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September 05, 2006

NI Parties Face Challenge - Hain

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 09/05/06 NI Parties Face Challenge - Hain
BB 09/05/06 Seven Years For Loyalist Killing
BB 09/05/06 PUP To Re-Engage With Arms Body
BB 09/05/06 Cleared Man 'Financially Ruined'
IH 09/05/06 Israel Shuns SF After Pledge To Meet Hamas Lawmakers
CL 09/05/06 Armed Re-Enactors Present Irish-Flavored History Lesson


NI Parties Face Challenge - Hain

Peter Hain has said the weeks leading up to the
government's devolution deadline will present local
politicians with a great opportunity and challenge.

The Northern Ireland secretary was writing in the Daily

He says the parties have worked together on the Stormont
preparation for government committee without compromising
their principles.

Mr Hain says if there is no deal the politicians will have
to explain to voters why.

The opportunity for local people to have a say in how they
are governed could be passed up potentially for years to
come, he adds.

The deadline for restoring devolution is 24 November.

On Monday, a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said
he believed genuine progress had been made in bringing the
local parties together to prepare for government.

Mr Blair's official spokesman said the next few months
would be "one of the most important periods in Northern
Ireland that we have seen for some time".

"This autumn will reflect that and the level of the
meetings we have will reflect that," he said.


"We have seen some genuine progress in terms of the parties
taking the preparation for government seriously."

The spokesman said cooperation would now "need to be taken
to a new phase".

Devolved government was suspended over allegations of a
republican spy ring.

The court case that followed collapsed and one of those
involved, Denis Donaldson, later admitted working as a
British agent.

Direct rule from London was restored in October 2002 and
has been in place since.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/05 06:09:35 GMT


Seven Years For Loyalist Killing

An ex-soldier who repeatedly stabbed a former loyalist gun
runner to death has been jailed for seven years.

Brian Tollett, 29, from Glasgow, was found guilty of
culpable homicide after he killed Lindsay Robb, 39.

Mr Robb's family shouted out in anger at the High Court in
Glasgow at the length of the sentence and described Tollet
as "pure scum".

The court was told Tollett was suffering from post-
traumatic stress after serving in the Balkans.

He stabbed Mr Robb 22 times.

Sentencing, Judge Lord Brailsford said he had taken into
account the killer's psychological problems as a result of
his service.

He said: "These problems were caused by your service for
Queen and country in the Balkans.

"It is clear from the report that in the course of your
military service which is to be praised, you experienced
unpleasant things in the form of mass graves which we have
heard about in the news and witnessed a land mine which
caused the deaths of your colleagues."

'Mutual struggle'

Mr Robb, a one-time loyalist commander, died following a
struggle on 31 December last year.

The court heard Tollett, a former member of the Royal
Fusiliers, got into a fight with him over a £140 drug debt.

The attack was witnessed by passers-by, including a 10-
year-old boy, on Gartloch Road in the city's Ruchazie area.

Lord Brailsford said it was not unprovoked and that the
fatal blow was inflicted as part of a "mutual struggle".

Robb settled in Lanarkshire after being released from
prison in Northern Ireland in 1999 under the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement.

He was convicted four years earlier for his part in a
loyalist gun-running operation.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/05 11:44:32 GMT


PUP To Re-Engage With Arms Body

The Progressive Unionist Party is to re-engage with the
body over-seeing decommissioning in Northern Ireland.

In the past, the Independent Monitoring Commission
recommended financial sanctions against the party.

The PUP broke off contact with the IMC in late 2004 after
it criticised the party for not using its influence to end
UVF activity.

It is understood PUP leader David Ervine will not take part
in any meeting with the four-strong IMC.

However, other party members are trying to arrange
discussions in the near future.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/05 10:22:45 GMT


Cleared Man 'Financially Ruined'

A Belfast estate agent cleared of money-laundering charges
has said the incident left him financially ruined.

In an interview for BBC NI's Spotlight programme, Philip
Johnston, 40, said he had been afraid to end his
association with prominent loyalist Jim Gray.

Mr Johnston, who owned a chain of six offices in east
Belfast, said his business collapsed after his arrest.

All charges against him were dropped last week. Jim Gray
was shot dead in October last year.

Mr Johnston, of King's Road, was investigated as part of a
police probe into the financial affairs of Gray.

Speaking on BBC's Spotlight programme, Mr Johnston said he
had maintained his innocence "from day one".

