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January 01, 2007

Adams Urges Supporters To Take Long-Term View

News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 01/01/07 Adams Urges Supporters To Take Long-Term View
IN 01/01/07 Crowd Beat Up Mum At Shops
IN 01/10/07 NIPS Criticised For Shredding Prison Files
BN 01/01/07 Taoiseach Welcomes EU Recognition Of Irish Language
IN 01/01/07 30 Yrs Ago: MP’s UVF Training Allegations Probed
IM 01/01/07 30 Yrs Ago: Marchers Blamed For Civil Rights Fire
IN 01/01/07 30 Yrs Ago: Student March A Sell-Out Of Ulster
IN 01/01/07 30 Yrs Ago: Unionist Hostility To Easter Celebrations
IN 01/01/07 30 Yrs Ago: RUC Warning About Disputed Orange Parades
BB 01/01/07 Opin: Seismic Shift Or Cause For Dissention?
BT 01/01/07 Opin: Political Stability Is Within Our Grasp
IN 01/01/07 IRA Deaths That Caught Whole Country’s Imagination


Adams Urges Supporters To Take Long-Term View

01/01/2007 - 15:01:13

Sinn F‚in leader Gerry Adams today warned supporters that
there are "no short cuts to independence", saying that
republicans must address the issue of policing.

In his first engagement since Sinn F‚in embarked on an
internal debate on whether it should pledge its support to
the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the west
Belfast MP told a republican commemoration in Co Fermanagh
that the strategy his party was pursuing was "risky".

He urged Republicans to address the issue of policing with
their long-term objectives in mind.

"Be sure of this, getting our strategy right on this is
inevitably bound up with how we move forward beyond
partition to the Republic," the Sinn F‚in leader told the
commemoration for two IRA members killed 50 years ago
during a raid on a police barracks in Brookebrough.

"Despite major advances in recent years, Sinn F‚in does not
yet command sufficient political strength to realise our
primary and ultimate aims.

"We do well to remember that struggles cannot be won
without the support of people, and a huge battle for hearts
and minds is still to be waged, to mobilise greater levels
of popular support behind republican aims and objectives.

"There are no short cuts to independence and a new Ireland.
Republican strategy today is about building political
strength, popularising republican ideas and mobilising,
organising and strategising how we achieve a free, united

Mr Adams succeeded last Friday in persuading his party's
national executive in Dublin to call a special conference
of rank-and-file members later this month to debate their
policy on policing in both sides of the border.

The Sinn F‚in leader signalled that provided the Irish and
British governments and Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists
responded positively, a motion would be put to the
conference urging delegates to support the PSNI and the

Delegates would also be asked to endorse Sinn F‚in
representatives taking their seats on the Northern Ireland
Policing Board and District Policing Partnerships.

The Sinn F‚in move towards endorsing the PSNI, which is
seen as being an essential ingredient for the setting up of
a powersharing executive at Stormont this March, came after
the British government put forward proposals that would see
a new devout Policing and Justice Ministry established by
May 2008.

Under the plan, a senior and a junior justice minister
would be appointed after securing support in the Assembly
on a cross-community vote.

Mr Adams said today that his party's strategic focus during
negotiations had been to break the grip of the unionist
elite, the Northern Ireland Office and British securocrats
on political policing.

"The party leadership believes this represents a
sustainable basis to deliver a new beginning to policing in
the context of our strategic objectives, the full
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and moving the
struggle closer to our primary aim of Irish Independence,
self-determination and sovereignty," he said.

"This strategic initiative presents a massive challenge for
republicans but like all republican initiatives, it is

"The Brookebrough raid was risky. Struggle of any kind is

"We should remember that those who want to maximise change
must be prepared to take the greatest risk."

The Sinn F‚in leader claimed that his party brought the
issue of policing into the heart of the negotiations that
led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

He said the party had done so because it was clear that
peace could never be underpinned while the Royal Ulster
Constabulary remained intact.

"The transfer of powers on policing and justice away from
London and into Irish hands will be an advance for the
democratic struggle on this island," he argued.

"That is why it has met so much resistance within the
British and Union establishment.

"So for many reasons, republicans need to come at this
issue strategically.

"The big question we all need to ask ourselves is: are our
republican objectives more achievable if we secure a level
playing field set out in the Good Friday Agreement?

"The answer to this question and others like it is 'yes'."

The west Belfast MP said republicans had for years stayed
outside policing structures because that was the best way
to bring about change.

Now, he claimed, getting involved in those structures was
the best way to maximise change.

"Our intention, if the ard fheis (party conference) agrees
with the ard chomhairle (national executive), is to ensure
that no police officer ever again does what was done on our
people without being held to account," he said.

