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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
November 04, 2004
News 11/03/04 - Finucane Issue on Agenda
News about Ireland & the Irish
UT 11/03/04 Finucane Issue On Agenda
BT 11/03/04 Blair Takes Risk On Collusion Probe Rules
IO 11/03/04 2nd Barron Report May Be Published Within Four Weeks
UT 11/03/04 Adams Heads To US
UT 11/03/04 Sinn Fein At Auschwitz
UT 11/03/04 Loyalists Told To Scrap Arsenal
NL 11/03/04 Stormont Summit Dubbed 'Positive'
NL 11/03/04 No Amount Of Spin Will Break Spirit Of Unity
BT 11/03/04 Price Of Peace: Did Trimble Do Enough To Save The RUC?
BT 11/03/04 Eames Reveals Drumcree Death Threat
SF 11/03/04 Shannon Airport Must Be Demilitarised
PT 11/02/04 O'Connor Controversy Takes Bizarre Twists - VO
See O'Connor controversy takes bizarre twists - Catherine McCourt,
veterinary surgeon, and Avril Doyle, President of the Equestrian
Federation of Ireland, discuss the latest developments in the Cian
O'Connor horse-doping controversy
Finucane Issue On Agenda
MPs will be urged in Westminster today to oppose legislation
affecting an inquiry into the controversial murder of Belfast
solicitor Pat Finucane.
Nationalist SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood is due to meet MPs
from all parties at Westminster as part of a series of briefings
about government plans for an inquiry into the 1989 murder.
After a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday, the
family of Pat Finucane threatened to boycott an inquiry into
allegations that members of British army intelligence and the Royal
Ulster Constabulary colluded with loyalist paramilitary in his
Mr Finucane`s widow, Geraldine and son Michael, have been pressing
for an independent public inquiry.
However, Mr Blair was only able to say that the inquiry would be as
open as possible, with some evidence possibly being taken behind
closed doors in the interest of national security.
Pat Finucane was gunned down in front of his family in North
Belfast in February 1989 by the Ulster freedom fighters.
In September loyalist, Ken Barrett, 41, received life imprisonment
after he admitted having a role in the murder.
He is expected to be released early under the terms of the Good
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens has already
concluded in his investigation into the killing that Mr Finucane
was a victim of collusion between rogue members of the security
services and loyalists.
Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory has also recommended an inquiry
following a probe into the case.
Following the conviction of Barrett, the Government announced an
inquiry would take place but said new legislation was required to
enable the tribunal to deal with sensitive issues of national
The Finucane family have raised concerns about whether the
legislation is necessary.
After their meeting with Mr Blair, Michael Finucane said that while
the Prime Minister was sympathetic, he had not allayed their
"Ultimately the inquiry is not satisfactory, even after all the
hard work he has had to put in, then we may have to withdraw and
may have to refuse to co-operate," he warned.
"I think that would be an extremely unfortunate decision to have to
make and very much hope that we do not have to take that decision.
"But we had to leave the Prime Minister in no doubt that if we are
put to the sword we will walk away."
The SDLPs Alex Attwood claimed ahead of today`s meeting the
Government was trying to muzzle the truth through the legislation.
The West Belfast MLA said: "The Government proposal to bring
forward new legislation on inquiries is not just worrying for the
Finucane case but for all cases.
"In fact it is about ending public inquiries as we know them.
"Had these powers been in place, we would probably never have seen
all the Downing Street correspondence on Iraq in the Hutton
"This attempt by the British Government to muzzle the truth shows
New Labour`s control freakery at its worst."
Mr Attwood described the legislation as a Stalinist measure, aimed
at suppressing the truth.
He continued: "It is wide open to abuse and will allow Governments
to cover up issues which are not about real national security, just
to avoid public embarrassment.
