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January 31, 2007

McAllister's Anguish Over Father's Funeral

News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 01/31/07 Malachy McAllister’s Anguish Over Funeral
IN 01/31/07 Gunshots Of BS Marked By Minute’s Silence
IT 01/31/07 NI Politicians Start Election Campaign
BT 01/31/07 Blair: March Election Is Crucial For Ulster
BT 01/31/07 Indecisive Paisley - A Wait & See Attitude
BT 01/31/07 The Loyalists Are Long Way Behind
BB 01/31/07 Orde Anger At 'Policing Insults'
BT 01/31/07 SF & SDLP Backlash In Orde Leak Row
IT 01/31/07 PSNI In New McCartney Murder Appeal
NL 01/31/07 IMC's View On Fuel Fraud Is 'Kidology'
BT 01/31/07 Irish School Is Refused New Funding
IN 01/31/07 Gracey Toast Apology
BT 01/31/07 House Backs Improved Finucane Inquiry
IN 01/31/07 Opin: SF Can Sit & Watch Unionist Bigot-Fest
IN 01/31/07 Opin: Irish Americans Back SF On Policing
BB 01/31/07 Belfast 1907 Strike Marked
IN 01/31/07 Gaiety All Set For Major Facelift


Ex-Prisoner’s Anguish Over Funeral

By Allison Morris

The family of former INLA prisoner, who is fighting
deportation from America, say he is devastated at being
unable to attend his father’s funeral in Belfast.

Malachy McAllister, fled Belfast with his young family in
1988 after loyalist gunmen fired 26 shots into his lower
Ormeau home.

He is fighting a Supreme Court of Appeal decision to deport
him and his three younger children back to Northern Ireland
from New Jersey.

His father Robert died suddenly on Monday after a short
illness. The funeral of the 76-year-old father-of- eight
will take place today.

Mr McAllister’s eldest son Gary (30) arrived in Belfast
from America on Tuesday to attend his grandfather’s
funeral. He is the only member of the family with
recognised immigration status.

“My dad is obviously very upset at the loss of his father
and the fact he can’t be here to pay his respects,” Gary

“He’s been on the phone to check my flight got in safe and
to speak to the rest of the family. He’s just grieving and
feels helpless at not being able to be here for his

It is the second tragedy to hit the family in the last two
years. In 2004 Mr McAllister’s wife Bernie died of cancer
in America.

Bernie – along with the couple’s three younger children –
had been given leave to stay in America.

But after her death the family’s status was again called
into question.

Mr McAllister’s original application for citizenship was
unsuccessful because of a 1983 conviction for acting as a
lookout during an INLA attack on an RUC officer.

He was released from Long Kesh in 1985 and after the
loyalist gun attack on his home fled with his family to
Canada and then to the US.

His mother, Ellen McAllister, says her son’s greatest fear
was that something would happen to one of his parents while
he was still unable to travel.

“Malachy and the children have built their lives in
America. He has his own business there and the children
know no other life,” she said.

“Because of all this he hadn’t seen his father in 20 years.

“I last saw him two years ago when his wife Bernie died and
I went over and stayed with him for a while.

“We all know his thoughts are with us. It’s just so sad
that he can’t be here in person.”

Robert McAllister will be buried today at Roselawn Cemetery
following Requiem Mass 12.30pm at St Malachy’s Church,
Alfred Street.


Gunshots Of Bloody Sunday Marked By Minute’s Silence

By Seamus McKinney

Around 100 people held a minute’s silence in Derry’s
Bogside yesterday to mark the moment that British
paratroopers opened fire on Bloody Sunday.

Records show the soldiers moved into the Bogside at 4.10pm
on January 30 1972, about 15 minutes after John Johnston
and Damien Donaghy had been shot on the edge of the

Thirteen people were killed that day and the injured Mr
Johnston died on June 16 that year.

At yesterday’s ceremony at Rossville Street, civil rights
activist Eamonn McCann paid tribute to the Bloody Sunday
families for their campaign to uncover the truth.

He said as the families contemplated “that moment of horror
and gunfire” when the shooting started 35 years ago, Bloody
Sunday continued to ring out through the world.

When the truth comes out, the grief of families will remain
but they will leave Bloody Sunday as an issue behind them,
he said.

“That day is not here yet but we will be here until it
comes,” Mr McCann said.


NI Politicians Start Election Campaign

Wed, Jan 31, 2007

Northern Ireland politicians were today embarking on an
Assembly Election Campaign with British Prime Minister Tony
Blair warning he could pull the plug at any stage before
polling day.

Mr Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday decided to
press ahead with plans for a March 7th election.

