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BBC

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Vandals have caused damage put at more than £1,000 to the DUP leader Ian Paisley’s church in east Belfast.

Twelve windows were smashed at the Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian church on Ravenhill Road. The attack was discovered by the church caretaker.

Mr Paisley said it was the latest in a series of attacks on the church and said the police had been “totally unable” to safeguard the building.

“These attacks have now become a very serious matter,” said Mr Paisley.

Mr Paisley, who is the Free Presbyterian Moderator, said that a number of months ago almost £11,000 worth of damage was caused to the windows of the church.

“Continually, from that time, there have been windows shattered.

“Today we counted fourteen windows shot through. One of these was a heavy security window in my office.

“So far the police have been totally unable to safeguard the building or prevent these attacks. The press have failed to report them.

“On one of these occasions paint was thrown at the gates. Obscene lettering was placed on the pillars of the church.”

Mr Paisley said he had informed the local police and the assistant chief constable for Belfast.

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IOL

30/09/2005 – 15:37:43

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The Rossport Five have been freed.

The men were called to the High Court this afternoon for proceedings, and Shell agreed to lift its injunction on them.

The North Mayo group have spent 94 days in jail after refusing to obey a court order not to interfere with the building of a Shell gas pipeline.

They are due back in court on 25th October on issue of contempt.

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
nmcadam@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
30 September 2005

A BAN on Sinn Fein fundraising in the US remains in place despite the IRA’s ‘final’ decommissioning, it emerged today.

The bar was imposed in March by the US State Department following the killing of Robert McCartney, and special envoy Mitchel Reiss is understood to have told Martin McGuinness this week that it remains in force.

Sinn Fein has made clear, however, that Mr McGuinness’s visit this week was focused on dealing primarily with meetings following the IRA’s actions rather than fundraising.

Now, however, Sinn Fein is expected to formally apply again for permission to raise funds ahead of a scheduled $$500-a-plate fund-raiser in New York next month organised by the Friends of Sinn Fein group.

It is unclear, however, whether the American authorities will feel minded to lift the ban before the next report of the Independent Monitoring Commission, due next month, which is expected to confirm IRA activity has ceased.

There could be a huge row if the State Department decides to wait for the second next Commission report, expected in January. The Manhattan dinner annually raises up to £400,000 for the party.

While the US remains a fundraising ‘no-go’ area, however, cash can still be raised in Canada. Mr McGuinness is to speak at a $$100-a-head dinner in Calgary, also organised by Friends of Sinn Fein, on Monday night. Today he was travelling to Seattle before heading on to San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix over the weekend.

Belfast Telegraph

By Staff Reporter
newsdesk@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
30 September 2005

A CONTROVERSIAL new book which claims that the IRA did not murder Lord Mountbatten has been dismissed as “nonsense”.

The book, Terminate with Extreme Prejudice, by author Richard Belfield, claims that Lord Mountbatten, was killed by another terror group – the INLA.

The book also claims that since the early 1970s there was an agreement in place between the leadership of the IRA and the top brass of the Army in London that the Royal Family was ‘off limits’.

But the book was dismissed as “nonsense” today by North Antrim Assembly member Ian Paisley jnr.

Cousin to the Queen, Lord Louis Mountbatten (79), was murdered on August 27, 1979, when a bomb exploded on his fishing boat near his holiday home at Mullaghmore, Sligo.

He was murdered on the same day that 18 soldiers were killed in a bomb attack near Warrenpoint in Co Down.

Terminate With Extreme Prejudice is published by Constable & Robinson and sets out to ‘expose the assassination game, its killers and their paymasters’.

Author Richard Belfield is a London-based journalist and film maker.

He argues that throughout the Troubles there was continual dialogue between the Government and republican and loyalist paramilitaries – through back-channels and face-to-face meetings.

In the book he says: “In a round-table meeting British Army commanders warned their IRA counterparts that the Royal Family was off limits.”

According to Belfield the IRA kept to this arrangement and were not responsible for the bomb which killed Mountbatten and three other people.

According to the author the Army’s own internal investigation concluded that the bomb was identical in its key elements to those used by the INLA.

