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Sunday May 31 2009
A man questioned by gardai in connection with the 1998 Omagh bombing is believed to have been the victim of a vicious beating in Co Monaghan on Friday night. The man, in his late 30s, is in a critical condition at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.
The attack happened just before midnight near a playground at the Upper Convent Lands housing estate in Carrickmacross. The scene remains sealed off and a Garda investigation is under way.
Members of gardai, clergy and civil service infiltrated childcare system
By JIM CUSACK
Sunday May 31 2009
A well-organised paedophile ring involving civil servants, ex-clergy, members of political parties and even gardai infiltrated the child-care system in Ireland.
Now campaigners believe that there were links between the Dublin-based ring and members of a well-organised paedophile ring which infiltrated the child-care system in north Wales, and which was finally exposed and broken up in the mid-1990s.
While the Catholic Church has been vilified in the Ryan Report there are now calls for an inquiry into the role of non-clerical abusers in state-run institutions
The Government has been taking a more severe legal attitude to victims of abuse in State-run schools and other institutions than the Catholic Church has to victims of clerical abuse, they say. The Department of Education has “taken on” one such victim, Louise O’Keeffe, who was raped by the headmaster of her school in west Cork when she was eight years old in 1973. Although former primary school headmaster Leo Hickey was convicted of multiple rape and abuse of children, Ms O’Keeffe was left with a legal bill of €500,000 after the State successfully fought her claim for compensation.
Hundreds of victims of rape and abuse by non-clerical teachers or care workers in the State’s employ have received letters from the Dept of Education threatening that their cases will be fought.
Ms O’Keeffe, the High Court heard, suffered “catastrophic injuries” at the hands of the paedophile rapist Hickey — who nevertheless continues to be paid his State pension of €26,000 a year.
Among the figures identified but never exposed because of insufficient evidence is a retired senior civil servant who would have the power to suppress indictments and reports on sex offenders.
Another is a retired former senior garda in Dublin who had well-known links to senior clergy and who was accused of raping a 13-year-old boy. The garda was transferred from a city station after the allegation but was never questioned or charged.
And at least one senior care worker remained in public employ until the mid-1990s, despite repeated claims by boys that he was an abuser and brought paedophiles from Britain and Northern Ireland to care homes to abuse boys.
Many boys who passed through the state-run homes later became teenage prostitutes. Several have made allegations about a ring of apparently rich and well-connected paedophiles with access to the homes in the 1980s.
In an ironic twist, an Irish woman who has been raising the issue of abuse of children in State-run institutions in Dublin, Loretta Byrne, was effectively forced from her job in the Department of Education in 1988 after she persisted in seeking action about allegations of abuse of boys in care.
Among the boys who claimed to have been raped in the late 1980s was Brendan O’Donnell, who went on to murder Imelda Riney, her three-year-old son Liam, and Fr Joe Walsh in 1994.
One home where Loretta Byrne says there was strong evidence of abuse was Trudder House in Wicklow, which was opened and run directly by the State in the 1970s specifically for Traveller children.
One of the first directors of Trudder House in Newtownmountkennedy was Duncan McInnes from Scotland, who raped and abused dozens of children in the home. He fled the country after complaints were made in 1981. He later died in Canada.
Paedophile David Murray was forced to leave the Sisters of Charity in Kilkenny in the mid-1970s after a boy said Murray had raped him. Rather than report this to the gardai, the Sisters helped Murray find a new job at Scoil Ard Mhuire at Oberstown, Co Dublin, where he worked for several years. Murray is believed to have had links with Welsh paedophiles who travelled between here and north Wales and even found jobs for some in State care homes here. He was eventually convicted of buggery and gross indecency and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 1997.
By the time he was arrested and questioned in the mid-1990s, Murray had raped and abused boys in a succession of homes here and, it is believed, Wales and possibly Northern Ireland. Details of all this were excluded from the report which concentrated almost exclusively on the abuses in Church-run institutions.
Ms Byrne said: “The Government has been aware of the abuse that went on in state institutions for a very long time. [Judge] Mary Laffoy resigned because the Department of Education would not give her papers. They must release these papers if the victims in these places are to get the kind of closure that the clerical abuse victims have had in the redress process.”
– JIM CUSACK
The killing of Kevin McDaid and the brutal beating of Damien Fleming during an attack by a loyalist gang last Sunday expose the bitter sectarianism that still scars Northern Ireland
Caroline Davies and Henry McDonald
Sunday 31 May 2009
Silence fell as the hearse bearing Kevin McDaid’s coffin stopped at the exact spot he was murdered, yards from his Coleraine home.
Then, just as his son Ryan, 22, helped by pallbearers, hoisted his father’s body on to his shoulders and began the slow march along the narrow walkway to his front door, music could be heard. Strains from the flutes of loyalist marching bands floated across the River Bann, wafting over the mourning party.
It was too cruel a coincidence.
On one side of the river, Catholic grief. On the other, the ritualistic show of Protestant pageantry.
On the day Kevin McDaid’s corpse was brought home, a victim of the violent sectarianism Northern Ireland is supposed to have laid to rest, Coleraine amply demonstrated just how fractured is the thin veneer of the peace that exists in the province today.
It has been one week since Mr McDaid, 49, a father of four, a volunteer cross-community youth worker, a Catholic married to a Protestant, died of a heart attack, having been brutally beaten by a loyalist mob. He and his wife, Evelyn, had come to the aid of their neighbour, Damien Fleming, 46, who, having been beaten and kicked, is clinging to life in a Belfast hospital. Evelyn’s badly bruised face is testimony to the sickening violence that even a woman has been subjected to.
“They came here to kill and they did, they killed my Kevin,” Evelyn said. “They killed him because of his religion, that’s what it was all about, they would have killed me, too, if I hadn’t have been pulled to safety.
“I don’t know how I am going to let him go, I have just got him back after five days and that was agony. I just don’t know how I am going to cope when they go to take him, but I will, I have to for my boys.
“Kevin dying is so unfair because he was always the peacemaker, he was a community worker, involved in cross-community work and everything. If he was alive today he would have been disgusted at what has happened.”
Standing with a knot of locals paying their respects outside the McDaids’ neat, pebble-dashed terrace home, Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard said: “The impact of this last week has been really, really terrible. Really traumatic.”
