Thursday, July 28, 2005

Irish economy may be growing at 6.7%: O'Leary


A top economist says the economy may be doing even better than official figures suggest.

Dermot O'Leary of Goodbody Stockbrokers was commenting on new figures from the CSO this morning showing Q1 growth of GNP at 3.9pc year on year and growth of 2.4pc in GDP.

"A less volatile gauge of economic activity in Ireland is domestic demand , which is the sum of consumption, investment and government spending, as it excludes the volatile trade and factor income flow estimates." says O'Leary.

"We estimate that this measure of activity grew by 6.7pc year on year in Q1."

He adds: "Within the growth components for the first quarter, real consumption growth reached an impressive 5.8pc year on year, its highest rate of growth since Q4 2001, supporting the conjecture that consumers have rid themselves of the spending restraint witnessed over the past three years.

"While retail sales in the first two months of Q2 have seen some slowdown, we are convinced that a healthy spending appetite will be maintained over the course of the year.

"Investment also made a strong contribution to growth in Q1, increasing by 10.0 pc year on year.

"While residential building is only expected to make a modest contribution to growth in 2005, +1.0 pc year on year in Q1 on tentative early estimates according to the CSO, other areas of investment are expected to take over the slack.

"The Q1 estimates bode well for this, with machinery and transport equipment purchases ahead by 23.0pc year on year.

"A disappointing performance from the export sector contributed to the subtraction from growth in the first quarter. Exports fell by 1.0pc year on year, while imports increased by 4.2pc year on year."

This morning's figures from the CSO are its National Accounts data for Q1 2005, coupled with revisions to the series stretching back to 1997, taking account of the introduction of a "chain-linked methodology" for Ireland.

"With regard to the revisions to previous years," says O'Leary, "the data suggest that Ireland's transition from its hyper growth period to more sustainable levels of expansion was even more impressive than originally suspected.

"As a result of changes in the estimates for net factor flows in the respective years, GDP is estimated to have grown by 4.4pc in 2003, relative to an original estimate of 3.7pc.

"Furthermore, GNP growth for the same year was significantly revised from 2.8pc to 5.1pc. As a result, estimates for last year's growth rates were revised downwards.

"Within the growth components for the first quarter, real consumption growth reached an impressive 5.8pc year on year, its highest rate of growth since Q4 2001, supporting the conjecture that consumers have rid themselves of the spending restraint witnessed over the past three years.

"While retail sales in the first two months of Q2 have seen some slowdown, we are convinced that a healthy spending appetite will be maintained over the course of the year.

Economy to grow by 5.25pc: Central Bank

Central Bank predicts economy to grow by 5.25%

Economy performing strongly, figures show

Annual GDP increased by 4.5% in 2004

Armed and dangerous

Jarlath Kearney:

Official statistics obtained by Daily Ireland have thrown a new spotlight onto the failure of unionist paramilitary organisations to decommission.

It can be revealed that in the six years after the Good Friday Agreement, approximately 529 illegal firearms were discovered in mainly unionist parliamentary constituencies across the North.

Human rights organisations estimate that more than 700 grenade and pipe bomb attacks were launched against Catholic and nationalist homes during the same period, from 1998 to 2004.

In the context of the role played by British intelligence and RUC/PSNI Special Branch in managing key loyalist agents, the new statistics demonstrate the frightening extent of illegal weaponry in the hands of the unionist community.

Today’s news emerged as speculation mounted that the IRA is considering an unprecedented fourth act of putting weapons beyond use in the near future.

Under the terms of the 1998 Agreement, acts of decommissioning should comply with arrangements agreed between the relevant paramilitary organisation and General John de Chastelain’s Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IOCD).

Only one minor act of decommissioning by loyalist paramilitaries has ever been carried out. In what was widely regarded as a publicity stunt, the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) publicly destroyed a number of old guns in the presence of General de Chastelain on December 18, 1998.

In recent weeks, loyalist paramilitaries have murdered two Protestant men, exploded blast bombs in unionist areas and attacks on nationalist homes and issued death threats against prominent republicans.

Automatic weapons were also fired publicly at July 12 bonfires in unionist areas, accompanied by statements of intent to commit further violence.

Earlier this week, the PSNI and British army caused outrage by passively observing as scores of hooded UVF members gathered at Garnerville in east Belfast. The UVF had earlier escalated its feud with the rival LVF by intimidating a number of families from their homes on Sunday night.

In the late 1980s, a massive haul of South African weapons was brought into the North under the direction of British agent Brian Nelson. The haul was divided into three sections, for the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Resistance respectively.

Ulster Resistance was formed with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in November 1986, but none of the organisation’s illegal South African weapons has ever been recovered.

According to the latest official statistics, Belfast North, East Antrim and Lagan Valley were the constituencies where the highest proportion of illegal firearms was found. The firearms found in the these areas account for approximately 32 per cent of all illegal weapons recovered – approximately 230 out of 711.

In total, approximately 124 illegal firearms were recovered in the Border nationalist constituencies of Foyle, West Tyrone, Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Newry and Armagh, and South Down. Approximately 13 illegal firearms were found in Mid-Ulster between 1998 and 2004.

Daily Ireland’s figures are based on official PSNI statistics which indicate that 711 illegal firearms were recovered across the North between 1998 and 2004. Local district-level information has been surveyed by reference to parliamentary constituencies. This analysis concluded that approximately 74 per cent of all illegal firearms recovered between 1998 and 2004 was found in unionist parliamentary constituencies.

PSNI rediscovers blind eye routine

The sight of scores of hooded men with scarves pulled up around their faces is guaranteed to send a shiver of trepidation up the spine of everyone confronted with such a spectacle, even if they are assured this self-appointed mob of vigilantes is there to ‘clean up their estate’.

Unfortunately for many people in the North of the country, such a sight has been all too common over the past 30 or so years.

That same intimidating sight was seen again out on the streets in Belfast yesterday, going about the business of terrorising perceived opponents out of their homes.

The UVF decided it was going to flex its muscles and sent hundreds of members and supporters to remove several allegedly Loyalist Volunteer Force-connected families from the Garnerville Estate in east Belfast, ironically, almost overlooked by the main PSNI training college.

There was also a bomb attack on a house and a taxi depot was burned out in the city.

Both these attacks and the lynch-mob action were euphemistically blamed on ‘current tensions within loyalism’ by the PSNI, a phrase which reduces the real brutality and murderous intent of the current paramilitary feud to a bit of a family dispute.

The most chilling aspect of the mob-rule display was that it was carried out while dozens of police and British soldiers looked on and didn’t even try to interfere, but appeared to be almost supervising what was going on, by ensuring that the UVF carried out its action with the minimum amount of fuss.

It’s hard to see the same approach being taken if a couple of hundred masked IRA men turned up to tell someone to get out of Dodge and spent the day having the equivalent of a paramilitary jamboree and points to the broader inequality of treatment of nationalists and republicans generally.

A PSNI spokesman implied that there was nothing to be done, because no one involved or any residents from the estate had made a complaint.

The attitude and actions of the PSNI and British Army yesterday stand in marked contrast to their actions in Ardoyne on July 12, but should come as no surprise to the nationalist community which has bitter past experience of the so-called security forces protecting and even assisting loyalist mobs as they burned people out of their homes.

The fact that the PSNI so blatantly turned a blind eye to such activity in broad daylight is not only supremely galling but a stark warning to the nationalist community to be on its guard.

Just hours after yesterday’s events, threats from loyalists were issued against republicans. This is another common denominator in loyalist feuds, which are usually resolved by the sectarian bigots defusing the ‘tensions within loyalism’ through attacking innocent nationalists, as far too many still grieving families know only too well.

EDITORIAL: Unionist hypocrisy

As we await the expected IRA response this week to Gerry Adams’ call on the organisation to take a peaceful and democratic path, it seems a wonder that the IRA is still even considering such a move, given the dizzying upsurge in loyalist violence and – just as worryingly – the official response to it.

In our paper today we draw a frightening picture of the amount of illegal arms sloshing around in unionist districts. Add to that deadly arsenal the vast stockpiles of legally-held weapons and large tracts of the North begin to resemble the Wild West.

Tooled-up and spoiling for a fight, loyalists go on the rampage in Belfast and Ballymena, shooting up our second city in a bitter feud over drug revenues, and doing what they do best in the north Antrim Bible Belt – putting uppity Fenians in their place by attacking their churches and gathering places.

