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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 22, 2004
News 11/22/04 - Talks At Defining Moment
News about Ireland & the Irish
UT 11/22/04 Talks At 'Defining Moment' V
BT 11/22/04 No 10 Silent Over Ulster £1bn
UT 11/22/04 Parties Should Be Given Full Access, Says Durkan
RT 11/22/04 Durkan Nominated To Contest Westminster Seat
SF 11/22/04 Peace Dividend Must Underpin Work Of Any New Executive
SF 11/22/04 White Powder Sent To Sinn Féin Councillor
GU 11/22/04 Questions Remain, Says Bloody Sunday Lawyer V (2)
BT 11/22/04 Terror Clamp Plan To Include Ulster
BT 11/22/04 Ulster To Press Blair For Full Labour Membership
SF 11/22/04 Campaign For Bewleys Takes To The Streets
BB 11/22/04 Belfast: Titanic Opportunity 'Is Wasted'
Ahern set to meet Paisley as NI efforts continue - Tommie Gorman,
Northern Editor, reports on the intensification of efforts this
week to reach an agreement restoring power sharing in Northern
Talks At 'Defining Moment' -V
Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were tonight told to make it clear to
the Reverend Ian Paisley's DUP that the party will have to make its
mind up soon on proposals to revive the Stormont Assembly.
As Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists continued to deliberate
over proposals from London and Dublin aimed at breaking the
political deadlock, Martin McGuinness told both Prime Ministers to
spell out the consequences for the DUP of them not accepting the
During another day of intense negotiations with British government
officials, the Sinn Fein MP said: "I think we are in the defining,
final moments of this process.
"I certainly get the sense from the Taoiseach and the British Prime
Minister that they are not content to leave this to the other side
of the (Westminster) election.
"Mr Paisley has to hear firmly from both Prime Ministers that it is
make your mind up time right now and if the DUP does not go for it,
then there will be consequences."
Mr Blair and Mr Ahern are due to meet on Wednesday to review
progress in the negotiations.
The DUP and Sinn Fein, who are the only parties to have seen the
full package of proposals, are believed to be agonisingly close to
However since receiving the plan, both parties still have concerns
about its contents.
The DUP is pressing for more clarity about the rolling out of any
It is also believed to want further clarity on any move by the IRA
to put its weapons beyond use, focusing on how unionists can be
satisfied that disarmament has been carried out.
DUP negotiators would like verifiable decommissioning, with some
form of visual element in the form of video or photographic
It has also emerged that the Reverend Ian Paisley has arranged a
meeting with Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon on Wednesday to try and
persuade the Government to retain the home battalions of the Royal
Irish Regiment (RIR).
But tonight Mr McGuinness said: "All of us within the process know
that the RIR`s days are numbered."
Sinn Fein`s chief negotiator also went on the offensive against the
rival SDLP whose leader Mark Durkan has accused republicans of
gifting the DUP a veto in the negotiations over future nationalist
Hitting out at proposals to replace the joint election in the
Assembly of the First and Deputy First ministers with a vote for
the entire cabinet, Mr Durkan said in Dublin: "(DUP deputy leader)
Peter Robinson has been telling people for a year that he has a way
of stopping (Sinn Fein`s) Gerry Kelly from being justice minister.
"This is his way.
"For the first time in our history, the Agreement gave nationalists
the right to nominate their own ministers without any veto from
unionism. That`s equality.
"Now it is being diluted at the behest of the DUP.
"Sinn Fein appears not to have recognised this danger. The SDLP
refused to sign up to such a veto when the Agreement was negotiated
"Indeed, had we agreed to it, there might never have been an
executive. Instead, there would have been endless rows over Martin
McGuinness`s appointment as Minister for Education.
"If these proposals would not have worked in 1998, I cannot see how
they will work now. They are a recipe for inequality and
Mr McGuinness accused the SDLP of having a dismal record on the
"While we have been locked in the negotiations, we have been
restrained in what we can say," he said.
"Other people who are not playing a significant role are not so
restrained. In fact, the SDLP seems to be fighting some sort of
rearguard action as defenders of the Agreement.
