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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 - Spice In Top US Contract Row
News about Ireland & the Irish
BT 11/19/04 Killer's Former CO (Spicer) In Top US Contract Row
AN 11/19/04 Afghan Militants, Government Hopeful On Hostages
DJ 11/19/04 Speculation Causing Confusion - Warns McGuinness
UT 11/19/04 Party Leaders To Embark On Briefings
DJ 11/19/04 Editorial: Latest Impasse Entirely Predictable
NL 11/19/04 Mitchell's Peace Hopes
WT 11/19/04 Mrs. O'Leary's Cow: Not All Irish Eyes Are Smiling
DJ 11/19/04 Extradition Of UDA Suspects Never Sought
DJ 11/19/04 Rosemount Tower Must Go Too - Say Residents
DJ 11/19/04 Powers For Human Rights Commission
RT 11/19/04 Murdered Councillor's Family Lose Legal Battle
BT 11/19/04 Reprieve For Parties On Donor Disclosures
BT 11/19/04 Murphy Gets Orange Hall Cash Appeal
NL 11/19/04 Editorial: Moderates Are Marginalised By Peace Talks
BT 11/19/04 Eames Speaks Of Obligation To Help Over Decommissioning
CN 11/19/04 Birmingham Six Deserve Apology
NL 11/19/04 Firms Told To Stay Away From Ulster
TR 11/19/04 Celtic Law Society Symposium
UT 11/19/04 New Framework For Hillwalkers
Killer Guardsmen's Former CO In Top US Contract Row
By David Gordon
19 November 2004
The US government is standing by a massive contract deal with a
company headed by a former British Army officer who defended
soldiers found guilty of murder in Northern Ireland.
Tim Spicer was commander of the Scots Guards in 1992 when two of
its soldiers shot dead Belfast teenager Peter McBride.
Mark Wright and James Fisher were convicted of murder but were
reinstated to the regiment on their release from prison.
Spicer spoke up for the pair and had pressed for their release from
jail. He moved into the world of defence contracting on his
retirement from the Army.
A controversy erupted in the States earlier this year when his
company Aegis Defence Services was awarded a $$293m Government
contract to provide security services in Iraq.
US senators - including Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Democrat
presidential hopeful John Kerry - wrote to Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld and requested a rethink on the deal.
They cited his record in Northern Ireland, along with allegations
of involvement in illicit arms deals in Africa.
An admin wing of the US army has now replied to their demand and
defended the contract decision as "well founded".
Sandra Sieber, director of the US Army Contracting Agency, also
stated that it was "significant" that the British Government's
Ministry of Defence was told of the decision to award the contract
to Aegis and "did not object or advise".
Afghan Militants, Government Hopeful On Hostages
19 Nov 2004 07:34:00 GMT
By David Brunnstrom
KABUL, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Militants who claim to be holding three
U.N. workers hostage in Afghanistan said on Friday they hoped fresh
negotiations would succeed, while the government said it was making
gradual progress in efforts to free them.
Habib Noorzad, a member of the leadership council of Taliban
splinter faction Jaish-e Muslimeen, said intermediaries had
appealed to the group on Thursday not to harm the hostages from
Northern Ireland, Kosovo and the Philippines.
"Negotiations are under way and we are still hopeful they will
succeed," he said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
"We still hope our 26 jailed Taliban will be released and in
exchange we will free the hostages," he said.
Noorzad said the intermediaries had said they would deliver "an
important message" on Friday, but he did not elaborate.
Government spokesman Jawed Ludin said progress to free the hostages
was being made "slowly but gradually".
"Day by day there is progress being made and we have reason to be
optimistic," he said, although he declined to give details.
The U.N. workers -- Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland, Kosovan
Shqipe Hebibi and Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan -- were abducted
by gunmen in Kabul on Oct. 28 after helping run presidential
elections won by U.S.-backed incumbent Hamid Karzai.
There has been confusion over who is holding the trio since the
government said on Wednesday it did not believe they were with
Jaish-e Muslimeen ((Army of Muslims), which has threatened to kill
them unless Taliban prisoners are freed.
