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October 31, 2006

Mercenary Spicer Looks Beyond Iraq

News About Ireland & The Irish

AW 10/31/06 Mercenaries (Tim Spicer) Look Beyond Iraq
NH 10/29/06 Poor Support For St Andrews' Agreement
BT 10/31/06 Maze Prison Demolished To Make Way For Houses And Stadium
BT 10/31/06 Records On Billy Wright's Killing May Have Been Destroyed
NH 10/02/06 Hunger Strike: Courage & Public Support Kept Us Going
BT 10/31/06 Opin: Optimism Needed In All-Embracing Solution
BT 10/31/06 Opin: Reid Must Close Book On The Likes Of Adair
BT 10/31/06 Opin: Why Global Warming Has Gone Local
BT 10/31/06 Ulster's Climate Apocalypse
BT 10/31/06 Claudy Priest 'Denied Role In IRA Bombing'
BT 10/31/06 Big Ian Deeply Moved By Bertie's Timely Gift
BT 10/31/06 Wife Of MRSA Victim Sobs As She Tells Of Husband's Ordeal
UT 10/31/06 Tipperary Peace Prize Seeks Nominations

(Poster's Note: The Public is encouraged to nominate people for the
Tipperary Peace Prize. See article for email address. Jay)


Mercenaries Look Beyond Iraq

by Tom Griffin

As the position of the Coalition forces in Iraq looks
increasingly untenable, it is not just the fate of the
national military contingents that is in question.

Private military contractors, which make up the second
largest Coalition contingent, are also considering their
future following the end of the "Baghdad bubble," the boom
in the industry spawned by lucrative U.S. government

Some of the beneficiaries of Pentagon largess are among the
British firms that have recently formed their own industry
body, the British Association of Private Security
Companies, which is now holding its inaugural meeting

In a sign of the newfound respectability of these
companies, the venue will be the Royal United Services
Institute (RUSI) on London's Whitehall. Among those
speaking will be high-profile mercenary Tim Spicer, who
only a few years ago was persona non grata with the British
government because of his role in the Arms-to-Africa

Spicer's presence is likely to bring some unwanted
attention to the conference in the shape of a "virtual
protest" orchestrated by Irish human rights group the Pat
Finucane Center (PFC). Details of the e-mail and phone
protest were to be released on the center's Web site today.

The PFC has long criticized Spicer's role as a battalion
commander in Belfast in 1992, when two of his soldiers shot
dead 18-year-old Peter McBride. In spite of their murder
conviction, Scots Guards Mark Wright and James Fisher were
later allowed to remain in the army and serve in Iraq.

Spicer himself went on to a controversial mercenary career
in Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, and later Iraq, where
his company, Aegis Specialist Risk Management, holds one of
the largest private security contracts.

Even Aegis, however, is now looking beyond Iraq. In a paper
published by RUSI, Aegis analyst Dominick Donald argues
that "the Iraqi private security market is clearly
maturing: more discerning clients and a number of well-
established providers mean lower bids and tighter margins.
If these trends hold true, then security contracts are
likely to be smaller and less worth the effort of larger,
well-established PSCs [private security companies] with
substantial overheads."

Donald's pamphlet "After the Bubble: British Private
Security Companies After Iraq" is remarkably candid about
the options for the sector. One of its proposals is that
private security companies should target humanitarian aid
as an area of expansion.

"Humanitarian and development assistance will increasingly
be more closely tied to government policy," Donald argues.
"This is a natural political extension of the fact that
GWOT [Global War on Terror] will increasingly involve the
UK's targeted use of soft power, of which humanitarian and
development assistance is a perfect example."

Donald believes this will eventually lead to a falling-out
between aid agencies and the governments that provide much
of their funding:

"The sector's insistence on retaining the perception of
political neutrality and humanitarian impartiality means
that it is extremely reluctant to be in any way associated
with government activity. Many would therefore see
participation in a planning process as jeopardizing their
independent status.

"Yet none of this holds true for PSCs. Might there then be
an opportunity for the private sector, which would be far
readier to work to government's directions?"

Remarkably, the main thrust of Donald's argument is not
that PSCs can operate in areas too dangerous for aid
agencies. Instead, the key selling point of PSCs is
precisely that they need not "deliver assistance
impartially on the basis of need."

This is a suggestion so cynical that it is surprising to
find it committed to paper. Clearly, if aid budgets are
diverted to PSCs delivering programs driven by geopolitical
considerations, the logical corollary is that real
humanitarian priorities will go unmet.

If that agenda is realized, the rise of the mercenary
industry may prove to be one more disastrous consequence of
the Iraq war.


Poor Support For St Andrews' Agreement

(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

A referendum on the St Andrews' Agreement will not be held
in the North because it would secure far less support from
voters than the Belfast Agreement did eight years ago,
according to talks' sources.

