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BBC

Children massacred in Iraq bombs

A boy injured in the blast is carried into hospital

Crowds had gathered for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting

Dozens of children have been killed in a sequence of bomb blasts in Baghdad.

Officials said at least 34 children were among 41 or more people killed when bombs were detonated near a water treatment plant as US troops passed by.

At least 130 others were injured, many among crowds gathered for the opening ceremony at the plant who had gone up to collect sweets from the soldiers.

It was the most number of children to die in one incident since the war, on a day that saw fatal attacks across Iraq.

The casualties include:

  • Two Iraqi policemen and a US soldier killed in the Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad by a car bomb that also left dozens injured
  • A US soldier killed by a rocket fired at a US base near Baghdad
  • A senior policeman shot dead in the northern city of Mosul
  • Also in the north, the Kirkuk mayor’s chief bodyguard shot dead
  • Four people killed in a car bombing in Talafar that also injured about 16 others
  • At least four children among six or seven people killed in Falluja after US forces allegedly fired on their car
  • At least three civilians killed in a US air strike on Falluja overnight.

‘Evil attack’

Reports from Baghdad said hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of casualties from the bombings in the poor south-west al-Ummal district.

Map of Baghdad showing al-Ummal

Many of the injured – who included 10 US soldiers – suffered shrapnel wounds in the blasts which began at about 1300 (0900 GMT), correspondents said.

Pools of blood formed on the hospital floors, while at the scene of the blasts people picked through blood-stained wreckage to recover body parts, news agencies said.

Children who survived the attack described how they had been rushing towards the US convoy to collect sweets from the troops.

“The Americans called us, they told us come here, come here, asking us if we wanted sweets,” 12-year-old Abdel Rahman Dawoud told the Associated Press news agency from his hospital bed where he lay naked, with shrapnel embedded all over his body.

“We went beside them, then a car exploded.”

An Iraqi policeman tells people to stay away from the blast scene

Many victims were caught trying to help those hit in the first blast

Officials say the first blast was soon followed by another car bomb and then the explosion of a device on the road. It remains unclear whether the convoy or the crowds were the prime target.

“This attack was carried out by evil people who do not want the Iraqis to celebrate and don’t want [construction] projects in Iraq,” National Guard Lieutenant Ahmad Saad told the Associated Press news agency at the scene.

The BBC’s Caroline Hawley in Baghdad says the sequence of explosions was a highly co-ordinated attack to prevent the reconstruction of Iraq, as well as spreading fear.

‘Good crack at success’

Violence continued in the restive city of Falluja, where doctors said a woman and a child were among at least three people killed when US forces launched air strikes on a house.

The military said it targeted supporters of the Islamic militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is blamed for a string of kidnappings and suicide bombings.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that insurgents and kidnappers were having some success in making people believe that Iraq was not ready for democracy.

But in an interview with West Virginia radio station WCHS he said that there was information that Iraqis, including those in the minority Shia population, were “getting fed up with Zarqawi and his terrorist crowd killing their friends and neighbours and relatives”.

“I am personally convinced that we’ve got a very good crack – the Iraqis have a very good crack – at being successful in this important and noble effort,” he added.

Iraq’s interim Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said the government was determined to retake rebel cities like Falluja within weeks and to hold elections as planned early next year.

“We aim to regain control of these areas before the month of November,” he told reporters, expanding on earlier remarks by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that “decisive action” was being planned for Falluja.

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BBC

Children massacred in Iraq bombs

A boy injured in the blast is carried into hospital

Crowds had gathered for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting

Dozens of children have been killed in a sequence of bomb blasts in Baghdad.

Officials said at least 34 children were among 41 or more people killed when bombs were detonated near a water treatment plant as US troops passed by.

At least 130 others were injured, many among crowds gathered for the opening ceremony at the plant who had gone up to collect sweets from the soldiers.

It was the most number of children to die in one incident since the war, on a day that saw fatal attacks across Iraq.

The casualties include:

  • Two Iraqi policemen and a US soldier killed in the Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad by a car bomb that also left dozens injured
  • A US soldier killed by a rocket fired at a US base near Baghdad
  • A senior policeman shot dead in the northern city of Mosul
  • Also in the north, the Kirkuk mayor’s chief bodyguard shot dead
  • Four people killed in a car bombing in Talafar that also injured about 16 others
  • At least four children among six or seven people killed in Falluja after US forces allegedly fired on their car
  • At least three civilians killed in a US air strike on Falluja overnight.

‘Evil attack’

Reports from Baghdad said hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of casualties from the bombings in the poor south-west al-Ummal district.

Map of Baghdad showing al-Ummal

Many of the injured – who included 10 US soldiers – suffered shrapnel wounds in the blasts which began at about 1300 (0900 GMT), correspondents said.

Pools of blood formed on the hospital floors, while at the scene of the blasts people picked through blood-stained wreckage to recover body parts, news agencies said.

Children who survived the attack described how they had been rushing towards the US convoy to collect sweets from the troops.

“The Americans called us, they told us come here, come here, asking us if we wanted sweets,” 12-year-old Abdel Rahman Dawoud told the Associated Press news agency from his hospital bed where he lay naked, with shrapnel embedded all over his body.

“We went beside them, then a car exploded.”

