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Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Irish Times of Eamon Kelly



A crime boss who changed with the times

  • 65-year-old career crimina
CONOR LALLY, Crime Correspondent
Eamon Kelly had witnessed the transformation of the underworld – and became a paid consultant to other criminals – before his murder this week
Eamon Kelly, the 65-year-old crime boss and father of nine who was shot dead on Tuesday, lived through changes in the criminal landscape that he couldn’t have imagined as a teenager.
He had come up in the era when hold-up-style bank robberies were common and gun murders infrequent. He survived into the cocaine-fuelled modern era, in which the criminal fraternity has morphed into a macho subculture where guns are commonplace and people are killed if they are even suspected of having wronged their fellow gang members.
Kelly, who had once worked as a labourer, began his crime career in the 1960s. His earliest convictions were for housebreaking and shopbreaking.
After initial brushes with the law he began to project an image of an upwardly mobile young businessman, eager to make his way in legitimate business. He became involved, with his brother Matt Kelly, in the Kelly’s Carpetdrome business, though it collapsed with huge debts in 1981.
At this time, republican bank robberies across the State were regular occurrences, and a heroin “epidemic” was sweeping Dublin, making certain crime families rich. But by the mid 1980s, with his carpet business wound up, as well as a property business he had been involved in, Eamon Kelly had joined his peers in carrying out major cash robberies.
At that time, still in his mid to late 30s, Kelly became known as a man who schooled and advised others engaged in major robberies. One of them was Gerry Hutch, who, like Kelly, was originally from Dublin’s north inner city. Hutch would go on to settle a multimillion-euro case with the Criminal Assets Bureau, which presented evidence in court claiming that he was linked to some of the biggest armed robberies in the State in the 1990s; two of those crimes netted almost £4 million.
Like Kelly, Hutch left the poor inner city to settle in a middle-class neighbourhood. He currently lives in Clontarf, less than a kilometre from the home outside which Kelly was shot this week in Killester.
Kelly was associating with figures in the Official IRA in the early 1980s and was jailed after stabbing a man in a row outside the Workers’ Party’s social club on Gardiner Street in Dublin’s north inner city.
Serious criminal 
When he came out of prison in the mid 1980s, Kelly, now a serious criminal with a bodyguard, once again stepped back into a crime scene dominated by IRA-fundraising bank robberies. By then, though, nonparamilitary gangs were finding their feet, despite the stifling influence of the Provisional IRA.
John Gilligan was specialising in robbing factories. Martin Cahill – “the General” – and his gang were proving successful at robbery-based enterprises, and the families that were among the first to corner the Dublin drugs market were continuing with their trade.
As the recession of the 1980s eased and yuppie culture reached Irish shores, Kelly decided to move into the fledgling cocaine market. His plans to develop an almost direct cocaine route from Colombia to Ireland via Miami, using a Cuban female drugs mule, were new to Ireland.
They were met by some equally pioneering Garda tactics. The force modified a van into a surveillance vehicle and used it to uncover Kelly’s plan. When he went to Jurys Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin, in September 1992 to collect £500,000 in smuggled cocaine, he was arrested and later jailed for 14 years.
The details of the case seem almost quaint when set against the hauls of up to €10 million captured in recent years. The technology now at the Garda’s disposal lets gardaí eavesdrop on mobile-phone calls and read text messages without needing physical access to the phones they are monitoring.
The man who led the 1992 investigation was Martin Callinan, then a detective sergeant and now the Garda Commissioner.The links to Cuba and Colombia set out in court were very exotic in the Dublin of the early 1990s, and the trial was heavily covered in the newspapers.
When Kelly emerged from jail for this crime, just over a decade ago, the landscape had changed significantly. The Provisional IRA now had little influence, and the economic boom had fuelled a huge drugs trade.
Members of John Gilligan’s gang had shot dead the journalist Veronica Guerin, resulting in the jailing of key members, the dismantling of the gang’s cannabis network and the setting up of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
The drugs market was now nationwide, and new gangs of young men in parts of Limerick and Cork had cornered much of the regional market.
In Dublin, Brian Rattigan and his enemies were beginning their bloody feud in the suburbs of Crumlin and Drimnagh, and Shane Coates and the Sugg and Glennon brothers – all of whom have since been shot dead – had become the group of Blanchardstown drug dealers and killers known as the Westies.
In Finglas, in north Dublin, Martin Marlo Hyland was running the biggest drugs gang in the State and the Bradley brothers, Alan and Wayne, were emerging as prolific armed robbers.
Scale of death 
The Crumlin and Drimnagh gangs, Hyland’s group, the Westies and the Keane-Collopy and rival McCarthy Dundon gangs in Limerick have all engaged in feuds in which dozens have died – a scale of death unheard of before Kelly was jailed for cocaine offences.
So Kelly – robber, drug dealer, forger and gang mentor – became a sort of paid consultant to many of the new breed in Dublin. Kelly was especially close to Eamon Dunne, who took over the large drugs and robbery gang in Finglas after Marlo Hyland’s murder and who himself would be shot dead in April 2010.
In the end it was that consultancy work that saw Kelly shot dead this week. When the Real IRA in Dublin began trying to extort money from some of the Dublin gangs, a number of the rival groups joined forces to fight off the well-structured dissidents.
The coalition led to the murder of Alan Ryan in September. The Real IRA believed Kelly was central to organising that killing and was also frustrated that Kelly had himself refused to pay up when extortion demands were made of him.
They had tried to kill him two years ago outside his house on Furry Park Road in Killester, north Dublin, but the gun jammed and the gunman ran off.
But with Kelly very much under suspicion for aiding the killers of Alan Ryan, he once again rose to the top of Real IRA’s list of targets. After more than four decades in the thick of organised crime, he was shot dead outside his Dublin home on Tuesday afternoon.