There are also fears of a low turn-out which would be a PR
disaster for the British and Irish governments. It would
also be embarrassing for the DUP if the party endorsed an
agreement less popular than the one negotiated by David

If the North's parties do sign up to the St Andrews'
Agreement, an Assembly election will be held in the first
or second week of March, rather than a referendum. Turnout
for the 1998 Belfast Agreement was 81%, with 71% of people
voting 'yes'.

"Nothing like that would be possible this time. DUP voters
will turn out to vote for their party but not for a
referendum to put Sinn Féin in government," said a source.
Another source said republican grassroots would see voting
for the Agreement as voting for the police.

The DUP has always favoured an election, with the
governments and the SDLP preferring a referendum. However,
senior DUP sources stressed their party had not yet signed
up to any deal, and DUP support wasn't inevitable.

"What emerged from St Andrews was a set of proposals, not a
deal. Many matters remain unresolved and need more
discussion," the source said. The parties have until
November 10 to respond to the St Andrews' Agreement

Meanwhile, DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson has said he
will be "very surprised" if the timetable for appointing
shadow First and Deputy First Ministers by 24 November is

The DUP wants a pledge of support for policing by Sinn Féin
before then. Robinson said it appeared Sinn Féin would not
be ready in time. Unlike David Trimble and the Ulster
Unionists, his party wouldn't jump first, he said.

October 31, 2006

This article appeared in the October 29, 2006 edition of
the Sunday Tribune.


Notorious Maze Prison Demolished To Make Way For Houses And Stadium

31 October 2006

Demolition work finally got under way yesterday at the
former high-security Maze Prison, where thousands of
republican and loyalist paramilitary inmates were detained
during the Troubles.

The 360-acre site near Lisburn in Co Antrim will be cleared
for housing, a multi-purpose sports arena and what is
called a "centre for conflict transformation", with the
work expected to take a year.

The razor-wire and perimeter posts, where guards were armed
with machine guns, will be replaced by more peaceful
symbols, although one of the H-Blocks will be retained,
possibly as a museum.

Stormont minister Mr David Hanson who watched the
demolition gangs at the former internment camp said the
work marked a further step towards achieving the goal of a
new future for the North - one which could be shared by the
whole community.

"The Maze/Long Kesh has long been associated with conflict.
Clearing the site will be part of the mission to transform
it into a symbol of economic and social regeneration,
renewal and growth," Mr Hanson said.

The minister said he believed it was important to get the
private sector involved in the vast potential for
developing the site and he called on investors to
experience the opportunities offered.

On September 23, 1983, warder James Ferris died from a
heart attack as 38 republicans hijacked a meal truck and
staged the biggest escape in British prison history

"The proposals for the Maze/Long Kesh site represent a
fantastic opportunity to showcase internationally all that
is best in Northern Ireland in terms of regeneration,
sharing the future and conflict transformation," he said.

The Maze Prison - originally known as Long Kesh - opened
its steel gates for the first batch of internees in August
1971 on the site of a former RAF wartime base.

Throughout the three decades of violence, it was a source
of conflict and before it finally closed six years ago
thousands of paramilitary prisoners were housed there.

One of its blackest periods came in 1981 when 10 republican
inmates starved themselves to death in a demand for
political status.

On September 23, 1983, warder James Ferris died from a
heart attack as 38 republicans hijacked a meal truck and
staged the biggest escape in UK prison history.

Tensions within the complex were reflected by events on the
ground as witnessed by the December 1997 INLA murder of
loyalist paramilitary leader Billy Wright, who was known as
King Rat.

As a result of his killing, several innocent Catholics were
murdered in revenge.

Most prisoners were released from the Maze under the terms
of the Good Friday Agreement and on September 30, 2000, the
final four inmates - three loyalists and a republican -
were transferred to other jails.

The Maze Prison finally closed in September 2000

A potent symbol of the Troubles

By Chris Thornton

In the 24 years that it housed thousands of hardened
paramilitaries, the Maze was the centre of a historical

A catalogue of landmark events took place behind the high
walls and steel gates that were thrown open to demolition
equipment yesterday.

Despised by terrorists, it was nevertheless a huge
influence upon them. The IRA in particular used the time
spent behind its bars to instruct its men, review their
campaign and ultimately advise on the approach to the peace

The Maze opened in 1976 on the same site as Long Kesh, the
internment camp that it replaced. Republicans still refer
to prison as Long Kesh, because the name change was
associated with a major shift in policy.

Instead of granting paramilitary inmates political status
the Government decided to treat them like ordinary

Inside the republican wings of the H-blocks a protest
against the policy brewed. Hundreds of prisoners took part
in the dirty protest, refusing to wear prison uniforms or
wash and wiping their excrement on cell walls.

A series of hunger strikes followed, culminating in the
deaths of 10 inmates over the spring and summer of 1981. At
the conclusion of the strikes, many of the prisoners'
demands were granted by the Government.

Two years later, the jail saw the UK's largest breakout.
Thirty-eight IRA prisoners - including Sinn Fein's Gerry
Kelly - forced their way out of the high security complex.

