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December 11, 2004

News 12/11/04 - Murphy Hints At New Elections

Monthly Table of Contents 01/05
Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

BT 12/11/04 Murphy Hints At Need For New Election
IP 12/09/04 Opin: Linda Coleman - Repent, Sinner!
IP 12/09/04 Opin: Why The DUP Walked Away
IP 12/09/04 EU Parliament Pledges Exam Of Brits State Collusion
BT 12/11/04 Pleasantly Surprised At The Compromises Made To Date
BT 12/11/04 Many Questions Still Unanswered
SM 12/11/04 English Unionist MP Rejects By-Election Call
BT 12/11/04 Man Charged Over UVF Shirt
IO 12/11/04 Annetta Flanigan: Pakistan Arrests Kidnap Suspect
RT 12/11/04 Funeral Mass For Irish Aid Worker Margaret Hassan –V
GM 12/11/04 Book: History Of Ireland - Ireland, Mon Amour

NP 12/09/04 Irish Republican Army: No Photos Of Disarming –AO
TV 12/07/04 Bewley's: The Artist: Harry Clarke –VO
TV 12/07/04 The Shows: Pantomime In Ireland –VO
TV 12/07/04 The Book: Only Say The Word –VO
TV 12/07/04 The Show: Silver - Irish Modern Dance Theatre -VO
TV 12/07/04 The Book: Nell –VO
TV 12/07/04 The Play: Dublin By Lamplight –VO

Irish Republican Army: No Photos Of Disarming - Talk of the Nation,
December 9, 2004 · The Irish Republican Army says it is willing to
disarm itself, but warns that no pictures should be taken of the
event. The IRA's stockpile of weapons would take weeks to process.
Guest: Mark Devenport, Northern Ireland Political Editor, the BBC

Poster's Note: I found a new sources for videos (like I needed
another one). It is a RTE show called the View. Below are some
selected segments of that show that relate directly to Irish stuff.
You can see an index of the whole shows at:

The Artist: Harry Clarke - There has been so much talk about the
closure of Bewley's lately that you may well be 'Bewleyed' out. But
whatever you feel about the loss of your favourite spot for coffee
and a bun, there's another story to it. It's that of the beautiful
stained glass windows that were designed and made by Harry Clarke
in 1927. He was just 38-years-old at the time, just three years
before he died. The Panel discusses the work of Harry Clarke

The Shows: Pantomime In Ireland - Now it's time for pantomime. Oh
no it's not. In Ireland it used to mean Jack Cruise and Maureen
Potter, and then it began to mean Twink. And, with the celebrity
culture of today, it means an obligatory teen idol of some sort.
But for the true devotee, pantomime is an ancient and honourable
art, an opportunity for some annual magic that isn't just for the
kids. The Panel discusses pantomime in Ireland

The Book: Only Say The Word - 'Only Say the Word' is the latest
novel from Niall Williams, best known for his bestseller 'Four
Letters of Love'. This latest book tells the story of Jim Foley,
living with his children in Co Clare and the love letter he writes
to his wife in an attempt to reach her again. By putting his whole
faith in language, Jim hopes to say what has remained unsaid during
his life – and by doing so he hopes he might recover and restore
his lost love. The Panel discusses Niall Williams' 'Only Say the

The Show: (Like) Silver - Tonight An Irish Modern Dance Theatre
world premiere took place at the Project in Dublin. '(like) Silver'
intends to depict a journey in dance from chaos to order.
Choreographed by John Scott, it features dancers from the world
renowned Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Sebastao Mpembele
Kamalandua from Angola and veteran ballerina Joanna Banks. The
Panel discusses Irish Modern Dance Theatre's '(like) Silver'

The Book: Nell - 'Nell' is the long-awaited autobiography of Nell
McCafferty. From her campaigning days in Derry, to the women's
movement in Dublin and her personal life, this is her own story,
written by one of Ireland's finest journalists. Susan McKay, Eamon
Delaney and Cait O'Riordan discuss Nell McCafferty's autobiography

The Play: Dublin By Lamplight - 'Dublin by Lamplight' is the new
play by Michael West, directed by Annie Ryan and presented by Corn
Exchange Theatre Company. Using the style of Commedia dell'Arte, it
tells the story of Dublin in 1904 and the attempt to launch the
National Theatre of Ireland during the visit of the King. It is
currently running at The Project. The Panel discusses 'Dublin by
Lamplight' at The Project


Murphy Hints At Need For New Election

Ulster may go back to polls to get the Assembly running

By Andrea Clements
11 December 2004

SECRETARY of State Paul Murphy has said that new elections may be
needed to get the Assembly up and running.

He said his first priority will be talking with political parties
in an attempt to achieve transparent decommissioning.

"If after six weeks the parties in the Assembly can't come up with
a First and Deputy First Minister they will be required to go back
to the people for another election.

"It's not something that the people of Northern Ireland
particularly want as they have just elected an Assembly but it's an
option parties and government can discuss in the months ahead," he
said, speaking on the BBC's Inside Politics programme.

Meanwhile, DUP leader Ian Paisley, speaking in Ballymena where he
was given the freedom of the borough last night, said: "I am the
only person now who can deliver this deal. My people are not going
to be sold out."

Deputy DUP leader Peter Robinson believes that new arrangements
agreed for devolution would function "successfully" if the issue of
IRA decommissioning is resolved.

He said: "The lack of resolution on the issue of IRA
decommissioning should not obscure the fact that the DUP made very
significant advances during the recent talks process.

