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March 09, 2007

Blair & Ahern: Voters Giving Clear Message

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 03/09/07 Blair & Ahern: NI Voters 'Giving Clear Message'
BT 03/09/07 DUP And Sinn Fein Hold Onto Their Votes
BT 03/09/07 South Down: Sinn Fein Shake Off Lethargy To Celebrate
BT 03/09/07 BT Election 07 Blog 12:46
BT 03/09/07 Election Success Story For Females
BT 03/09/07 Inquest Opens On UUP's Slump In Voting
BT 03/09/07 Dramatic Arrest Of Pair Over 1981 Murder Bid
IV 03/09/07 Family Finally Reunites – After 9 Years
BB 03/09/07 IRA 'Collusion' Inquiry Launched
BT 03/09/07 Woman Ends Hunger Strike Over £26m Bank Robbery
BT 03/09/07 Opin: A Clear Vote For An End To Direct Rule


Blair & Ahern: NI Voters 'Giving Clear Message'

Voters in Northern Ireland have issued a clear message they want
devolved government back, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern have said
in a joint statement.

As a second day of counting got under way, the premiers said:
"Restoration of the devolved institutions represents an
opportunity of historic proportions."

The DUP and Sinn Fein have taken more than half the first
preference votes between them in the assembly election.

About two thirds of the 108 seats have so far been decided.

The DUP got 30.1% of first preferences - up 4.4% from 2003 -
while Sinn Fein got 26.2%, up 2.6%.

Almost 250 candidates were standing in 18 constituencies in the
proportional representation election.

The leaders of the four main parties were all returned, the DUP's
Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams topping the polls in
North Antrim and West Belfast respectively.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan was elected on the first count at Foyle,
but UUP leader Sir Reg Empey had to wait to the third stage
before being returned in East Belfast.

In third place in first preferences, the SDLP received 15.2% of
first preferences, the Ulster Unionists 14.9% and Alliance 5.2%.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said it was now up to the
parties to decide whether they would sign up to power sharing by
the 26 March deadline.

"I have no discretion on the 26 March situation. Either there is
devolution and a power sharing executive in place or it falls
away," he said.

"What would be the message to the electorate who have just said
on the doorstep and in the polling station, they want their local
politicians to deal with issues like water charges soon to come
into place?"

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey said the results, so far, had been
disappointing for his party, but that their aim remained a
"functioning, devolved Stormont".

Gerry Adams said those who voted did so to see Northern Ireland's
institutions working and "those against that have their answer,
it seems, in fairly overwhelming terms".

Ian Paisley said Sinn Fein had to "turn from their evil ways".

Mark Durkan said: "We have held up our vote. Let's wait until the
count is over, we will see how it stacks up."

In South Belfast the first person from an ethnic minority
background was elected to the assembly. Anna Lo, a member of the
Chinese community, won a seat for the Alliance Party.

In West Belfast Sinn Fein took five seats and the SDLP one, with
the DUP's Diane Dodds losing her seat. PUP leader Dawn Purvis
retained her party's only seat in East Belfast.

In East Antrim the area's MP, Sammy Wilson, topped the poll for
the DUP with 6,755 first preference votes.

In South Antrim Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin topped the poll
with 6,313 votes.

Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP was returned in South Belfast and
Naomi Long of Alliance was elected in East Belfast.

In North Belfast the DUP's Nigel Dodds topped the poll with 6,973
votes and Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly was elected in
the second spot with 5,414 votes.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since October
2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont. A
subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place
since that date.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/09 10:22:10 GMT


DUP And Sinn Fein Hold Onto Their Votes

[Published: Friday 9, March 2007 - 11:01]
By Gary Grattan

Just a week ago an exclusive poll in the Belfast Telegraph showed
that both the DUP and Sinn Fein were holding onto their
electorates, despite recent moves on policing and towards power-

Of those who indicated their intentions in the Ipsos-MORI poll,
25% said they would vote for the DUP and 22% for Sinn Fein -
revealing the two parties respective support bases did not appear
to be fragmenting.

Today, as results from the various count centres continued to
come in, the two parties' vote has held up as predicted.

The DUP is in a stronger position than ever, having jumped to a
30.1% share of the vote - an increase of 4.4% on the last
election in 2003. That had equated to 25 seats - two more than
their previous showing.

