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November 25, 2006

Assembly To Reconvene on Monday

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 11/25/06 Assembly To Reconvene On Monday
IN 11/25/06 Political Map Still On Course Despite Chaos
BN 11/25/06 Rhetoric Coming Back To Haunt Parties - Durkan
BB 11/25/06 Stone On Adams Murder Bid Charge
BT 11/25/06 Stone Could Be Back In Prison For Rest Of Life
IN 11/25/06 Throw Away Key Says Widow Of Victim
IN 11/25/06 Stone: Savage Crimes Of Mass Murderer
IN 11/25/06 Stone’s Actions ‘An Attack On Democracy’
BT 11/25/06 Plaudits For The Guards
IN 11/25/06 Adair Dismisses Stormont As Publicity Stunt
IN 11/25/06 Security Tight After Assault By Murderer
IN 11/25/06 UDA Leader Denies Link
IN 11/25/06 Ordinary Day Transformed By Events
IN 11/25/06 Opin: A Bizarre Day At Stormont
BT 11/25/06 Opin: Sad Publicity Act By Sad Individual
BT 11/25/06 Opin: Tide Has Turned On Ulster Mavericks
IM 11/25/06 Opin: MI5 - PSNI Act2 Stormont
IN 11/25/06 Opin: Did Anyone Write Stone Into Script?
IN 11/25/06 Opin: Enough To Have All In Need Of Stiff Drink
GK 11/25/06 Blog: I Smell A Rat, The Securocrats!
SO 11/25/06 Blog: It Is A Tale, Told By An Idiot...
BT 11/25/06 The Ulster Connection


Assembly To Reconvene On Monday

The Northern Ireland Assembly is expected to meet again on
Monday to resume proceedings disrupted by a security alert.

It will hear a report on the security implications of the
incident at the entrance to Parliament Buildings.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern welcomed what he called further
clarity from the DUP leader on his intention to accept the
job of first minister.

Sinn Fein said Martin McGuinness was its choice for deputy
first minister.

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said
the meeting would be taking place at 1030 GMT on Monday.

"This will enable them to finish the proceedings
interrupted by the incident at the front door.

"In Dublin, Bertie Ahern said the comments by the DUP
leader during the assembly meeting had not been the clear
indication of intent the governments had been expecting.

"However, the taoiseach welcomed Ian Paisley's later
clarification that he would accept the first minister's job
provided his conditions are met.

"The DUP insists there is no internal split over power

"But referring to a statement from 12 assembly members
emphasising that no status should be given to either the
potential first or deputy first ministers, the Ulster
Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey, claimed Dr Paisley was now
facing an unprecedented challenge.

"Sir Reg described the rumblings within both the Free
Presbyterian Church and the DUP as a dramatic development
by any stretch of the imagination."

Meanwhile, Martin McGuinness has called for a review of
security operations at Stormont.

Speaking on BBC's Inside Politics, Mr McGuinness
said:"Quite obviously in light of the events there has to
be a review".

"I think that review should not be knee-jerk and it
certainly shouldn't be an over-reaction to what happened."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/25 12:42:20 GMT


North’s Political Road Map Still On Course Despite ‘Chaos In Hall’

By William Graham Political Correspondent

The St Andrews political plan was still alive last night
after Ian Paisley clarified that he would, at some date in
the future, accept the First Minister’s nomination if all
outstanding issues including policing are settled and
election results are favourable.

Political leaders were adamant that the chaos caused by
Michael Stone in Stormont’s Great Hall should not be
allowed to wreck a peace process that has been moving
forward in stages.

In terms of the St Andrews road map, the most important
story to emerge was that even after a wobble in the
nomination details, there is still a chance of restoring
devolved government next year.

Prime Minister Tony Blair emphasised that the two
governments’ St Andrews agreement remains the “only way
forward’’ following yesterday’s events.

In the transitional assembly yesterday, Sinn Fein nominated
Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister but Mr Paisley
withheld his name being put forward as First Minister in

However, he told the assembly that in the event of
republicans delivering on their obligations on policing and
ending paramilitarism and criminality, he would decide on
whether to enter a power-sharing government within the next

Assembly Speaker Eileen Bell appeared to interpret from
what was said yesterday that both Mr McGuinness and Mr
Paisley had accepted an intention of nomination, subject to
the outcome of the election and necessary conditions being

There was undoubtedly some confusion over the status of
what actually took place in the assembly yesterday when
nominations were formally invited.

Later some 12 DUP assembly members signed a statement
rejecting claims that they had taken part in a process
which would give their leader and Martin McGuinness the
status of First and Deputy First Ministers designate.

This statement was signed by Nigel Dodds, William McCrea,
Gregory Campbell, David Simpson, Lord Morrow, Diane Dodds,
Paul Girvan, Stephen Moutray, Nelson McCausland, Mervyn
Storey, Tom Buchanan and deputy speaker Jim Wells.

But last night Mr Paisley himself said he had made his
position clear on the conditions of accepting the post of
First Minister.

“The prime minister has made his decision about my speech
and how he interprets it,” Mr Paisley said.

“I have always said, as I said today in the assembly, what
my intention will be if policing and all of the other
outstanding issues that are before us are settled.

“Everyone know that in those circumstances after they are
delivered I would accept the First Minister’s nomination
provided the election results are favourable.’’

Mr Paisley’s comments were welcomed by secretary of state
Peter Hain, who said he expected the DUP leader and Mr
McGuinness to become First and Deputy First Ministers if
all sides honoured the St Andrews agreement.

“Although there was some confusion in the assembly, caused
not least by the attack on security, the fact that the
leader of the DUP has confirmed his intention to accept the
First Minister’s nomination, provided outstanding issues
including support for policing are addressed, shows that we
are still on track,” Mr Hain said.

“However, there is a great deal of work to do and
considerable efforts need to be made by the DUP and Sinn
Fein especially to move forward.’’

Mr Paisley’s statement was followed last night by another
from the DUP assembly group in the name of Lord Morrow
urging Sinn Fein to move soon on publicly declaring support
for the PSNI.

Mr Adams, in nominating Mr McGuinness, said he agreed with
Mr Paisley that yesterday was an important day.

“We are here as equals. We have a lot on common – we all
want peace and justice for our families and for our
children,” he said.

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey challenged Mrs Bell as to whether
Mr Paisley had actually indicated his party would nominate
its choice for First Minister.

“It requires to be clarified as to whether or not we have
witnessed a marriage or an engagement today,” he said.

Mrs Bell indicated it was a matter for the Secretary of
State to decide.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said there was as much hollow farce
as there was historical significance in what they had
witnessed and people were fed up with parties have vetoes
on progress.


Tough Rhetoric Coming Back To Haunt Parties - Durkan

25/11/2006 - 10:18:02

The Democratic Unionists’ and Sinn Féin’s tough rhetoric of
recent years is now coming back to haunt them, nationalist
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said today.

