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December 08, 2004

News 12/08/04 - Adams Responds to Govts Comprehensive Agreement

News about Ireland and the Irish

SF 12/08/04 Adams Responds To Govts Comprehensive Agreement
BB 12/08/04 Progress But No Deal Says Blair
BB 12/08/04 'Changing The NI Landscape'
TL 12/08/04 IRA Deal Proposed Full Disarmament
BB 12/08/04 Ask John Hume: Will Power Sharing Return To NIreland?-V
BB 12/08/04 Arrest In Omagh Bomb Inquiry


Gerry Adams Responds To British And Irish Governments Comprehensive

Published: 8 December, 2004

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking at a press conference
in Belfast this evening said that this is a good deal which
reflects accurately the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement,
including its power-sharing, all-Ireland and equality provisions.
He said that the only obstacle which we face is the DUP's
unrealisable demand for the humiliation of Irish republicans.

Mr. Adams said: "Firstly, let me begin by repeating Sinn Féin's
response to the comprehensive agreement as presented to us by the
the governments This is a good deal which reflects accurately the
fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement, including its power-
sharing, all-Ireland and equality provisions. We have, in addition,
made progress across a range of other important issues.

"In relation to the issues which the IRA is responsible for, we
made it clear throughout the recent discussions that these were a
matter for the IRA. However, I am confident that in the context of
a comprehensive agreement that the IRA leadership will resolve
these issues. This is a huge contribution which should liberate the
entire process. All of the issues of substance have been resolved.

"I have listened to the remarks of the Taoiseach and the British
Prime Minister this afternoon. I believe that their comments have
caused some confusion. Let me clarify them. The issue of
photographs was first raised in the week before Leeds Castle. We
were told by two governments that this was a DUP demand. We told
the two governments that in our view this was not achievable. We
were shocked on November 17th when this demand appeared in their
joint proposals. We made clear from the beginning that this was not
a runner.

"The only obstacle which we face is the DUP's unrealisable demand
for the humiliation of Irish republicans.

"I welcome the assertion from Tony Blair that the DUP has agreed to
this package, although I have not heard him saying this publicly.

"No one should be in any doubt that a mighty piece of work has been
done. We must not lose this." ENDS


Progress But No Deal Says Blair

Progress to restore Northern Ireland devolution has been
"remarkable but is not yet complete", Tony Blair has said.

Hopes for a deal were dashed after Ian Paisley's DUP said it was
not signing up, because the IRA was refusing photographs of

Prime Minister Blair and Irish premier Bertie Ahern published joint
government proposals for power-sharing in Belfast.

He said if a deal had been reached there was agreement to complete
IRA decommissioning by Christmas.

Northern Ireland's political institutions have been suspended since
October 2002 amid claims of IRA intelligence-gathering at the
Northern Ireland Office.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern's news conference came just hours after
Mr Paisley confirmed a deal to restore devolution would not be

Mr Blair said: "I think there is an inevitability about this
process which is locked in. I can't see this process going backward
but I do know that it's going to require extra effort to finish the

"This is a transformed landscape in which we operate today but it
won't be properly transformed until we have the devolved
institutions back up and working again."

Referring to the IRA's refusal to allow photographic evidence, Mr
Blair was anxious to play down the notion the IRA had made any
commitment to this and then reneged on it.

"There is no allegation of bad faith here," he said.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said the governments had worked
on the proposals throughout 2004.

"Today is truly different - I don't think it, I know it. We had
obviously wished to be able to present the proposals in the context
of full agreement before we came here - but that is not possible.

"We are not quite at that point of total success. Our work must
therefore continue to secure agreement and closure and what - by
any standards - is a huge, impressive, indeed a landmark package."

He added: "We believe at this point, after many months of
negotiation, our efforts will benefit from wider public appraisal
and that is why we are publishing our proposals."

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said that progress was being held
up by "the demand for a process of humiliation".

Mr Adams said the issue of photographs of decommissioning was first
raised with the party in the week before the Leeds Castle talks in

Mr Adams said: "We were told by the two governments that this was a
DUP demand and we told the governments, in our view it was not

"We were surprised on November 17 when were received their joint
statements when this demand was contained in a paragraph of a draft
IICD report.

"We made it clear then, that this wasn't a runner, in fact we asked
the governments to take it out of their draft outlines. They
explained to us there was no other way of getting the DUP to look
at this."

DUP leader Ian Paisley said that traditional unionists had their
"heads lifted high".

He said the party was moving in the right direction and would
continue to do so.

