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By MIKE CORDER
Google News
Associated Press
31 July 2008

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic appeared at the U.N.’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal for the first time Thursday, telling the judge he would defend himself against charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Appearing older and thinner than during the Bosnian war and shorn of the long white hair and bushy beard that once disguised him, Karadzic refused to enter pleas on the 11 charges against him or have his full indictment read to him.

He also claimed he cut a deal in 1996 with a U.S. negotiator to drop out of public life, apparently in return for his indictment being scrapped.

The United States has in the past denied his family’s claims that negotiator Richard Holbrooke made such a deal with Karadzic, and the judge did not allow him to fully explain his version of events.

“This is not the appropriate moment,” presiding judge Alphons Orie said, suggesting that Karadzic write a legal submission.

“I must say that this is a matter of life and death. If Mr. Holbrooke still wants my death and regrets that there is no death sentence here, I wonder if his arm is long enough to reach me here,” Karadzic said before he was cut off.

In a July 26 interview with Germany’s Spiegel Online International, Holbrooke was asked about rumors he made a deal with Karadzic that if he retired from politics he would not be sent to the Hague.

“Those are lies I do not comment on any longer,” Holbrooke said at the time.

Karadzic said he would act as his own lawyer — as did his mentor, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. The move caused Milosevic’s trial to be repeatedly interrupted and delayed when Milosevic fell ill or suffered fatigue. He died in 2006 while being tried on genocide charges.

“I have an invisible adviser but I have decided to represent myself,” Karadzic calmly told Orie.

In power…and in hiding

It was his first appearance before the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, and came just 10 days after he was arrested on a Belgrade bus after 13 years on the run from justice.

A member of Karadzic’s legal team said Karadzic will go on hunger strike if he is not allowed to defend himself in his genocide trial.

“It is his basic right to defend himself,” lawyer Svetozar Vujacic said in Belgrade, adding that Karadzic “will insist on that even if he has to go on hunger strike.”

Karadzic, who smiled at times during the hearing, listened intently as Orie read a summary of the indictment in which prosecutors allege Karadzic masterminded atrocities, including the Srebrenica massacre and siege of Sarajevo during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

Karadzic declined to have the full indictment read to him.

“I am not interested in having someone else read the indictment to me,” he said. “I would rather receive the new indictment that has been announced and have sufficient time to study it and then have my initial appearance for that and enter my plea.”

Prosecutor Serge Brammertz confirmed that he was planning to amend the indictment but gave no further details.

Orie scheduled a new hearing on Aug. 29 at which Karadzic will have to enter pleas. If he does not, the court will enter not guilty pleas for him.

In the Bosnian capital, coffee bars showed Karadzic’s hearing on giant flat-screen TVs.

“It’s him,” said Elvir Kljakic, 27, who lost his father and brother during the war. “It’s the beast. I did not believe it until now.”

“I’m happy and sad at the same time,” said Alena Tiro, 42. “Happy because the world seems to be not as bad as I thought so far if it forced him to the courtroom. Sad because 100,000 people he killed are not watching this.”

In the small office of the Association of the Mothers of Srebrenica, about 20 widows watched the broadcast.

“There is the trash,” one of them said when Karadzic appeared. Three women burst into tears.

“I have not found one bone of my children yet and there he is — alive,” said Ramiza Music, 52, who lost two teenage sons, a husband and two brothers in the Srebrenica massacre. “Today I feel there is a bit of justice in this otherwise really pitiful world.”

In court, Karadzic identified himself by stating his name, date and place of birth. He also gave his most recent address as his family home in Pale, Bosnia, but also gave the address of the apartment in Belgrade where he was living under an assumed name before his July 21 arrest.

When Orie asked him if his family had known where he was being held, Karadzic smiled and replied “I do not believe there is anyone who does not know that I am in the detention unit.”

Sinn Féin
31 July, 2008

Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay and Cllr Pádraig Mc Shane were both assaulted today in Ballymena while supporting residents in their call for the removal of materials gathered for a bonfire in the area.

Daithí McKay said:

“Both myself and Pádraig have spent the morning here in opposition to criminal and anti social elements who are using this bonfire as a cover for other activities. The community is totally opposed to this event and a multi agency approach was currently underway to handle this situation.

Cllr Mc Shane and I were attacked by a man and struck several times; this was recorded by a BBC news team that was in the area at the time. In the past Republicans have faced attack from the British as well as Loyalist Paramilitaries, we will not be silenced or deterred by a small number of hoods believing that they can dictate to the rest of the community. No one has forced their will on us in the past and we will not allow these people to do that now.

We will continue to stand with the community in opposition to the activities taking place at this bonfire and to highlight their demand for it to go.”

http://www.eirigi.org
Email: eirigi
Thursday July 31, 2008

Fight 42-Day Detention

August 9 1971 was a pivotal date in Irish history. The introduction of internment exposed, yet again, the ugly face of British imperialism in Ireland and acted as a catalyst for increased resistance to the occupation.

The introduction of 42-day detention is a similar travesty of justice, foisted upon an unwilling population by a British government that is determined to repress dissent.

To mark the anniversary of internment and protest the use of 42-day detention, éirígí is encouraging people to demonstrate in Church Place, Lurgan on August 9.

