Wednesday, August 31, 2005

More now opting for children to be educated in Irish

Áine Kerr:

THERE is now an all-Irish primary school in every county in the Republic following the opening of a new gaelscoil in Leitrim this week, which brings the total number of such schools to 158.

Four all-Irish primary schools will open this week in Carrick-on-Shannon, Lucan, Finglas and Ballaghmore in Co Laois, boosting national attendance numbers to over 25,000 at primary level and over 6,000 at secondary school.

Added to this, a further four primary schools and five secondary schools are expected to open in the near future.

The number of gaelscoileanna in Ireland has risen dramatically in the last 30 years, from 11 schools in 1972 to 158 this year.

In 1990, some 13,163 children were attending gaelscoileanna compared to 25,039 in all-Irish primary schools in the last academic year. The reasons for the increasing draw and attractiveness of sending children to a gaelscoil are multi-fold according to Nora Ni Loinsigh of Gaelscoileanna.

"Some people went through 14 years at school learning Irish and found when they came out, they couldn't speak it.

"A lot of those parents now want their children to be able to speak Irish. . . other parents are looking for something different to the local national school, while other parents are interested in the Irish culture," said Ms Ni Loinsigh.

Compared to an all-Irish education in a gaelscoil, the average child is thought to spend 1,500 hours learning Irish.

Bridging the gap between the high enrolment at primary level and the low uptake at secondary level remains a challenge but attracting teachers to all-Irish speaking schools is becoming less difficult.

So much for the claim that the Irish language is dying out.

Who fears to speak?

Tom McGurk:

What strange sights are to be seen around Moore Street this week? The southern Irish political establishment are to be found there now wandering around with their history books, looking for Number 16.

Apparently - don't laugh - they are not even sure if Number 16 is the right address. Perhaps the shop where the 1916 leaders last met on the Friday of Easter week and subsequently surrendered may not actually be Number 16.

I hope it is, because of the superbly ironic Celtic tiger setting that the whole cameo now presents. There, sandwiched between a hairdresser and a mobile phone shop, is the long-abandoned Irish Alamo, with its roof collapsing and its walls falling in.

Could symbolic significance say more of how this state has officially regarded 1916 in recent times?

In 1966, the official revolutionary zeitgeist was everywhere. With the old revolutionary generation on its last legs at the GPO parade, and with Lord Brookeborough's B Specials maintaining the Queen's peace on the back-roads of Armagh and Tyrone, Patrick Pearse and company could be safely paraded for a new generation wearing paper hats and little tricolours.

Here was the southern post-Treaty state claiming its inheritance in revolutionary violence, and nobody was looking northwards to spoil the party.

All that was before - barely two years later - the six counties exploded, and with it the old partition settlement.

At that moment, the beginnings of the argument that dominated Irish politics ever since broke out - the argument about democratic legitimacy versus revolutionary violence.

Here was an ideological crux that has perplexed the south's politicians and historians ever since, because suddenly historical interpretation of state formation was more than just an academic thesis.

The unpaid bills for partition were coming in, and there was almighty manoeuvrings about who should and who shouldn't pick them up.

A new official version of events was needed to steer the state through the historical cross-currents flowing across the border as everyone went back to their history books.

Conor Cruise O'Brien's States of Ireland, published in 1972, began the assault on 1916 and martyrology. Even better, he used Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act to ensure that if there were to be a debate about state formation it certainly wasn't going to be in public.

By 1976, the Liam Cosgrave government decided to have no official commemoration of the 60th anniversary; instead, an unofficial ceremony which was attended by 10,000 people was held, and banned by the government.

Very soon a new version of state formation was being busily cooked up by historians. None of this adversely affected their academic promotional prospects.

In short, 1916 required burying, as state formation had to be explained away in exclusively constitutional versus physical-force narratives.

The new version argued that state formation began with the 1920sWar of Independence democratically mandated by Dáil Éireann (not quite true) and culminated in the democratic mandate given in the 1922 election to the Treaty and subsequent civil war. (Not quiet true either).

It was out with Pearse and in with Michael Collins.

The following salient facts that pointed up how instinctively close Mr Collins was to Mr Pearse in state formation were conveniently forgotten.

The Collins/deValera pre-general-election pact of May 1922 was intended to produce a cabinet coalition of pro-treatyites and anti-treatyites, to prevent a potential civil war.

On the eve of the election Collins unilaterally abandoned the pact.

The subsequent election result, where the pro-treatyites won the most seats, was subsequently characterised as supplying the ‘democratic majority foundations' of the state.

In fact, in recent years, analysis of the voting figures produced something strikingly different.

Michael Gallagher's 1979 psephological study revealed that over 70 per cent of treatyites' transfers went to anti-treatyites and vice versa.

So how was treaty or no-treaty the principal argument of that election? Critically what counts here is not how the votes were counted, but how they were cast.

In short, while treatyites won a majority, the dominating mandate was not primarily in favour of the treaty and the subsequent attack on Republicans that began the civil war - but for reconciliation and coalition between the warring factions. But impervious to the complexity of that ‘democratic mandate', by the following August Collins was taking a leaf from the 1916 handbook.

Already controlling civil, military and (through the secret IRB) extra-constitutional powers - and under insistence from London, which was to supply the heavy weapons necessary - he suspended the new Dáil and subsequently attacked the Republicans, launching the Civil War.

By this stage, there is considerable evidence to suggest that what Collins was leading actually amounted to an unaccountable military dictatorship.

In fact, where is the evidence that the ‘majority' treaty vote in 1923 represented a mandate for a civil war against the anti-treatyites - since one of the abiding attractions of the Treaty itself was that it promised an end to violence?

No wonder that within weeks of Collins' death, the reins of ‘democracy' were being seized back, by the introduction of a civilian-led cabinet with joint responsibility, and the summoning of the new parliament, along with the disbandment of the IRB.

No wonder, too, that the current Irish state's evolution from non-democratic and authoritarian means is not factored into the new version of state formation that has been subtly used to elide 1916 from the wider historical picture.

But what really provoked the recent official southern disappearance of 1916 was the Provisional IRA campaign in the North.

Actually, there are striking similarities to the political context of 1916 in the way the IRA launched that campaign, against wider nationalist opinion in the North in 1970.Like home rule before and civil rights then, wider nationalist opinion initially deplored the campaign, believing that a new and novel constitutional solution was possible.

The introduction of interment in the North, and particularly Bloody Sunday, provided enough water for the Republican guerrillas to swim in for years to come - not unlike the 1916 executions.

And somehow the shriller and the more insistent the condemnations issuing from the now 1916-less south became, the thinner to Northerners those exclusively constitutional, as opposed to physical force narratives seemed.

Had not the hunger strikes opened other doors, we might still be in the killing fields. Unlike the south, where generations of civil society could allow for such historical a-la-carte-ism, it is not so with the territorial imperatives of the North.

Let's hope, then, that 16 Moore Street (or wherever it is) will start the re-education process.

Row over Ireland's 'Alamo house'

Question claim IRA provoked the British

New bid to save rising leader's refuge

Irish argue over fate of Easter Rising landmark

Is Scotland to remain a cold, white monoculture forever?

Monday, August 29, 2005

SSIAs to produce €15 billion bonanza for Irish economy

Finfacts Team:

The Government backed SSIA special savings accounts look set to be valued higher on maturity, according to a new estimate that was published this morning.

Goodbody Stockbrokers says just under €15 billion will be paid out, up from the €14 billion it forecast a year ago. The increase is is because more savers - around 44% of the total - are investing the maximum amount of €254 a month.

Goodbody says the €14.9 billion will be released between May 2006 and April 2007, with the bulk coming towards the end of that period. It adds that around €6.3 billion will be released in April 2007 alone.

Goodbody says that recent surveys may have underestimated the level of SSIA funds which will be spent, as offers from businesses will tempt more consumers. The report says cars, home improvements and holidays are likely to benefit most. But Goodbody does not see any significant effect on the housing market, as the amounts are too low to materially affect prices.