It was a similar scenario in the Sinn Fein camp, with the party
currently enjoying a 26.2% vote share - an increase of 2.6% -
securing 24 seats so far, again two more than previously.

The poll revealed that the Ulster Unionists could expect a 16%
share of the vote. This prediction was quite accurate, as Sir Reg
Empey's party had this morning slumped to just a 14.9% vote share
- down 7.7% on their previous showing. Today the UUP had secured
just nine seats - down four.

The SDLP was expected to get a 20% share of the vote. But today
the figure, with results still to come in, was just 15.2% - down
1.8%. Today the party had secured 10 seats - down one.

The poll forecast that the Alliance Party would have a 9% vote
share - doubling its performance in recent elections. Today David
Ford's party had a 5.2% vote share - up 1.6% on 2003. This
morning they had bagged three seats - up one.

c Belfast Telegraph


South Down: Sinn Fein Shake Off Lethargy To Celebrate

[Published: Friday 9, March 2007 - 00:48]
By Deborah McAleese

Excited anticipation and good humoured chatter turned to yawns
and lethargy in South Down as it became the last constituency in
Northern Ireland to elect an MLA.

Counting continued into the night at Lagan Valley Leisure Centre
as the votes drift in barely raising the number of votes for the
top first count candidates to reach their needed quota.

Some candidates and their supporters found a quiet spot for a
rest in the early evening after news circulated that counting was
not going to stop until all MLAs were voted in, to the annoyance
of some counting staff who had been there from early morning.

The mood shifted back to excitement when finally at 9:30pm Sinn
Fein Caitriona Ruane was the first MLA to be elected, to loud
cheers. One hour later her party colleague Willie Clarke was also
voted in after increasing his personal vote by more than 1,000.

It is understood that Sinn Fein outpolled the SDLP two to one in
the Castlewellan, Newcastle and Dundrum areas so it was a
triumphant republican party that left the count centre last night
having increased its vote by around 15% from the 2003 elections.

"Our aim is not about topping the poll but about getting our
candidates elected" said Ms Ruane.

She added: "I am delighted by how things have gone and would like
to thank the people for having confidence in Sinn Fein; the job
now is getting the institutions up and running."

The grand old man of SDLP politics Eddie McGrady appeared relaxed
as he arrived at the count in early afternoon. He looked pleased
when it emerged that his party secured the highest amount of
votes. Even though their vote has slipped since 2003 it remained
the biggest party in the area.

He smiled and nodded as Margaret Ritchie and PJ Bradley were
voted in, both securing increased personal votes.

Ms Ritchie said: "I am very pleased with my personal vote, having
increased by 1,600 and by the fact the SDLP is still the largest
party in South Down.

"We now need to get working on the issues that the people keep
telling us about."

The DUP's Jim Wells had been fairly confident from early morning
that he had retained his seat. A buoyant Mr Wells was one of the
first to arrive at the count and was happy to admit he believed
he was safe even as the count had barely begun.

"I am delighted the party vote is well up, a lot of hard work has
gone into achieving this," he said.

However, he had to wait until almost midnight for his seat to be

The main talk of the day was whether the DUP would grab a second
seat or if it would stay with the UUP.

First time candidate John McAllister of the Ulster Unionists was
nervous as he arrived at the count yesterday morning. Mr
McAllister was standing in place of former Environment Minister
Dermot Nesbitt.

Early yesterday he was neck and neck with the DUP's William Burns
but by the second count he began to feel more confident. However,
it wasn't until he was officially elected at the eleventh stage
early this morning that he began to celebrate.

He said: "I knew the seat was achievable but the DUP ran two
candidates so I couldn't be totally sure. I am delighted to be
able to come in at this level and I am ready to work hard for all
the people in South Down.

c Belfast Telegraph


Election 07 Blog 12:46

Thursday, March 09, 2007

On the election trail
with our political correspondents
Chris Thornton & Noel McAdam

9 Mar 07, 12.46
Lessons for the future. Ostensibily both Ulster Unionists and the
SDLP came a cropper in some constituencies by fielding too many
candidates. In Upper Bann it is looking like that could cost the
party its second seat, with votes and transfers fairly evenly
dividing between George Savage and Arnold Hatch. Over filling the
field might also have harmed the SDLP in North Antrim and West
Tyrone. Questions will be asked. NMcA

9 Mar 07, 11:51
It took a man called Cubitt to keep the DUP at arms length. As a
Biblical scholar, Dr Paisley will appreciate the irony. In the
Bible a cubitt is a measurement, usually thought of as the length
of a forearm. And it was Limavady councillor Leslie Cupitt, a
former DUP member, who disarmingly robbed the DUP of an extra
seat in Mr Paisley's North Antrim heartland. The Ballymoney man
turned in the most successful performance of the United Kingdom
Unionist candidates, coming ahead of even its leader Bob
McCartney and achieved the only dent in DUP fortunes.