The details are:

Church Place, Lurgan
12pm, Saturday, August 9
————–

To mark the anniversary of internment and protest the use of 42-day detention, éirígí is encouraging people to demonstrate outside Antrim town RUC-PSNI Barracks on August 9.

The details are:

RUC-PSNI Barracks
Antrim Town
11am, Saturday, August 9

The details of other demonstrations which will be happening around the country on the same day will added to this site in the coming days.

Bígí Linn!

Breaking News.ie
31/07/2008

A son of Garda Jerry McCabe, who was shot dead by the IRA, today graduated as one of 300 new recruits into the force.

The slain detective’s widow, Anne, said he was looking proudly down on his son Ross on a day of mixed emotions for the family.

“It is a very proud day although it’s tinged with a bit of sadness,” she said.

Jerry McCabe was gunned down in Adare, Co Limerick in June 1996 during an attempted post office robbery by an IRA gang. Ross, who graduated at the Garda College, in Templemore, Co Tipperary, is following his brother as well as his father into the ranks of the force.

Another son, John, is a sergeant serving in Ennistymon, Co Clare. Ms McCabe said she was very proud of her sons.

“But it’s not just about Ross today, it’s about each and every woman and man here who have chosen this wonderful career,” she said.

“He’s (Jerry) up there looking down at us and very proud of him.”

Ross, 27, will be stationed at Gurranabraher in Cork.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy and Defence Minister Willie O’Dea, officiating for Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, attended the ceremony, at which 286 recruits graduated into the force.

Among them were 85 women and 201 men.

The Commissioner’s Medal, awarded to the student achieving the highest marks in academic subjects was presented to Garda John Horkan from Mayo.

The Gary Sheehan Memorial Medal, commemorating a garda recruit killed on duty in Co Leitrim in December 1983, was presented to Garda Declan O’Keefe from Co Cork for the best-all round student.

Breaking News.ie
31/07/2008

An “extensive” garda file on the suspected leader of the INLA in Dublin is currently being compiled, the Special Criminal Court heard today.

Declan Duffy, a 34-year-old native of Armagh City, with an address at Hanover St West, Dublin 8 was charged last month with membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish National Liberation Army, otherwise the INLA on June 22.

Prosecution solicitor Mr Michael O’Donovan told the court that an “extensive” file is being compiled by the gardaí dealing with “alleged activities over a long period of time” and that it is anticipated to be ready in early October.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the three-judge court, agreed with Duffy’s counsel that “all the stops should be pulled out”.

Duffy was sentenced to nine years imprisonment by the Special Criminal Court in 2000 for possession of firearms and false imprisonment relating to the `Ballymount bloodbath’ when an INLA member was killed.

He was refused bail last month after the court heard that gardai believe he would continue to direct the activities of the terrorist organisation and attempt to procure guns and explosives if freed.

Mr Justice Butler remanded Duffy in custody until early October when the case will be mentioned again.

Breaking News.ie
31/07/2008

Police in the North have arrested three more men this morning as part of the investigation into the murder of south Armagh man Paul Quinn last October.

The three were detained in south Armagh this morning at the request of the Gardaí.

Paul Quinn

Meanwhile, the PSNI has released two men in their 50s who were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the murder investigation.

A man in his 20s who was also detained on Tuesday remains in custody in Antrim, while Gardaí last night secured an extra 24 hours to question three men detained in Co Monaghan on the same day.

Mr Quinn, aged 21, was beaten to death by a gang of men after being lured to a remote farmhouse in Co Monaghan on October 20.

His family have accused IRA members in south Armagh of organising the killing.

News Letter

THE US government has been accused of planning “a dirty deal” with Libya which would deny thousands of Northern Ireland victims compensation for IRA atrocities.

The Bush administration is finalising an agreement, clearing the way for Colonel Gaddafi’s regime to settle outstanding court cases being taken in the US by the victims of Libyan-sponsored terror attacks.

Hundreds of millions of dollars would be paid to American citizens whose relatives died or who were injured.

But it appears the deal excludes non-US citizens, including IRA victims from Ulster (and bombings such as Enniskillen, the Shankill and Teebane) involved in a stateside civil action against Libya.

Reports in Washington DC said that the US Congress and the Bush administration are on the cusp of finalising a draft Bill to put to the House of Represent-atives.

It would propose removing all the final diplomatic sanctions on the Libyan administration and giving the North African country a future waiver from laws allowing victims to seize the US assets of the state sponsors of attacks.

In return, Gaddafi would settle compensation.

And, crucially, it would allow for full economic relations to re-open, so that US oil companies could negotiate contracts worth hundreds of billions of dollars to drill in Libya’s plentiful oilfields.

Speaking from Washington last night, the director of south Armagh victims’ group FAIR, William Frazer, said he was aghast at the development.

But he stressed that there was considerable opposition to the plan in the American political capital – especially from Democrat Senators, including Hillary Clinton – and the proposal would not get through without a major fight in both Congress and the Senate.

“If this was to happen it would be the dirtiest of deals by President Bush,” said Mr Frazer.

“Northern Ireland and UK citizens have stood side-by-side with America on the war on terror and suffered more than most – and at the United States’ request.

