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February 25, 2005

02/25/05 - Call For Cool Heads

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

DJ 02/25/05 McGuinness Calls For Cool Heads
IO 02/25/05 Adams Appeals For Info In McCartney Murder Hunt
IN 02/25/05 Fr McManus: Fallout From Bank Robbery Sparks Row In US
IO 02/25/05 Finucane Murderer Moves Step Closer To Early Release
IO 02/25/05 Ahern: Release Of McCabe Killers Off The Table For Good
BT 02/25/05 US To Announce Pat's Day Invites
DJ 02/25/05 Durkan Told To Put Up Or Shut Up
BT 02/25/05 We'll Talk Again With Sinn Fein: Murphy
IT 02/25/05 Time To End 'Armed Struggle', Says President
RT 02/25/05 Fears IRA May Bomb London
IO 02/25/05 Poll Uncovers Slump In Gerry Adams’ Popularity
WN 02/25/05 Republican Activists Are Blamed For Poster Blitz
EX 02/25/05 McDowell Refuses To Rule Out IRA Bulgaria Link
DJ 02/25/05 Sinn Fein Launch Paper On Irish Unity
SF 02/25/05 SF Launch Campaign For A Green Paper On Irish Unity
SF 02/25/05 Irish Govt Should Begin Planning Irish Unity
IO 02/25/05 IRA Must End Campaign To Block Impasse, Says Blair
BT 02/25/05 Church Dismisses SF Bank Denials
BB 02/25/05 McCartney Family Meets With Adams
IT 02/25/05 Dublin Bombings: Garda Not Surprised Suspect Went Free
BT 02/25/05 Next Time I'll Be Back For Good, Vows Adair
BT 02/25/05 James Shield: US Row Erupts Over Statue Of Migrant
UT 02/25/05 General NI Stadium Plan Detail
BT 02/25/05 Unionist Parties To Clash In Seat Battle
DJ 02/25/05 Derry Politicians Blast Sectarian Hatred
BT 02/25/05 Kevin Weeks: IRA-Linked Gangster Is Released In The US
BT 02/25/05 Viewpoint: Clear Message For Sinn Fein Leaders
BT 02/25/05 Analysis: Has The Propaganda Master Lost His Touch?
BT 02/25/05 Opin: Analogy Should Have Been Of Brownshirts & Provos


McGuinness Calls For Cool Heads

Friday 25th February 2005

Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness has said that it is time that journalists and politicians reflected on the consequences of naming people who have been arrested and repeating unfounded allegations.

He said: "Events over the past weeks should but probably won't have a calming effect on those who have attempted to make political gain out of the plethora of allegations, political briefings and misinformation that has been the currency of the establishment politicians and media pundits over the past couple of months.

"Last week seven people were arrested in Dublin and Cork and by teatime Thursday the media and opportunistic politicians had all of them tried and convicted. But as we now know, all of them have been released without charge. Those journalists and politicians who were so quick to condemn people solely on the basis that they were being questioned should reflect on what the consequences of their actions could have for totally innocent people.

"Of course their motivation was once more an attempt to smear Sinn Fein on foot of security briefings and in the course of that they paid no attention to the security of the individuals being accused publicly. Thankfully it is still not a crime to be arrested and released without charge or the prisons would be full of innocent people."

Martin McGuinness went on: "But it has become standard practice here following 'Intelligence' briefings for journalists and commentators to rush to judgement on events only to find out later that they had been used by ominous elements in British Intelligence circles for ulterior motives.

"No matter that that past experience should temper their approach to allegations of republican wrongdoing, reporters seem to be incapable of resisting PSNI or GardaÌ spreading stories to discredit the efforts of republicans to effect a programme for change."

He added: "But it seems that when allegations are levelled against the IRA all objectivity by commentators goes out the window. It is now eight weeks since the Bank robbery and not only has no evidence been produced to link republicans with it but it now turns out that a sum of money found at the RUC/PSNI Athletic Club at Newforge came from the bank job.

"Will the media now be as relentless at pursuing Hugh Orde and Sam Kincaid as they have been with Gerry Adams and myself? Will we see convoys of Land Rovers converging on estates housing serving and former members of the PSNI and RUC? Will the PSNI be portrayed as a 'criminal' organisation accompanied by demands for its disbandment from Mark Durkan and Michael Mc Dowell?

"No, I don't think so. Despite there being evidence it will be rationalised and explained away and quietly dropped by the same journalists and commentators who sought to criminalise republicanism without any evidence.

"But no matter how events unfold in the coming days and weeks Sinn FÈin will continue to forge ahead with our agenda to effect the change that is required in our society. We will continue to set the agenda for the future of politics on this island and we will be judged by the people of Ireland and not by our political opponents who fear the growth of Sinn Fein."


Adams Appeals For Info In McCartney Murder Hunt

25/02/2005 - 14:06:39

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has reiterated his call on anyone with information about the murder of Belfast man Robert McCartney to come forward to the authorities.

The 33-year-old was beaten and stabbed to death outside a pub in the west of the city on January 30, allegedly by senior IRA members.

His family has accepted that the killing was not an IRA operation, but has claimed witnesses are being intimidated to prevent them from providing information to the police.

The matter has led to a backlash against Sinn Féin among some of its staunchest supporters in republican west Belfast.


Fallout From Bank Robbery Sparks Row In US

Irish News. Friday, February 25, 2005

By Sharon O'Neill Chief Reporter

THE political fallout to the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery has sparked a row in Washington.

Human rights lobbyist Father Sean McManus, president of the Washington-based Irish National Caucus, is highly critical of assessments linking the IRA to the raid without providing evidence to back up the claim.

"Shame on those who did the Northern Bank robbery, and shame on those who have used that robbery (bad enough itself) to sabotage the peace process," he said.

"First, we have Hugh Orde, Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) appointing himself judge and jury - and proclaiming that the IRA did the robbery while feeling no obligation to place evidence in the public domain, much less before a court and jury.

"Second, we have the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern even outdoing Hugh Orde, by appointing himself not only judge and jury, but executioner as well.

"He charged that Sinn Fein leaders knew in advance of the alleged IRA robbery, in other words, that Sinn Fein leaders were, before and after, in fact, co-conspirators in the robbery.

"In making that remarkably irresponsible accusation Bertie Ahern thus became the executioner, the hangman of the peace process.

"And I say this as one who all across America has consistently praised Taoiseach Ahern for his previous admirable work on the peace process..."

However, Anne Smith, director of the Ulster Unionist Party's north American bureau in Washington, hit out at Fr McManus's comments.

"People should not uncritically believe everything that government should tell them. But in this case it seems to me that every source in both governments is pointing at the IRA and Sinn Fein," she said.

"It is interesting that Sean McManus immediately reacts on the other side. Sean McManus is also responding without apparent evidence on the side of Sinn Fein/IRA."


Pat Finucane Murderer Moves Step Closer To Early Release

25/02/2005 - 11:46:29

The man convicted last year of murdering Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has moved a step closer to being freed under the Good Friday Agreement after he was moved to a prison in the North.

Last September, 41-year-old UDA paramilitary Ken Barret was jailed for life by Belfast Crown Court after pleading guilty to carrying out the 1989 murder.

He was then taken to prison in England, where he would be ineligible for early release under the Good Friday Agreement.

However, his transfer to the North means he can apply to be released on licence under the terms of the 1998 peace deal.

