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Friday July 30 2010

A prominent republican facing tax evasion charges had his case moved back until December today as he continues a long-running battle to stop his trial.

Thomas “Slab” Murphy appeared in Dublin’s Special Criminal Court over nine charges which were first brought against him more than two and a half years ago.

The alleged former IRA chief is taking legal action against the state in the High Court because he was sent for trial to the special three-judge, non-jury court.

The court usually deals with terrorism-related offences, but the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) can decide if an ordinary court is not adequate to deal with a case.

Murphy’s barrister Tony McGillicuddy told the court his team needs time to prepare relevant applications after receiving the state’s defence in relation to the constitution challenge.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, set a date of December 21 for the next mention of the case.

Murphy, of Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, also had the conditions of his bail altered with the agreement of the DPP.

The 60-year-old, who was present in court for the brief hearing, will have to sign on at a garda station twice instead of three times a week.

Prosecutors claim Murphy failed to furnish a return of his income, profits or gains to the Collector General or the Inspector of Taxes for the years 1996-97 to 2004.

The case was brought after an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Friday July 30 2010

A statue of a former governor of Derry has been smashed by vandals, it has been revealed.

The Rev George Walker was in charge of the city in 1689. The arms, body and head on the sculpture were damaged during the overnight attack at the Apprentice Boys’ memorial hall.

A copper plaque dedicated to the 13 Apprentice Boys who closed the gates during the 1689 siege was also vandalised.

Apprentice Boys’ governor Jim Brownlee said: “Our association is angry and frustrated that just weeks after being able to join in celebration with the rest of the city in anticipation of UK City of Culture 2013 that a deliberate and clearly sectarian attack has been made on Protestant culture in this city.”

The city has been trying to reach out to all cultures as part of its flagship role in 2013.

Mr Brownlee added: “We have worked tremendously hard to reach out across communities in our city, but there is obviously a need for some to continue to harass, demonise and violently attack our culture and people. Condemnation is not enough.

“As a minority culture in this city we can only do so much. It is time for the majority and the authorities to bring forward a plan of action to address the on-going and debilitating harassment to which our culture is subjected and our people suffer, that in truth diminishes everyone of whatever community we belong and further tarnishes the city’s image.”

The original statue was destroyed in an IRA bomb in 1973. Its replacement was created in 1992.

SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey said: “Respect for different cultures and traditions are essential as we strive to build a shared society and promote Derry as a shared city.

“This type of reckless and thoughtless behaviour sends out the wrong message especially at this time of year when the streets of our city are packed with tourists from all over the globe.”

Derry Journal
30 July 2010

A Derry man who received a death threat from RAAD has claimed to the ‘Journal’ that the PSNI asked him to provide the time and location of a meeting they advised him to have with the vigilante group.

The man said he told police he may as well “paint a target” on his head if he went through with it.

“I haven’t slept since all of this happened,” the man said.’ “I haven’t stopped drinking. “When the police told me about the threat they talked to me about setting up a meeting with a community leader so I could speak to RAAD. They asked me for the time and location of the meeting.
“It’s terrible to have been asked to do this. Someone a bit weaker may have gone through with it. If I had, I would be dead now. I want nothing to do with it all. I haven’t done anything wrong and just want to be left alone.”

The man said he has now met with RAAD and told them about the “set up”. He claimed the group admitted the death threat was a mistake and was actually meant for another man with the same name.

In a statement to the ‘Journal’ RAAD confirmed they had met the man and “assured him he has nothing to fear”.

“The PSNI has put this man’s life in danger,” he said. “They also tried to get this ambush set up by using a well respected community leader who has only ever tried to help people in bad situations. Only for him and others like him more people would have been shot. This was not the policing that our community was promised. It’s more akin to the dark days of the RUC.

“We call on anyone else in these situations to come forward.”
RAAD are criminals – PSNI

A PSNI spokesman said: “As the only legitimate police service it is up to us to investigate criminal matters. RAAD have shown that they are determined to use violence to drag this community down. They have shown themselves to be common criminals and their actions show complete disregard for the community they claim to protect.

