You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2004.
IRA ‘interested in building peace’
Mr Adams said there were question marks over loyalist cessations
Progress made since the IRA’s first ceasefire must be built upon, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said.
Speaking on the 10th anniversary of the group’s cessation, he said the IRA was genuinely interested in building the peace process.
Mr Adams said there was a heavy onus on both the DUP and Sinn Fein to agree measures within the terms of the Good Friday Agreement “that can bring all outstanding issues to a definitive and conclusive closure”.
The IRA declared its first ceasefire on 31 August 1994.
Mr Adams said the cessation had given birth “to enormous hope and expectation for the future and the then embryonic peace process was given significant impetus”.
However, he added: “Ten years on and the peace process amounts to no more than the cessations, with many question marks over the loyalist cessations.”
Much of the essential aspects of the Agreement – on human rights and equality, on policing and justice matters and demilitarisation – had not been implemented, he said.
Also speaking on the 10th anniversary, Church of Ireland Primate Robin Eames said people in Northern Ireland needed to start trusting each other for the political process to work.
Dr Eames said people wanted a new sense of trust
The archbishop said he was hearing conflicting messages from politicians and those on the street.
Dr Eames said the sense of euphoria at the time “was very quickly overtaken by suspicion and by questions”.
“I would feel that in the years since there has been a gradual awareness that we haven’t had the level of atrocities – if I may put it that way – that we were experiencing before that,” he said.
“And of course, we are thankful for that. What, in fact, I think has given grounds for some of the suspicion… has been the feeling that punishment shootings were going on – there was no satisfactory or clear renunciation of violence,” he said on Tuesday.
“If you take it in a historical context, I would say more people now are thinking that (the ceasefire) was quite a significant stage that was reached.”
‘A stable society’
Also speaking on Tuesday, Catholic primate Archbishop Sean Brady paid tribute to the work of church leaders towards the IRA ceasefire.
Dr Brady said it was time for all sides to take risks
“I paid tribute to the role of clergy – both Catholic and Protestant – in bringing about the ceasefire, because ceasefires just don’t happen, they need a lot of preparation, patient talks and discussion,” said Dr Brady.
“I wanted to pay tribute in a special way to those Protestant clergy, who with great patience and courage, risked their own lives and livelihood during that period.”
Ten years on from the first ceasefire, a culture of peace was developing, he said.
He added: “It is again time for all sides to take risks, and such an opportunity presents itself to the parties as they face into talks next month in Kent.”
‘Russian roulette’ driver jailed
Rossa Quigley was struck by a stolen car on the Cliftonville Road
A Belfast teenager has been jailed for six years for causing death by dangerous driving.
Malachy Delaney from Whiterock Drive in the west of the city had been stealing cars since the age of 14, Belfast Crown Court heard on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old was driving a car which knocked down and killed Rossa Quigley, 25, in north Belfast last year.
Delaney pleaded guilty to 11 charges, including three further charges of dangerous driving.
Four other men, who were passengers in the car, were also sentenced.
Two were given suspended sentences, while the other two were given jail terms.
The judge said the term “joyriding” was totally inappropriate in this case.
A more appropriate term was “playing Russian roulette with the lives of the innocent”, he said.
Members of Mr Quigley’s family sat at the back of the court holding pictures of the victim throughout the hearing.
Outside the court Rossa Quigley’s father Frank said there could be no justice for what they’d suffered.
He said: “He was rushing home to see his girlfriend. He had just seen his mother, it was her birthday.
“She will never have a birthday, but every single birthday she’ll remember his smiling face that day.”
Mr Quigley died after he was struck by the car on the Cliftonville Road in April 2003.
Slowly, the North has embraced the miracle of its peace
Celebrating a decade of peace: ‘Ceasefire baby’ Samuel Stewart from Carrickfergus in Co Antrim during his first trip to Stormont looks forward to his 10th birthday on Wednesday, the anniversary of the declaration of the IRA cessation of violence . . . just six minutes before he was born.
THE bricks still sometimes fly in Belfast, people still get killed. Old hatreds remain fresh, with divisions so deep that many simply cannot live together.
The scourge of paramilitarism still stalks the land.
Ten years to the day after the first IRA ceasefire of 1994, not a single one of Northern Ireland’s plentiful problems has been solved: the political, social and economic problems are still there.
And yet 10 years of peace process have improved almost everything, gradually bringing a better life to almost everyone and ushering in a new era.
In the beginning there were hopes that this new phase would take away all the problems, but it has not worked out like that. Peace processes can be judged and measured in various ways, but perhaps the most telling calibration is that of simply counting how many lives are being lost in a conflict. It can be argued that up to 700 men, women and children who might have been killed are still alive today, because of the dramatic and unprecedented drop in killing rates since the ceasefires of 1994.
The number of killings in the decade after the IRA ceasefire is down to one-fifth of the total for the 10 previous years. Just 173 people died in the decade following the ceasefire, compared to 870 killed in the previous 10 years.
In recent years deaths have taken place at a rate of around one a month, while before the ceasefire killings were carried out at a rate of almost two a week.
The patterns of killings, as well as their scale, have changed significantly, with loyalists responsible for most of the deaths. Many of these are classed as internal feuding, often springing from turf wars involving racketeering and drugs. Many regard them as post-troubles deaths.
In terms of the IRA, it has been responsible for killing around 30 people in the last 10 years. This compares with more than 400 IRA deaths in the decade before its ceasefire. In the last few years its lethal activities have been much reduced, to the point where it is suspected of carrying out perhaps one killing a year, while the annual loyalist average is in double figures.
In fact, the last two deaths that can with confidence be attributed to the IRA took place in early 2001. Republican punishment attacks have also recently decreased.
The reduction in violence has been enough to transform many aspects of life, with a widespread relaxation visible in both the security forces and the public at large. After decades of military patrols, the sight of soldiers on the streets is in now a rarity in most places.