Belfield argues that because the attack at Warrenpoint happened on the same day that Lord Mountbatten was murdered it was unlikely that the IRA carried out both incidents.

He said the purpose of the Warrenpoint attack was to achieve a ‘propaganda coup’ but instead the IRA lost the ‘PR war’ as it was blamed on the ‘cowardly assassination of a pensioner’.

He continued: “The internal British Army view was that they (the IRA) did not carry out two major operations on the same day and furthermore did not have enough skilled bombers to do both.

“However, at the time it suited their propaganda purposes to blame the IRA.”

Rejecting the book’s claims Mr Paisley said: “This is just an attempt to rewrite history. No student of history will buy into this nonsense.”

BreakingNews.ie

30/09/2005 – 12:41:24

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has criticised Dublin City Council for refusing to allow the erection of street posters advertising a demonstration supporting the Rossport Five.

Earlier this week, the Shell-to-Sea group campaigning against the Corrib gas pipeline said it had been refused permission to erect posters advertising the demonstration this weekend.

The ICCL said this was not the first time the city council had refused such permission and it was planning to write to the local authority to express its concerns about the situation.

The civil liberties group said it believed the claims about the refusal of permission.

BBC

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Vandals have caused damage put at more than £1,000 to the DUP leader Ian Paisley’s church in east Belfast.

Twelve windows were smashed at the Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian church on Ravenhill Road. The attack was discovered by the church caretaker.

Mr Paisley said it was the latest in a series of attacks on the church and said the police had been “totally unable” to safeguard the building.

“These attacks have now become a very serious matter,” said Mr Paisley.

Mr Paisley, who is the Free Presbyterian Moderator, said that a number of months ago almost £11,000 worth of damage was caused to the windows of the church.

“Continually, from that time, there have been windows shattered.

“Today we counted fourteen windows shot through. One of these was a heavy security window in my office.

“So far the police have been totally unable to safeguard the building or prevent these attacks. The press have failed to report them.

“On one of these occasions paint was thrown at the gates. Obscene lettering was placed on the pillars of the church.”

Mr Paisley said he had informed the local police and the assistant chief constable for Belfast.

IOL

30/09/2005 – 15:37:43

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Photo from risingtide.org

The Rossport Five have been freed.

The men were called to the High Court this afternoon for proceedings, and Shell agreed to lift its injunction on them.

The North Mayo group have spent 94 days in jail after refusing to obey a court order not to interfere with the building of a Shell gas pipeline.

They are due back in court on 25th October on issue of contempt.

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent

nmcadam@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

30 September 2005

A BAN on Sinn Fein fundraising in the US remains in place despite the IRA’s ‘final’ decommissioning, it emerged today.

The bar was imposed in March by the US State Department following the killing of Robert McCartney, and special envoy Mitchel Reiss is understood to have told Martin McGuinness this week that it remains in force.

Sinn Fein has made clear, however, that Mr McGuinness’s visit this week was focused on dealing primarily with meetings following the IRA’s actions rather than fundraising.

Now, however, Sinn Fein is expected to formally apply again for permission to raise funds ahead of a scheduled $$500-a-plate fund-raiser in New York next month organised by the Friends of Sinn Fein group.

It is unclear, however, whether the American authorities will feel minded to lift the ban before the next report of the Independent Monitoring Commission, due next month, which is expected to confirm IRA activity has ceased.

There could be a huge row if the State Department decides to wait for the second next Commission report, expected in January. The Manhattan dinner annually raises up to £400,000 for the party.

While the US remains a fundraising ‘no-go’ area, however, cash can still be raised in Canada. Mr McGuinness is to speak at a $$100-a-head dinner in Calgary, also organised by Friends of Sinn Fein, on Monday night. Today he was travelling to Seattle before heading on to San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix over the weekend.

Belfast Telegraph

By Staff Reporter

newsdesk@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

30 September 2005

A CONTROVERSIAL new book which claims that the IRA did not murder Lord Mountbatten has been dismissed as “nonsense”.

