(en) News from Ireland

Struggle in Ireland (irl_strug@geocities.com)
Tue, 29 Apr 1997 13:06:22 +0000

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Updates on Ireland from Derry's Pat Finucane Centre Sunday 27 April 1997

***** Loyalists in 'dirty tricks' row. ***** An arson attack on a Catholic church in Carrickfergus in the early hours of Saturday morning (26 April) marks the latest in a series of attacks on church property throughout the North. At least eight Catholic chapels have been destroyed or damaged in recent weeks. A haulage firm, post office, private homes, tourist offices, Orange halls and Protestant church property have also been firebombed. Now the Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine, has confirmed reports first published in the Irish News that a dissident loyalist group, the Loyalist Volunteer Force,(LVF) are behind not only the attacks on Catholic property but also the attack on a Baptist church in East Belfast on April 1. The attacks on the Protestant owned haulage firm in Portadown and the post office in Newmills are also believed to be part of a " dirty tricks" campaign by the LVF designed to raise tension. In a press statement regarding the East Belfast attack Mr Ervine said "it was undoubtedly the work of Protestants, one would not understand their logic except to fester hatred and bitterness". Earlier this month DUP Councillor Sammy Wilson accused residents living in the nearby Short Strand area of the attack on the Baptist church.

Some of the incidents include: Mountpottinger Baptist Church, East Belfast (Roof destroyed) Mullavilly- Laurelvale, 200 year old Catholic church (destroyed) Stonebridge- St. Patrick's Catholic Church ( damaged) Randalstown, Co. Antrim, St. McNissis Catholic Church (destroyed) Antrim Town, St Comgallis Catholic Church (badly damaged) Donaghmore, Co. Tyrone, Church of Ireland Hall (scorch damage) Dungiven, Co Tyrone, Ogleby Hall, Church of Ireland. (destroyed re- furbished church property) Stoneyford, Co. Antrim- St. Peter's the Rock Catholic church ( extensively damaged) Banbridge, Co. Down-St.Colman's Catholic Church, (sacristy extensively damaged) Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, Catholic Church, (extensively damaged)

Mr Ervine (PUP) called for community restraint whilst revealing " Nationalists have been responsible for doing damage to Protestants but where we know the truth, let us tell the truth". In response to Ervine's statement, the UUP spokesman, Ken Maginnis was "not surprised", in the event of any evidence of a loyalist "dirty-tricks " campaign. "There is evidence that these people are acting as 'agents provocateurs' trying to antagonise society here".

Seamus Mallon (SDLP) stressed that the recent arson attacks on Catholic churches was a reaction to Paisley's speech at the DUP 'Right to March' rally, on 4th April. Mr Mallon said, "those who fuel sectarian hatred were as guilty of these arson attacks as those who set churches alight. Make no mistake, I mean the Reverend Ian Paisley and the comments he made in Portadown". Rev. Ian Paisley told the 4 April rally "We will not surrender, not an inch, not to Dublin and not to Popery! You will not breed us out, you will not burn us out and you will not bring us down."

Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Dr James Mehaffey said "A church isn't just a building, it retains a very strong emotional experience. " Whilst the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr. Walsh, said "those who consistently mouthed anti-Catholic words had encouraged the latest attacks." Earlier this week the Irish News reported that both the UDA and the UVF believe that the LVF, which is close to jailed Portadown loyalist King Rat (Billy Wright) are heavily infiltrated by British Intelligence agencies.

***** Plastic bullet injury ***** A 13 year old boy has been transferred to hospital in Belfast with head injuries following an overnight incident in Lurgan, Co Armagh when a British Army foot patrol fired a plastic bullet. A claim by the patrol that they were stoned by youths has been denied by local residents according to the BBC. Further details are not yet available. Meanwhile two people have been hospitalised following sectarian clashes in the centre of Portadown early this morning. The condition of one of the injured men is described as serious. In the past weeks there have been numerous late night sectarian clashes in Derry, Belfast and elsewhere. In addition trouble has flared between young nationalists and RUC/British Army patrols.

***** Anti Irish Racism Complaint ***** The Pat Finucane Centre lodged an official complaint with the Press Complaints Commission in London this week following the publication of two articles in the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail. The articles, by journalists Paul Johnson and Ian Wooldridge, called for various sanctions to be imposed on Irish people in the wake of the widespread disruption caused to the transport system in England this week by the IRA. In the first article Johnson called for financial penalties to be imposed on Irish people to compensate for financial losses incurred due to IRA activity while the second article called for a ban to be placed on Irish participation in sporting events following IRA bomb warnings to the Grand National horse race earlier this month. Speaking on BBC radio a spokesperson for the centre called the articles "racist, discriminatory and inflammatory" and said they amounted to " incitement to hatred against Irish people". The Daily Mail has been particularly prominent in whipping up anti-Irish hysteria. In effect the newspaper called for collective punishment of an entire community on the basis of ethnic origin. The Press Complaints Commission has acknowledged the letter of complaint and adjudication is expected soon.

