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February 15, 2007

1979 Murder Convictions Ruled Unsafe

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 02/15/07 1979 Murder Convictions Ruled Unsafe
BT 02/15/07 April Court Date For Bank Raid Accused?
BT 02/15/07 Sir Hugh Denies Refusing To Meet Family
BT 02/15/07 MLAs Able To Rent Offices Their Families Own?
BT 02/15/07 SF & SDLP To Slug It Out For 6th Seat
BT 02/14/07 SDLP's Uphill Battle To Regain Its Lost Ground
BT 02/15/07 UUP To Fight To Woo Back Party's Deserters
BT 02/14/07 Six Degrees Of Separation For Bob McCartney
IM 02/15/07 RSF Poblachtach Launch Candidates And Manifesto
BT 02/14/07 Dismantling Brings Normality To Crossmaglen
BT 02/15/07 UUP Goes Cyber With Broadcast On YouTube
BT 02/15/07 Feature: Day Three: The Victims
BT 02/15/07 Feature: Day Four: The Victims
BT 02/15/07 Opin: Election About Building A Better Future
NL 02/15/07 Opin: SF Past May Come Back & Haunt The Future
BT 02/15/07 Hain Hits Out Over Ulster's Slave Past
IT 02/15/07 Hain In Row Over North Slavery Apology


Murder Convictions Ruled Unsafe

Two Derry republicans found guilty of murder in 1979 have
had their convictions quashed.

Raymond McCartney and Eamonn MacDermott were convicted of
murdering RUC officer Patrick McNulty. Mr McCartney was
found guilty of murdering Jeffrey Agate.

The judge said: "In both cases we are left with a distinct
feeling of unease about the safety of their convictions,
based as they were on admissions.

"The convictions must therefore be quashed," he told the
Court of Appeal.

Both men denied any involvement in the murders and said
they were brutalised in police custody and that confessions
were fabricated.

The cases were referred to the appeal court after an
investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission in

Detective Constable McNulty was shot by the IRA as he left
his car for servicing at a garage on Strand Road in the

A week later, DuPont managing director Jeffrey Agate was
shot dead by the IRA outside his Talbot Park home.

Mr McCartney spent 17 years in prison. During that time he
became the IRA's officer commanding in the Maze and spent
53 days on hunger strike.

Eamonn MacDermott spent 15 years in prison and has worked
for the Derry Journal for the last ten years.

Speaking outside court, Mr McCartney said: "This is
vindication for all those who took to the streets and
marched on behalf of prisoners at that particular time.

"This has to be set in the context of RUC interrogation
techniques in Strand Road and Castlereagh and it also
highlights the willingness of Diplock courts to take
confession-type statements and send republicans to jail."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/15 11:47:21 GMT


April Court Date For Bank Raid Accused?

[Published: Thursday 15, February 2007 - 09:12]
By Ashleigh Wallace

The case against the only man charged with the œ26.5m
Northern Bank robbery moved a step closer to trial
yesterday after a court was told a preliminary inquiry into
the heist may be held in April.

Christopher Ward (25), from Colinmill in the Poleglass area
of Belfast, remains the only person charged with the multi-
million pound armed robbery carried out at the bank's
headquarters in Donegall Square on December 20, 2004 after
charges against two co-accused were dropped.

Ward, who was employed at the bank at the time of the
heist, has consistently denied the charge. He attended
yesterday's hearing at Belfast Magistrate's Court with

A prosecutor told Magistrate Ken Nixon that the Crown may
be in a position to hold a preliminary enquiry, during
which Ward is expected to be returned for trial at Belfast
Crown Court, in April.

However, defence barrister Neil Fox expressed concerns that
the Crown has still not provided Ward's legal team with the
papers relating to the case.

The case was adjourned for four weeks, when it is hoped a
date for the preliminary enquiry will be fixed. Ward, who
is still signing at a police station on a daily basis, was
released on continuing bail.

c Belfast Telegraph


Sir Hugh Denies Refusing To Meet Family

[Published: Thursday 15, February 2007 - 09:01]
By Chris Thornton

Embattled PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has denied
refusing to meet the family of a police informer's victim.
The brother of north Belfast woman Sharon McKenna, one of
the first victims of UVF informer Mark Haddock, said
yesterday he was "very, very disappointed" Sir Hugh had
refused to meet him.

Mr McKenna's solicitor has written to Sir Hugh twice to ask
for meetings. The Chief Constable first suggested he meet
the PSNI's legal team, and responded to the second request
yesterday by saying he should contact the Historic
Enquiries Team.

The HET has been re-examining Ms McKenna's murder. She was
shot dead while cooking dinner for a Protestant friend just
released from hospital.

In last month's Ombudsman report, Nuala O'Loan said there
was intelligence rated "reliable and probably true"
indicating an agent known as Informant One took part in the

Informant One has been named in the Dail as Mark Haddock, a
North Belfast loyalist currently in prison for assault.

Mr McKenna said yesterday, "Bearing in mind that this is a
high-profile case, and I believe he is prepared to meet
Raymond McCord soon, I would have thought he would see us."

He said he will request to see Sir Hugh a third time.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "The Chief Constable did not
decline to meet Mr McKenna."

"He did, however, write to Mr McKenna's solicitor
explaining that it would be of most benefit for the family
to meet in the first instance with senior management from
the Historical Enquires Team, the bespoke unit established
to re-examine the unresolved cases from the period of the
Troubles and which reports directly to the Chief

c Belfast Telegraph


Why Are MLAs Able To Claim Expenses For Renting Offices
Their Families Own?

[Published: Thursday 15, February 2007 - 08:43]
By David Gordon

A taxpayers' watchdog is up in arms over a Northern Ireland
Assembly loophole that allows politicians to rent offices
from family members at public expense.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is under fire for allowing
politicians to rent offices from family members at
taxpayers' expense.

