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BBC

**As yesterday, Blogger refuses to post at times, so the next 2 stories are late.

Loyalists charged over kidnap bid



Supporters of the accused tried to stop BBC cameras from filming

Five loyalists have appeared in court charged with plotting to rob a bank – just 24 hours after the chief constable linked the Ulster Defence Association to a major security operation in Belfast.

The men from north Belfast are accused of trying to kidnap and rob a bank official.

Three of the men have also been charged with having a gun.

The charges relate to an attempt to rob the First Trust Bank at Antrim Road, Belfast, last Thursday.

In the dock at Belfast Magistrates’ Court were William John Mullan, aged 46, Jonathan William Rossborough, 22, Alan Hugh McClean, 36, all from Westland Drive, William Thomas Seenan, 44, of Alliance Road, and Stephen Douglas, 22, of Tyndale Green.



Yuk Shoukri was among the supporters

The five were charged with conspiring with others between 11 and 25 November to imprison the First Trust official, referred to as Witness A, and detaining him against his will.

They were also charged with conspiring to rob Witness A and having a Bruni-type 8 mm pistol to commit the offence.

Mr Rossborough, Mr Seenan and Mr Douglas faced an additional charge of possessing a firearm last Thursday with intent to commit an indictable offence.

The defendants refused to answer when the charges were read out and they were asked if they understood.

Magistrate Ken Nixon had them removed from the dock, saying he would hear the case later.

More than 40 members and supporters of the illegal Ulster Defence Association packed the public gallery when the men appeared in the dock.



The five had many supporters in the public gallery

The magistrate threatened to clear the public gallery because of noise.

The defendants were later remanded in custody until 21 December.

Defence solicitor Billy McNulty said: “I have been instructed by my clients that all five of them are denying the offences.

“They are aware of their bail rights and will be applying to the High Court in due course.”

At the start of the month, Secretary of State Paul Murphy met senior UDA figures and political representatives – a meeting at which assurances were given to the government that the UDA would turn away from criminality. GE>

It was revealed in court that police mounted an undercover operation on 11 November.

Ahab Shoukri (with baseball cap) was at Laganside court

The following day, the government announced that it was going to recognise the UDA ceasefire.

And within 48 hours, the UDA said it had committed itself to working towards the end of all paramilitary activity.

Last week, the PSNI’s undercover operation culminated in the arrest of a number of men in east Belfast.

It was five of those men who appeared in court on Tuesday.

Outside the court, camera crews were jostled and threatened by some of the men’s supporters.

SAOIRSE32

Irish American Information Service

REPUBLICANS MUST BE HUMILIATED SAYS PAISLEY

11/30/04 06:43 EST

The Sinn Féin President, Mr Gerry Adams said today the

republican movement was “highly offended” by the Rev Ian

Paisley’s assertion that republicans must be “humiliated”

and that they must wear “sackcloth and ashes”.

Speaking before a meeting with Irish premier Bertie Ahern in

Government Buildings today, Mr Adams made his

dissatisfaction clear to reporters but said that both sides

needed to be moderate in their comments.

He said Sinn Féin had entered the negotiations “with a view

to getting the DUP over the line” and to get “a

comprehensive agreement” and that comments such as those

from Dr Paisley made it more difficult to marshal the

republican community.

Mr Adams said: “We’re not about the politics of humiliation,

we’re about the politics of liberation. We just have to be

temperate in our language. But let’s not be diverted by any

of these comments.”

He said that he would have to voice his concerns to Mr Ahern.

The Sinn Fein delegation, which included chief negotiator

Martin McGuinness, said the purpose of the meeting with Mr

Ahern was to “get in a row all the unresolved bits of this

tremendous chore we have set ourselves”.

Mr McGuinness added: “As we move forward what we need is a

little bit of humility and a good deal of generosity.”

The Democratic Unionist leader today repeated the comments

he made at the Ballymena meeting that “the IRA needs to be

humiliated. And they need to wear their sackcloth and ashes,

not in a backroom but openly. And we have no apology to make

for the stand we are taking,” added Dr Paisley.

The speech was filmed by the BBC which broadcast his speech

last night. Neither government commented on Dr Paisley’s remarks

This afternoon Dr Paisley is meeting the British Prime

Minister, Mr Blair, in London in a bid to resolve concerns

about future IRA disarmament.

On his way into the meeting Dr Paisley repeated his ‘sack

cloth and ashes’ comments but said the talks were moving in

the right direction.

“We are moving, I believe, in the right direction but there

are some very important matters that still have to be dealt

with and the most important matter is decommissioning.

Until the people of Northern Ireland see that the arms of

the IRA are put away … we can’t really look any further.”

Sinn Féin are expected to discuss the scaling-down of

British military installations, policing, power-sharing and

other issues at their meeting with Mr Ahern.

The Taoiseach yesterday addressed republican concerns by

calling on the British to speed up demilitarisation. Talks

took place yesterday between the Sinn Féin leadership and

Northern Ireland ‘s most senior policeman, Chief Constable

Hugh Orde, in Downing Street.

Both sides describe the meeting as useful but republicans

were particularly anxious to ensure that the chief constable

could approve a massive programme of demilitarisation in

Northern Ireland in the event of a comprehensive peace

process deal.

BBC

Loyalists charged over kidnap bid



Supporters of the accused tried to stop BBC cameras from filming

Five loyalists have appeared in court charged with plotting to rob a bank – just 24 hours after the chief constable linked the Ulster Defence Association to a major security operation in Belfast.

