THE ongoing political talks will be successful “against the odds”, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness told a meeting of his party last night.
He said the devolved institutions “are worth saving and I believe the vast majority of people share that view”. But he said the parties must agree to protect the most vulnerable and ensure Stormont (the big house on the hill) has “a workable budget so that public services are delivered to the standard the public expect and deserve”. The deputy first minister also called on the British government to accept they are part of the negotiations and are “not some kind of neutral arbitrator”. He also hit out at the government’s legislation on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles and said it is “in clear breach of the Stormont House Agreement”.
“The legislation proposed by Theresa Villiers and her cabinet colleagues has more to do with covering up the role of the British state as a central player in the conflict and its collusion with unionist death squads,” he said. He said that the executive had succeeded in blocking the worst of the Conservative government’s cuts, including the introduction of water charges. He said lower student fees, free prescriptions and lower rates bills were “rarely highlighted successes of the executive and local parties working together”. The Mid Ulster assembly member warned that a return to direct rule will result in an “unrestrained onslaught on public services and the most vulnerable in our society”. Ms Villiers repeatedly warned that if the parties cannot agree a deal on welfare reforms, the British government will take back welfare powers as a “last resort”. Mr McGuinness said as well as welfare cuts previously announced, new cuts to tax credits in April will affect 120,000 families in the north.
<strong>With many thanks to: Claire Simpson, for the origional story, The Irish News.
‘This classically is a case which calls for an answer from the person who knows whether he was on that march or not – Sir Declan Morgan.
A DERRY man given a suspended jail sentence for being the masked flag bearer in a republican parade was never properly identified, the Court of Appeal has heard. Lawyers for Patrick John McDaid argued that experts in facial mapping and image comparison techniques were not certain he had been the man pictured in a balaclava.
McDaid is seeking to overturn his conviction for managing a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation. The 43-year-old, then of Beechwood Avenue in Derry, was sentenced in May to 16 months in prison, suspended for three years, after a judge decided he was ‘Man X’ carrying an Irish tricolour at the front of the march. A seven-strong, masked colour party had headed a parade close to republican graves in the City Cemetery in Derry on Easter Sunday 2011. The commemoration, organised by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32 CSM), involved a speech being made on behalf of the Real IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH).
As well as the photographs and facial mapping evidence, the judge in the non-jury trail in Belfast Crown Court heard how police later seized a document which purported to be minutes of a meeting to organise the march. It included the reference: ‘Colour party – McDaid to get people sorted’. But judges in the Court of Appeal were told on Tuesday that nothing more than a surname was found. Kieran Mallon QC, for McDaid, also challenged the strength of the evidence from an expert who noted striking similarities in the lips and eyes of his client and Man X. “It’s our contention there was not established any form of meaningful identification,” he said. “On balance he cannot say the accused and Mr X were one and the same person, primarily because there was no statistical database against which he could test an individual with that type of eye colour or lip shape.” Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, sitting with Lords Justice Girvan and Coghlin, drew his attention to two other strands of the prosecution case: McDaids name being on the organising document and his participation in previous events. Mr Mallon accepted there would have been clear suspicions, but contended this fell short of proof. Sir Declan then alluded to McDaid’s failure to give any evidence at trial. “This classically is a case which calls for an answer from the person who knows whether he was on that march or not,” he said. Judgment in the appeal was reserved.
With thanks to: The Irish News
- ‘Facial mappers’ ID man accused of being lead flag bearer in republican parade new Facial mappers used photograph comparison techniques to identify a masked man accused of being the lead flag bearer in a republican parade, a judge heard today. (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Face mapping ‘identifies masked man’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Masked dissident and defendant the same, court is told (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- ‘Republican parade masked flag bearer never properly identified’ – court hears (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
Senior officers were targets of ONH device
THE rebel IRA were trying to murder cops with a fireball bomb carried into Belfast city centre on Friday night. The sports bag bomb, packed with inflammable material according to police on Saturday, was abandoned short of its target, according to our sources.
Sources in Belfast’s Ardoyne, where the incendiary device originated, say the bomb, which partially exploded, was meant to mimic the IRA fire bomb attack on the La Mon House Hotel in February 1978 which murdered 12 people. The Sunday World learned on Saturday that a posse of top police officers – up to a dozen strong, were out for their Christmas ‘do’ just 100 metres from where the lethal firebomb in a Slazenger sports bag was left.
One source said: “They got an emergency call just minutes before a squad of police rushed in to evacuate the whole of the St Anne’s Square pub/restaurant area in the heart of Cathedral Quarter, packed with pre-Christmas party revellers. “They immediately left the premises. But they were the targets. The dissident bombers knew who they were, and where they were.” In fact, the explosive sports bag was abandoned just 100 metres from where the police officers were sitting down for a meal and a drink. On Saturday, the PSNI staged a hastily convened press conference where it was stated that the bomb which partially exploded could have killed anyone nearby. Dissident republican group, Oglaigh na hEireann, later said they were responsible. Police said the explosion at Exchange Street West at about a quarter to seven on Friday night could have caused multiple deaths. The bomb went off as the area was being cleared. No-one was injured in the attack. Police said the bomb was fully functional and consisted of explosives and flammable liquid. It was in a sports bag and was left on a street about 150 metres away from the spot identified in a warning call made to a newspaper office. That was also just round the corner from where the off-duty police officers were having their Christmas party.
