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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 19, 2004
News 11/19/04 - Parties Disagree On Arms & Devolution
News about Ireland & the Irish
IT 11/20/04 Parties Disagree On Linking Arms To Devolution
SF 11/19/04 Sinn Féin Will Not Accept Deal Outside Agreement
IO 11/19/04 'Progress' In NI Talks Lifts Hopes
BT 11/19/04 IRA Chief Too Ill For Tribunal
IO 11/19/04 'Minister Should Apologise For Overseas Aid Slur'
IO 11/19/04 Fire Bombs Found In City Centre Shops
IT 11/20/04 Dessie O'Hare Out On Four-Day Release V
UT 11/19/04 Birthistle Pride At Bloody Sunday Film
RT 11/19/04 Weekend In The Woods
Weekend In The Woods - A report on a course in woodland skills in
Bealkelly woods in Co Clare
Parties Disagree On Linking Arms To Devolution
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
New details began to emerge yesterday of the blueprint for
progress in the peace process presented to the Northern parties by
the British and Irish governments this week.
As the parties study the unpublished document, disagreement between
Sinn Féin and the DUP over linking IRA decommissioning to the
formation of a shadow Executive and Assembly is one of the main
obstacles to restoring devolution, according to informed sources.
Republicans in particular are concerned that in the initial stages
of what the governments hope will be a sequenced deal Sinn Féin and
the IRA will be seen to be taking too much of the "pain" while the
DUP will be making the "gain", The Irish Times has learned.
A key difficulty here is that as well as being required to make
firm commitments to decommission fully and end activity the IRA is
expected to allow independent Catholic and Protestant Church
witnesses oversee IRA disarmament and provide future visual
evidence of it.
Republicans want a more "balanced" sequencing arrangement whereby
the IRA would begin but not complete decommissioning and thereafter
the DUP would agree to nominate ministers to a shadow Northern
Executive, it is understood.
In turn, the IRA would be expected to make a commitment to complete
decommissioning before full devolution is restored, possibly by the
end of the year or in January, to allow for the formal restoration
of the Executive and Assembly by February or March.
Republicans argue that it is necessary that the DUP should agree to
the creation of a shadow Executive before disarmament is completed
so that it is clear that the DUP and republicans are demonstrating
their bona fides to each other, sources said.
The main question is whether the DUP can be persuaded to join a
shadow Executive before decommissioning is concluded.
"The problem is centred around both parties building up mutual
trust, and at the moment Sinn Féin is arguing that initially at
least, in terms of movement, it is one-way traffic in the DUP's
favour," explained one source.
Another significant difficulty is the DUP requirement for some
future photographic evidence of decommissioning. The governments
believe this is necessary to persuade the DUP leader, the Rev Ian
Paisley, to sign off on a deal.
Dublin and London are examining a number of possibilities that
would meet the DUP requirement but would not be seen as an attempt
to humiliate republicans.
One possibility is that the photographic evidence would only be
produced in private to a limited number of unionists, and only
after it was clear that the DUP was fully committed to power-
Republicans have rejected this request, it is understood, although
Dublin and London hope they will change their mind. The republican
offer of allowing a Protestant and Catholic Church representative
to join decommissioning chief, Gen John de Chaste-lain, in
overseeing future acts of disarmament still holds, it is believed.
There are also problems over how and when responsibility for
policing and criminal justice would be devolved to the Executive
While there is continuing talk of slippage in these discussions
beyond next Friday's effective deadline for agreement, senior
sources said the governments were determined not to allow this
process become bogged down in interminable bickering over
In the coming days of intensive discussions Sinn Féin and the DUP
will be seeking clarification from Dublin and London on these and
Sinn Féin leaders such as Mr Gerry Adams and Mr Martin McGuinness
briefed TDs, Assembly members and senior party officers on the
Irish-British paper in Dublin and Belfast yesterday while Dr
Paisley consulted with his Assembly members at Stormont.
Frank Millar, London Editor, adds: The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern,
insisted last night that the current negotiations could continue
beyond the end of this month. At the University of London last
night, the Taoiseach said the current talks would produce "a
complete agreement or no agreement".
Mr Ahern refused to say if he was optimistic or pessimistic. "I
would be hoping we at least get to conclusions. I would hope they
would be positive."
