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August 31, 2006

UVF Sinn Fein Massacre Plot

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 08/31/06
UVF Sinn Fein Massacre Plot
BT 08/31/06 Loyalists Claim Dublin Bomb Could Have Wiped Out SF
EX 08/31/06 Warning Of 25-Year-Old Bomb Sparks Mansion House Scare
IN 08/31/06 PSNI Silent On Loyalist Arms Finds Says UPRG
IN 08/31/06 Man Accused Of Loyalist Murder Bid Refused Bail
IN 08/31/06 Cost Of Bloody Sunday Inquiry Defended
IN 08/31/06 Death Threats To SF Councillors
IN 08/31/06 Republicans Blamed For Targeting DPP
BT 08/31/06 Prominent Estate Agent Cleared Of Money Laundering Charges
TC 08/31/06 Fr Troy Claims That Sectarian Crimes Are Not Being Punished
BT 08/31/06 Just What Do You Have To Do To Be Kept Locked Up In Ulster?
IN 08/31/06 Opin: DUP Is Beneficiary Of Daft Eejits’ Ramblings
BT 08/31/06 Opin: Hothouse Talks Must Be At Stormont
BT 08/31/06 Opin: McAleese Didn't Help The Cause Of Child Rights In Ulster
BN 08/31/06 NRA To Reveal Details Of Archaeological Digs On Road Sites
BT 08/31/06 Top US Judge Praises Children's Conference
IN 08/31/06 Gaybo Returns To Airwaves
IN 08/31/06 Last Supper Gift ‘Amazes’ Fr Troy
PV 08/31/06 Margaret R. 'Judy' O'Neill, 86 RIP

UVF Sinn Fein Massacre Plot

Bomb would have killed republican leadership

By Brian Rowan
31 August 2006

The UVF planned to "wipe out" the republican leadership in
a Dublin bomb attack just weeks after the ending of the
1981 hunger strike.

That remarkable claim - 25 years after the event - comes in
an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph, in which
the loyalist group said it had passed details on the
planned bombing to the Irish government in recent days.

The UVF also warned it could not rule out that remnants of
the bomb could still be in place in one of Dublin's best-
known buildings.

According to the UVF's most senior leaders, a bomb was
concealed close to the platform at the 1981 Sinn Fein Ard
Fheis at the Mansion House in Dublin, but the device

The party conference is remembered for Danny Morrison's
Armalite and ballot box speech.

"The UVF saw the hunger strike at that time as an extension
of the IRA's campaign - its war against the State," one of
the loyalist leaders told this newspaper.

"The IRA probably thought it was going to be their finest
hour . . . it was almost our finest hour," he claimed.

He said a UVF unit was "dispatched to wipe out the whole
leadership" of the republican movement.

"At the time, unfortunately, that device failed to go
(explode). It was placed very near the platform party and
timed to go off as keynote speeches were about to be
delivered," he added.

In the interview in Belfast, the UVF claimed the bomb was
in a fire extinguisher and was concealed in a ceiling above
the Ard Fheis platform.

And it further claimed to have passed details on the
planned attack to the Irish government "through the usual
conduit" within the past week.

On what happened to the bomb, one of the UVF leaders
present yesterday offered the following explanation.

"There are several theories on what may or may not have

"First of all, it could have been discovered and not

"Secondly, it could have been removed (but) not in the
knowledge of what it was. And, thirdly, as pointed out, it
could still be there."

He continued: "There are people still within the realms of
the UVF that know that that bomb was constructed and it was
taken to Dublin and it was left there.

"I suppose if push came to shove it could certainly be
almost proved that the event did take place."

There is speculation, yet to be confirmed, that the reason
for the passing of information to the Irish government was
to try to get an assurance that if anything is found there
will be no follow-up action against the UVF.

That organisation and the closely linked Red Hand Commando
will make a declaration on future intentions if a devolved
government is achieved by the November 24 political

The loyalist leadership says it believes that the "Provo
war is finished", and it says there is no threat from the
UVF to Raymond McCord or any journalist.

Loyalists Claim Dublin Bomb Could Have Wiped Out SF

As the UVF continues consultation with members that
observers hope will lead to the terror group standing down,
BRIAN ROWAN speaks to its leadership about a Mansion House
massacre plot, danger from republicans and threats to

31 August 2006

It may well be the telling of one of its "war" stories
before it comes to leave the stage.

I have no way of proving that the UVF left a bomb in Dublin
in 1981 - a device that it says was placed above the heads
of the republican leadership - Morrison, Adams, O'Bradaigh
and all of the others who had a place on that Sinn Fein
platform a quarter of a century ago.

But I know the men who I spoke to yesterday - men at the
very top of the UVF and Red Hand Commando organisations -
the men of the 1991 loyalist truce and 1994 ceasefire. They
are the men that matter, the men of the big decisions.

The future of loyalism, its place in the peace process, is
in their hands.

It was they who asked to see me yesterday and I agreed.

I had my questions, but it was one of the loyalists in the
room who introduced the story - the claim - about the 1981
bomb and that plan to "wipe out" the republican leadership.

If successful, he said it would have been their "finest
hour", but the bomb "malfunctioned".

That is the UVF's story - the remarkable claim to emerge in
my two-hour meeting with the paramilitary leaders in
Belfast yesterday.

