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December 29, 2006

Adams Confident of Police Outcome

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 12/29/06 Adams Confident Of Police Outcome
BT 12/29/06 Assemblyman's Questions To MI5 Chief On Ulster Role
IT 12/29/06 Nationalists 'Back PSNI'
IN 12/29/06 Sinn Fein’s Stance On Policing Since SIGNING GFA
IN 12/29/06 30 Yrs Ago: Irish Soldier Harassed In Belfast
BT 12/29/06 30 Yrs Ago: 307 Killed In Troubles' 2nd Bloodiest Yr
IN 12/29/06 30 Yrs Ago: Hunger Striker’s Death Provoked Response
IN 12/29/06 30 Yrs Ago: Ambassador’s Murder Rocked Government
IN 12/29/06 30 Yrs Ago: IRA Leadership Faced Problems
IN 12/29/06 30 Yrs Ago: Govt ‘Considered An Independent North’
IN 12/29/06 30 Yrs Ago: Proscription Of UVF Highlighted
BT 12/29/06 Another Taste Of Gallagher's Blues
HC 12/29/06 IRL: JFK Was Target Of 3 Threats In His 1963 Visit


Adams Confident Of Police Outcome

The Sinn Fein executive is due to meet in Dublin later to
discuss the issue of republican support for policing in
Northern Ireland.

Gerry Adams called the meeting of the executive to consider
his proposal for a special party conference on policing and
justice next month.

Sinn Fein support for policing would be viewed as removing
one of the main obstacles to restoring devolution.

The Sinn Fein president said he was confident of a positive

Mr Adams said that if his motion was successful, the ard
fheis (party conference) would be held in January.

"I think what I am putting forward is the right thing to
do," he said.


"I will move all I can to meet all the concerns of the
people involved, but this is me and our core leadership
saying this is the right thing to do and this is the time
to do it."

The Sinn Fein move was welcomed by Northern Ireland
Secretary Peter Hain.

"All parties, Ian Paisley's DUP included, support the
principle of policing and justice being devolved to the
incoming executive when the time is right," he said.

"The question was getting that time-frame in view and, on
the other hand, getting absolute clarity that Sinn Fein
were prepared to take what was a historic step for them, a
seismic step."

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson also welcomed Mr Adams's
statement and added that "words needed to be matched by

"We will look at that very carefully to see what its
implications are in terms of republicans calling on people
in their communities to support the police, to co-operate
with the police, to co-operate with the courts, and, if we
get that in word, then it needs to be matched by deed," he

"It's the quality of all of that that will determine how
quickly we can move."

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell urged Sinn Fein to
"seize the initiative on policing".

"People on the ground have made the decision a long time
ago that we need honest policing and we also need to
protect the public," Mr McDonnell said.

'Lost battle'

"Until Sinn Fein engage seriously and honestly in the
policing process, nationalist neighbourhoods will not have
the policing they're entitled to."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said Sinn Fein had
"lost the battle on policing".

"They have no support outside their own ranks for their
current policy," he said.

"The key to all of this is, what decision is the ard fheis
being asked to endorse? Is it a qualified decision with
power to be handed to the leadership to handle?

"It's a first step. Will it be clear-cut or will there be
further obfuscation?"

Alliance Party leader David Ford said: "There is no point
in holding the ard comhairle unless Gerry Adams is prepared
to recommend to it that a special ard fheis is held to
ensure that Sinn Fein moves forward and accepts its full
responsibility in the area of justice and policing.

"Some of us have been waiting for this since 1998. It's
long overdue but nonetheless welcome."

The British and Irish governments have named 7 March as the
date for fresh assembly elections with a new executive
expected to be up and running by 26 March.

Northern Secretary Peter Hain has announced that elections
to the assembly will be held on 7 March.

Talks aimed at restoring the assembly and its executive
have been taking place since the St Andrews Agreement
negotiations in November.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/29 10:18:11 GMT


Assemblyman's Questions To MI5 Chief On Ulster Role

[Published: Friday 29, December 2006 - 10:34]
By Claire McNeilly

A leading SDLP Assemblyman last night lambasted Government
plans to extend the future role of MI5 in the province.

