Thursday, June 30, 2005

In the best British Army tradition

Anne Cadwallader:

I have always had a soft spot for men in uniform, specifically British Army uniform, which I still associate with my father who served in the Far East and elsewhere in the Second World War.

He would never speak about it, never showed us his medals, but it was an unspoken assumption in our house that he had seen unspeakable things in the jungle conflict that brought the war to a close.

When I was a kid in the 1960s, he stayed on with the Emergency Reserve (a kind of up-market Territorial Army) and used to invite us, when we were very lucky, to “manoeuvres” in Surrey.

He was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and specialised in fixing broken-down tanks. He would sit in his tent in the British countryside with huge pages spread out on a table showing the innards of Centurions and other bits of heavy-duty equipment.

He was in full dress uniform when he married Mum and various black-and-white pictures of them emerging from church, looking impossibly glamorous and in love, adorned our fireplace at home.

Needless to say, after 25 years working over here, I now have a somewhat different approach to members of the British Army, but there’s still the childhood residual respect and loyalty towards what it could mean, in an ideal world.

When I read Colonel Tim Collins’ address to his troops before battle in Iraq, I was moved. Here was a soldier, sent out to kill or be killed, who respected his enemy, whatever his views on his political masters.

I had concerns, obviously, about his role as a member of the Royal Irish Regiment, with its ugly antecedents in the Ulster Defence Regiment, but I was unaware that he had ever served on the ground in the North.

Until I read his autobiography, Rules of Engagement, recently published.

As some of you will know, last year I wrote a book myself, about the Holy Cross episode in north Belfast. I like to think that I know quite a lot now about the people involved on both sides. Holy Cross is part of me.

What Tim Collins had to say about it left me gasping. It was so untrue, so utterly untrue that I felt, at first, a huge disgust and anger that others, who know no better, will read it and believe it.

Then I felt sorrow and a kind of resignation. If Tim Collins is today’s “thinking soldier”, if he is the best the British Army has to offer, then God help the British Army.

He speaks of how “pressure” on Protestant residents in Glenbryn had been “ramped up” by the IRA. This is nonsense. If any paramilitary group was involved in “ramping up” pressure, it was the UDA. Even the police, on the record, admit that.

Of the initial incident that sparked off the Holy Cross dispute, his facts are also way off target. He speaks of how a car “swept” the ladder from under a loyalist putting up flags and that a “gang” had leapt out and attacked the poor loyalist with a screwdriver.

Not even the loyalist concerned, Jim McClean, claims that he was knocked off the ladder. More garbage.

He says the “community activists” on the Ardoyne side were “Provisional IRA almost to a man”. Leaving aside the crass sexism that remark betrays, what of those activists involved who had no political or paramilitary connections whatsoever, including members of the Right to Education Group?

It must be a source of some amusement, or more likely annoyance, for parents like Elaine Burns and Lynda Bowes to be called “Provisional IRA to a man”. But no, to a man like Collins, anyone in Ardoyne who lifts their head above the parapet is the enemy, the IRA.

If he had asked any local politician, or anyone who knows Ardoyne at all, he would have quickly found out that roughly a third of its residents vote SDLP.

Collins describes, tellingly, how “surly crowds” watched him and his troops, some “wearing Celtic shirts over their massive beer bellies” while they chewed gum and spat.

On the other side, he describes men with cropped hair wearing Rangers shirts, heavily tattooed, their faces “reddened by drink” with gold knuckle-dusters. Both sides are disgusting, except the children, of course, who will no doubt grow up to be disgusting.

This is classic imperialist stuff. We, the dominant class, are noble, educated, even good-looking. The untermensch are stupid, ugly, fat, sinister. Without exception.

Collins sees things that do not exist. He describes paving stones on Ardoyne Road painted green, white and gold. News to me, and the residents. He even spells Glenbryn wrong as “Glynbryn”.

No doubt there were disgusting people on the Ardoyne Road that year, but not all of them were. I would love him to have met Patricia Monaghan, a parent and cross-community worker.

In an unforgettable interview for Holy Cross she told of how she agonised over deciding whether to bring her daughter to school the usual way, or the so-called “alternative route”.

She and her husband had lost two daughters in infancy. Now they had a healthy wee girl. Should they risk the challenge of the loyalist gauntlet?

She prayed to God at the graveside of her two dead babies for three days, asking herself what was the right thing to do? “For me, it was a moral decision. It wasn’t anything to do with politics, Catholics, Protestants, your ground or my ground,” she said.

Patricia Monaghan’s self-questioning, her sense of dignity, morality, of the importance of free will, contrasts with the swaggering, self-importance of a man who appears to respect the rights of Iraqi citizens so much more than those of his fellow countrymen.

My Dad wouldn’t have liked him.

Priest slams Collins’ claim

Wiping Out The Opposition

Where's the outrage over sectarian marches?

Terry Golway:

It is tempting indeed at this time of year to advise the Catholics of the Six Counties to stay at home during the marching season, to simply ignore the provocations on the assumption that the bigots will go away if nobody pays attention to them.

The problem, of course, is that the marching season involves more than just marching, and more than mere taunting. In recent days, loyalists have attacked the homes of Catholics in Belfast, putting into practice the words which are preached in the Orange Lodges of Northern Ireland.

It is a miracle that, as of this writing anyway, these attacks have not killed anybody. But not for lack of trying. In the most recent incident, three Catholic families were driven from their homes when an oil tank was set ablaze. Eight children were among those left homeless. In one of the incinerated homes, a play area where children sometimes slept was left in cinders.

Imagine for a moment that this sort of thing was going on in, say, the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, or in South Boston. Imagine if the homes of African-Americans, or Latino immigrants, were under attack by ruthless white people with murder in their hearts. The world's media would be on the story in a second, and rightfully so.

In the north of Ireland, however, the loyalist rampage goes on without mention in the mainstream press in the U.S. In some ways, that is as much a commentary on the loyalists as it is the press.

Given the reputation which the loyalists "enjoy" in most U.S. newsrooms, it would be considered news if they didn't attack the homes of defenseless Catholics during the marching season.

Ultimately, outrages like the home-burnings tell us why the Orange parades simply can't be ignored, even though it would seem, at first glance, to be the sensible strategy. Yes, the Orangemen seem ridiculous with their hats and sashes and drums, but they actually are not ridiculous at all. Some of them, anyway, know precisely what they are doing - they are creating an atmosphere which inspires not just hatred, but violence as well.

Not long ago, although in some ways it seems like decades have passed, David Trimble was in New York to tout economic growth and investment in the North. He spoke of promoting Ulster's folk culture as a way of luring tourists. And, as God and Ian Paisley are my witnesses, he cited the 12th of July parades as an example of folk culture which could lure tourists to the North.

What's astonishing, of course, is that this Orangeman probably believed what he was saying. As far as he was concerned, why not? Why wouldn't cash-happy Americans and Japanese and Aussies and other Europeans fly into Belfast to witness the marching season? After all, in a world that has been homogenized by generic popular culture, the 12th of July certainly is an authentic expression of traditional culture.

Apparently it never crossed Trimble's mind that this particular bit of traditional culture might actually offend Catholics and indeed all people of good will.

I recall wondering if the Sons of the Confederacy or some such organization might summon up similar chutzpah to package a Jim Crow tour of the Old South. "Here, ladies and gentlemen, is where the sons of the South stood firm against the outside agitators who wanted to desegregate the University of Mississippi." The comparison is not far-fetched, although Unionist sympathizers in Ireland and the U.K. rabidly insist otherwise.

Twenty years ago this month, I traveled to Belfast for the first time, and scheduled that visit in order to see the parades for myself. (Hey, maybe Trimble really was onto something.) I was there as a journalist, but also, frankly, as an Irish-American Catholic. Nothing I had read prepared me for the hatred I saw on those faces. And, worse, those faces were not all bejowled and wrinkled. There were young faces, many young faces, in the line of march. The only difference between the young and old seemed to be that the young faces spewed much harsher language, much more colorful epithets.

