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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 18, 2004
News 11/18/04 - Brtis Urged to Apologize To Birmingham Six
News about Ireland & the Irish
IO 11/18/04 British Govt Urged To Make Birmingham Six Apology
BB 11/18/04 SF: 1974 Pub Bombings 'Were Wrong'
EP 11/18/04 Adams Urges Rapid Conclusion To Peace Talks
IO 11/18/04 McGuinness: Power-Sharing Talks At Defining Moment
RT 11/18/04 Paisley To Seek Clarification On Formula V
BT 11/18/04 Durkan Attacks Unionist 'Hot Air'
UT 11/18/04 Ahern's Stormont Likely To Slip
BT 11/18/04 Dublin Warns About Joint Rule
IO 11/18/04 Dublin Men Convicted Of IRA Membership
SF 11/18/04 Sinn Féin Slams BBC For Anti- Irish Remarks
IC 11/18/04 Effective Public Inquiry Is The Finucane's Priority
BT 11/18/04 Eye On London: Come Clean On North-South Justice Plans
BT 11/18/04 Viewpoint: Deal On Offer Must Be Made Public
BT 11/18/04 Sinn Fein's US Earnings Revealed
SI 11/18/04 Desperation Gone From Irish Negotiations
BT 11/18/04 Councillors Row Over 'Terrorist' Tag
BT 11/18/04 Huge SDLP Spend On Election Failure
BT 11/18/04 Sinn Fein Seeks Body For Truth And Reconciliation
RT 11/18/04 Mark Thatcher Charged With Coup Involvement
Mark Thatcher Charged With Coup Involvement - Jonathan Clynch
reports on the latest twist in the colourful story of the former UK
British Govt Urged To Make Birmingham Six Apology
The British government was challenged today to apologise to the six
men wrongfully convicted for the Birmingham pub bombings.
One of the jailed men, John Walker, said it was time Downing Street
publicly acknowledged their innocence.
"Nobody ever apologised to us. We've done 16 and a half years.
"What happened 30 years ago was a disaster. People say 21 people
lost their lives that day. What about the six men who went to
prison? We lost our lives also."
Mr Walker said the British government had not apologised for their
years of incarceration.
"I felt sorry for what happened in Birmingham that night but people
must remember I've done 16 and a half years in prison for something
I did not do," he added.
He was speaking after a report that a Sinn Féin official has called
on the IRA to apologise for the bombings, which claimed 21 lives
and maimed almost 200 people 30 years ago.
A Sinn Féin spokesman, commenting on the report, said if issues
surrounding the IRA's role in the Birmingham bombings still needed
to be addressed, it was his party's position that this should
The IRA has never claimed responsibility for the bombs that blasted
the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town pubs in the centre of
Birmingham on November 21, 1974.
It was one of the worst atrocities carried out by republican
terrorists on the British mainland.
The six Irishmen who were jailed for the bombings were released in
March 1991 following a long campaign for their freedom.
Dungannon priest Monsignor Denis Faul, one of those who worked for
their release, said that the IRA should now apologise for what it
did in Birmingham.
"A lot of young people were killed in Birmingham. It is important
that there should be an apology for that. It was a terrible,
Fr Faul, who still works with victims of the Troubles, said
recognition of the hurt caused by violence was a vital ingredient
of a political settlement.
"The Republican Movement cannot hope to be trusted until they
apologise to all the victims, not only the young people of
Birmingham but also the relatives of the soldiers who were killed
in Northern Ireland and England."
Relatives and survivors of the bombings will take part in a
memorial service at Birmingham's Anglican Cathedral this Sunday.
The Dean of St Philip's Cathedral, the Very Reverend Gordon
Mursell, said: "It would make a huge difference to the families and
relatives if the people responsible felt able to accept
responsibility and ask forgiveness."
A Sinn Féin spokesman said: "What happened in Birmingham 30 years
ago was wrong and should not have happened."
He added republicans were committed to the establishment of a
process that would address the demands and concerns of victims of
the conflict on all sides.
"The IRA for their part have apologised for the deaths of non-
combatants resulting from their actions.
"If issues relating to the IRA concerning the Birmingham bombings
are still to be addressed then it is very clearly the Sinn Féin
position that this should happen."
1974 Pub Bombings 'Were Wrong'
The 1974 Birmingham pub bombings were wrong and should not have
happened, Sinn Fein has admitted.
A party spokesman said on Thursday that if there were issues
relating to the IRA still to be addressed over the bombings, then
this should happen
The statement comes days before the 30th anniversary of the two
bombings which killed 21 people and injured 182.
The BBC's Ireland correspondent Denis Murray said the statement
"did not say in so many words that the IRA will apologise but it
effectively confirms that this will happen".
On 21 November, 1974, the Mulberry Bush pub at the foot of the
city's Rotunda tower and the nearby Tavern in the Town, were both
destroyed within minutes of each other.
Six men imprisoned for the attacks had their convictions overturned
by the Court of Appeal in March 1991.
The Birmingham Six - Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Hill, Gerard Hunter,
Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker - were sentenced
to life imprisonment in 1975.
The IRA has apologised in recent years for a number of murders it
carried out in the 1970s.
In October, it issued a "statement of regret" for killing 15-year-
old Bernard Teggart in Belfast in 1973.