Jaish insists it has the hostages and said it had allowed Flanigan
to phone her husband on Thursday to prove she was alive.
The United Nations declined to comment on the report, sticking to a
policy of not commenting on the behind-the- scenes efforts to free
the three workers.
The phone call, if made, would have been the first direct news from
any of the hostages since the Kosovo woman and the Filipino man
were allowed to phone home early last week.
The Interior Ministry said on Wednesday the hostages were probably
being held by a criminal gang in Kabul or its vicinity, but the
kidnappers could be in contact with the Jaish militants.
Diplomats and security sources have speculated that Jaish may have
paid another group to carry out the abduction and be able to give
instructions to those who are holding them.
Some diplomats have speculated that the kidnapping could have been
the work of militiamen loyal to a rival of Karzai, disgruntled by
the outcome of the Oct. 9 election, who have tried to profit from
Authorities have been considering offering ransom for the three,
but Jaish has said it would not accept that.
The group has repeatedly threatened to kill the hostages but has
allowed successive deadlines to pass without apparent incident.
Speculation Causing Confusion - Warns McGuinness
Friday 19th November 2004
Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness has warned that much of the
speculation being put forward about the peace process is designed
to cause confusion and he is urging people to be circumspect.
His comments came after the two governments presented papers on the
way forward to the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Speaking exclusively to the "Journal" before he entered Downing
Street for a meeting with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Martin McGuinness said that a lot of the speculation that had
appeared was not based on fact.
He said: "I would urge everyone to be circumspect about some of the
reports circulating as this speculation is designed to cause
On yesterday's document put forward by the two governments as a way
forward Mr. McGuinness said: "We made it clear yesterday in our
meeting with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Minister of Foreign
Affairs Dermot Ahern that we were taking a positive attitude to the
outline for a comprehensive agreement presented to us.
"We also pointed out in detail that there are still matters to do
within the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and
issues that must be resolved. "That is why we spent so long in our
meeting with the Irish government and that is the purpose of our
meeting with Tony Blair today."
He continued: "All of this can be resolved in the governments are
genuinely committed tot he Good Friday Agreement.
"Sinn Fein remains focused on making progress and we will continue
in the short period ahead to try and secure the comprehensive
"It is my view that if this is done then there could be the basis
for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.'
Party Leaders To Embark On Briefings
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Democratic Unionist leader the Rev
Ian Paisley will embark on a series of briefings with party members
today on proposals to revive power sharing in Northern Ireland.
Mr Adams will meet members of Sinn Fein`s national officer board in
Dublin, kick-starting two days of briefings within the party on
proposals put to them by the British and Irish governments.
The briefings were scheduled as Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin
McGuinness claimed a defining moment in the talks was fast
With the DUP and Sinn Fein expected to reach a definitive position
on the proposals within the next nine days, Mid Ulster MP declared:
"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
Fein 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 10 days will tell the tale."
Mr Adams is also expected to brief Sinn Fein TDs (members of the
Irish Parliament) and senior activists in the party in Dublin at
He will then travel to Belfast to join fellow negotiators, Martin
McGuinness and Mitchel McLaughlin for a briefing of Sinn Fein
Assembly members in Belfast tonight.
The final key meeting within the party will take place in Co Louth
in the Irish Republic tomorrow when Mr McLaughlin will brief Sinn
Fein`s councillors and electoral representatives from across
Mr Paisley is also expected to meet the party`s Assembly members to
brief them on the latest proposals from London and Dublin.
British and Irish government officials had been hoping that their
formula for reviving power sharing and ending unionist concerns
about the IRA would have bridged the gap between the DUP`s and Sinn
However, both parties are believed to still have concerns about the
In particular, the DUP has been pressing for more clarity about how
the IRA will disarm in the future in a clearer and more verifiable
The party has also been seeking clarification on plans to transfer
policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont and also
has concerns about the timetable for the rolling out of any deal.
Sinn Fein is believed to have raised concerns about the future
operation of power sharing and in particular DUP attempts to make
ministers more accountable.