The men from north Belfast are accused of trying to kidnap and rob a bank official.

Three of the men have also been charged with having a gun.

The charges relate to an attempt to rob the First Trust Bank at Antrim Road, Belfast, last Thursday.

In the dock at Belfast Magistrates’ Court were William John Mullan, aged 46, Jonathan William Rossborough, 22, Alan Hugh McClean, 36, all from Westland Drive, William Thomas Seenan, 44, of Alliance Road, and Stephen Douglas, 22, of Tyndale Green.



Yuk Shoukri was among the supporters

The five were charged with conspiring with others between 11 and 25 November to imprison the First Trust official, referred to as Witness A, and detaining him against his will.

They were also charged with conspiring to rob Witness A and having a Bruni-type 8 mm pistol to commit the offence.

Mr Rossborough, Mr Seenan and Mr Douglas faced an additional charge of possessing a firearm last Thursday with intent to commit an indictable offence.

The defendants refused to answer when the charges were read out and they were asked if they understood.

Magistrate Ken Nixon had them removed from the dock, saying he would hear the case later.

More than 40 members and supporters of the illegal Ulster Defence Association packed the public gallery when the men appeared in the dock.



The five had many supporters in the public gallery

The magistrate threatened to clear the public gallery because of noise.

The defendants were later remanded in custody until 21 December.

Defence solicitor Billy McNulty said: “I have been instructed by my clients that all five of them are denying the offences.

“They are aware of their bail rights and will be applying to the High Court in due course.”

At the start of the month, Secretary of State Paul Murphy met senior UDA figures and political representatives – a meeting at which assurances were given to the government that the UDA would turn away from criminality. GE>

It was revealed in court that police mounted an undercover operation on 11 November.

Ahab Shoukri (with baseball cap) was at Laganside court

The following day, the government announced that it was going to recognise the UDA ceasefire.

And within 48 hours, the UDA said it had committed itself to working towards the end of all paramilitary activity.

Last week, the PSNI’s undercover operation culminated in the arrest of a number of men in east Belfast.

It was five of those men who appeared in court on Tuesday.

Outside the court, camera crews were jostled and threatened by some of the men’s supporters.

Irish American Information Service

REPUBLICANS MUST BE HUMILIATED SAYS PAISLEY

11/30/04 06:43 EST

The Sinn Féin President, Mr Gerry Adams said today the

republican movement was “highly offended” by the Rev Ian

Paisley’s assertion that republicans must be “humiliated”

and that they must wear “sackcloth and ashes”.

Speaking before a meeting with Irish premier Bertie Ahern in

Government Buildings today, Mr Adams made his

dissatisfaction clear to reporters but said that both sides

needed to be moderate in their comments.

He said Sinn Féin had entered the negotiations “with a view

to getting the DUP over the line” and to get “a

comprehensive agreement” and that comments such as those

from Dr Paisley made it more difficult to marshal the

republican community.

Mr Adams said: “We’re not about the politics of humiliation,

we’re about the politics of liberation. We just have to be

temperate in our language. But let’s not be diverted by any

of these comments.”

He said that he would have to voice his concerns to Mr Ahern.

The Sinn Fein delegation, which included chief negotiator

Martin McGuinness, said the purpose of the meeting with Mr

Ahern was to “get in a row all the unresolved bits of this

tremendous chore we have set ourselves”.

Mr McGuinness added: “As we move forward what we need is a

little bit of humility and a good deal of generosity.”

The Democratic Unionist leader today repeated the comments

he made at the Ballymena meeting that “the IRA needs to be

humiliated. And they need to wear their sackcloth and ashes,

not in a backroom but openly. And we have no apology to make

for the stand we are taking,” added Dr Paisley.

The speech was filmed by the BBC which broadcast his speech

last night. Neither government commented on Dr Paisley’s remarks

This afternoon Dr Paisley is meeting the British Prime

Minister, Mr Blair, in London in a bid to resolve concerns

about future IRA disarmament.

On his way into the meeting Dr Paisley repeated his ‘sack

cloth and ashes’ comments but said the talks were moving in

the right direction.

“We are moving, I believe, in the right direction but there

are some very important matters that still have to be dealt

with and the most important matter is decommissioning.

Until the people of Northern Ireland see that the arms of

the IRA are put away … we can’t really look any further.”

Sinn Féin are expected to discuss the scaling-down of

British military installations, policing, power-sharing and

other issues at their meeting with Mr Ahern.

The Taoiseach yesterday addressed republican concerns by

calling on the British to speed up demilitarisation. Talks

took place yesterday between the Sinn Féin leadership and

Northern Ireland ‘s most senior policeman, Chief Constable

Hugh Orde, in Downing Street.

Both sides describe the meeting as useful but republicans

were particularly anxious to ensure that the chief constable

could approve a massive programme of demilitarisation in

Northern Ireland in the event of a comprehensive peace

process deal.

Irish American Information Service

REPUBLICANS MUST BE HUMILIATED SAYS PAISLEY

11/30/04 06:43 EST

The Sinn Féin President, Mr Gerry Adams said today the

republican movement was “highly offended” by the Rev Ian

Paisley’s assertion that republicans must be “humiliated”

and that they must wear “sackcloth and ashes”.

Speaking before a meeting with Irish premier Bertie Ahern in

Government Buildings today, Mr Adams made his

dissatisfaction clear to reporters but said that both sides

needed to be moderate in their comments.

He said Sinn Féin had entered the negotiations “with a view

to getting the DUP over the line” and to get “a

comprehensive agreement” and that comments such as those

from Dr Paisley made it more difficult to marshal the

republican community.

