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Monday, 30 March 2009
Denis Bradley has warned that if the proposals of the Consultative Commission into the Past are ignored, there could be 30 years of public enquiries.
Mr Bradley, who led a group which examined the legacy of 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland, was speaking at the British/Irish Inter-parliamentary Assembly in Donegal.
He made a final appeal to the Secretary of State to have its recommendations implemented.
The Consultative Group on the Past called for a ‘recognition payment’ of £12,000 to be given to each victim of the Troubles.
In recent years the Irish Government paid out €15,000 to up to 300 of its citizens who were victims of the violence.
“We cannot see victims being recognised in the south and not in the north,” Mr Bradley said.
Mr Bradley and his co-chair, Lord Robin Eames were making their final public appearance before their Consultative Group on the Past is disbanded.
Their report, which was complied after 18 months of consultation, is being considered by the Secretary of State and by the Irish Government.
They told the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (Bipa) that the British government would be making a very significant gesture by agreeing to the recognition payment.
But DUP MLA Jim Wells said the unionist community was appalled by the principle of recognition payments.
“To compare the Shankill butchers and bombers and the Shankill victims sticks in the throat of most ordinary people,” he told delegates.
“To say the tears of the mother of an IRA terrorist shot by the police are the same as the tears for an RUC officer shot by a terrorist is wrong.”
He called for a new definition for victims of the Troubles.
But Mr Bradley said: “Working class unionism has no difficulty with this but middle unionism doesn’t want to grasp this nettle.”
He added: “It can be a very healing gesture that after these conflicts, you have to give recognition to the victims.”
Lord Eames claimed politicians and others had lobbied his group for recognition payments for individual victims’ groups.
“We didn’t pluck it out of thin air. The issue came up from a very wide section of opinion that we were consulting with,” he explained.
Mr Bradley also said the Historical Enquiries Team and the Police Ombudsman would both cost £100m over the next five years.
He also claimed that up to 300 police officers will be spending their entire time dealing with historical cases, which will also cost £100m.
LURGAN republican Colin Duffy is expected to apply for high court bail this morning after being charged with the murder of two soldiers at Massereene army barracks.
The 41 year-old appeared in court last Friday charged with the murders of sappers Mark Quinsey (23) and Cengiz ‘Patrick’ Azimkar (21).
The soldiers were attacked as they collected pizzas at the gates of the barracks.
Meanwhile, two men and a woman were being questioned last night about dissident republican activity after a house raid in north Dublin.
Several homes were evacuated at Ulster Street, in Phibsboro, when investigating detectives found what they believed to be suspicious devices.
These were later found to be pipes and no other explosive material was discovered in the upstairs flat.
Two men and a woman, all in their thirties and from Dublin, who were at the house when it was raided, are being held at Donnybrook and Blackrock Garda stations in south Dublin.
They are being questioned under section 30 of the Offences against the State Act and can be held for 48 hours.
A Garda source said detectives were investigating the activities of the Continuity IRA.
By Ciarán Barnes
Monday 31st of March 2009
Dissident republicans are using hoax bomb-scares as training and information gathering exercises for young recruits.
Last Thursday the Whiterock Road was cordoned off after a hoax device was discovered near the local leisure centre. Three days earlier a similar incident occurred on Ardcaoin Avenue in Poleglass when devices were discovered attached to lampposts.
In both cases the suspected bombs were declared hoaxes after being examined by British army bomb disposal squads.
Locals were mystified as to the reasoning behind the bomb scares. However, the Andersonstown News has learned dissident republicans are using them to train young recruits in surveillance and information gathering techniques.
“It’s an age old trick,” said one well-placed source.
“Dissidents are using the hoaxes to clock the faces of PSNI officers and British soldiers, and to see how many respond to emergency calls, what set-up and patterns they adopt and with what security precautions. The IRA always used every opportunity to gather information. The dissidents are doing exactly the same.”
Earlier this month PSNI officers in West Belfast were warned to increase their personal security after the dissident republican murders of two British soldiers and a police officer.