We should know soon what information if any has been passed
to the Irish Government in recent days, and we should find
out soon why it was passed on.

Is this the UVF wanting to trumpet one of its near hits?

And is it trying to ensure that if anything is found, that
if anything can be proved, that the forensic and policing
follow-up will not arrive at its door?

All of this is possible.

But if the story of the bomb is true, where is it now, what
happened, did it sit there unexploded all this time, or
could it, as the UVF suggest, have been unknowingly
removed, possibly during renovations at the Mansion House.

"The manufacture and construction of a bomb of that nature
would suggest a number of things," one of the UVF leaders
told me.

"The type of explosives used; if you were to make a threat
assessment, it would be that the stuff is now inert. If it
has existed there for 25 years, the possibility of it going
off tomorrow morning is unlikely.

"Obviously if there was a timing device on it, by now the
battery would have run out. If there were batteries to
provide the power to detonate the explosives, (they) would
have run out. So the chances of it going off are indeed

So why then tell us about the bomb now?

It takes us back to my opening thought – this may well be
some telling of a war story before the curtain comes down
on a battle of 30 years and more.

The men in the room yesterday said they consider themselves
to be "fourth generation UVF".

"What we are trying to do now is prevent a fifth generation
UVF," one of them told me.

So, set aside the claims about the 1981 bomb, and read what
else the loyalist leaders had to say yesterday.

They now believe that the "Provo war is finished". Yes, the
IRA would be "capable of re-starting a campaign", but the
UVF's threat assessment is "there's not the will or the
inclination" to do so.

And the loyalists say the security forces should be left to
"force" the republican dissidents "off the stage".

But a declaration on the future of the UVF and Red Hand
Commando still depends on a political deal - on devolved
government at Stormont.

The UVF still wants the Irish Government to make clear its
position on joint-authority - on a political Plan B if
Paisley and the Provos can't make a deal.

"In the event of devolution, it will certainly mean that
the UVF and Red Hand will make that statement of intent,
but we don't want this to be used to put pressure on those
unionist politicians involved in the negotiations," one of
the loyalist leaders told me.

But then he added: "Now is the time to bite the bullet, to
go in (to government) and guarantee the Northern Ireland
position while unionism is strong and confident."

He said this should be done before Sinn Fein becomes
politically stronger on both sides of the border.

The Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey recently called on
the loyalist paramilitaries to engage with the Independent
Monitoring Commission, and the decommissioning body, the
IICD, but that won't happen this side of a political deal.

"It's not for any sinister reason," one of the UVF leaders
told me, "but the mechanism of this consultation (inside
the UVF and Red Hand) has always been about, this is
ourselves making these decisions without any other agendas
playing out."

A statement on targeting, exiling, recruitment and
punishment attacks will also have to wait until after any
political deal, but the UVF did address a number of
specifics yesterday - the reported threats to Raymond
McCord and a journalist.

"We say quite clearly that both Raymond McCord and his
journalist friends are not under any threat from the UVF.
We say that quite clearly … No current threat, no future

The future of the UVF and Red Hand Commando - their leaving
the stage - now depends on the politics of the next few

But in the telling of their war stories, in the writing of
a new "code of conduct" and in the sending out of big hints
about what they are waiting to say and do, the message is
about them getting ready for peace.

The curtain is coming down. Why else are we being told
about that bomb in 1981?

Warning Of 25-Year-Old Bomb Sparks Mansion House Scare

A security alert is underway at the Mansion House in Dublin
this morning following warnings that an unexploded device
planted by loyalists 25 years ago may still be in the

Gardaí and members of the Defence Forces are searching the
building and have cordoned off the parking area just
outside while the operation continues.

The alert follows a telephone warning received at around

The caller apparently said a bomb had been planted at the
Mansion House by the UVF ahead of the Sinn Féin Árd Fheis
in 1981.

A small number of cleaning staff who were in the building
this morning were immediately removed to the street, but
traffic has not been curtailed and no nearby buildings have
been evacuated.

PSNI Silent On Loyalist Arms Finds Says UPRG

By Barry McCaffrey

The PSNI was last night accused of covering up a series of
loyalist arms finds. In a highly unusual move, the UDA-
linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) challenged
police to explain why they have failed to publicise weapons
seizures in north Belfast in recent weeks.

The UPRG’s challenge comes despite the fact that the
weapons recovered by officers belonged to the UDA.

Sources in the paramilitary group say police recovered at
least four rifles, two handguns, ammunition and explosives
during searches of the Westland estate

However, loyalists say they are "mystified" as to why the
force has not publicised the arms finds.

The PSNI searches followed
an internal UDA feud when supporters of leading north
Belfast loyalists Andre and Ihab Shoukri fled the Westland
estate after hundreds of ‘mainstream’ UDA men marched on the
area four weeks ago.

At the time Protestant clergyman Brian Madden said he had
witnessed Shoukri supporters brandishing rifles and
handguns in the area as police held the mainstream UDA at

"I saw machine guns on people’s shoulders and handguns," he

"I was taken into a house, talking to people who were
pointing guns, swinging guns. They were very, very angry."

Despite searches on the estate immediately after Shoukri
supporters had fled police said only one weapon had been

However, a UPRG spokesman last night challenged this

"We know from Pastor Brian Madden that this gang was
heavily armed," he said.