“Vigilantism only continues the cycle of violence and crime and these actions must be condemned by all right thinking people. Police fully investigate all reports of crime with the aim of bringing those responsible for any criminal activity before the courts.

“Police would appeal to the community in Derry to continue to support them in their efforts to keep the area safe for everyone. Anyone with information or concerns should contact police on 0845 600 8000.”

Irish Times

FOUR NEW Irish language primary schools will open in Northern Ireland in September, Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has announced.

The schools are Gaelscoil an tSeancha, Magherafelt; Gaelscoil na mBeann, Kilkeel; Gaelscoil Léim an Mhadaidh, Limavady; and Gaelscoil Choin Rí Uladh, Ballymena. The decision was made on the basis of growing demand for Irish language education, said Ms Ruane. Funding from the Department of Education will be conditional on the schools achieving admissions thresholds and proving their long-term viability.

Tom Elliott MLA, of the Ulster Unionist Party, criticised Ms Ruane’s stance on Irish-medium education, claiming that, on average, pupils in Irish-medium schools receive £460 per annum more than those in mainstream schools. Mr Elliott had previously expressed concern over preferential treatment of Irish-medium pupils.But Comhairle na Gaelscolaochta chief executive Seán Coinn welcomed the decision, and said it reflected a growing confidence in the merits of bilingual education.

GERRY MORIARTY, Northern Editor
Irish Times
July 29, 2010

THE CONTINUITY IRA leadership has insisted that it has not been ousted by a new more militant and more Northern based CIRA “army council”, as was claimed by representatives of the purported new leadership.

The Continuity IRA leadership through the “Irish Republican Publicity Bureau” issued a statement last night rejecting claims by four representatives of the self-styled army council that it had overthrown what it described as the “old guard” or “pensioner” leadership.

The new faction in an interview in yesterday’s Irish Times said that a so-called “army convention” held in Bettystown, Co Louth, in the late summer had deposed the CIRA leadership and replaced it with a more Northern-based “army council”.

But the original leadership said last night that this convention had no legal standing under CIRA regulations and warned of “consequences” for those claiming to be the new leadership.

“The leadership of the republican movement wishes to reiterate our statement of June 8 that contrary to claims made in The Irish Times of July 28th by those who have set up a splinter group, no General Army Convention of Óglaigh na hÉireann, popularly known as the Continuity IRA, has been held,” it said.

“The constitution of óglaigh na hÉireann is very clear as to the circumstances under which a general army convention may be held. The holding of an unauthorised meeting to supplant the leadership is an undermining of the movement and will not be tolerated,” added the CIRA statement.

“The army council is intact and is fully in control of all matters concerning the army. We once again warn that the unauthorised use of the name of the army can have consequences,” it said.

The statement was signed “B Ruairc”, the equivalent of the “P Ó Neill” signature that the Provisional IRA used to authenticate its statements.

The four representatives of the purported new leadership described the meeting in Bettystown as a “takeover of the movement by the volunteers. It is a takeover of the military end of things”.

It accused the original leadership of effectively “running down” the CIRA’s paramilitary capability and threat. It also accused a “prominent” dissident in Belfast of “siphoning off” more than £20,000 intended for the CIRA.

The new faction said it would rebuild the CIRA “for a long struggle” to force the British government to “declare its intention to withdraw” from Northern Ireland.

News Letter
29 July 2010

FORMER UDA leader Andre Shoukri claims he has no plans to regain his paramilitary leadership.

The 33-year-old, who was released from Maghaberry jail seven weeks ago after serving four-and-a-half years for blackmail and extortion, told the News Letter: “I am telling you straight, I will never be in control of north Belfast UDA ever again. I have no interest.”

The top loyalist spoke out amid mounting speculation that he and former paramilitary figures have been regrouping.

Shoukri said: “I would rather stick needles in my eyes than go back anywhere near it. It’s laughable that they think that. There is no mileage in me going back to that.

“It is a whole different game now for me and I just have no interest in it.

“I have three children. I don’t want to go back to jail.”

Shoukri’s reign formally came to an end in June 2006 after the other five so-called brigadiers in the UDA leadership decided to expel him, his brother Ihab, and another associate.

