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31/08/2006 – 15:27:51
There was no delay in telling gardaí about new information about a suspect terrorist device planted in the Mansion House over 25 years ago, the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell insisted today.
Mr McDowell said his department first received the information 48 hours ago but an Army team only began a search of the Lord Mayor of Dublin’s official residence this morning.
Members of the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) today claimed in a newspaper interview that a bomb was concealed in a fire extinguisher above the platform at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis conference at the venue in 1981.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Vincent Jackson, his wife and the house steward were evacuated last night from one of the capital’s best known buildings.
Gardaí erected a police cordon around the building at 9am today and a specialist Army search team entered.
Mr McDowell today admitted he first learned of the information 48 hours ago but he passed it on immediately to the Garda.
“It was taken seriously immediately and steps were taken to find out exactly what the information amounted to.
“Specific information was then handed by me to the Garda Siochana and they were in a position to act on foot of it.
“There has been no delay, no delay in acting on foot of this information.
Police asked to appear at an inquiry into the murder of a County Armagh man fear their lives are at risk if they are identified, a court has heard.
The claim was made by a barrister representing 20 ex-officers called as witnesses at the inquiry into the 1987 killing of Robert Hamill in Portadown.
The officers began a legal challenge after the inquiry ruled they could not give their evidence anonymously.
The High Court challenge has led to the inquiry being indefinitely postponed.
The officers have requested to be screened and known only by an initial while giving their evidence.
Their barrister said to deny his client’s this level of anonymity was a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Mr Hamill, a 25-year-old Catholic, died in hospital after being attacked by a loyalist mob in Portadown in 1997. No-one has been convicted over his death.
Police have denied eye witness claims that four RUC officers in a Land Rover saw what was happening and failed to intervene.
The inquiry into Mr Hamill’s death, chaired by retired judge Sir Edwin Jowitt, was recommended by ex-judge Peter Cory, who was tasked to probe alleged collusion.
It was set up to determine if police committed any wrongful act or omission.
Speaking outside the court, solicitor Barra McGrory, who is representing the Hamill family, said he was “mystified” as to why the police would want anonymity as none had been given at the original murder trial.
He was referring to the Crown Court case in 1999 when a man was acquitted of the murder but convicted of affray and jailed for four years.
The inquiry had originally been scheduled to begin hearings in Belfast on 5 September.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin’s official residence has been evacuated by police during a security alert.
It follows UVF claims to the Belfast Telegraph that they left a device at the Mansion House in 1981 during Sinn Fein’s annual conference.
Lord Mayor Vincent Jackson was told on Wednesday evening to leave because of the alert. Surrounding streets have not been cordoned off during the searches.
Army bomb disposal experts have been concentrating on the roof area.
Nothing has been found as yet.
Gardai would not officially confirm reports that the searches were linked to a UVF claim that 25 years ago, they planted a device in the Dawson Street building which failed to explode.
Sinn Fein Dublin MEP Mary-Lou McDonald said it was “somewhat bizarre”.
“If there is a device in the Mansion House, it’s not the first time that the UVF have planted bombs in the city,” she said.
(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)
The Orange Order on Tuesday denied that paramilitaries will be allowed to take part in a “monster rally” planned for Drumcree next month.
Portadown Orangemen have filed for a parade and rally at Drumcree Hill on Saturday September 23 to mark 3,000 days of protests against not being allowed to march along the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road since 1998.
Portadown spokesman David Jones said he expected thousands of Orangemen and loyalists from across the north to attend the rally.
Nationalists last night questioned the potential damage that the rally would have on community relations in Portadown and highlighted a similar parade in west Belfast last September after which the security forces came under gun and blast bomb attack from loyalists.
At that time Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde insisted that the Orange Order could not disassociate itself from the violence.
However, Mr Jones insisted no paramilitaries would be allowed to be involved in next month’s rally.
“We don’t anticipate any kind of trouble and will be appealing for calm,” he said.
“Paramilitaries will not be involved in any shape or form.
“The paramilitaries know they are not needed in Portadown.”
