Unionist-Culture-L ArchivesArchiver > Unionist-Culture > 1998-07 > 0900599554
From: Northern Ireland News <>
Subject: [Unionist-Culture-L] BT news 16/7/98 (1)
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 1998 07:32:34 -0700 (PDT)
Orange plan for town rally
Order in bid to revive protest
By Noel McAdam
PORTADOWN Orange leaders plan a town centre rally
tomorrow night to revive support for the Drumcree protest.
The 'show of strength' call came today as 400 soldiers flown
in to deal with the crisis were boarding a plane at RAF
Aldergrove to return to base.
Intense security operations continued at Drumcree, however,
and this morning three blast bombs were found near the field
where protests had been centred.
Meanwhile leaders of RUC officers were due to have met
Prime Minister Tony Blair in London this afternoon to
emphasis the "utter professionalism" of policing at Drumcree.
The RUC still has to give permission for the planned
demonstration in Portadown town centre at 8pm. Orange
members and supporters from across the province are
The Portadown Orange presence at Drumcree has been
reduced to just 10 named district officials, including
Master Harold Gracey and spokesman David Jones.
Mr Jones said: "In effect we are under virtual house arrest
we hope that tomorrow's rally will move the focus away from
the Church at Drumcree.
"The aim is to show that those who say the support for us is
not there and this issue is now dead, are wrong...
"As far as the Portadown members are concerned we are
staying put for as long as it takes." The police chiefs'
at Downing Street was due to have involved the three RUC
associations representing more than 13,500 officers.
Shock IRA guns claim is defused
By Desmond McCartan and Chris Thornton
THE Government today distanced itself from reports
ministers were anticipating a dramatic IRA gesture on the
future of its deadly arsenal within weeks.
Questioned about claims of a possible handing over of
weapons soon, the Prime Minister's chief spokesman said:
"Not as far as I know." The Northern Ireland Office
responded to the reports, alleged to stem from a conversation
with an unnamed departmental source, by declining to issue
an outright denial.
Both The Express and The Mirror claimed that the IRA may
make its move before September.
The claims followed a hint on possible decommissioning in a
recent newspaper interview with the IRA commander in the
Mr Blair's spokesman said decomissioning was an
indispensable part of the Belfast Agreement.
"There have been signals that they are aware of the
importance of this (decomissioning) and they accept it as
part of the Agreement. How it is going to happen...that is
yet clear." The claims came as the mechanics of the Good
Friday Agreement were being unveiled in Parliament - and
could be a move to calm Tory fears.
A source close to the decommissioning process said an
imminent arms handover would be "surprising".
Decommissioning chief General John de Chastelain is
presently on holiday, and it is unlikely he would remain
if his body was aware of such a crucial development.
A republican source said: "We would look on the report
sceptically, especially if it's coming from Government
sources." The IRA has not appointed an emissary to act as a
go- between with the decommissioning body. Neither has
the UDA, but the UVF and LVF have both named
A source close to the Republic's Government said it is
accepted decommissioning will take place at some stage - but
that is unlikely to be before next year.
"At this stage it's the strongest bargaining counter they
have," the source said. "The Provos aren't going to give it
away." And it is believed any eventual decommissioning is
unlikely to include stockpiles of Semtex - the explosive
to huge car bombs and most home-made weaponry.
Last month senior IRA member Padraic Wilson said he was
hopeful that decommissioning would take place.
Wilson, the commander of IRA prisoners in the Maze, said:
"I think voluntary decommissioning would be a natural
development of the peace process once we get a sense that
the arrangements envisaged in the Agreement are beginning
to function." The last part of Wilson's statement is seen as
crucial - indicating the IRA will wait to see if the Assembly
and associated bodies are up and running before beginning
any arms handover.
Sinn Fein believes it is entitled to seats on the Assembly
executive - essentially ministerial posts - without prior
But unionists want to see an arms handover before they will
sit down with Sinn Fein in the shadow government this
Republicans are already said to be concerned that the
Government has delayed publishing a document on future
security arrangements and setting up a human rights
"In the end, it will be down to the IRA, and the IRA will
make the statement about it," a source said.
'Rebel' terror warning
Gardai in alert over 'real' IRA membership
By Michael Devine
THE dissident republican terror group led by a former IRA
quartermaster general has boosted its membership in recent
weeks and now has about 100 activists in its ranks.
Senior gardai sources in Dublin said today that the new
organisation, styling itself Oglaigh na hEireann and claiming
to be the 'real' IRA is continuing to recruit disaffected
members of the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein.
Until recently, its numbers had been estimated at about 70
north and south of the border.
According to gardai, recruitment has been carried out at all
levels of the Provisional movement and has been boosted by
recent incidents of loyalist paramilitary violence.
There has been no evidence of any further defections from
among the senior ranks of the provisionals.