As speculation mounted that a section of the DUP had
challenged Ian Paisley’s authority at Stormont yesterday,
Mr Durkan said Sinn Féin was also being taken to task by
some of its members about its approach to policing.

“I have talked before about the DUP wrestling with its own
political schizophrenia,” the Foyle MP said.

“What you’re saying in the DUP and in Sinn Féin is the past
rhetoric coming home to roost.

“The fact is that Sinn Féin sustained anti-police and anti-
SDLP rhetoric in recent years and now some of their own
people are asking what they are doing now they are on the
verge of signing up to policing arrangements.

“At the same time the DUP would not agree to power sharing
arrangements even with the SDLP and now some of their
people are asking why are they on the verge of sharing
power with parties including Sinn Féin – something they
attacked the Ulster Unionists for.”

The North’s Assembly members were forced yesterday to
abandon their first meeting since last month’s St Andrews
plan for reviving power sharing was launched by prime
minister Tony Blair and the Irish Taoiseach.

The Assembly was sensationally evacuated when loyalist
killer Michael Stone barged into Parliament Buildings
carrying a bag with at least six explosives and carrying a
gun and a knife.

Security staff wrestled him to the ground.

Inside the debating chamber, there was confusion before the
security scare when it appeared the Democratic Unionist
Party leader, Ian Paisley, had refused to declare he would
be his party's nominee for first minister next March if all
sides kept to the St Andrews deal.

Northern secretary Peter Hain had warned that if the DUP
failed to make its intention clear, the Assembly would be
dissolved and the British and Irish governments would
implement their Plan B.

The British government later accepted comments made by Mr
Paisley to the Press Association, clarifying his position.

The North Antrim MP said: “I have always said, as I said
today in the Assembly, what my intention will be if
policing and all of the other outstanding issues that are
before us are settled.

“Everyone already knows that in those circumstances after
they are delivered I would accept the First Minister’s
nomination provided the election results are favourable.”

Mr Paisley’s remarks followed the issuing of a statement by
12 of his Assembly members, claiming the DUP had not played
ball with the Government’s demand for them to signal Mr
Paisley would be first minister next March alongside Sinn
Féin’s Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister.

In an unprecedented move, the 12 Assembly members, who
included MPs Nigel Dodds, Gregory Campbell, William McCrea
and David Simpson, issued their own statement outside of
the normal party structures.

“Given the total lack of movement on behalf of Sinn Féin on
the issue of support for the rule of law, the courts and
the Police Service of Northern Ireland, nothing that we
have said or done today can be taken by the government as
an indication that they can imply Shadow, Designat or any
other status to anyone in relation to the Office of first
and deputy first minister.”

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey described the 12 MLAs’
move as a dramatic development.

“Never ever before in the entire existence of the DUP has
any statement come from the membership challenging the
official word of the leader,” he said.

Mr Durkan today queried the point of yesterday’s Assembly
meeting if the Government was going to accept a statement
from Mr Paisley issued through the media.

“The reality is the two governments are now relying upon
comments to the press by Ian Paisley which will make people
wonder what was the point of the Assembly meeting,” the
SDLP leader said.

“The fact is deadlines in the St Andrews Agreement are
slipping despite warnings from both Governments about the

“The two governments are going to have to show a bit more
backbone in this process.”


Stone On Adams Murder Bid Charge

A man has appeared in court in Belfast charged with
attempting to murder Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuinness.

Michael Stone faces a total of five charges of attempted
murder following a major security incident at Stormont on
Friday during an assembly sitting.

He was also charged with possession of articles for
terrorist purposes and possession of explosives.

Mr Stone, 51, faces a further charge of possession of an
imitation firearm.

Mr Stone, of no fixed address, appeared at Belfast
Magistrates Court on Saturday.

In addition to being charged with attempting to murder the
Sinn Fein leader, Mr Stone is accused of trying to murder
two security guards and a person unknown.

The court heard the articles allegedly for terrorist
purposes included nailbombs, an axe and a garrotte.

A police officer confirmed to Mr Stone's solicitor that
during two police interviews, the defendant had told police
"he acted alone in that no other person or organisations
were involved in the preparation or planning".

The defendant was remanded in custody until 22 December.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/25 10:53:22 GMT

Before being led from the dock Stone shouted out: “No sell-
out. No power-sharing with the Sinners, they are war

“Ulster is not for sale, no surrender.”


Stone Could Be Sent Back To Prison For The Rest Of His Life

By Claire McNeilly And Emily Moulton

Convicted murderer Michael Stone could spend the rest of
his life in jail after he dramatically burst into Stormont
during today's crucial talks.

Stone, who is arguably one of Ulster's most notorious
killers, was released from prison in July 2000, as part of
the Good Friday Agreement.

The prison service today confirmed that there are three
conditions to his release - that he must not support an
organisation; not become concerned with criminality or acts
of terrorism in the affairs of Northern Ireland; and not
become a danger to the public.

A loyalist paramilitary from Belfast's Braniel estate,
Stone is most famous for the bloody Milltown Cemetery
massacre 18 years ago, in 1988.

There, at the cemetery in west Belfast, Stone opened fire
during the funeral of three Provisional IRA members who
were killed - while on active service - by the British Army
in Gibraltar.

Leading republicans were present at the ceremony, including
Gerry Adams, when Stone attacked the crowd with grenades
and a pistol.

He killed one member of the IRA, along with two civilians,
and injured 60 others before he was arrested.

The attack was caught on television cameras.

Some of the most savage images of the conflict were
broadcast into homes across the world.

Stone also confessed to shooting dead three other Catholics
between 1984 and 1987, claiming the victims were linked to
the IRA.

At his trial he pleaded not guilty, but refused to offer
any defence.

He was convicted of six murders and sentenced to life
imprisonment with a recommendation that he serve at least
30 years. During his time behind bars, Stone allegedly
became the leader of the Ulster Freedom Fighters and was
among a loyalist group who met then Secretary of State Mo
Mowlam in the Maze prison.

This was part of the negotiations the Government held with
paramilitaries from both sides during peace negotiations in
the mid-1990s.

Stone also collaborated with Martin Dillon on a book about
his life entitled Stone Cold.

On July 24, 2000, he was released from prison under the
1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement.

In 2004 he published his autobiography titled None Shall
Divide Us, in which he claimed that he had received
"specialist assistance" from RUC operatives in carrying out
the cemetery killings.

Stone has nine children from two previous marriages.

He also featured in the BBC2 television series Facing The
Truth where he met relatives of a victim of loyalist

Earlier this month, he claimed to have been "three days"
away from executing Ken Livingstone, the then-leader of the
Greater London Authority and the current Mayor of London,
over his support for Gerry Adams.


