You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2005.
Daily Ireland Editorial
2006 beckons with unlimited promise of political progress — but not first without an ill-advised intervention by Fianna Fáil Minister John O’ Donoghue who wishes to put more blocks in the way of Sinn Féin’s entry into the mainstream.
No wonder Fr Alex Reid warned before the summer that the greatest threat to the peace process came not from the IRA but from Southern politicians.
Diversity of opinion in any political party is a wonderful thing but it will be up to Bertie Ahern to get his troops in line for the political horse-trading which lies ahead. That means teaching them to distinguish between a tactical position — Fianna Fáil can never go into government with Sinn Féin — and the reality: Fianna Fáil will go into government with Sinn Féin if the numbers add up.
Fianna Fáil ministers who wish to gild Bertie Ahern’s lily by declaring their undying enmity towards Sinn Féin should think twice before trying to raise the bar of political participation ever-higher.
The politics of exclusion on this island have resulted only in anguish and misery.
Yesterday, Bertie Ahern refused to rise to the bait of John O’Donoghue when he spelt out his priority for 2006: restoring the powersharing and all-Ireland institutions “sooner rather than later”.
Unfortunately, in the International Monitoring Commission, set up outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, the Taoiseach has given a hostage to fortune. Some suggest that the Commissioners are so firmly in the pockets of their paymasters that they will return the report the two governments want: a declaration that the IRA is, in business terms, a dormant company involved in no activities.
However, given that their trusty sources for information to date have been intelligence agencies, policemen and other assorted defectives, there can be no guarantee that they will come in on cue. In his end-of-year comments, the Taoiseach also made it clear that he placed a greater emphasis on securing stability in the North than in securing a United Ireland. All par for the course except that while the Republic has benefited enormously from the peace process — the economic boom and the silence of the guns are not unrelated — nationalists in the North remain in a fetid, sectarian backwater. The union flag alone flies from public buildings, Irish is, in official terms, a non-language, republican ex-prisoners continue to suffer petty humiliations. In short, there are those who wish to ensure the nationalist nightmare continues. Of course, self-confident nationalists are making strides forward but, as evidenced by the state papers from 1975 released yesterday, the Irish Government often appears more worried about the possibility of a United Ireland than the British. The danger is that sterile political negotiations at Stormont in 2006 will disempower the grassroots who are crying out for change.
31/12/2005 – 18:03:23
The IRA today hailed its volunteers for abandoning the armed struggle in the wake of the organisation’s historic decision to decommission its weapons arsenal.
In a New Year message the Provisionals said they remained committed to their republican objectives and endorsed the work of Sinn Fein.
The paramilitary group also called on all political leaders to work towards progress in 2006.
The statement is the first from the IRA since September when General John de Chastelain announced the organisation had put its arms beyond use.
The move followed the groundbreaking announcement in July that the IRA had ordered an end to its armed campaign.
The latest statement, released through the republican newspaper An Phoblacht, said: “We salute the discipline and commitment of IRA volunteers, particularly following the momentous decisions by the Army leadership this year.
“We remain wedded to our republican objectives.
“We are confident that these objectives will be achieved.
“We fully support and commend everyone working for these goals, especially our comrades in Sinn Fein.”
As well as sending New Year greetings to activists, supporters and republican prisoners, the IRA also called for continued unity and determination in the year ahead.
The statement also looks forward to commemorations in 2006 to mark the 25th anniversary of the hunger strikes and the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising.
Signed P O’Neill, it concluded: “There is an onus on all political leaders to play their part in achieving the essential political progress desired by all the people of Ireland.”
Death of girl sparks call from tragic star’s mum
By Michael McHugh
31 December 2005
THE mother of tragic GAA star Cormac McAnallen has called for the mandatory cardiac screening of all schoolchildren after a west Belfast teenager collapsed and died on her doorstep.
Stephanie Meehan (15) perished suddenly at her Cullingtree Road home on Christmas Eve in unexplained circumstances reminiscent to those of the former Tyrone captain’s demise – and his mother has urged the health authorities to act.
Cormac and another budding sports star, Armagh rugby player John McCall (18), died in 2004 from what has been dubbed Sudden Death Syndrome, a phenomena similar to cot death and often caused by a cardiac abnormality.
Cormac’s mother Bridget, who lives in Eglish, Co Tyrone, said more needed to be done to check young people.
“We would be pushing for (cardiac) screening throughout schools. We now have the Cormac McAnallen Trust and we are encouraging people to undertake screening to prevent a rise in the number of these cases and to make people aware that they could have this condition,” she said.
“I want to express my sympathy for the family of the young girl. I think it is a terrible shock.
“When anyone dies without warning or any indication that the person had any problem it is very difficult.”
Stephanie had two siblings and her mother Geraldine.
Funeral Mass was said at St Peter’s Cathedral in west Belfast on Thursday by Msgr Tom Toner and he believed the cause of the teenager’s death was a mystery.
“She collapsed outside her front door but the post mortem revealed nothing,” he said.
The police are investigating the death but are not treating it as suspicious.
Cormac’s mother said the heart problem which killed her son was more common among younger people.
“A simple ECG scan normally would show up the majority of these conditions. There are times the conditions don’t show and I personally think there should be a school visiting service,” she added.
“I keep in touch with a charity called CRY in England which has found a significant number of people dying from this and it is important that it is taken seriously.
“Everybody thinks it is only athletes who get this but it can happen to anybody. It is just because athletes are better known that their cases receive more prominence.”
31 December 2005. Thanks to A.
Martin Ingram, a pseudonym, was a British Army (Force Research Unit) covert agent in Northern Ireland.
[Martin Ingram writes:]
Every time an agent is exposed within the Sinn Fein /IRA organisation you see deep turmoil caused within Republicanism by this exposure, I suppose that is a natural and understandable reaction. Mick Hall in his article dated 21/12/2005 entitled ‘Defeating the enemy within’ is naïve in believing Sinn Fein to be a normal political party. How can it be when it is controlled and colludes with the British Administration? What is required is a new party that represents all strands of the broad Nationalist/Republican interest, free from British influence. When I read Mick’s article I just could not help but enjoy a momentary smile. This warmth is not generated from a desire to see Republicans squirm or become embarrassed but by a genuine admiration for my former colleagues who have run brave agents in a hostile environment.
