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January 24, 2005

01/24/05 – Blair To Meet Adams On Thursday

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

01/24/05 – Blair To Meet Adams On Thursday
IO 01/24/05 Blair To Meet With Adams On Thursday
SF 01/24/05 Taoiseach Has To Explain His Accusations
BT 01/24/05 Showdown As Angry Ahern Goes Gunning For SF -A(2) V(2)
IT 01/24/05 Tanaiste Challenges SF To Say Criminality Is Over –V
PI 01/24/05 O'Dea Launches Attack On Sinn Féin
IO 01/24/05 Dodds Criticises PSNI Approach To Loyalist Violence –V
BB 01/24/05 Masked Men Cover Women With Tar In Shankill
SF 01/24/05 Gerry Kelly To Undertake A Series Of Engagements In US
UT 01/24/05 Former Govt Minister Ray Burke Jailed For Six Months
IT 01/24/05 New Yorker Arrested For Irish Killing (Eugene McMahon)
IT 01/24/05 Beached: Fish Fall Victim To Bad Weather Conditions
IO 01/24/05 More Irish-Speaking Language Therapists Agreed
NY 01/24/05 Rose Mary Woods, 87, Nixon Loyalist For Decades, Diez

RT 01/24/05 Gay Byrne Comments on Johnny Carson’s Death -AO

Legendary US chat show host Johnny Carson dies - Former Late Late Show host Gay Byrne discusses his admiration of Johnny Carson


Blair To Warn Adams Over IRA

24/01/2005 - 12:08:30

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will this week warn Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams that the Provisional IRA must cease all paramilitary and criminal activity, if republicans are to be included in Ulster devolution.

Mr Blair will hold talks with Mr Adams at Chequers on Thursday – sensitive to possible controversy over a symbolic meeting in No 10.

The British government has blamed the provisionals for the recent Northern Bank £26m (€38m) raid, despite the organisation’s denials.

Mr Blair is also to hold talks next Tuesday, February 1, with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the SDLP.

Two days later he will meet Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble. The British Prime Minister has also recently met Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley.

Mr Blair’s official spokesman said: “The message (to Mr Adams) is very simple. It is that there can be no deal with republicans unless all activity, paramilitary and criminal, stops. Period. That’s it.

“In terms of the way forward with the Taoiseach, he is going to have his own meeting with Sinn Féin. The two Prime Ministers will compare notes and also talk about the positions of the other parties as well.”

But the spokesman stressed: “We can only move forward with the republicans if there is a genuine end to their activities."


Taoiseach Has To Explain His Accusations

Published: 23 January, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP writing in the Village Magazine this weekend said "By far the most damaging aspect of all of this has been the remarks of the Taoiseach that the Sinn Fein leadership had prior knowledge of the Northern Bank robbery. His accusation is completely without foundation. It is wrong. When the Taoiseach sits down with us this week he will have to explain his comments."

Mr. Adams said:

"At the beginning of this phase the governments spoke to us of the need to establish whether the DUP wanted to do a deal; whether they wanted 'cover', 'a fig leaf' to facilitate their involvement. We put it to them and we received a commitment from them, that if it became clear the DUP wasn't up for a deal, if they didn't want 'cover' or a 'fig leaf', as the governments hoped they would, then the governments would proceed with all those aspects of the Agreement that they were capable of implementing.

"The detail of all of this cannot be revealed at this time but when it is people of goodwill will be in no doubt as to the good faith engagement by our leadership.

"I was already firmly of the view that the issue of IRA arms and alleged activities, by that organization, was being used as an excuse to prevent progress. So Martin McGuinness and I and others were up for creating the conditions in which these issues could be resolved. There was also a very clear need to get the DUP to accept the changed political landscape, which the Good Friday Agreement involves and there was the question of Sinn Fein reviewing our attitude to the PSNI, if a proper context was agreed.

"These were big challenges for us. We also had to make a sustained effort to keep both governments tied to the Good Friday Agreement given their past breaches of that Agreement.

