English Language News

01.01.2003 to 27.01.2003


Reports obtained from:
(1) RM-Distribution, (2) Irelandclick.com, (3) Sunday Business Post,
(4) Irish Democrat, (5) Irish Examiner

Wednesday-Friday, 1-3 January, 2003

Friday, 3 January, 2003

Sunday, 5 January, 2003

Sunday, 12 January, 2003

Sunday-Monday, 12-13 January, 2003

Friday, 17 January, 2003

Sunday, 19 January, 2003

Sunday-Tuesday, 19-21 January, 2003

Wednesday-Thursday, 22-23 January, 2003

Sunday, 26 January, 2003

Friday-Sunday, 24-26 January, 2003


Wednesday-Friday, 1-3 January, 2003

British doomsday plans revealed

By RM Distribution

A plan to forcibly expel most of the Catholic population from the northeast of Ireland was secretly considered by British officials in 1972, it has been revealed.

Government papers from 1972 not considered threatening to national security were released in London and Dublin over the New Year.

The documents have revealed that the British government was contemplating further and greater war crimes following the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in January of that year.

A nightmarish ethnic cleansing plan to carve out a Protestant-only statelet has come to light. The plan was to completely expel Catholics from a boomerang-shaped area from east Donegal around north Derry, Antrim and Down to the Monaghan border while abandoning Derry City, Fermanagh, most of Tyrone and south Armagh.

Half a million Catholics were to be dumped out of British rule in the operation, including a quarter of a million driven out of a new Protestant homeland.

"To transfer the whole of the territory west of the River Bann would put 238,000 Catholics and 227,000 Protestants into the Republic," the report calculated, as it considered the options.

The concentration of Catholics in Belfast was problematic. The authors fretted that despite the setting up of "an avowedly sectarian statelet" in the Protestant rump, the consolidation of Catholics in Belfast "would be likely to create a permanent Catholic armed camp." It also expressed concern that "the Republic would surely not accept 500,000 Catholics without land for them to live on."

The officials who drew up the astonishing plans were doubtful that they would work. They said that such transfers of population would meet "great resistance" and the government must be prepared to be "completely ruthless in the use of force".

Fifty thousand troops were to be drafted in to implement the ethnic cleansing operation. But the certain conflagration and international outrage which would have resulted encouraged the British Cabinet to drop the plan.

However, Heath's successor as leader of the British Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher, returned to the repartition plan as late as 1984, according to former Irish premier Garret Fitzgerald. He said she was talked out of it by her officials.

The idea was branded a "crazy plan" by Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness yesterday.

"It was an act of lunacy to even contemplate going down that route. What is really scary about the revelations is the total inability of the British government to plan for a resolution of the conflict we were enduring at that particular time," he said.

"People might be surprised to know there is considerable agreement between myself and Lord Kilclooney [former Ulster Unionst Deputy Leader John Taylor] on this. This was a crazy plan," Mr McGuinness said.

It was not just nationalists and republicans who should be alarmed by the border plan, he said.

"I think the big message for many unionists when they look at papers such as these is that the British government will do whatever is expedient for it in political circumstances."

'TOTAL VICTORY'

It was also revealed that in March 1972, Heath's foreign secretary advocated a united Ireland as the long-term solution in a private letter to Heath. However, no documents relating to this possibility have been released.

An alternative plan suggested using the British Army to inflict a major "violent shock" in the hope of forcing a cowed people into submission.

The British Prime Minister Ted Heath was told the British Ministry of Defence had prepared a "secret contingency plan for the worst consequences".

The British Army planned to place the Six Counties under martial law and, with huge numbers of troops brought over from Germany, it was envisaged that "a direct military assault upon extremist-dominated Roman Catholic areas" would secure "total victory over the IRA".

This was to be "coupled with a neutral, if not acquiescent, attitude towards the activities of the UDA [loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association]".

The plan suggested a major assault on republican areas to "put an end to violence and give them a violent shock in the hope of avoiding anarchy and of forcing them to agree upon a solution".

The plan was eventually toned down and led to the recapture on July 31st of areas in Belfast and Derry under IRA control. Miraculously, only two died in the military clampdown known as "Operation Motorman".

During the operation, fifteen-year-old Daniel Hegarty was shot twice in the head at close range by a British soldier using a General Purpose Machine Gun in the Bogside area of Derry.

Britain's Secretary of State for Defence Lord Carrington and the soldiers immediately claimed that Hegarty was armed --but after thirty years, the British government last month finally admitted that this was not the case.

'EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED'

Some details of the tentative and ultimately doomed negotiations between the British government and the IRA in the summer of 1972 have also been made available.

The talks -- authorised by British Secretary of State William Whitelaw despite a public pledge not to talk to the IRA -- took place in secret on June 20 in a house near the Irish border at Ballyarnett, according to the papers.

A republican delegation included Daithi O Conaill -- recorded as David O'Connell by the British -- and a 23-year-old Gerry Adams.

The British officials said there was "no doubt whatever" that both O Conaill and Adams "genuinely want a ceasefire and a permanent end to violence". Their comments about the hardships of life on the run were considered significant by the British negotiators, who had expected bombastic anti-British sentiment.

The talks were "informal and relaxed" and the republican delegation was "respectable and respectful", the surprised officials wrote.

However, further talks involving the British Secretary of State William Whitelaw two weeks later fared much worse. Whitelaw was overwhelmed by the encounter, it was revealed.

The official note of the meeting recorded Whitelaw's immediate dislike of IRA Chief Sean MacStiofain and said Whitelaw as "emotionally exhausted" by the talks.

Whitelaw was unnerved by MacStiofain's call for the British government to state their intention to withdraw from Ireland. The meeting made little progress.

Whitelaw "was clearly depressed at the outcome of the meeting and had found the experience of meeting and talking to Mr MacStiofain very unpleasant," the notes recorded.

Further negotiations never materialised and a week later, the British government met to discuss their doomsday scenarios for a final solution to the crisis in the North.

SUNDAY AFTERMATH

The released papers also provide a look at Anglo-Irish relations throughout the turbulent aftermath of Bloody Sunday, when 13 civil rights demonstrators were shot dead in Derry by British soldiers.

The full transcript of a telephone call on the night of the atrocity between the then Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Jack Lynch, and the British premier Ted Heath has been released. It confirms that Lynch apologised to Heath for disturbing him and his protestations were disdainfully dismissed by Heath, who blamed the civil rights marchers for defying public order legislation banning the parade.

He refused to blame the devolved parliament at Stormont for its clampdown on civil rights protests and identified the source of the trouble as "the IRA trying to take over the country".

The public burning of the British Embassy in Dublin following the massacre was a source of further conflict between the two governments. However, the papers reveal that Heath vastly overestimated the hostility to Britain of the Fianna Fail government of the time.

Expecting a major dispute between the two countries over the reimposition of direct rule from London, the Heath government planned to implement punitive sanctions on the Dublin government and its citizens, including obligatory identity cards for the estimated 800,000 Irish living in Britain; work permits; trade restrictions; financial penalties such as expelling Ireland from the sterling area, and the freezing the Irish official reserves of Stg220 million.

The Irish government agreed to pay for the damage to the embassy and expressed regret for the actions of the demonstrators. Lynch also welcomed the introduction of direct rule and the suspension of the Belfast administration.

Martin McGuinness said that the archives confirmed "for all of us who have for many years been of the view that successive British governments effectively left the north of Ireland to the unionists as a unionist parliament for unionist people".

"You can clearly see right through the introduction of internment and through the killings of Bloody Sunday, that the British government at that time were not in any way psychologically prepared to face up to the inequalities, the discriminations and the domination the Catholic community endured," Mr McGuinness said.

It was clear that the IRA was not seen by the government as its only enemy, he added.

"It's very clear that they regarded republicanism, nationalism and Catholicism as the enemy in the north of Ireland," he said.


Friday, 3 January, 2003

Blair Trying to Defend Indefensible in McBride Murder - Mark Durkan

By Andrea McKernon, Irelandclick.com

A date has been set for the next round of a long-running legal battle to have the soldier killers of Peter McBride dumped from the British army.

