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July 31, 2006

Sectarian Campaign Concerns

News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 07/31/06
Sectarian Campaign Concerns
BN 07/31/06 Talks Planned To Calm Loyalist Tensions In Belfast
DI 07/31/06 No Compensation After Conviction Quashed
IC 07/31/06 Hunger Strike: A March To Remember
IC 07/31/06 Kieran's Sacrifice Recalled 25 Years On
IC 07/31/06 Mala Poist: Painful Memories Of Hunger Strikes
DU 07/31/06 DUP: Peter Hain Won’t Bluff The DUP
IC 07/31/06 Weekend Of Craic Agus Ceol To Honour Culture
IN 07/31/06 Opin: Tribute To The Unsung Heroes Of Peace Process
IN 07/31/06 Opin: Loyalist Used His Past For A Better Future
DU 07/31/06 Opin: DUP - Republicans Still Have Distance To Travel
RT 07/31/06 Bnk Of Ireland: Average House Price To Hit €400,000
BN 07/31/06 Racing Fans Gather For Galway Races
IN 07/31/06 Pupils With Top Grades Rejected By Grammars


Sectarian Campaign Concerns

By Staff Reporter

A Sinn Fein assembly member has claimed at least four
families in a mixed area of south Belfast have been
intimidated out of their homes in the last two weeks.

Alex Maskey said his constituency office was contacted by
four different families who claimed to have “suffered
sectarian intimidation and attacks”.

“My real concern is that a number of these incidents have
resulted in families having to move from their homes,” he

Mr Maskey said he hoped the incidents were not the “start
of an orchestrated campaign in the wider south Belfast

A police spokesman confirmed two panes of glass were
smashed at a house in Agra Street in the Ballinafeigh area
on July 21.


Talks Planned To Calm Loyalist Tensions In Belfast

31/07/2006 - 07:50:31

Tensions remain high in loyalist areas of north Belfast
today amid an internal UDA dispute sparked by the expulsion
of the organisation's local leadership last week.

The loyalist paramilitary group's so-called Inner Council
formally expelled brothers Ihab and Andre Shoukri last
Friday and replaced them with a new interim leadership.

Around 80 supporters of the pair allegedly attacked the
homes of rival UDA men on Friday night in response to the

On Saturday night, the organisation held a show of strength
in the Shankill Road area attended by hundreds of people.

The Inner Council says it wants the dispute resolved
peacefully and has already held talks with the PSNI and
Protestant clergymen with a view to calming the situation.

Further talks are also planned for later today, but the UDA
leadership has warned supporters of the Shoukris that it
will respond if there are further attacks, prompting fears
of another bloody loyalist feud.


No Compensation After Conviction Quashed


In 1977 I was charged with possession and IRA membership.
The sole evidence against me was a verbal admission which
two detectives said I had made but I always denied making.
No eyewitnesses, no guns, no forensic evidence and no
signed statements.

The judge at the original trial, after listening to these
two detectives swear under oath as to the authenticity of
their notes - notes that they swore they wrote during the
interview, and that the notes produced in court, were their
original notes - found me guilty and sentenced me to 12

I appealed and asked the DPP to release the detectives'
notes so that a handwriting expert could analyse them. They
refused and I lost the appeal.

In 1999 I petitioned the Criminal Cases Review Commission
(CCRC) to look into my case. A handwriting expert carried
out tests (exploratory spatial data analysis) on the
detectives' notes and found that they had rewritten their
notes. My conviction in 1977 was referred back to the court
of appeal and my conviction was quashed.

The Police Ombudsman's investigators questioned both
detectives under caution. One of the detectives was
medically unfit to be questioned, the other admitted
destroying evidence, keeping a pocket notebook, and
rewriting, not just in my case, but in most if not all the
cases he was involved in.

The Ombudsman's investigators recommended perjury charges
be brought against both detectives.

The DPP refused to charge them, refused to tell us why not,
and refused to give us the Ombudsman's report.

I have been denied legal aid and the secretary of state has
refused me compensation, saying it is not a miscarriage of
justice and that the detectives are not guilty of a serious

Contrary to recent media reports that I did not want to see
these men punished, I gave up all hope of these men ever
coming before a court a long time ago, due to all the
obstacles put in our way.

