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January 19, 2007

Can of Worms Opens on Informers & Handlers

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 01/19/07 Can Of Worms Opens On Informers And Handlers
BT 01/19/07 Killer Tout's Blood Money
BT 01/19/07 Sectarian Killing Began Evil Chain Of Death
BT 01/19/07 Grim Future Lies In Store For Haddock
NL 01/19/07 Adams: I'll Work With The DUP
NL 01/19/07 DUP Denies Go-Between
DJ 01/19/07 A Big Ask, But It's The Only Way - Fr. Canny
DJ 01/19/07 Cool Response To Adams' Offer - INLA Source
BT 01/19/07 Deadline For Stormont Is Final: Hain
UT 01/19/07 Sinn Fein Lose Funding Court Battle
AP 01/19/07 POWs: Irish Government Reneged On Commitments
VI 01/18/07 Bertie Reneged On Promise To Release Killers
UT 01/19/07 Michael Stone Back In Court For Murder Charges
RD 01/19/07 Public Visit Adams To East Belfast Significant
BT 01/19/07 Fury Greets Plan To Cut PSNI Numbers To 6,000
BT 01/19/07 Opin: It's A Bad Time To Gamble On Policing
BT 01/18/07 Opin: A Good Deal Will All Depend On Timing
NL 01/19/07 Opin: Yet Another BS Play Takes To The Boards


Can Of Worms Opens On World Of Informers And Their Handlers

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Police Ombudsman's report into the murder of Raymond
McCord Jnr will pose as many questions as it answers.
Security writer Brian Rowan reports

When that document of around 200 pages lands on the desks
of the Chief Constable and the Secretary of State today,
it's likely that it will be everything they feared it would
be and more.

The report on Operation Ballast - a Police Ombudsman
investigation into murder, informers and the Special Branch
- will open up another can of worms inside that dirty world
of intelligence.

This will be another damning report.

The inquiry by the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, was
prompted by a complaint about the police investigation into
the murder of Raymond McCord Jnr in 1997 - a member of the
UVF beaten to death by other members of the loyalist

McCord Jnr's father, also called Raymond, claimed that
Special Branch agents, including Mark Haddock were

On Monday, Raymond McCord will be able to say, 'I told you

For that is when Nuala O'Loan will release the public
version of her report.

There will be no naming of names - but those who have
watched this developing investigation most closely, will
know how to read between the lines.

Informer or informant one - will be how Haddock is

And we might well be told that in 2005 a PSNI review of the
McCord Jnr killing confirmed that informer or informant one
is "the main suspect for ordering the murder".

The public report will be more than a hundred pages - about
half the size of the document that Chief Constable Sir Hugh
Orde and Secretary of State Peter Hain will be given today.

There is a suggestion that the Ombudsman will report that
the Special Branch paid Haddock thousands of pounds.

But has the investigation established exactly how much he
was paid?

I don't have the answer to that question, but there are
hints in the background that there are missing Special
Branch documents.

It's understood Haddock was registered with the Special
Branch until sometime in 2003. He was a covert human
intelligence source.

Although we won't read their names in Monday's report, we
know the Ombudsman's investigation focuses on Haddock and
those who operated alongside him in the Mount Vernon UVF -
some of whom were also working for the Special Branch.

This report, at this crucial moment of decision for
republicans on the policing question, will put the
spotlight on the old Special Branch.

Some believe the timing of the report couldn't be worse,
but others argue that it demonstrates working
accountability within the policing system - that the
Ombudsman's investigators have been able to get inside a
world where they would not have been welcome.

How much of this report can be placed in the past?

How much has changed since Haddock was in the pay of the
Special Branch?

In what was going on, was it collusion, or was it something

How certain can people be that it will never happen again?

These are important questions - questions that the current
Chief Constable will be asked to answer, even though
Haddock was struck off or de-activated as an agent just
months after Hugh Orde took charge of policing here.

Will he say that all that happened that was wrong was
before his time - that it was under another policing

There is another question. Who suggested Haddock should be

Was it the Police Ombudsman's office, or was the decision
taken within the police and without any prompting?

This report examines murders, attempted murders and
punishment attacks involving a specific UVF unit in north

It does not look at the wider use of informers within the
loyalist organisation.

So, what we will get is only part of the picture - not all
of it - but enough to raise questions about the handling,
or maybe more accurately the lack of handling, of

What will the police of 2007 say?

They will say that things have changed, that there has been
"a root and branch review of informant handling", that all
informants have been reviewed and a significant number
stood down, that there are "tighter controls" and there is
a "new management" in place?

The report of the Ombudsman is likely to acknowledge all of
those things, but even if you take all of the questions out
of the present, you are still left asking how did it happen
in the past.

From inside the old Special Branch you'll be told that
Haddock the informer provided information that saved lives.

But how many did he take? Who knew, and when?

You'll not get the answers to those questions.

The Ombudsman has been looking at what information the
Special Branch had, and how it was used or not used.

Her findings will not make pleasant reading.

And what of Mark Haddock?

The UVF has already tried to kill him once. He must know
that if it gets the chance, that it will try again.


Killer Tout's Blood Money

Friday, January 19, 2007
By Brian Rowan

Mark Haddock - the UVF man linked to high-profile murders
in the 1990s - was paid tens of thousands of pounds by
Special Branch as a police informer, the Belfast Telegraph
can reveal today.

A damning Police Ombudsman's report to be published on
Monday will confirm that a Special Branch informer is a
suspect in the 1997 murder of Raymond McCord Jnr.

That informer is understood to be Haddock, a former UVF
leader in Mount Vernon in north Belfast.

The Ombudsman's report follows a three-year-long
investigation called Operation Ballast.

Its findings and recommendations were expected to be
delivered today to the Chief Constable and the Secretary of

A source has told this newspaper that in 2005 a PSNI review
of the McCord killing described a Special Branch informer
as "the main suspect for ordering the murder".

That informer was Haddock, who loyalists tried to murder
last year.

The Special Branch is understood to have paid Haddock tens
of thousands of pounds as a registered informer - what is
called a covert human intelligence source. He worked for
the police until 2003, when he was stood down or de-

There will be two reports on Operation Ballast - one
public, the other private.

Haddock will not be named in the public version, but, a
source says, will be referred to as informer or informant

The investigation by the Police Ombudsman followed a
complaint from the father of Raymond McCord Jnr - also

He claimed Special Branch agents, including Haddock, had a
role in the murder of his son, who was involved in the UVF
but later beaten to death by other members of the loyalist

Investigators from the Ombudsman's office have examined the
alleged role of Haddock in that killing and other terrorist

They have looked at his UVF unit in Mount Vernon - at
activities including murder, attempted murder and
punishment attacks, and they have identified other Special
Branch informers operating alongside Haddock.

The report does not examine the wider UVF organisation - or
the role of other Special Branch agents outside Haddock's

It will ask questions about what the Special Branch did, or
did not do, with intelligence information it had gathered.

Haddock was also accused in the Dail of the murder of
Catholic Sharon McKenna, who was shot dead in her home in
Belfast's Shore Road in 1993. Nuala O'Loan will make public
her findings at a news conference in a Belfast hotel on

There are some concerns about the timing of the report -
coming as it does just days before Sinn Fein will debate
republican involvement in policing at a special party
conference in Dublin.

The findings of Operation Ballast will once again put the
past activities of the Special Branch under a political

In his response to the report, Sir Hugh Orde is expected to
highlight a " root and branch review of informant
handling", a review of all informants and the
"decommissioning" of a significant number, as well as a "
new management" of Special Branch and "tighter controls".


Sectarian Killing That Began Evil Chain Of Death

Friday, January 19, 2007

The brother of the woman named as police informer Mark
Haddock's first murder victim speaks to Chris Thornton
ahead of a devastating report by Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan

Sharon McKenna's murder crossed a line. Even in north
Belfast, where sectarian murder was practically an ordinary
occurrence, her death stood out for its viciousness.