The Finucane family have already said that they have no interest in Barrett's fate and instead want those within the "members of the British establishment who planned the murder to be brought to justice".


Ahern: ‘Release Of McCabe Killers Off The Table For Good’

25/02/2005 - 11:13:30

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has reiterated his previous vow that the release of the IRA killers of Garda Jerry McCabe is no longer on the negotiating table.

The Government had been prepared to release the IRA gang behind the 1996 killing in Adare, Co Limerick, as part of a comprehensive peace deal that fell apart at the last minute late last year.

However, it subsequently took the offer off the table after accusing the IRA of being behind the £26.5m (€38m) bank robbery in Belfast.

Speaking in Limerick this morning, Mr Ahern said: "I don't see it coming back on the table. The situation, as far as I'm concerned, is now closed on this.

"Whatever negotiations we have on the next round, this issue won't be part of those discussions."


US To Announce Pat's Day Invites

By Sean O'Driscoll
25 February 2005

The US government is expected to formally announce in the next week that none of the Northern Ireland parties will be invited to the White House for St Patrick's Day.

The State Department has said privately to Irish government officials that it was waiting for President Bush and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to return from their tour of Europe before making the announcement.

The State Department is concerned that President Bush should be shielded from any negative publicity that could arise from the decision and want them back from Europe before the statement is made.

Joe Hackett, a spokesperson for the Irish Embassy in Washington, confirmed that the final decision is to be made at the end of the tour, which finishes today.

He said that any announcement would have to be made before invitations are sent out in the first week in early March.

The statement is expected to focus on the St Patrick's Day meeting between President Bush and Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern and will not given reasons why the Northern Ireland parties are not included.


Durkan Told To Put Up Or Shut Up

Friday 25th February 2005

SDLP Leader Mark Durkan has been challenged by Sinn Fein candidate Oliver Green 'to put up or shut up' when dealing with the litany of spurious allegations levelled by the SDLP leader against Sinn Fein.

Mr. Green said: "Over the last number of weeks we have seen Mark Durkan come out with allegation after allegation and at the same time produce not one single shred of evidence to substantiate a single word he has spoken.

"In a month, in which we have seen the Colon and Maguire families finally receive a public apology for a terrible miscarriage of justice inflicted by the British state, here we have a would be leader of the Irish nationalist people stooping to the same tactics used by the British.

"Trial by media, conviction by TV and evidence by British security services. Another fair trial for Irish people?"

Mr. Green went on: "In Mark Durkan's rush to try and save his own political life, he is prepared to forgo the rights of Irish people to a fair trial, if a English policeman points a finger, then that's good enough for Mark.

"Has he and his party colleagues learnt nothing from history. Internment without trial or evidence did not work in the seventies and attempts to politically Intern the voice of the majority of Irish nationalist in the North won't work today."

He continued: "Mark Durkan and other Michael Mc Dowell type characters in the south are prepared to adopt Thatcherite polices to try and stem the rising tide of Irish Republicanism by trying to criminalise the Republican struggle, Maggie Thatcher failed and disappeared in the abyss of has beens and so will the McDowells and Durkans of today.

"When Thatcher played her last card in her attempts to defeat republican prisoners in the cold dark cells of the Long Kesh, H-Blocks, the answer she received from cold and starving men was clear and defined, "They would wear no convicts uniform, nor meekly serve their time, that Britain might call Ireland fight, 800 years of crime."

Mr. Green went on: "The reunification of Ireland which the Durkan and Mc Dowells of this world purport to support surely cannot be left in the hands of those who would stoop so low as to sell the rights of Irish people on the word of a English securocrat just to save their own political bacon.

"Mark Durkan would do well to remember that the people of Derry have lived through the dirty war and have seen the black propaganda used by the British and their lackeys, they have seen how the controlled media told the world about Bloody Sunday and ignored RUC collusion with loyalist death squads. This is Derry not Finchley Mark, people here know better."


We'll Talk Again With Sinn Fein: Murphy

By Noel McAdam
25 February 2005

The Government is to reconstitute talks with the political parties - including Sinn Fein - on the far side of the forthcoming elections.

Despite the continuing fallout from the Northern Bank heist and the looming financial sanctions against Sinn Fein - with both unionist parties signalling that any deal is off for the forseeable future - the Government still wants to attempt inclusive devolution.

But Secretary of State Paul Murphy insisted the onus is on Sinn Fein to demonstrate the IRA had given up on criminality.

"There is a case for going ahead without Sinn Fein," he told the BBC Hearts and Minds programme last night. "But it's not the ideal."

Any solution had to embrace both unionism and nationalism, and the SDLP, along with other parties, had their own alternative blueprints.

The "ultimate goal" remained the achievement of an inclusive Executive "but for that to happen the IRA must give up criminality".

Mr Murphy said he endorsed Prime Minister Tony Blair's view that "if we fail to get a solution we will have to consider other methods."

Any solution was quite unlikely ahead of the elections but the Goverment "must keep talking to all the parties".

Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey said the Government was going to bypass the 76% of voters who did not vote Sinn Fein "and await the outcome of the internal workings of the republican movement".

"We are literally suspended at the pleasure of Gerry Adams and democracy is on hold. This is disgraceful."


Time To End 'Armed Struggle', Says President

Dan Keenan and Barry Roche

It is "time to close the door on the tradition of armed struggle", the President said last night.

In a speech welcomed by Mr Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin, Mrs McAleese said it was time to make "a decent start to the shared future that is the unarguable entitlement of the next generation".

Speaking at the end of a politically sensitive visit to Belfast, Mrs McAleese called for a renewed effort to advance the peace process. Appealing implicitly to the IRA and its supporters, she said: "It is time to close the door on the tradition of armed struggle and to bring a dignified and principled end to the debate started by Daniel O'Connell . . . It is time to make a hope-filled, humanly decent start to the shared future that is the unarguable entitlement of the next generation".

Speaking in Cork last night before a Sinn Féin fundraiser, Mr McGuinness said everyone had "a duty to listen very intently to what the President says.

"There is no doubt whatsoever that whenever she speaks, people, particularly from the nationalist-republican tradition, place a lot of store in what she has to say."

Asked if the IRA would heed what she said, Mr McGuinnes said "I hope that everyone would heed what the President has to say, and from our perspective in Sinn Féin we are not going to shirk the difficult questions and challenges that lie ahead."

It was Mrs McAleese's first appearance in Belfast since her remarks about intolerance and bigotry on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz offended many Protestants.

She used the O'Connell Lecture at St Malachy's College in north Belfast to make a powerful appeal for renewed efforts to resolve issues blocking political progress.

The Belfast Agreement "was built on a shared hope and a capacity for mutual forgiveness unequalled in any conflict situation in modern times with the exception of the creation of the European Union out of the appalling suffering of World War II," she said.

It was time to "reflect on the opportunity we have so nearly in our grasp which so many have invested in and so much of our future depends upon". It was also the moment for "conscientiously seeing things through, for making good on promises given and accepted in good faith".

The speech concluded a successful series of engagements in Belfast. Despite the postponement of a visit to a school in the loyalist Shankill following an outcry from unionist politicians and community leaders over her earlier comments, Mrs McAleese's visit was endorsed by a senior UDA commander.