The expulsion was, at the time, claimed to have been a result of the organisation’s stated commitment to a move away from criminal activity. He then set up a breakaway faction of ousted UDA members.

Shoukri denied that he and his associates were now reorganising, saying: “We are more truthfully – I know no better way to put it – a group of mates.

“We don’t have any structure. Whatever we had in guns and ammunition, we gave in. As far as we were concerned that was it and we were getting out of jail and we were hoping to be left alone.

“We don’t like them and they don’t like us. That is how it is. As long as they just give us a break we are happy enough.

“I mean, what are you going to get out of taking over the UDA again? They are finished. I have had enough. I don’t want to go back to jail and I don’t want any part of them whatsoever. How anyone could grasp onto the idea that we would even be thinking this over again, it’s ludicrous.”

Shoukri claimed he did not want to “paint myself out to be an angel, I have had my bad things and all that, but everything has been magnified in the media”.

“Don’t get me wrong, I had a gamble but that was magnified that I spent a million pounds,” he said.

“But the past is the past.

“I have not so much turned over a new leaf, but I am not interested in taking over the UDA. I am just interested in living my life if I can do that, if they would leave me alone. Through their own fear and paranoia they are doing it.”

When asked if he regretted joining the UDA, Shoukri said: “I don’t want to get into that by saying what I regret. I joined for my own reasons and I did what I did – obviously, I have some regrets.

“But it’s over. I am looking to the future now and the country has a wee bit of normality now. At the same time, we will not be pushed out by the UDA.

“We are no threat to them but at the same time we are not going to be pushed about like eejits.

“All their goading and all the lies they are telling are not working.

We are not guilty of anything they are saying – and the proof of that is if we were, we would have been lifted because we are being watched 24/7.”

News Letter
30 July 2010

DISSIDENT republicans engaged in a so-called “dirty protest” in Maghaberry prison have created “atrocious” conditions for prison staff over the last three months, according to the officers’ representative body.

The 28 men involved have been throwing containers of urine, often mixed with excrement, over prison landings and, on occasion, aiming the urine at the prison officers.

Finlay Spratt, of the Prison Officers Association, said staff have no option but to wear protective clothing to combat the health hazard.

Mr Spratt said that as well as the “unbearable conditions” due to the protest, the officers are facing “threats and intimidation” from inmates.

“Our members face regular threats while they’re on duty and it definitely has an effect on their well-being. They’re having to put up with that, as well as the dirty protests taking place, and it really is a ridiculous state of affairs.”

A number of commentators, politicians and prisoners’ support groups have warned that “the story could end very badly indeed”.

In scenes reminiscent of the H-Block protests 30 years ago, the republican prisoners are demanding a return to the regime enjoyed by the Maze prisoners in the years following the 1981 hunger strike.

Dissident republicans are currently held in Roe House at Maghaberry where they claim to be subjected to frequent strip searches they describe as “degrading”.

The inmates also have issues regarding the lack of free association with other prisoners, interference with their food from people outside the wing, and long periods of being confined to their cells.

Although the 1981 hunger strike was seen as Margaret Thatcher successfully facing down the terrorists’ demands, many concessions to prisoners were made in subsequent years.

By the time the Maze was finally closed in September 2000, prisoners controlled their own environment in the H-Blocks to the extent that prison officers reportedly waited to be “invited” onto each wing by the relevant paramilitary OC (officer commanding).

To date, prison authorities are refusing to bow to the desire of dissidents for history to repeat itself.

The current, more tightly-controlled regime at Roe House has resulted in prisoners being permitted to congregate only in small groups under the close supervision of prison staff, and to undergo frequent body searches.

Republican prisoner Liam Hannaway – a relative of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams – ended a 42-day hunger strike at Maghaberry in May this year with supporters claiming that his demands to be moved out of the isolation wing had been met.

Separate legal actions are also ongoing relating to conditions at the prison.

Harry Fitzsimmons, from west Belfast, recently progressed his case for a judicial review to challenge the legality of the strip searches, and fellow prisoner Stephen O’Donnell will soon have a judicial review of his daily lock-down routine.

