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April 22, 2007

Shoukri Expected To Admit Extortion

News about Ireland & the Irish

IN 04/22/07 Shoukri Expected To Admit Extortion
SL 04/22/07 No Closure Without Justice For Victims
SL 04/22/07 Ex Cop And Former IRA Man To Join Forces
SL 04/22/07 UVF Move Is Days Away
SL 04/22/07 Rebel UDA Group Meets With IMC
BB 04/22/07 Border Peace Monument Is Planned
BN 04/22/07 Ferris Responds to His Arrest
IN 04/22/07 Fresh Police Appeal Over LVF Murder
BN 04/22/07 Union Demands Inquiry Into Murder Of Garda
SB 04/22/07 Don't Bet Your House On A Soft Landing
SB 04/22/07 The Property Boom Need Not End In Bust
IT 04/23/07 Irish Hero Recalled As Titanic Keys Sold At Auction


Shoukri Expected To Admit Extortion

By Barry McCaffrey

Leading loyalist Andre Shoukri is expected to plead guilty
to extortion and money laundering next month in a desperate
attempt to avoid embarrassing details of his chronic
gambling habit being revealed in court.

Legal sources last night confirmed that the former UDA
`brigadier', pictured, had agreed to admit the charges in
exchange for a nine-year prison sentence.

In March last year The Irish News revealed how detectives
investigating Shoukri's illegal activities had uncovered
evidence that he gambled more than œ860,000 in one bookie's
shop in two years.

However, even if Shoukri receives a nine-year term, as
expected, he will be back on the streets in 2009 as he has
already served the equivalent of five years while on remand
in Maghaberry Prison.

Shoukri and co-accused John `Bonzer' Borland were arrested
in November 2005 after an undercover police operation
caught them attempting to extort thousands of pounds from
the manageress of a north Belfast bar.

Both men are accused of extorting œ900 a week from the
manageress of Bonaparte's Bar over a two-year period.
Court hearings heard how Shoukri used the bar to
"entertain'' friends and how he would "go behind the bar
and help himself to drinks, money from the till or anything
else he required".

He demanded that the manageress, known as witness `A',
provide him with employment payrolls so that he could
falsely obtain a mortgage for a house.

In March 2005 Shoukri and Borland lured witness `A's
husband to a meeting in north Belfast during which a gun
was put to his head and he was ordered to hand over control
of the bar.

The couple were forced to hand over the bar's cheque books
and keys and œ4,000 in cash.

In fear for their lives the couple contacted the PSNI which
set up an undercover operation to catch the pair making
threats on secret recordings.

When Shoukri and Borland were finally arrested in November
2005 the couple were placed in protective custody in

They had to be moved last summer when it emerged that
their safety had been compromised.

If the 29-year-old pleads guilty, as expected, it will mean
that the extortion and intimidation used to feed his
chronic gambling addiction and lavish lifestyle will never
be made public.

No-one from the Public Prosecution Service or Shoukri's
defence team was available for comment last night.


Special Branch Files: No Closure Without Justice For Victims

[Published: Sunday 22, April 2007 - 09:54]

The brother of Mary Travers - shot dead outside a south
Belfast church in April 1984 - says he believes Northern
Ireland cannot fully move on without justice for victims of
the Troubles.

Paul Travers was responding to a Sunday Life investigation
into his sister's murder that uncovered allegations of a
cover-up in the killing.

The Historical Enquiries Team of the PSNI is said to be
carrying out a " thorough" investigation.

Mr Travers told Sunday Life: "It's a real shame that we
didn't go the way of the South Africans with their truth
and reconciliation commission. It might have brought some
real comfort to many affected by the past 30 years.

"It would, in my view, give real substance, depth and
meaning to what we are apparently seeing reflected in the
make-up of the new government at Stormont.

"I also think it is a reasonable and fair solution when
victims are asked to live with the release of prisoners
involved in these atrocities and the elevation of those to
Government who, in the past, were only too happy to justify
the murder of those they now want to govern."

Mr Travers had intended to work as a barrister in Belfast
until his sister's murder, but left instead for London in

He emigrated to Australia in 1993 and is now director of
cultural heritage with the Government of Queensland,
working on the rights of the Aboriginal peoples.

He added: "If they (the politicians) genuinely believe in
reconciliation and want respect for their office, then
surely they should tell the whole story of what happened.

