You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2006.

IAIS

01/31/06 09:16 EST

The Democratic Unionists were accused today of trying to hollow out power sharing from the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty made the claim after the DUP published “take it or leave it” plans for phased devolution.

Nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan also criticised the document, insisting his party would not tolerate any dilution of the Agreement.

In the 16-page “Facing Reality” document, the Rev Ian Paisley`s DUP ruled out the prospect of power sharing with Sinn Fein in the foreseeable future.

But it put forward a number of low, mid and high-range models in which the Assembly could function short of a power sharing executive.

These included:

:: A shadow assembly;

:: A European Union-style model with British Government ministers operating a council of ministers taking decisions and appearing before Assembly committees.

Legislation on devolved matters would require both the approval of the ministers and the Assembly before going to Westminster;

:: Full-blown devolution without the formation of an executive but with a corporate assembly holding permanent secretaries, the most senior civil servants in Government departments, to account.

Following the document`s publication, Sinn Fein MP Mr Doherty called on the British and Irish Governments to stand by the Agreement and the principle of power sharing.

“The Good Friday Agreement is an international treaty passed overwhelmingly by the Irish people in referendum,” the West Tyrone MP said.

“The two governments have an obligation to press ahead with its full implementation in the time ahead. The DUP cannot be allowed to veto this process. The proposals published today by the DUP are a challenge to the two governments. They are an attempt to subvert the political process and delay the process of change.”

“The two governments have an obligation to stand by the Agreement and its power-sharing core. This includes the power-sharing executive. Sinn Fein will not countenance a move away from the fundamental principles which underpin the Good Friday Agreement.”

SDLP leader Mr Durkan said the DUP needed to face the reality that they have no right to write off the Good Friday Agreement and would not succeed in their attempts to do so.

“The DUP`s proposals are about `setting aside` executive devolution,” the Foyle MP said.

“But it is at the heart of the Agreement and the SDLP will never accept its dilution. Nor will we agree with DUP proposals to allow direct rulers a continuing role. Even if other parties are ambiguous, we are clear that there is no acceptable level of direct rule.”

“Finally, not once in what the DUP has said today have they mentioned the North-South agenda, yet it too is a fundamental part of the Agreement and an integral part of what the SDLP has always stood for. DUP papers which do not address North-South simply don`t address political reality.”

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Sinn Féin

Published: 31 January, 2006

Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Arthur Morgan has welcomed the fact that former Louth Fine Gael TD, Brendan McGahon has finally admitted that he was wrong to blame the IRA for the killing of Seamus Ludlow at the time and has now accepted that loyalists were responsible. Deputy Morgan was responding to McGahon’s appearance at the sub-committee on the Barron Report in Leinster House today.

However, Deputy Morgan didn’t accept the former deputy’s partial amnesia in relation where he got his original information. Deputy Morgan also described as “incredible” comments made by McGahon that loyalists couldn’t have been suspected of the killing because he said they hadn’t been active in the area.

Deputy Morgan said, “While I would like to welcome the fact that former Fine Gael TD Brendan McGahon had finally admitted that he was wrong to blame the IRA for the killing of Seamus Ludlow by loyalists I find it hard to believe that he can’t remember what member of the Gardai gave him the information.

“More disturbing however was Brendan McGahon’s suggestion at today’s meeting that loyalists couldn’t have been suspected of the killing at the time because he says they weren’t active in the area at the time. This is an incredible statement given the fact that loyalists had been involved in the bombing of Dundalk in December 1975, Castleblayney in March 1976 and in other bombings in Counties Monaghan and Cavan in the preceding years. The reality is that Brendan McGahon tried to use the killing of Seamus Ludlow to advance his own particular anti-republican agenda regardless of the hurt and pain it caused the Ludlow family.” ENDS

RTÉ

31 January 2006 12:33

The Northern Secretary, Peter Hain, has said the economies of Northern Ireland and the Republic must forge closer links if they are to prosper in an increasingly competitive world marketplace.

In a speech at Stormont, Mr Hain said the island of Ireland faced common external threats from globalisation.

Mr Hain also said the British government is to order a comprehensive review of how tax money is spent in Northern Ireland to ensure funds are not wasted.

