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Belfast Telegraph

Court to probe claims of collusion in 1974 bombings

Sean O’Neill
31 May 2005

The European Court of Human Rights will examine claims that British agents collaborated with loyalist terrorists in carrying out the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

The Strasbourg court has told relatives of 33 people who died in the 1974 blasts that it will begin an examination of the allegations next month.

The campaign group, Justice for the Forgotten, has alleged that Britain has withheld information from Irish inquiries into the bombings because it does not want to reveal the extent of collusion between RUC and army intelligence and loyalist gangs. The court’s intervention coincides with a new commission of investigation set up by the Government and led by Patrick MacEntee, SC.

Three car bombs exploded without warning in Dublin and a fourth in Monaghan on May 17, 1974, killing 33 civilians and an unborn child and injuring 258 people. The bombings were carried out by a unit of the Ulster Volunteer Force, known to have been penetrated by the security forces’ intelligence agents.

The cars had been stolen in the North and the bombs assembled there. The identities of some of the perpetrators were known to police on both sides of the border, but no one was charged.

In 1999 the Irish Government set up an inquiry, led by Mr Justice Henry Barron. He made an official request to the Northern Ireland Office for security files relevant to the incidents.

In his report, the judge said delays in getting information from Belfast were “excessive”. The NIO said it had to examine 68,000 files, while “millions” of British Ministry of Defence files might have to be looked at.

Margaret Urwin, of Justice for the Forgotten, said a joint British-Irish inquiry was the only way to get to the truth of what happened.

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BBC

PSNI in the sky with helicopter


The PSNI has received its first helicopter

Northern Ireland’s first police helicopter will be a significant help during the marching season, Chief Constable Hugh Orde has said.

The £3.7m Eurocopter EC135, which has state-of-the-art camera equipment and infrared filming, will be based at Aldergrove in County Antrim.

It will pursue car criminals, manage parades, search for missing people and gather video evidence.

Running the helicopter will cost £750,000 per year.

It will be flown by a civilian contract pilot who will work with two police observers. Police plan to use it 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

“I see this helicopter as a very positive step for policing in Northern Ireland,” Chief Constable Hugh Orde said.

“Bearing in mind the marching season is approaching, we would see this as a very important asset in our armoury to deal with that particular issue.”

He said it would also be very useful in combating car crime as it would minimise the danger to the public when stolen vehicles were being chased.

The helicopter can download images to operation centres across Northern Ireland.

Mr Orde said he had been very surprised when he took over in Northern Ireland to discover the PSNI was one of only two UK police forces which did not have a helicopter.


The helicopter has state-of-the-art equipment

Previously the force had mainly relied on the Army for aerial reconnaissance, although there was a police plane.

“We shouldn’t rely on the Army. No other police service has Army support,” the chief constable said.

“It has been very valuable to us in the past, but as we move towards normality, it is right that we have our own capability.”

RTE

US financier pledges £3.75m for North

31 May 2005 19:54

An American financier and previous critic of job discrimination in Northern Ireland has announced he is committing almost £4m towards business development there.

At a news conference in Belfast, Alan Hevesi, controller of the £66bn New York State retirement fund, announced the investment of £3.75m (€5.53m) in a new £22.5 million venture capital fund sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland.

It is Mr Hevesi’s first investment in Northern Ireland, something he has championed but held back from actually doing for much of the last decade.

He said that progress was being made and the disparity between Catholic and Protestant employment opportunities was closing.

Announcing his investment, he said Northern Ireland represented tremendous opportunities for growth and prosperity, regardless of religious, political or any other affiliation.

::: u.tv :::

’12 boxes of papers’ in case against Omagh bomb accused

TUESDAY 31/05/2005 12:00:03

A dozen boxes of evidence have been amassed against the man charged with murdering 29 people in the Omagh bomb massacre, a court heard today.

Lawyers defending electrician Sean Hoey, 35, also confirmed they would be cross-examining a list of forensic witnesses at a hearing next month.

The South Armagh man appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court via video link from Maghaberry Prison in Co Antrim where he is on remand accused of 61 terrorist explosive offences.

Among them are the charges of killing all those who died in the no warning strike on Omagh, Northern Ireland`s biggest atrocity.

Hoey, of Molly Road, Jonesborough, is accused of membership of the Real IRA, the dissident republican organisation which carried out the August 1998 attack.

Hundreds were also injured when the 500lb car bomb ripped through the Co Tyrone market town.

Michael and Patsy Gallagher, whose son Aiden was killed in the explosion, and Stanley McComb, who lost his wife Ann, were in court for the 10 minute hearing.

They are also part of a multi-million pound civil action against five men they suspect of plotting the outrage.

But Hoey, who faces charges of conspiring to kill members of the security forces as well, is the first man to be accused of the murders.

The charges followed an 18 month police trawl through all available evidence.

Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan told the court he wanted those involved in the forensic examination to be called as witnesses at a preliminary inquiry.

A list of people to be questioned will be given to the court within the next few days, he added.

As he negotiated how this evidence should be recorded by audio techniques in a bid to speed up the process, resident magistrate Desmond Perry revealed the huge amount of documentation involved.

He said: “I`m told there are 12 boxes of papers potentially for me to read.

“Mr (Gordon) Kerr, senior counsel for the Crown, has indicated he will provide a resume of evidence which may shorten that process.

“Having regard to the volume of papers I`m going to require some considerable time to read them.”

Hoey was remanded in custody to appear again on June 20 when the preliminary inquiry hearing will begin.

::: u.tv :::

Gray refused bail in High Court

TUESDAY 31/05/2005 12:12:49

Leading loyalist Jim Gray was refused bail in the High Court today after a judge said he could not be certain that he would not flee Northern Ireland.

Gray, 47, from Knockwood Park, Belfast, was arrested near Banbridge on April 7 along with his girl-friend Sharon Moss.

Police searched Gray`s Mini Cooper car and found a bank draft for €10,000 and nearly £3,000 in cash and he was later remanded in custody on charges of money laundering and concealing the proceeds of criminal activity.

A few days earlier Gray had been ousted as Brigadier of the UDA in East Belfast.

Today`s bail application was opposed by Crown lawyer David Hopley who said Gray had told police the bank draft and cash represented part of the proceeds of the sale of two pubs in East Belfast, the Avenue One and the Bunch of Grapes, which earned him £130,000.

Gray said he had saved up £10,000 as a deposit for one of the pubs but Mr Hopley said it was the prosecution`s case that the money was obtained through Gray`s criminal activities as was the proceeds of the pub sales.