Many were recaptured, but others spent years on the run.
Some were never caught.

In December 1997, LVF leader Billy Wright was shot dead by
INLA prisoners who smuggled guns into the jail.

Thirteen days later, Secretary of State Mo Mowlam entered
the prison to talk to loyalist prisoners about the peace

And after the Good Friday Agreement, the prison's inmates
were granted early release.

In September 2000 the prison was officially closed.


Maze Records On Billy Wright's Killing May Have Been Destroyed

By Chris Thornton
31 October 2006

Maze Prison intelligence records appear to have been
destroyed as the jail was being closed, the Billy Wright
Inquiry heard yesterday.

A preliminary hearing heard witnesses will be questioned
this week on the destruction of intelligence records in
2001, four years after the LVF leader was murdered inside
the prison and while the jail was being decommissioned.

Derek Batchelor QC, the senior counsel to the inquiry, told
the hearing in Belfast that witnesses will be questioned
about "potentially relevant documents that appear to be no
longer available".

He said some witnesses will be questioned about the
"destruction of Maze intelligence records in the latter
half of 2001", a year after the prison closed.

He said witnesses may also be questioned about whether the
destruction of documents was properly carried out according
to official policy.

Concerns over the documents available have already
contributed to delaying the start of the inquiry, which is
looking into the circumstances surrounding the murder of
the LVF chief by INLA prisoners inside the Maze on December
27, 1997.

The inquiry is due to examine whether the RUC and MI5 were
aware of threats to Wright, whether those threats had been
passed on to prison authorities and if they were acted

Full hearings are due to begin next spring, a year after
the inquiry intended to start.

The inquiry opened yesterday with the first of five days of
hearings this week at the Europa Hotel. Security
precautions have been elevated compared to previous
hearings in the hotel.

The 18 witnesses testifying this week are also due to be
questioned about how security information was recorded and
disseminated in the Maze and the Prison Service's
headquarters at the time of the murder.

Mr Batchelor said the hearing will also explore "whether
the destruction of relevant records" was carried out in
accordance with established policies.

The lawyer also said a "substantial number of documents
were destroyed" by the Prison Service as part of a "freedom
of information exercise" several years after the prison

He also explained that witnesses appearing this week will
not be asked "substantive questions" about the contents of
documents, since that material will be looked at by the
full inquiry.

The first witness to appear was Alan Craig, who was
security governor at the Maze up until nine months before
the murder. He told the inquiry that he was not aware of
security files being kept on "visitors of note".

Mr Craig, who applied for anonymity but was turned down by
the inquiry, said he did not know why those visitors would
have reference numbers in other documents.

He described how the prison's security centre received
Security Information Reports, which may also be added to a
database known as SASHA, which stood for Security and
Sociometric Handling Analysis.


'Courage Of Prisoners And Support From The Public Kept Us Going'

(Oliver Hughes, Irish News)

As the 25th anniversary of the ending of the hunger Strike
approaches, Councillor Oliver Hughes, former Sinn Féin
member, reflects on the death of his brother Francis

I am 56-years-old, have seen a lot in my time and have lost
many friends and relatives. But there were no deaths which
had more impact on me much as the death of my brother
Francis and that of his fellow hunger strikers in 1981.
October 3 will be the 25th anniversary of the ending of the
hunger strike. But for the families directly involved the
sense of loss and pain is as powerful today as it was back

We came from a humble, rural farming background. We were in
the republican tradition like a lot of the people within
the small parish of Bellaghy and we were no strangers to
harassment, arrest and imprisonment.

Francis, the second youngest of our family of 10 children,
decided to join the IRA, became a very active member and
had to go 'on the run'.

In 1978, shortly before he was captured, he was named by
the RUC as one of the most wanted men in the north. He was
seriously wounded in a shoot-out and was charged with
killing SAS officer David Jones for which he was sentenced
to life imprisonment. Francis joined the blanket and dirty

On a visit in March 1981, he said to me that he was joining
Bobby Sands on hunger strike. It was a very frightening
comment. First, I knew Mrs Thatcher had been called the
'Iron Lady' and that she would not budge to grant political
status. Second, I knew my own brother was fiercely
determined to carry it through to the end, whatever the
consequences and I knew the outlook was certainly not going
to be good.

My family was thrown in at the deep end, as were the other
families which later included that of my cousin Thomas
McElwee from Bellaghy who would also die on hunger strike.
I was asked to do spokesman in the middle of this very
difficult time, facing the cameras and journalists and
explaining the prisoners' case.

Believe it or not, we felt relief at Francis's death on May
12 because it brought an end to his agony and suffering.
The most frightening time in my life was when Francis's
remains were being taken from Forster Green hospital. RUC
men acted hysterically, were abusive, drew batons and
attacked the undertakers, the McCusker brothers. If it
hadn't been for the presence of an American crew I believe
we would have been badly beaten. What had kept us going was
the courage of the prisoners and the massive daily support
from ordinary people.