The book, Terminate with Extreme Prejudice, by author Richard Belfield, claims that Lord Mountbatten, was killed by another terror group – the INLA.

The book also claims that since the early 1970s there was an agreement in place between the leadership of the IRA and the top brass of the Army in London that the Royal Family was ‘off limits’.

But the book was dismissed as “nonsense” today by North Antrim Assembly member Ian Paisley jnr.

Cousin to the Queen, Lord Louis Mountbatten (79), was murdered on August 27, 1979, when a bomb exploded on his fishing boat near his holiday home at Mullaghmore, Sligo.

He was murdered on the same day that 18 soldiers were killed in a bomb attack near Warrenpoint in Co Down.

Terminate With Extreme Prejudice is published by Constable & Robinson and sets out to ‘expose the assassination game, its killers and their paymasters’.

Author Richard Belfield is a London-based journalist and film maker.

He argues that throughout the Troubles there was continual dialogue between the Government and republican and loyalist paramilitaries – through back-channels and face-to-face meetings.

In the book he says: “In a round-table meeting British Army commanders warned their IRA counterparts that the Royal Family was off limits.”

According to Belfield the IRA kept to this arrangement and were not responsible for the bomb which killed Mountbatten and three other people.

According to the author the Army’s own internal investigation concluded that the bomb was identical in its key elements to those used by the INLA.

Belfield argues that because the attack at Warrenpoint happened on the same day that Lord Mountbatten was murdered it was unlikely that the IRA carried out both incidents.

He said the purpose of the Warrenpoint attack was to achieve a ‘propaganda coup’ but instead the IRA lost the ‘PR war’ as it was blamed on the ‘cowardly assassination of a pensioner’.

He continued: “The internal British Army view was that they (the IRA) did not carry out two major operations on the same day and furthermore did not have enough skilled bombers to do both.

“However, at the time it suited their propaganda purposes to blame the IRA.”

Rejecting the book’s claims Mr Paisley said: “This is just an attempt to rewrite history. No student of history will buy into this nonsense.”

BreakingNews.ie

30/09/2005 – 12:41:24

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has criticised Dublin City Council for refusing to allow the erection of street posters advertising a demonstration supporting the Rossport Five.

Earlier this week, the Shell-to-Sea group campaigning against the Corrib gas pipeline said it had been refused permission to erect posters advertising the demonstration this weekend.

The ICCL said this was not the first time the city council had refused such permission and it was planning to write to the local authority to express its concerns about the situation.

The civil liberties group said it believed the claims about the refusal of permission.

Irelandclick.com

As we recall the carnage of the UVF of 1975, Andrea McKernon wonders why
nothing is being done about the violence and brutality which still surroundS us

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(BBC photo)