Any momentary warmth soon evaporates and I revert back into my Nationalist persona. I honestly do believe in a United Ireland and it is an achievable and a just cause. That said it won’t be achieved by murder and corruption and even if it could be it would not be worth the price. I am also certain that articles like Mick Halls dated 21/12/2005 do certainly not help the cause. One may as well be asked to hibernate until the next tout is exposed if you follow Mick’s logic.
I can hear certain elements asking loudly why should we trust this fucking Brit? Well I would turn that question 180 degrees and ask WHY would the RM trust those who have been at the helm of the Republican ship for over two and half decades and achieved WHAT? A stranded ship going anywhere but home.
The peace process today. The GFA is full of ifs’ and buts’ and more than a few maybes. We have PIRA in retirement mode with a public stance that all its weapons have been decommissioned. I can’t help thinking with a smirk what South Armagh and Tyrone Republicans think of that goodwill gesture? After all have the Loyalists not been able to retain the weapons that it acquired from South Africa with a little help from my colleagues within the FRU? I thought this GFA agreement was based upon equality. Who negotiated that one??
We understand the Republican leadership negotiated a deal at Hillsborough in 2003, which clearly stated all persons who had committed a scheduled offence, would be included in the legislation dealing with OTRs. Now Sinn Fein lied about when this deal was struck but thanks to the SDLP who has provided the documentary evidence we know the truth. Now even a fool would surmise that the British would use any opportunity that was available to admonish its’ members who have undoubtedly committed criminal/scheduled offences. You don’t need to be Einstein to see that train coming. Now Adams isn’t any Einstein but on the other hand he is no fool either? So WHY did he agree to this deal? Did he not think that the victims of Bloody Sunday Dublin/ Monaghan would fail to notice this sleight of hand or did he not care?
I accept Sinn Fein have finally backed away from this deal – but they had two feet in it for a long time, why? The sight of Connor Murphy stood proud and upright defending this Sinn Fein British Govt joint agreement outside the British parliament in London was impressive. I wonder did Connor really believe in that legislation or was he just on a mission for Gerry. Over to you, Connor?
Now lets be generous to Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness on this. Maybe Gerry and Martin with a few words of comfort from their old comrade Dennis and compulsive M & S shopper were having a bad day when they negotiated this deal, no problem with that, we all have off days. The problem though here is when the world woke up and said: Eh this is not on what did Sinn Fein do. It did what it knows best, it lies. It claimed that it did not know that State forces could be included in this deal to allow a small number of IRA/Loyalists who were OTR to return home. The SDLP had to provide the evidence that Sinn Fein agreed this deal years ago and only then did Sinn Fein stumble and start to back track. Suddenly the penny dropped with Gerry and he realised he could no longer walk hand in hand with Tony Blair on this one.
Let us move on to the topical issue of agents. Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness know, only too well, how and why agents operate? They operate to provide both tactical and strategic intelligence upon the target and to allow the persons charged with operating those agents to make informed decisions. Those decisions will be designed to disrupt the effective running of the target and to influence its’ own decisions into areas which are controllable and desired. In other words make the enemy do what you want it to do without it knowing because you want that target to operate for as long as possible believing it is operating to its own agenda.
Now when we all stop smirking we can get back to the serious business.
If you are a Republican one would assume rightly you would be asking the following question of the movement. How do we counter this type of activity? (Espionage – or spying for the layman).
The obvious questions a republican should have been asking over the last twenty-five years are some of the following.
Firstly, you would put yourself in your enemies mind and work out your own Vulnerable Points (VP). You would then – armed with this information – develop a sophisticated security department, whose sole job would be to analyse and expose any agents who work against your interests, just like the Brits have. It would be manned by dedicated and trustworthy individuals and rotated and at unpredictable intervals to disrupt any long-term infiltration. Republicans would know that the one unit in its army that could cause the most harm if compromised would be the Security/ Intelligence Department.
What did the IRA do under Adams/McGuinness leadership? It established a unit manned by one ex-British marine ( J J Magee) and promoted Freddie Scappaticci to his deputy.
Now either Adams and McGuinness are the two unluckiest people on this planet or it was no accident. Today everybody knows about Stake Knife (Freddy). Even Messrs Adams and McGuinness – who were initially reluctant to admit that Freddie (and others) whose roles within the Security department were as paid informers and killers. Ok, lets assume more bad luck here and give the benefit of doubt to Adams and McGuinness.
No problem. Because we have done our homework. We know what our VP are and we have worked out that it is best to change personnel at regular intervals to avoid prolonged damage if indeed the Brits managed to compromise us.
Now did that happen under Adams/McGuinness leadership? NO. What do you mean NO? Ok, so they did not regularly change these personnel but surely they did change them at some stage?
The truth is they did not change them at all until one died through cancer and the other lasted more than twenty-five years before he was retired. Well, let’s ask Mr Adams that question. Why did you retire Freddy?
Ok, lets assume that both Adams/McGuinness are trusting individuals and have been unlucky by being caught short on this one? Lets move on.
During my first tour in NI I worked for the Force Research Unit in Derry. We had a very, very nice man on our books that worked for us as an agent, he was called Frank Hegarty. The Intelligence services knew through a vast army of PIRA informers that the IRA was being supplied with modern weaponry from Libya. This information had been gathered for many months prior to the shipments.
I was only in my mid-twenties during this period. Although I had been in NI for a couple of years at this time. I had been asked a few months prior to become involved with Frankie code name 3018 on a co-handler basis. At this time Frankie was not a prolific informer, he had old links back to the IRA of today but not a lot else. He had I was told by my boss some friendship or past association with Martin McGuinness and the agent should be encouraged to become closer to McGuinness. I met this man and quickly developed warmth for him. He was a genuine working class man who like myself enjoyed the dogs, horses and women. I liked him. That said he was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I admit I never thought twice about asking Frankie to get alongside McGuinness. Frankie complied with our request and became involved with McGuinness. McGuinness vouched for this man against the advice of other senior Republicans. Astoundingly within months was allocated a massive cache of arms and munitions. Now that was lucky was it not? Sometime later this cache of arms was recovered and Frank was recovered to a place of safety. It was at the time the largest ever find in the Island of Ireland.
