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December 13, 2004

News 12/13/04 - Collusion Vigil Disrupted By Off Duty PSNI Men

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

IC 12/13/04 Collusion Vigil Disrupted By 'Off-Duty PSNI Men'
BB 12/13/04 Sinn Fein Meet Premiers –A(4)
BT 12/13/04 DUP Want Clergyman Witness
IC 12/13/04 Political Fall Out Continues
GU 12/13/04 Opin: Paisley's Version Of Success Not Help NIreland
IC 12/13/04 Opin: Who Will Save The Doc From Himself?
BT 12/13/04 Opin: Humiliation Whinge The Only Escape For Rpblcns
BT 12/13/04 Opin: Rbt McCartney - The Deal That Never Was
BT 12/13/04 Police Hold Man In Hunt For INLA Kidnapping Gang
NL 12/13/04 Union Flag Is Hoisted Over Dublin Again


Collusion Vigil Disrupted By 'Off-Duty PSNI Men'

A candlelit vigil by the An Fhírinne group to highlight the issue
of collusion was disrupted last Friday night by a group of men who
claimed to be off-duty members of the PSNI.

Over 100 members of teh group gathered at the City Hall to demand
the truth behind British Government collusion with loyalist death
squads. During the vigil l a group of men — who claimed they were
off-duty cops — abused those taking part.

"The actions of these men were totally insensitive," says An
Fhírinne spokesman and loyalist victim Mark Sykes.

"It was totally insensitive and upsetting for drunken PSNI officers
to abuse members of the families of those killed through
collusion," said Mark.

"They approached Tom Hartley and at first asked him questions about
An Fhírinne, what it meant, and he explained that it meant 'The

"But when they asked was this all not meant to be in the past and
should it not all be forgotten about, and they were told that the
families of those who'd been murdered needed closure on the loss of
their loved ones, they started to poke one of the pictures on the
posters and ask what about the 300 or so RUC families who'd lost

"And then they became abusive and were totally insensitive to the

"It was very upsetting for the family members who were there and it
was uncalled for that a peaceful vigil be disrupted in this way."

Councillor Tom Hartley said "the minor incident" shouldn't detract
from the focus of the evening. "We shouldn't let the actions of a
few overshadow the significance of the vigil which is part of the
campaign to highlight the pain and hurt experienced by relatives,
and the need for them to know the truth behind their loved ones'
deaths," he added.

"The relatives at the vigil, in a dignified way, maintained a sense
of themselves and we should support them in their efforts to have
the truth told."

* A Special Remembrance Mass for all those killed through
collusion, and their families, will be held at Clonard Monastery on
Wednesday evening, December 15, at 8pm, and all are welcome to

Journalist:: Ciara McGuigan


Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin leader, recounts more of the background to
the negotiations and the disputed texts

Noel Doran, Editor of the Irish News, says the wider picture is a
lot more positive than the rows over the failed initiative suggest

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern denied at the weekend that there was a
secret understanding over the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe

Charlie Bird, Chief News Correspondent, says the Taoiseach is far
from giving up on the initiative

Sinn Fein Meet Premiers

The British and Irish Prime Ministers are meeting Sinn Fein in a
bid to overcome the latest obstacle in the political process.

SF leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern in Dublin on Monday before flying to Downing Street to see
Tony Blair.

After his meeting, Mr Ahern said he accepted that the issue of
photographs, for verifying decommissioning was not workable.

Both he and Mr Adams said they would continue to close the gap on
the remaining issues before Christmas.

The DUP has demanded a photographic record must be made of the IRA
decommissioning its weapons.

But Sinn Fein said the IRA would "not submit to a process of

A "comprehensive agreement" between the parties broke down last
week over the issue of IRA weapons being put beyond use.

Mr Adams said there was no room for movement on the issue of
photographic evidence of decommissioning.

He said he was determined not to miss out on what he described as a
"glorious opportunity".

