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October 24, 2004

News 10/24/04 - IMC Finds Fewer IRA Attacks

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 10/25/04 Commission Finds Fewer IRA Attacks
IT 10/25/04 No Irish Army Involvement Until Iraq 'More Stable'
EX 10/24/04 Sinn Féin 'Eager For Place' In Government
IT 10/25/04 Even The Smokers Get To Jazz It Up In Cork
IT 10/25/04 Council Publishes Plan To Conserve Clonfert Cathedral

RT 10/24/04 North Govt Decision Expected Within Week -VO
RT 10/24/04 10,000 Expected For Dublin Marathon -VO
RT 10/24/04 Belfast Arts Festival -VO

See North Govt Decision Expected Within Week - Tommie Gorman,
Northern Editor, reports on the possibility of resolving
differences between SF and the DUP

See 10,000 Expected For Dublin Marathon - Eileen Whelan reports on
the build-up to tomorrow's Dublin City Marathon

See Belfast Arts Festival - Brendan Wright reports as the festival
gets underway in over 40 venues across Belfast


Commission Finds Fewer IRA Attacks

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The Independent Monitoring Commission's latest report, which is to
be presented to the Irish and British governments later this week,
is likely to cite a reduction in IRA attacks but point to continued
IRA general criminal activity.

It is unlikely however to have any major influence on the current
political negotiations as it will not be able to definitively state
IRA activity is at an end - the requirement the DUP is seeking
before it would contemplate entering into government with Sinn

The IMC's latest report on paramilitary activity is expected to be
released publicly next week after the governments have considered
it, according to well-placed sources.

Based on PSNI statistics, the IMC in this report will be able to
state that IRA "punishment" shootings and beatings have reduced

For instance, up to the end of September last year republicans were
blamed for 52 "punishment" shootings, but to the same date this
year republicans are accused of 22 such shootings.

The figure for republican beatings is less striking, but
nonetheless there is also a reduction in such attacks - 34 to
September last year compared to 27 this year. The statistics have
further impact when compared with loyalist attacks: overall to the
end of September this year there were 135 loyalist "punishment"
shootings and beatings, while republicans carried out 49 such

The IMC report is certain to reflect this reduction in IRA
activity, but its report is likely to be more problematic in terms
of general IRA criminal activity.

The DUP and Ulster Unionists have blamed the IRA for a spate of
major robberies that involved hostage-taking in recent months, and
while the PSNI has refused to be specific in apportioning
responsibility in each case, it said that overall "all"
paramilitaries were involved.

Accordingly, as the IMC's report will be based to a considerable
extent on PSNI information, the report is likely to blame the IRA
for some of these robberies which yielded several million pounds
for the paramilitaries.

However, neither the Irish nor British governments are pinning any
great expectation on this IMC report creating the climate for the
DUP and Sinn Féin to sign off on a deal. Rather, they hope that in
its next paramilitary report in six months' time it will be able to
say that IRA activity has ceased. In the meantime, they hope the
Executive and Assembly will be reactivated.

The Irish and British governments believe that the differences
between the DUP and the pro-Belfast Agreement parties over the
remaining obstacles blocking agreement are narrowing and could yet
be bridged.

But with a deadline for some form of resolution fast approaching,
senior Dublin and London sources said they still could not predict
whether the DUP would go into government with Sinn Féin based on
the existing commitment said to be available from the IRA to
decommission and end activity.

Senior DUP and Sinn Féin figures clashed at the weekend over
decommissioning. The Sinn Féin chairman Mr Mitchel McLaughlin
claimed the DUP was seeking to "humiliate" the IRA.

Sinn Féin wanted the issue of republican arms addressed and equally
it wanted unionist politicians to address the continued existence
and activity of loyalist paramilitary groups, instead of putting
obstacles up to agreement. "Central to the DUP position, I think,
would be a humiliating scenario for republicans that simply isn't
going to happen," Mr McLaughlin told BBC Radio Ulster.

© The Irish Times


No Irish Army Involvement Until Iraq 'More Stable'

Arthur Beesley, Political Reporter

The Government will not consider participation by the Defence
Forces in an EU mission to Iraq until the situation there has
stabilised significantly, the Minister for Defence has said.

Mr O'Dea also said that the "triple lock" approval mechanism would
be retained if the Government decided in principle to allow Irish
troops take part in the EU "battle groups" mooted recently by the
UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan.

The Minister confirmed yesterday that Mr Annan sought Irish
involvement in such groups, and indicated to the Government they
might be deployed in Iraq.

The Green foreign affairs spokesman, Mr John Gormley, said such
participation would be "ill-advised" and would damage Ireland's
international reputation.

While Mr O'Dea stressed in media interviews that the Government had
not yet decided whether the Army should participate in "battle
groups", he said involvement in individual missions would be
assessed on a case-by-case basis. The situation in Iraq would have
to be "much more stabilised than it is now" before the Government
would commit Irish troops.

Government and Oireachtas approval would be required, in addition
to a UN mandate for such a mission or a UN request to the EU to
establish such a force. "The Government will have to decide in a
particular case. The Oireachtas would have sanction it, and the UN
would have to have specifically requested it," he said on Today FM.
"What they want to do is deploy troops quickly. Now the United
Nations will be requesting the EU.

"The EU will be requested to put these 'battle groups' together
with troops drawn from different countries that could be deployed
very quickly," he said.

Mr Gormley said the Greens would vote against sending Irish troops
to Iraq. "No doubt George W. Bush is now looking to the UN to
provide him with a convenient exit strategy from the mess he has
created in Iraq," he said.