Mr Jackie McDonald, a senior UDA figure in south Belfast, commended the President and her husband, Dr Martin McAleese, saying they had offered the hand of friendship and Protestants would not forget that. "I have no doubt that, in time, she will be welcome on the Shankill Road," Mr McDonald said.

Mrs McAleese did not visit a primary school in the Shankill area as had originally been planned. However, sources close to the President insisted the visit was "deferred" rather than cancelled and it is understood a visit is being rescheduled later before the end of the school year.

© The Irish Times


Fears IRA May Bomb London

February 25, 2005 - 2:21PM

Britain played down a newspaper report today that the Irish Republican Army could break its seven-year ceasefire with a bomb attack on London and now posed as great a threat to the capital as al-Qaeda.

The Sun newspaper, citing unnamed intelligence sources, said British security chiefs saw a "significant prospect" of an IRA strike on London amid a political crisis in Northern Ireland sparked by a huge bank heist blamed on the guerrilla group.

The report also comes a day after the UK's most senior policeman warned that an imminent election in Britain and April's wedding of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles represented "obvious and enormous" targets for terrorists.

Both the UK government and police insisted there was nothing to suggest an imminent attack by the IRA which has been on ceasefire since a 1998 peace agreement that ended 30 years of sectarian violence in the British-ruled province.

"The threat always exists but there is nothing specific and nothing new," a spokesman for London police told Reuters.

A Home Office (interior ministry) spokesman added: "If there is ever any imminent and specific threat to the public ... and there is action the public can take to protect themselves, we make that known."

Anglo-Irish efforts to revive Northern Ireland's assembly, - set up as part of the peace deal to share power between pro-Irish Catholics and pro-British protestants - have been in crisis since Dublin and London blamed the IRA for a $A64.5 million bank robbery in Belfast in December.

Last week Irish police arrested eight people and recovered more than $A6 million as part of a cross-border money laundering investigation.

The Sun said it was a threat to its criminal interests - estimated by the Times newspaper to provide an annual income of $A382 million - that might prompt a return to violence.

"There is a serious worry about a hardcore of terrorists coming off the ceasefire," the security source told the Sun, adding the risk was as high as from militants tied to al-Qeada.

"They're gangsters who don't want to disband - it will end their racketeering and well-heeled lifestyles."

Both the British and Irish governments say the bank raid has seriously damaged the peace process and blocked attempts to restore the power-sharing government suspended in 2001 following accusations of an IRA spy ring.

They also accuse leaders of the IRA's political ally Sinn Fein of sanctioning the heist. London has given the party until next Tuesday to defend itself before deciding whether to strip Sinn Fein members of their British parliamentary allowances.

Protestant parties are also calling for Sinn Fein to be expelled from the peace process.

Sinn Fein insists it had nothing to do with the raid and claims the party is victim of a politically-motivated smear.

A party spokesman told the Irish Times yesterday as far as Sinn Fein was concerned the IRA was committed to the ceasefire.

- Reuters


Poll Uncovers Slump In Gerry Adams’ Popularity

25/02/2005 - 07:35:34

Public support for Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has slumped significantly in the wake of the on-going controversy surrounding IRA criminality, according to an opinion poll published this morning.

The poll put support for Mr Adams at 31%, down from 51% last November. Despite this, core support for Sinn Féin has remained relatively steady at 9%, compared to 10% in November.

Almost two-thirds of respondents to the poll said they believed the Government had been “too soft” on IRA criminality in the past.

More than 60% also said they believed the IRA and Sinn Féin were “one and the same organisation”, while almost half said they believed Justice Minister Michael McDowell’s claim that Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris are members of the IRA army council.

Elsewhere, three-fifths of respondents, including almost 30% of Sinn Féin supporters, said they believed the IRA was responsible for the £26.5m (€38m) Belfast bank robbery.


Republican Activists Are Blamed For Poster Blitz

By Aileen Mulhall

SENIOR Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael figures have condemned a series of posters that appeared on Waterford business premises last week depicting the founders of their parties, Eamon De Valera and Michael Collins, as “ruthless murderers”.

Republican activists are believed to be behind the posters that shop owners and businesses - including the Waterford News & Star - found stuck on the doors and windows of their premises on Waterford’s Michael Street, John Street and Barronstrand Street last Friday morning.

The posters are a veiled attack at the criticism levelled by Government and opposition parties at the IRA’s involvement in criminal acts, Sinn Fein’s continued links with this paramilitary group and the party’s refusal to acknowledge that acts committed by the IRA during the Troubles were criminal.

One of the posters features a picture of dead hunger striker and Republican icon Bobby Sands and asks the public if they have any information on this “Irish Rebel” and “Freedom Fighter” to contact Bertie Ahern, Mary Harney or Michael McDowell and lists two Dublin phone numbers. The other posters feature photographs of three famous leaders in this State’s fight for independence between 1916 and 1922.

They are Michael Collins, one of founders of the Irish Free State and founder of Fine Gael’s predecessor; Fianna Fail founder, former Taoiseach and President of Ireland Eamon De Valera, and republican socialist James Connolly, one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising.

Underneath the photographs of Collins and De Valera are printed the slogans Irish Rebel and Criminal and asks anyone with information on these “ruthless murderers” to contact Bertie Ahern and Co.

Fianna Fail Senator Brendan Kennelly described the posters as “ totally reprehensible” in the way they denigrated the names and reputations of patriotic founders of this State like De Valera and Collins.

“I am sure Sinn Fein will deny it’s behind this but then they are getting very good at denial. They are doing it almost on a daily basis now,” he said.

He also believed the posters were illegally erected as a special permit is required from the City Council to put up posters around the city. Fine Gael Senator Maurice Cummins also roundly condemned the posters.

“Collins and De Valera embraced parliamentary democracy. Collins set up the institutions of this State and De Valera followed through on those reforms.

“The people involved in criminality at the moment are intent on bringing down the Institutions of the State and can’t and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as Collins, De Valera and Connolly.

“I think there is obviously a great divergence in opinion between the IRA and Sinn Fein and the rest of the population in what they regard as criminal.” Sinn Fein City Council member David Cullinane said he wasn’t aware of a poster campaign of this nature being embarked upon by Sinn Fein or any members of the party in Waterford City.

He said he would raise the matter at the next meeting of the local party organisation on Thursday and ask if any of their members were involved.

He said he was aware that similar posters had been erected in other cities around the country.


McDowell Refuses To Rule Out IRA Bulgaria Link

By Ann Cahill in Brussels, Caroline O’Doherty and Noel Baker in Sofia

THE IRA may have been trying to buy or establish a financial institution in Bulgaria, Justice Minister Michael McDowell said yesterday.

“I am only dealing with what I hear but I would not disbelieve claims that they were engaged in either trying to acquire or establish a financial institution in Bulgaria,” Mr McDowell said in Brussels.

His comments come ahead of a meeting scheduled between officials from the Department of Justice and a Bulgarian delegation headed by a senior official from their interior ministry.

The meeting, taking place in Dublin “over the coming days”, was arranged at the request of the Bulgarian Embassy in Dublin amid unease at the potential damage to Bulgaria’s image when it is trying to clamp down on corruption and criminality in preparation for EU membership.

Several senior Bulgarian government ministers have rejected the theory that the IRA was intent on taking over a financial institution in Bulgaria - in sharp contrast with the views of Mr McDowell.

It is understood the Bulgarian delegation will demand evidence to back up the theory or call on the Irish authorities to discourage speculation.