A similar allowances loophole was closed off at Westminster
some years ago.

But it has remained at Stormont throughout its long period
of suspension.

The Taxpayers' Alliance, a UK- wide pressure group, has
voiced strong criticism of the situation.

It is not known how many MLAs may have benefited from the
loophole, as the Assembly does not publish that level of
detail on members' expenses.

But this may change after the forthcoming election, as a
result of freedom of information developments at

MLAs and MPs are each entitled to claim tens of thousands
of pounds a year towards the running of constituency

A large proportion of this money goes on rental payments
for premises.

MPs are now barred from claiming leasing costs for
buildings owned by partners or family members, including
relatives by blood and marriage.

This rule was introduced after controversies about the
office expenses of a number of MPs, including Ulster
Unionist Roy Beggs Snr.

A 2001 parliamentary standards investigation examined the
then east Antrim MP's arrangements for leasing an office
from his daughters.

It resulted in him paying the Commons back excess claims
totalling œ2,454.

The official report to MPs on the case said Mr Beggs had
"increased his family's income at public expense".

The official House of Commons rule book on expenses -
called the Green Book - now tells members to "avoid any
arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you -
or someone close to you - is obtaining an element of profit
from public funds".

In reply to questions from this newspaper, a spokesman for
the Northern Ireland Assembly confirmed that the
Westminster prohibition is not applied at Stormont.

He said: "There is no rule which prevents a member from
leasing constituency office accommodation from a family

"There are clear guidelines which prevent a member from
leasing office accommodation that he or she owns."

Blair Gibbs, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "This is a
loophole that can make the job of being a politician just
that little bit more lucrative.

"It's already a job that gets a very good deal out of the
public purse - excellent salaries, superb expenses and some
of the best pension arrangements in the western world."

The Belfast Telegraph last year revealed that MLAs were
being paid a higher car mileage expenses rate than MPs,
despite the fact that the Assembly had been out of
operation since 2002.

This newspaper launched a Fair Dues campaign to demand an
end to the anomaly.

Secretary of State Peter Hain agreed and reduced the
Stormont mileage rate to the Westminster level.

The Taxpayers' Alliance is also pressing for greater
transparency over politicians' expenses.

The Assembly has followed Westminster practice in annually
publishing overall payments to members for such categories
as office costs and travel.

By contrast, the Scottish Parliament issues more detailed
breakdowns of claims made by its members. The House of
Commons moved towards the Scottish model this week, but
only after a lengthy freedom of information battle.

Separate payments made to MPs for car travel, car hire and
taxis, rail, air and bicycle journeys were released for the
first time yesterday.

Commons chiefs had fought against this level of disclosure
for two years, after refusing a freedom of information
request from Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker. The tussle
was eventually settled when the independent Information
Tribunal ruled in Mr Baker's favour.

The next Stormont Assembly will face similar pressure for
more openness on the sums paid to MLAs.

Mr Gibbs said that the Taxpayers' Alliance believed a
'matter of principle' is at stake. "Politicians and civil
servants have to be accountable for how they spend public
money," he added.

c Belfast Telegraph


Sinn Fein And SDLP To Slug It Out For The Sixth Seat

[Published: Thursday 15, February 2007 - 09:21]
By Brendan McDaid

All eyes in the Stormont Assembly election in Foyle are
likely to fix on the sixth seat as Sinn Fein launches its
bid to dethrone the SDLP from its power base.

At present the SDLP occupies three and Sinn Fein two of the
six seats in one of Ulster's most nationalist and densely
populated constituencies.

Both Sinn Fein Foyle MLAs elected in 2003 have left. Party
chairman Mitchel McLaughlin is contesting South Antrim and
veteran Mary Nelis retired in July 2004.

Ex-hunger striker Raymond McCartney, who replaced Mrs
Nelis, is running, alongside the party's head of unionist
engagement, Martina Anderson, and ex-Derry mayor Lynn

Sinn Fein's decision to back policing is expected to impact
on the trio's pulling power among hardline republicans in

Peggy O'Hara (76) the mother of hunger striker Patsy
O'Hara, who died after starving for 61 days in 1981, will
be seeking election on an anti-policing ticket as an
abstentionist independent republican.

She is backed by the IRSP, the 32 County Sovereignty
Movement, ex-Sinn Fein members and Concerned Republicans.

If Sinn Fein is to make any gains, it is likely to be to
the SDLP's detriment.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan MP, who topped the polls in 2003
with 16.7% of the vote, is expected to take the first seat

The fight for the second and possibly the third SDLP seats
will be thrashed out between Pat Ramsey and Mary Bradley,
and current Mayor of Derry Helen Quigley, who is standing
for the first time.

Policing aside, social issues look set to play a major part
in the Foyle election.

At present, Foyle has the unenviable record of having the
most long-term unemployed, with almost one in five adults
on income support.

It is predicted that water charges will make a bleak
situation worse.

The threat posed by centralisation to local government jobs
and the almost total lack of new jobs above the minimum
wage has also sparked major concerns.

On top of this, ongoing vandalism, underage drinking and
anti-social behaviour in Londonderry will be foremost in
the minds of many voters, with criminal damage accounting
for almost a third of all crimes committed in Foyle.

Widespread concern has also been expressed over the
swelling numbers of people on social housing lists as house
prices in the private sector continue to soar.

The candidate for the Socialist Environmental Alliance,
veteran activist and journalist Eamonn McCann, could throw
a spanner in the works this year.

Mr McCann, who polled 5.5% of the vote in 2003, has gained
a high profile in the city since, due to his pro-active
stance against the global arms trade, his advocation of
mass non-payment of water charges and his party's bid to
help integrate the thousands of Polish and other immigrants
who are now living in the North West.

Meanwhile, to the consternation of the DUP in Derry, the
Ulster Unionist Party has put forward fresh-faced candidate
Peter Hay.