Mr Paisley said: "We have made significant progress and along with
the government have resolved issues in relation to all aspects of
the comprehensive agreement with the exception of the modalities of

"We were in the process of resolving these outstanding matters when
IRA/Sinn Fein brought their discussions with the government to an
end. Evidently the heat was getting to their toes."

There have been intensive negotiations between the two governments
and the political parties over the past few weeks.

The main issues which have been highlighted in the latest round of
intense talks include decommissioning, demilitarisation, policing
and future devolved institutions.

The negotiations have been conducted through a series of British
and Irish Government intermediaries because the DUP refused to hold
face-to-face talks with Sinn Fein.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/08 18:03:24 GMT


'Changing The NI Landscape'

Northern Ireland's landscape will not be properly transformed until
the devolved institutions are restored, Tony Blair has said.

The prime minister was speaking in Belfast as he and Irish
counterpart Bertie Ahern published their joint government proposals
for power-sharing. Mr Blair said "there is an inevitability about
his process which is locked in".

"I can't see this process going backward but I do know that it's
going to require extra effort to finish the journey.

"I look back and see the vast expanse of territory we've covered
and I know the extra bit we've got to go which, would have looked
absolutely unattainable a few months back, is indeed attainable.

"We will work to get this last hill climbed."

Mr Ahern said a comprehensive deal meant issues being fully
addressed by everyone "otherwise it's a piecemeal deal and that
means major issues being unaddressed".

"We would never have made the progress that we have over the years
had we followed such an approach."

Mr Ahern said the forms of transparency proposed in the
government's proposals had nothing to do with surrender or

"Certainty and clarity are two way streets and let us remember
that. They apply equally to partnership politics as they do to the
process of arms decommissioning," he said.

DUP leader Ian Paisley said that in the past the process had
continued "even when support has been absent from some sections of
the community".

"It must continue now. The IRA can't have a veto in Northern
Ireland and they are not going to have a veto in Northern Ireland."

He said General John De Chastelain had told the DUP the IRA would
not discuss any aspect of decommissioning with the arms body.

"It is absolutely wrong for Gerry Adams to pretend that it is one
thing - the thing about photographs.

"Because if you look at the papers that have been supplied to you
today, you will find that the photographs are mentioned. Hence Mr
Adams was trying to give some hazy explanation why that was in."

'Not achievable'

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said it had been made clear throughout
the discussions that the IRA's matters were for itself to address.

He said all of the issues of substance had been resolved.

The issue of photographs of weapons decommissioning was first
raised with Sinn Fein in the week before the Leeds Castle talks,
and the party was told that it was a DUP demand, he said.

However, Mr Adams had said it was not achievable.

"We were surprised on 17 November when we received their joint
statements when this demand was contained in a paragraph of a draft
IICD report.

"We made it clear then, that this wasn't a runner, in fact we asked
the governments to take it out of their draft outlines. They
explained to us there was no other way of getting the DUP to look
at this."

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said DUP deputy leader Peter
Robinson had alleged the UUP was not concerned last October about
transparent decommissioning "and that we jumped first".

"The fact of the matter is that we were last in the sequence and
stopped the sequence. We didn't jump at all," said Mr Trimble.

The SDLP's Mark Durkan said he did not want to become involved in a
"blame game" over who was responsible for the failure of the deal.

He questioned the amount of spin and hype over the deal only for it
to fail on a basic issue.

Mr Durkan said the issue of photographs had been on the table for
the past three months not the last thirty minutes of the

He said he did not want to see the failure as "another fine mess
but another near miss".

And he called for all parties to become involved in the talks.

Alliance Party leader David Ford said the failure to reach final
agreement on decommissioning should not overshadow the fact that
arrangements for a restored assembly were now in place.

"Today is a deeply disappointing day in many ways. We have seen a
lack of willingness for the DUP and Sinn Fein to move forward
together, due to a lack of confidence in each other's bona fides,"
he said.

'Negative impact'

Irish deputy prime minister Mary Harney said it would be "wrong of
anyone to assume that this was just about photographs, that that
was the only outstanding issue".

She told the Irish parliament: "It would also be important to
acknowledge that the Irish Government did support others in their
request to have photographs published."

She said there had been many pictures published of dreadful
atrocities, a lot of videos used for propaganda purposes.
"Humiliation works both ways," she said.

Former Northern Ireland minister George Howarth said "the hand of
history" was now resting on the shoulder of Mr Paisley.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses said it was concerned
failure to restore devolution would have a negative impact on the

Its chairman, Wilfred Mitchell, said: "Having our own assembly
would end direct rule and provide us with accountable government,
led by ministers who understand the problems facing small business
owners in Northern Ireland.