After their meeting in Downing Street, however, the two
warned the election must result in a power-sharing

"The Assembly Election, due to be held on March 7th, is an
integral part of the process and timetable agreed at St
Andrews," they said.

"It is being held for the explicit purposes of endorsing
the St Andrews Agreement and of electing an Assembly that
will form a power-sharing executive on March 26th, in
accordance with that agreement and time-frame.

"If, at any point, it became clear that parties were
unwilling to fulfil their commitments in the St Andrews
Agreement to the twin pillars of power-sharing on March
26th and support for policing, it would be unreasonable to
expect the people of Northern Ireland to continue with an
election to an Assembly which would not exist."

The notice for an Assembly Election in Northern Ireland was
published today, marking the start of what could
potentially be a fierce campaign.

The Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will
be hoping to remain the largest grouping in the next
Assembly, with their leader becoming First Minister if the
party is convinced it can form a power-sharing government
with Sinn Fein.

The DUP has signalled it will only share power with Gerry
Adams' party if it is sure the IRA has abandoned
paramilitary activity and criminality for good and Sinn
Fein is actively encouraging its supporters to join and
work with the police.

A report yesterday by the Independent Monitoring Commission
(IMC) said the Provisional IRA was moving decisively away
from criminality and into politics.

Sinn Fein's decision at the weekend to support the police
in Northern Ireland for the first time in its history and
further comments from Mr Adams urging republicans to report
crime and join Sir Hugh Orde's Police Service of Northern
Ireland (PSNI) if they wanted to, has added more pressure
on Mr Paisley to say yes to power-sharing.

Sir Reg Empey, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader, said
the question which the DUP will have to answer during the
election campaign is whether or not there will be power-
sharing as envisaged on March 26th.

On the nationalist side, Sinn Fein will go into the
election buoyed by its leadership's success in persuading
rank and file party members to sign up to policing in
Northern Ireland.

The party, which has in recent years overtaken the SDLP as
the largest nationalist grouping in the Assembly, believes
it can make further headway and will eventually become the
largest party in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein's party machine will go into the election already
firing on all cylinders, having undertaken a huge internal
consultation on policing and in anticipation of the General
Election this year.

Mark Durkan's SDLP will, however, trade blows with Sinn
Fein on policing, its support for Northern Ireland
Secretary, Peter Hain's local government reform plan and
argue that neither Mr Adams' nor Mr Paisley's parties can
be trusted to deliver political progress.

© 2007


March Election Is The Most Crucial Poll For Ulster In
Decades: Blair

[Published: Wednesday 31, January 2007 - 09:02]

Voters in Northern Ireland will go to the polls on March 7
and make their biggest democratic decision in "many, many
decades", Tony Blair declared last night.

After talks in Downing Street, the Prime Minister and
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern confirmed they will press ahead with
a March election.

Both leaders stressed the election will be staged on the
basis of Sinn Fein supporting the rule of law and policing
and the DUP committing itself to a power-sharing executive
on March 26.

Mr Blair refused to speculate on the possibility of either
party failing to live up to those obligations but did warn:
"There is no point in going forward with this election
unless we are going to have an Assembly that is going to be
functioning with an Executive alongside it."

He said there was a "tremendous yearning" for the
restoration of devolution and that Northern Ireland now has
the prospect of "a different future that its people

Sinn Fein's decision to support the PSNI and yesterday's
Independent Monitoring Commission report "gives us, I
think, the right context in which elections can take

He added: "The election is going to go ahead. Of course
this is probably the most serious decision people in
Northern Ireland have taken for many, many decades because
it is a major, major question."

And in a direct appeal to the political parties, now on the
verge of launching their election manifestos, he said:
"People will want to know where they stand.

"Are we going into a power sharing executive or not? Is
there proper support for policing or not? I think these
questions will be pretty firmly determined during the
course of that campaign."

Mr Ahern said that he would like to have "greater clarity"
from the DUP but he said Mr Blair was "convinced" from his
talks with Ian Paisley, that the democratic unionists were
ready to engage in a power-sharing executive.

When pressed by reporters, he added: "I accept that."

And he made clear that both governments had agreed that
they would move to the 'Plan B' of joint partnership
arrangements if the political process failed.

He said: "...we believe this election is for one single
process - a democratically elected assembly that will have
powersharing on March 26.

"And if it doesn't, that's over. That process is over.
There will be no executive. There will be no Assembly. We
will then proceed with our partnership arrangements, which
is a second best."

