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February 13, 2007

O'Caolain To Stand In Election

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 02/13/07 O Caoláin To Stand In Election
BB 02/13/07 PSNI Acknowledge Sinn Fein Help
BT 02/12/07 Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Say OTR
IO 02/13/07 N Ireland Office: No Amnesty For IRA Fugitives
SF 02/12/07 SF Will Continue To Support The Finucane Family
BB 02/13/07 Last Post Sounds For Watchtower
SF 02/12/07 Welcome For Removal Of Crossmaglen Spy Post
IM 02/12/07 Ógra SF Build Solidarity Links In England
BT 02/12/07 Hain To Mark 1920s GAA Massacre?
BB 02/13/07 Soldier Who Blinded Man Forgiven
BT 02/13/07 Split Widens As DUP Man Resigns
DJ 02/13/07 Peggy O’Hara Running To 'Smash Stormont'
BB 02/14/07 RSF Party Will Not Be Recognised
BT 02/12/07 Feature: Day One: The Victims
BT 02/13/07 Feature: Day Two: The Victims
BT 02/13/07 Opin: Pain Never Ends For The Victims
BT 02/13/07 Opin: Fugitives Must Not Evade Justice
BT 02/13/07 Opin: A Bright New Dawn Sets Croke Alight
DT 02/13/07 St. Patrick's Parade Finds New Home In Ferndale
JN 02/12/07 Nun To Lead Mount Kisco St. Patrick's Parade


O Caolain To Stand In Election - SF

Tue, Feb 13, 2007

Sinn F‚in leader in the Dail Caoimhgh¡n O Caol in will be
running in the general election despite suffering a weekend
heart attack, the party said today.

The Cavan/Monaghan TD (53) is recovering well from surgery,
and a spokesman said he is looking forward to
electioneering after some rest.

The party's health spokesman suffered the heart attack at
his home early on Friday morning. He was taken to Monaghan
General Hospital and then transferred to St James's
Hospital in Dublin, where he underwent surgery on Friday

A party spokesman said Mr O Caol in is recuperating well
and would be running in the general election, expected in
May or June.

"Caoimhgh¡n is recovering well. He is looking forward to
returning to work at both national and constituency level
after he has taken the required time for essential rest and
recuperation. He passes on his sincere appreciation to all

Sinn F‚in also thanked hospital staff and members of the
public who had contacted his home and offices.

Mr O Caol in was first elected as a Dail TD in 1997, and
Sinn F‚in president Gerry Adams appointed him parliamentary
leader of the party's four other TDs in June 2002.


c 2007


PSNI Acknowledge Sinn Fein Help

Police have acknowledged the assistance of Sinn Fein in an
investigation into the murder of a taxi driver in Newry.

Chief Superintendent Bobby Hunniford said the party
encouraged local people to work with the police over the
murder of Stiofan Loughran.

Mr Loughran, a father-of-four in his early 40s, died after
being stabbed in Derrybeg on 8 February.

Mr Hunniford said the party's assistance had been "very
positive" for their investigation.

"It enabled us to deal with a very difficult situation in a
much more normal manner and have it resolved at the scene a
lot quicker," he said.

"I thank the local representative for the statement that
she made because it made our job on the ground a lot

Mr Loughran was stabbed at least twice at Third Avenue,
Derrybeg. He died later in hospital.

An 18-year-old man has been remanded in custody charged
with his murder.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/13 11:34:45 GMT


Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Say OTR

[Published: Tuesday 13, February 2007 - 09:17]

The Government has been so clear about IRA fugitives, Ian
Paisley suggested yesterday, that they would be liars if
they did anything that allows the on-the-runs (OTRs) to
stop running.

"We have had the prime minister in the House of Commons,"
the DUP leader told Downtown Radio in the wake of a report
suggesting the Attorney General will declare it is not in
the public interest to pursue OTRs. " We have had the
secretary of state reiterating it. He said there will be no

Mr Paisley added that "the whole thing is over", as far as
reviving Stormont is concerned, if events prove otherwise.

As his party nervously returns to the issue that it thought
it had killed off last year, Mr Paisley does not seem to
see that there may be a hole in what the Government is
saying - a hole big enough to run a few dozen fugitives
through at some convenient point after the election.

Just last week, in a written reply to UUP MP Lady Sylvia
Hermon, Peter Hain said "we have no plans to bring forward
any legislation on 'on the runs', or to introduce an

Fair enough. But Mr Hain also repeated that the issue "will
need to be addressed at some stage" and pointedly avoided
answering part of Lady Hermon's question about using
existing procedures to give OTRs special treatment.

One of those existing procedures would be a decision by the
Attorney General to drop cases in "the public interest",
just as he did recently with the allegations of bribery in
a Saudi arms deal.

Last night the NIO insisted that reports suggesting that
would happen are " entirely incorrect". They have yet to
make it clear how it will be resolved.

If all this seems wearily familiar, it is because OTRs have
plagued the political process for five years now.

Since then republicans have pushed for some mechanism to
allow people like Rita O'Hare and Charlie Caldwell to come
home. She is a Sinn Fein official wanted for a gun attack
on soldiers. He has been named in Parliament as one of the
Enniskillen bombers.

In 2005 - around the same time the IRA completed its
decommissioning - the Government declared that there was an
anomaly in pursuing people for pre-1998 crimes of the
Troubles. It brought forward a bill in the House of Commons
to allow them back over the border with a special judicial
procedure, but no jail time.

The Government took flak over the bill, but it was really
only crippled when Sinn Fein decided it did not like the
focus on how the new procedures would benefit members of
the security forces accused of collusion.

It withdrew its support and the Government withdrew the
bill in January 2006.

Peter Hain told the House of Commons: "Two things are
clear; legislation is needed to resolve the issue, and the
issue needs to be resolved."

Then last October, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson warmed
up for the St Andrews Agreement by trying to make sure the
issue was dead and buried. He asked Mr Hain if there would
be legislation or another procedure for dealing with OTRs.
Mr Hain U-turned from his January position and rejected
legislation. "There is no other procedure," he added.

A few days later this newspaper revealed that Mr Hain had
been assuring the US Attorney General that "the British
Government is committed to addressing these cases in a way
which resolves the anomaly". Mr Hain insisted there was no
difference between that statement and his assurances to the

The DUP rushed back to the Commons to make sure the prime
minister was saying the same thing. Mr Blair told Lagan
Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson " that there will be no amnesty
for on-the-runs, and that we have no intention of bringing
back legislation on the issue".

That seemed to settle things for Mr Donaldson. "It needs to
be understood this matter is put to rest once and for all,"
he declared afterwards, though he added that any move on
the OTRs "will be a deal breaker".

Sinn Fein sees it differently. North Belfast MLA Gerry
Kelly said recently that the issue will be dealt with
before Tony Blair leaves office.