Republicans have also sought guarantees that the DUP will
faithfully implement power sharing and cross border institutions
and are also anxious to ensure policing and justice powers are
A proposal that the joint election of First and Deputy First
Ministers in the Assembly be replaced by a vote for the entire
power sharing government has also raised concerns among Mark
Durkan`s nationalist SDLP.
The Foyle Assembly member has said the proposal which has been
compared to the recent vote by MEPs for the entire European
Commission could be disrupted if the DUP objects to specific
nominations from Sinn Fein and the SDLP.
"It gives the DUP the ability to politically vet nationalist
ministers," Mr Durkan claimed ahead of a briefing of his own
Assembly party today.
"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 Fein will pass up
a photo opportunity."
Editorial: Latest Impasse Entirely Predictable
Friday 19th November 2004
Nationalists and republicans will interpret the DUP's insistence on
a "transparent" or "visual" aspect to IRA decommissioning not as a
reasonable request for further verification of the process, but as
an attempt to see the surrender and humiliation of the
Who does the DUP think it's kidding if it seriously believes that
the IRA will, on Ian Paisley's insistence, authorise some sort of
photographic or pictorial record of its weapons being put beyond
Republicans understandably believe the DUP is more interested in
victory than peace and power sharing.
This latest crisis was entirely predictable. After all, every one
of the previous hitches in the process has been about Unionist
reluctance to accept IRA assurances about decommissioning.
It was likely, therefore, that this would again be the stumbling
block this time.
Likewise, the public is sick and tired of finger pointing politics.
The blame game must end and parties must face their
responsibilities. Otherwise public confidence in the political
process can neither be sustained nor strengthened.
Sinn Fein never ceases to point fingers at unionists and the
British Government blaming each in turn for the Assembly's
suspension. On the other hand, unionists blame Sinn Fein and the
IRA with similar accusations and then blame each other.
For Sinn Fein to indicate that the IRA is not ready for further
acts of decommissioning because of what the British Government has
not yet done, or because loyalists haven't moved, or because
unionists are not one hundred per cent for the Agreement is to
avoid their own responsibilities.
There is huge frustration and growing anger among people at the
failure to make the expected progress towards full implementation
of the Good Friday Agreement.
The future promised by the Good Friday Agreement is a future in
which paramilitaries have no place and no role. It is a future free
from the threat of violence. This future, however, will not exist
if paramilitaries continue to hold onto huge stores of arms - no
matter how silent they are.
Six years after the Good Friday Agreement was signed is more than
long enough for paramilitaries to meet the commitments contained in
the Agreement to an "exclusively democratic and peaceful society"
and to decommission.
Trust between the parties will only grow from the confidence that
all aspects of the Agreement will be implemented.
There must be no further delay, therefore, in making it clear
whether paramilitaries are going to fulfil their commitments or
Paramilitaries, republican and loyalist, have to recognise that the
will of the overwhelming majority of people in Ireland is for a
future free from the threat of the very existence of such
On a similar vein, unionists have to recognise that only
partnership can form the basis to our political institutions and
that North-South institutions are a significant and key element of
the Good Friday Agreement.
However, it is overly simplistic, indeed foolish, to blame the IRA
for all the difficulties currently plaguing the peace process.
The real crisis for many is the widely held belief that unionists
do not want to share power with nationalists, particularly Sinn
Indeed, many are convinced that unionists are endeavouring to turn
the peace process into a surrender process.
One only has to view the record to realise that the IRA never
responds to the pressure of deadlines and ultimatums - particularly
those set by unionists.
Whether you like it or not, the IRA's ceasefire has been, to a
large extent, disciplined.
And yet, there are people who, while refusing to share government
with republicans, remain strangely silent in the face of ongoing
There has been so much attention to the issue of IRA guns in recent
months that any outside observer may be excused for thinking that
republicans are the only people in possession of illegal weapons.
