
today after refusing to disclose how much taxpayers are
paying to build MI5's new Northern Ireland headquarters.

Home Office Security Minister Tony McNulty told SDLP leader
Mark Durkan that it is "established policy" to keep such
costs secret - even though the Government previously
revealed the £197m overspend on the secret agency's London

SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said the secrecy about
the cost of the new building at Palace Barracks in Holywood
suggests MI5 has something to hide.

The agency, officially known as the Security Service, is
building the headquarters in preparation for taking over
the management of anti-terrorist operations in Northern
Ireland next year.

The Government wants to bring Northern Ireland into line
with anti-terrorist operations in the rest of the UK before
justice and policing powers possibly get handed over to the

MI5 told Whitehall's Intelligence and Security Committee
how much the Holywood building is expected to cost, but the
Government refused to let the committee publish the amount
in its annual report last month.

Mr Durkan decided to ask in Parliament about the cost of
the building because the Government is refusing to provide
an extra £40m to build a police training college for the

But Mr McNulty said: "It has been the established policy of
successive Governments not to comment on such matters."

However, earlier this month Shadow Home Secretary David
Davis told Parliament about his successful battle to get
the Government to reveal MI5's huge overspend on Thames
House, its London headquarters.

Mr Davis - who has promised to set a Public Accounts-style
committee to oversee MI5 if the Conservatives get in power
- revealed to Parliament in 2000 that the refurbishment of
Thames House ended up costing £244m, more than four times
initial projections.

Today Mr Attwood attacked MI5's record in Northern Ireland,
including the failure to tell police that Omagh was a
dissident republican target several months before the town
was attacked, leading to the deaths of 29 adults and
children and two unborn babies.

"Again and again MI5 use secrecy to hide inefficiency and
incompetence," the West Belfast MLA said.

"It takes them seven years to pass on a threat warning
about a possible bombing in advance of the Omagh massacre.

"But they don't admit it - and don't even bother meeting
the Omagh victims to discuss it.

"Now we find that they won't even say how many millions
their new headquarters in the North cost. But they did say
how much their headquarters in London cost - so presumably
they won't say in the North because - yet again - they have
something to hide.

"At a time when the British Government won't cough up
enough money for the new Police College that Patten
recommended, it is telling that they are spending
undisclosed millions on a headquarters for an expanded MI5.


SF Delegation Inspect Dublin Jail

A Sinn Fein delegation is examining conditions in which
immigrants are held in Irish jails.

Two MEPs and a TD are visiting Cloverhill prison in Dublin,
to see the cells, health and education provision, as well
as the facilities for family reunions for asylum seekers.

Sinn Fein claims that in 2004, two-thirds of this type of
prisoner was detained for more than 50 days.

MEP Mary-Lou McDonald says it is important their rights are


DNA From Suspect's Dog May Hold Key To Devlin’s Killing

By Joe Oliver
23 July 2006

Detectives are anxiously awaiting the results of DNA
samples taken from a family pet that could yet trap the
cold-blooded killers of a Catholic schoolboy.

As Sunday Life revealed two weeks ago, police probing the
murder of teenager Thomas Devlin seized a cocker spaniel at
its owner's home in the Mount Vernon estate in north

The dog was held for several days at the PSNI's Antrim Road
custody suite while forensic swabs were extracted.

Police believe a domestic pet may have been at the scene
where Thomas was fatally stabbed last August as he and two
friends were returning to his Somerton Road home.

At the time, detectives said the prime suspects in the
murder inquiry were two young men seen with a black and
white dog.

They already have forensic samples taken from Thomas'
clothes and also the clothing worn by one of his friends,
who was struck by an iron bar wielded by one of the

If DNA can place the dog at the murder scene it would be
the major breakthrough that police involved in the case
have been hoping for.

One police source revealed: "The swabs taken from the dog
were sent to England for tests.

"We are expecting the results back in about a fortnight's

"It is a new line of inquiry in the investigation."

The owners of the dog are known to have been away on
holiday at the time of the young BRA pupil's savage

The murder has been the subject of a number of theories but
police are thought to have ruled out a sectarian motive.

They have, however, carried out a series of house searches
during the past 11 months in the Mount Vernon estate.

Up to six people, including a juvenile, have already been
questioned, but released without charge.

Meanwhile, Thomas' family are preparing for an inter-
denominational service next month to mark the first
anniversary of their son's death.

Sunday Life's offer of a £10,000 reward for information
leading to the arrest and conviction of Thomas' killers
remains in place.


UDA Tension Rising After Cop Search

By Stephen Breen
23 July 2006

Tension was last night rising between UDA godfathers in
south Belfast and south east Antrim.

A senior loyalist source told Sunday Life the terror
group's boss in Rathcoole accused south Belfast leaders of
supporting the police raids in the loyalist stronghold last

It is understood UDA men in Newtownabbey believe loyalists
in the south of the city supported police because of south
east Antrim's decision to back the north Belfast leadership
in its feud with the Inner Council.

The source also claimed the raids were carried out after
the Government put pressure on UDA leaders to distance
themselves from criminality as part of the £30m funding
package for loyalist areas.

Although no weapons or drugs were found during the
searches, two police officers were injured after youths
hurled bricks at them.

And it is understood cops will now only enter Rathcoole in
police Land Rovers over fears for their safety.

Said the source: "South Belfast has been talking directly
to the Government about this money for loyalist areas and
they want to see it delivered as soon as possible.

"But the Government has been saying that they want to see
action on the ground and that's why the UDA in south
Belfast were not opposed to the raids in Rathcoole.

"They were angry with the local leader for not supporting
the Inner Council against the Shoukris and, because the
raids in Rathcoole were directed against criminality, they
supported them.

"The local leader is a respected loyalist and the police
action has in fact consolidated his position.

"The UDA in Rathcoole seem to be prepared for anything."

It is also believed the UDA and UVF in the area have
instructed their members in the Ulster Young Militants
(UYM) and Young Citizens Volunteers (YCV) to prepare for
more police raids.

Added the source: "If the police come into this area using
heavy-handed tactics then they better be prepared for some
serious trouble.

"The younger guys have been mobilised and the two groups
seem to be backing each other on this matter."

DCU Commander, Superintendent Will Kerr, condemned last
week's trouble in the area.

He said: "This was an unprovoked and, I think, spontaneous
attack on my officers. A probation officer was injured
while accompanying colleagues as part of training with the
tutor unit.

"I would call on the community leaders to help us resolve
these isolated incidents and make them a thing of the


McCord Killing Breakthrough Claimed

By Michael McHugh
24 July 2006

Forensic scientists are examining material linked to the
loyalist murder of Raymond McCord in a move welcomed as a
breakthrough by the dead man's family.

Mr McCord's father, Raymond Snr, said he hoped the progress
would bring prosecutions after learning that the Historical
Enquiries Team (HET) had submitted material to scientists.

The north Belfast victim, aged 22, was murdered in
Newtownabbey in November 1997, allegedly by the UVF.

Mr McCord Snr met Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief
Constable Sir Hugh Orde recently and said: "I am hopeful
this will lead to arrests. We are hopeful the stuff will be
enough to allow police to bring charges.

"I know for certain that there's been a forensic
breakthrough. This is the first breakthrough we have seen
for eight and a half years."

The HET was established last January to investigate 3,268
unsolved paramilitary-linked murders in Northern Ireland.

Mr McCord Snr's claims that a Royal Ulster Constabulary
Special Branch informant was involved in his son's murder
are being investigated by Northern Ireland Police

The case was raised in the Irish Parliament by Labour Party
leader Pat Rabbitte in October 2005.

Using parliamentary privilege, he said the murder of the
ex-RAF airman was carried out under the orders of Mount
Vernon UVF figure Mark Haddock.

Mr Rabbitte called for an international public inquiry once
the Ombudsman's investigation is complete and claimed Mount
Vernon UVF figure Mark Haddock, who was shot in Newtonabbey
earlier this year, was not charged with the killing as he
was an informer.


Whistleblower Won't Meet O'Loan

By Stephen Breen
23 July 2006

The Police Ombudsman has failed in a bid to speak to a
former Army officer who claims four UDR men were allowed to
die to protect the identity of an IRA spy.

The ex-officer refused to meet Nuala O'Loan over claims RUC
Special Branch knew prior details of a Provo landmine
attack outside Downpatrick in 1990 that claimed the
soldiers' lives.

Investigators from Mrs O'Loan's office want to speak to the
officer after launching a probe into the attack.

The investigation is now under way after the parents of one
of the four UDR men who died - Private Steven Smart
(pictured) - urged Mrs O'Loan to investigate the claims.

