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August 02, 2006

Crossmaglen Land Due To Be Returned

News About Ireland & The Irish

NH 08/02/06 Crossmaglen Land Due To Be Returned
SF 08/02/06 SF To Hold Dáil Vigil In Remembrance Of Kieran Doherty TD
IN 08/02/06 Feud Fears Grow As Shoukri Faction Heckles UDA Leaders
BN 08/02/06 Three Arrested In Dissident Republican Probes
BN 08/02/06 DUP Criticises Planned Hunger-Strike Event At GAA Ground
BB 08/02/06 Voting Under Way In By-Election
BB 08/02/06 Protest Over Town 'Jobs Plight'
WT 08/02/06 Opin: Senator Jeff Sessions: Reform The Immigration Debate
BT 08/02/06 Opin: Peaceful Persuasion Must Sway UDA
IN 08/02/06 Opin: ‘Rope-A-Dope’ Strategy Has One Little Snag
IN 08/02/06 Opin: Our Lifesavers Deserve Safety
IN 08/02/06 Opin: Defending The Indefensible
BT 08/02/06 Opin: Brotherly Love In The UDA
BT 08/02/06 Opin: Feel The Pain, Hain
BT 08/02/06 A Twister In Tyrone (Picture)
BT 08/02/06 Outrage As Camper Admits He Ate 'Pet' Swan
IN 08/02/06 Fr Dan Tells Of Life With Opus Dei’s Founder
IN 08/02/06 Top Tourist Site Is To Remain Closed


Crossmaglen Land Due To Be Returned

(Maeve Connolly and Nevin Farrell, Irish News)

Landowners in south Armagh have been informed by letter
that land requisitioned by the British army more than 30
years ago is to be returned to them. The police had also
been trying to buy a section of the Crossmaglen land to
build a police station but this plan has been abandoned.

Chief Superintendent Bobby Hunniford said the police
service had written to the landowners offering them "the
opportunity to sell the land to the police service at full
market value".

"Following that process we considered how much land we
actually needed to make the site viable for a proper
purpose-built station and have now written to some of the
individuals and advised that we will not be seeking to
acquire their land when the requisition order runs out and
indeed their land will be returned to them," he said.

Nationalist and republican politicians have welcomed the

SDLP assembly member Dominic Bradley said police had
responded to the community's concerns and reached a
solution which was "mutually acceptable to all concerned".

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said the British government had
been forced into a U-turn but that landowners "should not
have been placed in this situation in the first place."

Mr Hunniford said that "within the next few months" the
helipad in Crossmaglen would no longer be used.

August 2, 2006

This article appeared first in the August 1, 2006 edition
of the Irish News.


Sinn Féin To Hold Dáil Vigil In Remembrance Of Kieran Doherty TD

Published: 2 August, 2006

Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Caoimhghin Ó Caolain has
paid tribute to Kieran Doherty who died on hunger strike 25
years ago today, August 2, 1981. Kieran Doherty was elected
as a TD for the same constituency in the general election
of June 1981 when he received 9,121 votes. Sinn Féin will
hold a vigil at the Dáil today at 12.30pm to mark the

Deputy Ó Caolain said, "It is with both sadness and pride
that I recall my predecessor Kieran Doherty who was elected
during the heroic hunger strike of 1981. I was proud to
have helped, along with hundreds of others, in securing his
election and I am proud to have inherited Kieran's seat as
a republican representative for this constituency.

"Kieran was elected despite the incredible hostility shown
by the political establishment and media in this state
towards his and his comrades' reasonable demands, not to
mention the massive campaign of harassment of hunger strike
activists by the Garda Special Branch. On June 11 1981
republican Ireland gave its answer with a huge vote for
hunger striker candidates and other supporters of the
prison struggle. It was a decisive step in the broadening
of the battlefield to secure Irish freedom, a battle that
is not yet won, but whose eventual success was brought
closer by the courage and dedication of Kieran and his
comrades in the H Blocks.