"When the effort to get a comprehensive agreement failed Sinn Féin and the British government proceeded to explore how the governments could deliver on the commitment they made to us. This continued in the week leading up to Christmas. The Irish government was less than enthusiastic. No one should be in any doubt of the depth of the difficulties in the process at that time.

"It was in the course of this work that the Northern Bank was robbed. Then came the accusation, subsequently denied by the IRA, that it was involved. This triggered a relentless campaign of vilification against Sinn Fein.

"By far the most damaging aspect of this has been the remarks of the Taoiseach that the Sinn Fein leadership had prior knowledge of this robbery. In all my dealings with the Irish government before Bertie Ahern's time and during his terms as Taoiseach we have dealt with him in a forthright and honest way. His accusation is completely without foundation. It is wrong.

Of course there are differences between us and the Irish government. These started to show in recent times but the government's attitude to Sinn Fein began to change almost two years ago when our party first began to make significant electoral gains. There was a palpable resentment that there was goodwill towards Sinn Fein particularly at a time when the revelations of corruption were affecting the standing of the establishment parties.

"Thus far I have refused to characterise the Taoiseach's remarks. But he has accused Martin McGuinness and I of being involved in a bank robbery. We find that highly offensive. Also the logic of his remark is that the effort we made before Christmas was not serious.

"This entire process is bigger than party politics. It is bigger than Gerry Adams or Bertie Ahern. It can only be brought to a successful conclusion through dialogue, inclusivity and dealing with people on the basis of equality. When the Taoiseach sits down with us this week he will have to explain his comments."ENDS


Morning Ireland: Stephen Collins, Political Correspondent with The Sunday Tribune, assesses the political landscape in the wake of last month's Northern Bank robbery which has been blamed on the IRA

Morning Ireland: Listen to a clip from RTÉ's 'Week In Politics', in which Fianna Fáil's Seamus Brennan discusses the seriousness of the political situation regarding Sinn Féin

9 News: Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, previews talks taking place in Dublin on Tuesday

9 News: Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald slams Government's stance over the Northern bank raid

Showdown As Angry Ahern Goes Gunning For Sinn Fein -A(2) V(2)

By Gene McKenna
24 January 2005

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is heading for a showdown with Sinn Fein tomorrow. He will tell its leaders that, much as he wants to get the peace process back on track, there can be no progress unless they abandon their criminal ways.

The party said yesterday that its president Gerry Adams and chief negotiator Martin McGuinness would be seeking "explanations" from the Taoiseach of his assertions that its leadership had advance knowledge of the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery.

But the Government is having none of it. Four of Mr Ahern's ministers made separate public appearances to insist: "The questions will be coming from our side."

Ms Harney, together with Michael McDowell, Willie O'Dea and Seamus Brennan, indicated the Taoiseach will be pursuing a tough line and demanding answers.

The Tanaiste took the strongest stance. She said she believed the plot to rob the bank was known in advance to Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness. "I don't think anything happens in that organisation that they aren't well aware of," she said bluntly.

And she further infuriated the party by saying that its Kerry North TD Martin Ferris "may well be a member of the IRA Army council".

He immediately denied the charge and said he was not a member of the IRA.

Mr Ahern will also have separate talks tomorrow with the SDLP and Ulster Unionist Party in a first move to try to re-build trust and to get talks re-started on restoring a power-sharing government at Stormont. He will meet the Alliance Party in Dublin on Thursday.

He is expected to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair within the next week or so to plan a joint strategy.

He is also to meet with the International Monitoring Commission (IMC), at their request, "in the near future". The IMC is responsible for monitoring the activities of paramilitary groups.

The Tanaiste, in particularly trenchant comments on RTE's This Week programme, repeated her view that Sinn Fein and the IRA are the same organisation and that "many of the key personnel are the same".

They were treating the Irish public as fools, she said, adding that the statement released by the IRA denying involvement in the Belfast robbery could not be accepted.

