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February 03, 2005

02/03/05 – SF Accused Taoiseach Of Electorialism

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

IO 02/03/05 SF Accuses Taoiseach Of Anti-Republican 'Electoralism'
IN 02/03/05 Press Release: IRA Was Pushed Too Far
IO 02/03/05 McGuinness To Meet NI Secretary –A
BT 02/03/05 Main Element Of Deal Off The Table –A
SM 02/03/05 Government 'Not Seeking Confrontation With Sinn Fein'
IO 02/03/05 Orde Does Not Believe IRA Is Returning To Violence
IO 02/03/05 Call For New Peace Deal –A
BT 02/03/05 Viewpoint: Devising A Plan B Is Now A Priority
BB 02/03/05 Family Grieves For Murder Victim
BT 02/03/05 £181m Investment In New Trains For Republic
IO 02/03/05 Visits To Ireland Up 3.2% In 2004
RT 02/03/05 Nicholson To Play Irish Crime Boss

(Poster’s Note: Listen to the
6 minute broadcast of Martin McGuinness interview on the BBC. Jay)


SF Accuses Taoiseach Of Anti-Republican 'Electoralism'

03/02/2005 - 09:30:54

Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness has accused the Taoiseach of acting for his own electoral purposes in blaming the Provisional IRA for December's bank heist in Belfast

Last night, the IRA withdrew its offer to decommission all its weapons in protest at what it said was Irish-British antagonism towards the republican movement.

The organisation said its patience had been repeatedly tested by the Irish and British governments' on-going efforts to blame the IRA for various crimes, including the £26.5m (€38m) Belfast robbery.

Mr McGuinness said today that such accusations were being made without any evidence.

"This is electoralism gone mad and I think many people in the North who have been advocates of the peace are wondering why the Taoiseach is behaving in such a fashion," he said.


Irish National Caucus
Press Release

IRA Was Pushed Too Far

British and Unionists to Blame

Dublin Must Rescue Process

Capitol Hill. Thursday, February 3, 2005 --- It was pretty obvious the IRA would finally get fed up with the double standards of the the British and the obstructionism and rejectionism of the Unionists, both the Ulster Unionism (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

That is how Irish-Americans are reacting to the IRA statement, which took their "proposals off the table".

"Many of us feared it would come to this", said Father Sean Mc Manus, President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus." How could the British and the Unionists -- having failed for 30 years to defeat the IRA --- be so foolish as to think they could keep kicking the IRA around? Had the DUP accepted the extraordinary pre-Christmas IRA offer, the IRA would by now have completely decommissioned and the peace-process hugely advanced.”

"Only the Irish Government can now rescue the fading peace-process. It is now time for the Irish Government to put pressure on the British ... and to call off its attack dog, Minister of Justice Michael Mc Dowell. The peace process must not be sacrificed for petty political reasons", Father Mc Manus concluded.

Father Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. Box 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20003-0849


BBC Radio: Sinn Fein's deputy leader, Martin McGuiness, with an explanation of why the IRA has withdrawn its weapons decommissioning offer.

McGuinness To Meet NI Secretary -A

02/02/2005 - 07:16:12

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness is due to meet Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy today after another warning to the IRA that it must stop all paramilitary and criminal activity if power sharing is to return to Northern Ireland.

The meeting will follow talks at Downing Street involving Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, their ministers and senior policemen from both sides of the border.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern have been briefed by Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde and the Garda commissioner Noel Conroy, on their belief that the IRA carried out the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in December.

Confirming he accepted the conclusion of both police forces that the robbery was the work of the Provisional IRA, Mr Blair warned that republican involvement in paramilitarism and criminality was an obstacle to progress in the political process.

“The obstacle now to a lasting and durable settlement in Northern Ireland is the continuing paramilitary activity and criminal activity of the IRA,” Mr Blair said.

“It has got to stop. It has got to stop in its entirety. There cannot be any compromise with that. If it is given up the process can move forward on an inclusive basis.”

The Northern Bank raid has shattered hopes in London and Dublin that efforts last year to restore power sharing at Stormont – involving unionists, republicans and nationalists – could bear fruit early this year.

Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists have demanded a series of sanctions against Sinn Féin, including exclusion from any devolved government, the withdrawal of House of Commons privileges from the party’s MPs and a clampdown on its fund raising activities in the US.

The British government has also been discussing with parties in Northern Ireland a future role for the Assembly if power sharing cannot return.

The DUP and the Alliance Party have urged the governments to back their idea of a voluntary coalition involving their parties and the SDLP, arguing that such a system already operates successfully in Scotland.

But nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan has shown little inclination to back the voluntary coalition, and has instead promoted his own party’s proposal that 11 commissioners be appointed to run the Stormont Executive Department and Assembly committees until the North’s 108 MLA’s can take over.

