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January 14, 2005

01/14/05 – Prepare to Apologize Warns Adams

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

BB 01/14/05 Prepare To Apologise, Warns Adams
UT 01/14/05 Ervine: 'IRA Must Address Claims'
DJ 01/14/05 Opin: Onlooker's Pompous Diatribe On Republicans
IO 01/14/05 NUJ Slams McDowell Comments About Newspaper –V
SF 01/14/05 McGuinness Comments On Being Reselected
DJ 01/14/05 Derry Public Must Have Confidence In Bridge Inquiry
BT 01/14/05 Family Unharmed After Petrol Bomb Attack
BT 01/14/05 Meat Jobs 'At Risk' In Ballymena

NW 01/14/05 The Loneliness Of Rural Ireland

The Loneliness Of Rural Ireland - Geraldine Harney finds out about the Bantry Rural Transport scheme.


Prepare To Apologise, Warns Adams

By Mark Devenport

BBC Northern Ireland political editor

Gerry Adams challenged members of the press gathered at Stormont this week to be prepared to apologise if it turned out that the Northern Bank raid was not carried out by the IRA.

However, he did not appear to be too keen to pledge a similar apology should events take a similar turn to those which followed the Adare robbery in County Limerick in which Garda Jerry McCabe was killed.

The IRA initially denied involvement.

But after the Garda Commissioner pointed the finger of blame, the organisation admitted its members were responsible but the operation had not been authorised by the IRA leadership.

Mr Adams rejects comparisons with the Adare robbery, although it is unfortunate for him that the Northern Bank raid came so soon after the controversy over Sinn Fein's attempts to secure the early release of Garda McCabe's killers.

The Sinn Fein president says it should be noted that when the attempted robbery took place in June 1996, the IRA was not on ceasefire and its members "presumably had some instructions".

This begs the question of what instructions IRA members follow when the organisation is - as now - on ceasefire.

Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness told reporters those responsible for the Northern Bank robbery were hostile to the peace process and to the party's agenda.

However, the IRA cessation covers only so-called "military operations", a definition which presumably never included bank raids.

Even if the IRA had accepted paragraph 13 of the British and Irish Joint Declaration - a requirement for so long seen as an "act of completion" - then engaging in a bank raid would not necessarily have been precluded.

Nothing in the paragraph which talks about an end to targeting, intelligence gathering, punishment beatings and so on specifically rules out taking £26.5m from a bank vault.

Just as the National Australia Bank - the Northern Bank's owners - will have been dismayed to discover that the government's terrorism compensation rules do not cover them for the loss of their cash, so British and Irish officials may feel disenchanted that the IRA - if the chief constable is to be believed - has slipped through their declaration's fine print.

The former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre may well have a point when he argued in the Irish Times this week that continual crises serve Sinn Fein's agenda.

Mr McIntyre says these episodes maintain the special transitional nature of the republican movement and therefore guarantee it a regular place in the headlines.

Why make historic moves on IRA disarmament and disbandment on a timescale to satisfy Ian Paisley and the DUP, when you can save them for a date much closer to either the 2007 Irish Dail elections or the 2011 Irish Presidential election in which Gerry Adams may well be a candidate?

Longer term

British and Irish ministers may well call for an early Independent Monitoring Commission report which is likely to back Hugh Orde's assessment and point towards some sanctions against Sinn Fein.

But that will not help them in their longer term calculations.

If Sinn Fein is genuinely interested in cutting a deal with unionists at Stormont, it is possible that talks on the other side of the Westminster election may make some slow and painful progress, with some results possible in 2006.

If not, and with perpetual crises and north-south expansion being the real republican game plan, then ministers could be struggling with an apparently never-ending process for at least the next five years.

After all, that is not a long time set beside the century of struggle for Irish unity which Sinn Fein is currently celebrating in such a high profile manner.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/14 18:19:45 GMT


Ervine: 'IRA Must Address Claims'

The IRA must address directly claims that it carried out the £26.5 million raid on a Belfast bank, a prominent loyalist claimed today.

By:Press Association

As pressure mounted on the British Government to impose sanctions on Sinn Fein following the Northern Bank heist,Progressive Unionist leader David Ervine called on the Provisionals to issue a statement on the robbery in a bid to move the process forward.

The East Belfast Assembly member, whose party is linked to the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando, said: "Some people are saying the IRA has said they didn`t do this.