“In fact, it was as a direct result of Margaret Thatcher allowing US fighters to use British airforce bases to mount attacks on Libya in the mid-80s that Gaddafi turned to funding the IRA and reaping a killing spree of innocents in the Province.

“If this deal is done, it will bring shame on America and make a travesty of the war on terror.”

Stormont Executive Junior Minister Jeffrey Donaldson, with responsibility for victims’ issues, raised the Libya case with President Bush on his visit to Ulster last month.

The DUP man said: “If this is the case, that the American government has reached some sort of agreement with the Libyans, which falls short of what the American victims are looking for and excludes IRA victims here, clearly that is totally unacceptable.”

Mr Donaldson also reminded America of its responsibility to the UK in relation to the war on terror, and the direct link between the attacks on Tripoli in the 1980s and Gaddafi backing the IRA in the Province.

He vowed that his party and First Minister Peter Robinson would be pursuing the matter – particularly on a visit to Washington, scheduled for September.

The outstanding civil actions relate to terror attacks, including the Berlin disco bombing of 1986, the downing of UTA Flight 172 from Congo to Paris in 1989 and the IRA victims’ lawsuit.

But the Libya waiver deal – which comes out of discussions involving the US State Department, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Libya and US Congressional figures – only covers payments to American citizens.

The IRA case was filed in the American courts by US citizens impacted by IRA attacks.

Northern Ireland victims names were then added to the list of plaintiffs, with the potential for thousands more victims from the Province being added later.

One US news agency reported that the draft bill circulating on Capitol Hill could be introduced this week.

Impartial Reporter
31 July 2008

Members of the local GAA club worked on Sunday to remove Fermanagh bunting and a flag that had been put up on the Newtownbutler Orange Hall by vandals who also sprayed the building with sectarian slogans.

The Worshipful Master of Newtownbutler District LOL No. 1. said this week that local members had helped in the clean-up. It is the latest in a number of attacks on the Orange Hall in the Border village.

“The Chairman of the local GAA club rang me when I found out about it and some members of the GAA club attempted to remove some of the graffiti and took down the Fermanagh bunting and flag. He was very annoyed about it and assured me it was nothing to do with the GAA club at all. I appreciated him doing it,” said the Worshipful Master.

“They were embarrassed by what was going to be clearly on display for all the fans driving past on their way to Clones. They have removed some of it but is is a very specialised job to clean the rest of it. I welcome that contact from the chairman of the GAA club. I know they were very annoyed about the fact that the Gaelic football club should be dragged into the whole thing”.

Attacks on Newtownbutler Orange Hall have been a “regular occurence”, he said. “I do not know what the idea was. I suppose first of all it is an attack because it is an Orange hall, because it is a Protestant building in town.

Secondly, to try to cause embarrassment to the Orange Order and also to the local GAA club because it as though it was supporters for the Fermanagh team and yet what was written on it was basically IRA slogans,” he said.

“It is very annoying because it is really an attack on the small Protestant community. It is also an attack on a very old historic building and paint was put on the old attractive stonework on the building. It is very, very difficult to remove. In fact there are still some traces of previous attacks on the front of the hall,” he said. The attack happened some time on Saturday night or Sunday morning.

A spokesman for the local club said: “Local GAA people removed the flags. No local GAA person would be happy with the flag being abused in that way. We would not have been happy with the actions carried out at the Orange Hall. It would not be consistent with the ethos of the Newtownbutler First Fermanagh club”.

SDLP Councillor Fergus McQuillan comented: “I was very shocked and saddened by the malicious attack on the Orange Hall in Newtownbutler on Saturday night. It is sad to realise that we have such mean spirited members in the community and the actions soured the atmosphere in the build-up to match.

“This type of action is criminal and serves no purpose. The attack was a well planned and carried out and I call on those responsible to cease now and stop trouble-making in our village”

Belfastmedia.com
North Belfast News
By Aine McEntee

NATIONALIST residents of the Whitewell Road have branded an application by the Royal Black Perceptory to march through the area next week as ‘crazy’.

Residents from Whitewell and Bawnmore joined Sinn Féin’s Councillor Tierna Cunningham and North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín in a meeting with the Parades Commission this week to outline their strict opposition to any such parade.

The parade has been lodged by the City of Belfast County Grand Black Chapter who want their one band and 140 participants to march on Friday August 1 along the route.

The proposed journey begins at Cloughfern Protestant Hall and then travels along Doagh Road, Shore Road (passing the nationalist Bawnmore estate), under the bridge and onto the Whitewell Road before finishing at Greencastle Orange Hall at the bottom of the Whitewell Road just after 9pm.

Tierna Cunningham said she would be gobsmacked if the 11 Bar One application was approved.

“I would be seriously amazed if this was granted,” she said.

“If the Parades Commission are all about fostering good relations in the community they couldn’t, in all good conscience give this march the green light.”

Fifteen years ago the Royal Black Perceptory took this route when many nationalist homes were attacked.

“This part of North Belfast and especially the Whitewell has gone from mainly mixed to mainly nationalist over the last 15 years. To parade here now would be extremely inflammatory.”

The North Belfast News tried to contact the Royal Black Perceptory at their headquarters in Lurgan and their Sovereign Grand Master Millar Farr but no one was available for comment.