An internal PSNI document, leaked to the Andersonstown News, advised officers and staff to “be aware of their personal security at this time of increased threat”.
It read: “Avoid setting patterns and be aware of your surroundings, especially when travelling to and from work. Vehicles should also be checked prior to use.
“There is no specific threat to any individual or location at this time. Please brief any staff under your command of this message. Any inquiries should be directed to the Intel Unit.”
Three hundred and fifty children at a primary school in Belfast have been sent home because of a security alert.
St Aidan’s PS on the Springfield Road closed due to a suspect object on the Whiterock Road. Police later said it was a false alarm.
There is another alert on the Springfield Road, which is closed near Mackie’s factory.
A similar alert earlier closed Ligoneil Road between Mountainhill Road and Crumlin Road. It was declared a hoax.
The alerts come a day after widespread disruption caused by hoax bomb alerts and hijackings across Belfast.
During Monday’s chaos, a number of vehicles were hijacked and burnt out. Two Housing Executive workers were carrying out repairs in Ardoyne when their vehicle was hijacked.
A device was thrown onto a lemonade van in Finaghy Road North.
The driver was told to drive it under a bridge but a spokesperson for Maine Soft Drinks Ltd said he drove it to waste ground.
North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Carol Ni Chuilin said people living in nationalist and republican areas were badly affected by the violence.
“This is criminality here… working class republican and nationalist people put out of their homes, intimidated, robbed, attacked… how is this going to unite Ireland?” she said.
All the roads effected by Monday’s rush hour disturbances have since been reopened.
**And how traumatic was it for his girlfriend to know he had raped a 15 year old?
A man shot in both legs in a paramilitary-style attack in Derry was awaiting sentencing for raping a 15-year-old schoolgirl.
Keith Burnside, 37, was shot in his Rosemount Gardens home by two masked men in front of his girlfriend and two children at about 2315 BST on Monday.
Burnside was convicted in March of raping a girl in his car at Sandbank Cottages in 2000.
He is being treated in hospital for his injuries.
SDLP Councillor Mark H. Durkan said he had spoken to Keith Burnside’s girlfriend who witnessed the attack.
“She’s in an awful state of shock, it was an extremely traumatic experience for everyone involved,” he said.
“There were two young children in the house, a 12-week-old baby and a six-year-old who saw everything.”
Councillor Durkan said he did not discuss the motive for the shooting.
“This attack must be condemned regardless of what it was in connection with,” he added.
“We cannot have this law of the jungle where people are taking the law into their own hands.”
Burnside was due to be sentenced for the rape shortly.
During the trial the court heard that his victim blocked the attack out of her mind for seven years before reporting it, after the accused smirked at her outside a nightclub.
A defence application was due to be heard in Derry Crown Court on Tuesday but was adjourned when the court was told of the attack.
Community worker Tommy McCourt said such incidents made people fearful of a return to violence. “It takes you back to the bad old days,” he said.
“We believed that those days had passed and nobody wants to see this kind of thing happening again.”
SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey also condemned the attack. “The people who carried out this shooting have no support from the local community and no place in a civilised society,” he said.
The police said that those responsible were of slim build and wore tracksuits, baseball caps, and scarves over their faces.
The first man was 5ft 10ins and the second 6ft 2ins.
They want anyone who was in the area at the time and may have seen the men to contact them.
The proportion of Catholic officers in the PSNI is at an all time high of 26%.
The figure was revealed by the security minister Paul Goggins in a statement to the House of Commons.
The government has a target of 30% by 2011 at which point 50:50 recruitment will end.
Mr Goggins said progress had been made in other areas with female composition nearly doubling, from 12% in 2001 to 23.43% today, and 31 officers coming from an ethnic minority background.
He said the PSNI was “on course” to reach the 30% Catholic composition target by 2010/11, “as stated in the Patten Report”.
“Since the introduction of the temporary 50:50 provisions in 2001, tremendous progress has been made towards a more representative police service and our ultimate goal of 30% Catholic composition,” Mr Goggins said.
