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The annual Bloody Sunday commemoration has heard calls for the families of those killed to be given access to the Saville Inquiry report immediately.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was among those who joined the annual rally which follows the route of the original protest.

Fourteen people died after being shot by soldiers on January 30 1972.

Family members carried pictures of those who died on Bloody Sunday

The inquiry, which investigated what happened, began in 2000 but its final report has been repeatedly delayed.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was killed, said the man who headed the inquiry, Lord Saville, should keep to his current timeframe.

“Lord Saville gave us one date and then he turns around and gives us another date,” he said.

“Now the most recent date is 22 March. It’s important that it’s the week of 22 March or even before.”

Lord Saville is expected to give the report to the Secretary of State before its full publication later in the year.

Mr McGuinness said the families should see it at the same time as the government.

He added: “The British government must take action to ensure that the impending Westminster election is not used as another excuse to further delay its publication.”

The marchers congregated at Creggan shops at 1430 GMT before following the route taken by the original civil rights procession on 30 January 1972.


**Video onsite
31 Jan 2010

Talks aimed at resolving the impasse over devolution in Northern Ireland have made “considerable progress”, the UK government has said.

But NI Secretary Shaun Woodward said there was still “work to be done” as the talks drew to a close on Saturday.

The DUP’s Edwin Poots said there had been “considerable advancement”, while Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy said his party remained “optimistic”.

The talks at Hillsborough Castle, outside Belfast, will resume on Monday.

Sinn Fein and the DUP have been arguing for months over the timing and circumstances of the transfer of policing and justice powers to Belfast.

Sinn Fein wants the powers transferred immediately, while the DUP has said that can only happen when there is “community confidence” among unionists.

The largest unionist party said that confidence could be built through a deal on how to resolve the parading issue. However, republicans have maintained that devolution should not depend on agreement on parading.

‘Getting somewhere’

The talks began on Monday when the British and Irish PMs travelled to Belfast.

‘Very experienced people have said to me deadlines have often been set with a purpose of being passed.’
–Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin

Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen chaired talks between Northern Ireland’s political parties for three days.

On Wednesday, they said that if there was no deal within 48 hours, they would publish their own proposals, but that deadline was allowed to pass with the parties still locked in discussions.

At about 2000 GMT on Saturday, the parties emerged from Hillsborough and Mr Woodward said all involved needed some time off.

“We have made, across what has now been six days, very long days, I think considerable progress,” he said.

“There remains more work to be done.”

For Sinn Fein, Mr Murphy, was also upbeat: “We are maybe getting somewhere now.

“We have progress made, we are hopeful that we can finish this fairly quickly. We are getting towards the point now where negotiations will end.”

Speaking an hour earlier, Mr Poots said his party also wanted to “conclude the business”.

“We are looking to tidy some things up tonight and there is some more work to be done on Monday,” he said.

“We have been working towards creating certainty and clarity about the issues.

Talks have been ongoing at Hillsborough Castle since Monday

“It’s more important about getting the right deal, as opposed to a hurried deal.”

‘Not concerned’

The talks represent the longest period of sustained negotiations since the peace process began in the 1990s.

The negotiations are being led by Mr Woodward and Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin after the premiers left Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

Mr Martin said he was not concerned that the deadline for a settlement had been missed.

“Very experienced people have said to me deadlines have often been set with a purpose of being passed,” he said.

“The quality of the engagement by all of the parties has been the key determining factor this week.”

Nationalist SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood said: “Our sense is that those negotiations continue to move forward steadily and in a positive fashion.”

By Alana Fearon
South Belfast News
25th of January 2010

A leading South Belfast loyalist has challenged unionist politicians to “close the gap” between loyalism and unionism or lose the working-class loyalist vote.

Loyalist leader Jackie McDonald accused the unionist parties of being unable to deal with unprecedented demands from South Belfast loyalist working-class communities.

His comments come just weeks after the paramilitary group announced the decommissioning of its weapons.

With the guns beyond use, McDonald – widely regarded as the north’s most senior UDA man – said priorities among loyalist communities had changed dramatically and that unionist politicians were “struggling” to cope.

While stressing he had no intention of standing for election, McDonald said UDA decommissioning meant loyalist community workers would be throwing all their weight behind improving social conditions among their people.

And he said they would not be encouraging constituents to vote for unionist politicians unless they showed they could deliver.

“Gone are the days when unionist politicians can ignore the loyalist working class until election time and then rely on their vote because there will be no vote until we get results,” Jackie said.

“Our communities are crying out for regeneration and we have identified areas of need in places like Sandy Row but unionist politicians are struggling to cope with these demands because they have never had to address social issues in working class loyalist communities when guns were our priority.

“I’m saying now that unionist politicians need to think about the example they are setting with their squabbling and splits and concentrate on improving conditions for the working classes because that’s the only way to help unionism as a whole.”

Jackie said he would be actively encouraging South Belfast loyalist communities to vote but had no intention of swaying that vote one way or the other.

“The guns are gone, violence is a thing of the past and now our role is to be lobbyists and do everything we can to better our communities,” he said.

“The UDA has no political party links and we want it to stay that way because unionism has split enough, we don’t want it to split further.

“Instead we will use our influence to encourage people to reconnect with politics and use it as a way to a new beginning.”

An Phoblacht
28 Jan 2010

The RELATIVES of 11 civilians killed by the Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy, Belfast, between 9-11 August 1971, emerged from a meeting with the Victims Commission on Tuesday night feeling “let down, insulted and dismissed”.
The families, accompanied by Relatives for Justice, local representatives from the SDLP and Sinn Féin, had met with Brendan McAllister and Mike Nesbitt to hear what they will do to support these families.
At the meeting, however, the families were told that the Victims Commission could not support them unless they co-operated with the state-run Historical Enquiries Team (HET). This is despite the clearly articulated position of the families to the commission, in a previous meeting on 8 September, when they told of their lack of faith in the HET investigation process. This is based on the HET being part of the British state, which is responsible for the deaths and the subsequent cover-ups, and the experiences of three of the families who initially engaged with the HET, which failed to deliver anything other than a mirrored report of the initial Royal Military Police findings.
The families’ firm position is that the HET is not an appropriate vehicle to examine these killings not least because of their lack of independence and the bad faith they have previously shown.
The families requested that the Commission acknowledge their experience and support their calls for an international, independent investigation, (as distinct from an inquiry) a statement of acknowledgement of the innocence of all victims by the British government and a subsequent apology from the British Government.
It also emerged at Tuesday’s meeting that the Victims Commission, through Brendan McAllister, had begun engaging with the HET regarding these killings, despite having neither the authority nor mandate to do so.
The families outlined clearly the reasons why this cannot be an option for them. They highlighted that as victims of state violence their Article 2 rights justified this position.
The families pointed to the Commission’s support for an inquiry into the Omagh bombing, but Brendan McAllister stated that the Ballymurphy families were not entitled to this same support as theirs is a so-called legacy case, whereas the Omagh bombing occurred in 1998. He stated that the families were at a fork in the road and must follow the HET process. He further stated that there would be nothing else on offer for the families.
These families feel let down, insulted and dismissed. They believe it is because they are victims of state violence. They feel that tonight the Victims Commission is now part of the problem, shoe horning victims rather than listening to them and supporting them.
The Victims Commission was put in place at huge costs to the pubic purse to act in interests of victims and give them a voice and to provide support. In this instance the Commission has not acted in the interest of victims but rather has undermined families and acted in the interest of the organisations responsible for the killings.
This brings the Commission into disrepute. Its modus operandi and its overall integrity are now in question.
The families were further told that the Victims Commission would not issue a statement supporting their call for an independent investigation into the killings.
Speaking on behalf of the families, Carmel Quinn, sister of John Laverty stated:
“We just aren’t the right type of victims. The Victim Commission should be supporting victims acknowledging when processes are inappropriate and inadequate. They should be walking with families by their side, not undermining them. We have met every political party and the British and Irish governments concerning this case. There is no doubt that there is a concerted effort by the PSNI/HET and the NIO to thwart any forward movement of this case. It is evident after tonight’s meeting that the Victims Commission, and in particular Brendan McAllister, are now part of that agenda.”