Who in my position would not want these men in the dock for
what they did to me, but I am realistic enough to know that
this will never happen.

My legal team have exhausted all avenues here, court case
after court case. At present the case is going to the House
of Lords.

The judicial system here, in all of the 30 years’
experience that I have had, is still the same.

I feel that I will never get justice in this part of the
country. I have resigned myself to the European Court of
Human Rights.

John Boyle


Hunger Strike: A March To Remember

Thousands to descend on West Belfast for rally to honour
hunger strikers

By Damian McCarney

Republicans were urged to turn out in strength for a march
which will form the centrepiece of the 25th anniversary
hunger strike commemorative events.

West Belfast will be the focus of the national
commemorations on August 13, as republicans from across the
country march to remember the 10 volunteers who died during
the protest in the H-Blocks in 1981.

At Thursday’s official launch of the march at the Roddy
McCorley’s Social Club on the Glen Road, former prisoners
and family members of the hunger strikers were among the
audience to hear prominent republicans speak of their
recollections of the momentous period in history.

Those present included representatives of the Hughes,
McElwee, Lynch and Hurson families, along with former
Armagh POW, Jennifer McCann.

Pat Sheehan, who took part in the 1981 hunger strike,
recalled the commitment the volunteers showed in taking a
stand against the British government’s policy of

“I was on hunger strike when it came to an end on October
3, 1981. I had spent 55 days on hunger strike and if anyone
appreciates what those lads went through, I certainly can.

“It is important, I believe, to remember the sacrifice of
those lads during the dark days of 1981.

“I am sometimes asked what state of mind you have to be in
to go on hunger strike and the answer is that you need to
have absolute and total focus and single-mindedness. You
cannot go with an attitude that you will go on it for a few
days or weeks and see how it goes.

“Very few people have that focus and single-mindedness to
go through with it and it is extraordinary that there were
10 men who were willing to die and sacrifice their lives
for their comrades in the blocks and their communities
outside for the sake of freedom for the people of this

Pat also had that remarkable quality which enabled him to
choose to take part in the hunger strike, being fully aware
of the consequences.

“It was a difficult time for me anyway as my sister was
diagnosed as having a terminal illness before I went on
hunger strike. For me to tell my parents that I was going
on hunger strike seems now, looking back on it, to be
callous. They already had one child who was facing death
and I was going down the same road.

“However, that is where the single-mindedness and focus
comes in and absolutely nothing could deflect me from that

The IRA officer commanding in Long Kesh at the time of the
hunger strikes, Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane, looked forward to
the 25th anniversary march to Casement Park on Sunday,
August 13.

“In every county of Ireland, local Hunger Strike
Commemoration Committees have been holding events to mark
this traumatic yet pivotal turning point in the course of
Irish history when the sacrifice of 10 young republicans
ensured that Thatcher’s government failed in its attempts
to crush the struggle for Irish freedom.

“Committees from throughout the 32 counties have also been
building and planning towards this major national event in
Belfast. The theme of the commemoration will be ‘Cuímhníonn
Glúinn/A Generation Remembers’ in which the story of the
hunger strike will be told through street theatre along
eight key points of the route from Dunville Park on the
Falls Road to Casement Park on the Andersonstown Road.

“This will be done in the form of stage acts and visual
drama, with each telling the story of a particular phase of
that time. This will be repeated by the performers at each
venue until the marchers have passed their spot.

“Different areas of Ireland have been designated with the
staging of different scenes with republicans from Tyrone
and Fermanagh re-enacting the elections of Bobby Sands and
Kieran Doherty and the entry of Sinn Féin into electoral

“The day’s events will culminate in a massive rally,
commemoration and concert headed by Frances Black and other
leading artists at Casement Park.”

Journalist:: Damien McCarney


Kieran's Sacrifice Recalled 25 Years On

by Francesca Ryan

The 25th anniversary of the death of Andersonstown hunger
striker Kieran Doherty occurs this week on August 2.

Known to most as ‘Big Doc’, Kieran was a dedicated
republican and, by all accounts, a brave and outstanding

But to Terry and Michael Doherty, Kieran was their younger
brother and, like most siblings, the brothers shared their
ups and downs.