It's a move which the former party fears may split the
unionist vote in Foyle.

Fears of a split were added to when victims campaigner
Willie Frazer also threw his hat into the ring as an

At the polls in 2003, however, DUP candidate William Hay
beat the UUP's only remaining councillor in Derry, Mary
Hamilton, securing a 15% share of the vote, second only to
Mark Durkan.

c Belfast Telegraph


SDLP's Uphill Battle To Regain Its Lost Ground

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 08:35]
By Deborah McAleese

Perhaps it is the combination of sea and mountain air that
has blessed the residents of South Down with better health
than people living anywhere else in Northern Ireland.

The area, which incidentally has the second highest number
of people living in caravans in Ulster, is home to the
greatest number of healthy residents in the province.

According to census information some 76,000 people in the
area - more than 70% of the growing South Down population -
have described their general health as good.

With the rugged Mourne Mountains providing a scenic
backdrop for most of the South Down constituency (which
encompasses the seaside resort of Newcastle, the market
town of Banbridge and historical Downpatrick), a thriving
population and healthy residents, life appears to be pretty
good for those living in the area.

It may not be as affluent as its North Down neighbour, but
in terms of employment South Down has a higher than average
number of residents who are economically active.

The tourist town of Newcastle, which is home to the
renowned Royal County Down golf course, generates quite a
lot of income, particularly during the summer months.

Last year the town's promenade received a long-awaited
facelift which has injected new life into the resort.

So with the main tourist town revamped it is now down to
the South Down voters to decide if they also want to
freshen up the local political scene.

The battle for supremacy will be between the SDLP and Sinn

The SDLP, who once had virtual hegemony in the area, faces
an uphill struggle to win back the seat it lost to Sinn
Fein in the 2003 elections.

Four years ago the SDLP's vote slumped by 10% while Sinn
Fein's soared by more than 11%, leaving both parties with
two MLAs and the SDLP smarting from the loss of the
influential Eamonn O'Neill, who had been chairman of the
Assembly's environment committee.

Last week the SDLP was dealt a further blow to its hopes of
regaining dominance with the news that Mr O'Neill has ruled
himself out of the running, citing personal reasons.

That just leaves Margaret Ritchie and PJ Bradley and third
party candidate Hugh Carr pitching for three seats.

Up against them are Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane and Willie
Clarke, who were victorious in 2003 and are expected to be
returned again in March. The pair complement each other
well - Ruane has a high-profile role within the party
hierarchy while Clarke is a highly effective grassroots

They will be joined at the hustings by former IRA prisoner
turned councillor Eamon Mac Con Midhe.

It could all come down to the grand old man of SDLP
politics, long-standing MP Eddie McGrady, to turn his
party's fortunes around by appealing for the middle ground
to come out in greater numbers than they did in 2003, which
he blames for the loss of O'Neill's seat.

Sitting MLA Jim Wells of the DUP topped the poll in 2003,
the first time his party had ever beaten the Ulster
Unionists in a South Down election.

The Ulster Unionists have selected a complete unknown to
take over from former Environment Minister Dermot Nesbitt,
who has retired.

David McCallister, who only joined the UUP two years ago,
will be the party's sole candidate.

However, it is not looking particularly good for the
Rathfriland dairy farmer as his inexperience and low
profile is causing concern among UUP die-hards in the north
of the constituency.

c Belfast Telegraph


UUP To Fight To Woo Back Party's Deserters

[Published: Thursday 15, February 2007 - 11:35]
By Noel McAdam

The Ulster Unionist Party has begun the battle to win back
voters who deserted it for the DUP.

On the eve of its election manifesto launch, the party's
message to former supporters was: "The DUP promised you a
deal - but they cannot deliver."

A senior party source said: "The fact is you do not know if
you vote DUP whether you will get Stormont back or not.
With us, you do."

Referring to the DUP's continued refusal to meet Sinn Fein,
the source added: "We know because we have been there that
to attempt to run an administration with people you have
never even spoken to is barking mad."

The UUP will tomorrow become the first of the four major
parties to launch its manifesto, which is attempting to
make a step-change by focusing on social and economic
rather than the constitutional issues.

It is expected to include a number of radical ideas
including free prescriptions, an induction year for new
teachers and every secondary school becoming a 'specialist'
centre of excellence.

On the policing issue, however, the party document will not
give a date when it envisages the devolution of justice
powers to the Assembly could take place.

That, a senior figure explained, will depend on the level
of confidence in the unionist community. which he felt
could increase significantly relatively quickly.

UUP attempts to woo back voters came as the DUP announced
it would not be focussing on attacking other unionist

Leader Ian Paisley said: "I am not fighting fellow
unionists in this election. My focus is on the real enemy -

The DUP leadership calculates Ulster Unionists will fail to
win even one extra seat, although the UUP reckons there are
several potential gains, including Lagan Valley.

The UUP figures its backers in the constituency will swing
back behind their candidates, following the defection of
former UU members Jeffrey Donaldson and Norah Beare to the
DUP after the last Assembly election in November 2003.

The DUP's move to deflect attention from unionist divisions
also came after United Kingdom Unionist leader Robert
McCartney challenged the party to a public debate.

The DUP, however, argued Mr McCartney's strategy, standing
in six constituencies to attract the anti-Agreement vote,
was designed to make Sinn Fein the largest party.

And Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said: "If the DUP
is not worried, why did they start their election broadcast
attacking us.

"The fact is that the programme the DUP promised has not
been delivered. What happened to photographic evidence of
decommissioning? Why is the D'Hondt mechanism (for the
appointment of ministers) which they said was out of the
question, still with us?"

But DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said: "The battle
within unionism with the Ulster Unionist Party has been
fought and won. Our focus is not on the UUP but on staying
ahead of Sinn Fein."

c Belfast Telegraph


Six Degrees Of Separation For Bob

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 08:38]
By Noel McAdam

Incoming: a text from a former associate of Robert
McCartney - who is standing in no less than six
constituencies - wonders if the UK Unionist will get six

The answer is No. But Bob's half-dozen is causing some
mirth nevertheless. "It's amazing," a unionist opponent
quips, " I mean, even God is only three-in-one." Of course,
one knows the QC is relatively well-off but surprise was
expressed that he can afford FIVE clones. Will they all
attend the party conference?

But at least multi-tasking Bob is standing in an electoral
entity which actually exists. A North Down opponent,
independent "voice" Chris Carter, refers in a statement to
the officials of 'Doyle Erin'. Maybe he means Popeye
Doyle's Irish cousin.

SDLP's boss Mark Durkan admits running for office isn't
easy. In a tonic-for-the-troops address he candidly
confessed: "As a candidate, you have to be prepared for a
hard time. You're never quite sure what sort of reception
you're going to get. There's always the possibility of a
cold shoulder. And that's before you even leave the house."
He quickly turned to his wife, adding: "Only joking,

Cross? Sometimes, yes. But cross-dressers? Definitely 'NO'.
The DUP had planned to give a media briefing in the Ramada
Hotel this morning, where they would have been cheek by
jowl with a transvestite conference. Purely a coincidence,
then, that the party decided last night to slip into a
different venue.

c Belfast Telegraph


(Republican) Sinn F‚in Poblachtach Launch Candidates And

International Elections Press Release
Thursday February 15, 2007 13:43
by Se n O Murch£ - Sinn F‚in Poblachtach - Cork

A Press Conference was held on Tuesday February 13th in
Belfast. (Republican) Sinn Fein Poblachtach had called the
conference to introduce the candidates. They are, as

Fermanagh/South Tyrone: Michael McManus
West Tyrone: Joe O'Neill
Mid-Ulster: Brendan McLaughlin
Upper Bann: Barry Toman
West Belfast: Geraldine Taylor
East Derry: Michael McGonigle

(Republican) Sinn F‚in Poblachtach also launched its
election manifesto for the forthcoming election.

It reads:

Smash Stormont

(Republican) Sinn F‚in Poblachtach election manifesto,
Feabhra/February 2007.

(Republican) Sinn F‚in Poblachtach is taking the
opportunity of the present election in the Six Counties to
put before the electorate a positive programme for an end
to English rule in Ireland. We seek national independence
for ALL 32 Counties of our country.

Believing the Stormont Assembly to be an obstacle to Irish
national liberation, our candidates will not, when elected,
take part in that body. They will act as spokespersons at
home and abroad for those opposed to English rule here and
make themselves available to sit in an All-Ireland
parliament of the future.

For close on four decades (Republican) Sinn F‚in
Poblachtach has adhered to the noble concept of IRE NUA -
a totally New Ireland of the four provinces, including a
nine-county Ulster.

With optimum devolution of power and decision-making to
strong regional boards and local councils, every section of
our people would have maximum control over their own future
based on local majorities. A community of communities is
our aim.

Our social and economic programme, SAOL NUA, A New Way of
Life, is based on Republican, Democratic Socialist,
environmental and self-reliance principles. We seek an end
to exploitation of humankind by any section and wish to
"cherish all the children of the nation equally".

In particular we reject English police, English courts,
English laws in Ireland. Those who accept these
institutions here betray the many generations of Irish
people who have struggled valiantly for long-downtrodden

What the Provisional leadership is doing is in direct
conflict with the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic and
with the Declaration of Independence of the First (All-
Ireland) D il. Their recent decisions also conflict with
the high ideals for which so many men and women of all
creeds have struggled, suffered and died over the

To approve of and work the institutions designed
deliberately by a foreign power to subjugate and hold us
down as a people is to strengthen English rule here and
weaken our effort for national liberation.

A previous generation smashed Stormont. Efforts are now
under way to undo the gains which were made then and
Stormont is to be re-imposed on us. Vote Republican Sinn
F‚in and smash Stormont again.

No to English police, courts, laws and institutions; Yes to
English withdrawal, Yes to EIRE NUA (A New Ireland), Yes to
real All-Ireland democracy.

People of the Six Counties! Do not give away what earlier
generations won for us by their sacrifices. Stand by the
Republican prisoners who are a living reproach to those who
allowed the political status won by Bobby Sands and his
comrades on hunger strike to be ended under the Stormont
Agreement of 1998.

Remember an English government more than a century ago
attempted to "kill Home Rule with kindness". Those who came
before us did not allow that to succeed. You, today, must
not permit the advances already made to be given away by
those who are selling us out step by step to the English

To those of the Unionist persuasion we would say that this
new Stormont arrangement can only lead to continuing
instability which is not in the interest of any section of
the community. We would ask them to look again at our IRE
NUA proposals for a four-province federal Ireland which, we
believe, is the blueprint for a true and lasting peace in

The 1916 Proclamation declared "the right of the Irish
people to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered
control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and
indefeasible". Stand by that right in this election.

V¢t il (Republican) Sinn F‚in Poblachtach. Seasaimis leis
an bPoblacht Uile-ireann.

Related Link:


Sangar Dismantling Brings Normality To Crossmaglen

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 08:49]
By Emily Moulton

For the small Crossmaglen community, yesterday's historic
event was long overdue.

Those who turned out to see the dismantling of the last
significant military structure in south Armagh were nothing
short of delighted.

For more than 30 years the armoured sangar was the Army's
base in what was often referred to as 'bandit country'.

Yesterday's historic dismantling was part of the Armed
Forces' withdrawal of security infrastructure throughout
Northern Ireland.

It's expected that the removal of the sangar will be
completed by March 31.

Many residents who witnessed the event have expressed a
desire for the land to be returned to the families.
However, it is understood the site will continue to be used
as a police station.