Alex Attwood of the SDLP says that all this - the timing,
the assurances of no new procedures or legislation, but the
commitment to resolve it - points to one outcome: the kind
of declaration by the Attorney General that the NIO now

If that happens, Shadow Secretary of State David Lidington
says the Government shouldn't just expect it to disappear
in the smoke. "If there is a decision by the Attorney
General that it's not in the public interest to prosecute
despite the evidence, then the Government would need to
make oral statements to Parliament and be questioned about
it," he said. "I think the preferable way is that you have
court proceedings, then you deal with clemency through the
sentencing procedure. There should be a formal judgment.
You owe that to the victims."

c Belfast Telegraph


Northern Ireland Office: No Amnesty For IRA Fugitives

12/02/2007 - 19:31:30

No amnesty is being planned for fugitive IRA men, the
British government pledged tonight.

Reassurances that the policy surrounding on the runs (OTRs)
remained unchanged were issued amid warnings that any such
controversial move would threaten the chances of
politically stable devolution in the North.

Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party outlined the
potentially dire consequences following claims that
prosecutions of IRA fugitives and members of the security
forces accused of collusion were to be dropped in the
public interest.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman tonight confirmed: "The
Secretary of State, Peter Hain, has already stated publicly
and to parliament that, while the government recognises
that OTRs are in an anomalous position, there is no
intention to reintroduce legislation or to introduce an

"Furthermore, reports that the attorney general and the
Public Prosecution Service (PPS) are to be asked to drop
cases against OTRs in the public interest are entirely

"OTR cases are considered by the PPS according to the tests
for prosecution. These tests are set out in the statutory
code for prosecutors and apply to all cases.

"Each case is considered individually on the basis of its
particular facts and circumstances. There are no

It had been claimed that the British director of public
prosecutions and attorney general are to be asked to shelve
cases against on-the-run republicans as part of a final
deal between Sinn F‚in and Downing Street.

To provide balance a similar no-prosecution call for
members of the security forces accused of collusion with
loyalist paramilitaries would be made.

Nigel Dodds, the North Belfast MP and DUP party secretary,
had warned of dire consequences for efforts to restore

He said his party had defeated previous attempts to
introduce an amnesty for OTRs and made clear to British
prime minister Tony Blair any subsequent attempt to re-
introduce such an amnesty directly or indirectly would be a

"An amnesty for OTRs is just as unacceptable whether it is
done directly in legislation or indirectly through some
kind of administrative fix," he said.

Mr Dodds added: "If government does decide to go down such
a route then it is placing any prospects of politically
stable devolution in jeopardy.

"If the government thinks it can sneak in such a provision
at some point in the future (after the election) and think
it will have no effect on the political situation, it is
gravely mistaken."


Sinn Fein Will Continue To Support The Finucane Family

Published: 12 February, 2007

Speaking today on the 18th Anniversary of the murder of Pat
Finucane by a unionist death squads controlled and directed
by the British State through their collusion policy, Sinn
F‚in spokesperson on Justice issues Gerry Kelly said:

Mr Kelly said:

"The Finucane family have for many years been campaigning
for the establishment of an Independent International
Inquiry to establish the truth surrounding the murder of
Pat Finucane in Belfast in 1989. Sinn F‚in has supported
the Finucane family in their campaign throughout this time.
Throughout these years the British State has continued to
cover up the role played by its agents and agencies in this

"Despite a public commitment to establish an inquiry into
this killing the British government have subsequently
brought forward legislation which, in the view of the
Finucane family would ensure that any inquiry held within
these parameters would not deliver the truth. This
situation is unacceptable.

"Sinn F‚in will continue to support the Finucane family in
their campaign for the truth. It is also important that the
Irish government do likewise. They need to make it clear to
the British government that the sort of concealment and
evasion which has been the mark of the British government
approach to this case up until now and also to the inquires
established into the Dublin/Monaghan bomb and the Seamus
Ludlow case is unacceptable and must end and end." ENDS


Last Post Sounds For Watchtower

The last remaining British army watchtower in south Armagh
is being dismantled on Tuesday.

The guard post at Crossmaglen police station is being
removed as part of the government's normalisation plans.

Built in 1992, its aim was to protect soldiers and police
officers at a time when security forces could only travel
to the police station by helicopter.

Sinn Fein welcomed the move, but unionists criticised its
timing, saying it was a sop to republicans.

The dismantling of the base in Crossmaglen is seen as
highly symbolic, given the village's place at the heart of
what was often referred during the Troubles as 'Bandit

For more than 30 years, soldiers and police officers based
there were tasked with confronting some of the IRA's most
deadly units.

We want to deliver policing in south Armagh in the same
way that policing is being delivered anywhere in Northern

Bobby Hunniford

PSNI chief superintendent

Work began on Monday with the removal of a metal cage which
protected the base from rocket attack.

The sangar will be lifted from the tower by a crane and the
rest of the structure will then be dismantled.

The army's presence at the Crossmaglen base has been
reduced in recent months, and the site will now only be
used as a police station.

The moves are part of the end of Operation Banner, the
British army's support role for the police during the

It has been running for 35 years and is the longest
operation in its history.

By 1 August, the Army's presence in Northern Ireland will
be reduced to no more than 5,000.

Chief Superintendent Bobby Hunniford said the work in
Crossmaglen was "a significant step as part of the ongoing
normalisation process".

"The police are committed to delivering an effective
service to the Newry and Mourne area and are already
policing in the area without military support, and
delivering a policing service using vehicles and beat
patrols," he said.

"We want to work with the community and we want to deliver
policing in south Armagh in the same way that policing is
being delivered anywhere in Northern Ireland."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/13 06:53:13 GMT


Welcome For Removal Of Crossmaglen Spy Post

Published: 12 February, 2007

Sinn F‚in MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy has welcomed
the news that the British Army are to begin removing the
spy post and Sanger in Crossmaglen today. The
demilitarisation of South Armagh and other republican
heartlands has been a key demand made by Sinn F‚in
throughout each stage of our negotiations with the British

Mr Murphy said:

"The removal of Britain's war apparatus from our country
has been a key demand made by Sinn F‚in throughout each
stage of our negotiations with the British government. In
recent times some significant progress has been made.

"I welcome the news that work is to start on removing the
British Army spy post and Sanger in Crossmaglen. This
military post has been a blight on this community for too
long. Local people will be glad to see the back of this
eyesore and those who spied on them from within it.

"Sinn F‚in are determined to ensure that all British Army
forces are removed from our communities and that land
stolen and occupied be returned to their rightful owners or
put to community use." ENDS


Ogra Shinn F‚in Build Solidarity Links In England

international miscellaneous news report Monday
February 12, 2007 03:43 by Internationale - Ogra Shinn F‚in
osfnational at yahoo dot ie

Ogra Shinn F‚in recently sent a delegation to London for a
Republican Youth Weekend (2-4 Feb) as part of the annual
Bloody Sunday Commemoration.

The weekend was jointly organised by Ogra Shinn F‚in and
the Wolfetone Society.

As part of the weekend there was a tour of London,
specifically of places linked to Irish History.

