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November 06, 2006

Washington Allows Adams To Fundraise on US Visit

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 11/06/06 Washington Allows Adams To Fundraise For Sinn Féin
BN 11/06/06 Academic 'Shocked' By Collusion In Loyalist Murders'
SF 11/06/06 Report Exposes Activities Of RUC/UDR Death Squad
IT 11/07/06 RUC, British Army Linked To 74 Murders
IN 11/06/06 Dr Brady: Dissidents Could Fill Vacuum
IN 11/06/06 Durkan Urges SF Not To Be Goaded
CB 11/06/06 Massacre Families Lobby Over Loyalist 'Cover-Up'
IN 11/06/06 Last Of Roads Shut During Troubles To Be Reopened
BB 11/06/06 Loyalist Killer Loses Taxi Murder Appeal
IN 11/06/06 Shooting Blamed On Loyalist
IN 11/06/06 26 Irish Soldiers To Be Pardoned
IN 11/06/06 Attwood: We Could Learn A Lot From Bobby (RFK)
IN 11/06/06 Opin: Dr Brady In A Timely Warning
GB 11/06/06 Blog: Sloppy Journalism!
EB 11/06/06 Blog: Dirty, Filthy Collusion: Time For The Truth
IT 11/07/06 Make Irish A Gift, Not A Threat
IT 11/07/06 Plans To Protect Northern Catholics In 1974 Revealed
IM 11/06/06 Skellig Michael: The Denial Of History As State Policy
IT 11/07/06 Irish Films Nominated For Awards


Washington Allows Adams To Fundraise For Sinn Féin


Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been given permission by
the US administration to fundraise for the party in New
York this week. This follows Washington's decision not to
repeat last year's ban, writes Mark Hennessy, Political

Mr Adams will leave for New York on Wednesday for a $500-a-
head dinner in Manhattan hosted by the Friends of Sinn
Féin, which is the party's biggest fundraiser in the US.

Last year Mr Adams was forced to address the audience by a
live satellite link from Dublin following Washington's
irritation at Sinn Féin's refusal to make positive
soundings about the Police Service of Northern Ireland

The disclosure came as a Sinn Féin ard chomhairle meeting
in a Dublin airport hotel offered a qualified "yes" to the
timetable outlined in the St Andrews proposals last month
by the Irish and British governments.

The decision can be seen as gentle pressure from the Bush
administration on Mr Adams to ensure that Sinn Féin signs
up for the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland
Executive and Assembly in March.

The decision was taken by the US State Department on foot
of a recommendation from President Bush's Northern Ireland
envoy, Mitchell Reiss, although the Bush administration
said nothing officially on the matter yesterday.

However, Sinn Féin's refusal to hold an ard fheis on
policing until a date is given for the transfer of powers
over policing and justice from London to Stormont remains

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness is to meet in Dublin this
morning with Department of Foreign Affairs and Department
of the Taoiseach officials in a bid to break the logjam.

On Saturday Taoiseach Bertie Ahern attempted to play down
the scale of the problem caused by the issue. However, one
senior Sinn Féin figure told The Irish Times: "He knows how
serious this issue is. He has been told."

Last month the two governments set next Friday, November
10th, as the date by which all of the parties, but
particularly Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party
(DUP), had to offer their initial reactions to the St
Andrews package.

Although he insisted that an agreement with the DUP on the
devolution of justice and policing was the central issue
for Sinn Féin, Mr Adams offered some room for manoeuvre:
"This issue does not have to be resolved before November

Last night a British government official said they were now
equally confident that the DUP would offer an equally
conditional "yes" to the timetable offered by the

Although official circles in Dublin and London are
remaining confident that progress can be achieved, it is
far from clear how both parties can find room to move.

Sinn Féin has refused a DUP demand that Mr McGuinness
should be required to take a pledge of office, including a
commitment to support the police, as Deputy First Minister
on November 24th.

© The Irish Times


Academic 'Shocked' By Collusion In Loyalist Murders'

06/11/2006 - 15:56:11

A US academic today spoke of his shock at the extent of
apparent security force collusion in loyalist paramilitary
murders in the North.

University of Notre Dame human rights law Professor
Douglass Cassel was commenting after an international
investigation he headed uncovered considerable and credible
evidence of British Army and police collusion in 74
sectarian murders during the 1970s.

The probe of 25 loyalist atrocities, carried out by a panel
of human rights experts from around the world, found senior
Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were aware and
approved of collusion while officials in London had enough
information to intervene.

The panel’s report also called on the British government to
appoint an independent inquiry to examine how high up the
chain of command collusion went.

Professor Cassel told PA at the Belfast presentation of the
report: “Personally I was shocked.

“The British government has a reputation around the world
as one of the leading democracies and one of the longest
histories of the rule of law.

“To find this extent of collusion in murders in the 25
incidents we investigated was shocking.”

The panel was asked by the Derry-based human rights
organisation the Pat Finucane Centre to investigate
allegations of collusion in 25 loyalist attacks from
October 1972 to February 1977 – most of which are linked to
a loyalist gang known as the Glenanne group.

Among the incidents they investigated were the May 1974
Dublin Monaghan bombings which claimed 33 lives, the Miami
Showband massacre in July 1975 during which three musicians
and two members of the Ulster Volunteer Force gang died and
the shooting of Catholic policeman Sergeant Joe Campbell in
February 1977.

In only one case, the group was unable to reach a verdict
on collusion because of conflicting accounts – the murder
of 51-year-old driver James Marks and 78-year-old passenger
Joseph Toland in a gun attack in Gilford, Co Armagh, on a
minibus returning from bingo.

The panel also met members of three organisations
representing republican victims of violence – Families
Acting for Innocent Relatives, SAVER/NAVER, both in
Markethill, Co Armagh, and the WAVE Trauma Centre in
Belfast which caters for the victims of loyalist violence

Among the stories they heard were the murder of a woman in
an acid and petrol bomb attack on a bus in Armagh in 1972,
the shooting of a man pulled from a digger in Mullaghbawn
as he cleaned drains on his farm, the killing of three UDR
men when a lorry carrying a 1,000lb bomb rolled into their
barracks at Glenanne in 1991 and a South Armagh farmer’s
account of the intimidation of Protestants who were driven
from their land.