Mr Adams said: “We’re not about the politics of humiliation,

we’re about the politics of liberation. We just have to be

temperate in our language. But let’s not be diverted by any

of these comments.”

He said that he would have to voice his concerns to Mr Ahern.

The Sinn Fein delegation, which included chief negotiator

Martin McGuinness, said the purpose of the meeting with Mr

Ahern was to “get in a row all the unresolved bits of this

tremendous chore we have set ourselves”.

Mr McGuinness added: “As we move forward what we need is a

little bit of humility and a good deal of generosity.”

The Democratic Unionist leader today repeated the comments

he made at the Ballymena meeting that “the IRA needs to be

humiliated. And they need to wear their sackcloth and ashes,

not in a backroom but openly. And we have no apology to make

for the stand we are taking,” added Dr Paisley.

The speech was filmed by the BBC which broadcast his speech

last night. Neither government commented on Dr Paisley’s remarks

This afternoon Dr Paisley is meeting the British Prime

Minister, Mr Blair, in London in a bid to resolve concerns

about future IRA disarmament.

On his way into the meeting Dr Paisley repeated his ‘sack

cloth and ashes’ comments but said the talks were moving in

the right direction.

“We are moving, I believe, in the right direction but there

are some very important matters that still have to be dealt

with and the most important matter is decommissioning.

Until the people of Northern Ireland see that the arms of

the IRA are put away … we can’t really look any further.”

Sinn Féin are expected to discuss the scaling-down of

British military installations, policing, power-sharing and

other issues at their meeting with Mr Ahern.

The Taoiseach yesterday addressed republican concerns by

calling on the British to speed up demilitarisation. Talks

took place yesterday between the Sinn Féin leadership and

Northern Ireland ‘s most senior policeman, Chief Constable

Hugh Orde, in Downing Street.

Both sides describe the meeting as useful but republicans

were particularly anxious to ensure that the chief constable

could approve a massive programme of demilitarisation in

Northern Ireland in the event of a comprehensive peace

process deal.

Irish American Information Service

REPUBLICANS MUST BE HUMILIATED SAYS PAISLEY

11/30/04 06:43 EST

The Sinn Féin President, Mr Gerry Adams said today the

republican movement was “highly offended” by the Rev Ian

Paisley’s assertion that republicans must be “humiliated”

and that they must wear “sackcloth and ashes”.

Speaking before a meeting with Irish premier Bertie Ahern in

Government Buildings today, Mr Adams made his

dissatisfaction clear to reporters but said that both sides

needed to be moderate in their comments.

He said Sinn Féin had entered the negotiations “with a view

to getting the DUP over the line” and to get “a

comprehensive agreement” and that comments such as those

from Dr Paisley made it more difficult to marshal the

republican community.

Mr Adams said: “We’re not about the politics of humiliation,

we’re about the politics of liberation. We just have to be

temperate in our language. But let’s not be diverted by any

of these comments.”

He said that he would have to voice his concerns to Mr Ahern.

The Sinn Fein delegation, which included chief negotiator

Martin McGuinness, said the purpose of the meeting with Mr

Ahern was to “get in a row all the unresolved bits of this

tremendous chore we have set ourselves”.

Mr McGuinness added: “As we move forward what we need is a

little bit of humility and a good deal of generosity.”

The Democratic Unionist leader today repeated the comments

he made at the Ballymena meeting that “the IRA needs to be

humiliated. And they need to wear their sackcloth and ashes,

not in a backroom but openly. And we have no apology to make

for the stand we are taking,” added Dr Paisley.

The speech was filmed by the BBC which broadcast his speech

last night. Neither government commented on Dr Paisley’s remarks

This afternoon Dr Paisley is meeting the British Prime

Minister, Mr Blair, in London in a bid to resolve concerns

about future IRA disarmament.

On his way into the meeting Dr Paisley repeated his ‘sack

cloth and ashes’ comments but said the talks were moving in

the right direction.

“We are moving, I believe, in the right direction but there

are some very important matters that still have to be dealt

with and the most important matter is decommissioning.

Until the people of Northern Ireland see that the arms of

the IRA are put away … we can’t really look any further.”

Sinn Féin are expected to discuss the scaling-down of

British military installations, policing, power-sharing and

other issues at their meeting with Mr Ahern.

The Taoiseach yesterday addressed republican concerns by

calling on the British to speed up demilitarisation. Talks

took place yesterday between the Sinn Féin leadership and

Northern Ireland ‘s most senior policeman, Chief Constable

Hugh Orde, in Downing Street.

Both sides describe the meeting as useful but republicans

were particularly anxious to ensure that the chief constable

could approve a massive programme of demilitarisation in

Northern Ireland in the event of a comprehensive peace

process deal.

BBC

**Same song, different day

Intense talks on NI power-sharing

The DUP leader has said the issue of IRA arms decommissioning remains a stumbling block to the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

Ian Paisley met the prime minister on Tuesday to discuss his party’s response to British-Irish proposals designed to break the political impasse.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is also due to meet Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin.

Tuesday’s meetings form part of intense talks aimed at reviving devolved government in Northern Ireland.

Its political institutions have been suspended since October 2002 amid claims of IRA intelligence-gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

All negotiations are being conducted through a series of British and Irish government intermediaries because the DUP refuses to hold face-to-face talks with Sinn Fein.

Mr Paisley arrived in Downing Street just before 1000 GMT to meet Mr Blair in a bid to resolve concerns about future IRA disarmament.