© The Irish Times


Sinn Féin 'Eager For Place' In Government

By Fionnán Sheahan, Political Correspondent

SINN FÉIN is keen to become a junior coalition partner in
Government, the party's finance spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
indicated yesterday.

Sinn Féin has abandoned its proposal though to nationalise the
country's biggest banks by buying them out at the taxpayers'

The expression by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern,
that it was only a matter of time before Sinn Féin entered into
Government, has heightened the focus on the party's policies.

Sinn Féin's longest serving TD said that his party remained
committed to doubling Capital Gains Tax to 40%, and up to 60% on
property speculation, and also wanted to increase Corporation Tax
from its present rate of 12.5%.

Sinn Féin also wants to see a new income tax band of 50% introduced
on incomes in excess of €100,000, allied to the removal of minimum
wage earners from the tax net, Deputy Ó Caoláin said.

"We recognise that as a party presenting our particular Programme
for Government that the prospect of Sinn Féin being a single party
Government in the foreseeable future is remote. In any and all of
this, it would be down to negotiation with other parties if we
choose to go into a coalition arrangement," the Cavan-Monaghan TD

Sinn Féin's economic policies would involve an immediate increase
of almost €5 billion per annum in State spending, according to a
recent analysis by the Irish Examiner of the party's policy

Economists say the party's expenditure policies would invariably
necessitate significant increases in tax.

Notwithstanding the policy differences with the main parties,
Deputy Ó Caoláin said on RTÉ's This Week that Sinn Féin is
interested in entering into a coalition Government.

"To give effect to what we would like to see happen, certainly we
will have to find, at some point in time in the future, a place to
make that difference and that can only be found in Government
itself," he said.

Although ruling out wanting to bring the banks or other major
industries into State ownership, Deputy Ó Caoláin said the enormous
profits generated by the banks could unquestionably be better used
for the benefit of the country.

"That is not a firm proposition we are putting forward and it won't
be a part of our general election manifesto," he said.

Yet before the last general election, Deputy Ó Caoláin told the
Irish Examiner that nationalising the big banks would be an item on
his agenda.

Outlining the policies he would implement if he became Minister for
Finance, just ahead of Budget 2002, he said he would nationalise
the big banks. Economists analysing the party's economic proposals
at the time said the cost of the move would probably double the
national debt.


Even The Smokers Get To Jazz It Up In Cork

Olivia Kelleher

Jazz is traditionally heard in dark, smoke-filled rooms but this
year's festival in Cork was a bit different - the introduction of
the smoking ban meant the jazz was played in smoke-free pubs and

Organisers say the festival weekend went off without a hitch and
even "hardened smokers" complied with the no-smoking regulations.

The third-largest jazz festival in Europe delivered a €21 million
windfall to the Cork economy as more than 40,000 revellers flocked
to the city.

The festival got off to a flying start on Friday at the Everyman
Palace theatre with a double bill featuring US jazz and blues
greats Jimmy Smith and

his band and Masters of the Groove.

Other acts which impressed the crowds included the Mingus Big band,
the Terence Blanchard Sextet, the Cannonball Adderley Legacy band
and the Richard Galliano Trio.

Fourteen stages, 120 bands and more than 1,000 musicians from 26
countries featured in the four- day festival which ends today.

More than 70 pubs and clubs offered rhythm and blues and roots
music throughout the weekend.

Fringe events included a jazz-themed weekend at the Triskel Arts
Centre and the Kino art-house cinema.

Next year promises to be the biggest jazz festival to date as
organisers plan to increase events to coincide with Cork's year as
European Capital of Culture.

The Cork Jazz Festival first took place in 1978.

Jazz buff Pearse Harvey suggested the idea of the festival to Ray
Fitzgerald and Jim Mountjoy who was marketing manager of the
Metropole Hotel at the time. Players Wills sponsored the event to
the tune of £5,000.

The festival has hosted many of the jazz greats including Ella
Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and
Buddy Rich.

© The Irish Times


Heritage Council Publishes Plan To Conserve Clonfert Cathedral

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

A conservation programme for the 1,000-year-old Clonfert
Cathedral in Co Galway aims to develop it as a place for study and

The programme, which has been published by the Heritage Council,
focuses on conserving the cathedral's world famous Romanesque

However, it also provides policies for conserving other elements of
the complex, which was founded originally as a monastery in 560AD
by St Brendan and was rebuilt in 1167 after it was burned by the

The cathedral building is regarded as being of exceptional
significance, with architectural elements dating from the 12th and
early 13th centuries.

The Heritage Council has been spending about €40,000 annually on
works at the building since 2002, with assistance from the World
Monuments Fund and Galway County Council.

It was in 1579 that Queen Elizabeth I wrote to the Bishop of
Clonfert and proposed erecting a university there for "instruction
and education of youth in learning" as it was "neere (sic) to the
middle of the realme whereby all men may with small travel send
their children thither". Subsequently, however, Dublin won out with
the decision to construct Trinity College.

Ms Mary Hanna, architect with the Heritage Council, said that the
long-term aim of the project was to develop a place of study, which
reflected the "spirit of the cathedral during the middle ages".

Apart from the famous doorway, on which work has continued for
several years, the building's windows have been taken out and
restored. The cathedral also houses five species of bat and has
been home for barn owls and other fauna.

The report stresses that its setting on the Shannon banks and
within the larger landscape of bog and callows is very important,
and points out that the complex was one of a group of early
ecclesiastical settlements dating from a time when water transport
was more significant than now.

© The Irish Times

--- News

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