© The Irish Times
Sinn Féin Will Not Accept Deal Outside Agreement
Published: 19 November, 2004
Responding to remarks made by Mark Durkan alleging that Sinn Féin
will accept less than the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Féin National
Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said:
"The SDLP record in defence of the Good Friday Agreement is
abysmal. The SDLP have already collapsed on policing, acquiesced to
the British government on suspension legislation, they have
supported the IMC and sanctions against the Sinn Féin electorate,
and proposed that government departments should be run by British
appointed quangos all of which are entirely outside the terms of
"Sinn Féin will not countenance any deal which is not firmly rooted
in the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement. Nationalists know
that the Sinn Féin negotiation team will be resolute in defending
their rights and entitlements and in defending the Good Friday
'Progress' In NI Talks Lifts Hopes
Northern Ireland's politicians were tonight preparing for another
week of intense negotiations as hopes of a significant peace
process breakthrough rose.
Sources close to the talks to revive power sharing at Stormont said
progress was being made in bridging the gaps between the Reverend
Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin.
But they also insisted: "Everything is at a delicate stage right
"That's why the DUP and Sinn Féin are anxious to play everything
publicly close to their chest. One wrong phrase and it could all go
After Mr Paisley reported on British and Irish proposals to revive
Stormont to the DUP Assembly team, party chairman Maurice Morrow
said their MLAs believed the talks had advanced.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA confirmed: "At a full meeting of
the DUP Assembly Group this morning, there was a unanimous positive
reaction to the report by the party leader on the negotiations.
"The Assembly Group welcomed and commended the efforts of the
party's senior negotiators to date and offered its continued
"Members recognise that significant progress has been made in the
days and weeks since Leeds Castle and that there is still work
"The team will be working tomorrow to provide the (British)
government with a detailed analysis of outstanding issues that need
to be resolved."
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams today also updated party colleagues
on the state of the talks.
The West Belfast MP met Sinn Féin's national officer board and its
He also travelled to west Belfast to join chief negotiator Martin
McGuinness and Mitchel McLaughlin tonight for a briefing of Sinn
Féin's Assembly Group.
It is understood the Democratic Unionists are still anxious to pin
down republicans on a proposed IRA disarmament move.
The DUP has been pressing for decommissioning to be more
transparent, with possibly photographic or video evidence to
increase confidence in the unionist community.
The party has also been focusing on the timescale for the rolling
out of a deal.
"If republicans had their way, this would all be done in five
minutes and if the DUP had its way it would all be done in five or
six months," a talks source said.
"The exact time frame has to be pinned down."
Republicans have also been pressing for greater clarity, with the
party anxious to ensure there is no watering down in the powers of
devolved ministers and the cross border bodies.
As the DUP and Sinn Féin considered how to get the best deal for
them, Democratic Unionist MEP Jim Allister reaffirmed in a speech
in Belfast the party's need for paramilitaries to abandon violence.
He said: "Here in Ulster we are still enduring political
"Our children and families are continuing to suffer at the hands of
"It is the responsibility of those who continue to use the
apparatus of terror to brutalise our children and families to put
away their guns and bombs in an open and trust-building way.
"The families and children of today and tomorrow demand nothing
Nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan tonight said it was clear the
DUP was close to getting a very good deal for them which could be
bad for the overall political process.
The Foyle Assembly member said: "It is clear that a very good deal
is on offer for the DUP.
"They have been able to get a triple veto - a veto on who
nationalist ministers can be, a veto on any more North-South co-
operation, a veto on any target for achieving the devolution of
"The fact is under these proposals Martin McGuinness would not have
been Minister for Education. He would have been vetoed by unionism.
"When we negotiated the Agreement, we insisted that every party
appoint to ministerial office in accordance with its democratic
mandate, but now the DUP has been given the last word on
"That is a dangerous shift.
"Sinn Féin says that this proposal will not cause them too much
heartache but the notion that the DUP can veto the appointment of
nationalist ministers will give many a heart attack."
IRA Chief Too Ill For Tribunal
Former leader of Officials will not testify to inquiry
By Ciaran O'Neill
19 November 2004
The Bloody Sunday Inquiry today confirmed that the leader of the
Official IRA in Londonderry in 1972 will not give evidence to the
tribunal next week.
John White had been due to appear at the Guildhall on Monday when
the inquiry reconvenes for what is expected to be its final
However, Mr White's legal representative informed the inquiry this
week that he will not be able to attend due to ill health.
His solicitor said Mr White was extremely disappointed he could not
attend the hearing as he had voluntarily agreed to give evidence in
public about his role on Bloody Sunday.
It was the second time that he has had to pull out of appearing at
the inquiry due to ill health.
Whether or not the former Official IRA man will give evidence at a
later date today remained unclear.
The inquiry was set up in 1998 to examine the events of January 30,
1972, when 13 civilians were shot dead by soldiers during a civil
rights march in Derry. Another man died later from his injuries.
Official IRA men at the time of the Bloody Sunday have already told
the inquiry that they fired a number of shots at soldiers.
However, the witnesses claimed that they only opened fire after
shots were first fired by soldiers.
