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News Letter
29 April 2009

VICTIMS of IRA terrorism could meet with Libyan leader Colonel Ghadaffi over compensation.

It is a widely held view that Libya sponsored the violence of the IRA throughout the troubles, providing financial support, as well as arms and explosives.

Unionist representatives, led by DUP MP NIgel Dodds, have been prressing the Government in recent months to press the case for innocent victims.

In December, Prime Minister Gordon Brown hinted he would use his diplomatic power to support Ulster IRA victims in their search for compensation, but no aid has yet come forward.

Mr Dodds has indicated he wants to lead a delegation of victims to Tripoli to face Ghadaffi with his obligations towards victims of the violence he sponsored.

“In a Northern Ireland context, it is no exaggeration to say that the Provisional IRA could not have waged the campaign they did against the people of this country on anything like the scale we witnessed without the assistance of Colonel Ghadaffi,” he said.

“As the US government rushes to soften its relations with this regime, our own government needs to realise and remember that Ghadaffi was directly responsible and complicit in the death of many people in the United Kingdom.

“The US pushed for and got compensation before appointing an Ambassador or embarking on new trade opportunities. The United Kingdom should be doing the same.”

He added: “There should be no thawing in our attitude towards the Libyan regime until they compensate UK citizens from throughout our country who suffered at the hands of the terrorists that they armed and bank-rolled down through the years.”

BBC
29 April 09

A dissident republican accused of murdering two soldiers has been granted permission to try to find out if his conversations are being bugged.


Mr Duffy has delayed a bail application

Colin Duffy, 41, is seeking assurances the authorities will not bug his legal consultations while he is in custody.

He is charged with the double killing of Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar in Antrim on 7 March.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr granted leave to apply for a judicial review in the case.

Mr Duffy is also charged with five counts of attempted murder and possession of arms and ammunition in connection with the Real IRA shootings.

His lawyers applied for leave to seek a judicial review based on the uncertainty surrounding any conversations he has had while being held.

His lawyer told a two-judge panel headed by Sir Brian it would be “completely unlawful” for any monitoring to be carried out.

He based his argument on a High Court ruling from November 2007 – and subsequently backed in the House of Lords – which held there was no system in place for the Prison Service to seek the necessary authorisation.

With Mr Duffy delaying an application for bail until he receives confirmation that no one is listening in, it was also claimed that his right to liberty was being compromised.

His lawyer said: “This particular issue relating to Mr Duffy was raised on March 30 when a letter was sent seeking an assurance.

“The Prison Service have had over four weeks to consider their response.”

‘Surveillance’

Should Mr Duffy win his judicial review case and be granted bail, he will be seeking damages for the loss of liberty caused by the delay, his lawyer confirmed.

A lawyer for the Prison Service told the court that it and other state authorities were in the process of deciding an approach to the earlier court rulings.

He revealed that a meeting was to be held later on Wednesday to map out a way forward in the cases of Mr Duffy and others.

The lawyer also emphasised that he had no instructions that covert surveillance was being used against Duffy.

A date for the full hearing will be decided later in the week.

BBC
28 April 09

Witnesses to a tribunal investigating possible collusion between the IRA and Irish police in the murder of two RUC officers will be given immunity.


Senior officers Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan were killed in 1989.

The Attorney General confirmed that information given by potential witnesses, including an IRA informer, cannot be used in a future prosecution.

Judge Smithwick’s tribunal in Dublin will investigate the murder of Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan in 1989.

The judge asked the UK’s attorney general to guarantee immunity.

“The purpose of any inquiry is to get to the truth of what happened and such inquiries usually only take place long after the possibility of any prosecutions based on evidence currently available has passed,” said a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

“It was considered that that objective might be more difficult to achieve if witnesses were concerned that what they say may be used against them.

“The Irish statute that the tribunal is set up under provides a statutory undertaking along similar lines but that would not protect witnesses from potential prosecution in Northern Ireland or England and Wales.

“It was for that reason the judge approached the Attorney General.”

RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan were murdered by the IRA in an ambush shortly after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda station on March 1989.

Claims of collusion between at least one garda and the IRA resulted in the Smithwick Tribunal being set up in May 2005.

However, several key witnesses including former members of the British security services and one man who claimed he worked undercover in the IRA have refused to cooperate fully with the Tribunal.

They had claimed that they risked prosecution by revealing what they had done and for breaching the Official Secrets Act.

The inquiry is one of six recommended by Judge Peter Cory in 2004.

“The Attorney General was asked, and provided, an undertaking in identical terms to the Hamill and Nelson Inquiries,” said the spokeswoman for the Attorney General.

“The Wright Inquiry did not ask for one. The provision of such an undertaking is not unusual. One was also provided for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

“There is nothing secretive about this. The Hamill and Nelson Inquiries publish the undertaking on their websites and notify witnesses of it.”

BBC

Nineteen serving and retired police officers will be able to give their evidence to the Robert Hamill Inquiry from behind screens.

However, they will not be given full anonymity and their names will be made public at the inquiry.

Inquiry chairman Sir Edwin Jowitt made the ruling in response to a request from the officers.

Mr Hamill, 25, was beaten to death by a loyalist mob in Portadown in 1997. No-one has been convicted of the killing.

The inquiry centres around the claim that RUC officers in a nearby Land Rover failed to intervene.

An inquiry spokesman said: “After giving careful consideration to all relevant evidence and legal argument, the inquiry panel has ruled that 19 witnesses who are serving or retired officers may give their evidence from behind a screen.

“While their names will be made public, screening will mean that the witnesses in question cannot be visually identified which will offer them some additional protection.

“The public will still have access to the hearing chamber.”

News Letter
28 April 2009

A FORMER loyalist prisoner whose taxi business was destroyed by paramilitaries has won High Court permission to challenge the refusal of compensation.

Jackie Mahood was granted leave to seek a judicial review of Secretary of State Shaun Woodward’s decision not to make a discretionary payment.

He had been turned down due to terrorist convictions which saw him jailed for 15 years in the mid 1970s.

But Mr Justice Weatherup ruled that Mr Mahood had an arguable case based on claims that a top level Northern Ireland Office official allegedly made him a cash offer.

The judge said: “The Secretary of State’s overall conclusion is that (compensation) is not in the public interest. Yet it is said that an offer of £40,000 was made.”

Lawyers for Mr Mahood, 55, told how he ran the most successful depot in north Belfast before his drivers received death threats and 24 cars were attacked.

The father-of-three was targeted by paramilitary gangs attempting to “muscle in” on his firm, it was claimed.

Due to the intimidation a business turning a £70,000 a year profit had been lost, leaving him to live off the proceeds of a house sale, the court heard.

Mr Mahood was refused a discretionary payment under the criminal damage compensation scheme because of convictions for possession of a firearm and wounding with intent following a gun attack on a pub.

It was stressed, however, that since his release he has been heavily involved in peace work, including a role on the Loyalist Commission which negotiated a truce between rival paramilitary factions.

A key argument centred on an allegation that a high ranking official within the NIO’s political affairs department offered to pay £40,000 if it was acceptable.

Instead, Mr Mahood estimated that the damage to cars, taxi equipment and 75 contracts with drivers was in the region of £200,000, according to his lawyers.

The court was also told that the original request was for £400,000.

With leave granted in the application, the case will now proceed to a full hearing in September.

Tony McGleenan, appearing for the Secretary of State, confirmed instructions will be taken from the civil servant at centre of the allegation.

The barrister added: “I understand the official who has been named has retired from service.”

By Ciarán Barnes
Andersonstown News
Belfast Media
Monday 28th of April 2009

A new play that sees the audience travel the Falls and Shankill roads in the back of a black opens next week.

The eagerly anticipated Two Roads West, by former IRA hunger striker Laurence McKeown, is part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

It tells the story of passenger Rosie and driver Bill.

Rosie left the Falls in 1968, the year before the beginning of the Troubles.

