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February 05, 2007

Injuries Get Worse With New Plastic Bullets

News about Ireland & the Irish

IN 02/05/07 Injuries Get Worse With New Plastic Bullets
BB 02/05/07 Restorative Justice Rules Set Out
BT 02/05/07 A Right Royal Row Averted
IT 02/05/07 Duke On Trade Mission To Dublin
CS 02/04/07 N Ireland: Model For Rebuilding Trust In Police
SL 02/04/07 A Law Unto Themselves
BT 02/05/07 DUP MLAs Facing Fines Under Party Contracts
UU 02/05/07 Blog: Carson Demands Clarity From DUP
TW 02/05/07 Blog Opin: How The RUC Saved Republican Lives
IN 02/05/07 Opin: Proposed Protocol Totally Misses Point
AO 02/05/07 IAUC Presents: From Long Kesh To GFA
IT 02/05/07 'Sense Of Fear' During Haughey Era
TH 02/05/07 The Archive: The Shergar Mystery Endures
BB 02/05/07 A Long Way From Dublin's Bloody Past
BN 02/05/07 Campaigners Call For End To Live Hare Coursing
RT 02/05/07 Teaching Of Irish Set For Overhaul


Injuries Get Worse With New 'Bullets'

By Sarah Hilley

So-called safer plastic bullets, first fired in 2005, have
caused more harm than those used previously, according to
research on people struck by them in Northern Ireland.

A study by doctors from emergency departments has found
that the new attenuated energy projectile (AEP), which
should not be aimed above the waist, left one third of
patients with injuries to the head and neck and 17 per cent
to the chest.

The 14 deaths from rubber or plastic bullets in the north
have all resulted from head or chest trauma.

Research showed the former bullet, the L21A1, did not cause
any face, head or neck injuries.

However, that was removed because of the theoretical risk
of serious head damage.

"The AEP was designed to be more accurate, safer and reduce
the injury potential compared with the L21A1, and
especially to reduce the clinical consequences of an injury
to the head," according to the research paper published in
Emergency Medicine Journal.

"However, in this first survey of its usage, 50 per cent of
the injuries presenting to hospital were to the face, neck,
head or chest. This injury pattern was more in keeping with
older plastic baton rounds than with the L21A1," the study

In response to the study, Clara Reilly of Relatives for
Justice and the United Campaign against Plastic Bullets,
said she wanted answers from the Policing Board, which has
responsibility for buying the bullets.

"Hundreds of the new plastic bullets, introduced in 2004,
were used in the riots of autumn 2005 and now we learn that
when they hit people they were hit in the chest and head,"
she said.

"These revelations have shocked the families of those
killed by plastic bullets to the core."

Doctors who conducted the study collected details of
patients with AEP bullet wounds who attended four emergency

The medics found that half had to be admitted to hospital.
One patient was admitted to intensive care.

Fourteen patients injured by plastic bullets during three
Belfast riots from July to September 2005 were examined.

"It is clear that the AEP requires ongoing evaluation, and
it is too early to conclude that it provides a safer
alternative to the L21A1," the report authors said.


Restorative Justice Rules Set Out

New guidlelines on how community-based restorative justice
schemes must operate if they are to qualify for funding
have been published.

The protocols were published by Criminal Justice Minister
David Hanson.

Groups must deal only with low level offences referred to
them by the Public Prosecution Service if they are to be
eligible for government funding.

They must also provide the police with any information they
require to investigate a reported offence.

Restorative justice schemes are highly controversial
because former republican and loyalist paramilitaries are
involved in some of them.

The schemes will be scrutinised by Criminal Justice
Inspector Kit Chivers.

Those who run the schemes have until April to seek formal
accreditation, and they will then be able to apply for
funding from the government.

The schemes based in loyalist areas are expected to sign

However, Community Restorative Justice Ireland, which
operates 15 schemes in nationalist areas, has to date
rejected any formal role for the police and prosecution

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/05 12:07:17 GMT


A Right Royal Row Averted

[Published: Monday 5, February 2007 - 09:00]
By Ashleigh Wallace

A potential controversy involving Croke Park and a Six
Nations rugby match has been averted after it was confirmed
members of the Royal family will not be visiting the GAA
headquarters to watch England in action - yet.

