IRISH NEWS ROUND-UP
Tuesday-Wednesday, 20-21 May, 2003
1. PROTESTS MOUNTED AGAINST ELECTION CANCELLATION
* 'Cheer up', say Governments, Haass
2. Young Catholic mother warned of sectarian attack
3. RUC destroyed shoot-to-kill evidence
4. UVF coup installs new leadership in Derry
5. Students protest return to fees
6. Dublin feels pain of job losses
7. Feature: 'Stakeknife' turns out to have blunt British blade
8. Analysis: They cancel elections and kill 'their own' citizens
>>>>>> PROTESTS MOUNTED AGAINST ELECTION CANCELLATION
* 'Cheer up', say Governments, Haass
The Irish and British governments have sought to put a positive
light on the recent breakdown in the peace process, despite the
British government's recent cancellation of elections in the
North of Ireland.
US envoy Richard Haass has also sought to lighten the mood amid
nationalist anger at the British government's departure from
democratic norms and the 1998 Good Friday peace Agreement.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair cancelled the elections in a
bid to protect Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and the
nationalist SDLP from a decline in electoral support. The two
governments have insisted the political vacuum which has now
opened up can be filled by more talks.
"I see no reason whatsoever for people to be discouraged. We've
had a setback .. but this is not a crisis," Mr Haass insisted, on
a visit to Belfast this week.
But reports of a new round of talks have been dismissed by Sinn
Fein, who are organising protests against the British
government's cancellation of elections in the North of Ireland.
Republicans have called for a day of action on May 29 in cities
and towns across Ireland to protest against the cancellation of
the Belfast Assembly election.
This week's meeting between British Secretary of State Paul
Murphy and Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Brian Cowan failed
to come up with a date for future elections. It emerged that "the
autumn" would be the "target" for elections.
A press conference following the meeting was dominated by Sunday
newspaper allegations about the alleged IRA informer
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness described the meeting as "a
failure". He said suggestions of further talks were not a
serious attempt to fix current problems.
Mr McGuinness expressed anger "that the British government has
cancelled the elections, shut down the political institutions and
created a dangerous political vacuum".
"I think any suggestion that meetings will be held by the two
governments with the parties over the coming period is all
nonsense really," he said.
Mr McGuinness said "the autumn" could stretch from the end of
September right through to the end of December.
"This is a nonsensical approach. It is not going to resolve the
difficulties," he said.
"The messages that I need to hear and the people I represent need
to hear is that the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party are
committing themselves to the full and faithful implementation of
the Good Friday Agreement.
"We need to see David Trimble take on the rejectionists in his
"We need to see him face down Ian Paisley. Opinion polls do tell
us that whatever the feeling of the unionist voter at any
particular time there is certainly a view that two thirds of the
unionist community would like to see the peace process work.
"The big difficulty is that there is an analysis out there that
one third of the unionist community is for the agreement, one
third is against and another third of people have varying views.
"It is to that last third that unionist leadership has not given
He pointed out that the process was "going nowhere" unless the
unionist leadership was prepared to "embrace and promote change
on this island".
Under the most recent legislation rushed through the British
parliament, the election could still be allowed to proceed at any
date this year. Mr McGuinness called on people to come out on 29
May and demand the right to vote.
Announcing details of an islandwide day of action, in over 30
cities and towns, to protest the cancellation of the May
elections and to call for the elections to go ahead in June, he
"Next Thursday, 29 May, hundreds of thousands of people
throughout the Six Counties should be going to the polls to elect
108 Assembly members and a new cross party Executive," he said.
"Instead, the British government have cancelled the elections,
shut down the political institutions and created a dangerous
"The cancelling of the elections is wrong. It is undemocratic. It
is disenfranchising the people of the Six Counties. And it was
taken against the wishes of those representing the majority of
the electorate in the north and the Irish government.
"The British government cancelled the elections because they
believed the outcome did not suit their gameplan. That is
"I want to urge people to come out on May 29th and peacefully
demand your right to vote by joining protests in your local area.