By Michael McGlade
Ballymena Times
31 July 2008

**VIDEO ONSITE

A mob of up to 60 youths smashed the windows of the home of the Chairman of the Dunclug Partnership last night after material for the controversial Internment bonfire was removed from the estate.

A large number of police officers and a helicopter were deployed to help defuse the tense standoff at the home of Barry Gordon which lasted from 11.00pm until almost 2.00am.

[Watch video interview with Ballymena North Councillor PJ McAvoy onsite.]

Speaking to the Times on Thursday morning having had no sleep, Mr Gordon said the gang believed to be dissident-republican led came to his house like “rats in the night”.

“All they are, are cowards. They came creeping up to my home like rats in the night, to attack my home and shout abuse at my wife. Why could they not come to my door during the day and say what they had to say, like real men would do.”

The Chairman said he was not intimidated by the mob, but said he would have to consult with his family about whether to stay in the estate.

Police maintain a presence on Thursday afternoon

Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay and Padraig McShane both attended last night’s disturbance which also involved missiles being thrown at police officers.

Mr McKay condemned the mob and said many of them were involved in drug dealing: “A bonfire has been held in the estate here every August and a handful of people have clearly used this to carry out attacks on houses in this estate. That is why the community does not want to see a bonfire held here this year and we will support the community in taking this stance.

“Some of those who are involved in this activity are involved in the drugs trade in Ballymena. They are criminals and should be treated as such.”

Padraig McShane who is Chairperson of the Dunclug Residents Association said Barry Gordon was one of the ‘most respected men in Dunclug’.

Latest: It is understood that one person was assaulted in the Dunclug estate on Thursday afternoon as the tense standoff between a group of youths and police continued.

By Eamonn McCann
Belfast Telegraph
Thursday, 31 July 2008

The story in Monday’s Guardian headed ‘MI5 targets dissidents as Irish terror threat grows’ was based on information supplied by MI5. Even so, it might be true. Let’s see.


Headquarters of Britain’s internal security service MI5

The story told that: ‘Up to 60% of all the security service’s electronic intercepts — phone-taps and other covert technical operations — have come from (republican) dissidents … Fears (are) escalating over the intent of republicans opposed to power-sharing in the province … 80 hardcore dissidents may be plotting terrorist attacks.’

The kernel of hard news was that MI5 has now ‘completely taken over surveillance operations from police in Northern Ireland’. This significant change was thus announced not in a statement to Parliament nor in a NIO press release but in a leak from MI5.

Old newspaper hands will recall that once upon a time it was the old rascal Chapman Pincher of the Daily Express to whom the spooks would leak their latest yarn. How times change! Or not.

The timing and source of the story suggest that it had more to do with political manoeuvre than with operational change.

The figures cited strengthen the suspicion. More than half of MI5’s intercepts come from 80 ‘hardcore’ members of the Real IRA/Continuity IRA? Fewer than half from Islamic militants, agents of foreign governments and all other perceived threats to British State security combined?

In November last year, in his first public speech as director general of MI5, Jonathan Evans outlined the threat he believed would have to be countered in the future. “MI5 has now identified around 2,000 individuals who we believe pose a direct threat to national security … This increase … is due both to improved coverage of extremist communities and to the continued flow of new recruits to the extremist cause.” He was referring specifically to Islamic groups, and made no mention of Irish republicans.

Eight months later, more than half of the service’s surveillance traffic arises from the targeting of 80 republicans? It’s preposterous. But it makes sense if the point of the exercise is to pressurise Executive parties into accepting the devolution of police and justice powers without further delay.

Can the DUP continue to delay resolution of the issue if the threat from ‘dissidents’ is as massive and urgent as MI5 now says?

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein will be content that a political safety wall is already in place between itself in the Executive and the Defence of the Realm.

In fact, the division between national security and policing and justice will not be as neat or complete as this might imply. Take 42-day detention. In many, if not most, cases the arrest of suspects later subjected to the measure would be carried out by the PSNI. The ‘robust judicial scrutiny’ of 42-day applications would be undertaken by Northern Ireland judges. Blair’s assurance to Sinn Fein in January last year that MI5 would be a ‘stand-alone’ body and would not become enmeshed in devolved institutions will, in practice, prove worthless. (No change there, then.)

The demeaning and anomalous situation which will result had been signalled in an exchange between Alex Attwood of the SDLP and senior officials of the Northern Ireland Office at an Assembly committee inquiry into devolution of policing and justice in July last year. Seven MLAs attended: Jeffrey Donaldson, (DUP, chairman), Attwood (SDLP), Nelson McCausland (DUP), Ian McCrea (DUP), Alan McFarland (UUP), John O’Dowd (SF) and George Robinson (DUP). NIO representatives were Peter May and Clare Salters. The minutes show that only Attwood and McFarlane put questions to the officials. Procedural interventions by the chairman apart, none of the DUP/SF MLAs appears to have spoken.

Attwood asked how the relationship between the local institutions and security operations would work under the proposed new arrangements. “There is a credibility gap between the proposals on national security … and the authority of those (devolved) institutions?”