There was also a protest at the entrance of Downing Street
on the issue of Collusion calling for the resignation of
Ronnie Flanagan and there was a well attended public talk
on Bloody Sunday which Barry McColgan of Ogra addressed.

Ogra Shinn F‚in used the weekend to promote Irish
Republican politics in England and to build solidarity


Hain To Mark 1920s GAA Massacre?

[Published: Monday 12, February 2007 - 08:55]
By Claire McNeilly

The Northern Ireland Office has refused to rule out the
possibility that a wreath will be laid by the Secretary of
State at next weekend's historic Ireland vs England rugby
clash to mark the Croke Park massacre of 1920.

It has emerged that the Secretary of State Peter Hain could
be set to lay a wreath in commemoration of 13 Gaelic sports
fans shot dead by British forces inside the stadium on
November 21 1920.

It is also thought an apology from the British Government
is under consideration for what has become known as the
first 'Bloody Sunday'.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, the NIO
confirmed the Secretary of State had been invited to the
Ireland-England clash on February 24, but stopped short of
denying plans to lay a wreath.

"Clearly, there is particular significance to this game
given the history of Croke Park," a NIO spokesperson said.

"If it was felt that should be recognised then an
appropriate way to do it would have to be discussed. But
speculation about laying a wreath is just that.

A furore over the proposal has already erupted among
Ulster's political parties.

Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson slammed the idea
as having "a total lack of balance" and said it would bring
"controversy down on the head of sport in general".

"We need to move away from allowing sport to be embroiled
in politics.

"There are issues to be addressed on both sides, but a
sporting occasion is neither the time nor the place."

Meanwhile, SDLP normalisation spokesperson Dominic Bradley
called the gesture a "small but positive" step.

"The call to keep politics out of sport is simply nonsense,
not to mention a bit late. Politics intruded into sport in
no uncertain manner when armoured cars machine-gunned the

c Belfast Telegraph


Soldier Who Blinded Man Forgiven

Derry man Richard Moore, who was blinded by a rubber bullet
as a child in 1972, has said he forgives the soldier who
shot him.

A documentary that follows him as he tracks down the
soldier will be shown on BBC Northern Ireland on Sunday.

Richard Moore described the meeting as surreal.

He has now stayed with the soldier as a guest in his home
and met him on three different occasions.

"As far back as I can remember I have always wanted to meet
the soldier who shot me," said Richard.

"At times I am not sure about the reasons why I wanted to
meet him, and then there are times I think that the most
significant thing to ever happen to me was being blinded.

"The person I am, the work that I do, and the direction
that life has taken and all the challenges I have faced
throughout my life... were all dictated by that incident.

"I have always felt I never met the person that was at the
other end of that equation."

Mr Moore, who is the director of the charity, Children in
Crossfire, lost one eye and the sight in the other when he
was struck in the face with the rubber bullet in May 1972.

The 45-year-old said the soldier had written a letter, but
that it had been "more of a statement" and that it had been
from a position of suspicion.

The two men later met in a hotel in Edinburgh.

Peace process

Mr Moore said he wanted the retired major to know that "I
have no resentment or hatred towards you".

"He said thank you, and he said to me that he regrets what
happened, when he heard the next day about the damage that
was caused.

"He went into deep shock, deep sadness and deep regret.

"We chatted a bit more around it, but by-and-large we
talked about my family, his family and talked about where
the peace process was going and his career."

The soldier, know only as Charles, was an Army captain when
the incident took place.

Richard said he did not want the meeting to be about
"revisiting the evidence" about the circumstances of the

"What I was doing was meeting a human being behind the gun
that was fired at me.

"At least we agreed on the fact that I wasn't a rioter -
because that was something that was very strong to me."

He added: "I was a child going home from school, and it is
important that the soldier accepts some bottom line as

"I feel that he and I - where we may not agree on
everything - I do think that we have reached a common
ground that both of us can live with."

Richard has now invited the retired officer to visit Derry.

"I like him, and I would like to remain friends with him."

Blind Vision will be screened on BBC1 at 2220 GMT on

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/13 10:55:18 GMT


Split Widens As DUP Man Resigns

[Published: Tuesday 13, February 2007 - 11:07]
By Claire Weir

The split within the DUP widened today after outspoken
Limavady councillor Leslie Cubitt confirmed he was joining
the UK Unionist Party.

Mr Cubitt revealed that he quit the DUP last night over the
party's move towards power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

Mr Cubitt, will now stand as an Assembly candidate for the
UKUP and represent Robert McCartney's group on Limavady
Borough Council.

The move came as the election battle began in earnest
yesterday, with candidates handing in their nomination
papers at electoral offices.

After six years on the council, Mr Cubitt told the
Telegraph he feels " let down" by the DUP and that the
party has gone back on a number of promises made in its
2005 manifesto.

"It is to do with power-sharing with Sinn Fein," he said.
"I feel that the people have been lied to. They may say
that I have left the DUP, I say that the DUP has left me,
and the constituents.

"The DUP has gone back on its word. They said they would
get rid of d'Hondt, they said they would need photographic
evidence of decommissioning.

"Peter Robinson said that the Belfast Agreement is dead -
but there is something worse in its place.

"They say there is a split in Sinn Fein, but the split in
the DUP is worse. Look at the DUP members in Ballymena,
look at the resignation of George McConnell, a founding
father of the party."

He added: "I canvassed enthusiastically for the DUP in 2005
because I believed whole-heartedly in their manifesto - but
not any more. If they went back to that 2005 manifesto, I
would still be supporting them."

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said that the
departure of Mr Cubitt was "no surprise".

"Immediately before (2005 Local Government) elections,
Councillor Cubitt was required to sign a document binding
himself to the party's policies, including a specific
reference to our approach and attitude to Sinn Fein in
local councils," he said.

"His nomination was agreed only after his signature was
received by the party. The irony of his standing against
the DUP regarding what he thinks could possibly be our
future attitude to Sinn Fein, given his ongoing approach to
Sinn Fein elected councillors in Limavady will not be lost
on voters.

"The voters will have their say in the end. No party has
done more to bring Sinn Fein, albeit kicking and screaming
to support policing and the rule of law."

c Belfast Telegraph


Peggy Running To 'Smash Stormont'

THE MOTHER of 1981 Derry hunger striker, Patsy O'Hara
called on republicans to 'Smash Stormont' when she launched
her election campaign as an abstentionist independent
republican candidate yesterday.

Peggy O'Hara (76) is seeking a "peaceful solution" to the
North's problems and takes on the mainstream political
parties in Foyle in assembly elections on March 7.

At yesterday's launch at Teach Na Failte in Lenamore
Business Park, Mrs O'Hara said that she was running in
memory of her son, who died after 61 days on hunger strike
in May 1981.

"I decided to stand in this election because of when I
think about my son Patsy and how he was burned and
brutalised by the RUC. I don't want republicans to accept
this force. They weren't acceptable in years gone by and
they aren't acceptable now.

"The PSNI is the old RUC and nothing has changed," she

Mrs O'Hara added that she wants to see a united Ireland
after centuries of "British misrule".

