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February 23, 2005

02/23/05 – Adams Calls For McCartney Witnesses To Come Forward

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

IO 02/23/05 Adams Calls For McCartney Witnesses To Come Forward
UT 02/23/05 Family Meet Ahern
UT 02/23/05 Sinn Fein In 'Rogue Members' Call
BT 02/23/05 Penalties On SF As Ahern Says Split Worth Risk
BN 02/23/05 Probed Irishmen "Lodged BGN 180,000" In Bulgarian Banks
IO 02/23/05 Unionists Slam More Power To Parades Commission
IO 02/23/05 Ahern Slams FF Councillor Who Sought McDowell Resigning
BT 02/23/05 Shamrock Has Had Its Patrick's Day
SM 02/23/05 Anger At University Invite to Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair
BB 02/23/05 Maze Could Become Leisure Mecca

RT 02/23/05 Political Fall-Out Continues From Crisis -AO
RT 02/23/05 Gerry Adams Defends His Party –AO

(Poster’s Note: Listen to Adams below. He, as always, is remarkably cool under fire. Jay)

Political Fall-Out Continues From Crisis In Peace Process - Dermot Ahern, Minister for Foreign Affairs, discusses the political landscape as calls continue for the republican movement to reject criminality

Gerry Adams, President Of Sinn Féin, Defends His Party from ongoing criticism from other political quarters


Adams Calls For McCartney Murder Witnesses To Come Forward
2005-02-23 09:40:03+00

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams today repeated calls for witnesses with information on the murder of Belfast man Robert McCartney to go to the PSNI "if they have no problem with them".

Thirty-three-year-old Robert was beaten and stabbed to death on January 30, allegedly by senior IRA members.

Mr Adams said today: "I want anybody who can help the McCartney family to help them. Sinn Féin is totally opposed to what happened to the McCartney family."

Foreign Affairs minister Dermot Ahern said ahead of a meeting today with the McCartney family: "It's a testimony to the courage of the McCartney family that they have gone so public in relation to this in difficult circumstances, not least the trauma of losing a loved one.''

He said the murder typified the failure to uphold law and order in Northern Ireland on both sides and he called for nationalists to commit to community policing.

"I don't accept anymore that it is a fear of the PSNI. We need some leadership in the nationalist community, particularly from Sinn Féin leaders, in regard to the adherence to normal community policing."


McCartney Family Meet Ahern

The family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney meet Dublin politicians today in a bid to find justice for his killers.

By:Press Association

The father-of-two was viciously beaten and stabbed more than three weeks ago but alleged IRA intimidation of more than 70 witnesses has stunted the PSNI investigation.

Mr McCartney`s relatives will meet Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern and other party leaders.

Green party chief Trevor Sargent today said he hoped the meeting would progress the PSNI investigation into Mr McCartney`s grisly murder.

"They are a very courageous family and have taken a brave stand against the bullies in their community," he said.

"I hope to pass on the overwhelming support of my party that they will achieve truth and justice amidst their grief."

Earlier this week, Mr McCartney`s sister Paula said she was considering standing against Sinn Fein as an independent in May`s local government elections.

A recent IRA statement said that no obstacle should block attempts to achieve justice in the case, but the police investigation has still not been advanced.


Sinn Fein In 'Rogue Members' Call

Sinn Fein has repeated its calls for rogue members to leave the party immediately so there can be a speedy implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

By:Press Association

But parliamentary leader Caoimhghin O Caolain refused to admit if his ultimatum was a significant shift in the party`s position in relation to its alleged links with criminality.

Speaking on RTE`s Primetime last night, Mr O Caolain reiterated an earlier Dail statement that activists engaged in criminal activities outside the legitimate political norm "should leave the party today".

He said of his Dail statement: "I certainly intended it to be as clear and as unambiguous as I could possible deliver.

"It is addressing many audiences but I hope that not only all of the elected opinion represented in Leinster House, but indeed republican opinion the length and breadth of the island will take note of what I have said.

"I`ve made it clear today. I`ve made it clear and clearer I believe than I`ve ever done before that we`re working towards an end to the Irish Republican Army."

"All of the years of hard work leading up to the Good Friday Agreement and since has created great frustration for the Sinn Fein leadership, as much and perhaps more than any other opinion on this island and we want to see a conclusion to all of this reached and reached speedily."

The Cavan/Monaghan TD was speaking amid mounting pressure facing the party to denounce criminality and sever all links with the IRA after a vast money-laundering cash racket was smashed by police last week.

The British government today extended financial sanctions against Sinn Fein`s Stormont MLAs and announced the possible withdrawal of parliamentary allowances for the party`s Westminster MPs next week.


Penalties On SF As Ahern Says Split Worth Risk

By Bernard Purcell, Louise McCall and Conor Sweeney
23 February 2005

The British government tried to walk a political tightrope yesterday in punishing Sinn Fein for IRA criminality while refraining from expelling them from the political process.

And Taoiseach Bertie told them they must risk a split in the provision movement if it wants to get back into the peace process.

