News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

December 31, 2006

Govts Welcome SF Decision

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 12/30/06 Governments Welcome SF Decision
IT 12/31/06 Brevity Wins Out After 6 Hours Behind Doors
IT 12/31/06 Leadership And Nerve Required For Policing Deal
SL 12/31/06 Dissidents Target DUP Man For Assassination
SL 12/31/06 I Will Reveal More UVF Touts: McCord
EE 12/31/06 Prison Files Destroyed
BB 12/31/06 Church Leaders In Tolerance Call
SB 12/31/06 30 Yrs Ago: British Misled Irish On SAS
UT 12/29/06 30 Yrs Ago: Paisley 'Threat' To Power-Sharing
IN 12/31/06 30 Yrs Ago: Security Couldn’t Defeat Provos
IN 12/31/06 30 Yrs Ago: Civil Rights/IRA Tag Was Wrong
IN 12/31/06 30 Yrs Ago: March Banned After Loyalist Threats
IN 12/31/06 30 Yrs Ago: RUC Rejected Ambush At Burntollet
IN 12/31/06 30 Yrs Ago: Fitt Shunned Dinner Over SAS Gaffe
IN 12/31/06 30 Yrs Ago: Suspect For Ambassador’s Murder
SB 12/31/06 30 Yrs Ago: Browne Warned Paisley & O’Brien
IT 12/31/06 Opin: Sinn Féin And NI Policing
BN 12/31/06 Hoax Bomb Threat Forces Jet To Land In Shannon
BN 12/31/06 Storms Batter Irish Coastline
IT 12/31/06 New Ross To Erect JFK Statue Next Year


Governments Welcome SF Decision

The British and Irish governments have welcomed news that
Sinn Fein will hold a special conference next month to
discuss signing up to policing.

Downing Street said there was now a real prospect of all NI
parties and communities supporting the rule of law.

Speaking after talks in Dublin on Friday, Gerry Adams said
the meeting would be held if the two governments and the
DUP gave a positive response.

The move has also been welcomed by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Mr Ahern welcomed the Sinn Fein executive's "landmark and
timely decision".

He said: "Sinn Fein has taken an important step on the road
to support for policing in Northern Ireland."

A Downing Street spokesman said there was now, for the
first time, "the real prospect of all parties and all
sections of the community in Northern Ireland supporting
the rule of law in Northern Ireland".

"This statement is significant because of the unequivocal
support that Sinn Fein says it will offer - if this motion
is passed at the ard fheis - to not just the police but
also to those in communities who report crimes to the
police," the spokesman added.

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

More than two-thirds of the executive voted in favour of
the meeting.

The party has historically opposed recognising the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and its predecessor the
Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), because of what it sees as
a Protestant bias within the service.

'Potential' recognised

The DUP - the largest party in Northern Ireland - has
previously refused to speak to Sinn Fein until it
recognises and accepts the PSNI.

I am totally wedded to the idea of every single person who
wants to be part of this debate, being part of the debate

Gerry Adams

Speaking after the Sinn Fein vote on Friday evening, DUP
deputy leader Peter Robinson said it would be "churlish not
to acknowledge the potential" of the steps taken by the

But he warned that unionists would have to study Sinn
Fein's words and actions carefully.

A date for the Sinn Fein conference, or ard fheis, has not
yet been confirmed.

Speaking after the six-hour meeting of the executive, Mr
Adams said the debate was "frank, comradely and robust".

"I put a motion to the party leadership and the party
leadership endorsed that by more than the two thirds
majority," he said.

For the first time there is the real prospect of all
parties and all sections of the community in Northern
Ireland supporting the rule of law in Northern Ireland

Downing Street spokesman

Mr Adams said he would now be engaged in efforts to deal
with concerns among republicans over the proposals.

"I am totally wedded to the idea of every single person who
wants to be part of this debate, being part of the debate,
because it's about the future, it's about the type of
Ireland we want to see."

Sinn Fein said the motion put forward would include a
commitment to "actively encourage everyone in the community
to co-operate fully with the police services in tackling
crime in all areas and actively supporting all the criminal
justice institutions".


BBC Ireland correspondent Denis Murray said the key for the
DUP would be "delivery".

Alex Attwood, SDLP spokesman, said: "Sinn Fein now appear
to be backing out of the wrong position they've adopted on
policing over the last number of years...

"Everybody including the DUP should now consider acting
quickly and positively to the situation that's developing."

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

Alliance Party leader David Ford said: "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.

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: 2006/12/30 11:41:39 GMT


Brevity Wins Out After Six Hours Behind Closed Doors

Sat, Dec 30, 2006

All eyes were on the end of the corridor, waiting for that
seismic shift from the double doors. They remained closed.
Instead, Gerry Adams hurtled around the corner in a manner
most historic, ushering in a new era and four of his
general election candidates, writes Miriam Lord.

"I am totally wedded to this idea," he said after the six-
hour meeting, simultaneously totally wedded to Mary Lou
McDonald MEP, who will dwell at her leader's shoulder from
now until polling day.

There is to be a New Dispensation. The tired looking, but
upbeat Sinn Féin leader was happy to announce it. First
off, he dispensed with all talk of watersheds and
milestones, seismic shifts and hands of history. It seems
the more flowery the language of peace process
developments, the less likely it is that the initiative
will flourish.

So Gerry described a truly significant move for the
republican movement with an understated: "It's been a hefty
day." We had to take his word for it, as the meeting of
Sinn Féin's ardchomhairle in Dublin's Great Southern
Airport Hotel was held behind closed doors and a protective
wall of security men. It was a pretty informal affair, with
Mr Adams padding out to the gents from time to time in his
stocking feet.

The ardchomhairle members sat in circular arrangements of
seats, with each of them entitled to speak. It was
predicted that the meeting, which began at 1pm, would last
about three hours. But by teatime, there was no end in
sight. And when the six o'clock news deadline passed, a
disgusted media corps began digging in for the night.

"They haven't even voted yet, and there's another eight or
nine speakers to go," said somebody, who had had a word
with somebody close to somebody minding the door. By
6.30pm, reporters were fearing the worst. Word went around
that a tray "of dinner" had just gone in.

Happily, it transpired the dinner was for one of the
security men. Fifteen minutes later, a troubling
development: plates of sandwiches were delivered to the
delegates. Alarming details emerged. "Finger food" also
went in. A new twist on an old story came to mind and we
began to curse "The Shinners who Stole Christmas."

Finally, the meeting was over. They had been talking for
over six hours - a remarkable victory for brevity in the
context of Northern politics.

Members wandered out, looking quietly happy but saying
nothing. It was 7.10pm and it took another 20 minutes
before Gerry Adams and colleagues made an appearance.
Perhaps he had been searching for his shirt and shoes.

Mary Lou - and her soon to go head-to-head with Bertie in
his constituency - was glued to her leader and smiling
serenely, with Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly beside
them. A trio of candidates gamely kept up with them.