It is, therefore, high time that an equal emphasis was placed on
the necessity for the decommissioning of loyalist paramilitary
Indeed, the only shots being fired in Northern Ireland in recent
times were those resulting from feuds between loyalist
In spite of this, however, some unionists - brazenly outspoken in
their demands for Sinn Fein to be banished to the political
wilderness as a result of the decommissioning impasse - appear
somewhat reticent in calling for the political ostracisation of the
representatives of those loyalist parties with acknowledged links
to loyalist paramilitaries. Such posturing stinks of double
From a nationalist perspective, unionists appear not to
acknowledge, let alone appreciate, the giant political and
constitutional steps taken in recent years by Sinn Fein and the
SDLP and endorsed by the overwhelming majority of people within
their tradition in both parts of Ireland.
Just for the record, these steps - and, make no mistake about it,
they have been many and considerable - include the acceptance of
the principle of consent to any change in the status of Northern
Ireland, the establishment of a locally- elected Assembly, as well
as amendments to Articles Two and Three of the Republic's
Unionist failure to acknowledge the historic significance of these
central elements of the Agreement, and their concentration, almost
exclusively, on IRA decommissioning has contributed to the ongoing
atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion.
It is no exaggeration to suggest, as some have, that some unionists
appear to want an each way bet on the peace process.
Indeed, their behaviour in recent times has led nationalists and
republicans to question his true motives.
What we require from our politicians is leadership. People have to
have confidence in the political process. Without it, we play
straight into the hands of violent elements.
Central to our future is the Good Friday Agreement which remains
the only framework allowing relationships at the heart of our
conflict to develop in a spirit of mutual respect and acceptance.
No other framework is likely to be agreed to enable unionists and
nationalists to fully assert their identities and allegiances in a
context of equality and parity of esteem. It remains the only way
All those who signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, no matter
what their differences are, must continue to support it in all its
In Northern Ireland the devil is always in the detail - this week
has, once again, proved to be no exception.
Mitchell's Peace Hopes
By Simon Hunter
Friday 19th November 2004
The man who brokered the Good Friday Agreement was in Belfast
yesterday and believes Northern Ireland is on the verge of a huge
Senator George Mitchell was taking part in the Community
Foundation's 25th birthday celebrations and he hopes the current
political climate can move on towards a lasting peace.
The former Maine Senator sees Sinn Fein heading to Downing Street
as a great opportunity.
"Beginning with the talks at Leeds Castle in September, and
continuing up to this moment, the governments and the parties have
worked hard and are on the verge of what I think would be a major
step forward. "I would hope very much that they would seize the
opportunity and take that step forward."
Mr Mitchell realises Northern Ireland hasn't reached peace yet but
the signs are good.
"It is obvious - especially to someone who comes as regularly as I
do but isn't here all the time - that there has been tremendous
progress. The rate of killing is way down which is of paramount
There remains an unacceptably high level of non-lethal violence and
mistrust remains but, on the whole, I think it is undeniable that
life is better, safer, more secure, that society is more prosperous
than it was even a decade ago and certainly more than it was during
the time of the Troubles."
Mr Mitchell also praised his hosts, the Community Foundation.
"I think this celebration is something significant because the
Community Foundation has functioned for a quarter of a century
through good times and bad. Particularly through the difficult part
when it encouraged people to engage in crosscommunity acts.
"I became aware of them shortly after I first came here 10 years
ago. I think they are good for the community and hope they extend
Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
Inside the Beltway
By John McCaslin
One thing is clear: Not All Irish Eyes Are Smiling.
Our latest saga from the old sod begins with Irish Prime Minister
Bertie Ahern praising the outcome of November's U.S. presidential
race, saying "had Sen. [John] Kerry been elected, U.S.
multinationals abroad would be subject to a new taxation, which
would have had a significant impact on the Irish economy."
While expressing his congratulations and support for President
Bush, Mr. Ahern also stressed: "We will always have a special
relationship with the Democratic Party, and that will continue."
No, says one leading Democrat and in no uncertain terms.
"Bertie is kissing George Bush's [posterior]," Stella O'Leary of
the Irish American Democrats lobbying group doesn't mind saying in
the Irish Echo newspaper. "Ireland is not, and could never be, so
desperate as to compromise, to suck up to George Bush."
Only yesterday, this column reported that the Irish American Unity
Conference accepted the resignation of Tom Madigan as its press
coordinator after he had labeled the newly re-elected Mr. Bush a
"chimp" and "stupid little twit."