My Father suddenly became ill before the recovery of the arms and Frankos exposure. I requested and was offered a position within a security department close to my hometown and a rise in rank for good service was also appreciated. This was a compassionate posting. Within two weeks I had left Derry and although I returned subsequently to the FRU after my father died it was never quite the same again.
During this compassionate posting I was asked to become involved in the resettlement of two informers who had become exposed and because I had first hand knowledge of both of them I accepted with the blessing of my father who was very ill. Over a period of time L Branch was looking after both Frank Hegarty and Willie Carlin. During this period I met with both Frank and Willie on almost a daily basis.
During this period Willie Carlin received a phone call directly from Martin McGuinness. This phone call was taped and reports made to record this event. McGuinness reassured Willie Carlin that all would be well and he should return to Derry his hometown to be with his family and he (McGuinness) would personally vouch for Frank’s safety. Once the phone call had finished Carlin told me that he (McGuinness) must think I am a fucking idiot. I had to agree and we both shared a smile.
I prepared a report and handed the tapes over to my boss, Lt Col Kerr. Given Martin McGuinness’ position within the PIRA I took this to be a conspiracy to murder. Kerr concurred and to be honest I never saw sight of either the report or the tape again. A few years ago Carlin spoke to Liam Clarke at the Sunday Times and he mentioned the phone calls made by McGuinness to reassure and hopefully allow him to return home. Carlin did not know the call was taped.
I also had contact with Frank Hegarty and he too informed me that he also had contact with McGuinness. Frank, too, had also been offered a safe return by McGuinness. It is true that Frank was depressed and missed his family very much and his hometown of Derry. I was upset at the state of this man. He was depressed, but as far as I knew, he had not been to see a doctor. I had been assigned to Carlin on a 24 hr basis and only occasionally did I have contact with Frank. I think I met with Frank two or three times over a few weeks. Frank told me that McGuinness had made it clear – come home and the mess can be sorted. I told Frank to forget it; it was not going to happen.
The two people who had been assigned to baby-sit Frank were the easygoing sort and one of them was not a badged FRU member. At the time I did not really think much about this decision. Although it was a strange one. I was aware that Kerr thought Frank to be a security concern and his depression was a potential problem for the FRU. I did not for one moment think that they would allow Frank to return to Derry and if he did they would make it impossible – or at least very difficult – for the IRA to operate against him. Freddie Scappaticci, as the PIRA internal security man, gave the inside story of where, when and how Frank was to be got. What did the FRU do? Fuck all!! Why? I don’t know except I know they could have done a lot. It certainly helped Martin though! A little credibility restored. Derry to the best of my knowledge only ever caught and dealt with one real informer and that one was certainly not Paddy Flood. Why is that? Bad LUCK Martin would argue.
If you listen carefully to the Freddie tapes of his conversation at the Culloden hotel with the journalists, he neatly avoids the question in relation to who killed Franko. I wonder why? Perhaps that was one step too far even for brassed neck Freddie.
I know Frank was murdered by a British Agent (Freddy Scappaticci) accompanied or at least directed by McGuinness and others. It was not just bad luck that killed Frank he was a victim of collusion. Last year I had the privilege of speaking with his son, he is a victim and he deserves the truth, not Sinn Fein/Brits version of it…
Today, we know that Frank did return to Derry and we know from his family that McGuinness did have some part to play in his decision to meet with members of the PIRA just over the border into Donegal. Indeed there is not much we don’t know about that murder. We know the police and others including the Cook report investigated McGuinness. We know the police had prepared a case for prosecution (Operation Taurus) and were confident in their case, indeed unusually for terrorist related offences, the police had the confidence of three witnesses prepared to give evidence against Martin, that was bad luck, Eh, Martin. No problem though his luck suddenly changed for the better. We now know that in a similar way to Stormontgate the decision to proceed with the case was NOT in the public interest and it was suggested to the police in a secret document now in the public domain that McGuinness was shortly to meet with the Govt to discuss the future. The Police were told to back off McGuinness. The case was dropped. It looks like Martin’s luck had changed? Not bad except this activity is not justice, this is collusion.
I could go on about this chapter in McGuinness/Hegarty incident but in legal correspondence (i.e. when the MOD attempted to prosecute me and the Sunday Times) the Treasury solicitor makes reference to matters affecting National Security in relation to the Frank Hegarty case. Well the man’s dead, the weapons recovered, what’s left? Ah, Say no more lads, your secrets are safe with me!
In recent times individuals from the security forces, who have their own agenda, have provided certain documents to others which I have seen sight off and which if authentic – and I have no reason to doubt their authenticity – would indicate that Martin McGuinness has had more than his fair share of bad luck.
Lets just assume that Martin is a really unlucky guy, lets see if his mate Gerry is any luckier.
A security force agent Brian Nelson hated Adams with buckets of venom. He had planned to have Gerry killed and informed his handlers of his intention. His handlers did not take the high moral ground and say to their agent ‘you can not and will not do that’. Instead they did not inform Nelson that they had been informed by their command staff to frustrate this attack. Having secured the full details of the attack being planned by Nelson the handlers employed the services of other specialist units to tamper with the ammunition that was to be used in the attack and thus kid Nelson and the UDA into thinking that their attack upon Adams was just unlucky.
This incident was the very first Martin Ingram and Liam Clarke wrote for the Sunday Times in 1999. Within days the Governments legal services were threatening legal action against the paper and informing the Sunday Times that they knew the identity of their source (me). In secret, the government applied to the high court and were awarded an injunction against me revealing any state secrets. Nelson had been compromised by then and the technique of tampering with the bullet is older than my mother in law? So what state secret? Any ideas?
Adams became aware (and I am unsure how he came about this knowledge), that more than one of his family had been informing on the movement to the FRU, but decided that blood was thicker than water, and those individuals were quietly removed from Belfast for some time without the normal retribution. It is possible that his good friend Freddie Scappaticci was on holiday and the FRU had failed to offer a suitable stand-in during his absence. Maybe Mr Adams could tell us.