"The PSNI is saying it only recovered one weapon. However,
we know they actually recovered at least six weapons,
ammunition and explosives.

"If the PSNI have recovered these weapons why haven’t they
said so? Are they trying to cover something up?

"If these weapons are still at large they could fall into
the hands of children.

"Police have a responsibility to say what they have

A PSNI spokeswoman rejected the UPRG criticism.

"There were a number of searches on the Westland estate in
recent weeks during which a number of weapons and munitions
were recovered," she said.

"We are not going to elaborate further on those security

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness last night said he
welcomed the seizure of illegal weapons but also questioned
why police had failed to publicise the fact.

"The removal of any guns from the streets is welcome," he

"It is unusual that police seem to have chosen not to
publicise these finds. It may be because of security
considerations or some other reasons."

Man Accused Of Loyalist Murder Bid Refused Bail

By Staff Reporter

A man accused of attempting to murder Mark Haddock, the
north Belfast loyalist alleged to have been a Special
Branch informer, was refused bail in the High Court

Ronald Trevor Bowe, (29) from Mount Vernon Gardens,
Belfast, was alleged to have shot Haddock six times at
close range in May.

The court was told that Haddock had named Bowe as the
gunman and also identified a

co-accused who had driven Bowe to the scene of the shooting
outside an Orange Hall at Newtownabbey.

Crown lawyer Charles McKay said it was alleged Bowe was a
leading figure in the UVF and there was a serious risk of
justice being obstructed if he was released on bail.

At the time of the shooting, Haddock was on bail awaiting
judgement on a charge of attempted murder.

Bowe’s lawyer Jonathan Browne said Haddock’s bail had been
revoked and he was now being held in the hospital wing of
Maghaberry Prison.

Refusing bail, Mr Justice Morgan said the shooting was a
well-planned and deliberate act with a strong paramilitary
flavour which raised the possibility of Bowe committing
further offences if he was released.

Cost Of Bloody Sunday Inquiry Defended

By Seamus McKinney

A BROTHER of one of the men shot dead on Bloody Sunday has
defended a £34 million bill for computers and IT systems
used in the Saville Inquiry.

Michael McKinney, a brother of Bloody Sunday victim
William, said all inquiry costs were made necessary by the
failure of the 1972 Widgery Tribunal to deal with the
issues fairly.

Mr McKinney said the use of high-tech information
technology was the only way to deal with such a vast
quantity of documents.

"At the end of the day if the inquiry had not used such a
high-quality IT system, we would still be sifting through
evidence and would still be sitting in the inquiry," he

Answering a parliamentary question, NIO minister Paul
Goggins told Conservative MP Theresa Villiers that the
overall cost of the tribunal to date is £172 million.

Since being set up in 1998, the Saville Inquiry into the
1972 killings has studied thousands of documents and
witness statements.

Virtually all were shown to the public through large
screens at the tribunal at Derry’s Guildhall, while a
transcript of proceedings was also available at the end of
each day of hearings. A virtual model of the Bogside was
also prepared on computer.

Lord Saville insisted that live proceedings be broadcast to
a Derry theatre and to a press centre.

When the inquiry moved to London, the entire IT system then
had to be replicated at Central Hall and proceedings were
broadcast to Derry.

The cost was branded "horrendous" yesterday by East Derry
MP Gregory Campbell, who said he could not imagine any
public inquiry anywhere in the world running up a similar
IT cost.

A spokeswoman for the Saville Inquiry declined to comment
on the IT costs.

Death Threats To SF Councillors

By Maeve Connolly

DEATH threats have been made against Ballymoney council’s
three Sinn Fein councillors.

For the second time in three days Anita Cavlan received a
threatening phone call to her Dunloy home in which the
caller told her a bomb had been placed under her car.

Nothing was found on either occasion.

Ms Cavlan said all the calls had been made by the same man
with an English accent phoning from Spain .

She was woken at 5.50am yesterday by the caller who told
her that she and two Sinn Finn colleagues on Ballymoney
council, assembly member Philip McGuigan and Daithi McKay,
would "all be killed".

"He phoned me back again to say ‘have a nice breakfast
because it will probably be your last because you’re dead,
dead, dead’," Ms Cavlan said.

Army bomb disposal experts sealed off Fassagh Park and
later declared the alert to have been a hoax.

Coleraine Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard received hoax
calls last weekend.

Republicans Blamed For Targeting DPP

By Keith Bourke

Republicans have been blamed for planting a bomb just hours
ahead of a district policing partnership meeting in Co
Antrim yesterday.

British army bomb experts carried out a controlled
explosion on a device planted at Merville House in
Newtownabbey yesterday morning, where the DPP meeting went
ahead last night.

A forensic examination of the device, found attached to the
front door, led police to describe it as "crude but not

During the controlled explosion the door was scorch

Newtownabbey DPP chairman, DUP councillor Paul Girvan, said
those responsible had no regard for the community.

"I believe that republican elements were responsible," he

"This isn’t just a political message, it’s a message to
people here from those responsible that they don’t care
about the people living here.

"This is a community facility and we as community have to
put a stop to things like this."

Mr Girvan said older people wholived near Merville House
had "suffered considerable disruption".

