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Observer

Former priest reveals how IRA spurned PM’s compromise deal to save prisoners’ lives in 1981

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday April 30, 2006
The Observer

The Ten who diedMargaret Thatcher offered a compromise deal that would have ended the 1981 hunger strike early and saved six of the remaining prisoners who went on to die, according to the man who maintained a secret link between successive British governments and the Provisionals.

Denis Bradley, the link in Derry for more than two decades between MI5 and the IRA, claims that the IRA leadership had been handed a deal in early July 1981 – which eventually the prisoners did accept, but only after six more of their comrades had starved to death. Bradley’s account contradicts claims by loyal supporters of Gerry Adams that there had been no offer on the table in July that could have ended the hunger strike after four prisoners died.

Last night Richard O’Rawe, the IRA’s spokesman in the H-Blocks at the time of the hunger strike, said Bradley’s recollection of a deal endorsed by Thatcher bolstered his own claim that the external republican leadership vetoed the compromise for electoral gains.

O’Rawe has contended that the July deal was spurned because Sinn Fein and the IRA’s high command believed prolonging the strike would get their candidate Owen Carron elected as MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone in a by-election caused by the death of Bobby Sands.

Bradley reveals the existence of Thatcher’s offer in a two-part documentary on the hunger strike. The former priest and one-time confidant of Martin McGuinness recalls that ‘there was a phone call on a particular night direct to Maggie Thatcher as she was on her way to a conference in Portugal, and the agreement was, and what she was offering that night, was basically what the hunger strikers settled for.’

The deal offered would have met most of the prisoners’ demands. IRA inmates would have been able to wear their own clothes; be segregated from loyalists; work in prison would have been orientated towards education; and the prisoners would get their own parcels from outside.

The demand for free association was not agreed in this offer.

Bradley accepts that there may be some dispute about the offer but adds that the story he heard from others involved in the ‘back channel’ involving MI5 and the IRA was that there was a ‘representative of the republican movement who was in the room, or who was called for to be in the room… that he was there when a phone call was coming through.’

Bradley says this senior republican was not directly offered the deal from Thatcher ‘but she made an offer of doing the settlement basically on the grounds of what was ultimately settled for, and the person who was on the phone, involved in this linkage, said to the person from the republican movement: “I think you have to take this offer. You should take this offer.” And I think the answer was, no, I think it has to be the prisoners who have to make that up and it didn’t happen and it [the hunger strike] went on.’

O’Rawe, author of a controversial book Blanketmen, argues that this offer was agreed by himself and the IRA’s commanding officer in the Maze, Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane. But McFarlane said last year that ‘there was no offer whatsoever’.

The first part of Hunger Strike is broadcast on RTE 1 at 10.15pm on Tuesday and the second part is on 9 May at the same time.

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Sunday Life

Stephen Breen
30 April 2006

JOHNNY ‘Mad Dog’ Adair was involved in a bitter clash with Celtic fans after last week’s Old Firm game.

Sunday Life can reveal trouble flared between a small group of Ulster Hoops supporters and Adair (right) in Troon last Sunday.

Fists were thrown when the Celts fans were taunted by Adair’s cronies.

The fight started outside a bar as the fans were waiting to catch the ferry home.

It is believed they walked into a pub where Adair was drinking with his pals.

The exiled loyalist confirmed he had been involved in a row.

Said Adair: “We beat the c*** out of Celtic fans after the Old Firm last Sunday.

“They were slabbering and singing Fenian songs and that’s why we got into them.

“They were taunting me but then they regretted it because they had to run for their lives. This is my patch and they should keep their mouths shut.

“I have good people and security around me in Troon and we’re not going to take any abuse from anyone, including Celtic fans.”

But Martin McManus, spokesman for the William Orr Celtic Supporters Club, played down the incident.

Added Mr McManus: “The information I gotwas that there was a bit of banter between some Celtic fans and Mr Adair about his wife and his dog.

“There were certainly no Celtic fans treated in hospital for any injuries. From what we know, no Celtic fan received a hiding. I spoke to a number of supporters’ clubs and they have no report of any injuries. I think this is a case of someone like Mr Adair flexing his ego.

” The man is an idiot who is hungry for publicity.”

Sunday Life

Stephen Gordon
30 April 2006

THE brave father of a loyalist murder victim has called on the PUP to admit that he was right all along to claim the leader of a gang of UVF killers was an informer.

Raymond McCord says claims by two ex-CID men back up what he has been saying for years about the gang that murdered his son, Raymond jnr, in 1997.

Senior ex-CID men Johnston Brown and Trevor McIlwrath said a Mount Vernon loyalist should have been charged with the murder of Catholic Sharon McKenna (27) in north Belfast in 1993.

But Special Branch intervened and the paid informer and his UVF gang went on to carry out a string of brutal murders.

