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August 22, 2006

Call For Calm After Hatchet & Hammers Attack

News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 08/22/06 Call For Calm After Belfast 'Hatchet And Hammers' Attack
SF 08/22/06 SF To Meet Parades Commission On Ballymena Parades Issue
CP 08/22/06 Jean McBride Charges Aegis With Wanton Murder In Iraq
BB 08/22/06 60 Cars Targeted At Graveyards
IT 08/23/06 Things Get Heated In The Dome-& That's Just The Audience
IT 08/23/06 Ronnie Drew On Hand To Make Lasting Impression


Call For Calm After Belfast 'Hatchet And Hammers' Attack

22/08/2006 - 14:56:00

An appeal for calm was issued today to a community in west
Belfast which witnessed an horrific brawl in which a man
was attacked with a hatchet and shot at.

Sinn Féin councillor Marie Moore called for no repeat of
the gruesome incident in the Turf Lodge area on Saturday
which also saw the man being run over with a car.

The victim, who was in his fifties, was taken to hospital
after also being battered with hammers in Norglen Drive.

Eyewitnesses said he had a foot-long gash in his back.

He was discharged from the Royal Victoria Hospital but no
complaint was made to the police about the incident.

Ms Moore said: “The use of knives or weapons in this sort
of way is completely unacceptable to people in the area. We
would appeal for calm and for no repeat of the incident
over the weekend.”

Police confirmed they were alerted to the incident in the
staunchly republican area.

“It was alleged that a number of people were fighting with
hatchets,” a PSNI spokesperson said. “However no formal
complaint has been made to police.”

Neighbours claimed the dispute may have been sparked by a
row over a dog. It soon intensified as a car was rammed
into another vehicle in the same street.

One of those who watched said a man produced a gun and shot
at the victim as he ran to his house.

“It was terrifying. I went into shock,” the woman said. “He
was trying to crawl away but was getting whacked with a
hatchet, taking lumps out of him. His back was opened

Anxious residents claimed retaliation was inevitable.

The incident also triggered calls from a nationalist SDLP
councillor for more co-operation between the community and
the PSNI to tackle knife crime.

A knife amnesty over a three-week period in May and June
this year saw 886 weapons handed in to police.

Senior officers said over the period there was a 30% drop
in knife crime. Councillor Tim Attwood said people needed
to bear in mind the risks.

“The knife amnesty was quite successful and that type of
approach needs to be encouraged,” he said.

“These dangerous knives need to be taken out of the
community. We need a legislative change preventing the sale
of lethal knives.

“There are concerns that there’s been a rise in knife
attacks in Belfast and across the north. We need to
challenge this knife culture that exists, especially at
weekend when people have been taking drink.”

The minimum age to buy a blade is to rise to 18 under
official plans.

Approximately 1,200 knife-related crimes occur across the
North every year.

The amnesty followed the revelation that knife crime had
doubled in nearly a decade. Blades were dumped at
designated bins in civic amenity sites during the amnesty.


Sinn Féin To Meet The Parades Commission On Ballymena Parades Issue

Published: 22 August, 2006

Speaking ahead of a party meeting with the Parades
Commission tomorrow regarding a continuous Loyalist parade
in Ballymena, Sinn Féin North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan
has said, 'I welcome the fact that the Parades Commission
are finally beginning to realise the seriousness of the
issues that surround loyalist band parades in the town.

Mr McGuigan said:

"Obviously I welcome the fact that the Parades Commission
are finally realising the seriousness of the issues that
surround loyalist band parades that pass the north end of

"We in Sinn Féin have always said that people have the
right to march and participate in parades but the issue in
Ballymena is that there are those in the unionist community
who wish to use this as an excuse to coat-trail past
Nationalist homes and intimidate the locals.

"Ballymena is a predominantly unionist town and there is
ample geography within it for the bandsmen to parade
peacefully and with the full support of the host community.
This can be done without venturing into the Nationalist
North end of the town and seeking confrontation from that

"The Parades Commission and the Governments clearly need to
understand the issues, so I would ask them to make a
determination that not only entitles people the right to
march, but entitles the Nationalist people to live in their
homes without the fear of unnecessary intimidation and
Unionist coat-trailing exercises." ENDS


"There's No Authority Over Them"

Bereft Belfast Mother Charges Private Security Firms With Wanton Murder In Iraq

By Eamonn McCann

The mother of a teenager shot dead by British soldiers in
Belfast has launched a campaign for an inquiry into alleged
killing of civilians by private consultants in Iraq.