The report says the overall impact of SSIA funds on the economy cannot be understated, as the total amounts are equivalent to just over 10% of estimated economic output in 2006. Goodbody expects a significant increase in consumer confidence, but spending on imported goods may depress GDP growth in 2006 and 2007.

The report also expects the Exchequer to benefit to the tune of €1.3 billion, with a boost to VAT, Customs & Excise and Stamp Duties, as well as Corporation Tax as companies record higher profits.

Special savings payouts will not fuel house prices - report

Stronger sterling to affect economy

Lenders have not gone mad

Sterling to strengthen in coming weeks

Suicide rate rises after the Troubles

Jan Battles:

PEACE in Northern Ireland has had one unforeseen consequence: a rising suicide rate. Health experts now believe the Troubles kept suicide levels in the province down for more than 30 years.

The authors of a new study say the civil unrest may have strengthened social bonds within communities and “buffered” individuals from thoughts of taking their own lives.

The research, by the University of Ulster and the department of psychiatry at the Mater Hospital Trust in Belfast, discovered an inverse relationship between suicide and terrorist- related deaths. The numbers taking their own lives fell during the worst years of violence, according to the study which is published in the Journal of Mental Health. Now that there is relative peace in the province, suicide is on the rise.

The highest annual suicide tolls since 1966 were recorded in 2000 when 163 people took their lives, and in 2002 when there were 162 suicides.

The study’s authors say that when people come together to confront a general threat they tend to think less about themselves as individuals and more of the common cause and so suicidal thoughts may be pushed to the back of their minds.

The finding in Northern Ireland mirrors other research which has discovered falling suicide rates in areas of conflict around the world. A 2002 study found there were reduced suicide rates during both world wars and even as far back as the French revolution sociologists were linking social integration and suicide.

The thesis may explain why Northern Ireland has a significantly lower suicide rate than the republic — with only 8.5 per 100,000 of the population compared with 12.5 per 100,000 in the republic, according to 2003 figures presented at a conference on suicide prevention last week.

“Where you have areas of civil conflict the rate of suicide tends to drop during that period,” said Iain McGowan, a lecturer in nursing at the University of Ulster, Coleraine and one of the authors of the study. McGowan examined trends in suicide rates and terrorist-related deaths in the North from 1966 to 1999.

In the 34-year period, more than 7,000 people died — almost evenly divided between those who took their own lives and those slaughtered in terrorist-related incidents. Of the 3,413 suicides, 2,376 were male and the overall prevalence of suicide over the 34-year period was 6.4 per 100,000 population. There were 3,638 terrorist-related deaths in that time — or almost seven per 100,000. Men were more than six times more likely to die in a terrorist-related incident than women.

McGowan found a direct relationship between the two — when terrorism increased, suicide fell and vice versa. The lowest year for suicide deaths was 1972 when 47 people took their own lives. This coincided with the highest homicide toll when 497 people were killed as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The following year the deaths from the Troubles dropped to 263, while the number of suicides rose to 70.

Between 1971 and 1982 more people died as a result of terrorism but since then, apart from a brief period in 1988, suicide deaths have outnumbered those killed in the Troubles.

This shows that tribal violence as has been seen in the north of Ireland is normal. The idea that indigenous Irish Catholics should live in peace with British colonists is nothing more than a recipe for higher suicide rates. The best way to reduce the suicide rate amongst indigenous Irish Catholics is to make war against the British colonists. In other words, "peaceful coexistence" equals suicide.

Suicide rates could take years to fall, warns expert

FF backbenchers revolt threat over Colombia Three

Niamh Connolly:

Fianna Fáil backbenchers are threatening a revolt if legal moves are made to extradite the Colombia Three.

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, last week raised the possibility of sending Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan back to Colombia to serve their 17 years and six months sentences for training Farc rebels.

“There would be an expectation internationally that whatever remedies are provided for under international law or domestic law would be fully used to deal with that situation,” said McDowell.

“If there is a case to be made for their extradition to Colombia and if it's lawful under Irish law, that is something which may well happen.”

Colombia's vice-president Francisco Santos last week said his government would be seeking the men's extradition.

But most Fianna Fáil deputies who spoke to The Sunday Business Post last week ruled out extraditing the men, citing concerns about Colombia's human rights record.

One backbencher summed up the consensus view: “I don't think that any Irish person would want to see another Irish person incarcerated in Colombia, based on what we know of human rights in that country.

“But if people have committed an offence, let them pay the price. If it's possible for that price to be paid at home, that's where it should be paid.”

There is no extradition treaty between Ireland and Colombia, though the justice minister indicated last week that such a treaty could be established. But one senior Fianna Fáil party source observed: “There are reasons why we don't have an extradition treaty with Colombia.”

Informed sources believe that any legislation introducing an extradition treaty would not apply retrospectively and therefore not cover the three men. They were originally found not guilty by a court in Colombia, but the verdict was overturned by an appeal heard in private.

Government bites its tongue in Colombia Three debate

Thanks a million, Michael McDowell

Another Twist in Colombia Three

'How Many More Killings Will It Take?' - Asks Derry MP

Hain under pressure to declare UVF ceasefire void

Colm Heatley:

The Secretary of State for the North, Peter Hain, is coming under increasing pressure to declare the Ulster Volunteer Force's (UVF) ceasefire void because of the paramilitary group's continued involvement in the loyalist feud.

The UVF has murdered four Protestant men in Belfast in the past seven weeks as part of its drugs feud with the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

Last weekend, the UVF shot and injured a man in Co Armagh, signalling the group's intention to extend the feud beyond Belfast into LVF strongholds in mid-Ulster. The LVF has vowed revenge.

Although the UVF has declared its intention to continue the feud “at all costs'‘, Hain has said only that “all ceasefires remain under review constantly'‘.

Hain said there was no question of the government turning a blind eye to any violence, but the SDLP's justice spokesman, Alban Maginness, accused the Northern Secretary of “burying his head in the sand'‘.

“It is clear that the UVF is engaged in a war with other loyalists, and people are being murdered on the streets of Belfast,” said Maginness.

“There seems to be a fear that, if the UVF's ceasefire is declared void, it will push the group over the edge - but it is already over the edge, and has been for quite a time.”

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has written to Hain expressing concern over the British government's response to the feud.

Five men were arrested last week in connection with the feud, but all were later released without charge. So far, 19 people have been arrested in connection with the four UVF murders, but nobody has been charged. Nationalists fear that the feud may result in a spate of sectarian murders by loyalist paramilitaries.

Privately, the UVF and LVF have said they will continue the feud indefinitely. However, a senior UVF source admitted the withdrawal of ceasefire status would “worry some members, especially ex-prisoners out on licence'‘.

Former prisoners out on licence can be sent back to jail if the Secretary of State believes they are re-involved in terrorism.

In June, Hain ordered that the Shankill bomber, Sean Kelly, should be returned to jail. However, he was released a few days before the IRA's decommissioning statement in July.

Leading loyalist has bail conditions changed so he can go on holiday

There is no evidence of paramilitary involvement in drug-trafficking in Ireland, the head of the Garda National Drugs Unit insists

Evelyn Ring:

While there might be concern the IRA would get involved in drugs in the future, now they have declared an end to their armed campaign, this was also unlikely, said Det Supt Cormac Gordon.

Interviewed on RTÉ’s This Week, he said there was no indication, intelligence or information to suggest the IRA was likely to get involved in drugs.

Referring to the €13 million worth of drugs netted by gardaí last week, Det Supt Gordon said they were satisfied it was destined for Ireland. But he queried the assertion made by US cocaine trafficking expert Ron Chiswick that only between 15% and 20% of the drug is ever intercepted.

“That figure is quoted throughout Europe but it is very difficult to quantify how much gets into a country without being detected,” he said.

It was, however, getting easier for drug traffickers to move across Europe because there were fewer controls.