Mr McCord said: “I want a statement from the PUP admitting that I was right all along.”

Brown and McIlwrath declined to name the UVF man who evaded justice as a Special Branch informer.

But last year, Irish Labour leader Pat Rabbitte used parliamentary privilege to accuse Mark Haddock of being the loyalist who escaped being charged with Sharon McKenna’s murder because he was an informer.

Sunday Life

Duncan Morrow
30 April 2006

LAST week was Community Relations Week and an opportunity for both community and voluntary groups and public bodies to illustrate some of the progress being made in building better relationships as the foundation for a shared future.

With more than 150 events in the programme across Northern Ireland and all district council areas, it was recognition of – and encouragement for – work in progress.

The week’s theme was ‘Building A Shared Future’ – a reference to the Government policy on community relations launched last year.

There are alternatives to a shared future, and we have lived them for decades.

But we should be in no doubt what they involve: killing, expulsion from homes and properties, massive economic destruction and random violence, particularly against the most vulnerable.

Any belief that an alternative to sharing here is consequence-free is not only naive, but dangerous.

If anyone tells you that A Shared Future is social engineering, laugh, and then offer a few observations.

We have been protected from the consequences of our local antagonism by the intervention of massive social engineering.

Communities that were ready to drive, burn or shoot each other out have been ‘stabilised’ by ‘peace walls’ and CCTV.

We have also ensured a minimum degree of public services through duplication – at huge cost to the public purse. But this social engineering in the foothills of polarisation has never really resolved anything.

None of this is to say that things have not got better in the last decade.

But the issue is not just stopping the violence, it is actually changing the fundamental relationships which produce violence.

The work, after the violence has stopped, is all about sharing.

The first requirement is leadership.

It is imperative that we end the ambivalence that is hanging around, that A Shared Future is just rhetoric – cucumber sandwiches for the 21st century.

This means some real decisions by political leaders to embrace the notion that sharing is not a short-term tactic, but a practical and moral necessity. That will mean a willingness to take on vested interests which define progress only in terms of relative benefits for one part of the community.

One of the fears around the restoration of devolution is that local politicians are not yet willing to take on these challenges, as the flak they will take will be from their own voters and interests.

But until we are able to meet these challenges, A Shared Future will be hobbled by being seen as a ‘top-down’ policy.

On the other hand, it is imperative that the British and Irish governments, and all of the international supporters who have invested so much in peace-building here, emphasise that the long-term sustainability of peace depends on just such a commitment – whether devolution is established in the short run or not.

In addition, A Shared Future requires resources to back up the policy commitments and a clear implementation plan.

As a start in this, Lord Rooker last week presented the first Shared Future triennial action plans by Government departments.

At the same conference, the Community Relations Council presented 90 research recommendations for action by Government to deliver on A Shared Future on issues from housing and interfaces to education and flags and emblems.

The Community Relations Council is not responsible for implementing A Shared Future, but it will be monitoring progress and acting as an active partner to those wishing to take steps towards sharing over separation.

Success will be measured by the degree to which hard questions are now addressed and properly resolved through dialogue.

BBC


O’Hare was once the Irish Republic’s most wanted man

The head of victims’ group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives has been questioned by police as he stood outside a house.

Willie Frazer claimed former INLA leader Dessie O’Hare was staying at the house near Newtownhamilton in south Armagh on Saturday.

However, the police said nobody at the address “was wanted for questioning”.

O’Hare was released under the Good Friday Agreement after serving part of a 40-year sentence for kidnapping.

He was recently granted extended temporary release by the Irish Republic’s prison service.

Agreement

O’Hare, originally from County Armagh, was convicted for kidnapping and mutilating the Dublin dentist, John O’Grady, in 1988.

He chopped off bits of two of the dentist’s fingers with a chisel, because a ransom demand had not been paid.

Irish police managed to free Mr O’Grady, but O’Hare escaped before eventually being recaptured after a shoot-out in County Kilkenny.

O’Hare was sent to the high security Portlaoise prison but was later moved to the more relaxed Castlerea jail.

He took a High Court action and was declared a qualifying prisoner under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He has previously been released for short periods.

Observer

Former priest reveals how IRA spurned PM’s compromise deal to save prisoners’ lives in 1981

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday April 30, 2006
The Observer

The Ten who diedMargaret Thatcher offered a compromise deal that would have ended the 1981 hunger strike early and saved six of the remaining prisoners who went on to die, according to the man who maintained a secret link between successive British governments and the Provisionals.

Denis Bradley, the link in Derry for more than two decades between MI5 and the IRA, claims that the IRA leadership had been handed a deal in early July 1981 – which eventually the prisoners did accept, but only after six more of their comrades had starved to death. Bradley’s account contradicts claims by loyal supporters of Gerry Adams that there had been no offer on the table in July that could have ended the hunger strike after four prisoners died.

