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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 24, 2004
News 11/24/04 - Agreement Must Be In The GFA
News about Ireland & the Irish
SF 11/24/04 SF Tell Govts Any Agreement Must Be Bedded In The GFA
BB 11/24/04 NI Proposals 'Ready For Publishing'
IO 11/24/04 Assembly In Spring If Deal Is Struck
IO 11/24/04 Formal Bid To Have Irish Adopted As EU Language
WD 11/24/04 Some Thoughts On Bigotry
BT 11/24/04 Loyalist Settles Case Against Orde
BT 11/24/04 SDLP Councillor Welcomes Power-Sharing 'Assurance'
BT 11/24/04 Freed Annetta Tells Of Love For Afghans
SF 11/24/04 Carnival Campaign To Keep Bewleys Open
IO 11/24/04 Hill Of Tara Protestors Threaten Legal Action
Sinn Féin Tell Governments Any Agreement Must Be Bedded In The Good
Published: 24 November, 2004
Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA speaking after
meeting the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the Irish Embassy in London
"Our objectives in these intense discussions with the two
governments have been two fold. Firstly, to get the DUP to come on
board a comprehensive agreement. Secondly, to ensure both
governments remain faithful to the Good Friday Agreement.
"These points are particularly important today given that Ian
Paisley is responding to the outline presented by the two
governments. In response to this it is important that the
governments insist that any agreement reached must be bedded in and
aimed at the delivery of the Good Friday Agreement.
"That is our clear message to the two governments today." ENDS
The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle will meet tomorrow (Thursday 25th
November)in Dublin to be briefed by the party negotiating team on
the current state of the political negotiations.
Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin will be available
to speak to the media at 12 noon in the Sinn Féin Head Office, 44
Parnell Square, Dublin 1.
NI Proposals 'Ready For Publishing'
The British and Irish governments are ready to publish their latest
proposals for the restoration of devolution if the local parties do
not sign up to a deal.
Speaking after meeting Tony Blair at Downing Street, Irish Prime
Minister Bertie Ahern said officials would provide the parties with
written answers to their questions.
However, he added that the two governments could not go on
clarifying their proposals forever.
Earlier, DUP leader Ian Paisley handed Mr Blair his party's
response to the latest British and Irish proposals for the
restoration of devolution.
Both prime ministers were involved in a series of meetings with the
political parties in London on Wednesday.
Afterwards Mr Ahern said, as far as the two governments were
concerned, there was a package on offer.
He said the governments were happy to clarify issues but they
wanted to bring the process to a close within days.
Expressing a certain amount of frustration, Mr Ahern suggested the
endless search for perfect deals was unrealistic.
"We don't see this running on for more than a matter of days," he
Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "The talks have been serious,
they have been constructive. I think the parties will want to
reflect over the coming days.
"Time is getting short. I can see this going into next week, not
much beyond that.
"We are not going to get into the game of precise deadlines but
time is short."
DUP leader Ian Paisley met Mr Ahern at the Irish embassy in London
and later met Mr Blair to give his response to British- Irish
proposals submitted to the parties last week.
Speaking after his meeting with Mr Blair, he said there had been
"The government must see to it that there is full decommissioning
and when I talk about that, that must be transparent, it must be
open," he said.
"That is not to convince you or me but the people of Northern
Ireland," he said.
Mr Ahern met SDLP leader Mark Durkan, following his talks with Mr
He then met Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and his negotiating
team before travelling to Downing Street to compare notes with Mr
Speaking after their meeting with Mr Ahern, the Sinn Fein
leadership said they were still hopeful of a resolution.
Party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said: "I have always argued that
if you take the long view, then you can see that clearly we are
making progress towards the achievement of a durable peace.
"We are a long way from never, never, never."
The party is going to consult its executive on Thursday. Meetings
with officials are to continue throughout the next few days.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said the difficulties did not
appear to be that great and, that if the parties wanted, they could
The question was if the parties had the will to resolve the issues,
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "There has been progress on some
issues, and we are pushing for more progress. We are determined to
be the bulwark of the Good Friday Agreement."
Both Sinn Fein and the DUP are backing the creation of a £1bn peace
fund as the price tag for any deal - about one ninth of Northern
Ireland's annual budget.
Sinn Fein sources told the BBC they believed the government was
ready to commit extra resources to any new executive over and above
the current Northern Ireland bloc grant.
Sinn Fein is also understood to have asked the Irish Government to
make a financial commitment to any restored institutions.
