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April 16, 2007

O'Loan Criticices Police Shooting of Teenager

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 04/16/07 O'Loan Criticises Police Shooting Of Teenager
BB 04/16/07 Sinn Fein In Policing Board First
BT 04/16/07 Brian Rowan: Fresh Warning To Loyalists
BB 04/16/07 Campaigner In 'UVF Death Threat'
BT 04/16/07 Second Man Due In Court As UVF Terror Probe Goes On
BB 04/16/07 DUP Announces Ministerial Roles
BT 04/16/07 Opin: Getting Ready To Run Northern Ireland
BT 04/16/07 Unionists Turn Their Phasers On Star Trek
EX 04/16/07 Slea Head Traffic Set To Resume
BN 04/16/07 Air Pollution In Pubs Down 83% Since Smoking Ban


O'Loan Criticises Police Shooting Of Teenager

[Published: Monday 16, April 2007 - 11:05]
By Jonathan McCambridge

Police were not justified in shooting a teenager who was killed
by a plastic bullet during rioting in Londonderry in 1981, the
Police Ombudsman today ruled.

However, Nuala O'Loan has found no evidence that there was intent
to kill 15-year-old Paul Whitters and there will be no
prosecution of the officer who fired the baton gun 26 years ago.

The Catholic teenager was hit on the head by a baton round at
short range on April 15, 1981, which occurred during a period of
heightened tensions while republicans were on hunger strike in
the Maze. He died 10 days later.

The Ombudsman's investigators identified evidence to suggest that
the baton gun may have misfired and the baton round may have
malfunctioned, but have ruled that it was an unjustified

They have backed a complaint from the Whitters family that the
police had made no attempt to arrest Paul before the shot was
fired and that they did not conduct a proper investigation into
his death. There was also no attempt made by police to interview
six individuals who gave statements to a solicitor about the

Nuala O'Loan said that several police officers, including the
officer who fired the baton gun, refused to speak to her

Mrs O'Loan said: "We have found no new evidence that the police
officer who fired the gun intended to kill Paul.

"In my view, the firing of the baton gun on that occasion was
wrong and unjustifiable. The gun was used in contravention of the
rules in place at the time. No warning was given by loudhailer
and it was fired at less than the permissible range of 20 metres.

"The police justification for the shooting was that the baton gun
was used to prevent a lorry being hijacked, and they said that
the rules permitted this.

"We have found no evidence that Paul intended to hijack the lorry
or that the safety of officers was at risk. Police officers did
not say that the gun was fired because there was a serious risk
of injury to anyone."

Paul Whitters' death was the subject of an inquest and was
referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who directed no
prosecution. In 1987 the RUC settled a subsequent civil action
without any admission of liability.

Although complaints to the Police Ombudsman are normally limited
to incidents alleged to have happened within the preceding 12
months, the Police Ombudsman undertook this investigation, she
said, because of the gravity of the allegations.

Mrs O'Loan described it as a long and difficult investigation.
Her investigators sought to establish if there was 'significant
new evidence' not previously available to the Coroner or to the
then Director of Public Prosecutions.

She said: "Initially, we had difficulty in tracing key witnesses
and documentation but, after a lot of painstaking work, were
successful. There were other difficulties, however.

"The solicitor who handled this case for Paul's family has since
died, as has the Coroner. The Ministry of Defence was very slow
in responding to our requests for information and Paul's hospital
records have been destroyed.

"The police officers to whom we wanted to talk have retired and
for the most part either refused to speak to us or stated that
they had nothing they could add.

"The officer who fired the gun refused to speak to us and could
not be compelled to do so in the absence of new evidence."

A total of 17 people are known to have died after being hit by
plastic bullets in Northern Ireland since they were introduced
here in 1973.

c Belfast Telegraph


Sinn Fein In Policing Board First

Sinn Fein is to meet the Northern Ireland Policing Board for the
first time, later.

Gerry Adams will lead the party in talks with board chairman Sir
Desmond Rea at Stormont.

Sinn Fein's policing spokesman Alex Maskey said this was the
latest in a number of meetings since the ard fheis decision on
policing in January.

It is understood police collusion with loyalist paramilitaries
and the issue of plastic bullets will be discussed.