The proposed British government punishment is the continued suspension for one more year of the block grant the party receives for its membership of the Stormont Assembly and the threat of losing the expenses paid to the party's four Westminster MPs since 2001.

It follows the International Monitoring Commission's (IMC's) interim report which blamed the IRA for the Northern Bank raid and several other major robberies and said it was done with the blessing of senior Sinn Fein figures.

But Northern Secretary Paul Murphy was immediately criticised for not going far enough.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble demanded a new power-sharing administration in Belfast, with republicans barred.

Mr Murphy said the British government will table a resolution before MPs "in the weeks to come" enabling them to withdraw for a year the generous expenses and allowances received by Sinn Fein MPs Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Pat Doherty and Michelle Gildernew.

The MPs - who never took their seats but did take their offices - do not draw salaries but the combined expenses and allowances are worth up to £140,000 to each MP.

The proposed penalties announced yesterday would amount to a potential total of £500,000.

Mr Murphy said he would give Sinn Fein until Tuesday to persuade him why the sanctions, which he admitted many people would find very light, should not be imposed.

With about six weeks left of this parliament before the Britain's general election anticipated on May 5, the punishment can at best have only very limited financial impact but is seen as symbolic.

Mr Murphy said he understood why some would consider the sanctions did not send out a tough enough signal.

But focusing on excluding Sinn Fein from the political process would thwart efforts to create "long-term stability".

In Brussels, Mr Ahern said the party must end all its links with criminality, even if that triggers a split.

He stressed that he does not want to see a split but insisted that Sinn Fein must make up its mind on the issue, before there is any hope of pressing on with the peace process.

If that means leaving some of its supporters behind, it is a risk the party must take, he told the Irish Independent.

"We don't want that (a split)," he said.

"We would rather the republican movement comes in its totality," said Mr Ahern.

"But, if there are people who won't abide by that principle, then Sinn Fein will have to decide if those people can continue in it.,But when asked if ending criminality could cause a split within the republican movement, he admitted it could but said that this was something Sinn Fein had to confront.

Mr Ahern was speaking in Brussels where he was attending a summit between EU leaders and US President George Bush.


Probed Irishmen "Lodged BGN 180,000" In Bulgarian Banks

Politics: 23 February 2005, Wednesday.

The investigated over IRA money laundry Irish businessmen have lodged two sums of money, GBP 58,000 and EUR 2,400, in bank accounts they opened during their visit to Bulgarian.

Local 24 Chasa reported that Ted Cunningham and former Government aide Phil Flynn have been accompanied by another two Irish citizens during their tip to Bulgaria.

The newspaper is also reporting that the group registered three companies, Alexander Finance, Bulgarian Property & Development and Addison.

According to the report the Irish group rented space in an office block in downtown Sofia.

Bulgaria's Financial Investigation Agency said it was also investigating the money laundering allegations, but dismissed reports that suggested the IRA was planning to buy a bank or set up its own financial institution.

Just a day earlier Bulgaria's Finance Ministry confirmed the meeting of Flynn with Deputy Finance Minister that Ilia Lingorski, who is in charge of foreign inward investment. The ministry insisted, however, that it was normal practice for him to meet with potential investors and said any discussions concerned only the "general business environment".

The IRA's "colossal" money laundering business has been unravelled after Irish security services spotted a Bulgarian arms dealer at a meeting in Ireland.

Police believe the Bulgarian bank would have been used to launder the estimated 30 million pounds a year the IRA receives from counterfeiting, robberies, extortion, racketeering and smuggling, the paper also reads


Unionists Slam Plan To Give Parades Commission More Power
2005-02-23 08:40:03+00

Unionists have criticised the British government's decision to give the Parades Commission extra powers to restrict loyalist marches in the North.

Yesterday, Britain announced new laws giving the commission jurisdiction over the hangers-on that traditionally accompany Orange Order marches.

The new law follows a High Court ruling last year that the commission had jurisdiction over Orangemen and bands involved in parades, but not the hundreds of supporters who normally accompany them.

That ruling led to violence in the nationalist Ardoyne area when the PSNI decided to allow a loyalist mob to march past a flashpoint area after bands and Orangemen had been bussed through the area in line with a Parades Commission ruling.

Responding to the new law, Ulster Unionist MP Sylvia Hermon said it was an outrageous increase in the commission's powers, while DUP Assemblyman Nelson McCausland said such powers should not be given to a commission that had made many "appalling" rulings.


Ahern Slams FF Councillor Who Sought McDowell Resignation

23/02/2005 - 11:10:58

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has criticised Fianna Fáil Councillor Noreen Ryan for calling on Justice Minister Michael McDowell to resign.

The Limerick County Councillor said yesterday that Mr McDowell should step down because of his claim that named Sinn Féin leaders are members of the IRA army council.

Ms Ryan said the minister made the accusation without producing any evidence.

However, speaking in the Dail this morning, Mr Ahern said Ms Ryan's comments were wrong.

"Obviously, this is a person who doesn't what they're talking about," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahern also insisted that the Government was united in its approach to the peace process and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

He was responding to questions from Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who suggested there may have been a spilt in government ranks over attitudes to Sinn Féin.