Born in October 1955, Kieran was the third of six children
in the Doherty household in the Commedagh area of

A very active youth, Kieran participated in a variety of
sports and always met and excelled at any challenges that
were set before him.

A hero, a son, a brother

“He was a determined wee kid," said Terry, “anything he
did, he did it full-belt.

“I remember we used to go swimming when we were younger.
Before we went in he would always say ‘I'm going to swim X
amount of lengths', and he always did. Half the time he'd
nearly drown to get them done, but he would always finish

Kieran's tall, athletic frame led him to play under-18
Gaelic football for St Teresa's GAC at the tender age of
14. Playing alongside his older brother, Michael, Kieran
was elated to pick up a minor championship medal aged just

“Kieran played down the wing and he took no prisoners,"
remembers Michael. “At 6'2" he was a big fella and a great
asset to the team."

A reserved lad with a dry sense of humour, Kieran had a
close circle of friends with whom he enjoyed a good laugh.

“He wouldn't be the type to be holding court in a bar, he
wasn't that outgoing but he would always share a joke with
his friends," said Terry.

“He loved a good Guinness and we all used to go to the Ex-
Servicemen’s Club, it was known as the Burnt Cabin, in
South Link where we'd get a ‘crate on the slate' and have a
good dance. Don't get me wrong," he added, “myself and
Kieran used to fight the bit out too, we shared a room so
there was always a bit of sparring going on."

Life was turned upside down for the Dohertys with the onset
of internment in 1971, when the three brothers found
themselves behind the bars of Long Kesh.

“The Brits were always raiding the house in the early
1970s, it was normally the Green Jackets. When they arrived
my father used to have each one of us follow them into
different rooms to make sure they didn't plant anything,"
said Terry.

“Kieran always stood up to them and never took any cheek,"
added Michael. “I remember the Brits came to lift Kieran a
few weeks before his 16th birthday, my daddy had to get out
the birth certificate to prove he hadn't yet turned 16.

“Of course they came back for him a few weeks later but
we'd managed to get the news to him in time and he went on
the run in Limerick."

Kieran remained in Limerick for a few months but was eager
to return to Belfast where he played an integral role in Na
Fianna's Andersonstown brigade.

“We saw less and less of him," said Terry. “He was interned
between 1973 and 1975 and when he was lifted again in 1976
he spent almost two years on remand at the Crum before
going on the blanket in Long Kesh in 1978.

“He was a stubborn big fella and he always resisted when
the screws tried to search him, he would never look at them
when they spoke to him and he never complied with orders.

“There was one time they beat him so badly that he had to
go to hospital. He never told us that, we found out from
someone else."

The criminalisation of republican prisoners, the brutality
of the prison wardens and the five demands were the main
topics of conversation in comms Kieran sent to his family
in the late 1970s and 1980.

It came as no surprise, then, that Kieran was on the
shortlist for the 1981 hunger strike headed by Bobby Sands.

“We knew he was on the shortlist but we didn't know exactly
where he was on the list," said Michael. “I was walking
home from work on the Falls Road on May 22, 1981 when
someone told me that Kieran had replaced Ray McCreesh on
the hunger strike."

Making it clear to his grief-stricken family that he didn't
want to be taken off the strike, Kieran emphasised that he
didn't want to see anyone who didn't support him.

“He kept saying ‘Promise me that you won't take me off, if
I lose my faculties, you have to promise you won't take me
off the hunger strike'," recalls Michael.

In the first few weeks of the strike, the boys remember
their brother sitting up in his bed chatting. “Once he'd
asked about any political developments on the outside he
would just start having the craic. He'd sleg me about the
clogs I used to wear, he'd ask about different people in
the area and always asked about the Go-Sun Chinese in
Andytown," laughed Terry.

As time went by the Dohertys remained hopeful that a
breakthrough would arrive and Kieran could be taken off the
strike. Hopes soared when the 25-year-old was elected TD
for Cavan/Monaghan in June of 1981 with 9,121 first
preference votes.

“We all thought that was it," said Terry. “We thought that
would turn things around, it even gave Kieran a bit of hope
but there just wasn't enough done. The Irish government
could have put more pressure on Thatcher but they didn't,
they sat on their laurels."

As the weeks went by and Kieran grew weaker, his family
were summoned to Long Kesh 16 days before he died.