This Sunday recalls one of the darkest days of the conflict when the UVF embarked on a sectarian murder campaign in 1975 that would end in tragedy for many families.
Within 24 hours, 11 people were dead and a twelfth died later in the month.
The outrages led to the banning of the UVF, which had been legalised by the British administration – to the anger and disbelief of nationalists – a year before.
Some 30 years down the line the UVF is now engaged in a bloody battle for supremacy with the LVF for drugs and turf that has led to the murders of five men in recent months. It’s difficult to see what has changed in the intervening decades.
On October 2, 1975 years ago the UVF death squads unleashed their blood thirsty gangs killing six Catholics from North Belfast.
The bloodshed would be a precursor to the killing spree of the Butchers from the mid 1970s – the most notorious killings that day were led by UVF leader and Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy.
British Secretary of State Peter Hain recently announced that the 11-year UVF ceasefire was defunct after members fired shots at the PSNI after the banning of the Orange Order’s Springfield Road march earlier in September. It seems nothing has changed in Loyalism.
The group is still intent on killing, dealing drugs and extortion and as one fierce opponent of the Mount Vernon UVF Raymond McCord asked recently, why are the UVF still here?
If we look back at Merlyn Rees who had legalised the paramilitary gang in 1974, the legalisation was a failed attempt to get the UVF to engage on a political path.
How uncannily familiar it all sounds now.
The UVF led a spate of bombings and shootings that day that caused carnage across the North.
Some 16 bombs went off, with 13 planted by the UVF. Four UVF men died when a bomb they were transporting exploded.
Frances Donnelly, 35, and her sister Marie McGrattan, 47, were Catholics who worked in their father’s wholesale wine and spirits business at Millfield.
Frances Donnelly lived in Strathmore Park and her sister lived at Thirlmere Gardens.
The UVF gang murdered the sisters after forcing them to kneel on the floor of the office before shooting them in the back of the head.
Two more Catholic workers were shot that day. Gerard Grogan was an 18-year-old storeman who was killed in a bottling store.
Thomas Osborne, 18, from Churchill Street died on October 23 as a result of his injuries from the October 2 attack.
The same day Ardoyne photographer Thomas Murphy was killed when the UVF entered his photographic studio on Carlisle Circus and shot him.
A bomb was also planted in the 29-year-old’s premises, which exploded.
The UVF also struck in the Co Antrim town of Aldergrove at the Catholic owned McKenna’s bar, killing 35-year-old John Stewart.
Also killed that day was a 37-year-old Protestant woman from Killyleagh in a UVF bomb blast at a Catholic owned bar in the Co Down village.
As the IRA decommissioned its weapons in the wake of its historic announcement in July to stand down all units, the UVF is still bent on killing and destruction. With the victims of one day in its bloody past remembered by heartbroken families this week, when are the UVF and other loyalist and republican groupings going to embrace the peace so desperately desired by all the people of this island?
And when is the British establishment going to get tough with the hard men of all hues of loyalism?

Journalist:: Andrea McKernon

Irelandclick.com

The Royal Hospitals yesterday announced a £300 million redevelopment plan which will see a brand new maternity hospital and children’s hospital constructed on the Royal Victoria’s Falls Road site.

The new state-of-the-art buildings are expected to be completed by 2017 at the latest and are part of a major investment plan which will see a staggering three quarters of a billion pounds pumped into the redevelopment of the hospital over the next 10 years.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News yesterday, the Royal Hospitals’ Chief Executive, William McKee, said he was delighted with the announcement.
“We continue to strive to improve the environment in which we care for patients and these funds will ensure that we get expert advice in the design and development of this building,” said Mr McKee.

“Although the completion date is 2017, we expect to have seventy-five per cent of the building open before that. This is a very congested site, we cannot build the hospital in one bite so it will take time,” he added, before confirming that the current 80-year-old children’s hospital and the maternity hospital will be demolished in the future. The current buildings will continue to offer their existing services whilst the new buildings are being constructed and we will be upgrading the old buildings to an acceptable standard in the meantime so services are not affected, but eventually the older buildings will be demolished.”

Mr McKee is confident that the new structures will complement the existing services at the hospital and revealed that the hospital conferred with local women’s groups regarding the new buildings and included their views in the broad design.
“These buildings will match the quality of care provided by our staff who are well trained and dedicated to caring for each and every patient.

“The maternity hospital, where we deliver 5,000 babies per year, will provide more choice for mothers and children as there will be single rooms for all maternity patients rather than wards, and we are aiming to make the Children’s Hospital a more family-friendly place with overnight accommodation specifically for the children’s families.”

The hospital is now anticipating a further announcement which will give the green light to £95 million plans for a critical care unit, which will replace the current A&E block, as well as a burns unit and a heli-pad amongst other plans which will help the hospital retain its reputation as one of the leading medical centres in Europe.

The news has been warmly welcomed by local Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hartley.

“This is great news, the international reputation of the Royal will be enhanced by the new facilities and services that come out of this development, particularly the children’s hospital. The existing maternity hospital is fantastic and the new one can only offer even better services than before to expectant mothers across the North. This is certainly a welcome development.”

Úna Ní Mhearáin of the Falls Women’s Centre echoed Councillor Hartley’s comments. “The development of the regional maternity hospital has been held up long enough and it’s about time mothers and babies got the service they deserve. This news is very welcome indeed.”