Shamrock Has Had Its Patrick's Day

By Aideen Sheehan
23 February 2005

Saint Patrick would have turned in his grave - shamrock now has to be imported from Canada as difficulties in getting seed and weakening demand puts traditional growers out of business.

The wearing of the green is no longer in vogue with Irish youngsters making shamrock-growing a dying trade.

North county Dublin grower Matt Thorne can testify to that. He has scaled back production from several greenhouses to just a few pots.

Eight to 10 years ago, shamrock seed became hard to get here. Even imports from New Zealand - a traditional source, appearing to dry up, he said. "It's a dying trade, there's not many wearers any more."

Zealous customs checks for illegal drugs and a ban on exports of rooted plants meant the short-lived cut shamrock couldn't survive the delays of international trade, he claimed.

Mackey's Garden Centre in Sandycove is one of the few places selling shamrock seed. Manager Breda Roseingrave said they had to import it from Canada, but only in small packets for home gardeners, not commercial growers.

The reason is that shamrock is not a real category of plant, but a smaller-leafed variety of clover.


Anger At University Invitation For Adair

By Lynn Mcpherson

TERRORIST Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair has been invited to make an address to Oxford University students - sparking anger.

The freed loyalist chief was approached by the university's debating society to join a list of past speakers which includes the Dalai Lama, O J Simpson and Michael Jackson.

Adair - based in the north of England after being forced to flee Northern Ireland - turned down the booking.

But last night there was criticism the violent criminal had been offered such a platform.

Although the appearance would be non-fee-paying, it would generate publicity for Adair, who has acquired an 'agent' since his release.

The Crimebiz website run by Steve Richards advertises Adair's services for hire.

Last night, Mr Richards said: 'Johnny didn't take up the offer as he has only had a few weeks of freedom and wants to spend more time with his family, just settling down.

'We have to look for the best in these people. If they are paying taxes and putting money back into society, that can only be a good thing.'

But last night, Paul Fawcett of Victim Support, said: 'We don't think highly of people profiting from their offences.'

Oxford University Union spokesman Jonathan Bailey said: 'We try to provide speakers from a range of political backgrounds.'


Maze Could Become Leisure Mecca

By Gareth Gordon
BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent

Once it was a potent symbol of Northern Ireland's divisons - a place of bitter conflict, murder and political protest to the death.

Now the site of the notorious Maze Prison could be transformed into the biggest leisure complex in Ireland.

The province's warring politicians have finally agreed on one thing - a way to develop the 360-acre site so that it can become a beacon for the future - while still enshrining, forever, its own troubled past.

Ever since the final prisoner left in September 2000, arguments have raged about what to do with the prison site.

Unionists wanted it levelled in case it became a shrine to republican resistance.

Republicans wanted at least part of the original prison retained as a museum and educational campus.

The government wanted all-party agreement before deciding on the Maze's future.

Now, after months of tortuous negotiations involving politicians from the four main parties, the Maze Consultation Panel has come up with a unanimous report which has compromise at its heart.

It will be regarded by government as a major success at a time when all other political deals are off the table and the political process is in crisis.

The prospects for a modern stadium which would be home to the Northern Ireland soccer team, the Ulster rugby team as well as various GAA fixtures, have never been better

The panel's vision is for a 30,000 seater stadium to stage soccer, rugby and, crucially, gaelic matches.

The government has always insisted it would only pay for the £55m arena if it was inclusive - hence their insistence that the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) would be part of it.

The problem for the GAA was that, in the words of one Sinn Fein politician and former IRA prisoner, Paul Butler, "no GAA player would play on the rubble of the H-blocks and in particular the hospital wing where 10 republicans died on hunger strike".

But this plan gets around that. The stadium - if and when it is built - will be on the site of the old Army camp at the Maze and not the part of the site where the prison was housed.

Under the panel's plan, the hospital wing would be retained as part of an International Centre for Conflict Transformation.

The centre would also have one remaining H-block - H6 - as well as the former prison's administration block and emergency control room.

There are also plans to have a major international equestrian centre and showgrounds and, possibly, an indoor arena.

It is understood the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society - which draws thousands of people to the Balmoral Show at its present base in south Belfast every May - has expressed an interest in moving to the Maze.

There would be a zone for industrial development, a hotel, bars and restaurants and playing fields for other sports.

Road and rail links would be upgraded to bring fans to events at the stadium.

The panel claims it could bring in £1bn of investment from the public and private sector.

But the negotiations have been painfully slow.

The government feared the collapse of political talks on devolution, and the subsequent Northern Bank robbery - blamed on the IRA - could scupper the Maze plan.

One source said: "It was like an episode of the TV programme One Man and His Dog. Just as we were close to getting them all in the pen someone always made a run for it."

Now that it appears everyone has at last been rounded up, the prospects for a modern stadium which would be home to the Northern Ireland soccer team, the Ulster rugby team as well as various GAA fixtures, have never been better.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/23 07:13:39 GMT

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005
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