The geography and demography of north Belfast, where in some districts Catholics and Protestants see themselves as competing for land, has produced many less visible but long-running disputes which can sour the atmosphere.
Almost the entire working class lives apart as religious segregation has become more and more rigid. The two sides now work together much more, largely because of tough anti-discrimination job laws, while their homes and educational systems remain separate. But the economy has improved, though it continues to be kept afloat with substantial subsidies from Britain. There has been little in the way of flagship manufacturing investment, but many major retail outlets have opened.
There is little public acclaim for such progress since 30 years of conflict have, unsurprisingly, strengthened Belfast’s traditional reserve and understatement. Pessimism is deeply ingrained. Advances tend to be noted but not celebrated. Many, for example, did not welcome the original declaration of the ceasefire, reacting instead with suspicion and uncertainty.
It has been a tortuously difficult decade, studded with disappointments and setbacks. Ten years is a long time to wait for an accommodation of the extremes, and the wait is not over yet.
But as well as an ordeal it has been a salutary and probably necessary education, with many learning the hard way that their dreams of conquest and outright victory are just dreams, and that in the end it will come down to give and take. And if the process has yet to deliver full peace it has also created much hope where once there was practically none. Belfast is no longer a metaphor for the intractable but an example of how, slowly and painfully, the unthinkable can eventually become possible.
Republicans ask UN for Maze recognition
A republican ex-prisoners group is to apply to the United Nations to
have the former Maze prison designated a world heritage site.
Sinn Féin has backed the move and called on the UN’s Education,
Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to consider bestowing
the prestigious title on the controversial site.
If successful, the Maze would join the Vatican city, the Great Wall
of China and Venice on the list of protected places around the world.
Republicans believe at least one of the infamous H-blocks should be
preserved as a reminder of a turbulent period of the north’s history.
“There are a number of historical and cultural site around the world
which Unesco have considered as world heritage sites,” Lisburn
councillor Paul Butler said.
“These have included Robben Island in South Africa and Kilmainham
jail in the south of Ireland.
“We believe that Long Kesh should stand alongside other important
historical sites throughout the world.”
Mr Butler said a museum and peace campus would bring tourists to the
area and put Lisburn city on the map.
“If part of this former prison were turned into a museum, it would be
an attraction of international standing,” he said.
“It would also help give future generations an insight and
understanding into the last 30 years of conflict here.”
August 31, 2004
IRA CASTS SHADOW 10 YEARS AFTER CEASEFIRE
Tue 31 August, 2004 05:48
By Alex Richardson
BELFAST (Reuters) – For many of the men and women who had spent years at the sharp end of the Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) violent campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland, August 31, 1994 was an emotional day.
Former IRA prisoner Jim Gibney, now a senior backroom figure with the group’s political ally Sinn Fein, was travelling back to Belfast from a meeting in Dublin when news broke that the Catholic guerrillas had declared a ceasefire from midnight.
“It triggered off in me a tidal wave of emotion … my mind was totally preoccupied by those people who I grew up with who were in the IRA and died on active service,” he said.
“It was a big, big, emotional time, and the overwhelming emotion for me was a sense of emptiness.”
Danny Morrison, the former Sinn Fein publicity director who famously summed up IRA strategy in the 1980s as “an Armalite in one hand and a ballot box in the other”, was in jail for his part of in the false imprisonment of an IRA informer.
“The morning it was called we heard a newsflash on the radio and I just went back to my cell and cried, partly through a sense of sadness and partly a sense of relief,” he said.
With its “war” mired in grim stalemate, secret talks between Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and moderate Roman Catholic John Hume had persuaded IRA leaders that a negotiated settlement could be reached.
“The IRA was attempting to cash in the chips of the armed struggle, and do justice, if it was possible, to all the sacrifices and all the suffering,” said Morrison, now a writer.
Pro-British “loyalists” called a ceasefire six weeks later.
But political progress was slow, with London and Protestant unionists, who want to retain ties to Britain, wary of the IRA’s intentions after 25 years of bombings and assassinations.
Early in 1996 the IRA ceasefire ended abruptly when a huge lorry bomb tore through a business district in east London, killing two shopkeepers.
The following year it was reinstated, and within months negotiations had started which resulted in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which set up a power-sharing government.
Self-rule has since stalled. Britain reimposed direct rule from London in October 2002 after allegations of IRA spying. Unionists say they will not share power with Sinn Fein until the IRA disbands and surrenders all its illegal weapons.
The modern IRA was spawned in the turbulent summer of 1969 when centuries-old sectarian tensions erupted in violence.
Tommy Gorman, a Catholic from a working-class district of west Belfast, said he joined after witnessing police siding with a Protestant mob petrol-bombing Catholic homes.
“It wasn’t an easy decision for me, I was married and I had a brother in the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary, the police) and another brother in the British Army,” said Gorman, now 59.
“But on that August night in 1969 came the realisation for me that the place was irreformable, so you had to deconstruct it. At that time the IRA was the only vehicle available.”
He became an “engineer”, making bombs for the deadly campaign the resurgent IRA was unleashing on the streets.
For the next 25 years conflict raged as the IRA fought a bitter war of attrition against police and British troops, while Protestant “loyalist” paramilitaries hit back with often random attacks on Catholics.
Gorman became a hero to IRA sympathisers after he and six others escaped from a British prison ship moored in Belfast Lough in 1972. But he became disillusioned with the group and is no longer involved.
A supporter of the ceasefire, he believes the IRA has abandoned the left-wing ideology it espoused when he joined.
“I did what I did full of idealism, I thought I was doing the right thing, (but) as it’s come now, it’s not worth a drop of anyone’s blood, one second in prison, what’s been attained, the changes are not commensurate with the struggle,” he said.
“The people, maybe, that I was responsible for killing and causing suffering, at least when I did it, I know it sounds paradoxical, but I did it in good faith, I thought I was involved in a revolution to bring about an egalitarian society.”
IRA HOLDING KEY TO TALKS?