Mr Hopley said Gray denied he was funding his lifestyle through the proceeds of criminal conduct. “It was put to him that he was a senior member of the UDA and was involved in serious crime, including extortion and drug dealing,” the lawyer added.

Mr Hopley said over 100,000 documents had been seized and police had raided council offices, planning offices and the offices of solicitors, estate agents and accountants.

He said another person had been arrested today.

“Gray is central to this investigation and it`s feared that if he was released he would remove evidence and interfere with witnesses,” said Mr Hopley.

“He may have access to or own property in Spain and when he was arrested he had his passport and on his own admission could have travelled to Spain if there had been any adverse reports about him following his standing down from the UDA.”

Defence counsel Norman Hill said there was no evidence Gray was a member of any illegal organisation and was not charged with that.

“He was leaving quite legitimately with money which was legitimate, too,” said the lawyer.

“Police are suggesting he was going on the run. From what? This is a man who went to his bank and withdrew his legitimately held money. The police have had six weeks and have come up with nothing.”

Mr Hill said Gray had been portrayed as living a flamboyant lifestyle but that did not prove he was a criminal.

“His passport has been taken and he has no money to go anywhere,” said Mr Hill.

“He wants to have these charges dealt with as soon as possible but we are told that the earliest date for a trial is Christmas.”

Lord Justice Campbell said the Crown had concerns about Gray interfering with their investigation and also leaving the jurisdiction.

“On both grounds it seems to me there is a risk,” said the judge.

“The prosecution should have more time to complete their investigation and at this stage I refuse bail.”

News Letter

IRA’s Offer Won’t Wash

By Stephen Dempster
Tuesday 31st May 2005

The IRA’s reply to Gerry Adams’ appeal for an end to the “armed struggle” will fall short of unionist demands, a senior republican has suggested.

The News Letter has been told that the IRA’s “internal debate” on the Adams’ request has been concluded at grassroots level.

Unionists have treated this debate with scepticism, claiming that Mr Adams already knew the outcome.

The DUP has predicted that another IRA word game is on the cards.

A republican source said that the Sinn Fein leader had won the internal argument as expected, despite heated exchanges.

A statement on the IRA’s future and decommissioning will follow but the source suggested this would be aimed at meeting the requirements of the British, Irish and US governments.

BBC

Dorrian family talk to PUP leader


Ervine and his party have links with the UVF

The family of murdered Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian has met the Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine.

They contacted him after his appearance on the BBC’s Spotlight programme about the missing shop assistant.

It is now three months since Lisa, 25, disappeared after being at a party in a caravan at Ballyhalbert on the Ards Peninsula.

Mr Ervine said he had had two meetings recently which had “shed more light” on Lisa’s disappearance.

He said he would not withhold any information he received from either Lisa’s family or the police.

The PUP leader, whose party has links with the Ulster Volunteer Force, described the circumstances surrounding the murder as a cesspit, adding: “If you leave cesspits alone they multiply.”

Lisa’s uncle, Terry Dorrian, said they would meet with anyone who could help them find Lisa’s body.

He said Mr Ervine had stressed that his involvement in trying to help the family was humanitarian and he had no political agenda.

Mr Dorrian said it was important for the wider community that his niece’s body was recovered.

People should “hope and pray that this is the last time a young girl’s life is taken for no reason”, he added.

He appealed for anyone who had any information, no matter how trivial it seemed, to make it available.

Lisa’s body has never been found. Three men were questioned about the killing but were later released.

The police are looking at the possible involvement of members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The UVF and the Red Hand Commando have been “investigating” the disappearance.

Earlier this month, Mr Ervine said he feared loyalists may take the law into their own hands unless the police caught Lisa’s killers.

The family is offering a £10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Lisa’s body.

BBC

PSNI intelligence ‘non-existent’


£118,000 was stolen from the Boots store in Belfast city centre

The former chairman of the Police Federation has said he believes the PSNI has lost the intelligence war in Northern Ireland.

Jimmy Spratt, now a DUP councillor, has criticised the police investigation of the £118,000 robbery at the Boots store in Belfast city centre at the weekend.

Mr Spratt said he believed there was a reluctance on the part of the police to say there was paramilitary involvement.

He also said he believed intelligence on such crimes was now non-existent.

“The police service are now just not getting intelligence at all – all of the intelligence structures are completely stripped,” Mr Spratt said.

“If you look at the robberies that are taking place, there doesn’t appear to be any intelligence coming in that the police are able to prevent any of these robberies taking place.”

In response, the PSNI said robberies in Northern Ireland were down 24% on last year, which they added, would suggest intelligence is working extremely well.

A spokesperson said they have every confidence in the intelligence system which had been “modernised and was fit for purpose”.

Inquiry

On Monday, police said paramilitary involvement in Saturday’s robbery at Boots was not their main line of inquiry.

It is thought a gang of six to 10 people was involved in the robbery.

The families of two members of staff were held hostage while the robbery took place.

The cash, which was hidden in sports bags, was handed over to the thieves at Wellington Place at about 0915 BST.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Gilchrist said police were concentrating on criminal involvement.

“The investigation’s at a very early stage. I’m saying at this stage paramilitary involvement is not our main line of inquiry,” Mr Gilchrist said.

Boots has said it will carry out a review of its security procedures following the robbery.