The world, and Ireland itself, has changed a great deal since 1985. And it goes without saying that Belfast, too, has changed.

But we are now in the middle of marching season, when the clocks in the Six Counties are turned back to 1690.

And that is why the rest of us -- people of the 21st Century -- are obliged to stand fast and call out hatred and bigotry for what it is.

Ignoring the marching season will not make it go away. That is regrettable, but it is also self-evident.

Testy parade on hold -- for now

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

'Buoyant' 2005 so far for IDA Ireland

RTE News:

IDA Ireland says the outlook for foreign investment in Ireland is good, with chief executive Sean Dorgan describing business in 2005 as buoyant.

Speaking on the publication of its annual report, Mr Dorgan said the agency had had considerable success in locating projects in towns throughout the country.

He described 2004 as a watershed year, highlighting development investments from companies such as Lucent Bell Labs and IBM, and manufacturing decisions by Intel, Centocor and Guidant.

Chairman John Dunne said Ireland had moved away from low-cost, low-value assembly and service operations. He said we should no longer just count the number of jobs a project created, but also the levels of investment, the quality of the jobs and the 'strategic relevance' of the activities.

The annual report shows that 10,825 new jobs were created in IDA-backed companies last year, but this only slightly offset the number of jobs lost. 37 new investments were attracted last year, with 33 expansion projects. Total investment in these was worth ?5 billion.

IDA upbeat on investment in 05

Jobs increase at IDA-backed companies

IDA Ireland lauds continued inward investment success

British justice fails once again

BBC News:

The mother of a man murdered by two soldiers in Belfast 13 years ago has vowed to fight on until his killers are thrown out of the Army.

Jean McBride's 18-year-old son Peter was shot dead by two Scots Guards in Belfast in 1992.

She was speaking at the High Court after losing a third legal action to force the Ministry of Defence to expel Mark Wright and James Fisher.

Mrs McBride said she now intended to take her case to the European Court.

"I don't think there is a judge in Northern Ireland with the bottle to stand up against the establishment, so it looks like we'll have to take our case to Europe," she said.

In June 2003, the Court of Appeal ruled by a 2-1 majority that the Army was wrong not to discharge the soldiers.

Instead, they made a legal declaration that the reasons adopted by the Army Board were not so exceptional as to permit the retention of the two soldiers.

Dismissing the case, Mr Justice Weir held that the decision to retain the soldiers remained effective even though the majority of judges found that there was no basis for it.

Wright and Fisher were sentenced to life for murder in 1995, but three years later were released from prison and allowed to rejoin their regiment.

At their trial, Wright and Fisher said they believed Peter McBride was carrying a bomb.

But the judge found they were lying as they had already stopped and searched him.

Once again the British "justice" system protects the murderers of indigenous Irish Catholics.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Indigenous Irish Catholics burned out as British colonial marchers gather

Angelique Chrisafis:

In the dead of night on the smart north Belfast cul-de-sac, a river of burning oil had scorched everything in its wake. The roof of one house had caved in and a children's playhouse, which four children had slept in a few days earlier, was a burnt-out shell.

If they had been there at 1am, when arsonists set an oil tank alight, causing two more to explode and sending a fireball through the edge of the estate, they would have been burned alive like their pet rabbit.

"We can't stay here now," said the children's father, Peter McCall, as the smell of smoke hung in the air. The McCalls are now abandoning this middle-class idyll of the new Northern Ireland.

The image of parents waking to the crackle of burning, wrenching children from their beds and throwing them over fences to safety is a throwback to the Troubles. Attacks still occur in working-class areas and on the homes of migrant workers. But in a leafy new mixed development of Catholics and Protestants, where most children attend the local integrated school, it is not supposed to happen.

When a group of youths told Catholic children from the estate "You are invading our territory and your houses are going to burn tonight", no one took it seriously.

Police are investigating a motive for Monday's attack in Old Throne Park. Sinn Féin said it was attempted murder, a sectarian act by loyalists to stoke tensions during the marching season, which began with violence last weekend and continues with the contentious Whiterock parade in Belfast tonight. This could mark the start of a fraught summer, the party warned.

When a Catholic church was burnt by arsonists in Portadown this week, a local priest appealed for no revenge attacks.

The first major parade of the Protestant marching season ended in chaos last weekend after Catholic demonstrators threw bottles and bricks and clashed with police after the return leg of the Orange Order's Tour of the North passed the nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast.

This rundown and embittered interface between Protestant and Catholic communities who live behind dividing "peace walls" is a flash point of tension every year. This area of north Belfast suffered the most murders of the Troubles and the loyalist protests outside Holy Cross school four years ago still play strongly in people's minds.

Northern Ireland's chief constable, Hugh Orde, said the disturbances, in which 18 police officers and 11 others were injured, should serve as a "wake-up call" for the marching season.

Father Aidan Troy, the priest who led Catholic children to school during the Holy Cross dispute, warned that tension had descended to "the subhuman" and if the Irish or British governments did not intervene soon, someone could be killed.

More evidence that the only way to bring lasting peace to the north of Ireland is to relocate the British colonists back to Britain where their ancestors came from.

Attendance at British colonial "Church of Ireland" slumps to 17%

David Quinn:

WEEKLY church attendance in one of the heartlands of Protestant Northern Ireland, the Church of Ireland diocese of Down and Dromore which takes in Belfast, has slumped to just 17pc, according to new figures.

In addition, there has also been a big falloff in the number attending Sunday School, and in the number of babies being baptised.

The figures were made public by the Bishop of Down and Dromore Dr Harold Miller, in his address to the diocese's annual synod.

They are contained in a 434-page report on the diocese which follows on from a parish-by-parish visitation conducted by Bishop Miller over the last number of months.

He said that according to the most recent national census, conducted in 2001, there were 91,000 people in the diocese who said they were members of the Church of Ireland.

However, he said that 20,000 of these "are missing", because they do not show up on parish lists.

He noted: "Presumably those 20,000 are so far out on the fringe that they are unknown to us."

More worryingly for the diocese, of the 91,000 who consider themselves to be Church of Ireland, only 15,800 are in church in an average week in the diocese.

This translates into weekly church attendance of just over 17pc.

Nice to see that one of the institutions of British colonialism in Ireland is on the decline.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Kelly arrest a blatant act of provocation

Jim Gibney:

The imprisonment of Ardoyne republican Sean Kelly is a blatant act of provocation.

It is aimed at undermining republican confidence in the peace process.

Sean Kelly is not a Johnny Adair figure. Those who put him in prison know this.

He supports the peace process. He has worked tirelessly to defuse interface conflict in Ardoyne.

It is for this reason and no other he is back in prison on a manufactured intelligence report.

What sort of message does this type of sinister manipulation of a man's liberty send out to republicans?

Evidence that this report is contrived to suit a political attack on the peace process was revealed by news organisations.

They showed recent correspondence from the PSNI to a unionist representative complaining about Sean Kelly's presence at peaceful protests.

In a curt response the PSNI stated that Kelly was not breaking the law.

In fact, Sean Kelly was defusing tension and preventing sectarian clashes.

Those responsible for his imprisonment are the securocrats, the DUP, some sections of the media and a secretary of state, still wet behind the ears, who thinks it beneficial to pander to the DUP.

Sean Kelly was easy prey for those who have tried many times to derail the peace process.

Loyalist politicians opposed his release and demanded his re-arrest but took a completely different attitude towards Adair-led loyalists when they were creating havoc on the Shankill Road.

And this weekend as in previous years the same loyalist politicians will walk in an Orange parade on the Springfield Road, which has for years been imposed on the nationalist people of that area and in the past included a banner glorifying a UVF man who killed a Catholic.

For many republicans, Sean Kelly's arrest confirms for them that the peace process is in a crisis.

The implications of Peter Hain's decision to imprison Kelly are on a par with Mo Mowlam's decision to force an Orange parade down the Garvaghy Road a short time after she arrived here.

Mowlam's credibility among republicans never fully recovered from that decision.

I suspect Hain will suffer similarly.