In mid-September Northern Ireland’s political leaders will meet at a castle in southern England for talks billed by London and Dublin as a last chance for reviving the Good Friday accord. The IRA could hold the key.
Unionists will demand proof that the IRA, which says it has secretly destroyed some of its weapons, is going to finish disarming and stand down as an active paramilitary organisation.
Sinn Fein has its own list of demands, which include further police reform, a scaling back of Britain’s military presence, and an effective amnesty for IRA fugitives.
In recent weeks Adams has told republicans they must be ready for the IRA to disappear — if they get what they want.
Is the IRA ready to leave the stage?
“The only way that can be answered is in the context of the other armed groups that are still there, the British Army, the PSNI (police), the loyalist paramilitaries,” said Gibney, a close ally of Adams.
“I thought we’d be further on than we are today in terms of the armed groups, but we’re clearly not — and I don’t see any real prospect of being much further on in the autumn.”
IMC MEETS BLAIR TODAY
The Independent Monitoring Commission has announced it is meeting the British prime minister, Tony Blair, in London this afternoon.
No further details were given other than that the meeting was at the IMC`s request.
Its next report is due out in October and is expected to conclude that the IRA has significantly scaled down its activities.
SECURITY ALERT ON M1 MOTORWAY
There is a security alert on the M-1 motorway.
A suspect vehicle has been left under a bridge and the road has been closed in both directions between Broadway and Lisburn.
Meanwhile bomb alerts at Belfast City hall and the Park Avenue hotel have been declared hoaxes.
Man stabbed and five arrested as mobs rampage
31/08/2004 – 09:09:42
A man was stabbed and five people were arrested after mobs went on the rampage in a second night of trouble in a Northern Ireland town.
A youth was arrested for assault after the man was stabbed in the Fairhill Street area of Ballycastle, Co Antrim.
The victim was treated in hospital but his injuries were not thought to be life threatening.
The juvenile was later released on bail, pending further inquiries.
At around 2am today, four people were arrested for public order offences after disturbances in the North Street area of the town.
When police arrived they were pelted with bottles and other missiles.
The latest trouble followed disturbances on the eve of the annual Auld Lammas Fair, which attracts thousands of people to Ballycastle.
At around 2am on Monday a mob of about 50 people attacked police officers in the North Street area.
Officers used CS Spray to defend themselves while under attack from bottles and other missiles.
Two men were charged with assaulting police, disorderly behaviour and resisting arrest. One of them was also charged with obstruction and having a Class C drug.
North Antrim DUP representative Ian Paisley Jr said the trouble appeared to be fuelled by alcohol.
“I am very concerned that there is a deliberate flouting of the drinking in public places by-laws which has permitted an attitude of ’when the drink’s in, the wit’s out’,” he said.
“Clearly the local community must ensure that they insist that people behave and don’t see the police as people to attack in this way.”
SDLP Moyle councillor Michael Molloy said that while he did not believe the incidents were sectarian, they could be designed to provoke conflict.
“I’m concerned that some of this may be organised, that these groups are getting together to cause problems for the local community and the police,” he said.
“I hope that the police presence will deter and make people desist from this type of action.”
Suspect packages intercepted
A least one package was found at Royal Mail’s main sorting office
Eight suspicious packages addressed to members of the Policing Board and the Police Ombudsman have been discovered by Royal Mail staff.
Seven of the packages were intercepted at Northern Ireland’s main sorting office at Mallusk on Tuesday.
Another package was addressed to a politician’s office in Coleraine, where post office staff raised the alarm.
The police said all of the packages contained powder, which is now being examined.
Other packages were mailed to addresses in Belfast, Scarva, Larne and Newtownards.
A spokesman said the powder is not thought to pose a “credible risk”.
A Policing Board spokeswoman confirmed that at least one of the parcels was sent to its headquarters in Belfast.
“We have been informing members to be vigilant about any mail as a precautionary measure but we have been advised that they are hoaxes,” she said.
A Police Ombudsman spokesman said: “We are aware of the packages. The police are keeping us informed of the situation.”
In July, dissident republicans were blamed for five letter bombs intercepted at the Mallusk office.
One of the devices was addressed to the governor of Maghaberry Prison in County Antrim.
Four devices were sent to district policing partnership members in the north west.
Óglaigh na hÉireann statement of 31 August 1994
The following statement was issued by the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann on 31 August 1994:
“Recognising the potential of the current situation and in order to enhance the democratic process and underlying our definitive commitment to its success, the leadership of the IRA have decided that as of midnight, August 31, there will be a complete cessation of military operations. All our units have been instructed accordingly.
At this crossroads the leadership of the IRA salutes and commends our volunteers, other activists, our supporters and the political prisoners who have sustained the struggle against all odds for the past 25 years. Your courage, determination and sacrifice have demonstrated that the freedom and the desire for peace based on a just and lasting settlement cannot be crushed. We remember all those who have died for Irish freedom and we reiterate our commitment to our republican objectives. Our struggle has seen many gains and advances made by nationalists and for the democratic position.
We believe that an opportunity to secure a just and lasting settlement has been created. We are therefore entering into a new situation in a spirit of determination and confidence, determined that the injustices which created this conflict will be removed and confident in the strength and justice of our struggle to achieve this.
We note that the Downing Street Declaration is not a solution, nor was it presented as such by its authors. A solution will only be found as a result of inclusive negotiations. Others, not the least the British government have a duty to face up to their responsibilities. It is our desire to significantly contribute to the creation of a climate which will encourage this. We urge everyone to approach this new situation with energy, determination and patience.”
IRISHMAN HELD ILLEGALLY IN COLORADO JAIL
IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 27, 2004
Ciaran Ferry now has been illegally held for over 575 days in Jefferson County Jail in Golden, Colorado.
Mr. Ferry’s legal team, consisting of Jeff Joseph, Tom Burke and Eamonn Dornan, has recently contacted the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“DHS/ICE”) seeking answers to why Mr. Ferry is still being held in Jefferson County Jail in Colorado beyond a statutory deadline of August 4, 2004.