An Iraqi policeman tells people to stay away from the blast scene

Many victims were caught trying to help those hit in the first blast

Officials say the first blast was soon followed by another car bomb and then the explosion of a device on the road. It remains unclear whether the convoy or the crowds were the prime target.

“This attack was carried out by evil people who do not want the Iraqis to celebrate and don’t want [construction] projects in Iraq,” National Guard Lieutenant Ahmad Saad told the Associated Press news agency at the scene.

The BBC’s Caroline Hawley in Baghdad says the sequence of explosions was a highly co-ordinated attack to prevent the reconstruction of Iraq, as well as spreading fear.

‘Good crack at success’

Violence continued in the restive city of Falluja, where doctors said a woman and a child were among at least three people killed when US forces launched air strikes on a house.

The military said it targeted supporters of the Islamic militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is blamed for a string of kidnappings and suicide bombings.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that insurgents and kidnappers were having some success in making people believe that Iraq was not ready for democracy.

But in an interview with West Virginia radio station WCHS he said that there was information that Iraqis, including those in the minority Shia population, were “getting fed up with Zarqawi and his terrorist crowd killing their friends and neighbours and relatives”.

“I am personally convinced that we’ve got a very good crack – the Iraqis have a very good crack – at being successful in this important and noble effort,” he added.

Iraq’s interim Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said the government was determined to retake rebel cities like Falluja within weeks and to hold elections as planned early next year.

“We aim to regain control of these areas before the month of November,” he told reporters, expanding on earlier remarks by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that “decisive action” was being planned for Falluja.

An Phoblacht

John Joe McGirl commemorated



Photo: John Joe McGirl

Monaghan County Councillor and National Organiser for Sinn Féin, Pat Treanor, gave the main oration at the John Joe Mc Girl Annual Commemoration in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, earlier this month. He praised the role played by John Joe in the struggle for Irish freedom and said that the book, The Gentle Soldier, written as a tribute to him, is essential reading for any student of republican history.

“It’s difficult to imagine that it’s 16 years since we walked behind the coffin of John Joe,” he said. “A lot has happened in that time, a lot has changed, and I think John Joe would be proud of the achievements of republicans.

“John Joe McGirl was a proud Leitrim man. He was proud of Leitrim people. He loved his people, all people and dedicated his life to serve them, first as a TD and then for many, many years, as a County Councillor. He received many tributes for his pioneering work in education, in helping the needy, in fighting in support of senior citizens, and in all aspects of community development.

John Joe believed that the struggle was where he was. He believed that the struggle for Irish freedom was where the republican should be, and we have all learned many lessons from that. In June of this year, you demonstrated that when you brought the republican message to every doorstep. And people responded. I would like to congratulate and thank the four Sinn Féin candidates : Martin Kenny, Micheál Colreavey, Maura Mulvey and Johnny Mc Cauley for their great effort.

“For John Joe McGirl the future mattered most. He was not content to preserve the past or commemorate past deeds. He knew that history was important but he looked to the future, to the youth, to devising new ways to struggle, and to achieving the objectives of Freedom, Unity and Equality. Today, John Joe, we remember you, we commemorate your life, we learn from you, and we dedicate ourselves to continue to struggle and achieve the objectives you lived for.”

An Phoblacht

British airport photograph policy anti-Irish



Photo: Sinn Féin Councillor Billy Leonard

Sinn Féin’s Billy Leonard has accused the British Government of operating an anti-Irish policy at British airports after he was told he would have to have his photograph taken as he waited to board a flight to Belfast at Gatwick airport.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, the Coleraine councillor said he was travelling home with his family when check-in staff told him he and his family would have to be photographed as he would be mixing in the departure lounge with passengers going on international flights.

“I heard a clicking noise from a camera above the door and I immediately told the check-in staff I was refusing to let anyone take photos of my family and offered my passport, which has my photograph. The check-in staff wouldn’t accept it so I asked to see the supervisor and when I told him I was refusing to let anyone take my photograph he told me he would escort me and my family through the departure lounge and straight onto the tarmac to board the plane.”

Leonard was allowed to travel the rest of his journey unhindered.

The Coleraine councillor says that taking photographs in this manner contravenes Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention and also the Data Protection Act.

“In the past number of weeks I have been through airports in Holland, Barcelona and even Belfast and never once have I been asked to have my photograph taken. This protocal seems to only be happening at British airports”.

Leonard said it seems to be a policy at British airports to photograph all travellers on Irish flights.

“In August, while travelling home from the Basque Country via Bristol airport, I refused to be photographed and was told by a member of the security staff that it was a British Special Branch directive to photograph all passengers travelling over the Irish Sea. Once again we see British securocrats harassing Irish travellers.”

An Phoblacht

British soldier could be charged with 1971 killing

A British soldier may be charged with the killing of Derry mother of six, Kathleen Thompson, who was shot dead in the back garden of her Rathlin Drive home during a British Army raid in the Creggan Estate in 1971.

The possibility of a murder charge being brought against the member of the Royal Green Jackets, known as Soldier D, emerged after a hearing at Belfast High Court on Wednesday 23 September. Lawyers acting on behalf of the Thompson family applied for a judicial reveiw of the failure of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to provide full and sufficient reasons for the decision not to prosecute Soldier D, who has admitted firing 18 shots during the midnight raid.

