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Derry Journal
29 April 2008

A pregnant woman, whose house in the Creggan estate was raided by PSNI officers on Sunday morning, has said she believes the police were there to remove electronic bugging equipment.

Orla Brady, the partner of leading dissident republican, Gary Donnelly, made the comment after her house at Rinmore Drive in Creggan was searched by the PSNI at 8am on Sunday morning.

Ms Brady, who is six months pregnant, said the house was unoccupied at the time because of refurbishment work being carried out in the area.

Speaking to the ‘Journal,’ Ms Brady claimed the PSNI told her they were looking for clothes belonging to Gary Donnelly, who is currently being held on remand in the Republic, after he was charged with membership of an illegal organisation. “The police came at 8am and stayed there until 10am. I was not in the house at the time because it is being refurbished and is completely empty. I was telephoned by a neighbour who told me what was happening and when I arrived the police told me they were looking for clothing belonging to Gary. It should have been clear to them that the house was empty and that there was no point looking for clothes,” she said.

The mother-of-two said she believes the real reason for the search was to remove a bug which was planted previously. “I believe the house was bugged and they were there to get it before the house is refurbished. They were hammering and sawing inside the house so I believe they were looking for something. Some time ago I called the Housing Executive about a panel of glass on the back door that was loose and they told me that the pane had been replaced but it wasn’t replaced by us so I believe that the police gained entry to the house and planted a bug,” she claimed.

A spokesperson for the 32 County Sovereignty Movement condemned the incident saying: “It is quite clear that this squad, which comprised of personnel from Gough barracks in Armagh, was there to remove electronic equipment in advance of work being carried out to the house. It is also clear that MI5 are operating with Free State Special Branch on a 32 county basis to solidify British rule in Ireland,” the spokesperson claimed.

A PSNI spokesperson confirmed the search took place and said one person was arrested in a disturbance related to the operation.

“Police carried out a search of a house as part of an ongoing investigation into serious crime. A number of items were removed for examination. One person was arrested in connection with a public order offence,” the spokesperson said.

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Irish Times
**Via Newshound
29 April 2008

More than a dozen extra gardaí are to be called to give evidence at the Omagh bomb civil case, it emerged today.

Already 23 gardaí are to be witnesses at the request of the legal team acting for six Omagh families against five men they believe responsible for the 1998 atrocity, in which 29 people were slaughtered and hundreds more injured.

The case is due to move from the High Court in Belfast to the Supreme Court in Dublin to enable the Garda officers to give their evidence.

The families’ lawyers, led By Lord Daniel Brennan QC, are now asking Mr Justice Morgan to arrange with the Irish authorities for up to 40 officers to be called.

The case is due to make its unprecedented move across the border on May 12th and is expected to be heard in Dublin for more than a week of the eight weeks it is set to take.

The families are seeking some £14 million in compensation from the Real IRA who claimed responsibility for the bombing and five men they say were the prime movers.

The civil action has been taken following the failure of the authorities in Northern Ireland to bring anyone to justice for the slaughter.

The five men, alleged Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt and number two Liam Campbell, together with Colm Murphy, Seamus McKenna and Seamus Daly, all deny responsibility.

None have attended court, two are in prison in the Irish Republic for terrorist offences unrelated to Omagh, and Campbell alone has ignored the case and not instructed lawyers.

On day three of the unprecedented action – the first time alleged terrorists have been sued by their victims – a bomb expert tied the Omagh bomb in with a series of other bombs in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

In total, 28 devices had identical timers with the same lengthy numeric code which tied them to a batch manufactured in the same French factory at the same time.

Using a detailed and complicated wall chart Denis McAuley – the lead scientist at Forensic Science Northern Ireland – explained to Mr Justice Morgan how the timers were identical.

He said they were normally used in such harmless domestic equipment as cookers, heaters and barbecues.

In 1998 alone the same Coupetans timers were were used in 12 devices in Northern Ireland, two in the Republic and one in England.

Between 2000 and 2004 another ten timers with the same code were used in all three jurisdictions , he said.

The Omagh bomb was what the authorities described as a Mark 19, which had first appeared in January 1998, and which was used in Northern Ireland on 15 occasions including Omagh that year, he said.

