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December 22, 2006

Nothing Personal Peter; You Just Screwed Up (Again)

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 12/22/06 Nothing Personal, Mr Hain, But It's Unlawful
BT 12/22/06 The £200m Costs of Inquiries
IN 12/22/06 Legal Victory Over Inquiry
BT 12/22/06 Father Of Billy Wright Wins Legal Challenge
BT 12/22/06 Ombudsman Report Extremely Critical of Special Branch
BN 12/22/06 Talks Continue Aimed At Breaking Deadlock
IT 12/22/06 All Eyes On Sinn Féin After Policing Talks
SF 12/22/06 Kelly - Welcome For SDLP U-Turn On MI5
UT 12/22/06 DUP Hardliner Says Deadlines Can Not Be Reached
UT 12/22/06 SDLP Slam DUP And SF For Playing Games
BT 12/22/06 Stone Remanded In Custody Over Stormont Incident
IN 12/22/06 SF McLaughlin Fights For Seat In Antrim
IN 12/22/06 McDougall’s Fate To Be Decided In New Year
BT 12/22/05 Role Of Ulster Cash In Exposure Of ‘The Boss’
BB 12/22/06 New Move In Nomadic's Restoration
UT 12/22/06 New TV Scheme For Ex-Pats


Nothing Personal, Mr Hain, But It's Unlawful

[Published: Friday 22, December 2006 - 12:19]
By Chris Thornton

Peter Hain didn't just have another bad day in court
yesterday. Chris Thornton reports on how the latest ruling
against him may have consequences for a controversial law

In this season of good will, it must be of some comfort to
Peter Hain to learn that the judiciary don't have it in for

While adding to the tally of bad days in court for Mr Hain
yesterday, Mr Justice Deeny made a point of letting the
Secretary of State know that the latest ruling against him
was nothing personal.

The High Court decision against Mr Hain's handling of the
Billy Wright Inquiry "does not involve a personal criticism
of the decision maker," the judge said. "There was no
question of bad faith here."

The fact that the judge felt it necessary to point that out
may be a reflection of Mr Hain's bad run in court recently.

The High Court has ruled that he acted illegally in
appointing the Victims Commissioner.

Then the Attorney General was forced to institute a review
to find out if Mr Hain and his officials conspired to
pervert the course of justice in that case - a charge he

And the House of Lords recently decided to look again at
his decision to put Orangemen onto the Parades Commission.

In the latest case, Mr Justice Deeny ruled that Mr Hain had
illegally changed the legal basis of the inquiry into the
murder of LVF leader Billy Wright (which is itself proving
to be an additional legal embarrassment for the NIO).

While the judge was careful about his criticism, saying Mr
Hain had been badly advised, his judgment could create more
headaches for the Secretary of State than some of the other
black marks against him.

The ruling has returned focus to the Inquiries Act, one of
the most controversial laws of recent years - and
incidentally one that Radio 4 listeners were considering
this morning as one of the laws they would most like to
repeal, as part of the Today programme's Christmas Repeal

It is also central to the stand-off between the Government
and the family of Pat Finucane over the public inquiry into
the solicitor's murder.

The Inquiries Act was rushed through Parliament last year,
just before the general election.

The Government says it gives inquiries greater powers and
makes it easier for Ministers to prevent a repeat of the
Bloody Sunday inquiry's massive bill.

Critics say it gives the Government greater secrecy powers,
including over the content of an inquiry's final report,
and hampers the independence of an inquiry. Senior judges
on three continents have joined those raising doubts about
the law.

It was notable that at the time the law was passed, the
Government had set up three of its four promised collusion
inquiries; the inquiry in Mr Finucane's murder was
deliberately held back until the law could be passed.

Since its passage, the Finucane family has refused to
cooperate with the proposed inquiry, and the Government has
been unable to find a chairman.

The Billy Wright inquiry was originally set up under the
Prisons Act, since the loyalist leader had been murdered in
the Maze Prison. But earlier this year, inquiry chairman
Lord MacLean asked for the legal basis to be converted to
the Inquiries Act.

Mr Hain agreed, but David Wright, the LVF leader's father,
objected. He said he believed the Government was trying to
use his son's case to make the law seem more acceptable for
the Finucane inquiry.

In upholding David Wright's case yesterday, Mr Justice
Deeny said Mr Hain hadn't taken account of a new power he
was handing himself when he brought the Inquiries Act into
the Wright case.

Section 14 of the new law gives the Secretary of State the
power to stop the inquiry at a time of his choosing - and
the judge noted that there is very little anyone, including
the courts, could do about it.