The Court of Appeal in Belfast will hear the case on January 16 and 17. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is facing increasing calls to discharge two convicted murderers after 20,000 postcards were printed to be sent to 10 Downing Street at Christmas.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan who recently met Jean McBride in her home in the New Lodge says he has written to every political leader in Ireland asking them to back his bid to scrap the careers of the Scots Guards who shot dead Belfast teenager Peter McBride in September 1992.

The former Deputy First Minister has also written to Gerhard Schroeder, the head of Germany’s government, where the two men have recently been based, asking him to raise the case with Tony Blair.

Mark Durkan said: “Jean McBride`s son, Peter McBride, was shot in the back by two British soldiers, Guardsmen Fisher and Wright, ten years ago. Despite being convicted of murder, they were never discharged from the army and they continue to serve in the army to this very day,” he said.

“Seeing the soldiers being given early release was difficult for the McBride family, but they accepted it in the context of the peace process. But what they cannot accept – and should never have to accept – is that the two murderers are kept on in the British army. That is a total affront to basic human rights.”

Peter McBride (18) was killed by Guardsmen Mark Wright and James Fisher close to his home after they searched him and he ran away. The court threw out claims by the soldiers that he was carrying a coffeejar bomb.

They were convicted of murder in 1995 by released three years later and allowed to rejoin their regiment.

The McBride family launched a legal fight to overturn the British Army Board’s decision. However, their latest judicial review application was rejected by the High Court in April.

Mark Durkan has pledged to increase pressure on Tony Blair to expel the two men from the army.

“I have already written to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, highlighting the terrible wrong done to the McBride family,” he said.

“His response has been dismissive as he has tried to defend the indefensible. I have also called on him to meet the McBride family – as they were promised would happen. Yet no meeting has occurred.

“The time has now come to take this case a step further. The McBride family have asked me to write to all of the political parties on the island of Ireland asking them to raise this case with Tony Blair. I hope that they will all speak with one voice about the injustice done in this case.

“Nowhere else in Europe would murderers be found fit to serve in an army. Murder is murder. It doesn’t matter who carried it out; it should be treated equally seriously. This case will not go away,” he said.


Friday, 3 January, 2003

2003 must be a turning point

Editorial, Irelandclick.com

2002 came to an end with the brutal killings of two young men David Cupples, who died on Christmas Day, and Jonothan Stewart murdered after a Boxing Day party.

It was a depressing end to a depressing year for North Belfast, which finished as it began with UDA violence dominating the headlines.

The continuing UDA bombing and assassination campaign against Catholics plunged this community into grief in 2002 with the murders of two young men, Daniel McColgan and Gerard Lawlor.

The sectarian violence peaked in the summer but the murder of David Cupples and a recent gun attack on two Catholic youths at Cliftonville Circus are stark reminders that there can be no room for complacency about this.

The biggest threat to peace continues to come from a now much-fragmented UDA, which has drifted further and further into organised crime, operating brothels, drugs and protection rackets, and fighting turf wars to carve up the pickings.

North Belfast has also become increasingly remilitarised over the last year. British army and PSNI patrols have increased dramatically and several huge CCTV spy cameras have been erected, ironically most of them are trained on nationalist areas.

The increased sectarian tensions have also disrupted all attempts at regeneration of the North of the city, putting increased pressure on social services and much-needed housing has been abandoned by families on interfaces who just can’t take any more of the violence and intimidation. And during a world economic downturn, forcing many local businesses to trim their sails, sectarian intimidation of workers outside Teletech during the summer did not send an encouraging message to other potential investors.

The collapse of the political institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement in the Autumn in a welter of allegations of an IRA spy ring and unionist threats to bring the Assembly down if the British government moved further on policing has made the task of rebuilding even more difficult. It would be easy to become disheartened in the face of all this but that is not an option.

Political stability is a must if we are to consolidate the peace process. It is vital that our political leaders show the same imagination and determination in the tough talks ahead to achieve the full implementation of the Agreement.

Making the Agreement work will require major movement from all parties involved, particularly from the British government, and Unionists will need to embrace the changes required for a just and egalitarian society.

But there will be challenges too for nationalism and for the Republican Movement, in particular, if the British government meets its responsibilities on demilitarisation, on human rights and equality and on the key area of policing.

But we also have a golden opportunity next year to help shape the future of North Belfast as the Partnership Board begins to deal with applications for Urban II funding for training. This is a one-off opportunity that will not come our way again.

We have to ensure that our community and business sectors use this opportunity to ensure that our young people have the skills to compete on a level playing field when investment opportunities come our way.

Building and developing the skills base of our young and our workforce is one of the most concrete ways we can bring hope back into this community.

We have the people, the talent, the energy, the commitment and the desire to do better in North Belfast. We need to harness all of that to make 2003 a turning point for this community.


Sunday, 5 January, 2003

Friendly persuasion the next step to new Ireland

Analysis

By Martin Mansergh, Dublin

It requires a certain stubbornness or complacency in either community in the North to put all one's faith in maintaining or establishing a demographic edge, and none in the power of political persuasion or evolution.

Demographics alone will not secure any constitutional future. Friendly persuasion (not threats, not intimidation) will be needed as well.

As the Downing Street Declaration put it, it is up to those who want a united Ireland to persuade those who don't, and the same goes for those who prefer the status quo.

As has been widely observed in recent weeks, the Good Friday Agreement sought to concentrate the focus of political activity on the governance of the North within the framework of wider relationships.

The system of shared responsibility fully involving both communities could, as SDLP leader Mark Durkan has repeatedly emphasised, carry over -- even if there were to be a change in constitutional status, like the rights and citizenship sections of the Agreement, where this is explicitly stated.

The intention was to relegate to the sidelines irreconcilable constitutional differences, which for a long time prevented any political progress, accommodation or peace in the North.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has always been very clear, as demonstrated once more in last Sunday's interview in The Sunday Business Post, that the real chance of peace and a progressive resolution of the problem through the Good Friday Agreement should not be prejudiced by a constant reversion to fundamental positions under electoral pressure.

What is still missing from the situation is sufficient respect on either side for the other main tradition, notwithstanding the progress in co-operation.

Nationalists and unionists both believe, not without with some justification, that the validity of their tradition is discounted by the other, and that their identity today, let alone in the future, would be systematically overridden in the absence of its constant, forceful and even aggressive reassertion.

Unionists in the North still encounter in places the attitude that they are intruders who wreaked havoc on an older and nobler civilisation, and whose future presence is far from essential.

Nationalists, equally, have long had to endure crude racialist and sectarian prejudice from some quarters.

Both know that in the wrong circumstances the lingering hatreds can be lethal, and no responsible government in these islands can be content to let them take their course.

The most serious mistake that can be made is to underestimate the determination of most people in each tradition to maintain their presence and identity.

It is a commonplace in Irish historical writing today to note that republican patriots and leaders of nationalist Ireland, from Tone, O'Connell and Parnell, down to Collins and de Valera, grossly underestimated the staying power of the Orangemen, and, later, Ulster unionism.

Very few of the founding generation active at the time of partition would have credited it with lasting 80 years to date, with no definite end in sight.

Faced with the collapse of Stormont between 1969 and 1972 and the bitter divisions within unionism ever since, it was easy to make the mistake of believing it to be on its last legs, requiring only a concerted push, be it political, be it paramilitary, be it forceful British persuasion, for it finally to crumble.

Even today it is possible to put far too much faith in the fairly rapid, but so far not decisive, change in the demographic balance, to bring about a Catholic nationalist majority for a united Ireland of 50 per cent plus 1.

The combined electoral support for the SDLP, Sinn Féin and any independent nationalist/republicans is a much more reliable guide to support for a united Ireland than opinion polls, which are notoriously inaccurate in the context of the North.

But greater or near-even balance between the main religious communities is a more likely scenario, over the next two decades, than the early emergence of a new majority.

Observers and participants in the south can try to delude themselves and others that a united Ireland is inevitable and only a question of time, when all that experience should teach is to be extremely wary of such wishful thinking.

