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January 06, 2007

SF Wants Clarity From Paisley

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 01/05/07 Sinn Fein Want Paisley 'Clarity'
IT 01/05/07 No More To Say On Policing Impasse - DUP
RT 01/06/07 Donaldson: Powersharing To Be Achieved
BN 01/06/07 SF Need To Deliver On Policing - DUP
SF 01/05/07 SDLP Seek To Dismiss Nationalist Concerns
IN 01/06/07 Neglect Amounts To Collusion: Solicitor
IN 01/06/07 Ombudsman: PSNI Renew Your Hunt For Murder Gang
IN 01/06/07 O’Loan Team Due To Meet Murdered Man’s Family
IT 01/06/07 Son Calls For Inquiry Into Fallon Murder
SF 01/05/07 SF Accompany Loughinisland Families To Meeting
IN 01/06/07 Case To Proceed Against Teacher
IN 01/06/07 Series Documents Estate Agent’s Fall
IN 01/06/07 Opin: DUP’s Is Fossilised In 17th Century
IN 01/06/07 Opin: SF Choreographing Steps Into Society
IT 01/06/07 Opin: SF Policing Stance Parallels FF’s
IN 01/06/07 Opin: O’Halloran Case Must Be Reopened


Sinn Fein Want Paisley 'Clarity'

There is no point "pretending the DUP have agreed to share
power", Sinn Fein's chief negotiator has said.

Martin McGuinness said it was "obvious" Ian Paisley did not
agree with the assessment of the DUP's position by Prime
Minister Tony Blair.

He said the DUP had not agreed to share power by 26 March
or agreed the timetable for the transfer of policing powers
by May 2008.

He said Mr Paisley had to "clearly" agree with the PM's

"What we really need to hear from Ian Paisley is that he
not only welcomes Tony Blair's assessment, but he agrees
with it," he said.

He said Mr Paisley had to clearly back sharing power by 26
March and the timetable for the transfer of powers on

"Nationalists and republicans will not accept political,
legal or policing institutions which are not representative
and democratically and legally accountable," he said.

Mr McGuinness said his party would work to see the issued
resolved, but that the DUP and two governments had to play
"their full part".

In a statement DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said that
it was Sinn Fein who had to "face up to delivering on

He said that the Northern Ireland Office had "acknowledged
their satisfaction" with Mr Paisley's "very full statement"
in response to the PM's assessment.

'Conference question mark'

"Clearly Sinn Fein is experiencing severe difficulties on
the necessity to give full support to the police, the
courts and the rule of law," he said.

"We are not in the business of making their task any more
difficult but in reality they themselves must face up to
delivering on the policing issue."

On Thursday, Mr Blair warned the DUP and Sinn Fein that
commitments on policing and power-sharing must be honoured
for an election to happen.

Senior Sinn Fein members will meet next week to discuss
whether to move forward with a special conference on
policing. Mr McGuinness said that there was now a "huge
question mark" over this ard fheis.

On Thursday the DUP leader said his party was willing to
make progress but that "upfront delivery is required from
Sinn Fein" on policing.

However, DUP MEP Jim Allister said on Friday he could not
foresee a time when policing and justice could be devolved
to an assembly.

Holiday return

Sinn Fein's leadership voted last month to hold a
conference on the issue of whether to support policing.

But the party signalled on Wednesday this was in doubt
because the move had not received a "positive enough"
response from DUP leader Ian Paisley.

This was enough to make Mr Blair return early from his
holiday in Florida for emergency talks.

"I am confident both parties want to see progress and will
honour their commitments," Mr Blair said.

"But there is no point in proceeding unless there is such

If Sinn Fein's conference does not go ahead, the March
assembly election may be in doubt.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/05 17:53:54 GMT


No More To Say On Policing Impasse - DUP

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
Sat, Jan 06, 2007

The DUP has insisted it has no more to do or say on the
policing deadlock after Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin
McGuinness yesterday warned that there was now a "huge
question mark" over whether the scheduled ardfheis on
policing would take place.

Mr McGuinness said that the DUP leader, the Rev Ian
Paisley, must provide further commitments on his party's
willingness to share power in March and accept the
devolution of policing powers to a Northern Executive by
May next year.

"If that doesn't happen then there is a huge question mark
over the Sinn Féin ardfheis," Mr McGuinness told The Irish
Times last night.

Against a background of impending crisis in the political
process the British prime minister Tony Blair on Thursday
published his assessment that Sinn Féin was prepared to
properly endorse the PSNI and that the DUP was prepared to
share power by March and accept the transfer of policing
powers by May 2008, as envisaged in the St Andrews

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams generally accepted that
assessment while Dr Paisley "welcomed" the assessment but
equally gave no personal commitment to share power by March
26th or accept the devolution of policing powers by May
next year.

Nonetheless, Downing Street and the Northern Ireland Office
interpreted Dr Paisley's welcoming of Mr Blair's statement
on the matter as acceptance of the prime minister's

Last night, however, Mr McGuinness contradicted this
position. "While everyone wants the process to continue to
move forward it is pointless pretending the DUP has agreed
to share power by March 26th or to the timetable for the
transfer of powers on policing by May 2008 when they
clearly have not," he said.