Against that background it might be hoped that some kind of meaningful response could be mustered by unionist elected representatives who find themselves in the middle of this madness, but not a bit of it. As pools of young men’s blood flow into the gutter in Belfast, the stock unionist response is to express the vague hope that the UVF and the LVF will get together to sort out their differences before anybody else is hurt. In Ballymena, unionist politicians and the PSNI collude in the disgusting lie that the weekend attacks on churches and pubs are the result of a proposed republican parade in Ballymena next month, as if loyalists in Ballymena need any excuse to target their Catholic neighbours. What of the UVF taking over the Garnerville estate in East Belfast? Why, that only happened, we’re assured, because the PSNI isn’t doing its job right and that paramilitaries will always thrive in a policing vacuum.

The ability of unionists to see things in the round, to parse and analyse events on the street in the context of current developments, disappears when those firing the shots aren’t wearing union jack baseball caps. Even before the IRA has given its answer to Gerry Adams, even as the IRA considers a historic and decisive statement on its future, unionists have had their say and – surprise, surprise – they’re just not interested.

No talk of giving the IRA the same time and space to sort things out that unionists have given to loyalist triggermen in the latest feud, just a flat rejection of something they haven’t seen. That’s a depressing reminder of what we heard when the IRA called its first cessation – that peace is just too destabilising for unionists to consider.

This unionist Jekyll and Hyde act is nothing new – leading unionist politicians stood shoulder-to-shoulder with thugs in sunglasses when loyalist paramilitaries were slaughtering Catholics in their beds. That is a hypocrisy that unionists might justify in their own minds, but as we look forward to a positive statement from the IRA – whether it comes this week or at a later date – that hypocrisy must be seen for what it is by Dublin and London.

A little update on the current state of British colonialism in the north of Ireland.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ex-BNP chief's Derry link

Paddy McGuffin:

A former civil rights leader today expressed surprise at a revelation that the former head of the British National Party John Tyndall, was related to a former Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.

According to an obituary in a national newspaper, fascist John Tyndall was the nephew of Bishop Charles Tyndall who in 1968 criticised the Paisleyite movement, warning of the rise of "an ideological force based on invective and hatred".

Ivan Cooper, former MP and civil rights leader, said today he remembered Dr Tyndall as a moderate man who held no truck with extremism in any form.

Mr Cooper said: "I remember Dr Tyndall very well.

"He was a very progressive man with strong convictions. I was not aware that he was related to John Tyndall. The two were polar opposites, it just goes to show the contradictory nature of life and politics."

John Tyndall was an unrepentant fascist. At the time of his death last Tuesday at the age of 71 he was facing charges of incitement to racial hatred.

He was the founding figure and leader of numerous far-right groups including the National Front and the British National Party.

He died days before he was due to appear at Leeds Crown Court charged with hate crimes.

John Tyndall

A racist, violent neo-nazi to the end: BNP founder Tyndall dies

Loyalist terror in Garnerville

Jarlath Kearney:

Masked loyalists in East Belfast

Blast bombs, arson attacks, shootings, mass expulsions and death threats have collectively marked a sinister escalation in the activities of loyalist paramilitaries across the North.

The long-running loyalist feud led hundreds of Ulster Volunteer Force supporters to openly intimidate several prominent Loyalist Volunteer Force-linked families from their homes in the Garnerville area of east Belfast.

The expulsions took place on Sunday night directly opposite the PSNI training centre. Yesterday, scores of UVF supporters maintained a presence in Garnerville. PSNI and British army members did not intervene.

A house and a taxi office were targeted in separate blast-bomb and arson attacks in north Belfast on Sunday night. Those incidents followed several gun attacks over previous days.

Within hours of the expulsions, several north Belfast Catholics — including veteran Ardoyne republican Martin Meehan — received PSNI visits to advise them of imminent loyalist death threats.

Fears were growing last night that the deteriorating situation within the loyalist community will be exploited to launch attacks on republicans. In the past, similar loyalist attempts to destabilise the nationalist community have been directed by elements of the British government.

With the IRA nearing the climax of an unprecedented internal debate about future political strategies, the possibility of a loyalist attack on the nationalist community led to calls for vigilance.

Kathy Stanton, Sinn Féin assembly member for north Belfast, described the death threat against Martin Meehan as “part of a wider trend of intimidation by loyalists aimed at the nationalist community”.

“These latest threats against my party colleague from unionist paramilitaries is a sinister development,” Ms Stanton said.

“The threats against Martin Meehan reinforce the need for vigilance within the wider nationalist community in these tense summer months.

“Those who continue to coat-trail and march triumphantly through Catholic areas must also bear some responsibility for the continuing escalation of sectarian tensions,” Ms Stanton said.

Republicans also highlighted the “historic tolerance” of loyalist activity by the PSNI, British army and unionist politicians.

Ms Stanton said: “The sight of hundreds of UVF members pictured mingling with the PSNI and British army after forcing members of a rival gang from their homes in east Belfast is just the latest episode in this ongoing saga.

“The behaviour of the PSNI in Garnerville today contrasts sharply with their attitude towards nationalist residents in Ardoyne on July 12.”

Martin Meehan, whose family has been repeatedly targeted by loyalist paramilitaries, last night hit out at the PSNI for refusing to provide details of the group that was threatening him.

“I am contacting my legal advisers about the failure of the PSNI to provide me with information about the source of the threat. Those responsible for this threat will not deter me and I will continue to robustly defend the political objectives of Sinn Féin,” Mr Meehan said.

After a meeting with secretary of state Peter Hain, south Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell said: “Just today we have seen the UVF yet again run amok in their feud with the LVF.

“It is outrageous that they feel so emboldened that they can gather and intimidate people in broad daylight. It is outrageous that, 11 years on from the ceasefires, people are expected to turn a blind eye to all of this madness.”

Henry Irvine, the PSNI district commander in east Belfast, said: “These situations, as we often say, cannot be resolved by police alone. But let me assure you my officers are on the ground and are working hard to resolve the tensions.”

Alliance seeks police assurances

Police presence at 'feud' estate

Police move in to quell Belfast loyalist dispute

UVF men patrolling east Belfast as loyalist feud deepens

Loyalist row drives out residents

Two overnight attacks linked to loyalist feud

Attacks 'linked' to loyalist feud

UDA may step into loyalist paramilitary feud

Police Step Up Patrols As Loyalist Tensions Mount

East Belfast stand-off continues

Paramilitary feud escalates

Bomb and arson attacks linked to loyalist feud

Families ordered out as loyalist feud escalates

Suspected loyalist links to Belfast attacks

Taxi depot torched in Belfast

Loyalists blamed after bar and church attacks

Just who is in charge here?

Holy Cross attack

PUP sanctions deadline to expire

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

IRA are not al-Qaeda says Blair

BBC News:

Al-Qaeda terrorism is not on the same par as the IRA, Prime Minister Tony Blair has suggested.

He said IRA political demands or their previous atrocities could not be directly compared to fundamentalists who carried out the 9/11 US attacks.

It was invidious to make comparisons because "terrorism is wrong", he said.

"I don't think you can compare the political demands of republicanism with the political demands of this terrorist ideology we're facing now," he said.

He was speaking at his weekly news conference on Tuesday

No serious person could ever negotiate on the demands of terrorists who have been using suicide bombers to kill people, said the prime minister.

"I don't think the IRA would ever have set about trying to kill 3,000 people," he said.

Finally, Blair is talking some sense. Pity he can't accept the fact that "terrorism" against the British is caused by Britain's colonial activities in places such as Iraq and the north of Ireland.

Cold blooded killings

Conor McMorrow:

The sister of murdered Tyrone man Aidan McAnespie has condemned Friday’s execution of an innocent Brazilian man in London as part of a police shoot-to-kill policy.

Aidan McAnespie was shot dead in 1988 as he walked through a British army checkpoint on his way to play Gaelic football in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone.

Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Mr McAnespie’s sister Eilish McCabe said Friday’s shooting dead of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station had brought back horrific memories of her 24-year-old brother’s murder.

“I think that what happened in London just shows what a shoot-to-kill policy is all about.

“It’s very hard for us to see this happening in London because it brings back bad memories of Aidan being shot. A policy like this only incites fear into people,” she said.

Eyewitnesses to last Friday’s shooting said armed police officers in civilian clothes had shot Mr de Menezes five times after he tripped and was pushed to the floor of a train.

Witness Mark Whitby said that the Brazilian man had looked “like a cornered rabbit” and “absolutely petrified” before he was shot dead.

Ian Blair, the commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, yesterday admitted that armed officers were following a shoot-to-kill policy when tackling suicide bombers in Britain. He apologised to the family of Mr de Menezes for him being mistakenly shot dead.

Aidan McAnespie was also shot while going about his everyday life. He was shot by a Grenadier Guardsman as he innocently walked through a Border checkpoint in Aughnacloy on February 21, 1988, on his way to the local GAA pitch.

