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April 03, 2007

Parties Make Committee Choices

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 04/03/07 Parties Make Committee Choices
NJ 04/03/07 Irish Delegates Seek Inquiry In Killings
SW 04/03/07 Exposing Gordon Kerr And Tony Blair’s Secret Army
BB 04/03/07 Seventh Councillor Leaves The DUP
UT 04/03/07 DUP Rebels In Alliance Talks
IT 04/04/07 President Lays Wreath At GPO To Mark Easter Rising
BT 04/03/07 Opin: A New Symbolism Dawns For Ulster
IT 04/04/07 Travolta's Private Jet Remains Grounded At Shannon
UT 04/03/07 Revolutionary Items Up For Auction


Parties Make Committee Choices

The leaders of the five main parties have met at Stormont to
select the top jobs on the assembly committees.

The committees are supposed to act as watchdogs of the various
government departments.

The selection of committee chairmen was made through the d'Hondt
formula which is based on party strengths.

The line-up is as follows:

:: The finance minister will be a DUP representative. The
assembly finance committee will have a Sinn Fein chair and a DUP

:: The minister in charge of education will be a Sinn Fein
representative. The assembly education committee will have a DUP
chair and a SDLP deputy.

:: The agriculture minister will also be a Sinn Fein
representative. The assembly agriculture committee will have a
DUP chair and a UUP deputy. The department and agriculture has
responsibility for food, farming, environmental policy and the
development of the rural sector in Northern Ireland.

:: The health minister will be a UUP representative. The relevant
assembly committee will have a DUP chair and Sinn Fein deputy.

:: The economy minister will be DUP representative. The economy
assembly committee will have a SDLP chair and a Sinn Fein deputy.
The department of enterprise, trade and investment, which the
economy minister is in charge of, is responsible for, among other
things, economic policy development, energy, tourism, mineral
development, health and safety at work and consumer affairs.

:: The regional development minister will be a Sinn Fein
representative. The regional development committee will have a
UUP chair and a DUP deputy. The department of regional
development's responsibilities include ports and public
transport, roads and water policy.

:: The SDLP's only ministerial post will be social development
minister. On the relevant assembly committee a DUP representative
will be both the chair and deputy chair. The department of social
development's remit covers urban regeneration, community and
voluntary sector development, social legislation, housing, social
security benefits, pensions and child support.

:: The employment and learning minister will be a UUP
representative. The employment and learning assembly committee
will have a Sinn Fein chair and a DUP deputy chair. The
Department of Employment and Learning is charged with the
provision of learning and skills, including entrepreneurship,
enterprise, management and leadership.

:: The environment minister will be a DUP representative. The
environment assembly committee will have an SDLP chair and a Sinn
Fein deputy. The main responsibilities of this department are "to
protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment
for the benefit of present and future generations".

:: The culture minister will also be a DUP representative. A Sinn
Fein representative and someone from the UUP will be the chair
and deputy respectively on the relevant Assembly committee. The
department of culture, arts and leisure looks after the arts,
museums, libraries, sport and leisure, visitor amenities, inland
waterways and fisheries.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/03 17:28:40 GMT


Irish Delegates Seek Inquiry In Killings

Tuesday, April 03, 2007
By Julie O'Connor

HAMILTON -- Members of a local chapter of the Ancient Order of
Hibernians recently hosted a delegation from Northern Ireland
here on a lobbying trip to call for a probe of state-sponsored

The Irish Catholic organization, whose largest state division is
in Hamilton, welcomed six members of the Belfast-based
organization Relatives for Justice to Washington, D.C., during
the week leading up to St. Patrick's Day.

Their visit was part of the Relatives for Justice campaign for a
public inquiry into the alleged conspiring of British authorities
with loyalist and Protestant paramilita ries to kill Catholics
and Nationalists considered enemies of British rule in Northern

Members of the delegation, who say their relatives were victims
of the killings, are seeking a congressional fact-finding mission
to Northern Ireland to investigate their claims.

