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December 06, 2004

News 12/06/04 - Paisley - Is It Yes or No?

News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 12/06/04 Is It To Be Yes Or No Mr. Paisley? –V
BT 12/06/04 Final Bid To Close Talks Gap
BT 12/06/04 Paisley Born Again
BT 12/06/04 Parties Play Blame Game Over Arms Deal
BT 12/06/04 Opin: Dreary Dance Of Deadlines Drags On
SF 12/06/04 Northern Representation Key Sinn Féin Demand
SF 12/06/04 Sinn Féin Receive Confirmation Of Peace Dividend
BT 12/06/04 Foiled: Renegade IRA Bomb Outrage To Spoil Deal
NL 12/06/04 Police Investigate Multiple Stabbing
BT 12/06/04 Irish Hostage's Heroism Helped To Save Lives Of Others
BT 12/06/04 Home Soil At Last For Annetta –V
BT 12/06/04 North's Athletes To Compete For Ireland


See Video:

Is It To Be Yes Or No Mr. Paisley? -V

Published: 6 December, 2004

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, speaking in Belfast this
morning said "the Question which must be asked and answered by Ian
Paisley is - is he prepared to sign up to a comprehensive agreement
which will have his party share power with Sinn Féin? Is it Yes or
is it No?

In the next 48 hours we have the opportunity to make a quantum leap
forward in the process.

Is all of this going to be thrown away because Ian Paisley does not
get the process of humiliation he wants?"

The Sinn Féin President added:

"After the Leeds Castle talks, it was publicly acknowledged by the
two governments that substantial progress had been made. The two
governments need to follow through on the logic of this.

"Republicans are up for a deal. We want the institutions back up
and running, we want the Agreement implemented and we want the
agenda for change to continue. That is why we have gone the extra

"But with 48 hours left Ian Paisley has to start saying Yes. The
DUP refusal to embrace power sharing and equality can no longer be
used as an excuse to paralyse the process of change." ENDS


Final Bid To Close Talks Gap

DUP and Sinn Fein in war of words as deadline looms

By Chris Thornton and Brian Walker
06 December 2004

Talks to restore Stormont were approaching boiling point today
after the DUP and Sinn Fein accused each other of standing in the
way of progress.

As London and Dublin declared tomorrow night to be the latest in a
series of deadlines for the deal, another major push was under way
to close the serious gaps between the two parties that would be
expected to share power in a revived Assembly.

The British and Irish governments appeared to enter the spirit of
brinkmanship that has dogged the talks, by indicating that Prime
Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern would travel to
Belfast on Wednesday.

Sources said they intend to seal a deal or, if a settlement cannot
be reached, publish the proposals that were rejected - which
amounts to an invitation for the public to decide who to blame for
the failure.

Sinn Fein and the DUP, the parties that would be expected to share
power at Stormont if a deal is reached, accused each other of
holding back the process.

The continuing complaints about various aspects of the package have
been widely seen as an indication that the deal is in difficulty,
although the parties could be playing brinkmanship in order to win
greater advantage.

DUP leader Ian Paisley was due to return to Downing Street today to
tell the Prime Minister that his party is still not satisfied with
the shape of the package.

They say they are particularly seeking more explicit commitments on
IRA decommissioning, alongside last week's demand that photographs
of the arms disposal be released immediately after the event.

"There will be no signing up until we know the details in writing,"
said a key DUP source.

"There have to be comprehensive details for a comprehensive

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has indicated his party is ready
for the deal on offer, but has accused the DUP of seeking more from
the IRA than republicans can stomach.

He said the DUP was in danger of throwing away a historic
opportunity to "end physical force republicanism" because it wants
to humiliate the IRA.

But the DUP complained that no firm commitments have been made by
the IRA. Mr Paisley said that if the IRA does not engage
immediately with decommissioning chief General John de Chastelain
"we will know the whole exercise was one of deception by Sinn Fein-

DUP MP Nigel Dodds added: "The ball now rests very firmly in the
IRA's court.

