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December 08, 2004

News 12/08/04 - PMs Put Positive Gloss On Progress Made

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 12/09/04 Ahern, Blair Put Positive Gloss On Progress Made-V(4)
IT 12/09/04 Governments' Document Is A Good Deal, Says Adams
IT 12/09/04 Republicans Pulled Plug On Deal, DUP Leader Insists
IT 12/09/04 DUP Now Accepts Belfast Agreement, Says Trimble
IT 12/09/04 Failure To See Big Picture Brings Deal Down
IT 12/09/04 Governments Have A Lot Done, But A Lot More To Do
GU 12/08/04 Comment: Castrate The Younger Men
SF 12/08/04 Gerry Adams Letter To An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
TE 12/08/04 Timeline: Troubled Path Of Peace Process
UT 12/08/04 Irish Officials Are To Get Access To Sellafield
IT 12/09/04 O'Donoghue Urges Tourist Industry To Review Prices
IT 12/09/04 Tara Protection Plan Abandoned
IT 12/09/04 Internet Campaign: More Than 2,000 Pro-Tara Signatures


Momentous Day In Peace Process still fails to bring about deal

Leaders cite progress but North deal still elusive
Declan McBennett reports on the specifics of the governments' joint
proposals for a deal in Northern Ireland

Declan McBennett gets the opinons of some people on the streets of
Belfast to today's developments

Paisley urges govts to proceed without Sinn Féin
Brian O'Connell, London Editor, reports on the reaction of both the
DUP and Sinn Féin to yet another near miss in the Northern peace

Charlie Bird, Chief News Correspondent, and Tommie Gorman, Northern
Editor, assess the wider significance of today's developments

Ahern, Blair Put Positive Gloss On Progress Made –V(4)

Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent

Leaders' press conference: The Taoiseach and the British Prime
Minister insisted yesterday that they had brought unionists and
republicans within sight of a comprehensive agreement, with Mr
Ahern saying that he thought a deal by Christmas was still

The two yesterday published extensive documentation on the recent
political negotiations and emphasised the progress which had been
made rather than the failure to reach agreement.

Speaking to reporters in Belfast, Mr Ahern said he would like to
see the process completed by Christmas, adding: "I still believe
that is possible."

Mr Blair said that the Northern Secretary, Mr Paul Murphy, and the
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, would meet again in
the next few days to discuss how more progress might be made.

While there is growing concern that the political process may be
stalled until after next year's expected British general election,
Mr Ahern said that just a few items remained unresolved.

Mr Blair said that the documents were being published to allow the
people of Ireland, north and south, to discuss and debate the
matter. Just one difficult issue remained, which was whether
decommissioning should be photographed.

He said that in June of this year, in talks in Lancaster House,
four areas had been identified which needed resolution: the end of
paramilitary activity; decommissioning; the amendment of aspects of
the Belfast Agreement, to provide the basis of power-sharing
between the DUP and Sinn Féin; and policing.

"Now," he said, "there is an agreement to sort out an end to
paramilitarism, an agreement to complete decommissioning, an
agreement that there should be power-sharing, an agreement on the
basis of that power-sharing, and an agreement in respect of
policing. Those of you who have studied this over the years will
realise that to have agreed all those matters is very considerable

The Taoiseach also emphasised the level of agreement shown in the
documents. "Here you have a package that covers decommissioning,
demilitarisation, stability of the institutions, policing for the
future, all of the things we have endlessly been answering
questions about. They have now been agreed."

Mr Blair said the difficulty was the belief on the unionist side
that it was "necessary that the decommissioning be photographed and
the photographs published". This had not been agreed to.

He said that the British and Irish governments had submitted a
compromise proposal which would have allowed the photographs be
taken at the time of decommissioning but published when the
executive was set up. "We believe that that would have been a
workable compromise, but there we have not, for the present at any
rate, found agreement."

The Taoiseach said it was not for him or Mr Blair to decide whether
photographs were necessary to secure public confidence in the
decommissioning process. "We listen to what the parties say . . .
It's not that we saw it as necessary or not."

