Thursday, July 29, 2010

Two-phones Bertie says he's entitled to multiple claims

Two-phones Bertie says he's entitled to multiple claims

Ken Foxe – Sunday Tribune – July 25, 2010

Bertie Ahern has insisted he is entitled to make multiple claims for his mobile phone bill and travel expenses.

As a former taoiseach, Ahern has his mobile phone bill paid for by the taxpayer but is also in receipt of a separate telephone allowance as part of the general expenses regime for Dáil deputies.

He also has the use of a full-time car and driver, another arrangement that is put in place for all former taoisigh, but continues to claim travel expenses under the parliamentary allowance made available to all TDs.

Since a new expenses regime was introduced earlier this year, Ahern has been claiming the maximum unvouched amount allowable to Dublin parliamentarians.

He has put in for €2,250 for each of the past three months under the new system, claiming a total of €6,750 tax-free.

His claim is the exact same as that of Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, constituency colleague Cyprian Brady, and independent TDs Finian McGrath and Maureen O'Sullivan.

However, unlike those four deputies – and other Dublin TDs in a similar position – Ahern has use of a free mobile phone and a full-time garda driver.

A statement from the Fianna Fáil press office said that the former taoiseach was not doing anything wrong and claiming only what he is entitled to. A spokesman said: "Bertie is not in receipt of a mobile phone allowance in his capacity as a TD. As you will be aware, the Department of the Taoiseach arrangement is in place for all former holders of that office and therefore a matter for that department."

Since stepping down as taoiseach, Ahern has been in receipt of €14,000 for mobile phone bills and airport VIP charges from his former department.

Between his resignation in 2008 and May of this year, the former taoiseach ran up a €8,331 mobile phone bill and a further €5,682 at airport lounges. Both are paid by the state.

However, allowances made available to all sitting TDs, including Ahern, also cover the cost of mobile phone bills and other telephony.

An explanation of the public representation allowance, which is worth €15,000 if unvouched, makes specific reference to its use for mobile phones.

According to the guide, it is used to cover "telephone calls, otherwise than from Leinster House, including line rental and mobile phone calls, relating to the performance of his/her duties as a member".

The allowance, under which Ahern has been claiming the maximum unvouched amount of €1,250 a month, also covers constituency office costs, stationery, insurance, cleaning, advertising, leafleting and other routine expenditure.

The former taoiseach is also claiming his full entitlement of €10,000 a year – claimed as €1,000 each month – in a "travel and accommodation allowance".

According to the Houses of the Oireachtas, it is paid to cover "the costs of travel to and from Leinster House, accommodation where applicable and, for deputies only, constituency travel".

However, Ahern has no travel costs as a full-time garda driver and car is provided to him at extensive cost to the taxpayer.

The former taoiseach, who lives just a few miles from Leinster House in Drumcondra, is also considered unlikely to require any expenses for accommodation when on Dáil business.


Bertie fiddles while Eire burns! Is it any wonder why Ireland teeters on the brink of bankruptcy? How can the Irish people, many of whom are not sure of where next month’s rent is going to come from, tolerate these obscene, incredibly selfish perks on the part of former “public servants”? The Irish government is in the process of making 3 billion Euro in budget cuts that will have devastating effects on every Irish worker and his family, as well as pensioners who have worked all their lives to, hopefully, enjoy the fruits of their labor in their remaining years. There is something drastically wrong with a system that allows former politicians like Bertie Ahern to live in the lap of luxury while the average Irish worker and his family are expected to shoulder the burden of a seriously flawed system.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Brother Eamon Daly and his basketball team from Omagh

To all Hibernian Brothers,

My wife & I were very pleased to have the opportunity to spend a few very pleasurable hours in the company of Brother Eamon Daly and his basketball team from Omagh , Co. Tyrone. Eamon is in every sense of the word an exceptional man and an exemplary Brother Hibernian and friend. His program epitomizes what Hibernianism is all about. Eamon and I spoke in Derry when he first embarked on his program and about his plans to bring young people of both traditions together through participation in sports. His tenacity of purpose and dedication to his ideals have proven beyond doubt that he was absolutely right. Politics are politics but winning over the hearts and minds of young people regardless of the religious or political affiliation of their parents is the key to a lasting peace in Ireland.

The mutual respect and genuine friendship for each other that was so evident between Eamon, his assistant coaches, and especially "his boys" was truly inspirational and very heartwarming. God Bless you, Eamon. The young people in your adopted home in Ireland are so fortunate to have a man like you in their corner and the lives of your Brother Hibernians are richer as a result of our friendship with you which transcends all politics.