The court action is the second relating to the killing of Kathleen Thompson. Last year, Judge Brian Kerr said that the authorities had failed to hold a proper investigation into her death after it emerged that Soldier D and three other members of his patrol had been interviewed by the British Royal Military Police and not the then RUC.

Kerr declared that in his view it was not open to the RUC to delegate that critical responsibility to another agency such as the Military Police. “By any standards the investigation was not effective.”

Barrister Seamus Treacy, acting on behalf of Kathleen Thompson’s daughter, Mary Louise, told the High Court on Wednesday that the circumstantial evidence surrounding the shooting overwhemingly pointed to Soldier D as being responsible. ‘D’ told the Military Police at the time that he shot twice into the rear of the garden where Thompson was killed and never suggested that someone other than he was responsible for shooting her.

“It is absurd, in the light of the totality of the evidence, for anyone to conclude there was insufficient evidence to afford a reasonable prospect of identifying Soldier D as the shooter. Such a suggestion is unsustainable and offensive to the intelligence of the family of the deceased,” said Treacy.

Treacy added that the passage of time cannot rescue the decision.

“The decision not to prosecute on this ground was wrong in 1972 and it remains so.”

Judge Girvan reserved judgement but Kathleen Thompson’s daughter Patricia said she had no wish to see the soldier responsible for her mother’s death prosecuted, as the main reason for the legal challenge was to have the DPP admit it was wrong.

“When Hugh Orde listed the unsolved murders of the conflict my mother’s name was not even on it,” she said, adding that she had no desire to see Soldier D taken away from his family but felt he should be named to help bring closure to her family after almost 34 years.

She added that her mother had been treated as a non person and by seeking the judicial review her family was humanising her mother. “He admitted firing the shots and nothing was done, it was as if my mother didn’t matter.”

An Phoblacht

PSNI attack peaceful protest

22 September 2004

Sinn Féin in Omagh has accused the PSNI of heavy handed tactics after a number of protestors were beaten with batons and two teenagers arrested as they held a peaceful protest against a British Army public relations exercise at the Silver Birches Hotel in the town on Wednesday 22 September.

More than 100 people attended the protest, organised by the Omagh Demilitarisation Committee.

As the protestors gathered shortly before 7pm outside the hotel on the Gortin Road to picket the British Army information event, members of the PSNI arrived in Land Rovers and minibuses and began attacking demonstrators.

Large numbers of people were batoned to the ground, while others had clothing ripped after they were dragged and thrown about by members of the PSNI.

The two teenagers were arrested by the PSNI for allegedly obstructing and resisting the PSNI and for disorderly behaviour.

The two were brought to Omagh PSNI barracks. Their fellow demonstrators marched to the barracks and protested outside until they were released without charge.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Sinn Féin councillor Sean Begley said a PSNI chief had threatened him with arrest and told him, “if you don’t remove these people from outside the hotel you will have your day in court”.

Begley described the actions of the PSNI as very heavy handed and on a par with the worst excesses of the RUC.

Irish American Information Service

PAISLEY DEMANDS IRA DISBANDMENT

09/30/04 10:49 EST

The Democratic Unionist Party leader the Rev Ian Paisley has emerged from historic talks with the Taoiseach in Dublin demanding more action on the issue of IRA disbandment.

Dr Paisley was joined by his deputy, Mr Peter Robinson, while Mr Ahern was joined by Ireland’s new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, for the two-hour meeting this afternoon.

It is the first time Dr Paisley has travelled to Dublin for political talks.

Speaking outside Government Buildings, Dr Paisley said that during the meeting he and the Taoiseach “had a useful exchange of views regarding the problems at the present time.”

Reading from a prepared statement he added: “Following on from the Leeds Castle talks we pledged that we would continue discussions on the political institutions and the necessity to bring about changes to them.”

On one of the main obstacles to a peace deal – ministerial accountability – Dr Paisley said: “If we are to have a proper and ongoing basis, mutual co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland then it is essential that any relationship is accountable to the people of Northern Ireland through their elected representatives. Nobody has anything to fear from such an accountable North-South relationship of equal partnerships,” he added.

Dr Paisley restating the DUP’s view “the IRA must relinquish their guns and be out of business for good, as well as all other paramilitaries.”

“There is no evidence to sugget that there is any IRA offer on the table at the present time and we have indicated to Mr Ahern that more work will be needed in this area. There will be no toleration of terror in any form,” said Paisley.

Speaking as the DUP leader led his party delegation to meet with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP said that it was important that the Irish government made it clear to the DUP that they would not be compromising the fundamental principles which underpined the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Doherty said: “While we obviously welcome the visit of the DUP to Dublin and the engagement with the Irish government today it is important that the DUP follow this change of direction up with direct dialogue with Sinn Féin. Direct and meaningful dialogue is the best way to ensure progress and forward movement in the time ahead.”

“However since the Assembly election last year and during the recent talks at Leeds Castle the DUP have failed to convince any of the major pro-Agreement parities of the merits in their anti-Agreement position. The DUP are on record as stating that they wish to destroy the Good Friday Agreement. The Irish government are with the British government the co-guarantors of that Agreement and it is crucial that they make it clear to the DUP this afternoon that none of the fundamental principles which underpin the Good Friday Agreement are up for negotiation. Sinn Féin will not countenance changes to the Agreement which are aimed at diluting the power sharing and all-Ireland provisions and providing a basis for the return to unionist rule.”