9 Mar 07, 11:43
"There's not a sliver of doubt. No one should be in any doubt
that both the Prime Ministers are absolutely fixed on March 26".
That was the message being stressed by Tony Blair's spokesman
after the PMs meeting with Taosieach Bertie Ahern on the fringes
of the European Council meeting in Brussels this morning, Another
Northern Ireland Office source also held up the prospect of yet
another election. "One thing that is being missed in all of this
is that if things do go down on March 26 to get them back up
again will require another election," the source said. The
problem is that privately even some senior Sinn Fein sources
believe the DUP will bust the March 26 deadline I"We won't like
it," one senior Sinn Fein figure said, "but we can live with it."
Instead they expect a final devolution deal by May. NMcA

9 Mar 07, 11:39
Reports from the wilds of East Antrim say the Ulster Unionists
are getting concerned about history repeating itself. In 1998 an
improbable transfer scenario gave the SDLP's Danny O'Connor a
seat, which he lost in 2003. O'Connor's chances are still slim,
but the UUs are concerned that they carved up their vote too
finely among three candidates, and that Sinn Fein transfers could
put O'Connor ahead of their second candidate.CT

9 Mar 07, 11:18
The settling dust reveals that the DUP still have a way to go
with vote management. Peter Robinson handled it well in East
Belfast but Jeffrey Donaldson in Lagan Valley and Nigel Dodds in
North Belfast ate up too many votes - costing the DUP the chance
to slip in with extra seats. Donaldson had a surplus of 3,000
votes - if he'd been able to distribute 1,000 to each of his
three running mates, they could have squeezed out Alliance. CT

9 Mar 07, 10:51
Brian Wilson is still on course to win the Greens' first seat.
The former Alliance member has a secret life as a lecturer: he is
responsible for teaching a generation of reporters, including
yours truly, about the PR system and the single transferable
vote. So if you any complaints about the reporting of this
election, take it up at Stormont.

9 Mar 07, 10:19
Who's going to be Speaker out of this lot? Eileen Bell is
returning to herd cats over the next couple of weeks, but if we
get to the point of devolution she will have to be replaced (she
didn't run again). Alliance say they won't be putting up one of
their seven for the job. The DUP and Sinn Fein probably cancel
each other out, so who's left? Dawn Purvis? I've a notion it
could be an Ulster Unionist but no names come to mind. CT

9 Mar 07, 09:16
The Ulster Unionist inquest has begun. Veteran party member and
speech writer Alex Kane reckons Sir Reg Empey's party has reched
a tipping point and needs "some emergency surgery". He said the
party needs massive internal reforms and to be run from the
centre. Otherwise, he warned, the party will disappear. Some have
privately voiced fears there will be further defections to the
DUP.But David Burnside said: "I don't see that happening." NMcA


Election Success Story For Females

[Published: Friday 9, March 2007 - 10:50]
By Maureen Coleman

If the Assembly resumes later this month, there'll be a few new
female faces taking their seats at Stormont.

It's been a successful election for the women of Northern Ireland
politics, with newcomers to the mix joining Iris Robinson of the
DUP, Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew and Naomi Long of the
Alliance Party.

The latter set the precedent yesterday, on International Women's
Day, for the female cause - the first woman of the day to be
elected, with almost double her vote.

The East Belfast MLA was in jubilant form as she polled 5,583
first preference votes - a mere 52 votes behind Peter Robinson.

Mrs Long, the deputy leader of the Alliance Party, was also one
of the first to congratulate party colleague Anna Lo, when she
was deemed elected in the South Belfast constituency.

Not only was her election a boost for Northern Ireland's female
politicians, but a major coup for the ethnic minorities in the

Born in Hong Kong, Ms Lo, chief executive of the Chinese Welfare
Association, became the first Chinese politician elected to any
UK Assembly or parliament.