On her return to the city she takes a sightseeing journey in the back of Shankill Road man Bill’s cab.

Belfast has undergone a major transformation in the 40 years since Rosie left.

As Bill points out the changes, both physical and mental, Rosie reflects on past loves and what might have been had she stayed at home.

Two Roads West is unique in that an audience of only four gets to see each performance.

They sit in the back of a black taxi with Rosie, and listen to her conversation with Bill.

The journey, which takes over an hour, starts off in Castle Street before moving up the Falls Road, crossing Northumberland Street on to the Shankill and travelling back to its starting point.

The fact that people from both communities can relate to black taxi journeys inspired Laurence to pen Two Roads West.

He said: “Black taxis are associated with both the Falls and Shankill, so the audience should be able to relate to them. It’s a play about reflection – you learn about Rosie’s past, where she’s at in life, and what happened before. She remembers her old boyfriend Phil, going to the dancehalls, and listening to Van Morrison.

“While Rosie looks back, Bill talks about the present. How Belfast developed into what it is today.

“In that sense the city and the surroundings become a third actor because Bill constantly refers to them and the audience is forced to engage with its surroundings.”

Lawrence admits that the prospect of using public roads as a stage is daunting.

“You can encounter problems – the taxi could get stuck behind a funeral, there could be an accident, even a bomb scare. Fingers crossed it will run smoothly,” he said.

Two Roads West, in association with Kabosh theatre company, runs from May 7-10. There are four shows daily at 11.30am, 1.30pm, 4pm and 6pm.

Tickets costing £10 and £8.50 are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre on 02890 246609 or online from www.cqaf.com

:::u.tv:::
Monday, 27 April 2009

New legislation to help relatives of those murdered and dumped by the IRA in Northern Ireland has been passed.

The Presumption of Death Bill will allow the families of the so-called Disappeared, who have never found the bodies of the victims, to settle their affairs.

It will enable families to receive death certificates if their loved ones have been missing for seven years, paving the way for resolution of their estate.

Finance Minister Nigel Dodds told the Northern Ireland Assembly: “While a piece of paper cannot erase or even ease the suffering that the families of all missing persons endure, it may help in the grieving process and bring some small measure of comfort.”

The High Court may declare that a missing person may be “presumed dead” for the issuing of death certificates.

A total of five of the Disappeared, Eamon Molloy, Brian McKinney, John McClory, Jean McConville and Danny McIlhone, have been found.

The IRA admitted in 1999 that it murdered and buried nine of the victims – Seamus Wright, Kevin McKee, Ms McConville, Columba McVeigh, Brendan Megraw, Mr McClory, Mr McKinney, Mr Molloy and Mr McIlhone – in secret locations.

Others who vanished during the conflict include Gerry Evans, Charles Armstrong, Robert Nairac – who are also thought to have been murdered by the IRA – and Seamus Ruddy, who disappeared in France and whose murder was admitted by the splinter republican Irish National Liberation Army.

Mr Dodds added: “The vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland will never find themselves in the position of having to need this Bill.

“But there are families out there who are in the awful position of having a family member go missing.

“For those families, and in particular the families of the Disappeared, I trust this new legislation will provide some practical assistance in dealing with the emotional, financial and legal problems that can arise.”

Belfast Telegraph
Tuesday, 28 April 2009

A 33-year-old man was arrested today by police investigating the murder of leading UDA man Tommy English over eight years ago.

The man was detained in north Belfast by members of the Historical Enquiries Team who also carried out a series of searches in the area, said a police spokesman.

Mr English, 40, was gunned down at his home in the Ballyduff Estate at Newtownabbey in October 2000.

He had been part of a loyalist delegation which attended Stormont talks ahead of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

A total of 15 people have been arrested by the HET in recent months during the reinvestigation of the murder and 11 have so far been charged.

Pat Finucane Centre.org

Forwarded from Relatives for Justice

An appeal by the former Secretary of State Peter Hain MP to overturn a High Court ruling that the appointment of Bertha McDougall as an ‘Interim’ Victims Commissioner, that he made during his time as Secretary of State, was unlawful failed in Belfast’s Court of Appeal this morning.