"One thing I have learned over the years is republicans
should never trust the British to deliver on their
promises. I should know, afterall my son Patsy would be
alive today if the British had kept to their side of the
deal that brought an end to the 1980 hunger strike."

She added that she believes the policing debate is "a red
herring, a side show and a distraction".

"The main issue is the illegal British involvement in our
country. There's no such thing as British justice. They
don't know the meaning of the word. I am all for peace but
this peace process is one sided and embarrassing," she

Mrs O'Hara accused Sinn Fein of accepting a "partitionist
settlement" in backing the PSNI.

"My son Patsy and other brave republicans went to their
deaths in the belief that they were fighting to get the
British establishment out of Ireland once and for all. If
they had known then that the struggle would end in support
for the RUC then they would not have felt it worthwhile
putting their lives on the line."

13 February 2007


RSF Party Will Not Be Recognised

Republican Sinn Fein will not be recognised as a political
party by the electoral authorities overseeing next month's
assembly election.

The party broke away from Gerry Adams's Sinn Fein in the

The party says that if elected, its six candidates will not
take their seats at Stormont.

However, they will be treated as independents on the ballot
paper as they have not registered with the Electoral
Commission in Belfast.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/13 13:59:37 GMT


Feature: Day One: The Victims

[Published: Monday 12, February 2007 - 12:04]

Starting today, a week of special features asking victims
and their loved ones what should be done

Constable Allen Baird, a 28-year-old married father of two,
died alongside three colleagues when a 200lb van bomb
exploded on the Millvale Road, Bessbrook, in 1979. He left
a widow, Alwyn, and two children, Gordon and Judith, then
aged seven and three. His father Leslie Baird (83) recalls
the events of Easter Tuesday, April 17, 1979, and tells
Gr inne McCarry why he feels the Government forgot all
about the RUC casualties of the Troubles. Leslie lives in
Scarva and is married to Anna Elizabeth (81), his wife of
46 years.

He says:What was thought to be Allen was brought back. The
coffin was kept closed. And after he was buried, the
Government forgot all about us

The sun was shining the day Allen died. It was a beautiful
day. I was outside at the top of the garden planting
potatoes and had came in for a bite of lunch. I hadn't
finished in the garden and intended to head back out there.

My wife, Anna Elizabeth, was in the house along with
Allen's wife, Alwyn, and our daughter, Pauline.

For some reason, I decided to turn the radio on - it hadn't
been used for some time, but for whatever reason that day I
decided to listen to the news. The headlines at one o'
clock came on and the voice said there had been an
explosion in Bessbrook ... that was where Allen was

The house went into uproar and the women started to panic.
I said to them, 'Hold on, hold on. You don't even know
Allen was involved'.

I phoned the station at Bessbrook to make enquiries and
told them that I was Allen Baird's father. The person at
the other end went to get the station sergeant, who broke
the news.

Allen had been killed in a bomb explosion along with three

He had been travelling along the Millvale Road in an RUC
Land Rover with his colleagues and there was a parked van
at the side of the road. It had a 200lb bomb in it.

The murderers lay in wait in a field with a remote control
device and triggered the bomb when the Land Rover was going

I never heard the explosion that day, although other people
did. I was told it was heard up to three miles away. The
Land Rover disintegrated and they had no chance of

My wife reacted very badly. I had to call out the doctor to
prescribe something for the shock ... there was such
hysteria in the house.

What was thought to be Allen was brought back to his wife.
The coffin was kept closed. He was unrecognisable.

Moved house

The last time I saw my son alive was just before 7am that
morning on his way to work - he walked by our window and
waved in on his way past. He only lived a few doors down
from me with his wife and two young children, Gordon (7)
and Judith (3). They moved house some time after his death,
but we have always kept in touch.

Allen was given an RUC funeral with the police band
playing, and mourners poured into the two houses. There
were so many wreaths that a lorry had to transport them to
the graveyard. The church was packed.

I knew all the people who were killed in the explosion ...
Paul Gray, from Belfast, Noel Webb, from Lurgan, and Robert
Lockhart, who lived in south Armagh, not far from the
Kingsmills massacre in which 10 men had been killed only a
few years earlier.

I attended every one of their funerals. Robert, I knew very
well. He was a gentleman.

After Allen was buried, the Government conveniently forgot
all about us. I think his widow, Alwyn, got some sort of
compensation and the children got a small bit of money when
they turned 18.

Nobody came near us to offer advice, counselling ... or
anything. I have a whole lot of unanswered questions.

I tried my best to keep going. My faith has helped me a
lot. You can't just say 'Stop the world I want to get off'.
We had to get on with our lives, but it was very, very

I remember saying to Alwyn that she was a very young widow
and that if she met someone else we wouldn't hold it
against her.

They were childhood sweethearts and had married very young
but, she had to move on, too. She said she would never
marry again. All that she wanted to do was to raise her two
children as best she could and make sure they had a good

Myself and Anna Elizabeth had eight children - four boys
and four girls. Allen was the second eldest. I do not want
my grandchildren to go through what we did - I have 22
grand-children and 10 great grand-children.

Gordon is a music teacher now and lives over in Italy. He
is too busy seeing the world to settle down. Judith is
married and works in an office. She was too young to
remember her daddy. She just knows her father from what she
has been told about him, and, of course, she has been able
to look at old photos of herself sitting on her daddy's

To me, the people that did this are murderers. Allen was
only doing his job.

Murderers free

We heard that a man was charged, but no one ever told us
about a court case or anything. We weren't kept informed at

I think it was an awful shame and pity that Allen died and
it saddens me to think that murderers get to walk the
streets because of the Good Friday Agreement. If you do the
crime, you should do the time.

It's not right that murderers should be walking free - no
matter what side they are on. It's not right that they
should have their freedom when they have ended another
human life.

Sadly, Allen's death was not the last. The violence
continued on long after his death - other families were
experiencing the grief that we have experienced. Over 100
RUC men died in the Troubles and what for?

As a kneejerk reaction, his younger brother, Noel, joined
the RUC. The day after Allen's funeral, he filled in the
application form at the station in Enniskillen. He saw it
as continuing Allen's good work.

Of course, that was more worry for the family. I knew the
dangers involved in the job and I used to sit and chat to
Allen about it.

I was a machinery driver by trade and joined the B Specials
before the Second World War. I trained as a Home Guard and
had my uniform and gas mask ready if I was needed to go to
war. I didn't have a problem with that.

I stayed in the B Specials until they were disbanded and
spent a lot of my time in the south Armagh and Tandragee
area. I would have been on patrol from 8pm to 4am and
received 16 shillings. I was lucky enough never to receive
any injury.

My father, William, was in the A Specials which was the
auxiliary force of the RIC. He joined after the
partitioning in 1921. He was in the reserve force and his
first job was guarding IRA members that were aboard a ship
called the Argenta at Belfast Lough. His day job was as a

But Allen did his job full-time, and he loved it. He
believed he was trying to keep law and order in the

Noel went on to serve for 20 years before taking
redundancy. The force was changing and it wasn't like the
way it was when he had started out.