Daily Ireland

Dark drama set during the Troubles is back on stage

By Eamonn Houston
e.houston@dailyireland.com

A highly-charged play set during the darkest days of the North’s Troubles returns to the stage in June.
The Rat in the Skull was first staged in 1984 when the North was in the vice of conflict.
Written by Ron Hutchinson, the son of an RUC man, the play features an ex-IRA prisoner and Oscar nominee in the role of one of the force’s chief interrogators.
Derry man Gerry Doherty, recently nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the gritty short film Everything in This Country Must, plays an RUC man sent to Paddington Green station in London to force a confession from a suspected IRA bomber.
The new production of the play, to be staged in Derry’s Playhouse Theatre, is directed by James Lecky.
The Rat in the Skull is essentially a dialogue play, set in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a police station questioning room.
Speaking to Daily Ireland during rehearsals, Mr Lecky said that the production depended little on the use of props. The play was commissioned by the Playhouse in Derry as part of a conflict-resolution initiative.
“I’m glad to say that this is very much a period play now,” he said. “When it was first staged in 1984 and then eight years ago, things were a lot different. Now it has an educational aspect. A month or two ago, we took it to 16 to 18-year-olds who weren’t even born in the context that the play is set in. That was a real eye-opener.”
Speaking of his return to the role of an acerbic RUC interrogator, Mr Doherty said: “I’ve had a lot of character development experience for this role over the years.
“There certainly is an irony in playing this role but I believe that the play depicts a fair portrayal of how a policeman was trained to debase and demean and break. That is the way things would have operated.”
According to James Lecky, The Rat in the Skull allows the voices of some of the main protagonists in the Troubles to be heard.
Gerry Doherty added: “There is nothing in the language of the whole of the play that doesn’t have a relevance. The language is very dense.
“It does no harm for audiences to see what the situation was in a state of conflict.
“Things have moved on since 1984 but this is still a very powerful piece of drama.”
Britain’s New Statesman magazine described the play as “crudely beautiful and passionate”. The Guardian newspaper described the role of the RUC interrogator, played by Mr Doherty, as “credible and even sympathetic”.
The Rat in the Skull goes on stage at Derry’s Playhouse, 5-7 Artillery Street, on Monday June 6.
It runs until Saturday June 11, showing at 8pm each evening.
Tickets cost £9 or £6 concessions.

RTE News

HSE appalled by conditions at Dublin home

30 May 2005 23:36

The Health Service Executive for the Northern area has said it is shocked and appalled at the conditions at a Co Dublin nursing home which were shown on tonight’s RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme.

In the programme, an undercover reporter who is also a qualified care assistant went to work at the Leas Cross nursing and retirement complex in Swords.

The programme showed a patient with several untreated bedsores who went on to develop the superbug MRSA.

It also featured several other examples of what the programme claimed was sub-standard care and patient neglect.

The head of the inspection team, at the HSE for the Northern area, Jack Buckley, said what was shown in the programme was indefensible and said the HSE would move to address the issues raised at the Leas Cross nursing home.

In a separate development, Fine Gael has called for the establishment of an independent national inspectorate to examine conditions in nursing homes around the State.

Fine Gael Spokesman Fergus O’Dowd said tonight’s programme showed the disgusting, degrading and dangerous situation in which some nursing home residents are living.

Mr O’Dowd said there was an urgent need for a fully transparent structure for nursing home care to be set up.

Earlier this evening, RTÉ welcomed the High Court decision to allow the broadcast of the programme.

The editor of Prime Time, David Nally, said the programme raised important public interest issues, and he was glad that the viewers would be able to make up their own minds.

The operators of the Leas Cross nursing home had attempted to stop the screening of the programme.

A separate application for a similar injunction by the home’s Director of Nursing, Denise Cogley, was also rejected.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke refused the applications on the grounds that damages would be an adequate remedy if either applicant was successful in any future legal claim.

Having viewed the programme, the judge said he was of the view that it raised important public interest issues.

He also suggested there might be serious questions involved for policy and the implementation of policy for the Government and State bodies.

In the their application for an interlocutory injunction, John and Genevieve Aherne and Sovereign Projects Ltd claimed RTÉ trespassed on their premises and breached a number of their constitutional rights.

In her application, Ms Cogley claimed the programme had defamed her.

IrishExaminer.com

Heart-op children face hospital trips despite report fears

30 May 2005
By Catherine Shanahan

CHILDREN in need of heart surgery are still undergoing unnecessary journeys to and from hospital despite an expert recommendation that such trips should be eliminated.

Almost four months after the publication of a report which looked into the death of Limerick toddler Róisín Ruddle after her surgery was deferred, one of its key recommendations has not been implemented.

The report called for an end to the practice by Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin of requiring children scheduled for heart surgery on a Monday to attend the hospital the previous Wednesday for pre-operative assessment, followed by discharge and re-admittance at the weekend.

Instead, it recommended the assessment be carried out at the weekend. The report warned frequent long journeys were “not ideal” for children with heart conditions.

In Róisín’s case, she had to make an additional trip home after her surgery was cancelled due to a shortage of intensive care nurses. She died the following day.

A statement from the Department of Health at the weekend said the hospital and the Health Service Executive were “exploring” proposals to implement this particular recommendation.

Labour Health spokeswoman Liz McManus said the real problem was that a new hospital was needed at Crumlin, with extra bed capacity “that would avoid children being sent home and being brought back in again”.

The Department of Health issued a timetable in October 2003 which said on-site construction work would begin in 2007.

The department is looking at identifying alternative sites because of fears that on-site redevelopment would prove too disruptive and too costly.

Just four of the Ruddle report’s 13 recommendations have been implemented and relate largely to addressing nursing staff shortages, including the appointment of a nurse manager to manage nursing recruitment and a clinical bed manager.

However, a recommendation to introduce a standby roster of on-call ICU nurses is still being worked on. A statement from the Department of Health said plans have been developed for the implementation of a further five of the recommendations, including facilitating arrangements whereby critical issues are brought to the attention of senior management and to the committee of management at the earliest possible date.

The Huddle Board

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

I happened upon this wee .gif of the Hunger Strikers as an avatar from a member of the Huddleboard named LONDON CSC. I asked permission to post it which was graciously given, and here it is. It shows the name and face of each of the ten Hunger Strikers, their affiliation and the date of their death. In the beginning it says,”Their memory is forever in my mind. Pictures of their faces in my eyes.”

To save it to your computer, right click and ‘save image as…’

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IRISH REPUBLICAN INFORMATION SERVICE (no. 19)

Teach Dáithí Ó Conaill, 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland
Phone: +353-1-872 9747; FAX: +353-1-872 9757;
e-mail: saoirse@iol.ie
Date:30 Bealtaine / May 2005

Internet resources maintained by SAOIRSE-Irish Freedom

http://saoirse.rr.nu

In this issue:

1. French say ‘Non’ to EU Constitution
2. Republican Sinn Féin explains Irish view on EU Constitution
3. Public pay €2 million a year for politicians’ treason
4. Sectarian attacks continue to increase
5. Father of POW manhandled by UDR/RIR
6. Rally in remembrance of hunger strikers
7. Demonstration at Israeli/Ireland soccer match, June 4

1. FRENCH SAY ‘NON’ TO EU CONSTITUTION
THE French people roundly rejected the European Union’s first constitution in a referendum that threw the Union’s future into disarray. The referendum, which took place on May 28, was rejected by 55% to 45%.

The referendum results were a humiliating blow to President Jacques Chirac and a disavowal of his government which was left reeling by the decisive victory of those rejecting the constitution.