POLICE SUCK NORANGE IRELAND



  IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS
   
    Friday-Thursday, 30 November-6 December, 2012


1.  BIGOTS TURN ON ALLIANCE
2.  Unionists seeking flags 'revenge'
3.  Politics behind decision to charge eirigi activist
4.  Carers' nightmare after cruel coalition budget
5.  Emergency heart procedure for Gerry McGeough
6.  Unionists urged to attend Irish constitutional convention
7.  Feature: Letter from John Paul Wootton
8.  Analysis: Long history of unionist domination


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>>>>>> BIGOTS TURN ON ALLIANCE


 A wave of unionist violence and intimidation has followed a vote in the
 Belfast City Council on Monday to sharply reduce the number of days the
 British Union Jack flag flies over the City Hall.

 Extraordinary scenes ensued on Monday as a unionist/loyalist "protest"
 quickly descended into a mob assault on the City Hall building itself. A
 mob breaches the council chamber itself as the PSNI failed to intervene.

 Later in the week, as unionist/loyalist "protests" spread, the homes and
 offices of the cross-community Alliance Party were targeted in an
 unprecented manner.  The party hold the balance of power on Belfast City
 Council between those councillors who identify as nationalists and
 unionists, and its long-awaited decision to end the year-round flying of
 the British Union Jack over Belfast City Hall, over a decade in the
 making, has deep symbolism for both communities.

 This week's clashes were among the most serious political violence by
 unionists or loyalists in several years, and have even been compared to
 the intense Drumcree-related disturbances of the late 90s.

 'NAZI' STRATEGY

 The most serious trouble took place in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, as
 a mob torched the Alliance Party constituency office. Former
 Carrickfergus councillor Stewart Dickson compared the targeting of his
 constituency base to "Nazi Germany in the 1930s when one political party
 dares to be different is attacked".

 Just hours later, two Alliance Party councillors and their 17 month-old
 child were forced to crouch together in their bedroom for safety after a
 window was smashed at their home by paint bombs in Bangor, County Down.

 In another incident in the town, there was an attempted arson at the
 constituency office of Alliance assembly minister Stephen Farry.

 Schools in north Belfast allowed pupils to leave early as a loyalist mob
 gathered outside Alliance Party offices in Glengormley in north Belfast.
 Other schools and businesses were forced to close early.

 PSNI STAND BACK

 Although disturbances being openly organised on social networking sites,
 the PSNI failed to prevent the violence or effect any subsequent
 arrests.