"The Ulster Unionist failures may wish to carp from the sidelines
but the record speaks for itself.

"Just over a year ago people were saying that no one would
negotiate with the DUP and there could be no renegotiation of the
Belfast Agreement.

"Today it is clear that when the IRA come up to the mark on
decommissioning there are arrangements in place which will allow
devolution to function successfully."

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has asked the Secretary of
State for more information on the new proposals put forward by the
British and Irish Governments.

He asked if any changes had been made to the joint declaration,
"especially with regard to normalisation procedures, their extent
and the timetable for introduction".

Mr Trimble said he welcomed the IRA statement, "particularly as it
largely repeats the draft that the Government have included in the

But he added that the UUP regarded the request for photographs of
IRA decommissioning as "reasonable".

He asked Mr Murphy to clarify his comments that "it has turned out
that the IRA had a different view from everyone else".

He asked: "Does 'everyone else' include those republicans to whom
he was speaking during the negotiations?"

And SDLP leader Mark Durkan has accused Sinn Fein of conceding to
the DUP on the Good Friday Agreement.

He has challenged leader Gerry Adams to a public debate.

He said: "The prospect of IRA decommissioning and the DUP power-
sharing is welcome.

"But the fact is that this so-called "comprehensive agreement"
gives the DUP a veto over the appointment of nationalist ministers
and the decisions of nationalist ministers.

"Instead of worrying about photos humiliating the IRA, Sinn Fein
should have been worried about vetoes which will be used by the DUP
time and time again to humiliate nationalist ministers and
nationalist people."


Opin: Linda Coleman- Repent, Sinner!

Old Ian is at it again, spouting Biblical rants, saying of the IRA,
"If you sin publicly you have to repent publicly."

You first, Ian.

Danny Morrison wrote a brilliant article "Acts of Contrition" (Dec.
1,, in which Ian Paisley—as his part to revive
power sharing in the North—would be video taped apologizing for all
his transgressions as "physical proof that the DUP has put all its
sectarian bigotry 'beyond use.'"

"The video of Paisley apologizing," Danny's article continues,
"Would be held by the head of the International Commission on
Decommissioning until March. Paisley's film would then go on
general release and Sinn Fein would agree to a new power-sharing
executive with the DUP."

I like the idea of a video taped confession by Ian. It would be as
long as a mini-series and just about as boring as any of the other
"reality TV" programs out there, but General John de Chastelain
should insist on it. Afterwards, Ian Paisley would agree to
permanently decommission his big mouth.

I can honestly say I don't know much about sin. Now, don't get the
wrong idea—I'm every bit as bad as the average person, I just don't
spend a lot of time worrying about it. Supposedly, just thinking
about doing something bad is a sin. If what I'm thinking about
doing to Ian qualifies, I'm committing a sin right this minute—and
I'm certainly not talking about "coveting" the old guy or any of
his property.

According to Ian Paisley, the IRA should wear sackcloth. Sackcloth,
huh? I did a bit of research on a textiles website and found out
that cloth sacks are made from a wide variety of fabrics, including
cotton and linen. Hey, Ian, maybe in your century sackcloth was a
horrible thing, but these days everybody wears it.

How's this for a headline: "Ian Paisley Orders IRA to wear Cotton

Sacks can also be made of hemp.

Here's another headline: "Ian Paisley says 'Yes' to Marijuana!"

Instead, the newspapers are writing headlines like, "Irish Peace
Deal Stalled Over IRA Photos."

When I see headlines like that, I feel like—oops, there I go again
down the road to committing another sin.

Once again, the mainstream press makes it sound like the IRA's the
problem, not the 78-year-old preacher talking about "sackcloth and
ashes" and "repenting," making the extra demands of photographed
decommissioning that are nowhere to be found in the Agreement.

Somebody needs to do some public repenting, all right, but it's not
Irish republicans.

Now, I'm certainly not one for casting stones, but since Ian
brought up the subject and everybody seems to care what he thinks,
let's play by his rules this time and take a look at the subject of

Big Ian seems to be an Old Testament kind of guy, stuck on the Ten
Commandments and nothing else. But great thinkers through the ages—
starting with Jesus—expanded upon the top ten giving us a more
complex guide for living that moves beyond merely honoring our
parents and resisting the urge to kill somebody.

Ian Paisley may have never fired a rifle or thrown a petrol bomb,
but he misspent his considerable preaching talents delivering fire-
and-brimstone anti-Catholic sermons, sewing the seeds of
discontent, blocking the Irish civil rights movement every step of
the way, rallying the Orangemen to carry out their sectarian
marches, inspiring young loyalists to throw bricks and firebombs
into Catholic homes.

"Love thy neighbor," Jesus said. Ian's got some explaining to do.

Ian Paisley has no end of invectives to hurl at the IRA, but he can
actually take partial credit for the IRA's revival. In the 1960's,
as we know, the IRA was virtually non-existent. The time was ripe
for a charismatic, peace-making, love-thy-neighbor-preaching
evangelist to bring all sides together, championing Catholic civil
rights with some impassioned sermons on how we treat "the least of
these." But no, no, no—Ian used his star-power to demand the Irish
flag be removed from Divis street in 1964, inciting a riot and
rousing the slumbering Republican Movement, setting the stage for
the violence he now claims to despise.

Thirteenth-century philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas spent
a lot of time pondering the subject of sin and set out seven deadly
ones that most endanger the human soul. Dante ranked them in order
of deadliness in The Divine Comedy, the most deadly being Pride,
followed by Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony and Lust.