Last year, the IRA apologised for the grief caused to the families
of the nine so-called Disappeared who were murdered and secretly
buried during the 1970s.
In July 2002, the IRA apologised to all civilian victims of its
campaign of violence.
In a statement in the republican newspaper An Phoblacht (Republican
News), it also offered "sincere apologies" to the families of those
killed on Bloody Friday, when nine people were killed as 21 bombs
exploded across Belfast on 21 July 1972.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/18 17:16:34 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Adams Urges Rapid Conclusion To Peace Talks
Gerry Adams has indicated that the next few weeks could be make or
break for the Northern Ireland peace process.
The Sinn Fein president also called on the DUP to step up its co-
operation with republicans.
Speaking in Downing Street after talks with the prime minister,
Adams said that "it is time to sort all of this out".
Noting that it was 10 years since the first IRA cessation of its
armed campaign, the Sinn Fein chief also highlighted his party's
anxiety to reach a final deal in the coming weeks.
He was speaking a day after the two governments put forward their
proposals to end the current deadlock in the peace process.
"We want to see this done certainly within the next number of days
or weeks," Adams said.
Sinn Fein was now seeking assurances on the details of the plans
put forward by the two governments, he said. "That shouldn't take
too much longer."
"We are coming at this to make this work," Adams added.
"We've never had a problem [with changing the Good Friday
agreement], we've put forward proposals ourselves for the better
delivery of the agreement, but we do have problems if people want
to move away from the core of the agreement."
Adams described the Number 10 talks as "useful", with more
"intense" negotiations to come.
"Within a relatively short time we will either prevail and get the
basis for a comprehensive agreement, or we will not," he said.
"Our hope and our intention is that we will get such a basis."
Adams also said the DUP should show some "new thinking" on working
That call came as the DUP issued a statement saying the latest
plans contained areas of "confusing ambiguity and even apparent
Published: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 17:38:27 GMT+00
McGuinness: Power-Sharing Talks At Defining Moment
Northern Ireland's politicians and the Irish and British
governments are approaching a defining moment in the political
process, Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness claimed
As his party leadership prepared to brief rank and file members
over the coming days on efforts to revive the Northern Ireland
Assembly and power sharing, the Mid Ulster MP said British Prime
Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern were listening to
republican concerns about the two governments' plans to bring back
He said: "I think we are involved now in the most critical
discussion process we have had for many years.
"There is a mighty responsibility on both governments and on Sinn
Féin to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is defended.
"But there is also a mighty responsibility on the DUP to come to
all of this responsibly.
"The reality is we have reached a critical point, which is
hopefully a defining point.
"Whether there is agreement or not, there is a huge responsibility
on the two governments to ensure that the type of change envisaged
in the Good Friday Agreement is implemented, particularly the all-
Ireland agenda and those sections on people's rights and
"We are trying to get an agreement which the DUP is a part of and
the next seven to ten days will tell the tale."
Sinn Féin and the DUP have both expressed concerns about the
proposals Mr Blair and Mr Ahern put to them yesterday for restoring
power sharing and resolving the issues of paramilitary disarmament
and the IRA's future.
Mr McGuinness tonight said the negotiations were very much a work
He confirmed that Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will brief the
party's national officers' board in Dublin tomorrow and would also
meet Sinn Féin's TDs and senior activists.
Mr Adams was due to join Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin chairman
Mitchel McLaughlin for a briefing of the party's Stormont Assembly
group in Belfast tomorrow evening.
Mr McLaughlin was also pencilled in to brief Sinn Féin's elected
representatives, including councillors from across Ireland, at a
conference in County Louth on Saturday.
"The fact is, we are nearly there," he said.
"This is a defining moment. There will either be an agreement where
hopefully we can all move in a positive spirit to ensure that
people's rights and entitlements are honoured or there will be no
agreement, which will still be a defining moment for the two
governments and their commitment to the Agreement if the DUP is not
prepared to be a part of this process."
Sinn Féin tonight was accused, however, of making a strategic error
in the negotiations by the nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan.
Noting that there was a proposal that the Northern Ireland Assembly
could vote for the entire power sharing executive in the future, on
a cross-community vote requiring a majority of unionists and a
majority of nationalists, replacing the vote for First and Deputy
First Ministers, Mr Durkan berated Sinn Féin.
"Mitchel McLaughlin has publicly confirmed that Sinn Fein is up for
this," the Foyle Assembly member said.
"That was their stance at Leeds Castle too.
"Sinn Féin clearly has not understood what this means.
"It gives the DUP the ability to veto the executive if it contains
anybody that they do not like.
"It gives the DUP the ability to politically vet nationalist
ministers. No longer will nationalist parties have the last say in
who they appoint as ministers. The DUP will.
"And let's be clear: this is a veto the DUP will use. The DUP will
not pass up a veto opportunity any more than Sinn Féin will pass up
See video at:
Paisley To Seek Clarification On Formula -V
18 November 2004 16:55
The DUP leader has said he will be seeking clarification of some
elements of the formula for a breakthrough in the peace process
presented to his party and Sinn Féin by the British and Irish
In a statement, Ian Paisley said his party intended to work
constructively in the coming days to resolve the outstanding
He also said it will need confirmation from British Prime Minister
Tony Blair that the IRA has accepted 'the extent and particulars of
that part of the agreement which impacts on its activities and
The DUP and Sinn Féin received the formula for a breakthrough
yesterday. The DUP leader says initial scrutiny shows there are
some areas of confusing ambiguity and apparent inconsistency.