Ms Harney also expressed concern that before Christmas the IRA would not state its commitment to upholding rather than endangering personal rights and safety. "It is about time now they made it clear that paramilitarism in all its forms and criminality is not acceptable and not compatible with democratic politics," she said.

Defending the outspoken views of Justice Minister Michael McDowell on Sinn Fein and the IRA, she said : "The Justice Minister has a duty to put pressure on those that are supportive of criminality."

Responding to Ms Harney's comments, Mr Ferris said :"I am not a member of the army council of the IRA. I am not a member of the IRA. I have said this before. They don't listen." He added: "Mary (Harney) and Michael (McDowell) are saying some crazy things lately."


9 News: Vivienne Traynor reports on the day's developments and comments made by Tániste Mary Harney

Tanaiste Challenges SF To Say All Forms Of Criminality Over -V

Arthur Beesley and Mark Hennessy

Sinn Féin must make it clear that the Provisional IRA has ended all forms of criminality, violence and paramilitarism before the political process in the North can move forward, the Tánaiste, Ms Harney, has insisted.

Ms Harney set the tone for the Government's meeting with Sinn Féin tomorrow, the first since the IRA was blamed for the Northern Bank robbery, by saying she was losing patience with the party's ambivalence about IRA activities.

In addition it emerged last night that the International Monitoring Commission, which reports on paramilitary activities, has sought a special meeting with the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern. The commission is expected to focus on the Belfast bank raid. A Government statement said the meeting will take place "in the near future". Ms Harney said that Sinn Féin had serious questions to answer, she said the time had come for the party to make it clear that paramilitary activities and criminality were not acceptable and not compatible with democratic politics.

Ms Harney also suggested that Kerry North Sinn Féin TD Mr Martin Ferris was a member of the IRA army council, a claim Mr Ferris denied. "I am not a member of the IRA. I'm not a member of the army council," he said.

As the Taoiseach prepares for meetings in Government Buildings tomorrow with Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the UUP, Ms Harney also said she did not accept claims by Mr Gerry Adams and Mr Martin McGuinness that they did not know the robbery was being planned.

"Very little happens without their knowledge. Very little happens without their approval, of that I have no doubt. And I think they are treating us as fools if they think that we are going to accept their word in relation to this matter. We're not."

Ms Harney also questioned why Sinn Féin, including Dublin MEP Ms Mary-Lou McDonald, refused to describe the murder of Ms Jean McConville as a crime. "They have to make it clear that criminality is over. They have to make it clear that murdering a mother of 10 is a murder, is a crime."

The Tánaiste's remarks on RTÉ Radio were dismissed by a Sinn Féin spokesman, who claimed she was "playing party politics" with the peace process.

© The Irish Times


O'Dea Launches Attack On Sinn Féin

Monday, January 24

With just one word “yes”, Mitchel McLaughlin coldly confirmed Sinn Féin is a political wing totally subservient to an Army Council that it regards as the legitimate Government." according to Willie O'Dea, Minister for Defence.

"Mitchel and his colleagues believe that any volunteer carrying out any authorised action on behalf of the IRA doesn't commit a crime because they believe the IRA is the legitimate Government of this country.”

"Sinn Féin is practicing a perverted version of Richard Nixon’s executive privilege defence on Watergate: 'When the President does it, that means that it's not illegal.' For Adams et al. nothing the IRA does can be illegal, because they are above law. Not a very republican principle. Certainly not one that Tone, Pearse or Connolly would recognise."

Documents found in possession of the provisional movement have shown both the nature of the relationship between Sinn Féin and the IRA and its core belief. IRA members are required to subscribe to the following: The IRA is the lawful government of the Irish Republic…..

Crime is the business of the IRA. It is estimated that in the North alone they net £12 million sterling per annum from fuel laundering, cigarette smuggling and other activities.