"That`s not true. The IRA hasn`t said anything. Only republican sources have spoken but that`s not the IRA.

"Given that there is a credibility problem over denials from IRA sources - look at the the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe or even Colombia - people are saying: this is major crisis, why isn`t P O`Neill (the IRA`s pen name) saying anything?

"What has P O`Neill to say about this?

"Certainly it would lay down a very interesting marker because I think P O`Neill, if they were responsible, could not afford to say they were not or that be a major, major credibility issue.

"It doesn`t clarify things to have an IRA source or a Sinn Fein figure saying we spoke to the IRA or even (former SDLP leader) John Hume saying he spoke to the republican leadership. It would be, I think, of some significance if the IRA spoke on this issue."

Talks to restore devolution in Northern Ireland have been plunged into crisis ever since Chief Constable Hugh Orde`s claim last Friday that his investigators believed the IRA carried out the record bank raid.

Conservative leader Michael Howard has signed an early day motion from the Reverend Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionists calling for all allowances and privileges to Sinn Fein`s four MPs to be withdrawn.

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell also launched a hard hitting attack on Sinn Fein, insisting there was no way open in any political progress for any party or politician who owed allegiance to the IRA.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble accused republicans of spurning every attempt to draw them fully into the democratic process and warned the British Government it was being ridiculed every time it gave Sinn Fein another chance.

Even Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy has admitted it is difficult to predict when power sharing might be restored and has hinted he will look at other proposals on how to move the process forward.

As Sinn Fein prepared to kick off its centenary celebrations in Dublin tonight, Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness repeated warnings to supporters to expect more attacks on the integrity of his party.

After he was unanimously backed to defend his Westminster seat at the next election, the former Stormont Education Minister said: "The last couple of weeks is only a sample of what our political opponents in both Britain and Ireland will throw at us between now and May.

"But we will go toe-to-toe with them and they will not defeat the republican peace strategy. Nor will they stop the march towards a united Ireland."

Mr Ervine today also called on the IRA to clarify what it meant in recent statements when it said it was preparing to move into a different mode during recent negotiations with the DUP.

"Maybe Gerry Adams should talk to P O`Neill to begin a process of clarification on that issue because that, in itself, could be significant for the atmosphere," the PUP leader said.

"None of us outside the Republican Movement knows what `a new mode` means."

Nationalist SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell today urged the British Government not to cave in to DUP demands for internal solutions or a Corporate Assembly which would see Stormont committees run government departments.

The South Belfast Assembly member said: "Nationalists need to be quite clear that the person who got most out of this robbery is Ian Paisley. The IRA has played straight into the hands of the DUP.

"The great danger is that the British Government might cave in to the DUP and go along with its anti-Agreement models for corporate government. Such failed internal solutions are the very opposite of the inclusive Good Friday Agreement and we know from bitter experience that the DUP would use them in an anti-democratic way.

"We will be telling the British government that any such move towards DUP models is just not on. We will be pressing the two governments to push ahead with implementation of the Agreement.

"The price of duplicity must not be paid by nationalists, who didn`t vote for armed robberies and don`t want them."

Senior Ulster Unionist Dermot Nesbitt claimed efforts to secure power sharing with Sinn Fein should be abandoned following the Northern Bank raid.

The South Down Assembly member argued: "The Republican Movement has run out of political road.

"In light of this latest republican outrage we must, as my party leader has said, go back to basics.

"Part of that process is for unionism collectively to ensure that the Government defends democratic politicians and ceases to give carte-blanche to republicans.

"I would caution the DUP about putting forward their corporate Assembly model as a basis for moving forward.

Unionists must draw a line in the sand and send a clear signal that power sharing with republicans is off the agenda."


Opin: Onlooker's Pompous Diatribe On Republicans

Friday 14th January 2005

Sir, I would like to respond to the substantial commentary on Sinn Fein and the recent allegations by Hugh Orde from your columnist, Onlooker in the Tuesday, January 11 edition of the 'Derry Journal'.

While your editorial in the same edition adopted a measured and reasonable tone to the allegations, Onlooker launched into a very revealing and pompous diatribe describing republicans amongst other things, as a 'rentamob' and people who had 'forgotten how to work for a living'.