"We believe that the prime minister in Britain and the taoiseach
here in Dublin have a sense and an understanding of the
significance of what is on offer here," he told BBC Radio Ulster on

"The core of the difficulties lies in the unwillingness, or the
slowness, or the reluctance of some elements to actually embrace
generously a process of change," he said.

"We are quite clear - we will go and talk to the DUP leader Ian
Paisley at any time. It is he who is refusing to talk to us."

'Oversee the process'

Mr Ahern said on Sunday that the political process was within 10
hours of being resolved.

He said it was a "very positive sign" that the IRA had been in
fresh contact with the International Independent Decommissioning
Commission since last Wednesday.

"Really it just requires a bit of cool nerves, a bit of straight
negotiation on very few issues, a few chances to be taken - nobody
likes the bits that are outstanding but if we all do it
collectively, this can be finished," he said.

The British-Irish proposals said that decommissioning would be
witnessed by two clergymen, and DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said his
party already knows who it wants to help oversee the process.

"We haven't yet got agreement on what role the witnesses will play
in the decommissioning process in verifying what has happened," he

Meanwhile, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church has said that
any arms move should be witnessed by four clergymen including
someone "who has lost a loved one".

Reverend Ken Newell said photographs of decommissioning were
desirable but not essential.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland have been suspended
since October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering
at the Northern Ireland Office.

The DUP and Sinn Fein became the largest unionist and nationalist
parties after assembly elections in November 2003.

However, the two parties have never been able to reach a deal which
would allow a power-sharing executive to be formed, and Northern
Ireland continues to be governed by direct rule from Westminster.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish premier Bertie
Ahern published joint government proposals for power-sharing in

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/13 10:07:07 GMT


DUP Want Clergyman Witness

Unidentified Church minister to oversee decommissioning

By Noel McAdam
13 December 2004

The DUP has nominated a Protestant clergyman as an independent
witness to IRA decommissioning, it has been confirmed.

But the identity of the Church minister has not been disclosed as
recriminations continued over last week's collapsed deal to restore

With the threat of the Governments' released text unravelling, the
parties were also still in contact with the British and Republic
Governments to attempt to resolve the impasse over photographic
evidence of IRA disarmament.

One suggestion being made is that the number of independent
observers could be increased from two to four.

But the DUP insists that the witnesses are necessary less to
provide confirmation of the decommissioning event than to verify
the series of photographs.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson also confirmed yesterday that the party
had already compromised on its original demand for video evidence
and accepted photographs instead.

The Lagan Valley MP said the suggestion by United States envoy
Mitchel Reiss for the release of any photographs to be delayed had
not been rejected by his party.

Senior Sinn Fein negotiator Martin McGuinness said, however, the
insistence on photography had more to do with the concept of
"victory and defeat".

He described DUP leader Ian Paisley as a "wily old fox" who wanted
to hold a trophy over his head against the IRA and Ulster Unionist
leader David Trimble.

Speaking on the BBC Politics Show, he said of the demand for
photographs: "in my view, it's not deliverable".

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson argued lack of resolution on IRA
decommissioning should not obscure the "very significant advances"
during the recent talks on Ministerial and north-south

New arrangements had also been agreed for the election of the First
Minister, Deputy First Minister and the power-sharing Executive as
well as an efficiency investigation into the number of Government
Departments and the 108 Assembly members.

"We believe that over a period of time this could achieve very
substantial savings," he said.

Presbyterian Moderator the Rev Ken Newell said any arms move should
be witnessed by four clergymen including someone "who has lost a
loved one".


Political Fall Out Continues

The SDLP has launched a bitter attack on Sinn Féin following the
publication last Wednesday of the proposals by the British and
Irish governments for a comprehensive agreement.

In a scathing verbal volley, SDLP party leader Mark Durkan claimed
that Sinn Féin has compromised "Irish national democratic

"I have no political ego. But what I absolutely resent is when the
Irish national democratic interest is compromised and when people
pretend that there have not been changes to the Agreement and worse
yet to come," he said.