Mr Jones said he expected 800 Orangemen and at least three bands to take part in the parade from Carlton Street in Portadown town centre to the rally at Drumcree Hill.
He said that Orangemen and loyalists from across the north had been invited to attend, although there would be no attempt to parade back from Drumcree along the contentious Garvaghy Road route.
However, Garvaghy Road residents’ spokesman Brendan Mac Cionnaith questioned the effect the “monster rally” would have on community relations in Portadown.
“It is regrettable that the Orange Order has decided to recommence its street protests over Drumcree,” he said.
“It is slightly ominous that Orangemen from right across the six counties are being encouraged to attend this monster rally.
“We do not see how bringing thousands of loyalists out on to the streets will help to improve community relations in Portadown.
“Nationalists will simply view it as an act of intimidation.”
Mr Mac Cionnaith highlighted the fact that the main speaker at the rally will be the area’s MP, DUP assembly member David Simpson.
“Nationalists will question whether this rally is about marking 3,000 days of protests at Drumcree or is actually a DUP plan to increase political tensions ahead of attempts to restore devolution at Stormont in November,” he said.
Mr Mac Cionnaith said nationalists had concerns that the parade would pass St John’s Catholic Church as parishioners attended evening Mass.
August 31, 2006
This article appeared first in the August 30, 2006 edition of the Irish News.
The only outstanding issue facing Northern Ireland’s politicians is whether Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists will form a power sharing executive.
30 August 2006
That is the view of Sinn Fein`s Alex Maskey who made the claim as speculation mounted that Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will host Leeds Castle-style hothouse talks with the parties in Scotland or England in October.
The Sinn Fein Assembly member Alex Maskey said his party was willing and ready to share power with the DUP.
He also stressed Sinn Fein`s difficulties over policing in Northern Ireland could only be resolved if there were fully functioning political institutions.
The South Belfast Assembly member said: “The only party opposed to the restoration of the political institutions is the DUP.
“That needs to be the focus of the two governments in the run up to their November 24 deadline (for devolution).
“Other outstanding matters such as policing can only be resolved in the context of functioning political institutions.
“The format and venue of any future engagement is a minor issue. The reality is that the political negotiations have already happened. The only remaining issue to be resolved is anti-Agreement stance of Ian Paisley and his party.
“The DUP has a stark choice. They can either come to terms with current political realities, or the process of change will move on without them.”
Mr Maskey was responding to Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey`s call on both governments not to waste public money on talks at an English or Scottish country estate with the parties.
Officials in London and Dublin have been looking at possible venues and are believed to be considering holding the talks on October 9 or 10 on the back of another IRA and loyalist paramilitary ceasefire assessment from the Independent Monitoring Commission.
The province`s politicians have until November 24 to decide whether they can form a power sharing executive.
However, there is not much optimism that the deadline will be met.
The DUP has warned Mr Blair and Mr Ahern it will not be bounced into government with Sinn Fein by the deadline.
It will instead base any decision on whether there is proof that the IRA has abandoned its criminality and paramilitarism for good.
Senior DUP figures have also insisted Sinn Fein must also publicly back the Police Service of Northern Ireland and urge its supporters to engage with the police if it is to be a credible partner in government.
Thursday, August 31
THE DUP and Sinn Fein were last night locked in a row over law and order which suggests a devolution deal by November 24 is unlikely.
MLAs from the two parties clashed during a meeting of the Preparation for Government Committee which was discussing decommissioning and criminality and paramilitary activity.
The argument was sparked when Sinn Fein rejected a series of motions tabled by the DUP supporting the police and
Afterwards, DUP MLA Ian Paisley Jnr said: “These are the people that want to be in government tomorrow but won’t agree to the upholding of the law of the land.
“This is further proof that republicans remain totally unfit for office and have a lot to do to make themselves fit for ministerial positions.”
Sinn Fein responded by saying it was the DUP that had to come up to the mark – on power-sharing.
“They are the only remaining blockage to restoring the political institutions,” said Alex Maskey.
“Other outstanding matters such as policing can only be
resolved in the context of functioning political institutions.”
