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February 05, 2005

02/05/05 - Ahern Has 'Frank' Discussions With SF

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

IT 02/05/05 Ahern Has 'Frank' Discussions With SF
IT 02/05/05 FG Seeks Dail Unity Urging IRA To Disarm & End Criminality
IT 02/05/05 Republican 'Turmoil' Seen As Being Behind IRA Warnings
GU 02/05/05 Direct IRA Talks 'Are Only Way To Move Forward'
IT 02/05/05 Dev 'Intrigued' By British Inquiry On Giving Up Neutrality
IT 02/05/05 Ballybunion Walk In Support Of Hotel Project

HM Gerry Adams Accuses Dublin Of Embracing The DUP Agenda –VO

Hearts & Minds - Gerry Adams Accuses Dublin Of Embracing The DUP Agenda and of failing to stand up to Tony Blair for the rights of Irish citizens. And Mark Durkan on the politics of exclusion, his proposals for restoring some kind of government to Stormont and claims from one of the party's founders that its had talks with Fianna Fail about a merger.
(Poster's Note: I am visiting inlaws this weekend in a one-horse town (and the horse has even left). I am struggling with dial-up & public access at a library. I apologize for in advance for the lack of news & poor response from me. Will be home Sunday night. Jay)


Ahern Has 'Frank' Discussions With SF

George Jackson

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, yesterday described his meeting with senior Sinn Féin officials in Derry as "frank" and with "tough talking" on both sides. Sinn Féin, however, described the meeting as friendly and cordial.

Mr Ahern's meeting came a day after the Provisional IRA issued two statements within 24 hours on the stalled Northern Ireland peace process, the second of which warned the Irish and British governments not to "underestimate the seriousness of the situation". The half-hour meeting between Mr Ahern and a Sinn Féin delegation which included the party's chief negotiator Mr Martin McGuinness and national chairman Mr Mitchel McLaughlin, took place in the Rathmore Centre in Derry's Creggan estate.

After the meeting, Mr McGuinness repeated his assertion that those behind the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast last December "didn't give a damn" about the peace process. It followed an earlier meeting between Mr Ahern and SDLP leader Mr Mark Durkan at Derry Airport. Speaking after that meeting, Mr Ahern called on all politicians to "try to keep cool heads in this situation we find ourselves in" and he reiterated the Government's view that the Provisional IRA carried out last December's £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast.

"Sinn Féin have a mandate but we have to convince them that the connection between them and the IRA has to finish once and for all if they want to be part of any democratic institutions north or south of the Border," said Mr Ahern.

"It is time for calmness, it is nearly the politics of the last statement at the moment but

we really need to keep cool heads and try to work our way out of these difficulties.

"There have been worse difficulties over the years since the Hume-Adams talks started, but I again stress, no democratically elected government can allow a situation to continue where there are illegal activities being carried on by people who quite clearly have connections with some of the people involved," he said.

Mr Ahern said that the police forces on both sides of the Border were definite that "there was Provisional IRA involvement in the robbery".

The Minister said he told the Sinn Féin delegation that any party which wished to engage in politics had to do so exclusively by democratic means.

"The Hume-Adams talks started nearly 18 years ago and it is time for people to come to the mark in relation to either moving exclusively on a democratic path or not, and the incidents in recent times have shown that those decisions are coming sooner rather than later," he told reporters after the meeting. "We have been at the negotiation table for some time and all of the issues, with the exception of two, have been agreed or at least accepted. The two issues outstanding are decommissioning and the end to paramilitarism. They are issues that particularly Sinn Féin can deal with, so it is up to them and to the people associated with them to make decisions in that respect and allow the peace process to be finalised once and for all.

"The statement by Martin McGuinness today that whoever committed the Northern Bank raid didn't give a damn about the peace process is helpful, but it is the view of the Garda Síochána in the South that this raid was committed by the Provisional IRA with the knowledge of the leadership of the Provisional IRA. That is something Sinn Féin have to reflect on," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr McGuinness described his meeting with Mr Ahern as a good one which took place against a backdrop of a deepening crisis which needed to be resolved. "We discussed the general deterioration and the need to avoid further confrontation. It was a very cordial meeting, it was a friendly meeting, there was little or no angst in the meeting and I have come away from it with the impression that people want to reflect on it," he said. "We cannot move forward on the basis that the IRA are the sole problem. We have to move forward on the basis that there is a comprehensive remedy to be achieved and that will require input from everyone. Our relationship with the Irish Government has been badly damaged by the events of recent weeks. That does not mean to say we can't sort it out."