"Sinn Féin's priority has been about the self-image of the IRA, not
the proper democratic interest of the nationalist people. That's
what I am annoyed about," blasted Mr Durkan.

Repudiating the criticisms, Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said that
the SDLP "is in no position to lecture Sinn Féin about the defence
of the Agreement".

"While the SDLP have been unhelpfully sniping from the sidelines
Sinn Féin have been defending the rights of nationalists, the
equality agenda and the all-Ireland architecture against the
objective of the DUP to achieve a veto.

"The approach of the SDLP to a relatively small number of key
issues demonstrates that they are increasingly directionless," said
Conor Murphy.

Sinn Féin highlighted a range of issues to support their criticism.
According to the party, these are: the SDLP's decision to rubber-
stamp the purchase of plastic bullets on the Policing Board; the
SDLP's support for the Independent Monitoring Commission (which
even IMC members admit is outside the terms of the Good Friday
Agreement); the SDLP's demand for the introduction of electoral
fraud legislation which has led to 200,000 voters being wiped off
the voting register; and the SDLP's decision to support, then
oppose, then abstain, when the so-called Mandelson Police Bill was
going through Westminster.

Reacting to Sinn Féin's comments, the SDLP leader Mark Durkan
accused Mr Murphy of relying on "spin and untruths".

Meanwhile the prospect of positive political progress has been left
open by the IRA leadership, after the organisation issued its first
public comment on recent political developments.

In a statement issued to An Phoblacht last Thursday the IRA
restated its commitment to the peace process.

"For his part, Ian Paisley demanded that our contribution be
photographed, and reduced to an act of humiliation," the statement
from P O'Neill said.

"This was never possible. Knowing this, he made this demand
publicly as the excuse for his rejection of an overall agreement to
create a political context with the potential to remove the causes
of conflict.

"As the IRA leadership has said before, this is a context in which
Irish republicans and unionists can, as equals, pursue our
respective political objectives peacefully.

"We restate our commitment to the peace process. But we will not
submit to a process of humiliation," said the IRA.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney


We Need Humility, Not Hubris

Opin: Ian Paisley's Version Of Success Will Not Help Northern

Roy Hattersley
Monday December 13, 2004
The Guardian

The Rev Dr Ian Paisley might well have been the inspiration for the
joke about the self-made man who worships his creator. Every rung
on the ladder by which he ascended to the lofty heights he now
occupies was fashioned by his own hand. He founded his own church,
his own political party, his own Orange Lodge and his own
newspaper. Now he promotes his belief through the European
Institute of Protestant Studies, a seat of learning that he created
to publish his own work. His special field of scholarship is The
Antichrist. His conclusions are original.

"Antichrist is a Greek word. Vicar is an English word. The words
have exactly the same meaning. Antichrist translated into English
is Vice Christ or Vicar of Christ. Vicar of Christ, rendered into
Greek, is Anti Christos = Antichrist ... so every time the Pope
claims to be The Vicar of Christ, he is pleading at the bar of the
world's opinion that he is indeed the Antichrist."

Whatever else Dr Paisley studied at the Bob Jones University of
South Carolina, the Pioneer Theological Seminary in Rockville,
Illinois, and the Burton College in Manitou Springs, Colorado, it
was not etymology. But his academic qualifications - always
questioned by his detractors - are less important today than his
political power, which is beyond dispute.

Paul Murphy - the consistently impressive secretary of state -
warns that if Dr Paisley cannot cooperate with Gerry Adams and
allow Stormont to function again, the result may be a new Northern
Ireland election. The short-term future of the province lies in the
hands of a man whose beliefs are as absurd as they are dangerous.
His success is the victory for brutal intransigence.

Dr Paisley has opposed every attempt to move Northern Ireland into
the modern world of tolerance and understanding and, by doing so,
has become the champion of the men and women who could not rise
above the cry of "no surrender". For years, he was no more than an
anti-Catholic troublemaker. Then he graduated - through support for
the Protestant Workers' Strike which broke the Sunningdale
Agreement - to full-blown saboteur of every attempt to promote
closer ties between Northern Ireland and the Republic and
emancipate the Catholic minority.

