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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
August 03, 2007
Hamill Inquiry To Proceed 'At Earliest Opportunity'
Robert Hamill (center)
News about Ireland & the Irish
UT 08/01/07 Hamill Inquiry To Proceed 'At Earliest Opportunity'
DJ 08/03/07 Priests On Patrol 'A Stunt': Fr. Canny
CO 08/02/07 Priest: Irish Catholics Relieved Brits Military Left
AF 07/31/07 Timeline: British Army Role In N.Ireland
BT 08/03/07 Opin: What Will Become of UDA in Peace Process
BT 08/03/07 Opin: Just Who Is In Control Of UDA?
EX 08/03/07 Clancy Leads Tributes To Legend Makem
Hamill Inquiry To Proceed 'At Earliest Opportunity'
The Robert Hamill team have won a House of Lords ruling which
could open the way for full hearings into the 1997 killing of
Robert Hamill, 25, by a loyalist mob.
The victim, from Portadown, Co Armagh, was beaten to death by a
loyalist mob in the centre of the town when police allegedly
watched and failed to intervene.
A total of 20 retired Royal Ulster Constabulary officers claimed
they would be in fear of their lives if identified and have
fought a decision by inquiry chairman Sir Edwin Jowitt`s team
that they appear unscreened.
The Lords said the Hamill tribunal had used the correct test in
judging whether officers were put at increased risk appearing
unshielded before the inquiry.
An inquiry spokesman said: "Now that the approach taken by the
Robert Hamill Inquiry has been approved by the House of Lords it
looks forward to commencing the full oral hearings at the
"If the subsidiary point is pursued it will be dealt with under
the special fast track regime for Robert Hamill Inquiry
litigation laid down by the Lord Chief Justice in Northern
Ireland who has directed that the necessary steps in litigation
be dealt with `in days and not weeks`."
Lord Carswell and the rest of the law lords sent a separate legal
dispute about whether the panel`s decision was reasonable back to
the High Court in Belfast.
The public inquiry was established to decide whether police
committed any wrongful act or omission.
RUC members have denied witness claims that four officers in a
vehicle saw what happened and failed to act. Hearings have been
delayed for almost a year while the legal tussle over
Jane Winter, director of lobby group British/Irish Rights Watch,
said there could be significant time wasted.
"It means yet more delay for the tribunal because it can`t start
until this issue is decided," she said.
"We are going right back to square one, to decide whether the
tribunal has been irrational or not."
The independent inquiry was recommended by Canadian ex-judge
Peter Cory, to probe alleged security force collusion north and
south of the Irish border.
The inquiry panel was set up in December 2004 and members were
originally scheduled to begin hearing evidence last September.
Robert`s sister, Diane Hamill, said the family were adamant the
officers should appear unscreened.
"They need to stand up and answer questions as who they are. They
have done it for years, given evidence in person, and not hid
themselves," she said.
"This is an integral part of it. People need to stand up and
answer for their actions and lack of action."
Sinn Fein MLA John O`Dowd said there should be complete
"The origin of the delay is clearly a result of those former
members of the RUC who cannot throw off the culture of
concealment and cover-up which became a byword for the force in
which they served," he said.
"This case is not about anonymity, these individuals have already
appeared publicly in a court case associated with the murder of
Priests On Patrol 'A Stunt': Fr. Canny
The possiblilty of priests joining police officers on patrol has
been dismissed as a "stunt" and a "non-runner" by a local
Father Michael Canny, administrator at St. Eugene's Cathedral,
spoke out after details emerged of a new scheme aimed at
developing links between the PSNI and clergy.
The 'Faith in Policing' scheme is being spearheaded in Strabane
with the possibility that it may later be rolled-out across the
Police say they hope the plan will lead to an 'ongoing and
dedicated relationship' between the clergy and themselves.
Inspector Grahan Dodds, of the PSNI, explained that the proposed
scheme would include priests going out on patrol with officers to
gain a full picture of their responsibilities.
However, Fr. Canny says this simply won't happen.
"The shadowing of police on patrol is a non-runner," he told the
'Journal'. "Priests have enough on their plate and we are already
thin enough on the ground without becoming part-time police
officers. Also, you have to look at the question of professional
training. For example, what would happen if a priest encountered
a particular situation while on patrol - one they haven't had the
training to cope with?
"Going out on patrols seems nothing more than a stunt."
The priest also expressed concern at other aspects of the plan,
in particular the suggested sharing of information which he says
could prove a "difficult one."