"It is time for people to reclaim our democratic rights. It is
time for people to reclaim the peace process."
Events have been organised for over 30 towns and cities
throughout Ireland, while supporters of Irish democracy are also
planning events in London, America and elsewhere.
A two-week campaign to highlight the suspension of the Assembly
elections is currently underway in Dublin.
On Saturday, members of Ogra Shinn Fein occupied the offices of
the British Tourist Board last Saturday, as part ofa number of
protest, rallies and occupations culminating in a massive
assembly outside the British Embassy on 29 May.
Ciaran Doherty, one of the Ogra members inside the building, said
that the occupation was held to expose Britain's ongoing denial
of democracy in Ireland.
"For 30 years Britain has engaged in a dirty war that has
resulted in the deaths of many people," he said. "But even as
these covert and murderous dealings in Ireland are being exposed,
the British are subverting democracy by cancelling elections in
the North. These elections should go ahead in June."
The picket and occupation lasted for almost two hours, and was
well received by the Dublin public.
>>>>>> Young Catholic mother warned of sectarian attack
A 20-year-old Catholic mother has been warned by the PSNI that
unionist paramilitaries have plans to burn her out of her
Tandragee Road home in Portadown.
The young women, who is too terrified to be identified, and her
18-month-old son are now living with relatives after the PSNI
warned her on Friday 9 May of an imminent attack on her home.
A confidential letter delivered to the woman by members of the
PSNI said they were in receipt of information that suggested she
was going to be "burnt out" because she is a Catholic.
A sister of woman said she fears for her life after the threat:
"She is afraid to move and live somewhere else in case these
people find her. She is in a state of shock at these sectarian
threats against her and her young son."
Sinn Fein's Dara O'Hagan said this latest sectarian threat was a
worrying development, "particularly in the Portadown area, which
is already blighted by sectarian attacks directed against
"This is a terrifying experience for anybody to have to go
through, especially given the cu rrent political climate and the
fact we are into the run up to the marching season in Portadown
and the Six Counties and all the tensions associated with it."
'ATTACKED BECAUSE WE ARE CATHOLICS'
A Catholic couple say an attack on their home in the
predominantly unionist village of Drumahoe near Derry City was
The couple and their ten-day-old baby were asleep in the Old
School Field estate when their home was attacked by loyalists
with paint bombs and stones at around 2.10 am on Tuesday 13 May.
A downstairs window was broken during the attack.
The woman said her partner was seen wearing a Republic of Ireland
football top, which she thinks prompted the sectarian attack on
The woman described the attackers as cowards and she will not be
intimidated out of her home.
>>>>>> RUC destroyed shoot-to-kill evidence
A spokeperson for the PSNI police told a Dungannon court on
Tuesday that vital documents relating to the SAS killings of
three IRA Volunteers in Coagh County Tyrone were destroyed by the
The proceedings are part of a preliminary hearing to determine
the relevance of material being requested by legal
representatives of the families of seven IRA Volunteers and
76-year-old Roseanne Mallon, shot dead by loyalists. It will
eventually allow a coroner to properly examine the circumstances
surrounding the deaths.
Volunteers Tony Doris, Lawrence McNally and Pete Ryan died
instantly on 6 June 1991, when the car they were driving through
Hanover Square in Coagh, Co Tyrone, was riddled with more than
200 bullets and burst into flames. SAS gunmen fired into the
crippled vehicle for more than ten minutes from at least eight
Less than a year later, on Sunday 16 February 1992, another four
IRA Volunteers were shot dead by th e SAS in Clonoe, Co Tyrone.
They had just carried out a machinegun and rifle attack on the
Coalisland RUC barracks, and were removing the 12.7mm machine gun
from a vehicle mounting when the SAS opened fire.
Again, the firing continued for at least ten minutes. After it
abated, one Volunteer managed to struggle to his feet, his hands
in the air to surrender. The SAS opened fire a second time and he
fell, fatally wounded.