© Belfast Telegraph


Indecisive Paisley Adopts A 'Wait And See' Attitude

[Published: Wednesday 31, January 2007 - 11:00]
By Mark Hookham and Noel McAdam

Ian Paisley has refused to make clear if he is prepared to
join a power-sharing Executive as First Minister with
Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister.

As the Government confirmed the go-ahead for new Assembly
elections on Wednesday, March 7, the DUP leader adopted a
"wait and see" stance.

After a meeting with Direct Rule Security Minister Paul
Goggins, Mr Paisley said many issues still had to be dealt
with despite Sinn Fein's ard fheis motion and Gerry Adams'
encouragement for republicans to co-operate with the PSNI.

The issues, Mr Paisley said, included the murder of Belfast
man Robert McCartney.

After their Downing Street mini-summit, Prime Minister Tony
Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern confirmed they will press
ahead with a March election.

But both leaders stressed the election will be staged on
the basis of Sinn Fein supporting the rule of law and
policing, and the DUP committing itself to a power-sharing
executive on March 26.

Mr Blair refused to speculate on the possibility of either
party failing to live up to those obligations, but did
warn: "There is no point in going forward with this
election unless we are going to have an Assembly that is
going to be functioning with an Executive alongside it."

He said there was a "tremendous yearning" for the
restoration of devolution and that Northern Ireland now has
the prospect of "a different future that its people

Sinn Fein's decision to support the PSNI and yesterday's
Independent Monitoring Commission report "gives us, I
think, the right context in which elections can take
place," he said.

He added: "The election is going to go ahead.

"Of course this is probably the most serious decision
people in Northern Ireland have taken for many, many
decades because it is a major, major question."

And in a direct appeal to the political parties, now on the
verge of launching their election manifestos, he said:
"People will want to know where they stand.

"Are we going into a power sharing Executive or not?

"Is there proper support for policing or not? I think these
questions will be pretty firmly determined during the
course of that campaign."

Mr Ahern admitted that he would like to have "greater
clarity" from the DUP, but he said Mr Blair was "convinced"
from his talks with Mr Paisley that the democratic
unionists were ready to engage in a power-sharing

When pressed by reporters, he added: "I accept that."

And he made clear that both Governments had agreed to move
to the 'plan B' of joint partnership arrangements if the
political process failed.

He said: "We believe this election is for one single
process - a democratically elected Assembly that will have
powersharing on March 26.

"And if it doesn't, that's over. That process is over.
There will be no executive. There will be no Assembly. We
will then proceed with our partnership arrangements, which
is a second best."

© Belfast Telegraph


The Loyalists Are Long Way Behind

[Published: Wednesday 31, January 2007 - 10:58]
By Brian Rowan

If it was the IRA it would be very different. But it's not
the IRA. It's the loyalists on the Shankill.

On that road there is something happening that demonstrates
the continuing control and power of the paramilitaries.

The police are monitoring the developing situation.

In the 31 pages of yesterday's report by the Independent
Monitoring Commission, there were the two stories we had

The IRA is going away, but the loyalists are still out
there - out there and up to all sorts of the usual
activities, including the business of paramilitary justice.

In the IMC assessment, you'll read that there are senior
leadership figures trying to change things.

That's right. There are.

I know them - know what they're trying to do.

But I also know that's not all of the story.

There was an incident last Friday - an incident that falls
outside the reporting period of this latest assessment of
the monitoring commission - but a story worth telling as an
example of what's still going on.

A senior figure in the UDA was "thumped" by a former Red
Hand Commando prisoner.

It was between the two of them, and there's a complicated
explanation about the background to the incident.

But the point is not so much what happened, but what is now
expected to happen.

At the highest level of the UDA and Red Hand Commando there
has been contact.

The UDA wants the Red Hand Commando to "punish" or "
discipline " the former prisoner who thumped 'Mo' Courtney,
a one-time close associate of Johnny Adair.

And what does that tell us? It tells us that the business
of paramilitary justice is still part and parcel of the
loyalist playground.

The man who wants to even the score is the most senior
figure in the UDA on the Shankill Road.

He was involved in recent talks with the British and Irish
governments - talks about loyalists wanting to change,
wanting to be part of the peace process, not wanting to be
left behind.

But they still want scores settled - and settled in the old

This is the continuing reality of life on the loyalist

It is where the loyalists are stuck.

For all that it was trying to say yesterday about some
within loyalism wanting to make things better, there was
another message from the IMC.

On the loyalist side, "the pace of movement has been slow".

It's a gentle way of putting it.

The fact is they are a long way behind the IRA.

And this waiting for all the political i's and t's to be
dotted and crossed, is to wait too long.

Why not do something to help the process - to make it work?

And what are they going to do if they don't like the
political outcome?