By Conor Feehan

**Via Newshound
Friday January 29 2010

A GROUP claiming to be the Real IRA has threatened to kill members of a Dublin drug gang unless a disappeared man’s body is returned to his family.

The chilling threat was made in a call to the Herald by an individual, using a code word, who warned that unnamed individuals would be killed unless the remains of missing Paul Byrne (20) are returned to his family.

Mr Byrne, from Tallaght, is officially listed as missing since last July but his family believe that he was murdered and his body dumped. His partner is expecting to give birth to his child shortly.

The Herald was contacted yesterday by a caller who threatened “swift and resolute action” against the alleged killers of the missing Tallaght youth unless his body is produced.

The call follows a statement 48 hours earlier by a group, also claiming to represent the Real IRA, who said it was responsible for the murder of Gerard ‘Topper’ Staunton in Cork last Wednesday.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said that the force was taking that statement “seriously”.

The call to the Herald is likely to launch a parallel investigation in the capital.

The statement on Paul Byrne’s disappearance, stated: “We call for the immediate return of the body of Paul Byrne who was senselessly murdered by criminal elements.”

29 Jan 2010

About 150 people have taken part in a rally to protest at the shooting of the Derry businessman Raymond Coyle.

Mr Coyle, 52, was shot three times in the legs inside his shop, The Red Star, in Waterloo Street on Wednesday. His condition is reported to be stable.

His family believe he was targeted because his shop sells smoking paraphernalia and “legal highs”.

His brother, Joe Coyle, appealed to the dissident group RAAD, which is being blamed for the attack.

“Raymond was sitting in his place of work when this very small person came up behind him wearing a motorbike helmet and then placed a gun into his thigh and fired one shot in his right leg.

“Then as he fell and he fired a second shot in his left leg, and at that stage Raymond called a few words of abuse at him,” he said.

“As this person was leaving the door he came back in and fired another shot at him, you get the feeling almost, as if this was a personal attack or as if he enjoyed doing it.”

In December, last year the Derry Journal printed a statement from Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) which warned shopkeepers in the city not to stock “legal highs” and drugs paraphernalia.

The police said the culprit, who entered the shop at about 1700 GMT, wearing a motorbike helmet, fled on a motorcycle.

A spokesperson said it was later found burnt out on Braehead Road.

Police are keen to speak to anyone who saw one or two people on a motorbike or any suspicious activity in the area between 1730 and 1900 GMT.

31 Jan 2010

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is to address the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration march in Derry.

The marchers will congregate at Creggan shops at 1430 GMT before following the route taken by the original civil rights procession on 30 January 1972.

14 people died after being shot by paratroopers in Derry in 1972

Fourteen people died after being shot by soldiers from the Parachute Regiment.

An inquiry into what happened, which began in 2000, is expected to publish its findings later this year.

Mr McGuinness will address the rally at the area of William Street where the march was blocked by soldiers.

It is expected to be the last annual commemoration before the publication of the inquiry led by Lord Saville. He will hand over his report to Secretary of State Shaun Woodward before its full publication several months later.

Derry Journal
29 January 2010

The daughter of a man grazed by a bullet on Bloody Sunday – and who later developed a life-altering brain haemorrhage – says she believes her father is another victim of that day.

Donna McElhinney, who was six years old at the time of the 1972 massacre, says her father, Pius McCarron, complained of having headaches after being grazed by the bullet and, 18 months later, developed a brain haemorrhage.

She told the ‘Journal’ that, at that time, he was given six months to live but remarkably – although severely brain damaged – survived until 2004.

“He was skinned by a bullet on Bloody Sunday and collapsed,” she recalled. “Everyone thought he had been shot dead.

“The next thing he knew was when he regained consciousness in a nearby house. In the days and weeks afterwards, he told my mother that he was having headaches where the bullet grazed him. He also got arrested a few times after Bloody Sunday and was taken to Piggery Ridge where he was beaten by soldiers.

“A year and a half later, when he was 32, he took a brain haemorrhage and was taken to hospital in Belfast and the doctors told my mother it was so severe that it had to have been caused by head trauma. The place where the haemorrhage occurred was exactly where the bullet skinned him.

“My mother always talks about how healthy he was before it happened. There is no doubt in my mind that it was directly connected to what happened to him on Bloody Sunday.”

Mrs McElhinney says her father was “an entirely different person” after the brain haemorrhage.

He died that day

“My mother was left with eight children to raise and a husband to look after and she always said he changed beyond recognition after what happened. My mother said that, in a way, he died to her that day.

“He was another victim of Bloody Sunday. He also lost his life on Bloody Sunday, not in the same way as the others did, but to my mother.”

Mrs. McElhinney says she wants what happened her father to be known.

“There are probably others who suffered in later life because of what happened to them that day. Everyone was scarred by the Troubles in some way. A lot of people saw how my father was left after the brain haemorrhage but did not understand why and that is why I want to tell his story.”

News Letter
30 January 2010

MONTHS before he was due to be married 34-year-old Robert McCartney was stabbed to death following an altercation in Magennis’s bar in central Belfast.

In the days after the killing it was prominently reported, but attracted no more publicity than is typical for any late night, weekend homicide.

But within weeks, the murder and its implications had been reported around the world, and led to Sinn Fein – and indeed the other Northern Ireland parties – losing their annual St Patrick’s Day invitation to the White House, with Robert McCartney’s sisters getting an invitation instead.