Afterwards, Mr Paisley said the people of Northern Ireland must be convinced that the IRA had put its arms beyond use.

He said: “It’s now or never. You must have done with your arms. You must put them away.”

Mr Paisley also said: “I think if we get there, we are there. And I think seeing is believing.”

This last comment is understood to relate to the DUP’s demand for photographic evidence of decommissioning which they have said is an essential part of any deal.

It is understood Mr Paisley expects to meet Mr Blair again later in the week.

On Monday, Mr Adams described his groundbreaking first meeting with the head of Northern Ireland’s police force as “useful”.

Mr Blair also attended the discussions between Mr Adams and Hugh Orde in Downing Street.

Mr Adams said that he had agreed to meet Mr Orde on the “hugely important” issue of the “demilitarisation of republican heartlands”.

Mr Orde said the meeting was “very significant” and a “step forward”.

The meeting came as Mr Paisley met the head of the decommissioning body to discuss any possible IRA disarmament. Leaving the meeting on Monday, Mr Paisley said negotiations remained at a “very delicate stage”.

The British and Irish Governments had said they wanted Sinn Fein and the DUP to have decided by Tuesday whether to sign up to a new power-sharing deal.

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said: “It is now almost a fortnight since Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern handed their proposals to the DUP and Sinn Fein.

“Last week, the DUP put more than 40 questions to the government about the British-Irish blueprint. Having examined the answers to those questions, Ian Paisley is still insisting he won’t be bounced into a deal.

“It is understood the DUP leader is still not satisfied about whether any future IRA decommissioning will be photographed. There are also concerns over period the DUP will have to assess the IRA’s intentions.

“Moreover, the party wants to make sure any paper they sign up to doesn’t include moves on demilitarisation which they criticised the Ulster Unionists over last year.”

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Mark Durkan and deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell will lead a delegation to meet Mr Blair on Tuesday.

Irish American Information Service

ADAMS DESCRIBES HISTORIC ORDE MEETING AS USEFUL

11/29/04 06:37 EST

The Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, has described this morning’s meeting the PSNI Chief Constable, Mr Hugh Orde, as ‘useful.’

Mr Adams said the Sinn Féin delegation discussed the issue of demilitarision with Mr Orde. He described the meeting as ‘hugely important’ and said Sinn Féin would return to Downing Street for further discussions later this week.

When asked if a deal would be struck this week, Mr Adams said that he always felt a deal was inevitable and it was now ‘a matter of time’ but that there were still some outstanding issues that needed to be resolved.

Mr Adams, who spoke with President George Bush by phone on Saturday, said Sinn Féin wanted all these matters sorted out but said “good work was done today,” and “let’s continue the good work.”

Leading his delegation into Downing Street this morning, Mr Adams said the delegation was going to “to try and get a programme of accelerated demilitarisation.”

When asked whether today’s events meant that an overall deal was very close. Mr Adams said: “Whether a deal is close or not depends on two points being satisfied. One is the DUP leader signing up to equality to all- Ireland structures, to working with the rest of us within the framework of the Good Friday Agreement.”

The second point, he said, was that the two Governments ensured that everything that flowed from the recent spate of meetings was about implementing the Good Friday Agreement.

“We are here today to do business. If the Chief Constable and the British Prime Minister are here to do business, then yet another issue will be resolved,” he said.

Following the talks, Mr Adams said: “We had a meeting on the issue of demilitarisation. The British prime minister had told us a number of things, that this was an operational matter for Hugh Orde and that’s why we met in the format we did. And we did some other meetings around other issues. I think it was a useful meeting.”

Mr Orde said that the meeting had been “constructive”.

He said: “We discussed security, normalisation and policing. The fact that the meeting happened is very significant. It is the first time I have met Mr Adams and it was an opportunity to explain about policing and how we have moved on.”

He said the aim was to provide an “ordinary” police service to people “across the divide”.

The Rev Ian Paisley is meeting Gen John de Chastelain to discuss IRA decommissioning amid positive signs on all sides that a deal to restore devolution to Stormont will soon be reached.

Hopes of a resolution mounted over the weekend with officials indicating a deal to end political deadlock and 25 months of direct rule in the North could be clinched as early as tomorrow.

The DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, said he would respond tomorrow to the British and Irish governments’ slightly modified blueprint for a solution, which was presented to Sinn Féin and the DUP on Friday afternoon.

It was reported on Saturday that the governments believe their slightly amended proposals strike a fair balance between the concerns and requirements of both Sinn Féin and the DUP.

However, there are official anxieties that the DUP requirement for visual proof of decommissioning could yet shatter the chances of a deal.

Belfast Telegraph

SDLP pledge to press Murphy on Finucane ‘secrecy’

By Chris Thornton

cthornton@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

29 November 2004

The SDLP said it will push Secretary of State Paul Murphy today on legislation that could keep details about the murder of Pat Finucane secret for 30 years, even if they are aired in front of the inquiry into his murder.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan was due to meet Mr Murphy about the peace process today, but said he would raise concerns about the legislation used to frame the Finucane Inquiry.

The family of the murdered solicitor have already rejected the inquiry because of legislation that was published on Friday.

If made law, the Inquiries Bill will allow ministers to determine what should be kept secret during an inquiry.

“It allows a minister at any time before or during an inquiry to force the inquiry to hold hearings in private or treat information as confidential,” SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said.

“If the minister does this, the information must be blacked out for 30 years.”