In a ruling delivered by the Court of Appeal the unlawful finding of the initial High Court hearing by Justice Girvan was upheld by the Lord Chief Justice Kerr, Justice Higgins and Justice Morgan.

Concluding this mornings findings Lord Chief Justice Kerr said that ‘…the appointment of Mrs. McDougall was not lawfully made and we will make a declaration to that effect.’

Attending this morning’s hearing was Mrs. Brenda Downes who initially took a judicial review of the appointment which led to the landmark judgement. Afterwards Mrs. Downes in a statement issued through Relatives for Justice said that; ‘She was satisfied that the court had upheld the original ruling that the appointment was unlawful and that her motivation in initially challenging the appointment was about ensuring equality, rights and fair play for all victims and survivors of the conflict and ending decades of the practice of exclusion and discrimination at the highest levels for political motives.’

Mrs. Downes also added that; ‘ The case had also set legal precedents regarding discovery and disclosure of information concerning judicial review. Consequently the process overall that I initiated has had a direct, positive and beneficial knock-on effect in terms of ordinary citizens ensuring that a rights based culture is brought about and achieved.

Mrs. Downes concluded by saying that ‘ I want to thank the legal team and Relatives for Justice that worked with and supported me throughout this past few years in which I have been involved in this case.’ ENDS

Editor’ s Notes:

The Initial ruling by Justice Girvan, including statements by Mrs. Downes at the time, can be located at www.relativesforjustice.com

In a separate hearing after the initial ruling on Nov 9th 2006 Justice Girvan tabled 76 questions concerning the conduct of senior civil servants and political advisors and requested that the Attorney General conduct an investigation ‘at the highest level’ into a number of aspects arising from his examination of the case and his findings. The Attorney General subsequently appointed Peter Scott QC who conducted a report into the appointment. Albeit that the Scott report may have provided a softer landing for all involved it was unable to exonerate those involved of any wrongdoing. A view implicit in this mornings upholding of the original unlawful verdict.

Irish News
27/04/09

THE father of Peter McBride, the teenager murdered by two British soldiers in north Belfast in 1992, has died after a long illness.

Peter McBride snr died peacefully at hospital surrounded by his family.

His 18-year-old son Peter, a father-of-two, was shot dead near his home on New Lodge Road by Scots Guards soldiers Mark Wright and James Fisher on September 4 1992.

The security forces claimed he was shot because it was feared that he was carrying a bomb.

However, at the subsequent murder trial the court was told that Mr McBride had already been stopped and searched by the Scots Guard patrol.

In February 1995 Wright and Fisher were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The judge accused both soldiers of having lied under oath.

In September 1998, less than three years after being jailed for life the pair were released from Maghaberry prison and allowed to rejoin their regiments.

In November 1998 an army board ruled that the two could remain as soldiers because of ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Mr McBride’s family have since fought a lengthy legal campaign to have both men expelled from the army.

The funeral will take place at St Peter’s Cathedral on Wednesday at 12 noon.

News Letter
28 April 2009

A SEALED container of liquid was thrown into a Co Antrim Orange Hall in an attack.

Three windows were also smashed at Drumlee Orange Hall on Monday, which is located on the Mullan Road, near Ballymoney.

The container was removed for examination. Police said the exact nature of the liquid had yet to be established.

Just two months ago, the hall was targeted by vandals when green paint was thrown at it and a window broken.

DUP councillor John Finlay described the perpetrators as “morons trying to stir up more tension and bring more grief on the community”.

Mr Finlay linked the people responsible for the violence with the ongoing attacks in Rasharkin.

“This is the second attack in two months on this hall – four windows were broken and a container of flammable liquid thrown inside,” he said.

“Obviously the clear intention was to burn the hall but fortunately the contain did not ignite. This hall is out in the country, used as a community building and causing offence to no-one.”