The RUC Memorial Fund were very good to me. They paid for
central heating to be installed in our house, got me a
wheelchair and adapted the bath to suit my needs.

Second-class citizens

But, as far as I'm concerned the Government doesn't care. I
don't think Tony Blair would allow murderers into his
government in Westminster so why allow them into the
Assembly here?

We are treated like second-class citizens in Northern
Ireland. There were a lot of RUC casualties around the
Bessbrook area during the Troubles. Many of the men who
died left young wives with families, and those women had to
struggle to raise their children and keep a roof over their

I joined a support group called SAVER/NAVER shortly after
it was established in 2000. It was a charity formed to
offer some sort of relief to victims of the Troubles in
north and south Armagh and mid-Ulster, who are suffering
from hardship or distress.

Last year, we launched a book, called A Legacy of Tears, a
collection of people's experiences of the Troubles in the
Armagh and mid-Ulster area. A picture of Allen's funeral
was on the front cover.

I would welcome any positive steps taken too help support
victims of the violence.

I have no hatred towards these people ... I am 83 years of
age. I don't have the time or the energy. Violence is
violence - no matter what side you are from.

- On January 29, 1981, 27-year-old Patrick Joseph Traynor
from Crossmaglen, south Armagh was found guilty of the
murder of Constable Allen Baird and his three colleagues.

He was also found guilty on seven other charges which
included the hijacking of the van used in the explosion,
false imprisonment of the van driver, carrying a firearm on
the same date, membership of the IRA and the hijacking of a
lorry on February 22, 1979, with the use of a fireman.

He was jailed for life on each of the four murder charges
and was sentenced to a total of 12 years for the other
terrorist related crimes. All sentences were to run

c Belfast Telegraph


Feature: Day Two: The Victims

[Published: Tuesday 13, February 2007 - 11:27]

The Catholic man caught in a UVF bomb who felt he was left
to fend for himself

Divorced father-of-four Mark Kelly MBE, was left a double
amputee after a UVF bomb attack on the Glen Inn,
Glengormley, on the night of Saturday, August 28, 1976. The
48-year-old Catholic tells Gr inne McCarry how he received
no support in coping with the emotional fall-out of his
injuries. He says:

My first experience of the Troubles was when a
schoolfriend, James Cromie, died in the explosion at
McGurk's Bar in North Queen Street, Belfast, on December 4,
1971, along with 14 other innocent people.

We were both in the same class at St Malachy's College,
Belfast. He was 13 and a lovely wee lad - his only crime
was to go into the bar to play a game of pool.

I had always admired James because he had stood up to
school bullies for me when I was being picked on.

I remember the whole class crying when we found out he had
died. It just wasn't fair. It was a rude awakening to the
true cost of the Troubles - human life.

Nearly five years on, when I was 18, I was caught up in a
bomb explosion at the Glen Inn, Glengormley, on Saturday,
August 28. The difference was that I lived to tell my story
and James didn't.

I was supposed to go to the Fleadh Cheoil in Buncrana, Co
Donegal, that weekend.

We were to set off on the Friday, but my friend, who was to
be the designated driver, had to work part of the weekend
and our plans changed at the last minute.

I helped out at the St Mary's On The Hill parish youth
club, in the centre of Glengormley, directly opposite the
Glen Inn and was a DJ at the discos we held.

The priest had entrusted me with the keys of the building -
he saw the youth club as a way of keeping young people off
the streets and out of danger.

Someone had pointed out to me that if I headed off to
Donegal, that would mean there would be no youth club for
the rest of the weekend - and no Sunday night disco. A lot
of romances relied on that youth club disco each weekend,
so I decided not to go.

When the device went off, I was in the pub getting the
youth club keys from someone.

I had stopped to have a drink with a few friends to
celebrate scoring three goals and three points in the last
Gaelic football match I played - in a St Enda's v St
Patrick's game in Lisburn.

The actual blast I can't recall. Luckily, there were no
fatalities. I remember coming round and the place was in
darkness - I couldn't see anything, but I remember the
smell of burning beer.

I tried to move, but couldn't. I shouted "Help!" but there
was no response. I tried to move again, but still couldn't.
So I shouted again for help ... and, again, there was no
response. The third time I tried to move and failed, I
shouted: "Help! I want my Mummy."

At that stage I could hear voices. I could tell by how
strained they sounded that they were concerned. They were
trying to get into the building through the rubble, but
thought there might be another explosion.

An RUC officer led the way through the debris and carried
me out to safety. (I met him later on in life and thanked
him for saving me.)

It was when the cool hit me that I first felt pain. I
didn't know the extent of my injuries and asked could I go
to the toilet. I didn't know that I had lost my lower legs
- my left below the knee and the right above it.

I was asked my name and address, so that I wouldn't lose
consciousness. I remember repeating it over and over again.

In the ambulance, the paramedics kept trying to put a mask
on me for pain relief. I kept pushing it away. I felt like
it was suffocating me.

Extensive injuries

Belfast was covered in ramps erected to slow down
terrorists escaping from attacks. Each time the ambulance
went up over a ramp, the pain was unbearable. There were a
lot of ramps from Glengormley to the Royal Victoria
Hospital, I can tell you.

I was in intensive care for a week or so with extensive
injuries. There was the obvious loss of limbs, but that
wasn't all - I had also lost my hair and my lungs were
damaged. I had burns all over my body - I had been wearing
a chain that day and the cross was embedded into my
sternum. It had melted into my skin. I had to have my
eardrums operated on to repair the damage and restore my
hearing. It never fully returned.

When I regained consciousness, I can remember the bright
sunlight coming through the window. The sun was shining
outside. I said to the nurse: " I've lost my legs, haven't

I accepted it instantly. I had no other choice. I was 18
years of age and lucky to be alive. I was a young man and
wanted to live my life.

The road to recovery wasn't easy, but I was determined to
get on with living. I was in the Royal Victoria Hospital
for over three months, and at one stage I reached the point
of exhaustion and grew tired of waiting for my body to

My mother, Denise, knew this attitude wasn't like me at all
and raised her concerns with the medical team.

Unknown to me, osteomyelitis, a potentially fatal infection
of the bone, had set in on my left thigh in the form of a
large abscess. Three litres of pus had to be removed from
my partially-healed stump, which had to be specially
dressed every day.

I was so tired. The will to live had left me. I accepted
that it was time to go. I felt at peace, as if a calm had
descended on me. It was almost as if I was looking down on
myself in the hospital bed and drifting towards a very
bright warm light.

There was almost like a funnelling effect - I was being
drawn towards a point in the distance. I felt safe and
serene in that knowledge that I was going there.

For some reason, I seemed to be going towards a river,
crossing a wide expanse to people that I knew. I don't know
if they were relatives that had passed on, but it was
tranquil there. They were going to look after me.

It seemed like everything was happening in slow motion. I
was more than happy to be there, except there was something
behind me, a rumbling noise.