Patricia Quinn, who has lived in Crossmaglen all her life,
said she thought it was a great day for the town.

"I can remember the day it went up. It didn't go up all at
once, it was in bits and pieces over the course of a few
years but I am very glad to see it go.

"That is the feeling of most people here - we do not need
policing in that fashion."

Another man said he was happy it was being removed. For
more than 30 years, he and his family had endured
helicopters flying in and out all day.

"It would depend on what was going on but on average they
would be flying in and out three or four times a day.

"I am just glad that we are going to have a bit of
normality now. Everybody deserves to live in normality.

"I am happy to see it go but accept we need a police
station. We do need law and order. I am just glad it will
look normal."

Local Sinn Fein councillor Terry Hearty was also in the
small crowd of residents who watched the crane removing the
look-out post.

He said: "It is great but it is long overdue. This should
have been done 10 years ago. I would welcome the removal
but would like to see the land returned to locals."

Fellow party colleague and MP for the area, Conor Murphy
said: "I think it is progress and I welcome the removal. It
was long overdue. I expected it to be gone earlier but I am
glad it has finally been shifted.

"This is a step towards the peace process."

c Belfast Telegraph


UUP Goes Cyber-Canvassing With Broadcast On YouTube

[Published: Thursday 15, February 2007 - 09:05]
By Claire McNeilly

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey last night boasted that his party
was already celebrating an Assembly election 'victory'.

That's because the Ulster Unionists are the first to turn
to internet colossus YouTube as a forum for their party
political broadcasts in the run- up to the March 7 poll.

Sir Reg said he saw 'electronic electioneering' in
cyberspace as a way of making politics accessible to more
than just the "political anoraks" .

"We launched onto the YouTube website at noon today," he

"I think it's a victory for us. We're trying to open
politics up so that people can get the newest information
when it suits them."

He added: "I think it will not only help us stay ahead, but
it will hopefully help attract younger voters.

"It is a marketing and information-gathering tool and we
want it to be entertaining, with blogs and diary pieces,
for example.

"We want to bring politics to life for generations of
people who think we're old and stodgy. We need to liven
things up. We don't just want to attract political

The Green Party's North Down candidate, Brian Wilson, has
also posted an election video on YouTube.

"My 24-year-old son actually suggested it," he said.

"But I'd seen previous politicians doing this and I thought
it was an interesting way to get through to people,
especially young people."

Political parties like Sinn Fein, who are no strangers to
cyberspace, have used websites such as MySpace and Bebo to
their advantage in the past.

Meanwhile, the 2007 Assembly Elections Prediction Contest
has hit the web, offering prizes for political observers
who correctly guess the number of seats each party will win
next month. Enter at

c Belfast Telegraph


Feature: Day Three: The Victims

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 11:23]

Killed by the IRA for supplying the security forces - a
Kilkeel woman on her dad's brutal slaying

Kenneth Graham (46), the owner of J Graham and Sons, a
building suppliers in Kilkeel, Co Down, was killed by an
IRA bomb underneath his car on April 27, 1990. The IRA said
it was because he supplied building materials to the
security forces. His daughter Manya was 13 and her sister
Ashley was 10. Manya is now 30 and married to Kilkeel
fisherman Gary Dickinson (34), with two daughters of her
own, Kenzie (7) and three-year-old Heidi. Here, she tells
Chrissie Russell about that fateful day

I was 13 and on my way back from a school hockey trip to
Holland when it happened. As I came off the boat, my mum
was waiting. She told me, 'Bad men have killed your dad'.
This April, dad will be dead and buried 17 years, but I
still feel we're left picking up the pieces, with no one
ever held accountable.

Everyone thinks 'It's all over now', but it's nowhere near
over for the innocent families left behind. It will never
be over for us. People ask me if it gets easier over time -
it doesn't. The pain never goes away, you just learn to
live with it.

Dad was the owner of a family business in Kilkeel supplying
building materials. Mum and dad always kept it from Ashley
and me, but the IRA had been threatening dad because he
supplied building materials to the security forces. Dad's
attitude was that he 'wasn't going to let them beat him',
but on April 27, 1990, he was killed when a bomb exploded
under his car outside his house.

I remember shortly after his funeral mum, Ashley and I were
in Kilkeel when a carload of lads drove past. They wound
down the window, spat at us and cheered 'We got him'.

Both sides

My mum always told me that religion was not an issue in our
house and dad built houses for both sides of the community.
Until dad's death the Troubles had been a very distant
thing to me, and it was very hard for me to understand why
a republican would want to kill a Protestant just because
he was supplying building materials. After his death, the
firm stopped supplying the security forces - dad would have
hated that.

I still feel very angry and I'm getting more angry as time
goes on. Everything that happens in my life, I find myself
wishing dad was there. When I did my GCSEs and my driving
test and on my 18th and 21st birthdays - he wasn't there.
When I married Gary we went to the Bahamas and did it on
our own, because I couldn't face walking up the aisle
without my dad there to give me away. But the worst thing
is knowing that my children will never know their granddad.

It's insulting to hear Gerry Adams talking about a 'new
beginning' - it doesn't work like that. He needs to sit
down with me and give me answers that I feel make sense of
what happened. The IRA's apology meant absolutely nothing
to me. What they did never should have happened in the
first place and I disagreed with prisoners being let out
under the Good Friday Agreement. No one who killed innocent
people should have been let out of prison, either IRA or
loyalist. The IRA killed more during the Troubles, but no
family from any background should have to go through what
our family went through.

Marriage pressure

Sometimes I feel people aren't sure if they should mention
Dad because they're worried they'll upset me, but Ashley
and I talk about him all the time and I like to tell my
daughters about him. He used to take us to the show houses
he'd built in Newcastle and let us play house - he loved
having us with him, and I know he would have loved my
daughters, Kenzie and Heidi.