Mr Blair paid tribute to the North's politicians, saying it was
wrong to take a cynical view of them because of the failure to
reach agreement. "It is thanks to political courage shown by the
UUP and SDLP, in particular, that we managed to get the Good Friday
agreement, and Sinn Féin, too, of course. It is thanks to a lot of
political courage on the part of the DUP who, after years of
believing they had to say 'no', I believe are finally prepared to
say 'yes'. It has been very hard and very difficult for republicans
to travel the road they have travelled and I pay tribute to the
leadership of Sinn Féin in helping them do that."

The Taoiseach said that everything was now agreed "bar a few
issues". He continued: "I'm not saying it's just one. Obviously,
General John de Chastelain would have to finalise his conversation
with the IRA representative and to get everything in place to
ensure these things are done properly. That didn't happen because
we didn't get to that stage."

"The issue of the photographs has not been agreed," Mr Blair said.
"Everything else has been agreed. I believe all the other
modalities of decommissioning could be agreed, but this is the
outstanding question, and it is to do with confidence on the one
side and the desire on the other side that they not participate in
anything that they regard as humiliating."

While the issue of photographs had not been agreed, Mr Ahern and Mr
Blair denied that the IRA had reneged on any earlier commitment.

"There is no allegation of bad faith here," said Mr Blair. "We are
not saying that people came to an agreement and then reneged on an

Mr Ahern also said there had not been a breach of faith. It was
simply that agreement could not be found.

In relation to Dr Ian Paisley's comments that the IRA needed to be
humiliated and to wear "sackcloth and ashes", he said: "If harsh
words were going to put us off seeking an agreement in Northern
Ireland, we are never going to have an agreement in Northern
Ireland. I understand the very strong feelings caused by words that
are spoken, but I still think we have just got at some point to be
able to put that to one side and get on with it."

© The Irish Times


Governments' Document Is A Good Deal, Says Adams

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Sinn Féin reaction: The governments' document released yesterday
is a good deal which reflects accurately the fundamentals of the
Belfast Agreement, Sinn Féin said.

At his party's office on Falls Road, Belfast, following the two
premiers' press conference, Mr Gerry Adams said the paper dealt
satisfactorily with the agreement's power-sharing, all-Ireland and
equality provisions.

But he emphasised that his party had made clear back in September
that the proposal for a decommissioning photograph was not
achievable. The party president confirmed that substantial progress
had been made in other important areas.

Issues relating to the IRA were a matter for the IRA, he said,
adding that "in the context of a comprehensive agreement, the IRA
leadership will resolve these issues". That was a "huge
contribution," he said "which can liberate this process".

He said that as far as Sinn Féin was concerned, all issues of
substance were resolved. The matter of photographs was first raised
in the week before the Leeds Castle talks in Kent last September.

"We were told by the two governments that this was a DUP demand,"
he said. "We told them, in our view that this was not achievable.
We were surprised on November 17th when we received their joint
statement when this demand was contained in a paragraph of a draft
of an IICD [ Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning] report. . . We asked the two governments to take
it out."

But Mr Adams said the governments' response was to claim there was
no other way of getting the DUP to agree. He and Mr Martin
McGuinness approached the IRA leadership and relayed its opinion to
the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister.

A senior republican later told The Irish Times an IRA statement
could be made available before the weekend once consultation among
its membership was complete.

Mr Adams also claimed that by publishing details of points of
dissention between republicans and the DUP, the governments were
masking the substantial progress made.

He did not wish to respond to comments made by the Tánaiste in the
Dáil yesterday about "humiliation working both ways".

He preferred to point to what the Rev Ian Paisley had agreed to:
"He said 'yes' to power-sharing, has said 'yes' to the various
strands, has said 'yes to the all-Ireland structure . . . except
for one."

Mr Adams claimed Dr Paisley wanted the IRA to be humiliated. "This
[ process] should not be let fall on the basis of this demand," he

© The Irish Times


Republicans Pulled The Plug On The Deal, DUP Leader Insists

DUP press conference: The DUP leader has insisted that republicans
alone were responsible for the failure of the British-Irish
governments' proposals to restore devolution. The Rev Ian Paisley
repeated and stood over his comments that the IRA must be

He said the British government should press ahead in the political
process without Sinn Féin. He said significant progress was made in
all areas apart from decommissioning.

"We were in the process of resolving these outstanding matters when
Sinn Féin/IRA brought their discussions with the [ British]
government to an end. We will continue in the task of fulfilling
our manifesto pledge of seeking a fair deal for all the people of
Northern Ireland," he told a press conference yesterday evening.