Regardless of rhetorical flights and restatements of fundamental goals from time to time, the political leaders of Northern nationalism and republicanism are, in my experience, realistic about the difficulties and length of time it may take before any such change can take place.

There may also be a division between those who believe it is productive to chivvy and cajole the perceived trend of history, and those who prefer the gradualist and open-ended approach to political and constitutional development that is at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement.

But if nationalism has often miscalculated the strength and endurance of unionism, the miscalculations of unionism with regard to nationalism have been and continue to be enormous.

It is very hard to credit at this distance the vehemence to the point of civil war of the Ulster unionist rejection of Home Rule in 1912-14 -- an historic compromise which would have kept the entirety of a devolved Ireland within the Union.

Unionists assumed that a separate self-governing Ireland would be quite unviable.

Yet even a 26-county state, overcoming some serious vicissitudes along the way, has turned out, at several different levels, to be one of the success stories of the 20th century, and more particularly of the European Union.

Economic viability, financial self-sufficiency, entrepreneurial ability and success, and attraction to investors, once regarded as mainly the preserve of the North, are far more obviously to be observed south of the border today, confounding assumptions about the superiority of the Protestant ethic.

Cultural diversity, religious freedom, the demand for higher standards in public life and tolerance of highly critical and non-conforming opinions are the hallmark of a southern Irish society that is determined to continue driving forward.

There are, of course, many deficiencies, many things that need to be done (or undone), but the dynamic for progress exists.

While we would like to include the people of the North in this, the extent of their participation, or alternatively their movement along parallel tracks, is a matter for them collectively.

The real challenge for unionism is not just demography, but to continue convincing the Protestant people of the North, and some Catholics as well, against a lot of evidence to the contrary, that the British link is as vital as ever for their survival.

Some of their leaders are beginning to recognise that outlandish misrepresentation of the south, as if this state were still stuck somewhere between the 1920s and the 1950s, is not the best way to go about it.

If unionism has any sense, it will promote the advantages of enjoying the best of both worlds that the Good Friday Agreement offers the North.

It is surely far better that local control be reinstated, even if it means coming to terms with whomever the nationalist community elects to represent them, and with an acceptance that, while seeking acts of completion, a total democratic transformation will only come gradually.

One of the most urgent priorities for the North and unionism is to get on top of dissident loyalism, which has infected some of the mainstream organisations, because, along with the suspension of the institutions, it is seriously undermining confidence in the North.

If the North cannot be made to operate more smoothly and satisfactorily, with comparable results to elsewhere, captive political support for it may begin to waver or simply cease to turn out.

Other controversial or hardline political belief systems and power structures disappeared not because they were ever really defeated, but because they simply ceased to offer their most obvious beneficiaries a satisfactory society any more.

There may come a point when the price for those trying in practice to stay apart politically from the nationalist community and the rest of the people of Ireland simply becomes too high.

Working the Good Friday Agreement represents a much safer bet.

Copyright © 2003 Sunday Business Post, Ireland


Sunday, 5 January, 2003

Papers show IRA was Lynch's crucial asset

Analysis

By Tom McGurk Dublin

Even 30 years on it is difficult to read the papers being released in Dublin, Belfast and London without a deepening sense of despair. 1972 was the bloodiest year in the history of the Troubles, with a total of 470 dead, including 323 civilians. Of these, 121 were assassinated -- 81 Catholics and 40 Protestants.

It was the year that began with Bloody Sunday, followed by the prorogation of Stormont and Bloody Friday. As the year ended, the Diplock Courts were under way and internment was being phased out. The long security haul was under way. It was to end a decade later in the tragedy of the Long Kesh hunger strikes, with thousands dying in between.

In retrospect, 1972 marked the first meetings between the two determining forces at the heart of the crisis: Edward Heath's Conservative government in London and the Army Council of the Provisional IRA. Looking back, it is remarkable how both of these parties were paralysed by their respective cultures and histories, almost unable to deal with the complexity of the crisis facing them.

Heath's government was the last hurrah of a Tory generation that had first come unstuck at Suez, and was -- even in 1972 -- a strong believer in simple solutions to complex problems.

Not long after it went to war with the IRA, the same instincts led it into war with the miners and the infamous winter of discontent. Unable to grasp the inability of Ulster Unionism to accept the need for radical change, and equally inclined to accept the wisdom of the generals in dealing with the security crisis, it embarked on a twin policy of involving moderate nationalism, and crushing radical nationalism. It took 20 years and thousands of deaths before it saw the policies' futility.

Led by the late Seán MacStiofáin, the Provisional Army Council of the IRA in 1972 was equally devoid of political sophistication. Long after he was deposed -- and particularly then -- MacStiofáin's simplicities continued to dominate IRA thinking. `Bombing the Brits out' and the notion that eventually British political will would break was the height of the political sophistication of the time.

It was a panacea that ignored the unionists of course, the price that civil society in the Republic and the North would pay. Most dysfunctional of all, it totally disregarded the need for political structures that would allow for British disengagement.

If Heath and company were victims of imperial instincts, MacStiofáin and company were equally victims of post-imperial instincts.

Like dogs in the after-light of British- Irish history, they might still be circling each other had not wiser heads opted for the peace process, recognising that, for both sides, a war you couldn't lose was also a war you couldn't win.

Although not recognised at the time, the months between the Stormont suspension in March 1972, and the Cheyne walk meeting between the British government and the IRA in July of the same year, were our last window of opportunity before the winter of violence set in.

I remember at the time that MacStiofáin, of his own volition, had dismissed the prorogation of Stormont as `irrelevant' within hours of its announcement. It was a measure of his political ignorance that he couldn't recognise the profound change that had occurred, and the opportunity it opened up.

By the time the July ceasefire talks occurred he was -- in the words of Frank Steele, the MI5 agent present -- "dictating surrender terms to us like Montgomery at El Alamein". Tragically for all present, London took one look and decided they could not do business with the Provisionals.

The outcome was a British policy which sought to unite the various strands of Irish nationalism in supporting a militant policy against republicans, in return for power-sharing in the North.

Dublin, London and the SDLP engaged with elements of unionism in a variety of initiatives that all fell apart over the succeeding decades. And we now know the principle reason why they fell apart: British security policy ensured there was always enough Republican resistance to wreck any initiative on the ground. It was a policy of power-sharing on one hand and H-blocks in the other.

Hindsight is always a dangerous trap, but the same question repeatedly emerges out of the annual haul of state papers of this period: the extraordinary failure of Dublin government policy to seek an alternative `Irish policy' solution to the problem.

After all, the long-term political objectives of both republicans and nationalists were common, but the dispute was over methods. The policy of isolating and confronting the IRA was begun by Jack Lynch in 1972, but actually left Dublin with a similar -- if marginally less dangerous -- problem to the one London faced with in the North. It resulted in a similar political stalemate North and South.

At no time was any attempt made to use the wider moral pressure of the Irish to seek an end to violence, or to engage the IRA in dialogue which could have resulted in the consensus that finally emerged on Good Friday 1998.

In the face of the Northern crisis Jack Lynch retreated into `26-county protectionism', and ignored the wider Irish nation's desire for a real political alternative to British pragmatics.

Ironically, Lynch's political powerlessness -- evident through these 1972 papers -- would have been radically transformed had he sought to achieve a non-violent consensus with the republicans instead of mere security containment.

In hindsight, the IRA were his greatest problem, but also potentially his greatest political opportunity. It would have given him real political bargaining power in his visits to Downing Street.

In fact it was his controversial heir, Charles Haughey, who secretly initiated the new consensus policy that was seminally delivered on by Albert Reynolds, and which ultimately led to the Belfast Agreement.

In the years between Seán MacStiofáin and Gerry Adams, the IRA was locked into a desperate political ghetto, erected around it by London and Dublin. The 1972 state papers spell out its miserable architecture and we all lost as a result.