Last night Richard O’Rawe, the IRA’s spokesman in the H-Blocks at the time of the hunger strike, said Bradley’s recollection of a deal endorsed by Thatcher bolstered his own claim that the external republican leadership vetoed the compromise for electoral gains.

O’Rawe has contended that the July deal was spurned because Sinn Fein and the IRA’s high command believed prolonging the strike would get their candidate Owen Carron elected as MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone in a by-election caused by the death of Bobby Sands.

Bradley reveals the existence of Thatcher’s offer in a two-part documentary on the hunger strike. The former priest and one-time confidant of Martin McGuinness recalls that ‘there was a phone call on a particular night direct to Maggie Thatcher as she was on her way to a conference in Portugal, and the agreement was, and what she was offering that night, was basically what the hunger strikers settled for.’

The deal offered would have met most of the prisoners’ demands. IRA inmates would have been able to wear their own clothes; be segregated from loyalists; work in prison would have been orientated towards education; and the prisoners would get their own parcels from outside.

The demand for free association was not agreed in this offer.

Bradley accepts that there may be some dispute about the offer but adds that the story he heard from others involved in the ‘back channel’ involving MI5 and the IRA was that there was a ‘representative of the republican movement who was in the room, or who was called for to be in the room… that he was there when a phone call was coming through.’

Bradley says this senior republican was not directly offered the deal from Thatcher ‘but she made an offer of doing the settlement basically on the grounds of what was ultimately settled for, and the person who was on the phone, involved in this linkage, said to the person from the republican movement: “I think you have to take this offer. You should take this offer.” And I think the answer was, no, I think it has to be the prisoners who have to make that up and it didn’t happen and it [the hunger strike] went on.’

O’Rawe, author of a controversial book Blanketmen, argues that this offer was agreed by himself and the IRA’s commanding officer in the Maze, Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane. But McFarlane said last year that ‘there was no offer whatsoever’.

The first part of Hunger Strike is broadcast on RTE 1 at 10.15pm on Tuesday and the second part is on 9 May at the same time.

Sunday Life

Stephen Breen
30 April 2006

JOHNNY ‘Mad Dog’ Adair was involved in a bitter clash with Celtic fans after last week’s Old Firm game.

Sunday Life can reveal trouble flared between a small group of Ulster Hoops supporters and Adair (right) in Troon last Sunday.

Fists were thrown when the Celts fans were taunted by Adair’s cronies.

The fight started outside a bar as the fans were waiting to catch the ferry home.

It is believed they walked into a pub where Adair was drinking with his pals.

The exiled loyalist confirmed he had been involved in a row.

Said Adair: “We beat the c*** out of Celtic fans after the Old Firm last Sunday.

“They were slabbering and singing Fenian songs and that’s why we got into them.

“They were taunting me but then they regretted it because they had to run for their lives. This is my patch and they should keep their mouths shut.

“I have good people and security around me in Troon and we’re not going to take any abuse from anyone, including Celtic fans.”

But Martin McManus, spokesman for the William Orr Celtic Supporters Club, played down the incident.

Added Mr McManus: “The information I gotwas that there was a bit of banter between some Celtic fans and Mr Adair about his wife and his dog.

“There were certainly no Celtic fans treated in hospital for any injuries. From what we know, no Celtic fan received a hiding. I spoke to a number of supporters’ clubs and they have no report of any injuries. I think this is a case of someone like Mr Adair flexing his ego.

” The man is an idiot who is hungry for publicity.”

Sunday Life

Stephen Gordon
30 April 2006

THE brave father of a loyalist murder victim has called on the PUP to admit that he was right all along to claim the leader of a gang of UVF killers was an informer.

Raymond McCord says claims by two ex-CID men back up what he has been saying for years about the gang that murdered his son, Raymond jnr, in 1997.

Senior ex-CID men Johnston Brown and Trevor McIlwrath said a Mount Vernon loyalist should have been charged with the murder of Catholic Sharon McKenna (27) in north Belfast in 1993.

But Special Branch intervened and the paid informer and his UVF gang went on to carry out a string of brutal murders.

Mr McCord said: “I want a statement from the PUP admitting that I was right all along.”

Brown and McIlwrath declined to name the UVF man who evaded justice as a Special Branch informer.

But last year, Irish Labour leader Pat Rabbitte used parliamentary privilege to accuse Mark Haddock of being the loyalist who escaped being charged with Sharon McKenna’s murder because he was an informer.

Sunday Life

Duncan Morrow
30 April 2006

LAST week was Community Relations Week and an opportunity for both community and voluntary groups and public bodies to illustrate some of the progress being made in building better relationships as the foundation for a shared future.

With more than 150 events in the programme across Northern Ireland and all district council areas, it was recognition of – and encouragement for – work in progress.

The week’s theme was ‘Building A Shared Future’ – a reference to the Government policy on community relations launched last year.

