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September 06, 2006

Omagh Bomb Trial Adjourned

News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 09/06/06
Omagh Bomb Trial Adjourned
BT 09/06/06 UVF 'Left Bombs In Graves'
SF 09/06/06 People Judge Demilitarisation Programme - Not The IMC
BT 09/06/06 MPs Tell Blair To Come Clean On Date Of Departure
BB 09/06/06 Sinn Fein President Meets Hamas
BT 09/06/06 Opin: Gerry And The Peacemakers
NJ 09/06/06 The Last Rites Of Father Mychal


Omagh Bomb Trial Adjourned

06/09/2006 - 12:09:05

The trial of an electrician accused of murdering 29 people
in the Omagh bomb atrocity was adjourned today after his
senior lawyer told the court that he himself was too unwell
to begin the case.

Orlando Pownall QC, representing south Armagh man Sean
Hoey, told Mr Justice Weir that he had only travelled to
Northern Ireland at the last minute to alert Belfast Crown
Court to his ill health.

During a tense exchange with the judge, who expressed
frustration at the late request to delay one of the biggest
murder trials in British legal history, the lawyer said
that he hoped blood tests would clear him to begin on
September 18.

He said: “I am unwell. I appear before you against medical

Relatives of some of those killed in the August 1998 Real
IRA massacre packed into the public gallery for the start
of the trial, which is expected to run until Christmas.

But there was astonishment as the barrister rose to his
feet and urged the court to agree to the adjournment.

He said the medical expert who examined him for an
undisclosed illness said it was the first time in 37 years
of practice that he had encountered such symptoms.

Even though he could not guarantee that he would be well
enough to take charge of the defence later this month, Mr
Pownall stressed that it was critical for the purpose of
achieving a fair trial.

But the prospect of the trial getting under way at that
stage appeared in doubt when he added: “This is a
complicated case and for another senior (counsel) to
recollect the facts within 10 days is, with the best will
in the world, an insurmountable task.”

With the prosecution expressing no objections, Mr Justice
Weir agreed to the adjournment but made clear his deep
disappointment at the development, which he had only been
alerted to informally yesterday.

Up to 40 relatives were in the court for today's hearing
and one woman burst into tears when she caught her first
sight of the defendant in the witness box.

Hoey, 37, was flanked by two prison officers as he sat in
the dock wearing a corduroy jacket over a green and white
striped shirt and denim jeans.

Outside the court relatives said they were devastated by
the new delay.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was among the victims,
said: “There is utter disbelief. We came here having
psyched ourselves up for this day only to find there’s been
a false start. It hasn’t been easy for the relatives and
this just adds to the difficulties we all face.”

Laurence Rush, whose wife, Libby (Elizabeth), was killed in
the explosion, said he was outraged and appalled by the

He said: “It’s a travesty and a disgrace. I am absolutely
wasted by this timescale. We’ve waited eight years for this
and now we seem to find ourselves in something of a

“I am not usually lost for words but I just can’t believe
the reasons that were given for the adjournment.”


UVF 'Left Bombs In Graves'

Plot to wipe out Sinn Fein leadership before Sands' funeral

By Jonathan McCambridge
06 September 2006

Loyalist killer Michael Stone today claimed the UVF told
him they had made another audacious attempt to kill the
republican leadership by planting bombs in graves in
Milltown Cemetery ahead of the funeral of hunger striker
Bobby Sands.

Milltown murderer Stone said he was told in the Maze prison
by a UVF life sentence prisoner that the terror group had
made two attempts to wipe out the Sinn Fein leadership in
1981 - at the Mansion House and Sands' funeral.

Last week the Mansion House in Dublin was searched after
the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the UVF leadership
claimed they had left a device in the building in 1981 -
ahead of the Sinn Fein ard fheis.

Former UDA man Stone, convicted of six murders including
three in Milltown Cemetery in 1988, wrote about the Mansion
House plot in his 2003 book None Shall Divide Us.

In the book he wrote about a conversation he had with a
"UVF lifer" in the Maze in 1989.

He wrote: "They travelled together to Dublin's Mansion
House. It was the night before a Sinn Fein Ard Fheis and
they planted a device disguised in a fire extinguisher ...
the device contained 15lbs of high explosives timed to go
off during the meeting."

Now Stone has told the Belfast Telegraph that during the
same conversation the UVF prisoner made the remarkable
claim that four devices were left in the republican plot at
Milltown Cemetery.

Bobby Sands, the first of the hunger strikers to die, was
buried in May 1981. His funeral was one of the biggest ever
in Northern Ireland and any explosion would have caused
huge devastation.