Copyright © 2003 Sunday Business Post, Ireland


Sunday, 12 January, 2003

Lynch failed the country in time of crisis

By Vincent Browne Dublin

There is a phalanx of the media and academic establishment that will not allow a suggestion that Jack Lynch was the author of a particle of the wickedness and misfortune we have suffered in the last 30 years.

The contention that Charles Haughey was not alone the progenitor of corruption, iniquity and disaster that befell us, is regarded as akin to sedition or stupidity.

Not even the revelations concerning Jack Lynch's wimpishness in the face of British obduracy on the very evening of the massacre of Bloody Sunday makes any difference, apparently. This was calculated patriotic forbearance.

Was it forbearance on Jack Lynch's part on the night of Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972, in his telephone conversation with the British prime minister, Ted Heath, to miss the main point of what happened on Bloody Sunday: that the response of the British army to an illegal march, in murdering 14 Irish people, was criminal?

To simper, "I admit that", when Heath thundered -- as though it were a justification of what occurred -- that the march was illegal? To propose meekly that marches be banned, when Heath challenged on what should be done?

Yes, Lynch did timorously suggest that the British should assume direct responsibility for security in the North. Big deal, especially as it was security forces directly under the control of the British government that perpetrated the crimes of Bloody Sunday.

Had the transcript of the Lynch-Heath phone conversation on that night been disclosed in the days following Bloody Sunday, Jack Lynch would have been hounded from office, not by the Provos and their supposed fellow travellers, but by the mass of `moderates', including the likes of George Colley and, even, perhaps, the usually loyal Dessie O'Malley.

Is it remotely believable that when Jack Lynch otherwise `confronted' Ted Heath during those difficult days, he didn't behave in a similarly simpering manner?

That he ever expressed the rage of the Irish people over the barbarism of British forces, whatever the provocation?

That he ever told Ted Heath what to do with himself as he (Heath) made yet another imperious demand that the Irish government bolster the corrupt regime then in power in the North?

Jack Lynch had contributed handsomely to the debacle of the arms crisis of 1970. He had failed to give leadership and direction to his government in the autumn of 1969 in the wake of the perceived `pogrom' of Catholic areas in Belfast. He allowed confusion to prevail within his cabinet on the support that should be given to beleaguered nationalists in the North.

When he was informed in October 1969 of the plan to give guns to people associated with the IRA, he did nothing. (He was informed of this by the secretary of the Department of Justice, Peter Berry, and there is independent verification, apart from Berry's papers, that this was so.)

When, at last, in late April 1970 he confronted Neil Blaney and Charles Haughey about what was going on, he backed off and told his cabinet that the issue had been resolved.

He fired the ministers a few days later only when the leader of the Opposition, Liam Cosgrave, went to him with evidence of the smoking gun (it transpires the guns in question could not even smoke).

And now we know (actually we have known for two years, for the transcript of the Health-Lynch phone conversation was released by the Saville enquiry in 2001, but no matter) how pathetically he represented the rage of the Irish people over what happened on Bloody Sunday.

He is widely credited by the establishment phalanx with saving the country from civil war. The only evidence for this is circumstantial: there was no civil war and he was in power at a volatile time.

But precisely what did he do to avoid imminent civil war, and how, precisely, was civil war imminent?

He was the Mr Clean of Fianna Fáil, we are told. But Taca, the Fianna Fáil fundraising outfit, was in full flight when he was leader, and most of those associated with corruption in Irish politics were his acolytes: Ray Burke (Burke voted with the Lynch establishment against Charles Haughey in the 1979 leadership election); Liam Lawlor (a fully paid up member of the Lynch camp) and, of course, the debonair Frank Dunlop.

And then the worst depredation of all, the worst certainly of Irish politics of the last 40 years: the 1977 Fianna Fáil election manifesto and the ensuring ruination of the state's finances in the few years that followed.

What was done then set the seeds for the mass unemployment and mass emigration of the 1980s, the degradation of the health services and the impoverishment of a large section of the population.

By far the worst of Charles Haughey's ravages was his contribution to the devastation of the lives of hundreds of thousands of Irish people by his vacillation and recklessness in the period from January 1980 to June 1981, when he was removed from office.

But what was done in the period from 1977 to 1980 was far worse -- and it was Jack Lynch who presided over that.

As a human being Jack Lynch had many fine qualifies -- he was charming, warm, self-effacing and kind (Charles Haughey has many fine personal qualities too, although warmth and self-effacement would not be prominent among them). But as taoiseach Jack Lynch was indecisive and weak.

And as to whether he or Charles Haughey made the greater contribution to Irish life -- no contest. Charles Haughey set the ground for the peace process, and for the economic boom that has recently been compromised by his successors.

Copyright © 2003 Sunday Business Post, Ireland


Sunday-Monday, 12-13 January, 2003

Analysis: Reinstate the assembly now

By Irish Democrat

Bobbie Heatley, writing in the Irish Democrat, argues that the immediate reinstatement of the Belfast assembly is in interests of the peoples of Britain and Ireland

All forward-thinking and progressive people in Britain should be demanding, in their own best interests, that Tony Blair restore Northern Ireland's devolved assembly at Stormont. October's suspension marked the fourth such intervention by Blair at the behest of Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble.

Trimble had been attempting to serve two masters: the British government, which wished to preserve a watered-down and drip-fed Good Friday agreement for its own purposes; and the strong anti-reformist wing of backwoods Orangemen in his own party, the UUP.

Faced with the prospect of his removal as UUP leader, Trimble submitted to his party's steadily advancing No camp in late September.

The growing band of anti-agreement UUP members had given him the choice: carry on acting as a conduit for the British government, doing its bidding against your own deep-felt wishes and ours, or else come back into the fold and serve us in the way that we would like.

Knowing that his career as party leader and Northern Ireland first minister was effectively over if he gave the wrong answer, he chose the latter and became their captive, speeding over to Downing Street as their messenger boy to put a peremptory demand to the British prime minister.

No longer interested in the decommissioning of IRA weaponry, he instead demanded that the organisation disband immediately and the halting of key Good Friday reforms, including the government's promise of further moves towards a full implementation of the Patten report on policing.

If that were not done, he threatened, the UUP would walk out of the Stormont executive in January, thereby causing its collapse.

ust why it had become so frantically urgent for the IRA to jump to a stricture from the UUP, Trimble has not yet managed to tell us.

The No-men have made full use of the predictable media furore over the convenient and as-yet unproved IRA spying allegations, as well as the impending trial of three republicans held in Columbia and attempts to link republicans to the Castlereagh break in.

Yet even intelligence sources conceded that there were no signs that the IRA had any intention of initiating a new war.

The organisation clearly supports the Good Friday deal and the peace process, and it has co-operated with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning in putting guns beyond use on two occasions.

Things were clearly moving in the right direction and more such steps were in the offing So why did the UUP feign panic? As Bill Clinton might have said: 'it's the election, stupid.'

Under the terms of the agreement there will be new assembly elections in May 2003. As a result of the UUP's obstructive approach to change and Trimble's failure to champion the benefits of the Good Friday agreement, he has allowed Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party to creep up and overtake him in the propaganda war.

Even those in the UUP whose attitude to the Good Friday deal is lukewarm toleration have shown signs of alarm at the very real possibility of losing their assembly seats -- and the more than tolerable salaries that go with them.

Some have already been de-selected by their constituency parties and others, have attempted, chameleon-like, to don Paisley's rabid anti-agreement colours.

Trimble's main objective in his mad dash over to Downing Street had been to secure Sinn Fein's expulsion from the Stormont executive.

Had he been successful he would have taken comfort from being able to take the UUP into the election on the basis that they were above rejectionist reproach because they were 'not in government with Sinn Fein'.

Blair refused Trimble's request knowing that it would have meant scrapping the Good Friday agreement altogether -- something which he is unwilling to contemplate given the difficulties and dangers associated with any attempt to start again from scratch.

Besides, such a move would have required cross-community support and the SDLP was never going to commit hara-kiri by going back to accepting a minority status for nationalism.

However, since the UUP did not wish to go into the election as partners in government with Sinn Fein, Trimble appears to have convinced Blair that a further suspension of the assembly could help revive the UUP's flagging fortunes.