There are alternatives to a shared future, and we have lived them for decades.

But we should be in no doubt what they involve: killing, expulsion from homes and properties, massive economic destruction and random violence, particularly against the most vulnerable.

Any belief that an alternative to sharing here is consequence-free is not only naive, but dangerous.

If anyone tells you that A Shared Future is social engineering, laugh, and then offer a few observations.

We have been protected from the consequences of our local antagonism by the intervention of massive social engineering.

Communities that were ready to drive, burn or shoot each other out have been ‘stabilised’ by ‘peace walls’ and CCTV.

We have also ensured a minimum degree of public services through duplication – at huge cost to the public purse. But this social engineering in the foothills of polarisation has never really resolved anything.

None of this is to say that things have not got better in the last decade.

But the issue is not just stopping the violence, it is actually changing the fundamental relationships which produce violence.

The work, after the violence has stopped, is all about sharing.

The first requirement is leadership.

It is imperative that we end the ambivalence that is hanging around, that A Shared Future is just rhetoric – cucumber sandwiches for the 21st century.

This means some real decisions by political leaders to embrace the notion that sharing is not a short-term tactic, but a practical and moral necessity. That will mean a willingness to take on vested interests which define progress only in terms of relative benefits for one part of the community.

One of the fears around the restoration of devolution is that local politicians are not yet willing to take on these challenges, as the flak they will take will be from their own voters and interests.

But until we are able to meet these challenges, A Shared Future will be hobbled by being seen as a ‘top-down’ policy.

On the other hand, it is imperative that the British and Irish governments, and all of the international supporters who have invested so much in peace-building here, emphasise that the long-term sustainability of peace depends on just such a commitment – whether devolution is established in the short run or not.

In addition, A Shared Future requires resources to back up the policy commitments and a clear implementation plan.

As a start in this, Lord Rooker last week presented the first Shared Future triennial action plans by Government departments.

At the same conference, the Community Relations Council presented 90 research recommendations for action by Government to deliver on A Shared Future on issues from housing and interfaces to education and flags and emblems.

The Community Relations Council is not responsible for implementing A Shared Future, but it will be monitoring progress and acting as an active partner to those wishing to take steps towards sharing over separation.

Success will be measured by the degree to which hard questions are now addressed and properly resolved through dialogue.

BBC


O’Hare was once the Irish Republic’s most wanted man

The head of victims’ group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives has been questioned by police as he stood outside a house.

Willie Frazer claimed former INLA leader Dessie O’Hare was staying at the house near Newtownhamilton in south Armagh on Saturday.

However, the police said nobody at the address “was wanted for questioning”.

O’Hare was released under the Good Friday Agreement after serving part of a 40-year sentence for kidnapping.

He was recently granted extended temporary release by the Irish Republic’s prison service.

Agreement

O’Hare, originally from County Armagh, was convicted for kidnapping and mutilating the Dublin dentist, John O’Grady, in 1988.

He chopped off bits of two of the dentist’s fingers with a chisel, because a ransom demand had not been paid.

Irish police managed to free Mr O’Grady, but O’Hare escaped before eventually being recaptured after a shoot-out in County Kilkenny.

O’Hare was sent to the high security Portlaoise prison but was later moved to the more relaxed Castlerea jail.

He took a High Court action and was declared a qualifying prisoner under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He has previously been released for short periods.

Sunday Times

**another missed article

Liam Clarke
April 23, 2006

The lowest point in Anna McShane’s life was standing in the driving rain watching a hired excavator dig fruitlessly for her father’s body. “It was complete misery,” she said, recalling the rats and eels around her feet as the search for Charlie Armstrong continued. Her father left his Crossmaglen home in April 1981 to attend mass and was never seen again.

Now McShane and other families of people murdered and secretly buried during the Troubles in Northern Ireland have called on the Irish and British governments to act swiftly on a new report that has raised hopes the bodies may be found.

The scientific expert who compiled the report met members of the IRA and INLA who were involved in the burials and has recommended a number of measures to progress the search, including the use of new equipment.

The new evidence was provided on the basis of guarantees any information revealed, or forensic traces found on the bodies, would not be used for prosecution purposes.

Eleven people are classified as “disappeared” — 10 of them victims of the IRA and one, Seamus Ruddy, murdered and buried in a Paris park by the INLA. The bodies of four other IRA victims have already been recovered. All the missing bodies, with the exception of Ruddy, are believed to be buried in the republic, many of them in bog land.

“All the families hope there will be a new look at all the areas where digs took place in 1999 and 2000,” said Anne Morgan, Ruddy’s sister. “If they do recommence it will be in a more skilful manner. They will be using new imaging equipment to try and pinpoint the bodies before they dig.”