He said the review across all government departments would examine every spending programme.

BBC


The DUP has published its devolution proposals

The DUP has published details of its proposals to restore the NI assembly.

The Facing Reality document rules out executive power-sharing with Sinn Fein in the foreseeable future and was given to the prime minister last week.

The DUP does not want an immediate return to devolution in which local politicians take up ministerial posts in an executive.

It wants the assembly and committees back in a form of rolling devolution initially based on an EU model.

In its 16-page document, the DUP suggests reversing suspension – but only in part.

It said its two-step approach to devolution was a “take it or leave it” option.

The DUP said a return to executive power-sharing must have cross-community support.

In the meantime, a restored assembly could involve direct rule ministers taking part in a council or college of ministers and making decisions alongside the assembly.

Legislation

Legislation on devolved matters would require both the approval of the ministers and the assembly before going to Westminster.

The assembly might also be invited to agree the budget.

In time, the DUP suggests, the assembly could be given powers to legislate.

The committees could be given a role in shadowing departments with the direct rule minister occasionally attending committee meetings.

The party said the best model could be fleshed out in talks.

Sinn Fein vice-president Pat Doherty accused the DUP of trying to remove power-sharing from the Good Friday Agreement.

“The Good Friday Agreement is an international treaty passed overwhelmingly by the Irish people in referendum,” the West Tyrone MP said.

“The two governments have an obligation to press ahead with its full implementation in the time ahead. The DUP cannot be allowed to veto this process.”

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the DUP “had no right to write off the Good Friday Agreement”.

“The DUP’s proposals are about setting aside executive devolution,” he said.

“But it is at the heart of the Agreement and the SDLP will never accept its dilution.”

Sinn Féin

Published: 31 January, 2006

Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Arthur Morgan has welcomed the fact that former Louth Fine Gael TD, Brendan McGahon has finally admitted that he was wrong to blame the IRA for the killing of Seamus Ludlow at the time and has now accepted that loyalists were responsible. Deputy Morgan was responding to McGahon’s appearance at the sub-committee on the Barron Report in Leinster House today.

However, Deputy Morgan didn’t accept the former deputy’s partial amnesia in relation where he got his original information. Deputy Morgan also described as “incredible” comments made by McGahon that loyalists couldn’t have been suspected of the killing because he said they hadn’t been active in the area.

Deputy Morgan said, “While I would like to welcome the fact that former Fine Gael TD Brendan McGahon had finally admitted that he was wrong to blame the IRA for the killing of Seamus Ludlow by loyalists I find it hard to believe that he can’t remember what member of the Gardai gave him the information.

“More disturbing however was Brendan McGahon’s suggestion at today’s meeting that loyalists couldn’t have been suspected of the killing at the time because he says they weren’t active in the area at the time. This is an incredible statement given the fact that loyalists had been involved in the bombing of Dundalk in December 1975, Castleblayney in March 1976 and in other bombings in Counties Monaghan and Cavan in the preceding years. The reality is that Brendan McGahon tried to use the killing of Seamus Ludlow to advance his own particular anti-republican agenda regardless of the hurt and pain it caused the Ludlow family.” ENDS

RTÉ

31 January 2006 12:33

The Northern Secretary, Peter Hain, has said the economies of Northern Ireland and the Republic must forge closer links if they are to prosper in an increasingly competitive world marketplace.

In a speech at Stormont, Mr Hain said the island of Ireland faced common external threats from globalisation.

Mr Hain also said the British government is to order a comprehensive review of how tax money is spent in Northern Ireland to ensure funds are not wasted.

He said the review across all government departments would examine every spending programme.

BBC


The DUP has published its devolution proposals

The DUP has published details of its proposals to restore the NI assembly.

The Facing Reality document rules out executive power-sharing with Sinn Fein in the foreseeable future and was given to the prime minister last week.

The DUP does not want an immediate return to devolution in which local politicians take up ministerial posts in an executive.

It wants the assembly and committees back in a form of rolling devolution initially based on an EU model.

In its 16-page document, the DUP suggests reversing suspension – but only in part.

It said its two-step approach to devolution was a “take it or leave it” option.

The DUP said a return to executive power-sharing must have cross-community support.