Alex Attwood, MLA has voiced a range of "fundamental issues
and questions" in a letter written to the Director of MI5,
Eliza Manningham Buller, as to the organisation's future
role in Northern Ireland.

"The SDLP opposes a role for MI5 in Northern Ireland, but
the British Government still seem determined to give MI5 a
greater presence and wider role than has been the case,"
Attwood said.

"My questions are about what this greater presence will
look like. The letter to the head of MI5 is to prise open
this secret world, get the facts and reveal how damaging
the proposal to give MI5 primacy for national security
actually is."

Questions outlined in the letter include the number of MI5
employees in Northern Ireland over the last five years and
the mechanisms in place to check employees' backgrounds.

The letter also questioned how MI5 anticipated splitting
its resources in Northern Ireland between international
threat and the possible threat from loyalist and republican

"These issues are only indicative of the big, unanswered
questions around the role of MI5. These issues fuel the
proper anxieties and fears around British Government
intentions," Mr Attwood added.

c Belfast Telegraph


Nationalists 'Back PSNI'

Nationalist communities in Northern Ireland want Sinn F‚in
to move ahead and support the police, a senior Government
minister insisted today.

As Sinn F‚in president Gerry Adams launched an attempt to
persuade his party to change its policy towards the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Minister for Foreign
Affairs Demot Ahern pointed to the findings of a recent
survey in the province which showed 79 per cent of
Catholics had confidence in the police.

"We have been very much picking up that people want them to
move on policing," the minister said.

"You saw the (Northern Ireland Policing Board) survey. You
are never going to get 100 per cent (support).

"Even in the Republic, you get people here giving out about
the Garda¡. So you will never get 100 per cent.

"But, by and large, I think people accept the PSNI is a
reformed police service and probably the most oversighted
police service and will continue to be in the future.

"I think people accept now that they have to move on and
they have to try and put the past behind them as much as
possible for the betterment of the younger people coming

Mr Ahern said it was essential Sinn F‚in and the Rev Ian
Paisley's Democratic Unionists continued to move together
to advance the political process in Northern Ireland in the
coming months.

But with the Irish and British governments keeping on
standby an alternative plan should their bid to revive
power sharing by March fail, Mr Ahern moved to dispel any
unionist fears that the Government would prefer Plan B.

"Some people, to some extent, might see it preferable that
there is no devolved government in place in the North, that
from an Government point of view we would have a better
connection and a better communication with the British
government dealing over the heads, in effect, of people on
cross-border issues," he said.

"But the Taoiseach has been clear that he would far rather
deal with people who were elected politicians from both
communities, dealing with them on a one-to-one basis."

Mr Ahern insisted if the two governments had to turn to
Plan B, it should not spook unionists.

"I do not think unionists should have anything to fear from
Plan B," he said.



Sinn Fein's Stance On Policing Since SIGNING GFA


By Staff Reporter

Sept 1999: The Patten Commission (drawn up by Chris Patten,
left) recommends wholesale reform of policing in the north
- a complete change of the organisation, oath, badges and
symbols. The report also demanded 50:50 recruitment

Nov 2001: The RUC becomes the PSNI but Sinn Fein refuses to
support the renaming of the police service and other
reforms saying they have not gone far enough. The party did
not take up its seats on the new Policing Board

Sept 2002: Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he believed there
had been a shift in Sinn Fein's stance on the Northern
Ireland policing issue.

Mr Ahern described as "positive" the party's suggestion
that it might call a meeting of its ruling council to
discuss joining the Policing Board if the British
government tabled sufficient legislative changes.

The party also rejected a call from Policing Board chairman
Des Rea to take their places on the board.

Gerry Kelly said: "Sinn Fein's position remains the same in
that we will not join the policing boards until there is
effective legislation which allows for proper and effective
scrutiny of the PSNI".

November 2002: Gerry Adams said policing proposals
following Weston Park were "not enough" to bring
republicans onto the Policing Board. The Weston Park
commitments, he said, would not deliver Patten in full.