The new British secretary of state shares the same Christian name with a previous secretary of state, Peter Mandelson.

He needs to be careful this early in his tenure he doesn't end up being viewed as negatively as Mandelson.

The news of Kelly's imprisonment was breaking as the people of Ardoyne were dealing with the violence of an Orange parade forced past their district.

Ardoyne is a small community.

They suffered grievously and disproportionately during the conflict.

Ninety-nine people lost their lives.

Hundreds of men and women were in jail.

For 20 years the people lived under military occupation.

They have been traumatised as a result.

They must be wondering to themselves if they are ever going to live in a society which respects and protects them.

If the comments of the PSNI officer in charge of the Ardoyne operation are anything to go by then we are a long way from that.

He told the press his main concern was to "force the parade and supporters through".

He said nothing about the effect of his actions on the people of Ardoyne nor did he make a comment about the Orange Order insisting on walking past Ardoyne.

Indeed this year there is practically no focus on the consequences of the Orange Order's marching plans.

This anti-Catholic organisation is threatening violence if it is prevented from marching where it wants to.

Their threats are being echoed by the DUP.

It is obvious the Orange Order and the DUP are out to test the resolve of the British government.

The British government must stand firm against this sectarian intimidation.

Orange Order marches should be re-routed away from areas where they are not wanted and where they cause – and are intended to cause – deep offence.

And Sean Kelly, a pro-agreement, pro-peace process republican activist should be released immediately.

Derry Protest At Sean Kelly Arrest

Republicans protest bomber arrest

IRA Bomber's Return to Prison 'Stupid' Says Adams

Ahern seeks answers over jailing

Ahern Demands Answers to IRA Bomber's Return to Jail

Pressure grows for explanation of bomber's re-arrest

Thursday, June 23, 2005

No room for two Unionist parties

John Coulter:

By the end of this week, there’ll be a new Ulster Unionist leader and his first task should be to lay the groundwork for a formal merger with the DUP. The hard reality which the unionist family must face is that when the Paisleyites pull off a deal with Sinn Fein – or even if Direct Rule is made more accountable – there is only room on the unionist spectrum for one political party.

Ulster Unionism must swallow the bitter medicine that the 100-year party is over. It must fully merge or melt totally. If the DUP succeeds in implementing what is effectively Trimbleite policy by restoring a legislative Stormont Parliament, the UUP will be politically exterminated in the subsequent Assembly elections to ratify the deal.

If there is no room for two Unionist parties then there is definitely no room for two Nationalist ones. If the UUP and the DUP do merge then the SDLP must face the fact that its continued existence will only hurt the indigenous Irish population by dividing the Nationalist vote.

UUP hits out at EU upgrade for Irish language

Breaking News:

Ulster Unionist Party MEP Jim Nicholson has hit out at the decision to upgrade the Irish language to official EU status, branding the decision "a purely political campaign".

"It will only serve to overburden a linguistic regime, which is already struggling to cope with 20 official languages," he said, criticising the British government's backing for the measure.

"We have got to question the (British) government's priorities in investing moral and financial support in the promotion of the Irish language at a time when budget constraints are being felt in public sector areas such as health and education," he said.

Sinn Féin MEP Barbara De Brún became the first MEP to address the European Parliament in Irish since it became an official language of the EU.

And the UUP are supposed to be the moderate Unionists!

Commission fails to see inescapable truth

Brian Feeney:

Yes, it's true the Fenians cast the first (and last) stone, bottle, golf ball – you name it – at Ardoyne last Friday night.

Yes, it's true the police overestimated the ability of republicans to quell the zeal of young rioters.

Yes, it's true the Parades Commission's grandly named 'determination' meant, in effect, two parades were passing Ardoyne, thereby guaranteeing soaring tensions and easy targets.

All of which helps everyone to avoid the fundamental fact that if Orangemen didn't insist on marching through places where no-one wants them, there would be no trouble at all.

We're often reminded that there are around 3,000 Orange marches a year and that the vast majority pass off peacefully.

Why wouldn't they? They take place in districts where no-one has any objection to them.

They consist of one or two lodges and a band preceeded by a couple of police.

The trouble happens, as it always has since the foundation of the Orange Order, when Orangemen demand to strut through Catholic districts, be they in Belfast, Portadown, Derry or Pomeroy. In such instances an Orange march is inherently violent and intimidatory.

The marchers belong to a sectarian society virulently hostile to the beliefs of the residents they seek to trample on.

In many cases the bands they hire – and it's no coincidence they're called 'blood and thunder' or kick-the-pope-bands – consist of loyalist paramilitaries whose organisations have killed Catholics in the districts they march through. Some carry banners extolling the killers.

Let's face it, an Orange march in such circumstances is the equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan marching through Harlem playing Dixie. Quite simply, it's unthinkable. It would never happen.

Yet Orangemen insist it does and the Parades Commission insists on finding ways to let them do it.

The commission's bottom line, supported by the British administration here, appears to be that it's always easier to get the police to force an Orange march through a Catholic district rather than risk a stand-off with the Orange Order.

In other words, precisely the same situation John Major's lily-livered government caved into annually in the 1990s.

As a result, the Parades Commission has been in full retreat for the last two years and has now reached the stage where it doesn't even abide by its own rules of parade notification.

Last year the commission cravenly agreed to last-minute pressure and wheedling from the so-called loyal orders to allow the march on the Springfield Road.

Remember the self-styled Orange 'commission' last year which was going to talk to residents about 2005 parades if they got marching in 2004? Everyone except the Parades Commission knew they had no such intention and would vanish at the end of August.

Orangemen have always insisted on disregarding the law no matter the price to wider society. They have never acted for the benefit of society as a whole, being prepared from the 19th century to take on the government they supposedly owe allegiance to.

Therefore it's too much to hope that anyone can penetrate the tiny particle of brain their current leadership possesses to explain that the sectarian geography of Belfast has changed, that feeder parades along roads now Catholic are not on any more, that they can hire buses, that marching round north Belfast only shows how much unionist power has diminished – not how much Orangemen control.

One thing you can be sure of is that the Parades Commission won't try. They start from the dopey assumption that if a march is notified it can go ahead as long as the organisers adhere to a list of restrictions.

It never seems to occur to them that the march is planned to be deliberately provocative or, as in Garvaghy Road or on the Springfield Road, in territory long since abandoned by unionists.

Indeed the gates on Workman Avenue off the Springfield Road are there for the sole purpose of being opened each year to let through an Orange march that not a soul on the Springfield Road wants.

We're told they won't be opened this year. Has the Parades Commission finally recognised the Orange march is the problem, not the residents who want to be left in peace?

It's just a pity the Parades Commission is always the last to accept the facts on the ground.

The inescapable truth is that the days of loyalists prancing past Ardoyne shops have been over for years.

Perhaps the Parades Commission reckons they can only stand up to Orangemen at one parade a year and this year it's the Springfield Road? We'll see.

Nationalists to protest Ardoyne march

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Further decline of the Ulster Unionist party

Alistair Bushe:

A prominent Ulster Unionist councillor dealt another blow last night to the beleaguered party by announcing that he is defecting to the DUP.

Robert McIlroy of Moyle, who is a senior Orangeman, sounded a grim warning to former UUP colleagues, claiming that the party had lost its way and had failed to give leadership to the unionist people.

With the Ulster Unionist leadership election less than a week away, DUP sources predicted further defections over the s summer.

As he confirmed what will be a blow to the new UUP leader, Bushmills representative Mr McIlroy said that the DUP was the only party "fighting the unionist corner".

As British colonists continue to consolidate around the DUP it will become increasingly important for indigenous Irish Catholic voters to ask themselves if they can afford the luxury of two political parties?

Ahern totally disagrees with Blair on EU budget

RTE News:

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has said he totally disagrees with the position of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on the EU Budget, which led to stalemate at last week's European summit.

The Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, claimed in the Dáil that the attack on the Common Agricultural Policy by Mr Blair was 'absolutely outrageous'.

Mr Ahern said that he agreed with him, saying he totally disagreed with Mr Blair on the issue, and said he believes the British presentation of the CAP was 'dishonest'.