According to his lawyers, the DHS was obligated by law to make a determination by that date to either release Ciaran from jail or to produce written reasons explaining why his continued detention is necessary. The lawyers pointed out in a letter to DHS, that this involved a matter of some constitutional importance. The DHS, in response, simply ignored its obligations and instead threatened to deport him immediately, in contempt of the ruling of a Federal Judge.
Ciaran Ferry’s wife, Heaven, received a copy of a letter sent by Ciaran’s lawyers to DHS which advised that “in order to maintain Ciaran Ferry in detention past the 90 day removal period of August 4th, [the DHS] must make a determination that he is a threat to public safety or a flight risk.” The legal team outlined excerpts of U.S. law mandating that Ciaran Ferry “must be granted release under an Order of Supervision, no later than August 4, 2004.” The letter closes: “Kindly consider allowing Mr. Ferry to be released from custody in Aurora, Colorado, under an Order of Supervision, so that he may rejoin his family and continue to pursue any legal remedies which may be available to him.”
In its response, the DHS dismissed the lawyers’ requests, and demanded instead that they forward Ciaran’s passport, in order to “facilitate the immediate removal of Mr. Ferry to the Republican (sic) of Ireland.”
This is in clear violation of no less than two Orders from United States District Judge Nottingham, which mandate that Ciaran Ferry must remain in the jurisdiction pending the Court’s decision on his Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, which has not yet been decided. Ciaran Ferry’s legal team seek to bring this matter to the attention of Judge Nottingham.
At the heart of the matter is the question of whether or not Ciaran Ferry is a “threat to national security”. According to an earlier letter from the DHS, Ciaran’s detention “is based upon his prior convictions relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland.”
Ciaran’s legal team countered that, “Mr. Ferry was released from detention in Northern Ireland pursuant to the U.S. brokered “Good Friday Accords.” The Good Friday Agreement (“GFA”), which is unique in its application, contains provisions clearly indicating that individuals like Mr. Ferry are no longer considered to be a danger to the safety of their communities. To the contrary, the release of prisoners such as Mr. Ferry specifically was engineered to assist in the promotion of the Good Friday Peace Accords.”
“Following the signing of the GFA, which largely ended the conflict in Northern Ireland, many hundreds of prisoners like Ciaran Ferry, having renounced violence, were released. In doing so, the GFA took into account “the seriousness of the offences for which the person was convicted and the need to protect the community.” See GFA at Section 10(2).
Accordingly, Ciaran Ferry and others who were released were deemed not to be a danger to the community in their home country, much less a danger to the United States.”
While the DHS insists that Ciaran Ferry is a “danger to society,” the legal team pointed out that “at least a dozen Congressmen, and many prominent Irish-American organizations, as well as hundreds of U.S. citizens, believe otherwise.”
At a recent Chicago fundraiser co-hosted by the Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC), attorney Eamonn Dornan said, “After 20 months, Ciaran Ferry has been denied bail and due process of the law while being held in a Colorado jail. The Department of Homeland Security has failed to meet its lawful obligations. This is yet another breach of Ciaran’s constitutional rights to due process and a further illegal restriction of his liberties.” Referring to the recent Supreme Court decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, [June 28, 2004, No. 03-6696], Dornan stated that “Ciaran Ferry is now in a worse position than enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay.” The Supreme Court in Hamdi determined that a US citizen whom the government classified as an “enemy combatant” for allegedly taking up arms with the Taliban, “must be afforded a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decision maker.” In contrast, Ciaran Ferry has been denied such an opportunity at every turn.
IAUC National President and retired Judge, Andrew Somers, stated: “We have had to bear witness to absurd contradictions whereby Britons held at Guantanamo Bay, who have been determined to be no danger to the United States, have been released to their families. In the meantime, an Irishman, a father and husband to US citizens, and someone who played a role in moving forward the Good Friday Peace Accords, has been left to languish without bail in a county jail in Colorado, purportedly as a “danger” to this society.
“The DHS has so far managed to avoid any legal challenge to its refusal to grant Ciaran Ferry any bond determination. Having disregarded his constitutional rights to due process, the DHS is now in blatant violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as a Federal Court Order, and has ignored the deadlines which Congress has set for it in this type of case.”
“The IAUC demands Ciaran Ferry’s immediate release, and will seek answers from the DHS and our Congressional representatives regarding this outrage.”
Contact: Deanna Turner, Director of Communication
IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
611 Pennsylvania Ave, SE # 4150
Washington, D.C. 20003
TO HELP CIARAN FERRY & LEARN MORE ABOUT IRISH DEPORTEES VISIT:
Some Mother’s Son
Only once did I feel any sympathy for Margaret Thatcher. It was January 1982 and her son Mark was lost in the Sahara Desert whilst rallying. A camera caught her going into Number 10 and she was clearly distraught at the thought of her helpless son dying from hunger and thirst. It occurred to me: maybe now she realises how the mother of a hunger striker felt.
Anyway, 29-year-old Mark was found by a search party after three days. As we know to our cost, this personal experience never humanised Thatcher.
Before she left office she brought back the concept of hereditary honours which is why her son is now Sir Mark. Or, rather, Sir Mark, POW.
Yes, the brat was arrested in South Africa on Wednesday in connection with allegedly funding an attempted coup against President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea. The alleged plotters were said to be hoping to exploit Equatorial Guinea’s massive oil reserves by installing their own leader, Severo Moto.
There was no time for loving when they came in the morning. Thatcher was seized in his silk pyjamas. The South African authorities moved against him when they discovered that his house had been put on the market, his bags had been packed, his two children had been booked into boarding schools in the USA and Sir Mark and his wife had one-way tickets to the States. However, he made bail and is now under house arrest in Cape Town.