Journalist:: Francesca Ryan

Irelandclick.com

Since the start of the year, community workers in North Belfast have recorded 358 sectarian attacks on Nationalists living in interface areas.
Nationalists have suffered 72 petrol bomb attacks, 45 incidents of intimidation, 20 assaults, 42 paint bombs, six death threats and 50 attacks on vehicles according to the Interface Mentoring Network (IMN) who collected details on incidents from January to September.
As a result Sinn Féin MLA Kathy Stanton has made an urgent appeal to the British and Irish governments to deal with the social impact of such intense sectarianism.
“The time has now come for a genuine and open dialogue with all political and community stakeholders to implement a long-term strategy aimed at addressing the underlying causes of conflict and division at interfaces ranging from sectarianism, employment, education, housing and poverty related issues,” the MLA said.
The MLA spoke at a conference called to address the impact of interfaces in Stormont this week alongside interface workers Gerry O’Reilly and Rab McCallum.
North Belfast has over 25 interfaces and approximately 75 voluntary workers who are involved at the coal face.
According to the IMN, an umbrella organisation which deals with interface violence and incidents, Nationalists have suffered 358 sectarian attacks since the start of the year.
Gerry O’Reilly of the interface group said the onus was upon the government to bring forward a viable policy to address the impact of these attacks.
“Current approaches towards the resolution of conflict at interface areas in North Belfast and throughout the North of Ireland are not working or have been stalled by those within the Unionist community who fail to engage on this issue,” Gerry O’Reilly said.
“This is further compounded by the shortsightedness of the British and Irish governments’ unwillingness to grasp the bull by the horns once and for all and seek a long-term viable solution.”
The PSNI were able to comment only on sectarian attacks recorded on their books in North Belfast since April of this year.
According to their figures since April 1 until the end of August, 170 sectarian incidents were recorded.
Co-ordinator of North Belfast Interface Network Rab McCallum said voluntary workers in this field of work needed a lot of support.
“These voluntary workers are involved in critical interventions in times of civil strife and crisis,” he said.
“These interventions are generally fraught with tensions and confrontation. This work has become increasingly demanding and is often thankless. The faint hearted rarely throw themselves into this type of work. Yet with virtually every interface incident comes a call from all quarters for the community to do more.”
Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast Kathy Stanton said the conference should put pressure on the British and Irish governments to begin a wide-ranging process of consultation.
“This consultation process must produce a much needed strategy and funding for this must follow for those who are working day and daily on the ground to make improvements to the lives of those living in interface communities.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Irish Times

30 September 2005

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness has been barred by the US State Department from fundraising in the US this week, despite the decommissioning of weapons by the IRA, writes Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent, in Belfast.

The move has worried the party’s Irish-American supporters in advance of next month’s Friends of Sinn Féin fundraiser in New York, though Sinn Féin sought to downplay its significance last night.

The annual Manhattan dinner, which costs $500 a head and is usually attended by senior Sinn Féin figures such as Mr McGuinness and party leader Gerry Adams, raises up to $400,000 for the party’s coffers.

Heeding a warning last March from the White House in the wake of the Belfast killing of Robert McCartney, Sinn Féin did not apply for fundraising rights when Mr Adams travelled to the US for St Patrick’s Day.

Under US State Department rules, foreign politicians have to apply for permission to raise funds from US donors before each of their visits to the country.

The restriction, The Irish Times understands, was specifically mentioned by the US special envoy to Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, when he met Mr McGuinness in Washington on Tuesday, though he had been told of it before he travelled.

Efforts are now expected from Irish-American supporters to get the ban lifted quickly. “There is no question but that it will be a big problem next month if it is not lifted,” one informed source commented last night.

The exact reasons for the US decision are not yet clear, though it could reflect White House caution about the IRA before the Independent Monitoring Commission issues the second of its reports next January.

Mr Reiss last night refused to discuss the visa restriction on Mr McGuinness. “US officials are not allowed to talk about the visa application of any individual.”

Last night, a Sinn Féin spokeswoman said: “The fundraising wasn’t a big part of this trip. He is doing all the political work that he intended to do on the west coast.