Wow! The leaders of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael criticising a British prime minister. That is definitely something that you don't see happening every day!

British loyalists blamed for assault on Irish Catholic father-of-six

Damian McCarney:

Loyalist paramilitaries are believed to have been responsible for a sectarian attack on a Catholic man in the nationalist enclave of Short Strand in Belfast.

Brian McMullan was viciously attacked on Saturday morning by a gang of four men who beat him with hammers.

Mr McMullan - a father-of-six - was previously badly injured by a work-related accident in 2003.

Sinn Féin spokesperson Deborah Devenny described the attack and an apparent related abduction attempt as “sinister”.

Prior to Saturday’s incident, local people reported seeing a black BMW car cruising around the Short Strand area and acting suspiciously.

“All four men got out of the car with each of them carrying bars of some description,” said Mr McMullan.

“One of them was carrying a ratchet bar and he whacked me over the back of the head. I didn’t have much chance to defend myself as I have a bad leg.”

After failing to get Mr McMullan onto the ground, the gang made off in the BMW, travelling towards the loyalist Newtownards Road.

“I didn’t ask for this to happen. I am just an innocent Catholic and they came into my district to do this. They were out to kill me. It could have been anyone,” said Mr McMullan.

“I was just an easy target because I was on the street. I could have been lying dead in a coffin.”

Mr McMullan was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital and received five staples for cuts on his head.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “A motive for the attack has yet to be established and police are investigating all possible avenues at present.”

Devenny said the incident would heighten tensions aheading of the marching season.

“It is a recurring theme that when tensions rise over loyalist parades, so do attacks upon innocent nationalists,” she said.

“As the summer marching season is now upon us, I would call upon nationalists to remain vigilant at this time.”

Another reason why the indigenous Irish population of the Six Counties needs the IRA to protect them from the loyalist thugs of British colonialism.

Lives are at risk - Fr Troy

Daily Ireland:

Former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald admitted at the weekend that, for decades, Northern nationalists were effectively abandoned by Irish governments.

Mr FitzGerald conveniently absents himself from the long list of political leaders who turned their backs on Irish citizens in the Six Counties. After all, he is the Taoiseach who claimed to have ended the nationalist nightmare with the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985.

However, 20 years later, the scenes from Ardoyne on Friday night show that the nightmare is far from over for the beleaguered nationalists of north Belfast.

On that evening, Orangemen and their supporters, who had insisted on marching through Ardoyne, were indulged in their sectarian madness by the Parades Commission and the PSNI. Batons were drawn — but only to be used on Catholic residents.

The tinderbox that is Ardoyne now waits for another dose of the Democratic Unionist Party’s favoured medicine when the Orange march passes the Ardoyne shops not once but twice on July 12.

In true Paisleyite fashion, the Orangemen and their hangers-on who are obsessed with marching past Catholic homes will refuse to speak to those same residents — in the knowledge that they will still get their way.

Such an approach plays into the hands of the small minority on the nationalist side who mar the peaceful protests against these marches.

Fr Aidan Troy, whose peacemaking credentials are beyond dispute, has appealed to the Taoiseach and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to intervene to resolve this dispute before lives are lost.

His urgent pleas deserve a rapid response from Dublin.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern must move to ensure that there is no repeat of Friday’s chaotic scenes when the loyal orders again take to the streets of nationalist north Belfast on July 12. He should use the full weight of his governmental office and of his position as the leader of nationalist Ireland to insist that the days of forcing Orange parades through Catholic areas at the point of PSNI batons are at an end.

‘Senseless’ attacks on nationalist homes condemned

Monday, June 20, 2005

Two indigenous Irish Catholic families are homeless after British loyalist arson attack

Ireland On-line:

Two Catholic families have been forced to abandon their homes in the Whitewell area of north Belfast following a suspected loyalist arson attack early this morning.

An oil tank was set alight behind one of the houses in the mainly nationalist Old Throne Park development at around 1am.

The blaze spread to two neighbouring tanks and the flames quickly engulfed two homes and damaged several cars.

Two families were forced to flee and one man was treated for the effects of smoke inhalation.

Local residents have blamed loyalist for the fire.

Tensions have been rising in the area for many years, with loyalists from nearby White City resenting the fact that nationalists have been moving into new homes in the locality.

And people honestly expect the Provisional IRA to disband in the face of this violence?

Scotland is set to narrow its growth gap with the rest of Britain helped by an unexpected rise in inward migration

BBC News:

According to Ernst & Young, the Scottish economy is set to outperform the UK as a whole in 2005 after a disappointing performance last year.

Scotland's economic prospects, under threat from a falling population, were boosted by a rise in migration in 2004.

Newcomers were attracted by cheaper housing and good job prospects.

The difference between Scotland's economic output and that of the rest of the UK is expected to fall from 1.2% last year to 0.7% in 2005.

This would bring it into line with the average figure for the past seven years after Scotland fell further behind the rest of the UK in 2004.

Although the economy is expected to slow slightly this year - output declining from 1.9% to 1.8% - it will perform better than the UK as a whole thanks to more vibrant retail sales and healthy job creation.

Optimism about the country's long-term economic prospects has been clouded by fears of a decline in population.

Although the number of deaths outstripped births by 4,000 in 2004, Scotland benefited from a net gain of 26,000 migrants, a much higher figure than expected.

E&Y said the rise in arrivals could be attributed to housing being much cheaper than in the south of England while employment prospects were just as good due largely to a rise in public sector jobs.

"The idea of an irreversible decline in the Scottish population needs to be revised," said Dougie Adams, chief economic adviser to Ernst & Young's Scottish Item club.

"In the past, periods of gain from migration have tended to coincide with recession in the greater south but this latest experience looks different."

However, Mr Adams said the figures should be treated with some caution in terms of future trends because they may have been distorted by the admission of ten new countries to the EU last year, which resulted in many young workers moving to western Europe.

Of course, relocating British colonists from the north of Ireland to Scotland would also help boost the future growth of the Scottish economy.

Migrants labouring to boost Scotland's economy

Friday, June 17, 2005

Loyalist thugs attack a Catholic home in Ardoyne

Ireland On-line:

Loyalists in Belfast have attacked a Catholic home in north Belfast ahead of a contentious Orange Order march in the area this evening.

Ardoyne resident Joseph McBride said the attackers threw a garden ornament through the window of his house early this morning and shouted "up the UVF" as they sped away from the scene.

The attack came ahead of the annual Tour of the North parade, part of which is due to pass through the nationalist Ardoyne area.

Security tight for Orange march

Orange actions prompt fears of marching season trouble

Nationalists to protest Ardoyne march

Adams appeals for calm as parade set to pass through Ardoyne

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Survey: Ireland in 10 years

Ireland On-line:

Most Irish people believe Ireland’s infrastructure and transport problems will not be resolved within the next 10 years, according to a survey conducted by a recruitment website.

Almost three quarters of respondents said they believed Ireland’s roads would still be gridlocked in 2015 and the second terminal at Dublin Airport would still not be completed.

Just over half of respondents said they expected Ireland’s economic growth to continue in the coming years.

Elsewhere, 55% said they believed Sinn Féin would be in Government within 10 years, while more than two fifths believe Ireland will have notched up another Eurovision win by 2015.

Let's hope that the Irish public is right about Sinn Fein being in Government by 2015.

SDLP demands that Sinn Féin backs police "reforms"

The British and Irish Governments were today urged to insist that Sinn Féin backs policing in Northern Ireland regardless what the next IRA statement says.

As officials in London and Dublin anxiously awaited the Provisionals' response to Gerry Adams' call for them to consider abandoning armed struggle, the nationalist SDLP's Eddie McGrady accused republicans of playing games with the electorate over their commitment to democracy and on law and order.

And he also warned the British government it must not compromise the peace process by using policing or other issues to cut a side deal with republicans.

The South Down MP argued: "For the past 10 years the entire community has been led a merry dance by the Provisional movement who flirted with democracy through Sinn Féin while remaining wedded to criminal and paramilitary activity through the IRA.

