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December 01, 2006

Ban Aegis From Foreign Office Contracts

News About Ireland & The Irish

GR 11/30/06 Blog: Ban Aegis From Foreign Office Contracts
BB 12/01/06 Equal Support For PSNI Ombudsman
BB 12/01/06 DUP Meeting To Ensure Party Unity
JN 12/01/06 Lobby To Host Schumer re: Immigration Reform
GA 11/30/06 Blog: Collusion Is Not An Illusion!

EX 11/30/06 Government Backs Report On Collusion In North
BB 12/01/06 New Register Drops 82,000 Voters
BT 12/01/06 £71m Campus Collapse Inquiry On The Cards
BT 12/01/06 Ulster's Policing Goes Global
RT 12/01/06 Judge Asked To Order Sacking Of McDougall
BT 12/01/06 Opin: Ready, Steady... But Who Will Go First?
DR 12/01/06 Opin: Mad Dogs & Irishmen In Cold Light Of Day
CM 12/01/06 What Terrorists Want By Louise Richardson
BB 12/01/06 Russian Ex-PM Has Mystery Illness
PB 12/01/06 Blog: Belfast Pupils Irish College Among Top 3%
NW 12/01/06 Parish Creates Special New Chapel


Blog: Call To Ban Aegis From Foreign Office Contracts

The Foreign Office today awarded a £30 million contract for
security in Afghanistan to Armorgroup International.

The decision not to award the contract to Tim Spicer's
Aegis was welcomed by the family of Peter McBride, who was
shot dead by soldiers under Spicer's command in Belfast in

However, in a letter to the Foreign Office on behalf of
Peter's mother, Jean McBride, the Pat Finucane Centre has
protested at the decision to allow Aegis to tender for the
contract, and said that it will seek a judicial review if
the company remains on the list of approved bidders.

The Centre issued the following statement this afternoon:

Mrs Jean Mc Bride has welcomed the decision earlier today
of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London not
to award a major £40 million private security contract in
Afghanistan to Aegis Defence Services, whose CEO is Lt Col
Tim Spicer. She has however vowed to take a legal action
against the FCO unless Aegis is removed from the FCO list
of companies invited to tender for security contracts. Mrs
Mc Bride’s son Peter was murdered by two members of the
British Army in Belfast in 1992.

Two soldiers, Mark Wright and James Fisher, were convicted
of the murder. Their Commanding Officer was Tim Spicer and
he sought to portray an entirely fictitious and untruthful
version of the events preceding, during and following the
actual murder, according to Mrs Mc Bride.

In advance of the FCO decision earlier today Mrs Mc Bride
had made representations to ministry officials pointing to
Spicer's actions following the murder of her son and his
subsequent activities in Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and
Iraq. See correspondence to the FCO at

In welcoming the fact that Aegis did not win the contract
Mrs Mc Bride reminded the FCO that legal action was still
pending should they refuse her request to remove Aegis from
the list of companies invited to submit tenders for
'private security' contracts.

"The FCO have been provided with detailed reasons as to why
a man who has sought to justify the murder of my son is not
fit to be in charge of armed security guards/mercenaries in
conflict zones. If Aegis is not removed from the list I
will pursue a legal action through the courts. I hope that
my intervention made the FCO think twice about doing
business with Spicer. "

Mrs Mc Bride had requested that the FCO urgently review the
decision to include Aegis Defence Services on the list of
companies invited to submit tenders for this or any other
Government contract involving the use of private security/
mercenary companies in conflict zones throughout the world.

Mrs Mc Bride had also requested that the FCO ensure that
Aegis Defence Services not be awarded this or any other
Government contract involving the use of private security/
mercenary companies in conflict zones throughout the world.

In correspondence Mrs Mc Bride noted,

"If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or any other
government department allows Aegis Defence Services to
remain on the list of companies invited to submit tenders
for this or any other Government contract involving the use
of private security/ mercenary companies in conflict zones
throughout the world and/or if Aegis Defence Services is
awarded the contract to provide security services to the
British Government in Kabul and various other locations
across Afghanistan, including Kandahar and Helmand Province
then Mrs Jean Mc Bride will seek legal opinion with a view
to judicially reviewing any decision to allow Aegis Defence
Services to remain on the list and/or be awarded said
contract." Aegis was one of six companies invited to submit


Equal Support For PSNI Ombudsman

An independent survey has suggested Protestants and
Catholics are equally supportive of the Police Ombudsman.

More than four out of five people questioned from both
communities also believed that police officers and
complainants would be treated fairly.

The findings show a marked increase in support among
Protestants compared with previous years.

Catholic confidence in the Office also remains high, with
84% believing that the Office helps police do a good job.

The figure for Catholics who believe the Office is
impartial though, is down from a high of 84% two years ago
to 73%.

'Treated fairly'

More than 1,100 people took part in the survey, which is
conducted annually by the Northern Ireland Statistics and
Research Agency.

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan said: "I'm pleased that,
according to these findings, the Police Ombudsman's Office
is providing a service which the majority of people in
Northern Ireland recognise as independent, impartial and
fair to both members of the public and police officers."

Meanwhile, a survey of police officers investigated by the
Police Ombudsman's Office, suggests 85% believe they have
been treated fairly by the office.

Almost 400 officers investigated by the Police Ombudsman
responded to a survey.

It suggested 98% of surveyed officers believed Police
Ombudsman investigators had been polite, 95% thought they
had acted professionally, 91% thought they were impartial
and 90% said they had been knowledgeable.

The findings said 73% were satisfied or very satisfied with
the way they had been treated by the office, compared to
11% who expressed dissatisfaction.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/01 06:49:02 GMT


DUP Meeting To Ensure Party Unity

The DUP leadership is to hold a top-level strategy meeting
following discontent in the ranks about aspects of the St
Andrews Agreement.

