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)

December 17, 2004

12/17/04 - Christmas Deal Unllikely - Ahern

Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

BB 12/17/04 Christmas Deal 'Unlikely' - Ahern –V
DJ 12/17/04 'Get Down Off King Billy's White Horse'
GU 12/17/04 Irish Trio 'Have Fled Colombia' –V
IT 12/17/04 Ahern And Harney Avoid Criticising Sentence
SM 12/17/04 Human Rights Chief's Powers To Be Increased

NW 12/17/04 Priest Releases Album –VO
NW 12/17/04 Rare And Expensive Whiskey –VO

Priest Releases Album - Alisdair Jackson meets a priest whose new
album has gone platinum in Ireland

Rare And Expensive Whiskey - Geraldine Harney visits Midleton in Co
Cork, known as the home of Irish whiskey


See RTE video at:

Christmas Deal 'Unlikely' - Ahern -V

A breakthrough in the political process is unlikely before
Christmas, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has admitted.

Mr Ahern said he was not going to ask Irish Government officials
involved in the process to work over Christmas as they "needed time
for rest and reflection".

Instead he called for a renewal of efforts to reach a comprehensive
settlement in the new year.

He also suggested the local parties needed some space to work out
the way forward.

Mr Ahern was briefing journalists at a European summit in Brussels
on Friday.

Proposals published jointly by the two governments earlier this
month included a plan for the IRA to allow photographs to be taken
of its weapons being put beyond use in the presence of independent

The DUP argued that this was necessary to ensure that there was
confidence in the act of decommissioning.

But Sinn Fein said the IRA would "not submit to a process of

The political institutions in Northern Ireland have been suspended
since October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering
at the Northern Ireland Office.

The DUP and Sinn Fein became the largest unionist and nationalist
parties after assembly elections in November 2003.

However, the two parties have not been able to reach a deal which
would allow a power-sharing executive to be formed, and Northern
Ireland continues to be governed by direct rule from Westminster.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/17 22:59:00 GMT


'Get Down Off King Billy's White Horse'

Friday 17th December 2004

Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness last night dismissed DUP leader
Ian Paisley as being 'very confused, very stupid' and said it was
time the unionist leader 'got down off King Billy's white horse'.

He was speaking after the DUP leader seemed to be demanding that
the IRA cease decommissioning weapons unless this was done under
his conditions.

Mr. McGuinness said Ian Paisley was 'very confused' and added: "He
seems to be saying that he would prefer the IRA to hold on to their
weapons until the DUP decide an appropriate time.

"His demand for a photograph is effectively going to prevent the
IRA from putting its weapons beyond use."

Mr. McGuinness added: "Ian Paisley's strategy in demanding a
photograph he is never going to get is about humiliation and also

"Ian Paisley wants a photo so that he can hold it above his head
like a trophy and claim a victory over the IRA.

"He also wants to be able to claim not one victory but two as he
wants to also claim victory over David Trimble.

"In my opinion there is absolutely no chance of the IRA ever
conceding that stupid demand for a photograph.

"The British Government were told quite clearly by myself that no
point in demanding a photograph from the IRA yet they allowed Ian
Paisley to go on with this demand.

"The IRA made it clear even in the putative statement contained in
the government documents released last week that they were prepared
to instruct their volunteers on what to do, that they were prepared
to allow observers and that they were working for the speedy
conclusion of the process of putting weaponry beyond use but they
never referred to a photograph.

"But the two governments decided they would massage Ian Paisley's
ego and allowed this stupid demand to be inserted.

"Now we have the ludicrous situation of Ian Paisley giving the IRA
an ultimatum not to deal with their weapons."

The Sinn Fein leader said that he believed that time was running
out for a deal here.

He said: "I think that there will continue to be intensive work
carried on right over the Christmas period but if there is no
progress by then I believe we are facing one of the most serious
crisis we have faced so far.

"After the New Year some of the parties will be focusing on the
next elections which will only be a few months away and already
there is a debate within the DUP over whether they should do a deal
before the election.

"We know the DUP are out to annihilate the Ulster Unionist Party so
if there is no movement we are facing a serious situation indeed."

Mr. McGuinness added: "If no deal is arrived at then the two
governments have to press on and implement all aspects of the
Agreement and accept the fact that the DUP are not interested in
sharing power with nationalists."

On the question of the IRA's offer remaining on the table
indefinitely Mr. McGuinness said that was a matter for the IRA.

He said: "The IRA have made an enormous offer but I am sure that it
will be considered in the context of the political situation they
find themselves in.

"But the focus should not be on the IRA but rather on Ian Paisley
and the question must be put to him - is he going to do a deal?"


See RTE video at:

Irish Trio 'Have Fled Colombia' -V

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá and Sandra Laville
Saturday December 18, 2004
The Guardian

Sinn Féin members were last night on their way to Colombia as
Interpol joined in the hunt for three men linked to the IRA who are
on the run from police.

Officials in Bogotá said yesterday Niall Connolly, 38, James
Monaghan, 58, and Michael McCauley, 41, who were sentenced by the
appeal court on Thursday to 17 years in jail for training Marxist
rebels in Colombia, had fled the country. Luis Camilio Osorio, the
attorney general, asked for international cooperation to help find

The men went into hiding last June after being released from prison
where they were serving sentences for travelling on false
documents. But they were ordered to stay in the country until the
outcome of a prosecution appeal against their acquittal on the more
serious charge of training Farc rebels. On Thursday the appeal
court overturned the not guilty verdicts and imposed the long jail

Caitriona Ruane, a Sinn Féin Northern Ireland assembly member who
has campaigned for the men's release, was flying to Colombia last
night with colleagues to talk to their lawyers and officials as
defence lawyers considered making an extraordinary appeal to the
supreme court.