He said that power was unprecedented in the law. In the
meantime, the Billy Wright Inquiry is up in the air. Mr
Justice Deeny hasn't yet ruled on a remedy, so it's not
clear what the legal basis for the inquiry will be.

The judge can't repeal the Act any more than today's radio
poll. But by highlighting the notion that the Secretary of
State can stop an inquiry if he doesn't like where it's
heading, he's handed the Finucane family an advantage in
their dispute with the Government. Mr Hain may not be
finished in the courts yet.

c Belfast Telegraph


The œ200m Inquiries Bill

[Published: Friday 22, December 2006 - 08:51]
By Chris Thornton

The costs of Bloody Sunday and new collusion inquiries are
skyrocketing towards œ200m, in spite of Treasury warnings
to rein in spending.

According to the latest Government figures, the Bloody
Sunday inquiry has risen by œ2m in the past four months -
hitting œ174m - even though it is no longer holding

And the inquiries into the murders of Rosemary Nelson,
Billy Wright and Robert Hamill have reached a combined cost
of more than œ19.5m before their full hearings have even

Two of those inquiries - concerning collusion in the
murders of Mrs Nelson and Robert Hamill - have already cost
more than the full inquiry into the racist murder of black
teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The latest cost figures were released just before the High
Court in Belfast ruled Secretary of State Peter Hain had
illegally applied a law which also allows him to cap
payments to lawyers in the inquiries.

The ruling, on the Billy Wright inquiry, was not directly
concerned with the costs, but it could have repercussions
in that area. Mr Hain had already used the controversial
Inquiries Act to cap payments to lawyers involved in the
case, but the High Court ruled against the wider use of the
Act - allowing a minister to terminate the inquiry at any
point - in the Wright case yesterday.

The Secretary of State has also announced he intends to put
the same cap on fees in place for the Robert Hamill

Earlier this year, the Treasury complained to Mr Hain about
the rising cost of the inquiries, saying there should be a
limit of œ50m. He said their combined cost is already
almost œ20m. The Rosemary Nelson inquiry has cost œ8.1m
pounds, including œ1.8m in legal costs. Full hearings will
begin next September.

Costs of the Robert Hamill inquiry have broken œ7.4m,
including œ2.2m in legal costs. It has been postponed until
a legal battle about the anonymity of police officers is

The Billy Wright inquiry has been the cheapest so far, with
costs hitting œ3.9m, including legal fees of œ1.5m.

That inquiry had been scheduled to begin full hearings in
the Spring, but yesterday's High Court ruling could delay
it. The landmark inquiry into the Lawrence murder cost an
estimated œ4.2m.

The latest figures also show the cost of the Bloody Sunday
inquiry rose by œ2m over the past four months. At the end
of August, the Government put the cost at œ172m. This week
Mr Hain said it has cost œ174m.

The original cost estimate was œ100m, and two years ago the
Government thought the final costs would be œ155m. The
inquiry is no longer conducting hearings. Lord Saville, who
heads the tribunal, has indicated it will be another year
before he issues the inquiry's report.

Mr Hain revealed the latest figures in response to a
written question for his parliamentary private secretary,
Welsh MP Chris Ruane, who helps Mr Hain in his role as
Welsh Secretary.

Mr Hain told his aide the Government has "worked with the
inquiries to put in place a number of measures to ensure
that, while they have the resources necessary to fulfil
their task, costs are kept to a reasonable level".

c Belfast Telegraph

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, secretary of state
Peter Hain responded to complaints about the escalating
cost of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry by referring to a
statement made by his predecessor Paul Murphy which
insisted the "inquiry must run its course if it is to be
fair to individuals and if the truth is to emerge".


Legal Victory Over Inquiry

By Staff Reporter

The father of murdered LVF leader Billy Wright won a
landmark ruling yesterday over how the inquiry into his
son's killing is to be conducted.

Mr Justice Deeny ruled in the High Court that secretary of
state Peter Hain acted unlawfully when he changed the
nature of the inquiry to a system which enables the state
to keep evidence secret.

The inquiry was initially set up under the Prisons Act -
Billy Wright, pictured, was shot dead in the Maze in 1997 -
but Mr Hain later converted it to be held under the
Inquiries Act 2005 after it was rushed through Parliament.

Despite the ruling, the future form of the inquiry has
still to be determined as the judge said he would give
lawyers time to study his 40-page judgment before deciding
on the appropriate remedy to be granted to 72 year-old Mr

Mr Justice Deeny held that Mr Hain failed to take into
account the important and relevant consideration that the
independence of such an inquiry was compromised by Section
14 of the 2005 Act which gives a government minister power
to terminate the inquiry at any time.