"Today, the Sinn Féin activists in Dublin, Belfast and
throughout Cavan- Monaghan, will be commemorating Kieran's
election and his tragic death. It will be both a time for
reflecting on the sacrifice of Kieran and his comrades, and
to re-dedicate ourselves to the achievement of the goals
which motivated Kieran and the other hunger strikers. That
goal remains the achievement of an All Ireland Republic and
the creation of a national parliament in which the
representatives of all the Irish people will sit together
as equals." ENDS


Feud Fears Grow As Shoukri Faction Heckles UDA Leaders

By Barry McCaffrey

Tensions increased in north Belfast last night after
supporters of brothers Andre and Ihab Shoukri marched on
the houses of mainstream UDA figures on the Ballysillan

Up to 150 women connected to the Shoukri faction of the UDA
attended a rally in the Ballysillan Leisure Centre which
was addressed by three senior loyalists connected to the
mainstream UDA.

There was angry shouting as Shoukri supporters accused
senior loyalists Billy McQuiston, Frankie Gallagher and
Colin Haliday of imposing an unwanted new UDA leadership in
north Belfast.

Shoukri supporters also claimed that a number of the new

leadership were themselves in-volved in drugs, an
allegation which had been used to expel the Shoukri

Mr McQuiston insisted that the mainstream UDA would not
intimidate anyone from their homes and that it was
determined to avoid a feud with Shoukri supporters.

He said the UDA was going through a transition period and
that the interim leadership established in north Belfast
would be replaced once current issues were resolved.

However, he insisted that those expelled from the UDA in
March would not be reinstated.

That is understood to relate to the Shoukri brothers and
their associate Alan McClean, who is regarded as leading
Shourki supporters in north Belfast.

After 40 minutes the crowd walked out of the meeting and
marched on houses belonging to mainstream UDA supporters in
the Tyndale area of Ballysillan.

Police in riot gear struggled to hold back the crowd and
were forced to blockade mainstream UDA houses with police
Land Rovers.

Tensions remained high throughout the evening with a large
number of police in riot gear blocking streets.

Up to six police Land Rovers were also stationed at the
entrance to the Westland estate, viewed as the Shoukris’

Pastor Jack McKee, who is acting as a mediator between the
two sides, last night said that McClean had agreed to stand
down as the leader of the Shoukris’ supporters.

Mr McKee called on the mainstream UDA leadership in north
Belfast to reciprocate by also standing down.

He said the UDA’s ‘inner council’ had made a mistake in
imposing a new UDA leadership in north Belfast, which was
opposed by a significant number of loyalists.

“I think the number of people who turned up for this
meeting shows the strong feelings against the UDA’s inner
council who put the interim leadership into north Belfast,”
he said.

“I think they made a mistake which they are not fully aware

Glenbryn community worker Jim Potts, who was prominent
during the loyalist protests against Holy Cross Girls
Primary School, said that people were afraid of another
loyalist feud in north Belfast.

Mr Potts said that residents wanted assurances that there
would be no feud.


Three Arrested In Dissident Republican Probes

02/08/2006 - 12:27:18

Police in the North have arrested three men in connection
with two separate investigations into suspected dissident
republican activity.

Two of the men, who are believed to be related, were
arrested during raids on houses in Bellaghy, Co Derry, this

The PSNI has refused to disclose details of the operation
or of the offences about which the men are being

Sinn Féin has criticised the searches, saying the police
had refused to allow women and children to leave the
targeted houses.

The party says it has lodged a complaint about the conduct
of the PSNI officers with the Police Ombudsman.

Meanwhile, another suspected dissident republican was also
arrested in connection with the seizure 15 million
contraband cigarettes in Co Armagh last November.

Two men charged earlier this year in connection with the
seizure, while a third was released on bail.


DUP Criticises Planned Hunger-Strike Event At GAA Ground

02/08/2006 - 07:51:53

The Democratic Unionist Party has criticised the GAA over
plans to hold a rally commemorating the IRA hunger strikes
at Casement Park in Belfast later this month.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is due to address the 25th
anniversary rally on August 13.

The event is supported by the Antrim County Board, which
manages Casement Park, but the GAA has reportedly said that
the event must not go ahead at the ground.

Reports this morning say GAA headquarters had decided that
the rally would breach regulations prohibiting clubs,
committees or councils from engaging in party-political

Despite this, the DUP is using the situation to criticise
the sporting organisation, saying it shows that the GAA is
in fact a quasi-political body.


