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December 02, 2004

News 12/02/04 - Peace Deal Is Close

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 12/02/04 Peace Deal 'Tantalisingly Close' For Northern Ireland
BT 12/02/04 Viewpoint: McCabe Move Is A Hint All Is Not Well
IO 12/02/04 DUP Friday Meeting At Downing St Postponed To Monday
IO 12/02/04 Orde Predicts UDA Could Split
BT 12/02/04 Milnes Set To Enjoy Christmas At Home
UT 12/02/04 Belfast Councillors Vote For Smoking Ban
RT 12/02/04 Independent Spirit Looks To Neeson


Peace Deal 'Tantalisingly Close' For Northern Ireland

By David McKittrick
02 December 2004

The Government said yesterday that a durable peace settlement in
Northern Ireland was "tantalisingly close" as it sought to clinch a
deal between Unionists and republicans.

With several deadlines already passed, next Tuesday is now regarded
as the latest "decision day" in the long-running negotiation
involving the republican movement and the Democratic Unionist
Party, led by the Rev Ian Paisley.

The loyalist leader is trying to nail down the details of IRA arms
decommissioning, seeking photographic evidence that the weaponry
has been put beyond use. Republicans want to ensure that after such
an IRA act the DUP would agree to share power with republicans in a
new Northern Ireland executive.

With republicans keen for a deal, success or failure rests on the
final call that Mr Paisley is expected to make early next week. He
is scheduled to hold his latest meeting with Tony Blair tomorrow.

Yesterday, the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, emerged from a
Downing Street meeting with Mr Blair to urge the DUP leader to
"join in the collective challenge of peace-making".

He said: "A deal is still possible but an accommodation, a
partnership of equals cannot be built through a process of


Viewpoint: McCabe Move Is A Hint All Is Not Well

DEAL DETAILS: Less optimism in the air as the tough talking takes
its toll

02 December 2004

The announcement by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that the four killers of
Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996 would be freed as part of a
comprehensive deal with the IRA is the latest sign that the current
negotiations have hit a rough patch. He has angered the dead man's
family and the gardai, but he must hope that the concession will
placate Sinn Fein, making them more amenable to transparent IRA

Whether it will have any effect on the negotiations remains to be
seen, as next Tuesday becomes the new decision day, but it smacks
of a degree of desperation. Although London insists that agreement
on Stormont devolution is "tantalisingly close", Ian Paisley's call
for the IRA to don "sackcloth and ashes" has rankled republicans as
much as Gerry Adams's warning to unionists that power-sharing in
the executive could mean "a battle a day".

As soon as the governments began the latest attempt to restore
devolution at Leeds Castle in September, it was obvious that
difficult compromises would be necessary - over and above those
that were tentatively agreed by the UUP and Sinn Fein in 2003.

Nothing could be achieved without secrecy, with the governments
acting as go-betweens, but when the politicians begin to speak
their minds in public it is a sign that brick walls may have been

For the DUP, the key requirement is total and transparent
decommissioning, together with a statement that the war is over.
Yet for all the shadow-boxing, on and off stage, it is clear that
despite promises of demilitarisation there has been no Sinn Fein
approach to the IRA and no guarantee of delivery.

At times, everything has seemed to hinge on the IRA agreeing to
photographic evidence of decommissioning, but there is much more to
be settled, if the public is to be satisfied. An inventory would
have to be produced, proving how much weaponry was stored and how
it was dealt with. Republicans might regard this as humiliation,
but there is no other way of showing that violence has been
renounced forever.

The DUP, for their part, would have to prove, in an equally
transparent manner, that they will work all the Good Friday
institutions, including the north-south bodies. Their record in
local government counts against them so, as soon as the IRA is
shown to have faded away, they must embrace both power-sharing and
hand-shaking. Devolution cannot be built on daily battles or

All this is in the future, awaiting an agreement in principle,
followed by a quarantine period during which promises would be
tested. In the meantime, an exasperated public is left with more
questions than answers, trying to interpret the spin from the
governments and the finger-pointers.


DUP Meeting At Downing Street Postponed

2004-12-02 10:50:01+00

The DUP has confirmed tomorrow's planned meeting between party
leader Ian Paisley and British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been

The Downing Street talks are now expected to go ahead on Monday.
The DUP said they were postponed for logistical reasons.

The meeting has been billed as the DUP's final chance to get
clarification on the Irish-British proposals for restoring the
power-sharing institutions in the North before it decides whether
to accept or reject the deal.


