Monday, March 29, 2010

Gerry Adams ‘had Jean McConville disappeared’

Gerry Adams ‘had Jean McConville disappeared’
Sunday Times – 28 March 2010

Brendan “Darkie” Hughes, a former commander of the IRA in Belfast, has claimed posthumously that Gerry Adams ordered the killing and burial of Jean McConville, the mother-of-10 shot dead by the IRA in 1972. He also suggested that Adams gave the order for the Provisional IRA to hang one of its own members in Long Kesh in June 1973 after the 22-year-old cracked under police questioning.

Hughes also boasted that he personally ran a personation campaign for Adams’s election as MP in west Belfast in 1987, and again in the council elections of 1989, stealing a “massive” number of votes.

The claims were made in a series of interviews Hughes gave to a researcher for Boston College in 2001 and 2002. He agreed to speak on condition that the material would not be published until after his death.

“I find it so difficult to come to terms [with] the fact that this man has turned his back on everything that we ever did,” Hughes said in an interview before he died in 2008.

“I never carried out a major [IRA] operation without the okay or the order from Gerry [Adams]. And for him to sit in his plush office in Westminster or Stormont or wherever and deny it, I mean it’s like Hitler denying that there was ever a Holocaust.”

Hughes’s interviews are contained in a new book, Voices From The Grave by journalist Ed Moloney, which is serialised exclusively in today’s Sunday Times.

Adams, the Sinn Fein president, has denied any involvement in the killing of McConville and being a member of the IRA. Asked last month if he was aware that the widowed Belfast woman was to be murdered and her body dumped, he said “No”.

Hughes revealed that he was deeply involved in the affair, one of the most high-profile killings of the Troubles. He said his unit found an army transmitter in McConville’s flat in Divis. Her family insists that the widow was not an informer, and that she was shot for going to the assistance of an injured soldier.

“She was an informer; she had a transmitter in her house. The British supplied the transmitter [to watch] the movements of IRA volunteers around Divis Flats at that time,” Hughes said. “I sent a squad over to the house to check it out and there was a transmitter. We retrieved [it], arrested her, took her away, interrogated her, and she told [us] what she was doing.”

Hughes said he wasn’t “on the scene at the time”, but insisted that his unit took possession of the transmitter and, because she was a woman, released McConville with a warning. He claimed that within a few weeks another army transmitter had been put in McConville’s flat.

“She was still co-operating with the British . . . getting paid by the British to pass on information. The squad was brought into operation then,” he said. “And she was arrested again and taken away.”

Hughes said he knew McConville was to be “executed” but didn’t know whether she was to be “disappeared” or her body left on the street. He claimed Ivor Bell, another IRA leader, argued for the body to be dumped in public, but was over-ruled.

“There was only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed,” he said. “That man is now the head of Sinn Fein. I did not give the order to execute that woman — he did. And yet he went to see [McConville’s] kids to promise an investigation into her death.

“[Bell] argued, ‘if you are going to kill her, put her on the street. What’s the sense of killing her and burying her if no-one knows what she was killed for?’ ”

Asked if Adams had rejected this logic, Hughes replied: “He rejected it.” And ordered her to be disappeared, the interviewer asked. “To be buried. She was an informer.”

Hughes accused the Sinn Fein leader of getting into a position where he had to deny all of his IRA past. “It . . . appears that way,


Ironic isn’t it that this is the man who has been leading the charge for an Independent Truth Commission to uncover facts in the murders of innocent civilians by the British military and so called “security forces” working in collaboration with them. The fact is that none of the participants in the “Troubles” are completely without sin. Atrocities were committed by all of them. The truth should also apply to all of them.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Orange Order opposes visit by the Pope

Orange Order opposes visit by the Pope

Newsletter – 24 March 2010

THE Orange Order has voiced its opposition to a planned visit to the UK by Pope Benedict XVI. The Pontiff is due to fulfill a series of engagements in Scotland and England in mid-September.

The Pope's itinerary is scheduled to include a reception at Holyrood Palace hosted by the Queen, a speech in Westminster and a visit to Coventry.

However, there are no plans for the leader of the Catholic Church to visit Northern Ireland.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Orange Order said while the Institution recognizes the "civil and religious rights of all", it could not "welcome or agree with the visit of the Pope to this country".

The Orange statement claimed the teaching of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church is at "total variance with the Biblical message that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone".

