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February 01, 2005

02/01/05 – Adams Not Convinced That Govnt Is Opposed To Sanctions

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

SF 02/01/05 Adams Not Convinced By Irish Govt Opposed To Sanctions
BT 02/01/05 Ahern Keeps Door Open For SF Despite Exclusion Calls
BT 02/01/05 Taoiseach Rejects Report That IRA Set For Return To War
BB 02/01/05 PMs To Discuss Northern Bank Raid
SM 02/01/05 Ahern Urged To Reinstate Peace Forum
BT 02/01/05 Leading Loyalist Found Guilty Of Careless Driving
IO 02/01/05 Fitzgerald ‘Unaware Of Collusion In Republic Bombings’
BT 02/01/05 Sir John To Tell More Of Inquiry Into Stakeknife
DJ 02/01/05 Murderers & Their Victims Not Equals- Campbell
DJ 02/01/05 Real IRA Tells 'Journal' 'We Didn't Fire Bomb Safeway'
UT 02/01/05 Baby Dies In Cork Fire
BB 02/01/05 First Edition Of Paper Hits Shops
IC 02/01/05 McAleese Didn’t Set Out To Hurt Anybody- Fr Aidan Troy
IC 02/01/05 We Say: The President’s Words


Adams Not Convinced By Irish Government Opposition To Sanctions

Published: 1 February, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said that he is not convinced by the Irish government's protestations that it is opposed to sanctions against Sinn Féin.

Mr Adams said:

"The British government is currently imposing sanctions against Sinn Féin. Is the Taoiseach demanding that this discrimination be ended? Not to my knowledge. The Irish government joined with the British government to form the so called Independent Monitoring Commission and agreed to the British Secretary of State be given powers outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

" I am unconvinced therefore about protestations of opposition to sanctions. Nationalists and republicans are understandably and increasingly sceptical of the attitude of the two governments.

" Sinn Féin's commitment is to make this process work. But as the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister know we cannot do this on our own." ENDS


Ahern Keeps Door Open For SF Despite Exclusion Calls

By Gene McKenna
01 February 2005

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has again come out against excluding Sinn Fein from the peace process in the wake of the controversy over criminality and the Northern Bank robbery.

But the party could face sanctions as a result of what is likely to be a damaging report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) which will make a special report next week.

It is likely to come out with the view that republicans carried out the €38m robbery - the biggest ever in history - which has caused a major rift between Sinn Fein and the Irish and British governments.

Despite his increasingly tough line with Sinn Fein and the IRA, Mr Ahern feels that to leave republicans out in the cold would be counter-productive.

His comments came as the DUP said it would exclude Sinn Fein anyway as it would not deal with them and called on the two governments to "freeze them out".

Mr Ahern will make his opposition to this course of action clear today when he meets British Prime Minister Tony Blair for talks at 10 Downing Street.

Mr Ahern said their intention was to work out a programme of activity for 2005 as they try to re-build trust to the level it had reached before the talks breakdown on December 8 and the subsequent deterioration in relations caused by the bank robbery.

Speaking after a meeting with three IMC members at Government Buildings, Mr Ahern said he was against "the politics of exclusion".

"There are serious issues to which we have to find a resolution and I will work positively to try to do so," he said.

He said they still needed answers to the questions they had posed to Sinn Fein leaders last week.

The IMC document will be given to the Government early next week. It is likely to be considered at next Tuesday's Cabinet meeting before being published.

It was the first meeting between Mr Ahern and the IMC since the December robbery in Belfast which the PSNI has blamed on the IRA - albeit offering no evidence so far to substantiate its assertion.

The IMC was set up a year ago, much to the annoyance of nationalists who say that its formation was outside of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and largely at the behest of UUP leader David Trimble.

It comprises representatives of the Irish, British and US governments and its task is to monitor paramilitary activity in the North.

IMC commissioners John Alderdice, John Grieve and Joe Brosnan declined to comment on their discussions following yesterday's meeting.

Meanwhile, DUP Assembly member Peter Weir, reiterating the party's hardline stance, said: "It is becoming more and more apparent that Sinn Fein/IRA, like the proverbial leopard, cannot change their spots.