Several political commentators are beginning to express concern that the current protest could escalate with one – Eamonn McCann – making the ominous prediction that “this story could end very badly indeed”.

In May this year, after dissidents damaged basins and toilets in their cells at Maghaberry, justice minister David Ford said: “This is the latest in a series of actions by a small number of prisoners, designed to form the impression that they are being mistreated.”

The minister said they would not succeed in their campaign of violence and added: “They seem determined to create conditions which they will then complain about, but they will have no one to blame but themselves.”

Helen McClafferty
July 24, 2010

Gerry McGeough’s Dipolock Court trial is set to resume on September 7th. He is charged with membership of the IRA in 1975 and wounding a part-time British soldier in 1981 during the height of the Hunger-Strikes.

First arrested on these charges in 2007 outside an election count center after he had stood as a candidate in the Assembly elections of that year, Gerry was put on trial exactly three years later, on March 8th this year. The trial was suspended after two days while an “abuse of process” application was heard.

Despite ample proof that Gerry McGeough was being discriminated against while other republicans from the era in similar situations had been given pardons, the judge, hiding behind British secrecy laws, has ruled that the Emergency Court trial can go ahead.

Gerry’s Spanish wife and their four young children, whose ages range from 9 to one-year-old, have been deeply traumatized by the persecution the family has been subjected to and are dreading the prospects of their father, who suffered a serious heart-attack last year, being imprisoned by Christmas.

The Sinn Féin party leadership, many of whom were IRA leaders during the 1970s and 80s, and who now administer British rule in the North of Ireland, continue to ignore the situation.

Since the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement no members of the British forces have been charged, let alone put on trial or imprisoned, for the killing of innocent Irish Catholic civilians during the “Troubles

JULY 25, 2010

**Apologies for not getting this out sooner

It has now emerged that the chief “evidence” to be used against Gerry McGeough in his trial under the discredited Diplock Court system is comprised of alleged Political Asylum application papers from Sweden.

The British claim that Gerry sought Political Asylum in Sweden in the 1980s and that they have now obtained his application files, which are normally subjected to a 50-year confidentiality protection clause under Swedish law.

In their obsessive need to prosecute and imprison this Irishman, the British are prepared to turn international political asylum refugee laws on their head. The move has widespread implications for the entire concept of political asylum and has now become a major Human Rights issue.

A central figure in this outrage is Swedish Civil Servant Helen Hedebris. Believed to be fanatically pro-British, this individual has been working in
close collaboration with the RUC/PSNI over the years and is set to be the chief prosecution witness against Gerry when the Diplock trial resumes in Belfast on September 7th.

It is not clear that the Swedish Authorities were even aware of the fact that Helen Hedebris was working in such close collusion with British agents and supplying them with confidential Swedish government documents.

Please contact the Swedish Prime Minister’s Office (see contact informatnion below) and demand that the Swedish government intervene in this matter. Express outrage at the fact that confidential political asylum application papers are to be used as “evidence” in
the discredited Diplock Court system in the North of Ireland. This action is a stain on Sweden’s otherwise excellent record in the area of international Human Rights. Sweden must demand the immediate return of these documents.

Express disgust also that Swedish Civil Servant Helen Hedebris is to be the chief witness against Gerry McGeough when his politically motivated trial resumes in September.

We need a world-wide blitz of emails and phone calls to the following Ministers in the Government of Sweden: RE: “GERRY MCGEOUGH ASYLUM PAPERS”

