I AM ONE of the Bethany survivors group. I live in Sydney, Australia, which has been my home for the last 40 years.
I was born in the Bethany HomeRathgar, but I was adopted by a family from Belfast. This family was very wealthy, however I had a terrible life with them. They abused me on daily basis. I left their home at the tender age of 14 never to return.
I became an alcoholic
I got married and had three children, but I was a drunk. Life was terrible and I was in hospital many times. We came to Australia hoping for a better life, however I continued drinking. I was to meet an Irishman who convinced me that I could get better. I have not had a drink for over 30 years and thankfully, I have a wonderful life. I served as Deputy Mayor here and also assisted the Irish Olympic Team during the Sydney Games.
After starting the long journey to recovery it was suggested to me that I should look into my background as this was one of the many problems I had. I contacted a solicitor in Ireland and instructed him to find my mother and what had happened.
I never knew I was born in Dublin as the papers I had showed that I was born in Belfast. I found my mother, but regretfully she had died just months before. She had seven sisters and I made a very emotional visit to Castlederg to visit one of them. That was a wonderful time in my life as I discovered I had a family.
The mystery around my identity
I found that my name was Maurice Johnston, so I went to Dublin and obtained a copy of my birth certificate and went to Rathgar to look at where I was born. I have had some health issues and most of these according to my doctor were a result of my treatment in Bethany. I found out about Bethany Survivors group by accident when I was looking for information on Bethany and I came across Derek Leinster, Chairperson Bethany Survivors Group.
Derek has become a good friend and without his help my anger and depression would be a lot worse. He has himself taken on this task and I know I speak for all of us when I say he has helped a lot of people understand why they feel different.
One of the strange problems involves my passport. I applied for a visa to visit USA, but the passport office came back and told me that there was no record of a Paul Graham being born in Dublin nor was there any record of a Paul Graham being born in Belfast.
The only person that understood
Eventually, we finally got the visa. I spoke to the Irish embassy about this and they said that as I had an Irish birth certificate it was legally possible to issue me a passport under my name of Maurice Johnston however they said it could cause a lot of legal problems.
I often wished that my childhood could have been different; I would love to have been normal and become perhaps a doctor, however this was not to be. I am now 74 and I have the beginnings of dementia, but I am finally happy after all these years. I have three wonderful children who have stood by me and a wonderful wife of 53 years.
She is only person who has understood that I was not bad, just sick.
This is being kept out of the media, both in Ireland and the USA:From the organization “HARK.” Zachary Gelevinger is a young man from Wisconsin who arrived in Belfast Wednesday to enjoy a long-timed planned first trip to Ireland, the home of his Grandmother and a lifetime dream that has turned into a nightmare. Zachary had been corresponding with Political Prisoner Christine Connor and as a gesture of kindness, had organised a visit with Christine on her birthday, arranged by Christine’s mother. This act of good will was forever tarnished when the visit was cut short and Zachary was taken out of the visit by the PSNI in handcuffs under suspicion of “Dissident Activity.” Please note again that Zachary had not stepped foot in Ireland until Wednesday. The American Embassy was not contacted as is proper procedure and in fact when outside sources contacted the US Stated Department at the Embassy, their calls to speak with Zachary weren’t allowed through…again violating International Law. Zachary suffers from epilepsy and may not have access to his medicines. His case has been picked up by the law practice of Madden and Finucane and just this morning the police were granted an additional 72 hours to hold Zachary for questioning by a Belfast Judge. What we have here is the arrogance of the PSNI at it’s most disgraceful. Citizens in the North of Ireland have lived with constant violations of human rights by the police for longer than anyone can remember, but now visitors to the North can be arrested and held for dissident activity, even if they have never set foot in Ireland before? By arresting a foreign citizen visiting Ireland on holiday, the PSNI have shown that as we’ve seen in the recent actions in the April appeal of Brendan McConville and John Paul Woottton, that they are answerable to no one, that they feel that they are above the law. In this new atrocity, in ignoring the US State Department and not following proper International procedure, they are showing that the feel they are even above International law. I beg you, do not remain silent in this case. Zachary Gelevinger came to Belfast to visit the land of his birth and sets in chains because he chose to reach out to a Political Prisoner on her birthday. A lot of words have been tossed around lately about this horror. Outrage. Unjust. Evil. There are no words to describe what this man in his early 20’s is going through and absolutely no description to describe the arrogance and vanity of the PSNI in arresting a visiting citizen from America. If a citizen from another country has no rights in the North of Ireland, how does NI ever expect to become anything but isolated and alone? We suffer enough in the fight to bring awareness of our own continuing human rights violations and governmental challenges to the rest of the world. We can not allow the same to start happening to visitors and tourists. You might as well lock the borders and toss away the key. Please share Zachary’s story everywhere you can. Caroline Ceallaigh via Zachary Gelevinger Kidnapped By PSNI – Indymedia Ireland.