Orde Predicts UDA Could Split

02/12/2004 - 07:57:29

PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde has said he believes the Ulster
Defence Association could split in a row surrounding its latest

Last month, the British government agreed to give the organisation
the benefit of the doubt and recognise the cessation despite a
report indicating that the UDA was still deeply involved in
paramilitarism and criminality.

In the intervening period, the loyalist group has been accused of
threatening the lives of two SDLP councillors.

Speaking about the matter last night, Mr Orde said he believed some
UDA members were trying to take the political path, but others were
determined to continue with their criminal and paramilitary

"I think we could well see a split within the UDA," he said.


Belfast man freed on bail by judges

Milnes Set To Enjoy Christmas At Home

By Ben Lowry
02 December 2004

The west Belfast man jailed for assaulting a teenager he believed
was stealing his girlfriend's car has said that he is looking
forward to spending a free Christmas with his family.

Kieran Milnes (28), who has been the subject of a campaign for his
sentence to be quashed, expressed delight at his release on bail by
three judges in the Court of Appeal yesterday.

In what were billed as exclusive interviews in the Irish News and
the Daily Mirror, he thanked the "thousands" who had supported him.

"It gave me a lot of strength," Milnes said, referring to his time
in prison. "It's lonely at night. Lying there with no-one around
you, you think about family and friends. I worried about my mum,
how it affected her."

At the same time as the bail hearing was going on in Belfast other
members of Milnes's family were in London to present the Attorney
General with a petition signed by 5,000 calling for his release.

Milnes was jailed for nine months after he pleaded guilty to
inflicting grievous bodily harm on the 15-year- old suspected

But he now claims that his guilty plea was involuntary and says he
was advised he had no choice but to admit the offence.

His new lawyers will now try to have his guilty plea nullified to
be followed by a retrial before a judge and jury.

Granting bail pending appeal, the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian
Kerr, said: "It must be made clear that this does not in any way
represent a forecast of the outcome of the application for leave to

He said the 15-year-old boy had suffered a depressed compound
fracture of the skull and a doctor who examined him in Lisburn
police station concluded that the injury was consistent with a blow
from a hammer.

Milnes, from Clonard Gardens, has denied using a hammer in the
incident in October 2002, and claimed he was only protecting his
property and his family.

But Sir Brian said a probation officer's pre-sentence report
indicated that he had used a hammer. However, the judges accepted
the submission by defence QC Eilis McDermott that it was an
exceptional case and bail should be granted as Milnes would have
served about half his sentence by the time an appeal was heard.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said he had
"listened carefully" to what Sinn Fein MLA Michael Ferguson and the
Milnes family had to say yesterday.

"He found it very useful to listen to what they had to say, and to
know the extent of public concern in Northern Ireland."

But he "confirmed again" that he had no power to quash the
conviction. "This is a matter for the Court of Appeal to decide,"
said the spokesperson.

Lord Goldsmith stressed that he has "considerable sympathy" with
victims of crime, but said that individuals must not take the law
into their own hands.


Councillors Vote For Smoking Ban

Belfast City Council has voted to introduce a smoking ban at all of
its buildings.

Councillors passed a motion put forward by the Alliance Party at a
meeting last night.

The ban will come into force in April.

The council has also called on the British government to introduce
a smoking ban across Northern Ireland.

Alliance councillor Naomi Long has called for the smoking ban at
all council buildings.

If passed, it will mean cigarettes will be stubbed out for good
from April next year.

The Policy and Resources committee rejected proposals for smoking
rooms to be introduced, because at a price of nearly £1million, it
was considered it was too costly.

Councillor Long believes there is no need to wait for the
government to lead the way.

The move has been welcomed by health groups.


Independent Spirit Looks To Neeson

Irish actor Liam Neeson has been nominated in the Best Male Lead
category at the Independent Spirit Awards, America's art house
equivalent of the Oscars.

Neeson has been nominated for his role as sex researcher Alfred
Kinsey in 'Kinsey' and is competing against Kevin Bacon, Jeff
Bridges and Jamie Foxx.

Irish-American actor Aidan Quinn has scooped a Best Supporting Male
nomination for his role in 'Cavedweller'.

Alexander Payne's 'Sideways', starring Paul Giammatti, picked up
six nominations, with the Spanish-language film 'Maria Full of
Grace' following with five.

Other nominations include 'Metallica: Some Kind of Monster' for the
Best Documentary and 'Bad Education' for Best Foreign Film.

Richard Linklater's 'Before Sunset' will compete in the Best
Screenplay category.

The awards ceremony will take place on 26 February next, a day
before the Oscars.

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