The party has called a meeting of its Assembly members to discuss
Durkan Attacks Unionist 'Hot Air'
By Noel McAdam
18 November 2004
SDLP leader Mark Durkan has warned the DUP has got too much and
given too little in the on-going negotiations towards a devolution
Speaking in Dublin last night, he said the warm words from the DUP
that they would work with nationalists had so far turned out to be
"They say they want power sharing, but don't practice it in the
local Councils. They say they want North South cooperation, but
won't name any areas where it should happen. I could go on," he
told an audience at University College.
"Now, we appreciate that the Governments have worked hard to bring
them round. But we are concerned that the DUP have got too much and
given too little."
The former Deputy First Minister asked if the DUP would not vote in
a nationalist Deputy First Minister, what chance is there they
would work with one?
"Worse, it means that the DUP have a veto over any nationalist
minister appointed to the Executive. When the SDLP negotiated the
Agreement, we ensured that no party could veto any other party's
"Now the DUP can politically vet the lot. Nationalists won't have
the last say on who they appoint as ministers. The DUP will."
Mr Durkan said it remained to be seen whether a deal will come in
the next fortnight but eventually the DUP and Sinn Fein will reach
"But does anybody believe that the two parties that produced or
excused some of the worst of our past are going to give us the best
of our future?," he asked.
Ahern's Stormont Likely To Slip
The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's deadline for a deal to revive the
Stormont Assembly is slipping, it was claimed tonight.
As Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness raised with
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, their concerns about proposals
to restore power-sharing, talks sources suggested it could take up
to ten days before republicans and unionists could give a
definitive response to London and Dublin`s plan.
Mr Ahern had originally set a dealine of November 25 or 26 but
sources said they believed the deadline could slip a few days.
One source said: "I don`t think people put any great store in
"There are a number of concerns both parties are anxious to iron
"I don`t think they are insurmountable if the political will is
there but it could take as much as ten days before we know exactly
where the parties stand."
In his first comment since receiving the proposals from the British
and Irish governments yesterday, Democratic Unionist leader the
Reverend Ian Paisley challenged claims that his party was satisfied
with what was on offer.
Confirming the DUP would take time to study the document, the North
Antrim MP signalled his party was still looking for guarantees
about what the IRA would do to boost efforts to revive power-
"Initial scrutiny shows that there are some areas of confusing
ambiguity and even apparent inconsistency," he said.
"We will also want to have clarification on a number of matters
where there is a lack of detail or the use of imprecise text.
"While on one construction it is possible, if our outstanding
concerns were removed, to see a basis for agreement, other
interpretations of some sections would result in a less favourable
"We must not allow a lack of clarity to lead to misunderstanding
and dispute at a later stage.
"We will need the British Prime Minister to confirm to us that in
each and every respect the IRA has accepted the nature, extent and
particulars of that part of the agreement which impacts on its
activities and position."
A senior Sinn Fein source said Mr Adams told Mr Blair tonight his
party was approaching the governments` proposals positively.
"We pointed out to the Taoiseach (Mr Ahern) yesterday and his
officials that there are matters in the detail which have to do
with the faithful implementation of the Agreement which still have
to be resolved," he said.
"That is why we spent so long yesterday with the Irish officials
and are meeting the British Prime Minister today.
"All of these issues can be resolved if the governments are
genuinely committed to the Agreement. Our focus is on making
progress in the efforts to try and secure the complete agreement in
the time ahead."
It is understood the DUP still has concerns about IRA moves to
create confidence around future disarmament acts.
The party believes proposals that Protestant and Catholic clergy
could witness an act of disarmament are a step in the right
direction but it still feels a visual aspect such as photographic
or video evidence would create greater confidence.
The DUP also also concerns over the future operation of power-
sharing, the transfer of policing and justice powers and the
timetable for the rolling out of any deal to restore the Assembly.
"I don`t think the timetabling issue has been settled," a talks
"Obviously the `Shinners` (Sinn Fein) would want everything done in
five minutes and the DUP would prefer it to be done in five to six
"What is clear is that if a deal is struck it will roll out over a
longer period of time than previous agreements in the past."
Dublin Warns About Joint Rule
By Chris Thornton
18 November 2004
The Irish Government distanced itself today from proposals for
joint authority over Northern Ireland if the current rescue package
Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern stepped back from a Sinn Fein
push for joint authority as Plan B in the event of the talks to
restore Stormont collapsing without a deal.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams recently argued that failure would
require the two Governments to "drive the process of change
"How? It's not just parties who can share power. Governments can
share power also," he said.
Mr Ahern said in an Irish Times article today that failure would
mean the two Governments would take stock about what to do during
what could be "a prolonged period" without agreement between the
But he said the Irish Government can fulfil its obligations to
Northern nationalists by sticking to "the machinery that is
provided for in the Agreement itself".
He also indicated Dublin is adhering to the statement made last
October by Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern,
which said the Agreement was the "only sustainable basis" for a
settlement in Northern Ireland.