Volunteers Patrick Vincent, Kevin Barry O'Donnell, Sean O'Farrell
and Peter Clancy were all killed that day. All of them were under
23 years of age.
Roseanne Mallon, a pensioner from Lisgallon Co. Tyrone, was shot
dead by the UVF as she watched television at the home of her
sister-in-law in Killymoyle on 8 May 1994. A gunman fired through
the sitting room window of the home, hitting Roseanne four or
five times in the back as she sat in a chair. Her sister-in-law
later confirmed the blinds on the front windows of the house had
been raised at the time. "They knew they were hitting an old
woman," she said.
Two months after Roseanne's death, two surveillance cameras were
found in a nearby field, pointing directly at the house where she
had died. The RUC later issued a statement saying there was no
video evidence relating to the killing.
This week, a PSNI spokesperson told the coroner that the
"original notes of questions and answer sessions with soldiers
involved in the Coagh killings, and some forensic notes, and
other statements had been destroyed".
Coroner Roger McLarnon told the court that the documents were
"central to the court" and that this was "clearly
"When had these been destroyed and under what authority?" he
The PSNI told the court the evidence had been destroyed in 1996
while in Gough Barracks. It was claimed that the documents had
been stored in an area that had been contaminated by asbestos
dust and therefore, in the inter ests of Health and Safety, had to
The coronor challenged this statement, asking, "would it have
been proper to seal the material and make copies?" He requested
that "the principal parties that took these decisions clarify for
the court why this had not occurred".
A spokesperson for Relatives for Justice said: "The central
issues in all these cases is that the MoD and the PSNI are
withholding vital material both from the coronor and the
families' legal teams. This has been ongoing for just over a
year. The claims today have moved beyond previous claims of
public interest and are both bold and breathtaking. They are also
"To at this stage introduce or offer this excuse in an insult to
our intelligence. When these documents were first sought over a
year ago, this claim did not arise. Now, when the coronor might
seek to rule that they are relevant to the inquests, it is
revealed they have been destroyed?"
Relatives for Justice has raised the matter with the Irish
Department of Foreign Affairs on request of the familes, and has
asked the Dublin government to raise the issue with their British
Eugene McKenna, the lawyer representing some the families
involved, said the startling admission is only the latest in
attempts by crown forces to thwart the push for a full formal
"My major concern is that this comes on the heels of a statement
by the MoD, in which they said they had no documentation on any
of these cases. We're expected to believe this operation did not
generate any documents that would have been archived. It's
In a statement, a spokesperson for the family of Pete Ryan said:
"The Ryan family are outraged at the mere suggestion that the
"interview notes" were destroyed due to a health risk at Gough
"We believe this to be the lamest excuse from the Ministry of
Defence for not supplying informa tion which is important to the
inquest. Indeed, we are not surprised that such a revelation has
"We would be interested to know why, after 15 months' hearings
the MoD have managed to 'pluck' this one out of the air."
>>>>>> UVF coup installs new leadership in Derry
Fears of a serious feud within the ranks of the unionist
paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force in Derry have abated,
according to Progressive Unionist Party spokesperson Billy
Reports at the weekend that up to ten loyalist families were
forced to flee their homes in UVF strongholds in the Waterside
area of Derry in the past week came as fears of a full blown feud
was about to erupt in the city.
Divisions emerged in the UVF in Derry and the loyalist leadership
moved quickly to get rid the local leadership after it emerged
that a row developed over the proceeds of UVF robberies.
There was concern among UVF leaders in Derry that proceeds from
robberies had not been passed to the organisation but instead had
gone into the pockets of individual members of the UVF.
It was reported on Friday 16 May that six men were arrested in
connection with the feud after members of the PSNI swooped on
houses in the Lincoln Courts, Nelson Drive and Irish Street in
the Waterside area.
Hutchinson says he has been given assurances that the dispute
within the leadership of the UVF in Derry has ended after a new
regional leadership had been imposed on the Waterside UVF by the
paramilitary leadership in Belfast.