In the meantime, a restored assembly could involve direct rule ministers taking part in a council or college of ministers and making decisions alongside the assembly.

Legislation

Legislation on devolved matters would require both the approval of the ministers and the assembly before going to Westminster.

The assembly might also be invited to agree the budget.

In time, the DUP suggests, the assembly could be given powers to legislate.

The committees could be given a role in shadowing departments with the direct rule minister occasionally attending committee meetings.

The party said the best model could be fleshed out in talks.

Sinn Fein vice-president Pat Doherty accused the DUP of trying to remove power-sharing from the Good Friday Agreement.

“The Good Friday Agreement is an international treaty passed overwhelmingly by the Irish people in referendum,” the West Tyrone MP said.

“The two governments have an obligation to press ahead with its full implementation in the time ahead. The DUP cannot be allowed to veto this process.”

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the DUP “had no right to write off the Good Friday Agreement”.

“The DUP’s proposals are about setting aside executive devolution,” he said.

“But it is at the heart of the Agreement and the SDLP will never accept its dilution.”

Daily Ireland

Daily Ireland Editorial
Editor: Colin O’Carroll
31/01/2006

When asked what he thought of western civilisation, Gandhi is reported to have said that he reckoned it would be a good idea. That retort comes to mind as fair-minded MPs in the British House of Commons pledge to make the British Army criminal-free.
The initiative led by SDLP leader Mark Durkan and backed by the Pat Finucane Centre is a worthy one indeed and it’s to be hoped that the early day motion is carried.
However, the motion can’t be allowed to succeed because without soldiers willing to break every law in Christendom in order to impose the dictates of Parliament, the British Army couldn’t function.
In fact, the British enjoy the dubious honour of having perpetrated more brutality and torture on their colonial subjects than any other western power. While for some the word Empire may conjure up images of lords in ermine and knights in garter, in the developing world the word is synonomous with rapine and slaughter. All carried out by soldiers of the Crown.
In her just-published, devastating account of Britain’s colonial misdeeds in Kenya 50 years ago, “Britain’s Gulag”, author Caroline Elkins spells out in sickening detail the lengths to which the British Army went in order to supress the Mau Mau uprising. British Army-led forces were responsible for countless massacres
In the Kandara outrage, “the British security forces just went crazy”. “They stripped the local people naked and started beating them. Some were led off and shot; others were executed right there.”
The ‘UDR’ of the era, the Home Guard, were well schooled in British Army tactics.
“The Home Guard posts were the epicentres of torture,” writes Elkins. “If a woman was suspected of harbouring Mau Mau sympathies she could be sent to the Home Guard post. After a thorough beating outside of her hut, a woman was taken to the ndaki. The ndaki was about four foot deep, halfway filled with water…forcing those inside to fumble their way around in the darkness…there were generally a dozen or more captives inside. They often huddled together for warmth and for protection against the vermin and snakes that infested the cell….Sometimes the Home Guards took the initiative, squeezing and mutilating women’s breasts with pliers, pushing vermin and rifles into their vaginas, and forcing them to run naked while carrying buckets of excrement on their heads. The women were also raped, oftentimes repeatedly by several men. Resistance could lead to summary execution.”
Post-conflict, there was to be no public accounting in Britain, adds Elkins, for the “torture, murder and starvation of men, women and children. Indeed there was a great deal of sympathy, if not admiration for the professional soldiers”.
Criminals in the British Army? Perish the thought.

Daily Ireland

Motion calling for British army criminals to be kicked out of the military has received cross-party support from 23 MPs