The murder happened on the night of January 30, 2005.

A short time after the attack, Robert was found by a police patrol car, unconscious with stab wounds, in Cromac Street. He died in hospital the following morning.

The father-of-two was engaged to be married in June 2005 to his long-term partner, Bridgeen Hagans.

Now, with the fifth anniversary today, his grieving family are still hoping to get answers.

Their quest for justice has seen them meet with global political leaders.

“We ran a high-profile campaign that saw us go to the White House a few times, Downing Street, and to see Gorbachev (former president of the Soviet Union),” recalled Catherine, 41.

But after all that campaigning on behalf of their brother’s memory, no one has been convicted over the killing.

Even though the family had grown up in the republican stronghold of Belfast’s Short Strand, on the east side of the River Lagan, it was only when Robert was killed that they understood the strength of the paramilitaries’ grip.

“You see, in the Short Strand you could not touch the IRA. It is not something you give much thought to until you go to touch them,” she said.

“But when you start to question them, you can’t touch them. When you come up against it you only realise how much power they have.”

The McCartneys still believe that a silent majority in the Short Strand support them. But Catherine said: “There was an element of begrudgery and you can sort of understand that, but to me it was a more vindictive begrudgery than anything else.”

Robert’s death did not just rob two children of a father, five sisters of a brother, and one fiancee of partner, he also pre-deceased his parents, both of whom are still alive.

Catherine said she cannot honestly say how her parents are handling Robert’s murder, five years on.

“There were seven of us,” she said. “We lost Gerard through suicide. We are Robert’s sisters and we find it difficult to cope with. They say a parent’s grief is immeasurable so I can’t even put myself in their shoes. I know how I feel.

“Our parents are getting on with it.

They are not the type of people to wear their hearts on their sleeves but I am sure they will carry it forever.”

Catherine said she “feels” particularly for Robert’s children who are now aged nine and seven.

“I think it will be harder when they are older and become fathers themselves and realise what was taken from them,” she said.

“All of our lives changed after Robert’s death, maybe not so much our lives as our perspectives on life.”

Catherine says that the last time she saw Robert was “on the Christmas when I went past him in the street and just waved at him”.

“The last time I spoke to him was in November at a niece’s christening when the family had got together,” he said.

“Robert was into weight-lifting in the 80s and loved sport and football. He did two jobs and was not interested in politics in any shape or form although it was said at the time he was. I don’t believe that. In all my years of knowing him he never expressed a political opinion.

“When his children came along his whole focus was them and his mates. He was one of these fellas who loved his mates and was very loyal to them as proved to be his downfall that night.”

She said it was his friend Brendan Devine “they were after that night, not Robert”.

According to reports Robert was murdered after a fight arose when Mr Devine was accused of making an insulting gesture or comment to a woman in a local social club.

When Mr Devine refused to accept this or apologise, a brawl began.

Robert, who was attempting to defend Mr Devine, was attacked with a broken bottle and then dragged into Verner Street, beaten with metal bars and stabbed.

The family initially lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson in July 2009 about the trial into their brother’s murder.

Although Catherine says she has high hopes for what Al Hutchinson may uncover, she says she is not “unrealistic”.

The McCartney family made a follow-up meeting with the Police Ombudsman in September 2009 into their complaint that the PSNI “failed to carry out a robust” investigation into their brother’s murder.

However, when the police launched the murder investigation they were met with a “wall of silence” and none of the estimated 70 or so witnesses to the altercation came forward with information.

And initial investigations by police were delayed after Robert’s death when officers were met with an impromptu riot.

There have been suggestions that the rioting was organised by those involved in the murder, so that a forensic clean-up operation could take place in and around where the murder took place.

Clothes worn by McCartney’s attackers were burned and CCTV tapes were removed from the bar.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman last night confirmed that inquiries were ongoing.

In June 2008, Terence Davison, 51, of Stanfield Place, Belfast, was cleared of the murder at Belfast Crown Court.

The judge, Mr Justice John Gillen acquitted Davison of the murder charge and two further counts of affray.

Co-accused James McCormick, 39, and Joseph Fitzpatrick, 47, were also found not guilty of affray.

Fitzpatrick was acquitted on a further charge of assault.

The Orange Order has been at the centre of secret talks aimed at bringing together the two main Unionist parties in Northern Ireland.

Irish Times
29 Jan 2010

Democratic Unionist Party leader Peter Robinson and Sir Reg Empey, head of the Ulster Unionist Party were involved in a meeting at the headquarters of the institution in Belfast at the beginning of last month.

A spokesman for the Orange Order said lastnightt: “It was a private meeting to discuss Unionist unity which is a long term aspiration of the Orange Order.”

The Order’s Grand Master Robert Saulters and secretary Drew Nelson hosted the discussions which took place before Mr Robinson temporarily stood down as the Northern Ireland First Minister in the aftermath of the sex and money scandal involving his disgraced MP wife Iris.

Earlier this week, the Conservative Party’s Northern Ireland spokesman Owen Patterson was criticised for organising secret talks in the greater London involving the Tories, the DUP and Ulster Unionists. Nationalists accused the Conservatives of agitating for the formation of a “pan-unionist alliance” to strengthen the unionist position in Northern Ireland.

Senior members of both unionist parties believe there will have to be some sort of electoral pact in advance of this year’s general election in a bid to win back seats in south Belfast and Fermanagh-south Tyrone.

But, more importantly, unionists fear Sinn Féin could be returned as the largest single party at the next Northern Ireland Assembly election leaving Martin McGuinness as potentially the next First Minister at Stormont unless they can come to an agreement to prevent splits in the Unionist vote.

That election is not due until next year, but that poll might be called if crucial talks going on tonight between the DUP and Sinn Féin fail to agree a date on the transfer of policing and justice powers.

Mr Robinson and Sir Reg are already under pressure from the emerging threat of Jim Allisters smaller Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) which is vehemently opposed to the powersharing executive.

Ulster Unionist MLA David McNarry, who took part in the talks with the Orange Order, said if the policies were not right, then the two parties could not come together.

But he also told tonight’s BBC Northern Ireland’s Hearts and Minds political affairs programme: “United we stand, divided we fall…There cannot be three Unionist parties, that’s for sure, to shred the vote.

“What people have got to look at is: If the policies are right, why would there be two Unionist parties? There is a certain strength in a working relationship, and developing that relationship once you have tested it.”