We all need healing. We all need to understand. To me, it
seems unusually cold-hearted that victims are being
required to struggle to obtain the truth, or are simply
being asked, as an alternative, to forget."

This is a view shared by serving and former members of RUC
Special Branch. Eight of these detectives met
Sunday Life last week.

One serving member told us: "We've had the Stevens Inquiry
for 18 years costing tens of millions, the Ombudsman has
spent œ40m and the Historical Enquiries Team are set to add
to that cost.

"But this is not just about money, though, this is about
telling the whole truth about the Troubles.

"We are ready to play our part in any truth and
reconciliation tribunal as long as it is properly
constituted and doesn't turn into another expensive public

"More than 3,600 people died in the Troubles and 30,000
people were injured. We need to address that before we can
move on.

"We fully support the establishment of devolution on May 8
- let no one be in any doubt about that. This is a massive
step forward.

"However, we don't believe we can have a proper future
without clearing up the debris from the past."

A fellow officer then dropped a bombshell: "The IRA had a
spy inside Special Branch for years. We know who he was and
yet nothing was done.

"He is the person responsible for the
Castlereagh break-in. Forget about the chef
(Larry Zaitschek), this was a Branch mole
helping the Provos."

The codenames of scores of informers, the
information they had provided to detectives
and the telephone numbers and addresses of
Special Branch officers were taken in the
raid on St Patrick's Day 2002.

More than 300 police officers and others
were forced to move home at an estimated
cost of œ30m as a result of information
falling into the hands of IRA intelligence.

The encrypted computer disks and notes were
in the hands of the IRA within hours of the

Police said nine months ago that they want
to charge US based Lawrence 'Larry'
Zaitschek, a former chef at the police base,
but an extradition warrant still hasn't been

Another former Special Branch officer said
the Branch mole may have had a role in the
collapse of the last Assembly.

He said: "Let's put it like this, Denis
Donaldson was working for someone in Special
Branch when the so-called 'spy ring' was
uncovered, but it was Denis who was running
that ring, so it was a rogue Branch spy
ring rather than a Provo spy ring."

Donaldson's arrest as part of
'Stormontgate' in October 2002 led to the
collapse of the last Assembly. When charges
were dropped against Donaldson in December
2005, he admitted having worked for Special
Branch. He was shot dead at an isolated
cottage near Glenties, Co

Donegal on April 4 last year.

This Branch officer added: "Donaldson was
killed because he had too many secrets to
tell and I believe those secrets related
to his work with Special Branch rather
than the IRA."

c Belfast Telegraph


Ex Cop And Former IRA Man Set To Join Forces

[Published: Sunday 22, April 2007 - 09:39]

By Alan Murray

One was a top IRA man, the other a Special
Branch sergeant - for decades they pitted
their wits against each other.

Now Sean 'Spike' Murray and ex-cop Rev
Mervyn Gibson have been appointed to the
group appointed by Peter Hain to review
issues surrounding controversial parades.

As a Special Branch officer based in
Belfast, Rev Mervyn Gibson regularly heard
the name Sean 'Spike' Murray mentioned in
briefings at his Castlereagh base.

Murray, from west Belfast, is a veteran IRA
man who served 12 years for explosives
offences and rose through the terrorist
group after his jail release to become one
of the most senior operational figures in
the organisation.

One ex-Branch man said: "Spike decided
whether operations in Belfast went ahead or
not, when they went ahead, and how many
went ahead each day and each week when he
was the ops officer.

"He was presumably that efficient in
Belfast that the IRA promoted him to
Northern Command Ops Officer.

"From then on Spike decided what tactics
were used, what bombings went down and what
shootings went down across Northern
Ireland, how many and when.

"Part of his job would have been to ensure
that there was no accidental conflict
caused by IRA teams running into each other
or dragging police into an area where
something was being worked on."

Ironically. it was to Sean Murray that
representatives of the North and West
Belfast Parades Forum spoke when they
discussed the controversial Orange Order
parade on the Springfield Road, which has
led to violence, notably two years ago.

Murray was a leading figure in the local
action group and regularly spoke with
Orangemen and residents on the unionist

Now he's part of a new parades review panel
which contains a former Special Branch adversary
and is chaired by a former Royal Marine
Lord Ashdown, who was a member of the elite
Special Boat Service.

c Belfast Telegraph


UVF Move Is Days Away

[Published: Sunday 22, April 2007 - 09:29]
By Brian Rowan

The commission tasked with monitoring
paramilitary activity met the UVF-linked
Progressive Unionist Party in Belfast

Those talks come amid growing expectation
that the loyalist paramilitary leadership
is about to make a statement on the future
of the UVF and associated Red Hand
Commando. That statement is now expected
within days - not next week, but, possibly,
the week after.