"It is clear from the remarks of the Prime Minister and Bertie
Ahern where the responsibility for the current impasse lies. One
hardly needs to read between the lines to see that it was the
inability of the republican movement to decommission in the manner
that was expected by the two governments. No one should be in any
doubt that it was the IRA that said no," added the DUP leader.

He said that republicans "have to repent their evil deeds and show
they have repented".

The IRA could not be allowed to hang on to weapons "which are
covered with the blood of my friends and my neighbours", he added.
Dr Paisley accused republicans of "pulling the plug" on the deal
even as the "outstanding issues on decommissioning" were still
under discussion on Tuesday.

"In these circumstances it is important that the government should
proceed on the basis that they have set out and with the parties
which are willing to sign up to the arrangements. In the past the
process has continued whenever our support is absent.

"Now it is time, if republicans are not prepared to decommission in
a manner which will give confidence to the community, to continue
without them until they can meet the terms required by the
government in their paper.

"We believe that in the other aspects of the paper we have achieved
very considerable progress. Even Bertie Ahern conceded that it was
our right to argue for new arrangements in relation to the running
of devolved institutions."

Dr Paisley said the DUP had laid to rest the argument that the
Belfast Agreement was an "invincible, infallible and unchanging"
deal. "We have succeeded in the talks to fulfil the mandate that we
were given and our Prime Minister accepted that the DUP got the
changes they demanded."

He said the head of the decommissioning body, Gen John de
Chastelain, told him that when he met the IRA it would not talk
about "any matter concerning decommissioning", in relation to
inventories, independent witnesses or photographs.

Dr Paisley said there was a requirement for photographs in the
governments' blueprint. The DUP wanted a full photographic record
of "the complete decommissioning process so that the man in the
little garden, that I have described, who is worried about the
future can see for himself that they have been decommissioned".

Dr Paisley said Sinn Féin was not a democratic party and he would
only talk to Sinn Féin when the IRA gave up their weapons, ended
their criminality, and it was clear it was a peaceful party.

"We do not talk to those who are terrorists and hold onto their
weapons. Once that finishes then we can talk with them. It doesn't
mean we will have a love-in with them. It does not mean we accept
their pernicious principles, but it does mean we will recognise
their mandate and talk to them."

© The Irish Times


DUP Now Accepts Belfast Agreement, Says Trimble

Dan Keenan

SDLP, UUP reaction: Ulster Unionists and the SDLP have said
yesterday's proposed deal meant the DUP had accepted the basics of
the Belfast Agreement.

UUP leader Mr David Trimble said the publication of the
governments' paper proved that "no significant alteration at all"
had been made to the agreement. "What has happened is that the DUP
appears to have completed its process of acceptance of the Belfast
Agreement." He said that in such circumstances, republicans would
be "extremely foolish" not to agree to the governments' proposals
"and proceed to decommission and to decommission completely".

Mr Trimble said the end of the IRA was delivered because of the
position adopted by the Ulster Unionists when he was First

"We got decommissioning, we got it started," he said. "We blew the
whistle in October 2002 and you can see the results of that now in
terms of what has happened since."

For the SDLP, the Newry-Armagh MP, Mr Séamus Mallon, said he was
mystified why so much hard work on decommissioning had come to
nothing. He said: "I cannot understand how two governments with all
of their expertise, Sinn Féin with all of its expertise and the DUP
with its new-found zeal for negotiations, actually spent three
months negotiating without ever coming to a conclusion about what
was for them, the DUP, a central point."

The SDLP leader, Mr Mark Durkan, also claimed the DUP now accepted
the principles of the Belfast Agreement.

© The Irish Times


Not For The First Time, The Failure Of One Side To See The Big
Picture Brings The Deal Down

Frank McNally, in Belfast

The obvious solution, in retrospect, was for the DUP to get an
artist's impression of decommissioning. Along with clergymen from
both communities, General de Chastelain could have been accompanied
by representatives of the North's rival mural painting traditions.

These could have rendered the scene in the styles required by their
constituencies (photo-realism for Paisleyites, abstract
expressionism for republicans), and everybody would have been

Instead, yet again, the failure of one of the parties to see the
big picture (or a series of small ones) brought the deal down.

The disagreement over photography was all the more frustrating
because it was clear that the DUP would have stopped short of
demanding any negatives. On the contrary, the party insists that
all the negatives from this process belong firmly to Sinn Féin.