In January, a report by Northern Ireland's police ombudsman
accused British police of conspir ing with a loyalist Protestant
gang in at least 10 murders in Northern Ireland during the 1990s.
But police officers are unlikely to face charges because much of
the documented evi dence has been destroyed, the ombudsman said.

This was the first delegation to visit the United States that
included a mixture of both Nationalists and Unionists, said
Michael Glass, a member of the local divi sion and National Board
of the AOH who helped arrange the trip.

The delegates met with members of the House and Senate and
attended receptions at the Irish Embassy, the British Embassy,
the Northern Ireland Bureau and the White House. They presented
petitions requesting a Congressional hearing in Belfast.

A congressional fact-finding delegation will travel to Belfast
early this month and a small delegation of Irish-Americans,
including AOH members, will travel to Northern Ireland in early
May to investigate the collusion, said Glass.


Exposing Gordon Kerr And Tony Blair's Secret Army

Simon Basketter exposes how special British units in Iraq are run
by the same man who commanded death squads in Northern Ireland

Two of Britain's most secret military units operating in Iraq are
run by a man who ran death squads in Northern Ireland.

British covert military unit the Joint Support Group (JSG) works
alongside US covert forces in the aptly named "Task Force Black".

Earlier this year the JSG was lauded in the Sunday Telegraph for
its role in running dozens of double agents in Iraq, many of who
had infiltrated the various insurgent groups and militias.

The Telegraph claimed the regiment is "one of the coalition's
most effective and deadly weapons in the fight against terror".

The other unit is the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR). At
its creation in 2005, suitably anonymous "military sources" told
the media, "We want to place electronic 'bugs' close to terrorist
leaders such as Osama bin Laden and have agents within the ranks
of global terrorist groups.


"We got very good at doing this in Northern Ireland in the 1980s
and 1990s, and now we want to transfer this capability to the
global war on terrorism."

In July 2005, the SRR was involved in the surveillance operation
which led to the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell
tube station in London.

SRR officers were apparently engaged in "low-level intelligence
behind the scenes" when Jean Charles was shot. According to the
"military sources", this was the first time the new regiment had
been engaged in an operation.

In December that year two British soldiers in the SRR were
arrested by police in Iraq.

Who were the two men and what were they doing when they were
seized outside al-Jamiat police station in Basra?

What prompted British soldiers to smash down the wall of the
station and demolish several buildings inside the compound in the
operation to snatch them back?

At the request of the MoD, the British media obscured the faces
of the two captured men (pictured above).

They had been sitting in a car outside the police station in
Arabic dress. They were heavily armed and had an impressive array
of surveillance equipment with them.

It was claimed at the time that the two undercover men had opened
fire when they were stopped at a police roadblock, killing at
least one police officer. They were part of the Britain's
undercover war in Iraq.

Both the JSG and the SRR are run by Brigadier Gordon Kerr.

Kerr's career has taken him to troublespots all over the world.
An officer in the Gordon Highlanders, he served briefly in Cyprus
before his first posting in Northern Ireland in 1972.

Tony Blair appointed Kerr to head up military intelligence in
Iraq in 2003 - just two weeks after an inquiry into collusion
with paramilitaries in Northern Ireland sent a file about Kerr to
the director of public prosecutions.

Kerr is the most senior serving intelligence officer in the army
and has been rewarded with both an OBE and the queen's gallantry

In Iraq Kerr applies the "methods developed on the mean streets
of Ulster during the Troubles", as the Sunday Telegraph excitedly

The government has repeatedly claimed that Northern Ireland
provides the blueprint for the British army's operations in Iraq.


From the late 1970s, various British governments backed a secret
unit of the army, the Force Research Unit (FRU), which, along
with the special branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary,
supplied names, addresses and photographs of Catholic targets to
Loyalist paramilitaries.

The FRU was led by Gordon Kerr. When Kerr became the FRU's
commander in 1986, the 100-strong squad adopted a more aggressive
approach to the running of informers.