Yours in our Motto,

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Friday, July 23, 2010

Baltimore Archdiocese to send Vatican results of Father Peyton inquiry

Baltimore Archdiocese to send Vatican results of Father Peyton inquiry

By George P. Matysek Jr. - Posted: 7/21/2010

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton, a priest whose popular radio and television programs promoted family prayer, is a step closer to sainthood.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore recently completed an exhaustive investigation into Father Peyton's life and ministry, and archdiocesan officials were preparing to send copies of its 16,000-page report to the Vatican's Congregation for Saints' Causes by July 23.

Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien celebrated the closing of the archdiocesan inquiry with a July 20 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

Citing the archdiocese's experience with other sainthood causes, the Vatican asked Baltimore to take over the investigation of Father Peyton's cause from the Diocese of Fall River, Mass., in 2006. His cause was opened in June 2001 in that diocese. Father Peyton, who died in 1992, is buried in Easton, Mass.

Father Gilbert Seitz, Archbishop O'Brien's delegate for the inquiry, said the Vatican will use the Baltimore report to determine if Father Peyton lived in a heroic manner, which, if confirmed, would result in the church declaring him venerable.

Church authorities will then investigate possible healings that could be attributed to Father Peyton's intercession. If a healing is determined to be miraculous, Father Peyton -- currently known as a servant of God -- will be declared blessed. Another miracle will be needed for him to be canonized.

Father Peyton, who came to the United States from Ireland at age 19, was the founder of Holy Cross Family Ministries, which includes Family Rosary, Family Theater Productions, Father Peyton Family Institute and Family Rosary International.

"It was fascinating coming to know Father Peyton," said Father Seitz, noting that approximately 80 witnesses who knew or worked with Father Peyton were interviewed for the report. There were 50 witnesses from the United States and 30 from 13 other countries.

"He was fierce in his loyalty to the church and he was very proud to be Catholic and to share his faith," Father Seitz said told The Catholic Review, Baltimore's archdiocesan newspaper. "He probably was the first to see the role that electronic media could play in evangelizing."

Dolores Hope, widow of entertainer Bob Hope, was among the American witnesses interviewed. Joseph Campanella, a Hollywood actor, also gave testimony. Father Peyton came to know them and many movie stars and celebrities after founding Family Theater Productions in Hollywood, Calif., in 1947. His ministry produced more than 600 radio and television programs and 10,000 broadcasts.

The priest also conducted rosary crusades for millions of people in dozens of countries.

"He was extremely dedicated to promoting devotion to the Blessed Mother through the rosary," said Father Seitz.

The Baltimore team asked the bishops of 19 dioceses in the United States and 13 dioceses in other countries to appoint boards to take testimony and forward it to Baltimore. Father Seitz said the inquiry reached out to people "from Sydney to San Diego and from Rome to Rio de Janeiro."

"Our task was to coordinate the gathering of all that information," he said. "We also gathered archival material. A historical commission was appointed and its members visited seven different archival depositories to gather historical documents."

Father Peyton, the "rosary priest," is well known for coining these phrases: "The family that prays together, stays together," and "A country without prayer is a country without peace."

Eileen Gerwin, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Angels in Catonsville, served as Father Peyton's first secretary from 1945 to 1948 in Albany, N.Y. She met the priest when she was a sophomore at Vincentian Institute, a high school Father Peyton often visited to speak about the rosary.

"He used to dictate letters to me after school and I would type them up," remembered Gerwin, who was one of the witnesses in the inquiry. "They went out to priests and bishops and others to promote the rosary."

Gerwin remembered Father Peyton as being a "gentle" and "brilliant" man who was wholly devoted to Mary.

"He loved her and didn't mind telling people all she did for him and his family," Gerwin said. "He dedicated every minute of his life to her. I never remember him going to a play or a sports event or movie. He almost seemed to have no other passion than our Blessed Mother."

Gerwin said she felt like she was in the presence of a holy person whenever she was near Father Peyton.

"There's no doubt in my mind he's a saint," she said.


Amidst the many issues that an organization as large and diverse in their thinking as the Ancient Order of Hibernians can find to disagree on, I think that we could all agree that this is truly wonderful news. It should be especially well received by our Past National Chaplains Fr. Patrick Sullivan and Fr. Bartley MacPhaidin both of whom are also members of the Holy Cross Order.

How much of the truth can we really handle?

How much of the truth can we really handle?