The provisionals' former "head of engineering" and some
other bomb making experts joined the ex- quartermaster
general's group several months ago.
Gardai chiefs have ordered an increase in surveillance of
suspected republican dissidents in view of the evidence of
increasing numbers joining the RIRA.
Gardai have been very successful to date in clamping down
on attempted terrorist operations by the RIRA.
They have seized several large car bombs in border counties
which were being prepared for attacks on targets in Northern
Two car bombs which were about to be driven aboard a ferry
at Dunlaoghaire which was bound for Holyhead were also
intercepted by gardai.
A fund-raising raid by the RIRA on a security van in Co
Wicklow was foiled by gardai who shot dead one of a six
Gardai have uncovered evidence that the RIRA has been
working in close co-operation on occasions with two other
republican terror organisations, the Continuity IRA and the
The RIRA has failed to acquire any significant amount of
Semtex or other commercial explosives and has been relying
mainly on home-made explosives for its bomb.
It is believed that they have been provided with commercial
explosives for some of their operations by the INLA and the
According to intelligence sources, talks have been held
view to formalising links between the three groups in order
present a united front.
All three organisations are strongly opposed to the Good
Friday Agreement and have vowed to wreck it.
Meanwhile, two Gardai are recovering from injuries they
suffered when an explosive device believed to have been sent
through the post by a loyalist paramilitary group detonated.
It was similar to a number of other devices sent to tourism
offices in Dublin and Sligo and other business addresses in
the Republic last May by loyalists, prior to the Referendum
the Good Friday Agreement.
It had lain unopened in a Dublin hotel until yesterday,
It was removed to Garda headquarters in Phoenix Park and
was being examined when it detonated. Two Gardai were hit
by shrapnel but were not seriously injured.
The device was in the form of a video cassette packed with
'This was the most vicious rioting I have
By Paul Connolly
RUC officers injured during the Drumcree rioting today told
of the depths of mob savagery they faced - and of their pride
as their colleagues held the line.
The four policemen were injured when a blast bomb
exploded beside them as they battled thugs trying to cross
the barbed wire lines.
The attack was filmed by a TV crew and watched by millions
of people around the world.
Chief Inspector John Barr, who sustained serious injuries to
both legs, said: "I was at Drumcree in 1996 and 1997.
"But this was the most vicious rioting I have seen. The
hatred in that crowd towards the police ... you could see
their eyes." The 39-year-old was caught in the blast, along
with Mobile Support Unit colleagues David Harkness (33),
Jason McBrien (29) and Stephen Irvine (44).
"The blast bomb blew my helmet off," he said. "I actually saw
my leg bursting.
"I thought my artery had been cut and I thought I was going
to lose my leg. I could feel the blood pumping and blood
coming through my fingers. " "When things like that happen,
you say a little prayer and I thought about my wife and three
children." Mr Barr said he was "very proud" of his men's
"Even when we did go down, the rest of the officers did not
flinch from their duties. We held the line. I would do it
I would not flinch from it.
Mr Barr added: "They are the finest and bravest policemen in
the world." He also said the murders of the Quinn boys in
Ballymoney had stiffened the resolve of police officers to do
"It was a terrible, dastardly act," he said. "Whilst we are
hospital, we are living to tell our stories. Those three
will never get that chance." In the same Belfast hospital
today, Constable Jason McBrien, also nursing a leg injury,
"It was frightening.
"You know if that mob got a hold of you, they would kill
you." And Constable Harkness, who also sustained leg
injuries, said: "The explosion from the blast bomb was much
louder than any of the other bangs.
"I thought I had lost the bottom half of my leg. There was a
severe burning sensation like my leg was on fire." He added:
"We were sent there to hold the lines, and we did it." RUC
officers resumed their search of the Drumcree fields today in
a bid to find more weapons and devices similar to that which
injured the four officers.
Only a token Orange presence was permitted at the scene
overnight, but protesters were hopeful that larger numbers
would return later today.
Prime Minister Tony Blair was today holding talks with
representatives of the three RUC police associations,
including the Police Federation.
Federation chairman Les Rodgers said the meeting was
originally scheduled to discuss Government policy on
sentencing and decommissioning.
"However, the immediate crisis at Drumcree has given us the
opportunity to tell the Prime Minister at first hand that we
have demonstrated internationally the utter professionalism
the RUC and our unbreakable determination to police the
entire community of Northern Ireland impartially, even at
huge risk and cost to our members." Tony Blair's official
spokesman said: "The Prime Minister will say what a brilliant
job the RUC has done in recent days and how they have
done their standing within Northern Ireland a great deal of
good by showing their ability to continue to police
Four in court over stand-off disturbances
Youth charged with riotous behaviour
A 16-YEAR-OLD youth was charged at a special court in
Craigavon yesterday with riotous behaviour during the
Drumcree stand-off on July 14.
