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Latest News

4th July 2015

On this day...

  • 1763 - United Irishman Arthur O'Connor born
  • 1943 - IRA Volunteer Jackie Griffith shot dead by 26 county police force



"Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland ...

... never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland. The presence in any one generation of Irishmen - of even a respectable minority -
ready to die to affirm that truth makes that government forever a usurpation and a crime against human progress."



" ..... I am a casualty of a perennial war that is being fought between the oppressed Irish people and an alien,
oppressive, unwanted regime that refuses to withdraw from our land.

"I believe and stand by the God-given right of the Irish nation to sovereign independence,
and the right of any Irishman or woman to assert this right in armed revolution. That is why I am incarcerated, naked and tortured."




Latest News




Former top Orange Order official writes for Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht:
Warns republicans to stop 'poking unionists in the eye'

Belfast Telegraph 04/07/15

A former top Orange Order official has written for Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht - warning republicans to stop "poking unionists in the eye".

Former Order chaplain Rev Brian Kennaway ran into controversy with the institution when he joined the Parades Commission, which he has now left.

His article in An Phoblacht concludes that if republicans want to be taken seriously they should "think long and hard" about their words and actions.

It is part of a series invoked by Sinn Fein chairman Declan Kearney's call for the need for "uncomfortable conversations" between republicans and unionists.

Mr Kearney had said republicanism needed to become more intuitive about unionist apprehensions and objections, and sensitised in its response.

Mr Kennaway said unionists were not immune from such behaviour, "as the recent 'curry my yoghurt' remarks by the DUP MP Gregory Campbell demonstrated".

But he added: "You cannot achieve reconciliation on a human level by continually poking your opponents in the eye.

"Poking unionists in the eye by organising opposition to Orange parades, the naming of a children's play park after Raymond McCreesh, and the removal of the national flag from Belfast City Hall."

Mr Kennaway added: "I do not hear much from republicans in terms of a genuine acknowledgement of the mistakes of the past.

"If true reconciliation between communities is to be achieved we need to hear genuine words of 'abject and true remorse' clearly demonstrated in action.

"You cannot achieve reconciliation by constantly bringing up past events and failing to apply statements made in defence of IRA action to the actions of others.

"This was demonstrated recently when Gerry Adams made reference to Jean McConville's murder as 'these things happen in war'. If that is to be universally applied, then so is Bloody Sunday."




Drumcree hasn’t been forgotten, say Orangemen
News Letter 04/07/15

Orangemen will hold their annual Drumcree parade tomorrow – and will be blocked from completing their walk once again, just as has happened each year since 1998.

The parade was at one time the focal point of Province-wide anger and disorder, as Orangemen pressed to complete their traditional route along the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road, a road which was blocked by the authorities due to objections by residents.

Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt told the News Letter: “We still hold a weekly protest at the Drumcree church every Sunday, trying to complete the parade which was first blocked in 1998.

“A PSNI sergeant and 30 police officers meet us every week to block our way.

“But nobody should be under any illusion that although it may have been 17 years since we completed this parade, that does not mean we are forgetting it.”

The local district received permission to hold talks with residents in 2006 and have been pressing for dialogue ever since, he says, with no success.

“The Parades Commission says dialogue is needed at Drumcree – but why would Breandan MacCionnaith come to the table when he has already got everything he wants?

“There are complete double standards by the Parades Commission when you compare how they talk about the need for dialogue at Drumcree and north Belfast.”

Residents spokesman Mr MacCionnaith responded that the Order has “never made it clear that they are prepared to discuss alternative routes”.

They still apply to walk along an even more controversial and even longer-blocked route at Obins Street every year, he claimed.

“Our community feel it is more appropriate and fair that they continue to use the current route, which they were diverted to by the Parades Commission.

“As it is, this still passes many Catholic homes and the Catholic chapel.”

Tomorrow’s parade starts at 10.15am at Carleton Street, Portadown.




Irish: The forgotten white slaves
TOM News 04/07/15 (http://goo.gl/LQ9JTW)

They came as slaves: human cargo transported on British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. Some were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.

But are we talking about African slavery? King James VI and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbour.

The Irish slave trade began when James VI sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies.

By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade.

Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia.

Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (£50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than £5 Sterling). If a planter whipped, branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.

The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce.

Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish mothers, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their children and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls (many as young as 12) with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.

This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more, in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is also little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry.