Â John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be
reached at 202/636-3284 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Extradition Of Suspects Never Sought
Friday 19th November 2004
The extradition of three UDA men who were arrested outside Derry in
February 1973 and who were suspects in the murder of Oliver Boyce
and Brid Porter on January 1 that year was never sought by the
This was revealed this week when another portion of Judge Barron's
report into bombings and killings in the Republic was released.
Among the incidents examined by Judge Barron were the 1973 murders
of the Donegal couple whose bodies were found on the Glenn Road
outside Burnfoot. Both victims had been shot and stabbed.
In his report Judge Barron revisits the killings and concludes that
whoever killed the couple had in all probability had connections
with the UDA.
The Judge reviewed evidence found at the scene including the
finding of several bullet cases and blood stains near where the
bodies were found.
The report reveals that some six weeks after the killings on
February 20 three men were stopped at an RUC checkpoint at Drumahoe
and one of them, a Robert Daly, was found to be in possession of a
.32 pistol. which he claimed to have owned for about 8 months.
After a search of the flat where the men lived a knife was found
which one of the men, Robert Little, admitted belonged to him.
On February 22 a member of the Gardai Ballistics Section travelled
to Belfast to witness tests on the .32 pistol found on Robert Daly
bringing with him one of the bullets recovered from the murder
The report notes 'he was satisfied both bullets were fired from the
The knife found in the flat was also examined by he pathologist who
performed the post mortem on the Donegal victims and he concluded
that it could have caused the stab wounds 'taking into account the
length and depth of the blade and the dimensions of the wounds.'
When interviewed about having the weapon Daly admitted owning the
pistol for about 8 months and said no one else had it but towards
the end of his interview Daly claimed that the weapon had been left
in a dustbin for three or four weeks prior to his arrest.
The three were questioned about the killings and one of them said
he had been at a club in Antrim with his wife and claimed he had
had to sign a register but this was found to be false.
Little denied all knowledge of the murder and claimed he had been
at home with his mother.
Gardai investigating the murders had been told by witnesses of four
men who had entered the North Pole bar at around 9.30 p.m. on New
Year's Eve and then left without ordering drinks.
After the arrest of the three in the North and a fourth man, Robert
Taylor, Gardai showed photographs of them to witnesses and one of
the witnesses picked out Little, Taylor and Daly as three of the
four who had entered the North Pole bar.
Robert Taylor made a statement implicating himself an others in the
murders of the Donegal couple and was extradited to the South but
was cleared after a trial.
The other three were charged with weapon offences in the North and
so could not be extradited until those offences had been dealt
In June 1978 after the three had served their sentences in the
North Gardai in Donegal asked the State Solicitor for advice on
whether they should pursue the extradition of the three suspects.
The request was passed to the DPP and a memo dated June 15
recommended that they should not be extradited.
The Barron report noted that no formal decision appears to have
been made and in December 1979 the State Solicitor again requested
information but received no reply.
The report states: "No application to seek the extradition of the
other three suspects was ever made."
Tower Must Go Too - Say Residents
Friday 19th November 2004
If the Rosemount Barracks closes then the watchtower and all the
security paraphernalia has to go too, the Rosemount Anti-watchtower
Group said yesterday.
They were speaking after the PSNI said at a meeting of the local
DPP that they were 'actively considering' the closure of the
barracks in Rosemount.
The remarks were made after the Pat Finucane Centre asked: "On how
many occasions have members of the public called in person at
Rosemount Barracks to seek assistance and/or advice from October
2003 to October 2004? "
What is the annual cost of maintaining a base at Rosemount
including maintenance, security etc?"
In response Superintendent Richard Russell, of the PSNI said that
on average 12 people a year used the facility and that it cost
approximately £275,000 to run.
He then revealed that the closure of the barracks was being
Yesterday Cecil Hutcheon, a spokesperson for the Rosemount
Antiwatchtower Group, said that even if the barracks was to close
there was no guarantee that the controversial tower would go as
He said: "While we would welcome the removal of the barracks we are
concerned that there has been no mention of the removal of the
"This barracks is only manned for about 7 hours a day, from 9 a.m.
until 4 p.m., and is not really what our problem is.
