You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2006.

IAIS

03/31/06 13:29 EST

The Irish and British governments were today accused of allowing themselves to be bullied by the Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists into diluting the Belfast Agreement.

The allegation was made by Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness as officials in London and Dublin finalised the roadmap for restoring devolution in Northern Ireland which will be unveiled by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern next Thursday.

It is believed the two leaders will confirm during their visit to Armagh the Assembly will be recalled in May.

However the parties are expected to be given a November 24th deadline to agree to the formation of a devolved government.

But with speculation mounting that the Assembly will be given some kind of role, the governments were warned today by Mr McGuinness that Sinn Fein would not tolerate anything which watered down the 1998 Agreement.

“We are deeply concerned at the approach of the two governments,” the Mid Ulster MP said.

“Rather than defend the Agreement by standing up to unionist rejectionists, the two governments are allowing the DUP to bully them into diluting the Agreement. This is mistake and we have told the two governments this. We remain in close and constant contact with both the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minster.”

“Our focus is on defending the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement. Anything less than that is unacceptable to Sinn Fein.”

Sinn Fein and the nationalist SDLP have been highly critical of suggestions that the Assembly could sit for months ahead of the formation of an executive.

The DUP has insisted it will not be bound by any deadline imposed by the governments and will only base a decision on whether to form an executive on the basis of evidence that the IRA has ended all alleged criminality and paramilitarism.

The two governments were also warned today by nationalist SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell his party was not interested in an Assembly which amounted to a DUP inspired talking shop.

But he also blamed Sinn Fein for the governments’ proposals.

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Irish Examiner

31 March 2006
By Sean O’Riordan

A SHRINE dedicated to the memory of schoolboy Robert Holohan has been desecrated.
Gardaí yesterday confirmed the memorial, which is at the spot where 11-year-old’s body was found in Inch, Co Cork, was vandalised.

A senior garda spokesman said Robert’s family was devastated by the news.

Gardaí searched the area yesterday after getting a tip-off from a member of the public. They are satisfied the attack was deliberate. However, they are not aware of any motive.

They found a metal cross put up by the landowner was missing along with pictures of Robert and some of his toys.

“We discovered some of the toys thrown into the nearby valley and others items scattered around the general area,” the garda spokesman said.

He described the vandalism as “a particularly vile and despicable act” and added that they had evidence the shrine was intact on Tuesday afternoon.

They believe it was attacked between Tuesday night and yesterday morning. Last night most of the shrine had been restored.

Robert disappeared from his home in Midleton on January 4, 2005. Following intensive searches his body was discovered, eight days later and nine miles away, at Inch Strand. The discovery was made possible using mobile phone triangulation techniques.

Gardaí closed the remote site for four days while they carried out a detailed technical examination. When it was reopened to the public on January 16, 2005, the shrine was erected by family members and friends. Dozens of flowers were also left at the scene by strangers shocked by the killing.

A garda spokesman said: “Nothing has ever happened to this shrine before. We are very anxious to contact anybody who was in the area of Inch Strand between Tuesday night and Thursday morning and who may have seen anything suspicious.”

He said anybody with information should contact Midleton garda station at (021) 4621550.

Robert’s next door neighbour, Wayne O’Donoghue, pleaded guilty last January to his manslaughter.

He given a four-year sentence at a special sitting of the Central Criminal Court in Ennis.

However, on February 20 the Director of Public Prosecutions lodged an appeal against the leniency of sentence.

It is understood the DPP laid out six separate grounds for the appeal.

IAIS

03/31/06 13:29 EST

The Irish and British governments were today accused of allowing themselves to be bullied by the Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists into diluting the Belfast Agreement.

The allegation was made by Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness as officials in London and Dublin finalised the roadmap for restoring devolution in Northern Ireland which will be unveiled by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern next Thursday.

It is believed the two leaders will confirm during their visit to Armagh the Assembly will be recalled in May.

However the parties are expected to be given a November 24th deadline to agree to the formation of a devolved government.

But with speculation mounting that the Assembly will be given some kind of role, the governments were warned today by Mr McGuinness that Sinn Fein would not tolerate anything which watered down the 1998 Agreement.

“We are deeply concerned at the approach of the two governments,” the Mid Ulster MP said.

“Rather than defend the Agreement by standing up to unionist rejectionists, the two governments are allowing the DUP to bully them into diluting the Agreement. This is mistake and we have told the two governments this. We remain in close and constant contact with both the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minster.”

“Our focus is on defending the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement. Anything less than that is unacceptable to Sinn Fein.”

Sinn Fein and the nationalist SDLP have been highly critical of suggestions that the Assembly could sit for months ahead of the formation of an executive.

The DUP has insisted it will not be bound by any deadline imposed by the governments and will only base a decision on whether to form an executive on the basis of evidence that the IRA has ended all alleged criminality and paramilitarism.

The two governments were also warned today by nationalist SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell his party was not interested in an Assembly which amounted to a DUP inspired talking shop.

But he also blamed Sinn Fein for the governments’ proposals.

Irish Examiner

31 March 2006
By Sean O’Riordan

A SHRINE dedicated to the memory of schoolboy Robert Holohan has been desecrated.
Gardaí yesterday confirmed the memorial, which is at the spot where 11-year-old’s body was found in Inch, Co Cork, was vandalised.

A senior garda spokesman said Robert’s family was devastated by the news.

Gardaí searched the area yesterday after getting a tip-off from a member of the public. They are satisfied the attack was deliberate. However, they are not aware of any motive.

They found a metal cross put up by the landowner was missing along with pictures of Robert and some of his toys.

“We discovered some of the toys thrown into the nearby valley and others items scattered around the general area,” the garda spokesman said.

He described the vandalism as “a particularly vile and despicable act” and added that they had evidence the shrine was intact on Tuesday afternoon.

They believe it was attacked between Tuesday night and yesterday morning. Last night most of the shrine had been restored.

Robert disappeared from his home in Midleton on January 4, 2005. Following intensive searches his body was discovered, eight days later and nine miles away, at Inch Strand. The discovery was made possible using mobile phone triangulation techniques.

Gardaí closed the remote site for four days while they carried out a detailed technical examination. When it was reopened to the public on January 16, 2005, the shrine was erected by family members and friends. Dozens of flowers were also left at the scene by strangers shocked by the killing.