My parents divorced when I was nine because the threats dad
was getting put their marriage under pressure. The fact
they were divorced almost made my grief more difficult,
because I felt like I hadn't seen him as much as I wanted

I suffered from anorexia and bulimia for 10 years and only
recovered quite recently. My family were very worried about
me, but counselling helped me realise that it was my way of
dealing with the trauma of dad's death. I now work part-
time with Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) and
I'm studying at Queen's University, Belfast, for a
qualification in counselling - it helped me so much, I want
to be able to do the same for other people. The families
left behind need more support and need to know that they
won't be forgotten. Everybody keeps saying 'You must move
forward', but most of us can't do that. It feels like now
the IRA have supposedly decommissioned, the victims don't
count anymore.

Realistically, I know there will probably never be people
behind bars for killing dad, but if I could even get the
names of the people who did it and make those names public,
it would be something. I want it publicly recognised that
people killed my dad ... I don't want his death just to be
a statistic.

My sister and I never received any financial recompense for
dad's death, but it really wouldn't have made a difference
if we had. I would rather have justice than a cheque. My
family and I now live in the house that dad built for my
mother when they got married. Sometimes it's difficult,
because every room is a memory. There are times I look out
the window and I can see his car there.

I want to make sure dad's name is not forgotten; he needs a
voice and for someone to keep fighting for him. I can't let
it go and I know that he wouldn't. There are so many
unheard voices, but maybe if mine is heard something will
be done to recognise the others.

c Belfast Telegraph


Feature: Day Four: The Victims

[Published: Thursday 15, February 2007 - 10:23]

Ronnie Finlay was a former corporal in the UDR, having
served part time for 18 years. His widow Kathleen tells
Chrissie Russell about the enduring horror of witnessing
her husband's murder. Plus, almost 11 years ago an IRA gang
shot dead Garda Jerry McCabe. His widow Anne tells Laurence
White how anger continues to fuel her fight for justice

Ronnie and Kathleen Finlay from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, had
been married for 14 years when he was shot dead on August
15, 1991. Ronnie (47), was a former corporal in the UDR,
having served part time for 18 years. Kathleen (55) has
lived in Baronscourt, Co Fermanagh, for the past 10 years
with her sons Andrew (18), a pupil at Strabane Grammar, and
Bryan (25), who works for an import/export business in
Dundee. She tells Chrissie Russell about the enduring
horror of witnessing her husband's murder.

We buried Ronnie on August 17, 1991. Our youngest son,
Andrew, turned three just a few days later. He says he
remembers his dad, but he was so young that I'm not sure he
can. I want people to know about Ronnie because I don't
want him to become a statistic. He was a real person who
was a husband and a father.

He was gunned down by three men as I left him off to work
on the morning of Thursday, August 15. I was dropping him
at the gate of the farm where he worked in Sion Mills when
I heard a burst of automatic gunfire and saw him fall to
the ground. When I ran round to him there was another burst
of gunfire and I knew he'd been killed.

I got the boys out of the back of the car and, lifting
Andrew and walking Bryan, I tried to walk towards the
farmhouse, thinking it would be a place of safety, but one
of the gunmen had a gun trained on me and told me to get
back to the car.

I tried to shield the boys as the men shot out my tyres
before they escaped in the farmer's car. I had no way of
getting away and when I went inside the farmhouse the
farmer had been tied up and the phone lines were cut. I
walked with the boys to the nearest house three-quarters of
a mile away to raise the alarm.

Bryan was hysterical and kept asking would dad be ok and
shouldn't we get a doctor ... It's strange, but the whole
time I never felt hysterical. I just knew Ronnie was dead.

Ronnie had been in the forces when I met him. He was a
corporal based part-time with the Ulster Defence Regiment
in St Lucia barracks in Omagh. He served for almost 19
years, but he had been out of the regiment a little over
two years when he was killed. He'd left because we both had
full-time jobs and wanted to have more time together as a

As far as I know, Ronnie never received any threats either
before or after leaving the UDR, but I suppose I didn't
think he would be in the same danger as he had been in when
actively serving.

There was never any reason given for why Ronnie was killed
and no one ever claimed responsibility. That tortured me
for a long time. It was clear that the gunmen had been
watching us and knew our movements, so the timing of
Ronnie's death was cold and calculated.

I don't know how anyone can kill another human being,
especially in front of his young family. If they wanted to
kill Ronnie they could have done it any time, it didn't
have to be in front of his children. It's difficult to
imagine a more psychologically damaging event, and we all
needed support through counselling after it happened.

Bryan became my shadow for about 18 months afterwards. He
didn't like to leave my side, but neither of the boys ever
talked much about what happened, I think they were trying
to protect me.

I don't know if what happened ever really sank in with me.
If I zoom in on it too much, it makes me feel physically
sick. I can't bring myself to forgive the people who killed
Ronnie, but I really don't think about them any more.
Ultimately, I think forgiveness comes from God, so it's
between them and God.

I used to think about them every day and wish something bad
would happen to them, but it takes so much energy out of
you to be angry all the time and it doesn't have any effect
on the people you're angry at, nor can it change anything.

I think you learn to live with your pain and walk with it a
bit easier as time passes, but I can't pretend Ronnie never
existed. He was my husband and there's not one day goes by
when I don't think about him. I feel we've been cheated out
of so much. The boys were cheated out of a father and never
had that male influence that is so fundamental to a family.

I think a balance needs to be struck between moving on and
not forgetting, because we can't just forget the sacrifice
people have made or the pain and suffering of people
injured. I feel the politicians who are trying to build a
peace settlement are pretending everything is fine, but
most terrorist organisations are insatiable in their
demands and I think agreements have been built on deceit. I
think a lot of things have been swept under the carpet in
pursuit of political expediency.

Nothing can change what has gone before, but it would be
something if we could live in a normal, peaceful society
where the law held people accountable for their actions.
Most of all, the misery of the Troubles should never, ever
be allowed to happen again.