Voting Under Way In By-Election

Voting is getting under way in the Newry and Mourne council

Two candidates are competing for a seat in the Fews
district, following the resignation six weeks ago of Sinn
Fein councillor Breandan Lewis.

Turlough Murphy, Sinn Fein, is standing against victims'
campaigner William Frazer.

The Fews area includes wards such as Newtownhamilton,
Camlough, Bessbrook and Donaghmore. Polling centres will be
open from 0700 BST until 2200 BST.

The results will be announced on Thursday.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/02 06:01:02 GMT


Protest Over Town 'Jobs Plight'

County Tyrone politicians are to stage a protest outside
the Department of Enterprise over the employment situation
in Strabane.

Strabane Employment Task Force will picket the gates at
DETI HQ in Belfast.

At the same time, other members of the taskforce are to
hold talks with the DETI permanent secretary.

They are expected to urge DETI to make Strabane a special
case to deal with job losses in the textile industry and
"to address the lack of investment".

Several assembly members and Strabane district councillors
will be at the meeting.

One of them, Sinn Fein's Jarlath Mc Nulty, said his party
would be "reinforcing the message that finance and
resources need to targeted on the basis of need alone".

"The delegation will be demanding a specific range of
measures which we have identified as being key to
regenerating the local economy," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/02 05:45:21 GMT


Opin: Senator Jeff Sessions: Reform The Immigration Debate

Today's Columnist
By Jeff Sessions
August 2, 2006

The Pence-Hutchison immigration-reform proposal, like the
other prominent plans, fails to address critical issues
relating to meaningful immigration reform. It must not
become law.

The legislation fails to provide a real solution for a
number of important reasons. Namely, the proposal: 1) will
allow for a virtually unlimited number of immigrants to
come to the United States; 2) favors low-skilled workers;
3) provides more preferences to the eight NAFTA and CAFTA
countries over the rest of the world; and 4) gives no
preference for English-language or employment skills that
help make immigrants successful in our dynamic economy.

This plan swallows hook, line and sinker the idea that
as long as there is a foreign worker wanting to come to
America, and an American company that wants to hire the
individual, the foreign worker should be admitted, allowed
to work and put on a path to citizenship. This concept
violates the principle followed by every other nation in
the world, that immigration policy should be based on the
needs of the nation, not the desires of those that want
low-cost labor.

Under the Pence-Hutchison plan, foreign workers will
initially be granted two-year work visas, automatically
renewable for an additional 12 years. Then the foreign
worker is given an "X-Change" visa, newly created by the
legislation. After five years, the "X-Change" visa will
allow the worker to transition to permanent resident status
(a green card holder). Permanent residents are entitled to
citizenship after five years. Because "temporary" workers
will have the right to bring their families, the right to
stay and work for 17 years and then the right to stay
permanently, the vast majority will certainly do so.

A temporary worker program can play an important role
in our immigration reform policy, but the Pence-Hutchison
proposal, like the flawed Senate bill, does not create a
real "temporary" worker program. To be truly "temporary,"
the workers' stay must be limited, for instance, to 10
months each year, and they cannot be allowed to bring
dependents. This is common sense -- we cannot expect that
workers invited to move their entire families to America
and live here for years will want to go home. Who will
uproot these long-settled families if they become
temporarily unemployed? The answer is that no one will.

Foreign workers entering under this proposal will
overwhelmingly be low-skilled. It is well documented that
such workers will cost the U.S. Treasury far more than they
will ever pay in taxes. A flood of low-skilled workers will
further depress wages for American workers who compete with
them for jobs. There is a basic economic truth that cannot
be escaped -- an excess of labor drives down wages, a
shortage of labor causes wages to rise. Few dispute that in
recent years lower-wage earners have seen their wages
decline. Professor George Borjas of Harvard, the leading
expert in the field, reports that immigration has already
reduced the incomes of low-skilled workers by as much as 8
percent, or $1,200 per year. For a family making around
$25,000 a year, a decrease such as this can be the
difference in making it or not.

By limiting the new program to only NAFTA and CAFTA
countries, the bill would be a further and dramatic tilt to
Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, over every
other country in the world. At a recent Senate Judiciary
Committee hearing, a witness for the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform, Nial O'Dowd, explained that "if the
Irish antecedents of Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy or
Ronald Reagan were trying to enter the United States today"
they could not get in legally. He justified his comment by
noting that "of the 1 million green card visas given out
last year, about 2,000 went to the Irish." Irish settlers
helped form this nation yet, amazingly, they received only
two-tenths of one percent of our green cards last year.