As a society we need to know how many revelations we can face if we are to deal with the past. The former East Germany could hold the answer, says Liam Clarke

Thursday, 22 July 2010 – Belfast Telegraph

We need someone like Joachim Gauck to advise us on the truth recovery process in Northern Ireland. Gauck (70) is the Lutheran pastor who served as his country's Federal Commissioner for the Stasi archives from 1990, when the office was set up, until 2000.

Gauck's task was to decide, with the help of a team of experts, how much of the record of the communist state in East Germany, or the DDR as it was known, should be made public.

By and large he went for disclosure, but in some cases files were held back where they might endanger individuals.

"In the initial years after 1990, there was a desire to close the curtain and not worry about all this, but this changed when it was realized that keeping secret files closed could be more dangerous than opening them," said Marianne Birthler, his successor.

In Germany, there has been a process of publication with some amendments to protect individuals from attack and preserve their right to life under the European Convention of Human Rights. Individuals have a right to request records about them and there was a planned publication program of items of general interest.

The process has produced awkward moments when people discovered who had been reporting on them to the Stasi, the DDR's secret police.

Peter Miller, a Northern Ireland-born journalist based in Berlin in the 1980s, found Stasi officers sympathized with his wife because he left her to carry the heaviest packages on outings.

He found surveillance pictures of her staggering under the weight of a picnic basket. It was an awkward moment, but not as awkward as many people would face if all available records of their actions in the Northern Ireland Troubles were made available.

The parallel between Northern Ireland and the DDR is not exact - few would equate the RUC with the Stasi. However, we do have a security archive which is capable of solving many of the mysteries of our recent troubles.

This archive has been gathered together by the Historic Enquiries Team (HET), which was set up by the PSNI to review Troubles' murders. Most people don't realize how comprehensive this is.

All available evidence on the 3,268 Troubles' deaths has been assembled in a repository the size of the largest B&Q store near Lisburn. Besides police, Army and MI5 files, the HET has collated Press cuttings, the claims of paramilitary groups, the files of official investigations and more than 3,000 books on the Troubles.

At the click of a mouse investigators can produce graphs of all the attacks linked to a single weapon or arms shipment. They can, for instance, call up all information on red-haired gunmen or victims of the IRA's internal security department in a specific timeframe.

It is the largest, and most sophisticated, 'cold case' review exercise in history but despite all this effort, the PSNI believes that it will be lucky if it can produce even a handful of charges.

The trail is cold after so many years. Exhibits and individual items of evidence have not always been preserved properly and, although what has happened may seem obvious, there is seldom evidence of individual guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

This database contains the best clues we are likely to get to many unanswered questions of the Troubles. It may not be evidence that would stand up in court beyond reasonable doubt, but it is the raw material of history.

What is needed is a process of sifting and assessment by an independent body, which is where Gauck's advice would be useful.

To get results, strict rules of official secrecy would have to be suspended, though some details might need to be withheld for a fixed time period to protect life.

To command public confidence such a body would need real teeth.

A panel of historians, security experts and victims representatives could go through this material with a view to publishing as much as possible in a coherent and non-judgmental narrative.

They could have a remit to publish as full an account as possible and to review any information withheld at regular intervals - say every five years - to see if the circumstances are right to release it.

The body's remit could be extended to allow it to bring pressure on paramilitaries and individuals to co-operate, publicly indicating those who they believe hold vital information, but have refused to co-operate. They could name and shame and refusal to co-operate could carry the same penalties as contempt of court.

Publication of some information could compromise the hope of prosecution. We, as a society, would have to assess the trade-off between truth and justice.

Should individuals who co-operate be offered limited anonymity as they were at the Saville Inquiry? Or would it be best to leave out some details?

Such questions were answered differently in Soviet bloc countries. We, too, need to decide how much of the truth we can handle.


In recent times we have been told by several of the agencies in the North of Ireland of the necessity of gathering facts and figures on the period of the Troubles. Indeed, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has been calling for the establishment of an international truth commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding many of the murders that occurred during that horrific period. If, in fact, this archive actually exists in Lisburn and if it contains such comprehensive and extensive information, why hasn’t it been used as a source of truth recovery?

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Monday, July 19, 2010

Killed By His Comrades?

Killed By His Comrades?

