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October 29, 2004

News 10/28/04 - Murphy Says Talks Must Conclude

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 10/28/04 Murphy Says Stormont Talks Must Conclude
IT 10/28/04 Nationalists Wary Of Murphy Plan To Meet UDA Leaders
UT 10/27/04 Support Grows For Anti-Racism Rally
IT 10/28/04 Pigs Heads Cute - ISPCA Deplores Disgusting Joke
IT 10/28/04 Three-Foot Floods Hit Streets In Cork City Centre –V
IT 10/28/04 Bad Timing Of Storm Caused Flooding

RT 10/27/04 Margaret Hassan Appears In New Video -VO
RT 10/27/04 EU Commission Vote Postponed -VO

Margaret Hassan Appears In New Video - Laura Fletcher reports as
the hostage issues a fresh appeal for Britain to pull troops out of

EU Commission Vote Postponed - Seán Whelan, Europe Editor, reports
on the crisis over the nomination of Italian Rocco Buttiglione to
the EU Commission


Murphy Says Stormont Talks Must Conclude

Frank Millar, London Editor

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mr Paul Murphy, has said it is
"very important" that talks on restoring power-sharing devolution
to Stormont should now "reach a conclusion" although it remains
unclear what he and the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair,
intend and think should happen if they do not.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Murphy remained
confident that the parties central to the negotiation have "the
will" to resolve the outstanding issues and reach agreement.

However, speculation about the British government's intentions was
building afresh last night as senior Sinn Féin and Democratic
Unionist Party sources played down suggestions that the restoration
of devolved government is likely ahead of the British general
election expected next summer.

Downing Street again refused to be drawn on rumoured plans to bring
the negotiation to an end within "the next few weeks", or on
earlier reports that Mr Blair was prepared to define the terms of
the deal required by the British and Irish governments, and put it
to the test of a vote on the floor of the Northern Ireland

Mr Murphy and the North's Security Minister, Mr Ian Pearson, came
under sustained Conservative pressure in the Commons to confirm
that any further IRA decommissioning would need to be "visible" and
completed within "a finite timetable".

The opposition spokesman, Mr David Lidington, asked Mr Pearson:
"Will you confirm and put beyond any doubt, on the record, that
decommissioning, in order to ensure the enduring peace we all want,
must be visible and that it must be conducted according to a clear
and finite timetable?"

Although he agreed that "decommissioning is a vital part of the
Good Friday agreement", Mr Pearson sidestepped Mr Lidington's
invitation to endorse the demand of both the DUP and Ulster
Unionists for "visible" verification of a future decommissioning

"Transparency is required as part of that process," he said in
response. "And we do also want to see a definite timescale. He's
absolutely right about that."

Pressed by Conservative MP Mr Micha el Mates to define "the
government's minimum requirements for visibility in the process",
Mr Murphy insisted that details could not be divulged while talks
were ongoing.

The Secretary of State added: "What I think is right to say to him
is that, unless there is sufficient transparency to induce
confidence amongst people in Northern Ireland, whether they be
unionist or nationalist, then frankly we won't progress."

The SDLP's Mr Eddie McGrady also reminded Mr Pearson of the demand
in last year's British/Irish Joint Declaration for an end to all
paramilitary activity across the board.

"Does government intend to apply that to parties involved in the
process of decommissioning, and on peace, in view of the fact that
paramilitaries associated with political parties, with whom he is
in dialogue, are increasingly involved in drugs, extortion and
protection rackets? Or has the government simply changed its mind?"

In response, Mr Pearson said: "We're very clear, as a government,
that what we want to see is an end to all paramilitary activity."
He countered Ulster Unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon's claimed "deficit
of confidence" amongst unionists in Gen John de Chastelain's
suitability to verify any further IRA decommissioning. He insisted
the British government had "total confidence" in his integrity and
abilities. Mr Pearson also told the SDLP's Mr Séamus Mallon he
would "consider very seriously" his suggestion that the Police
Oversight Commissioner's term in office should be extended.

Meanwhile, former SDLP leader Mr John Hume reminded Mr Murphy that
the Belfast Agreement had been endorsed by the people of Northern
Ireland and the Republic. He insisted it was "the duty of every
democrat" to see the agreement fully implemented, and warned it
would be "totally undemocratic for any renegotiation of that
agreement to take place".