It went on: "We therefore call on all the citizens of the United Kingdom, and especially members of the Loyal Orange Institution, to demonstrate their opposition to the Pope's visit to England and Scotland, and to oppose any future invitation to visit Northern Ireland.

"At the same time, we call on all members of the Loyal Orange Institution to refrain from any uncharitable acts or sentiments against our Roman Catholic fellow countrymen.

"Furthermore, we urge all members of the Institution to examine their own relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, to make sure that they have a saving
faith in him."

Under current Orange Order rules, members are not encouraged to partake in worship at a Roman Catholic Church.


Leopards don’t change their spots and the Loyal Orange Institution does not change their inbred hatred and bigotry against the Catholic Church. Please bear in mind that these are the same people who were invited by the Smithsonian Institute to participate in a folk festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC three years ago. The theme of the festival was to demonstrate the “cultural diversity in the North of Ireland today”. Shamefully, the Stormont government supported their participation in the festival Washington DC over the strong objections of Irish American Catholic activists. One can only wonder if Stormont would also support the Orange Order’s opposition to a possible visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the North of Ireland.

Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus - 4th Degree

Monday, March 22, 2010

Scandal shows how prone we are to hypocrisy and hysteria

Scandal shows how prone we are to hypocrisy and hysteria

Ruth Dudley Edwards is sickened by the abuse of children, but also by the persecution of essentially good people like Brady

Ruth Dudley Edwards – Sunday Independent - March 21 2010

I had a struggle to feel proud to be Irish this St Patrick's Day. Normally I would have smiled tolerantly at the ubiquitous shamrock-bespattered leprechaun hats and orange beards infesting central London. But I was afflicted by an attack of existential gloom, brought on by listening to Morning Ireland in full cry over Cardinal Sean Brady.

It wasn't so much that we are at our least attractive when in sanctimonious lynch-mob mode: it was because this was RTE at its worst.

It was bad listening to Charlie Bird in Washington trying to persuade Brian Cowen to call for Brady's resignation and order a police investigation of his behaviour in the Seventies, but at least the Taoiseach firmly dismissed any idea that he should interfere in Church matters or the operational independence of the gardai.

But then came the utterly fantastic interview with Martin McGuinness, who had no such statesmanlike inhibitions.

Wringing his hands, McGuinness told us how he tried to be as good a Catholic as he could be, how the people whose voices have not been listened to should be heard, how the Church should demonstrate real leadership and how the Cardinal "should consider his position".

When it came "to such a serious matter as child abuse I do think there's a very grave responsibility on everybody in positions of leadership to do everything possible to ensure the protection of children".

I waited for Bird to ask a few of the obvious questions. Surely you are in no position to criticize Cardinal Brady for a sin of omission as a young man?

By your own admission, were you not involved by 1975 in an organization that killed and mutilated children and destroyed innumerable lives?

Did Pope John Paul II on his knees in 1979 not beg the IRA in the name of God "to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace"? Why did a good Catholic like you ignore his plea?

Would the IRA not have murdered anyone who reported any of its members to the police?

Was there not a culture of secrecy and authoritarianism within the republican movement that suppressed all criticism of the leadership?

Since Gerry Adams allowed a brother he believed had raped his own daughter to work in his constituency in youth organizations for years, should he not resign?

Which heads should roll because it took months to suspend an alleged child-abusing Sinn Fein councillor?

Is your neck not made of solid brass?

Bird didn't ask those questions. He just kept pressing him to go further and call directly for Brady's resignation. And at the end, he said sympathetically, "It must be hard for you to say something like this to him".

Oh, it was hard, said McGuinness, because he had found Brady "very decent, very supportive of the peace process". However, "We who are in positions of political leadership have a responsibility to lead".

And so I mooched off into the street, glowered at the leprechauns and with difficulty held back from explaining to passers-by that we are a nation of slovenly minded hypocrites and self-righteous hysterics.

However, that isn't really true. I spent a few days in Clare the other week, where one could speak of showing some compassion to the clergy without someone shrieking that you condone child abuse.

After abandoning religion in my teens, I spent the next couple of decades practicing anti-Catholicism until I realized it was time I got over it.

So I learned to be a religion-friendly atheist, not least because I found in Northern Ireland many people whose Christianity had enabled them to forgive perpetrators of terrible crimes. And now my country is in the in the grip of adolescent anti-Catholicism and I feel sorry for its victims.

Some Catholic clergy did bad things, others showed a lack of moral courage and others defended their institution blindly in the way the institutionalized do. In Ireland, our craw-thumping society colluded all the way in allowing them to abuse their power.