He said Mr Hain was wrongly advised that an equivalent
power existed under the Prisons Act.

The judge said that as the decision-maker, Mr Hain did not
direct himself nor did he have called to his attention,
"the novel and unrestricted power given to him and his
successors as ministers in a Northern Ireland

"A wholly new power exists under Section 14 inconsistent
with past law and practice."

But the judge made it clear that he was not personally
criticising Mr Hain.

"There was no question of bad faith here. He ought to have
been advised, at the least, that there was a seriously
contentious issue relating to the powers under Section 14."

The judge described the power to terminate an inquiry as
"untrammelled" and said it would be difficult for a party
aggrieved by the decision to challenge it by way of
judicial review because parliament had left such a wide
discretion to the minister.

The Wright inquiry, along with others into the murders of
Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill, was set up
following an investigation by retired Canadian judge Peter
Cory into allegations of collusion by agents of the state.


Father Of Billy Wright Wins Legal Challenge

[Published: Thursday 21, December 2006 - 15:22]

The father of murdered loyalist killer Billy "King Rat"
Wright has won a legal challenge to the British government
over the rules governing the inquiry into his murder.

London had tried to hold the inquiry under new laws
restricting the independent of public inquiries but the
court has ordered against the move.

The British government had ruled the inquiry into how Billy
Wright was murdered in jail at Christmas nine years ago
should be held under the new Inquiries Act.

That would mean London could halt the inquiry at any stage
and could restrict what evidence revealed in public.

In court today, a judge ruled that although there was no
evidence that the Northern Secretary, Peter Hain, had acted
from an improper motive, he had acted unlawfully.

He said Mr Hain had underestimated the importance of the
inquiry being independent and had been ill-advised.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ombudsman Report On Special Branch Is 'Extremely Critical'

[Published: Friday 22, December 2006 - 12:17]
By Brian Rowan

A date has been set for the publication of a damning report
on the Special Branch's handling of the loyalist agent Mark

The report by the Police Ombudsman will be published on
January 21, senior sources have told the Belfast Telegraph.
A hotel has been booked for a news conference on the same

The report follows the biggest and longest investigation
ever undertaken by the Ombudsman's office after a complaint
by Raymond McCord relating to the UVF murder of his son -
Raymond McCord junior in 1997.

Mr McCord believes Special Branch agents inside the UVF -
including Mark Haddock - were involved in the killing.

According to a senior source the report by the Police
Ombudsman will be " extremely critical" of the Special

"It's about the lack of management control of informers and
the implications of that," the source told this newspaper.

In presenting a context, the report will look wider than
the McCord killing and at more than one informer.

There will be two documents, a private report of around 200
pages which goes to the Chief Constable, the Secretary of
State and the Policing Board, and a public report of around
100 pages.

It will not name Haddock - a former senior UVF figure in
Mount Vernon in north Belfast - but he is the informer, the
covert human intelligence source, under the spotlight in
this report.

The UVF attempted to murder Haddock in May while he was out
on bail. He has since been jailed for an attack on a
nightclub doorman.

A senior police source with knowledge of Haddock's agent
role described the Special Branch's handling of the
informer as "unforgivable".

How bad was it? "Off the Richter scale," is the response.

The source is convinced that Haddock was involved in
murders. The report of the Police Ombudsman will contain
recommendations, but no detail of these is being made
public at this stage.

In an interview with this newspaper in late August, the UVF
leadership said its "internal security section" was
standing by and waiting for the document to emerge.

The UVF will read in it what it already knows - that a
senior figure in its organisation was also working for the
Special Branch.

The murky tale of UVF informer Haddock

IT will be another of those moments when Special Branch's
past collides with the policing present.

We now know the date ? January 21, and we know the story.

It's the stuff of the dirty war - the Special Branch,
agents and murder - puppets and strings, all tangled in a
mixed-up, murky world.

The loyalist, who is the principal character in the report
that is to be published by the Police Ombudsman, is Mark

He was a member of the UVF, and a Special Branch informer.

Loyalists tried to murder him in May while he was on bail.
He survived and was jailed for an attack on a nightclub

The Ombudsman started investigating Mark Haddock after a
complaint from Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond jnr was
murdered by the UVF.

Mr McCord believes agents working for the Special Branch
were involved.

The report published next month looks wider than Haddock
and the McCord murder. It has to, to tell the whole story.

Its context will bring in other killings and other
informants, and it will look at "the lack of management
control of informers and the implications of that".