The sharp drop in the Gerry Adam’s approval ratings and massive increase in his disapproval ratings is indicative of the depth of public revulsion at his Party’s claim that the murder of Jean McConville was not a criminal act.

"Friday’s opinion poll results show that the public don’t buy the hollow denials of Pinocchio Adams. It is up to Sinn Féin to disavow the contemptible comments of McLaughlin, Arthur Morgan and others."

"It is up to Sinn Féin to say who is sovereign: the Irish people or the IRA Army Council, " concluded Minister Willie O’Dea TD.


Attacks on taxis in Belfast - Michael Fisher reports from Belfast on the attacks and the closing of Andersonstown Police Station

 Democratic Unionist Party MP Nigel Dodds
Democratic Unionist Party MP Nigel Dodds Marching

Dodds Criticises PSNI Approach To Loyalist Violence -V

24/01/2005 - 11:12:52

Democratic Unionist Party MP Nigel Dodds has criticised the PSNI approach to escalating loyalist tensions in north and west Belfast.

Over the weekend, loyalist mobs attacked five taxi drivers and set their vehicles on fire before torching another three taxis outside the homes of their owners.

A Protestant clergywoman was also threatened over the weekend for counselling the family of a man shot dead during a loyalist feud, while three men were arrested after shots were fired near a leisure centre.

Last night, two women also had tar poured over them by a group of men who ordered them to leave Belfast within 12 hours.

Mr Dodds has called on the police to take more action to crack down on those responsible, saying the PSNI was currently adopting a "softly softly" approach to loyalist violence.


Masked Men Cover Women With Tar

Two women have been attacked and covered in tar after masked men broke into their west Belfast home.

Three hooded men smashed the front windows at a house in Hopewell Crescent in the Shankill area at about 1850 GMT on Sunday.

They threw a jar of a tar-like substance over the two women. They then entered the house and threatened them.

Police said that the attackers then fled in the direction of the Shankill estate.

Three children were upstairs at the time of the attack. They were unhurt.

One of the women said it was a terrifying ordeal.

"I was sitting with my aunt," she said.

"I heard the smash of glass and I shouted: 'Get down'. I thought they were shooting in my windows.

"The next thing, three or four fellas came in. They had hoods over their heads. They threw paint into my face. They started smashing about and throwing paint everywhere."

The woman said that before they left, the men shouted that she had 12 hours to get out of her house.

Police have not established a motive for the attack.

They are appealing for witnesses to contact them at 028 9065 0222 or Crimestoppers at 0800 555111.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/24 07:08:23 GMT


Gerry Kelly
Gerry Kelly

Gerry Kelly To Undertake A Series Of Engagements In The United States

Published: 23 January, 2005

Senior Sinn Féin Negotiator Gerry Kelly will today travel to the United States for a week long series of meetings. Mr. Kelly will meet with members of Congress, representatives of the State Department and engage with Irish America.

Speaking today before his departure Mr Kelly said:

"This week provides an opportunity to explore with members of Congress, the State Department and Irish America how we can overcome the current obstacles to progress and get the peace process back on track and build upon the good work done late last year in trying to agree a comprehensive deal. In the past these various US constituencies have provided invaluable support in advancing the peace process and supporting the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

"However in recent months senior British securocrats including the Chief NIO spymaster Joe Piling have also been in the United States stating very clearly that the objective of the securocrats in the time ahead is not to advance the peace process but to prevent the electoral growth of Sinn Féin. The British Secretary of State Paul Murphy has also travelled to the US to express similar sentiments.

"In addition to the positive engagement which will take place this week this trip will in part help to contradict their lies and half truths and expose further the securocat agenda which is to undermine the process and discriminate against Sinn Féin and our electorate." ENDS


 Ray Burke
Ray Burke - Admitted breaking exchange control laws in the 1970s

Burke Jailed For Six Months

Former Irish government minister Ray Burke was today jailed for six months for two tax-dodging offences.

Burke, former foreign affairs and justice minister, was jailed at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after he lodged false tax returns failing to declare income of almost €200,000.