An Ombudsman spokesman said: "We wanted to speak to the
person who made the claims about this bomb attack and other
atrocities on a voluntary basis.

"Investigators wanted to see if there was anything this
former officer could add, but this person has declined to
accept the offer.

"The investigation will now focus on the ex-officer's
original claims surrounding the bomb attack in Downpatrick.
We would like to speak to anyone who knows anything about
this incident."

The former officer made the claims in Sunday Life last
month, but has refused to elaborate on them.

Said the officer: "It is now up to Nuala O'Loan to
investigate these attacks and there's nothing more I wish
to add at this time."


Parents' Shock Over Garda Failure To Probe Abduction Of Informer Shot By Provos

By Chris Anderson
23 July 2006

The parents of a Co Armagh man who was shot as an informer
by the IRA say they are stunned by the revelation that the
Garda did not investigate his abduction.

Portadown couple Irene and John Dignam - whose son John was
abducted by the Provos in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan - have
asked for a meeting with Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy.

The couple claim there is evidence that someone in the
Garda colluded with the British authorities to suppress the
truth about the 1992 triple-killing of their son and two
fellow republicans, Gregory Burns and Aiden Starrs.

The trio - who had been recruited by the Army's Force
Research Unit - were found shot dead in south Armagh in
June that year.

The Dignams said they were shocked by a letter they
received from Irish government officials.

"We couldn't believe what was in it," said Irene.

"It said Irish police hadn't carried out an investigation
as they had no evidence to suggest Johnny was abducted,
interrogated or murdered in the Republic.

"But Garda had evidence - and we can prove that."

The Dignams have a copy of an inquest statement by an RUC
Inspector stating: "John Dignam went missing in the
Castleblaney area, Eire."

Added Irene: "We know that information was passed to Garda
at the time Johnny disappeared."

She believes "someone in the Garda" decided her son's
murder was not to be investigated.

"I want to know who that was and why they took that

The Dignams say they had received information a republican
mole inside the Garda had supplied information to the IRA
that ultimately led to their son's death.

A copy of the inquest statement by the RUC man has been
given to the Dublin government.

It previously emerged that a former Army FRU handler - now
deceased - claimed Dignam, Burns and Starrs were agents,
and had asked to be relocated after their cover was blown.


Killer Stone Asked To Help Mo Drama

By Stephen Breen
21 July 2006

A major TV drama about Mo Mowlam's life is to be made.

And Sunday Life can reveal graveyard killer Michael Stone
has been asked by Granada Television to contribute to the

It is also believed senior republicans will be approached
to talk about their dealings with the late Northern Ireland

Although the programme will focus on Mowlam's political
career, her role in the peace process will also feature
heavily. This will include the tense negotiations which led
to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, her visit to
the Maze Prison to meet loyalists and the decisions she
made over controversial Orange marches.

Stone last night confirmed he had been asked to speak about
his face-to-face meeting in the Maze with Mo Mowlam. The
Milltown murderer said that he had not received any cash
for his participation.

Added Stone: "The loyalist prisoners were seriously
considering withdrawing their support for the peace process
and it was a brave move for her to come into the prison.

"There were a few harsh words exchanged. I accused her of
wearing green-tinted glasses and she didn't like it one bit
but she gave as good as she got. I also remember her
slapping Johnny 'Daft Dog' Adair on the hands because he
was biting his nails. Adair was raging after that and
didn't contribute anything to the meetings."

A spokeswoman for Granada Television said the programme was
in its early stages. Added the spokeswoman:"We can't
comment on the exact details until closer to the time for


'One In Five PSNI Officers Catholic'

One in five police officers in Northern Ireland are now

By:Press Association

As demand to join the Police Service of Northern Ireland
(PSNI) reached a new high, the drive to achieve religious
balance in the ranks was strengthened by the latest

Catholics account for 20.05% of regular officers in the
force, compared to just 8.3% when the Patten probe into the
old Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was carried out in

Even though the Social Democratic and Labour Party`s (SDLP)
Alex Attwood described it as a landmark in attempts to
overhaul the service, he warned against any move to now end
the 50:50 recruitment policy.

"It`s a watershed that they have broken through the 20%
barrier," the Policing Board representative said.

"The figures remain very encouraging and very strong.

"But the continued success of overall recruitment and
Catholic recruitment must not mean that the Government
changes its position on the retention of 50:50.

"It`s up for renewal next spring, but Patten said it should
continue for at least 10 years.

"You cannot play fast and loose with policing."

With new recruits graduating from the Garnerville training
college in east Belfast last Friday, there have now been
more than 65,000 applications to join the PSNI.

The latest campaign led to the highest level of interest
yet. Nearly 7700 applicants competed for 220 places.

Out of these, 37% were Catholics, again the highest rate to

Paul Goggins, the Northern Ireland Security Minister,
praised the standard of men and women joining the PSNI.

He said: "Policing as a career isn`t an easy choice. It`s
not an easy job, and not everyone could do it.

"The PSNI has shown that it is attracting high calibre
candidates into its ranks."

Mr Goggins added: "I am delighted that so many people from
all communities and backgrounds have taken up the challenge
of delivering what is an absolutely vital service to the
community and I would like to take this opportunity to wish
them every success for the future."


Policing Board Refuses To Vet Community Justice Scheme

By Frank Millar, London Editor.

The Policing Board is refusing to participate in vetting
arrangements devised as part of the British government's
plan to regulate community-based restorative justice (CRJ)
programmes in Northern Ireland, The Irish Times has

The rebuff is a major embarrassment for Northern Ireland
Office (NIO) ministers and signals an ongoing political
battle following tomorrow's planned publication of revised
protocols for the operation of the schemes, which SDLP
leader Mark Durkan has warned could result in "state-paid

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is understood to be
relieved that it will not have the responsibility for
deciding on the suitability of people to be employed in CRJ
schemes, which are intended to deal with "low-level crime"
in local communities, bringing offenders and victims
together to make recompense. However the Policing Board has
declined a government request to nominate representatives
to serve on the proposed vetting panel.

Reflecting growing concern that former paramilitary
prisoners with convictions ranging from involvement in so-
called "punishment" attacks to murder would be eligible to
participate in CRJ schemes, the Policing Board has told the
NIO the proposed vetting procedures are "not sufficiently

British government officials are now admitting they "got it
wrong" with the draft guidelines published last December,
saying that the protocols being unveiled to MPs tomorrow
will reflect the concerns expressed in particular by the

However the SDLP continued to escalate its campaign against
the proposals over the weekend, effectively challenging
ministers to break the Sinn Féin connection with
restorative justice schemes and to deny state funding and
approval to any scheme which does not support the PSNI.

Pressure was also building on British prime minister Tony
Blair after the intervention of Conservative leader David
Cameron, who discussed the issue with Mr Durkan last

Following his promise to reflect the SDLP leader's concerns
to the prime minister, Mr Cameron had his Northern Ireland
spokesman David Lidington raise the issue directly with Mr
Blair's chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, on Friday.

Mr Lidington pressed Mr Cameron's view that CRJ schemes
could only proceed if there was clear PSNI involvement and
safeguards to exclude people with "serious criminal
convictions" or background intelligence pointing to
paramilitary involvement.

© The Irish Times


Opin: No Room At The Inn For Film Tourists

Laurence McKeown

Ken Loach’s film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley continues
to get rave reviews, apart from those critics such as Ruth
Dudley Edwards who condemned it without even seeing it. As
most are aware, the story is set in Cork, which is where
the film was shot. Many locals played extras in the film
and the entire production must have brought in a tidy
income for local businesses providing services and

One place where the cast and crew may not have been made so
welcome was, surprisingly, in Desert, on the outskirts of
Clonakilty. A couple from Australia, booked to stay in a
certain B&B there recently, found their room cancelled just
a day prior to arrival. A message was left at the home of
their son-in-law who had made the booking, Terry
O’Sullivan, stating: “We don't keep anyone in this house
who has connections with Sinn Féin or the IRA", or words to
that effect.

Terry is the brother of local Sinn Féin councillor,
Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin so Cionnaith called at the B&B to
discuss the issue. The proprietor was not at home but
Cionnaith later spoke to her by phone and was told in no
uncertain terms, “never to cross my pillars again”.

When he pointed out that the accommodation was not for him
but for two people who lived 12,000 miles away who he had
only ever met five years previously he was told that if
they had any connections to him they couldn’t be much
better than him.

When Cionnaith pointed out that the premises were a Bord
Failte registered B&B the landlady told him it was her own
house and that she wouldn't keep any murderers in it. She
then hung up.