The England rugby team is due to take on Ireland later this
month in a clash being played at the GAA's Dublin home.

However, the prospect of a diplomatic row involving Prince
William and Prince Harry - who are both fans of the England
rugby team and follow them all over the world - threatened
to overshadow the match until Buckingham Palace announced
neither would be attending the game in Dublin.

The presence of the princes at Croke Park would have proved
to be highly controversial given the fraught historical
relationship the Irish stadium has with Britain.

It was in Croke Park on November 21, 1920, that members of
the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, better known as
the Black and Tans, opened fire on the crowd at a Gaelic
football match between Dublin and Tipperary, killing 14
people including one footballer.

These shootings, on the day which became known as Bloody
Sunday, were a reprisal for the assassination of British
intelligence officers, known as the Cairo Gang, by Michael
Collins' squad earlier that day.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace told the Sunday Tribune
that while Prince Harry would "very much like" to attend
the rugby clash, he would be unable to do so due to
"military commitments".

The spokesman also confirmed Prince William would not be

The problem may rear its head again, however, if Lansdowne
Road is not ready in time for the 2009 Six Nations
tournament when the princes may wish to watch England take
on Ireland in Dublin then.

"Both William and Harry are keen rugby fans and would
certainly very much like to attend a game in Dublin at some
point in future, depending on their military and other
commitments", the Buckingham Palace spokeswoman added.

Meanwhile, Tyrone overpowered Dublin at Croke Park on
Saturday night to win the first clash at the grounds played
under floodlights.

The historic night-time fixture saw the giants of Ulster
Gaelic football score 11 points against Dublin's 10 points.

Tyrone had been trailing by five points at half-time but
thrilled a crowd of 81,678 people - the biggest ever for a
league tie - to pull back and claim victory.

c Belfast Telegraph


Duke On Trade Mission To Dublin

Mon, Feb 05, 2007

Britain's Prince Andrew is due to visit Ireland today as
part of a trade mission to promote business between the two

Trade between the UK and Ireland is worth around ?33
billion annually.

The Duke of York, who is Special Representative for
International Trade and Investment, will meet President
Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern during his one-day

He will also visit the site of the new ?70 million Tesco
supermarket in Malahide. The store is due to open in April,
bringing 600 jobs to the area. He will then meet
representatives of Airtricity, which is a joint partner
with British firm Fluor in a joint project, the Greater
Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm.

The Duke is scheduled to hold talks with the Governor of
the Central Bank, John Hurley, and later attend a dinner
hosted by British Ambassador to Ireland, David Reddaway.

He was appointed to the international trade and investment
role in October 2001 and undertakes around 250 trade and
investment-related engagements a year.

c 2007


Christian Science Monitor: Northern Ireland A Model For
Rebuilding Trust In Police

Christian Science Monitor

(SH) - A stunning vote of support for Northern Ireland's
much-revamped police by the faction that once fiercely
attacked it shows it's possible to revive public confidence
in local badge-wearers amid conflict - if police reforms
are properly carried out. Some lessons are worth teasing
out from this turnaround.

On Jan. 28, the Irish Republican Army's political wing,
Sinn Fein, threw its support behind the Police Service of
Northern Ireland, the successor to the Royal Ulster
Constabulary. For decades, the RUC was the IRA's nemesis.

This welcomed about-face is expected to help pave the way
for a power-sharing government between rival Catholics and
Protestants in Northern Ireland. It should also encourage
police reformers from Congo to East Timor, though one
doesn't need to look overseas to understand how a clean and
evenhanded police force is vital to society.

Just consider a megacity such as Los Angeles. More than 40
years after the Watts riots, the city is still struggling
with a mistrust of police in poor, minority, high-crime
neighborhoods. Last summer, a city task force set up to
give an accounting of a seven-year-old police scandal
warned of future crises if the police department, among
other things, fails to drop "warrior policing."

Policing is government's protective presence. It should
keep crime in check and ensure safety for all citizens, no
matter their religious or political beliefs, their
ethnicity or race. Such safety allows civic and economic
life to take root and grow.

When police themselves become criminals, or when they
literally war against the people - as in Iraq - political,
social, and economic growth don't stand a chance.