I tried to look over my shoulder to see what it was, and
something or someone was pulling me back, as if it wasn't
my time to go. Somehow, I knew my life was not over. I
would get through this ... maybe deep down, I knew I had
more living to do.

The fact that I was fit and agile was to my advantage and
aided my recovery. I used to play Gaelic football for two
clubs, St Gall's and St Enda's, and had been a very able
Irish dancer and went to the Irish speaking Gaeltacht in
Donegal as a schoolboy to learn Irish.

No assistance

I had been a member of the Air Training Corps Cadets,
squadron 1919, when I was 16. My dad, Edward, thought it
would be good discipline for me. We used to do all sorts of
activities and stayed at an RAF camp in England.

It broadened my experience of life and I'm a firm believer
of availing of all of the opportunities given to you.

I spent over a year in rehabilitation at the Disabled
Living Centre of the Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast. I
was allowed out at the weekend, but I found it quite
tiresome because there were so many steps in my family
home. There was no assistance offered to adjust the house
to fit my needs and we had to move to a bigger house so
that I could have a downstairs bedroom.

My first set of artificial legs were called 'rockers'.
Basically, they were two pylons made of metal attached to a
curved piece of wood, just like you would find on a rocking

The pylons were strapped to your stumps and you stood
upright on the walker and waddled about like a duck. You
wouldn't need to be vain, or you would never use them.

One of the first events I went to when I was released from
hospital was a Roy Orbison concert. The security staff said
I wasn't allowed to enter in my wheelchair because I was a
fire hazard. My friends had to help me out of my wheelchair
and into an ordinary chair and carry me up the stairs to my
seat and transfer me out of the chair into my allocated

That incident made me realise that I would always be coming
up against obstacles in life, and it was really up to me
what way I dealt with them.

I always made sure that I was well prepared in future, so
that I would not encounter any problems because of my

I married my former wife, Aine, in December 1981 and we
went on to have four children: Christina (24), Ryan (20),
Orlagh (17) and Niamh (16).

Unfortunately, the marriage didn't survive and we separated
in the summer of 1999. To me, that was an even more
harrowing experience than the explosion. The limb loss I
could come to terms with, but this was the loss of a family

Something that seems to have gone unnoted is the emotional
toll of the Troubles on relationships, and the number of
divorces that have resulted because of them. I don't think
that has ever been accounted for.

When you have suffered something like I did, there is a
huge emotional aftermath to deal with. The only time I saw
a psychotherapist was when I was being assessed for
compensation. There was no counselling, no support, no
guidance. You had to fend for yourself.

When I was in hospital after the explosion a male nurse
gave me a copy of Alf McCreary's book, Survivors. (Alf is
the religion correspondent for the Belfast Telegraph.) It
was very helpful to me when I was recovering ... the words
in that book were really the only emotional support that I

I don't consider myself a victim - I know I am very lucky
to be alive. The victims are those who are no longer with
us, who died as a result of the violence, and the loved
ones left mourning them.

I requested a meeting with Bertha McDougall, the interim
Victims Commissioner, last year because I had been made
aware that she wanted to talk to individuals and hear their
experiences. There were many issues that I wanted to raise
with her.

My experience was of a lack of structure and co-ordination
from the statutory bodies in dealing with victims.

As a result of my marriage break-up, for example, I needed
the statutory services to assist with the provision of
housing, but I was rehoused in an area that was totally

I had been caught up in a loyalist attack, but they
rehoused me in a loyalist area! I had some lovely
neighbours, but there were a few in the area who obviously
had a problem with me being there.

A few mornings, I woke up to discover a mock device in my
front garden. I would break out in cold sweats at night
with the fear of what might happen.

Then, there were the financial implications. At first, I
was self-employed and worked in sound engineering, managing
bands including Brian Kennedy and his brother Bap when they
were starting out in the early 80s with a band called Ten
Past Seven.

But, because I needed a more stable income, I went on to
work for 13 years at Antrim Community Enterprises, trying
to improve community infrastructures and chairing statutory
committees concerning the employment of disabled people.

At present, I'm involved in a voluntary capacity in a
community project - the Glengormley Amateur Boxing Club and
Community Fitness Centre - based on the site of my old
youth club.

Through the WAVE Trauma Centre, I receive alternative
therapies. I also try to use art and music to express
myself and have written a song for peace called Stop.

WAVE acknowledges the therapeutic values of art in its many
forms and it's through music that I have found the greatest
healing. And the messages contained in all art forms
utilised by victims may well be of benefit to our society
as a whole, as they heal and reconcile.

In 2000, I received an MBE for services to employment
opportunities. I accepted the award because, to me, it was
an acknowledgement that I hadn't let my disability get in
the way of living and that I was making a positive
contribution to the reconciliation of our society.

For far too long, an abundance of talent from this country
emigrated, never too return. Now, the young people are
staying and it's up to us to do our best to keep them here.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life is
to see the person first, not their disability. That
philosophy should also be applied to the divisions here, so
that we see the human being first and not their religion.

It has been said that it will require the same length of
time that the conflict went on for healing to occur. If the
conflict remains ongoing through our political divisions,
then the healing process will inevitably take longer.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Pain Never Ends For The Victims

[Published: Tuesday 13, February 2007 - 11:35]

Every combination of family and personal relationships has
been touched by the wave of death and destruction that has
dominated Northern Ireland for what is now four
generations, says Chris Ryder

I have a friend who lost his leg in an explosion in 1976.
He has long since adapted to the loss of mobility, but what
is far more troubling for him is the unremitting pain he
has suffered on every one of the 3,650 days and nights

Sometimes it is tolerable, at other times unbearable,
defeating even the most potent painkillers that his doctor
can prescribe.

What is equally difficult for him to come to terms with is
who singled him out for attack and why.

On the night of the incident, he came out of a city centre
pub in Belfast and, as he drove away, a small explosive
device hidden under the front wheel-arch of his car
detonated, severing his leg. If it had not been for the
prompt attention of a nearby soldier, who staunched his
bleeding limb, he would have died at the scene.

The device itself yielded no clues about the identity of
the bomber or motive. No individual or organisation has
ever admitted responsibility for the attack and, as far as
he knows, no one has ever been questioned about it or
charged. My friend therefore suffers on in ignorance and
dignified silence.

There are many, many other victims like him throughout
these islands who nurse the mental and physical scars of
The Troubles in similarly discreet circumstances. Widows
grieve privately for murdered husbands. Sons and daughters
silently mourn a parent they never knew. Parents quietly
regret the unfulfilled life of an offspring.

Every combination of family and personal relationships has
been touched by the wave of death and destruction that has
dominated Northern Ireland for what is now four

There are other wounds. People who survived the conflict,
like the man I know, are now living with the consequences
of trauma and serious injury, the effects now often
aggravated by age.

In many of these cases, the survivors and the dependents
are also living in straitened financial circumstances
thanks to parsimonious compensation payments, especially in
the early years, and the increasing cost of coping with
physical and emotional frailty.