“We are hopeful that on the next trip he will be able to fundraise. We don’t see this as a long-term problem. This trip was put together at the last minute,” she said.

Mr McGuinness will travel to Seattle today before going on to San Francisco tomorrow and San Diego on Sunday. He concludes the US leg of his visit in Phoenix on Monday.

He will travel to Calgary in Canada on Monday and speak at a $100-a-head Friends of Sinn Féin (Canada) dinner there that evening.

Belfast Telegraph

By Paddy McGuffin
29 September 2005

The Police Ombudsman’s office today confirmed that it is to investigate allegations of torture against the Derry RUC dating back to 1979.

Four teenagers from Creggan were charged at that time with the murder of a young soldier. Evidence against them consisted of signed confessions to this and numerous other crimes.

Michael Toner, Gerry McGowan, Stephen Crumlish and Gerard Kelly were interrogated for three days and nights at Strand Road station without legal representation.

The four allege they were beaten and mentally and physically tortured to force them to sign false confessions.

They were charged with murder and spent seven weeks on remand in the Crumlin Road prison, being granted bail in an unprecedented move.

Gerry McGowan was even allowed to travel to England to play football.

When the four realised they were facing life behind bars they fled over the border and remained on the run, although living openly in the Republic, for the next 20 years.

In 1999 the case against them was dropped by the DPP.

Supporters argue that this, coupled with the granting of bail, indicates that the RUC always knew they were innocent.

**Comment below is from Gerry McGowan and reads as follows:

“THANK YOU FOR HIGHLIGHTING OUR CASE. CAN I JUST MAKE ONE CORRECTION.I WAS ALLOWED TO TRAVEL TO SCOTLAND WHERE I WAS ARRESTED AND EVENTUALLY RETURNED TO THE NORTH-BUT NOT B4 THEY SUGGESTED I BECOME A SUPERGRASS”.

Belfast Telegraph

By Jonathan McCambridge
29 September 2005

An innovative restorative justice project for victims of youth crime has now been rolled out into border areas of Co Armagh.

Youth Conferencing has operated in greater Belfast since December 2003 and is being extended gradually in the rest of the province.

When a young person is referred by the PSNI to the Public Prosecution Service or to the Youth Court and pleads guilty to an offence in the area, the victims of those offences may now be offered an opportunity to be involved in the justice process.

The offender will have to make amends for the harm caused with the victim helping to choose the punishment.

The scheme is operated by the Youth Justice Agency, created in April 2003. It should be available in all other areas of Northern Ireland by the end of 2006.

The Youth Conference service organises a meeting or series of meetings involving the young offender, their family, the victim and the community to look at the impact of the crime on the victim.

Victims have an opportunity through this process to challenge the young person about the effect their actions have had on them and to seek reparation for the harm that has been caused.

This can happen through a face to face meeting with the offender or if the victim prefers it through a video tape, a statement or by them having a representative attend in their place to relay their views.

The victim has a chance to have specific questions answered by the offender and to have the support of family or a friend in the room if needed.

The legislation allows for the young person to undertake a range of actions with the aims of repairing the harm and reducing the risk of them re-offending.

The young person may apologise directly to the victim for the consequences of their actions and may be required to make payment for items taken or damage caused.

Belfast Telegraph

By David Gordon
dgordon@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
30 September 2005

WELL-PLACED loyalist sources were today pouring cold water on speculation of a decommissioning move by the LVF in response to the disposal of Provo arms.

It was reported that the terror group founded by murdered terror chief Billy Wright could resurrect plans to dump arms following Monday’s announcement on IRA decommissioning.

But a source close to the LVF today said he had heard nothing about such talk, and firmly rejected the report.

He also indicated that the LVF is adopting a cautious approach to recent developments.

Portadown-based Pastor Kenny McClinton, who acts as interlocutor for the LVF with the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning, said:

“If the Government had really wanted loyalists to be encouraged to decommission their arms, they wouldn’t have made such a nonsense and a joke of the LVF decommissioning that occurred in 1998.”

However, Mr McClinton also said: “If anything was going on at present, it would be too sensitive for me to talk about.”