“It is not possible to stop every vehicle or passenger that comes into a country and search their luggage.”

But he could not see a situation where some of the so-called softer drugs might be legalised in Ireland. He did not think such a move would be welcomed either.

He said cannabis was the most widely used drug here, followed by ecstasy and cocaine, demand for which has increased over the last four years.

Cocaine from South America was being supplied to Ireland through Spain, as was cannabis that originated in North Africa.

Ecstasy was generally produced in Holland, but the raw material used to make the drug comes from China, as did the raw material for amphetamines.

Det Supt Gordon said drug-trafficking in Ireland was run like a business, with traffickers living near their source in Holland or Spain so they can get the best prices.

While John Gilligan’s drugs empire had collapsed, there could be former members who were still involved at the periphery.

He believes there would always be people wanting to get involved in drug-trafficking because there was money to be made from it.

In the case of cocaine, there was an opportunity for people to double or treble their initial investment.

Drugs seizures - No room for complacency on drug issue

Friday, August 26, 2005

Colombia lawmakers 'use cocaine'

BBC News:

Some of Colombia's elected politicians have used cocaine within Congress itself, the vice-president of the country's Senate has alleged.

The drug is also being sold there, Senator Edgar Artunduaga said.

"I know names of people who distribute cocaine here in Congress," he said, revealing the results of an investigation ordered by his office.

"There are important officials who distribute, and senators and representatives who consume," he said.

Personal possession of small amounts of cocaine and other drugs is not illegal in Colombia, the world's biggest cocaine producer.

Mr Artunduaga refused to name those involved.

"But I will denounce the dealers to authorities," said Mr Artunduaga, describing some of them as "middle-ranking officials".

Colombian senator says cocaine dealers in congress

Senate leader: Lawmakers get high at work

Cocaine abuse rife in Colombia's corridors of powder

Coke used in Colombia congress

IRA's struggle justified

Andrew M. Greeley:

The editorial boards of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times - the "official" thought molders of the nation - rarely agree on anything. Recently, however, they managed to agree on one subject. Both condemned the Irish Republican Army on the grounds that there was no justice in its claims.

The violence of the Stern Gang in Israel, the African National Congress in South Africa, the FLN in Algeria is apparently OK (at least to The Times), but the IRA does not have a legitimate cause. Such ignorance of Ireland's history is intolerable. We should expect better reporting from both of them.

England had no right to occupy Ireland and exploit and persecute the Irish people for half a millennium. When it was finally forced by the original IRA to grant quasi-independence to Ireland in the early 1920s, it had no right to carve out a gerrymandered rump state in the North of Ireland for the descendants of its colonists.

Moreover it had no right to shape that last surviving colony in Europe (six of the nine counties of historic Ulster) so that its Protestant inhabitants could oppress the artificially created Catholic minority. Nor did England have the right to tolerate for a half-century political, social, educational and religious persecution of Catholics.

Small wonder that this rule by a "Protestant Parliament for a Protestant nation" created such social injustice that there was a violent revolution.

While the IRA claims a vision of a united Ireland - a vision that is certainly historically justified - it was in fact fighting the unjust oppression of Catholics in this lingering relic of English imperialistic colonialism.

I deplore violence everywhere, but the long history of Ireland's quest for freedom from English domination demonstrates that it has had to fight for justice every inch of the way.

Hardly an article about British-occupied Ireland appears in American papers does not describe the IRA in any other terms than its claim for Irish unity. Hardly a word appears about the blatant injustice of the colonial regime.

The IRA finally forced the English government to the negotiating table. Kicking and screaming, the Protestant leadership joined the negotiations.

The result was the historic Good Friday agreement that imposed a complex form of power sharing on the Protestants. Since then, the Protestant leadership, having failed to persuade its constituents of the absolute necessity of power sharing, has torpedoed every attempt to implement the agreement.

The IRA promised in the Good Friday agreement to disarm when the other conditions of power sharing had been established.

The Protestant leadership managed to persuade the world that the IRA was the barrier to peace when in fact they - or their followers - were and are the real obstacle.

No oppressive ruling class ever gives up power easily. Protestants in the North are still not ready to give up their illusion of a "Protestant" nation. Protestants are still throwing gasoline bombs into the homes of Catholics in South Armagh - something The Journal and The Times will not report.

The IRA ceased fire seven years ago in the hope justice could be achieved by peaceful negotiations. It has finally gone the last mile by voting to give up all arms and disband. Will that satisfy the country's hard-line Protestants? Based on past performance there is no reason to think that it will.

Spotting those who support partition

The day the people won

MEP goes north in solidarity

Outrage at DUP man's Hunger Strike comments

Probe pledged into 'sectarian' content on loyalist radio station

Pressure on Hain

Will minister’s war ever be over?

Daily Ireland:

There was speculation that the silly season had come to an end when we saw politicians return to their desks. But the announcement by Minister Michael McDowell that “something will be done” about the Colombia Three, without stating what that will be, indicates otherwise.

Clearly clutching at straws, and under pressure from the United States, the Minister for Justice has so far come up with only one possible charge against one of the three — and that relates to the alleged use of a forged Irish passport.

Incredibly, even though the minister may ultimately have a role to play in any extradition process, he has hung his hat on efforts to jail Niall Connolly, Martin McAuley and Jim Monaghan in Ireland or Colombia.

Colombia’s appalling civil rights record, its DIY legal system which allowed the original decision in the three men’s favour to be overturned behind closed doors, and the fact that the men are solid supporters of the peace process have all been cast aside in a bid to further the PDs’ increasingly pathetic campaign against “the Provisional Movement” — even though such an organisation now exists only in PD-land and in the fevered imagination of columnists and leader writers in the Sunday Indo.

Under Michael McDowell’s bizarre logic, the Birmingham Six would have been sent back to England if they had escaped and made their way to Dublin. After all, they too were convicted in a court of law — even though, as in the case of the Colombian courts and the three Irishmen, the proceedings were more kangaroo court than Rumpole of the Bailey.

The priority of the PDs in the weeks and months ahead is to shore up the bankrupt unionist case while undermining the peacemakers trying to forge an historic deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Rather than trying to talk the Colombia Three controversy into a crisis, the Irish government should be taking steps to tie up all the loose ends of the peace process — including the release of the Castlerea prisoners and an end to the hounding of the Colombia Three.

The IRA has said their war is over. Isn’t it time Mr McDowell called a halt to his war on republicans?

Republican fast one was brilliantly timed

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Bank of Ireland predicts that Irish GDP will grow by 5% in 2005


The Irish economy will grow by 5pc this year, fuelled by domestic demand and consumer, Government and business spending, Dan McLaughlin, chief economist with Bank of Ireland said today.

In his quarterly economic outlook for the year, McLaughlin forecast GNP of 6pc, inflation at 2.5pc, unemployment at 4.3pc and an Exchequer balance of E0.4bn.

"Ireland's manufacturing led growth has given way to a services and construction based expansion with domestic demand, particularly consumer spending, driving growth. This consumer spending, allied with a strong advance in capital investment and robust government spending, will generate a 6pc rise in domestic demand, an acceleration from the 4.7pc increase recorded last year and the 4pc rise in 2003. Economic growth as a whole, however, is likely to rise by 5pc in 2005 dampened by weak export growth, in turn reflecting the malaise affecting the manufacturing sector," he said.

Strong spending to fuel growth - BoI

High consumer spending predicted to drive economy forward

Bank of Ireland's McLaughlin remains optimistic on Ireland's economic outlook

Domestic demand is driving the economy this year, says McLaughlin

Hiding Behind The Rhetoric

Derry Journal:

Loyalist paramilitary activity has soared in recent months with the UDA/UFF, UVF and LVF linked to a number of sectarian murders and much of the serious violence that has erupted across the North.

In spite of this, however, there has been so much attention focused on the activities - alleged or otherwise - of the IRA that any outside observer could be excused for thinking that republicans are the only people in possession of illegal weapons.