Is there a threat in the waiting?

The loyalist paramilitary focus needs to be on the bigger
picture of the peace process, not on petty inter-
organisational rows on the streets of the Shankill.

Those who can make things happen - who have the
paramilitary rank to make a difference - need now to use
that rank, that leadership.

If they wait much longer, they might find that any loyalist
initiative has been so devalued to be dismissed as "so

© Belfast Telegraph


Orde Anger At 'Policing Insults'

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has accused the SDLP and Sinn
Fein of insulting his staff and using the police as a
political football.

His criticism is contained in a confidential memo, obtained
by the BBC.

It is understood that Sir Hugh was angered by a number of
remarks by nationalist politicians.

It follows the report by the Police Ombudsman last week,
which said there had been collusion between some members of
Special Branch and the UVF.

The chief constable said in his memo, sent to almost 10,000
police officers last week when the report was published,
that it had been "a difficult week for policing."

He again points out that he has accepted the
recommendations made in Nuala O'Loan's report, which he
described as "uncomfortable reading".

Sir Hugh then accuses some political parties of making
"unfair and damaging statements about our organisation".

It is believed that he was angered by remarks by Sinn Fein
leader Gerry Adams last week, when he said republicans
would "put manners" on the police.

Sir Hugh is also believed to be annoyed by comments made by
Mark Durkan in a newspaper advert last Friday.

In it, the SDLP leader claimed his party had ensured that
Sir Hugh was appointed chief constable of the PSNI - to
keep out what he called "the old RUC order."

In the memo, Sir Hugh said it was "unacceptable that some
individuals have used policing for political purposes".

He said they had made "insulting comments about the
organisation, its staff and retired colleagues", who he
holds in the highest esteem.

Sir Hugh tells staff that he has spoken directly to the
SDLP leadership to express his anger - and taken steps to
speak to Sinn Fein, but says their leadership appears to
have "gone on-the-run".

He ends his message by saying he is "proud to lead the
PSNI" and says his staff "can hold their heads up high".

SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood told the BBC's Good
Morning Ulster he was surprised by the content of Sir
Hugh's memo.

"I would suggest to the police leadership that they are on
the wrong side of the argument," he said.

"They need to get back on the right side of those people
who, over the last five or six years, have done so much to
reshape Northern Ireland society in the interests of and to
the benefit of everyone."

Sinn Fein assembly member John O'Dowd rejected Sir Hugh's
claim that the party had "gone to ground" when he tried to
contact them.

"Sinn Fein is out there trying to introduce an accountable
policing service," he said.

"And if he comes to Sinn Fein with the same attitude that
he has displayed in that memo, he will be getting a short
shrift answer."

Meanwhile, party president Gerry Adams is to meet the prime
minister on Thursday to discuss the implications of the
Ombudsman's report on collusion.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/31 11:27:07 GMT


SF, SDLP Backlash In Orde Leak Row

[Published: Wednesday 31, January 2007 - 08:42]
By David Gordon

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde was embroiled in a
bitter dispute with nationalist politicians today after
accusing them of insulting the force and treating policing
like a "political football".

The Chief Constable used a confidential email to officers
and civilian staff to denounce comments made following last
week's collusion report by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

A Sinn Fein MLA today declared himself "livid" at the
broadside, while the SDLP said it would cause hurt and
anger among its party members.

In the email, which has been leaked to the Belfast
Telegraph, Sir Hugh said he had conveyed his anger to the
SDLP, but had been unable to contact Sinn Fein, as its
leadership appeared to have gone "on the run".

He stated that last week had been "difficult" for policing
and Mrs O'Loan's findings had made "uncomfortable reading".

But he stressed that he had accepted all of the Ombudsman's
recommendations and was confident systems were in place to
address the problems identified in the report.

The Chief Constable continued: "It is unacceptable that
some individuals over the past days have chosen to use
policing for political purposes and make what can only be
described as insulting comments about this organisation,
its staff and retired colleagues who I hold in the highest

"I have spoken directly to the SDLP leadership to express
just how angry I am and have taken steps to speak to Sinn
Fein, but their leadership appears to have gone 'on the

He also stated: "The officers and police staff I meet on a
daily basis, whether they have worked for this organisation
for three years, 10 years or 30 years, have been
responsible for driving forward the reforms that have shown
to the world just how good we are."

The email, which was distributed right across the force,
concluded: " The most effective response to those who
choose to use policing as a political football is to
continue to do what we are doing now, providing a high
quality police service to everyone.

"Thank you for your continued efforts, we can hold our
heads up high."

Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd today commented: "I'm livid that
the Chief Constable of the PSNI thinks it's his duty to
email his staff and say that the political representatives
of the community most affected by collusion have gone too
far. How do you go too far?

"If he had wanted to send an email out, he should have said
that anyone involved in collusion should pack your bags
before we come looking for you."

Sir Hugh's fury is believed to be partly connected to a
controversial newspaper advert placed by the SDLP last
week. It claimed the party had played a pivotal role in Sir
Hugh's appointment as Chief Constable in place of Sir
Ronnie Flanagan.

SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood today said people in the
"highest places of the British Government" had tried
unsuccessfully to persuade SDLP Policing Board members to
support an extension to Sir Ronnie's contract and the
appointment of an internal candidate as his successor.

"The Board made these decisions. They did it independently
and on merit and not at the whim of the British
Government," he added.

Criticising Sir Hugh's email, Mr Attwood added: "I think
there will be a lot of people in the SDLP today who will be
hurt and angry, given all their work on the ground when
they were being demonised and attacked, to help the Board
and the PSNI implement the Patten reforms.

"I think they will be saying that the police leadership has
got itself on the wrong side of this argument and they need
to quickly get back on the right side."

© Belfast Telegraph


PSNI In New McCartney Murder Appeal

Patrick Logue
Wed, Jan 31, 2007

Police in the North have made a new appeal in their
investigation into the murder of Robert McCartney near a
Belfast bar two years ago today.

The 33-year-old died and his friend Brendan Devine was
seriously injured when they were stabbed repeatedly during
a fight outside the city centre bar.

The murder of the 33-year-old sparked a political crisis
after accusations that members of the Republican Movement
were involved.

Mr McCartneys sisters and his partner Bridgeen Hagans
claimed the IRA was shielding those responsible for the
murder. Following the murder Sinn Féin suspended 12 of its
members and called on witnesses to come forward to the

The IRA denied involvement but later claimed it had
expelled three of its men, and even offered to shoot those

Last night, detectives investigating the murder renewing
their appeal for information.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Dunwoody said: "Both Robert
and Brendan were stabbed following an incident which
started in Magennis' Bar in May Street around 10.40pm on
the Sunday night of January 30th and continued outside the
bar in Market Street and into Cromac Square.

"Brendan Devine was stabbed and was seriously injured but
survived the attack. Robert, tragically, later died of his
injuries. While a small number of people actually assaulted
Robert and Brendan, others helped and supported those in
what they did and afterwards".

So far, one person has been charged with Mr McCartney's
murder. A number of other individuals have been reported
for offences linked to the murder.

Detective Superintendent Dunwoody called on a number of
drivers who were in the area to come forward.

"There were two cars - one blue and one silver - waiting at
the traffic lights to turn right onto Cromac Street. We are
still appealing for the people in the blue car to come
forward and to tell us what they saw," he added.

© 2007


IMC's View On Fuel Fraud Is 'Kidology'

THE Petrol Retailers' Association has rejected the IMC's
latest verdict on paramilitary fuel fraud as "a spurious
attempt at kidology".

Spokesman Ray Holloway yesterday branded the report "a
joke" because it only mentions the word "fuel" once and in
context of the PIRA winding up – despite Government figures
showing no change in what he estimates to be a £360m per
year industry.

Yesterday's IMC report said PIRA as an organisation
"continues not to be involved" in other forms of crime
outside terrorism.

"There are indications that in response to the leadership,
the involvement of individual members (in other forms of
crime) has declined," said the report.

It added that some IRA members continue to be engaged in
crime such as smuggling, fuel laundering and tax evasion
but that such activity is now "contrary to the policy" of

But Mr Holloway said the fact this was the only time fuel
fraud was mentioned in the report was "quite

"Legitimate fuel deliveries for Northern Ireland are still
not back to the level they were in 1995 despite the fact
that road traffic has increased by 35 per cent since then,"
he said.

"This report is a joke, and displays the ability of
Government and its agencies to turn a blind eye to this
form of crime which they say doesn't affect the residents
of Northern Ireland.

"The Westminster Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
reported last year that paramilitaries were heavily
involved in fuel fraud.

"If the IMC wishes to have any credibility, then it needs
to publish something other than this spurious attempt at
kidology. The Government's own statistics says it is not

He said that diesel and petrol deliveries in Northern
Ireland are only 60 and 80 per cent respectively of 1995

The National Audit Office figures show £360 million of lost
tax revenue annually because of fuel fraud and although the
figure includes cross-border fuel shopping, he believes the
broader cost to the economy would make it an accurate
estimate of total fuel fraud per year.

"Cheap but illegal fuel is the main reason the main high
street petrol retail brands no longer own any property or
petrol stations in Northern Ireland," he said.