He was against the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985 and the Good
Friday agreement of 1998, and he has made his name by excoriating
the Protestant leaders who endorsed them. Last week he derided
David Trimble - hardly a devotee of political ecumenism - for
spending "eight hours sitting on a sofa with Gerry Adams". Whether
he spoke metaphorically or complained about a real life tete-a-
tete, he was pursuing his old policy of outflanking his unionist
rivals by occupying the far extreme of Orange policy.

The hope that he will come to an agreement with Gerry Adams so that
Stormont can be recalled, with Dr Paisley himself a chief minister
and the Sinn Féin leader as his deputy, lies in the possibility
that age and illness have mellowed him into believing that he was
wrong to oppose every attempt at reform. And there is also a
suspicion that he wants his political career to end with the
accolade of leading the Northern Ireland assembly. Hubris is a
safer bet than humility. Both reasons for optimism are qualified by
the certainty that if he wants an agreement, he wants it on his own
terms. The evidence suggests that he will not work with Sinn Féin
until he can glory in its public humiliation.

Dr Paisley is perfectly justified in calling for proof that the IRA
has destroyed its arms and ammunition. But photographs are only one
way of providing it. Great concessions have already been made. The
agreement to decommission is, in itself, a repudiation of
republican history. Add to that the offer to stand down all
volunteers and accept the legitimacy of the police, and it is clear
that what Dr Paisley chooses to call IRA-Sinn Féin has made a
decisive break with the past.

For years, every time that Gerry Adams moved into Northern
Ireland's middle ground, Dr Paisley took a step backwards - making
sure that the gap between them was just as great but located nearer
to the ultra unionist position. That sort of behaviour gives
compromise a bad name, and does not deserve to succeed. But there
is a more important reason for resisting demands for Gerry Adams to
eat dirt. It might well get Stormont back into action but it is not
the basis on which to build a lasting coalition.

An agreement - or accommodation - before the British general
election would be nice and tidy. I give Tony Blair credit for
wanting a speedy settlement for better reasons than the aura of
success that would then surround his campaign. But for a lasting
solution he may have to wait longer than next May. Progress may
have to be postponed until Dr Paisley's malign influence no longer
determines Northern Ireland's future.


We Say

Opin: Who Will Save The Doc From Himself?

Did Ian Paisley really make his blood and thunder speech at
Ballymena because he wanted to sabotage the deal in the making?

That's not very likely because under his leadership the DUP was set
to seal a historic deal.

The party which made its name in lording it over Catholics and
vowing to smash Sinn Féin was on course to make the mother of all
U-turns by joining republicans in a powersharing government.

The peace train came off the rails not because Paisley or his
lieutenants changed their minds but because the Doc couldn't help
himself from spewing out more bile and vitriol against the
'Barbarians at the gate'. After 40-plus years of castigating
Catholics, it was just beyond the DUP leader to keep his
considerable trap closed for a few more days.

Thus came the rabble-rousing speech. The fault didn't lie with the
architects of the new agreement but with Paisley's lack of
experience in peacemaking. After all, this is a chief negotiator
who hasn't yet brought himself to shake hands with Bertie Ahern yet
never mind discuss demilitarisation with Martin McGuinness.

And did the IRA only refuse to have photos taken of the final act
of decommissioning because of the Big Man's demand for humiliation?
Not so, though he certainly vindicated their stance. The reality is
that the IRA had long ago ruled out gifting Paisley photos he could
have reproduced on every election-time t-shirt just below the word
'SURRENDER' and above the legend, 'Vote DUP'.

The makings of a breathtakingly comprehensive deal are still there.
If someone in the DUP can gag the DUP leader between now and the
weekend, we could still make a momentous breakthrough.