However, this didn’t stop Mr McDowell from elaborating yesterday. He said that in order to launder hot money and provide an untraceable source of it, if the IRA controlled an institution that was hard to get at, it would be “very, very difficult for someone in Dublin to identify money going into a foreign country and then coming out” without full co-operation.

He said the Irish Government wished to talk to the Bulgarian authorities to “ensure there is no opportunity given to subversives to establish one-way valves for an inquiry where we would run into a stone wall trying to find out what the source of the money was”.

Mr McDowell also asked for the assistance of his European colleagues in tracing any money laundering by the IRA, saying they were generally amazed at the amount of money involved.

Mr McDowell said that while everyone believed the IRA was moving from plan A to plan B - from a paramilitary movement to a democratic political party, it was working on a plan C all the time: a political party with a praetorian guard. He believed this was a threat to democracy.

However, he said there was no suggestion that the IRA intended to go back to war. He also re-iterated his view that the Sinn Féin and IRA leaderships were one and the same. “I fully endorse the Taoiseach’s attitude that there is one leadership and they are not dealing with two separate organisations and they have shared personnel at the top of that organisation.”


Sinn Fein Launch Paper On Irish Unity

Friday 25th February 2005

Sinn Fein will today launch a Green Paper on Irish Unity which they say is intended to help start the process of planning for a United Ireland.

Speaking prior to the launch the Sinn Fein chairperson,Mitchel McLaughlin said: "We feel that this is an area that has been badly neglected by the Irish government and the other parties who pay lip service to Irish unity.

"At the very outset of negotiations in 1997 one of the things we asked had any of the parties developed a coherent policy towards achieving a united Ireland - even to the extent of calling on the British to leave - and we found they had not."

He continued: "Since then we have worked on this issue until we are now at the point where we are calling on the Taoiseach's office to take ownership of a process of developing and preparing a policy for a united Ireland.

"We believe that it is time that the Irish government took the lead in spelling pout what a united Ireland will mean.

"We believe that the should be at the forefront of persuading and enlisting active support for a united Ireland."

He added: "Reconvening the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation would be a help in beginning to focus minds on the process of building a united Ireland.

"We will be calling on the Taoiseach to convene a special committee of the Oireachtais to discuss the Green paper on Unity and also for the appointment of a Minister of State with overall responsibility to promote progress towards a united Ireland.

"As a first step there should be northern representation in the Dail and Northerners should have voting rights in the Irish Presidential elections."

Sinn Fein intend to call for active planning for a united Ireland with a view to persuading unionists that their future is best served in a united state.


Sinn Féin Launch Campaign For A Green Paper On Irish Unity

Download PDF file at:

Published: 25 February, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today launched a campaign urging the Irish government to bring forward a Green Paper and to begin the practical planning for Irish unity now. At the launch, which took place in the Writers Museum in Dublin, Mr. Adams was accompanied by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Councillor Joe Reilly, Caitríona Ruane MLA and Martin McGuinness MP.

Mr. Adams said:

"In 1992 Sinn Féin published a document 'Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland' which set out our party's peace strategy. That document signposted the development and evolution of the peace process.

Now in 2005 we are setting out our roadmap for Irish unity and launching a campaign to urge the Irish government to bring forward a Green Paper and to begin the practical planning for Irish unity now.

These are difficult times in the peace process and of course our primary focus has to be on moving out of the current crisis. But we need to do more than that. We need to put the peace process back on track and ensure that what we achieve is democracy and a permanent peace.

Sinn Féin believes that:

:: There is a responsibility on the Irish government to take the lead and bring forward a strategy to achieve national self-determination, Irish re-unification and national reconciliation.

:: The British Government should address this democratic imperative by becoming persuaders for Irish unity and by developing policies to end partition and end its jurisdiction in Ireland.

:: Now is the time for Irish people to engage on the shape, form and nature that a re-united Ireland will take.

:: There is a need for widespread consultation at home and abroad.

:: Every effort must be made to engage with unionist opinion and to consider, discuss and engage with them about the nature and form a new Ireland will take.

"This campaign will form the centerpiece of this the centenary year of Sinn Féin. We will be seeking support in every county in Ireland and among the Irish Diaspora. We will be engaging with political parties, the social partners, local communities, the churches, young people. We will be working to ensure that Irish unity is a reality in our lifetime." ENDS


Irish Government Should Begin Planning Now For Irish Unity - Ó Caoláin

Published: 25 February, 2005

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said: Today Sinn Féin is extending an invitation to all those who share our heartfelt desire to achieve a United Ireland. We claim no monopoly on that demand - neither among the Irish people nor among Irish political parties. We want to commence a national and international process of planning for national reunification. So many of us share the goal of ending Partition and building Irish Unity and Independence - so it is long past time for us to begin to plan for that reunification in a systematic way.

This document sets out some of the practical steps that we need to take.

First and foremost the Irish Government needs to transform the aspiration for Irish unity into a real goal and to work strategically towards that goal.

As leader of the Sinn Féin TDs in the Dáil I want to very briefly set out what we see as the responsibility of the Irish Government to take a lead in this project.

We are urging the Taoiseach to commission a Green Paper on Irish Unity as the key starting point.

All strands of opinion represented in the Oireachtas should be participants in this and that is why we want to see an All-Party Oireachtas Committee on Irish Unity established.

We are proposing that a Minister of State should be appointed by the Irish Government with the dedicated and specific responsibility of driving forward and developing policy options and strategies to advance the outcomes of the Green Paper and to direct and coordinate the Government's all-Ireland policies.

Participation by people resident in the North in the democratic life of the nation should be facilitated through Northern representation in the Houses of the Oireachtas and voting rights in presidential elections.

The Irish Government, in consultation with the social partners, tortunity for people the length and breadth of this island to play their part in the great project of reuniting our country and our people.


IRA Must End Campaign To Block Impasse, Says Blair
2005-02-25 13:20:03+00

The Ulster peace process cannot move forward unless the IRA gives up paramilitary and criminal activity, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said today.

He told his monthly news conference at 10 Downing Street that the refusal of the provisionals to give up such activity was the reason for the current stalemate.

Mr Blair said: "The reason we are stuck in this impasse is because we haven't been able to get, not just the right form of words but the right commitment and follow through on action from the IRA. This has now got to happen. It's the only way to move this situation forward."

He added: "The overwhelming view now in the whole of the island of Ireland, north and south, is there cannot be a place for Sinn Féin in an inclusive government in Northern Ireland unless there is a complete end to all forms of paramilitary activity and criminality by the IRA.

"That's what the Good Friday Agreement said."


Church Dismisses SF Bank Denials

By Alf McCreary
25 February 2005

The Presbyterian Church has dismissed Sinn Fein denials of its involvement in the Northern Bank robbery as "hollow".

The Church's influential General Board stated that the robbery "violated the law of God, subjected bank employees and their families to terror and cruelty, betrayed relationships with the two governments, other political parties and people of goodwill, and destroyed trust in the commitment of Sinn Fein to seek peace".

It added: "Veracity is fundamental to the integrity of any person or political party. Without veracity, there is no credibility. The denials of Sinn Fein ring hollow."

The Board also demanded the restoration of "moral integrity" to the peace process, and in an indirect reference to Sinn Fein called on the British and Irish Governments to insist "that no political party shall participate in the future government of Northern Ireland unless it is fully committed to democratic methods alone and, where applicable, renounces and forsakes criminality and engages in complete, verifiable de-commissioning."