I am sickened by what happened to children, but I'm sickened too by the persecution of people I believe to be fundamentally good, like the 70-year-old Cardinal Brady and the 82-year-old Pope Benedict XVI. We are all fallible.

Perhaps next time Bird is looking for a question to ask Martin McGuinness, he might ask him why he's forgotten Jesus Christ's recommendation that you don't throw stones unless you're sinless.


Perhaps Mr. McGuinness should examine his conscience, look inward, and practice some self criticism before attacking a man who has dedicated his entire life to the service of God and his fellow man. His criticism of Cardinal Brady marks him as more of a publicity seeking, run of the mill politician than the statesman in the making that some of his admirers consider him to be. Ms. Edwards, a self proclaimed atheist, has struck the nail squarely on the head in this article.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hypocrites should keep a stony silence

Hypocrites should keep a stony silence

Liam Clarke - The Sunday Times - March 21, 2010

In the bible, Jesus saved an adulterer from death by stoning after challenging her executors: “Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” Nobody was enough of a hypocrite to do so. (In an alternative version, Jesus turns and says: “Mother, you are being a bit hard on her,” as a massive rock strikes the adulterer on the head.) The problem with the widespread, and justified, condemnation of the failings of the Catholic hierarchy in dealing with sex-abuse allegations is that many of those throwing the rocks are far from faultless themselves. Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley are two examples.

During his visit to Washington, America, last week, the Sinn Fein deputy first minister expressed forthright views about the revelation that cardinal Sean Brady had taken part in a church tribunal after which two young alleged victims of clerical child abuse were sworn to secrecy. “I think there was a lot of concern among Catholics on the island of Ireland that there was not going to be a fundamental change to bad practices in the past. Now I think people will be demanding fundamental change,” McGuinness said, adding that Brady should “consider his position”.

The sentiments are unexceptional, but McGuinness was the wrong person to express them without making a clean breast of his own and his party’s past. According to Eileen Kelly, a worker in Belfast’s Rape Crisis Centre for more than 20 years, the attitude taken by Sinn Fein and the IRA to sex-abuse cases was little better than the church’s.

“There is a huge amount of hypocrisy from different levels of society. It is a case of do as I say, don’t do as I do,” she said. “In the vast majority of cases, it [the attitude of republicans to sex abuse allegations] was absolute denial and silence. We have become aware of cases recently where there appears to have been some input from the party, but that was not the norm. In a few cases, women were given some apparent level of support but many of them felt they were being interrogated rather than helped.”

Think of Liam Adams, the brother of the Sinn Fein president. Liam has not been tried and is entitled to the presumption of innocence in the sex-abuse charges against him, but consider how the allegations were handled. He was moved about the country and for a time lived in America without those he was staying with being told that he was under suspicion. Gerry Adams, who says he believed the allegations when they were first made to him in 1987, did not inform other members of Sinn Fein or the authorities. The result was that McGuinness was photographed opening a Sinn Fein office in Dundalk alongside Liam Adams, who worked on youth projects there and in west Belfast.

Gerry attended Liam’s second wedding and was photographed canvassing with him. To any onlooker, or anyone following Liam’s career through the press, there was no hint of suspicion. What is more, Gerry told a meeting in north Belfast in 1995 that child abuse should not be reported to the police because “the RUC are not acceptable”. This was 20 years after Fr Brady, as he then was, and his superiors failed to report child-abuse allegations to the gardai.

As for imposing codes of silence, we only have to look at McGuinness’s refusal to answer crucial questions put to him at the Bloody Sunday inquiry, citing “a republican code of honour”. “There have been many occasions in the past when people who betrayed republicanism went over to the British and were executed by the IRA,” he explained under cross-examination.

So it is difficult to see where McGuinness acquired the moral authority to judge the church on issues of secrecy and cover-ups without coming clean about his own faults. Well into this decade, the republican leadership advised people not to go to the police on any issue. As late as 2005, Adams advised witnesses to the murder of Robert McCartney, who was knifed by republicans outside a Belfast bar, to make statements to “a solicitor, or any other authoritative or reputable person or body” but not to the police. The IRA tried to handle the affair with an internal inquiry.

People attending IRA inquiries, or who brought complaints to the IRA about the behaviour of its members, were also bound to secrecy. It is not much of a compliment to the Catholic church that its behaviour was no worse than that of the IRA, but it should be a reminder to Sinn Fein that, by judging others, it is itself judged.

