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February 05, 2005

02/05/05 - SF Agains Return To Conflict

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

BB 02/05/05 SF 'Against Any Conflict Return'
SF 02/05/05 Irish Govt Strongly Challenged Over Attitude To IMC
IO 02/05/05 Sinn Féin Accused Of Milking Peace Process
IO 02/05/05 Bush Government Backs Demands On IRA
BB 02/05/05 IRA Keeping Everyone In The Dark
BT 02/05/05 When It Comes To Jerks, P O'Neill Takes Pride Of Place
BT 02/05/05 Silent Tribute To Victim Of City Centre Stabbing
IO 02/05/05 Ireland Has Highest Mensa Membership In The World


SF 'Against Any Conflict Return'

Sinn Fein is totally opposed to any return to conflict, Gerry Adams has said.

Mr Adams said a return to conflict would have "devastating consequences for everyone on the island".

He challenged the British and Irish governments to decide where their priorities lay.

The IRA denies claims it was behind the £26.5m Belfast bank raid in December, and earlier this week, it withdrew its offer of complete decommissioning.

Mr Adams said Sinn Fein's priority was to defend the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

The Sinn Fein president was speaking after the IRA issued two statements warning of the serious state of the political process.

Mr Adams told party members in Dublin on Saturday that the governments had abused the party's role as messengers for the IRA.

He said: "The electoral mandate of the Sinn Fein party has been ignored. We remain wedded to our peace strategy."

Mr Adams added that the "mishandling" of recent political efforts had been "extremely damaging to the peace process".

He claimed the problem was the DUP's refusal to share power, and said the government's confrontational approach was making a bad situation worse.

On Friday, Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern said Sinn Fein has a mandate but must sever its links with the IRA before it can play a full part in democratic politics.

"We have got the distinct and definite view of the police forces on both sides of the border that there was Provisional IRA involvement in the robbery and that has really had a huge effect on the trust and confidence of the two governments," he said.

IRA statement

The IRA's latest statement said: "The two governments are trying to play down the importance of our statement because they are making a mess of the peace process.

"Do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation."

Unionist politicians have described the statement as "sinister".

The Independent Monitoring Commission has presented its report on the robbery to the British and Irish governments.

The report is not expected to be published until next week.

It is thought it will concur with the police assessment that the IRA was to blame for the bank raid and to suggest sanctions against Sinn Fein.

Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2005/02/05 13:59:11 GMT (c) BBC MMV


Irish Government Strongly Challenged Over Attitude To Imc

Adams - Sinn Féin's priority is to defend the peace process

Published: 5 February, 2005

Senior Sinn Féin negotiator Gerry Kelly today addressed delegates at the Sinn Féin Six County AGM in the Republican centre in Gulladuff, South Derry. Mr Kelly told the large audience of party activists that 'given the Irish government's stated opposition to sanctions their approach to the latest IMC report was an acid test of their role as a co-equal partner with the British in managing the peace process'.

Mr Kelly said: "The British government at the behest of David Trimble formed the IMC with the sole purpose of being used to sanction and eventually exclude Sinn Féin from the political process. It was formed as a mechanism to try to stop the increasing growth of Sinn Féin across the island and to treat the Sinn Féin electorate differently from those who vote for all other parties. This philosophy is clearly undemocratic in nature and flies in the face of the core principles of the peace process - inclusivity, engagement and respect for democratic mandates.

"It was a serious error for the Irish government to support the establishment of this body and to nominate a member to it. The decision of the SDLP to acquiesce to the establishment and function of the IMC also displayed a lack of political judgement.

"In its short lifespan the IMC has already been used by the British government to sanction the Sinn Fein electorate. This sanction was imposed after the IMC reproduced allegations from spooks, spies and securocrats alleging IRA, a completely separate organisation from Sinn Féin, involvement in a series of events. Credible evidence or impartial sources are not a requirement of the IMC. It operates outside the norms of the basic legal process and removes the requirement for proof or natural justice.

"It has proven to be the vehicle which the securocrats, fundamentally opposed to the process of change, have been longing for since the start of this process.

"The Irish government has recently stated clearly that they oppose sanctions. This is a noble sentiment. However given the history of the Irish government's involvement in establishing and maintaining the IMC nationalists and republicans are justifiably sceptical of this claim.

"The Irish government have a responsibility to defend the rights of Irish citizens living in the British occupied part of this country.

"If the Irish government are genuinely opposed to sanctions against the Sinn Fein electorate then they need to stop them happening and they need to undo the current sanctions imposed against our party. The Irish government are supposed to be co-equal partners with the British in the management of this process. This is an acid test of that status. So far on a number of key issues including suspension and the cancellation of elections the Irish government have rolled over. They cannot let this happen again and at the same time maintain credibly that they are not allowing the British system to dictate the pace of the peace process.