"Those that are interested in this type of process having
nothing to contribute to Northern Ireland," he said.

"This act has to be condemned by all quarters."

Newtownabbey DPP manager Campbell Dixon said Merville House
has only recently been renovated.

"The house only reopened in June following considerable
renovations," he said.

PSNI district commander for Newtownabbey, Superintendent
Will Kerr said the security alert was designed to cause
major disruption and intimidate people from attending the

"Anyone engaging in this type of activity has absolutely
nothing to offer the local community," he said.

"The vast majority of local people want an effective and
professional policing service and DPP meetings play a
crucial role in giving the local the community the
opportunity to hold police to account and raise key
concerns that they have."


Prominent Estate Agent Cleared Of Money Laundering Charges
stays silent

By Lisa Smyth
31 August 2006

Estate agent Philip Johnston was last night staying silent
about the collapse of money laundering charges against him.

The case against the 40-year-old businessman was dropped
yesterday, following a year-long probe by detectives
investigating the financial affairs of murdered loyalist
paramilitary Jim Gray.

Following the Public Prosecution Service's decision not to
proceed, Mr Johnston issued a statement saying that his
"sudden and unexplained" arrest last year had "had an
irreparable and devastating impact on [his] life".

But he declined to comment further when the Belfast
Telegraph called at his east Belfast home last night.

Asked if he was delighted at yesterday's developments, Mr
Johnston replied through a half-opened door: "You'll have
to speak to my agent."

Earlier, as Mr Johnston's lawyers asked angry questions
about why their 40-year-old client had been arrested "in a
blaze of publicity", the National Association of Estate
Agents said his membership would be "reconsidered".

Questions pile up after the dramatic dropping of charges

By Jonathan McCambridge

Questions were mounting last night over the police
prosecution of a Belfast estate agent following the
dramatic collapse of charges against him relating to an
alleged money laundering ring.

Philip Johnston (40) told how his life had been devastated
after he was arrested by police probing the finances of
slain UDA godfather Jim Gray.

Mr Johnston had faced four money laundering charges
following his arrest in April 2005 but yesterday the Public
Prosecution Service decided the charges would not proceed,
prompting anger from a DUP Policing Board member at the
police operation.

The former estate agent was forced to sell off his business
after his arrest.

It emerged last night he could be readmitted to the
National Association of Estate Agents.

Mr Johnston said: "My sudden and unexplained arrest in
April 2005 and subsequent loss of my reputation, my
business, friends, and colleagues - with the exception of a
few - has had an irreparable and devastating impact on my
life and at the end of this nightmare ordeal I learned that
the prosecution confirmed that all charges were withdrawn
and would not be proceeded with."

His solicitor Paul Dougan said many questions still remain

He said: "Firstly, why was Mr Johnston arrested amid a
blaze of publicity in April 2005?

"Secondly, why was the prosecution against him conducted in
the glare of the media spotlight with devastating personal,
professional and emotional consequences for Mr Johnston?

"And thirdly, why has it taken the prosecution almost 17
months to decide to withdraw these charges?"

It is understood Mr Johnston may consider legal action and
his prosecution has been raised with the Police Ombudsman.

He was first arrested as part of a huge police probe into
an alleged money laundering ring. It began after police
stopped loyalist Jim Gray as he drove towards the border,
allegedly with a banker's draft worth €10,000 and more than
£2,700 in cash.

Later last year Jim Gray was shot dead in east Belfast.

Last night the PSNI would not comment on the collapse of
the case, stating it was a matter for the Public
Prosecution Service.

The PPS also refused to comment although there is
speculation they made their decision based on a lack of

Policing Board member Ian Paisley jnr was critical of the
police investigation.

He said: "This is an unbelievably shambolic state of
affairs which has cost careers.

"One of the most highly respected estate agents in Northern
Ireland has had his name dragged through the mud."

Priest Claims That Sectarian Crimes Are Not Being Punished
by Courts

Posted on August 31,

By The Universe: North Belfast priest Fr Aidan Troy has
spoken of families feeling unprotected after it was
revealed that fewer than one in every 10 sectarian crimes
in Northern Ireland comes before the courts.

"Communities don't feel safe in their own homes. They have
a sense no one will be brought to account," Fr Troy said.

"If a family is intimidated out of their home somebody has
to be held accountable. If police can’t bring that about
the whole situation needs to be reviewed."

Police records showed five sectarian incidents happened in
Northern Ireland every day. Yet of the 1,470 sectarian
crimes recorded by police in the year ending in March, only
142 resulted in a charge or court summons.

Just What Do You Have To Do To Be Kept Locked Up In Ulster?

Following another high profile bail controversy in our
courts, Crime Correspondent Jonathan McCambridge examines
why suspected criminals are being freed to walk the streets

31 August 2006

A questions that has been asked numerous times in the past
week - just what do you have to do to be kept locked up in
Northern Ireland?

Recently a Belfast court released on bail a prolific
burglar with more than 100 convictions. This was despite
police opposing the application and categorically stating
that he would reoffend if freed. The 29-year-old was
returned to prison within a week after failing to meet his
bail conditions.

While bail policy is an enigma at the best of times,
decisions like this can make it seem unfathomable to the
public. This lessens public confidence in a criminal
justice system already derided for rising violent crime
rates and soft sentencing.