The same could be said for Ian Paisley Senior. “The Brady/Smyth revelations are not in accordance with law, morality, with people’s sense of fairness, with justice, and with what is deemed acceptable behaviour . . . they seduce evil and they dishonour good,” the former DUP leader stormed in his online News Letter column on Friday.

Yet did Paisley do all that was necessary to clear up the sex abuse scandal at Kincora boys’ home? That broke in 1980, not long after the hearings Brady presided over. William McGrath, a member of Paisley’s Free Presbyterian church, ran the home. He was also at the centre of a gay paedophile ring and master of Ireland’s [heritage] Orange Lodge.

In 1973, shortly before McGrath was due to preside over the lodge’s annual service at the John Knox Free Presbyterian church in Belfast, Paisley was contacted by Valerie Shaw, one of his church missionaries. Homosexuality was against the law and Paisley was campaigning against its legalisation. Shaw alleged that McGrath was running a vice ring and produced a compromising letter from another man. The man told Paisley that McGrath had seduced him.

According to Shaw, Paisley’s attitude was a mixture of compassion and condemnation. “Sister, judge that ye be not judged, thank God that you are not a pervert,” she remembers him telling her. Paisley said that he confronted McGrath, who denied everything. “The case was so serious I told McGrath that under the circumstances he would not be permitted to take any part in the service,” he wrote later. “I also informed the lodge accordingly. Certain friends of McGrath in the lodge protested vigorously and talked about cancelling the service and picketing the church. I remained adamant and the service went on, McGrath taking no part therein. There the matter ended as far as I was concerned.”

Is this any better than the way Brady handled allegations put to him about Fr Brendan Smyth? Paisley may not have known that McGrath worked in a boys’ home but he could easily have found out.

There are many other examples of hypocrisy in Irish society. A commentator who has condemned secret compensation contracts between priests and their accusers has secured an order forbidding disclosure of a police investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. The terms of the injunction prevent me from going further.

The Catholic church, with its ageing, celibate male power structure, has suffered a systemic failure which demands root and branch change. Brian D’Arcy, a priest of the Passionist order in Enniskillen, believes the compulsory celibacy imposed on the church’s 500,000 priests worldwide is central to the problem. D’Arcy argues that if bishops had children themselves, they might be more reluctant to keep child abuse secret. Sean McElgunn, a retired priest who is now married, thinks allowing women into the priesthood would also result in a more rounded attitude.

The whole of society has failed child-abuse victims. Many who rush to condemn shy away from confronting the truth when it touches their own interests. To adapt the biblical story, those who live in glass houses should not throw the first stone.


Nobody in their right mind would in any way try to justify the abuse of innocent children no matter who the perpetrator may be. But, the writer of this article raises some very valid points and cites individual cases to support his opinion that the Catholic Church is not the only place where these abuses of innocent children occur. Justice can only be served when the same standards of punishment for these horrific acts are applied to all who are found guilty of participating in them. The principle of innocent until proven guilty should be applied in Cardinal Brady’s case rather than the opposite. Until then public officials holding high office such as those cited in this article who are certainly not without sin themselves, should refrain from preaching morality and instead concentrate their efforts on doing the job they were elected to do.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hamill murder inquiry: Call to reconsider decision not to prosecute RUC officer

Hamill murder inquiry: Call to reconsider decision not to prosecute RUC officer

Friday March 12 2010 – Irish Independent

A public inquiry into an infamous sectarian murder in the North called today for the authorities to reconsider their decision not to prosecute a police officer accused of protecting one of the killers.

Catholic father-of-three Robert Hamill was attacked by a loyalist mob in Portadown, Co Armagh, in April 1997 as he walked home after a night out with friends.

The inquiry has heard claims that armed police at the scene failed to intervene during the prolonged attack and that as a result the 25-year-old suffered fatal injuries.

Today the inquiry issued an unscheduled interim report urging the Public Prosecution Service to "reconsider urgently" a 2004 decision not to proceed with the prosecution of former Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Reserve Constable Robert

Atkinson for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The sectarian murder of Mr Hamill was one of the most high- profile cases of the Troubles and was compared with the Metropolitan Police mishandling of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

The Hamill Inquiry opened in January last year and immediately heard claims that, within days of the murder, the then RUC had evidence that a fellow officer protected one of the killers from prosecution.

The opening session of the inquiry was told that, within two weeks of the murder, police had names for those involved in the assault, and were aware of claims that Mr Atkinson warned one of the killers to dispose of clothes worn in the attack and updated him on the investigation.