A garda spokesman said: “Nothing has ever happened to this shrine before. We are very anxious to contact anybody who was in the area of Inch Strand between Tuesday night and Thursday morning and who may have seen anything suspicious.”

He said anybody with information should contact Midleton garda station at (021) 4621550.

Robert’s next door neighbour, Wayne O’Donoghue, pleaded guilty last January to his manslaughter.

He given a four-year sentence at a special sitting of the Central Criminal Court in Ennis.

However, on February 20 the Director of Public Prosecutions lodged an appeal against the leniency of sentence.

It is understood the DPP laid out six separate grounds for the appeal.

Irelandclick

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe brother of an IRA volunteer shot dead by a British army sniper in Ardoyne has called for the inquest into his death to be reopened on the 33rd anniversary of his killing.

Photo and further explanation of this case from >>Relatives For Justice

Pat McCabe (17) was making his way along Etna Drive on March 27, 1973 when a British army soldier who was positioned in Flax Street Mill shot him in the back.
At the time Pat McCabe was on active service and was armed but his brother Gerard has said there was no way the British Soldier could have known this as he shot the his brother from behind. He also believes that because Pat was subsequently identified as an IRA volunteer it was used as an excuse to cover up what really happened.
The dead man’s brother along with the Ardoyne Commemoration Project has demanded that the case been looked into again.
“We have asked the British for the inquest papers from the inquiry for four years and they will not hand them over.
“Pat was walking along Etna drive when he was shot in the back by a soldier who had fired from Flax Street Mill. He said in the investigation that he was trying to shoot another man Pat was walking with.
“He said he took aim on the other man but Pat walked into the line and got shot instead.”
Gerard says this is proof that a shoot-to-kill policy was in operation from the earliest days of the conflict.
“Pat was on active service at the time and he was armed – he had a pistol tucked into his belt – but there is no way the British soldier could have known this.”
“Pat’s death was put down to ‘misadventure’ and because he was an IRA member we have been stripped of any possibility of justice.
“We are calling for Pat’s inquest to be reopened.”
Tom Holland from the Ardoyne Commemoration Project, which deals with victims’ issues, has echoed the McCabe family’s calls for justice.
“What we have here is that the British government have never acknowledged their role in the conflict. They have never accepted that their security forces acted with impunity and they are in denial over their shoot-to-kill policy.
“The notion that the British government and its security agencies were neutral or merely law enforcers is false – they were a clearly established armed combatant who had strategies, policies and tactics that designed to kill, just as republicans and unionist paramilitaries had.
“The family of Pat McCabe may never receive the truth about the killing of their loved one and they may never hear the British government publicly acknowledge shoot to kill,” said Tom Holland.
“However their quest is ongoing and their struggle is legitimate and deserves to be recognised as part of the wider debate about whether or not there should be a truth recovery process.”

Journalist:: Evan Short


Three children were knocked down on Belfast’s Springfield Road

A west Belfast man found guilty of killing two children by dangerous driving has been jailed for five years.

Wayne Johnston, 44, formerly from the Highfield estate, was convicted by a jury at Belfast Crown Court.

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Christopher Shaw
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Emma Lynch

He was accused of killing Christopher Shaw, 11, and Emma Lynch, 8, on the Springfield Road in December 2003.

Johnston was also found guilty of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving to Christopher’s brother, Darren, then 13.

The children had been out walking their dog when Johnston lost control of his car which mounted the pavement and knocked them over.

During the two week trial, witnesses said they saw Johnston’s car swerve into oncoming traffic and onto the pavement before the fatal impact.

They said his vehicle uprooted a traffic light and dragged it up the road where he crashed into the back of a parked vehicle.

Johnston had claimed he suffered a “blackout” due to a coughing fit after lighting a cigarette in the moments before the crash.

The judge said on Friday that Johnston should have considered the possibility that such a coughing fit might have happened.

Christopher died shortly after the accident while family friend Emma lived for a few days on a life support machine at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Christopher’s brother Darren, who is now 15-years-old, suffered a fractured skull as well as cuts and bruises.

Irelandclick

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe brother of an IRA volunteer shot dead by a British army sniper in Ardoyne has called for the inquest into his death to be reopened on the 33rd anniversary of his killing.

Photo and further explanation of this case from >>Relatives For Justice

Pat McCabe (17) was making his way along Etna Drive on March 27, 1973 when a British army soldier who was positioned in Flax Street Mill shot him in the back.
At the time Pat McCabe was on active service and was armed but his brother Gerard has said there was no way the British Soldier could have known this as he shot the his brother from behind. He also believes that because Pat was subsequently identified as an IRA volunteer it was used as an excuse to cover up what really happened.
The dead man’s brother along with the Ardoyne Commemoration Project has demanded that the case been looked into again.
“We have asked the British for the inquest papers from the inquiry for four years and they will not hand them over.
“Pat was walking along Etna drive when he was shot in the back by a soldier who had fired from Flax Street Mill. He said in the investigation that he was trying to shoot another man Pat was walking with.
“He said he took aim on the other man but Pat walked into the line and got shot instead.”
Gerard says this is proof that a shoot-to-kill policy was in operation from the earliest days of the conflict.
“Pat was on active service at the time and he was armed – he had a pistol tucked into his belt – but there is no way the British soldier could have known this.”
“Pat’s death was put down to ‘misadventure’ and because he was an IRA member we have been stripped of any possibility of justice.
“We are calling for Pat’s inquest to be reopened.”
Tom Holland from the Ardoyne Commemoration Project, which deals with victims’ issues, has echoed the McCabe family’s calls for justice.
“What we have here is that the British government have never acknowledged their role in the conflict. They have never accepted that their security forces acted with impunity and they are in denial over their shoot-to-kill policy.
“The notion that the British government and its security agencies were neutral or merely law enforcers is false – they were a clearly established armed combatant who had strategies, policies and tactics that designed to kill, just as republicans and unionist paramilitaries had.
“The family of Pat McCabe may never receive the truth about the killing of their loved one and they may never hear the British government publicly acknowledge shoot to kill,” said Tom Holland.
“However their quest is ongoing and their struggle is legitimate and deserves to be recognised as part of the wider debate about whether or not there should be a truth recovery process.”

Journalist:: Evan Short


Three children were knocked down on Belfast’s Springfield Road

A west Belfast man found guilty of killing two children by dangerous driving has been jailed for five years.