Speaking about Friday’s shooting and the subsequent police apology, Mrs McCabe added:

“I’m sure that the man’s family will not be shown the full facts surrounding his death and the police won’t be fully accountable.

“An apology is not much good for the family when that man had five shots fired into his body while he was lying on the ground.

“While that man’s family got an apology straight after the event, we got no inquest into Aidan’s death for five years.

“When the inquest did happen, the soldiers involved were absent on leave so that was very hard for us to take.”

Mrs McCabe also drew parallels between Friday’s shooting and the SAS shooting of Mairéad Farrell, Daniel McCann and Seán Savage in Gibraltar in March 1988.

“It seems to me that the shooting dead of that man in London on Friday was very similar to the killing of the Gibraltar Three,” she added.

Mrs McCabe joins a growing list of people, including human-rights activists and politicians, to have reacted with fury to the use of a shoot-to-kill policy in London.

Irish History: The killing of Aidan McAnespie

In the Name of Safety…Or How the London Police Executed Jean Charles de Menezes

Brazilians protest shooting death in victim's hometown

Editorial: No Warnings Given By UK Police

Loyalists launch petrol bomb attack on Holy Cross church

Áine McEntee:

Parish Priest of Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne, Fr Aidan Troy, has paid tribute to the emergency services which quickly arrived on the scene after the Passionist monastery was attacked by three petrol bombs.

The monastery's roof was targeted in the attack which originated from the loyalist Woodvale Road area just after 2am on Saturday morning. Part of the roof caved in and fell on to the kitchen floor after two devices were thrown. The kitchen was smoke- and water-damaged as a result.

A third petrol bomb was thrown when the PSNI and fire crews arrived. Stones were thrown at the PSNI from Twaddell Avenue.

The PSNI said they were treating the attack as sectarian.

Last week Fr Aidan Troy came in for scathing criticism from unionist politicians for asking the British government to provide evidence to back up their reasons for revoking Sean Kelly's licence and sending the republican back to jail.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News yesterday (Sunday), the parish priest said he was reluctant to link the petrol bomb attack with his comments on Seán Kelly.

"These things happen for a whole lot of reasons. When I came here first four years ago, the monastery was set on fire. I wasn't even here 96 hours when it happened. So you can't tell what reasons lie behind terror attacks.

"I just feel saddened by it. It saddens me that we're living in an awful time of death and destruction. That girl from Waterford who died on the bus, people in Egypt, and those people who went on the London underground and never came back."

Paying tribute to the emergency services who came to the monastery's aid Fr Aidan Troy said the attack could have been much more serious.

"This could have taken hold of the building very easily, but it didn't – so it could have been a lot worse. And I'm grateful no one was hurt. The emergency services were great and I would like to pay tribute to them. It's a great shame they were attacked."

Fr Troy said the clergy in Holy Cross had received great support from their parishioners as well as other denominations in the area.

The Bishop of Down and Connor Bishop Patrick Walsh also paid the church a personal visit to see the damage for himself.

Sinn Féin North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly said there was no justification for the attack.

"Holy Cross monastery is a focal point for the local nationalist community," he said.

"It could very easily have been much worse. It is fortunate that we are not dealing with worse damage here, and indeed deaths, as a result of this petrol bomb attack."

DUP MLA for North Belfast Nelson McCausland, who had sharply criticised the parish priest for his comments on Seán Kelly, said he condemned the attack.

"I deplore the attack on the church. Over the years there have been many attacks on churches and Orange halls across Northern Ireland. All such attacks are to be deplored and are unacceptable in a civilised society."

The DUP man refused to comment on the motives for the petrol bomb attack.

"It's pointless to speculate on what factors motivated a single attack – unless one questions the person who threw the petrol bomb you don't know what's going on."

Fr Troy dismisses claim on bombing

Attack on city church 'sectarian'

Petrol bombs thrown at church

Monday, July 25, 2005

Al-Qaeda man recruited in Belfast is jailed in Algeria

Barry O'Kelly:

A man recruited by al-Qaeda in Ireland has been jailed in Algeria for running an extremist organisation.

Mohamed Meguerba, 38, who lived in Ranelagh, Dublin and married an Irish woman, was given a ten-year sentence two weeks ago.

He allegedly told interrogators in Algiers that he joined al-Qaeda following a meeting at a mosque in Belfast in 2000.

Meguerba lived in Dublin for seven years, before leaving to join a training camp run by associates of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

He was later captured by police in Algiers in 2003 and quickly supplied a detailed account of a plot to spread the deadly poison ricin on buildings in London. Ricin is a cheap, easily produced toxin for which there is no treatment or vaccine.

Meguerba's statement, allegedly extracted under torture, led to his conviction for setting up and belonging to an outlawed organisation in Algeria. The statement also identified eight people who were claimed to have been behind the poison plot. This led to a raid on a London flat in which detectives found the paraphernalia for making ricin.

One of those arrested in the raids, Kamel Bourgass, 31, was jailed for 17 years in April for conspiring to cause a public nuisance. He was also jailed for life for killing a police officer during the raid.

Detectives believe he was planning to smear the chemical, or other poisons, on the door handles of cars and buildings in the Holloway Road area of north London.

Last week, Bourgass lost an appeal against his life sentence. His lawyers had argued in the Court of Appeal sitting at Woolwich Crown Court that details about the ricin plot should not have been used in the separate murder trial.

Gardai are believed to have investigated associates of Meguerba when the 27-page statement obtained by Algerian police emerged in early 2003. The statement outlines his allegedly senior role in organising attacks in Europe. It reportedly includes details of his so-called line manager, Abu ‘The Doctor' Doha, an Algerian militant leader with links to bin Laden, and who is currently being held in prison in London.

Gardai put 200 on list of terrorists

Covert to jihad whose travels took him to bin Laden

Revealed: how secret papers led to ricin raid

Mass protests held over Seán Kelly imprisonment

Jarlath Kearney:

Hundreds of republicans protested across the North yesterday about the ongoing imprisonment of Seán Kelly at Maghaberry prison, Co Antrim.

The SDLP's refusal to support Mr Kelly's immediate release from prison was also attacked by a spokesperson for the campaign to free the north Belfast republican.

For exactly five weeks Mr Kelly has been imprisoned without trial on the direction of secretary of state Peter Hain.

Mr Kelly was summarily imprisoned in Maghaberry after being arrested by the PSNI on June 18, after his early release under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement was suspended.

A new mural calling for Mr Kelly's release was unveiled yesterday at Free Derry Corner in Derry's Bogside.

Simultaneously, scores of republicans – including prominent Sinn Féin members – picketed the headquarters of the North's Prison Service at Dundonald House in east Belfast.

Speaking from Free Derry Corner where she attended the mural launch with her children, Mr Kelly's partner Geraldine told Daily Ireland: “There is a pressing responsibility on all those concerned with natural justice to explore the real motives behind Seán’s internment. I am now calling on all individuals and groups of any influence to intervene in this case," she added.

Among those who have already expressed concern about the process behind Mr Kelly's imprisonment are Senators Martin Mansergh and Maurice Hayes, as well as Ardoyne parish priest Fr Aidan Troy.

A spokesperson for the campaign to release Mr Kelly criticised the SDLP's position on the case.

SDLP opposition to a Sinn Féin motion at Derry City Council's monthly meeting on Thursday highlighted the party's “hypocrisy", the spokesperson said.

“In not backing the Sinn Féin motion and calling for Seán's release. The SDLP are demonstrating rank hypocrisy. SDLP people have witnessed on the interface in north Belfast the calming work carried out by Seán and other ex-POWs.

“The SDLP have now formally endorsed the possibility of intelligence being used as evidence to keep someone imprisoned without trial. They have put their faith in a procedure which has no transparency despite the fact that this is contrary to their own comments that Seán's case needs to be open and transparent," the spokesperson added.

Sinn Féin assembly member for North Belfast, Cathy Stanton, said republicans were justified in protesting outside the Prison Service headquarters.

“At a recent meeting of the Policing Board the PSNI attempted to distance themselves from the internment of Seán Kelly. They indicated the involvement of the Prison Service in this unjustifiable act. Today republicans gathered outside the offices of the Prison Service to demand answers. Was the Prison Service involved in this case and, if so, why?" Ms Stanton said.

“The Prison Service here has been a tool in the armoury of the securocrats for decades. It was used to try and break the republican struggle in the H-Blocks in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It has an overwhelmingly Protestant and loyalist workforce and ethos.

“Republicans across this island are angry at the re-introduction of internment through the arrest of Sean Kelly and will not rest until he is released and the faceless people behind his arrest exposed," Ms Stanton said.