The Board claimed that criminality was "deeply ingrained in some sections of Northern Ireland society, both republican and loyalist", and expressed its deep concern "at the lack of clarity about what is right and wrong".

The Presbyterian General Board has some 250 members, including clergy and laity, from congregations and church bodies all over Ireland.


McCartney Family Meets With Adams

The family of a man murdered in Belfast last month has held a private meeting with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

Robert McCartney, 33, was stabbed in the city centre on 30 January.

His family has accused republicans of pressuring witnesses not to talk, although they welcomed an IRA statement urging his killers to come forward.

Mr Adams described the meeting as "constructive". "There is an onus on us to do everything we can to bring closure to this family," he said.

He added that those responsible for Mr McCartney's death should be brought to justice.

Mr Adams said that he was told up to 70 people, and up to 21 this week, had already come forward with information about his death.

The meeting took place on Thursday.

Mr Adams was speaking in Dublin at the launch of a campaign to urge the Irish government to prepare a discussion document on Irish unity.

Earlier this week, the McCartney family met with Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in a bid to win support for their campaign to find those responsible for his murder.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that a test of Sinn Fein's stated opposition to criminality would be to turn in the killers.

No-one has been charged in connection with the killing, although it is believed there were up to 70 witnesses to the crime.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/02/25 13:04:21 GMT


Dublin Bombings: Former Garda Not Surprised Suspect Went Free

Olivia Kelly

A former Garda commissioner, has told the inquests into the 1972 and 1973 Dublin bombings that it was "not necessarily" surprising that a suspect, for whom there was a photofit identification and fingerprints, was never arrested.

Retired Commissioner Larry Wren said the Garda had always tried to improve on the information they had relating to the atrocities in which three young CIÉ bus workers lost their lives.

However, he told the Dublin City Coroner's Court that he did not recall any attempts to revive the inquiry after the initial Garda investigation had come to a halt. "I don't remember anyone directing a fresh inquiry," he said.

Mr Wren was a chief superintendent working with the Garda C3 unit at the time of the bombings. C3 was not an investigative unit, Mr Wren said, but dealt with matters including information on subversives and was a "conduit" for correspondence between various units of the Garda, the Army, the Government and the RUC.

A 29-year-old bus conductor, Mr Thomas Duffy, and Mr George Bradshaw (24), a bus driver, died when a car bomb exploded at Sackville Place at 8.15 p.m. on December 1st, 1972. Their colleague Mr Thomas Douglas (21), was killed in a second explosion in Sackville Place at 3.15 p.m. on January 20th, 1973.

Mr Cormac Ó Dúlacháin SC, for the victim's families, put it to Mr Wren that shortly after the 1972 attack he had circulated to Army intelligence a photofit of one of the suspected bombers. Fingerprints, believed to be from the same man, had also been collected, Mr Ó Dúlacháin said.

He also said that Mr Wren had had contact with the RUC and had corresponded with retired members of the British security forces. Mr Wren said he had no recollection of any correspondence at this remove.

"There was a photofit of a major suspect in the December 1st bombings and positive finger prints. Is it not surprising that nothing . . . that something did not emerge from this?" Mr Ó Dúlacháin asked.

"Not necessarily, no," Mr Wren replied.

Earlier, the court heard that a car hijacked in Belfast on the morning of December 1st, 1972 was used in the Dublin bombing later that day. A statement from Mr James Stanfield, who did not attend the inquest, described how he was forced from the car and was held in a house for the day.

Mr Stanfield had hired the car for a planned trip to Wicklow. He was driving along the Shankill Road, Belfast, at around 8.50 a.m. when a woman walked out in front of him. He stopped the car and two men approached, pulled him from the driver's seat and forced him into the back seat.

They took his glasses and covered his head. After around 20 minutes driving he was brought to a house. He was not beaten or tortured, the statement said.

© The Irish Times


Next Time I'll Be Back For Good, Vows Adair

By Noel McAdam
25 February 2005

Maverick loyalist Johnny Adair has vowed to return to Northern Ireland for good after a flying visit - leaving a political storm in his wake.

The terrorist chief defied UDA death threats as he reportedly shook hands on the Shankill and went to Drumcree Hill in Portadown.

The leading loyalist walked the streets of the Shankill on the same day Irish President Mary McAleese had called off a visit to the area just a month after his release from jail.

On the Shankill, Adair (41) said he had been welcomed with people coming out to shake his hand.

"I told them it was only a flying visit but it wouldn't be too long before I was back for good," he said.

In a gesture of defiance to the UDA leaders who banished Adair, his family and supporters from the area, the convicted loyalist leader posed in front of a wall mural to the dead Loyalist Volunteer Force leaders Billy Wright and Mark Fulton in Union Street, Portadown.

He said: "They said I'd be shot on sight if I ever set foot back in Northern Ireland but it didn't take an army for me to walk back around the Shankill road."

Adair said he could not confirm when he would return to the province - but his plans were "coming along nicely".

As word of his presence spread, the UDA sent men to the Seagoe Hotel area of Portadown where police vehicles also arrived.

A UDA spokesman described the situation as "volatile" but it was later confirmed Adair had again left the province.

SDLP Upper Bann Assembly member Dolores Kelly said: "This will be a worrying development for the entire community here.

"Portadown has quietened down in recent years and Johnny Adair's presence here can only be a worrying sign.

"Johnny Adair brought nothing but death and destruction to the nationalist community and his own community in Belfast.

"He must not be allowed to do the same in Portadown.

"I have already been in contact with the police to express my concerns and will be liaising with them further on this worrying development," she said.

Adair, who was released last month after serving two-thirds of a 16-year sentence for directing terrorism, was expelled by the leadership of the UDA in late 2002.


James Shield: Row Erupts In US Over Statue Of Irish Migrant

By Sean O'Driscoll
25 February 2005

He may have been dead for more than a hundred years, but Tyrone emigrant James Shields continues to cause serious political problems for the Republican Party.

Not only did he try to kill Abraham Lincoln in a duel, but the former Pomeroy resident is now causing major trouble for Ronald Reagan.

Illinois Republicans want to replace a statue of Shields at the US Congress in Washington with a statue of Ronald Reagan, who was born in the state.

However, Illinois Democrats are strongly fighting the move and say it's an insult to Ulster emigrants.

Shields was the only US senator in history to get elected in three US states, (Illinois Minnesota, and Missouri) and was a military general, a state Supreme Court judge and Illinois state auditor.

He is also known for challenging Abraham Lincoln to a duel after accusing the future president of writing anonymous letters to an Illinois newspapers denouncing Shields for corruption. Lincoln, who despised Shields, accepted the duel, opting for a sword fight, but the two were pulled apart.

Now, a Chicago school official, Pat Hickey, has started a campaign to save Shields' statue and says he has the backing of the state's Democratic Party.

Plans to replace the statue began with Illinois state congressman Robert Pritchard, who introduced a resolution calling for its removal.

Under US law, each state is allowed to have two statutes at the Congress building, and Illinois Republicans say Shields is an obscure figure who doesn't have any significance for people in his adopted state.

Despite the protests, Pritchard has argued Reagan is a great Irish American icon and was born in Illinois, unlike Shields.

He cites Kansas's example, which replaced a statue with one of former president, Dwight Eisenhower.