Wayne Johnston, 44, formerly from the Highfield estate, was convicted by a jury at Belfast Crown Court.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.us

Emma Lynch and Christopher Shaw

He was accused of killing Christopher Shaw, 11, and Emma Lynch, 8, on the Springfield Road in December 2003.

Johnston was also found guilty of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving to Christopher’s brother, Darren, then 13.

The children had been out walking their dog when Johnston lost control of his car which mounted the pavement and knocked them over.

During the two week trial, witnesses said they saw Johnston’s car swerve into oncoming traffic and onto the pavement before the fatal impact.

They said his vehicle uprooted a traffic light and dragged it up the road where he crashed into the back of a parked vehicle.

Johnston had claimed he suffered a “blackout” due to a coughing fit after lighting a cigarette in the moments before the crash.

The judge said on Friday that Johnston should have considered the possibility that such a coughing fit might have happened.

Christopher died shortly after the accident while family friend Emma lived for a few days on a life support machine at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Christopher’s brother Darren, who is now 15-years-old, suffered a fractured skull as well as cuts and bruises.

Irelandclick

Concerns over PSNI weaponry arsenal as water cannon ‘showcase’ takes place

Holy Cross Priest Fr Aidan Troy has described the PSNI water cannon arsenal as “very, very dangerous” ahead of a “showcase” demonstration today in Antrim.
The high profile PR exercise to display their water cannon to other police forces in Ireland and Britain was expected to take place in Steeple barracks.
Those attending, including the Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan and representatives of An Garda Síochána, are to be given a demonstration of the equipment and how it can be used in riot situations.
Fr Troy, who last summer was pelted with water when a powerful water cannon was deployed by the PSNI to quell riots on the Twelfth in Ardoyne, today questioned the use of the cannon.
“I would be very, very sceptical of making too much out of the efficiency and the effectiveness of water cannon because they really mark a failure of dialogue and good community relations. And while I recognise that perhaps in dire situations there may be a need for them I have seen them used in situations where they really did more harm than good
“While some security experts might say they are necessary, having been on the end of a water cannon I can say that it’s not pleasant and I think it can be very very dangerous.”
It comes during a week that the PSNI also announced that it was seeking to add yet more weaponry to their already extensive arsenal, with electric Taser guns the latest device to be sought by the force. This request has alarmed human rights groups and nationalist political parties who have united against the plans.
Clara Reilly from Relatives for Justice, who has led campaigns against the use of plastic bullets said she feared that the weapon would turn out to be yet another lethal option for the PSNI.
“We would have great concerns about them (Tasers) just as the Children’s Law society and Amnesty International have had, because of their record of having killed so many people where they have been used.
“The PSNI should be concentrating on taking more schooling in human rights and how to respect other people’s human rights rather than going down this militaristic route.”
North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly also questioned why the PSNI needed yet more weapons.
“In March 2003 the Human Rights Commission supported the findings of research into plastic bullets and alternatives being proposed, and recommended that the PSNI not be equipped with any type of electroshock weaponry.
“The reality is that despite calls for plastic bullets to be banned, thousands of new potentially lethal devices have been purchased and now they are seeking to obtain these equally controversial weapons.”
Confirming to the North Belfast News that the Taser weapon would not be replacing any current weaponry but would be used as an addition to current equipment, a PSNI spokeswoman said that the trial of 12 devices was due to begin soon.
“Taser has been approved by the home office for use by Police forces in England and Wales. The Chief Constable is considering its introduction in a pilot capacity to a limited number of specialist firearms officers to provide an addition to our range of less lethal options.
“This is in line with Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) policy and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI) recommendations. The police service has briefed a number of statutory agencies as part of a wider consultation exercise on Taser before the Chief Constable makes a decision on its introduction.
“If the Chief Constable goes ahead and makes that decision there is only going to be 12 Tasers introduced as part of the pilot,” she said.

Journalist:: Evan Short

Daily Ireland

Robin Livingstone
31/03/2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usDogs have played a big part in my life. Not pit bulls, needless to say. I leave the pit bulls, the mastiffs and the various you-looking-at-me-mate mutts to the baseball cap brigade who seem to favour psycho-chic these days.
Sixteen shots the Trevors fired at the two pit bulls that killed Boomer, the collie pup that had the misfortune to appear on the scene just as Rocky and Tyson decided that they were a little peckish. Sixteen shots. That seems excessive, even for west Belfast. It suggests that Trevors who fired the shots weren’t up close, otherwise they’d have been able to dispatch the pit bulls in the blink of an eye, given that the top of that fearsome breed’s head is the width of a coffee table.
If I was Boomer’s distraught owner I’d request an independent autopsy. Two Trevors firing 16 shots at three dogs rolling around on the ground? I’m betting it wasn’t just the perps who got shot. And I’d get Nuala O’Loan on the job – I know her, she’d do the right thing in the blink of an eye.
“Trevor, I want your gun and your badge, you’re finished in this town. The lab report says Boomer took one of your slugs in the gut.”
Might get a public inquiry out of it as well.
What is it with the Trevors and animals anyway? I’ve written before about Phoebe the chimp up at Belfast Zoo who nipped out for a cup of tea and a smoke one morning without a permission slip. Zoo staff tried and failed to return her to the monkey house and in desperation called in the PSNI. At Dublin Zoo they’d have called the Fire Service, but this is Belfast and it’s our experience that high-calibre weaponry is an excellent means of getting your way. So the Trevors fired a burst from a Heckler & Koch over poor Phoebe’s head. And sure enough, she’s now safely back in her cage. Fair enough, she’s on 80 Marlboros a day instead of five, addicted to Prozac and Diazepam, has two counselling sessions a day and curls up in a ball when she sees men in uniform, but that was still a result as far as the Trevors are concerned.
Then there was Buttercup who was being led down the ramp from a death truck at an abattoir in Coleraine when she made an inspiring but ultimately futile dash for freedom. Cornered in a supermarket car park, a PSNI marksman was called in and as an exhausted Buttercup stood breathing heavily among the trolleys, pondering her next move, she was dispatched with a standard Nato 7.62 between those big brown eyes.
And now the pit bulls. Granted, fighting dogs with teeth like a great white and a bite like a saltwater crocodile aren’t as endearing as a chimp in a sailor’s outfit or a dairy cow with big eyelashes. But somebody, somewhere loved Rocky and Tyson. Somebody took time to feed live cats to them every day and inject them with steroids. Somebody took time to stitch and disinfect their wounds after dog fights up the country. And somebody put the harnesses on and took them out for a walk every day. I’m sorry, I think I’m going to cry…
The family Livingstone only ever owned one dog – Hector, a shambling, shedding black-and-white collie-labrador cross who disappeared one day and never came back.
Somebody told us later that he’d been shot by a farmer on the Black Mountain for worrying sheep. Being just a boy and unschooled in the ways of the country at that stage, I thought that meant he’d been telling them that their feed ration had been cut. But no, his sheepdog instincts had kicked in enough for him to know that he was supposed to run in the direction of sheep, but not enough to know that he was supposed to do it in a non-threatening way.
Not that you ever actually needed your own dog in Lenadoon. 6.30am of a bright summer morning and half a dozen of us would make our way through the estate in the direction of the Belfast hills to spend the day chasing rabbits and tickling trout, and a rag-tag band of mongrels and half-breeds would excitedly follow us, not barking, but whimpering with excitement and anticipation. If I close my eyes I can see those dogs still, and I can even put a name to all the faces. In our estate back then there wasn’t a Rover or Lady or Rex or Shep or Trixie to be found because even the pooches were conscripted in the war against the Brits. In our street alone lived Saoirse, Rebel, Oglach, Kesh, Provo, Fian and Sticky (there was always one). And the Brits prosecuted the war against those dogs every bit as ruthlessly as they fought the Ra.
The trouble was that blokes from Manchester and Liverpool used to take the barking and snarling personally, whereas postmen and insurance men viewed it as an occupational hazard. And so in the dark of night, with faces blackened and lampposts shot out, the soldiers would return to lob mercury sausages into the gardens of the fiercest dogs, which would die a slow and painful death. At least old Hector went quickly.
No volleys were fired over those martyred mutts’ coffins, no inspirational words were spoken at their gravesides. Instead, they were wrapped in a blanket and buried without fuss on the banks of the Half Moon Lake. War graves, I think it’s fair to call them, except none of them was ever marked.
And when next the foot patrols would pass, the street would be that little bit quieter and the smirk on the face of the patrol leader would be that little bit broader. Dark days indeed.
Maybe it’s time we started demanding a little bit of, ah, woof and justice.