Surveying The Heights, the Catholic enclave where last Sunday bare hatred, hammers, clubs and cudgels demonstrated how far from real grassroots unity Northern Ireland remains, he added: “There’s such a lot of anger here. A lot.”
There was anger and shame, too, on the other side of the river, where the Protestant marching season was under way with the Pride of the Bann march. Long planned, the march route had been voluntarily shortened out of deference to the McDaid and Fleming families. So it did not cross the Bann bridge, which leads to The Heights .
The pipes, flutes, drums and banners of some 40 bands paraded in the town’s main streets, watched by a thin line of spectators. But the occasion seemed subdued. “It’s a disgrace,” said one Protestant. “Everyone is ashamed. People just daren’t talk about it in case they get tarred themselves, you know. But Coleraine isn’t really like that. It’s just gangs, on both sides,” he insisted.
Perhaps. But this is where sectarianism is at its most potent, among the young and dispossessed and disillusioned.
There is no greater metaphor for sectarian division in Ulster than the Protestant Rangers versus Catholic Celtic rivalry. It is tribalism in the raw. And statistics prove that sectarian incidents in Northern Ireland spike during the Scottish soccer season.
McDaid and Fleming appear to have been picked at random by the mob, who rampaged through this Catholic district after Rangers won the Scottish premiership. Witnesses have spoken of more than 30 drink-fuelled loyalists piling out of “Scott’s” bar looking to “teach the Fenians a lesson”. On The Heights estate they spilled out of cars, chanting: “We are the UDA.” They found Fleming, a disabled man who had lost his job in a meat factory. They had got their “taig”.
Whether or not this was a UDA attack, it is a disturbing illustration of the sectarian hatred that still lurks, especially in diehard loyalist areas, of which Coleraine certainly has its share.
“This has been bubbling away for years now,” said Leonard, as both families appealed for no reprisals.
“Look at him,” declared Fleming’s brother, Bobby, as the family released photographs of his horrific injuries. “Would you like your brother, sister, mother, father, lying like that? No, you wouldn’t. Is it worthwhile? We’re human. Hurt nobody else,” he urged.
Many of those gathered at The Heights on Friday bore the scars of former battles. Last August, 100 loyalists descended on the enclave. Six people were injured. Some spoke of beatings, of daily having to run the gauntlet in their own estate.
“That’s what it’s like here. All the time,” said Ryan McDaid, 22, who cradled his father as he died. It was concern over the young man’s safety that prompted his father to leave the house on that fateful evening. Ryan says he has since received a loyalist death threat.
“Oh, they’re here now,” he muttered as two uniformed police officers patrolled the end of the road at a discreet distance. “Where were they on Sunday?”
McDaid’s family is said to believe the Police Service of Northern Ireland did not do enough to curb loyalist violence and accuse officers of negotiating with loyalists on the day of the murder. Rangers were expected to win and the Coleraine Catholics had discussed the consequences – band marches, gloating gangs, union flags thrust aloft – and the inevitable raid into their neighbourhood. But prior to the game, a group of defiant teenagers did string a line of green, white and gold pennants across the street.
The fact that there is now a cross-party appeal for witnesses to help the police is because all are desperate to keep a lid on this type of violence. Despite being a university town, Coleraine remains one of those places in Northern Ireland where ancient hatred regularly bubbles to the surface .
Fifty years ago some shopkeepers and businesses put up job advertisements in their windows advising that “Only Protestants need apply”. Although such advertisements were made illegal decades ago, the town remains a hotbed of extreme loyalism, which is sullenly opposed to the Belfast-based leaderships of the Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Volunteer Force, both of which have tried to move loyalism in a more political direction.
Those accused of murder, attempted murder, assault and affray last Thursday in Ballymena magistrates’ court clearly have some support within the Protestant and loyalist community. Seventeen armed police officers, some in riot gear, had to form a human barrier in court around 70 supporters of the defendants and the victims’ families and friends.
The tension in the court-house and the palpable fear back in Coleraine illuminate a wider problem facing Ulster loyalism as it tries to cope with the changing Northern Ireland. While the majority of the UDA’s six brigades contemplate giving up arms – one in particular, South East Antrim, has confirmed to the Observer it is poised to decommission weapons – one of its units remains opposed to handing over guns.
That unit is the so-called North West Brigade led by a notorious loyalist terrorist known as The Mexican and which includes Coleraine.
Nationalists who have lived in the town all their life are sceptical about moves by the Northern Ireland Office to try to bring the Coleraine loyalists in from the cold. John Dallat, an SDLP member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, criticised both Shaun Woodward, the Northern Ireland secretary, and the security minister Paul Goggins this weekend over what he called their “pussyfooting” with local loyalist terrorists. “The ministers were reluctant to say that any members of the local UDA may have been involved in the attacks last Sunday,” said Dallat. “Everyone in Coleraine knows otherwise.”
He added: “This was an organised invasion of a vulnerable area, and not a whim among a couple of guys watching football in a pub. You do not go to watch a Rangers match with a hammer or a cudgel.”
About 58,000 people live in Coleraine borough, of which Catholics make up 20%. For decades during the Troubles the Catholic community kept its head down, fearful of demonstrating any aspect of Irish nationalist culture.
At the start of the Troubles, with thousands of Protestants fleeing from nearby Derry city into Coleraine, the town’s only Hibernian band folded and from 1969 onwards there was no celebration of Irish culture. The loyalists claim it as their town, now.
But the rest of Coleraine just wants peace.
On the white railings outside McDaid’s home, green and white Celtic shirts are tied, alongside bouquets, and verses. One reads: “Peace is the destination and the way. Love is the path we must take.” It is signed “A Protestant”.
Sunday 31 May 2009
Amid fears of resurgent sectarian tensions this summer, following the murder of a Catholic youth worker last week, one of the most dangerous factions of the Ulster Defence Association has revealed it is about to decommission its arms.
The UDA’s rebel South East Antrim Brigade confirmed this weekend that it is preparing to hand over guns, ammunition and explosives before the British government’s decommissioning deadline in August. In an exclusive interview with the Observer, the leader of the UDA brigade said the weaponry will be surrendered to Canadian General John de Chastelain and his team of international arms decommissioning experts.