He estimated the Omagh bomb contained between 150 and 200 kilograms of improvised explosives attached to a timer power unit and a booster charge of semtex high explosive.

Mr McAuley said when he visited Omagh after the blast he found a crater blasted into the roadway three metres across and 80 centimetres deep.

“That indicates that a powerful explosion had occurred involving quite a large charge of high explosives,” he said.

The explosion would have caused blast, thermal and fragmentation injuries, he said.

“The blast effects within the confines of a street such as Market Street, Omagh, would be very substantial. An extreme increase in air pressure is really devastating to anybody or building in the confined space.

“The greatest damage from blast is to internal organs, lungs, the blast will compress the chest cavity and cause serious damage to the lungs and then when the chest is released when the blast recedes that can cause more damage,” he said.

He said the thermal effects of the bomb fireball would cause very serious burn injuries to anyone in the vicinity as temperatures rocketed to “well in excess of 1,000 degrees centigrade”.

Shrapnel from the the tube holding the booster charge had been recovered 180 metres away from the explosion site, he said and fragmented parts of the car were hurled over 300 metres, he revealed.

:::u.tv:::
29 April 2008

The High Court has heard that the FBI refused to let Real IRA infiltrator David Rupert testify at the Omagh bomb civil action following the assassination of a top republican unmasked as a British spy.

Jason McHugh -the London-based solicitor for the families of victims suing five men over the atrocity which claimed 29 lives- went into the witness box to disclose how Denis Donaldson`s murder led to a heightened threat assessment against the American.

The lawyer said he was rebuffed by the US authorities and told the risk against Rupert would increase if he became involved in the trial in Belfast because of the “oxygen of publicity” it would cause.

During cross-examination by Michael O`Higgins SC, for convicted Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, Mr McHugh also denied any offer of cash was ever made to the trucker turned FBI mole.

It followed a series of questions where Mr O`Higgins renewed allegations that Rupert demanded $2 million as part of his deal to help bring down the dissident republican mastermind.

Further claims were made that he was paid for another three years after McKevitt`s 2003 trial in Dublin.

Mr McHugh was called to give evidence on Day 12 of the case against McKevitt, Seamus McKenna, Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly.

All five men deny the families claims that they were responsible for the August 1998 bombing.

Irish News
30/04/08

The body set up to monitor paramilitary activity in the North is expected to publicly state today that the IRA leadership did not sanction the murder of Paul Quinn last October.

The 21-year-old, from Cullyhanna in south Armagh, was beaten to death after being lured to a remote farm in Co Monaghan by a gang of men.

His family have blamed IRA members for the killing, but Sinn Féin has insisted it resulted from a criminal dispute.

In its latest report, the Independent Monitoring Commission is understood to conclude that current and former members of the IRA in south Armagh were involved in the killing.

However, it is also expected to say that it does not believe the IRA leadership sanctioned the attack.

:::u.tv:::

The two residents groups at the centre of disputed parades on the Ormeau Road and Drumcree have rejected a review aimed at resolving the stalemate.

The review of parading has recommended the scrapping of the Parades Commission and replacing it with a process involving local councils.

Chaired by former Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown, the review has cross community membership and its recommendations include new structures to sorting out parading.

It meant local discussion -particularly at administrative council level- where interested parties are informed and concerns raised. If there is local agreement the parade proceeds.

If there is no agreement, there is mediation and once again if that works the parades proceed under agreed arrangements.

If there is no agreement,it goes to a three-member adjudication panel appointed by OFMDFM. An adjudication is issued and later there is a review of the process.

However, the residents groups associated with Drumcree and Ormeau have rejected the review panel`s plans saying that it is opening the door once again to making them a political football.

Belfast Telegraph
Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The body set up to monitor paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland is expected to publicly state today that the IRA leadership did not sanction the murder of Paul Quinn last October.

The 21-year-old, from Cullyhanna in south Armagh, was beaten to death after being lured to a remote farm in Co Monaghan by a gang of men.

His family have blamed IRA members for the killing, but Sinn Fein has insisted it resulted from a criminal dispute.

In its latest report, the Independent Monitoring Commission is understood to conclude that current and former members of the IRA in south Armagh were involved in the killing.