"Thankfully for the unionist electorate, we will not be fooled by the weasel words or the hollow platitudes about peace and democracy, like others have in the past.

"It is action that is needed, not words," said Mr Weir.

"Given the stubborn and selfish refusal of the Republican Movement to divvy up over the issue of decommissioning and to cease their criminal and paramilitary activity, people are entitled to ask: why are these republicans being allowed to hold up political progress?," he said.

Mr Weir said republicans had clearly refused to buy into calls from Mr Blair for an end to all criminality and violence.

Therefore, he argued, Sinn Fein needed to be frozen out of the political process until such times as they could divorce themselves completely from the IRA.

"The decommissioning of all terrorist weaponry and the ending of all criminal empires will evidence this commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means," he said.

"Unionists stand ready to share power and work together with others, but there can be no place for those who murder, maim and rob banks.

"To countenance the continued presence of Sinn Fein in such circumstances is an insult to the law-abiding people of Northern Ireland," he added.


Taoiseach Rejects Report That IRA Set For Return To War

By Senan Molony
01 February 2005

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday denied that he has been briefed that the Provisional IRA is preparing for a return to war.

Mr Ahern scotched the story yesterday after a meeting with the International Monitoring Commission in Dublin.

A Sunday newspaper said the Taoiseach had been given reports by both the Garda Siochana and the Army that the IRA was planning a limited return to conflict.

Mr Ahern declared: "I have no such information. Obviously, I get security briefings, but I have no such information as suggested in those reports. What we have to try to do is find a solution to the serious matters that have been raised in the recent past."

The contradiction by the Taoiseach came after it was claimed that a new IRA recruiting campaign was under way on both sides of the border.

A further allegation was that details of IRA spying exercises were contained in the dossier given to Mr Ahern.

Mr Ahern broke his usual rule of not commenting on the contents of security reports to make clear that there was no intelligence to suggest a resumption of hostilities on even a low-level basis.

The newspaper said two Sinn Fein leaders and "other members of the IRA's Army Council" had already approved the IRA's effective return to shooting and bombing.

It claimed a limited resumption by the IRA had been precipitated by the threat of a split from the Republican movement by militants if they did not get their way.


PMs To Discuss Northern Bank Raid

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern will meet at Downing Street on Tuesday to assess their political options in the wake of the £26.5m Northern Bank raid.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde and Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy will update them on their new security assessments.

This will include the state of the investigation into the Belfast robbery, which has been blamed on the IRA.

The Independent Monitoring Commission's report on the robbery is expected to be sent to the governments this week.

The ceasefire watchdog's report is expected to confirm the police assessment that the IRA was behind the raid, and to recommend certain sanctions.

The two prime ministers' meeting is seen as their most significant since they launched their joint proposals for the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland in December.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan will also hold talks with Mr Blair on Tuesday, while the DUP has met Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy.

The two governments will consider their strategy for the coming year.

It is understood they believe an all-inclusive executive is impossible without a complete end to IRA activity.

Mr Orde - who blamed the raid in December on the IRA - and Mr Conroy will update both governments on the investigation.

Garda intelligence

The four Independent Monitoring Commissioners have held recent meetings with the chief constable and the garda commissioner, as well as extensive high-level meetings with British and Irish Government officials.

There has been speculation that their report will be published next week.

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said some form of sanctions appeared likely in the short term.

He added: "But so far as the bigger picture is concerned, most observers would be sceptical about the chances of any real movement this side of the next general election."

Last week, the taoiseach held his first face-to-face meeting with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams since the chief constable's assessment.

Speaking after those talks, Mr Ahern said he believed garda intelligence which suggested the IRA was responsible for the raid.

Mr Blair said he accepted the chief constable's view that the IRA was behind the raid.

Mr Blair also met Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at Chequers where he reiterated his demand that all IRA paramilitary and criminal activity must end if Sinn Fein were to be part of an inclusive political process.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/01 12:55:27 GMT


Ahern Urged To Reinstate Peace Forum

By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern today faced fresh demands to recall the Dublin-based Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in a desperate bid to find a way out of the current problems in the peace process.