They also heard allegations by at least one former RUC man
that An Garda Siochána was not co-operative in bringing to
justice IRA fugitives who fled across the border.

While the panel’s remit was to probe collusion in loyalist
killings, Professor Cassel confirmed today: “There are some
allegations we received of alleged failure of the Garda or
the Irish authorities to properly co-operate with law
enforcement in cases of violence against loyalists here in
Northern Ireland.

“We will certainly be raising that with the Irish

The report called for:

:: Investigations by an independent team into allegations of
collusion in murders and attempted murders by loyalists,
capable of identifying those involved, examining how high
up the chain of command it went and focusing not just on
RUC and UDR involvement but also British Army and
intelligence agencies;

:: Investigations into murders carried out by republican

:: Full co-operation by paramilitary groups on both sides with
credible official investigations into collusion;

:: The publishing of the findings of all investigations,
including those by the Historical Enquiries Team which
currently plans only to share its findings with victims’

:: The state to acknowledge publicly its responsibility in
sectarian killings where collusion is established, and

:: Public apologies from senior officials to the families of
victims of collusion.

:: The international panel welcomed reforms introduced by the
British government to investigate controversial murders,
but they claimed they were still insufficient for getting
to the heart of collusion cases.

The North’s police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan, they said, did
not have the powers to investigate collusion involving
members of the UDR.

The £30m (€44.75m) Historical Enquiries Team (HET), set up
by Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable Hugh
Orde, also fell short of international standards for

Professor Cassel revealed the investigation did not receive
police documents which could have assisted the probe
despite coming away from a June 2004 meeting with Northern
Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde, believing they would
receive key documents.

Mr Orde, he said, informed them two months later instead
that the documentation was being given to the HET’s
predecessor, the Serious Crime Review Team.

He said the drawback of the HET’s investigation was that
the HET was police-based and therefore when witnesses or
perpetrators died off, areas of investigation were also
closed down.

“The Historical Enquiries Team has been set up to examine
all of the 3268 deaths which occurred as a result of the
security situation in Northern Ireland between 1969 and
1998,” he said.

“To date it has engaged with over 200 families and are
dealing with in excess of 750 questions which those
families have asked it to answer in the course of
investigations. Every case will be looked at thoroughly,
impartially and professionally and where there are grounds
for further investigation and prosecution appropriate
action will be taken.

“I have said from the very beginning that the Historical
Enquiries Team is only one part of the solution to the
difficult and sensitive issues around Northern Ireland's
recent history. I believe that a wider debate has to happen
and a wider process is needed, however so far this team is
the only piece of concrete work that is ongoing in relation
to these issues and whilst I do not say it is the answer to
every question it offers real answers to many, many,
families who are deciding to engage with it.

“This particular panel did not meet with or consult
directly with the Historical Enquiries Team, I would invite
them to come and see for themselves how the investigations
and work with the families are progressing.”

Professor Cassel called on the British government to
establish an independent investigation that was
sufficiently broad to investigate the depth, strength and
extent of collusion across the security forces.

He confirmed the panel would press for meetings with the
British government at all levels to ensure the allegations
they uncovered were taken seriously.

He also confirmed they had requested a meeting with the
Irish government tomorrow after the report is presented in

The panel would also request a meeting with the Westminster
Joint Committee on Human Rights and would present the
Council of Europe with a copy of the report.

Alan Brecknell, whose 32-year-old father Trevor was one of
three people killed in a loyalist gun attack on Donnelly's
Bar in Silverbridge Co Armagh in December 1975, welcomed
the report.

“What is certainly important for our family is the
acknowledgement from people of the standing of Douglass,
Susie Kemp, Stephen Sawyer and Piers Pigou - people with a
human rights background in South Africa, Guatemela, Sierra
Leone, El Salvador – that they were able to take time out
and come to listen to the families’ stories in a humane,
sympathetic way,” he said at the launch.

“This report is a pressure point. It’s someone else saying
the British government really has questions to answer and
should answer these questions.

“It is also heartening to hear Douglass saying he’s going
to the European Council of Ministers with this. That is a
big thing for me to hear, to learn that there is not just
going to be press launches of this report today and

“It’s good to know that while we will be pushing for the
truth from here, they will be pushing for it as well.”

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy, who attended the presentation,
said the report lifted the lid on security force
involvement in the attacks, producing irrefutable evidence.

“For many years Sinn Féin was a lone voice in exposing
British state collusion with unionist paramilitaries,” the
Newry and Armagh MP said.

“We were vilified by the political and media establishment
who dismissed claims of collusion as ’republican

“We have now been vindicated and will continue to stand
with the families of those killed by the British state in
their search for the truth.

“The British state is going to have to face up to its role
in the systematic murder of more than 1,100 nationalists
and republicans both directly and through their surrogates
in the various unionist death squads.”


Report Exposes Activities Of RUC/UDR Death Squad

Published: 6 November, 2006

Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy today
attended the launch of a report compiled by a panel of
international legal experts into the involvement of members
of the UDR and RUC in the murder of 76 people. The murder
gang was based at the UDR base at Glennane in South Armagh.

Mr Murphy said:

"Nationalists and republicans in South Armagh know only too
well the legacy of the UDR/RUC unionist murder gang which
operated from the Glennane base. This report lifts the lid
on their involvement in over 70 sectarian murders and
exposes the fact that senior figures in the RUC were fully
aware of the killings and the role of their colleagues in
them. The evidence is simply irrefutable.

"For many years Sinn Féin was a lone voice in exposing
British State collusion with unionist paramilitaries. We
were vilified by the political and media establishment who
dismissed claims of collusion as 'republican propaganda'.
We have now been vindicated and will continue to stand with
the families of those killed by the British State in their
search for the truth.