However, it is also expected to say that it does not believe the IRA leadership sanctioned the attack.

Evening Echol
28/04/2008 – 11:29:51 PM

Fresh trouble broke out between rival nationalist and loyalist groups tonight.

For the second night running missiles were thrown by the rivals in the Mountpottinger and Albert Bridge areas in the east of Belfast.

Police warned motorists to steer clear of the area as both the extent of the violence and the numbers involved increased.

PSNI officers on the ground made contact with community representatives on both sides in a bid to stop the interfactional trouble.

Politicians on all sides condemned last night’s violence when missiles were thrown by rival groups in the same area.

Three police vehicles were damaged during the trouble in the Newtownards Road and Albert Bridge Road interface with the nationalist Short Strand area in east Belfast.

On that occasion police said peace was restored around 12.30am after community representatives intervened and a spokesman thanked them for their calming influence.

The trouble involved up to 60 youths at its height and continued intermittently for several hours forcing the closure of a number of roads.

The PSNI said they had not established what sparked the clash.

However, there had been an Orange Parade in the lower Newtownards Road area on Sunday morning. It passed off without incident but may have raised tensions in the interface area.

BBC
28 April 2008

The father of a UVF murder victim is to form a new victims’ group along with other relatives of people killed in NI.

Raymond McCord’s son, Raymond jnr, 22, was beaten to death in a north Belfast quarry in November 1997.

On Monday, the assembly debated the murder and alleged police collusion with the loyalists responsible.

Mr McCord said the Victims Commission set up by the assembly was a “sham” and a new cross-community group would be established this week.

“We are going to set up our own victims’ group.

“We will help people the way they should be helped and not (through) a political agenda,” Mr McCord said.

“There is no group here in this country dealing properly with people being intimidated, particularly at interface areas.”

Members of the team would include Paul McIlwaine, whose son David, 18, and Andrew Robb, 19, were stabbed in Tandragee, County Armagh, in 2000.

Others are north Belfast priest Fr Aidan Troy and Bernadette O’Rawe, whose nephew, Gerard Devlin, was fatally stabbed in Whitecliffe Parade in west Belfast in February 2006.

Mr McCord said he intends to apply for grant funding for the group.

The executive has twice postponed an assembly debate on the establishment of the official four-member Victims Commission.

The dispute surrounds unionist demands for a chief commissioner, which Sinn Féin opposes, wrangling over the decision-making process and concerns about appointing staff with paramilitary backgrounds.

UVF gang

Raymond McCord jnr’s murder was one of a series blamed last year by ex-Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan on a UVF gang given immunity as Special Branch informers.

The SDLP motion that was debated “applauded the work of the McCord family’s campaign for justice”.

The family of murdered south Armagh man Paul Quinn attended the debate.

Paul Quinn, 21, from Cullyhanna, died last October after being attacked and beaten at a shed near Castleblayney in County Monaghan.

His family blame members of the IRA and say he had defied an order to leave the country. Sinn Féin has denied any republican involvement in the murder.

–Received via email from Dawn Michele Duarte – Ireland’s OWN

On 8 May 1997, a 25-year-old father of two Robert Hamill (a third child was born after his death) died from injuries received from an attack on him in Portadown city centre on 27 April 1997. A gang of more than 30 loyalists savagely beat and kicked Robert Hamill and Gregory Girvan while their two female companions attempted to intervene.

An eyewitness said Robert Hamill was “danced on” and called a “Fenian bastard” by members of the 30-strong mob as he lay on the ground just 15 feet from four police officers in an RUC Land Rover. When six men were finally arrested after Robert’s death, five of them were almost instantly released without charges. The sixth has has still not faced prosecution. And, the RUC (now known as the PSNI) remains unaccountable for allowing a defenseless man to be pummeled to death in their presence.

By Brian Rowan
Monday 28, April 2008
Belfast Telegraph

The Independent Monitoring Commission is expected to deliver its next report within days — and publication will come before the US:NI Investment Conference, which is scheduled for May 7-9.

One year on from the Paisley-McGuinness political deal at Stormont, the trends in the paramilitary world are as expected, with the biggest question whether the UDA leadership can “deliver in the way the other organisations have”.