A 27-year-old Catholic from Newtownabbey, she had been
engaged in an act of goodwill when she met her death 14
years ago this week. She was cooking dinner in the Shore
Road home of an older Protestant friend who had just been
released from hospital, when a gunman forced his way in and
demanded her car keys.

He then blasted her twice with a shotgun. She died on the
floor of her friend's home for no reason other than being a
Catholic who was doing someone a good turn.

But her death violated more than just standards of decency.

It also corrupted the rule of law - within hours of her
death, police knew Mark Haddock, then a relatively low-
level member of the Mount Vernon UVF, had killed Sharon

They knew, because Haddock told them.

But because he was an informer and supposedly in a position
to save lives, he was not prosecuted. Instead, he was
protected and rewarded, and he went on to kill again and

Sharon McKenna's murder was the start of a damning chain of
events that will culminate on Monday with the publication
of a report by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

Its impact on policing is likely to be huge, not least
because Haddock is not simply a product of the Troubles. He
is believed to have been retained for some time by the
PSNI, which knew of his background, after many police
reforms were already in place.

Sharon's brother, Paul, who was 19 when she was killed,
says he never suspected her death was at the heart of such
a scandal.

"I just took it as another unfortunate random sectarian
killing that you get in this part of the world," he said.

"I never thought I'd be facing a day like Monday... As time
goes on, I'm realising more and more how explosive this
case could actually be."

An irony is that, from what he knows, Paul McKenna accepts
that police probably could not have stopped his sister's

But Mrs O'Loan's report is expected to make it plain that,
if police had acted after Sharon's death, many other
murders could have been prevented.

"He could have been and should have been stopped," Paul
McKenna said. "That's the bottom line. (But) I don't think
they could have ever stopped my sister's murder, from what
I'm led to believe.

"They (the UVF) suspected Haddock had been an informer,
which was true. The night of the murder, he was told what
his job was.

"He wasn't allowed to go out of the sight of his head
honchos within the UVF. He was taken straight to the scene
and he was told who and what to shoot.

"So he wasn't given a chance to even inform police.
Basically, he had to prove his bona fides in their
organisation because they suspected him of being a tout and
this was to get him off the hook. If he could do this, he
wasn't a police informer.

"But he should have been stopped right there."

THE only thing that seemed to stop was the investigation
into the murder. Prior to a new examination by the PSNI's
Historic Enquiries Team (HET), Paul McKenna says police
contacted his family about the investigation just once, two
weeks after the murder.

"In that whole time there was nothing," he said. "Straight
away you hoped they'd get the people that done it, but as
time went on, I thought to myself, 'It's not going to

"Then all this reared up - I've been let down, my family's
been let down, and a lot of other families have been let

Much of what happened came to light because of the campaign
of Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered on Haddock's
orders four years later. "I take my hat off to him," says
McKenna, "the way he's pursued it."

For his part, McCord says he is sickened by the same
failure to act against Haddock.

"They could have stopped him. The man was a killer. You
know, in '93 he admitted to police officers he murdered
Sharon McKenna," he said.

"Four years later, he had my son murdered. Think of the
murders he done between those times - the robberies, the
drug dealing... Think of the heartache it would have saved
so many families."

Including McKenna's. Paul believes his father's death was
related to grief over Sharon's murder, and the killing has
also taken its toll on the health of his mother, Collette.

"She still cries herself to sleep on numerous occasions to
this day," he said.

Paul McKenna is sceptical about the timing of an appeal for
information about his sister's murder, conducted by the HET
this week on the 14th anniversary of the murder.

Police insist it was the right time, but Paul McKenna
wonders why action came days before Mrs O'Loan's report.

"Obviously, I have to welcome any sort of a move, but the
more and more I think about it, the timing is a wee bit

He is hopeful that there will be developments in the wake
of Mrs O'Loan's report. "The expectation now would be that
charges would be brought against Haddock and the others
(including police officers) involved," said Paul McKenna.

"This isn't over by a long shot."


Grim Future Lies In Store For Imprisoned Former UVF Big

Friday, January 19, 2007
By David Gordon

Mark Haddock awaits next week's Ombudsman report in a
prison cell, stripped of his paramilitary power base and
the lifestyle that went with it.

A tight-knit circle of friends that surrounded him is gone
- two of them were even accused for a time of trying to
shoot him dead.

Haddock narrowly survived the gun attack last year, but it
left him a physical and mental mess, possibly needing a
colostomy bag for the rest of his life.

Having been exposed as a police informer, he will also have
to live the remainder of his days in fear of another murder

It was all very different in December 2002 when Haddock was
still a seemingly untouchable UVF big shot, living above
the law.

That was when he summoned Ballyclare pub doorman Trevor
Gowdy to Monkstown for the "crime" of standing up to some
of his underlings.

A gang led by Haddock then set upon the amateur boxer with
a hatchet and other weapons.

He managed to fight back with his bare hands and -
crucially as it turned out - bloodied Haddock in the

Mr Gowdy not only survived but was eventually able to give
police evidence. He and his girlfriend were moved out of
Northern Ireland on a witness protection programme, while
relatives in different parts of Co Antrim had their homes
attacked in a co-ordinated intimidation campaign.

When police swooped to make arrests in the summer of 2003,
Haddock managed to stay a step ahead of them and went on
the run.

A friend, David Hugh Miller - known as Reggie - was
arrested and charged with the Gowdy attack. He was later
cleared by a court.

At a bail hearing for Miller in August 2003, a crown
barrister said Haddock and another pal, Darren Stewart
Moore, were also wanted over the vicious assault. The
lawyer described them both as UVF men.

Moore was arrested within a few days, while Haddock was
caught fleeing to Wales.

Miller walked free in May 2005, after a court upheld an
"abuse of process" complaint from his legal team.

He had insisted that he could not have been present at the
Gowdy attack, because he was at a bank at the time.

Police failed to check this out by obtaining the bank's
security tape for the day in question.

The judge concluded that this amounted to a "serious fault"
by the officers. He halted Miller's trial on the grounds
that his ability to defend himself had been prejudiced.

Darren Moore also denied involvement. His trial was aborted
at the end of 2005, after his lawyers had questioned the
reliability of Mr Gowdy's evidence.

Still psychologically traumatised from the assault, the
former pub doorman had broken down in the witness box and
walked out of court, leading to the case being seriously

Mr Gowdy had provided the only evidence against Moore. The
judge decided to " stay" his trial, due to the inability of
defence lawyers to question the key witness.

However, there was corroborating evidence against Haddock -
his blood stains at the assault scene.

With his trial being held up, the loyalist was granted bail
against police advice in January 2006.

Five months later, he cheated death when UVF gunmen pumped
six bullets into his body.

Close mate - and former co-accused - Darren Moore was
charged with the murder bid, along with another long-time
friend of Haddock's, Ronald Bowe.

A PSNI detective told a June 2006 bail hearing for Bowe
that Haddock had given police an initial account of the
shooting and was "prepared to follow this through the court

On November 20 last year, the Gowdy assault case was
finally concluded with Haddock receiving a 10-year jail

Within eight days, the attempted murder charges against
both Moore and Bowe were dropped. It was stated in court
that Haddock did not want to pursue a complaint against
either man.

Moore told reporters that Haddock had phoned his father in
June last year and assured him that "everything would be
all right".

Moore said he would be taking legal advice about "a claim
for compensation for false imprisonment".


I'll Work With The DUP Says Adams

With republicans eight days away from a potentially
momentous decision to support the PSNI and the courts, the
News Letter has decided the time is right to conduct its
first formal interview with Gerry Adams, to test him on the
issue. Political Editor Stephen Dempster reports

A SECRET channel of communication between the DUP and Sinn
Fein leaderships was last night refuted by Ian Paisley's

Gerry Adams told the News Letter that the parties had been
passing messages to each other through an unnamed
"independent verifier".

