John Connolly (44) has spent the past week plastering parts of Fermanagh and Cavan with posters in support of Liam Campbell, who faces being extradited to the eastern European nation.
Connolly – who is now a member of Republican Sinn Fein and is believed to lead the Continuity IRA in the border area – was caged for 14 years in 2000 after being caught with a 220lb Real IRA mortar.
This is the newly elected DUP councillor who posted vile racist and sectarian messages on social media.
Marc Collins, who will sit on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, used racist language on his open social media site to refer to one friend as “c*** features”.
And he described an ex-Sinn Fein Stormont minister as a “dirty w*****”.
Mr Collins told Sunday Life he was embarrassed by the comments and apologised for making them.
The messages were posted by Collins on his publicly accessible Facebook page.
One post in February 2011 read: “Yo c*** features what time you getting back from the fenian valleys?”
In another from March that year he described former Sinn Fein education minister Caitriona Ruane as a “dirty w*****” after he said he had to shake her hand.
He explained in a comment beneath the post: “Silly b**** was at the awards ceremony and had to shake her hand. Dirty inbred fenian wench, shouldn’t even have been out of the kitchen in the first place.
Collins, who is a member of the Carrickfergus Defenders flute band, also made sectarian remarks about the annual Ancient Order of Hibernians demonstration.
He posted: “Happy Hibernians day! Hopefully all the taigs enjoy their parades LOL jk (just kidding) hopefully they all drop dead” – this was followed by a smiley face.
Collins also engaged in an exchange about what appears to be a visit to a hospital in which he made both sectarian and racist remarks about the children he saw.
“The were five kids and we established that at least one was a taig, one was a pole and one had a tribe of gypsies at its bedside so we were in good company, ha ha.”
Collins, who was elected for the Knockagh area of south Antrim with 846 votes, works for East Antrim DUP MLA David Hilditch, who also acted as his election agent.
On his election leaflets he described himself as a “volunteer at the YMCA and Carrick Rangers” and as “passionate about creating opportunities for young people and reducing anti-social behaviour”.
Among those helping him on the campaign trail were East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson and DUP MLA Gordon Lyons.
In March, Collins was at Windsor Park for the launch of McDonald’s Fun Football academy and was pictured with Northern Ireland legend Pat Jennings and manager Michael O’Neill.
The same month he took part in a course at the YMCA in Carrickfergus on mental health hich included cyber-bullying.
He posted on his official councillor’s Facebook page: “Really useful course, covering a wide range of issues such as mental health, alcohol & drugs, sexual health, cyber bullying, peer pressure, etc. All topics which are prevalent in today’s society.”
In a statement, Mr Collins said: “Most of these comments were made when I was 16 years old. I’m embarrassed by them.
“They do not represent my views today and I recognise they were wholly unacceptable. I apologise to the people offended by them and apologise generally for making them.
“I’ve just been elected as a councillor. I will represent everyone and seek to give leadership to build a shared future for the next generation in my locality.
“I oppose all forms of bigotry or racism. We share this land and we are all the same regardless of religion or skin colour. I will ask the people to judge me on my work going forward rather than ill-judged comments made when I was much younger.”
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Christopher Woodhouse for the Sunday Life for the original story
The men were fighting with the Syrian Democratic Forces in two towns east of the River Euphrates
Two SAS soldiers seriously injured in Syria were hit as Islamic State militants counterattacked in one of their last two strongholds.
The two men were embedded with the Syrian Democratic Forces, Britain and America’s local allies in eastern Syria, as they attacked the Isis-held town of al-Shaafa.
A local fighter, a Kurd from the YPG militia, which dominates the Syrian Democratic Forces, was killed when an Isis unit fired what local commanders said was a heat-seeking missile at the group on Saturday morning.
One SAS soldier received a serious injury to his throat, while the other suffered lesser injuries. Both were taken to a field hospital at the nearby al-Omar oilfield and flown by helicopter to an unnamed US-run military base for hospital treatment.