Dermot Ahern wrote: "As regards the question of joint authority,
which has been mentioned as a substitute for devolved government, I
would emphasise that the full realisation of peace, partnership and
reconciliation can best be achieved by the parties working
collectively together, rather than by the two Governments acting as
Dublin Men Convicted Of IRA Membership
Two Dublin Sinn Féin members were convicted at the Special Criminal
Court today on charges of IRA membership.
The court heard during an eight-day trial that gardaí found a list
of TDs, including three former Ministers for Justice, at the home
of one of the men, Niall Binead.
Niall Binead, also known as Niall Bennett (aged 35), of Faughart
Road, Crumlin, Dublin, and Kenneth Donohoe (aged 26), of Sundale
Avenue, Mountain View, Tallaght, Dublin, were both convicted of
membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish
Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA
on October 10, 2002.
The two were remanded in custody for sentencing on November 30
next. Convicting the men, Mr Justice Diarmuid O' Donovan,
presiding, said that the court did not doubt Detective Chief
Superintendent Philip Kelly's evidence that he believed that each
of the accused was a member of the IRA.
Det Chief Supt Kelly is the head of the Special Detective Unit.
The judge said that the documentation found during searches of the
accuseds' homes, when taken in conjunction with the chief
superintendent's evidence, and the fact that the accused had
refused to answer material questions when interviewed by the gardaí
was supportive that the men were both IRA members.
The court was told that the two men were arrested after gardaí
arrested five men following suspicious activity around a number of
vehicles in Corke Abbey, Bray on October 10, 2002.
Inside a transit van gardaí found four men as well as a
sledgehammer, a pick axe handle, radios and a black balaclava. In a
Nissan Almera car with false number plates they found a blue
flashing beacon, a Long Kesh baseball cap, a stun gun , a canister
of CS gas and a roll of masking tape.
The transit van was traced to its owner, who is a Sinn Féin member
and who had made it available for election purposes on the night in
question. Donohoe was arrested later that month and Binead was
arrested in December of that year.
During the trial the court that a document - a cigarette paper -
was found in a small briefcase at Binead's home. The document
contained the names of the late Jim Mitchell, Des O' Malley and
John O' Donoghue as well as the names of other politicians.
Detective Sergeant Joe Devine said that the document was headed:
"Politicians". It listed Jim Mitchell, Fine Gael; Des O' Malley,
Progressive Democrats; John O' Donoghue, Fianna Fáil; and said
"drinking in Rathgar".
It went on to list :"Jim Mc Daid, Donegal, Fianna Fáil and Brendan
'Rambo' Mc Gahon, Fine Gael", adding:"backing horses in Paddy
Powers just off Grafton St., Lemon St, just off Bewleys café".
Sinn Féin Slams BBC For Anti-Irish Remarks
Published: 18 November, 2004
Sinn Féin Councillor for North Belfast, David Kennedy, has slammed
the BBC for ignoring anti-Irish remarks on its message boards. The
BBC, after being made aware of this by a regular contributor,
stated that they could find no instance where their rules had been
broken despite being directed to the offensive comments.
Speaking today Cllr Kennedy stated:
"Irish people have for the past number of weeks been subject to
defamatory and racist abuse on the BBC's internet message board
with users of the site referring to Irish citizens as 'Paddies'
alongside other defamatory stereotypical remarks. When contacted
about it by several users of the site the BBC's reply was wholly
inadequate and contradictory.
"The BBC's reply states that they could find no way in which their
house rules for the message boards had been broken. This is despite
the very same rules stating that defamatory, abusive and racially
offensive material is not acceptable.
"Nationalists and republicans have long expressed serious concerns
for many years about the manner in which the BBC operates and this
will further compound their suspicions. For the BBC to ignore and
not consider anti-Irish racism as a problem is as good as condoning
"Sinn Fein have highlighted on several occasions that the BBC still
remain exempt from equality scrutiny under Section 75. It is
exactly this kind of incident that proves the need for the BBC to
be included under this law and face up to its responsibilities as a
public body." ENDS
'Credible And Effective' Public Inquiry Is Still The Finucane
Informed sources last night revealed that the family of murdered
Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane used a private meeting with British
Prime Minister Tony Blair a fortnight ago to "bluntly restate their
desire to participate in any credible and effective public inquiry"
into the controversial affair.
And the source says that Mr Finucane's family are refusing to be
sidelined, despite growing concerns over the British government's
attitude to establishing an inquiry.
The disclosures come just days after the Northern Ireland Office
(NIO) publicised the composition and remit of inquiries into three
other controversial killings those of Robert Hamill, Rosemary
Nelson and Billy Wright.
Mr Finucane was assassinated in front of his wife and young family
on February 12, 1989, after a UDA death-squad armed by British
Intelligence, and directed by Special Branch and the British Army's
notorious Force Research Unit (FRU) burst into his North Belfast
Due to the sinister element of state collusion, Canadian Judge
Peter Cory independently reviewed Mr Finucane's case, along with
the cases of Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill, who was kicked to
death beside an RUC Land Rover; Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson,
who was murdered by a loyalist booby-trap bomb; and leading
loyalist Billy Wright who was shot dead by the INLA inside Long
In each of the cases, Judge Cory recommended an independent inquiry
when he submitted a final report to the British government in
The Finucane family have consistently re- stated their demand for a
credible and effective public inquiry to which they could lend
support and, on this basis, Judge Cory's recommendation was
However, after a delay of several months Mr Finucane's widow,
Geraldine, was forced to launch High Court proceedings over the
NIO's subsequent refusal to publish Judge Cory's report.
