September 29, 2003
The death has taken place of Proinsias Mac Aonghusa, a former broadcaster and writer and a key figure in the Irish language movement.
Michael Collins TD has announced that he is to resign from the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party following revelations that he is on a list of over 400 tax defaulters.
September 25, 2003
September 23, 2003
The Armed Peace - Life and death after the Ceasefires
By Brian `Barney' Rowan
Of all the possible titles that Barney Rowan could have chosen for his second book about the peace process, `The Armed Peace: Life and death after the Cease-fires', the phrase, `armed peace' is a good summary of what exists in the Six Counties today.
It is difficult to see how democratic people can make any further concessions to the British government or its Irish representatives.
September 21, 2003
On September 25, 1983, IRA PoWs took over a block in the H-Blocks and held it for nearly two hours, allowing 38 prisoners to escape.
The reconstruction involved video screens, maps and photographs, and anecdotal personal accounts of participants.
In typical republican style, black humour was the order of the day. But the importance of the escape, following the loss of ten republicans in the 1981 humger strikes, was lost on no-one.
There was a particular tribute to those who assisted the escape but who stayed behind and did not participate. ``They are the forgotten ones but they all played a part just as much as we did," said Bobby Storey.
The escape plan depended on the use of a `hobby' shop, where the prisoners were allowed to make harps and other craft items to sell on the outside.
One prisoner was told to make a wooden gun with a wooden silencer. ``Of course, it wooden work,'' said Storey. But the gun did play an important role, he pointed out, as Kelly wielded it to gain control of the van that would be used for the escape.
The planning was ad hoc, he said. Those chosen to escape were not even told until just beforehand. The prisoners identified the wardens who would be on duty on the morning of the escape so the uniforms they took off them would fit. The escape began at a signal from Storey.
``There were 30 of us on the block and only three of them, so that part was easy. We told them they were under arrest and we took it from there,'' he said.
Storey described how the prisoners gained control of a tally lodge just 30ft away from a British Army watchtower. A soldier looked on as the prisoners fought with wardens who had just come on duty.
``He must have been the stupidest of all the Brits they ever sent over here,'' Storey joked. ``He thought we were arguing about a football match or something.''
The screen behind the stage, which had been showing diagrams of the prison, switched to images of farmhouses and rivers as it was explained that although 19 prisoners were immediately recaptured, others escaped across fields.
``We were lying in a drain. Someone had seen us and there were RUC and army everywhere,'' Storey said. ``They were so close we could hear them talking. One said, `If I ever get my hands on Storey, I'll kill him' so it wasn't a great incentive to give myself up.
``Eventually they spotted us and ordered us out. It was the Lagan for God's sake and we couldn't swim so that was the scariest bit of the whole lot.''
Storey was pragmatic about the prisoners' motivation for the escape. ``I would love to say we realised its political significance but really all we were looking for was to get back to the struggle,'' he said.
The trio finished by thanking everyone connected with the escape, and there were presentations to the relatives of those who had died.
If the images of unionist protest outside Carnmoney cemetery can tell us one thing it's this; anti-Catholic bigotry is not confined to the UDA and UVF paramilitaries. In the Irish News, the photographs show two inoffensive elderly Catholic women, one carrying an offering of flowers, being confronted by unionist protestors.
Adams seeks `inclusive' united Ireland
A dramatic political breakthrough in the North could be imminent as Sinn Féin and representatives of the Irish and British governments are engaged in a series of meetings this weekend.
September 18, 2003
A journalist working for the North Belfast News has been told that he was under threat from the UDA and bombs were planted at Catholic schools in Dungiven in County Derry. On at least three occasions, Catholics have been lucky to escape with their lives from loyalist gangs.
And in an act of sickening sectarian hatred, Catholics attending a Blessing of the Graves devotion in Carnmoney were subjected to vicious barracking by up to 200 loyalists.
ATTACK OUTSIDE SCHOOL
An 18 year old pupil at St Gabriel's Secondary school, in North Belfast, was attacked by loyalists as he and a friend made their way home on Tuesday afternoon 16 September.
The Catholic sixth form pupils had just left the school and were walking along Hesketh Road when two loyalists jumped from behind bushes and attacked the two students with a lump of wood with nails in it.
One of the youths had his two front teeth knocked out and suffered a puncture wound to his bottom lip.
The two attackers ran off along Hesketh Road towards the loyalist Glenbryn estate.
A relation of the injured youth told how teachers from St Gabriel's always stand at Hesketh Road to protect pupils from sectarian attacks but the two students got out of school early which left them vulnerable to the attack.