While the UDA’s South East Antrim Brigade refuses to recognise the authority of the mainstream UDA leadership based in Belfast, the faction said loyalist disarmament was inevitable and desired by the entire Northern Irish community. The area controlled by the faction has been home to some of the most hardline and notorious loyalist terrorists of the Troubles. They included John “Grugg” Gregg, the UDA gunman who shot and wounded Gerry Adams during anassassination attempt on the Sinn Féin leadership in 1984. Gregg was shot dead in 2003 during an internal UDA feud by members of Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair’s C-Company faction.
South East Antrim stretches from the northern suburbs of Belfast up to Larne and across to Ballymena and Antrim town. Although the “Brigade” area does not include Coleraine, the town where Catholic youth worker Kevin McDaid was murdered last Sunday night, the UDA leader condemned the killing, as well as the attempted murder of Damien Fleming, who remains on a life support.
McDaid was set upon by a gang of up to 15 loyalists after the climax of the Scottish Premier League football season. “No one should lose their life because of a football match. There should be full co-operation with the police investigation into this murder,” the UDA man said.
On disarmament, he said: “Everybody wants to do this, everybody is now on board. Something has to be done by August, so it’s better we take the initiative and do it before then. It’s right, not only inevitable, to do it now.” He added that handing over the illegal arsenal to General de Chastelain’s commission was part of the “going-away exercise” aimed at ending loyalist paramilitarism.
“The last report by the Independent Monitoring Commission noted that the South East Antrim Brigade was moving in the right direction. That ends with the arms given up and the group becoming an old ex-comrades’ association and nothing more. You have to remember that in this brigade area a lot of our former members are now in their 60s and 70s. They want all the trappings of paramilitarism gone, including the guns. No one needs them.
“The pace of change in this area will not be dictated by what other loyalist groups do or don’t do, although we think the other UDA brigades and the UVF and Red Hand Commando are probably moving in the same direction. The weapons, like the conflict, are a thing of the past.”
The recent upsurge in dissident republican terrorism and the murders in March of two British soldiers and the first PSNI officer would not deflect his brigade from decommissioning, he said.
“We can’t allow the republican dissidents to dictate our political agenda any more. They don’t want us to decommission; rather they want to portray us as a threat to the nationalist community and they can then paint themselves as their defenders. We are not falling into that trap.”
He would not give an inventory of how many weapons the UDA in South East Antrim still controls. However he said De Chastelain would be given enough proof to convince the public that their arms were put beyond use. “The whole community will be put at ease by what is going to happen with the arms and our wholly peaceful intent,” he said.
He added that some outstanding issues, such as a welfare programme for “ex-combatants”, would have to be worked out with the British government in the run-up to the arms handover: “There could be up to 2,000 ex-UDA members living in this area, many of whom need jobs, have health problems related to time in jail or other issues connected to the conflict, who all have to be looked after.”
31 May 2009
The Bogside Artists of Derry, N.Ireland, who recently got into a tryst with reps of J.K.Rowling no less, have published another book – The People’s Gallery – this time on their work as Ireland’s most famous muralists.
The tryst with Rowling and company has been skillfully dumbed down by the British media with the help of Schillings (Rowling’s legal reps). You can find out about it HERE. It concerns a book for children written by one of The Bogside Artists. “The story is not over yet,” said Tom Kelly, spokesman for the artists.
The murals, uniquely situated in linear fashion along one street, Rossville Street, that saw much of the trouble during three decades of the N. Irish conflict, portray this period of turbulent history in spectacular fashion. The People’s Gallery is visited each year by many thousands of people from all over the world. This lavishly illustrated book is a tour through that history with special emphasis on the sixties that gave rise to the struggle for civil rights. Laced with humour and burgeoning throughout with facts this is one book no student of Irish affairs or visitor to Ireland can do without. The book as a reflection of the lives of the artists in their own words is itself an historical document offering unique insights into a very unique place – Derry, N. Ireland. It has many rare photos, the most splendid of which are of the famous murals themselves. You will learn where they came from, what inspired them, how they were actually painted and the histories associated with them. You will learn too how N. Ireland, despite its size and location, sits squarely in an epoque of global political conflict and radiates with many of the democratic and spiritual issues that animated it.
JOHN HUME’S REVIEW OF THE PEOPLE’S GALLERY
Spoken at the recent launch of The Bogside Artists’ book at their studio in the Bogside, Derry.
“I feel very privileged and honored to be with the Bogside Artists on this very important day for the launch of their book – The People’s Gallery. The book is a fascinating and entertaining read. As well as accounts of each of the twelve murals, there is a short history of Ireland with special reference to Derry, an interesting look back at world event in the second half of the twentieth century, especially the struggle for civil rights in America and here in the North….As Brian Friel the world renowned playwright said of their work – “The work of the Bogside Artists is celebrated locally and internationally, but it is their reputation that is important both to the artists and to their locality. ….This publication is an important record of a pivotal period of our history, and I have no doubt that it will make an enormous contribution to the respect for and interest in our city. … My warmest congratulations again to the Bogside Artists on this outstanding work and I wish them every success.”
This publication is a major event as it is the only book of its kind in existence, providing a unique window into Derry’s turbulent history. It will be of enormous academic interest for that reason and of particular interest to visitors to Ireland.
You can find out all about the book from this link – The People’s Gallery.
GERRY MORIARTY, Northern Editor
Saturday, May 30, 2009
FIRST MINISTER Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have together called to the McDaid family in Coleraine, Co Derry, to offer their sympathies over the sectarian murder of Kevin McDaid last Sunday.
A number of Glasgow Rangers supporters also visited the McDaid family yesterday to extend their condolences and to dissociate themselves from the loyalist mob who fatally assaulted Mr McDaid (49), critically injured Damian Fleming and injured Mr McDaid’s wife Evelyn and a pregnant woman.
Glasgow Rangers jerseys were left outside the McDaid home along with the flowers and Celtic scarves and shirts already there. The family also received letters from Glasgow Rangers supporters expressing their sympathies.
Parish priest Fr Charles Keaney said the family was grateful for the support, including the Rangers condolences, who demonstrated “that following a football team doesn’t mean you support such savagery”.