"As Sinn Féin sidestepped their political obligations under the Good Friday Agreement, the IRA was used as both a carrot and stick measure to tease and test the rest of democratic Ireland.

"Only a party as duplicitous as Sinn Féin could at the same time embrace the IRA and all its activities while speaking about justice and democracy out of the other side of their mouths.

"Sinn Féin cannot and should not be allowed to sidestep their responsibilities any longer.

"Both governments must ensure that Sinn Féin, in the event of any IRA statement or not, take the logical step of facing up to their responsibility of actively supporting and participating in the policing of Northern Ireland."

In a groundbreaking move in 2001, the SDLP became the first nationalist party in the history of Northern Ireland to endorse a police service there following reforms introduced in the wake of recommendations from a commission chaired by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten.

Unlike the SDLP, Sinn Féin has declined its seats on the Northern Ireland Policing Board and local District Policing Partnerships because they believe the reforms do not go far enough.

The party has pressed for the transfer of policing and criminal justice powers from Westminster to Stormont.

The SDLP must realize that they made a huge mistake in accepting the token "reforms" offered by the British government. The fact that Sinn Fein increased it seats in both the Westminster and local elections while the SDLP did not, must have made the SDLP aware of how unhappy the indigenous Irish Catholic population is with the current state of policing in the Six Counties. It is unlikely that Sinn Fein would be foolish enough to give in to the SDLP's pathetic demands.

Discrimination hasn’t gone away in the north of Ireland

Jarlath Kearney:

Less than four months ago, the Irish government minister with responsibility for the North claimed that anti-Catholic and anti-nationalist discrimination “has disappeared”.

In a newspaper interview published on March 6, foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern declared: “Matters have changed dramatically in the North… the type of discrimination that took place in previous decades, all of that has disappeared.”

Just two days ago, the actions of a courageous career firefighter from south Down seriously undermined the public position of Mr Ahern and his senior officials.

Following a difficult legal battle, John Allen forced the Fire Authority for Northern Ireland to concede that his complaint of religious and/or political discrimination was unchallengeable.

The authority settled Mr Allen’s case just before the case had been scheduled to open at the Fair Employment Tribunal in Belfast on Monday morning. The authority also agreed that it would restructure aspects of its recruitment policy in line with its public equality duties under section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Effectively, the Fire Authority had imposed a discriminatory policy that excluded Catholics and nationalists — based on their area of residence — from promotional opportunities at headquarters in Lisburn, Co Antrim.

This was achieved by drawing up maps of geographical areas within which senior officers who could be on “stand-by/call-out” duty must reside. These maps excluded areas in west Belfast, which is just 11 miles (18 kilometres) from Lisburn. They also excluded areas such as south Armagh, Derry, south Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone, all of which have large Catholic and nationalist populations.

Since the Fire Authority is a major public service, its failure to adhere to the public equality duties introduced as a result of the Good Friday Agreement is very serious.

In this regard, John Allen’s case — supported by the Equality Commission — also represents a significant shot across the bows of other government and public bodies in the North.

During his trip to the North a fortnight ago, Alan Hevesi, the comptroller of New York state, indicated that, while some progress had been made, he retained continuing concerns in relation to issues of discrimination and inequality in the North. Such concerns are regularly voiced by Sinn Féin and SDLP representatives.

As a long-time campaigner for the MacBride principles on fair employment and a key supporter of the North’s peace process, Mr Hevesi remains an important and well-informed US politician.

In criticising ongoing communal discrimination and wider working-class deprivation, Mr Hevesi argued that models of US good practice could be implemented in the North to help achieve equality.

Specifically, he emphasised the extent to which government procurement and investment practices could be positively conditioned to bring about affirmative action.

One of the agencies with which Mr Hevesi’s New York state retirement fund has now entered an investment arrangement is the state agency Invest Northern Ireland.

At a seminar addressed by Mr Hevesi, Sinn Féin general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin pointed out that Invest NI had not yet subjected its recently published ten-year corporate plan to an equality impact assessment, on the grounds that the strategy was “too high-level”.

Other key British government agencies, such as the Strategic Investment Board, are using similar excuses to circumvent public equality duties.

Serious questions have also been raised about the failure by Invest NI to tackle social need by proactively targeting investment.

In April, government statistics demonstrated that the financial assistance provided by Invest NI to the parliamentary constituency of Belfast South in 2003-04 exceeded the combined total provided to the five Border constituencies of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Foyle, Newry and Armagh, South Down, and West Tyrone during the same period.

Moreover, the constituency of Belfast West received the lowest number of “assistance offers” from Invest NI in the three years between 2001 and 2004. While Belfast South received 268 “assistance offers” from Invest NI in the single year 2003-04, Belfast West received just 178 similar offers in the 2001-04 period.

Three weeks ago, the British government’s own official deprivation statistics revealed that Belfast West has the highest proportion of deprived people of any Northern constituency. Belfast North, Foyle, and West Tyrone were other areas with some of the highest proportions of deprived citizens.

In recent months, Invest NI has sponsored separate flagship investment deals of £25 million (€37 million) in Shorts Bombardier in east Belfast and £2 million (€3 million) in the Old Bushmills Distillery in north Antrim, at an approximate cost of £100,000 per job.

According to Equality Commission statistics for 2003, Shorts Bombardier has 6,236 employees, of whom 14.8 per cent are Catholic. The Old Bushmills Distillery has 129 employees, of whom 13.3 per cent are Catholic.

At the end of May, the Northern Ireland Prison Service, found itself under scrutiny over compositional trends that the Northern Ireland Office admits are unlikely to change in the coming years.

It was revealed that less than nine per cent of the 2,000-strong workforce are Catholic. Responding to questions from the SDLP MP Eddie McGrady, direct-rule minister Shaun Woodward said: “It is not at this stage practicable to determine when the composition of the service will fully reflect the wider population”.

In May, Daily Ireland revealed that the British government ban on Irish citizens gaining employment in the North’s senior civil service was unlikely to be lifted for at least another 12 months.

This ban on Irish citizens contributes to the ongoing compositional imbalance of the Northern Ireland Office and senior civil service. At present, just one in four employees in the NIO and in the senior civil service is Catholic.

Based on recruitment trends over 30 years, the senior civil service will not achieve communal parity until 2057.

While hard-won changes have been engineered to ease the historic levels of discrimination and inequality in the North, the reality of recent months demonstrates that personalised discrimination, public unfairness and political bias remain unresolved issues within state structures.

Perhaps the most simple yet glaring example of this is that the Catholic population remains at least twice as likely as the Protestant population to be unemployed. The British government gave a clear commitment in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to address this disparity rapidly.

However, just two weeks ago, Daily Ireland revealed that this precise imbalance continued, notwithstanding the wider drop in unemployment. The British government has manifestly failed to fulfil its Good Friday Agreement commitment on this issue.

Based on the latest available Labour Force Survey statistics between winter 2003-04 and autumn 2004, Catholic women are 3.5 times more likely to be unemployed than Protestant women, and Catholic men are 1.7 times more likely to be unemployed than Protestant men.

Daily Ireland has established that senior Irish government officials with direct responsibility for handling North-South matters had failed to request these basic statistics from the British government prior to their publication by this newspaper.

Perhaps that failing explains Dermot Ahern’s public claims that discrimination in the North “has disappeared”.

What it does not explain is why discrimination and inequality in the North continue to be serious and unresolved aspects of the Good Friday Agreement’s unfinished equality agenda.

Of course, in any colonial society, the indigenous population are always treated as second-class citizens which is why Catholics will continue to be victims of discrimination as long as the Six Counties remain under British rule.

SDLP member warns of 'apartheid' danger in the north of Ireland

BBC News:

Northern Ireland is in danger of becoming an "apartheid society", MPs have been told.

The comment was made by the SDLP MP for South Belfast, Alasdair McDonnell, in his maiden speech in Parliament.

Dr McDonnell claimed the "parties of division" were jeopardising the goal of peace and justice which was "closer than ever".