As things stand, if elections are allowed to go ahead, the next Northern Ireland assembly looks set to be dominated by Sinn Fein and the DUP, the latter's stated objective being to scrap the agreement and replace it with something else, as yet unspecified -- though it doesn't take a genius to predict that what ever emerges will be inimical to the interests of Irish nationalists.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein have said that they will not enter into futile negotiations only to end up with something that is guaranteed to be less favourable to their interests than they already have.

Despite the arrival of a few optimistic press pundits who opine that the DUP, were it to become the majority party within Unionism, might prove -- under Peter Robinson's leadership -- to be more pliable than most people expect, it is difficult to see how an assembly dominated by the DUP and Sinn Fein could work in practice.

Although much will depend on developments between now and January, there is a prospect of direct rule for a long time to come.

Meanwhile, Trimble is doing his best to cosy-up to the war-mongering right-wing Bush regime, seeing in it a bird of the same feather.

Wherever it is, whatever it is, unionism will be forever tied to the oligarchs in opposition to the democracy of the people.

None of that is in the interests of the reviving British labour movement, or indeed, the British people as a whole.

* The British-based Irish Democrat newspaper is online at http://www.irishdemocrat.co.uk

Copyright © 2003 Irish Democrat, Ireland


Friday, 17 January, 2003

One Man, One Vote

Editorial, Irelandclick.com

It’s a long time since the catchcry above went up at civil rights marches across the North.

But if the latest reports from the electoral office are to be believed, thousands of young nationalists have been denied a vote by new registration rules which were supposed to combat fraud but which seem more likely to disenfranchise working class nationalists: the very people, of course, who vote overwhelmingly for Sinn Féin.

For some time, there’s been a suspicion that there exists within officialdom senior civil servants who would do anything to disenfranchise the young nationalists whom they see turning to Sinn Féin in ever-greater numbers.

Having failed to defeat Sinn Féin at the polls, they have now reverted to what they do best: blocking nationalists from gaining the vote.

In the Southern states of America, backwoodsmen used similar tactics to keep blacks off the voting register.

That they were ultimately unsucccessful was testament to the campaigns by courageous civil rights workers. Campaigners in that same mould are needed now to go from door to door in nationalist areas to ensure that every man-Jack — and woman-Jane — entitled to a vote is on the electoral register. To do otherwise is to allow the the bigots to roll back the change they so fear.


Sunday, 19 January, 2003

Dublin-Monaghan: will the truth finally out?

By Donal O Maolfabhail, Dublin

May 17 will be the 29th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings which killed 33 people in 1974. By then Judge Henry Barron's report into the tragedy will finally have been published.

The report will shift the question of illegal activity by British military intelligence in this state during the Troubles from the realm of speculation to that of fact.

Sources close to the Barron Inquiry are confident that the final report will pack a significant punch against the British government. The inquiry has obtained strong new evidence that would indicate, at the very least, a willingness of certain sections of the British military to engage in grave undercover actions, north and south of the border.

A senior member of the British army serving at the time has stated to the inquiry that it was his belief that loyalists could not have carried out the attack themselves.

This would tally with the view held by some that the bombing was an operation hatched by Britain's military intelligence and aimed at putting pressure on the establishment in the Republic to adopt more repressive measures against republicans.

The Barron Inquiry has no powers to request information or compliance with the inquiry, and is entirely dependent on the voluntary co-operation of others.

Despite the Taoiseach's recent affirmation to the Dáil that the Northern Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy, had assured him material would be forthcoming from British sources, the level of cooperation from the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been minimal.

It was recently reported that a former bomb intelligence officer, Major Maynard, who was stationed in Lurgan at the time, was, on the advice of the MoD, not cooperating with the Barron Inquiry. This is equivalent to a former senior garda refusing to co-operate with the Omagh investigation.

Last year the British ambassador to Dublin, in response to a report in the Irish Times, wrote a letter to the paper denying that the MoD had at any stage advised former British military personnel not to cooperate with the Barron Inquiry. No denials have as yet been forthcoming from the British Embassy with regard to Maynard.

However, the inquiry is expected not to shy away from drawing adverse inferences, if a lack of co-operation from the MoD is perceived as being part of a cover-up.

Despite the lack of MoD evidence, the inquiry has still managed to make some very interesting findings.

A security memo, prepared for the British government in October 1971 and now in the hands of the Barron Inquiry, states that the IRA was operating at a very high level of intensity and that the border was practically open.

The document states that in order for Britain to gain full control of the border, an estimated additional 18 to 29 battalions would be required. According to the memo, this would mean withdrawing troops from other parts of the world, which would be an embarrassing admission within Nato.

The memo therefore outlines three options as to how the army should proceed. These options give some insight into British government thinking at the time.

The first option of maintaining the status quo was dismissed on the basis that it would not appease extreme unionists, bringing nearer the "unpalatable" prospect of direct rule.

Option two recommends abandoning political progress and adopting a tough policy, introducing an identity card system and curfews, closing borders and imposing a form of martial law. This was ruled out on the basis that it might lead only to a pyrrhic victory over the IRA.

The third option recommends removing the restraints on operations of the General Officer in Command in Northern Ireland. This, the memo states, would include an intensification of border operations. (Any cross-border operations would have come under the heading of border operations.)

The memo states that the third option should be implemented.

The first car bomb attributed to loyalists and detonated south of the border exploded on May 13, 1972, six months after the memo was written. In the same year the chief of staff of the Irish army, Major General Thomas O'Carroll, sent a memo to the then minister for defence, Garry Cronin, stating that dealing with the possibility of "incursions into the Republic by organised Security Forces or partisan elements from N Ireland ... would require an increase in military strength and more border patrols".

The Barron Inquiry has in its possession documentary material which corroborates assertions that members of the security forces in the North did, on a repeated basis, engage in improper conduct -- for example, supplying certain loyalist terrorists with explosives and non-standard firearms for deniability purposes.

As part of its investigation, the Barron Inquiry has commissioned a number of scientific studies into the bombings. One of these reports, conducted by a British Army bomb disposal expert, has concluded that the material for the 74 bombs may have come from the IRA.

According to recent newspaper reports, the three car bombs in Dublin used crystallised ammonium nitrate. This home bomb-making technology was known to the IRA but was not at the time used by loyalists.

According to statements made in the Dáil, 812 unauthorised incursions by security forces from Northern Ireland into the Republic were recorded between March 1970 and May 1985.

Judge Barron's inquiries into illegal criminal activity by British military intelligence in this state has led him to examine a number of other murders and bombings that occurred in this state, outside his terms of reference.

However, the inquiry's terms of reference do not allow Judge Barron to make any recommendations on his findings. On completion, the report will be presented to government, which will pass it on to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights.

The committee will then decide whether a full public inquiry into the matter should be established.

If the evidence contained in the Barron report is as strong as indicated, any Irish government would be morally and duty bound to set up a full public inquiry to protect the sovereignty and people of this state.

Other cases being examined by the Barron inquiry

Judge Barron's investigation into British Military Intelligence involvement in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings has led him to examine at least five other bombing incidents and two assassinations which also occurred in this state during the Troubles.

Copyright © 2003 Sunday Business Post, Ireland


Sunday, 19 January, 2003

How loyalists got the bombs to Dublin

By Sunday Business Post, Dublin

The Dublin bomb incursion was an elaborate, complex plan, involving members of the UVF and UDA, according to submissions received by Judge Barron and seen by The Sunday Business Post.

Many of those involved in the bombing, such as Wesley Sommerville, Robert McConnell, Billy Fulton, Winston Fry, RJ Kerr, Frenchy Marchant and Billy Hanna, are now dead.

However, another is living in England, probably in Cheshire, and another remains in Portadown.

Two others, also believed to have taken part, live in Tandragee and Portadown respectively, according to the submissions which state that two senior RUC officers, and members of the British army, were also instrumental in the operation.

At least one of the loyalists involved was a serving member of the UDR, at that time a regiment of the British army.

According to the documents, the three bombs that exploded in Dublin had been stored at a farm close to Glenane Lake near Portadown, three miles south of Markethill.

