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December 24, 2006

Truth Will Out If We Help It

News About Ireland & The Irish

ST 12/24/06 Opin: Truth Will Out If We Help It
BB 12/23/06 Rights Body Warns Powers Diluted
BN 12/23/06 HR Commission 'Should Be Able To Question MI5'
SL 12/24/06 Ard Talking
BT 12/24/06 SF Talks With British Govt Making Progress
BT 12/23/06 Hain’s Vows: Stormont Will Be Restored
ST 12/24/06 Former RUC Officers For Hire In Hot Spots
BN 12/24/06 President McAleese Has Family In PSNI
BT 12/24/06 France Seeks Extradition In IRA Operation

(Note from George Trainor:

I know this is a poor time to bring this to your attention,
with Christmas and all. But I'm trying to see if we can
give this family some financial help. Please read the below

I just finished speaking with Father Troy. Below is the
address to send any donations. Father Aidan says he will
make sure the family receives them. The little girls are
still in intensive care. Father Aidan will be visiting them
later today. Luckily the mother was at work, and not in the

I'm hoping that we all could show our Christmas spirit and
help this family through this horrific tragedy.

It may be a good idea to write that your donation is for
the McGuigan family to avoid any problems of where the
donation is directed.

Please consider helping the McGuigan Family. God Bless and
Merry Christmas,

George Trainor
IAUC San Francisco Chapter

Send donations to:

Father Aidan Troy CP
Holy Cross Monastery
432 Crumlin Road Belfast, BT14 7GE
N. Ireland

See story at:


Opin: Truth Will Out If We Have A Mind To Help It

Liam Clarke

The current cost of Northern Ireland’s failed, ineffective
truth-recovery process is close to £230m, according to
figures supplied in the House of Commons last week. The
bill is still mounting, yet we have little of significance
to show for it.

The difficulty we experience in finding out what happened
during the Troubles is thanks to the refusal of powerful
vested interests — from governments to paramilitary groups
— to be honest about their activities during those years.

Rather than come clean, the government prefers to fund a
legal bonanza in which everyone clams up and reaches for
their lawyers when asked an awkward question. The result is
an expensive game of charades in which the truth is tied up
in years of red tape.

The government claims to want disclosure, but those who try
to tell what happened are persecuted. Members of the
intelligence services who talk about their roles face
draconian sanctions under the Official Secrets Act. Members
of special forces groups, such as the SAS and the Force
Research Unit, can be sued by the Ministry of Defence if
they speak publicly about their roles in Northern Ireland.
It is even a breach of copyright when they publish memoirs.

The beginning of truth recovery would be to remove the
barriers to telling the truth and stop punishing those who
do so. That means encouraging retired public servants to
speak out and granting amnesties to all who admit Troubles-
related crimes to a commission of inquiry. It means
imposing penalties on those withholding information rather
than those who come forward with it.

The official truth-recovery effort has become an
adversarial quagmire in which public funds and public
confidence sink without trace. £34m has been devoted to the
PSNI historic inquiries process, the bulk of it to a
specialist police team. The rest has gone to other
investigating bodies, such as the police ombudsman’s
office, for a mammoth review of all the murders during the
Troubles. Already the police team has said the money will
not be enough to finish the job, and the ombudsman is
complaining that the burden of the investigations is
getting in the way of current work.

By comparison to public tribunals, the historic inquiries
process is cheap. The inquiries into the deaths of Billy
Wright, Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill are scarcely
underway but already they have cost more than £19.5m.
Attempts are being made to cap the expenditure and restrict
representation, but as individuals mount legal battles for
anonymity and the state seeks to restrict the disclosure of
documents, the figures can be expected to pass any preset

None of these inquiries are likely to rival Lord Saville’s
leviathan of a Bloody Sunday inquiry, which has already
cost nearly £194m. Before it started, Tony Blair had
apologised for the shootings on Bloody Sunday and said
those killed were blameless. Nine years of sifting evidence
is unlikely to change that position. The army will be found
to be mainly at fault for what happened and nobody will be

For some, such as the relatives of victims or those falsely
accused, questioning the expenditure of time and money is
tantamount to putting a price on truth and justice. But in
many cases the money is being spent by one arm of
government to gain information held by another. At
Saville’s inquiry the army was given £33.87m to defend the
interests of soldiers. Surely it would be better if the
government simply disclosed what it knows to an independent
body, which could then decide what needs to be made public?

