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February 11, 2005

02/12/05 – Kennedy Says Parties Must Act Responsibly

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

IT 02/12/05 Sntr Kennedy Says Parties Have Duty To Act Responsibly
IT 02/12/05 Russia Calls For Human-Rights Mission To N Ireland
IC 02/11/05 Gerry Kelly Slams Report
IT 02/12/05 Days Of Creative Ambiguity Reach Their Conclusion
NL 02/11/05 Orangemen Set To March On St Paddy's Day In Cork
IT 02/12/05 Angler Fined €50 For Fishing On Duke's River
IT 02/12/05 Jack Lynch Tunnel Closed After Truck Hits Entrance

NW 02/11/05 Japanese Man Finds Love In Ireland –VO
NW 02/11/05 Former Priest Runs Offaly Food Business –VO
NW 02/11/05 St Valentine's Day Gifts -VO

Japanese Man Finds Love In Ireland - Rowan Hand meets a Japanese man whose journey around the world took him to Ireland

Former Priest Runs Offaly Food Business - Geraldine Harney looks at the story of a priest whose life was changed after a chance meeting in Argentina

St Valentine's Day Gifts - Maria Mullarkey reports on the most popular St Valentine's day gifts


Senator Kennedy Says Parties Have Duty To Act Responsibly

Senior US politicians have declared their support for continued dialogue with Sinn Féin but stressed that inviting the party to the White House on St Patrick's Day was a matter for President Bush. Deaglán de Bréadún, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, reports.

Senator Edward Kennedy, speaking in advance of a meeting in his office in Washington D.C. with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, told reporters: "There is a general recognition here in the US that political parties have to act responsibly and that there can't be a paramilitary association."

Emphasising that there was "a good deal of anxiety and concern" in the US about the Northern Bank raid, he said the peace process should nevertheless continue. "Even with all of the challenges that we face, all of us want to see this process move forward.

"It's really the only way, based upon the Good Friday agreement. It's going to take men and women of continued commitment, dedication and leadership to see that process continue to move forward."

However, the question of who should be invited to the St Patrick's Day reception was a matter for the White House.

"They make independent judgments and decisions." But he pointed out that there was "a lot to talk about" with all the parties from Northern Ireland.

© The Irish Times


Russia Calls For Human-Rights Mission To Northern Ireland

A fact-finding mission should look into the "disproportionate" use of force by police and soldiers in Northern Ireland, Russian officials have told a closed-door meeting at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna.

Diplomats say Russia dislikes the security and human-rights watchdog's criticism of its democratic and human rights record.

The OSCE "should conduct an in-depth study of all the circumstances surrounding the current exacerbation of this long-standing conflict," Russia's acting permanent envoy to the OSCE, Mr Boris Timokhov, said. Russia has been criticised for its rights record in Chechnya, where it is fighting separatist rebels.

Mr Timokhov told the OSCE on Thursday that Russia was concerned at the situation in Northern Ireland after the IRA withdrew an offer to disarm earlier this month. The mission should consider "the acts of terrorism and the instances of a disproportionate use of armed force by the army and the police that have occurred there", he said.

Britain's ambassador rejected the statement on excessive force. "There are many problems in Northern Ireland, but use of excessive force is not one of them," Mr Colin Munro said in his response.

Ireland's ambassador said the added value of an OSCE mission was "not immediately apparent". - (Reuters)

© The Irish Times


SF Slams Report

North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has slammed the latest report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), which states that senior members of Sinn Féin sanctioned robberies, including the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery.

The IMC’s fourth report into the Northern Bank Robbery was published today [Thursday].

In the report it states: “In our view Sinn Féin must bear its share of responsibility for all the incidents. Some of its senior members who are also senior members of the PIRA were involved in sanctioning the series of robberies.”

The report agrees with PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde who claimed the IRA was behind the robbery earlier this year.