It is in these circumstances that the relentless griping of some unionists, in particular their perpetual criticism of all things republican, is beginning to sound somewhat hollow, not to say sanctimonious.

Granted, some of the unionist grievances are justified - but surely they realise that they would be taken more seriously if they were to also denounce in similarly unequivocal terms the squalid behaviour of those paramilitaries who claim to come from their side of the sectarian fence.

One only has to examine the activities of loyalist paramilitaries in the last few months to fully appreciate that much of the posturing of certain unionist politicians stinks of double standards.

The last few months have witnessed ongoing sectarian attacks on Catholics, their homes, churches and businesses - and all this in addition to the well publicised feud between the UVF and LVF.

And what has been the response from unionist politicians to this ongoing campaign? They have continued to hide behind anti-republican rhetoric despite the recent historic statement from the IRA committing itself to peaceful and democratic methods.

Put simply, unionism has failed to grasp the reality that, at present, the biggest threat to this process comes from within the ranks of violent loyalist paramilitarism.

It is essential that those unionists so brazenly outspoken in their demands for Sinn Fein to be banished to the political wilderness as a result of alleged IRA misdemeanours are less reticent when it comes to condemning ongoing loyalist violence.

Furthermore, those in a position of political responsibility and those with influence in their communities must unite in condemning this abhorrent activity and in seeking a means to put a halt to it before it ends in tragedy.

There is now an urgent need to engender the necessary confidence that effective preventative action will be undertaken.

The communities need to know that they will be fully protected and that the perpetrators of these vile acts will be brought to justice.

The parties to the Good Friday Agreement affirmed both the "right to freedom from sectarian harassment" and the right to "freely choose one's place of residence". It is imperative that these rights be effectively vindicated for everyone in Northern Ireland.

Day by day, the threat posed to life and limb by the pipe bomb is being intensified. The devices are now being used with reckless abandon.

It is only a matter of time before somebody is killed in one of these cowardly attacks. The pipe bomb is a lethal weapon and nothing can justify its use.

Many of the attacks seem to be motivated by pure sectarianism, in that the vast majority of targets have been Catholics.

This cowardly campaign is clearly being orchestrated by somebody, and the finger of blame is being pointed at loyalist paramilitaries.

While they have attempted to wash their hands of involvement, their denials are increasingly unconvincing.

Those behind the attacks must be rejected by all who value democracy.

There should be no hiding place for those who are prepared to plan or carry out such vicious attacks.

Sectarian intimidation has no place in this society, and the sooner those behind these attacks get that message, the better.

Call to declare loyalist ceasefire obsolete

Police chief's gaffe an insult to attack victims

What can we do to end sectarianism?

PSNI hits out at press

IRA 'Dedication' Forced British To Talks Table - Says McGuinness

Senior Civil Service 'Cold House' For Catholics - SF

Equal in every way

Police revisit feud murder scene

Attack victim refuses to move

Real IRA issues threat

Loyalist march 'in breach' of guidelines

Short Strand Siege

Distrust behind the schmaltzy obituaries

Monday, August 22, 2005

Nationalist parties to raise equality issues

Anne Cadwallader:

Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein have indicated that equality, investment, job creation and discrimination are going to be at, or near, the top of their political agendas when political life resumes after the summer holidays.

Nationalists are angry that the bulk of available public funding to encourage job creation is being spent in areas with low unemployment figures, while areas of multiple deprivations, which tend to be Catholic, are overlooked.

The British government has for many years publicly espoused the principle of "Targeting Social Need" but it has failed to make any significant inroads into Catholic unemployment rates.

Sinn Féin is also determined to try and increase the amount of social housing available in Catholic areas after figures show that 44 percent of people on the Belfast waiting list are Catholic yet they account for only 28 percent of those allocated a house.

In comparison, Protestants represented 43 percent of those on the waiting list but 64 percent of those allocated a house. These figures, the party said, point to a very significant differential that is every bit as unacceptable as the unemployment differential.

The SDLP is particularly critical of the record of Invest Northern Ireland, the British government's main job creation agency in Northern Ireland. The party also criticized its decision to locate its head office in Central Belfast.

"There are many alternative sites around Belfast that Invest Northern Ireland could have chosen," said a party spokesman. "Areas in North and West Belfast have the capacity for such a project and have the added advantage of being close to arterial routes."

Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein criticize INI's record on allocating funds to areas west of the Bann, which again tend to be Catholic with higher than normal unemployment and poverty rates.

Eugene McMenamin, SDLP spokesperson on western development and services, said the INI headquarters could have been located West of the River Bann. "It must develop a strategy that will address the investment differential created between the greater Belfast area and the West," he said.

Sinn Féin's anti-poverty spokesperson, Kathy Stanton, Assembly member for North Belfast, said there was clear evidence of persistent and deep-rooted poverty existing in both communities.

But, she said, the real challenge to the British government, direct rule ministers and civil servants is whether there is the political will to tackle deprivation with commitment and urgency.

Sinn Féin believes that disadvantage must be tackled where it exists and on the basis of need", she said. "Any other approach, particularly based on religious or sectarian criteria would be a serious mistake.

"The priority must be about ensuring that we get the policy approach right and put in place adequate funding and resources to address the crippling social and economic consequences of poverty wherever it arises."

Fighting for Equality or drowning in bureaucracy?

Unionist debates equality in West Belfast

Ending discrimination - a question of political will

Fair employment distortions


Some are more equal than others

Orange Order's anti-Catholic land deal

Orange Order linked to land scheme

Combat 18 threaten MLA

Daily Ireland:

A Co Derry politician has been threatened by the right-wing Combat 18 group, it emerged yesterday.

East Derry SDLP Assemblyman John Dallat has confirmed that police are investigating a threat made against him by the neo-Nazi group aligned to loyalists in the Coleraine and Bushmills areas.

Mr Dallat said: “Clearly any threat made by this sinister group must be taken seriously. This practice is deeply distressing to my staff but it won’t deter me from speaking out against hate-mongers and insisting that their racist fly posters are removed from property as soon as they appear.

“Recently I condemned the appearance of a number of neo-Nazi stickers which appeared on the property of Catholics in Garvagh announcing that ‘Combat 18 is back’. Presumably that is the reason why threats have been made to torch my office or home.

“Previous campaigns to launch Combat 18 and other racist groups in the Coleraine area failed and I am determined that any future attempt will equally fail.

“The SDLP has a proud record of standing out against all forms of violence whether it is racist, sectarian or political and will continue to do so and certainly won’t be deterred by this kind of intimidation which only serves to illustrate how cowardly they really are.”

Family's care plight as race hate parents jailed

Neo-Nazis have threatened me, says Ulster assembly member

RIR soldier involved with Nazis

Racially motivated hate crime on the rise

Loyalists behind racist attacks

Why the streets of Bolton echo to the sounds of a loyalist vendetta

'Nazi' thugs march fears

Leighton's U-turn on sectarian onslaught

Maeve Connolly:

The deputy chief constable has made an apparent U-turn and confirmed that all attacks on Catholics in a Co Antrim village were sectarian.

The senior officer, who is understood to be in charge of policing at the moment as the chief constable is on leave, had provoked outrage when he suggested disputes between neighbours were partly responsible for the recent wave of violence.

Pat McGaughey, whose family is moving out of Ahoghill after their home was targeted by paint bombers earlier this week, said she was "shocked and angry" at Mr Leighton's comments.

However, in a letter to Ballymena SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan following demands for clarification of the officer's remarks, Mr Leighton wrote: "There is no question the attacks are all of a sectarian nature and only in some do other, lesser factors, feature."

He stated that sectarianism "is the fundamental issue in the Ahoghill attacks as it is in other attacks in Ballymena".

In his letter, Mr Leighton also said that actions rather than words would reassure people in the area.