General NI Stadium Plan Detail

A US-style naming rights deal will finance a planned new national sports stadium on the site of Northern Ireland's notorious Maze Prison, it emerged today.

As the British government was urged to back a £1 billion strategy for transforming the 360-acre plot, sources revealed that world-famous companies have been approached about sponsoring the showpiece 30,000-seater arena.

After two years of negotiations, an all-party panel revealed its detailed dossier of proposals for turning a symbol of bloody violence into a business and leisure Mecca.

As well as a sports zone where the multi-purpose stadium would host soccer, rugby and Gaelic games, a new International Centre for Conflict Transformation is planned.

One of the infamous H-Blocks where loyalist and republican terrorists were held would be retained as a feature of the sector.

A rural and equestrian zone with an exhibition centre and showgrounds capable of staging major concerts is also in the proposals sent to Northern Ireland Office Minister Ian Pearson.

Office blocks, hotels and a leisure village have been mapped out as well on the master plan for the sprawling site near Lisburn, County Antrim.

David Campbell, chairman of the Maze Consultation Panel, insisted unionist and nationalist members had all compromised to achieve a remarkable blueprint.

He said: "For 30 years the prison has been a symbol of conflict, division and the worst days of Northern Ireland`s history and troubles.

"We are now able to offer a vision that is a symbol of hope for the future."

Mr Pearson and his officials will now study the plans which could create up to 1,000 jobs.

The most eye-catching feature of the ambitious scheme, involving both private and public sector funding, is for a purpose-built stadium.

Although it would cost around £60 million to build, the panel has already studied how American sports franchises and top football clubs in Britain are turning to naming rights for crucial revenue.

Several blue chip firms have been approached about paying for a significant portion of the arena costs.

One source close to the project disclosed: "A number of drinks companies know about the plans.

"We`re looking for up to £20 million for a 10-year association."

The panel was set up after Chancellor Gordon Brown agreed to hand over the land free of charge to the Northern Ireland administration in May 2002.

But given the long and controversial history of the Maze Jail and associated Long Kesh internment camp, many doubted the group`s chances of reaching agreement.

Vice Chairman Michael McKernan stressed that the political significance of what had been achieved could not be overstated.

He said: "We were told two years ago we had got the hot potato, the poisoned chalice.

"There was talk of hell freezing over and pigs flying, yet here we have got an agreement and it`s an agreement without fudge.

"Political representatives on the panel have had to compromise a lot and taken on board things they didn`t like."

One of the most hotly contested aspects surrounded republican demands for a museum to be built on the site where many IRA men had been locked up at the height of the troubles.

In the end, a conflict transformation centre was put into the plans that would promote a shared society, not only in Northern Ireland, but also focus on the transition to peace in other troubled regions of the world.

Links would be established with Northern Ireland`s two main universities as well as Harvard University and Boston College in the United States.

The proposals include retaining one H-block, the prison hospital, administration buildings, a section of the perimeter wall, a watch tower and cage from the compound.

But Edwin Poots, a Democratic Unionist panel member played down the significance, claiming: "The portion listed makes up only five percent of the overall site and 15% of the prison.

"At the outset Sinn Fein were looking for a museum, there`s no museum here.

"If they ever want to get one, they will have to ask unionists to support it, so we have a veto over that."


Unionist Parties To Clash In Seat Battle

By Noel McAdam
25 February 2005

The gloves came off today for a major election tussle between the DUP and UUP on the new battleground of South Belfast.

The DUP vowed to contest the Westminster seat for the first time in years after the UUP selected Michael McGimpsey to replace the Rev Martin Smyth.

Mr McGimpsey, former Arts and Leisure Minister in the Stormont Executive who has attempted to unite the pro and anti-Agreement wings of the constituency association, warned the DUP to stay away.

A split unionist vote in the constituency could allow SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell to take the seat. The SDLP closed the gap with unionists at the last Assembly election.

Mr McGimpsey was, as anticipated, selected to fight the seat with 62 votes and his nearest rival, Christopher Montgomery, who the DUP indicated it preferred, gained 47 votes. Belfast City councillor Bob Stoker got 10 votes and solicitor Jack Irwin had seven.

Mr McGimpsey said: "What the party said tonight in this constituency is that South Belfast is not for sale.

"I am delighted to have been selected to follow in the footsteps of the Rev Martin Smyth. It is a seat which the Ulster Unionists have held in the past and will continue to hold.

"I am convinced that if the DUP attempt to do in South Belfast what they did in Fermanagh and South Tyrone four years ago, unionist voters will reject that."

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson confirmed afterwards that his party will contest the seat.

"Such a candidate does not offer the electorate the opportunity to reject the republican agenda given his track record of negotiating alongside Sinn Fein/IRA."


Derry Politicians Blast Sectarian Hatred

Friday 25th February 2005

Derry's political parties have rounded on the thugs who lobbed stones and rocks at buses of Linfield supporters, including young children.

The SDLP, Sinn Fein and the DUP condemned the attack after Tuesday night's game between the Blues and Derry City at the Brandywell referring to it as despicable sectarian hatred.

Although ten supporters were treated for shock, witnesses claimed that visiting fans were lucky to escape serious injury as six buses were damaged by the barrage.

Large stones and small rocks hailed in on the convoy of buses for a period of a couple of minutes, smashing windows and narrowly missing young fans and their parents as they were ferried out of the Anne Street gate of the Showgrounds.

However, security guards kept the buses moving and serious injuries were avoided, a fact which came as a relief to enraged local politicians.

Sinn Fein Councillor Peter Anderson said those responsible for the assault didn't in anyway represent the nationalist community of the Bogside and Brandywell. "These young people are similar to the thugs who periodically attack the Fountain Estate and don't have anything to offer our communities apart from grief and misery.

"The match between Linfield and Derry City was just that, a football match between two clubs wanting to participate in sport and enhance their communities through competitive football.

Colr Anderson branded those behind the attacks as being "filled with a blind sectarian hatred that only embarrasses the community from which they claim to come".

Praising both sets of fans for their conduct, SDLP Assemblyman Pat Ramsey said it was a fantastic and "historic" to see Linfield back in the Brandywell after 36 years.

"For thirty years, the hatred and violence that divided our two communities here kept these two teams apart. It just goes to show how far the peace process has come in Northern Ireland that today a passion for the game of football can now bring both communities together and unite people once again."

However, SDLP colleague Councillor Sean Carr condemned the evening's more sinister turn of events.

"The people who carried this out are not supporters of Derry City and do not represent any of the fans of this Club.

"The people who bought tickets and attended the match enjoyed the event. We did not expect a few people to react in this way and put a dark cloud over the event," he said.

East Derry MP, Gregory Campbell said it was a shame that such a peaceful and enjoyable occasion had to be marred by "sectarian violence", which he claimed was not an unplanned attack "It must be said that both clubs and their decent, respectable supporters behaved impeccably but there was undoubtedly some planning as regards the events after the game was over and by a significant number of people, not just a handful.

"Those who carried out the attacks on the buses were representing an unfortunate symptom of the wider problem that nationalist leaders in the city have so far failed to live up to - the inherent sectarianism that exists.

"People in the Protestant communities were left asking themselves: 'Was this an example of how some people --not Derry City supporters or most genuine football fans --never having met, spoken to or understood a member of the Protestant community feel they need to attack them on sight."