There was a time in England when notices on the windows of
B&Bs stated, ‘No Irish need apply’ and you wonder how many
people who emigrated from Cork to London came up against
such racism.

If they or their children were to return to Ireland and
their native county today, wearing one of the currently
popular T-shirts emblazoned with, The Wind That Shakes the
Barley, would they find themselves shut out on the street?
Tom Barry must be turning in his grave.


Opin: Paisley Still Trading On Fears Of Gullible People

The Wednesday Column
By Brian Feeney

It’s 40 years since the self-styled UVF murdered Peter Ward
in the Malvern Arms off the Shankill Road – June 26 1966.
The next day the victim of one of the gang’s earlier
attacks, Matilda Gould, a 77-year-old Protestant widow,
died of injuries she received when a petrol bomb meant for
a Catholic-owned pub adjacent to her house exploded in her
hallway. On June 11 the same gang had shot John Scullion

It was only when his body was exhumed on June 22 that an
autopsy revealed he had been shot.

In May the Shankill Road gang who described themselves as
‘heavily-armed Protestants’ had issued a statement
declaring war against ‘the IRA and its splinter groups’.

No-one paid any attention. It had to be a hoax, hadn’t it?

After all, there was no IRA.

The republican movement had formally abandoned its border
campaign in 1962 and was moving towards political action
through tenants’ associations, housing committees,
demonstrations and protest marches.

That’s what you did in the 1960s.

The police quickly rounded up Gusty Spence’s infamous
murder gang and the ring leaders got life. They were
universally condemned by the unionist media and
politicians. No-one believed a word of the drivel about
‘Ulster in danger’, ‘republicans on the march’, ‘the end is
nigh’ and so on.

No-one that is, except the thousands of dupes who believed
40-year-old Ian Paisley who was clearly convinced that
‘Ulster’ was on its way to hell in a handcart.

Not only were there republicans lurking in every crevice
only slavering to enslave Protestants but even the
Presbyterian Church could not be trusted because of its
‘Romeward trend’. The whole world, including the new
British Labour government, was agin the poor wee ‘sick

It was all a mirage, a myth, an invention of his fevered
imagination. The Unionist Party dismissed Paisley as a
noisy embarrassment. The media treated him as a buffoon.
Students, including Catholic students, turned up to his
Ulster Hall rallies for a good laugh. It was great
entertainment, free too.

Tragically however, scores of young loyalists at those same
rallies took him at his word, though he has always denied
his words inflamed anyone. It has all changed now of
course. Gusty Spence was openly advocating a ceasefire from
1977 on. The UVF and UDA both repudiate Paisley and openly
laugh at his demagoguery.

The last time any of them took him seriously was 20 years
ago in 1986 when he threatened dire things to defeat the
Anglo-Irish Agreement. Anybody remember his ‘day of action’
in March that year?

To the paramilitaries he is the grand old Duke of York who
marched them up to the top of the hill – and marched them
down again. The loyalist paramilitaries have changed.

They are looking for their pensions if they weren’t in the
UDR or RUC. The IRA has formally stood down from active

The nationalist electorate in the north has endorsed Sinn
Fein’s move into politics over the last decade or so.

Sadly one thing has not changed – Paisley. His speech to
the Independent Orange Order on July 12 could have been
written 40 years ago. He is still out there smiting
imaginary enemies, calling for blood sacrifice – “Liberty
can only be obtained at a stupendous price. That price is
the irreplaceable coin of human bodies and blood”.
Seriously? And where does the dire threat come from?
Needless to say, an IRA almost exactly similar to the one
he was railing against 40 odd years ago, one which is no
threat to anyone. Doesn’t matter. For Paisley “there is no
discharge in this war”. What war? The same one in his mind
as was in his mind all those years ago. His wild rhetoric
caused consternation among those amusingly described by
some commentators as the ‘modernisers’ in his party. They
are the ones slightly to the right of David Trimble. People
speculate whether Paisley’s message on July 12 was to the
Irish government, republicans or the modernisers. That’s to
give him credit for having a political strategy. The truth
is that Paisley at 80 is the same man as Paisley at 40, a
politician devoid of political thought who trades on the
fears of gullible people.


Opin: History Provides Answer To Burning Question

The Monday Column
By Jim Gibney

Commentators are describing this year’s July Twelfth
demonstrations as one of the quietest periods in 20 years.

This is not the only noticeable feature of this year’s
Orange Order marching season.

In the run-up to the 12th the order’s leadership were
involved in a series of public meetings with President Mary
McAleese, Catholic Archbishop Sean Brady, Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern and SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

It is not yet clear if the order is engaged in a PR
exercise or is genuinely involved in trying to convince
nationalist leaders of their good intentions.

What is clear is none of those they met experienced
unwelcome Orange parades past their front doors before or
on July 12th or were eye witnesses to the Order’s Eleventh
night bonfires with their attendant fear and drunken

Indeed, but for the commitment by republicans to have a
peaceful summer which involved them mobilising 800
republican stewards over the 11th and 12th July to monitor
the parades the story might well have been different.

The Orange Order remains implacably opposed to speaking
with residents who view their demonstrations as sectarian
and offensive. It also refuses to speak with the Parades
Commission whose determinations this year created more
problems for nationalists already stretched by Orange

So why did the order hold a series of unprecedented public
meetings? Is there any new thinking going on inside this
organisation which could end the annual nightmare visited
by them on residents in many areas across the north?

Over the Twelfth I read a new book, The Orange Order a
Tradition Betrayed, written by a man who has spent the last
40 years a member of the order.

The Rev Brian Kennaway was for 25 years a member of the
Grand Lodge of Ireland and convener of its education
committee from 1992 until 2000 when he was in his own words
“demonised and driven from office to the fringes”.

This treatment aside he is still a strong believer ‘in the
core values of the Orange tradition’ and argues in the book
that the order properly reformed “could be a force for good
and reconciliation”.

Kennaway argues passionately if naively that the Orange
Order has lost its way from its original mission when set
up in 1795, which as far as he is concerned, was religious
not political. The book is liberally laced with religious
statements made by order chaplains exhorting Orangemen to
uphold and promote Christian values. The primary source for
these appeals is The Qualifications of an Orangeman to be
taken by every man joining the order. Women are not allowed
to be members. They join a parallel body.

The declaration can be interpreted in two ways – anti-
Catholic or non-sectarian. The author plumps for the latter
and argues in hope rather than expectation that the order
despite its prominence in Irish history over the last 200
years could yet rediscover its original evangelical

On the basis of the Qualifications Kennaway expects
Orangemen to be steadfast followers of Christ, students of
the Bible living by its scriptures, keeping holy the
Sabbath day and treating those of a different religion as
they expect to be treated.

He poses a question which goes to the heart of his thesis
about the order, “Is the Orange Institution a religious
organisation with a political element or a political
organisation with a religious element?”

History and his book provide the answer. Orangemen fought
against the 1798 rebellion, opposed Catholic emancipation,
Home Rule, Irish independence, the civil rights demands and
the Good Friday Agreement. They formed the Unionist Party,
supported partition and most prime ministers of the north
were Orangemen.

That said, Kennaway is scathing of the order’s leadership,
their parades policy, tolerance of loyalists in the order,
commitment to Protestantism and lack of honesty. Their
failure ‘to see ourselves as others see us’.

Kennaway is a reformer, wants to see the order survive and
prosper. Many will believe in the more pluralist, secular
and inclusive Irish society, even his vision of Orangeism
is outdated.

The Orange Order has many changes to make before
nationalists see it as other than an organisation which
foments sectarianism.

But Kennaway’s book is worth reading and he is worth
listening to.

• The Rev Brian Kennaway will launch his book at this
year’s West Belfast Feile on Saturday August 5 at midday in
an Chulturlann.


Opin: There’ll Be No Pushing Paisley Into Deadline

By Newton Emerson

Ijust don’t see how any of this pressure on Ian Paisley
amounts to any pressure at all. Addressing the MacGill
summer school in Co Donegal last Sunday, Secretary of State
Peter Hain once again went through the list of threats,
promises and missed opportunities that will supposedly
befall the DUP if Stormont is not restored by November 24.

No doubt Mr Paisley was annoyed to learn that Her Majesty’s
minister was working on the Sabbath – but the rest of the
speech won’t have troubled him in the slightest. For a
start, the DUP clearly has no intention of working to the
November deadline.

If the party has any deadline in mind it is the 2009 UK
general election, when it has a good chance of wiping out
the Ulster Unionists and a tantalising chance of holding
the balance of power at Westminster. Even then it won’t
view that victory as a position of strength from which to
lead but merely as a higher platform from which to jeer at
its enemies.