There are approximately 3,000 bail applications made in the
High Court in Northern Ireland each year for serious
crimes. Applications are also made in Magistrates courts
for non-scheduled offences. But how do judges and
magistrates decide who to release?

The first thing to point out is that the gravity of the
offence has very little specific bearing on a bail
application. It is not unusual for murder suspects to be
granted bail in Northern Ireland.

A written submission from the Lord Chief Justice's Office
to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee report on
organised crime pointed out that the incorporation of the
European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom
into domestic law means there is now a presumption in
favour of granting bail unless there are "relevant and
sufficient" grounds to keep the suspect in custody.

The European Convention spells out what these grounds are
in terms of risk:

- A risk that the accused might not present himself for

- A risk of witness intimidation;

- A risk that further offences might be committed.

But the accused's record is only one factor. Strasbourg
case law states that even when a judge has identified the
risks these must be balanced against the human rights of
the untried accused.

Conditions can generally include daily reports to a local
PSNI station, a curfew, alcohol bans, exclusion zones and
no inteference with witnesses or co-accused. If any of
these conditions are violated the suspect is returned to
custody; as in the case of loyalist Mark Haddock, who was
shot earlier this year while on bail. A High Court judge
later returned him to jail because he had entered
Newtownabbey, part of his exclusion zone.

In many cases the main reason for not granting bail to a
suspect is the lack of a suitable address for the defendant
to live at. Once an address is found they can be released
under conditions.

There are other factors which also weigh heavily on bail.
Northern Ireland has the slowest moving criminal justice
system in the UK. A recent report by Northern Ireland's
Criminal Justice Inspector found that on average it take
360 days for an adult case to move from remand to disposal
in our Crown Courts.

In addition to delay it must also be considered that
Northern Ireland's jails are virtually full. In Maghaberry,
which is the main prison for servicing our courts there
were 778 inmates this week, already above its stated

Despite sporadic bursts of dissatisfaction over bail
decisions from the public, media, politicians and police
there is unlikely to be any tightening of the regulations.
In the vast majority of cases the suspects turn up for
their trial.

But bail can cause added hurt for victims. In 2004, north
Belfast man Thomas Venus was beaten and kicked to death on
the York Road. The following year his sister Julie was
shopping in the Abbeycentre when she came face to face with
one of the men accused of killing him, who had recently
been bailed.

She told the Belfast Telegraph: "I did not know what to say
or what to do. I was so angry I just wanted to cry. How can
he be walking about when Thomas is dead? How do you think
that makes me feel?"

Charles Conlon

Conlon was facing 134 charges, including 25 counts of
assault against police, when his bail conditions were
relaxed in october 2003. conlon told the high court that he
had difficulty keeping his bail conditions which included
signing on daily with police and a curfew. A Crown lawyer
said that Conlon had broken his terms 16 times in less than
two months and had committed road traffic offences while on
bail. The judge softened his bail conditions by requiring
him to sign on with police only once a week and extending
his curfew. Conlon, described as the 'most dangerous
prisoner in Ulster', was found dead in north Belfast in
November 2004.

Mark Haddock

The former UVF leader was charged in august 2003 with
attempting to murder pub doorman trevor gowdy. initially
haddock was refused bail after police warnings over
violence if he was released. however, almost two-and-a-half
years later his trial was still not under way and a judge
bailed him after serious concerns were raised about his
human rights. Four months later he was ambushed and shot
several times in a murder bid in Newtownabbey. As Haddock
was recovering in hospital his bail was revoked because he
had entered Newtownabbey, in violation of his conditions.

Ihab Shoukri

The leading loyalist was on bail facing charges of
membership of a proscribed organisation in march. police
tried to have his bail revoked but belfast crown court
threw out the application because shoukri had not broken
any of the specific details of his bail conditions. The
membership charges against him were later dismissed in
court but he has since been charged once more with UDA
membership.THE former UDA 'brigadier', nicknamed 'Doris
Day' was facing charges of money laundering and possessing
the proceeds of crime when he was bailed by the High Court
in September 2005. Police and the Crown opposed bail,
arguing that Gray's release could spark violence. Less than
a month later Gray was murdered outside a house in east

Opin: DUP Is Beneficiary Of Daft Eejits’ Ramblings

The Wednesday Column
By Brian Feeney

There was to be a meeting of the Flat Earth Society (Irish
republican section) in Toome last night. They were to try
to think how to avoid falling off the edge of the world. We
were promised a gathering of Real IRA, Continuity IRA, and
wait for it, INLA members ‘disillusioned with the
leadership of Gerry Adams’.

So there you are now. You didn’t know that Gerry Adams was
the leader of the Real IRA, Continuity IRA and INLA.

Interesting nevertheless that they all acknowledge that
Adams is the leader of republicanism.

Their beef is that they don’t like where he’s leading the
movement. Too bad. They’re not in it. So after years of
ineffectual bitching about him they’ve decided to look for
‘a way forward for republicanism’.

In other words they are bereft of ideas. One of these
political luminaries told this newspaper that they’re agin
the Good Friday Agreement. "The agreement is finished

He added: "It’s a lame duck."

No mate – if it’s finished that’s a dead duck.