"Short of the full implementation of Patten, Sinn Fein will
not endorse the current policing arrangements. In short,
the Weston Park position is not enough," he said.

February 2003: Gerry Kelly, above, said the issue of
policing was crucial and "is at the core" of Sinn Fein's
negotiations with the British and Irish governments

November 2004: Sinn Fein national chairman Mitchell
McLaughlin said his party was ready to call a quickly
convened special ard fheis on the policing issue "if the
need arises".

Also that month, Gerry Adams met with the chief constable
in what was described as part of a "realisation" by Sinn
Fein that "compromise is necessary" in power-sharing. It
was the first time in 82 years that a northern republican
leader met the head of the police in the north

June 2005: Sinn Fein said the envisaged "new beginning" to
policing remained "unfinished business". Gerry Kelly said
the transfer of government powers on policing and justice,
and the handling of intelligence were outstanding issues

July 2006: Gerry Adams disclosed that policing spokesman
Gerry Kelly met police officers to ensure violent scenes at
an Orange Order parade in north Belfast the previous year
were not repeated. Mr Adams later said his party would sign
up to policing structures "when the terms are right" and
would endeavour to bring that about "in the shortest
possible time"

November 2006: Sinn Fein signed up to the Republic's 22 new
policing committees, which operate like district policing
partnerships in the north.

Mr Adams also insisted that his party had already "come on
line" with policing, days before it was set to become the
key issue at the St Andrews talks.

He said the republican movement's problem lay with
"political policing" and that Sinn Fein "believes in law
and order"

December 2006: Gerry Kelly said his party's support for the
police could not be taken for granted. Gerry Adams led a
party delegation for face-to-face talks with Hugh Orde at

The party said other issues it was seeking to have resolved
were a date for the transfer of policing and justice and
the departmental model into which power will be

Mr Adams said he would be prepared to call a meeting of his
party's ard chomhairle when agreement had been reached on
these issues for the purpose of convening a special ard
fheis within the timeframe set out at St Andrews.


Irish Soldier Harassed In Belfast

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

A Belfast-born member of the Irish army lodged a complaint
with the Dublin government in May 1976 after sustained
harassment at the hands of British troops in west Belfast.

The young man had enlisted in January 1976 and had been
stationed at the Curragh Camp. On May 24 he sent a
statement to the then taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, detailing
his humiliation.

He said that on May 14 he had returned to his home in

"When I got off the taxi at the Busy Bee I was stopped by
soldiers who made me turn out my pockets and count my money
which they then took from me," he said.

"They saw my Irish army passes. As I stood there in the
street in full view of the public I had to take off my
shoes and jacket.

"Then I was questioned:

- Did you ever shoot at us?

- No.

- Who caught the SAS over the border?

- I don't know.

- Do they teach you in the Irish army to hate British

- No."

A week later the soldier was arrested by a British foot
patrol and taken to Fort Monagh where he was forced to
stand against a wall while holding a large paving stone
above his head.

He told Mr Cosgrave: "After a while I threw it down and
refused. Then they brought out a chair and asked me to do
press-ups kneeling on the chair.

"After a few of these I refused to do any more. Then I was
spread-eagled against the wall and they asked me questions
about the Irish army."

The soldier was then taken to Springfield Road RUC Station
where he was interrogated by a detective and accused of
"organising an attempt on the life of an RUC man on the
Glen Road". He was freed after 31 hours.


307 Killed In Troubles' Second Bloodiest Year

[Published: Friday 29, December 2006 - 11:22]

In releasing its official documents under the 30-year rule,
the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland has made more
of the province's history available to researchers. Graham
Bardgett reviews the year of 1976

The second heaviest year for casualties in the Troubles,
1976, saw 307 killed - 220 of them civilians.

The IRA carried out the carnage of Kingsmills, there were
the UVF murders in Co Armagh, and there was the
assassination of the British Ambassador to Ireland in
Dublin, Christopher Ewart Biggs.

Of the 307 dead, 13 were regular soldiers and 16 in the
UDR, together with 24 officers in the RUC. Republican
groups lost 17 members, while loyalists lost 13. Republican
activity resulted in 161 of the deaths, loyalists 127, the
Army 14 and the RUC two.