The LVF has been embroiled in a feud with the UVF this summer.

Four people were murdered by the UVF in July and August.

Although the situation appears significantly calmer at present, there has been no indication of any move towards a truce between the two factions.

Belfast Telegraph

Passengers to pay more for evening out

By Claire Regan and Fiona McIlwaine Biggins
cregan@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
30 September 2005

TAXI passengers were facing a hike in fares today as cab companies across Ulster put up prices due to the soaring global price of petrol.

Belfast cab giants Fon A Cab and Value Cabs say they are being forced to increase prices this weekend because of world oil price rises.

The raise could add around £1 to the cost of a night out for many people heading in to the central Belfast from the suburbs.

A snap Belfast Telegraph survey also revealed companies in towns across the Province – including Derry, Ballymena and Lurgan – are also planning imminent rises.

The development spells further misery for travellers coming just a week after Translink announced that bus and train fares are set to rise in six months’ time because of rising fuel costs.

And householders have also been hit hard with home heating oil costs at an unusually high level and Phoenix Natural Gas rates rising by 30% from tomorrow to cope with a rise in wholesale gas prices.

The most recent AA statistics show that a litre of unleaded is retailing on average in Northern Ireland at 96.1p and 98.6p for diesel.

Fon A Cab and Value Cabs, both said they have not raised prices since late 2003 when fuel was retailing for around 30% less.

William McCausland is the managing director of Fon A Cab and chairman of the Belfast Private Hire Taxi Proprietors Association. Speaking on behalf of Fon A Cab, he said fares at his firm are to rise from tomorrow onwards.

“The high fuel prices have had a massive effect on our drivers. They are paying out an extra £20-30 per week which hits them hard,” he said.

“Despite that we have tried to hold off for as long as possible before raising prices. We certainly didn’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction. But it has got to the stage where we now have no choice but to raise the tariff by 5p per mile.

“The pick-up price will rise from £2.50 to £2.70, adding around 40-50p on to a five mile journey.”

Director of Value Cabs, Christopher McCausland, said its prices would also be rising by 5p per mile and 20p on the minimum charge.

“We haven’t raised prices in two years and in that time our drivers have faced significantly increased overheads, the biggest of which has been rising fuel costs. This has put them under a lot of pressure so it got to the stage where we had no choice.”

According to the Ballymena Taxi Association, taxi rates for town journeys are to rise by 50p to £3.50 from next month and out-of- town trips accordingly.

In Lurgan, Brendan Loughan of Anytime Taxis said eight firms operating in the area recently struck a general agreement to raise prices by around 50p.

“It was getting to the point where guys were just leaving the job. It wasn’t worth it – they couldn’t operate with those prices,” he said.

Trevor Doherty, owner of Stranmillis Taxis in Belfast, said he has not had to raise prices yet but was expecting to do so in the near future.

And in Derry, Foyle Taxis said it would be raising fares within the next two weeks.

“We are on the verge of having to put prices up for the first time in 14 months,” said manager Joe Devenney.

“We would be one of the bigger firms here in Derry so when we move fares, others tend to follow.”

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
nmcadam@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
30 September 2005

THE DUP has said concerns remain following its face-to-face meeting with the two clergymen who witnessed IRA decommissioning.

But Ulster Unionists said it was time to “move on” from a sole focus on the decommissioning issue after a similar meeting with the independent witnesses, the Rev Harold Good and Fr Alec Reid.

The UUP also said it had emerged that the two witnesses began their role last November, shortly before the collapse of the political negotiations between Sinn Fein and the DUP in the so-called ‘Comprehensive Agreement’.

UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy said there was a danger of unionists getting themselves into a corner.

Former UUP leader David Trimble said today it would be “foolish” to disbelieve the evidence given by the former Methodist President and Redemptorist priest and unionists should not “get stuck in a self-defeating argument” over arms.

In an article for the News Letter, Mr Trimble said it would be a good idea if the inventory of IRA weaponry taken by the International Independent Commissioning on Decommissioning (IICD) was published, saying there was no legal requirement for it to remain confidential.