Stone said: "At the time I did not pay much attention to
what the fellow was telling me because there were always
people bragging about what they had done. But after what I
read in the Belfast Telegraph last week I realised there
may be more to it.

"He told me about the Mansion House but he also told me
about four devices in the republican plot at Milltown.

"He said they were planted in graves under a foot of marble
chippings. He said there was roughly 80lbs of commercial
explosives. They were to go off at Bobby Sands funeral.
They were electronic devices but he thought the wet weather
might have stopped them going off.

"I spoke to the same man in 2000, before he died, and he
told me that as far as he knew the devices were still


People Will Judge Success Of Demilitarisation Programme - Not The IMC

Published: 6 September, 2006

Commenting after the latest IMC Report, this time into the
pace of demilitarisation, Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh
Conor Murphy said that the IMC views on this issue were
equally irrelevant to their views on any other.

Mr Murphy said;

"The people who will judge the pace and extent of the
dismantling of the British war machine in Ireland are those
people in areas like South Armagh who have had to live for
years with the effects of the British occupation in their
community. People who have lived with the effects of
British military occupation do not need reports from John
Alderdice to tell them when sufficient progress has been

"Progress is being made on the issue of demilitarisation
because Sinn Féin put it onto the political agenda and
because local communities mounted effective campaigns to
demand an end to the British military presence in their
lives. This has nothing whatever to do with the IMC.

"Sinn Féin will continue to raise this issue with the
British government to ensure that all of their commitments
are met and equally importantly that all occupied land is
returned to its rightful owners and we do not see a repeat
of the underhand attempt to reoccupy land recently mounted
by the PSNI and Policing Board in Crossmaglen." ENDS


MPs Tell Blair To Come Clean On Date Of Departure

06 September 2006

Tony Blair has been hit by an open mutiny among previously
loyal Labour MPs who are threatening to force him out of
Downing Street unless he agrees to stand down soon.

Tony Blair has been hit by an open mutiny among previously
loyal Labour MPs who are threatening to force him out of
Downing Street unless he agrees to stand down soon.

To avoid the humiliation of being evicted from No 10 by his
own party like Margaret Thatcher in 1990, Mr Blair may have
to issue a public promise within days to stand down by next
summer. Last week, he said he would not reveal his
departure timetable but his stance provoked a backlash
which has left him at the mercy of events beyond his

Reports in The Sun newspaper last night said Mr Blair was
going to step down as Labour leader on 31 May, before
quitting as Prime Minister on 26 July. Downing Street
declined to comment on the report, saying it had "no
comment on any speculation about the timetable".

Mr Blair had shifted his ground earlier yesterday by
authorising loyalists to promise in public that he would no
longer be Prime Minister in a year's time.

There was a strong indication from within the Cabinet that
Mr Blair will leave office within 12 months when Hilary
Armstrong, the minister for Social Exclusion and a close
ally of Mr Blair, told the BBC: "We expect there will be a
new leader in post for the conference 2007."

But that failed to satisfy the growing number of Labour
MPs. "Each day, we look more and more like the Tories in
Thatcher's last days," one loyal cabinet minister said. "If
we carry on like this, we will suffer the same fate as the
Tories and be out of office for 15 years."

Other cabinet ministers believe Mr Blair should quit before
next May's elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh
Assembly and English local authorities. There was
speculation at Westminster that a delegation of senior
Labour Party figures, possibly including at least one
cabinet minister, may soon go to No 10 to urge him to stand
down quickly. Opponents claim that at least 80 Labour MPs
are ready to go public with a call for Mr Blair to quit,
with another 40 sharing that view privately. Critics said
only a "bankable public statement from his own lips" would
quell the open rebellion.

It emerged yesterday that 17 previously loyalist MPs who
entered the Commons in 2001 have signed a letter praising
his achievements as Prime Minister but calling on him to
go. It is believed the list originally included two
ministers ­ Tom Watson, a junior Defence minister and Kevin
Brennan, a government whip ­ who later withdrew their
names.Blair aides insisted that no such letter had been
received in Downing Street. They suggested that supporters
of Gordon Brown were behind the plot to push him out.
Brownites dismissed such claims as "rubbish", saying the
Chancellor did not want to inherit a divided party. They
said what mattered most was not when Mr Blair departed but
that there was a "stable and orderly transition" .

The sense of turmoil increased when 49 loyalists signed a
rival letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to stick to
his guns in refusing to set out a precise timetable. But
Blair critics claimed that the loyalists' statement was
cooked up in Downing Street.

