Friday, April 30, 2010

Adams calls for 'united front' to fight spending cuts by British government

Adams calls for 'united front' to fight spending cuts by British government

DAN KEENAN Northern News Editor –Irish Times - Thu, Apr 29, 2010

WESTMINSTER 2010: Northern Ireland Election: SINN FÉIN has published a “manifesto for the future” based on the linked policy objectives of peace, equality, jobs and Irish unity.

In an address at the publication of the document, party president Gerry Adams emphasised the importance of political leadership.

Referring to the Hillsborough negotiations in February on the devolution of policing and justice powers, Mr Adams said: “This was a hugely important moment.”

Citing the successful transfer of powers, he said: “Sinn Féin did this by making the two governments and the DUP face up to their political responsibilities. As a result, policing and justice were transferred in April.”

The manifesto outlines 87 aims and commitments listed under 11 headings ranging from health, education, regional development and agriculture to international affairs, equality and Irish unity.

On regional development the manifesto addresses many policies on an all-Ireland basis, calling for greater investment in road and rail, as well as in the area “west of the Bann” in Northern Ireland.

The party will press for a new White Paper on agriculture, invest the equivalent of £400 million in rural communities and fishing, insist on all-island planning and make all aspects of public policy “rural proof”.

Mr Adams said the two education systems in Ireland should be harmonised, there should be additional new schools, as well as the continuation of free school meals and of education minister Caitríona Ruane’s reform programme in the North.

He also called for specific programmes to address mental health issues, perinatal needs, obesity and suicide. The manifesto calls for more funds for children’s cancer services and advocates new criteria for the payment of the winter fuel allowance.

On criminal justice, Mr Adams said Sinn Féin was setting the agenda on policing and would work to enhance the equality, transparency and quality of the criminal justice system.

Plastic bullets should be banned, the British agencies MI5 and the Serious Organised Crime Agency should leave Northern Ireland, and the Public Prosecution Service should be reformed, the manifesto says.

It also calls for an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and the holding of all investigations under the PSNI rather than British agencies.

Mr Adams called for “an independent, international, comprehensive truth-recovery process” to examine the history of the conflict.

The manifesto has a significant section on the need for an Irish-language Act and a range of supports throughout Ireland for the renewal of the language.

The party president said Sinn Féin would continue to offer assistance to those involved in other peace processes throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East and the Basque country.

The manifesto contains a specific demands to end the Cuban blockade, to halt the building of a separation wall by Israel and to end settlements in the West Bank.

Mr Adams demanded a Bill of rights for the North and an all-Ireland charter of rights as referred to in the Belfast Agreement.

The manifesto outlines a series of legislative proposals to clamp down on discrimination.

It also claims “Ireland cannot afford partition” and refers to 22 proposals under the headings of a stronger economy, a better quality of life and Irish unity. Mr Adams said the British government should amend its policy from one of upholding the union to one of becoming a “persuader for Irish unity”.

In answer to a question about Sinn Féin’s policy of abstention at Westminster, Mr Adams said there was a lessening of “connectiveness” between the Northern electorate and the House of Commons. “Whoever is there doesn’t govern in our interests, that’s a fact,” he said.

“We need to build up a united front which will face the next British government particularly on this issue of [public spending] cuts. We need to be opposing that in a thoughtful and strategic way, and in a united way.”

The manifesto main points

Combined opposition, with other parties, to British public spending cuts in Northern Ireland

Push the British government to become “persuaders for Irish unity”

Transfer fiscal and tax-raising powers from London.

Remove MI5 and the Serious Organised Crime Agency and ban plastic bullets.

All-island planning on agriculture, infrastructure and transport.

Harmonise the education systems in Northern Ireland and in the South and continue reforms in the North.

Demand an Irish-language Act and range of supports for renewal of the language

Establish an international truth-recovery process independent of the British government


This very Socialist leaning wish list as outlined could best be described as Utopian in nature and is probably, in reality, unattainable. However, a question which must be asked and answered regarding “truth recovery” is: Would the international truth recovery process referred to in this manifesto include a full investigation into the heinous murders of Robert McCartney and Paul Quinn? If it did not, it would be a total waste of time and an absolute affront to any commission or process with the word “truth” attached to it.

In regard to the Cuban Blockade, Israel and the West Bank, and Basque Country, Sinn Fein would be well advised to focus their attention and concentrate their efforts on solving some of the myriad of problems which still face Ireland today.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

24 police intimidated out of homes

24 police intimidated out of homes

Irish Independent – 26 April 2010

More than 20 police officers and their families in Northern Ireland have been intimidated into leaving their homes by dissident republicans since January, it was revealed today

The policy of pushing ahead with downsized security despite the danger has seriously weakened the capability of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to respond, a group which represents rank and file officers said.