"The British State is going to have to face up to its role
in the systematic murder of over 1100 nationalists and
republicans both directly and through their surrogates in
the various unionist death squads." ENDS


RUC, British Army Linked To 74 Murders

Human rights group finds 'compelling evidence' of collusion
in loyalist killings during 1970s

Gerry Moriarty,
Northern Editor

There is evidence of RUC and British army collusion in 74
murders by loyalists that occurred over a five-year period
during the 1970s, an international human rights group has

The international panel examined 25 cases of suspected
loyalist paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland between
1972 and 1977, in which 76 people were murdered and found
in 24 cases involving 74 killings, there was evidence of
RUC and Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) collusion.

Cases investigated by the group at the request of the Pat
Finucane Centre in Derry included the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan
bombings, the 1975 murders of members of the Miami
Showband, the murders of members of the O'Dowd and Reavey
families in 1976, the 1977 murder of RUC officer Sergeant
Joe Campbell in Ballycastle, Co Antrim and an attack on the
Rock Bar in Keady, Co Armagh in 1976.

The panel found there was "compelling evidence that
officers of the British state - in particular RUC officers,
UDR soldiers and their agents - were involved in sectarian
murders of Catholics".

"There is credible evidence that their activities were
known and supported, tacitly and in some cases explicitly,
by some of their RUC and UDR superiors and, to some extent,
by some British intelligence and army officers," it added.

"Despite this knowledge, appropriate criminal
investigations and prosecutions of these murders were not
conducted, even in the face of evidence amounting to
probably cause for arrest," it said.

The panel published its 109-page report into the killings
in Belfast yesterday and will also release the document in
Dublin today. Its members are: Prof Douglass Cassel of the
Notre Dame Law School in the US; Susie Kemp, an
international lawyer based in The Hague; Piers Pigou, who
was an investigator for the South African Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, and US lawyer and academic
Stephen Sawyer. Prof Cassel said as early as 1973 in the
case of the UDR and 1975 in the case of the RUC there was
evidence that some senior police and British army officers
were "aware, tolerant of, or encouraging of" acts of
sectarian violence by the army and police in Northern

The panel paid particular attention to a sworn affidavit of
former RUC sergeant John Weir who, with the late Billy
McCaughey, was convicted of the 1977 murder of Catholic
shopkeeper William Strathearn in Antrim. Both men were
serving RUC officers at the time of the killing. The panel
said it primarily based its claims on what it described as
"three mutually corroborating and cumulatively compelling
sources of evidence" which were: the sworn affidavit of Sgt
Weir's alleging security force collusion in numerous
murders at that period; detailed ballistics evidence; and
"the failure of Northern Ireland authorities properly to
investigate the multiple crimes disclosed by the 1978
confessions" of Sgt Weir and McCaughey.

The panel members added that documentary, testimonial and
ballistics evidence suggested that loyalist paramilitaries
who allegedly colluded with the security forces "gained
much of their arms and ammunition, as well as training,
information and personnel, from the RUC and UDR".

The panel called on the British government to investigate
the allegations using independent investigators and to
allow an inquiry team unrestricted access to all relevant
information about the killings, including information held
by MI5 and MI6. Prof Cassel said the British government
should apologise to the families of those who were

© The Irish Times


Dr Brady: Dissidents Could Fill Vacuum

By William Scholes Religious Affairs Correspondent

THE leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland warns today
that if devolution is not restored the
“vacuum” will be filled by dissidents and politics in the
north will be damaged.

Interviewed on the 10th anniversary of his installation as
Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Sean Brady, pictured, calls on
Sinn Fein to support the PSNI and for the north-south
bodies established under the Good Friday Agreement to be
implemented in full.

With the north’s education system facing huge upheaval, Dr
Brady says the Church is working hard to maintain the
religious ethos of its schools.

He also speaks of the continuing challenge of rebuilding
trust in the Church in the wake of the
clerical child abuse scandals.

Dr Brady says he hopes Pope Benedict XVI will accept his
invitation to visit Ireland, particularly the north, and
that the trip will be welcomed by everyone.

He describes his meeting with DUP leader Ian Paisley as
“symbolic” and an important model for dialogue between all
sections of the community.

Reflecting on the peace process over the past 10 years, Dr
Brady says there have been “immense positive developments”
as well as “hiccups” including the collapse of devolution.

He says attempts to revive power sharing, such as the St
Andrews talks, show that “we are on course for a final

“It is important that devolution is made to work because it
does away with the impression that there is a political
vacuum,” Dr Brady says.

“If that were
to take hold it would certainly be very dangerous and an
in-centive to dissidents who would be able to ask what has
come out of the Belfast Agreement.

“The politicians need to work at making a solid basis for
devolved government and the north-south bodies need to come
back too – that’s part of what we voted for.”

Dr Brady says that for assembly members to be paid for a
job but “in the eyes of the public not doing it” is “not a
good situation”.

He says Sinn Fein needs to “sign up to policing”, otherwise
the “DUP won’t be in government”.

“People need to be reassured that those in government are
supportive of policing but on the oth-er hand they need to
have all the powers necessary for transparent, responsible
government,” Dr Brady says.

Dr Brady says trustees of Cath-olic schools have spent a
lot of time “keeping and maintaining” their religious
character and are striving to guarantee it.

“There is a spiritual dimension to each one of us so people
have a right to be educated in the faith of their parents,”
he says.


Durkan Urges SF Not To Be Goaded

By Staff Reporter

THE DUP is attempting to “trap” Sinn Fein into saying no to
policing, SDLP leader Mark Durkan claimed last night.

The Foyle MP said that by “ruling out the devolution of
justice for a political lifetime” last week, the DUP was
“trying to goad Sinn Fein”.

“Sinn Fein must not fall into that trap,” Mr Durkan said.

“Sinn Fein should get on board for policing because
nationalist communities are crying out for better policing
and protection against
crime and it’s only with everybody working together in
partnership that we can fight crime best”.

Sinn Fein could not continue to discourage people “to go to
the police who may have information about crimes like the
rape of a teenage girl”, he said.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey said
Sinn Fein’s support for policing was central to the
restoration of devolution.