Prime Minister
Fredrik Reinfeldt

Roberta Alenius, Head of Press to Fredrik Reinfeldt
Office work +46 8 405 49 04
Mobile cell +46 70 270 72 17
email to Roberta Alenius
Sebastian Carlsson, Press Secretary to Fredrik Reinfeldt
Office work +46 8 405 11 16
Mobile cell +46 73 769 22 77
email to Sebastian Carlsson
Minister for Justice
Martin Valfridsson, Press Secretary to Beatrice Ask
Office work +46 8 405 47 22
Mobile cell +46 70 274 10 22
email to Martin Valfridsson
Jeanette Mattsson, Assistant Press Secretary to Beatrice Ask
Office work +46 8 405 46 87
Mobile cell +46 76 133 41 55
email to Jeanette Mattsson
Anna Neuman
Office work +46 8 405 10 00
Carl Bildt
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Irena Busic, (Only journalists) Press Secretary to Carl Bildt
Office work +46 8 405 54 73
Mobile cell +46 70 271 02 55
email to Irena Busic
Tobias Billström
Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy
Markus Friberg, Press Secretary to Tobias Billström
Office work +46 8 405 57 96
Mobile cell +46 702 61 30 84
email to Markus Friberg
Markus Friberg, Press Secretary to Tobias Billström
Mobile cell +46 70 309 35 49
Eleonor Johansson, Press Assistant
Office work +46 8 405 24 03
Mobile cell +46 76 112 31 39
e-mail to Eleonor Johansson

Thank you very much,
Helen McClafferty

Over the Twelfth some 100 plastic bullets were fired during rioting in Ardoyne by the RUC/PSNI. A number of our fellow citizens were badly-injured and received Hospital treatment etc.

As Irish Republicans, we strongly condemn the use and retention of these lethal devices and we will continue to demand their banning.

To this end, the Republican Network for Unity have organised a rally against plastic bullets. The rally will take place outside Antrim Road Barracks, Belfast on Sunday 8th August, 2010 at 7pm.

We would greatly appreciate your attendance, support and solidarity. We also don’t mind for other organisations to display their posters and banners at the rally.

RNU hope to see you on Sunday 8th, August at 7pm…

Is Mise, le Meas,
Martin Og Meehan

Derry Journal
30 July 2010

Thieves in Derry have stolen a portrait of a 1981 Republican hunger striker prompting fears it may be burned in a loyalist bonfire.

The mural of Raymond McCreesh, who died in May 1981 after 61 days on hunger strike, was taken from the gallery of hunger striker’s portraits in Bishop Street earlier this week.

Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney, himself a former hunger striker, says the theft had caused widespread anger locally.

“Both myself and the 1981 Committee were contacted this week by people living in the Bishop Street area who were very angry and annoyed that a portrait of Raymond McCreesh which was part of a large wall mural there has been stolen .

“The mural at Bishop Street was unveiled at the National Hunger Strike commemoration march which took place in the city a few years ago.
“Since then this mural has largely been untouched apart from a few minor graffiti incidents. I would appeal for people in Derry to respect murals of all political beliefs and cultures.”

Mr McCartney says the theft should not be used as an excuse for retaliation ahead of the August bonfires.

“Such incidents like have no place in our city and should not be used as an excuse by anyone to go out and do something similar particularly at this time of year.”

The MLA says anyone with any information on the whereabouts of the McCreesh portrait should contact him directly at the Rath Mor office.
Last year there was widespread condemnation after a stolen portrait of eighteenth century Bishop, Frederick Hervey – the longest serving Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry – was burned in a bonfire in the Bogside.

Belfast Telegraph

Police are hunting at least 14 people as part of their investigation into riots in north Belfast over the July 12 period, it has been revealed.

Photographs of the wanted youths and young men were released on Friday following days of trouble at the Ardoyne interface.

A shotgun was fired at police in North Queen Street, masonry dropped on officers and bullets aimed at PSNI lines. The gangs used petrol bombs, blast bombs, bricks and bottles.

Detective chief inspector Alan Little said: “The people who do this are wreaking havoc on the community in Ardoyne, it is putting police and the local community at risk of serious injury. This sort of behaviour is not to be tolerated.”

More than 80 officers were injured in three days of violence earlier this month. A police public order team is trawling through 100 hours of CCTV recording and 1,000 still camera shots in a bid to identify hooligans responsible for launching wave upon wave of brutal attacks on police.

Detectives have made 42 arrests, 22 of which involved disorder in north and west Belfast and the other 20 in parts of the city like Short Strand.

Mr Little added: “When you saw the absolute viciousness of some of the attacks on the police it is not always possible to make (all) arrests at the time. I will be continuing to make arrests and deal with people, I hope we make more arrests.”

The youngest person arrested was aged 15. Mr Little added: “There have been people pushing the children forward into dealing with this. They are not worried about these children getting criminal records.”