"However their record of defending the Agreement has been dismal in
recent times whether it is folding on issues such as policing or
indeed having the temerity to suggest that financial penalties
against us were not strong enough.
"They even came up recently with a daft proposal that we should be
governed by an unelected quango. It has to be remembered the SDLP
is expressing criticism of a deal which has not been agreed."
No 10 Silent Over Ulster £1bn
By Noel McAdam
22 November 2004
The Government today refused to respond to renewed speculation of a
£1bn peace fund dividend for Northern Ireland.
Tony Blair's official spokesman today declined to comment on
reports that the cash injection could form part of the deal to
"We are not getting into the details of any particular part of the
negotiations," the spokesman was telling the daily Downing Street
"But nobody should underestimate the importance of the coming week
or the work that is going on. But we are not going to provide a
The peace fund plan, which was first publicised in September, has
been backed by Sinn Fein and has received broad support.
Former Alliance Party leader Seamus Close said without fair and
proper funding, any political deal would be doomed from day one.
"This deal will need finance to survive, and we currently do not
have the money to do the job right," he said.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan hit out at the DUP demands after deputy
leader Peter Robinson said in September the issue should be dealt
with as an integral part of the outcome of the negotiations.
In a ground-breaking speech in Dublin, Mr Robinson revealed the
party's plans had already been tabled with Mr Blair and would boost
the re-start of devolution.
The cash would be sourced from savings in security spending after a
"genuine settlement," he said and utilised to modernise the
province's ageing infrastructure.
Mr Durkan said at the time, however: "It is a bit rich from the
DUP, the party that wants to keep the full- time Reserve on and keep
all military bases open - despite a hugely improved security
situation. They want to squander the money that we all need for a
Mr Close said today: "Westminster doesn't give two hoots that by
the end of the year there will be a £3m debt added to the local
health service's worries ... and we have seen the results of
failing to deal with sectarianism since the Agreement was signed ?
growing segregation and hatred bubbling away under the surface."
Parties Should Be Given Full Access, Says Durkan
After today's meeting with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, SDLP leader
Mark Durkan said his party was still not being given full access to
the proposals currently being considered by Sinn Fein and the DUP.
The Foyle Assembly member expressed concern that the deal was
stacked too much in favour of the DUP and in particular he
criticised a proposal to replace the joint election in the Assembly
of the First and Deputy First Minister with a vote for the entire
power sharing cabinet.
"A move away from jointly electing the Deputy and First Minister
and having a vote to approve the executive in overall terms
actually means there can be a DUP veto on the appointment of
nationalist ministers," he said.
"Sinn Fein now seem to be accepting that. That veto is not
acceptable to us and is a change from the Agreement. These
proposals wouldn`t have worked in 1998 and I don`t see why we
should accept them now."
Durkan Nominated To Contest Westminster Seat
22 November 2004 21:01
The SDLP has nominated its leader, Mark Durkan, to contest John
Hume's seat in Westminster in a General Election expected to be
held next year.
Mr Durkan was chosen at a selection convention in Co Derry this
He pledged to continue Mr Hume's record of investment in jobs and
infrastructure in Derry so that the city could become a thriving
and modern regional hub.
In the last General Election in 2001, Mr Hume, who was then the
leader of the SDLP, secured 11,500 more votes than his nationalist
rival, Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin.
Peace Dividend Must Underpin Work Of Any New Executive
Published: 22 November, 2004
Sinn Féin Vice President, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has said that
a Peace Dividend Fund must tackle the legacy of under investment
and discrimination and disadvantage and is vital in underpinning
the ability of any new Executive to deliver on the ground.
Mr Doherty said: "The British government have neglected our
infrastructure for over thirty years. There is a legacy of under
investment across every part of our infrastructure - our roads,
schools, hospitals, railways and sewerage. There is also a damming
legacy of discrimination, inequality and disadvantage that must be
"The solution is not for the British government to put a greater
tax burden on people here through the water charges and increases
in rates but for the British government to accept that it has a
responsibility to compensate for this under investment and to
underpin work of any new Executive.