After decades of saying "no", Dr Paisley is presenting himself as a
man ready to perform the Molly Bloom soliloquy as soon as
conditions are right.

And last night he was insisting that it was Sinn Féin who stopped
the talks.

Earlier, Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair sounded fiercely optimistic as
they published their proposals. When the Taoiseach patted him on
the shoulder during the press conference, Mr Blair must have been
disappointed that it wasn't the hand of history, this time. But,
never a man to refuse a soundbite, he portrayed himself and his
opposite number as Himalayan climbers. "Just when you think you've
reached the peak," he sighed, "you see another mound." This was
only a small mound, however, and after a short breather they would
begin the final assault.

Shortage of oxygen was clearly not a problem: the two men spoke for
a full hour. And it has never been a problem for Dr Paisley either.

The DUP leader doesn't need the sight of a mountain summit to
encourage him to go over the top. Last night, taking up where his
Prime Minister left off, he ("we have come a long, long way")
climbed on ahead, to deliver a sermon on the mound.

In what is no doubt a favourite image, he suggested that the IRA
had ended discussions on photographs because the "heat was getting
to their toes".

Asked if talk of humiliation of the IRA had helped, he refused

"Murder is murder, blood-shedding is blood-shedding, torture is
torture," he said.

But, in what passes for compromise from the new DUP, he ended by
offering his enemies an alternative. They didn't have to wear
"sackcloth and ashes", he said. A simple "hairshirt" would do.

© The Irish Times


Governments Have A Lot Done, But A Lot More To Do

Deadlines come, deadlines go, but the Northern Ireland political
process goes on and on, writes Mark Brennock.

On Tuesday in the Dáil, the Taoiseach seemed to warn of potential
catastrophe if final agreement was not reached yesterday between
the DUP on the one hand, and Sinn Féin and the IRA on the other.

"This will not come around again for some considerable time," he

"We will be in a difficult position. People will pull back from
their stated positions. It will be difficult to get back to where
we are for many reasons."

But yesterday he said he hoped to reach agreement very soon,
possibly by Christmas. Government sources said the Taoiseach had
instructed his exhausted officials to throw themselves into a
renewed search for agreement within a couple of days.

Another solemn deadline has passed and already this is being
portrayed as not quite as calamitous as initially suggested. Nobody
seriously expects a deal by Christmas, but contrary to prior
warnings, political activity has not yet been suspended for the
next year or more.

Of course, Mr Blair will be distracted by a British general
election next year, and by Britain's presidency of the EU and the
G8 group of countries.

The Northern parties will be distracted by the need to maximise
their support in next year's local government elections.

But Dublin sources yesterday echoed the view of the Taoiseach and
the British Prime Minister that a deal was very close, and that it
is in effect held up by one simple issue: How to reconcile the DUP
demand for photos of decommissioning with the republicans'
insistence that nothing be done to suggest they have been
humiliated. By publishing the documents surrounding the virtual
deal, the governments hope that the people of Northern Ireland will
see that the solution is something they could support.

They hope this, in turn, will ease the pressure on the DUP and Sinn
Féin not to compromise from the more hardline elements of their
support base.

Two views on Sinn Féin's intentions are discernible within the
Government parties at the moment.

The first is that the IRA could not complete decommissioning,
accept the publication of photographs, and not cause irreparable
divisions among their supporters. However, according to this
argument, they choose not to partly because they believe the
possession of weapons still gives them additional bargaining power,
and also because it wins them support among young people attracted
to the whiff of sulphur, but too young to remember the carnage
caused by that sulphur.

The other view is that Sinn Féin is very keen to get into
government in the Republic sooner or later, believing that being in
power north and south will give it a further electoral boost.

Therefore the quicker the weapons are disposed of for good, the
quicker they will be through any "decontamination period" required
by the establishment parties in the Republic.

In the meantime, the Taoiseach was said yesterday to be deeply
annoyed that despite his exposing the Government to political
battering over the possible release of the killers of Det Garda
Jerry McCabe, he has secured no agreement in return.

Last May the Government made it clear the release of the McCabe
killers was on the cards if there was to be a deal. Last night on
RTÉ's Prime Time programme, Mr Ahern criticised the manner in which
Fine Gael has put the issue at the centre of public debate again,
highlighting for its own political advantage the part of that deal
that would be least palatable for people in the Republic.

