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December 08, 2004

News 12/08/04 - Govts Fail In Power Sharing Talks

News about Ireland and the Irish

NY 12/08/04 Govt Fail In Talks On Power-Sharing –V(6)
BT 12/08/04 Premiers Propose Deal Over Pictures
WT 12/08/04 Analysis: Paisley Flourishes

NW 12/08/04 NIreland Seeing Influx Of Tourists From South -VO
NW 12/08/04 History Of Queen's University Belfast -VO
NW 12/08/04 Tradition Thriving At Belfast Shoemaker's -VO

Northern Ireland Seeing Influx Of Tourists From South
Nationwide looks at the increased attractiveness of Northern
Ireland as a tourist destination

The History Of Queen's University Belfast
Alasdair Jackson looks at the changes that have taken place at
Queen's University in Belfast over the decades

Tradition Thriving At Belfast Shoemaker's
Rowan Hand meets Belfast shoemaker Pat McKernan


North deal was 'agonisingly close':
Michael Fisher reports on this afternoon's news conference by
Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair

Declan McBennett looks at the key elements in the documents
released by the two governments today

Brian O'Connell, London Editor, reports on reaction to the news
conference and the document

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, assesses the pluses and minuses of
the deal that was almost concluded

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern spoke to Tommie Gorman about his
disappointment, and the continuing controversy about the killers of
garda Jerry McCabe

Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP, and Mitchel McLaughlin, Chairperson of Sinn
Féin give further reaction, especially on the 'photographic
evidence' issue

Charlie Bird, Chief News Correspondent, says he expects an IRA
statement in the next hours

Britain & Ireland Fail In Talks On Power-Sharing Government –V(6)

By Patrick E. Tyler
Published: December 8, 2004

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Dec. 8 - The prime ministers of Britain
and Ireland admitted today that they had failed so far to restore
power-sharing government between Catholics and Protestants in this
British province, which is still trying to recover from three
decades of sectarian violence.

The reason, they said, was that the two sides could not agree on
verifiable means to destroy the last arms caches of the outlawed
Irish Republican Army.

Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern had hoped to appear
together in Belfast's gleaming new Waterfront Hall - a sign of the
economic prosperity that has become more important than politics or
strife for many in Northern Ireland - to celebrate a new agreement.
Instead, they expressed frustration with the process and said they
were now looking for public support to push the parties toward
final compromises before the end of December.

That is the deadline the I.R.A. accepted during the negotiations to
complete final acts of disarmament before independent military
inspectors. It also pledged to declare an end to warfare and to
transform itself into a wholly peaceful organization in return for
a full power-sharing partnership with the Protestant majority.

While saying they had been unable to reach a deal, the British and
Irish leaders said they were on the verge of a significant
breakthrough, and they released the draft texts of an agreement and
draft public statements to show how near they were.

"We are now on the brink of an accommodation that would have been
regarded as impossible a short time ago," said Mr. Ahern. He evoked
the memory of all those who have died - more than 3,000 - or lost
family members in the conflict and added, "It is certainly not
acceptable that we should fall short."

Mr. Blair said that he felt like all the parties to the complex
negotiations had climbed to the peak of a mountain only to find
"another mound to go." Mr. Blair said he was "weary as a traveler"
from the negotiations. But he said he was "not downhearted" given
what he described as the "inevitability" of a final settlement
because, he said, the people of Northern Ireland want it.

For the moment, the snag is all about photographs: whether an
official photographer can document the destruction of I.R.A.
weapons and whether the photographs can then be published in March
when, under the draft agreement made public today, Protestant and
Catholic politicians in the six counties of Northern Ireland would
return to their seat of government at Stormont Castle.

Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the
I.R.A., has said the publication of photographs of weapons would be
an attempt to humiliate the I.R.A. Both Mr. Blair and Mr. Ahern
took care not to criticize the Sinn Fein position, but reiterated
that the destruction of I.R.A. weapons would have to be transparent
and verifiable. Mr. Ahern went farther, saying he had "expected"
the I.R.A. to accept photographing of its disarmament.

The power-sharing assembly and executive for the Catholic and
Protestant communities here was set up in 1998 as part of what is
known as the Good Friday Agreement, brokered with the help of
former Senator George Mitchell as an envoy of President Clinton.
But the shared government was suspended in 2002 over allegations of
I.R.A. spying, which led to recriminations over continued
paramilitary activities on both sides.

Elections in 2003 brought the hard-line Protestants of the Rev. Ian
Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party back to power, raising
questions of whether he would ever agree to share power with the
I.R.A.'s political wing, Sinn Fein.

Today, Mr. Paisley continued to taunt the I.R.A. over the actions
it must perform in order to re-enter the political process.
Speaking to reporters, he called the I.R.A. "bloodthirsty monsters"
and "terrorists" who can only redeem themselves by ending their
"criminality" and submitting to a transparent and verifiable

Mr. Ahern, during the news conference, said that he believed that
despite Mr. Paisley's words, "he does want a fair and honorable
deal." Mr. Blair said he believed it was not "sensible" either for
Protestants to seek humiliation or for Catholics to perceive
Protestant demands for disarmament as humiliating.

The talks failed despite an intervention by President Bush, who
telephoned both Mr. Paisley and Mr. Adams in late November.


Premiers Propose Deal Over Pictures

By Brian Walker
08 December 2004

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern are proposing
a compromise to break the deadlock over photographs that is
stalling the deal, to stand down the IRA and restore the Assembly,
as they arrived at Belfast "to show the people of Northern Ireland
how narrow the gap" between the DUP and Sinn Fein is.