Shortly after Francis's death I was asked by Father Sean
McManus to come to the USA. I was still very emotional and
didn't want to go.

Anyway, a passport and visa were quickly arranged. However,
when I landed in Kennedy Airport my name was called out
over the tannoy and two policemen singled me out and put me
in a car. I thought I was being arrested but they smiled
and told me they were there care of the Mayor and were
going to get me through heavy traffic. The major TV and
radio stations interviewed me. The meetings I addressed
were packed with hundreds of people.

I remember coming through New York and seeing a crowd of

I got out of the car and could hear them chanting 'Bobby
Sands/Francis Hughes', the two who were then dead.

They were picketing the British embassy. I felt very proud
and burst into tears as memories of seeing both men on
their death beds flooded my mind.

Francis was a son, a brother, a victim of circumstances
growing up in a community that was treated as second-class,
a victim of harassment which he decided to physically

My father is 98 and my mother 93. My mother sits with
Rosary beads in her hand, saying her prayers.

I say to her, who are you praying to today and she says
she's praying for Francis. During his hunger strike she
went regularly to the monastery in Portglenone. She told me
one day that she had a great chat with Fr Martin who said:
"Whatever happens, it's God's will."

I said: "It's got nothing to do with God, it's that b****
Margaret Thatcher!"

But Fr Martin's comments made her very comfortable. Maybe
it was God's will. I don't know. I do know that my parents'
health has been very great so maybe Francis is looking
after them.

The hunger strike of 1981 was unique and awe-inspiring.
Such a thing was unheard of in the western world. Ten
wonderful, young, good-looking, healthy men, intelligent
men, one after the other dying a long, painful death for
their convictions.

If that's not a test of courage I don't know what is.

I don't think the Irish people will ever forget them.

We visited the prison hospital in the H-Blocks earlier this
year for Mass said by Fr Toner and Fr Murray. I looked down
the cold corridor to the cells on either side where from
March to October 10 men died and other men were on hunger
strike. It was very difficult, very emotional.

There was this tremendous sound of silence. But also the
sound of peace.

This article was submitted before Oliver Hughes resigned
from Sinn Féin.

October 2, 2006

This article appeared first in the September 30, 2006
edition of the Irish News.


Opin: Optimism Needed In All-Embracing Solution

Barry White
31 October 2006

Just 10 days to go before the first of the deadlines aimed
to produce a DUP-Sinn Fein dual monarchy, in shadow form,
before an election will complete it, next May 26. Do you
think you can stand it, and can we make it?

All my instincts say, "not a chance" but, nevertheless, I'm
all for it, hoping against hope. Basically, I doubt if
Northern Ireland has ever been a viable political entity,
capable of governing itself even under British direction.
Under British-Irish direction, which is the way things are
going, the problems are that much worse.

There have always been two tribes here and, since the
nationalists got their act together in the late 1960s, the
unionists have been losing theirs. The nationalist cause
has friends everywhere, because everyone gives an
intelligent minority the benefit of the doubt, while the
unionists have let theirs be made by incompetents or
extremists, who are an unattractive, strait-laced bunch.

So the world sees nothing strange about London and Dublin
trying to force the two tribes, whose long-term aims
couldn't be more different, into a power-sharing
arrangement that is fraught with difficulty. It's never
been tried anywhere else, it has failed here many times and
the terms in the St Andrews 'Agreement' make almost certain
that it will fail again.

As has often been said, parties which disagree on the
constitution can easily agree on things like running
district councils. But when it comes to making strategic
decisions, and enacting laws that will affect their
communities differently, they naturally go their separate
ways. Making them sit in an executive together, and
insisting that major decisions are taken on a cross-
community basis - like St Andrews does - is a recipe for

But governments, where Northern Ireland is concerned, feel
a duty to be optimistic. Tony Blair, with all his self-
confidence, thinks there is a solution, if only he could
find the right formula, and Bertie Ahern has tagged along -
though he knows there may not be one.

They think they achieved peace, by persuading republicans
to be democrats, and now they're threatening to give them
more of what they want - a greater influence for Dublin in
Northern Ireland's affairs - if a second attempt at
devolution fails.

Why should Sinn Fein attempt to make Stormont work, and
take very difficult decisions about policing, if the
alternative is low-level joint authority, by London and
Dublin? Because, the theory goes, republicans want the
respectability of sitting in government here, to promote
their chances of joining the next coalition government in

But how necessary is that, when Bertie Ahern is already
convinced that Sinn Fein has reformed itself? So the two
Governments have decided that if the parties won't come
together on their own, they'll try to blackmail them into
it, using a combination of carrots and sticks. We'll soon
see, after Wednesday's meeting with Gordon Brown, whether
the promises of an economic dividend are genuine - I'm a
sceptic - but we can only guess at the consequences of
extra Dublin input, if the November 24 deadline is missed.