"Priests, as every citizen does, have a duty to report crimes
they may come across but any information priests have learned
through their personal capacity cannot be shared.
"Reporting crime is one thing but talking about this or that
person over tea and tittle tattle is another thing entirely."
Father Canny did, however, welcome some of the proposals,
particularly the idea of priests becoming chaplains to police
"Priests have always been in and out of police stations,
particularly in the days before people could afford solicitors.
However, nationalist recruits often tell us they miss a spiritual
input in their training and career. Many people still cannot come
home to Shantallow or Carnhill as they feel isolated. Therefore,
the idea of them having a chaplain to consult has to be a good
Priest: Northern Irish Catholics Relieved British Military Have Left
By Michael Kelly
Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNS) - A Belfast-based Passionist
priest said Northern Irish Catholics feel "joy and relief" that
British military operations in the region have come to an end.
Father Aidan Troy, known for his mediation role in the 2001 Holy
Cross Girls' Primary School dispute when Protestant protesters
blocked access to the school, told Catholic News Service he hopes
that "children in the North will never again have to witness the
spectacle of armed troops patrolling the streets."
In the Catholic community, "there (have been) obviously mixed
feelings. But we're overwhelmingly relieved that operations have
come to an end," said the priest at Holy Cross Parish in the
working-class Ardoyne suburb of Belfast.
Father Troy said he hoped that the end of Operation Banner would
mark the end of "a very sad chapter in the history of Ireland."
"If there's a positive note to this whole affair, it's that the
troops are saying goodbye to a much better Ireland than the one
they came to 38 years ago," he said.
Father Troy said that the end of the operation also "marked
another milestone in the road to normalization."
"In my heart, I am so happy and joyful; it's not a feeling of
good riddance, it's the closing of a chapter that has been so
painful from a human, moral and religious point of view," he
"Now, this is a sign that we're on the way to a better Ireland --
please God," added Father Troy.
Operation Banner, the longest military campaign in British
history, came to an end officially July 31. Security in Northern
Ireland is now the sole responsibility of the Police Service of
British troops were first deployed in Northern Ireland in 1969
after the local authorities were unable to stop gangs of
Protestants attacking Catholic civil rights demonstrators and the
burning of Catholic property.
At the time, the British government believed that the deployment
would last for approximately six months.
Father Troy said, "We all remember the scenes of joy in Catholic
areas when the troops first arrived; they were deployed to stop
Catholics being burnt out of their homes and attacked at a time
when" the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Northern Ireland's former
police force, was "either unwilling or unable to protect
However, Father Troy added, "the British military presence in the
North is undoubtedly blighted by the instances of collusion. This
was made worse by the fact that we had a regiment ... made up
almost entirely of the Protestant unionist community who had
access to intelligence on their Catholic neighbors and
unrestricted access to weapons, both of which were passed on to
The Stevens Report, published by the British government in 2003,
found that there had been widespread collusion in the murder of
Catholics between members of the British army and members of
More than 3,500 people have been killed during more than 30 years
of civil conflict in Northern Ireland between Irish nationalists,
who wanted the region to split from Great Britain and join with
the Irish Republic to form a united Ireland, and British
unionists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of Great
In May, Catholic-Protestant leaders formed a new power-sharing
government. Under the new government, Northern Ireland's Cabinet-
level ministers take over direct responsibility from officials in
Great Britain. All decisions are made on a cross-community basis,
with a majority of both Catholic and Protestant officials
required to make a decision binding.
British Army Role In N.Ireland
Staff and agencies
31 July, 2007
By The Associated Press 7 minutes ago
Key events for the British army in Northern Ireland:
July 3-5: Army imposes curfew on Catholic west Belfast, mounts
house-to-house search for IRA weapons. Army kills four civilians
in gun battles with IRA - its first killings - in turning point
for Catholic-army relations.
Feb. 6: IRA sniper kills first British soldier, Gunner Robert
Curtis, 20, in north Belfast.
Jan. 30: Army's elite Parachute Regiment shoots to death 13
Catholic demonstrators in IRA-controlled part of Londonderry,
which had been off-limits for months to police and soldiers.
Worst act of violence committed by army becomes known as Bloody
Army in South Armagh borderland, where IRA ambushes force troops
to travel by helicopter rather than road, build 14 hilltop
surveillance posts to monitor "bandit country."
May 8: 24-member Special Air Service team ambushes IRA unit in
Loughgall village. Seven IRA men and a Catholic civilian shot
dead with more than 600 bullets in what was army's biggest
killing of IRA members.
