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August 04, 2006

SF: British '74 Bombing Claims Are False

News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 08/04/06 British 1974 Bombing Claims Are False -- Ó Caoláin
BN 08/04/06 Eldon Defends British Stance On 1974 Bombings Inquiry
BT 08/04/06 'Brigadier Of Bling' To Blame For Killing Of My George
BT 08/04/06 Blair Admits To Cabinet Splits Over Israel
BT 08/04/06 Viewpoint: UDA Is Putting Its House In Order
BT 08/04/06 Feile: Bunnies Hop Into The West
BT 08/04/06 Republic Roads Are Amongst The Most Deadly In Europe
IO 08/04/06 New Mullingar Bypass Officially Opened To Traffic


"British Ambassador's Claims Are False" -- Ó Caoláin

Published: 4 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as
"utterly false" the claim by the British Ambassador Stuart
Eldon that his Government has not been engaged in a cover-
up regarding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974
in which 33 people were killed.

The Cavan-Monaghan Deputy said:

"Successive reports by Justice Henry Barron have been
highly critical of the failure of the British authorities
to co-operate with the investigations into the Dublin and
Monaghan bombings and other bombings and shootings where
there are strong indications of collusion between British
crown forces and unionist paramilitaries.

"For the British Ambassador to claim that there is no
cover-up and to attempt to portray his Government as co-
operative with the inquiries initiated by the Oireachtas is
utterly false. It has no credibility.

"The British Ambassador states that his Government's
purpose is to 'protect the lives of people who were
involved at the time, who could conceivably be endangered
if full details of what went on were to come out'. Does
this mean that Mr. Eldon is aware of people who were
involved with the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and that he
is also aware of 'full details' that have yet to come out?

"Earlier this year the Dáil unanimously passed a motion
calling on the British government to hold an independent
international inquiry into the murder of human rights
lawyer Pat Finucane. The British government has steadfastly
refused to do so.

"The British government has been involved in a decades-long
cover-up of its use of collusion with unionist
paramilitaries in its war in Ireland. Ambassador Eldon's
pathetic plea of innocence will convince no-one."



Eldon Defends British Stance On 1974 Bombings Inquiry

04/08/2006 - 08:03:06

The British Ambassador to Ireland has defended his
country's level of co-operation with the Irish Government's
attempts to determine the truth about the Dublin and
Monaghan bombings.

Thirty-three people were killed when loyalist
paramilitaries detonated three car bombs in Dublin and one
in Monaghan on May 17, 1974, the worst single loss of life
on any day of the Troubles.

Nobody has ever been brought to justice and there have long
been claims that the British security services helped the
men who carried out the attacks.

The Barron inquiry set up by the Irish Government to
investigate the atrocities has repeatedly accused Britain
of frustrating its work by failing to hand over relevant

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has also been highly critical
of the British attitude towards the inquiry.

However, Ambassador Stuart Eldon has insisted that Britain
is not engaging in a cover-up.

"One does have to be very cognisant, in conducting
inquiries into this sort of area, of the legitimate
requirements of national security," he said yesterday.

"That's not a cover-up. That is partly to protect the lives
of people who were involved at the time, who could
conceivably be endangered if full details of what went on
were to come out."


'Brigadier Of Bling' To Blame For Killing Of My George

By Lisa Smyth
04 August 2006

Loyalist terror boss Jim 'Doris Day' Gray was behind the
slaying of his former UDA comrade George Legge, his
grieving partner has claimed.

Ashleigh Kirkwood answered the telephone call which led her
partner of seven years to his death and said she was
convinced Gray, Legge's former business associate, ordered
the murder.

Ms Kirkwood vented her hatred for the murdered UDA
commander and said she wishes she was the one who killed
the so-called 'brigadier of bling'.

Her comments come days after Legge's mother, Margaret, told
a Belfast coroner that she also blames Gray for her son's
gruesome death.

Legge was tortured, stabbed 15 times and his throat was
slit in an attack believed to have taken place in the Bunch
of Grapes, an east Belfast bar owned by Gray, hours after
he was summoned to a meeting at the premises.