(I listened to Peter Hain tell the first British-Irish
parliamentarians' meeting in Belfast, without any unionists
attending, that setting the deadline was the key to success
at St Andrews. On the plane to London, he asked Tony Blair
if the feeling, after the Good Friday Agreement, was
"rather like this". "Exactly like this," said the PM, with
a smile. So they know it isn't a done deal.)

The detail of an increasing role for Dublin in the North's
affairs has been omitted, but there is no doubt that London
has bought the proposition - best articulated by Sinn Fein
- that in future the border should be "irrelevant". In his
Waterfront speech, Hain mentioned his "all-island" plans so
frequently that eventually I started hearing "all-Ireland".
Was I wrong? Maybe not, when later he talked about creating
an all-island economy.

As someone who has family in the Republic, and regards it
as a vaguely-alien, but exciting and vibrant destination, I
have no hang-ups about an ever-closer relationship, if it
would bring more prosperity, and stability, to Northern
Ireland. They have always had liars and crooks in high
places, maybe a greater proportion than normal, but the
people aren't that different and hundreds have made an
international name for themselves, in so many fields. (Who
but George Best, in the last century, could we put on a £5

In the longer term, the drift that the two Governments
obviously want to encourage may provide a better life, and
more jobs, for Northern Ireland, known to the world as an
interesting, but troubled place. (On QI last Friday,
someone proposed a Problem Theme Park for Ulster.)

Sadly, however, I would have to warn that the two tribes
are too intransigent and too far apart to accept greater
south-north involvement with resignation. The parties
should sign up to St Andrews, however problematical it is,
and give our peculiar form of devolution another go. It's
all about learning more about what we have in common.


Opin: Reid Must Close Book On The Likes Of Adair

Gail Walker: End of story?
31 October 2006

Exiled loyalist Johnny Adair is intending to rush out his
autobiography after Home Secretary John Reid announced
plans to stop gangsters cashing in on their crimes.

Let's hope Mr Reid is in time. But even if Adair does
manage to leg it with his five-figure book deal, at least
this disgusting loophole is about to be closed.

Let's face facts: these are not memoirs of bitter self-
recrimination and a repenting of murderous ways.

It's always a tale of self-justification; the hardman who
had to do it for God and Ulster. Or maybe for God and
Ireland - because not all these memoirs are from the
loyalist side. Oh no. Provos of all hues have also felt
moved to switch on the old PC and let the ghostwriter get
on with it.

In all these tomes, there's always a supporting cast of
'sound blokes' and 'dead heroes', or 'traitors' and

In other words, 250 pages of bold-type whitewash PR, with
murder and mayhem thrown in to titillate the bloodlust of
the reader.

And despite Adair's assertion that he "did have a major
role to play in the conflict" and "people will want to read
about my life story", we won't even be getting the truth.
You can be damn sure there will be no new confessions of
crimes to land anyone back in the slammer.

But it's not just the 'authors' and the money they pull in
from these books that are so disturbing; it's also the
large market for these 'kill and tells' here.

Since the ceasefires there's been any number of these
blood-spattered memoirs - and many have climbed up the
local bestseller lists.

Just exactly who wants to wake up on Christmas morning to
find Johnny Adair in their stocking? Or climb into bed at
night with a mug of cocoa and turn to page 156 to find out
just why Squinty shot Clubfoot in 1987 in a dispute out the
back of the shebeen?

The sad fact is that many people do.

And many - though not all - of the people who read this
kind of 'literature' will either be supporters wishing to
relive the glory days or some oddball with a lifetime
subscription to True Detective magazine.

It makes you wonder if there is a certain substrata longing
for a return to the good old days?

You tend to find these books in the 'Northern Ireland
history' section of shops.

Publishers like to flog them as if they are contributing to
the scientific knowledge of Ulster's war.

So you get bona fide heroes like Montgomery of Alamein,
Colonel Paddy, Colonel Collins of Baghdad and then there's,
er, Private(s) Adair of Boundary Way.

And, it seems, everyone has a story to tell. Adair himself
has been beaten to the shop shelves by former mistress,
Jackie 'Legs' Robinson, who has just published an account
of her relationship with him.

Her profits are safe from Reid - her book is out and she
only terrorised Johnny Adair - though that doesn't make her
tome any more palatable.

But among the ghouls, sensation seekers and cheerleaders,
there's another section of readers - the families of the
victims of these "heroes".

How must they feel, having their loved one's slaying
reheated as paperback entertainment right there beside the
latest books from Jamie Oliver and Trinny and Susannah?

Let's hope Dr Reid delivers on his word.

Anything that hinders the self-regarding posturings of a
load of old killers will be ok in most people's book.


Opin: Why Global Warming Has Gone Local

31 October 2006

No one, either on the left or right of politics, can deny
that global warming is a reality. Green leaves, still
hanging to the trees, tell the story, as do early morning
temperatures of 15 degrees or more, as summer time ended.
The question is: what can we do about it - and are we
prepared to pay the price?