The report was ordered by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains, a joint British-Irish government body. It was delivered to the two governments a fortnight ago having missed previous deadlines in January and March. A Northern Ireland Office spokesperson confirmed that the report had been received. “It contains a number of recommendations which must be considered carefully and which we would want to discuss with the Irish minister for justice,” he said.

McShane and other relatives met Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary, Irish government representatives and Mitchell Reiss, President Bush’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. McShane gave Reiss credit for pressurising the two governments and Sinn Fein to help with the issue. “Both governments and the US authorities have promised we can have any equipment we want,” she said.

Three of the disappeared come from South Armagh and are believed to have been murdered by the IRA even though the organisation has never admitted its involvement.

In addition to McShane’s father, the three include Gerard Evans, who was 24 when last seen hitching a lift between Castleblayney and Crossmaglen on March 27, 1979, and Sean Murphy, who disappeared near Cregganduff in 1986.

McShane, who lives near Crossmaglen, spoke of the culture of fear in the area. She said that nobody had ever admitted any of the South Armagh disappearances. “But there is only the IRA in the area,” she said. “It is not like Belfast where there are different groups. That is why the fear and the oppression is still on the people.

“People wouldn’t even talk about it to this day. ‘Don’t talk, walk away’.”

Vera McVeigh’s son Columba was 17 when last seen alive in October 1975. The IRA initially denied all involvement and she only accepted that he had been murdered when she read their admission in a newspaper. The youth, who had learning difficulties, was branded an informer even though he had never been a member of the IRA.

“It took me 23 and a half years to accept my son was dead,” McVeigh said. “I never believed that the IRA would take a lad of 17 out and shoot him and not notify the parents.”

She added: “I am 82 on June 28 and haven’t many years left. I would like to see Columba buried before I am buried myself.”

Sunday Times

**I missed this article from the 16th

Liam Clarke
16 April 2006

THE family of a Catholic murdered by loyalists in Tyrone in 1987 is demanding a police investigation be re-opened after the terrorist convicted of the killing admitted making a false confession.

Michael Stone, one of loyalism’s most notorious mass murderers, now says he didn’t kill Dermot Hackett, a bread delivery man. The retraction, made in a recent television confrontation between Stone and Hackett’s widow, has been backed up by the detective who investigated the murder.

Hackett was gunned down by a UDA gang as he drove his van between Omagh and Drumquin in May 1987. A year later Stone confessed to the killing while being questioned about another murder case.

He claimed to have leaned out of a car window and fired a sub-machine-gun at Hackett, who was hit 15 times.

Detective Inspector John Lyttle was among the first officers on the scene of the killing. “It was physically impossible to do what Stone said he did. Not just unlikely, physically impossible,” said Lyttle.

“The van was stopped at a corner, possibly by a fake checkpoint. One bullet went through the front windscreen and hit Hackett. He then fell over the passenger seat sideways. The bread van was so high you had to climb up to get into it.

“The door was closed and he was lying as if he was asleep but there was a line of sub- machine-gun bullet holes along his leg and back. There were no bullet holes in the cab of the lorry, so whoever finished him off must have climbed up, put the gun through the window and sprayed him.”

Lee Francis Deery, a local loyalist youth, was convicted of supplying the getaway car. Lyttle said the suspects for the killing were other young loyalists from Tyrone.

“I visited 13 houses, including the home of Eddie Sayers, the local UDA leader, where we recovered documents. I believe the killers stayed in caravans owned by Sayers after the killing,” he said.

Lyttle expressed his reservations to his superiors as soon as Stone confessed. “It was clear he did not know the details of the murder scene but I was refused permission to question him.”

Last month, during a BBC series that brought victims and perpetrators together, Stone admitted he had not been at the scene of the murder though he was in on the planning. “I did everything but pull the trigger.”

Sylvia Hackett plans to meet Lyttle in her quest for the truth.

“I don’t believe [Stone] shot my husband,” she said.

Scotsman

STUART NICOLSON
29 April 2006

A DOG that can sniff out whether fires have been started deliberately has become Scotland’s first four-legged firefighter.

Jay the Border Collie has been trained to detect fire accelerants such as petrol, paraffin and white spirit, which are often used by fire-raisers to maliciously start blazes.

The three-year-old is now being used by Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service to search quickly for evidence of foul play after the flames have been brought under control.

He has even been kitted out with special fire-resistant Kevlar boots to protect his paws when working at the scene of a fire.

Jay received specially adapted training by police dog handlers, who taught him to detect hydrocarbons – present in most flammable liquids – instead of drugs.

His nose is so sensitive that police say he can pick out a fire-raiser from a group of people by smelling tiny traces of match sulphur on their clothes.

Douglas Dick, station officer at the brigade’s Falkirk HQ, said that he was confident the dog would prove a valuable weapon in the fight against arsonists.

He added: “Jay can search large areas for evidence of things like petrol or paraffin in a matter of minutes when it would have taken a team of human officers several hours in the past.