His mutilated body was discovered in a field on the
outskirts of south Belfast the following day.

Four years later, in October last year, Gray was shot five
times in the back as he shifted weightlifting gear from the
boot of a car outside his father's home in east Belfast -
prompting speculation that he was assassinated by someone
he trusted.

Speaking out after discovering that she had not been
informed about her former partner's inquest, Ms Kirkwood
pointed the finger of blame at the UDA boss.

She said: "Gray did it, I know he did and I'm glad he's
dead. I only wish I had killed him.

"I took the phone call the night George was killed asking
him to come up to the Bunch of Grapes and he knew it wasn't
good, but he went. I think he thought he might be
kneecapped or get a hiding, but I don't think he thought
they would kill him.

"He told me to ring him in 15 minutes time if I hadn't
heard from him and I don't remember how long I left it
before I started ringing and leaving messages."

And rubbishing widespread allegations that Legge had fallen
out of favour with the UDA amid claims of missing cash, Ms
Kirkwood said the reason for the murder was Gray's own drug
abuse and paranoia.

"George was a good loyalist, but he didn't like the way
things were going with all the drugs. After he was stabbed
a couple of years before, he changed and preferred spending
time with his family," she explained.

"He was trying to move away from the UDA and Gray didn't
like that.

"He didn't have the same family ties as George and didn't
like that he wasn't going out with him - the paranoia got
to him.

"George is painted as a monster by the media, but when you
see videos of him with our daughter Anastasia you see how
much he doted on her and that he was a good father and a
real family man."


Blair Admits To Cabinet Splits Over His Support For Bush On Israel

By Colin Brown
04 August 2006

Battered by criticism, Tony Blair last night prepared for a
holiday, leaving behind a cabinet torn by dissent, a party
in turmoil, and a country dismayed by his handling of the
Middle East crisis.

The Prime Minister robustly defended his decision to stand
shoulder-to-shoulder with President George Bush in refusing
to call for a ceasefire while Lebanon burns. His defence
came amid claims in the New Statesman that there was a
conspiracy between the US, Israel and Britain to launch a
war on Lebanon.

Speaking at his monthly press conference, he said that
events in Lebanon had to be seen as part of a wider picture
and that a stand had to be made against the "arc of
extremism" that links Palestine, Syria, Iran and Iraq.

Five years ago, days after the 11 September attacks, Mr
Blair told a Labour party conference: "This is a moment to
seize. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again.
Before they do, let us re-order this world..."

Since then, Mr Blair has joined Mr Bush in waging a world-
wide "war against terror" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and at home
in British cities. The two leaders are now accused of
standing by as Israel attempts to eliminate Hizbollah in
southern Lebanon, at the cost of at least 900 civilian

Yesterday Mr Blair called for an "alliance of moderation to
take on those people with such extreme views..." But
apparent one-sided support for America and the Israelis has
lost allies in the Middle East and support at home.

Resurgent Taliban fighters this week killed three more
British soldiers in Helmand province. Suicide bombings kill
dozens daily in Iraq, and yesterday it emerged that the
respected outgoing British ambassador William Patey, in a
leaked memorandum to Mr Blair, had told the Prime Minister
that Iraq was facing "a descent into civil war and
anarchy". Israel's apparent disregard for the lives of
Lebanese civilians, and Mr Blair's refusal to call for a
halt to the fighting, has further diminished his standing
in the Arab world.

Mr Blair is leaving Britain resigned to the fact that he
appears isolated within his cabinet. Yesterday, Mr Blair
admitted some cabinet ministers had shown "anxiety" about
his refusal to press President Bush to condemn the Israeli
bombing. They include Jack Straw, the former foreign
secretary - but he denied being at odds with Margaret
Beckett, the Foreign Secretary.

He said: "I don't doubt that there are cabinet ministers
who have doubts about aspects of the policy. But reports
about Margaret [Beckett] and myself, and that my officials
have been telling me to do different things, it's not the

Ministers are also uneasy that Britain and the US appeared
to be allowing the Israelis time to redraw the map of the
Middle East by bombing Hizbollah in a proxy war against
Iran. Some fear it gives the extremists the opportunity to
claim that the West is waging a holy war.