"The business community in Northern Ireland wants to see a new deal
which would bring back our assembly and other institutions and are
disappointed that we are still not at that stage."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/08 17:47:18 GMT


This is LONDON

08/12/04 - News and city section

IRA Deal Proposed Full Disarmament

The IRA would have consented to photographs under a deal to restore
the Northern Ireland Assembly, according to documents released by
Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern.

According to a draft statement from the international disarmament
body, had a deal been struck there would have been two acts of
disarmament this month destroying the IRA's entire stockpile of

Two clergymen, acting as independent observers, would have
witnessed IRA disarmament which would have been completed by the
end of this month. They would have been able to make public
statements about what they had seen.

A photograph would also have been taken by the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). It would have
been shown to political parties once decommissioning was completed
and would have been published when power sharing was restored in

On the key demand by unionists for photographic evidence, the draft
statement said: "We are aware... that some have argued that more is
required in respect of the transparency of the decommissioning

"On the basis of our recent contacts with the IRA representative,
we are satisfied that this will form part of our two further
reports. The IRA representative has indicated that, in response to
our request to agree mechanisms which would enhance public
confidence in the decommissioning process, additional arrangements
will be put in place.

"These will include the presence as observers during the process of
two clergymen nominated by the two governments following
appropriate consultation.

"These witnesses will be able to make public statements to the
following effect on publication of the final IICD report in
December: (a) that they themselves have attended each
decommissioning event that has taken place since their appointment
as independent witnesses; (b) that the inventory compiled by the
IICD is a true reflection of what was decommissioned.

"In addition, the IRA representative has told us that the IRA will
have photographs of the weapons and materiel involved taken by the
IICD, in the presence of the independent observers."

Under the draft statement, up to date assessments of the IRA's
arsenal would have been given to the IICD from British and Irish
security sources.

The commission would have restated a report by it confirming an end
to decommissioning would have been the best way to enhance public

©2004 Associated New Media


See Video:

Ask John Hume: Will Power Sharing Return To Northern Ireland? -V

Hopes that the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland could
be restored have been dashed. The Prime Minister Tony Blair, and
his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern, had been hoping a deal would be
reached but Ian Paisley's DUP said it was not signing up because
the IRA was refusing photographs of decommissioning. Sinn Fein says
this is an attempt by Mr Paisley to humiliate the IRA.

How can the parties reach an agreement?

The former SDLP leader John Hume, who has been one of the driving
forces behind the peace process, answered your questions..


Newshost: Hello and welcome to this BBC News Interactive forum, I'm
Jacky Rowland. Hopes that the power-sharing government in Northern
Ireland could be restored have been dashed.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his Irish counterpart, Bertie
Ahern, had been hoping a deal would be reached by the time they
outlined their latest proposals in Belfast this afternoon.

The main obstacle is how to verify that the IRA is destroying its
weapons. The leader of the Democratic Unionists, Ian Paisley, has
been demanding photographic evidence. But Sinn Fein says this is an
attempt by Mr Paisley to humiliate the IRA.

Well joining us to answer your questions is the former SDLP leader
and driving force behind the peace process, John Hume who joins us
from our Belfast studio. Welcome Mr Hume.

Obviously you've been listening to a little of what Mr Blair and Mr
Aherne have been saying and so have many of our viewers and

I'm going to go straight in with the first question today which
comes from Philip in Derry who asks: How close did the sides come
this time to making a deal? Or is it the same story as it's been
for the last 10 years or so?

John Hume: Well having heard what I've heard of what the two prime
ministers have been saying and what appears – if I'm correct in
interpreting what they've been saying – is that they agreed about
everything except the publication of photos of the destruction of

Now if that's all that has happened then it means it is a huge area
of agreement and not only that but if the only thing that's
preventing them from implementing the Good Friday Agreement is the
publication of photographs, then that sounds to me very silly.

Because what it means in practice is that people should not forget
that we owe a deep debt of gratitude to General de Chastelain and
his team – they would be confirming that they as experts have
witnessed the destruction of arms. Therefore I think that should
convince the vast majority of people because just think of it
they're saying that they want his word that it has stopped alright
but they also want his photographs to prove it.

I also don't understand why of course the IRA wouldn't agree to it
being photographed if they agreed to it being witnessed being done.
It seems to me to be a very small factor that's preventing a very
major and historic development.