May: “National security is an excepted matter that will not be transferred to the devolved administration. Where the work of the devolved administration touches on matters that are national security-related, it will be necessary to consider whether devolved ministers require access to national security information and, if so, what level of that information they might receive … ”

So, when there’s an overlap between policing and security operations, as in the instances mentioned above, the British Minister — advised, it goes without saying, by MI5 — would determine what information, if any, the imperial authorities would allow the provincial politicians to have sight of.

Attwood pressed: “You have said that sufficient and appropriate information should be made available?

Mr May: “Yes, that is the objective.”

Attwood: “What does that mean and how will that be done?”

Answer came there none.

The result is that MI5, up to its neck in the dossier of lies which led Britain into the disastrous Iraq adventure, implicated in scandals in the North from the Kincora Boys’ Home to the murder of Pat Finucane, puppet-masters of the mass murderer and IRA leader Freddie Scappaticci etc, etc, the State body which, above all others, on the evidence, requires to be held to account, has been given free rein to operate across the North without scrutiny, much less control, by any local body.

All with the endorsement of Sinn Fein and in the name of making policing and justice accountable to the people and giving local institutions control.

Thus does the Belfast/Good Friday/St Andrews Agreement proceed.

Someone to watch over us? The London HQ of MI5, which claims there’s a renewed terror threat

BBC

A police unit investigating the role of an ex-Special Branch agent and UVF member in the murders of up to 16 people has been given an extra £1m.


Haddock is serving a 10-year sentence

The special unit is part of the Historical Enquiries Team.

It was set up after ex-police ombudsman Dame Nuala O’Loan said Mark Haddock and other members of his Mount Vernon gang were protected by police officers.

Haddock, from Mount Vernon in Belfast, was jailed for 10 years in 2006 for an attack on a nightclub doorman.

BBC

A Sinn Fein assembly member has been attacked by young republicans in the Dunclug estate in Ballymena, County Antrim.


Daithi McKay was attacked in a dispute over a bonfire

Daithi McKay was set upon as he left the home of a community worker who was targeted on Wednesday night. He was left shaken and injured.

The dispute started over the removal of a bonfire to commemorate internment.

The community worker, who does not want to be identified, said he was now considering leaving the estate.

“Last night there was probably up to 20 young people,” he said.

“Twenty young people who can hold a community of 900 houses to ransom.

“There is not much future for us, I can’t see how the regeneration plans are going to work.”

Independent.ie
Thursday July 31 2008

THE Supreme Court yesterday dismissed an appeal brought by Michael McKevitt against his conviction for organising terrorist activities for the Real IRA.

McKevitt had appealed the conviction and 20-year prison sentence he received five years ago on over 30 grounds including a challenge to the credibility of the State’s key witness, FBI agent David Rupert.


Michael McKevitt at a previous court hearing

McKevitt (54) Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth, appealed against his conviction by the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in August 2003 for directing terrorist activities for the Real IRA — becoming the first person in the State to be jailed on such a charge. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail by the SCC and he appealed his conviction to the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) which found the SCC judgment was safe.

He then obtained permission to have a point of law referred to the Supreme Court whose five judges yesterday unanimously agreed that the appeal should be struck out. McKevitt was not present in court for the judgment yesterday.

Credibility

In his Supreme Court action, McKevitt challenged the credibility of key witness David Rupert, claiming his defence team had not been supplied with all information in relation to him (Rupert).

Mr Rupert, a New York native, claimed he infiltrated the Real IRA and attended its Army Council meetings which McKevitt also attended.

It was claimed that the SCC failed to to address Mr Rupert’s involvement in criminal activity and that his agreement to become an FBI agent may have been motivated by a promise by the American authorities not to investigate him. Mr Rupert was involved in a number of criminal activities including people trafficking, drugs and money laundering, McKevitt’s lawyers said.

It was also argued there was inadequate disclosure of documentary evidence relevant to Mr Rupert’s credibility in the possession of authorities outside of the jurisdiction to McKevitt’s lawyers.

There had also been piecemeal and late disclosure of material, including garda surveillance records, which prejudiced McKevitt’s right to a fair trial, it was claimed.

The DPP argued that McKevitt headed the organisation of “mayhem throughout these islands and beyond”. The central evidence of Mr Rupert relating to McKevitt had not been challenged in his trial, in the CCA or in the Supreme Court, the DPP said. Giving the judgment on behalf of the Supreme Court yesterday, Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan held there was “abundant evidence” that the SCC was mindful fully of the potential unreliability of Mr Rupert’s evidence but nevertheless believed him.

“The fact that Mr Rupert may or may not have a shady background, depending on your point of view, and the fact that as a paid agent he might be suspect as a witness at any rate are neither here nor there,” the judge said.

Mr Justice Geoghegan said that the defence were provided with more than adequate material, including documents from the FBI and the British security services, about David Rupert’s past, and which related to many questionable episodes in his life. Noting that substantial amount of documents had been made to the defence, Mr Justice Geoghegan added that any problems dealing with foreign agencies appeared to have been handled with great skill and fairness.

The judge also ruled that the suggestion material disclosed at a late stage rendered the trial so unfair that the conviction should be quashed was “far fetched in the extreme”.