Mr McDaid’s body was due to be released back to the family late last night and waked over the weekend. His funeral Mass will take place at St John’s Church in Coleraine on Monday morning.
Mr McGuinness (Sinn Féin) said after the meeting that he and Mr Robinson (DUP) wanted to show solidarity with the McDaid family and to demonstrate their joint abhorrence of the murder and the injuries inflicted on Mr Fleming and Ms McDaid.
Mr McGuinness said he was struck by the arrogance of those who carried out Sunday’s attack in that they crossed the river Bann bridge in Coleraine and went into the nationalist area, “arrogant and brazen as if it was their town”.
“The only thing absent from Coleraine was the long white cloaks, the white hoods and the burning crucifixes,” Mr McGuinness added. “This was KKK stuff.”
Mr McGuinness said there was a major problem of sectarianism in Coleraine. He also complained of a lack of local unionist leadership in challenging the problem.
He was convinced that UDA members were implicated, adding that one eyewitness who gave statement to the PSNI was now told by police his life was under threat from loyalists.
It was claimed that a number of tricolours were displayed in the nationalist Heights area of Coleraine and that loyalists carried out the attack because of the display.
The McDaid family meanwhile says it is making a formal complaint to Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson about how police handled the lead-up to Sunday’s attack. The PSNI chief constable has already referred the case to the ombudsman.
The McDaids say they are concerned that police were “in negotiations” with loyalists in Coleraine ahead of the attack which happened after Rangers won the Scottish Premier League from Celtic.
PSNI assistant chief constable Judith Gillespie said police were aware of the family concerns, but in light of the ombudsman’s investigations, it would be inappropriate to comment.
A loyalist bands parade in Coleraine last night was rerouted away from the Heights area. Mr McGuinness said the parade should have been postponed.
30 May 2009
THE PSNI has defended its role during the events surrounding the Kevin McDaid killing.
Newly-appointed Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said officers did all they could during the trouble in Coleraine last Sunday and were now also doing all in their power to bring those responsible to justice.
It comes as the McDaid family made a formal complaint to the Police Ombudsman about the events surrounding his murder.
Although they praised police officers who tried to save Mr McDaid after he was attacked, the family say they are concerned that alleged threats made by loyalists in the lead up to the trouble in the Heights area of the town were not dealt with properly.
They claim that his death could have been prevented if police had acted earlier.
Another man – 46-year-old Damien Fleming – was critically injured in the same attack.
Ms Gillespie said the thoughts of her officers were with the families affected: “We understand the devastation that this has caused the McDaid and Fleming families and the wider Coleraine community and our thoughts are with them at this extremely difficult time.
“We agree entirely with the McDaid family that this murder should not have happened and we are doing everything in our power to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“It is vital that everyone continues to work to ensure that such brutal sectarian attacks are firmly confined to the past. We all owe it to Kevin’s memory to ensure that this happens.
“Let me reassure you that we are doing everything to investigate the timeline of events that led to Kevin’s death.
“We are fully aware of the concerns expressed by the family and a number of other people in the community and have asked the Police Ombudsman to carry out a full and independent inquiry.”
She defended the role of the police during the events surrounding the murder.
“It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the specific details of the circumstances leading to the murder, as people have been charged and PONI are carrying out an investigation.
“However, I can reassure you that on Sunday, May 24 my neighbourhood officers worked tirelessly to ease tensions in Coleraine ahead of a Scottish Premier League football match.
“Following the attack, officers were quickly on the scene and attempted to save Mr McDaid’s life by rendering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR and also acted swiftly and courageously in coming to the aid of Mr Fleming.
“These officers are also devastated by the death of Kevin – a man they knew well through his positive work in the community – and by the serious attack on Damien.”
ACC Gillespie said that a team of 60 detectives are carrying out a very thorough and proactive investigation.
She ended her statement by appealing for calm in the area.
By Bimpe Archer
POLICE have been accused of “facilitating a hero’s send-off for terrorists” after closing a road for a loyalist funeral for the second time in a week.
Part of the busy Shankill Road in west Belfast was closed off to traffic for half an hour yesterday morning for the funeral of senior Belfast loyalist Jim McDonald.
McDonald, who died earlier this week, was one of the most senior loyalist leaders and a key member of the Progressive Unionist Party.
For a long time he was part of the UVF’s ‘Brigade Staff’ or command.
McDonald was present when the first Combined Loyalist Military Command statement was issued in October 1994.
Police confirmed yesterday that they had closed part of the road “for a short time” to accommodate the cortege.
A spokeswoman had also issued a request on behalf of McDonald’s family for the media to stay away.
However, there has been outrage at the second police operation to facilitate a loyalist funeral in less that a week.
McDonald’s coffin, carried from Woodvale Methodist Church by mourners, was draped with a UVF flag.
Police were already facing pressure after violence flared at a funeral of a leading member of the Shankill Butchers.
A freelance photographer was attacked and had his camera stolen by two loyalists on Thursday last week as he tried to takes pictures of the paramilitary funeral of serial killer William Moore (60).
Two nationalist members of the Policing Board are to question senior officers at the organisation’s next meeting on June 11.
Sinn Fein representative Alex Maskey said it was important to respect a grieving family’s right to privacy but said for a road to be closed “at the behest of paramilitary organisations” was “unacceptable”.
SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly said special treatment should not be given to “terrorists”.
“We’ve known young people who have died and a huge turnout was expected at the funeral and they didn’t get roads closed – all there would have been were traffic cones and traffic management,” she said.
“There is something fundamentally wrong with our society if police resources are being used to facilitate such funerals and not for ordinary folk.
“These are still proscribed organisations and to call them paramilitaries is almost to sanitise what they did.
“They were terrorists and questions need to be asked if police are facilitating a hero’s send-off.”
A police spokeswoman said officers had been there to “facilitate the amount of mourners”.
“We would [close roads] with any large funeral that was expecting some traffic disruption,” she said.
“We have a duty to warn the public if there is going to be traffic disruption. It is part of our job to be policing something like that properly.”