More was needed from Dr Paisley to ensure the ardfheis
would take place, said Mr McGuinness. "If Ian Paisley can
tell us he agrees with, rather than just welcomes, the
prime minister's assessment then we can move forward," he

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said the issue of
potential political progress rested solely with Sinn Féin.
"Clearly Sinn Féin is experiencing severe difficulties on
the necessity to give full support to the police, the
courts and the rule of law. We are not in the business of
making their task any more difficult but in reality they
themselves must face up to delivering on the policing
issue," he said.

"Dr Paisley issued a very full statement outlining the
position of the party [on Thursday] and both Downing Street
and the Northern Ireland Office have acknowledged their
satisfaction of it. The DUP does not have anything further
to say or do on these matters. We stand ready and are fully
supportive of the police, the courts and the rule of law.
Only those who are so committed can be eligible for
government in Northern Ireland," he added.

Mr Adams said that over the weekend he would deliberate on
whether the ardfheis will take place while he and Sinn
Féin's party officers are also to meet on the issue on
Tuesday. Another ardchomhairle on policing may be called by
the officers.

In the meantime, according to Mr McGuinness, contact will
be maintained with Mr Blair and through him the DUP. "These
are not insurmountable issues, but others, including the
two governments but in particular the DUP, have to play
their full part," he said.

Meanwhile, Northern Secretary Peter Hain repeated Mr
Blair's warning that if policing and the devolution of
policing powers were not resolved there would be no
election on March 7th and no devolution.

"It is absolutely vital, at this initial moment, that
everyone concentrates on the big picture," he said

"For it to fall at this point, on the issue of a timeframe
for the devolution of policing and justice, would be a big
mistake," added Mr Hain.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Donaldson: Powersharing To Be Achieved

06 January 2007 15:21

A senior member of the DUP's negotiating team has said he
believes a deal that brings about power sharing between his
party and Sinn Féin will be achieved in 2007.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Jeffrey Donaldson said he was
optimistic that agreement would be reached on policing and
a power sharing executive would be established at Stormont.

Doubt still surrounds whether Sinn Féin will hold a special
Ard-Fheis on policing.

Republicans have said they are concerned about a lack of a
positive response to the initiative from the DUP.


SF Need To Deliver On Policing - DUP

06/01/2007 - 11:30:08

DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson, says Sinn Féin has to
"face up to delivering on policing" and that the British
government was satisfied with his party's response to the
proposed timetable for devolution.

He was responding to Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, Martin
McGuinness, who had said there was no point pretending the
DUP had any intention of sharing power with republicans by

Martin McGuinness said last night that it was "obvious" Ian
Paisley did not agree with the assessment of the DUP's
position given by the British prime minister Tony Blair.

That assessment was that, in welcoming Mr. Blair's
restatement of the timetable, the DUP leader had agreed to

Mr McGuinness said the two were not the same and that Sinn
Féin needed to hear the DUP “clearly” agree with the prime
minister's assessment.

Nationalists, said Mr McGuinness, would not accept
political, legal or policing institutions which are not
democratic and accountable to the public.

Mr Robinson said though that Sinn Féin had its own internal
difficulties and although the DUP did not want to make
their task more difficult, only they could sort them out.


SDLP Seek To Dismiss Nationalist And Republican Concerns

Published: 5 January, 2007

Sinn Féin Assembly member for South Down Caitriona Ruane
has dismissed attempts made by SDLP leader Mark Durkan on
Talkback today to dismiss the very real concerns
nationalists and republicans have about the DUP intentions
to share power.

Ms Ruane said:

"Throughout the past number of months Sinn Féin has been
involved in a detailed negotiation with the British
government on a number of crucial issues, particularly the
policing issue.

"The SDLP played no part in this negotiation. Instead they
sat on the sidelines. As we sought to move the British
government on key issues including the transfer of powers,
plastic bullets and MI5 the SDLP engaged in petty party

"It seems that is continuing today on the BBC Talkback
programme as Mark Durkan set out to minimise the very real
concerns nationalists and republicans have about DUP
intentions in relation to sharing power and agreeing a
timeframe for the transfer of power on policing and

"Unlike the SDLP, Sinn Féin will not settle short, give up,
give in or jump too soon. We will continue to represent
nationalists and republicans and address genuine concerns,
not seek to ignore them or minimise them.

"Contrast this to the approach adopted by the SDLP. They
told us that there was no point in trying to get rid of the
RUC, they accepted MI5, they sat on a policing board which
purchased plastic bullets, they accepted British Army
involvement in crowd control situations, the very
circumstances that led to the Bloody Sunday massacre.

"While Sinn Fein spent Christmas and since negotiating for
change the SDLP it seems have spent their time seeking to
reduce issues of key importance to nationalists to the
level of petty politicking." ENDS


Neglect Amounts To Collusion: Solicitor

News Feature

By Allison Morris

Patrick Murray of Kevin Winters Solicitors said that
although he welcomed the ombudsman’s findings in the Jason
O’Halloran case, he claimed the report does not go far
enough to address the wider failings of police on the

The solicitor – who also represents the family of Gerard
Lawlor – said the Ombudsman needs to look at the wider
actions of the PSNI throughout the night of violence and
the subsequent failure to follow up evidence and track down
the perpetrators.