As the Taoiseach prepared to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair in Downing Street on the political fallout from the £26.5 million Northern Bank raid, he was told the forum, which has not met for two years, could send out a very strong message to all paramilitary-linked parties that criminality must end and decommissioning must be completed.

North Antrim SDLP Assembly member Sean Farren argued: “Speaking on behalf of the majority of democratic opinion in Ireland, the Forum, by its very nature, would be a very powerful statement to all paramilitaries that links with political parties can no longer be tolerated while decommissioning is delayed and criminality engaged in.

“Several of the parties in the South (of Ireland) are already keen to have the Forum recalled in order to clearly demonstrate that position and to examine amongst themselves and with others how best to progress the search for a way forward.”

The Forum was initially established by former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds in 1994 in the wake of the IRA ceasefire to encourage political progress.

Former South African President F W de Klerk and US Senator and Stormont talks chairman George Mitchell were among those who addressed the body, which involved parties from both sides of the Irish border.

The Forum was reconvened under the chairmanship of Senator Maurice Hayes in November 2002 following the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

A number of people testified, including Ulster Unionist and former Irish rugby international Trevor Ringland, Holy Cross School governor Father Aiden Troy, senior Presbyterian Church minister the Reverend Sam Hutchinson and Portadown Orangeman Ian Milne.

Among those who participated in the Forum from the Irish Republic were Mr Ahern’s Fianna Fail party, Fine Gael, Labour, the Progressive Democrats, the Greens, the Socialist Party, the Workers Party and a group of independents from the Orieachtas.

The nationalist SDLP, the cross-community Alliance Party and cross-community Women’s Coalition from Northern Ireland also took part.

Sinn Fein was the only party on the Forum which had elected representatives on both sides of the Irish border.

With December’s Northern Bank raid shattering hopes that power-sharing between unionists and nationalists could return to Northern Ireland this year, Mr Farren insisted the Forum had made a valuable contribution to the peace process when it met in the years leading up to the Good Friday Agreement.

“The failure to restore the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement affects not just the Assembly but has wider implications for the whole island,” the former Stormont Finance Minister argued.

“The North-South Ministerial Council does not meet while other planned initiatives such as the all-Ireland Charter of Human Rights cannot be progressed.

“So, bringing parties together from both North and South and hearing the views of a wide range of groups and individuals, the Forum would play a very important role in helping to find a way out of the present crisis.”


Leading Loyalist Found Guilty Of Careless Driving

By Maureen Coleman
01 February 2005

East Belfast loyalist Jim Gray has been fined £150 for careless driving.

Gray (46), from Cherryvalley, had denied that the car he was driving struck a police officer on the hand as he directed traffic on the Newtownards Road.

But a guilty verdict was delivered yesterday by an RM.

The police officer, who has since left the force, told the court that the incident occurred in the evening of October 25, 2003.

The former policeman said he was at the scene of a collision between two cars at the Newtownards Road/Bloomfield Road junction when Gray's red BMW approached.

He said he signalled for the car to stop, but its speed did not fluctuate and Gray did not obey his signal.

He also claimed that he stepped out of the way to avoid a collision with the car, but that the driver's wing mirror struck him on the right hand.

The car then continued on, where it stopped at traffic lights at the junction with the Albertbridge Road.

The incident was reported to a second police officer at the scene and the duty controller.

The officer later went to the Ulster Hospital, to be treated for bruising to the hand.

Gray's defence counsel said that if there had been any impact, it was a "simple accident without the other party being aware".

He said that if there had been such an impact, Gray would have heard it and would have stopped.

A second police officer told the court that he saw his colleague being struck. He said he recognised the driver of the car as Gray.

However, under cross-examination he admitted that he had made no mention of Gray in an earlier statement.

Gray had difficulty speaking due to a mouth injury he suffered when he was shot by the LVF in 2002.

The leading loyalist told the court that he was returning from a Chinese restaurant on the Holywood Road when the incident took place.