Last week a barracks at Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh, was attacked for the second time in a fortnight.

Police Federation chairman Terry Spence said: "The attacks reflect a growing confidence and competence among dissident republicans and that they are aware that the police are not responding sufficiently robustly to deter them.

"Unless there is a massive step change in the security response we will gradually sleepwalk into a renewal of a full-blown, murderous terrorist campaign."

Since January there have been 18 bomb and mortar attacks, 18 gun attacks, an officer seriously and permanently maimed, and 24 officers and their families intimidated from their homes, the vast majority by dissident republicans.

Mr Spence added: "The latest incident last week, when Newtownhamilton Police Station was attacked for the second time in two weeks, illustrates all too clearly the ineffectiveness of our response as a police service to protecting the community."

The Police Federation has written an open letter to all ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive.

"The federation believes that Chief Constable Matt Baggott... is seriously constrained by lack of resources, a situation which seems to be the result of an inherited determination to portray Northern Ireland as a 'normalised' society despite the evidence to the contrary," the letter said.

"It is quite obvious that the policy of pushing ahead with normalisation has seriously weakened the capability of the police service to respond."

From June the police will no longer have 350 full-time reserve officers available and by next April there will be 800 fewer frontline officers than at present.

The federation called for a halt to the phasing out of the reserve and a ring-fencing of experienced officers who are also due to leave.

"Failure to address the current situation and related operational shortcomings is already causing the loss of support for the PSNI across the community and is particularly disappointing for us as, in many areas, respect was not previously forthcoming," the letter added.

"The potential damage to the political process is obvious. The federation is asking the executive to exercise its collective responsibility for the security situation and to re-appraise the policy being pursued by the chief constable and the resources available to him."

The police have been criticised for the amount of time taken to respond to security alerts. In Newtownhamilton firemen evacuated residents.

The PSNI has said officers are being cautious because of the danger of secondary devices.

Members of the Policing Board were briefed today about the heightened security threat.

It is understood the danger is greater than at any time since the 1998 Real IRA Omagh bomb, which killed 29 people plus unborn twins.

Following the Newtownhamilton attack, a church minister said people living in that area felt themselves to be abandoned.

Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford answered minister's questions for the first time on the floor of the Assembly this afternoon.

"Let us be absolutely clear. There are difficult issues for the police operating in certain areas but it should be blamed on those who caused the problem, not on those who unfortunately have to respond on behalf of all of us," he said.

"I will do all I can to ensure that if the Chief Constable wishes to make a case for additional resources and makes a valid case we will ensure that case is put to the Northern Ireland Office and to the Department of Finance and Personnel, both of whom have responsibilities in terms of relations with the Treasury."


It appears, from this and other recent news articles, that the Stormont government and newly appointed Justice Minister David Ford have a very serious problem on their hands. The attacks on PSNI barracks and police personnel, allegedly being carried out by dissident republicans, are becoming more frequent and more focused. If the situation is difficult to deal with now, it will be impossible with the projected reduction in the numbers of active duty police officers over the next year. This blatant campaign of terror being waged against the PSNI could have a very serious detrimental effect on the still fragile peace process in Ireland. It must, therefore, be a top priority of the Justice Minister to put an end to this insanity and bring those responsible to justice before it is too late.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pension pot for senior ministers to reach €70m

Pension pot for senior ministers to reach €70m

Our politicians outdo disgraced bankers in State payments grab

By DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter Sunday April 25 2010

FOLLOWING the controversy surrounding Richie Boucher's pension top-up, figures obtained by the Sunday Independent reveal that the pension fund for senior ministers is set to top €70m of taxpayers' money,

The Government reduced the ministerial pensions for sitting TDs by 25 per cent last year. And after the next general election, a sitting TD will not be allowed to also pick up a ministerial pension.

But despite these changes, Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his ministers -- many of whom have been in the Cabinet for 13 years -- are still guaranteed multi-million euro pension pots when they leave office. Given his length of service, Mr Cowen's taxpayer-funded pension is now worth more than €7m, according to actuarial calculations on his salary package. All members of the Cabinet, past and present, receive defined-benefit pensions linked not to their final salary but to the current occupant of the most senior cabinet position they attained.

Since 2007, the Taoiseach's salary has been reduced twice. But as one of those reductions was voluntary, his pension's worth was not affected. However, the €57,000 pay cut he took last December will impact on his package. Health Minister Mary Harney has a pension valued at more than €4.5m because she has been in the Cabinet since 1997; and as she held the title of Tanaiste for more than three years, her pension will be based on the Tanaiste's salary.