Throw Away Key Says Widow Of Victim

By Keith Bourke

The widow of one of Michael Stone’s victims, who met the
killer as part of a controversial television programme,
said that she hopes “they throw away the key”.

Sylvia Hackett, whose husband Dermot was gunned down in
1987, came face-to-face with the notorious murderer during
a televised meeting earlier this year.

In it, Stone admitted his part in the murder of Mr Hackett,
a bread delivery man, as he was going to work near Omagh
almost two decades ago.

Stone claimed in his autobiography that he had used
security force files to target Dermot Hackett near Omagh in

Mr Hackett’s family denied he had any political links but
was killed because he was an easy target.

Programme makers billed the encounter as a landmark on the
road to conflict resolution and healing, though critics
questioned Stone’s sincerity.

Television viewers watched Mrs Hackett flee the studio in
tears after shaking hands with Stone.

Speaking yesterday after the attack on Stormont, Ms Hackett
said she now questions everything that Stone said to her in
that meeting.

“Some things he told me I believed, other things I didn’t.
I don’t think I believe any of it now.

“What happened at Stormont brought back a lot of bad
memories for me. I’d love to know how he was allowed to get
into the building.

“I hope they lock him up and throw away the key. After
everything he’s said to us he’s shown his true colours.

“He said that he was finished with guns and violence but
look at him now. When he met us he came in with a walking
stick, I didn’t see any walking stick up at Stormont.”

Mrs Hackett said that she believed that yesterday’s
incident was another publicity stunt by Stone.

“He was looking for more publicity again and I think that’s
what he was after with our meeting,” she said.

Roddy Hackett, the brother of Dermot Hackett, was also left
doubting the truth of Stone’s assurances that he had not
directly murdered his brother but was an accomplice.

“I was quite willing to accept that he hadn’t shot my
brother. This would put a doubt in your mind now whether he
did,” he said.

Relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson said that
families bereaved by Stone will ask how he managed to gain
entry to Stormont.

“How did he manage to gain access to the Main Hall on such
a vital day? Clearly the intention was to cause huge
devastation on the same scale as in Milltown.”


Savage Crimes Of Mass Murderer

By Keith Bourke

One of the north’s most notorious killers, Michael Stone
was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989
for six murders – three of which were in west Belfast’s
Milltown Cemetery in 1988.

During what was to become known as the ‘Milltown Massacre’,
Stone, intent on killing top republicans, attacked the
crowd at an IRA funeral with grenades and a pistol.

Stone, from the Braniel estate in east Belfast, killed an
IRA member, Caoimhin MacBradaigh and two civilians Thomas
McErleane and John Murray, and injured sixty others before
he was arrested.

The attack was caught on television cameras and provided
some of the most savage images of the conflict.

Stone also confessed to shooting dead three other Catholics
including joiner Kevin McPolin and delivery man Dermot
Hackett between 1984 and 1987. At his trial he pleaded
guilty, but refused to offer any defence.

He was ordered to serve at least 30 years for the murders
which ordinarily would have kept him behind bars until

While behind bars Stone became the leader of the UFF and
was among many prisoners in the Maze to meet Mo Mowlam
during the negotiations the government held with
paramilitaries from both sides.

When freed on parole in 1998 Stone attended a ‘Yes’ rally
organised by the now defunct Ulster Democratic Parter where
supporters were told ‘the war is over’ and the Good Friday
Agreement was the best way forward.

On July 24, 2000, Stone was released from prison under the
terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Now a full-time artist, in March this year he took part in
a controversial television programme that brought families
bereaved in the Troubles face-to-face with killers.

In a meeting chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu Stone met
with the family of murdered Catholic man Dermot Hackett who
was shot dead as he delivered bread in Drumquin in Co
Tyrone on May 23 1987.

Stone admitted organising the murder but denied firing the
fatal shots.

Earlier this year he claimed he had planned to murder the
Pope and Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, over his support
of Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams.


Stone’s Actions ‘An Attack On Democracy’

By Eamon Phoenix

The extraordinary scenes at Stormont yesterday are certain
to feature heavily in future archive footage and
documentaries about the peace process.

In this sense, Michael Stone has secured a place in Irish

But yesterday’s bizarre intervention was not the first
occasion that a violent protest marred the constitutional
goings-on in the north’s

Parliament Buildings.

In 1933 headlines were made at Stormont when a Glasgow
councillor and his wife attacked a painting featuring a
triumphant King Billy.

The work by the Dutch artist Van der Meulan had been
purchased by the Craigavon government amidst considerable

Within days, however, an ecclesiastical figure on a cloud
above the Prince of Orange was believed by Craigavon’s
loyalist critics to depict the Pope bestowing a benediction
on William’s army.

Amidst mounting unionist anger the Independent Unionist MP
for Woodvale, John W Nixon – an ultra-loyalist with a
controversial background in the old Royal Irish
Constabulary –?led a party from the Scottish Protestant
League around Stormont.

Arriving at the object of their wrath, Glasgow councillor
George Forrester threw a pot of red paint over the canvas
while a woman associate slashed it with a knife.

The culprits were arrested, charged with malicious damage
and deported from Northern Ireland.

The painting was restored but relegated to the Parliament
Buildings vaults.

Yesterday’s events also recall the fevered atmosphere at
the meeting of the Dail in March 1932 following Eamon de
Valera’s electoral victory.

Many of the outgoing pro-Treaty administration bitterly
resented the election as Taoiseach of the symbol of the IRA
cause during the civil war.

There were rumours of a right-wing coup by pro-Treaty army
officers. Many TDs carried revolvers into the Chamber of
Leinster House, while one anti-de Valera TD was seen
assembling a machine-gun in a telephone kiosk.

In the end de Valera, pictured, and Frank Aiken, a former
IRA chief of staff, were sworn in without incident and in
the words of one observer, “we all went home for tea’’.

The ‘Irish problem’ was also to lead to pandemonium at
Westminster in July 1970 when Irishman James Roche threw
two CS gas canisters from the Strangers’ Gallery into the
government benches.

Roche was protesting about the use of the noxious gas by
British troops during unrest in Belfast and Derry.
Ministers and MPs, tears streaming from their bloodshot
eyes, were forced to evacuate the House. Roche was
subsequently imprisoned for 18 months .

Violent incidents in parliamentary forums have a long
history, meanwhile, on the continent.

In 1933, when Hitler became Nazi Chancellor of Germany, he
immediately introduced an ‘enabling act’ setting aside
democracy and free speech. When socialist deputies opposed
the legislation, Hitler had the public galleries of the
Reichstag packed with Brown Shirts shouting ‘We want the
act and we want it now’. The result was the establishment
of the Nazi dictatorship.

A few months later the Reichstag building was burned to the
ground in a mysterious fire.