He did not specify who the person is or how long the link
has been operating, but made it clear it was a go-between
additional to the British Government.

However, a DUP spokesman has denied such a link existed.

"Of course, there are continual meetings with the
Government on a host of issues. They are the only people we
engage with on matters relating to political negotiating,"
he said.

"Who the Government decides to talk to is up to them. It is
no surprise they talk to republicans.

"We have no knowledge of any independent verifier who is in
a position to know what business we are engaging in with
the Government.

"Our position on policing and all other matters is very
clear and we have no requirement to deliver messages by any
other means. We have a publicly-stated position."

Mr Adams' claim about the go-between came as he explained
his understanding of the negotiations which took place over
the Christmas period, leading to the calling of a Sinn Fein
special conference (Ard Fheis) on policing.

For the first time, he also indicated that if the
conference gives solid backing to his motion of support for
the PSNI and the courts, republicans will follow up with
co-operation on the ground, as required by the DUP.

There has been uncertainty on that point.

If the conference gives a yes, responsibility passes back
to the party's executive (Ard Comhairle) to implement the
physical out-workings of the motion.

Remarks Mr Adams made last weekend suggested his party may
want the re-establishment of the political institutions and
devolution of policing and justice powers before
implementing the motion.

In an interview with the News Letter yesterday, the Sinn
Fein leader was guarded, on this point – but the intent
seemed to be there.

He said: "Well, let's get through the Ard Fheis in the
first instance. We are not, if we succeed in getting Ard
Fheis support for the motion, going to do that just for the
craic. And when Sinn Fein delivers, Sinn Fein delivers big

"And I am not going to put republicans through the
emotional rollercoaster, that I am sure people are being
put through in this fortnight, and I'm not going to
hopefully get Ard Fheis endorsement, and not proceed. But I
can only proceed if I am mandated by the Ard Fheis."

Mr Adams has claimed he expected the DUP leadership to
respond to the announcement of the conference with a pre-
arranged text indicating unionist agreement to the
devolution of policing and justice – if republicans
supported law and order in word and deed.

Ian Paisley firmly rejected any such behind-the-scenes

Teasing out the issue, Mr Adams was asked: "Can you tell us
who showed this alleged script from the DUP? And who did
they say it came from (within the DUP)?"

Mr Adams said that around three weeks before Christmas, he
went to the British Government and said he wanted to go to
the party's executive (Ard Comhairle) and put a motion to
it supporting the police and calling an Ard Fheis.

"And I said (to the Government), I want you to go and tell
the DUP that," he said.

Mr Adams then revealed a secret link with the DUP.

"Now we also have an independent channel. And as the
British Government sent word to the DUP, we also verified
through the independent channel that the DUP had that
information. Working back through both channels," he

It has often been speculated that the DUP and Sinn Fein
leaderships were in contact through a go-between.

Mr Adams referred to the link to back up his claim that the
DUP had agreed to a form of pre-arranged words in response
to the calling of an Ard Fheis.

Before Christmas, he said, the DUP protested it did not
know what motion was going to be put.

"I said, 'well, okay, I will show them the motion'. I
handed the motion to Peter Hain. It was passed to the DUP.
We again verified through the independent channel that they
had received it.

"They did make a number of suggested changes. Three in all.
I said that if we were going to deal with this we wanted
words that they would say."

He said the DUP "were very sensitive about any notion of

"We said fair enough, we can agree this in private."

There was an exchange of papers, through the Government, in
the week prior to Christmas.

"They were satisfied with the motion and we were satisfied
with the words (of response from the DUP)," the West
Belfast MP said, although "they weren't perfect words".

On December 29, Sinn Fein agreed the motion and special
conference. Mr Adams was then advised a DUP response would
feature in Mr Paisley's New Year message, but when the
message appeared, the script Mr Adams alleges was agreed
was not included.

The DUP leader welcomed the special conference and said
that if there was support for the police in word, delivered
in deed and tested, his party would "not be found wanting"
in response. There was no move towards the transfer of
policing and justice powers.

Mr Adams decided to make public the words he believed the
DUP were meant to deliver, which committed to devolving
policing and justice.

He said: "We sent word by the independent channel (to the
DUP) and we told the British Government we were putting out
what we were expecting because it was important as we went
into another Ard Comhairle that our delegates knew the
basis of the first motion, which included the contribution
from the DUP, no longer stood."

Mr Paisley said many forms of words were referred to in
negotiation but he never agreed to anything.

Mr Adams said: "We will move on without the DUP.
Rejectionist unionism doesn't want change. It needs
stagnation. Those of us who want maximum change need the
process driven on."


NL: It's an unusual situation, the News Letter conducting a
formal interview with the leader of Sinn Fein. A major
reason for this not happening in the past, putting it
bluntly, is that a large section of our readership, after
years of terror, lies and deceit, abhor Gerry Adams and
republicanism. Do you understand why they wouldn't trust
you or believe what you have to say?

GA: Well, I don't accept the premise that you put, in terms
of calling Sinn Fein deceitful. But of course people don't
trust each other, though I don't think it is unique. I
mean, in politics, Fine Gael doesn't trust Fianna Fail, in
Britain, the Labour Party doesn't trust the Tories. The
Ulster Unionist's here do not trust the DUP, and vice

NL: Yes, but the difference being there has been blood on
the streets here….

GA: Absolutely, and every section has suffered. We have all
buried the dead, our friends, our neighbours – people have
buried loved ones. So absence of trust is then reinforced
by the fact that we are coming out of conflict. But I don't
think that should stop people engaging.

NL:: You are making the argument to republicans that the
time is right to support the police. What's so different in
policing now, compared to two or three years ago?

GA: Well, the Good Friday Agreement set out a vision of a
new beginning to policing. Patten and others then brought
about a huge number of recommendations to put in place. But
the British system has tried to claw back on the

NL: But give me an example of what has fundamentally
changed between the time the SDLP signed up to policing and

GA: The human rights ethic, the strengthening of democratic
accountability mechanisms, a whole range of other matters
which have to do with mechanisms for a greater
accountability, for building an accountable force to try
and ensure that police officers uphold people's rights, as
opposed to being an armed wing of the State which
suppresses people.

NL: But why not just support the police? You have said
yourself it is the right thing to do, we are living in a
country where peace and democracy reign and it is peaceful
and democratic to support the police.

GA: Well, we have peace, in so far as there is an absence
of violence. I don't think we have democracy because even
after the experimental project of the Good Friday Agreement
we have a British Direct Rule minister who just suspends
the democratic institutions. We can debate in the Assembly
but we have no authority.

NL: But policing accountability surely cannot be the issue
anymore because we have the most accountable police force
in Europe, if not the world. The issue now is down to
transfer of powers and Sinn Fein refusing to support the
police while it remains in British State hands.

GA: Okay, you are right, in terms of the Patten
recommendations, there are more accountability mechanisms
here than say in Garda Siochana, but do not think that
because of that we have the most accountable police
service. We have not yet got that.

That is a matter of ongoing work. This may be provocative,
but it is not meant to be... the people who know best about
bad policing are the people who have been on the bad end of

And let me say this: the DUP is in no position to lecture
anyone on policing. The DUP, with their various forays into
paramilitarism and actually establishing the Ulster
Resistance and Third Force, the illegal demonstrations over
the last 30 years or so…

NL: But people holding demonstrations is very different
from actually planting bombs and shooting people dead as
the IRA did.

GA: Well, I don't want to say anything too provocative but
we saw Billy Wright's public appearance alongside William
McCrea and Ian Paisley at various times flanked by

No political section here has any credibility in lecturing
the other about law and order.

But let's set that aside and move forward on the basis that
I'm prepared to work with the DUP. No matter what I think
of them, their politics or anything else.