Unionists should, however, focus on the issues of tomorrow such as whether paramilitary activity and racketeering has ended; if Sinn Fein is unequivocally committed to supporting policing and if the integrity of the police and criminal justice system is being maintained.

DUP MP David Simpson, who ousted Mr Trimble from his Upper Bann seat at the last General Election, said his party was not questioning the integrity of the witnesses but questions remained.

Mr Simpson, who attended the meeting at Parliament buildings, said if they had not been appointed by the Government or the Decommissioning body, they must have been appointed by the IRA – a claim the two clerics have explicitly rejected.

Mr Kennedy said the UUP was amazed the witnesses were in place ahead of the failed deal of 2004.

“It questions the political influence of those who were negotiating fair deals and comprehensive agreements. Are we to believe that Dr Paisley and the political leadership of the DUP were so far out of the loop that they were unaware of the choreography of these events?” he asked.

Irelandclick.com

As we recall the carnage of the UVF of 1975, Andrea McKernon wonders why
nothing is being done about the violence and brutality which still surroundS us

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(BBC photo)

This Sunday recalls one of the darkest days of the conflict when the UVF embarked on a sectarian murder campaign in 1975 that would end in tragedy for many families.
Within 24 hours, 11 people were dead and a twelfth died later in the month.
The outrages led to the banning of the UVF, which had been legalised by the British administration – to the anger and disbelief of nationalists – a year before.
Some 30 years down the line the UVF is now engaged in a bloody battle for supremacy with the LVF for drugs and turf that has led to the murders of five men in recent months. It’s difficult to see what has changed in the intervening decades.
On October 2, 1975 years ago the UVF death squads unleashed their blood thirsty gangs killing six Catholics from North Belfast.
The bloodshed would be a precursor to the killing spree of the Butchers from the mid 1970s – the most notorious killings that day were led by UVF leader and Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy.
British Secretary of State Peter Hain recently announced that the 11-year UVF ceasefire was defunct after members fired shots at the PSNI after the banning of the Orange Order’s Springfield Road march earlier in September. It seems nothing has changed in Loyalism.
The group is still intent on killing, dealing drugs and extortion and as one fierce opponent of the Mount Vernon UVF Raymond McCord asked recently, why are the UVF still here?
If we look back at Merlyn Rees who had legalised the paramilitary gang in 1974, the legalisation was a failed attempt to get the UVF to engage on a political path.
How uncannily familiar it all sounds now.
The UVF led a spate of bombings and shootings that day that caused carnage across the North.
Some 16 bombs went off, with 13 planted by the UVF. Four UVF men died when a bomb they were transporting exploded.
Frances Donnelly, 35, and her sister Marie McGrattan, 47, were Catholics who worked in their father’s wholesale wine and spirits business at Millfield.
Frances Donnelly lived in Strathmore Park and her sister lived at Thirlmere Gardens.
The UVF gang murdered the sisters after forcing them to kneel on the floor of the office before shooting them in the back of the head.
Two more Catholic workers were shot that day. Gerard Grogan was an 18-year-old storeman who was killed in a bottling store.
Thomas Osborne, 18, from Churchill Street died on October 23 as a result of his injuries from the October 2 attack.
The same day Ardoyne photographer Thomas Murphy was killed when the UVF entered his photographic studio on Carlisle Circus and shot him.
A bomb was also planted in the 29-year-old’s premises, which exploded.
The UVF also struck in the Co Antrim town of Aldergrove at the Catholic owned McKenna’s bar, killing 35-year-old John Stewart.
Also killed that day was a 37-year-old Protestant woman from Killyleagh in a UVF bomb blast at a Catholic owned bar in the Co Down village.
As the IRA decommissioned its weapons in the wake of its historic announcement in July to stand down all units, the UVF is still bent on killing and destruction. With the victims of one day in its bloody past remembered by heartbroken families this week, when are the UVF and other loyalist and republican groupings going to embrace the peace so desperately desired by all the people of this island?
And when is the British establishment going to get tough with the hard men of all hues of loyalism?

Journalist:: Andrea McKernon

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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