What truth we have about the Troubles has come mainly
through two avenues: first, Sir John Stevens’s inquiry into
collusion between the security forces and paramilitary
groups; and second, journalistic investigation, often based
on leaks from the Stevens inquiry. The revelations have
been enough to blunt the appetite of many who previously
called for disclosure.

In a world in which senior republicans such as Denis
Donaldson and Freddie Scappaticci worked with the British
and Irish security services, the old certainties of freedom
fighters versus occupying forces melt away like morning
mist. The intelligence services manipulated paramilitary
groups on both sides. They were never in complete control,
but were often able to pick who would rise and who would
fall in the leadership of republican and loyalist groups.

Recently, Gerry Adams demanded an inquiry into claims by a
former police officer that Special Branch knew of a planned
UDA attack on his life in 1984.

Adams knows from earlier disclosures that Special Branch
and military intelligence had in fact acted to save his
life by doctoring the bullets fired at him and intercepting
the killers.

Probing such issues raises the uncomfortable question of
why Adams was saved by the British Army while other
republicans were being targeted and killed. Nobody could
suggest he was a British agent or even knew of the
protection afforded him, but it is difficult to escape the
conclusion that the securocrats were able to play
favourites with the republican leadership on the basis of
information supplied by high-level informants.

To sift the truth in such a murky world requires a
disinterested eye and a cool head, not an adversarial legal
bear garden like the Bloody Sunday inquiry. It would
involve an inquisitorial approach in which experts could be
given access to papers and records accrued by the likes of
the Stevens inquiry. They could interview individuals with
promises of immunity or anonymity and threats of sanctions
sufficient to loosen tongues. They could publish as much of
the results as they thought fit and embargo other sections
for the lifetimes of those involved.

To have credibility, such a panel of experts would have to
have an international element and include a range of
disciplines. There could be a historian, human-rights
lawyer, retired intelligence officer and a victims’
representative. It would be the best chance of us ever
getting an agreed account of the Troubles.


Rights Body Warns Powers Diluted

The Human Rights Commission wants to be allowed to
investigate allegations of human rights abuses involving
MI5 or MI6 in Northern Ireland.

The Justice and Security Bill, currently before Parliament,
exempts the intelligence services from being investigated
by the commission.

Chief Commissioner Monica McWilliams said the bill dilutes
her powers.

She said her office already deals with complaints from
people who believe they are targets of covert surveillance.

"We shouldn't be stymied in our work ourselves, if we
require documents," she told the BBC's Inside Politics

"But you can imagine that stamp of national security, even
where it is in the public interest or where there may be an
issue of the incompatibility of human rights, we would ask
that that not be stamped on our work and prevent us from
doing the kind of work that we need to do."

She said the current bill's exemption was "very wide-

"It would put a lot of limitations on what we would be able
to investigate and we are hoping it could be amended," she

"It is in the public interest to investigate, whether it is
agencies doing something incompatible with human rights.

"We say we should have the power to investigate matters

"We hope to have these powers by January 2008 so it would
be a number of years after that before there would be
evidence and documents available."

Established under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement,
the commission's role is to ensure that human rights in
Northern Ireland are protected in law, policy and practice.

MI5 is building a Northern Ireland centre near Holywood,
County Down, and is due to take over responsibility for
national security from the police.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/23 13:45:29 GMT


Human Rights Commission 'Should Be Able To Question MI5'

23/12/2006 - 13:37:55

The North's Human Rights Commission should be able to
question MI5 about alleged human rights abuses, the chief
commissioner said today.