They are people who obviously have a love of this country –
however you describe it – and who obviously want to do the
best thing from their point of view, and I have to respect

NL: There's some uncertainty over the last week about what
Sinn Fein will do in the wake of an Ard Fheis saying yes to
the PSNI and the courts. Will there be implementation of
police support, on the ground, immediately following the
Ard Fheis?

GA: We are not going to, if we succeed in getting Ard Fheis
support for the motion, do that just for the craic. We are
doing it because we want to build momentum to the
situation. And when Sinn Fein delivers, Sinn Fein delivers
big time.

And I am not going to put republicans through the emotional
rollercoaster that I am sure people are being put through,
in this fortnight, and I'm not going to hopefully get Ard
Fheis endorsement for that and not proceed. But I can only
proceed if I am mandated by the Ard Fheis.

But it is quite provocative to many republicans for the DUP
to be saying there has to be a testing period and delivery
and all that.

NL: But one of the reasons for this testing period is that
we have been here before with decommissioning. Unionists
were promised it time and again but there were so many
false starts.

But the crux of the matter is probably going to be the
transfer of policing and justice powers.

Is Sinn Fein accepting of the idea the DUP put forward of
an independent person having the justice minister's
position for whatever time necessary?

GA: Well, that is not the big challenge. The big challenge
and it's a challenge for the DUP, is to be in the power-
sharing executive by March 26.

NL: What you are saying then is that you are going to go
for policing without the transfer of powers?

GA: No, I'm not saying that. I'm putting this to you.

If the DUP go into the power-sharing executive on March 26,
as they are entitled to do and they should do, it's beyond
logic that later on they would disengage from that, having
worked with Sinn Fein ministers in other capacities in the

So the big crux moment isn't around the transfer of powers
– although we need to see that – but is actually around
embracing and being part of the power-sharing executive as
outlined by the St Andrews Agreement 2006.

19 January 2007



A ROW broke out last night after Gerry Adams claimed a
secret channel of communication existed between the
leadership of the DUP and Sinn Fein.

He said an "independent verifier" has been passing messages
between the parties during political negotiations.

But the DUP, which refuses to speak to Sinn Fein,
categorically denied this.

"We have no knowledge of any independent verifier who is in
a position to know what business we are engaging in," said
a DUP spokesman.

"Our position on policing and all other matters is very
clear and we have no requirement to deliver messages by any
other means."

In a News Letter interview today, however, Mr Adams talks
of the role a go-between plays.

He also firmly indicates that if a special Sinn Fein
conference backs his motion of support for the PSNI and the
courts, republicans will follow-up with cooperation on the

"We are not going to hold the Ard Fheis just for the
crack," he notes. "And I am not going to put republicans
through the emotional rollercoaster ... and not proceed.
But I can only proceed if I am mandated by the Ard Fheis."

19 January 2007


A Big Ask, But It's The Only Way - Fr. Canny

"You have heard about the B men, the cruel RUC. You have
heard about the Black and Tans in bygone history"

So run the words of a popular nationalist song that has
been sung by many in pubs, clubs and at parties over the
past 35 years.

But now it is to be all so different and a new song could
perhaps run, "We are all off to join the PSNI and in the
morning". Or are we?

I want to begin by clearly stating my own position. I
firmly believe that England has no place in Ireland and
that while there is British occupation there will always be
the potential for conflict and rebellion. I am also very
clear in my own mind, as a Christian, that violence can
never and should never have been used as a method to get
British withdrawal. Democratic means of discussion and
debate are the only acceptable means.

The policing debate is a big debate in the nationalist
community which, if it is to have a satisfactory outcome,
must involve everyone not just Sinn Fein and their
supporters. Many column inches have been written over the
past number of years and equally as many words have been
expounded by almost everyone. Civic policing, accountable
policing, policing free from political interference, police
as a service as opposed to a force - the list goes on - is
the type of policing that we all long to see.

Given the history of police and policing in Ireland, deep-
rooted views and suspicions will be hard to overcome. Hand-
in-hand with policing are the words "informer", "tout", and
"traitor". The outlook for a person branded as an informer
or tout was bleak. The penalty was the ultimate price –
namely death.

To give some idea of the gap that exists between what might
be the ideal and reality I take the opportunity to recall a
few practical examples on the ground.

A number of months ago a few local children were in the
Cathedral grounds running about but two of them aged about
three and four years decided to climb up the granite stones
surrounding the grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes. It was
brought to my attention and I decided in the interest of
safety to see that they came down. I approached them and
asked them to come down, which they did, then I told them
not to be climbing the grotto again to which one of them
said that he would if he wanted to and nobody would stop
him. Somewhat taken aback and exasperated I said that if he
were to be caught climbing again I would send for the
police and that he would be in very serious trouble. To my
surprise he said, "no, you will not" to which I said "why
not?" He very quickly replied by saying, "no body in these
parts sends for the police and you (referring to me) will
not do it either!".

On other occasions especially that of a sudden or
unexpected death people react with words like "do they have
to come?" when informed by the doctor that all unexpected
deaths must be reported to the police. In some places
locally when the police come on such an occasion they are
stoned by local youths.

The need for accountable policing, trust, good citizenship
and co-operation with the civil authorities is part and
parcel of a mature society. Given our history and
experience over the recent years a lot of work has to be
done. Much soul searching and serious discussion is needed.
We have come a very long way but a very significant amount
of the journey lies ahead. Full co-operation is, in my
opinion, a very big ask. But a necessary ask.

Police according to the dictionary is "an official group of
people employed by a state to prevent and to solve crimes
and keep public order". It also implies that for the smooth
running of society it is necessary to have rules and
regulations and by implication the necessary people to
ensure that such rules are kept.

Good citizens

During the period of time called "the troubles" life was to
some extent black and white. Big crimes, murder, rape, car
theft and house burglary (to get insurance) was reported.
Few disputed this. Other crimes such as illegal sale of
cigarettes, fuel laundering, TV licence evasion, non
payment of car tax to name but some were, and in many cases
still are, not seen as criminal behaviour. We have all
heard and used the phrase "sure there is no harm in it" or
"it is the government that is losing out - so what?"

When does behaving as a good citizen and letting the police
know what is happening differ from being a tout. When does
reporting someone who is driving under the influence of
alcohol or when disqualified be seen for what it is as
opposed to being labelled as an informer?


Another aspect of policing is trust. To trust another
person they have to be known to us. How many of us know a
policeman or woman in our local police station. I can say
that I know 3 policemen, just as in knowing. I have met
them in a formal capacity at different civic functions.
They are in positions of senior management. I do not know
even one policeperson locally who is on the daily beat. If
I do not know one police person the chances of people
living in the various streets in the city knowing one is
less likely. The opportunity to get to know, to build up
trust, does not exist. Perhaps I should shoulder some of
the blame!

It is only when a policemen plays football for a local side
in the Creggan, Brandywell, Top of the Hill or greater
Shantallow area that people will get to know them and trust
them. It is only when they can drink in local bars, eat in
local restaurants and worship in local churches that the
opportunities to build up trust will be made available to

The issue of policing and the debate surrounding policing
is a huge topic. It is an important debate that must be
faced up to by all who are responsible citizens in our

It involves all. We must know the people who police our
society so that we can build up the trust that is
necessary. Likewise as citizens who believe that policing
is a necessary part of life we need to leave behind the old
thinking. Words like touting; informing must be confined to
the pages of history and replaced by co-operation, the good
of society and a better society for all.