I don't really think of myself as a 'victim'. I think it's
a very negative word. I was the victim of a horrific
attack, but I never sought victim status, it was inflicted
upon me and if I sat feeling victimised then I would never
make a go of anything.

I see myself as being determined to make a go of things for
me and my family and the best thing I can do is bring my
children up to be good citizens and do nothing that will
tarnish the memory of my husband and their father.

Almost 11 years ago, an IRA gang shot dead Garda Jerry
McCabe during a botched robbery of a security van in Adare,
Co Limerick. His widow, Anne, a 61-year-old mother-of-five,
two of whom are now gardai, has fought an unceasing
campaign to ensure that his killers serve their full terms
in prison in the Republic. She tells Laurence White how
anger continues to fuel her fight for justice

You were scathing in your criticism of the comments made by
Gerry Adams that Sinn Fein would "put manners on the RUC".

I read an article by Gerry Adams in which he said this and
I felt I had to speak out. I thought he had an absolute
cheek to say what he did. He should look over his own
shoulder and put manners on his own people. Does he also
feel they should put manners on An Garda Siochana? How dare
he say he would put manners on anyone!

You are an outspoken critic of Sinn Fein and the IRA and of
attempts to release your husband's killers. What keeps you

First of all, I don't keep bringing up my husband's death.
Sinn Fein keeps bringing it up by their continuing calls
for the release of the two men. I got assurances from the
previous Government in the Republic from day one that these
men would not be released early under the terms of the Good
Friday Agreement. I got the same assurances from the
present Government.

If there were no attempts to get these men released you
wouldn't hear from me.

The two went to the High Court last December to ask to be
released under the Good Friday Agreement, but they lost.
Then, last week, they were ordered to pay the costs of that
challenge. I think that is only fair.

They have said in the past that they didn't want to be
pawns in the peace process and that appeals for their early
release should be shelved. Then they go to the High Court.
What am I supposed to do?

How does your family cope with the repeated publicity about
your husband's death?

They would rather I didn't speak out so often. It is
frustrating to keep my mouth shut at times, but I have to
think of my family. I also have to speak up for myself at
times. There are periods when I could be on the air or in
the newspapers every day if I wanted. I had my human rights
taken away when my husband was shot dead. He also had his
human rights taken away. My rights are also being violated
every time Sinn Fein or the prisoners bring up the issue.

What other comments do you have to endure?

Someone recently said that my husband knew he was putting
himself in a life-threatening situation that day. He
wasn't. He was doing his job, which was minding the pension
money in the security van. He just went to work and did his
job. The people who set out to rob the van were not taking
money for 'the cause'. It was a simple post office robbery
and nothing to do with 'the cause'.

Someone else said I was so fond of using the rhetoric of
the DUP that I should join them. Such comments don't matter
to me.

Have you much contact with the relatives of other victims
of terrorism?

I have quite a lot through the Irish Peace Institute here
in Limerick. It works both north and south of the border
with relatives of victims and their children. They bring
children down here on holidays.

I was at a peace concert in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast
a couple of years ago with members of the Peace Institute.
Sitting in front of me was Ian Paisley jnr. He didn't know
me and I didn't immediately recognise him. At one stage,
everyone was asked to shake hands and say "peace be with
you" . I never thought I would be doing that with Ian
Paisley jnr.

However, I could envisage saying "peace be with you" with
Gerry Adams. I had a confrontation with him in New York,
where he was addressing a meeting of his supporters. I went
into the meeting incognito. When I introduced myself to the
audience, they were astonished.

I asked Mr Adams a couple of questions: did he condemn my
husband's killers and would he ask two of the gang who are
on the run to turn themselves into the gardai? All I got
was the usual rhetoric. If Sinn Fein is now endorsing the
PSNI, why will it give information to the gardai on where
these two gang members are?

Do you ever feel that you and the death of your husband
have been used as pawns in a wider political game?

I did feel for some time that I was being used as a pawn.
But now I know that the men in jail will be doing their

There are many people who lost loved ones who have never
seen their killers brought to justice, or else saw them
released from jail early. Do you feel in a better position?

To some extent, yes. But the men in prison did not, in my
eyes, get long enough jail sentences. They should have been
longer, but witnesses were intimidated.

Do you think there has been progress in the peace process?

We have to hope that progress has been made. We cannot go
back to where we were.

We have to move forward with accepting the rule of law and
accepting the PSNI as a legitimate police force. You cannot
just say that you support them in civil policing matters.

I accept there have been problems with some police officers
north and south, but what organisation doesn't have

Does Sinn Fein accept the role of Special Branch in the

My husband was a member of the Special Branch dealing with

Nuala O'Loan (the Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland) did
an excellent job in investigating problems with Special
Branch there.

Maybe everyone doesn't agree with that, but that is my

Obviously the hurt still continues for you?

Yes. My husband was a character. He used to joke that the
day he "went out" he would "go out big". He never realised
how big. This has been going on for nearly 11 years and
that shouldn't be.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Election Is About Building A Better Future

[Published: Thursday 15, February 2007 - 09:56]

Where else but Northern Ireland would there be candidates
bidding for election in more than one constituency? This
simple fact illustrates what a confused and confusing
Assembly election this will be, with no deal done between
the likely partners in a power-sharing government and
therefore no certainty that a working executive will emerge
by March 26.

As expected, the line-up of 256 candidates shows that both
DUP and Sinn Fein will face several dissidents from their
own ranks, and beyond, who oppose the principles of power-
sharing and Stormont rule. The parties themselves have yet
to speak to each other, let alone agree to sit in
government, but even the prospect of Ian Paisley and Martin
McGuinness as First and Deputy First Ministers has
separated the "provisional" power-sharers from the rest.