The source didn't expand. He didn't need to. We all know
what is meant by implications - that an agent, or agents,
participated in murder.

Haddock is no longer an informer - what is called a covert
human intelligence source.

He has been struck off or de-activated to use the proper

When? The report next month might answer that question.

And there is another question. Who is going to carry the
can for this?

Those who are part of the policing present will have to
implement whatever recommendations come with the
Ombudsman's report. But Haddock was run by another regime,
not by the one now in place.

No one who was involved with him is currently working
within the police intelligence system.

What Hugh Orde will stress is the "root and branch review
of informant handling", the review of informants and the
"decommissioning" of some, "new management" and "tighter

The chief constable won't need the report of the Ombudsman
to tell him how bad things were. He will know, because he
will have read the Haddock file.

It will have been one of his first acts when he became
chief constable in 2002, and, even before then, he'd seen
the stuff of the dirty war as part of the Stevens
investigation into the murder of the Belfast solicitor Pat
Finucane - a killing involving not one agent but many.

Sir Hugh Orde's dilemma is how to respond to the report
that is coming to his desk.

How close will he come to saying it wasn't on his watch,
and how close will he come to pointing the finger at

A senior police source, speaking to this newspaper
described the Special Branch's handling of Haddock as

The chief constable won't try to defend what happened. He
can't and wouldn't want to.

Who let it happen? Who couldn't see what was going on? Who
wasn't looking?

Why has it taken another investigation - the biggest and
longest ever undertaken by the Ombudsman's team - to open
up another can of worms?

How many more Mark Haddock-type cases are there?

What was he paid for?

Some time ago, someone with knowledge of the Ombudsman
investigation told me that it would point to an
institutional lack of control in relationships between
handlers and agents.

He wasn't suggesting that those precise words would be
used, but he was pointing to what had been found.

Another source reckons the above description is "too kind".

What about the UVF? It also knows what's coming.

The leadership of that organisation, in an interview with
this newspaper in August, said its "internal security
section" was standing by and waiting for the document. But
in the waiting, the UVF has been piecing its own jigsaw

It knows that Haddock was an agent, but it maybe doesn't
know for how long.

It knows he did damage to the organisation, but it maybe
doesn't know how much.

Inside the loyalist group there will be those who will want
to know why it took so long to find him out.

It's the same everywhere and in every organisation when
these types of stories emerge.

Questions are asked and suspicion falls on others. This
case will be no different.

Haddock was not the only informer inside the UVF.

The group's leadership will tell you that had they known -
had they had proof that Haddock was an agent before he went
to jail - they would have had him killed. Somebody tried
that in May. Haddock wasn't meant to survive.

Now pages and pages of fine detail are about to emerge. The
report won't name Haddock, but everybody knows it's him.
He's no longer a secret of a dirty war. He's out in the
open now.

From inside the old Special Branch you'll be told that
Haddock saved lives. But how many did he take, and who
knew? Who will answer those questions?

c Belfast Telegraph


Talks Continue Aimed At Breaking Deadlock In The North

22/12/2006 - 08:12:43

Behind-the-scenes talks are continuing in an effort to
break the political deadlock in the North.

Sinn F‚in maintains that it needs a definitive timetable
for the devolution of policing and justice but the DUP has
dismissed the request as implausible, because a date
depends on certain circumstances being met.

The Northern Secretary Peter Hain is confident that the
target date of May 2008 for the devolution of policing and
justice can be met.

"I have every expectation now that that will be the case,
that there's full support for policing and the rule of law
and justice right across the parties, from the DUP to Sinn
F‚in, given that that will be the case and that it'll need
a bit of time to bed down, and I think that the target date
of May 2008 is achievable," he said.


All Eyes On Sinn F‚in After Policing Talks

Patrick Logue

All eyes are on Sinn F‚in today to see if Gerry Adams will
call the meeting of the party's national executive to
discuss the contentious issue of policing.

Sinn F‚in, the Democratic Unionist Party and negotiators
from Dublin and London have been involved in an intensive
round of talks to find a way through the impasse over the
issue before Christmas.

The purpose of the talks has been to persuade Mr Adams to
set in motion his party's process for changing policy on
the PSNI.

The negotiations which have focused on the timeframe for
the transfer of policing and justice powers from
Westminster to Stormont, were intensive and went into the
night last night.

The ardcomhairle which will require a two-thirds majority
if it is to call an ardfheis next month on policing.

Mr Adams has insisted that if he is to summon the Sinn F‚in
national executive he will need certainty about a time
frame for the transfer to policing and justice powers.