"We object to the intrusion into the privacy of our lives that this
tower with its spy cameras and listening devices constitutes."
He continued: "So we want assurances that if the decision is taken
to close Rosemount barracks that they will close down the whole
security operation here including the tower.
"We want an end to this constant surveillance that we have been
subjected to for years.
We are not interested in some cosmetic gesture where they close the
barracks but leave the tower standing as they will still be able to
spy on people here.
"We want the barracks and the tower to go and the sooner the
Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney has also called for the immediate
closure of Rosemount barracks following the revelations.
Mr.McCartney stated: "This barracks has never served the people of
Rosemount or Creggan in the capacity of a policing facility but has
been a military installation used to spy on the Nationalist
"The revelations by the PSNI to questions submitted by the Pat
Finucane Centre that only about 12 people per year use the barracks
is testament to the support that the PSNI have in this area.
"The cost of keeping this barracks open is nearly £26,000 per
person which at a time when the British Government is cutting
community schemes to save money is absolutely ridiculous" "I am
calling for the immediate closure of the barracks and the return of
the land to be used for local community use."
Powers For Human Rights Commission
Friday 19th November 2004
Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney has called on the British
Government to introduce the proper range of powers required by the
Human Rights Commission.
The call comes in advance of hearings being carried by the United
Nations Committee on Torture this week which will scrutinise the
British Government's treaty obligations and in many instances, its
failure to comply with human rights and equality issues in the
North of Ireland.
Mr McCartney said: "It is unacceptable that six years after the
Good Friday Agreement was signed that that the Human Rights
Commission has again had to make representation to the United
Nations about the British Government's obstruction of its work by
its refusal to provide the Commission with the appropriate powers.
"Issues such as state collusion, the continuing use of non-jury
courts, plastic bullets and repressive legislation should have been
relegated to the dustbin as a result of the Good Friday Agreement.
Yet the British Government is eroding individual and collective
rights by maintaining them."
Mr McCartney went onto ask how a human rights commission can
protect human rights when its access is being blocked.
Murdered Councillor's Family Lose Legal Battle
19 November 2004 13:16
The family of a nationalist councillor murdered 30 years ago lost a
legal battle today to get an external police force to conduct a
fresh investigation into his death.
Patrick Kelly, 33, was murdered in July 1974 after locking up his
pub in Trillick in Co Tyrone.
His body was found three weeks later in Lough Eyes near Lisbellaw
in Co Fermanagh, with two 56lbs weights attached to it.
He had been shot a number of times and while a UDR unit was
suspected in the murder no one was ever charged with the killing.
His widow, Teresa, applied for a judicial review of a PSNI decision
not to appoint an external police force, as she believed there was
security force collusion in her husband's murder.
The application was dismissed in the High Court in Belfast today.
The Lord Chief Justice said there was ample reason for deep concern
about the adequacy of investigations into the death of Mr Kelly to
But he added that the new investigation, headed by a senior officer
from an English police force and assisted by PSNI officers, has the
capacity to fulfil the procedural requirements.
He noted none of the PSNI officers were in the force at the time of
Reprieve For Parties On Donor Disclosures
By Noel McAdam and David Gordon
19 November 2004
The Government has backtracked on plans to force Northern Ireland's
political parties to reveal their financial backers, the Belfast
Telegraph can reveal today.
The parties had been facing full disclosure from early next year -
bringing them into line with England, Scotland and Wales - but have
now won a two- year reprieve.
It means the veil of secrecy around donations cannot be lifted as
the exemption given solely to local parties because of intimidation
NIO Minister, John Spellar, said the Government remained determined
to achieve greater transparency - but the parties need more time to
It was also clear, he said, that concerns remain that donors whose
names become public could face intimidation.
And more work is needed on fund-raising in the Republic by Northern
Ireland political parties.
Mr Speller said the role of the Republic in the political life of
Northern Ireland needed to be examined before legislation could be
It is 20 months since the Government announced a review. In May Mr
Spellar said the Government was "minded" to remove the anonymity
provision for donors to Ulster parties.