Another new face is the PUP's Dawn Purvis, who retained the seat
formerly held by the late David Ervine.

Ms Purvis increased her party's percentage of the vote in the
east of the city.

And Sinn Fein - a party which actively promotes the rise of women
in politics - added a number of fresh faces to any future
Assembly, including Michelle O'Neill in Mid Ulster, Caral Ni
Chuilin in North Belfast, Claire McGill in West Tyrone and
Jennifer McCann in West Belfast.

So far, they join Catriona Ruane of Sinn Fein, Margaret Ritchie
of the SDLP, the DUP's Iris Robinson, Sue Ramsay and Michelle
Gildernnew of Sinn Fein.

c Belfast Telegraph


Inquest Opens On UUP's Slump In Voting

[Published: Friday 9, March 2007 - 11:04]
By Noel McAdam

The inquest into the Ulster Unionist Party's poor performance in
the Assembly election was under way today. But the leadership
position of Sir Reg Empey was not immediately being called into

Veteran party member and speech writer Alex Kane said the party
needed massive internal reforms or was in danger of disappearing.

"It is clear the party has reached a tipping point and needs
emergency surgery if it is to get back on its feet again," the
senior branch official added.

The party saw a 7.7% slump from their vote in the last Assembly
elections in November, 2003 with several senior members,
including Billy Bell in Lagan Valley and Esmond Birnie in South
Belfast, losing their seats.

One of the party's success stories from yesterday, newcomer MLA
Basil McCrea from Lagan Valley, said however: "I don't think
there is any question over Sir Reg's leadership."

He said the problem was that the unionist electorate's main
concern was the fear that Sinn Fein could take the First
Ministers position.

Senior member David Burnside, while admitting the party's results
had been " disappointing", rejected fears of further defections
to the DUP.

"The Ulster Unionist Party will survive and will have a
substantial number of seats in the Assembly," he said.

Support for the UUP has dropped by 53,000 votes since the last
Assembly elections just prior to the defections of Jeffrey
Donaldson, Arlene Foster and Norah Beare to the DUP.

"I can see no sign of that at all," Mr Burnside said.

"The big decisions still have to be made by the DUP.

"I think the Government will be prepared to fudge things for a
few weeks beyond (the devolution deadline of) March 26 but they
will not allow things to be stretched into the autumn."

Mr Burnside said that he had expected his party's performance
would hold at around the level of the last Westminster election
in November 2005, when it slipped below 18%.

c Belfast Telegraph


Dramatic Arrest Of Pair Over 1981 Murder Bid

[Published: Friday 9, March 2007 - 08:51]
By Sarah Brett

Independent Republican candidate Gerry McGeough was arrested as
he left the Omagh count centre last night in connection with the
attempted murder of a UDR man in 1981.

Mr McGeough, a Sinn Fein defector and vocal critic of the party,
polled 814 votes in Fermanagh South Tyrone on an anti-policing

He was leaving the Omagh Leisure Centre when police arrested him
in the car park.

The PSNI said the operation was part of an investigation into
"serious terrorist crime".

Within the hour, the husband of Sinn Fein councillor Brenda
McAnespie had been arrested in Aughnacloy. According to police,
44-year-old Vincent McAnespie was also arrested in connection
with alleged terrorist offences.

Mr McGeough, a 46-year-old former hunger striker and vehement
pro-life activist and Mr McAnespie, whose brother Aidan was shot
dead by security forces, were being held at the Serious Crime
Suite in Antrim last night.

In a further twist, the former UDR man who was the victim of the
1981 shooting was also at the count centre in Omagh.

Sammy Brush, now a DUP councillor in Ballygawley, was shot
several times in the attack and said last night: "I've thought
about it every day since."

Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh, South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew and
Monaghan Sinn Fein councillor Brenda McAnespie described the
arrests as "a disgraceful stunt".

"Two of my constituents were arrested this evening," said Ms
Gildernew: "Gerry (McGeough) has been living openly in this
constituency for some time, he's a neighbour of mine, we live in
the same townland and he could have been arrested at any time.

"I believe this is a stunt and it is an example of political
policing and Gerry should be released immediately.