"We hope that MPs from all parties will act to stop this new
Blair Takes Risk On Collusion Probe Rules
By Brian Walker, London Editor
03 November 2004
By meeting the Finucane family in Downing Street before new
legislation is published allowing hearings in the Pat Finucane
inquiry to be held in private, Tony Blair took a considerable
political risk with an important element of the peace process.
He was increasing the family's influence in deciding whether the
next multi-million pound inquiry will be publicly acceptable.
Yet there was no hint from Downing Street of any weakening of the
resolve to hold many of the hearings in private "on national
In turn, Mr Blair failed to persuade Geraldine Finucane, her lawyer
son Michael and other family members who spent an hour with him in
No 10 yesterday, to soften their demand for a "full public
international inquiry, or that fails to emerge, to "walk away".
Yet legislation in the Queen's Speech in a fortnight's time will
contain no provision for an international judge, nor will the main
body of the inquiry be held in public.
The Government's case is that public hearings on some of the
murkiest episodes of the Special Branch, MI5 and Army intelligence
past, would produce such an avalanche of official gags on witnesses
- called public interest immunity certificates - as to render the
inquiry virtually toothless.
By holding hearings in camera but with full powers of interrogation
and under amnesty, the inquiry will "get at the truth," say
To a host of critics, this inevitably smacks of cover- up. Only a
convincing final inquiry report can prove them wrong.
On one point at least, the Finucanes agree with the Government. "We
will find out the truth even if it takes a long time," said Mrs
The family's next stage will be to develop their case for public
hearings in writing. They have, they claim, the backing of Bertie
Ahern for a full public inquiry though it's hard to imagine the
Taoiseach pressing the issue too far. He too has a security
establishment to protect.
The Finucane campaign continues, with the family profile higher
So why did the Prime Minister meet them? The answer was the same as
for invading Iraq: "Because he thought it was the right thing to
It remains to be seen if the impact on public opinion will be any
Second Barron Report May Be Published Within Four Weeks
03/11/2004 - 13:34:52
The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has told the Dáil that hopes the second
report from the Barron Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan
bombings will be published within the next four weeks.
Mr Ahern said he received the report in July, but its publication
was delayed because the Government needed time to study it, was
seeking clarification on an undisclosed matter and because "the
legislation to allow for the commission" was not completed.
Thirty-three people died when loyalist paramilitaries detonated
three car bombs in Dublin and one in Monaghan town on May 17th,
The death toll was the highest of any single day during the
Troubles, but nobody has ever been brought to justice in connection
with the incident.
There are also allegations that the British security services
colluded with the loyalists behind the attacks.
Adams Heads To US
The Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams will head for the United States
today as efforts continue to restore Northern Ireland power-sharing
The West Belfast MP is flying to New York for a series of fund-
raising events for his party and meeting with key Irish American
figures and politicians in a bid to keep them up to speed on
developments in the political process.
Mr Adams will be in the United States for a week and has arranged
talks with US president George Bush`s special envoy on Northern
Ireland issues Ambassador Mitchell Reiss.
Among the cities he will visit will be Philadelphia, Chicago, San
Francisco and Washing DC.
A Sinn Fein source said visits would enable the party to touch base
with Democrats and Republicans following the US presidential and
"We will be informing people on where we are at in the current
negotiations," a source said.
"We will also be giving them a sense of where the current
Efforts to revive Northern Ireland Assembly and power sharing
executive have stumbled despite claims by Prime Minister Tony Blair
that the IRA is prepared to undertake ground making moves on
disarmament and its own future.
The Rev Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionists have been at loggerheads
with Sinn Fein and the nationalist SDLP over changes it wants to
future power sharing arrangements.
Nationalists have accused the DUP of trying to secure a veto over
the work of other parties` ministers in a future Stormont
The DUP, however, insists that it only wants power sharing
ministers from all parties to be made more accountable to their
cabinet colleagues and to the Assembly.
The SDLP and Sinn Fein have also hit out at DUP attempts in the
negotiations to secure the separate election of First and Deputy
First Ministers in the Assembly and have accused the party of
trying to dilute and limit cross-border co-operation between
Stormont ministers and their Irish government counterparts.