“He had such a big frame so it was terrible to see the
pyjamas hanging on him," said Terry. “He was extremely weak
so we'd have to lift him to move him, even then he was
making sure we wouldn’t take him off the strike if he went

An enduring memory for Michael was attending a Mass in the
prison presided over by Fr Tom Toner.

“I was doing a reading and Kieran was too weak to attend
the Mass but Micky Devine and Thomas McIlwee were there in
their wheelchairs. It was just heartbreaking to see."

Three days before his death, medical staff at Long Kesh
told the Doherty family Kieran's heart rate was up, a sign
that death was imminent. They asked again if the family
wanted to take Kieran off the strike, again they refused.

“We kept saying no because that was what Kieran wanted,"
said Michael. “He and Kevin Lynch had lasted longer than
the other hunger strikers and the screws would taunt us,
asking what vitamins we were slipping him."

Kieran died on August 2, 1981 after 73 days on strike. His
mother, Margaret, his sisters, Roisin and Mairead, and
Terry were there. His father, Alfie, and brothers, Michael
and Brendan, were on their way to the prison at the time.

“It was strange to watch," said Terry. “He would take a
deep breath and then exhale, then there would be nothing
for a while, his breaths got further and further apart,
then they stopped."

As the hearse brought Kieran's body home to Andersonstown,
the Dohertys got a glimpse of the support and sympathy that
was to be visited upon their Commedagh Drive home in the
weeks following his death.

“It was about 2am when the hearse was coming up Kennedy
Way, there were literally hundreds of people lining the
route to the house," said Michael. “Of course the Brits
were there too and began firing plastic bullets into the
crowd. It didn't deter the people from coming to my
mother's house."

Messages of support from France, Iran and the US, to name a
few, were delivered to Kieran's home. “The house never
stopped," said Michael, “there was even a group of herdsmen
who had travelled from Peru for the funeral and three
members of the Iranian Revolutionary Parliament came with
gifts. It was overwhelming and very emotional for all of

Twenty-five years on and the memories of a man they were
proud to call their brother are still as vivid for both
Michael and Terry.

“It's not something we'll ever get over, some days are
harder than others but it's a slow process," said Michael.

“With the anniversaries there is always something that will
take us back to 1981, whether it's meeting someone from
Kieran's campaign team or someone that knew him. I was at
an event in Cavan only last month and there were people in
their eighties coming up and saying they helped out in the
campaign. It's a nice feeling to have people remember him."

Despite Kieran's international status as one of Ireland's
bravest soldiers, for Michael and Terry he will always be
their young brother.

“We remember Kieran as this big, strong and determined
fella who had his own way of thinking, he was shy and
reserved but wouldn't be pushed around," said Michael. “A
brother is a brother you know," added Terry, “and that's
what he was to us.”

Journalist:: Francesca Ryan


Mala Poist: Painful Memories Of Hunger Strikes

August 1 and 2 will arrive this year and will bring with it
more painful memories of the 1981 hunger strike.

Tuesday will be the 25th anniversary of INLA volunteer
Kevin Lynch who died after 71 days of struggle on hunger
strike in the H Blocks.

Kevin Lynch was 25 years old when he joined the strikers.
His determination and strength of purpose while fasting had
been nurtured years before on the sports fields of south
Derry where the young Kevin had been a dedicated hurler for
St Canice’s in Dungiven.

Kieran Doherty TD died on August 2 1991. Kieran, or ‘Big
Doc’ as he was known due to his stature, had been a
republican activist from his teenage years and had suffered
seven years in jail between the ages of 16 and 25.

An Andersonstown man, Kevin went firstly to St Teresa’s PS
and then onto the Christian Brothers School on the Glen
Road. Kieran had been a part of the St Teresa’s club which
won the Antrim minor championship in 1971. His part in the
grim struggle of the 1970s cannot be underplayed, he was a
valued member of the IRA whose determination and drive saw
him involved in numerous operations against the Crown
forces on the streets of Belfast and particularly in West

After his capture while on active service, Kieran brought
the same ferocity to his struggle against the prison
regime. He immediately joined the blanketmen and was
subjected to fierce and repeated beatings by screws for his
resistance to their inhuman regime. Kieran volunteered
immediately for the second hunger strike knowing that this
time the strike would be seen to its conclusion. Kieran was
elected as TD for the Cavan/Monaghan constituency for Dáil
Éireann with 9,121 first-preference votes in the 1991

The Andersonstown ’81 Committee will be marking these
anniversaries with the vigil at the Busy Bee complex on
both days, a 24-hour solemn fast will be held by ex-

On both days a white line vigil will be held from 5pm to
6pm. A march will take place on Wednesday, August 2, from
Connolly House to Kieran Doherty’s memorial at Commedagh
Drive immediately after the white line vigil.