"The debate was frank, comradely and robust, and a very
united ardchomhairle faces into the challenges ahead," said
the Sinn Féin leader, a gold cherub twisting on a string in
the draught above his head and a brunette one at his side.
And the sound of laughter wafted from the bar.

© 2006 The Irish Times


Leadership And Nerve Required For Policing Deal

Sat, Dec 30, 2006

Sinn Féin meeting/analysis:The ardfheis on policing will be
no cakewalk for Adams or McGuinness, writes Gerry Moriarty,
Northern Editor

Potentially momentous work on policing was done for sure at
the Great Southern Hotel at Dublin airport yesterday. We
have a prospective Sinn Féin ardfheis but the politicians
aren't there yet. The engine is running but this deal has
yet to fly.

It's down to Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley to get the St
Andrews Agreement airborne, but to achieve that they must
first deal with some tricky passengers. That involves
skilful leadership and nerve.

Jim Allister, for instance, the DUP member of the European
Parliament, is one of those determined to hijack the
chances of a deal by March. Allister was quick to appear on
BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme yesterday, insisting
a deal was "not possible" by the St Andrews March 26th
deadline for a return to full devolution.

Sinn Féin's commitment to policing could not be tested
between now and March 26th, he said. Sinn Féin must
encourage republicans to join the PSNI and as the next
intake of recruits was not till March, how, therefore,
could there be devolution in March? And the IRA army
council must go. And not only must republicans hand over
the killers of Robert McCartney but the legal process
leading to the convictions of McCartney's killers must be
concluded before there could be a prospect of devolution.

Most reasonable people would want McCartney's killers put
away but were the DUP to follow Allister's overall list of
demands and long-fingered timetable for sharing power with
Sinn Féin, then devolution would appear only a possibility
in the very distant future. His remarks raised the
question: does his rump of the party ever want to share

And then there was Martin Cunningham, a former Sinn Féin
councillor who resigned from the party in South Down after
he was deselected in the last Assembly elections.

On the same programme he was asked - as Sinn Féin leaders
such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have said in
recent days - if it was the "right thing to do" to move now
on policing. "It is the right thing to do if MI5 are
controlling you," said Cunningham.

Now for a republican, that's a pretty raw comment to make.
Cunningham obviously has history with the leadership but
such a bitter and incendiary remark was an indicator of
just how deep this issue runs. Add to that the attempt by
dissident republicans to sow as much internal republican
discord as they possibly can, and the uneasiness over
policing among many loyal Sinn Féin supporters, and it is
evident that this is no cakewalk for Adams and McGuinness.

So, to see this through, the DUP and Sinn Féin leaderships
must avoid outright rebellion. They must manage their
bases, and right now it would appear easier for Adams to
handle challenges from the likes of Cunningham than it is
for Paisley to manage a senior figure such as Allister -
not to mention some of the so-called Twelve Apostles, such
as MPs Nigel Dodds and the Rev William McCrea.

Part of the problem with yesterday's ardchomhairle is that
Sinn Féin would not tell us the wording of the motion that
will go before the January ardfheis, at least not until
party members are first informed.

Moreover, there will be no ardfheis without DUP

Yet, what Adams said last night about supporting the police
appeared positive and unambiguous.

Paisley jnr said yesterday that what was vital was "quality
delivery" from Sinn Féin on policing. He attempted to waltz
around Allister's statement that a deal was not possible by
March 26th but eventually said, "I am not ruling anything
in; I am not ruling anything out." That's shorthand for
saying this could still work.

Paisley has a strong argument in his armoury to counter his
internal opponents: if unionists reject a deal, with Sinn
Féin actually prepared to endorse the Police Service of
Northern Ireland, then what unionists will get will be Plan
B, a stronger role for Dublin in the affairs of Northern

The logic is with Paisley but passions often overrule
logic. Still, Paisley has never been short of nerve, and
neither has Adams, so this deal could yet get off the

© 2006 The Irish Times


Dissidents Target DUP Man For Assassination

[Published: Sunday 31, December 2006 - 13:02]
By Alan Murray

Dissidents republicans are plotting to assassinate a
leading DUP figure in a bid to derail a peace deal at

Police have been informed of the threat to the senior party
member from Real and Continuity IRA elements.

A security assessment has been conducted of the
politician's home and personal movements.

But fears remain that dissidents close to where the DUP man
lives have the personnel and weapons to launch an attack.

One senior party source said yesterday: "The PSNI has been
made aware of our concerns. It is now the chief constable's
responsibility to ensure that the information passed to his
force is fully evaluated."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein is considering January 26 as the date
for a special ard fheis to ratify the leadership's support
for policing. Senior DUP members said last night that they
didn't know the details of the commitments given by Downing
Street to Sinn Fein during intense negotiations over
Christmas - but there are concerns that Tony Blair has made
a deal with Martin McGuinness on a formula to resolve the
situation concerning IRA fugitives.

An earlier attempt to force legislation through the House
of Commons collapsed in the face of fierce opposition from
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said yesterday he was
unaware of the details of the package agreed with

He told Sunday Life: "I don't know what has been agreed
between the Government and Sinn Fein.

"But we do have a triple-lock mechanism that we can utilise
to block any arrangement that is unacceptable to the
unionist community."

No date has been set for the convening of the DUP executive
to discuss the proposals agreed between Sinn Fein and the
Government. Said one well-placed DUP source: "There
wouldn't be any point until we know a lot more about what
has been agreed.

"What you will find when our executive does meet, however,
is major emphasis being placed on the continuing existence
of the IRA's army council and its connection and personal
links with the Sinn Fein leadership."

Meanwhile, a founder member of the modern republican
movement last night challenged Gerry Adams to a public TV
debate on policing. Laurence O'Neill, who was jailed for
eight years in 1972 after he was caught with guns and
explosives, told how there was growing anger among
republicans over support for the PSNI.

The 62-year-old, from Glenravel, Co Antrim, who left Sinn
Fein earlier this month over the policing issue, accused
his former colleagues of " sacrificing" republican

Said Mr O'Neill: "In typical Sinn Fein doublespeak, Gerry
wants maximum consultation with the general public and on
that score I would challenge him to a public TV debate."

© Belfast Telegraph


I Will Reveal More UVF Touts: McCord

[Published: Sunday 31, December 2006 - 13:37]
By Stephen Breen

The crusading father of a loyalist murder victim last night
vowed to reveal the names of more informers within the UVF.

Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was battered to death
in 1997, says he will expose senior figures in the terror
group who also operated as agents.

It was Mr McCord's fight for justice that led to the
unmasking of notorious Mount Vernon UVF boss Mark Haddock
as a Special Branch informer.

Now the north Belfast man said he will publicly name
suspected agents - despite UVF death threats - after the
publication of the Police Ombudsman's report into his son's

Said Mr McCord: "I think now is the time for me to expose
the senior members of the UVF who directed murder and
committed murder while operating as Special Branch agents.

"These individuals know who they are and everyone knows
they have also acted as informers.

"I can stand over every claim that I make."