R.S.F. News
Teach Dáithí Ó Conaill, 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland
Phone: +353-1-872 9747; FAX: +353-1-872 9757; e-mail:
Date: 28 Eanáir / January 2009

Internet resources maintained by SAOIRSE-Irish Freedom

In this issue:

1. Republican prisoners demand right to organise their own landing
2. Nationalist couple in Banbridge targeted by MI5 & RUC Special Branch
3. Cuts to minimum wage must be opposed
4. Second attack on Crossmaglen RUC barracks
5. Two men questioned over RUC bomb attack
6. Accused ‘tried to stab Thomas Devlin’s pal’
7. Memorial for 1957 Edentubber Martyrs
8. RUC member held over loyalist murders in Loughinisland
9. Billy McKee sets the record straight on the Battle of St Matthew’s
10. British Tories accused of ‘playing Orange card’
11. Stop-and-search triples in the Six Counties
12. Call to keep Údarás na Gaeltachta
13. Attempt to re-brand immoral Afghan war
14. Australians debate removing Union Jack from official flag
15. Belfast journalists support their Basque colleagues facing prison


THE Republican Sinn Féin POW Department held a picket outside Portlaoise prison, Portlaoise, Co Laois on January 23 in protest against the conditions in the jail and in support of the demand of the CIRA POWs to be housed on a landing on their own. The picket was supported by Republicans from as far away as Roscommon, Dublin, Monaghan, Wexford, Kilkenny and locally be Kildare.

A spokesperson for the Republican Sinn Féin POW Department said:

“Since 1917, 22 Irish Republicans have died in defence of their right to political status. In the 1940s the Republican Prisoners in Portlaoise were among the first ‘Blanketmen’ in opposition to criminalisation. In the 1970s Republican prisoners endured a 47-day hunger strike.

“The Republican prisoners in Portlaoise today are defending the same right to political status because they are part of the same struggle”.

A communication from the POWs to the picket outside was read by Republican Sinn Féin President Des Dalton:

“We have moved into E1, E Block of the jail with all the other groups.

“We have put in place structures to keep discipline and Republican ideals alive and well. Today in conjunction with the picket held by the Republican Sinn Féin POW Department picket we are undertaking a 12-hour fast, from 8am to 8pm.

“We would like to thank all of you for your support. Go raibh maith agaibh.
“Tiocfaidh Ár Lá!”

Also on Saturday members of Republican Sinn Féin Belfast lined the Falls Road holding posters and handing out leaflets in support of the picket outside Portlaoise prison.

Members of west Belfast Cumann were joined by their comrade from north Belfast for the protest.


A YOUNG nationalist couple in Banbridge have been harassed by British Intelligence agencies over the course of the past twelve months due to their friendship with a member of Republican Sinn Féin in Newry. Most recently an elaborate hoax bomb was left outside their home.

One of the couple was stopped by British spies whilst holidaying. They also tore apart his house and told him that they would have their fellow loyalists intimidate him if he did not co-operate.

Most recently his refusal to collaborate resulted in a bomb being left at his front door in the early hours of January 27. He was forced to evacuate through the back door and was kept out of his home for several hours.

Around the same time his mother also received a phone call to say that her son was going to be burnt out of his home.

These incidents show that British Intelligence agencies – including those belonging to Gerry Adams’ RUC – remain involved with Loyalist death squads.


IN A statement on January 28 Fergal Moore, Vice-President, Republican Sinn Féin said that any attempt to cut the minimum wage is an attack on the most vulnerable members of the working class and must be vigorously opposed by all those who wish to live in a just and equitable society.

“The suggestion that some businesses will be exempt from paying the minimum wage in the 26 Counties is an invitation to the business classes to abuse their workers in order to chase profit margins. Mary Coughlan’s indication that she will follow a Labour Court proposal on the matter does not bode well for the lower paid.

“The workers, who are the means by which wealth is created in the first place, are already bearing the brunt of the mishandling of the economy by the incompetents in Leinster House.

“Workers from all sections of society and all pay levels must unite on this issue which exposes the rotten core that lies at the heart of the Capitalist system. Only by replacing this system with one that values the workers and does not exploit them will there be true justice in Ireland.”


FOR the second time in less than four weeks Crossmaglen British Colonial police barracks came under gunfire. Two men pulled up in a car at the gates of the barracks at around 9.30pm on January 24 and fired a number of shots. No-one was injured during the attack. Republicans are believed to have been responsible for the previous attack on the barracks on December 30


TWO men arrested over the attack on a member of the British Colonial police in County Antrim have been released unconditionally. Peadar Heffron was critically injured by car bomb on January 8 near his Randalstown home. He had his right leg amputated following the explosion. Two men, aged 33 and 34 were arrested in west and north Belfast on January 25. They were both released without charge the following day.


ONE of the men charged with trying to kill the friend of murdered schoolboy Thomas Devlin allegedly tried to stab him in the back as well as the stomach, a jury was told.

Belfast Crown Court heard that when senior forensic scientist Andrew Davidson examined the rucksack Jonathan McKee had on his back he found a stabbed cut on the bag which had also pierced a tin of pink spray paint inside.

The jury had already heard that on the night he was killed, 15-year-old Thomas had asked his friend to carry the bag.

In the dock charged with the loyalist sectarian murder of the schoolboy on August 10 2005, attempting to murder 22-year-old Jonathan McKee and attempting to cause him grievous bodily harm are north Belfast men Nigel James Brown (26) from the Whitewell Road and Gary Taylor (23) from Mountcollyer Avenue.

Brown has already pleaded guilty to a single count of trying to cause grievous bodily harm to Jonathan McKee and it is the Crown case that Brown was armed with a wooden bat while Taylor is alleged to have had a knife.

Thomas Devlin, Jonathan McKee and another friend Fintan Maguire were attacked by two men just before midnight as they walked along the Somerton Road in north Belfast.


ENNISCORTHY Town Council has approved a proposal to erect a granite stone memorial, on a public site in the town, to honour the 1957 Edentubber Martyrs – two of whom were natives of Co Wexford.

Town clerk Pádraig O’Gorman said councillors had “unanimously” agreed to the request from an organisation called Coiste Cáirde na Laochra, Loch Garman, to erect a memorial “in remembrance of those who played their part in the struggle for Irish freedom”.

On the morning of Monday November 11, 1957, five men died in an explosion in a cottage at Edentubber Mountain in Co Louth, 300 yards from the Carrickarnon Border post on the main Dundalk/Newry Road.

The men were preparing for an attack on British Crown forces as part of the resistance campaign by the IRA during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The men who died in the explosion were Paul Smith (19) from Bessbrook, Co Armagh and Oliver Craven (19), from Newry, Co Down; Michael Watters (54), a Co Louth forestry worker; Patrick Parle (27), a printer from Wexford town; and George Keegan (28), a baker from a staunch Republican family in Enniscorthy.

The Enniscorthy memorial is expected to be unveiled later this year.