There will be a short ceremony to mark Kieran’s sacrifice.
The Andersonstown ’81 Committee would ask that as many
people as possible turn out to support the dedication and
courage of these young men.

Andersonstown ’81 Committee


DUP: Peter Hain Won’t Bluff The DUP

Lagan Valley DUP Assembly Member Edwin Poots has today said
that the Secretary of State Peter Hain cannot bluff the
unionist community into believing that the IRA has ended
its violence. Edwin Poots said,

“None of us should be surprised in the slightest that the
Secretary of State would try to have us believe that the
Provisional IRA is no longer active in terrorism and
criminality. Time after time, Mr Hain and the Government
of which he is a member have tried to convince us that the
republican movement has put its violent past behind it only
to have that judgment thrown back in their face by the
likes of the Northern Bank robbery or the Castlereagh break

Where on earth is Mr Hain getting his security assessment
from? Surely he hasn’t spoken to the Police who have in
the last 48 hours had to warn the sister of IRA informant
Martin McGartland that there is a threat to her safety. He
obviously hasn’t read the report of the Northern Ireland
Affairs Committee Report into Organised Crime in the
Province. This Committee, comprised of members of all
political parties including the Secretary of State’s own,
concluded after extensive evidence gathering that all
paramilitary groups are still heavily involved in organised
crime and that paramilitary groups from both sides of the
community continue to exercise control over those
communities. In relation to the IRA specifically, the
Committee found that the Provos are still extorting money
from construction sites. Is Mr Hain in disagreement with
every Party at Westminster and MPs from his own party on
this issue? The Secretary of State is also guilty of both
pre-empting and undermining the ongoing work of the
Independent Monitoring Commission.

It would be insulting the intelligence of the community to
try to pass IRA activity off as the actions of individuals.
Such excuses will not wash. All republican terror and
crime must end.

Given the Government’s track record in gauging the
republican movement’s intentions, the DUP will not be
bluffed into accepting Peter Hain’s assessment. We will
make our judgement on the IRA’s activity based upon a wide
range of sources. The DUP will not be falling for the
propaganda of the Government. We remain true to our
manifesto commitments that there can be no place in the
government of Northern Ireland for Sinn Fein whilst the IRA
remains in existence and engaged in illegal activity."


Weekend Of Craic Agus Ceol To Honour Culture

The role of the Irish language in the republican struggle
was the focus of Sinn Féin’s annual Slogadh Festival at the

A series of discussions and debates, organised by the
party’s cultural department, kicked off with the unveiling
of a Sinn Féin mural facing An Culturlann by Bairbre de
Brún MEP on Friday night.

Discussion on the role of women in the struggle, the Easter
Rising, the cultural revival and the 1981 hunger strikes
took place later on Friday with Caitríona Ruane MLA,
Lucilita Breathnach, Aengus O'Snodaigh TD and Jake Mac
Siacais, while Paul Brady and Friends ended the night with

Speaking to the Andersonstown News, Ms de Brún said it is
important that the event is held in West Belfast, where the
Irish language movement has always been strong and is
continuing to grow.

“It’s vital that Irish language speakers and activists meet
to discuss how we can support the Irish language and
educate our children through it.”

On Saturday afternoon, Gerry Adams opened a debate at the
Roddy McCorley Club on the Gaelicisation of Sinn Féin,
while a debate on language rights followed on Saturday
evening with the SDLP’s Dominic O'Brolchain, Marcas Mac
Ruari and Daithi Mac Carthaigh.

Local artists closed the evening with Irish music and

Yesterday, a cultural bus tour around North and West
Belfast murals and cultural centres ended off the weekend
of events.