Mr Murphy agreed that "the principles underlying the agreement"
could not be altered while stressing that the agreed review
mechanism gave the governments and parties the opportunity to
examine how the agreement could "work better".

© The Irish Times


Nationalists Wary Of Murphy Plan To Meet UDA Leaders

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Nationalist politicians have delivered a guarded welcome to the
Northern Secretary's decision to meet loyalist representatives next
week, including leading figures in the outlawed UDA.

Mr Paul Murphy meets Mr David Ervine and other members of the
Progressive Unionist Party, which is linked to the UVF, but more
controversially he will also meet early next week the Ulster
Political Research Group (UPRG), which includes members of the UDA.

While the UDA is designated as off ceasefire it is understood that
some of its so-called brigadiers from Belfast and Derry will be
part of the UPRG delegation, which supplies political analysis to
the UDA leadership. Mr Murphy and former Northern Secretary Dr John
Reid have in the past met loyalist representatives that included
senior UDA figures.

Mr Murphy said in the House of Commons yesterday that he was
prepared to explore with loyalist representatives the opportunities
for advancing the peace process. Equally, he said all loyalist
paramilitary actions and criminality must be condemned.

A senior British source added that Mr Murphy was willing to test
the bona fides of the loyalist groupings and to assess whether they
were prepared to be part of a possible comprehensive deal that
would see loyalist as well as IRA decommissioning and an end to
active paramilitarism.

"Those who want to go down the political road will be supported.
Those who don't will face the force of the law," he added.

Earlier this month on the 10th anniversary of the loyalist
ceasefire, PUP and UPRG representatives said loyalism must be
assisted by the British government to fully embrace the peace
process. It is understood there was behind-the-scenes activity
towards that end recently involving British officials and

The meetings take place as the latest Independent Monitoring
Commission's report on paramilitary activity is about to be
released to the public. The report - likely to cite a reduction in
IRA activity but state that "all" paramilitaries including the IRA
and the loyalists are still engaged in paramilitarism and general
criminality - will be presented to the Irish and British
governments today. It is due to be published by the governments
towards the middle of next week.

SDLP policing spokesman Mr Alex Attwood said that Mr Murphy
engaging with the UDA when it was not on ceasefire and given its
criminal and sectarian activities may not "add up" for some people.
But there were "times when political risks and risks for peace are

"In doing so, there must be a single strong message to the UDA:
'Either you close down your criminal, paramilitary and sectarian
activities or you will be closed down by the full resources of the
state and the law'. This is the basis on which to proceed. The
message should be tough and simple," added Mr Attwood.

Sinn Féin chairman Mr Mitchel McLaughlin described the meetings as
a positive move that could prove beneficial for the peace process.

"I think the dialogue has to begin and I welcome it on that basis
and make it clear that I would foresee some value in these
groupings talking to ourselves and talking to other political
parties," he told the BBC.

© The Irish Times


Support Grows For Anti-Racism Rally

Support for a public demonstration against increasing racism in
Northern Ireland is growing, it was confirmed today.

By:Press Association

Parties across the political spectrum, trade unions, community
groups and minority ethnic organisations have all thrown their
weight behind a Halloween carnival-style rally in Belfast organised
by the Anti-Racism Network.

The momentum grew the day after MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs
Committee investigating race hate, heard in Belfast that far right
groups were taking advantage of paramilitary intimidation of
minorities to gain a foothold in Northern Ireland.

Stephen Alexander of the ARN said it was encouraging so many people
had come out to support the rally on Saturday. "Racist attacks have
appalled people right across Northern Ireland, and their support
for this rally will clearly demonstrate that racism is something we
don`t want here."

The theme for the rally was `No Excuses`, he said, because people
were fed up hearing lame justifications for racist behaviour.

"Myths about `immigrants taking our jobs` or being `a threat to
local culture` are exactly that - stories with no basis in
reality," he said.

There was a racist crime reported almost every day in Belfast and
new police figures made "very worrying reading", he added.

"Sadly, it`s not uncommon for some people to unfairly blame ethnic
minorities for deprivation in their area. It is wrong to scapegoat
ethnic minorities for the failures in our society that existed long
before their arrival," Mr Alexander said.