Dermot Ahern and Micheal Martin, also in Cabinet since 1997, have pensions worth between €3.5m and €3.8m. Other ministers -- such as Brian Lenihan, Martin Cullen, Mary Hanafin and the two Green ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan -- will have pensions worth at least €3m.

The rules state that if the Government fell tomorrow, every minister would receive a tax-free lump sum and at least 20 per cent of their salary. Every additional year of service adds 5 per cent to the value of the pension up to a maximum of 60 per cent after 10 years. The value of the current total cabinet pension fund is in addition to the major pension payouts to former Taoisigh and ministers.

Last year, former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds received a pension of €109,734 as a TD, minister and Taoiseach.

Former Taoisigh Garret FitzGerald and John Bruton received €104,283, while former finance minister Charlie McCreevy received a €75,003 pension.

It emerged yesterday that 16 sitting TDs are refusing to hand back their lucrative ministerial pensions. The 16 Dail members, two senators, two MEPs and our European Commissioner are still topping up their salaries with lavish pensions.

Ireland's EU commissioner, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, refused to say why she won't give up €108,000 from two political pensions which she is paid on top of her €243,000 EU salary. The former Fianna Fail minister is raking in €350,000 as well as other perks in her commissioner's post. And she won't be hit by the cuts to ministerial pensions paid to sitting TDs.

Among the TDs to pick up the pensions are former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (€98,901), Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton (€13,242) and former Labour leader Ruairi Quinn (€41,656).

A spokesman for Mr Ahern confirmed that the former Taoiseach was receiving his ministerial pension on top of his TD's salary. But he added: "Bertie Ahern has taken a reduction of 25 per cent on his ministerial pension."

Also on the list are Fianna Fail's Frank Fahey, Jim McDaid, Ned O'Keeffe, Michael Woods (although he has given up half his amount), Terry Leyden, Ivor Callely and Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher. Fine Gael is represented by Bernard Allen, Sean Barrett, Paul Connaughton, Bernard Durkan, Michael Noonan, Jim O'Keeffe and Jim Higgins, along with Labour's Brian O'Shea and Emmet Stagg.

At his party conference yesterday in Galway, minister Eamon O Cuiv called on Ireland's EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn to consider giving back her ministerial pension given the country's economic woes.

Speaking after a Fianna Fail conference in Galway, Mr O Cuiv said everyone in society has a duty to lead and to see what they can contribute. Asked if this included Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, the minister said it applied to everyone in the country.

Siptu's general president, Jack O'Connor, who is also Ictu president, has called on any public representative in the Oireachtas or in EU institutions in receipt of State pensions to voluntarily forgo them while earning public salaries.

Mr O'Connor said many had done so, and it was "critical to the credibility of our democratic institutions for others to follow".


These salaries and perks are absolutely obscene! These are elected officials who were put into office to govern and to improve the lives of the citizens of Ireland. I am appalled by some of the facts and figures in this article. These same politicians do not hesitate to condemn leaders in private industry who are compensated with large salaries and benefits. Then they turn around and do the very same thing at the expense of the beleaguered and long suffering Irish taxpayer. It appears that the old saying, “on any given day, there is more money stolen with a pen than with a gun” could certainly apply here. Is it any wonder that the country is on the brink of financial disaster???

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SF support for Quinns

SF support for Quinns
By: Joanne Ross – Newry Democrat – 20 April 2010

SINN Fein has stated its support for justice for murdered Cullyhanna man Paul Quinn – a day after his parents delivered a direct challenge to the party.

Stephen and Breege Quinn appealed to Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy to withdraw a claim that Mr Quinn was involved in criminality prior to his brutal murder in Oram two years ago.

“He provided nothing to back this up and we are certain that he has never provided any details of this to either the Gardai or the PSNI,” they said.

“He is our MP but we have no knowledge of him ever inquiring from either police force how the investigation is going.”

Sinn Fein responded to the points raised by a statement released to the Democrat yesterday (Monday).

“Sinn Fein support the family of Paul Quinn in their campaign for justice,” it read.

“We condemned his murder in the strongest possible terms and have appealed for anyone with any information to bring it to the Gardai or the PSNI.

“Conor Murphy has made repeated offers to meet the family of Paul Quinn. The family have refused these meetings.

“He has also raised this case with both the PSNI and the Gardai on numerous occasions.”

Mr Quinn was just 21-year-old when he was lured to a cattle shed on the border and beaten to death with iron bars by a masked gang.