Now that top one, Pride, is not the same as taking a healthy
satisfaction in one's accomplishments. Dante defined Pride as "Love
of self, perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor."
According to Dante, Envy is "Love of one's own good, perverted to a
desire to deprive other men of theirs," and defined Wrath as the
"Love of justice, perverted to revenge and spite."

But enough about Ian Paisley. He didn't get where he is today all
by himself. The news media can take credit for Ian's success, and
has it's own share of repenting to do.

We're always complaining that the media is lazy (number 4 on
Dante's list), relying on "talking points" from the British
government instead of doing independent research in the streets of
Belfast, or the overly militarized countryside of South Armagh. In
the U.S., we have round-the clock news on CNN, but the alloted
space is mostly wasted on a few "top stories." Instead of spending
time on world politics, the news focuses on lurid tales of Gluttony
and Lust ("Scientists say that overeating is the leading cause of
obesity—this story and the latest on Paris Hilton's sex video
coming up next, after these messages from McDonald's and Viagra…").

When the Agreement was first being negotiated, the U.S. media was
fixated on Bill Clinton's indiscretions to the exclusion of
everything else. "Peace in Ireland?" they said. "Not exactly a
ratings-grabber. Bring on the smut!"

Today, the mainstream media dutifully takes the British talking
points and repeats the worn out mantra that the success or failure
of the Agreement depends on the IRA.

Slothful media, repent! Get to work!

Of course, Ireland wouldn't need an Agreement without the sin that
started it all—England's avaricious acquisition of land that
brought the English to Ireland in the first place. In 1997, Tony
Blair made the first forays into apologizing for England's
transgressions by offering a statement on An Gorta Mor, saying that
the British government "failed the people of Ireland" during the
famine years.

Okay, Tony, that's good for a start. Next, you can apologize for
the Occpuation, for British collusion with loyalist paramilitaries,
and for always giving in to the unionist veto. No sackcloth
required, Tony. Just allow the Agreement to go forward—with or
without Ian Paisley—and we'll consider you absolved.


Opin: Why The DUP Walked Away

Roy McCann

So close once again. Frustrating, isn't it? And yet, seductively
compelling, wouldn't you agree? That's why we all keep tuned in and
why 17 years after I left my beloved homeland for the sunnier
climes of California that I am still involved in an Irish
organization dedicated to resolving Ireland's British problem.

Someone posted on a republican board that Paisley is an honest man.
I don't know about honest but Paisley isn't stupid. He hasn't
lasted this long in politics without knowing exactly what he is
doing. So why did he throw away the deal of all deals that would
have seen the IRA get rid of their weapons and basically retire
from the scene.

Well, it is important to remember the old saying, it's all about
politics and all politics is local.

It is the job of demagogues to appeal to the basic instincts of
their followers. They use inflammatory language to incite the
senses of the masses, inflame their passions and solidify their
compliant loyalty and support. Paisley is a master of it, as was
Hitler and Mussolini. However, doing so reveals something of the
character of the man as well as his motives.

Last week in Ballymena, the North's bible belt area, Paisley
signaled the launch of his party's election campaign by directing a
broadside attack on the IRA in classic vitriolic language. Calling
for the humiliation of the IRA, he demanded that they wear
"sackcloth and ashes" to repent for their transgressions.

These remarks were then repeated a couple of days later when
Paisley came out of Downing Street and said he stood by his "IRA
needs to be humiliated" remarks.

Having already extracted from the republican movement the
acceptance of two churchmen to witness arms being destroyed,
Paisley knew republicans couldn't stomach the humiliation baiting
and the absurd demands of photographic evidence of the act of

It was a calculated card he played. Paisley figured his hand would
be strengthened by the deal collapsing and the fingers of blame
once again pointed at republicans for not agreeing to his "visual
and transparent" demands.

The DUP's eyes are fixed on the big prize of wiping out the
Official Unionists in the next election, thereby championing
themselves as undisputed leaders of the Protestant and Unionist
people elevating Paisley to Carsonlike status, a position that has
driven Ian Paisley all his political life.

Arriving at a deal with the traditional enemies of Ulster, Sinn
Fein, isn't the way the DUP would overwhelm the already anxious and
suspicious unionist electorate. Better to feed the nervous flock a
staple diet of bitterness and intractability in order to reap a
harvest of seats in the next election.

Then, with the biggest spoon, the DUP will be dipping into the
political bowl, trying to take as much as they can without having
to share.

Only what you'd expect from an honest Christian preacher isn't it?


European Parliament Pledges Examination Of British State Collusion

A delegation of more than 50 relatives of those killed by collusion
between the British state and unionist paramilitaries traveled to
the European Parliament in Brussels this week to address assembled

The families, under the auspices of the relatives group An
Fhírinne, had been invited to attend the hearing by the European
United Left/Nordic Green Left group (EUL/NGL), of which Sinn Féin
is a member.

Prior to the arrival of the An Fhírinne delegation, DUP MEP Jim
Allister led a demonstration outside Parliament buildings alongside
fellow MEPs from both the Conservative and UK Independence parties,
during which they held aloft posters of members of the crown forces
killed over the last four decades.

Parliamentary staff later told Sinn Féin that the highly
insensitive stunt was the first time in the history of the EU
Parliament that a protest had been held outside one of their

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún was on hand to greet the
families and introduce them to the assembled dignitaries.