Monica McWilliams wants the power to examine possible
wrongdoing by the British intelligence services.

Relatives of the 29 who died in the 1998 Omagh bomb have
claimed MI5 failed to pass on information.

The Justice and Security Bill being considered in
Westminster would exempt intelligence services MI5 and MI6
and national-security matters from scrutiny.

Ms McWilliams said: "It is a very wide-ranging exemption
and it would put a lot of limitations on what we would be
able to investigate and we are hoping it could be amended.

"We say we should have the power to investigate matters

"We hope to have these powers by January 2008 so it would
be a number of years after that before there would be
evidence and documents available."

Established under the Good Friday Agreement ending armed
conflict in the North, the commission advocates human-
rights protection in law, policy and practice.

Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley demanded Ms
McWilliams' removal in the House of Commons this week and
called for the commission to be "reined in".

The proposed exemptions would cover national security,
including Police Service of Northern Ireland involvement.

MI5, which fights insurgency within the UK, and MI6, which
works abroad, would both be exempt.

MI5 is building a centre near Holywood, Co Down, and is due
to take over responsibility for national security from the

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde said his force would not be
sidelined in any matters involving the North.

The SDLP has pressed for Northern Police Ombudsman Nuala
O'Loan to be allowed to hold MI5 to account.

MI5 was criticised amid allegations it failed to pass on
warnings from an informer about the August 1998 Omagh bomb.
Relatives of those killed are calling for an independent
public inquiry into this and other matters of concern.

MI5 is already covered by surveillance and intercept
commissioners as well as an Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The tribunal has not upheld any complaints about actions in
the North.

"We hope to secure retrospective powers but national
security will be more difficult, given the atmosphere
around international terrorism," Ms McWilliams said.

"We want to look at this in the context of Northern Ireland
and the issue of covert surveillance and it is important
that the intelligence services understand their human
rights responsibilities."


Ard Talking

[Published: Sunday 24, December 2006 - 11:01]
By Alan Murray

Gerry Adams is on the brink of calling a special meeting of
his party's executive later this week after "significant
progress" was made during crunch talks with the Government
on Friday.

Informed sources say the Sinn Fein president has been
encouraged by progress made during discussions last week
with Tony Blair's chief negotiator Jonathan Powell on the
critical issue of policing.

"Gerry Adams may make a judgment call on the policing issue
over the weekend and decide to call a meeting of the ard
chomhairle before the end of the year," said a well placed

And yesterday, Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness
described DUP claims that the timetable would not be met
for the restoration of devolution as "provocative".

He said: "For the last week Sinn Fein has been involved in
intense discussions with the British Government, including
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to try and resolve the
outstanding issues in the peace process.

Mr McGuinness added: "Progress is being made and this work
will continue. We are determined to do all that we can to
find agreement with the DUP to get the power-sharing
institutions up and running immediately after the elections
in March."

Last week's discussions involved only the Government, Sinn
Fein and the DUP, but senior sources in both parties
declined to reveal what has been agreed.

A Sinn Fein spokesman would only say that negotiations were
continuing with the British Government and that no ard
chomhairle meeting would take place today or tomorrow.

© Belfast Telegraph


Sinn Fein Talks With British Government Making Progress

[Published: Sunday 24, December 2006 - 11:37]

Progress is reportedly being made in intensive behind the
scenes talks between the British Government and Sinn Fein
on policing.

Top British officials and the Sinn Fein leadership have
been in contact continuously over the past week, with the
occasional intervention of British Prime Minister Tony

Serious progress has been made, but not enough to get Sinn
Fein to hold an Ard Comhairle on policing.

The timetable is tight if agreement is to be reached by
January - needed if devolution is to be restored after
elections in march.

The DUP won't agree on when policing and justice powers
will be handed back to a locally elected assembly and

Talks are likely to be suspended for Christmas day and St.
Stephen's day, and are due to recommence on the 27th.