Even when they evacuated the restaurant they were in, they would have walked straight into the abandoned bomb. About 1,000 people were affected by the alert in Cathedral Quarter, which is one of the main entertainment venues in Belfast. On Saturday First Minister Peter Robinson said this was an “attack on democracy”. “We are witnessing the work of a mindless minority who are intent on taking the heart out of the city and wreaking havoc on the lives and businesses of the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland,” he said. Deputy First Minister (J116) Martin McGuinness (The Fisherman) said the bombers showed “a complete disregard for life”. “Their actions have done nothing to move our society forward but, instead, have caused distress to local residents, disruption to Christmas revellers and loss of revenue for surrounding businesses,” he said. At Saturday’s Press conference at the PSNI’s Brooklyn HQ in Belfast, Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway said: “This device was fully functional. It could have injured or killed members of the public and it has similarities to previous devices used by dissident republicans. “I would like to make a direct appeal to people who were in the area on Friday night and ask them did they see a male wearing a black hoidie carrying a black Slazenger bag in and around 6pm. “If they saw this person or anybody acting suspiciously I would appeal to them to come forward to detectives. “We are working very hard to keep Belfast safe and we will continue to do that but we need the community to be vigilant. We want them to go about their normal businness and support the premises in the town but be vigilant and if they see anything suspicious in the town don’t hesitate to lift the phone and tell us.” On Saturday and Saturday night it was ‘business as usual’ in Cathedral Quarter.
Dermot and Catherine Regan, owners of the Potted Hen restaurant close to the scene of the eexplosion said they were grateful for public support. “Thankfully no one was injured and there was no physical damage to the area. We are back to normal service from lunchtime on Sunday and will be contacting everyone who had booked for last night and whose evening entertainment was ruined,” they said. And Storming Shame Fein Sports and Culture Minister Caral Ni Chilin certainly voted with her feet. She visited the Cathedral Quarter in an unofficial capacity on Saturday evening, had a drink in a bar there, and when asked if she was giving a vote of confidence to the area after the Friday night bomb fright, said: “That’s why I’m here.”
- Bomb explosion in Belfast as Christmas revellers evacuated from city centre (theguardian.com)
- Belfast City Centre Bomb Fully Exploded, Say Police (belfastdaily.co.uk)
- PSNI hunt man after Belfast explosion (irishtimes.com)
- Video: Police hunt suspect over dissident republican Belfast city centre bomb (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Dissident republicans claim responsibility for Belfast bomb (upi.com)
Petrol bombs and blast bombs thrown
Despite appeals for calm from police and politicians a pipe bomb was thrown at officers in north Belfast and loyalist rioters attacked police in south Belfast last night. Police fired at least one baton round and used water connon on rioters on lower Newtownards Road in the east of the city after attacks on homes in the nationalist Short Strand area. Masked men threw four blast bombs from the loyalist Pitt Park area at police on lower Newtownards Road. Noone was injured. Up to 50 rioters threw stones stones and other missiles at police in the Glenmachan Street and Broadway areas of South Belfast. In North Belfast hundreds of loyalists, many wearing Orange regalia, blocked Twaddell Avenue for several hours and up to three bands walked up the road playing The Sash. Loyalists threw petrol bombs and missiles at police near the Mount Vernon estate and a vehicle was set alight. Loyalist protesters blocked roads in the Corcrain area of Portadown, Co Armagh, including a junction with the nationalist Garvaghy Road.
In Derry officers seized 20 paint bombs during a whiteline protest by loyalists on the main Glendermott and Limavady Roads. Paint was thrown at two Protestant churches in Derry erarlier yesterday, an attack condemned by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Early yesterday evening police narrowly escaped serious injury after a pipe bomb expolded close to officers in north Belfast. The device was thrown from the nationalist Brompton Park area of Ardoyne at police on Crumlin Road at about 5pm yesterday. Noone was injured in the attack, which was swiftly condemned by nationalist and unionist politicians. A seven-year-old was on the street at the time of the attack, Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said. Superintendent Emma Bond said the bomb could have badly injured officers. “We consider ourselves extremely fortunate that we are not dealing with a much more serious incident and that all the officers were able to walk away from the situation unharmed,” she said. Loyalists held demonstrations across Belfast and other towns last night in protest at the Parades Commission’s decision to block Orangemen and bands from parading past Ardoyne shops on the evening of the Twelfth. Protests were held on Shankill Road in West Belfast, Sandy Row and Castlereagh Street in east Belfast as well as in Dondonald and Antrim.
With many thanks to : Claire Simpson and Connia Young, The Irish News.
- Flames of Hate !!! – What a Weekend of Violence Means ! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Child’s lucky escape after dissidents throw blast bomb (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- 27 Police Officers Injured and Six Blast Bombs Thrown in Fourth Night of Violence (belfastdaily.co.uk)