The apparent U-turn came as police mounted a massive security operation in the neighbouring village of Rasharkin last night (Friday) for a major loyalist parade.

Mr O'Loan, chair of Ballymena's District Policing Partnership welcomed Mr Leighton's correspondence, adding he had sought advice from those "close to the situation" about the validity of the officer's initial comments.

"They dismissed them out of hand," he added.

Speaking to the media in Ahogill on Wednesday, Mr Leighton had said sectarianism was "an element" of a campaign against Catholic residents but people "not getting on with each other" was also a factor.

He also disagreed with claims that loyalists are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing, saying that it was "much more serious".

"There is real hatred between communities in Northern Ireland," he said.

More than 1,200 loyalists paraded through the predominantly nationalist Co Antrim village of Rasharkin last night amid a tight police presence.

Around 60 nationalists staged a protest as up to 46 bands, some with UDA and UVF connections marched through the tension-filled village.

Police jeeps, some fitted with camera recording equipment, swarmed the area and it is understood water cannon was on standby to deal with any trouble.

Sinn Féin councillor Daithi McKay, said: "Given the present environment of sectarian attacks on Catholics and nationalists in north Antrim, this was the last thing needed here."

The march came just hours after a number of Catholic businesses and homes in north Antrim area were attacked, which police are treating as sectarian.

Windows were smashed in two houses and two pubs during the early hours of yesterday at Finvoy Road and Gortnahar Road near Ballymoney, in Rasharkin's Main Street and Lisnahuncheon Road in Portglenone.

Mr McKay said the violence was designed to intimidate nationalists ahead of the parade.

However, North Antrim DUP assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr blamed republicans for "fanning" hostilities.

"I believe and have confidence a greater sense will prevail and that people will stand back from escalating this tension into violence," he said.

Also yesterday, police raided homes and searched open ground in Ballymena. No arrests were made but a number of items were removed for examination.

Bishop in village after attacks

Systematic failures

Unionists need to address some searching questions

Pressure on UK to end loyalist feud

McCord murder bid claim

Catholics fear loyalists may turn guns on them

Feud fears at Newry flute band march

North in middle of mini-civil war

Nationalists protest against loyalist march

Village wants talks about Black parade

Time for the PSNI to cut the mustard

SDLP discusses loyalist violence

Here we go again

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Irish government expects economic growth of at least 5% in 2005


The Irish economy recorded economic solid growth in 2004 but prospects for 2005 will depend on maintaining competitiveness, the government said today.

The Department of Finance's Annual Review and Outlook, published today, shows that GNP grew by 4pc in 2004, while GDP growth was 4.5pc.

Employment growth was particularly robust at 3pc or over 54,000 new jobs, the highest number of jobs created since 2001. Unemployment remained low by international standards and fell to 4.4pc.

GNP is forecast to grow by 5pc in 2005 and GDP by 5.1pc, the Department of Finance said.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen said the figures confirm that Ireland's strong economic fundamentals remain.

However, he said that historically high oil prices are being felt here and that the best way to deal with them is to maintain competitiveness. "That means that we must keep our price and wage inflation in line with our international peers and reinforces the need to continue with balanced and responsible polices in Government."

The review also shows that inflation continued to moderate in 2004. The Consumer Price Index fell to 2.2pc from 3.5pc in 2003.

In 2005, inflation is forecast to average 2.4pc in CPI terms. On a harmonised basis, Ireland's inflation rate is now running close to the euro area average following a number of years when we topped the euro area inflation league table.

For the year as a whole Ireland's HICP inflation rate is forecast to average 2.2 per cent, broadly in line with the euro area average.

Ireland's public finances also remained sound in 2004, according to the review. Even allowing for costs associated with the refund of nursing home charges, the Government expects its deficit to be no more than 1pc of GDP and exchequer borrowing requirement of not more than E2.7bn in 2005.

Government still expects 5% growth

Government maintains 2005 forecast of 5% Irish economic growth despite International risks

Wages must reflect economic growth, warns Govt

Tube revelations bring back painful memories for families

Campaigners for people whose relatives were killed by British forces during the conflict have called on the British government to learn from mistakes made here and end their shoot-to-kill policy.

The call comes after leaked documents contradict the official account of how British police killed Brazilian man Jean Charles de Menezes, having mistaken him for a suicide bomber in London last month. Amongst the revelations arising from the probe into Mr Menezes' death are suggestions that he was restrained before he was shot by officers at a London tube station on July 22.

Chairperson of Relatives for Justice, Clara Reilly, said that the British government should desist from continuing a policy which caused such grief for families in the North.

"Given the latest facts to emerge of what occurred in London, and given the judgement of the European Court of human rights in 2002, when the British government were unanimously found to be in violation of Article Two, the right to life, RFJ now call on the British government, instead of defending the indefensible, to acknowledge and learn from past mistakes made in the North of Ireland and agree on measures to make sure that it never happens again."

Clara Reilly was joined in signing a petition against the shoot-to-kill policy by Michael Reilly, brother of Thomas 'Kidso' Reilly, who was shot dead in August 1983 by the British army, and Brenda Downes, the widow of Sean Downes who was killed in August 1984 by an RUC plastic bullet fired at close range.

The Menezes killing bears some similarities to that of Thomas Reilly in that they were both unarmed, innocent men who posed no threat to the public or security forces, and became victims of a shoot-to-kill policy. Thomas' killing happened on a hot summer's day when he was stripped to the waist, and therefore not concealing a weapon.

Thomas exchanged words with some British soldiers before running away from them up the Springfield Road in the direction of Turf Lodge. Private Ian Thain took aim and shot Thomas in the back, killing him instantly. Pte Thain became the first soldier on duty convicted of murder in the North. It later transpired that he had been released and reinstated in the army after serving only two years and four months of a life sentence.

Clara says that Thomas' murder is one of many which will be painfully relived by the bereaved families in light of Mr Menezes' death.

"The shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in London brought back the painful memories for many families who have lost loved ones in numerous shoot to kill instances, claiming hundreds of lives spanning three decades here.

"The misinformation and lies immediately released to the media brings back memories of such incidents as the Gibraltar killings and that of Peter McBride," said Clara Reilly.

Chilling echoes of shoot to kill

PSNI ignored vital witness

Connla Young:

A Catholic man caught up in the sectarian pogroms currently sweeping Co Antrim has been waiting almost five months to have a vital witness statement taken by the PSNI.

Paul Johnston, who was in the home of a nationalist family when it was attacked by loyalists in March, has criticised the PSNI for failing to fully investigate the current round of anti-Catholic attacks.

Mr Johnston, from North Antrim, was in the Brookfield Gardens home of Kathleen McCaughey in Ahoghill when it was targeted by loyalists. During a terrifying incident, two loyalists kicked down the Catholic woman’s front door and ordered her to leave within 48 hours. The grandmother eventually left the house on July 11 after being attacked on four subsequent occasions.

Mr Johnston, who was involved in a relationship with Mrs McCaughey’s daughter at the time of the March incident, said the PSNI failed to take a written statement from him despite his willingness to provide one.

“I gave them my details after the first incident and then gave a verbal account to the police,” he said.

“They said they would come back to me for a statement but I have never been contacted. They know who is doing this and to me their lack of action shows they are not interested in catching these people.”

Mr Johnston, who was also in the house on another occasion when it was petrol-bombed, said that until then he had no idea of the level of violence being directed towards nationalist residents in the area. He also dismissed nationalist support of the PSNI in the wake of the attacks.

“We are supposed to be equal now with a new police force but I can’t see who is going to support a new police force like that. The whole experience was very frightening, I had never come across anything like that before. I never saw such sectarianism; it’s not right. I have never been back in Ahoghill since. If I had known it was as bad as that I would not have been there in the first place.”
A spokesman for the PSNI said they were “unable to establish” if Mr Johnston’s statement was taken.

“If this man hasn’t been contacted by now and he wants to make contact he can do so with the duty inspector at Ballymena,” he added.