"If the ard fheis accepts our proposal, Sinn F‚in
representatives will work to ensure that political
policing, collusion and a 'force within a force' is a thing
of the past and oppose any involvement by the British
security service/MI5 in civic policing.

"Sinn F‚in representatives will robustly support the
demands for equality of treatment for all victims,
effective truce recovery mechanisms, acknowledgement by the
British state of its involvement in wrongdoing, including
collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, and to ensure that
there is no place in the PSNI for human rights abusers."

Mr Adams urged republicans to fully participate in the
internal debate that could culminate in the special Ard
Fheis later this month.

He said that everyone needed to have the room to express
their views, and he vowed that Sinn F‚in would talk to
those who had been the victims of collusion, as well as the
families of IRA members killed and republican veterans.


Crowd Beat Up Mum At Shops

By Marie Louise McCrory West Belfast Correspondent

The mother of a teenage boy who witnessed the murder of
west Belfast man Gerard Devlin has spoken of how she was
beaten by a 15-strong crowd.

Margaret Reynolds was assaulted a month after her son Jim
(16) survived an attack in which his throat was cut.

The teenager witnessed the murder of the father-of-five
last February in Whitecliff Parade in Ballymurphy.

His 39-year-old mother told how she had been attacked at
around 9.30pm on Friday outside shops on the Stewartstown

The mother-of-four, from Cloona Manor, said around 15 men
and women had set upon her and punched her repeatedly.

She managed to escape when she jumped into a private taxi
and begged the driver to take her to a friend's house.

"They just kept punching me. Nobody at all helped me," she

Ms Reynolds suffered cuts and bruising to her face and a
suspected broken nose.

She claimed the attack was linked to the ongoing
disturbances in Ballymurphy that followed Gerard Devlin's

Mr Devlin (39) was stabbed to death on February 3 as he
arrived to pick up his children at his partner's home at
Whitecliff Parade.

Four members of the extended Notarantonio family have been
charged in connection with the murder.

Ms Reynolds said her son was the "main witness" in the

"This is connected to the feud.

"Jim was attacked three or four weeks ago," she said.

She described those who attacked her as "scumbags" and said
was "terrified" for her family.

"My wee boys won't walk the streets," she said.

Police have been investigating the incident.


NIPS Criticised For Shredding Prison Files

By Staff Reporter

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

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.

SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginnis said: "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.

"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.


Taoiseach Welcomes EU Recognition Of Irish Language

01/01/2007 - 13:00:19

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today said the new year was a new
beginning for the Irish language in Europe.

Key European Union regulations will now be translated into
Irish and interpretation provided in parliament as from

The move follows years of protracted lobbying of the
Taoiseach to upgrade the language's status from a 'Treaty
language' to an official and working one.

"It will take its rightful place alongside the other 22
European languages which enjoy this status within the
Union," said Mr Ahern.

He said it was a very special day for Ireland coming 34
years into our involvement with the EU.

"It reflects the fact that Irish is an essential part of
what we are as a people and as a proud member of the
European family of nations," said the Taoiseach. "As we
celebrate a New Year, let us also celebrate a new beginning
for Irish as one of the languages of modern Europe.

"All who cherish our language need to work together, at
home and in Europe, to ensure that we can build on this
great opportunity and strengthen the language in every
possible way."


MP's UVF Training Allegations Probed

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Dr Eamon Phoenix

On the final day of our look at the newly released
government papers,
Dr Eamon Phoenix reports on files on UVF training, Ian
Paisley's influence, the civil rights movement and unionist
hostility to the 50th anniversary celebrations of the 1916

Allegations by a civil rights MP that the illegal loyalist
paramilitary organisation, the UVF was training at a number
of locations in the north and had up to 5,000 members were
probed by the Stormont authorities in 1969.

The controversy began on September 16 1969 when Mr Paddy
O'Hanlon, the Stormont MP for South Armagh, alleged in a
BBC interview that the illegal organisation was training in
various parts of the north including Loughgall in Co Armagh
and Rathfriland and Kilkeel in south Down.

Mr O'Hanlon accused the Unionist government of failing to
act: "With regard to the police, I feel that the ministry
of home affairs are well aware of these illegal groups and,
because of their cowardice, are not prepared to act."

The MP's allegations, coming after the serious disturbances
of August 1969, were investigated by the minister of home
affairs, Mr [now Sir] Robert Porter and the RUC.

On September 4 1969 an official could inform County
Inspector David Johnston of RUC Headquarters that the
minister had been informed that "members of the UVF were
engaged in rifle practice in a quarry at Curran, near
Tobermore in Co Derry".

He added: "Apparently, the quarry is close to a USC [Ulster
Special Constabulary] hut. You might wish to investigate."