"Indeed if the Irish government position is now opposition to the concept of sanctions then much of the raison d'etre for the very existence of the IMC itself is removed.

"If the next IMC report again demands further sanctions against the Sinn Fein electorate, are the Irish government going to remove their appointed representative from it and repeal the legislation they passed giving rise to it. This is the only option available to them if their opposition to discrimination and sanctions is to be anything more than talk and their position as a co-equal partner in the overall peace process is not to be totally undermined." ENDS


Sinn Féin Accused Of Milking Peace Process 2005-02-05 15:20:02+00

Sinn Féin is milking the Northern Ireland peace process for political gain and the Irish Government's patience is running out, it was claimed today.

But Minister of State Brian Lenihan said Taoiseach Bertie Ahern would not break off talks despite recent "improper" threats from the IRA.

Power-sharing prospects were rocked by a second IRA statement on Thursday which warned British and Irish governments not to "underestimate the seriousness" of the current crisis.

However, Mr Lenihan said today: "The process is being milked by Sinn Féin for political progress. Our patience is beginning to run out."

Mr Lenihan also said there was a "clear linkage" between Sinn Féin and the IRA.

He added: "We have these improper direct threats from the IRA. Sinn Féin take their line from the Army Council and not from the people who gave them a mandate."

But the Dublin TD told RTE that the Government wouldn't break off dialogue and demanded "clear reflection" from Sinn Féin.

Earlier Sinn Féin accused the Irish Government of launching a "full-frontal assault on the Sinn Féin leadership and the integrity of our electoral mandate".

Party president Gerry Adams urged a sensible approach by all sides and criticised Government ministers for projecting previous business meetings with Sinn Féin as confrontations.

Speaking after a meeting of Sinn Féin members in Dublin, he called for a "sensible discussion" behind closed doors with the Government.

He also warned that possible "so-called security options" against Sinn Féin would be futile.

He denied there was a current crisis in the republican movement, and insisted the crisis existed "in the wider peace process".

"The British and Irish governments' mishandling of events in recent months has been extremely damaging to the peace process," he claimed.

Earlier Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell said the Irish public was fed up with the lack of progress in the peace process and wanted it to deliver.

He added: "Anybody who has done business with Sinn Féin in the past has paid a very serious price.

"The SDLP party has been overtaken. The Ulster Unionist Party is in ruin.

"If Fianna Fáil doesn't stand up to these people they'll follow the same way. They'll steal their seats and continue to have P O'Neill in the background."


Bush Government Backs Demands On IRA

04/02/2005 - 15:13:49

US President George Bush's government today threw its weight behind Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern's demands for an end to all paramilitary and criminal activity in Northern Ireland.

Following two hard-hitting statements from the IRA in Belfast this week, a US State Department spokesman said the decision by the Provisionals to withdraw last year's offer of disarmament was unwelcome.

He also insisted all republican and loyalist terror groups had to follow through on commitments in the Good Friday Agreement to disarm.

"The statement on February 2 by the Provisional IRA that it is withdrawing its offer to disarm is unwelcome," the US State Department 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 in Northern Ireland.

"All paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland should follow through on the Good Friday Agreement commitments to the decommissioning of all weapons."

The statement surfaced after Condoleezza Rice met Tony Blair and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in London on her first overseas trip in her new role as US Secretary of State.

President Bush's special envoy on Northern Ireland, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, has remained in his post despite Colin Powell's decision to leave the US State Department and make way for Ms Rice.

During efforts to revive devolution last year, Ambassador Reiss took part in the Leeds Castle talks with the Northern Ireland parties in Kent.

During more talks last December, President Bush telephoned Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in a bid to persuade them to strike a deal.

The process broke down when the IRA refused to sanction photographs of its disarmament process - a key DUP demand.

The peace process was plunged further into crisis following claims that the IRA carried out the Northern bank raid in December in Belfast.

Working relations between Sinn Féin and the Irish Government, in particular, have hit rock bottom following Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's allegation that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness must have known the IRA was planning the robbery during negotiations.

In a second statement this week, the Provisionals ominously warned the British and Irish governments last night not to underestimate the current crisis and accused London and Dublin of making a mess of the process.

The US State Department said: "The US applauds the Irish and British governments for their tireless efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland and urges Northern Ireland's parties to continue their efforts towards such an agreement.

"The people of Northern Ireland deserve no less. The US remains engaged with the two governments and with the Northern Ireland political parties to push for a comprehensive settlement."