Because one thing we should never forget – and I keep repeating
this – is that for the first time in history the people of our
island have spoken as to how we wish to live together by
overwhelmingly voting north and south for the Good Friday
Agreement. Therefore, it is the duty of all true democrats to
implement the will of the people which means implementing all
aspects of the Good Friday Agreement and that of course includes
decommissioning. The decommissioning would be approved of and it
would be demonstrated by General de Chastelain that that had taken
place. That seems to be all in place and therefore the agreement
should be totally implemented. What seems to be missing now is the
extra demand from the DUP – let's have photographs from General de
Chastelain to prove what he is saying is right.

Newshost: Nevertheless we just seem to be in this stalemate which
brings me to our next question from Caroline, Winchester who asks:
What is the honest view of the majority of people in Northern
Ireland? Surely they must be behind the DUP or Sinn Fein or the
stalemate wouldn't happen like this?

John Hume: Well of course the measurement of the view of the
majority of the people of Northern Ireland was a referendum on the
agreement and that referendum was proposed at the talks leading to
the agreement by myself and my party because we made clear, as we
knew how important it would be, is that the last word should be
with the people and not with the politicians. And of course that
means that the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland have
approved of the agreement and supported the agreement in that
referendum as has the vast majority in the south.

Now that means that those organisations which in the past have
always claimed to be acting in the name of the people, particularly
paramilitary organisations, can no longer claim that. The only way
they can now claim to be acting in the name of the people and the
same applies to the DUP is to implement the will of the people by
implementing all aspects of the agreement.

Newshost: We have a live question coming in now as we're on air.
Paul Nelson in San Diego, USA asks: Mr Hume will you ever return to
the negotiating table?

John Hume: Well of course I have had to announce my retirement for
health reasons and of course being a public representative in
Northern Ireland for the last years does create some stress, to put
it mildly. But any help that I can give obviously I will give and
my party knows of course that I'm available to give any assistance
that is required. And both governments would know because I know
both prime ministers very well and I'd be very, very pleased to
give any help that I can in resolving the situation.

But it seems to me to be a very minor thing that is holding up a
major development. Let me repeat again because it should be
repeated often. General de Chastelain and his team who are experts
and to whom we owe a deep debt of gratitude for the enormous
patience and the amount of time they've given. If they can confirm
as experts that the decommissioning has taken place, then I think
the whole world would accept that and they don't need a photograph
to prove it. But of course I don't see why photographs couldn't be
used to prove it as well.

Newshost: David Norris, St Annes: Ian Paisley represents the
majority of pro union people in Northern Ireland. Surely it is not
unreasonable for him to expect the IRA to provide tangible evidence
that the means of executing acts of terrorism are eliminated?

John Hume: Well obviously we agree that it is reasonable to ask
that they demonstrate that they have ended because at the talks
which led to the Good Friday Agreement and in the Good Friday
Agreement is the commitment for decommissioning and of course Sinn
Fein supported that and the setting up of an international body of
experts under General de Chastelain to prove and demonstrate that
the decommissioning had taken place. So we all agreed to that.

This is an extra demand now and not only will they be viewing the
decommissioning taking place but it is also agreed that two
independent people – a clergyman from the Catholic community and a
clergyman from the Protestant community – would also be present to
witness the decommissioning from both sections of the community.

So if General de Chastelain and those two people were able to
confirm that then I think the vast majority of our community would
believe it. But I don't understand it – now they want photographs
to prove it as well – presumably if the IRA is willing to have
witnesses to them decommissioning why they don't have photographs
of that decommissioning. Perhaps they don't want to be photographed
themselves – that's fair enough - but the actual armaments being
decommissioned being photographed.

Newshost: John, Belfast: Is it just the DUP again trying to stop
the move towards peace?

Ian O'Neill, Dunstable, England: How frustrated are you with the
intransigence of the DUP over the arms issue?

John Hume: I think I am very frustrated obviously and I'm totally
astonished because when you consider what our people in Northern
Ireland have been through for the last 30 years - 1 out of 500 of
our people lost their lives – and think of the enormous suffering
that has done to all of their families and 1 out of 50 people was
maimed or injured. Who could have forecast that the representatives
from all sections from that society would reach agreement but we

My party was actually to the forefront in opposing violence
throughout and also promoted power-sharing in partnership
throughout. In other words promoted what is in fact the Good Friday
Agreement. All of that has now happened and the atmosphere now has
been totally transformed – the atmosphere is now totally peaceful
in all sections of our community. So that being the case, this
minor issue, why is it standing in the way of creating a peaceful

This has been a very important central fact to my party that the
institutions be put in place so that the representatives of both
sections of our community will be not only respecting one another
and respecting both identities but working together in our common
interests in government and in the assembly. The common interests
being socio-economic development and by doing that to erode the
divisions of the past and build a completely new society based on
peace and respect for our differences.