“Following the hype at St Andrews we were all brought back
to earth after
only 72 hours following our return when the DUP apparently
discovered that Sinn Fein would not be signing up to
policing on November 24,” he said.

Sir Reg said the war of words over policing and justice
between the DUP and Sinn Fein served only “to underscore
what many believe, namely that the DUP and Sinn Fein are
incapable of working together”.


Massacre Families Lobby Over 'Cover-Up'

Published on 07/11/2006

The families of six men gunned down by loyalists 12 years
ago as they watched a World Cup match in a bar are to lobby
MPs to investigate claims of security force collusion

Relatives of the six victims of the June 1994 Loughinisland
massacre in Co Down will join Sinn Fein Assembly member
Caitriona Ruane at Westminster, to urge a cross-party
delegation of MPs to advance their case.

The delegation will meet Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary
David Liddington, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat
Northern Ireland spokesperson Lembit Opik and members of
the Northern Ireland Select Committee.

In advance of the visit, Ms Ruane said the families had
waited patiently for justice for 12 years.

"As the years have gone on, the families have began to
raise serious questions about the murders and specifically
the subsequent investigation into it," the South Down MLA

"Tomorrow's meetings will provide an opportunity for the
families to put their case onto the British political

"Sinn Fein will continue to support the families of those
murdered at Loughinisland in their campaign for the truth
about what happened on that night 12 years ago.

"The British Government need to realise that issue will not
go away."

The visit will coincide with the Dublin launch of an
independent panel's investigation into alleged police and
Army collusion in 25 atrocities carried out by loyalists
during the 1970s.

Martin Mawhinney


Last Of Roads Shut During Troubles To Be Reopened

By Suzanne McGonagle

The Irish government last night said it hoped the last of
the border roads closed during the Troub-les would reopen

A spokesman said that following talks with the British
government, it was anticipated that two roads on the
Monaghan/Tyrone border would be reopened shortly.

The confirmation came after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made the
announcement during a speech at a Fianna Fail rally on

The British and Irish governments last night said only two
roads remained closed along the Monaghan/Tyrone border.

One is at the bridge at Knock-aginny Wood, about four miles
from Caledon on the main road to Aughnacloy, and the other
is at Annaghroe, close to Caledon.

However, a Sinn Fein councillor last night said he believed
some small routes in Co Fermanagh also remained shut.

Scores of roads were closed in the 1970s, mainly in
counties Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone.

The British army and the RUC also erected security barriers
in many cities and towns across the north.

However, around 102 cross-border roads were reopened in

In recent years campaigners opposed to the closure of the
last two roads have lobbied the governments to get the
routes reopened.

They claimed people were forced to endure detours around
the closed roads, especially farmers who owned land
straddling the border.

Last night a spokesman for the Irish Department of Foreign
Affairs said it was hoped the road would be open again

“There are two small roads still closed on the
Monaghan/Tyrone border in the village of Caledon,” he said.

“They are closed at the moment but it is hoped they will be
opened soon following discussions between the Irish and
British governments.”

A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Office added: “The
secretary of state is aware that the road at Annaghroe and
the Bridge at Knocknaginny Wood in Co Tyrone remain closed.

“The reopening of roads is part of a normalisation
programme and both governments are committed to reopening

However, a Sinn Fein councillor in Co Fermanagh, Thomas
O’Reilly, said he believed a number of “very small roads”
remain closed in the county.

“There are a couple of very small roads that remain closed
just outside Rosslea,” he said.

“At this juncture there should be no roads left closed.

“Certainly for the freedom of movement for all, these roads
should allow people access everywhere.”


Loyalist Killer Loses Taxi Murder Appeal

The Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction of a loyalist
who murdered Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick during
the Drumcree dispute in 1996.

Clifford McKeown, 47, was sentenced to 24 years in jail in
2003 after he boasted of the murder to a freelance

His lawyers claimed the journalist, Nick Martin-Clark, had
invented the confession for financial gain.

However, Lord Chief Justice Kerr said such a suggestion was

The body of Mr McGoldrick, who was 31, was found in his cab
in a country lane at Aghagallon, several miles from Lurgan,
County Armagh, a day after he had picked up a fare in the

He had been shot five times in the head.

After being convicted of the murder in March 2003, McKeown
launched an appeal against his sentence on the grounds the
trial judge should have excluded the evidence of Mr Martin-

During the appeal, McKeown's lawyers claimed that specific
details about the killing related to the journalist were
widely known as the murder was "notorious".

However, Lord Chief Justice Kerr said both he and his
colleagues Lord Justice Sheil and Mr Justice Deeny were
"satisfied" the 24-year sentence was safe.

He told the Court of Appeal: "During the third interview
with Mr Martin-Clark, Mr McKeown boasted that he had killed
Mr McGoldrick.

"During the fifth interview he provided details of the
events leading up to and surrounding the killing.

"While the confession contained information that was in the
public domain, we are satisfied that fact does not render
the confession less likely to be true or unreliable."

He said the any financial gain Mr Martion-Clark would have
gained from inventing the confession "was of little
consequence when pitted against the enormous disruption to
his life that has occurred as a result of his giving

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/06 16:20:57 GMT


Shooting Blamed On Loyalist

By Claire Simpson

Police are investigating a sectarian motive for a gun
attack on a group of young Catholic men in Coleraine, Co

A gunman approached a group of youths in the Somerset Drive
area of the town at around 9.30pm on Friday and fired a
shot at one.

He aimed the gun at other youths but fled in the direction
of St John’s Church after the gun failed to fire. No-one
was injured.

A police spokesman confirmed that officers were still
searching for the gunman but would not confirm whether a
shell casing or strike mark had been found.

Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard spoke to two of the
young men’s families.

“People in the locality are very confident it was a
loyalist,” he said.

“Loyalist activity in the Coleraine area has been greater
than in many other areas.

“They have operated under their own rules for years.