A MEMBER OF THE RUC/PSNI has been arrested and questioned over allegations of misconduct around the investigation of the loyalist Loughinisland murders. Six men were shot dead in the UVF gun attack on the Heights Bar in 1994.

The RUC man was detained in late January and has since been released pending further enquiries.

Families of the victims pressed the ombudsman to take action amid claims of serious flaws in the original RUC investigation into the killings.

Those who died were Barney Green, 87; Adrian Rogan, 34; Daniel McCreanor, 59; Eamon Byrne, 39; his brother-in-law Patrick O’Hare, 35, and 53-year-old Malcolm Jenkinson.

Five people were also injured in the attack by gunmen armed with an AK47 and a Czech-made rifle. No one has been convicted over the killings.


RENOWNED IRA commander Billy McKee has revealed what really happened during the Battle of St Matthew’s in 1970 – and has scotched media claims that Denis Donaldson wounded him and killed local defender Henry McIlhone.

Billy McKee, now 88, has been angered by reports that Donaldson – outed as a British agent in 2005 and killed in 2006 – shot him and Henry McIlhone during the now famous IRA defence of the Short Strand from loyalist attack in June 1970.

Newspaper reports have alleged that the RUC had been building a case of manslaughter against Denis Donaldson in relation to the shooting dead of Henry McIlhone. Another claim is that the Six-County Historical Enquiries Team had concluded after an investigation that not only was Donaldson linked to the killing of Henry McIlhone, but that he may also have been responsible for the wounding of Billy McKee.

Henry McIlhone died after a two-day fight for life. Billy McKee said Henry McIlhone was shot by loyalist gunmen, who Billy McKee saw and is able to describe. Billy McKee said that he’s telling us what really happened and was clearing Denis Donaldson of the allegations made against him because, while Donaldson “fell by the wayside” in subsequent years, “he has a family”.

Billy McKee told of how he told Henry McIlhone to take up a position around St Matthew’s church, which loyalists were attempting to burn down. He recalls that he was just yards from the local man when he was mortally wounded and tells of how the loyalists who shot him and Henry were as close as “two or three feet” from him as he leaned wounded against a wall.

The loyalist gunmen opened fire on him again and left him for dead – and from their close proximity Billy McKee is able to say that neither bore any resemblance to the physically diminutive Denis Donaldson.


BRITISH Conservative Party spokesman on the Six Counties Owen Paterson held talks with DUP acting First Minister Arlene Foster at Stormont on January 21 amid continuing speculation about moves to realign unionism and accusations of ‘playing the Orange card’.

A senior Tory spokesman said that weekend discussions at Lord Salisbury’s stately Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, England, were “focused on the current difficulties at Stormont” and “not on a hung parliament”.

The spokesman did not comment on speculation that the meeting attended by among others DUP leader and deputy leader Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds, UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy and UUP Assembly member Tom Elliott also addressed the possibility of unionist pacts and realignment.

Owen Paterson could not be contacted to comment on his meeting with Ms Foster, which is understood to have considered the current political stalemate over policing and justice.

A Tory spokesman said the purpose of the Hatfield House talks was to explore how “some of the political instabilities at Stormont” could be overcome. It was also, he added, “to avoid a situation in which we might potentially, should we win the election, inherit a collapsed Assembly and direct rule”.

The Hertfordshire gathering facilitated by Paterson fuelled speculation about some form of DUP/UUP/Conservative pact or understanding in relation to the British general election expected by May at the latest. It also triggered speculation of a possible future unionist realignment to try to prevent the Provisionals winning most seats at the next Assembly elections, and thus being in line for the Stormont First Minister post.

Any deal before the general election could create the prospects of unionists winning between 10 and 12 seats, which could be crucial were unionists to hold the balance of power after the election.

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell’s South Belfast seat would be under threat were there an electoral pact.

He has already accused Tory leader David Cameron of playing the “Orange card” and engaging in electoral “naked sectarianism”.


IT was reported on January 21 that the number of stop-and-search operations carried out by the RUC/PSNI last year was almost three times as high as the previous year.

There were 9,548 cases of stop and search or questioning in the year to March 2009, compared to 3,234 in the previous year.

The British colonial police carried out searches more often in the north-west, with 2,600 occurring in the Derry and Strabane policing area.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act allowed the RUC to act without reasonable suspicion but the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg Section 44 of the Act illegal in January.


THE proposal to abolish Údarás na Gaeltachta in the 26-County administration’s 20-year strategy for the Irish language would have hugely damaging repercussions for the survival of Gaeltacht regions, a leading language activist claimed.

Donncha Ó hÉallaithe, who conducts independent research into Irish use in the Gaeltacht areas, told a 26-County Assembly committee on January 20 that it would be a grave mistake if the agency was subsumed into a new national Irish language agency called Údarás na Gaeilge.

Donnacha Ó hÉallaithe said that the present agency dealt with economic development in Gaeltacht regions, had created jobs and had created an enterprise culture.

“Turning it into a national language agency will mean that it will no longer be in a position to concentrate its efforts in the few remaining Irish-speaking areas that are left, but will have foisted on it the additional burden of promoting Irish around the country,” he said.


THE Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) will hold a demonstration on January 29 at 5pm outside the British Embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin. The protest was organised to coincide with the appearance of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair before the Chilcott inquiry, where he will answer questions about his role in launching the war on Iraq in 2003.

The protest will also coincide with a series of protests taking place in Britain at the Chilcott inquiry and on the previous day (Thursday 28) at the international conference on Afghanistan, hosted by current British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

In a statement the IAWM, like its British counter-part, the Stop the War Coalition, said it believed any serious inquiry into Tony Blair’s role in the Iraq war could only conclude that he told multiple and deliberate lies to justify an aggressive and illegal war.

“Similarly, the British and Irish anti-war movements believe that the international conference on Afghanistan being hosted by Gordon Brown, the day before Mr Blair’s appearance at the inquiry, is a cynical attempt to re-brand the hugely unpopular war in Afghanistan as the ‘good war’, when it is one equally as immoral as that fought in Iraq.

“The IAWM will be calling for Mr Blair to be prosecuted for war crimes, the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, and end to the use of Shannon Airport by US troops travelling to participate in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq”.


AS Australians prepared to celebrate their national day on January 26, there have been renewed calls to remove Britain’s Union Jack from the country’s official flag.

The inclusion of the Union Jack in the top left-hand corner of the Australian flag has long been debated, and the argument is often reignited around Australia Day, a public holiday.

The subject was raised again with Ray Martin, a popular national television broadcaster, voicing anger of the country’s reluctance to remove the Union Jack from the Australian flag, which also includes the Commonwealth star and the Southern Cross constellation on a blue background. He described the existing flag – which was designed following Federation in 1901 – as “colonial”.

“I object to having the British flag in the corner of our flag,” Ray Martin told the Herald Sun newspaper.