“At the time of the Patten Report the Catholic composition was just 8.3%, today it is 26.14%.
“In addition, female composition has nearly doubled, from 12% in 2001 to 23.43% today and there are currently 31 officers from an ethnic minority background including Pakistani, Black Caribbean, Chinese and Indian.
“The St Andrews Agreement makes it clear that the temporary arrangements to the PSNI will lapse when the Government’s target of 30% Catholic officers has been achieved. We are on course to reach this target by 2010/2011.”
Sinn Fein Policing Board member Sinn Fein Daithí McKay said he was concerned by under representation of Catholics officers at senior ranks.
“Our objective must be to ensure that we have a policing service that is representative, accountable and effective,” he said.
“Central to this is not just bringing the composition level up of Catholics, but also representation across all of the ranks.
“I am also concerned that we now have more officers based at PSNI headquarters than at the time the Patten report was written. This is clearly a backward step and must be addressed.”
The DUP’s Diane Dodds welcomed the rise in the recruitment of Catholics, but said it did not “justify the use of discriminatory 50:50 recruitment”.
“There has been strong evidence over recent years that the 50:50 recruitment policy has had a detrimental effect on the willingness of young people from outside the Catholic community to go forward for positions within the police,” she said.
“There must be strong encouragement given to all sections of our society to consider policing as a career and then the best candidates for the job selected from that pool on the basis of merit alone.”
30 March 2009
GRAND Master of the Orange Order Robert Saulters has urged the unionist and Protestant community to engage with the Historical Enquiries Team.
The HET is investigating all unresolved or disputed killings throughout the Troubles.
Mr Saulters said the HET were carrying out a very important function.
He added: “We have recently seen the debacle over the Eames-Bradley Report and their failure to understand the difference between the perpetrators and the victims of violence.
“There was also the offensive recommendation that the families of every single person who died in the Troubles should receive compensation. That recommendation made no distinction between the paramilitaries and the rest of our community.
“The Orange Order knows all about the grief caused by terrorism. More than 330 Orangemen died in the Troubles. Many of them were serving in the security forces at the time, some were going about their normal routine and some were even murdered while attending Orange meetings.
“One-tenth of the people who died in the Troubles were Orangemen, so we believe we have a right to speak up on their behalf.”
Mr Saulters said experience showed that the public wanted the kind of resolution the HET could offer and encouraged people to engage with the team.
“Our research has shown that these families do not want blood money. They want people convicted for the murders of their loved ones and they also want to know the truth about what happened.
“Members of the unionist and Protestant community have been slow to engage fully with the HET and I would strongly urge them to be more positive about what they are trying to achieve and support them where possible.”
He said access to the truth was needed for closure for relatives.
Mr Saulters added: “The work of HET will not bring back those who died but it will bring an understanding of the circumstances and may, in a small way, reduce the pain and suffering endured by so many families.
“We will continue to work with HET to ensure that there is a proper perspective on the history of the Troubles and I would personally encourage people in our community to do likewise.”
March 31 2009
Suspected IRA dissidents and their supporters hijacked cars last night in working-class Catholic areas of Northern Ireland in a co-ordinated effort to block roads and threaten police stations, police said.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it had received a wave of reports of vehicles being hijacked by masked gunmen in several parts of Belfast and in the Kilwilkie district of Lurgan, a power base for Irish Republican Army dissidents, southwest of Belfast.
Some vehicles were set on fire in roads to disrupt traffic at rush hour, while others were abandoned near four Belfast police stations and on Northern Ireland’s major motorway near Lurgan.
Police said they were treating all the abandoned vehicles as potential car bombs, although they cautioned this was unlikely. They urged motorists to avoid Kilwilkie and parts of Catholic west Belfast.
Yesterday’s upheaval came at the end of a month in which IRA dissidents shot to death two soldiers and a policeman – the first killings of British security forces since 1998, the year of Northern Ireland’s peace accord.
Police said at least two cars were hijacked in Lurgan’s Kilwilkie district, the power base of suspected IRA dissident Colin Duffy. Duffy, 41, was charged last week with murdering the two soldiers.