The report by Sir Nicholas Stern, commissioned by the
Treasury, confirms what scientists have been saying for
years - that the earth is warming up, as living standards
and fuel consumption rises, and that the consequences will
be disastrous, economically as well as environmentally,
unless a global strategy is agreed and implemented. Other
countries may reach slightly different conclusions, but
Stern has set the standard, arguing that although
stabilising carbon emissions will be costly, it will be a
lot less than a catastrophic economic depression in future.

The Government has already announced that a climate change
bill will be introduced, with carrots and sticks for those
who either make a large or a small contribution to
environmental protection. No one can quarrel with polluters
paying more, and others less, but the Government's record
on climate change has been so poor that the public will
suspect that extra taxes may be charged, to be spent in
other ways.

Public transport, under Labour, has never been given the
emphasis it should have been, to cut private motoring and
road-borne freight traffic. Anything that would be
unpopular with the public, especially at election time, has
been ruled out, so scheduled rises in fuel duty have been
vetoed and budget airlines have thrived on tax-free
aviation fuel.

All the old arguments against tougher laws will be trotted
out, but their effectiveness is waning, just as the Arctic
ice sheet is reducing by 9% a decade . In America, George
Bush rejected the Kyoto targets because the economy would
suffer, but is now being told that the ultimate cost, in a
global economic downturn, would be enormously higher. If
the world's top polluter continues to ignore the
consequences, how is China to be persuaded to curb the
growth of coal-fired power stations, opening at one a week?

The fact that the United Kingdom is responsible for only 2%
of carbon emissions underlines the necessity for global
solutions. Climate change means not just warmer, drier
summers, but stormier winters, higher sea levels - making
refugees of millions - and, inevitably, a rising tide of
immigration from dust-bowl countries to temperate ones.
Parties everywhere are jumping on the environmental
bandwagon and maybe this time they realise that a growing
percentage of the electorate is already on board.


Ulster's Climate Apocalypse

Disappearing beaches, devastating storms, disastrous
floods... they'll all happen in our lifetime unless urgent
action is taken

By Linda McKee
31 October 2006

Ulster could lose its best-loved beaches, suffer extreme
storms and flooding and face plummeting temperatures unless
world leaders act now to stave off climate change.

The warnings come from green campaigners as Prime Minister
Tony Blair called on world leaders to unite to tackle
climate change, insisting that any delay could lead to
irreversible change.

And Northern Ireland may be hit by storms and flooding in
the years to come - even if the world acts immediately to
cut carbon emissions.

The news comes just weeks after it emerged that people in
Northern Ireland are Europe's worst for wasting energy. The
province sits on top of the European Energy Wasters'
league, according to a recent survey.

Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland chief executive John
Woods warned that some changes have already been put in
motion and are irreversible - no matter how green we

But he insisted that every measure we take now can make a
difference to the future of the planet, no matter how

"Looking over the next 20-30 years, the changes going to
take place are already there. There will be temperature
rises, there will be weather changes," he said.

However, the worst changes are set to come after 2050 when
massive disruption of global weather systems will wreak
havoc on the poorest countries, bringing huge floods to
Bangladesh and catastrophic drought to Africa.

What we do now will determine whether those post-2050
changes will come to pass or not, Mr Woods said.

"In Northern Ireland, gradually winters will be getting
warmer and wetter and summers will getting hotter and

"The changes in weather will disrupt agriculture and there
will certainly be difficulties over flooding and weather
events. "You'll get increased storms and travel disruption
across the Irish Sea. Coastal areas could suffer from
storms and flooding, rivers will rise. The Lower Ormeau (in
Belfast) is already susceptible to flooding and if the
Lagan is carrying a lot more water from additional rainfall
that will affect a wider area," he said.

"We're ultimately likely to have sea level rises in the
latter half of the century, depending on whether we act

"The north coast beaches will be gone and we will lose
those valuable habitats."

Meanwhile, experts have theorised that declining salt
levels in the North Atlantic could halt the Gulf Stream,
which provides Ulster's mild climate.

"There are concerns about the loss of the Gulf Stream and
the science is uncertain. There could possibly be a
different set of effects.

"It could become very cold indeed, a bit more like what
they would have in northern Canada. Ulster needs to respond
to the threat immediately," Mr Woods warned.

"We mustn't say, 'We are only a small place and we can't do
much' - because we can," he said.

"We think the Government should be taking responsibility
for this and setting annual targets for reducing carbon
dioxide emissions of 3% each year."

Ordinary people are not immune from taking responsibility
either, he said.

One of the top priorities will be to get rid of gas-
guzzling SUVs and 4x4s which are becoming socially

"People shouldn't take short trips in their cars but walk
or cycle instead, they should use public transport, they
should switch to NIE's renewable energy tariff.