In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end its participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded this chapter of Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong. Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories.

But, why is it so seldom discussed? Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims not merit more than a mention from an unknown writer?

Or is their story to be the one that their English masters intended: To completely disappear as if it never happened.

None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.




Families of three IRA men take legal action against Lord Maginnis
BBC News 03/07/15

The families of three IRA men shot dead by the SAS in County Tyrone in 1988 are taking legal action against former Ulster Unionist Lord Maginnis, the government and the chief constable.

It follows a recent RTÉ documentary on collusion.

Brothers Gerard and Martin Harte died along with Brian Mullin when the SAS fired on them near Drumnakilly.

The shootings came 10 days after eight soldiers were killed in the IRA Ballygawley bus bombing.

The families claim what was said in the documentary shows that a so-called "shoot-to-kill policy" was being operated at that time.

Lord Maginnis was among those interviewed for the programme.

He stated that in the immediate aftermath of the Ballygawley bombing he was in direct contact with then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

He said he gave Mrs Thatcher the names of people he thought would have been involved in carrying out the attack. He said the people he named ended up dead.

Just over a week after the bombing, the Harte brothers and Brian Mullin were shot dead by the SAS.

Lord Maginnis, a former Ulster Defence Regiment soldier, told the programme: "Of course I felt, thank God that's the end of those fellows, they will not be killing any more of my soldiers. And that's war."

The Harte and Mullin families are also taking civil actions against the Ministry of Defence, the Northern Ireland Office and the chief constable of the PSNI.

The claims for damages contained in legal documents say: "As a result of the murder of our client's brothers and the recent revelation that agents of the state were directly involved in the planning and carrying out of the same, our client has sustained a severe psychiatric injury.

"Medical evidence has been commissioned in this regard, In addition, the deceased's estates have incurred significant financial losses."

The families' lawyer Peter Corrigan said "This is clearly a case where the state at the highest level has ordered a shoot-to-kill policy against our clients and we are taking a civil action.

"It's clear from the programme that the authorities have usurped the judicial process.

"Names were provided, no evidence was adduced, there was no trial process, there was no charging and men were executed by the state on the authority of the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher."

Ignatius Harte, a brother of two of the IRA men shot dead at Drumnakilly, said: "It's evident from what Ken Maginnis had to say that the orders came from Thatcher herself that Gerard, Martin and Brian had to be taken out at whatever cost."

He accepts the three men were armed and involved in IRA activity at the time of the shootings.

"They had prior knowledge of the men being armed, they had access to the weapons, so therefore they could have been arrested at any time and charged.

"They lured them into an ambush and shot them dead without any warning."

The lawyer said they expect the case to be heard in the High Court in due course.




'The Irish don't get satire' says professor behind 5.5 million Hong Kong 'plantation' in Northern Ireland
Irish Independent 03/07/15

The British professor who sparked a bizarre plan to relocate 5.5 million people from Hong Kong to Northern Ireland said he was not surprised that some took it seriously as "the Irish have no sense of humour".

Christie Davies, a sociology professor at the University of Reading, said his article written in a Belfast newspaper in 1983 was never meant to be taken seriously.

“At the time, the piece was well received in Hong Kong, but it was recognized as humorous,” he told the New York Times.

“[But] the Irish do not understand satire and have no sense of humor so I guess some of them took it seriously.”

In the piece ‘Ulster to adopt Hong Kong?’, Mr Davies suggested relocating Hong Kong wholesale to Northern Ireland to boost its stagnant economy.

He wrote in The Belfast News Letter about creating a new city-state that would “save the finest example of the capitalistic system from extinction.”

The article caught the eye of George Fergusson, a junior official in the Northern Ireland Office, who forwarded it to colleague David Snoxell saying: "At this stage we see real advantages in taking the proposal seriously."

Among the benefits, Mr Fergusson suggested, it would help convince the unionist population that the government in Westminster was truly committed to retaining Northern Ireland in the UK.

“If the plantation were undertaken, it would have evident advantages in reassuring Unionist opinion of the open-ended nature of the Union,” he said.

Speaking to the BBC however, Mr Snoxell said he was shocked that people were taking the exchange seriously.

“It was a spoof between colleagues,” he said. “You can see it wasn’t intended seriously.”

“Sadly, it’s impossible to make jokes like this anymore. The diplomatic service has lost its sense of humour,” added the former official with the Republic of Ireland Department of the British Foreign Office.