© Belfast Telegraph


Prison Files Destroyed Ahead Of Freedom Of Information Act

31/12/2006 - 10:17:24 AM

Prison authorities in the North destroyed 52,382 files in
the months before the Freedom of Information Act was

The data included prisoner records, policy notes and
medical logs and was disposed of before the January 2005
law making public bodies more transparent.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has been criticised for
destroying security files on hundreds of terrorist
prisoners held at the Maze.

"It seems to me almost in contempt of the FOI Act and it is
an extraordinary way to go about dealing with the new
dispensation in relation to accessing documentation," said
SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginnis.

"It shows a very narrow and secretive attitude amongst the
prison authorities and obviously it is regrettable that
they stooped to such an excessive measure such as
destroying a vast number of files."

An inquiry into the 1997 murder of LVF leader Billy Wright
in the Maze Prison heard in November how 800 files with
security information on terrorist prisoners released under
the Good Friday Agreement had been shredded.

Wright, 37, was shot dead by three INLA gunmen on December
27, 1997, and Lord MacLean's inquiry is probing how the
killers were able to target him in the high security

Some of the material disposed of is uncontroversial and
relates to medical and dental records. It is governed by a
destruction timetable outlining the period which files have
to be kept for.

The FOI was brought in to make public bodies more
accountable but opposition politicians and campaigners have
criticised shredding papers across government.

A Northern Ireland Association for the Care and
Resettlement of Offenders representative said paperwork
should be preserved.

"We would support people having access to information and
transparency and with the Prisons Ombudsman and the review
of criminal justice it is essential that this right is
protected," Siobohan O'Dwyer from NIACRO said.

"We want prisoners to be able to access information and we
support transparency in all government departments." The
Prison Service said its actions were governed by official

"All of the files were destroyed in line with disposal
schedules that were drawn up in consultation with PRONI.

"PRONI were also involved in the file review exercise which
was in line with rules and regulations contained in the
Public Records Act and the Section 46 Code of Practice on
the Management of Records under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000."

Inmates' files are normally destroyed six years after


Church Leaders In Tolerance Call

The leaders of Northern Ireland's four main churches have
called for an end to sectarianism and prejudice.

In a joint New Year message they asked people to pray to
help achieve this.

The Presbyterian moderator, the Reverend David Clarke, said
they hoped people will show tolerance for one another.

"It's very easy to look back and complain about one thing
or another - I think we want to look forward to a shared
future," he said.

"Where we recognise the equal rights of everyone in society
and respect for other people with whose political views we
may differ.

"I think it is a constructive attitude we want to encourage
- to look forward with hope for the future to build a
better society for all our people."

The statement - from Rev Clarke, Archbishop Robin Eames
(Church of Ireland) Archbishop Sean Brady (Catholic) and
Rev Ivan McElhinney (Methodist President) - said 2007 would
be a year of decision.

"The decisions we make will either take us forward into a
shared future with a mindset of moving forward together or
leave us in the past trapped by our grudges and
prejudices," they said.

"As Christians we believe our future is in God's hands and
we would ask people to join us in prayer seeking guidance
for ourselves, wisdom for our politicians and leaders and
for the good of all our fellow citizens.

"We ask everyone to reject those words, attitudes and
actions which fuel prejudice and sectarianism."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/31 10:10:57 GMT


British Misled Irish On SAS

31 December 2006 By Dr Rory Rapple

Newly-released British state papers from 1976 show that the
British government consistently misled Dublin about the
extent and duration of SAS involvement in the North.

Newly-released British state papers from 1976 show that the
British government consistently misled Dublin about the
extent and duration of SAS involvement in the North.

The British claimed that the SAS was first deployed in
1976, but material just released indicates otherwise. The
papers also cast a new light on the SAS’ role in training
members of a Special Reconnaissance Unit (SRU), which
carried out surveillance on loyalist and republican

1976 was a year marked by political sterility and sectarian
atrocity in the North. It proved to be the second-worst
year for casualties in the entire troubles, beginning with
an unprecedented intensification of sectarian tit-for-tat
killings in south Armagh. On January 4, five Catholics were
killed by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).This was
followed the next day by the murder of ten Protestant
workmen by IRA men operating as the ‘‘South Armagh
Republican Action Force’’.

In response, the British government - headed by Labour
prime minister Harold Wilson - announced that it was
sending emergency reinforcements to the county in the form
of a Spearhead Battalion and, more controversially, the
SAS. This was the first time that a British government had
publicly referred to the presence of the SAS in the North,
although Republicans had long claimed that the regiment had
been active on both sides of the border.

By May, the Garda in the Republic had arrested armed plain
clothes SAS members south of the border.

The 1976 state papers also disclose the disarray within the
British Labour government on its Northern policy. Wilson
began the year pessimistically by writing ‘‘an apocalyptic
note for the record’’. Only six copies of the note were
initially distributed. In it, he contemplated the courses
of action open to the British government if all policies to
do with the North failed. He paid particular attention to
what might happen if loyalists made a unilateral
declaration of independence.

Although he accepted that some link with the British
monarch - probably in the form of dominion status - would
remain, he was not sure that Queen Elizabeth would be
willing ‘‘to accept the headship of such an unruly mob,
[given] that they are loyal to no monarch, except a long
dead Dutchman’’. Wilson retired as prime minister in April
1976 and was replaced by James Callaghan.

Lines of communication remained open between the British
government and the Provisional IRA, which had been
nominally on ceasefire since March 1975. Previously
unreleased files indicate that the Provisional leaders in
1976 remained eager to end their campaign once they
received ‘‘a private indication of [British] intent to
withdraw from Ireland’’. They claimed that they would even
be happy to ‘‘contemplate a future loyalist government in a
six-county Ulster’’, as long as disengagement could be
discreetly assured ‘‘in due course’’.

Merlyn Rees, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland,
noted that the Provisional IRA leaders were getting
‘‘desperate’’ because of their increasing awareness that
the urban Catholic population did not support a ‘‘return to
all-out violence’’.

Rees believed that the Provos’ confusion was a direct
result of problems deliberately caused by the British

Although military capability in Derry and Belfast was
strong, public opinion was a disincentive to any return to

He noted that the main thrust of IRA activity was now in
rural areas, such as south Armagh. According to the minutes
of a meeting in February between Provisional Sinn Fein
president Ruairi O Bradaigh and a contact in the British
secret service, the Sinn Fein leader described the type of
violence increasingly being carried out by the IRA as
‘‘protective retaliation’’.

In the same month, Rees told the cabinet committee on
Northern Ireland that, although ‘‘the number of sectarian
murders had risen...they were a smaller threat to the
general peace of the province than the IRA bombing
campaigns of the past’’. He also indicated that co-
operation between the Garda and the RUC was now much closer
than ever before because ‘‘the Irish had been shaken by the
loyalists’ bomb attacks in the Republic, and fear of
further attacks had encouraged them to increase their
efforts on the border’’. Troop levels in the North reached
15,500, 2,200 of which were stationed in south Armagh.