However, the police replied three weeks later that no
evidence could be found by the local constabulary of UVF
training at the quarry.

Following the police report, on September 25 1969, Mr J E
Greeves, a ministry official, wrote to Mr O'Hanlon
requesting more details about the location of the alleged
UVF activity.

However, in a letter to Greeves on October 6 1969, County
Inspector Johnston was dismissive of Mr O'Hanlon's

He noted that the list furnished by the South Armagh MP was
identical to one submitted in an anonymous letter to the
Republican Labour MP, Gerry Fitt in April 1969, adding:
"Our inquiries noted that the places mentioned were mostly
in the vicinity of Free Presbyterian churches.

"We have reason to believe that the author of the letter
was a Mr David Bickerstaff, JP of Rathfriland [Co Down] who
was suspended from the Orange Order for [alleging] that the
local lodge was being run by extremists.

"Previously, he was a strong Paisley supporter and then
turned pro-O'Neill."

The senior RUC officer noted that there were groups of the
Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV) and Ulster Constitution
Defence Committee (UCDC) [both Paisleyite organisations] in
a number of these localities as well as Free Presbyterian
churches but there was no evidence of the proscribed UVF in
the places mentioned.

"It is now out again to inquiries," he told the minister.

The file reveals that on October 23 1969 Mr O'Hanlon gave
the minister a list of four names of alleged UVF members.

It was alleged that the men were of the "same type" as
Thomas McDowell, a quarry foreman from Kilkeel, Co Down who
had been killed by his own bomb in an attack on a power
station at Ballyshannon, Co Donegal three days earlier.

McDowell, who was found to have played a key role in the
loyalist bombing campaign which toppled Captain O'Neill
from power in April 1969, had been a member of Ian
Paisley's Free Presbyterian Church and Ulster Protestant
Volunteers, as well as a member of the illegal


Counter-Marchers Blamed For Stoking Civil Rights Fire

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Dr Eamon Phoenix

The RUC believed that civil rights marches had `lost their
steam' in Northern Ireland by the summer of 1969 but that
Ian Paisley was, by his policy of counter-marches, playing
into the hands of the civil rights activists.

RUC Headquarters was responding to a request from the
secretary to the minister of home affairs, as to whether
the civil rights movement would "dissolve gradually or
remain a coherent, if troublesome, force in Northern
Ireland" for the future.

In a five-page assessment, County Inspector David Johnston
stressed the coalition nature of the civil rights movement
and the declining numbers at recent marches.

The County Inspector stated that any assessment of the
movement must take account of the various groups under the
Civil Rights umbrella who influenced its policies and "cash
in on the emotional groundswell of the almost wholly
Catholic masses" who supported its events.

"These are the republicans, nationalists, extreme leftists
such as communists and People's Democracy, Trotskyites and
the Derry Citizens' Action Committee. It is between these
we find the present struggle for power, though not always
in the form of the moderates versus the militants," he

As far back as January 1969, he went on, a civil rights
document had warned that it would be futile "to continue
marching and nothing else" and had suggested a campaign of
civil disobedience including picketing, strikes and non-
payment of taxes.

The re-opening of the movement's `Back to the Streets'
campaign recently in Strabane and Newry seemed to bear out
the civil rights' prediction with just over one thousand
demonstrators at the Newry march. In both cases there was
little or no danger from Protestant confrontation this time
and no bans or re-routing.

"Otherwise", Mr Johnston wrote, "turnouts might have been
as of yore."

This suggested that marches "have lost steam" though the
real measure of this yardstick would come with Austin
Currie's civil rights anniversary march in Dungannon on
August 24 and John Hume's planned anniversary rally in
Derry on October 5.

In Derry, the RUC office went on, "much will depend on the
discipline over his hooligan element and [Eamonn] McCann's

Much would turn also on the tactics of Ian Paisley who had
now decided to go back to the streets, starting with Newry.

"If the reverend gentleman could only be persuaded to leave
it to the government and police, as he has been doing since
his release [from prison], the civil rights attendances
would probably continue to fall away. Civil rights only
feeds and thrives on such opposition. But I presume he too
feels he must lead again to survive."

The RUC believed, Mr Johnston went on, that NICRA was now
in the throes of a power struggle between its divergent
elements, a development triggered by the Stormont
government's promise of political reforms.

"The government's firm and solemn promise of reform and the
actual timetable have brought the movement to a crossroads
and a state of confusion," he said.

"If the movement is not to wane or founder it must of
necessity become more militant and there must come a new
crop of impossible demands.

"The so-called moderates are caught up in this competition
and must show increasing militancy to survive and stay in

"In composition the movement was and is Catholic but in the
beginning a Protestant sprinkling of idealists presented a
broader facade.

