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February 06, 2007

Mitchell: North Can Govern Themselves

News about Ireland & the Irish

BN 02/06/07 Mitchell: North Can 'Govern Themselves'
BT 02/06/07 INLA Threatens Supergrass If He Comes Back Home
UT 02/05/07 Victim's Father Meets Police Ombudsman
BT 02/06/07 UVF Man Rewarded With Contracts, Claims Dad
BT 02/06/07 Victim’s Family Outraged At O'Loan Disclosures
NL 02/06/07 Stakeknife Tape Emerges After News Letter Probe
AN 02/06/07 Let The Election Battle Commence
BB 02/05/07 Resign Letter For DUP Candidates
NL 02/06/07 DUP Denies £20k Fine To Stop Dissension
BB 02/06/07 End Of ERA As Politicians Bow Out
BT 02/06/07 UUP MP To Miss Assembly Poll
UT 02/06/07 Republican Sinn Fein To Contest NI Election
BN 02/05/07 British Poultry Banned From Irish Fairs
IT 02/06/07 MRSA Endemic In Irish Hospitals, Inquest Told
IT 02/06/07 Hiker's Death Caused By Fall, Inquest Finds
BT 02/06/07 Plan To Bury Soldiers Alive Inside Gibraltar
GA 02/05/07 History Of Croke Park


North Can 'Govern Themselves': George Mitchell

06/02/2007 - 06:33:20

The North's political leaders could hold their own among
parliamentarians anywhere else in the world, former US
senator George Mitchell said today.

As the parties headed towards a March 7 Assembly election,
the former Stormont talks chairman said the power-sharing
ministers who operated during the last period of devolution
did a good job.

"In the short time that they did have authority and engage
in self government, I think it's universally recognised
that they did a good job," he said.

"They are certainly the equal of elected officials anywhere
I've been and I've dealt with parliamentarians here, in the
US and around the world.

"I'd put the political leaders of Northern Ireland up
against anyone. So they can govern themselves."

Mr Mitchell chaired the multi-party talks which led to the
1998 Good Friday Agreement.

He also played a key role in subsequent negotiations which
led to the formation of the power sharing government at
Stormont one year later with David Trimble as First
Minister and Seamus Mallon as Deputy First Minister.

The Executive which featured Ulster Unionist, nationalist
SDLP, Democratic Unionist and Sinn F‚in ministers was
suspended four times between 1999 and 2002.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair hope that Sinn F‚in's endorsement of policing in the
North will persuade the DUP to form a new power sharing
government on March 26 following the March 7 election.

Mr Mitchell told the Parliamentary Monitor that people had
to be patient with the parties but that significant
progress had occurred in the North.

"It's a continuing process, slowly and with great
difficulty to gain full implementation of the agreement and
to return stable self government to Northern Ireland," he

"I think all of us have to be patient as they work their
way through it."

Mr Mitchell added: "I don't for a moment suggest that all
problems are fully resolved and there are no longer any
issues - clearly there are.

"But gosh, it's such a vibrant economy now, such a
different place, where people can lead normal, safe and
secure lives.

"I think a great deal of progress has been made and I don't
think we should succumb to the tendency to let the perfect
be the enemy of the good."


Supergrass Faces Threat From INLA If He Comes Back Home
After A 25 Year Exile

[Published: Tuesday 6, February 2007 - 08:57]
By Clare Weir

Supergrass Raymond Gilmour was last night warned he will be
targeted by republican paramilitaries if he tries to set
foot back in Londonderry.

Willie Gallagher, of the Irish Republican Socialist Party,
which is linked to the INLA, said he does not believe the
INLA "would take too kindly" to any attempt by the exiled
informer to come back to Derry.

He also believes that the Real IRA and Continuity IRA would
target him.

Mr Gallagher was speaking after it emerged that Gilmour was
seeking assurances from Sinn Fein that he would be safe to
return to the city he fled 25 years ago.

While saying he believed Gilmour's demand was a test for
Sinn Fein, Mr Gallagher said he believed the informer would
not find dissident republican groups in a forgiving mood.

Graffiti has also appeared in the Bogside declaring:
"Gilmore you dare come back!"

The informer was a member of the INLA and the IRA and his
evidence brought 35 people to trial in the early 1980s.

The cases collapsed when the then Lord Chief Justice
dismissed his evidence as being "unworthy of belief".

Mr Gallagher said yesterday he was suspicious of the
motives and timing behind Gilmour's statement.

"I don't think this is serious, I think he has been put up
to this by his handlers as a test of Sinn Fein," said the
IRSP leader.