 In east Belfast on Tuesday, members of the PSNI were even observed to
 stand back as loyalists set upon the offices of local Alliance MP Naomi
 Long, draping it in Union Jack flags and shouting that her seat would
 soon be retaken by DUP leader Peter Robinson. An Alliance councillor in
 the same area was also forced to flee her home after receiving death
 threats.

 Party leader David Ford said the attacks were an "assault on democracy".
 He blamed the main unionist parties, the DUP and the UUP, for inflaming
 the situation by distributing 40,000 "bogus leaflets" condemning the
 Alliance position ahead of the controversial City Hall flag vote.

 Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said there was no
 justification for attacks on homes and offices. He said the violence was
 an attack on the "democratic decision" taken by Belfast City Council on
 Monday.

 "Political unionism needs to accept that. They need to call for an end
 to  these protests and for those involved to step back," he said.

 SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said those who carried out the attack
 could not "hide behind love for a flag and then seek to wreck the rule
 of law in defence of it.

 "This is a disgusting attack against each and every person in this
 society who supports the rule of law and supports the political
 process," he said.

 INTIMIDATION

 There was also renewed intimdation of the general nationalist community,
 with Union Jacks hoisted along several main routes across the Six
 Counties, and roads closed due to sporadic disturbances.

 Flags were also attached to lamp-posts along parts of the Ormeau Road in
 south Belfast, as well as some areas of north and east Belfast. Union
 Jacks were placed on lampposts in Glengormley, Ballymena, Ballymoney and
 Magherafelt.

 On Thursday night, a crowd of loyalists provocatively erected a Union
 Jack outside St Matthew's Catholic Church in east Belfast on Thursday
 night. Again, the PSNI were seen to stand by and observe the incident.
 It came three days after loyalists throwing missiles targetedf the
 church and Catholic homes in the Short Strand area.

 Local Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile said it was a "typical
 thing" that if loyalists or unionists don't "get their way", they
 "attack the Short Strand".

 In Ballymena, County Antrim, Sinn Fein councillors had to be escorted
 from a council meeting after a violent loyalist mob gathered outside on
 Thursday night.  The PSNI again made no effort to dispel the mob.  The
 intimidation was described by councillor Monica Digney as "an absolute
 shame and a disgrace".

 BAGGOTT DISGRACED

 On Monday, the PSNI was strongly criticised for failing to secure
 Belfast City Hall from loyalist attackers as council voted, as expected,
 to end the year-round flag display.

 At one point the small police presence was withdrawn entirely, allowing
 the 1,000 strong mob to ransack the grounds of the building, damaging
 cars before breaching the council chamber itself.

 A photographer with the Associated Press was badly beaten by the police
 during the disorder, while two council security guards wre injured by
 unionists.

 The PSNI's failure to oppose Monday night's mob attack on the City Hall
 was strongly criticised by nationalists, as were the force's subsequent
 excuses.

 In an extraordinary sequence of events, known paramilitaries and hooded
 loyalists youths gathered at the building in the hours before the vote.
 Even as the 'protestors' began burning Irish tricolour flags, the PSNI
 maintained a hands-off approach until the vote result was announced. At
 that point, the mob quickly broke a rear-entry lock and massed at the
 doors into the council chamber, terrifying nationalist and unionist
 councillors alike.

 Riot police were eventually deployed only after the councillors
 complained that they were in fear of their lives.

 PSNI Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum denied the force's inaction had
 facilitated violence on several occasions this week.

 "There's a balance to be struck between on the one hand facilitating
 lawful peaceful protests and on the other upholding the law," he said.

 PSNI Chief Matt Baggott rejected calls for his personal resignation.

 "At City Hall I think the approach we took was entirely correct, we
 wanted to facilitate people, we didn't want to exacerbate the tension,"
 he said.

 Sinn Fein Policing Board member Gerry Kelly said it was "a disgraceful
 police operation - or lack of a police operation".

 "If that had been 1,000 or more republicans, it would have been very
 different. There they would not have left it that they were able to come
 into the back of city hall.

 "They indiscriminately attacked cars. We are very, very lucky that they
 didn't get into the building or we could have been dealing with a lot
 more injuries."


