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April 17, 2007

Charges Underline Serious Loyalist Threats

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 04/17/07 Charges 'Underline Serious Loyalist Threats'
SF 04/17/07 DPP Failing Prosecute Members Of The Crown Forces
BB 04/17/07 Trimble's Long-Term Tory Ambition
SF 04/17/07 Sinn Féin Confirm Committee Chairs And Vice Chairs
BT 04/17/07 Pearse Letter Sold To National Museum
IO 04/17/07 Two Questioned In Connection With Mortar Bomb Find
BT 04/17/07 Opin: Will This Dent America's Love Affair w/ Guns?
BN 04/17/07 Three Irish Students Unharmed In US Shooting
BT 04/17/07 Ulsterman 'Stunned' At Campus Slaughter
TU 04/17/07 Marking The End Of Irish 'Troubles'


Charges 'Underline Serious Loyalist Threats'

[Published: Tuesday 17, April 2007 - 09:06]
By Chris Thornton

Terror charges laid against a civilian police worker have
underlined the seriousness of recent loyalist threats, according
to a collusion campaigner who was told he is on a hit list.

PSNI clerk Aaron Hill (22) appeared in court accused of
misconduct in public office over a five-year period - including
illegally accessing material from police computers and having
information likely to be of use to terrorists.

Hill, of Mainebank, Randalstown, spoke only to confirm his
identity during a five-minute hearing at Belfast Magistrates
Court yesterday. He was remanded into custody until May 14.

The charges came after a police investigation into alleged UVF
activity in Co Antrim led to warnings to a number of

Sinn Fein called on the Government to make a "speedy and detailed
statement" about the matter.

Collusion campaigner Mark Thompson of victims' groups Relatives
for Justice - warned at the weekend of a "significant and
substantial" loyalist threat against his life - indicated that
the court case underlined the seriousness of the threats.

"I'm obviously concerned because I have five young children," he

But he said he would not be deterred from continuing his work
with the families of victims. "There's a murky underworld that
some people want to keep a lid on. We're not going to be
deflected. We're doing the right thing," he said.

But PUP leader Dawn Purvis insisted that the UVF has told her
there is no threat against Mr Thompson.

Last week, a police investigation into loyalist terrorism led to
charges against factory manager Darren Leslie Richardson (30) of
Moneynick Road, Randalstown.

He was accused of being a member of the UVF, possessing documents
likely to be of use to terrorists and possession of a quantity of
9mm ammunition.

In January, the Independent Monitoring Commission indicated it
had concerns about the UVF developing its intelligence gathering.

Sinn Fein policing spokesman Alex Maskey said the warnings issued
to nationalists became "even more serious" with the charges
against Mr Hill.

"The information so far given to those under threat is completely
inadequate. We need a speedy and detailed statement from Peter
Hain on this matter without further delay," he said.

c Belfast Telegraph


DPP Failing Prosecute Members Of The Crown Forces

Published: 17 April, 2007

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice issues Alex Maskey today said
that there was a clear problem within the Office of the DPP when
it came to prosecuting members of British State Forces who have
been involved in killing citizens here.

Mr Maskey said:

"There is a clear and obvious failure by the current Director of
Public Prosecutions Alistair Frazer to prosecute members of the
British Crown Forces who have been involved in killing citizens
in the six counties.

"In April 2003 the Stevens Report was published. John Stevens, at
the time Britain's leading police officer, confirmed that
collusion took place and recommended to the DPP the prosecution
of numerous members of Special Branch. Almost four years on the
Stevens file and recommendations sit on Alistair Frazer's desk.

"When the Police Ombudsman recently published her report
confirming widespread collusion between the Special Branch and
the UVF in Mount Vernon the DPP immediately blocked any
prosecutions of those responsible.