“His sense of smell is 1,000 times stronger than ours, so he can detect suspicious substances from quite a distance away.

“If petrol has been poured through the letterbox before a house fire, for example, Jay will spot it immediately,” he said.

“He then sits down next to the substance he has found and waits for his handler to take a sample of it for analysis.” Mr Dick said the fire brigade was keen to ensure Jay was properly protected – like ordinary human firefighters.

“We have issued him with special boots to protect his paws because the ground at a fire scene can obviously be hot and covered in broken glass.

“He doesn’t like the boots much, but I wouldn’t allow any of my other officers to enter a fire scene without the proper protection – and Jay is no different. He’s a really friendly dog and the guys love having him around. Jay is the first fire dog in Scotland, and I know several other brigades are watching him with interest.”

Jay was intended for a mountain rescue team before enlisting with the fire service. He now lives with handler Trevor Lynch, who has been a retained firefighter at Larbert for 14 years.

Mr Lynch said Jay would also be used to educate youngsters about the dangers of deliberately starting fires.

He said: “There were 209 wilful fire-raising incidents in the brigade area last year which caused £3.3 million damage.

“The target group for tackling wilful fire-raising is normally from the age of 11 to 17 years old. One of the things we will be doing is going to schools with Jay to educate pupils about the dangers of deliberately starting fires.”

Sunday Times

**another missed article

Liam Clarke
April 23, 2006

The lowest point in Anna McShane’s life was standing in the driving rain watching a hired excavator dig fruitlessly for her father’s body. “It was complete misery,” she said, recalling the rats and eels around her feet as the search for Charlie Armstrong continued. Her father left his Crossmaglen home in April 1981 to attend mass and was never seen again.

Now McShane and other families of people murdered and secretly buried during the Troubles in Northern Ireland have called on the Irish and British governments to act swiftly on a new report that has raised hopes the bodies may be found.

The scientific expert who compiled the report met members of the IRA and INLA who were involved in the burials and has recommended a number of measures to progress the search, including the use of new equipment.

The new evidence was provided on the basis of guarantees any information revealed, or forensic traces found on the bodies, would not be used for prosecution purposes.

Eleven people are classified as “disappeared” — 10 of them victims of the IRA and one, Seamus Ruddy, murdered and buried in a Paris park by the INLA. The bodies of four other IRA victims have already been recovered. All the missing bodies, with the exception of Ruddy, are believed to be buried in the republic, many of them in bog land.

“All the families hope there will be a new look at all the areas where digs took place in 1999 and 2000,” said Anne Morgan, Ruddy’s sister. “If they do recommence it will be in a more skilful manner. They will be using new imaging equipment to try and pinpoint the bodies before they dig.”

The report was ordered by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains, a joint British-Irish government body. It was delivered to the two governments a fortnight ago having missed previous deadlines in January and March. A Northern Ireland Office spokesperson confirmed that the report had been received. “It contains a number of recommendations which must be considered carefully and which we would want to discuss with the Irish minister for justice,” he said.

McShane and other relatives met Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary, Irish government representatives and Mitchell Reiss, President Bush’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. McShane gave Reiss credit for pressurising the two governments and Sinn Fein to help with the issue. “Both governments and the US authorities have promised we can have any equipment we want,” she said.

Three of the disappeared come from South Armagh and are believed to have been murdered by the IRA even though the organisation has never admitted its involvement.

In addition to McShane’s father, the three include Gerard Evans, who was 24 when last seen hitching a lift between Castleblayney and Crossmaglen on March 27, 1979, and Sean Murphy, who disappeared near Cregganduff in 1986.

McShane, who lives near Crossmaglen, spoke of the culture of fear in the area. She said that nobody had ever admitted any of the South Armagh disappearances. “But there is only the IRA in the area,” she said. “It is not like Belfast where there are different groups. That is why the fear and the oppression is still on the people.

“People wouldn’t even talk about it to this day. ‘Don’t talk, walk away’.”

Vera McVeigh’s son Columba was 17 when last seen alive in October 1975. The IRA initially denied all involvement and she only accepted that he had been murdered when she read their admission in a newspaper. The youth, who had learning difficulties, was branded an informer even though he had never been a member of the IRA.

“It took me 23 and a half years to accept my son was dead,” McVeigh said. “I never believed that the IRA would take a lad of 17 out and shoot him and not notify the parents.”

She added: “I am 82 on June 28 and haven’t many years left. I would like to see Columba buried before I am buried myself.”

Sunday Times

**I missed this article from the 16th

Liam Clarke
16 April 2006

THE family of a Catholic murdered by loyalists in Tyrone in 1987 is demanding a police investigation be re-opened after the terrorist convicted of the killing admitted making a false confession.