"If he comes back he will be under threat from
organisations like the INLA, Continuity IRA and Real IRA.
It is thought by many that he is responsible for the deaths
of other republicans because of information and
intelligence that he gave.

"I cannot speak for them each individually, but I don't
think the INLA would take too kindly to him coming back and
I wouldn't be surprised if they took some sort of action
against him."

Raymond Gilmour has asked Sinn Fein leaders to promise he
would be safe if he returned to Derry, where he still has

"I would like Martin McGuinness's assurances, and Gerry
Adams's, and whoever else is in charge of Sinn Fein," he

"Maybe not to live there, but maybe to come over for a wee
holiday, or something like that.

"The only regrets I have are leaving all of my family
behind me."

Mr McGuinness said Mr Gilmour must decide for himself
whether or not it was safe to return to Derry and that he
was not under threat from Sinn Fein, nor - he believes -
from the IRA.

He said if exiles such as Gilmour wanted to return home, it
was a matter for their own judgment and their ability to
make peace with the community.

However, informers have seldom found forgiveness among the
republican community.

Self-confessed informer and IRA man Denis Donaldson was
gunned down in his remote Donegal hideaway home last April.

c Belfast Telegraph


Loyalist Victim's Father Meets Police Ombudsman Officials

The father of a teenager murdered by loyalists outside
Tandragee, County Armagh, seven years ago, has met Police
Ombudsman officials to question them about reports that
they have linked Belfast Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) man
Mark Haddock to the killings.

Paul McIlwaine also claimed that - in a striking similarity
to the treatment of Haddock - another informant involved in
the murders has been protected by Special Branch.

Mr McIlwaine spent nearly two hours with Police Ombudsman
investigators in Belfast this morning discussing the
killing of his 18-year-old son David and another youth
Andrew Robb who was 19.

Mr McIlwaine was accompanied by SDLP councillor Dolores
Kelly and representatives of Relatives for Justice and the
British Irish rights watch.

The two teenagers who were both from Portadown were
brutally murdered outside Tandragee in February
2000...innocent victims killed against the background of a
bloody feud between loyalists.

At today`s meeting Mr McIlwaine probed the Police
Ombudsman`s officials about claims that Belfast UVF
informer Mark Haddock was linked to the killings, and that
Special Branch also protected another loyalist informant
working for them in the Mid-Ulster area.

Two weeks ago, Nuala O`Loan`s report into the UVF murder of
Raymond Mcord junior said Haddock had been linked to 10
murders. She also said there was less reliable information
to link him to five other killings but she did not name the

It is understood however that the McIlwaine and Robb
murders are among those five.

As for the family of Andrew Robb, his mother Anne is to
have her own meeting at the Ombudsman`s office in nine days


UVF Man Rewarded With Contracts, Claims Dad

[Published: Tuesday 6, February 2007 - 08:53]
By Chris Thornton

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan may be asked to follow up her
collusion report by investigating a UVF boss who was
allegedly given highly paid contracts with the police and

The father of a teenager butchered by the paramilitary
chief's gang is considering a second complaint - one that
would focus in on lucrative work that may have been done by
the terror leader for the security forces.

Mrs O'Loan's investigators are already looking into the Co
Armagh UVF man's connection to the murders David McIlwaine
and Andrew Robb in 2000.

David's father, Paul, met Ombudsman representatives
yesterday to discuss possible links between the UVF murders
and last month's report on the activities of informer Mark

Haddock was paid at least œ80,000 while working as a police
agent and allegedly carrying out a murder spree.

Mr McIlwaine believes the UVF leader linked to the murder
of his son and Andrew Robb was rewarded by being given
lucrative contracts.

The Ombudsman's collusion report mentions the stabbing
deaths of the two Portadown teenagers among five murders
that were linked to Haddock.

Mrs O'Loan indicated that some intelligence connected
Haddock to those killings, but it was not rated as highly
as the intelligence linking him to 10 other named murders.

Mr McIlwaine has already lodged a complaint with the
Ombudsman about long delays in using forensic evidence in
the murder of his son and Andrew Robb.

He believes police have protected the loyalist leader, who
cannot be named for legal reasons, because he was an agent
for the security forces.

Mr McIlwaine said the Ombudsman's office has not confirmed
details but he believes investigators have established that
that man was an agent.

There are different accounts about whether the UVF boss was
present when the teenagers were killed on a remote road
outside Tandragee, but he is believed to have helped the
killers dispose of evidence.

He has never been charged in connection with the killings.
Two men are currently awaiting trial for the murders.