The Independent Monitoring Commission met
in Belfast yesterday and finalised its
latest assessment that will be published
within days. But yesterday the PUP wasn't
able to tell the commissioners when the UVF
statement will be issued and nor was its
content discussed. PUP leader Dawn Purvis
said the meeting "went very well".

"Again they (the IMC) were pushing for and
encouraging movement within loyalist
paramilitaries," Ms Purvis told Sunday

She said the commissioners "recognised that
there was positive movement" .

In its statement on "future intent", the
UVF leadership is expected to address a
range of issues - including punishment
attacks, threats and intimidation and

But it now clear that the IMC report will
be published before that statement emerges.
Guns control poser for UVF, P25

c Belfast Telegraph


Rebel UDA Group Meets With IMC

[Published: Sunday 22, April 2007 - 09:43]
By Alan Murray

A delegation from within the UDA's
breakaway south east Antrim 'brigade' has
held a groundbreaking meeting with the
International Monitoring Commission.

The IMC, which is chaired by Lord
Alderdice, spent over an hour discussing
crime and paramilitary issues with four
representatives from the Beyond Conflict

And it has prompted speculation that the
breakaway 'brigade' is considering meeting
General de Chastelain soon to discuss the
decommissioning of its weapons.

The UDA's 'inner council' which controls
the organisation's five other 'brigades'
recently announced that it had expelled two
men who it claimed were key figures in
south east Antrim, Tommy Kirkham and
another man who it claimed was the local

On Wednesday of last week Mr Kirkham
brought four men to meet the IMC in Belfast
and said he hoped the meeting would prove
valuable in accelerating the process of
bringing about the disbandment of
paramilitary groups.

They discussed drugs, anti-social behaviour
and paramilitary issues during the meeting,
and were asked by the IMC whether the UDA
would be prepared to meet General de

"This was the first contact between the IMC
and loyalists from south east Antrim since
a brief meeting in Rathcoole about a year
ago, but this was a much more important
one," said Kirkham.

"The delegation told the IMC that it wanted
to put them out of business by bringing
about an end to all paramilitary activity
and structures. Now with the Assembly about
to resume next month, Beyond Conflict feels
that it will have to accelerate its
programme to bring about the changes it
wants to see in south east Antrim.

"We set out a five-year strategy, but that
now looks a bit too distant and we
discussed this with the IMC. It's a bit
early yet to predict a meeting taking place
between the IMC and the south east Antrim
brigade of the UDA because confidences have
to be built up over a period of time.

"But I would like to hope that a parallel
process will be established with General de
Chastelain and representatives of that
organisation. "

c Belfast Telegraph


Border Peace Monument Is Planned

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern has proposed
building a monument to peace to be located
in the border region.

Bertie Ahern said if his party was returned
to government, it would commission an
international competition to design and
construct the landmark.

He was speaking at the annual Fianna Fail
Arbour Hill commemoration.

Mr Ahern, who recently shook hands publicly
with DUP leader Ian Paisley, also urged
dissident republicans and loyalists to move
towards peace.

Mr Ahern told those gathered for the 1916
Easter Rising commemoration: "I believe,
that Orange and Green have never been so

"We stand at a new dawn. We can clearly see
the open path for the two great traditions
on this island to work together to deliver
the prosperity, better services and quality
of life that will flow from peace."

He said it was time to "commemorate the
extraordinary achievement of peace" and
that his party would pledge five million
euro to the project.

"This monument will stand as a symbol of
the achievements of all communities and
individuals who have worked so hard to
deliver peace these past decades," he said.

"It will send out a clear message to the
coming generations - that the peace we have
built is to be cherished. It should never
be taken for granted."

Devolved government is due to be returned
to Stormont on 8 May following an agreement
between Sinn Fein and the DUP to share

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/22 17:31:32 GMT


Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris Has Been Arrested On Suspicion Of Drink-Driving.

He was stopped at a random breath test
checkpoint shortly after 1am near his home
in the village of Ardfert, north Kerry.