He denied that a police officer attempted to stop his car.

He said he did not see any police officers as he was concentrating on the traffic in front.

Defence counsel said that the case was a border-line situation as far as careless driving was concerned and that if there was impact, it had not been noticed.

However Resident Magistrate Ken Nixon found Gray guilty, fining him £150 and giving him three penalty points.


Fitzgerald ‘Unaware Of Collusion In Republic Bombings’

01/02/2005 - 12:01:09

Former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald has told an Oireachtas committee that he does not know whether the British army helped loyalist paramilitaries carry out bomb attacks in the Republic.

Mr Fitzgerald said the possibility of such collusion could not be excluded, but there was no concrete evidence to suggest that it took place.

The former Taoiseach was speaking before the Oireachtas committee set up to look into a series of loyalist bomb attacks in the Republic in the 1970s.

The committee is currently examining a report from the Barron Inquiry dealing with two bomb attacks in Dublin in 1972 and 1973.

There have long been claims that the British army helped the loyalists who planted the devices, though no evidence has been uncovered to support these suspicions.


Sir John To Tell More Of Inquiry Into Stakeknife

By Chris Thornton
01 February 2005

Retired Met chief Sir John Stevens turned back to his Ulster collusion investigation today - revealing that he is close to announcing new details of his Stakeknife probe.

Sir John, who was elevated to the House of Lords yesterday as he spent his last day as Metropolitan Police Commissioner, told the Belfast Telegraph he is preparing to disclose which murders are being linked to the Army agent at the heart of the IRA.

Retirement from the Met after five years as Britain's most senior police officer means Sir John can devote more time to the collusion investigation and his inquiry into Princess Diana's death. He is also preparing material for the forthcoming inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, the investigation that led him to Stakeknife.

"I am spending more time on it," he said. "Essentially I had kept a watching brief because the Met has been the main job, to say the least. Now I can get more involved in the direction of the inquiry."

The agent known as Stakeknife is alleged to have carried out murders in order to maintain his cover as a senior IRA member. A Belfast republican, Freddie Scappaticci, has denied being the Army agent.

Sir John first began investigating links between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in 1989. He conducted a further probe in the early 1990s that led to the conviction of Army spy Brian Nelson.

He was called back in 1999 to launch Stevens 3, the inquiry re-investigating the Finucane murder. Last year they secured the conviction of Ken Barrett, one of two UDA gunmen who murdered the solicitor in 1989.

He said he will be bringing the squads investigating Stakeknife and the death of Diana "together under one roof" in the Greater London area.

The 62-year-old policeman said the direction of the Stakeknife inquiry will be clear in a few weeks.

"Right now we're assessing where we are with the allegations concerning Stakeknife, specifically what we will continue with and what might be handed back to the PSNI," he said.

"In the next month or two we will be looking at which murders we will be investigating and his activities. We will have a good look at the allegations we will investigate and which ones we can ask the PSNI to carry on with.

"I'm loathe to put a time frame on an investigation of this kind because, when I first came to Northern Ireland 16 years ago, I thought I'd be there six weeks," he said.

Sir John said he is also preparing to hand over a lot of material evidence to the Finucane inquiry.

As well as continuing to conduct the high profile investigations, he will sit in the Lords as a crossbencher.

He said he was "grateful to the Queen and Prime Minister for conferring this great honour on me.

"While I am the recipient," he said, "I believe this reflects on the support of my family, friends and all those in the Met police and other forces with whom I had the pleasure of working over the last 43 years."


Murderers And Their Victims Not Equals- Campbell Tells Remembrance Debate

Tuesday 1st February 2005

Unionists never support remembrance events that equate murderers with their victims, the DUP's Gregory Campbell has said.

Speaking at an event to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the East Derry MP insisted moves were ongoing to "try to eradicate the distinction between those who plan to take innocent life and those who suffer as a result of those plans being carried out."

He told the Pilots Row event, which included a debate on the issue of remembrance, that this was a complete nonstarter for unionists.