Mob death family complain to Ombudsman
By Deborah McAleese
Friday, 29 May 2009
Damien Fleming critically ill on life support
The family of murdered Catholic Kevin McDaid today made an official complaint to the Police Ombudsman claiming that the PSNI knew the loyalist mob was planning to move into the area but failed to act.
They claimed that on the day of Mr McDaid’s murder and the vicious attack on Damien Fleming, a number of loyalists had warned police they were planning to enter the Heights estate area of Coleraine and that violence would ensue.
The family said they are concerned that “given the prior knowledge of the threat, neither we nor our neighbours were properly protected by police”.
They added: “We want the community to support the police, but equally police must also support the community.”
A PSNI spokeswoman today said it would be inappropriate for police to comment further on the issue as the Chief Constable has already referred the matter to the Police Ombudsman.
Mr McDaid, a father-of-four, died of a heart attack in front of his family after he was kicked and beaten near his home in Somerset Drive during serious disturbances on Sunday night.
His neighbour Damien Fleming is fighting for his life after he was also beaten by the mob.
In a statement released today the family said tensions remain extremely high in the area, but this is not what Kevin would have wanted.
“A further death threat has also been made against our family. This should not be the legacy of Kevin’s death. It is not what he would have wanted. Kevin lived helping others. His short life was spent trying to bridge the divide that exists in our community. His death at the hands of people who have nothing to offer our community should not be allowed to undo his life’s work.”
The family said they appreciate that Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has referred the matter on to the Police Ombudsman and have called on all members of the community to assist the police investigation into Mr McDaid’s death and the attack on Mr Fleming.
“The people involved in this murderous attack and who entered Somerset Drive on Sunday night are not friends of any community.”
They added: “This is an extremely difficult time for our family. We have suffered the sudden and tragic loss of a husband and father. The anguish of Kevin’s loss has been heightened by the brutal nature of his death — murdered on his doorstep in front of his family.
“The police investigation into Kevin’s murder is at an early stage and we do not wish to prejudice that investigation by making any formal comment in relation to it. The family are grateful to members of the PSNI who attended to Kevin after this horrific assault and who attempted to administer CPR as he lay dying at our feet.”
In the statement, which was released through the family’s solicitor, the family said they now wish to be allowed to grieve in peace.
“This is an enormously difficult time and we would ask kindly that those wishes should be respected,” they said.
The family of Mr Fleming released the photograph of his battered face as he fights for life in the Royal Victoria Hospital which we have published on Page One today.
His brother Paul said surgeons have told them he has a 50% chance of pulling through, but that they do not know the extent of his brain injuries yet.
One of the men who was sued in a civil action over the Omagh bombing is being kept in jail in the North while a judge decides whether a legal bid to extradite him to Lithuania should be held in Belfast or Dublin.
Dundalk farmer Liam Campbell (46) was arrested in Co Armagh last Friday when police rammed his car after discovering he had crossed the Border from the Republic of Ireland.
He was questioned for four days under UK terrorism legislation about the Omagh bomb 11 years ago before being freed without charge then immediately rearrested under a European warrant issued by the Lithuanian authorities last year.
He is wanted in the east European state over a foiled plot to bring arms and explosives into Ireland two years ago.
It is alleged he and two other men, one his brother Michael, conspired to obtain weapons to bring into Ireland for the Real IRA in 2006 and 2007.
However he had previously been arrested in the Republic under the warrant and extradition proceedings have been under way in Dublin since January.
Campbell’s lawyer Peter Corrigan said it would be “absurd” if the extradition proceedings were restarted afresh in Belfast. He said there was no logic in abandoning the huge amount of work and affidavits that had already been drawn up for the proceedings in the Republic.
At a hearing earlier this week it was claimed he had breached his bail conditions by crossing the Border – he said he was running his wife to work – but today Recorder Tom Burgess was told he had not broken bail conditions by crossing the Border.
The judge has been in contact with the Lithuania Prosecutor General who, he said, was of the opinion it was for the UK to execute the extradition warrant because Campbell is in their jurisdiction.
But Mr Corrigan argued that the warrant was not valid because it had already been executed in another EU member state – the Republic.
“The whole foundation of this extradition warrant is based on the breach of his bail which was wrong.”
He said if his client did not return to Dublin for the next hearing he could potentially forfeit a surety he had put up as part of his bail conditions.
Barrister Steven Ritchie representing the Lithuanian authorities said proceedings should take place in Belfast.
“He was arrested under a warrant that has not been dealt with anywhere,” he said, adding: “The court has no power to take him to the border and hand him over.”
Judge Burgess said he would consider the issues over the weekend and make a decision on Monday.
By Lisa Smyth
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Tensions remain high in Coleraine after a loyalist flute band paraded through the town just days after the murder of Catholic father of four Kevin McDaid.
The PSNI mounted a low profile operation in the town centre last night as the Pride of the Bann parade passed off without incident.
A crowd of about 50 people gathered at the bottom of Bridge Street to see the bands pass by.
One man, who came to see the parade but did not want to be named, said: “Ordinary people are disgusted by what has happened. This has been coming for a while, though.There have been tensions in the Heights.”
He also expressed disappointment that one band stopped at the bridge for several minutes while members chanted.
“There’s no need for that,” he said.
There was a low key police presence on the east side of the bridge. On the Waterside a police van was parked and six officers stood on patrol. However, less than a mile away, members of the tactical support team were on stand-by in the event of any unrest.
Earlier in the evening the body of Mr McDaid was returned to his family home.
The coffin arrived at the Heights estate shortly before 8pm where it was met by family and friends.
A single bouquet of red roses was taken into the house before the coffin was carried in by Kevin’s sons as well as family friend Peter Neill.
It followed by a crowd of mourners.
There were muffled sobs as Ryan, one of Kevin’s sons, who held his father in his arms as he lay dying, comforted mourners standing outside the house after the coffin had been taken inside.
There was a sombre mood in the estate ahead of the arrival of Mr McDaid’s body and mourners remained outside the family home for some time afterwards.
While this was all going on the noise of the march taking place in the town centre could be clearly heard.
Sinn Fein MLAs Francie Brolly and Billy Leonard were among the crowd of people who turned out to show their support for the McDaid family.
Eight men have been charged in connection with the sectarian murder of the father-of-four and the attempted murder of his friend Damien Fleming, who remains in a critical condition in hospital.