The meeting, which is being held outside Templepatrick, in
County Antrim, is expected to last all day.

Speaking before the meeting, assembly member Ian Paisley
jnr said the party should not "beat up on themselves".

He said they should stay focused and remember that the
"real enemy are republicans".

The meeting is being attended by MP's assembly members
peers and party officers. Sources have told the BBC it is
to ensure party unity.

It is the first chance senior party members have had to
discuss the internal tensions which surfaced last Friday at
the assembly when the DUP and Sinn Fein were asked for
nominations to the first and deputy first minister posts.

After the meeting, 12 DUP members signed a statement saying
they had not taken part in a designation process.

It insisted that the government must not take Mr Paisley's
remarks in the chamber as a nomination to become first

Meeting bishops

The statement was signed by MPs Nigel Dodds, William
McCrea, Gregory Campbell and David Simpson.

It read: "Given the total lack of movement on behalf of
Sinn Fein 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,
designate or any other status to anyone in relation to the
office of first and deputy first minister."

It was also signed by Lord Morrow and his fellow assembly
members Diane Dodds, Paul Girvan, Stephen Moutray, Nelson
McCausland, Mervyn Storey, Tom Buchanan and assembly deputy
speaker Jim Wells. It has since emerged that the signed
statement has caused some ructions within the party.

Soon after its release, Mr Paisley released his own
statement confirming he would accept the first minister's
post after a spring election if all his conditions were

He also denied that the statement was an indication of a
split within his party.

BBC political correspondent Martina Purdy said: "Officially
Friday's meeting is about political and election strategy,
but it is doubtless also about finding a common position on
power-sharing with Sinn Fein to ensure party unity.

"Some DUP sources say the friction is over the timing of
power sharing and how long Sinn Fein should be tested on
policing and other issues."

Before the meeting begins the party leadership will also
meet a group of bishops from the Church of Ireland.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/01 11:40:36 GMT


Irish Lobby To Host Schumer, Discuss Immigration Reform

By Gerald McKinstry
The Journal News

If you go
What: Sen. Charles Schumer on immigration reform
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: St. Barnabas Church, 425 E. 240th St., the Bronx, at
the corner of McLean Avenue and 241st Street.
Information: Call 718-598-7530 or log onto

(Original publication: December 1, 2006)

One of the U.S. Senate's highest ranking Democrats is
expected to outline his plans for immigration reform
tonight in the Bronx.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., will address supporters at a
meeting sponsored by the Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform, where the senior senator is expected to tout a plan
similar to one supported by the lobby group.

Kelly Fincham, executive director of the lobby, said
Schumer had long supported the goals of the immigration
group, and members expected him to play an integral role in
getting new laws passed, especially since the Democrats
took over both the House and the Senate during the mid-term

"He's clearly one of the most powerful people in the U.S.
Senate. He's been supportive of comprehensive immigration
reform," Fincham said yesterday. "All the signs are
positive and encouraging."

The rally begins at 7:30 p.m. at St. Barnabas Church, 425
E. 240th Street. The auditorium is at the corner of McLean
Avenue and 241st Street. Also expected to be there is Rep.
Anthony Weiner, a Democrat representing Brooklyn and

The lobby group, which was founded about a year ago in
Yonkers, has sponsored town hall-style meetings across the
country with the likes of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Edward
Kennedy and has organized lobbying trips to Washington.
Tonight's event is a continuation of that, Fincham said.

"In just under a year, we've grown so much," she said.

Although there are no official statistics on the number of
illegal immigrants in the United States, estimates range
from 6 million to 11 million. Of those, it's estimated that
there are between 40,000 and 50,000 from Ireland in the

Members of the lobby have long supported the original
tenets of a Senate bill, known as the Kennedy-McCain bill,
which called for a guest-worker program that would admit up
to 200,000 people per year; hiring of more Border Patrol
agents; building hundreds of miles of fencing on the
border; and allowing illegal immigrants who have been in
the country for at least five years to remain, pay $2,000
in fines and settle back taxes, among other provisions.

Since that was proposed, Republicans offered their own
plan, which called for stricter immigration laws that pay
particular attention to border controls and enforcement.

Fincham said many compromises have been made during the
debate and she hoped favorable legislation could soon be
passed with Schumer's help.

Bethany Lesser, a spokeswoman for Schumer, said the
senator's plan mirrored that of the Kennedy-McCain plan and
he would discuss ideas "that will secure our borders,
create meaningful workplace enforcement, establish a
rational flow of legal workers and a path to citizenship
for those who have been here longest, paid their taxes and
stayed out of trouble."

Matt Reilly of Blauvelt, who is active in the lobby, said
because there were many new lawmakers, it was imperative
the lobby be heard.

"What we want to do is educate the new Congress on the need
for reform. Hopefully, Schumer will be taking a big lead in
this new Congress," Reilly said. "It gives us a lot more
options, but we have to get out there and let them know
what we want them to get done."

Reach Gerald McKinstry at or 845-578-


Blog: Collusion Is Not An Illusion!

The Oireachtas Justice committee has said what Republicans
already knew, namely that successive British governments
knew of the widespread collusion between its security
forces and Unionist death squads.

The committee’s conclusions in relation to successive
British governments are its gravest. It refers to a meeting
in 1975 attended by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson
and Tory leader and despot Margaret Thatcher.

She was told the RUC were not to be trusted, elements in
the RUC were close to the UVF, and the reserve force, the
UDR was heavily infiltrated by Unionist paramilitaries who
could not be relied upon in a crisis.