Even during the worst of its decades of the "Troubles," now
peaceful Northern Ireland was no Iraq. And indeed, there's
no police-reform "template" that can be slapped on any
strife-torn region.

After the ethnic breakup of the former Yugoslavia, for
instance, the international community started a police
force from scratch in Kosovo (its local Serb force fled to
Serbia). In Bosnia, it had the more challenging job of
changing the existing force.

Yet certain principles have helped move Northern Ireland's
police to the point of political acceptance - principles
which are worth considering elsewhere.

For instance, the current police force, which was
established in 2001, aims for balance in its mix of
officers. About 20 percent of the formerly Protestant force
is now Catholic, a percentage that should increase with
Sinn Fein's new support.

The reforms also emphasized community policing. And they
stripped nonpolice functions, such as intelligence, from
the force. A broadly based policing board now provides for
oversight and accountability.

Just days before Sinn Fein voted, a police ombudsman
released a damaging report that reinforced the party's
criticisms of the former force. On the other hand, the fact
that an honest ombudsman even exists should encourage Sinn
Fein and its supporters.

Such steps as force diversity, restructuring, and oversight
are starting to work in Northern Ireland, and they can work
elsewhere. Patience must go hand in hand with reform.

Posted on 02/04/07 21:35:00


A Law Unto Themselves

Dissidents still being asked to dish out 'justice' in some
nationalist areas despite Sinn Fein's backing for cops

Sunday, February 04, 2007
By Stephen Breen

Victims of crime in nationalist strongholds across Ulster
are still seeking help from renegade republican groups.

Although Sinn Fein has urged its community to work with the
police, many people are still going to the Continuity IRA,
Real IRA and INLA for action.

A senior republican source told us a "large number" of
nationalist residents do not endorse the police and still
believe in paramilitary-style 'justice'.

The INLA was blamed for a spate of punishment beatings in
Ardoyne last year, while the CIRA was also responsible for
the shotgun attack in which teenager Conor Weldon lost his

Said the source: "Everybody knew this was a done deal
before last Sunday and that's why people were still going
to the other groupings.

"They have been getting calls from people who have no faith
in the police or in Community Restorative Justice schemes,
and they want to see action.

"Some who have been contacting the other groups are
pensioners who have been robbed and don't have any faith in
the police to get their belongings back.

"The rival factions don't care about stepping on the toes
of the Provos because there's nothing they can do.

"The dissident groups are determined to stamp their
authority on local communities and they know there will
always be people who will never support the police."

The source also said that dissidents are vowing to target
police officers who are called into republican heartlands
to investigate crime.

Added the source: "These groups have been flexing their
muscles in recent weeks and have been involved in a few
nasty rows with former IRA men.

"They have been boasting that they have the manpower and
the weapons to strike at the security forces.

"The dissident groups might not have the weapons for a
sustained campaign but it just takes one headcase to start
shooting at the police.

"There have been sporadic attacks against the police in
recent years, but what have these people actually done
since the Omagh atrocity?

"They probably don't want the police coming into their
areas because this may disrupt their criminal activities,
which they are afraid of losing hold of."


DUP MLAs Facing Fines Under Party Contracts

[Published: Monday 5, February 2007 - 11:21]
By Noel McAdam

DUP candidates in the Assembly election will be required to
sign personal contracts which could include fines, it was
confirmed today.

DUP officers are meeting this week to finalise the
contracts, which have been party policy since 1998 and may
now include cash penalties.

A senior party source said the fines could come into play
if an MLA failed to turn up at a crucial Assembly vote.

"If there was a three line whip on, for example, and the
individual had failed to weigh in," the source said. "The
terms and conditions have yet to be drawn up but anyone can
read it and decide 'that's not for me'.

"Like any contract it confers certain duties [on a
candidate] and also sets out duties of the party towards
the person."

Ulster Unionists, however, attacked the contracts. As the
election battle lumbered towards its opening stages, a UUP
statement said: "This is outrageous, reeks of a paranoia
and shows a party deeply unease with itself.

"It runs contrary to basic principles of democracy."

It came after DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson launched his
own broadside against Sir Reg Empey's party, arguing his
party had "transformed" the political situation.