The farm could be observed easily from the road, so the bombers kept activity there to a minimum.

On the morning of May 17, 1974, five cars stolen in Belfast were driven to the premises of a car dealer one mile south of Portadown.

It is believed the bombers thought it too risky to assemble the bombs in the garage. Instead, five different drivers were chosen to drive the cars, minus bombs, to Dublin. First to leave were two `scout' cars, followed shortly afterwards by the other cars, in which the bombs would eventually be placed.

That same morning Robin Jackson, better known as the Jackal, loaded the three bombs onto his poultry truck at the Glenane Lake farm and drove to Dublin.

The use of Jackson's truck would partly explain why the bombers were prepared to drive stolen cars that retained their original number plates. As the cars had no bombs on board, if caught, all they risked was being charged with the theft of the cars.

The submissions state that Jackson and others had been stopped at a garda checkpoint at Hackballscross, a week before the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

The submissions are less clear as to what happened once the loyalists reached Dublin. It is believed Jackson and the five drivers met up at either the Coachman's Inn near Dublin Airport, or the car park at Whitehall Church in Dublin. The bombs were then transferred from Jackson's vehicle to the three designated cars.

The submissions state that the bombs were then armed and the cars driven into the city centre, where they were later detonated.

The Monaghan bomb, the documents state, was assembled in the home of Harris Boyle at Festival Road, Killycomonie, Portadown. The bomb was then driven by two UDA members to Monaghan.

The getaway car for this operation was driven by a third person.

After the operation they returned to the farm where the Dublin bombs had been stored.

The men subsequently moved to Scotland. One has since returned to Portadown, the other remains in Ayrshire in Scotland.

Harris Boyle was one of those later killed when a bomb prematurely exploded during the Miami Showband incident on July 31, 1975.

Copyright © 2003 Sunday Business Post, Ireland


Sunday-Tuesday, 19-21 January, 2003

Thursday meeting  'Most crucial yet' - Adams

Adams meets Ahern as concern mounts for GFA

By RM Distribution

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said that Thursday's meeting between the Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the British Prime Minister "will probably be the most crucial meeting yet in the peace process".

Mr Adams was speaking after a party delegation met with Mr Ahern and Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen. Also on the Sinn Fein delegation were Martin McGuinness MP, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA and Ard Chomhairle member Rita O'Hare.

The British government's failure to fulfil outstanding commitments under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble's refusal to share power with Sinn Fein unless the IRA essentially disbands remain the central issues in a deepening crisis.

The IRA has said it remains committed to the peace process, but recently described the latest unionist demand for its disbandment as "unacceptable and unrealistic".

The British Prime Minister has acknowledged his government's failure to fully implement the Agreement, but has backed Trimble with a call for "acts of completion" by the IRA.

During the meeting Mr. Adams spoke to the Taoiseach about "unhelpful" briefings which he believed were coming from government sources in relation to current difficulties, and emphasised the "urgent" need to re-instate the political institutions and end the current impasse in the peace process.

Other items which were discussed were the recent 26-County government cutbacks in Irish language funding and the Electoral Office fiasco in the Six Counties which has led to the disenfranchisement of almost 200,000 people.

"We are at a very important point in the process and we are very concerned at the lack of progress and lack of substance in the discussions to date," Mr Adams said. "The British government haven't shown a willingness, beyond rhetoric, to deal with outstanding matters. There is still no evidence that they are going to fulfil their obligations on a range of issues including policing, demilitarisation, human rights and equality.

"Thursday's meeting between the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will probably be the most crucial meeting yet in the peace process.

"The outcome of this meeting will be pivotal in indicating whether it will be possible to move forward in the process at this time. And there is a huge responsibility on Tony Blair in this regard. We need to see an action plan from the British government for the implementation of the Agreement, including the substance of outstanding issues, timeframes and the management of the process to bring all of this about.

"There is a lot of work to be done and Sinn Fein's commitment to securing the successful implementation of the Agreement is absolute. Others need to engage in the process with the same urgency."

Speaking to journalists earlier, Mr Adams dismissed a report that a significant IRA move was imminent. He said he was "gravely concerned" at the claims made in weekend newspaper reports that pointed to a major move in the next few weeks.

"I am gravely concerned and I intend to raise this as a serious matter that there appears to be an ongoing briefing to media, obviously coming from Dublin," he said. "It is most unhelpful".

Mr Martin McGuinness also repeated his belief that the the next six to eight weeks of talks were the most critical in the last hundred years of Ireland's history.

Mr Ahern travels to London on Thursday for a meeting with the Ulster Unionist Party leader, Mr David Trimble, followed by talks with Mr Blair.

Talks between the governments and most of the North's political parties are scheduled for January 30th in Belfast.

The Ulster Unionist and Progressive Unionist Parties refused to participate in multi-party talks in Belfast yesterday. The Democratic Unionist Party has refused to take part in any talks on the Good Friday Agreement.

Meanwhile, a time of grave political uncertainty continues to be undermined by concerns the British government may postpone scheduled elections to the Belfast Assembly on May 1 to prevent an unfavourable result. It is now five years since the Assembly was elected and an election is required under existing legislation. However, during recent crises, the British government has prevented the election taking place ahead of schedule by bending the rules underpinning the devolved institutions.

In a surprise move, the British Conservative Party has now added its weight to demands that the election proceed.

Quentin Davies, the Conservative Party spokesperson on Ireland, said that there was no "no constitutional basis for postponing elections".

Between now and May, Mr Davies said, it was "vital that every possible preparation" was made for the limited six-week "window of opportunity" which would arise following elections. Six weeks is the maximum time available to form the power-sharing Executive and appoint the First and Deputy First Ministers following the elections.

Davies also warned: "Otherwise, if after six weeks - even after the elections - there is no agreement on a new Executive, then the institutions are suspended again, the whole of the peace process will be a laughing stock and will lose credibility disastrously, and we may never have another chance."

Although boycotted by unionists, an implementation group meeting in Belfast yesterday focused on outstanding commitments relating to human rights, equality and the Irish language.

Sinn Fein chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said that all participants in the process have to use their influence to bring about desired objectives and there has to be a full implementation of the agreement.

"We are addressing with the governments and other parties how we get to that point of full implementation," Mr McLaughlin said.

"That links directly to the starting point we had when we went into the talks in the first instance.

"We are confident that we can bring about a situation where the armed struggle tradition within republicanism will be ended, but we can't do it in isolation, we can't do it with opposition, we have to do it with collaboration and with help from the other participants.

"We need partners in that process as well as partners in making politics work," he added.

HUMAN RIGHTS APPEAL

Meanwhile, eight international pressure groups last night made a joint call for human rights considerations to be at the heart ofthe ongoing political negotiations.

Groups including Amnesty International, the Committee on the Administration of Justice and the British-Irish Rights Watch said peace could not be permanently secured without addressing the long-term protection of everyone's human rights.

In a joint statement the groups said: "Much still remains to be done to effect real change on the ground. Accordingly, we call on governments, political parties and broader civil society to commit themselves to developing concrete benchmarks against which progress in the advancement of human rights and equality in Northern Ireland and all neighbouring jurisdictions can be delivered."

The groups have advocated a 10-point programme of action which includes measures to secure a bill of rights, tackle past human rights abuses and combat discrimination and promote equality in all spheres of life.


Wednesday-Thursday, 22-23 January, 2003

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry: Heath cuts up rough

By RM Distribution

Former British prime minister Edward Heath has been involved in prolonged and dramatic clashes with Michael Lavery QC, for the families, at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. Thoughout his evidence, Heath repeatedly insulted counsel, was occasionally incoherent, frequently petulant and almost always deliberately obstructive, repeatedly refusing to answer even straightforward questions from both Lord Saville and Mr Lavery on, amongst other things, his government's documented reluctance to introduce direct rule. His refusal, warned Lavery, would lead the Tribunal to "draw its own inference".