"There needs to be a genuine Peace Dividend to support the work of
any new Executive and its ability to deliver on the ground. Sinn
Fein have consistently put the demand for a genuine peace dividend
at the top of the agenda. During the lifetime of the Executive it
was only Sinn Féin that argued for a radical challenge to the
Barnett formula and in the current negotiations Sinn Fein have made
it clear that there should a genuine peace dividend.
"The British government need to commit to a significant peace
dividend so that any new Executive can effectively address the
legacy of conflict and division in our community by tackling
inequality, deprivation and under funding. The mistakes made by the
UUP and the SDLP in agreeing to water charges and increased rates
must be reversed."ENDS
White Powder Sent To Sinn Féin Councillor
Published: 22 November, 2004
Sinn Féin Lagan Valley Representative Cllr. Paul Butler has
revealed that the PSNI today informed his office that a package
containing a white powder addressed to him had been intercepted by
the Post Office.
Cllr. Butler said: " The PSNI this morning visited my constituency
office and informed staff that a package containing some sort of
white powder addressed to me had been intercepted in the post. This
is the latest in a campaign of intimidation and violence directed
towards my family and myself.
" This campaign has in the past been directly linked to the UDA in
Lisburn and relates to my continued opposition to discrimination
and bigotry within Lisburn council.
" In the week since the UDA cessation announcement and the
recognition of this by the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy
there has been an attack on Larne Councillor Danny O'Connor and his
mother linked to the UDA and now this incident today.
" Given these events the scepticism articulated by Sinn Féin last
week in the wake of their statement was well founded." ENDS
After six years, the Bloody Sunday inquiry has entered its final
stage, as the closing summation begins. It is investigating the
deaths of 14 civilians shot by soldiers during a march in
Londonderry in 1972. Mark Simpson reports.
See RTE video at:
Questions Remain, Says Bloody Sunday Lawyer V (2)
Staff and agencies
Monday November 22, 2004
The identities of the soldiers who killed 14 civilians on Bloody
Sunday are still unclear, the senior legal adviser to the Saville
inquiry said today as he began his summing up in the biggest
investigation in British legal history.
Despite an inquiry lasting more than seven years at an estimated
ultimate cost of £155m it was not known which Parachute Regiment
soldiers had carried out the majority of the shootings in Derry in
January 1972, the inquiry heard.
Christopher Clarke, counsel to the Saville inquiry, said in his
closing statement: "It has to be said that, even after many days of
evidence, the answer to even the first question - who shot them? -
is not, on the soldiers' evidence, in any way clear."
There were two central questions, he said, "who shot them?" and
"was there any justification for doing so?"
Mr Clarke said the soldier known to the inquiry as F appeared to
have shot one of the dead, Michael Kelly, while soldier G had shot
two others, Gerard McKinney and Gerard Donaghy.
Another of the deceased, Kevin McElhinney, was shot by either
soldiers K, L or M, he alleged, while two of the wounded, Damien
Donaghy and John Johnston, appeared to have been shot by soldier A
On the question of justification, the barrister said the tribunal
could take one of two views.
He said the judges must conclude either that the soldiers "came
under fire from unexpected quarters and had swiftly to retaliate",
as the former Parachute Regiment members testified; or that the
soldiers had shot civilians without justification "because no
justifiable explanation could be given".
He said the inquiry might take the view that "uncomfortable facts
have been airbrushed out of history and that the situation the
soldiers faced was radically different to that of which the
civilian evidence speaks".
The panel of three judges chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate is
due to submit its final report based on the evidence to the
government next summer, although some expect this will be delayed.
On the first day of an expected two-day final submission, Mr Clarke
was critical of the planning by military chiefs on the days before
the civil rights march.
He said the commander of land forces, General Robert Ford, had left
the detailed planning for the arrest operation to officers lower
down the ranks including Brigadier Pat MacLellan and the commander
of the Paras, Colonel Derek Wilford.
Mr Clarke said: "The tribunal may want to consider whether General
Ford should have had himself better informed as to whether the
arrest operation that he wanted was going to work."