The results also threw the EU’s future into disarray. Plans to bind the 25 EU members more tightly together through a constitution threatened to be set back for years. Even the 12-nation euro currency was feeling the effects of the referendum. Fears of a “No” victory were seen last week, when the euro fell to seven-month lows against the dollar. In early trading today, the euro dipped again to €1.2526.

Chirac chose to hold a referendum rather than take the EU constitution to parliament, where it would have passed with a wide majority. He is now trying to control the damage. Today he spent 30 minutes with Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who was widely expected to be fired. Raffarin confirmed “there will be developments today or tomorrow”.

Other key figures called to the presidential palace included Nicolas Sarkozy, the ambitious head of the governing party, the Union for a Popular Movement, with his eye on the 2007 presidency. A chief rival of Chirac, he is among a handful of possible choices to replace Raffarin.

France’s repudiation of the EU constitution came ahead of Wednesday’s referendum in the Netherlands, where polls show even more resistance to the constitution. The document must be ratified by all 25 EU members, in referendums or by parliament, to take effect in November 2006. France was the first to reject it.

About 55% of voters opposed the constitution. A poll by the TNS-Sofres firm suggested that fear for jobs and a sense of being “fed up” were the main reasons to say no. France has a 10% unemployment rate and those in the “No” camp have claimed the constitution was too market-oriented to protect citizens, growing vulnerable in an expanding EU. With a nearly 70% turnout, the referendum results left Chirac little choice but to change.

“It is your sovereign decision, and I take note,” he told the nation on May 28 after the results were announced.

He said, dryly, that he would inject “new and strong impetus” into the centre-right government “within the very next days”, coded language seen as reading that Raffarin, a Chirac faithful, would go. However, many “No” supporters called for far more drastic action, some saying that Chirac himself should resign.

The spokesman for the opposition Socialist Party, which had officially joined forces with the government to push for a “Yes” vote, today called for Chirac to dissolve parliament.

“I think that when the people are angry, the first thing to do is give them their voice … and therefore dissolve the National Assembly,” the lower chamber, Julien Dray said on LCI television.

The Socialist Party, another victim of the voting, was effectively split with dissident members opposed to the document becoming major contributors to its rejection.

Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin, along with Sarkozy and Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, is considered a top choice to replace Raffarin. He walked out of the prime minister’s office with Philippe Douste-Blazy, minister of health, another potential choice.

Nine nations already have ratified the constitution: Austria, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (the only country to hold a referendum).

2. REPUBLICAN SINN FÉIN EXPLAINS IRISH VIEW ON EU CONSTITUTION
DURING a visit to Brittany as a guest of the Breton Independence movement EMGANN, the Vice President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton spoke at a Press Conference in Rennes on May 25, a public meeting also in Rennes on May 26 and a meeting in Guingamp on May 27 outlining Republican Sinn Féin’s views on the proposed EU Constitution and neutrality. Their opposition to the Stormont Agreement and determination to end British rule in Ireland was also explained.

Des Dalton said: “Ireland like Brittany is a small nation, which over many centuries has had to struggle to assert her own identity, in terms of history, language and culture. Today part of Ireland remains under British occupation, denying the Irish people’s right to national unity, sovereignty and independence, all of which has been reinforced by the sectarian Stormont Agreement. Because of our commitment to a free and independent Ireland and our opposition to imperialism in all of its forms, from the beginning we have opposed the entire EEC/EU project.

“In every referendum since 1972 when the 26 County State joined the then EEC, Republican Sinn Féin have campaigned against the continued erosion of Irish sovereignty and neutrality. In 1972 we warned of the effects which membership would have on Irish agriculture and fisheries. Today those effects are there for all to see, the numbers who now work in agriculture have been halved whilst the Irish fishing industry has been destroyed. On an international level Republican Sinn Féin’s warning that the EEC would eventually become a militarised federal super-state is being fulfilled with every passing day.

“The entire EU political and economic project is fundamentally undemocratic. It is about the centralisation of power and decision making, taking it away from the various national parliament and placing it in the hands of unelected bureaucrats. The European Parliament is nothing but an over subsidised talking shop, with real power wielded by the commission and the council of ministers. Indeed as Republican Sinn Féin pointed out at the time, The Nice Treaty was not about enlargement but rather ensuring that the structures of the EU were changed to ensure that all decision-making remained weighted in favour of the major states such as Germany, France, Italy and Britain at the expense of the smaller countries. The EU Constitution accelerates this process and sets about giving the EU the framework of a super-state. The formulation of a ‘Common defence policy’ and the establishment of ‘Battle Groups’ to which all states must contribute troops shows clearly the direction in which the EU is headed.

“Almost 15 years ago Jacque Delors spoke about the resource wars which would have to be fought in the 21 Century in pursuit of the EU’s political and economic interests, the ongoing Anglo-US led war in Iraq is surely the first of such resource wars which the rich and powerful north is set to wage on the poor and developing south. The EU Constitution provides the means by which a European army can be raised to participate in such wars. Whilst states could choose not to participate in particular armed actions, under the constitution they could not remain neutral, and would be obliged to support “actively and unreservedly” EU Foreign and Security policy, they also must “comply” with the EU’s actions in foreign policy. This of course undermines the neutrality of states such as 26 Counties of Ireland. Under the terms of the constitution all states must pay for the establishment and administration of EU military policy. Even more sinister is the involvement of NATO, which in all likelihood will become the military arm of the EU superstate, helping to impose the warped new world order of George Bush and Tony Blair.

“For small nations like Ireland and Brittany the EU merely represents another form of imperialism. Instead of having power centred in London or Paris it will instead be administered from Brussels. This will not change the reality of either British or French rule; it is merely replacing one form of imperialism with another. Under the EU Constitution the rights of the stateless nations of Europe will be further reduced and undermined. This should not surprise us as the original Treaty of Rome was drawn up by the former imperial powers of Europe, who have in the decades since moulded the EU in their own image. Not only do they not recognise even the existence of some small nations but also have attempted to erase all vestiges of their identity. In Brittany you are all too familiar with the French state’s attempt to take away your language and culture, just as Britain did in Ireland. These large states such as Britain and France have waged war on our peoples rather than accept our right to our own nation state.

“As Irish Republicans we are also internationalists, over many years we have developed our links with all peoples who struggle to assert their right to nationhood and independence. In particular we have been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the various stateless nations of Europe be it the Basque country, Corsica, Sardinia, Wales, Scotland Galicia and off course Brittany, all of us are united in struggle and our commitment to see our countries take their rightful place in the world community of nations.