Mr Little appealed to everybody to come forward and assist detectives with the investigation. Police have established an inquiry line so anybody with information can contact them.

Belfast Telegraph
29 July 2010

The Catholic Church has backed calls for an independent inquiry into the British Army killings of 11 people in west Belfast almost 40 years ago.

The Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, will urge the British Government to apologise and declare innocent those shot dead in the so-called Ballymurphy Massacre when he meets bereaved families on Friday.

He will also hand the relatives previously undisclosed church archive documents relating to the deaths in August 1971.

Catholic priest Hugh Mullan was among the 11 civilians shot dead by British soldiers over a three-day period in the republican neighbourhood.

The military entered the area to round up suspected paramilitaries after the Northern Ireland government introduced the controversial policy of internment without trial.

The relatives’ calls for an internationally-chaired independent inquiry have intensified since the publication in June of the Saville report into the British Army killings of 14 people on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

Some of the soldiers who were involved in that notorious incident in Derry had been in Ballymurphy six months earlier.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said Bishop Treanor would take a tour of the area where the shootings took place before handing over the archive files to the relatives.

The documents include the church’s report into what happened, based on eyewitness accounts. A number of British military personnel are among those interviewed. The authors of the report said the killings were not justified.

West Belfast MP Gerry Adams said: “The families of those killed have borne this trauma for almost 40 years. They have courageously campaigned for the truth. I welcome the fact that the church is now prepared to release eyewitness accounts which lend support to the families’ quest for a fully independent international investigation in these deaths.”

Belfast Telegraph
Thursday, 29 July 2010

Northern Ireland political leaders have confirmed ambitious plans to redevelop the former top-security Maze prison site.

After years of deadlock, the blueprint confirms plans for a new facility that will promote the success of the peace process, while also retaining key prison buildings, including those linked to the IRA hunger strike of 1981.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said a new development corporation would also unlock the economic potential of the sprawling 360-acre site, creating 6,000 jobs.

Mr McGuinness said: “The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister will shortly submit an EU funding application for a Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Facility on the site. It is anticipated that the centre will be a world class facility of international importance designed to strengthen our peace building expertise and to share our experiences with others throughout the world.”

Mr Robinson said: “The constitution of a development corporation for this strategically important Maze/Long Kesh site will enable us to realise the full economic potential of the site. The site represents a unique opportunity to help revive our economic output in these difficult times.”

The confirmation came hours after Mr McGuinness hinted that a major announcement was imminent.

The issue of how best to redevelop the site has raged since the prison closed in 2000, with unionists previously opposed to plans to retain prison buildings linked to the hunger strike.

But it is understood a committee drawn from a broad section of opinion will oversee the formation of the Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Facility, and could include politicians, security-force representatives, former prisoners and victims of the Troubles.

There have been long-standing plans for what was previously called an International Conflict Transformation Centre, to pass the lessons of the peace process to other global trouble-spots. It was also to retain some of the prison buildings, including one of the jail’s infamous H-blocks and the hospital where 10 republican hunger strikers, led by IRA prisoner Bobby Sands, starved to death in 1981.

At the height of the hunger strike, which saw republicans effectively demand the status of political prisoners, Bobby Sands was elected MP for the Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency. The key prison buildings have already been protected by being granted listed status.

Belfast Telegraph
30 July 2010

Human remains have been found by teams searching for a man who disappeared near the Irish border almost 30 years ago.

Father-of-five Charles Armstrong (57), from Crossmaglen, south Armagh, went missing on his way to Mass in 1981.

He is one of the so-called ‘Disappeared’ — the 14 men and women abducted and killed by republican paramilitaries at the height of the violence here. Five bodies have been recovered.

Charles Armstrong

Last night the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains said the remains were found in Co Monaghan. No further details were revealed.

Mr Armstrong’s family have been informed, along with police in the Republic and the State Pathologist. A statement said: “The recovery is ongoing and the formal identification process will take some time.”

Last July, forensic experts searching for Mr Armstrong’s remains were handed a map which was thought could provide vital clues. The fresh information was sent anonymously and indicated a previously unsearched area in Co Monaghan.