There are plenty within the movement who knew about the Adams’ spy ring so he would find it difficult to deny its existence and still retain any credibility. Although given Adams’ public defence of Freddie Scappaticci his credibility is not really an issue anymore.
Now either I am being slow here or the Brits missed a perfect opportunity to embarrass the RM. Maybe Adams’ luck is changing?
Agents like Dennis Donaldson and Freddie Scappaticci and others don’t stay undetected for over twenty years without having either buckets and buckets of luck or a guardian Angel. Now let me be clear, genuine agents who work towards defeating terrorism I have only admiration for. Over 99% of all FRU operations I would defend to the end. The problem that I have is when people – whether they are agents or the State – avoid taking responsibility for that small 1% of operations that are not legal and involve murder. Both McGuinness and Adams along with the British state negotiated together a deal to wipe these offences under the carpet right under everyone’s nose. Its wrong and it certainly is not in the public interest.
Now either Martin and Gerry are naïve or they are very poor negotiators or they too shop at Marks & Spencers along with Dennis. If that is the case they should acknowledge the mistakes which occurred upon their watch and step aside forthwith and their followers should give thanks for the luck bestowed on these two venerated leaders of the Provisional Republican Movement!!
Happy New Year.
The British government was last night challenged to deal with unionists who refuse to share power after the Democratic Unionists vowed not to bow to pressure to revive the North’s political institutions swiftly in 2006.
Sinn Féin general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin said British secretary of state Peter Hain knew what was needed to get the power-sharing institutions back up and running.
“Peter Hain knows that the real problem is the refusal of unionists to share power on the basis of equality. It is this reluctance that the British secretary of state needs to tackle head on.
“The British government could and, Sinn Féin have argued, should lift their unilateral suspension of the institutions tomorrow.
“This would put immediate pressure on unionists to engage. It is this sort of leadership that is required. It is not nationalists or republicans who are reluctant to move forward but unionists,” he said.
Unionists yesterday vowed to resist pressure to reinstate the North’s assembly.
Mr Hain was yesterday told to face up to the reality that unionists would not re-enter a devolved government under the conditions in place before the suspension of the Stormont assembly three years ago.
Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds was responding to an ultimatum from Mr Hain for the North’s politicians to make meaningful progress in 2006.
The Belfast North MP said: “Peter Hain has allowed Sinn Féin a veto over political developments, stymieing any form of devolution or political movement which does not involve an executive with Sinn Féin.
“After the Northern Bank robbery and other evidence that republicans simply cannot be trusted, the government and others refused to accept any proposal for local democracy or accountability because they wanted to wait on Sinn Féin. It’s time Peter Hain woke up and smelled the coffee.
“Yes, we do want devolution and local decision-making by local assembly members but the old-style executive devolution with Sinn Féin in cabinet positions is not on the horizon.”
In July, British and Irish government hopes of a political breakthrough in the North rose when the IRA announced it was standing down all its units and had ordered them to dump arms. That was followed in September by the completion of the IRA disarmament programme.
However, the Democratic Unionists and their leader Ian Paisley have insisted that confidence-building measures will have to be introduced for the unionist community before they can even contemplate going into talks to revive devolution.
Unionists have reacted cautiously to the IRA’s recent moves and have insisted they want proof that the transformation in republicanism is genuine before they will consider returning to a power-sharing executive with Sinn Féin.
Officials in London and Dublin hope a report at the end of next month by the four-member Independent Monitoring Commission will demonstrate that the IRA is sticking to its word and that this will provide a springboard for talks to revive devolution in 2006.
Mr Hain warned in his New Year’s message yesterday that there would be little point in having elections to an assembly in 2007 if there was no meaningful devolution. He said unionists needed to know that republicans were serious about their commitments to totally lawful means.
He also acknowledged that nationalists wanted to know that unionists were serious about sharing power on a genuinely equitable basis.
The British and Irish governments’ bid to revive devolution has been complicated in recent weeks by the dramatic collapse of a spying case against three men accused of intelligence gathering for republicans at Stormont in 2002 and the revelation that one of them, Sinn Féin official Denis Donaldson, was working as an agent for the British intelligence services.
Former SDLP finance minister Seán Farren said people in North were frustrated by the constant political stalemate and were enraged by a string of bad decisions, side deals and shabby deals made by British ministers.
“All political parties in the North, along with the Irish and British governments, must finally get politics working for the people again,” the North Antrim assembly member said.
‘There can be no excuses, no more stalling and no more squabbling. The people of the North deserve something better. They deserve real politics and local politics.”
The family of an 18-year-old who died after being released from Garda custody has demanded an independent inquiry.
John Maloney Jr, from Crumlin in Dublin, was arrested in May 2003 but was found unconscious shortly after being released. He died 11 days later in hospital.
His 48-year-old father, Johnny Maloney, said yesterday that those in the family wanted an independent inquiry because they could not believe that the teenager had died as a result of taking drugs or alcohol.
“If he was like that, he couldn’t have walked out of the police station,” the father said.
He said the family had been subjected to a campaign of Garda harassment for highlighting the mysterious aspects of the young man’s death.
A parking ticket was placed on the family car when relatives went to visit his grave on Christmas Day in 2003. The family home has been raided for illegal fireworks.
“It’s been very rough for the family over the last two years. You’re still fighting your case and there’s no time for grieving,” said Mr Maloney.
The family says several key questions relating to the teenager’s death remain unanswered.
John Maloney Jr was in a car with a friend in Rathfarnam at around 8am on Sunday, May 4, 2003 when they were arrested for a drugs search.
His friend was released from his cell at 9.35am without charge and was told John Maloney was being held over because of an outstanding warrant for driving without insurance.
At an inquest in Tallaght District Court last year, the sergeant on duty said John Maloney had been released shortly afterwards and walked out of the station “with a spring in his step”.
However, he was seen stumbling and falling at a nearby estate at around 9.50am by a passer-by. An ambulance was called.
He died in Tallaght Hospital on May 16 when the life-support machine was switched off.
The family tried to find out where the teenager had been that weekend. The relatives claim gardaí at Rathfarnam told them that he had not been in custody there.