Gerry McCann never believed his friend Paddy Joe Crawford committed suicide in 1973. Now he's looking for the truth from the IRA, writes Northern Editor Suzanne Breen

He remembers the older boy's kindness in the orphanage. There was a blizzard and the snow lay too deep for him to walk to school. "So Paddy Joe hoisted me up and carried me on his shoulders," says Gerry McCann. "I was five years old and he was 10. He was so thoughtful and giving. He made a big impression on me." Just over a

decade later, Paddy Joe Crawford was dead. He was found hanging from a rope in

June 1973 in Long Kesh, where he'd been interned, apparently having committed suicide.

But McCann never believed it was suicide: "I was only 16 when Paddy Joe died but even then I was suspicious that his IRA comrades had killed him. Prison would hold no fear for a boy who had grown up in institutions. He was a soft target for the IRA because he had no family to ask questions and make a fuss after his death. "I was only out of the home a year myself, living in digs and trying to find my feet in Belfast. I knew how ruthless the IRA was and I wasn't brave enough to do anything about it then."

But it preyed on McCann's mind for decades. Two years ago, he began his personal quest for the truth about Crawford's death. Under the Freedom of Information Act, he has secured prison files which point to an IRA cover-up. He has met Gerry Adams, leading IRA man Bobby Storey, and an IRA Army Council member in his search for answers. He has also spoken to ex-IRA prisoners in jail at the time of Crawford's death. They have told him Crawford was murdered.

And, amazingly, he has discovered that his friend was not an orphan at all but came from a republican family. Paddy Joe Crawford was 11 days old when he was placed in the Nazareth Lodge orphanage in Belfast. When he was 15, he was moved to digs on the Falls Road. "It was tough for the orphans," says Fr Matt Wallace, a Co Wexford-born priest who ran a youth club where the boys met when they left care. "They found it difficult to get jobs. Employers would take advantage. It was lonely for them too. Lads like Paddy Joe, raw out of an orphanage, were vulnerable and easily influenced."

Crawford worked as a labourer and tried hard to fit into his new community. He was often seen on the streets: playing football with the local kids or holding a skipping rope for the girls. Friends said he was deeply affected by the 1969 pogroms when loyalists burned hundreds of Catholics from their Falls Road homes. He joined the IRA.

Breaking in Castlereagh

Seamus, then a member of the Fianna (the IRA's junior wing) says: "Paddy Joe saw the IRA as defending the people. He often used our house as a safe house. I remember him opening up on the Brits with a Thompson sub-machine gun, then sprinting half a mile back through the streets. He gave his heart and soul to the republican movement." In April 1973, Crawford and 11 others were arrested in Newry returning from an IRA training camp. Among those detained was the late Pat McGeown who went on to join the 1981 hunger strike and become a senior Sinn Féin representative. In Castlereagh, detectives routinely tortured suspects. Crawford, like hundreds before and after him, broke and passed on information. He admitted this to IRA intelligence officers debriefing him in Long Kesh. They reported back to the Belfast Brigade Officer Commanding (OC), Gerry Adams.

Breaking in Castlereagh never carried a death penalty but, for whatever reason, Crawford was treated differently. On Sunday 3 June – 64 days after entering Long Kesh – he joined his comrades at mass. Then, the prisoners held a parade.

A key group of inmates didn't attend. They were setting up Crawford's murder in the woodwork hut. But they were disturbed. A republican who was in Long Kesh at the time says: "Other prisoners accidentally walked into the hut. They saw Harry Burns, Thomas 'Tucker' Kane, and Jim McCormick with Paddy Joe Crawford. "They saw a rope, a chair and a black cloth. They thought the men were only putting the frighteners on Paddy Joe. They'd no idea he was about to be killed so they left."

Later, other prisoners discovered Crawford hanging from the rope – made from a prison mattress.

Ex-internee Bobby Devlin describes the horrendous scene in his book Seagulls: "There was Paddy Joe Crawford hanging ... his neck stretched grotesquely like a turkey hanging in a butcher's shop window. He veered slowly like a discarded Christmas decoration." The prisoners cut Crawford down with a Stanley knife. Devlin and the Cage Five OC, Paddy Joe Rice, tried frantically to save his life giving him mouth-to-mouth and cardiac massage. "There were tears in our eyes as we shouted 'Paddy, Paddy' but he appeared to be in a deep sleep," Devlin recalls.

Prison medical staff pronounced Crawford dead. His body was placed on a stretcher and covered with a sheet. The prisoners lined up on either side as it was carried out. Crawford's left hand slipped out from under the sheet. Rice took it in his own and held it. The prisoners then gathered in the canteen for a decade of the rosary. The republican source says: "Over coming days, word slowly spread among the prisoners that Paddy Joe hadn't committed suicide. I kept waiting for it all to come out. I thought the autopsy would show he'd been killed and the police would take action but nothing happened.