Oct. 24: IRA takes hostage the families of army civilian
employees, who are forced to drive car bombs into army bases,
their deliveries detonated by remote control. Six soldiers and
one employee, a Catholic cook, killed. Army engineers design new
security systems to counteract IRA's "human bomb" tactic.
July 1: In bid to erode Protestant domination of Ulster Defense
Regiment, army merges it with Republic of Ireland-recruited unit.
The new Royal Irish Regiment remains overwhelmingly Protestant.
Sept. 4: Soldiers from Scots Guards regiment commit army's last
fatal shooting in Northern Ireland. An unarmed 18-year-old
Catholic, Peter McBride, is shot in the back as he runs away from
soldiers searching him in north Belfast. Two soldiers convicted
of murder but paroled as part of 1998 peace accord. To Catholic
fury, both rejoin Scots Guards.
Oct. 11: IRA drives two car bombs into army's Northern Ireland
headquarters, killing one soldier and wounding 40.
Feb. 12: IRA kills its last British soldier, when a South Armagh
sniper shoots Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick, 23, through the
back as he chats to a local Catholic woman.
April 10: Britain commits itself to "demilitarization" as part of
Good Friday peace accord. Years of gradual troop withdrawals,
base closures and security reductions commence.
Aug. 1: Britain unveils two-year plan to cut army in Northern
Ireland to peacetime level of 5,000 troops.
July 31: Deployment of troops to support Northern Ireland police,
codenamed Operation Banner, officially ends after 38 years.
Opin: Brian Rowan: New World That May Not Be Too Far Away
[Published: Friday 3, August 2007 - 11:57]
Security expert Brian Rowan asks what will become of the UDA in
the next phase of peace process
You can see the sense in the plan - in this deadline that would
be a last chance for the paramilitaries, and in the current
context for the loyalists.
The Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan doesn't want to step
onto political ground. He's making that clear.
His argument is purely a policing one.
That crime should be called what it is - and no longer dressed up
as paramilitary activity.
The criminals shouldn't have that cover.
That's why the senior police officer wants this "cut off" date,
and if the UDA or any other organisation continues with the type
of activities he has described, then they should be labelled
Peter Sheridan is giving the paramilitary "brigadiers" something
more to think about.
The Independent Monitoring Commission will report in October and
again next April, and if I'm reading their signals correctly,
there is no mood to " prolong" that monitoring role.
People are starting to think about the next phase of the peace
process and what is required - and what is no longer needed.
"Nobody else has an IMC," one source commented.
Nobody else has an Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning (IICD) either.
The loyalists - the main organisations the UDA and the UVF - have
not decommissioned any of their weapons.
And the UDA has been linked to those recent gun attacks on the
police in Carrickfergus and Bangor.
But what will happen in the new situation - the next phase of the
peace process - that some are now turning their minds to.
What if there is no IMC and no IICD? What if the paramilitaries
are just criminals? What if their guns are found?
A source who spoke to this newspaper, gave a very clear answer:
"Once you close down the IMC and the IICD, any weapons found
(will be) open to forensic tests."
The amnesty, the arrangements of the decommissioning process,
that the loyalists haven't taken advantage of, will be gone.
This is the new world that may not be that far away.
The UDA, more than any other organisation, is under a political
and security spotlight.
It has put itself there and is being watched because of the
continuing power struggle within the organisation, and watched
because of its involvement in what happened in Carrickfergus and
All of this makes a nonsense of the suggestion that the
organisation is in a serious conflict transformation process, and
all of this emphasises the importance of decommissioning.
Look at how quickly the UDA, or factions within it, were able to
find their guns and fire them.
In relation to another of the loyalist organisations, there is a
different, better assessment.
My understanding is that the IMC sees some change in the profile
of the UVF.
That changing profile has to do with reduced activity since its
endgame statement was delivered on May 3.
"An effort is being made, and it would be a pity if they spoiled
it all by not being able to deliver on weapons," a source told
the Belfast Telegraph.
There is a thinking that is moving towards Peter Sheridan's plan
- and the deadline and a last window of opportunity.
"There has to be a cut off, and thereafter they (the
paramilitaries) are organised crime gangs."
That's the new position the Assistant Chief Constable is arguing
Will the politicians - the Government - see the logic and the
worth in that policing suggestion?
c Belfast Telegraph
Opin: Just Who Is In Control Of UDA?
[Published: Friday 3, August 2007 - 10:20]
It must be embarrassing for the leadership of the UDA. Just two
weeks ago the group's so-called Inner Council gathered together
to publicly pledge that "criminals have no place in the UDA".