Mr Durkan added that the new inquiry legislation “undermines democratic principles of openness”.

Irish Independent

Guns gone in a month if Paisley and Adams agree

ALL IRA arms will be decommissioned within a month and a new power-sharing Executive will be up and running by March.

That’s the enticing prospect for the North under the terms of an historic deal which could be concluded within days.

Sinn Fein leaders last night said they believed the parties were “on the verge” of agreement. But much will hinge on a crucial meeting today, when DUP leader Ian Paisley will have talks with the head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) General John de Chastelain, about verification procedures for IRA arms disposal.

If Mr Paisley comes away convinced the general’s commission can provide certainty on the arms issue, he could be ready to say Yes to an unprecedented governing alliance with Sinn Fein. This would see Mr Paisley as First Minister and his hitherto arch enemy, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, as Deputy First Minister at Stormont.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said he believed the DUP would sign up to an agreement that would bring back the 108-seat Assembly and the power-sharing Executive. Mr Adams said his party wanted to be “agents of change” and shared the demand by Mr Paisley for a fair deal.

It is understood that under the deal for the restoration of the Northern institutions which collapsed amid political turmoil two years ago:

* All IRA weapons will be decommissioned by the end of the year under the supervision of General John de Chastelain.

* The General will confirm the arms disposal through a verification procedure which will also see two prominent churchmen acting as witnesses.

* Photographs of the act will be taken but, as an important compromise to allay Sinn Fein fears about their use to “humiliate” republicans, these will not be published at this time.

* Once the new power-sharing Executive is put in place by March and the DUP is shown to be operating it fully and in good faith, General de Chastelain will then publish the arms decommissioning photographs.

One source close to the talks set out the planned sequence of events last night. Unlike previous occasions, a statement from the IRA would this time begin the choreography, followed by a statement from Sinn Fein. There would then be a statement from both governments, a statement from the DUP, and then General de Chastelain and the IICD will report. The assembly would go into “shadow” mode, with the power sharing executive and devolution returning, probably in March.

But Dr Paisley has again insisted that any move by the IRA on the arms issue has to be “transparent and conclusive – I will not be bounced into any quick deal that is wrong.”

There were two further significant developments last night. Firstly, US President George W Bush telephoned Gerry Adams in a bid to advance the negotiations. This followed a similar call to Mr Paisley on Friday.

It also emerged that Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness will meet PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde along with Prime Minister Tony Blair in London today. Their first ever face-to-face meeting was hailed by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern last night as an “another important step”.

Gene McKenna and

Dominic Cunningham

**For several days, Blogger has had some kind of problem which makes posting at certain times impossible, and then I lose track of which stories are missing, as I post to about 4 different locations. You might check at the alternate site for yesterday, but here is one that didn’t get posted:

thepost.ie

Sinn Fein to hold talks with Ulster police chief

28/11/2004 – 9:50:50 PM

Sinn Fein is to hold ground breaking talks with Northern Ireland’s most senior policeman Hugh Orde, the party announced tonight.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams will lead a delegation from the party for a meeting in London with the PSNI Chief Constable and Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss plans to scale back security fortifications in Northern Ireland.

Party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said: “There are a number of matters which need to be resolved in the current negotiations.

“One of those is the key issue of demilitarisation.”

Sinn Fein stressed tonight that the meeting would focus on an accelerated programme of scaling down fortifications in the event of a deal – but would not deal with the issue of policing.

Mr McLaughlin said: “Sinn Fein has consistently argued for the need for an immediate and accelerated programme of demilitarisation.

“This is a vital part of the peace process and it is a vital part of the unfinished business of the Good Friday Agreement.

“It is time for the British Government to move speedily towards the resolution of this matter.”

The Foyle Assembly member continued: “It is a critical issue for nationalist Ireland.

“Previously Mr Blair has told us that the responsibility for demilitarisation rests with the Chief Constable.

“Sinn Fein is meeting him with Mr Blair in order to press the case for the end of the military occupation of republican heartlands and to test his commitment to bring that about.

“There will be no discussion on policing issues at tomorrow’s meeting.”

The meeting at Downing Street will take place as Democratic Unionist leader the Rev Ian Paisley holds talks with the head of Northern Ireland’s independent disarmament body, General John de Chastelain.

Talks to restore devolution in Northern Ireland are delicately poised, with the Irish and British Governments still waiting for Sinn Fein and the DUP to indicate whether they will sign up to their proposals to bring back power sharing and remove the gun forever from politics.

Earlier, Mr Adams revealed that in a phone conversation with US President George W Bush tonight he had told him that the White House’s assistance could be needed to help all sides strike a deal.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland tonight confirmed the meeting with Sinn Fein was going ahead.

However, it insisted that the policing issue would be on the agenda because it was interlinked with demilitarisation.

“The Chief Constable is meeting with the Prime Minister and the Sinn Fein leader to discuss policing,” a spokesperson said.

“The Chief Constable has said he will meet anyone who has a positive contribution to make towards policing in Northern Ireland.”

The Taoiseach Mr Bertie Ahern has this evening welcomed the planned meeting tomorrow between the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, Chief Constable, Mr Hugh Orde and Sinn Féin.

Ahern noted that this will be the first occasion that Sinn Féin will meet with the Chief Constable.

Mr Ahern said that this meeting is another important step in seeking to achieve a positive outcome to current peace efforts.

Belfast Telegraph

Police have no plans to bin CS sprays

By Brian Hutton

29 November 2004

The PSNI is not contemplating the withdrawal of CS sprays, a spokesperson said today.