“Although it is hard to piece together what the exact
motivation was, it is bound to be very worrying for both
the immediate Somerset Drive and then the larger Coleraine

SDLP assembly member John Dallat said it was clear
loyalists were still involved in sectarian attacks.

“I have no doubt that this was carried out by the same
loyalist lot who need to be rounded up and their guns
collected, given the ‘warlords’ have announced that there
will be no decommissioning,” he said.

“There can be no place in the north where loyalists are
permitted to carry on their gun-toting activities and it
would be useful if the DUP did as much screaming about
these kinds of incidents as they do about other issues
which they are using to prevent a power-sharing assembly.

“For as long as they hold up political progress they are
creating a vacuum for the UDA and other loyalist thugs to
continue acting as self-appointed mandarins and their


26 Irish Soldiers To Be Pardoned

By Claire Simpson

More than 90 years after the start of the First World War,
26 Irish soldiers shot for alleged cowardice or desertion
will be officially pardoned by the British government.

The legislation, expected to be announced this week, is the
culmination of a lengthy campaign by the ‘Shot at Dawn’
group who lobbied to clear the men’s military records.

The soldiers were shot at dawn for a number of offences
including refusing to go ‘over the top’ to face enemy fire.

The Irish minister for foreign affairs, Dermot Ahern, said
he hoped the legislation would help bring some comfort to
the men’s families.

In 2004 the Irish government published a report on the
cases of each of the 26 soldiers.

It found serious flaws within the military system of
justice, which was heavily biased against working-class

In 1998 a study by historian Dr Gerard Oram found that
although Irish soldiers made up only two per cent of the
British and Empire army, eight per cent of those executed
by British court-martial during the First World War were

Of the 306 soldiers shot, 10 of them came from northern
counties in Ireland. Among them were Peter Sands (27), from
the Falls Road in Belfast, and 18-year-old James Crozier
from the nearby Shankill Road.


Attwood: We Could Learn A Lot From Bobby

By Marie Louise McCrory

A west Belfast politician has urged people to see a new
film based on the final hours in the life of US Senator
Robert F Kennedy – believing it could help nationalists and
unionists work more closely together.

SDLP assembly member Alex Attwood describes Robert ‘Bobby’
Kennedy, who was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968, as
“the biggest political influence on my life’’ and someone
he has “huge respect for’’.

The new film Bobby, which is due for release in Ireland in
the new year, centres on the final day in his life – in the
hours before he was shot shortly after delivering a speech
celebrating a major victory in his drive toward the
Democratic Party presidential nomination.

The movie is directed by Emilio Estevez and boasts an A-
list line-up of actors including Anthony Hopkins, Sharon
Stone, Demi Moore, Christian Slater and Estevez’s father
Martin Sheen.

However, Robert Kennedy himself does not appear on film and
Bobby instead tells its story through the eyes of 22
‘ordinary’ people who were at the Ambassador Hotel in LA
when he was shot.

Bobby Kennedy was one of two younger brothers of former
President John F Kennedy and served as United States
Attorney General from 1961 to 1964.

One of JFK’s most trusted advisers, his greatest legacy is
considered to be his contribution to the African-American
civil rights movement and the creation of a coalition on
human rights and social issues.

After his brother’s assassination in late 1963, Robert
Kennedy continued as attorney general under President
Johnson for nine months.

He resigned in September 1964 and was elected to the US
Senate from New York that November.

Bobby Kennedy was assassinated shortly after delivering a
speech celebrating victory in the 1968 Democratic
presidential ‘primary’ election for California.

He had addressed his supporters in the early morning of
June 5 in a hotel ballroom and left through a service area
to greet supporters working in the kitchen.

In a crowded kitchen passageway, Sirhan B Sirhan, a 24-
year-old Palestinian, fired from a .22 caliber revolver
directly into the crowd surrounding Kennedy.

Six people were wounded, including Kennedy, who was shot in
the head at close range.

He remained conscious for about 20 minutes but died in
hospital aged 42.

Mr Attwood last night said the film is full of people who
admired Mr Kennedy.

“The film is done by the Sheen family. Martin Sheen is a
great admirer of Robert Kennedy and after he died, the
Sheen family established a memorial which gives money to
human rights works and labour work and journalistic work
around the world,’’ Mr Attwood said.

“They have wanted a movie for a long time and eventually
they got the funding for it. Their son, Emilio Estevez, has
directed it. A lot of the stars wanted to play roles in the

Mr Attwood said Robert Kennedy experienced a change in his
political direction in the years before his death, coming
to “represent the ordinary people’’.

“He is the biggest political influence on my life,’’ he

“I have a huge respect for him.

“He was ruthless and tough, he was very right-wing. He
[then] changed, especially in the last five years. After
his brother died, he came into his own politics.

“He identified with the underclasses. He created a white
and black coalition.

“The story is not just about the movie. It is about trying
to develop a very deep understanding of the man.”

Mr Attwood said he also believes that what Mr Kennedy
represented is relevant to areas of life in Northern

“Robert Kennedy was in a constant state of growth,’’ he

“For the last eight or nine years, his politics were
morally driven. He was left of centre. If he could change
so much, there is potential for people here to grow.

“Here nationalists and unionists are polar. Bobby Kennedy
brought white and black poor, who would normally be most
hostile to each other, to end up believing in the same

“I want people to see it and to probe into what he


Opin: Dr Brady In A Timely Warning

ARCHBISHOP Sean Brady today warns that failure to restore
devolution could create a political vacuum and that
dissident extremists would take en-couragement from that

Dr Brady’s warning, when viewed in the context of the
recent firebomb attacks by extreme republican groups, can
hardly be described as exaggerated.

Those attacks prove that these groupings are determined to
halt political progress using any means they have at their

At the moment those means are fairly basic incendiary
devices but capable none-theless of causing significant
damage and putting many people out of work.

Failure to reach political agreement means groups like the
CIRA and RIRA are having the groundwork done for them by
the politicians who oppose everything these groups stand

The ‘stick’ of joint authority between the governments over
Northern Ireland has so far failed to bring that final
agreement, no matter how tantalisingly close it sometimes
appears to be.