Next week's hearings will be taken up by the closing speech by
Counsel to the Inquiry, Christopher Clarke QC.
The speech, which is expected to last two days, will provide a
brief outline of the main sections of evidence, the important
issues facing the tribunal's chairman Lord Saville and his two
colleagues and the possible conclusions they could come to.
But an inquiry spokesman added: "This final report by Counsel will
not purport to be a summary of every piece of evidence or every
possible conclusion or analysis and in writing their report the
Tribunal may or may not agree with its contents as they see fit."
The final report by Lord Saville is not expected to be made public
until late next year.
'Minister Should Apologise For Overseas Aid Slur'
Opposition parties today demanded a Government minister publicly
apologise for questioning the integrity of overseas aid agencies.
Political rivals branded Conor Lenihan's comments "offensive" after
he stressed that value for money was a core issue when questioned
on promises to meet UN targets in overseas assistance.
"The people who give money to some of these charities should look
at how much is spent on advocacy as opposed to what goes directly
to the Third World," said the minister with responsibility for
"We are focusing on getting value for money for the tax payer. Lots
of people make allegations about misappropriation in the Third
World and we have to be very careful that the money we give is
The comments sparked uproar amongst opposition TDs who claimed he
was trying to divert attention from the Government's apparent
decision to renege on its promise to donate 0.7% GNP in overseas
aid by 2007.
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman Michael D Higgins said Mr
Lenihan had appeared to imply development aid was in some way
"Increasing public awareness of conditions in the developing world
is a perfectly legitimate - indeed necessary - part of the work of
NGOs like Trocaire, Concern and Oxfam," he said.
"Without this work there would be far less public awareness of the
extent of poverty and deprivation and indeed without this work it
is unlikely that the Government would ever have been forced to make
the commitment to meet the UN target in the first place."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on international affairs, Aengus O Snodaigh,
called on Mr Lenihan to publicly apologise for his "discourteous,
combative and offensive" remarks made on RTE's Morning Ireland
"This was an outrageous and slanderous attempt to take the focus
off the Government's failure to live up to the solemn pledge it
made to the worlds poorest people in 2000, again in 2002, and as
recently has October 19 of this year," he said.
"Minister Lenihan should be ashamed of himself. He should
immediately retract and publicly apologise for his remarks, which
could have a seriously negative impact on the work of these
agencies and their ability to raise funds from the public."
The Government has come under fierce attack since it revealed it
was unlikely to meet overseas aid commitments made to the UN four
In the Book of Estimates, finance minister Brian Cowen announced
that Official Development Assistance would reach Â535m next year,
the highest amount ever allocated in the history of the aid
But even by increasing Ireland's allocation by an additional Â65m
in 2006, and the same again in 2007, it is unlikely to meet the
Mr Lenihan said that while the Government was not in line to
achieve its goal, it was certainly heading towards it.
He said the Taoiseach had set a "very ambitious" target but Ireland
was still way ahead of the European average.
Fire Bombs Found In City Centre Shops
19/11/2004 - 18:41:19
Fears that dissident republicans are planning a pre-Christmas fire
bombing blitz intensified tonight with the discovery of two
incendiary devices in Belfast.
The fire bombs were discovered in the Big W store at Yorkgate in
the north of the city and the Marks and Spencer store at Donegall
Place in the city centre.
The Big W store had been cleared on Thursday after reports that a
device had been planted.
Nothing was found but after a telephoned warning today, a viable
incendiary device was found.
Later, a similar device was found at Marks and Spencer. Both items
have been taken away for forensic examination.
A police spokeswoman urged shopkeepers to search their premises for
any suspicious items and to contact police immediately if anything
She also called on shoppers to be vigilant and report anything
suspicious to police.
It was the third incendiary device to be discovered in Belfast this
On Wednesday a crude device was found in a paint and wallpaper shop
in North Street.
The security alert caused major disruption as the area remained
sealed off for around four hours.
See video at:
Dessie O'Hare Out On Four-Day Release -V
The former leader of the INLA and so-called Border Fox, Dessie
O'Hare, was released from prison on temporary release on Wednesday
O'Hare will return to Castlerea Prison, Co Roscommon, after his
period of release ends on Sunday. It is his first unsupervised
period of release, a strong indication that he is being prepared to
be set free permanently.
O'Hare is in his 17th year of a 40-year sentence, handed down in
1988 for the kidnapping of Dublin dentist Mr John O'Grady. He was
transferred from Portlaoise Prison to Castlerea two years ago.
He is housed in an area of the prison called the Grove. This is a
small development of seven houses inside the prison walls, but
separate from the main building.