“Ireland’s relationship with Brittany has always been special, our shared Celtic heritage coupled with our shared experience of colonialism and foreign occupation are the reasons for this. Following the Second World War many Bretons came to Ireland to escape persecution at the hands of the French state, amongst those was the artist Yann Goulet, who remained throughout his life a friend of Ireland and the Irish Republican Movement, he designed monuments all over Ireland, erected to the memory of those who gave their lives for Irish freedom.

“In particular Irish people remember with pride and affection the solidarity shown by the Breton people during the 1981 hunger strikes, when Bobby Sands and his nine comrades died in the H Blocks of Long Kesh resisting Britain’s attempt to criminalise the Irish fight for freedom. Thousands of Breton people took to the streets to demonstrate their support for the struggle of the Irish people.

“The way forward is a free community of nations. The long serving General Secretary of the Celtic League, Alan Heusaff, a Breton patriot and a true comrade to all Irish Republicans, envisaged a community of free Celtic nations, which like the Nordic council could cooperate on matters of mutual interest, in areas such as trade, tourism and fisheries amongst others.

“Republican Sinn Féin shares this vision, the Irish patriot and leader of the 1916 rising, James Connolly wrote about a federation of free peoples, and like him we believe true democracy can only function when the decision making process is fully accountable and operates as close to the people affected by the decisions, politically or economically. The only means of ensuring this is within the framework of the nation state and by involving people in the decision making process at every level from national, to regional, right down to local and community level.

“Like EMGANN we believe in the “right of absolute equality between nations”. This is the only foundation upon which true peace and stability can be created internationally. When all peoples, not just in Europe but also throughout the world are allowed to carve out their own space, exercising their fundamental right to nationhood can we lay the basis for a world order based on the principles of justice, democracy and peace. The Breton people can only experience true democracy, when they have governmental structures which they have created, which involve them and which are accountable to them. Their right like that of all nations to elect a parliament and government which will legislate and govern in their best interests as well as representing them on the international stage is absolute.

“The EU cannot provide the vehicle for this kind of revolutionary change. As a body it denies the existence of the stateless nations of Europe, the philosophy, culture and history upon which it is based is imperialist. For this reason we view the campaign against the EU Constitution as yet another front in the ongoing struggle for Irish Independence, for Breton independence and the independence and freedom of all stateless peoples.

“In Ireland Republican Sinn Féin has played and continues to play a leading role in opposition to the illegal Anglo/US led occupation of Iraq. Irish Republicans have throughout our history opposed all imperialist wars of conquest, from the Boer War fought by the British in South Africa at the turn of the last century, the First World War right up to the Gulf war in 1991 when we were the first to protest at the landing of US warplanes at Shannon airport.

“Not only have we opposed such wars but have also actively opposed all attempts to involve the Irish people in these wars on the side of the imperialists. Be it campaigning against recruitment for the British army during the Boer War or conscription during the First World War, likewise we have opposed all attempts to breach Irish neutrality. The actions of the present 26 County Dublin government in granting landing and refuelling and airspace facilities to US warplanes are illegal under both domestic and international law. They also are in direct opposition to the clearly expressed views of the vast majority of Irish people.

“In Republican Sinn Féin’s proposals for a New Ireland following a British withdrawal, EIRE NUA (New Ireland) we set out clearly our view of Ireland’s place in the world, in a proposed constitution for a free Ireland it upholds the right of Ireland: “to join international organisations, eg the United Nations, the World Health Organisation — so long as such organisations do not subvert Irish sovereignty and neutrality.” One of the special responsibilities of the parliament of a free Ireland would be: “maintaining Irish neutrality and independence from all power blocs, including the EU, and seeking to secure a nuclear free world.”

“In a spirit of solidarity we move forward shoulder to shoulder with EMGANN and the Breton people, determined to continue our struggle for a free Ireland and a free Brittany, which could together take their place in free a community of our sister Celtic nations.”

3. PUBLIC PAY €2 MILLION A YEAR FOR POLITICIANS’ TREASON
NOT only have the Dublin government colluded in mass murder in Iraq and the ongoing suppression of that people by allowing refuelling facilities to US-NATO warplanes but they have involved Irish people in a devil’s deal whereby taxpayers in the 26 Counties are penalised to the tune of €2 million a year for their [the politicians’] treason.

According to the Dublin government’s Department of Transport, the total number of foreign military warflights has risen from 6,801 in 2001 to 8,639 in 2002, 12,457 in 2003.

It has also emerged that in the first four months of this year an estimated 110,766 US troops passed through Shannon – more than double the 47,149 amount for the same period in 2004.

In the course of the last ten years the taxpayers have been obliged to pay a bill of €10 million to the Irish Aviation Authority for foreign warplanes using Irish airspace.

In the past two-and-a-half years the number of mainly US flights has mushroomed costing an annual average bill of €2 million.

4. SECTARIAN ATTACKS CONTINUE TO INCREASE
IN A report published in the Irish News (Belfast, May 28) figures recorded by RUC/PSNI for the first time showed almost 350 sectarian incidents were reported to them over a six-month period – an average of two a day.

The newly-released statistics point to extremely high levels of sectarianism, almost matching the scale of well-publicised racist incidents for the same period. The paper revealed that from September 28 last year to the end of March a total of 339 sectarian incidents were reported to the British police.

If the figures are broken down, 172 were recorded from October to December 2004, and 163 for the first three months of this year – an average of two per day. During the same six-month period there were a total of 422 racist incidents and 98 homophobic incidents reported to police. The figures for sectarian incidents, though already high, precede the summer marching season when tensions can increase.

These figures do not include a number of sectarian attacks since March, which are prompting fears of a volatile summer.

Despite decades of conflict, The RUC/PSNI have just begun to compile a formal record of all sectarian incidents, ranging from taunts, abuse, assaults and bomb attacks on both sides of the community, commencing with the implementation of the [British] Criminal Justice (No 2) Northern Ireland Order. The RUC/PSNI said the number of charges brought in relation to the sectarian incidents was not available.

Earlier this week the British police force faced fresh criticism for failing to bring enough hate crime perpetrators before the courts after figures for the last financial year showed the number of reported racist incidents soared by nearly 80% to 813. The number brought to court dropped by one per cent to just 15.9%.

Paul O’Connor, of the Pat Finucane Centre, said: “It is shocking that the reported level is still so high, the reality is the actual level remains even higher. In our experience so much goes unreported.”