"The DUP was left to claw back the losses sustained through
years of UUP incompetence," he said. "After years of [Lord]
Trimble and Empey following a republican agenda."

c Belfast Telegraph


Blog: Carson Demands Clarity From DUP

Posted By Angus Carson On 5th February 2007 @ 09:09 In
Standing Up for Northern Ireland Comments Disabled

Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate for Strangford, Angus
Carson, has demanded clarity from his DUP opponents on what
is meant by testing Sinn Fein's commitment to supporting
the police over a "credible period of time".Mr Carson, an
Ards Councillor, said:

"The DUP says that it will not enter into government with
Sinn Fein until it has tested Sinn Fein's commitment to
supporting the rule of law over what it terms a "credible"
period of time.

On the one hand there are very senior DUP figures saying
that 'credible period of time' means Sinn Fein won't be
admitted to government for what they term a "political
generation" whilst on the other hand the DUP has indicated
a willingness to enter into coalition government with Sinn
Fein after the March election.

The electorate demands the DUP spell out exactly what it
means by 'credible period of time'. Does it mean it will be
years before the DUP 'gets into bed' with Sinn Fein, in
which case the government will have abandoned its whole
devolution idea and moved to its plan B, will or does it
mean the DUP is going to 'get under the duvet' as soon as
the election is over - in which case the DUP's 'credible
period of time' will have amounted to about three weeks.

At the moment the DUP is playing the game of 'wait and see'
on the issue of when it will enter government with Sinn
Fein - something which the electorate will remember not so
long ago the DUP said in an election manifesto was "out of
the question".

The DUP must do the decent thing and tell the electorate
what it means before the people vote. The DUP's present
stance of 'We'll tell you what we're going to do after
you've voted" is not only unacceptable but is an insult to
the voter. The Strangford electorate demands that Iris
Robinson and company tell us what they mean"

Article printed from


Blog Opin: How The RUC Saved Republican Lives

Monday, February 5, 2007 at 09:16AM
David Vance in Northern Ireland

Over the past few weeks, ATW has comprehensively covered
the serious but unsubstantiated allegations made in a
report issued by Northern Ireland Police Ombudsmwoman Nuala
O'Loan concerning Royal Ulster Constabulary "collusion"
into the murders of a number of people in North Belfast.
These allegations were subsequently used by the Sinn
Fein/IRA propaganda machine to smear the entire RUC - and
this has been swallowed pretty much in whole by the lapdog
media. But here's the thing. Many senior figures in the IRA
that seek to besmirch the reputation of the RUC would not
now be alive but for the actions of..the RUC! Say again?

Writing in the Irish Independent, Ellis O'Hanlon

On the evening of Saturday, May 21, 1994, over 50 members
of Sinn Fein - along with members of the Dublin IRA - were
enjoying a night of drinking and music in the upstairs
function room of the Widow Scallan's pub in Pearse Street.
Downstairs, the public bar was packed, with dozens of local
men watching soccer on the television.

Around mid-evening, two men appeared at the side-stairs
door to the function room. They shot dead the doorman, IRA
member Martin Doherty, and planted a hold-all inside the
hallway. It was a bomb - or so the two Ulster Volunteer
Force members who planted it there thought it was. It
should have contained around 20lbs ofthe commercial
explosive, Powergel. But the bomb did not explode. Why?

Fast forward a few months later, as the Belfast Enterprise
train pulled into Connolly Station on the afternoon of
September 12, an explosion occured in a packed carriage. No
one was killed or injured but the inside of the carriage
was covered in a strange grey, putty-like substance. It was
putty, two kilos of it. Who would make a bomb of putty?
Unwittingly it was the UVF.

In the background, British Army ordnance officers were
almost certainly involved. It was they who had been brought
a large cache of real Powergel explosive by RUC Special
Branch officers and asked to take out the explosive and
replace it with something that looked and even smelled like
explosive but was harmless. This action saved countless

It goes unacknowledged by Torquemador O'Loan. The
historical reality is that the UVF - recently deceased PUP
Leader David Ervine's paramilitary gang of choice - had
returned to carrying out explosions during these years.