Mr Blair dismissed such fears, saying: "How can there
possibly be a religious war when actually what we want is
for Jews and Muslims and Christians to live in peace with
each other as they do here in our country?

"Our vision of the future is a vision in which diversity of
faith and culture and race is a strength not a weakness.
The only ones engaged in a war voluntarily are those who
committed the atrocities of 7 July, 11 September and 3
November in Madrid."

A UN resolution calling for a ceasefire could be published
within the next 24 hours and Mr Blair signalled that Israel
might be ready to accept one agreed by the UN security

It will be linked to the deployment of a multilateral
force, but details over its composition, terms of
engagement, and precise role will be the subject of tough
negotiations over the weekend. The Prime Minister said the
remaining differences to a resolution were "very slight".

Richard Burden, the Labour chairman of the all-party
Parliamentary Britain-Palestine group, said: "I think his
argument that Hamas, al-Qa'ida and Hizbollah can be lumped
together is wrong."

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader, accused
Mr Blair of a "gross oversimplification", adding: "Mr
Blair's determination not to be parted from Mr Bush has
deeply damaged Britain's influence."

Mr Blair said that he would continuetalks while on holiday
to secure agreement for a UN resolution that could end the
bloodshed "within days".

'No one sees policy as credible'

"While I condemn the hostage taking of Israeli soldiers and
rocket attacks on Israel, I believe the response was
disproportionate and appalling.

As a Labour MP, I say with sadness and a heavy heart that
the Prime Minister's press conference did not inspire me at
all. He needs to take a much more even-handed approach.

He refused to endorse Jack Straw's comments that the
Israeli response was disproportionate. He refused to
condemn Israel, even over the massacre at Qana.

How can he say this Government's policy is independent when
we have provided logistical support in a British airport
for the transport of bombs that are being used against
innocent men, women and children in Lebanon?

Tony Blair talked about wanting to see the spread of
democracy in the Middle East and yet at the same time he
refuses to talk to Hamas, which was democratically elected,
and he stands by while the democratic government of Lebanon
is attacked.

He mentioned the creation of a viable Palestinian state and
yet he didn't mention the need for the full implementation
of UN resolutions 242 and 338, which call on Israel to
withdraw its forces to the pre-1967 borders.

He didn't mention the apartheid wall that has caused misery
and hardship for many Palestinians. He didn't mention the
illegal settlements in the West Bank. There is immense
anger among rank-and-file members of the Labour Party and
backbench MPs.

He refused again to call for an immediate ceasefire - on
both sides. The level of civilian casualties in Lebanon has
helped build support for Hizbollah. Yet if George Bush and
Mr Blair had called for an immediate ceasefire and
Hizbollah had refused to comply, Hizbollah would have faced
wide anger, including in the Muslim world.

I was against the Iraq war, I voted against it, but I still
believed at the time that at least something good could
come out of it and that our Prime Minister would work day
and night to bring a peace to the Middle East. This peace
now looks distant.

I believe that the Prime Minister's response is not
representative of our country's feelings and this is why I
have requested, with 15 other Labour MPs, a recalling of

Mohammad Sarwar, Labour MP for Glasgow Central


Viewpoint: UDA Is Putting Its House In Order

04 August 2006

Although there must be reservations about the way the UDA
feud in north Belfast appears to have been resolved, the
fact that it happened without obvious violence is a tribute
to all involved. It was the intervention of Pastor Brian
Madden, in the end, that led to the departure of the
leading dissident, much to the relief of everyone.

There have been similar episodes before, when a local
leader like Johnny Adair, John White or Jim Gray has
challenged the mainstream inner council and been given his
marching orders. This time there was a refusal in north
Belfast to accept the expulsion of the Shoukri brothers and
their chosen successor, Alan McClean, but, by bringing
hundreds of supporters on the streets, the inner council
eventually had its way.