BBC
30 July 2008

Restorative justice schemes are to receive a £600,000 cash boost.


Mr Goggins announced the funding

Over the next three years the money will be invested in accredited community based projects (CBRJ).

Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins announced the new funding package, which is a joint venture between the NIO and the Atlantic Philanthrophies.

“CBRJ schemes have shown that they can fulfil a valuable role in working with victims and offenders in the aftermath of low level crime,” he said.

An annual funding package of £200,000 will be available to support accredited CBRJ schemes from the current financial year to 2010/11.

The Atlantic Philanthropies is an international, independent foundation which works with disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

It has actively supported the work of CBRJ schemes in Northern Ireland for nearly 10 years.

Martin O’Brien from Atlantic Philanthropies said he was glad “mainstream support” was being provided for restorative justive.

“It has already been established that community-based restorative justice has played a significant role in promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts in local communities,” he said.

“We believe that it can make a valuable contribution to building a more stable society in Northern Ireland.”

By Martina Purdy
BBC
30 July 2008

Sinn Féin has the healthiest balance sheet among Northern Ireland’s main political parties, accounts released by the Electoral Commission reveal.

The party’s income exceeded more than £1m in the past financial year.

However, it is to be fined £500 by the commission for filing its accounts late.

Sinn Féin spent most of its income last year, but still boasts a surplus of £108,000. The other four main parties are operating at a loss.

Sinn Féin, in Northern Ireland, had almost £500,000 in contributions from its members, plus donations of around £300,000, following a sharp rise in donations from the United States of America.

When grants are added, the party boasts an income of more than £1m – four times that of the DUP’s assembly party.

The DUP’s assembly accounts revealed an operating loss of about £27,000 – although income was up.

The Ulster Unionist assembly party suffered falling income and a deficit of £6,000. This compared to a loss the previous year of £16,000.

The SDLP suffered the biggest financial loss – £130,000. Although the SDLP attracted almost £400,000 through fundraising and donations, its operating costs soared.

By Mary Nelis
Sunday Journal
**Via Newshound
27 July 2008

You wonder what they are thinking, the police officers imported from England to work with The Historical Enquiries Team, who are tasked with reinvestigating some three thousand unsolved killings in the North over the past forty years. They have been at the job for almost three years and they don’t seem to be making any more progress than those whose shoddy investigative work, they are trying to address.

Initially it took them nine months to admit that over 1,000 RUC files, if such existed, were missing. You would imagine that they would already have been familiar with the saga of files going missing in the 6 Counties and turning up in the hands of Unionist paramilitaries or found in Orange Halls. Perhaps that’s why there has been such a turnover of personnel, with forty percent packing up and leaving in the first year, and another third, the following year. Did they leave out of frustration or anger at such unprofessional conduct by fellow members of a force that claimed to be a law and order agency the same as that ‘in the mainland’? Perhaps they felt that the RUC was not in the mould of the traditional British Bobby. Whatever, a lot of the British police officers seconded to the HET couldn’t stay the pace and left, maybe for no other reason in that they were just here in the first instance to make a fast buck.

It is clear that the process of investigating the unsolved killings is going to cost more and take longer than the six year £ 34 million budget, set up by Peter Hain, especially if they continue to have staffing problems. The HET has reached the halfway mark in terms of time but are only at 1974, in terms of the examination of cases.

That said, the HET team which includes key individual officers from the Stephens enquiries, must surely wonder why there are so many ‘unsolved killings’, almost three thousand, and how the RUC, the most highly paid police force in the entire UK, got away with turning the proverbial blind eye to deaths that were going on around them. Everyone knows including the HET that the RUC had almost unlimited resources to do the job.

In 1969, the RUC had some 3,500 members with a further 8,000 in the B-Specials, mostly part time. By 1973 that number had tripled to some 23,000, including the newly formed Ulster Defence regiment. That remained the situation for the next thirty years, which meant that there was one member of the armed services for every 69 people in the North.

Many will argue that the reason the RUC failed to do the job they were paid to do was because there was a war raging on the streets although neither the RUC or the British Government or Unionism, have acknowledged that the conflict of the past forty years was a war, guerrilla or otherwise.

The ‘problem’ was law and order. That being the case, one wonders that with a garrison which rarely dropped below 23,000, at their disposal, the RUC recruited mainly from the Unionist community, the RUC failed to properly investigate the deaths of combatants and civilians alike.

Not only did they fail as suggested by the eminent lawyer Paddy Hillyard in the book, Justice Under Fire,’ to police crime’ , their primary objective as police was focused on harassing the entire Catholic population whom they regarded as ‘suspect’ and disloyal .

Some 24,000 people were detained during arrest and search operations, in the years 1972 -1977, years that recorded the highest number of fatalities in the conflict.

The total number of arrests over a fifteen year period up to 1986, was a staggering 75, 000, the majority of whom were from the Catholic community.

House searches over the same period numbered 170,000 a statistic which revealed that every Catholic house in the North was searched at least twice.

With such harassment of the Catholic population occupying the energies of the RUC, it was highly probable that they would not be too bothered when non combatants were murdered in the streets. Nor would they have been preoccupied with arresting those involved.