Sir Mark’s neighbour and close friend in the exclusive Cape Town suburb of Constantia was Simon Mann, a former SAS officer who served in the six counties before becoming a soldier of fortune. The two were involved in business deals together. Last March Mann was arrested on the runway of the main airport in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. He was waiting to take possession of rifles, mortar bombs, rocket launchers and ammunition. They were to be loaded onto a Boeing 727 which had been specially converted so that it could land on a short strip. On board the plane were 64 former South African soldiers who had fought for the apartheid government but who had turned mercenary.
Last January Mann had been introduced by Nick du Toit to a Zimbabwean arms dealer and paid a deposit on the weapons worth £100,000. Du Toit, whose business partner is a minister in the government of Equatorial Guinea, was being monitored by South African intelligence. After Mann’s arrest in March the authorities in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, swooped on Du Toit and fourteen others, who were, apparently, part of the advance party. They were charged with plotting, along with exiled opposition leader, Severo Moto, to overthrow the government in a coup. Moto, who was on stand-by in a neighbouring country, was to fly by helicopter to Malabo after the coup and be declared President. It is suggested that a week before the attempted coup Mark Thatcher deposited $100,000 dollars into Mann’s account to cover the costs of the helicopter.
Equatorial Guinea is a former Spanish colony with a population slightly larger than Belfast’s. Its inhabitants live in abject poverty. It became a coveted possession after oil and gas were discovered and produced in the 1990s. The people live under the dictatorship of President Obiang who killed his own uncle to take power in a coup in 1979.
It just shows you the damage that Thatcher caused when she ended the right to remain silent. Du Toit couldn’t wait to tell the court in Guinea that the mastermind of the coup attempt was Simon Mann. Mann couldn’t wait to make a signed statement after his arrest stating that Ely Calil (a Chelsea-based oil billionaire) introduced him to Severo Moto in Madrid. In jail in Zimbabwe Mann – who had clearly never heard of H-Block ‘comms’ – wrote his wife a very, very large smuggled letter which was intercepted by South African Intelligence. You would hardly have needed Enigma to break the clever codes used by the former Etonian who demanded that his friends on the outside use their money and influence to get him released.
“Our situation is not good and it is very URGENT. They [the lawyers] get no reply from Smelly and Scratcher [who] asked them to ring back after the Grand Prix race was over!
“We need heavy influence of the sort that [removed for possible legal reasons] Smelly, Scratcher… David Hart and it needs to be used heavily and now. Once we get into a trial scenario we are fucked… Anyone and everyone in this is in it – good times or bad. Now its bad times and everyone has to fucking pull their weight.”
After a glance the authorities worked out that Scratcher was slang for Thatcher and Smelly slang for Ely (Calil, whom Equatorial Guinea accuses of helping to organise the coup). David Hart, a millionaire property developer, was a journalist for ‘The Times’ and an adviser to Thatcher during the 1984 miners’ strike.
The investigation also shows that one JH Archer – otherwise known as Jeffrey – deposited $134,000 dollars in Mann’s account, four days before the attempted coup. Last Thursday Mann pleaded guilty to attempting to buy arms but denied planning a coup and said the arms were for guarding mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He will be sentenced in September. The mercenaries on the plane admitted breaching immigration and aviation laws.
Sympathy has been pouring in for the young, 51-year-old Mark. In an editorial the Scottish ‘Daily Record’ said: “Don’t even think of shedding a tear for Mark, sorry, Sir Mark. This waste of space would be even more of a nonentity than he is if he did not trade on the name of his discredited mother, Margaret. With no achievements of his own, he lives a sad life, only defined by being the offspring of a hate figure. Still, he manages to make an obscene amount of money on the back of his mother’s infamy for putting 3.5 million people out of work and consigning a generation to a life of misery and poverty.”
Mark did very well at school and left with three ‘O’ Levels. He failed his accountancy exams three times. Then he got lost in the desert. He married Texas millionaire Diane Burgdof and they moved to South Africa, where he was questioned. as part of an anti-corruption investigation of government officials. There have been hurtful allegations that he shamelessly traded on his mother’s name and through her connections in Saudi Arabia and Oman made a fortune on arms deals.
Mrs Thatcher is now in a terrible predicament. Frankly, it would be awful if Mark was extradited as a common criminal to Equatorial Guinea where there is state censorship, they ill-treat people, have non-jury courts and shoot-to-kill. How would she cope seeing her son in a prison uniform? How would she cope herself with strip searches? And after all she has done for the poor of Africa. Is there no justice in this world?
Resolution of conflict to be debated
By Robert Elder
30 August 2004
Experts in the field of conflict research from around the world will gather at the University of Ulster this week.
The Conflict Resolution Research Society conference will take place at the University’s Magee campus from Wednesday and will bring together a host of conflict researchers from the Netherlands, the USA, Norway and the Philippines, as well as from the UU.
John Hume, holder of the University’s Tip O’Neill Chair in Peace Studies, will be a keynote speaker at the opening of the event – a showcase of contemporary international conflict research.
Joining him will be Professor Chris Mitchel from George Mason University in the USA, a highly regarded scholar of conflict resolution.
Themes such as peacekeeping, intervention and mediation, as well the role of education and the justice system in the Northern Ireland peace process will feature prominently. Also on the agenda are case studies looking at issues such as regional minorities and an examination of the role of loyalist groups.
Among the many papers being presented will be a number from UU postgraduate students from the Research Graduate School, Faculty of Social Sciences, the UNESCO Centre and INCORE, the international centre for peace and conflict studies based at the Magee campus.
South African arms dealer faces death over failed coup
By Jason Bennetto
30 August 2004
A South African arms dealer held in Equatorial Guinea for his part in an alleged plot to overthrow the President of the oil-rich state will learn today if he is to be executed.
In an interview published yesterday, Nick du Toit claimed he had talked with Sir Mark Thatcher about buying two military helicopters.
Baroness Thatcher’s son and other Britons are accused of plotting with mercenaries and arms dealers to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea in March. They are accused of planning to install an opposition figure, now in exile in Spain, in his place, according to the government and Mr Du Toit. Sir Mark was charged last week in South Africa with financing the enterprise.