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>>>>>> Unionists seeking flags 'revenge'


 Unionist politicians are to try to turn the tables after a vote to
 reduce the flying of the British Union Jack flag above Belfast City Hall
 -- with a motion that the 'Butcher's Apron' flies 365 days a year above
 Stormont, the seat of the Six County Assembly.

 Since 2002 the British flag has been flown at Stormont on so-called
 'designated days' -- chiefly birthdays and commemorations of the British
 royals.  It is a policy similar to those currently in use across
 Britain, and adopted by Belfast City Council on Monday.

 DUP Minister Edwin Poots said that flying the Union Jack year-round at
 the so-called 'citadel' of unionism "is something that we do need to
 look at and we will look at."

 North Belfast colleague Nigel Dodds said the move should require only a
 simple majority of 50 per cent plus one. Unlike Belfast City Council,
 those identifying themselves as unionists hold a majority at Stormont,
 and such a review would likely be passed by that standard.

 In the aftermath of the Belfast city council vote, there were also
 instinctive demands by unionists to fly the British flag year-round from
 the Cenotaph memorial in the grounds of City Hall, as well as from a
 number of other sites across the Six Counties.

 Alasdair McDonnell of the nationalist SDLP accused the DUP of
 "aggravating matters" after another DUP Minister, Sammy Wilson, declared
 that Alliance's decision to back a reduction in flying the British flag
 over City Hall had opened "a Pandora's box".

 Dr McDonnell said: "We have two DUP ministers consciously, recklessly
 and deliberately inflaming the situation rather than calling for calm.

 "There is no chance of doing some thing further in respect of flags at
 Stormont and this type of comment by two ministers only escalates the
 situation further."

 While condemning the rioters, DUP leader Peter Robinson said Alliance
 and the nationalist parties had been "foolish and provocative". He said
 the change had "substantially damaged relations" with unionists.

 Former UUP leader Tom Elliott reflected the conviction of many unionists
 that nationalists are somehow gaining the upper hand in the Six Counties
 -- and that "unionist culture" is under threat.

 He claimed that the council vote was "just a sign of things to come for
 unionists".

 "People should not think that Sinn Fein and their fellow travellers will
 stop here in their campaign to remove any sign of unionism and
 Britishness and to increase the presence of Irish nationalism and
 republicanism within our capital city's public buildings," he said.

 Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh accused unionist politicians of raising
 tensions ahead of Monday night's council vote by urging their supporters
 to 'fight back'.

 "Those who came to the City Hall came with the intent to create
 trouble," he said.

 "Fireworks, bricks, golf balls and bolt cutters were taken to the gates
 of the city hall and used against a wholly inadequate PSNI presence.

 "It is very clear that political unionism raised the stakes in this
 debate.

 "Given that they delivered over 40,000 leaflets selectively across
 Belfast calling for people to mobilise against this council motion they
 can not hide from their responsibility".

 Alliance leader and justice minister David Ford also pointed to internet
 forums hosted by both the DUP and UUP which he said had fuelled the
 trouble.

 "DUP and UUP politicians fomented this protest, with both leaflets and
 the use of social media," he said.

 "They called people onto the streets. They must have known, from
 experience as recent as this summer, that violence was almost
 inevitable. They cannot avoid their responsibility."

 He added that any unionist condemnation of the violence was "nothing
 more than rank hypocrisy".


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>>>>>> Politics behind decision to charge eirigi activist


 The PSNI has been accused of "a crude attempt at political censorship"
 after Newry-based eirigi representative Stephen Murney was remanded
 without bail on charges that he had information "likely to be of use to
 terrorists".

 The charges against Mr Murney were spurious, said eirigi general
 secretary Breandan Mac Cionnaith.

 During Saturday's hearing a PSNI detective told the court the
 29-year-old's Facebook page contained images in which the faces of PSNI
 members were visible. Similar images were recovered from personal
 computer following a raid on his home last month.

 Mr MacCionnaith, who was in court on Saturday, said Mr Murney has a high
 profile in the Newry area, and had been a target of political
 supression.

 "These spurious charges that have been laid against Stephen Murney are
 charges which could be pressed against any political activist, any human
 rights activist, or any photojournalist in the six counties," he said.