Mr Snoxell said the exchange was intended to "relieved some of the tension" amongst officials in Northern Ireland, which was on heightened alert following hunger strikes by republican prisoners.

The letters, released by the British National Archives last week, show the officials joke about resettling 5.5 million Hong Kong people to a new “city-site” built between Coleraine and Derry in Northern Ireland ahead of the, then, British colony's 1997 return to China.




Irish president declines Orange Order parade invitation
News Letter 03/07/15

The Irish president has declined an invitation to attend the Orange Order’s annual Rossnowlagh demonstration in Donegal.

The Order – which in recent years has attempted to increase understanding of its work among southern politicians – had last year publicly invited Michael D Higgins to see the parade for himself.

The Institution has commented very briefly on the declined invitation to next Saturday’s Rossnowlagh demonstration, saying that it was “disappointed” but that it hoped that the Irish president would join it at a future event.

During his speech in Rossnowlagh last year, Orange Grand Master Edward Stevenson recalled the Queen’s visit to the Republic in which “with great decorum and respect” she visited sites of great significance to Irish nationalism.

He went on: “It is against this backdrop, and from this platform today, that I publicly invite the president of the Republic of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, to join us and witness for himself next year the colour and spectacle of the only Twelfth demonstration in this jurisdiction.

“You will be made most welcome here in Rossnowlagh, President Higgins, and I trust you will accept the genuine invitation in the spirit of goodwill and neighbourliness in which it is intended.

“In your inaugural speech, you spoke of a ‘common shared future built on the spirit of co-operation’, about ‘equality’ and ‘respect for all’.

“What better way to make such words a reality by reaching out in a hand of friendship to the minority Protestant community in the Republic; the symbolism of which would have positive ramifications beyond the boundaries of Co Donegal.”

However, the president has now formally declined the invitation.

The news was conveyed to the Orange Order in a letter from Conor O’Raghallaigh, the president’s deputy secretary general.

In the brief letter last month he wrote: “On behalf of President Michael D Higgins, I would like to thank you for your invitation for him to attend the July 12th Orange commemoration at Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.

“Unfortunately, the president will not be in a position to attend this event.”

An Orange Order spokesman said the Institution was “disappointed” at the response.

He added: “We hope the president of the Republic of Ireland will be able to join us on some future occasion.”

Last month, former Irish president Mary McAleese and her husband attended the opening of the Orange Order’s new museum at Schomberg House in east Belfast.




IRA victim's daughter calls for Villiers meeting
The Irish News 03/07/15

The daughter of a west Belfast woman shot dead by the IRA after admitting to being an informer has called on Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and the PSNI Chief Constable to meet her.

Shauna Moreland has also urged Retired Police Officers Association boss Raymond White, former head of RUC Special Branch, to sit down with her.

Her mother Caroline Moreland was shot dead after being interrogated by the IRA in July 1994.

The mother-of-three was found close to the Fermanagh/Monaghan border.

It is believed she was recruited as a police informer while being questioned in Castlereagh RUC station two years earlier.

British agent Freddie Scappaticci is understood to have been in charge of the IRA's internal security unit when the 34-year-old was killed.

The decision to kill her was taken just weeks before the IRA called its 1994 ceasefire.

The dead woman's grieving daughter, who was 10 at the time, recently met Sinn Féin to discuss the case.

However, she also wants to know what efforts were made by authorities to save her mother's life.

"We want to know exactly what happened our mummy by those who arrested, held, and interrogated her in Castlereagh for seven days," she said.

"My mummy was obviously frightened and vulnerable. If our mummy was coerced into any kind of arrangement during her interrogation we want to know about it.

"If this is the case then why wasn't anything done to assist her and prevent her murder?"

Ms Moreland said they want to ask Theresa Villiers if authorities allowed her to be killed to protect others.

"We want to her to hear first hand our experience, what we have had to live with, the questions we as a family have, and to understand fully the role of all those involved in the murder of our mummy."

Liam Diver from KRW Law said: "If she was an informer or under the pay of Special Branch not only would Special Branch have a responsibility but also the Secretary of State.

"It is likely that members of the Retired Police Officers Association were also members of the Special Branch at the time and would have knowledge and the onus would be on them to meet the family."

Relatives for Justice spokesman Mark Thompson said it supports the Moreland family in their call and urged Ms Villiers and others to meet them as "there are significant questions to answer surrounding Caroline's killing".