The former IRA gun runner was then taken to
Tralee Garda Station were he gave a second

A Sinn Fein spokeswoman said the results of
that test will not be known for two weeks
when a decision will be made on whether he
will be prosecuted.

She added that Mr Ferris was confident he
was not over the limit.

"Mr Ferris co-operated fully with the
garda¡," the spokeswoman said.

"He does not believe that he was over the
limit. He is awaiting the results of the
sample taken by garda¡.

"Martin is very mindful of the issue of
drink driving, particularly given the high
level of fatalities on our roads. He would
be the first to be critical of anyone who
would drive while over the limit. It is
totally unacceptable and indefensible

Mr Ferris was jailed for ten years for his
part in an IRA gun running operation.

He was intercepted in September 1984 by the
Irish Navy aboard the trawler the Marita
Ann off the Kerry coast with seven tons of
weaponry in its hold.

The huge arms shipment had been smuggled
from America across the Atlantic Ocean in a
fishing boat.

Mr Ferris was elected to Kerry County
Council and Tralee Council in 1999 and to
the dail for Kerry North in 2002.

As the party's EU candidate for Munster in
1999 he received almost 30,000 votes.


Fresh Police Appeal Over LVF Murder

By Staff Reporter

Detectives investigating the murder of a
Catholic council worker have appealed for
information on the ninth anniversary of his

Adrian Lamph (29) was shot dead on April 21
1998 by the Loyalist Volunteer Force as he
worked at a council dump in Portadown, Co

Muriel Gibson (57) was originally charged
with the murder but was later acquitted.

However, she was given an eight-year
sentence after being convicted of impeding
the arrest and prosecution of the killer.

Detective Inspector Michael Irwin said
police had still not been able to identify
the gunman and appealed for witnesses to
come forward.

Police want to hear from anyone who was in
the vicinity of Church Street, Fair Green,
West Street, Jervis Street or Alexander
Gardens and saw any suspicious activity
around the time of the murder at 3.40pm.

The gunman, who was riding a mountain bike,
is described as wearing dark clothing, a
baseball cap and a red and blue soccer

Police think he changed clothing and handed
a gun to a man and woman in Fox Street
shortly after the killing. They then burned
the clothes behind some houses.

Police have asked cyclists who lived in the
area at the time or who lost or had a
bicycle stolen and did not report it to
contact them.


Union Demands Inquiry Into Murder Of Garda

22/04/2007 - 14:16:28

A senior Garda union today backed calls for
an independent public inquiry into the
murder of the first officer to die in the
Republic during the Troubles.

Garda Richard Fallon, 43 was shot twice by
republican splinter group Saor Eire during
an armed bank robbery on Dublin's Arran
Quay in 1970.

He later became the first member of the
force to be posthumously awarded the Scott
Gold Medal for bravery in the line of duty.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and
Inspectors (AGSI) today agreed to write to
the Justice Minister in support of the
Fallon family's call for a public inquiry
into the unsolved murder.

However the union did not comment on the
Fallon family's allegations of a Government
cover-up following the incident.

Confirming the AGSI correspondence to the
Justice Minister, Garda Fallon's youngest
son Finian said today: "I believe that this
is an extraordinary development in this
long-running saga concerning the
circumstances surrounding the murder of my

"I believe that something untoward went on
and the Irish Government is hiding the
truth to this day."

A month after Garda Fallon's murder,
Taoiseach Jack Lynch sacked Finance
Minister Charles Haughey and Agriculture
Minister Neil Blaney over allegations of
gunrunning for the Provisional IRA.

Local Government Minister Kevin Boland
later resigned in sympathy with his

The ministers were later acquitted.

Three activists of the now-defunct Saor
Eire organisation went on trial for the
murder but were later acquitted.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said last
year that the murder was fully investigated
by the Garda at the time and that he was
unconvinced that any further practical
steps were open to him.

Garda Richard Fallon's brother, Martin was
at the centre of recent media allegations
that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern carried a
briefcase of cash on a flight to Manchester
while Finance Minister in the early 1990s.

He was Mr Ahern's ministerial driver at the

Ann McCabe, the widow of Garda Jerry McCabe
who was killed by the IRA in 1996, also
supports the Fallon family in its call for
a public inquiry.

"The family has been a long time looking
for answers and any law-abiding citizen has
a right to the truth," she said last

Finian Fallon added today: "It is time that
the Fianna Fail-led Government showed a
commitment to the kind of governance that
it continuously demands of UK authorities
and agrees to hold a public inquiry into
this scandal."