"Gerry Adams lectures the DUP about saying yes. Yet the republican
movement is still saying no to engaging with the IICD on the
absolutely fundamental issue of decommissioning.

"It is high time the IRA stopped hiding and sat down with the
General De Chastelain to agree the details of decommissioning.
Until they do that and we see the colour of their money the DUP
will not be taking any risks with the future of the people of this

Before the crucial talks between Tony Blair and Ian Paisley, DUP
MPs headed by Peter Robinson were meeting Paul Murphy to discuss
the proposed "peace dividend" Mr Murphy confirmed the Government
intends to deliver, in letters to the DUP and Sinn Fein before the

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin welcomed the proposed package
on Saturday.

Among their proposals, the DUP leaders were pressing Mr Murphy to
provide £50 to £100m to offset the extra costs of water
privatisation, and move it "off balance sheet" for government


Paisley Born Again

Earlier this year he was being written off by some political
commentators. Ian Paisley, the Big Man of Ulster politics, seemed a
frail shadow of his former self. Questions were being asked about
his health - and about his leadership. Yet, in a remarkable
turnaround the reinvigorated DUP leader is now once again centre
stage in political developments and tipped to become Ulster's next
First Minister if devolution is restored.

Political Correspondent Noel McAdam reports
06 December 2004

Ian Paisley finally receives the freedom of his Ballymena heartland
this week. After months of controversy, a lavish ceremony at the
Galgorm Manor Hotel on Friday night will formally confer the honour
on the man who has been the town's MP for more than 30 years.

But by then the DUP leader may have his eyes firmly fixed on a
still bigger prize - becoming the next First Minister of Northern

Depending on his meeting today with Tony Blair and developments in
the next few days, the prospect of a revived power-sharing Stormont
should be closer than at any point since the aborted 'sequence'
between Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists more than a year ago.

If the outcome is positive and the outworkings go well over the
next few months - and he actually turns out to want the job - Mr
Paisley could be in office in time for his 79th birthday in April.

Some associates suggest the veteran firebrand politician and
religious leader would then stand down when he is 80 to spend more
time with his first love, his Church.

His rise to joint stewardship of Northern Ireland with Sinn Fein
(the First and Deputy First positions being co-equal) would, by any
standards, be a remarkable culmination to a political career
pockmarked by activism, agitation and anger.

Yet how different it seemed only a few months ago when major
questions were being asked about his health - and about his
leadership. . .

It is a seemingly reinvigorated Ian Paisley who has been centre-
stage of the political process since the Leeds Castle summit 12
weeks ago.

He had however, been forced to travel by ferry to that three-day
Kent gathering after protracted media speculation about his health.
His judgement, even his ability to endure intense meetings, was
being called into question.

In August the 'Doc' went into hospital for what his family
described as 'routine' tests. He appeared visibly frail, his
booming voice increasingly faltering. He denounced some journalists
as 'Romanists'.

A North Antrim friend who knows him through church work now says:
"The Big Man is a new man. He seems restored, he is thriving on all
this. And it is great to see it."

The Paisley family understandably circles the wagons when it comes
to the husband, father and grandfather's health but other sources
have indicated there was a contributory problem with his original
medication prescription.

In September, he wrote in his regular religious affairs magazine,
The Revivalist: "I stand forth today wonderfully healed to 'bless
the hand which guided and to bless the heart that planned' and
knowing I'm still heading for Emmanuel's land.

"I know that I have something else to do for my Lord down here and
I want to do it with all my heart and mind."

Which he has set his heart and mind to, meeting Mr Blair for one-
to-one talks at least twice and dispelling the jibe that since and
before the "fuss at the bus" clash with Ulster Unionists during the
election last year he is only allowed out if Peter Robinson is
pushing the buttons.

Now, as always, the Big Man is his own man.

He was in good form for his ground-breaking first visit to Dublin
to hold court with a Fianna Fail leader. For breakfast in the Irish
embassy he jokingly ordered two hard boiled eggs which he asked to
open himself so that, he told Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, he could make
sure he wouldn't be poisoned.

Behind the crack, Mr Paisley knows he is engaged in the most
intense and potentially far-reaching negotiations of his life.