"And this IMC report is indicative of the Government's
entire position – stand back and endorse this form of
gangland crime."

Newry and Mourne District Council confirmed yesterday that
it dealt with 10 incidents of dumped fuel laundering waste
last year, costing in total some £45,000 to clear up – five
of them in south Armagh and five around Newry. Three
incidents were in the period covered by the latest IMC
report – September, October and November – with the latest
the latest seizure of 16,000 litres on 15 December.

In the same three-month period, Customs and Excise went
public on four fuel fraud operations in Northern Ireland.

31 January 2007


Irish School Is Refused New Funding

[Published: Wednesday 31, January 2007 - 11:19]
By Kathryn Torney

Education Minister Maria Eagle has announced that an
application for grant-aided status for new Irish-medium
primary school, Gaelscoil Éanna, in Glengormley, has been
turned down.

"There are two Irish-medium primaries in the surrounding
area and I am concerned that establishment of a new school
could impact on these schools, " she said. "It is important
that we have a stronger pattern of intakes to confirm that
additional provision in the area will be required for the
long term. I therefore cannot approve this proposal at this

"My Department has a duty to encourage and facilitate the
provision of Irish-medium education, but in doing so we
must ensure that strong, viable schools are created,
providing good quality education for their pupils.

"My Department is undertaking a broad review of Irish
medium education provision, taking stock of the best way to
facilitate continued and sustainable growth for the next

© Belfast Telegraph


Gracey Toast Apology

By Staff Reporter

BRITISH military chiefs have apologised after a general
toasted the death of Orange Order leader Harold Gracey by
likening him to Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, it
was revealed last night.

Mr Gracey, who led the Drumcree protest, died on March 29

According to the Iraq war veteran Colonel Tim Collins, an
unnamed general made the remark after a brigadier had
raised his glass at an army dinner in March 2004 to say Mr
Gracey had died.

Orangemen were outraged at the disclosure made in Col
Collins’s book Rules of Engagement.

The order wrote to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) nearly a
year ago.

An MoD letter said those who attended could not clearly
remember details of the private dinner at Warminster in
Wiltshire nearly three years ago. “Nevertheless, it does
appear that a comment was made concerning Mr Gracey, and
the Ministry of Defence regret any distress that has been
caused to his family and friends following Colonel Collins’
mention of the incident,” the letter said.

Dr David Hume, director of services of the Grand Orange
Lodge of Ireland, welcomed the apology, which was received
this month.


US House Backs Campaign For Improved Finucane Inquiry

[Published: Wednesday 31, January 2007 - 10:56]

The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution
calling on the British Government to set up a fully
independent inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.

The move follows lobbying from the family of the Belfast
solicitor, who was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in

There have long been allegations that the British security
services helped the men who carried out the shooting.

The British Government has set up an inquiry, but the
family are refusing to co-operate as certain evidence can
still be kept secret.

They want a fully independent inquiry where all evidence
can be assessed and witnesses compelled to testify.

On a vote of 364-34 with 25 members voting "present," the
House accepted a resolution that demanded "the
establishment of a full, independent and public judicial
inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane."

It also urged the British government to scrap the 2005
Inquiries Act that allows it "to block scrutiny of state
actions," under which a previous investigation into
Finucane's death was carried out.

Republican U.S. Representative Chris Smith said the British
government should "live up to its commitment as part of the
Northern Ireland peace process to implement a public,
independent, judicial inquiry into the murder of courageous
human rights attorney and activist."

"The questions of police collusion surrounding his murder
need to be answered," he said.

Democratic Representative Tom Lantos, chairman of the House
foreign affairs committee, said: "The time to bring justice
and put an end to this tragic matter is long past due."

© Belfast Telegraph


Opin: SF Can Sit And Watch Intra-Unionist Bigot-Fest

By Brian Feeney

Yesterday’s statement by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Prime
Minister Tony Blair fired the campaign starting gun for the
March 7 assembly elections.

The statement is also an indication that as far as both the
Irish and British governments are concerned, the election
is a two-horse race between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

It is going to offer slim pickings for the SDLP and UUP as
both parties struggle to find an answer to the question
‘What are they for?’

The result of the governments’ posture is to maximise
support for SF and the DUP.

In effect both governments are asking the voters of each of
the north’s two communities to endorse the respective
positions of their tribal leaders – encourage the DUP to
share power and encourage SF to support the police and
criminal justice system.

They think these encouragements are necessary because it’s
far from clear that the DUP will be able to deliver its
part of the bargain Dublin and London have concocted.