One of the hijacked cars was abandoned on the M1 motorway, which connects Belfast to Dublin, 100 miles to the south. Authorities shut part of the motorway as a precaution.
One abandoned vehicle was left near the Stormont Parliamentary Building, the centre of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government.
The coalition’s Protestant leader, First Minister Peter Robinson, said the rising dissident IRA threat would not spur Protestants to sever links with Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party that represents most Catholics today.
From the Times
March 31, 2009
A SERIES of bomb warnings and security alerts paralysed Belfast last night in a show of strength by republican dissidents determined to restart Northern Ireland’s Troubles.
The scale and co-ordination of the bomb alerts marked a significant change in the republicans’ capacity to cause serious disruption in areas hitherto under the de facto control of the Provisional IRA.
It was also being interpreted as a riposte to Sinn Fein and the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s description of republicans intent on pursuing a physical force agenda as “micro-groups” with no support. Scores of people would have been required to organise and carry out the bomb alerts.
They began at 4pm, as the rush-hour traffic began to flow, with a van being burnt on the Upper Crumlin Road in north Belfast, close to the Holy Cross Catholic church and the hardline republican Ardoyne district.
Shortly after that an Army disposal unit was dealing with an abandoned vehicle near Tennant Road police station – setting a pattern that was replicated across the city with more suspicious vehicles left near police stations.
An abandoned vehicle on the M1 forced the closure of Northern Ireland’s busiest motorway as traffic streamed out Belfast towards the city of Lisburn, Co Antrim. Police also advised people to stay away from the Kilwilkie estate in Lurgan, Co Armagh, where a number of vehicles were hijacked. The area is a stronghold of dissident republicans. Rioting broke out on the estate a fortnight ago.
North Queen Street, Tennant Street, Kingsway at Dunmurry, Blacks Road and Stewartstown Road – all arterial routes – were closed because of alerts at police stations. Upper Newtownards Road was closed after the Stormont hotel, which is next to the Stormont Parliament buildings, was evacuated because of a bomb warning.
The incidents caused the worst disruption for years in Belfast and marked the return of a tactic used widely and for many years by the Provisionals as part of their campaign to bring the province’s economy to a standstill.
The Ulster Unionists and the cross-community Alliance Party were the first politicians to react, condemning republicans for the chaos. Sir Reg Empey, leader of the Ulster Unionists, said that “criminals” would not succeed in dragging Northern Ireland back to its violent past if the whole community stood together.
Jim Allister MEP, leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice, said the “hijacking and burning spree confirms a pattern which I predicted, that as republican terrorists reassert themselves they will seek to demonstrate they can do everything the Provos perfected. The rundown in the police and security forces, all at the behest of Sinn Fein, has left us ill-equipped to deal with resurgent IRA violence.
The upsurge in unrest on a level not seen in years comes three weeks after the Real IRA said it shot dead two soldiers and the Continuity IRA claimed the murder of a police officer in the space of 48 hours.
Dissidents burn hijacked vehicles in Belfast attacks
By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
A series of hijackings and vehicle burnings across Belfast during yesterday’s tea-time rush hour caused major traffic jams as dissident republicans again went on the rampage. Some vehicles were set on fire while others were abandoned close to police stations, sparking security alerts in the north and west of the city.
The M1 motorway, one of Northern Ireland’s busiest roads, was shut down after a hijacked vehicle was abandoned close to one of its intersections. Disruption was also caused in the Craigavon area where a police officer was recently shot dead by dissidents. The tactic of causing multiple bomb alerts was a familiar one in past years in Belfast where experience showed that, even if no actual explosive devices were used, the security forces could take no chances. This meant that even a few abandoned vehicles caused diversions which, at busy times of day, would result in major traffic snarl-ups. This happened yesterday, when police had no choice but to close off various important routes.
The use of a number of vehicles put the army’s resident bomb disposal unit, which has been scaled back in recent years, at full stretch, meaning that hours pass before all suspect cars and vans can be declared safe.