While The Pride of the Bann flute band voluntarily made the decision to reroute last night’s potentially explosive parade, fears remain that violence would erupt as tensions simmer in Coleraine.
The parade had been due to pass close to the entrance of the Heights estate where 49-year-old Mr McDaid was beaten to death and Mr Fleming viciously assaulted on Sunday .
But on Wednesday night the band announced it would not cross the Bann Bridge as part of the route.
Speaking ahead of the controversial parade, a PSNI spokesman said: “Police, organisers and community representatives will be working closely together and police resources put in place on the evening will be appropriate and proportionate.”
The PSNI operation was concentrated in the area of the Bann Bridge — where under the revised route the parade turned right along the Circular Road — and which is only a five-minute walk from the entrance of the Heights estate.
By Daniel Hickey
Saturday May 30 2009
The former leader of the INLA in Dublin, Declan “Whacker” Duffy, has been jailed for four years for membership of the organisation.
Earlier this month, at the Special Criminal Court, Duffy publicly turned his back on the terrorist group and pleaded guilty to the INLA membership charge.
He admitted membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish National Liberation Army, otherwise the INLA on June 22 last year.
Det Supt Diarmaid O’Sullivan told the court that gardai came into possession of confidential information in August 2007 that a businessman in Cork, Denis Maguire, had been made the potential target of a subversive organisation. He was to be detained and money extorted from him.
The court heard that Duffy was observed on October 18, 2007, in the company of another man. They drove to Cork and booked in at the Silver Springs Hotel under false names and addresses.
The following morning, Duffy and the other man drove to the home of Mr Maguire, at Lover’s Walk, Montenotte. Gardai said Duffy entered and left the house
On November he was joined in Cork by three other men.
The four travelled together to the house at Lover’s Walk, Montenotte. Duffy did not enter the house on this occasion, gardai said.
The following morning, he was again seen outside the house at Lover’s Walk. Mr Maguire’s wife drove into Cork city and was followed by Duffy.
Det Supt O’Sullivan said Mr Maguire then made an unexpected trip to Spain. “This created a problem for the people involved” in the intended extortion. Duffy and the men were seen parting company.
Duffy was arrested on June 22 last year. He has previous convictions at the Special Criminal Court.
In January 2001 he was sentenced to five years for possession of a handgun in 1999. He was also sentenced to nine years each for the false imprisonment of four men and detaining them without their consent, also in 1999.
Duffy’s four-year sentence was backdated to July 2 last year.
By LIAM CLARKE
26 May 2009
THERE is an instinctive cultural cringe in the unionist community when inquiries into recent history are mentioned. Many feel that their outcome is bound to be an exercise in republican propaganda, so the search for truth is best avoided.
The Maze stadium was opposed partly as a means of blocking parallel proposals to create a “conflict resolution centre” in the former prison. This was rejected as a “republican shrine” despite the opportunity to include the experiences of loyalist inmates and prison officers as well as the hunger strikers.
There were also civilians, like the Tiger’s Bay milkman Eric Guiney, who were killed during the unrest. The easiest way to get a one sided-account is to leave remembrance of the hunger strike in the hands of Sinn Fein alone.
The value of seeking the truth was brought home last Saturday night when I joined the panel at an event called “What is the Truth Behind the Hunger Strike?”, organised by the Republican Network for Unity, mainly made up of ex-prisoners. Other panellists included Richard O’Rawe, former PRO of the protesting prisoners in the Maze, and Brendan Duddy, the businessman who acted as go between for the IRA and the British Government for many years.
Duddy described receiving British messages, generally in phone calls from MI6, and handing them to “an IRA volunteer” who conveyed them to Gerry Adams. It was a vivid first hand testimony that is only possible now that the conflict is over.
The discussion focused on the days following July 4, 1981, when three hunger strikers had died and another, Joe McDonnell, had days to live. Bobby Sands had been elected MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone on a sympathy vote and Sinn Fein planned to field Owen Carron, a party member, in the by-election caused by Sands’ death.
Since Sinn Fein’s normal policy was not to contest elections, Carron would have to withdraw, and if he stood was unlikely to be elected, if the strike ended. The explosive question which O’Rawe raised was whether the protest was prolonged, with six more deaths in the jail and more on the streets, in order to get Carron elected.
The prisoners issued a statement on July 4 in which they dropped any mention of political status and instead asked for reforms in the prison regime which could apply to all inmates. Spotting a way out, Thatcher responded by activating her channel to the IRA through Duddy.
The authorised Sinn Fein account is that Thatcher would not commit herself and prevented a settlement. However, O’Rawe claims that on July 5 Brendan “Bik” McFarlane, the commander of the IRA prisoners, consulted him on a substantial offer in a conversation in Irish shouted from cell to cell.
O’Rawe says that he and McFarlane felt the offer was close enough to their proposals to end the strike and recommended acceptance but they were over ruled by an order from the IRA army council.
McFarlane denied this account.
There the matter rested until I obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act which showed that, far from being disinterested and implacable as Sinn Fein had claimed, Thatcher had attended midnight meetings on the issue and had agreed an offer which would be read out to the prisoners and made public if the IRA leadership accepted it.
At the meeting Duddy confirmed that he had passed on the message I produced and that it had been rejected by the IRA.
Later another former Blanketman, Gerard Clarke, spoke from the audience to say that, after a great deal of soul searching, he had decided to speak out. He had been in an adjoining cell and had overheard the conversation. He confirmed O’Rawe’s account and believed that most prisoners would have accepted the offer.
A hunger striker, Gerard Hodgins, said that he had never been informed of what was on offer and former leaders of the IRSP and INLA, three of whose prisoners had died, said that their members had not been informed. In speeches heavy with emotion and regret, they told how hunger strikers had died believing the situation was hopeless. They made it clear that they would have recommended acceptance of the offer if they had known of it.
Unionists can’t count on every examination of recent history playing against Sinn Fein. In some instances the republican account will be justified, but we will be healthier as a society if we can seek the facts as honestly as possible.
As Einstein put it “The search for truth is more precious than its possession”.