Mr Maloney’s wife Sandra finally learned what had happened when a radio bulletin mentioned that a young man with a tattoo saying “Johnner” had been taken unconscious to hospital.
State pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy carried out the postmortem examination on the body. She gave evidence at the inquest that a minute amount of cocaine had been found in John Maloney’s body. There was also a large quantity of alcohol.
She said the cause of death was possibly due to a reaction from cocaine. However, the jury returned an open verdict.
Mr Maloney said his son had probably hung around with people who smoked cannabis but had never been into drugs.
“He probably would have tried it [cocaine] for the first time but no way would it have killed him,” he said.
“He was a very jolly young fellow and he always had a lot of fun.”
Independent Socialist councillor Joan Collins said the Maloneys were an ordinary working-class family who had been torn apart by the teenager’s death.
“There’s just a lot of questions that haven’t been answered, and the family are really in limbo for the last two years. First of all, the trauma of losing their son and secondly not knowing exactly what went on,” she said.
The family’s relationship with the force has been extremely poor since. The teenager’s father broke his arm in a confrontation at a Garda station shortly after the death.
Both he and one of his sons became involved in a verbal altercation with the gardaí.
Mr Maloney pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour and assault in court but the charges were dropped against his son. The father was bound over to keep the peace for a year.
He is now co-operating with the family of Terence Wheelock, who died in September, three months after being found unconscious in a cell in Dublin’s Store Street Garda station.
Both families are collecting signatures for a petition calling for independent inquiries into the two deaths.
Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness last night led tributes to former 1981 hunger striker Matt Devlin.
Mr Devlin will be laid to rest in Ardboe, Co Tyrone, this morning.
He was one of the H-block hunger strikers alongside Bobby Sands in 1981. He fasted from July 15 until September 4 that year. He died on Thursday aged 55 after a long struggle with illness.
Mid-Ulster MP Martin Mc Guinness last night expressed his sadness on hearing of the death of the former blanket man, hunger striker and Sinn Féin activist.
“It was with sorrow and sadness that I learned of the death of Tyrone republican Matt Devlin. Matt was a dedicated and committed republican who will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
“Matt was one of many Irish republicans who sacrificed much so that our children and our children’s children will enjoy equality, justice, freedom and peace in a united Ireland.
“He endured much hardship because of his ideals and political beliefs, having participated in the blanket protest in Long Kesh before embarking of a hunger strike lasting 53 days, from which it is believed he never fully recovered,” said Mr McGuinness.
The Sinn Féin MP extended his condolences to Mr Devlin’s partner Geraldine, son Matthew and stepson Declan and to his extended family and former comrades.
Mr Devlin had been living in Tang, Co Westmeath, in recent years. He contested the last local elections for Sinn Féin.
Paul Hogan, the first Sinn Féin councillor to be elected in Athlone, paid tribute to Mr Devlin.
“He was chairperson of the Seán Costello/Martin Hurson cumann in Athlone, and he will be dearly missed,” said Mr Hogan.
“He gave great guidance and leadership to Sinn Féin in Athlone and to me personally.”
Coiste na nIarchimí chairman Raymond McCartney, another former hunger striker, also paid tribute to Mr Devlin.
“He was an esteemed colleague and someone who made a huge contribution to the struggle in the H-blocks. I extend my condolences to the family,” he said.
Irish-American groups call for an open and transparent inquiry into the role of the British intelligence services in the collapse of the power-sharing Stormont assembly and for the immediate reinstatement of the Good Friday institutions
Dear Prime Minister,
IN OCTOBER of 2002 your government closed down the Northern Ireland Assembly, charging three people including Denis Donaldson, then Sinn Féin’s head of administration at Stormont, with running an “IRA spy-ring”.
On 9 December, 2005, the “Stormont spy-ring” case ended at Belfast Crown Court when your government directed that all charges be dropped.
Seven days later, Denis Donaldson admitted having served as a paid agent for the British Security forces for 20 years. The British government has not disputed his claim.
The Assembly, despite its limitations, provided the people of the North of Ireland with their first opportunity for democratic debate and self-government on a genuinely representa! tive basis since the partition of Ireland 85 years ago. It was a remarkable achievement for tolerance and fairness by all the parties involved in reaching the Good Friday Agreement.
However, successive British Secretaries of State have twice acted unilaterally to shutter the gates of Stormont and shatter the aspirations of people of all political and religious persuasions in the North of Ireland.
Each time they have cited information from the British security services of foul play by Sinn Féin. Once again, this ‘information’ has been exposed as a fabrication. In this latest debacle, the only “spy-ring” at Stormont was that orchestrated by the British security services themselves.
The implications are serious in the extreme. British officials promised devolved government; British officials have violated that promise and manipulated the fragile institutions of power-sharing. The result is that, nearly eight years af! ter the Good Friday Agreement, those institutions have been in operation for only 20 months, with direct rule from Britain for the overwhelming majority of the time.
Your government bears the responsibility for bringing down the freely and democratically elected Assembly. If this happened in any other part of the world, a British Prime Minister would be first in line to condemn such police state misconduct.
The peoples of Ireland and Britain are all stakeholders in the peace process. The United States, through President Clinton and his special envoy, Senator Mitchell, played a vital role in building cross-community confidence and securing the Good Friday Agreement.
That confidence has been betrayed and all concerned have the right to demand a thorough and transparent investigation into the conduct of those responsible. Unless British security services are operating without control and accountability, senior persons i! n your government must have known throughout that ‘Stormontgate’ was a fraud and that Donaldson was working for your own security services.
The tragic irony is that while the devolved assembly was allowed to run, it worked better than anyone had reasonably expected. With cross-community confidence now at an all- time low, your government bears the responsibility for restoring hope and breathing new life into a moribund peace process.
At the very least, all stakeholders in the peace process have the right to an open and transparent inquiry into how and why Britain’s intelligence services brought the Assembly down three years ago. Just as importantly, the British government has to show the resolve necessary by immediately reinstating the political institutions and make the Good Friday Agreement work.