Mr Atkinson was one of four armed RUC officers in a police Land Rover parked at the scene of the assault during which Mr Hamill suffered serious head injuries, before dying 11 days later in hospital without regaining consciousness.

Mr Atkinson denied the allegations made against him and a charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice was withdrawn in 2004.

Today the inquiry said: "The inquiry's interim report, which was delivered to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on January 29, 2010, makes its recommendation on the basis solely of the inquiry's concerns about the need to take into account all matters available which are relevant to making a decision whether or not to prosecute.

"The report does not comment on the merits of the original prosecution nor on what conclusion might be reached after any reconsideration.

"The inquiry operates under the terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 which contains a provision for public inquiries to deliver an interim report."

The allegations surfaced again last year at the opening session of the inquiry when lead counsel Ashley Underwood QC revealed the details of the case.

"By May 10, 1997, the RUC had the identities of a number of Protestants who were said to have murdered Mr Hamill," he told the inquiry.

"Further, it had evidence that one of the Reserve Constables in the Land Rover, Mr Atkinson, had protected one of those, by telling him to get rid of his clothing and by keeping him informed about the investigation.

"Nonetheless, no-one has been convicted of murdering Mr Hamill and only one person was convicted of affray arising out of the attack on him.

"Reserve Constable Atkinson was eventually charged in relation to a conspiracy arising out of the alleged tip-offs that he gave, but was not prosecuted to trial."

Today's intervention by the Inquiry comes as it is still compiling its final report on the case, which it signalled could take a considerable amount of time to complete.

A spokeswoman for the inquiry said today: "The inquiry panel is conscious of the desire for public inquiries to produce their reports with due expediency.

"The panel was therefore anxious that this important recommendation should be delivered to the Secretary of State at the earliest opportunity.

"The inquiry has published its interim report at the invitation of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

"Although it is impossible at this stage for the inquiry to provide any firm date for the delivery of its final report, it hopes to complete it within the next 12 months."

Mr Hamill's case was championed during the late 1990s by his family's solicitor, Rosemary Nelson, who campaigned for a public inquiry into the allegations of police misconduct.

In March 1999, Mrs Nelson, a 40-year-old married mother of three, was also murdered amid claims of security force collusion.

The solicitor, based in the Lurgan area of Co Armagh, had made allegations of police and security force harassment, and had also reported threats from violent loyalist groups.

Mrs Nelson died from major injuries after a bomb exploded under her car as she drove from home. Next week marks the anniversary of her March 15 murder.

A loyalist splinter group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the sophistication of the device and the history of threats against the lawyer fuelled speculation of a wider conspiracy.

A separate public inquiry was subsequently launched into allegations of security force involvement in Mrs Nelson's murder.

The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry and the Robert Hamill Inquiry were both heard in the Interpoint building in Belfast city centre.

The inquiry into Mrs Nelson's case has also concluded and it is also compiling its final report.


Certainly anybody with an ounce of respect for the sanctity of human life and the
rule of law would be absolutely appalled at the facts surrounding the savage
murder of Robert Hamill at he hands of a gang of loyalist thugs. I happened to
have been visiting friends in Lurgan at the time of the murder and remember well
the outrage in the Nationalist community when it was realized that the attack was
witnessed by RUC officers in a nearby Land Rover. They did nothing to aid the
victim or arrest his assailants. It is right that this case is reopened and,
hopefully, the RUC officers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Maybe that will also provide some incentive to investigate more thoroughly the
equally brutal murders of Robert McCartney and Paul Quinn and bring those
responsible to justice.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

President and Cowen welcome decision on policing

President and Cowen welcome decision on policing

GERRY MORIARTY, Northern Editor - The Irish Times - Wed, Mar 10, 2010

PRESIDENT MARY McAleese and Taoiseach Brian Cowen were among those who warmly welcomed yesterday’s Assembly decision to devolve policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont.

A Minister for Justice for Northern Ireland is now due to be appointed on April 12th.

Despite the Ulster Unionist Party opposition, the Assembly overwhelmingly voted – by 88 votes to 17 – in favour of the devolving of powers.

Yesterday’s vote marks the effective completion of devolution, although some matters such as MI5 operations and the running of the Serious Organised Crime Agency will be reserved to Westminster.

The vote has triggered fresh speculation about the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth, visiting the Republic

Two years ago at Queen’s University Belfast, President McAleese, citing Government policy, made clear an invitation could only be issued when devolution was completed.