The Provisionals’ attempts to step up their bombing
campaign in Britain during 1976 were particularly
unsuccessful, according to a secret Home Office paper
written in April.

Members of the new IRA bombing team were ‘‘inexpert bomb
makers’’, unlike the Balcombe Street gang which had been
apprehended by the police and the SAS the previous

Irish government outrage at continued contact between the
British government and the Provisional IRA was expressed at
a Dublin meeting between Merlyn Rees, Garret FitzGerald,
minister for defence Paddy Cooney and Conor Cruise O’Brien,
the minister for posts and telegraphs, on May 20.

Rees ‘‘emphasised that contact was less frequent than
generally assumed, but that it would be resumed if thought
necessary’’. Irish ministers countered that the IRA ‘‘were
in retreat and would suffer a major psychological blow if
Her Majesty’s government announced that contact would be
ended’’. While Rees ‘‘promised to bear their views in
mind’’, the minute taker noted that ‘‘he gave no ground’’.

Throughout 1976, especially following the collapse of the
constitutional convention in February, the Irish government
was particularly worried about the future of the SDLP once
the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) - which had 46 of
the convention’s 78 seats - decided to reject power-

Rees told the cabinet that the unionists were ‘‘adamant
that they could not share government with the SDLP, [not
only] because it had consistently commanded less than 25
per cent of the popular vote, [but] because it was
basically republican’’.

Comments made by UDA commander Andy Tyrie to Northern
Ireland Office (NIO) officials about Ian Paisley, then a
key member of the UUUC, were particularly blunt. Tyrie
claimed that Paisley would reject even the most basic
political arrangement involving any executive power for the
SDLP, preferring a ‘‘100 per cent Protestant government
with no minority representation’’.

Tyrie suggested that ‘‘Mr Paisley hated Catholicism, which
he thought of as a cancer destroying the fabric of the
country. He pitied Catholics and wanted to convert them
from their mistaken beliefs.”

He concluded that ‘‘Mr Paisley had no aspirations to
premiership [and] would always prefer to lead an
opposition, even with a devolved Protestant government’’.

Roy Mason, who replaced Rees as minister of state for
Northern Ireland in September, emerges as a militaristic
hardliner from papers dealing with his time as minister of
state at the Ministry of Defence.

He consistently agitated for authorisation for British
soldiers to use M79 grenade launchers to respond to attacks
from south of the border.

In a secret letter dated June 21 to foreign secretary Tony
Crosland, Mason argued that the use of the M79 ‘‘on the
Republic’s territory’’ should be authorised without
consulting the Irish government, whose ‘‘internal political
position may well prevent [them] from endorsing this

The eventual response from FCO minister of state Roy
Hattersley on July 9 to Mason’s request was measured. The
proposal, he suggested, had to be viewed in the light of
international law, which stipulated that fire could be
returned across a border only when those concerned had to
do so for their personal self-defence.

Even in those cases, no more than minimum force could be

Widely used by the US in Vietnam- it would later be
employed by the British in the Falklands - the M79, which
fired a 40mm high explosive projectile did not qualify as
‘‘an instrument of minimum force’’. Hattersley argued that
the use of the grenade launcher could not be concealed from
the Irish, even if the British wished to do so. He added
that it would only be a matter of time before an innocent
Irish citizen would be killed by the weapon, and all inter-
governmental co-operation on security matters would be put
in jeopardy. He questioned whether the army wanted to take
that risk.

Intriguingly, Hattersley advised that the best course of
action might be to wait to find out the views of the new
British ambassador, Christopher Ewart-Biggs, who had
already discussed the matter with the General Officer
Commanding in the North. Ewart-Biggs was assassinated 12
days later.

Mason also consulted prime minister Callaghan over the
recruitment of troops for a plain clothes Special
Reconnaissance Unit (SRU) which, according to his top
secret letter dated September 8, had been operating in
Northern Ireland since at least March 1974. Mason wanted
Callaghan to drop the ban which had previously prevented
ex-SAS members joining the SRU until they had been out of
the regiment for at least two years.

The SRU’s role, according to Mason, was ‘‘surveillance of
both republican and Protestant extremists’’, an area in
which it had amassed ‘‘much exceptionally valuable

Whether members of the SRU were actually used to infiltrate
paramilitary organisations is not explicitly stated, but
what is certain from Mason’s note is that the force was
always trained by the SAS.

Correspondence on this issue also indicates that the SAS
had been in the North for a lengthy period before January
1976. A query was raised on September 24 about the official
stance concerning the SAS presence in Northern Ireland
following any future withdrawal of the regiment, leaving
the SRU intact. JM Stewart, a senior civil servant at the
Ministry of Defence, suggested ‘‘that it might be
convenient to be able to claim, as before, that the SAS was
not deployed in the province’’.

1976 also saw the emergence of the Peace People, a movement
headed by Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams, which
protested against the level of armed violence in Northern
Ireland. Although this development was welcomed by the
British government as a sign that the Provisionals could be
losing their grip on the Catholic ghettoes throughout the
six counties, a resigned and cynical view of the movement

In an assessment by the British cabinet’s Joint
Intelligence Committee in September 1976, strong doubts
were expressed that the momentum behind the peace movement
could last for very long. ‘‘Not only is it weak in
organisation,” the report stated, ‘‘but there are signs
that other political bodies - notably the Official IRA, the
trade unions and the church, behind which the southern
government lurked - all want to climb on the bandwagon and
push each other off.”

In November 1976, the Joint Intelligence Committee noted
that the Provos were setting up a distinct ‘‘northern
command’’ to ensure greater co-ordination of operations in
the North. It was envisaged that the development ‘‘would
widen the division between the leadership in the south and
that in the North’’. At the same time, it was decided to
broaden the SAS’ area of operations to cover the whole of
the North.

In a secret letter to Fred Mulley, secretary of state at
the Ministry of Defence, Mason commented that ‘‘the
squadron [had] built up . . . a degree of mutual confidence
with the Special Branch of the RUC, which could be applied
to considerable advantage in other rural areas which are
currently more troublesome than south Armagh’’.

Although a contemporary position paper on the role of the
army in the North admitted ‘‘it [was] not possible to draw
any meaningful conclusions about the future course of
security policy’’, government policy tended towards
‘‘Ulsterisation’’, a scaling down of the army’s role, in
parallel with the expansion of operations by the RUC and

Dr Rory Rapple is a lecturer in history at University
College Dublin.


Files Reveal Paisley 'Threat' To Power-Sharing

Ian Paisley posed a greater threat to power-sharing
government in Northern Ireland in the 1970s than the IRA,
according to secret official files.

By:Press Association

A document released into the National Archives in Dublin
under the 30-year rule records a meeting between an Irish
government minister and then Conservative Party leader
Margaret Thatcher.

The memo, carrying a note attributing it to Ireland`s
Foreign Minister Garret FitzGerald, shows he told senior
Tories the political realities meant Mr Paisley was the
main obstacle to a settlement in October 1976.

It records his meeting with Mrs Thatcher and senior
colleagues aimed at encouraging British politicians to
publicly back power-sharing during a period of hardening
unionist attitudes.