Frank Durkin, Chairman, Americans for a New Irish Agenda
Ned McGinley, President, Ancient Order of Hibernians
James Cullen, Patrick Doherty, Steven McCabe, Esqs. Brehon Law Societies
Robert Linnon, President, Irish American Unity Conference
Joe Jamison, President, Irish American Labor Coalition
Paul Doris, Chairman, Irish Northern Aid Committee
Sean Cahill, Irish Parades Emergency Committee
Edmund Lynch, Lawyers’ Alliance
Julie Coleman, Secretary, Irish American Action Committee
Crime is not rampant, Gerry Adams says
There is no “rampant crime” in nationalist or republican communities, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has said.
He was replying to criticism of his party’s refusal to endorse policing in the province by US special envoy Mitchell Reiss.
He said nationalist and republicans “despite not having had a proper police service have remained law abiding”.
Mr Adams said that his party would not be “badgered” into accepting less than a “new beginning to policing”.
In a recent article for the Irish Echo newspaper in the US Mr Reiss urged Sinn Fein to sign up to policing saying he feared “another year, at least, of lawlessness in republican and nationalist communities”.
“The RUC was never a police service,” Mr Adams said.
“It was a political paramilitary militia which engaged in the most disgraceful abuse of human rights which included torture and murder.
“Those who were at the heart of this malign force – the Special Branch – are still active within the new policing service.”
The IRA said it had decommissioned in October
He said along with the British and Irish governments his party would a make “a serious effort to resurrect the government and institutions”.
“The British government has given commitments on policing including the transfer of power,” he said.
“I have made it clear that if the British honour their obligations, if the DUP agrees to share power and the model into which policing and justice will be transferred, then Sinn Fein will hold a special conference to debate this matter out fully to arrive at a democratically agreed position.”
Meanwhile, the IRA has praised its members for abandoning the armed struggle in the wake of the organisation’s historic decision to decommission its weapons.
In a New Year message the IRA said they remained committed to their republican objectives and endorsed the work of Sinn Fein.
The paramilitary group also called on all political leaders to work towards progress in 2006.
The statement – released through the republican newspaper An Phoblacht – is the first from the IRA since September when General John de Chastelain announced the organisation had put its arms beyond use.
SINN Fein leader Gerry Adams has come under government fire again – this time for displaying a lack of courtesy.
Mr Adams has failed to respond to a letter from Defence Minister Willie O’Dea who attacked a Sinn Fein website selling items featuring the term, Oglaigh na hEireann.
Mr O’Dea wrote to Mr Adams last month telling the Sinn Fein president : “There is only one Oglaigh na hEireann – it is the Irish Defence Forces.”
Mr Adams opted to ignore the letter and the lack of reaction has infuriated Mr O’Dea who has now sent another missive, demanding a response.
He reminded the Provisionals that section 16 of the Defence Acts 1954 to 1998 provided that “it shall be lawful for the Government to raise, train, equip, arm and maintain Defence Forces to be called and known as Oglaigh na hEireann or (in English) the Defence Forces”.
Sinn Fein has also been accused by Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern of “speaking out of both sides of its mouth” in relation to its attitude towards America.
He has attacked them for being “anti-America” while here but of behaving differently when leading party figures visit the US.
Mr Ahern hit out at the “anti-American rhetoric” of Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh, slamming him for “condoning attacks on US aircraft at Shannon”.
The two men clashed in the Dail recently when the minister was responding to Mr O Snodaigh’s questions on the Iraq War. The minister now says the party has tried to “deliberately play down” its anti-America stance to Irish-America.
Any posts missing from this site from yesterday can be found here:
A FORMER Moderator of the Presbyterian Church was honoured by Queen Elizabeth yesterday for his efforts to bridge the sectarian divide in the North.
The Rev Ken Newell, a minister in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast since 1976, will receive an OBE for services to community relations.
The 62-year-old Presbyterian minister has been at the forefront of efforts to heal sectarian divisions during and after the Troubles.
Working with priests in west Belfast’s Clonard Monastery, he took part in groundbreaking secret talks with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in 1990 in a bid to bolster efforts to secure a ceasefire.
His ecumenism has been fiercely criticised by some Protestant clergy, with the Rev Ian Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church particularly critical.
The queen has also awarded an OBE to Lady Ann Eames, a member of Northern Ireland’s Human Rights Commission and the wife of the Anglican Primate of all-Ireland, Archbishop Robin Eames, for services to the community.
OBEs have also been awarded to Patrick Yu, executive director of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities, and the headmaster of the Methodist College in Belfast, Thomas Wilfred Mulryne.
Veteran actress, Olivia Nash, familiar to TV viewers for her role as Ma in the BBC sitcom ‘Give My Head Peace’, will receive an MBE for her work in drama and charity.
The sole knighthood will go to one of the North’s wealthiest man, Dr Allen McClay, who founded the pharmaceutical company Galen Holdings and who is a major benefactor for Queen’s University.
Two serving councillors and one former councillor have also been included.
Democratic Unionist councillor Wilfred McFadden, who has been a member of Banbridge District Council for 33 years, will receive an MBE.
MBEs have also been awarded to the DUP Mayor of Ballymena, Tommy Nicholl, who has served on the council for 24 years, and a former founder member of the cross community Alliance Party, Susan O’Brien.
THE number of security cameras in towns is set to increase dramatically in the new year after grants were awarded to dozens of projects.
Close circuit television (CCTV) camera systems are to be installed shortly in 13 towns, including Tralee, Sligo, Waterford and Drogheda, while another 24 towns have been granted preliminary funding under a community CCTV scheme.
Justice Minister Michael McDowell, who had expressed frustration with the slow roll out of CCTV systems by the Garda, said it allowed communities to press ahead themselves.
“Many communities are willing and eager to take a proactive approach to improving the safety and well-being of their area in co-operation with the Garda.
“CCTV has proved extremely successful in the prevention and detection of crime and is part of a series of measures aimed at tackling street assaults and public disorder,” he said.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has expressed concern about CCTV’s effect on a person’s right to privacy, but there has been a strong demand for the systems in towns such as Letterkenny.
It is one of the 13 towns which will receive up to 70pc funding under the €1.5m community CCTV scheme, with the maximum grant capped at €100,000.
Around 15pc of the cost must be raised by the community group applying for the scheme and the remainder can be raised from public bodies.