Mr Du Toit, speaking from prison in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, told The Mail on Sunday he was introduced to Sir Mark by Simon Mann, another arms dealer. Mann, a former SAS officer, was convicted in Zimbabwe last week of attempting to buy arms for the coup. The former Etonian pleaded guilty to trying to obtain weapons.
“I met him [Sir Mark] about four times over the past seven years. The arms dealer world is small and we all know each other. Simon told me he was one of us.
“I had talks with Thatcher about 18 months ago when he wanted to buy two military helicopters for the logistic support for a gold mine he said he owns in Sudan. I had helicopters under repair in Zambia and invited them to go there and inspect them. In the end, we didn’t do a deal that often happens in my business but Thatcher talked to me at length about arms and protection practices in Africa.”
Mr Du Toit said he never discussed the coup plot with Sir Mark, but admitted he had met others at Johannesburg airport in South Africa last July, the same time as the overthrow plan was being discussed.
Mr Du Toit, a former member of South Africa’s special forces, said his role in the plot would have been to set up roadblocks and enable the main body of mercenaries to get to the presidential palace. His reward, he said, was to be $1m (£560,000) and a job as head of the newly installed presidential guard
But he said he received a call from Mann telling him the coup was off while he was stationed with his men in vehicles at Malabo airport waiting for weapons to arrive. The day after the coup was cancelled, President Obiang arrested all foreigners and confiscated their passports.
Mr Du Toit is among 14 men currently on trial in Malabo for the attempted coup. “We’ve been abandoned by all the big players behind the coup plot,” he said.
“I’ve worked on missions before on a need to know where all the funds have come from or who is involved. But there’s always an understanding that if trouble happens they will find lawyers and other help. We’re in terrible trouble and that help isn’t coming,” he said.
President Obiang, the ruler of a tiny country that is also one of the largest African producers of oil, said his judges would decide the plotters’ fate. “But if I were to be the judge, I would apply the maximum penalty execution by firing squad,” he said.
The Equatorial Guinea prosecutors have asked South Africa for permission to question Sir Mark, who denies any part in the alleged conspiracy. He has been released on 2m rand (£165,000) bail and has been banned from leaving Cape Town.
Sixty-six men arrested with Mann during the alleged coup plot were freed after magistrates in Harare decided the prosecution had failed to prove they had knowingly taken part in a military mission. Two of those men, Harry Carlse and Lourens Horn, now claim they were tortured in prison. Horn said he was stripped naked, beaten and threatened with electrocution during his interrogation. Both claimed they were ill-fed and denied water.
And your guide for today’s tour of Belfast is an IRA leader who spent 16 years in prison…
By David McKittrick
30 August 2004
The man with the microphone at the front of the bus showing the American students round Belfast is no ordinary tour guide: he is Jim McVeigh, who was the last IRA commander in the now-closed Maze prison.
Ten years ago this week, when his organisation declared its first ceasefire and galvanised the Irish peace process, McVeigh was behind bars. He spent a great deal of time there: now aged 40, he was in jail for 16 years.
The peace process led to his release from prison, but it has yet to deliver all that he and the IRA fought for. His commentary is therefore a measure of republican opinion.
He is one of a group of former IRA prisoners which is developing a popular line in political tourism in Belfast. More and more people are interested in what one newspaper denounced as “terror tours”. Right from the start of the tour, McVeigh is direct with the students. As soon as he joins the bus on the Falls Road he says it will be from a republican perspective, which he describes as “one thread in the tapestry of Irish history”. He brings two books with him, one of them the collected writings of Bobby Sands, one of his predecessors as IRA commander in the Maze, who died on hunger strike in the prison. The other is McVeigh’s own book on Tom Williams, an IRA member executed during the Second World War for killing a policeman.
He reads an extract from the Sands book, explaining that he died in a struggle against “an alien unwanted oppressive regime”. He hopes to shed light on why men and women joined the IRA “and why they were prepared to sacrifice their lives and sometimes take other lives”.
The students, who seem unusually attentive, are studying the comparative history of ideas at the University of Washington in Seattle. The course involves visits to Belfast, Beijing, Bosnia and elsewhere. It encourages parallel thinking – “a habit of seeing from a variety of vantage points”. They are learning, in other words, to view things from multiple perspectives: later they are to cross the peace line to hear a Shankill loyalist view.
McVeigh duly supplies a west Belfast perspective, directing the coach to some of the recent monuments which now abound.
One of the tour’s key moments comes at Bombay Street in the heart of the Falls, now rebuilt after being burnt down by loyalists in 1969. It now features, right up against one of Belfast’s highest peacelines, a memorial garden. This has marble commemorations of IRA volunteers who were killed, as well as “civilians murdered by loyalists and British forces”. McVeigh explains the significance of Bombay Street: “The police force of the day watched and in some cases participated as homes were burnt to the ground.
“This had a huge impact on nationalists. It re-ignited the conflict, the struggle. In 1969, there really was no IRA, but hundreds if not thousands of young men rushed to join the ranks of the IRA.
“They were prepared to take up arms and wage an armed struggle because of what happened in streets like this. These are very important historical events that shaped the psyche of people who live in these areas.” He hopes the political negotiations scheduled to start next month will make progress, explaining that the issue of arms has “dogged and frustrated” the process to date.
Portraying the grassroots view, McVeigh explains: “People in these areas feel that the only people who have defended them are the IRA. They don’t want the IRA to dispose of its weapons until there is a lasting settlement, justice and fair play, and in particular an impartial police force.” He decries the sectarianism embodied by the peaceline, reflecting that families on either side will go through life perhaps just 50 feet apart, but “they will never go to school together, never go out for a drink together, because of segregation”.
Unsurprisingly, McVeigh’s commentary is partisan and committed, but it is not inaccurate or misleading. The British and the loyalists come in for much criticism but he readily acknowledges that “there’s no monopoly of suffering on our side.