"I was never conscious or frightened that some stone may be
turned and something may be under that stone that may
incriminate me, because I always knew within my heart of
hearts that I had not committed any criminal act," he said.

He said people did not want to do business with him once
they heard he had been charged and he became financially

"There isn't a winner in this whole situation. The majority
of people dropped me like a hot stone," he said.

"My name will never be restored.

"Anybody who talks about Philip Johnston, the estate agent,
in the future will be synonymous with two things, one,
property and two, Jim Gray/paramilitary organisation/
money-laundering etc."

On Wednesday last week, Mr Johnston's lawyers were told the
Public Prosecution Service had dropped the case. No reason
was given.

Mr Johnston's solicitor Joe Rice said neither he nor his
client had been given advance notice that the prosecution
was withdrawing the charges.

A complaint has been lodged with the Police Ombudsman's
Office on Mr Johnston's behalf.

Spotlight will be screened on BBC One at 2235 BST on

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/05 07:58:44 GMT


Israel Shuns Sinn Fein Leader After Pledge To Meet Hamas Lawmakers

The Associated Press
Published: September 5, 2006

JERUSALEM Israeli officials will shun Sinn Fein leader
Gerry Adams during his first trip to the Holy Land because
of plans to meet with members of the Hamas militant group,
a government spokesman said Tuesday.

Adams was due to arrive Tuesday afternoon for a two-day
visit to Israel and the Palestinian areas. Adams said
earlier this week he hoped his visit would encourage
compromise between Israel and Hamas, an Islamic group
committed to destruction of the Jewish state.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Adams was making
a "private" visit, and that his plans to speak to Hamas
ruled out meetings with Israeli leaders.

"There is an Israeli Cabinet decision that says that if
foreign dignitaries meet Hamas officials, we won't meet
them because Hamas doesn't recognize Israel's right to
exist. We don't have any problem with them meeting
Palestinian officials who don't belong to Hamas," he said.

Adams, who was invited to the region by Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas, is scheduled to travel to the West
Bank town of Ramallah on Wednesday for meetings with
officials in Abbas' Fatah movement. He won't see Abbas, who
is traveling in the Gulf.

He also will meet with Palestinian lawmakers, including
members of Hamas. The Islamic group defeated Fatah in
legislative elections earlier this year and controls the
Palestinian government. The two rivals are currently
considering formation of a coalition government.

Adams, whose Irish Republican Army-linked party has grown
in recent years to become the major representative of
Northern Ireland's Catholic minority, said ahead of his
trip that he wants to help provide inspiration for parties
in other festering conflicts.

"It is imperative that genuine negotiation and dialogue
between the representatives of the Palestinian and Israeli
people commences as quickly as possible," Adams said
Sunday. "While no two conflicts are identical, there are
key conflict resolution principles which can be applied in
any situation. These include inclusive dialogue, respect
for electoral mandates, and respect for human rights and
international law."

The Sinn Fein chief is scheduled to deliver a speech
Tuesday to an Israeli-Palestinian umbrella organization for
peace and human rights.

The past 38 years of conflict over Northern Ireland has
claimed more than 3,600 lives, but has largely abated since
the IRA began a cease-fire in 1997.

The IRA, which was responsible for about 1,775 of the
killings, last year renounced violence for political
purposes and disarmed. But a central goal of Northern
Ireland's 1998 peace accord — a joint Catholic-Protestant
administration for Northern Ireland that includes Sinn Fein
— has been on hold since 2002.

Adams, 58, was interned as an IRA suspect in the early
1970s and was a negotiator in an IRA delegation with
Britain in 1972 — a time when he held no significant
position in Sinn Fein, which at the time was a powerless
adjunct to the IRA. Despite this, Adams has always denied
IRA membership. Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell
says police intelligence indicates Adams remained on the
IRA's seven-man command until last year.

As leader of Sinn Fein since 1983, Adams has steered the
long-isolated party slowly into the political mainstream.
His party in 2003 became No. 1 among Catholics north of the
Irish border, and is hoping to gain enough parliamentary
seats in the Republic of Ireland next year to help form the
next coalition government there.



Armed Re-Enactors Present Irish-Flavored History Lesson

By Joe Cisar, Sentinel Correspondent, September 4, 2006

The beat of a lone drum sounded at 3 p.m. Sunday on South
Bedford Street in Carlisle.

An Irish-American honor guard carrying flags and pikes and
followed by Revolutionary War re-enactors with shouldered
flintlocks was on the march from nearby St. Patrick’s
Church to the Old Graveyard.