“They have a real problem,” one source commented. “And I’m not sure how soluble it is,” he continued.

Security and intelligence reports show the IRA continuing “to effectively slip away” — “not with a bang but a whimper” , a source observed.

The organisation, he said, was “gradually fading out”.

And the UVF is “doing pretty much what they said they would do” in their endgame statement of May 3 last year.

The question of the future existence of the IRA Army Council is unresolved, as is the issue of loyalist guns.

It is expected the four-man IMC will complete its assessments this week and deliver its report to the British and Irish governments for publication soon afterwards.

At their next news conference, the commissioners, Lord Alderdice, Joe Brosnan, Dick Kerr and John Grieve, are expecting questions on the future of the Commission itself — in other words, for how much longer is the IMC needed in its monitoring role?

There is no suggestion that they will offer their own “timescales” in response to that question, but they are expecting that “flag” will be “run up the pole”.

The IMC may yet be needed to help break the Stormont deadlock on the issue of the devolution of policing and justice powers — it may yet require further assessments from the commissioners to bring this issue over the line.

The DUP will want to be convinced that all IRA activities have ceased and that its structure has been dismantled.

Unfinished business for monitoring body

As the Independent Monitoring Commission prepares to deliver its next report, security writer Brian Rowan looks at the key questions it will cover

So often the IMC has been part of the storm, seen by republicans as part of the ‘securocrat’ apparatus.

There are no tremors as the IMC prepares to gives its next assessment, only a few days away.

There is a different context now — there is working politics, the war is over, weapons “beyond use” and time has passed since the Northern Bank robbery and other IRA linked actions.

The big IRA issue now has to do with its Army Council, the leadership that sits at the top of that organisation.

It is a big issue for unionists — big for the DUP, which maybe needs a “victory” to allow it to step over that policing and justice line, the win of being able to say that the Army Council has gone.

But what would that really mean?

There is a higher authority inside the structure of the IRA, what it calls the General Army Convention.

It is where the biggest decisions are made.

Whatever it is called there will be, for the foreseeable future, an IRA leadership, albeit a leadership of a different organisation.

Its role now is to prop up and support the Adams and McGuinness peace and political projects.

There is another “Council”, the UDA “Inner Council” of brigadiers that still sits in leadership over a paramilitary organisation that in recent days spoke to justify the continuing need for its weapons and explain why there would not be decommissioning.

And, in a few days’ time, when the IMC is asked, it will explain the many questions and doubts it has when it comes to the UDA.

It is not sure that the Inner Council can deliver in a way that the Army Council has — not sure that the UDA leadership has the authority to make its organisation do as it is told.

And there is maybe an argument that the IMC is still needed, for this purpose, to keep a focus and a watch on the loyalists and on the unfinished business of the UDA and the UVF.

Irish News
**Via Newshound
By Allison Morris
23/04/08

Police have lost a high-ly sensitive file containing personal details of more than 40 informants – but no officers have been disciplined or charged over the blunder.

In the biggest breach of security since the Castlereagh break-in six years ago copies of the ‘sensitive disclosure schedule’ were handed over to a gang charged in connection with the cold-blooded murder of a north Belfast man.

Police attempted to retrieve the top-secret material but one full file of names and addresses remains missing three years on.

The police only became aware of the loss when career criminal Louis ‘Luger’ Maguire handed a page to a senior officer during a court hearing before his trial for the 2003 murder of David ‘Digger’ Barnes.

Maguire, who was later convicted, even made paper aeroplanes from the highly sensitive pages during a court appearance.

At one stage the 42-year-old represented himself after dismissing his legal team and would have had access to the files. There is no suggestion of improper conduct by lawyers in the case.

A Belfast Crown Court judge has ordered an investigation.

No officers have been charged or disciplined over the breach.

“Certain matters are the subject of discussion between police and the Public Prosecution Service, therefore it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” a police spokesman said last night.

Copies of the disclosure schedule – including personal details of informants, witnesses and covert surveillance relating to the case – were handed out to defence lawyers and defendants during the murder trial.

Police later raided the homes of some of the accused and recovered all but one of the copies.

Reporting restrictions meant that much of the lengthy trial went unrecorded and so the security blunder was not made public.