"Likewise yesterday in another Police Ombudsman Report it was
conformed that Paul Whitters a 15 year old Derry schoolboy was
killed by an RUC man firing a plastic bullet at his head from a
close distance. There was no proper

inquiry into this death. Again the DPP had recommended no
prosecution against the RUC member involved or those who carried
out the inquiry.

"It is fairly obvious to anyone looking rationally at the
performance of the DPP in these cases that there is a policy of
not prosecuting members of the Crown Forces involved in the
controversial deaths of citizens. This is

completely unacceptable and goes to the very heart of efforts to
build nationalist and republican confidence in the Criminal
Justice system." ENDS


Trimble's Long-Term Tory Ambition

Lord Trimble has been talking about his decision to join the

The former NI first minister, who led the Ulster Unionists for 10
years from 1995, said the move was part of a "long-term

He told the BBC Radio Ulster programme that it was something that
had been on his mind many times over the years.

"Now that Northern Ireland is settled, I'm free to follow what's
been an ambition for many years," said Lord Trimble - who became
a peer last June.

"I took this decision several months ago and held back the
implementation of it so that nothing could happen in the run up
to the election," he added.

"I am delighted to see the party come through a very serious
challenge in which a very serious attempt was made to destroy it
and I look forward to the party re-building."

The Nobel Laureate said the move would give his political career
a "wider horizon" but revealed that he did not want to "rush
into" taking on a shadow cabinet post.

I'm delighted to see the party come through a very serious
challenge in which a very serious attempt was made to destroy it
and I look forward to the party re-building

Lord Trimble

Tory leader David Cameron said it was not every day that you
could welcome a Nobel Peace Prize winner into your party.

Speaking outside Westminster, he said: "I am sure David Trimble
is going to bring a huge amount to our party in the House of
Lords - not just on the subject of Northern Ireland - but more
broadly on questions of security and terrorism and our
constitution and develolping the Conservative Party for the

Unionist movement

Lord Trimble won a Nobel Peace Prize, along with the SDLP's John
Hume, for his part in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

However, he stepped down as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party,
after losing his Westminster seat in Upper Bann in the 2005
general election.

In total, the Ulster Unionist Party lost four of its seats in
that poll.

It is thought the links between the unionist movement and the
Conservatives make it a natural transfer for Lord Trimble.

Sir Reg Empey, who succeeded Lord Trimble as Ulster Unionist
leader, paid tribute to him.

"I think this is a smart move. In the event of David Cameron
winning an election it would put somebody who really has the
interest of the Union at heart right in the centre of national
political life," said Sir Reg.

"Through his vision and commitment, David, along with others,
helped to transform politics here in Northern Ireland."

UUP peer Lord Rogan of lower Iveagh said Lord Trimble's decision
to become a Conservative peer was understandable and natural.

"There has been a long, historic tradition of Ulster Unionist
figures at Westminster co-operating with the Conservative Party,"
Lord Rogan said.

During a visit to Belfast last October, Conservative leader David
Cameron held the door open to Lord Trimble joining his party.

While the Tory leader denied there had been any discussion at
that time, he said: "David Trimble is a friend of the
Conservative Party.

A formal announcement by Lord Trimble is expected later on

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/17 10:03:50 GMT


Sinn Fein Confirm Committee Chairs And Vice Chairs

Published: 17 April, 2007

Sinn Fein Assembly Group leader John O'Dowd MLA has confirmed the
party nominations as Chairs and Vice Chairs of the various
Assembly Statutory and Standing Committees.

Commenting on the nominations Mr O'Dowd said:

"I am confident that we have a well-balanced and experienced team
MLA's who will scrutinise departmental decision making and ensure
that there is open and accountable government that benefits
everyone in our society. Our job is to make sure that there is
good decision making with the genuine participation and good
value for money. We need to look at how and why decisions have
been taken and ensure that all legislation, policy and financial
decisions are based on Equality.

