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September 13, 2006

RUC Files Missing For 1,000 Murders

News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 09/13/06 RUC Files Missing For 1,000 Murders
IN 09/13/06 Group Claim Historical Enquiries Team ‘Flawed’
EX 09/13/06 Paisley Meets Blair To Discuss Devolution
EP 09/13/06 Durkan Rounds On 'Mistaken' Blair
BT 09/13/06 PUP Stays Quiet Over Talks With Arms Body
IN 09/13/06 Undercover Police Officer ‘Threatened’ By Loyalist
RT 09/13/06 Irish Justice Minister Appointed Tánaiste
BB 09/13/06 Northern Bank Accused Seeks Tapes
BB 09/13/06 DUP: Ex-Prisoners Can 'Join Police'
BB 09/13/06 Loyalist Gang Forces Halt To Youth Match
IN 09/13/06 Attack On Catholic Church Is Blamed On Republicans
IN 09/13/06 Hain Hopes To Be Bigger Fish In A Bigger Pond
IN 09/13/06 Brother Of UDA Attack Victim Dies Suddenly
IN 09/13/06 Opin: Concern Over Lost Police Files
IN 09/13/06 Opin: Leave Massgoers To Pray In Peace
IN 09/13/06 Opin: Britain Remains Object Of Suspicion And Mistrust
IN 09/13/06 Opin: Ministers Have Lost Interest In North-South Links
SM 09/13/06 Film Rev: The Wind That Shakes the Barley
IN 09/13/06 President To Attend Funeral Of Much Loved Monsignor


RUC Files Missing For 1,000 Murders

By Barry McCaffrey

A special police unit set up to investigate all Troubles-
related kil-lings has been unable to find RUC files
relating to at least 1,000 murders.

The Historic Enquiries Team (HET) was established in
January with 100 detectives to reinvestigate more than
3,200 killings.

It aims to provide answers for victims’ families and go
back on any lines of inquiry not followed by original
murder inquiries dating back to 1968.

However, it has emerged that the HET has so far been unable
to locate police files relating to 939 Troubles ‘incidents’
involving at least one murder each.

In a letter to the victims group Relatives For Justice, HET
director Dave Cox wrote: “There was no central registry or
store within the RUC or the PSNI until very recently.

“Police files were stored at police stations; often if an
officer transferred to another region or station he took
case papers with him if he was ‘the officer in the case’.

“Some officers stored case papers at their homes.

“Some police stations have closed, some were destroyed.”

Admitting that recovering murder files had proved
“problematic”, he added: “Where we do not have files we are
looking to obtain information from other sources such as
court files, open source (books, newspapers etc from the
time), public records, non-government organisations and
also checks with the army and Ministry of Defence to see if
any records are held there.”

However, Relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson said
the disclosure raised serious questions about the HET’s
ability to properly investigate the killings.

“That so many murder files are ‘missing’ only confirms the
view that the practice of destroying and concealing
evidence was systematic,” he said.

“That RUC officers took files home is an incredible
omission of alarming proportions, aside from being
technically illegal.

“Crucially, exactly what files are ‘missing’? Do they
relate to collusion killings and shoot-to-kill?”

Pointing to revelations in the past that evidence was
destroyed after controversial murders, Mr Thompson added:
“We already know that key forensic evidence was routinely
concealed and/or destroyed but not on such a scale.

“Families are yet again dealt another blow. We need to see
accountability and call on Peter Hain to initiate an
immediate inquiry into this scandal.”

A HET spokeswoman refused to comment on the number of files
which cannot be found but said the unit had made a
“comprehensive search of a wide range of agencies to gather
all available documentation and evidence”.

She said the search had been an “enormous undertaking”
which had created a “comprehensive archive” to the HET


Group Claim Historical Enquiries Team ‘Flawed’

By Barry McCaffrey

A special police unit set up to investigate Troubles-
related murders is “fundamentally flawed”, a nationalist
victims’ group claimed last night.

The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) was established earlier
this year to investigate more than 3,200 killings in a bid
to provide answers for many victims’ families.

At the time its director Dave Cox said his team would be
operationally independent from the PSNI, although it would
report to Chief Constable Hugh Orde.

However, Relatives For Justice (RFJ) director Mark Thompson
last night claimed it could not legitimately claim to be
independent or be able to fully investigate allegations of
security force collusion.

“Independence is key to any initiative that examines our
past,” he said.

“It is unacceptable for the British government to undertake
an initiative examining killings that its agencies carried
out and in which evidence of collusion exists.

“The reality is that the HET is within a structure that is
politically controlled.”

Mr Thompson claimed recent history showed the British
government would go to “extraordinary lengths” to protect
agents involved in collusion and he feared those who
implemented policies of shoot-to-kill or collusion would
remain shielded.

“MI5, a key protagonist in the conflict, will next year
assume responsibility for intelligence matters in the
north,” he said.

However, in a letter to RFJ earlier this summer, Mr Cox
defended his unit’s impartiality.