Mr Fallon and Mrs McCabe are both members
of the Garda Survivors' Support
Association, which was formed in 2005 by
relatives of gardai killed on duty.
Garda Fallon was responding to an alarm at
the Royal Bank on April 3, 1970 when he was
shot in the shoulder and neck as he tried
to apprehend one of the armed raiders.

The capital murder investigation remains
open under the authority of an Assistant
Garda Commissioner.


Don't Bet Your House On A Soft Landing

22 April 2007 By Alan Ahearne

At last, the property market has cooled - I
say `at last' because anecdotes suggest
that the market overheated quite badly
between 2002 and 2006.

For starters, the amount of speculation
increased sharply, with investors willing
to accept cuts in rents so long as house
prices continued to rise. In fact, we now
know that many investors received no rents
at all.

The latest census revealed that 40 per cent
of the dwellings built over the past four
years are lying empty. Those who argue that
demand for new homes is likely to remain
strong over coming years ought to consider
for a moment who has been buying property,
and why.

Second, many decisions to buy property
appear to have depended on wildly
overoptimistic assessments of future gains
in house prices. A recent ESRI/IIB report
shows that consumers still expect average
gains of more than 7 per cent over the next
five years. Increases at that pace are
hardly plausible, and a large contraction
in demand is possible as property owners
and potential buyers revise down their

Third, the housing market seems to be
relying increasingly on so-called
``nontraditional'' forms of financing, such
as interest-only and 100 per cent
mortgages, and on mortgages with longer
repayment terms. There is some evidence to
suggest that many first-time buyers do not fully recognise
the risks associated with these products.

Because the market overheated, housing in
Ireland has become overvalued - house
prices are too high relative to incomes,
and recent hikes in interest rates by the
European Central Bank have made property
unaffordable for a typical young couple.

Optimists might argue that the ECB is
unlikely to push interest rates much beyond
4 per cent, compared with interest rates of
15 per cent in Britain in 1990, which sent
house prices there tumbling.

But this ignores the fact that, by June,
euro area interest rates will have doubled
in 18 months. A doubling of interest rates
is a doubling of interest rates, no matter
how low the level might appear.

House prices also appear to be misaligned
relative to rents. Average rental yields on
new property are reportedly in the region
of 3-4 per cent, below the interest rate
being offered by banks for deposits.

Rents have begun to recover, increasing 10
per cent over the past year. But rents
declined over the period 2001-2005, and
have a lot of ground to make up on all
other prices in the economy, let alone sky-
high house prices.

Looking forward, it seems to me that we are
faced with two possible scenarios. The
first is the elusive soft landing, in which
house prices remain roughly flat for a
prolonged period of time.

This would allow gradually rising incomes
and rents to catch up with house prices,
thereby returning housing valuations to
more sustainable levels. Such a scenario is
possible, but unlikely. The other is a
crash, where the overvaluation is corrected
by an abrupt drop in house prices.

The problem with the soft-landing story is
that wage growth here is probably going to
have to moderate significantly from the
relatively heady pace of recent years,
given the decrease in Ireland's
productivity growth. Otherwise, our economy
will suffer a damaging loss of
international competitiveness. If our
exporting sectors fall into recession, our
property market will crash for sure.

With wages rising only moderately, it will
take a long time, perhaps a decade or so,
before house prices eventually realign with
incomes - and with rents. Inevitable job
losses in the oversized construction sector
will hurt immigrant workers' ability to pay
high rents.

A soft-landing, therefore, requires that,
for the next decade or so, property
investors here remain calm and accept
declines in real (i.e. inflation-adjusted)
house prices, and that global economic
conditions remain benign. That is a big

A soft-landing is what we should aim for
and is possible. But I wouldn't bet my
house on it.

Alan Ahearne is a lecturer in economics at
NUI Galway


The Property Boom Need Not End In Bust

22 April 2007 By Pat McArdle

The line-up for the RTE programme, Future
Shock: Property Crash, was interesting -
four negative academic economists and four
positive practitioners, arguing - when they
were allowed - that a soft landing was more
likely than not. (In my case, less than 30
seconds of a 20-minute interview were

The core negative view, as espoused by Dr
Alan Ahearne of NUI Galway, was based on
the premise that all booms are followed by
busts. A similar view was proffered by
Professor Morgan Kelly of University
College Dublin the following night on Prime

This basic assumption is wrong. The
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD), which produced the
statistics used, concluded their own study
as follows: ``Of the 37 large upturn phases
between 1970 and the mid-1990s, 24 ended in

In a separate review of the Irish economy
last year, they concluded that ``a soft
landing appears the most likely prospect''.
Irish academics who come to a different
conclusion surely have an obligation to
explain why they do so. However, it is not
just the OECD. The Bank for International
Settlements (the central bank of central
banks) looked at 14 countries between 1970
and 2001.

