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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)
October 10, 2007
Unionists Spark Heated Debate At IAUC Convention
News About Ireland & The Irish
IE 10/10/07 Unionists Spark Heated Debate At IAUC Convention
BT 10/10/07 Coroner Wants Colombia Three Fugitive To Testify
BT 10/10/07 SF Into Ulster-Scots As Motion Is Defeated
IT 10/10/07 SF MEP misses out on European award
BT 10/10/07 Opin: UDA Is Out Of Time, Out Of Credibility
Unionists Spark Heated Debate At IAUC Convention
By Irish Echo Staffletters@irishecho.com
Unionist voices at the Irish American Unity Conference
annual convention in Boston last weekend brought a new
dimension to the annual gathering of the pro-United Ireland
The most heated exchanges of the day followed repeated
assertions by Raymond McCord that the IRA ex-prisoners
present were "terrorists".
McCord, whose son Raymond was murdered by a loyalist gang
leader who was a police agent, rebutted claims by former
republican prisoner Gabriel Megahey that the IRA had acted
in defense of embattled nationalist communities in 1969.
"I have acted in defense of my family," said McCord. "I
have beaten up loyalist paramilitaries who threatened my
family but when did the IRA's defense become putting bombs
in pubs in the middle of Belfast?"
On several occasions, McCord challenged his audience to
tell him how his three grandchildren would be better off in
a united Ireland.
"Convince me they'll be better off and I'll vote for a
united Ireland," he said.
However, McCord remained unimpressed by the answers he
"No one here has answered my question satisfactorily," he
told Saturday's closing session of the convention.
Ulster Unionist Roy Garland said dialogue was the
cornerstone of continuing reconciliation in Northern
Ireland. He had harsh condemnation for Dr. Ian Paisley's
DUP, recalling that Ian Paisley Jr., now a minister in the
Northern Ireland Executive, had demanded Garland be drummed
out of the UUP for being pictured with Gerry Adams and
Fr. Aidan Troy, the North Belfast priest who famously
defended schoolchildren who were the focus of angry
loyalist pickets outside Holy Cross school told the
convention that education was crucial to the future of
"The key to carrying the process forward is education," he
Responding to questions about the need to encourage
integrated education, Troy defended the right of parents to
chose a Catholic education for their children.
"But I would like to see the Catholic hierarchy come
forward and to say, what contribution can we make to
integrated education. However, we can't expect the children
at integrated schools to carry the burden of integrating
their communities if at home their parents and grandparents
are carrying a contrary message," he said.
This story appeared in the issue of October 10-16, 2007
Coroner Wants Colombia Three Fugitive To Testify
[Published: Wednesday 10, October 2007 - 08:24]
By Chris Thornton
Northern Ireland's Senior Coroner appealed yesterday for
one of the Colombia Three fugitives to contact him to
testify in a 25-year-old "shoot to kill" case.
Coroner John Leckey told a preliminary hearing in Belfast
he will revive inquests into three controversial RUC
shootings that left six people dead in 1982.
And he said he will require police to hand over the top-
secret Stalker and Sampson reports into the killings.
Legal representatives of PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde
said he is taking legal advice about giving Mr Leckey
access to the reports.
Mr Leckey said the three inquests should be heard in 2009
and indicated that, together, they could take the year to
He also said Martin McCauley - one of three republicans
wanted in Colombia for allegedly aiding FARC terrorists -
is a "crucial" witness to one of the killings.
But McCauley's status as a fugitive from the Colombian
authorities could raise extradition issues about an
appearance in a Northern Ireland inquest.
McCauley and 17-year-old Michael Tighe were shot in a
hayshed where IRA explosives were stored near Lurgan on
November 24, 1982. The shooting is believed to have been
tape-recorded by MI5.
McCauley and two other republicans were arrested in
Colombia in 2001, but later skipped bail and re-appeared in
the Republic two years ago.
"I do not know where Mr McCauley is but I will make every
effort to contact him," Mr Leckey said.
"It is my hope that he will make direct contact with me as
a result of media coverage of today's hearing. I would
regard it as crucial that he give evidence at this
Thirteen years ago, Mr Leckey abandoned inquests into the
deaths of Michael Tighe, IRA members Eugene Toman, Sean
Burns and Gervaise McKerr, who were shot on November 11,
1982, and INLA members Roderick Carrol and Seamus Grew, who
were shot on December 12, 1982.
He dropped the cases because he could not force the police
to hand over the results of investigations into the
killings by English policemen John Stalker and Colin
But a House of Lords ruling earlier this year said police
should supply all material relating to killings, unless
they get an official Government gag.
As a result, Mr Leckey said he can "see no reason why I
should not now be provided with access to both reports".
He indicated that the main aim of the inquests is put into
the public domain any new evidence the Stalker team
Bernard McCloskey QC, appearing for the chief constable,
said police now " believe" they have found full versions of
the Stalker and Sampson reports.
But he said the chief constable is reserving his legal
position at this stage - indicating he could challenge
whether Mr Leckey has the power to hold the inquests after
Another hearing will be held in December to hear the chief
In response to concerns raised by the dead men's families,
Mr Leckey noted he has the power to subpoena the reports if
the chief constable refuses to give them.
Jonathan McKerr, who was nine when his father Gervaise was
killed, said: " "The police position doesn't surprise me at
all. All along their position has been to hold up and
In a separate hearing, Mr Leckey announced that an inquest
into the 1992 shooting of IRA member Pearse Jordan will
start in February.
c Belfast Telegraph
SF Ventures Into Ulster-Scots As Motion To Limit Irish Is
[Published: Wednesday 10, October 2007 - 07:27]
By Noel McAdam
Senior Sinn Fein figure Gerry Kelly yesterday made a
personal pitch for cultural diversity - by addressing
Assembly members in Ulster-Scots.