Coroner crisis ‘part of republican agenda’ on past
News Letter 03/07/15

The ‘refusal’ to replace Northern Ireland’s retiring senior coroner plays into the hands of a republican agenda to discredit the State’s role in the Troubles, a victims campaigner has claimed.

Northern Ireland’s senior coroner John Leckey is due to retire in the autumn but Innocent Victims United spokesman Kenny Donaldson said it was “the belief of many” that the inability of the Department of Justice to appoint a replacement is “one piece of a wider jigsaw which aims to bring about the radically different coronial court system envisaged within the Stormont House Agreement”.

Increased powers in the new system include the power to call anyone to give evidence, more powers to demand official documents and a much wider range of verdicts under Article 2 “right to life” inquests.

He believes that “certain anti-State interest groups and individuals are dictating the process” and added that republicanism is “intent on destroying the state” using the new system, in order to retrospectively justify its “ethnic and sectarian motivated campaign of terror”.

He also pressed political parties in the Executive to explain to victims why they “acceded to the demand of republicans” that the new coronial system should remain independent of the new Historical Investigations Unit.

The Department of Justice responded that there are currently three full-time coroners, including the senior coroner, and that the Justice Minister also recently approved a county court judge to deal with legacy cases.

The assignment of coroners to hear inquests is the responsibility of the senior coroner and will become the responsibility of the Lord Chief Justice when he assumes the presidency of the coroners’ courts, he added.

On Tuesday the sole survivor of the Kingsmills massacre, Alan Black, threatened legal action over the failure to appoint a new coroner to an inquest for the murders. Solicitors say a wide range of legacy cases face similar problems.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “The DUP has always sought to ensure victims have access to justice. At every point we have tried to undo the injustice that victims received under the Belfast Agreement. We want to redefine a the legal term “victim” and ensure it does not equate a terrorist with an innocent victim. We want to ensure there is a light shone on the past both in The UK and the RoI. It has been a long road but justice has no “sell-by date” and we will keep on campaigning for them regardless of who holds the various offices.”




Nama property sale: Call for investigation into Mick Wallace claims
BBC News 03/07/15

Politicians have called for an inquiry into a claim a law firm had £7m in an account, reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician.

The allegation, over a major property deal, was made in the Irish parliament by independent member Mick Wallace

He said it was in connection with sale of the Northern Ireland property loan portfolio of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) in 2014.

The matter is to be raised in the Northern Ireland Assembly on Friday.

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister said he will table a priority written question to the first and deputy first ministers.

Mr Allister said it is "imperative that this matter is thoroughly investigated by all relevant authorities, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)".

"The PSNI needs to make its intentions clear."

The Nama portfolio was purchased by New York firm Cerberus Capital Management for £1.3bn.

Mr Wallace named Belfast solicitors Tughans as having acted for Cerberus and that "a routine audit showed that £7m ended up in an Isle of Man bank account".

According to the official transcript of parliamentary proceedings, he added: "It was reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician."

Tughans has denied Mr Wallace's allegation, while Cerberus said "no improper or illegal fees were paid by us, or on our behalf".

The Democratic Unionist Party's Sammy Wilson cautioned that Mr Wallace is "known for outlandish claims" but added that the allegation should be "properly investigated".

Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey said Mr Wallace should go to the An Garda Síochána (Irish police) and "tell them what he knows".

That was echoed by the Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford who said: "Mick Wallace should be making a formal statement to the Garda, not just making an allegation under parliamentary privilege."

Although Tughans denied Mr Wallace's specific allegation, it did disclose details of a dispute at the highest level of the firm.

In its statement, the law firm said: "We can confirm that a former partner diverted to an account, of which he was the sole beneficiary, professional fees due to the firm, without the knowledge of the partners.

"We have since retrieved the money and he has left the practice.

"Tughans reported the circumstances of the departure of the former partner to the Law Society."

A spokesperson for the Law Society of Northern Ireland said it "does not comment on whether or not there is any investigation ongoing in relation to any particular matter or firm".




PM’s Sinn Fein snub ‘breaks spirit of Good Friday deal’
Morning Star 03/07/15

David Cameron has refused to meet Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness since the general election, writes Luke James.

The Prime Minister met Democratic Unionist First Minister Peter Robinson just 24 hours after the May 7 vote and Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt later that week.