There has been speculation that the White House may downgrade President Bush's St Patrick's Day celebrations and even freeze Sinn Féin leaders out of the event following Northern Ireland chief constable Hugh Orde's claims that the IRA carried out the bank heist.

US government sources said it was wrong to place too much significance on the lack of information about this year's event.

"We have only just had the inauguration, a reshuffle and the State of the Union address from the President, so I wouldn't read too much into it," an official said.

"Other things have been on the agenda."


IRA Keeping Everyone In The Dark

By Mark Devenport

BBC Northern Ireland political editor

Serenaded by a group of young musicians in Derry's Guildhall Square, the Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern responded by confiding that the Beatles were his favourite group. He particularly liked "Let it Be".

If the scene appeared a little surreal perhaps it was because Mr Ahern was being glad handed around the city by the Sinn Fein Mayor Gerry O'Hara and the party's local luminaries Martin McGuinness and Mitchel McLaughlin.

The Irish government and the republican movement have certainly found themselves in times of trouble lately. But whatever they have been whispering to each other it hasn't been "words of wisdom".

Amidst the shrill rhetorical hostilities between the IRA, Dublin and London, Gerry Adams has been humming his own version of "Let It Be".

Asked to comment on the apparently threatening statements from the IRA, the Sinn Fein president says he would rather let the IRA words speak for themselves.

Looked on for decades as the most articulate spokesman in support of the republican cause, he now maintains the day when he interpreted IRA statements is over.

This sound of silence seems quite deliberate. Most people don't care too much about decoding IRA and Sinn Fein statements full of words like "quiescent" and "transient".

They just want to know if the ceasefire will hold. However, appearing at a Stormont news conference, Mr Adams refused to answer a series of direct questions about the stability of the ceasefire.

As usual, he was treading a fine line. If he had said the ceasefire could break down soon he would have been accused of making an explicit threat.

'Ominous development'

If he had said the IRA cessation would hold no matter what happens, then those who have labelled the IRA's withdrawal of its offer to disarm as a "tantrum" would feel vindicated. So the 64,000 dollar question was left hanging in the air.

The former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre - now pursuing a very different tack from his old comrades - told the Inside Politics programme he believes Gerry Adams deliberately wishes to spread uncertainty.

His theory is that the threat of IRA violence keeps Sinn Fein centre stage and increases their media profile and consequent political weight.

The consensus amongst the British and Irish governments appears to be that the IRA doesn't intend to go back to violence. Apart from whatever they are gleaning from informers within its ranks, officials probably base this on two factors.

One is that in the world after September 11th the IRA would not want the world, and especially the United States, to look on them as the "bad guys".

The other consideration is that with a general election looming a renewed IRA campaign would not help Sinn Fein expand further into traditional SDLP territory.

However, another former IRA prisoner Danny Morrison describes the latest terse IRA statement as an "ominous development".

He warns that "the IRA defies conventional analysis. If it decided there was a case to be made for a return to armed struggle it would go down that road without regard to the post 9/11 perception of the world."

Huff and puff? Or a real sign that we are on the brink? The government seems determined to press ahead with sanctions regardless of any implicit or explicit threats, and republicans are deliberately keeping everyone in the dark about the IRA's true intentions.

Those who remember with dread that evening in February 1996 when the first telephone warnings came through of a bomb in the Docklands can only keep their fingers crossed and hope.

Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2005/02/04 18:14:42 GMT (c) BBC MMV


When It Comes To Jerks, P O'Neill Takes Pride Of Place

Lindy McDowell

04 February 2005

Gerry Adams said we must not kneejerk. I can't remember what he was talking about at the time. But I do remember the verb. To kneejerk. It's just so very Gerry.

Oddly, it wasn't the rest of us but P. O'Neill himself who was kneejerking this week.

Hours after Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern asserted what has been staring the peace process in the face for the last six years - that the Provos are the sole obstacle to progress - our old friend P. had a bit of a hissy fit.

The situation, he snapped in his latest seismic statement, "has tried our patience to the limits. We are taking all our proposals off the table. . . . "

Oooooo er! Get her!

I suspect that whoever penned the Provos' latest historic pronouncement hoped those words would convey a sense of power, drama and crisis.

They don't. Actually what they convey is Ken Barlow. The geography teacher telling the class that because they've failed to pay attention during his engrossing talk on global warming, next week's field trip to Millisle is being cancelled.

OK so it is, as the IRA's second huffy little statement says, a serious situation. But some of the reaction to this week's sudden spate of Provo verbals has been a bit, well, kneejerk.

Let's keep this is in perspective. What that first statement actually amounted to was the IRA withdrawing the offer to do something it was already refusing to do any way.