By Connla Young
31/01/2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe mother of murdered Belfast teenager Peter McBride has welcomed a new bid to have convicted criminals kicked out of the British army.
Jean McBride comments came after it emerged that that United States Consul General in Belfast Dean Pittman has agreed to meet her for a second time to discuss her continuing campaign for justice for her son who was gunned down by the British army in September 1992.
The teenager’s killers, Scots Guardsmen James Fisher and Mark Wright, were both readmitted to the British army on their early release from prison in 1998.
An early day motion drawn up by SDLP leader Mark Durkan has now received cross-party support from 23 members of the British parliament.
The motion calls for the British “government to affirm that human rights abusers, killers, rapists and bullies are permanently excluded from military service.”
The motion has received the support of British-based MPs who work closely with the families of young soldiers who have died in mysterious circumstances in British army bases across Britain.
Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Mrs McBride vowed to continue her fight to have the men who murdered her son removed from the British army.
“We welcome this latest intervention and the support of other families who are also campaiging against the sheer arrogance of the Minister of Defence. We see from the cross-party support that we have almost all the parties represented in parliament signing up to this petition.
“I have written again to Tony Blair and asked him for a meeting and this will boost our campaign. It remains to bee seen if Tony Blair has the courage to face me across the table and justify the retention of Wright and Fisher.”
Mrs McBride will raise her family’s concerns over the relationship between of former British army officer Tim Spicer and the US government when she meets US Consul General Dean Pittman in the coming weeks.
Spicer was the offcer in charge of Wright and Fisher when they murdered Peter McBride.
Mr Durkan yesterday spoke of the need for the British army to protect the public.
“Our motion demands that all those convicted of murder, rape, torture and other serious crimes, are expelled from the army.
“Armies are meant to protect the public, that’s why they shouldn’t have serving in their ranks those who have murdered, raped and tortured. It is as simple as that.
“As the next step in our campaign we will be proposing amendments to the Armed Forces Bill currently going through Westminster to make the principles behind our campaign requirements of law.
“If the British government are at all serious about human rights we hope that they will get serious about this campaign and back our amendments and early day motion.”
British MPs supporting the motion include Peter Bottomley, Glenda Jackson and Jeremy Corbyn.

Irish Independent

**Via Newshound

Ivan McMichael

AN ex-policeman was fined €600 yesterday for driving a police Land Rover at women and children after rioting broke out at an Orange march.

Alan Alexander Leckey (40), who is no longer in the PSNI, was also banned from driving for 18 months after he was found guilty of dangerous driving.

At Belfast County Court, Judge Piers Grant described Leckey’s driving on June 29, 2002, at Springfield Road, West Belfast, as “disgraceful”. The judge said he had put at risk women and children when he drove onto waste ground, causing them to scatter.

“It is with some considerable regret that I conclude that the driving has all the appearance of an act designed to frighten, a parting shot to those left behind,” the judge said.

The fine and disqualification was the same penalty imposed when Leckey was convicted in 2003. He then appealed the sentence.

Newshound

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

The IMC’s independence is being challenged in the courts with a claim that a company connected to one of its members receives payments from the PSNI.

The Independent Monitoring Commission is expected to report this week on whether the IRA remains involved in paramilitary or criminal activity.

However, High Court proceedings in London, issued on behalf of Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy, argue that it cannot be seen as independent because of former Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve’s position as director of the John Grieve Centre for Policing the Community Safety.

Legal submissions obtained by The Irish News state: “The John Grieve Centre has confirmed that it receives payments from the PSNI for PSNI delegates who attend Commissioner Grieve’s centre.

“The John Grieve Centre also confirm that PSNI officers deliver lectures to seminars and conferences organised by, and for the benefit of [the centre].”

Mr Murphy’s lawyers argue that any direct or indirect financial relationship between Mr Grieve and the PSNI renders the IMC incapable of delivering “independent or fair” reports.

There is no suggestion that Mr Grieve has acted illegally or improperly.

An IMC spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing court case, but reiterated the commissioners’ public statement on their independence in March 2004.

“We wish to make clear now, for the avoidance of any doubt, that we are an independent commission,” the four-member body stated.

“None of us would have accepted appointment as a commissioner or would continue in office if that were not the case. Nor would we continue if we felt that the governments were denying us access to the information we need.

“All the views we express will be ours and ours alone, reached after careful consideration of the material we have received.”

January 31, 2006
________________

This article appeared first in the January 30, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

Belfast Telegraph

By Brian Walker
31 January 2006

A major demonstration outside Westminster is expected to greet a final Commons vote tonight on a controversial new law banning religious hatred.

The Government is moving to close a gap in the law to shield Muslim belief from hateful attack, as Muslims of many races are not covered by a racial hatred law against single races.

But protesters outside the Commons and about 30 Labour MPs and the DUP within, claim the Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill stifles free speech including a robust defence of religion.