"Whenever a prisoner raised the killing with the leadership outside, he was ordered to drop it. The IRA had stooped low. Paddy Joe wasn't a tout, he just broke in Castlereagh. Nothing happened plenty of men who were touts and took a weekly wage from the Special Branch. They're still walking around today."

Claims of suicide

After the murder, the cover-up began. To carry more weight, Harry Burns claimed to be the Cage Five OC when in fact he was the adjutant and Paddy Joe Rice was the OC. Unknown to the other prisoners, Burns alone made representation on their behalf about the death. He refused to give evidence to the inquest, but made a written statement falsely claiming Crawford had been acting strangely and talking about death. He produced what he said was a suicide note. It was just a prayer that the orphans had learned in the home with a signature – in apparently different hand-writing. Fr Wallace says: "It was all very peculiar. I was at the inquest which was held very quickly – just 12 days afterwards. In other cases of controversial deaths, families have waited 12 years for inquests."

The inquest found Crawford had committed suicide. Wallace says: "I was unconvinced but I was too green to do anything. I was a priest in my 20s, just up from Wexford, who knew nothing of the IRA." The funeral was bizarre. As an IRA member, Crawford should have been buried with military honours. Yet there was no tricolour, beret or gloves on his coffin and few republicans attended.

Twist of fate

Crawford's murder remained shrouded in secrecy until four months ago when Ed Moloney's book Voices from the Grave, which includes Brendan Hughes' memoirs, was published. Hughes accused Gerry Adams of ordering the murder. The book also referred to Gerry McCann's previously unknown quest for the truth. "I then received a phone call at the golf club I manage," McCann says. "It was made on behalf of the Pettigrews, a West Belfast family, who said Paddy Joe was related to them. That night, I met his half-brothers and sisters and learned the heart-breaking story behind Paddy Joe being placed in Nazareth Lodge."

Catherine Crawford, a single woman from a staunch Catholic family, had become pregnant to a Protestant. She wanted to keep the child but her mother said that would shame the family. The baby was given to the nuns against Catherine's wishes. She visited him many times in the orphanage. Later, she married a man named Pettigrew with whom she would have 10 children.

She made plans to take Paddy Joe home. But her mother still disapproved and the church wouldn't have allowed it anyway. When her son left the orphanage aged 15, Catherine heard he was in digs in Beechmount, off the Falls. She started shopping there. Her family couldn't understand why.

In June 1973, they discovered the reason. "Catherine phoned her older sons and daughters. She asked them to meet her in Milltown cemetery," says McCann. "When they arrived, she explained that her son, and their half-brother, was being buried."

Three months after Catherine's phone call, her eldest daughter Anne-Marie Pettigrew (19) was killed when the bomb she was handling detonated prematurely. McCann later learned that Paddy Joe Crawford knew his half-sister as an IRA comrade. But while Crawford was shunned in death by the IRA, Pettigrew was buried with full republican trappings. Her name appears on the IRA's roll of honour. A wall mural was painted of her.

Catherine died several years ago. "Paddy Joe's half-brothers and sisters are lovely people. It's very hard for them," says Gerry McCann. "They're Sinn Féin supporters and Gerry Adams is a family friend." McCann has held three meetings with Adams and one with leading IRA man Bobby Storey: "At the first meeting, Adams denied Paddy Joe was an IRA volunteer. He said he'd killed himself in Long Kesh. Five months later, I met Storey. He admitted Paddy Joe was a volunteer but insisted he'd committed suicide.

"At two meetings since then Adams has changed his position and acknowledged Paddy Joe was in the IRA but he's still saying there is no evidence the IRA killed him." McCann wants Crawford to be publicly recognised as an IRA member with his name placed on the roll of honour. He also wants the republican movement to admit it killed him and to say sorry.

Sinn Féin set up two meetings for McCann with an IRA Army Council member. The last took place a fortnight ago. "The IRA is suggesting that Paddy Joe's name may be placed on the roll of remembrance. That's a positive move but I still want an apology for the murder and recognition that an injustice took place," he says.

The three men named to the Sunday Tribune as Crawford's killers are themselves dead. Harry Burns and Jim McCormick died of natural causes. Tucker Kane was killed in a road accident.

Paddy Joe Crawford is buried with fellow orphans Pat Devaney and Gabriel Savage, who were murdered by loyalists. Gerry McCann and Fr Wallace tend his grave. "Paddy Joe was like a brother to me," McCann says. "He is my family and I want the truth to be told."