"I am pleased to welcome those most affected by the policy of
British state collusion with unionist death squads," said de Brún.
"Today's hearing will provide them with an opportunity to have
their voices heard."

The families arrived with placards bearing the names and faces of
their loved ones, but were unable to bring the posters into the
chamber due to European Parliament regulations.

This, however, did not deter them from stunning European
representatives with their harrowing stories of personal loss - the
result of politically motivated killings by a recognized EU Member

Several relatives courageously recounted the intimate details of
how their loved ones died to a "shocked and concerned" audience of
MEPs from throughout the European Union.

Among those who addressed the gathering was An Fhírinne
spokesperson Jim Clinton, whose wife Theresa was shot and killed in
her home by the UDA in April of 1994.

"We had been warned by the RUC that our lives were in danger as a
result of information passed on to loyalists via British Army
collusion," said Clinton.

"I was at home with my wife and two daughters when our home was
attacked. They shot my wife 23 times. I saw an RUC car pull up
outside our door. It did not pursue the car that had attacked my

Other speakers included Mark Sykes, who was himself shot several
times when the UVF attacked the Sean Graham bookmakers on the
Ormeau Road in 1992. The attack killed five people and left several
more injured. Sykes' wife, who lost her brother in the same attack,
also spoke movingly about the aftermath of the attack.


As a result of these testimonies, alarmed MEPs pledged to
investigate the possibility of sending a cross-party delegation on
a fact-finding mission to the Six Counties, to examine the specific
issue of collusion.

Session chairperson Francis Wurtz, President of the European United
Left/Nordic Green Left, said his party had noted, "with relief and
hope", the various stages of the peace process and that they had
followed developments "attentively".

"I would remind you," Wurtz told his assembled colleagues, "that a
Canadian judge, charged by the UK government to carry out an
investigation into certain cases, recommended the organization of a
public inquiry.

"I want to say that we are in full solidarity with all the victims
of this murderous conflict.

"Experiences from all over the world confirm it; peace can only be
built on the recognition of truth. I hope today's initiative
contributes a stone to its construction."

Cypriot MEP Kyriacos Triantaphyllides added that his fellow
countrymen and women knew "what it is to suffer under British

"I want to express my wholehearted solidarity with the people of
Ireland," said Triantaphyllides. "We know what it is like to live
under British rule, and I would be prepared to take part in any
function that would be of any help to the people of Ireland."

Campaign making progress

After the Parliamentary session, An Fhírinne spokesperson Robert
McClenaghan - whose grandfather Philip Garry was killed in the
loyalist bombing of McGurk's pub in 1971 - told An Phoblacht that
the campaign for the truth about collusion has "really kicked in
over the last two or three years.

"Personally, what I think made the group was our trip to London,"
says McLenaghan, "We had around 70 relatives on that trip, and most
had been fighting a lonely battle for many years.

"They had always felt as if they were all alone, but all of a
sudden they found themselves surrounded by other relatives who had
suffered a similar loss. They began to feel empowered instead of
isolated, and realized 'we're not alone. If we keep together we can
achieve our objectives'.

"So for us this trip to Brussels is part of a journey, and the
journey is simple - it's about the truth. We've gone to the
Assembly, Leinster House, Westminister and MI5, even to Washington
DC, and this is simply the next stage of that journey."


McClenaghan says the families have not been deterred by the silence
and inaction of the British state on the issue, and adds that this
has only made the group even more determined.

"We went to the European Parliament to ask for help, to put
pressure on the British Government to find the truth," says
McLenaghan, "Until we get it our journey will continue. We don't
care for how long or how far we have to go.

"We may be led up cul-de-sacs, diverted by truth and reconciliation
commissions or whatever, but our focus as a campaigning group is
very clear and precise - we want the British Government to divulge
to the families all the information they have, to disown the policy
and to dismantle the apparatus.

"This is the mother and father of all campaigns; because once we
break the British in this, the floodgates are open."

One family's story

Terry Davison's brother - IRA Volunteer Brendan Davison - was 33
years old when he was shot dead in his home in the Markets area of
Belfast by UVF men masquerading as RUC officers.

At the time of his death in July 1988, Davison had already spent a
total of ten years in and out of prison for his part in the
struggle. He had narrowly survived an earlier loyalist attempt on
his life the previous year, in which he had been shot in the back
and arms.

"He was an active republican for most of his life," says Davison,
"He knew he was a prime target for loyalists and it was
subsequently revealed that Brian Nelson had actively targeted him.

"Nelson did a deal with the UVF - he swapped explosives for
information on Brendan and other republicans - and the UVF used
that information to carry out his murder.

"They came to the house dressed in RUC uniforms around 9.30 in the
morning. A real RUC Land Rover had just left the street prior to
their arrival. Knowing he was a potential target, Brendan had taken
some precautions. He had security bolts on his doors and
bulletproof glass installed in his windows, but they used an AK-47
to shoot him and he was hit once in the head.

"I was living less than 300 yards from him at the time and someone
came over and told me he had been shot, but by then he had been
taken to hospital. When I did see him the thing that stuck me was
that the soles of his feet were stone white. If you've ever seen
the color of somebody who's been embalmed, that's what the soles of
his feet looked like.

"We more or less knew he was probably going to die, but you hope
against hope in those situations. They rushed him to the operating
theatre but after a while the doctor called my brother Brian in and
told him 'we lost him on the operating table'.