And while the Nelson, Hamill and Wright inquiries are now being
established under the terms of existing legislation namely the
1998 Police Act and the 1953 Prison Act the British government
have refused to use any existing legislation for the Finucane
inquiry, not even the 1921 Tribunal Act which was used in the
Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
Instead the British government have stated that due to "national
security interests" the Finucane inquiry must be set up under new
This new legislation is essentially designed to permit lesser not
And it could mean that the British government will be able to
withhold sensitive and embarrassing details about the Finucane
affair, even before an inquiry gets a chance to consider them.
Human rights groups have already expressed significant concerns
over the implications of the British government's latest attempts
to gag any inquiry.
Despite this, the Finucane family maintain that, having waited 15
years for the British government to establish an inquiry, they are
not willing to be sidelined at this stage.
During the past month, the Finucane family have been involved in an
intensive round of meetings with representatives from the SDLP,
Sinn Féin, the British government, the Irish government and a range
of independent organisations.
The purpose of the meetings has been to focus attention on the
family's key concerns over the proposed new British legislation and
any resulting inquiry.
Speaking last night, an informed source stressed the Finucane
family's desire to secure "a credible and effective inquiry".
"This is not just an issue about bringing closure to the personal
grief of the Finucane family. Given the nature of Pat Finucane's
murder which serves as an exemplar of the British policy of state
collusion the need for an inquiry that the family, and the wider
community, can support should not be underestimated.
"All along the Finucane family's approach has been reasonable and
consistent. Getting to the bottom of a scandal such as the murder
of Pat Finucane isn't just about one case. It is about ensuring
that a state policy of collusion can never be allowed to happen
again by putting new safeguards, recommendations and principles in
The source disclosed that during a meeting in Downing Street on
November 2, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was arrogant and
abrasive and refused point-blank to answer key questions from the
And it is now thought that Tony Blair's personal attitude during
the November 2 meeting taken together with the British
government's general attitude to the establishment of an inquiry
has created significant worries for the Finucane family.
"On the one hand the British government say they want to get to the
truth of this issue in an inquiry. Yet on the other hand, they say
that they will adjudicate all of the contentious issues that may
"The other question is, why is new legislation required at all? So
much has already been made public that it is difficult to see how
gagging material could achieve anything, unless there is worse yet
to come. The question that has been uppermost in many minds is,
what is it that the British government wants to hide?
"There are some in the British administration who may believe the
Finucane family can be treated like second- class citizens and made
to accept a second-rate inquiry. This will not be allowed to
"The Finucane family are very serious about getting an independent,
public inquiry as recommended by Judge Cory that they can have
confidence in and can fully contribute to," added our source.
Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney
Eye On London: Come Clean On North-South Justice Plans
By Brian Walker, London Editor
18 November 2004
Even if the political climate is transformed by the IRA's dramatic
concession over verifying decommissioning, it leaves another crunch
to be met over the handover of police and justice powers to the
This is now apparently being mooted by the two Governments for
2006. It's easy to see why it's such a key issue for Sinn Fein.
Justice and policing are the red meat of political power.
I've had a sight of a new international draft treaty between the UK
and the Republic - in the mould of the Belfast Agreement - that
would deeply involve the Republic in the north's justice system for
the first time.
Although the word is not actually used, the proposals amount to
north-south harmonisation of a wide range of topics like non-
custodial sentences, anti-drugs measures, equal treatment for
similar offences on both sides of the border, victims' support, a
north-south exchange of sex offenders' information and swaps of
prosecution service and police personnel.
Harmonisation of road traffic penalties and joint PSNI-Gardai
investigations would be in the second tranche of an outline work
plan for a new British-Irish body on justice and policing co-
operation, run by a secretariat and serviced by a policy group,
reporting annually to the relevant NIO and Republic Ministers.
None of this is actually secret but has lain hidden from general
public view in the criminal justice review for the past five years.
Some of it is popular and sensible but some of it raises troubling
questions of detail.
If for instance, pathology services are to be shared, is Northern
Ireland DNA to be placed at the mercy of a southern court where the
culture and the penalties may be different?
Even more worrying is the apparently open- ended nature of co-
operation in the draft treaty, which tasks the policy group "to
identify other areas in which co-operation could be enhanced or
initiated as appropriate."
In the first instance, the justice co- operation body would be a
British-Irish affair. But after devolution, it raises the mind-
boggling prospect of a north-south system of justice co-operation
supervised jointly by Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.
In spite of the generally relaxed approach to devolution of justice
and policing adopted by David Trimble, the treaty in its present
form has been privately turned down flat by the Ulster Unionists'
justice spokesperson, Sylvia Hermon for being dangerously open
The DUP's approach is hardly likely to be softer. Will it proceed
on a British-Irish basis only if there's no political deal? We
should be told.
Although neither unionist party has yet called "foul", the basic
objection to it is obvious: in nationalist and republican terms, it
traces the outline of the all-Ireland common law enforcement area
of their dreams.
As any Eurocrat will tell you, harmonisation leads to common laws
and law enforcement in agreed areas.
And as most co-operation can take place under existing EU rules,
why is a new British-Irish treaty necessary? Is it for political
effect, another "green" concession?