5. FATHER OF POW MANHANDLED BY UDR/RIR

THE father of a Republican prisoner spoke on May 26 of how he feared for his safety following an incident in which he was forcibly manhandled and threatened by members of the UDR/RIR.

The father-of-two was on his way home from Maghaberry prison with two members of the Liam Lynch/Armagh Martyrs Cumann, Republican Sinn Féin, Armagh/Keady having been refused a visit for the seventh consecutive time when his car was stopped just outside Armagh on the Portadown road. He was requested to produce his licence which he did, but this seemed to antagonise the UDR/RIR soldier, who became quite aggressive in his tone and mannerism, he then proceeded to remove the occupants of the car which led them to believe they were going to be arrested.

The same soldier then began to question the men while a large group of UDR/RIR soldiers proceeded to strip the car, the soldier during this time maintained a level of aggression towards the three occupants of the car for over 40 minutes.

This type of harassment is nothing new to the occupants of the car or their families, the 16-year-old brother of the POW has suffered intimidation on a weekly basis since the arrest of his brother culminating in him being given a caution from the PSNI/RUC, who assaulted him but claimed that he assaulted one of their members.

Harassment in the Armagh/Keady area has become more frequent since four men from these areas were charged with firearms offences in April 2004. Having spent seven months on remand these charges have been dropped against two of the men but yet the intimidation continues.

A spokesperson for the Liam Lynch/Armagh Martyrs Cumann, Republican Sinn Féin, Armagh/Keady said they would urge people subjected to any form of abuse or intimidation to report it to either their local Cumann, a solicitor or a priest. “The only way we can beat this abuse of power is to highlight it.”

6. RALLY IN REMEMBERANCE OF HUNGER STRIKERS
ON May 7, 2005 a rally was organised by Sinn Féin Poblachtach in Dublin to remember the 22 hunger strikers who gave their lives from 1917 to 1981.

The rally assembled at the Garden of Remembrance and led by a piper, a colour party of Cumann na mBan, Sinn Féin Poblachtach and Na Fianna Éireann marched to the GPO in O’Connell Street were Des Dalton, Vice-President Sinn Féin Poblachtach chaired the proceedings. A lament was played by the piper while the flags were lowered.

He then called on Josephine Hayden, Cumann na mBan and Vice President Sinn Féin Poblachtach to say a few words on behalf of all those who died on hunger strikes over the years. In the course of her speech she mentioned that hunger strikes always took place because of the absence of Political Status for POWs and appalling prison conditions. “Bobby Sands had no words to say to the RUC and Brits when he was tortured and beaten for 6 days before he was charged for a second time in his young life. That was 1977 and there was no political status. Just blanket men. Political status had been removed by Maggie Thatcher.

“There is no political status in Maghaberry now and this is 2005 – but this time Thatcher or her ministers are not accountable. The Provos and their allies the Brits are accountable. Political status was removed by them, the very people that were comrades of Bobby Sands and the nine men who followed him to the grave. Francis Hughes, Ray McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Dioherty, Thomas McElwee and Mickie Devine. With the signing of the Stormont Agreement by their so-called comrades, political status was removed. The lure of the Saxon shilling was once again irresistible to a certain type of Irishman and woman – the native traitors who were happy to criminalise the POWs.

“But the men in the H-Blocks and the POWs who took part in the hunger strikes of 1980/81 had minds of their own, and they were following a path well travelled by Republicans. They said enough is enough after years denying the Brits the right to criminalize them. The brutality of the prison system left them with no choice. They refused to be branded criminals so they had to fight back.

“So today we reiterate our and their commitment to the All Ireland Republic. Let us never forget their sacrifice. We send solidarity greetings to the POWs in Maghaberry and Portlaoise Jails. In Portlaoise the POWs still have to slop out, medical facilities are almost non-existent and an attempt was made recently to curtail visits. This must be resisted. We will also continue to highlight your 5 demands in Maghaberry:
1. An end to strip searching
2. End to controlled movement and lock-down
3. Free Association
4. Better education facilities
5. Better visiting conditions – particularly an end to the use of sniffer dogs.”

At this stage the Free State Gardaí intervened and tried to get the rally to finish as they said they had no prior knowledge of the rally and RSF had no permission to hold one! Needless to mention the rally continued. Na Fianna Éireann read a statement sending greetings to the POWs. Des then introduced Fergal Moore, Ard Comhairle who said Bobby and his fellow Blanketmen suffered under a brutal regime imposed by the Brits in an attempt to break the prisoners’ resistance to the policy of criminalisation.

“But the prisoners refused to be broken. They knew that if they allowed themselves to be labelled criminals then the struggle for the All Ireland Republic would also be labelled a criminal act. The H-Block was another front in the war against the Brits. The prisoners knew that although they had no guns or bombs their determination to resist was their weapon that would see them victorious. Famously Bobby was to say ‘I am, even after all the torture, amazed at British logic. Never in eight centuries have they succeeded in breaking the spirit of one man who refused to be broken. They have not dispirited, conquered, nor demoralised my people, nor will they ever.’

“On March 1, 1981 Bobby began a hunger strike in the full knowledge that it could and probably would lead to his death. ‘Of course I can be murdered,’ he said, ‘but I remain what I am, a political POW and no-one, not even the British, can change that.’

“A few days after he commenced his strike Frank Maguire, an independent MP who supported the prisoner’s cause, died forcing a by-election in the Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency. Dáithí Ó Conaill, the late Vice-President of Republican Sinn Féin proposed at an Ard Comhairle meeting that Bobby Sands should run as an abstentionist candidate to highlight his plight.

“Bobby agreed to this and an intense election campaign was begun. On April 10th he was elected thanks to the support of the nationalist people for his struggle. Bobby was not now an MP. He had stood on a Republican ticket and was endorsed by the people of Fermanagh-South Tyrone. He was a TD and would only have taken his seat in a 32 county All Ireland Dáil had circumstances allowed. The election victory was a great boost to the struggle. Support for the prisoners and for Irelands cause was now building on a world-wide scale. But the British were oblivious to the shame being heaped upon them and on May 5th, the sixty-sixth day of his hunger strike Bobby Sands joined the ranks of Irelands martyred dead. Over the next few months while the streets of Ireland ran with blood and fire the Brits remained impervious to world opinion and nine more brave men were to sacrifice themselves just as Bobby had done.