Many of these silent victims - and they come from every
spectrum of the conflict - share another important
disadvantage in that they have been denied the right to
justice because nobody has been tracked down and imprisoned
for killing their loved ones or maiming them. With some
two-thirds of Troubles murders officially unsolved, a large
number of people are affected.

More hurtfully, in many cases, the injured party knows who
was responsible and in small, tightly knit communities may
even encounter the gunman or bomber in a shop or on the

Stunned by grief and crippled by the lack of access to
frequently well resourced and articulate pressure groups,
they are now having to endure renewed torment and anguish
as second-class victims while the bandwagon to unravel the
'truth' about the past gathers ever increasing momentum.

What is most appalling about this ever more cacophonous
phenomenon is its selectivity. The primary target appears
to be former members of the security forces. The Police
Ombudsman has spent some œ42m investigating past
transgressions by the police. For nearly a decade the
Bloody Sunday Tribunal has been reconstructing the Army's
role in Londonderry on January 30, 1972, when 13 people
were shot dead, and racked up costs approaching œ200m.

Although they have yet to begin what will undoubtedly be
protracted public hearings, other tribunals into notable
cause celebres, such as the murder of Billy Wright, have
already cost œ20m and if the 'truth' campaigners have their
way, the number of inquisitions will not halt there.

Many atrocities

It is, however, notable that there is virtually no pressure
on, for instance, Sinn Fein to account in similarly
rigorous judicial circumstances for the excesses of the IRA
on occasions such as Bloody Friday or the Shankill fish
shop bombing.

Equally, loyalists are not under serious pressure to atone
for and explain their many atrocities.

The only note of balance is being struck by the police who
have established a historical enquiries team to review each
of the unsolved murders, whoever the likely perpetrator,
but despite the advance of forensic technology, there can
be little optimism that this work, seriously compromised as
it by the lapse of time, will greatly impact on the vast
legacy of hurt, grief, frustration and injustice that has
flowed from the years of conflict.

All of this highly selective picking at the scabs of the
past and the enormous cost involved, creating as it does a
hierarchy of victimhood, might be justified if the outcomes
of the various investigations would, in the fashionable
term, bring closure or contribute to a new beginning in our
deeply divided society. It is already clear they will not.

Hard question

Despite the thoroughness with which the Bloody Sunday
Tribunal has probed the minutiae of that event, its
eventual verdict will only generate fresh controversy.
There will be demands for prosecution of the soldiers
concerned and some people will never disown the notion that
the Army action was entirely justified anyway.

Therefore, we should ask a hard question of ourselves.
Would it not be a better outcome to declare a general
amnesty and draw a veil over one of the most shameful and
self-destructive periods in our history? We cannot change
the past but we can influence the future.

Would it not be a better option, therefore, to apply the
vast sums of money being demanded for a 'truth process' to
directly benefiting the relatives of the victims and the
survivors? We should, without limit or qualification,
provide them with additional compensation, pain relief,
psychiatric and respite care - everything that money can
buy to meet their needs and ease their plight.

It will not, of course, restore their loved one, or their
health, but it will tangibly mark our communal disapproval
of the violent process that injured them.

That is a debt we should and must pay to all those

There will clearly be individual injustices in such a
sweeping approach, and it will not be easy to shut down and
overcome the deep-seated resentments and grievances that
help perpetuate the deep divide in our troubled society.

Although the level of actual violence has subsided, hatred
still persists to the point where even public hangings
might not satisfy the bloodlust.

But if we take care of those who have been hurt the hardest
as generously as we can, it might help ignite the spark
that would lead us from concepts of revenge to a measure of
reconciliation and enable us to move along the path towards
creating a more stable, united and tolerant community.

Whatever its inherent flaws, such a process is surely a
more positive option than an endless period reliving the
years of conflict in courtrooms at great public expense,
aggravating raw wounds afresh and, most dangerously of all,
perhaps inspiring yet another generation to resort to
politically motivated violence.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Fugitives Must Not Be Allowed To Evade Justice

[Published: Monday 12, February 2007 - 11:07]

The report in the Belfast Telegraph that a total of 14
prisoners are currently on the run in Northern Ireland is a
disturbing enough disclosure in itself. But to make matters
worse, it has now emerged that the fugitives concerned are
to face no additional punishment if and when they are

The prisoners were among those who had been granted home
leave as they approached the end of their sentences - a
term already reduced in most cases because they benefited
from the soon to be redundant 50% remission rule.

The absconders identified by this newspaper all failed to
report back to prison as arranged, and some have now been
missing for more than six years. While some of them had
been jailed for motoring offences, others had been serving
time for serious crimes such as armed robbery.

Although the inmates were deemed suitable for home leave,
the fact that they are now on the loose will fuel public
concern about what many people see as a breakdown in law
and order. Criminals who had not served their full
sentences have now vanished into thin air and the fear is
that, without access to social security benefits, they may
be tempted to re-offend.

That is one worry, but the fact that they will suffer no
further penalty if they are caught makes a mockery of the
legal system. When they are returned to jail, the clock
will simply be put back and all that will happen is that
they will be required to serve out the residue of their

In other words, a blind eye will be turned to the fact that
they decided to renege on the terms of their home leave.
Despite the fact that their actions required police to be
taken off other duties to search for them, they will simply
return to prison as if nothing had happened.

This is an affront to natural justice and it is to be hoped
that MP Nigel Dodds will be successful in his efforts to
secure a review of the current policy. As he says, there is
no deterrent to prisoners who decide to break the rules.

At the root of the problem lies an issue already exposed by
this newspaper. Prison governors are unable to punish
inmates by imposing loss of remission because this would
infringe their human rights, in that it would be contrary
to a European Court of Human Rights ruling.

The only remedy is for the police to lay new charges
against prisoners who have absconded. Strangely, such
powers are not utilised at present but there is a strong
argument for prosecutions to be pursued for the most
flagrant violations.

The danger is that the present lenient policy will further
undermine confidence in the prison system and add to the
worries of the law-abiding public. While the PSNI must
intensify its search for the fugitives, Mr Dodds must leave
no stone unturned in his quest for justice.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: A Bright New Dawn Sets Croke Alight

[Published: Tuesday 13, February 2007 - 10:55]

The dress rehearsal against France, at Dublin's Croke Park,
produced the wrong result for Ireland, in the end, but the
real premiere, against England in 11 days time, should be a
different matter.

Centuries of history will be encapsulated in a historic
contest between the Irish and the English at the ancestral
home of Gaelic sport and culture.

For those who were new to the 82,000-capacity stadium, in
person or on TV, the atmosphere at Croke Park was an eye-
opening experience. Not only did the biggest-ever Six
Nations championship crowd - double the usual number at
Lansdowne Road - enjoy a pulsating game, in one of Europe's
best stadiums, but it was participating in a sporting
revolution, too. Irish sport was welcoming, for the first
time, a "foreign" game, which until recently was banned by
the GAA.