In January, six members of two Catholic families were
killed by the UVF in Co Armagh and 10 Protestant workers
were shot dead by the IRA at Kingsmills, sparking a
security crisis resulting in the SAS being deployed and
extra troops flown in.

A month later, in February, republican prisoner Frank Stagg
died in Wakefield Jail, in England, after a 62-day hunger
strike, and the following month those convicted of
paramilitary offences were deemed no longer eligible for
special category status.

A message from Frank Stagg was read to a demonstration on
the Falls Road on February 5, a week before his death.

At the rally Sinn Fein vice-president Maire Drumm said:
"Frank Stagg's death will be revenged as all our martyrs'
deaths have been by the soldiers of Oglaigh na hEireann. If
they send Frank Stagg home in a coffin I would expect the
fighting men of Crossmaglen would send the SAS home in
boxes. If Frank Stagg lives or dies the fight goes on.
England is still the hangman of the world."

Maire Drumm was subsequently murdered by loyalist gunmen
while a patient at the Mater Hospital.

After a brief recall of the Convention lasting only days,
March witnessed its dissolution amid rowdy scenes at its
final meeting.

July 1976 saw the IRA murder in Dublin of the British
Ambassador to Ireland, Christopher Ewart-Biggs, and through
the summer months, the UUP was criticised by other
unionists for holding talks with the SDLP.

August was the month that the Peace People emerged
following the deaths of the three Maguire children during
an incident in west Belfast.

They died when a car driven by an IRA man who had been shot
by soldiers careered into them.

The movement attracted tens of thousands of supporters at
peace rallies.

That summer, Lord Faulkner announced his retirement from
political life. Roy Mason replaced Merlyn Rees as Northern
Ireland Secretary of State in September and the first IRA
man sent to the Maze after the ending of special category
status refused to wear prison uniform.

In November, Peace People leaders Mairead Corrigan and
Betty Williams were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work
in trying to end the violence that was to continue for
almost three decades to come.

That autumn, Kenneth Newman took over as Chief Constable of
the RUC, with Jack Hermon as Assistant Chief Constable.
There was systematic interrogation of terrorist suspects at
Castlereagh and security policy dominated the agenda with
police primacy over the Army coming to the fore.

The year closed, in December, with the Fair Employment Act
being passed making it an offence to discriminate in
employment on religious or political grounds. There were
also strong words from the new Secretary of State Roy
Mason, urging local politicians not to let devolution slip
from their grasp.

c Belfast Telegraph


Hunger Striker's Death Provoked Firm Response

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

The hunger strike and death of IRA prisoner Frank Stagg, a
native of Co Mayo, in a British prison is highlighted in
the files.

Stagg, on his 35th day on hunger strike, was demanding two
concessions - that he would not be re-turned to solitary
confinement and that he would not have to do prison work.

Pressure on Liam Cosgrave's government mounted with a
torrent of letters and telegrams from the public and county
councils as well as 700 employees of the Tarbert ESB power
station in Co Kerry, accusing the government of "a complete
lack of interest".

The workers warned that Stagg's death would "almost
certainly lead to more deaths".

When he died on February 12 1976 the prospect of an IRA
funeral dominated the thinking of the Irish government. The
following day the minister for justice, Patrick Cooney,
noted that "gardai on the route of the proposed military-
style funeral have been alerted".

"Every effort will be made to en-sure that there will be no
firing of shots over the coffin," he said.

However, it was not seen as feasible to arrest people in
paramilitary uniform.

A Dail deputy conveyed to the government the fears of
people in Ballina at an IRA funeral.

The government faced a difficult decision after news that
some members of Stagg's family had agreed to a paramilitary
funeral from Dublin to Ballina.

On February 19 1976 the government announced that it was
diverting the plane carrying the remains from Dublin to
Shannon airport "in the interests of the security of the
state" and the protection of life.

The government said it was aware of "the intention of
subversives to exploit the situation for their own ends"
and so the funeral would follow a route mapped out by
gardai to Hollymount, Co Mayo.