It carried out attacks on Sinn Fein offices,including one
in Monaghan in which, strangely enough, the bomb failed to

The aftermath of the IRA's bombing of Frizzell's fish shop
was one of the worst in the entire Troubles with over 30
people murdered in a month, including eight people shot
dead by loyalists in the Rising Sun Bar in Greysteel, Co
Derry. The UVF planned to strike at the heart of the
Republic's tourist industry by either blowing up or
shooting up a coach load of American tourists. Oddly
enough, NONE of those plots ever happened.

Remarkably, almost none of this context was included in any
of the commentary arising from the O'Loan report in the
media. As Ms O'Hanlon concludes..

The other aspect of the O'Loan report fallout is that it
has played into Sinn Fein's prolonged campaign to reduce
the role and function of the RUC to that of a collusionist
conspiracy. For years it has been mounting various
campaigns citing 'collusion' - from the murder of solicitor
Pat Finucane back to the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
It is part of Sinn Fein's strenuous efforts to rewrite the
history of the Troubles in which its military wing played
the most murderous role..

That, of course, was the entire point behind the O'Loan
report - as I said on-air on the BBC its function was NOT
to obtain justice but rather a calculated and timed effort
to blacken the reputation the RUC.

Article originally appeared on A TANGLED WEB


Opin: Proposed Protocol Totally Misses The Point

By Breidge Gadd

These last seven days are probably as momentous as you
would ever get in the history of one small country's
approach to policing, justice and law and order.

Who could ever have predicted that the week would start
with the launch of Nuala O'Loan's report on collusion and
end with an overwhelming vote of support from republicans
for Sinn Fein's support for the PSNI in Northern Ireland.

Last week also saw the launch of two other significant
reports about crime. One was a Northern Ireland Select
Committee report on the draft protocol for Community
Restorative Justice. The other was an Atlantic
Philanthropy-commissioned evaluation of Community
Restorative Justice schemes, undertaken by Professor Harry
Mica (Central Michigan University and the Queen's
University Belfast)

These two reports, with the backcloth of the republican
acceptance for the first time ever of a police service in
Northern Ireland, in many ways are the last pieces needed
to put the finishing touches to a jigsaw.

Question is, will they all slot neatly into place, creating
exciting possibilities for our future management of crime,
or are some of the pieces still mismatched and likely to
cause ongoing friction?

Well, we should know by now that nothing is that simple
here. The select committee's report is a fair summing up of
the present position of all the relevant parties to the
debate (with the noticeable exception for whatever reason
of any input from Northern Ireland Victims Support

Its recommendation on protocols understandably is heavy
with responsibility for protecting the interests and power
base of the agencies of the state.

Harry Mica's evaluation, on the other hand, undertaken over
several years of study visits and observations, is again
understandably less politically motivated and more focussed
on what might work in the reduction of crime at local
community level.

And that, it is worth reminding ourselves, is what
community restorative justice is all about. The very raison
d'etre for restorative schemes wherever they have been
started in the world is to bring the community back into
taking responsibility for their own problems of crime.

Why? Because we have learnt to our cost that the
professionalising and distancing of local crime problems
with highly centralised and systemised police, prosecuting
and defence services, courts etc, is experienced by
victims, by communities and even by offenders as a state
take over.

Most importantly of all, the present operation of bringing
offenders to justice results in victims feeling excluded
from the process.

Community restorative justice, with its local community
base, its capacity for quick response and immediate
involvement of all relevant parties, restores to the
community most affected by the crime the power to deal with
it and enables the victim and the community, if relevant,
to have a say in defining the action that the offender must
take to make retribution for the harm he/she has done.

Mica's report is unequivocal in its evaluation that the
existence of community restorative schemes in both loyalist
and republican areas over the past 10 years has probably
prevented in the region of 500 punishment attacks on young

His view is that these schemes have enormous and exciting
potential - particularly so with republicans supporting
policing and PBNI.

In fact we now have a situation where all players are in
agreement about the way forward, accreditation, formalised
training, proper staffing, independent complaints and
inspection et al.

Unfortunately though there is still one major area of
disagreement that in my view could strangle community-based
schemes. This is the issue of referrals.