Although the force is examining alternatives it has rejected reports that it is considering an end to its use of the controversial chemical.

The irritant, sprayed onto a person’s face to disable them, has been used by police officers around 10 times a month in Northern Ireland since August.

“The Police Service of Northern Ireland are not actively considering the withdrawal of CS spray,” a spokesperson said today.

“Police monitor the wider alternatives to CS incapacitant spray as a matter of best practice, as they do with all police equipment.”

One officer is currently suspended while police carry out an internal investigation into an incident involving CS in Londonderry city centre recently.

The Police Ombudsman has been asked to probe all cases of police use of the chemical spray until the end of this year, when the practice is to be reviewed.

There are 38 ongoing investigations relating to police use of CS since August 5 of this year.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle on Friday, Superintendent Richard Russell said that there are a number of alternatives to CS sprays.

“We are looking at these very carefully,” he said.

Aljazeera.Net

Israelis shoot Gaza child

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

Sunday 28 November 2004, 21:12 Makka Time, 18:12 GMT



Some Israeli soldiers said they had orders to shoot civilians

Israeli forces have shot and seriously wounded a four-year-old Palestinian child in Rafah, in southern Gaza, eyewitnesses and medical sources said.

Palestinian medical sources listed Shayma Hasan Abu Shammala in critical condition after she was hit by several bullets fired by an Israeli soldier manning a military tower near the Egyptian-Gaza borders on Sunday.

Muawiya Hasanain, head of the emergency department at the Palestinian health ministry, said the child was transferred to the European Hospital in Gaza due to the gravity of her condition.

Eyewitnesses said the child was playing in the backyard of her home when the soldier opened fire on her.

Boy killed

Also on Sunday, a Palestinian boy died of wounds he sustained when an Israeli explosive device exploded near his home in Rafah at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources reported.

More than 570 Palestinian minors

have been killed in the past year

The boy, identified as 16-year-old Mahmud Said Qishta, was said to be playing outside his home in Rafah earlier this week when he inadvertently stepped on an explosive device left behind by the Israeli army.

Qishta was seriously wounded and transferred to the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis, where he succumbed to his wounds on Sunday morning.

Palestinians and human-rights groups often complain that Israeli forces operating in and around Palestinian population centres deliberately plant explosive devices in places where Palestinian children usually play.

Danger zone

Sunday’s incidents took place against a backdrop of sharply critical coverage in the Israeli media of the conduct of Israeli occupation troops.

Many Israeli soldiers have begun to admit publicly that they are often given explicit orders to shoot Palestinian civilians, including children, when seen entering or approaching a certain “danger zone”.

Last week, the Israeli human-rights organisation, B’Tselem accused the Israeli occupation army of killing Palestinian civilians and then covering up the killings or concocting mitigating circumstances to justify criminal behaviour towards innocent noncombatants.

B’Tselem challenged Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon to tell the truth regarding the so-called zones of destruction within the confines of which soldiers are allowed to shoot and kill any Palestinian, including toddlers and children.

‘Despicable’

The charges were made in an advertisement after an Israeli TV station broadcast a conversation between an Israeli officer and other troops in which the officer said, “Anything that is mobile, any thing that moves in the zone, even if it is a three-year-old, needs to be killed.”

Incidentally, the Palestinian population is not informed of the existence of such “death zones”.

It is believed that as many as 1400 Palestinian civilians, including some 570 children and minors, have been killed by Israeli soldiers during the past year.

This week Israeli columnist Amos Harel, writing in the daily Haaretz, described the army’s practice of shooting Palestinian children and then covering up the killing as “despicable and criminal”.

Another commentator, Doron Rosenblum, writing in the same paper, said the Israeli military establishment was more interested in confronting the negative publicity stemming from the killings of Palestinian civilians than in taking responsibility for the crimes themselves.

Aljazeera

thepost.ie

US al-Qaeda ‘prisoners’ jet continues to use Shannon

28 November 2004

By Paul T Colgan

The US jet used to abduct and transport al-Qaeda suspects has landed in Shannon airport three times this year, The Sunday Business Post has learned.

This contradicts earlier claims by the Minister for Transport that it had not landed in Ireland since early 2003.

Martin Cullen told the Dail last month that the jet, call sign N379P, had landed in Ireland 13 times since 2001, but had not landed here since early last year.

In fact, the plane, now using a different call sign, has landed here under cover of darkness on at least three occasions this year. It stopped off in Shannon on January 20 and March 6 en route from Dulles,Washington DC. The other date is unknown.

The Gulfstream jet, on permanent contract to the US Department of Defense, is known to have been involved in the abduction of suspects from Europe and the Middle East.

The jet’s call sign has now been changed from N379P to N8068V. It is registered to the private US airline company Premier Executive Transport Services and has landing rights at US military bases, including Guantanamo Bay’s Camp X-Ray in Cuba.

Following a query from this newspaper, Cullen said a jet with the call sign N8068V had made three “technical stops’‘ in Shannon this year.

It is unclear when the department became aware of the change to the plane’s callsign.

The minister was not asked to confirm the identity of the plane, or if it was being used to transport suspects, but stated: “On no occasion did any passengers join or leave the flight at Shannon.”

He said the US government had given assurances it had not used Irish airports for the transit of “prisoners’‘, and that it would seek the Irish government’s permission, should it wish to do so in future.