Mr McIlwaine said his meeting with the Ombudsman's
investigators was " productive".

He was accompanied by representatives of the group
Relatives for Justice and British-Irish Rights Watch as
well as SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly.

Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said: "On the
morning that the Ombudsman's report was published, Peter
Hain said this related to a few bad apples.

"By mid-afternoon that day he conceded that it could be
replicated across the North.

"In that context, the family are still focussed on a UVF
commander in Mid Ulster who had clear relations with the
police, carried a legally held firearm and carried out
contract work with the MoD."

c Belfast Telegraph


Family Of Murder Victim Outraged At O'Loan Disclosures

[Published: Tuesday 6, February 2007 - 08:54]
By Chris Thornton

A revelation from the Police Ombudsman's collusion report
has angered the family of a woman who was originally
alleged to have been Mark Haddock's first victim.

The brother of Sharon McKenna, who was shot by the UVF in
1993, believed she was the first person to die in Haddock's
reign of terror - meaning police may not have been able to
prevent the killing.

But Nuala O'Loan's report revealed that the informer was
already suspected of the murder of Newtownabbey man Peter
McTasney two years earlier.

Paul McKenna said on several occasions - including the day
Mrs O'Loan's report was launched last month - that it may
not have been possible to save his sister.

But he said police should have acted afterwards to prevent
other families from suffering at the hands of the paid
police agent.

Mrs O'Loan's report revealed that he and his mother may now
be among those families whose loved one could have been

"This all changes now," said Mr McKenna, who was 19 when
his sister was killed. "The report says police had
intelligence that was reliable and probably true that he
was involved in murder before my sister's.

"If he had involvement in that he should have been

Sharon McKenna was shot in January 1993 as she cooked
dinner for a Protestant friend.

Mark Haddock is alleged to have told RUC handlers that he
was involved in the killing, but his role was said to have
been ignored so he could continue to be used as a UVF

According to ex-police sources, this was the first time the
informer had been involved in murder.

But Mrs O'Loan's investigators found intelligence that
showed police believed he played a role in the killing of
Mr McTasney (26) in his Bawnmore home in February 1991.

Haddock was questioned about the murder in September 1991,
with his police handlers conducting the main interviews.

He was not mentioned in files subsequently passed to the
Director of Public Prosecutions.

Paul McKenna said: "At first when I read the report the
penny didn't drop.

"I went straight to my sister's part and read that.

"It was only later when I went through the whole report,
trying to take stock that I realised if he had involvement
in that murder, it was before my sister's."

He said he was angered but not suprised to find that
Haddock may have been involved in murder before his
sister's death.

"It did not surprise me after all I heard over the last
couple of years, " he said. "It didn't take the floor out
from under my feet but there is anger there.

"Why did they let this go on? It's just incredible.

"I also had no idea that there were so many CID or Special
Branch officers involved in this. Could that many people
turn a blind eye and let Haddock and the rest of the team
continue to operate?"

He said he hopes other families like the McTasneys will now
get involved in a push for a public inquiry - even though
Secretary of State Peter Hain says that won't happen.

"The thing is, I knew Peter McTasney - I remember where I
was the night he was killed and all," Mr McKenna said.

"I had no idea that his murder was linked to any of this.
It was only when the families had their meeting with the
Ombudsman that I recognised one of his sisters there."

c Belfast Telegraph


Stakeknife Tape Emerges After News Letter Probe

THE Police Ombudsman is to be asked to investigate why it
took so long to confront the man accused of being the IRA
killer Stakeknife, in light of claims that taped evidence
relating to the case was handed to officers almost three
years ago.

Victims spokesman Willie Frazer said he handed a cassette
to the PSNI in March 2004, which he alleges is a recording
of the former head of the IRA's "nutting squad" talking
about the number of murders he was involved in as well as
his work as an Army agent.

Mr Frazer said he was told by police that the tape had been
handed over to the Stevens Inquiry team on May 17, 2004.

The inquiry team had privately denied receiving the tape,
but after inquiries by the News Letter, the body confirmed
it had the evidence.

Mr Frazer said: "We received a letter from the PSNI saying
the tape had been handed in to the Stevens team.

"This is an explosive tape about a man who has fled the
country - but has been involved in 40 plus murders here.
You would think the police would do something, given the
way it was handed to them on a plate.

"In spite of trying to find out that something was being
done, we heard nothing about the tape officially last week
after the News Letter made an inquiry into where it was.

"Only then did a former member of the Stevens team ring me
saying it was still in their possession.