"Insulate your homes and it will pay dividends," Mr Woods

The £2m research ship that will probe the Irish Sea's
dwindling fish stocks

A new marine research vessel will be used to discover how
badly the Irish Sea has been hit by climate change.

The latest research suggests that cod stocks may be
threatened, not purely due to overfishing, but possibly
because of rising temperatures in the Irish Sea over the
past century.

And the newly commissioned Research Vessel Corystes will
scour the Irish Sea to collect evidence of how global
changes are transforming the marine ecosystem and fish

Agriculture minister David Cairns yesterday formally
commissioned Corystes, which has been refurbished by the
Agrifood and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) with state-of-
the-art technology which will be used to map the sea bed
and monitor changes in the marine environment.

Dr Walter Crozier, head of fisheries and agquatic
ecosystems at AFBI, said the massive decline in cod stocks
was previously believed to be a result of overfishing but
newer evidence suggests the fish are suffering
environmental pressure due to climate change.

The Corystes replaces the previous marine research vessel,
the Lough Foyle.

The agriculture minister said the work would support the
objective of achieving sustainability of Irish Sea
fisheries and developing an ecosystem approach to fisheries

"Sound management of our fishery resources depend on
evidence-based science," Mr Cairns said.

The vessel contains a wet lab for biological material, a
dry lab for chemical analysis and oceanography and an
acoustic lab used to detect fish shoals.

The scientists also plan to investigate the maerl beds off
the north Antrim coast, which consist of a rare coral-like
substance which grows slowly and harbours juveniles of many
commercially important fish species.

Stern warning no surprise

By Claire McNeilly

Northern Ireland should lead the way and show the world how
to make more use of renewable energy sources, experts urged

Dr Neil Hewitt, director of the Centre for Sustainable
Technology at the University of Ulster, said the findings
of the Stern report were in no way unexpected.

"If we're to survive, we need to go with it. We're an
island on the edge of Europe," he said.

"We're small. There are cities in Europe bigger than us. We
really need to get our finger out. If prices start going up
we're going to feel it worse."

Dr Hewitt added that Ulster could pave the way in terms of

"We really need to be much more innovative. We're a small
economy but we could be leaders in making this transition
to a low carbon economy," he said.

"Firstly, we must make more use of our renewable energy
resources, like wind. Secondly, we're too heavily reliant
on cars for everything we do. And thirdly we need to
improve our buildings."

Dr Hewitt added: "I think it is necessary to take action
right now. The Stern report shouldn't have come as a big
shock to people."

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said: "It's basically saying
that if we go on the way we're going it will cost thousands
of lives. It's a timely warning that each one of us has a
responsibility to save energy and prevent global warning."

SDLP environment spokesman Tommy Gallagher added: "It is
clear that if our generation do not wake up to this
humanity changing moment it will be our children and
grandchildren who end up paying the price.


Claudy Priest 'Denied Role In IRA Bombing'

By Chris Thornton
31 October 2006

The priest suspected of being behind nine murders in the
Claudy bombings had denied any involvement, a former IRA
leader claimed last night.

Ruari O Bradaigh said Father James Chesney told him in the
late 1970s that he had "nothing whatever to do with the

He made the claim as Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan puts the
final touches to a report on how the Government, Catholic
church and RUC handled suspicions about Fr Chesney.

In 2002, the PSNI told the relatives of the victims that
they "have not obtained justice".

Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid told them that
material from 1972 indicated that Fr Chesney "was a member
of the Provisional IRA and was actively involved in

William Whitelaw, the Secretary of State at the time, held
a private meeting with Cardinal William Conway five months
after the bombing to discuss the priest - who was then
quietly moved to a parish over the border. Fr Chesney died
in Donegal in 1980.

Mr O Bradaigh, who now leads the breakaway Republican Sinn
Fein, was president of Sinn Fein and was suspected of being
on the IRA Army Council at the time of the Claudy bombings.

He said: "It must be distressing to the late Father
Chesney's relatives, colleagues in the priesthood,
parishioners and friends to hear of him being publicly
accused of involvement in the Claudy bombing of 34 years

"Since no-one has come forward, I wish to put on record a
conversation I had with Fr Chesney in the 1970s. At a H-
Block meeting in Sligo he approached me as a person he
could trust.

"He said that rumours had been circulated that he was
associated with what had happened in Claudy.

"He felt this was done because he was known to be
sympathetic to the republican cause.

"He had nothing whatever to do with the bombings.

"Since the allegations have now become public I feel it my
duty to fulfil the trust put in me all those years ago. For
my part I fully accept what Fr Chesney told me."


Big Ian Deeply Moved By Bertie's Timely Gift

31 October 2006

Shows of emotion haven't got Ian Paisley where he is today,
but on October 13 he was said to have been visibly moved by
a gift from the Taoiseach.

It wasn't just any gift, nor indeed was it just any day.

At the suggestion of Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot
Ahern, the Taoiseach presented Dr Paisley with a carving
made from Boyne wood.