A lot of focus has been concentrated on that plan B but
without consideration of what the other implications of
failure to return devolved government might be.

Anyone who believes that we are far enough removed from the
days of armed campaigns for there not to be a danger of a
return to violence need only look at the charred remains of
B&Q and Homebase premises to know how fragile a thing peace
can be.

Our politicians should be doing all in their power to make
the dissidents irrelevant.

Demonstrating that they can reach agreement and can share
power would be the most powerful weapon at their disposal.


Blog: Sloppy Journalism!

Jesus, the standard of journalism in this country really
isn't up to much. Take todays statement from Sinn Féin
regarding the St Andrews agreement.

According to Breaking News

"Sinn Féin members approve St Andrews Agreement"

Was there an Ard Fheis and someone forget to tell me?

"Sinn Féin was mandated by its members today to fully
support the St Andrews Agreement"

What utter crap! Only an Ard Fheis can mandate the

If they had bothered to read the statement they would see
that we are a long way from being able to support the St
Andrews agreement in full.

Here is the full text of motion passed by Sinn Féin Ard
Chomhairle, I have highlighted the important bits.

“The Ard Chomhairle notes the report on its consultation
process and onrecent discussions between the party
negotiation team and the two governments.This includes the
concerns raised, the progress made and the work still

We believe that the process set out at St. Andrews has the
potential to deliver the full implementation of the Good
Friday Agreement and to bring about the restoration of the
power-sharing and all-Ireland political institutions.

However, there are elements in the document set out by the
two governments,which require further work to keep them in
line with the Good FridayAgreement.

There are ongoing negotiations in relation to a number of
core issues which have yet to be resolved.

Subject to delivery of these issues the commitments set out
in the governments’ St. Andrews statement could represent a
way forward.

The Ard Chomhairle mandates the party President and
national Officer Board to pursue all of this and to report
back to the Ard Chomhairle.

We reiterate our view that the issue of policing and
justice is a matter for the two governments and all the
political parties. Issues to be agreed include a timeframe
for the transfer of powers and a model for the department
on policing and justice.

Sinn Fein is committed to bring an end to decades of
repressive and sectarian policing.We reject any role for
MI5 in Ireland or in civic policing.

We want to see democratically accountable civic policing
and we will continue to work until we achieve this. “

I would agree with the statement from the Ard Chomhairle
and to paraphrase another political party.

A lot done, more to do!


Blog: Dirty, Filthy Collusion: Time For The Truth

The truth about the extent of collusion during the Troubles
continues to reveal itself- a week after it became public
that Nuala O’Loan had uncovered evidence that the RUC and
the Catholic Church helped a Provisional IRA priest/bomber
escape the law, an investigation by a group of
international academics has found shocking (but
unsurprising) evidence of RUC and British Army collusion in
74 sectarian murders.

The group, which includes American law lecturer Douglass
Cassel and a member of the South African Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, found evidence of collusion in a
number of high profile loyalist murders, including:

- the slaughter of 33 people in UVF bomb attacks in Dublin
and Monaghan in May 1974,

- the assassinations of Barry O’Dowd, his 19-year-old
brother Declan and his 61-year-old uncle Joe (members of
the SDLP) in the same weekend as the loyalist killings of
24-year-old John Reavey, his 22-year-old brother Brian and
17-year-old brother Anthony in January 1976, and

- the murders of three members of the Miami Showband- lead
singer Fran O'Toole, Anthony Geraghty and Brian McCoy,
after a UVF gang posing as a UDR patrol flagged-down their
bus between Banbridge and Newry in July 1975.

The inquiry also heard about alleged Garda collusion to
protect IRA activists.

Professor Cassel said: "There are some allegations we
received of alleged failure of the Garda or the Irish
authorities to properly co-operate with law enforcement in
cases of violence against loyalists here in Northern

"We will certainly be raising that with the Irish

The group has called for investigations into the now
apparent RUC/Loyalist Garda/Republican cases of collusion.

As I have said before on El Blogador, the only ones who
have something to worry about if the truth comes out are
those who have something to hide. All victims of the
Troubles, or their surviving families, deserve to know the
full story behind the violence which touched their lives.
The security forces, regardless of what side of the border
they operated on, had a duty to protect- if anything, they
must be held to an even higher level of accountability
compared to ‘ordinary’ terrorists.

The truth hurts, but it is only through its revelation that
healing can properly take place. []

posted by El Matador at 12:03 AM


Make Irish A Gift, Not A Threat


Forty years ago, in the dark days of literary censorship,
the musician Ronnie Drew came up with a good idea. He
suggested that all the masterpieces of literature, then
banned by the censors, should be translated into Irish and
sold to the public in cheap, government-subsidised
editions, writes Declan Kiberd.

"This," he wickedly proclaimed, "would provide the Irish
people with the greatest possible incentive to learn their
own language."

He was joking (I think), but schemes no less fantastic had
been tried by successive governments in the attempt to
promote Irish. Students taking public examinations could
earn bonus points just by writing their algebra equations
in Gaelic rather than English lettering. If you were a
mathematical genius, as well as a dab hand at the cló
Gaelach, you might score 110 per cent on a paper, a feat
undreamed of by Albert Einstein (but well within the mental
capacities of an Éamon de Valera).

Far from advancing the cause of the language, such policies
brought it into disrepute with those who found them
characteristic of "the land that lost the leprechaun but
found the pot of gold".

Few of the policies for promoting Irish had much success.
Last week a report showed that more and more students are
opting out of its study in our school system. Of the
majority which does take it, few emerge after 13 years of
classes able to hold a conversation in the language.
Minister for Education Mary Hanafin believes that, far from
holding ever more examinations at various levels of
competence, the State should find ways of making Irish more
attractive to young people and of developing their
abilities in the spoken language.