But Mr Cameron turned down a request from Mr McGuiness and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, palming them off on Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers.

“That was just after this general election in the midst of this crisis,” Mr McGuinness told the Star.

“By adopting a partisan approach, they are running against the whole intentions that were declared in the Good Friday Agreement of parity of esteem and equality.”

Contrasting their approach with Labour’s, he said: “I never had any difficulty meeting Tony Blair. Never had a request refused.”




UK officials discussed resettling 5.5m Hong Kong Chinese in Northern Ireland
The Guardian 03/07/15

Official records reveal debate in 1983 over extraordinary plan to move millions of Chinese to Ireland at height of Troubles in runup to handover of colony to Beijing

Government officials raised the idea of resettling the entire five and a half million residents of Hong Kong in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, it has emerged in government documents that have just been released.

The extraordinary proposal, which one civil servant said should be taken seriously, has emerged from a 1983 file released to the National Archives in Kew, in London, on Friday.

The suggestion was made initially by an academic, Christie Davies, a sociology lecturer at Reading University. A city state should be established in Magilligan, between Coleraine and Derry, he said, because the colony’s population would have no political future after the territory reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

A Northern Ireland civil servant, George Fergusson, seized on the idea and launched into enthusiastic discussions with the Foreign Office. A file entitled The Replantation of N. Ireland from Hong Kong records the exchanges – the title echoes the 17th-century settlement, or “plantation of Scots in Ulster by King James I”.

Written in an era of sectarian bloodshed and political stalemate, the correspondence reflects the private exasperation of those close to the heart of power. The file was given a “restricted” status but there is nothing to indicate that it ever reached ministers.

“If the plantation were undertaken,” Fergusson wrote, “it would have evident advantages in reassuring Unionist opinion of the open-ended nature of the Union.” American doubts about the scheme would be assuaged by the “possibly happy outcome to the uncertainties currently surrounding Hong Kong”.

He continued: “We are undecided here whether the arrival of 5½ million Cantonese would make government policy [on devolution] … more or less easy to implement. Arithmetically, recognition of three identities might be thought more difficult.

“On the other hand, the newly arrived ‘third’ identity would be hard not to recognise and this in turn might lessen the scale of the problem in recognising the other two.”

There were legal precedents, Fergusson added: “If Gibraltar and Falkland Island inhabitants … may be EC citizens, how could Brussels … seriously object to the inhabitants of Hong Kong, particularly if they were living in the Magilligan area?”

Fifty Chinese families from Vietnam had been resettled in Craigavon and Coleraine already, he pointed out. “It has at least established that the Chinese do not find the Northern Ireland climate objectionable and that they can get on reasonably well with the current inhabitants.”

Fergusson said there would be a need to liaise with the Treasury, Home Office and Hong Kong itself. “At this stage we see real advantages in taking the proposals seriously,” he commented. There would need to be planning applications on a confidential basis.

In reply, DR Snoxell, of the FCO’s Republic of Ireland department, adopted a tone that suggested parody as much as caution. He wrote: “You have raised some important considerations to which we shall want to give careful thought.

“My initial reaction, however, is that the proposal could be useful to the extent that 5½ million Chinese may induce the indigenous peoples to forsake their homeland for a future elsewhere. Arrangements would, of course, have to be made for [the Chinese] to retain their UK nationality.”

Sovereignty disputes with the Irish republic over Lough Foyle could complicate their resettlement, he added. “The Chinese people of Hong Kong are essentially a fishing and maritime people,” Snoxell said.

“I am sure you would share our view that it would be unwise to settle the people of Hong Kong in the vicinity until we had established our claims on the lough and whether these extended to high or low-water mark.”

Another appreciative official at the FCO had written on the letter: “My mind will be boggling for the rest of the day.”

Although the Chinese community never reached five million, it has contributed to Northern Ireland’s political progress. Anna Lo, originally from Hong Kong, moved to Belfast in 1974, eventually becoming a Stormont assembly member for the Alliance party. She announced last year that she would stand down because of racist attacks by loyalists.




Loyalists claim police consulted before flags erected
The Irish News 02/07/15

Loyalists have claimed union flags erected in a mixed area of south Belfast were placed there with the consent of the police and will be removed by agreement at the start of September.