"I was told some time ago by a source that the Stevens team
had not even seen the tape. But it turned up after a Press

Mr Frazer said that in April 2005 he and other concerned
parties went to the Police Ombudsman's office to complain
that "nothing had been done", but were told that the office
was unable to investigate the Stevens team's actions.

Last night a Police Ombudsman spokesman said at the time Mr
Frazer made his complaint they did contact the Stevens team
asking them to get in touch with him.

Mr Frazer says he will again ask the Police Ombudsman to
investigate why the tape wasn't used in investigations
before now.

"I want this taken further and I want answers," he said.

Stakeknife is the code name of a spy within the Provisional
IRA working for the Force Research Unit for 25 years.

Newspaper claims that west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci
was Stakeknife were consistently denied by the man himself
before he fled the country.

It was suggested that he was so important that MI5 set up
an office dedicated solely to him and rewarded him
handsomely, paying at least œ80,000 a year into a bank
account in Gibraltar.

He is rumoured to be living in the Naples area of Italy,
though there have also been reported sightings in Tenerife.

05 February 2007


Let The Election Battle Commence

Andersonstown News
by Laura Canning

The stage has been set.

After Sinn F‚in's historic decision at their Dublin Ard
Fheis to back policing and justice, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair and Taioseach Bertie Ahern last week confirmed
the date for the North's Assembly elections next month.

Elections to the new Assembly at Stormont will take place
on March 7, and campaigning is already under way.

In West Belfast, the main parties are putting forward their
candidates for the six available Assembly seats.

The last election in 2005 saw Diane Dodds of the DUP
elected as an MLA for the area, along with the SDLP's Alex
Atwood and Sinn F‚in's Gerry Adams, Sue Ramsey, Fra McCann
and Michael Ferguson, who sadly passed away last September.

Following last week's announcement, the Andersonstown News
spoke to representatives of all the main parties about who
they would be putting forward for West Belfast on March 7,
and asked what they thought of the fact that the elections
had finally been called.

"That's a very good question," said a spokesperson at the
UUP office, who added that the party is currently sorting
out which candidate to field. However, claiming that the
UUP candidate for West Belfast would "more than likely be
Chris McGimpsey", it has since been announced that Louis
West is to run for the Assembly seat.

"I want to see the obstacles cleared for a much-needed
return to devolution," said party leader, Reg Empey.

"People must be given a real chance to vote for an
administration that will work, and not more conflict and

Last to announce their candidate, the DUP revealed last
week that their West Belfast candidate would once again be
Shankill councillor and sitting MLA Diane Dodds.

A DUP spokesperson said they welcomed the election. "We
obviously strongly pushed for it and we look forward to the
campaign," he added.

The SDLP have already decided on their candidates, Alex
Attwood and Margaret Walsh.

A spokesperson for the SDLP candidates said: "We welcome
the chance to get the Assembly up and running again, to
return power to the people. It's obviously a hugely
important era in Irish politics.

"Once elected, we'll be following the SDLP manifesto in all
our core areas of health, education etc, working for the
community in all these issues."

Last week, Sinn F‚in announced that they would be standing
five candidates for the West Belfast seats in the Assembly

Gerry Adams, Fra McCann, Jennifer McCann, Paul Maskey and
Sue Ramsey are all set to stand. Speaking last week, Gerry
Adams said: "Local politicians in an Executive is the best
way to deal with the real issues of concern to people in
their day-to-day lives.

"I am confident that the people will endorse our approach,"
he added.


Resign Letter For DUP Candidates

DUP assembly election candidates have received a contract
asking them to sign a resignation letter, which could be
triggered if they breach party policy.

The contract was described as "draconian" by one member.

The member told the BBC DUP assembly members could find
themselves out of a job without even being consulted.

A DUP spokesman said he was not aware of any contract at
this stage, but said it was normal practice for candidates
to sign one.

A two-page contract with a letter of resignation attached
has been received by a number of candidates standing in the

BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Martina Purdy
said one of the clauses imposed a œ20,000 fine on members
as a form of discipline.

"Another clause, which has also caused upset, asks
candidates to sign a letter of resignation which could be
invoked by the party leader Ian Paisley if the member is in
serious breach of his or her obligations under the
contract," she said.

"These obligations include regularly attending meetings and
obeying party policy.

"Under the contract, the party leader having consulted a
majority of party officers could submit the letter to the
speaker's office.

"Another source, upset by the contract, said it was an
attempt to stifle dissension before election day.

"Party officers are currently meeting, but it is not clear
if the contract forms part of the discussion."