He told Parliament the current arrangements were "open to abuse"
and create "clear differences" between parties here and the rest of
the UK along with the Republic.
Alliance party leader David Ford said today, however: "I am
surprised that the Government has failed to do anything. It is
"There is a problem if certain parties don't want some of their
donors revealed because they give very large sums."
SDLP MLA, John Dallat, said: "The concern is that business people
making donations could be targeted but I hope that can move quickly
to a situation where everyone was comfortable with open
"This would make it easier to trace a situation where someone was
handing over money in return for favours."
Independent Labour councillor, Mark Langhammer, said: "This is
clearly a sop to the parties by the Northern Ireland Office as it
tries to manufacture another unstable Stormont deal.
"The public has a right to know if anyone is helping to bankroll
the parties which would be in charge of government departments in a
Murphy Gets Orange Hall Cash Appeal
19 November 2004
A prominent Co Down Orangeman has accused the Government of double
standards in relation to funding handed out to community groups.
Dromore solicitor Drew Nelson made a case for more funding for
Orange lodges whose halls are used for community purposes when he
and other Orange officers met Secretary of State, Paul Murphy.
Mr Nelson claimed organisations linked to paramilitary groups were
more likely to get funding than organisations such as the Orange
He added: "We made it clear to the Secretary of State that groups
which are effectively fronts for paramilitary groups are met with
"The Government has given vast amounts of money to groups with
connections to paramilitaries in Protestant areas. We are asking
the Secretary of State to make it clear from the top down that a
change of attitude in this field is expected."
He raised the issue of rates levied on Orange halls and repeated
assertions that they were too high.
He said the main components of rates on buildings were bin
collection, water-use and road-use and he contended that Orange
halls were low users but were rated similar to other domestic
Mr Murphy's attention was also drawn to regulations regarding
New legislation was introduced ten years ago to prevent the
obstruction of carriageways but Mr Nelson claimed an exemption
should have been made in relation to traditional arches.
"The Secretary of State listened to the points raised but he didn't
give us any commitments," he said.
Editorial: Moderates Are Marginalised By Peace Talks
Friday 19th November 2004
The current political negotiations involving primarily the DUP and
Sinn Fein may be fine in that these parties represent the largest
blocs on the unionist and republican sides.
However, the Westminster and Irish governments, in great haste to
find a lasting agreement between two diametrically opposed
groupings, do need to avoid marginalising the Ulster Unionist
Party, the SDLP and Alliance in proposals under discussion.
Prime Minister Tony Blair personally handed senior DUP politicians
a weighty document at Downing Street in London and Irish premier
Bertie Ahern gave Sinn Fein leaders a similar attachment in Dublin.
The SDLP and Alliance were merely given briefings from Dublin civil
servants on the broad content of what is under negotiation.
And, as for the Ulster Unionist Party, its leader David Trimble and
MPs have had to content themselves with what they could glean from
sources at Westminster.
Whatever machinations lie behind Government's method of doing
business, it is simply not good enough that democraticallyelected
representatives of half of the population of Northern Ireland are
effectively kept in the dark on crucial negotiations concerning our
These Blair and Ahern-inspired shenanigans are certainly not
helpful in building broad political and community confidence!
Eames Speaks Of Obligation To Help Over Decommissioning
19 November 2004
The Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, has said
that the Churches will have a moral obligation to do what they can
to bring about peace if there was a request to help verify
Provisional IRA decommissioning.
Speaking before the launch of his biography at Queen's University,
Archbishop Eames said: "I do not know the details of any movement
on decommissioning and this is a matter for the politicians."
He added: "If there is a genuine request for Church involvement and
if there is no risk that the Churches would be used by any faction,
it could be a moral obligation to do what they could to bring about
the latest vital step in the peace process.
Archbishop Eames' biography ,Nobody's Fool, by Belfast Telegraph
religion correspondent Alf McCreary was launched yesterday in the
university's Canada Room.
Birmingham Six Deserve Apology
Nov 19 2004
The Government was challenged yesterday 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 did 161 2 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
Mr Walker said the Government had not apologised for their years of
"I felt sorry for what happened in Birmingham that night but people
must remember I did 161 2 years in prison for something I did not
do," he added.