The woman is Jean McBride, the mother of 18-year-old Peter
McBride, shot dead by members of the Scots Guards regiment
in the New Lodge Road area in September, 1992. The men’s
commander, Lt. Col. Tim Spicer, now heads the company at
the centre of the Iraq allegations.

In June, the Pentagon announced that an inquiry had cleared
Spicer’s company, Aegis Defence Sevices, of shooting up
civilian vehicles in Baghdad. However, a former British
paratrooper working for Aegis at the time says that the
inquiry was a whitewash. He claims that, although he had
witnessed the shooting and possessed video-tape of it,
repeated offers of evidence were refused.

Now, Jean McBride has written to a United Nations working
group on the use of mercenaries asking for a new
investigation. The former para who worked for Aegis, Rod
Stoner, says that he will testify to any new inquiry.

UK-based Aegis is the largest private security company
operating in Iraq. Stoner resigned from the company last
October last year following a dispute over an Aegis
employees’ website which Spicer claimed was damaging the
company. In an e-mail to Spicer at the time, Stoner denied
that he intended to post “videos taken by your teams
showing innocent Iraqis being shot up and in some cases
killed.” However, after leaving the company, he posted the
video on the website.

Stoner says he was the “team leader” in the sports utility
vehicle from which the shooting took place.

The three-and-a-half minute video contains four clips in
which automatic fire is directed at civilian cars
travelling behind the SUV. One clip shows a white car
apparently drifting out of control and then coming to a
stop as it is raked with machine-gun fire. Another shows
bullets splattering the bonnet and windshield of a Mercedes
which crashes into another car. A number of people are seen
running from the other car. No one emerges from the

The video is shot from inside the SUV as it travels along
“Route Irish,” the eight-mile carriageway between Baghdad
airport and the city. A sound-track features Elvis Presley
singing “Mystery Train.”

The Derry-based human rights group, the Pat Finucane
Centre, learned of the Pentagon inquiry in May from
Mitchell Reiss, the Bush administration’s special envoy on
the North. The Centre’s director Paul O’Connor and Jean
McBride had met with Reiss in Belfast to protest against
the Pentagon’s employment of Spicer’s company.

Said Jean McBride afterwards: "I told the ambassador that
his government would not take kindly to the Irish or
British governments doing business with someone who
justified the murder of a US citizen, and that I didn't
take kindly to the US government doing business with
someone who has justified the shooting, in the back, of my
unarmed 18-year-old son. “When we then brought up the Iraq
video, Reiss told us there was a Pentagon investigation
into it already under way and that I would be informed of
the outcome.”

The video had been shown on More4 News in Britain on March
30 . The More4 bulletin also included an interview with
Stoner. In the High Court in London on April 6, Aegis
obtained an injunction compelling Stoner to take down the

Following coverage of the Finucane Centre’s meeting with
Reiss the following month, Stoner contacted the Derry group
by e-mail, saying that he had made “repeated requests [to
Aegis] to be put in contact with those within the Pentagon
responsible for the investigation,” but had had no
response. He said that he believed that none of the other
occupants of the SUV had been interviewed, either: these
included the alleged shooter, a South African ex-British
Army soldier.

On June 1, the Centre e-mailed Reiss: “This man has
informed us that he is a former Aegis employee, Mr. Rod
Stoner. He has informed us that he was present in the
vehicle when the shooting occurred and that he was
responsible for posting it on the website. Mr. Stoner has
informed us that it is his understanding that none of those
present in the vehicle have been contacted by the Pentagon,
or indeed by any official investigating the video.” Stoner
was available to give evidence, the PFC added. The e-mail
was copied to the Inspector General of the US Army, Lt.
Gen. Stanley Green.

On June 9, a Margaret Baines of Lt. Gen. Green’s office
acknowledged receipt of the e-mail.