It shows how Mrs Thatcher questioned the Irish minister on
why Northern Ireland`s politicians could not reach
agreement on a new model of government after the collapse
of the failed Sunningdale agreement.

"I said I thought the major problem was Paisley," the memo

"She (Mrs Thatcher) seemed extremely surprised at this,
though Whitelaw assented with my view.

"I said that while certainly the continued activities of
the IRA made it difficult for politicians in Northern
Ireland to reach agreement on joint government, this was
not in my view the main obstacle to agreement - the main
obstacle was Paisley because of his dominant position and
because of the fact that he had brought down successive
leaders of the Unionist Party who seemed willing to
compromise with the minority.

"His role in this respect could not be underestimated. We
all had made a great mistake in underestimating him at the
early stages of his emergence into the limelight."

The meeting followed hard-line comments by Conservative
spokesman on Northern Ireland Airey Neave that boosted
unionist hopes of a return to majority rule in Northern
Ireland should the Tory party come to power in Britain.

Mr Neave was killed in 1979 when a bomb planted by the INLA
exploded under his car, but the meeting to discuss his
comments in 1976 came after the Social Democratic and
Labour Party (SDLP) had raised the matter with the Irish

A separate document, also released under the 30-year rule,
records a meeting between Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, the
Foreign Affairs Minister and an SDLP delegation on
September 22 1976.

All those at the meeting expressed concerns that in the
face of unionist remarks opposing power sharing, the
British Labour government had failed to publicly recommit
itself to the policy.

The SDLP delegation expressed concerns that Mr Neave and
other senior Conservative Party figures were encouraging a
belief that a unionist-dominated regime could return to

The group discussed tactics which might encourage British
leaders to underline their support for power-sharing, with
the Taoiseach expressing fears of the likely impact of the
impending British general election.

It was agreed the issue should be brought to the attention
of the British government and its Opposition.

The document closes: "The Government were quite clear that
the situation could not be allowed to drift and the SDLP
could be fully assured that the assessment they had put
before the government would be considered very carefully


‘Security Forces Incapable Of Defeating The Provos’

Cabinet Papers – Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

“It seemed that the security forces were incapable of
defeating the Provos.”

This was the grim conclusion of senior Stormont officials
in December 1976 despite the abolition of special category
status for paramilitary prisoners and the emergence of the
peace people.

The issue of Special Category status dominated several
meetings of senior civil servants at Stormont during 1976.

At a meeting of officials on March 2, the permanent under
secretary at the Northern Ireland Office, Sir Frank Cooper,
warned that there were limited grounds for optimism on the
security front following the death of the IRA hunger
striker, Frank Stagg in Britain and the ending of special
category status for members of the IRA and loyalist groups.

In light of Cooper’s security assessment, his colleagues
discussed ‘the need to adhere firmly to the decision to end
special category status’ and to implement measures for the
security of government buildings.

On July 7, the Stormont committee discussed the level of
violence under the chairmanship of the new NIO permanent
under secretary, Mr B C Cubbon.

The minutes record the gravity of his assessment: “Any
admission by the government that it was unable effectively
to reduce the level of violence in the face of increasing
threats against community workers and businessmen could be
extremely dangerous. It had to be recognised that there was
a steady erosion of confidence and a diminution in the
stability of society.’

The permanent secretary at commerce, Mr Bell ref-erred to
press reports of shopkeepers being subject-ed to financial

It was suggested that these reports emanated from British
army sources. (This was to be the last meeting of the
committee attended by Brian Cubbon who was seriously wound-
ed in the IRA bomb explosion which assassinated the British
Ambassador to Ireland, Christopher Ewart-Biggs and a female
secretary at Sandyfort, Co Dublin on July 21 1976.)

At a final meeting of the committee on December 7 1976 the
pessimism of senior officials at the worsening security
situation was clear.

“It seemed that the security forces were incapable of
defeating the Provos. The only other answer lay in their
supporters growing weary of them,” according to the

The people of Northern Ireland were not really concerned at
the absence of devolved government but were interested in
better representation at Westminster.

The point was made that if direct rule ministers and the
secretary of state were to carry any real conviction with
the people of the north, “there was a need for them to
become less remote”.

The file contains a speech delivered to local journalists
by Roy Mason on November 26 1976 in which he said: “It is
often said that the English do not really understand the

“There is some truth in this, although it can equally be
said that the Irish do not always set a very good example
of understanding one another.”

He suggested that the time was ripe for devolution, given
the discussions on devolved government for Scotland and


‘Civil Rights/IRA Tag Was Wrong And Dangerous’

Cabinet Papers – Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

Tensions between the head of the RUC and the hardline
Stormont minister of home affairs, William Craig over the
handling of the historic Derry civil rights march of
October 5 1968 are revealed for the first time.

In a frank and honest memo to Craig, dated November 25 1968
– six weeks after the clashes between civil rights marchers
and the RUC on Craigavon Bridge – the Inspector General of
the force, Sir Albert Kennedy rejected official attempts to
project the Civil Rights Movement as an IRA front.

He pointed out that the movement enjoyed Unionist support
and warned that irresponsible statements by responsible
people were stirring opposition to peaceful marches which
might lead to ‘catastrophic’ conflict and loss of life in
the North.

In his memo from RUC Headquarters, Sir Albert express-ed
the view that the current unrest was likely to continue
until electoral reform was introduced.

He told the minister that he felt he should commit to
writing “the more important and serious features which
appear evident to me, so that consideration may be given,
at the highest level, to the kind of action necessary to
cope with the situation”.

The Inspector General strongly expressed his view that the
civil rights marches had no connection with the issue of
partition: “If it could be proclaimed that the old bogey of
partition plays no part in the present agitation (and this
is how I see it) and that the constitution is not in any
danger from those who are protesting, I feel that a great
deal of heat will disappear.

“In other words, if the “Orange v Green” atmosphere could
be dissipated, a happier state of affairs should emerge.

“Every effort should be made both publicly and privately
‘to educate those who are apprehensive, pointing out the
realities of the situation.”

Sir Albert told Mr Craig: “Police information indicates
that many professing Unionists support the protests and
that trouble emanates from a comparatively small minority
of people holding extremist views who, quite sincerely, see
a danger to the constitution which does not exist.” (Craig
had himself claimed that the IRA had been heavily involved
in the October 5 march.)

In conclusion, Sir Albert warned Mr Craig of the intrinsic
dangers in the situation now developing: “Unless there is a
marked change in the situation soon, I am afraid that the
small police force we have in Ulster will be up against the
problem of maintaining law and order unprecedented in the
history of the province, and one which they may find quite
impossible to cope with successfully.

“One could elaborate but I consider this unnecessary as the
dangers must be evident to anyone who is giving the matter
any degree of thought.”

The evident uneasy relationship between Sir Albert and the
minister of home affairs is underlined by a separate letter
sent by him to Mr Craig on November 22 1968 concerning the
minister’s decision to re-route a second civil rights march
planned by the Derry Citizens’ Action Committee for
Saturday, November 16.