However, statements seen by The Irish News from a senior police officer reveal how Maguire handed him a page from the “uniquely identifiable sensitive disclosure schedule” in a Belfast courtroom in April 2005.

“I immediately recognised it as material to which Maguire should not have had access or possession,’’ he said.

“Maguire shouted a death threat in respect to a man whose name appeared on the document.

“I later established that an entire sensitive disclosure schedule [and not just the page handed to me by Louis Maguire] was

in the possession of all eight defence counsel and Louis Maguire himself along with the other defendants.

“I later became aware from my enquiries that a copy of the inadvertently disclosed sensitive schedule was in the public domain and remains so to date.”

Irish News
**Via Newshound
By Allison Morris
26/04/08

Loyalists may be offered ratepayer-funded cash rewards for not burning the Irish tricolour on Eleventh Night bonfires.


Breach: A bonfire site in the Village area of south Belfast where collection of materials for the pyre has already begun, well ahead of the July 1 start date specified in the guidelines for organisers wishing to benefit from Belfast City Council’s sponsorship scheme. PICTURE: Mal McCann

For four years Belfast City Council has sponsored 14 bonfire sites across the city to reduce the sectarian element and environmental im-pact of the long-standing loyalist tradition.

Cash awards are given to communities that meet guidelines laid down in a council charter with a view to turn-ing the July bonfire tradition into a more “cultural family-orientated event”.

Criteria to achieve the cash incentives include:

–not collecting material until a designated date

–agreeing not to burn highly toxic tyres

–removal of paramilitary displays and ‘shows of strength’.

However, a council-commissioned report, conducted by the Institute for Conflict Re-search and seen by The Irish News, has suggested that guidelines should include a new incentive to discourage communities from burning the Irish tricolour.

“The burning of the tricolour continues to be a consistent theme at the majority of sites,” the report notes.

“Discussions need to begin about the potential for limiting this aspect to the bonfire celebration.

“For future bonfire management programmes it may be appropriate to include an in-dicator that refers to the burning of tricolours within the evaluation.”

The report found that several of the sponsored sites continued to flout the guidelines four years into the controversial scheme.

In 2005 there were calls for funding to the Pitt Park bonfire at Inverary playing fields in east Belfast to be withdrawn after a UVF ‘show of strength’ in which a volley of shots was fired.

The latest report shows that last year Pitt Park was one of three sites whose organisers breached guidelines by allowing wood to be collected before July 1.

The two other sites were in south Belfast – at Taughmonagh and Finaghy.

The report notes that discouraging communities from collecting material too early was still “the most problematic element” of the scheme.

It says most communities feel the July 1 start date has been imposed upon them without prior consultation.

Loyalist bonfires costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to police and clean up every year. It has been estimated that about 500,000 tyres are burned in Northern Ireland during the annual July bonfires, causing widespread environmental damage.

Over the past year several sites traditionally used for loyalist bonfires have been sold off for development, in-cluding the site at the lower Shankill which was in the past one of the largest bonfires in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph
Saturday 26, April 2008

A newspaper has issued an apology to an alleged top ranking British agent within the IRA for flouting a ban imposed to protect his whereabouts.

The Sunday World’s publishers also agreed to pay Freddie Scappaticci’s £30,000 legal bill and make a £10,000 donation to charity as part of the settlement at Belfast High Court yesterday.

Scappaticci, who denies claims that he was the spy codenamed Stakeknife, took action against the paper after a report referred to his living arrangements and medical condition. Both were covered by an injunction he secured amid fears his life could be threatened. Lawyers for Sunday Newspapers Ltd, its director and the journalist who wrote the story accepted its terms were breached.

Michael Lavery QC, for Scappaticci, claimed the article contained a ‘plethora of information’ which could give clues to where his client’s current location.

He said: “So long as people keep testing the limits of the injunction they always run the risk they will go too far and on some occasion will actually lead to the loss of this man’s life.”

The 63-year-old west Belfast man was thrust into the spotlight in 2003 when British and Irish media claimed he was the double agent Stakeknife, an allegation he categorically denied.

Brian Fee QC, for the Sunday World, accepted the paper had made a misjudgment over the medical details it published.