"This has now largely been shed, however, apart from an
element of radical socialists and communists. At grassroots
the movement has now crystallised into familiar `green'
composed of republicans and nationalists, but still
containing a vociferous minority grouping of Trotskyites or
revolutionary socialists. I feel, therefore the present
struggle for power can best be seen against this

The RUC document identified three elements in the power
struggle as the nationalists, personified by the
nationalist MP, Austin Currie; the moderates of the Derry
Citizens' Action Committee and the `Trotskyites' of the
People's Democracy. In the background stood the official
Republican movement in the shape of the IRA, Sinn Fein and
Republican Clubs, "by no means the least important

Mr Johnston claimed that "republican headquarters now
claims control of two thirds of the executives of all Civil
Rights Associations" while five of the 14-strong central
executive were known republicans.

The chairman, the Belfast dentist, Frank Gogarty, was a
member of the Wolfe Tone Society while the treasurer and
vice-chairman were strong republicans.

In the view of the RUC the takeover of NICRA by the
republican movement under Roy Johnston was now complete.

"Their tactics have changed in the political field and they
now resort to infiltration, manipulation and alliance with
any group which serve their purpose, ie to destroy or
undermine the existing system of government," they said.

Their hand would remain hidden while these processes were
at work but their aim remained "a 32-county socialist
republic in the Connolly tradition".


`Student March Seen As A Sell-Out Of Ulster'

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Dr Eamon Phoenix

The Rev Ian Paisley warned the Stormont administration of
Terence O'Neill in 1967 that "Ulster Protestants are
determined not to tolerate republicanism or O'Neill
unionism in their sell-out of Ulster".

The future DUP leader was protesting to the minister of
home affairs, William Craig in November 1967 at the
government's decision to permit a student march in support
of civil liberties through central Belfast.

On November 14 1967, Mr Paisley wrote a strong letter to Mr
Craig on behalf of the Ulster Constitution Defence
Committee and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (both
Paisleyite satellites at that time).

He reminded the minister of his recent ban on the
Republican Club at Queen's University and accused him of
failing to implement it.

"Last Easter both the Belfast Orangemen and our
organisation had to call off church services because of
your ban," he said.

"We did this in order to honour the law and strengthen your
hand in the battle against subversive forces."

However, the police then banned a Free Presbyterian protest
parade at the Presbyterian General Assembly in June 1967.

Mr Paisley impressed on the minister: "We would remind you
that Protestants have been ill-treated and imprisoned for
no other reason than exercising their proper democratic
rights. Your ministry through the police has carried out a
whole series of harassments and intimidation of Protestants
protesting against dictatorship.

"Now a parade of members of an illegal republican club in
support of violence is to be carried out in our city.

"This parade is to go through an area strongly Protestant
for the sole purpose of inciting these Protestants. We do
not intend to sit idly by and permit you, Sir, not to
administer your own law impartially.

"You have dealt unfairly with the Protestants, therefore
you better at least start now dealing justly against papist
supporters of violence."

Mr Paisley informed him that he would be calling an open
air meeting to protest against the student march and "to
show that Ulster Protestants are determined not to tolerate
Republicanism or O'Neill Unionism in their sell-out of

Replying to Mr Paisley on November 14 1967, Mr Craig
repudiated the Free Presbyterian leader's allegation of
government harassment and stressed that the student parade
was not by `an illegal club in support of violence', but
was under the auspices of the "Joint Action Committee
Against Suppression of Liberties".

He saw no reason to ban "a body of students demonstrating
against a decision of those in authority which they

He hoped that Mr Paisley would reconsider his position on
the march.


Unionist Hostility To Easter Rising Celebrations Chronicled
In Files

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Dr Eamon Phoenix

The rising tide of unionist hostility to plans to mark the
fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 Rising in the North are
chronicled in confidential cabinet files of the old
Stormont government released this week in Belfast.

Five months before the celebrations on December 1 1965, a
senior RUC officer at police headquarters briefed the
Stormont minister of home affairs, Brian McConnell on the
likelihood of large-scale marches and concerts throughout
Northern Ireland.

"This will be a period of extreme tension in the province
and any action by the IRA in the interim would make the
situation explosive,' he told the minister.

"It is to be hoped that good sense will prevail with
extremists on both sides of the community and that they
will neither by word nor deed set alight passions which
could so easily start political and sectarian troubles in
Northern Ireland."

Two months later on February 15 1966 a leading Co Armagh
unionist and B Special Commandant, Captain Michael
Armstrong passed on to the government the views of one of
his `most responsible' sub-district commandants in the
part-time force who doubted the wisdom of permitting the
Easter celebrations to take place.