Deeply emotional

Writing in the "Sunday Journal" under the heading "is it
the jersey or something deeper" I reflected on my
experience of supporting England during the World Cup. As
part of that article I reflected on the experience of
wearing an England football jersey for a charity event.
Deep feelings, 600 hundred years of history, injustices by
the English in Ireland and around the world, real and
imagined came to mind. Ghosts that lay dormant, that I was
not aware of, came to haunt me. It was only the wearing of
an England jersey in public but it proved to be a very big
step. If the wearing of an England jersey proved to be that
difficult for me what difficulties will the wearing of a
police uniform present to people from the nationalist
community. A lot of ghosts will have to be exorcised. Young
people might in time accept this as normal but for many
older people a police uniform hanging in a bedroom will
prove very challenging. The nationalist song reflected on
"a uniform hanging in what's known as fathers room, a
uniform so simple in its style." This romantic republican
uniform to be replaced by a police uniform, shirt and cap.
For many it is a very big ask, but there is no other way!

Never too late

For some people the Sinn Fein motion to accept the PSNI and
the rule of law as well as taking their places on the
policing boards is too little too late, for others it is a
step too far. For some people the present proposed
arrangements is a modern and updated version of British
rule in Ireland to be enforced by Sinn Fein, for many more
it is the best way forward, all parties talking and working
with each other for the good of all on this island.

I believe that it is never too late to do the right thing.
The Sinn Fein leadership is taking a very big and
courageous step and need to be encouraged to continue the
long and fraught journey that they have embarked on.

The history of our relationship with our nearest neighbour
England has been a troublesome one. England has been seen
as the enemy No 1. This has been primarily because of its
occupation of part of our country. Previous police forces
(the B men, the RUC) were seen as enforcing British rule in
our country. This was frequently done by force and in a
partisan manner. Force, violence and the taking of life
cannot break the bondage referred to in the popular
republican song "The 4 Green Fields", nor can the others
who live on this island be forced into submission. Dialogue
and co-operation is the only way forward. A new fragile co-
operation and co-existence exists and must be encouraged at
all times.

The hurts and the songs of history must be a reminder to
all of us that a new beginning is necessary. We might not
be off to join the PSNI tomorrow morning but hopefully
neither will we throw stones at them or burn them out of
their homes if they should choose to live in our

The ask might be big but for all right thinking people
there is no other way. 16/01/2007

19 January 2007


Cool Response To Adams' Offer - "He's Just Playing
Politics" - INLA Source

GERRY ADAMS' Public Pledge That He Will Meet With The INLA,
Real IRA and Continuity IRA has been branded a disingenuous
publicity stunt by dissident republicans in Derry.

In a statement released by Sinn Fein yesterday morning, the
party leader announced that he was prepared to meet with
and brief in detail the leaderships of the INLA, CIRA and
RIRA on the policing issue as well as other matters
including the release of political prisoners.

by Ian Cullen

"I want to meet with these organisations to brief them in
detail on current developments and impress upon them my
belief that the current Sinn Fein strategy is the best way
forward for our community and for the wider republican

"I am willing to work with the families of prisoners
belonging to or supportive of these groups and I have
already raised with both governments a number of issues,
including the conditions in Maghaberry Prison and the
transfer of prisoners held in England back to Ireland.

Mr. Adams made the comments following a meeting of up to
600 republicans in Derry's Tower Hotel to oppose Sinn
Fein's new policing strategy.

But speaking to the 'Journal' last night, an INLA source in
the North West said the group would not be meeting with the
Sinn Fein leader.

"Adams is just playing politics with this public statement
because he knows the back channels for meetings. The back
channels to set up meetings between the groups are well
established and on his going public with this I would
question his sincerity."

At the Ard Fheis of the IRSP (the political wing of the
INLA) last month any type of endorsement of the PSNI was
totally rejected as it would be an "endorsement of the
British State".

Gary Donnelly of the 32 County Sovereeinty Movement (the
Real IRA's political wing) in Derry is treating Mr. Adam's
statement with similar sceptecism.

"These groups see this as nothing more than PR stunt. Any
genuine attempt to talk to these groups would be made in
secret because we're talking about secret organisations.
Gerry Adams knows not to do it through the media.
Republicans on the ground are viewing this as a PR stunt
not a serious attempt to engage in dialogue.

"These people (Sinn Fein) have not engaged in any dialogue
with these groups in the past, these groups have actually
been oppressed by the provisional movement.

"Over the period of the last few years people inside Sinn
Fein who have spoken out against moves by the leadership
were hounded out of the party, demonised and villified."

In his statement, Mr. Adams branded the actions of
republicans who continue to engage in armed struggle

"Their actions put the lives of innocent people - and their
own members - in grave danger. The only product of their
campaign is incidents like the tragedy of Omagh - where
republican and unionist lives were taken - and the
destroyed lives of an increasing number of young people
facing long prison sentences.

"I appeal to those groups engaged in armed actions to end
them. I do not want to see any other people killed or
imprisoned as a result of their activities. I welcome the
decision of republicans who oppose Sinn Fiin, to stand in
the Assembly elections. Elections are the proper arena for
testing different political views and analysis and I look
forward to defending and promoting and winning popular re-
endorsement of the Sinn Fein peace strategy."

19 January 2007


Deadline For Stormont Is Final: Hain

[Published: Friday 19, January 2007 - 08:41]
By Chris Thornton

Peter Hain repeated last night that the March 26 deadline
for restoring Stormont is written in stone.

He said politicians will have to choose between dissolution
or devolution on that date, because "there is nothing in

The Secretary of State was responding to yesterday's
Belfast Telegraph editorial that said the politicians
should be given more time if the need it.

The leader column argued that it would be "very unwise" to
hold an election about a deal that was still being worked

But Mr Hain said the schedule won't be changed, adding that
politicians " face a simple choice".

He said: "Either it is restoration of the Assembly and an
Executive on March 26, or dissolution. There is nothing in
between. Now is the time for politicians to seize the
initiative and restore devolution.

"If this opportunity is missed, the Assembly will be
dissolved and the prospect of locally accountable
Government gone for the foreseeable future.

"March 26 is the one date for the restoration of devolved
government. There is, and can be, no slippage of the St
Andrews timeframe.

"The people of Northern Ireland will not stand for
politicians dragging this out any longer. They, like me,
believe that now is the time for politicians to go into
devolved government together or Stormont closes down.

"Those who are urging for slippage to the St Andrews
timeframe cannot guarantee that devolution will take place
at a later date, and maybe there are some politicians who
do not want to see a return of devolved Government. But no-
one should have any doubts that the Government cannot allow
the process to drift on aimless. It's devolution by March
26 or dissolution."

An opinion poll in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph showed 49%
of people support the St Andrews Agreement, but many doubt
whether it will work.

© Belfast Telegraph


Sinn Fein Lose Funding Court Battle

Sinn Fein has suffered defeat in its High Court battle over
the Northern Ireland Secretary's decision to deny the
organisation party political funding between April 2004 and
November 2005 following allegations of paramilitary

The judges ruled today that, in any event, Sinn Fein`s
application for permission to seek judicial review had to
fail because there had been too long a delay in the party
launching its legal challenge.

In a joint written judgment, the judges described how the
IMC was set up following a 2003 agreement between the UK
and Irish governments, and one of its principal roles was
to report on whether there were any connections between
political parties in Northern Ireland and paramilitary

Because the IMC has immunity from legal action, Sinn Fein
and Conor Murphy, the party`s MP for Newry and Armagh, had
applied for judicial review over the way the Northern
Ireland Secretary relied on its recommendations to withdraw
public funding.

The court heard the IMC`s first report was published in
April 2004 and its 12th, and latest, appeared last October.

Rabinder Singh QC, appearing for Sinn Fein, said the first
report concluded that "Sinn Fein must bear its
responsibility for the continuation by (the IRA) of illegal
paramilitary activity".

In its third report of November 2004, the IMC concluded
that the IRA had been involved in various criinal acts",
and that Sinn Fein had not "sufficiently discharged its
responsibility" to prevent them.

The fourth report, published in February 2005, was an ad
hoc report specifically dealing with the £26 million
robbery at the headquarters of the Northern Bank in Belfast
in December 2004.