In Baghdad the following day, June 10, the Criminal
Investigation Division (CID) of Green’s department
announced that its inquiry had been completed and had not
found “any potential criminality that falls within CID’s
investigative purview...No further investigative
effort...was warranted.”

Aegis issued a statement in London on June 11 welcoming the
verdict and referring to its own, earlier investigation
which, it said, had concluded that, “The films were
recorded during Aegis’ legitimate operations....and the
incidents recorded were within the rules for the use of
force.” Aegis had not previously published these finding
but said now that it had passed them to the US

Stoner has told the PFC that Aegis “showed no interest” in
interviewing him during its investigation, and had not
interviewed any of his colleagues who had been in the SUV.

Jean McBride said last week: “The truth seems to be that
there was no inquiry. If you don’t interview people who are
offering eye-witness evidence, you aren’t inquiring.”

Mrs. McBride and the PFC wrote last week to Armanda
Benavides de Perez, Colombian chairwoman of the UN’s new
Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries (WGUM), asking her
to consider whether the issues arising from the Aegis video
come within the working group’s remit. The WGUM was
established on June 16 at the inaugural meeting in Geneva
of the Human Rights Council, (presided over by Kofi Annan,)
which has replaced the long-standing UN Human Rights

“We are not letting go of this,” says Jean McBride. “A man
who praised the murderers of my son and who has since been
involved in very dubious activities around the world is now
running an operation for the US in Iraq in which more
innocent people are seemingly being gunned down.

“We will be actively seeking support for an inquiry by Ms.
De Perez from politicians and others in Ireland, Britain,
the US and elsewhere. How can we talk about human rights
and the rule of law if people like Tim Spicer are allowed
to defend murder in Northern Ireland and then go on to
inflict the same attitudes elsewhere?”

Eighteen-year-old father-of-two Peter McBride was shot in
the back by Scots Guardsmen Mark Wright and James Fisher in
north Belfast on September 4th 1992. In February 1995,
Wright and Fisher were convicted of murder and sentenced to
life. The High Court and Court of Appeal in Belfast and the
House of Lords upheld the verdicts. The pair was freed by
Northern Secretary Mo Mowlam in September 1998, in advance
of releases under the Belfast Agreement.

In November 1998, an army board accepted Wright and Fisher
back into the regiment. The men’s commander, Col. Spicer,
told the board that he’d arrived at the scene shortly after
the shooting and that: “It was my inclination that (the
soldiers) should be rearmed, re-zero their weapons and in
my view return to the streets.” Tne soldiers, he added, had
been “acting entirely in good faith and, in my view, in
complete accordance with the Rules of Engagement.”

Jean McBride has campaigned to expose what she says is
retrospective complicity by the British authorities in her
son’s death. She and the Pat Finucane Centre have lobbied
the Dublin Government and parliamentarians in Europe and
traveled to the US seeking support from members of

In December 2000, a motion condemning the return of Wright
and Fisher to their regiment was passed unanimously in the
Irish parliament, Dail Eireann.

In June 2003, Peter McBride’s sister, Kelly, stood in a by-
election in Brent East, London, to highlight the case. Lib
Dem Sarah Teather, who won the seat, has since been a vocal
supporter of the campaign.

In April 2005, Ms. Teather and London Mayor Ken Livingstone
were among politicians who condemned the award of Iraq
contracts to Aegis, citing Spicer’s role in the McBride

After leaving the British Army in 1994, Spicer, with former
Scots Guards colleague Simon Mann and others, set up
Executive Outcomes, providing security for business and
government interests. Executive Outcomes won contracts in
countries including Angola, Rwanda, Burundi and Sierra

In October 1996, Spicer and Mann established Sandline
International, which was hired the following year by the
government of Papua New Guinea to suppress a revolt on
Bougainville, site of the world’s largest copper mine.
However, the revolt spread, the government fell and Spicer
was briefly jailed. Backed by the British Government, SI
collected an $18 million fee from the new government.

In 1998, Sandline organised an arms shipment to Sierra
Leone in defiance of a UN embargo. It later emerged that
British and US officials had secretly given Sandline the
go-ahead. Britain’s High Commissioner in Sierra Leone,
Peter Penfold, resigned.

In September 2004, Mann was sentenced to seven years in
prison in Zimbabwe for attempting to buy arms to overthrow
the government of Equatorial Guinea.