At the time, several locations had already been searched near Carrickmacross, not far from the border with Northern Ireland.

The IRA admitted in 1999 that it murdered and buried nine of the Disappeared — Seamus Wright, Kevin McKee, Jean McConville, Columba McVeigh, Brendan Megraw, John McClory, Brian McKinney, Eamon Molloy and Danny McElhone — in secret locations.

The bodies of Mr Molloy, Mr McKinney, Mr McClory, Mrs McConville and Mr McElhone have been found. Others who vanished during the Troubles include Gerry Evans, Robert Nairac and Seamus Ruddy, who disappeared in France and whose murder was admitted by the INLA.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams — who has been implicated in the disappearance of Mrs McConville himself — said: “If this is true it will come as a huge relief to the family of Charlie Armstrong, who for almost three decades have never given up hope of finding him.

“I have met the family many times and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time and as they await confirmation.”

29 July 2010

A teenager has been shot in the legs after he was abducted by four masked men in the Falls Road area of west Belfast.

The gang forced the 18-year-old into a car on La Salle Drive at around 2200 BST on Wednesday.

He was driven about two miles to Corrib Avenue, in the Lenadoon area, where he was taken out of the car and shot twice, once in each leg.

He was taken to hospital for treatment for non life-threatening injuries.

The police are appealing for witnesses. They say the car involved was an old-style silver Peugeot 406 estate.

Dissident republican paramilitaries have been responsible for a series of similar attacks.

SDLP West Belfast councillor Tim Attwood condemned the shooting .

He said: “This is a totally despicable act. It was wrong when the IRA was carrying these attacks out and nothing has changed now.

“The west Belfast community endorses the rule of law and those who take the law into their own hands and act as judge, jury and executioner have no support from the rest of the community.”

News Letter
28 July 2010

CATHOLIC and Protestant children should be educated together, Mr Robinson says.

Asked about the dangers of a sectarian legacy in Northern Ireland passing onto the next generation and about the future of schooling in Northern Ireland, Mr Robinson says: “You’re always going to have, in my view, a level of difficulty while we retain the separate schooling system.

“We have to work with what’s there, but I think there has to be from politicians, even if it is long term, an aspiration to which we work step by step.

“I think we do have to resolve the issue of separate schooling.”

He also expresses the hope that there would be more integration within the schooling system: “I know the Catholic Church has a very significant role in education, but I really do believe that it is important that young people are educated together”.

The first minister says that he believes one of the root causes of sectarianism can be traced back to Northern Ireland’s segregated school system.

“If you create in them (young people) the view that we are different in some way from such an early age its starts to get ingrained in them as we grow up.

“So that issue does have to be resolved and I think we have to remember that we are fighting against some elements of our society who don’t want to move on, but who want to keep us divided under conflict.”

News Letter
28 July 2010

MOVES to expand the police Historical Enquiries Team (HET) to improve services to the injured and to allow victims of terrorism to tell their stories is the best way to deal with the past, unionists said yesterday.

A delegation from the UUP, led by outgoing leader Sir Reg Empey, held talks with secretary of state Owen Paterson on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

The UUP team said they had ruled out wide-ranging examinations of the decades of conflict, which they said would “rewrite the history of the Troubles in order to justify terrorism”.

Mr Paterson had pledged to meet parties to discuss the way forward on the issue after the Eames/Bradley report was said to have failed to attract sufficient support.

Sir Reg said: “The secretary of state and I are in agreement in very many areas on dealing with the past.

“We both believe there should be no more Saville-style inquiries, we oppose so-called ‘recognition payments’ for victims and we both support the work of the HET in providing answers for many victims of the Troubles.

“In our discussions we emphasised that those who are seeking a mechanism to rewrite the history of the Troubles in order to justify terrorism would bring further division to our society.

“The response of republicans to Saville again clearly demonstrated the inability of the republican movement to honestly and transparently deal with its role in our Troubles.”

07/27/10 12:27 EST

The NI first and deputy first ministers have published their proposals for tackling sectarianism, racism and hate.

Progress on the so-called shared future strategy was a key demand from the Alliance Party before its leader, David Ford, agreed to take the job of Justice Minister.