“I recognise that some parties will never accept anything
less than an investigation sponsored and conducted by
authorities independent of the UK government,” he said.

“We are certainly not that; that would require something of
the order of the Swiss cops or the Mounties,” he said.

“We have worked hard however to come up with a unique
solution to a unique challenge, a model that has the
interests of families of

the victims firmly at its centre, combining policing
powers, cooperation with vic-

tim support groups and independence.”

Meanwhile, it emerged last night that HET chiefs are
considering opening offices in England to accommodate
British-based staff.

But anxious victims’ families claimed the team’s
determination to close the cases could become half-hearted.

Seamus McKendry, whose wife’s mother, Jean McConville, was
abducted and killed by the IRA in 1972, insisted all
investigative staff should work in the north.

A PSNI spokeswoman said the possibility of setting up “a
small team” in England was being considered to save on
transport and accommodation costs.


Paisley Meets Blair To Discuss Devolution

DUP leader Ian Paisley is due to meet British Prime
Minister Tony Blair in London later for talks on the
restoration of devolution in the North.

The Irish and British governments have set a November 24
deadline for the Northern parties to reach an agreement on
restoring the power-sharing institutions.

However, the process is being held up by the DUP, which is
still refusing point-blank to share power with Sinn Féin.

The hardline unionist party insists that the IRA is still
deeply involved in criminality and Sinn Féin is unfit for

This is despite the fact that the Independent Monitoring
Commission has said it firmly believes the republican
movement is honouring its commitment to end illegal

The Irish and British Governments have warned the DUP that
devolution will be shelved indefinitely and MLA's salaries
halted if a power-sharing deal is not agreed by November


Durkan Rounds On 'Mistaken' Blair

Mark Durkan

Gordon Brown would not have "squandered" opportunities in
the Northern Ireland peace process as Tony Blair has,
according to the leader of the SDLP.

Mark Durkan made the attack on the prime minister as
pressure begins to mount on Northern Ireland's politicians
prior to intense negotiations in Scotland next month.

In an interview with, Durkan said: "Tony Blair
has squandered a lot of his political authority and
opportunities by the mistaken approach he used for many,
many years by focusing on the Ulster Unionist Party and
Sinn Fein and now on the DUP and Sinn Fein rather than
focusing on the primacy of the Good Friday agreement

Asked what the chancellor would have done differently had
he been in charge of the process, Durkan said: "I don't
believe that Gordon Brown would have made the same mistakes
for so long.

"I don't think he would have indulged people who have
continually come up short in the way that Tony Blair
indulged David Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party, who
were destabilising the institutions and at the same time
indulging Sinn Fein and the IRA who were denying the need
for decommissioning.

"Gordon Brown is much more of a 'bottom line' man as we
have seen on things like the five economic tests for
joining the euro.

"It is the way he has approached issues like service level
agreements and targets that has led me to believe that
there would have been a point a number of years ago where
Gordon Brown would have said to the parties that they
should not keep running to him with their problems and
should deliver on their responsibilities and commitments
under the agreement first."

And Durkan said that recent blows to Blair's authority
culminating in his announcement that he would step down
within a year would damage the chances of reaching a deal
before the November 24 deadline.

Asked whether Labour's leadership row would effect
negotiations, Durkan said: "Clearly it conditions the
attitude of some parties to the notion of deadlines and
what might follow them.

"I think the DUP believe that the British and Irish
governments are not going to be able to muster much of an
alternative after the November 24 deadline because Tony
Blair is on his way out and Bertie Ahern is planning for
the next general election.

"That means the DUP don't feel any particular pressure to
reach a deal before the deadline."


PUP Stays Quiet Over Talks With Arms Body

By Lesley-Anne Henry
13 September 2006

The PUP was keeping tight-lipped about the meeting with
arms decommissioning boss General John de Chastelain.

Yesterday's hour-long meeting took place in Stormont at the
request of the General and Commission colleagues Andrew
Sens and Tauno Nieminen.

PUP leader David Ervine described the meeting as "fine" but
refused to go into detail about what was discussed.

"I am not prepared to go there," he said.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that he did not represent the
UVF on the arms issue but was at the meeting solely as
leader of the Progressive Unionist Party.

He said: "I have known General John de Chastelain for a
long time. It was fine. We simply had a conversation around
the conditions that he is interested in."

This is the first meeting in a number of years between the
PUP and the International Independent Commission on
Decommissioning (IICD).

"It took place at their headquarters at their request.

"He is a very kind gentleman as all three of them are and
it was good to renew acquaintance with General de

"I simply give my analysis and the PUP analysis."


Undercover Police Officer ‘Threatened’ By Loyalist

By Staff Reporter

An alleged loyalist blackmailer threatened an undercover
police officer posing as a builder that he would be “better
off just sorting things out so no-one gets hurt”, a judge
heard yesterday.