© Belfast Telegraph


Stormont Will Be Restored, Vows Hain In Christmas Message

[Published: Saturday 23, December 2006 - 10:07]
By Noel McAdam

A new Assembly and Executive would be "the best present"
politicians could give Northern Ireland, Secretary of State
Peter Hain said yesterday.

In his Christmas message, Mr Hain said he believed the
province will have a new power-sharing Executive next year.

It came as behind-the-scenes efforts continued to advance
the stalemate over policing with increasing fears Dublin
and London's timetable could slip.

There was speculation Sinn Fein could still announce a date
for its executive meeting - as the party was accused by the
DUP of "dithering" .

Rev William McCrea said: "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 that the timetable set by the Government is absolutely
impossible to meet.

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

Meanwhile, in his Christmas message, Ulster Unionist leader
Sir Reg Empey said the restoration of devolution was edging

"It is to be hoped that the opening months of 2007 will see
remaining obstacles overcome, and that the siren voices
wanting Northern Ireland to remain mired in its painful
past will not have the last word," he said.

Time, however, appeared to be running out for Gerry Adams
to call a meeting of the Sinn Fein ard comhairle which
could summon the full ard fheis on policing.

Without a decision before Christmas, the ard fheis might
not take place until the middle or towards the end of
January, when the timeframe for the current Transitional
Assembly ends.

By that stage the parties will already be gearing up into
election mode for the new Assembly, with the poll earmarked
for March 7 - and the possible devolution of power three
weeks later.

€ Mr Hain is staying at Hillsborough Castle for Christmas
with his wife Elizabeth and his family, including his
parents who are now in their eighties.

© Belfast Telegraph


Former RUC Officers For Hire In Hot Spots

Liam Clarke

NORTHERN Ireland police officers who took redundancy
payments under the Patten reforms have become guns for hire
in trouble spots around the world.

Retired RUC officers work in all the European Union
accession states and there are hundreds on policing and
security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. While some of
the work is high risk, the financial rewards are attractive
for officers paid off in their forties and early fifties as
the RUC was dissolved.

Their departure is being felt at home, however, with the
PSNI suffering a serious skills shortage. Last week the
force was criticised by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate
for assigning recruits who had not been properly trained to

Many of the officers who took early retirement are working
on high-value international contracts for Northern Ireland
Public Sector Enterprises (NI-CO) a government-owned
marketing company.

Graeme McCammon, one of its directors, said: “It is a big
advantage being able to access the expertise freed up by
Patten. In many parts of the world, people see parallels
between our experience in Northern Ireland and what is
happening in their countries.”

Of 35 policing and justice projects that NI-CO has applied
for, it has won 24. The latest is a €4m (£2.68m) programme
to enhance the accountability, efficiency and effectiveness
of the Turkish gendarmerie in preparation for EU entry.

One of the officers working on that project is understood
to be former detective superintendent Andy Sproule, 47, who
headed the PSNI’s organised crime squad until he retired in

So many officers are working in EU accession states that
they have started to link up with police forces in the UK
to combat organised crime. When Lithuanian men were
recently accused of raping a woman in Armagh, the PSNI was
able to contact Lithuanian police through one of its former
officers working on a training project. “It is the sort of
thing that can take weeks working through embassies. We
were able to do it straight away,” said McCammon.

“We are looking at court house security and money
laundering in Bulgaria, because the country could lose EU
funds if it doesn’t crack its organised crime problem. Some
of the Northern Bank money is believed to have been
laundered through Bulgaria. There have been links between
Irish paramilitary groups and other parts of eastern
Europe, such as Croatia, where we are also working. ”

Chris Albiston, a former head of RUC Special Branch, has
served as police commissioner in Kosovo and is now working
on a contract in Slovakia. “There is no shortage of work,
just of time to do it,” he said. “I and a group of
colleagues have carried out missions in Dubai, Oman,
Pakistan and Bulgaria, with a visit to Saudi Arabia

George Clydesdale, a detective inspector with the PSNI
fraud squad until he retired this year, is tackling money
laundering and organised crime in Lithuania and Poland. “I
was too young to retire and put my feet up and the
financial package was too attractive to refuse,” he said.
“The PSNI wanted to get rid of people like me but now there
is a skills shortage and the force will be in a bit of a
mess until it solves it.”