Republicans have been saying this for years. The issue of
British state collusion is not a case of a "few bad apples"
as several deluded Unionists would have you believe. The
Brits through FRU and other agencies directed State
sanctioned murder against the Nationalist and Catholic
people of the six counties.

It has also emerged that the highest ranking RUC man to
have been killed in the Troubles, Superintendent Harry
Breen, was complicit in acts of collusion between RUC men
and Unionist death squads.

Breen and his RUC colleague Bob Buchanan were shot dead by
the South Armagh brigade of the IRA in March 1989. They
were returning from a meeting with the Gardaí in Dundalk
when their car was ambushed on the Edenappa Road in

Former RUC officer John Weir said Breen was present when
meetings with unionist paramilitaries took place and
collusion was "laughed and joked about".

Weir claims Breen had connections with unionist
paramilitaries, was well aware of other RUC officers
colluding with unionist killers and approved rather than
took action against collusion.

Weir also claims Breen was present at meetings with
unionist paramilitaries during which weaponry was handed
over to the death squads.

Weir's testimony was recently authenticated by a panel of
international experts investigating British collusion in 76
killings carried out by the notorious Glennane gang in the

This is the same Glennane Gang, some of whose members
Willie Frazer would have you believe were "innocent
Protestants", which was responsible for a whole host of

To give a clear picture I will list them below.

04.01.76 O'DOWD FAMILY
05.06.76 ROCK BAR, KEADY
16.08.76 STEP INN, KEADY
25.02.77 Sgt JOE CAMPBELL

Weir has also implicated a former head of Special Branch,
Brian Fitzsimmons, who died in the 1994 Chinook helicopter
crash in Scotland. According to Weir, Fitzsimmons was well
aware of the extent of RUC collusion with unionist death
squads but did nothing to curb it.

A former senior member of the British army has also claimed
that his military career in the North was ended after he
raised objections to the killing of a Catholic man in
County Armagh involving British collusion.

A Lieutenant Colonel in the British army, Nigel Wylde had
been in the North of Ireland in the 1970's. According to
Wylde a sectarian killing had taken place after the British
army passed intelligence details to a unionist death squad.
After the killing Wylde raised objections and was
transferred within days.

Wylde, an explosives expert, also believes unionist
paramilitaries involved in the Dublin Monaghan bombings did
not have the capability to make such devices and the most
likely source was the British army.

Just the tip of the iceberg and quite clearly not just "a
few bad apples"


Government Backs Report On Collusion In North

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

THE Government last night backed a report which found
successive British governments knew of widespread collusion
between its security forces and loyalists.

An Oireachtas subcommittee said a series of atrocities by
loyalist paramilitaries in the mid-1970s were acts of
international terrorism.

The committee’s conclusions in relation to successive
British governments are its gravest. It refers to a meeting
in 1975 attended by Prime Minister Harold Wilson and
Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher, later prime

She was told the RUC were not to be trusted, elements in
the police were close to the UVF, and the reserve force,
the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was heavily infiltrated
by extremists who could not be relied upon in a crisis.

The committee also found that because of endemic collusion
and the level of awareness, the British Government could no
longer “legitimately refuse to cooperate with

The Taoiseach described the findings as disturbing, deeply
troubling and “a matter of the most serious concern”. He
said it was “absolutely essential” that the British
Government now co-operate with all the investigations.

Repeated efforts by Mr Ahern to win that co-operation,
including a number of personal requests to British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, have been rebuffed.

Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said he had contacted
Northern Secretary Peter Hain last night to convey the
Government’s deep misgivings.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the Taoiseach should
demand of Mr Blair that he give the necessary co-operation,
given the report’s disturbing findings.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte described the report as
“extremely shocking” and condemned the “continuing refusal”
of the British Government to co-operate.

The subcommittee, chaired by Fianna Fáil TD Sean Ardagh,
was reporting on its hearings into nine attacks on both
sides of the Border in which 18 people died. The hearings
followed an earlier investigation into the atrocities — and
attendant allegations of collusion — by former Supreme
Court judge Henry Barron.

The incidents included the bombing of Kay’s Tavern in
Dundalk; the murder of three members of the Reavey family
in Markethill, Co Armagh; the murder of three members of
the O’Dowd family in Gilford, Co Down; and the gunning down
of three members of the Miami Showband by extremists, who
were also members of the UDR.

The report, the fourth by the committee, went much farther
than previous reports in the inferences it draws. It found
that collusion between security forces and loyalist
terrorists was behind many of the nine attacks. The
collusion formed part of a wider picture that went to the
top of the British establishment. The subcommittee also
criticised the Irish authorities.

“We believe there is an abundance of information to suggest
that there was reasonable if not significant, knowledge on
this side of the border that British security personnel
were working with, and as, loyalist paramilitaries. The
fact that little or nothing was done to address this is, to
put it mildly, alarming,” it says.

One member of the committee, Kathleen Lynch (Lab) said the
garda inquiries were shabby exercises. Another, Senator Jim
Walsh, said collusion in the North went “much further than
a few bad apples”.

“We owe it to the integrity of our State that we do not
allow an infringement of our sovereignty to go
unchallenged,” he said.

The committee recommended a full Oireachtas debate ahead of
putting pressure on the British authorities to cooperate
with a full inquiry. Mr Ardagh said he favoured an inquiry
based on those by Canadian judge Peter Cory in the North.
But Independent TD Finian McGrath called for a full public

Mr McGrath’s call was supported by surviving relatives of
the victims. Solicitor James McGuill said he was
disappointed the committee had not demanded a serious form
of enquiry.

Greg O’Neill, the solicitor for Victims for the Forgotten,
also reminded the subcommittee there remained serious
unanswered questions about why garda inquiries had stopped.