A series of whiteline pickets and leaflet drops to highlight Mr Kelly's case will take place today in the Co Down towns of Newcastle, Warrenpoint, Castlewellan and Downpatrick. Protesters will also assemble in Dundalk, Co Louth, and ahead of the Ulster GAA Final this afternoon at Croke Park in Dublin. Other events are also being scheduled in Newry and Crossmaglen.

Parties clash over Kelly release

SDLP refuse to back call for Kelly’s immediate release

Castlereagh: no charges

Cash carries more weight with IMC than teenagers’ coffins

Robin Livingstone:

The International Monitoring Commission (IMC) has decided not to bang out a stand-alone, early report on the latest loyalist feud in the way it did after the £26m robbery in Belfast last Christmas.

It seems the murder of two men and a series of shootings that makes 1930s Chicago look like Walnut Grove are not as serious as the fact that the Northern Bank doesn’t know how to look after your money.

Thrillingly, though, the IMC has said that it will be looking at the shootings in its next report, whenever they get round to it. Which is nice. It’s their job and it goes without saying of course, but it’s still nice.

When the IMC reported on the Northern Bank robbery in February, it found that the raid had been carried out by the IRA.

It added that if the Executive had been up and running it would have recommended the expulsion of Sinn Féin.

It further found that if your granny had balls she’d be your granda and that if you’re going to San Francisco you’d be well advised to wear some flowers in your hair.

Strange creature, the IMC. Its job is to ask the agents of the British state to tell it some things about the IRA that the British government already knows so that it [the IMC] can include them in a report that can betut-tutted over by the British government and its pals.

So, for example, how does the IMC know that the IRA carried out the Northern Bank raid? It knows because the PSNI Special Branch and British intelligence told them. How does it know that the IRA is continuing to target and recruit? Because some British spooks told them.

Of course, Tony and Bertie already know this information, but because it’s repeated in front of an expectant media by a handful of old codgers who would otherwise be doing a crossword or pruning the roses it takes on a whole new life.

Sitting down with spooks and asking them about the IRA is like sitting down with a dog and asking it what it thinks of cats.

When is a "terrorist" not a "terrorist"?

With the sound of explosions and gunfire echoing through the streets of London, the BBC has told its journalists that its credibility should not be undermined by “the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments”.

It points out that “the word ‘terrorist’ can be a barrier to understanding and its use should be avoided.”

Funny how they only twig when it’s not Irish bombs exploding.

I don’t know about you, but I reckon terrorist is quite a reasonable term to apply to anybody who puts a bomb in a crowded tube carriage. And aren’t people not only entitled but morally required to make a value judgment on someone who blows up a double decker bus?

It’s your ordinary decent Asian I feel sorry for because I can sort of understand what they’re going through at the minute.

I was an ‘A’ level student spending the summer working in a soft drinks plant in London (I won’t say which one – Sssch!) in London when the IRA killed Lord Mountbatten and 18 paras in August 1979.

When I went to work the next morning there wasn’t a single person in that huge factory who would look at me, never mind speak to me, even though I’d been quite the popular little Paddy up to that point.

I don’t mind admitting I was afraid – afraid to smile at anyone, afraid to say hello in case somebody hit me over the head with a bottle of soda water.

Later that day they told me I was off the production line, gave me a bucket of soapy water, a scrubbing brush and a pair of yellow Marigolds and told me to clean the stacking chairs in the canteen.

It kept the factory happy if the sneering grins were anything to go by, and it didn’t worry me much because I remember that at that time in my life I didn’t think too much of people who had baked beans with a fry in the morning.

Back home they were writing ‘13 Dead but Not Forgotten, We Got 18 and Mountbatten’ on the walls.

I contented myself with not doing a very good job on the canteen chairs.

Attacks 'linked' to loyalist feud

Shooting similar to Gibraltar IRA deaths

Shoot-to-kill policy - No lessons learned from IRA campaign

The bombings in London cannot be seen in isolation from what is happening in Iraq

Thursday, July 21, 2005

DUP criticises approval of three Irish-language schools

Ireland On-Line:

The Democratic Unionist Party has criticised a decision by the British government to approve three new Irish-language schools in the North.

Party spokesman Sammy Wilson said there was no need to create new primary schools when there were already 45,000 surplus school places.

He said the problem was part of the legacy of the Ulster Unionist Party's time in government with Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP have both accused him of using the Irish language as a political football and have insisted that parents should have the right to choose the type of education they want for their children.

Once again the DUP shows its contempt for the language and culture of the indigenous Irish people.

Heath had plan in 1972 for forcible re-partition

Joe Carroll:

The British government had contingency plans in July 1972 to re-partition Ireland and forcibly move hundreds of thousands of Catholics and Protestants in what would today be called an "ethnic cleansing" operation.

The result would have been a virtual Protestant-only "sectarian statelet", the planners admitted.

This is the most sensational revelation to come from the release of Cabinet papers in London and Dublin under the 30-year rule.

The plan, drawn up in great secrecy on the orders of the British Prime Minister, Mr Edward Heath, was "addressed to a situation in which we are on the point of losing control of events unless we take very severe action indeed".

Although the plan was never implemented, its drafting under Sir Burke Trend, Secretary to the Cabinet, showed a mood of near panic as the IRA ceasefire in July of that year broke down, followed by Bloody Friday, when the IRA set off 26 bombs in Belfast, killing 11 people and injuring 130.

The officials drawing up the plans to transfer large numbers of Catholics and Protestants to safe enclaves expressed doubts about its success which would depend on the "completely ruthless" use of force.

The papers show how relations between London and Dublin were close to breaking point following Bloody Sunday when 13 unarmed civilians were shot dead by British paratroops in Derry on January 30th. This was followed by the burning of the British embassy in Dublin. The Taoiseach, Mr Jack Lynch, in a phone call on the night of Bloody Sunday told Mr Heath that London should take over control of the army in Northern Ireland from Stormont, which he said should be replaced.

Mr Lynch said he knew a British newspaper in its report the next day would say that there had been a "massacre" and that the paratroopers had gone "beserk".

Mr Heath rejected these accusations saying that neither leader should make any judgments at this stage.

As Mr Heath prepared to suspend Stormont on March 24th and bring in direct rule, he ordered a list of "sanctions" against the Republic to be ready if Dublin did not co-operate. These included identity cards and work permits for the almost one million Irish immigrants in Britain, the freezing of Ireland's sterling balances and exchange controls.

To work the sanctions would have to be "short, sharp and painful" but an official report was dubious about their effectiveness.

Another report reveals that Dublin was allowing the British ministry of defence to operate secret radio stations on Irish territory.

Mr Heath made sure he kept Queen Elizabeth informed during this period as she was cruising on the royal yacht.

She expressed her appreciation saying: "It is hard to believe that a more complicated and intractable problem exists."

The Irish Government papers are less informative on Anglo-Irish relations but show the tensions that existed between Mr Lynch and Mr Heath as the latter continually criticised what he saw as Dublin's failure to crack down on IRA active service units operating from south of the Border.

During a visit to the Vatican, Mr Heath tried to enlist the help of Pope Paul V1 to condemn the IRA.

He also asked the Pope to put pressure on Cardinal Conway to persuade Catholic politicians in Northern Ireland to attend political talks which they were boycotting.

The Pope expressed concern about internment to the British Prime Minister, saying "world opinion" was against it.


Now you see it, now you don't

Plan for expulsion of Catholics from Ulster

Repartition plan an 'act of lunacy'

Thatcher plotted North repartition, FitzGerald claims

British 1972 Cabinet Papers reveal brutal repartition plan

An unrecognisable map of home

So close to cataclysm

Army urged to halt border security campaign

Tribute to Edward Heath is wide of the mark

Brian Feeney:

True, it's normal to pay tribute to someone who has just died. De mortuis nil nisi bonum and all that. People make an effort to emphasise the best bits. Still, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern got it completely wrong when he said "Sir Edward Heath will be remembered with particular affection in Ireland because it was he who negotiated the Sunningdale Agreement of 1974."

He'll be remembered for the Sunningdale Agreement but 'with particular affection'?

Professor Ronan Fanning was nearer the mark when he said Sir Edward's reputation had "nowhere to go but up" with regard to his dealings with Ireland.

It was during Heath's premiership 1970-74 that the critical mistakes of the seventies were made in the north – the Falls curfew, internment and Bloody Sunday.

Certainly his Labour government successors got off to a bad start in 1974 and took several wrong turns thereafter but on Heath's watch the death toll soared exponentially in 1972 to reach the highest total of any year in the Troubles, 497, of whom 259 were civilians. It was during his time that the British army made itself obnoxious to the nationalist population and the UDR was deployed in an ever-increasing role battening on the whole Catholic community.