Indymedia.ie
27 April 09

Support political status for Republican prisoners.

The ‘struggle within a struggle’ – the fight for political status – goes on.

Part of a communique received over the Easter period, 2009, from Irish Republican prisoners:

“We, the PoWs, continue to resist all attempts by the NIO to criminalise us and our struggle and with your continued support we are confident of victory. In the words of Liam Lynch “we have declared for a Republic and will live by no other law”.

Continuity not compromise.

Tiocfaidh ár lá.

O/C Republican PoWs Maghaberry.”

On Saturday, May 9th next, as Republicans in Dublin are holding a Hunger-Strikers Rally in O’ Connell Street (http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92003) our colleagues in Lurgan , County Armagh , will be assembling at 2pm in Edward Street for a POW picket to demand political status for Irish Republican prisoners. The day is being billed by RSF as “a day of action for the restoration of political status” .

Those who are concerned re this issue are asked to please attend one event or the other .

Thanks!
Sharon.

Related Link: http://1169andcounting.blogspot.com

BBC
27 April 09


A bog in County Louth is to be drained as part of the search

A new site is to be examined in the hunt for one of the Disappeared of Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

The site is in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland, where the remains of the Crossmaglen man Gerry Evans are said to be buried.

It has been claimed he was shot 30 years ago by the IRA as a suspected informer.

It comes as the assembly passed a new bill to help the relatives of the Disappeared and other missing persons.

The Presumption of Death Bill allows the High Court to declare that a missing person may be presumed dead and for the issuing of death certificates.

It is expected that the legislation will be fully operational in November.

The Disappeared

Gerry Evans

You could easily miss the farm track on the left along the road from Hackballscross to Knockbridge, just a couple of miles outside Crossmaglen and across the border in County Louth.

But it is on this spot that the family of Gerry Evans is pinning its hopes in the latest search for a missing son and brother.

The 24 year old, from Crossmaglen, vanished in 1979 as he hitch-hiked home from a night out in Castleblayney.

Read BBC Newsline reporter Conor Macauley’s, story here

Finance Minister Nigel Dodds introduced the bill and said that if a person had not been known to be alive for at least seven years they could be declared presumed dead by the High Court and a certificate of presumed death made available by the General Register Office.

“While a piece of paper cannot erase or even ease the suffering that the families of all missing persons endure, it may help in the grieving process and bring some small measure of comfort,” he said.

Five found

There were 14 people who ‘disappeared’ during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. So far, five bodies have been recovered, but the burial sites of the remaining nine are unknown.

The IRA admitted responsibility for killing and secretly burying 10 of the 14, while one was admitted by the INLA. No attribution has been given to the remaining three, but it is largely the view of the families that they were victims of IRA.

Mr Evans was one of two men from Crossmaglen who vanished. The family of the other, Charlie Armstrong, have said they know the general area in which he is buried, but need help to pinpoint the exact location.

Gerry Evans was 24 in 1979 when, it is claimed, he was walked into a stretch of bog just over the border and shot dead.

Charlie Armstrong disappeared in 1981. His family believe he was killed when he resisted an attempt to hijack his car.

His family believe he is buried in this border scrubland somewhere and that they are close to finding him. But despite two anonymous maps and an extensive dig of this ground last year, they still have not pinpointed the burial spot.

For the family of Gerry Evans there is the hope of progress.

The bog will be drained and surveyed this summer.

In the meantime signs appealing for information will be erected on the approach roads to Crossmaglen.

The Armstrongs hope it will prompt a fresh lead and said they really need to end the torment that has cast such a long shadow over their lives.

Received from the Pat Finucane Centre.org

It is with deep regret that we learnt last night of the death on Saturday of Peter Mc Bride senior. Peter died after a long illness and was surrounded by his family. The PFC has had a long association with the Mc Bride family. In 1992 his 18 year old son of the same name was murdered in Belfast. Though convicted of murder two soldiers were allowed to rejoin the British Army despite their murder convictions. Peter senior joined other family members in protests, pickets, at meetings with various Secretaries of State, Ministers, MPs and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. The entire Irish Parliament joined the family in condemning the decision to allow the convicted murderers to remain in the British Army. Despite the national and international campaign one of the soldiers remains with his regiment and has recently been stationed in Iraq.