Some of the towns which are installing CCTV systems, Tuam, Ballinasloe and Athy are designated as disadvantaged under the Revitalising Areas by Planning, Investment and Development (RAPID) scheme and will receive matching grants.
“Anti-social behaviour is a major challenge in RAPID areas and can affect the everyday lives of people living there. CCTV has proven to be a very effective measure in reducing anti-social behaviour and therefore improving the quality of life of our most vulnerable citizens in RAPID areas,” said Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Eamon O’Cuiv.
The Department of Justice has also given up to €5,000 in preliminary funding for CCTV systems in areas like Blackpool in Cork city, Clonmel, New Ross and Ballina. In Dublin, nine community groups in the inner city and suburbs such as Tallaght have received the grants.
SF dismisses claim that areas will fall into lawlessness unless party embraces police
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has defended his party’s position on policing after it was strongly criticised by US Special Envoy to Ireland Mitchell Reiss.
Speaking to a US-based newspaper last week, Mr Reiss suggested that nationalist areas in the North would fall into lawlessness unless Sinn Féin gave its backing to the PSNI, despite the fact that many of these areas have been self-policed since partition.
However, Gerry Adams hit back at George Bush’s man in the North by accusing him of being “soft” on unionists and ignoring loyalist violence.
In a strong rebuttal, the Sinn Féin leader said the US envoy’s remarks were offensive and claims of increased lawlessness in nationalist areas have no proof to support them.
Mr Adams also described the US envoy’s remarks as “unhelpful and partisan”.
“The fact is, the North of Ireland has the second lowest crime rate in Europe, it is less than half of the average in Britain. There is no ‘rampant crime’ in nationalist or republican communities. On the contrary, the nationalist and republican people are good, decent people who, despite not having had a proper police service, have remained law-abiding.
“Republicans and nationalists will not be badgered or forced into accepting less than the new beginning to policing promised under the Good Friday Agreement. This agreement addressed the issue of policing for a very good reason.
“The RUC was never a police service. It was a political paramilitary militia, which engaged in the most disgraceful abuse of human rights which included torture and murder.
“Those who were at the heart of this malign force – the Special Branch – are still active within the new policing service. Witness the deliberate, planned overthrow of a democratically elected government by these elements three years ago and their use of agents within Sinn Féin.”
The Sinn Féin leader said he has high hopes for progress in the new year.
“Making progress and resolving issues like policing are shared goals. We need to work together to achieve them. I hope also that President Bush’s administration returns to the successful and even-handed policies which helped create the peace process in the first place.”
By Gareth Gordon
BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent
It was a year dominated by worries over ceasefires and attempts to form power-sharing governments. No, not 2005… but 1975!
Secret Cabinet papers from that year – as well as some held over from 1974 – have just been released and they show that in the game of peace-making, not much ever changes.
IRA and Protestant churchmen held talks in Feakle, County Clare
Although violence was still the norm – 247 died during the year – there were echoes then of what would follow: an IRA ceasefire, a failed attempt at power-sharing and even efforts to cheer people up with big-name concerts at Stormont.
The on-off ceasefire grew out of talks between the IRA and Protestant churchmen in the village of Feakle, County Clare.
There were secret talks, but a memo from the permanent under secretary at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), Frank Cooper, betrayed the government’s true intentions.
“Our aim is to string the IRA along to the point where their military capacity goes soggy and where Catholic community support disappears,” he wrote.
“Our aim is to string the IRA along to the point where their military capacity goes soggy and where Catholic community support disappears”.
Frank Cooper, the then NIO permanent under secretary
Attempts at re-establishing power-sharing were no more successful.
In May, elections were held to a Constitutional Convention.
And although the IRA ceasefire broke down in the summer with the murder of four soldiers in south Armagh, inter-party talks began at Stormont under the chairmanship of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lowry.
The DUP leader, Ian Paisley, wanted the former Stormont MP and leading barrister Desmond Boal for the job, saying there should be no question of an Englishman being appointed.
The hardline Vanguard leader, Bill Craig, proposed a voluntary coalition with the SDLP.
It is an idea recently floated by the DUP in an attempt to exclude Sinn Fein from a power-sharing executive. But back then, he was not so keen.
Violence was still the norm and 247 died during 1975
Craig was roundly defeated at a meeting of the United Ulster Unionist Coalition and expelled.
Papers from the time say officials blamed Mr Paisley, claiming he was worried about splits in the Free Presbyterian Church.
Enoch Powell also got some of the blame.
Mr Paisley, however, told the NIO he would make “substantial concessions – very large concessions” if the SDLP was willing to abandon power-sharing and the “Irish Dimension”.
The then SDLP leader, Gerry Fitt, had earlier in the year pressed the government to release paramilitary prisoners following the IRA ceasefire.
Secretary of State Merlyn Rees raised the possibility of an arms amnesty with an SDLP delegation, but they told him Protestants would never hand in their weapons and said it was not the right time.
Bill Craig proposed a voluntary coalition with the SDLP
According to papers held over from 1974, because they were being used by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Mr Fitt, in a meeting with the NIO, raised the question of alleged anti-Catholic bias in elements of the RUC.
In another idea ahead of its time, a Stormont official, Michael Cudlipp, suggested a major campaign to “clean up Ulster”.
He referred to suggestions for morale-boosting events such as an Ulster Festival.
Harold Wilson was the UK prime minister in 1975
He wrote: “For example, why not the big variety stars – Morcambe and Wise? Frank Sinatra? And the equivalent in cultural personalities.
“They could provide concerts and we would try to persuade them to give their services free as part of an attempt to boost Ulster.”
He suggested these events might be hosted “on the lawns at Stormont”.
We may have to wait many more years to know whether Mo Mowlam was aware of this failed idea before succeeding in persuading the likes of Pavarotti and Rod Stewart to perform the very same function.
30 December 2005 21:33
The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Novak, has accused the United States of using cruel methods to force feed hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay.
He was speaking after the US military revealed that there were now at least 80 detainees refusing meals, the number taking part in the five-month-old protest having more than doubled since Sunday.
Mr Novak said visiting lawyers had made plausible and well-substantiated allegations of cruelty.
Lawyers for some of the prisoners say they are protesting against their conditions and lack of legal rights.