If he and republicanism can come to accommodation, what could
prevail against it?

It was church duties which last Friday prevented Mr Paisley from
travelling to Scotland to see Tony Blair to try to clinch a deal.
But by this Friday it should be done - or dust.

Funny enough, the 'Freedom' event is the one out of many recent
chances for a chat with the DUP leader of which Mr Blair seems
unable to avail. He has sent his apologies.

And the PM isn't the only politician opting out. Not only
republicans, but moderate nationalists have made no apology for
their absence.

SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan said he had shaken Mr Paisley's hand
in the past but would still be among those staying away.

"Anyone who knows our role in Ballymena will know it is our
instinct to participate in civic occasions but there are specific
issues around this that mean, with regret, that it won't be
appropriate for us to attend," he said.

The 'Freedom' award should have "whole community support" but they
felt Mr Paisley's political record over many years has been deeply
divisive and not unifying.

Which underlines, if such were needed, the distance Mr Paisley has
to travel to gain anything other than opprobrium from most

Paisley's is a long legacy: it is 40 years since he made a big
issue of the flying of a tricolour in the Falls Road republican
headquarters, which police removed; 30 years since the first
loyalist workers' strike ("This is one we can't afford to lose") -
and 20 years since the Ulster Says No campaign.

Memories in Ulster run long and the Paisley snapshots are legion.
His response to the Downing Street Declaration: "You have sold
Ulster to buy off the fiendish republican scum". His attempt to
take over the Press centre as the talks which lead to the Good
Friday Agreement reached fruition, when he was shouted down by
Ulster Democratic and Progressive Unionist supporters. And so on.

Yet he shows no sign of recognising any need of reinvention.

His cry that the IRA needed to be humiliated and openly wear
sackcloth and ashes was vintage Paisley and, Gerry Adams, warned,
compounded the blockage preventing agreement. Though the DUP has
its own hardliners to appease, the remarks were also interpreted as
perhaps an attempt to scupper an early deal.

Even supporters who argue that if any unionist leader can deliver
on a deal, it is Paisley, admit he will have a hard sell.

"Some of these people see him as a prophet," one of the many
attending the 'Freedom' dinner says. "They will have a hard time
believing he is coming to terms with Republicans - it will be like
Moses giving in to the Egyptians."


Parties Play Blame Game Over Arms Deal

IRA must arrange monitors, says DUP

By Chris Thornton
06 December 2004

Major snags over decommissioning continued today to block attempts
at securing political partnership between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the DUP was in danger of
throwing away an historic opportunity to "end physical force
republicanism" because it wants to humiliate republicans.

But the DUP complained that the details of what the IRA is prepared
to do have been so far fudged away - and need to be spelled out
explicitly to the Independent International Commission on

The DUP has also called for the decommissioning process to be
photographed, with those pictures produced immediately afterwards.

After meeting decommissioning chief General John de Chastelain on
Saturday, DUP leader Ian Paisley said the process "is being held
back by the republican movement".

He said that if the IRA does not engage with General de Chastelain
"we will know the whole exercise was one of deception by Sinn

"We discovered from the General that as yet the IRA has not met
with him to discuss the details of the proposed decommissioning
events," the DUP leader said.

"It is amazing that the Prime Minister is in the business of
setting deadlines for the incoming week when this most important
matter has not been discussed with those whom we expect to
decommission their illegal arsenal.

"We are not going to be bluffed or buy a pig in a poke on a matter
that affects the lives of the present and future generation of
Ulster people."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams indicated that the DUP is asking
too much.

DUP MP Nigel Dodds repeated Mr Paisley's call.

"It is appalling that at this late stage the IRA has not seriously
engaged with the de Chastelain Commission on the details of
decommissioning," he said.

"Gerry Adams lectures the DUP about saying yes.

"Yet the republican movement is still saying no to engaging with
the IICD on the absolutely fundamental issue of decommissioning.

"It is high time the IRA stopped hiding and sat down with the
General de Chastelain to agree the details of decommissioning."