The proposed protocol is simply a bureaucratic nightmare
with the recommendation that all cases must be referred
into the formal system and then out again. This process not
only is so slow that the potential for holding offenders
quickly to account will be totally lost, it also completely
misses the point that community restorative justice is
essentially about power sharing and responsibility sharing
with the community.

The current gap in agreement is not really about how to
progress successful restorative justice schemes. It is
about who is in control, about who holds the power. And one
thing we have learnt well in this country in myriad
community development schemes is that schemes which don't
involve the community in the decisions taken about them
simply don't work.

Now that republicans have resolved to support the PSNI,
there is nothing to stop all involved getting round a table
and agreeing protocols that involve both state and
community-based organisations in the decision-taking

Such power-sharing has happened in other aspects of life
here and we - community, state and individuals - are the
better for it.


IAUC Presents: From Long Kesh To The Good Friday Agreement

Sunday, February 25

Irish American Unity Conference will present Terry Kirby &
Bobby Lavery, "From Long Kesh to the Good Friday Agreement
- Reflections by Two former Irish Republican POW's" as they
speak about their experiences as prisoners in Long Kesh;
their transition into politics; and the Peace Process.
Event takes place at Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle, 3:30 pm.
Email Sarah for more information or call her at
412.782.2715 or Jim Caldwell 412.580.3759. The kitchen will
be open for your dining pleasure.


'Sense Of Fear' During Haughey Era

Miriam Donohoe
Mon, Feb 05, 2007

There was an "atmosphere of fear" in Leinster House when
Charles Haughey was taoiseach, former Fianna F il minister
and Progressive Democrats founder, Des O'Malley, said

Referring to the 1979 Fianna F il leadership contest which
Mr Haughey won against George Colley by 44 votes to 38,
succeeding Jack Lynch, Mr O'Malley said "people like Jack
Lynch, George Colley and himself were naive in 1979".

"We didn't believe that Haughey was as strong as he was,
nor did we believe that he was as vicious as he was, nor
did we believe he would resort to some of the tactics that
he did, such as promising things galore.

"I recall shortly after he ascended to the Office of the
Taoiseach the office of Minister of State was doubled from
8 to 16 or 17. That was part of paying off debts and
promises and of course there were promises of other kinds
made as well," Mr O'Malley said.

"If we had known things were as they turned out to be we
would perhaps have been a bit tougher in our approach.

"It is hard to explain to younger people now just what it
was like. There was an atmosphere, a fear everywhere and
particularly within the Fianna F il party. It was a
perceptible atmosphere within Leinster House."

Speaking to Diarmuid Ferriter on the RT Radio 1 What If
programme, Mr O'Malley referred to the severe beating up of
a Fianna F il deputy in the D il in 1982 after a leadership
challenge against Mr Haughey failed.

The deputy (who we now know to be Jim Gibbons) was "beaten
in the front hall of Leinster house by four people and
kicked in the face and chest and knocked to the ground and
beaten again after he was taken out to his car in the car

"Nothing ever happened as a result of that and this
happened because he had voted for me in an election".

Asked if there might have not been a PD party if George
Colley had won the leadership contest in 1979 instead of Mr
Haughey, Mr O'Malley said "most unlikely".

But he said he didn't think Mr Colley would have lasted
long as taoiseach and spoke of how Mr Haughey had actively
worked against Jack Lynch and undermined him.

He said it is probably just as well he himself never became
taoiseach in 1982 as he would not have lasted long either
as "I would have been worked against actively".

"There were the new rules which came about after 1979.
Loyalty to a party was secondary and all of a sudden a
personality and the welfare of an individual were more

"We now know in hindsight too it wasn't just his [ Mr
Haughey's] political welfare that was at stake but he had a
very high living lifestyle that had to be supported. It is
easier to do that as Taoiseach."

Mr O'Malley said the question of a new party didn't arise
until 1984. "George Colley believed that the situation was
redeemable and only in 1983/1984 did we realise it wasn't".
Mr Colley died suddenly in 1984.

Mr O'Malley said Mr Colley's career was overshadowed by Mr
Haughey. He said the difficulties between the two men went
back to the 1960s when they were in the same constituency.

c 2007 The Irish Times


The Archive: The Shergar Mystery Endures

THERE is some corner of an Irish field that is forever
Shergar. Or so the theory goes. The 1981 Derby winner was
already a legend on the strength of his record 10-length
win at Epsom, but his kidnapping by an armed gang from
Ballymany Stud on February 8, 1983, made him the most
famous horse since Pegasus.