“We have carefully scrutinising all the material… which leads us to conclude firmly that it was planned and undertaken by the PIRA”.

Speaking to the North Belfast News on Thursday afternoon Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Justice and Policing said the credibility of the IMC was at stake.

“Let’s deal with the IMC as a body itself. It is not independent. Let’s use the words of IMC member Dick Kerr who said ‘the [British] government can use us, there’s no question’.

“He also said the IMC has no independent investigative methods.

“They deal in reportage, and they get their information from the same funnel of information, which is the PSNI, and which is not trusted by Nationalists.

“We now have this IMC report and we know that their information comes from the same PSNI funnel. We knew they were going to support Huge Orde.

“Bertie Ahern is against sanctions, but this is not good enough, we need to know if the Irish Government as an equal co-partner in this peace process, is going to block such sanctions.

“Sanctions have been used before, they do not work. Let’s deal with the peace process, let’s get it back on track. This type of confrontational approach doesn’t work.

“All they have done is add to the excuses the DUP use to walk way from power sharing and equality.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee


Days Of Creative Ambiguity Reach Their Conclusion

Where we are now in the peace process, we have never been before, writes Mark Brennock.

During every crisis in the peace process in the past decade it has been customary for optimists to say we've been here before and everything will be all right in the end. But where we are now is somewhere we have not been before.

It is not just that we have recently seen the bitterest exchanges between the Government and Sinn Féin since the peace process began. Some of those engaged in these rhetorical flights must come under suspicion of over-acting: there was an element of Clint Eastwood about Mr Gerry Adams's "come on guys, arrest me" speech outside Leinster House on Thursday.

What is new is that we are in a phase of the peace process in which there appears to be no room for fudge any more. The Irish and British governments and all political parties - barring Sinn Féin of course - are demanding that the IRA's violent and criminal activities end before politics progresses any further.

Since mid-January, the Taoiseach, ably aided by the Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, has led an unprecedented public onslaught on Sinn Féin and the IRA.

It consisted initially of the repeated unequivocal assertion that the IRA robbed the Northern Bank and that the Sinn Féin leadership knew about it beforehand. It became quickly focused on a simple but ambitious demand: that the IRA end all paramilitary and criminal activity and sign up to an unequivocal pledge to stay away from such behaviour in the future.

This new stance marks nothing less than a fundamental break with the tolerance of fudge and ambiguity, qualities deliberately deployed for 10 years to help the process along.

The governments and other optimists had always hoped the process that began with the 1994 IRA ceasefire would lead to Sinn Féin fully entering the political process, and its IRA associates permanently winding up violent and criminal activities.

Peace process supporters recognised that leading such dramatic change in a dangerous and heavily armed organisation was not easy.

So a period of creative ambiguity followed. The ceasefire broke down completely with the Canary Wharf bomb. When it was restored in 1997 it was far from perfect. Kneecappings and punishment shootings continued, alleged criminals were "exiled" from nationalist areas under threat of death, robberies and other fund raising activities continued.

But a blind eye, or at least a poorly sighted one, was deliberately turned to these activities while the political leaders wriggled their way around and over and under every blockage during the painfully slow political evolution. Sinn Féin steadily grew in electoral strength and found itself at the government table in Northern Ireland.

The problem was that Sinn Féin growth was not accompanied by an equally steady IRA decline. Gerry Adams's statement on the IRA in the early days of the process - "they haven't gone away, you know" - has been replaced by a growing concern that they have no plans to go away, you know.

Sinn Féin leaders say this is wrong, pointing to the IRA's pre-Christmas offer to dispose of all its weapons and enter a "new mode" in which its members would not "engage in any activity which might thereby endanger the new agreement". This, famously, fell short of the Government's demand that the IRA sign up to a form of words including a commitment "not to endanger anyone's personal rights and safety". But Sinn Féin leaders have claimed its offer showed it was indeed prepared to go away.