Why should the DUP abandon an oppositional approach that
has worked for 30 years if this approach succeeds beyond
its wildest dreams? So let’s forget about deadlines.
Paisley will move when he feels like moving and nothing in
Sunday’s speech suggests any imminent reason to step off
the brakes. Mr Hain began by discussing the education
changes that unionists supposedly hate – but this is surely
an orange herring. I’ve seen the queues of Paisley
supporters outside our polling stations. They’re not
exactly a grammar school crowd. DUP voters only object to
the abolition of selection because Martin McGuinness signed
the order.

Apart from that, they’ll hardly miss an exam they all
failed anyway.

Mr Hain also hinted that his education policy amounts to
gradual religious integration. But that will only annoy DUP
voters until the Catholic Church starts squealing about it,
after which they will be positively delighted.

The secretary of state moved on to economic and
administrative threats surrounding the seven new super-
councils, a slimmed-down Stormont bureaucracy and higher
rates and water charges. But how is this supposed to
frighten the DUP?

It will dominate at least three of those new councils and
relish a share of the extra power devolved to all of them.

Fewer Stormont departments means fewer Stormont ministers –
but as Stormont’s largest party this threatens the DUP
least of all. As for higher rates and water charges, the
DUP can easily subvert any non-payment sentiment by pitting
Protestants against Catholics – unless the NIO tries this
trick first, which is only too likely.

Mr Hain also mentioned the ‘police precept’, a hefty local
policing charge added to council tax in England and Wales.
However, only a restored assembly is currently empowered to
levy this here – and if Mr Hain is thinking of handing that
poisoned chalice to the super-councils then it is Sinn
Fein, rather than the DUP, which will be hopelessly
cornered by the consequences.

Finally, Mr Hain mentioned deeper north-south cooperation
and the possibility of joint stewardship if the assembly
isn’t restored. This is the emptiest threat of all. Dublin
has reacted with such panic to the implications that
nationalist Ireland’s bluff is in serious danger of being

There is no prospect of the Republic putting one penny
towards Northern Ireland’s upkeep so its input will be
similarly worthless.

Even the UDA has been summoned to the taoiseach’s office
for reassurance on the subject, so the DUP hardly has cause
for concern.

In fact the worst thing that can happen in the foreseeable
future is that DUP stalling generates political apathy
among its own supporters and political antipathy among
former Ulster Unionist supporters, causing the overall
unionist vote to slip behind the overall nationalist vote.

This will trigger a border poll under what’s left of the
Good Friday Agreement – which unionism will win decisively,
while Ian Paisley feeds off the ensuing paranoia like some
brain-sucking science fiction monster.

Meanwhile, Mr Hain’s wide-ranging reforms will continue –
because they are necessary to the long-term viability of
Northern Ireland.

So why shouldn’t the DUP sit on the sidelines in
comfortable, complaining opposition while others take the
hard choices, rather than sitting in Stormont taking the

A viable Northern Ireland is what unionism wants and Ian
Paisley can step forward to inherit its government once the
real work is done. If Mr Hain has any idea how to make him
step forward one moment sooner, then he has certainly yet
to reveal it.


Opin: UDA Plan For Ceasefire Is An Audacious One

By James Kelly

Our sympathy must go out to the unfortunate refugees
fleeing in a frantic exodus from the terrible scenes of
destruction in the lovely city of Beirut, reminding us of
our own 30 years hell in a conflict that should never have
happened. Over there in the Holy Land world peace is being
crucified while the big powers dither with excuses for
doing nothing. Somewhere I even read a mention of Nazareth,
birth place of Jesus Christ, a cherished memory for
believers down the centuries. What a hideous thought that
the holy places where He walked and taught should be
engulfed in such a catastrophe in these so-called
enlightening modern times.

Some excitable scribes early on prophesying a holy war
between Islam and the Christian world envisaged a third
world war or Armageddon. Fortunately they appear to have
been brought to heel for their unfortunate imaginings were
quickly suppressed.

The United Nations, if it is not to go the way of the
impotent League of Nations, must intervene quickly and stop
the madness involving both the Israeli government and the
Hezbollah (‘The party of God’) conceived by a group of
Muslim clerics. They are accused of suicide bombing and the
tactic of taking western hostages. When the activities of
mad mullahs are mentioned in this context the experience of
the poor old ‘sick counties’ with our local ranters over
the years comes to mind.

Preliminary census figures published in the Republic this
week show that the state’s population has increased to 4.2
million, the highest level in nearly 150 years. While the
population in the north is expected to hit the two million
mark, bringing the total population of the island of
Ireland, to approximately six million this is still a
couple of a million short of the eight million population
living on the island before the dreadful potato famine of
the 1840s brought death and emigration to millions of our
ancestors. A fantastic net inward immigration of 46,000 a
year during the 2002 to 2006 census period was recorded.
This high level of immigration means that the number of
foreign nationals living in the Republic is approximately
400,000 or 10 per cent of the total population.

Dramatic changes in the political situation in the Dail
could emerge as a result of the census if it is decided to
establish a commission to revise the Dail election
boundaries later in the year. This could have a knock-on
effect politically in the north if Paisley maintains his
“over our dead bodies” response to power-sharing at
Stormont with Sinn Fein on November 24, bringing the two
governments’ alternative plan B into force. It is no secret
that key civil servants from both governments have already
completed a blueprint of the new set-up based on the terms
of the Good Friday Agreement. Secretary of State Peter Hain
hinted in the House of Commons this week that plans are
already prepared for joint north-south cooperation on
“practical matters” including cooperation between the PSNI
and the Garda, and investment strategies.

“Creating clusters of excellence” (whatever that means?),
cross-border hospital treatment, free bus and rail travel
all over Ireland for senior citizens. He added “on these
issues and more, that is the direction of north-south

With all this talk of north-south cooperation bordermania,
which kept Craig and Brookeborough in power for more than
50 years, is beginning to sound as dead as the dodo.

Now fast on the heels of the UDA’s cordial conversations
with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin comes the disclosure
that the UDA head lads and their advisers have been in
secret talks with British officials seeking a ‘financial
package’ to wind down the organisation.

Figures from £30m to £70m have been mentioned – presumably
to pension off their brigadiers.

Their argument that by getting off side they would be
saving the government millions on security by police and
troops is an audacious one. An early ceasefire announcement
from that source will tell us that the money is in the bag.


Opin: CRJ Typifies Inequality For The North’s Citizens

By Tom Kelly

When the civil rights movement started it campaigned under
slogans such as ‘Equal Rights for Equal Citizens’. The
premise was simple: that Catholic citizens living in
Northern Ireland, who were being blatantly discriminated
against by a unionist hegemony in a region of the United
Kingdom, would be rescued from their plight by the British

Then the only thing the British government was interested
in rescuing was its own reputation, as the extent of the
social and economic apartheid became evident to all but the
ostriches up at Stormont.

That Northern Ireland existed from 1922 until the 1970s was
an indictment not only of British misrule but an indication
of the inherent sectarianism of the British establishment.

Today British involvement in Northern Ireland is much more
hands-on; in fact too hands-on.

Once again we are not being treated as equal citizens with
our counterparts in other parts of the United Kingdom.

As David Cameron talks about ‘hugging hoodies’ and John
Reid talks about locking them up, it appears that many here
fear the prospect of the rule of law being enforced by
‘hoodies’ if government plans to fund community restorative
Justice (CRJ) schemes proceed without stricter vetting

Imagine the outcry if Ronnie Kray was allowed to run a CRJ
scheme in east London.

Somehow the government feels we should be happy with the
exclusion of those who committed crimes after 1998 from
involvement in CRJ schemes in Northern Ireland.

Does anyone think that Tony Blair would accept such a
formula in his Sedgewick constituency? Somehow I doubt it.

But the standards of justice for people in Northern Ireland
appear to be governed by the standards of paramilitary
justice and not those of law and order.

Imagine a world governed by the standards of people who
sentenced, murdered and dumped the body of Jean McConville,
or those who apparently watched the murder of Robert
McCartney and then refused to cooperate with the police to
have his murderers apprehended, or those who played trick
or treat with an Uzi on the innocent of Greysteel and

A community restorative justice scheme may indeed be a
useful complementary tool when worked in conjunction with
the police but working in isolation of the police it
becomes little more than a form of vigilantism.

Given the high levels of domestic violence and the threats
often faced by women and children when trying to escape
from such violence it is entirely understandable why
organisations like the Belfast Rape Crisis Centre and Foyle
Women’s Aid are opposed to plans to fund community
restorative justice schemes as envisaged by the British

Given that some loyalists are not even on officially
recognised ceasefires the thought of going to a CRJ scheme
in a loyalist area must carry more risks than visiting
Beirut on an Israeli passport.