Democratic Unionist MEP Jim Allister last night insisted his
party`s demands were not unreasonable and that they were speaking a
lasting settlement which rectified fatal flaws in the Good Friday
"Devolution which does not meet these tests is not worth having,"
Mr Allister said.
"If all are to be equal before and within the Assembly, then all
must be equally subject to the Assembly."
He added: "This is a two-way process.
"For unionists to accept republicans into government is a big task
in any circumstances but it can only happen on terms which
transparently remove the illegal arsenals and give the people
through their elected Assembly unfettered control."
Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern told the Irish parliament
yesterday the government were giving Northern Ireland parties 20
days to reach agreement.
However, he also expressed concern that some parties were trying to
drag negotiations out in the hope that a deal could only be struck
on the other side of the next Westminster election.
"I hope it is not the intention of any party to play this along
tactically and play it out the other side of the British
elections," he said.
"We have 20 days, otherwise it will drift out and long. If we go
past November 26, the two governments will have to consider the
best way of progressing."
Sinn Fein At Auschwitz
Leading Sinn Fein members Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly will
remember victims of the Nazi Holocaust during a visit to the
Auschwitz concentration camp today.
Mr McGuinness, MP for Mid-Ulster, and Mr Kelly, who represents
North Belfast in the Stormont Assembly, have been invited to visit
the camp by members of Northern Ireland`s Jewish community.
But as they flew out, a nationalist rival urged republicans to
provide information about the murder during the troubles of a
prominent member of Belfast`s Jewish community, Leonard Kaitcer.
SDLP Assembly member Alban Maginness welcomed the visit by Sinn
Fein to Auschwitz, and Birkenau and Krakow concentration camps,
which were established by the Nazis in Poland during the Second
But the North Belfast MLA added: "Now is an opportune moment for
people to provide whatever information they have, if any, about the
circumstances of the death of a prominent member of the Jewish
community, Leonard Kaitcer, who in February 1980 was abducted from
his home in south Belfast and later found shot in west Belfast.
"The circumstances of the murder are unknown and it has been
attributed by authoritative commentaries such as (the book) Lost
Lives to republicans.
"I have been told Mr Kaitcer`s killing was a significant factor in
the decline of Belfast`s once thriving Jewish community, which
contributed so much to this city, including a distinguished Lord
Mayor, Sir Otto Jaffe.
"Mr Kaitcer`s death is one of the 1,800 plus unsolved killings in
our community since 1969 and it is incumbent on all to put whatever
information they have in the public domain.
"A clear statement by any, or all, of the armed groups who
contributed to the killings in our society on death such as Mr
Kaitcer`s would be beneficial."
Mr McGuinness said his visit to Poland today followed an invitation
made to local politicians during Holocaust Memorial Day.
The Sinn Fein MP said: "Last year some local members of the Jewish
community who had been involved in the organisation of the
Holocaust Memorial Day invited a number of local politicians to
participate in a trip to the site of the Auschwitz concentration
"Both Gerry Kelly and myself have accepted the invitation and are
travelling to Auschwitz for a day-long series of events in
Auschwitz, Birkenau and Krakow."
Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the war and
Adolf Hitler`s reign of terror in Germany and the rest of Europe.
The Nazis sent Jews to concentration camps as part of what they
called the "final solution".
Millions of Slavs were also butchered and about 200,000 Gypsies
Thousands of other people were also sterilised, including Germans
of African descent.
Auschwitz was originally a camp for Polish prisoners but was
expanded in 1941 with the addition of Birkenau as the Nazis carried
out their programme of genocide.
The concentration camp held Jews, Polish PoWs, Russians, Slavs and
Many died of starvation but it was the addition of gas chambers at
Birkenau in 1942 which led to the mass transportation of Jews from
other parts of Europe.