* were unwilling to support the PSNI
* rejected the idea of naming and shaming individuals and organisations involved in drug dealing, and
* refused to support the call for an inventory of the material decommissioned by the IRA to be made public.
In a joint statement after the PFG meeting, MP Sammy
Wilson and MLAs Mr Paisley and Peter Weir said republicans were the real blockage to the return of devolution.
“Support for the police and the rule of law in Northern Ireland are clearly fundamental requirements for any democratic society,” they said.
“While Sinn Fein were prepared to spout the rhetoric of
opposition to criminality and the blight it is on society (during the PFG meeting], they were not prepared to take the steps necessary to eradicate it.
“Their so-called opposition to crime rings hollow when it is not combined with a call for people to report crime and support the police.
“Once again this demonstrates that Sinn Fein have still some distance to travel before they can be considered to be fit for government.
“Opposition to support for the rule of law is incompatible with the holding of ministerial office, and it is clear that Sinn Fein will have to address some serious issues before they can hope to take up a place in any future Executive.”
SDLP Policing spokesman Alex Attwood admitted “major differences” around issues of law, order and justice remained but insisted there had been some “surprising agreement”.
All parties on the committee welcomed the agreement that there would be a single justice ministry and agreed that the shape and model of the new ministry needed to be worked through by the parties “collectively”, he said.
“If this good work can be built on by the parties talking and negotiating together, more progress might be made.”
By Claire Regan
31 August 2006
Belfast singer Brian Kennedy last night threw his support behind plans to establish a museum to remember all those who died in Ulster during the Troubles.
The renowned singer-songwriter and author said he believed a ‘living memorial museum’ being planned by the Healing Through Remembering (HTR) community project would help encourage reconciliation.
Brian joined Alan McBride, who lost wife Sharon and father-in-law Desmond Frizzell in the 1993 IRA Shankill bombing, at HTR’s office on Ormeau Avenue in Belfast yesterday to call for people to come forward with ideas on the type of museum.
HTR launched in 2001 to look at ways of dealing with the past conflict, has been hosting workshops to gauge feeling on how best to develop a museum.
Suggestions gathered so far include a mobile tent museum which would travel around the country in spring and summer, a garden memorial and a conventional museum with travelling exhibitions.
Mr Kennedy urged people to “raise their voices” with ideas.
“Few people in Northern Ireland have not been affected in some way by the conflict. One of the only ways to move forward is to look backwards first,” he said.
“You cannot heal properly until you find out what the cause of the disease. Our message is about coexistence and respect. We want to look at what happened and put it in a calm existence, like a museum.”
Mr Kennedy, who grew up in the Falls area of west Belfast, said: “My voice is what rescued me from the world that I lived in. And now we want to hear your voice. We are open to every idea that comes in.”
He said his own personal choice would have to involve song and music “because that is my personal medium”.
Mr McBride, who chairs the HTR Living Memorial Museum sub-group, said there were many options to think about.
“Should a museum be in a new building or an existing one? Should it be in one building or should it tour a number of places and sites? It could maybe even have a virtual existence.
“There were around 3,500 people killed during the conflict, of which my wife was one.
“For me, I see this project as keeping the memories of the past alive and helping to ensure lessons are learned for the future. The educational element helps future generations to understand the conflict as they remember those killed, injured and bereaved.”
For information on submitting look up healingthroughremembering.org on the internet or telephone 02890 238844.
There will be a workshop at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast from 2-5pm on September 7.
Belfast Telegraph Crime Correspondent Jonathan McCambridge assesses the impact of the Johnston affair
31 August 2006
The probe into alleged money laundering threatened to embrace the worlds of business, politics and paramilitaries.
In April last year police carried out an array of high-profile raids – creating the impression that a house of cards was about to fall.
The first arrest was ex-UDA godfather Jim Gray. Just days after he was ousted as a “brigadier”, he was arrested and charged with possessing and concealing criminal property.
While there was little shock in Gray’s, arrest days later came the bombshell arrest of a businessman. Philip Johnston, who ran a chain of estate agents employing 40 staff, was charged with money laundering and spent several days in custody.