He told the debate - which also heard contributions from Derry Mayor Gerry O'hEara and Maureen Hetherington, co-ordinator of cultural diversity projects at The Junction - that people are perfectly entitled to remember and organise remembrance events for relatives or friends killed during the past 35 years. "This is the case whether they were innocent victims or guilty perpetrators," he said. "However, let me be as clear as I possibly can so that there is no room for doubt, misinterpretation or ambiguity - neither I nor the community I represent will give support to any remembrance mechanism whereby the murderers are treated the same as the murdered."

The East Derry MP said that Remembrance Day events across both Ireland and Britain were solemn, dignified and deeply moving event for all those who attend.

"For example, there is no attempt to equate the SS with the Allies during the Second World War . But neither is there any distinction among the innocent. All the innocent dead should be remembered.

"In the more recent murder campaign of the last 35 years carried out by the IRA and other terrorist groups, each innocent victim, whatever their background, religion, or political outlook, if they were innocent they can and should be remembered.

"To attempt to say, as some do, that those who were engaged in murder or attempted murder and then were killed themselves can be remembered in the same ceremony, in the same way, is preposterous.

"For example, if the Mayor of New York was to organise a memorial day for the victims of September 11 and was to say that the day would include reference to, and acknowledgement of, the Al Queada personnel who flew the aircraft into the World Trade Centre as well as those innocents who died, he would quite rightly be regarded as a parasite and the event as grotesque and obscene."

The DUP politician said he didn't know how, for example, the Royal British Legion would respond to offers from people to help expand the type of ceremony that is held each year for innocent victims on Remembrance Day.

"However, I do know that, without exception, the opinion I have had expressed to me on the theme of some form of 'Reflection' or event that does not distinguish between perpetrator and victim is doomed to failure as was the most recent example here in Londonderry and the other centres across Northern Ireland."


Real IRA Tells 'Journal' 'We Didn't Fire Bomb Safeway'

Tuesday 1st February 2005

The real IRA have denied responsibility for the weekend firebomb attack at the Safeway store in Strabane - but have admitted carrying out a series of attacks across the North in Derry, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and Ballymena.

The dissident republican group, which contacted the 'Journal' yesterday using a recognised codeword, also claimed responsibility for the recent incendiary attack which destroyed the Linton and Robinson hardware and agricultural store in Strabane causing in excess of £1 million worth of damage and putting 20 people out of work in the economic blackspot.

The group justified the attack, claiming: "Linton and Robinson were targeted because they have been supplying the British forces in the North.

"We once again reiterate our warning that anyone offering aid and support to the British forces does so at their own risk."

The Real IRA statement went on: "We also claim responsibilty for attacks in various parts of the North over the Christmas period except for one attack in Newry which we had nothing to do with. "These targets were selected as part of our strategy to target the Northern economy and to undermine the bogus claims that there is some sort of normality here."

On Sunday police in Strabane said a viable device had been found in the Safeway store. British Army bomb experts defused the device which was found in the premises on the Branch Road shortly before 3 a.m.

The incident provoked outrage from local politicians who have accused those responsible for putting jobs and future investment in jeopardy.

Before Christmas the Carpet Right store in Derry's Crescent Link was completely destroyed after a firebomb attack.

During the Christmas period-at least 16 devices were discovered in various parts of the North causing serious damage at several premises.

The fire bomb attacks prompted the PSNI to issue a renewed warning to businesses across the North last week to check their premises.


Baby Dies In Cork Fire

A three-month-old baby girl has died following a house fire in County Cork.

The blaze is believed to have started in the baby`s bedroom at a two-storey house at Rosewood Estate in Ballincollig.

Three fire service units attended the scene after the alarm was raised around 5am this morning

When they arrived a man, a woman and the baby girl had already escaped from the house. However the baby was seriously ill, believed to be suffering from smoke inhalation.

Attempts were made to resuscitate the baby at the scene before she was removed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital. She was pronounced dead there a short time later.

The baby`s mother and the woman`s partner were not injured in the fire. A garda investigation has begun into the cause of the blaze.


First Edition Of Paper Hits Shops

The first edition of a new daily newspaper has gone on sale across Northern Ireland.