It concluded that the IRA was responsible for the robbery,
as well as other robberies and abductions, but Sinn Fein
should also bear responsibility and face financial

Mr Singh said that as a result of those reports, as well as
the fifth published in May 2005 and the seventh published
in October 2005, the IMC recommended that Sinn Fein should
be denied public funding to which it would otherwise have
been entitled under the Financial Assistance for Political
Parties Scheme 2002.

On the basis of those recommendations, the Northern Ireland
Secretary suspended funding between April 2004 and November

Mr Singh argued that the IMC reports were fatally flawed as
there had been apparent bias on the part of Lord Alderdice
and John Grieve, both IMC members appointed by the UK

Other bias accusations were made against Joe Brosnan,
appointed by the Irish Government, and Richard Kerr, a
nominee of the US government.

Mr Singh also argued the IMC had failed to apply any
standard of proof to its decision-making process, and that
had prevented it from making "fair or meaningful"
assessments of the facts.

There was also a failure to inform Sinn Fein properly of
the case it had to answer prior to making adverse findings.

In today`s judgment, the judges rejected all Sinn Fein

They pointed out that, since funding was restored on
November 1 2005, subsequent IMC reports "have all supported
the continuation of such financial assistance, or at least
have provided no basis for withholding it again".


POW Release: Irish Government Reneged On Commitments

The release of the Castlerea Prisoners

Below we reprint an excerpt from an article published in
this week’s Village Magazine in which Sinn Féin President
Gerry Adams again calls for the release of the republican
prisoners held in Castlerea jail. In Village Adams
describes how the Irish Government recently used the
emotive issue of these prisoners to avoid explaining their
absence from recent political talks.

Because the government raised the issue Adams says he feels
it is time to set the record straight, emphasising that he
does so in the knowledge of the great grief suffered by the
McCabe family and particularly by Mrs. McCabe and expresses
his deep sorrow for her loss.

The full article by Gerry Adams can be read in Village
Magazine (see next story)


Bertie Reneged On Promise To Release Killers

Thursday, 18 January 2007

For the first time, Gerry Adams outlines in detail his
negotiations with the Irish government on the release of
the killers of Jerry McCabe; how this was formally agreed;
how Michael McDowell was to fly to Limerick to inform Ann
McCabe; and how at the time of the Good Friday Agreement
Bertie Ahern gave an explicit assurance on the release of
these men

Recently, I expressed a deep sense of disappointment at the
inadequate role of the Irish government in the ongoing

The Irish government dismissed my concerns as pique at its
refusal to release the Castlerea prisoners.

This is not the case. My concern at this time is about the
Irish government’s overall failure to play any meaningful
role in the recent negotiations, as it should have done.
Instead of being briefed about developments, they should
have been leading the negotiations as equal partners with
the British government. They should have been working with
us to see MI5 removed from civic policing, something of
huge interest to people across Ireland, they should have
been helping in the work to try and get the powersharing
institutions up and running by 26 March and they should
have been dealing with all the outstanding issues for which
they are responsible.

But because they probably surmised that I didn’t want a
distracting side argument with them, when the main focus
needed to be on the Brits and the DUP, they used the
emotive issue of the Castlerea prisoners in order to avoid
addressing their absence from the talks.

However because they raised the issue of the Castlerea
prisoners again, I feel it is time to set the record
straight on this matter. I do so in the knowledge of the
great grief suffered by the McCabe family and particularly
by Ann McCabe. I am deeply sorry for her loss.

In 2003 the government agreed arrangements with Sinn Féin
for the release of these prisoners. This involved the
minister for justice flying by helicopter to Limerick to
tell Garda Jerry McCabe’s widow Ann that the men were being

The backdrop to this was a series of intense discussions
between Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionist Party and the
British and Irish governments.

In our discussions with the British government and the
unionists, we covered a wide range of issues including
equality, powersharing, policing, the transfer of powers on
policing and justice, the demilitarisation of society,
human rights and the need for an election to the assembly.

Our discussions with the Irish government dealt with all of
these issues, as well as matters which are the direct
responsibility of the government like northern
representation in southern institutions, the Castlerea
prisoners, the all-Ireland institutions and other matters.

Sinn Féin made clear our view that the Castlerea prisoners
are qualifying prisoners under the terms of the Good Friday
Agreement and that they should be released. During the Good
Friday Agreement negotiations the Taoiseach agreed with me
that if these prisoners, who were on remand at the time,
were sentenced they would be included in the early-release
schemes contained in the agreement. As is now well known,
the Taoiseach didn’t keep that commitment.

However in 2003 there was an agreement by the Irish
government that following a positive report by General de
Chastelain, the Castlerea prisoners would be immediately

The agreed sequence involved:

• The announcement of an election by the British government

• A statement by me

• A statement from the IRA leadership: in which it accepted
my assessment as reflecting the IRA position; a commitment
by the IRA to meet with the IICD and begin the process of
putting arms beyond use at the earliest opportunity; and a
further act of putting arms beyond use to be ratified under
the agreed scheme

• An act of putting arms beyond use

• An IRA statement confirming this

• A report by the IICD

• The release of the Castlerea prisoners

• A statement by David Trimble

• A joint statement by the two governments

Martin McGuinness and I negotiated the Castlerea aspect
directly with the Irish government and the Department of

It was agreed that following the confirmation by General de
Chastelain of the IRA putting arms beyond use the four
prisoners, Kevin Walsh, Pearse McCauley, Jeremiah Sheehy
and Mick O’Neill would be released.

Simultaneously with this, Michael McDowell would fly by
helicopter to Limerick to inform Jerry McCabe’s widow, Ann.

On 20 October Martin Ferris visited Castlerea Prison where
he informed Kevin Walsh of the arrangements. The prison
governor was aware of these developments. Sinn Féin
organised a van to pick up the four prisoners and transport
them away from any possible contact with the media.

Despite the fact that republicans kept all of our
commitments the Irish government reneged on their

Almost a year later Sinn Féin was engaged in another round
of intense negotiations with the British and Irish
governments and the DUP. Once again the issue of the
Castlerea prisoners was negotiated.

On 17 September 2004, the Irish government confirmed that
in the context of an agreement being reached:

• The government would be prepared at that time to
authorise the release of the persons convicted in relation
to the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe

• Pending their release they would also be considered for
short periods of temporary release for individual prisoners
as is normal for prisoners who are coming to the end of
longer periods in custody.

Just over one month later on 27 October the government’s
position was given in writing to Sinn Féin. It confirmed
that the prisoners would be released in the context of an
agreement. The government also said that no public
reference could be made in relation to these matters prior
to the minister informing Ann McCabe and Ben O’Sullivan,
Jerry McCabe’s garda partner.

Less than a month later on 19 November in an ‘Annex I’
entitled ‘Castlerea Prisoners’, as part of an ‘Outline for
a comprehensive Agreement’, the government set out its
position in detail in the event of a comprehensive deal.
This now included ‘the Minister for Justice, Equality and
Law reform meeting as quickly as possible with
representatives of the McCabe and O’Sullivan families’.

It confirmed the terms under which the prisoners would
receive temporary release and that, if by 23 December
republicans had kept to our commitments, the government
“will at that time authorise the release of the prisoners,
under the provision of Section 13 of the Offences against
the State Act, 1939”. Because of pending extradition
proceedings against Pearse McCauley it was acknowledged
that it may be necessary “for legal reasons for his release
to be authorised under the Provisions of the Criminal
Justice Act 1960”.

Finally, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern confirmed that the release
of the Castlerea prisoners was a part of the negotiations
in remarks he made in the Dáil on 1 December 2004.