However, the DUP has warned it can only give a date for the
those powers being devolved once Sinn F‚in has supported
the police and proven it is co-operating and urging its
community to work with PSNI officers on the ground.

Democratic Unionist Party MP, the Reverend William McCrea,
said today his party was "not moving one inch on our
determination to resist any ploy of government to get
republicans off the hook."

"I now am aware that the mighty Adams and McGuinness are so
anxious to get over this present difficulty that they are
willing to soften their demand to government, hoping
they're gullible republican activists will not catch on,"
he said.

"However we must be alert to the ploy of the [British]
government and the Sinn Fein/IRA leadership and prove that
for unionists there is a line drawn in the sand.

"I feel it is important to tell government that policing is
a major hurdle that republicans must deliver on but there
are several other issues equally important that will test
their sincerity."

Additional reporting PA


Kelly - Welcome For SDLP U-Turn On MI5

Published: 21 December, 2006

Sinn F‚in spokesperson on Policing Gerry Gelly has today
welcomed the SDLP U-turn on the issue of MI5 involvement in
the North. Mr Kelly's comments come after SDLP MLA Alex
Attwood today criticised the proposals put forward on this
issue at St. Andrews after previously supporting them.

Speaking after today's meeting of the Programme for
Government Policing sub group at Stormont Mr Kelly said:

"At St. Andrews the SDLP claimed the British proposals on
MI5 as a victory. They argued for merging the PSNI into
MI5. Sinn F‚in is against that approach.

"I am pleased that the SDLP have done a U-turn on this
issue with Alex Attwood acknowledging today that the
position put forward at St. Andrews was unworkable.

"Sinn F‚in wants to see an end to MI5 involvement in
Ireland. We want no role for MI5 in civic policing. In the
new beginning to policing which Sinn F‚in is trying to
achieve there will be no place for political policing, or
collusion or for a return to a force within a force." ENDS


DUP Hardliner Says Deadlines Can Not Be Reached

The government timetable for the restoration of devolution
in Northern Ireland in March is absolutely impossible to
meet, a hard-line unionist has claimed.

Democratic Unionist Party MP William McCrea said today that
Sinn Fein prevarication had scuppered the timetable for the
restoration of a power-sharing Executive at Stormont.

Until Sinn Fein delivered on policing and law and order
there would be no deal, he said.

He said republicans had felt the power of unionist
resistance and had not liked the experience.

"If they want to be treated as democrats then it is up to
them to come up to the democratic line and, in my opinion,
they are far from it.

"The reality is that, because of the dithering of Sinn
Fein/IRA on the issue of policing and failure to deliver on
the other major issues facing them, I feel the timetable
set by the Government is absolutely impossible to meet.

"The Shinners have left it impossible to have a credible
period of testing of the so-called republican conversion to
true democracy and government must acknowledge and identify
where the fault lies.

Government-set deadlines of November 10 and November 24 had
come and gone, he said, and he predicted that, because of
republican intransigence, March 26 would go the same way.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain expressed
the belief that there would be devolution next year.

He said the promise of its return was the best Christmas
present local politicians could give the people of the

"The St Andrews Agreement set out a clear path for the
restoration of devolution with everyone signed up fully to
policing and the rule of law," said Mr Hain.

"The challenges that face local politicians are well known
but the restoration of devolution is the best present the
local politicians can give to the people of Northern

"Northern Ireland is a much better place now than it was
just a few years ago. I, and my ministerial team, will
continue in our efforts to make it an even better place to
work and live in."

Mr Hain will be spending Christmas in Northern Ireland with
his wife Elizabeth and family - including his parents, now
in their 80s.


SDLP Slam DUP And SF For Playing Games

Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein have been accused of
playing a game of pass the parcel over the policing issue
in Northern Ireland.

By:Press Association

As the British and Irish Governments continued efforts to
break the deadlock over policing, nationalist SDLP Policing
Board member Alex Attwood claimed the Democratic Unionists
and Sinn Fein were trying to shift the blame for the
impasse onto other parties.

The West Belfast MLA was commenting amid claims that the
British Government withdrew a proposal yesterday to present
a plan to an Assembly sub group that the SDLP and Ulster
Unionists would accept senior and junior posts in a new
Stormont Justice Ministry.

The paper was not presented, however, to the Programme for
Government Committee`s sub-group on policing and justice,
with the UUP and SDLP insisting they would not sign up
blindly to any proposal.

Mr Attwood observed: "The game of pass the parcel between
the DUP and Sinn Fein is continuing.