The DUP has also suggested a Corporate Assembly model in which Stormont committees assume control of the executive department and take key decisions.

Sinn Féin delegations meeting in Hillsborough Castle today will include West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty, South Down MLA Catriona Ruane and Meath by-election candidate Joe Reilly.


BBC Radio: The IRA has withdrawn its - weapons decommissioning offer it made before Christmas.

Main Element Of Deal Off The Table -A

Political Correspondent Chris Thornton assesses the fallout from last night's IRA statement

03 February 2005

As the bits were beginning to fall off the deal of all deals in early December, officials from both the British and Irish governments were relatively relaxed about picking up the pieces again.

The good side of any step back, they argued, was that you could at least see where the two steps forward had taken you.

You know what can be done, what is capable the next time.

"You can take something off the table," said one, "but eventually you will have to put it back again."

Now the biggest bit of all has dropped off . The central plank of the deal to restore Stormont has been removed - P O'Neill, the nom de guerre of the IRA's leadership, has announced: "We are taking all our proposals off the table."

There is no questions that those proposals were the main element of the deal to restore Stormont.

To entice unionists back to power-sharing, the IRA was to decommission all its arms and instruct its members to enter a "new mode" that was supposed to prevent them doing harm to the settlement.

There is also no question that those proposals had not been enough for the governments and unionists on their own.

The DUP wanted proof that the decommissioning took place - the much talked about photographs - and an assurance that criminality had stopped through a three-month waiting period before Stormont was revived.

The Irish government also wanted a specific pledge that the IRA would not violate the rights of others.

The IRA refusal to meet those conditions meant their other elements of the deal weren't happening anyway; hence one Government source's description of last night's statement as "academic".

Just as when Taoiseach Bertie Ahern withdrew his offer to free the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe, few involved in the process believe that the IRA's offer dies here.

But the mood of the IRA suggests it could take a long time to bring it back again.

The leadership of the group is clearly angry, and more than a little edgy about the criminality accusations against them.

In their defence, they invoked the holiest of republican holies: "We will not betray the courage of the hunger strikers either by tolerating criminality within our own ranks or false allegations of criminality against our organisation by petty politicians motivated by selfish interests, instead of the national need for a successful conclusion to the peace process."

The line about not "tolerating criminals within in our own ranks" is intriguing at a time when republicans are alleged to have been involved in the bar fight murder of Belfast man Robert McCartney.

Precedent suggests it may be just rhetoric - after all, the killers of Jerry McCabe broke the IRA's own rules about attacking the Republic's security forces, and now they get their pictures taken with Sinn Fein candidates.

The statement concludes firmly: "We reiterate our commitment to achieving Irish independence and our other republican objectives. We are determined that these objectives will be secured."

What it doesn't say is how the IRA will go about pursuing its objectives with the peace process in paralysis.


Government 'Not Seeking Confrontation With Sinn Fein'

By Jon Smith, PA Political Editor

The Government is not seeking confrontation with Sinn Fein, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s official spokesman said today.

But he insisted the Government had a duty to state the facts “as they are” about the IRA’s involvement in the Northern Bank raid.

The spokesman said: “It’s fair to say that withdrawing from decommissioning is something the IRA have done before at times of difficulty, most recently after the breakdown in the talks in 2003.

“To that extent, we are not surprised.

“The Government is not seeking confrontation with Sinn Fein. We do recognise the contribution that both Sinn Fein and the IRA have made to the peace process. But equally, it’s our duty to state the facts as they are and the facts are that the IRA did carry out the robbery.”

Asked if the Government feared a return to violence by the IRA, the spokesman replied: “We don’t believe that’s a concern people need have at this stage.”

He added: “In terms of the vast number of issues we set out in 1998 to resolve, they are all resolved except one issue and that is continuing IRA activity.”

Asked if the Government believed Sinn Fein had known of the impending robbery while still negotiating, the spokesman replied: “It is what we have said before and what is still our view, which is that it’s inconceivable that, given the sophistication of the robbery and its implications, that that was not known about in the highest levels of the republican leadership.”

He added: “There is evidence of other activity that the chief constable has told us of.”

Asked why no charges had yet been brought in relation to the robbery, the spokesman replied: “It is not just the opinion of the chief constable but a view which he has reached after very careful investigation.

“Secondly, it’s a view which is independently held by the Garda in Dublin in terms of their investigations and what they know as well.

“It’s not just an idle opinion but a view based on very careful consideration.

“As the chief constable has indicated, he is fully aware of the significance of the statements he has made.

“In terms of prosecutions, that’s entirely a matter for the investigating authorities and they will take the time and the resources necessary.”


Orde Does Not Believe IRA Is Planning Return To Violence

03/02/2005 - 12:18:35

PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde has said he does not believe the Provisional IRA is planning to return to violence.