Judge Desmond Hogan told the packed court that a custodial sentence was the only option as the former minister had breached the public`s trust.

Burke, 61, from Griffith Downs, Drumcondra, North Dublin, admitted in July, 2004, knowingly or wilfully furnishing incorrect information during a tax amnesty of 1993 by failing to declare income of 151,980 Irish pounds.

He also pleaded guilty to knowingly or wilfully furnishing incorrect information to the Inspector of Taxes in December, 2003, by failing to declare income of 24,038 Irish pounds.

Judge Hogan said that Burke had abused his special position as a member of the Irish Parliament when he committed the offences.

"Under all the circumstances a custodial sentence is appropriate. However, I do not believe it should be a long one having regard to the mitigating factors," the judge said.

He imposed two six-month jail terms on the former minister for each offence and he ordered the terms to run concurrently.

In November, 2003, Burke was served by the Criminal Assets Bureau with a tax demand of over €2 million for income it claimed he received but did not declare to the revenue commissioners.

CAB has been investigating the former minister since September, 2002, shortly after a report from the planning tribunal found he had received corrupt payments of almost €250,000 euro.

The acquisition of his home in North Dublin was also found to be corrupt.

Burke, known as Rambo for his gung-ho political style, was visibly shaking as Judge Hogan prepared to read his report.

Dressed in a dark suit and brightly coloured tie he edged to the front of the packed courtroom.


New Yorker Arrested For Irish Killing

A convicted felon has been arrested for the killing of a Co Monaghan man in New York three years ago, writes SeáO'Driscoll in New York.

Mr Eugene McMahon (46), from Gola Mill, Scotstown, Co Monaghan, died from a gun wound to the head after he tried to defend himself during a robbery. Mr McMahon, a New York department of environmental protection inspector, was working on August 9th, 2002, in Long Island, when his car was attacked.

The shooting became a major media story, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Mr McMahon in hospital before he died.

Police say a man from Queens, New York, admitted the killing. It took place a month after he was released from prison. He is currently serving five years for shooting his gun in the air.

© The Irish Times


Beached Fish
Scores of conger eels, ling and other species of fish were washed ashore at Stradbally Beach on the Dingle Penninsula in Kerry after drowning in the violent storms at the weekend. Photograph : Don MacMonagle

Beached: Fish Fall Victim To Bad Weather Conditions

Anne Lucey

Many fish, including large conger eels, have drowned in a sheltered bay in Kerry, and are being found washed up on beaches.

The species found on the shores of Brandon Bay included wrasse, several hundred large conger eels and ling.

Mr Kevin Flannery, of the Department of the Marine in Kerry, said people had assumed a toxin or pollution was the cause.

However, it emerged that the fish had drowned. Recent north-westerly gales had whipped up the water surrounding the basin of Brandon Bay. The fish could not escape and even the hardiest drowned.

"Sand and silt fouled up their gills and choked them - the fish drowned in other words," Mr Flannery said. He added that he had only come across the phenomenon once before.

"It goes to show the extreme bad weather we have had," Mr Flannery said. He also appealed to the public to look out for turtles which he expected to appear with prevailing southerly winds.

© The Irish Times



More Irish-Speaking Language Therapists Agreed

24/01/2005 - 08:07:55

Children in Gaeltacht areas will no longer be deprived of native-speaking speech language therapists, it was claimed today.

The Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon O’Cuiv, said he had approved the hiring of three Irish-speaking language therapists to address the shortage.

“Parents in the Gaeltacht who were rearing their children through Irish have often said that they had to change to English in the case of children with language difficulties, as there were no support services available to help those children through the medium of Irish,” he said.

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is sharing the €174,000 cost with the Health Services Executive (HSE). However, the HSE will provide all the funding for the service from next year onwards.

In 2002, the Gaeltacht Commission recommended the provision of dedicated speech language therapists for the Gaeltacht.