But he insisted the information contained in the report was so limited that it did not flout the prohibition in disclosing Scappaticci’s current whereabouts.

Mr Fee likened the restrictions to the order imposed to protect the identity of Maxine Carr, the ex-girlfriend of Soham killer Ian Hunley, after she served a jail sentence for lying in the case. He claimed the Press have reported how she has undergone cosmetic surgery since her release without action.

But Mr Justice Weir, who heard the case, suggested the information printed about Scappaticci could be exploited by someone who read it.

“Maybe they phone some nefarious organisation and say we have read this in the Sunday World and we know something more about this,” the judge said.

He added that a photograph of Scappaticci carried with the article was of ” quite a distinctive” man. “He’s not by any means a run-of-the-mill looking person,” Mr Justice Weir said.

But with Mr Lavery stressing his client’s main aim was to prevent any further breach of the reporting ban, the judge accepted the terms of an agreement reached by both sides.

In it the defendants apologised to the court and to Scappaticci, and agreed to pay his legal costs of £30,000 plus £5,250 in tax. They will also made a £10,000 contribution to the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association after the judge’s suggestion that a donation could go to charity.

And a promise was made to abide in future by the injunction which prevents the publication of any details either of Scappaticci’s whereabouts or of his medical care and treatment.

Independent. ie
By ALAN MURRAY
Sunday April 27 2008

Peter Robinson has said that if there is evidence linking Martin McGuinness to the Enniskillen Remembrance Sunday bombing in 1987 that killed 11 people, it should be placed before the courts.

Responding to questions raised in a BBC documentary about the bombing, which alleged that Mr McGuinness knew about it in advance, the man who will shortly share an office at Stormont with the Derry republican said that the DUP was “well aware of his background”.

Detective Chief Superintendent Norman Baxter, who investigated Enniskillen, says that prior to the bombing there were deliberations at a very senior level within the IRA’s northern command.

The First Minister-designate said that it was pointless to ask if the allegations contained in the programme, made by Peter Taylor, had been known, would it have affected the DUP’s decision to enter into government with Sinn Fein last year.

“Do people think the DUP did not know that Martin McGuinness was in the IRA and served on its northern command? We are well aware of his background”, he said.

In the programme it was alleged that the North’s Deputy First Minister was stopped by gardai three days before the bombing on the Donegal border, with three members of the IRA.

Mr Taylor said: “The subsequent intelligence assessment was that McGuinness was going to be briefed about the Remembrance Sunday attacks.

“In the hours after the bombing, my sources say that McGuinness travelled to Fermanagh to question members of the local IRA unit to find out what had gone wrong.

“McGuinness said that if he did go, it would have been in his Sinn Fein capacity”.

Mr Taylor said that Mr McGuinness had denied that he had been a member of the IRA’s northern command, but said: “British and Irish security sources on both sides of the border have each independently told me that Martin McGuinness, now deputy first minister, was the leading figure on northern command at the time of the attack”.

Taylor also said that the atrocity prompted Gerry Adams and another senior republican to discuss declaring an IRA ceasefire to try to mitigate the political damage, but claimed that “McGuinness was against the idea”.

Peter Robinson said of McGuinness’s alleged role in the atrocity: “If at any stage police can get evidence, they should charge people and bring them before the courts”.

– ALAN MURRAY

By David Gordon
Belfast Telegraph
Saturday 26, April 2008

The countdown is under way to a Stormont decision in the long-running Maze stadium debate, the Belfast Telegraph understands.

The vexed issue is expected to be on the agenda of the Executive within the next two months.

And it has been confirmed that officials in Finance Minister Peter Robinson’s department are close to finalising their value for money assessment of the project.

The odds on a go-ahead for a new Maze stadium project have lengthened in recent months, amid opposition within the DUP’s Assembly grouping.

Two other departments have had key roles in the internal Government deliberations.

The role of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) involves the overall development of the massive former Maze Prison site, while the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure’s responsibilities centre on the stadium proposal.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance and Personnel last night said: ” DFP is in receipt of an outline business case and affordability assessment from OFMDFM and DCAL for the regeneration of the Maze/Long Kesh site.