"Another constituent of mine was arrested in Aughnacloy. His
house was raided, his sister was assaulted and on the warrant it
said he was a dissident republican, which is absolutely not true.
He is an active member of this party.

"This is one of the worst examples of political policing and the
reason why we have to get rid of the people that are involved in
creating this kind of mayhem on the day of an election."

Brenda McAnespie told reporters her six children were traumatised
by the afternoon's events, adding: "I would like to congratulate
the thousands of Sinn Fein supporters who came out today to vote
for the party to end that type of policing."

The PSNI commented that it had been aware of Mr McGeough's
whereabouts for some time and had "acted as soon as was
operationally possible".

c Belfast Telegraph


Family Finally Reunites - After 9 Years

By April Drew

THE life of an Irish undocumented resident of the U.S.
unquestionably has its moments, but for Kildare native Brian
Hughes it's was "heartbreaking" and "gut wrenching" when he was
told over the phone 3,000 miles away that his mother had passed
away last July.

He was left with the unimaginable decision of "should I stay or
should I go." For Hughes his decision was practically made for
him as he received a ban from the US immigration nine years
earlier, and his life shared with his wife Irene was strongly
embedded in the Irish community in New York.

Brian's pain was felt far and wide in the community. As a result
the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) decided to pay
tribute to Brian's mother, Betty Hughes, by dedicating an award
in her honor to Joan Henchy at their dinner dance in Queens on
Friday, March 2.

When Irene got wind that there was going to be a dedication her
mind started to go into overdrive. She thought it would be
special to bring Brian's father over for the event, but quickly
put the thought out of her head once she called Jim Hughes,
Brian's father and invited him to join them.

"You see I didn't know I could come because my health wasn't
great," said Jim, a hearty 72-year-old.

He initially declined the offer because he was worried that
something would happen to him without notice. Four years ago Jim
was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a serious disorder
that occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks part
of the nervous system.

He soon went from being a tall hefty 189 pounds a mere 126
pounds. Jim lost all the power in his fingers and some muscles.
His nervous system shut down and the "GBH" as he calls it
affected his whole body.

"My tongue, my eyes and worst of all my swallow were affected. I
had to be fed through a feeding tube in my stomach," recalls Jim,
"so you can see why I didn't think I was going to make the
journey over."

But as the event drew nearer it played on Jim's mind, and one day
out of the blue Irene's cell phone rang and it was Jim's voice at
the end of the line, saying he wanted to make the journey to be
there beside his son when ILIR honored his wife.

"I didn't feel better but it was important to me to be there and
I certainly knew they couldn't postpone the event for me so I
agreed to come," he said.

Jim, elated that he made the journey over, described the event as
"the best night" of his life. He was extremely proud to stand
tall with his son and present the memorial award in honor of his
wonderful wife Betty.

Sitting snugly on his son's couch, Jim lifts his glass of wine
and catches the attention of his company and starts to describe
his wife.

"I was running after her for 10 years you know," he said to the
sound of laughter, and then he gets serious for a moment.

"She would love to be here now and talking with us," he said.
"She loved Shakespeare and could speak perfect Latin."

Brian nods in agreement and Irene adds to the compliments by
saying, "She was a lovely woman, how many words a minute could
she type?" she asked Jim.

"Oh, she was a wiz, it was nearly 120 if I remember," he said
admitting that he doesn't always remember everything since he
developed GBH.

There was a brief moment when everyone was lost in their memories
of Betty when Jim interrupted with, "You know what her favorite
place was in London, it was Harrods department store and the
funny part of the story is she would go in there all the time and
just walk the floors so one day I gave her money to buy herself
an outfit," remembers Jim, in a voice tight with emotion.

Jim, who flew first class on Delta to New York on Wednesday,
said, "You should have seen his face," referring to Brian's
shocked expression when he arrived home to find his father in his

Brian was out working in Coney Island and was late getting home.
"I walked in the door and couldn't believe my eyes," said Brian,
who never expected his father to come all the way from Ireland
because he was acutely aware of his fathers health issues.

"I got such a shock, we hadn't seen each other in nine years."

Mastermind of the operation Irene said she finally felt a weight
lifted off her shoulders when the son and father finally got to

"I knew this would mean so much to Brian to have his father here
with us for the ILIR dinner dance," she explained.