Brigadier MacLellan in his evidence to the inquiry had said he did
not know the details of the plan to be used by the parachute
regiment when it went into the Bogside.
Mr Clarke said: "The tribunal will wish to consider whether there
was inadequate planning as a result of which the operation which
was carried out was likely to be unsuccessful and indeed risky.
"If it were so to conclude, it would mean that the tragedy of
Bloody Sunday arose from an operation that was unlikely to achieve
its ends and carried out on the orders of someone who had no clear
idea of what the arrest force planned to do at the time when he
Mr Clarke resisted claims by lawyers acting for the families of
victims of the existence of a "shoot-to-kill" policy in operation
on Bloody Sunday.
"Documentation both before and after 30 January 1972 not only
betrayed no hint of such a plan but was inconsistent with it," he
told the tribunal.
"I recognised in opening, expressly the possibility that a plan
would be made in secret and purposely left out of even secret
documentation. But plans cannot be put into effect without
communication in some manner to those who are to implement them."
Mr Clarke has presented his final submission, consisting of 10
volumes, to the inquiry team. This has been distributed to legal
teams representing the families and the soldiers.
The summation gives the three judges an overview of the issues on
which they have to decide, an overview of significant evidence and
an indication of the range of conclusions the tribunal might reach.
The final report by Lord Saville and his fellow judges is expected
to be published by the summer of 2005, more than seven years after
Tony Blair announced its setting up.
The tribunal, which has now sat for 433 days, has heard evidence
from 921 witnesses, with written statements from a further 1,555
witnesses. Civilians, soldiers, police officers, journalists,
government officials and paramilitaries have all given evidence.
Terror Clamp Plan To Include Ulster
Anti-social behaviour laws to apply here next month
By Brian Walker, London Editor
22 November 2004
Tough new laws against international terrorism, including a new
type of non-jury court Home Secretary David Blunkett has vowed to
introduce if Labour wins the General Election, will apply to
The laws, including compulsory identity cards, have been condemned
as "draconian" by the human rights group Liberty and by the Liberal
Democrats as "the politics of fear."
Special tribunals would hear cases without a jury in preference to
detaining terrorist suspects in Belmarsh prison in east London,
said Mr Blunkett.
But the measures will be left out of tomorrow's Queen's Speech
outlining bills for the new parliamentary session, while the
Government awaits a Law Lords ruling in the New Year on the
legality of existing detentions in Belmarsh.
Also to be used are new civil orders similar to anti-social
behaviour orders (Asbos), to ban suspects from access to banking
At lower levels of offence Asbos - already being extended from 10
to 50 centres in England and Wales - are being brought onto the
streets of Northern Ireland next month.
These are civil, not criminal orders which a court can make against
anyone over the age of 10 for any behaviour which can cause
"harassment, alarm and disorder."
But the penalty for breaching an Asbo can be up to five years in
Asbos are being introduced into the province cautiously for obvious
political reasons but are being received more enthusiastically than
the PSNI and the NIO expected.
Sinn Fein and the SDLP expressed fears they would only criminalise
"When our man addressed Falls Community Council, he expected to be
a voice crying in the wilderness. But although there was criticism
from other speakers, there was a groundswell in favour from the
floor," said a senior official.
The PSNI has now agreed guidelines with the other agencies
empowered to seek Asbos in the courts, the Housing Executive and
all 26 district councils.
As "one tool in the box," they will be used from next month to
order suspects to stay away from premises, areas and other people.
They will be applied against a whole range of offences including
hate crime, taking vehicles, drugs exchanges, binge drinking and
Ulster Activists To Press Blair For Full Labour Membership
22 November 2004
Members of the Labour and Conservative parties in Northern Ireland
were today due to press Prime Minister Tony Blair to agree to his
party offering its members in the province full membership rights.
They were expected to make the demand during a debate organised
near Stormont by the Friends of the Union following moves by a
Belfast trade unionist to force Labour to set up constituency
parties in the province.
GMB member Andy McGivern has begun legal moves against his party
after the national executive turned down requests for constituency
parties to be set up in Northern Ireland.