Obama’s One-Way Mirror Truth-Out
This problem of one-way transparency is exemplified by how the government is dealing with the most important criminal trial involving leaks of classified information since the Pentagon Papers: the court-martial of Bradley Manning. The government has … See all stories on this topic »
On Second Thought Deseret News
Ellsberg: We note the excused absence of Pfc. Bradley Manning. We’d also like to welcome our newest member, Edward Snowden! Snowden: Thank you. Julian Assange: Welcome, although I knew you’d be here. Snowden: How’s that? Assange: I took the … See all stories on this topic »
Hundreds of anti-G8 protesters marched to the summit site in Co Fermanagh on Monday evening, as the eight world leaders dined on Northern Irish delicacies inside the resort.
The parade and rally at the cordon around Lough Erne Golf Resort passed off without major incident, although at one point around 20 protesters briefly breached an outer wire fence in front of the main security wall, two miles from the hotel.
The episode did not result in a physical confrontation with police, with the demonstrators withdrawing through the barrier when issued with verbal warnings by officers. There were no arrests.
The vast majority of the activists, who marched three miles from Enniskillen town, were in good spirits as they voiced concerns on a range of issues as the G8 leaders met inside.
Police estimated that 700 people took part but organisers put the figure at around 2,000.
Eamonn McCann, of the People Before Profit campaign group, criticised the scale of the security operation around the resort as he addressed the crowds.
“We are not negative, it is they who are negative, it’s them who have to have 7,000 armed personnel to defend them with a ring of steel. What a farce,” he said.
Hundreds of police officers who lined the route, many drafted in from elsewhere in the UK, were confined to essentially a watching brief from a discreet distance.
The event was the second of two major protests planned in Northern Ireland to coincide with the G8.
With Saturday’s rally in Belfast passing off peacefully, security chiefs will be relieved that contingency measures put in place to deal with potential troublemakers have not yet been called upon.
Around 260 additional police custody cells have been set aside and 16 judges have been on standby to preside over special courts in the event of disorder.
Protesters advocating a diverse range of causes and campaigns, local and global, took part.
Some voiced anger at proposals to bring the controversial fracking gas extraction method to Co Fermanagh, with others hitting out at the G8 leaders for their involvement in conflicts across the world. Many were simply making stand against capitalism.
Earlier, dozens of onlookers stood in shop fronts and at pub doors in Enniskillen town centre as the noisy spectacle passed by on its way toward Lough Erne.
Many demonstrators were keen to highlight their causes as they walked along.
Ciaran Morris, 48, was dressed in a Guantanamo Bay-style orange jump suit and clutched a Palestinian flag.
He said he was protesting against injustices like the treatment of the Palestinians as well as incarceration at the US military base on Cuba.
“All the forefathers of America would turn in their graves,” the Fermanagh man said.
Peter Worth, who lives in Bundoran, Co Donegal, was demanding an end to fracking. He said the protest had given him confidence that many more people shared his concerns about the practice.
“You meet like-minded people and you realise you’re not alone,” he said. “It helps that there are people that are also against this wholesale destruction of the planet.”
George Tzamouranis, 48, from Greece, who was brought up in Wimbledon, south-west London, but now lives in Belfast, said he turned out to express his anger at capitalism.
“I’m angry that capitalism is an unjust, unfair system,” he said. “My sister is a stock market analyst and is immensely wealthy, yet I’ve been out of work for 25 years.”
Mr Tzamouranis said he graduated with a degree in Oriental languages, has been unable to get a job with his education other than casual shift work and remains a victim of capitalism.