“We have well and truly reached the point where we should have our own flag. I think we have to grow up and move on to the next stage.”

Ray Martin is a board member of Ausflag, an apolitical group established in 1981 to agitate for the replacement of the flag with a new design.

The renewed push for a new design for the flag came as it was reported that the federal government, if re-elected this year, planned to hold another referendum on a republic.

A poll commissioned by News Limited found 44 per cent of Australians are in favour of becoming a republic, with 27 per cent against. But the same poll showed 27 per cent of Australians want to remove the Union Jack from the flag, while 45 per cent want to retain the present flag.

There were also renewed calls today to change the date of Australia’s national holiday because it commemorates the arrival of British settlers — a day of “pain and bewilderment” for Aboriginal people.

The celebrated author Thomas Keneally, who write the book Schindler’s Ark which was later made into the Oscar-winning movie Schindler’s List, as well as the acclaimed Year of the French a chronicle of the 1798 rising in the West of Ireland, said marking Australia Day on January 26 was a “double-edged sword. On Australia Day, I believe, most reasonable Australians now admit that the descent of European people upon Australia brought bewilderment and pain for the (Aboriginal) Eora people of the Sydney basin,” he said.


IRISH language activists and journalists in Belfast have rallied to the cause of reporters from a banned Basque newspaper who have gone on trial in Spain according to a report in a Belfast newspaper on January 4.

The Basque journalists face up to 20 years in jail if convicted on charges that their newspaper, Egunkaria, was a front for ETA.

But that’s an accusation that the group, led by editor Martxelo Otamendi, who was a frequent visitor to Belfast, vehemently deny.

The Basque language daily was shut down by the Spanish authorities in February 2003 and its executive team arrested. Several of those detained, including Martxelo, were tortured by the Guardia Civil, and their cases have since been probed by the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture.

Blindfolded and naked, Martxelo was interrogated over five days by police officers who subjected him to a range of tortures, culminating in the placing of a plastic bag over his head to induce suffocation.

Released on bail, the Egunkaria accused – numbering 13 in total – won the widespread support of human rights organisations, including Reporters Without Borders, which noted that Egunkaria was the only newspaper to be closed in Europe in recent times.

In 2007, a committee of international jurists which examined the case said the closure of the newspaper and the arrests of the employees and journalists constituted a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2006, the Spanish Prosecutor admitted that he had insufficient evidence to proceed with a case against the Egunkaria group. However, under Spanish law, victims’ organisations are allowed to bring cases to court via a special prosecutor. Using this unusual device, the Egunkaria journalists were brought to trial in Madrid in December. Postponed for Christmas, the trial will resume in January.

Martxelo and his fellow accused, Inaxi Uria, travelled to Belfast in 2002 to address a meeting in the Belfast Media Group headquarters, Teach Basil, about the setting up of a daily paper in Irish. Martxelo returned to Belfast several times after the closure of Egunkaria in his position as editor of Berria — the daily set up by public subscription to replace the banned newspaper. During visits to Belfast, he interviewed prominent politicians here and attended the Aisling Awards ceremony. On each occasion, he had to petition the court in Madrid to return his passport to allow him to travel.

Irish journalist Paddy Woodworth, author of ‘The Basque Country: A Cultural History’ and an award-winning book on state killings in the Basque Country, said there were legitimate concerns over the Egunkaria trial.

“I believe that if there are serious charges against a medium of communication, sufficient to justify the precautionary measure of closing it down, they should be heard within weeks, not years,” he said. “Otherwise the state is very open to charges of suppressing press freedom.”

Eoghan Ó Néill, editor of Belfast’s Nuacht 24 Irish language news service, says the closure and prosecution of the Egunkaria group is “a stain on the European Union”. “This is the sort of behaviour the West condemns in Iran but when it happens in the Basque Country, we are supposed to turn a blind eye.

“The Basque journalists involved deserve the support of everyone who abhors torture and who cherishes press freedom.”


News Letter
28 January 2010

A SINN Fein councillor in Tipperary has threatened to quit the party if Gerry Adams does not step down as leader.

Seamus Morris, of Nenagh Town Council in North Tipperary, said an increasing number of Sinn Fein members were growing disillusioned with the party and Mr Adams’ leadership.

In an interview with The Nenagh Guardian, the Sinn Fein man said: “I am extremely concerned that the leadership of Sinn Fein has not come to grips with the fact that we are becoming totally irrelevant in Irish politics.”

Gerry Adams

Mr Adams’ position as party president has been under pressure since he was asked to explain why he did not do more to prevent his brother Liam Adams, who has faced allegations of abuse from his daughter Aine Tyrell, from working with children while the claims were investigated.

However, this is thought to be the first time a member of his own party has called for him to step down.

Councillor Morris claimed voters in general had lost their faith in politicians, and were looking for an alternative that Sinn Fein could not provide because it is “in such a mess”.

He further claimed Sinn Fein is “haemorrhaging” votes and people in the south, because the party was concentrating on political success in Ulster.

He added: “It’s all down to leadership. It’s Gerry Adams and whoever is around him. We need to change the leadership and spruce up all the cumainn (local groups) in the country. We should be going around encouraging the cumainn to keep up the good work. The party needs to be refreshed.”

Stating that Sinn Fein had been going downhill for the last 18 months, he revealed that he has been talking to young fellow party councillors who were “demoralised”.

Mr Morris claimed the party was much keener about being a “top player” in the political process in the North, asking: “But at what cost down here in the South?”

Mr Morris also expressed his disappointment that party headquarters had not congratulated him when he was elected Mayor of Nenagh in 2004, and failed to send a representative to the funeral of his sister Monica who was killed in a road crash a number of years ago.

Asked about whether he would remain on in the party, he said: “If my party is keen to commit political hari kari I cannot stay in the party.”

Since last summer Sinn Fein has seen the defection of three of its Dublin city councillors: Christy Burke, Louise Minihan and Killian Forde. Other councillors who have left the party in recent times include John Dwyer (Wexford) and Gerard Foley (Strabane).

Sinn Fein did not respond when approached by the News Letter for comment last night.

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
Irish Examiner
January 28, 2010

GARDAÍ investigating the brutal murder of a convicted Cork-based drug dealer are sceptical of claims a Real IRA hit squad was behind the shooting.

Reports yesterday claimed the illegal organisation had claimed responsibility for the shooting of 42-year-old Gerard “Topper” Staunton eight days ago.

In a letter sent to a number of newspapers, representatives of the group behind the 1998 Omagh bombing claimed they murdered Mr Staunton because of his drugs world connections.

Gardaí are treating the matter seriously and have said they are continuing to investigate all lines of inquiry. However, it is understood officers are treating the claim with a degree of scepticism and, instead, believe the murder may have been the result of a personal altercation.