Brian, 36 and Irene, also 36, who met at Punchestown horse races
in 1991 in Dublin, were dating a few years when Irene phoned him
one day to say she was after winning a visa to come to the U.S.

"It was her dream ever since I met her to come here," remembers
Brian. "So I told her take it and go and she did."

Brian, who had been called for green card interviews on two
occasions prior to 1991 but never followed through with them,
eventually followed the love of his life to New York. The couple
soon fell into the Irish community and made a very happy life for
themselves this side of the Atlantic.

In 1998 a good friend of Brian's got married, and because it had
been a few years since he had seen his parents they decided to go
home together. After a whirlwind holiday the immigration
authorities at Dublin Airport pulled in Brian.

"I wouldn't admit to anything so they slapped me with a lifetime
ban," he said.

Irene heartbreakingly continued her journey to the U.S., not
knowing when she was going to see Brian again.

"I was numb, the tears were trickling down my face. I really
didn't know what to do and all of a sudden this lady said,
'Excuse me mam, I need to get into my seat,' Brian's seat, so I
knew then that he wasn't coming back," recalls Irene.

Two weeks later Brian came the only other route available to him
at the time over the Canadian border. On advice from a top
immigration attorney the couple wed on September 21, 2001 and
have since filed for an adjustment of status.

"Legalization needs to kick in before we can formally adjust his
status," clarifies Irene, who is now an American citizen. She
admits that they have put having a family and buying a house on
the long finger until they see some sort of immigration reform

Irene, who is free to travel, is the person that represents Brian
at the Hughes family functions and, more importantly, family

"It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life," said
Irene, speaking about boarding the plane to go home for Betty's

Brian, who feels he will always have a problem about not
attending his own mother's funeral, knew that he couldn't make
the journey and risk getting jail time. "I'll have to live with
it for the rest of my life but I had to think of my wife too," he
said touched by emotion.

"Jim is an amazing man," said Irene. "We've made a deal. Jim has
agreed to walk me up the aisle and give me to my mother," she
said, describing the wedding they hope to have in Ireland if an
immigration bill passes this year.

Jim left Brian and Irene on Tuesday afternoon in the hope of
seeing him soon. "I do hope that something will happen for Brian
and Irene so they can come home," said Jim sincerely.

Irene and Brian have vowed that if immigration reform doesn't
happen soon they will have little choice but to leave the U.S.

"We truly hope that it won't come to that," said Brian. "It would
kill me to think I missed my own mother's funeral for nothing."


IRA 'Collusion' Inquiry Launched

Vincent Kearney
BBC NI Home Affairs Correspondent

Claims of collusion between members of the IRA and the security
forces will be investigated by the Police Ombudsman.

Nuala O'Loan will initially look into six incidents over a 20-
year period.

It is thought that a number of IRA killers were protected from
prosecution because they were working as agents for Special
Branch and other agencies.

One line of inquiry will focus on Belfast man Freddie
Scappaticci, who was unmasked almost four years ago as an IRA
informer codenamed Stakeknife.

He was head of the IRA's notorious internal security unit, which
interrogated and killed those it decided were informers.

Three IRA members were shot dead by the unit in July 1992, and it
is claimed they were killed to protect another more high-ranking

'Informant' claims

The scope of the investigation could be expanded if there are
further credible allegations.

But Ms O'Loan said she was not yet labelling anyone as an

"On the republican side, the allegations are that there was
protection of republican criminals," she said.

"And in some cases the suggestion is that there was a republican
informant involved."

Investigators have already been in touch with the police - and
will soon be contacting the Army and intelligence agencies.

They will ask for information about some of the IRA agents
alleged to have been working for them.

The family of a man murdered by the IRA want his killing to be
included in Mrs O'Loan's investigation.

Anthony McKernan from the Markets area of Belfast was shot dead
by the IRA in January 1988.

The IRA said he was an informer, an allegation that Mr McKernan's
family has always denied.

They claim their father was one of those murdered to cover for

Speaking on the Nolan Show, Mr McKernan's daughter, Sharon
Murtagh, said they believed there was collusion in his killing.
"It would have been in the British interest to take my father out
because my father was a member of the IRA.