Journalist:: Staff Journalist


Opin: Tribute To The Unsung Heroes Of Peace Process

James Kelly

Someday in the future a book will be written about the
peace makers, the heroes for peace, who confronted hatred
and prejudice time and again to bring to an end the
nightmare of the north’s 30 years’ so-called war.

As a newsman I remember those days, one horror piled on
another, as the bombers pursued their pitiless tit-for-tat
outrages bringing the total dead, including innocent women
and children, to more than 3,000 in total, not to mention
the hundreds maimed for life.

When it seemed nobody had a clue how to halt the madness in
the killing fields a handful of devoted Christians across
the great divide were straining every nerve and commitment
to devise means to bridge the abyss in human relations
which had brought this great tragedy upon us.

They were unknown to us at the time but later emerged as
very special chosen individuals that I like to think were
sent to us in a time of great peril.

One of them was Bill Arlow, Canon William Arlow, who has
died, aged 79, and to whom Archbishop Eames, Primate of the
Church of Ireland paid such a generous tribute this week
for his ”tremendous moral courage” in helping to silence
IRA guns in the 1970s. Canon Arlow, as assistant secretary
to the Irish Council of Churches bravely led a party of
senior Protestant churchmen to a secret meeting with the
IRA leadership in the village of Feakle, Co Clare.

The group brought with them a set of proposals as a basis
for a permanent ceasefire.

The meeting was disrupted as a result of a gardai raid
following a tip-off but the IRA company led by Daithi
O’Conaill, chief of staff made good their escape.

Among the other churchmen present were Dr Eric Gallagher,
former Methodist President and Dr Arthur Butler, Church of
Ireland Bishop of Conor.

The meeting was not without result being followed by a
temporary Christmas ceasefire.

In opinion I was writing at the time I received much
encouragement from both, Bill Arlow and Eric Gallagher, and
I admired their moral courage in withstanding the
inevitable loyalist hostile reaction to their efforts for

Bill, in 1978, invited a leading German Lutheran and
Ecumenical activist to help towards a cessation of the
Irish conflict by contacting paramilitaries on both sides.
Berhard Spiecker, a lawyer and resident in Duisburg, had
been active during the Hunger Strike and had met Gerry
Adams, Cardinal O Fiach and Archbishop Runcie of

The upshot eventually was a secret meeting in Duisburg in
October 1988 attended by Austin Currie of the SDLP, Jack
Allen, chairman of the Unionist party, Peter Robinson,
deputy leader of the DUP, and Gordon Mawhinney, deputy
leader of the Alliance party.

It was at this meeting that Fr Alec Reid from Clonard
Monastery, who later became a prominent peace maker,
emphasised that an important element of opinion was missing
and that the republicans had to be involved.

Austin Currie, in his book All Hell Will Break Loose, later
claimed that as a result of a leaked version of the
meeting, in a BBC report giving an exaggerated version the
exercise, which could have ended the log-jam, unfortunately
ended in controversy and recriminations.

But it was not in vain as we know from subsequent events
involving Bill Arlows counterparts at Clonard, Fr Alec Reid
and Fr Gerry Reynolds, and the sensational Hume-Adams
accord pointing the way to peace to the two governments.

By Christmas 1993 came the Downing street declaration,
which Seamus Mallon said contained not a whisker of
difference from the Hume-Adams accord.

We thought the end was in sight but the violence continued
a frustrating eight months until at last on Wednesday,
August 31 1994 the IRA announced an ”unconditional

The rest is the unfinished business of today. We owe a lot
to the peacemakers, living and dead.

One of them was Bill Arlow who died peacefully in hospital
on Tuesday and buried today in Bangor, Co Down, in the
presence of his wife Patricia and loving family. One of the
heroes of the peace process.


Opin: Loyalist Used His Past For A Better Future

By Roy Garland

Senior loyalist Billy Mitchell, who died 11 days ago,
worked with LINC (Local Initiatives for Needy Communities),
an initiative of the Church of the Nazarene, fostering
peace, reconciliation and social justice.

Nazarene evangelism is closely linked with a compassionate
ministry for justice, freedom and dignity for all,
especially for those who cannot speak for themselves.