On Monday there were particularly heated exchanges between the two when Lavery put it to Heath that his government, despite being fully aware of the abuses perpetrated during 50 years of unionist administration, only intervened once law and order had broken down in the Six Counties. He suggested that "the regime would have lasted 1,000 years if they had been able to maintain law and order... like Goethe you preferred injustice to disorder". Heath refused to answer, saying that he would have "need to examine history".

Lavery put it to Heath that, so far as his government was concerned, Ireland was "a nuisance". Referring to Heath's own statement, Lavery observed that "at a time when people in the United Kingdom were being killed and murdered the principal preoccupation of their Prime Minister was Europe". He put it to Heath that the meetings of GEN47 (the British Cabinet Committee for the Six Countiesd) usually took the form of "Only seven people killed this week. Let us get on to the next item on the agenda". Heath responded furiously, accusing Lavery of "putting the whole thing in an obscene way" and said that he objected to the barrister's "offensive language and attitude". Heath said that he had two "splendid" ministers dealing with Ireland and he left matters almost entirely to them.

Under questioning, Heath claimed that his instruction to the British Army in October 1971 to provide proposals to "bring terrorism to an end at the earliest moment, without regard to the inconvenience to the civilian population" was a "phrase used by a civil servant" which did not represent his views. In answer to Lavery's suggestion that 'inconvenience' was merely "a euphemism for bloodshed, for killing innocent people", Heath responded that Lavery was using "appalling" phrases.

Lavery continued that 'inconvenience' did not mean "just being stopped at road blocks and being held up; it is not that sort of inconvenience, is it?"

"Well, it can be or it cannot be," said Heath.

"Could you give an example of some major inconvenience that you think that military action might have caused?" asked Lavery.

"That is not my job" replied Heath.

There was a prolonged exchange between the two on the "political penalties" Heath had said his government was prepared to pay in order that the British Army might defeat the "gunmen" by "military means". The suggestion by Lavery was that such penalty was not the anger of the British electorate, which was largely indifferent to what was happening in the Six Counties; rather, it was that the inevitable deaths of innocent civilians through such "military means" would complete the alienation of the Catholic community and incur the wrath of the Dublin government. Heath denied the suggestion.

"Having rejected that," asked Lavery, "can you tell the tribunal what was upsetting them or what would upset them?"

"Well, you must find that out for yourself," said Heath.

"Is there something to hide, Sir Edward, that you do not want to tell us?" asked Lavery.

"Nothing at all" responded Heath; "it is your responsibility to find that out, if you want to know. It is not my job to answer that question, go and ask the people, they will tell you."

When questioned about Lord Hailsham's belief that it would be legal for the army to open fire on civilians, Lavery asked why, if Heath himself and his government thought the proposal was "objectionable", as Heath claims, Hailsham was not sacked. "He was good in other spheres," said Heath.

In other words, said Lavery, "let him propose the killing of Irishmen if he likes, but because he is good at law and so on, we will overlook that".

Like almost every other witness on the British side, Heath denied all knowledge of General Ford's memo regarding the so-called Derry Young Hooligans. Again, he refused to answer questions on the matter, saying that Lavery was "incapable of asking sensible questions". Heath said he was proud of his record in Ireland "despite all the muck which you produce from time to time, whenever you can get a hearing".

Lavery asked why Ford was not "drummed out of the British Army for this outrageous proposal". Heath replied that he was not responsible for discipline in the British Army. "If it had been brought to your attention, would you have ensured that he was drummed out of the British Army?" asked Lavery. "Hypothetical," said Heath. "If you cannot think of anything better to ask, then you had better stop."

Lavery put it to the tribunal that, for Heath, "Northern Ireland was something that was of no great interest to him... he would have been prepared to countenance things in Northern Ireland that he would not have tolerated for one moment in England. The political reality is if this [Bloody Sunday] had happened in England, Sir Edward's government would not have lasted 24 hours. Those who were responsible for security in Northern Ireland knew that their prime minister was not really very interested in Northern Ireland, knew very little about it and they therefore had a considerable latitude to make outrageous proposals without the fear of any sanction or retribution from their political masters."

During his questioning of Heath, Lavery was repeatedly interrupted by Lord Saville, who at one point instructed the barrister to sit down. Lavery refused, saying that Saville's rebukes were "completely unfair". He went on to accuse Heath of being indifferent to known breaches of the Yellow Card by the British Army and argued that the message being sent out by Heath was that "whatever the Army does is a matter for them and I will not be calling them to account for it because that is their business - go on and fight that war and I will not hold you to account for whatever you do".

This attitude, he suggested, characterised British rule in Ireland at the time. "The thread and the motivation running through the British government's mind at that particular time was... we are fighting a war and let us protect the people who have done these things. I am trying to build up a picture, which the tribunal apparently is resisting, of a country that regards itself at war, is prepared to use methods, such as interrogation, which are not too squeamish; and the question is what signal all of this sent to its soldiers who were on the streets fighting a war? [Was] the message being sent to them, 'be very careful' do not put one foot outside the law or you will be held to account for it, or was it, 'you are fighting a war, accidents happen, carry on, do your best and we will protect you'?"

On Tuesday, Lavery took issue with Lord Saville for allowing Heath to be abusive and for allowing him to refuse to answer questions. Such "latitude" said Lavery was completely outside his experience and the result was that "Sir Edward, emboldened by the latitude he has been given, feels that when I ask him a question all he has to do is roll his eyes, look at the Tribunal, offer an insult to me and refuse to answer the question". Although Lord Saville said he would note Mr Lavery's comments, Heath continued with his refusal to answer questions he did not like.

Heath did, however, make one noticeable admission on Tuesday, which he immediately retracted. Recalling that he had spent the evening of 30 January with his sailing crew, he said "it was only after that that I got the telephone messages that there had been this ghastly outbreak, and people murdered". Asked by Counsel whether it was his view either then or now that people had been "murdered", as he put it, Heath replied "No".


Sunday, 26 January, 2003

Army could recruit 50,000 men in North, said Hume

By Caroline O’Doherty, Irish Examiner

Former SDLP leader John Hume telephoned Dublin to suggest the mass recruitment of northern nationalists into the Irish army in the hours following Bloody Sunday, files released to the National Archives today show.

Mr Hume told an Irish Government official the Republic could "easily recruit 50,000 men from the North for the Army" but was asked not to discuss the matter further on the phone.

With a note of desperation, he also warned the official, with whom he had been in touch "all evening" after the shootings, that he and his colleagues were "at the end of their political resources".

Mr Hume threw out the suggestion against the background of fears that the IRA would capitalise on the public outrage and enjoy a flood of new recruits from men never before involved in paramilitary activity if the Government did not offer an alternative.

The extent of public anger and confusion was illustrated in the same note by the unnamed official, who recorded that Senator Paddy McGowan in Donegal had phoned to report his belief that 16 people had in fact been killed and 45 wounded "many casualties having been taken across the border".

Senator McGowan suggested the Government should make a gesture in relation to the families of those killed by supplying money to "the Fund of which Mr PK O'Doherty is chairman in the Derry area" (presumed to be the Relief of Distress Fund for the North). He suggested a sum of £1,000 per family.

The official also noted the comments of Phil Curran of the Catholic ex-Servicemen's Association in Belfast, who phoned to warn that "the ghettos were openly talking about a mass insurrection and demanding that the Dublin Government supply material".

The note, dated January 31, 1972, is one of tens of thousands of individual papers contained in over 2,000 State files released to the National Archives under the 30-year rule today.

Most come from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Taoiseach's office, the Attorney General and the President and relate to the year 1972. This year was overshadowed by the events in Derry on Bloody Sunday, which plunged relations between Ireland and Britain into an abyss not experienced since the early 1920s.

Correspondence, memos, minutes of Cabinet meetings and records of conversations show there were strongly held fears of all-out war in the North and considerable concern about the consequences for the peace and prosperity of the South.

A detailed account of the Bloody Sunday events as witnessed and interpreted by the late human rights observer Lord Brockway is contained in a letter written to Taoiseach Jack Lynch a few days after the atrocity, to which Lynch sent heartfelt thanks in reply.