The Belfast Crown Court Diplock, no jury trial, heard that
during a number of covertly recorded phonecalls with men
calling themselves ‘Tom’ and ‘John’, the undercover police
officer, known as ‘Andy’, was asked to make a £2,000
“donation” to a loyalist prisoners’ fund in March last

However, despite John having reservations about a potential
police set-up, the extortion racket was caught red-handed
when uniformed cops swooped on March 22 at the hand- over
of the ‘money’ which was cut-up paper wrapped in two £20

Brian Palmer Gould (38) from Vernon Street and Thomas James
Meehan (37) from Pine Way, in Belfast, were charged with
blackmail between February 22 and March 23 last year. Gould
pleaded guilty.

The prosecution argued that three men were involved in the
blackmail plot, that Mr Meehan was ‘Tom’ on the covert
recordings and acted as a facilitator between the
undercover cop and ‘John’, and that two men played the role
of ‘John’.

Trial judge Derick Rodgers has already heard that during
police interviews Mr Meehan accepted going to the building
site on Donegall Pass, giving the site foreman his phone
number and also that he was the ‘Tom’ who had spoken to the
undercover cop.

In the tapes played to the court yesterday ‘Andy’ told Mr
Meehan he would rather “speak directly to the boys in the
big picture” with Meehan telling him: “I can sort that out
for you.” He is also heard telling ‘Andy’ that “you have to
sort the boys out” when a contractor is working in Donegall

In other conversations with ‘John’, the undercover police
officer asks if he is representing an organisation and is
told: “I am indeed”, with ‘John’ adding it is the “loyalist

‘Andy’ is also told that if the money is not paid “there
will be no work being done” and that if it is a police set-
up “there will be a lot of trouble”.

Mr Meehan denies the charge and defence lawyer Mark Farell
has already told the court he will contest the case on the
basis that ‘Andy’ acted as an agent provocateur.


Irish Justice Minister Appointed Tánaiste

13 Sep 2006 11:01:16 GMT
Source: Reuters

DUBLIN, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Irish Prime Minister Bertie
Ahern formally made outspoken Justice Minister Michael
McDowell his deputy on Wednesday following McDowell's
election this week as leader of the Progressive Democrats
(PDs) party.

The leadership of the PDs, which has been the junior
partner in Ireland's two-party coalition government for
nearly a decade, brings with it the position of deputy
prime minister under an agreement with Ahern's ruling
Fianna Fail party. "This morning the Taoiseach (Prime
Minister) signed the required Statutory Instrument at
Government Buildings before this morning's weekly Cabinet
meeting," Ahern's press office said in a brief statement.

McDowell, 55, a barrister known for his combative style,
was elected leader of the business-friendly PDs unopposed
this week following Mary Harney's abrupt withdrawal after
13 years at the helm.

Harney said she wanted to give the party time to prepare
for the next general election, due to take place by mid-

McDowell, a vociferous critic of the Irish Republican
Army's (IRA) political ally Sinn Fein, has vowed to double
the presence of the PDs in the Irish parliament.

The party, which extols free-market economics, was formed
in 1985 as an alternative to the other main parties which
emerged out of the politics of Ireland's civil war in the


Northern Bank Accused Seeks Tapes

A lawyer for a man accused of the £26m Northern Bank
robbery has accused the prosecution of not handing over
audio undercover surveillance tapes.

Belfast Magistrates Court was told the surveillance was
carried out at the home of bank employee Christopher Ward
and an apartment in the Canary Islands.

Mr Ward stayed at the aprtment in Feurteventura while on

Mr Ward, 24, from Colinmill, Poleglass, Belfast, denies the
robbery at the Northern Bank's Belfast headquarters.

Another man, Dominic McEvoy, 22, from Mulandra Park, in
Kilcoo, County Down, also denies the robbery which happened
at Donegall Square, on 20 December 2004.

Both men are out on high court bail.

Solicitor Joe McVeigh said: "We have asked that these tapes
be disclosed to the defence and the crown's response is
that the matter is with senior counsel," said Mr McVeigh.

"We are asking that these tapes should be served on us
promptly so that we can start to prepare a defence."

Mr McVeigh also asked Magistrate Ken Nixon to certify the
appointment of a barrister to assist in preparing the
defence case.

"Senior counsel is required now for consultation in the
overall preparation of the defence case in what up until a
few months ago this was the largest robbery in the United
Kingdom," he said.

"I don't want to be in a position where issues arise in Mr
Ward's defence that require the advice of senior counsel
and one is not available."

Mr Nixon said the application would be better made at the
next remand hearing when the position regarding the
prosecution's attitude would be clearer.

Mr Ward and Mr McEvoy were remanded on continuing bail
until 4 October along with Martin McAliskey, 39, from
Ballybeg Road, Coalisland, County Tyrone, who faces a
charge relating to a van alleged to have been used in the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/13 10:48:50 GMT


Ex-Prisoners Can 'Join Police'

Prisoners freed under the Good Friday Agreement may be able
to join the police service, the DUP has said.

However, MP Gregory Campbell said it could only happen
"provided they demonstrate they have repented".