"I went in to see him and he was lying on the slab. He had only
just died, so he was still warm and I looked at him, but it never
really sunk in. It only really hit me at his funeral when we were
lowering his coffin into the ground. That was when I realized,
'he's dead'. I just burst into tears. It was the first time I had

"He was a real character," adds Davison, fondly recalling his
brother, "He was 6 foot three, weighed about 16 stone and was very
popular. He is still very highly thought of today.

"His loss was a big blow to our family, to everyone who knew him.
It completely destroyed my mother. I remember my father breaking
down at the funeral and saying, 'children should bury their
parents, not the other way around'. That has always stuck with me.

"We still think about him all the time."

Families pleased with reception

Davison says he is pleased with An Fhírinne's reception in the
European Parliament and hopes this will be another step forward for
all the families.

"I'm pleased with what's happened in this campaign because I think
people in Ireland - from whatever political view - have now more or
less accepted as fact that collusion took place on a massive scale.

"I personally believe, as do many others, that it went all the way
to cabinet level."

Seamus Hassan - who accompanied the delegation - said he was
jubilant about the support and interest offered by the European

"I am here in a supportive role for the people of South Derry,"
Hassan told An Phoblacht. "Some of those families were unable to
come so I offered to come instead."

"I think the EU presentation was absolutely brilliant, because it's
brought the issue of collusion to the heart of Europe, which has
been media-blocked for many years, and I must congratulate everyone
who was there because they expressed their views and experiences in
a very dignified manner.

"We've moved on as far as we can in our own country and this is the
next step towards finding the truth. If you hit a wall, you try to
find another way around it, and I would be confident in Bairbre de
Brún and look forward to the support of the other MEPs.

"The one thing that all these families have in common is that we
want to bring our point right back to the very establishment which
was entrusted to protect these people, and yet ended up colluding
in their killings and covering it up."

"The Irish Government have been very, very weak in their demands
for disclosure from the British Government and in their demands for
the British Government to apologies for what they've done. An
apology would only be a start - but at least it would begin the
healing process."

"We need to know why these people were killed, what political
motivation was behind it, and how far up this went. Who gave these

The stories of the families involved in the campaign are as varied
as the people themselves. Some are the relatives of IRA Volunteers,
while others lost family members who had no political involvement
in any organization whatsoever.

But Hassan says they all have one thing in common - their anger and

"The people of South Derry and elsewhere in the Six Counties are
not going to be deterred," says Hassan firmly. "We have a
responsibility to support these families. Every one of us owes them
our complete and total assistance and I would ask that everybody -
no matter who they are - come out and support them and do whatever
they can to help."


Pleasantly Surprised At The Compromises Made To Date

By Barry White
11 December 2004

THERE have been a lot of strange breakdowns to our nine devolution
attempts over the past 30 years but few of them like this week's.

It looked as if Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were coming to Belfast
to show us what we were missing and hoping there'd be second
thoughts. But when their document appeared, admitting that "not all
the elements were agreed", it was vaguer than we'd expected.

No doubt you've been poring through the 20 pages at www.number-, where you have to guess what the status of the document
is. It says that following intensive discussions "a basis for
agreement" has now been reached on the key issues identified in
June - an end to paramilitary activity, decommissioning, the
stability of the institutions and support for policing.

Success? Not quite, although it crows that "all these issues have
been addressed satisfactorily". Basically, it argues that we've
come so far, all we need is one last heave.

In paragraph 4, the spinning reaches a crescendo. "We are confident
that steps will now be taken to provide an immediate, full and
permanent cessation of all paramilitary activity by the IRA". The
decommissioning body "will issue a report later today" - still
waiting - "which sets out the way forward… These developments are

No wonder the pundits were stumped by the IRA statement in Annex C.
It assumes the deal is done and welcomes the "comprehensive
agreement" and commits the IRA to putting all its arms beyond use,
"completely and verifiably".

The only snag, which Bertie was quicker to admit than Tony, was
that since the IRA will not agree to photographs, nothing had been
agreed. It was left to Ian Paisley to tell us that no
decommissioning arrangements had been made and to Martin McGuinness
to say he'd never seen the document shown to the DUP about an
expert Finnish cameraman.

Tedious, isn't it but at the same time a bit ridiculous? The
Governments were hoping the IRA would yield, when they'd said they
wouldn't, and then Paisley's "sackcloth and ashes" speech gave them
a wonderful excuse to sit tight.

Lack of trust was why it all collapsed, just as many of us thought
it would but hoped the Governments knew more than we did. If
politicians aren't talking to each other and there is a long record
of hostility and deception, it doesn't take a genius to predict
that unless everyone's cards are visible, nothing will be agreed.

The photos wouldn't mean much _ though we'd soon be as sick of them
as we are of that camouflaged IRA gang on manoeuvres - but they'd
shout that the IRA really was in a "new mode". If they can't be
taken, the IRA aren't ready yet, or maybe the arms are like
Saddam's WMD's, not up to much.

It will also take time for the border brigade to wean themselves
off the rackets that the born-again IRA, promising not to endanger
any agreement, would drop. At £400 per truck, on some border roads,
there is serious money (real and counterfeit) at stake.

We may just have to wait until the Westminster election pressure is
off, and the also-ran parties are well and truly routed.
Nevertheless, I've been pleasantly surprised at the compromises
that have been made - in principle - which should make the next
negotiations easier. (A wag suggests that crisis-watchers should
form a Sisiphis club, dedicated to pushing initiatives uphill.)

The DUP's original complaint, about the accountability of Executive
Ministers, seems to have been overcome. And Sinn Fein have ensured
that the institutions can't be suspended and that policing and
justice will be devolved, giving an ex-IRA man a chance of becoming
law-and-order Minister.