Spain’s transition from military dictatorship to
parliamentary democracy after the death of General Franco
in 1975 was also threatened by right-wing generals.

The country approved a democratic constitution in 1978.
Over two years later a colonel and soldiers from the
paramilitary Civil Guard burst into the Cortes (Spanish
assembly). They fired sub-machine guns into the ceiling and
took the cabinet and 350 MPs hostage.

The crisis was defused when the new king, Juan Carlos,
appeared on television in military uniform and ordered the
armed forces to crush any military uprising.

Stone has ensured that a Stormont assembly which has never
transacted any business will be remembered, if only for his
attack on democracy.


Plaudits For The Guards

By Lesley-Anne Henry
25 November 2006

The bravery of Stormont security staff who tackled Stone
has been recognised by police.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland praised the
"quick response" of the two civilian security workers who
wrestled Stone to the ground - despite claims that he was
carrying a bomb and had his finger on the detonator.

Sources said Stone entered the building shouting "No
surrender" and warned there was a device.

One member of security staff received a head injury, which
is not believed to be life threatening, during the

ACC McCausland said police were carrying out a "rigorous
and thorough investigation into the serious incident.

He said: "Police arrived at the scene within minutes of
receiving a report from security at Stormont and worked
with the security staff to bring the situation quickly
under control. The building was evacuated immediately.

"I would like to praise security staff for their quick
response ... One man has been arrested and has been brought
to Antrim serious crime suite.


Adair Dismisses Stormont Alert As Publicity Stunt

By Allison Morris

Exiled loyalist Johnny Adair said Milltown killer Michael
Stone’s gun and bomb alert at Stormont yesterday was
nothing more than a staged attempt to regain the media

Stone, who murdered three people at an IRA funeral in
Milltown cemetery in 1998 is now expected to be returned to
jail to serve the remainder of six life sentences.

Speaking from Scotland, former ex-Shankill UDA boss Adair,
said that Stone only carried out the bomb threat at
Parliament Buildings in order to make headlines.

“Michael Stone is criminally insane he thrives on media
attention,” Adair said.

Adair, who was sent to jail for directing UFF terrorism,
even claimed that Stone had conceived the bomb plot to take
media attention from Adair’s upcoming book launch.

“He confessed to three murders he didn’t even do just to
make himself out to be more important that he was,” Adair

“Sure doesn’t he keep walking into police stations and
claiming he’s responsible for all sorts and they just throw
him back out again because he’s a header.

“He’s been trying to get himself put back into jail for
years – well now he’s finally got what he wanted.

“He wants people to say ‘Michael Stone tried to kill Adams
and McGuinness at Stormont.’

“After that circus all people are going to say is ‘did you
see Stoner wrestled to the ground by a woman.’

“The man’s lost the plot. He should be put in a padded cell
in a mental asylum and left there for the rest of his


Security Tight After Assault By Murderer

By William Scholes

Security around Parliament Buildings in east Belfast was at
its tightest for many years last night as investigations
continued into how armed loyalist killer Michael Stone was
able to storm Stormont.

The building was treated as a crime scene until 8pm, al-
most 10 hours after politicians, staff and journalists were
dramatically evacuated when Stone tried to force his way
into the Great Hall.

The solo assault, which bore echoes of his 1988 Milltown
Cemetery attack, also triggered a search for bombs at
Parliament Buildings.

With a high level of public and media attention focused on
Stormont, the security breach was highly embarrassing for
the British government. Secretary of State Peter Hain has
asked Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde to review security.

It was left to civilian security guards to stop Stone, who
was wielding a 9mm Browning pistol of the same sort he used
during his Milltown attack as he tried to force his way
through the revolving door at the entrance to the Great

He was also armed with a knife and up to eight pipe-bombs,
which Sir Hugh des-cribed as “fairly amateurish”.

Before trying to get into Parliament Buildings, Stone had
time to stop and spray graffiti – “Sinn Fein IRA war” – in
large red letters on the facade.

There were suggestions that Stone approached the building
in the guise of a photographer and that he set up a tripod
beside the portico before launching his assault.

Although Stone was able to throw the pipe bombs, which he
was carrying in a rucksack, into the Great Hall a male and
female security guard stopped him from getting any further.

Shouting “No surrender” and describing DUP leader Ian
Paisley as a “traitor”, Stone had the gun snatched from him
by the female guard while the male guard pinned him against
the wall.

Amid the pandemonium, other security guards order-ed
reporters away from the front door as an alarm wailed.

A defiant Stone, repeatedly shouting, was eventually forced
outside, where the civilian guards restrained him.

The male security guard received a head injury, which was
described by police as “not life-threatening”.

Police arrived 10 minutes after Stone’s initial attempt to
enter Parliament Buildings, according to witnesses.

The chief constable said his officers were at the scene
five minutes after the attack was reported.

There is no full-time police presence at the sprawling 235-
acre Stormont estate, which is also home to the NIO
ministers’ offices at Stormont Castle and several large
civil service office buildings.

The permanent police presence, scaled down at the end of
the Troubles, was relaxed further during Mo Mowlam’s time
as secretary of state between 1997 and 1999.

She was keen for the grounds to be more accessible to the
public, even throwing the gates open for an Elton John

Visitors arrive at the estate by three main entrances: to
the side at Massey Avenue; to the front, along the mile-
long Prince of Wales Avenue which runs from Upper
Newtownards Road towards Carson’s statue; and from Stoney
Road beside Dundonald House.

There are security gate houses and barriers on the road at
these entrances. Most motorists are stopped and asked to
show identification. Pedestrians are not stopped.

The chief constable said the security guards who seized
Stone were “extremely brave” but he did not think there
should be a police presence at the building.

“This man was there to disrupt what was a very important
day for Northern Ireland. He was not allowed to do that,”
Sir Hugh said.

“While he may have got himself a little short-term
publicity I think the vast majority of people will see this
for what it was: a sad publicity act by a very sad

Eight police officers as-signed to protect MPs were inside
Parliament Buildings but did not help the civilian guards
because, Sir Hugh said, they had a “specific role”.

Stone was in custody at Antrim police station last night.


UDA Leader Denies Link

A leading UDA figure last night denied that Michael Stone
is still connected to the organisation.

Convicted of six murders, including the Milltown massacre
in which three mourners were killed and 60 others injured
in west Belfast, Stone tried to storm Parliament Buildings
shouting “No surrender’” yesterday.

A senior member of the UDA said last night: “Stone has not
been linked to the UDA since his release from prison.

“This was most certainly not a sanctioned action today.

“The UDA has to take its lead from the community and this
is not what we are about any more.

“Michael Stone is publicity-hungry and in that way I
suppose he achieved what he set out to do in that he’s
managed to get himself back into the headlines.”