The unnamed sub-district commandant warned the Stormont
authorities: "It must be remembered that the persons taking
part in these celebrations are not respectable Roman
Catholics and nationalists, but persons who are members or
are associated with illegal organisations who have no
jurisdiction in Northern Ireland and at one time or other
were and still are prepared to shoot and kill members of
Her Majesty's forces."

By March 1966, resolutions hostile to republican parades to
mark the Rising were pouring in to RUC Headquarters and the
ministry of home affairs.

On March 5 1966 the secretary of the Belfast Committee of
the Apprentice Boys of Derry sent a strongly-worded
resolution to the minister protesting `that a certain
section of people whom we class as "rebels" should be
permitted to come from the Republic of Ireland and be
permitted to associate with those of their kind in the six
counties to celebrate the 1916 Easter Rising and to carry
their Tricolour in parades and demonstrations which might
excise Her Majesty's loyal subjects.

In the same month, Belfast Corporation decided to ban a
Republican Party booking of the Ulster Hall for a concert
to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the insurrection.

The close relationship between the Orange Order and the
Unionist government, most of whose members were Orangemen,
is reflected in an exchange of letters between the Grand
Secretary of the Co Derry Grand Orange Lodge, Alfred Lee
and the minister of home affairs, Brian McConnell in April

Mr Lee had written to the minister, whom he addressed as
`Brother McConnell', to protest at a celebration of the
Rising in Kilrea, Co Derry, commencing with a Mass at
Drumagarner Chapel and a parade of bands through the town
on Easter Monday.

"I have been assured that this parade will be resented very
much by the majority of the people of Kilrea, especially as
there was trouble (previously) during a Hibernian
demonstration," he said.

He urged the minister to ban the event. However in his
reply to `Brother Lee', Mr McConnell stated that he had
been informed that the parade would consist of two
Hibernian bands parading to a chapel a mile outside the

"As the parade is not going through the town of Kilrea", he
added, "the police have no reason to believe that it is
likely to lead to a breach of the peace."

The parade was permitted.


RUC Chief's Prophetic Warning About Disputed Orange Parades

Cabinet Papers - Compiled By Eamon Phoenix
By Dr Eamon Phoenix

"It has often been stated that the Queen's highway is open
to all and sundry, that no man should be prevented from
exercising his right and that the Union Flag should be
honoured everywhere.

"These are admirable principles, but unfortunately they
cannot always be adhered to in Ireland.

"Anyone who thinks otherwise is shirking the issue, because
it is quite obvious that serious trouble would arise if
organisations attempted to march here, there and

This statement might have been issued during any of the
Drumcree crises of the 1990s.

In fact, it was written by the Inspector General of the RUC
in August 1958 in a balanced appraisal of the dangers posed
by unwelcome parades in the north. The fascinating
appraisal is released today by the Public Record Office in

Addressing his memo to the secretary to the ministry of
home affairs at Stormont, on August 8 1958, the Inspector
General of the RUC, Sir Richard Pym, referred to recent
incidents at Dungiven, Co Derry, involving a band parade
through the nationalist village and the consequent
boycotting of Protestant shops in the area.

He placed the impact of party processions in a broad
historical perspective, noting: "Past experience in Ireland
has shown that a recurrence of such incidents from time to
time can lead in the end only to serious sectarian riots
and communal disorders in which the whole country will
eventually become embroiled.

"The riots of 1935 [in Belfast] are perhaps the clearest
example of what can happen. These did not originate
spontaneously from an attack on an Orange parade on Twelfth
of July 1935. The sectarian tension had been growing for
years beforehand through smaller incidents of one kind or
another until it took only a spark to set off the fire."

The harvest of those riots had been shocking, Mr Pym wrote,
involving the deaths of entirely innocent people.

He believed that incidents in recent years including
Dungiven and the controversial marches on the Longstone
Road in south Down had set a pattern "which is dangerously
close to those which culminated in the 1935 riots".

In the case of the Dungiven trouble, he felt that the
problem had been caused "not by the residents of that town
but by the inhabitants of a small village called Bovevagh
some four miles distant who were led by hotheads who seem
to put their personal ambitions above the welfare of the

In outlining the role of the police in preserving the
peace, the RUC chief attached a copy of a circular issued
from Dublin Castle as far back as 1901 which dealt with the
problem of "party processions'.

Its contents, he argued, were still "very relevant today".
He pointed out that the prohibition of processions in areas
which were hostile to the marchers was not peculiar to
Ireland and was frequently used in England to prohibit
meetings or marches where trouble was likely to be caused.