Stop The Music As The Dreary Dance Of Deadlines Drags On

Malachi O'Doherty
06 December 2004

The optimists believe that a deal is imminent. They include some
who have been hopeful at every stage in the peace process, just as
the pessimists include some who seem always to have talked down the

The inevitable question from every other journalist you meet is,
well, what do you reckon?

I risk sounding like the only journalist who hasn't got the inside
story - but I don't.

And I'm not sure that the IRA "army council" confides its
intentions to anyone.

And for all the giddy enthusiasm I hear from some in the DUP, I
don't doubt that Paisley is still in the game and free to choose to
crash it, defer it or seal it.

He may not have decided himself yet which it is to be.

The logic of the optimists is this: it makes more sense for the
Provos to deliver to Paisley than it ever did for them to deliver
to Trimble. Paisley can lead a huge unionist majority; that's the

The risk for the Provos however is that Paisley might do to them
what they did to Trimble - get them to jump first and then withdraw
the reward.

If they disarm first, as an advance payment for Paisley entering
the Executive, he might thank them for the guns then slap them
about the head for a while, just because they deserve it. At least
in the conspiratorial mind of a republican, that is a perfectly
plausible danger.

The Provos conned Trimble into thinking they would disarm if he set
up the Executive, then didn't and he pulled it down again.

No one knows better than they do what devious ploys are at hand in
a game like this, so they would feel particularly stupid if they
fell for one.

But of course the DUP wants into the Executive. Like the Provos, it
fantasises about an alternative - moving on without Sinn Fein - but
no such alternative is feasible. Sinn Fein wants the two
Governments to rule jointly if the DUP won't settle terms agreeable
to the IRA but this is nonsense too.

The other plank of logic that says this will work this time is the
pressure that the Governments bring to bear. If the Governments can
plausibly say that this is an opportunity that will not come back,
then they might force the DUP and Sinn Fein to make a deal.

The trouble is that they have tried that over and over again and it
has never worked. There has always been another deadline available
to anyone who wanted it.

So why are journalists who have for years watched a Provo strategy
of deferring indefinitely now persuaded that that strategy has

Why do they assume that Paisley has changed his character when it
is equally plausible that he is simply playing the Provos at their
own game, talking willing while planning to procrastinate?

Some reason that Robinson is the real future of the DUP and that he
is a pragmatist. But it is clearly Paisley who is leading the

If Robinson is secretly more amenable than Paisley, then it makes
sense for the Provos to procrastinate yet again and save their
prize for him.

If Robinson were Brutus he would have moved years ago.

There is another big difference between this deadline and all the
others that preceded it. If it becomes clear this time, through the
failure to make a deal that could be worked out in ten minutes by
willing parties, that both sides are simply toying with the
process, then there will be no point in the Governments coming back
to be trifled with again.

The smart thing for both sides, even if they don't want to settle
terms now, would be to try to keep options open for a future round
of negotiations. The smart move for the Governments would be to
shut down any chance of them doing that and dragging this out.

Of course, for that they would need an alternative to the Agreement
and they haven't been able to think of one so they are likely to
continue to be putty in the hands of Paisley and Adams.

They may console themselves that they are hobbling round the
Mulberry Bush for the good of the people of Northern Ireland. It
must be particularly irksome for them to see that the people of
Northern Ireland have lost interest.


Northern Representation Key Sinn Féin Demand

Published: 6 December, 2004

Commenting on reports that Six County MPs are to secure rights to
represent their electorate in the Dail, Sinn Féin TD for Louth
Arthur Morgan said that this had long been a key demand for his

Deputy Morgan said: "Sinn Féin has been campaigning for Northern
representation in the Daíl and Senand as a matter of right for many
years. If provisions are made for unionist MPs to attend and speak
at Westminster then similar measures should be put in place for
nationalist and republican representatives in the Daíl.