"If the parties of division have their way we will all live in single community ghettoes," he said.

"I assure this house that the SDLP will stand up to those who would seek to establish such an apartheid society."

Of course, what the SDLP has always failed to understand is that the Six Counties already has its own form of apartheid where the British colonists (the Protestant unionists) rule over the indigenous Irish (the Catholic nationalists).

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sinn Féin support rises in latest poll

George Burns:

Sinn Féin seem to have ridden out the storm over the McCartney murder and the Northern job in the Irish Republic with the party's support up two points to 11% in the latest (subs needed) opinion poll commissioned by the Irish Times. Personal satisfaction with party leader Gerry Adams is also on the rise, up eight points to 38%. The poll also shows a big swing in support away from the Government towards the alternative Rainbow coalition.

Of course, the fact that the British were never able to produce any evidence connecting the IRA to the Northern Bank raid plus the fact that the IRA gave the McCartneys the names of their brother's killers has undoubtedly helped Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams to regain support.

Asylum seekers bring jobs boost to Scotland

BBC News:

Asylum seekers have generated a jobs windfall for Glasgow, according to a report by economists.

Some 5,000 people are housed in the city, supported by almost £40m in Home Office benefits each year.

Much of this money is spent locally on basic goods and services and experts at the Fraser of Allander Institute have looked at the impact.

They estimate that it has created nearly 500 jobs and £10m worth of wages, mostly for Glasgow.

The report was carried out for the local government body Cosla.

It also suggests that asylum seekers are well placed to help plug Scotland's population shortfall because they tend to be educated and under 34.

Cosla said it hoped that the findings would encourage other councils to welcome asylum seeker populations.

Of course, relocating the British colonists in the north of Ireland to Scotland would probably also benefit the Scottish economy.

Bradley 'stopped officer murder'

BBC News:

The vice chairman of the Policing Board has revealed he stopped the IRA from killing a policeman in Londonderry during the Troubles.

Denis Bradley said he did so at the request of the local RUC commander at the time, the late Frank Lagan.

Mr Bradley said he was contacted by Mr Lagan to get the attack called off as he feared Special Branch was going to sacrifice the officer's life.

He said he persuaded the IRA to call it off just before it was to happen.

"He (Mr Lagan) had got information that the Special Branch knew of an operation that the IRA were about to do and the Special Branch were going to let it go ahead even though it would have involved one of their own officers being killed," Mr Bradley said.

"He asked me to go and stop it, about an hour before it happened if I could get in touch with somebody to stop it.

"He said to me: 'This is crazy if we let this kind of stuff go on'."

Mr Bradley, a former priest, was involved in community and mediation work in Derry for many years.

He has been the target of threats and attacks by dissident republicans since taking his position on the Policing Board.

Pity that Bradley never did anything to stop the RUC from helping British loyalists to murder members of the indigenous Irish Catholic population of the Six Counties.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Irish becomes an official EU language

BBC News:

The Irish language has been officially recognised as a working language by the European Union.

Ireland's national language is the 21st to be given such recognition by the EU and previously had the status of a treaty language.

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said he was pleased by the move, which was announced on Monday.

"This affirms at European level the dignity and status of our first official language," he said.

"This represents a particularly significant practical step for the Irish language, and complements the government's wider policy of strong support for the language at home."

In the country's 2002 census, 1.4 million of the four million population said they had "an ability" to speak Irish.

More than a quarter of those said they spoke it on a daily basis.

There are a number of Gaeltacht areas in Ireland, where Irish is spoken by more than 80% of people.

The Gaeltacht encompasses the most westerly parts of counties Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry and Mayo and their nearby islands.

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun said the EU's recognition was a "victory for campaigners from all over Ireland and further afield who continue to campaign for equality for the language".

"As an Irish speaker, I am obviously delighted that the Irish language has been accorded the status of an official working language of the EU," she said.

"Sinn Fein has made the recognition of the Irish language at EU level a party priority and has campaigned long and hard with other Irish speakers and Irish language organisations."

EU Elevates Irish to Official Language

Irish to become official EU language

McCartney friend in court


Glengormley man Brendan Devine who was stabbed in a Belfast bar along with Robert McCartney appeared in court on Tuesday in connection with a stolen vehicle.

Devine of Mayfield Village was charged with receiving stolen goods (a Mercedes four wheel drive) on August 3, 2003.

Charges of using a fraudulent tax disc, fraudulent registration mark, no test certificate and no insurance on the same date were also included.

The case was adjourned until June 21.

Devine is also awaiting sentencing for his part in an armed robbery in South Belfast last year.

In January this year Devine, John Connolly O’Connor and William Evans pleaded guilty to robbing a Cashco employee and taking a cash-box valued at £1,800. The boxes usually contain about £25,000.

Devine is also due to make another appearance before judges in the summer. This relates to an incident in November 2003 when a pub bouncer was stabbed.

He has been charged with unlawfully and maliciously wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm.

A second man Hugh ‘Applegoat’ McCormick, from Carryduff, has also been charged with offences linked to the attack.

McCormick is the brother of James ‘Dim’ McCormick who has been charged with attempting to murder Devine during the pub brawl, which resulted in the death of Robert McCartney.

Devine will be one of the witnesses who will testify against those accused of attempted murder on himself and the murder of Robert McCartney.

Of course, the mainstream media will ignore this because it hurts the image that they have created of Robert McCartney being a saint.

Catholics targeted in Derry

Brendan Anderson:

Catholics targeted in fire-bomb attacks were singled out because they were Sinn Fein supporters, a senior police officer has confirmed.

Loyalist paramilitaries in north Derry used electoral records to identify two families whose members had nominated and seconded Sinn Fein candidates in the recent local government elections.

In one attack, a family escaped injury when a Molotov cocktail-type bomb failed to ignite after being thrown at their home in Coleraine. At the same time in a nearby street, a similar device was used to destroy an automobile parked outside another family’s home.

Sinn Fein councilor Billy Leonard said Loyalists had been circulating a leaflet bearing information on people who had signed electoral documents for his party’s candidates in the area.

“There have appeared around that area posters with reference to people who proposed and seconded Sinn Fein election candidates in the recent Westminster and local government elections,” he said.

Leonard said Unionist politicians “who claimed to be democrats” must call for a halt to attacks on Nationalists in the Coleraine area.

“Theses are outrageous attacks. There is a clear attempt to try to target and intimidate Nationalists because of the surge in Nationalist confidence and support for Sinn Fein,” he said.

“Unionist political and community leaders have a responsibility to challenge attitudes that try to make attacks on Nationalists in any way acceptable, because they are not.”

Acting Chief Inspector Eric Chambers, the police officer in charge of the investigation, confirmed a link between the names on the list and the families targeted. He said both families had lived in the area for up to 30 years.

“Some of the family members targeted were in their sixties. We are treating these incidents as sectarian and condemn these attacks on totally innocent people,” he said.

“It is very fortunate that no one was seriously injured and that there was no extensive damage to property. We are quite worried about this development as it has come out of the blue. We are stepping up patrols to make sure it does not happen again.”

Just one more reason why it would be foolish for the IRA to disband while British loyalists are engaged in violence against the indigenous Irish population of the Six Counties.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Irish employment up by 3.9%

Ireland Online:

The number of people in employment in Ireland rose by 72,400 in a year, the highest level of annual growth since 2000, figures showed today.

The annual growth of 3.9% in the first quarter of 2005 brings the number of people in work to 1,908,300, figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed.

There was a slight drop in unemployment of 1,500 over the year, bringing the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate down to 4.2%, compared with 4.4% for the last quarter.

Jobs growth accelerates, figures show

Employment up 72,400 in 12 months

Job growth hits highest level in 4 years

Loyalist attacks threatened against immigrant workers in Ballymena

Ireland Online:

The PSNI are warning that loyalists are planning a wave of attacks against migrant workers in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

Police believe paramilitaries are plotting arson and criminal damage attacks on homes and vehicles belonging to ethnic minorities.