The defendant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons,
was remanded in custody to appear at a court in Craigavon
An RUC witness told the court that when arrested, charged
and cautioned the defendant replied "No".
Replying to a defence solicitor the witness said the
had co-operated fully with the police.
Three men also appeared on charges connected with the
Robert James Dickson, (38), Isle of Shinney Walk,
Ballynahinch, was charged with damaging a floodlight and
generator valued at 1,000 belonging to the Ministry of
Defence, and also with obstructing police by causing damage
to the floodlight and a generator on July 15.
Evidence was given by an RUC detective constable that when
arrested, charged and cautioned Dickson, in reply to the
charge, said "I didn't damage it", and "No" to the second
Dickson was remanded in custody to Craigavon Magistrate's
William John McClatchey, (24), Abercorn Park, Portadown,
was accused of possessing blast bombs, possessing an
offensive weapon and with riotous behaviour on July 15.
An RUC detective constable said that when arrested, charged
and cautioned McClatchey replied "No" to each charge.
McClatchey was remanded in custody to a court sitting at the
Maze Prison on July 29.
Thomas McCreery, (52), Hartmore Gardens, Portadown, was
charged with assaulting a police constable, disorderly
behaviour and obstructing the constable on July 15.
The constable told the court that when arrested, charged and
cautioned McCreery replied "No" to each charge.
Replying to a defence lawyer, witness said the alleged
took place at the Dungannon Road, Portadown. He denied
that McCreery was "dragged across the road" or that
McCreery had been punched in the stomach.
Witness alleged that McCreery hit him on the hand with an
open hand. He denied he had "manhandled" McCreery.
McCreery was remanded on bail of 250 to Craigavon
Magistrate's Court tomorrow.
Drumcree 'costs 2m a week in lost
Jobs 'are bound to be lost'
By Rosie Cowan, Business Editor
DRUMCREE is costing Northern Ireland's hotels and guest
houses 2m a week, and jobs are bound to be lost if it
continues, says a leading tourism spokesman.
And Neville Morrison, of the NI Hospitality Association, says
this does not include the knock-on losses to other
such as bars, restaurants, shops and taxis.
"While I don't know of people being laid off at present,
and guest houses are not taking on extra summer staff, and
jobs are bound to go if income keeps falling," said Mr
"The detriment caused by Drumcree are two-fold, both the
carry-on effects of last year, which has kept us out of
brochures and tour programmes.
"There are also the actual cancellations, and we saw lots of
those, especially on the Monday and Tuesday of Drumcree
week. The impact of this year will, of course, last through
year." Others have warned that the whole province will lose
jobs and money, as investment and tourism suffer because of
the continued unrest.
Economy and Security Minister Adam Ingram revealed in the
House of Commons that the province may have lost a major
US investment due to the current situation.
Speaking during Northern Ireland Question Time, Mr Ingram
said a US company he was in close contact with was now
reconsidering plans to invest.
He refused to reveal the firm's name, but said the negative
images flashed around the world in recent weeks were
undermining efforts to attract new inward investors.
Down district, which traditionally attracts the greatest
number of day- trippers to areas like the Mourne Mountains
and St Patrick's grave, is among the regions experiencing a
significant slump in business.
One tourist accommodation provider said bookings dropped
as much as 60% overnight.
South Down Assembly member Eamonn O'Neill said at one
point, two thirds of caravan site bookings at Castlewellan
Forest Park were cancelled.
"Newcastle traders and business people tell me it is a really
poor period," said Mr O'Neill. "The tourist trade depends on
political stability and the Drumcree crisis particularly,
parades issue generally, have disrupted that very
Down council spokeswoman said she hoped inquiries will
recover. She pointed out that June had seen a rise in the
number of international inquiries at local tourist
Parade body boycott ends
By William Allen
PROTESTANT community groups in Londonderry are set
to end their boycott of the forum set up to discuss the
The move follows the decision by local loyal orders and
unionist parties to join the forum, which includes the
Community leaders are set to meet in Newbuildings
tomorrow to adopt a joint approach to the forum, which is
due to convene next Wednesday.
Although a number of groups initially took part despite the
absence of the loyal orders and the main unionist parties,
many did not.
However, following the decision to widen the forum's remit,
all Protestant and unionist organisations, including the
orders, are now expected to participate.
A spokesman for the Ulster Community Action Network, an
umbrella group for Protestant community groups, which was
not part of the boycott, said today: "With the remit being
broadened to include the concerns of the Protestant
community, this could be the way forward." The former
mayor of Derry, Martin Bradley, who has won the respect of
all sides involved in the parades dispute, said today the
could set an example to the rest of Northern Ireland.
Mr Bradley will chair the forum - which will include
Apprentice Boys - for the first time.