Police opposed his first bail application because, they claimed, he “may obstruct the course of justice”. The probe widened further when detectives searched the premises of UUP MLA Michael Copeland. No charges followed this operation.
The raids were linked to a probe into alleged money laundering. Any trial based on charges against a UDA boss and a respected estate agent would have been one of the most spectacular in Ulster’s legal history – had it ever happened.
Gray was murdered in east Belfast. The case against Johnston continued. Then yesterday, all charges were dropped.
Police last night refused to comment but the decision is a blow to its prestige.
Significant resources were deployed, and if there is to be no end product, senior officers can expect uncomfortable questions from the Policing Board.
Bomb would have killed republican leadership
By Brian Rowan
31 August 2006
The UVF planned to “wipe out” the republican leadership in a Dublin bomb attack just weeks after the ending of the 1981 hunger strike.
That remarkable claim – 25 years after the event – comes in an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph, in which the loyalist group said it had passed details on the planned bombing to the Irish government in recent days.
The UVF also warned it could not rule out that remnants of the bomb could still be in place in one of Dublin’s best-known buildings.
According to the UVF’s most senior leaders, a bomb was concealed close to the platform at the 1981 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis at the Mansion House in Dublin, but the device “malfunctioned”.
The party conference is remembered for Danny Morrison’s Armalite and ballot box speech.
“The UVF saw the hunger strike at that time as an extension of the IRA’s campaign – its war against the State,” one of the loyalist leaders told this newspaper.
“The IRA probably thought it was going to be their finest hour . . . it was almost our finest hour,” he claimed.
He said a UVF unit was “dispatched to wipe out the whole leadership” of the republican movement.
“At the time, unfortunately, that device failed to go (explode). It was placed very near the platform party and timed to go off as keynote speeches were about to be delivered,” he added.
In the interview in Belfast, the UVF claimed the bomb was in a fire extinguisher and was concealed in a ceiling above the Ard Fheis platform.
And it further claimed to have passed details on the planned attack to the Irish government “through the usual conduit” within the past week.
On what happened to the bomb, one of the UVF leaders present yesterday offered the following explanation.
“There are several theories on what may or may not have happened.
“First of all, it could have been discovered and not announced.
“Secondly, it could have been removed (but) not in the knowledge of what it was. And, thirdly, as pointed out, it could still be there.”
He continued: “There are people still within the realms of the UVF that know that that bomb was constructed and it was taken to Dublin and it was left there.
“I suppose if push came to shove it could certainly be almost proved that the event did take place.”
There is speculation, yet to be confirmed, that the reason for the passing of information to the Irish government was to try to get an assurance that if anything is found there will be no follow-up action against the UVF.
That organisation and the closely linked Red Hand Commando will make a declaration on future intentions if a devolved government is achieved by the November 24 political deadline.
The loyalist leadership says it believes that the “Provo war is finished”, and it says there is no threat from the UVF to Raymond McCord or any journalist.
The British and Irish governments were last night urged to bin plans to hold an intense Leeds Castle-style talks session for northern politicians later this year.
Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey issued the appeal following speculation that parties will be locked away in a country house in Scotland or England for a round of discussions aimed at breaking the political deadlock over power-sharing in October.
Mr Blair and Mr Ahern have given the North’s politicians a November 24 deadline to agree to share power.
Mr Empey claimed another attempt to have a hothouse round of talks outside of the North would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.
The East Belfast Assembly member said: “The cost of hiring the venue, the associated security, flying over, accommodating and feeding a large number of Assembly members and staff is astronomical and a chronic waste of public expenditure.
“The big house spectacular summit may have worked in the past in terms of the optics and trying to generate a pressure cooker environment but in reality they achieved little.
“Can anyone in Northern Ireland name one big house summit where a breakthrough was made?
“The answer is no. The contrary is true.
“Castle Buildings, Stormont and Hillsborough Castle have been places where meaningful progress has been made in the past.”
In September 2004 the British and Irish governments held talks in Leeds Castle in Kent in a bid to bridge the gap between the Reverend Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin over power-sharing.
An agreement was not reached, although Mr Blair and Mr Ahern insisted progress had been made.