"They were just walking along Hesketh Road and as they came to a corner house two loyalists jumped out from behind a hedge and slammed the lump of wood into the boy's face. There was blood everywhere. Michael had his two front teeth knocked straight out and he has a hole in his bottom lip caused by a nail that was in to the plank".
Sinn Fein councillor Margaret McClenaghan condemned the sectarian attack on the youths saying that loyalists are intent on stirring up further sectarian trouble.
CATHOLIC LUCKY TO ESCAPE DEATH
Nationalists have been warned to be vigilant when travelling through the loyalist West Circular and Ballygomartin Roads in Belfast after a loyalist mob tried to abduct the occupants of two cars in separate sectarian attacks last week.
In the first attack on Thursday 11 September at around 7.30pm three nationalists in a car had stopped at the traffic lights at the junction of the two roads, which is a main thoroughfare through West Belfast, when a group of loyalists ran over to the car and began attacking it with sticks and bottles.
The young nationalist driver of the vehicle, who was wearing a Celtic top, tried to evade his assailants but crashed into a car in front and stalled the car.
The Catholic youth got out of the car and tried to escape but the loyalist mob caught up with him and attacked him with a heavy metal chain. They stole the young mans mobile phone and gold bracelet before a car travelling towards the Springfield Road stopped and rescued the terrified youth.
The two other passengers managed to escape their attackers.
The driver of the car who rescued the youth said that the young boy was lucky to escape with his life.
"I was driving home when I saw the incident and the young lad being beaten by a loyalist mob. There were about 10 of them but some started to use mobile phones and suddenly three cars appeared on the scene. We stopped and pulled the youth into the car before driving out of the area. The young man was terrified".
The woman added, "God knows what they would have done to the lad if we hadn't come along at the right time".
Then Friday 12 September at 9.30pm a car carrying three nationalists, one of whom was wearing a County Antrim GAA shirt, was attacked at the same traffic lights by around 20 to 30 loyalists.
The occupants managed to escape their attackers.
Sinn Fein councillor Margaret McClenaghan has warned nationalists travelling from West to North Belfast to be very vigilant after these attacks.
"It seems to be that loyalists are watching vehicles travelling along the West Circular Road and any hint whatsoever that the occupants of the cars are Catholics they are using their mobile phones to summon gangs of loyalists to attack the cars at the traffic lights".
McClenaghan added that loyalists have been seen circling the area in cars looking out for intended targets.
"Nationalists should be very careful when travelling through these areas. "This young lad is very lucky to be alive, people should be vigilant at all times when travelling through this area".
DEERPARK HOMES ATTACKED AGAIN
meanwhile, Catholics in the Deerpark Road road area of North Belfast are recoevering after coming under attack for the third week running.
On Sunday 14 September at around 10.30pm, loyalists drove into the Deerpark Road in North Belfast in a red car. The driver of the car slowed down and two men got out of a car and threw bricks at two houses, breaking windows in both houses.
In one of the attacks a missile was thrown with such force that it embedded itself in a wall.
One of the occupants of the homes, who wishes to remain anonymous told how she saw the car drive into the Deerpark Road with its lights out.
"It was very suspicious as all its light were turned off. Two loyalists got out while the driver of the red car parked further up the street with the engine running. They got bricks from a building site beside our homes and threw them at the windows. They then ran and got back into the car and drove off towards the loyalist Torrens area.".
The woman told how her 13 year old daughter was terrified as the brick came through the double glazing at the front of the house.
"The glass was everywhere, my foot got cut as I tried to get out of the way. I have a 6 year old son with special needs and I'm thankful he slept through the attack but my daughter was petrified".
The woman said her husband chased the car but they made good their escape, driving past the massive Oldpark PSNI barracks.
North Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Margaret McClenaghan described the sectarian attack as a blatant act designed to instil fear into the Catholic residents of the Deerpark area.
"These are premeditated attacks orchestrated by well known unionist paramilitaries from the Glenbryn area. Everyone in the area knows who is carrying out these sectarian attacks but still the PSNI do nothing about them".
McClenaghan called on all political and community leaders from the Protestant community to condemn the attacks.
Below is a list of the recent loyalist activity:
Four men and a woman were arrested early this morning in Strabane, County Tyrone, in connection with attacks against nationalist members of local policing boards.
Direct Rule is a disaster - we have part time Direct Rule Ministers with remits over multiple departmental responsibilities and have neither the time, even if they possessed the hunger, to bring forward major initiatives to better the lot of people here. Apart from attempting to use the absence of the Assembly to push Water Charges and other revenue raising measures for the Exchequer, no one can be in any doubt that the Direct Rule Ministers are merely going through the motions.
September 15, 2003
September 13, 2003