At the conclusion of intensive political talks at Leeds Castle in
Kent in September, Mr Blair and Mr Ahern said the thorny issues of
IRA disarmament and future paramilitary activity appeared to be
But, the two governments were unable to get the Northern Ireland
Assembly parties to sign up to a deal over power-sharing after
unionists and nationalists clashed over future devolved
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/24 17:53:53 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Assembly In Spring If Deal Is Struck
Devolved government could be back in Northern Ireland by next
spring if a deal involving Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionists
is struck within days, it emerged tonight.
DUP sources said the British and Irish governments would try to
roll out a deal to get power sharing back by next March.
However, they added a lot would depend on whether the IRA was
prepared to become an "old boys association" as DUP leader, the
Reverend Ian Paisley, suggested after talks with British Prime
Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in London today.
A party source said: "The talks at this stage are inching forward
but I am not in a position where I can say that a deal will
"I think we are all coming to the point where the parties will soon
have to make a judgment about what's on offer but right now the
ball is in the court of the two governments.
"They have received specific points about their recent proposals
for a deal which require clarification and I would expect them to
come back to us within the next 24 hours. When we receive those, we
will be in a better position to say whether this will float or
It is understood the Reverend Ian Paisley has given Mr Blair and
MrAhern a six-page document, seeking clarification on 40 points in
the proposals they put to the DUP and Sinn Féin last week to revive
DUP sources stressed people shouldn't read too much into the size
of the document.
But they insisted the party regarded its demand that there should
be a visible aspect to any future acts of IRA disarmament as a deal
It has been suggested Catholic and Protestant clergy could witness
future IRA weapons decommissioning acts.
However, the DUP has been pressing for a more visual aspect to
decommissioning in the form of photographic or video evidence.
The party also regards institutional issues such as greater cabinet
collective responsibility in the power sharing executive as
After his meeting with Mr Ahern, the Rev Ian Paisley signalled if a
deal was struck, his party would like to test the bona fides of
republicans over a five-month period.
The British and Irish governments, however, are arguing for a more
shorter timeframe for the rolling out of a deal, with the IRA
completing disarmament by next March when power sharing would be
Other talks sources noted while the DUP leader had called for the
IRA to complete weapons decommissioning and end all criminality, he
appeared to concede that the organisation could continue in some
The North Antrim MP said: "They have nothing to do but to be an old
A talks source said: "I think the use of that phrase is quite
"He is no longer talking about the IRA vanishing. It could still be
around as an old boys' association."
Formal Bid To Have Irish Adopted As EU Language
A formal request was lodged with the European Union today to
recognise Irish officially as a working language.
Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern revealed a proposal to grant the high
level status had been tabled.
"This proposal, if agreed by the member states, would represent a
significant positive and practical step forward for the Irish
language in the EU," said Mr Ahern.
The move follows a series of discussions Irish officials held with
EU States and institutions over the last few months.
Bairbre de Brun, Sinn Féin MEP, said the move was a direct result
of the hard work, determination and commitment of campaigners.
"Sinn Féin has made the recognition of the Irish language at EU
level a party priority," she said.
"Not only will this provide jobs for a number of translators, it
also represents equality of treatment for the language at an EU
It is understood the Government identified a number of issues and
practical options for adopting the language before tabling the
If agreed certain laws will be translated into Irish, and its
standing will be reviewed within four years.
Unanimous agreement is needed across member State's to amend
regulations governing the union's language regime, and grant the
language official status.
Some Thoughts On Bigotry
Commentary by Martin Kelly
November 24, 2004
This column abhors all discrimination against black people, women
and homosexuals on account of colour, gender or sexuality.
However, it also denies the existence of concepts called 'racism',
'sexism' and 'homophobia.'
The words 'racism', 'sexism' and 'homophobia' are rooted in Marxist
thought. As a life-long anti-Marxist, one cannot endorse or approve
of anything that started as a Marxist construct designed to ensure
Marxism's ascendancy by creating divisions.
There is a very much more suitable and ancient word to describe
those who despise black people, women and homosexuals on account of
colour, gender or sexuality. That word is 'bigot', and common
humanity, not Marxist political correctness, should at all times
inform the conservative to disavow and shun bigots.
Bigotry got a fair old outing in the UK last week. The Labour
Party, apparently the spokespeople for the poor, put more rural
poor out of work last week by using the most extreme form of
parliamentary procedure to ensure a ban on fox-hunting in England
and Wales will take effect from February 2005. One of their drones
has coughed up and admitted that the pursuit of the ban was just
good old-fashioned class warfare, designed to hurt people because
of what, not who, they are.
On November 21, it was reported that in Scotland, a Catholic is
twice as likely to be the victim of a sectarian assault as a
Protestant – Catholics comprise 17% of the population. The Catholic
Church in Scotland has failed utterly to evangelise its flock, even
with the advantage of taxpayer-funded separate Catholic education.