Three months later, Sinn Féin and the DUP failed to make further headway in discussions involving them and the two governments.
The Ulster Unionist leader said he had already told the governments not to go down the road of another big summit.
Ex-INLA leader McGlinchey’s son denies ‘Provo-bashing’ forum
By Connla Young
A well-known republican has outlined the reasons behind the cancellation of a political forum, claiming the event was “hijacked” by elements with no connection to the proceedings.
Dominic McGlinchey, a son of the former INLA leader of the same name, says his decision to speak out was prompted after several days of “reckless and dangerous” media speculation on the event in Toome, Co Antrim, which was to include “a broad section of republican opinion”.
Speaking to Daily Ireland yesterday, 29-year-old Mr McGlinchey from Co Derry, said the event was “hijacked by people who had no input whatsoever into organising it”. He also dismissed media reports claiming the well-publicised meeting was organised to debate forming a military strategy.
“A lot of the speculation has been very wreckless and dangerous. This meeting was not arranged to debate forming a military strategy,” he said.
“It was intended to be a meeting of political minds. The meeting was about the coming together of a broad section of republican opinion, to either agree or disagree. It wasn’t meant to be about Provo or Sinn Féin bashing.”
Mr McGlinchey also hit out at the implication that the meeting was to be a platform for dissident opinion.
“It was made clear to everyone who was invited that Sinn Féin are the main players within republicanism and without them being present at the meeting there was no point in it taking place.
“I wasn’t pressurised by the provisional movement into cancelling it. This was intended to be one in a series of meetings arranged to analyse our past. It was about what has taken place over the last 30 years and the last 600 years.
“It was intended to be about what have we learned from Connolly and Costello, who talked about having an umbrella where no one was marginalised.”
Reports in several weekend newspapers speculated that a large number of individuals in south Derry were moving away from mainstream republicanism.
A former member of Sinn Féin, Mr McGlinchey says he is not aware of any split within the ranks of that party in south Derry.
Despite claims to the contrary, Mr McGlinchey insists no political or paramilitary organisation was invited to the cancelled meeting.
“Only individuals were invited to attend this meeting, people were invited as individuals, including members of Sinn Féin. There was to be no top table, just one chairman who would have directed the debate.
“At the minute republicanism is fragmented but we are all after the same goal. We want a united Ireland and we all want a better society than that endured by our fathers and mothers.
“In the end, with the way things went, the meeting would have divided republicans rather than united them and the meeting was cancelled for that very reason.
“To divide republicans would have been to go against the original objectives.”
29 August 2006
A former police informant who claims that advanced warnings of the Omagh bomb were ignored has indicated he is prepared to stand as a defence witness in the trial of the man accused of 1998 atrocity.
Former IRA bombmaker Kevin Fulton may now provide evidence which could cast doubt on prosecution claims that Sean Hoey was the only person capable of making that bomb.
The prosecution of Hoey is due to open on September 6 in Belfast.
Fulton told a Sunday newspaper that he would be happy to appear as a witness at the trial, if subpoenaed.
He is understood to have met Hoey’s solicitor Peter Corrigan, at the London offices of British Irish Rights Watch, a human rights group.
Hoey, 36, from Jonesborough, south Armagh, has been returned for trial for the murders of 29 people killed in the 1998 Real IRA atrocity, including Buncrana schoolchildren Sean McLaughlin, Oran Doherty and James Barker. He denies all 61 terrorist and explosive charges against him.
Fulton has told police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan that he warned his police handler that he had seen another bombmaker, referred to as Man A, mixing explosives shortly before the Omagh bombing.
There have been repeated suggestions that Man A, who now lives in Newry, was also an informant and was protected by the authorities. Similar suspicions surround another Real IRA bombmaker who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the blast, said he would have no objection to Fulton being called as a defence witness.
“I would like Hoey to have the best possible defence because if he is convicted the verdict will be all the safer for that. I don’t want a verdict where there is doubt. So if there are any doors that his defence team want to kick open, I certainly have no objection.
“Fulton is free to do whatever he thinks fit and I will not fall out with him. He was the first to open the door on Omagh; he let us know a lot more than we would otherwise have known.”