According to the British-Irish draft agreement between the DUP and
Sinn Fein now being published by the governments:

• The IRA would have photographs taken of weapons and material
being put beyond use in the presence of independent observers.

• The photographs would be shown to the governments when all IRA
arms had been disposed of by the end of this month.

• General John de Chastelain's decommissioning body would hold the
pictures until the day before an Executive was formed, possibly by

They would then be released on that day, first to MLAs and then to
the public.

Downing Street says the premiers are determined to "push ahead to
close the gap now and not wait until later in the New Year".

In specific terms General de Chastelain would be satisfied that
"after further meetings with the IRA representatives, his
decommissioning commission "would have agreed arrangements which
will put all arms beyond use by the end of December."

It would also have agreed:

• Two independent observers would attend each decommissioning act.

• The decommissioning body would issue two further reports during
December because of the need for greater transparency, one after
the first decommissioning act, and the other when the disposal of
all IRA arms is complete at the end of the month.

• The witnesses would then be able to make public statements on
what they had seen, and that the inventory compiled by the
decommissioning body was " a true reflection" of what they'd

A new IRA statement would say that in the context of a
comprehensive agreement, the it would "move into a new mode that
reflects its determination to see the transition to a totally
peaceful society brought to a successful conclusion.

"All IRA volunteers have been given specific instructions not to
engage in any activity which might endanger the new agreement."

The draft agreement reflects what has been agreed, subject to
breaking the deadlock over photographs.


Analysis: Paisley Flourishes

By Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst

Washington, DC, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Hard to avoid clichés when people
seem determined to live up to them: After some 40 years of nixing
moves for Protestant-Catholic political reconciliation in Northern
Ireland, the Rev. Ian Paisley did it again Wednesday.

Over the past four decades, Paisley has slowly but inexorably built
up his tough Democratic Unionist Party to be the largest political
body in Northern Ireland by opposing any move to give its 600,000
Irish Catholic minority a major role in running the British
province of 1.5 million people. And on Wednesday, he again
fulfilled the nickname of "Dr. No" that British newspapers have
long bestowed on him.

Paisley, 78, ruled out DUP participation in a revived power-sharing
executive to run Northern Ireland in partnership with Catholic
political parties because the outlawed Irish Republican Army
refused to present photographs that would provide evidence it was

"It is quite clear that the IRA are not going to decommission," he
said Wednesday. "Not only photographs but nothing was discussed or
settled about the independent witnesses, inventory and all of the
things that we were interested in."

This means, Paisley argued, "that the IRA are dead set on keeping
their arms and going on with IRA/Sinn Fein's twofold policy of
democracy and terrorism."

Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the
IRA and the largest Catholic party in the Northern Ireland
Assembly, approved re-entering the power-sharing government to run
the province, also known as Ulster, but drew the line at providing
detailed evidence the IRA was disarming.

This latest failure to revive the peace process that was launched
with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement is a setback for British Prime
Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, both of
who have tirelessly pursued it.

Both the DUP and Sinn Fein can now argue, with some credibility, to
their respective communities that the blame for the latest failure
lies with the other side. Indeed, the grimmest conclusion to be
drawn from the latest breakdown is that Adams and Paisley, and Sinn
Fein and the DUP behind them, will benefit from it.

Both groups became the largest parties in their respective
communities in the last assembly elections by whip-lashing the more
moderate Official Unionist Party of David Trimble and the Social
and Democratic Labor Party of John Hume and Seamus Mallon for being
too moderate and conciliatory toward the other side.

Adams, at least, has repeatedly taken huge risks to participate in
the peace process in the past, but Paisley has flourished as the
biggest political fish in Northern Ireland's tiny pond for so many
decades by always eventually being "The Man Who Says No."

Whenever the peace process in the province has been dealt a body
blow in recent years, its supporters have always been able to
comfort themselves with the sense that whatever the local political
parties said, did and did not do, the facts of peace, security and
greatly increased investment and prosperity meant peace would
endure in reality, regardless of the lack of political formulations
to institutionalize it.

And after the DUP and Sinn Fein became the largest parties last
year, many British and Irish pundits hastened to predict that
mutual interests and the demands of realpolitik would rapidly force
them to become far more moderate and cooperate with each other.

But that has not happened. On the contrary, a breakdown of the
peace process suits Paisley and his party just fine; and provided
they can put the blame for it on Paisley in the eyes of London and
Dublin, it suits Adams and Sinn Fein fine, too.

From the perspective of Sinn Fein, any developments that alienate
Northern Ireland's Protestant unionist majority from the British
people and their political representatives in Westminster are to be
welcomed as milestones toward the long-term goal of driving the
British out of their last enclave in Ireland and isolating the
Protestant community there so it must ultimately acquiesce in a
Southern-dominated untied Ireland.

But Paisley and his supporters, marinated as they are in the
ancient tribal siege culture mentality of Protestant Ulster, also
welcome that kind of go-it-alone prospect, at least in their vivid

And with the Protestant birthrate unexpectedly perking up and
outstripping the Catholic one in the province for the first time in
generations, they also increasingly cherish the belief that if they
resist giving too many concessions to the Catholic community now,
time may be on their side after all.

Northern Ireland did not leap or topple over any precipice
Wednesday, but it certainly accelerated its ominous drift toward

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