If that doesn't boggle your mind, I don't know what would.

Few journalists nowadays can remember Northern Ireland before the
troubles, but Jimmy Kelly's 75-year career goes back to the dawn of
devolution and the brain-dead Craigavon and Brookeborough years.
Small wonder that Tony Blair can't understand a place where, "by
kind permission of Mr Paul Murphy", the Irish News hosted a
Stormont celebration of a unionist-bashing, government-deploring,
good-companion columnist which included the odd UUP adherent, as
well as SDLP, the highest echelons of SF, and many non-subscribing
columnists. We may think we're news junkies, but reading five
newspapers a day at 93?


Many Questions Still Unanswered

PEACE DRIVE: The public, north and south, must be kept fully in the

11 December 2004

As a week that provided a tantalising glimpse of a new era of peace
and stability draws to a close, it is time to take stock. Hope has
not been entirely dashed, but it is clear that there is much
dotting of i's and crossing of t's still to be accomplished.

What progress has been made on many fronts must be banked. But as
speculation continues as to how the deal faltered, new issues
emerge. For example, what about the so-called "side deal" which
somewhat curiously, was not referred to in the documents published
by the British and Irish Governments?

According to newspaper reports in Dublin, there are promises of an
amnesty for on-the-run terrorists and a fast-tracking of measures
to enable Stormont Assembly members to sit in the Dublin Senate.

But most controversially, the suggested early release for the
killers of Det Garda Jerry McCabe has become an issue causing
widespread concern in the Republic.

In Northern Ireland, there is the question of demilitarisation.
Trade unions claim that the closure of Army bases could lead to
more than 3,000 civilian workers losing their jobs. Until we know
the full picture of such proposals, again not in Wednesday's joint
documents, the true impact cannot be measured.

More questions arise over Sinn Fein's role in policing matters,
after the historic meeting between Gerry Adams and the Chief
Constable, Hugh Orde. What undertakings if any did Mr Orde give to
Sinn Fein? And what commitments if any did Sinn Fein offer in

On the economic front, what has become of the reported £1bn peace
fund, supposedly on tap in the event of a deal? What is the
substance of this proposal? And is it still on the table?

The more that people begin to examine the small print of the
documents made public by the two governments, the more the
questions arise. Thus far, the undertakings entered into by the
parties remain conditional because, as ever in this peace process,
"nothing is agreed until everything is agreed".

And, certainly, the issues which are emerging go far beyond the
taking of a photograph.

The questions do not stop there. People are entitled to know what
precisely the IRA means when it speaks of "moving into a new mode"?
While the promise to decommission all weapons by the end of the
year was undoubtedly a major breakthrough, does "moving into a new
mode" also mean an end to all paramilitary activity?

As people reflect on all that has happened, the abiding need is for
more information. Nagging doubts must be removed.

As has been the case from the outset, transparency is essential in
bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion. The public,
north and south, must be kept fully informed and the impression to
date is that this is not the case.


English Unionist MP Rejects By-Election Call

By Dan McGinn, Ireland Political Editor, PA

The first ever English MP for the Democratic Unionists tonight
vowed to continue to serve the people of Basingstoke until the next
General Election.

Andrew Hunter, who quit the Conservative whip in 2002, rejected
calls for him to seek a fresh mandate for his House of Commons seat
after he formally joined the Reverend Ian Paisley's DUP
Parliamentary team.

The decision makes him the party's first and only English MP.

But tonight he rejected calls from Labour's General Election
candidate in Basingstoke, Councillor Paul Harvey for him to hold a
by-election and seek a new mandate as a DUP candidate.

Mr Hunter, who has family connections in Co Londonderry, told PA:
"This announcement shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone as I have
been a member of the DUP for some time and even ran for the party
at the last Northern Ireland Assembly election.

"For some time, I have been observing the DUP whip in the House of

"I am also standing down as the MP for Basingstoke at the next
General Election and will be moving to Northern Ireland where I
intend to play a greater role in the Democratic Unionists.

"It is also no surprise to me that one of my opponents in
Basingstoke wants me to stand down but my decision to join the DUP
Parliamentary team will make no difference to my constituents who I
will continue to serve faithfully."

In last year's Assembly Election, Mr Hunter narrowly missed out on
a seat in Jeffrey Donaldson's Lagan Valley constituency, securing
3,300 first preference votes.

Since 2002, the Basingstoke MP has been sitting as an Independent
Conservative in the House of Commons since resigning the Tory whip.

Mr Hunter was one of the few Conservatives to oppose the Good
Friday Agreement in the House of Commons and is a member of the
Protestant Orange Order.

A DUP statement confirmed he MP officially joined the DUP
Parliamentary Party yesterday and was recognised as such by the
Speaker of the House.

The party has six MPs in Northern Ireland – the Reverend Ian
Paisley, Peter Robinson and his wife Iris, Nigel Dodds, Gregory
Campbell and Jeffrey Donaldson.

Mr Hunter was urged today by Basingstoke councillor and Labour's
candidate in the constituency, Paul Harvey to seek a new mandate.

"I have to say it is a bit odd having a Democratic Unionist MP for
Basingstoke," the Labour councillor said.

"Obviously Andrew has had more than a passing interest in Northern
Ireland over the years and even had DUP members campaigning for him
in this constituency in 2001 when he was a Conservative.

"But I would hope being an honourable man, he will seek re-election
now that he has officially switched parties.