In retrospect it is clear that the RUC and the British intelligence services, many of whom were involved directly or indirectly in the sectarian murders of Catholics, were working to British political agenda of defeating the IRA no matter what the cost in terms of lives lost and secure in the knowledge that there would be no questions asked or no investigations carried out.

The legacy of silence around almost three thousand deaths, has been broken by the relatives of the bereaved and by the work of organisations such as The Relatives for Justice, the Pat Finnucane Centre, Healing Through Remembrance, Cunamh, and ordinary people who want answers from those who deliberately sabotaged investigations, destroyed evidence and told lies and who walked into the sunset of retirement with a golden handshake from Patton.

The HET need to assure relatives that those who were responsible for missing files, those who destroyed evidence, those who failed to do the job that they were paid to do, will be made amenable to the law. That another British Government enquiry has had to search police stations for missing files is of concern to all who recall the attempts to destroy evidence in the Stephens enquiry.

That the work of the HET is being impeded by lack of co-operation not only from past members of the RUC but also by many of the Special Branch promoted to top jobs within the PSNI .

It is essential if this enquiry is to have any credibility that such personnel are questioned on the issue of the destruction of evidence crucial to the investigations of the cover up of the murder of citizens by the State.

It would be nice to think that the British Government in setting up the HET is responding to the demands of relatives for the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and why they had never been given any information on the circumstances surrounding their deaths or why there was no proper investigation by those being paid handsomely for that service.

It would be nice to know how many of the cases under investigation involved killings by the RUC or the intelligence services or how many died as the result of State agencies protecting informers.

No matter the motives for the current politically engineered Historic Enquiry, it will lack any credibility while the British continue to suppress the Stephens reports and while those who added to the pain and suffering of the bereaved, are not held to account.

Not only did they fail as suggested by the eminent lawyer Paddy Hillyard in the book, Justice Under Fire,’ to police crime’ , their primary objective as police was focused on harassing the entire Catholic population whom they regarded as ‘suspect’ and disloyal .

Some 24,000 people were detained during arrest and search operations, in the years 1972 -1977, years that recorded the highest number of fatalities in the conflict. The total number of arrests over a fifteen year period up to 1986, was a staggering 75, 000, the majority of whom were from the Catholic community. House searches over the same period numbered 170,000 a statistic which revealed that every Catholic house in the North was searched at least twice. With such harassment of the Catholic population occupying the energies of the RUC, it was highly probable that they would not be too bothered when non combatants were murdered in the streets. Nor would they have been preoccupied with arresting those involved.

In retrospect it is clear that the RUC and the British intelligence services, many of whom were involved directly or indirectly in the sectarian murders of Catholics, were working to British political agenda of defeating the IRA no matter what the cost in terms of lives lost and secure in the knowledge that there would be no questions asked or no investigations carried out.

The legacy of silence around almost three thousand deaths, has been broken by the relatives of the bereaved and by the work of organisations such as The Relatives for Justice, the Pat Finnucane Centre, Healing Through Remembrance, Cunamh, and ordinary people who want answers from those who deliberately sabotaged investigations, destroyed evidence and told lies and who walked into the sunset of retirement with a golden handshake from Patton.

The HET need to assure relatives that those who were responsible for missing files, those who destroyed evidence, those who failed to do the job that they were paid to do, will be made amenable to the law. That another British Government enquiry has had to search police stations for missing files is of concern to all who recall the attempts to destroy evidence in the Stephens enquiry. That the work of the HET is being impeded by lack of co-operation not only from past members of the RUC but also by many of the Special Branch promoted to top jobs within the PSNI . It is essential if this enquiry is to have any credibility that such personnel are questioned on the issue of the destruction of evidence crucial to the investigations of the cover up of the murder of citizens by the State.

It would be nice to think that the British Government in setting up the HET is responding to the demands of relatives for the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and why they had never been given any information on the circumstances surrounding their deaths or why there was no proper investigation by those being paid handsomely for that service.

It would be nice to know how many of the cases under investigation involved killings by the RUC or the intelligence services or how many died as the result of State agencies protecting informers. No matter the motives for the current politically engineered Historic Enquiry, it will lack any credibility while the British continue to suppress the Stephens reports and while those who added to the pain and suffering of the bereaved, are not held to account.

The political history of the past few years has shown that deadlines rarely work.

By Vincent Kearney
BBC

Many have been set by the government, with declarations by prime ministers and secretaries of state that they were set in stone.

Then, almost inevitably, they have been extended, with the government insisting that progress had been made and that it had not been forced to climb down.

Now another deadline has been set.

The UDA and UVF have both been put on notice that they have six months to convince the government that they are serious about decommissioning their weapons.

If they do not, the secretary of state, Shaun Woodward, will not renew the legislation that allows the international decommissioning body headed by General John de Chastelain to operate.

The loyalist groups have been told that they would then be treated simply as criminal gangs, and not as paramilitary organisations.

As it stands, weapons that are decommissioned are not forensically tested for evidence that could be used to prosecute those who used them.

If the government carries out its threat to decommission the general and his team, any weapons found after that date would be tested and the results could be used in future court cases.

That message has been delivered publicly a number of times by Shaun Woodward in recent weeks, and was reinforced during secret talks between the government and the UDA leadership at Stormont on Monday night.