Daily Ireland

In his final interview before retiring as vice-chairpman of the North’s Policing Board this week, Denis Bradley spoke with Jarlath Kearney

Jarlath Kearney
31/03/2006

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Photo: Denis Bradley (click to view)

DI: Is Martin McGuinness’ phone currently bugged by Special Branch?
DB: I would be very surprised if it was, but I wouldn’t see any reason why it should be and if it is, I think that it should be very deeply inquired into as to why the hell Martin McGuinness’ phone should be bugged by the Special Branch. I would think that was an horrendous situation to be.
DI: And the reason I ask, of course, is because there is a precedent, as you know.
DB: There is a precedent for everything in Northern Ireland. I think that the Sinn Féin statement is a very valid one, when it says when are the British going to stop their war too because we have stopped ours. My only problem with it is that Sinn Féin have access to the Prime Minister on a daily basis, so why ask me is their phone bugged when they have total access to the Prime Minister?
DI: The point is that on the last occasion in which it emerged publicly that Martin McGuinness’ phone was bugged, the conversations were in fact conversations with 10 Downing Street. Now that happened on the Policing Board’s watch.
DB: It also happened on Martin McGuinness’ watch. I think that you are giving the Policing Board an import which is way beyond its brief in this point of view, that all things have to be post-hoc as opposed to pre-hoc. Things are made accountable post, not prior. Otherwise what you do is that you run the organisation and that’s the job of the chief constable and people like that. But to answer your question, I don’t do this victim stuff. Sinn Féin are probably more critically powerful in their access than any other political party are. We have authority post, if something is wrong then you come to us and you say that’s the piece of evidence, we have mechanisms to deal with that.
DI: A Special Branch officer called Peter Adamson was charged with offences in relation to the alleged leaking of transcripts of Martin McGuinness’ phone calls. The charges were withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecutions last autumn on the basis that it was not ‘in the public interest’ to proceed. Did the Policing Board investigate, analyse, assess or inquire in any way whatsoever about that situation?
DB: Well why would the Policing Board inquire about something that the DPP decided to do?
DI: Why did the Policing Board then attempt to deal with the issue of the Stormont case which collapsed ‘in the public interest’ and people were declared not guilty by verdict of the Crown Court? The Policing Board then made extensive comment about that – you and Des Rea – at a press briefing in Belfast. Why did you do that?
DB: You’re the first person who has asked me to comment upon this one, right, nobody asked me to comment on this, on one that I’m not well-briefed on and I don’t know that much about, but if you had asked me I would have certainly went looking to find out. But you didn’t ask and nobody else asked. But on the second one, everybody was asking, right? So you cannot blame me for not commenting on something which I wasn’t asked about and which you’re post-haste asking and coming down the road asking me about and kind of making into something.
DI: In the view of some it is as big a public interest issue that a Member of Parliament’s phone and his conversations with the secretary of state and 10 Downing Street would be bugged by a PSNI Special Branch which then leaks them to the media, while at the same time the Policing Board doesn’t consider the issue to be of sufficient public interest to make comment or inquiry.
DB: Well I told you, you’re the first person to ask me the question. And Martin didn’t come to me because if he had I would have dealt with it. I would have opened up the issue. He didn’t come to me with it and I didn’t know about it. So I mean the real point here is engagement, the real point here is engagement.
DI: So should Martin McGuinness be engaging as a member of the Policing Board if – and you’re not in a position to say and neither is he presumably – his phone is still bugged by the PSNI Special Branch?
DB: What I’m saying is that if it is, I think it should be inquired into and seen to and dealt with.
DI: How could he join the Policing Board if post-hoc, as you described it, two years from now, further transcripts emerged of conversations that he is currently having with Peter Hain or Jonathan Powell or Tony Blair?
DB: Well, Labour governments have discovered that intelligence at times did things that they weren’t supposed to do, right? It has happened within the south of Ireland not all that long ago. It didn’t collapse governments, right, people dealt with it and got on with it and made people accountable for it. That’s the way you deal with these types of situations.
DI: Who made the PSNI Special Branch accountable for the leaks that took place on the watch of Hugh Orde and the Policing Board?
DB: Well you’re saying that they actually happened. So you’re asking me about something I know nothing about, that nobody informed me of, nobody asked me a question about, that nobody actually brought to my attention. The difficulty about the Sinn Féin argument is that we will join policing when it is perfect according to our definition. Now they then began to discover, correctly so in my opinion, that devolution of policing and justice powers was a fundamental issue, not necessarily to policing but to good governance of policing.
DI: One of the issues which the Policing Board manifestly can’t control is the issue of MI5 receiving primacy over intelligence-gathering in Ireland.
DB: The board can’t solve it but the political parties can solve it and I think that the best definition is coming at this moment in time from the SDLP because they split national security into two situations – one is Irish national security and the other is British national security, and I think that is a very valid analysis.
DI: So you agree then that MI5 does have a role to play in Ireland vis-a-vis so-called international terrorism?
DB: I will tell you this and Sinn Féin will come to this because they can’t go to any other position, no government in the world will give away its own national security. But what it should be giving away within Northern Ireland is national security within the island of Ireland. That’s the issue, it won’t give away its own national security, and we have to live, we all have to mature into the situation, because Britain, while its here, will take an interest in its own national security out of that island, or the part of the island in which it has a place.
DI: So this is fundamentally an issue of sovereignty?
DB: Of course its about political sovereignty. That’s what it was always about.
DI: Hugh Orde specifically stated on the BBC that loyalists in general are not a threat to national security and that republicans in general are a threat to national security. Do you agree with that?