“It is important that the momentum created at Leeds Castle is built upon. The DUP are currently preventing this from happening. The two governments cannot allow this to continue and must move on. There can be no longer any excuse for delay and this must be made clear to the DUP,” Doherty concluded.

IOL

PSNI find arms in shooting investigation

30/09/2004 – 08:20:23

Police investigating the shooting of a man in Northern Ireland have found a gun, ammunition and two pipe bombs.

The weapons were discovered after a planned search of a house in the Lincoln Courts area of Derry.

A woman was arrested at the scene and four men arrested earlier are still being questioned about the attack.

Darren Thompson, aged 22, remains in a critical condition in Altnagelvin Hospital after being shot in the head as he walked to work in the Waterside area of the city yesterday morning.

Police chiefs believe Mr Thompson could be the victim of an ongoing loyalist feud in the area.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Richard Russell said tension among loyalist paramilitaries in the city was one of the main motives being investigated.

“It’s certainly one of the main lines of investigation. There have been tensions between a couple of the main loyalist paramilitary organisations in the city since at least August 15,” he said.

Mr Thompson, who lives with his parents in Harkness Park, was attacked at Woodburn Park, on his way to work.

There are unconfirmed reports that he was recently forced from his home in the loyalist Nelson Drive area after a row between rival factions of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

A number of people have also been threatened recently by the Ulster Defence Association and ordered to leave the city.

IOL

UDA blamed for attempted murder of Derry man

30/09/2004 – 12:26:14

The loyalist Ulster Defence Association has been blamed for the attempted murder of a 22-year-old man in the Waterside area of Derry yesterday morning.

Darren Thompson was critically wounded after he was shot in the head while walking to work in a UDA-controlled area. The PSNI believed the attack was linked to an on-going loyalist feud in the area.

Two men and a woman are being questioned about the shooting and sources said all three had connections to the loyalist paramilitary organisation.

The PSNI confirmed today that the UDA had ordered a number of people to leave Derry in recent weeks, but Mr Thompson is not believed to have been one of those threatened.

Irelandclick.com

UUP dinner threatens Estee Lauder profits

A boycott of international cosmetic giant Estee-Lauder could be considered by Irish American lobby groups, Fr Sean McManus said last night.

Over recent days top Irish American groups have been challenging the role of billionaire cosmetic king, Ronald Lauder, in hosting a $1,000-a-plate fund-raising dinner for the Ulster Unionist Party in New York.

Representatives from the Brehon Law Society, the Irish National Caucus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians were among the groups calling on Mr Lauder to reconsider his involvement in the event, scheduled for the Cipriani on 42nd Street, last night.

The top Republican Party supporter penned a letter of invitation to the event, at which UUP leader David Trimble was due to deliver a speech.

However, Mr Lauder’s letter sparked outrage among Irish-Americans when he claimed that the UUP “is supported by a large section of the Protestant and Catholic populations”.

The prominent American businessman is also under fire for failing to acknowledge the UUP’s organic links with the Orange Order.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News last night, Fr Sean McManus said he would “hope that Mr Lauder hasn’t understood what he was doing” when he associated himself with the event.

“I cannot know if he intentionally or unintentionally endorsed anti-Catholic bigotry. I do know, however, that he must now publicly denounce and renounce anti-Catholic bigotry. He must also call on David Trimble to renounce the Orange Order until it deletes all anti-Catholic bigotry from the by-laws and constitutions of the organisation.

“It is sad that a famous Jewish-American would put himself in a position where he could be seen to endorse anti-Catholic bigotry, because Jewish activists and members of Congress have been among our best allies in the fight for justice in Ireland.

“I hope that Mr Lauder hasn’t fully understood what he was doing, because he’s now created the question: should Irish-Americans use their purchasing power to subsidise anti-Catholic bigotry in Ireland by purchasing from Estee Lauder, or should they purchase their cosmetics from another company which doesn’t have that record?” asked Fr McManus.

Ancient Order of Hibernians President, Ned McGinley, lashed the claim that a large section of Catholics support the UUP. “After their historical attempts at suppression of the Catholics in the six counties for more than 80 years, that would be like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders,” quipped Mr McGinley.

The Andersonstown News made repeated attempts to contact Ronald Lauder’s spokesperson, Allen Roth, over recent days, but our calls were not returned.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

Irelandclick.com

20 years on the fight continues…

and plastic bullets remain

As a profile in courage, the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets – twenty years old this month – cannot be bettered.

But there are other words that equally touch on the calibre of the organisation: determination; tenacity; foresight; and, of course, truth.

Two decades after its formation, the group is still leading the charge and setting the agenda in relation to banning the use of lethal weapons as so-called ‘crowd-control mechanisms’.

And it is a testimony to the deep humanity and unwavering dignity of those linked with the United Campaign that their letters still force civil servants to swallow hard before answering, and that their phone calls still leave a withering knot in the stomachs of certain politicians.

In short, the United Campaign makes the government, the security services and their lackeys in wider society feel very nervous – a subversive organisation if ever there was one.