A DUP spokesman said it was normal practice to draw up a
contract with candidates but there had been no discussion
to finalise the contract at this stage.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/05 13:39:57 GMT


DUP Denies Plan For œ20k Fine To Stop Dissension

DISSENTING members of the DUP could be fined up to œ20,000
if they defy the party line in crucial Assembly votes, it
was claimed yesterday.

The Ulster Unionists said the proposal to impose fines
bordered on "fascism" and show a lack of confidence in the

It is also believed that in its election manifesto, due to
be published on Thursday, the DUP will not commit to
sharing power with Sinn Fein, despite the republicans
having endorsed policing and the courts in the Province.

Last night, Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell, insisted no
contract has been put together by DUP party officers.

"There has been no discussion, never mind agreement, on a
contract, so any reference to one is pure speculation. We
have not even discussed the contract, so to carry any
amount of money is pure conjecture.

"In 1998 we had a contract, so it is not unusual. We are
meeting this week to discuss it and there will be a
contract in the same way we had previous contracts, but no
figure has been talked about at all.

"We do normally have a financial implication for payments
by MLAs into the party. That is a normal part of our
contractual agreements between the candidates. I don't know
what the figure would be because we have not discussed it."

Earlier, a DUP spokesman refused to be drawn on either
claim, insisting "these are matters internal to the party
and as such we do not comment on them".

The party spokesman would not comment on the exact nature
of the forthcoming manifesto or if it will include any
commitment to power-sharing.

"If the March 26 deadline cannot be met it will be as a
result of the failure of Sinn Fein to deliver in both word
and deed in a way that demonstrates a commitment to
exclusively peaceful and democratic means," he said.

"The Government must also deliver on a number of issues
that we have been pursuing with them. The DUP is determined
to keep the pressure on Sinn Fein to ensure they fulfil and
deliver on all their obligations."

The Sunday Times yesterday claimed that having DUP members
sign a contract promising to toe the line in crucial votes
is possibly going to be used by the party to control the
ever-increasing number of people unhappy with the
likelihood of entering into government with Sinn Fein.

Before Christmas 12 leading members of the DUP expressed
their mistrust of Sinn Fein and reservations about sharing
power with them. They included MPs Nigel Dodds, William
McCrea, Gregory Campbell, MEP Jim Allister and party
chairman Lord Morrow of Clogher Valley.

Ulster Unionist chief negotiator Alan McFarland said he was
shocked to hear the DUP may be resorting to such methods to
control its elected representatives.

"It's outrageous. It reeks of paranoia and shows a party
deeply uneasy with itself," said the North Down MLA.

"Above all, what are the DUP trying to do here? Are they
trying to buy the silence of their candidates?

"It runs contrary to basic principles of democracy and is
bordering on fascism."

UUP Assembly candidate in south Antrim Stephen Nicholl
criticised the inconsistent noises the DUP are making in
the run-up to the election.

"Confusion reigns with some DUP candidates supporting
power-sharing, and some opposing it. What is the party's
definitive position?"

05 February 2007


End Of ERA As Politicians Bow Out

By Martina Purdy
BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent

Love them or loathe them, there are some colourful
personalities that won't be standing in this election.

This assembly election marks the end of an era, with
veterans from across the political spectrum missing from
the assembly ballot paper.

Not least are two of unionism's most controversial
characters: the two lords, David Trimble and John Taylor,
now Lord Trimble and Lord Kilclooney respectively.

While Lord Trimble's troubles and triumphs made great
headlines, it was the colourful soundbites of Lord
Kilclooney that have become the stuff of legend, most
memorably his "40-foot barge pole" remark during the Good
Friday Agreement negotiations.

Lord Kilclooney was always a cheeky campaigner, teasing the
voters as he handed out his election leaflets.

David Trimble always seemed more uncomfortable with the
door-to-door campaigning but he is looking forward to being
involved in the election.

"I may not be campaigning for myself but I could very well
be campaigning for others," he said, suggesting he was not
going to let the DUP use him as a "distraction" from the

Lord Trimble said he was looking forward to challenging the
DUP on the issue of power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

"I am quite sure after this election they are going to put
Martin McGuinness in as deputy first minister," he said.

The DUP will, no doubt, relish another battle with their
old enemy.

While other parties are losing high profile veterans, the
DUP's older guard are standing this time, including the
leader himself, Ian Paisley.

As for the SDLP, two of its MLAs not standing include the
former higher education minister, Sean Farren.

Mr Farren, who played a role in forging the Good Friday
Agreement and later served as finance minister, used to
relish standing against the DUP leader in North Antrim.