He was speaking following a report that a Sinn Fein official had
called on the IRA to apologise for the bombings which claimed 21
lives and maimed almost 200 people 30 years ago.
A Sinn Fein 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 this should happen.
The IRA has never claimed responsibility for the bombs at the
Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town pubs in the centre of
Birmingham on November 21, 1974.
The six Irishmen who were jailed for the bombings were released in
March 1991, following a long campaign for their release.
Dungannon priest Monsignor Denis Faul, one of those who worked for
their release, said the IRA should now apologise for what it did.
"A lot of young people were killed in Birmingham. It is important
that there should be an apology for that."
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.
Relatives and survivors of the bombings will take part in a
memorial service at Birmingham's Anglican Cathedral on Sunday.
The Dean of St Philip's Cathedral, the Very Rev 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 Fein spokesman said: "What happened in Birmingham 30 years
ago was wrong and should not have happened. The IRA for its part
has apologised for the deaths of non- combatants resulting from
"If issues relating to the IRA concerning the Birmingham bombings
are still to be addressed then it is very clearly the Sinn Fein
position that this should happen."
Firms Told To Stay Away From Ulster
By David Young
Friday 19th November 2004
Tourists and businesses have been warned to stay away from Northern
Ireland because of continued security risks.
A newly-released survey of terrorist hot spots around the world
highlights Ulster as a place to avoid, citing continued " sectarian
violence", "political stalemate" and the threat of "paramilitary
extortion" as the reasons.
The RiskMap for 2005, produced by international consultancy firm
Control Risks Group (CRG), places the Province (along with London)
above the rest of the UK and the USA in a study of places most
likely to suffer a terrorist attack.
"There's always risks and unforeseens in Northern Ireland that
there may not be in other parts of Europe," said CRG's Western
European analyst Tom Chamberlain "The current situation where
you've got the two political extremes in charge; it's just a little
Analysts also believe businesses wishing to set up in Northern
Ireland should be aware of paramilitary activities in the Province.
"The levels of organised crime that paramilitary groups are now
involved in raises concerns over extortion for businesses thinking
about setting up for the longterm in Belfast," said Mr Chamberlain.
Northern Ireland is given the same danger warning as Cambodia,
where between 1994 and 1996 five British tourists were abducted and
murdered by Khmer Rouge guerrillas.
The Province is accorded with a "medium" security risk, which is
denoted by the colour orange on the RiskMap.
This is one grading below "high risk", red zones such as
Afghanistan and war-torn Ivory Coast.
Only Iraq, Somalia and Chechnya are considered dangerous enough to
be considered as black "extreme risk" countries.
Northern Ireland has been classified as a medium risk since CRG
produced its first map five years ago.
Last night, Ulster Unionist spokesman for tourism David Burnside
branded the RiskMap as "out of date".
"I think Northern Ireland can look very positively to the outside
world, it's a safe place for tourism and we should all promote it
that way," said Mr Burnside.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board reacted to the report with
caution, pointing out that the RiskMap is specifically aimed at
business investors and not tourists.
"NITB regularly surveys our international visitors," said Malachy
Finnegan from the NITB.
"In 2003 our visitors rated Northern Ireland as a "safe and secure"
destination, and one which they are happy to recommend to friends
and family," added Mr Finnegan.
Celtic Law Society Symposium
Community news from around the region.
THE ALBANY LAW SCHOOL Celtic Law Society, symposium at 7 p.m. Nov.
30. Guest speaker will be Paul Murray, past national chairman of
Irish Northern Aid, who will speak on "Can the Good Friday
Agreement bring Peace to Northern Ireland and Unity to the Irish
New Framework For Hillwalkers
A framework to build bridges between hillwalkers and land owners in
the Republic of Ireland has been put together to improve relations.
It involves mutual respect, insurance, recognition that landowners
are entitled to be paid for the use of the facility they offer and
agreements on public rights of way.
Irish Cattle and Sheep farmers Association President Malcom says
the only way this framework will work is if hillwalkers show
respect for the landowners.