Spicer had meantime, in 2002, founded Aegis Defence
Services. The company won a number of contracts in Iraq
following the April 2003 occupation. In May 2004, the US
Army gave Aegis a $293 contract to coordinate all PSC
operations in Iraq: this followed the lynching of four US
contractors who had strayed into Fallujah. Last year, Aegis
was hired by the UN to provide security during the October
referendum and December elections. Aegis’s current Iraqi
contracts total more than $400 million. Spicer stepped down
late last year as Aegis chairman, but remains CEO and owns
40 percent of the company.

There are 25,000 private security contractors involved in
the Iraq occupation---the second-biggest contingent after
the Americans. Many earn $1,000 a day: 341 have been
killed. They operate under rules of engagement drafted by
the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in 2003. CPA
“Order No. Seven” guarantees them immunity under Iraqi law.

US Brigadier-General Karl Horst told the Sunday Times last
October: “These guys run loose in this country and do
stupid stuff. There’s no authority over them...They shoot
people and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It
happens all over the place.”

Fatal incidents have been reported. In February, French
agency AFP reported two unarmed Iraqis killed in a passing
taxi by contractors guarding a US office in Kirkuk. No
overall figures are available of casualties of PSC actions.

Last year’s UN contracts significantly boosted Aegis’s
standing, and may have helped attract new board members
announced in November. These include leading British
figures Field Marshall Lord Inge, former Chief of the
Defence Staff, who took over as chairman, Brigadier James
Ellery, former UN administrator in Sierra Leone, Nicholas
Soames MP, former Armed Forces Minister, General Sir Roger
Wheeler, former Chief of the General Staff and Sir John
Birch, former deputy UK ambassador to the UN. Robert
McFarlane, national security adviser to President Ronald
Reagan, now advisor to the government of Vladimir Putin,
also joined the Aegis board.

The “Route Irish” video can be viewed at scroll to “Under the Aegis.”

Eamon McCann can be reached at


60 Cars Targeted At Graveyards

Almost 60 vehicles have been broken into at churches and
cemeteries in County Donegal since the start of the year,
the Irish police have said.

Gardai believe one gang is responsible for most of the
break-ins and think they are based in Northern Ireland.

The latest incidents took place at the weekend when two
cars were broken into at different graveyards in

A man and woman were seen in the area at the time driving a
Northern Ireland registered car.

Detective Sergeant Michael Donaghue of the Garda said that
while the crimes are likely to be opportunistic there is
also the possibility they could be planned.

"It more than likely is opportunistic but the possibility
they're listening to death messages on the radio - we
couldn't rule that out," he said.

"There have been 57 similar type crimes in the division
since the beginning of the year.

"You come to pay your respects at a graveyard, you're not
thinking about the security of your car. You think that
nobody's going to break into your car at a graveyard

Seamus O'Donnell

"We believe that the gang responsible for it are presently
based in Northern Ireland. We believe they are responsible
for most of the crimes."

Seamus O'Donnell's van was broken into at Cornwall cemetery
in Letterkenny while he was visiting his parents' grave -
just two days after his mother was buried.

Personal belongings, including his phone, were stolen. The
phone contained text messages of support from friends
following his mother's death.

His niece's car was also broken into after another family

"You come to pay your respects at a graveyard, you're not
thinking about the security of your car. You think that
nobody's going to break into your car at a graveyard," Mr
O'Donnell said.

"They have to be scum to break into cars at graveyards.
It's a total lack of respect for people saying prayers at


The mayor of Letterkenny, Ciaran Brogan, who is a friend of
Mr O'Donnell, said people in the town were angry about the

"It's very disturbing for us in Letterkenny and we want to
send out a strong message that we'll not tolerate this sort
of behaviour.

"We've a very good community here, a good community spirit
in Letterkenny."

A description of two people seen in the area of the latest
incident has been issued by police.

The man was in his late 20s, tall and slim with fair hair.
The woman was a similar age and "slightly plump". They were
in a small blue car.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/22 09:27:56 GMT


Things Really Get Heated In The Dome-And That's Just The Audience

Róisín Ingle in Tralee

Watching the Rose on TV is easy. Try being the average Dome
audience member draped in more sequins and fake fur than a
Las Vegas dance troupe while waving a banner the size of a

Kerry's Rose, Colleen Shannon, might have been hot
favourite to be the 48th Rose of Tralee as the contest
climaxed last night but the 2,000 faithful gathered in the
steaming Dome were just plain hot.