Mr Craig had given the impression publicly that the
restrictions on the march had been proposed by the RUC.

The meeting with the minister was attended by, among
others, Sir Albert as Inspector General, his deputy,
Anthony Peacocke and County Inspector Kerr and District
Inspector McGimpsey from the Derry police.

Sir Albert was at pains to remind Mr Craig of the nature of
the discussion and the ultimate responsibility for the
decision to restrict the march: “Before going to your
office I was informed by Mr Peacocke that the Londonderry
police officers were of the opinion that the march should
be permitted to proceed along the full route proposed by
the organisers and at the beginning of the meeting in your
office they expressed the same views.

“You produced correspondence, including letters from the
Grand Orange Lodge and the Apprentice Boys, conveying the
strong views that the marchers should not be allowed
through the Unionist areas of Londonderry and you also
stated that you had other information intimating that there
would be strong opposition to the marchers being allowed
inside the ancient walls of Derry.

“All the police representatives stated that your
information put a different complexion on the matter, as it
now appears that opposition which the police had not
expected will be offered to the marchers. In view of what
you said, the police suggested that they should act under
the Public Order Act (1951) and re-direct the marchers
along a route which would keep them outside the walls.”

In conclusion, Sir Albert underlined Mr Craig’s
responsibility for the decision to re-route the march:
“From what I have said I think it is clear that the police
did not advise you to impose a ban or, indeed, to interfere
with the marchers at all but that, in the light of the
information in your possession, they accepted the line of
action ultimately decided upon.”

Mr Craig continued to attack the marches in a series of
public speeches and was sacked by the Unionist prime
minister, Captain Terence O’Neill on December 11 1968. Sir
Albert retired as Inspector General in 1969.


Civil Rights March Was Banned After Loyalist Made Threats
In ’69

Cabinet Papers – Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

Stormont fears at the likelihood of an attack on a civil
rights march at Burtollet in County Derry in April 1969
surfaces in files just released in Belfast. The concern
followed the infamous loyalist ambush of the People’s
Democracy ‘Long March’ in January 1969 at the same spot.

A note in the file records that, following notification of
the march, on April 17 1969, the Minister of Home Affairs,
Mr (now Sir) Robert Porter, QC, met senior RUC officers
including the Deputy Inspector General, County Inspector
Meharg and County Inspector Kerr. Mr Kerr reported that
opposition to the march was growing and that even moderates
in the area ‘were now saying that they had no control
whatever on the militant extremists who would be likely to
oppose the march.’ Whatever decision was taken, it would
require a force of some 400-500 police on the day.

The Minister met the RUC again on April 18 when he
expressed the view that there would be violent and serious
public disorder if the march were allowed to proceed.

This followed a meeting between the Minister of Home
Affairs and a deputation from the Grand Lodge of the Orange
Order, including Rev Martin Smyth and the Rev John Brown.
The deputation said that a meeting of the Grand Lodge had
decided to see the Minister on the dangers which would
arise if the NICRA march from Burntollet to Altnagelvin
took place.

‘They [the Orange delegates] expressed grave concern about
the feeling which was widespread throughout the country
that the government and RUC were allowing the Civil Rights
Movement to disrupt the life of the community and that
virtually no action was being taken against them, whereas
Protestants who were opposed to the desecration of the
province were being subjected to the rigours of the law. In
earlier years, there was an extremely good understanding
between the RUC and members of the community but this was
now coming to an end. Confidence had been broken and
serious consequences would result.

‘The time had come when the officers of the Orange Order
were no longer able to control the rank and file and they
feared there could be an uprising. The courts also appeared
to be biased against Protestants and attention was drawn to
the fact that Mr Austin Currie was fined only five pounds
for his squatting action in Caledon whereas Mr Paisley and
Major Bunting had their fines doubled when they appeared at
the County Court.’

Rev Smyth and Rev Brown were adamant that the proposed
march should be banned ‘and that if allowed to proceed,
there would undoubtedly be bloodshed’. ‘Due to events in
Derry city in recent weeks, local Protestant feeling was
reaching breaking point.’ At this point the Minister was
told that members of the deputation ‘had heard that
firearms would be used next day and there had been a
suggestion that petrol would be used as a method of

On the following day, April 19, 1969 (the file reveals), Mr
Porter met a deputation from the North Derry Civil Rights
Association at the request of the Foyle MP, Mr John Hume.

‘The Minister told them that information in his possession
indicated clearly that the march would be met with violent
physical opposition along the whole route and that the
police could not guarantee to give it full protection.’

Further coverage of the 1976 cabinet papers will appear in
Monday’s Irish News.


RUC Rejected Claims That It Led Marchers Into An Ambush At
Burntollet In 1969

Cabinet Papers – Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

The RUC strongly rejected claims by the former Mid Ulster
Westminster MP, Miss Bernadette Devlin (now McAliskey) that
the police had deliberately led the People’s Democracy
marchers on the famous ‘Long March’ from Belfast to Derry
into an ambush at Burntollet.

The march, modelled on the Selma-Montgomery march in
Alabama in 1966, had grown to several hundred strong when
it was attacked by about two hundred loyalists at
Burntollet bridge, near Derry.

The attackers, including off-duty members of the Ulster
Special Constabulary, used stones, bottles and iron bars to
attack the demonstrators; thirteen received hospital
treatment while the entry of the bloodied marchers into
Derry was to lead to further conflict.

The brutal attack and Miss Devlin’s allegations were the
subject of a memo from Inspector Bill Meharg, a senior
officer at RUC Headquarters in Belfast, to Mr J E Greeves,
an official at the Ministry of Home Affairs on February 19,

Meharg wrote: ‘It is entirely wrong for Miss Devlin to
imply that the marchers were deliberately led by the police
into an ambush at Burntollet.

The main organisers of the march were informed by the
police before they reached Burntollet of the dangers they
might encounter.

Michael Farrell, one of the organisers, using a loud
hailer, addressed the marchers and told them of the dangers
ahead. Notwithstanding this warning, it was unanimously
agreed to continue the march as planned.

At that time there would have been about six hundred in the
march and it was evident that they were prepared to protest
despite police warning.

Two police Land Rovers were in front of the procession. The
occupants of both vehicles dismounted and took up position
at the head of the parade.

Police flanked the marchers on the left side. Other police
were placed near the bridge and in a nearby field. A group
of civilians, who were opposed to the marchers, attempted
to block the roadway.

There was no great strength in this group which broke up
and dispersed as the police vehicles moved forward.

At this stage, police and marchers were subjected to a
fusillade of missiles from counter-demonstrators who
occupied fields on the right hand side of the marchers.

The front of the parade got through without difficulty.

The weight of the attack increased considerably. Counter-
demonstrators were now occupying fields on both sides of
the road. A petrol bomb exploded near the rear of the

This created confusion and panic among the marchers, many
of whom ran off in various directions.

Police assisted in marshalling whatever marchers were on
the road and getting them on the way towards Londonderry.’