"Their politics is more about blame than about solving
problems. As they stare each other out, the day-to-day
needs of people in the North (of Ireland) get lost."

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
have identified Sinn Fein support for the Police Service of
Northern Ireland and a DUP commitment to power sharing as
the key ingredients of their bid to revive devolved
government in the province by next March.

DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley has signalled on several
occasions he will share power with Sinn Fein if the IRA
ends paramilitary and criminal activity and the party
publicly commits itself to supporting the PSNI, the courts
and upholding the rule of law.

The British and Irish Governments have been focussing on
getting Gerry Adams to call a meeting of his party`s
national executive to give the go-ahead for a special party
conference next month on a change in policy towards the

Mr Adams has told the DUP and British and Irish Governments
if his party is to change its policy, a date for the
transfer of policing and justice powers from Westminster to
Stormont must come first.

The DUP, however, insists republicans must move first -
supporting and proving they are co-operating with the PSNI
before unionists can even contemplate giving a date for the
transfer of powers.

A republican source said they were expecting ongoing
negotiations with the British Government to continue well
into the night.

The Assembly sub group signed off its report on proposals
for the devolution of policing and justice.

Sources said the report, which should be released on
January 3, would merely re-state the parties` positions.

"The real game in town is the negotiations which have been
taking place away from the sub group," the republican
source said.


Stone Remanded In Custody Over Stormont Incident

[Published: Friday 22, December 2006 - 11:32]

The man who disrupted a meeting of the North's Assembly in
Stormont last month has bee remanded in custody following a
court appearance in Belfast this morning.

51 year-old Michael Stone was remanded in custody today
while police compile further evidence about a bomb attack
on Stormont.

Stone spoke only to confirm his name during a brief
appearance via video link at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

He was captured on camera on November 24th trying to enter
the parliament when two security guards trapped him in the
doors of the building.

The court heard that prosecutors were still awaiting the
results of forensic examinations on articles carried by
Stone, which allegedly included nail bombs.

Stone was remanded in custody to appear again in court on
January 19th.

c Belfast Telegraph


SF MLA Fights For Seat In Antrim

By Seamus McKinney

SINN Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin is to give up his Derry
assembly seat to contest the unionist stronghold of South
Antrim in the proposed March assembly elections.

Mr McLaughlin, the party's general secretary, was expected
to be nominated for the South Antrim seat at a Sinn Fein
election convention last night.

His Derry assembly seat will be contested by former Sinn
Fein mayor Lynn Fleming and former republican prisoner
Martina Anderson. The other Sinn Fein seat in Derry is held
by Raymond McCartney.

In a shock move, Mr McLaughlin said he hoped to build on
the efforts of high profile Sinn Fein member Martin Meehan
in the 2005 assembly election.

One of Sinn Fein's most senior politicians, Mr McLaughlin
is a former leader of the party on Derry city council. In
the last general election, he was defeated by SDLP leader
Mark Durkan for the Foyle seat formerly held by John Hume.

South Antrim is a mixed rural/urban constituency on the
north eastern banks of Lough Neagh. It includes part of
Antrim district council and Newtownabbey district council.

The constituency's largest town is Ballyclare but it also
runs into the suburbs of Belfast, including Glengormley.
The only nationalist seat in South Antrim is held by SDLP
member Thomas Burns.


McDougall's Fate To Be Decided In New Year

By Staff Reporter

Victims Commissioner Bertha McDougall will have to wait
until the new year to know if she will be allowed to
publish her annual report - or be fired.

In the high court yesterday Mr Justice Girvan reserved his
decision in an application to terminate Peter Hain's
controversial appointment of the widow of a murdered police

The judge has already criticised the way Mr Hain went about
making the appointment and has posed 67

questions to be considered at an inquiry set up by the
Attorney General to determine if the secretary of state
deliberately misled the court - a criminal act of
perverting the course of justice.

Mrs McDougall's appointment was successfully
challenged by Brenda Downes, whose husband was killed by an
RUC plastic bullet.

Upholding an application for judicial review Mr Justice
Girvan ruled that the appointment was improper because Mr
Hain had no basis for deciding that she would
command cross-community support.

Seamus Treacy, QC, for Mrs Downes, yesterday asked the
judge to order Mr Hain to sack Mrs McDougal.

Her one-year contract as the Interim Victims' Commissioner
has already expired but she has been granted an extension.

Mr Treacy said of a proposal that Mrs McDougall should be
allowed to write the report in her own name rather than as
the Victims' Commissioner was "just a fiction".

If that was allowed to happen, he said, it would provide a
soft landing for Mr Hain to which he was not entitled.