“Collusion does not just cover the handing over of
information that may lead to a persons death, it also
covers a deliberate failure to properly investigate and
bring to justice those responsible,” Mr Murray said.

“This report concentrates on the forensic link between the
two cases – the fact that a different gun was used in the
attempt on Jason’s life than was used to murder Gerard,” he

“But it ignores the links with the organisation involved,
in this case the UDA.

“It does not touch on the failings of the PSNI to police
and protect north Belfast on that night.

“These were interface areas and the PSNI were aware that
there was an increased risk of loyalist attack on that

“These are all issues that I will be bringing up with the
Ombudsman’s office.

“The investigation into Gerard Lawlor’s murder is the first
real test of Nuala O’Loan’s office in that it is the first
major investigation into the actions of police after Hugh
Orde took control.”


Ombudsman Advises PSNI To Renew Hunt For Murder Gang

News Feature
Allison Morris reports

A critical Police Ombudsman report looking at the initial
PSNI investigation into the loyalist gun attack on Jason
O’Halloran and his friend Jim Burns in 2002 has recommended
police reopen the file on the case.

And for the first time The Irish News can reveal that
ballistics reports have shown the gun used in the UDA
murder attempt on Mr O’Halloran was not the same gun used
to murder Mr Lawlor.

Jason O’Halloran was injured during a night of terror in
north Belfast, that ended in the death of father of one
Gerard Lawlor.

Up to 15-shots were fired at Mr O’Halloran and his friend
as they stood at the junction of Rossapena Street and
Rossapena Square just after 11pm on July 21, 2002.

Mr O’Halloran was hit three times in the leg and groin and
underwent emergency surgery after developing a potentially
lethal blood clot.

His friend Jim Burns narrowly escaped injury after a bullet
passed through his track suit bottoms missing him by

Less than an hour later Gerard Lawlor was murdered by the
UDA as he made his way to his Whitewell home along the
Antrim Road after a night out.

Earlier that evening another man, Ryan Corbitt, had
narrowly escaped death after a gunman – a pillion passenger
on a motorbike – pulled up outside a bar on the Oldpark
Road pointed a handgun at him and pulled the trigger. The
gun jammed and the bike sped off.

Mr Corbitt stopped a passing patrol to alert them about the
attempt on his life but police told him to report it to a
station the following day and drove off.

Through his solicitor Patrick Murray, Mr O’Halloran made a
complaint to the Ombudsman claiming the police failed to
carry out a thorough investigation into the attempt on his

The report contains information that proves beyond doubt
that more than one loyalist murder squad was operational in
north Belfast on the night.

And for the first time it reveals that a review of police
forensic results shows the weapon used to shoot Jason
O’Halloran was not the same handgun used in the later
murder of Gerard Lawlor.

Responding to the report’s finding Mr O’Halloran said: “I
was shot on the Sunday night, the PSNI called to the
hospital to take a statement from me on the Wednesday, at
the time I was on large doses of pain killers and just
wasn’t up to it.

“It was almost a month later before there was any attempt
to get a statement from myself and Jim Burns and that was
only because we made an appointment to go to Antrim Road
station ourselves.

“After we made the statements we never heard another thing
about the case.”

The Ombudsman’s report recommends “police review their
investigation into the attempted murder” and “consider any
potential investigative and forensic opportunities.”

The report also recommends that PSNI detectives meet with
Mr O’Halloran and provide him with a full explanation of
their actions regarding his case.

Mr O’Halloran said he welcomed the recommendations but was
disappointed that the Ombudsman did not acknowledge the
failure to properly police north Belfast on the night of
the shooting.

“If there had been any real effort on that night to
properly police north Belfast I might never have been shot
and Gerard Lawlor could still be alive today.

“If police had acted after the murder attempt on Ryan
Corbitt and set up a few check points loyalist murder
squads wouldn’t have been free to roam the streets of north

“There was no effort to track down the people who tried to
kill me and follow up evidence, the failings are obvious.

“Despite the time that has passed I am still scarred
emotionally and physically by that night.

“I’m only now getting counselling for the nightmares and

“The evidence is there, arrests should be made and people
should be charged. Until that happens I’ll never be free
from this nightmare.”

A police spokesman said: “We have received a report from
the Ombudsman which is under consideration.”


O’Loan Team Due To Meet Murdered Man’s Family

News Feature
By Allison Morris

The parents of murdered father-of-one Gerard Lawlor will
meet senior investigators from the Police Ombud sman’s
office on Monday for the first time since allegations that
police have failed to act on information supplied by a new

The 19-year-old was murdered by the UDA in July 2002 as he
walked home along the Antrim Road on the same night
loyalist gunmen went on a rampage in north Belfast.

To date no-one has been charged despite admissions by the
then senior investigator, Detective Superintendent Roy
Suitters, that police knew the names of his killers.