The SDLP has called it right on CRJ schemes but the
government does not really care about its opinions on such

Making moderation relevant is increasingly difficult when
the government’s policy of appeasement and counter-
appeasement to the DUP and Sinn Fein renders all political
logic useless.

Blair and his advisers have turned zero-sum politics into
an art form, but the veneer of statesmanship and sincerity
is wearing as thin as John Prescott’s explanation of his
Texan Stetson.

However well-intentioned, after years of wining and dining
paramilitaries at fancy castles and the swapping of cudgels
for Calloways at the K Club, members of the British and
Irish establishments have helped deodorise the smell of
sulphur and in doing so have desensitised us into believing
it could be cologne.

As we wait with baited breath for the November 24 deadline
to pass, how much more will we have to stomach as the
British government create second-class citizens out of the
ordinary decent citizens in the north?

Oops! Got to go, the local commandant – sorry, CRJ officer
– is at my door.


Opin: Proof That People Do Need Alternatives

The Monday Column
By Roy Garland

Shankill Alternatives, the first restorative justice
project in Ireland, was introduced nine years ago and
operates in parts of Belfast and Bangor.

The main aim was to stop punishment beatings, in
cooperation with police and other agencies.

Now, despite £3 million funding for removing loyalist
murals, this successful project faces closure.

The government has apparently advised public bodies not to
fund Alternatives mainly, it seems, because of opposition
from SDLP and DUP politicians who focus on restorative
justice programmes in republican areas that don’t work with
the PSNI.

Misleading allegations have also been made about a supposed
failure by Alternatives to accept guidelines. These were
actually agreed twice but subsequently withdrawn by the

The human cost of closure would be incalculable, as I
discovered when I talked with people on the receiving end
of the service.

One youth told how, after numerous threats from
paramilitaries because of his anti-social activities, he
was identified as being at risk and referred to

He was assigned to a support worker and engaged in
mediation with a pensioner whose property he had damaged.
After writing an apology he struck up a friendship with the
pensioner, who shared stories about his own childhood, his
life in the army and about the Troubles.

This gave the Troubles a human face and, together with a
visit to the Ulster Museum, helped develop the youth’s
interest in history.

He began sharing his own stories with the pensioner,
running errands for him and tidying up his garden. A
support worker helped with the youth’s studies, even
sitting alongside him in school.

The youth now demonstrates artistic and creative talent and
has been introduced to a range of other activities. His
future looks decidedly more hopeful.

A young lady, who is unwell and living on her own, was
caught up in a dispute between neighbours that involved

The windows of her home were smashed with devastating
effects on her. Police were called and arrived an hour
later, apparently unable to help in any meaningful way.
Alternatives arranged mediation and helped to get the
windows replaced. She has regained much of her confidence
through her continuing association with Alternatives.

Another teenager was involved in stealing and rioting
before being referred by paramilitaries to Alternatives.

When asked what might have happened to him otherwise, he
bluntly said he would have been shot. He was prepared to
meet his victims but as they didn’t wish this he wrote
letters of apology which were greatly appreciated.

The teenager was in almost daily contact with Alternatives,
while doing voluntary work for local pensioners and a
disabled neighbour. He now has a better relationship with
his mum, has taken part in various courses and is in full

Another mother tells how her family life was transformed
through Alternatives. Her husband was abusive and their
children faced serious difficulties.

The abuse became so unbearable she found herself in a
hostel at “the end of the line”.

Things looked very black when Alternatives began providing
ongoing support and counselling, which turned their family
life completely around.

She has taken up studies, gained qualifications and is
employed in a job she loves. Another lady’s daughter was
severely beaten and abused.

The effects were traumatic: she lost weight, couldn’t eat,
sleep or leave her home. The family “went through hell”,
with no-one to turn to.

The police could do little to help but, thanks to
Alternatives, her daughter is now taking small steps to
recovery. She has obtained excellent school reports,
achieved sporting successes and finds satisfaction with
each successful step she takes.

Without Alternatives, prospects for these people and many
others would be dire. A few ex-prisoners are employed and
these are a particular inspiration for troubled youths
wanting to move on with their lives.

They fear the consequences of this Alternatives lifeline
being destroyed by government pandering to rivalling local

This is the height of folly when deprived loyalist areas
need transformed rather than left to fester and stagnate.


Opin: Guessing Game Over Alternative Strategy

The Tuesday Column
By William Graham

British and Irish civil servants are already working on the
details of plan B if plan A for devolution by November 24
is not attainable – and so everyone is wondering what this
alternative strategy will mean.

It will not be, nor can it be, what some journalists like
to describe as ‘joint authority’ when using an inaccurate
political shorthand term.

The joint authority political theory fell well short of
realisation in 1985 – the year of the Anglo-Irish Agreement
– and since then has become quaintly outdated.

Plan B will mean pragmatic joint management or partnership
arrangements but no-one is quite sure of the details of its
organic form and whether it can spread, as some
nationalists would prefer, into spaghetti junction north-
south cooperation.

A blank canvass of sorts awaits the civil servants and
special advisors but there are limitations essentially in
dealing with a divided society in the north.

A certain nervousness will be evident in compiling plan B.

The Irish government might press to have influence over a
whole range of areas north-south, and specifically in the
border areas, but the British Labour government may want as
conservative a proposition as possible.

The reasoning for the British government’s hesitance on
plan B will become starkly evident as they will not want to
unduly upset the unionist community in terms of north-south

Yet many unionists will not unduly worry their heads over
this cooperation as they do now accept the economic
arguments for such arrangements, not least the business

However, of more concern will be the British nervousness
about doing anything which would provoke a backlash by the
loyalist paramilitaries.

The British government would be wary of embarking on any
plan which might be met by threats or actual violence by
the UVF and UDA at a time when Belfast is undergoing an
economic post-conflict transformation.

Nevertheless, plan B will go ahead even if it is in a
limited format.

It is likely that there will, for example, be a push by
nationalists for some kind of joint north-south fund to
replace the European peace programme money which is fast
running out; or to encompass a joined up approach on
community funding.

This would be enormously important for introducing new and

sustainable present north-south projects and for public
authorities on both sides of the border to embark on
ambitious joint ventures.

The planned super seven councils would have a key role.

Also in a broader context it should be pointed out that
some European funding is tied to the involvement of two
member states.

One scenario is that the Dublin government may want a role
in which it is not normally involved regarding decision
making – perhaps a say in education, health, employment and

Justice issues are also of course matters which would have
a cross-border element and there have been calls for an
all-Ireland criminal assets bureau.

And even at the basic level of road safety north-south
penalty points could be introduced.

The current situation regarding north-south bodies will
have to be overhauled in that European funding programmes
have been contracting and inevitably less money and less
funding is being paid out. The Irish Lights body is not
operating to plan because of legal difficulties.

The argument therefore put forward by nationalists is that
you are now down to four-and-a-half of the north-south
bodies fully operating as opposed to six.

The plan by nationalists is to rectify this and in fact
encourage an expansion of the north-south bodies.

In the absence of devolution this would be progressed
through the British Irish intergovernmental conference and
a new legal treaty may be required.

The north-south bodies would be moved from a current care
and maintenance basis and there would be an ‘expanded’
British Irish Secretariat.

What I have outlined above may be the game plan as the
British government tries to coax Ian Paisley’s Democratic
Unionist Party into moving towards sharing devolved
government in the north with Sinn Fein by November 24.

At this stage it looks as if the DUP will refuse to budge
until at least the spring of next year before considering

If the power-sharing plan A takes years to bring about then
plan B is set to be implemented on a gradual basis starting
with a British Irish Inter-Governmental Conference at prime
minister summit level in December.

n Breidge Gadd is on holiday


Opin: Ex-Noraid Boss Still Gloomy On Peace Process

Seasoned US critic of British involvement in Ireland turns
his attention to plight of republican prisoners in
Maghaberry jail

Jim Dee Daily Ireland USA correspondent

Even if the gloomy forecasts about the prospects of a
November 24 deal are wrong, any resurrected assembly
executive will just be a waste of time, according to a
longtime American critic of Britain’s role in Ireland.

“That body is not going to move anything towards a united
Ireland. It will just give undue legitimacy to British
rule,” insisted Martin Galvin, the former head of Irish
Northern Aid (Noraid) in America, during a lengthy Daily
Ireland interview.

“Even when you get into Stormont, it’s a Stormont headed by
Paisley,” said Galvin.

“It’s a Stormont headed by the DUP, where any real progress
towards real change, towards a united Ireland, can be dealt
with by the British within a British parliament, within the
British establishment.”