“Following the deaths of the 10 Hunger Strikers it was clear that Britain’s shameless intransigence could not be overcome by the deaths of more Irish men. The strike was called off in October. But the Brits had been stung by the hunger strike and the turning of world opinion against them. Rather than risk a repeat of the protest, effective Political Status was introduced without fanfare on the quiet.

“Now 24 years later we stand here humbled by the greatness of the hunger strikers and the heroes of 1916. But that which they fought and paid for so dearly is still not achieved. Britain still rules in six Irish counties and a puppet regime administers her rule in the other twenty-six. The goal of the Republican Movement remains today the same as it was on Easter Monday 1916. We aim to establish an All Ireland Republic free from foreign oppression and interference where the common name of Irish Man replaces the labels of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. This was the cause for which Pearse and Connolly fought. This was the cause to which Bobby Sands and the other H-Block Hunger Strikers dedicated themselves and for which they eventually gave their lives.

“Bobby Sands and the hunger strikers of 1981 have inspired a generation of Irish men and women. Their brave sacrifices showed that there was still honour and nobility in the world. They have proven that The Republic which has been struggled for by so many gallant men and women is indeed worth the heavy price paid. We must ensure that the price paid by the blood Irish martyrs is not wasted. It is up to us to ensure that the Irish Republic of Pearse, Connolly and Sands is finally enthroned.

“Bobby is often quoted as saying, “Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has his or her own part to play”. What will your part be? Will you be content to sit on the sidelines and criticise while darkness slowly descends on the Republic? Or will you join in the struggle? Will you stretch forth your hand and grasp “an claidheamh soluis”, the sword of light, and drive back the darkness of British rule, defeat the shadow of Imperialism? The day of the Republic is only dawning and so long as we stand united and sing of the glory of Pearse and Connolly of Bobby Sands and the All-Ireland Republic then night will never fall.”

7. DEMONSTRATION AT ISRAELI/IRELAND SOCCER MATCH, JUNE 4

JOIN the demonstration and march against Israel’s occupation of Palestine in Dublin on June 4, a few hours before the Ireland-Israel soccer match. Assemble, Central Bank, Dame Street, 3pm.

If you are going to the match, go to the demo first, and then show your support for Palestine at the match too — get a Palestinian flag at the demonstration and wave it at the match. Organised by the Palestine Solidarity Coalition.
ENDS

BBC

Monkey on the run from city zoo


Monkey escaped from enclosure at Belfast Zoo

Police are urging people to keep a look out for a monkey which escaped from Belfast Zoo.

Officers have joined staff in the search for a Colobus monkey which escaped from its enclosure on Sunday night.

A man living near the zoo raised the alarm after spotting the two feet tall, black and white animal in his garden shortly after 2200 BST.

The public is urged not to approach the monkey but to contact the authorities.

Johnny Owens, the owner of the house where the monkey was spotted, said he could not believe what he was seeing.

“I was sitting there last night watching television and just happened to look out the window and saw this beautiful black and white monkey going up and down the gazebo and I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Mr Owens said.

“I phoned my nieces and they stayed for a couple of hours and fed it.”

He said he contacted the police, who notified the zoo.

“They in turn said it had settled down nicely for the night and they’d start their search in the morning.”

Shy

Mark Challis, the zoo’s acting manager, said he was hopeful the young male monkey will be returned safely to his enclosure.

“He’s out of his normal environment, he’s likely to want to hide. They are a relatively shy, nervous species.

“They come from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, so they are quite a tough species of monkey. The cool air nights shouldn’t bother them too much,” Mr Challis added.

“We have a very capable and trained escape team in the zoo. We wouldn’t want people to approach him too closely, but if they can keep an eye on him and see what he’s up to that would be ideal.”

A red panda escaped from the zoo in December 2002.

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin challenges Irish government referendum position

Published: 30 May, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald today challenged Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern on the government’s referendum position. She said “is it all very well to say that the government are just going to push ahead, but what are they going to push ahead with? The constitution has been rejected in France so it does not have the unanimous support which it requires to come into force.”

Ms. McDonald said:

“It is all very well for Dermot Ahern to say that the government is going to press ahead but they need to tell us what they are going to press ahead with. The proposed Constitution requires the support of all 25-member states to be ratified, that clearly cannot happen, as it has been rejected by the French. Are the government seriously suggesting that millions of people across Europe are going to be ignored and that the referendum will be re-run in every country that rejects it until the EU bureaucrats get the result they want.

“The French people are to be congratulated. The result of their referendum must be respected.

“Their success is a major boost to all those who believe that this Constitution should be rejected because it is undemocratic, militaristic and right wing.

“Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the proposed EU Constitution. We want to see it comprehensively rejected and are leading a major campaign to bring this about. But I would challenge the Irish government , given the French rejection of the Constitution, to tell us exactly what we will be voting for if this is put to the people in the Autumn.” ENDS

BreakingNews.ie

Cullen refuses to comment on state of bus crash road

30/05/2005 – 14:40:59

Transport Minister Martin Cullen has refused to comment on newspaper reports claiming that a motorist had expressed concern about the road where last week’s school bus tragedy occurred.

Reports this morning claimed the motorist complained to the Gardaí about the state of the road between Navan and Kentstown in Co Meath before the crash last Monday.

A second motorist has also reportedly told the Bus Éireann investigation into the incident that the situation of temporary traffic lights in the area were “a recipe for disaster”.

The road was in the process of being resurfaced when a bus carrying secondary school pupils home from Navan overturned onto its side, killing five teenage girls.

Many commentators have suggested that the road works may have been a contributory factor, but, when asked about the matter this morning, Mr Cullen said he would not engage in speculation until investigations had concluded.

BBC

Jobs boost with £100m centre plan


Junction One opened last May

Up to 500 additional jobs are to be created in a £100m expansion at Northern Ireland’s first international outlet shopping centre.

A second phase of retail units has been approved at Junction One, near Antrim, along with a fitness centre, a hotel and a multi-screen cinema.

It comes a year after the centre complex opened on the 60-acre site.

Alistair Kennedy of Junction One said the new facilities had significant economic and tourism benefits.

“Junction One has surpassed all expectations welcoming over 2.5 million visitors in its first year of operations,” he said.

“From the outset, our aim has been to provide a unique mixed use family orientated destination which will attract visitors from throughout Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and indeed further afield.

“The time is now right to expand on what is currently offered by developing an evening economy.

Second largest

“This can only serve to attract people to view Antrim as an overnight destination”.

Junction One opened on 31 May 2004, with more than 50 outlet stores and more than 800 staff.