By Connla Young
The erection and removal of loyalist arches is costing the economy thousands of pounds each year, a Co Antrim businessman has claimed.
The Glengormley-based businessman, who has asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, has said the closure of roads while arches are erected and taken down in the summer months results in a significant loss of trade each year.
The businessman was speaking just days after loyalists in Glengormley, on the outskirts of north Belfast, removed an arch from the town centre. The operation involved the PSNI closing local roads without warning while heavy lifting equipment was brought in.
“We don’t receive any notification at all. They just decide to close roads and none of the businesses are told. This happens every year and it caused major problems.
“We are trying to create a night-time economy in Glengormley but the town is sealed off for hours on end. Many people are left with staff who have nothing to do. We can’t even send them home as they can’t get out of the area.
“I’m not able to get any money back because of the loss of business. No one lets us know — not the police or the Orange Order. They don’t even let the local chamber of commerce know what’s happening,” he said.
The businessman said the erection of loyalist flags in the Glengormley district had a negative impact on business.
“Last year, they took down the flags and that was brilliant. This year, they have been left up and it doesn’t help the image of the town. Everybody uses Glengormley but these flags are negative and they put some people off coming to the town.”
29 August 2006
MOVES TO unite dissident republican groups are being viewed as “a real threat”, the Irish government has warned.
It has been reported that members of the Real IRA, Continuity IRA, INLA and recent dissidents from the Provisional IRA are due to attend a meeting in Co. Derry this evening.
However, the ‘Journal’ has learned that the mooted meeting may not now go ahead after details of it were published in a Sunday newspaper.
An INLA source said there was anger among its ranks at the tone of the report carried on the front page of the ‘Sunday Tribune’.
It stated that recently-defected Provisionals would join with Real IRA and Continuity IRA activists in a bid to challenge the peace process “politically and militarily”.
But the INLA source said: “This gives the impression we are to discuss military options. But as far as we’re concerned, this is a distortion of what the meeting was to be about. “The meeting was to be an internal, not a public meeting and was to include members of the IRSP, 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Republican Sinn Fein, Provisional IRA and others. It was being held to look at the whole of republicanism –where it is today and where we are going?”
In response to the newspaper reports, an Irish government spokesman made it clear the latest developments were viewed very seriously and would be closely monitored by security forces in the Republic and the North.
He said dissident republican groups have made various efforts to “get their act together” and this has been, and will continue to be, monitored very closely.
“The Independent Monitoring Commission and the two governments made clear their view that dissident republican organisations represent a real threat,” he said.
But he warned that the governments and the security authorities will continue to address any threat posed by those groups.
It’s reported that tonight’s meeting has been organised in Derry in an effort to capitalise on a split in the Provisional IRA South Derry Brigade.
Up to 40 members are said to have quit because of disillusionment with the strategy adopted in the peace process.
Death threats have been issued to the seven people charged over the death of Ballymena teenager Michael McIlveen, the High Court has heard.
Michael McIlveen died after being attacked in Ballymena
The revelation was made by a Crown lawyer in a case involving the only defendant to be granted bail.
The 16-year-old juvenile was accused of fighting and causing an affray before the 15-year-old was murdered last May.
His application to get bail revoked was granted as he could no longer live with his grandparents for domestic reasons.
The boy had been released earlier this month to live with them in England after the court was told that it was unsafe for him to return to his Ballymena home.
The boy’s solicitor applied to have his bail revoked from Thursday, when he is due to return to Northern Ireland for a remand hearing.
The judge said he was reluctant to do this, as the courts were under an obligation to young people to try and ensure they remained in a family environment.
Although he did revoke bail, he said the case would be reviewed on 14 September to see if alternative accommodation could be found outside Ballymena.
Michael McIlveen died after being attacked by a gang in the town on 7 May.
29/08/2006 – 10:22:58
Britain’s intelligence services may have masterminded an IRA human bomb strategy which killed soldiers and civilians in Northern Ireland in 1990, a lobby group claimed today.
The British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW) said counter-terrorism agencies may have been behind the lethal strategy, which saw six soldiers and one civilian die after civilians linked to the security forces were made to drive explosives into army facilities.