When asked about the meeting, the NIO chose its words very carefully, stating that the minister had private talks with the political representatives of the UDA and “other leading loyalists”.

But the fact is that the security minister Paul Goggins and Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde sat down with the leadership of the UDA.

The majority of the UDA’s ruling inner council were there.

General de Chastelain and his two fellow commission members, Tauno Nieminen and Andrew Sens, started work in September 1997.

The commission has cost almost £9m, shared by the British and Irish governments.

That was considered money well spent when the IRA decommissioned its vast arsenal of weapons three years ago, but since then, the commission has had little to show for its efforts.

The UVF last year said its weapons had been “put beyond reach”, meaning the organisation has retained control of the weapons and it shows no signs of giving them up.

The same is true of the UDA. Jackie McDonald, the man regarded as the organisation’s leader, last year said decommissioning “wasn’t even on the radar screen”.

Now we’re told that the organisation is now discussing the issue.

It has met the commission a number of times, with the most recent encounter earlier this month and there are plans for further talks.

The government hopes that signals a change and that the UDA will soon act on decommissioning rather than simply talk about it.

It is taking a huge gamble by publicly signalling a commitment to decommission the international commission if that does not happen.

It will be very difficult for the government to fudge the issue if the UDA doesn’t, at the very least, give a firm commitment to decommission weapons, and agree the modalities for doing so.

Anything less than that will be viewed as failure.

And what must Margaret Ritchie, the social development minister, make of it all?

Many within the Northern Ireland Office were unhappy when she withdrew funding for a UDA-linked project in loyalist areas earlier this year because the UDA had failed to meet her deadline for decommissioning.

Publicly, NIO ministers did not criticise her. But privately, many civil servants and policy advisors criticised her and said the imposition of a deadline wouldn’t work.

Now the government itself is setting a deadline for progress.

The UDA is hinting that some progress can be made, but it is far from straightforward.

The organisation says the majority of its members and supporters are opposed to any move on weapons and will have to be “persuaded” that it is the right thing to do.

“We don’t care what politicians say, if they want to know how our supporters feel about this they should into working class loyalist areas and ask them,” says one senior UDA member.

“I can tell you that they are absolutely opposed to decommissioning weapons and it will take a lot to convince them that we should.”

The government says that is simply an excuse.

The UDA believes the process of persuasion should include investment in its heartlands, and some form of role for the organisation.

Having spent longer than 30 years involved in terrorism and crime, it now craves approval and acceptance by government, politicians and even the business community.

It wants to be “brought in from the cold”.

That is something the government may not be able to deliver, and if it does not, it is highly unlikely that the UDA will give up its guns.

General de Chastelain may yet have his term of employment extended, just like the latest deadline.

BBC

Prominent republican Thomas “Slab” Murphy is to get a High Court hearing in Dublin in a bid to prevent his trial for alleged revenue offences.


Thomas “Slab” Murphy has won a judicial review

Mr Murphy, 58, from County Louth, is being prosecuted after an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

The charges allege he failed to furnish a return of his income, profits or gains for the years 1996/97 to 2004.

A prosecution solicitor said the court would hear judicial review proceedings brought by Mr Murphy on 18 November.

He was returned for trial to the Special Criminal Court last January from Dundalk District Court.

The court had remanded Mr Murphy on continuing bail until the end of December to allow the judicial review to proceed.

He was in court for the brief hearing.

The Special Criminal Court normally deals with terrorist-related offences.

However, the Director of Public Prosecutions has the discretion in any case to certify that ordinary courts are inadequate to deal with it and to send it for trial to the three-judge non-jury court.

BBC

The reputed leader of the Real IRA Michael McKevitt has lost an appeal in Dublin against his conviction for directing terrorism.


Michael McKevitt was jailed for 20 years

McKevitt, 54, from Blackrock County Louth, is serving 20 years.

He lost his action at the Supreme Court in which he claimed his trial was unfair.

McKevitt claimed he did not get a fair trial because his team had not been supplied with all information relating to key witness, FBI agent David Rupert.

However, five Supreme Court judges ruled the conviction was safe and dismissed the appeal.

McKevitt was jailed by the Special Criminal Court in August 2003 for organising terrorist activities for the Real IRA.

The Court of Criminal Appeal upheld his conviction and McKevitt went to the Supreme Court.

His lawyers argued the Irish judiciary failed to have an appropriate system in place to disclose documents relating to prosecution witness David Rupert.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court found the prosecution depended to an overwhelming extent on the evidence of Mr Rupert.

Mr Rupert had been employed by both the FBI and the British security services.

The court heard that he had a somewhat “shady reputation”, but Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan said “the fact that Mr Rupert may or may not have had a shady background and the fact that as a paid agent he might be suspect as a witness, at any rate are neither here nor there”.

However, it was found that the prosecution’s obligations of disclosure had been fulfilled because all reasonable efforts had been made in good faith to secure documentation.

It also found that the Special Criminal Court believed David Rupert, and that finding could not be interfered with.

Summing up his 41-page judgement Mr Justice Geoghegan added: “I believe the conviction to be safe and I would dismiss the appeal.”

McKevitt is also one of five men being sued by the relatives of the Omagh bomb victims.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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