Alan Brecknell, whose father Trevor was shot dead by
loyalists, said his family had spent years fighting for the
truth to be heard.

“It is now important that the community at large hears the
truth and above all listens to the truth,” he said.


New Register Drops 82,000 Voters

The new electoral register for Northern Ireland reveals a
drop of about 82,000 voters compared to last year's lists.

This represents a 7% drop of voters across all

The largest drop anywhere in Northern Ireland was in the
west Belfast constituency which lost 8,345 registered
voters (15.1%).

Chief electoral officer Douglas Bain said west Belfast was
"traditionally slow" in its initial reponse to the canvass.

"Indeed, right across Northern Ireland, all my offices have
been receiving sackfuls of mail each day with registration
forms and these people will be able to vote at the
election," Mr Bain said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/01 10:54:57 GMT


£71m Campus Collapse Inquiry On The Cards ... If We Get Devolution

By David Gordon
01 December 2006

Pressure is growing for further investigations into the
collapse of the £71m Springvale campus plans for Belfast.

The University of Ulster (UU) has come under fire over the
saga, following a report by the watchdog Northern Ireland
Audit Office.

It has been accused of losing the will to pursue the
project, which would have involved a peaceline campus
serving west and north Belfast.

The ambitious blueprint was officially launched in 1998 but
collapsed four years later, when the UU pulled out on
affordability grounds. An estimated £3.6m was lost in the
aborted venture.

The Audit Office revealed that the university did not
provide it with all the information it had requested during
its inquiry.

This related to how Springvale had fitted into the UU's
overall investment plans and spending priorities. A follow-
up inquiry on the Springvale case will almost certainly be
launched if devolution is restored.

In that event, the Audit Office report would be examined by
the Assembly's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and a
hearing attended by government and university officials
would likely be held.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has stressed the need for more

He added: "This underlines why we must have our
institutions up and running again.

"We need all the committees, including the Public Accounts
Committee, to hold civil servants properly to account."

SDLP MLA John Dallat, who sat on the last Stormont PAC,
said: "It is not acceptable that the Audit Office was
unable to obtain all the information it required from the
university. An Assembly PAC will have to pursue this matter
vigorously, fill in the gaps and ensure that the lessons
from Springvale are learned."

The UU yesterday defended its withdrawal decision,
insisting that the campus project had not been financially

It accepted that it should have been "more open and
transparent" when it was reconsidering its involvement.

The Government was told by the UU in November 2001 that it
wanted to withdraw. But the partners in the project,
including the Belfast Institute for Further and Higher
Education, were not informed for almost another year.

The university pulled out after an appraisal indicated
Springvale would run at an annual deficit of between
£266,000 and £1,176,000. The UU's annual income was then
around £120m.

Over the four years that the Springvale project was being
developed, the university spent some £37m on land and
buildings elsewhere. And it went from having £18.5m
reserves to owing £7.4m.

The Audit Office said it believed "a number of other
projects" were given a higher priority by the UU than

It also concluded that the university had not honoured its
financial commitments under the Springvale plan.


Ulster's Policing Goes Global

Senior police officers from some of the world's most
violent regions were in Belfast this week for training in
anti-terrorist techniques. Crime Correspondent Jonathan
McCambridge reports on how expertise gained from 30 years
of battling Ulster paramilitaries is now being used in the
global fight against terror

01 December 2006

Can lessons learnt from loyalist rioting following
Whiterock last year be used against suicide bombers in the
Middle East?

While modern-day west Belfast might seem remote from
Lebanon, Sudan or Pakistan, officers from these troubled
parts of the world have travelled to Northern Ireland for
help in their battles against terrorists.

This week the PSNI hosted part of a training course
entitled Policing And Terrorism In Democratic Societies at
its Garnerville training college.

The course attracted senior officers from many of the
world's most volatile regions including Algeria, Sudan,
Jordan, Lebanon and Pakistan.

While they were here the officers toured west Belfast and
viewed the peace walls. They were shown videos of the
Whiterock riots and told how the PSNI began to rebuild
shattered relations with the loyalist community following
some of the worst rioting in recent history.

The visiting group was also given access to sensitive
information about how the PSNI manage intelligence and use
surveillance against paramilitary groups. They were
addressed by PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton.
While the foreign officers will use all they have learned
to combat their own fight against terrorists at home, there
is an even more important message that the war on terror is
going global.

Police around the world are building a network of expertise
based on shared knowledge. Northern Ireland, because of its
history, is at the centre of this.

The Belfast Telegraph was given exclusive access to the
terrorism course this week and met officers who battle
against fundamentalist terrorism in the Middle East.

PSNI Superintendent Gary Gracey, head of leadership
programmes at Garnerville, explained that the course opened
up channels of access to parts where they have previously
not had any influence. He said:

"We have had 16 senior officers and we have brought them
here to look at historically how the PSNI has dealt with
terrorism and acts of terrorism. More importantly we are
telling them how we are looking forward, how we rebuild
communities in the aftermath of terrorism.

"These guys are very interested in how we are rebuilding
our societies. There are two senior officers from Lebanon.
Bear in mind what the Lebanese people have suffered through
terrorism over the past six months.

They are interested in learning about how we moved from a
terrorist situation to a more stable and peaceful
environment. This includes things like 50/50 recruitment of

"We have gathered a knowledge base around terrorism over
the years and that makes us a centre of excellence. We are
working with countries all over the world and the net is
spreading and we are building a network of counter-
terrorism excellence."

Supt Gracey said that last year's Whiterock riots was used
as an example of how a situation can quickly deteriorate
into massive violence.