 "These charges are a blatant but crude attempt at political censorship
 and the open suppression of legitimately held political opinions.

 "We believe that the PSNI have chosen to bring these charges against
 Stephen as a test case, which if successful, will open the floodgates
 for similar charges to be pressed against hundreds of people right
 across the six counties.

 "The wider implications of these charges are immense."

 Mr Mac Cionnaith, said that as a member of éirígí, Mr Murney had
 documented and recorded numerous instances of stop and searches, house
 raids, along with many other examples of heavy-handed operations
 conducted by the PSNI in the Newry.

 "As the local spokesperson for the party in the Newry area, Stephen has
 regularly highlighted these issues through statements carried in local
 newspapers, articles to the party website and via social media outlets."

 Among the items which the PSNI claimed may be "likely to be of use to
 terrorists" were political posters, leaflets and literature, also found
 in the raid on his home. Other items which the PSNI cited in court were
 uniforms belonging to a band of which Mr Murney was formerly a member,
 and a BB toy gun belonging to his son.

 Mr Mac Cionnaith said the charges were akin to those brought by the
 former RUC police against political activists and others under the old
 Special Powers Act between 1922 and 1972.

 "It is a fact that the PSNI have subjected Stephen to intense harassment
 as a result of his exposés of their activities along with those of the
 secretive MI5 in Newry. One well-known human rights organisation has
 previously documented this PSNI campaign against Stephen.

 "We believe that the PSNI have chosen to bring these charges against
 Stephen as a test-case, which if successful, will open the flood-gates
 for similar charges to be pressed against hundreds of people right
 across the Six Counties. The wider implications of these charges are
 immense.

 "Stephen has stated that he will strenuously oppose these charges. His
 legal representatives are ready to vigorously challenge these charges,
 even should that mean taking this case to Europe, if necessary, as the
 charges are clearly premised on breaching the European Convention on
 Human Rights.

 "As a party, we will take every step we can to assist Stephen, including
 raising his case with trade unions, human rights and civil liberties
 organisations, political parties both in Ireland and internationally."

 Mr Mac Cionnaith was defiant that the small socialist republican party
 would not be deflected by the recent attempts to suppress and smear the
 party.

 "The PSNI, supported by the British government and the puppet
 administration at Stormont, may think that they have cleverly chosen the
 battle-ground.

 "I can assure them that it is one from which this party and our members
 will not cede one inch of ground.

 "We refuse to intimidated; we refuse to be criminalised; we refuse to be
 censored and we refuse to be silenced."


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>>>>>> Carers' nightmare after cruel coalition budget


 The inequity and sheer viciousness of the Dublin government's Budget for
 2013 has come as a shock to the Irish public.

 Despite a prolonged media campaign over the past two weeks to prepare
 the ground for new taxes and cutbacks, the cumulative effects of five
 annual Austerity Budgets have devastated Ireland's middle and working
 classes.

 The Budget announcement was made in a tandem speech in the Dail on
 Wednesday by Fine Gael Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Labour's
 Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin.

 The most essential and humane services in the State bore the brunt of
 savage cutbacks. There was no strategy or direction evident in the
 measures, which the Ministers admitted were geared to produce the
 necessary 3.5 billion euro adjustment demanded by the IMF and EU.

 Cuts such as those to respite care workers, home helps, child benefits,
 medicines, pensioner allowances, fuel allowances and scores of others
 have not yet been fully analysed. But they stand in sharp contrast to
 the increased salaries and pensions which have been granted by the
 government to themselves, to state bankers and to senior public
 servants.

 About 250 carers and their families protested quietly outside the Dublin
 parliament today. Many of those in attendance said sadly that they had
 been affected by a cut of 325 euro to the annual respite care grant
 announced in Wednesday's Budget.  The grim effect of the cut will be to
 reduce or remove care from those who are terminally ill or dying.

 Mandy Palmer from Palmerstown in Dublin cares full time for her mother
 and father, who are in their 70s. Her mother suffered a massive stroke
 about three years ago and her father also suffers medical problems.

 "She can't walk and she couldn't make a cup of tea for herself."