Instead, it has concentrated on sacramentalisation and mysticism –
the epitaph of Scottish Catholicism will be, 'They all came for
their ashes', while the chapels stand half empty for the rest of
the year. For many in my community, the real religion is soccer,
their church Celtic Park, where they worship at the altar of
Glasgow Celtic, while the hawkers outside sell scarves describing
the head coach as the 'Messiah' and the former star striker as the
'King of Kings'.
One can elect to stay out of this marsh – however, one cannot avoid
Scotland's summer curse, the parades and dreary drums of the Orange
Order, wearing their garish uniforms, exercising their right to
walk the Queen's highway while denying others the right to cross
it, fluting away their hymns to Protestant ascendancy and the
victory of William III over James II at the Battle of the Boyne,
fought on July 12 1690. It says much for a country if some of its
citizens think the last thing in their history worth celebrating
happened 314 years before.
Sectarianism is an ugly bigotry that, in my town, still leads to
young men losing their lives if the wrong team loses a soccer
Coming from this background, it was a bit irritating to find out
that one of my articles had been linked to 'Stormfront'.
'Stormfront' is a website for the white nationalist community.
Although it's difficult to write that phrase without falling off
the chair laughing, it's still pretty disgusting to think you wrote
something of which a white supremacist would approve. My own
thoughts on the UK's white nationalists, the British National
Party, were recorded in an article I wrote last year for The
Washington Dispatch where I called them 'a sub-Klan collection of
rednecks dedicated to race-baiting and immigration control'.
There's been no subsequent change in position.
What got the tinfoil twitching under the Wehrmacht helmets of the
cyber-Klanners over at 'Stormfront' was an article I wrote called
'Jihad-Ache'. The aim of the article was to point out that the
jihad of Islamists is still a force to be opposed. It is not the
jihad of all Muslims, or of all people with brown skins, Pakistani
accents and names like Asif. It is limited to a small group who
have nothing but contempt for civilised democratic order - much
like white supremacists themselves.
Loyalist Settles Case Against Orde
Arrest injury action settled out of court.
24 November 2004
Leading loyalist Jim Gray sued the Chief Constable today for
alleged assault when he was arrested in a Chinese restaurant in
east Belfast two years ago.
The action was settled out of court and the terms were not
But it is understood Mr Gray is to receive a sum of damages.
He said afterwards: "A condition of the settlement is that I am not
allow to reveal the terms. All I can say is that I am satisfied
with the terms of the settlement."
The case was due to be heard before Judge McReynolds at Belfast
County Court but was settled after talks between the parties.
Barrister Paul Lewis, appearing for the Chief Constable, asked the
judge to stay the proceedings on terms endorsed on counsels'
Mr Gray was represented by Tom McCreanor, BL, instructed by
solicitors McConnell Kelly and Co.
Outside the court Mr Gray said he and a friend were sitting in the
restaurant on October 5, 2002, when between 20 and 25 police
officers burst in and arrested him.
"I was held overnight before being released without charge," he
"My eardrum was perforated and I had to go to the doctor for
He said the incident happened 19 days after he was shot in the
"I was supping a bowl of soup as it was all I was able to eat," he
"I was minding my own business when the police came in and arrested
me in an uncivil manner."
Independent loyalist councillor Frankie Gallagher, who accompanied
Mr Gray to court, said afterwards: "My interest is that I want to
see a police service as an integral part of the community.
"I think this incident was directly linked to Mr Gray's profile and
the overall attitude of the police when dealing with loyalists."
SDLP Councillor Welcomes Power-Sharing 'Assurance'
By Nevin Farrell
24 November 2004
An SDLP councillor in Ballymena has welcomed an "assurance" that
there will be clear legislation in place regarding power-sharing in
any shake-up of local government in Northern Ireland.
P J McAvoy was speaking after a meeting between the Review of
Public Administration team and the Association of SDLP Councillors.
Councillors heard about a proposal for seven large councils to
replace Northern Ireland's current 26. Ballymena is to merge with
Larne, Moyle, Ballymoney and Coleraine.
Speaking afterwards, Mr McAvoy said: "I welcome an assurance that
there will be clear legislation in the new arrangements to ensure
proportionality in the allocation of council posts, and fairness in
Recently the SDLP in Ballymena failed to persuade the DUP to allow
them, on a proportional basis, their first ever mayorship. Some DUP
councillors described them as the "enemy".
SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan said they were told at Saturday's
meeting with the review body that firm proposals expected this
month have now been postponed until the new year.