In the letter sent with a recognised code word, a group reportedly representing the Real IRA in Cork said they were responsible for the lethal assault.

The document continued to allege that the murder was necessary after previous warnings from the group to drug dealers last September were “ignored”.

“We warned then that our actions would speak louder than a thousand words and last week was testament to that. On this occasion our hand was forced,” the correspondence read.

Mr Staunton died after he was shot in the chest with a shotgun as he got into his Audi car outside his home in Westlawn estate on the Sarsfield Road just before 8pm last Wednesday.

The 42-year-old, who had a previous conviction for drug offences, was killed in front of his partner, while stray bullets hit the rear seat of a car in which the children of the Cork man’s partner were sitting. Gardaí say the children were lucky to escape unharmed.

They believe a woman aged between 25 and 35 with shoulder-length blonde hair, who was seen in the nearby vicinity at the time of incident, can help them with their inquiries.

An incident room has been set up in Togher Garda Station and can be contacted on 021-4947129.

Anyone concerned about drug dealing in their area, contact the confidential Dial to Stop Drug Dealing line on 1800-220220.

The leaders of Ireland’s four main churches have urged politicians to redouble their efforts in talks to save the future of the Stormont power-sharing government.
28 January 2010

Their plea came after Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Taoiseach Brian Cowen left the talks venue at Hillsborough Castle on Wednesday without securing agreement.

The premiers asked, however, that First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness return to the negotiating table and report on their progress by Friday morning.

In a further development senior clerics offered their prayers and support in a joint statement from Cardinal Sean Brady, Church of Ireland Archbishop Alan Harper, Presbyterian Moderator Dr Stafford Carson and Methodist President Rev Donald Ker.

The men said they wished to put on record their “admiration for the commitment of all parties engaged in the talks to resolve the issues surrounding the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly”.

They added: “The people of Northern Ireland expect their representatives to ensure that agreement is reached. There is an overwhelming desire throughout Northern Ireland for continued political progress and for the peace process to be sustained.”

Secretary of State Shaun Woodward and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin are stewarding the latest phase of talks which come after three days and two nights of intensive discussions, which were led by the two premiers, but which failed to secure a breakthrough.

If the parties cannot agree, the governments will publish their own set of proposals which attempt to meet Sinn Fein demands for the swift devolution of policing and justice powers to the Assembly, and to address DUP calls for the Parades Commission to be replaced.

The two men said they believed devolution could happen in May, with a vote on the move brought before the Assembly as early as March, if the outstanding matters were dealt with.

The governments formulated proposals that also seek to find common ground on the parades issue and other hurdles such as legislative protections for the Irish language.

Mr Cowen said the problems were not insurmountable, saying: “There is far more in common than what divides us.”

But Sinn Fein said it was “deeply disappointed” with the outcome and blamed DUP demands for changes to the process of managing controversial loyal order parades for blocking an agreement.

DUP leader Peter Robinson insisted his party was committed to the devolution of policing powers, but said it would not let that happen until the conditions were right.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown finishes holding holding a news conference with his Irish counterpart Taoiseach Brian Cowen

28 Jan 2010

The President of Ireland Mary McAleese has described two police officers who were targeted in dissident republican attacks as “community heroes”.

Mrs McAleese said Stephen Carroll, who was shot dead last year, and Peadar Heffron, who lost a leg in a car bomb, “inspired respect from all sides”.

She revealed that she had met Constable Heffron’s parents and said speaking to the couple “would break your heart”.

The president made her remarks during a visit to the PSNI College in Belfast.

She told an audience of police recruits that they had “opted for one of the most challenging and responsible of vocations, a vocation that demands bravery, leadership, honesty and sheer hard work”.

“It takes courage to face into the worst of human nature in defence of the interests and values of the best,” she said.

Difficult transition

The president said the dissident republicans who murdered Constable Carroll last March and seriously injured Constable Heffron earlier this month had “failed abjectly” in their attempt to destabilise the peace process.

Mrs McAleese added that the “transformation of policing has been amongst the great and most outstanding dividends of peace”.

She said she was conscious many of the recruits “were only youngsters” during the talks process which led to the Good Friday Agreement and massive changes in policing in Northern Ireland.

She told them: “You are part of a difficult process of transition from a culture of conflict to a culture of consensus.

“More than that, you are leaders of that transition, for the handover from the RUC to the PSNI was effected with remarkable success and generosity of spirit.”

She added that it was very encouraging “to see the hugely collegial relationship” develop between the police on both sides of the Irish border.

By Duncan Crawford
28 Jan 2010

The family of a punishment shooting victim in Northern Ireland say the police should be doing more to stop them.

For years the number of paramilitary style attacks has dropped but figures show 41 were carried out last year, more than double the year before.

David (not his real name) was watching Big Brother on TV in a bedroom with his girlfriend when four men forced their way into his house.

“They pulled out a gun and pushed me down,” he said. “One punched me in the face, and someone knelt on my back. I was kicking my legs and they told me to stop or it would be worse. They shot me four times.”
Continue reading the main story

They had scarves round their faces and balaclavas on to disguise their identities.

One held his grandmother in the lounge, while the others went upstairs to carry out a punishment shooting, also known as a kneecapping.

“I was shot in the shin, thigh, ankle and calf. I was in shock but shouted to my girlfriend, ‘Call an ambulance’. Then I passed out.”

David says they thought he was a drug dealer, which is something he denies.

It’s believed a rebel republican group called Oglaigh na hEireann was responsible for the attack.

It’s a splinter group from the Real IRA, thought to be behind the bomb which was placed under a policeman’s car earlier this month.

His family say no one’s ever been charged over the attack and criticised the police for not doing enough to help them.
Shootings rise

The police say they’re working with local communities to prevent paramilitary-style attacks and have had significant success at stopping them.

David’s mum said the police needed to do more: “A majority of people in the local area are in these dissident groups or supporting them. The police need to stop it from happening.”

After For decades, paramilitaries in both loyalist and republican areas used punishment shootings as a way of controlling communities.

After falling, punishment shootings rose in Northern Ireland last year

With policing often absent in parts of Northern Ireland, the attacks were carried out on those believed to be guilty of anti-social behaviour.

There was a distrust of the police force, particularly in the Catholic community.

They viewed it as being largely Protestant and felt that the Catholic community was unfairly targeted, a feeling that’s exploited by the paramilitaries.

According to police figures, there were 186 punishment shootings in 2001, of which most were carried out by loyalist groups.

Since then, the total number of attacks has fallen dramatically, to just six in 2007.

In 2008 the figures rose slightly to 16 attacks but the latest figures show 41 punishment shootings were carried out in 2009 and all but one was blamed on rebel republican groups, such as the Continuity IRA.