President McAleese in her statement last night made no reference to a possible visit. However, she is on record as saying she wishes a visit to happen but that it is a matter for the British and Irish governments.

Asked about a visit on RTÉ yesterday evening, Mr Cowen said he did not want to anticipate what might happen, but rather to focus on yesterday’s “historic” decision to transfer justice powers.

The only grouping to oppose justice devolution in the Assembly yesterday was the Ulster Unionist Party.

All but one of the UUP’s 18 Assembly members – the Rev Robert Coulter who was in London receiving an MBE – voted against the transfer of justice powers.

Some Ulster Unionists had expressed hope that their opposition to the transfer of powers would panic a sufficient number of DUP Assembly members to abstain or vote against the transfer of powers motion.

But when the vote was taken shortly before 5pm yesterday all but one of the DUP’s MLAs who were entitled to vote, the Rev William McCrea, united behind First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson in supporting the motion.

Mr McCrea was excused from the vote because he was attending a funeral, according to the DUP. His son, Ian, who is also an MLA, supported the motion.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, who on Sunday week warned that his party could not support the motion without UUP support, indicated that since then the DUP established that there was unionist community confidence for creating a Department of Justice.

In total 34 of the DUP’s 36 MLAs voted for the transfer of justice powers. The DUP speaker William Hay would only have been entitled to cast his ballot in the event of a tied vote.

Progressive Unionist Party leader Dawn Purvis also supported the motion, making a total of 35 unionists supporting devolution of justice.

A total of 44 nationalists also voted in favour – 27 Sinn Féin members, 16 SDLP members and former Sinn Féin member, Gerry McHugh, now an independent,from Fermanagh.

The seven Alliance members, the single Green Party MLA Brian Wilson and the independent non-aligned MLA, Dr Kieran Deeny from Omagh, also voted for the transfer of powers.

Yesterday’s vote paves the way for a justice minister to be appointed on April 12th. This almost certainly will be Alliance leader David Ford as the only other declared candidate, the SDLP’s Alban Maginness, is unlikely to command the cross-community unionist-nationalist support required to be appointed.

On April 12th some 540 officials are due to transfer from the Northern Ireland Office to the new department.

The department will have a budget for 2010/2011 of £1.3 billion, which excludes the £800 million that British prime minister Gordon Brown has pledged to pay for additional matters such as a police training college, hearing loss claims and police pensions.

Mr Cowen and Mr Brown in a joint statement hailed yesterday’s vote as a “significant step forward for the people of Northern Ireland”, which sent a “clear message of confidence in the future, and commitment to build on the gains of the peace process that have been achieved over the last 12 years”.

Northern Secretary Shaun Woodward and the PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott also welcomed the vote.


This is certainly an historic moment in the history of the North of Ireland. The final piece of the devolution puzzle is finally in place in accordance with the Good Friday and St. Andrew’s Agreements. Now, it is up to the N.I. Assembly to prove that they can, in fact, effectively conduct all aspects of day to day government without engaging in long periods of suspension of business predicated on petty political differences. All of the barriers to progress have now been removed, the time has come to get serious about conducting business for the betterment of all of the people of the North of Ireland. The world will be watching.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sinn Féin ardfheis

Sinn Féin ardfheis

The Irish Times - Mon, Mar 08, 2010

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams may have credibility problems with the broad electorate, but his reception at the party’s weekend ardfheis in Dublin would suggest a colossal level of support among active members. As for early retirement, he appears determined to lead the party into the forthcoming Westminster and Northern Ireland Assembly elections and beyond.

Attempting to tap into public anger over Government cutbacks and widespread unemployment, Mr Adams spoke of transforming life in the South and building a new Republic where there would be homes and work for all and no banker would be able to evict a family. Nama would not be tolerated. There would be help for the farm sector and disadvantaged areas. And people would be encouraged to take a stand against corruption, greed and injustice. It was as appealing as homemade apple pie.

But, in urging people to take a stand against authority, there were hints of a public disobedience campaign.
The grainy, difficult side of politics emerged when discussion turned to the Hillsborough agreement and arrangements for the transfer of policing and justice powers. Martin McGuinness excoriated Reg Empey and the Ulster Unionist Party for jeopardising a hard-won deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, while Mr Adams justified concessions made to Peter Robinson on Orange parades. Sinn Féin was in government in Northern Ireland and was bringing about change. It could do the same in the South.