It’s hardly surprising to hear Galvin dismiss the
assembly’s legitimacy. The New York-based lawyer has been a
vocal critic of the Good Friday Agreement ever since it was
endorsed by 71 per cent of voters in the North, and 94 per
cent in the South, in May 1998.

After splitting from Sinn Féin in the mid-1990s over the
peace process, Galvin began supporting a faction that would
eventually evolve into the 32-County Sovereignty Movement
(32CSM) – a group British and Irish police say is tied to
dissidents of the self-styled Real IRA - an allegation the
32CSM denies.

He ended his public support for the 32CSM when the US State
Department listed it as a banned terrorist organisation in
2002. However, Galvin's peace process criticisms remain
very much in line with the group’s.

Asked if any group can still legitimately wage an armed
struggle – in light of the Good Friday Agreement’s
overwhelmingly endorsement on both sides of the border and
the IRA officially ending its armed campaign last year –
Galvin said: “There can be a right of the Irish people to
resist British rule with force, but you also have to be
able to mount a legitimate, successful campaign. So I’m not
going to cast a judgment on anyone who does that.”

However, he insisted: “It’s not simply a choice between,
either it’s the Stormont deal or a military campaign. There
are other choices than that.”

As for a political alternative, Galvin said he “was
sympathetic” to the 32-County Sovereignty Movement until
its 2002 banning in the US. However, he also concedes that
the 32CSM's campaign to have the United Nations declare
British sovereignty in the North to be illegitimate, is a
long shot at best.

“The United Nations, unfortunately, is a political body
that works on political practicalities,” said Galvin.

“And when you get enough political support, and when it’s
pragmatic for certain countries to support your interests,
they’ll support you. But it’s not an organisation that is
going to look at Ireland simply on moral grounds and decide
to intervene.”

Galvin’s involvement in Irish affairs dates back to the
1960s, when he began visiting the land from which his
family emigrated in 1914.

In the early 1970s, he joined Irish Northern Aid, or
Noraid, and by 1979 he was its publicity director and the
editor of its weekly paper, the Irish People. He said that,
at that time, Noraid’s focus was on highlighting republican
prisoners’ plight during the Long Kesh protests.

Galvin said that in those days Noraid’s aim was to “bring
the issue back to British rule – that in order to rule
Ireland, the British needed repression, they needed
discrimination, they needed injustice to remain there”.

As part of those efforts, he and others took Irish
Americans on trips to the North.

A 1983 trip that Galvin made so angered the British that he
was officially barred from entering the North the following

In August 1984, Galvin snuck in anyway – beginning a tragic
chain of events that would ultimately lead to the death of
Sean Downes – a 22-year-old nationalist who was killed by a
plastic bullet as the RUC rushed a platform in
Andersonstown where Galvin had appeared to make a speech.

In 1986, Galvin stayed with Sinn Féin when it decided to
recognise the Dáil because he felt that “there was still a
commitment to ending British rule, and that recognising
Leinster House was not going to be a first step towards
recognising Stormont or British rule, or British courts, in
the North.”

However, ten years later, as the peace process advanced
“around 1995, 1996, I, at that point just walked away from
Irish Northern Aid. I didn’t do so publicly, but I just
couldn’t put myself on the line and tell people and endorse
a strategy which I no longer believed in.”

“I still have a lot of respect and admiration for a number
of the people who are still with Sinn Féin, although I felt
I had to disagree with them and could no longer give them
my support,” he added.

Galvin said that the main issue he's now about is the issue
of political prisoners in Maghaberry.

He said that, while in the 1970s and early 1980s efforts to
criminalise republicans entailed trying to get them to don
convict uniforms, today it involves trying to house
republicans with “criminals, rapists, drug dealers, things
of that nature”.

He said that prisoners who refuse this system are penalised
with strip searches, restricted visits, as well as being
locked in their cells more than 20 hours daily.

“Twenty-five years later, while republicans are
commemorating the hunger strike of 1981, the British have
their own kind of commemoration in the form of trying to
reintroduce and reimpose the same policy of
criminalisation,” he said.

Returning to the broader peace process, Galvin was asked if
the major electoral gains made by Sinn Féin on both sides
of the border were not tangible proof of republican

“I realise, economically, there have been advances for
republicans. In terms of offices, there have been
advances," said Galvin.

“But one of the basic strategies of any colonial power is
that you give a little bit to parties that oppose you to
try and co-opt them into the system. That has been the
British objective, I believe, in the Stormont deal.”

Galvin said that Sinn Féin can claim advances to a point
“where your viewpoint is listened to and respected. But
you’re there because you can be trotted out by the British
who say ‘Look, even our former opponents are playing a part
under British rule. They want to serve in a British
parliament at Stormont.’”


Tributes To Former RTE Broadcaster

By Staff Reporter

Tributes were paid last night to veteran RTE news and sport
broadcaster Vere Wynne-Jones, whose death was announced

The popular 56-year-old died after a long battle with

Former RTE sport colleague Jimmy Magee dedicated
yesterday’s Sunday Sport RTE Radio One programme to Mr

“Over the last few years he suffered with great courage the
illness that would eventually take his life,” Mr Magee

“An ebullient man with a beaming all-face smile, he was
only in his fifties.”

In a long career, Mr Wynne-Jones presented the news and
sport on RTE and was a founder member of the RTE sports
unit on 2FM.

He also began what is now the Six One RTE sports bulletin
in September 1989.

He left RTE in the mid-1990s to pursue a career in public
relations but continued to contribute to RTE sports
programmes up to recent months.

He is survived by his wife Jenny and children Stephen and


July 24, 2006

Thomas J. Manton, 73, Influential Queens Democrat, Dies

By Sewell Chan

Thomas J. Manton, a former seven-term United States
representative and New York City councilman who was
chairman of the powerful Queens Democratic party for the
past two decades, died on Saturday at Calvary Hospital in
the Bronx. He was 73 and lived in Astoria, Queens.

The cause of death was prostate cancer, according to his
daughter Jeanne M. Manton.

The son of rural Irish immigrants, Mr. Manton worked as a
police officer and a typewriter salesman while he finished
college and law school. He was among the generations of
Irish-American politicians who dominated neighborhood and
borough politics in New York City for decades, although he
was credited with helping recruit candidates from the
Hispanic, Asian and other immigrant and ethnic groups that
have made Queens one of the most demographically diverse
counties in the country.

Although he fit the role of a clubhouse Democrat to a tee —
drafting legislation, doling out patronage jobs and
grooming or blocking candidates for office — Mr. Manton
wielded influence over politicians of every stripe. He
counseled Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican, and
helped secure the election of two City Council speakers,
Gifford Miller, elected in 2002, and Christine C. Quinn,
elected this year. The speaker is chosen by the other 50
council members; both Mr. Miller and Ms. Quinn gave Queens
lawmakers key committee positions in apparent thanks for
Mr. Manton’s support.

While the patronage system and political machines have been
weakening in the city for decades, “the Queens organization
has maintained a singular ability to nominate and elect
candidates and, to some extent, control their votes,” said
Douglas A. Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch
College in Manhattan, who described Mr. Manton as “in many
ways, the last of the big-time county bosses in this city.”

In a sign of that clout, politicians were quick to praise
Mr. Manton yesterday. “He was somebody that I reached out
to a number of times when I first toyed with the idea of
entering public service,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “I got his
advice. I’ll never forget: We had a great lunch at an
Italian restaurant where he regaled me with stories of what
politics in New York City was really all about. He was a
classy guy. He really did leave this city better than he
found it, on a number of levels, and even up through three
months ago, was giving me advice.”

Representative Joseph Crowley — whom Mr. Manton picked to
succeed him in Congress and who is considered a leading
candidate to succeed him as head of the county Democratic
organization — said his mentor rescued the party from “its
lowest ebb” in 1986.

In February of that year, Donald R. Manes, the longtime
party leader and Queens borough president, resigned both
positions and a month later committed suicide, amid federal
investigations of influence-peddling and corruption across
several city agencies, part of a series of scandals that
shook up the administration of Edward I. Koch, who was then
the mayor.

“There was not a hint of scandal or corruption under
Manton,” said Assemblyman Michael N. Gianaris, a Queens
Democrat who was once an aide in one of Mr. Manton’s
Congressional offices. “The party organization has been one
of the most unified in the State of New York and has been
very inclusive of the diverse population of Queens.”