"Sinn Fein will also look to expand and develop the all-Ireland
agenda, particularly to ensure that we get better delivery of
services and access in border areas and economies of scale that
can free up public expenditure." ENDS

Committee Chairs

:: West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff to chair the Culture, Arts and
Leisure Committee
:: South Antrim MLA Mitchel McLaughlin to chair the Finance and
Personnel Committee
:: West Belfast MLA Sue Ramsey to chair the Employment and Learning
:: Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd to chair the Public Accounts Committee

Committee Vice Chairs

:: Newly elected Newry Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan - Vice Chair of the
Environment Committee
:: Newly elected Mid Ulster MLA Michelle O'Neill - Vice Chair of the
Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee
:: Newly elected West Belfast MLA Paul Maskey - Vice Chair of the
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee
:: Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA Gerry McHugh - Vice Chair of the
Standards and Privileges Committee
:: Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney - Vice Chair of the Institutional
Review Committee
:: North Belfast MLA Car l N¡ Chuil¡n has also been confirmed as the
new Chief Whip.


Pearse Letter Sold To National Museum For Undisclosed Sum

[Published: Tuesday 17, April 2007 - 12:41]

One of the last letters written by 1916 rebel leader Padraig
Pearse has been sold to the National Museum for an undisclosed

The letter, written in Kilmainham Jail just hours before Pearse's
execution, was one of hundreds of Easter Rising-related items due
to go up for auction this evening.

However, the National Museum has stepped in to buy the document
before it could under hammer.

The auctioneers have hinted that it may have been sold for less
than the expected auction price of between ?80,000 and ?100,000.

Sinn Fein, meanwhile, has mounted a protest outside the auction
house in Dublin calling on the Government to ensure that the rest
of the artefacts remain in state hands.

c Belfast Telegraph


Two Questioned In Connection With Mortar Bomb Find

17/04/2007 - 08:46:13

Two men were being questioned by police today after a live mortar
bomb was found in the North.

The pair were arrested yesterday in Lurgan by detectives probing
the discovery of the bomb and launching tube close to a railway
line in the Co Armagh town.

The device was uncovered close to the Cornakinnegar Road last
week. Dissident republicans were believed to be behind a planned

The two suspects are being questioned at the Police Service of
Northern Ireland's Serious Crime Suite in Antrim.


Opin: Will This Terrible Day In Virginia Be Enough To Dent
America's Love Affair With Guns?

Rupert Cornwell
[Published: Tuesday 17, April 2007 - 08:41]

"A tragedy of monumental proportions" was how Charles Steger, the
president of Virginia Tech, described the slaughter at his
university yesterday, the worst campus mass shooting in US

But whether it is of sufficient proportion to dent America's love
affair with guns is quite another matter. Similar disbelief
followed other mass shootings in recent years - from the 24
people gunned down in a fast-food restaurant in the Texas town of
Killeen in October 1991, to the Columbine school massacre in
Colorado in 1999, to the five little girls shot dead at an Amish
school in Pennsylvania in October last year. But the practical
effect has been very little.

Gun control, along with abortion and same-sex marriage, has long
been one of the litmus test issues defining the debate in the US
between liberals and conservatives. Guns tend to be more common
and more entrenched in the culture of southern, central and
mountain states, which tend to vote Republican and where hunting
is a popular sport. Gun crime is rife in big cities on the east
coast too, which are invariably Democratic, but gun ownership
among the general population is notably less common.

The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, is one of
the most powerful in the US and gun owners are a constituency no
one wants to alienate. John Kerry, the thoroughly liberal
Democratic presidential nominee of 2004, was careful to have
himself pictured on a duck hunt in Ohio as that year's campaign
neared its climax.

Many of the Democrat gains in the 2006 midterm elections came
thanks to conservative candidates running in states traditionally
dominated by Republicans. Amusement, rather than shock, was the
general reaction earlier this year when an aide of Jim Webb, the
shock Democratic victor in the Virginia senate race last year,
was arrested when he was caught taking a gun owned by his boss
into the US Capitol building.