"Sinn Féin has presented detailed proposals on this issue to both
the Oireachtas committee tasked to deal with this matter and in
various negotiations with the Irish government including the latest
one. I believe that the case for Northern Representation is
compelling and our representations have received a positive
hearing. I am hopeful that early progress can now be made on this
important issue of equality and democratic rights in the time


Sinn Féin Receive Confirmation Of Peace Dividend

Published: 6 December, 2004

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has revealed that
the British government have confirmed in writing to Sinn Féin that
they will deliver a peace dividend as part of any deal.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"Sinn Féin have been arguing strongly within the negotiations for
the British Government to deliver a substantial peace dividend as
part of any overall deal. I believe that the case we put to them
was irrefutable.

" The British government have now agreed that a significant peace
dividend is necessary. I obviously welcome that. But the content
and terms suggested to us by Paul Murphy fall very short of what is
required. Sinn Fein will now meet with the British Government to
ensure that any peace dividend is significant enough to make a real
impact, particularly on the human rights and equality agendas.

"Having brought the British government to this position, we will
continue to press them to ensure that any financial package is
significant and that it is used to the benefit of those communities
which have suffer most from the conflict". ENDS


Foiled: Renegade IRA Bomb Outrage To Spoil Deal

By Tom Brady, Security Editor, Irish Independent
06 December 2004

Gardai last night disrupted plans by republican dissidents to wreck
the peace process in the North with a major new bombing campaign.

The new offensive was to have been mounted by the Real IRA to
coincide with an expected agreement on the restoration of power-
sharing government.

Three key dissident suspects were in Garda custody after a series
of raids on the homes of renegade republicans across the State.

The house raids followed an anti-terrorist operation in which a car
travelling from Dublin to Donegal was stopped by armed gardai in

Inside the car detectives found eight timers to have been used in
bombs and arrested two suspects, from Dublin and Donegal.

A third man was detained late last night in Inchicore in Dublin and
further house searches were carried out in the capital, Donegal and

The operation, which involved the Special Branch, Emergency
Response Unit, National Surveillance Unit and Donegal gardai, had
been under way for several days.

A senior anti-terrorist officer said: "The most significant aspect
of this operation is that we have disrupted plans by a group of the
Real IRA based in Derry and Donegal for a new bombing campaign that
was due to have got under way almost immediately."


Police Investigate Multiple Stabbing

By Philip Bradfield
Monday 6th December 2004

Police were last night still trying to get to the bottom of a row
in Newry on Saturday in which five people were stabbed.

At about 2am, a car rammed a parked minibus in the centre of the
city's night-life district before its passengers got out and
smashed the minibus windows.

They then stabbed five people in the minibus with some type of
blade, possibly a samurai sword, though all injuries were

The incident happened at the junction of the Merchant's Quay and
Francis Street.

One report claimed there were advance rumours in pubs that the
attack was to take place, allegedly against a group from outside

The car involved was crashed through a nearby barrier and left at
the scene.

SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said it was a "particularly brutal and
vicious attack".

He said: "The horrific nature of this attack, and the lengths the
perpetrators went to inflict damage and harm, almost beggars

In what police believe may be a related incident, a woman was
knocked down by a darkcoloured Vectra and was treated in hospital
for minor injuries.

There were also claims that a man was beaten with a hammer as he
left a bar and that another man was seen in a row during which an
axe was produced.

The mainly elderly residents of Francis Street have long complained
about the behaviour of revellers from nearby licensed premises in
the small hours of the morning.

They complain of fighting, smashing glasses and bottles, urinating
and damage to the front of their properties.

A pre-planned meeting between licensed premises holders and Sinn
Fein went ahead yesterday, with about 50 residents attending.

Sinn Fein member Ewan Morgan said efforts will be made to break up
"gang culture" by moving revellers out of the area as soon as they
leave licensed premises.

Police last night made a renewed appeal for witnesses and


Irish Hostage's Quiet Heroism Helped To Save Lives Of Others

By Daniel McGrory
06 December 2004

Annetta Flanigan, frightened and chained up in the freezing cold of
her Afghan prison, used all her charm to persuade her kidnappers to
spare the lives of herself and two other United Nations hostages as
gunmen prepared to kill them.

The 43-year-old election official kept talking softly as she and
her fellow captives were made to lie face-down and guns were shoved
against their heads.