The number of punishment beatings last year also went up, to 81, compared to 40 in 2008 with most being blamed on loyalist groups.

Harry Maguire is an ex-IRA prisoner who was convicted of murder. He now works for Community Restorative Justice, an organisation who try to stop punishment shootings.

“A number of the shootings that have taken place over the last year have been done in a very haphazard manner,” he said.

“They’re unprofessional with what they’re doing. There’s been a number of these punishment shootings where the intention has been to shoot someone in the knees. On one occasion a person was shot in the shoulder.”

Father Gary Donaghan is from the Holy Cross Church in Belfast and explained the different sort of attacks.

“There are beatings, and then kneecappings,” he said. “Then there’s what they refer to in a very sadistic way as a six-pack. Somebody shot in the elbows, knees and the ankles.”

Paramiltaries sometimes warn him a punishment attack is about to take place.

He says he negotiates with them to stop them taking place.

He said: “They would contact the monastry, say they belong to an actual organisation and say that a person was under critical threat, and say within a certain period of time this person is to be shot.”
‘I don’t feel safe’

Often negotiations will lead to a person having to leave their home.

It happened to this man, who again, didn’t want to be identified.

He said: “Paramilitaries told me I had 48 hours to leave the country or else I would be severely dealt with. It could be anything, your legs or arms broke, even shot in the head. Executed as they would call it.”

David now hopes to get on with his life and can now walk again but he still has nightmares.

He’s planning to leave the area, even though that means leaving his family behind.

“I’m still scared,” he admitted. “For a long time I couldn’t leave the house. Now I’m starting to go out more but I’m nervous. I don’t trust anyone.”

His mum told Newsbeat she was also trying to move house but couldn’t find a new home.

She said the whole family was struggling to get over what happened.

“We’ve all gone through the whole process of nightmares, medication, counselling,” she said.

“It’s something that’s never going to end. I don’t feel safe. I don’t think anyone feels safe.”

Andersonstown News
28th of January 2010

THE MAN whose boundless energy and unswerving idealism helped to found both the Andersonstown News and the Andersonstown Civil Resistance Committee passed away yesterday (Wednesday) after a courageous fight against illness.

Basil McLaughlin died in the Hospice on the Somerton Road surrounded by close family at around 4am yesterday morning. He was 74 years of age.

A lifelong resident of West Belfast, Basil gave up a promising civil service career to work in favour of civil rights and against internment –- coming together with a number of other concerned individuals in the early 1970s to fight against injustice and to form a local newspaper to give a voice to the voiceless in his part of the city.

The Belfast Media Group HQ on the Glen Road –-Teach Basil –- is named in honour of him and as the rest of West Belfast prepared to say goodbye to Basil, friends and colleagues paid tribute to one of the best-known and most widely-respected figures in the West of the city and beyond.

28 Jan 2010

A 400lb bomb was left at the Policing Board headquarters in Belfast in November

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has been told it will have to either spend millions to improve security at its headquarters or move to new premises.

The board has become a target for attacks by dissident republicans who left a 400lb car bomb outside its headquarters in Belfast in November.

The bomb failed to explode but police said that if it had, the docks area of the city would have been destroyed.

The PSNI believe there is a substantial risk of another attack on the building.

They have warned that security needs to be improved.

At a special private meeting of the Policing Board on Thursday, members were told of a number of options.

They include making the area around the building a pedestrian zone, spending about £2m to bomb-proof the building, and even moving to new offices in a more secure location.

BBC Northern Ireland’s Home Affairs Correspondent, Vincent Kearney, said he understood that moving to new offices was “the least favoured option”, but added that nothing has been ruled out at this stage.

Board members are expected to discuss the options again next week

28 Jan 2010

An all-party session of talks to try to break the deadlock over policing and justice is being held at Hillsborough Castle.

The British and Irish prime ministers have given the parties until Friday to close the gap, or they will publish their own proposals.

Alliance Party leader David Ford said talks were likely to go on late into the night.

He denied politicians were going through the motions.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey reflected on fact that while politicians continued to talk people outside were losing their jobs.

Referring to the announcement that 210 jobs were being lost at a drill bit company in east Belfast, he said: “If ever there was an example of the disconnect between politics and the experience of people in their everyday lives, today’s announcement was clearly evidence of that.

“It’s a matter of very deep regret that all these manufacturing jobs are being lost.”

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister, who is not taking part in the talks, accused Sinn Fein of having an “insatiable agenda for destabilisation and conflict”.

“The manner in which Sinn Fein seeks to advance its agenda, not through accepting the processes within devolution, but by loading its gun to the DUP’s head with every pet project, is a reminder that even if the present Stormont crisis is sorted, Sinn Fein will be back for more and more,” he said.

At a roundtable session on Thursday afternoon, the talks were widened to consider the problems at the heart of the executive.


Earlier, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams reiterated that devolution of policing and justice and controversial Orange Order parades could not be linked.

He was speaking before briefing party officers on the state of ongoing talks at Hillsborough Castle.

Mr Adams said there was still a lot of work to be done.

“Anybody who thinks that the price of policing and justice is a walk down the Garvaghy Road or Ardoyne is just ridiculous,” he said.

DUP MLA Sammy Wilson said that his party was focused on resolving the parading issue.

He added that the party believed disputes were best resolved at “a local level” but that there needed to be a mechanism in place to allow that to happen.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the talks were making more progress than they had on Wednesday, when the British and Irish prime ministers left Hillsborough without a deal.

The negotiations are being led by Secretary of State Shaun Woodward and Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin.

Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen left Hillsborough, after hosting two marathon days and nights of intense political negotiations over the issue which has threatened the stability of power-sharing at Stormont.

The two biggest political parties in Northern Ireland, the DUP and Sinn Fein, have been arguing over the timetable for the transfer of policing and justice powers from Westminster to locally elected politicians for months.

Before leaving Northern Ireland on Wednesday, the British and Irish prime ministers said they believed there was a “firm basis” for the parties to set a date in early May for the devolution of policing and justice and to “enhance the existing framework to deal more effectively with contentious parades”.

The issue of parades has caused friction in the negotiations, with Sinn Fein complaining that the DUP had made the abolition of the Parades Commission a “pre-condition” to a deal on policing and justice.

Churches’ support

Late on Wednesday night, the leaders of Ireland’s four main churches called on all the political parties to redouble their efforts to reach a settlement.

Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop Alan Harper, Presbyterian Moderator Dr Stafford Carson and Methodist President Rev Donald Ker said they believed that “the people of Northern Ireland expect their representatives to ensure that agreement is reached”.

J. D. Salinger, who was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then turned his back on success and adulation, becoming the Garbo of letters, famous for not wanting to be famous, died Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91.

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