The key person supplying information was British army agent Brian

He infiltrated the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the biggest
Loyalist paramilitary group. His information was responsible for
the murder of at least 30 Catholics.

These included many who had no connection to the IRA, including
the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane who was murdered in 1989 by
the UDA's death squad, the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

The FRU also obtained "restriction orders" from other British
security and military units whereby the FRU would withdraw from
an area to allow Kerr's UDA agents to get in and out without

Drawing on his sources in British intelligence, Nelson passed on
the names and addresses of apparent IRA activists to the UDA,
whose gunmen would promptly go out and "execute" the suspects.

Nelson's activities were regularly discussed at London meetings
of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

This was chaired by then Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

In January 1992 Nelson agreed to plead guilty to five
conspiracies to murder, and at least four sectarian murder
charges against him were dropped.

In a bizarre court case lasting less than a day, Nelson's real
role was effectively covered up. After a moving tribute to his
sterling work for the British army from an anonymous colonel,
Nelson got ten years.

Speaking from behind a security screen the colonel stressed the
lives Nelson had allegedly "saved". Nelson was released after
serving less than half his sentence, and spent the rest of his
life under a false identity.

The anonymous colonel was Gordon Kerr.

Beyond Gordon Kerr, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment includes
at least 100 other veterans of Britain's dirty war in Northern

How much does Tony Blair know about what they are up to?

c Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may
republish if you include an active link to the original and leave
this notice in place.


Seventh Councillor Leaves The DUP

Another councillor has resigned from the DUP over its decision to
share power with Sinn Fein.

Banbridge Councillor Stephen Herron said he was saddened at
having to make the decision, but that he could not support the
power-sharing deal.

Seven councillors have now left the party for the same reason -
five in Ballymena, one in Ballymoney and Mr Herron in Banbridge.

The party's MEP, Jim Allister, has also quit over the deal.

A number of DUP assembly members have spoken of their concerns
about power-sharing with Sinn Fein on 8 May, but none have

On Monday night, Ballymena mayor James Alexander and Councillor
Robin Stirling announced their decisions to leave during a
meeting of the council.

They will stay on the council as independents.

The resignations meant that the DUP lost overall control of
Ballymena council.

Last year, Mr Stirling proposed a motion granting party leader
Ian Paisley the freedom of the town.

However, he said he now felt betrayed by the DUP leader.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/03 19:48:51 GMT


DUP Rebels In Alliance Talks

Ex-members of the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists who quit
over his power-sharing deal with Sinn Fein are in talks about
forming a new alliance, it emerged today.

By:Press Association

Five councillors in their former leader`s Ballymena, Co Antrim
stronghold have now walked away from the party in disgust at the
decision to sit alongside republicans in a new Northern Ireland

Another two representatives are believed to be considering their
positions after the latest resignations.

James Alexander, the town`s mayor, and Robin Stirling, who last
year led the drive to have Mr Paisley granted the freedom of
Ballymena, announced their departures on Monday night.

They are to continue to serve on the local authority as
independents, but one of those who left earlier confirmed
exploratory talks about a possible coalition have been held.

Councillor Sam Gaston said: "We are looking at further down the

"Those two only went last night and we haven`t had a chance to
have discussions with them.

"But between the (other) three of us we have had some

"It`s not good to have too many independents and no say in

Mr Gaston and Roy Gillespie, a founding member of the DUP, have
declared themselves Protestant Unionist councillors since

The fifth to go, former Ireland Rugby International David Tweed,
may share their views, Mr Gaston claimed.

The clutch of resignations mean the DUP has lost overall control
of Ballymena Council.

Along with the councillors crying betrayal, DUP MEP Jim Allister
and Audrey Patterson, a representative in Ballymoney, Co Antrim,
have also severed their party ties over Mr Paisley`s historic
pact with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

The two political enemies sat down together at Stormont a week
ago to announce they will co-operate in a new devolved regime
starting in May.


President Will Lay Wreath At GPO To Mark Easter Rising

Deagl n de Br‚ad£n
Wed, Apr 04, 2007

The official commemoration of the 1916 Rising this year will
involve a wreath-laying ceremony outside the GPO in Dublin on
Sunday and a march-past by 350 members of the Defence Forces.