Refusing to panic, the Irishwoman asked about the gunmen's families
and told stories about her own home in a desperate effort to disarm
her captors.

For the first time Ms Flanigan's quiet heroism has been revealed by
UN colleagues as reports from Kabul claim that her captors have
fallen out over which of them has run off with the $1.5m (?1.2m)
cash ransom that they were allegedly paid.

She has been reluctant to talk publicly about her role in resolving
this hostage crisis and the growing controversy over the alleged
ransom deal.

Ms Flanigan returned yesterday to her home town of Richhill, Co
Armagh. Since being freed she had been recuperating with her
husband, the Spanish diplomat Jose Maria Aranaz.

Last night she returned to an emotional reunion with her family.

Ms Flanigan and the other hostages have been instructed to say
nothing about the deal to free them but the continuing intrigue in
Kabul over how much was paid for their release is overshadowing the
arrival in the capital of international dignitaries for the
inauguration tomorrow of President Hamid Karzai.

UN diplomats insist that they paid no money but a senior official
said: "We are still trying to figure out what happened and why they
were freed."

It would be a huge embarrassment if the UN were found to have
connived in using go-betweens to pay off kidnappers when its
official stance is to do no deals with hostage-takers.

It was on their first night in captivity that the three thought
that they were to be shot when they were made to lie face-down in
the dirt.

From then on Ms Flanigan, Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan and
Shqipe Hebibi, from Kosovo, decided on "a goodwill offensive"
towards their captors. They smiled, refused to lose their temper
and adopted Ms Flanigan's tactic of trying to make conversation.

Only after eight days were they allowed to brush their teeth, and
it took a fortnight of negotiating to get fresh underwear.

They were eventually allowed outside for fresh air and sat with
their captors watching Afghan children flying kites. The hostages
were given books and allowed to play cards.

"I'm really grateful to God that I was with two strong women," Mr
Nayan said.

The day they were freed, their captors embraced all three hostages,
apologised for what they done and then drove them to Kabul.


See video at:

Home Soil At Last For Annetta -V

By Michael McHugh
06 December 2004

The agonising wait of former Afghan hostage Annetta Flanigan's
family was over today as the Richhill woman returned home to a
heartwarming welcome.

Ms Flanigan (43) had planned to visit her home village before
Christmas and yesterday's emotional reunion was the end of a month-
long ordeal suffered by her family.

Ms Flanigan flew into Belfast's City Airport on Sunday afternoon
with her Spanish husband Jose after a short holiday.

She was expected to go straight to her home but the terrace
building on Richhill's Main Street seemed deserted this morning and
there was no answer to the door.

The UN worker was seized at gunpoint along with two of her election
monitor colleagues in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

After weeks of intensive negotiations, during which several threats
were made to kill her, she was released last month.

Armagh councillor Jim Speers has been monitoring the hostage crisis
and said he was relieved for the family that Annetta had now
returned home.

"The whole village will be delighted by the news and they will be
providing great support to the family," he said.

Armagh City and District Mayor Eric Speers said he would be willing
to organise some civic recognition for Ms Flanigan.


North's Athletes To Compete For Ireland

By Helen Bruce
06 December 2004

Athletes from the North will compete for Ireland instead of the UK,
under a new pact which will unify Irish athletics for the first
time in almost 70 years.

Dr Martin McAleese, husband of President Mary McAleese, has been
asked to chair talks between officials of both southern and
northern athletics organisations, who have indicated a willingness
to bury the hatchet.

The rival groups spilt acrimoniously in 1935 in a dispute said to
be more motivated by politics than by sport.

Such talks could take place in Dundalk as early as February,
following encouraging premliminary negotiations in Dublin.

It would see athletics follow the example set by other sports, such
as rugby, which has an all-Ireland team.

A senior advisor to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was quoted in a Sunday
newspaper as saying: "The timing of the moves to bring all Irish
athletes together in one organisation is very significant."

The new umbrella organisation would have to be approved by the UK
athletics board and by the world governing body, the International
Amateur Athletics Federation.

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