Once again, the police were put in the invidious position
of preventing one set of paramilitary supporters from
menacing another -as happened during a UVF stand-off in
Garnerville last year. While a nationalist crowd looked on,
in fear, policemen in riot gear stopped an invasion of
Westland estate, allowing time for mediation. It is easy to
criticise their hands-off tactics but, most importantly, it

Good sense prevailed, and apparently a victory has been won
by those in the UDA who want to see the organisation move
away from the extortion and drug-peddling with which it has
been associated, since inter-communal violence has
declined. Now that they have imposed their will in one
community, they must take on the dissident elements
everywhere else.

As the reformers, represented by the Ulster Political
Research Group, have discovered recently, there is a
welcome for them in high places whenever they indicate they
want to change direction. Meetings with Peter Hain and
Bertie Ahern have shown that governments are just as
anxious to engage with loyalists as they have been with
republicans, as they move away from violence.

Especially in the nationalist community, there are many who
question the commitment or the ability of the UDA's new
guard to transform themselves from an ill-disciplined,
criminal militia into an unarmed, unthreatening, community
action group. Facing down north Belfast was a start, but
they have a lot of convincing to do.

Whoever takes over from the present criminal elements must
demonstrate that there has been a clear change of policy,
doing away with criminality in all its forms. If not,
communities that have been ruled by fear will continue to
suffer and any government support will be withdrawn.

Northern Ireland needs a clean break from paramilitarism,
now that the external threats are gone. The fear now is
from the mafia culture.


Bunnies Hop Into The West

04 August 2006

The West Belfast Festival - Feile as it's commonly known -
provides a welcome burst of colour in a quiet month. Una
Bradley draws up a wish- list from this year's programme
which runs for a week, starting this Sunday


It's not exactly where you expect to find Echo and the
Bunnymen ... The Liverpudlians, who were the height of
nonchalant cool in the 1980s with hits like The Killing
Moon, Seven Seas and Bring On The Dancing Horses, will play
Andersonstown Leisure Centre on August 12.

It's a great bag for the Feile; not sure it's so good for
Ian McCulloch and co ... is there not a case for hanging up
your guitar with dignity these days, before being reduced
to playing to mums and dads who think £12 for a night away
from the kids sounds like a bargain?

Anuna are the windswept and mystical Clannad lookalikes who
swept to fame singing the opening sequence to what was to
became Riverdance in the 1994, Ireland-hosted Eurovision.

Since then they have sold millions of records, performed in
cathedrals and concert halls all over the world, and
continued to captivate with their blend of sacred and
secular choral music. They will be joined at Clonard
Monastery on August 11 by Colin Reid, the internationally
acclaimed guitarist from east Belfast.


Hugo Hamilton will read from some of his works, including
his award-winning memoir, The Speckled People - a highly-
charged and moving account of growing up in Dun Laoghaire,
the son of a fanatically nationalist, Irish-speaking
father, and a German mother who had been traumatised in
WW2. Because Hugo and his brother spoke Irish and German at
home, questions of language, identity and exclusion are the
very essence of this moving tale. Hamilton will read at the
Rock Bar on August 10 at 4pm. There is limited space for
200 people; doors close at 3.45pm. My advice is to be there
early as this is always a popular slot. The admission is £3
on the door.

Medbh McGuckian is one of Ulster's foremost poets, with 12
collections and a spell as Writer In Residence at Queen's
University Belfast under her belt. Her most recent
collection, The Book of the Angel, was inspired by a close
friendship McGuckian developed with the Hollywood actor
Gregory Peck before he died. She will read from her
intensely imagined and vivid verse at the same event as


Orange Order member and former education officer for the
organisation, Brian Kennaway, will discuss the sentiments
behind his book The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed.
Adding atmosphere will be a vintage Orange Order banner
depicting the venue in which this event takes place - An
Culturlann Irish-language centre on the Falls Road - in a
former life when it was Broadway Presbyterian Church.
Kennaway will give his views on parades, among other
issues, on August 5, at midday.