However, speaking ahead of a policing board meeting this morning, he said the organisation had the capacity to do so if it wished.

Last night, the IRA withdrew its offer to decommission all its weapons in protest at growing Irish-British antagonism towards the republican movement.

The move was obviously sparked by Mr Orde's decision, backed by the Irish and British Governments, to blame the IRA for December's bank raid in Belfast, despite the organisation's denial of involvement.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said today that his government was not seeking confrontation with Sinn Féin, but was merely stating fact when it insisted the IRA was involved in the £26.5m (€38m) robbery.

The spokesman also said the British government did not believe the IRA had any plans to return to violence.


Michael McGimpsey, senior Ulster Unionist Party negotiator, says he is not impressed with the IRA's weapons decommissioning withdrawal.

Call For New Peace Deal After IRA Withdraw Decommissioning Commitment -A

03/02/2005 - 07:02:30

The Irish and British governments are under pressure today to advance the North's peace process without the IRA.

It follows the IRA withdrawal from its commitment to decommission all of its weapons in return for a settlement.

Unionists are now stepping up demands for the restoration of a devolved administration in the North without Sinn Fein.

The IRA in a statement released last night accused the Irish and British governments of withdrawing their commitments and trying its patience to the limit.

It confirmed that it was withdrawing its proposals to get rid of its weapons.

The move came after both governments blamed the IRA for carrying out the £26.5m (€38m) bank raid on the Northern Bank in Belfast, a claim that the IRA rejects.

It has not threatened a return to full scale violence.

It stated: “The IRA has demonstrated our commitment to the peace process again and again. We want it to succeed. We have played a key role in achieving the progress achieved so far."

DUP leader Ian Paisley said the IRA statement would be treated with contempt by all right thinking people.

“Not for the first time, the IRA has withdrawn its co-operation on decommissioning. This will be another attempt to bargain with the (British) government in order to take the pressure off them.

“The Northern Bank heist confirmed that the IRA never put an offer on the table that they intended to keep. The IRA had never any intention of decommissioning in a credible, transparent and verifiable way. They never had any intention of giving up their criminal empire. That is why they walked away from the table last year.”

Senior Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey called on both governments to make progress without republicans.

“It is now eight years since Republicans agreed to commit to exclusively peaceful and democratic means. The people of Northern Ireland are still waiting for them to do so

“The IRA are attempting to throw down the gauntlet to both governments with this statement. It is a crude, thinly-veiled threat.

“It is now up to those who support the democratic process, including the Prime Minister and Taoiseach, to stand shoulder to shoulder and face this threat down,” he added.

The SDLP has refused to enter a voluntary coalition with unionists without the participation of Sinn Féin.

Deputy Leader Alasdair McDonnell said they could not allow the peace process to be held hostage to the intransigence of the IRA or the DUP.

“There is an onus on the governments to ensure that as much of the Agreement as possible is implemented now. We cannot allow the IRA to stand in the way of change and progress for all of us,” he added.


Viewpoint: Devising A Plan B Is Now A Priority

IRA statement: Democrats should not be held back by IRA intransigence

03 February 2005

If the IRA's patience has been "tried to the limit", as it says in its latest statement, it now knows how the rest of the world feels. It is unacceptable not only that the paramilitary wing of Sinn Fein is attempting to dictate the course of politics in Northern Ireland, but that it has been defying the wishes of governments and people for nearly seven years.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern have been given the IRA's response to their plea to republicans to "go away and think" how they should react to the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery.

The robbers and gunmen have no intention of returning to what would obviously have been a long-drawn-out process of bargaining on decommissioning, as was indicated in December. What they have, they hold.

They seem to think that if they play the same "no decommissioning" card, as they have often done in the past, eventually governments and parties will call Sinn Fein to the negotiating table. Those days are over, they must learn, since the bank raid and the blatant duplicity that preceded it have sickened all democrats.

The trust which the two premiers worked so hard to construct was undermined by the IRA's refusal to agree to photographs of decommissioning, but was finally blown sky-high by the bank heist. Politicians who claim to have influence with the IRA should have known that such a massive haul would change everything.

The IRA has taken its "offer" off the table, but this time there will be no rush to discover what its ambiguous language means. Sinn Fein should be damaged, by all that has happened, but even if its vote holds up in the coming elections, it is impossible to see that either the two governments or the other political parties will want it in a power-sharing executive.

The prospect, therefore, is that the stalemate will continue indefinitely, with the ideals of the Good Friday Agreement gradually withering away. Yet that would constitute a victory for the wreckers of the IRA, perhaps hoping to prove Northern Ireland ungovernable, while the democratic parties were left in the cold.

The only alternative, for the government, is rapidly to devise a Plan B that would allow the Assembly to be resurrected in a new form, short of devolution, to allow the voice of the people to be heard.