The pressure group has sent a dossier to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)’s Historical Enquiries Team about the October 1990 bombing of three army installations and checkpoints, two of which exploded.
An official report from BIRW said: “It is known that at least two security force agents were involved in these bombings and allegations have been made that the human bomb strategy was the brainchild of British intelligence.
“Questions arise as to whether the RUC, An Garda Siochana and the Army’s Force Research Unit had prior and/or subsequent intelligence about the bombings.
“These questions in turn lead to concerns about whether these attacks could have been prevented and why no-one has been brought to justice.”
A worker at a Derry Army base, Patsy Gillespie, was used by the IRA as the first human bomb and forced to drive a large explosive device to a military checkpoint at Coshquin near Derry, where it exploded.
The bomb was set off while he was still in the driver’s seat, killing him and five soldiers – Stephen Burrows, Stephen Beacham, Vincent Scott, David Sweeney and Paul Worral.
Another soldier, Ranger Cyril Smith, was killed the same night in a similar attack on a permanent checkpoint at Killeen near Newry. Civilian James McEvoy, 68, was injured after being ordered to drive the van and its deadly cargo or see his two sons shot.
An attempt to bomb Lisanelly Army barracks in Omagh, Co Tyrone, was foiled when explosives failed to ignite.
The claims may be linked to allegations made by an unknown Army agent, who said the RUC’s Special Branch had three IRA agents involved in three separate attacks in south Down in 1989 and 1990.
Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan is investigating the police’s handling of the Killeen killing.
Friends of Mr Smith (aged 21), who was from Carrickfergus, near Belfast, have organised a petition calling on the Government to probe the murder.
At the time, there was widespread criticism of the IRA’s human bomb tactics, which were seen as particularly savage and merciless.
The Catholic Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly, accused republicans of crossing a new threshold of evil.
A major security review in the aftermath forced the introduction of measures to protect security force facilities. A PSNI spokesman said he was unable to comment at this stage.
29/08/2006 – 09:44:40
The row over the provision of seats on a state-funded school bus service in Limerick appears to have been resolved.
The mother of two Catholic pupils who were refused permission to use the bus because of their religion had threatened legal action against Limerick City VEC unless it changed its stance.
The children are students at the mainly Protestant Villiers school on the North Circular Road, which is served by the bus at the centre of the dispute.
The VEC said the service was only available to Protestant children who lived more than three miles from their nearest Protestant school.
A solicitor for the mother of the Catholic children says they have now received two passes in the post.
It is unclear who sanctioned the passes, but solicitor John Devane said the family were happy with the outcome and feel that they have been vindicated.
By Roisin McManus
The elderly father of a victim of British state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries has met with the Mayor of Lisburn to oppose plans to erect a UDR memorial in the city.
Michael Power (75) believes that the UDR colluded with the UDA in his son Michael Junior’s murder and strongly opposes plans for a memorial in Lisburn city centre.
He says that he finds it appalling that the Council will allow their land to be used for a memorial to a regiment that colluded with loyalist death squads.
The Andersonstown News accompanied Michael to Lisburn Council on Friday for his meeting with Alliance Lord Mayor, Trevor Lunn.
Robert McClenaghan, spokesman for campaign group An Fhirinne, also attended the meeting to voice his concerns about the monument.
During the meeting Michael recounted the painful details of his son’s murder. Michael Junior was murdered on August, 23 1987 on Dunmurry Lane as he made his way to Mass with his young family. Several days before his murder the 30-year-old was stopped by a UDR patrol and threatened that he would be killed.
On the morning of Michael’s murder the UDR maintained a checkpoint for a number of hours just yards from where he was killed. Ten minutes before loyalists shot Michael dead the UDR checkpoint was lifted.
A monument is set to be erected by the Regimental Association of the UDR in Lisburn city centre on Council land to commemorate those in the regiment who lost their lives during the conflict.
The monument recently received the backing of Lisburn City Council, including Trevor Lunn, despite protests from Sinn Féin.