“As a republican, I would love to see a day when these walls could come down and we could live peacefully side by side,” he declares.
He leaves the students with the thought: “If you come back in a year’s time you’ll probably find some of the issues have still to be dealt with.”
The students were generally impressed. “I thought it was great,” said one girl from Washington state. “It wasn’t like he was telling all the truth. It was his truth and it was really believable.” A young man from Alaska agreed: “I liked it. I’m interested in both sides. It’s not just different perceptions. People have different facts, because they’ve had totally different experiences. That’s why it’s so complicated.” A mature philosophy student from Tacoma, Washington, mused: “We can try to resolve things violently and live in bitterness and retribution and vengeance, or we can try to let go of that and step down a path that’s peaceful.”
McVeigh conveyed the impression that republicans are now in a new phase of negotiation rather than violence. “While there’s a cessation we have an uneasy peace,” he said. But there was no suggestion that the peace was in danger or that the Maze prison – where he lived for most of his adult life – might be reopened.
I’ll work with Sinn Fein, says Orde
30 August 2004
PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has said he would be willing to work with a Sinn Fein Justice Minister should devolved government return to Northern Ireland after talks resume this week.
Speaking on RTE radio, Mr Orde said he would be obliged to work with whoever was appointed to the portfolio, saying: “That’s what policing in a democracy is.”
He added: “I will do my level best to work with whoever is appointed in the situation as Justice Minister.
“Whether I like it or not is absolutely irrelevant. Whether my officers like it or not is irrelevant.
“It would be an obligation on me to work with (Sinn Fein), it’s not whether I want to or not. It’s an obligation and I will without doubt deliver on my obligations.”
Talks aimed at restoring Stormont are due to begin on Wednesday.
Initial discussions will focus on internal arrangements in Northern Ireland, including the establishment of a justice department in Belfast.
So far Sinn Fein has refused to participate in the process of local democratic supervision of the PSNI.
“That’s what the vision of Patten was: it was a representative policing board which currently it isn’t because of their decision,” Mr Orde said.
“What I have to do is create the conditions that Patten wanted us to deliver.”
Ceasefire baby still ponders uncertain future
30/08/2004 – 07:15:46
Ten years ago Lisa Stewart cradled her newborn baby in her arms and prayed on the first day of the IRA ceasefire that her son would have a very different world to grow up in.
Today as Samuel excitedly looks forward to his 10th birthday on Wednesday, Mrs Stewart is still wondering what the future will hold for him. Life in Northern Ireland is still not “normal”.
On August 31, 1994 came the momentous announcement of the IRA’s cessation of military operations. It came into force at midnight and at 6.06am the next morning Samuel arrived into the world.
They were heady days and pictures of Samuel in his mother’s arms in the maternity unit of the Belfast City Hospital went around the world – instantly he was known as “The Ceasefire Baby” – the first born into the new peace.
It was a new beginning at a time of a new dawn for the North. But 10 years on things haven’t quite worked out as people, especially Lisa, hoped.
It has been an imperfect peace. The violence continues with punishment shootings and beatings and blind sectarian hatred remains rife in many areas and spills over into community confrontation.
And many people outside Northern Ireland forget the IRA ceasefire has not lasted through the 10 years.
Seventeen months into the ceasefire the IRA “with great reluctance” called it off, blaming a lack of political progress. They announced the cessation with the bombing of London’s Canary Wharf and the killing of two men and injury of 100 people more.
Another 17 months on, after more killing and more destruction, the IRA announced a new ceasefire on July 19, 1997. This one, they said was “permanent and unequivocal”. But still the IRA retains its weapons and so far has refused calls to disband.
Loyalist thugs have been blamed for a series of racist attacks in the North, as well as for other criminal activity.
Devolved government has been and gone more than once and a fresh drive to get it restored gets underway on Wednesday.
Lisa Stewart was born in October 1969 as the Troubles began – her son on the day it was all supposed to be over.
On the day she became a mother, she said: “They were shooting up and down the streets when I was born, my mummy said. My dad had to dodge the bullets.
“I hope the ceasefire works, I don’t want him to have to live through the things that have happened since I was born. We will have to take every day as it comes. I don’t know whether it will work and peace come, but I would like it for him, I don’t want him getting involved in anything.”
Ten years on Mrs Stewart is still taking it one day at a time and wondering if things will every be resolved and allow her to live a completely normal life.
Today she said: “Ten years ago I would have said that was the end of it, but the last couple of years it seems to have started up again.”
She is “still optimistic” the politicians can sort out their differences.
She added: “I don’t know what way things are going to go – I take every day as it comes. But, like many, she said: “I’m not really interested in politics.”
However she added: “I am worried about my wee boy growing up and getting involved in things he shouldn’t get involved in.”
At 10, Samuel does not have a grasp of the finer points of the Northern Ireland situation “but he is getting inquisitive”, said Mrs Stewart.
“He knows there is a ceasefire, and he knows he is ’The Ceasefire Baby’, but he doesn’t know what the ceasefire is about,” she said.
That could be because of where she has chosen to bring him up.
When baby Samuel was born Mrs Stewart lived in the Shore Road area of north Belfast but now lives in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim about 10 miles out of the city.
The Shore Road is still riven with sectarianism – two loyalist bandsmen were stabbed and seriously injured while walking along the road early on Saturday.
Carrickfergus has its problems but less than north Belfast. “We are quite lucky where we live, we are not in the city,” said Mrs Stewart.
As the politicians prepared to gather at Stormont for their new talks, Mrs Stewart took her son there for his first visit. “It’s massive,” he said, adding: “My aunt works there”.
:: Since the IRA called the 1994 ceasefire 179 people have been murdered by terrorists, including the 29 people in Northern Ireland’s worst single atrocity – the Real IRA bombing of Omagh.
:: Over 2,300 people have been victims of punishment beatings.
:: Over 5,500 illegal firearms have been seized.