Comment: Voices from the Grave by Ed Moloney should be required reading for anybody seeking the whole truth about the armed conflict in Northeast Ireland.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stormont executive to tackle violence

Stormont executive to tackle violence

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have said the power-sharing executive was determined to do all it could to overcome recent violence and to move forward.

The two leaders were speaking after meeting the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott to discuss the violence which flared in Ardoyne in north Belfast this week.

Mr McGuinness said the small number of people who turned up to protest against the Orange Order march through Ardoyne was evidence that the vast majority of the people in Northern Ireland were behind the huge political changes that have taken place.

Mr Robinson said the Chief Constable has told them that the police were working towards making arrests.

Police came under renewed attack from rioters in Northern Ireland overnight as politicians condemned the violence.

In Ardoyne, the scene of Monday night's major disturbances, a number of petrol bombs were thrown at police, who responded with water cannon.

There were no reports of injuries and officers said they were working with community leaders to end the disturbances.

The PSNI said it had earlier worked successfully with community representatives in the nationalist Short Strand, Markets and Lower Ormeau areas to tackle attempts by youths to spark violence.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness yesterday hit out at those behind the rioting and defended their political efforts to ease tensions over controversial parades.

Chief Constable Baggott blamed dissident republicans for tension that reached a height in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast on Monday night where police came under sustained attack and eventually used baton rounds and water cannon to contain rioters.

Mr Baggott declined to single out individual politicians for criticism over the marches issue but called for a 'big debate' on the way forward.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness later issued a joint statement condemning the violence and highlighted their efforts to secure a lasting solution to tensions over controversial marches.

DUP leader Mr Robinson said: 'I am disgusted at the outright thuggery and vandalism that has taken place over the course of the last 48 hours.

'There is no excuse and no place for violence in civilised society. Both the deputy First Minister and I have been, and will continue, to work for a resolution of the difficulties around parading.'

Mr McGuinness said: 'Our experience demonstrates that the way to deal with any disputes or contention is through dialogue and agreement.

'There are numerous examples that show this to be the way forward.

'We are currently consulting on legislation that aims to provide a workable framework for dealing with contentious parades.'

While 82 officers were injured in riots over the past few days, a total of 55 officers were injured in Monday night's rioting alone.

On Sunday night, three officers suffered pellet wounds during riots in Belfast when they were shot at by a man armed with a shotgun.

On Monday, a masked man armed with a handgun shot at a police vehicle, though officers escaped injury.

In Lurgan, Co Armagh, rioters stopped the Belfast to Dublin train and tried to set fire to it. The driver managed to restart the train and it left the scene before any of the 55 passengers on board were injured.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the attacks on police were 'completely unacceptable'.

Mr Cameron paid tribute to the 'restraint and bravery' shown by the police as they came under attack.


Maybe less time spent “globetrotting” and more time spent in Belfast attempting to find resolutions to their many domestic problems would be in order at this time for all Stormont government officials. It is time to cast political correctness aside and take whatever steps are necessary to stop the riotous behavior generated by these ridiculous demonstrations of Loyalist triumphalism. No parades – No riots!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Police hurt in violence around parades

Police hurt in violence around parades

GERRY MORIARTY and DAN KEENAN - Tue, Jul 13, 2010 – The Irish Times

THERE WAS serious violence over the Twelfth of July period, with dozens of police officers injured during disturbances in Belfast.

The trouble flared through Sunday night, yesterday and last night. On Sunday night, three officers suffered gunshot wounds after a masked man fired at them. Disturbances in west and north Belfast on Sunday night raised what were already high tensions over last night’s return feeder Orange Order parade past the Ardoyne shops.

There was also trouble in Lurgan yesterday evening involving masked nationalist rioters who attempted to hijack the Belfast to Dublin Enterprise train and set it alight. They boarded the train at about 5pm, but the driver managed to regain control and continue the journey.

Police mounted a huge security operation last night as Orange Order marchers prepared to make their return journey past the north Belfast flashpoint. At 5pm, some 80 nationalists blocked the Crumlin Road in north Belfast in an attempt to prevent the return Orange parade. Many of them wore white T-shirts stating “Peaceful Protest” and some carried posters saying: “We are residents not dissidents.” They were members of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective, which opposes Sinn Féin and is viewed as sympathetic to dissidents.