Mr O'Loan said: "This is because political parties, including the
SDLP, have expressed concerns about the loss of local identity in
such big council areas. Therefore the team is going to do more
Freed Annetta Tells Of Love For Afghans
First public statement is issued
By Mary Fitzgerald
24 November 2004
Freed hostage Annetta Flanigan made her first public statement
today, saying that she and her two UN colleagues were sustained
through almost four weeks of captivity by thoughts of family and
As the Richhill woman's family prepared an emotional homecoming
following her hostage ordeal in Afghanistan, Annetta and her two
fellow captives issued a statement describing their wish to share
the "wonderful feeling" of freedom with loved ones.
"The hope of getting back together with them kept us going,"
Annetta read from a sheet of paper in Kabul. "We thank them for
their love, their prayers and their friendship. We are looking
forward to joining our families and returning to our work."
The three also thanked the Afghan people for their condemnation of
"During our many months of work here in Afghanistan, we have
learned to love Afghanistan, its people, its culture and
traditions," Annetta said.
"The awful experience we went through does not change our feelings
for the Afghan people, and the solidarity they have shown during
our 27 days of captivity just strengthens our commitment to support
Afghanistan in its transition to peace and democracy," she added.
The statement did not include any details on their ordeal and
release, the circumstances of which remain unclear.
Earlier today the trio met with Afghan president Hamid Karzai.
"We are very glad that by the grace of God our two sisters and a
brother who were taken by the hostage-takers, by the criminals,
were released safe and sound," Mr Karzai said.
"The Afghan people were saddened and put in serious grief by this
Manoel de Almeida e Silva, a UN spokesman, said arrangements would
be made today to fly them out of the country.
However, relief at the news of the hostages' freedom has been
overshadowed in Kabul by allegations surrounding the circumstances
of the release.
Despite a denial by Afghan officials that a deal was struck, a
spokesman for the group believed responsible for the abduction said
the three were freed after the government agreed to release 24
prisoners within the next few days.
Concerns have also been raised over claims that Afghan security
forces tortured one suspected kidnapper to death and killed another
in a raid.
Such tactics have been questioned by the British embassy in Kabul
and UN officials.
Carnival Campaign To Keep Bewleys Open
Published: 24 November, 2004
Sinn Féin Representative for Dublin South East, Councillor Daithí
Doolan has today called on the public, "to lend their support to
the campaign to keep Bewleys open which is being launched this
morning outside Bewleys on Grafton St."
Speaking this morning Councillor Doolan said:
"Following the establishment of a broad based campaign group it was
agreed last weekend to publicly launch the campaign outside Bewleys
itself. It is planned to have a carnival like atmosphere. The
events will kick off at 11am today and will include music, street
theatre and poetry.
"I have written to 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 protect the jobs
and heritage that are at stake here. For generations Bewleys has
been linked with Dublin, both at home and abroad, and it is time
for all of us to rally round and keep the cafes open."
In conclusion Cllr. Doolan said he was, "very confident that
todayÂs events can ensure that outside interests will realise that
it is well worth investing in and keeping it open and serving the
public for generations to come."
The public launch of the Campaign to Save Our Bewleys today 11am-
1pm Bewleys Grafton Street. ENDS
Hill Of Tara Protestors Threaten Legal Action
24/11/2004 - 16:34:51
If one spade touches the Hill of Tara the Government will be hit
with immediate legal action, campaigners warned today.
Dressed as the King and Queen of Tara, protesters held a replica
Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny, aloft on the steps of Dáil Eireann
demanding the planned M3 motorway is re-routed away from the
ancient seat of the Kings of Ireland.
The Save Tara Skryne Valley group claims it is not too late to
preserve one of the country's most valuable heritage sites.
Spokesman Vincent Salafia said: "The development of the motorway
has not yet begun, the land has not been purchased and excavations
are not underway.
"We are eternally optimistic but considering the Government's
record on such issues it will be a surprise if they change their
Legend has it that Lia Fail, the coronation seat for would-be
monarchs, judged a ruler's worthiness before allowing crowning
ceremonies to go ahead.
The campaigners are calling on conservationists and Dubliners to
join them in their last ditch bid to save the treasured spot.
They claim the hill could be ruined forever if the roadworks go
ahead. Private members' bills calling for the route to be shifted
away from the hill will come before the Oireachtas later tonight.
Independent Senators Joe O'Toole and Shane Ross will bring the
issue to the upper house, while the Labour Party have sponsored a
bill in the Dail.
Mr Salafia said he was confident that even if construction work is
given the go-ahead, legal action would delay the process for
"I will be the litigant if there is any case to be taken," he
added. "And unfortunately it's looking like this is going to have
to be sorted out by the courts."
A March for Tara will take place this Saturday in Dublin city
centre to fight the proposed scheme.
A related protest is also due to take place outside the Irish
consulate in New York on the same day.