“The issues involved are extremely complex and have required DFP officials to work closely with those in OFMDFM and DCAL to seek clarification on a number of issues. Final advice will be provided by officials to Ministers soon.”

The completion of the DFP appraisal will lead to the issue being brought to the Executive for a decision.

Assembly sources anticipate that Mr Robinson would prefer to see the matter addressed before he replaces Ian Paisley as First Minister in June.

It is also believed that he could face a backbench DUP revolt over a pro-Maze verdict on the stadium.

There is deep unease within the party over plans for a conflict transformation centre, incorporating the section of the old H block prison that has been given listed building protection.

BBC
25 April 2008

An alleged high-ranking British agent within the IRA has won an apology from a tabloid newspaper for flouting a ban imposed to protect his whereabouts.


Freddie Scappaticci denies being the spy Stakeknife

The Sunday World’s publishers agreed to pay Freddie Scappaticci’s £30,000 legal bill as part of the High Court settlement in Belfast.

They also agreed to make a £10,000 donation to charity

Mr Scappaticci has always denied claims that he was the spy codenamed Stakeknife.

He took action against the Sunday World following a report which referred to his current living arrangements and medical condition.

Both were covered by an injunction he secured amid fears that his life could be under threat.

Lawyers for Sunday Newspapers Ltd, its director and the journalist who wrote the story, accepted that terms had been breached.

Michael Lavery QC, for Scappaticci, claimed the article contained a “plethora of information” which could give clues to his client’s current location.

He said: “So long as people keep testing the limits of the injunction they always run the risk they will go too far and on some occasion will actually lead to the loss of this man’s life.”

Finucanes not told of probe delay due ‘admin issue’

By Chris Thornton
Belfast Telegraph
Friday 25, April 2008

Pat Finucane’s family were not told that preparations for an inquiry into the solicitor’s murder had been suspended because it was considered an ” internal administrative issue”, officials dealing with the inquiry have claimed.

Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine revealed yesterday that former Secretary of State Peter Hain ordered a halt to the inquiry preparations 18 months ago without telling her. She only learned of the move from an official letter to her solicitor two weeks ago.

Preparatory work was stopped because of a stand-off between the family and the NIO over the legislation under which the inquiry would be run into the murder of the solicitor — branded an act of collusion by former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens.

Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his family by the UDA. But in the years since it has been established that the gunman, the man who supplied the weapon and at least one other loyalist involved in the plot were security force informers.

A retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice recommended an inquiry into the murder in 2003. The Government sat on his report for six months, publishing it in 2004 and agreeing to an inquiry at that stage. But the new Inquiries Act was rushed through Parliament in 2005 to increase the powers available to ministers to withhold parts of the findings.

After meeting the family in late 2006, Mr Hain ordered a halt to preparation.

“In the autumn of 2006, the then Secretary of State took the decision that, in light of the Finucane family’s continued opposition, it was no longer justifiable to continue to devote public money to preparations for an inquiry which the family would refuse to accept under the terms of the Inquiries Act,” an official wrote to Mrs Finucane’s solicitor, Peter Madden two weeks ago.

Mrs Finucane was furious at the decision.

“I have long doubted whether the British Government had any real intention of ever establishing a genuinely independent public inquiry into Pat’s murder,” she said before meeting Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday.

Both sides have indicated they are prepared to discuss the situation, but Michael Finucane, the murdered solicitor’s eldest son, said yesterday that the Government has turned down several requests for further meetings.

“We do see a point and would like to discuss it,” he said.

“In fact, we’ve asked for that opportunity twice now, with the Prime Minister and between our lawyers and theirs. Our suggestion about a lawyer/lawyer meeting was rejected.”

Belfast Telegraph
Friday 25, April 2008

Democratic Unionist MP Peter Robinson, and his wife Iris, were both named on a list of more than 100 politicians who employ family members.

Democratic Unionist MP Peter Robinson, and his wife Iris, were both named on a list of more than 100 politicians who employ family members.

But the couple were also among just five MPs who have given jobs to more than one family member.

Mrs Robinson employs their son, Jonathan Robinson, as an office manager, and daughter-in-law Ellen Robinson as a part-time secretary.