DB: I don’t agree with Hugh Orde’s position on this. I actually side with the SDLP on this that the police should continue to hold national security as they do at this moment in time on the island of Ireland, I agree with that.
DI: Do you accept that a better model is that those powers should be vested with a locally accountable minister of justice?
DB: I have no difficulty with any of that except that I think you are not analysing the situation properly at all and I don’t think you’re grasping the situation because governments hold onto their national security. Neither of the two governments, in no matter what model you create, will give up their own national security issue. There are still dark rooms but there are not as many of them and there is a little bit more scrutiny, but the scrutiny will always reside in the parliament of that country and should not reside on a Policing Board. We were handed a situation from the British government that it was a done deal and Sinn Féin in my opinion didn’t protest enough. I’m saying its carries dangers. I am not saying it’s fundamental. I’m saying it carries dangers and it should be properly explored. But I don’t think it is fundamental. I think that the danger as I see it is that a force without a force, which is the British model, is not necessarily conducive to a post-conflict situation, where sovereignty is still the disputed territory.
DI: You acknowledge that the PSNI and MI5 currently have a ‘relationship’. You’ve acknowledged that.
DB: Of course I have.
DI: Many observers regard that relationship in the Tasking and Co-ordinating Group as effectively a force beyond a force, because there has been very little public accountability of any of the actions emanating from that relationship over the past four years. Do you accept that?
DB: We were never tasked by the politicians to sort out the relationship between MI5 and the internal workings of the police. Nobody ever tasked the Policing Board with that, neither should they because that’s the politicians’ role. I think it is healthier that dark rooms disappear and that things come out into the open as much as they can. The role of the Policing Board is not to work out politics and I think that part of the republican argument is that it invested far too much expectation in something that is only a construct of proper politics and which gives a chance and an opportunity to achieve a greater oversight of policing than we had up to now.
DI: Hugh Orde in March 2003, during your period as vice-chair, talked about people within his organisation who wanted him to fail. Where have those people gone? Or are they still there? Or do you know?
DB: There are people within every organisation that wish somebody to fail. We also unfortunately, still to a degree, because the politicians have failed to get their act together, end up in a situation where some of the politics flow into policing, so the kind of clear water that we were promised by the politicians in the Good Friday Agreement was never provided.
DI: Is there a case, which republicans refer to, for labelling police who flow into politics as political detectives?
DB: Culturally I think there was a greater onus on Sinn Féin to actually lift more of the burden by taking their place on the Policing Board and holding Hugh Orde to account and having the type of questions that you’re directing at me, directed at them because why didn’t they lift part of this burden and expect people like me to kind of hold ground which I was only partially capable of ever holding.
DI: Is that not a victim approach that you eschewed earlier on?
DB: No, it’s a reality statement, it’s a reality check on this situation. I don’t feel a victim, I just feel a bit saddened by it. I think it was a wrong tactic. I disagreed with it.
DI: Do you accept Sinn Féin’s argument now that, number one, there are still in some influential positions within the PSNI ‘political detectives’, and number two, that devolution is now fundamental to securing maximum community confidence in the police?
DB: I think that is put in a fashion which is a completely Sinn Féin question, because it bears no reality to reality.
DI: So there aren’t political detectives?
DB: No, I didn’t say that. Let me finish the thing. Everything that happens is political. And when a very prominent Sinn Féin person becomes a police officer, I don’t expect him to change his heart, nor his culture, but what I expect him to do and what I would demand if I was still on the Policing Board is that he police with neutrality and with the best interests of all the people at heart. That’s what I mean by that the politics now flow into policing because those questions are asked because we don’t have an assembly, we don’t have an agreed executive.
DI: Yes but in fairness, Denis, republicans currently analyse a set of individuals within the PSNI as political detectives because they, in fact, conspired to bring down the assembly that you’re actually talking about.
DB: Well, you use the word conspire, I don’t think they conspired at all.
DI: But that’s why republicans talk about political detectives.
DB: No, they didn’t conspire. I think they made a mess of it. That’s been acknowledged by the chief constable and I certainly thought they made a mess of it and said so at the time. That’s why I think that analysis is not good enough. You see as republicans – and I talk about myself as a republican – we need to get past this. But if you begin to actually say he did that or she did that because he comes from the unionist tradition therefore it has to be a political position and therefore he has to be a political detective, we will never in true republican definitions move past where we’re at. Sinn Féin have had the experience of knowing more about change than probably any other entity within the North over the last 10 years. They have handled it extremely well except mainly on this one issue which I think they got wrong, because they politicised policing. If anyone politicised policing they politicised it by actually saying that we’ll only do it when it’s perfect according to our view. They politicised policing by saying, that’s one we will not touch with a barge pole.
DI: Patten came about because policing was political…
DB: No, hold on…
DI: That’s why Patten came about.
DB: Everything is political if you want to use that definition.
DI: Policing is fundamental to the maintenance of the status quo. That’s why it so serious for republicans.
DB: It is so serious for republicans and it’s the one that they didn’t engage with. To be fair to them, they said we will do that through legislation. If they don’t find a way of the policing to do that, then the only thing we’re left with is what is now being described in vague terms as joint management. And the rest of Ireland, which they now have a big stake in politically, will be left saying that there is one of the political parties here who doesn’t support policing within part of the island until they get some kind of devolved situation which might not happen for the next 20 years. Now that is not a political position I would advise anybody to take up.