Finally, in establishing a good immigration policy for
the United States through comprehensive reform, it is
critical to decide the number of immigrants we can accept
and the skills we want them to possess. Clearly, these
decisions should be based on the national interest, not
special interests. Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia
and New Zealand, developed nations all, have objective
employment-based immigration policies, usually centered on
a merit-based points system used to evaluate which
potential immigrants will contribute the most to their
society and take full advantage of citizenship
opportunities. Why are we not considering reforms to our
immigration system that take these important issues into

The need for border and workplace enforcement is a
given. What we have lacked in this discussion is a serious
evaluation of the merit-based policies other developed
nations have adopted. Neither have we had a real discussion
of the number of immigrants that America should admit
annually. Without such a discussion, good comprehensive
reform cannot occur.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, is a member of
the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Opin: Peaceful Persuasion Must Sway UDA

02 August 2006

Once again, a UDA row in north Belfast threatens the peace,
at a time when minds should be concentrating on the new
rate demands and a restoration of local democracy in time
for the November 24 deadline. Converting paramilitaries who
have acquired a taste for power into law-abiding citizens
is proving as difficult as expected.

The Provisional IRA has at least gone through the motions
of calling an end to violence and decommissioning weapons,
but both the UDA and UVF are still dragging their heels.
The problem is that although the UDA leadership is
seemingly ready to contemplate retirement, there are
factions who refuse to leave their lucrative criminality

The organisation's inner council took the unusual step,
last Friday, of announcing the replacement of elements
loyal to the Shoukri brothers - both of whom face criminal
charges - with its own approved candidates. The Shoukri
faction objected and the weekend was marked by attacks on
homes loyal to the inner council and, in response, a show
of strength on behalf of the UDA leadership.

Matters could have deteriorated further, into the shooting
war that has often marked loyalist feuds, but, thankfully,
church mediators have intervened. They have succeeded in
bringing the two sides together, to find a way forward, and
a period of reflection has been agreed.

What happens next is up to the good sense of people who
have been deeply involved in crime - initially as a means
of defending their communities - but who now want to put
their past behind them. They see a better way forward, in a
political direction, and they must bring as many of their
followers as they can with them.

Some are beyond persuasion, however, as was recognised when
the Johnny Adair faction was ousted by the UDA hierarchy.
It was rough justice, but it meant that families who had
been living in fear could breathe again.

The hope must be that the current feud can be resolved just
as peacefully, so that the UDA can proceed with its
transformation from armed, crime-ridden organisation to
unarmed, community-based support group. It has a long way
to go, and a lot of corrupt individuals to confront, but
with the help of interested clergy - and the active
participation of its own research group - progress is being

Ending a war is always more difficult than beginning it,
and the UDA, like the UVF, has a monumental job to do in
compensating for its terrible past. If it can defeat its
dissidents without violence, and can reform itself, it will
have earned some much-needed respect.


Opin: ‘Rope-A-Dope’ Strategy Has One Little Snag

By Brian Feeney

Remember Muhammad Ali’s ‘rope-a-dope’ strategy for dealing
with big, stupid, brutal, heavy punchers? The most famous
example was the fight he called the ‘rumble in the jungle’
against George Foreman in 1974. Ali lay on the ropes
absorbing heavy punches on his arms and body and appeared
to let his opponent have his way. Foreman blattered away at
him – he was punched out by round five. Ali played him for
another three rounds, then three quick bops and Foreman was
out for the count.

The NIO’s strategy for dealing with the UDA is a bit like
that. For about five years now the security services and
PSNI have been allowing the UDA to punch itself out. Here’s
the way it works. An outrageously corrupt so-called
‘brigadier’ is identified in the media as an embarrassment
to the new image the UDA is carefully cultivating of
community service, tray bakes, lemonade and helping old
ladies across the road. Repeated stories about the
‘brigadier’ complete with ludicrous nicknames like the
‘Bacardi Brigadier’, or ‘Doris Day’ lead to the NIO warning
the UDA this kind of thing has to stop or no more cash.

