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February 06, 2005

02/06/05 – Adams Distances SF From Robbery

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

EX 02/06/05 Adams Distances Sinn Féin From Robbery
IT 02/07/05 Report On Raid To Test Attempts To Calm Crisis In North
IO 02/07/05 SF Thinks It's Above The Law, Claims SDLP's McGrady
EX 02/07/05 Opin: Masterminds Wouldn’t Rob A Local Currency
IT 02/07/05 Fears For Future Of Killybegs Fishing Industry

Northern Ireland Rights Commission under scrutiny - Dr Rachel Murray, reader in Law at Bristol University, outlines the results of research into the Human Rights Commission which found it less than effective

Search Continues Off Clare Coast


Adams' concern at IRA statements -Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, is the latest to take part in a series of interviews with party leaders

Historian Brian Feeney examines what is going on inside the republican movement

Adams Distances Sinn Féin From Robbery

By Michael O’Farrell, Political Reporter

SINN FÉIN president Gerry Adams yesterday sought to shift the focus of attention away from the Northern Bank robbery fallout in advance of the publication of the latest International Monitoring Commission’s (IMC) report this week.

Although Mr Adams again denied the December heist was the work of the IRA, the IMC report, which was received by both Governments last week, is expected to finger the IRA and propose some form of punishment against Sinn Féin.

Despite the IMC findings it is not expected that the Government will seek to impose sanctions against Sinn Féin.

Shrugging aside questions as to whether he thought the £26.5m robbery was a crime, Mr Adams was anxious to stress that Sinn Féin would no longer act as an interpreter for the IRA.

"Our willingness to do that in a positive way to provide a conduit has been used and abused," he said.

However Mr Adams tempered that statement by saying he would, if sensible suggestions are made, continue "to use whatever influence we have to try to bring this peace process to fruition."

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme, Mr Adams denied that Sinn Féin was shirking from accepting any responsibility for the current impasse following December's raid and last week's terse IRA withdrawal of its conditional offer to decommission all its weapons. "I never said that Sinn Féin have all the answers. But Sinn Féin will not be held accountable for the IRA.

"And Sinn Féin will especially not be held accountable for alleged activity by the IRA."

Although he accused the Irish Government of going off "in a huff", Mr Adams called on all sides to work on resolving the problems at hand in order to re-establish a viable peace process.

Asked whether the murder of Jean McConville was a crime something controversially denied by Sinn Féin chairman Mitchel McLaughlin Mr Adams again sought to shift focus.

"The focus is to make sure that nobody else is killed. The focus has to be about trying to make sure that all of the horrors that some of us have been lucky enough to survive are not visited on anyone else."

Mr Adams also called on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to "take charge of the process."

Also yesterday the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Sean Brady, said the Northern Bank robbery damaged the trust that had been built up throughout the process.


Report On Raid To Test Attempts To Calm Crisis In North

Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent

Government attempts to tone down the bitter public exchanges with Sinn Féin will be tested this week by renewed criticism of the provisional republican movement from the International Monitoring Commission and in the Dáil.

The Cabinet will tomorrow consider a new report from the International Monitoring Commission (IMC) which is believed to blame the IRA for the Northern Bank raid. The report, which is to be made public on Thursday, is expected to recommend sanctions against Sinn Féin.

The weekly Cabinet meeting will also decide whether to support a Fine Gael Private Members' Motion, to be debated in the Dáil tomorrow and voted upon on Wednesday. The motion calls on the IRA to decommission all its weapons and end criminal activity. It will be supported from speakers from the main opposition parties, and possibly from the Government parties, who will be highly critical of both Sinn Féin and the IRA.

Both the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs have spoken of the need to move forward, with Mr Dermot Ahern saying it was a time for "cool heads".

Yesterday the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, also urged all participants in the political process "to calm down, to think about the future, to get over whatever hurt or perceived hurt there is over this row" and to get the peace process back on track.

He made these apparently conciliatory remarks the day after he said the British and Irish governments "need to dig their heads out of their asses".

The Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, suggested all parties should "heed what Archbishop Brady said and that is not to use confrontational language, inflammatory language and abusive language of that kind".

He said "the provisional movement have to now address serious issues around decommissioning, paramilitarism and criminality", and being abusive about members of the Government and the Government itself did not help.

In an interview yesterday on RTÉ's This Week, Mr Adams said Sinn Féin's position was that it was not going to interpret IRA statements. He did not suggest that this was because of any differences within the republican movement, but because Sinn Féin's past willingness to interpret what the IRA said had been "used and abused".

He said: "Sinn Féin will not be accountable for the IRA, and Sinn Féin especially will not be held accountable for alleged activity by the IRA. You have this bank robbery nonsense - the truth is nobody knows who did the bank robbery except the people who did it."

The British government must decide after the IMC report is published whether to impose sanctions on Sinn Féin arising from the expected finding that the IRA robbed the Northern Bank. The most likely sanction would be a cut in salaries paid to Sinn Féin members of the Northern Assembly.

Mr McDowell yesterday repeated the Government's view that such sanctions would be "a side show The Taoiseach and myself have discussed this at length, that one of the problems with imposing sanctions on the IRA is that it is purely symbolic, and they take advantage of these symbolic sanctions to claim that they are being discriminated against and to go further into victim mode."

It was a distraction from the attempt to get them to face up to their own problems, he said.

He said he did not accept the picture often painted of the Sinn Féin leadership as being a "conduit to harder-line people".

"The Provisionals have a single set of beliefs. That set of beliefs involves the rather fanciful view, but it is the one held by all of them, that the army council is the supreme lawful authority on this island. As long as they are stuck in that mind set and that time warp they have a serious problem."