By late last night many of the incidents had been dealt with but some areas remained sealed off.
The disruption is regarded as the work of either the Real IRA or the Continuity IRA, the small groups which earlier this month were responsible for killing a policeman and two soldiers.
For the terrorists the disruption represents a low-risk and low-cost means of bringing a major city to a halt using only a few dozen of their members. Few arrests have been made in the wake of such dislocation. Television images of burning vehicles provides violent images which give viewers the impression that all of Belfast is aflame.
The incidents were condemned by a range of local political figures, most notably Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson. He said: “The criminal terrorists responsible for the series of bomb-scares and hijackings are beneath contempt and have no support whatsoever in the community.
“In recent weeks, Northern Ireland has sent these murderers the message loud and clear. We will not be dragged back into death and mayhem. These criminals will fail because of the resolve of the people of Northern Ireland.”
Sinn Fein said: “These actions are wrong and counter-productive to anything that our communities want. We would like the spokespeople of those behind these alerts to come forward and explain how this will in any way achieve a united Ireland.”
Saturday 28 March 2009
An Irish businessman has become the first person to be convicted in connection with the Northern Bank robbery, which netted the IRA more than £26m.
Ted Cunningham, 60, a Cork-based financial adviser, was found guilty yesterday of laundering more than £3m connected with the heist – the biggest cash robbery in the UK.
After deliberating for nearly six hours, a jury of seven men and five women at Cork circuit criminal court found Cunningham guilty on 10 counts relating to money laundering.
The jury heard evidence from 75 prosecution witnesses and two defence witnesses, and they were given access to 65 exhibits produced in the case, which began on 14 January.
Judge Con Murphy told the jury on Thursday he was sending them home for the evening. He asked them to reconvene at 10.30am yesterday at the courthouse to resume deliberations. “This is the people of Ireland against Mr Cunningham, not the Northern Bank against Mr Cunningham or the garda against Mr Cunningham. I require from you a unanimous verdict on each of the 10 charges.”
The judge, who spent more than 11 hours summing up the case, told the jury that to convict Cunningham they had to be almost certain that he possessed or used the money at issue and that he knew or believed it to be stolen.
The robbery at the Northern Bank’s Belfast headquarters was carried out by the IRA, according to Sir Hugh Orde, chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Cunningham is due back in court for sentencing on 24 April.
The first minister said those behind a series of security alerts in Belfast on Monday were “beneath contempt”.
A number of vehicles have been hijacked and set alight across Belfast
North Queen Street is closed due to an alert at a police station. Hillview Road in the Oldpark area is closed.
King’s Way in Dunmurry has been reopened as far as Upper Dunmurry Lane, but the area around the police station remains closed.
The M1 city-bound is closed at Lurgan because of an abandoned vehicle which the police believe was hijacked.
The Upper Springfield Road in Belfast is now passable after a fire in a hijacked lorry was put out.
Tennant Street, Blacks Roads, Stewartstown Road, Andersonstown Road and Upper Newtownards Road in the city have been reopened.
The alerts at Tennant Street and Woodbourne police stations have been declared hoaxes, as has an alert at the Stormont Hotel.
A van which was burnt out close to Holy Cross church on the Crumlin Road in Belfast is also causing disruption, the police said.
There are reports that two cars have been hijacked in the Kilwilkie area of Lurgan, which police have advised motorists to avoid.
Peter Robinson said those responsible would not succeed in “dragging Northern Ireland backwards”.
“The criminal terrorists responsible for the series of bomb scares and hijackings have no support whatsoever in the community,” he said.
“Those who would try to destabilise and destroy Northern Ireland will fail. We won’t be going back.”
Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Carál Ní Chuilín, said they had “no strategy”.
“These actions are wrong and counterproductive to anything that our communities want,” she added.
“I would like the spokespeople of those behind these alerts to come forward and explain how this will in any way achieve a united Ireland.”
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the disruption was caused by “republican elements who are determined to pursue their warped campaign regardless of the cost”.
“As this is yet another test for our community, I appeal again for people to remain calm and not under any circumstances to retaliate.”