In the past month, two Catholic families have abandoned their homes in the unionist village of Ahoghill after a sustained campaign of intimidation.

On Tuesday, Pat and Patsy McGaughey vowed to leave the village when their “dream” home was targeted by loyalist paint bombers. A Catholic church and primary school as well as a Catholic-owned public house in the town have also been targeted by loyalists recently.

Yesterday the PSNI’s Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton sparked a furious response from nationalist representatives by claiming that the attacks in Ahoghill were not “purely sectarian”.

Ballymena Sinn Féin councillor Monica Digney criticised the senior policeman’s remarks.

“He must be the only man in Ireland that doesn’t believe these incidents are purely sectarian. The kerb stones in Ahoghill are painted the same colour as the paint thrown at houses. These attacks are sectarian and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”

Ballymena SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said he was baffled by the PSNI man’s remarks.

“I am not aware of anything that suggests this is not sectarian. Where Paul Leighton is coming from I don’t know.”

Unionist paramilitary attacks

Loyalist march 'will heighten tensions'

SDLP unhappy over PSNI comments

A Trevor travesty

Residents call for dialogue

LVF associates warned they are being targeted

When will we hear the UVF’s real plan?

Loyalists don't want to face up to the truth

PSNI is running out of excuses

Village bids to block loyalist band parade

Irish state failing victims of collusion

Making a mockery of Irish neutrality

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

'Shoot-to-kill' suspension call

BBC News:

The family of a man shot dead by police who mistakenly suspected him of being a suicide bomber are calling for the "shoot-to-kill" policy to be suspended.

It comes after leaked documents contradicted previous accounts of the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July.

Investigation papers, leaked to ITV, suggest the Brazilian was restrained before being shot eight times.

His family say they want a full judicial inquiry to reveal the "truth".

Sir Ian Blair has described the policy on tackling suspected suicide bombers as a "shoot to kill in order to protect policy", insisting that less forceful tactics could still allow a terrorist to detonate their explosives.

The leaked documents, seemingly from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the shooting, contradict eyewitness reports suggesting Mr de Menezes hurdled a barrier at Stockwell tube station and was wearing a padded jacket that could have concealed a bomb.

They now suggest the Brazilian had walked into Stockwell Tube station, picked up a free newspaper, walked through ticket barriers, started to run when he saw a train arriving and was sitting down in a train when he was shot.

Scotland Yard had said on the day of the shooting - 24 hours after the 21 July failed attacks - that "his clothing and his behaviour at the station added to their suspicions".

Despite eyewitness reports that the suspect had worn a large winter-style coat, the version of events in the leaked documents suggested he had in fact worn a denim jacket.

Mr de Menezes' cousin Allessandro Pereira said: "My family deserve the full truth about his murder. The truth cannot be hidden any longer. It has to be made public.

"Everything we have said has been proved to be true.

"Jean was an innocent man who was shot in cold blood. We now know that he wasn't wearing a bulky jacket, that he wasn't acting suspiciously or that he was told to stop by the police.

"He was being restrained when he was shot and killed."

He said the police should have stopped his cousin before he got to the bus stop after leaving home in Tulse Hill. "He would have helped the police," he said.

"They killed my cousin, they could kill anyone, any English person."

'Shocking' blunders alleged over London police shooting

Jean Charles de Menezes, RIP

Making Excuses for Killing De Menezes

Blair lays down framework for police state in Britain

Sir John Stevens brings shoot to kill home


His only crime was to leave his house for work

Forces trained in Britain’s dirty war in Northern Ireland involved in de Menezes killing

Tyrone families launch Shoot-to-Kill petition

Britain's history of state terror

Shoot to Kill: Britain Brings Home Its Dirty War

Islamic cleric says Ireland is a 'legitimate target'

Mick McCaffrey:

A notorious British-based Islamic extremist has said Ireland is a "legitimate" target for al-Qa'ida terror attacks.

Anjem Choudary, who has close links to the infamous hate preacher, Omar Bakri Mohammed, said the use of Shannon Airport as a stop-off for US warplanes justifies Ireland being attacked.

The solicitor (38) said: "If your government wants to support the atrocities in Afghanistan they can expect some repercussions," and added that Ireland had "opened itself" to attacks from radical Muslims linked to al-Qa'ida.

Choudary even said that terrorists have the right to kill indiscriminately since American bombers did not pick and choose military targets in Iraq.

He said he was "not in the business" of condemning terrorist attacks in Britain and Ireland and added: "What you need to do is you need to be responsible and you need to look after your national security.

"If people slipped into Ireland from Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, where the Irish are standing side by side with the butcher of Baghdad, George Bush, then they would have a legitimacy for that type of thing.

"That's not my personal opinion but your asking me what it says in the Koran."

Choudary believes that Ireland has risked being targeted by opening up Shannon to planes transporting US troops to Iraq.

"Obviously if Ireland is allowing their land to be used for planes to fly and to bomb Muslims, then those Muslims will obviously have a right to retaliate, it goes without saying."

Shannon Airport must be demilitarised - Bairbre de Brún MEP

Irish protest military use of Shannon airport

Sinn Féin slams sharp increase in US troops using Shannon Airport

Army brought in to intimidate anti-war campaigners

Thousands protest across Ireland

Loyalists have warned that the Ulster Volunteer Force will ‘fight to the kill’ in a bid to wipe out a rival paramilitary group

Jarlath Kearney:

The warning was issued after a man was shot dead in Belfast yesterday morning as part of an ongoing feud between the UVF and the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Since the start of July, the UVF, which is being blamed for yesterday’s murder, has shot dead four men and wounded several others.

Following yesterday’s killing, a loyalist source told Daily Ireland that the UVF will “fight to the kill” in the feud with the LVF.

Mick Green was targeted when he arrived for work as a delivery driver at Gilpins furniture store on the staunchly loyalist Sandy Row in south Belfast.

As the 42-year-old got off his motorbike around 8.15am, two UVF gunmen shot him several times in the back.

Mr Green came from the LVF stronghold of Ballysillan in north Belfast, but some media reports disputed that he was linked with the organisation.

The UVF and LVF have a history of unresolved feuding over recent years. A loyalist source told Daily Ireland that winning the feud is now the UVF’s only short-term objective.

Efforts to encourage mediation between the UVF and LVF have so far failed.

South Belfast MP and SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell condemned the shooting as a “brutal and cowardly attack”.

“It is clear that people intent on endangering lives and livelihoods are at large in the city. It is crucial for the good of all society that those responsible for this crime are apprehended,” he said.

Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member Michael McGimpsey said everyone in the area was “disgusted” by the killing.

“It has had the trappings of a loyalist feud and we have seen over the summer the police apparently being unwilling or unable to intervene in this feud and we have seen matters basically spiralling out of control,” Mr McGimpsey said.

Rev Mervyn Gibson, chairperson of the umbrella Loyalist Commission which includes unionist political and paramilitary organisations, said that “there is not light at the end of the tunnel with regard to ending the feud”.

“There are those who are trying to talk to both sides on a daily basis to see if there is any point of common ground which can be reached. To date they are having little success,” Rev Gibson said.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey said:

“The ongoing feud has masked from public view ongoing sectarian attacks being carried out by all of the unionist paramilitary gangs across areas of the six counties.

“Given the fact that unionist politicians have for decades tolerated and in some instances encouraged the sectarian anti-Catholic campaigns of the various unionist paramilitaries it is not credible to suggest that they are powerless to act in the face of this latest feud.”

PSNI investigators said that the scene of the killing on Sandy Row would be sealed off overnight until some stage this morning.

Review call over UVF 'ceasefire'

Feuding is gangsterism says Hain

Where are the police as death count rises?