“I’ve been living on the ragged edge since 1991,” he said. “Living in hostels, night shelters and now they have put me in a tiny one bedroom flat in Belfast. Capitalists are running down companies here, exploiting people in the East and turning us into the unemployed, marginalised, excluded.”
Caoimhin O’Machail, 66, from Dungannon in Co Tyrone, said the decision to hold the summit in Northern Ireland was unforgivable.
“It is capitalism gone crazy,” he said. “The money they are spending on it is obscene – why don’t they throw them into the desert and let them get on with it?”
Frankie Dean, 50, from Ballinamallard, Co Fermanagh, said he wanted to speak up for gay and transgender people being persecuted in Russia and Northern Ireland.
“Also while equal marriage is coming into the UK and other countries, it is not in Northern Ireland – and that is because of religious influences. I want those in government to come away from these influences and respect people’s rights.”
James Pellatt-Shand, 42, from Canterbury, said the turnout was lower than anticipated and blamed protesters being scared off from travelling to the area, but said he was delighted with the carnival atmosphere.
His main concern was global hunger and poverty, which he claimed could be easily solved with goodwill between rich nations.
“But I think they’ll be more likely to discuss how many weapons to give Syria than how many children are going to bed hungry,” he said.
He criticised big companies who avoid tax in developing countries, saying: “They are just stealing the food out of poor people’s mouths.”
Anti-austerity campaigners from Donegal wore giant sized heads of German chancellor Angela Merkel, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, whom they accused of being her puppets.
Charlie McDyer said: “They are the instigators of austerity in Ireland. They have no consideration for anyone in this country apart from the elite.”
Four human rights observers with the Committee for the Administration of Justice in Belfast were asked to observe the rally by Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
G8 leaders enjoy Comber spuds and Irish coffees at working dinner Belfast Telegraph
The new season Comber, or Comber early as it’s sometimes called, is regarded as the king of the potato crop in Northern Ireland thanks to the climate in which it’s grown, sheltered by the Mournes and the Ards Peninsula. It’s also harvested earlier than …
Parliament Committee, Irish delegation discuss cooperation
Petra News Agency
Amman, June 17(Petra)– Head of the Arab and International Affairs Parliamentary Committee, MP Talal Al-Sharif, met with an Irish Parliamentary delegation on Monday to promote friendly ties between the two countries in various aspects, particularly the …
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Spaniards hold anti–austerity demos Press TV
Deteriorating economic situation in Europe has created growing discontent among the European public, with many nations across the continent grappling with teetering economies. The European financial crisis began in early 2008. Insolvency now threatens …
NOW that Northern Ireland is more peaceful place, it’s encouraging to see it being picked to host the laste G8 bunfight. The great and good (and look out for Mr G9 Bono in attendance) will mass at the Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh:
The Resort is the ultimate expression in old world heritage and new world luxury, set on its very own 600 acre peninsula, between Castle Hume Lough and Lower Lough Erne, just outside Enniskillen, with stunning panoramic views from almost every vantage point.
Unless you look to the right and see the barbed wire, armed uniformed goons and balaclava enthusiasts…
PS – When we’ve got them locked up inside, can we leave them there?
PICTURE POSED BY MODEL: Temporary cell blocks which have been built at Omagh police station in Co Tyrone, which are being made available for G8 summit protests.
Issue date: Tuesday June 11, 2013. The police have diverted extra investigators, translators and forensic medical officers to the two custody sites at a former military barracks in Omagh and Musgrave Street station in Belfast to ensure cases are brought to court as quickly as possible. See PA story ULSTER G8 Courts. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Divers check water features in fields near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit
Razor wire is laid in fields near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
A Water cannon at the main checkpoint and security fence near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Sign on the security fence near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Police man a checkpoint at the entrance to Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
A Water Cannon passing miles of fencing erected around Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Razor wire is laid in fields near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Main checkpoint and security fence near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Activists from Unite, Britain’s biggest union, and NIPSA, which represents thousands of public sector workers in Northern Ireland, said measures had been put in place to prevent demonstrations in Belfast and Fermanagh being hijacked by troublemakers.
“If you are intent on trouble do not come near our demonstration. We won’t allow this demonstration to be hijacked,” said Gary Mulcahy, a spokesman and co-ordinator for the G8 Not Welcome campaign.