In a letter to the Governor of Portlaoise Prison announcing
O'Hare's transfer to Castlerea in late 2002, a Department of
Justice official said that "an appropriate programme designed to
assess [O'Hare's] suitability and readiness for release should be
put in place from next July ". The decision to release him
rests with the Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell.
O'Hare was granted a short period of strictly supervised temporary
release last November. On that occasion he attended the Glencree
Centre for Reconciliation, Co Wicklow, and was driven to and from
the centre by prison staff. However, he was allowed to spend time
with his wife.
It was his first period of temporary release from prison.
Public reaction on that occasion was so strong that Mr McDowell
publicly denied media reports that O'Hare would be freed before the
end of last year. The latest development suggests that the Irish
Prison Service has begun to devise the closing stages of O'Hare's
However, it may be some time before the Parole Board reviews the
case again and a speedy full release from prison is unlikely.
© The Irish Times
Birthistle Pride At Bloody Sunday Film
An actress tipped for a bright future on the big screen today spoke
of her pride at being involved in a Jimmy McGovern scripted drama
on Bloody Sunday.
Dublin-born but Derry-raised Eva Birthistle was speaking at the
opening of the 17th annual Seagate Foyle Film Festival.
The star of Ken Loach`s acclaimed inter- racial movie, Ae Fond Kiss,
told PA she was proud of her involvement in the Channel 4 film
which dealt with one of Northern Ireland`s bloodiest and most
"Working on Sunday was one of the most incredible experiences I
have ever had especially as someone who was raised in Derry and
still has family there," she said.
"You were aware it was one of those films that was hugely important
and hugely emotional.
"I think Jimmy did a first class job on the screenplay.
"The measure of that was the impact it had on someone like Leo
Young who Ciaran McMenamin played in the film.
"I remember his sister, Maura saying Leo had not really talked that
much for 20, 25 years about everything that had happened to him and
when the film was made he started to open up.
"Some people said wasn`t it awful that there was another film, the
Jimmy Nesbitt film Bloody Sunday made but I disagree.
"Both those films helped people to deal with whathappened that
awful day. Both of them enabled people to burn off all the pain and
upset Bloody Sunday caused."
A total of 13 civilians died on Bloody Sunday when British soldiers
opened fire during a civil rights march.
An inquiry, under the chairmanship of Lord Saville of Newdigate,
has been taking place in the city`s Guildhall and in London.
Birthistle, who played Maura Young in `Sunday,` was in her home
town to get the Seagate Foyle Film Festival under way.
The festival which runs from November 19 to 28 has a diverse
programme of events and film premieres and gets under way tonight
with a screening of Richard Loncraine`s, My House In Umbria,
starring Maggie Smith and Ronnie Barker.
Other films receiving their premiere include the John Travolta
firefighting blockbuster, Ladder 49; cult director Jim Jarmusch`s,
Coffee and Cigarettes, starring Bill Murray, Iggy Pop and Steve
Coogan and the biopic of Ray Charles, Ray, with Jamie Foxx in the
Belfast novelist Bernard MacLaverty has been lined up for a
workshop on adapting the written word for the big screen following
his Scottish Bafta Best New Director award for the 17 minute short
film, The Bye Child.
There will also be workshops on staging sword fights, animation,
low budget filmmaking and special effects.
There will also be a chance for would-be film stars in Londonderry
to get a screen test for the internationally renowned Hubbard
Commitments star Bronagh Gallagher has been lined up for a concert
at the festival club and also acclaimed singer-songwriter John
Some of the best new Irish movies including Lenny Abrahamson`, Adam
and Paul, and Alan Gilsenan`s dark road movie, Timbuktu, starring
Birthistle and Hothouse Flowers lead singer, Liam O Maonlai is also
"It`s quite a dark piece about an Irish girl whose brother is a
monk and is kidnapped in Morocco by a Jihad- style extremist group,"
"Alan has crafted a road movie in which the girl I play and her
transvestite friend, played by Karl Geary, go to Morocco in search
of her brother.
"My character also undergoes a voyage of self discovery. Alan`s a
wonderful director and he`s shot it quite beautifully.
"I`m delighted it is being screened here in Derry at the festival.
"The programme they have put together is terrific. There are some
remarkably good international films and the workshops are ideal for
anyone keen to break into the industry.
"It`s lovely being back home and catching up with family and
friends, especially after what has been a quite amazing year.
"Working with Ken Loach on Ae Fond Kiss was an incredible
experience in itself but to follow that with working with Neil
Jordan, Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy on Breakfast on Pluto and
other films like Click and Baby War is just great.
"It was also terrific to pick up Best Actress at the Irish Film and
"Before Ae Fond Kiss I was working sporadically. After the
premiere, the phone hasn`t stopped."