"It all starts with an unexpected deterioration. Whiterock
is an example of how a community can turn very quickly from
passive to aggressive. Similarly, when you think about
suicide bombers in the Middle East they come from nowhere.
There is no warning, it comes from nowhere and all of a
sudden you have a massive incident.

"A lot of the learning comes through what happens in the
recovery strategy. In the aftermath, how do you re-engage
with that community?

"We have given them examples of instances where we have
been through an act of terrorism and how we go back into
that community. We have shown them video-clips and talked
about personal experiences.

"They have learned about how we run surveillance and
intelligence, how we command and control it. The structures
that are in place to manage risk to officers. We take them
through the basic and show them case studies."

Muhammad Khalid Qureshi is the Deputy Commandant at the
Federal Investigation Agency which deals with counter-
terrorism in Pakistan. Last week in Pakistan 42 soldiers
were killed in one day through a suicide bombing. Mr
Qureshi can see many similarities between his country and
Northern Ireland. He said:

"Police here in Northern Ireland have dealt with terrorism
for more than 30 years. I wanted to see what they did in
person rather than reading it in a book, to see how they
are overcoming their problems.

"Pakistan also has a serious problem with sectarian
terrorism. The Muslim sects, Sunni and Shi'ite, they target
each other with bombs and guns. Terrorists also target our
police, military and our leaders.

"However, there are also differences. A lot of the
surveillance and intelligence methods and techniques which
are used in Northern Ireland are superior to what we know
in Pakistan.

Even throughout the most dire of circumstances they always
record decisions.

The concept of human rights of both the victim and the
accused is protected; this is a novel experience for us in
Pakistan where in desperate situations things like that can
be overlooked.

Police Major General Suwira Songmetta is the Deputy
Commissioner of Office attached to the Commissioner General
in Thailand. He said: "We are building an international
intelligence organisation against terrorism.

"When we all come together we are building a network of
counter terrorism intelligence.

"Terrorists have gone global so officers need to have that
network. This will be for the benefit of people

Major Chief Mohamman Am Al-Amawi from the Jordanian Police
Force said he believed he could use what he has learnt in
Ulster when he returns home to the Middle East. He said:

"We have to deal with Al Qaida and other sensitive Islamic
groups. But we can learn about the experiences in Northern

"You have improved your tactics in counter-terrorism. I
have also had the chance to get information about what is
happening in Pakistan, the Philippines, Lebanon. I can
learn from all of these countries."


Judge Asked To Order Sacking Of McDougall

01 December 2006 12:13

The High Court judge who strongly criticised the Northern
Secretary, Peter Hain, and senior civil servants over the
appointment of interim Victims Commissioner Bertha
McDougall has been asked to order that she be sacked.

The call was made by legal representatives for Brenda
Downes, who won a judicial review over the way in which the
appointment was made.

Counsel for Mrs Downes said if Ms McDougall's appointment
was not terminated forthwith then Mr Hain would have
licence to effectively thumb his nose at the court and
continue with an illegal appointment.

Ms McDougall's interim appointment is due to end next week
and Mr Justice Girvan asked what effect termination would
have on producing a final report.

The hearing is continuing.


Opin: Ready, Steady... But Who Will Go First?

01 December 2006

At face value, everything is going swimmingly on the
policing front. Gerry Adams is willing to meet Hugh Orde,
Hugh Orde is keen to meet Gerry Adams, and Sinn Fein is
keen to resolve the issue within the timeframe of the St
Andrews Agreement.

The only problem is that, as always in Northern Ireland
politics, there are conditions. Before an Ard Fheis can be
convened, Mr Adams needs to have a firm date for the
devolving of policing and justice powers to the Assembly.

In many ways it is a mirror image of the DUP's agreement to
embrace power-sharing - provided all its pre-conditions are
met. Both parties are showing willing, but so far neither
is willing to make the first move.

If the DUP and Sinn Fein continue to play hardball, there
is a danger that the St Andrews Agreement will unravel, and
the Assembly will end up in cold storage. As DUP delegates
meet today to review events, this is a possibility that
they cannot rule out.

The deadlock will only be broken if both parties are
prepared to show more flexibility. Sequencing is the key,
and if Sinn Fein is committed to making the process work,
it could give a useful lead by setting a date for the Ard

This would put the onus on the DUP to agree a specific date
for the devolution of security powers - and to judge from
Peter Hain's remarks something more realistic than "not
within a political generation" will clearly be required.

Sinn Fein is not doing itself any favours by prevaricating
over the Ard Fheis. Unionist confidence is being eroded and
the net result is that the target date outlined in the St
Andrews Agreement of May 2008 is starting to recede.

Perhaps to deflect such criticism, Mr Adams has launched a
new initiative to develop a dialogue with the PSNI, but
strictly within the remit of day-to-day policing.
Regardless of what has prompted the announcement, this move
is to be welcomed and encouraged.

The more that channels of communication can be established
between elected politicians and the police, the better. As
Mr Orde says, the PSNI is there to help people, and this
applies in republican areas as much as anywhere else.

Both at grassroots level and as part of a wider political
settlement, policing is a nettle which Sinn Fein must
grasp. All sections of the community need law and order,
and the only beneficiaries of the present stand-off are
criminal elements who continue to prey on the innocent.

Until the issues of policing and partnership are resolved,
the peace process will be in limbo. If the parties are
unable to reach an accommodation in the Programme for
Government committee, then the two Governments will have to
step in.


Opin: Mad Dogs And Irishmen In The Cold Light Of Day

The Gutter Sniper
Reg Mckay

MENTAL isn't he, that Michael Stone, waltzing into
Stormont, armed to the teeth. Bet he even thought he was
doing it with state support. Crazy man. Or is he?