He was asked on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show if his
party's decision to allow former paramilitaries to join the
DUP should be extended to the police.

DUP member and former prisoner Gary Blair has disagreed,
saying a "conviction should rule everyone out".

Mr Campbell said the prisoners would have to show they did
not advocate criminality.


If they did, he said, they could be considered for
membership of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

"They have to demonstrate that they are repentant and they
have to show that they do not advocate that sort of
activities," he said.

"If so, they could then be considered, only if they
demonstrate that, if they don't, they should not."

Gary Blair, a spokesman for the DUP's Ballymoney branch,
said former prisoners should not be permitted to join the
police service.

"A conviction is a conviction and it should rule everyone
out. I would never put myself forward to join the PSNI," he

'Credible officers'

"If the police want to be a credible police force, then I
think they need to have credible officers and obviously
people who broke the law repeatedly don't have that
credibility and I include myself in that."

Sinn Fein assembly member Philip McGuigan said the DUP had
"tried to create the myth that they had no relationship
whatever with unionist paramilitaries".

"Gary Blair, the individual convicted of murdering my party
colleague Malachy Carey in Ballymoney in 1992, is currently
a leading DUP figure in Ian Paisley's constituency and has
indeed led a campaign to see those jailed for the LVF
sectarian double murder in Poyntzpass released," he said.

"It has also recently emerged that former DUP councillor
and assembly member George Seawright was a member of the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/13 11:30:46 GMT


Loyalist Gang Forces Halt To Youth Match

An under-15 soccer match was abandoned in Derry after a
large crowd of loyalists shouted abuse at players, a Sinn
Fein councillor has said.

During the match at St Columb's Park on Monday, the teams
were forced to take refuge in the dressing rooms,
Councillor Lynn Fleming said.

The teams, Top of the Hill Celtic and Newbuildings, had to
be escorted from the Waterside grounds by police.

Police said officers resolved the situation and no
complaints were made.

Ms Fleming said there was "no place for such behaviour in
society, particularly in sport",

She said up to 100 loyalists had shouted at the young

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/13 08:29:31 GMT


Attack On Catholic Church Is Blamed On Republicans

By Maeve Connolly

DISSIDENT republicans have been blamed for a paint-bomb
attack on a Catholic church in Ballymena, amid claims it
aimed to heighten sectarian tensions.

Church of Our Lady in Harryville has been attacked numerous
times over the years by loyalists and a weekly picket was
also held at Saturday evening Mass for almost two years in
the late 1990s.

However, there have been claims dissident republicans were
behind vandalism discovered yesterday morning which follows
a wave of petrol-bomb attacks on Catholic homes in the town
in recent weeks.

Members of the Harryville Ulster Scots Society helped clean
up the damage at the church and chairman Geoff Calderwell
said he believed the Real IRA was responsible.

“This was not the loyalist community. There was graffiti
done in the north end of Ballymena and it was done with the
same paint as on the chapel,” he said.

“The police are getting samples of both sets of paint.”

Mr Calderwood claimed there was a feud between republicans
in the Ballymena area and “they are trying to draw the
Protestant people into it to take the heat away from what’s

“There is no room in modern society for this sort of
attack,” he added.

A police spokesman said a motive had yet to be established
for the vandalism, but samples of paint had been taken from
the church doors for examination.

SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said there had been “genuine
and committed work” from both communities “to treat the
chapel at Harryville as a protected place”.

“This [attack] is an exception to that,” he said.

Mr O’Loan added that the claim of dissident republican
involvement was “certainly a legitimate line of inquiry on
the part of the PSNI”.

“It would be necessary to await the outcome of that before
coming to conclusions and I would advise everyone to be
circumspect in their comments and judgements before they
have clear evidence, but there is enough prima facie
evidence to make one cautious before jumping to the
conclusion that this was a sectarian attack,” he said.

“It only takes one or two people to be involved in
something like this.”

North Antrim DUP assembly member Ian Paisley jnr said he
also believed recent attacks on nationalists and
republicans in north Antrim had been “self-inflicted” in an
attempt to “damage the credibility of the unionist
community and because of internal wrangling and fall-outs”.

“And if this [church attack] appears to be part of that,
most people will find that very interesting,” he added.

Sinn Fein North Antrim assembly member Philip McGuigan said
he was “disgusted” at the attack but cast doubt on
dissident republican involvement.

“When Harryville chapel was subjected to ongoing attacks
and protests, petrol-bomb attacks and paint-bomb attacks,
it wasn’t republicans who were doing it,” he said.

“There has been a campaign against the Catholic chapel and
nationalist families in Ballymena and for unionists to
stick their heads in the sand and blame anyone but their
own people or their own community for the attack isn’t

A cross-community scheme in the town resulted in a loyalist
paramilitary mural on a gable wall close to the church
being replaced with an Ulster Scots painting earlier this

Red, white and blue kerbstones and a large red hand painted
on the pavement at the entrance to the church have also
been removed.