New Lodge man Joe Doherty has worked in Coiste na n-Iarchimi, the republican ex-prisoners network in Ireland, for almost two years. He is best known for his long fight against extradition from the US after his escape from Crumlin Road Gaol in 1981. Since his release 10 years ago he has worked with community groups including the Ashton Centre and young people in anti-sectarian campaigns
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in the Short Strand but brought up in the New Lodge
Where did you go to school?
Star of the Sea and St Patrick’s College Bearnageeha
What is your earliest memory?
Being on a 1950s jaunting car from Short Strand across the Albert Bridge to Cromac square and back for a half penny
What did you want to be when you were a child?
Work at the Dock with my da or play for Chelsea
What is the the worst job you have ever had?
At 14 in a bag store fighting off big rats
Who is your most inspiring person?
Bobby Sands influenced me to pick up guitar in early 1970s in Long Kesh camp. He also inspired millions of people across the world
What is your favourite book, film, and band?
My favourite book is Leon Uris’ Trinity, band would be The Beatles and film is Marlon Brando’s On The Waterfront
Who would play you in a film of your life?
A very young Marlon Brando but I guess I’ll settle for the much older and heavier Brando
Do you have a favorite joke or quote?
Everyone has their part to play: Bobby Sands Joke: Did you hear about the new book on constipation? It hasn’t come out yet
What is your most treasured possession?
My family, my friends and my politics
What is your greatest fear?
A reoccurrence of armed conflict; our people don’t want or need it
What are you very good at/very bad at?
Good at being humble to people but not listening to good advice
What are you most proud of?
Being a socialist and republican
What place would you like to visit before you die?
Vietnam, to pay homage to a courageous and victorious people
What is the last text message you received?
Sinn Fein canvas 2nite 6.30. Don’t be late, Joe!
If you were a politician what is the first thing you would do?
No perks and crush social injustice
If you won the lottery what would you spend it on?
My family, friends and worthy causes such as PIPS and Cancer Lifeline
Who would be your five guest for the perfect dinner party?
Che Guevara, Christy Moore, Bobby Sands, Mairead Farrell and Nelson Mandela. There would be such great yarns and song
How do you want to be remembered?
A committed republican and socialist
What do you most like about North Belfast?
A people unbroken by conflict
By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent
Gardai have closed their file on the 1976 murder of Co Louth forestry worker Seamus Ludlow, his family have said.
During a meeting in Dundalk yesterday with senior gardai, including Assistant Commissioner Martin Callinan, relatives said they had been told that investigators had reached a point where no further progress could be made and a prosecution was unlikely.
The family said gardai had told them they had travelled to Northern Ireland on more than one occasion to formally and informally question two of four men suspected of being involved in the killing.
Mr Ludlow’s nephew Jimmy Sharkey told The Irish News that the family’s legal representative would write to the Department of the Taoiseach to lobby for further movement on the case.
“At the end of the day what we really want is an independent public inquiry, something short and sharp. We just want some answers,” he said.
Mr Sharkey’s uncle was shot dead after being lured into a car after leaving a Dundalk pub on the night of May 2 1976.
His body was found dumped in a laneway the next day, having been shot three times.
No-one has ever been charged with the murder.
Mr Justice Henry Barron was highly critical of the Garda handling of the initial investigation and the force’s treatment of Mr Ludlow’s relatives.
THE High Court in Dublin has further remanded in custody a man whose extradition is being sought by British authorities in connection with the shooting dead of an unarmed British soldier 17 years ago.
The authorities in Britain are seeking to extradite Declan Duffy (35), a father-of-two originally from Armagh but with an address at Hanover Street West in Dublin. He is in custody in relation to other matters.
When a European arrest warrant was issued seeking Mr Duffy’s surrender, the British authorities said that, on the afternoon of April 13 1992, he had murdered Sergeant Michael Newman, a 34-year-old father-of-one in Derby.
Mr Duffy is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder on dates between January 1 and April 13 1992.
Mr Newman was shot in the head outside a British army careers office where he worked. He died from his wounds the next day. The INLA later claimed responsibility for the killing.
Yesterday Mr Justice Michael Peart agreed to adjourn the matter to June 17 so the application could be considered at the same time as a related extradition request for another man.
Britain is also seeking the extradition of Anthony Patrick Gorman (39), originally from Co Armagh but with an address at Bailieborough in Co Cavan, on the same charges.
He is on bail pending the hearing of the extradition request.
By Maeve Connolly and Claire Simpson
A MAN being questioned in connection with the sectarian murder of Catholic community worker Kevin McDaid was a member of the UDA-linked Ulster Democratic Party.
Frank Daly, whose 11-year-old daughter was seriously injured when the family home was shot at during the loyalist feud nine years ago, is one of 10 people being held at Antrim Serious Crime Suite.
Mr Daly was a member of the UDP which was dissolved in 2001. Its role has largely been taken over by the Ulster Political Research Group.
His daughter Charlene suffered broken ribs and a collapsed lung after being shot in the back by a man who opened fire on her home in Coleraine’s Ballysally estate during a loyalist feud in August 2000.
At the trial of two men charged in connection with the shooting her father told the court he had played a minor role in the UDP.
Mr Daly and nine other people arrested in relation to Sunday night’s murder in Coleraine remained in custody last night. Three others, including two 15-year-old boys, have been released without charge.
Mr McDaid (49) was beaten by a loyalist mob yards from his home in the Somerset Drive area after Rangers won the Scottish league title.
His wife Evelyn was also attacked when she came to his aid.
Damian Fleming (46), who was attacked in nearby Pates Lane, remained in a critical condition last night.
Mr Fleming faced charges over an incident three years ago in the same area and was fined after being found in possession of a kitchen knife in Pates Lane in May 2006. A charge of making a threat to kill a man was withdrawn.
Meanwhile, a loyalist band parade due to pass near the murder scene tomorrow night has been rerouted.
The Pride of the Bann flute band told the Parades Commission yesterday that its members were prepared to shorten their route on Friday to avoid marching near the area.
Instead of crossing the Bann Bridge the parade, which is expected draw up to 2,000 people from 40 bands, will turn up Circular Road.
The parade organisers said the move had been agreed at a meeting on Tuesday “in the interests of community relations and to ease tensions in the town”.
The move was welcomed by the commission, which held talks with police and nationalist politicians yesterday.