Terror Reign Of Loyalists Must Be Halted Now

Feuding madness

Family forced to leave their home amid series of 'shameful' sectarian attacks

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

'Sunday' Rifles Discovery 'Deeply Disturbing' - Says Victim's Brother

Derry Journal:

A relative of a teenager gunned down on Bloody Sunday has branded as "deeply disturbing" revelations that rifles fired by soldiers in Derry that fateful day have been found - despite claims they had been destroyed.

It emerged at the weekend that three British Army weapons used to shoot unarmed civilians in Derry's Bogside on January 30, 1972 have been recovered in Beirut, the United States and Sierra Leone.

It was earlier this year that it was revealed one of the weapons used by paratroopers in Derry was uncovered in Sierra Leone.

It has now been confirmed that two other weapons have turned up in a police station in Beirut and in a gun shop in Little Rock, Arkansas.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael (17) was among those gunned down on Bloody Sunday --said he found the revelations "deeply disturbing."

He said he suspected the "hand of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) at work." "Nothing surprises me when it comes to the MoD," said Mr. Kelly. "They have, at every turn, tried to disrupt and mislead the quest for truth and justice surrounding Bloody Sunday.

"The story as regards the guns used on Bloody Sunday has changed on so many occasions that it's hard to be surprised any more.

"However, what is deeply disturbing is the distinct possibility that guns used to murder innocent people in Derry may well have subsequently been used for other murderous acts."

Bloody Sunday Rifles Are Found

Bloody Sunday rifle found in Sierra Leone

Loyalists threaten to burn Catholics

Ciaran Barnes:

Catholic families living in a new mixed housing estate in Dunmurry have been warned they face being burnt out of their homes unless they leave the area.

Threats, believed to have come from the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), were written on walls throughout the Redwood estate in Dunmurry on Wednesday evening. Developers are in the process of building 200 properties in the area, around 50 of which are currently occupied.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Paul Butler believes the UDA in the loyalist Seymour Hill estate, which is next to Redwood, is trying to drive Catholics out of the area.

He said, "When the first stage of development was completed at Redwood last year, the UDA sprayed graffiti around the estate warning Catholics not to buy houses.

"I have no doubt the UDA is behind these latest threats. For years Catholics in this part of Dunmurry have been victimised by paramilitaries determined to turn the areas next to Seymour Hill into loyalist ghettoes."

Last week a home in Redwood was petrol bombed in what locals believe was a sectarian attack. In the summer of 2004, a number of Catholic children were assaulted outside a garden centre in the area, and in 2003 loyalists from Seymour Hill crucified a Catholic car thief on a wooden fence after catching him breaking into vehicles in the area.

Fourth man shot dead in loyalist turf war

Loyalist vendetta

Thomas's murderers 'are UVF members'

Two cases in point

Ulster Resistance spectre

Couple leaving home after attack

Monday, August 15, 2005

The British told their agents to assassinate India's independence war leader Subhash Chandra Bose in 1941

BBC News:

Eunan O'Halpin, who has written several books on British intelligence, says the order came after Bose sought support of the Axis powers in World War II.

British agents were told to intercept and kill Bose before he reached Germany via the Middle East, Mr O'Halpin says.

Bose is believed to have died in a plane crash in Taiwan in 1945.

Mr O'Halpin says that once they found Bose was planning to oust the British with active support of the Axis powers, British intelligence was given "clear orders" to assassinate him in 1941.

In a lecture in Calcutta, Mr O'Halpin cited a recently declassified intelligence document referring to a top-secret instruction to the Special Operations Executive (SOE) of British intelligence to murder Bose.

Mr O'Halpin says the British were initially puzzled about the whereabouts of Bose after his escape from Calcutta in January 1941.

"They thought he had gone to the Far East, but they soon intercepted Italian diplomatic communication and came to know Bose was in Kabul, planning to reach Germany through the Middle East," said Mr O'Halpin.

"Two SOE operatives in Turkey were instructed by their headquarters in London to intercept Bose and kill him before he reached Germany," the Irish professor, who teaches at Trinity College, Dublin, said.

Mr O'Halpin said the SOE operatives in Turkey failed to because Bose reached Germany through Central Asia and the Soviet Union. "Every time [the operatives] checked back, headquarters told them the orders were intact and Bose must be killed if found."

Describing the decision as "extraordinary, unusual and rare", Mr O'Halpin said the British took Bose "much more seriously than many thought".

He added: "Historians working on the subject tell me the plan to liquidate Bose has few parallels. It appears to be a last desperate measure against someone who had thrown the Empire in complete panic."

Other historians who have worked on Bose say this will add to the mystique of India's most charismatic independence war figure.

"Bose would have reasons to compliment himself if he knew that the British were desperate enough to plan his assassination. That's a measure of how seriously they took him," says Calcutta historian, Lipi Ghosh.

In retrospect, she says, the British had correctly assessed the potential of Bose.

Sugata Bose, Gardiner professor of history at Harvard University and a grand-nephew of Bose. said: "Since he ultimately managed to swing the loyalty of the Indian soldiers to the national cause from the King Emperor, they had all the reasons to contemplate the worst."

After 20 years in the Indian National Congress, Bose was elected its president but quit in disgust at Gandhi's plans for non-violent struggle.

After reaching Germany he travelled to East Asia in a 90-day submarine journey to set up the Indian National Army from soldiers who had surrendered to Japan.

Bose's army fought with the Japanese in the Imphal-Kohima campaign in 1944-1945.

Prof claims British ordered Netaji dead

'Britain ordered assassination of Netaji'

The Irish economy would not be face a "calamitous collapse" if oil prices reached US $100 a barrel, according to Davy Stockbrokers


The report, which plays down some recent commentary suggesting that Irish economic growth would be jeopardised because of high oil prices, also says that even with current prices and the trend of higher interest rates, economic growth will remain strong.

The report from Robbie Kelleher and Rossa White said media coverage last week hinted that the rise in oil prices to date had reached a point where it might seriously impair the performance of the economy.

"Clearly, oil prices at the USD85 or USD100 a barrel level would probably cause one to revise down forecasts for growth in the Irish economy, but we would still be a long way from foreseeing the calamitous collapse which some media reports already suggest is imminent."

The impact of rising oil prices could be seen in the rise in the CPI for July, but said that "other inflationary influences appear to be exceptionally benign. In addition, nominal incomes are rising at around 5pc, numbers in employment are increasing by close on 4pc, and income tax rates have been reduced.

"Hence, in spite of the 50pc increase in oil prices, real spending power in the Irish economy will improve significantly this year."

Rude health of economy should offset oil fears

Harney digs a deep hole for McDowell

Vincent Browne:

The vigour and relentlessness with which Tánaiste Mary Harney digs holes for herself is impressive, but what a cavern she has created for Minister for Justice Michael McDowell when he returns from his holidays in Australia!

One way or another, she wants the Colombia Three behind bars for a very long time, either here or back in Colombia.

Neither the facts nor legal constraints may get in the way.

The facts are these. The Colombia Three were charged, convicted and sentenced for using false passports in Colombia. James Monaghan and Martin McCauley used false British passports, while Niall Connolly used a false Irish passport.

There is no evidence that they used false passports other than in the circumstances that gave rise to their conviction in Colombia. They may well have used other false passports to get themselves back to Ireland, but there is no evidence of that.

One way or another, there is no evidence that either Monaghan or McCauley broke any Irish law regarding passports.

So how could they be arrested and charged here for passport offences?

In the case of Connolly, there is no evidence that he committed any crime in relation to an Irish passport, other than the crime for which he was convicted and sentenced, for which he served a term of imprisonment in Colombia.

Is it being suggested that he be charged, convicted and sentenced for the same offence, that he be punished twice for the same thing?

I don't think the Irish Supreme Court would buy that one.

On the terrorist training charge, it is true that they were convicted on this charge by a Colombian court, that they absconded from the Colombian jurisdiction to avoid serving the 17-year sentences that were imposed, and that the Colombian authorities want them returned.

But the question is: was that conviction fair? Was it arrived at in accordance with rules of justice we could stand over?

Were proper legal procedures applied?