The issue has opened the bitterest division between the leaderships
of the two parties for a considerable period of time.

© The Irish Times


Comment: Castrate The Younger Men

Freud would have loved Ian Paisley and the IRA

David Aaronovitch
Thursday December 9, 2004
The Guardian

Someone in Ulster needs a bit of couch time. Here are two groups
close to an extraordinary agreement about sharing power; an
agreement so unlikely in principle that gnarled veterans of
Northern Irish politics are walking round Belfast inviting passers-
by to pinch them.

And then it founders, the deal falls apart. But not on who gets
what ministry, or the balance of power, or republican inability to
accept the Catholic-baiter Ian Paisley as the new boss of the
province, or Paisley's inability to accept the Fenian murderers as
ministers. It doesn't even fall apart on decommissioning, the IRA
having agreed to full, verifiable handing over and destruction of
its Armalites, handguns and bazookas.

It falls apart because Paisley wants the handing over of IRA arms
to be photographed so that everybody can see them lose their
weapons, and because the IRA cannot bear to have its weaponlessness
so publicly recorded in this way. You don't have to be Freud to
stroke your beard upon hearing this, and to mutter that this is all
"most interesting".

I'm all of a sudden back to a meeting room in Queen's Belfast
during the hunger strikes. A number of Provo students are heckling
me, the Brit. They submit questions on pieces of paper. One has a
picture of a large rifle and invites me to agree that "Armalites
are magic!"; another shows an RPG7 firing a grenade, and looks for
all the world like a piece of ejaculatory graffiti. And now these
weapons must be given up.

In the temple at Karnak is the victory stela of the Pharoah
Merneptah, who - in 1208 - triumphed over the Libyans. The pictures
show the aftermath of the battle, the procession of the prisoners
and a pile of strange, banana-shaped objects. These, it transpires,
are the 13,000 penises severed from their unfortunate owners by the
victorious Egyptians. Now, since 13,000 severed penises are not
particularly useful, their public show represents a powerful
psychological message. Which is: "I cut your willy off".

It happens in the Bible, too. In the first Book of Samuel King Saul
orders David to forget about a conventional dowry for his daughter.
No, the king desireth "an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to
be avenged of the king's enemies". In fact, not so much foreskins,
you understand, as the whole thing. And not just decommissioned,
but brought before him. In baskets.

Paisley knows his Bible. And he demands his Philistines bring their
own foreskins before him or - just as good - photographs of them.
The old man of Ulster wants everyone to see that castration of the
younger men has been accomplished. And the IRA, by refusing, shows
it views it in much the same way as he does.

The thing to remember here is the essential nakedness of both sides
in this strange discussion. If they do eventually agree then both
will have won by settling for what both had always said was not
worth having. They have won by losing. In that situation you really
don't want to be reminded of what you no longer have tucked below
your waistband.


Gerry Adams Letter To An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

Published: 8 December, 2004

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

7 December 2004

A Thaoisigh

Thank you for your letter of 2 December.

I can confirm to you that I believe Sinn Féin can say yes to the
political package contained in the proposals of the two
governments. I share your hope that they open the way to a
comprehensive partnership on the basis of the Good Friday

As you know Sinn Féin has serious concerns at the approach taken by
the two governments on some of the issues. In all our discussions
we consistently emphasized the need to protect the fundamentals of
the Good Friday Agreement. These include power-sharing, the
arrangements for voting on key issues, the executive authority of
individual ministers and the all-Ireland architecture of the
Agreement. We are satisfied that the proposals, as now presented,
preserve the fundamentals of the Agreement.

The majority of nationalists in the north of Ireland believe that
the issue of policing remains an unresolved matter. I have now made
clear that I will propose to the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle that it
calls a special Ard Fheis to decide Sinn Féin's position on new
arrangements when the context set out in the statement given to you
is achieved. That is:

Agreement between the parties on the department model and the
powers to be transferred:

The enactment by the British Government of the legislation to give
full expression to this transfer of powers on policing and justice
away from London: and

A DUP commitment to an acceptable timeframe for the transfer of
powers on policing and justice.