How much damage the dissidents and independents will do is
a key issue in the election, since both the DUP and Sinn
Fein will want to be at maximum strength for the
negotiations that will follow the March 7 vote. Although
there have been some high-profile defections, and the
multiple challenge of Robert McCartney will test the
strength of unionist commitment to the St Andrews
Agreement, fear of splits in the tribal vote may ensure its

The only certainty is that the two parties - the UUP and
SDLP - who reached the honourable compromise of the Good
Friday Agreement will again be under severe pressure. Their
vote has steadily declined, as the government has coaxed
their rivals towards power-sharing, and their best chance
may be to emphasise doubts about the long-term viability of
a DUP-Sinn Fein partnership.

Nevertheless, even the sceptics have to admit that there
has been enormous progress since the last Assembly election
in November 2003. No executive emerged, despite years of
non-stop negotiation by Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, but
eventually the IRA has decommissioned its weapons and Sinn
Fein, belatedly, has offered to support the PSNI - two
events that were previously unthinkable.

Meanwhile, the peace process has continued to improve the
quality of life for everyone, fuelling investment, cutting
unemployment and ensuring that there would be no support
for a return to violence. The only fly in the ointment is
resentment of the dictates of the direct rule regime, on
such diverse issues as water tax, rates, the 11-plus and
reform of local government.

Matters that should be decided by a local Assembly - and
would be, in Scotland or Wales - are the reluctant
responsibility of Labour ministers without a single
Northern Ireland vote. That is what the election should be
about, building a better political and economic future, so
attempts to turn it into a sectarian headcount must be
strenuously resisted.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: SF Past May Come Back And Haunt The Future

FRESH questions are being asked about the terrorist past of
Martin McGuinness, one-time IRA commander and would-be
deputy first minister.

An old comrade, admittedly one who no longer shares his
political outlook, claims that McGuinness was still active
in the Provisionals in the 1980s - an assertion which
directly contradicts the Sinn Fein MP's sworn

evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. There is also
speculation that McGuinness will be questioned by police
investigating the murder of a man in Newry in 1990.

Any phase of conflict resolution is always going to be
haunted by the past and Sinn Fein themselves have been
quick to demand full disclosures from other parties,
notably those who served in the RUC or the armed forces in
Northern Ireland. The Bloody Sunday Inquiry itself was born
of a desire to get to "the truth" about the state's role,
and has been attempting to fulfil its remit at huge expense
to British taxpayers.

In general, the Government seems to be at a loss as to how
to deal with our recent history in any coherent and
consistent manner. On the one hand, ministers

suggest that "a line should be drawn" allowing us to focus
on a better future, while on the other they are committing
vast sums of money to investigating individual incidents.

One can only presume that Sinn Fein's conversion to law and
order will not be retrospective and Martin McGuinness will
probably never reveal the full extent of his involvement
with the IRA. In the absence of a full account of his
activities, there will almost certainly be more deeply
uncomfortable moments ahead and particularly if and when
he takes office at Stormont.

15 February 2007


Hain Hits Out Over Ulster's Slave Past

[Published: Thursday 15, February 2007 - 09:50]
By Sean O'Driscoll

Northern Ireland traders made huge profits from slavery
before Ireland eventually closed its ports to "one of the
most shameful enterprises in the history of humankind",
Secretary of State Peter Hain has told an audience in New

Mr Hain was speaking at a reception at New York's British
consulate to honour the late African-American singer and
human rights activist, Paul Robeson, who had a long
association with Mr Hain's native Wales.

Mr Hain said that he was proud to learn that Ireland closed
its ports to the slave trade and noted that when Britain
banned the trade, it gave compensation for the lost
earnings of slavers without compensating the slaves.

He said that because Britain and Ireland profited from the
slave trade, they needed to speak out against modern day
bonded labour and human trafficking.

The UN body, the International Labour Organisation,
estimates that 27m people are still held as slaves, a
figure which would rise to 100m if human trafficking was
included, he added.

Mr Hain said he was proud to commemorate the life of Paul
Robeson, who had campaigned for striking Welsh miners in
the 30s and who was banned by the US government from
travelling to Wales in 1957 because of his communist

The Secretary of State - a former anti-apartheid activist -
drew laughter from the audience when he mistakenly said
that Nelson Mandela had been jailed for 10,000 days in
Northern Ireland.

He corrected his mistake, before adding: "I got that wrong,
didn't I? I should, of course, have said South Africa."

Mr Robeson's son, Paul Robeson Jnr, told the reception that
he did not want compensation from countries once involved
in the slave trade.

"You can not pay us for that," he said.

Instead of apologies, it would be far better if countries
signed the UN Declaration of Human Rights, he said.

c Belfast Telegraph


Hain In Row Over North Slavery Apology

Thu, Feb 15, 2007

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has been caught up in
a political storm today over an apology he made in the
United States about the slave trade.

He appeared to apologise in a BBC Wales television
interview for Northern Ireland and Wales's role in the
slave trade.

Mr Hain, who addressed an event on slavery, said: "I'm here
on behalf of both Northern Ireland and Wales to say we have
had a part to play in the slave trade.

"We acknowledge that. We take responsibility for it and we
now are going to try and at least say that historical
legacy must be recognised and we are sorry for it," Mr Hain

The Northern Ireland Secretary's comments puzzled
historians in the North, who insisted that there was no
sympathy for slavery in Belfast.

Democratic Unionist MP Sammy Wilson said: "I think a lot of
people would love Peter Hain to apologise for the things he
has done while he has been in charge of the Northern
Ireland Office rather than for him to delve into the past
and apologise for things we had no responsibility nor
sympathy for," he said.

"If you look at slavery, Belfast and the people of Belfast
were at the cutting edge of enlightened attitudes, and
there was no association between Northern Ireland and the
slave trade."

The Northern Ireland Office insisted Mr Hain had praised
Belfast's stance against slavery in the speech he made in
New York to the event organised by the Welsh Office.

c 2007

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