Since Sunday’s vote Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have
both already encouraged people in nationalist districts to
report serious crimes to the police – assaults, rape,
aggravated burglary, causing death by dangerous driving.

On the other side of the fence Ian Paisley is paralysed by
the bigots his lifetime of inflammatory rhetoric has
encouraged to join his party.

He has so far proved unable even to convince a majority of
the MPs in his party to support sharing power. As soon as
one like Jeffrey Donaldson suggests it is a possibility,
another one like Nigel Dodds tries to postpone the prospect

Within the party there is a grim tussle going on for
selection for assembly seats.

There is a distinct possibility that Paisley will end up
with an assembly party opposed to the verbal assurances
their leader has given Mr Blair. For those reasons Sinn
Fein made their ard fheis motion highly conditional on the
DUP delivering the institutions of the Good Friday

For those same reasons both governments are appealing to SF
to help what are laughingly called the ‘modernisers’ in the

They want SF to move on support for policing institutions
before the election: in other words to breach the terms of
the resolution passed on Sunday which says that ‘only when
the power-sharing institutions are established and the ard
chomhairle is satisfied that the policing and justice
powers will be transferred’ will the motion be implemented.
SF will not move. Here’s why. The DUP will not enter this
election campaign with a manifesto advocating power-
sharing. They can’t, because a majority in their party
opposes the concept, and why wouldn’t they, since Paisley
spent the last 37 years railing against it? What Sinn Fein
has done is set the scene for another set of negotiations
in the period from the election results on March 8 to the
proposed establishment of the executive on March 26 – a
crucial 16 days.

Quite right too. Only when they see the election results
will they know whether Paisley can deliver power-sharing.

Will Paisley need the support of the surviving UUP assembly
members to complete the Good Friday institutions which,
remember, the DUP has never agreed? Or will Paisley be able
to ride roughshod over his dissenting bigots, secure in the
knowledge that seats in an executive and committee chairs
are in his gift and that the lure of filthy lucre has
proved just as tempting for his hot gospellers as it is for
fenian sinners?

The DUP is afraid of its voters so its manifesto will be
cowardly, full of bombast and bluster, castigating Sinn
Fein as the great evil over whom Protestant voters must
triumph despite the fact that not one DUP vote will have
the slightest effect on SF’s vote.

Only when the election is safely over and the DUP has
consigned its UUP rival to oblivion will Paisley be able to
contemplate delivering on his political obligations.

Suggesting that SF can in any way help in this intra-
unionist bigotfest is fanciful in the extreme.

SF has delivered on all its obligations. How would they
join the Policing Board between now and March 7 anyway?

Now they can sit back and enjoy the spectacle of Paisley on
the frying pan. There’s plenty of him to roast.


Opin: Irish Americans Back Sinn Fein On Policing

By Ray O'Hanlon Letter from America

The Irish in America know a thing or two about policing. So
it is no surprise that Irish America has long taken a
particular interest in policing in Northern Ireland.

This has been no less the case as Sinn Fein has wrangled
with the issue of its participation in policing.

The north’s slow march towards political and legal
normality has drawn diminished coverage in the American
press in recent times, most especially since Iraq reportage
became a daily imperative.

But last week’s collusion report and the subsequent
policing embrace at the extraordinary ard fheis did draw
front page ink.

Last weekend’s vote in Ballsbridge prompted the New York

to report that the ard fheis vote signalled a shift in the
thinking of Irish republicans, who, since 1922, had
distrusted the police, courts and prisons in Northern
Ireland as institutions of British rule. Some who read the
Times report will not have changed their minds on that

But Sinn Fein will draw the bulk of active Irish American
opinion with it so long as participation in policing is
seen to pay the right dividends.

Congressman Richard Neal, chairman of the Friends of
Ireland in Congress, was first out of the stall with his
reaction to the ard fheis vote. The decision “to
overwhelmingly support accountable policing is
unprecedented and potentially transformative” Neal said in
a statement.

The Massachusetts congressman, a grizzled political veteran
of Irish America’s role in the quest for peace, said that
the vote was particularly significant coming in the wake of
the Police Ombudsman’s report on collusion.

The vote, Neal added, had the potential to create the new
political landscape identified in the Good Friday

“And it should begin a process that leads to a power-
sharing government and the devolution of policing and
justice powers in the St Andrews agreement timeframe”.

Neal concluded that the vote deserved to be “welcomed
positively by political leaders on both sides of the
Atlantic in the strongest possible terms”.

Congressman Joe Crowley from New York also hailed the vote
but then turned his attention to the DUP, urging that party
to now “formally agree to the conditions of a power-sharing
government with Sinn Fein as deigned in the conditions of
the St Andrew’s agreement”.