John Horan, once the PSNI’s money laundering expert, now
provides training to banks, lawyers and estate agents.
“There is no way I would have gone if it hadn’t been for
the Patten package,” he said. “In Poland I was part of
their anti-corruption strategy training.”

Stephen White, a former PSNI assistant chief constable, has
served as chief of police in Basra and now heads an EU
project which has trained more than 840 Iraqi judges,
senior police officers, prison governors and other justice
professionals at facilities across Europe.

White, who led the early implementation of the Patten
reforms, said: “I don’t know too many police officers who
were weary and tired and wanted out. We all knew when we
were serving that there were a lot of men and a lot of
Protestants and there was an imbalance.

“In correcting that imbalance, however, the service lost a
lot of expertise and that expertise is now welcome all
around the world.”

In Baghdad, White says that he met former RUC Special
Branch officers working in intelligence and training.
Hundreds more work as bodyguards.

Stephen Day, 53, a former RUC superintendent, was recently
chief of police in Mesan province in Iraq. “There is no
doubt that RUC experience is valued abroad and it opens
doors,” Day said.


President McAleese Has Family In PSNI

24/12/2006 - 12:48:36

President Mary McAleese today revealed she has family
members who have joined the Police Service of Northern
Ireland (PSNI).

Mrs McAleese made the remark as she spoke about the move by
the GAA to allow Croke Park to be opened to soccer and
rugby on a temporary basis, which she said had enormously
helped reconciliations.

"It is hugely symbolic, hugely, hugely symbolic," she said.
"I am looking forward to the games, to the soccer, to the

Mrs McAleese added: "We see members of the PSNI gaelic
football team, on which I have members of my own family -
members of my own clan are members of the team - coming
down and playing with members of An Garda Siochana."

Her comments came a day after Sinn Féin held a lengthy
meeting to discuss policing in the North.

Chief Sinn Féin negotiator Martin McGuinness has said the
party was working on agreeing a deal on policing in time
for restoration of devolved government in the North next

He described Democratic Unionist fears that the timetable
would not be met as provocative and said the intervention
was a cause for concern.

The party is expected to call an Ard Comhairle ahead of an
Ard Fheis meeting of all members next year to rubber-stamp
joining policing scrutiny bodies the Policing Board and
District Policing Partnerships.

Republicans have opposed engaging in policing because of
concerns such as the handling of police agents. The DUP has
called for engagement before agreeing to form a power-
sharing government.

On the peace process, Mrs McAleese told RTE Radio: "I think
there are a lot of good things to build on. We are
certainly considerably further down the road then many of
us ever dreamt we would be.

"We have reached critical mass - more people believe in the
future that is built on the Good Friday Agreement than
don't. That includes people who, a few years ago or even a
few months ago, might have been fairly sceptical about the
Good Friday Agreement."

Mrs McAleese said she was very hopeful a new administration
would be in place next March.


France To Seek Extradition Of Man In IRA Smuggling Operation

[Published: Sunday 24, December 2006 - 07:22]

French authorities are expected to seek the extradition of
a Dublin man linked to a real IRA arms haul intercepted in

An arrest warrant has been issued for 29 year old Kieron
Doran, who in his absence has been given a four year
sentence for "criminal association with a terrorist group."

He is alleged to have played a central role in a plot to
smuggle weapons from France to Ireland in 2003, which was
foiled by a Garda-led investigation involving Dutch, French
and British authorities.

© Belfast Telegraph

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