It all happened very quickly after Heath unexpectedly won the June 1970 general election. No-one in the nationalist community at the time was under any illusion that the terms of trade with the British government had altered. Both Stormont and the British army were almost immediately allowed a much freer hand which within a month proved completely disastrous when four people were killed during the Falls Road curfew. The full weight of the security forces was thrown against the nationalist population in the next few months ignoring the much larger caches of weapons in loyalist districts. The security forces also turned a blind eye to emerging loyalist paramilitary groups, notably the UDA.

One of the reasons for this turnaround was Heath's choice of home secretary, the man who in effect ran the north before direct rule. He was Reggie Maudling who had stood against Heath for the Tory leadership and became his deputy. Maudling was clever, lazy, a sot and deeply corrupt. He was up to his neck in all kinds of illegal property deals and back-handers. He couldn't care less about the north. He it was who coined the phrase "acceptable level of violence". He hated wasting his time here. After years of interference by Labour ministers, unionists at Stormont felt the reins slacken.

Heath's managerial style of government allowed Maudling to 'get on with it'. In fact of course he did nothing. Instead, he allowed the British army and unionists to get on with it and what a mess they made. Reform, the very last thing unionists wanted, was put on hold and the problem was treated as an insurrection. As a result, violence escalated dramatically.

It was only when the toll of death and injury started to reach catastrophic levels in 1972 that Heath became personally involved in dealing with the north. Until then he had paid scant attention, even continuing yachting during the internment sweep of August 1971 despite appeals from West Belfast MP Gerry Fitt to recall Parliament. Scandalously as British prime minister he had viewed the scenes of destruction and carnage in part of the UK with equanimity. Clearly for him the north of Ireland was a place apart.

When Heath did become involved, however, there was no doubt where he laid the blame for the events of the previous two years.

Stormont unionists had had their chance. All the advice they had pressed on him had been wrong.

He took more radical action than anyone had imagined.

He involved the Irish government for the first time since 1922.

Heath broke generations of Conservative policy by ending positive support for the Union.

He declared that Irish unity was a legitimate aspiration and if "at some future date a majority of the people of Northern Ireland want unification I do not believe the British government would stand in the way". He abolished Stormont and unionists have never forgiven him just as nationalists never forgave him for internment and Bloody Sunday. 'Particular affection'? No.

Heath was direct rule architect

Northern politicians ‘will not remember Heath fondly’

Heath will always be remembered for his role in the Bloody Sunday Massacre - Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA

Heath's selective memory

Heath in Bloody Sunday shame

Ex-PM Heath holds on to Bloody Sunday secrets


Heath: Bloody Sunday set peace back 30 years

Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath gives evidence to Bloody Sunday tribunal

Britain: Military testimony indicates Bloody Sunday cover-up

Bloody Sunday - time for the truth

Heath's secret Bloody Sunday talks

Bloody Sunday probe urged to consider Heath role in ‘disaster’

Ireland News Update

Imposing Democracy on the World

The Tories wrecked peace hope

Pressure mounts for greater equality in the north of Ireland

Anne Cadwallader:

Sinn Féin has signaled its intention of stepping up pressure on the British government to deliver on the housing and jobs equality agenda of the Good Friday agreement in the absence of devolution.

A first step was a stinging critique from the party's economy spokesman, Mitchel McLaughlin, of the just released annual report of the Northern Ireland inward investment agency, Invest NI. The party also claims unfairness in the amount of public housing available to Catholics.

The report, said McLaughlin, showed "a clear imbalance" in the way resources are being targeted. "The impact west of the (River) Bann, in border areas and in North and West Belfast is especially stark because these are areas of high deprivation and unemployment."

"West Belfast received fewer offers of financial assistance than any other constituency. North and West Belfast together received less than a third of the financial assistance given to South and East Belfast for 2003/04 (£12.6 million compared to £41.5 million).

"The five border constituencies together have received less assistance than South Belfast, an area high levels of prosperity. The seven constituencies West of the Bann have received only 10 percent of assistance given.

"It is no accident that the areas that have received the lowest levels of INI financial support and investment are nationalist areas. In failing to tackle discrimination and disadvantage and simply replicating patterns of disadvantage, Invest NI is part of the problem", said McLaughlin.

In a response, a spokesman for Invest NI said it had targeted the six most income and employment-deprived council areas along with the 28 most deprived wards in Belfast. Together they covered around 30 percent of the total population.

During 2003/04, it said, it had offered these areas £68 million, representing 57 percent of the total value of offers made in that year, a much higher proportion than the share of population living in these areas.

The SDLP Western Development spokesperson, Eugene McMenamin, concurred with McLaughlin saying Invest NI was failing to deliver sufficient development and jobs to the areas of greatest social need west of the Bann.

"The whole purpose of having a development agency is to counter imbalances in the economy and direct development to where its social impact can be greatest. That is not what is happening.

"West of the Bann is caught in a vicious circle in which companies will not locate there of their own accord because of poor infrastructure, yet resources are being concentrated in the east," McMenamin said.

"Agencies like Invest NI are supposed to help us break out of that circle, but their own area investment patterns suggest they may even be reinforcing the problem. The great bulk of their investment goes east of the Bann, much of it to areas which are both comparatively wealthy", he said.

Investment skewed in Unionists' favour, say Sinn Fein

Catholic areas ‘not receiving fair share of Invest NI funds’

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Book review of Michael Hopkinson's 'The Irish War of Independence'

Chris Bambery:

The 1980s and 1990s were dominated by attempts by various academics to undermine any notion of popular mobilisation against the ruling order. Nowhere did that reach such a pitch as in Ireland. Many books and newspaper columns tried to denigrate the war fought for Ireland's independence from Britain between 1919 and 1921.

The starting point for most of these 'postmodernists' was topical and not historical. They were vehemently opposed to the Republican struggle in Northern Ireland and determined to paint Republicans as sadistic killers and 'godfathers of crime'. Yet because today's Republicans claim to stand in the tradition of the earlier IRA war for independence, these academics and journalists were forced to extend their denunciation of Republicans down the decades and many whitewashed the vicious record of British colonialism in Ireland. Things have moved on over the last decade, and there has been a fine crop of books dissecting the Republican war at the start of the last century and demonstrating how British repression and sheer bloody-mindedness fuelled support for the IRA and Sinn Fein.

Michael Hopkinson's book 'The Irish War of Independence' is a good, even-handed account of the military campaign which forced Britain to withdraw from all but the north east corner of Ireland. In particular it focuses on the two central areas of IRA military operations--Munster (and County Cork in particular) and Dublin. The latter's importance is highlighted in the book. The British failure to 'pacify' the capital city meant they were always on the back foot and gave encouragement to Irish resistance.

Hopkinson shows that the IRA did not have to militarily defeat the British security forces. Their continued and growing resistance represented a political defeat for an overstretched and overextended British Empire. Once it became clear to the British prime minister Lloyd George that his policy of repression was not working, Britain had to accept a negotiated settlement with the Republicans. Lloyd George does not come out of this book well. Until the last he was determined to use repression to defeat the IRA.

The book ends rather abruptly with the onset of the British-IRA truce and the negotiations that led to the partition of Ireland and a civil war in the new southern state. Partly this is because Hopkinson is the author of a study of that civil war. But because he only takes the story up until the signing of the treaty he does not bring home the political (and dare one say class) weaknesses of the Republican leadership which led them to a shoddy and unnecessary compromise.

Hopkinson's book is a good starting point for those wanting a good introduction to this crucial episode in the fight for Irish freedom. It is quite old fashioned, in that it concentrates on 'high politics' and the military campaign to the virtual exclusion of the popular mobilisations which gave expression to the mass support for independence that existed. Neither does it draw extensively on the increasing number of local studies of the Republican struggle which show how, in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising, subsequent British repression and the threat to extend conscription to Ireland fuelled support for the Republicans and set off a train of intensifying militancy which broke out into armed struggle in 1919.

The question of class is virtually absent as well. There was a class dynamic to the Irish independence struggle--sometimes submerged, sometimes open. The British were haunted by fears of the Republican struggle linking with the Bolsheviks in Russia and its effects on the growing opposition to its own imperial rule in Egypt and India. On the latter they were right to worry. The Irish war of independence acted as an inspiration for generations of future fighters against British imperialism. For that alone we bear those Republican fighters of eight decades ago a debt.

However, this is a book that is well worth reading and it is a welcome sign that its success in Ireland demonstrates that the pro-British, postmodernist tide has waned.

The Irish War of Independence

The Irish War of Independence By Michael Hopkinson

Troy attacked for raising Kelly case

Jarlath Kearney:

A number of vitriolic attacks were yesterday levelled against respected Belfast priest Fr Aidan Troy.