Across the aisle, Republican Congressman Jim Walsh, the
former Friends chairman, was also turning his beams on Dr

“We now look to Ian Paisley and the DUP to step up and
deliver on behalf of the unionist community.

“It is time for the DUP to validate their word given at St
Andrews by unequivocally committing to a devolved power
sharing government with Sinn Fein.

“They must make good on their word and consummate their
remarkable achievement. An historic moment is dawning on
the island of Ireland.

It is time to act.”

Down the steps from Capitol Hill, Sinn Fein was also
drawing support from the Irish American street.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians was one supporter, Irish
Northern Aid another.

Better known as Noraid – and perhaps best pronounced in
Fleet Street-ese as Nor-ide – the group was once a regular
target of critics who felt that Irish America had far too
big a blind spot when it came to the IRA’s campaign in

But Noraid has moved with the peace process and was eager
to have its own, cautiously supportive, say on the future
of policing.

“There are deep seated political and emotional problems
which exist in tackling the policing issue and there are
enormous challenges that the Sinn Fein leadership must
overcome,” Noraid stated.

“However, Sinn Fein has made significant progress in
negotiations in recent years and especially in recent
months on this issue.

Because of this, and the leadership that Sinn Fein has
consistently demonstrated throughout the peace process, we
are certain that Sinn Fein will resolve this difficult
issue as they have so many others in recent years.”

This is not the only view of course.

There are individuals and groups such as the New York-based
Irish Freedom Committee that have taken sharp issue with
Sinn Fein’s sea change on policing.

This critical stance was due to be on display last night at
a venue in Manhattan during which members of the IFC
debated backers of the new Sinn Fein position.

There will be more such discussions.

Most of Irish America is with Sinn Fein on this one. But,
no surprise, all argument hasn’t gone away you know.


Belfast 1907 Strike Marked

The centenary of a Belfast strike when Catholic and
Protestant workers united briefly has been marked in

More than 5,000 dockers downed tools for four months in the
1907 Belfast Lockout for better pay and conditions.

Royal Irish Constabulary police later mutinied when ordered
to escort "scab" workers to the docks.

Soldiers were called in to end the strike, which was led by
trade union crusader Jim Larkin who is commemorated with
statues in Belfast and Dublin.

Union leaders from Northern Ireland and the Republic
gathered on Tuesday at Larkin's grave in Dublin's Glasnevin
Cemetery to lay a wreath to mark the centenary.

Catholics and Protestants were just as divided by politics
and religion in those days, but Larkin achieved a fragile
unity for several months as Falls Road and Shankill Road
came together, said political historian Eamon Phoenix.

"Larkin was a giant of a man and he used his charisma and
oratorical skills to articulate grievances of the working
classes," he said.

"Sectarianism was sidelined and Home Rule dropped off the
agenda for a short period in 1907."

A Siptu spokesman said of the commemoration: "This is the
first of a series of events to mark the 1907 general strike
in Belfast, when Catholic and Protestant workers united to
demand trade union recognition and decent working

"The strike brought the city to a standstill, even the
police joining in the dispute. It was eventually put down
by the use of troops."

Larkin later founded the unions that eventually formed
Siptu and also co-founded the Irish Labour Party with James
Connolly in 1912.

Former Irish Labour Party leader, Ruairi Quinn, who
attended the event, said the Belfast Lockout was one of the
first examples of the worker radicalism and led to the
famous Dublin Lockout in 1913.

"The Belfast strike was a major event in the early years of
the trade union movement," Mr Quinn added.

Casual workers such as dockers and carters in Belfast at
the turn of the century often worked under extreme
hardship. They received no holidays and were often laid off
during work shortages.

Most of the striking workers were employed by industrialist
Thomas Gallagher who owned the Belfast Steamship Company
and members of the National Union of Dock Labourers.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/31 07:59:58 GMT


Gaiety All Set For Major Facelift

By Staff Reporter

One of Dublin's most famous venues, the Gaiety Theatre, is
to shut its doors for a multi-million euro refurbishment.

The city centre building, which has seen numerous stars
tread its boards, will close for five months on Sunday
February 4th for the biggest refurbishment in its history.

The project has been funded under a e7.5 million (£4.9
million) grant from the Arts Department and e2 million
(£1.4 million) from its owners, Denis and Caroline Desmond.

The biggest refurbishment since its opening over 130 years
ago will see the stage completely rebuilt to include an
enlarged orchestra, stage and scenery accommodation area.

Sections included in the upgrade will be the dressing
rooms, fire prevention, roof and the front of house and bar

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