Shergar had a then record stud value of œ10m. A œ2m ransom
was predictably demanded, but little more about the
disappearance is clear fact. An investigation characterised
by Clouseau-style bungling discovered nothing. It was
concluded the Provisional IRA was responsible. This remains
the most credible theory.

IRA supergrass Sean O'Callaghan claimed Shergar was shot
after he injured himself in his box. It was otherwise
suggested the IRA stole Shergar on behalf of Colonel
Gadaffi in exchange for weapons; that it was revenge by a
disaffected rival owner. There was even a theory about the
New Orleans Mafia. They sparked several books and a film.

Shergar had served 35 mares in his first season at stud,
and was lined up for 55 in his second on the night that a
Ford Granada towing a horsebox pulled up out of the mist at

Men barged into the house of groom Jim Fitzgerald. One
carried a submachine gun. The family was held at gunpoint
as Shergar was driven off. So was Fitzgerald, in another
vehicle. He was thrown out three hours later, just seven
miles away.

He is reported to have contacted the stud manager.
Shergar's vet was then called and an associate who, in
turn, called the Republic's finance minister. Only eight
hours after the kidnapping was the Gardai told. A private
aircraft could have had him in the USA or Middle East by

At home, inquiries were hampered by the gang's astute
planning. It was the day of Ireland's biggest horse sales.
Horseboxes clogged every road and lane in the country.

Head of the investigation, Chief Superintendent Jim Murphy,
resorted to clairvoyants, psychics, and diviners. He told
reporters: "A clue . . . that's what we haven't got."

There was little detail for the hungry media, who promoted
the trilby-wearing Murphy to celebrity status, until six
photographers turned up at one press conference all wearing
identical trilbies.

The SAS was trying to negotiate with the gang who believed
they were dealing with the Aga Khan. At 1.15am, it was
thought the police had traced a call. Later, the media were
told: "The man who does the tracing goes off duty at

The horse had multiple owners. The Aga Khan had six shares,
but had syndicated 28 more at œ250,000 each. Four days
after the kidnap, all went silent. Later, one of the
syndicate, Sir Jake Astor, said: "We were going to
negotiate, but we were not going to pay."

They believed that if they did, prize bloodstock worldwide
would have become a target for kidnappers.

There was no insurance payout. The horse was covered
against death, not theft. A judge said it was not proved
that Shergar's removal was theft under criminal law.

9:42pm today
By Doug Gillon


A Long Way From Dublin's Bloody Past

Following the recent decision of Sinn Fein, the IRA's
political wing, to support the police in Northern Ireland
for the first time, Kevin Connolly reflects on the dark
days when Britain fought the IRA to keep Ireland within its

There is a cold hour just before dawn, when the light is
the colour of lead, when the past seems a little closer and
a lot more real than it does in the clearer light that
comes later in the day.

The familiar signs of modern life have yet to seep back
into the streets: the cars and buses, the tourists with
iPods and the busy pedestrians with places to be.

Dublin is still a city of graceful Georgian terraces and,
at this time of day, the scrubbed-pale stone staircases
that sweep up from the street to the imposing front doors
look just as they must have looked around this time in the
last century.

To complete the illusion, the only sign of movement on the
chilly landscape came from the frock-coated doorman of my
hotel who is dressed, as is the way of it in such places,
like a Hapsburg Dragoons officer.

I alone, heading for the Sinn Fein conference centre,
struck a jarringly contemporary note, swaddled against the
early morning cold in cheap, lumpy layers of fleece, like a
scarecrow whose run of financial good fortune has come to
an end.

There is a good chance I suppose that the morning of 21
November 1920 (the first "Bloody Sunday") dawned in the
same atmosphere of chilly damp - winter days in Dublin
often do.

Shocking brutality

On that day, IRA gunmen burst into a string of houses that
lay along my route to the conference centre and shot dead
14 British officers and intelligence officials.

The Ireland of those days was inured to brutality on all
sides but there was something about these killings that
shocked the Dublin public.