As a result, the gang boss is first isolated, then deposed
by his fellow gangsters and expelled from the UDA. The boss
naturally refuses to accept his expulsion and gathers his
cronies around him to try to cling on to his corrupt little
‘fiefdom’ as last weekend’s UDA statement actually
described it. Why should he allow somebody else to take
over his hard-won drug-dealing and racketeering district?

At this point the rest of the UDA moves in to ‘deal with’
the former gang boss. Since 2002 this has been the
traditional route followed by Johnny Adair, John White, Jim
Gray, Jim Simpson and other troublesome figures. In some
cases the former gang boss has ended up dead.

The Shoukri brothers have now reached the most dangerous
point, isolated and expelled but unable to see the writing
on the wall. At this stage it is traditional for a
loyalist feud’ to break out. In fairly short order the
cronies of the former boss are overwhelmed, see the error
of their ways and rejoin the mainstream. That was the
message the couple of hundred yahoos in jeans and hoodies
were delivering in Cambrai Street on Saturday night. That’s
been the script now in west, east and north Belfast.

The security forces, prosecution service and courts connive
willy-nilly at this scenario. We’ve witnessed several
pantomime performances in court when well-known UDA leaders
have walked free. Sometimes no-one will give evidence,
sometimes it’s because they are MI5 or special branch
assets, sometimes it’s a curiously limp-wristed
prosecution. In the end it has proved easier and shall we
say, more final, to have the UDA deal with its
‘troublemakers’ itself.

The message the NIO has been sending UDA bosses is that if
they stop criminality and devote themselves exclusively to
community service – now don’t laugh at the back there –
there’ll be stacks of money for community development in
their districts which UDA men can supervise, all legit.

To this end the NIO has been developing ‘good’ UDA men and
showering them with approval; Jackie McDonald in south
Belfast being the most obvious recipient of the flattery.
If he and the NIO ‘good’ UDA can stop the violence and push
out the most egregiously corrupt UDA bosses then it seems
the NIO will allow its good guys to carry on as before.

For that’s the only snag with the NIO’s rope-a-dope
strategy. They do carry on as before. The last IMC report
concluded that ‘the UDA is responsible for most loyalist
incidents. We are aware of no change in the broad pattern
of UDA involvement in organised crime.’

It could be that ultimately ‘rope-a-dope’ will succeed,
that when the UDA’s teeth are drawn and all the hard men
are dead or jailed the toothless survivors will have no
alternative but to roll over and be counted out like big
George Foreman. In the meantime the NIO is happy to allow
their ‘good’ UDA to maintain a controlled level of
corruption. After all, it only affects the poorest unionist
districts and the DUP doesn’t complain.


Opin: Our Lifesavers Deserve Safety

By Ray O'Hanlon

LIKE the other emergency services, the Northern Ireland
Ambulance Service carries out vital work within the com-
munity, saving lives and easing suffering.

It is and has been for some time a sad and perplexing fact
that ambulance personnel often perform their duties while
at risk of attack from those they are helping.

The addition of security measures to veh-icles in the early
part of this decade had helped cut down the numbers of
reported incidents but latest statistics sadly reflect a
surge in attacks.

The ambulance service reports 87 in-cidents between January
and July this year, pointing out that the figure already
exceeds the total for the whole of 2005 by 16, with five
months of the year still to go.

However, words like ‘incident’ do not reflect the physical
harm that personnel can suffer. Last weekend one crew
member was kicked and punched in the face by a patient
before the ‘sick’ man ran off.

The ambulance had been called to attend the man when he was
taken ill while at a party in Carrickfergus. Like most of
those who attack emergency personnel, the assailant/patient
is believed to have been under the influence of drink or
more likely drugs.

It is a sad indictment of our society that those whose
vocation in life is to help others are so often rewarded
for their care and diligence by being physically attacked
and injured.

It is crucial that these selfless public em-ployees should
be allowed to carry out their important duties without, as
an ambulance service spokesman said, this “increased sense
of vulnerability”.

To that end everything must be done to make sure emergency
personnel are as safe as possible. That could involve the

of even more technology or a renewed publicity campaign.

And one cannot argue with the spokesman who called for the
most stringent penalties to be faced by those who would
attack any member of the emergency services.