Ambassador's Murder Rocked Government

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

The IRA assassination of the British ambassador to Ireland
on July 21 1976 rocked the Irish government.

Files released by the Nat-ional Archives in Dublin to-day
show how news of the IRA landmine which killed Christopher
Ewart-Biggs and a 26-year-old secretary, Judith Cooke, and
badly wounded the head of the NIO, Brian Cubbon, was
relayed to the then taoiseach, Liam Cos-grave, at 10am that

The diplomat had only been in the post two weeks.

Later that morning a full meeting of the cabinet de-cided
to offer a IRœ20,000 reward for information leading to the
killers' arrest.

"This atrocity fills all decent Irish people with a sense
of shame," Mr Cosgrave de-clared in a statement.

There are several drafts of a message to be sent to Queen
Elizabeth II by the then president, Cearbhall O Dalaigh,
expressing his shock and conveying the sympathy of the
Irish people.

"I assure your majesty of our deep sense of outrage at this
heinous crime against both our peoples," he said.

A similar message was sent to Mr Ewart-Biggs's widow and Mr
Cosgrave commiserated with Miss Cooke's parents at "this
dastardly assassination of a young and promising life".

The government decided to fly flags at half mast until
after the funeral. It was the view of officials that the
government should offer the family a state funeral from an
Irish church prior to the return of the re-mains to

"There is much to recommend the removal of the remains from
a church and there is a strong need to have an orderly and
dignified public expression of sympathy and outrage and an
overnight lying-in-state of the catafalque in, say, St
Patrick's Cathedral, might help to achieve this," the files

"All this would have the effect of explaining and
especially bring home to British television viewers that
the state here and the general public should not be
confused with the perpetrators of the outrage."

However, on July 22 the embassy informed the government
that Mrs Ewart-Biggs had expressed her wish for a private

A note on the file, dated July 23 1976, records that the
bomb which killed the ambassador weighed 200 lbs and had
been placed in a culvert near the embassy gates.

It adds cryptically: "Culvert bombs are south Armagh

After some discussion about protocol it was agreed that the
then minister for foreign affairs would be present at
Balldonnell aerodrome for the removal of the remains. They
were borne to the aeroplane by a guard of honour from the
Irish Air Corps.

On July 22 the Queen replied to the president's
condolences, saying the assassination had "greatly shocked
and grieved her".

"I share your sense of outrage at the terrible and
senseless act of violence," she said.

The taoiseach received a huge amount of correspondence from
Irish people condemning the murder.

On August 11 Mr Cubbon wrote to the taoiseach from

St Vincent's Nursing Home, Dublin, thanking him for his
"warm personal concern".

Mr Cubbon said he was making a full recovery.

"I shall then have to steady myself to re-enter a Northern
Ireland Office which is still desolated - as I am
personally - by the awful loss of Judith Cooke," he said.

"Your words about poor Christopher caught our feelings
exactly and the violent men who contrive and carry out
these attacks are a terrible threat to both our countries,
and a common enemy."

The killers were never brought to justice.


IRA Leadership Faced Problems

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

The Provisional IRA remained the primary threat to security
in Northern Ireland in 1976 but was riven by internal
leadership problems.

This was the verdict of a secret British security
assessment on paramilitary organisations considered by a
Stormont working party on law and order in Feb-ruary 1976.

The memo noted that during 1975 two important developments
took place. Firstly the Provisionals' safe haven in the
Republic became less safe due to more determined measures
by the Irish government and the loss of popular support
after blunders such as the Herrema kidnapping.

Secondly in Belfast and Derry the support given to the IRA
by sections of the minority community in the aftermath of
the Civil Rights disturbances of 1968/69 had been
withdrawn. The Pro-visionals no longer had the emotive card
of detention to play.

The memo went on: "In this changed situation the Provision-
als have considerable leadership problems.

"Some are arguing for the end of the so-called ceasefire
policy and a new all-out campaign before the movement loses
direction completely; others argue for a wait-and-see
policy until a more favourable climate emerges.