Campaign For Bewleys Takes To The Streets
Published: 22 November, 2004
Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East, Councillor Daithí
Doolan today called on the public to lend their support to
Wednesdays public launch of "Save Our Bewleys".
Speaking in Dublin this morning Councillor Doolan said:
"Following a successful meeting of the campaign group on Saturday
it was agreed to publicly launch the Campaign to Save Our Bewleys.
It is imperative that we keep Bewleys open to the public. It has
become synonymous with the Dublin we know, it has become a landmark
for tourists and locals alike. This launch on Wednesday will be
colourful, imaginative and memorable. It will include street
theatre, music and poetry.
I will also be raising the issue of Bewleys with the Minister for
Environment, Heritage & Local Government Dick Roche in an attempt
to to keep the cafes open. It is clear that the minister has a
responsibility to protecting this important aspect of our heritage
and the jobs that are currently at stake."
In conclusion Cllr. Doolan called on, "people to rally to the call
and support this event on Wednesday. It is guaranteed to entertain
and highlight this issue."
The public launch of the Campaign to Save Our Bewleys Wednesday
11am-1pm Bewleys Grafton Street. ENDS
Titanic Opportunity 'Is Wasted'
Efforts to bring a ship described as the last "floating" link to
the Titanic back to Belfast have been described as "shambolic" by
the city's lord mayor.
Councillor Tom Ekin said that purchasing the SS Nomadic was an
"enormous opportunity" for Belfast.
The ship, built at Harland and Wolff the year before Titanic, was
used as a tender to take first-class passengers to and from the
A plan to auction the ship in France was postponed on Monday.
The 221st ship ferried passengers to the White Star liner Olympic,
and in April 1912, it did the same job for Titanic.
Nomadic saw service in both world wars and was later used as a
restaurant on the Seine in Paris.
More recently she has been languishing semi- derelict in the port of
Campaigners, including Belfast Industrial Heritage, have staged an
18-month effort to bring Nomadic back to the city where she was
It is hoped that the ship will become the centrepiece of a new
tourist quarter dedicated to the world's most famous ship.
Other attractions include the slipway where Titanic was built, the
drawing offices where the blueprints for the ship were drawn and
the Thompson Dock and pump house where she was fitted out.
Titanic entered into legend in 1912 when more than 1,500 people
died during its maiden voyage from the UK to America.
A feasibility study by Belfast City Council estimated the cost of
buying the ship and bringing it back to the city would be around
It would then need about £7m to restore the ship to its former
The city council has said it cannot afford the project and last
week met Culture Minister Angela Smith in the hope that she would
pump government money into the project.
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure said it could not take
the lead in the project.
It suggested that Belfast City Council consider a "concessionary
loan" from the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund.
Lord Mayor Ekin, an Alliance party councillor, said the situation
was a shambles.
"You could not have devised a better way of doing so little with a
He said the Titanic is a selling tool "unique" to Belfast yet there
are exhibitions all over the world but nothing in the city it was
"The SS Nomadic is the one floating link with Titanic that exists.
Isn't a museum much better to have some tangible thing rather than
a load of inanimate objects?," he said.
"We have been fiddling about with this thing for years. We have
"If we let this go it is undermining potentially one of the
greatest tourist attractions in the world."
He said the project needs a "champion" to bring together all the
different bodies involved.
"Politicians should be taking the lead on this. I see this as a
squandering of an opportunity to market the city better," he said.
"I have spent the past five months as Lord Mayor promoting the city
of Belfast wherever I go and when people ask 'what can I see of the
Titanic', I have to say 'nothing, I'm afraid'."
Kathleen Neill from Belfast Industrial Heritage said it had
launched its own fundraising efforts but was well short of having
enough to purchase the ship.
She said: "Nomadic is the last White Star line vessel still in
"She is the last true maritime link with the Titanic. She was built
in the glory days of Belfast shipbuilding and she was built by the
same men who built Titanic.
"She is the most wonderful example of our Edwardian shipbuilding
expertise and she will not only be a tremendous tourist attraction
but she will also be an inspiration to the young people of today."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/22 15:58:45 GMT
© BBC MMIV