© The Irish Times


SF Thinks It's Above The Law, Claims SDLP's McGrady
2005-02-06 19:10:02+00

Sinn Féin was accused today of thinking republicans were above the law and didn't have to live by the same rules as everyone else.

As the Northern Ireland political process remained in crisis following the pre-Christmas Northern Bank robbery, there was no let up in the blame game.

SDLP MP Eddie McGrady said today that Sinn Féin clearly "thinks that the provisions are above the law. That they don't have to live by the same rules as the rest of us and are entitled to do what they like".

Sinn Féin, like his own party, talked about equality, he said. "The difference is that we believe in it - Sinn Féin don't. They think that the basic laws of decency and morality must apply equally to all of us but don't apply to them.

"The governments have to send the strong message that nobody is above the law. Not the police. Not loyalists. And not the IRA."

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was again blaming Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party for the perilous state of the peace process.

Brushing off blame from republicans, he admitted the bank raid had caused huge problems, but said the peace process was in crisis before the heist.

In Belfast, he said: "The crisis in this process didn't start with this bank robbery, the crisis came when the huge effort we made for the previous 12 months almost came to fruition in December.

"We had the IRA prepared to put its weapons beyond use before Christmas, order its volunteers to move to a new mode.

"The leadership was prepared to actively support a comprehensive agreement and that is where the crisis came and Ian Paisley's response was 'That isn't good enough, we need the IRA humiliated'."


Masterminds Wouldn’t Rob A Local Currency

TO be a ‘good’ robber one must rob something negotiable.

The idea that the IRA masterminded the Belfast bank raid only to end up with large denomination new notes of one of Europe’s most localised currencies is unbelievable.

This might yet become known as the Great Waste Paper Robbery. Before Christmas it was essential to the peace process that the IRA made a statement to deny any involvement in crime.

Now, when a statement has been made denying involvement in this crime, it does not seem to carry much weight, particularly with those who requested a statement in the first place.

A successful Sinn Féin is a greater danger politically to Fianna Fáil than to any other party. It is going to take strong leadership to put peace ahead of other political considerations.

Intelligent discussion rather than political point-scoring will be essential.

Let us hope we have put the right people in place to do this.

Donnaca Kennedy
Co Leitrim


Fears For Future Of Killybegs Fishing Industry

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

South Donegal is facing up to 1,000 job losses and the collapse of a skills base due to the Government's apparent "death wish" in relation to Killybegs, according to business interests in the region.

The Fine Gael marine spokesman, Mr John Perry, has tabled a priority Dáil question for tomorrow in which he asks if it is now Government policy to close down the fishing industry on the west coast.

A combination of over-regulation, a ban on night-time landings and increased charges in the State's new €55 million harbour are forcing Irish supertrawlers to land mackerel catches in Norway and Scotland.

Mr Perry said EU regulations have driven whitefish vessels out of business, new safety measures are squeezing smaller operators, and a deepwater fishery specifically nurtured by the EU and State through vessel grants has also been closed down.

The current Garda investigation into irregularities in landings at various west coast ports is almost a side-issue, at a time when the number of seasonal jobs in fish processing in Killybegs has dropped from 1,500 two years ago at the height of the mackerel fishery to 150, Mr Perry says.

The Scottish port of Peterhead has undertaken significant expansion to accommodate Irish vessels that can no longer afford to land into Irish factories, he says.

Even operators of Donegal vessels, who made a conscious decision to try and keep local fish plants going, are being faced with no option but to land elsewhere, according to Mr Martin Howley, chairman of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation (KFO). "It's as if the Department has a death wish for the industry," he said.

The impact on up to 1,000 people who normally combine small farming with fish factory employment could cost the State almost €9.5 million annually, a new business group for the region has forecast.

The recently formed South Donegal Chamber of Commerce led by Mr Art Kavanagh, manager of Allied Irish Banks in Killybegs, hopes to meet the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr Martin, on the issue.

It has calculated that the income tax lost from 1,000 pay packets amounts to €1.6 million over a year, and unemployment benefit paid to the same group would cost €7,737,600 - costing the State almost €9.5 million annually. The area cannot sustain the enormous socio-economic impact of such job losses, and the stripping of an invaluable skills base from the marine industry, according to Mr Kavanagh.

The financier maintains that no other region on this island has invested so much private capital in its own future. It is not just Killybegs, but the hinterland comprising Kilcar, Carrick, Ardara, Dungloe and towns stretching from Sligo in the south to Letterkenny in the north that have been affected by the downturn.

The whitefish fleet has been in trouble for several years, but the first problems arose last year for the pelagic (mackerel/herring) fleet when the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources introduced a ban on night-time landings, due to a cut in overtime pay among inspectors. An EU directive on weighing fish has resulted in water being weighed as part of the catch - a situation that occurs only in Ireland and no other EU member-state, according to Mr Howley.

Harbour dues also increased last year, shortly before the State's new €55 million deepwater berth was opened.

The Fine Gael senator, Mr Paul Coghlan, has queried the Government's handling of the Garda investigation into alleged irregularities and collusion with departmental staff. He challenged the decision to mount what he described as "Hawaii-Five-O style" raids on fishermen's homes, when most of the information was available in factories and in the Department's own files.

The South Donegal Chamber of Commerce says the Garda inquiry is not within its remit. However, business leaders point out Spain was recently found by the European Court of Justice to have broken Common Fisheries Policy rules for seven years.

A Department spokesman said a compromise between processors and vessels on weighing fish intended to deal with the "water as fish" issue, and the EU was also examining the directive.

Irish pelagic vessels had traditionally landed in Norway and Scotland when the fish stocks were in those areas, he said, and it was ultimately a choice made by Irish skippers. The night-time landings ban had not been resolved, he confirmed.

© The Irish Times

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Feb 2005
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