Thousands more are expected to travel west for another rally against the G8 summit in Enniskillen on Monday.
Protesters will attempt to get as close to the world’s eight most powerful leaders as possible by snaking their way on a pre-agreed route through the town towards a perimeter fence erected around the site of the luxurious Lough Erne resort. The protest is expected to last for up to four hours.
The trade unions have also accused the Government of scaremongering in an attempt to put people off joining protests.
Jimmy Kelly, Unite regional secretary, said an atmosphere of fear was being deliberately stirred up ahead of the conference.
“All the build up is designed to put people off with wall-to-wall police, back up and drones and everything you can think of.
“We are trying to cut through that intimidation climate to say you are entitled to protest, be proud to protest because our aims are just and we are a force for good. If you want to go out with your family and be part of the protest you are concerned that the security is going to go over the top.”
What are the implications for the US if the hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay result in death?
The result will be widespread rioting in the Muslim world. The deaths will further fuel the resolve and enhance the aims of Muslim terrorists. A possible fragmentation of what friends the US has left in the Middle East is also a possible outcome
On May 5, 1981, imprisoned Irish Catholic militant Bobby Sands dies after refusing food for 66 days in protest of his treatment as a criminal rather than a political prisoner by British authorities. His death immediately kicked-off widespread rioting in Belfast, as young Irish-Catholic militants clashed with police and British Army patrols and started fires. Bobby Sands was born into a Catholic family in a Protestant area of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1954. In 1972, sectarian violence forced his family to move to public housing in a Catholic area, where Sands was recruited by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). The Provisional IRA, formed in 1969 after a break with the Official IRA, advocated violence and terrorism as a means of winning independence for Northern Ireland from Britain. (The Provisional IRA, the dominant branch, is generally referred to as simply the IRA.) After independence, according to the IRA, Northern Ireland would be united with the Republic of Ireland in a socialist Irish republic. In 1972, Sands was arrested and convicted of taking part in several IRA robberies. Because he was convicted for IRA activities, he was given “special category status” and sent to a prison that was more akin to a prisoner of war camp because it allowed freedom of dress and freedom of movement within the prison grounds. He spent four years there. After less than a year back on the streets, Sands was arrested in 1977 for gun possession near the scene of an IRA bombing and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Because the British government had enacted a policy of “criminalization” of Irish terrorists in 1976, Sands was imprisoned as a dangerous criminal in the Maze Prison south of Belfast. During the next few years, from his cell in the Maze, he joined other imprisoned IRA terrorists in protests demanding restoration of the freedoms they had previously enjoyed under special category status. In 1980, a hunger strike lasted 53 days before it was called off when one of the protesters fell into a coma. In response, the British government offered a few concessions to the prisoners, but they failed to deliver all they had promised and protests resumed. Sands did not take a direct part in the 1980 strike, but he acted as the IRA-appointed leader and spokesperson of the protesting prisoners. On March 1, 1981 (the fifth anniversary of the British policy of criminalization) Bobby Sands launched a new hunger strike. He took only water and salt, and his weight dropped from 70 to 40 kilos. After two weeks, another protester joined the strike, and six days after that, two more. On April 9, in the midst of the strike, Sands was elected to a vacant seat in the British Parliament from Fermanagh and South Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Parliament subsequently introduced legislation to disqualify convicts serving prison sentences for eligibility for Parliament. His election and fears of violence after his death drew international attention to Sands’ protest. In the final week of his life, Pope John Paul II sent a personal envoy to urge Sands to give up the strike. He refused. On May 3, he fell into a coma, and in the early morning of May 5 he died. Fighting raged for days in Belfast, and tens of thousands attended his funeral on May 7. After Sands’ death, the hunger strike continued, and nine more men perished before it was called off on October 3, 1981, under pressure from Catholic Church leaders and the prisoners’ families. In the aftermath of the strike, the administration of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher agreed to give in to several of the protesters’ demands, including the right to wear civilian clothing and the right to receive mail and visits. Prisoners were also allowed to move more freely and no longer were subject to harsh penalties for refusing prison work. Official recognition of their political status, however, was not granted.
The police appear to be totally anti cannabis in Ireland yet do nothing to protect the citizens from the banking fraudsters who have brought the country to its knees.