He urged nationalist leaders to stop the "osterich-like head in the sand behaviour and denying that this violence is a result of wider sectarianism in the community".

Mr. Campbell added that the PSNI apology to the Linfield supporters was "commendable", although he said that there would be "serious repercussions" for police operations during future high profile fixtures at the Brandywell.


Kevin Weeks: IRA-Linked Gangster Is Released In The US

American led cops to body of gunrunner McIntyre

By Sean O'Driscoll
25 February 2005

A notorious gangster who led Boston police to the body of IRA gunrunner, John McIntyre, has been released after five years in prison.

Kevin Weeks, once the most trusted lieutenant of Irish American crime boss, James Whitey Bulger, was let out last week.

However, Weeks, who showed police where McIntyre and two unrelated murder victims were dumped in a pit, has refused to go into the FBI's Witness Protection Programme.

McIntyre disappeared in 1984 after the interception of the Marita Ann gunrunning ship by the Irish navy. The ship, skippered by the current Sinn Fein TD for Kerry, Martin Ferris, had taken the guns from the Boston fishing vessel, the Valhalla, of which McIntyre was a crew member.

Irish American crime writer, TJ English, said Weeks' decision to remain out in the open shows Bulger's hold on Boston's Irish community has collapsed.

This month marks the tenth anniversary of Bulger going on the run after he was tipped off that he was about to be arrested.

The mystery around Bulger has lead to a huge interest from publishers and film studios.

The Showtime network is currently working on Brotherhood, a series based on Bulger's relationship with his brother Billy, the former president of the Massachusetts senate and University of Massachusetts.

Martin Scorsese is also scouring south Boston for a tale of Irish American gangsters and FBI agents that will feature Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon.

While once fear would have kept Bulger underlings from telling their story, the disintegration of his criminal base had brought a rash of new book ideas, most noticeably Edward McKenzie Jr, author of Street Soldier: My Years as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob.

The 48-year-old Weeks drove police to the makeshift burial site of McIntyre, who may have been falsely accused of telling police about an IRA arms shipment to protect Bulger.


Viewpoint: Clear Message For Sinn Fein Leaders

McAleese plea: Guns must go if Sinn Fein is to have a political future

25 February 2005

Despite its attempts to fight a rearguard action over recent weeks, the republican movement is today looking more isolated than ever.

Gerry Adams' popularity has plummeted in an opinion poll, the Irish President says it is time to close the door on the so-called armed struggle, and the Presbyterian Church says trust in Sinn Fein has been destroyed.

Today's poll in the Irish Independent suggests that Mr Adams' personal rating has slumped from 51% to 31%. Significantly, the survey also found that 60% of people in the Republic now believed that the IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank heist.

Sinn Fein may draw some comfort from the finding that support for the party has fallen only marginally but this poll should still make sobering reading for the party as it prepares for its Ard Fheis.

Further food for thought came from President Mary McAleese, who spoke for the overwhelming majority of people in Ireland when she called in Belfast for the door to be closed on the tradition of the "armed struggle".

In response, Martin McGuinness says people should "heed" what the President has said, but what is needed is action, not words. If the republican movement wants to regain any credibility, the IRA needs finally to end all paramilitary and criminal activity and disband.

Understandably, those who were prepared to take Sinn Fein at face value are feeling particularly sore. Representatives of the Presbyterian Church who took risks and engaged in dialogue with republicans over many years are among many who feel let down.

Yesterday's hard-hitting statement from the church's general board says that without veracity, there can be no credibility. It is a message the republican movement must not ignore.

Unless there is a dramatic re-think by republicans, Sinn Fein faces the prospect of being ostracised. Its much vaunted mandate will be of no value if the party continues to set its self beyond the democratic pale.

Inclusiveness is still the goal, but as is now abundantly clear, there can be no place in government for any party that retains links with an armed and criminal organisation.

Crucially, Sinn Fein has betrayed the trust of those in both sections of the community who were prepared to give the party the benefit of the doubt. For that act of duplicity, the party can now expect to pay a heavy price.


Analysis: Has The Propaganda Master Lost His Touch?

He is the personification of Sinn Fein and his position has always appeared unassailable. Now though, with his credibility is on the line as never before, the question is being asked . . .

By Steven King
25 February 2005

How will history judge the MP for West Belfast? Gerry Adams has spent over three decades at the forefront of republican politics and is touching 57. He has visibly aged in recent months. The beard is greying. Yet, the subject of a post-Adams Sinn Fein leadership is rarely broached.

David Trimble's political obituary has been written countless times. Mark Durkan knows the election in Foyle in May will make or break him. Even Ian Paisley now wonders aloud about his epitaph. For most people under the age of 40, though, Gerry Adams is the personification of Sinn Fein. His position appears unassailable.

When Gerry Adams first became a household name in the early 1970s, his career prospects were grim. Republicans eschewed political office. Moreover, they derided politics. For republicans, all they had known was force and salvation lay in meeting fire with fire.

He has survived any number of threats and, with the help of the British security forces, one serious assassination bid. More than 10 years on from the first IRA cessation, however, the prospect of Gerry Adams meeting a violent death now seems remote.

He could retire to Donegal to write any time he chose but few believe that is the height of his ambitions. Playing second fiddle to a unionist as Deputy First Minister in a future Stormont Executive, though, would be lese majeste for the 'President' of Sinn Fein. No mere party leader he.

Ironically, in 1986, Adams wrote that "the cult of personality that exists in Irish public life is something that has to be overcome".

Equally, the last decade has opened up the possibility of running for and winning a Dail seat in a Border constituency, perhaps any constituency in the 26 Counties. He would then be perfectly positioned to pose as a Tanaiste or Deputy Prime Minister-in-waiting but there has been no inkling of such a move.

There is a good reason for this: Adams doesn't know Ireland - the Republic of Ireland - as it really exists very well. Nor does he like it. As he has written, in terms reminiscent of David Trimble, "It is undeniable that the 26 County state has always been a confessional state since its inception."

What he does know is a certain story of Ireland as told from the perspective of a Belfast republican. And what better stage from which to project that story than Phoenix Park? In his head, Adams cannot have ruled out a bid for the Irish presidency in 2011.

He would be following not merely in Mary McAleese's stiletto-prints but the bootprints of no less than Eamon de Valera himself. His problem is that, in the last couple of weeks, many of those in the South who believed he was on that trajectory, gradually constitutionalising just as Dev did, have come to radically revise their view. He is gaining a reputation again as a serial liar.

Sinn Fein's centenary year could not have got off to a worse start for the party. There is every reason to believe worse news for the leadership will drip into the public consciousness for months to come. The leadership has traversed stormy waters before but there is a sense this time that the rudder has broken, that Adams has lost his touch.

If Gerry Adams can withstand the current period of political and media vilification, and it is a big 'if', the presidency might still be within his grasp. What is certain is that the ultimate outsider will not enter a race he has calculated he will not win.

That the prospect of the ex-barman from Ballymurphy seizing the crown is even being floated in republican circles is suggestive of remarkable political skills. In some ways, he makes an unlikely political icon.

His 'war record' is not especially auspicious. There was no spectacular jailbreak, no magnificent defence of the Falls. On the contrary, some of the IRA's actions during the time Adams was reputedly the Belfast commander are far from creditable as the McConville family can testify. Yet, what Gerry Adams lacks in terms of a swashbuckling past, he more than makes up for with sexual magnetism - for the London literary classes at least - and, more importantly, in his expert manipulation of the black arts.