Opin: Humiliation Whinge Is The Only Escape Route Left For

By Malachi O'Doherty
13 December 2004

There is a fallacy that friends and enemies of the IRA agree on. It
is that the movement is driven more by emotion than by reason.

So the big deal was scuppered by the danger that members of the IRA
would feel humiliated if the dismantling of their armouries was

The two Governments accept that as the actual reason for failure
and Sinn Fein declares openly that it is so.

On Friday's Late Late, Gerry Adams whinged for Ireland about the
special sensitivities of republicans who had suffered so much.
Further to the hurt they would suffer, republicans reason that, if
the dismantling is photographed, the DUP will use the pictures
against them in the next election.

This is such transparent nonsense that no one who takes it
seriously should be taken seriously on anything else.

The DUP and Sinn Fein are not electoral rivals so it doesn't matter
how the DUP depicts the IRA. It is hardly going to endorse it as a
fine body of principled people, whatever happens.

But to read some of the political commentary in recent days, you
would think that Sinn Fein was reasonably afraid that some of its
electoral base would defect to the DUP if the photographs of
decommissioning were flaunted by the DUP in an election campaign.

No chance. Only when sectarianism is dead will that prospect emerge
and this process contributes nothing to that goal.

Sinn Fein and the DUP are the two most successful political parties
in Northern Ireland. They have both survived long years of derision
to become the leaders of their respective communities. Their
leaders are virtual popes, the longest standing political party
leaders - therefore the greatest political survivors - on these

They did not get to these positions by taking huffs or by worrying
about what their enemies thought of them. They did it by being
rational and ambitious and by embracing even humiliation when it
suited them.

Indeed, neither the DUP nor Sinn Fein ever cared tuppence for what
the other thought of them. Neither can be humiliated in the eyes of
the other, because neither could be held in lower regard by the

The only people before whom the IRA can be humiliated are other
republicans: their own followers and the dissidents. They have
doggedly endured that kind of humiliation in the past.

When loyalist paramilitaries tried to goad the IRA out of its
ceasefire, how many times did the IRA refuse the bait and submit to
the sneers of its rivals in the paramilitary field and keep its
focus on its political goals?

Adams has already overturned his movement as successfully as Blair
has overturned his and with equal unconcern for abuse. He has shown
himself to be entirely impervious to the sneers of those who accuse
him of betrayal, so it is not credible that he has suddenly become
ashamed of what he is doing to the IRA.

His message on RTE was, more or less: we have been humiliated
enough, made to stand naked before the Brits - we can take no more.

The man who claims to fear humiliation tosses his own self-respect
aside, abases himself and his movement, presenting them as an
emotionally vulnerable and incapable of enduring one more slight
even to fulfil their own political ambitions. He does this to gain
at political advantage in these talks. He could as easily demean
himself in some other way for some other outcome. He is a
politician, after all. It is what they do.

What is the difference between bleating for the poor, stricken,
heart-sore men of the IRA on Irish national television and
accepting a photograph of decommissioning, apart from the one, the
televised whinge, being even more undignified?

Adams can gulp down humiliation with relish in the pursuit of his
goals because he is a sane, practical politician who knows what he

If choosing to abort the deal on the demand for a photograph of
decommissioning seems trite and silly indulgence -and it does -
that may not be because republicans are inordinately sensitive to
humiliation but because, having been walked so far into a deal they
weren't ready for, it was the only eject button at hand.


Opinion: Rbt McCartney - The Deal That Never Was

13 December 2004

Last Wednesday, Tony Blair, with shameless spin, attempted to
convince a favourable media and an increasingly sceptical public
that he had only a mound to climb to achieve another historic deal.
The mound was seemingly no higher than a sheaf of photographs.

A section of the media has swallowed the spin and served up this
simplistic nonsense in the form of cheap headlines. The truth was
always more complex and the issues much more substantial.

Two factors ensured that a deal would not be agreed and both
stemmed from the deception and ambiguity that surrounded the
Belfast Agreement.