Crematoriums were also built, handling as many as 2,000 Jewish
people each day.
It is estimated about 900,000 Jews, who were not registered as
prisoners, were gassed at Birkenau.
The total death toll at Auschwitz was estimated at 1.1 million
people, with one million of the victims Jewish.
Loyalists Told To Scrap Arsenal
The British Government have told loyalist paramilitaries that they
have to get rid of their weapons - the same demand being made of
Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy spent over three hours in
discussion with loyalist leaders last night, some of them members
of the Ulster Defence Association, in Belfast.
After the talks at Stormont, Mr Murphy described the meeting as
He said the face to face talks - and those with the Progressive
Unionist Party yesterday - had involved a serious discussion on a
wide range of issues of concern to the loyalist community and of
the process by which they could be addressed.
Mr Murphy said: "It was also made clear that paramilitary activity
had to end and that the issue of decommissioning must be dealt
An agreement was made to retain contact and continue dialogue, said
Stormont Summit Dubbed 'Positive'
By Simon Hunter
Wednesday 3rd November 2004
Members of the loyalist delegation who met the Secretary of State
for more than three hours yesterday feel it was "one of the most
important meetings" ever.
Paul Murphy welcomed the Ulster Political Research Group to
Stormont and both parties left happy with the progress made during
However, the UPRG denied some media reports that said they were
ordered to decommission, like the IRA.
Frank McCoubrey is a member of the UPRG delegation and admitted
that decommissioning was one of many topics at the meeting.
"Decommissioning was talked about. We know that was on item on the
"There will be further meetings on that issue in greater depth,"
said Mr McCoubrey.
The UPRG give political analysis to the Ulster Defence Association
and three of the organisation's leaders, Andre Shoukri and Jackie
McDonald from Belfast and Billy McFarlane from Londonderry,
attended the meeting.
Mr McCoubrey felt it was one of the most important meetings UDA men
of this level have attended.
"It was a positive meeting and everything is on the table.
"In the future meetings we can hopefully get results.
"I think it was one of the most important meetings that the UDA and
its leadership have been in for a very long time."
Mr McCoubrey was keen to point out that the Secretary of State did
not suggest immediate decommissioning and that the delegation
explained to him exactly why this could not happen.
"There was no telling us we were going to have to get rid of our
"Throughout the whole of Northern Ireland you are talking about
around 10,000 UDA men who would have to be consulted.
"You can't expect the UDA to do that in a couple of weeks.
"The problem we would have with decommissioning is the threat on
members of the loyalist community."
On Monday, Mr Murphy met a delegation from the PUP, which has links
to the paramilitary UVF.
Last week, the Independent Monitoring Commission handed over its
latest report on continuing republican and loyalist paramilitary
activity to the British and Republic governments.
No Amount Of Spin Will Break Spirit Of Unity
By Billy Kennedy
Wednesday 3rd November 2004
DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson has dismissed suggestions that the
party is divided in its attitude to the talks process as republican
Mr Robinson said attempts to spin and create the impression that
the DUP is divided into various wings are not new.
"As in the past such tactics are designed to pressurise and force
us into curbing our requirements and accepting something which is
"We will not be pressurised, influenced or bullied by such tactics.
"The party is united and resolute in its determination to ensure
that any agreement reached is a lasting settlement which will
guarantee stability and certainty.
"Our only guiding principle in deciding whether any agreement is
acceptable to us will be whether the outcome meets the commitments
set out in our election manifesto and policy documents.
"At every stage of this process we have been clear about what we
require and how we will assess the outcome.
"There is only one camp in the DUP - the camp that wants a "fair
deal". "That was our election pledge and we are all on message and
will not be side-tracked." "Attempts to brief against us and
obstruct us in the task of repairing the damage of the David
Trimble years will not deflect us from ensuring that the
representatives of armed and active terrorism are never again able
to enter government in Northern Ireland."