He went on: "That is one of the reasons this meeting is
happening now. Its time has come."

Hard to know how a meeting could happen if its time hadn’t
come and indeed its time had not come because the meeting
was cancelled due to too much interest.

All this guy needs is a straight man to say ‘boom, boom’
and he could scratch a living as a stand-up comedian.

Normally this sort of guff could be dismissed as a silly
season story, to fill pages in August when everyone’s on
holiday and there’s no news. In fact it was floated weeks
ago when we were told that about 40 IRA and Sinn Fein
members in south Derry had defected. Then the Israelis
abolished the silly season by spending most of August
destroying Lebanon. Now the story is resurrected again in
Sunday newspapers.

A "whole IRA brigade" has split from the movement the
papers inform us.

Seriously? The really active south Derry brigade, average
age, what, 45 plus? There’s you thinking all that romantic
stuff about brigades and battalions went out when northern
command was formed 30 years ago and reorganised the IRA
into Active Service Units. Of course the point in talking
about an ‘entire IRA brigade’ is to conjure up the prospect
of a renewed campaign by experienced IRA members and indeed
one headline warned ‘IRA split adds to violence worries’.

Leave aside the small technical point that this ‘entire
brigade’ has no guns or explosives, you don’t suppose
Special Branch and MI5 know the names of any of these
dissidents, do you?

What sort of daft eejits call a meeting and let it be known
members of IRA splinter groups would be present? What a

The real question is who does it benefit? The answer is
very clear – the DUP. Those newspapers which tried to hype
up the story in July and when that failed regurgitated it
on Sunday are not known for their close ties to

If there’s one development the DUP nay-sayers would love
it’s a new campaign by IRA dissidents called by any name
you like. Republican violence is the great bogeyman DUP
politicians use to scare their voters. We’ve just gone
through the quietest summer for decades. The only organised
violence is loyalist. The DUP have absolutely no excuse to
avoid sharing power in the north.

Isn’t it therefore a remarkable coincidence that at exactly
this point the republican section of the Flat Earth Society
emerges to combine with the Flat Earthers in the DUP to try
to sustain each other’s fantasies?

Still, when the republican Flat Earthers finally have their
meeting in some hole in the wall they won’t even be able to
agree to form a party, let alone agree what the party’s

After all, one of their spokesmen doesn’t know the
difference between a lame duck and a dead duck.

Even so, whether dead duck or red herring, they’re an
essential ingredient for the DUP’s pot.

Opin: Hothouse Talks Must Be At Stormont

31 August 2006

Both the main unionist parties are justifiably sceptical
about the suggestion that a stately home in Scotland should
be booked for intensive talks on the restoration of
devolution. There is no evidence that transporting the
politicians to a neutral venue, away from their
constituencies, produces solutions that last.

There is a long list of failed initiatives arising from
such meetings, although one of the first, at Sunningdale in
1973, provided the first agreement on power-sharing, soon
to be defeated by a loyalist strike. In recent years Weston
Park, in 2001, and Leeds Castle, in 2004, were the scenes
of abortive attempts by the British and Irish governments
to revive the Good Friday Agreement institutions.

The Leeds Castle meeting is best remembered for the near-
agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein on a return to the
Stormont Assembly, which only failed because the unionists
wanted transparency on IRA decommissioning. Any trust that
had been built, however, evaporated within weeks, following
IRA involvement in the Northern Bank heist and the Robert
McCartney murder.

Now, it seems that Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are prepared
to try again to break the stalemate by the dubious method
of taking the politicians away from their normal
environment and hoping that some consensus will emerge. It
is a long shot, as history has shown, and may reflect a
sense of desperation in London and Dublin, as five of the
eight months given for a resolution have passed without
measurable progress.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have continued meeting, always at
arm's length, in the Preparation for Government committee
at Stormont, but the only agreement has been that if
responsibility for justice and policing is to be returned
to a devolved Assembly it will be under a single
department. Since the DUP has ruled out power-sharing until
Sinn Fein support the PSNI and the IRA has virtually
disbanded, the decision is academic - and, of course, it
eliminates the possibility of the parties obtaining equal
representation, as separate Ministers.

The hope must be that the slow pace of negotiations to deal
with the main sticking points will pick up when the
Assembly is recalled on September 11 and the MLAs can have
their say. After an unprecedentedly quiet marching season,
however, interest in politics is at a low ebb, even if
there is widespread public concern over the new rates and
water tax, imposed by the direct rule regime.

The scene will be set, providing that the IMC gives the IRA
a clean bill of health in October, for hothouse talks
leading up to the November 24 deadline. Holding them
anywhere but Stormont or Hillsborough will make no
difference - and may even be counter-productive.

Opin: Why Mary McAleese Didn't Help The Cause Of Child Rights In Ulster

By Eamonn McCann
31 August 2006

The Ardoyne woman has been back in Belfast this week,
generating headlines along the lines of: North is an
inspiration on child issues, says President.

The NIO top brass will have been delighted. Campaigners for
children's rights have been dismayed.

Mrs McAleese was at the Waterfront, addressing the World
Congress of the International Association of Youth and
Family Judges and Magistrates, attended by about 500
delegates from 50 countries.