Loyalist youths are increasingly targeting migrant workers in areas where the non-nationals are moving to take up jobs that local people will not do.

The police commander in Ballymena, Superintendent Terry Shevlin, said patrols in the area have been stepped up as a result of the threats.

Police have contacted the main employers of migrant workers and an ethnic liaison group in the town to make them aware of the possibility of attacks.

The town has an ethnic minority population of about 700 and there were 52 such attacks reported to the police in 2004-2005, including intimidation, assault and criminal damage.

North hate crimes up; riots mar weekend

Police issue alert on race hate blitz

Kids' team in talks after thugs attack bus

Stone-Throwers Target Mass

Racist and Gay Crimes Soar

Sectarian attacks now a daily danger in the north of Ireland

Anne Cadwallader:

Figures recorded by police in Northern Ireland for the first time show that sectarian attacks are taking place at an average of two a day, and the true figure may be far higher.

From last September to March 2005, a total of 339 sectarian incidents were reported to police. If the figures are broken down, 172 were recorded from October to December 2004, and 163 for the first three months of this year.

The figures for sectarian incidents, already high, could get worse as the zenith of the loyalist summer marching season approaches.

Despite decades of conflict, police have only started compiling a formal record of all sectarian incidents.

They can range from taunts, abuse, assaults and bomb attacks on both sides of the community.

The PSNI said the number of charges brought in relation to the sectarian incidents was not available. The "clearance" rate for such crimes remains low, even dropping by one per cent over the year to just 15. percent.

Two observers warn the latest figures were only the tip of the iceberg. Paul O'Connor of the Pat Finucane Center said: "It is shocking that the reported level is so high but the reality is the actual level remains even higher as so much goes unreported."

UUP Policing Board member Fred Cobain commented: "We haven't even scratched the surface of sectarianism yet, nor are we tackling it in any strategic way."

Meanwhile, Diane Hamill, sister of murdered Catholic Robert Hamill, has urged police to co-operate fully with a major public inquiry into his killing by a sectarian mob. The 25-year-old victim was beaten by frenzied loyalists yards from an RUC patrol.

The tribunal will examine allegations that police officers ignored the attack in Portadown, Co. Armagh eight years ago, and if detectives failed to carry out a proper investigation by carrying out arrests and securing the scene of crime.

After the opening session, Hamill told how her family had put their trust in the inquiry, stressing that witnesses need to reveal everything they know.

"We would especially like to appeal to any police officers, serving or retired, who have information about that night", she said.

If they had information on the "botched police investigation", she said, they should "come forward, examine your conscience and do the right thing. We just want to know why Robert was allowed to be murdered within feet of four fully armed RUC officers."

The inquiry team disclosed that they have already secretly scoured Portadown and also plan to examine the police Land Rover used by the patrol under suspicion.

Chairman Sir Edwin Jowitt said the probe will try to establish if police could have done more to prevent the father of three's death.

Evidence will be studied to assess whether any failure or omission on the part of officers to halt the attack, identify the killers or properly investigate the murder, was deliberate or negligent, the retired High Court judge said.

"We are very conscious of the many emotions to which the death of Robert Hamill has given rise and we repeat that our over-riding concern in this inquiry will be to do all we can to ascertain where the truth lies concerning the issues raised by our terms of reference," Jowitt said.

Hamill was set upon by loyalists as he walked home from a night out in his native Portadown. He died in hospital 11 days later, never regaining consciousness. Six men were accused of the murder, but charges were dropped against five. The sixth was acquitted of murder and sentenced to four years for affray.

Report cites blind eye to loyalist marchers

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bombers targeted families for Sinn Fein support

Deborah McAleese:

Police today said that two Coleraine families were targeted by petrol bombers last night because they had supported Sinn Fein in the recent elections.

Acting Chief Inspector Eric Chambers said that the names of people living in the two homes in Harpur's Hill are on a list which has been circulated throughout the estate.

It is thought the list names people who nominated Sinn Fein candidates in the recent council and Westminster elections.

Acting Chief Inspector Chambers added that police patrols are to be stepped up on the estate in an effort to prevent future attacks on others named on the list.

Fire crews and police officers were called to Blackthorn Court in the Harpur's Hill area shortly before midnight after a petrol bomb was thrown at a car.

Scorch damage was caused to the rear of the vehicle.

A few minutes later police were alerted to an incident at nearby Quickthorn Place in which a petrol bomb was thrown at a house but failed to ignite.

The householder heard a bang and discovered a bottle filled with a flammable substance had been thrown at the property.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that police believe the incidents are linked.

Sinn Fein Supporters Alerted after Petrol Bomb Attacks

'Names Circulated' after Petrol Bomb Attacks

Gasoline Bombers Target Sinn Fein Homes

Monday, June 06, 2005

DUP ‘did a deal’ with SDLP

Ciarán Barnes:

A former SDLP mayor of Belfast has claimed his party struck a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to ensure every other party on Belfast City Council is excluded from holding the position of lord mayor until 2007.

Martin Morgan’s comments came just days after the DUP’s Wallace Browne was elected to serve as Belfast’s new lord mayor.

Mr Browne needed the support of the SDLP’s eight City Hall councillors to secure the top civic post.

This was the first time in the SDLP’s history that it had supported a DUP candidate for mayor. In return, the DUP backed the SDLP’s Pat Convery for deputy mayor.

Mr Morgan predicted that the DUP will support a bid by SDLP councillors Carmel Hanna or Pat McCarthy to become lord mayor of Belfast during the 2006-07 council term.

He said: “Last week saw politics in City Hall take yet another strange political turn.

“The SDLP supported the DUP’s Wallace Browne in becoming lord mayor of Belfast and, in turn, the ever tolerant, inclusive and forward-thinking and looking DUP supped with the SDLP and made Pat Convery Deputy Dawg.

“I will make this prediction. Either my old friend Pat McCarthy or Carmel Hanna MLA, councillor and former minister, will become the future SDLP lord mayor.”

Mr Morgan added: “It will be interesting if the deal between the DUP and the SDLP for the two largest gold chains in Belfast will see them further co-operate on matters that really count.”

Speaking to Daily Ireland yesterday, Mrs Hanna said there had been “no agreement” with the DUP but admitted she was happy that the city’s two top civic positions were now held by a unionist and nationalist.

The SDLP’s denial of a deal failed to convince Sinn Féin.

West Belfast councillor Tom Hartley said: “Martin Morgan’s comments confirm our suspicions that the SDLP did a deal with the DUP to secure the top positions on a number of councils in the greater Belfast area.

“When you look at how council positions have been spread around the SDLP and DUP in Lisburn and Castlereagh, it suggests the agreement was not only confined to Belfast.”

Once again, the SDLP proves themselves to be pro-British traitors. I wonder how the Nationalists who foolishly voted for them in the elections feel today?

Plain mayhem and mischief

Belfast City Council round-up – Four years of checkmate?

Priest slams Collins’ claim

Ciarán Barnes:

A Belfast priest has accused a prominent former British army commander of putting the lives of his parishioners in danger.

Ardoyne priest Fr Aidan Troy was speaking after Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins had claimed in his new book, Rules of Engagement, that community representatives in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast were “Provisional IRA to a man”.

Colonel Collins, who commanded British troops during the Iraq war in 2003, made his comments in reference to the 2001 Holy Cross dispute.

Hundreds of loyalists from the Protestant Glenbryn estate protested for six weeks along the Catholic primary pupils’ route to school, shouting sectarian abuse at the girls and their parents.

Loyalist paramilitaries also threw a blast bomb and other missiles at the pupils.

During every day of the protest, Fr Troy accompanied the children, aged between five and 11, on their walk to and from school. The dispute ended after a series of meetings between Ardoyne community representatives and loyalist leaders.

Fr Troy told Daily Ireland yesterday the soldier’s comments were “highly dangerous”.

He said: “If I made comments like that about the protesters from Glenbryn, I would have to take responsibility if something happened to them.

“Throughout the Holy Cross dispute, I was careful not to label people.