East Belfast Alliance MLA Naomi Long said the hoax alerts were “despicable”.
“These micro groups can not and will not be allowed to de-rail the progress made in recent years,” she said.
“I would urge anybody with any information about any of these security alerts to contact the police.”
By Bernie Wright – Greyhound Action Ireland
**Click the link for the images and contact info
Yesterday the Minister for Sport Martin Cullen (whose Department grants millions of Euro to the Greyhound and Horse racing fund annually ) was stopped and confrunted by lifesize photos of dead and mutilated greyhounds at Kilashee House Hotel Naas.
No ears, no tatoos,no accountability
He was taken completely unawares as protestors waited for his entrance into the Hotel lobby. As Gardai waited at the Hotel main entrance we sat quietly and waited till he was in the hotel Lobby to make sure he knew the demise of past their peak racing dogs. He made no comment but looked shocked as he was quickly ushered away by hotel staff . we were then told to get out of the Hotel.
Our point made (despite not getting him in the photo) we intend to continue our fight to END GREYHOUND SUBSIDIES AND GRANTS.
Amazingly the Greyhound Industry are more low key this year as last years event was a black tie affair. Reflecting the decline in the Industry no national media appear to cover the event.
Without taxpayers millions this industry will fold!
U BET -THEY DIE
Related Link: http://www.greyhoundaction.org.uk
30 March 2009
Police chief Sir Hugh Orde is being urged to investigate “absolutely disgraceful” remarks made by a Derry-based republican.
At a news conference in Belfast, Republican Sinn Fein’s publicity director, Derry man Richard Walsh, said Irish people had the right to use “any level of controlled and disciplined force to drive the British out of Ireland.”
Republican Sinn Fein is reported to be the political wing of the Continuity IRA which admitted the recent killing of police constable Stephen Carroll.
At the press conference, Mr Walsh also complained about the length of the detention of suspects at Antrim police station and responded to the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness’ description of those behind the recent killings as “traitors to the people of Ireland” by saying Mr McGuinness and Gerry Adams had been guilty of “severe treachery”.
“We have always upheld the rights to the Irish people to use any level of controlled and disciplined force to drive the British out of Ireland. We make no apology for that,” he said.
While admitting the deaths of soldiers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey and constable Stephen Carroll were “regrettable”, Mr Walsh said dissident republicans made no apology for “defending” themselves.
“The reality is that when you have occupation within a country there is invariably resistance, including armed resistance,” he added.
DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt – a former Police Federation spokesman – branded the remarks as “absolutely disgraceful”.
He added: “We will be asking the chief constable to investigate these remarks for incitement to hatred. It was also noted that this group, made of individuals we know little or nothing about, appears to have offices in west Belfast.”
Security is being heightened as politicians from Ireland and the British Isles gather for a major conference in Donegal.
The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly is meeting for two days and will condemn recent killings carried out by dissident republicans.
A special motion will be proposed by Fianna Fail TD Niall Blaney, and seconded by ex-NI Secretary Peter Hain.
Mr Hain said the dissident groups had to be thwarted.
“It wasn’t a surprise to me that those killings happened. Hugh Orde had said at some point it was likely the dissident groups would bring success in their own hideous terms,” he said.
“But things have moved on so far in Northern Ireland that they are not going to be taken back to the terrible Troubles of the past by those killings.
“They were committed by very small groups, who are very marginalised and they are on the fringes of even republicans.”
Mr Blaney said there were concerns related to security matters.
“It is something we must review to ensure security is stepped-up”, he said.
The conference, in the Solís Lough Eske Castle Hotel, near Donegal town will also hear from Lord Eames and Dennis Bradley on their recent proposals for victims of the Troubles.
On Tuesday, Northern Ireland Finance Minister Nigel Dodds and Danny Kennedy, of the Ulster Unionist Party, will address the assembly.
The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly was formerly The British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body. It was formally established in 1990 as a link between Westminster and Dublin.