Michael Stone, one of loyalism’s most notorious mass murderers, now says he didn’t kill Dermot Hackett, a bread delivery man. The retraction, made in a recent television confrontation between Stone and Hackett’s widow, has been backed up by the detective who investigated the murder.

Hackett was gunned down by a UDA gang as he drove his van between Omagh and Drumquin in May 1987. A year later Stone confessed to the killing while being questioned about another murder case.

He claimed to have leaned out of a car window and fired a sub-machine-gun at Hackett, who was hit 15 times.

Detective Inspector John Lyttle was among the first officers on the scene of the killing. “It was physically impossible to do what Stone said he did. Not just unlikely, physically impossible,” said Lyttle.

“The van was stopped at a corner, possibly by a fake checkpoint. One bullet went through the front windscreen and hit Hackett. He then fell over the passenger seat sideways. The bread van was so high you had to climb up to get into it.

“The door was closed and he was lying as if he was asleep but there was a line of sub- machine-gun bullet holes along his leg and back. There were no bullet holes in the cab of the lorry, so whoever finished him off must have climbed up, put the gun through the window and sprayed him.”

Lee Francis Deery, a local loyalist youth, was convicted of supplying the getaway car. Lyttle said the suspects for the killing were other young loyalists from Tyrone.

“I visited 13 houses, including the home of Eddie Sayers, the local UDA leader, where we recovered documents. I believe the killers stayed in caravans owned by Sayers after the killing,” he said.

Lyttle expressed his reservations to his superiors as soon as Stone confessed. “It was clear he did not know the details of the murder scene but I was refused permission to question him.”

Last month, during a BBC series that brought victims and perpetrators together, Stone admitted he had not been at the scene of the murder though he was in on the planning. “I did everything but pull the trigger.”

Sylvia Hackett plans to meet Lyttle in her quest for the truth.

“I don’t believe [Stone] shot my husband,” she said.

Scotsman

STUART NICOLSON
29 April 2006

A DOG that can sniff out whether fires have been started deliberately has become Scotland’s first four-legged firefighter.

Jay the Border Collie has been trained to detect fire accelerants such as petrol, paraffin and white spirit, which are often used by fire-raisers to maliciously start blazes.

The three-year-old is now being used by Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service to search quickly for evidence of foul play after the flames have been brought under control.

He has even been kitted out with special fire-resistant Kevlar boots to protect his paws when working at the scene of a fire.

Jay received specially adapted training by police dog handlers, who taught him to detect hydrocarbons – present in most flammable liquids – instead of drugs.

His nose is so sensitive that police say he can pick out a fire-raiser from a group of people by smelling tiny traces of match sulphur on their clothes.

Douglas Dick, station officer at the brigade’s Falkirk HQ, said that he was confident the dog would prove a valuable weapon in the fight against arsonists.

He added: “Jay can search large areas for evidence of things like petrol or paraffin in a matter of minutes when it would have taken a team of human officers several hours in the past.

“His sense of smell is 1,000 times stronger than ours, so he can detect suspicious substances from quite a distance away.

“If petrol has been poured through the letterbox before a house fire, for example, Jay will spot it immediately,” he said.

“He then sits down next to the substance he has found and waits for his handler to take a sample of it for analysis.” Mr Dick said the fire brigade was keen to ensure Jay was properly protected – like ordinary human firefighters.

“We have issued him with special boots to protect his paws because the ground at a fire scene can obviously be hot and covered in broken glass.

“He doesn’t like the boots much, but I wouldn’t allow any of my other officers to enter a fire scene without the proper protection – and Jay is no different. He’s a really friendly dog and the guys love having him around. Jay is the first fire dog in Scotland, and I know several other brigades are watching him with interest.”

Jay was intended for a mountain rescue team before enlisting with the fire service. He now lives with handler Trevor Lynch, who has been a retained firefighter at Larbert for 14 years.

Mr Lynch said Jay would also be used to educate youngsters about the dangers of deliberately starting fires.

He said: “There were 209 wilful fire-raising incidents in the brigade area last year which caused £3.3 million damage.

“The target group for tackling wilful fire-raising is normally from the age of 11 to 17 years old. One of the things we will be doing is going to schools with Jay to educate pupils about the dangers of deliberately starting fires.”

Belfast Telegraph

By Brian Hutton
28 April 2006

The epic debate over the name of Northern Ireland’s second largest city is to be decided once and for all by a High Court Judge, it was announced today.

Mr Justice Weatherup, granting leave in the High Court for an application by Derry City Council to have the city’s name determined, said the issue was “loaded with history, conflict and debate”.

Significantly, the Department of the Environment (DOE), representing the Government, welcomed a legal resolution to the contentious matter.

Appearing for the DoE, Bernard McCloskey said the Government is entirely neutral as to the outcome. “It’s a pure question of law”, he said. Mr McCloskey vowed that the DoE would participate in a “non-contentious and non-hostile manner” and give its “full co-operation” to the court.