The Department of Foreign Affairs would not comment on whether the government would grant such permission. Independent TD Finian McGrath said the policy of allowing the jet to land here was “seriously damaging’‘ Irish foreign policy.

thepost.ie

Government bid to find IRA arms list

28 November 2004

By Barry O’Kelly, Crime Correspondent

The government has approached associates of the IRA’s former quartermaster general, seeking an inventory of its arms.

The informal approach was made within the last three weeks to associates of Michael McKevitt, the one-time leader of the Real IRA, according to informed republican sources. They have so far refused to provide any assistance about the location of the IRA’s arms dumps.

The Sunday Business Post understands that the emissary, a respected public figure, made two approaches to members of the quartermaster’s department in Dundalk. The emissary is not a politician. The request highlights the confusion surrounding the exact nature of the IRA’s weapons stockpiles. McKevitt,who was convicted last year of directing terrorism, is the leading authority on the arsenal which he controlled until the 1997 ceasefire.

The Provisional IRA, meanwhile, is believed to be facing internal dissent over the pending final act of decommissioning.

A group of disaffected activists is expected to resign, including activists from brigades in east Tyrone, south Derry, north Louth and south Down.

They represent a minority of the mainstream republican movement, numbering somewhere between 50 and 100 activists.

But this newspaper understands that they include senior figures in the IRA hierarchy notably four people from the 12-member army executive, as well as the IRA quartermaster general.

In a statement to this paper, the disaffected IRA members, claiming to represent the views of border brigades, said: “The army was deeply divided in the aftermath of the notorious ’97 [IRA] convention which resulted in the resignations of key military personnel.Today we stand on the brink of another serious split.

“Decommissioning, secret or otherwise, is the surrender of modern day IRA,and as volunteers we oppose it and call on volunteers across Ireland to oppose it.”

thepost.ie

Guerin names witness as sister’s killer

28 November 2004

By Barry O’Kelly Crime Correspondent

The brother of murdered journalist Veronica Guerin now believes her killer was Charlie Bowden, a supergrass on the Garda witness protection programme.

In a new book, Justice Denied, Jimmy Guerin writes that there is overwhelming evidence that Bowden was the hitman who shot his sister. He claims Bowden manipulated the gardai at an early stage in the criminal investigation.

“I believe from day one we were sold a pup by Bowden,” Guerin said this weekend.

“Now the man who murdered Veronica is set up for life.”

Guerin said the Hollywood film, Veronica Guerin, had wrongly identified the killer as the veteran Dublin criminal, Patrick ‘Dutchy’ Holland. “I accept that the portrayal of Dutchy was inaccurate,” he said.

Guerin, who sat through four trials related to the murder, recently interviewed Holland in Portlaoise Prison as part of his research for the book. Holland is serving 12 years for cannabis dealing. Guerin conceded that his support for the Bowden hitman theory represented a u-turn. In November 1997, when Holland was jailed, Guerin told the Irish Mirror: “At least now I know the man who pulled the trigger will spend a long, long time behind bars.”

Last week, he said: “That was based on what the guards told me. It was before the three trials when the true picture emerged. I changed my mind about Bowden quite a while ago.”

Bowden testified in three trials in the Special Criminal Court. One defence lawyer, John McCrudden QC, described Bowden as an inveterate liar, and said: “This is the man we say shot Veronica Guerin.”

Many statements made by Bowden about the murder of Guerin and his arrangement with the gardai have been contradicted by other sources, including phone records.

Justice Denied, which is published by Blackwater Press, seeks to expose miscarriages of justice.

BBC

Paisley will ‘sign up’ to deal

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said he believes the DUP is prepared to sign up to a deal to restore devolution in Northern Ireland.

But Mr Adams said agreement could be reached more quickly if Ian Paisley would engage in direct talks.

The DUP leader has repeated his demand for proof of IRA decommissioning if the party is to sign up to any deal.

Mr Adams said his party wanted to be “agents of change” but, like Mr Paisley, they also wanted a fair deal.

The British and Irish Governments want Sinn Fein and the DUP to have decided by Tuesday whether to sign up to a new power-sharing deal.

Speaking on the BBC’s Breakfast with Frost programme on Sunday, Mr Adams said: “We can get an agreement, despite the refusal of Ian Paisley to talk.”

Mr Adams said people were “hugely sceptical” that Mr Paisley would do a deal but added: “I think he will do a deal.

“But there is a responsibility on the British Government to press ahead with the Irish Government on all the outstanding aspects of the Agreement.”

Later, Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin suggested the parties were “on the verge” of making a breakthrough.

“This has been a successful peace process – perhaps one that didn’t develop as quickly as people on the ground would have hoped, but nonetheless it has been moving steadily in the right direction, despite all the hiccups and frustrations and disappointments.

“The final piece in bringing all-party dialogue about is this discourse between the DUP and Sinn Fein and I think we are on the verge of achieving that.”

The comments came a day after Mr Paisley told party members in County Antrim, that it was crucial that the destruction of IRA weapons was “transparent and conclusive”.

The DUP leader also warned that he would walk away from any deal he does not consider to be a fair one.

Mr Paisley is to meet the head of the decommissioning body to discuss the possibility of IRA disarmament on Monday, a move which has been welcomed by Sinn Fein.

The meeting with General John de Chastelain will come amid further talks to try to restore devolution to Northern Ireland.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said this weekend will be a crucial one for the political process.

Mr Ahern said the governments would be in touch with the parties over the weekend or on Monday.

US president George W Bush has also offered his support to efforts to achieve a breakthrough in the political process.

Mr Bush telephoned Mr Paisley on Friday as Sinn Fein and the DUP were receiving the governments’ responses to their queries over the British-Irish joint proposals.