"Meanwhile the ceasefire policy, which allows for violence
as long as it is called retaliation, enables them to
accommodate these conflicting views within the increasingly
unconvincing appearance of a coherent policy."

The memo said that if this policy changed it would be
possible for the Provisionals in Belfast and Derry to
undertake a considerably higher level of activity than
during 1975 although "perhaps at the cost of further
alienation of the minority community".

They might not be able to sustain it over a prolonged
period but might reckon that such a campaign would bring
about a "Protestant backlash" or stronger security measures
which would allow them to "once again pose as defenders of
the Catholics".

According to the memo the situation in border areas,
especially south Armagh, was different.

"These include some areas of solid support for the
republican cause," it read.

"It is ideal bandit country. It is clear that the
Provisionals in this area straddling the border are
operating autonomously, remaining in touch with the
Provisional leadership but probably not re-ceiving direct
authorisation for specific actions from Dublin."


Government `Considered An Independent North'

By Staff Reporter

The British government considered creating an independent
Northern Ireland in the 1970s, according to a document
released by the Irish authorities.

The dramatic claim has emerged from a series of previously
secret files revealing that in 1976 both governments feared
loyalists would attempt to make a Unilateral Declaration of
Independence (UDI), sparking a bloodbath.

And while a memo written by the then British prime minister
Harold Wilson records his fears of "apocalyptic" violence,
the Republic's government claims there was evidence that
London favoured independence as a long-term solution to the

The document, written by an official from the Department of
Foreign Affairs, claims loyalist paramilitaries who
discussed the option of a UDI, feared Protestants in the
west of Northern Ireland would be "annihilated" but that
they were prepared to allow this to happen.

"There is considerable evidence that the discussion of
independence as the ultimate solution for Northern Ireland
is being pursued quite actively at the moment, particularly
in paramilitary circles," the document reads.

"There is also some evidence that the British will
encourage this independence debate and would be quite happy
to see it as the ultimate solution to the Northern Ireland

The document covers an uncertain period for Northern
Ireland politics following the collapse of the old Stormont
regime and the failure of Sunningdale.

Unionists were divided over the way forward and those who
discussed independence appear divided between calls for a
negotiated independence programme or a more radical
unilateral declaration.

The Foreign Affairs official writes that the picture
remains confused and says there has been no debate about
the economic consequences of independence.

"Nevertheless there is still a dangerous adherence among-st
many groups to the UDI formula and it is known that the UDA
held a discussion on this aspect of independence in mid-
June," he writes.

"Apparently it was made clear at that meeting that if UDI
meant the annihilation of the Protestant population in the
west of the province, this was the price that they were
prepared to pay.

"There should... be no illusion that the discussion of the
independence issue will necessarily take a benign rather
than a malign path."

The official cites a conversation with Ulster Unionist Rev
Martin Smyth who, he said, floated the idea of independence
under a unionist-controlled government.

A letter attached to the file shows that on September 15
1976, a copy was sent to Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave.


Proscription Of UVF Highlighted

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

The decision of the British government to proscribe the
Ulster Volunteer Force in 1975 is highlighted in the
confidential files.

The action followed a wave of UVF bombings and shootings on
October 2 1975 in which 12 people died.

The next day the then secretary of state, Merlin Rees, held
a meeting with the British general officer commanding, RUC
chief constable Sir Jamie Flanagan and senior officials in
Stormont Castle. The meeting considered the previous day's
violence, for which the UVF was thought to be largely

After much discussion Mr Rees decided on proscription. It
was acc-epted that the direct security advantages would be
slight since convictions for membership were virtually
impossible without a confession.

However, Mr Rees felt that the continued legal existence of
the UVF was sufficiency offensive to the public to warrant
proscription. Moreover, a ban would inhibit fundraising and
the holding of meetings.

After the general officer commanding and chief constable
considered how to act against UVF members, it was agreed
that the organisation should be proscribed from midnight on
October 3 1975.

Mr Rees then signed the order.