This is only the second time the event has been held in
Britain or Ireland. The congress has previously met in
Turin, Rio, Melbourne, Montreal. Its remit is to draw up
recommendations on children's rights to be presented to the
United Nations and the Council of Europe.

In addition to Mrs McAleese, guest speakers included the
head of the UK justice system, Lord Falconer, retired US
Supreme Court judge Sandra Day O'Connor and UN Deputy High
Commissioner Mrs Mehr Khan Williams.

Local bodies represented included the NIO, the NI Court
Service, the PSNI, the probation service, the Social
Services Inspectorate, the Public Prosecution Service and
the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

A formidable gathering of establishment heavyweights, then.
Not everybody's favourite company to spend a week with. But
a heaven-sent opportunity, campaigners thought, to
highlight the inadequacies in provision for children in
need in Northern Ireland and the urgency of new thinking
and radical change.

What they got, thanks to a typical piece of McAleese light-
mindedness, was 'North an inspiration on child issues.'

To be fair to Mrs. McAleese, the headline may slightly have
misrepresented her. It was hard to tell. Not only does Aras
an Uachtarain evidently lack a researcher who might brief
the President on the basic facts of the subjects she is
about to pronounce on, it doesn't seem to run to a decent
speech-writer, either.

"You could not have come to a more inspirational place for
here, even as we speak, children are being born in
Belfast's maternity hospitals ..."

Maternity hospitals. Well, yes. That's where you'd find
children being born, right enough.

She went on: "This generation wants, with an urgency,
peace, good neighbourliness, respect for difference,
tolerance, a city that is a happy and safe home for

It is possible, just about, to read this as meaning that
it's the scale of the challenge, and the qualities which
this challenge might bring forth, which provides
"inspiration on child issues". But, if so, it's the
equivalent of: 'Kenya: an inspiration on AIDS issues.' Or:
'Blair - an inspiration on honesty.'

But even if the media nuance wasn't exact, the broad thrust
of what McAleese had to say was clear enough - that
Northern Ireland is facing up to the needs of its young
people in creditable fashion.

Last year, in a report for Save the Children and the
Children's Law Centre, the University of Ulster School of
Policy Studies found "considerable evidence ... that
Northern Ireland has higher levels of children living in
poverty than any other region in the UK or Ireland. Every
other child in the region is living in, or at risk of,
poverty... The relative disadvantage faced by some groups,
particularly the children of lone parents and of a disabled
parent, is actually increasing ... Per capita expenditure
on Family and Child Care programmes has been between a
third and a quarter less than that in England."

And so on. In terms of the key factors which bring children
and young people within the ambit of the justice system,
far from moving inspirationally forward, Northern Ireland
is lagging sadly behind. When we consider the most
vulnerable young people of all, with learning difficulties
or mental health problems, categories hugely over-
represented in the justice system, and eventually in jails,
the situation last year was dire.

The Social Services Inspectorate reported of the North's
only two inpatient mental health units for young people
that: "Both facilities were operating without the full
multidisciplinary staffing necessary ... Both had
significant waiting lists ... Neither service was operating
in buildings that were suited to their purpose ..."

Hospitals which accommodated children with learning
difficulties, in some cases for years, were found to be
providing "wholly unacceptable environments for the care of
children or young people". The fact that children who did
not have nursing needs were living out their lives in
hospitals "indicates a catastrophic failure". That was last
year. Maybe things have gotten better since, what with all
the inspiration which Mrs McAleese has detected thrumming
through the system?

In March last, addressing the problem of youth suicide,
Minister Shaun Woodward admitted that at the end of 2005,
1,035 children and young people were awaiting a first
outpatient appointment in a psychiatric special unit - and
that 10% of these had been waiting more than a year.

In the Commons in June, Iris Robinson asked Health Minister
Paul Goggins "what progress is being made in providing (a)
sufficient facilities and (b) adequate professional and
nursing expertise for children and young adults with
psychiatric needs in each board area".

The only concrete advance Goggins could point to was an
"interim Regional Adolescent In-patient Unit at
Knockbracken". The unit can cater for eight young people.

In this regard, things are not getting better. They are
getting worse. That's the reality which McAleese's
chirruping has served to obscure.

If all she had to say was what she said at the Waterfront,
she'd have been better off saying nothing. The children and
young people of the North might have been better served.

You have to wonder about the implications for the peace
process of the damage genial UDA brigadier Jackie McDonald
is doing to his credibility by association with her.

NRA To Reveal Details Of Archaeological Digs On Road Sites

31/08/2006 - 07:57:19

Details of the latest archaeological digs on the sites of
new road projects are due to be outlined at a special
seminar hosted by the National Roads Authority in Dublin

The NRA says major road schemes are turning up dozens of
previously unknown sites, which are then being excavated
and recorded for posterity.

It says artefacts dating from the early bronze age right up
to the 19th Century are being uncovered right across the

Heritage campaigners frequently criticise the excavation of
archaeological sites to make way for new roads, saying many
should be preserved for future generations.

However, the NRA says road projects have given
archaeologists an opportunity to learn more about Ireland's

Top US Judge Praises Children's Conference

By Chris Thornton
31 August 2006

The judge who made history by becoming the first woman to
serve on America's Supreme Court has praised the conference
she attended on the protection of children during her week-
long stay in Belfast.