In the north, the RUC were frequently able by tactful
measures to persuade organisers `to use alternative routes
and no trouble arises', but it had been found necessary to
resort to the powers under the Public Order Act of 1951.

It sometimes happened, however, he added, that the use of
such powers was so unpopular that it was not considered
advisable to exercise them fully.

"These occasions generally occur where what might be called
"ultra-loyalists" wish to march through a nationalist area
carrying Union flags," he said.

"It has often been stated that the Queen's highway is open
to all and sundry, that no man should be prevented from
exercising his right, and that the Union flag should be
honoured everywhere.

"These are admirable principles, but unfortunately they
cannot always be adhered to in Ireland. It is sad that
there is so little give and take on either side."

In conclusion, the Inspector General felt that it was time
that the "leaders of the various groups got together and
devised a scheme that would put an end voluntarily to
incidents of the kind I have mentioned and so bring about
really peaceable conditions which, I am convinced, they all
earnestly desire".

He warned of the serious impact which sectarian riots would
have on the economy and added: "In the event of such a
catastrophe we would all be the sufferers."

A solution produced by `diplomatic methods would be far
more satisfactory and durable than one enforced by rigorous
application of the law.


Opin: Seismic Shift Or Cause For Dissention?

By Brendan Anderson
BBC News Website

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has cleared one major
hurdle in the bid to change his party's stance on policing
and justice in Northern Ireland.

He tackles another, larger problem later this month when he
asks a special party conference to support policing and by
doing so, help clear the way for the restoration of
devolved government at Stormont.

In between these events, Mr Adams addresses a commemoration
for two IRA men who died following an attack on a police
barracks on New Years Day, 1957.

The Sinn Fein leadership appears well on the way to
achieving a comfortable majority in favour of changing
party policy towards support for police and justice.

However, they know difficulties remain. They recognise that
some within the party still resist any attempt to have them
support a justice system they have long regarded as hostile
and an obstacle to their aims and culture.

In the middle of the debate on policing, the commemoration
of two republicans killed in a gun battle with police
highlights the problem.

Sean South, a 27-year-old republican from Limerick, and
Feargal O'Hanlon, 20, from County Monaghan, were involved
in the IRA campaign which began in 1956.

On the first day of 1957, the men were part of a unit which
set out in a lorry to attack an RUC barracks in the village
of Brookeborough in County Fermanagh.

The plan was to blow a sizeable hole in the wall of the
barracks, kill or capture the police officers inside and
escape with whatever weapons could be found.

When the truck stopped opposite the building, two men
carried a large mine across the road and planted it against
the wall while others on the back of the vehicle provided
cover with rifle fire.

That bomb, and a second device, failed to explode.

Meanwhile, officers inside the station were returning fire,
concentrating their aim on the cab and the driver.

The attack was aborted and the lorry, damaged by police
gunfire, sped off into the countryside. It was later
discovered that every IRA man in the unit had been injured
to some extent.

With the truck's engine failing, the men abandoned the
vehicle and made off across the fields.

Feargal O'Hanlon and Sean South, the most seriously
injured, were carried bleeding profusely to a cow byre and
left to be discovered by pursuing police and provided with
medical help.

What happened next has been the subject of controversy for
many years.

Police reported that when they arrived at the scene, the
two IRA men were already dead.

The men's colleagues said that as they were fleeing over
the fields, they heard gunfire. Some maintained the shots
were the coup de grace being administered to the pair.

At least one other IRA man believed the shots he heard came
from police officers firing into the byre as a precaution
before attempting entry.

Whatever the truth, the deaths of South and O'Hanlon
created a wave of emotion and within days they had become
republican icons.

Songs were composed about them and Sinn Fein branches were
named after them.

A few months later, Feargal O'Hanlon's brother was elected
on an abstentionist ticket to Dail Eireann, the Irish

The Brookeborough incident, and dozens of similar incidents
in the decades before and since, have helped foster
republican antipathy towards police and authorities in
Northern Ireland.

It is against this background that Gerry Adams is working
on the proposal he will put before his party's special ard
fheis (convention) to be held later this month.

Details of the motion will be made public within a few days
after it has been studied by Sinn Fein members, north and

Mr Adams has already indicated it will be wide-ranging and
will recommend republican commitment to support for not
only the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) but also
the Garda Siochana in the Republic and the criminal justice
system in both jurisdictions.

Republicans will also be asked by Mr Adams to support:
devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster
to any new Stormont assembly; the appointment of Sinn Fein
representatives to the Policing Board and the various
district partnership policing boards; authorisation for
Sinn Fein ministers on the assembly executive to take a
pledge of office.