This interview has been edited down because of space restrictions.

Daily Ireland

Editor: Colin O’Carroll
31/03/2006

The recent announcement by the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Reg Empey, that he has been meeting loyalist paramilitary leaders since the autumn of 2005 came as a surprise to some, but for other UUP-watchers it was very much par for the course.
Down through the darkest years of the Troubles the then main unionist party held a hard line about talks with the IRA. That line was that talks were out of the question and that a military victory had to be ruthlessly pursued.
In January 1988, John Hume began talks with Gerry Adams which would eventually lead to the IRA cessation of 1994. The howls of protest that went up were ear-splitting in their intensity. Because the IRA campaign was in full tilt and blood was being spilt on the streets, the UUP accused John Hume and the SDLP of ‘giving in to the terrorists’ and the invective levelled at the SDLP leader was withering in its intensity.
Today the UDA and the UVF continue to murder each other over sordid drug and territory disputes, they are fully armed and active and show no signs of laying down their weapons. Yet Mr Empey sees continuing loyalist violence as no bar to a seat at the table with the UUP. The unionist parties, he said, “had a special responsibility to persuade the loyalist paramilitaries to commit to purely peaceful means”.
The benign view of all this would go something like this. Well, it took them a long time to learn the lesson of Hume-Adams, but better late than never and good luck to the unionist parties in their attempts to wean the UDA and the UVF off the drugs and guns.
Incredibly, the main unionist party continues to refuse to have any dealings with Sinn Féin; it refuses to acknowledge the most basic personal courtesies, it talks to republicans through a third party and, crucially, it continues to rule out the speedy return of the power-sharing executive and assembly. The benign view of that would go something like this. Ah, but the DUP have always taken a harder line than the UUP and at least they’re being consistent.
Except of course that the DUP wouldn’t know consistency if it jumped up and bit them on the nose. The party is on the brink of entering into talks with the UDA and the UVF without any prior commitment being given by the loyalist paramilitaries in regard to guns and violence. The excuse for parleying with men in balaclavas while refusing to have anything to do with the North’s largest nationalist parties is that while the DUP might, just might, have some influence over the UDA and the UVF, it has none over ‘Sinn Féin/IRA’. This is the same party that damned John Hume as a fellow traveller for doing almost 20 years ago what they’re proposing to do now. Except John Hume at that time, by his own admission, would have talked to anyone and anybody, republican or loyalist. The DUP position now, in essence, is that talks with armed groups are not governed by morality, by right or by wrong, but by practicality and realpolitik. Perhaps somewhere in there is a glimmer of hope.

Daily Ireland

Relatives of loyalist victim say independent inquiry’s conclusion adds weight to their belief that a policy of co-operation existed between forces that Garda chiefs tried to hide

by Ciarán Barnes
31/03/2006

The Taoiseach has come under pressure to reveal whether gardaí had been ordered not to actively pursue the loyalist killers of Irish citizens in the 1970s.
Relatives of Séamus Ludlow, who was murdered by loyalists in 1976, and the families of those killed in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings have told Daily Ireland that such a policy existed.
They said yesterday that the findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Mr Ludlow’s murder had added weight to their claims.
In its report published on Wednesday, the commission detailed cases of cross-border co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the RUC.
Judge Henry Barron, who published a report on the Ludlow murder last November, was not made aware of these cases.
The commission’s report says that, in February 1973 following a train robbery in Dundalk, three gardaí interviewed suspects at Springfield Road RUC station in west Belfast.
In March 1976, two months before the Ludlow killing, Garda detectives questioned a man believed to have been involved in a robbery at Belfast’s Musgrave Park Hospital.
The gardaí also let the RUC use facilities in the South to interview Irish citizens. In 1975, the RUC questioned the Belfast man Pat Livingstone in Dundalk Garda station about a killing in the North.
It is clear that, for at least three years prior to Mr Ludlow’s murder, gardaí had been co-operating regularly with the RUC.
The family of Mr Ludlow have described as “ridiculous” the claims that the killers of their relative were not pursued because gardaí feared that the IRA would attack them for co-operating with the RUC.
Mr Ludlow’s nephew Jimmy Sharkey said: “The findings of the commission in relation to co-operation between the Garda and RUC make a mockery of Judge Barron’s ruling.
“I firmly believe the Irish government had a policy in place at the time not to pursue loyalists or members of the British army involved in the murder and attempted murders of Southerners.
“The Irish government didn’t want to upset the British so they didn’t go after the men who murdered Séamus.
“But my uncle’s case wasn’t isolated. Why were the loyalists who blew up Castleblayney, Dundalk, Dublin and Monaghan not pursued? There are hundreds of grieving families who deserve answers.” Margaret Urwin — secretary of the Justice for the Forgotten group, which represents those bereaved or injured as a result of the 1970s Dublin and Monaghan bombings — said: “For the Garda to claim they didn’t co-operate with the RUC in pursuing loyalist killers because of fear of IRA attacks is nonsense. They were working hand in glove for years.”
Yesterday a senior Garda officer was appointed to re-examine the investigation into the Ludlow murder.