The abuse came after Fr Troy used his column in yesterday’s Daily Ireland to raise concern that the case of republican ex-prisoner, Seán Kelly, could become a miscarriage of justice.

DUP MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds claimed the respected cleric was “crass, insensitive and inappropriate” for questioning the basis of Mr Kelly’s re-imprisonment. Mr Dodds’ party colleague Nelson McCausland said Fr Troy’s position was “unbelievable”.

Last night Fr Troy said that his decision to publicly question Seán Kelly’s re-imprisonment was based on a pastoral commitment to justice and to the values of the Gospel.

Seán Kelly had his 1998 Good Friday Agreement early release licence suspended by secretary of state Peter Hain on June 18. He was arrested by the PSNI and imprisoned in Maghaberry jail, Co Antrim.

No evidence has been produced by the British government to support what republicans now refer to as Mr Kelly’s “internment”. Mr Kelly had been prominent as a steward at interface areas in north Belfast along with other republican ex-prisoners.

Writing in yesterday’s Daily Ireland, Fr Troy noted that he held a private, pastoral visit with Mr Kelly on July 6.

“At present I can say without fear of contradiction that he has not been involved in violence or law-breaking since being released on licence. The reasons for his return to prison must be shown or let him be immediately released,” Fr Troy wrote.

However, Nigel Dodds claimed he was “utterly astounded” by Fr Troy’s comments.

“People can see for themselves from pictures in the press that Seán Kelly was in the middle of rioting in North Belfast. Seán Kelly should never have been let out of jail in the first place,” Mr Dodds said.

Reacting to the personal attack, Fr Troy said that he had watched Seán Kelly during disturbances “taking people aside and saying this is not the way forward”.

“I think we need to know what sort of information returned Seán Kelly to prison. There’s a justice issue: if a person can be returned to prison without any accountability then we are all vulnerable,” Fr Troy said.

The prominent cleric said that “voices have to be raised” where justice issues are concerned. He also emphasised it was never his intention to cause offence.

In a separate development yesterday, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams personally demanded the release of Seán Kelly during a meeting with Peter Hain.

“The man should not be in prison and we made that very, very clear. To my knowledge, no one has given evidence around why the man was put in prison,” Mr Adams said.

Fr Troy calls for release of Shankill bomber Kelly

Adams reiterates call for release of Shankill bomber

Priest calls for bomber's release

SF President calls for release of Kelly

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

British colonial "peace workers" behave disgracefully in North clashes

George Jackson:

A MAGISTRATE yesterday described as a "disgrace" the actions of two voluntary workers who admitted taking part in sectarian violence in the Waterside area of Derry last Wednesday.

Magistrate Barney McElholm was told that local men Richard McCombe (34),from Bann Drive and John Thompson (39), from the Fountain, both of whom admitted a charge of disorderly behaviour, worked with the Protestant Interface Community Network, an organisation set up to prevent young Protestants becoming involved in sectarian incidents.

The men, along with co-accused Paul McGarrigle (34), from Copperthorpe, also in the Waterside, were given a four months jail sentence, suspended for two years as well as fined stg £200. McGarrigle also admitted the offence.

A PSNI inspector told the court that early last Wednesday morning, police officers patrolled the interface area between the Protestant Irish Street Estate and the Catholic Gobnascale Estate.

There a group of about 30 people emerged from Irish Street Estate and threw missiles towards the Gobnascale Estate. Several minutes later a crowd of about 30 people from Gobnascale confronted the Loyalist group.

"The rival factions faced up to each other and disturbances occurred. The police had to move in to separate them. The police officers identified the three defendants and they were arrested," he said.

A solicitor for the three co-accused said that both McCombe and Thompson worked for the Protestant Interface Community Network.

We need peace soon before lives are lost

Order’s private army strikes again

Catholic homes attacked

SF MLA calls on Dodds for Belfast meeting

Double standards applied to Irish republicans

Damien Kiberd:

Double standards are always offensive. The persistent application of double standards can bring about undesirable results.

An ex-prisoner, who happens to be a republican released under the terms of Belfast Agreement, has been reincarcerated for reasons that are still unclear. Parts of the security apparatus appear unwilling even to accept responsibility for his rearrest.

Leaks have been made to the media that Seán Kelly has been banged up because he had reinvolved himself in activities that run contrary to the terms of the Agreement.

Republicans say that the prisoner was involved in nothing of the sort and that, in fact, he was seeking to maintain order in his local community in the period directly before his arrest and during a time of high tension.

Last week, the most interesting theory in circulation was that he had been rearrested because the presence of his face on the footpath around July 12 would offend Orange marchers and loyalist bandsmen from the Shankill district.

We may never learn the full truth concerning this matter, though Peter Hain might condescend to offer some form of coherent explanation. He might also explain why it is possible to lock up republicans in completely unclear circumstances when members of the Ulster Volunteer Force and Loyalist Volunteer Force are permitted to go around killing each other without any threat of official sanction.

Did the leadership of the UVF approve the recent killing of two loyalists in a feud? Was this in compliance with the terms of the Belfast Agreement?

If matters progress further, will Hain do anything at all about it? Where does the Progressive Unionist Party stand in all of this?

Hain has a background as a sort of liberal, having involved himself in the anti-apartheid movement for some years in a most prominent way. He could, if he was bothered, ask the chief constable of the PSNI to forward to him files concerning the spate of attacks perpetrated by loyalists of one hue or another against ethnic minorities in south Belfast, Antrim and north Armagh in recent times. (I’m not talking about Irish Catholics here, just harmless Chinese and Portuguese and the rest.)

Are these attacks in keeping with either the spirit or the letter of the Belfast Agreement? Either way and simply by reading these files, Hain might begin to develop a better understanding of the beast with which he will ultimately have to deal.

The problem, of course, is that the whole history of the last 30 years has been a massive example of double standards in operation.

While British and Irish ministers preened themselves in public as moral exemplars, routinely denouncing republican acts of violence, the British establishment directly involved itself in promoting loyalist acts of terror.

That is why at least four paid informers and members of a paramilitary force were induced/permitted/ assisted in the murder of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. That is why agents of the British state were involved in assisting the bombers who killed 33 people in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974 in a series of no-warning explosions.

Given the degree of complicity that Britain has in the activities of loyalist paramilitary groups, it is no wonder that there appears to be a minimal level of concern in the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Office or London when loyalists begin to kill each other in sporadic feuding.

It is logistically convenient for the British that people who have been active participants in a prolonged process of collusion should be wiped out. Dead men tell no tales.

Future historians may be able to trace how the majority of those who carried out so-called deniable operations on the urging of securocrats have simply been rubbed out, some even dying while held at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

This is also why it is very difficult for anybody with an ounce of logic in their heads to accept or understand the basis of the current propaganda and public relations campaign being directed against parts of the republican community by those same securocrats.

The current “fresh thinking” in Whitehall appears to be that they can coerce nationalists and republicans by claiming that a small coterie of semi-feudal chiefs based close to the Border have enriched themselves as a result of “the Troubles”.

In tandem with this, the other arm of the PR campaign seeks to portray nationalists and republicans as criminals. This line is being spun out through the usual supportive channels in the Dublin, Belfast and London media.

As an adjunct to the campaign, the Dublin Department of Justice is promoting a hokum worthy of J Edgar Hoover himself — namely, the bizarre theory that republicans are attempting to create a “state within a state” in the 26 Counties.

Many of the fantasies planted with curiously supportive hacks in the media appear to be predicated on the old British belief that the quality of democracy in the 26 Counties is most fragile and that Britain itself must shoulder responsibility for maintaining stability on “these islands”.

At one point some years ago, a serious British broadsheet actually published a story suggesting that there was about to be a military coup d’état in Dublin. The story enraged the Taoiseach of the day, who had been trying to develop a good working relationship with London.

A thorough analysis of the propaganda war needs to be made. Some of the more lurid recent contributions to the anti-republican campaign show neither any care in attention to detail nor any concern that facts should be reported accurately.

The timing of this concerted media/publicity campaign is difficult to fathom, too. It is seven years since the Belfast Agreement and almost 11 since the commencement of the ceasefires. Why now?

It may be that there are elements within the Blair administration who want to implement the Belfast Agreement fully. But it may be that there are other elements in Whitehall who are pursuing completely different goals.

Republicans have been asked in recent weeks if they are prepared to move forward, to make leaps of faith or not, but nobody else involved in the process appears to be asking themselves the same questions.

Why embark on a campaign of ludicrously inaccurate imperialist coat-trailing, of provocation, of smearing, if you genuinely want progress to be made?