Speaking with Brenda Downes, Jim McCabe, Clara Reilly and Emma Groves this week however, it cannot be forgotten that the reason the United Campaign is still active is because tens of thousands of plastic bullets still rest in the armoury of the PSNI and British Army.

The facts are frightening.

•Seventeen people dead.

•Hundreds maimed, many dying prematurely.

Yet 120,000 plastic bullets have been purchased at almost £7 each in the past two and a half years.

A new plastic bullet with a small sponge on the end will be introduced next year – the same dimensions, the same gun, the same velocity.

Civil servants refuse to say that the new version would not kill a child.

Certain commentators point to the fact that the PSNI has not fired a plastic bullet in two years, as evidence of progress.

But the United Campaign’s ongoing activity suggests a lot more work needs to be done.

The group first came together following the shooting of Sean Downes at a range of three feet by RUC man Nigel Hegarty on August 12, 1984.

Des Wilson and others organised public tribunal into the incident.

A few weeks later, a large public meeting was held at Conway Mill and those most closely affected by plastic and rubber bullets came together for the first time.

Meetings were held in different locations – such as Clara Reilly’s house.

But before it kicked in as a campaigning force, Jim McCabe says that the United Campaign was more of a support group than anything else.

“I found it hard to even leave the house after my wife Nora was killed in 1981, and then I got invited up to a meeting in Clara’s house.

“At the time of Nora’s death there were lots of people dying and I felt isolated. I didn’t feel able to talk about Nora’s death and the United Campaign gave me the comfort and support to talk with people in the same situation as me about our shared experiences.

“It was only after that I became interested in the campaigning side of things.”

The United Campaign have never raised their expectations about what to expect from the British government.

One key recollection that people share is the comment by the late Pat Finucane that “if there was no justice in Nora McCabe’s case, there never would be”.

Among the stalwarts of the United Campaign were Archie and Bernie Livingstone, whose 14 year-old daughter Julie was killed by a plastic bullet, and Kathleen Stewart, the mother of 13 year-old Brian who was killed in similar circumstances.

“I feel they and others should be given great credit for pursuing the campaign in very, very difficult circumstances,” said Jim.

“They did it at a time when you were at serious risk from arrest and harassment even going on a plane or carrying a plastic bullet to a meeting,” added Clara.

Everyone agreed that in the early days it was the humour of Archie, in particular, which kept spirits up, whether he was blessing onlookers from an open window in the Vatican or serenading young ladies who turned up at political meetings expecting a gung-ho Rambo from the heart of the Irish conflict.

Emma Groves was particularly critical of the role played by both the media and the Irish government down the years.

“The media always got the government version out first, that people who were shot had got what they deserved and it always took you an awful long time to put that right.

“As for the Irish government, they never wanted to know. They tried to be very nice but weren’t interested. They were always polite, but they were never really cared.

“They could talk all day about the Gaza Strip or South Africa, but they weren’t interested in what was happening 100 miles up the road,” said Emma.

“Plastic bullets didn’t just steal the lives of children or husbands or wives. They also stole the truth,” added Clara.

Brenda recalls in particular the occasion after the Warrington bomb when relatives travelled to Dublin to take part in a peace protest only to be verbally and physically abused.

“Julie Livingstone’s picture was spat upon. On another occasion a man came up to me during a picket in Dublin and asked where all these killings had happened and then told us we should keep it all in the North,” she said.

Such was the impact of the United Campaign that activists have regularly had their houses raided and family members arrested.

The late Kathleen Stewart even had teeth knocked out by a British Army patrol that attacked her on one occasion.

But it is the irony of Labour Party members in government now supporting the use of plastic bullets – after years of promises to the contrary – that really rankles.

“I remember Peter Hain even accompanying me to hand in a petition to Downing Street calling for the ban on plastic bullets, yet look where he is now,” recalled Jim.

Clara says that the friendships forged out of the campaign have been a driving force over the last twenty years.

But whether it was picketing the company in Scotland who made plastic bullets twenty years ago, or picketing the Policing Board for purchasing more plastic bullets in Belfast two weeks ago, it is clear that the United Campaign is still a force to be reckoned with.

The frequency with which her comrades complimented Brenda’s temper (good and bad), bears out the fact that – whatever else happens – the message of the United Campaign will always be heard.

Those murdered by plastic and rubber bullets can never be replaced, but there is a little girl called Nora McCabe who was two years old yesterday (Wednesday).

The legacy of the United Campaign is that the murder of her grandmother by the RUC in 1981 will not be forgotten.

Through the ongoing commitment, truth and courage of Brenda, Jim, Clara, Emma and many other campaigners, the United Campaign could easily keep going for another twenty years.

But all are agreed that – hopefully – that won’t be necessary…

Irelandclick.com

PSNI slammed for Lower Falls response

Sinn Féin councillor Fra McCann has hit out at the PSNI’s handling of the current wave of anti-social behaviour in the Lower Falls after it was revealed that they visited the homes of five of the main culprits to warn them of a planned protest outside their homes.

On Friday night over 400 local residents held a protest outside the homes of five youths they say are behind the vast majority of criminal activity in the area.

The Andersonstown News has learnt that the PSNI visited the homes of the five people earlier in the day to inform them the protest was going to take place.