The Times understands that neither Briton is in a critical condition and both are expected to survive. The Ministry of Defence would not discuss their condition, saying that it did not comment on special forces operations. Neither man has been named.
The two men are among several hundred members of British, American, French and other western special forces fighting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Syria against the remnants of Isis. The militants are surrounded in two towns east of the River Euphrates in Deir Ezzor province, al-Shaafa and al-Susah. Al-Shaafa has been the scene of intense fighting for a week, and inroads have been made against Isis, with up to half the town seized, according to local journalists.
Kamiran Sadoun, a Syrian Kurdish journalist who was in the area at the time, said that there had been five to seven SAS soldiers on patrol with SDF fighters when the clash happened. He said that he had spoken to wounded SDF soldiers at the al-Omar field hospital.“They told us they were attacked — they shot at the Isis fighters then they fired back with a thermal missile,” he told The Times. He said that besides the fighter who was killed, two more were injured.
There have been heavy coalition air strikes, including one on Friday that was said to have killed 11 civilians, among them a Russian woman and her child. Thousands more civilians have fled the area.
The death of the Kurdish fighter and the two Britons’ injuries will be used to highlight a clash between Britain and America over plans for the region. Last month President Trump announced that he would withdraw all 2,000 American troops operating in Syria. The move, contradicting a policy he announced last summer to keep American troops in Syria to ensure Isis remained defeated and to maintain a bulwark against Iranian influence, prompted fierce criticism across the West and was followed by James Mattis, US defence secretary, announcing his resignation. British politicians argued that Isis was “not yet defeated” and Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, said that it was necessary to “keep a foot on the throat”.
No timetable for the withdrawal has been given, although Mr Trump’s initial demand that it be within 30 days has been discounted.
A senior British defence source said yesterday: “This attack goes to show that the fight against Daesh is by no means over. There’s a question now over whether Daesh are ramping up their operations ahead of the US troop withdrawal to ‘prove’ that they drove American forces out. It could be similar to what the Taliban tried to do in Helmand in Afghanistan.”
With many thanks to: The Times/ The Sunday Times for the original story
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier at the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dundalk
In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum result, there was shock and dismay across Irish nationalism, which feared the return of a hard border and a more nationalistic UK moving further from the rest of Europe.
That feeling lingers, although it appears to have been somewhat lessened by the Irish Government’s robust stance in the Brexit negotiations, and the willingness of the EU to endorse that stance, putting the issue of the Irish border at or near the top of the talks process.
In the referendum, unionism voted largely to leave the EU, but there was sizable pro-remain unionist vote. But, just as there is a unity across nationalism to Brexit, so there is emerging a unified unionist front in opposition to the ‘backstop’ option which Mr Barnier articulated again yesterday.
That option – which only comes into play if the UK and the EU cannot agree on other solutions to avoiding a hard border, such as the use of technology or the entire UK remaining in a customs union – would involve regulatory alignment across the island of Ireland and customs checks between Northern Ireland and GB.
Last week DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds characterised such a stance as “almost the annexation of Northern Ireland”.
Unionism increasingly united against EU stance
Yesterday the liberal UUP MLA Steve Aiken, who backed the remain side, used the same word as he denounced the EU’s stance.
Two months ago Lord Empey, one of David Trimble’s key negotiators during the talks which led to the Good Friday Agreement, wrote to Mr Barnier to express “deep concerns” about an EU approach which he said “undermines the Belfast Agreement and the constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland”.
In a pan-European negotiation about trade, security and constitutional principle, Northern Ireland is in some ways an insignificant area.
But with the Irish border an issue of emblematic significance to both sides, it has become critical to the talks.
Unionist unease will not stop Brussels endorsing the stance of one of its members, Ireland.
But the fierce unionist-nationalist split in Northern Ireland means that the EU stance is in effect almost indistinguishable with the stance of Irish nationalism – from the Irish Government to Sinn Féin and the SDLP.