"He done jail, he was on the run, he was an alleged bomb maker
although he was never charged with anything in connection with

"Our theory is that it would be in their interests to take him
out. But we also feel that my father was under Freddie
Scappaticci and that they both colluded together to take him

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/03/09 11:43:33 GMT



Woman Ends Hunger Strike Over Link To œ26m Bank Robbery

[Published: Friday 9, March 2007 - 09:52]
By Noel McAdam

An Irish woman who went on hunger strike to clear her name over
the Northern Bank robbery has ended her fast - after five weeks
without food.

But Kathryn Nelson has vowed to continue her campaign to wrest an
official statement from the Irish government making it clear she
has no connection with the œ26m heist.

The former Kildare woman, now living on the Isle of Man, was
arrested and questioned by gardai investigating the robbery, but
was released without charge after day-long interviews.

But she claims the arrest and subsequent newspaper reports ruined
her reputation as an international go-between for business

"I am now destitute," she said. "But I am not giving up."

The 57-year-old began her fast - only taking water - in late
January but, as the Belfast Telegraph revealed, sustained a
rebuff by Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

In a written answer in the Dail, the Tanaiste said it would be
inappropriate to comment because Garda inquiries into "matters
relating" to the December 2004 robbery are continuing.

Responding to Galway TD Michael D Higgins, Mr McDowell said the
issue of further prosecutions in relation to the robbery remained
a matter for the DPP.

Mrs Nelson said she lost more than a stone over 38 days on hunger

"I am not very well," she said. "My kidneys, liver and bowel were
all in danger of not working. And I feel very shattered.

"But what is really annoying me is that people have been quite
savage with me."

It is now just over a year since Ms Nelson's ordeal began when
she was arrested while staying at the Ballymascanlon Hotel near
Dundalk and taken to the Garda station in Balbriggan.

She said she was questioned by two senior detective sergeants a
number of times over a 24-hour period and then released.

The arrest came after papers from her office, then based in
Sofia, Bulgaria, were found in premises linked to businessman
Phil Flynn, who was also questioned in relation to money-
laundering allegations.

"It is only with great reluctance that I have come off. I am a
strong woman, I am a long-distance swimmer and I have a good
constitution and I know I can recover," she said.

Ms Nelson says that she has no plans to resume her hunger strike.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: A Clear Vote For An End To Direct Rule

[Published: Friday 9, March 2007 - 10:22]

Although the final few seats in the new Assembly have still to be
filled, it is already clear which way the cookie has crumbled in
the election.

The two main power blocs of Northern Ireland politics, the DUP
and Sinn Fein, have consolidated their already dominant positions
within unionism and nationalism respectively.

As the Ipsos-MORI poll commissioned by the Belfast Telegraph
indicated, the strategies adopted by Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams
have paid off. Both leaders deserve credit for taking risks and
now they have reaped the electoral reward.

Mr Paisley has managed to convince the great majority of his
supporters that partnership with republicans is the way forward,
provided the terms are right. For his part, Mr Adams has brought
the bulk of his party's voters with him in his campaign for
support for the Police Service.

The upshot is that Northern Ireland is now on course for
negotiations which could and should produce a power-sharing
executive and result in the re-establishment of the Assembly. The
prospect is that direct rule will be put on hold and for the
first time in four and a half years, local politicians will take

The clear message from the electorate is that Northern Ireland
has had enough of remote control rule from Westminster. The
voters want to see the parties getting down to business.

Mr Paisley and Mr Adams have secured their mandates, but that is
only the first stage of the devolution process. Between now and
March 26 - two weeks from next Monday - the parties will be
engaged in detailed negotiations on the formation of an

Time is of the essence and the aim must be to meet the deadline
set by Peter Hain. It is understandable that the British and
Irish Governments should insist that they are not going to budge,
they must surely be prepared to show some flexibility should the
parties be on the brink of an accommodation.

Feverish activity can now be expected to take place behind the
scenes and the two main parties should have the confidence to
hold face-to-face negotiations. Arm's length discussions will be
no substitute for a genuine engagement, and the DUP should have
no hesitation now in taking that step.

The downside of this election is that Northern Ireland's
sectarian faultlines are now starker than ever. A gulf exists
between the DUP and Sinn Fein but they know that they only way
they can secure power is to agree to work together.

It is a tantalising prospect and one which would transform the
international image of Northern Ireland. The DUP and Sinn Fein
now hold the future of this province in their hands. They must
not be found wanting.

c Belfast Telegraph

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