To a rather flat reception, the Junior Minister then
switched to Irish before Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance MLAs
combined to defeat an Ulster Unionist motion attempting to
limit use of the Irish Language.
Sinn Fein and SDLP MLAs had lodged the first 'petition of
concern' since the return of devolution, requiring Ulster
Unionist David McNarry's motion to have a majority on both
sides of the House.
But in the end, with support from Alliance, the cross-
community vote was not required and the motion - critical
of the new Irish language legislation - was defeated by 44
votes to 46.
Mr McNarry revealed he had devised his motion after
receiving a written reply from Education Minister Caitriona
Ruane half written in Irish.
He had written back, telling Ms Ruane he had found her
letter " intimidating, disrespectful and off-putting" but
had yet to receive even an acknowledgement.
Acknowledging MLAs and Ministers had the right to speak in
the language of their choice, Mr McNarry said the same
right did not apply to writing.
Whatever decision had been made about an Irish Language Act
at the St Andrews talks a year ago, it had proved
"profoundly unsettling for Unionists with potentially very
damaging implications for community relations and relations
in the Assembly," he said.
"In this place, even without an act, Unionists are
experiencing adverse impacts and today we are plainly
saying we are having no more of it."
But Sinn Fein party whip Car l N¡ Chuil¡n thanked Mr
McNarry for creating more Irish language speakers and
allowing enthusiasts to win the argument over language
"The determination of unionist politicians to block any
recognition of the Irish Language is a misguided and macho
demonstration of anti-Irish bigotry," the North Belfast MLA
"It's almost as if unionism has decided to define itself by
how anti-Irish it is - pathetic."
He insisted that the Irish language community wanted equal
treatment with the Welsh language community, in rights that
were part of the Good Friday Agreement, which the UUP
"Where costs are incurred, the bottom line has to be that
Irish speakers are also taxpayers and have been paying
towards their exclusion for decades," he said.
The DUP's Nelson McCausland said the abrasiveness from the
Irish language lobby had to go so the language can become
"part of our cultural wealth" .
The SDLP's Dominic Bradley said the message should be that
the Assembly is open to diversity "not that we are narrow-
minded bigots who cannot share our own cultural
The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry asked: "Does a knock-
about over an issue regarding symbols really add to the
credit of this Assembly? I think not."
c Belfast Telegraph
SF MEP misses out on European award
Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald tonight lost out in picking
up a prestigious European award.
Ms McDonald was one of two Irish politicians including
Independent Kathy Sinnott to be shortlisted for the MEP of
the Year accolade.
She was selected in the Employment and Workers Rights
category but missed out on the title to German socialist
Ms McDonald congratulated Ms Gebhardt during the ceremony
last night in Brussels and said she was honoured to have
been shortlisted for the award.
"Workers rights will continue to be of the uppermost
priority for Sinn Fein in the party's parliamentary work,"
she said. Ms McDonald has a background in trade unions and
employment and was elected to the European Parliament in
The European Parliament Magazine The Parliament has been
organising the annual event since 2005.
MEPs were required to vote for the most capable
Parliamentarians in ten categories, with three MEPs
selected for each.
Ms Sinnott was shortlisted in the Campaigning category, the
results of which are expected tomorrow.
Viewpoint: UDA Is Out Of Time, Out Of Credibility
[Published: Wednesday 10, October 2007 - 08:13]
Although time is up for the UDA to begin decommissioning,
there will be a gap before Social Development minister
Margaret Ritchie stops taxpayers' money going to projects
sponsored by the UPRG. In the next few days, either the UDA
has second thoughts or alternative means have to be found
to help deserving causes in loyalist areas.
Whatever happens, the œ1.2m which the direct rule
administration hoped would lead the UDA to declare an end
to violence and criminality must not be lost. Plans must be
drawn up to channel the money, through reliable sources, to
worthwhile schemes that are short of funds.
Ms Ritchie has taken a brave stand, which the UDA had 60
days to consider, to kick-start a decommissioning process
that has been at a standstill for 13 years. She knew the
risk she was taking, if her ultimatum failed to achieve
results, but she felt she had to place some conditions on
UPRG money, after UDA elements were involved in riots and a
shooting over the summer.
Sir Hugh Orde obviously agreed, but she might have expected
more support from her executive colleagues and Secretary of
State Shaun Woodward. She admits herself that she has been
under pressure from the NIO, to avoid confronting the UDA,
and few politicians have spoken up in her defence. Nigel
Dodds has contrasted the deadline imposed on the UDA with
the laissez-faire attitude to the IRA, which finally
yielded to DUP pressure.
The public has watched in shock as, first, the NIO allotted
the cash to proxy spokesmen for the UDA and, then, as the
deadline was running out, Mr Woodward described the latest
meeting between UDA representatives and the decommissioning
body as "meaningful", hinting that the Minister should
withdraw her threat. No organisation is justified in
holding weapons and, with devolution restored and the DUP
and Sinn Fein heading a power-sharing executive, the public
mood is for complete decommissioning and an end to all
forms of paramilitarism.
Both the UDA and the UPRG are digging in their heels,
arguing that the money employs people with no paramilitary
connections. The mask slipped, however, when the UPRG's
Frankie Gallagher said that withdrawing funds could
threaten the peace process and lead to " a disastrous
place". Quoting UDA sources, he said that if this was how
they were treated when they had guns, how would they be
treated without them?
The UDA's guns are being used as a bargaining chip, much as
the IRA used them, but without a single vote being cast for
its political representatives. The IRA has disarmed and
stood down, permitting Sinn Fein to enter government, while
the UDA has been unwilling or unable to end its
criminality, and has no political voice. To survive, with
any credibility, it must transform itself.
c Belfast Telegraph
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