The MPs' revolt was fuelled by the leaking of a memo drawn
up by Blair aides in April setting out plans for his exit
strategy. The ideas in it included a farewell tour to
proclaim the "triumph of Blairism" and appearances onBlue
Peter and Songs of Praise. The memo said: "He needs to go
with the crowds wanting more. He should be the star who
won't even play that last encore."

Commenting on The Sun report, Norman Lamb, the chief of
staff to the Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell,
said: "It is not acceptable for the apparatus of Government
to be paralysed by the internal politics of the Labour

The International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn, said
last night: " I have no idea where The Sun got that story.
The Prime Minister has said that he will do the right thing
by the party."

Et tu, Brute?

Revealed: Loyalist MPs who signed a letter telling Blair to
name his departure date

Chris Bryant RHONDDA
Chris Mole IPSWICH
Kevin Brennan CARDIFF WEST (signed but thought to have
withdrawn name)
Tom Watson WEST BROMWICH EAST (signed but thought to have
withdrawn name)


Sinn Fein President Meets Hamas

Gerry Adams laid a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has met members of the
militant group Hamas in the Palestinian parliament.

On the second day of his visit to the Middle East, Mr Adams
laid a wreath at the tomb of the former Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat.

Earlier, he was met by members of the Palestinian Authority
and travelled to the compound where President Arafat was
once besieged by the Israelis.

He was invited to the region by the country's president,
Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Adams had been scheduled to meet Mr Abbas personally,
but he has been called away unexpectedly.

On Tuesday, the Sinn Fein leader travelled in a
presidential-style motorcade with government officials.

He was also taken on a tour of the West Bank, where he was
shown the controversial security wall which the Israeli
government is building in the area.

The Israeli government has refused to hold talks with Mr
Adams because he is meeting with Hamas.

'Peaceful resolution'

On Tuesday, during a news conference in Israel, Mr Adams
said the aim of his visit was "to encourage the search for
a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

"The Anglo-Irish conflict was once labelled as intractable.
Talk of peace and of peace processes was dismissed as
nonsense, as fantasy. But we proved the pessimists and
cynics wrong," he said.

The West Belfast MP said that Israelis and Palestinians had
more to gain from peace than continuing conflict.

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said he was "really
delighted" when the Israelis said they would not meet Mr

"He has gone out there, he is meeting Hamas, which is a
listed terrorist organisation. I just condemn it," he said.

""I think it is a ploy on his part and I fear we are going
to see an awful lot more of these PR exercises by the Sinn
Fein leadership as you go into the Irish elections next

Hamas, which forms the current Palestinian administration,
is banned by the EU and US.

Earlier this year, the US and EU froze aid to the
Palestinian Authority because Hamas has refused to renounce
violence and recognise Israel.

Israel has been conducting military operations in the
coastal Gaza Strip since Palestinian militants captured an
Israeli soldier in June.


Opin: Gerry And The Peacemakers

By Lindy McDowell
06 September 2006

Gerry Adams is off on a 'peace mission' to the Middle East.
That's that one sorted, then.

Once Gerry's had a word in their ears, it'll be love and
harmony and olive branch hugging all round.

More proof, if proof be needed, that whatever else you can
accuse the Sinn Fein president of, it's certainly not
modesty. Or a finely tuned sense of irony.

For he makes an odd dove, does Gerry.

The man who for over 30 years was chief mouthpiece for a
terror organisation which brought murder and misery to
thousands in his own land, the man whose name is synonymous
with sectarian division, hatred and conflict over here, has
decided he can help sort their problems over there.

Gerry isn't exactly known for his outreach work to his
neighbours of the unionist tradition.

But this hasn't stopped him sticking his oar in halfway
across the world in a complex and volatile situation which
continues to have a direct and powerful bearing on conflict
well beyond that region.

Gerry's trip is billed as taking in talks with both
Israelis and Palestinians.

But the Israeli authorities have rightly and inevitably
made it clear they will not be talking to him since he will
also be talking to the terrorist Hamas.

Where Gerry stands on Hamas is clear from his pre-visit
statement which included the usual guff about "inclusive
dialogue, respect for electoral mandates and respect for
human rights and international law".

No mention, you'll notice, about respect for the right to
life of Israeli civilians targeted by Hamas bombers.

Like Sinn Fein, the terrorist Hamas do indeed have an
electoral mandate. So, let's not forget, did the Nazis.