"At the time of the Patten consultation it was Sinn Fein who
argued for a strong Policing Board to hold the policing service
to account," Mr Maskey said.

"In the years since, in a series of negotiations, we worked to
ensure that it had the powers necessary to do so.

"We are looking forward to the meeting in the morning and we view
it very much in the context of delivering on our ard fheis
commitment to achieving an accountable and representative

Sinn Fein members voted to support policing in Northern Ireland
for the first time in the party's history at the ard fheis, or
conference, at an end of January.

Meanwhile, DUP leader Ian Paisley is expected to name his
ministerial team for the new assembly on Monday.

His deputy Peter Robinson will be named Finance Minister.

Arlene Foster is expected to take the environment post, while
Edwin Poots will be Minister for Culture with Nigel Dodds heading
the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/16 05:27:52 GMT


Brian Rowan: Fresh Warning To Loyalists

[Published: Monday 16, April 2007 - 11:13]
By Brian Rowan

A senior security source today called on the UVF to "make clear
where it's going", and warned the loyalist organisation: "There
can be no halfway house."

His comments come amid growing expectations that the UVF and
associated Red Hand Commando will soon issue a statement on the
future of both organisations.

Preparations for that announcement are now believed to be at an
advanced stage, but there is still no suggestion of imminent

However, the loyalist groups are expected to say something on how
their weapons will be stored in future

"There is a clear onus on that organisation (the UVF) to make
clear where it's going," the senior security source told the
Belfast Telegraph.

"People who think they can have a private army and weapons -
bunkered or not - (need to know) it's not a runner," the source

"May 8 changes everything," the source said, adding that after
that date - the new deadline for devolution - "we are in a
different environment".

On the expected statement from the UVF and Red Hand Commando, the
source said he wanted "to see the colour of their money" before
commenting any further.

The loyalist organisations had said that statement on "future
intent" would be issued when the political future of Northern
Ireland was known.

In recent days, there has been a focus on the UVF after police
warned people in Derry and north Antrim that their details had
been found on a list linked to the loyalist organisation.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness wants to know if those people are
under any threat, and called on the UVF and linked Progressive
Unionist Party to clarify the situation.

The ceasefire watchdog - the IMC - will also be monitoring

Its next report is due to be delivered to the British and Irish
governments at the end of this month, and will be published
before May 8.

And that assessment will be read to see what progress, if any, is
being made on the loyalist side.

When it is released, the statement from the UVF and Red Hand
Commando will deal with the future status of the organisations,
recruitment, intelligence gathering, targeting, punishment
attacks and weapons.

The loyalist groups have not yet said whether it will be issued
before May 8.

c Belfast Telegraph


Campaigner In 'UVF Death Threat'

The director of NI victims' group, Relatives for Justice, has
said he is taking a threat against him very seriously.

Mark Thompson was visited by police officers at his home on
Saturday morning and warned of a significant and substantial
threat to his life.

Mr Thompson said he believes the threats were from loyalist
paramilitaries, the UVF.

It could be connected to recent sensitive work with unionist

"I would see this in the context of the work that Relatives for
Justice and myself are doing, particularly over this past number
of months, in which we have been working with a range of families
across the community, particularly within the unionist
community," Mr Thompson said.

"They are providing sensitive information to us in relation to
the murder of their loved ones.

"This takes us into a terrain that we have never been into, in
terms of some of that information."

Relatives for Justice is a Belfast-based support group working
with and providing support to relatives of people bereaved and
injured in the Troubles.

The group works primarily with people whose relatives have died
in disputed circumstances where there are allegations of state

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/16 08:53:15 GMT


Second Man Due In Court As UVF Terror Probe Goes On

[Published: Monday 16, April 2007 - 08:54]
By Jonathan McCambridge

A man was due to appear in court today charged with misconduct in
public office as part of a deepening police terror probe.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that the latest charges arise
from the same investigation which saw a Co Antrim factory manager
charged with being a member of the UVF last week.

Sinn Fein said last night that police had delivered warnings to
nationalists in several parts of Northern Ireland that their
details are in the hands of the UVF.

A police spokeswoman said a 22-year-old man was due to appear at
Belfast Magistrates Court today following an investigation into
terrorist crime.

He has been charged with misconduct in public office, having
information likely to be of use to terrorists and breach of the
Data Protection Act.