Speaking to The Irish News one year after the teenager’s
murder, Mr Suitters said: “People have been arrested for
this murder, that murder and they have all been released
without charge – so what good did it do to go and arrest

More recently the family discovered that a new witness, who
first made a phone call to the confidential telephone line
and then later approached police in person, has came

forward and to date no arrests have been made.

John and Sharon Lawlor, along with Gerard’s partner Siobhan
Ramsbottom, have now asked Nuala O’Loan’s office to
investigate a series of apparently serious failures in the
original PSNI murder inquiry.

Among their concerns is that evidence provided by a new
witness that could have led to a possible conviction has
yet to be acted on.

Sharon Lawlor said: “I am really praying the Ombudsman
doesn’t let us down on this.

“As a family we have really had our eyes opened since
Gerard’s murder, it’s unbelievable really, you’re just an
ordinary family going about your lives and then this

“At first I lived in a bubble of grief but as time has gone
on I’m getting more and more angry.

“I know that we’re not the only family who are suffering
like this.

“You hear about investigations being open into murders that
happened 30-years-ago but if they can’t even solve a murder
that happened four years ago what chance do those people
have of getting justice?

“We trusted the police to act properly but as time has gone
on we realise that we have been failed as a family.

“We are quiet people and I think they all – the police and
Gerard’s killers – expected us to grieve quietly in a
corner and not cause a fuss.

“But I’m here to say we will not go away and we will pursue
this until our last breath.

“Gerard’s son has just turned six, he is the image of his
father in every way and he talks about him every day.

“I want that child to grow up without hate or bitterness. I
want to be able to answer his questions as he grows up when
he asks what happened to his father.”

Mrs Lawlor said the family would continue to pursue the
truth until her son’s killers were brought to justice.

“When Gerard died the PSNI had already taken over from the
RUC, we were promised this new police service,” she said.

“But when you look at what happened afterwards it raises so
many questions.

“We have never been kept informed, we have had to go out
there looking for answers


“This is the first time we’ve heard that there were two
separate guns used in the murder of Gerard and the shooting
that night.

“But this is not the way this story is going to end. Gerard
cannot speak for himself any more he only has us, his
family, to keep fighting for justice and that’s what we
fully intend to do.”


Son Calls For Inquiry Into Fallon Murder

Kitty Holland
Sat, Jan 06, 2007

The State should not be allowed "to just walk away from the
Troubles with clean hands", the son of the first garda
killed in the Troubles has said.

Finian Fallon, whose father, Garda Richard Fallon, was shot
dead in Dublin in 1970, has renewed his call for a public
inquiry into the incident.

Garda Fallon (43) was murdered by republican splinter group
Saor Éire during an armed robbery on Arran Quay. He later
became the first member of the force to be posthumously
awarded the Scott Gold Medal .

His son said questions remained to be answered about the
circumstances of his death.

"It is my belief that something untoward went on in
relation to the murder of my father and the Irish
Government is hiding the truth to this day," Mr Fallon

Mr Fallon is supported in his campaign by Ann McCabe, the
widow of Garda Jerry McCabe, shot dead in Limerick by the
IRA in 1996. She said yesterday she supported the Fallon

"I would certainly support the Fallon family in their
campaign. They deserve our support and they would have my
100% support.

"The family has been a long time looking for answers and
any law-abiding citizen has a right to the truth."

Mr Fallon said yesterday his mother died in 1994. "It was
said at her graveside when she died that she died of a
broken heart. She was never able to move on from it."

He said that he hoped "absolutely" that the climate had
changed in recent years, with tribunals and the way the
Catholic Church had been forced to look at its past, and
that there might be more readiness to look at the
"lingering questions" about his father's death.

Last month Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said the
"appalling murder was fully investigated by the Garda
Síochána at the time".

"Arising from this investigation, three persons were
prosecuted, and they were subsequently acquitted by the

He remained "unconvinced that any further practical step is
open to me which would be likely to alter the outcome in
this case".

© 2007 The Irish Times


Sinn Féin Representatives To Accompany Loughinisland
Families To Stormont Meeting With NIO Minister Paul Goggins

Published: 5 January, 2007

South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane and Ballynahinch Councillor
Mickey Coogan are to accompany family members who were
bereaved in the Loughinisland massacre to Stormont on
Monday to meet with Paul Goggins MP. They will be there to
present the submissions on priorities relating to victims
and survivors of the 1994 atrocity and to raise matters
relevant to the case in more detail.

Describing the meeting as "another stepping stone in the
families' quest to find the truth," Ms Ruane said:

"The families are determined to unearth the truth about
what happened when their loved ones were shot in the
Height's Bar in Loughinisland 12 years ago. Sinn Féin will
support them in their quest for truth and justice.

"In the years that have passed since that awful day, the
families have patiently waited for answers and have behaved
in the most courageous and dignified way imaginable. Their
determination to raise serious questions about the murders
and specifically the subsequent investigation into it is a
credit to them.

"From 1994 to 2004 there was little or no information or
updates from the RUC into the investigation and despite
strong forensic leads and intelligence, nobody has ever
been charged with this atrocity.