The Army brass and pipe bands will take part, along with other
representatives of the Army, the Naval Service and the Air Corps.
At noon the national flag will be lowered and a wreath laid by
President McAleese in honour of those who died.

The Proclamation will be read by an Army officer, a minute's
silence observed and the tricolour raised.

A reception will be held in the GPO afterwards. Relatives of
those who took part in 1916 will be guests of honour.

Sinn Fein will hold more than 100 Easter Rising commemorations.
Speaking outside Leinster House yesterday, the head of Sinn
Fein's national commemoration committee Francie Molloy MLA, said:
"I invite people to join in our commemorations, celebrate 1916
and help us achieve Irish unity. I call on people to wear an
Easter lily. It is important to pay tribute to all of those brave
men and women who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom
but we also need to deliver on the promise of the Proclamation. I
want to call on all those who are committed to Irish
reunification, to work together for that worthy and achievable

c 2007 The Irish Times


Viewpoint: A New Symbolism Dawns For Ulster

[Published: Tuesday 3, April 2007 - 11:16]

Just as the institutions at Stormont are being rebuilt, ready for
the ceremonial opening on May 8, the symbols of the past are
coming down - like the walls of the Maze prison.

The Northern Ireland Office, representing the old order, is
wasting no time preparing the way for the new powers in the land,
the DUP and Sinn Fein, acting in concert with the UUP and SDLP.

The first letter signed by Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness was
equally symbolic, calling on the Secretary of State and his
ministers to vacate Stormont Castle, the traditional seat of
government, immediately.

D for devolution day is still five weeks away, but Peter Hain was
delighted to consent, seeing the joint notice to quit as "a very
positive signal of their serious intent".

The demolition work at the Maze is the government's way of saying
that Northern Ireland is on a brand new track, and that this time
there will be no turning back. The H-blocks, which housed so much
bitterness in the past and have been kept in readiness, in case
of a new outbreak of violence, will eventually be bulldozed, but
one of the internment-era Nissen huts is to become a conflict
resolution centre. While many would wish to clear the entire site
and start afresh, it must be accepted that the Maze is a vital
part of the recent history of Northern Ireland. It is where the
paramilitaries, and their murderous organisations, first began to
turn away from violence, being persuaded by their own leaders -
backed up by government ministers - that there was a better way
forward, through democratic dialogue.

The 1981 hunger strike contributed hugely to that debate, by
showing Sinn Fein the gains to be made from political
representation, but extreme care must be taken in any attempt to
use the Maze as an object lesson in conflict transformation.
There are at least two sides to every story, in Northern Ireland,
and it will be so easy to offend the many forgotten victims of
the troubles, and misrepresent the true history of the times, if
the callous criminality of the paramilitaries is overlooked.

Back in Stormont, the DUP and Sinn Fein are demonstrating an
admirable commitment to their new partnership arrangements, not
only serving an eviction notice on Mr Hain but arranging a smooth
transition to devolution, by selecting their chosen jobs in the
executive. That way, they should be well briefed and ready to
take the urgent decisions that are necessary, primarily on the
economy and education, as soon as possible.

There will be plenty of hiccups ahead, including Mr Paisley's
curt dismissal of the proposal for Irish language legislation.
But all politicians will be expected to concentrate on the big
picture, demonstrating that devolution works best for everyone.

c Belfast Telegraph


Travolta's Private Jet Remains Grounded At Shannon

Pat Flynn
Wed, Apr 04, 2007

A jet owned and flown by Hollywood star John Travolta was
grounded at Shannon airport on Monday night after it developed a
technical problem while travelling back to the United States.

Travolta and his entourage were returning to Newark in New Jersey
from Munich International Airport after he appeared on a German
television programme at the weekend.

The actor's Boeing 707-138, which he flies himself, arrived at
Shannon late on Monday night on a scheduled refuelling stop but
was grounded after a problem developed with one of the engines.