In response to questions he confirmed that in the context
of a comprehensive agreement and republicans keeping to
their commitments in that agreement: “The Government, as
part of a comprehensive agreement, would give consideration
to the early release of the prisoners, not under the Good
Friday Agreement but under the earlier acts, of which I
think two are involved. That is still the position of the
government. I have confirmed this a number of times. I know
the difficulties involved and that we would have to engage
in discussions with the families, which we would do, and
the Garda representative body. It is still an outstanding
issue. To be frank and open – this is the place to say it –
it is my belief that if we are to have a comprehensive
agreement, this is an issue that will have to be part of
the final deal. This is not a question on which I want to
have ambiguity. If we are to have a comprehensive deal,
this matter will be part of it and I would recommend that
that be the case. I do not see how we will be able to deal
with it otherwise.”

Since then of course the government has reneged on these
commitments, as it has on other issues. Fair enough. That
happens in negotiations, in politics, in life. But any
pretence that the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat
coalition has any principles on the release of the
Castlerea prisoners is nonsense.


Michael Stone Back In Court For Murder Charges

Loyalist killer Michael Stone has again been remanded in
custody charged with the attempted murder of Sinn Fein
leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

Stone, 51, spoke only to confirm his name when he appeared
at Belfast Magistrates` Court via video link from the top-
security Maghaberry Prison where he is being held.

He was remanded to appear before the same court on February

Stone was arrested on November 24 when he stormed the
Stormont Parliament building and was stopped by security
staff as he tried to enter the main revolving front door.

He was charged with attempting to murder five people - the
Sinn Fein chiefs, the two security staff who detained him,
and an unnamed person.

He was also charged with possession of an imitation
firearm, explosives and articles likely to be of use to

Stone was on licence after being freed early from his
sentence for the murders of three people in a gun and
grenade attack on an IRA funeral when he was arrested.

Since the Stormont incident, he has had his licence revoked
and been ordered to serve the remainder of his life

During a bail application last month, Stone`s lawyer told
the Northern Ireland High Court that his actions at
Stormont were "performance art" and he did not intend to
hurt anyone.


Public Visit Adams To East Belfast Significant

BELFAST - The public visit of Gerry Adams to the Protestant
heartland of Belfast was significant. The presence of Mr
Adams on the funeral of David Ervin, who died in Belfast on
January 8th, is testament to the efforts of men like Ervine
who fostered a new kind of Unionism in Northern Ireland.

Only a few years ago it would have been unthinkable that
Gerry Adams, the father-figure of modern Irish Nationalism
in Northern Ireland, would be seen in public in the ultra-
Protestant area of East Belfast. This was all the more so
because the IRA and Sinn Fein, the party of radical
Nationalism in Ireland and the party of which Adams is the
President, are regarded by even „the dogs of the road”, as
the Belfast saying goes, as being virtually
indistinguishable from each other, both making up what is
coyly termed ”The Republican Movement”.

What brought about the almost miraculous sighting of Adams
in the Protestant heartland of Belfast, was the funeral of
his former ”enemy in arms”, David Ervine, the leader of the
Progressive Unionist Party, a political party strongly
linked with Protestant paramilitaries and, in the past, the
sworn enemies of Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein and the Nationalist
and Roman Catholic population of this small Province, where
religion and politics have played such an interlinked role.

In the new climate of what passes for peace in Northern
Ireland, Adams had come to pay tribute and respect to a
man, who like himself, had travelled a long political road
in the search of a peaceful settlement in Ulster and who
could only have made that journey by first of all being
rooted in one wing of the sectarian societies which both
men came to represent. For both men, their roles as
political activists in violent and deadly contexts gave
them the authority to be able to make decisions and lead
their people in ways which would have been impossible for
anyone who had not been steeped in the conflict.

Ervine was closely linked with the Protestant Ulster
Volunteer Force (The UVF), which he joined at the age of
19. He was arrested in 1974 in a car loaded with explosives
and was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment in the
notorious Long Kesh prison. While there, he came under the
influence of another Loyalist Protestant, Gusty Spence, who
helped him to think in a political way about his actions
and who helped him to understand the politics of a divided

After release in 1980, Ervine engaged in politics and was
eventually elected to the Northern Irish Assembly in 1998,
being re-elected in 2003. He was known for his eloquent way
of speaking. He was articulate and could argue his case
well and he became a powerful advocate of a peaceful way
forward through finding accommodation with the many other
factions in Northern Irish politics, particularly Sinn Fein
and the Nationalist community. He used so many long words
that many accused him of having „swallowed a dictionary”,
but he was much in demand by news organisations for
interviews and analysis and he rarely failed to sum up a
situation and explain it in a few well-chosen sentences.

He was the intelligent face of radical Unionism and sought
to establish a Unionism which would divorce itself from its
religious past and argue its case in purely political
terms. He understood, through his association with Gusty
Spence, that Middle-class Unionism had little to offer the
working-class communities and he tried to orientate the
Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), which he headed, to be
the voice of the ordinary, working man and woman.

Ervine, 53 years old, died at the threshold of a crucial
year for Northern Ireland, with much negotiation going on
at the moment in efforts to revive the powers of devolved
government. He suffered a heart attack, then a stroke,
followed by a brain haemorrhage and died in Belfast on
January 8th. His funeral was held on Friday, January 12th.
The presence of Mr Adams, surrounded by bodyguards, was
significant. Adams sat next to loyalists who in recent
times would have been more than happy to dispose of him.

In 1984, he was the target of a loyalist assassination
attempt on his life, and on the Shankill Road, the very
heart of East Belfast and the place most associated with
loyalism, where memories are long, many will have
remembered as if it were yesterday the IRA bombing of a
fish shop, which they claimed was an attempt to kill
loyalist paramilitary leaders meeting in the rooms above,
but which succeeded only in slaughtering nine people,
including two children. Indeed, Ervine himself had been the
subject of death threats against him by nationalists in the
past and before his election in 1998, he had to move house
several times to escape potential harm.

East Belfast is a very small place and the public visit of
Gerry Adams would have brought back many memories and
caused quite a few people a great deal of disquiet, but the
fact that he was able and willing to go there at all is
testament to the efforts of men like David Ervine who
fostered a new kind of Unionism and beckoned the
Nationalist community to accept the extended hand.


Fury Greets Plan To Cut PSNI Numbers To 6,000

[Published: Friday 19, January 2007 - 09:00]
By Jonathan McCambridge

The business community and politicians were last night
lining up to oppose plans to cut PSNI numbers by 1,500.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has said the
number of officers could be cut from 7,500 to 6,000 after
2011, depending on the security situation.

The plan has been criticised by the Police Federation. Now
the Federation of Small Business (FSB), a both a Belfast
District Policing Partnership and a Policing Board member
have voiced concern at the proposal.

Bertie Carson, FSB policing and justice spokesman said:
"These proposals make absolutely no sense given that our
Lifting the Barriers To Growth survey shows that Northern
Ireland has the highest level of business crime, with two
out of three business owners being the victim of crime in
the last year.

"The Business Community is already angry about the current
high level of crime and reducing the numbers of police
officers will make an unacceptable situation even worse."

Belfast DPP member Robin Newton called the suggestion
"mind-boggling" .

He said: "It will be impossible to convince residents
living in inner city areas, large housing estates or rural
districts that police numbers can be slashed without the
service suffering."

SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood said: "This
proposal does not make sense. Its flaws are self-evident.
Its risks are obvious. It shall be stoutly resisted."

© Belfast Telegraph


Opin: It's A Bad Time To Gamble On Policing

[Published: Friday 19, January 2007 - 11:28]

Everyone yearns for the day when policing in Northern
Ireland can be normalised, but by proposing that PSNI
numbers should be cut by 1,500 in four years' time, Her
Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary is in danger of jumping
the gun.

The recommendation is that PSNI numbers should remain at
7,500 until at least 2010/11 but thereafter, the number of
regular officers should be cut to just over 6,000, subject
to a further review in 2009.