It was always the Government that was most indulgent of Sinn Féin and the IRA's activities on the side. Bertie Ahern's personal credibility with the British and US governments as a sure-footed reader of the peace process meant others followed his lead when he seemed willing to tolerate the double-life of republicans in the pursuit of the great prize.

The failure of the December talks was the second last straw. Sinn Féin was right to say the demand for photographs of decommissioning was a new demand inserted by the DUP. But they know by now that every time they fail to make a required move away from violence, the demands on them next time around are higher.

The Taoiseach's patience was just about gone when, for the third time, an almost completed historic deal evaporated as Sinn Féin and the IRA failed to come up with everything the governments and other parties required of them. Mr McDowell's skilful public elucidation of the "no criminality" requirement that had been put to the IRA, and its failure to sign up for it, was easily and widely understood.

And then came the Northern Bank raid, perfectly illustrating Mr McDowell's point. As the Taoiseach put it he, the trusting leader who had done everything to help Sinn Féin, was negotiating with Sinn Féin's leaders while those same people knew a major bank robbery was being planned. He wasn't going to take it any more.

In recent weeks, the Taoiseach and Mr Dermot Ahern's careful leaving open of the door to Sinn Féin has been contrasted with Mr McDowell's robust and unrelenting rhetorical confrontation of what he calls "the provisional movement".

There were indeed different emphases last month. But the Taoiseach and Mr McDowell are on the same message. Both now use the exact same phrase ("the ball is in their court") to say it is up to Sinn Féin to come up with proposals to convince them it is ending violence and criminality. Both say they oppose sanctions on Sinn Féin or any solution that excludes it.

It is not that one is hard and one soft, it's that the message has hard and soft elements.

It was the Minister for Justice who most recently restated the soft bit - Government's opposition to sanctions against Sinn Féin, and asked that party for proposals to bring it back into the centre of political discussion. The Taoiseach regularly restates the hard bit: there can be no progress until the violence and criminality are sorted out.

Nobody expects any serious political movement until after a British general election expected in May, and probably not until after the summer.

In the meantime, a British Irish Inter-governmental Council meeting on March 2nd will discuss various security, equality and human rights issues; Irish Ministers are expected to be seen more often in the North pursuing north-south co-operation issues; there will be continued highlighting of outstanding parts of the Belfast Agreement; and dialogue will continue between the Government and various Northern parties.

But the pressure on Sinn Féin and the IRA will continue.

The peace process goes on, but the Government has decided that "creative ambiguity" has outlived its usefulness.

© The Irish Times


Orangemen Set To March On St Paddy's Day In Cork

By Alastair Bushe
Friday 11th February 2005

The Orange Order might not be welcome in certain parts of Northern Ireland but the people of Cork seemingly have no inhibitions about having Orangemen on their doorsteps.

The organisers of Cork's St Patrick's Day festival have invited the Order to march through its city centre on March 17, an offer the Institution says it has been "delighted" to receive.

Senior Institution officers are to meet to approve arrangements and if the logistics permit, Orangemen should be marching south on March 17.

"The Orange Order have indeed received an approach from the organisers of the Cork festival. No decision has been made on the exact level of involvement they might have at that particular festival," said an Order spokesperson.

"We get a lot of approaches from the south, from the President downwards, and the number of these approaches is increasing. We try to respond where appropriate.

"We have been delighted to receive the offer and it's now a matter of seeing who is available to go down there."

The spokesperson stressed that if " inclusiveness" is to be achieved throughout Ireland, the traditions of the Orange Order would have to be "recognised".

He added: "We are delighted the festival organisers in Cork feel that way and we would be happy to have the people of Cork know more about our traditions. A decision will be made soon by the senior officers in the Institution."

It is believed that if the Orange Order makes the trip, Belfast City Council will be asked to fund the visit under the Lagan to the Lee programme. This is a pact established between Belfast and Cork last year to promote greater partnership between the two cities.