Maybe it was the curiously pathetic fact that most of the
victims were dragged from their beds and shot in their
pyjamas. More likely it was the story of how the pregnant
wife of one of the officers had thrown herself on top of
his wounded body in a vain attempt to save him.

She gave birth to a stillborn child a few days later.

It disclosed something of the underlying truth of guerrilla
warfare too. Some of the IRA gunmen were efficient and
ruthless, others were too nervous to hit their intended
targets with dozens of bullets fired inside a bedroom.

The killings were a shock to the British establishment too.

Some of the victims were given a state funeral back in
London at which both Lloyd George and Winston Churchill
followed the coffins.

They appear to have had less of an impact on some of the
British officers actually serving in Ireland.

General FP Crozier, having helped direct clearing-up
operations, went back to barracks, had a game of squash and
a bath, and then took himself off to lunch, apparently in
good spirits despite all the slaughter.

British reprisals

And of course, the slaughter was not done.

Britain had recruited two separate paramilitary forces in
an attempt to crush the Irish rebellion: the Black And Tans
and the Auxiliaries.

Their ostensible role was to support the officers of the
Royal Irish Constabulary, mainly Catholic Irishmen of whom
hundreds were to be murdered by the IRA.

The real role of Britain's irregular forces was to meet
murder with murder, or at least with violent reprisal.

A few hours after the British officials were killed, troops
and police officers opened fire on the crowd at a Gaelic
football match in Croke Park, on the Northside of Dublin.

A further 14 people, some of them children, were killed.

And the point of all this? Well, the part of Dublin in
which I found myself on that Sunday morning - which once
witnessed a terrifying step down the road to violence - was
witnessing an important step towards peace.

Sporting ties

And in the same way, Croke Park - once the scene of one of
the most disgraceful acts in this long and tortured story -
is itself about to provide another little reminder of how
hopeful are the times in which we live in Ireland now.

While the national home of Irish rugby is refurbished,
football and rugby - long derided by lovers of Gaelic sport
as English-imposed "garrison games" - are to be played at
Croke Park.

By chance, the English rugby team will be among the first
visitors, and the incongruous sound of God Save The Queen
will echo around a huge stadium which includes a terrace
originally built from the rubble of Dublin buildings
destroyed by British shelling in 1916.

If you happen to catch the game, there is a name to listen
out for in the commentary.

Not one of the players on the pitch, but a young man called
Michael Hogan, who was the Tipperary captain in the game
being played on 21 November 1920.

He was shot and killed on the field of play and one of the
stands at Croke Park still bears his name.

That name - like the names of the graceful streets through
which I walked to the Sinn Fein conference on my more
recent Sunday morning - are reminders of how Ireland, as
well as things between Ireland and Britain are turning out
in a way that no-one who was alive in November 1920 could
have dared to hope.

There was still a lot of suffering to go, of course, on
both sides when the events of that first Irish "Bloody
Sunday" were done and much of it reaches into our present
day but sometimes it is worth daring to reflect on how much
things have changed here, and changed for the better.

From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 3
February, 2007 at 1130 GMT on BBC Radio 4. Please check the
programme schedules for World Service transmission times.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/03 12:03:10 GMT


Campaigners Reiterate Call For End To Live Hare Coursing

05/02/2007 - 12:17:24

Anti-bloodsports campaigners are reiterating their call for
an end to live hare coursing in Ireland.

The call comes as thousands of spectators from Ireland and
abroad gather for the annual National Hare Coursing
Championships in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

The Campaign Against Cruel Sports says the practice of live
coursing is cruel and unnecessary given that it has
successfully been replaced by drag coursing with a
mechanical lure in countries like Australia.


Teaching Of Irish Set For Overhaul

Monday, 5 February 2007 12:38

A nationwide campaign was launched today aimed at
overhauling the way Irish is taught in schools.

The campaign is being organised by Conradh na Gaeilge and
is supported by the Union of Secondary Students and the
Union of Students in Ireland.

They are seeking all party support on the policy in the run
up to the next General Election.

The policy is comprised of three key
recommendations, which includes a call for all trainee
primary school teachers to be taught through Irish in an
all-Irish environment for one academic year.

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