Local MLA Fra McCann commended those local people who took part in the peaceful protest but added: “I have recently written to British Secretary of State Paul Murphy with regard to the actions of the PSNI in dealing with anti-social elements in the Lower Falls.

“It has been left to the local Community Watch to retrieve stolen cars, clear youths from the street and answer the distress calls of local people.

“I have asked Paul Murphy to visit the Albert Street area and see at first hand the actions of the so-called impartial PSNI.”

On Friday afternoon a number of homes were visited by the PSNI and the occupants told that there would be a protest later that day.

The Andersonstown News has obtained a copy of the PSNI warning handed to one local hood.

Fra McCann said, “For several months now the weekends have been unbearable for the people of this area.

“At no time have the PSNI attempted to arrest the culprits and have by their actions on occasions exacerbated the situation. They have even refused to enter the area and retrieve stolen cars until the Community Watch cleared young people from the streets.

“Yet they were all to willing to enter the Lower Falls on Friday to warn the ringleaders of a possible protest outside their homes.”

And Fra added: “On Friday people stood up and said, no more. I would commend those who travelled to the area to lend support and those local residents who came out, but I would add that further work needs to be done to reclaim our streets.

“Everyone has their part to play.”

Journalist:: Allison Morris

BBC

Fortifications ‘to be removed’



SDLP pressed the chief constable to speed up normalisation

Chief Constable Hugh Orde plans to remove heavy fortification from up to 17 police stations, the SDLP has said.

The party’s Alex Attwood said Mr Orde confirmed the move on Thursday and that it would proceed if given financial backing by the Northern Ireland Office.

He said anti-rocket fencing and sangar security posts will be torn down as part of new moves to normalise security arrangements.

Mr Attwood said Mr Orde also told the delegation some demilitarisation could be accelerated.

Mr Attwood said: “The chief constable confirmed to us there was now a proposal around 17 police stations.

“It’s being put to the NIO for funding and it’s a matter for them to release the money.

“It means there are opportunities that should now be quickly grasped around Army numbers, Army bases, joint bases and police stations.”

Alex Attwood

SDLP

“The party pressed the chief constable to speed up normalisation in the north. The security situation already justifies this. Overdue developments by paramilitaries would further help this argument.

“The chief constable accepted that there were things the police ‘could do quicker’, this was positive and should mean progress.

“It means there are opportunities that should now be quickly grasped around Army numbers, Army bases, joint bases and police stations.”

Mr Attwood also raised the issue of plastic baton rounds with Mr Orde.

The SDLP has called on the chief constable to withdraw the weapon from the PSNI.

Mr Attwood said the time was right to rule out the use of plastic bullets.

BBC

Adams plea for Bigley release



Ken Bigley was shown sobbing behind bars

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has made an appeal on Al-Jazeera for the release of British hostage Ken Bigley.

Mr Bigley was taken hostage by the hardline Tawhid and Jihad group along with the two American colleagues in Iraq.

On Thursday, Mr Adams asked the group to set him free.

The Sinn Fein leader was in London with Martin McGuinness for a series of meetings with the British and Irish Governments.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, the Arabic TV channel, Mr Adams said: “I was approached by campaigners seeking the release of Ken Bigley.

“I spoke yesterday to Paul, Ken’s brother. Mr Bigley’s mother is from Ireland and this gives us a special interest.

“The majority of people in Ireland were against the invasion of Iraq and are against the war in Iraq.

“I am not here to lecture to people or to dictate to people, but I believe that the cause of those who hold Mr Bigley can be better advanced if they are magnanimous and generous and release him.”

Gerry Adams

Sinn Fein

“The taoiseach (Bertie Ahern) and other Irish politicians have called for the release of Ken Bigley.

“I am not here to lecture to people or to dictate to people, but I believe that the cause of those who hold Mr Bigley can be better advanced if they are magnanimous and generous and release him.”

A Sinn Fein official has spoken to the Palestinian Authority on Mr Adams’s behalf and intends to speak with Jordanian officials later on Thursday.

Mr Bigley has been shown in a new video screened on Al-Jazeera.

The engineer is seen shackled in a cage wearing an orange jumpsuit and pleading for help from the prime minister.

“Tony Blair is lying. He doesn’t care about me,” Mr Bigley sobbed, looking unwell and distraught.

Mr Blair said “everything possible” was being done to secure Mr Bigley’s release but said the hostage takers had not made contact.

In the footage Mr Bigley calls on Mr Blair to meet the demands of his kidnappers to free female prisoners in Iraq and says his captors do not want to kill him.

Following the broadcast of the video, the Bigley family renewed their appeal for the release of the 62-year-old engineer.

“We would like to send a message, on behalf of our family, to the people holding Ken… We want to thank you for this opportunity to see him alive again,” said Mr Bigley’s brother Philip.

Belfast Telegraph

Man loses action to prosecute police

29 September 2004

A man whose terrorist convictions were overturned after judges held that detectives may have re-written interview notes today lost a High Court action over the decision not to prosecute the officers for perjury.

John Boyle, a 45 year-old father of five, from the Markets area of Belfast, said afterwards that he had been denied justice by the DPP’s decision not to charge the two officers who gave evidence at his trial in 1977.