It was a delicate exercise. Having offered to share power with Fianna Fáil before a disappointing 2007 general election and to form a broad alliance with the Labour Party and the Green Party before the local and European elections of 2009, future party alliances were uncertain. Activists sought to forestall a future alliance with Fianna Fail through an anti-coalition motion.

They were routed by a leadership that damned both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and went on to assure delegates that a special conference would be called to decide the matter. Despite that, such open dissent within the party – following the resignation of a number of councillors – is likely to spell future trouble.

Becalmed in the opinion polls since last year’s local elections, Sinn Féin has struggled to connect with the economic concerns of southern voters and offer a positive way forward. Its solution: a jobs creation programme based on higher taxes and increased State borrowing and spending over an extended period carried echoes of trade union demands. The approach is likely to appeal to newly unemployed and low paid workers.
Getting that message to its target audience may be complicated. Delegates complained of being excluded by the media from the broad economic debate. Their problems do not stop there. Support for the party is greatest among low-income groups where voting can be sporadic, at best. Expanding that base will be difficult. Senior members spoke of making ‘incremental’ progress. Sinn Féin is flying high in Northern Ireland. Down here, it looks like being a long, slow haul.


This is a classic example of the radical socialist cotswallop that is at the root of Sinn Fein’s political agenda. If their goal for a United Ireland is “a 32 county socialist republic”, it certainly is not mine. I am quite sure that a huge majority of those Americans who have admired their steadfast, unwavering pursuit of a free and United Ireland, myself included, were either not aware of, or chose not to recognize their radical socialist agenda. As a very proud citizen of both the United States of America and Ireland, I am disgusted by the very thought of the United Ireland of our dreams being established as a 32 county socialist republic.

I do not believe, nor will I ever accept that in order for a person to be considered an avid supporter of a free, united, 32 county Ireland whose destiny is determined only by her own people, the person must also be expected to support the entire political agenda any specific political party. This is especially true when that party's agenda advocates a policy of radical socialism. I want to be perfectly clear when I say that I hold no animosity toward Sinn Fein, but I vehemently disagree with their socialist political ideology.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Friday, March 5, 2010

Delahunt won’t seek re-election

Delahunt won’t seek re-election

By John P. Kelly - The Patriot Ledger - March 4, 2010

Fourteen years after William Delahunt survived a grueling race to win election to Congress, the Quincy Democrat is announcing that he will not seek an eighth term in November’s election.

“I think Democrats are going to have to work overtime to retain the seat,” said Philip W. Johnston, a powerhouse among South Shore Democrats, who lost the 1996 primary to Delahunt after two recounts and a judicial order.

Delahunt’s retirement comes as Massachusetts Republicans are emboldened by newly elected U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s underdog victory in January over Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Nowhere was Brown’s support stronger than in Delahunt’s 10th Congressional District, which covers the South Shore to Cape Cod and the Islands. Brown captured 60 percent of the district’s vote in the special election, carrying every community from Quincy to Eastham on Cape Cod.

Johnston said Republican energy flowing from Brown’s election “presents a very serious challenge to our party,” especially for a congressional seat in a “swing district” like the 10th.

Delahunt hinted weeks ago he was considering making this his final term. Within both parties, the rare prospect of an up-for-grabs congressional seat has set political heartbeats racing.

Several potential candidates have already emerged.

Delahunt has not publicly announced his future plans. But at 68, the next 10 months could be the cap to a political career spanning nearly 40 years.

As a young lawyer in 1971, Delahunt was elected to the Quincy City Council. After a single term, he was elected to the state’s House of Representatives, which he also left after two years to become Norfolk County district attorney, a position he held for 21 years.

In Congress, Delahunt sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is known for, among other things, pushing for reassessments of the country’s policies in Latin America, including an effort to lift travel restrictions on American travel to Cuba.

Delahunt has been closely involved in the redevelopment of the South Weymouth Naval Air Station. He campaigned passionately, though unsuccessfully, for clemency to be granted to Pvt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, a Plymouth Marine serving an 11-year prison sentence for killing an Iraqi man in 2006.

Delahunt has come under recent scrutiny for his handling as district attorney of a 1986 shooting in Braintree involving Amy Bishop, the woman now charged in an Alabama triple homicide. He told reporters last month the case would have no bearing on his political future.

Senator John Kerry said Delahunt’s departure will create “a void” in the place of Delahunt’s “incredibly strong voice for Massachusetts.”

“But even as a public servant who cared about the world, Bill’s compass was always set by Quincy,” Kerry said in a statement. “He could always tell you the latest buzz from his coffee shop at home and what a barometer that was. It kept him grounded in peoples’ lives.”