In return tricolours were taken down in areas of north


Hain Hopes To Be Bigger Fish In A Bigger Pond

By William Graham

Peter Hain’s desire to land a bigger job in politics was
confirmed yesterday when he said he wants to be Labour’s
next deputy leader. Political Correspondent William Graham
reports on a man in a hurry

When Peter Hain arrived in Northern Ireland as Secretary of
State in May 2005 no-one really expected him to stay very

Inside the civil service there were immediate whisperings
that he was after a bigger job, such as Foreign Secretary.

Nevertheless Mr Hain arrived in the north at an interesting
time and has set his own quick-pace agenda of trying to get
devolution restored.

Never a man to mince his words Mr Hain has turned out to be
a somewhat unusual Secretary of State, particularly
compared to his predecessor, the extra-careful and
diplomatic Paul Murphy.

Mr Hain has bluntly been telling the political parties to
shape up by November 24 and start doing their jobs in a
restored Assembly or else he will shut Stormont down, turn
out the lights and stop their salaries.

But if Mr Hain does depart Northern Ireland in the year
ahead he perhaps will be best remembered for pushing
through plans for what will see drastic rates rises for
many and the future introduction of what many perceive as a
water tax.

Mr Hain has also been to the forefront in moving on the
reform of local government which will mean slashing 26
councils to a slimline seven and overhauling health and
education structures.

The huge question mark remaining in the coming weeks and
months is over whether Mr Hain and his boss Tony Blair will
be able to cajole the DUP into sharing power with Sinn Fein
at Stormont.

Many observers think not.

Yesterday Mr Hain said he was confirming his intention to
stand as a candidate to be deputy leader of the Labour
Party when that contest takes place next year.

“I believe I can bind back together the government with the
party,” he said.

“Having made clear my intentions, I intend to tirelessly
devote the next few weeks to completing the process of
restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland, which I
believe will then be Tony Blair’s proudest moment.”

The Secretary of State’s parliamentary private secretary
Dan Morris said yesterday he would be backing Mr Hain for
the deputy leader’s job.


Brother Of UDA Attack Victim Dies Suddenly

By Catherine Morrison

A man whose brother was killed after being attacked by
former UDA leader Andre Shoukri, pictured, has died
suddenly, dealing a second tragic blow to the north Belfast

David Parker (34) died suddenly on Sunday. His funeral will
be held today at 11am at the Church of the Resurrection on
Cavehill Road.

Ten years ago, Mr Parker’s brother Gareth, a rising tennis
star who lived in Dublin, died after being struck by former
UDA ‘brigadier’ Andre Shoukri outside a north Belfast bar.
The 23-year-old became innocently involved in a
confrontation between two groups outside the Shaftesbury
Inn on Antrim Road on June 21 1996.

After the beating he fell to the ground and was struck by a
passing motorist.

Mr Parker was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital but his
life support machine was switched off on June 25.

Although Shoukri, then 19-years-old, admitted punching Mr
Parker in the head seconds before the tennis player fell
onto the road and was hit by a passing car, he was
acquitted of manslaughter and was found guilty of unlawful
and malicious wounding.


Opin: Concern Over Lost Police Files

By Ray O'Hanlon

One of the main functions of the Historical Enquiries Team
is to provide information which has been denied the
families of many of those who died during 30 years of

Chief constable Sir Hugh Orde has said he hopes the team
set up to review more than 3,000 deaths will provide
closure to many relatives.

A significant number of people are relying on the HET to
provide at least some answers regarding the circumstances
surrounding their loved ones’ deaths.

Crucial to the work of the review team is access to
evidence and information uncovered by police investigators,
much of it dating back many years.

However, hopes that the HET will be able to make a real
difference have been dealt a severe blow by the revelation
that hundreds of police files cannot be located.

The picture which emerges of police practice with regard to
the retention of vital information will cause widespread

Not only was there no central store for files until
recently but it was not uncommon for officers to keep
documents in their homes. Despite an extensive trawl, the
HET has been unable to unearth a significant number of

Given the importance of the incidents under investigation,
which involve the most serious crimes of the past 30 years,
it beggars belief that such material was not subject to
stringent controls and procedures which
would ensure, at the very least, traceability.

By contrast, the British army is said to be better
organised in terms of retaining documentation, which will
raise further questions about the RUC’s failure to exercise
control over this most fundamental issue.


Opin: Leave Massgoers To Pray In Peace

By Ray O'Hanlon

The paint bomb attack on a Catholic church in Ballymena,
regardless of which group is ultimately found to be
responsible, was a disgraceful episode.

Loyalists have regularly targeted the Church of Our Lady in
Harryville down the years, through both sustained sectarian
picketing and repeated acts of violence.

There is speculation in Ballymena that dissident
republicans, intent on heightening tensions in the town,
may have been behind the latest incident.

With forensic evidence now under examination, it is
important that investigations should be completed and the
truth swiftly established.