You have acknowledged how Sinn Féin has gone to great lengths to
use our influence successfully to make substantial progress on the
issue of IRA arms. This matter is for the IICD and the IRA. My
understanding is that, in the context of a comprehensive agreement,
the IRA is prepared to resolve this issue conclusively and to deal
with the issue of activities in a similar way.

I appreciate the work that you and your officials have put into
these recent efforts to resolve the political impasse. I hope that
we can now move forward on the full implementation of the Good
Friday Agreement.

Is mise le meas

Gerry Adams MP
Sinn Féin President


Timeline: Troubled Path Of Peace Process

(Filed: 08/12/2004)

The latest halt in the Northern Ireland peace process follows a
series of stops and starts.

The restoration of the power-sharing Stormont Assembly now hangs in
the balance.

Tony Blair said after the latest failure: "As a traveller I may be
weary, but not downhearted."

The process had begun amid much optimism with the Good Friday
Agreement in 1998.

There was great hope on all sides, but it did not go as planned and
after a series of false starts, power-sharing was finally

Here is an outline of key events in the peace process:

April 1998: The Good Friday Agreement is signed. The historic
agreement outlines a deal for Northern Ireland's parties to govern
themselves for the first time in a quarter of a century.

Dec 1999: Power is finally passed to Belfast from Westminster and
the power-sharing executive meets for the first time after 20
months of wrangle and delay.

Feb 2000: Just two months later Peter Mandelson, the Northern
Ireland Secretary, signs an order suspending the devolved assembly
after a failure to reach a deal on IRA decommissioning.

May 2000: Devolution restored after David Trimble, the Ulster
Unionist Party leader and First Minister, secures his party's
backing to return to government without IRA decommissioning but
following a promise from the republicans to begin a process that
would "completely and verifiably" put its weapons beyond use.

July 2001: Mr Trimble resigns as First Minister over continuing
arms impasse. A month later General John de Chastelain, head of the
international arms decommissioning body, says the IRA has put
forward a plan to put its weapons beyond use.

Aug 2001: With no sign of the IRA about to decommission, and no
hint that unionists will accept anything less, John Reid, the
Northern Ireland Secretary, suspends devolution. It is restored 24
hours later, resetting the clock for a deal by six weeks.

Sept 2001: Mr Reid announces a second technical suspension saying
it will be the last. The following month the IRA said it had
started a process of putting arms beyond use and General de
Chastelain says he has witnessed "significant" disposal.

Nov 2001: Devolution up and running again.

Apr 2002: IRA says it has put a second tranche of its arsenal
beyond use.

Oct 4, 2002: Sinn Fein's offices at Stormont are raided amid major
police investigation of alleged IRA intelligence gathering at the
heart of government. Mr Trimble warns the assembly may not survive
if action is not taken by the Government against Sinn Fein.

Oct 14, 2002: Mr Reid announces suspension of devolution and
reintroduction of direct rule.

May 2003: Tony Blair announces postponement of Assembly elections
until the autumn because of lack of clarity over IRA's arms

Nov 2003: Assembly elections take place. The DUP and Sinn Fein come
out on top as the largest parties among unionists and nationalists.

Jan 2004: Jeffrey Donaldson, a critic of Mr Trimble, resigns from
the UUP and joins the DUP - taking two fellow MLAs with him.

Feb 2004: Review of the workings of the Good Friday Agreement
launched in Belfast. It was put on hold in May for the European
elections, resumed in Belfast in June and moved to Leeds Castle in
Kent in September. There is "cautious optimism" after three days of
intensive discussions.

Oct 2004: Ian Paisley, the DUP leader, has landmark meeting with
Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, in Dublin. Paul Murphy, the
Northern Ireland Secretary, says he hopes a breakthrough in the
political process will come within weeks. Intensive talks continue
in Belfast, London and Dublin.

Nov 2004: British and Irish Governments put their proposals for
breaking the stalemate to the DUP and Sinn Fein. Talking continues.
George Bush, the US president, talks to Mr Paisley and Gerry Adams,
the Sinn Fein president, to urge them forward.

Dec 7, 2004: Mr Adams says political process has reached "defining
moment". Mr Paisley insists on photographic proof of further acts
of IRA decommissioning. Mr Adams responds that republicans will not
be humiliated.

Dec 8, 2004: It became obvious there would be no deal. Mr Blair and
Mr Ahern travel to Belfast to publish details of what might have

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Irish Officials Are To Get Access To Sellafield

Irish officials are to be given access to the security arrangements
at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant.