The public is now being asked to consult on the document over the next three months.

The consultation period will run until 29 October 2010.

The document has been delayed for around two years due to disagreements between the DUP and Sinn Fein about how to proceed.

Public meetings on the Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration are also set to take place during September.

The Stormont Executive pledges to urgently address the “physical and community division created by interfaces” as a key goal of the draft strategy published today.

Ministers will also be committed to tackling “the visible manifestations of racism, sectarianism, intolerance and other forms of prejudice”.

They will also adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to incidences of, and reasons for, attacks motivated by sectarian, religious, racist or hate prejudice.

These include those on symbolic premises, cultural premises and monuments. Another goal is take action which will address sectarian behaviour at spectator sports events.

Stormont politicians were criticised for putting the strategy on “the back burner” by Sir Hugh Orde before he stepped down as PSNI Chief Constable last year.

Meanwhile, SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly said the strategy published for consultation “lacks vision and conviction”.

Mrs Kelly said the document “fails to provide clear methods to tackle sectarianism”.

Alliance Party assembly member Stephen Farry welcomed the consultation decision.

Mr Farry said: “While doing so, we also recognise that it remains deficient and flawed in a number of respects. These include the clarity of the vision and direction for Northern Ireland, the economic and financial dimensions, resourcing and delivery mechanisms, targets and timetables.”

Sinn Fein assembly member Martina Anderson said that “there is a need to develop a coherent strategy to tackle sectarianism, racism, homophobia and other forms of hate in our society”.

Ms Anderson added: “Equality is the foundation of good relations. We welcome that the document reflects this.”

Launching the plans, First Minister Peter Robinson said: “We have all come a long way in the past decade and it is important that we now build on the good work that has already been achieved in shaping a better future for everyone.”

“We want to build a society where everyone shares in and enjoys the benefits of peace and stability.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “The draft programme provides the framework for co-ordination across government departments for action against sectarianism, racism and all forms of hate.”

“Working together, we will build a shared and better future for all based on fairness, equality, rights, responsibilities and respect.”

07/27/10 19:52 EST

A Northern-based faction within the Continuity IRA claims to have overthrown the leadership of the dissident Republican organization.

Representatives of the self-styled new CIRA army council admitted the organization could not mount a sustained campaign of violence at present, but would take opportunities when they presented themselves while in the meantime building up its paramilitary strength.

We intend to consolidate as a new guerrilla movement, we intend to recruit, to train and to equip for a long struggle, one of the army councilrepresentatives said.

They said the CIRA, which last year murdered Constable Stephen Carroll and has been active since 1994, continued to view PSNI officers and other members of the British security forces as legitimate targets.

Four representatives of the CIRA army council gave an interview to Dublin based Irish Times yesterday. The representatives claims are in line with the expectations of security and intelligence sources that such a breakaway was imminent.

A senior source from Republican Sinn Féin, viewed as the political wing of the CIRA, responded: We would see them [the purported new leadership] as just another splinter group that has broken away.

The CIRA members who spoke however said the vast majority of its volunteers rejected what they described as the old guard who were tired, weary, old men who are refusing to hand over the reins. It is a takeover of the movement by the volunteers. It is a takeover of the military end of things, said one spokesman.

The CIRA is separate from other dissident groups such as the Real IRA, although they have occasionally co-operated.

The spokesmen accused the purportedly ousted army councilof effectively running down the CIRA. They are not providing the volunteers with the required materials for them to do their job, said one.

They said the new leadership was broadly representative of its membership, variously estimated at 150 – 200 active members, but that there were now more Northern volunteers on the army council whereas before only two of the seven were from the North.

One CIRA representative said in recent years there were six or seven calls for an army convention to be held to investigate allegations of financial corruptionand other matters, but these calls were thwarted.

Eventually, an extraordinary army convention was held in Bettystown in Co Meath in the early summer and a number of points were raised, including a claim that over GBP£20,000 was siphoned off by one prominentdissident republican in Belfast.

The spokesmen said delegates at the convention represented 95 per cent of volunteersand that they unanimously elected a new 12-member ruling executive, which in turn appointed a new seven-member army council.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile


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