They found that ``booms and busts are not
as closely connected as is widely
believed'' and that only between two-fifths
and two-thirds of all housing price booms
ended in a bust. In the US, another common
currency area, the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation found that more than
80 per cent of the metro-area price booms
examined between 1978 and 1998 ended in a
period of stagnation that allowed household
incomes to catch up with local house

If I were to adopt the same approach as the
two academics above, it would go roughly as
follows: ``I have looked at more than 100
US examples and find that they always end
in a soft landing''. A lot of time was
devoted in the programme to the British
experience, the relevance of which is
questionable. The key factor in the
property crash in that market was a general
inability to pay, which forced people to
surrender the keys to their homes.

However, this was against a background
where interest rates hit 15 per cent,
unemployment 10 per cent, widespread
lending in excess of 100 per cent, frequent
equity withdrawal via top ups and a
reversal of population growth. None of
these is present or likely here. In fact,
Irish banks stress test to ensure that
the borrower can withstand a further 2 per
cent rise in mortgage rates. By definition,
anyone who has borrowed since the middle of
last year can cope with European Central
Bank rates of 5 per cent, however unlikely
that may be.

Much was made of the possibility of a
collapse in the dollar and the negative
knock-on effects. US multinationals provide
about 10 per cent of total employment and
have added virtually nothing to growth in
recent years. Moreover, they are largely
insulated from currency effects, as much of
their trade is intercompany. A dollar
collapse would have a limited impact.

There were other oddities, such as the
statement that 30 per cent of construction
workers are immigrants the correct figure
is 13 per cent. Another was that euro
interest rates would rise during a
recession - the opposite is more likely.

Pat McArdle is chief economist at Ulster

********************* 76455118321.html

Irish Hero Recalled As 'Titanic' Keys Set Record At Auction

Mon, Apr 23, 2007

The keys and chain of the mail room on the
Titanic have achieved œ100,000 (_147,000) at
auction in England, setting a new world
record for Titanic memorabilia and
popularising the story of an Irish Titanic
"hero", writes Tim O'Brien.

James Bertram Williamson (35), who lived on
Dublin's Botanic Road, was one of two Royal
Mail workers and three US postal clerks
who, like the band and the captain, kept
working as the Titanic sank.

The five men were last seen by passengers
carrying 100lb sacks from the flooded mail
room to the upper decks.

By the time they realised the Titanic was
going to sink, it was too late to save
themselves. The clerks chose to keep on
working and went down with the ship.

According to Andrew Aldridge, of
auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Sons in
Devizes, Wiltshire, "even when it was
obvious the ship was sinking, the men
worked more quickly".

"Everyone knows the story of the band
playing on and the brave engineers who
worked to the last to keep the power going
for the lights and the captain going down
with his ship," said Mr Aldridge.

However, little was known about Mr
Williamson and the other four postal
workers who must "have been on odd sight
for passengers to see carrying bags of mail
up flights of stairs while Armageddon was
going on around them . . .They were last
seen feverishly sloshing
through the bitterly cold water, grimly
intent on their ever-hopeless task."

Bedroom steward Alfred Thessinger, who was
one of the last to see the men alive, later
recalled: "I urged them to leave their
work. The shook their heads and continued
at their work."

The chain containing the keys of the mail
room was recovered from the body of one of
the American postal workers, Oscar Woody of

They were given with his personal effects
to his widow, who donated them to his
masonic lodge.

The identity of the vendor at Saturday's
auction was not revealed.

Days after the disaster, the Rutherford
Republican reported that the men had "died
like heroes", and US postmaster general
Frank H Hitchcock said their bravery
"should be a source of pride to the entire
postal service and deserves some marked
appreciation from government".

The three US workers' families received
$2,000 each in compensation. It is not
known if the Royal Mail made a similar
gesture to its two clerks.

c 2007 The Irish Times

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