And although he never beat "the doc" he took pride in
outpolling Ian Paisley Junior in the 1998 assembly poll.

During the final debate before the assembly was dissolved
on 29 March 2007, the DUP leader asked his colleagues to
pass on his best wishes to Mr Farren on his retirement.

"I've never had the experience of retirement, so I have no
recommendation what to do," said Mr Paisley.

"Maybe he would like, after one year, to give me some

Mr Farren's SDLP colleague, Patricia Lewsley, has also quit
politics for her new role as children's commissioner.

Asked if she had any regrets about not standing, she
laughed: "Well, obviously, I'll miss the wonderful comments
people make on the doorstep.

"I suppose, with the time of year, I won't miss the weather
at all."

Her only promise in this election is that she'll be keeping
a "close eye" on results.

Another veteran who is not standing is the Alliance
assembly member, Seamus Close, who built a reputation as a
terrier when he served on the assembly's Public Accounts

Davy Hyland is not standing under the Sinn Fein banner
after only one term, although he could stand as an

In fact, it's not the veterans of Sinn Fein who are bowing
out but some of the one-termers who had little opportunity
to make their mark in the ill-fated 2003 assembly.

The election will be all the greyer due to the premature
death of the PUP leader David Ervine, famous for his turn
of phrase and snappy soundbites.

Sinn Fein has also bade a sad farewell to Michael Ferguson,
the member for West Belfast, who was an enthusiastic
campaigner. He died last September at the age of 53.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/06 10:31:42 GMT


UUP MP To Miss Assembly Poll

[Published: Tuesday 6, February 2007 - 10:44]
By Noel McAdam

The only Ulster Unionist MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, has
decided against running in the Assembly elections, it was
revealed today.

After lengthy consideration, the North Down MP said she did
not believe the time was right for her to stand for

Lady Hermon said the main factors had been her family
responsibilities and wanting to focus on parliamentary

Instead, the party has selected Alan McFarland, Marion
Smith and Leslie Cree for the March 7 election battle.

Lady Sylvia said: "Over the Christmas and New Year period,
I reflected long and hard on my family responsibilities and
on my determination to serve my constituents at Westminster
to the very best of my ability."

While she thanked colleagues who wanted her to stand, she
"came to the conclusion that now is not the right time to
do so".

c Belfast Telegraph


Republican Sinn Fein To Contest NI Election

Republicans who broke away from Sinn Fein 20 years ago are
to challenge Gerry Adams' party in at least 11
constituencies in the forthcoming Stormont Assembly

By:Press Association

However Republican Sinn Fein has insisted none of its
candidates will take their seats if they are elected to the

The decision was taken after a special meeting of the
party`s Ulster executive.

A Republican Sinn Fein statement said: "At a special
meeting of the Comhairle Uladh (Ulster Executive) body of
Republican Sinn Fein, a decision was taken to field
candidates on an abstentionist basis in at least 11 of the
18 constituencies for the forthcoming Stormont elections.

"Selection conventions will take place in these
constituencies within the next seven days, and details of
candidates selected, our electoral strategy and policy will
be revealed at a press conference in Belfast on the
completion of the selection process."


British Poultry Banned From Irish Fairs

05/02/2007 - 14:16:16

Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan has banned the
transport of British poultry to bird fairs in Ireland.

The measure is being introduced in response to an outbreak
of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus on a turkey farm in
the Suffolk area.

The Food Safety Authority is reassuring consumers that the
outbreak poses no risk whatsoever when eating properly
cooked poultry.

Minister for Health Mary Harney has also said she is
confident her department has the resources to deal with any
possible mutation of the virus that could seriously affect
human health.

Speaking in Dublin, meanwhile, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern,
said Irish people had no cause for concern at present and
the necessary precautions would be taken to prevent the
spread of the illness.


MRSA Endemic In Irish Hospitals, Inquest Told

Ali Bracken
Tue, Feb 06, 2007

MRSA is "endemic" in every hospital in Ireland, a
consultant microbiologist at the Mater hospital in Dublin
has told an inquest.

Dr Maureen Lynch told Dublin City Coroner's Court yesterday
that the strain of MRSA infection that killed a Dublin man
was associated in 90 per cent of cases with being a
hospital-acquired infection.

Dr Lynch was called to give evidence after the inquest was
adjourned in December because the coroner said it was
important "in the public interest", as well as for the
family, to hear expert testimony on MRSA.