Mr Robinson said his party will not be shaken from the firm view
that there must be complete, verifiable and transparent
"To gain public confidence it is vital it has a visual aspect.
"Nor will we dilute the essential need to have a complete end to
all IRA activity, whether terrorist or criminal.
"The day of spin and slight of hand is over. "The whole community
wants paramilitarism to be consigned to history.
"Those who regale us for not accepting a half-baked deal serve only
to offer succour and support to reluctant and hesitant republicans
who drag their heels on doing what is needed in a convincing and
"I can understand the frustration of those accustomed to dealing
with the pushover variety of unionists found in the UUP now having
to deal with firm and determined unionists bound by conviction and
resolved to ensure any deal done is capable of lasting and gaining
support across the community." "The impatient among us may not
thank us now but if a comprehensive settlement with a stable,
accountable, effective and efficient structure is the outcome
future generations will applaud our efforts and despise the memory
of those who wanted us to cut and run and sign up to a deficient
deal quickly cobbled together to satisfy the clock. "No amount of
spinning by our opponents will alter our position nor break the
spirit of unity that exists throughout our ranks," said Mr
From Price Of Peace: Did Trimble Do Enough To Save The RUC?
Of all the mysteries of the Trimble leadership, writes Frank Millar
in The Price of Peace, arguably the greatest still surrounds his,
and his party's approach to the appointment of the Patten
Commission to reform the Royal Ulster Constabulary. In today's
extract Millar poses questions about that approach. Should Trimble
have resigned over Patten? Could he have done more to save the RUC?
Millar begins by quizzing the Unionist leader about the man Trimble
refers to as "our" man on the Patten Commission
03 November 2004
Who was "his" man on the Commission, I ask, knowing that we are
heading into highly disputed territory?
"A certain Mr Peter Smith, formerly an honorary secretary of the
Ulster Unionist Council".
I put it back to Trimble that Smith has always been absolutely
clear that he never understood or regarded himself as the UUP's
nominee and would not have accepted his appointment on that basis.
Trimble is insistent: "But he was. The truth of the matter is, we
were asked to nominate someone".
Formally, as a party?
"Yeah, the British Government asked us for a name. Now it was not
part and parcel of . . . you do not find it saying in the Agreement
that the Commission will consist of the following nominees".
So Trimble mentioned Smith thinking that he was a unionist and
likely to be solid from their point of view? "Well I said to Ken
Maginnis, 'I've been asked for a name, who would be a good person?'
and Ken came back and said, 'P D Smith Esquire would be a good man'
"And I knew Peter, I'd known him for a long time, knew of his
somewhat liberal disposition. But he was also someone who had been
involved in unionist politics way back and more recently in
association with Robert McCartney.
"The name seemed not inappropriate to me and we then gave that name
to the Government and he was then appointed. It then subsequently
appears that where I am at fault in this is in not taking more
direct responsibility for the issue.
"During the talks I left the policing issue to Ken. Ken would deal
direct with Jonathan Powell on any policing issue that arose.
There's a limit to the number of things you can do and you can look
at. Now Ken had successes, but he will tell you that he should have
been in more regular contact with Smith. But he wasn't and so Smith
may have been left with the view that he was a free agent. Even
Even so? Was it not extraordinary that the Ulster Unionist Party
thought it had appointed its own man to such a critically important
position but nobody bothered to consult or tell the individual
Trimble counters: "I thought that someone who was a former honorary
secretary of the Ulster Unionist Party would not have seen himself
as completely independent".
But does he accept that his party actually made no attempt to
ascertain what Smith's views on policing might be?
"If Ken hadn't spoken to him before giving his name to me then the
answer to that is 'yes'. Ken will say that he thinks that he should
have been in closer contact with him".
But in fact, as I understand it, Mr (now Lord) Maginnis does not
say anything of the sort. To the contrary, my understanding is that
Maginnis did not attempt to speak to Smith because he felt it might
not be appropriate to approach him as an independent, and
explicitly non-party, member of an international commission.