"I believe that wherever you see laws that allow people to carry
[weapons], generally the violence goes down," the strongly pro-
gun Mr Webb told reporters afterwards. To which the tens of
millions of US gun owners (by some calculations there are as many
guns as people in the country) would say, Amen.

The passionate feelings of the gun lobby may be traced to the
second amendment of the US Constitution, enshrining "the right of
the people to keep and bear arms". Although the provision stems
from the times when "well regulated militias" were deemed
necessary to protect against a British attempt to regain the lost
colonies, it is the default position of any argument against
greater gun control here.

As such, it has trumped every other consideration, not least the
fact that on any given day about 80 people are killed by
firearms, the vast majority by murder or suicide. Gun violence
may cost $2.3bn (œ1.2bn) each year in medical expenses, but it is
a price, gun supporters believe, that is worth paying to protect
a fundamental freedom.

Virginia's gun laws are fairly typical for what has been (until
recently) a reliably Republican state, part of the old
Confederacy. Non-Americans may be amazed, but a state law of the
1990s limiting handgun purchases to one per person per month was
regarded as a step towards curbing Virginia's reputation as a
source of easily acquired "illegal" weapons used for crime.

There is no sign of attitudes hardening. Despite the opposition
of every police force in the land, Congress in 2004 allowed to
lapse a 10-year federal ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, a
particular favourite of violent criminals. The reaction was not
exactly deafening. Even amid yesterday's shock, the initial calls
were for stricter security measures on campuses - not serious
moves to reduce gun ownership.

c Belfast Telegraph


Three Irish Students Unharmed In US Shooting

17/04/2007 - 08:13:29

At least three Irish exchange students were unharmed during
yesterday's gun rampage on a university campus in the US state of

A jilted lover is believe to have shot his ex-girlfriend and her
new boyfriend before opening fire on students at the Polytechnic
Institute, leaving 32 people dead. He also killed himself.

UCD has confirmed that three Irish engineering students, all
third-year undergraduates, were in the college taking part in a
science exchange programme.

The university says it has made contact with all three, who are
safe and well, and has offered to fly them home.

However, they have decided to stay on and complete the term.

The mother of one of the three, Nicola Greene from Gorey in Co
Wexford, said she was still waiting to find out if any of her
wider group of friends was caught up in the shooting.

"They were all isolated in their dorms for the remainder of the
day, the quarters are quite tight and they have very little
facilities, so they were getting tired and stressed," she said.


Ulsterman 'Stunned' At Campus Slaughter

[Published: Tuesday 17, April 2007 - 11:14]
By Brendan McDaid

An Ulster playwright who taught at the Virginia Tech today
expressed his horror at the worst campus killing in American

Eddie Kerr, from Londonderry, who has lectured in creative
writing and drama in the town of Blacksburg for the past six
years, spoke of his sadness as the US tried to come to terms with
the tragedy.

The death toll was confirmed at 33 last night

Mr Kerr, who was at the Virginian campus as recently as October
2006, was today continuing to keep in contact with staff by e-
mail while teaching at a school in Belfast.

He said: "I had been trying to contact people by phone yesterday,
but obviously the lines were jammed, but I got through by e-mail.

"As it turns out they were quite close to the north building
where the second attack happened and they said they heard
sporadic gunfire which lasted for about half an hour to 40

"The whole university was in lock-up."

Mr Kerr added: "I had worked with these people for three to four
weeks a year at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and I
am just stunned. Last week I was negotiating with them about
going out there again this year.

"I would have worked with students who had problems and it is
totally ironic that the last lecture I was doing was art as
healing to deal with conflict."

Mr Kerr, author of acclaimed plays Packie's Wake and One Night
Stand said the campus was the same size as Limavady.

"There are 2,600 acres, 26,000 students and it is a university

"It's a very quiet, reserved, middle-class and very white area
with good lively bars. The town is in a very conservative,
religious area.