That is undsurprising, given that Mr Barnier is representing Dublin, and the other EU members, in these talks.
But in adopting a stance which is that of one side of the political divide in Northern Ireland, it makes it more difficult for the EU to present its solution as a neutral attempt to save the Good Friday Agreement or even peace itself.
With many thanks to: E News for the origional story.
The East Belfast MLA is under increasing pressure after a BBC Spotlight programme claimed he misled the assembly about the extent of his association with Charter NI.
The community group, which was awarded management of £1.7m of public money for an employability project, is headed up by alleged UDA ‘commander’ Dee Stitt.
Mr Newton, who is still being paid £87,000-a-year as speaker and MLA despite the assembly not sitting, previously told MLAs that while he offered advice to Charter NI as part of his role as an elected representative he was not an “advisor” to the east Belfast group.
However, a BBC Spotlight investigation into the controversial Social Investment Fund (SIF) has claimed documents dating back several years show he attended board meetings, helped head-hunt board members and lobbied funders on behalf of the organisation, which repeatedly refers to him in minutes as an advisor.
Mr Newton said: “I reject the allegations in the Spotlight programme. I did not mislead the NI Assembly. I have never been appointed to any position with Charter NI. I am not responsible for how others refer to me in their correspondence.
“I will not be a candidate for Speaker in any new Assembly. At the next NI Assembly sitting, I will chair the election of a new Speaker as the first matter of business.”
One set of minutes featured in the Spotight programme says that he helped to “steer” the board and did “more than just go to the board meetings”.
The Irish News previously reported how Mr Newton lobbied for money for Charter NI just weeks before refusing an urgent assembly question by the SDLPs Nichola Mallon about its funding.
He apologised to assembly members for not delegating the decision given his links to the group.
David Ford, Alliance Deputy Leader, called for Mr Newton’s immediate resignation.
“If these allegations are true, and judging by the documents unveiled on tonight’s programme, they are, then the Speaker has no option but to resign his role with immediate effect…”
“Alliance recognises people with a paramilitary past can play a positive and constructive role in society. But when people with a paramilitary present are doing so, there is a problem. That is the situation with some individuals in Charter NI.
“We have serious concerns about the lack of fairness and effective use of resources being directed towards certain groups, which is why we wrote in the summer to ask for an Audit Office investigation into SIF.
“There also needs to be a revised paramilitary strategy which is backed by all parties and which has clearly defined goals and targets. Only by doing so can we finally remove the poison of paramilitarism from society.”
Speaking last night, the SDLP deputy leader said; “It is clear from the documentation unearthed by Spotlight that Mr Newton failed to declare to the assembly and public the full extent of his role with Charter NI when he ruled against my urgent oral question on the funding of public money to this organisation from being heard and answered.”
The DUP did not respond to request for a comment last night, but Mr Newton told Spotlight in a statement that he has worked with and offered advice to all sections of the east Belfast community, including community organisations, and some of his contacts have been formal, stronger or longer than others.
It has been claimed that the DUP used the Social Investment Fund, administered by the Executive Office, to help attract votes from hardline loyalist communities.
The BBC put this question to former leader Peter Robinson, said to be the architect of the fund, who responding by saying “Catch yourself on”, adding that most political parties had held meetings with former paramilitary leaders at some stage.
In a statement to Spotlight, the Executive Office said: “Appropriate governance procedures are in place to ensure the programme is delivered and managed effectively.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.
Follow this link for the Spotlight Program: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b097tm63/spotlight-10102017#
Operation Flavius was the name given to an operation by a Special Air Service (SAS) team in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988 tasked to prevent a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb attack. Although the
intention of the operation was stated to be an arrest operaion, it ended with McCann,
Savage and Farrell dead.
The report by Amnesty
International stated that the
inquest failed to answer ‘the fundamental issue, whether the fatal shootings were caused by what happened in the street, or whether the authorities planned in advance for the three to be shot dead.’
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