There the group was joined by others waiting to commemorate
the 225th anniversary of the death of Gen. William
Thompson, who was born in Ireland and settled in the
Carlisle area.

The event was sponsored by Carlisle’s William Thompson
Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH).

Thomas Kane, president of the Carlisle division, said the
purpose of Sunday’s event was “to commemorate the life and
death of General William Thompson, a local resident who was
a Revolutionary War hero.”

After a few more words of introduction, a recording of the
Irish national anthem was played, followed by Eric Gutshall
of Big Spring High School singing “The Star-Spangled

Jim Jones explained that the Ancient Order of Hibernians
was formed in the United States “to protect priests,” who
he said were often persecuted in the mid 1800s “for being
Catholic.” This was in connection with activity by the Know
Nothing political party of that time.

Jones said the modern purpose of the order is “to protect
as well as promote Irish history as well as Irish tradition
here in the United States.”

Kane then talked about the important role that Irish people
have played in this region’s history.

He said that Molly Pitcher, in the person of Mary Hays
McCauly, was from the Carlisle area. Kane conceded that
McCauly may have been of German descent, “but the story is
that she clearly spoke with an Irish brogue, and she was
married to an Irishman.”

In the event that Molly Pitcher was actually Margaret
Corcharan Corbin of Chambersburg, as some people have
suggested, Kane pointed out that she also was of Irish

A history of William Thompson was given, and guest speaker
Mark Jago mentioned the names of many famous Americans of
Irish descent, including Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, Sam
Houston and Audie Murphy.

The high point of the memorial came as Kane’s daughter
placed a wreath on Thompson’s grave. Kane closed the
memorial with a prayer that began, “May the road rise to
meet you. May the wind be ever at your back.”

On June 25, 1775, Congress issued a commission naming
Thompson the first colonel of the “Army of the United
Colonies” and he helped in the defense of Boston following
the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Thompson later led a company of Pennsylvania sharpshooters
who drove back the first group of British soldiers landing
in New York City.

This earned him the rank of brigadier general, but Thompson
subsequently was captured during an attack on the enemy at
Trois Rivieres in Quebec.

Thompson died at his home near Carlisle in 1781, soon after
his parole as a prisoner of war. He was 45.

Kane, president of Carlisle’s Ancient Order of Hibernian
chapter, says his branch has about 25 members.

It was formed in 2000 when men who had been members of the
New Cumberland division decided they were numerous enough
to form their own group.

Although the AOH has been described as “the oldest Catholic
lay organization in America,” Kane says it is not required
that the namesake of the division be Catholic.

Regarding his division’s namesake, Gen. William Thompson,
Kane emphasizes that “several local churches say he went to
their denomination.”

Mark Jago, who is director of AOH District 3, “basically
the central Pennsylvania area,” says his district has two
divisions in Cumberland County and seven more in four other
counties. Above the district level is the state board, then
the national board of AOH.

Jago introduced Bill Finnerty of Perry County into the
Carlisle branch. Finnerty works in Carlisle in Cumberland
County’s information technology office, and met Jago
through work.

“From there I just do what I’m talented at and help out,”
Finnerty says, referring to the fact that he is his
division’s Web designer.

Finnerty mentions that Carlisle’s AOH members have marched
in Carlisle’s Memorial Day parade and in Harrisburg’s St.
Patrick’s Day parade.

Dave Biser from Harrisburg, not a member of AOH, says his
re-enactment unit is the Donegal Township Riflemen,
representing Donegal Presbyterian Church in Lancaster

He adds that re-enactors of the 1st Pennsylvania battalion,
which was mustered out in the Revolutionary War, were
represented in Carlisle Sunday as well.

Biser calls his outer linen garment a “hunting frock.”

“They put these on top of their regular clothing to go out
hunting for the day and the capes take care of the
weather,” he says.

They’re well-armed

He and two comrades-in-arms, Jacob Kirsh of Carlisle and
Steven Bemesderfer of Harrisburg, displayed their firearms,
all flintlocks, before Monday’s commemoration. They carry a
.62-caliber pistol, a .75-caliber musket with an unrifled
bore and, the most accurate of all, a .50-caliber rifle.

Kirsh was dressed in a woolen regimental coat.

His hair is cut Mohawk style, as he portrays a European who
had been stolen as an infant and raised by Indians, and now
fights with the American revolutionary forces against the

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