The family blamed the IRA and shortly after the murder set up the Quinn Support Group.

The group is now calling on the south Armagh community to support them by quizzing Mr Murphy on his stance toward the murder.

“In the coming weeks Mr Murphy or his canvassers will be knocking on doors seeking support,” Mr and Mrs Quinn said.

“We would like the voters to put three simple questions to him or the canvassers. Why did Conor Murphy make these accusations against our son?

“Why has he not brought any information to the authorities? Why has he not withdrawn his allegations?”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein believes the murder of Mr Quinn was used by individuals and groups to discredit the party.

“There are those who are long time political opponents of both Sinn Fein and the peace process who have sought to use this murder for their own narrow political ends,” a spokesman said.

“They have sought to link republicans to this murder without ever bringing forward a shred of evidence to support their claims.

“What is now important is that the killers of Paul Quinn are brought to justice through the courts and Sinn Fein will continue to support all efforts to see this happen.”


Recently some Ancient Order of Hibernians National Board members received a request from Mr. P.J. Bradley of the SDLP in Ireland to invite the parents of Paul Quinn to speak at the A.O.H. National Convention in Cincinnati in July. The request was also conveyed to A.O.H. National President Seamus Boyle along with a personal appeal to honor the request by A.O.H. Board of Erin member Brother John H. Shanahan and Past Michigan State President Patrick Maguire. To my knowledge, there has not yet been a response from Brother Boyle except to say “reply is noted”.

Paul Quinn was a young man from Cullyhanna, County Armagh who was lured to a desolate area of County Monaghan on the pretext of helping some friends. Upon arrival at the designated area, he was set upon by a gang of thugs who beat him unmercifully with iron pipes and literally broke every bone in his body. He later died as a result of his injuries. A website has been set up by the “Justice for Paul Quinn Committee” which gives all of the information on this heinous and savage murder. The website can be accessed at . I would strongly suggest that you read about this yet unsolved murder and then contact the A.O.H. National President and National Board asking them to honor Mr. Bradley’s request to allow the parents of Paul Quinn to speak about their son’s murder at the A.O.H. National Convention.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI

Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI

The Sunday Times - April 11, 2010

RICHARD DAWKINS, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.

Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the “good of the universal church” should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys. It was dated 1985, when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases.

Benedict will be in Britain between September 16 and 19, visiting London, Glasgow and Coventry, where he will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th-century theologian.

Dawkins and Hitchens believe the Pope would be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because, although his tour is categorised as a state visit, he is not the head of a state recognised by the United Nations.

They have commissioned the barrister Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens, a solicitor, to present a justification for legal action.

The lawyers believe they can ask the Crown Prosecution Service to initiate criminal proceedings against the Pope, launch their own civil action against him or refer his case to the International Criminal Court.

Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said: “This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence.”

Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great, said: “This man is not above or outside the law. The institutionalised concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment."

Last year pro-Palestinian activists persuaded a British judge to issue an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, the Israeli politician, for offences allegedly committed during the 2008-09 conflict in Gaza. The warrant was withdrawn after Livni cancelled her planned trip to the UK.

“There is every possibility of legal action against the Pope occurring,” said Stephens. “Geoffrey and I have both come to the view that the Vatican is not actually a state in international law. It is not recognised by the UN, it does not have borders that are policed and its relations are not of a full diplomatic nature.”


This is the most outrageous attack on Catholicism that I have ever heard of since the radical American atheist, Madyln Murraay O’Hair, launched her campaign to have prayer removed from schools in the United States. These abominations against our Holy Father and the world’s Catholics simply cannot be tolerated any longer. We Catholics can’t be content to simply “turn the other cheek” or to stand on the sidelines and hope that “this to will pass away”. The fact of the matter is, my friends, that it will not pass away. Our beloved Catholic faith and the myriads of good and decent men whom we recognize as God’s successors on earth are under constant attack by evil forces that would like nothing better than to destroy them.

It is time for all Catholics to stand up in strong support of our faith in the tradition of the members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians who answered the call from Archbishop John Hughes to protect St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York against an attack by the “Know Nothings”. It is time, once again, to stand up and be counted.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Adams is wrong to deny his past even though times have changed

Adams is wrong to deny his past even though times have changed

By Ed Curran - Monday, 5 April 2010

And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew."

Okay, so Gerry Adams wasn't actually in the IRA. He didn't specifically order the murder of Jean McConville. He had nothing to do with the death of young Paddy Joe Crawford in Long Kesh. Nor had he any Semtex-stained direct hand in the day-to-day activities of the IRA which left so many thousand dead or injured over so many years.