"I think Andrew should seek a new mandate in the House of Commons
and stand properly as a DUP candidate. I must say I would very much
relish contesting the DUP in an election."

Five years ago the DUP were reported to be considering a branch in
Liverpool but it never materialised.

A DUP spokesman laughed off Councillor Harvey's call for Andrew
Hunter to stand down and also dismissed tongue in cheek suggestions
that the party might expand its electoral base into England,
Scotland and Wales.

"Andrew is due to retire from Westminster at the next general
election," he said.

"His connection with the DUP is well established.

"We have a number of people over on the mainland who support the
party but that's all.

"But no, we are not setting up constituency associations over

Mr Hunter will move permanently to a new home in Moira, Co Down
after the next General Election.

"In Basingstoke terms, I am a Conservative in my blood and bones
and always will be," he told PA as he travelled to a civic function
in Ballymena, Co Antrim where the Reverend Ian Paisley will be
given the freedom of the borough by councillors.

"They have a good candidate in Maria Miller at the next General
Election, a friend of mine."


Man Charged Over UVF Shirt

11 December 2004

A MAN has been charged under the Terrorism Act for allegedly
wearing an Ulster Volunteer Force T-shirt.

Colin Duffy (33) is accused of wearing the shirt bearing a UVF logo
in Ayr Road, Irvine, Ayrshire, last August 8, in circumstances
giving cause for reasonable suspicion he was a member or supporter
of the banned paramilitary group.

Duffy, of Gottries Road, Irvine, denied the offence at Kilmarnock
Sheriff Court yesterday and faces trial next year.


Pakistan Arrests Afghan Kidnap Suspect

11/12/2004 - 10:07:39

Pakistani security forces have arrested the head of a militant
Islamic group suspected in the kidnapping of three UN workers -
including Irishwoman Annetta Flanigan - in Afghanistan in October.

Syed Akbar Agha, chief of Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims,
was captured in the south-western city of Quetta this week,
Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said.

He gave no other details.

Armed men seized Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland, Philippine
diplomat Angelito Nayan and Shqipe Hebibi of Kosovo on October 28.
They were freed unharmed in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on November
23 and returned to their homes.

Pakistan has been looking for Agha, who used a mobile phone to
contact some media to claim responsibility for the abduction.

Afghan and US officials had sought Islamabad's help to track him
down, an intelligence official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Agha's real
name was Haji Fazal Karim.

"He (Agha) was captured with his wives and children this week, but
the women and children were later freed," he said.

After the kidnapping, Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali
said Agha's group may have hired bandits to abduct the UN workers,
who helped organise Afghanistan's October 9 presidential election.

Agha last month said that he would free the trio if Aghan
authorities accepted the group's demand for the release of 26
prisoners held in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Agha's group said 15 of the prisoners they wanted released were
seized by American troops near the southern border town of Spin
Boldak last month. The others were detained earlier and some may
have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Afghan officials insist the three were freed without the payment of
a ransom or any other concessions being made to the kidnappers, who
abandoned their captives on a street in Kabul.


See BBC video at:

Funeral Mass For Irish Aid Worker Hassan -V

11 December 2004 12:50

A funeral mass is being held in London for the Irish aid worker,
Margaret Hassan, who is believed to have been murdered in Iraq.

Family and friends are attending the service in Westminster
Cathedral, which began at 12.30pm.

As her body has not been found, a picture of her has been placed by
the altar instead of a coffin.

The mass is being presided over by the Archbishop of Westminster,
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and includes hymns, prayers and a
tribute to Mrs Hassan read by her close family friend, Patrick

The Government is being represented by the Minister for Arts, Sport
and Tourism, John O'Donoghue.

Mrs Hassan, 59, who had Irish, British and Iraqi nationality, had
lived in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, for some 30 years.

She was taken hostage on 19 October on her way to work at Care
International, the charity where she was country director.


Book: History Of Ireland - Ireland, Mon Amour


Malachy McCourt's
History of Ireland
Running Press, 400 pages, $27.95

Do we need another book on Irish history? Maybe Irish people just
want it to be over. With Ireland's new prosperity, that may be
happening. Half the country's coming or going on a plane, another's
at the shopping centre, and the other's touring their band or
making a movie somewhere.

That Irish history, Nabokov's "unreal estate," which told "us" who
we were and where we were on the journey to recover our former
greatness, folded. It had given us heroes and lives from folklore,
and exemplary great Irish people or descendants and successes from
more recent times. If our lot was cruel, divine providence was
built in. Catholicism ennobled suffering such that we needed only
endure, fight, endure more . . . to prevail, and attain some
version of a pre-lapsarian Celtic Eden before the English -- oops,
the Norman French -- arrived. That was okay as long as those Celts
were austere stoics, and not the exuberantly physical, sexual,
crafty and ungovernable bunch we know about now. That's not to say
Celticism is flagging, by the way. It's right up there with angel
guides and you-are-special circuses of narcissism and pop
psychology, the top drawer of that never-ending, rat-arsed
stupidity of pop culture.

But now we have deliverance: We're not "there" any more. That
"there" done gone. The "there" was not just about geography,
although land and family were intimately intertwined in Irish life
and history. "There" was our social, our tribal, our family selves,
our very own biographies. It's gone into the great forgetfulness
that Vaclav Havel warns against, a nostalgia that comes with our
rationalized, prosperous, conformist, packaged ways. We already are
tourists in our own country, many of us. The theme park is us. But
maybe it's a bit soon to jump to contusions here, as our muse Mrs.
Malaprop might say. Can we not burn that bridge when we get to it?