The single greatest priority is that religious
congregations from all denominations should have the right
to attend their churches without the fear of verbal or
physical intimidation.

Worshippers at the Church of Our Lady have suffered from
the malign attentions of evil elements for far too long and
deserve to be left in peace.


Opin: Britain Remains Object Of Suspicion And Mistrust

By Ray O'Hanlon Letter from America

The great majority of ex-British servicemen who spent time
in Japanese prisoner of war camps have for years presented
an unforgiving face towards their one-time jailers.

Take it up to the present and it is all too easy to discern
the lingering mistrust in Northern Ireland that remains
part and parcel of what is now the peace process.

Just mention the Provos in proximity to a DUP member. He or
she will not burst into songs of praise.

The same can be said for the more seasoned veterans of
Irish-American activism as it has been directed at the
events in Ireland over the last few decades.

The British government, no matter what party guise it comes
in, remains an object of suspicion and distrust.

This has been plainly evident in the battle by leading
Irish-American activists and organisations to turn back, or
at least have amended, the revised extradition treaty
between the US and United Kingdom.

The treaty came up for a vote on Capitol Hill last week
before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Irish-American groups, such as the Irish American Unity
conference and Ancient Order of Hibernians, were
represented in the hearing room. They were supported in
their objections to the treaty by the influential American
Civil Liberties Union.

But it turned out to be a tough day for the distrusting

The senators, Republican and Democrat, unanimously voted to
support the revamped treaty and send it onwards for a vote
in the full 100-member Senate.

That vote is expected before year’s end and it’s hard to
imagine anything other than a resounding affirmation of a
document that has been gathering dust, much to the
annoyance of her majesty’s government, since it was signed
by US attorney general John Ashcroft and then home
secretary David Blunkett in March 2003.

In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Ashcroft made no
specific reference to any conflict, group or country.

British government representatives have repeatedly denied
that the treaty was drawn up with Northern Ireland or
Irish-American activists in mind.

In a July visit to Washington, minister of state Baroness
Scotland sent a letter to each of the 18 members of the
Foreign Relations Committee.

In the letter, she stated that full Senate approval was of
“paramount importance”.

What was at stake, the baroness told senators, was “not
only the continued status of the US as a ‘trusted partner’
for extradition but also the perception in the UK of how
the British/US relationship worked in practice”.

The baroness stated that the purpose of the treaty was to
“modernise” extradition arrangements. It was not, she said,
aimed at speeding up the extradition from the US of people
“suspected of involvement in terrorism” connected with
Northern Ireland.

“The concerns about the treaty raised by certain Irish-
American groups are groundless,” she stressed.

Groundless or not, two leading members of the committee,
its Republican chairman Senator Richard Lugar and Democrat
Chris Dodd, sought some extra assurances from London.

At last week’s hearing, however, they might as well have
been Chamberlains waving paper as far as the Irish-
Americans activists in the room were concerned.

Lugar indicated that he was quite satisfied with the
soothing words from London.

Senator Dodd, who has been a close supporter of Irish-
American causes over the years, said that a series of 11th-
hour letters exchanged between the US attorney general,
Alberto Gonzalez and Peter Hain had reassured him that
Irish-American opponents of British policy in the north
would be safe from extradition.

This didn’t impress James Caldwell of the IAUC.

“It’s a really bad day. We’re looking at a treaty where
once that knot is tied it’s going to be very, very
difficult to untie it. The executive branch at this point
appears to hold all the aces. I believe that this is a very
unconstitutional day for Americans,” he said.

At the heart of the argument is a revised treaty provision
transferring ultimate authority for extraditions from the
federal courts to the executive branch of government.

“If the new treaty were ratified, an American who opposed
British policy – for example an investigative journalist
who wrote of police abuses in Northern Ireland for an
Irish-American newspaper – could face arrest and
extradition without having any ability to challenge, in an
American court, whether the criminal charges are really a
pretext for the punishment on account of race, religion,
nationality or political opinion,” the ACLU said in a
prepared statement.



Opin: Ministers Have Lost Interest In North-South Links

By Brian Feeney

Garret FitzGerald recalls in his memoirs that the ink
wasn’t dry on the Sunningdale Agreement before the
Department of Finance in Dublin and its minister Richie
Ryan were conspiring with what he describes as “minimalist”
civil servants in Belfast to narrow the potential role of
the Council of Ireland.

His account of difficulties and jealousies and partitionism
within the Dublin bureaucracy obstructing progress on
north-south cooperation is a useful reminder that whatever
‘joint stewardship’ after November 24 means, the Irish
government is likely to be the weak link in the chain.

Difficult as it may be for northern nationalists to accept,
there is no burning desire on the part of civil servants in
Dublin to see their

hard-won empires diminished in any way, let alone watch
whole chunks of them handed over to all-Ireland bodies.

On top of that, as in 1974 and with the 1986 Anglo-Irish
Agreement, funding is always a problem.

FitzGerald was on the scene in both cases, first as the
minister responsible for north-south relations and secondly
as taoiseach.