People who act with good authority should be trying to solve problems.

There will be plenty of ranting and raving in the future from the guiding lights of Free Presbyterianism.

One might imagine that the British and Irish governments and their agents who adopt a problem-solving approach in many spheres would try to behave more constructively.

Government called to explain Shankhill bomber's detention

Cynical move

Monday, July 18, 2005

Nerf War and Real War: IRA vs. Al Qaeda

Gary Brecher:

Q: How can you blow up London without casualties?

A: Phone in lots of warnings, hours before the bombs are due to go off.

That's what the PIRA started doing in the late 1980s. To cause maximum property damage, they started using trucks packed with fertilizer-based explosives and also equipped with booby traps, so any attempt to defuse the bomb would set it off and vaporize the bomb experts working on it. In the late 1980s you could always tell an IRA man: he was the customer who ordered ten tons of fertilizer even though he lived in a London highrise.

The PIRA's new London cadre was English-raised, so they didn't have that giveaway Belfast accent. They were classic urban guerrilla material: disciplined, young guys who held day jobs and didn't talk.

Their first success with this kind of bomb came on April 10, 1992. A PIRA man drove a truck packed with more than a ton of fertilizer bomb mix to the London financial district, parked it and walked away. No worries about parking tickets, and any towtruck driver who messed with it would be real, real sorry.

Then PIRA operatives started calling in warnings about the bomb, starting hours before it was set to go off. They even called radio and TV stations because they were afraid if they only called Scotland Yard's Special Branch, the spooks there might not pass on the warning, since any casualties hurt the PIRA and helped the Brits.

The warnings were passed on, the financial district was evacuated, and the bomb went off on schedule. Some of the most expensive corporate real estate in Central London turned into crushed glass and confetti. The financial cost to the UK was huge. The claims for bomb damage helped put Lloyd's of London in financial trouble for the first time in history. And there were other costs, like the slowdown in British economic performance when every package and car has to be searched, and the thousands of non-producing security jobs you have to create.

Next year they did it again, with the same MO: huge truck bomb, financial district of London, lots of warnings. And it worked. Only one death, and that was a photographer who went back into the danger zone without permission. It was total victory for the PIRA: a deadly blow for the UK economy with no bloody-civilian photos in the papers to ruin it.

The PIRA leadership figured they'd made a point and tried something even more radical: they declared a ceasefire. Their leaders, like Gerry Adams, were arguing that propaganda was the way to go -- butter up Clinton, get Slick Willie to force the Brits out. They said bombs were a bad look, and figured they could come across as peaceniks if they quit.

But the Brits were in no mood to make a deal. Prime Minister John Major didn't want to be the man who lost Ulster, so he ignored the ceasefire. It was like the opposite of that old line, "what if they held a war and nobody came?" This was like, what if one side declares peace and gets snubbed?

After 17 months of boring ol' peace, the PIRA decided to send a little reminder that they hadn't gone totally soft. They started a new bombing campaign, this time with no attacks in Ulster at all. Their networks in England were so strong they could make life in London unbearable without fouling their own neighborhoods in Ulster -- an urban guerrilla's dream situation.

In February 1996 a truck packed with a half-ton of fertilizer exploded in London, near the offices of some of the most anti-PIRA tabloid papers. Once the echoes of the blast faded, all you could hear was car alarms, sirens and the sound of insurance agents sobbing.

The follow-up act came fast: in June 1996 the PIRA decided to do a little road trip. They set off their biggest bomb ever, more than 3,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, in central Manchester. Same tactics: lots of warnings, no dead, huge damage.

There was a silver lining to this one: the center of Manchester was a disgusting slum, and the bomb cleared it right out. Urban planners were the only demographic that jumped up and down for joy when the evening news came on, and downtown Manchester is now, from what I've read, the cutest little yuppie paradise in the UK.

PIRA cells were operating in every big English city and the Special Branch just wasn't catching them. As long as the supply of fertilizer held out, the PIRA was sitting pretty. If they'd wanted to, they could have put no-warning bombs all over the London transit system and killed tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of commuters. But that wasn't the idea. They were taking it slow and soft, annoying the Brits to death instead.

The cost to the Brits in money, embarrassment and nerves was just getting out of hand. When Tony Blair was elected in early 1997, he went to Belfast and met with the PIRA leadership. A few months later, after months of schmoozing from Clinton, the PIRA declared a ceasefire.

Now you can see the total contrast between the little fancy-schmancy Nerf warfare the PIRA was doing and the total war Al Qaeda practices. They're not courting the Western press the way the PIRA leaders are. They don't want us to like them. They aim to kill as many civilians as they can. They don't want to sweet-talk us out of the Middle East; they want to smash our fingers until we let go and drop.

For them, shots of bloody commuters stumbling out of the Tube stations are GOOD publicity.

And it works, sometimes. In Spain: 200 dead on Madrid commuter trains, the government falls, and Spanish troops flee Iraq: mision cumplida!

In fact, that's how I knew instantly it wasn't the Basques who set those bombs back then, like the Spanish government tried to claim: because the Basque "army," ETA, runs by the same faggy rules as the IRA, and tries to blow stuff up without hurting anybody.

Al Qaeda plays by the good old rules: kill as many as you can, and eventually there'll be nothing left but brave corpses and live cowards.

The fact that the IRA tried to minimise human casualties while Al Qaeda tries to maximise them is an important distinction between the two organisations.

Weekend of slaughter propels Iraq towards all-out civil war

James Hider:

Mariam Ghassan, a three-month-old girl, is treated for injuries after one of the Baghdad bombs

IRAQ is slipping into all-out civil war, a Shia leader declared yesterday, as a devastating onslaught of suicide bombers slaughtered more than 150 people, most of them Shias, around the capital at the weekend.

One bomber killed almost 100 people when he blew up a fuel tanker south of Baghdad, an attack aimed at snapping Shia patience and triggering the full-blown sectarian war that al-Qaeda has been trying to foment for almost two years.

Iraq’s security forces have been overwhelmed by the scale of the suicide bombings — 11 on Friday alone and many more over the weekend — ordered by the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

“What is truly happening, and what shall happen, is clear: a war against the Shias,” Sheikh Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a prominent Shia cleric and MP, told the Iraqi parliament.

Sheikh al-Saghir is close to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the supreme Shia spiritual leader and moderate who has so far managed to restrain powerful Shia militias from undertaking any outright attack on Sunni insurgents. His warning suggests that the Shia leadership may be losing its grip over Shias who in private often call for an armed backlash against their Sunni assailants.

The sheikh also cautioned Sunni clerics supporting the insurgency against American forces and the Shia-Kurdish Government elected in January. “I am very keen to preserve the Sunni blood that would be shed due to the irrational acts of some of their leaders, who do not see that they are leading the country into civil war,” he told the national assembly.

On the streets of Baghdad, al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda organisation in Iraq unleashed one suicide bomber after another and promised no respite.

“The Hassan Ibrahim al-Zaidi attack continues for the second day in a row, with rigged cars, martyrdom attacks and clashes,” an al-Qaeda internet statement said. “We warn the enemies of God of more to come.” One of the suicide bombers, a Libyan, was arrested at the mass funerals of 32 Shia children killed last week by a car bomber.

But the worst attack occurred in the mixed town of Musaib, in the area south of Baghdad known as the Triangle of Death, when a fuel tanker blew up in a crowded market near a mosque on Saturday evening. The death toll rose to 98 yesterday, making it one the deadliest attacks yet.

Relatives searched the shattered market for the body parts of missing loved ones. “I saw a lot of burnt bodies after the explosion and many people throwing their children from the windows and balconies because the buildings were on fire,” Ammar al-Qaragouli said.

Iraqi soldiers have set up checkpoints to try to rein in the bombers, only to become sitting ducks. Two dozen more people died yesterday in four suicide bombings targeting US and Iraqi security forces.

At least one desperate parliamentarian called for the population to form local militias to defend their neighbourhoods — a move that many see as prelude to a sectarian war.

Resistance in Iraq 'legitimate'

Iraq's Shia leaders condemn 'genocidal' insurgents

Iraq's descent into bombing quagmire

Americans accused of interfering in Iraq election

Councils demand: allow us to ban Orange marches in Scotland

Liam McDougall:

THE head of the body which represents Scotland’s 32 local authorities is to hold talks with ministers to demand new powers that would allow councils to ban sectarian marches marred by violence and disorder.

The move comes just days after senior police officers condemned the “disgraceful” scenes at an Orange march in the east end of Glasgow commemorating the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne. Two weeks before that, police made a record 85 arrests at another march held in the city centre.

Pat Watters, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), confirmed he would be contacting justice minister Cathy Jamieson and seeking a meeting before the end of the month.