(c) The Irish Times


FG Seeks Dail Unity Urging IRA To Disarm And End Criminality

Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent

Fine Gael is to propose that all Dáil parties unite next week behind a motion calling on the IRA to decommission its weapons and end all criminal and paramilitary activity.

The party's Private Members Motion comes amid uncertainty within Government and Opposition parties about the state of the relationships between senior figures in the republican movement.

The Fine Gael leader, Mr Enda Kenny, said yesterday he was "concerned at the situation that appears to exist now, whereby apparently the leadership of Sinn Féin is either unwilling or unable to interpret the latest statement from the IRA".

He said on RTÉ's Morning Ireland programme that in the past such statements had been interpreted by Sinn Féin "with credibility, but that does not appear to be the case now and therefore I don't know what is actually happening within the republican movement. This is a source of some concern."

The Taoiseach also noted "the distancing of Sinn Féin comments from the IRA statements" in recent days. He did not elaborate on what significance he saw in this.

Fine Gael sources said they hoped to get support from the Government parties for their motion, and said they had deliberately excluded from it any criticism of the Government.

The motion calls on the Dáil to reaffirm that the Belfast Agreement must form the basis for any deal in the North; to note that all parties to the agreement undertook to pursue their political objectives by exclusively peaceful and democratic means; and that the agreement envisaged full decommissioning within two years.

It welcomes the Taoiseach's statement that the offer regarding the early release of the killers of Det Garda Jerry McCabe has been withdrawn; notes "the damage which has been done to the peace process by the robbery of the Northern Bank, and the assessment of the Irish and British governments that the Provisional IRA was responsible for this crime".

It also "notes with deep concern the recent comments by the Sinn Féin leadership regarding its interpretation of what constitutes criminality; views the recent statements issued by the Provisional IRA as a retrograde step and as an implicit threat to the Irish people; [ and] believes that a final, inclusive settlement must require that all paramilitary activity and criminality be brought to an end."

Finally, it calls on the republican movement "to clearly demonstrate its commitment to full decommissioning and to ending all its criminal and paramilitary activity".

Meanwhile, the Labour Party leader, Mr Pat Rabbitte, described last Wednesday's IRA statement as "834 words of petulance, self-pity, hectoring and general menace". Despite its length, it had failed anywhere to mention the Belfast Agreement, he said.

"Instead, there is an account of a peace process that has since 1994 been enhanced, developed and saved by a succession of 'significant', 'ambitious' and 'substantive' IRA initiatives, which have been attacked, devalued and dismissed by pro-unionists, anti-republicans and the British and Irish governments."

Mr Rabbitte said there had now been "a not very-thinly-veiled threat from the IRA when, it appears, they felt their first statement was not received with due respect and deference".

It was now "make your mind up time" for Mr Gerry Adams and Mr Martin McGuinness.

The Green Party leader, Mr Trevor Sargent, said the Taoiseach should consider recalling the National Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. All parties should "remain calm" following the two IRA statements this week.

"It is important to take stock of the peace dividend reduced paramilitary violence has brought in the last decade," he said. "If parties cannot work together, this is indeed serious. All can agree with the IRA statement on that point."

But he urged the IRA "to agree with the Green Party and almost every other party to the Good Friday agreement that the block to progress is the threat of violence and the capacity for violence. Much depends on Sinn Féin and the IRA ending the option of armed struggle.

"We are now on an unfortunate round of game playing with accusations, blame and counter blame clogging the airwaves. I am now calling on the Taoiseach and all parties to seriously consider recalling the National Forum for Peace and Reconciliation."

(c) The Irish Times


Republican 'Turmoil' Seen As Being Behind IRA Warnings

Gerry Moriarty and Mark Brennock

The British and Irish governments believe that a hardening of attitude in the IRA leadership prompted the two uncompromising statements from the organisation this week, according to well-placed sources.

They are convinced, however, that the IRA has no plans to deviate from the peace process strategy of Mr Gerry Adams and Mr Martin McGuinness, notwithstanding the veiled threat of a potential return to "war" by the IRA in its statements.

"There is a degree of turmoil in the movement and these statements and the warnings from Gerry Adams are not simply a case of sabre-rattling," said an informed official source. "But we still don't think the IRA is planning to go back to war, especially considering 9/11 and the fact that it would be disastrous for the republican movement's political project," he added.

The Taoiseach yesterday noted "the distancing of Sinn Féin's comments from the IRA statements" in recent days. The governments believe the collapse in December of the negotiations aimed at securing a comprehensive agreement caused some damage to the solidity of the Adams-McGuinness leadership, providing some encouragement to more "hawkish" republicans at army council level, sources said.