During Friday’s meeting the Mayor discussed the case with Michael Power and discussed the broader issue of collusion and the establishment of a forum for truth and reconciliation in the North.
Michael Power Senior said during the meeting that he hoped the Mayor could use his influence to change the council’s decision on the monument.
“My son didn’t stand a chance against the gunmen,” said Michael, “I think the UDR set him up. My son wasn’t sectarian, he lived a good life.
“There was most definitely collusion in Michael’s murder. We want justice and we want the truth about his murder to come out,” he added.
Robert McClenaghan from An Fhirinne said during the meeting that the issue of the UDR monument had caused a lot of concern.
“When the issue of the monument came to our attention it caused an awful lot of trauma with the families. The UDR was a sectarian anti-Catholic organisation and the monument is offensive and insensitive.”
Speaking to the Andersonstown News after the meeting Trevor Lunn said he hoped Michael would find out the truth about his son’s murder.
“When I became Mayor I said that I would go anywhere and meet anyone and that still applies,” said the Mayor.
“I had absolutely no problem in meeting with Michael Power. I could not refuse to meet somebody who has lost their son,” he added.
Trevor Lunn voted in favour of the UDR memorial before he became Mayor.
“The decision was taken months ago and I don’t think anything will change that,” said Councillor Lunn.
“The only thing that would change it would be to change the will of Lisburn Council and I don’t see that happening.
“I thought it was the right thing to do to meet Michael Power. In my opinion the UDR and the other security forces held a line in this country against anarchy and terrorism for many years and I think their sacrifice deserves to recognised,” he added.
Following the meeting Michael Power Senior said that he was glad that he had been able to put his feeling across to the Mayor.
He and other members of An Fhirinne are currently collecting signatures for a petition against the UDR monument, which they plan to present to Lisburn City Council at a later date.
Journalist:: Roisin McManus
By Deborah McAleese
28 August 2006
Royal Black Preceptory members are facing prosecution after an alleged breaching of a Parades Commission determination that music not be played outside a Catholic church.
Community leaders, politicians and preceptory members today said they were concerned at news that the PSNI is investigating the alleged breach and preparing a report for the Public Prosecution Service.
The Parades Commission had ruled that no music other than a single drum beat could be played outside St Matthew’s Church on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast on Saturday.
But bands accompanying RBP Chapter No4 played music as they passed the church on their outward and return routes.
The commission’s deliberation followed an incident last year when bands played while a funeral took place. Parade supporters branded the determination ridiculous and claimed that the bands played hymns. One onlooker said one of the bands played The Sash.
Castlereagh UUP councillor Michael Copeland MLA said the bands playing was the “least problematic of all possible outcomes”.
“The bands had passed before any service had commenced. Had the bands decided not to play it is my belief that people down there might have embarked on some other course of action.
The UUP’s Jim Rodgers said: “There was great anger over the ruling. It was a very bad decision and unnecessary.”
A spokeswoman said the PSNI was investigating a breach of a Parades Commission determination and a report is being prepared for the Public Prosecution Service. The commission meets on Wednesday for reports.
By Connla Young
Fears of a fresh sectarian campaign in north Antrim were sparked at the weekend when the home of a Catholic family was targeted in an attack by vandals.
The PSNI confirmed last night they are “investigating a sectarian motive as one line of inquiry” after windows in the house at Straid Road on the outskirts of the village were smashed.
Several windows in a car parked beside the house were smashed during the incident.
A number of Catholic families were forced to leave the area last year after their homes were attacked by loyalists. The PSNI took the unprecedented step of handing out fire blankets to Catholic home owners after a number of properties were firebombed.
Ballymena Sinn Féin councillor Monica Digney condemned the attack.
“We had hoped these attacks were a thing of the past. Catholics living in Ahoghill are very vulnerable and we saw that last year. We now see it again. These people need to take a look at what they are doing and stop it now. I only hope that this is not the start of another orchestrated loyalist campaign in the area.”
Tensions in north Antrim have been high since schoolboy Michael McIlveen died after being attacked by a loyalist mob. The 15-year-old was attacked on his way home from a night out in Ballymena, several miles from the latest sectarian incident.