Would the public be better served if more police time were devoted to investigating the crimes of bankers and speculators rather than using up their resources chasing cannabis dealers
How many people in Ireland have had problems with the police for possession of cannabis. How many have been sent to jail.
Yet the bankers and speculators who have brought the country to its knees still walk the land as free citizens I wonder why!!!
Published on 26/04/2013 15:00
A TANDRAGEE man was among seven members of a crime gang jailed last Friday for their involvement in a £2.5 million drugs smuggling operation in Belfast.
James Turley, 53, of Ballymore Road, Tandragee and 38-year-old Warren Martin, of Windsor Terrace, Coagh – who were described by the judge as “privates” in the operation – were jailed for 15 months and 13 months respectively, with half of the term being custodial.
Gang leader Ryan Joseph Black, 29, received the longest term, seven and a half years, with a man described as his “trusted lieutenant” William Johnston, 35, given six years and nine months at Belfast Crown Court.
A major drugs manufacturing operation was uncovered in a city centre flat as part of a police operation in 2010 to disrupt the gang.
All seven men involved pleaded guilty to charges facing them prior to the start of their trial.
Black, whose address cannot be published for legal reasons, and Johnston, of Windermere Park, Belfast, have to serve half the terms in custody, with the remainder on licence.
Both men have already spent a substantial period of time in prison on remand since their arrests in December 2010. This time served will be deducted from the sentences handed down by Judge David McFarland.
Around 52,000 illicit tablets, 30kg of cannabis resin, 1kg of cocaine and £15,000 in cash were part of the haul found in the Laganview Court apartment near Queen’s Bridge in Belfast.
A hydraulic press for making cocaine, an industrial blender, cutting agent, boards, scales and knives were also seized from inside the property, which was fitted with black-out blinds.
The flat was searched by officers in December 2010 shortly after police intercepted the transfer of 26kg of herbal cannabis between vehicles near the Boucher Road in south Belfast.
Two months earlier in the Duncrue estate in north Belfast police halted another drugs transfer – this time involving around 45 kg of herbal cannabis – linked to the same trafficking operation.
Of the five other gang members, Aiden Joseph McPartland, 32, from Deramore Gardens, Belfast and Mark Mulholland, 27, of Colonsay Park, Ballymena, were described by the judge as “corporals” in the command structure. They received 22 months and 24 months respectively. Again only half the sentences are custodial.
Anthony McStravick, 33, from Ailesbury Road, Belfast, who was said by the judge to have played a “minor role”, was given 10 months. He will be eligible for remission.
The men showed no emotion as the sentences were handed down.
Police believe the drugs were transported from England and were destined for the illicit market in Belfast.
The PSNI said, during a parallel investigation in England conducted by East Midlands Special Operations Unit, 11 people received convictions last year.
After the sentencing hearing, PSNI Organised Crime Branch Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall said: “This was a lengthy and complex proactive investigation into an organised crime gang which was bringing large quantities of controlled drugs into Northern Ireland.
“We have secured convictions against the gang leader and his deputy as well as their couriers and the individual responsible for mixing the cocaine.
“Working with colleagues in East Midlands Special Operations Unit, we have swept away a web of illegal drug supply covering Northern Ireland and part of England.
“The gang leader, Ryan Black, believed he could direct the activities of the gang from a safe distance and escape the reach of the law.
“But the investigation by Organised Crime Branch was of such a comprehensive and forensic nature that his plan failed. Both the gang leader and his associates have been made amenable.
“In Northern Ireland we have dismantled a gang responsible for large-scale drugs importation.
“Organised Crime Branch will continue to work with local communities and colleagues in law enforcement, in this jurisdiction and around the world, to ensure Northern Ireland is a hostile environment for those who seek to make money by manufacturing, importing or distributing controlled drugs.”
THREE Chinese men who pleaded guilty to their involvement in a massive drugs bust at Piltown eleven months ago were jailed for seven and half years, suspended for six years on condition they leave the country immediately and not return during their life-time.
The accused Guotai Lin (60), Lin Lin (41) and Chao Long He (36) of no fixed abode were sentenced by Judge Alice Doyle at Kilkenny Circuit Court on Tuesday last.