“It has been a difficult question for a number of decades”, he added.

Michael Lavery QC, representing Derry City Council, outlined three key issues it is seeking declarations on:

Is there a separate legal entity known as Londonderry at all?

Has that entity, if it exists, been absorbed into Derry City Council and is it now known as Derry City?

Has the functions of the corporate entity Londonderry City been absorbed by Derry City Council?

Derry City Council now has 14 days to set out its arguments and serve papers on the High Court, formally requesting a legal determination on the matter. The DOE will have six weeks from then to respond with an affidavit setting out its views. The case will be heard again on June 29.

In an anecdotal aside, Mr Justice Weatherup said a visiting friend of his from Geneva was recently confused about why the city was referred to Derry and Londonderry on some maps.

The judge said it gave him considerable difficulty attempting to explain the situation to his French-speaking friend.

“Maybe I’ll send him this judgment, whoever writes it”, he quipped.

Daily Ireland

Here’s the thing – and, forgive me, but there’s no other way of putting this: the hoods who are wrecking the streets and homes and cars in the shadow of the famous old Divis Tower are already working for the Trevors

Robin Livingstone
28/04/2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe PSNI sent a van out round the Lower Falls this week towing one of those portable ad hoarding-type thingies. The message on the board read: “Rat on the rats.” At the same time, a bunch of Trevors went round the doors posting letters.
Before we go into the details of the letter, I have to reveal that I have written a letter of my own, to the Guinness Book of Records no less, nominating this as the most expensive maildrop in the history of modern communications. My local residents’ association did a maildrop recently and paid a handful of young fellas a few quid to spend a couple of hours in the evening doing the needful. Quite why these letters had to be hand-delivered by a battalion of highly-paid and well-armed officers is not entirely clear to me – perhaps they managed to glean some low-grade intelligence as they went – lay-out of hall and living room, existence of security measures, nature of pictures on the wall, that sort of thing. Let’s hope so. Hate to think they went to all that expense for so little.
Anyway, the letters enable local people to do what the ad behind the van told them: “Rat on the rats.” It urged them to write down in the space provided the names and addresses of any young people known to be engaged in anti-social behaviour in the locality so that they can be hit with Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs). This is a splendid idea, of course.
Allowing harassed householders to shop the young thugs who are making their lives a misery, and to do it anonymously, is clearly an excellent idea, but, as ever, it’s so much more complicated than that.
Here’s the thing – and, forgive me, but there’s no other way of putting this: the hoods who are wrecking the streets and homes and cars in the shadow of the famous old Divis Tower are already working for the Trevors.
Now listen, bear with me on this. You think I’m just saying that because I don’t like the PSNI and that I’m forever trying to score a cheap point at their expense. This is all true, I freely admit it. But I didn’t find out that the hoods in the Lower Falls are in the pay of the PSNI by stumbling across some secret documents or because one of them admitted to it while hanging upside down in a cattleshed in Co Louth. I found out about it because an officer said it on a radio programme. I should know, I was on the radio programme with him when he said it.
So I think local people should knock up a letter of their own and deliver it to Grosvenor Road barracks – what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and all that. They could demand to see the list of Lower Falls death drivers, drug dealers, burglars, knife-merchants and general all-round ne’er-do-wells who are effectively PSNI reservists and who will never feel a hand on their collar of their short-sleeved checked Ben Shermans or have bread and water for breakfast on Christmas morning.

BBC

The police said they are treating attacks on buildings in a County Derry village as sectarian.

Windows were smashed in a hotel, houses and a car during the trouble at Main Street in Garvagh in the early hours of Saturday.

There are no reports of any injuries. Two men were arrested. One has since been released on police bail.

Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard said an asthmatic girl was living in one of the houses which were attacked.

“Purely and simply because they are easy targets, people can come along, damage their car, break their windows, so obviously they are very distressed,” Mr Leonard said.

“Can you image that person, who had a serious asthmatic attack in recent months, being wakened up to the sound of breaking glass and shouting thugs?”

Meanwhile, in Derry 25 people were involved in clashes on the Glendermott Road at about 0215 BST. One man was arrested.

The crowd involved in both incidents dispersed when the police arrived.

Police in Derry would like witnesses to contact them.

BBC


There was rioting in Dublin city centre

Two men have been arrested in connection with rioting in Dublin during a loyalist parade, Irish police have said.

The men, aged 19 and 20 years, were both arrested in Dun Laoghaire, a port outside Dublin on Saturday.

Trouble broke out on 25 February after republican protestors tried to stop a Love Ulster rally to remember the victims of republican violence.

A Garda press officer said the men were being detained at Store Street station.

During the trouble, Irish police and youths fought pitched battles along O’Connell Street and 41 people were arrested.

The rioting saw 21 Garda officers injured.

Retailers claimed they lost 10m euro in sales after shoppers fled the area.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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