Ordinary Day Transformed By Extraordinary Events

By Andrea Devlin

It was never going to be a story to set the world alight
and on the way to Stormont we were wondering if it was even
worth our while going.

It may be important politically, but visually it was going
to be a non-event.

How wrong could we be. We arrived at Stormont at 11am and
sat in the car for a few moments hoping the rain would
pass. It wasn’t going to ease up so I lugged my equipment
into the building.

I was waiting in the Great Hall along with the rest of the
photographers and camera crews for the assembly members to
come out of the chamber.

We were settling in for a long wait, not expecting anything
much to happen for a while.

That’s when I heard shouting and a commotion coming from
the front entrance.

It didn’t really alarm me at first as I thought it was a
drunk trying to get into the building.

But the noise began to get louder, more people started to
get involved and then I heard the man shout “No surrender”
and we instinctively lifted our camera and rushed towards
the main door.

I saw a security man and woman wrestling with a man who
appeared to be stuck in the revolving doors.

We could see a dark coloured rucksack lying on the floor
which appeared to belong to the intruder.

The man started to shout: “It’s a bomb, it’s a bomb.”

Security tried to move us further back from the scene.

Then it was panic. Security didn’t know which way to take
us as our obvious escape route, through the front door, was

Security guards were holding the man with his arms
outstretched – he didn’t seem to be struggling – he just
kept shouting, “It’s a bomb”.

The alarms began to go off as about 30 of us were ushered
down a corridor. At this point we realised that the man was
Michael Stone. We looked at the pictures taken by The Irish
News photographer and we could see Stone had a gun.

We were brought outside. Most of us had left coats, bags
and equipment inside; it was still pouring with rain and we
were all soaked within minutes.

Stone had been brought outside the front of the building.
There were still only two security people restraining him.
More security officials came to their aid and he was

We were moved further away from the scene, towards Carson’s

It was then back to the waiting game but this time it was
for the police, the bomb disposal unit and to get our
belongings back.

As we thought, just another boring day at Stormont.


Opin: A Bizarre Day At Stormont

When history repeats itself, according to Karl Marx, it is
first as tragedy and then as farce.

However, even Groucho Marx would have been hard pressed to
fully describe the sequence of events both inside and
outside the debating chamber at Stormont yesterday.

Yet another deadline came and went without Ian Paisley
directly answering the most basic question over his
willingness to accept a nomination as Northern Ireland’s
first minister.

Gerry Adams then proposed Martin McGuinness as deputy first
minister but there was still no indication if or when Sinn
Fein might address the other central issue of policing.

Finally, the entire proceedings had to be abandoned when
the sordid loyalist attention-seeker Michael Stone
attempted to stage a publicity stunt with what appeared to
be a gun and bombs at the main entrance of Parliament

Just about the only people to emerge from a completely
bizarre day with any credit were the civilian security
staff at Stormont.

They swiftly detained Stone, who likes to present himself
as a ruthless and ferocious killer, with a lightly built
blonde woman disarming him easily.

Although Stormont is effectively within a public park, it
is still alarming that such a notorious figure was able to
walk right up to the front door of the complex on a high-
profile occasion without attracting any police attention.

The intervention of Stone, who deserves to spend the rest
of his days in a secure psychiatric ward, was still a
distraction from our wider political problems.

It is reasonably clear that a deal which would allow the
return of a partnership administration at Stormont has come
down to a matter of sequencing.

Mr Paisley obviously covets the first minister’s post but
does not want to make his move until Sinn Fein endorses our
new policing structures.

Sinn Fein, for its part, is ready to do business on this
front but is seeking a prior guarantee from the DUP over
power-sharing and the devolution of powers over justice and

A form of words which would satisfy all these aspirations
is capable of being jointly finalised within a matters of
days but, if this does not happen, both parties should
resolve to act independently.

Mr Paisley should announce that his party immediately
accepts the principle of power-sharing and will within a
reasonable time-scale support the devolution of all
relevant powers to a Northern Ireland executive.

Sinn Fein should call an early special conference which
would unequivocally commit the party to backing the
impartial administration of law and order by the police
services on both sides of the border.

Through this scenario, the side which jumped first would
earn international praise. A simultaneous initiative would,
of course, be better again.


Opin: 'A Sad Publicity Act By A Very Sad Individual'

By Brian Rowan
25 November 2006

It was a day when a political farce was pushed off the
stage by a paramilitary play - a day when one of the
bogeymen of our past showed up in the present, showed up
with a bag full of pipe bombs.

And, there he was, performing in public at Parliament
Buildings - turning what was supposed to be a significant
day and date into a Stormont shambles.

What was it all about? It was about Michael Stone - the man
of yesterday trying to make himself relevant today.

"A sad publicity act by a very sad individual," was how the
chief constable Sir Hugh Orde chose to describe it.

Stone's life - after the murders he committed inside
Milltown Cemetery at an IRA funeral; after the years he
spent in the Maze - has become a pathetic competition with
another former loyalist leader, Johnny Adair, to stay in
the news - to be a somebody in the peace after the
paramilitary war.

That is what the red paint and the gun and the bombs were
about: not an Ian Paisley sell out; not the prospect of
Martin McGuinness being in government again - but about
craving publicity.

The devices dealt with at Stormont may have been
"amateurish", but that doesn't mean they weren't dangerous.

So, on the day of another broken deadline at Stormont - on
a day of more fudge and farce - Michael Stone decided there
would be a drama and that he would take the stage.

And those within loyalism who once embraced and celebrated
him, well, yesterday they ran a political mile from him;
and couldn't get away fast enough.

That tells us something else. It tells us that Stone wasn't
representing any wider mood within the paramilitary

This was a maverick show, a play written and performed by a
man who doesn't know how to melt into the background, how
to leave the stage.

I thought it was a wind-up when the loyalist politician
David Ervine called me on my mobile phone yesterday to tell
me the story.

It took me a while to realise he was being serious. He had
all the detail, and, at the end of our conversation, he
joked, "I'm a politician get me out of here".

That summed it up, said all that had to be said about Stone
and Stormont and that shambles that was yesterday.

Then came the statements from the political wing of he UDA,
distancing words saying it was nothing to do with them.

Stone was accused of acting out a "gimmick in the most
eccentric way" - of making his people look "petty and

It was a dangerous gimmick.

And, as far as the loyalists are concerned, what was it

It was about Stone acting on his own "to steal the
limelight for himself".

That just about sums him up.

From Stormont, he was taken to hospital. He'd complained of
chest pains, and from there it was to Antrim to be
questioned by the police.

Like Milltown all those years ago, Stormont was captured on
camera. It was there for all to see, and, I imagine that's
what Stone really wanted - maybe more than anything else.

It wasn't about a political sell-out. It was a one-man
paramilitary show, a play for publicity - a play that will
send Stone back to prison.