A landmark American study in 1937 identified seven key elements to successful propaganda. Gerry Adams has mastered most of them. There is the name-calling, the demeaning of opponents. For instance, the UVF and UDA are not 'paramilitaries' or 'terrorists' but 'death squads'. Not so long ago, Adams called unionists 'children'.

Then there is the resort to the glittering generality, particularly useful for Adams in Dublin because he doesn't grasp the complexities and the nuances. Thirdly, Adams transfers respected authority. For example, he forever tries to associate the IRA in the public mind with the hunger strikers, not the grubby criminal empire it has become.

Another tactic is the use of testimonials from traditional opponents. If even George Bush can tolerate Gerry Adams, can he be so bad? At the same time, Adams loves to pose as the champion of the 'plain folks'. He doesn't don a West Belfast Festival T-shirt because it is the first thing to hand in his wardrobe.

Card-stacking is another skill Adams has acquired. We know it better as whataboutery, endless distractions from the point. Lastly, the study observed the bandwagon effect. Hence, Gerry Adams tries to generate a sense of excitement about the Sinn Fein project: "Everyone is voting Sinn Fein now, so why not join us?"

And what a bandwagon! As we have been told remorselessly recently, Sinn Fein attracts the support of a third of a million people on the island. It is the largest pro-Agreement party in Northern Ireland. Until last Christmas, it appeared Adams was within an ace of upsetting the traditional relationship between Northern and Southern nationalism, establishing Northern nationalism as the senior partner for the first time.

Sinn Fein could plausibly lay claim to the brand name of Irish republicanism. Remorselessly, Fine Gael have been portrayed as the clients of British imperialism, Labour as false radicals and Fianna Fail as inheritors of a brown paper bag culture.

Sinn Fein, meanwhile, has mobilised a generation of young people by painting itself as the scourge of the drug culture and the party of clean hands. In our post-modern age, Sinn Fein at least appears to believe in something.

Provisional republicanism is, in Adams's words, "the ideology of the disposed".

The Sinn Fein vote will be scrutinised carefully in two by-elections on March 11, particularly in Meath where Sinn Fein has a significant foothold and a handful of councillors. Joe Reilly came close to taking a seat in 2002 but a poor result in Meath will cast a shadow over preparations for the Westminster elections in Northern Ireland.

Poll after poll reveals that the personality of Gerry Adams is crucial to Sinn Fein's fortunes in the South. Even the Taoiseach this week appeared to buy into the notion that Gerry Adams is the Sinn Fein good guy who goes to talk sense to the IRA bad guys, putting his own position ? even his life ? on the line in the process.

Others would suggest that Gerry Adams goes to see the IRA every morning - in his bathroom mirror.

Is it any wonder that the Irish justice Minister Michael McDowell's claims last weekend were met with apoplexy?

If politics is a board game, Sinn Fein has been landed on ladder after ladder since 1994. In every election its vote has increased. If Adams has his way, the Irish electorate will be tantalised with the final end of the IRA right up to 2011.

After recent events, though, Adams's whole project seems vulnerable. His credibility is on the line. If the Sinn Fein tally in Northern Ireland drops by so much as one vote in May, Gerry Adams might be spending his retirement in Donegal, not Dublin, after all.


Opin: Analogy Should Have Been Of Brownshirts And The Provos

by Eric Waugh
25 February 2005

A week before Christmas three years ago, Robin Cook, then Leader of the House, spent most of a Monday afternoon in his office at the Commons wrestling with a speech for next day. He had to justify to MPs handing out £250,000 of allowances to Irish republicans who never appeared in the Commons, although in the gut he knew he could not.

He also knew the real reason for the pay-out was that it was a bribe to persuade the IRA to "decommission". Of course he could not let the cat out of the bag about that. Nor would there be help from Blair, who was keeping his head down and refusing to add his name to the motion.

So it was left to Cook to push the policy of nudge-nudge, wink-wink another inch forward. It had already endowed Sinn Fein with unique benefits.

The UK-wide rules prohibiting foreign donations to political parties had been bent so that republicans could continue to draw hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from the US. The machinery at Stormont had been rigged to get them into office, even though, once in, they refused to recognise the government of which they were part.

It is on this lopsided stage that the heist at the Northern Bank exploded. The two Prime Ministers had already been told that the IRA was rearming while pretending to negotiate decommissioning.

Now they saw that one lot of republicans had been planning the cheekiest bank raid in Irish history while another had been closeted in No. 10, urging removal of the watch towers on the border designed to make such lawlessness more difficult.

Yet, as the dust begins to settle, there are Ministers (on both sides of the border) who favour continuing with the old nudge-nudge, wink-wink. They have been sold a pup. More important politically, they have been seen to have been sold it; and they are sore.

Their difficulty is that nudge-nudge, wink-wink assumes that the reflexes of Sinn Fein/IRA are those of a political party: that is, that republicans are democrats. Of course they seek to exploit democracy to serve their ends, but only as Adolf Hitler did in the years between 1929 and his becoming German Chancellor in 1933.

But, like nazism, Irish republicanism is a movement before it is a party, demanding the same totalitarian loyalty.

The recent pain of Northern Ireland Protestants at Mrs McAleese's gaffe was deepened because she chose the wrong analogy.

The so-obvious parallel she should have drawn on the Auschwitz anniversary was that between Hitler's bullying Brownshirts and the Provisionals.

Both have shared the same lack of scruple: the smooth belief that ends justify means.

Nazis and republicans have also shared the same need for constant partisan re-reading of the national history. In that reading, the patriot was always the victim of the oppressor. This justified the use of war.

It was the pure doctrine of Chairman Mao, that other emerging tyrant of the 1930s. Politics, to Mao, was war without bloodshed. War was politics with bloodshed.

When the process ceased to move forward, politics with bloodshed must be invoked. So the "armed struggle" was permanently available as a final option.

For republicans this credo means no ceasefire can ever be permanent. But Adams and McGuinness insist that they deplore all political violence; and it is true that Mao urged the abolition of war.

But both Maoists and Irish republicans hold to the doctrine of revolution: the idea that, to get rid of the gun, it may be necessary first to take it up.

Blair and Ahern's breadth of vision, of course, is limited to five-year parliaments: both face general elections. Even so, they need to weigh the long-term historical baggage carried by Sinn Fein. For it implies twin difficulties for anyone seeking to resume nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

The first is the ideological bar against IRA disarmament. An army is not democratic. It exists for one purpose. When it denies itself the option of force, it loses its only reason for existence. So disarmament is unlikely to happen - unless its own people compel it.

The second is the extent to which the ethos of the Republican Movement continues to be part of the warp and weft of the southern State, now extending upwards into the establishment to embrace - unashamedly - the chairman of a major bank.

Charles Haughey, whose rehabilitation in the feebleness of age is now being hastened, was once quite at home inhaling the whiff of sulphur with his politics. The shady episode which produced his acquittal in the arms trial of 1970 could just as easily have ended in a coup, the third such crisis in the short history of the State.

So long as the Republican Movement maintains its "army," reborn that year in response to a process of nudge-nudge, wink-wink, from a rebel clique within Fianna Fail, a coup will remain a threat - and negotiations on Northern Ireland will go nowhere.

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005
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