He was a particularly forthright and committed minister
with clear ideas about the policies he was following,
policies sometimes drafted by himself rather than by
officials. He regularly used his ministerial authority to
override civil service objections and office politics.

Unfortunately there’s no evidence of that these days.

Dermot Ahern has been less than inspiring at foreign
affairs, content to intone the foreign affairs brief on EU
matters and speechify about the Middle East, a region where
his views carry about as much weight as a midge in a JCB’s
shovel and are mercifully given space nowhere but on RTE
and in the Irish Times.

Much more gratifying to masquerade as the ministerial
equivalent of the Skibbereen Eagle than initiate anything
on the north.

Anyone remember his last visit more than five miles over
the border? Anyone remember the last thing he said about
the north?

Oh yes. He said if there wasn’t agreement between the
parties by November 24 the two governments would fully
implement the other strands of the Good Friday Agreement –
original eh?

Which brings us back to the point. Not only is there less
than consuming ardour on the part of the Irish civil
service to beef up all-Ireland structures, the difference
this time as compared to 1974 or 1986 is that Irish
politicians are lukewarm too.

Dermot Ahern’s lack-lustre performance since taking office
is the best illustration – a complete absence of direction.

His namesake, Bertie Ahern, hasn’t exactly led the charge.
On the contrary, he instantly caved in on speaking rights
in the Dail for northern politicians as soon as Fine Gael
and the dreaded McDowell objected.

The truth is that no party, except perhaps the Labour
Party, which now organises in the north, has lifted a
finger to enhance

north-south links. It’s going to get worse in the next
eight months as the election campaign in the south hots up.

The reason is that all the main parties in the Republic
perceive north-south links as part of Sinn Fein’s all-
Ireland agenda and in the run-up to a general election they
aren’t going to concede that a major plank in one of their
opponent’s platform is desirable and correct.

In short, the nature and extent of all-Ireland arrangements
are likely to become political issues in the Republic
instead of matters on which all Irish parties agree and
take for granted as a national objective.

Worse – this squabble is going to develop legs in the new
year as Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the tiny, nasty,
greedy PD lot sling mud at Sinn Fein. All this kerfuffle
just at a time when the Irish and British governments have
promised a ‘step-change’ in all-Ireland policy-making.

Yet this ‘step-change’ was supposed to scare the DUP and
worry unionists. The unionist media here has even
disgracefully talked up the prospect of UVF/UDA reaction if
‘joint stewardship’ is developed.

Would it be a supreme irony if UVF/UDA killers started
shooting Catholics again to stop the Irish government doing
something it had no intention of doing or would it just be
like old times again except the British wouldn’t be
sponsoring them?


Film Rev: The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Paul Byrnes, reviewer
September 13, 2006

Ken Loach's new film, set in Ireland in 1920, tells a
powerful, emotional story.

Genre: Drama
Run Time: 122 minutes
Rated: M
Country: United Kingdom
Director: Ken Loach
Actors: Cillian Murphy, Liam Cunningham, Padraic Delaney,
Gerard Kearney, William Ruane

ating: 3 & ½ stars

If Britain were still sending convicts our way, Ken Loach
would have been on a boat long ago - which would have been
nice for us, and its loss. Australian cinema could do with
more troublemakers.

Loach is now 70 and he has been biting the hand, leg and
other parts of the British establishment for 40 years with
a string of films of extraordinary quality and humanity,
all made within the context of his unshakeable socialist
politics. This is, of course, intolerable to the chaps who
write London's Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, who
regularly call for his public flogging, especially when he
makes a film about Ireland, as he has done before. Hidden
Agenda, in 1990, was heavily criticised and this one was,
too, before anyone had seen it.

The attacks have an effect, too. In France, where Loach is
revered, The Wind that Shakes the Barley opened with 300
prints. In Britain, it opened with 30 prints, although the
figure went up to 105 after the film won the Palme d'Or at
the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Loach's films have long been
more popular in Europe than at home. In fact, he would
probably have been forced to shut up long ago if not for
European funding bodies and the fact that he makes his
films for about three quid each.

Loach is hardly the first artist to be vilified by powerful
forces within his own culture, but it's worth stating his
importance. Along with Mike Leigh, he's the most
influential filmmaker to have come out of Britain for the
past 30 years. You can see his influence on filmmakers in
Sweden, France, Belgium, Spain and Italy, and among the
younger, politicised vanguard in Hollywood (Steven
Soderbergh, for instance).

His improvisational methods, based on heavy research,
careful casting and shooting as much as possible in
sequence, are widely copied. He's even influential in
Britain, in "poor comedies" such as The Full Monty and
Brassed Off, where soft socialism comes with northern grime
and a happy tune ("Whistle-while-you-don't-work" films).