They accused the Crumlin/Ardoyne Residents Association, which Sinn Féin supports, of being “ineffective” in failing to prevent the return Orange Order feeder parade past the Ardoyne shops. Throughout the evening, police removed protesters until, at 8.20pm, the remaining demonstrators left of their own accord. There were a number of blast and petrol bombs and other missiles fired at the police lines during sporadic violence throughout the night.

Eventually at 8.40pm, the Orangemen and loyalist supporters were paraded past the Ardoyne shops with shield-bearing police trying to protect them from missiles. The parade was completed in less than three minutes.

Police officers crouched down behind landrovers and warned people to get back, amid concerns of possible blast bombs or sniper attacks.

Meanwhile, a police officer remained in hospital last night after he and two of his colleagues were shot during trouble at North Queen Street in north Belfast on Sunday night. They were wounded when a masked man reportedly emerged from a nationalist crowd and fired a shotgun. None of the officers sustained life-threatening injuries, according to the PSNI. One hospitalised officer suffered pellet wounds to his arms and upper torso.

Police said 14 officers were injured in violence in the New Lodge area of north Belfast, while 13 were injured when confronted by about 200 nationalist youths close to the Broadway roundabout on Donegall Road in west Belfast.

Police used a water cannon at Broadway and fired plastic bullets. Police were pelted with petrol bombs, bottles, bricks and stones.

The trouble on Sunday erupted as police formed lines to separate nationalists on the Donegall Road from hundreds of loyalists attending a traditional Eleventh Night bonfire in the Village area of Belfast.

PSNI Chief Supt Mark Hamilton said those involved were intent on “causing mayhem and destruction” and his officers put themselves in danger in trying to bring calm to the area.

The North’s Minister for Justice David Ford said it was “clear that there is a small minority of people who want to create havoc and do whatever they can to raise tensions and heighten fears within the community. I would urge those who have influence to show leadership and do whatever they can to bring calm to the streets.”

Police are also investigating how seven people, including two children, were injured when they were struck by a car during an Eleventh Night bonfire on the Donegall Road in south Belfast on Sunday night.


If this is an example of Orange Order culture and tradition, the peace loving people of Northeast Ireland could do very well without it. It is becoming clearer with each passing year that instead of getting better they appear to be getting worse. Perhaps it is time for the Parades Commission or whoever has authority over them to consider a total ban on these contentious parades. That seems to be the only plausible way to end this annual season of rioting and mayhem.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Orange Order 'is not political'

Wednesday, 7 July 2010 – Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order interventions in unionist politics do not undermine its claims to be a purely cultural organisation, a leading Orangeman has insisted.

The Belfast County Grand Master Tom Haire welcomed plans to continue with an experiment to overturn tradition and open the shops in Belfast on July 12, the height of the marching season.

Mr Haire said the Order was trying to widen the appeal of the 'Twelfth' and claimed that tourism figures showed large numbers were prepared to holiday in Belfast during July, despite the historic trend of a summer exodus from Northern Ireland.

Mr Haire is among the senior Orangemen who have called for the DUP and Ulster Unionists to form a single unionist party in a bid to halt the growth of Sinn Fein, but he denied this undermined the Order's efforts to promote an inclusive marching season.

"We are not a member of any political party, therefore I would say we are not political, but as an organisation we are interested in what happens in our country," he said. "Orangemen and their families, are all part of the political scene, they all have their political views. I do believe we have a right to express the views that we are hearing from the people on the ground, from the grassroots. And people are fed up with one party sniping at the other and so forth."

Mr Haire helped launch part of the rebranded 'Orangefest', an attempt to soften the image of the parades which in some flashpoint areas have often been a source of sectarian tensions. The 'Twelfth' is the annual highpoint of the loyal orders' parading calendar. It commemorates the victory of the Protestant King William of Orange over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The city centre would normally have closed down on July 12, but Orange leaders and Belfast traders confirmed plans to continue with the experiment of opening stores from midday until 4.30pm. Shops would be closed as the parade left the city centre in the morning and when it held its return march in the evening. Both sides reported positive results from the agreement, which is in its second year.

Orangefest supporters said Belfast Visitor Convention Bureau figures showed that in July 1999, the city's hotels sold 22,694 rooms. By 2009 the July figure jumped to 64,900. The Orange Order said this pointed to a growing willingness among holidaymakers to choose Belfast at the height of the marching season.

Belfast City Centre manager Andrew Irvine said: "The Twelfth of July celebration, in terms of visitor numbers, is simply the largest annual event we have in Belfast City Centre. Whether visitors wish to watch the Orangefest procession, or simply enjoy the shops, Belfast City Centre is open for business and has something to offer everyone."