Yet again, it seems a fundamental change has been slipped into the
agenda, ready to take its place in fevered negotiations that will
either eventually succeed or fail, after too little public
If the scenario happens, Sinn Fein would surely force the pace of
the north-south agenda. Could co-operation with the DUP stand the
Under the Justice Northern Ireland Act 2002, the Justice Ministers,
"acting jointly", would have the job of ratifying the appointments
of up to 34 judges and running a reformed system of justice, part
of which is covered by the proposed British- Irish treaty.
The treaty would create a new climate of north-south law making and
enforcement, breaking away from its British roots.
Suspicions are being expressed that NIO officials preparing for
devolution have been dragging their feet over extending David
Blunkett's new, tougher criminal penalties to the province.
The main provisions of new laws on international terrorism were
applied only at unionist insistence. Even if there's a breakthrough
against the odds on the very top of the agenda, this seems an awful
lot to swallow.
The message to the Government now surely is: come clean about your
latest plans for north-south justice and policing - starting now.
Viewpoint: Deal On Offer Must Be Made Public
BUILDING TRUST: Details should be published in the interests of
18 November 2004
Having failed to broker a voluntary agreement on the restoration of
Stormont, the British and Irish governments have been forced to
propose their own solutions. With the main players still in
negotiations, all that can be said is that the DUP seem happier
than Sinn Fein with what they have seen.
Since both must agree, for a real breakthrough, it is too early to
forecast that the latest attempt will succeed before next week's
apparent deadline. Yet the fact that they are still talking -
albeit separately, to the two governments - must mean that some
progress is being made.
The media, and more importantly the public, are left to speculate
on the scraps of information that have been leaked about the
governments' "best guess" proposals. It is an unsatisfactory way to
do business, unique to Northern Ireland, and soon must be backed up
with hard facts if people are to feel involved in the process.
The sticking points have been well rehearsed over the years and
they are far from insubstantial. For a start, unionists need to
know that the IRA is standing down and has decommissioned all its
weaponry in as transparent manner as possible. Republicans have to
be assured that unionists are fully committed to power-sharing and
will agree to devolution of policing and justice powers within a
Big promises have been made about the IRA's future, which have
convinced the two governments but are too vague for the DUP. All is
dependent on a final agreement being reached, on all the
outstanding matters, so there is no certainty that anything can or
will be delivered.
The devil, as always, will be in the detail. Can the DUP's demand
for photographic evidence of decommissioning be met, or will they
accept the word of churchmen? What proof will there be that all
weapons have been dealt with?
Similarly, can Sinn Fein be guaranteed that power-sharing will be
honoured and that all the Good Friday Agreement institutions will
survive any upsets? What is the timetable for the transfer of
policing powers, and will the DUP insist on them supporting the
police in advance?
These are crucial issues, even before the DUP's requirement of more
accountability for ministers in the executive is addressed.
Experience has shown that the executive must act more like a
coalition government, yet finding common ground has been
An all-inclusive agreement within days may be impossible, but the
progress made so far suggests that the high- pressure negotiations
have been worthwhile. The governments must keep them going, with as
much transparency as possible to instil public confidence.
Sinn Fein's US Earnings Revealed
Adams was paid $$40,000 for two speaking dates, new figures show
By Sean O'Driscoll
18 November 2004
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams made nearly $$40,000 for his party
from two US speaking engagements last March, figures released by
the US Treasury Department have shown.
The money is part of nearly $$600,000 earned by the party in the
six months up to the start of May.
Mr Adams picked up $$18,750 from a professional speaker's company,
the Washington Speakers Bureau, who hired him to speak at
Quinnipiac University on Monday, March 15.
The next day, Mr Adams made $$20,000 for the party from a speaking
engagement at Notre Dame University in Indiana.
The speech was delivered to students attending the Keogh Institute
for Irish Studies.
After the two university speeches in March, Mr Adams flew to
Washington for St Patrick's Day celebrations at the White House.
The speaking circuit has proved very lucrative for the party.
Last year, Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness earned $$10,000 for the
party from a speech at the College of St Rose in Albany.
The latest figures, given to the Treasury Department by the US
fund-raising group, Friends of Sinn Fein, to comply with the
Foreign Agents Registration Act, show that the party also received
tens of thousands of dollars from US unions.
Donations included $$5,000 each from the International Association
of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, the Southern
California District Council of Laborers and the Laborers'
International Union of North America.
A number of Laborers' groups also made donations, including
$$15,000 from the Midwest Region Laborers' Political League,
$$5,000 from the Laborers' Political League in Washington.
A number of political campaigns also gave smaller contributions,
including $$250 each from the Committee to Elect Steven Tolman to
Congress and $$250 from the Committee to Elect Robert Creedon to
State, both in Massachusetts.
The party also collected donations from businesses, including
$$5,000 each from Island Architectural Woodwork in Ronkonkoma, New
York, and Eurotech in New York city.
The $$20,000 earned for Mr Adams' speech at Notre Dame was the
largest single contribution in the six month period.
The Irish Institute was set up by former Coca-Cola chief, Donald
Keough, who has been a strong Sinn Fein backer and chaired a fund-
raising event in Atlanta two years ago that raised more than
$$100,000 for the party.