Thomas Murdiff (53), Butterfield Grove, Athboy, Co Meath,
died on December 14th, 2004, at the Mater hospital from
sepsis brought on by MRSA. A former Evening Herald sports
editor, Mr Murdiff had been in and out of hospitals over
the preceding eight months with heart problems and also had
to have a toe amputated.

"On the balance of probability, if not higher, this was a
hospital-acquired infection," coroner Dr Brian Farrell told
the inquest yesterday. He adjourned proceedings until
February 28th. "I will look at all the evidence and then
endeavour to make a finding."

Dr Lynch said that as MRSA was first detected when Mr
Murdiff was an out-patient in the diabetes clinic at the
Mater hospital and he had tested negative a month earlier
at the hospital, she could not definitively agree that he
acquired MRSA in hospital.

Ross Maguire, for the family, suggested yesterday that a
lack of "inter-hospital communication" between the Mater
public and private hospitals could have affected Mr
Murdiff's fortune.

The inquest previously heard that a toe amputation was
carried out on Mr Murdiff at the Mater private without
doctors knowing that he had been diagnosed with MRSA at an
out-patient clinic at the Mater public as the test results
were not added to his file.

"If there had been this communication, events might have
been different," Mr Maguire said.

This claim was strongly rejected by legal representatives
for the hospitals. Martin O'Donohoe, consultant general
vascular surgeon at the Mater who carried out the
amputation, previously said he would have done so
regardless of whether he was aware that Mr Murdiff had
contracted MRSA.

Dr Lynch said that "standard procedure" for clinicians
would be to attempt to "decolonise" the MRSA if aware of
its existence.

She told the inquest that 30 per cent of people carry MRSA
bacteria, but this does not necessarily develop into
infection. While it is considered a hospital-acquired
infection, "the magnitude of the problem is such that it
has spilled out into the community".

Mr Murdiff's complicated medical history put him in the
risk category. As well as the Mater, Mr Murdiff was a
patient at Our Lady's Hospital in Navan, Co Meath. He
tested positive for MRSA septicaemia at the Navan hospital
a week after the toe amputation. He was rushed back to the
Mater but died within a few days.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Hiker's Death Caused By Fall, Kerry Inquest Finds

Anne Lucey in Killarney
Tue, Feb 06, 2007

A coroner and a senior garda yesterday warned of the
dangers climbers face in the Kerry mountains, even if they
are experienced and well equipped.

The search for Swedish man Olof Osman Per Jannson was one
of the biggest undertaken in the Kerry mountains, the
inquest into his death heard in Killarney yesterday.

The 21-year-old student, who was living in Aberdeen,
Scotland, was on his honeymoon with his wife, Mariam, at
the home of his mother-in-law, Ellen Callaghan. A keen
hiker and a former member of the Swedish army, he had
brought his hiking gear with him and on December 28th,
2004, set off on a two-day hike alone.

He had with him a compass, a tent and other equipment and
enough food for four days. He said he would send texts from
his mobile phone and did so at 7pm that night, giving his
co-ordinates. The family were due to hear from him the next
day but did not and contacted Garda Denis O'Brien on
December 30th.

Almost two years later, on November 1st, 2006, local sheep
farmer Timmy Fleming was gathering sheep high in the Horses
Glen on the Killarney side of Mangerton Mountain.

He was in an area known locally as Direen na G ird¡n when
he spotted a dark rucksack and further into the gully saw
human bones. He notified garda¡.

The skeletal remains were identified forensically with the
help of dental records, the inquest heard.

In her postmortem report Assistant State Pathologist Dr
Margot Bolster noted multiple fractures of the bones,
including ribs and skull, and concluded the man's death was
in keeping with a fall from a height.

Coroner for south Kerry Terence Casey expressed his deepest
sympathy to the relatives, particularly Mr Jannson's young

He thanked the searchers who included garda¡, volunteer
mountain rescue teams from Ireland and Wales, national park
rangers, water rescue services, the marine rescue
helicopter, Civil Defence, walkers and "the people of
Kilgarvan" who came out in great numbers.

Noting the dead man was a capable and well-equipped
climber, Mr Casey said: "In Kerry a mist comes down very
fast." He believed that is possibly what happened in this
case , affecting visibility, and the climber "fell off the
edge". The jury of seven brought in a verdict in accordance
with the medical report.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Secret Plan To Bury Soldiers Alive Inside Rock Of Gibraltar

[Published: Monday 5, February 2007 - 12:53]

The Gibraltar chamber had the innocuous name of the "Stay
Behind" Cave. But this was no game. This was a top-secret
wartime mission, code-named Operation Tracer, in which six
men volunteered to be buried alive in the cave if the Rock
were captured by the Germans, so they could continue to
monitor enemy movements.