“The situation wasn’t about politics or paramilitarism. It was about the rights of children to attend school. Anyone who misses that point has no understanding of Holy Cross.”

Martin Morgan, a former Belfast mayor and SDLP councillor for the Ardoyne area at the time of the Holy Cross protests, said of Colonel Collins’ comments: “I am very angry but not surprised. A perception exists among people like Colonel Collins that anyone who stands up and demands civil rights for nationalists is in the IRA.

“But how dare he insinuate that so publicly about the people of Ardoyne.”

Although Colonel Collins is critical of Ardoyne community workers, he does pay tribute to Fr Troy’s ability to break through institutional sectarianism.

He also refers to how members of the British army sent into Ardoyne at the time had connections to loyalist paramilitary organisations Colonel Collins left the British army last year. His departure was marred by claims that his units had mistreated Iraqi prisoners. The soldier was later cleared of allegations of war crimes. Colonel Collins was unavailable for comment yesterday.

His book was published this week. Another claim in it is that a rifle found by his troops during an operation in Africa had been used by British soldiers in Derry on Bloody Sunday. He said the weapon had been declared destroyed when the Saville inquiry asked where it was.

Why should anyone be surprised that a British soldier would take the side of the British colonists in the north of Ireland? Both the British Army and the British loyalists want to see a continuation of British colonialism in the Six Counties which Collins shows by his statements.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Irish fire worker wins race claim

BBC News:

Ann Neylan

An Irish woman who was told her race was "a sin" by a fire service colleague has won £3,000 in compensation.

The Royal Berkshire Fire Authority was ordered to pay the sum to Ann Neylan, 39, after it was found she had been a victim of racial discrimination.

An employment tribunal in Reading heard in March how on Comic Relief day in 2003 a worker wrote a list of fineable sins on a board in the control room.

Among the transgressions was "being Irish", punishable with a £1 fine.

Paul Bishop, a fellow fire control operator, wrote the list, leaving a donation box marked "all proceeds to Comic Relief", the tribunal heard.

The tribunal panel awarded £3,000 to Ms Neylan for "injury to feelings", to which £501 of interest will be added.

Richard Byrne, the tribunal chairman, said in a written judgment that he was "satisfied this did amount to direct discrimination".

He said: "Whilst some may take the view that the claimant was over sensitive within the context of the day and the spirit of charitable fundraising, she was the only Irish person working in the control room and the comment can only have applied to her and directly arose from her race."

Ms Neylan said she was "very pleased" with the judgment.

It is sad to see that even in the 21st century some British people still see being Irish as something to make jokes about.

Ireland has the best of both worlds in the European Union

Michael Hennigan:

Ireland heads GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita in the European Union, according to figures released on Friday June 3rd. In ranking terms Luxembourg is number 1, but its figures are distorted, as a large portion of its workforce lives in neighbouring countries.

In 2003, Ireland was the biggest per capita net beneficiary from the EU budget while the Netherlands was the biggest net payer.

Here is how Ireland has benefitted:

Ireland has massively benefited from inward US investment, by providing a low tax, business friendly non-unionised environment for primarily American firms. At the same time Dutch and German taxpayers are funding our farmers who are effectively depending on public welfare for two-thirds of their income.

So while the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Mary Harney can brag that Ireland is closer to Boston and Berlin, we have been lucky so far that the taxpayers in Berlin haven't reacted to our continued cash benefits from the EU treasure trove.

The Dutch taxpayers are at last waking up to a reality that they are the highest per capita contributors to the EU budget while Ireland is the highest net beneficiary.

Earlier this month, the European Commission issued an analysis of the 2003 budget. In absolute terms, most of the funds went to recipients in Spain, France, Italy and Germany. However, on the basis of national income, Portugal and Greece were the main recipients, followed by Ireland and Spain. Among net recipients, the net balance – the difference between payments into the EU budget and returns in the form of operational expenditure – was highest for Portugal (2.66% of GNI-Gross National Income). Among net contributors, the balance was highest for the Netherlands (-0.43% of GNI), followed by Germany and Sweden.

Only four countries benefited from EU money in 2003- Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Spain - while the rest were net contributors. In terms of cash per head, the funding amounted to a net receipt of €391.70 for each Irish national. At the other of the scale, Dutch, Luxembourg and German nationals pay €120, €125 and €92.7 respectively, while each Briton pays €46.50.

EU unemployment stable at 8.9%: Ireland lowest at 4.2%

Bloody Sunday rifle found in Africa

Brian Hutton:

Shocking claims by former Army leader Tim Collins that his troops recovered a rifle in Africa that had been used on Bloody Sunday but was declared destroyed by the Ministry of Defence a year earlier, drew calls today for a full investigation of the matter.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was one of the 13 civilians shot dead by the Parachute Regiment on the day, was extremely startled to learn of the revelations when contacted by the Belfast Telegraph.

Massive questions have been raised about the Ministry of Defence's participation in the Saville Inquiry in light of the claims, according to Mr Kelly.

In his just published book, Rules of Engagement, Belfast-born Colonel Collins tells how his troops recovered the rifle from a terrorist group in Sierra Leone in September 2000.

The SLR was one of two weapons the Army "deactivated as souvenirs" of their ambush operation.

In a footnote to the incident he says: "The rifles were old British Army self-loading rifles.

"It was only when they were back to the UK that it was discovered from the serial numbers that one of the rifles was actually an old 1 Para rifle.

"It was used on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972 when 13 protesters had been shot - and it had been declared destroyed when the Saville Inquiry into the shootings had asked for it."

The Saville Inquiry in 1999 was told that 14 rifles of the 29 originally presented to the original Widgery Inquiry into Bloody Sunday, had been destroyed, while 10 had been sold.

Colonel Collins, who was cleared of war crimes allegations two years ago, made headlines for his rousing speech to the Royal Irish Regiment before they entered into battle in Iraq in 2003.

The 44-year-old drew praise from Prince Charles and President George W Bush, who was believed to have requested a copy of the speech for the wall of the Oval Office.

John Kelly has called for the Saville Inquiry, which is currently preparing its final report, to confront the MoD about the claims.

"If this is one of the rifles used in Bloody Sunday then it is vital evidence. It could be one of the murder weapons," he said.

"Are the MoD lying? Somebody is lying.

"If Tim Collins has proof of this then he should make himself available to the inquiry," he said.

A man to rally the unionist troops

Call For Collins To Face Saville

Bloody Sunday gun 'found in Africa'

War: Rules of Engagement by Tim Collins

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Sinn Fein made most money in political donations last year

Ireland OnLine:

Sinn Féin declared more money in political donations last year than any other party in the State, according to figures published today by the Standards in Public Office Commission.

The party declared more than €88,500 in donations for 2004, more than double the amount declared by Fianna Fáil (€43,500).

However, while the bulk of Sinn Féin’s money came from its own public representatives, most of Fianna Fáil’s came from private business.

Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Progressive Democrats declared no donations to the Standards in Public Office Commission, while the Greens declared €36,000.

Under the law, political parties can only accept a maximum of around €6,350 from individual donors in a single year and must declare all donations exceeding €5,079.

Interesting to see that Sinn Fein members believe in financially supporting their own party unlike Fianna Fail which apparently believes in selling out to private business.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Indigenous Irish still getting a raw deal in the north of Ireland

Derry Journal:

Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin says new figures highlighting the inequality suffered by nationalists are completely unacceptable.

The Foyle MLA said: "Yet again we have evidence that Catholic women are three-andahalf times and Catholic men are twice as likely to be unemployed than their Protestant counterparts.

"It is significant, and an indication of the nature of the state in the North of Ireland, that we have been consistently grappling with the issue of Catholic/nationalist disadvantage.

"The multitude of laws, reports and recommendations going back more than eighty years have all purportedly addressed this issue. Yet the outcomes show the problem of discrimination against the Irish nationalist community in the North of Ireland has not gone away."

Mr. McLaughlin says that, across every socioeconomic indicator of deprivation, nationalists fare much worse and the gap is increasing.

A long, hard road to real equality

Unionist's claim of inequality is refuted