Trimble insists that his recollection is very different. But,
plainly not wishing to open another avenue of dispute with a close
colleague, he turns his fire on Patten.
"We should have been in closer contact with Patten, and here a
large part of the fault lies with Patten because Patten did say to
Ken and I when we had that dinner in the restaurant in the Strand
in London and we discussed a number of things. When we came to the
symbolic issues at the end it was clear there was a minefield
"And Patten said to Ken and me that he would come back to us when
it got to the final stages of preparing the report to road-test
ideas with us".
I put it to Trimble that long, long before his dinner with Patten
he had had more than one clear indication that on the question of
the symbolism, the RUC cap, badge and title etc, the argument was
already lost and that these were among the first items binned by
the Commission as it set about its task.
But he rejects this: "No, no, no. Nobody indicated to me or hinted
to me that there was going to be a total whitewash.
"I would have lived with some changes providing there was an
element of balance in the changes and that there was some degree of
fairness. I think the community would have lived with that.
"But it came as a shock and only became clear at the end that there
was a total whitewash, that everything had gone. No, it wasn't
clear until the end that we were going to lose everything on the
Trimble then moves on to the surprisingly large part of the Patten
recommendations with which he actually had no problem whatsoever.
"This is something I remind people about time and again, that on
the substantive front those who wanted to abolish the RUC, those
who wanted to Balkanise the force, those who wanted to create 'two-
tier policing' lost out completely.
"The substance of the Patten Report is the bulk of the RUC's own
Fundamental Review, it's own plan as to how it makes the necessary
adjustments to take an anti-terrorist force back to being a normal
police force again. Again, I have to say this, that I think some
unionists do unionism a huge disservice when they talk about the
RUC being abolished or it being destroyed. That's not true".
Well, the title of the Royal Ulster Constabulary was passed into
the legislative history books, ironically on the morning of July
12, 2000, as the Commons gave the Policing Bill its Third Reading.
But counters Trimble: "It's the same men wearing much the same
uniform enforcing exactly the same law".
So, for all the furore, it wasn't really such a big loss after all?
Interestingly, Trimble doesn't immediately deny this proposition.
"Look, we're here dealing with New Labour, dealing with people who
think that rebranding is the normal thing to do. We're dealing with
governments of the kind which, you know, when they decided there
was a problem with the Ulster Defence Regiment, decided the way to
solve the problem was to re-name it the Royal Irish Regiment.
"We're dealing, too, with legislation already on the statute book,
passed by the New Labour Government, incorporating the police
force, the Harbour Police and so on into something called the
Northern Ireland Police Service. The name is already understood
The title of the police force, however, remained the Royal Ulster
And it seems to me that Mo Mowlam's first foray into legislation on
this subject should, if anything, have alerted Trimble and the
Unionists to the fact that the Labour Government probably did not
consider the RUC sacrosanct. Yet, for all that he allows the name
"Police Service of Northern Ireland" was already in the public
domain, Trimble exploded in fury when Patten finally abandoned the
"What annoyed me wasn't just that, what annoyed me was not just
that we had a complete whitewash on the symbolic issues, but the
whole manner and style of the report. The complete and deliberate
insensitivity in the failure to acknowledge the achievements and
sacrifice of the RUC, and the lack of any serious discussion of the
options. Again and again Patten proceeds by bald assertion".
Yet Trimble says that on the big structural things, presumably the
things that really mattered, his opponents lost.
The force wasn't abolished, the existing members were not put to
the humiliation of having to re-apply for their jobs, it was all
largely as the then Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, had
I know I'm somehow not quite "getting" it.
And this again brings me to the point of suggesting that the result
in any event could have been very different, and that Trimble could
have ensured it was.
Sure, as he says, he was dealing with New Labour and its fetish for
marketing and rebranding and presentation and all of that.