Fans Flock To The Ulster Hall For Another Taste Of
Gallagher's Blues

[Published: Friday 29, December 2006 - 10:30]
By Emily Moulton

Hundreds of denim-clad rockers will flock to the Ulster
Hall tonight to pay homage to one of Ireland's greatest
musicians ? the late Rory Gallagher.

A special tribute has been organised to coincide with the
unveiling of a memorial plaque at the venue by the rock
legend's brother and manager Donal.

Always decked out in a denim jacket, checked shirt and his
battered 1961 Fender Stratocaster guitar, Gallagher
arguably became known as the man who spearheaded and
influenced the entire Irish rock movement.

At 15 he joined the Fontana showband which later became The
Impact, a six-piece R'n'B outfit, with whom Rory headed to
Europe for the first time.

In 1966, still only 18, Rory formed Taste with bassist Eric
Kitteringham and drummer Norman Damery which became a
regular attraction at Belfast's famous Maritime Club,
before moving permanently to London.

By then the line up had changed and the trio - Rory,
Richard McCracken on bass and John Wilson on drums - went
on to record two studio albums, Taste and On The Boards, in
1969 and toured extensively before playing their last gig
in Belfast on New Year's Eve in 1970.

Gallagher then went on to fulfil an extremely successful
solo career and collaborated with his childhood influences
such as Muddy Waters, Joe O'Donnell, Albert Collins, Box of
Frogs, The Fureys, The Dubliners, Phil Coulter and Chris

He even recorded with The Rolling Stones in 1975 as their
first choice replacement for Mick Taylor but Gallagher
decided to go his own way.

While touring Holland in 1995, the rocker became ill and
had a liver transplant in April but died in a London
hospital on June 14. He was just 47 years old.

Tonight's special tribute at the Ulster Hall, organised by
Belfast City Council, was a venue close to Gallagher's

"Rory had a special love for Belfast, where he made his
first real breakthrough playing with Taste in the late
1960s," said Ulster Hall manager Pat Falls.

"He remained loyal to his Belfast fans right through the
darkest days of the '70s and '80s, returning every year for
barnstorming performances at a time when many other big
names stayed away.

"Since his untimely death, we often have been asked by fans
to erect some form of memorial to him. This plaque, and
this tribute night, is a great way of us showing our
respect to one of the greatest Irish performers of his - or
any - generation."

More than 600 tickets have already been sold for the packed
event which features performances by The Pat McManus Band
(featuring Pat McManus, formerly of Mama's Boys) and the
world's top Rory Gallagher tribute act, Sinnerboy.

There also will be a screening of Rory's legendary 1984
Ulster Hall concert as well as acoustic performances and an
exhibition of Rory Gallagher memorabilia.

Doors open at 6pm.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ireland: JFK Was Target Of 3 Threats In His 1963 Visit

New York Times

LONDON - Irish authorities were aware of three separate
death threats against President John F. Kennedy when he
visited Ireland in June 1963, five months before his
assassination in Dallas, according to government papers
released in Dublin on Friday.

Two threats came in anonymous telephone messages to the
police saying Kennedy would be killed during the three-day
visit June 26-29. A third was received by the news desk at
a major newspaper group, Ireland's Department of Justice
said in declassified documents.

While the police assumed the threats were hoaxes, they took
extra security precautions, deploying nearly half the
country's police force on Kennedy's route from the Dublin
airport. The president's visit was seen in Ireland as
historic, in part because of Kennedy's own Irish Catholic
roots and the fact that he was the first Irish Catholic
American to be elected president of the United States.

In an unusual security measure for a country with an
unarmed police force, some officers carried rifles,
submachine guns and pistols, while others rode ahead using
binoculars to scan rooftops for snipers. U.S. Secret
Service personnel guarding Kennedy were permitted to carry
sidearms despite Irish laws at the time forbidding foreign
security agents to be armed while in the country, the
documents stated.

The threats against Kennedy included a warning that a
sniper with a rifle would take up position on a rooftop
overlooking the president's route from the Dublin airport.
Another said a bomb would be planted on an airplane at
Shannon Airport as Kennedy prepared to leave. A third,
telephoned to Independent Newspapers, said that Kennedy's
life would be in danger at the Dublin airport.

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