"Monday's meetings will provide an opportunity for the
families to raise very important matters relevant to their
case to Paul Goggins, the Direct Rule Minister responsible
for Justice here in the north.

"Sinn Féin will continue to support the families of those
murdered at Loughinisland in their campaign for the truth
about what happened on that night 12 years ago. The British
government need to realise that issue will not go away. The
killings at Loughinisland had a deep impact on people
across this island and the revelations of British
involvement and cover-up have provoked much anger." ENDS


Case To Proceed Against Teacher

By Staff Reporter

IRISH-LANGUAGE activists staged a protest outside Belfast
Magistrates’ Court yesterday when an Irish-speaking teacher
appeared on a charge of disorderly behaviour.

Mhaire Nic An Bhaird (25), of Woodside Walk, Dunmurry, Co
Antrim, denied the charge.

Among a large group of supporters in court was Sinn Fein
MEP Bairbre de Brun, who had taught the defendant Irish.

Four police officers gave evidence that Ms Nic An Bhaird
had repeatedly shouted “Tiocfaidh ar la” at them in an
aggressive manner on south Belfast’s Malone Road last May.

One of the officers said she was not offended by the words,
which she understood to mean “Our day will come” but her
concern was they had been uttered in a mixed area and could
have offended a member of the public.

Another officer said the defendant’s three male companions
had appeared to be trying to calm her down but she had
continued to shout, getting louder.

The constable who arrested Ms Nic An Bhaird said had
shouted into his face.

He warned her she would be arrested if she did not stop.

She continued to shout and was arrested and taken away in a
Land Rover to be processed at Musgrave Street police

Defence barrister Neil Fox made an application to Resident
Magistrate Fiona Bagnall to throw out the charge for lack
of evidence.

He said the defendant had done nothing but speak loudly
towards a policeman.

“The police have to put up with a certain amount of
annoyance and the court should be slow to invoke the full
wrath of the criminal law when such behaviour is not
criminal,” he said.

A prosecution lawyer said the court had to look at the
context in which the words had been spoken and he submitted
that disorderly behaviour had taken place.

“The words ‘Tiocfaidh ar la’ have resonated in this
community and have an acknowledged meaning,” he said.

“They are used in a certain way at times and the court is
entitled to look at that.”

The magistrate said she was satisfied the prosecution had
made a case for the matter to proceed.

She rejected the application to dismiss the charge.

The hearing was adjourned until February 12 when Ms Nic An
Bhaird and three defence witnesses are to give evidence.


Series Documents Estate Agent’s Fall

By Catherine Morrison

A TELEVISION series charting the financial ruin of a
Belfast estate agent once accused of laundering money for a
murdered loyalist will be screened later this month.

When filming began in 2004, Philip Johnston (40) was a
successful and high-profile east Belfast businessman
enjoying an unprecedented boom in property prices.

But what started out as a run-of-the-mill documentary about
everyday life inside Philip Johnston & Company Estate
Agents changed course dramatically when the boss was
arrested and charged with money laundering.

Mr Johnston was being investigated as part of a police
probe into the financial affairs of former “brigadier of
bling” Jim Gray, who was shot dead in October 2005.

Gray, an ousted UDA paramilitary chief, was shot dead
outside his father’s east Belfast home while on bail. Mr
Johnston was accused of laundering money for Gray but all
four charges against the businessman were withdrawn last

The Public Prosecution Service gave no reason for dropping
the case.

Mr Johnston was left financially ruined and was forced to
sell off a chain of agencies across east Belfast, with the
television cameras there to capture events.

Mr Johnston said his arrest had had an “irreparable and
devastating impact on my life”.

At the time, Ian Paisley jnr of the DUP said the case was
“unbelievably shambolic” and had “cost careers”.

House Traders, a six-part series that starts on BBC1 on
January 15, is described as “a dramatic story of changing
fortunes, the tangled web of business dealings, the
survival of the fittest in a highly competitive world”
against the backdrop of the north’s burgeoning property

“This is a tale of personal and professional swings and
roundabouts, with a tumultuous human drama at its core,”
the blurb reads.

Waddell Productions, based in Holywood, Co Down, made the


Opin: DUP’s Mindset Is Fossilised In 17th Century

By Brian Feeney

BBC’s Today programme holds an annual poll to find out
which law its listeners would like to repeal.

One of the options this time was the 1701 Act of
Settlement, which requires Britain’s monarch to be a
Protestant and forbids the monarch or heir to the throne
marrying anyone not C of E.

The man proposing the repeal of this particular piece of
discriminatory legislation was award-winning author and
historian William Dalrymple, an expert on Asian religions
as well as being the presenter of a prize-winning radio
series on British spirituality and mysticism.

You probably won’t have heard this interview because it was
broadcast about 7.25 one morning last week but Jeffrey
Donaldson came on to say why the Act of Settlement should
not be repealed. It was priceless stuff.

Poor Jeffrey claimed the law had to be retained because,
among other things, a Catholic monarch would have to give
allegiance to the pope who is also a head of state and,
wait for it, that would mean a diminution in British

So that obviously means the real ruler of Spain is a German
pope. The same goes for Belgium.