Sandra Day O'Connor is making her second visit to Northern
Ireland to speak at the World Congress of Family Judges and

Justice O'Connor, who retired this year after 25 years on
the US's highest court, told the Belfast Telegraph she
agreed to attend the conference because she feels the
subject is important.

"Viewed worldwide, the statistics on problems with children
and youth are alarming," she said.

"There are so many who are impoverished. There are children
who suffer from Aids, and this could be largely prevented
if we were wise enough to do it. And there are children
being conscripted into military service at the age of 10
and 12, which is appalling.

"It's an area that we just have to work on because children
are our future. They're everything to us. They depend on
adults for protection and care, and many are not getting
it. So it's a subject that I'm happy to participate in."

She said the international exchanges afforded by the
conference are useful in developing law.

She cited a speech by Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of
Pakistan's Supreme Court, as an example.

"It turns out that he is being very constructive in
Pakistan in changing some old practices that were troubling
- increasing the age when girls can be married," she said.

Justice O'Connor said she found Belfast more relaxed than
on her previous visit 10 years ago.

"Things were much more tense in Belfast at that time," she
said. "I've had a very pleasant stay."

Gaybo Returns To Airwaves

By Staff Reporter

Gay Byrne is returning to the airwaves with a new Sunday
afternoon show on lyric fm, RTE revealed yesterday.

The legendary broadcaster will present a new programme
called Sunday Best.

"I’m delighted to be returning to my radio roots, playing
great music with a little bit of chat in between," he said.

When last on RTE Radio 1, on December 24 1998, Mr Byrne had
an average audience of over 300,000 listeners.

His morning show had previously attracted up to half a
million radio fans each day.

Within nine months he also stepped down from hosting the
Late Late Show.

He had been at the helm of the longest-ever running
television programme from 1962.

When asked then if he would miss his radio career, Mr Byrne
said the door was still open for him to return to RTE if he
wished to do so.

In March the RTE veteran was also unveiled as chairperson
of the new Road Safety Authority (RSA) to spearhead the
Irish government’s drive to cut the number of people killed
on the nation’s roads.

His new show, which starts on November 5, will feature the
best of the big bands, classic crooners, a look at what’s
new in the world of light jazz, plus the very best in
classical music from 3pm to 5pm.

John Kelly will also join the station’s existing line up
for its new autumn schedule which was launched today.

From Monday October 2 the Fermanagh man will present a new
afternoon show, The JK Ensemble, every weekday from 2.30pm
to 4.30pm, where listeners will hear the very best in
classical, jazz, world, roots, traditional and contemporary

Aodan O Dubhghaill, head of RTE lyric fm, said: "There have
been countless magical moments on RTE lyric fm and our
autumn schedule is designed to bring an even wider range of
experiences to the listener."

Last Supper Gift ‘Amazes’ Fr Troy

By Marie Louise McCrory

A north Belfast priest took delivery of an unusual gift
yesterday, weighing in at 150 kilos. Holy Cross parish
priest Fr Aidan Troy was presented with a 6ft by 3ft stone
plaque depicting The Last Supper.

The gift, made out of white Carrera marble and imported
from Italy, was made by masons at Homes of Stone in
Kilroot, Co Antrim, who struck up a relationship with the
Ardoyne priest while carrying out a major restoration at
Holy Cross Church last year.

The plaque was designed using a £250,000 state-of-the-art
new laser scanning machine.

Fr Troy said he was delighted with the gift for the church.

"I’m absolutely amazed at what is possible, " he said.

"It’s been a lovely relationship because so often it is
strictly business. It is wonderful, it really is."

Jim Clarke, sales manager at Homes of Stone, said Fr Troy
had "a lot of integrity".

"The restoration took one year. He was very straight to
deal with and had a great sense of humour too," he said.

"We wanted to present him with a gift.

"We came up with the idea of The Last Supper."

Margaret R. 'Judy' O'neill, 86


Margaret R. "Judy" O'Neill, 86, wife of the late Clarence
W. O'Neill, of Phoenixville, formerly of Pottstown, died on
Wednesday, August 30, 2006, at the Phoenixville Hospital.

Born in Pottstown, she was the daughter of the late John C.
and Bertha M. (Mitchell) Gilbert.

Mrs. O'Neill was a member of St. Aloysius Roman Catholic
Church, Beech & Hanover Streets, Pottstown.

She was a member of Ancient Order of Hibernians; former
president of the Mother's Association of St. Pius X High
School; member of the Senior Citizens of both St. Aloysius
Roman Catholic Church and St. Gabriel's Roman Catholic

Mrs. O'Neill was an avid Phillies fan and football fan.

Surviving are one daughter, Patricia M, wife of Roman
Korbij, with whom Judy resided with in Phoenixville; two
grandchildren, Alicia and Michael Korbij; and she will be
deeply missed by seven nieces and nephews; and 24 grand-
nieces and -nephews.

She was preceded in death by one son, William P. O'Neill.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Aloysius Roman
Catholic Church, Beech & Hanover Streets, Pottstown on
Saturday, September 2, 2006, at 10 a.m.

Burial will be in St. Aloysius New Cemetery, Lower
Pottsgrove Township.

Calling hours will be on Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at
Warker-Troutman Funeral Home, 726 High Street, Pottstown.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to
the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal, 475 East
Chelten Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19144.

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