What about that female security guard getting hold of
Stone's shooter then moving in to give him a swift dunt on
the napper? With his own gun. Brave, very brave.

In Ireland Michael Stone has the recognition level that
wannabe X-Factor contenders wannae have. His bloody
massacre at an IRA funeral in 1988, blazing across our TV
screens assured that. The man was jailed for 850 years -
massive even by the troubled Irish terms - until freed by
the Good Friday agreement to go back to his old ways.

But it's an Irish problem, isn't it? Not ours?

In the drama of Stone at Stormont not much attention has
been given to another wee matter. In Dublin. Yet it's all
our problem.

The Irish parliament's committee on justice and defence has
just completed a lengthy investigation, concluding that
cops and soldiers - British army soldiers - cooperated with
Loyalists in the 1970s in carrying out many atrocities -
bombs and shootings that killed a stack of innocent folk.
Actions carried out by our army, presumably claiming they
were protecting the nation's security.

Yet the Irish politicos have even fingered them for the
gunning down of the Miami Showband in 1975. A showband? An
early version of Westlife. Maybe not everyone's musical
taste but a threat to security?

But that was back in 1975, 30 years ago. Ancient history
that we should forgive and forget? Easier said than done.

Scotland has always been a safe refuge for dangerous men
from Ireland. Former terrorists from both sides of the
divide are scattered through many of our most lethal gangs.
Then there are those who just want to retire. Like "Mad
Dog" Johnny Adair.

Mad Dog is the most infamous incomer to Troon since Hagar
the Horrible and his mates popped over to the Ayrshire
coast for a bit of pillaging.

With his shaven skull, tattoos and iron-pumping physique
he's a bit noticeable, not to say frightening. With good
reason since he is believed to have been responsible for
around 50 murders. Not that he was ever nabbed for them.

So frustrated were the authorities that they invented a new
crime just for him - directing terrorism - legalese for
ordering others to do the killing.

With his C Company of the Ulster Freedom Fighters chased
out of Belfast by other Loyalist groups, Mad Dog has chosen
Troon as his retirement home. Many local residents are a
wee bit worried that his idea of retirement isn't exactly
spending more time on the golf course or pottering about
the garden. And, if it is, you don't have to be a student
of Irish politics to realise he has more deadly enemies
than is healthy, enemies who may pay Troon a visit.

Yet there's another rumour going around about Mad Dog -
that he was a double agent for the British Army. No
surprise there. The same gossip circulates about almost
every Loyalist leader. Why? Because some of them were
working in cahoots with the police and the army.

Mad Dog denies these rumours, of course, as well he might.
Just because some of his ex-comrades took the help of
British soldiers to kill innocent people doesn't mean he
crossed that line. But what about our soldiers who did? Our
MI5 agents? Who were they acting for? Us?

Have they stopped that lethal killing business now? Can we
really be sure? Of course, in Scotland while raging with
rampant sectarianism, we have somehow been able to keep the
Irish troubles at bay. Will that last forever?

Far from religious harmony, we live in a country so divided
that we've just appointed a Director of City Collaboration.
Why? To heal the rift between Glasgow and Edinburgh. What
is all that about?

Now we have a debate about who suffers most prejudice -
Catholics or Protestants? In the 21st century? Shouldn't
that include Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and every other
religion on these shores.

Until we grasp the reality of modern Scots won't we be
pushed back to the old ways? The two sides. The them and
us. The sectarian tightrope we've walked for centuries.

Running the risk of the Irish Troubles becoming the
Scottish Troubles. Wouldn't that be hell?


LOAN companies have dished out £5million this year for
people to have plastic surgery.

God knows how much more is spent by cash-rich vain folk to
improve their looks. Yet this winter thousands of old folk
will die because they can't afford to heat their homes.
It's obscene.

TERRORISM, cyber crime and sex slavery are new major tasks
for the cops, says the chief inspector of constabulary. So
he wants to change the law defining the cops' role, dumping
the bit that says "to guard, watch and patrol". That'll be
why you never see a beat polis on your street then.

FRAUDSTERS want one thing - dosh. Like Alloa's £3million
VAT conman, Michael Voudouri, jailed for four years in
2004. Now the businessman is appealing an order to repay a
third of the loot. Why so little? Why not just seize it off
him? Don't white-collar crooks get it so easy?


What Terrorists Want By Louise Richardson

Jonathan Kay
December 2006

Abstract –

On August 14, 1969, Great Britain deployed its army to
Northern Ireland to protect the minority Catholic
population and restore order following months of rioting.
At first, the Catholics welcomed the British. But as time
passed, the military presence inflamed local opinion, and
permitted the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to cast its
bloody campaign as a struggle against imperialism. For the
next three decades, London remained mired in a messy,
inconclusive war that would claim more than 3,500 lives. In
the end, Northern Ireland’s terrorists were persuaded to
lay down their arms not by British might but through a
lengthy, painstaking process of negotiation. To Louise
Richardson, a lecturer on international security at Harvard
and a student of the “troubles” in her native Northern
Ireland, the lesson is clear: If democracies are to defeat
terrorism, they must understand the terrorists’
motivations, recognize their legitimate grievances, and
work toward a solution with any pragmatists who are willing
to forswear violence. It took Britain many years to learn
this lesson, according to Richardson. In What Terrorists
Want, she urges the United States to be quicker about it.

Richardson begins with an account of her upbringing in
rural Ireland, where she learned to hate the British while
keeping a journal of atrocities committed against local
Catholics. “If the IRA would have had me,” she writes of
her reaction to Bloody Sunday on January 30, 1972—when
British paratroopers killed 14 unarmed civilians—“I’d have
joined in a heartbeat.” Her first-hand experience of the
IRA convinced her that terrorists are anything but crazed

Note: this abstract was auto-generated and may contain

About the Author

Jonathan Kay is managing editor for Comment at Canada’s
National Post.