You thought Zapatero was elected to govern Spain and Guy
Verhofstadt Belgium? No, according to the DUP mind, the
real ruler of these modern democratic states is not the
elected head of government but the hereditary monarch who’s
in thrall to the pope.

Can Jeffrey really believe that? Sadly it seems he can.

Dalrymple, who was supporting his proposal in the same
interview, claimed that the BBC had to dredge up a unionist
– who else? – to support the retention of this
discrimination because they couldn’t find anyone in Britain
to defend it.

Dalrymple’s exasperation was obvious to all listening
because our wee Jeffrey just didn’t geddit. It just never
occurred to him that Dalrymple, a noted expert on the
religions of the Indian sub-continent, was talking in the
context of modern Britain, a context that remains eternally
beyond the grasp of unionists.

For people like Dalrymple it’s important to repeal the Act
of Settlement not only to demonstrate equality before the
law to Catholics, a concept unionists have never come to
terms with, but even more important in Britain nowadays, to
demonstrate equality to Muslims, Hindus and Jews.

Our Jeffrey never thought for a second that by supporting
the Act of Settlement he was advocating discriminating
against Jews and Muslims and Hindus, now a sizeable
proportion of British society. Jeffrey could only see the
Act of Settlement in its 1701 context when the only
bogeyman was the pope.

You have to laugh.

The interview provided a crystal-clear example of the gap
between unionists’ idea of Britishness and current thinking
in Britain.

Stand by this year for an outpouring of books and articles
and programmes on the concept of Britishness. May marks the
300th anniversary of the Act of Union between Scotland and
England which officially invented Britain as a state.

Westminster is intent on formal commemoration of the event,
unlike with the 1801 Act of Union anniversary six years

Will the SNP use opposition to the anniversary of 1707 as a
springboard for the Scottish parliament elections the
following week? Do most Scots see themselves first and
foremost now as British, or Scottish? The indications are
most Scots have had enough of being run from London.

One certainty is that in all the analysis and soul-
searching this year about the meaning of Britishness
there’ll be no place for the lost tribe in the sick

As far as the majority of people on the other island is
concerned the sort of embarrassing nonsense professed by
Jeffrey Donaldson is an unrecognisable form of Britishness,
a version fossilised in the 17th century which everywhere
else was dissolved in the melting pot of 20th century

Perhaps the most dispiriting observation you can make about
Jeffrey Donaldson’s bizarre defence of the Act of
Settlement is that he is representative of the next
generation of unionist leaders.

The current leadership is a political Jurassic Park but if
the mindset exhibited on the Today programme is anything to
go by, then the prospect the coming men offer is back to
the future


Opin: SF Choreographing Last Steps Into Civic Society

By Tom Kelly

If Santa did not leave you what you wanted for Christmas
then perhaps you could resolve to get it for yourself in
the New Year.

Santa did not bring devolution but nor did he bring sack-
cloth and ashes for the bad boys and girls in Sinn Fein and
the DUP. However Sinn Fein’s political choreography
continues to amaze observers.

The long-awaited ard fheis will be called sometime this

It should, if Adams has done his homework, make Sinn Fein
an embryonic if not bona fide paid-up member of civic
society, supporting the police, the rule of law and the
judgment of the courts.

While this move is long overdue it should be welcomed.

Peter Hain is right when he says that there can be no
longer any political cover for the DUP if it doesn’t move
to seal its imminent marriage to Sinn Fein.

Of course that depends on Sinn Fein delivering the correct

Yet with one eye on elections in the Republic, Sinn Fein
knows that the party is on weak electoral ground on law and
order issues.

Ever the consummate political machine, a diet full of life-
long principles can be swallowed without even a gulp – as
power is the all-important Marxist goal. Who can blame

Why shouldn’t their noses be stuck in the ‘political

Of course there are those who will never forgo the cause of
militant republicanism. Pragmatism to these people meant
that in a war casualties happen and who cares if they were
people going to work; taking their children to school or
simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Perhaps even worse militant pragmatism meant you might even
have died by being the wrong person.

These warm-hearted individuals once stood shoulder to
shoulder with the leadership of Sinn Fein – they knocked on
our doors; threatened the political opposition; canvassed
for votes; turned on and off recreational violence as
required and of course were useful cannon fodder for the
frequent solidarity protests against ‘political’ policing.

More than likely these sons and indeed daughters of Erin
served time and got prime position at Easter commemoration
parades – but all of that is at an end as clean sheet
‘Johnny/Jane-come-latelies’ swap places with the faces that
don’t fit with the Sinn Fein electoral strategy of 2007.

To the diehards it was all a ruse; Sinn Fein was a
political chameleon playing the British government, the
government in the Republic and the SDLP at their own game.
The IRA had not gone away as Gerry reminded them and the
twin-track approach of ballot box by day and Armalite under
the bed still prevailed.

Of course, day-by-day P O’Neill was subtly changing the
rules by fax.

The privatisation process of the Provisional movement was
well under way.