The Wind that Shakes the Barley is set in Ireland in 1920,
during the war for independence, also known as the war
against the "Black and Tans", and it's typical Loach, if
not really vintage Loach. He has made better films, such as
Riff-Raff, Raining Stones, My Name is Joe, Kes and
Ladybird, Ladybird, but this one has a powerful, emotional
story to tell, with strong overtones in current events.
That is probably why he and the writer, Paul Laverty, chose
to make it now. It's about Iraq as much as Ireland.

The story concerns a small community in Cork and although
it is fiction much of it is based on real events. Cillian
Murphy, the newest Irish star, plays Damien, a young doctor
who's about to go to work in a major London hospital, when
the Black and Tans force him to reconsider his priorities.

It helps if you know a little about Irish politics in 1920.
Sinn Fein had gone underground after the British government
executed the leaders of the 1916 Easter uprising and
outlawed the Irish parliament. The Irish Volunteers turned
into the Irish Republican Army. Britain responded by
calling for volunteers to go to Ireland to reinforce the
Royal Irish Constabulary. The Black and Tans, made up
largely of returned soldiers, quickly established a
reputation for undisciplined brutality.

The movie begins with them beating a young man to death
when he refuses to say his name in English. Damien then
joins his brother Teddy (Padraic Delaney) in the IRA. They
take to the mountains to train with hurling sticks, instead
of guns. They're initially a ragtag army of farmers and
boys, but they raid a Royal Irish Constabulary barracks to
steal guns. When they're caught Teddy is tortured in an
excruciating scene that can't but evoke thoughts of Abu
Ghraib. The violence on both sides now takes a leap

The film explores the story from several angles. In one
sense, it's about a doctor who ends up killing for a cause;
in another, it's about two brothers who end up on different
sides in the civil war that follows the peace treaty of
1921. It's also about the role of women in these wars,
because Damien's sweetheart, Sinead (Orla Fitzgerald), is
the sister of the man killed in the first scene. And, of
course, it's about the intricacies of the politics.

In this sense, the film it most takes after is Loach's Land
and Freedom, which examined the politics of the left in the
Spanish Civil War. Loach stages long scenes in which the
Irish debate the best way to get the British out of
Ireland. These are interesting as a reflection of history,
and necessary if we're to understand what's going on, but
they're a little dull, too, because the actors appear to be
at least partly improvising their lines, and frequently
stumbling over them. This can make the film seem under-
rehearsed, which isn't something you expect from a Loach

The cumulative power of Loach's filmmaking eventually
overcomes these reservations. He has an extraordinary
ability to tell a collective story, as well as an
individual one, so that the meanings of his films spread
out and flow like a delta. This one builds to a shattering
individual conclusion and a significant collective
question, about when is the right time to make peace.
There's no question where he stands on that - the treaty of
1921 was too little, too early, and it sowed the seeds of
the conflict that beset Ireland for the next 80 years.
That's a confronting argument, in terms of current events
in the Middle East.


President To Attend Funeral Of Much Loved Monsignor

By Keith Bourke

President Mary McAleese last night attended Mass at the
removal of popular Co Down priest Monsignor Arthur Bradley
last night.

Mrs McAleese was a former parishioner and close friend of
Mgr Bradley.

A spokeswoman for the president said she was very saddened
to hear of his death.

Mgr Bradley’s remains were removed to St Patrick’s Church
in Mayobridge last night.

The Mayobridge native was a former parish priest of
Kilbroney Church in Rostrevor.

He retired from the post of parish priest two years ago but
stayed on at the church.

He was diagnosed with cancer in June and died in hospital
on Monday. He was aged 75.

Heavily involved in the GAA, Mgr Bradley was chaplain to
the legendary 1960s’ Down team.

His nephew Peter Rooney was the youngest member of the Down
team who won the 1968 All-Ireland final.

“He was always involved with the Down team right through
the sixties,” he said.

“He had a great love of GAA and was always a presence at
the matches.

“As a man and an uncle he was a personal confidant, whose
advice you always sought and heeded.

“He was the rock of our family and he’s going to be sorely

Mgr Bradley was honorary vice-president of St Bronagh’s in
Rostrevor and was a former player with Mayobridge.

He served in a number of parishes during his 46 years as a
priest including Newry, Clonduff and Hilltown.

He was a leading figure in the refurbishment of Newry
Cathedral during the 1980s and was appointed a Monsignor in
recognition of his work there.

Mgr Bradley’s niece Rita Franklin said he touched his
parishioners’ lives.

“He was a very simple man. He was very much a people’s
priest,” she said.

“People liked him because he was so approachable.”

Mrs Franklin said Mgr Bradley was involved with diocesan
pilgrimages to Rome and Lourdes.

“Before he fell ill he was due to take a pilgrimage to Rome
for what would have been the 25th year,” he said.

“He’s going to be deeply missed.

“People have been saying that they’ll never see his like

Father Michael Hackett, parish priest of Kilbroney, worked
with Mgr Bradley for two years.

“He’s really going to be missed in the area,” he said.

“He was so popular with people of all ages.”

Requiem Mass will be celebrated at noon today at St
Patrick’s Church in Mayo-bridge.

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