 Ms Palmer said she used the respite grant to bring her parents for a
 night to a hotel. "I've done it for the last two years since I got the
 respite money. It means I can have some kind of memory with them that's
 not just all horrific. Then I have a couple of nights to myself where I
 get somebody in to mind them. It makes a big difference to me knowing
 that I can go away somewhere for two nights and not have to worry."

 Others who protested said the trebling in prescription charges for those
 on medical cards would affect them severely.

 "We never abuse the system. We are always very careful with the amount
 of prescriptions we get," said the mother of a woman with Spina Bifida.

 Jean Kilgannon from County Kildare said she would prefer to get inside
 the building to speak to the politicians face to face.

 "Don't ask me what I'd say to them because it couldn't be repeated. They
 feather their own nests."

 Author and campaigner Paddy Doyle said he came to the protest because he
 had heard a politician on the radio this morning "waffling" about the
 Budget and how it "wasn't that bad".

 "There's no question or doubt about it that any vulnerable group, be
 they elderly, be they carers – the few I've met here are exhausted. You
 can see it in their faces that they're just worn out. They're saving the
 State a fortune," he added.

 A number of members of the Dublin parliament were present, including
 Sinn Féin TDs Mary Lou McDonald, Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Crowe,
 Independent TDs Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, Mattie McGrath and Catherine
 Murphy and Independent Senator David Norris.


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>>>>>> Emergency heart procedure for Gerry McGeough


 Fears over the health of jailed former Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle member
 Gerry McGeough have grown after he was removed for emergency heart
 treatment last week.

 Mr McGeough, now an independent republican, was suddenly arrested and
 then jailed in 2010 for an IRA attack 31 years ago.

 The Tyrone veteran was rushed from Maghaberry jail to hospital to have a
 7th cardiac stent inserted.

 "He was back in prison the same day and is now feeling very sick
 indeed", his supporters said.

 "There is a legal provision in Northern Ireland which empowers a
 Secretary of State to 'release a life prisoner on licence if he is
 satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist which justify the
 prisoner's release on compassionate grounds.'

 "If this category of release is possible for a life prisoner, which
 'exceptional circumstances' may I ask can be taken into consideration
 for the release to a prisoner, who has been told by PMOs and outside
 doctors that he should not be in prison and who is now in a critical
 condition?"

 An independent medical expert has warned that Mr McGeough is potentially
 suffering from a 'dangerous and life-threatening condition'.

 In the run-up to the 2010 trial McGeough had a heart attack and a second
 one during the trial. He now has seven stents in his heart.

 In November 2011 he had a further heart attack in prison and had to be
 rushed to hospital where he had a further stent inserted.

 Mr McGeough has had a stream of high-level visitors, including the
 Primate of all Ireland Cardinal Brady and former Irish cabinet minister,
 Eamon O Cuiv, who has been campaigning for his release.

 Under the Good Friday Agreement McGeough should serve no more than two
 years in jail, which means he should be released by next April. However,
 there are fears that an attempt will be made by the British government
 to keep him in jail longer.

 Former political prisoner Raymond McCartney has called for a Christmas
 release of the veteran republican.

 The Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson said: "Sinn Féin supports the call by
 the family of Gerry McGeough's for him to be released for Christmas.

 "Considering that he just recently had a seventh stent inserted because
 of a heart condition, his release makes even more sense.

 "As we have stated publicly on many occasions and to both the British
 and Irish governments, Gerry McGeough should never have been in prison
 in the first place. He should be allowed to rejoin his family for
 Christmas."


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>>>>>> Unionists urged to attend Irish constitutional convention


 Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has urged unionists to reconsider an
 invitation to join the 26-County constitutional convention.

 As a year-long series of events kicked off at Dublin Castle on Saturday,
 Mr Adams said he was hopeful the DUP and Ulster Unionists would see the
 value of taking part in the debate.

 The 100-member convention will spend the next 12 months discussing
 proposed amendments to the 1937 constitution.

 The convention will consider eight specified issues including the length
 of the presidential term, reduction in the voting age, electoral reform
 and provisions for gay marriage.

 The Dublin government is not obliged to adopt any recommendations but
 has given a commitment to respond formally to each proposal and debate
 it in the Oireachtas.