The DUP’s Nigel Dodds, opposing the bill, declared the Government’s treatment of the issue “despicable and dictatorial.”

“The threat of a maximum prison sentence of seven years simply for stating your religious belief could be enough to curtail preachers and others from saying anything at all,” he said.

There was earlier speculation that years ago the young Ian Paisley could have been prosecuted under such a law for some of his fiery sermons attacking Catholicism.

But the Paisley issue was avoided today by Home Office Minister Paul Goggins in an interview on the Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The key thing is not debate or strong language but where people set out with the intention of stirring up religious hatred,” said Mr Goggins, when asked if Mr Paisley could have been prosecuted.

MPs are voting to strike down Lords’ amendments restricting religious hatred to threatening words and behaviour, rather than a wider definition of insults and abuse.

Under Government changes, a person “reckless as to whether religious hatred would be stirred up” could also be prosecuted.

An unlikely alliance of humanists, Christian evangelicals and some Muslims have united to oppose the bill.

Comedy star Rowan Atkinson, a leading campaigner, said it was unlikely he would be prosecuted because he was too well known, but he was “deeply concerned for all performers and entertainers, because the climate in which we work will be very different if the Government gets its way in the House of Commons today.”

Daily Ireland

Daily Ireland Editorial
Editor: Colin O’Carroll
31/01/2006

When asked what he thought of western civilisation, Gandhi is reported to have said that he reckoned it would be a good idea. That retort comes to mind as fair-minded MPs in the British House of Commons pledge to make the British Army criminal-free.
The initiative led by SDLP leader Mark Durkan and backed by the Pat Finucane Centre is a worthy one indeed and it’s to be hoped that the early day motion is carried.
However, the motion can’t be allowed to succeed because without soldiers willing to break every law in Christendom in order to impose the dictates of Parliament, the British Army couldn’t function.
In fact, the British enjoy the dubious honour of having perpetrated more brutality and torture on their colonial subjects than any other western power. While for some the word Empire may conjure up images of lords in ermine and knights in garter, in the developing world the word is synonomous with rapine and slaughter. All carried out by soldiers of the Crown.
In her just-published, devastating account of Britain’s colonial misdeeds in Kenya 50 years ago, “Britain’s Gulag”, author Caroline Elkins spells out in sickening detail the lengths to which the British Army went in order to supress the Mau Mau uprising. British Army-led forces were responsible for countless massacres
In the Kandara outrage, “the British security forces just went crazy”. “They stripped the local people naked and started beating them. Some were led off and shot; others were executed right there.”
The ‘UDR’ of the era, the Home Guard, were well schooled in British Army tactics.
“The Home Guard posts were the epicentres of torture,” writes Elkins. “If a woman was suspected of harbouring Mau Mau sympathies she could be sent to the Home Guard post. After a thorough beating outside of her hut, a woman was taken to the ndaki. The ndaki was about four foot deep, halfway filled with water…forcing those inside to fumble their way around in the darkness…there were generally a dozen or more captives inside. They often huddled together for warmth and for protection against the vermin and snakes that infested the cell….Sometimes the Home Guards took the initiative, squeezing and mutilating women’s breasts with pliers, pushing vermin and rifles into their vaginas, and forcing them to run naked while carrying buckets of excrement on their heads. The women were also raped, oftentimes repeatedly by several men. Resistance could lead to summary execution.”
Post-conflict, there was to be no public accounting in Britain, adds Elkins, for the “torture, murder and starvation of men, women and children. Indeed there was a great deal of sympathy, if not admiration for the professional soldiers”.
Criminals in the British Army? Perish the thought.

BreakingNews.ie

31/01/2006 – 11:17:09

IRA murder victim Robert McCartney’s family today begged the driver of a mystery blue car to help end their year of torment and bring his killers to justice.

As police made a new appeal over the vehicle they believe was stopped at traffic lights near the scene of the Belfast city centre stabbing, the dead man’s sister Paula insisted the pain and trauma would not ease until the gang responsible were all caught.

On the first anniversary of the father-of-two’s killing, she said: “Our grieving process has been hindered by the fact that the people who took his life for no reason at all have not been held to account.