State Senator John D. Sabini, a Queens Democrat who was
interim party chairman in Queens after Mr. Manes resigned,
until Mr. Manton was elected that September, praised his
colleague. “He was a quick wit and liked to take the
measure of someone’s character,” Mr. Sabini said. “He
wanted to be able to have a discussion with you and feel
you were not only his equal at the bargaining table, but
someone to be trusted.”

Thomas Joseph Manton was born in Manhattan on Nov. 3, 1932,
the only child of Thomas Manton, a plasterer from County
Roscommon, and Margaret Manton, of County Mayo. He grew up
in Astoria. He attended private Catholic schools in Queens
and Brooklyn and was a flight navigator in the Marine Corps
from 1951 to 1953.

He graduated from St. John’s University in 1958, where he
received his law degree in 1962, but held other jobs while
completing his studies. He was a police officer from 1955
to 1960, patrolling a beat in Harlem, and then a salesman
for the I.B.M. Corporation from 1960 to 1964. He was
admitted to the bar in 1963.

Mr. Manton ran for City Council in 1969, drawing support
from working-class white voters who were dissatisfied with
the liberal social policies of Mayor John V. Lindsay. He
served on the Council from 1970 to 1984. Mr. Manton ran for
Congress twice unsuccessfully, in 1972 and 1978, before
winning a seat in 1984, when he won an election to replace
United States Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro, the
Democratic vice presidential nominee that year.

During seven terms in Congress, from 1985 to 1998, Mr.
Manton was an important figure on reauthorization of the
Superfund program, which provides for the cleanup of
uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, but most
of his legislative initiatives were focused on local
issues: stopping the Long Island Rail Road from building a
waste-transfer station in western Queens, barring the
creation of composting plants for sewage sludge in New York
City and using amendments to the Clean Air Act to help
local businesses. He sponsored a law that made benefits to
permanently injured police officers on par with payments to
officers killed in the line of duty.

As co-chairman of the Congressional Ad-Hoc Committee on
Irish Affairs, Mr. Manton helped persuade President Bill
Clinton to meet with Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn
Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army, in

Mr. Manton exerted firm control over patronage jobs — at
the City Council, in the courts, at the borough president’s
office and on the Board of Elections — but he saw some of
his clout dry up after 1989. Mr. Manton backed Richard
Ravitch for mayor in a 1989 primary against the incumbent,
Mr. Koch, who was seeking a fourth term. Then he switched
sides and backed Mr. Koch at the last moment, only to see
David N. Dinkins win. True to form, Mr. Manton cultivated
Mr. Dinkins, and became a valuable ally.

In July 1998, Mr. Manton said he was retiring and
engineered the selection of Mr. Crowley, then a state
assemblyman, to replace him on the Democratic Party line
that fall. After his retirement, Mr. Manton joined a law
firm in Rego Park, Queens, that became known as Manton,
Sweeney, Gallo, Reich & Bolz.

According to a partner at the firm, Gerard J. Sweeney, Mr.
Manton retired in April of this year, after the state
courts adopted a new rule barring county party leaders from
working at firms that represent the estates of people who
die without wills or without close relatives. Mr. Manton’s
name was removed from the firm.

Mr. Manton is survived by his wife, the former Diane Mason
Schley, who is a retired nurse; their four children, Cathy
Manton Laurent of Schenectady, N.Y., Thomas K. Manton of
London, John T. Manton of Woodside, Queens, and Jeanne, of
Astoria; and four grandchildren.

A funeral is scheduled for Friday at the Roman Catholic
Church of St. Sebastian in Woodside. City officials have
directed flags at municipal buildings to be flown at half-
staff from today through Friday.


Look Back: Last Man Hanged As A Molly Maguire Said He Wasn't The Killer

By John Finnerty
The Daily Item
July 24, 2006

Editor's note: The Flashback series — which takes a look
back at significant local news and events of the past and
what has happened since — is an occasional Monday feature
in The Daily Item.

SUNBURY — The gallows stood in the yard of the brand-new
Northumberland County Prison on an autumn morning in 1879.

It waited for Peter McManus, and that morning, the
convicted man sat with a group that included the Rev.
Joseph Koch, pastor of St. Edward's Church in Shamokin, and
the Rev. W.F. McIlhenny, pastor of St. Michael's Church,
located right around the corner from the North Second
Street jail.

Mr. McManus dictated his last statement, copied down in
long-hand so that it could be read aloud as he stood on the
scaffold later that day.

The eight-page statement includes Mr. McManus' version of
the killing of Northumberland County Coroner Frederick
Hesser. Mr. McManus conceded he was there but was adamant
that he was not the man who did the killing.

The last statement concludes with the following exchange
between Mr. McManus and one of the witnesses:

"Mr. McManus, this is your dying testimony. Have you spoken
the truth?"

"Yes sir," replied Mr. McManus. "And I would give just the
same if I was dying."

Prompted by the Shamokin priest, Mr. McManus then forgave
those who had testified against him and added, "I give my
best respects to all in Sunbury, and all who ever helped me

According to legend, later that day, students in the school
across North Second Street from the jail all hustled
upstairs to watch the execution over the top of the 20-foot
high walls of the jail.

His statement was read aloud, and when the trap door
snapped open, Mr. McManus became something between a
footnote and a legend. He was the last man hanged as a
Molly Maguire.

The Molly Maguires were linked to the Irish-American
fraternal society, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and
ever since, the group's activities have been considered a
watershed moment in the struggle of the Irish to gain
acceptance in American society. But, interestingly, neither
of the two Northumberland County people who seem to have
devoted the most time to studying the history of the Molly
Maguires in the county are of Irish descent.

And neither has a very high opinion of the men who were
involved in Molly Maguire activities locally.

"The Shamokin Mollies were just a bunch of drunkards," said
Katherine Jaeger, the RD Shamokin resident who found Mr.
McManus' last statement while researching Molly Maguire
records in the State Archives.

Though most of the focus on the history and lore of the
Molly Maguires has focused on Carbon and Schuylkill
counties, the coal region of Northumberland County was a
hot-bed of Molly Maguire activity as well.

"The whole population was terrified. People were afraid to
leave their homes with money. People were getting way-laid
and beaten on a daily basis," Ms. Jaeger said. "It was a
big crime wave, and the 1870s method of dealing with that
was 'hang them all.' "

And it worked, she said.

The crime wave stopped.

Despite the link between Molly Maguire activity and labor
agitation between miners and the coal companies, one of the
most infamous Shamokin Molly Maguire crimes had nothing to
do with coal mining. That was the debacle at the Billman

It was this case that first attracted Ms. Jaeger's interest
in Molly Maguire lore. The farmhouse where the crime
happened still stands on Creek Road in East Cameron
Township. She'd been walking her dogs by the house and
noticed it was for sale. She asked a neighbor about the
pretty old farmhouse and learned that it came with a
colorful history.

The woman said, "My grandfather shot a Molly Maguire
there," Ms. Jaeger recalled.

The neighbor then recounted a harrowing tale of how as the
family sat in the kitchen one night, a bullet came through
a window. Then another came through the door. The farmer
told his children to huddle under the table while he got a
gun and returned fire.

"He wounded one and shot the other dead," Ms. Jaeger

Intrigued, Ms. Jaeger began to research the incident,
mostly expecting to find that the decades and generations
would have clouded the details. What she found, though,
when she tracked down the transcripts of the trials that
arose from the robbery, was that the woman's story was
about as true as her ancestor's aim.

"It took place pretty much as she said," Ms. Jaeger said.

Her research revealed that in the robbery, the men made off
with $2,075, but at least two of the robbers were shot by
the farmer and one them was killed.

And according to court testimony of former members of the
secret organization, the entire Shamokin division of the
Ancient Order of Hibernians was expelled from the
organization following the Billman Farm robbery.

Sunbury attorney Hugh Jones began studying the history of
the Molly Maguires 27 years ago. He was then employed by
county government and observed that the 100th anniversary
of Mr. McManus' hanging was coming up. Due to the 1970 film
about the group, there had been a resurgence of interest in
them, but little notice had been given to the McManus case.

He contacted the local media to make sure that the
anniversary wasn't missed and began searching for whatever
records of the McManus trial remained. He found the
original handwritten trial transcripts in the courthouse.
The Northumberland County Historical Society then sponsored
an effort, which eventually led to the videotaping of a re-
enactment of the trial.

But he shares Ms. Jaeger's dim view of the local Mollies.

"I don't see them as forerunners of the labor movement," he
said. "I see them as opportunists."

He pointed to the Hesser killing.

Mr. Hesser was working as a night watchman for a coal
company, the job he was doing when he was bludgeoned to
death one night in 1874. Like the robbery at the East
Cameron Township farm, Mr. Hesser's murder wasn't related
to the struggle between the miners and the coal companies,
Mr. Jones said.