Derry Journal

31 March 2006

REPUBLICANS IN Derry have warned they will not tolerate the erection of the Irish tricolour to promote sectarianism in the city.
The statement was issued following the erection of the Irish national flag near interface areas in recent weeks.
Speaking on behalf of the ‘Derry republican family’, Derry City Councillor Peter Anderson hit out at the “willy nilly” erection of flags in acts of hatred as an abuse of the tricolour and all it stands for.
“People putting up flags on every flagpole at interface zones and painting kerbstones green white and gold is an absolute disgrace,” he told the ‘Journal’.
“Republicans are probably guilty of it in the past but after all these years we realise that it is not the way forward.
“Our flag has been used in recent weeks near interface areas as a means of promoting sectarianism – something the republican family in Derry will not tolerate and we are working tirelessly towards convincing the misguided individuals involved that they should desist from it.”
He added that in relation to flags and emblems the Good Friday Agreement was very clear.
“It demanded that symbols and emblems are used in a manner which promotes mutual respect rather than division.
“It is our view that all flags should be flown on proper flagpoles and displayed only on dates to mark significant historical occasions and cultural events of local and national interest.”
The comments were made after a number of complaints to Sinn Fein in the city about the activity.
In one particular incident in the Bogside’s Westland Street, a car carrying an elderly person narrowly escaped being hit when a large lump of wood – heavily studded with nails and being used to fly a tricolour – came loose from a telegraph pole and plummeted to the ground.
“Luckily for this elderly member of our community the large piece of wood missed,” said Colr. Anderson.
Senior Derry republicans have hit out at the “inappropriate” manner in which the Irish tricolour is erected and left to deteriorate into rags, the councillor explained.
“It is neither environmentally friendly, nor a dignified means of expressing national identity.”
He said that, as the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising approaches, republicans are “mindful” that young people might believe that erecting flags is the right thing to do to commemorate the event.
But he added: “Erecting flags is only one of the many ways we now have to remind us of the sacrifices of the past, but abusing our national flag by hanging it on any old lamp post should now be left in the past.
Sinn Fein have recommended the approach taken by residents of Mullaghmore, Co. Tyrone as “the way forward”.
The majority of residents there came to agreement that communities and groups wishing to hoist the national flag should take the time to do a “befitting job” by erecting proper flagpoles in central, specially constructed areas.
“Good leadership was shown by consulting with other estates in their area and coming up with an alternative way of fostering greater respect for our national flag and other symbols of our Irish identity,” Colr. Anderson said.


Derry Journal

31 March 2006

Resdents will oppose any moves by private developers to muscle in on the Rosemount Barracks when it is vacated by the British Army.
The comments were made as local people welcomed confirmation from the British Army that Rosemount security tower will be demolished next year.
The levelling of the tower will bring to an end the campaign to remove the facility which has lasted more than 12 years.
Campaign spokes-man, Cecil Hutcheon told the ‘Journal’ that a commitment has already been given by the PSNI that the barracks will be handed back to the community after it is made redundant.
However, a number of major developers are believed to have expressed an interest in acquiring the site, a situation that Mr. Hutcheon has warned will never be allowed to materialise.
“”We’ve heard of a few developers who intend to try and make a killing on the site but we say ‘over our dead bodies’,” “he said.
“”We are totally opposed to any private developers coming in to build some kind of monstrosity after our years of campaigning to have the site vacated,”” he added.
Radical proposals
However, residents have welcomed radical proposals announced last December by Rosemount Resource Centre and Creggan Enterprises Limited for the two acre site.
They include the construction of a health centre, sheltered accom-modation, a satellite ambulance base, youth facilities and training facilities, as well as the creation of many jobs for the local community, where employment has been scarce for years.
Meanwhile, Tues-day’s announcement by Defence Minister Mr. Adam Ingram also included plans for the dismantling of the Masonic base at Bishop street by July 2007.
The headquarters of the 8th infantry at Shackelton Barracks in Ballykelly is also to disband and hand over responsibility to the Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn.
Sinn Fein Derry City councillor, Paul Fleming said his party remains sceptical about any timetable announced by the British Army.
He said the people of Derry would believe the plans to dismantle the Masonic base at Bishop Street and the PSNI watchtower at Rosemount “”when they see it done””.
“”This is just a regurgitation of the announcement made by the Secretary of State 18 months ago and again a number of months before that.””

Belfast Telegraph

True story behind movie recalled by eyewitness William

By Maureen Coleman
31 March 2006

A county Antrim pensioner, who was a fireman during the Second World War, has recalled how a plane crash on Cavehill inspired a Hollywood movie.

Production on the star-studded Closing the Ring began in Belfast last week, under the direction of Lord Attenborough.

The film is based on a true story about a US B-57 bomber plane which crashed into Cavehill in 1944, killing all 10 men on board.

A ring belonging to one of the gunners was found at the scene and sparked a long journey to find the fiancee of the man to whom it belonged.

The film stars Mischa Barton, Shirley MacLaine and Pete Postlethwaite.

Islandmagee man William Norris (82) was one of the fire crew called out to the devastating scene of the plane crash 62 years ago.

Up to 10 firefighters from Whitla Street reached the scene above Ben Madigan Park, but discovered that no-one had survived the crash.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Norris said: “I still remember that day well. It was rather foggy and the plane had come down over Belfast Lough, crashing just above what is now Ben Madigan Park,” he said.

“There was nothing we could do for the men on board. The fire was very much ablaze when we got there and it was our job to control the fuel tanks in the wings and keep them from bursting.

“We were told there were 10 men on the plane but an eleventh one was found, who was supposedly a vagabond who was sleeping rough. He was never identified.

“It was a very sad day but because it was war-time the tragedy wasn’t as well known as it would have been today.”

Mr Norris said that the Hollywood version of events was slightly different from what actually happened on the day.

“Well, the film tells of a dying man giving the ring to someone and asking him to track down his fiancee back home, but that’s not what happened.

“They were all dead, but there were a lot of kids around at the time and one found the ring.

“It was years later that he actually managed to track down the man’s widow and return the ring to her.

“But it’s a lovely story and hopefully the movie will show that,” added Mr Norris.

Belfast Telegraph

By Brendan McDaid
31 March 2006

The INLA yesterday issued a warning to drug dealers in Derry after claiming to have broken up a cocaine ring and handing a haul of drugs over to a priest.

Members of the paramilitary organisation dressed in balaclavas carried out the raids in the Galliagh area of the city on Wednesday night.

Police have confirmed they are now in possession of the drugs which they said were passed on to them by a third party.

In a statement issued through the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the INLA said: “The Derry Brigade of the Irish National Liberation Army can confirm that our volunteers were this week involved in an operation to smash a North West-based crime gang concerned with the supply and distribution of Class A drugs.

“During this operation volunteers recovered a substantial amount of cocaine estimated to be worth thousands of pounds.

“These drugs were then handed in to a priest in St Joseph’s parish in Galliagh.”

A priest at St Joseph’s parochial house said he had no comment.