Peter Mc Bride senior will be buried from St Peter’s church in Belfast at 12 noon on Wednesday.

Belfast Telegraph
Monday, 27 April 2009

The Ulster Unionists’ only MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, has again failed to clarify her stance on the party’s new links with the Conservatives.

Just weeks ahead of its first election challenge — on June 4 — the North Down member made no mention of the inter-party agreement in her report to the UUP annual general meeting at the weekend, which was dominated by the new |political connection.

Lady Sylvia, who is thought to have deep reservations over a formal Tory pact, instead said the party “still has much to offer the Northern Ireland electorate with which, instinctively, our values and principles resonate most closely.”

In what some viewed as a coded message, she went on: “We have real talent which we must hold back no longer. |Instead we must allow that talent to surface. Our previous set-backs have been founded on failing to co-ordinate, present and sell our message effectively.”

Senior party officials believe Mrs Hermon, whose husband, the former RUC Chief Constable Sir Jack Hermon, died after a long battle against Alzheimer’s disease last |November, intends to hold her counsel until after the European election.

But some believe she will have to officially endorse the UU candidate, Jim Nicholson, who is standing as a Conservative/Ulster Unionist and told the gathering in the Kings Hall: “It will be a hard, tough fight.”

Lady Sylvia, however, said Gordon Brown appeared to have become “one of the most unlucky Prime Ministers in British parliamentary history” and said the most recent opinion polls pointed to an election next year if the PM labours on.

“We as a party must address our longstanding weakness of simply turning up on the day of the race, while our opponents have engaged for weeks and months in training and other preparation,” she went on.

In a video message, Conservative leader David Cameron |argued Mr Nicholson is the only MEP from Northern Ireland able to help bring change in Europe as a member of the EU group committed to bringing some powers back to the United Kingdom.

“I know the respect in which he is held in Europe. So Jim has my full backing as the joint candidate of Conservatives and Unionists at these elections, and I look forward to campaigning with him next month,” he said.

With no official business to conduct — party officers were appointed for two years 12 months ago and there is no sign of any leadership challenge to Sir Reg Empey — the gathering became a formal launching for Mr Nicholson’s campaign with shiny, smiling new posters.

Sir Reg said the “venom” with which the DUP had “blaggarded our party from one end of the country to the other” was well remembered yet they were now on the “gravy train” at Stormont.

While welcoming most of the “amazing change” he said he could “not cope with the total hypocrisy” of the DUP. “There is no beginning to their integrity and no end to their hypocrisy,” he told the conference.

By Allison Morris
Irish News
24/04/09

Community workers say children as young as nine are involved in violence at a west Belfast interface where rival gangs have been clashing for over a week.

Several cars have been damaged during rioting at the entrance to the former Mackies site on the Springfield Road.

The road, which is a main arterial route in and out of west Belfast, has been strewn with bricks and bottles following a further night of increased activity at the interface.

Community workers from both sides of the divide have been actively involved in trying to defuse tensions at the flashpoint, which had been relatively stable in recent years.

They have also called on the police to better inform motorists when the area should be avoided after a number of cars were damaged during the stone-throwing.

The Mackies site is owned by Invest Northern Ireland which earlier this week revealed it had paid more than £100,000 for repairs since 2004 due to vandalism at the site.

The gated waste ground straddles loyalist and nationalist areas of west Belfast.

In the past it has been used as an alternative route for the controversial Whiterock Orange Order march.

West Belfast assembly member Paul Maskey said the only way to prevent the area being used for antisocial activity was to develop the land.

“This site was earmarked for investment and in the current economic climate it’s more important to proceed with that than ever,” he said.

“Making use of the land will, as a result, also prevent it being used by youths from both sides as a staging post for this type of activity.