It also found that of 154 district electoral divisions in the Gaeltacht, only 18 of more than 75% of their inhabitants speaking Irish daily.

Mr O’Cuiv said the new teiripeoiri urlabhra (speech therapists) would help to preserve and perpetuate the Irish language as a community and family language in the Gaeltacht.

He added that another €37,500 would be spent to translate into Irish the Mini Mental State Examination, which is used to diagnose people with Alzheimer’s disease.


Rose Mary Woods
Rose Mary Woods

Rose Mary Woods, 87, Nixon Loyalist For Decades, Dies

By Philip Shenon
Published: January 24, 2005

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - Rose Mary Woods, the devoted secretary to President Richard M. Nixon who was at the center of one of the great mysteries of Watergate after 18½ minutes of a crucial White House tape were erased, died Saturday near her hometown in northeastern Ohio. She was 87.

A spokesman for a local funeral home said Ms. Woods died at a nursing home in Alliance, Ohio.

Ms. Woods, who worked for Mr. Nixon for decades and joined him in exile in California after his 1974 resignation as president, took part of the blame for the missing portion of a taped conversation between President Nixon and the White House chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, on June 20, 1972, three days after the break-in at Democratic headquarters in Washington.

In one of the most memorable photographs of the era, Ms. Woods is shown trying to re-create the chain of events in which, she said, she could have accidentally erased part of the tape as she was transcribing it on Mr. Nixon's orders in 1973, after the scandal broke. The photograph shows Ms. Woods at a desk, reaching far back over her left shoulder for a telephone as her foot hits a pedal controlling the transcription machine.

"I am most dreadfully sorry," she said in court testimony in November 1973 in explaining that through some "terrible mistake," she had pressed the wrong button on the pedal and recorded over the tape. She said that she had immediately notified Mr. Nixon of the erasure and that he had assured her that "there's no problem because that's not one of the subpoenaed tapes."

Still, Ms. Woods testified that her error might explain only about five minutes of the gap, not the full 18½ minutes. In 2003, the National Archives said a panel of audio specialists had analyzed the tape and been unable to recapture the lost conversation.

News that so much of the tape had been deleted eroded Mr. Nixon's credibility on Capitol Hill and with the Watergate special prosecutor's office at a time when his presidency was beginning to unravel. The gap consisted of a buzzing sound that obliterated part of a conversation in which Mr. Nixon was instructing Mr. Haldeman to take "public relations" moves to divert attention from the break-in at the Watergate office complex.

Ms. Woods was often described in news accounts during the Nixon presidency as the most doggedly loyal and tight-lipped of the president's inner circle. She dated her association with Mr. Nixon to 1947, when she was a secretary on a select House foreign affairs committee and became impressed by the neatness and accuracy of expense statements submitted to the panel by Mr. Nixon, then a House freshman from California.

After Mr. Nixon was elected to the Senate, Ms. Woods joined his staff, remaining with him after his election as vice president, through his later failed bids for the presidency against John F. Kennedy and for governor of California, and in his New York law practice in the 1960's. She returned to Washington and the White House after Mr. Nixon's election as president in 1968.

Mr. Nixon described Ms. Woods as being as close "as family" and said in his memoirs that he asked her in August 1974 to tell his wife, Pat, and his two daughters that he had decided to resign. "My decision was irrevocable, and I asked her to suggest that we not talk about it anymore when I went over for dinner," Mr. Nixon wrote.

One of five children in a tightly knit Irish Catholic home, Ms. Woods was brought up in Sebring, a small town in northeastern Ohio. At 17, she went to work at her father's pottery company.

She was engaged at the time to a man who died before their wedding. She never married, later telling reporters that she was pleased to dedicate herself to a career alongside Mr. Nixon that had provided her with a "stimulating and interesting life."

Roger Ruzek, the funeral director in Sebring who confirmed news of Ms. Woods's death, said she was survived by two sisters. Mr. Ruzek said he had no other information on her family.

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Table of Contents - Jan 2005
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