The decline is not just in Irish. Numbers taking French,
German and Italian are in free fall too. So is the
understanding of the rules of grammar. Mastery of the
complex protocols of a second or third language seems just
too arduous a challenge for many of the PlayStation

In earlier generations, the ruralist emphasis of the school
syllabus was blamed for poor progress at Irish. The
reminiscences of Peig Sayers, a weathered old Kerrywoman,
were felt to have little relevance to kids who walked home
from school through streets filled with dope-dealers and
glue-sniffers. As far back as the 1960s, the great writer
Máirtín Ó Cadhain lamented the fact that the bulk of
writing in the modern language seemed to have been designed
"for an audience of credulous schoolchildren and pre-
conciliar nuns".

Irish became fatally associated with pious puritans and
trouble at school. Worse still, it came to be seen by many
not as a truly national language, but as the careerist
qualification of an affluent state class.

Now, even that grim cachet is gone, as the Irish
bourgeoisie finds other measures of its own superiority, as
well removed from the zones of culture or the arts.
Contemporary Irish writing is brilliant and the syllabus
texts bang up-to-date, but it all seems to make no

The speed and rigour with which people mastered English in
the 19th century contrasts utterly with their failure to
remaster Irish in the 20th, despite massive support from
the State. The reasons cited in history books for the loss
of Irish in the 19th century - the toll taken by the
Famine, the example of Daniel O'Connell and the effect of
using English in the national schools - do not include the
most potent factor of all: Irish declined only when large
numbers decided no longer to use it.

The truth is glossed over lest it shed light on the current
situation - Irish people can still decide whether or not to
speak their own language.

Even as sections of the middle class abandon Irish,
communities in less advantaged areas have set up thriving
Gaelscoileanna. And TG4 has helped modernise usage, while
encouraging thousands to maintain "passive" competence.
Most people, when polled, regard the language as essential
to identity, but few are optimistic about its survival.
Many, for this very reason, support the idea that it should
be mandatory in schools.

That seems a self-contradictory, even crazy, position. Four
generations of parents, since the foundation of the State,
have in effect said "as for learning Irish, our children
will do it for us". But we can't keep off-loading that
responsibility on to schools. Saving a language is a lot
more than a teacher's job.

If kids themselves were polled - something that is in fact
illegal - 80 per cent might not want to do Irish at all.
But maybe it would be better if they had that choice.
Perhaps the remaining 20 per cent, who studied the language
for love, might make the sort of commitment to it that
could prove of wider value to the community. The Irish
might be seen as a gift rather than a threat by the next

© The Irish Times


Plans To Protect Northern Catholics In 1974 Revealed

Gerry Moriarty

The Government co-operated with the Catholic Church in 1974
in preparing a doomsday plan to protect Catholics in
Northern Ireland from loyalist attacks.

The plan was devised in the event of the British government
being "unable or unwilling" to safeguard Northern
nationalists, according to "secret" Department of Foreign
Affairs papers published today.

The current edition of Magill magazine has obtained the
confidential Department of Foreign Affairs papers detailing
the plan, its editor Eamon Delaney said yesterday.

It was devised in the wake of the Ulster Workers Council
(UWC) strike of May 1974, which forced the collapse of the
Sunningdale power-sharing government, the magazine

Mr Delaney said the papers were secret and had not been
released previously under the 30-year rule freeing up State
papers. The Department of Foreign Affairs said it could not
comment until it saw the full report in the magazine.

The 1974 plan detailed what should be done in the event of
another situation similar to the UWC strike in which,
through "discriminatory measures", Catholics were denied
essential food supplies or faced pogroms by loyalists, or
in the event of a "full-scale civil war".

Aside from a humanitarian motivation, the church devised
the rescue package because it wanted to avoid the IRA
"assuming the leading role in such activity and taking the
credit for so doing".

Many Catholic priests were deputed to organise parishioners
into safe areas and to stockpile food and supplies to allow
people to sustain themselves against any loyalist or other

Government officials suggested moving Catholics to
strengthen already predominant Catholic areas and make them
easier to hold. In some cases, this involved "pushing
Protestants out of areas".

Magill reported: "The plan recommended some dramatic
proposals such as that the only escape for the people in
the Ligoniel area, bounded by the loyalist Ballysillan and
Glencairn areas, 'would be to cross via the mountainside
into the west Belfast area'. Meanwhile, Catholics in the
Short Strand and the Markets areas were to move towards the
city centre and on into west Belfast. However, in areas
such as Willowfield and Castlereagh, which were 90 per cent
Protestant, there would 'simply be no hope for the
Catholics in a doomsday unless they successfully fled'."

Plans were also laid out for Derry and the predominantly
Protestant towns of Carrickfergus and Larne, where it was
envisaged Catholics might be compelled to "literally retire
to the beaches" to await rescue by boat.

In one extract, a Northern Ireland priest from the Down and
Connor relief advisory service warns that in a situation of
civil strife, he would expect that "the Catholics on the
Finaghy [ south Belfast] side of the M1 and the relief
centre would be attacked and either killed or forced to

He also expected that "Twinbrook . . . [ would] link up
with Lenadoon, Andersonstown and Ladybrook and push the
Protestants in Suffolk and Dunmurry out so as to obtain
control of all the area west of the MI".

© The Irish Times


Skellig Michael: The Denial Of History As State Policy

Kerry Environment Opinion/Analysis
Monday November 06, 2006 13:02
By Hanshiro - The Tara Foundation

The Skelligs Rocks, 8 miles off the coast of Co. Kerry,
constitute one of only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in
Ireland. However, the Office of Public Works (OPW) is
currently engaged in reconstruction work there. On the
South Peak of Skellig Michael, an altar, dating probably to
the ninth century, has been destroyed by unsupervised
workmen. In addition, there has been extensive rebuilding
carried out on the main complex, which has led to
considerable damage to the original structures. The work
has proceeded without an Environmental Impact Assessment;
while the Department of the Environment and OPW have argued
that, because the Skelligs are a national monument (thus
covered by the National Monuments Act 2004) and because the
current work is part of an ongoing programme of
conservation dating back to the 1980’s, neither an EIA nor
planning permission is necessary.