"The only thing he didn't think about was his licence," a
security source observed - meaning the licence and the
terms of his early release from jail under the Good Friday

Those terms were clearly broken yesterday.

Stone did steal the limelight, and he took the spotlight
away from the Stormont politics of jogging on the spot.

Did something happen inside the chamber yesterday?

At the very most it was an inching forward, but it was far
from what was envisaged under the St Andrews Agreement.

This process will eventually deliver the DUP into power-
sharing and republicans into policing. I'm convinced of

That is the direction in which this project is going.

It may be hard to believe because of the recent snail-paced
nature of politics since that last day of excitement at St
Andrews those few weeks ago.

But the big picture is still about Ian Paisley and Martin
McGuinness and Sinn Fein and the DUP.

And what about Michael Stone and what he got up to

In the context of that bigger picture, it was a Stormont
sideshow, the "gimmick" - the dangerous stunt - that those
who know him best chose to call an eccentric bid for


Opin: Tide Has Turned On Ulster Mavericks

25 November 2006

A day that should have been remembered for marking another
tentative step forward in the peace process has instead
pitched Northern Ireland into the international headlines
and once again, for all the wrong reasons.

The audacious attempt by loyalist maverick Michael Stone to
burst into Parliament Buildings was an assault not just on
the Assembly but on democracy itself. Only the exemplary
courage shown by security staff in tackling an armed man
prevented further outrage from taking place.

That said, it is disturbing that Stone should have been
able to get as far as he did. The Milltown murderer is one
of the most notorious and easily recognised paramilitaries,
and surely alarm bells should have rung at a much earlier

Although the security situation is more relaxed nowadays,
the police should have been on a higher state of alert
yesterday. This, after all, was a high-profile occasion,
the date of which had been announced by Peter Hain long in

While it is easy to be wise with hindsight, the possibility
of some protesters trying to exploit the event as an
opportunity for grandstanding should have been factored
into the risk assessment.

The law will now take its course, and it would be
unfortunate if the world assumed that there was widespread
loyalist paramilitary opposition to the deal. While there
has been dissent within the DUP, there is no indication
that the mainstream loyalist groupings are opposed to the

Although proceedings on the floor of the Assembly were cut
short, the highly conditional affirmation given by Ian
Paisley that the DUP intends to submit a Ministerial
nomination next March has evidently been sufficient to
satisfy Mr Hain and the Government.

Despite putting a brave face on events, the Secretary of
State will be disappointed he did not get a more
wholehearted endorsement from Mr Paisley. But until Sinn
Fein convenes an Ard Fheis and declares its support for the
PSNI, the DUP is entitled to move cautiously.

The ball is in Sinn Fein's court and the pressure is on the
party, not just from the Government but from the
nationalist community in general. The tide of public
opinion has turned, and most people now have no qualms
about contacting the PSNI in times of difficulty.

While the November 24 hurdle has been overcome, the St
Andrews Agreement is far from being on the home straight.
The DUP and Sinn Fein remain poles apart as to when
policing and justice should be devolved to the Assembly.

The world now waits to see if the DUP and Sinn Fein are
serious about progressing to a partnership government. But
the re-emergence of Michael Stone is just one more reason
why a deal needs to be nailed down, and nailed down fast.


Opin: MI5 - PSNI Act2 Stormont

National Crime And Justice News Report
Saturday November 25, 2006 12:52 by Yusuf

Loyalist Paramilitary Michael Stone carried out an attack
on the parliament building at Stormont yesterday but was he
in fact tryin to kill anyone or just playing the leading
role in yet another MI5 plot to direct the course of Irish

A British Agent behind Stormont Spectacle

In his autobiography "None shall divide us" Michael Stone
claims the RUC helped him attack unarmed mourners in
Milltown cemetery. Yesterday Hugh Order Chief PSNI goon
called Stones attack on Stormont "fairly amateurish". A guy
with an automatic handgun and eight explosive devices
entering the parliament is called "fairly amateurish" by
the police!!! This Loyalist terrorist admitted he was
trying to kill Adams and McGuinness and possibly more Sinn
Fein members and the police call it "Fairly amateurish"!

This in the era when you cant go on an airplane with a
nail-clippers and where 24 Muslim men are in jail in
England for conspiring to blow up planes to America with
explosives, without having explosives or even passports.The
MI5/PSNI are still behind stone and pulling his strings
depending on the orders from No 10 Downing Street and

When MI5 and the PSNI wanted to pull down the Northern
Ireland Assembly they used their agent, Sinn Feins' Dennis
Donaldson to give them the excuse to storm the parliament
with black clad stormtroopers. Where were the RUC when
Stone turned up with a gun and a bag of bombs? Why was it
left to too security staff to arrest him? Because it was
all just another pathetic stageplay to impress on poor ole
thick Paddy how much he needs the RUC/PSNI to protect him,
that's why.

Do people actually fall for this sort of trickery? How
arrogant of MI5/PSNI and their political companions Blair
and Ahern to think people won't see through such a pathetic

I wonder if you were heading into the White House with an
automatic hand gun and a bag of bombs, admitting you
intended to kill Bush and Cheney would they call is "fairly
amateurish" or would they raise the "terror level" to a
deep purple haze? In Ireland they are hoping it will give
them the excuse to embrace the RUC/PSNI.

The RUC were a corrupt political agent force before and
this sort of paddy-whackery along with the previous
"Donaldson" raid only goes to underline how deeply
politically motivation and control.

Should we accept the PSNI? NO! They should be disbanded and
a proper force constituted. It's no excuse that this is the
best deal wea are going to get. That's what they told
Collins 80 years ago. To give any authority to the PSNI to
police the Nationalist population would be an act of gross
ignorance or worse.

Cover-up of Political dimension to First Stormont Raid. The
raid assisted by a British agent in Sinn Fein

Previous PSNI/MI5 stageplays to influence politics in

Related Link:


Opin: Did Anyone Write Stone Into Script?

By Susan McKay

Was Stoner in the script? After all, someone had to shout,
‘No surrender!’ The loyal of Ulster require it.

Paisley couldn’t do it. If he had, it would have made it
impossible for Eileen Bell to stick to her lines.

As it was, she was pushing it, with her claim that the
parties had nominated or indicated they would nominate
first and deputy first min-isters. Sinn Fein had. The DUP
had not.

Enter Michael Stone, with staring eyes, snakey hair and a
walking stick. He is armed with a knife, a gun and a bomb.
“No surrender,” he shouts, charging across the marbled
halls, slinging his sports bag, smoke and flames emerging
from it, ahead of him. He becomes entangled in a revolving
door and is disarmed by a security woman.

There was one brave per-son in Stormont yesterday, anyway.

Stone is taken away. We see that he has scrawled something
about Sinn Fein in red paint – or is it blood? – on the
white walls of Parliament Buildings. Where were the police?