The origins of the separation between Gaelic and other
sports go back many years, and are deeply entwined in
history and politics. It was natural for the GAA to set
itself apart, to compete with international sports like
football and rugby, but the combination of better political
relations and urgent sporting necessity has opened new
doors. The Republic is now much more of an equal partner,
in its many dealings with the United Kingdom, and the
closure of the Lansdowne Road ground, for reconstruction,
forced the GAA to choose between lucrative letting
arrangements with the rugby and football authorities, or
the unthinkable alternative of international games being
played in Britain.

Everyone was a winner, last Saturday, apart from what
happened on the pitch, and the world saw for itself the
strides that the Republic has made in recent years. The
luxurious facilities at Croke Park are matched by the new
roads, the new trams and the booming financial district,
along the Liffey. Dublin has acquired a reputation as a
world beater in tourism, business and music.

There are still many problems, of course, affecting the
UK's relations with the Republic, most involving Northern
Ireland and its troubled politics. Valuable work is being
done behind the scenes - even suggesting that a visit by
the Queen to Dublin may soon be possible - and the
speculation that Peter Hain may lay a wreath and apologise
for a 1920 atrocity at Croke Park should not arouse undue

The killing by British auxiliaries of 13 people, as revenge
for IRA murders, was inexcusable _ though once a nation
like the UK starts apologising, where does it end, and when
do the reciprocal apologies begin? The staging of the
England game in Croke Park, where Hill 16 was built on the
rubble of 1916, shows it is time to move on.

c Belfast Telegraph


St. Patrick's Day Parade Finds New Home In Ferndale

By Michael P. McConnell
Daily Tribune Staff Writer

FERNDALE -- After six years in Royal Oak, organizers of the
annual St. Patrick's Day Parade decided to bring the luck
of the Irish to Ferndale.

Steve Zannetti, parade chairman with the Ancient Order of
Hibernians Norman O'Brien Division, said Ferndale is, well,
friendlier than Royal Oak.

"The businesses in Ferndale are behind us and really seem
to want us," said Zannetti, who is Irish on his mother's

He added that Royal Oak business owners were reluctant to
donate money to the non-profit event compared to those in
Ferndale. The event benefits Promise Village which helps
disadvantaged youth.

"Probably in the past six years we got $200 from Royal Oak
businesses," Zannetti said. "We've gotten more than that in
donations from Ferndale businesses in the past two weeks."

He said that though he liked the Royal Oak city officials
and departments that helped them, the parade will get more
support in Ferndale.

Parade organizers ask businesses for small donations to
help defray the cost of paying for police and other city
department services associated with the parade.

"It was a hard decision to leave because we liked Royal
Oak," Zannetti said.

This year the event is named the Oakland County St.
Patrick's Day Parade.

The parade typically draws from 5,000 to 6,000 people, and
that will benefit downtown businesses in Ferndale, said
Cristina Sheppard-Decius, the city's downtown manager.

"During the late winter there is not much going on in the
downtown," she said. "This will bring a lot of people
downtown and be good for our businesses."

The City Council on Monday night approved the special

Councilman Mike Lennon is a member of the Ancient Order of

The parade will be held on Saturday, March 10, the weekend
before St. Patrick's Day.

About 300 marchers are expected, with eight towed floats,
eight self-propelled vehicles, two dog units and two piper

The parade will start at 11 a.m. and march north from St.
James Catholic Church at Pearson and Woodward to Nine Mile
Road and west to Livernois.

The event is expected to end about 1 p.m.

"I think the parade will be bigger in Ferndale," Zannetti

Zannetti told council members Monday that the parade is a
family event.

"We don't allow drinking on the (parade) route," he said.

Organizers have also sent out 200 applications to Ferndale
community groups, residents and business owners who may
want to participate in the parade.

The cost is $25 for those who wish to enter a float in the
parade and $5 each for marchers.

"We don't allow political statements at all" among parade
participants, Zannetti said. "We want to make (the parade)
as big as the one in Detroit."

Applications to participate in the parade are available
online at, or by calling (248)

Contact Michael P. McConnell at or at (248) 571-2571.


Nun To Lead Mount Kisco St. Patrick's Day Parade

By Sean Gorman
The Journal News
(Original publication: February 12, 2007)

MOUNT KISCO - When Sister Gabrielle Corbally was
interviewed last Tuesday, she was quick to say she could
only talk for a brief time because she had to drive a
senior citizen to a hair appointment.

The night before, Corbally had given several homeless men a
ride from the Mount Kisco police station to the Lutheran
Church of the Resurrection at Main Street and South Bedford
Road, one of the local churches that provide shelter from
the bitter winter weather.

Corbally's volunteering spirit has been noticed by the
Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 16, which has
selected the nun as the grand marshal in Mount Kisco's
annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

"She represents best what the AOH stands for, and that's
Christian charity, unity, friendship," AOH President Dana
John Hickey said last week.

Corbally, the director of religious education at St.
Francis of Assisi Catholic church in Mount Kisco, was
installed as grand marshal in a ceremony yesterday at the
American Legion.

About three years ago, Corbally founded Green Street
Bridge, a five-week summer program that provides reading,
writing, math, art and music classes to about 45 Hispanic
school children in the village.

The program, offered to low-income children in first
through fifth grade, also takes them on field trips
throughout the region, including to the Metropolitan Museum
of Art in Manhattan and the Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn.

"The programs in the (village's) recreation department are
wonderful, but they fill up. There are only so many
sessions they can have," Corbally said last week. "I think
we provide a real service. It's more than baby-sitting. ...
It's educational and recreational."

Corbally, 71, was born in Yonkers and raised in Plainfield,
N.J. In 1953, she joined the Religious of the Sacred Heart
of Mary, a congregation of Roman Catholic nuns based in

She went on to teach English, French and religion in
Richmond, Va., Paris, and Rolling Meadows, Ill., just
outside Chicago.

She also was a corporate trainer for AT&T for seven years
before moving to Mount Kisco in 1993.

Corbally also volunteers for the Emergency Shelter
Partnership, a coalition of churches and synagogues in
northern Westchester that open their doors to the homeless
during the winter.

"It seems to me if we don't give the example of helping
those who are really down and out, we can't call ourself a
church," Corbally said.

The Rev. Paul Alcorn, pastor of the Bedford Presbyterian
Church in Bedford Village, said Corbally has helped
mobilize her parish to assist the partnership.

"She has been a wonderful help. A great support," said
Alcorn, one of the organizers of the shelter partnership.
"It's one of 100 things she does to make a difference."

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, a group of Roman Catholics
who cherish their Irish heritage, picks a grand marshal
every year for their annual parade, which steps off at 2
p.m. March 10 at the corner of Main Street and Moore

Corbally, whose grandparents come from Sligo and Limerick
in Ireland, said the grand marshal honor came as somewhat
of a surprise.

After all, she said, there are lots of people in the Mount
Kisco area who deserve the title.

"It's a humbling experience," she said.

Reach Sean Gorman at or 914-666-6481.

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