© 2006 Commentary


Russian Ex-PM Has Mystery Illness

Former Russian acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar is being
treated in a Moscow hospital amid rumours about the cause
of his mystery illness.

Mr Gaidar became violently ill during a visit to Ireland
last week, and his daughter Maria told the BBC that doctors
believe he was poisoned.

Irish police are investigating the claims, as he recovers
in Moscow.

Mr Gaidar, 50, fell ill a day after Russian ex-spy
Alexander Litvinenko died of radiation poisoning in London.

Mr Gaidar briefly served as prime minister in 1992 under
Russian President Vladimir Putin's predecessor, Boris

He now heads a Moscow-based think-tank which has criticised
President Putin's economic policies, but he is a marginal
political figure who is not regarded as a prominent
political opponent of the Russian leader.

'Pale and thin'

Mr Gaidar suffered from a nose bleed and vomiting before
fainting in Dublin last Friday, during a visit to promote
his book The Death of Empire: Lessons for Contemporary

June-Dec 1992: Russian acting prime minister
Implemented economic "shock therapy"
Director of Institute for the Economy in Transition

Ms Gaidar was quoted as saying her father had eaten a
"simple breakfast of fruit salad and a cup of tea".

Ms Gaidar, an anti-Kremlin activist, told the BBC doctors
in Moscow had been unable to find any other cause except

"The doctors think that they don't find any other reason of
his condition that he was poisoned with some strange poison
they cannot identify," she said. "But to have an official
conclusion they're still waiting for the information of the
doctors of Dublin."

She said that if her father had been deliberately poisoned
"it could be a political poisoning because there are no
personal or business reasons why someone would want to do

She told Reuters news agency her father was speaking, but
looked pale and thin.

Mr Gaidar was treated in intensive care in Dublin after he
collapsed, before being flown to Moscow.

The Irish government has said it had no reason to believe
there was anything untoward about Mr Gaidar's illness.

However, the police force said it was investigating Mr
Gaidar's movements during his trip.

"Enquiries to date have been conducted with hospital and
medical staff and through the diplomatic corps," a police
statement said.

"Public health and safety is of paramount importance and
there is nothing known which indicates that any member of
the public is at risk."

As acting prime minister, Mr Gaidar was responsible for
introducing sweeping economic reforms following the
collapse of the Soviet Union.

His programme of economic "shock therapy" under which price
controls were lifted and large-scale privatisations were
launched angered many Russians who saw their savings

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/01 03:15:20 GMT


Blog: Pupils From Belfast Irish College Among Country's Top
Three Per Cent (That's Without The Bonus Points!)

It's been a weird 48 hours with things crashing down around
me but I suspect the skies are clearing with the news just
now (11pm Thursday) that the excellent South Belfast News
has won the award for best free newspaper in the North at
the Newspaper Society Awards in Manchester tonight. A
remarkable achievement at a time when the quality of free
newspapers has been transformed thanks to the Metro, which
in Ireland is part-owned by the Irish Times. Full marks to
Maria McCourt, former editor of Daily Ireland, for her

And of course the cat is among the peace process pigeons by
Gerry Adams' article in An Phoblacht today which indicates
that he's willing to meet Hugh Orde, PSNI Chief Constable,
in a bid to get our police farce transformed into a police
service. Gerry Adams said: "I do not underestimate the
challenge this is for Sinn Féin and for many republicans
and nationalists. Nor do I underestimate the challenge a
power-sharing arrangement presents for Mr Paisley and the

"However, I am confident that all of the outstanding issues
can be resolved, including that of policing. Sinn Féin is
for policing and a fair and effective legal and judicial
system which is transparent and accountable. That requires
a different policing experience to the one we have known."

The cranks, conspiracy theorists and ceasefire soldiers are
out in their embittered ranks denouncing any attempt to
tame the securocrats and deliver our community the policing
it deserves but I suspect the nationalist community is
ready to face up to the challenge of policing. All they
want now is for McGuinness and Adams to tell them enough
has been delivered on policing to enable Sinn Féin to get
stuck in.

On Wednesday, I met Michael McKernan, former representative
(on behalf of the SDLP) on the Maze-Long Kesh Panel and,
like myself, a publisher. Michael's new magazine, Agenda
NI, deserves to do well but it's a tough market out there
which has become tougher since Daily Ireland came on the

Prior to Daily Ireland, civil servants could advertise in
any forum they fancied but to block Daily Ireland, the
civil servants, backed by the Brit ministers, had to
introduce rules based on audited figures and value for
money. That means that new publications (such as Agenda NI)
can't get any ads until they can produce audited figures
and even then it's an uphill battle. In fact, Daily Ireland
has forced a complete rethink of government advertising
policy and saved the public purse millions of pounds. It's
a small consolation but worth something nevertheless.
Having said that, the rigid policy towards Daily Ireland
isn't been shown towards unionist-backed newspapers. Daily
Ireland was told it wouldn't get any ads until it had an
ABC. When the same civil servants told John Taylor's Alpha
Group this year they would have to get their papers ABC
(official industry audit) certificates by April 2007, he
protested to the powers-that-be. Hey presto, the civil
servants backed down and now say an independent audit will
do. If there had been some of that flexibility when Daily
Ireland was around, things may have worked out differently.