During the debate Ms Bell was hoarse with shouting down Bob
‘jack in the box’ McCartney, who was presumably trying to
suggest that Paisley had, indeed, surrendered. But had
Paisley himself chosen to rear up, she could not have
silenced him.

However, when she ignored the fact that he had refused to
nominate, he didn’t demur.

That was left to Nigel Dodds. Half an hour later he was on
the BBC’s Talkback, insisting that the DUP had definitely
said no and that it was a falsehood to claim they had said
not yet. Hot on the heels of this came a statement: nothing
we have said or done today can be taken by the government
as an indication that they can imply shadow, designate or
any other status to anyone, it said. Dodds signed it along
with Willie McCrea, Gregory Campbell, David Simpson and

The Doc didn’t sign and nor did Peter Robinson or Jeffrey
Donaldson or Ian jnr. Clearly, there are tensions but this
is more about how the DUP is going to manage its glacial
progress towards sharing power with Sinn Fein.

Those who back the Taliban approach to politics will get
anxious when they hear that Paisley’s going along with the
plan to sit down with the foe. But then they are reassured
by a hardline outburst.

Later yesterday, Paisley issued another statement. Everyone
knows he said, that when the time is right and Sinn Fein
has delivered, I would accept the first minister
nomination. More anxiety.

But then Nigel has just recently said that this could take
several political lifetimes. Does the DUP really think
Paisley is immortal? No. It is just speaking with more than
one tongue. It doesn’t have the courage to tell its people
the era of no surrender is over. The weakness of Paisley,
the Big Man, is exposed.

By nightfall, the whole DUP assembly party had issued a new
statement. They were all in agreement. Sinn Fein was to

As secretary of state, Peter Hain is in charge of this
woeful pantomime. Sounding like a salesman for cut price
electrical goods, he said recently, we can get there
because people know we are for real!

He said devolve or dissolve and claimed yesterday’s
nominations were a crucial move in implementing the St
Andrews deal.

Then, under cover of expressing exasperation with Paisley,
he slipped in a crucial modification: if there is not a
willingness to express even an intention to nominate, what
is the point of proceeding? So, yesterday the Jesuit-ical
intention to nominate was fulfilled and the show goes on.

Of course, Hain also noted sagely that with Northern
Ireland you can never be certain what might come out of the

Cue Stoner. Most recently seen on the BBC hardly even
trying to look sincere while claiming remorse for murdering
Dermot Hackett and simultaneously claiming he didn’t
actually do it, though, yes, he had admitted he did.

He will go back to jail. He’s a mass murderer, after all,
released on license under the Good Friday Agreement.

Stone is near enough a suicide bomber. Remember when he ran
down through Milltown cemetery in 1988 blazing with gunfire
and grenades, killing three people and injuring 60 others?
He must have known he was likely to be killed.

By the time the police rescued him, he had been beaten

He loves media attention. He’ll go to any lengths to get
it. His video cabinet includes Mo Mowlam consulting him in
the Maze in 1998, the rapturous reception he got on stage
at the Ulster Hall, his celebrity artist appearance on
RTE’s Late, Late Show and now this. In the past, he used to
send locks of his long hair out to the young loyalists who
adored him.

Stone’s a nutter. He’s also a reminder that loyalists are
still armed and out there.

Is Paisley going to do something about that? No? Never? Not


Opin: Enough To Have Us All In Need Of A Stiff Drink

By James Kelly

History was made at Stormont yesterday when members of the
transitional assembly evacuated the building after a bomb
scare. Shades of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. But who
should walk in as bold as brass but the convicted mass
killer Michael Stone – carrying a bag containing a
suspected bomb?

He was promptly arrested as alarm bells went off and the
speaker ordered MLAs to evacuate. The interruption came
after a farcical brief debate punctuated by shouts,
rejected points of order and jibes at DUP leader Ian
Paisley who refused to nominate a first minister until Sinn
Fein publicly endorsed police and the rule of law.

It was a right old mess and muddle the previous night,
rather like a bad dream making no sense. The media in
confusion about Hain’s “no nonsense” deadline; cross-
channel newsmen interviewed on the BBC were nonplussed; and
a courageous BBC lady correspondent took a taxi to Paisley
jnr’s home to inquire: “Wot’s it all about?”

He laughed and told her to drive back to Andersonstown and
ask Gerry Adams and quickly closed the door.

Meantime, his dad, who was beginning to look like Captain
Bligh suddenly confronted by a mutiny on his good ship
Bounty, refused to be drawn when one-time deckhand from UTV
turned Bible-thumper, Ian Foster, protesting his admiration
for the boss who exiled him years ago to far-off Fermanagh,
shed crocodile tears at the prospect of his moderator
joining up at Stormont with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness.

He plunged the knife in deeper by telling the world sadly
that he knew no one in the Church who welcomed the DUP
going into government with the republicans.

The obvious question was why did he take this up with the
press instead of phoning his beloved moderator?

When told about Foster’s public hand-wringing the old boy
wisely ignored it. What was Foster up to? Making a bid as
top dog if things fall apart? But he may have rivals. In
politics they say there are no real friends when things get

Other voices have been raised, but in code, including on
the house of commons back benches. Nigel Dodds has been
upping the ante about Sinn Fein one day learning to love
the peelers. He was accused of making an inflammatory
statement by Hain when he claimed that Sinn Fein’s
acceptance of policing and justice might not happen for a
“political lifetime”!

Others, in letters to the press, seemed to imagine that
they were on the crest of a wave that would sweep their
beloved Neverneverland back to loyalist majority rule like
the old days with the Good Friday Agreement superseded by
Mr Paisley’s clever dilution of the hard-fought-for
advances and reforms. All bunkum, of course, with a rising
Catholic educated minority determined to share power in the
six counties and never again to tolerate the role of
second-class citizens and the insult “croppies lie down”.

It will take time to eradicate the memory of the blood
letting of the crazy 30-year so-called war but bordermania,
fostered for 50 years by stupid politics on both sides, is
dying the death in the new Europe, to which the island of
Ireland now looks in friendly partnership with England and
the states of Scotland and Wales. The coming together of
the Christian Churches in Ireland as never before and the
recognition of the time lost in the development of the
economy here in contrast to the astonishing success of the
Celtic Tiger, is good news as we try to grin and bear
tedious last days of the old foolishness.

It may take time and in a sense it’s possible to sympathise
with Secretary of State Peter Hain in attempting to do the
seemingly impossible of trying to persuade the outdated
ideologies to work together for the common good. Other
secretaries at Stormont Castle gave up the ghost.

One famous Tory secretary is often quoted on his return to
London by plane, calling out to a steward: “What a bloody
awful country. Get me a double whiskey”.