The men were found not guilty by the judge who heard all the evidence, assessed the testimonies and reliability of the various witnesses and entertained all the legal submissions from the parties in the case.

The evidence against the men was threefold:

forensic evidence of traces of explosive substances on the men's belongings immediately after they were arrested, having flown from the Farc-controlled zone in Colombia

the evidence of a witness who said he saw the three men training in January 2001

the evidence of a second witness who said he saw the men training Farc operatives on various dates in late 2000 and early 2001.

The forensic evidence was given by a ‘consultant' at the US embassy, who was the first person contacted by the Colombian military on the arrest of the men.

He conducted two tests. The first found traces of explosives and cocaine on the men's belongings; the second found traces of only explosives.

This man did not show up to give evidence at the men's trial. Colombian forensic experts who tested the men's belongings immediately after the American did so found no traces of explosives.

An English forensic expert who gave evidence for the defence described the American's evidence as “rubbish'‘.

The American had failed to calibrate properly the forensic equipment he was using, and simply did not have the knowledge or expertise for the tests he purported to conduct.

So no go on that front.

As for the witness who saw the men training Farc operatives in the use of explosives in January 2001, there was also a problem there.

Connolly was able to show that he was in Cuba in January 2001.While there, on January 17, he attended a dinner in Havana hosted by the first secretary of the Irish embassy in Mexico, Sheila Murphy.

Also at that dinner were three Irish parliamentarians: Jim O'Keeffe TD, the Fine Gael justice spokesman; Clare Fine Gael senator Madeleine Taylor-Quinn and former Fianna Fail TD Ben Briscoe.

Monaghan was able to show that on all the dates specified by the other witness he was in either Dublin or Belfast.

He had video footage to prove that. In one instance, he even had video footage of a seminar - as it happened, on Colombia - attended by two Irish women who had lived in Colombia, and one of whose sons had been murdered by Farc.

There was some discussion on Farc; no one expressed any sympathy for the organisation.

Subsequently, questions arose about the date of this video, and there were suggestions that it had been tampered with to disguise the date.

But in the course of the videoed discussion, a person referred to that day's newspaper and cited a particular article, again on Colombia, which anchored the date of the video conclusively.

So no go with either of the two witnesses.

The judge, having heard all the evidence, observed the witnesses and heard the submissions, found the men not guilty on the terrorist training charges.

Not only that, but he was so unimpressed with the evidence of the two witnesses that he ordered an inquiry into whether they had committed perjury.

By our standards of justice, that is enough. Once a person has been tried and acquitted by a competent court, that is it, over and done with. But not in Colombia, or the mind of Mary Harney.

The case was appealed to a three-judge court. The three judges consulted the transcripts of the original trial.

They heard no witnesses or submissions, and were in no position to evaluate the credibility of any witnesses or follow through with questions of their own to the witnesses.

On the basis of their private deliberations, they concluded not just that the men were guilty, but that this was a certainty. The certainty test is required in Colombian law for acquittals to be overturned.

So certain were the judges that one of them said he was not certain at all and that the original acquittal should stand.

The two other judges insisted that the witnesses who the trial judge thought might be perjurers had to be believed, and the discrepancies in their evidence could be explained by the fact that they had lived outside “civilisation'‘ for so long that they did not know what day it was.

On the basis of their belief that the witnesses were credible, the judges said that the contention of the Colombia Three that they were in the Farc area simply to observe the peace process was simply not credible.

Of course, the men's contention that they were in Colombia to observe the peace process and smell the roses is hard to believe. I, for one, can't believe it. I suspect they were there for other purposes. But unsubstantiated suspicions have no place in our legal system.

Defendants are convicted on the basis of evidence, not of suspicion, and in this case there is no reliable evidence to substantiate the terrorist training charges. Neither do the procedures of the appeal process of Colombia command any respect or trust.

For a court to overturn an acquittal without having heard any evidence or submissions or examined the key witnesses is a travesty of fair judicial procedures.

Harney's insistence that the verdict of this court should now be validated by the Irish legal system is the cavernous hole that awaits the Minister for Justice when he returns from his summer frolics.

McDowell's already low estimation of Harney's political skills will not have been improved by her performance over this.

Demands haven’t gone away

Devolved government is vital for North's economy

Killing ‘sectarian’

Irish in Britain facing ethnic name change

Sir John Stevens brings shoot to kill home

Froth and fluff nonsense is typical Blair

Irish-Americans lobby for Three

Harney act made fiasco worse

Three men, three stages of political response

New opportunity for lasting peace

Tight security as dangerous wreckage is decommissioned

Unionists fearful of move away from military economy

Bombs linked to feud

Proconsul is too fond of vertical pronoun

IRA statement in a Basque light

Usual suspects take the lead

Politics of colonisation come home to roost

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Scottish universities target 'fees refugees'

Donald MacLeod:

Scottish universities, faced with a falling population at home, are to target students in England in the hope of picking up "fees refugees" when top-up fees are introduced south of the border next year.

A low birth rate in Scotland means a falling number of school leavers with no upturn in sight. This year the number of candidates taking Highers and Standard Grade - equivalent to GCSEs - fell, mainly due to declining numbers of pupils.

The number of students in S5 (17-year-olds) fell 0.6% but the number of 16-year-olds dropped by 2.4%.

This suggests that although Scottish exam results were better this year, the pressure on university places in Scotland during clearing, which starts with A-level results next week, will not be greater. Scots pupils did better, but there are fewer of them chasing places.

And although politicians in the Scottish Parliament have been quick to raise the spectre of universities being swamped by English students seeking to avoid top-up fees of up to £3,000 a year, some universities are seeing this as good way to preserve numbers and standards.

Students from England going to Scottish universities now pay £1,200 a year upfront; this is due to rise to £1,700, and more in the case of medicine. Scottish domiciled students pay a £2,000 contribution after graduating.

Scottish universities will market themselves as cheaper than England even with a four-year degree, and will also offer to take English students straight into the second year if they have good A-level grades.

At Dundee University, Gordon Craig, the admissions director, said: "We want the best students, and with the birth rate falling in Scotland, the last thing we want to do is to antagonise students from England.

"We are mounting a big initiative to encourage English students to come into the second year of degree programmes if they have 300 points [three Bs at A-level]," he added.

Dundee will also be offering 30 £1,000 bursaries for students taking "advanced entry" into the second year. There will be special academic support, and help to allow them to adjust socially so they don't feel left out of groups of students who already know each other, said Mr Craig.

At Stirling, Professor John Field, the deputy principal, predicts that falling numbers will pose a problem for Scottish universities.

Traditionally Stirling has taken a lot of students from Northern Ireland but the universities there are expanding and they also have the option of the Republic where tuition fees have been abolished.

"We will have to pay much more attention to English students," said Professor Field. "If there are bright working-class kids from families who have jobs and just get hit by fees, we would very much welcome that. We think it is good to have students from a variety of backgrounds, including different parts of the UK," he added.

Apart from promoting the university in England, including visits to schools, Stirling is seeking to raise its profile in the "new Europe" - that is, countries such as Poland and the Baltic states. "That is going to be an interesting area for us," added Professor Field.

Different regions of Scotland will be affected differently by demographic decline. Aberdeen University faces a particular problem because the population of the city, where it has always recruited strongly, is predicted to fall by 7.6% by 2008 and 22.6% by 2018.

"As a northern city dependent on the local population for students we are going to have to be even cleverer at marketing than we have been," said Clare Sender, head of admissions for Aberdeen University.

Her team has been undertaking detailed analysis of current students to try and identify students elsewhere in the UK who might be attracted to apply. The university is also looking to Europe, with marketing at exhibitions and school visits.

Of course, Scottish universities would not have to go through all this time, effort and expense to recruit students if the British government would just relocate their colonists in the north of Ireland to Scotland. Apparently, they would rather see Scotland suffer than bring an end to British colonial rule in the north of Ireland.