Outside the court, Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice
said Mr Hain had consistently sought to be vindicated by
publication of Mrs McDougall's report and that would be
unfair to the victims.

He said it was Mrs Downes who had been vindicated and
added: "She is entitled to seek to have this appointment


Crucial Role Of An Ulster Cash Transfer In The Exposure Of
A Corrupt Taoiseach

[Published: Friday 22, December 2006 - 09:16]
By David Gordon

David Gordon reports on why a payment from Northern Ireland
loomed so large in a judge's damning indictment of Charles
J Haughey

The œ282,500 secretly channeled from an Ulster company to
Charles Haughey represents a small fraction of the money
received by the corrupt politician over the years from

But this week's Moriarty Tribunal report devoted a great
deal of attention to the money diverted from the Northern
Ireland wing of Dunnes Stores in 1987.

The payment is clearly significant in the eyes of Justice
Michael Moriarty, the Belfast-born judge who penned the
damning indictment of the late Taoiseach.

He reached the firm conclusion that the œ282,500 had been
deliberately concealed from previous inquiries by Ben
Dunne, former head of the supermarket chain.

And he drew a direct link between the 1987 payment and
subsequent actions by the Fianna Fail leader when in power.
These involved personally assisting Dunnes Group in a
massive tax battle with the authorities.

The Moriarty Report went into painstaking detail on how the
œ282,500 was "covertly" switched into a Dublin bank account
held by Haughey in May 1987.

It said Ben Dunne or close adviser Noel Fox instructed an
executive of Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd to issue a œ282,500
cheque to a company called Tripleplan.

Dunnes Stores (Bangor) is the name of the supermarket
group's subsidiary company north of the border.

The money was then moved around via the London and Dublin
operations of a company linked to Tripleplan.

It ended up in a personal Haughey account and was used to
pay off an overdraft run up by the politician who was
living beyond his means.

The Tripleplan cheque was the largest in a series of
payments by Ben Dunne to Haughey during 1987, following
contact between go-betweens in the early part of the year.

The œ282,500 was recorded as a debit between the
supermarket empire's north and south operations. But there
was no document trail to explain the payment.

Auditors for the Dunnes Group tried without success in
subsequent years to obtain an explanation from Mr Dunne and
Mr Fox.

The Moriarty Tribunal was only informed of the true story
in 1998, after Mr Dunne had been ousted from the family

A Dunnes Group auditor gave evidence that a widened company
search exercise had been conducted on Tripleplan.

One of its directors was found to be financier John Furze,
who had links to Haughey's tangled affairs.

In their evidence to the tribunal, Mr Dunne and Mr Fox
insisted that they had no recollection of the Tripleplan
transaction and denied any intention to mislead.

But Justice Moriarty was not convinced.

"The tribunal cannot accept the evidence of either Mr Dunne
or Mr Fox regarding the Tripleplan payment," his report

"It is inconceivable that either of them could have
forgotten the fact of the payment, or the circumstances in
which it arose or was made."

The judge concluded that the two men had "deliberately
concealed" the facts of the Northern Ireland payment from
the tribunal, the Dunnes Group and two previous inquiries.

Mr Dunne has denounced this verdict, saying: "The tribunal
has called me a liar. I dispute and I refuse to accept
that. I haven't hidden behind smoke screens.

"If I didn't have a recollection of certain things it's
that I genuinely forgot. In the fullness of time maybe I
will have to make my medical records public."

The date of the Tripleplan payment, May 1987, is of crucial

A previous inquiry - the McCracken Tribunal - had heard
evidence that payments by Ben Dunne to Haughey had only
started in November that year, by which time part of a
long-running tax dispute between the Dunnes Group and the
Republic's Revenue had been settled.

It has since been proved that the Tripleplan payment was
made much earlier in the year.

And this timing led the Moriarty Tribunal to reach one of
its most severe judgments.

Its report noted that Haughey had been made Taoiseach in
March 1987, following a General Election in February after
the collapse of a minority Fine Gael government.

The Moriarty Report stated that the Dunne payments to the
Fianna Fail leader had been set in train early in 1987 when
Haughey had "good prospects" of returning to power.

"The substantial payments made by Mr Dunne to Mr Haughey
must be regarded as payments primarily motivated by Mr
Haughey's resumption of the office of Taoiseach in 1987,"
it added.

In Justice Moriarty's view, the money did make a

As Taoiseach, Haughey "saw fit" to contact the head of
Revenue twice in successive years in relation to the
problems facing the Dunnes group and to facilitate
"extensive" discussions between the company and the tax
body, the judge said.