It has 25 British and 25 Irish members with membership extended recently to include representatives from the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
March 29, 2009
The Glasgow-based artist has been comissioned to make a piece focused on the legacy of the divisive period
Buchanan will film republican and unionist bands from Glasgow in Belfast to evoke the conflict
Roddy Buchanan, the Glasgow-based artist, has been appointed by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) as the official war artist for the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
He has been commissioned to make a visual artwork for the museum’s collection reflecting on the legacy of the conflict. The centrepiece will be a film looking at the Troubles through the eyes of members of two flute bands, one republican and one loyalist, based in Glasgow.
However, the appointment has been criticised by unionists who claim it could give the impression of seeking to elevate the conflict to the status of a war. They also said it was insensitive given the recent killings of two soldiers and a policeman in Northern Ireland.
Museum officials appointed Buchanan, 43, after being impressed by his 2007 exhibition on sectarianism in the west of Scotland. Histrionics, which was shown at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, included two films on the bands; the Parkhead Republican Flute Band and the Black Skull Corps of Fife and Drum.
He is due to complete the visual artwork, which will feature the bands during the marching season in Northern Ireland, later this year and it will be displayed at the IWM in London.
“The war museum had been looking to develop something in relation to the engagement of the British Army in Northern Ireland,” said Buchanan. “It was something that they felt they hadn’t covered thoroughly enough considering the magnitude of the engagement.
“The guys in the bands are the guys who were much on the streets from the hunger strikes to the present day. They were there all through the Northern Ireland experience. It’s a legacy artwork and one of the legacies of the Troubles is this growing band culture with the reduction of recruitment within paramilitary institutions which has not really been given much of a platform.”
However, William Frazer, of the campaign group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, said: “I think it’s insulting that the war museum should be doing this. They are giving a status to what happened which it doesn’t deserve.
“People have been retraumatised by the recent killings and this is not what we need when people are telling us that we have to move on all the time.
“The Imperial War Museum should stick to what it was set up to do, which is remember soldiers who have died in wars. What happened in Northern Ireland was not a war and this film sounds as if it has nothing to do with a war museum. This is giving a voice to certain sections of the community who don’t deserve to be heard.”
A spokesman for the Democratic Unionist Party said: “The DUP recognises and appreciates the value of the work of the Imperial War Museum. Northern Ireland has been well served and protected by our armed forces down through the years. We would, however, express concern at any event that would describe the conflict in Northern Ireland as a war. Provisional IRA and other paramilitaries were not soldiers, they were criminals.”
Buchanan said he was not concerned about a negative reaction to the work and said Northern Ireland’s recent history was something that should be openly discussed.
“Both these communities are quite open at the moment to discussion and it’s part of the artist’s job to make use of that chink where people are not feeling too paranoid and having to physically defend themselves.
“These things have to be addressed and I don’t think recent events are a problem for the artwork. There is massive nervousness around this area, it’s the elephant in the room and the Achilles heel of a lot of London life. People have shunned that part of the UK for long enough.”
Buchanan follows in the footsteps of fellow Scot Peter Howson, who was the official war artist during the Bosnian conflict in 1993. More recently, Steve McQueen was appointed by the museum as its war artist in Iraq.
Roger Tolson, the IWM’s head of art, acknowledged there was an issue with the word “war” but said the museum was “about the impact of war and conflict on society and how it affects people’s lives.”
He said the commission had been devised before the recent murders and said it would be handled “sensitively” by the museum.
“The Art Commissions Committee has commissioned Roddy Buchanan to produce a response on the subject of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with a particular focus on the changing landscape following the Good Friday agreement,” said a spokeswoman for the IWM.
“Roddy has been working with Glasgow pipe bands from both sides of the divide, developing a work based around their studio rehearsals.
“His proposal is to now follow the bands on to the streets of Northern Ireland during the marching seasons and to record their progress around sites steeped in the history of the conflict.”
Three people have been arrested at a flat in Dublin and three suspected pipe bombs recovered.
Two men and a woman, all in their 30s, were arrested in Ulster Street in Phibsboro on Sunday by police investigating dissident repubicans.