People are being asked to join the rally to celebrate that Belfast
is changing for the better.

Mr Alexander said he welcomed the support from every organisation
backing the rally. The fact that there was support from right
across the political spectrum showed how united the community was
against racism, he said.

"We now have a more diverse society than ever before, and hopefully
the Halloween carnival will show how people from different
backgrounds can come together as a united community against
racism," he added.

Figures released to the Belfast District Policing Partnership on
Monday night showed there were nearly 130 racial or homophobic
attacks reported to the police between April and September.

South Belfast was the worst area with 61 racist and nine homophobic
incidents. It was followed by North Belfast where there were 29
racists and five homophobic incidents.

In East Belfast there were 20 incidents combined and in West
Belfast four homophobic and one racial incident.

Alliance East Belfast Assembly member Naomi Long said things were
"pretty grim".

"These figures illustrate a catalogue of abuse, with an incident of
racial or homophobic abuse every weekday clearly hate crimes are a
city-wide problem and not isolated.

"There were 129 incidents in 183 days almost 22 per month or just
over five per week. This is extremely concerning," she said.

Announcing she would be at the rally on Saturday, Ms Long urged
people to support it. "The public cannot afford to sit back
passively and watch as these attacks continue to grow in number and
severity. It is time to speak out."


Pigs' Heads May Be 'Cute' But ISPCA Deplores Stunt In Waterford As
A Disgusting Joke

Ciarán Murphy

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has
described the actions of a theatre company and a PR firm as
"disgusting and disgraceful" following the placement of more than
20 pigs' heads around Waterford City.

Criticising Red Kettle Theatre company and Slipstream Public
Relations, Mr Andrew Quinn, inspector with the society's Waterford
branch said: "This is a sick joke and we aren't too pleased at all
that animals are being used for this... It's sick that they would
resort to that level to get publicity for themselves."

Ms Noleen Dooley of Slipstream confirmed that her company had
undertaken the campaign for Red Kettle to promote its production of
Lord Of The Flies.

"The actions were appropriate because the central image of the play
is a pig," said Ms Dooley. "These pigs were slaughtered humanely.
If you look closely, they're actually cute."

She hoped "the publicity served to highlight the work that the
ISPCA does".

There was no comment directly from Red Kettle yesterday. Slipstream
responded for both companies.

Administration officer for the planning and environment department
in Waterford City Council, Mrs Mary Breen, said its main concern
was to get the heads cleaned up as soon as possible.

She said the parties involved would be responsible for removing
them under the supervision of a health board veterinarian.

Principal environmental officer with the South Eastern Health
Board, Mr Ray Parle, said the remains would be disposed of under
the amended Public Health (Ireland) Act 1878.

A service of notice would not be issued under the Animal By-
Products Regulations in the case, as the companies were complying
with the city council's requests, he added.

The eight sites chosen for the pigs' heads were the Waterford
Bridge; the Folly; Tramore Road; Dunmore Road; Cork Road;
Williamstown, Hillview and Ursuline Crescent.

© The Irish Times


See Jennie O'Sullivan reports on the worst flooding in 40 years in
Cork City

Damien Tiernan, South-East Correspondent, reports on extensive
flooding in Waterford

Annette O'Donnell reports as Dublin braces itself for the worst of
the storm

Three-Foot Floods Hit Streets In Cork City Centre -V

Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent

Business people in Cork city centre are facing a multi-million
euro bill for damage, after severe flooding submerged parts of the
city centre under several feet of water and trapped motorists.

Over an inch of rain fell in a 12-hour period up to 5.30 p.m.
Combined with high tides and easterly winds, this resulted in up to
three feet of flooding in much of the city centre - particularly
streets flanking both the north and south channels of the Lee.

The Fire Brigade received dozens of calls from stranded motorists
around the city, especially on the Lower Glanmire Road where
several cars started floating as the high tides spilled over the
quay walls. Motorists around Morrison's Island and Clontarf St were
also badly affected.

Among the areas under as much as three feet of water were the newly
refurbished Patrick Street, Cornmarket Street (where the Bridewell
Garda Station was cut off), South Mall, South Terrace, Father
Matthew Street, Union Quay, and Oliver Plunkett Street.