President Bush said he had sought to get Sinn Fein and the DUP “to the table to get a deal done to close the agreement they’d been working on for a while”.

Mr Blair also held further talks with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams on Friday.

Meanwhile, more details have emerged of British-Irish proposals to deal with the demand for visible decommissioning.

Talks sources suggest that by the end of December, General de Chastelain could report that all IRA weapons have been “put beyond use”.

Photographic proof of this would be held by the head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning until March.

This would open the door to a shadow assembly at the start of January.

There would then be a new power-sharing executive.

Two churchmen – agreed by the DUP and republicans – would witness the acts of decommissioning.

It is not yet known how much of this will be agreed to by the parties, although the DUP is saying no deal will be made without photographs.

The two governments have said they are ready to publish their proposals if the parties do not sign up to a deal.

At the conclusion of intensive political talks at Leeds Castle in Kent in September, Mr Blair and Mr Ahern said the thorny issues of IRA disarmament and future paramilitary activity appeared to be resolved.

But, the two governments were unable to get the Northern Ireland Assembly parties to sign up to a deal over power-sharing after unionists and nationalists clashed over future devolved institutions.

Aljazeera.Net

Brit Soldiers ‘assault’ Arab youth in London

Saturday 27 November 2004, 18:10 Makka Time, 15:10 GMT

A Syrian student has lost an eye after he was set upon by five British soldiers outside a London nightclub in an apparent racist attack, a London-based newspaper reported.

The Saudi-owned Al Hayat said on Thursday Adnan Said, 23, was hit in the face by a bottle thrown by one of the soldiers as he was heading for the disco with some friends.

Said, the nephew of a Saudi billionaire of Syrian origin, Wafic Said, 65, told the newspaper, “I was speaking Arabic. That is the only reason I think they started swearing at us.”

He added, “I was hit in the face with a bottle. I had my hand to my face and there was blood everywhere.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed that “a 23-year-old man was taken by ambulance to St Mary’s hospital suffering from serious facial injuries” after a fight involving some 10 men outside the Wellington Club in the posh Knightsbrige district on 19 November.

Five men were arrested and later released on bail, she added.

According to the London Evening Standard daily the soldiers belonged to the elite Household Cavalry regiment, the sovereign’s personal bodyguard.

It quoted a military spokesman as saying they had returned to duty after their arrest.

AFP

Sunday Independent

Dissidents threaten new IRA split over decommissioning

Jim Cusack and

Jody Corcoran

THE chances of achieving a last-ditch breakthrough in talks between Sinn Fein and the DUP have been hit by a threat from a small number of disgruntled rural members of the Provisional IRA to break away if any further decommissioning of the IRA’s arsenal takes place.

The dissident terrorists have issued a statement saying that the IRA and Sinn Fein leadership swore in 1997 that the arsenal would never be decommissioned and are insisting they stick to this promise.

The statement, however, failed to take account of the reality of the Good Friday Agreement, in which Sinn Fein actually signed up to decommissioning.

A small group of Provisional IRA members state that if decommissioning takes place it will break away and form a new IRA. It appears the group have already established links with dissidents in either the Continuity or Real IRA.

Yesterday’s development did not come as a surprise in government circles in Dublin. Reliable sources said the statement had always been anticipated. Government sources also cautioned against developing pessimism that the DUP would not accept the deal on offer.

Even yesterday, they said, there were increased grounds for optimism that Dr Ian Paisley’s party would indeed go for the deal.

The DUP leader Ian Paisley was encouraged to enter into the deal during a telephone conversation with the President George Bush last week.

If there is no agreement this week the negotiations in the North are expected to go into hibernation until after the upcoming British elections.

It is understood that the deal currently on the table in Belfast involves the IRA giving permission for the international arms inspector, General John de Chastelain to issue an inventory of the IRA’s decommissioning.

Once this list of armaments was verified, and photographs of the actual act of decommissioning published for general release, the DUP would agreed to share power with Sinn Fein.

Yesterday the DUP leaders said they were to meet the head of Northern Ireland’s independent disarmament body before saying whether they will accept or reject plans to revive power-sharing.

After a meeting of its executive on Friday night, the DUP said it would analyse the latest British and Irish government proposals to achieve total IRA disarmament and resurrect the Assembly.

In their statement, the IRA figures – believed to be based in Tyrone, Down and Antrim – accused the republican leadership of standing “before countless IRA army council meetings, army executive meetings, army conventions and even low-level meetings with grass-roots and told volunteers that the IRA would never surrender its weapons.”

It went on: “Never in the centuries-old history of Irish republicanism have IRA soldiers contemplated the humiliation of defeat or surrender by destroying its weapons at the behest of our enemy the British.

“During the Eighties huge amounts of weapons were smuggled into Ireland for the purpose of intensifying the war in the six counties, mainland UK and in Europe – but, unknown to the army’s rank-and-file, some of our trusted leaders were secretly conducting negotiations with British officials without the authorisation of the army executive.

“At no time throughout all the years of secret deals and negotiations did the Irish government make the surrender of weapons a condition for the establishment of all-party peace talks, decommissioning has always been a key British/Unionist demand and Sinn Fein leaders have been quite comfortable with it on the negotiating table.”

It is believed the main IRA arms dumps are controlled by a Co Cavan man who holds the title of IRA Quarter Master General and who is a key supporter of Gerry Adams.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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'So venceremos, beidh bua againn eigin lá eigin. Sealadaigh abú.' --Bobby Sands