He donated $$10,000 to the party at the same event, while Coca-Cola
The Treasury Department accounts also show that Friends of Sinn
Fein sent $$359,867.93 to the party back in Ireland, $$111,313.41
of which was spent on printing costs, $$112,003 on construction,
$$55,576 on research and $$24,962 on advertising.
Desperation Gone From Irish Negotiations
By David McKittrick
The sword of Damocles has gone from Northern Ireland. Even if the
present political talks should break down amid rancor and
bitterness, no eruption of large-scale violence will follow.
Instead there will simply be, in due course, yet another round of
negotiation, probably after a May general election. And if this
round of talks does not work, the next one probably will.
This is negotiation at a snail's pace. But the prevailing emotion
is one of frustration rather than desperation; it used to be that
lives could depend on the outcome, but nobody believes that any
more. Fringe groups remain an unpredictable menace, but the Irish
Republican Army is not going back to war and now the Ulster Defense
Association, the largest of the loyalist outfits, has begun to
think deeply about its future.
Many groups and individuals who once opposed the peace process have
come to appreciate its benefits and the transformation it has
brought to Northern Ireland, even if the peace is imperfect. United
Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said as much when he visited
Belfast last month and declared: "Your efforts to create a better
world for your children have been a source of inspiration and hope
to people in many other countries.
"The world can learn from your commitment, courage and imagination
in seeking solutions and fostering trust between communities which
had been at loggerheads for decades." Annan went on to deliver a
warning that peace processes can run out of steam, with more than
half of them collapsing within five years while others "fall into a
sort of limbo of no war, no peace."
In Belfast, however, there is little sense that things face either
collapse or a lurch into limbo. It may be dangerous complacency,
but most feel a political deal to seal the peace is inevitable at
In practical terms, this means clinching a deal between the
champions of Unionism and nationalism, that is the Rev. Ian
Paisley's Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein. The Paisley party, to
resort to another classical allusion, crossed a Rubicon when it
engaged with Sinn Fein -- not face-to-face but via the British and
Irish government -- on the shape of a new deal.
The DUP wants IRA arms decommissioning and assurances that the IRA
will go out of business; republicans in return want assurances that
the DUP will form a government with Sinn Fein.
In mid-September, British Prime Minister Tony Blair thought an
understanding could be reached within weeks but agreement has
proved elusive. The IRA reportedly would allow clergymen to witness
weaponry being put beyond use; the DUP wants photographic evidence
The government longs for an acceptable bargain to be struck as
quickly as possible, but having led the two horses to water, it
cannot make them drink. The republicans are up for a deal but the
DUP is less easy to fathom.
This is the DUP's first taste of negotiation at the highest level,
having taken over as the principal voice of Unionism just a year
ago. There is much speculation about the state of opinion within
One nationalist said: "We hear that one lot wants to do a deal now,
another lot will do a deal but only after the election, and a third
lot doesn't want to do a deal at all." But much of that is
guesswork, and critically no one is sure which way Paisley himself
A decision on his part to delay until next year would, however, be
unsurprising, given all his decades of obstruction and protest.
He and his party have learned much from David Trimble's experience
in negotiating with republicans. They have learned that every last
detail of any accord has to be nailed down, with no room for
They have also learned from republicans, for like them the DUP is
on a journey from the politics of automatic opposition to a new
phase of negotiation.
Republicans showed that caution and time might be needed to bring
the more militant grass roots along on an odyssey. The DUP may well
conclude that a year as the top dogs in Unionism has not been long
enough to accustom its own militants to the realities of the peace
Besides, the DUP and Sinn Fein both believe that the next
Westminster election will strengthen their hands. The two parties
grow with each election, and they look forward to taking
Westminster seats from their rivals.
Those rivals, David Trimble's Ulster Unionists and the moderate
nationalist Social Democratic and Labor Party, have been weakened
in successive elections and everyone expects them to slump further
next time round. If they continue on their downward trend, the DUP
and Sinn Fein will have confirmed themselves as the only two
parties who really count.
At that point, everyone would have to acknowledge that the only
alternatives are either to remain locked in sterile confrontation
or to start governing the country. And the DUP, once established at
the head of government, is likely to be there permanently. That
would be great news for the DUP as a party, but it could happen
only if it reaches accommodation with republicans.
And that would be great news for everyone else, for it would mean
that the gun had gone from politics.
This column was first published in The Independent in Britain.
Councillors Row Over 'Terrorist' Tag
18 November 2004
An Ulster Unionist councillor in Antrim has questioned the
credibility of holding a major conference for the former men of
violence in Northern Ireland.
Organised by the Irish government and the Community Foundation, the
event was held in Dublin Castle earlier this week.
Antrim Council was contacted by the organisers last week, but the
invitation to attend was greeted by open hostility on unionist
Councillor Stephen Nicholl was particularly incensed at the
description of the jailed combatants as 'political prisoners'.
"There are no political prisoners in Northern Ireland," he said.
"There are terrorists and criminals."
Sinn Fein's Martin Meehan, who served time in the Maze, was among
the speakers at the conference - and he was quick to challenge the
UUP man's definition of terror.
"What about the UDR?" he shouted, before Mayor Bobby Loughran
intervened and drew the exchanges to an abrupt close.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Meehan defended the conference - and
castigated his critics.
"This is a vital part of conflict resolution, and if people like
Stephen Nicholl resent that then that's their problem," he said.