If the choice is emergency personnel end-ing up in hospital
or their attackers ending up in jail, then there is no
doubt what the wish of the wider community would be.


Opin: Defending The Indefensible

By Ray O'Hanlon

LAST night a meeting was held in an area of north Belfast
‘in support’ of the Shoukri leadership of the UDA, despite
it having been ‘stood down’ by the mainstream organisation.

Those who would demonstrate on behalf of any branch of this
paramilitary group should have a look at reports from the
inquest into the death of George Legge in 2001.

The father-of-four had his throat cut and was stabbed 15
times in the back before being dumped near a country road
on the outskirts of Belfast.

Legge was a senior UDA man and was one of a long line
murdered by his former comrades down through the years,
although the coroner said the brutality of his death
matched anything carried out by the Shankill Butchers.

The community would be much safer without such ‘defenders’.
It is time the UDA disbanded before anyone else is killed
by it.


Opin: Brotherly Love In The UDA

By Lindy McDowell
02 August 2006

Every so often the UDA erupts in one of its legendary
handbags swinging feuds. At the weekend the Shankill was
invaded by around 500 stalwarts from one faction in what
we're told was a show of strength.

How come the PSNI can't have a show of strength and round
these hallions up?

After all, the point of the exercise was to threaten and

In this case their ire is directed at the Shoukri clique in
north Belfast, recently ousted from the UDA. That would be
the same Shoukri brothers who stood shoulder to shoulder
with the UDA masses as they previously ousted Johnny Adair.
And then ousted Jim Gray.

You can see a bit of a pattern emerging here. Who's for
ousting next?

As regular readers of this column will know I have no time
whatsoever for the Shoukris. But I did think it was just so
very UDA that the organisation decided to flex some muscle
now that both the brothers grim are locked up.

Meanwhile, as the UDA gets on with doing what it does best
- bringing misery to the community it claims to defend -
somewhere in the background a familiar, reedy voice can be

It's Johnny Mad Dog Adair appearing in one of the Sundays
in a pair of bathing shorts that are way, way too tight and
a pair of sunglasses that are way, way too Star Trek alien,
to reassure readers that there is, in fact, life after UDA

Johnny, who has recently been basking on a Turkish holiday
apartment balcony draped in an Ulster flag, boasts that
he's got one up on the Shoukris, that he's got a book
coming out and that he'll soon be back walking the

I don't know about "walking the Shankill" (judging by
Johnny's rather effete pose in the pic.) Mincing maybe ?


Opin: Feel The Pain, Hain

By Lindy McDowell
02 August 2006

According to Secretary of State Peter Hain in a statement
last week, the IRA is no longer involved in organisational
crime. Whatever that is.

Time to crack open the non-smuggled, non-counterfeit
bubbly, Peter?

Maybe we shouldn't get quite so hasty ?

For Mr Hain's optimistic claim would seem to be somewhat at
odds with the opening paragraph in a story in this week's
Sunday Independent:

"Gardai and PSNI are conducting parallel investigations
into IRA money laundering, focusing on the acquisition of
hundreds of millions of euro-worth of property in Ireland,
Britain, eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and even the

QUESTION: If both British and Irish governments believe, as
they say they believe, that the IRA is no longer
organisationally involved in crime, how come both
governments, through their police forces, security services
and the ARA and CAB respectively, are investing very
considerable time, effort and public funds into
investigating ongoing IRA criminality?

ANOTHER QUESTION: If the Provos have, as Mr Hain appears to
suggest, turned their back on their organisational
criminality, wouldn't it be likely that the rest of society
might have picked up on evidence of this sea change?

For example, (and the following, I'd stress, is but a very
small example), if the IRA was to eschew its hallmark
intimidation, extortion, racketeering and corruption
shouldn't we by now be seeing:

- Witnesses coming forward in the Robert McCartney case to
talk openly and honestly about what they saw on that night

- Business people in areas 'run' by the Provos speaking out
about how they're no longer being asked to pay for

- A complete shutdown of the Provos' fuel and cigarette
smuggling rackets, with a follow-on halt to the illegal and
obscene dumping in the Ulster countryside of tonnes of
toxic waste from fuel washing

- The handing back of the proceeds from recent Provo
robberies, raids and heists. Since they're no longer into
organisational criminality presumably they'll not need the
millions taken, not just from the Northern Bank, but in all
those other mega raids such as the one at Makro

- Leading members acquiring honest jobs to fund the
lifestyles to which they have become accustomed

- And, importantly, freedom of speech so that those who
speak out against the Provos no longer feel they are taking
their lives in their hands to do so

As I say, only a sample of the evidence we'd expect to see.
The point is that, like so many other seismic, historic
changes promo-ed by New Labour in Northern Ireland, we'll
believe P O'Neill has dumped the criminality and is
gainfully employed in honest graft when we see the signs
for ourselves.