More than 60 years after the end of the Second World War, a
retired doctor from Preston has been named as the chamber's
last survivor, as researchers struggle to unlock its
remaining secrets.

"I had a telephone call one day and they came over," Dr
Bruce Cooper said yesterday. Only now has the 92-year-old
broken his silence on the mission whose existence was one
of the war's best-kept secrets.

The young British navy doctor was called in to see Surgeon-
Commander Murray Levick while on shore leave and told they
were looking for a doctor "to do something special".
Commander Levick said: "I cannot tell you what it's all
about yet but you will need an accomplice." Dr Cooper
recommended his friend Arthur Milner, a fellow doctor, and
the team was put in place. It included the two medical
officers, the executive officer "Windy Gale" and three
junior seamen, who would function as radio operators.

The team were warned before they left for Gibraltar that
they may have to be sealed inside the operation post for as
long as a year, although they were aware that it could be
longer. The operation was so secret that not even Whitehall
knew about it.

Once in Gibraltar, they lived under cover for two and a
half years with the prospect of being moved up to the
operation post to be sealed inside. At the end of the war,
the team was disbanded and its members resumed civilian
life. The Rock was never captured.

c Belfast Telegraph


History Of Croke Park

The site upon which Croke park now stands was originally
owned by Maurice Butterly in the 1870's and was known as
the "City and Suburban Racecourse". The GAA became one of
the grounds most frequent users and in 1908 Frank Dineen
purchased the 14-acre site for the handsome sum of œ3,250.
The GAA subsequently purchased the site from Frank Dineen
in 1913 for œ3,500 and immediately renamed the ground Croke
Park in honour of the association's first patron Archbishop
Croke of Cashel.

Over the subsequent 40 years Croke Park was developed and
redeveloped in an ad hoc manner as finances allowed. The
Railway End, also known as Hill 16 was constructed from the
rubble left in Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street)
after the 1916 rising. The first Hogan stand (named after
Tipperary footballer Michael Hogan) was built in 1924 and
followed by the construction of the Cusack stand (named
after one of the original founders of the GAA Michael
Cusack) in 1937. The Canal End terrace was constructed in
1949 and was subsequently followed by the construction of
the Nally stand (Named after Pat Nally) in 1952. Since
these initial buildings, reconstruction and redevelopment
of various sections of the ground have taken place.

Croke Park Redevelopment

The reconstruction of the stadium at Croke Park is by far
the most impressive and ambitious development ever
undertaken by the GAA at their headquarters. The stadiums
capacity has increased to 82,300 since the redevelopment
started in 1993. The stadium represents a new era in
spectator comfort and playing facilities. The stands are
comprised of three layers of seating: the main lower
concourse, the premium level incorporating hospitality
facilities and finally an upper concourse. Premium level
features excellent facilities such as restaurants, bars and
conference areas, all of which make Croke Park one of the
most impressive stadiums in Europe. The final phase of the
project, the Dineen Hill 16 terrace, was completed in March
2005 and officially opened by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on
14th March 2005.

1992 GAA announce plans to redevelop Croke Park into 79,500
capacity modern stadium

1993 Work commences on redevelopment of stadium on Cusack

1996 New Cusack Stand officially opened

2003 New Canal End (now David Stand) and Hogan Stands
officially opened

2005 New Dineen Hill 16 and Nally End Terrace officially


In 1998 a major high technology Museum incorporating
numerous items of GAA memorabilia was opened. The Museum
will act as a link between the past, present and future of
the GAA and in so doing will pay tribute to the people and
events which were so influential in shaping our past,
whilst also conveying a vision of the GAA of the future to
its visitors.

Hill 16

Phase four of the redevelopment of Croke Park began at the
Northern (Hill 16) end of the ground in the aftermath of
the Ladies Football final between Dublin and Mayo in
October 2003. The ambition of the Association in this
regard was to provide an ultra modern terrace with the
highest standard of facilities for spectators. The terrace
was initially opened for the All Ireland hurling final on
September 12th 2004 when Cork defeated Kilkenny and on that
occasion catered for almost 9,000 spectators. Unlike the
previous Hill, the new terrace was divided into separate
sections - Hill A (Cusack stand side), Hill B (behind the
goals) and the Nally terrace (Hogan Stand side). The fully
redeveloped Hill will be in use for the 2005 championships
with a capacity in the region of 13,000, bringing the
overall capacity of the stadium to 82,500. The
redevelopment cost the Association in the region of

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