Mr. Hesser was targeted because, in his role as coroner,
he'd held the inquest after an earlier killing and
testified at the subsequent trial which sent a Molly
Maguire to prison on a second-degree murder conviction

"(Mr. Hesser) wasn't any type of mover or shaker. He was
just a little guy," Mr. Jones said. "(The killing) was just

Ms. Jaeger and Ms. Jones do have somewhat differing views
of the legal system that convicted the men accused of Molly
Maguire-related crimes.

"There doesn't seem to be enough to send someone to the
gallows," she said. But at the same time, "You can't prove
their innocence by looking at trial transcripts."

But Mr. Jones said that in the Northumberland County
trials, the defendants were treated as well as any other
defendant would have been.

"McManus had three court-appointed attorneys and some of
them were fairly decent ... (The Molly Maguire) cases were
appealed and the verdicts stood," Mr. Jones said. "Time
heals everything, and time makes folk heroes out of people
who might not have been afforded that status in their own

But though time has passed, the memory of the Molly
Maguires lingers.

Former Northumberland County register and recorder
Frederick "Fritz" Reed remembers trying to add a Molly
Maguire chapter to a history of Shamokin he was helping
write in the 1960s.

It ended up being a short chapter.

"No one was willing to talk to me about it," he said.


Government Folds On Plans To Ban Casinos

Club regulation replaces outright ban

By Brian Hutton

Casinos are to be regulated rather than outlawed under new
government proposals.

There are presently around 20 gambling clubs in the state
and, although technically they are illegal, the 50-year-old
laws covering the area make it difficult to close them

Justice minister Michael McDowell signalled his intention
to enforce outright prohibition of casinos only last month.

Ireland is one of only two out of 25 member states in
Europe to outlaw such clubs.

The minister told the Dáil he had prepared new provisions
to copper-fasten the thrust of the Gaming and Lotteries Act
1956 and shut down casinos.

After a meeting with his fellow cabinet members yesterday,
Mr McDowell conceded the government is now preparing for a
regulatory commission.

“The government has asked me to come back with the
proposals for a regulatory approach rather than an outright
prohibition approach,” he said.

“The fact is, the government’s position is changing on this
issue,” he told RTÉ Radio.

“What I did was generate proposals to make the Gaming and
Lotteries Act philosophy effective but what I also decided
was to consult with my colleagues in government on whether
that was the path they wanted to go, was it unrealistic at
this stage to simply say that that kind of activity could
never happen in Ireland?

“But we’re not going to turn Ireland into a Las Vegas-type
gambling centre for Europe or anything like that,” he

Tánaiste Mary Harney denied that Mr McDowell was forced to
do a U-turn on his plans.

“I think the minister for justice brought forward his
proposals to government, he wanted an open discussion at
government, he wanted to take soundings from his cabinet
colleagues and the minister for justice accepted it,” she


New Era Of Random Breath Testing Arrives


Gardaí have described as "very satisfactory" the first
weekend of random breath testing, with arrests for drink-
driving made across the State, reports Kitty Holland

Under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act, which came
into force on Thursday, gardaí no longer have to "form an
impression" that a person may be driving while intoxicated
before asking them to take a breath test. They are
empowered to stop drivers at random.

On Friday night the traffic corps from Donnybrook Garda
station in Dublin manned two checkpoints - one at Sussex
Road outside the Burlington Hotel between 8pm and 9pm and
another in Ranelagh between 11pm and midnight. Over 50
drivers were stopped and one woman driver was arrested.

At the Ranelagh checkpoint drivers seemed good humoured
about being tested. Garda Ger Falvey said there had also
been no arguments at the Sussex Street checkpoint. "People
were asking a lot of questions, curious about the test, but
everyone was very co-operative."

The alcometer is a black, hand-held box into which a
disposable plastic mouthpiece is inserted.

"Each mouthpiece comes in a sealed wrapper and we show that
to the driver so they know it hasn't been tampered with,"
explains Garda Falvey.

Clicking a mouthpiece into the meter he offers it to The
Irish Times, advising that a deep breath be taken. A long
exhalation is necessary until a click is heard and the
meter gives a reading. There are three possible results -
zero, pass or fail.

A fail is anything above 35 micrograms of alcohol per 1,000
millilitres of breath.

That's about one pint of beer or a large glass of wine,
according to Insp Michael Cleary. "Though it can vary
depending on whether you've had a meal; how big you are."

The Irish Times registered a zero.

Five gardaí were at the checkpoint beneath the Luas bridge
in Ranelagh, including Insp Cleary who is observing the
first night his traffic corps is administering the new

As a garda stands in the centre of the road, using red
lights to indicate that a checkpoint is in operation, two
others stop cars travelling in each direction. Drivers are
asked to pull in and most are asked to take the test while
in their car.

The first driver is an elderly man travelling towards the
city centre. He registers a zero.

On the opposite side of the road is a young woman in an
open-top silver car. She takes the test and also registers
a zero. She smiles and waves "thanks" as she continues her

As soon as each test is completed, which takes about a
minute, gardaí stop the next vehicle and ask the driver to
take the test. The driver of a scooter is stopped and he
and his passenger asked to get off the motorbike and remove
their helmets. The driver, a young man in shorts and T-
shirt, registers a zero.

A number of taxi drivers are also stopped.

At 11.50pm a Wicklow registered car is stopped travelling
away from town. A woman in her 40s is the sole occupant.
She takes the test and is asked to step out of the car. She
is then seen going with the garda to the passenger door
where she reaches into the glove compartment and takes out
her driving licence.

The garda takes notes and they talk briefly, before he
calls Garda Falvey and talks to him for a minute. The
woman, dressed in green trousers and a white T-shirt is
silent and looks distressed.

Garda Falvey tells The Irish Times: "She has failed. She
says she has only had a glass of wine."

The woman's car keys are taken from her and she is brought
to the parked Garda car and told to sit in the back. She
then starts to cry, before being taken to Pearse Street
Garda station where she will take another test and may be
charged with drink-driving.

Under the old system, says Garda Falvey, she may not have
been suspected of drink-driving. She did not appear drunk.
"That's the benefit of this new testing. It's totally
random and it's totally merciless." The same unit was also
testing drivers at 10am yesterday on the Stillorgan dual-

© The Irish Times


Crew Of 'Asgard II' Sails To Success In Tall Ships Race


The captain and crew of the State's sail-training ship,
Asgard II, are celebrating a third placing in the 50th
anniversary tall ships race from England to Portugal,
writes Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

The gaff-rigged ketch, under the command of Capt Colm
Newport, beat larger vessels in its class, such as the
Russian ship Mir, to come in behind the Norwegian Christian
Radich in first place and the Danish Georg Stage.

Among the 25 crew and trainees on the Irish vessel was 70-
year-old English sailor Jane Long, who was cook on board
one of the vessels entered in the first race 50 years ago.

"I feel 10 years younger," Mrs Long, who lives near
Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, told The Irish Times from
Portugal, where the ship was berthed last night among a
fleet of over 50 vessels.

The Asgard II has come first and second in its class in
previous tall ships events, but the significance of this
placing in the first leg is that it is in a larger,
combined class, Capt Newport explained yesterday.

The revised Class A involves every square-rig ship over 40
metres in length. "It is a very good result when one
considers the competition we had," he said.

The 50th anniversary race took the same route as the first
- planned at a time when there were fears for the future of
such traditional wooden craft.

Morse code was the main means of communication at sea back
then, navigation was by sextant and stars, and crews were
almost completely cut off from the outside world until they
reached port.

"This time, with modern communications, we were in touch
with other vessels a lot more, and it was more intimate in
that way. However, as with that first race, we set out in
fog, and I was also on board a ship with people younger
than me," Mrs Long said.

Although only 20 at the time, her first tall ships
experience was with a British vessel called Theodora,
crewed by teachers and boys from Radley College.

"Most of the food we served up was from tins, because we
had no fridges or that kind of thing. There were also very
few women on any of the ships."

Capt Newport said that he was delighted to have Mrs Long on

The passage was marked by light winds initially and then by
violent thunderstorms off the Iberian coastline, he said.

The vessel will now cruise in company from Lisbon to Cadiz
in Spain. The final part of the race, from La Coruna in
Spain to Antwerp in Belgium, takes place next month.

Named after the Norse word for the home of the gods, Asgard
II is run by Coiste an Asgard and has places every sailing
season for young trainees. Its progress in the tall ships
race can be followed on

© The Irish Times

To Subscribe to Irish Aires News List, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.

Or get full news from Irish Aires Yahoo Group, Click here

To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste into a News Reader)

To July Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?