This is a fitting description of Billy Mitchell’s work.
Billy was associated with evangelicalism since his mother
was a Baptist Sunday school teacher in the 1940s. Through
listening to Ian

Paisley as a teenager he became interested in politics and
joined the Ulster Protestant Volunteers. By the early 1970s
he was a senior UVF officer and one of loyalism’s most
radical thinkers, churning out new ideas and questioning
tribal unionism.

He was acutely conscious that old-style unionism had
neglected, marginalised and abused working people. He
rejected the dangerous nonsense preached in his name and
tried to foster a new rational unionism. But his rethinking
took place while loyalists were under vicious attack from
republicans and many unionists tried to damn them as weak
on the Union. Ministers in the Irish government lent
credence to unionist paranoia through the arms plot while
the British government appeared weak and vacillating and
Paisley thundered on and on. Despite the risks, Billy
Mitchell engaged with all shades of opinion and realised
that Cathal Goulding, leader of the Official IRA, was
trying to take the gun out of politics. Better
relationships were formed with members of the Workers Party
though Billy sometimes questioned their stance as perhaps
more dangerous than that of the Provisionals. He appealed
to the latter to stop killing UDR men and women and
encouraged loyalists to stop attacks on Catholic public
houses and break the connection with sectarianism – with
limited success.

Billy Mitchell underestimated the value of his early work,
for which in any case, he received little thanks. He
claimed his progressive views flowered after imprisonment
in 1976 but he had already espoused radical ideas before
this. Despite terrible hardship, prison proved in some
respects liberating. It removed Billy from the turmoil of
conflict and gave him space to think. He could bounce ideas
off Gusty Spence, David Ervine, Billy Hutchinson and others
critically analysing how and why they had been led into a
violent cul-de-sac. Nothing was considered sacred or beyond
criticism, least of all the baleful influence of what
passed for traditional unionism.

Billy had no Damascus Road conversion but came to a gradual
realisation that we are spiritual beings before making a
reasoned rediscovery of his spiritual roots. By November
1979 he made a conscious decision to dedicate his life to
Jesus Christ and allowed his social and political actions
to be moulded and informed by spiritual values. When Billy
emerged from jail in 1990 fellow loyalist Eddie Kinner
asked if he was interested in politics. He responded
hesitantly but was favourably impressed and joined the PUP.
Billy never looked back. He could have chosen an easier
path but he enjoyed working with all sides out of a deep
love for his people, the disadvantaged working- class.

This was his background, which he never forgot.

Some years ago he and I shared a platform at a New Lodge
Festival with Gerry Adams in the audience. Billy spoke
directly from the podium, “Sure you must be an Ulster-Scot
with a name like Adams.”

Gerry responded: “No, I’m Scotch-Irish,” which brought
hearty laughter from the audience.

Billy Mitchell was warm-hearted. He respected others,
including those who talk, or fail to talk, about bringing
loyalists in from the cold. But for Billy the major
unionist parties had become cold houses once unionists
questioned the supposed wisdom of which they claimed to be
the exclusive custodians.

In Billy’s funeral cortege, priests and clergy, members of
Sinn Fein and other republicans, ordinary people, Catholic
and Protestant, from north and south, mingled peaceably
with hundreds of UVF men deep in thought. With the
exception of one UUP MLA and David Ervine MLA, no elected
politician or leader of any other political party was to be

Things have changed – but not that much – since Billy
Mitchell and others during the early 70s sought better
futures for us all.


Opin: DUP: Republicans Still Have Distance To Travel

Strangford DUP MP Iris Robinson has said that one year on
from the IRA statement which claimed it was ending its
campaign, the republican movement still has a considerable
distance to travel on the path to being demonstrably
committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.
Iris Robinson said,

“A year has passed since the IRA claimed that its criminal
and terrorist campaign was to end. Those twelve months
have only served to prove that, as always, the republican
movement are fonder of words than deeds.

We do not deny that some significant progress has been
made. it is only because of the determined policy of the
DUP that we will accept nothing less than a complete end to
all republican terrorism and criminality that Sinn Fein/IRA
has moved this far. The days of pushover unionism have
gone and never again will unionism accept second class
standards of democracy. Yet, there is still so much more
left for Sinn Fein/IRA to do before it conclusively proves
that it is committed to advancing its political aims by
democratic and peaceful methods alone.