Also included is a note of a phone call from the British Ambassador in Dublin to the Government following the burning of his embassy in the city in which he concluded: "there is a breakdown in law and order here".

The turmoil that followed Bloody Sunday came on top of two years of violence and unrest in the North and followed the controversy over the 1970 Arms Trial, further details of which have also been disclosed in this year's release of documents.

Copyright © 2003 Irish Examiner, Ireland


Sunday, 26 January, 2003

Sinn Féin to press ahead with peace policy

By Máirtin Ó Muilleoir, Irelandclick.com

Sinn Féin leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams have confirmed that they are committed to intensive negotiations to save the peace process.

Speaking before a key meeting of the party Ard Comhairle today, party chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said the devolution of justice powers formed a key part of the discussions on policing.

In Dublin, Gerry Adams told the party leadership that this week's crunch meeting between Tony Blair and David Trimble had been a disappointment.

However, he indicated that the six weeks ahead could still prove pivotal in the development of the peace process.

Outlining the party's core position, he stressed:

Mr Adams added: "The democratic imperative must be given precedence both as a matter of principle and as a counter to a contrived strategy of instability. The elections scheduled for 1 May 2003 must go ahead. The British government must end its veto over the institutions. Their legislation to suspend the institutions which was enacted on unionist demands must be repealed. The stunted process to create an acceptable policing service must be got back on track and rapidly concluded. The justice system shaped by unionist domination and Britain's military imperatives in Ireland must be transformed. Equality must be realised and delivered. The demilitarisation of society must be brought forward rapidly."

The Sinn Féin chief also accused the Briitsh of bad faith.


Friday-Sunday, 24-26 January, 2003

Trimble claims victory over IRA, may boycott talks

Republicans must be ready to do more - Adams

By RM Distribution

Following indications that the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble will boycott intensive multi-party talks in Belfast this week aimed at rescuing the Good Friday Agreement, the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams today called for "a bit of political bonding" with the Ulster Unionists.

He asked of the unionists: "Are they going to come into talks with us to try and sort it out? Are they going to boycott talks? Are they going to come in sometimes?

"Let all of us collectively come together, let there be a bit of political bonding."

Yesterday the Ulster Unionist leader suggested the possible boycott as a retaliation for the involvement of the Irish government in the talks on the peace process.

"I am probably not going to the talks on Thursday," he admitted. "I am getting increasingly fed up with this behaviour. There is no value in them: the only important talks are in Downing Street."

While Trimble claimed the round-table talks were irrelevant, fellow unionist MPs Jeffrey Donaldson and David Burnside were warning that the talks were a "high-wire act" and "very high risk".

Burnside said he was opposed to any discussions that did not involve placing sanctions on Sinn Fein and did not believe it would be possible to enter government with the party for the foreseeable future.

Trimble is angry about the involvement of Brian Cowen, the Dublin minister for foreign affairs in talks which he considers only involve "internal" matters for the Six Counties.

It also emerged that Mr Trimble defiantly told an Ulster Unionist branch in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, on Friday night that republicans would have to wait very long to see their dream of an end to British rule fulfilled.

"The republican juggernaut has been halted - unionists are not going to be rolled into a united Ireland," the Upper Bann MP declared. He declared that SInn Fein had been "hollowed out".

"After their so-called `long war', Irish republicans face a very long wait indeed for an end to British rule.'

Mr Trimble also told the unionist meeting they should have every reason to believe they were "on the front foot" in the peace process and could look to the future confidently.

In an interview on Irish radio today, Mr Adams said his party would continue to engage with unionism despite any potential boycott.

"We remain resolute in sorting this out, and think it will eventually be sorted out.

"We are poised, our negotiating team is in place."

BRITISH PLAN AWAITED

Mr Adams said that regardless of the "other priorities" of the British Government, it "really does need to pull its socks up.

"We need to see a plan for completion of this phase of the process."

Mr Adams pointed out that the IRA had moved "far beyond the Good Friday Agreement" in trying to enhance the peace process.

And he added: "Let no one, begrudgers, nay-sayers, anti-republican elements, those who are against change, try to persuade anyone that there has not been huge progress made in terms of the IRA, or that the IRA has not taken dangerous and difficult steps to enhance this process.

"Others, particularly in 10 Downing Street and within the unionist leadership, need to reflect that in what they do."

He told a meeting of the party leadership on Saturday that republicans must be prepared to continue their essential contribution to the Peace Process.

In a statement, he said that Sinn Fein's approach to the upcoming negotiations would be based on certain principles, including the fact that the Good Friday Agreement is "the only show in town".

Adams said the IRA was not a threat to the peace process -- the British government and the unionists knew this, he said -- and the IRA has given "a fair wind" to the Agreement.

Meanwhile, unionists had not been selling the Agreement: "Instead they have been seeking to dilute and renegotiate", while the British and Irish governments had "pandered to them" and had encouraged them in this approach.

He claimed that anti-Agreement unionist violence has been "tolerated and tacitly encouraged" by British securocrats, while allegations about IRA activities had created political difficulties. "But the IRA is not the cause of the crisis", he added.

He also stated that the UUP had decided to collapse the political institutions by January 18th in any event; and the raid on Sinn Fein's Stormont Offices, the arrests of republicans and other action by the British government agencies "clouded this fundamental reality and contrived a basis for the British government to suspend the political institutions".

Demands for the surrender of the IRA and or the disbandment of the IRA were not, in Sinn Fein's view, realistic. But he said Sinn Fein was committed to bringing a permanent end to political conflict on this island.

"We have a strategy for that and a strategy to see an end to all armed groups. Others, especially the British government and the unionists, also have significant roles in that strategy. So too the Irish government.

DEMOCRATIC IMPERATIVE

"The democratic imperative must be given precedence both as a matter of principle and as a counter to a contrived strategy of instability," he added.

This required that the elections scheduled for 1 May 2003 must go ahead, and the British government "end its veto" over the institutions.

"Their legislation to suspend the institutions which was enacted on unionist demands must be repealed," he added.

Also, the "stunted" process to create an acceptable policing service "must be got back on track and rapidly concluded". He added that the North's justice system - "shaped by unionist domination and Britain's military imperatives in Ireland" - must be transformed, equality must be realised and delivered and the demilitarisation of society brought forward rapidly.

"These are all requirements of the Good Friday Agreement to which the British government and the Ulster Unionist Party are signatories. There is nothing new about them save the British Prime Minister's acceptance that his government has not been fulfilling its obligations across the board on these issues.

"When I say that the IRA is not the cause of the crisis, this is not to suggest that allegations of IRA activities do not cause political difficulties in the unionist constituency. They do of course. And regardless of whether they are real or unfounded Irish republicans know that, because ongoing activities by British intelligence, the British Army, the police force and unionist paramilitaries cause political difficulties in our community. Particularly against a backdrop of unionist contrived perpetual political crisis which is at the centre of attempts to wreck or renegotiate the Agreement.

"But these are problems to be addressed and resolved, not reasons for wrecking the Agreement.

"The British Prime Minister has put his finger on the route to doing this. His frank admission that his government has not been implementing the Agreement is a tacit acceptance of the analysis Sinn Fein has been making all along. The Agreement, the political contract and primary device for creating the conditions in which all armed groups can be removed from the political arena, has not and is not being implemented.

"Instead the failed politics of dealing with the symptoms of conflict rather than its causes looms large over the situation. It is a well worn route into cul-de-sac politics and usually involves making pre-conditions out of objectives of the peace process."

Mr Adams concluded by telling the Sinn Fein Executive: "Recognising all of the difficulties, and conscious of real concerns, as opposed to excuses for contrived scenarios and situations, Sinn Fein will explore any possibilities Mr Blair's current negotiation open up.

"While we welcome the British Prime Minister's acknowledgement that the British government is not and has not been implementing the Agreement, we are also mindful of their claims to the contrary over the past four and a half years and the politically debilitating effect of this. Nonetheless, we will explore with Mr Blair and the Irish government, their commitment to rectify this.

"The effect of this bad faith by the British government should not be underestimated. Their credibility in the republican constituency is low."


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