The arms were being rented out for personal criminal
pursuits or sold back into the international arms market;
while the gardai and the PSNI were busy digging up Co
Roscommon and Co Tyrone potato fields for the leftovers.

Statues to the fallen went up all over the country; the
Hunger Strikers were eulogised with graveside oration after
oration and active service medals were given out to the old

Flying columns were disbanded and replaced with column
writers by the legion. The twin-track has been a single-
gauge line for a long time.

Gerry says he wants those who oppose him to come forward
and talk to him about their concerns.

That’s a nice thought.

Unfortunately, in case Gerry has forgotten, those who have
concerns don’t really go in for talking – they are more the
strong silent types.

Sinn Fein does deserve credit for moving on – albeit late;
however the manner by which the party is moving has two

On the one hand it has created a disaffected and dissident
rump and on the other it has given the DUP a veto on the
nature and timing of political progress in the north.

Sinn Fein know that the ‘rump’ it is leaving behind is
likely to be as ineffective as those who ran the 1950s IRA
campaign – in fact some of them are the same people.

It is clear that 2007 should be the year for political

If there is not the will to commit to devolution and if
plan B exists then it should be implemented.

The new year is about resolve – so let us hope everyone’s
political resolve lasts longer than my annual commitment to
go to the gym.


Opin: SF Policing Stance Has Parallels With Establishment
Of Garda

Sat, Jan 06, 2007

In the early years of this State, Éamon de Valera and
Fianna Fáil had to go through a metamorphosis in their
attitudes of support for the Garda Síochána, writes Conor

As Sinn Féin and the IRA square up to the issue of support
for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, there are some
interesting - and perhaps instructive - historical
comparisons with what happened here in the early years of
this State.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Éamon de Valera and Fianna Fáil had
to go through a metamorphosis in their attitudes to the
Garda Síochána.

Fianna Fáil's journey of conversion - as much as that
latterly being experienced by Sinn Féin - underlined an
ineluctable political reality. Full participation in
democratically based government and full acceptance of
whatever arrangements a state may make for civil policing
are ultimately indivisible.

The Garda was established in 1922 and 1923 and had been
brought up to a strength of about 4,000 by the end of 1924.
In 1925 the Garda Síochána and the Dublin Metropolitan
Police were amalgamated - an initiative which, among other
things, facilitated the deployment of armed Special Branch
units around the State.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the entire police
establishment of the new State was pro-Treaty. But it was
certainly the case that very few of Mr De Valera's
supporters had been placed in the new police - and none at
all in the senior ranks.

Significantly, members of the Garda were not generally
viewed as legitimate targets by the anti-Treaty forces
during the Civil War. Many were injured or wounded by
maverick elements but remarkably, just one Garda life was
lost during the civil war as a result of IRA action.

Garda casualties were actually heavier in the period 1922-
1927 than during the Civil War proper. As the National Army
was drawn back to barracks and with large-scale
demobilisation, the police became increasingly cast in the
role of the State's security force - as distinct from a
civil police force, concerned with routine administration
of law and order. "The embodiment of the Treaty in blue
uniforms" was one memorable description.

Under the direction of Eoin O'Duffy and his deputies,
Eamonn Coogan and WRE Murphy, the gardaí were vigorous in
their dealings with unreconstructed anti-Treaty supporters
who did not recognise the new State or its laws.
"Political" crime leached over into organised criminality
in many cases. Uniformed gardaí were murdered, in at least
one instance by criminals involved in the poteen trade, in
another by demobilised National Army officers-turned-bank-

In 1925, with the deployment of armed Special Branch units
across every division, the gardaí acquired new muscle and
used it vigorously. The "S-Branch" took on and in many
cases succeeded in putting out of business those who had
turned to armed crime or who refused to abide by De
Valera's "dump arms" order of November 1923.

The Garda in general and the Special Branch in particular
became the eminences grises of those who opposed the treaty
and who refused to accept the legitimacy of the new State
and the Cumann na nGaedheal administration of WT Cosgrave.

In 1926 De Valera accepted the realpolitik of the Irish
Free State and broke away from Sinn Féin to found Fianna
Fáil. Shortly afterwards he led his deputies into the Dáil,
declaring that he had taken no oath of allegiance to the
British monarch and that he had merely expressed an "empty

But if Fianna Fáil accepted the reality of the new
political institutions, it took most of its members much
longer to accept the legitimacy of the police force.

Neither did the police recognise much distinction between
Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the IRA, even after Mr De Valera
had entered the Dáil. Not untypical was a case of attempted
murder in Dublin in 1928.

A police informant, Seán Harling, shot dead a would-be IRA
assassin who had waited for him in ambush near his -
Harling's - home in Dartry. The dead man was also an active
member of Sinn Féin and latterly of Fianna Fáil.

Local Fianna Fáil councillors passed innumerable
resolutions condemning the new police and demanding that it
be dissolved. The Special Branch men were assailed with
particular vehemence in repeated speeches by senior Fianna
Fáil figures including De Valera, Seán Lemass, Frank Aiken
and Oscar Trainor.