Having preened and practised their royal waves with more
vigour than the Roses, the Dome audience was revelling in
its final close-up. Helium balloons, giant inflatable
kangaroos and pom-poms are par for the course in an
audience that is traditionally one part frenzied ardfheis
to two parts nail-biting All-Ireland final.

This year the rumour going around the Dome was that the
judges faced an even more formidable task than usual.

Sitting in the front row, the judges, including RTÉ's
Sharon Ní Bheoláin, management consultant Royston Brady and
former GAA president Seán Kelly, looked grim as the contest
began. Word was that the odds on South Australian Rose,
Niamh O'Reilly, shortened sensationally from 66-1 yesterday
morning to 4-1 second favourite. It seems it was her party
piece - she performed the voice of a cartoon character Joo
Joo Eyeballs - and merciless slagging of her sisters that
charmed the betting public.

Onstage last night the increasingly bizarre party pieces
continued to drag the Rose of Tralee into the 21st century.
We've already had Iranian singing, a double-jointed display
and a poem about a rash. Yet the New Zealand Rose, Emma
Coffey, performed a Maori tribal dance which involved
swinging luminous balls around her head. It was up to the
New Orleans Rose, Dorian Joye - "I'm not a bit like Dorian
Gray" she told host Ray D'Arcy rather unnecessarily - to do
the traditional party piece of a yearning Irish lament.

Rose fashion this year has been safe as houses. Gone are
the days when Marty Whelan would blush as yet another Rose
whipped off her meringue skirt to reveal a sleek dress
perfect for Irish dancing. Silk strapless gúnas, necks and
ears dripping with Rose-sponsor Newbridge Silver jewellery,
have emerged as the contemporary Rose uniform. So when
Theresa Roseingrave came on stage in a flowing canary
yellow and sparkly red number she couldn't fail to impress.

True to form the second half of the contest was the usual
mix of "dream come true" chat with some "I climbed a
glacier and can fly a plane" thrown in for good measure.

The format has barely changed since the days when Gaybo
used to help the Roses out of their shoes so they could
dance. D'Arcy doesn't do shoes but he acts the older
brother to the women, encouraging the Roses to be

"After a week of being treated like a princess they can
sometimes lose sight of who they are," he said. He
mentioned no names of course. Mentioning names would be
controversial and the Rose of Tralee doesn't do
controversy, a fact that had the bah-humbug section of the
Rose hacks grumbling all week.

TV audiences were down slightly on last year at 573,000,
but the figure gives the lie to all those people who swear
blind they don't watch the contest.

And if anyone doubted that the Rose of Tralee is now a
thoroughly modern contest they only needed to listen to New
York Rose Melissa Teelin. Asked about the origins of her
name, she said she had Googled herself to find out more
because "anybody who is anybody Googles themselves these

© The Irish Times


Ronnie Drew On Hand To Make Lasting Impression

Hélène Hofman

Folk musician Ronnie Drew made a lasting impression on
Dublin yesterday - in the form of his handprints on the
Gaiety theatre plaza.

Drew's handprints will join those of fellow luminaries Des
Keogh, Maureen Potter, John B Keane and Niall Tóibín.

"It's very nice and an honour to get. I've had long
associations with the theatre so it's great," the musician
said yesterday.

"I know all of the others that are already here except for
Pavarotti. I just hope the handprints won't wear out."

Drew, from Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, is renowned for his
contribution to Irish folk music as frontman of The
Dubliners since the early 1960s and later as a solo

His theatrical work includes Purple Daze and the pantomimes
Sleeping Beauty and the Babes in the Wood.

A clay impression of his palms was taken outside the
theatre and has been sent to be cast in bronze.

The finished plaque will be put into the plaza in the
coming weeks.

From Monday until September 2nd, Drew will perform as part
of the Legends of Irish Folk concert with Paddy Reilly,
Finbar Furey and Johnny McEvoy at the Gaiety.

© The Irish Times

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