Officials at Guantanamo Bay say doctors are force-feeding 32 of the hunger strikers with plastic tubes.
A powerful new biography of Bobby Sands, penned by a Belfast academic, has gone on sale on amazon.com.
Nothing But An Unfinished Song: Bobby Sands, The Irish Hunger Striker Who Ignited A Generation is the first comprehensive study into the life of the republican icon who died on hunger strike in 1981.
Using meticulous research carried out over many years, original interviews and published material, author Denis O’Hearn paints a picture of an IRA volunteer who was both enigmatic and charismatic.
Born in New Mexico, USA, of Irish and Native Alaskan ancestry, Denis O’Hearn has been a leading light in economic and community regeneration efforts in Belfast for the past three decades. He is now a professor of social and economic change at Queen’s University Belfast.
Nothing But An Unfinished Song charts Bobby Sands’ early years in Rathcoole through his early involvement with the IRA, his politicisation in the Cages of Long Kesh and then his release and re-capture.
“The bulk of the book deals with his prison ordeal on the blanket in the H-Blocks and his decision to lead the hunger strike which caused his death in May 1981.
Say publishers Nation Books: “Bobby Sands’ remarkable life and death have made him the Irish Che Guevara. He is an enduring figure of resistance whose life has inspired millions around the world. But until the publication of Nothing But An Unfinished Song, no book has adequately explored the motivation of the hunger strikers, nor recreated this period of history from within the prison cell.”
Among those interviewed in the book are former prison comrades of Bobby Sands as well as prison warders, priests and politicians caught up in the hunger strike of 1981. The author received the co-operation of the Bobby Sands Trust and he thanks the hunger striker’s sister Marcella for her help with the book.
“To the Sands family I send deepest regrets,” says Denis O’ Hearn in his acknowledgments.
“None of us can begin to know the deep hurt you have experienced. I hope you find peace and that in some way it will help for Bobby’s story to be finally told.”
Nothing But An Unfinished Song is currently on sale in the US and on amazon.com, but will not be released in Ireland until March 1, the 25th anniversary of the start of Bobby Sands’ fateful hunger strike.
The book is available from amazon.com at a price of $18.48 (€15.60, £10.70) plus postage.
30 December 2005
Matt Devlin at age 31 years – photo from Bobby Sands Trust
THE death took place in Belfast yesterday of Matt Devlin, one of the H-Block hunger strikers alongside Bobby Sands in 1981.
Tyrone man Mr Devlin, who was 55, had been living in Tang, Co Westmeath, in recent years and contested the last local elections for the Sinn Fein party.
In 1981 he went on hunger strike for 52 days from July 15 to September 4 during one of modern Ireland’s most critical periods.
Yesterday Paul Hogan, the first Sinn Fein councillor to be elected in Athlone, paid tribute to Mr Devlin.
“He was chairperson of the Sean Costello/Martin Hurson Cumann in Athlone, and he will be dearly missed,” he said.
“He gave great guidance and leadership to Sinn Fein in Athlone, and to me personally.”
Mr Devlin will be laid to rest in Ardboe, Co Tyrone, tomorrow morning. He is survived by his partner Geraldine, and two sons Declan and Matthew.
By Deborah McAleese
30 December 2005
The head of Northern Ireland’s Human Rights Commission has claimed she believes she is finally winning over unionist support, after months of hostility.
However, unionists say that former Womens Coalition leader Monica McWilliams still has a long way to go to gain the full backing of their community.
There was concern among unionists over the appointment of Dr McWilliams as chief commissioner in June.
They claimed that she was “hostile” to their position and said that her appointment was a clear sign of the government’s “disregard for the view of unionists in the province.”
However, Dr McWilliams last night said that unionist politicians are becoming more supportive, particularly following the Commission’s opposition to the controversial Offences Bill dealing with ‘On-the- Runs.’
The Commission regards the legislation in its present form as incompatible with international human rights standards and called for it to be scrapped.
“The Bill raises a number of human rights concerns in respect of effective investigation of deaths, the rights of victims in the process, the right to a fair trial, freedom from arbitrariness of criminal justice system and the independence of the judiciary from the executive,” said Dr McWilliams.
She added: “Unionist support has gradually been increasing. I hope the concerns some people initially had have been alleviated now they have the opportunity to see our work.”
75% of buildings contain deadly dust
By Kathryn Torney
30 December 2005
Almost 1,000 schools across Northern Ireland contain potentially deadly asbestos, it can be revealed today.
The material is currently being “safely managed” in 775 primary schools and 190 post-primary/special schools, according to information released by the Department of Education to the Belfast Telegraph.
The affected schools represent 75% of the total number of schools in the province.
Advice from the Health and Safety Executive is that where it is not likely to be disturbed and is not in a dangerous condition, asbestos containing materials should be left in place.
However, action has been taken in some of the schools where immediate steps were necessary to remove asbestos found during surveys across the entire schools’ sector.
A department spokeswoman said that all of the 965 schools have an “asbestos management plan” in place to safely manage the asbestos, so that it does not pose a health and safety risk, until it can be removed.
“All necessary work to ensure asbestos containing material does not pose a health and safety risk has been carried out,” she added.
Fern Turner, regional official for the National Association of Head Teachers, said she was “very shocked” by the number of affected schools.
She added that she knew of an Ulster school where asbestos dust fell into the school corridor when a ceiling collapsed during building work.
“The principal, parents and NAHT were all up in arms when it was confirmed that it was asbestos,” she said.
“The possible impact of this on the children, who were in their classrooms at the time, will not be known for years.
“Any work that needs to be done on a school which contains asbestos should take place during the school holidays and the school should then be completely and totally cleared of any dust.”
The DUP’s Sammy Wilson said: “A lot of the asbestos probably is inert, but the problem is when builders come in to do work there is no guarantee that it will not be disturbed.
“It would be impractical for it all to be removed but I do think that all of the education and library boards should have some kind of inventory detailing which schools contain asbestos,” he said.
“This would mean that if any contractor goes in to do work they can be warned and will make sure that the place is properly sealed so that youngsters are protected.”
Asbestos is hazardous when damaged, disturbed or dismantled and is linked to 3,000 deaths in the UK each year.