It is quite clear when one analyses Onlooker's so called analysis that he or she has watched the growth of Sinn Fein across the island with dismay. In last year's elections to the European Parliament, Sinn Fein obtained 342,256 first preference votes in the five constituencies across the Island. Is this the 'mob' that Onlooker refers to? If 342,256 people have 'forgotten' how to work for a living, then I am afraid there is not much hope for this wee Island.

Of course, these voters are intelligent enough to read between the lines. They know who their local Sinn Fein candidates and representatives are. The 2,264 voters in Inishowen that gave me their support last June and elected me to Donegal County Council and Buncrana Town Council know who I am. They knew who Eddie Fullerton was too. They also know that for many years the establishment across this Island, both nationalist and unionist ably assisted by their colleagues in British intelligence agencies attempted to marginalise and demonise Irish republicans. That agenda is still alive and well. It must have horrified those proponents of Section 31 when Martin McGuiness, a man from the heart of working class republican Derry became the six county Minister for Education.

What really scares the comfortable establishment is Sinn Fein's grass roots politics. Our message of empowering disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities is anathema to those who populated the cosy cartels and quangos over the years. The old powerful elite and their friends in the media will desperately cling on to every attempt by British securocrats to destabilise the peace process and by consequence the growth of Sinn Fein.

Paradoxically, as an Irish republican, I take the recent onslaught on my party from the usual establishment sources as a compliment. It is clear evidence to me that my Sinn Fein colleagues and I are making them very uncomfortable. It is clear evidence to me that we have become a threat to their traditional hegemony. It inspires my fellow Irish republicans and I to get on with the job of change. So, Onlooker we are determined to cause you and your friends even more dismay by continuing to give forgotten communities from Inishowen to Kerry and from Dublin to Derry a voice at last.

Colr Padraig Mac Lochlainn


See video at:

NUJ Slams McDowell Comments About North Newspaper -V
2005-01-14 14:40:03+00

The National Union of Journalists has criticised Minister for Justice Michael McDowell for comparing a new daily newspaper in the North to Nazi propaganda.

In the midst of a vitriolic attack on Sinn Féin yesterday, Mr McDowell compared the Daily Ireland newspaper, due to begin publication in February, to a Nazi newssheet.

NUJ secretary Seamus Dooley said today that he was disturbed by the comments, which went beyond the limits of normal political discourse.

He said the Minister's remarks could put journalists' lives at risk in the North.

Mr McDowell also criticised what he called a small minority of journalists who pandered to the Provisional IRA agenda, but Mr Dooley said all journalists had a duty to report all the news and it was outrageous and unacceptable for the minister to link them to the IRA.


Martin McGuinness Comments On Being Reselected To Fight Westminster Election

Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness was reselected at his Party's selection Convention on Thursday Night. Following his unanimous endorsement Mr McGuinness thanked the delegates for once more choosing him to represent the constituency.

The Mid-Ulster MP said:

"I am honoured to be once more selected by the Sinn Féin membership of Mid-Ulster to go forward as their representative in the forthcoming Westminster election. Mid-Ulster has a long, proud and honourable republican tradition and since entering the electoral arena Sinn Féin has gone from strength to strength in this constituency. Always, when the republican ethos and strategy was under attack the people of Mid-Ulster responded with increased support for our analysis and gave us the encouragement to carry on.

"Well, I can assure you that the conduct of this election will see us come under a full frontal attack from all quarters. The last couple of weeks is only a sample of what our political opponents in both Britain and Ireland will throw at us between now and May. But we will go toe-to-toe with them and they will not defeat the republican Peace Strategy. Nor will they stop the march towards a United Ireland.

"Joe Pilling, the Chief British intelligence Officer at the NIO said in the United States recently that the worst-case scenario - from the British point of view - would be for Sinn Féin to become the largest party in the North. Well Joe, we are well on our way to giving you your worst nightmare. After the Westminster and Local government elections in May we will be one more step closer to that goal.

"I know that I can depend on the Sinn Féin activists and the electorate of this proud constituency to make a major contribution to that eventuality.

"I understand that many within the unionist community fear the implications of change but they are wrong to resist change, they should be a part of managing it to protect their interests in the process of change. Change is as inevitable as it is necessary, equality threatens no one, a United Ireland threatens no one except those that prosper on continued conflict and division. I will continue to work for the necessary change and to ensure that equality is delivered for all irrespective of political allegiance." ENDS


Derry Public Must Have Confidence In Bridge Inquiry

Friday 14th January 2005

Sinn Fein Assembly man Raymond McCartney has said that it is vital that the public have confidence in the investigation into Tuesday's accident on the Foyle Bridge.