Some of the Special Branch officers had been recruited from
the former ranks of the Oriel House "Criminal Investigation
Department," itself a lineal descendant of Michael
Collins's War of Independence "squad."

Special Branch was led by Colonel David Neligan who had
been one of Collins's agents in the DMP detective division.
Oriel House men were generally - and almost certainly
correctly - regarded as having been responsible for the
murder of Noel Lemass whose body was found in the Dublin
Mountains in 1923.

Fianna Fáil members refused to co-operate with the police
either by way of giving information or by appearing as
witnesses. It was perhaps hard to blame them. One or two
that did so were murdered. Some disappeared. Many were
intimidated or beaten or were threatened that their homes
and properties would be burned out.

The columns of the Irish Press carried frequent
denunciations of the gardaí while letter-writers to the
editor expressed the repeated hope that a Fianna Fáil
government would disband or politically cleanse the force.

But as the prospect of taking political power drew nearer,
leading Fianna Fáil figures moderated their language and
their demands. The 1930 Dáil debate on the estimates for
the Garda saw Fianna Fáil spokesmen call for a reduction in
the size of the uniformed force rather than its
disbandment. The Special Branch however remained the object
of deep hostility and it was clear that its members' future
in a De Valera-led state would be unpromising.

When Fianna Fáil finally took control of government in
1932, the designation of the IRA as an illegal organisation
was lifted. Military drilling, outlawed under the Cosgrave
government, was no longer illegal. Two organised,
disciplined forces were now recognised by the law.

It was an utterly confusing, demoralising and dangerous
time for the gardaí.

De Valera made a post-election tour of the country and
inspected parading IRA men, ignoring honour-guards drawn up
by the gardaí. Many gardaí went into passive mode, drew
their pay, kept their heads down and waited for the
honeymoon between Fianna Fáil and the IRA to come to an

In power, Fianna Fáil quickly set about fashioning the
police to their own ends. De Valera removed O'Duffy,
Neligan and William O'Connell, the deputy head of the
Special Branch. Many of the rank-and-file membership of the
Branch were dispersed to other duties.

With the emerging threat of the Blueshirts, led by O'Duffy,
the government took swift action to strengthen the police
organisation it had so long castigated.

Some hundreds of Fianna Fáil supporters were mobilised by
Oscar Trainor, issued with revolvers, hastily sworn in as
members of the Garda Síochána and assigned to the S-Branch.
They were dubbed the "Broy Harriers", a play on the name of
the new Commissioner (Eamonn Broy) and the Wicklow hunting
pack, the Bray Harriers. Many went on to long and
successful careers in the Garda.

Within a matter of months, the Fianna Fáil government and
the reshaped Garda Síochána were in a state of workable
cohabitation. The new minister for justice was feted at
Garda Headquarters in the Depot and featured on the cover
of the Garda Review. In due course, the honeymoon between
Fianna Fáil and the IRA did come to an end. Fianna Fáil had
to come to an acknowledgment that there could only be one
source of political authority in the land and that it could
support only one security structure.

When Mr De Valera reimposed the prohibitions on military
drilling and outlawed the IRA, it was the Garda Síochána
that had to enforce the law in support of government

There are many differences in the two scenarios then and
now, but there are similarities in the progressions. Fianna
Fáil entered Dáil Éireann in 1926 but it took almost six
years before the party normalised its relations with the
Garda Síochána. It has taken almost eight years since the
signing of the Belfast Agreement for Sinn Féin to normalise
its relationship with civil policing in Northern Ireland.

If there is a message for today from the example of the
1920s and 1930s, it would seem to be a positive one.

Conor Brady is a Commissioner of the Garda Síochána
Ombudsman Commission. He is author of Guardians of the
Peace, a history of the Garda Síochána, published in 1974
by Gill and Macmillan. He was editor of The Irish Times
from 1986 to 2002.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Opin: O’Halloran Case Must Be Reopened


The Police Ombudsman’s report on the attempted murder of a
north Belfast man over four years ago raises concerns
regarding the investigation of this case.

Jason O’Halloran was hit three times in a loyalist drive-by
shooting on July 21 2002, less than an hour before father
of one Gerard Lawlor was murdered by the UDA as he made his
way home along the Whitewell Road.

Those who recall that terrible night will remember the
terror which was unleashed by sectarian gunmen who roamed
the north of the city carrying out a series of attacks.

Even though the officer in charge of the investigation into
Mr Lawlor’s murder has admitted the police know the names
of his killers, no one has been charged or convicted of his
murder and serious questions remain about this
investigation as well as police actions on the night.

Now the ombudsman’s office has found shortcomings in the
way the police handled Mr O’Halloran’s case and has called
on the PSNI to reopen the file.

The report also revealed forensic evidence which points to
more than one gang on

the rampage in search of victims on the night in July.

The ombudsman has also been asked to look into how the
police investigated Mr Lawlor’s murder.

This will be a crucial report, for the Lawlor family, the
police and the relatives of those who have been murdered by
loyalist paramilitaries in recent years and who are still
waiting for justice.

In the meantime, the police must reopen the file on Mr
O’Halloran’s attempted murder and demonstrate that
everything possible has been done to catch those

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