Of course, what Peter would have us believe is that P is
not the problem. It's not IRA organisational criminality we
have to worry about but the criminality of IRA individuals.
In terms of a get-out clause, this is on a par with the UVF
argument about non-sanctioned violence: "OK some of our
members did it. But not in our name. So it doesn't count."

Actually it does. IRA criminality is IRA criminality. And
very, very few of us see any sign of its curtailment or any
reason to believe that it's going away.

Put it like this, Pete. We might start to heed New Labour's
organisational spin about how the IRA is no longer fuelling
crime. If only our rivers ran free of corrosive dyes and
toxic waste from Provo laundered diesel.


A Twister In Tyrone (Picture)

By Maureen Coleman
02 August 2006

This is the dramatic moment an amateur photographer
captured a huge funnel cloud which gathered in the sky over

Richard Buick was driving back from Enniskillen to Belfast
on Sunday night when he pulled in at a garage near the
start of the M1.

It was then he noticed the huge dark cloud, gradually
growing and swirling from left to right.

It began to move downwards but then quickly disappeared.

Richard, who was travelling with his girlfriend, caught the
moment on camera.

"We thought it was a tornado when we first saw it, but we
didn't see it touch the ground," he said.

"The weather had been very strange just beforehand. There
were heavy showers in the distance but it wasn't raining
where we were. And there were some very strong rainbows.

"It only lasted about 10 minutes. It looked like a
whirlwind, but there didn't seem to be any damage caused or
anything flying about. It all seemed quite normal."

A spokesman for PA WeatherCentre in London said there had
been several reports of "semi-tornado" behaviour in
Northern Ireland and the Republic over the weekend.

But he said that a funnel cloud was only considered a
tornado if it actually touched the ground.

"The conditions seemed to be right for a funnel cloud to
appear, as there were significant thunderstorms around over
the weekend," he said.

"When strong rotation occurs and it tips through 90
degrees, you get this whirlwind effect. Then if it touches
the ground, you have a tornado."


Outrage As Camper Admits He Ate 'Pet' Swan

By Brian McDonald
02 August 2006

Gardai are investigating the discovery of a butchered swan
which was partly eaten by a man camping in Galway.

A man walking at South Park alerted Galway Swan Rescue when
he noticed a swan's wing near tents pitched alongside the
Claddagh river in the city.

The swans, which gather at the water's edge in the
Claddagh, are renowned for their tameness and are fed daily
by passers-by. They are the country's largest flock of

Two volunteers from the Swan Rescue discovered a trail of
blood leading from the slipway at the Claddagh to a tent
which was pitched a short distance away in South Park.

The remains of a campfire were found outside the tent and
thrown alongside was the severed head, second wing and
dismembered remains of the swan.

The horrified volunteers contacted the Gardai and a man at
the tent - aged about 30 and from Dublin - admitted to
Gardai that he had cooked the two breasts of the bird and
eaten them.

But, he claimed that the animal was already dead when he
came upon it.

A Garda spokesman confirmed that they were continuing their
investigations and were anxious to hear from any member of
the public who could help them in their enquiries.

But the incident has sparked outrage in Galway where the
swans are a huge attraction and a great source of pleasure
to local families and visitors.

Galway Swan rescue spokesperson Suzanne Divilly said she
and her colleagues were horrified at what had happened.

The organisation had no doubt that the swan had been
butchered for its meat.

"We are absolutely appalled. This is just the worst thing
you could imagine. The swans at the Claddagh are so tame
that they will come right up to you and take a piece of
bread out of your hand.


"This beautiful creature was simply butchered as was
evident from the trail of blood.