Mr Haire said that in the past Belfast was a 'ghost town' after the parade passed through it, but he added that the ongoing changes were to the benefit of both marchers and wider society.


What more proof does one need? Mr. Haire says that the Orange Order is no more than a harmless cultural organization. Maybe it is time to reassess the Catholic Nationalist community’s negative attitude toward them and embrace them as fellow citizens. Perhaps all of the rioting, mayhem, and disruption that they caused over the years was just done in the spirit of “good natured fun” and we really should “forgive and forget”. Oh yeah and the moon is made of green cheese.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Am I proud to be an American? You had better believe it

Peter Lucas - Posted: 07/02/2010

How does it feel to be an American?

I am sitting in a smoke-filled pub in Belfast finishing off a pint of Smithwick. We are listening to a band playing haunting Irish tunes. It is some years ago. There are four of us -- two Catholics, one Protestant and me, a doubting newspaperman, and we are talking about the Troubles.

British Army patrols cruise the streets in armored vehicles. Armed soldiers on foot patrol sight you in their rifles, and there are roadblocks. The Brits are searching for members of the outlawed Irish Republican Army. The atmosphere is tense and depressing. To a Boston newspaperman it is an exciting story. Under discussion is the IRA bombing sometime earlier of the hotel I am staying at.

One of the women, downing the remains of her pint, suddenly turns to me and asks, "How does it feel to be an American?"

I am taken aback by her question. Who asks questions like that? Does anybody go around asking people how it feels to be German, or French or Greek? It doesn't happen.

But I understand. I understand her question to mean something about how it feels to be a citizen of such a free, rich, powerful and respected country like the United States, a country that has no sectarian fighting and killing taking place, like the fighting and killing in Northern Ireland.

I ponder for a moment.

"Lucky," I say. "I feel lucky to be born an American. America is a special place."

That sort of ends the conversation. But I have thought about that conversation many times since then, especially around this time of year, Independence Day, the Fourth of July, our country's birthday.

The creation of the United States of America and its success as a democracy is the only new thing that has ever happened in the world, and it has come as something of a shock to discover that we have a president who does not believe, unlike the woman in Belfast, that the U.S. is special or exceptional.

"I believe in American exceptionalism," President Obama said in response to a reporter's question at a NATO summit in Europe in April 2009, "just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionlism. I'm enormously proud of my country and its role in history in the world. If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don't think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of our resources that were put into postwar Europe ..."

Europeans and American liberals praised Obama for his "nuanced" reply to the question, while many Americans were puzzled that an American president would equate his country with Greece and the UK.

He also said the U.S. should not be "embarrassed" to see evidence of the sacrifices American troops made in Europe during World War II. Embarrassed of what? American military cemeteries? Defeating Nazi Germany and liberating Europe?

Obama can only wish he could do the same with Afghanistan as we did in World War II. Obama has expanded his "necessary" war, and it has begun to entangle him the way the Vietnam War entangled and ruined President Lyndon Johnson.

Obama may not know it, but Afghanistan is his Vietnam. In his short tenure as president, he has appointed three generals to fight the war, and the war is going nowhere. That's what LBJ used to do. Like Vietnam, we are fighting for a corrupt government made up of thugs who are robbing us blind. Like Vietnam, American soldiers, the bravest of the brave, are fighting a war that Afghan soldiers should be fighting, but refuse to do so. American soldiers have begun to question the mission, and nobody seems to have an answer.

Hopefully Gen. David Petraeus can straighten out Obama's war, and maybe even help save the failing Obama presidency. That, however, may be impossible, even for a hero like Petraeus.

Yet, Americans can rest assured that Petraeus, unlike Obama, believes in American exceptionalism. After all, he has on numerous occasions led men in battle and put his own life on the line fighting for his country. A man does not do that unless he believes his country is special.

So be of good cheer. America is a strong country. We survive our presidents.

How does it feel to be an American? It feels special.

Happy Birthday, America


Thank you, Peter Lucas for reminding us how very fortunate we are to be Americans. There should be no hyphens either before or after that very special word that ties us inextricably to the greatest democracy the world has ever known. This great nation counts among its citizenry people from many and varied backgrounds and from every other country on earth. The common thread that binds us together is that we are all blessed to be AMERICANS. Please set aside a few minutes on our nation’s birthday to say a prayer for our troops and our veterans young and old. It was and is their sacrifice that made America what it is today.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America