“We also believe if we had some closure by these people being brought to justice it would help in the grieving process of this family.

“We are practically begging people, please if they have any information at all, release it and put this family out of the misery they have been suffering for a year.

“The blue car is very significant. We would appeal directly to the person or persons in that car to please search their hearts and tell what they know.”

BreakingNews.ie

31/01/2006 – 12:18:09

Two men arrested during a Special Branch investigation into the activities of dissident republicans pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court today to explosives and ammunition offences.

Francis Mc Geown (aged 64), of Cedarwood Park, Cox’s Demesne, Dundalk and Pascal Burke (aged 42), of Marrowbone Lane, Dublin 8 admitted the unlawful possession of an explosive substance – 0.776 kilogrammes of black powder consisting of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur – at Smithstown, Julianstown, Co Meath on January 21, 2005.

They also both pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of 100 rounds of ammunition on the same date.

Prosecuting counsel Mr Tom O’ Connell SC told the court that charges against both men of membership of an unlawful organisation could be struck out.

A third man , Ciaran Dunne (aged 23), of Elmbrook Avenue, Lucan, Co Dublin pleaded guilty earlier this month to the same charges.

All three men were remanded for sentencing at a later date.

Daily Ireland

Motion calling for British army criminals to be kicked out of the military has received cross-party support from 23 MPs

By Connla Young
31/01/2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe mother of murdered Belfast teenager Peter McBride has welcomed a new bid to have convicted criminals kicked out of the British army.
Jean McBride comments came after it emerged that that United States Consul General in Belfast Dean Pittman has agreed to meet her for a second time to discuss her continuing campaign for justice for her son who was gunned down by the British army in September 1992.
The teenager’s killers, Scots Guardsmen James Fisher and Mark Wright, were both readmitted to the British army on their early release from prison in 1998.
An early day motion drawn up by SDLP leader Mark Durkan has now received cross-party support from 23 members of the British parliament.
The motion calls for the British “government to affirm that human rights abusers, killers, rapists and bullies are permanently excluded from military service.”
The motion has received the support of British-based MPs who work closely with the families of young soldiers who have died in mysterious circumstances in British army bases across Britain.
Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Mrs McBride vowed to continue her fight to have the men who murdered her son removed from the British army.
“We welcome this latest intervention and the support of other families who are also campaiging against the sheer arrogance of the Minister of Defence. We see from the cross-party support that we have almost all the parties represented in parliament signing up to this petition.
“I have written again to Tony Blair and asked him for a meeting and this will boost our campaign. It remains to bee seen if Tony Blair has the courage to face me across the table and justify the retention of Wright and Fisher.”
Mrs McBride will raise her family’s concerns over the relationship between of former British army officer Tim Spicer and the US government when she meets US Consul General Dean Pittman in the coming weeks.
Spicer was the offcer in charge of Wright and Fisher when they murdered Peter McBride.
Mr Durkan yesterday spoke of the need for the British army to protect the public.
“Our motion demands that all those convicted of murder, rape, torture and other serious crimes, are expelled from the army.
“Armies are meant to protect the public, that’s why they shouldn’t have serving in their ranks those who have murdered, raped and tortured. It is as simple as that.
“As the next step in our campaign we will be proposing amendments to the Armed Forces Bill currently going through Westminster to make the principles behind our campaign requirements of law.
“If the British government are at all serious about human rights we hope that they will get serious about this campaign and back our amendments and early day motion.”
British MPs supporting the motion include Peter Bottomley, Glenda Jackson and Jeremy Corbyn.

Irish Independent

**Via Newshound

Ivan McMichael

AN ex-policeman was fined €600 yesterday for driving a police Land Rover at women and children after rioting broke out at an Orange march.

Alan Alexander Leckey (40), who is no longer in the PSNI, was also banned from driving for 18 months after he was found guilty of dangerous driving.

At Belfast County Court, Judge Piers Grant described Leckey’s driving on June 29, 2002, at Springfield Road, West Belfast, as “disgraceful”. The judge said he had put at risk women and children when he drove onto waste ground, causing them to scatter.

“It is with some considerable regret that I conclude that the driving has all the appearance of an act designed to frighten, a parting shot to those left behind,” the judge said.