She dismissed claims that the men had fled Colombia but refused to
be drawn on their whereabouts. Ms Ruane saw the men shortly after
they were whisked out of Bogotá's La Modelo prison to go into
hiding claiming their lives were in danger from rightwing death

Pedro Mahecha, Monaghan's defence attorney, disputed the idea that
they had left the country. However he declined to say whether he or
lawyers for the other two were in contact with the men.


Ahern And Harney Avoid Criticising Sentence

Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent, in Brussels

Dublin reaction: The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have avoided
criticising either the appeal verdict or the sentencing in the case
of the so-called Colombia Three, saying their concern for the men
was confined to humanitarian considerations.

The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, said in Brussels yesterday that while he
thought the 17-year sentences were harsh, he would not criticise
the judiciary of a foreign country. He accepted Colombia's courts
were independent of its government.

The Tánaiste went further, saying she had "no reason to believe"
that the trial had been unfair. Ms Harney remarked that the rebel
group FARC, whose members the three men were convicted of training,
was "after all a very dangerous organisation. It gains its money
from smuggling cocaine; it has blown up people as they worship in a

She said that the other offence of which they were convicted -
travelling on false passports - was "also a very serious offence
... if people deny their Irish citizenship and travel on a false
passport there are issues for the Irish Government in relation to
that matter too. Let's face it, if people deny their identity it
poses difficulties for a Government like ours."

The Department of Foreign Affairs put up some €17,000 of the bail
money required to ensure the men's release pending the appeal. The
money was refunded by the Bring Them Home Campaign. There will,
therefore, be no loss to the taxpayer if bail money is forfeited in
this case, a spokesman for the Department confirmed.

As Interpol in Colombia yesterday said it would be issuing
international arrest warrants for the men, who appeared to have
fled the country, the Ulster Unionist Mr David Burnside said the
Irish Government would be watched closely to see how it responded
to the verdict.

In Brussels yesterday Mr Ahern said Ireland's role had been
"exclusively a consular one" and that the Government would continue
to give practical help to the men's families. He said he understood
that the sentences would be upsetting for the families,
particularly in the Christmas season.

Saying the sentences appeared harsh, he went on: "Obviously anyone
looking at it, where one court seemed to be throwing out a number
of the cases and then you end up with 17 years seems a very harsh
position," he said.

"But I'm not getting into the business of criticising the judiciary
in another country. I just wouldn't do it." The Taoiseach said
Ireland had no extradition agreement with Colombia. Asked what
would happen if the men turned up in Ireland, he said: "We will
just have to wait and see." He said he had discussed the matter
yesterday with the Attorney General.

He said the Government would examine the judgment and see what kind
of advice it received on how the men should now proceed legally.
"We will just have to see where it goes from here."

He said he had always spoken to the Colombian President and his
officials about this case on the basis that the Government accepted
the distinction between the executive and the judiciary in that
country. "When there is a trial by the High Court and the Supreme
Court and they give a judgment on a brutal murder, I don't go into
the Dáil or go to a press conference talking about the severity of
the crime. Naturally as an individual you might have your view on
the circumstances if you have read them. But that's it, the
judiciary makes a call."

The Tánaiste clearly distanced herself from claims by the men's
supporters that they had not received a fair trial, and noted that
they had been convicted of very serious offences. She said there
must be "an end to paramilitarism and criminality in all its forms"
and total commitment to democratic politics.

She said she was not in a position to comment on whether she
believed the men had not received a fair trial, but she had "no
reason to believe that".

"We don't want to cut across the judicial system in any other
country," Ms Harney said.

© The Irish Times


Human Rights Chief's Powers To Be Increased

By Ian Graham, PA

The Government announced today the powers of the Northern Ireland
Human Rights Commission are to be increased.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said that after a review of
the Commission powers it had been decided in principle to grant the
body the right to access to places of detention and the power to
compel evidence and witnesses.

The Commission has been critical of its limited powers and earlier
in the year the Prison Service refused its members access to women
prisoners during an investigation into the conditions of their

Welcoming the decision, chief commissioner Professor Brice Dickson
said they were "delighted" that Mr Murphy had accepted their

He said it would empower them to effectively carry out their
investigative work.

Prof Dickson, whose term of office ends in February, also welcomed
the news that they would be able to compel witnesses to give them

"At the moment, contrary to the United Nations' Paris Principles,
we have no power to compel anyone to provide evidence during the
course of our investigations or to have access to places of
detention," he said.

He said the new powers would enable the commission to be fully
independent in the conduct of its inquiries and investigations.

Sinn Fein's human rights spokeswoman, Catriona Ruane also welcomed
the expanded powers. She said it was something they had been
pressing the Government over during the recent political

Meanwhile Mr Murphy also announced there would be a new competition
for the post of Chief Commissioner after a panel interviewed a
number of potential candidates, but did not recommend anyone.

Advertisements will be placed in papers in Northern Ireland and the
Irish Republic from December 21.

Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?