Feelings about the policing issue run so strongly among
sections of republicanism that it is almost certainly
responsible for death threats against a number of Sinn Fein
leaders, including Mr Adams, Martin McGuinness and the
party's policing and justice spokesman, Gerry Kelly.

There is little doubt the threats emanate from dissident
republicans. Mainstream militants who still advocate
violence left the organisation long ago.

There is, however, a rump within Sinn Fein which is still
hugely uncomfortable with what Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain has called the "seismic shift" in attitude of
mainstream republicans towards the policing issue.

It is that rump which the party's leadership will woo, and
attempt to convert, within the next few weeks if the Adams
motion is to succeed.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/01 11:47:33 GMT


Opin: Political Stability Is Within Our Grasp

[Published: Monday 1, January 2007 - 11:26]

Every New Year dawns with the wish for better times ahead.
This year there are grounds for optimism that hope, at
last, can be translated into reality in Northern Ireland.
The one gift that the province desires above all else -
political stability - may finally be attainable.

Sinn Fein, after years of prevarication, has now accepted
that it must support policing and shun its paramilitary and
criminal links if it is to be accepted as a truly
democratic party. And the DUP, for ever the voice of
unionist dissent, is running out of reasons to delay power-
sharing with republicans much longer.

Provided Sinn Fein gives unequivocal backing to policing at
its forthcoming special party conference, the timetable for
elections and the resurrection of the Assembly could be
back on track. Our richly rewarded politicians may well
begin earning their salaries by early summer.

There are certainly plenty of hot issues awaiting locally-
elected Ministers when they return to their Stormont desks.
In their absence the Treasury has been tightening the
economic screw on Northern Ireland and the new year will
see higher rates bills for many and the introduction of
water charges.

When these new charges are added to rising fuel costs and
soaraway house prices, it is evident that the coming year
will see many household budgets being increasingly
strained. The Government may argue that Northern Ireland is
only being asked to pay its way like every other region of
the UK, but private sector incomes here are well below the
national average and the rising bills will have a
significant impact on many people.

Another thorny issue to be resolved is the question of
education reform and academic selection. Threats to our
grammar schools raise the hackles of the middle-classes.
While the performance of our best schools are the envy of
the rest of the UK, we also have to recognise that the
system continues to fail far too many children, who leave
school with few, if any, qualifications and poor literacy
and numeracy skills. Retaining the best of the current
system and improving the rest is the delicate balancing act
awaiting a new Education Minister.

On the wider front, political agreement could transform the
province, especially if accompanied by a worthwhile
economic package, including a reduction in corporation tax
rates. Political stability and reduced taxation would make
the task of attracting high-value inward investment easier
and Northern Ireland could begin to mirror the economic
success of the Republic. Will 2007 be the year when we
break the shackles of the past and move forward to a
brighter future? The signs are encouraging but only time
will tell.

c Belfast Telegraph


IRA Men's Deaths That Caught Whole Country's Imagination

By Valerie Robinson

Sean South and Fergal O'Hanlon entered the realms of
history and song when an IRA raid on a Co Fermanagh RUC
barracks went dramatically wrong 50 years ago today - on
January 1 1957. Southern correspondent Valerie Robinson

ON a cold overcast New Year's Day in 1957 an IRA unit
launched an ill-fated attack on an RUC barracks, sparking a
bloody battle that has reached almost mythological status
in Irish history.

Limerick man Sean South (28) and 20-year-old Fergal
O'Hanlon, from Monaghan, had been members of the

14-strong IRA unit, led by Sean Garland, that set out that
morning in an attempt to storm the Brookeborough RUC
barracks in the Co Fermanagh village.

The assault had been planned as part of Operation Harvest -
the IRA's Border Campaign between 1956 and 1962, which
intended that flying columns would cross the border from
the Republic and attack military and infrastructure targets
within Northern Ireland.

An IRA document found in 1956 stated that the aim of the
campaign was to "break down the enemy's administration in
the occupied area until he is forced to withdraw his

IRA members had travelled from as far afield as Cork,
Dublin, Wexford, Galway and Limerick to take part in the
New Year's Day assault. But their plan to bomb the

barracks went dramatically wrong.

In his book Sean South of Garryowen, author Des Fogerty
says that about a week earlier the RUC had received
intelligence that a border station would be attacked.
Officers at Brookeborough were well-armed while the station
had been sandbagged and equipped with a radio telephone to
call for reinforcements if needed. The fateful gun battle
began within seconds of an RUC officer discovering by
chance the IRA man Phil O'Donoghue attempting to lay a bomb
at the barracks door. Two devices failed to detonate and a
grenade bounced off the barracks and injured O'Donoghue

Seven men were injured in the attack. Five would survive
but Sean South had received a fatal wound to the lower back
while Fergal O'Hanlon was bleeding badly after being struck
in the legs.