Mr Boyle was convicted solely on a statement admitting his alleged part in an IRA attempt to murder a policeman. He claimed his admission was fabricated but was jailed for 12 years.

He was released in 1986 when his case was investigated by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The case was referred back to the Court of Appeal, which had dismissed his first appeal, and he was cleared after ESDA evidence revealed that the notes of one of his interviews had been re-written.

The Police Ombudsman then took up the case and following an investigation recommended that the two officers should be charged with perjury.

But the Director of Public Prosecutions decided there was insufficient evidence to afford a reasonable prospect of a conviction.

In today’s judgement dismissing the application, Mr Justice Girvan said: “The fact that an apparent miscarriage of justice has occurred and the fact that the Ombudsman’s Office had taken a view that a prosecution would be appropriate would be very relevant factors for consideration by the Department.

“But there is nothing to suggest that either of those factors was overlooked in the decision making process.”

The judge said counsel had argued that where no reasons were given in a controversial case such as Mr Boyle’s, it was not conducive to public confidence.

“There is nothing to indicate that the Director failed to properly apply his policy,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph

Irish language schools get the go-ahead

By Kathryn Torney

ktorney@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

29 September 2004

Two Irish-medium primary schools in Belfast and Co Fermanagh have been given approval by Education Minister Barry Gardiner.

A new school in Belfast’s Turf Lodge will be known as Gaelscoil na Mona, while one in Lisnaskea will be called Gaelscoil na Traonaigh.

The Minister also gave conditional approval to new Irish-medium primary schools in Enniskillen and in Draperstown, to be funded when the schools can achieve minimum viability requirements.

The Minister turned down the establishment of a new Irish-medium primary school in the Poleglass area. He said it had failed to demonstrate that it could sustain viable enrolments and there are also existing Irish-medium places available in other nearby Irish-medium primary schools.

The Minister said: “The Department has a statutory duty to encourage and facilitate Irish-medium education. These new schools will serve the local parents and children who have chosen education through the medium of Irish and I wish them every success for the future.”

BBC

Murphy collapses at conference



Paul Murphy was carried out by paramedics on a stretcher

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy has been stretchered out of the Labour Party conference after taking ill.

Mr Murphy collapsed in the Conference Hall in Brighton on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before he was due to address delegates.

Reporters said the 55-year-old chatted to paramedics as he was wheeled out of the conference centre.

Within an hour of the incident, Mr Murphy’s ministerial colleague Angela Smith told the BBC that he was now “fine”.

She said it appeared he may have been overcome by the heat shortly after Prime Minister Tony Blair had finished his keynote address to delegates.

Mr Murphy’s speech will not be rescheduled for Wednesday as he will take some time off to recover.

He is expected to discharged from hospital late on Tuesday.

Mr Murphy fainted just after the prime minister’s speech.

In his address, he had been widely expected to urge Northern Ireland’s parties to build on the potential for progress achieved at the recent talks at Leeds Castle in Kent.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said: “Mr Murphy felt unwell as he was sitting in the hall just after the prime minister’s speech and fainted.

“At no time was he unconscious and there’s no question of it being a heart attack.

“At the minute, he’s undergoing routine tests at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton.”

The spokesman said he thought it unlikely that Mr Murphy would be kept in overnight.

Mr Murphy is a former Welsh Secretary, and has been MP for Torfaen since 1987.

::: u.tv :::

**Just as an aside–u.tv has to be one of the most garish and annoying sites on the net :P

SF demand to DUP on talks



Mitchel McLaughlin

TUESDAY 28/09/2004 11:51:57

Democratic Unionist leader the Reverend Ian Paisley faced new demands today to engage in face-to-face talks with Sinn Fein.

By:Press Association

As Northern Ireland`s politicians turned their attention to Prime Minister Tony Blair`s speech at the Labour Party conference, Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin welcomed plans for the DUP leader to meet Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin on Thursday.

Echoing a call from Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble at the Brighton conference for a DUP and Sinn Fein meeting, the Foyle MLA said: “In the wake of the Assembly election last year the DUP promised a new, more confident brand of unionism.

“So far we have seen little evidence of this new-found confidence. The DUP are continuing to refuse to engage with Sinn Fein directly.

“If we have learnt anything from the development of this peace process over the past 10 years, it is that dialogue is the key to resolving problems and moving forward.

“Therefore I welcome the news that Ian Paisley is to lead a DUP delegation to Dublin to engage in talks with the Taoiseach and the Irish government.”

DUP sources said last night that the meeting with Mr Ahern would focus on the work of a future Stormont Executive with the Irish government through the North South Ministerial Council and the British Irish Council.

A row with nationalists over future power-sharing structures and cross-border arrangements has thwarted a return to devolution.

It has also resulted in the IRA holding back on a statement which Mr Blair and Mr Ahern and their officials believe could break the deadlock on the issues of disarmament and end all paramilitary activity.

Mr Ahern has met the Rev Paisley before in Dublin in the DUP leader`s capacity as Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church.

However, it will be the first time they have met in Dublin for political talks.

At an Ulster Unionist fringe event at the Labour conference last night, Mr Trimble urged the DUP to go into direct talks with republicans to see if the IRA`s offer to the two Governments was genuine.