The wood was special as it came from the scene of the
Battle of the Boyne, when King William unceremoniously saw
off the hapless King James in 1690

Dr Paisley may have been conscious that history was in the
making with the initialling of the St Andrews Agreement,
but the man famous for saying "no" will also have been
mindful that, 50 years ago to the day, he had said "yes" in
marrying his fiancee Eileen.

Yesterday it emerged that Ian Paisley Jnr sent a
handwritten note of thanks to the Taoiseach, expressing
warm gratitude to Mr Ahern for his kindness to his mother
and father on the occasion of their golden wedding day.

That a milestone for the family happened to coincide with a
last, crucial push for peace in the historic Scottish
university town may just be a footnote to events, but they
say it's the thought that counts.

And the Paisley family is understood to have been highly
appreciative of the presentation.

Dr Paisley was said by onlookers to have been visibly
emotional about the gift and its timing on the golden
jubilee of his marriage.

While the text of the letter from Mr Paisley Jnr has not
been released, the Irish Independent understands that it
expressed genuine appreciation.

Sources close to the Taoiseach say he is believed to have
been highly appreciative of the tone and content of the


Distraught Wife Of MRSA Victim Sobs As She Tells Inquest Of Husband's Ordeal

I had a constant battle with RVH staff, she says

By Lisa Smyth
31 October 2006

A 42-year-old man who died a "horrific death" after
contracting MRSA begged not to be returned to the ward
where he was first diagnosed with the killer bug, his
inquest has been told.

Brendan McDowell, a self employed digger operator, was
admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast in
December 2003 after he was injured at work.

On the first day of his inquest, a doctor who treated him
said results of tests pointed to the fact that he
contracted the superbug while in the hospital.

Dr Damian McMullan said: "The patient didn't have an
infection before so I would suggest it was acquired in

The father-of-two, from Mullartown Heights, Annalong, was
originally taken to the accident and emergency department
at Downpatrick after the accident but was transferred to
the Royal the following day.

He was diagnosed as having a number of broken bones,
including a crushed vertebrae, two cracked ribs and a
fractured collarbone, which he sustained after a chimney
collapsed during the demolition of the parochial house in

Mr McDowell, who the court heard walked away from the
accident, underwent surgery to have a rod inserted in his
back on December 15 and although he initially appeared to
recover well, his condition began to deteriorate and he
eventually died on February 21, 2004.

Mr McDowell's devastated widow, Ann, told the jury that she
and her husband of 23 years felt they were constantly
fighting with medical staff to ensure he was adequately
cared for.

She said: "I had to take Brendan's temperature myself, I
had to sponge him down because he had a fever.

"There were times when I had to change Brendan's bed linen
myself because his back had oozed so much and I remember
one time the sheets were left in his ensuite for almost a
week. There were no contamination bags for the sheets to go

"It was Christmas time and they were short-staffed but the
agency staff didn't seem to know Brendan had MRSA and I had
to keep telling them he had an infection. I even put a sign
up on his door to let people know he had MRSA."

Mrs McDowell also said she had seen agency nurses failing
to wash their hands, treating her husband without gloves,
masks or aprons and said she was appalled by the lack of

She told the court she believed that staff regarded her as
a nuisance and said that at one stage, she threatened to
contact the hospital's chief executive and the Press to
ensure her husband was visited by a senior doctor.

"It was just a constant fight with them all to recognise he
wasn't well," she said sobbing and visibly shaking.

"One day Brendan jumped out of bed and said, 'I'm dying
here and no-one cares'. I wish I'd taken him home then, and
then when they moved him to the HDU he begged me not to let
them send him back to other ward."

Counsel acting for the Royal, Michael Lavery QC, told the
court that while Mrs McDowell suffered immensely as a
result of her husband's death, hospital staff were also
deeply affected.

He said: "It has been a tragedy for those involved in Mr
McDowell's care. They suffered pain and distress and grief
that a young man died. Mrs McDowell has made a number of
complaints against them and it's hardly a surprise that
their perception and recollection of what happened is
somewhat different."

At hearing.


Tipperary Peace Prize Seeks Nominations

Nominations are being sought for the international
Tipperary Peace Award, which has been won in the past by
Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela.

Last year`s winner was murdered former Lebanese premier
Rafik Hariri and other recipients have included Bob Geldof,
Mikhail Gorbachev and the late Irish-born Iraqi aid worker
Margaret Hassan.

Founded in 1984, the Tipperary award recognises people who
promote peace in Ireland and abroad.

Organiser Martin Quinn said: "Recipients are recognised for
their courage in the face of adversity, for their
perseverance through the most despairing of situations, and
for their vision and foresight through disillusion and

Tipperary Peace Convention, which selects the winner, has
invited the public to submit their recommendations before
December 1 to

The award will be announced early next year and formally
presented during the Tipperary International Festival of
Peace in Tipperary Town in April.

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