In Meharg’s view, it was wrong for Miss Devlin to allege
that the front line of the police had run through the
barrage of stones when they should have stayed behind to
protect the marchers.

‘Due to the action taken by police, the front part of the
parade got through reasonably safely. The escort police
drew their batons and charged the attackers, otherwise
greater danger and injury would have been experienced by
the marchers.’

As soon as active opposition was encountered at Burntollet,
the occupants of two police tenders had dismounted and
‘gave all the assistance possible’ to the civil rights

Later that evening, members of the RUC entered the Bogside
and in the words of the Cameron Commission, ‘were guilty of
misconduct which involved assault and battery, malicious
damage to property & and the use of provocative sectarian
and political slogans.’


Fitt Shunned Dinner Over SAS Gaffe

Cabinet Papers – Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Eamon Phoenix

The former SDLP leader, Gerry Fitt – who died in 2005 –
failed to turn up at a dinner party at Stormont 30 years
ago because he was embarrassed over a highly public gaffe
concerning the SAS.

The story is contained in a report of a dinner party at
Stormont House, attended by the leading SDLP figures, John
Hume, Austin Currie and Paddy Devlin, and the Secretary of
State, Merlin Rees, on January 8 1976.

On their arrival, Mr Currie apologised for the absence of
Fitt who was, he said, depressed about recent developments
and particularly unhappy with the British government’s
decision to put the SAS into Armagh.

According to Mr Currie, Mr Fitt interpreted this decision
as having been taken in the light of threats made by the
loyalist paramilitaries at their meeting with Mr Rees two
days earlier.

According to the report of the dinner table discussion
recorded by Robert Ramsay, a government official, the SDLP
were generally pessimistic about the political climate in
the aftermath of the Co Armagh shootings though they urged
the secretary of state not to be unduly impressed by the
UUUC’s recent hardline stance on both security and the
impossibility of accepting the SDLP into government.

They reminded Mr Rees that such sabre-rattling always
preceded a major set-piece government statement.

The SDLP feared that the combined influence of Dr Paisley
and Ernest Baird would make it extremely difficult to bring
the convention to a constructive conclusion.

On policing, the SDLP said their policy about support for
the RUC was greatly misunderstood, especially by the
Protestant population.

Their party position was that they encouraged the
population to help the police, eg with information, to put
down all categories of crime; however, support – in terms
of encouraging recruitment – in the ultimate sense of the
word would only come from the Catholic community when that
community could identify with the institutions of the state
and its government.

That was not just party politics but a statement of a fact
of life.

In private conversation with Mr Ramsay after dinner, Mr
Hume shed interesting light on Gerry Fitt’s surprising
absence from the function.

“Mr Hume said that the real reason for Mr Fitt’s absence
from the dinner was that he was licking his wounds after
his statement comparing the SAS to the CIA.

“This had brought ridicule from outside down upon the party
and many of their own supporters had been complaining that
they could not take this statement seriously.”


Police Found A Suspect For Ambassador’s Murder

Cabinet Papers – Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Gavin Cordon

Police hunting the IRA gang which blew up Britain’s
ambassador to Ireland identified a possible suspect,
according to official papers made public yesterday.

No-one was charged with the killing of Christopher Ewart-
Biggs who was murdered on July 21 1976 outside his official
residence in Dublin just 12 days after taking up his post.

However, files released to the National Archives in Kew,
west London, under the 30-year rule show that the Garda did
find a fingerprint at the scene which was thought to belong
a suspect involved in smuggling arms from America.

Mr Ewart-Biggs, who wore a distinctive tinted monocle
covering an eye which he lost in the Battle of El Alamein,
died when his official car hit a landmine just yards from
his residence.

Judith Cooke, a civil servant in the Northern Ireland
Office, was also killed in the explosion. The NIO permanent
secretary, Brian Cubbon, and the driver, Brian O’Driscoll,
were both seriously injured.

The files show that three months after the attack the
Republic’s foreign minister Garret FitzGerald passed a note
to his British counterpart Tony Crosland during a European
Council meeting in Brussels disclosing the discovery of the

“The person in question is a person who is being sought by
the Gardai for questioning in connection with a recent
attempt to send in a (small) quantity for arms from the USA
which he recently visited,” Mr FitzGerald wrote.

“In that context the RUC at the request of the Gardai have
been looking out for him for some weeks, as the indications
are that he has left the USA and returned to Ireland, and
very probably to Northern Ireland.”

Mr FitzGerald added that although the fingerprint was of
poor quality,
it may be good enough to be accepted in court, although it
was unlikely to be sufficient to secure a conviction
without other supporting evidence.

Mr Crosland wired details of Mr FitzGerald’s note to the
British Embassy in Dublin where diplomats confirmed that
they had also been informed of the find.

In their reply to London, the embassy emphasised that they
had been warned by the Gardai that the print was of such
poor quality they could not be certain whether it was a
handmark or a fingerprint.

“The Gardai may well have to place a lot of weight on the
only possible corroborative evidence available to them,
which would be personal identification by the main witness
[an ex-soldier called Willis],” the embassy said.

It is unclear from the files whether any attempt was ever
made to arrest or question the suspect.

Files released from the National Archives in Dublin reveal
that senior government figures from both Ireland and London
talked about the possibility of the murdered ambassador’s
widow succeeding him.

Shirley Williams, a Downing Street cabinet minister at the
time, discussed the idea with Conor Cruise O’Brien, then
the Republic’s minister for posts and telegraphs, at a
memorial service in London.

Mr Cruise O’Brien wrote to Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave stating
that Ms Williams asked him if it would be a welcome
appointment in the Republic.

“I told her that Mrs Ewart-Biggs had aroused not merely
sympathy but great admiration in Ireland, and that I
believed the general public's response to such an
appointment would be favourable,” he stated.

“I indicated that I was giving her an off-the-cuff answer
to her question and that I was in no way to be taken as
speaking for the government here, in whose hands in any
case the decision did not lie.”

Mr Cosgrave replied that he had noted the matter, adding:
“No doubt you have also mentioned the inquiry to Garret

The Irish government papers also uncovered indecision on
whether to offer a full state removal for the assassinated

A memo from the taoiseach's office notes: “We do not know
yet whether it would be appropriate or desirable for the
taoiseach or other members of the government to attend at
Baldonnel (airport) when the remains are being removed.”

In the event, Mrs Ewart-Biggs asked for a private removal


Browne Warned Paisley And Cruise O’Brien About IRA Murder

31 December 2006 By Kieron Wood

Journalist Vincent Browne has said that he warned
Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley and a former
Irish government minister of IRA plots to kill them.

Journalist Vincent Browne has said that he warned
Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley and a former
Irish government minister of IRA plots to kill them.

According to British state papers released last week, the
nature of Browne’s contacts with the Provisional IRA were
queried by acting British ambassador John Hickman in 1976,
during a meeting at Iveagh House in Dublin.

Hickman said the British had ‘‘heard rumours that [Browne]
had, or claimed to have, inside knowledge of past
Provisional actions which he should have made available to
the Irish authorities’’.