The plan is theoretical in that the Inspectorate says it
should only be implemented if the security situation
permits and if the Chief Constable agrees. But ominously,
it arises from a "value for money" review carried out by

The obvious danger, as highlighted by the Police
Federation, is that cost-cutting might be allowed to
override what should be the Government's priority of
maintaining law and order.

This is an area in which corners cannot be cut and already
there are mounting concerns about how safe people are in
their homes. The terrorists may be on ceasefire, but crime,
whether organised or opportunist, seems to be running
rampant in certain parts of Northern Ireland.

The recent spate of aggravated attacks on elderly people
living on their own in remote locations has sparked a wave
of concern across the community, particularly during these
dark nights.

In the business community, there is increasing alarm about
armed hold-ups. As the Federation of Small Businesses says,
many shopkeepers already feel unprotected, and it warns
that premature cuts will make a bad situation worse.

The police cannot be everywhere but successive polls
reflect a widespread perception that already, there are not
enough officers on the beat.

Too many patrols are carried out by car, which does not
offer the same degree of reassurance to the law-abiding
public, or the same deterrent to those contemplating
criminal activity.

The Federation has a vested interest in that it represents
serving officers, but its warning that cutbacks in police
strength could leave the PSNI over-stretched should not be

Given the sectarian divisions which exist and the tensions
caused by contentious parades, policing requirements in
Northern Ireland cannot unfortunately be based simply on a
population headcount, as might be the case elsewhere.

The PSNI needs to have adequate manpower to do its job, and
this must be the primary consideration. While taxpayers'
money must always be prudently stewarded, people in
vulnerable areas must not be exposed to risk.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate is entitled to look forward to a
time when PSNI numbers can be reduced. But it would be a
mistake to rush any fences at this critical stage in the
peace process.

© Belfast Telegraph


Opin: A Good Deal Will All Depend On Timing

[Published: Thursday 18, January 2007 - 09:27]

As Sinn Fein plans a busy week of consultation on its
policing policy before a general ard fheis on January 28,
Tony Blair and Peter Hain are upbeat about the prospects
for devolution on March 26. Yet there are so many unknowns,
surrounding a possible deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP,
that it is premature to predict the outcome.

The first is that if, as expected, the rank and file
approve the executive's ground-breaking motion, the terms
are still unsure. Will it enable Sinn Fein to deliver
support for the police and the rule of law immediately - to
allow a brief testing period - or will it only come into
effect when devolution is finalised?

As things stand, the DUP refuse to enter into any power-
sharing agreement with Sinn Fein until there is delivery on
the policing issue. When that happens, the party "will not
be found wanting" - implying that it will then agree to
power-sharing, with Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness as
First and Deputy First Ministers. But delivery must precede
any deal, or any face-to-face meetings.

So everything depends on whether Sinn Fein can proceed with
certainty, after the ard fheis, to give its full support to
the PSNI and join the Policing Board. There is very little
time for delay, or for the matter to be referred back to
the executive, because two days later the Assembly is due
to be dissolved, ready for an election on March 7.

That is the timetable at the moment, but obviously it
presents enormous difficulties, both for Sinn Fein and the
DUP. There are dissidents within both parties, some of whom
may be open to persuasion, and others who may drop out, if
forced to make "historic" choices. Yet Mr Hain is adamant,
in a letter to all parties, that the date for devolution or
dissolution - March 26 - cannot be altered.

This assumes that an election will be held, but there
should be no question of asking the electorate to vote
without having a deal in place. People must know they are
voting for devolution, based on a partnership between the
two leading parties, without any more negotiation.

Unless these conditions are fulfilled, before the end of
January, it would be very unwise to proceed to an election
with a deal that was still a work in progress. Voters would
flock to the two strongest parties, delaying hope of a
workable settlement.

The Prime Minister is right; majorities in both the
republican and unionist communities want the deal to be
done. But if the politicians need more time, to absorb the
seismic changes, they shouldn't be denied it.

© Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Yet Another Bloody Sunday Play Takes To The Boards

Do we really need another stage production concentrating on
the events of Bloody Sunday?

Now don't get me wrong here, please. I have every sympathy
with the relatives of the 13 men who were shot dead in
Londonderry's Bogside that day, just as I have for the
loved ones of everyone who has perished in the violence of
more or less the decades of my adult life.

But 35 years, on has what happened on the streets here on
the cold, fateful afternoon of January 30, 1972, not been
sufficiently covered now by the artisitic fraternity? There
has been art works, plays, poems, literature and even two
films - all about Bloody Sunday.

I attended the premieres of both, an emotional experience
as they were screened in the presence of the families of
those who actually died that winter's afternoon. One big
screen film starred Broughshane actor James Nesbitt as
Protestant Civil Rights leader Ivan Cooper (I'm even a dot
in one

of the crowd scenes filmed up in the Creggan) and the other
was a

drama-documentary penned by Jimmy McGovern, of Cracker
fame. Both were good films although not being in
Londonderry on Bloody Sunday I cannot vouch for the factual
accuracy of them.

Anyhow yet another version of the events surrounding Bloody
Sunday is now about to take to the boards. The Playhouse,
in Artillery Street, will stage Heroes With Their Hands In
The Air, by Eamonn McCann and directed by Fintan Brady,
from January 26 - February 3. It will then be performed at
Belfast Opera House on February 9 - 10.

Nial McCaughan, The Playhouse general manager, said: "We
are delighted that a play from Derry will be performed in
Northern Ireland's most famous theatre venue. It's good not
only for The Playhouse but also for showcasing outside of
the north west the great local talent we have and
reinforcing the image of Derry as a cultural city."

The play will concentrate on how the Bloody Sunday Inquiry
- the longest probe of its type in British legal history -
came about although it will be interesting to note if the
multi-million pounds it has cost the UK taxpayer will be

Nial McCaughan said: "Heroes With their Hands In the Air is
a searingly honest chronicle of hope and desperation, anger
and suspicion, the past and the future. It is also a
touching and intimate portrayal of loss and the hunger for

Fair enough but really, Nial, it is a story we have heard
now so often. If plays, books, films etc are to be written
about the violent past in this parish can I suggest three
other cases of 'portrayal of loss' that have escaped the
attentions of a, to be frank, mainly left-wing bunch of
writers and others of an artistic bent in this north west

For instance, nobody penned a movie about little schoolgirl
Kathryn Eakin, murdered in the too often forgotted Claudy
massacre, just six months after Bloody Sunday, while she
cleaned the windows of her father's grocery shop.

Nine people perished in Claudy, probably with their hands
in the air, too.

Then there was 42 year old cook Patrick Gillespie whose
family was held hostage by masked and armed IRA terrorists
while he was shackled to the wheel of a vehicle as a 1,000
lb bomb was packed into it. He was ordered to drive it to
Coshquin army checkpoint where it was ignited by remote
control, killing Patrick and five soldiers.

Then there was my acquaintance, Patricia Cooke, a 21-year-
old with ambitions to be a beautician, who was cut down in
the prime of her lovely young life while collecting glasses
at the family pub, the Droppin' Well in Ballykelly

village, shortly before Christmas 1982. She died 10 days
later in Altnagelvin Hospital. Altogether 17 people died as
a result of that INLA atrocity at a pre-Christmas disco -
the north west's worst incident of the Troubles.

Yet no plays, books or films have ever been produced about
that tragic incident either.

Next time someone up here gets an inspiration to write
about our violent past perhaps they should cast their
thoughts and creative talents in the

direction of Claudy, Coshquin and Ballykelly.

n Did you see that ITN report the other night about global
warming? The one where presenter Mark Austin was talking
about fastly melting icebergs when suddenly just behind him
part of one of them spectacularly crashed into the
Antarctic waters.

It made very watchable television so I just thought that
I'd mention that

Austin's cameraman was former Waterside resident Eugene
Campbell, who cut his teeth in TV filming here in
Londonderry while based at the former UTV studio in the

19 January 2007

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