The Irish Independent claims a bilateral deal signed by the Irish
and British Governments also provides for an early warning system
for Ireland, in the event of an accident or terror attack at the

The Government here took a European Court challenge in a bid to get
access to information at Sellafield.

South Fein`s spokesperson on the Environment, South Down Assembly
Member Willie Clarke has welcomed today`s news that Irish
Government officials will be been allowed access to the security
arrangements at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant.

Cllr Clarke was speaking after claims that the Irish and British
Governments have signed a bilateral deal that provides an early
warning system for Ireland in the event of an accident or an attack
on the Cumbria plant.

Cllr Clarke said: "Recently myself and my party colleague Arthur
Morgan TD met with the Irish Minister for the Environment Dick
Roche in the Dail to discuss a number of issues relating to the
Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plants. The abysmal safety record
of the plant, its vulnerability to attack and the implications this
would have for the island of Ireland topped our agenda.

"I welcome therefore, today`s news that the Irish and British
Governments have agreed a deal that will allow greater access to
information relevant to the plant but I would question the
effectiveness of such an agreement considering the past track
record of BNFL.

The antiquated Sellafield reprocessing plant poses a significant
threat to our natural environment and the health and safety of
people living along the Irish eastern seaboard and Sinn Fein will
continue to campaign for its immediate closure."


O'Donoghue Urges Tourist Industry To Review Prices

Martin Wall

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr O'Donoghue has
strongly urged the tourism industry in Ireland to look closely at
its prices.

Speaking at the launch of new marketing strategies for 2005 by
Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland, the Minister said there had
clearly been "a marked deterioration" in price competitiveness.

He said that this had often been for reasons beyond the control of
the industry but that it had had an adverse impact on traditional
markets such as Britain, France and Germany.

"I cannot stress enough the need for the sector to take a long hard
look at how it prices itself against ever-keener competition
internationally", he said.

In his speech to tourism leaders yesterday, Mr O'Donoghue said 2004
had been a year of mixed fortunes. There had been a strong recovery
from the US market but little or no growth in visitor numbers from
Britain. He said European markets such as France and Germany had
proven difficult to grow.

Mr O'Donoghue said the announcement by Ryanair to base aircraft at
Shannon and by American Airlines to open routes to Ireland was a
welcome boost and could help counter the imbalance between cities
and other areas.

He told The Irish Times there were thousands of people in the US
who wanted to come to Ireland last year but there was insufficient
capacity to bring them.

He said his Department favoured a second terminal at Dublin Airport
and that he believed the Minister for Transport, Mr Cullen, was
sympathetic to the project. Tourism Ireland said it was concerned
at the capacity issue at Dublin Airport.

The Minister said the Government would next year spend €123 million
- an 8 per cent increase on this year - on supporting and promoting

Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development body, and Tourism
Ireland, the organisation which markets the country abroad for
visitors, jointly announced that around €200 million will be spent
over the next three years on marketing programmes aimed at
increasing tourist numbers to the whole island to nine million by

The chief executive of Tourism Ireland, Mr Paul O'Toole, said that
organisation wanted to see tourist numbers increased by 5 per cent
next year.

"We will focus on six key elements in our plan - reinvigorating the
British market, encouraging the spread of overseas visitors to all
the regions, access development, e-marketing, business tourism and
helping Northern Ireland tourism reach its potential," he said.

Fáilte Ireland is to seek to increase the number of Irish people
taking breaks within the country, providing a counter-balance to
Dublin's growth as a destination for overseas visitors.

© The Irish Times


Tara Protection Plan Abandoned

Frank McDonald, Environment Editor

Plans to extend an archaeological protection zone around the Hill
of Tara, in Co Meath, were abandoned after it became clear that the
proposed M3 motorway would run through it.

An archaeological report by Dr Annaba Kilfeather of Margaret Gowen
and Company, compiled in August 2000, explicitly referred to "an
expansion of the zone of archaeological protection afforded to

Largely as a result of the research carried out under the State-
funded Discovery programme, "the extent and number of the
archaeological monuments in this region has been greatly expanded,"
the report said.

"This in turn has led to an expansion of the zone of archaeological
protection afforded to Tara, which now encompasses not only the
hill itself, but also includes an area approximately six kilometres
in diameter."