 Places at the convention are available for members of the Stormont
 assembly.

 So far Alban Maginness of the SDLP, Stewart Dickson from the Alliance
 Party and the Green Party's Stephen Agnew have accepted but unionists
 have declined.

 Mr Adams, who was required to wear sunglasses at the event due to recent
 treatment for an eye complaint, said the convention should persuade
 unionists to take part.

 Speaking on the opening day, he said the 1998 Good Friday Agreement had
 created a new political dynamic and that constitutional reform could
 help build further reconciliation.

 "Sinn Fein is for a constitution that embraces all of the citizens of
 this island especially those who feel themselves to be British," he
 said.

 "A constitution which builds reconciliation between orange and green. A
 constitution that is part of shaping a new Republic for the 21st
 century."

 * Mr Adams was also told this week that new information regarding a 1987
 plot on his life by a loyalist death squad would be revealed.

 Mr Adams said the revelation, contained in a letter from the British
 barrister reviewing the Finucane casem, came as no surprise.

 "Collusion between British state forces and unionist death squads was a
 matter of institutional practise by successive British governments
 throughout the decades of conflict in the north," he said.

 "It played a part in the attack in March 1984 in which I and three
 others were shot and it has already been reported that the British were
 aware of the plan to kill me in May 1987."


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>>>>>> Feature: Letter from John Paul Wootton


 ------------------------------------------------------------------------
 An open letter from JP Wootton, who is attempting to highlight a major
 miscarriage of justice in his conviction for a fatal gun attack on a
 PSNI patrol in 2009.
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------


 My name is John Paul Wootton and I am now twenty years of age and I have
 been imprisoned in Maghaberry prison for the last three years, that is,
 from when I was 17 years of age.

 On the 10th of March 2009, while still a teenager, I was arrested and
 interrogated for thirteen days in relation to the fatal shooting of
 Constable Steven Carroll in Craigavon on the 9th of March 2009. From the
 outset of this period of interrogation I made it clear that I neither
 knew nor had any part in this incident and indeed the duration of my
 interrogation was only ended when my legal representative took out a
 legal injunction.

 On the 30th of March 2012, after a trial before a Diplock court, I was
 convicted and sentenced to a life sentence for the killing of Constable
 Carroll on the basis of a tracking device that had been fitted to my car
 at some point and which allegedly placed me at the scene of the
 shooting. However, the device in question, which had been placed there
 by members of MI5, went missing for a period of time and when it was
 finally recovered portions of the data allegedly recorded on the device
 were missing! These 'gaps' were supposedly filled by an MI5 operative
 who gave his evidence at the trial anonymously from behind a screen and
 his explanation for the data going missing was that, 'he had left it on
 his desk and someone had moved and then replaced it without his
 knowledge'!

 Additional to the missing data, the examination of my car, during the
 period of the missing data, also produced a brown coat that had
 particles of gun powder residue on it. These particles did not match the
 rifle or ammunition recovered by the PSNI that was claimed by the
 prosecution to have been the weapon that fired the fatal shot which
 killed Constable Carroll. This coat, which was a central piece of
 evidence in the case, not only did not belong to me but it had no
 physical connection to me, that is, no traces of my DNA, fibres or
 fingerprints were found on the coat.

 In short, there was no physical evidence presented to the trial that
 linked me to this shooting rather a process of speculation and
 hypothesis that turned the legal principle of innocence until proven
 guilty on its head was applied.

 During the trial my legal team attempted to tease out the anomalies of
 this case to demonstrate the complete lack of evidence against me,
 however, at each attempt they were met with the barrier of 'Public
 Interest Immunity Orders' being sought and granted to the prosecution.
 As a result of this crucial lines of inquiry about the movements of my
 car and the particles on the coat were denied to my defence.

 As a consequence of all of the above I have instructed my legal team to
 appeal the conviction against me on the grounds that I did not receive a
 fair trial for the following reasons;

 I was refused the right to a trial by jury and instead I was tried by a
 single judge in a Diplock court,

 This single judge in the absence of any physical evidence against me
 resorted to negative inference and opinion,

 Evidence which may have assisted my defence or undermined the case
 against me was kept hidden from my legal team through the use of Public
 Interest Immunity Orders,

 Several witnesses were granted anonymity thereby preventing the defence
 from properly cross examining them.