The INLA spokesman continued with a warning to drug dealers in Derry to make themselves known.

He said: “The Irish National Liberation Army view the sale and distribution of these dangerous and highly addictive drugs with serious concern, and we take this opportunity to warn all others involved in this trade to come forward and make themselves available to any member of the Irish Republican Socialist movement.

“The Irish National Liberation Army will not allow the working class people of this city to be used as cannon fodder by these criminals whose only concern is profit by whatever means available to them.”

A Foyle PSNI spokesman said enquiries are continuing.

Belfast Telegraph

By Brian Rowan
31 March 2006

The paramilitary debate on the future of the Ulster Volunteer Force is to be taken into Scotland and England in the next few weeks.

Loyalist leaders are extending their consultation process. Favoured options are thought be a “rolling stand-down” of the organisation, sources have indicated.

A final decision on the future of the UVF, and the closely-linked Red Hand Commando, is not expected for several months.

That means the UVF will not use this year’s 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme to announce the outcome of its internal debate.

There had been speculation that an announcement would be linked to the July 1 anniversary.

The original UVF was formed in 1912 and, four years later, its members fought with the 36th (Ulster) Division at the Somme.

Informed sources have dismissed the speculation about an anniversary announcement. They say that suggestion is wrong.

At this stage of the consultation, a date has not been fixed for any announcement. The talking is continuing inside the two loyalist organisations.

Key meetings have still to happen – both inside and outside Northern Ireland.

That talking will take members of the loyalist paramilitary leaderships into Scotland and England in the near future.

The theme of the debate is “transformation”, and after these latest discussions, “executive” or leadership decisions will be taken.

Complete disbandment has been ruled out, but there are suggestions of a “rolling stand-down” – that the UVF and Red Hand Commando will disappear in some sort of phased process.

There is nothing to suggest that arms decommissioning is imminent.

The debate is entering its most critical phase with the marching season just around the corner and with a great deal of uncertainty about the political future here.

The British and Irish governments are expected to reveal their proposals soon. But recent comments about an “inter-governmental approach” if an Executive is not restored at Stormont is causing considerable concern inside the loyalist paramilitary organisations.

The leader of the PUP, David Ervine, whose party has political links to the UVF and Red Hand Commando, said loyalists are clearly concerned about what he called “the joint-authority Plan B”.

“Let’s not go there,” he said.

In recent days, loyalist concerns on this issue have been expressed in private contacts on both sides on the border.

BN.ie

31/03/2006 – 12:10:21

Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey challenged the British government today to reveal any secret deal with republicans on policing.

With his party still to declare if it will take its seats on the reformed authority that scrutinises the force, he warned that a full answer to his allegations could be critical.

The new Policing Board will meet for the first time next week, but the involvement of the UUP’s two representatives, MLAs Danny Kennedy and Fred Cobain, is not yet guaranteed.

The party was incensed when Northern Secretary Peter Hain reconstituted the body with political members outnumbered by independents, claiming it had become an unelected quango.

Empey suspects it may be part of a strategy to smooth Sinn Féin’s passage onto the 19-member authority once the party ends its boycott of Northern policing arrangements.

He refused to be drawn on whether his party would quit in protest, but demanded immediate answers.

“We believe there has been some deal done, probably last summer and probably involving the government and Sinn Féin,” he said.

“At this stage we haven’t been advised of that and we want to know (about it).

“We have had no rational explanation from the secretary of state why he’s changed the goalposts, and done so in a manner without any consultation with the people who have been loyal partners in the policing process.

“We find it intolerable and that’s one of the key things we have to consider.”

Irelandclick

Concerns over PSNI weaponry arsenal as water cannon ‘showcase’ takes place

Holy Cross Priest Fr Aidan Troy has described the PSNI water cannon arsenal as “very, very dangerous” ahead of a “showcase” demonstration today in Antrim.
The high profile PR exercise to display their water cannon to other police forces in Ireland and Britain was expected to take place in Steeple barracks.
Those attending, including the Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan and representatives of An Garda Síochána, are to be given a demonstration of the equipment and how it can be used in riot situations.
Fr Troy, who last summer was pelted with water when a powerful water cannon was deployed by the PSNI to quell riots on the Twelfth in Ardoyne, today questioned the use of the cannon.
“I would be very, very sceptical of making too much out of the efficiency and the effectiveness of water cannon because they really mark a failure of dialogue and good community relations. And while I recognise that perhaps in dire situations there may be a need for them I have seen them used in situations where they really did more harm than good
“While some security experts might say they are necessary, having been on the end of a water cannon I can say that it’s not pleasant and I think it can be very very dangerous.”
It comes during a week that the PSNI also announced that it was seeking to add yet more weaponry to their already extensive arsenal, with electric Taser guns the latest device to be sought by the force. This request has alarmed human rights groups and nationalist political parties who have united against the plans.
Clara Reilly from Relatives for Justice, who has led campaigns against the use of plastic bullets said she feared that the weapon would turn out to be yet another lethal option for the PSNI.
“We would have great concerns about them (Tasers) just as the Children’s Law society and Amnesty International have had, because of their record of having killed so many people where they have been used.
“The PSNI should be concentrating on taking more schooling in human rights and how to respect other people’s human rights rather than going down this militaristic route.”
North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly also questioned why the PSNI needed yet more weapons.
“In March 2003 the Human Rights Commission supported the findings of research into plastic bullets and alternatives being proposed, and recommended that the PSNI not be equipped with any type of electroshock weaponry.
“The reality is that despite calls for plastic bullets to be banned, thousands of new potentially lethal devices have been purchased and now they are seeking to obtain these equally controversial weapons.”
Confirming to the North Belfast News that the Taser weapon would not be replacing any current weaponry but would be used as an addition to current equipment, a PSNI spokeswoman said that the trial of 12 devices was due to begin soon.
“Taser has been approved by the home office for use by Police forces in England and Wales. The Chief Constable is considering its introduction in a pilot capacity to a limited number of specialist firearms officers to provide an addition to our range of less lethal options.
“This is in line with Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) policy and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI) recommendations. The police service has briefed a number of statutory agencies as part of a wider consultation exercise on Taser before the Chief Constable makes a decision on its introduction.
“If the Chief Constable goes ahead and makes that decision there is only going to be 12 Tasers introduced as part of the pilot,” she said.

Journalist:: Evan Short

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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