News that the Order would probably receive funding for the trip has attracted criticism from Sinn Fein.

Its representatives have pointed out the council only recently turned down a request for funding from St Patrick's Day carnival organisers to stage a free outdoor concert at Belfast City Hall on March 17.


Angler Fined €50 For Fishing On Duke's River

A fisherman found illegally fishing on a part of the River Blackwater owned by the Duke of Devonshire was fined €50 yesterday at Cappoquin District Court, Co Waterford.

The court also heard of a dispute about the alleged unfair exclusion of some local people from an angling club which gets public funding.

Michael (Milo) O'Shea, a glass factory worker from Ballycoe, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, contested the charge at a previous sitting of the court last June where his defence solicitor, Mr Paddy Gordon, asserted that the Duke of Devonshire did not own the rights to tidal waters on the River Blackwater.

However, Judge James McNulty upheld the decision that the duke owned the stretch of the river, a decision dating back to the House of Lords in England in 1882.

He found in favour of the prosecution to prosecute O'Shea for illegal fishing at Kilbree West on July 5th, 2003.

The matter had been adjourned to yesterday for penalties to be imposed.

The court also heard that O'Shea, along with fellow fisherman Mr Pat Ryan, Ballyneety, Dungarvan, has submitted a lengthy dossier to the Secretariat-General of the European Commission on October 18th last.

The dossier alleged that public funding given to the then Cappoquin Coarse Angling Club was not used under the conditions attached to the funding from the EU.

Mr Gordon said his client, and 30 others, were members of the club until 1999, when the club received a grant and changed its name to Cappoquin Salmon and Trout Anglers Association.

"The EU provided €133,350 of a grant in conjunction with Waterford County Council and one of the conditions is that it be made available to the public under equal opportunity of access," Mr Gordon said.

He submitted that it did not make any sense to prosecute a man who was previously a member of the club and which had received public money.

A recent application by O'Shea to join the Cappoquin anglers association was also refused by the a.g.m.

Mr Joe Lavan, prosecuting for the association, said O'Shea's membership application was only refused because he was on a waiting list behind 70 other people.

He said the club had up to 100 members, a mixture of associate members and full members.

"The club promotes fishing for Cappoquin and is a main source and asset to the town," Mr Lavan added. "The defendant was fishing illegally on the river and I would ask you to impose a penalty."

Judge McNulty noted that O'Shea had applied to the club for membership as the court had previously asked.

He said the case was proven, there was no dispute of the facts and he handed down the €50 fine.

Speaking about the alleged exclusion of people from the anglers' association, the judge remarked that "those who seek to assert their rights have an obligation to respect the rights of others".

"A man should come to court with clean hands," Judge McNulty said, "and what I have heard about public money being funded to the local fishery, it seems to this court that the club may need to think long and hard about the situation, before someone else compels them to do so."

© The Irish Times


Jack Lynch Tunnel To Remain Closed Until Monday After Truck Hits Entrance

The Jack Lynch tunnel under the river Lee in Cork will stay closed until Monday after an accident that caused four miles of tailbacks yesterday. Olivia Kelleher reports.

Motorists experienced significant delays after a truck, which was too high, struck the entrance to the tunnel.

Single-lane contraflow traffic operated in the north bore of the tunnel yesterday afternoon while the south bore was closed because of the damage.

The southbound lane is used by traffic from Dublin and Waterford.

The incident occurred at 3 p.m. when the truck crashed into the south-bound bore on the Dunkettle side of the tunnel damaging ceiling, lights and control cables.

However, there was no structural damage.

Motorists were advised to take alternative routes yesterday afternoon to avoid traffic congestion.

Nobody was injured in the incident which is under investigation.

The crash could not have happened at a worse time, with the Friday afternoon rush getting into full swing. Four miles of tailbacks occurred as frustrated motorists attempted to get to their destinations via alternative routes.

© The Irish Times

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005
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