Another man arrested in the same operation last Friday has been
released without charge.

Police refused to give any other details about the charges, but
did confirm that the man is not a police officer.

However, it is understood that the court appearance is linked to
the police probe which saw a factory manager at the Wrightbus
plant in Ballymena arrested recently.

Darren Leslie Richardson (30), of Moneynick Road, Randalstown,
appeared in court on Friday where he was accused of being a
member of the UVF. He was further charged with possession of
documents likely to be of use to terrorists and possession of

Sinn Fein has called on loyalist paramilitaries to confirm if
nationalists were under threat.

Party negotiator Martin McGuinness said police had delivered
warnings to Catholics in Derry City, south Derry and north Antrim
over the weekend.

He said they were told their details were in the hands of the

He said: "It is completely unacceptable that people's personal
details have turned up in UVF hands and that numerous people are
now frightened and disturbed by these revelations.

"Given the fact that the UVF is the unionist paramilitary gang
linked to these threats then it is now over to that organisation
and the Progressive Unionist Party to make urgent statements
explaining this turn of events and making it clear what threats
exist or don't exist."

Mark Thompson, director of Relatives for Justice, today revealed
that he had been threatened.

He blamed the UVF after he was warned of the risk by police in
west Belfast on Saturday.

He linked the sinister development to his work with families from
across the community.

He has lobbied for action on alleged security force collusion
with loyalists and represented a string of loyalist murder

But PUP leader and Policing Board member Dawn Purvis said she had
no knowledge of any threats.

"My understanding from the PSNI is that there's no threat to
anyone, but that the PSNI have a responsibility to inform someone
under the human rights legislation if their details or names are
found in the hands of someone," she said.

Police have said a number of individuals are in the process of
being provided with information as part of an investigation into
terrorist crime.

c Belfast Telegraph


DUP Announces Ministerial Roles

A former Ulster Unionist will be one of the Democratic Unionists'
ministers in a new Stormont government.

DUP leader Ian Paisley has announced that Arlene Foster, who
defected from the UUP three years ago, would be Minister for the

Peter Robinson, DUP deputy leader, will hold the finance

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds and Lagan Valley Assembly member
Edwin Poots will be the ministers of enterprise and culture

Speaking outside Stormont on Monday, Mr Paisley said that his
son, Ian Junior, was the party's choice for the junior minister
role in the Office of First and Deputy First Minister.

Mr Paisley will be sworn in as first minister on 8 May, with Sinn
Fein's Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister.

"I think we should rejoice that great confidence is born in the
hearts of the majority of people in Northern Ireland," Mr Paisley

"I am amazed by the responses on the streets, on the phone and in
every place I visit.

"People who are not Democratic Unionists but who are grateful to
us for all that we have achieved."

The DUP leader said Sinn Fein was a different party from the one
the DUP faced when it embarked on a process of trying to
transform republicanism.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/16 10:47:56 GMT


Viewpoint: Getting Ready To Run Northern Ireland

[Published: Monday 16, April 2007 - 10:04]

With three weeks down and three weeks to go until May 8, hopes
are rising that the devolution deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein
will work. The so-called testing period has in fact been a
settling in phase as the main parties come to terms with the
challenges of setting up a power-sharing executive.

The Departments have now been carved up between the parties, and
the names of some of the prospective Ministers made public. Ian
Paisley has embraced the new era with an impressive enthusiasm,
and his warm handshake with Bertie Ahern did much to convince the
doubters that a real breakthrough had been made.

While Mr Paisley tells his supporters that the agreement will
secure the union, Martin McGuinness' message at an Easter rally
was that the countdown is now on to a united Ireland. Some will
see all this as constructive ambiguity, but the reality is that
all parties can continue to pursue their aspirations by peaceful
means while agreeing to work together in the Assembly.

Since the momentous events of March 26, the two main parties have
been saying little about what has been going on behind the
scenes. But in the absence of leaks to the contrary, it must be
assumed that a genuine engagement is taking place between the
main parties. For once, no news is good news.

If contentious matters can be thrashed out at this stage, the
executive may not degenerate into the "battle a day" scenario.
There will always be tensions, but dialogue is the way forward.

