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August 10, 2006

Ex-Detective Freed Without Charge

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 08/10/06 Ex-Detective Freed Without Charge
IO 08/10/06 Terror Plot Posed 'No Direct Threat' To Ireland
UT 08/10/06 Banks' Overdraft Charges Slammed
IT 08/11/06 Bleak Picture Of Men's Lives In Border Counties


Ex-Detective Freed Without Charge

A former RUC detective who was questioned by officers from
the Police Ombudsman's office has been released without

Johnston Brown was arrested at Belfast International
Airport on Wednesday.

The arrest was part of an inquiry by the ombudsman into the
RUC's investigation of the UVF murder of Raymond McCord
Junior in 1997.

He was questioned about a number of matters, including
attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Two other former detectives arrested on Wednesday morning
were released without charge.

One of the officers arrested was former CID detective
Trevor McIlwrath.

Police Ombudsman investigators questioned them over
allegations of perverting the course of justice and
misconduct in public office.

Two premises were also searched by the investigators, the
Police Ombudsman's office said.

Mr McCord, 22, was beaten to death by members of the UVF
and his body left at a quarry in Newownabbey.

It has been claimed that at least one of those responsible
for the McCord murder was working for police Special Branch
at the time and this led to a major investigation by Police
Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

It is understood the investigation, which has been going on
for several years, has mushroomed into a wider inquiry
involving police intelligence-gathering methods and the use
of informers.

The ombudsman's investigation also includes the UVF murder
of Sharon McKenna in north Belfast in 1992.

The 27-year-old Newtownabbey taxi driver was shot in the
sectarian attack at the home of an elderly friend whose
dinner she was making.

An interim report has already been submitted to the Public
Prosecution Service and a report is expected to be
published next month.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/10 21:09:37 GMT


Terror Plot Posed 'No Direct Threat' To Ireland

10/08/2006 - 17:43:38

The Government tonight insisted there was no direct threat
to Ireland following the discovery of an elaborate
terrorist plot to blow up aircraft over the Atlantic.

But people were warned to maintain a high level of

Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan said all appropriate
security measures will continue to be taken.

“The Government are deeply concerned at the existence of a
plot to attack airlines flying out of the UK,” the Minister

“They are pleased that the successful intervention of the
security services there has averted such a major threat to
lives on a huge scale.”

Security forces in the UK have been liaising with gardaí as
the extent of the terror plot was revealed.

In a statement on behalf of the Government, Ms Coughlan
added: “All intelligence indications was that the plot was
conceived in relation to the UK and intended to be

“The security assessment in relation to Ireland has not
changed and there is no reason to believe that there is any
specific threat against this country. However, it is
important to maintain a high level of vigilance.”


Banks' Overdraft Charges Slammed

Charges made by banks in Northern Ireland for unauthorised
overdrafts have been referred to the Office of Fair Trading
and the Financial Services Authority for investigation.

By:Press Association

The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland said it had taken
the unprecedented step because it wanted to call time on
the crushing penalties imposed on customers who go into the
red without permission.

Across the UK as a whole such charges cost consumers a
massive £4.7 billion a year said the Council.

The action is not restricted to the Northern Ireland `Big
Four` banks but includes any bank operating in the

Eleanor Gill, chief executive of the council said: "These
unauthorised overdraft charges are excessive and bear no
resemblance to how much it costs the bank to put things
right when someone goes into the red without permission.

"Consumers are not disputing having to pay a penalty; what
they are disputing is the size of the penalty."

In many cases bank customers could stray unwillingly into
the red for short periods of time and for small amounts of
money and be hit with huge charges, she said.

Ms Gill sited the example of a bank customer who went less
than £3.00 overdrawn for one day - and was hit with bank
charges of more than £61.

More than 2,000 people had contacted the Consumer Council,
she said, to complain about excessive charging.

"We are taking this step today because we believe that
these charges are challengeable under the Unfair Terms in
Consumer Contracts Regulations, as the banks should only be
passing on the true costs they incur as a result of the
overdraft," she said.

The OFT had already called time on excessive credit card
default charges, and she said she wanted them to take
immediate action to instruct all banks to remove unfair
overdraft charges.

The council launched a Stop Unfair Charges campaign in
April encouraging customers to make their voices heard by
challenging their banks to remove excessive charges or go
to the small claims court.

More than £10,000 has been refunded to date to bank
customers who have taken up the fight through the council,
she revealed.

Sinn Fein economic spokesman, Mitchel McLaughlin welcomed
the decision of the council to take on the banks again,
saying he had raised the concerns of constituents over
charges on a number of occasions.

"Unfortunately we are moving to a situation where it will
be impossible to perform any financial transaction without
the services of a bank.

"Rather than delivering benefits to the consumer this trend
is only reinforcing the stranglehold that banks have on the
day-to-day lives of the general public," he said.

"If the banks cannot demonstrate a commitment to delivering
this service to the general public for a reasonable return
voluntarily, then it is incumbent on government to regulate
changes," he added.

It was unacceptable that the government was moving towards
a situation where even people on benefits required a bank
account, while the institutions were free to impose
exorbitant charges and penalties on customers without any
form of mutual agreement.


Bleak Picture Of Men's Lives In Border Counties, Report Finds

Marese McDonagh

Seven out of 10 men living in the Border counties have poor
literacy skills, according to a new report which urges
health and education professionals to act to ensure more
men do not "end up in crisis situations".

The EU-funded Men on the Border report, which is to be
unveiled by the North Leitrim Men's Group today in
Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, paints a bleak picture of
isolation and lack of resources among men in Leitrim, Cavan
and Fermanagh.

It found that the pub, the church and the GAA provide the
main social outlets for men who do not engage with many of
the health and education professionals in their community.

Researchers found that 70 per cent of the 165 men, aged 18
to 65, who were surveyed over 12 months, rated their
reading skills as poor or very poor while 44 per cent
described their IT skills as non-existent. The same
proportion said they had no access to a computer.

Fourteen per cent earned less than €10,000 a year while 16
per cent did not have central heating, 5 per cent did not
have an indoor bathroom and 6 per cent did not have hot
running water. Some 21 per cent of the men lived alone.

Only 2 per cent said their normal mode of transport was
public transport, which, project co-ordinator Joel Smith
said, was a reflection on availability of public transport
rather than on car ownership.

One-third visited the doctor less than once a year and many
said they never visited a GP. "Given that Leitrim has the
highest mortality rate from prostate cancer in the country,
that tells its own story," Mr Smith said.

"We found that while 77 per cent said they go to the pub to
meet people, only 15 per cent visit their neighbours, which
may jar with our impression of tight-knit rural
communities," he added.

Eleven per cent of men never visit family members but 58
per cent regularly attend their place of worship. Half were
members of a club with involvement in the GAA, a
significant factor in many lives.

Lack of engagement with service providers in education,
health and transport was identified as worrying, while the
report also highlighted the high dependency on agriculture
and forestry.

It calls for investment in alternative employment sources
such as rural tourism given the vulnerability of farming
and the building sector. It urged that all young men aged
18-35 who had not visited their doctor in three years
should be sent out a card inviting them to make an

© The Irish Times

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