Hardly a seismic setback. Yet, inevitably, given the tone of both that statement and last night's follow-up, there has been talk in some quarters about how this move may signal "a return" to violence. One national paper even had us, in its headline, back "on the brink."

The sad reality about Northern Ireland is that it has been ever thus.

We may not be continually teetering on the very edge of the abyss. But where there is a bit of brink there you can be sure you will find Northern Ireland.

Surrounded and held hostage as we have been during the long years of the peace process by the combined forces of still active and unrepentant terrorism (republican and loyalist), what chance was there that we'd get away from the damned brink?

The notion that there is such an entity as "the new Northern Ireland" where we have managed to break free from the violence of the past is belied by this stark reality - it's still the paramilitaries who call the shots in Northern Ireland.

Thus a statement from P. O'Neill, who is the equivalent of the Provos' Mr Tayto, is now being minutely dissected and analysed for evidence of murderous intent by the same media commentators who until the Northern Bank were lecturing the rest of us on the need to accept that "the dark days of violence were behind us."

They weren't. They aren't. This week's response to those IRA statements alone make clear how very few people truly believe we're out of the woods.

And let's not kid ourselves it's a question of whether the IRA will "return" to violence. In a contained way the violence has continued throughout their hypocritical so called peace process.

But will they now crank up that violence? Will those who never went away go back to doing what they do best?

Our only comfort is that the eternally image-conscious Republican Movement has a lot to lose if it does.

In two crucial constituencies - in Irish America and in the south of Ireland - a cold new wind of criticism has been blasting Sinn Fein in recent weeks.

Under scrutiny are two issues. First the allegation that while they talked peace with the Taoiseach himself, Sinn Fein leaders knew that the Northern Bank raid was being planned. Second, the dismissal, again by senior figures in Sinn Fein, of the lynch murder of a widowed mother of ten as "wrong but not a crime."

This sudden questioning of their behaviour is new territory for the Shinners who previously have been toadied to and indulged on both sides of the Atlantic.

So how long before these two points of concern merge and someone asks the inevitable question - what other operational decisions were Gerry and Martin party to? Planning for the sort of horrors that Mitchell McLaughlin would file under "wrong but not a crime?"

Is P. O'Neill's statement then, just a diversionary tactic?

A slap across the face to the rest of us to focus attention on what could happen - as opposed to what did?

If that's the plan, it's unlikely to work.

In Northern Ireland, we take paramilitary tough talk in our stride. It's nothing new. And if you are reading this from abroad and wondering what impact this week's statements have had on the general population, it would be fair to say we have not worked ourselves into a tizzy over it all.

In Northern Ireland, when terrorists threaten, we don't kneejerk.

We brace ourselves.


Silent Tribute To Victim Of City Centre Stabbing

By Debra Douglas 05 February 2005

SEVERAL hundred people have attended a vigil for murdered father-of-two Robert McCartney.

Mr McCartney died after being stabbed outside a city centre bar last Sunday - and last night, hundreds of people stood in silent respect for him.

Robert's sister Paula had urged local residents to go to the vigil to register their disgust at his killing.

She was joined by the rest of the family, including Mr McCartney's partner Bridgeen, who he was due to marry later this year.

She wept quietly as Father Sean Gilmore, from St Matthew's Church read the Rosary.

He told the crowd, many of whom held candles, he was pleased to see so many people wanted to pay their respects to Mr McCartney.

He said: "We are here to express solidarity with Robert McCartney's family who are going through such an ordeal.

"The people of the Short Strand are standing up against the evil that was done."

Local MLAs and councillors also attended the vigil. Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell said it gave the local community a chance to show their support for Mr McCartney's family.

So far seven men have been questioned and released without charge in relation to the murder, which Chief Constable Hugh Orde said was not believed to have any paramilitary involvement.

Detectives will re-visit the scene tomorrow night. Officers will speak to members of the public in May Street, which is adjacent to Magennis's bar where Mr McCartney had been, and the surrounding area.

Leaflets will also be distributed in a bid to jog the memory of anyone who may have information about the killing that has not yet been passed on to police.


Ireland Has Highest Mensa Membership In The World

05/02/2005 - 11:28:56

There are more highly intelligent people recorded in Ireland than in any other country.

Mensa, an association of people with high IQs, says Ireland has the highest figure of Mensa members in the world.

To join Mensa you must have an IQ in the top 2 % of the world's population.

Ireland has over 1,200 members and its ranks are swelling here while they decline in the UK.

Mensa's international president David Schulman, who lives in Dublin, said although education helps develop the IQ, natural intelligence is something one is born with.

Mr Schulman said membership of Mensa covers a broad social spectrum from heads of businesses to unemployed and unemployable people.

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Table of Contents – Feb 2005

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