He said he would press the minister for new laws that would bolster councils’ powers, and seek assurances that the Scottish Executive would meet the costs of implementing measures made in Sir John Orr’s recent review of marches and parades.

Included in the report was a recommendation that councils should consult with march organisers and local communities before they went ahead.

Under current legislation, councils are powerless to ban marches – only the chief constable has the authority to stop a march from going ahead.

Last night, the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland condemned Watters’s plan , saying it was a “threat to our democratic right to peaceful procession and assembly”.

But Cosla will tell the minister that it is “pointless” having the power to consult if there is no legislative back-up to implement the views of its constituents.

Watters said: “We’re in favour of getting the responsibility, being able to consult with communities and the march organisers to try to alleviate problems that might be caused or to address the perceived problems. But to do that we need proper legislation to back up any decision that we take and the necessary finance to do it properly.”

He pointed out that in the space of just a few days, scores of marches can take place in Glasgow. Watters added: “If consultation over a 28-day period has to take place for each, that’s some amount of staff time that has to be devoted to do this. We need the finance to actually do it and if there is a problem [with a march] we need to be able to act on that problem. Our ability to do anything at this present time is very narrow.”

Watters denied that he was “asking the minister to write a blank cheque” but said: “What we’re asking is for is an assurance that they [the Executive] will meet the necessary expenditure, whatever it is.”

Although Watters said the plans for a meeting with Jamieson were not prompted by the scenes at Orange marches in Glasgow this month, there was nevertheless an “urgency” for councils to have the power to deal with disorder.

Last Wednesday, police condemned the “disgraceful” scenes at an Orange march which resulted in 20 arrests at a parade in Glasgow. Police said the march on July 12 in the east end of Glasgow was marred by drunkenness, sectarian singing and general disorder.

According to police, a “much higher level of disorder” could have resulted had police not received the “good co- operation” of pub licensees in the Gallowgate area who agreed to keep their doors closed as the parade passed.

Of the 19 men and one woman arrested, 13 were detained on suspicion of sectarian hatred, while seven others faced breach of the peace charges.

The trouble happened less than two weeks after a 270% rise in the number of arrests at the largest Orange walk in Scotland, which was also held in the city. Some 85 people were arrested at the parade.

Councillor Jim Coleman, deputy leader of Glasgow City Council, said he had received letters from members of the public complaining about the behaviour of those who turned out to watch the recent marches in the city.

He also said he would be in favour of tough new powers to regulate or ban problem marches. “ This story is going out all over Britain, all over the world, and it’s doing the image of the city no good.

“The first thing that people say is, ‘why don’t you just ban them,’ but we don’t have the power to do it. The only person who has the power to do that is the chief constable under the existing law, which is out of date in our opinion and in Cosla’s opinion.”

Apparently, even Scottish people hate the Orange parades.

Police condemn Orange parade disorder

British intelligence 'lost' suicide bombers to IRA fixation

David Charter:

BRITISH security forces may have missed the emergence of suicide bombers on home soil because they were looking the wrong way for years, according to an expert analysis published today.

British Intelligence focused on IRA extremists and allowed individuals in London to foment terror in the Middle East, believing that they were no threat to Britain, the report from Chatham House and the Economic and Social Research Council said.

British lives have also been lost because UK foreign policy was seen as "riding pillion" with the United States, according to the report, part of a five-year research programme which was near completion by the time of the London bombings.

It concluded that the war in Iraq split the international community's response to terror while providing a recruitment, fundraising and propaganda tool for al-Qa'ida. The report seemed to support to the claims of Clare Short, the former International Development Secretary and others that the war in Iraq was partly to blame for the London bombings.

But Downing Street rejected the findings, saying that the report gave no alternative strategy to the War on Terror.

The expert analysis of the response to 9/11 by Chatham House and the ESRC concluded that Britain has "an impressive national structure of coordination to deal with terrorism" but that the challenge remained "significant." The report said that British armed forces and police gained "invaluable experience and expertise" through three decades of fighting Northern Irish terrorism.

But it added: "It is hardly surprising that this understandable preoccupation with terrorism related to Northern Ireland diverted the attention of Britain's intelligence agencies away from international terrorism."

The report said: "By the mid-1990s the UK's intelligence agencies and the police were well aware that London was increasingly being used as a base by individuals involved in promoting, funding and planning terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere.

"However, these individuals were not viewed as a threat to the UK's national security, and so they were left to continue their activities with relative impunity, a policy which caused much anger among the foreign governments concerned.

"As a result the British authorities did not fully appreciate the threat from al-Qaeda. The failure to gain any warning from existing information of the 9/11 attacks on the US was an intelligence failure of the entire Western alliance."

The report analysed the four principles of Britain's response to the international terrorist threat - prevention, pursuit, protection and preparedness.

It concluded: "A key problem with regard to implementing prevention and pursuit is that the UK Government has been conducting counter-terrorism policy 'shoulder to shoulder' with the US, not in the sense of being an equal decision maker, but rather as pillion passenger compelled to leave the steering to the ally in the driving seat.

"There is no doubt that the situation over Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK."

More evidence that as far as the British are concerned the only real "terrorists" are Irish ones.

'Alliance with US put Britain in danger'

Iraq 'made UK a terror target', claims report

UK ‘allowed’ terror groups to act with impunity

Salmond comment on Chatham House report

MI5 'was looking for the wrong kind of terrorists'

Riots fuel fears of IRA breakaway

Paul T Colgan:

The appearance of dissident republicans armed with blast-bombs on the streets of Ardoyne last Tuesday, coupled with the seeming inability of senior republicans such as Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly to control nationalist rioters, has emphasised the difficulties that lie ahead in winding up the IRA.

Nationalist youths, incensed by the taunts of Orangemen who marched through the area - many of them laced with alcohol – took out their anger on the PSNI.

For the second year in succession, rioters ended up fighting with the North's security forces after Orange revellers were ushered through the north Belfast enclave.

While mainstream republicans seek to play down the potential for further violence in the coming weeks, the spectre of a reinvigorated dissident threat is nonetheless troubling them.

One seasoned Belfast republican said that he feared that the Continuity IRA, which admitted that its members had thrown up to nine blast-bombs at PSNI officers, viewed Tuesday's events as a "foot in the door".

He said that the recent decision by the Northern Ireland Office to return Shankill bomber Sean Kelly to prison had fed into last week's troubles, as some republicans who had previously stewarded protesters decided to stay away from the Ardoyne.

Republicans said Kelly had been prominent in last year's attempts to maintain calm at the interface, and claim that he was arrested as a sop to unionists who objected to his presence on the front line.

“Many of my friends who are 'lifers' act as stewards at these things, but my advice to them was not to go near it,” said the republican. “When you go into a situation where a riot is possible, you just can't control what is going to happen. You run the risk of being arrested and having your licence revoked.

“By returning Kelly to prison, the British government created this kind of knock-on effect. It created a vacuum, which other people chose to exploit.”

He said that contrary to recent reports, north Belfast remained largely supportive of the political strategy being pursued by Sinn Féin, but the patience of many republicans in the area was being severely tested.

“The British government tailored a situation for the dissidents,” he said. “North Belfast has been on the receiving end of most of the sectarian violence down through the years.

“It has always been a testing ground for theories about the peace process - things are always tested more quickly there than, say, west Belfast. But the desire by people there for peace has always been as strong as anywhere else.

“Support for the dissidents is weak there, but people, having gone through what they have, are not going to condemn them for throwing blast-bombs in such a situation,” he said.

Republicans always knew that their discussions about the future of the IRA would coincide with the difficult marching season.

With an IRA statement still considered imminent by the Irish government, any move by republicans in the coming days will be fraught with difficulties. The consultation period within the IRA is understood to have come to an end in the past two weeks.

However, republicans say that more time is required to brief IRA members about what the organisation is to say publicly.

In the past, the first the average IRA member knew about the two ceasefire declarations or the three acts of decommissioning was what they heard from the media.

Republicans claim that this type of approach irked many members and fed into latent doubts about the credibility of the political strategy. They insist that this mistake will not happen again.

There is concern that the angry scenes in Ardoyne are likely to have had some impact on the IRA rank and file. Opposition in some quarters - most notably in Tyrone and Armagh - to plans to move into a "new mode" may have been strengthened by the Parades Commission's decision to usher Orangemen through the predominantly nationalist area.

None of this would be happening if the British didn't allow the Orangemen to march through indigenous Irish neighbourhoods. Of course, none of this would be happening if the British would just dismantle their colony in the north of Ireland and relocate their colonists back to Britain where they belong. Unfortunately, the British seem to have an unending love affair with their colonial past.