The unit fled the scene, taking temporary shelter in a
cowhouse where O' Hanlon lay dying. It is likely that South
was already dead.

The survivors eventually managed to make their way back
across the border to a farmhouse.

The wounded were later taken to hospital while the others
were arrested.

An inquest would find that South had been beyond help when
the unit had entered the cowhouse but that O'Hanlon's life
could have been saved by first aid - a finding that has
been disputed over the decades.

Sean South had lived a quiet but industrious life with his
mother and two brothers in Limerick before the raid.

His brother Ger, aged 21 at the time of the Brookeborough
attack, recalls how the killing of the man they had known
as a hard-working timber yard clerk, scout leader and
Irish-language enthusiast had a lasting effect on the

"We had all been unaware of the depth of his involvement in
the IRA at the time," Ger South said.

"We first learned of what was happening shortly after he
went to the north and used me as a conduit for
communicating with the family. We realised that he had been
working away while training with the IRA in the mid-west.

"We'll never be fully sure what motivated him to take the
line he did. We lived together. We slept in the same bed.
We were very close. But when he was away from here nobody
would know where he was. He was obviously out training.

"He'd always loved books and would buy some every week when
he got his wages.

"It was after his death that we looked at what he'd been
reading and got some insight into what he was thinking.

"There were books on economics, how wealth was dispersed in
society, the Irish language and Irish organisations.''

Ger South remembers that his brother had "seen a lot of
life" in the years before his death. He had joined the FCA
(An Forsa Cosanta Aitiuil or army reserve) and An Rialt, an
Irish-speaking wing of the Legion of Mary. As a scout
leader, he had encouraged local youths to speak Irish.

"But after Sean died there were a lot of changes. Our house
had always been full of chat and craic but my mother Mary
refused to live there and we moved to a corporation flat.
There were too many memories."

Over the decades, Ger South has heard "all strands of the
republican movement" claim they would have had his
brother's support.

He remains convinced Sean would not have taken his decision
to join the IRA lightly.

"He would never do anything in a foolish or haphazard way,"
he said.

"Everything was thought through. He obviously had studied
[the situation in the north] to the extent he felt it was
the only thing to do. It annoys me when people think they
know what he would or would not want today."

Fergal O'Hanlon had worked as a clerk and local authority
draughtsman. He spent his spare time going to dances and
playing Gaelic football and handball in his native

His sister Padraigin Ui Mhurchadha, aged 15 at the time of
his death, describes him as a "wonderful son and brother"
who had many friends and was "great to everybody in the

While the South family had been taken by surprise at news
of Sean's IRA activities, the O'Hanlons had been been
brought up in a "very republican house".

"He would have grown up with Irish as his first language.
We lived in a border county so we were very aware about
what was happening in the six counties. We knew that
Catholics were enduring terrible intimidation and

"Although I was young and it wouldn't really have been
discussed in front of me, I would have sensed that Fergal
was involved in the [border campaign] but we believe
[Brookeborough] was his first military activity."

Ms Ui Mhurchadha, a Sinn Fein Monaghan town councillor, had
been visiting a relative's house when the radio reported
that two men had been killed in the north.

"We had known Fergal was away because he had said goodbye
to us all. He had taken his leave of my mother Alice and
when we heard the news she felt straight away he had been

"The next morning we were asked by the gardai to go to
Monaghan Hospital and were told by the men being treated
there that Fergal was dead.

"I remember all the sounds - the knock on the door by the
guards, Daddy telling Mammy, her crying.

"He was a month off 21. We were very proud of Fergal. He
had been fighting for Ireland but we were heartbroken when
he died.

"We received many many visitors, letters and telegrams of
support. It was incredible. Thousands attended the funeral.
Fergal and Sean's deaths had caught the imagination of the
whole country."

However, for the unionist community, the men had simply
been "terrorists who had attacked us and were caught in a
gun battle".

Retired Fermanagh Ulster Unionist Party MLA Sam Foster was
a member of the Ulster Special Constabulary in 1957,
assisting the RUC in patrols and searches.

"It was a very watchful time, patrolling the area during
what was regarded as a terrorist campaign. We got a bad
name but I was in the force for 20 years and I never gave
offence to anyone. I just did my duty. We were there to
guard the province. We contended we were British and that
was our right.

"Obviously, the station [in Brookeborough] was in the
centre of a village and it had to be defended and that was
how South and O'Hanlon got killed."

Crowds lined the route to the border to pay a final tribute
to South and O'Hanlon as their bodies were carried from
Enniskillen to the cathedral in Monaghan, where they lay in
state overnight. Thousands more attended the funerals in
Monaghan and Limerick.

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