According to UNESCO guidelines, a Management Plan for each
World Heritage Site must be submitted, and made available
in published form, to direct the management of the site and
any preservation work deemed to be necessary. A “management
strategy” was submitted to UNESCO at the time the Skelligs
were inscribed on the World Heritage List, and despite a
statement by the OPW/Department of Environment management
team that a “Management Plan” was approved by UNESCO in
2002, in fact no such plan exists as yet. The management
team also failed to inform UNESCO of the rebuilding work on
the Skelligs before it was commenced, even though UNESCO
guidelines state specifically that “specific reports and
impact studies” must be submitted “each time exceptional
circumstances occur or work is undertaken which may have an
effect on the state of conservation of the property.

In addition to being a WHS, the Skellings is a Sanctuary
Preservation Area and a Bird Sanctuary, and as such any
work carried out there without an Environmental Impact
Assessment contravenes the EU Habitats Directive. No
explanation has so far been forthcoming from the OPW on how
it managed to secure a dispensation from the Directive.

ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) have
issued a series of charters intended to serve as a guide
for restoration work. The “Nara Document on Authenticity”
from 1994 states: “Conservation of cultural heritage in all
its forms and historical periods is rooted in the values
attributed to the heritage. Our ability to understand these
values depends, in part, on the degree to which information
sources about these values may be understood as credible or
truthful. Knowledge and understanding of these sources of
information, in relation to original and subsquent
characteristics of the cultural heritage, and their
meaning, is a requisite basis for assessing all aspects of
authenticity.” The Venice Charter (1964) is intended as a
guide to the thinking behind restoration work. It states:
“Wherever the traditional setting exists, it must be kept…
No new construction, demolition or modification which would
alter the relations of mass and colour must be allowed… The
process of restoration is a highly specialized operation…
It must stop at the point where conjecture begins, and in
this case moreover any extra work which is indispensible
must be distinct from the architectureal composition and
must bear a contemporary stamp. The restoration any case
must be preceded and followed by an archaeological and
historical study of the monument… The valid contributions
of all periods to the building of a monument must be
respected, since unity of style is not the aim of

Despite the contention of the Department of Environment
that the works being carried out are “minimal”,
photographic evidence demonstrates widespread and
systematic rebuilding of stonework in a manner completely
at variance with the previously extant remains. Examples of
the OPW’s cavalier interpretation of their international
obligations are the following: in the main monastic
complex, an altar that was in use by pilgrims up to the
1930s has been removed, on the grounds that it was “merely”
built by the nineteenth century lighthouse keepers, and a
nineteenth century wall was replaced by a new wall on the
lines of the original early Christian retaining wall. The
management team have referred to the deformation of the
upper terrace walls and their reconstruction of the walls
“on the original line of the wall being repaired”. This is
reconstruction according to a preconceived notion of how
the remains should look, not investigation of the existing
remains; in other words, anything which does not fit the
management team’s ideas of what is “early Christian” is
removed, and worse, remains are dismantled and reordered
into what the management team have decided they should look

This approach to archaeology, the idea that the accumulated
layers should be respected rather than being simply
stripped away as of no interest to reveal the “original”
layer underneath, is based on a deeply flawed and mistaken
ideology. Unfortunately, it seems to have attained to the
level of a professional craze; in Italy, numerous
masterpieces such as Michaelangelo’s Sistine ceiling and
Last Supper have been “restored” according to the notions
of art historians, with not the slightest appreciation of
the importance of preserving the essence of an artwork as a
historical fact. The layers of history cannot be stripped
back to reveal a supposedly “original” essence; the desire
to do this is a desire to deny that history has intervened
between the creation of the work and its ultimate reception
by the “restorer”, and it is also to deny that the ways in
which a work was understood and received through the
centuries has any importance to one’s own standpoint. The
consequences of this can be immediately and painfully
registered: just as the “restorers” of the Sistine ceiling
have remade it according to their own limited aesthetic and
historical perceptions, and in the process deprived it of
much of its value, the OPW have engaged in a programme of
dehistoricizing the Skelligs, thus asserting that there is
no difference between the remains they reorder and their
own understanding of them. In case there should be any
dispute as to this understanding, all evidence of the
intervening history must be cleared away, the slate wiped

This denial of history, the notion that the accumulated
layers of the past can be swiped aside to enable immediate
access to the object, achieves the very reverse of what it
professes: such an understanding reforms the object in its
own image until it sees nothing but its own reflection
there. Such an attitude can only be labelled cultural
fascism, and it is the ideology that governs the State’s
archeological and cultural policy.

Related Link:


Irish Films Nominated For Awards

Michael Dwyer Film Correspondent

Two Irish-made films figure prominently in the nominations
for the annual European Film Awards, which were announced

Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes The Barley, received five
nominations, and Neil Jordan's Breakfast On Pluto collected

Both productions are on the shortlist of six nominees for
the most prestigious award, the European film of the year.

Cillian Murphy, who is from Cork, is nominated in the
European actor of the year category for his performances in
the leading roles of both films.

Murphy was nominated for a Golden Globe award in the US
earlier this year for his portrayal of a young Irish
transvestite in Breakfast on Pluto, which is based on the
novel of the same name by Patrick McCabe.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley, which deals with the War
of Independence and was filmed entirely on location in Co
Cork last year, won the Palme d'Or for best film at the
Cannes festival in May.

It went on to become one of the most commercially
successful films released at Irish cinemas this year, with
takings in excess of €2.7 million at the box-office, and it
recently became available on DVD.

It received further nominations in the following categories
of the European Film Awards: director of the year (Ken
Loach), cinematographer of the year (Barry Ackroyd) and
screenwriter of the year (Barry Ackroyd).

Leading the field with six nominations each are Pedro
Almodovar's Spanish family drama, Volver, and Florian
Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others, dealing
with life under state surveillance in 1980s East Germany.

Michael Winterbottom's controversial drama, The Road to
Guantanamo, which centres on three British Muslims detained
for two years at Guantanamo Bay and released without
charge, received two nominations.

The European Film Awards will be presented at a ceremony in
Warsaw on December 2nd.

© The Irish Times

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