Enough about that: I was in Trinity College on Wednesday
night where the provost John Hegarty was congratulating
students from the 32 counties who were among the top three
per cent in the country in the school leaving exams.
Afterwards, we retired to a nearby restaurant where a
waitress accidentally tipped a full bowl of piping-hot soup
over one of the successful scholars. A trip to the hospital
via taxi was called for but I'm happy to report that,
thanks to an ice bucket and anti-burn spray, the victim is
recovering well. Interestingly, it was clear that the staff
had no training in dealing with burns. The victim should
have been rushed to the kitchen and her burnt hand
submerged in water, instead she retreated to the women's
toilet to remove her clothes (the bowl of soup landed in
her lap). It wasn't just as bad tonight in the Europa Hotel
where my pal Sammy Douglas had a waitress tip a bottle of
Bud into his lap during the £100,000 charity fundraiser by
Lottery winner Peter Lavery. I cut out early, leaving Sammy
to work out for himself how he will tell his better half
that though he smells like he was swimming in beer, he only
had a small tipple.

Finally, an Oireachtas Committee yesterday blasted the
Brits for colluding in the Monaghan and Dublin bombings.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said it is "absolutely
essential' that the British Government examine the findings
of reports into collusion, and that it fully co-operates
with all investigations into the serious issues that have
arisen." See the full report from RTÉ here.

All safe territory. What's needed is an investigation into
Garda co-operation with the RUC at a time when that force
was up to its necks in running loyalist agents who were
murdering nationalists and republicans. The Gibraltar Three
would be a good place to start. Did the Garda provide the
intelligence which enabled the Brits to murder Dan McCann,
Mairead Farrell and Sean Savage on the Rock in 1988? How
many Garda files were used by Brits engaged in shoot-to-
kill and how many Garda files provided to the RUC were then
provided to Billy Wright and his chums to enable them to
target republicans? Uncomfortable territory but then peace
processes are all about going into unchartered waters. And,
despite the pious proclamations, successive Irish
Governments and Garda chiefs provided information to the
RUC at a time when, as we now know, it was a murderous
conspiracy against the nationalist community.

Our pictures shows twins, Cormac and Eithne Spooner, from
Tipperary, with the Provost Dr Hegarty (who spoke in Irish
and English at the scholarship ceremony and reminded us
that former Trinity students included "revolutionaries"
Robert Emmett and Wolfe Tone) at the Entrance Exhibition
Awards ceremony in Trinity. A total of 535 first-year
students were awarded special ‘Entrance Exhibition Awards’
at Trinity College. The students receiving awards each
achieved 545 points or higher (more than 6 A2 grades) in
their Leaving Certificate examination (or equivalent second
level examination) and represent the top three per cent of
those who left second level schools. The students represent
260 schools from 32 counties as well as from other EU
schools. The only school from Belfast to have pupils
represented was the Irish medium school Coláiste Feirste
(where pupils had to achieve at least 3 'A's and a 'B' at A
Level). Interestingly, there were quite a few Irish
speakers anong the students, including Eoin Ó Murchú, son
of Dublin lawyer Pól Ó Murchú. In the South, students get a
percentage added on for sitting exams in Irish - in
recognition of the added difficulty. There's no such
provision for students in the North so that makes the
success of Eibhlín Bhreatnach from Coláiste Feirste all the
more impressive (and considering she was scalded with soup
later she's likely to remember the night for some time to

And to think when we sat up a second level Irish medium
school in Belfast, they sent out a lot of educationalists
in 1990 to tell us children couldn't be educated to
university level in Irish.

Agus fuair mé an post leis an Chiste Craoltóireachta. I got
that Irish Language Broadcast Fund post, by the way, so
time to sign off and get cracking on that challenge too.
Oíche Mhaith.

posted by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir at 11:16 PM


Parish Creates Special New Chapel

BY Mark McKelvey

PARISHIONERS working with Fr Kevin McElhennon over the past
eight months have created a new intimate chapel within the
Church of Christ the King at Strathroy, Omagh, that will be
officially opened on Sunday night.

The Chapel of Christ the Light of the World has cost in the
region of £40,000 and it is built around a number of themes
– Baptism, The Word, The Eucharist and Reconciliation.

Fr McElhennon described how this warm, inviting environment
was created.

"The good people from within the parish have been working
on this project with me for eight months now. It came
originally from an idea to have an Adoration Chapel but we
decided to expand the use of the chapel, so now it will not
only include the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament but
also serve for faith development.

"We have created a place for people to use for the daily
liturgies in a welcoming, homely environment with
approximately 60 seats. It will be open for prayer groups
or for individuals to drop in from the street for quiet
prayer and reflection," Fr McElhennon continued.

"It will also be used as an important teaching tool, to
teach what the Mass is and we would also hope that it could
be used by schools in their religious education."

Fr McElhennon expressed his gratitude for the dedicated
parish support in creating the chapel and he hopes it will
be beneficial to the community.

"There has been a lot of very committed and dedicated
people from various parts of the parish with different
skills that came together to create the space and to think
it through. They have done tremendous work and it just goes
to show the talent that exists within any parish, and what
can be created when they are invited to show those skills,"
said Fr McElhennon.

"The actual lay-out of the alter, pulpit and the seating is
positioned to bring a renewed focus on various parts of the
Mass – the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the

To mark the opening and dedication of the new chapel, there

will be a three-day mission with worshippers from all
parishes welcome to attend.

On Sunday night at 7.30pm, the guest preacher will be
Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, who is a committed Christian
and deeply spiritual woman.

Then on Monday at 7.30pm, the guest speaker is Fr John
Cargan who will be speaking on the importance of the word
of God. On Tuesday, there will be a Mass for the blessing
of the chapel, with guest preacher Fr Aiden Troy from the
Holy Cross Monastery in Belfast.

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