“I think its time Invest NI stepped up to the mark regarding the Mackies land.”

Loyalist community worker Gerald Solinas said the issue was one of “pure recreational rioting”.

“I would say this isn’t even sectarian – it’s purely antisocial activity,” Mr Solinas said.

“Most of them know each other. They are ringing one another from each side of the divide to arrange the clashes.

“At present there is no deterrent. The easiest way I can see to stop it is for police to arrest them – if not at the scene then use police cameras to record evidence and arrest them later. Otherwise there is a danger this is just going to escalate as the summer months approach.”

The police said they were aware of antisocial problems in the area and were working to combat these incidents and resolve the situation.

“The vast majority of those involved in these stone-throwing incidents are youths,” Chief Inspector Amanda Cooke said.

“Our response to these incidents must be proportionate and police have attended when incidents have been reported and ensured that calm is restored.

“Safety of the public is of the utmost importance and we will always take appropriate action to ensure this when necessary. We will continue to work hard to tackle these issues.”

Irish News
23/04/09

THE trial in Dublin of four men accused of INLA membership has heard that three knives, duct-tape and cable ties were found in the coal-shed of a house that two of the accused men had entered.

Strabane men Edward McGarrigle (43), of Melmont Gardens, and John McCrossan (47), of Ballycoleman Estate, along with Gerard Kelleher (28), of Cathedral View Walk, Kevin Street, Dublin, and Neil Myles (54), of no fixed abode, have all pleaded not guilty to membership of an illegal organisation on February 22 last year.

Earlier, Gareth Dunne (23), of Clonard Road, Crumlin, in Dublin, pleaded guilty to the offence on the same date and was remanded for sentencing.

Opening the trial at the Special Criminal Court, prosecuting counsel Mary Ellen Ring SC said a number of witnesses would tell the court that the four accused were seen at meetings held in Dublin and Cork between August 2007 and February 2008.

She said the court would hear that Mr Dunne and Mr Kelleher were arrested in premises in Cork and Mr Dunne was found with a pair of tights while Mr Kelleher had a nylon stocking, a pair of gloves and a black refuse sack.

A coalshed was also searched and a black-handled knife, duct tape, cable ties and two other black-handled knives were found.

Ms Ring claimed the men had met for the purposes of carrying out a criminal enterprise and that meetings beforehand were preparatory to that.

The trial continues.

BY Valerie Robinson
Irish News
23/04/09

Sinn Fein has drafted legislation aimed at saving the buildings where leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising staged their final stand.

Moore Street in Dublin city centre is part of a redevelopment plan worth €1.25 billion (£1.1 billion) that would see the old Carlton cinema site and surrounding area changed into office, residential and retail outlets.

Campaigners have said the plan would have a devastating impact on 16 Moore Street and adjacent buildings used as the final headquarters of the provisional government after rebel leaders fled the General Post Office during the Easter Rising.

Yesterday Dublin South Central Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh launched the Local Government (Planning and Development) (Amendment) Bill 2009 which is designed to safeguard the buildings.

“The significance of 16 Moore Street and its surrounding buildings in Irish historical terms cannot be underestimated,” he said.

“It would be an absolute travesty if these buildings were to be demolished as part of the plans to develop this quarter.

“In most other countries the destruction of such a site would be unthinkable yet we are faced with a very grave threat to this site despite it being named as a national monument.

“Sinn Fein has proposed the development of a historical and cultural quarter at this site to be associated with the 1916 Rising and linked to the GPO on O’Connell Street.”

Sinn Fein has no Dail slot to table a private member’s bill so it is calling on opposition parties to share their time to put forward its bill.

The Republic’s planning authority, An Bord Pleanala, has been holding hearings on the development plan.

The board heard this week that the proposed measures could have an adverse impact on many protected structures in the area.

The developer, Chartered Land, said the plan would make a “positive” contribution to the city.

By Allison Morris
Irish News
21/04/09

LURGAN republican Colin Duffy, who is on remand in Maghaberry jail charged with murdering two soldiers in Antrim, may stand as a candidate in the forthcoming European elections.