He was speaking after it emerged that the firm carrying out the investigation on behalf of the Roads service, Hyder Consulting, are the same consultants involved in the bridge strengthening work at the Foyle Bridge.

Confirming this yesterday a spokesperson for the Roads service said: "Hyder Consulting is currently employed by Roads Service on the Foyle Bridge Strengthening Project.

"Hyder Consulting is a firm with nationally acknowledged expertise in Bridge Engineering and will be using their expertise, to enable a thorough investigation to be completed as quickly as possible on this incident."

The spokesperson continued: "A senior member of Hyder not connected with the strengthening works project will lead the investigation.

"Their report will be made available to both the PSNI and coroner who will be carrying out their own independent investigations.

"It should be pointed out that the work on the bridge strengthening project with which Hyder are involved is on the steel section of the bridge and not on the concrete viaduct where the accident occurred."

Last night Raymond McCartney said: "I am concerned that this investigation into Tuesday's accident is being carried out by the same consultants involved in the bridge strengthening work.

"I have contacted the DRD about this issue and asked them to make a statement clarifying the matter and they have said they will be doing that shortly.

"The Derry public are concerned about this accident and it is imperative that the inquiry into the incident is seen as independent and has public confidence."


Family Unharmed After Petrol Bomb Attack

By Heather Simpson

14 January 2005

A Protestant family escaped injury after a petrol bomb attack on their Maghera home caused scorch damage.

Police were called to the Beagh Terrace property shortly after 11.30pm yesterday and discovered that one device had ignited at the front of the house. A partly burnt-out second device was found behind the home.

The occupants of the property - a couple and their three children - were uninjured, a PSNI spokeswoman said.

The Rev William McCrea, Mid-Ulster DUP MLA, said the family had been the victims of abuse over the last few months.

He said: "The family have had their tyres slashed and received threatening phone calls."

"I would call on those responsible to stop, someone could have been killed," he added.

Mr McCrea urged the police to "actively engage" in catching those responsible.

Sinn Fein Cllr Sean Kerr reiterated his comments.

He said: "I utterly condemn the attack, there is no place for this type of behaviour in our society.

"Irrespective of religion these kind of attacks must stop immediately," he added.

Police have yet to establish if the motive was sectarian.

Detectives are keen to hear from anyone who witnessed anything suspicious. They can be contacted on 7963 3701.


Meat Jobs 'At Risk' In Ballymena

70 facing uncertain future.

By Michael Drake
14 January 2005

Over 70 jobs at a Ballymena meat plant are in jeopardy it was claimed today.

According to Ian Paisley Jnr the jobs could go at the plant owned by Dungannon Meats, which is reviewing the future of its workforce.

Last October Dungannon Meats, which employs almost 2000 people suffered a major blow when it lost its contract with Sainsbury's.

Today Mr Paisley expressed his concern about the future of the plant.

"I have spoken with officials and have been apprised of the situation concerning the future of the entire company given the loss of a Sainsbury's contract which amounted to 60% of its work," he said.

"The Ballymena plant was purchased by Dungannon Meats in order to service this contract and with its removal the future of the plant, which employs over 70 people, is now in jeopardy.

"The repercussions of the loss of the Sainsbury's contract are immense.

"Already over 300 jobs are to go in Dungannon and Ballymena could be next.

"Farmers have been used and abused and dropped when it suits the company's bottom line.

"Sainsbury's could rectify the situation by returning stability to their contract and allowing Dungannon meats to continue as a principle supplier."

Sinn Féin has offered to help Dungannon Meats develop new contracts in an attempt to stave off threatened job losses.

Today, party agriculture spokesperson Michelle Gildernew, said: "With the loss of Sainsbury's as a key contract, Dungannon Meats have found themselves in the position where they feel they are forced to consider redundancies.

"I would appeal to Dungannon Meats not to overreact and I am offering my services and those of key advisers to approach alternative supermarkets if Dungannon Meats believe our assistance would be of help."

Ulster Unionist agriculture spokesman Tom Elliott has called on Government to take a positive role in ensuring the future of Dungannon Meats.

"This is a critical situation and I would urge the Agriuclture Minister - Ian Pearson - to make every effort to safeguard the future of Dungannon Meats."

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Table of Contents - Jan 2005
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