He added: "It has taken a lot of work and we have been
talking for a year to get to this stage. We are calling the
the Shared City Forum and would hope that anyone
attending will come with a positive and constructive
Police families 'are moving out'
By William Allen
SEVERAL police officers have abandoned their homes in the
Waterside area of Londonderry, it was claimed today.
William Hay, DUP Assembly member for Foyle, said that at
least three families have moved out of homes in the
The moves followed an attack on a police officer and a child
in the village last week during the height of the Drumcree
Their decision to leave the area followed a similar move by a
part-time RUC reserve constable who moved out of her
Nelson Drive home last week when her car was burned by
Mr Hay said today that he had discussed the situation with
the RUC's Sub-Divisional Commander for Waterside,
Superintendent Alan Hayes.
Mr Hay said: "I met Superintendent Hayes to discuss
complaints I have received about police over-reacting. A
delegation of people representing a number of Waterside
estates went with me.
"I also raised the issue of families with RUC connections
moving out of Newbuildings. Already, we have seen three
families move, including people who have been there for over
"While I condemn any threat to police officers and their
families, I am concerned that someone in the RUC might be
over- reacting here also by moving them out of the area.
"I was horrified to hear of them moving. I would not like to
see this snowballing and would hope that the families will
come back to Newbuildings.
"The community wants these families to stay. I would also
urge anyone with influence over people who are intimidating
families to use their influence to stop it." The RUC today
declined to comment on the issue.
Bomb charge student in voting inquiry
By Gary Grattan, Education Correspondent
QUEEN'S University Students Union today confirmed that
one of the four people charged with conspiring to bomb
London is being investigated over allegations of voting fraud
in a student election.
John Cousins, Permanent Secretary of the Union, today said
that Dundalk man Darren Mulholland is one of the students
currently under investigation over alleged personation in
The 19-year-old was one of four people who appeared in a
London court yesterday charged in connection with an
alleged plot to bomb the city last Friday.
The first-year student is one of five students under
investigation over the claims.
Mulholland's photograph is said to be on one of a number of
false student identity cards uncovered after the election.
An election court, which was convened on the campus, has
concluded its investigations and it is believed the
may take disciplinary action against certain individuals.
Mulholland and his co-accused were remanded in custody
until July 23 at Belmarsh Magistrate's Court.
They were all charged with conspiracy to cause explosions.
Mulholland and two others are also charged with possession
of explosive substances.
Time for reflection
Drumcree aftermath: Proximity talks must be
THE last has not been heard of Drumcree this year, but the
worst of the crisis is surely over. The tragic deaths of the
three Quinn brothers in Ballymoney was a turning point
which suddenly allowed all those who were agonising about
the events in Portadown to voice their opposition. The
crowds which were expected did not arrive and at last the
police were able to take the offensive, seeking and finding
lethal weapons that have been used against them.
Before the spotlight switches elsewhere, everyone involved in
Drumcree 1998 should make a solemn resolution: Never
again. No town, institution or police force can afford
July like this one, when the whole province was taken to the
brink by a protest over a parade which spiralled out of
As the inquest begins, leading up to what hopefully will be a
resumption of the proximity talks between the Orange Order
and the residents, some points are worth bearing in mind.
This was always going to be a testing year, because the
problem over the Drumcree route was caught up with the
political tensions arising out of the Good Friday agreement.
The Order was against the agreement, so it was hardly
surprising that fringe elements would use the stand- off in a
fresh attempt to defeat it.
They have failed, it seems, because the violence and
disruption that flowed from the stalemate at Drumcree
backfired. Like it or not, the Parades Commission is the law
of the land on these matters, and when the local Orangemen
took their stand in the fields around Drumcree they created a
situation which played into the hands of the wreckers.
The Rev William Bingham voiced what thousands were
thinking when he said that no road was worth a life - let
the lives of three innocent little boys. He opened a debate
which many others have joined, late in the day, and out of
this perhaps Orangeism will rethink its position. It has many
enemies, but even some of its friends are now urging it to
with the residents, if only to see what substance there is
behind the new era of equality and political co-operation.
There is no guarantee that talks will solve the problem, but
the Orangemen and the residents must understand how
much depends on finding an answer to Drumcree and all the
other contentious parades. Not only do they result in
evictions and attacks throughout the province, but they are a
millstone around Northern Ireland's neck, devastating the
tourist industry, deterring investment and eating up millions
of pounds of public money needed for schools, hospitals and
Little has been achieved in four long years of wrangling, but
there is a full 12 months to ensure that the fields of
are never again the scene of gun and bomb attacks on gallant
policemen, holding the line. While everyone has a part to
the main onus is on the Orangemen and the residents. In
Londonderry, a civic forum where grievances can be aired is
starting to break down community barriers; why not launch a
similar initiative in Portadown?
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|[Unionist-Culture-L] BT news 16/7/98 (1) by Northern Ireland News <>|