"One good theory for the robbery is that it was to provide a morale boost for republicans after the failure of the talks," one insider said. "I don't think, however, the IRA calculated just how much damage it would do politically."

Fine Gael leader, Mr Enda Kenny, also remarked on the possibility that the traditional unity within the republican movement could have weakened. It appeared Sinn Féin's leadership "is either unwilling or unable to interpret the latest statement from the IRA," he said.

The Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister are now hoping that after the anger of this week, the leadership of Sinn Féin and the IRA will "cool down" and take time to reflect. More republican fury is likely to be vented next week when the report of the Independent Monitoring Commission into the Northern Bank robbery is published. The report, which was presented to the governments on Thursday, has accepted that the IRA carried out the raid.

The US State Department said yesterday the decision by the IRA to withdraw last year's offer of disarmament was "unwelcome". "The statement on February 2nd by the Provisional IRA that it is withdrawing its offer to disarm is unwelcome," an official said.

"We share the view of the British and Irish prime ministers that the continuation of paramilitarism and associated criminality remains the central obstacle to a lasting and durable peace. All paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland should follow through on the Good Friday agreement commitments to the decommissioning of all weapons," the US official said.

(c) The Irish Times


Direct IRA Talks 'Are Only Way To Move Forward'

Bypass Sinn Féin to heal rift over criminality, says expert

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent

Saturday February 5, 2005

The Guardian

A key architect of the first IRA ceasefire last night appealed to the Dublin government to go over the heads of Sinn Féin and talk directly to the Provisionals if the battered Northern Irish peace process is to be saved.

Denis Bradley, the former Catholic priest who helped broker the secret talks that led to the first ceasefire nearly a decade ago, said the IRA needed to "look hard at itself" in the wake of the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery, after it released two bellicose statements this week angrily withdrawing its offer to decommission its arms.

Mr Bradley, now deputy chair of the Northern Ireland policing board, said it was clear that the latitude Sinn Féin had been given by both governments to smooth the path from violence had run out.

The bitter rift with the Irish taoiseach, Bertie Ahern - who is sticking to his claim that the IRA not only carried out the heist but that Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness knew of it while they negotiated with him - would not be healed unless there were direct talks with the IRA.

He said the republican movement was like a "man sitting very uncomfortably in a chair, they feel cornered and that no one is listening to them."

He said the wider nationalist family had become uncomfortable with and somewhat embarrassed by republicans. The IRA had managed to keep clear of criminality for decades, but "now there seems to be a drift in that direction".

Even before police blamed the IRA for the Belfast robbery, IRA criminality had come under the spotlight. The Independent monitoring commission (IMC) and the organised crime task force reported that the IRA continued to make an income from large-scale cigarette and alcohol smuggling, counterfeiting, tax and VAT fraud, money laundering, and fuel-laundering.

In Northern Ireland's landscape of over 100 criminal gangs - many linked to loyalist and republican paramilitaries - the IRA is estimated by the media to receive between £5m and £8m a year from organised crime. It was blamed for the recent £1m robbery of a south Belfast cash and carry, and a £1m raid on a cigarette warehouse last year.

Sinn Féin angrily has angrily refuted the taoiseach's claims that the Northern Bank robbery was part of a pattern of crime, denying the IRA was involved.

Seven weeks on from the raid, no one has been arrested and no money has been recovered. Around £10m of the stolen notes are now known to be untraceable. Police have not produced evidence to support their assertion that the IRA carried out the raid, saying this week that it would prejudice any future case.

The IMC's report published next week is expected to blame the IRA for the raid, but is unlikely to expand on the intelligence.

The Irish government has weighed in heavily on the notion that the IRA still controls communities through violence, accusing republicans of controlling punishment attacks to suit the political climate. Police report that IRA beatings have increased since hope of a political deal collapsed in December.

A new form of shooting, the "Padro Pio" - named after a monk who many Catholics believed had the stigmata of the crucified Christ - has emerged in Belfast, in which young men are made to put their hands together in prayer and are then shot through the wrists. The IRA has been accused of "blooding" recruits by making them carry out the shootings.

Ed Moloney, author of A Secret History of the IRA, said yesterday the two governments had allowed republicans to continue with criminality as long as the "hard men" were being brought into the political process.

"The rank and file don't know where they're going. They need to have time and space to make this move and [the attitude was] let's go a bit easy. That's one of the reasons blind eyes were turned for so long. That has developed into a habit and that can be destructive."

He said the motives for a raid like the Northern Bank robbery - which would have had to be sanctioned by both the IRA and the political leaderships - would range from the amount of money to the fact that they had been able to get away with raids in the past, with the government "always coming back to them to get involved in the peace process".