"I believe it's very positive that former combatants can come
together to discuss the conflict and examine the options for the
"Let's not forget that the prisoners have been the engine which has
driven this peace process on.
"Remember that Nelson Mandela, George Washington and Yassar Arafat
were all considered terrorists at one time, but are now considered
Mr Meehan also insisted that his reference to the UDR was "valid
"A total of 41 UDR men were convicted of murder during the
conflict, though they were never classed as terrorists," he said.
Huge SDLP Spend On Election Failure
By Chris Thornton
18 November 2004
The SDLP spent more than a quarter of all money laid out on last
year's Assembly election, a final report on campaign spending said
The party - which lost six seats from its 1998 total - spent over
£400,000 during the November campaign, out of more than £1.5
million spent by all candidates and parties.
By contrast, Sinn Fein's spending came in more than £100,000 below
any of the other main parties.
According to the Electoral Commission report, Sinn Fein's combined
spending - including central party funds and expenditure by
individual candidates - was less than half of the SDLP's bill.
The latest report by the Electoral Commission has a comprehensive
rundown of spending by all candidates in the November 2003
The report shows a gap of more than £120,000 between Sinn Fein and
the next lowest party, the DUP.
The SDLP spent the most, hitting £406,506 between its central party
coffers and spending by individual candidates.
The UUP spent £348,792 and the DUP spent £287,897.
Sinn Fein - which kept its central party outlay below £30,000 -
Most parties spent the bulk of their central funds on advertising.
The UUP spent £109,836 or 64.3% of its funds in this area, while
Sinn Fein spent 47.6%, or £13,700, and the SDLP spent £97,973 or
41.7% of its overall spend.
The DUP was the exception, spending 50.4% - more than £70,000 - of
its central funds on its manifesto and other documents. It had the
lowest relative advertising spend, putting in 19.2% - £28,353 - of
The DUP also spent the lowest proportion on media. This area ate up
almost one-third of the SDLP's spend - reaching £71,075 - compared
to 22.8% of Sinn Fein's and 9% of the UUP budget, or £34,369. The
DUP spent 0.8% on media.
The DUP led all parties on transport costs, putting almost one-
fifth of their budget on transportation. The other parties spent
less than 2% on transport.
Most parties appeared to target spending on seats where they
expected particularly close contests.
The biggest overall spending by an individual candidate was by Lord
Kilclooney, who spent £9,432.12 to keep his Strangford seat against
His running mate in the constituency, David McNarry, was also in
the top ten spenders.
Sinn Fein and the UUP each had three of the top ten individual
While high-spending tended to help candidates get elected, the
tactic did not work for Sinn Fein candidate Paul Butler, who spent
more than £8,000 to get elected in Lagan Valley.
Patricia Lewsley of the SDLP spent almost half that and still held
onto the seat.
Dr Eamon Deeny, who surprised the big parties by grabbing a seat in
West Tyrone by campaigning about the closure of Omagh Hospital, and
former UUP man Ivan Davis were the biggest spending independent
The report pinpointed a number of areas for improvement, which
include meeting statutory deadlines and a more accurate
categorisation of expenditure.
Karamjit Singh, Commissioner with special interest in Northern
Ireland affairs, was confident the problems could be addressed.
"The Commission believes that through its provision of guidance and
training, it can work closely with political parties, agents and
candidates to improve their understanding of the current
legislative requirements and ensure a consistency in the treatment
and reporting of candidates' election expenses," he said.
Top ten spending candidates
1. Lord Kilclooney* - UUP - Strangford £9,432.12
2. Ivan Davis - Ind - Lagan Valley £8,416.88
3. Paul Butler - SF - Lagan Valley £8,332.61
4. Philip McGuigan* - SF - North Antrim £7,671.04
5. Thomas Burns* - SDLP -South Antrim £7,658.62
6. Alex Maskey* - SF - South Belfast £7,408.23
7. Dermot Nesbitt* - UUP - South Down £7,293.67
8. David McNarry* - UUP - Strangford £7,267.46
9. Charles K Deeny* - Ind - West Tyrone £6,983.25
10. Frank McCoubrey - Ind - North Belfast £6,577.08
Average spend per candidate:
Sinn Fein Seeks Body For Truth And Reconciliation
18 November 2004
Sinn Fein's 'spokesperson on truth', North Antrim Assemblyman
Philip McGuigan, has called for an independent body to be set up to
investigate the issue of truth and reconciliation.
He said the Government "must come clean on its own role in the
conflict and engage in a genuine consultation."
Mr McGuigan added: "There is no evidence to support British
Government claims that they are engaged in a 'pre-consultation' on
the issue of truth. None of the victims' groups or individuals
active in this field has been consulted.
"This dishonesty is frustrating the clear need for an honest and
open debate about how we deal with the past. The truth is that the
British Government is a party to the conflict and as such has no
right to attempt to lead this process.
"No-one trusts that the British Government are entering into this
with good intentions.
"They continue to dodge the issue of collusion and have singularly
failed to accept or acknowledge their role in the conflict.
"The British Government should publicly acknowledge that as a
protagonist it needs to be engaging with others to find a way
forward on ways of dealing with the past. It is apparent to
everyone else that only an independent body would have any chance
of progressing this issue.
"It is clear that to date the British Government has not been
prepared to engage in an open honest debate and that there is no
confidence in any process they claim to be leading."