:: Over 11,000 have suffered terror-related injuries.
:: More than 1,100 explosive devices have been uncovered.
Vote register process begins
Forms can be downloaded from the Electoral Office website
The annual process of registering people in Northern Ireland to vote has begun.
Electoral Office canvassers will call at every home in the province from Monday until early October.
The need to register every year was brought in by the Electoral Fraud Act 2002.
In the past, one form was given to every household but now everyone has to register individually.
While it is not compulsory to vote, it is a legal requirement for everyone in the province aged 16 and over to be included on the Electoral Register.
Assistant Chief Electoral Officer June Butler said they were targeting young people.
“The absolutely final date for registering for the 1st of December register is 17th of November,” she said.
“We are particularly interested in focusing on young people who, the statistics tell us, traditionally do not register.
“Under the old household system, the parent would have put them on the form, now it’s their individual responsibility.”
An electoral registration form is available on the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland’s website or from a local area Electoral Office.
The new register will be published on 1 December.
Hoods still on the street
Five months later and Shirley is still picking up the pieces
Two notorious hoods responsible for a brutal car-jacking in March of this year that left a local mother battered are walking the streets of West Belfast even though their identities are well-known to local people.
In March of this year Shirley McMenamey was attacked by the two thugs as she sat in her silver Suzuki car on Finaghy Road North. PSNI detectives are on the trail of the pair but have been unable to gather enough evidence to charge the career hoods – who are not youths, but grown men in their twenties.
Shirley McMenamey was beaten with a hammer and dragged from her car, the two thugs sped away leaving her battered by the side of the road.
The two thugs – both from Poleglass – are well-known to the PSNI and the local community.
They have been involved in violent crime for over a decade and local people say they have shown no remorse and have been spotted in stolen cars since the attack.
Shirley was assaulted as she sat in the passenger side of her car at Ladybrook shops on March 6. She was waiting for her husband Terry who had popped into a shop to do the lottery.
One of the attackers walked up to Mrs McMenamey’s car and opened the passenger door. He called her a “bitch” and told her to get out or he would shoot her.
The other hood then opened the driver’s door and jumped in beside Shirley and started to punch her repeatedly.
She was then dragged from the car by the hair and left by the side of the road battered and bruised.
Shirley says since the attack she has found it impossible to get on with her life.
“I rarely leave the house anymore.
“I can’t drive the car and I’m terrified to go out alone. It’s hard to describe just how difficult it is to get over. I don’t know if I ever will.
“It’s horrendous to think that these people are walking around free – the dogs in the street know who they are.
“To think that they can just take whatever they like, trail you from your car and leave you at the side of the road and not even get charged.
“They had my car for three or four days. They did £8,000 worth of damage to it. I can’t believe that they didn’t leave any forensic evidence.”
And Shirley added: “These people will do this again, that’s just the type of people they are. They don’t care who they hurt, they just take what they want.
“And why would they care, they’ve got away with it this time.
“I’m suffering a life sentence, afraid to leave the house. I still have to see the doctor because the ligaments in my leg were all but destroyed.
“These people will end up killing someone.”
Yesterday a spokesperson for the PSNI said, “This is still very much a live investigation. Even at this late date we would ask anyone who witnessed the attack on Mrs McMenamey, or who has any information, to contact the police at Woodbourne.”
Journalist:: Allison Morris
Cops are slammed over sex offence clear-up rate
Shocking new statistics obtained by the Andersonstown News reveal that detectives managed to clear up just eight – or 13 per cent – of 60 cases recorded in West Belfast between April 2003-04.
And we can further reveal that the clear-up record is worse than any of the PSNI’s 28 other District Command Units.
“The bare figure of eight clear-ups from 60 cases is quite low,” Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Sexual Abuse Forum and Lagan Valley SDLP MLA, Patricia Lewsley told the Andersonstown News, while West Belfast Sinn Féin Assemblyman Michael Ferguson described the statistic as “frightening”.
“People living in West Belfast, especially those associated with women’s groups, will have deep concerns about these frightening figures,” he said.
“Obvious questions need to be asked about the PSNI’s ability to resolve these matters.”
Local politicians hit out at shock figures
West Belfast cops are the worst at solving sex offence crimes in the whole of the North.
Statistics obtained by the Andersonstown News reveal that detectives managed to clear up just eight, or 13 per cent, of 60 cases recorded in West Belfast between April 2003-04.
This record, described as “frightening” by local politicians, is worse than any of the PSNI’s 28 other District Command Units.
When the PSNI talk about “clearing up” a crime it does not necessarily mean detectives have secured a conviction. Charges that are dropped or defeated in court are also included in the clear-up category. Bearing this in mind, the actual number of convictions secured by the West Belfast PSNI in relation to sex offences between April 2003-04 could be considerably less than eight out of 60 complaints.
Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Sexual Abuse Forum and Lagan Valley SDLP MLA, Patricia Lewsley, is concerned by the figures but pointed out that the figures may not tell the whole story.
“All of West Belfast’s 60 complaints could have been referred to the DPP, with it only selecting eight to press ahead with,” explained Mrs Lewsley.
“The NISABF is currently trying to find out from the PSNI how many cases it forwarded to the DPP.
“That statistic will then allow us to see where the real crux of the problem lies.
“Admittedly though, the bare figure of eight clear-ups from 60 cases is quite low.”
Sinn Féin Assemblyman Michael Ferguson described the statistic as “frightening”.
“People living in West Belfast, especially those associated with women’s groups, will have deep concerns about these frightening figures,” he said.
“Obvious questions need to be asked about the PSNI’s ability to resolve these matters.”
West Belfast detectives’ 13 per cent clear-up rate lags well behind the North’s other 28 PSNI District Command Units. The areas with the second and third worst clear-up rates are South and North Belfast on 32 and 33.3 per cent.
Although poor, the scores in these two areas are almost treble that of West Belfast.
Journalist:: Ciaran Barnes