A spokesman for the Progressive Unionist Party was responding to criticism that flags placed along Ormeau Road in the last week were placed there to raise tensions. Last year police removed the flags from a section of the Ormeau Road saying they constituted a "breach of the peace".

However, when asked this week Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said police "will only act to remove flags where there are substantial risks to public safety".

"Until the 'joint protocol in relations to the display of flags in public areas' is updated, the PSNI will continue to work with communities to and respond to any issue where there is a concern for public safety or where it is believed a criminal offence has occurred".

The PUP has told the Irish News this week that the union and Ulster flags were placed along the section of main road in the run-up to the July 1, annual Battle of the Somme commemoration. Loyalist band parades were held across the North last night (WED) to mark the start of the anniversary of the WW1 battle.

Nationalist politicians have said they will be seeking a meeting with police to discuss the flags, South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna said business owners were "frustrated" by the number of flags in the area.

Loyalists say the flags were placed on the main Ormeau Road after consultation and with full cooperation of the PSNI.

"A local PUP representative spoke to police regarding the erecting of Union and Ulster flags", the spokesman said.

"The police assured him that erecting the flags was not a breach of peace as long as they were non-paramilitary.

"Ballynafeigh is a settled, mixed community with good community relations. In a diverse community like Ballynafeigh, which is a shared space for both traditions, the Unionist culture should at least be tolerated if not accepted.

"Erecting flags in July and August has been part of the Unionist culture and tradition for the last 100 years, otherwise acceptance of others means nothing. There was no concern for public safety in any sense and no laws were broken. There were no illegal flags erected.

"This has been confirmed by the police to the local PUP representative who had negotiated with the police. He was congratulated by the police for his action and community commitment."

And the PUP spokesman said the flags would be removed in early September as part of a voluntary agreement with police.




Call for ban on Twelfth Springfield march after band’s UDA/UFF insignia breached Parades Commission ruling
Belfast Media 02/07/15

Springfield residents are calling for the Twelfth parade in the area to be re-routed following breaches of a Parades Commission ruling by at least one band taking part in last weekend’s Orange Order Whiterock parade.

The annual march passed off peacefully following a number of restrictions imposed by the Parades Commission, including limiting the number of marchers allowed on a contentious stretch of the Springfield Road, as well as a ban on paramilitary regalia.

However, residents who held a silent protest during the parade last Saturday say regalia honouring UDA/UFF members was worn by at least one of the bands taking part – and photographs back up their claim.

Those present said insignia dedicated to UDA/UFF leaders John Gregg and Rab Carson adorned the drums and uniforms of the Cloughfern Young Conquerors from Newtownabbey.

The pair were high-ranking members of a Rathcoole-based unit of the UDA responsible for numerous sectarian attacks, including a failed attempt on the life of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

Seán Murray of the Springfield Residents’ Action Group said: “We noticed a couple of breaches on the day and we are going to draw those to the attention of the police and the Parades Commission within the next few days.

“Obviously there is a concern here that despite being warned clearly of the restrictions, displayed on a large sign on the side of a police jeep, the bands have again worn paramilitary gear.

“The paramilitary leaders they are honouring are well known for the pain they inflicted on this community. We want to bring serious attention to this breach, and for the Twelfth we are recommending the entire parade is re-routed through the Mackies site.

“We are also collating information on two other bands regarding further breaches of the determination,” he added.

A Parades Commission spokesperson said: “Any breach of a determination is a matter for the police to investigate. The Commission will take previous conduct of a parade and any proven breaches into account in reaching future decisions.”

When contacted PSNI Chief Inspector Anthony McNally said the force had “an evidence gathering operation in place and any potential breaches of the Parades Commission determination will be investigated.”




TDs back family in seeking release of Real IRA’s McKevitt
The Irish Times 02/07/15

Son says he feels no other prisoner who had major surgery would return to jail so soon

The family of jailed dissident republican leader Michael McKevitt has received the support of five TDs, including former Fianna Fáil minister Éamon Ó Cuív, in lobbying for him to be released while recovering from recent surgery.

The five who have lobbied Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald also include Independents Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Maureen O’Sullivan and Thomas Pringle.

McKevitt, who was one of four men found liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing in a civil action taken by relatives of the dead, had a cancerous kidney removed in May.

Directing terrorism

He is currently in his final year of a 20-year sentence for directing terrorism. He was also convicted of membership of an illegal organisation, the Real IRA.

“Those TDs who have recently campaigned on behalf of