 I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this short
 description of what has happened to me and I would ask you to do all
 that you can to highlight this miscarriage of justice in the hope that I
 will get the chance of a fair trial at my appeal.

 Further information on the legal detail of this case and the summary of
 the original trial are also contained on this web site. Please feel free
 to use them to demonstrate the scale of the injustice involved or to
 contact my legal representatives with any enquiries.

 Thank you, John Paul Wootton


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>>>>>> Analysis: Long history of unionist domination


 By Jim Gibney (for Irish News)


 It took nearly one hundred years for democracy and equality to arrive in
 Belfast City Hall in Ireland's second largest city. And it arrived
 courtesy of democratic parties, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance using their
 combined electoral strength to sweep away the suffocating stranglehold
 that unionist parties held over the council since 1921 when this country
 was partitioned.

 Monday night's vote which removed the Union flag from flying permanently
 over Belfast's city hall is a profound blow (symbolic and practical)
 against the DUP and the UUP and their attempts to pretend that the days
 of unionist domination were not over when in fact they were.

 The removal of the Union flag brings this unionist pretence to a
 dramatic and democratic full stop.

 The removal of the flag removes the veil of unionist supremacy and now
 the DUP and the UUP stand bare before their electorate and the rest of
 the people of Belfast and it is a good thing for both parties. It is
 also a good thing for the people of Belfast, the people of the north and
 the people of this island.

 In its desperation to maintain the pretence (and try to unseat
 Alliance's Naomi Long from her seat in East Belfast) the flailing DUP is
 dragging a dignified and respected site - the Cenotaph - onto its
 squalid and narrow political ground by proposing the council support the
 flying of the Union flag there all year round. The DUP's attempt to
 hijack the Cenotaph is crass sectarianism and an insult to the memory of
 the dead of the First and Second World War and deeply offensive to the
 sensitivities of many people including nationalist and republican
 families who lost loved ones during both wars.

 Monday night's decision is a 'win-win' situation for everyone.

 Political domination leads to an abuse of power, corruption, alienation
 and resentment by those who are denied respect and their rightful place
 in political life.

 In the case of the north of Ireland and many other places in the world
 it led to violence.

 Unionists on Belfast City Council are learning the lesson that their
 counterparts have had to learn at the assembly and it is a simple lesson
 brought to them through the democratic expressions of the electorate at
 the ballot box.

 At assembly elections the electorate voted for the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP,
 UUP, PUP and Alliance and it is around that democratic outcome that the
 political system functions.

 I believe in circumstances where political allegiance and political
 space are contested, as we have in the north, then in terms of a
 community's political and cultural emblems those emblems should be
 publicly recognised, respected and displayed.

 My personal preference is to see the Irish tricolour and the Union flag
 flying simultaneously on government buildings on politically agreed days
 - agreed by all the political parties.

 If that is not possible then no flag should be flown, or a new agreed
 neutral emblem, associated with the new democratic institutions should
 be displayed as exists at the assembly. Its motif is the linen and flax
 plant long associated with Irish industry.

 It is quite obvious from the behaviour of unionist councillors on
 Belfast City Council on Monday night, in their doomed attempt to block
 democratic change, that they are still in denial about their new place
 in northern society.

 Despite overwhelming evidence in front of their eyes unionist behave as
 if they are still 'the majority'.

 It would be better for them and for their followers if they embraced the
 new reality that they are a minority political expression, a sizeable
 minority but a minority nonetheless.

 It would be better for them and their followers to be advocates of these
 new political realities because such an approach would lead unionists in
 a different direction when it comes to issues such as flags and Orange
 Order marches.

 Unionists are using such emotional issues to cling to the remnants of
 their once unchallengeable power.

 And in the process they are poisoning politics with sectarian emotions.

 In the long march towards a national Irish democracy Monday night's
 decision is an important milestone.

 There are opportunities in it for everyone and maybe, just maybe, on
 reflection unionist leaders will grasp that fact and act accordingly.


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