Daily Ireland, published by the Andersonstown News Group, will be cross-border and pro-nationalist.

About 60,000 copies of the paper have been printed to coincide with its launch in Belfast on Tuesday.

Managing Director Mairtin O Muilleoir said while the market was crowded with titles he was confident Daily Ireland would be a success.

"There's a great appetite for newspapers. Yes, there are a lot of newspapers out there, but none catering for this niche in the market," he said.

"We're taking on everyone in the market. We're on sale across the country. We have put together a very polished product and it's different. I think it's going to fly and there's a real demand for that."

Mr O Muilleoir said it was a "real triumph" to see Daily Ireland on the news stands after almost a year of intense preparations.

"We intend to provide a fresh, vibrant, dynamic package for the modern reader who wants a paper which is tops for sport, exclusives and features," he said.

Editor Maria McCourt said newspapers had to adapt to massive changes in the industry, and they took this on board when deciding its content.

"They (newspapers) are no longer the primary source of information for people, especially morning papers," she said.

"People want to get more from their newspaper and I think views and analysis is the way to go."

Daily Ireland, priced 50 pence, hopes to take sales off the Irish News and the Irish editions of the English tabloids which sell well in nationalist areas.

It needs to sell 20,000 copies a day to break even and expects to pick up sales principally in Northern Ireland, Dublin and the border counties.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/01 12:20:53 GMT


Mary McAleese Didn’t Set Out To Hurt Anybody Says Fr Aidan Troy

Following the retraction and apology made by President Mary McAleese for her controversial comments made during a Holocaust memorial event, Fr Aidan Troy has called on people to “leave it at that”.

On Thursday the President said that the Nazis "gave to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred of Catholics, in the same way that people give to their children an outrageous and irrational hatred of those who are different colour and all of those things." She later apologised for her “clumsy” choice of words in a bid to defuse the looming row with the Protestant community. The DUP and the Orange Order have both welcomed the swift apology but added that they are not considering a meeting with the President any time soon.

Father Aidan Troy, Parish Priest of the Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne, spoke to the Andersonstown News to voice his views on the issue.

"My take is that Mary McAleese never set out to hurt anybody, it is not in her nature to do so. I believe that she tried to give a good example of how easy it is for a community to slip into a sectarian way of thinking, she gave an example of a situation she knows but the reaction has just got out of hand. I know both Mary and her husband very well and there isn't a trace of malice there. She has apologised and people should leave it at that." he said.

Mrs McAleese, who hails from the Ardoyne area of North Belfast, said she didn't intend to “single out” the Protestant community and that she hopes to continue building relations with both sections of the community.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


We Say: The President’s Words

The furore over the comments made by President Mary McAleese has died down after the Orange Order and the DUP said that they accepted her apology. Pointedly though, they also said that they don’t envision any meetings with the President in the foreseeable future.

The President said that her remarks were “clumsy”, and perhaps they were – and in that context an apology was probably in order. But it is a bit rich for the opposition to the remarks to be led by the Orange Order and the DUP – two institutions that are the very embodiment of the point that the President was trying to make.

Before it slates the President for her remarks, the Orange Order would do well to get its own house in order. It is a byword for intolerance and division and a trawl through the archives will quickly illustrate the centrality of the Orange Order to much of the violent hatred that has scarred this country for hundreds of years. If it were just an historical footnote that would be bad enough, but the Orange Order continues to be a reactionary and divisive force to this very day. The next marching season will no doubt prove that in spades yet again.

And as for the DUP, well where do you start? The leader and founder of that party, Ian Paisley, made his name by uttering contemptible and inflammatory words at street corners and from the pulpit. The statements he has made about the Catholic Church and about the Pope angered and incensed Catholic people in Ireland – and beyond.

Rather than point fingers at the President, those members of the DUP who got on their high horse when this controversy erupted last week might be better advised to ask their leader whether he doesn’t think it a good idea to apologise for his baleful oratory.

An apology from the President was magnanimous and helpful – one from Ian Paisley is inconceivable.

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