It's not all bad. If that history's grip on the Irish lessens, our
zealots might stop, or slow, their bloodletting. For another thing,
history, as much as literature, deserves to be let out of the
pedant's grasp. We are now more aware that the "us," that tribal,
unitary "us," was bogus. That old "us" did not include landless
tenants rendered into oblivion by the petit-bourgeois Free State
(emigrated). It's only lately we encounter the faceless, undefended
wards and victims of the Irish Catholic Church (ignored twice), or
that we attend to the countless Irish who served in Britain's
armies or civil service (um, "defected").

The huge amount of whinging, defiance and posturing in that
"history" shouldn't obscure the marvel of Ireland's history. It was
a noble lie, much of it, in how it was cast and in what it was
silent about. It was part of the liberation story to buck us up.
Like Moses on his own journey, we were basket cases, remember.
History is no longer Joyce's "nightmare from which we struggle to
awaken." No, there's plenty of cappuccino in this theme park to
keep us wide awake. It's even acceptable now to say that there's no
"Irish race."

It seems that nobody told any of this to Malachy McCourt. Or he
knows about this, but knows his audience better, ideally the
American-Irish with fond regards for the imagined country of their
ancestors. In McCourt wades, loquacious and charming, this author,
actor and pub owner, traveller and professional Irishman at large,
and he seems not in the slightest troubled by that end of history.

After a modest demurral about his lack of formal schooling, he
shyly claims something of the bardic authority of the storyteller.
Indeed, he does have storyteller's gifts, and his relaxed style and
voice make this book readable all the while, from beginning to end.
Would that it had come out on an audio CD. McCourt has the voice of
a late-night raconteur in a pub, a man of whom it would be said,
"That fella, he should write a book, so he should." Well, be
careful what you wish for. Maybe the subtlety, or sly mockery, I
should say, in that comment was lost on him.

In a nod to our personality-obsessed age, McCourt tells his stories
of Irish history through the lives of 50 Irish men and women, the
usual suspects such as High King Brian Boru and patriot Michael
Collins. Now, is it because it's Ireland that only seven of the 50
are women, or . . . ? And, given that 50 people is a limit, is it
fair to complain about who has been left out? I think so. Why not
Edward Carson, Dubliner and Unionist leader? Constance Markievicz,
Republican guerrilla in the 1916 Rising? Scotus Eriugena, the
innovative medieval philosopher? Lady Gregory, patron and supporter
of Ireland's Celtic revival? Beckett, certainly, but what about
Wilde or Shaw? Gordon Wilson, his daughter murdered in the
Enniskillen car-bombing, a man who somehow came through with only
love, forgiveness and tenderness?

Great and ordinary -- so could we not have set aside some or all of
the Great Ones and met instead the ordinary Marys and Pats, the
Williams and the Elizabeths?

Preferences aside here, there are things from this soothing Come-
into-the-Parlour-Danny-Boy voice that should not get under the
radar. Continuities and identities are implied, and assumed, or at
least the differences are not clearly distinguished. One is an
implied continuity between the IRA of the War of Independence from
Britain and the IRA of today. If it were only that simple, this
unbroken chain, so to speak. McCourt gives Bobby Sands, an IRA
activist who died on a hunger strike in 1981, the status of a
martyr. Martyr for whom? At what cost? Martyr like Terence
McSwiney, lord mayor of Cork, who died under force-feeding by the
British in 1920? Martyr like Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero?
Martyr like al-Qaeda?

He also declares that upon joining the IRA, Sands "found hope."
That's not just unsettling, it's repugnant. Hope for what? Maybe
our guide Mrs. Malaprop was right: Hope does indeed spring
infernal. There is enough grim irony left in Ireland yet to hear
the wag's comment: "Ah sure, we'll never forget you, Billy Sands!"
Mockery in Ireland has a purgative effect not always cruel or

Another disturbing solecism follows with McCourt's treatment of
Gerry Adams. On the matter of whether Adams is in the IRA at all,
or even why he should be one of the 50 Greats in this book, McCourt
contents himself with saying that some day we'll know, "but that
day is not now." Why not? Says who? Moreover, how exactly is
Bernadette McAliskey-Devlin Ireland's Joan of Arc? Conceits like
that roll off McCourt's pen handily enough because it sounds like a
clever thing to say, as easy as it is opaque.

The history in the book is very ably massaged into a processed and
eminently manageable, untroubling and finally sedative story by the
chatty McCourt, who, like his brother Frank, is a memoirist as well
(A Monk Swimming). Imprisoned in the narrative he grew up with, it
is a historical artifact itself, a time capsule, the product of a
fully invested member of the "Irish race," as he calls himself. It
exudes the self-congratulatory tone, the tribal descant, of the
Irish-American, too often crowing and vulgar. For this reader,
that's the tribe calling, something that wounds the individual by
forced inclusion as much as the end of history -- that shopping
mall -- wounds it by its stealthy, smiling inclusion.

The story drifts into closure, and draws us into the safe precincts
of our entertainment culture. We're back in the folk village, where
acuity, pain and incongruity are not welcome. For all the helpful,
costumed re-enactors and the authentic period detail, the enemy
remains the free mind.

The book ends with Bono, as maybe it should.

John Brady is author of the Minogue series of novels. The next one,
Islandbridge, will be published in 2005.

© 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Monthly Table of Contents 01/05
Monthly Table of Contents 12/04
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