Assisted by an interpreter and described by Garda Thomas Gahan as being on the ‘lowest rung of the ladder in relation to this particular operation but caught in time’, the trio pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis for sale or supply and cultivation of cannabis in Kildalton, Piltown on May 2, 2012.
Smuggled into Ireland
They’ve been in custody since May 4 last year and were trafficked into the UK and then smuggled into Ireland using false ID papers.
The court heard they were effectively imprisoned in Piltown, their living conditions were basic but they knew they were dealing with cannabis.
Garda Gahan outlined that 43.5 kilogrammes of cannbis herb valued at €870,000 was seized along with 16 kilos in packages after members of the Garda National Drugs Unit and Gardai from Kilkenny Division and the Regional Support Unit raided the warehouse – two separate industrial units that had been merged – at 6.55pm on May 2 last.
However, media reports at the time estimated the street value of the cannabis find, some harvested and much of it still in pots, to be in the region of €3.5 million.
The two units had been rented out, unknown to the owners and to create optimum conditions for cultivation, the walls were knocked between the units, the roof was lowered, the ESB was bypassed and ventilation systems were installed.
While elaborate heat lamps and thermometers, nutrients and water barrells for feeding the plants, a vacuum packing machine and weighing scales were discovered.
Garda Gahan presented comprehensive photographic evidence of the warehouse and it showed separate areas where cannabis was being dried, two rooms where plants were at an advanced stage of growth and another where plants had flowered and were ready for cultivation.
Garda Gahan explained the three men were located inside and subsequently arrested. None of them had English and with the assistance of an interpreter they were interviewed four times over a period of two days at Kilkenny and Thomastown Garda Stations where they were co-operative and a plea was indicated at an early stage. A photograph of their living quarters was presented in evidence.
None of the three had previous convictions in this jurisdiction, but Lin Lin had a conviction for selling counterfeit DVD’s in England in 2001.
Garda Gahan said they were at the bottom rung of the ladder but when it was put to him by Senior Counsel Paddy McCarthy (representing Guotai Lin) they’d no home comforts living in the warehouse, he countered, “They also had phones and phone credit and a small amount of money was found. Their job was done and we caught them in time.”
Judge Doyle said it was a very serious case with a massive amount of drugs involved. “There was €870,000 of cannabis herb found but there was also a huge amount of uncultivated plants and they probably had a value of twice that figure or a lot more.”
She did take into account that the defendants spent a year in custody already and insisted it would of no benefit to the Irish state to keep them in prison. “They are vulnerable people and were not involved in drugs before and one has attempted serious self harm while in prison.”
Prosecuting barrister Brian O’Shea indicated the maximum prison sentence Judge Alice Doyle could impose was 14 years and she explained the suspension of their sentences only comes into effect when they are in a position to be deported.
A drug gang concealed a sophisticated cannabis growhouse in two 40ft containers which they buried under a mobile home in a remote part of Co Cork.
The gang accessed the containers through the floor of a mobile home near the village of Ballyvourney.
Gardaí say it is the first bunker-style growhouse of its type found. They described it as “very sophisticated”, with its own power and water supply.
Armed with a search warrant, members of the Cork West Divisional Drugs Unit, raided the growhouse shortly after 7pm last Tuesday.
They found about 150 plants in various stages of growth, which have an estimated street value of €100,000.
Three men, believed to be in their early to mid-30s and from Eastern Europe, were arrested.
Two were being detained at Bandon Garda Station and the third in Macroom Garda Station under section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act, 1996.
The growhouse was concealed under the mobile home in a woodland clearing at Derreenaling — about 3km south-west of Ballyvourney, near the Cork/Kerry border.
“This wasn’t done with a spade and shovel. Machinery had to be used to dig out the site for the containers,” said a senior Garda source.
He added it was the first underground growhouse of its type he had seen.
“We were used to mainstream republicans in the past and now dissident republicans using underground bunkers for hiding arms, training purposes, and hiding people. But we haven’t see this type of concealment with growhouses.”
Gardaí cordoned off the growhouse and yesterday morning started a full analysis of its contents. It is the second major growhouse seizure to occur on the Cork/Kerry border in past few days.
Last Thursday night, gardaí from Kanturk seized 204 cannabis plants in various stages of growth and about 1kg of processed cannabis worth in the region of €170,000.