But David Trimble is not Tony Blair, nor is he New Labour. He is
the leader of a very conservative Unionist Party which thinks of
itself as a party of law and order. If he felt that strongly about
it - or, which I suspect the more accurate, if he knew his party
and supporters would feel that strongly about it - why didn't he
tell Blair this was a resigning issue, that if Patten was
implemented in full he would bring the whole political project to a
"And with what result?", he demands.
What about "saving the RUC" and maybe even, in time, his electoral
It is certainly the view of some of his friends that, over and
above the whole question of Sinn Fein in government, it was
Trimble's perceived failure to go to the wall for the RUC which
inflicted the lasting damage which would, in turn, hand the
majority to his DUP rival.
He agrees: "That's probably true and that's exactly what I said the
day it came out".
So did it never occur to him to make it a resigning issue and tell
Blair "up with this I cannot put"?
"Well, we made it an issue that we would not go back into the
power-sharing administration without there being changes on these
issues. We didn't get very much, though funnily enough, we did
preserve the name. You've got to look and see what is the real name
of the police in Northern Ireland. They only use 'PSNI' for
operational purposes. The legal name is 'Police Service of Northern
Ireland incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary'. That is what
the law says".
So he doesn't regret not making it a resigning issue, actually?
"Well, as I have said on other occasions, there are people who have
asked me all through this process to make everything a resigning
matter because they're so anxious that I should resign as soon as
Anyway, what were you going to resign on? Just a purely symbolic
issue of a badge or a name - when on so many of the substantive
issues the report was acceptable?"
Trimble makes a valid point about the motivations of some who would
have urged him to break on this issue.
But I suspect he knows why I'm pressing this.
For all his public fury (and, dare I say it, much public rudeness)
over Patten, his answers reinforce my suspicion that he actually
never felt about the RUC issue in quite the same way as the
unionist rank and file; that, though he was undoubtedly conscious
of the political difficulty it spelt for him, he was looking to
what Tony Blair likes to call "the big picture" and reasoning that
this was pain necessary to the process of political change.
Is there something in this?
"Which is the view the police took", he replies. "When you look at
the situation post-Patten and you calculate whether you're going to
destroy the process over this issue. . . To be in a position where
the Chief Constable, the Police Federation, as far as one can tell
the serving officers themselves, are prepared to acquiesce in the
changes. To then destroy the political process by taking a harder
line over policing than the police themselves take would to some
people at least seem to be rather quixotic.
"Now that's not to say that I wasn't aware of the damage that this
would do and I was really angry of the stupidity of Patten and the
Patten commission. . . .
"It's the argument Eoghan Harris made afterwards, 'The fighting's
been over the bike, you've got the bike so at least let them have
some stickers on it'.... that having won on the substance one knew
that there was going to be some movement on the symbols.
"That's why I said to Patten, to make it clear to him, 'you can get
the substance right but if you go wrong on the symbols the whole
thing could go up the chute'".
Yet here we are in 2004 and life goes on, policing goes on, the
SDLP has led nationalist opinion in the way he and the two
governments wanted, and nothing actually, on that front at any
rate, went up the chute at all.
"Well politically it has been because the difficulties that the
Agreement suffered in terms of acceptability among unionists in
that period have been conditioned as much by that as anything else.
Our electoral problems are as much, and probably more, to do with
the hurt in the policing family. The leadership of the police and
the Police Federation, and ostensibly the senior officers,
"But in their guts they felt bad about it and especially those who
took early retirement, they and their families felt bitter about
"And there is absolutely no doubt that on the doorsteps,
particularly in 2001, we were getting more hassle over policing
than over Sinn Fein. In fact, when I say hassle I mean more
On his own personal balance sheet then, if that is so, it might be
said that Trimble's management of this was pretty disastrous? This
is painful territory. "Well, we had a huge problem. I mean we could
have kept closer to Smith, we could have kept more contact with
Patten. But I'm not accepting the blame for that because Patten
didn't come back to us and that's the problem there. We gave Patten
clear warning that he had to be careful about some of this. We
weren't opposed to change but the change had to be done in an
acceptable way. And instead we got something that wiped out all the
symbols and then was, if anything, quite offensive in the way it
handled the past.