Newshost: Moving on from what you were saying, we have a question
from Stephen Bradley, Manchester: Why do you think it is that the
extremists on either side (SF and DUP) are getting the votes and
not moderate like yourselves and the Ulster Unionists, for example?

John Hume: Well I have to say that in the most recent election I
was naturally very surprised that my party's vote fell somewhat
because as everybody knows our party has been central to resolving
this problem.

And as I've already said in answer to your previous question, our
party has been very consistent throughout the 30 years in opposing
violence and in promoting the ideas like power-sharing in
partnership which is in effect the Good Friday Agreement.

So we are equally surprised that this seems to be a minor issue
because the real issue is, has the violence really totally stopped.
And if international experts can declare that they have proven to
them that that has happened then who cannot accept that?

Newshost: Margie Morgan, Bootle, Merseyside: Why do the Unionist
paramilitaries not seem to be under the same amount of pressure to
destroy their arms as the IRA?

John Hume: Well the reason of course is that the DUP have been
creating the pressure. My attitude and the attitude of my party is
that if a paramilitary organisation declares and declares clearly
and shows that it has stopped its violence and that the true
evidence is that the violence has stopped, then naturally we would
welcome that very much.

Unfortunately in our country violence has been a tradition of
acting in the name of the people. But as we have pointed out and I
have pointed out repeatedly, the time has come – not only in
Ireland but in all areas of conflict – we should make clear that it
is people that are divided not territory.

The real border is not a line on a map it is in the minds and
hearts of people. And when people are divided, violence has no role
to play in bringing them together – it deepens the division. The
only way when you've a divided people that you can solve that
problem is by agreement and by respect for difference because as I
always say difference is an accident of birth. No human being chose
to be born into any race, any religion or any nationality,
therefore these differences are not something people should fight
about, it is something they should respect.

I am hoping that when we finally get peace on our streets – by that
I mean the institutions in place as well as peace on the streets, I
hope that all areas of conflict in the world will learn lessons
from us. Because these principles are at the heart of our agreement
and it is these principles that I believe can help other areas of
conflict in the world.

Newshost: Phil, Birmingham: People never seem to care what those of
us in Britain think. I'm of the opinion that it's not my fault they
can't ever agree. Let's have a vote on whether we want to keep NI
in the UK. What do you think of that? It would be a lot cheaper for

John Hume: Well of course but the position of the British
Government consistently up until we challenged it, was of course
that the majority of people in Northern Ireland wished to be in the
United Kingdom therefore that's it. And of course for very many
years the British governments of the past would not allow the Irish
government to have any say on the serious injustices in Northern
Ireland – the serious lack of civil rights which led to me entering
politics in the first place over 30 years ago as a civil rights

But that being the case in the past, now that we're getting a
society – the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 then made clear that if
a majority of the people of Northern Ireland voted for Irish unity
the British government would legislate for it.

That led me into the peace process be cause I immediately put out a
statement welcoming the fact that the British government had now
declared their neutrality on the future of Ireland and that the
future of Ireland was a matter solely for the people north and
south. And that removed the traditional reasons for violence.
Because the traditional reasons for violence of the IRA was that
the British are in Ireland defending their interests by force
therefore the Irish had a right to use force to put them out. My
challenge was that the traditional reasons were removed therefore
they should stop. That's what led to my talks with them which led
to a very important joint declaration issued by John Major and
Albert Reynolds, the former Irish prime minister. And that led to
the ceasefires and to the talks process which has brought us to
where we are today.

We have made steady progress and even though we have some hiccoughs
today, I have no doubt the will of people must be implemented and
that we will make further progress.

Newshost: Well that's all we have time for. My thanks to our guest
John Hume, and thanks to you all for your questions. But for now,
from me Jacky Rowland, goodbye.


Arrest In Omagh Bomb Inquiry

A County Tyrone man has been arrested in connection with the 1998
Omagh bomb.

Detectives from Dungannon arrested the 44-year-old on Wednesday.

He is being questioned about serious terrorist crime linked to the

Twenty-nine men, women and children died and hundreds were injured
in the car bomb attack in the County Tyrone town on 15 August 1998.

It was the single worst atrocity in 30 years of violence in
Northern Ireland.

To date, only one person, Colm Murphy, has been jailed for having a
role in the bomb. In January 2002 the Special Criminal Court in
Dublin sentenced the Dundalk-based builder and publican to 14 years
in jail.

Murphy and four others; Seamus Daly, Seamus McKenna, Michael
McKevitt, and Liam Campbell are being sued by the Omagh Victims
Civil Action Group.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/08 15:50:49 GMT

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