"It was a cob, a male swan, and there will be a partner
frantically looking for him in the water now.

"Swans are a protected species and we will be watching the
outcome of the Garda investigation with great interest,"
said Ms Divilly.

Last year, the body of a swan wrapped in muslin was
discovered at Rusheen Bay near Salthill. Both breasts had
been removed.

There were also reports of two swans being separately taken
from Lough Corrib and put into fishing boats last year.


Fr Dan Tells Of Life With Opus Dei’s Founder

By Marie Louise McCrory West Belfast Correspondent

A west Belfast priest who lived with the founder of Opus
Dei has spoken of what it was like to live with the man who
was later made a saint by Pope John Paul II.

Fr Dan Cummings, originally from Andersonstown, lived in
Rome for 10 years with Fr Josemaria Escriva, who foun-ded
the institution in 1928.

Fr Cummings became a close aide of Saint Josemaria – he was
canonised in 2002 – and has spoken of his experiences of
Opus Dei, which was catapulted into the spotlight by Dan
Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code and the subsequent film.

The Andersonstown priest appears in a BBC Northern Ireland
documentary, due to be broadcast tonight, which explores
Opus Dei in Ireland.

Fr Cummings lived under the same roof as the Opus Dei
founder from 1965 until his death in 1975.

He tells Belfast film-maker Michael Beattie that he really
only thought about the significance of his role after the
St Josemaria died.

“You think about it afterwards really – it sort of dawns on
you,” he said.

“You think, maybe I should have been more attentive, or
took more notes on what he said. This is a figure who goes
into history.

“You are just one of the observers or witnesses there. But
it was certainly a great experience.”

The programme explores Opus Dei’s activities in Ireland,
where it has around 800 members.

The institution sees its mission as helping people to use
their daily activity and work as a means of growing closer
to God. It offers its members classes, talks and retreats
to help develop their spirituality.

Fr Cummings said Opus Dei had on occasion left itself open
to criticism but that overall its work was “very positive”.

“I’m not denying that there have been mistakes but the
overall picture is a very positive thing,” he said.

“Some of these people, they hold on to things and blow them
up beyond the reasonable situation that was there.”

South Belfast schoolteacher Kieran Doherty and his wife
Marion also share their experiences of Opus Dei, as do Opus
Dei priest Professor John Wauck and Vatican correspondent
John Allen.

Programme-maker Mr Beat-tie said he found Opus Dei members
to be “sincere, devout Catholics, determined to live their
Christianity in a practical day-to-day manner, bringing
their faith into every aspect of their personal and
professional practices”.

Opus Dei has around 85,000 male and female members
worldwide. Around 95 per cent are lay people and most are
married. Two per cent are priests.

:: Opus Dei Unveiled is on BBC One Northern Ireland tonight
at 10.40pm.


Top Tourist Site Is To Remain Closed

By Seamus McKinney

ONE of the north west’s top tourist attractions is to
remain closed throughout the busy summer season.

Each year thousands of people visit Grianan of Aileach hill
fort near the Derry/Donegal border.

It is believed to be from Grianan that the O’Neill dynasty
ruled the kingdom of Aileach.

In the 1870s the dilapidated fort was largely overhauled by
antiquarians from nearby Derry.

Today it is a perfect circle with commanding views over the
Foyle and Swilly valleys. Entrance is through a small
tunnel and there are also tunnels running through the thick
walls of the building.

The fort has in the past been used for summer and winter
solstice celebrations and was even the setting for a

But visitors to the ancient monument this year have found
the entrance barred.

The fort, which is also close to an ancient well said to
have been visited once by St Patrick, has been closed to
the public since May 8.

Its closure during the summer tourist season has been the
subject of concern in the north west, with one writer to a newspaper claiming
it was because wrong techniques were being used in restoration work.

A spokeswoman for the Republic’s Office of Public Works –
which maintains the fort – said a major conservation
project has been under way at Grianan since 2003 after part
of the wall collapsed.

“Work on the project is now at an advanced stage and during
the course of the 2006 season the final section of the
wall, that which encompasses the entrance door, will be
subject to conservation work,” she said.

The spokeswoman said it was not possible to carry out the
work and allow public access for health and safety reasons.

She said the conservation work would be completed this year
and the fort would be re-opened to the public by next year.

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