The 41-year-old is expected to contest the June election in protest at the introduction of 28 days detention under the reformed Terrorism Act following his arrest last month in connection with the gun attack on Massereene army base.

The former IRA prisoner had been held for 13 days before being charged with the dissident republican ambush.

He faces eight charges, which include two of murder, five counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of firearms and ammunition in relation to the attack.

His family said last night he was considering his options but that the idea was being looked at as a possibility and will be discussed at length during a public meeting in Lurgan later this week.

Republican prisoners have a history of standing in elections.

IRA Hunger Striker Bobby Sands was elected as an MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone during a by-election in 1981 in an attempt to gain support for the protesting prisoners.

His election gained worldwide publicity.

In June 1981 west Belfast IRA man Kieran Doherty (25) was elected as a TD for Cavan and Monaghan, 20 days into his fast. He died two months later.

Then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was so outraged she rushed new legislation through parliament to prevent serving prisoners being put forward as future election candidates.

As a result anyone who is serving more than a year in prison is not eligible to stand in elections either north or south of the border.

During the 2001 Westminster elections Continuity IRA prisoner Tommy Crossan was selected as a candidate but his application was refused by the returning officer on the grounds he was a serving a jail sentence at the time.

However, as a remand prisoner awaiting trial and not convicted the Co Armagh republican is eligible.

Duffy’s brother Paul said yesterday that the idea of running in the election was something they were seriously considering.

“We have organised a campaign committee to challenge all aspects of Colin’s arrest and detention and this is an idea that came up as a result of that,” he said.

“There will be a public meeting, which is a chance for us to discuss the possibilities and see what kind of public support there is for the idea.

“If he does stand it would be as a protest against the manner of his arrest and continuing detention and the injustice, which we as a family see as nothing more than a form of internment.”

A spokesperson for the Electoral Office said yesterday that Duffy was eligible to stand in the European elections providing he meets all other set criteria.

Candidates for the June 4 election must register from April 28 onwards.

News Letter
27 April 2009

A DECISION on whether the Government will adopt the controversial Eames-Bradley recommendations should be made by September, a senior MP has said.

Sir Patrick Cormack, the Conservative chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, said that he expected his committee to report to Secretary of State Shaun Woodward before Parliament breaks up for the summer.

Sir Patrick said that he expected Mr Woodward to then make a decision by September.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee had been due to grill Secretary of State Shaun Woodward on Wednesday on the Consultative Group on the Past’s report.

But the event has now been twice postponed and a date has not yet been set for Mr Woodward to appear before the committee.

“We have still got several other lots of witnesses to see and we then have to see the Secretary of State. Then we have to deliberate and produce a report,” he said.

“The Secretary of State has promised that he will not make any final decisions on anything until he’s seen our report.

“We will be publishing something before the House rises for the summer recess which means that I would hope that we would have a response from the Secretary of State probably early in September or maybe even before then; that’s the sort of timetable, but one cannot be absolutely sure.”

Mr Woodward has already indicated that he will not implement the most controversial of the Eames-Bradley proposals, that the families of anyone killed during the Troubles — including terrorists killed while planting their own bombs — receive a £12,000 payment.

An NIO spokesman said: “When the Secretary of State appeared before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on April 1, 2009, he said that the Consultative Group had made ‘some very significant proposals amongst the 31 recommendations that we will want to take forward’.

“He also said that ‘the spirit of dialogue and talking is fundamental in putting anything together, and in that sense speed is not of the essence – getting it right is of the essence’.

“The Secretary of State is in the process of actively considering how Northern Ireland can come to terms with the legacy of the past and has agreed with the committee to reschedule his appearance.”

Meanwhile, victims commissioners Patricia MacBride, Brendan McAllister, Bertha McDougall and Mike Nesbitt are to give evidence on the Eames-Bradley report to the committee on Wednesday, it has been confirmed.

On the same day, the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers’ Association will also give evidence to the committee.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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