The civil servant in charge of Anglo-Irish relations at the
Department of Foreign Affairs suggested that Browne had
cooperated with the IRA ‘‘to a degree which went well
beyond the legitimate contacts of a journalist’’.

However, Browne has denied the charges. He said he never
had any information about the IRA that he should have made
available to the authorities, and he did not cooperate with
the IRA beyond his role as a journalist.

‘‘I did at times have information which I felt I should
relay to the authorities and, when this occurred, I did
that,” said Browne.

‘‘In 1974 or 1975, I became aware of IRA plans to
assassinate Conor Cruise O’Brien, then Minister for Posts
and Telegraphs.

‘‘As had been the case when previously I had become aware
of IRA plans to murder someone, I felt the normal
journalistic requirements of confidentiality could not

He met Cruise O’Brien in his office at the GPO on O’Connell
St and told him that he was aware, from an
‘‘authoritative’’ source, of an IRA plan to kill him. ‘‘I
did not cite that source, but made it clear that I believed
the plan to be real and imminent,” he said.

Browne said he also became aware of IRA plans to kill
someone on two other occasions.

One involved an IRA ambush in west Belfast. He told the
British army press office about it, and told the IRA he had
informed the British, to avoid a counter-ambush.

‘‘The other case involved IRA plans to kill Ian Paisley in
1980. I passed on this information through a diplomat
friend, who is now deceased,” said Browne.


Opin: Sinn Féin And NI Policing

Sat, Dec 30, 2006

What was implicit in signing up to the Belfast Agreement
almost nine years ago would seem now to have come to pass.
The ardcomhairle of Sinn Féin supported the recommendation
of its president, Gerry Adams, yesterday to hold an
ardfheis next month to support policing in Northern
Ireland. This is, indeed, a seismic development. Once
republicans cross the policing Rubicon, there really can be
no turning back.

Yet, it is wise to proceed, on the basis of past
performance, with caution. There must be an understanding
that the latest intensive negotiation has been
multilateral, extending beyond Downing Street and Sinn Féin
to include the Democratic Unionist Party. That would mean
that there are none of the infamous "side-bar" deals about
which the SDLP has frequently complained in the past. A
fudge, on this occasion, would be capable of surprising a
nervous unionist leadership and ditching the hopes
dramatically raised by Mr Adams' welcome statement. It will
not work.

Our Northern Editor, Gerry Moriarty, observed yesterday
that "for this to work ... Dr Paisley must follow an
unwritten but clearly understood script". In peace process
terms, there must be a choreography.

It is significant that the DUP leader did not depart from
the script of the St Andrews Agreement in vowing to test
"in word and deed" any republican commitment to support the
PSNI while encouraging their constituents likewise to co-
operate with the police and uphold the decisions of the
courts. Dr Paisley will be expected to agree to the latest
compromise proposal on the devolution of policing and
justice powers. It would seem this would defer the prospect
of a DUP or Sinn Féin justice ministry until at least 2011,
while enabling the St Andrews target for transfer of powers
by May 2008.

This will be too much for those in the DUP who remain
against any deal. It will be painful for those, like MPs
Gregory Campbell and Nigel Dodds, who appear to favour an
accommodation but would prefer to await the appointment of
Tony Blair's successor.

After a lifetime of playing opposition politics, however,
and denouncing all compromises, it is not difficult to
understand the nervousness of many in the DUP. For all of
their protestations to the contrary, they are following a
similar path to the Ulster Unionists under David Trimble in
seeking to secure the future of Northern Ireland within the
United Kingdom while at the same time ensuring that the
constitutional alternative, a united Ireland, is pursued by
purely peaceful means.

Yet, as our London Editor, Frank Millar, has opined often,
in staking his position on the policing issue, Dr Paisley
has raised the prospect of a prize which eluded Mr Trimble,
one of the original architects of the Belfast Agreement. If
Sinn Féin delivers, then the DUP should seize it.

© 2006 The Irish Times


Hoax Bomb Threat Forces Jet To Land In Shannon

31/12/2006 - 15:30:53

A transatlantic jet has made an emergency landing at
Shannon Airport following a hoax bomb threat.

The plane was en-route from New York to Athens with 182
passengers, including the Greek transport minister, and 12
crew when it landed at 4.20am this morning.

It followed two phone calls to Athens airport claiming
there was a bomb on board.

Gardaí said nothing suspicious was found during a thorough
search and the plane continued its journey shortly before


Storms Batter Irish Coastline

31/12/2006 - 14:04:53

Storm force winds of up to 80mph were today battering the
Irish coastline.

Met Éireann has issued a weather warning as south-westerly
winds reach strong gale to storm force today on all coasts
of Ireland and on the Irish Sea.

Winds are expected to reach violent storm force at times.

The west of Ireland, including Galway city and county, has
already experienced a violent thunderstorm and storm force
winds, with high waves, hailstones and torrential rain
flooding in low-lying areas.

Sea crossings have been affected by the violent winds, with
all Stena Line and Irish Ferries sailings cancelled.

Motorists are warned to be aware of debris on the roads.

Joanna Donnelly, forecaster with Met Éireann, said gusts of
78mph have already been recorded with higher winds expected
within the next few hours.

"Winds are currently reaching their peak," she said. "But
towards nightfall and in to tonight it will ease off."

Tonight will be cold and windy, with clear spells and
scattered heavy showers, some with hail and possibly

Tomorrow will be cold and windy, with sunny spells and
showers. Some of the showers will be heavy and possibly
thundery, with sleet or snow possible over high ground.


New Ross To Erect JFK Statue Next Year

Michael Parsons
Sat, Dec 30, 2006

More than 40 years after John F Kennedy's historic visit to
Co Wexford, New Ross is to commemorate the event by
erecting a statue of the late American president.

The sculpture will be unveiled next year during
celebrations to mark the 800th anniversary of the town
receiving a "royal charter" in 1207. New Ross Town Council
has commissioned the work as a permanent reminder of one of
the highlights of JFK's four-day Irish trip.

On June 27th, 1963, he visited the Kennedy ancestral home
in the townland of Dunganstown and addressed the people of
New Ross on the quayside.

An arboretum dedicated to his memory was established the
year after his assassination on the slopes of Slieve
Coillte, south of New Ross. The 600-acre park, which was
formally opened by Éamon de Valera in 1968, contains 4,500
species of trees and shrubs from all five continents.

Both the arboretum and the homestead at Dunganstown have
become tourist attractions, especially for American
visitors to the region, but there is no memorial to JFK in
the town of New Ross.

Town clerk Gerard Mackey says officials are examining
submissions from artists for the statue in response to a

New Ross 800 will be launched at ceremonies tomorrow.

© 2006 The Irish Times

To Subscribe to Irish Aires Google News List, click
To Unsub from Irish Aires Google News List, click
For options visit:

Or join our Irish Aires Yahoo Group, Click

To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click
(Paste into a News Reader)

To December Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
To Searches & Sources of Other Irish News
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?