Dr Kilfeather's report was compiled as part of a route selection
study by consultants Halcrow Barry for the Dunshaughlin-Navan
section of the M3. It was commissioned by the National Roads
Authority (NRA) and Meath County Council.

The report said the monuments around Tara "cannot be viewed in
isolation, or as individual sites, but must be seen in the context
of an intact archaeological landscape, which should not under any
circumstances be disturbed".

For these reasons, "the only unreservedly recommended route" would
run east of Skryne because "it avoids the area of highest
archaeological potential . . . and has the inestimable advantage of
being largely invisible from the Hill of Tara".

Minutes of a meeting in April 2000 between Dr Kilfeather, three
Halcrow Barry representatives and Mr Brian Duffy, chief
archaeologist at Dúchas, as it then was, show that the more
easterly route was also Mr Duffy's favourite.

"This was good advice, but it fell on deaf ears," said Mr Conor
Newman, lecturer in archaeology at NUI Galway, who carried out the
research for Discovery with his colleague, Mr Joe Fenwick, and UCD-
based historian Dr Edel Bhreathnach.

Mr Newman said he was one of the people consulted when the expanded
protection zone was being designed. "I do not know what protocols
have to be implemented in order to set such a zone up, so it may
not have been written in stone.

"However, it is recorded in the document [ compiled for the route
selection study]," he said. "In short, the zone expanded and then
mysteriously contracted to the point where the chosen route is now
outside it. Funny that, isn't it?" In a paper last April, Dr
Bhreathnach, Mr Fenwick and Mr Newman said Dúchas had redefined the
protection zone in 1997-'98 with the intention of imposing
archaeological conditions on all planning applications falling
within it.

This expanded zone, an ellipse some 6 km in diameter, had been
acknowledged in the NRA's environmental impact statement on the M3,
as was "the fact that the proposed motorway transgresses it," they

Even the more restricted zone of archaeological protection around
Tara covers a larger area than the State-owned land on the hill - a
recognition, the three scholars maintain, of the need for some
level of heritage monitoring.

As the restricted zone was "primarily a planning guideline and is
not intended to define or describe the limits of the Tara complex,
. . . the question of whether the proposed road occurs inside or
outside this zone is largely irrelevant."

The NRA, in its defence of the M3, said its route "sought to avoid
the important core zone around Tara" by running east of the N3. The
motorway would also be further from the Hill of Tara than the
existing Dublin-Navan road.

Commenting on the NRA's defence, Mr Newman likened it to "a doctor
telling you that your wife is dead but the bus swerved to miss
her". The M3, he said, was "going to carve a new furrow, 50 metres
wide, through the valley."

© The Irish Times


Internet Campaign: More Than 2,000 Pro-Tara Signatures

Derek Scally, in Berlin

The campaign to stop the construction of the M3 through Tara has
gone online with an Internet petition attracting over 2,000
"signatures" in two weeks.

The website was created by Dublin woman
Fionnuala Devlin (38), who has been living in Berlin for four
years. She has the support of the Rhein-Main German-Irish
Association in Frankfurt.

Ms Devlin launched the Internet campaign after learning of the
planned motorway during a trip to Tara in May.

"I was surprised when I started research that there is no
compelling reason for the motorway to go through Tara," she said.
"It seems to me that this is not clear to people. The debate is so
detailed that people don't realise that (the M3) is going to go
through Tara."

The website brings together the history and legend of Tara as well
as the history of the proposed motorway development. Visitors to
the website are urged to write to the Taoiseach or to
electronically sign the linked petition. By yesterday afternoon the
petition had attracted 2,278 signatures, mostly from outside
Ireland in the US and Germany.

"Tara IS the soul of Ireland - don't squander it!" said one
American visitor to the website.

An outraged German wrote: "The pre-Christian cultures and nature
religions have suffered enough."

Another German implored: "Do not rape your green island with grey

A surprising number of signatories to the petition come from
Estonia, which has been experiencing its own burst of motorway
building through heritage sites.

Ms Devlin says the main reaction of most Germans she knows has been
shock. "People really emotionally connect to Ireland. The image
Bord Fáilte has been presenting abroad so diligently all these
years could almost be summed up in Tara, so there's shock that the
Irish Government is spending more money to destroy that, with the
help of EU funds."

© The Irish Times

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