The relationship between media and politics ... where would
you start, eh? Well, British journalist Peter Taylor knows
a thing or two about the subject, having reported
extensively on Northern Ireland for the BBC since the early
1970s. He has also written several books on the Troubles
including Brits: The War Against the IRA; Loyalists; and
The Provos: IRA and Sinn Fein. He is currently updating his
2005 series of TV documentaries on al Qaida. He will talk
at 1pm on August 11 at St Mary's College.


Gary Mitchell's first play since he and his family fled
their Rathcoole home after death threats from loyalist
paramilitaries will receive its premiere on August 3 at
BIFHE on the Whiterock Road. Perhaps not surprisingly,
Remnants Of Fear is concerned with how paramilitaries still
can wield an inordinate amount of power in working-class
communities. Although part of Feile, the play's run extends
outside the dates of the festival; it runs from August 3-6,
August 10-12 and August 14-19, all at the same venue.

Coole Lady played to great acclaim in Northern Ireland two
years ago and now it's back at St Mary's College on August
12. Written by Sam McCready, a former artistic director at
the Lyric theatre, it's the story of Lady Gregory, a
founder of Dublin's Abbey Theatre and a fellow-traveller
with WB Yeats. In her day she was a formidable figure of
national stature; this reflective drama seeks to unearth
the private individual behind the public persona.


War in Iraq features work from some of the best political
and satirical cartoonists in these islands - Martyn Turner
(Irish Times), Ian Knox (Irish News, Hearts and Minds),
Alex Hughs (The Big Issue, Daily Telegraph), Niall
O'Loughlin (the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), to
mention only a handful - will be on show at St Mary's
College from August 7-11.

Wheelworks is a collection of works created over three
years. The scheme saw 21 groups of young people team up
with professionals across a range of disciplines -
sculpture, painting, film-making, music technology etc.
Groups included young people with disabilities, folk from
ethnic minorities, gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers, and
youths from marginalised republican and loyalist areas.
This exhibition is also showing at St Mary's from August 7-

The West Belfast Festival takes place from August 6-13 at a
range of venues. For full programme details and booking
information, see


Republic Roads Are Amongst The Most Deadly In Europe

By Lesley-Anne Henry
04 August 2006

Ulster motorists face some of the most dangerous roads in
Europe when they cross the border, according to a report
out today.

A survey by the RAC Foundation found that drivers from
Northern Ireland were twice as likely to have a fatal car
crash in the Republic as at home.

The Republic ranks alongside Austria as the fourth most
dangerous places to drive, it said.

Last year 396 people died on roads in the Republic and to
date the figure stands at 240.

This compares with 135 road deaths last year north of the

The figures were highlighted by the foundation today as
part of National Motorway Month. Instead of using minor
roads, drivers have been encouraged to stick to motorways
where the risk of a fatal accident is lower.

RAC Foundation executive director Edmund King said: "High
holiday spirits and poor local knowledge can turn a drive
to the beach into a trip to A&E.

"British motorists driving abroad need to expect the
unexpected at all times if they want to bring home holiday
photos rather than x-rays."

A number of campaigns have been launched in a bid to make
drivers in the south take care on the roads.

Lurgan mother Ursula Quinn, whose teenage daughter was
killed in a smash in Co Laois in 2002, launched the cross-
border 'Driving Kills' campaign. Ursula is currently
undertaking a 150-mile trek to the site of the crash at
Ballybrittas to raise awareness for her campaign.

Greece topped the poll with motorists five times more
likely to crash there than in the UK.

Other statistics released by the foundation included:

British motorists are the most uptight in Europe, with 87%
agreeing that they are sometimes very annoyed by other

Belgian drivers are the most laid-back, with just 55%
annoyed by other people's driving;

French motorists top the road-rage league table, with 60%
admitting that they have behaved aggressively to other road


New Mullingar Bypass Officially Opened To Traffic

04/08/2006 - 12:22:29

The new Mullingar bypass on the N52 in Co Westmeath has
been officially opened to traffic today.

The National Roads Authority expects the road to remove
around 70% of traffic from Mullingar town centre.

The 5km bypass cost €25m to construct.

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