First, there was the fraud of Tony Blair in publicly claiming that
Sinn Fein and the IRA were "inextricably linked" while, for all
political purposes, treating Sinn Fein as a democratic party with
an electoral mandate, separate and distinct from its murderous
terrorist counterpart.

Second, was the fact that once this separation was acknowledged,
Sinn Fein was enabled to extend its mandate at the electoral
expense of the SDLP, while allowing it to retain and control its
terrorist wing and utilise the possession of its weapons as assets
to be bartered for political advantage. As one British official put
it to Mark Durkan when he complained at Weston Park that Sinn Fein
was receiving political concessions to the detriment of the SDLP:
"You have no guns."

The notional separation of Sinn Fein from the IRA provided the
party with a negotiating advantage which was not shared by its
nationalist or unionist opponents. Sinn Fein, wearing its
'democratic' hat and relying on its electoral mandate, could claim
political legitimacy enabling Adams, McGuinness, Doherty and co to
posture as statesmen.

Showered with privilege, place, money, and media attention, they
talked the talk of democrats, while the IRA acted as their
political and social enforcers and criminal fund-raisers in the
nationalist ghettoes.

The separation of Sinn Fein 'democrats' from IRA 'terrorists'
became the key to ongoing benefits. It enabled Sinn Fein to accept
the Mitchell Principles and gain entry to the negotiations which
delivered the Belfast Agreement.

It secured the release of convicted republican terrorists; the
destruction of the RUC, and the placing of Sinn Fein ministers in
government. It permitted Sinn Fein to deny responsibility for the
decommissioning of IRA weapons by accepting that Sinn Fein did not
control the IRA's activities and should, therefore, suffer no
greater political sanction than other 'democratic' parties should
the IRA refuse to decommission.

This fraudulent fiction that Sinn Fein and the IRA are not
inextricably linked continues to be used until the present time.

Once again, as in April 1998, Sinn Fein expresses a willingness to
accept a political settlement but denies that the decommissioning
element has anything to do with it and is really a matter outside
the party political negotiations and is a matter to be dealt with
between the IRA and General de Chastelain's Commission.

Yet this does not square with the reality of Gerry Adams' statement
that, until the comprehensive package is agreed, he has nothing to
put before the Army Council.

The reality is that there is no separation of Sinn Fein and the IRA
- they are a joint concern and must be treated as such. There is
scarcely anyone in the Sinn Fein leadership who has not an IRA
pedigree and nearly all have occupied high office in that

The opinion of the DUP and the UKUP in opposing the Agreement on
the grounds, inter alia, that the IRA would not decommission by May
22, 2000, or at all, has long since been vindicated.

Those parties recall the gullibility of the Ulster Unionists in
accepting Mr Blair's pledges which they warned against.

They remember Mr Trimble's confidence that the IRA would
decommission by January 31, 2000; a confidence so grossly misplaced
that he offered his resignation as leader if it did not occur.

More recently, they are reminded of the fiasco of October 2003
when, once again, the IRA failed to deliver.

Against this background, the DUP is unwilling to share the fate of
David Trimble by allowing itself to be deceived.

Trimble's failure might be excused on the ground of simple-minded
naivety, but the DUP, with the benefit of his tragically unfounded
trust, would have no excuse at all.

Nor is the DUP unmindful that large numbers of those who voted for
the DUP, view with concern, the prospect of an Executive with Sinn
Fein ministers in even greater numbers.

To ensure that the DUP is not split with the in-fighting that
shattered the Ulster Unionists, it is necessary that the violence
and organisation of the IRA is terminated in the most complete,
convincing, and utterly transparent manner, not only in words, but
in deeds. Such proofs are required, not for the purpose of
humiliating the IRA, but to retain the trust of the unionist
community and ensure the DUP's electoral survival.

Unlike Sinn Fein, political and electoral responsibility for any
settlement rests on the DUP alone. It does not pose as a democratic
party while off-loading responsibility onto those who hold arms.