Meanwhile, UVF members from North Belfast and South Antrim were
behind the kidnapping of a father and his 11-year-old son in the
early hours of Thursday 15 May from their home in Greenisland on
the outskirts of North Belfast.
The child was bundled into the boot of the family's car, where he
remained for nine hours while his father was driven to a house
where he was burnt with cigarettes and beaten by the loyalist
The man was released in Carrickfergus and ordered to bring a
#30,000 ransom to nearby Newtownabbey four hours later.
When the man arrived at Ballyduff Brae in Newtownabbey, he was
met by a man on a motor bike who took the money and gave the man
the keys to his own car. The man was instructed to go to Knockagh
Monument, where he discovered his son locked in the boot of a
It has also been reported that the UVF were behind the extortion
of #10,000 from a Chinese businessman, when two men appeared
before Belfast's Magistrate court on Monday 19 May.
Thomas Spence, 37, from Posnett Court and William Alexander
Robinson, 40, from Killaney Avenue in Lisburn, were accused of
demanding money with menaces and inviting the businessman to hand
over the money 'for purposes of terrorism'.
A PSNI detective told the court he believed the money was being
collected on behalf of the UVF and that the businessman had been
forced to hand over money on three previous occasions.
The pair were remanded in custody to appear via video link on 16
>>>>>> Students protest return to fees
Students in Dublin turned to radical action this week to protest
at Minister for Education Noel Dempsey's proposed reintroduction
of third level fees, and the slashing of the Back to Education
In a day of protest on Tuesday, students chained themselves to
the railings in front of the Dail, occupied the lobby of the
Department of Social and Family Affairs, and barricaded
themselves into a room in the Department of Transport. The events
took place at different times of the day to ensure maximum
Colm Jordan, President of the Union of Students in Ireland said
tha t direct action was the only course left for
"We have been nothing but reasonable in our approach to this," he
said. "We've sat down with politicians, we've obtained policy
proposals from most political parties, TD's have put forward
motions in the Dail for us, we've even met with the Minister and
he told us that he would consult with us.
"But then what happens? Everybody finds out on the front page of
a national daily that figures for fees are already being
discussed. I think what we've witnessed is an Oscar winning
performance on behalf of the government."
The reintroduction of the fees is being hyped by the government
as a way to improve access to colleges. They claim this will be
made possible through the redirection of the fees to those who
cannot afford to enter third level education, a claim hotly
disputed by the Students union.
"Fees are simply a revenue raising device, first suggested at a
time when the government is intent on hiking indirect taxes and
user charges," Colm argued. "It has nothing to do with improving
access to third level for anyone, and as such is a regressive
rather than progressive measure."
Noel Hogan, Campaigns Officer for USI, says the mere existence of
fees will be a disincentive to going to college.
"The lower your income the greater the disincentive will be," he
said. "If you come from a low income background it is difficult
to face the prospect of three or more years of full-time study
rather than entering the workforce, without the prospect of
significant loans to repay after it.
"The government's case is based on the proposition that the only
money available for tackling problems at primary and second level
must come from the existing overall education budget. This is a
profoundly flawed argument that ignores that the basic problem in
Irish education is a lack of overall funding."
The students occupied the lobby in the Department of Social and
Family Affairs specifically to highlight Minister Mary Coughlan's
slashing of the Back to Education Allowance. The allowance which
was cut by 25%, was available to the long-term unemployed,
independent parents and people on disability allowance.
Mike Power, a student in UCD who is married with four children,
said that the decision is going to have a deep financial and
social impact on people like him and their families.
"Making the return to full-time education has not been easy for
me, but having got this far, I really do want to complete my
studies in science at UCD," he said.
"Back to Education Allowance students have had their dreams
shattered by a government that has reneged on all its election
promises while acting with hypocrisy."
The BTEA students were informed three months after the decision
was taken and just five weeks before exams, in what Noel Hogan
said, is a callous attempt to restrict appeals.
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