Justice Moriarty further concluded that Mr Haughey had, in
return for payments, "acted with a view to intervening
improperly in a pending tax case of great magnitude".

He also stated: "At a time when the finances of the State
were under extreme pressure, Mr Haughey, as the head of the
Government, had a duty to maintain the paramountcy of
Revenue in collecting taxes, and this ought to have been
reflected in a studious avoidance of unnecessary contact as
opposed to his persistence in advertising to Revenue his
interest in Dunnes' affairs so as to signal his support for
a radical reduction in the amount of tax being demanded by

c Belfast Telegraph


New Move In Nomadic's Restoration

The restoration of the SS Nomadic from a run-down
restaurant to its former glory is set to take another step

The ship, built in 1911, will move from its current dock at
Harland and Wolff to Barnett's Dock later.

The vessel, which arrived in Belfast in July from Le Havre
in France, will undergo some repair work.

The Nomadic was designed to carry mainly first class
passengers to the Titanic and sister ship the Olympic.

It will be covered to protect her from the harsh winter
elements during the repair work.

Denis Rooney of the Nomadic Trust said Friday marked "the
next step in our preparations to provide a permanent home
for Nomadic".

"At present, our priority is to ensure that our inclement
winter weather does not cause any further deterioration to
the structure.

"We will be carrying out some first aid repairs in the
coming weeks and the vessel will then be covered."

Social Development Minister David Hanson said the ship's
transfer was an important step in moving the restoration
project forward.

He said he wanted to express his appreciation to Harland
and Wolff and Belfast Harbour Commissioners for providing
berths for the Nomadic.

The government has spent almost œ700,000 just buying and
getting the ship back to Belfast.

The charitable trust was set up to oversee and raise funds
for Nomadic's restoration.

'Built the Titanic'

Since the Nomadic's return thousands of people from all
over the world have been asking when they can come and see

Campaigners say there is no doubt she will prove her worth
as a tourist attraction.

The Nomadic's return to Belfast was almost a century after
it was built by Harland and Wolff, the company which also
built the Titanic.

It was commissioned by the famous White Star Line and used
to take first and second class passengers out to Titanic at
Cherbourg in 1912.

The Titanic entered legend when it sank with the loss of
more than 1,500 people on its maiden voyage from
Southampton to New York, but the Nomadic's story continued.

It saw out the end of the century as a floating restaurant
beside the Eiffel Tower in Paris before being sent for
storage in Le Havre.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/22 07:15:48 GMT


New TV Scheme For Ex-Pats

Irish ex-pats across Britain are to be able to view
television programmes from their homeland.

Under a new scheme, state broadcaster RTE will provide a
service to communities outside Ireland.

Communications Minister Noel Dempsey said the new
Broadcasting Bill would also address the licensing of
Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

"It is intended that RTE will produce a service that
reflects and represents the content of the channels
currently available in Ireland - RTE1, RTE2 and TG4 will
contribute to this service," Mr Dempsey said.

"This service will now be a fundamental part of RTE`s
remit. The 2002 report of the task force on policy
regarding emigrants noted that the issue of contact with
Ireland and the desire for information about contemporary
Ireland is very important to Irish communities abroad,
particularly the elderly."

The new Bill will be brought before the Oireachtas (Irish
Parliament) for consideration early next year.

Emmet Stagg, an opposition party TD, called for the Bill to
be enacted early in the New Year.

"I look forward to the swift enactment of the new
legislation early in 2007," the Labour Party TD said.

"Reception of Irish television broadcasts would provide a
lifeline to these people, particularly the elderly, many of
whom are isolated and lonely.

"This measure was initially recommended in the task force
report on the Irish abroad."

Mr Dempsey said services were evolving away from analogue

"Ireland has been well served by its analogue terrestrial
network for over 40 years. During this time Irish viewers
have watched RTE services on a free-to-air basis throughout
the country," he said.

"In more recent times, further services have been provided
on this basis by TV3 and TG4.

"Building on the current experience with the DTT pilot,
Ireland will now proceed to upgrade this analogue network
to a digital terrestrial network."

The minister said the advantages of digital included more
television channels, improved picture quality and
interactive services.

"Once DTT has been rolled out and viewers have swapped over
to DTT or other digital platforms such as cable, satellite
and IPTV, it will be possible to switch off the analogue
transmission network," Mr Dempsey said.

"The proposed legislation allows for analogue switch-off in
the future when the time is right and viewers have switched
away from analogue television.

"Switch-off will free up valuable spectrum for more
broadcasting and other new services."

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