Direct rule is inevitable, for some time to come, but it could be tempered by letting all the parties - including Sinn Fein - have their say at Stormont. It would be far from ideal, but it would keep hope of a return to devolution alive.


Family Grieves For Murder Victim

The family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney say they have been "robbed" of their "protector".

His sisters were speaking for the first time since the 33-year-old father of two died after he was stabbed in Belfast on Sunday.

"His wee boys are the picture of him. You just look at them. Now they are not going to remember him," Mr McCartney's sister, Catherine, said on Thursday.

"They are robbed of one of the best daddies any children could have."

Mr McCartney, of Mountpottinger Road in east Belfast, was found unconscious in Cromac Street. He died later from his injuries.

The dead man's sisters, Paula, Gemma, Claire and Catherine, said he was a "protector".

We are pleased that the decent people of the Short Strand are supporting us... It is vital that we get to the bottom of this

Robert McCartney's sisters

They said they had already lost a brother four years ago and that Robert's murder was "shattering" for his wife, Bridgene, his young sons and his wider family.

They said there was anger in the community.

"We are pleased the decent people of the Short Strand are supporting us," they said.

"If anybody knows anything, it is important that they come forward and give information. It is vital that we get to the bottom of this."

On Wednesday, police released three men, including a senior republican, who had been detained following the attack.

A fourth man who was being questioned about withholding information concerning the stabbing was released on Thursday.

It is understood police are treating the incident as a pub fight.


Several police officers were injured in disturbances which followed search operations in the Markets area in connection with the killing.

Officers were attacked with bricks, bottles and stones during trouble on Monday night.

There were further disturbances on Tuesday as officers were subjected to stone-throwing.

A car was set on fire close to the Markets area and several police vehicles were damaged.

Former mayor Alex Maskey of Sinn Fein said "heavy handed" police tactics had caused the trouble.

However, Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey said the disturbances were orchestrated by republicans.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/03 13:09:22 GMT


£181m Investment In New Trains For Republic

By Robin Morton, Business Correspondent
03 February 2005

The Dublin Government has confirmed plans by Irish Rail for a £181m investment in new rolling stock for mainline services in the Republic.

The 120 new railcar carriages will operate on much of Irish Rail's Intercity network from 2007 onwards.

But they will not be deployed on the Dublin-Belfast route where new Enterprise trains were introduced in 1997.

The Irish Rail contract has gone to Mitsui of Japan, in partnership with Rotem of Korea and Tokyo Car Corporation of Japan.

The new air-conditioned trains will feature catering facilities, internal CCTV and automated public address systems.

They will operate on the railway lines to Westport/Ballina, Galway, Tralee and Waterford, and will allow for increased frequency.

Making the announcement, Transport Minister Martin Cullen said that in total 223 new carriages worth £318m were now on order for Irish Rail.

As well as the 120 now confirmed, 67 Intercity carriages are on order for the Dublin-Cork route, and 36 for the Dublin suburban service.

Meanwhile, an investment of £80m in Northern Ireland Railways is starting to bear fruit.

Eight of the 23 C3K diesel trains which are on order from CAF in Spain are now in service on Northern Ireland Railways.

Translink marketing executive Ciaran Rogan said 10 of the new sets had been delivered and the remainder would be shipped from Spain and put into service during the course of the year.

In December it was confirmed that additional investment of £23.6m was being provided to retain the lines to Londonderry and Larne.


Visits To Ireland Up 3.2% In 2004

03/02/2005 - 11:21:10

There was a 3.2% increase in foreign visits to Ireland last year, with the figure up 8.9% in December alone.

The Central Statistics Office said there were 436,200 overseas trips to Ireland in December 2004 compared with 400,400 in the same month of 2003.In the whole of last year, there were 6,574,500 visits to Ireland, an increase of 3.2% on the figure of 6,369,000 for 2003.

The number of visitors from the UK grew by 2.4% in December compared with the same month in 2003, although the overall figure for 2004 was down 1%.

Trips to Ireland by people from other European countries surged by 27.8% in December to 100,600, while visits from the US increased by 15.7% when compared with December 2003. Over the course of last year, the number was up 8% on 2003.

Irish people weren't slow either in making visits abroad - the figure is up was up by 8% in December over the same period last year.

The Minister for Tourism John O'Donoghue welcomed the figures, saying they were evidence of "a strong performance by Ireland against tough international competition".


Nicholson To Play Irish Crime Boss

Jack Nicholson is to play an Irish gang boss in Martin Scorsese's new crime thriller 'The Departed'.

Variety reports that the film also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg and is the US remake of the Hong Kong gangster film 'Infernal Affairs'.

It tells the story of a gangster (Damon) who has infiltrated the Boston police department and a policeman (DiCaprio) who is undercover in the city's Irish-American gangs.

The film is due to begin shooting in April.

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005
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