He told an audience which included Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy: “The DUP should test the word of republicans, and to do that it has to sit down face to face and get them to be crystal clear on what they plan to do.

“It will be the best thing to do for the whole community in Northern Ireland. We need to know what is going on with the IRA.”

Mr McLaughlin said today that, by arranging a meeting in Dublin with the Irish Taoiseach, the DUP was sending out the message that it was engaging with people it had refused to talk to in the past.

However, he insisted this also needed to be extended to Sinn Fein.

“Sinn Fein are the largest nationalist party,” he argued.

“If the DUP are to ever share power then they will have to share power with Sinn Fein.

“It is now time for the DUP to demonstrate to the nationalist community that they are capable of respecting electoral mandates and engaging constructively with political opponents.

“The time has now come to engage in face-to-face dialogue with Sinn Fein.”

IRA2

UDR ‘was believed involved in murder’

William Scholes, Irish News

It is “widely believed” that the UDR was involved in the murder of Co Tyrone

father-of-five Patsy Kelly in 1974, the High Court in Belfast heard

yesterday (Thursday).

Mr Kelly, an independent nationalist councillor on Omagh District Council,

was 33 years old when he disappeared after leaving the bar he managed in

Trillick, Co Tyrone to drive home on July 24 1974.

A judicial review of the PSNI’s refusal to bring in an outside police force

to investigate the death resumed yesterday.

Since Mr Kelly’s death the case has been surrounded by claims that he was

murdered by a rogue UDR patrol, that the RUC botched the original

investigation and that security forces colluded to keep the killers out of

jail.

The court action, brought by Mr Kelly’s wife Teresa, opened last September,

two months after police launched a new investigation into the murder.

Seamus Treacy QC, appearing on behalf of Mrs Kelly, who was in court with

her three sons, said there were “credible allegations of state collusion in

the murder”.

“The family believe that members of the security forces were involved in Mr

Kelly’s murder in 1974 and that there was a lack of proper investigation,”

he said.

“There are so many criticisms of this case and the ongoing investigation, we

submit that there is an unanswerable case that an outside police force be

appointed.

“The police are failing to provide the family with what they are entitled to

– an independent, effective investigation.”

Paul Maguire, responding, said there was “nothing to support the view that

police were complicit in the murder or that they covered it up to protect

the security forces”.

Referring to the current investigation – led by Detective Superintendent

Andrew Hunter, who is on secondment to the PSNI from the West Midlands

police – Mr Maguire said: “The reinvestigation will be supported by national

forensic and scientific resources.

“It is difficult to see how that can cover up security force wrongdoing.”

He said Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid, who had ordered a review into

the case in August 2001, had built “into the process a number of what might

be termed ‘confidence-building measures'”.

“The senior investigating officer is on secondment from an English police

force. It is difficult to believe that such a person comes to Northern

Ireland with an axe to grind or a bias,” Mr Maguire said.

“All of the officers involved were not serving police officers at the time

of this death. They are also not officers with a connection to the area in

question.

“Mr Hunter has gone to very considerable lengths to explain his actions to

the family.

“Police have been sensitive to the concerns and are trying to meet them.”

After tracing the history of the case, Mr Maguire said: “It is one thing for

there to be shortcomings, it is another thing to read into those

shortcomings that there is collusion between the police and the guilty

party.

“There may be reasons other than bias or collusion which could explain why

what should have been done was not done.

“It might be that the officers were too busy or were not efficient enough.

But inefficiency does not indicate collusion.”

The court also heard that 19 UDR soldiers had been interviewed at their camp

in the time between Mr Kelly’s disappearance and the discovery of his body

on August 10 1974.

Referring to a bootprint – thought to have been made by army-issue footwear

– found at the roadside where Mr Kelly is thought to have been shot dead, Mr

Treacy told the court that in 1974 no attempt was made to try and match the

print to a particular boot.

“The explanation at that time was that the RUC had no suspicion of UDR

soldiers,” he said.

“But in 1974 it was widely believed that the UDR was involved, to such an

extent that the police conducted interviews with the UDR even before the

body was found. There was a plaster-cast (of the print) but that has now

disappeared.”

Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr has reserved judgement.

September 26, 2004

________________

This article appeared first in the September 24, 2004 edition of the Irish

News

BBC

Paisley to meet Irish premier



Paisley is due to meet Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern

DUP leader Ian Paisley is to travel to the Republic of Ireland to meet Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

The meeting is due to take place in Dublin on Thursday.

It is the first time that Dr Paisley will lead a political delegation to meet an Irish prime minister in Dublin.

The DUP leader travelled to Dublin about five years ago in his capacity as Free Presbyterian leader.

At that time, he expressed concern about damage to his churches in County Monaghan.

Dr Paisley held political talks with Mr Ahern at the Irish embassy in London in January.

At Leeds Castle, Kent, earlier this month, the DUP held a number of meetings with Mr Ahern and Tony Blair.

Details of the Dublin meeting emerged as Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble urged the DUP to talk directly to Sinn Fein.

David Trimble was speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference in Brighton on Monday.

He said the DUP were in danger of seeming scared to take up the offer about ending IRA activity, which he said had allegedly been made by republicans at the Leeds Castle talks.

Mr Paisley was elected to the Commons in 1970 as a Protestant Unionist and formed the DUP in 1971.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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