Mr James O'Sullivan of the Cork Business Association said that
although Met Éireann and Cork City Council had given good warning,
the floods were so severe in the city centre that the damage bill
for business people could run into several million euro.

Floodwaters in Cork city centre began to recede from about 8.30pm
though most city centre shopkeepers and business people were
bracing themselves for a repeat when another high tide was due at
5.30 this morning.

Gardaí in Carrigaline were reporting up to a foot-and-a-half of
water in the main street, while the Crosshaven Road was impassable
with flood waters two-feet deep. Several motorists had to be
rescued by the fire brigade after getting trapped in their cars.

Coastal towns in Cork also took a battering with the sea flowing
onto Seafield in Bantry and Catherine Street in Youghal. Several
streets and roads in Clonakilty were also flooded, as was the
centre of Kinsale. Cobh and Great Island were cut off for over an
hour due to flooding on Belvelly Bridge - both train and cross-
river ferry services were cancelled.

In Dungarvan in Co Waterford, heavy rains and high seas resulted in
flooding on Davitt's Quay where pubs and other premises were
covered with almost two feet of water.

The road to Clonea was closed due to over three feet of water.

Gardaí in Waterford city were last night reporting severe flooding
in the city centre with a high tide and heavy rain causing the
River Suir to flood the quays and many of the surrounding streets
while other areas such as Poleberry and the Waterside were also

The flooding which also hit William Street, Railway Square and Park
Road resulted in many motorists being trapped in their cars and
having to be rescued by the emergency services.

© The Irish Times


Bad Timing Of Storm Caused Flooding

Brendan McWilliams

Yesterday's storm approached Ireland as a deep depression from
the south, skirting past Portugal a few days ago as it moved
northwards towards the Cork and Kerry coastline.

It was exceptionally deep by any standards. The central pressure
seems to have been in the region of 950 hectopascals, and when you
consider that the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in
Ireland was 925 hPa - and that well over 100 years ago - it
indicates a very active little storm indeed.

It follows in a proud tradition of October storms. October is not,
in general, the stormiest month of the year in Ireland - December
and January, on average, are worse - but there have been many
memorable ones. Readers of "Weather Eye" in The Irish Times a few
days ago will recall that it was the havoc and the extensive loss
of life caused by a severe storm in late October 1859 that resulted
in the routine production of gale warnings and shipping forecasts
for the first time on these islands. And who will forget the famous
October Storm of 1987? That was the one which laid waste the entire
south of England, and brought the wrath of an angry nation down on
the head of poor Michael Fish, who had assured everyone the night
before in his television weather forecast that no hurricane was on
the way.

So, severe as it was, there was nothing apocalyptic about
yesterday's event, and it must also be said that on this occasion
the entire weather sequence seems to have been predicted very
accurately, and several days in advance.

When the clearing up is done, flooding rather than exceptional
winds may prove to have done the more damage, and in this context
the timing of the storm has been unfortunate.

Firstly, it has arrived after a very wet period, with many parts of
the country, notably the southeast, having already experienced
between 25 and 50 per cent more than their usual October rainfall.
The extra 50 to 80mm of rain produced by the storm - this in itself
approaching the normal rainfall for a full month - have been
deposited on an already sodden landscape; it is not too surprising
that the country's drainage systems and waterways have found it
hard to cope.

And secondly, there was a full moon yesterday.

High tides are at their highest at full moon, when the Sun and
Moon, on opposite sides of the Earth, work together to produce very
high waters - the so called "spring tides". When spring tides
coincide with rough seas, and very strong on-shore winds pile the
waters high against the coastline and impede the outflow from the
rivers, coastal flooding is a frequent consequence.

Many urban districts in the south and east of Ireland suffer
problems of this kind from time to time, as at present, whenever
all these factors coincide.

And another unfortunate feature of this particular storm is its

Normally when a storm approaches Ireland, it moves rapidly
northeastwards close to, or across, the country; it may be bad, but
the worst of the weather lasts for a mere 12 hours or thereabouts.
In this case, however, the depression stalled, and at the time of
writing seems set to live out its life wobbling adjacent to our
southern coast.

© The Irish Times

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