In the case of Hamas, their strategy can best be summed up
as a suicide bomb in one hand and a ballot box in the

You have to wonder what, apart from bolstering the sense of
importance of these Hamas blood brothers, Gerry can
possibly hope to achieve?

In terms of promoting peace it's hard to see. But then
maybe this 'mission' isn't so much about promoting peace as
it's about promoting Gerry.

You hardly ever hear these days that old republican mantra
'Our Day Will Come'. Could this be because, within
republican circles, it's now accepted that their day has
indeed come? That this is as good as it gets.

As President of Sinn Fein, Gerry is going nowhere fast. His
electoral juggernaut has slowed down somewhat. In the
south, now seen as their key electoral battlefield, a new
cynicism about the Shinners is being expressed.

And, anyway, some commentators are suggesting that Gerry
may have aspirations for another sort of presidential role

President of the Republic?

For that he might require a more rounded CV than top dog in
sectarian Sinn Fein.

A reputation as global peacemaker wouldn't do any harm.
Like Fergie with Weightwatchers, perhaps Gerry hopes to
find a niche for himself as a 'roving ambassador' for
'inclusive dialogue'.

Can we afford to lose a man with such wisdom to offer the
world, that's the thing?

We can always comfort ourselves that if Gerry does indeed
reinvent himself as a sort of international referee, it
could pave the way for others to follow suit.

Who knows, maybe Osama has vital insights to offer on
soothing tensions on the north Belfast interface?


The Last Rites Of Father Mychal

Wednesday, September 06, 2006
By Stephen Whitty
Star-Ledger Staff

Saint of 9/11

(Unrated) IFC (91 min.) Directed by Glenn Holsten. Narrated
by Ian McKellen. Opens today exclusively at the IFC Film
Center, 333 Sixth Ave. in New York (

Stars: 3

There is a thin line between remembering something and
reliving it, and those Americans who are still bruised by
9/11 are well aware of the distinction.

But if you think you can't bear to see another World Trade
Center movie, you should still see the new documentary,
"Saint of 9/11."

Perhaps that's because although the film is about one of
that tragic day's casualties -- Father Mychal Judge, a New
York Fire Department chaplain -- it's about much more than

Yes, Judge was a famous symbol of that day -- iconic, even,
in the picture of him being carried, comatose, from the
wreckage, struck down as he was ministering to others.

But he was not defined by that day any more than he was
summed up by anything else. Irish-American, recovering
alcoholic, gay man, Franciscan priest -- all of those
figured into who he was. None of it summed him up, easily
or completely.

Nicely directed by Glenn Holsten, the film mixes newsreel
footage and new interviews to tell the story of Judge, a
Brooklyn-born son of Irish immigrants who entered the
seminary at 15. Naturally drawn to the humble order of St.
Francis, he eventually served in parishes in West Milford
and East Rutherford.

But Judge was -- in every sense of the word -- not a
parochial man. And so he left the New Jersey suburbs behind
to do work among the terminally ill AIDS patients in
Manhattan hospitals, and to minister to the city
firefighters who regularly risked their lives in hopes of
saving others.

It was his work among the firefighters that led to his
death on 9/11; it was the drama of his death on that day
that led to his secret being exposed. Although Judge was
well known in the gay Catholic community, his own
orientation was his own business. For Judge, the
confessional box was also a closet.

For Judge's superiors, of course, the only truly relevant
question was and is whether he honored his vows;
technically, it's not being homosexual that's the offense,
but having homosexual sex. The issue of Judge's chastity,
however, is one "Saint of 9/11" prefers not to address.

Partly that's because it functions as an uncritical eulogy;
partly that's because it's funded by a gay-rights group
that would prefer a simple, positive hero. To say that
Judge was in any kind of sexual relationship would tarnish
his image as a priest; to say he eschewed sexuality would
make him less useful as a proud gay icon.

But Judge was not uncomplicated. He was a spiritual
counselor who struggled with temptation, a temperance
advocate who fought his own battle with alcohol, a selfless
mystic who still took a vain pleasure in his hair and his
clothes and his shiny fire-department car with its flashing

Was he the saint that the movie calls him -- and that some
people are lobbying to have him declared? That's officially
for the Vatican to declare. But he was, by all accounts, a
good and loving and selfless man. And in these times, that
can be a powerful miracle in itself.

Ratings note: The film contains adult subject matter.

"Saint of 9/11" will also be screened at 8 p.m. Monday, the
fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, at the Great Plaza
at Penn's Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Market Street in
Philadelphia (go to, and in
November at the Cape May NJ State Film Festival (go to or call 609-884-6700).

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