Mr Robinson employs his daughter, Rebekah Robinson, as “office manager and private secretary” and their other son, Gareth Robinson, as parliamentary assistant.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain was also named as an MP employing a relative.

The list featured the head of the House of Commons anti-sleaze committee and one of the MPs in charge of reviewing the expenses regime.

It included three ministers, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn and Housing Minister Caroline Flint.

The disclosure of 106 MPs who employ relatives follows MP Derek Conway’s suspension from the Commons over payments to his son.

There is no suggestion that those who have volunteered the information so far have broken the rules.

Derry Journal
Published Date: 22 April 2008

The 32 County Sovereignty Movement is expected to open an office in the city next week. The office will be located in the Shantallow area of the city where a new cumann of the 32 CSM was established last week.

The new cumann is named after IRA volunteer Phil O’Donnell, who died in 1982. The chairperson of the new cumann, Seamus Breslin, said the new group was formed after interest from republicans in the Shantallow area.

“As a senior staff officer, Phil O’Donnell undertook the task of training the Derry Brigade of the IRA; he was interned in 1971 for eight months and later spent several years in Portlaoise on membership and weapons charges.

“After his release, he reported back to the republican movement. Sadly, Phil contracted cancer and died at the age of 50 on Christmas Eve 1982 and was a huge loss to his family and the republican cause,” he said.

Mr. Breslin also said the cumann would “name and shame” drug dealers operating in the Shantallow area. “We will not hesitate, whenever necessary, to name and shame known local drug dealers and anti-social elements that plague the community.

“The RUC/PSNI is an implement of British political control and has proven itself to be a deeply sectarian force incapable of dealing with these issues.

” We are urging the people of Shantallow to stand behind us,” he said.

Irish News
23/04/08

The paramilitary organisation behind the Omagh bomb massacre had up to 400 members plotting to wreck the fragile peace established in Northern Ireland, the High Court heard yesterday.

A government dossier revealed at the civil trial of five men being sued over the attack which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, also claimed key Real IRA men held dual membership within its political wing, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.

Weapons were brought in from the former Republic of Yugoslavia, with sporadic acquaintances rather than procurement processes exploited by the dissident republicans, it stated.

One link was allegedly established while a sympathiser was working with an aid agency in the war-torn Balkan region.

The intelligence files, sent to US authorities analysing the Real IRA, detailed its formation following a split with the established Provisional movement in 1997, recruitment, and areas of strength along the border in north Louth and south Armagh.

On Day 10 of the hearing in Belfast Brett Lockhart QC, for the Omagh bomb victims’ families seeking multi-million pound damages, read out the assessment from David Watkins, a senior director for police and security within the Northern Ireland Office.

His analysis, compiled around three years after the August 1998 explosion which devastated Omagh, also set out how fundraising came through wealthy benefactors and crime.

Up to $150,000 (£121,000) a year was believed to be coming into the organisation from US supporters – significantly less than its gains through smuggling, the court heard.

The document estimated that the Real IRA consisted of 150 members directly involved in or supporting terrorist attacks, with another 250 members prepared to assist through other methods including finance and criminal activity.

Experienced Provisional IRA men defected to the dissident grouping after it formed in late 1997 and then set out to thwart the following year’s Good Friday Agreement.

The dossier disclosed to the court made clear the Real IRA’s “raison d’etre” was to continue the armed struggle in Ireland and to supplant the PIRA as the main republican organisation.

A campaign of violence resumed following a ceasefire called in the aftermath of Omagh was described as presenting “a real threat to the fragile peace developed over many years”.

And turning to the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, which always denied links to the Real IRA, the intelligence assessment said: “A number of key individuals within the group appear to hold dual membership.”

The ties included senior 32 County members attending the funeral of Real IRA man JJ O’Connor in October 2000, the court heard.

Dermott Fee QC, for Seamus Daly and Colm Murphy – who are being sued along with Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell and Seamus McKenna, contested the admissibility of the extracts.

He claimed the identities of the sources and experts used in Mr Watkins papers should be known to the hearing.

“It’s not appropriate, in a case which has been described on numerous occasions as one of the most important cases coming before these courts, to simply read out unattributed material,” Mr Fee said.

But the judge, Mr Justice Declan Morgan, declared it could be admitted under legislation.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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