The cannabis plants were found in sheds outside a family home near the village of Rathmore, Co Kerry.
A number of members of a family were in the house when gardaí raided it. There were no arrests at the time.
However, a Garda spokesman confirmed yesterday that a mother and son had since been arrested in connection with that investigation. “They were released without charge and a file is to be prepared for the DPP.”
Meanwhile, in an unrelated drugs seizure, gardaí arrested two men in their 40s following the discovery of cocaine, cannabis resin and cannabis herb worth €20,000 on the northside of Cork City.
Elsewhere, gardaí last night arrested two men, seized a number of stolen vehicles, and uncovered a cannabis growing facility in Ballycoolin, Dublin. The cannabis was worth about €125,000.
A builder who lost his job after 25 years resorted to growing cannabis at his home because he could see no other way out of his financial problems.
Eamon Hourihan, aged 52, yesterday pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis at Templeboden, Ballincurrig, Leamlara, Co Cork, on May 17, 2011, and having the drug for sale or supply.
Garda Kieran Glynn testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday that Hourihan had not made any money out of growing cannabis but its potential street value when he was caught two years ago amounted to €82,000.
Hourihan, who now lives in Monkstown, faced the possibility of a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 years because of the quantity of drugs.
However, Judge Patrick J Moran imposed a sentence of five years suspended.
The judge said: “There have been a number of testimonials handed in and they all speak well of you. You set up your own business which unfortunately collapsed in the current economic climate.
“You have managed to get some employment and are now working on a part-time basis.
“The activity you were involved in is a very easy way of making money of the wrong kind. You obviously thought about this and decided to use this farmhouse and adapted it. You did this with considerable intent and that makes the matter particularly serious.
“However, having said that, Garda Glynn tells me you did not make any profit out of it. Once he appeared with his search warrant you would appear to have pulled yourself together and made that the end of your drug road. I don’t think that sending you to prison would be of any benefit to society.”
Garda Glynn obtained a search warrant on foot of confidential information that cannabis was being grown at the remote farmhouse.
“At 2.30pm on May 17, 2011, I entered the house to conduct a search. Eamon Hourihan was present. The house had been transformed for the growth of cannabis. There were 108 mature plants and 100 saplings.”
James O’Mahony, defending, handed in correspondence that he said contained glowing character references for the accused.
“This whole event has devastated this family. He has done everything he possibly can to rehabilitate himself. He is an exceptional person with an exceptional past.”
Detectives have seized drugs with an estimated street value of €400,000.
A man and a woman arrested during the operation in Lucan, west Dublin, are being questioned about the cannabis find.
The haul was uncovered in a raid on a house in the Hillcrest Heights area last night.
The cannabis herb has been sent for forensic analysis.
A man in his late 20s and a woman in her early 20s were arrested at the scene.
They are being detained at Ronanstown and Lucan Garda Stations under the Drug Trafficking Act.
The arrests were made as part of an ongoing investigation into the sale and supply of controlled drugs in Dublin.
The operation was carried out by the Lucan Drugs Unit and Garda National Drugs Unit.
A Garda spokesman said: “Investigations are ongoing.”
GARDAI in the Tuam area of Galway have seized cannabis plants worth an estimated €2.5m.
Two men in their mid 40s and early 50s are being detained in Mill Street Garda station Galway way Garda station(Mill Street) under the provisions of Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996.
This is the second seizure in the last 48 hours, with €1.5 million worth of cannabis herb seized from a business premises in Kells, Co Meath earlier. Two people, a man and a woman, were arrested in that operation.
The seizures were part of the Garda on ongoing investigations into the sale and supply of drugs in the west of Ireland, and under the auspices of Operation Nitrogen targeting cannabis growing operations.
Gardai say the latest seizure in Tuam included 3,000 plants at various stages of growth and that drug growing paraphernalia was seized during the operation.
Raised without religion, they are flummoxed by the practices and customs that accompany a Catholic ritual. Though he himself left the church as a teenager in the 1960s, he’s ambivalent about the loss of a binding and, at times, beautiful religious culture.