The street was closed off while members of the Irish army bomb squad dealt with the devices.
Two of the arrested people are being detained in Blackrock and one in Donnybrook police stations.
They are being detained under Section 30 of the Republic of Ireland’s Offences Against the State Act.
Sun Mar 29, 2009
BELFAST (AFP) – Police in parts of Northern Ireland have begun wearing flak jackets and carrying rifles for the first time in years following three high-profile killings, they said Sunday.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has returned to arming some of its officers after the fatal shootings of two British soldiers and a police officer within 48 hours of each other in early March.
“Regional commanders will decide where it is appropriate to advise patrols to carry Heckler and Koch rifles,” a police spokeswoman said.
One member of a PSNI mobile patrol unit on the Foyle Bridge in Londonderry, an area northwest of the province near the border with the Republic of Ireland, said the practice had become common there.
“All patrols carrying out checkpoints like these in the city of Londonderry have at least one officer armed with a rifle and we are wearing flak jackets,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.
He added: “After the killings in Masserene (army barracks) and in Lurgan, we were told to start carrying these weapons.”
The PSNI spokeswoman confirmed officers have to undergo “specialist training” to use the rifles, explaining: “No officers passing out (qualifying) in the past two years would have been trained in the use of those weapons.”
Police are being re-armed only in certain areas, including Lurgan where constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead on March 9.
After the killings, Northern Ireland assembly member Ian Paisley, the son of former first minister Ian Paisley, expressed concern about a shortage of flak jackets for police officers.
“At this time of increased terrorist criminal threat it is vital that our officers feel safe and secure as they serve the community,” he said.
Civil strife between the largely Catholic and Protestant communities in the British-ruled province raged for three decades before 1998 peace accords led to power-sharing.
The recent murders were claimed by dissident republicans who reject the peace process and want a united Ireland.
On Saturday, violent clashes also kicked off between rival fans attending a Northern Ireland-Poland football match in Belfast. Four men have been charged with disorderly behaviour in connection with the disturbances.
28 March 2009
POLICE are investigating complaints from a victims’ group accusing Republican Sinn Fein of incitement to terrorism, after it declared the dissident killings of a police officer and two soldiers were an “act of war” and not murder.
Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) said it lodged the objection with the PSNI because it believes the intent, nature, context and content of the statements amount to an encouragement to terrorism.
FAIR spokesman Willie Frazer said: “They constitute an offence under previous legislation by directly inciting people to commit specific terrorist acts.
“We also believe that they are illegal under the recent Terrorism Acts which empower the police to deal with those who incite terrorism more obliquely, but who nevertheless contribute to creating a climate in which impressionable people might believe that terrorism was acceptable.”
A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police can confirm that a complaint has been received and is being looked at.”
At a news conference on Thursday, Republican Sinn Fein spokesman Richard Walsh said: “I don’t accept the use of the term murder. They are acts of war.
“We have always upheld the right of the Irish people to use any level of controlled and disciplined force to drive the British out of Ireland. We make no apology for that.
“It’s regrettable that loss of life occurs, but sadly an inevitable fact.”
Mr Frazer hit out at the statements, saying: “The law criminalises those who make statements which they believe, or have reasonable grounds for believing are likely to be understood by their audience as an inducement to commit terrorist acts.
“The law extends the provisions to those who disseminate terrorist material, including on the internet, but makes it clear that those who simply transmit material which does not reflect their views will not be caught.
“The encouragement offence also includes glorification, which is now only an offence if the person who glorifies terrorism believes, or has reasonable grounds to believe, that the remarks will be understood as an incitement to carry out terrorist acts.”
Three people have been arrested in Dublin by officers investigating dissident republican activity, Irish police have said.
They said two men and a woman, all aged in their 30s, were arrested in Ulster Street in Phibsboro on Sunday.
Police said that suspect devices have been found and have asked for support from an Irish army bomb disposal team.
Two of the arrested people are being detained in Blackrock and one in Donnybrook police stations.
They are being detained under Section 30 of the Republic of Ireland’s Offences Against the State Act.