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October 13, 2007

PSNI Denies Not Intervening in Catholic's Beating

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 10/13/07 PSNI Denies Not Intervening In Catholic’s Beating
BT 10/13/07 MI5 Takes Over Ulster Security
BT 10/13/07 Fury As Orange Hall Is Damaged In Arson Attack
IT 10/13/07 Stardust Families Angry At Inquiry Delay


PSNI Denies It Did Not Intervene As Loyalist Thugs Beat Up

[Published: Saturday 13, October 2007 - 09:56]

By Victor Gordon

These are the dramatic CCTV images of attacks on three
Catholic men by loyalists in the centre of Portadown.

The footage - currently being examined by the Police
Ombudsman shows:

* An attacker smashing a bottle over a young man's head

* A youth being repeatedly beaten and kicked by 10
loyalists after being knocked to the ground

*One of the loyalist gang filmed stamping on a head

A police Land Rover driving past the seat of the trouble
and parking 80 yards away while both incidents are seen on
two CCTV cameras.

The CCTV footage has led to claims that the police did not
respond quickly enough and that the incident was
reminiscent of the fatal attack on Catholic man Robert
Hamill in Portadown in May 1997.

However, the police have denied claims that they did not
intervene and pointed out that the footage has been sent to
the Police Ombudsman.

An eye witness, who did not wish to be named, described the
incident as " terrifying" and said it brought back memories
of the Hamill case.

Upper Bann Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd also said the attack
had "shades of Robert Hamill".

He said: "The same area witnessed the brutal murder of
Robert Hamill under the same circumstances. Local people
are quite rightly outraged that such a scenario can repeat
itself 10 years later. Like the Hamill situation,
eyewitness reports show that the police were in the area
and they were aware there was a loyalist mob in the
Woodhouse area - a nationalist part of town - and they
failed to move them, even though this street has a long
history of such attacks."

And the SDLP's Dolores Kelly said the incident had to be
fully investigated by the Police Ombudsman.

"It is clear that certain elements in Portadown want to
hark back to the dark days of the past which have no place
or support in the local community," she said.

The eye-witness said the police were there from the start
of the attack and claimed he went over to the Land Rover to
appeal to them to go and break it up.

He said: "A police officer actually told me he couldn't see
what was happening because of a slight fog.

"There was a bit of a mist, but I could see what was
happening, and my eyes are older than his, and we could
certainly hear the sound of shouting and breaking glass.
The young man cut by the bottle was taken into a pub where
the blood was running out of him, and when the police
finally did travel the 80 yards to the rioting, it broke up
them. Prompter action by them would have prevented the

In a statement the PSNI said officers did intervene at the
weekend attacks, and a young female officer was injured.

A spokesman said: "We are treating the attacks as sectarian
and repeat our appeal for witness."

The PSNI has sent the CCTV footage to the Police Ombudsman
"mindful of the sensitivity of the area and in the
interests of transparency and community reassurances".

c Belfast Telegraph


MI5 Takes Over Ulster Security

[Published: Saturday 13, October 2007 - 09:55]

By Deric Henderson

MI5 has taken charge of national security in Ulster for the
first time.

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde handed over control to
the intelligence agency, which is opening a new œ20m office
near Belfast.

The transfer of powers took place at midday on Wednesday,
his office confirmed yesterday.

A spokesperson added: "All the necessary service level
agreements are in place and this step brings the Police
Service of Northern Ireland into line with the arrangements
in all other UK police services."

The handover has been on the cards for some time as part of
the new policing and security arrangements in Northern

But it means that for the first time, MI5 will have the
lead role in national security intelligence gathering. The
Government has already made it clear that the agency will
not have any part in civic policing.

c Belfast Telegraph


Fury As Historic Orange Hall Is Damaged In Arson Attack

[Published: Saturday 13, October 2007 - 09:50]

By Victor Gordon

One of Ireland's oldest Orange halls has been attacked by

The hall, at Tamnificarbet near Portadown, suffered
extensive smoke damage after the arsonists smashed a side
window, poured in petrol and set it alight.
Seating near the window was burned and the inside of the
hall was blackened by smoke.

The attack happened early yesterday morning and was
discovered by lodge officers around mid-morning.

"The insurance assessors will be here on Monday and we will
know the extent of the damage then," one said. "We are
totally sickened. This is the third attack on Orange halls
in the area within the past month or so."

Halls at Seagoe and Kilmore were extensively damaged last

Last night Craigavon Independent Unionist councillor Mark
Russell said he was dismayed that the premises of one of
the oldest lodges in Ireland should be attacked.

"It has been in the locality for over 200 years and hosts
much community activity like senior citizens clubs and
dancing classes," he said. "Recently the lodge raised
œ3,000 for charity.

"It is an attack on the Protestant community and must be
condemned by all.

"There have been several similar attacks by republicans in
north Armagh and the time has come to afford these halls
greater protection, especially in rural areas."

c Belfast Telegraph


Stardust Families Angry At Inquiry Delay

Fri, Oct 12, 2007

Families of the Stardust victims insisted today they are
being kept in the dark by the Government about delays to an
independent inquiry.

They have written a letter to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
demanding a start date be announced for the investigation
into the 1981 nightclub fire.

Antoinette Keegan, who lost two sisters in the St
Valentine's Night fire, said she has been given assurances
by the Taoiseach's office that everything is ready to

The Stardust Survivors Committee spokeswoman insisted that
testimony from witnesses and experts was supposed to start
last month.

In a letter to the Taoiseach, she said the families are
hurt, disappointed and let down that promises have not been
fulfilled. "We are very confused, in the sense that
everything is ready to move, and would like to know why
there is a delay on a start date," the letter states.

But the Government is adamant that inquiry chairman John
Gallagher SC, appointed to head the investigation in April,
is still involved in preparations.

Ms Keegan said the families have had no contact from the
Government about the apparent delay.

In the letter to the Taoiseach, she writes: "The concern of
the families is of the utmost and you indicated you would
be willing to have this external, independent examination
put in place for the families.

"We would request once again a meeting with you to have
this matter finalised and a start date announced to
commence this examination in the very near future."

The Government insisted there are matters that must be
finalised before the first hearings but declined to give a
start date.

c 2007

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