The group's political wing - the Ulster Political Research Group
- also stated that those involved in selling drugs, extortion or
other crime " did so without the UDA's backing".
These public claims were no doubt made in a bid to reassure the
Government that the organisation is committed to peaceful means
and entitled to the œ1.2m pledged funding for UDA-linked
However, within 24 hours, a police officer was shot during a
stand-off between feuding UDA members and police in
Carrickfergus. A civilian was stabbed during the violent clashes
which involved a 150-strong mob.
Less than two weeks later officers came under fire again from
another UDA mob that was responsible for organising one of the
worst nights of rioting in Ulster in recent years.
Seven shots were fired at police who were also attacked with
petrol bombs, fireworks and stones after 200 thugs took to the
streets of the loyalist Kilcooley estate in Bangor in protest
against police raids.
During the raids œ6,000 in cash, as well as a quantity of drugs
and counterfeit goods, were allegedly seized from a number of
So, if the leadership is stating that the UDA is committed to
peaceful means, but yet its members have been involved in
internal feuding, violence and organised criminality, the
question is - who exactly is in control?
Chief Constable Hugh Orde said he believes the UDA leadership is
either unable to control its members or does not want to control
"They (the leadership) should wise up and get their act
together," Sir Hugh said.
This week's violence has led to renewed calls for Government
funding for UDA-linked community projects to be halted.
Earlier this year the Government announced that œ1.2m of public
money would be spent on implementing a business plan from the
The UPRG said, at the time, it hoped the project would result in
the setting up of community work teams across Northern Ireland
who could lead loyalists away from crime and paramilitarism and
into the social and economic regeneration of their
However, although the UDA leadership is claiming to have
renounced violence and criminality, the actions of its members,
who opened fire on police twice in the past two weeks, tells a
very different story.
Sir Hugh, who does not usually get involved in politics, took the
unusual step yesterday of voicing his reservations about pledged
funding to the UDA.
"It is not good enough for the UDA to say it is going to deliver
a peaceful solution," he said.
" This was organised criminality by the UDA. It is the second
time in two weeks my officers have come under fire.
"If you are looking for funding you need to get something in
return. If you want my personal opinion, I would not give them
50p. They need to make clear they condemn criminal activity."
The UDA is increasingly being left exposed as criminals with
members continually looking backwards instead of forwards.
Despite the words of leaders it is uncertain if the will to end
criminality actually exists.
Many members have made lucrative livings out of extortion and
drugs and may be resistant to surrender their "livelihoods ".
However, with an increasingly stable political situation in
Northern Ireland, the elements of the UDA are becoming more
outdated. But this does not mean that they do not retain the
capacity for causing destruction and violence.
UDA leaders must reply to Sir Hugh Orde's statement - can they
control their members or do they just not want to?
c Belfast Telegraph
Clancy Leads Tributes To Legend Makem
By Niall Murray
"I suppose he was my brother in many ways."
That was the reaction of music legend Liam Clancy yesterday
following news that his life-long friend and collaborator Tommy
Makem had died at the age of 74 in America.
The Armagh native had been ill with lung cancer for some time and
he passed away on Wednesday night at his home in Dover, New
Hampshire, where he moved as a young man more than 50 years ago.
His long-time music partner said his friend's passing was a
terrible blow despite the fact that he was aware for some time
that the end was nearing.
"Tommy was a man of high integrity and honesty. His courage
really shone through towards the end. Our paths diverged, of
course, many times, but our friendship never waned," he said.
"I think Tommy's greatest strength was that he was an
entertainer. He just had the knack of making an audience laugh or
cry, holding them in his hands," he told RT Radio's Morning
The contribution the pair made - along with Liam's brothers Tom
and Paddy - as the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, was
acknowledged in a commemorative stamp series issued by An Post
But their mark was made around the world from their formation in
the mid-1950s, according to President Mary McAleese who paid a
warm tribute yesterday.
"In life, Tommy brought happiness and joy to hundreds of
thousands of fans the world over. Always the consummate musician,
he was also a superb ambassador for the country, and one of whom
we will always be proud," she said.
The sentiments were echoed by Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister
Seamus Brennan, saying his abilities went beyond music, with
other skills as a storyteller, actor, songwriter and poet.
"I wish to pass on my condolences to Tommy's family, relatives
and friends at this sad time and hope that they can take comfort
from the fact that his music is a wonderful legacy that will live
on for generations to come," he said.
No funeral arrangements had yet been made but details will be
posted on the official website, www.makem.com, where personal
tributes were paid by fans, friends acquaintances throughout the
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