East Derry SDLP MLA John Dallat said he hoped that the “significant step” heralded a new beginning.
The development came as a son of Mr McDaid revealed that he had been since been subjected to loyalist death threats.
Police are understood to have warned him that “some form of action” was being threatened against him.
Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard said it was “the sickest of the sick” that a family who were “going through hell” were being subjected to more trauma.
Andersonstown News Thursday
29th of May 2009
Sinn Féin MLA Paul Butler has welcomed the news that hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on maintaining listed buildings at Long Kesh.
The local MLA recently submitted a written question to the Assembly, asking what steps OFMDFM is taking to maintain the listed buildings at the Long Kesh site and what plans it has to provide for maintenance of these buildings in the next few years to ensure they do not fall into a state of disrepair.
In response, OFMDFM said that they have a responsibility to ensure that the buildings on the site which have a listed status do not fall into disrepair.
Buildings which still remain at the site include H6, the prison hospital, administration buildings, Cage 19 and two watchtowers.
“Over the past four years we have taken advice from the Environment Agency and undertaken all necessary maintenance and repairs spending some £350k,” OFMDFM said in response.
“Following on from this we contracted for a £224k three-year maintenance programme for listed and retained buildings.”
OFMDFM added that this programme is in addition to planned preventative maintenance schedule and regular maintenance checks on the site to determine any unforeseen requirements.
“£48k was invested on the listed buildings in 2008-2009 under the programme and further works are planned for the current year.”
Speaking yesterday, Mr Butler said: “Unionists who have attempted to get these buildings delisted should now accept that the joint First Ministers are committed to maintaining these buildings.
“Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that the listed buildings and the Conflict Transformation Centre will become the hub of a new and positive development at the Long Kesh site.
“There has of course been much good work done by the Maze/Long Kesh Consultative Panel over the course of recent years.
“This work provides the foundation for the future development of the site. The fact is, the listed prison buildings and the transformation centre will be a central part of the future development of the Long Kesh site and the DUP and others need to recognise that reality.”
Paul Butler added that the Barossa Task Force recognised the contribution which the North can make towards peace-building and conflict resolution.
“It should be noted that the Executive have, in their response to the Barossa Task Force, committed to developing a facility to share our experiences,” he said.
“Given the recognised historic and reconciliation potential of the site we believe that it would be fitting that such a facility should be located at Long Kesh,” he added.
Andersonstown News Thursday
29th of May 2009
A West Belfast MLA has hit out at Tourism Minister Arlene Foster after she refused to approve the commentary for a podcast designed to guide tourists on walking tours of West Belfast.
Sinn Féin’s Paul Maskey accused the DUP woman of risking wasting £100,000 in taxpayers’ money.
The minister said the commentary provided for West Belfast was neither accurate nor balanced, but was biased towards one community.
Mrs Foster said one section referred to loyalists firing from the Shankill area before the peace walls were built. She said this gave the impression that everything was coming from one side, and she would not be involved in anything which was not balanced.
Mr Maskey said he was angered and disappointed by the minister’s words, and claimed the commentary had been approved by a panel of experts and historians. The podcast for tourists has been worked on by the Belfast Area Partnership Boards and the city’s Visitor and Convention Bureau.
Editorial: Telling history like it was
So Tourism Minister Arlene Foster isn’t happy with the commentary on a new podcast designed to make visitors to West Belfast enjoy their experience even more.
It seems that she believes telling people that shots were fired from the Shankill on to the Falls is liable to give the impression that one side started the trouble.
Well minister, we have news for you. In West Belfast the loyalists did start the trouble in August 1969. The violence was horrifically one-sided and when dawn broke the following day, the houses left smouldering and in ruins where the Shankill meets the Falls were not Protestant, but Catholic. If she’d like the pictures, we’ll be happy to provide them; if she’d like the eyewitness reports, too many of our readers will be happy to provide them. Taking tourists along the Falls Road without referring to the pogrom of August 1969 would be like bringing them to the Cregagh Road without mentioning George Best.
There is no point in pretending that it was some tit-for-tat confrontation. Loyalists poured down from the Shankill – no mobs went the other way.
We’re keen to hear any commentary that Minister Foster is happy to sign up to. It might well be a fascinating little bit of history in itself.
Jail terms handed down to the killers of a Catholic schoolboy in Northern Ireland were not too lenient, the Attorney General’s office has ruled.
Michael McIlveen died after being attacked by a gang in May 2006
Sentences of 10 to 13 years were given to four men earlier this month for beating to death 15-year Michael McIlveen in Ballymena three years ago.
The Director of Public Prosecutions asked the Attorney General’s office whether they could be increased.
The boy’s family considered the sentences to be too lenient.
The matter was passed to Solicitor General Vera Baird QC who announced on Friday that the trial judge had been correct.
“In the Solicitor General’s view, the sentences fall within the range of sentence that it was reasonable for the judge to impose,” a statement from the Attorney General’s office said.
“The Solicitor General cannot therefore apply for leave to refer these sentences.
“The Solicitor General is sorry for the disappointment her decision will cause the McIlveen family, who have been informed.”
Aaron Cavana Wallace, 20, of Moat Road, Christopher Francis Kerr, 22, of Carnduff Drive, Jeff Colin Lewis, 19, of Rossdale, and Mervyn Wilson Moon, 20, of Douglas Terrace, all in Ballymena, murdered the schoolboy.
The highest minimum tariff of 13 years was handed to Kerr, whom the trial judge said had shown no remorse and had lied consistently throughout the proceedings.
Trial judge Mr Justice Treacy said the fact that Kerr had also gone to his grandmother’s house to obtain the baseball bat used to kill Michael showed his part in the murder was premeditated.
Wallace and Lewis were given 11-year tariffs – lesser terms because they had no part in procuring the bat or using it, the judge said.
Mr Treacy gave Moon credit for his timely plea of guilty and said he had shown clear and genuine remorse for his actions. He was given a 10-year minimum tariff.
Michael McIlveen was chased by a drunken loyalist mob into an alleyway close to Ballymena’s town centre, in May 2006.
He was hit with a baseball bat and kicked.
He managed to make it back to his home but collapsed in his room and died later in hospital from brain injuries.