"There was a lovely atmosphere, very education-focused and it
felt very safe with a lot of security.

Mr Kerr said it was strange to understand how anyone was able to
strike twice in such an area.

"They have their own police force based on the campus" he said. "
At every opportunity they would stop and search. Security is that
tight people have swipe cards for everything."

c Belfast Telegraph


Marking The End Of Irish 'Troubles'

Capital Region events celebrate power-sharing in Northern Ireland

By MARC PARRY, Staff writer
First published: Monday, April 16, 2007

On the heels of a historic power-sharing deal in Northern
Ireland, a series of events this week will offer an up-close look
at a place that has long engaged Capital Region residents.

The top attraction is a pair of lectures by the leader of a 42-
year-old group based in Northern Ireland that brings Protestants
and Catholics together to help heal the conflict that has divided

The Corrymeela Community's Dr. David Stevens speaks Wednesday at
First United Presbyterian Church of Troy and Thursday at Siena
College. An exhibit of artifacts from people involved in the
peace process, meanwhile, will be displayed through April 27 at
the Siena College library.

And the events culminate at Albany's Cathedral of the Immaculate
Conception Thursday night with an ecumenical prayer service with
Roman Catholic Bishop Howard Hubbard, Episcopal Bishop William
Love and the Rev. Cass Shaw, general presbyter of the Albany

"This is a rare opportunity to see what a conflict looks like
from the inside," said the Rev. Alexandra Lusak of First United
Presbyterian Church, who helped organize events. "And you don't
have to travel to Ireland to do it."

It's a conflict of abiding interest in a region with deep Irish
roots. Hundreds turned out when Gerry Adams, head of the Catholic
party Sinn Fein, visited Albany on a 10-day fundraising swing in
1995 and again in 1998.

And the Doane Stuart School has received national acclaim for an
exchange program that brought Catholic and Protestant high school
juniors from Northern Ireland to study at the Albany school. The
idea came from teacher Seamus Hodgkinson, who grew up in Belfast
and left at the height of "The Troubles" that cost thousands of
lives since 1969.

That conflict made headlines again late last month when Gerry
Adams and the Rev. Ian Paisley, head of the province's biggest
Protestant party, struck a power-sharing agreement. The
Washington Post reported that seeing the leaders together after
decades of mutual denunciations "left most people here

The Northern Ireland exhibit that goes on display at Siena
College today opens a window into the daily lives of the people
who lived through those decades of conflict.

Newspaper clippings depict fences dividing neighbors, a child's
memories of deriding the Pope, a hat inlaid with an orange band -
- these are some elements of an exhibit that also boasts bibles,
family photos and art works.

Lusak has seen much of this firsthand. Several years ago, she
joined a group from Siena College that visited the Corrymeela
Community, which calls itself a "place of refuge for Protestants
and Catholics of all ages and walks of life to exchange their

She stayed in an area not far from past scenes of car bombings
and shootings. She met Protestants, Catholics, authors, police.
The image that remains most vividly in her mind is paint -- on
curbs and light poles to mark Protestant or Catholic

Ultimately, though, she sees Northern Ireland as a hopeful story
with lessons for other conflicts.

"I think Northern Ireland is a real beacon of hope in a world so
terribly divided," Lusak said. "They have begun to live in peace
and harmony with one another."

Marc Parry can be reached at 454-5057 or by e-mail at

If you go


Dr. David Stevens, "Churches, Identity and Reconciliation: A
Northern Irish Perspective." 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, First United
Presbyterian Church, 1915 5th Ave., Troy

Dr. David Stevens, "The Land of Unlikeness: Explorations into
Reconciliation." 4 p.m. Thursday, Siena College, Key Auditorium,
Roger Bacon Hall, Room 202


Artifacts from people involved in the peace process, today
through April 27. Siena College Library, 515 Loudon Road,

Ecumenical Prayer Service, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Cathedral of the
Immaculate Conception, 125 Eagle St., Albany

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