Shortly before Travolta was due to take off, engineers were
called in to assess the problem but decided that the jet would
have to remain at Shannon until the difficulty could be
rectified. The aircraft is expected to stay at Shannon until late
this evening at the earliest.

Travolta continued his journey back to the US on a private jet
early yesterday morning.

Travolta (53) makes at least one trip a year to Ireland and makes
regular refuelling stops at Shannon.

He earned his wings in 1974 and owns a Gulfstream II jet and
three other aircraft. He is usually accompanied on his
transoceanic flights by two other captains and an engineer.

Travolta purchased the jet from the Qantas airline eight years
ago and has acted as an ambassador for Qantas for several years.
He infuriated environmentalists recently by flying his jet to the
London premiere of his new film Wild Hogs.

He has urged people to "do their bit" to tackle global warming
but environmentalists reckon he has clocked up at least 48,000km
flying over the past 12 months, an estimated 800 tonnes of carbon

c 2007 The Irish Times


Revolutionary Items Up For Auction

Ireland's revolutionary past and the love life of one of its most
famous rebels are to feature in a major auction in Dublin.

By:Press Association

A letter written by Patrick Pearse hours before he was executed
for his part in the 1916 Rising, plus correspondence carrying
gossip on the love interests of IRA leader Michael Collins, are
to go under the hammer.

The artefacts are among 600 lots linked to Ireland`s struggle for
independence due for auction in two weeks.

The letter by Pearse is expected to fetch up to ?100,000, while a
batch of 14 letters centring on Collins` love life could reach
?20,000 in the April 17 sale.

The auction`s organisers say the correspondence on Collins
written by a contemporary, Moya Llewelyn Davies, contains
previously undocumented and controversial material about the
rebel leader`s relationships with Kitty Kiernan and Lady Lavery.

Collins was linked to Kitty Kiernan before he was shot dead by
rival republicans, but the letters also deal with allegations of
an affair with high society beauty Lady Lavery.

"The Llewelyn Davies diaries equate to a modern day gossip
column, that salaciously claim Kitty Kiernan was a `heavy
drinker, plain and vulgar`, with Collins believing her to be
`brainless`," said Fonsie Mealy of Mealy Auctioneers, joint-co-
ordinators of the sale.

"She also doubts whether Lady Lavery had `that relationship`,
with Collins saying she `only looked well from a distance`."

Pearse`s letter is addressed to the Commander of the British
Forces in Ireland at the time of the 1916 Easter Rising and
leaves instructions for Pearse`s personal effects, including
seven pounds in cash taken from him at his arrest, to be handed
to his mother or sister.

Never seen in public before, the letter is one of only three
hand-written and signed by Pearse from his condemned cell in
Kilmainham Prison on May 2, 1916, as he prepared to be executed
for his part in the Rising that set the scene for the War of
Independence in Ireland.

"With a large part of Pearse`s correspondence already in official
government hands, it is a rare and very exciting opportunity for
something so historically valuable and of such national
importance to come on the open market," said Stuart Cole,
director of James Adam & Sons which hosts the sale.

"This poignant letter by Pearse, which ironically requests his
British nemesis to be the one to put his affairs in order after
his death, is a unique piece of history that marks a solemn end
to his short life and personal campaign for Ireland`s

"Based on the strong demand for Pearse items, both at home and
abroad, this final letter could do very well at auction."

It will be sold alongside artefacts tracing Ireland`s history
from as early as the Battle of the Boyne, with other significant
pieces including:

:: A Citizen Army Mobilisation Order, signed by James Connolly
from Easter 1916 ordering "a full mobilisation" estimated at

:: A rare 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, estimated at

The "Independence" sale will be held on Tuesday April 17 at James
Adam salerooms, St Stephen`s Green, Dublin in conjunction with
Mealy`s Auctioneers.

A similar auction last year coinciding with the 90th anniversary
of the Easter Rising saw the first draft of Ireland`s national
anthem sold for over ?250,000, contributing to a sale total of
?3.5 million.

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