The Secretary of State might foolishly want to unilaterally
declare his belief that the IRA is no longer involved in
terror or crime but everyone else in Northern Ireland knows
the truth. In the last few days alone, we have witnessed
with the Police warning to Martin McGartland’s sister, how
republican terrorists are still very much in existence.
the recent report of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select
Committee – which was fully endorsed by MPs from the Labour
Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, the
DUP, the SDLP and the UUP – found that the IRA remains up
to its necks in all manner of organised crime. The
Secretary of State has saw fit to make his views on IRA
illegality known in spite of all this evidence and without
any report from the Independent Monitoring Commission. Mr
Hain would do well to refrain from undermining the Police,
Parliament and the IMC.

Regardless of those who would seek to see us settle for
less than zero tolerance, we will not do so. Democratic
Unionists have a mandate to ensure that only those
committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means and
who support law and order will be in the government of
Northern Ireland. Unlike other unionists, we will persist
until the job is done and Northern Ireland has a stable and
wholly democratic basis upon which to prosper."


Bnk Of Ireland: Average House Price To Hit €400,000

31 July 2006 10:58

A property review published by the Bank of Ireland today
forecasts that the average price of a house will climb
towards €400,000 by the end of this year.

This figure is much higher that earlier reports had

The bank's Irish Property Review forecasts that 2006 will
set new records for house prices, house building and
mortgage lending, though price growth will slow towards the
end of the year.

The European Central Bank is meanwhile expected to increase
interest rates again on Thursday.


Racing Fans Gather For Galway Races

31/07/2006 - 09:11:36

Ireland's racing community begins its annual pilgrimage to
Ballybrit today for the start of the Galway Races.

The festival is taking place for a full seven days this
year for the first time in its history.

The total prize money for the week is €1.7m and the
organisers say they are expecting a record attendance.

Tonight's racing gets underway at 5.10pm, with the feature
of the day - the GPT Hanidcap - taking place at 5.45pm.

The blue riband William Hill Galway Plate takes place on


Pupils With Top Grades Rejected By Grammars

By Simon Doyle, Education Correspondent

Dozens of star pupils are being rejected by grammar schools
despite scoring the top 11-plus grade. While government
says there are 50,000 empty desks in schools, some grammars
are continuing to turn away children with As because there
is no room.

Such rejections are angering parents who are being told
that falling pupil numbers should guarantee their children
entry to their first choice post-primary schools.

Many grammar schools are trawling deeper to fill all their
available places – pupils who score Ds in their 11-plus are
often accepted.

But educationalists said it was wrong to give parents the
impression that places were always available when many
schools were still oversubscribed with As.

It is also feared the banning of academic selection and
introduction of new admissions criteria will make it
increasingly difficult for grammars to choose their pupils.

Of the 38 post-primary schools in Belfast, 15 were
oversubscribed this year. Aquinas, Rathmore and Methodist
College all turned away grade As.

More than 30 children presenting the top 11-plus grade to
Rathmore were rejected and forced to find places elsewhere
– 178 out of 212 pupils with As were accepted.

Some children were, however, accepted with lower grades
which were upgraded due to special circumstances, according
to figures from Belfast Education and Library Board.

These included pupils who were entered for the 11-plus but
were unable to participate due to “unforeseen and serious
medical problems” and children who transferred from schools
outside the north.

Rathmore filled 178 of its total 180 first year places with
pupils who achieved As.

Of the remaining two pupils, one achieved a B1 while the
other did not take the test.

Similarly, Methodist College rejected As but gave places to
23 pupils who scored lower grades due to special

The Department of Education estimates that there are about
4,000 empty desks in Belfast post-primary schools.

But Finbarr McCallion, secretary of the Governing Bodies
Association, a group which represents Northern Ireland
grammar schools, said this was no comfort to those denied

He dismissed claims that grammars were becoming more
comprehensive in intake adding that many schools were still
struggling to accommodate grade A pupils.

“The number of pupils at 11 is almost identical to the
number there was in 1985. The only real difference in that
the integrated group is bigger and have taken pupils out of
secondary schools,” he said.

“There are grammar schools that are taking Bs and Cs but
they have been taking them for 20 years.

“It is not an easy scenario and it is a major concern now
that new admissions arrangements are coming. One of the
saviours of the grammar school is now gone.”

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