The fine and disqualification was the same penalty imposed when Leckey was convicted in 2003. He then appealed the sentence.

Newshound

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

The IMC’s independence is being challenged in the courts with a claim that a company connected to one of its members receives payments from the PSNI.

The Independent Monitoring Commission is expected to report this week on whether the IRA remains involved in paramilitary or criminal activity.

However, High Court proceedings in London, issued on behalf of Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy, argue that it cannot be seen as independent because of former Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve’s position as director of the John Grieve Centre for Policing the Community Safety.

Legal submissions obtained by The Irish News state: “The John Grieve Centre has confirmed that it receives payments from the PSNI for PSNI delegates who attend Commissioner Grieve’s centre.

“The John Grieve Centre also confirm that PSNI officers deliver lectures to seminars and conferences organised by, and for the benefit of [the centre].”

Mr Murphy’s lawyers argue that any direct or indirect financial relationship between Mr Grieve and the PSNI renders the IMC incapable of delivering “independent or fair” reports.

There is no suggestion that Mr Grieve has acted illegally or improperly.

An IMC spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing court case, but reiterated the commissioners’ public statement on their independence in March 2004.

“We wish to make clear now, for the avoidance of any doubt, that we are an independent commission,” the four-member body stated.

“None of us would have accepted appointment as a commissioner or would continue in office if that were not the case. Nor would we continue if we felt that the governments were denying us access to the information we need.

“All the views we express will be ours and ours alone, reached after careful consideration of the material we have received.”

January 31, 2006
________________

This article appeared first in the January 30, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

Belfast Telegraph

By Brian Walker
31 January 2006

A major demonstration outside Westminster is expected to greet a final Commons vote tonight on a controversial new law banning religious hatred.

The Government is moving to close a gap in the law to shield Muslim belief from hateful attack, as Muslims of many races are not covered by a racial hatred law against single races.

But protesters outside the Commons and about 30 Labour MPs and the DUP within, claim the Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill stifles free speech including a robust defence of religion.

The DUP’s Nigel Dodds, opposing the bill, declared the Government’s treatment of the issue “despicable and dictatorial.”

“The threat of a maximum prison sentence of seven years simply for stating your religious belief could be enough to curtail preachers and others from saying anything at all,” he said.

There was earlier speculation that years ago the young Ian Paisley could have been prosecuted under such a law for some of his fiery sermons attacking Catholicism.

But the Paisley issue was avoided today by Home Office Minister Paul Goggins in an interview on the Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The key thing is not debate or strong language but where people set out with the intention of stirring up religious hatred,” said Mr Goggins, when asked if Mr Paisley could have been prosecuted.

MPs are voting to strike down Lords’ amendments restricting religious hatred to threatening words and behaviour, rather than a wider definition of insults and abuse.

Under Government changes, a person “reckless as to whether religious hatred would be stirred up” could also be prosecuted.

An unlikely alliance of humanists, Christian evangelicals and some Muslims have united to oppose the bill.

Comedy star Rowan Atkinson, a leading campaigner, said it was unlikely he would be prosecuted because he was too well known, but he was “deeply concerned for all performers and entertainers, because the climate in which we work will be very different if the Government gets its way in the House of Commons today.”

BreakingNews.ie

31/01/2006 – 11:17:09

IRA murder victim Robert McCartney’s family today begged the driver of a mystery blue car to help end their year of torment and bring his killers to justice.

As police made a new appeal over the vehicle they believe was stopped at traffic lights near the scene of the Belfast city centre stabbing, the dead man’s sister Paula insisted the pain and trauma would not ease until the gang responsible were all caught.

On the first anniversary of the father-of-two’s killing, she said: “Our grieving process has been hindered by the fact that the people who took his life for no reason at all have not been held to account.

“We also believe if we had some closure by these people being brought to justice it would help in the grieving process of this family.

“We are practically begging people, please if they have any information at all, release it and put this family out of the misery they have been suffering for a year.

“The blue car is very significant. We would appeal directly to the person or persons in that car to please search their hearts and tell what they know.”

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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For March-Sept. 2007 click here:

March - Sept 2007

All other months and years are below.

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