"In the drafting of Patten, the way it was presented, there wasn't
just a failure to recognise the service and the sacrifice, it was
dismissive of it.
"So I don't accept responsibility for that; that is clearly the
fault of the Patten Commission and then there's also a great
responsibility on a British Government that accepts the thing lock,
stock and barrel and doesn't make adjustments.
"Now Peter Mandelson realised there was a need to do something and
Blair goes along with Mandelson when he tries to do something. But
then Blair loses heart in it and caves in and after Mandelson is
out of office a lot of the changes are reversed. "So I mean this is
something which has to be shared around. But there is no doubt that
it caused us more trouble than it should have".
Extracted from The Price of Peace by Frank Millar (Liffey Press).
The book is available for £10.95 (Â15.95) in paperback or £24.95
(Â29.95) in hardback from the Liffey Press, Ashbrook House, 10 Main
Street, Raheny, Dublin 5, tel: 00353-1-8511458 or through website
at www.theliffeypress.com. Postage and packing £3 (Â2).
Eames Reveals Drumcree Death Threat
By Staff Reporter
02 November 2004
Archbishop Robin Eames received police protection and his home was
also guarded at the height of the Drumcree crisis because of a
paramilitary death threat, according to new material published in a
biography on the life of the Church of Ireland Primate.
Extracts from the book, Nobody's Fool, by Alf McCreary, are being
published exclusively in this week's Belfast Telegraph.
Today's extract reveals that Eames was also hospitalised for stress
tests during one Drumcree stand-off, though he kept up
communication with the outside world through the help of his office
He also reveals that at the early stage of the crisis it has
crossed his mind to try to close the church on Drumcree hill.
But he added: "If I had closed the church - always supposing that
it was possible to do so - the Orangemen would have come to
Drumcree in their tens of thousands, and they would not have
stopped coming to Drumcree.
"They would have held their service outside the church, or they
would have gone into it. There would have been increased civil
conflict and widespread rioting."
Eames also reveals that the police and Government asked him not to
close the church. He said: "Successive Secretaries of State said to
me, 'Our problems will only really begin if the service is stopped
and the Orange Order marches to another location'."
Despite the setbacks, Eames believes that there has been progress -
but at a personal cost to many people, himself included.
He states: "The pressure and tension surrounding Drumcree was
greater than I ever felt in any single episode of my life."
Shannon Airport Must Be Demilitarised - Bairbre De Brún MEP
Published: 3 November, 2004
Sinn Féin MEP for the Six Counties Bairbre de Brún has called for
an end to the use of Shannon Airport as a staging area for US
forces involved in the occupation of Iraq. She was speaking at a
press conference in Dublin this morning (3rd of November) called to
announce a demonstration at Shannon on the 13th of November. The
press conference was organised by PANA, NGO Peace Alliance and the
Irish Anti War Movement.
Ms De Brún said:
"The invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq is unjustified and
"The most recent comprehensive survey of casualties, conducted by
John Hopkins University and published in the Lancet, since the US
and British invasion of Iraq last March, conservatively estimates a
death toll in excess of 100,000.
"As a neutral state, the 26 counties should not facilitate the use
of our airspace or of Shannon Airport by those actively involved in
the fighting. I call on the Irish government to put an end to the
use of Shannon Airport as a staging area for those involved in the
occupation of Iraq
"I am asking people to turn out for a peaceful demonstration at
Shannon Airport on Saturday week, November 13th, to defend our
position of neutrality and to oppose the use of the airport as a
staging post for war.
"Sinn Fein has consistently opposed the war in Iraq and will
continue to campaign for troops to be withdrawn and for sovereignty
to be returned to the Iraqi people." ENDS