The second phase of the development features a three-star, 120-bedroom hotel, a 10,000 sq ft fitness club and a five-screen cinema which can seat 1,100.

Work has already begun on a food store to be opened by supermarket chain Lidl in September.

A two storey food court and children’s play area is due to open at the end of next month, and the green light has also been given for a further three restaurants and a drive-through eatery.

Mr Kennedy added: “It is our firm belief that Antrim’s central location has played a major part in the success of Junction One.”

He said that when completed, Junction One will rank as the second largest factory outlet centre in the UK.

Irelandclick.com

Sinn Fein criticises “British ID cards for Irish citizens”

Sinn Féin human rights and equality spokeswoman has said that the party is fundamentally opposed to the introduction of British identity cards.

In a statement Caitríona Ruane said the party was “fundamentally opposed” to the introduction of any voluntary or compulsory British ID card.

Planned Westminster legislation would involve creating a UK-wide database holding information on people such as names, addresses, and biometric information like fingerprints, facial scans and iris scans by 2008.

“Under the Good Friday Agreement people in the North have the right to Irish or British identity,” said the MLA. “Far from being an effective tool for anything, these cards would undermine not just civil liberties but also fundamentally the right of people living in the North to their Irish identity. Should Irish citizens in the North have to carry such a British ID card or there is there any basis for the British government to have the right to hold biometric and other information on Irish citizens?”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Irelandclick.com

As pupil numbers drop, BELB report flags up school closure threat

* SPECIAL REPORT: Education crisis deepens in Belfast and our exclusive report reveals

Confidential documents showing demographic trends and their influence on school populations indicate that several Belfast schools are failing to reach their enrolment quotas and may soon face closure.

The report from the Belfast Education and Library Board shows that in some schools up to a staggering 80 per cent of places are unfilled, placing a question mark over their continued existence.

Some nursery schools are forestalling the threat of closure by admitting children at the age of two — a year earlier than normal.

Of the 32 nursery schools in Belfast providing 1552 full time places to children, twelve would be in dire straits if they were to lose their underage intake.
The Shankill area of West Belfast would be the worst affected as there are a high number of nurseries in a small district with a high percentage of two-year-olds attending.

Of the 88 primary schools in Belfast a combined 11,665 (33 per cent) places are unfilled. Of this number, 4,226 are found in schools in West Belfast — 1470 in the controlled sector, 2756 in the maintained sector.
Only 16 primary schools have more than 400 children enrolled whilst 14 have less than 100 pupils.

There are 3329 unfilled places in the post-primary sector — where there are 39 schools — with 1735 coming from controlled schools and 1462 from maintained.

Schools in Catholic West Belfast are generally unaffected by the fall-off in numbers — with the exception of Corpus Christi where 39 per cent of places are unfilled. However, the same cannot be said for their North Belfast counterparts.

At Castle High School, 76% per cent of places are unfilled. At St Gabriel’s Boys’ School, the figure is 65 per cent.

St Rose’s and St Genevieve’s High Schools are the only two in West Belfast to meet the quota and are over-subscribed by eleven and fourteen pupils respectively.

These latest figures now mean that closure is unavoidable for some Belfast schools and nursery schools.

Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson MLA said the new statistics were “alarming”.

“The real issue is the massive underfunding that cannot hide the fact that there is not enough investment to run our schools,” he said.

“A reduction in pupils may allow for a better teacher-pupil ratio and thus allow for higher standards but how can this happen when cuts are being made and teachers are losing their jobs. It is incomprehensible to me.”

The fall in the number of children in Belfast is expected to continue over the next ten years with school closures, say experts, inevitable.

Journalist:: Francesca Ryan

Irelandclick.com

Unemployment figures static for last 30 years

* REVEALED Government figures show Catholics still twice as likely to be on dole

Catholic women are three and a half times more likely to be unemployed than Protestant women in the North.

We can also reveal, in general, Catholics remain precisely twice as likely to be on the dole queue as Protestants.

The shocking figures are drawn from official British government Labour Force Survey statistics which have been obtained by our sister paper Daily Ireland. The survey was conducted on a quarterly basis for the 12 months between Winter 03/04 and Autumn 2004.

Margins of sampling error – which are consistently greater for the Catholic aggregate – mean that the real disparity could be even worse.

For over 30 years the unemployment differential between Catholics and Protestants has been regarded as a crucial indicator of inequality across the North.

In April 2003 the British government pledged in the Joint Declaration with the Irish government to take effective action which would tackle the unemployment differential “by targeting objective need”.

This assurance followed successive fair employment laws introduced in 1976, 1989, 1991 and 1998. Throughout that entire period, the unemployment differential has remained virtually static, with Catholics consistently at least twice as likely to be unemployed.

However when the positive political, social and economic developments of the last decade are taken into account alongside the overall fall in unemployment, the lack of any significant change in the ratio is arguably even more serious. The figures demonstrate that, for Catholic women in particular, the prospects are not improving.

In recent years, British government sponsored researchers have claimed that social factors other than discrimination are responsible for the disparity in the unemployment differential.

However, the startling precision with which such inequality has been maintained remains a source of considerable concern for anti-discrimination campaigners.

The latest figures come just days after the official 2005 deprivation statistics for the North were published.

According to the deprivation statistics, the predominantly nationalist parliamentary constituencies of West Belfast, Foyle and West Tyrone are among the four areas of the North where the highest proportion of deprived people live.

Strongly unionist constituencies of North Down, Strangford, Lagan Valley and South Antrim have the least number of people living in deprived conditions.

A major conference on equality which is taking place tomorrow in Belfast will be addressed by one of North America’s most powerful elected politicians, Alan Hevesi.

Mr Hevesi is the financial comptroller for New York state and his office administers the second largest pension fund in America.

In spite of bitter opposition from the British government, Mr Hevesi has remained a determined campaigner for fair employment initiatives in the North, such as the MacBride Principles, throughout his political career.
At a press conference tomorrow morning, Mr Hevesi is expected to make a major investment announcement.

Last Friday Daily Ireland revealed that the British government ban which prevents Irish citizens gaining employment in the North’s senior Civil Service will remain in place for at least another 12 months.

An analysis by the Andersonstown News last year concluded that, based on recruitment trends over 30 years, the senior Civil Service could not achieve fair representativeness until at least 2057. At present just one out of every four senior civil servants is Catholic.

In March, Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern caused considerable disquiet in Northern nationalist political circles when he alleged in a newspaper interview that “the type of discrimination that took place (in the North) in previous decades, all of that has disappeared.”

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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