***** Bloody Sunday Libel Action ***** Legal proceedings have begun in what could become Ireland's largest ever libel case against two Dublin newspapers, the Irish Times and the Sunday Independent. The legal action follows the publication by the Irish Times of a opinion piece by columnist Kevin Myers in January which it is claimed slandered the relatives of those who died on Bloody Sunday accusing them of allowing the annual commemoration to be manipulated. In the second article < b>Sunday Independent columnist Conor Cruise O' Brien claimed that those participating in the original 1972 march were not "civil rights civilians " but rather "Sinn Fein activists operating for the IRA" It is believed that these comments could be interpreted to refer to anyone who took part in the original march and local solicitor Padraig Mac Dermott, treasurer of the Bloody Sunday Trust, commented "if we are successful in the test case ..then the floodgates could open". An anonymous donor is thought to have made a " significant donation" to the Trust on the understanding that a libel action would be undertaken against Conor Cruise O'Brien and the Sunday Independent . O'Brien, a former Irish Government Minister, is now a member of the UK Unionist talks team.

***** Independent Inquiry Call ***** In an editorial this week the largest newspaper in the North West, the Derry Journal, suggested that a independent inquiry should be held after the elections into the activities of the RUC on the ground in Derry in recent weeks. The paper noted that, "there is increasing anxiety and growing anger at the behaviour and tactics of the RUC on the ground." Meanwhile Sinn Fein has accused the security forces of collusion following the loyalist bomb attack on the Sinn Fein advice centre in the Shantallow area of Derry on Monday. No one was inured in the early morning attack.

***** Denton controversy ***** The controversy surrounding the sectarian harassment and transfer of a Catholic civil servant in the private office of Agriculture Minister Denton rumbled on this week following publication on a report into the affair by Dr Maurice Hayes. First reports suggested that the investigation had "cleared" the Minister of serious wrongdoing and was hailed as a vindication of the Minister and her staff. The author of the report, Maurice Hayes, begged to differ in the Irish News the following day advising readers to "ignore the spin" given to the report by the Northern Ireland Office. Hayes claimed that the British Government was "misrepresenting" and "distorting" his findings which found that the Minister had ignored the advice of senior civil servants that she could be in breach of Fair Employment legislation. The Minister is responsible for Fair Employment legislation in the North.

***** RUC and the Order ***** Late last week the RUC Press Office leaked a story to a Belfast based journalist that four officers in Fermanagh who had been suspended for their participation in orange parades last summer were to be reinstated. The timing of the leak was designed to effectively kill the story. Curiously enough the Pat Finucane Centre had phoned the RUC Complaints branch two days beforehand to enquire as to how the case was proceeding given that taxpayers had already paid in excess of stlg100,000 to the suspended officers. The following day an Assistant Chief Inspector phoned the PFC to inform us that a statement would be issued that day or "maybe tomorrow". We then informed the Irish News who had previously covered the story. The subsequent press release was "fed" to the above mentioned journalist who just happens to be related to one of the suspended officers! The RUC tactic didn't work however since the Irish News gave it front page coverage even though it was a day old row.

***** No surrender ***** At a rally held in Ballymena on Friday night (25 April) the leader of the extremist group within the Orange Order, the Spirit of Drumcree, called on orangemen to reject compromises with local residents groups over contentious parades. The Spirit of Drumcree faction has made it clear that they would reject any role for the Mediation Network in resolving the parades issue. Earlier in the week representatives of the Independent Orange Order said on a radio talkshow that they would refuse to cooperate with the newly formed North Commission on parades. As the summer approaches various strands of orangism have rejected local residents groups, the Mediation Network and the North Commission.

The centers web page is at http://www.serve.com/pfc/ the text below is from this

The Name of the PFC

The PFC is named in memory of Pat Finucane, a human rights lawyer from Belfast who was murdered in front of his wife and children on 12 February 1989 by the pro-British UDA. Pat had successfully challenged the British Government over several important human rights cases. One of those involved in his murder, Brian Nelson, was working for British Military Intelligence.

            Struggle in Ireland

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