This announcement comes less than a week after a much advertised meeting featuring Congressman Delahunt. The meeting in Quincy, MA was sponsored by the ILIR to inform the undocumented Irish community and their supporters in the Boston area of the current status of immigration reform in the U.S. Congress. Despite the optimism on the part of the sponsors, Congressman Delahunt, to his credit, was very candid in his assessment of the situation and conveyed to those present that he felt that it was unlikely that any significant changes in immigration policy could be expected this year. As a constituent in Congressman Delahunt’s district, I would like to thank him for his service and offer my best wishes to him in all of his future endeavors.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Congressman urges patience, resolve at ILIR meeting

Congressman urges patience, resolve at ILIR meeting

By Michael Norby – Irish Emigrant – March 1, 2010

Those gathered were told to mobilize even though immigration reform looks set to be delayed until next year.

In his district of Quincy last Saturday afternoon (Feb. 27), Congressman William Delahunt addressed a large audience and offered a frank but hopeful assessment of the current state of immigration reform efforts. Speaking at the Tirrell Room on Quarry Street, the veteran politician said that it was unlikely, due to mid-term elections, that immigration reform would be given priority this year.

“The environment in Washington is best described as toxic,” said Delahunt. “These are difficult times. Ever since the financial markets reached the verge of catastrophic collapse last year, we’ve been in a difficult position and the mood is ugly.

“That has an affect on the debate on comprehensive immigration reform. Members of the House and Senate are nervous because they are standing for election this year,” he added.

With healthcare reform, the economy, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq sure to grab the majority of the headlines in the run-up to the November mid-terms, Delahunt, a member of the judiciary committee, urged those gathered to show resolve.

“We are running out of time,” he said. “I really want to be honest with you. On August 1, we stand in recess. Then September and October will revolve around those who are seeking re-election or are running for open seats and then we get ready for the Christmas holidays. It will be difficult to find time in the legislative calendar to address the issue.”

After many years of rallies, meetings, phone calls and promises from elected officials to finally bring the matter to a successful conclusion, a further delay may not have been what undocumented Irish men and women wanted to hear, but Delahunt indicated that a lot more preparation work can be done in the meantime.

“This is a constant struggle,” he said. “If it doesn’t come to the floor of the house or the senate this year, we have to be back in 2011. I’ve made it very clear to my colleagues on the judiciary committee that if the Irish question is not solved to my satisfaction then I, and they, simply cannot support legislation that does not once and for all address the problem."

He called for Irish organizations and residents to flex their collective muscle to ensure that many more Irish-Americans and elected officials are fully educated about the plight of the undocumented in the United States.

“Now is the time to act,” he said. “There are so many Irish-Americans in congress that we have influence unlike any other ethnic minority in the country. Those of you in this room have to help us organize that influence.

“Identify those members who you believe you can influence,” he added. “There are too many Irish-Americans that don’t recognize the problems and most are unaware of how many young Irish men and women are living in the shadows.”

Those in attendance also heard words of support from former congressman Barry Morrison, Ciaran Staunton and Hugh Meehan from The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, Danny O’Connor, the national chair of the AOH, as well as representatives from the Irish Cultural Center and the GAA.

“There is no ethnic group in the country that should have the influence as significant as the American-Irish community," said Delahunt. "There exists a deep and profound affection for Ireland. Appeal to their conscience and talk about the morality of this issue.


The turnout for this event can only be described as dismal following a strong advertising campaign on the part of the ILIR. Estimates of the number those in attendance were given as approximately 100. Of that number, approximately 70 to 75 were established Irish Americans who were attending to show their support for the undocumented Irish. Congressman Delahunt’s remarks in this article were not entirely unexpected which may account for the very small number of undocumented Irish. Very frankly, they are growing weary of unfulfilled promises of immigration reform legislation that would allow them to resolve their very unenviable status and get on with their lives without the ever present stigma of illegality hanging over their heads. The U.S. government currently has an agreement with Australia that allows for 10,500 non-immigrant (temporary) visas per year to be issued to applicants from Australia with at least a Bachelor’s Degree and a promise of a job from a U.S. employer. The job must require the person filling it to have a degree. The general feeling in the undocumented Irish community in the Boston area seems to be that in consideration of all of the requirements, this type of visa would do nothing to resolve their plight. They are only interested in visas that would provide a pathway to permanent residency and eventually to American citizenship.