Unlike 1998, Sinn Fein must do more than use its best endeavours to
secure decommissioning. The time has come for Sinn Fein/IRA to
deliver it.

Tony Blair claims that the IRA has agreed to decommission by the
end of December, but no evidence of such a claim is in the public
domain. No details of how, where, and when decommissioning is to
take place have been made public.

Instead, the IRA and its political front reject any form of proof
that would convince people at large that terror as a means of
achieving political change is finished.

The government's document represents only a broad brush outline of
a possible agreement, but much of the specific legislation required
to make it effective requires detailed analysis before anything can
be finalised. The spin that only the issue of photographs prevented
agreement is being exposed as simplistic nonsense.

In the Republic, Mary Harney of the PDs has forcibly pointed out
that there is a range of other issues preventing agreement, while
press reports indicate that IRA failure to agree on a number of
other crucial matters had been major obstacles to progress.

At last, on the national scene, there are increasing signs that
Sinn Fein/IRA are being identified as the main culprits and that
the DUP is justified in its demand for public and unequivocal
evidence that the use or threat of violence which the possession of
weaponry implies, is at an end.

Tony Blair must remove the fiction that there is a separation
between the 'democrats' of Sinn Fein and the 'terrorists' of the
IRA. After all, was it not he who stated that, while ambiguity was
a friend in the past, it was now an enemy?

On the July 25, 1997 when Mr Blair proposed admitting Sinn Fein to
the negotiations without first requiring decommissioning, I told
him in the House of Commons –

"Does the Prime Minister appreciate that, if Sinn Fein is admitted
to the Talks, it will say that it has no weapons to decommission
and that it is a political party with a mandate. Sinn Fein will
string out discussions about decommissioning and go through the
whole gamut of discussions on the political track without handing
over a single gun. Once it has come out the other end with its
armoury intact and its active service units ready for action we
shall be back to square one"

Seven years on, apart from three secretive charades, has anything
really changed?


Police Hold Man In Hunt For INLA Kidnapping Gang

By Jonathan McCambridge
13 December 2004

Detectives hunting an INLA crime gang believed to be behind a
series of high profile 'tiger kidnappings', today arrested a man in

The 34-year-old man was arrested early this morning and is being
questioned about three separate abductions and armed robberies.

It is understood that he is being quizzed about two incidents at
the Ulster Bank in Strabane and one at Boots chemist's earlier this

It is believed that up to £400,000 was stolen during two robberies
at the Ulster Bank.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that the man was being questioned in
relation to "serious crime".

Police have believed for some time that the same INLA gang is
behind several similar abductions - known as 'tiger kidnappings' -
in the North West.

In separate incidents this year, a number of people have been
abducted in the Strabane area and taken across the border where
they were held overnight, until one of the family members with
business connections obtained cash from their workplace to secure
their release.

Today's arrest follows a long-running police investigation and is
believed to be the result of an information breakthrough.

Detectives came under pressure at a recent meeting of Strabane
District Policing Partnership for failing to charge anyone
following the crimes.

Only weeks ago the Belfast Telegraph revealed that police on both
sides of the border had joined forces to launch an unprecedented
assault on the criminal gang.

Police in Londonderry, Strabane, Letterkenny and Buncrana have
worked closely together in the joint operation to target the

Strabane DUP councillor and chairman of the District Policing
Partnership, Thomas Kerrigan, said: "I welcome any breakthrough
from police and hope this is a positive response to what had become
a very embarrassing problem in Strabane."


Union Flag Is Hoisted Over Dublin Again

Monday 13th December 2004

The Union Flag has flown over the Custom House in Dublin Friday for
the first time since May 5, 1921, when the IRA burnt the building
in the last throes of the War of Independence.

This time, however, there was an atmosphere of concord as the
British and Irish governments marked their agreement to share
information on nuclear issues.

A flag could not be found in the Custom House itself and one was
supplied by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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