That said, it is crucial that nobody tries to duck key issues.
The continued existence of the IRA Army Council needs to be
addressed, while the extent to which the equality agenda is to be
pursued is another crunch area.

After a relatively peaceful Easter, a resolution of Drumcree
would boost community relations in the summer. The as yet
unexplained resignation from Sinn Fein of Garvaghy Road Residents
Coalition member Breandan MacCionnaith may be a sign that a deal
is taking shape.

The priority, though, at this stage should be to improve the
Chancellor's economic package. The shortcomings of the œ1bn deal
put forward on March 22 are now apparent, and the parties must
return to the Treasury to seek improved terms, particularly in
relation to corporation tax.

The series of articles in the Belfast Telegraph on the in-trays
of each of the new Ministers have a common theme - all the
Departments are under-funded. If the Assembly is to be able to
deliver prosperity, it must have the economic tools.

Over the next three weeks, the executive in waiting must ensure
that it can hit the ground running. After such a promising build-
up, the public has a right to expect good government.

c Belfast Telegraph


It's Ireland, Jim, But Not As We Know It... Unionists Turn Their
Phasers On Star Trek

[Published: Monday 16, April 2007 - 08:56]
By Claire McNeilly

A row was brewing last night over plans to show a Star Trek
episode, which predicts a united Ireland by 2024, during the
Belfast Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

In an episode of the sci-fi cult show entitled The High Ground,
Dr Beverly Crusher is taken hostage while helping the wounded
victims of a terrorist attack on "a non-aligned planet".

And, reflecting upon what happened to the Starship Enterprise's
chief medical officer, android Data says that Ireland would be
reunified in 2024 as a result of a successful terrorist campaign.

East Belfast DUP councillor and Assembly member Robin Newton last
night branded the proposed showing of the 1990 film- which hasn't
been broadcast on terrestrial TV in the UK or Ireland - as "an
attack" on unionism.

"The sci-fi Star Trek imaginary tale of other worlds and strange
creatures making political forecasts that are now proven to be as
implausible as the basis of this invented story will cause no
concern to unionists," said Mr Newton.

"When this film was in production back in 1990 anyone forecasting
the prospect of Sinn Fein decommissioning their guns, supporting
the police, recognising the courts and taking ministerial
positions within the UK's Stormont administration would have been
looked upon as not living in the real world."

Mr Newton added, however, that these are now "political facts"
and said "the DUP-negotiated unionist gains have increased self-
belief within the unionist community".

He added: "Whether it is from partisan fictional propaganda or a
party line political source unionist confidence can withstand the

Director of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Sean Kelly,
said: " We're not showing it in a partisan way and we certainly
don't want it to be seen as any kind of propaganda. We're showing
it because of the issues it raises in relation to censorship.

He added: "It's hard to believe... but both the BBC and RTE
refused to show it and it still hasn't been shown on terrestrial
TV in the UK or Ireland."

c Belfast Telegraph


Slea Head Traffic Set To Resume

By Donal Hickey

TRAFFIC on the spectacular Slea Head Drive is expected to be
moving again in about three weeks, following the construction of
a temporary stretch of road, Kerry County Council confirmed

A 350-metre stretch is to be built about 20 metres inside the
section where a major landslide occurred at the weekend near

Acting county manager Tom Curran said work would commence
straight away and the Slea Head loop, one of the country's most
popular tourist routes, would be reopened in three to four weeks.

At present, several miles of the loop are closed to traffic.

Mr Curran estimated it would take two to three months to build
the permanent stretch.

Meanwhile, current diversion points near Ventry and Dunquin are
to be manned daily by council staff.

Staff will inform road users of the situation and assure them all
businesses and attractions are accessible.

Coaches can also continue to drive as far as Coomeenole. The
council has also agreed to examine concerns of Blasket ferrymen
operating from Dunquin.


Air Pollution In Pubs Down 83% Since Start Of Smoking Ban

16/04/2007 - 08:04:13

Air pollution in Irish pubs is down 83% since the start of the
smoking ban, according to latest research by anti-smoking

The Research Institute for a Tobacco-Free Society says its
studies have also found a significant improvement in the
respiratory health of pub staff since the ban was imposed more
than three years ago.

Leading anti-smoking campaigner Luke Clancy says the findings
provide dramatic evidence that the smoking ban has been
successful in its objectives.

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