Hain has maintained a courteous and smiling stance even in
the face of unpleaant grilling but it has been hard going
since the apparent success of the get together of the
political parties at St Andrews.

Still, one could imagine him back at Westminister imploring
Chancellor Brown: “Please Gordon, get me out of there when
Prescott’s job as deputy premier becomes vacant.”

Hain had the unhappy task of piloting the St Andrews bill
through a three-quarters empty Commons.

Why do the members on both sides of the house flee to the
bar when Norn Iron is mentioned? Are they telling us


Blog: I Smell A Rat, The Securocrats!

I see that Michael Stone, the butcher of Milltown, has been
up to his old tricks again. Stone tried to storm the
Assembly chamber yesterday with the intention of
assassinating Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and god knows
who else.

According to reports today he was found in possession of a
hatchet, explosives, nail bombs and a handgun.

Only for the brave actions of security guards this could be
a very different day today. This was not only an attack on
the Sinn Féin leadership and democracy, it was also an
attack upon the Peace Process.

I don't for one minute believe that this ignorant cretin
acted alone. When he attacked Republicans at Milltown the
RUC ferried him there and rescued him afterwards. I am
convinced that he received similar assistance yesterday.

I was up at Stormont last week and I was stopped so many
times it was unbelievable, yet Michael Stone is allowed to
casually walk up to Stormont and spray paint over the walls
and then attempt to storm the building fully armed?

I don't think so! This smells like securocrats!

Let's just put this in context

Paisley was on the verge of a deal and then we had the
Northern Bank, the only money ever recovered was found on
RUC premises. Yesterday we had Paisley about to accept
Martin McGuiness as Deputy First Minister and then this

It is also interesting when you see just how divided the
DUP are on the issue of Power Sharing. 12 of their Assembly
members, including 4 MP's, issued a statement against Power
Sharing and in defiance of their Party Leader's position.

I see that Stone has been charged with five charges of
attempted murder and other related charges, I wonder will
they stick?

Will Stone end up the same way as Ken Barrett? William


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Blog: It Is A Tale, Told By An Idiot...

In the chaos of yesterday’s tumultuous events, a few
important snippets came loose. Ian Paisley made a nonsense
of the Speaker’s pre-ordained role, by not using a
particular form of words that the NIO had assured her would
be there. It seems she was legally compelled by the
Secretary of State to accept anything Dr Paisley said. We
may put in an FOI request to try to clarify the matter. But
it also seems that Sinn Fein is determined not to face a
damaging election having signed up to policing. Indeed,
Slugger understands that Peter Hain and NIO officials have
been issuing briefings to the effect that the Ard Fheis may
not take place until after the election.

As the man says:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Mick Fealty @ 10:52 AM


The Ulster Connection

Acclaimed Belfast-born anthologist and critic Patricia
Craig has published her latest book, The Ulster Anthology,
a rich and diverse exploration of local writers from the
17th century to the present day. She tells Marie Foy how
the 722-page book could have been six times bigger and why
she included the work of Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams

25 November 2006

Why did you decide to compile this anthology?

All my life I have been possessed by Irish writers in
general, but particularly Northern Ireland writers. People
think it is a place of extreme philistinism and people are
not interested in art and literature. This is complete
nonsense. It is a very literary province when you start to
look into it and you make all kinds of extraordinary
discoveries. I have been pleased to come across a number of
women writers who aren't particularly well known, such as
Nesca Robb and Siobhán Ní Luain.

The anthology is very large but it could have been six
times the size. With the explosion of talent from the
Sixties on, the choice was enormous. At times I didn't
think I would be able to impose any kind of shape on it.
Blackstaff are wonderful publishers - they did everything

What did you hope to achieve with the book?

To present to the people of Northern Ireland an
accumulative and enlarged picture of themselves and their
surroundings, but also to alert other readers that there is
more to the north than all the confusion and commotion
associated with it.

Your extracts go as far back as the Plantation. What
material have you chosen?

I tried to cover every kind of writing - social commentary,
historical writing, autobiography, biography, memoirs and
poetry as well as prose. Poetry is very well represented.
Louis MacNeice, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, James Simmons,
Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian and Ciaran Carson are there,
along with writers including John Morrow, a comic writer
who is terribly funny, Glenn Patterson and Deirdre Madden.

The bulk of the book is concerned with the 19th and 20th
centuries, probably more the 20th.

I decided to assemble it by theme rather than
chronologically. It could have been very boring if you
started at 1641 and went on from there.

You've included less well-known writers.

Yes, Hugh Shearman was one, or Denis O'D Hanna, who was
among the earliest people to point out the architectural
riches in Northern Ireland. Not that it did much good. So
many have vanished. He was followed by Sir Charles Brett,
who wrote Buildings of Belfast (conservation is a subject
I'm very interested in).

Tell me more about your interest in conservation.

I am appalled by the things in Belfast that have been
destroyed. You shouldn't be allowed to destroy anything
that is more than 100 years old. I am not opposed to modern
architecture or amenities or a certain quality of living,
but I do think this should go hand in hand with
conservation. That's why I support the Ulster Architectural
Heritage Society.

Your book covers the nine counties of Ulster.

I took the historical province of Ulster rather than the
political entity. It isn't a political gesture, it's a nod
in the direction of inclusiveness. The other three counties
are a part of Ulster and of a shared history. It will annoy
a number of people, but it seems to me to be the obvious
title for this anthology.

Northern Ireland Anthology doesn't have the correct ring to
it. I do try to be even handed. I put in Gerry Adams; I
can't remember just now who I put in on the other side.

None of your chapters is devoted to the theme of love.

Love is mentioned quite a lot, but it didn't suggest itself
to me as a special theme. With anthologies it is an
absolutely personal selection.

There are fixed ideas and obsessions that go into it.

There is a chapter called I Give You Fuchsia Hedges and
Whitewashed Walls which looks at the more lyrical side of
rural life. Another is about the oddities of names in
Ulster which aren't anywhere else.

What's the last chapter, Ulster Imagined, about?

It is a phrase from Patrick Kavanagh and contains what seem
to be among the most vivid, resonant, highly charged poetry
and prose to present a summing up of the whole enterprise.
The pieces all in some way capture the essence of the
place, however obliquely.

Have you come to any conclusions about Ulster writers?

Literature has thrived in the north in spite of everyone's
perception about the place. Also, there has been a strong
egalitarian strand in Northern Ireland writing which
confounds people's expectations because they think of it in
sectarian terms.

My main qualification for doing this is that my background
is completely Catholic on one side and completely
Protestant on the other. The further back you go the more
complicated and mixed it becomes.

That is true of Northern Ireland and life in general. It
becomes so entwined you can't really disentangle it.

One of the main reasons behind compiling the book is an
anti-sectarian one. You can't escape that tribal influence
no matter how hard you try. All you can

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