“People are rejecting something they don’t even remember,” said O’Doherty, whose 2008 book “Empty Pulpits: Ireland’s Retreat from Religion” chronicled the impact of secularization on Ireland. “We may have only a sterile, secular culture that looks at the Catholic Church as an army of priests raping children.”
As Pope Francis takes over the global church, O’Doherty, like many church-watchers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, ascribe the religion’s current troubles to secularization. In 1946, Pope Paul VI called Ireland “the most Catholic country,” but starting in the mid-1960s, a growing number of the Irish — like many in Western Europe and the United States — began questioning the authority of religious institutions. Today, the percentage of Irish practitioners remains high compared with most of the rest of Europe.
But attendance at weekly Mass continues to decline, also reflecting fallout from two decades of revelations about clergy sexual abuse. William Crawley, a BBC journalist who covers religion in Belfast, agreed that secularization and the sex abuse crisis have dealt a one-two punch to the faithful.
“People are rejecting something they don’t even remember.”
“There’s no stigma in not going to church,” said Crawley, who is an ordained Presbyterian minister. ”In fact there’s a stigma to going. Parents need to explain why they are sending their children to church.”
Although Catholicism is declining in both the north and the south, the situation is different in each country. The south is 84 percent Catholic, while the north is 48 percent. In both places, however, the number of those practicing their faith is significantly lower than those who just check the census box. According to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, in 1984, nearly 90 percent of Irish Catholics went to weekly Mass. In 2011, only 18 percent did. Numbers in the north are harder to come by. Rev. Edward McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Down and Connor, where Belfast is located, said his jurisdiction has no longitudinal surveys on membership or attendance.
That may be why northerners like McGee say the church merely faces challenges, while southerners tend to call the current situation a “crisis.”
“Northern Catholics were a persecuted people, those in the south were more like landed gentry,” said Rev. Gary Toman, Catholic chaplain at Queens University. “There is a very different experience of being [part of the] church in the north. We came through a difficult time during the Troubles and were grounded in the community.”
The Troubles, which started in the 1960s and ended in the “Good Friday” agreement of 1998, was a period of ethnic and religious violence between Protestants and Catholics. According to O’Doherty, years of fighting helped make Catholicism as much an ethnic and political identity as a religious one.
“Leaving your church had the same connotation as leaving your community,” he said.
Another reason for the church’s relative strength in the north may be that neither the northern dioceses nor the local government have thoroughly investigated clergy sexual abuse.
A series of church-based and government investigations in the south revealed widespread abuse of children as well as illicit heterosexual relationships extending over the last quarter of 20th century. Compounding the problem, offending priests had been reassigned by bishops, seeking to cover up or ignore problems.
The revelations were particularly painful for a population that revered priests and saw the church as its social bedrock. In 2010, Pope Benedict apologized to the Irish Church, admitting there had been “serious mistakes.” But victims’ groups felt the statement did not go far enough in accepting responsibility or positing change.
Adding insult to injury, the church may ask parishioners to help pay settlements for abuse victims. The estimated cost of claims is 1.36 billion euros (about $1.75 billion). Since the Catholic Church is a state institution in Ireland, the government is expected to pay part of the bill, but wants religious orders and the dioceses to help.
Still, an ongoing economic slump as well as dwindling numbers of worshippers have made collecting donations difficult. In 2011, a leaked document suggested fining local parishes to help pay costs.
The church, which is the biggest property owner in the south, has been slow to turn over real estate to be sold for compensation. As of last year, a third of the buildings promised in 2002 have yet to be handed over to the state. Some of the buildings may be held in trust and unable to be transferred; others are protected by an indemnity agreement that in 2002 capped the amounts owed by 18 religious orders.
Anger over the handling of the abuse crisis has fueled calls by reformers for a more democratic church. According to Rev. Sean McDonagh, head of the Association for Catholic Priests, the clergy now needs to catch up with laity — the legion of faithful.
“The laity is way ahead of the bishops in terms of the ordination of gays and women,” said McDonagh, referring to two issues that many reformers consider basic. “I’d like to see the church as a communion of equals. The question is: How do we get there?”
Lurking among the corpses are the body snatchers....plotting their next venture into the graveyard....the blood in your veins will run cold, your spine tingle, as you look into the terror of death in tonight's feature....come along with me into the chamber of horrors, for an excursion through.... Horror Incorporated!