As unionists warned the governments not to be "bullied" by recent IRA statements, Mr Moloney said both Sinn Féin and the IRA knew the "huge disadvantages" of a return to violence.

"The hard core of activists are 10 years older than when the [ceasefire] process started. The will to fight has eroded. Politically the situation is very different."

Pressed on whether the ceasefire was in danger, Mr Adams said yesterday: "Our focus is on preventing that. The challenge now for all of us in positions of political leadership is to rescue the situation."


Dev 'Intrigued' By British Inquiry On Giving Up Neutrality

Deaglán de Bréadún

Éamon de Valera was "quite intrigued" by a British inquiry about his terms for abandoning Irish neutrality and taking the Allied side in the second World War, according to the secret diaries of a British spy- chief published today.

"I gather that de Valera is quite intrigued and is thinking things over," wrote Guy Liddell, London- based head of wartime counter- espionage. "The move is inspired from the highest quarter here."

Liddell writes that the offer to Dev was made by a Connor Carrigan but the editor of the diaries, Nigel West, told The Irish Times last night that he had no further details on Carrigan and would welcome any information "from either him or his descendants".

The Guy Liddell Diaries, Volume 1: 1939-1942 (Routledge) also reveal contingency plans for British troops in Northern Ireland to assist the Irish Free State in the event of a German invasion.

Liddell's records suggest a close relationship between Britain's MI5 and Ireland's G2 military intelligence through the war years. Liddell's brother, Cecil Liddell, spent considerable time in Ireland.

Reports of conversations with successive G2 chiefs, Colonels Liam Archer and Dan Bryan, feature prominently. "They were back and forth to England all the time," West said last night.

They discussed with the British possible German U-boat bases and wireless stations on the west coast of Ireland. The activities of the German embassy were also of great interest to the British, who were able to decode messages sent from the embassy to Berlin.

Liddell also talks of "a considerable stir in the Irish world" in 1942 when 29 priests and three nuns were strip-searched at Liverpool en route from Rome.

This was in accordance with MI5 rules that demanded thorough searching of anyone returning from enemy territory. "The incident is unfortunate," Liddell wrote at the time.

Dictated nightly by Liddell to his secretary, these diaries were considered so sensitive that they were code-named "Wallflower" and locked, until recently, in the personal safe of successive MI5 directors-general.

Liddell was married to Calypso Baring, daughter of Cecil Baring, Lord Revelstoke, whose home was on Lambay Island in Dublin Bay. Liddell made many visits to the island.

He won the Military Cross during the first World War, then joined the Special Branch where he specialised in tracking Soviet spies. He was transferred to MI5 in 1931 and became director of counter-espionage. He died in 1958.

(c) The Irish Times


Ballybunion Walk In Support Of Hotel Project

Anne Lucey

Hundreds of residents in Ballybunion, Co Kerry, will stage a walk at 2 p.m. tomorrow in support of a multi-million euro hotel development on the seafront in the the town.

The hotel development is under appeal to An Bord Pleanála and is being proposed by a former mayor of San José, California, Mr Tom McEnery.

He is credited with revitalising the industrial and conference heart of the US city on the edge of Silicon Valley.

The €25 million 107-bedroom, four-storey over basement, Ballybunion Beach Hotel includes a bar, restaurant and car-parking on the site of the former Castle Hotel.

Mr McEnery is a third-generation Californian businessman whose ancestors came from north Kerry. He paid £500,000 for the site in the mid-1990s and has spent around €2 million on the project.

Mr McEnery has twice been mayor of San José. From 1983 to 1990, he spearheaded the rebuilding of the city's abandoned downtown.

He is also the author of a book called City-State: Change and Renewal in America's cities which hearkens back to classical Greece and argues for a mayor rather than management-led system of city and town government.

Mr McEnery has held a number of consultations with residents. Shortly before Christmas the development was granted permission by Kerry County Council with 34 conditions. However, it has now been appealed to An Bord Pleanála by The Castle Green Preservation Group. They are concerned about the size of the project and say it is not appropriate for Ballybunion.

A majority of people in the town are in favour of the development, Ms Kerry Harty-Beauseigneur, spokeswoman for the pro-hotel group said yesterday.

Ballybunion, well-known for its links golf course, and its statue of former president Bill Clinton unveiled during his visit five years ago, is being by-passed, she said. The new development would bring retail and other developments to the town.

Some 500 people have signed a petition in support. A four-star hotel in Ballybunion would add prestige to the town, she said. "We are very worried as a town. This development is needed for the tone of the town and its future direction."

(c) The Irish Times

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Table of Contents – Feb 2005
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