Let's accept once and for all that he didn't actually plant any of the infamous Bloody Friday bombs which remain imprinted in my mind to this day for their appallingly indiscriminate brutality.

Indeed, I can still see the palls of smoke rising over Belfast city-centre and hear the bombs exploding on that dreadful afternoon when everyone working in downtown Belfast felt their last hour had come.

No, Gerry you had nothing to do directly with any of it and you know what? I am inclined to understand why you take that stance, because I think I know the way your mind was working then and is still working now.

There are a few journalists around who met, interviewed and generally talked with Gerry Adams in the early 1970s. I happened to be one of them.

From time to time, I would telephone his office and seek a meeting. Why? Because that is what journalists do, even though some people including the DUP last week, as witness its attack on the BBC over the latest Peter Robinson revelations, don't understand fully the motivation behind our work.

When people are being killed all around you, it is a legitimate job of a journalist to try to answer the questions - why and by whom? And in Gerry Adams I believed, as did virtually every other inquiring reporter in Belfast, that no man could provide the answers as he could.

One extremely wintry morning in the 1970s, I met up with the Belfast republican leader. There was slushy snow on the ground outside Divis Flats. Rather than talk in the cramped environs of his Sinn Fein office, Adams picked up a key to one of the flats and we walked there.

Once inside the despairingly spartan tower block, he turned on a couple of bars of an electric fire. I remember taking off my boots and warming my feet by the fire and Adams going into the tiny kitchen and producing mugs of hot tea and toast.

He talked about the general political situation, the attitude of unionists, the British Government's position and his assessment of the IRA's campaign, then at its height.

I believed I was speaking to the mastermind of the IRA, which was why I was there in the first place. Yet never once did he betray, either in that meeting or on other occasions when we met before or after, that he had any direct hand in the operations of the IRA.

He was careful never to incriminate himself. He would say he "understood" why a murder or bombing had taken place, but he would never admit involvement.

He was always speaking at least one step removed from the IRA. He was ascribing to himself the role of strategist rather than activist, thinker rather than doer.

Now I have no idea whether he ever pulled a trigger, or planted a bomb, or whether he stood in some kangaroo courtroom and, as his erstwhile friend, the late Brendan Hughes alleges from beyond the grave, ordered anyone to die.

For all I know he may have done so, but the reason why journalists like myself relied on his views was because we believed he was the key strategist within the Belfast republican movement. Why else would we have sought him, or he respond as he did?

And the important thing to remember about the 1970s was that the key strategy was to bomb the hell out of Belfast and beyond. To shoot as many soldiers and police officers as possible.

To attack anything that would bring down the economy of Northern Ireland. To strike terror and murder into the unionist community. And to maintain a ruthless stranglehold over as many nationalist districts as possible, if needs be by engaging in tarring and feathering, punishment beatings and killings to do so.

So that was the strategy. Gerry Adams was to all of us in the media and to the British and Irish governments, the man who manipulated the mind of militant republicanism. To my mind the argument over whether he specifically ordered the killing and disappearance of Jean McConville masks the bigger canvas upon which his life must be painted.

Whether or not he soiled his hands directly in some individual terrorist acts, he appeared in his twenties to have the respect of the most ruthless paramilitary force in Europe as did his long-standing colleague and current deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

If they were not two of the principal architects of a militant strategy which showed the world how terrorism could be used for political advantage, why airlift them out of Long Kesh to negotiate with the British Government?

Why were they in such demand for their views on the IRA's campaign of violence? How did they make it to the top in an organisation which history shows required its leaders to earn their spurs?

The evidence of IRA membership and militant activity may be disputed by Gerry Adams. What is incontrovertible is his dominant strategic role in the republican movement dating back to the bloodiest times of all.

That being so, he must shoulder an infinitely greater burden of responsibility than for any single specific act of murder, such as that of Jean McConville.

As the undisputed leader of the republican movement at its most violent in our darkest days, Gerry Adams must carry the can and accept his share of guilt.

The only reason people may forgive him is because, eventually, he steered a political route out of the IRA's maze of murder.

For that we should all be grateful, but it is no excuse for denying the past.

"Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept."


This is, perhaps, one of the best theoretical opinions with regard to the steadfast refusal by Gerry Adams to admit that he ever was a member of the IRA, let alone its Chief of Staff. Given his close association with every aspect of the organization including undisputed spokesman, universally recognized intermediary with the IRA Army Council, and visible participant in the military funerals of practically every IRA volunteer for the last thirty plus years, it is extremely difficult to believe that he was not a very influential member of its hierarchy. However, at the end of the day, it is up to each individual to make their own decision whether to believe him or not.