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March 17, 2005

Adams Confident SF & DUP Will Share Power

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 03/18/05 Adams Confident SF And DUP Will Yet Share Power
IT 03/18/05 SF Risks US Exclusion Unless IRA Disbands, Says Ahern
IT 03/18/05 Bush Pays Tribute To Bravery Of McCartney Family
WH 03/17/05 White House Press Briefing
AP 03/17/05 Gerry Adams Restates Commitment To Peace
UT 03/18/05 Sun Shone The Right Way On Dublin Parade


Adams Confident SF And DUP Will Yet Share Power

Conor O'Clery, North America Editor, in Washington

About 200 Friends of Sinn Féin who had gathered in a Washington hotel yesterday for a St Patrick's Day breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns, rose to their feet and gave Gerry Adams a prolonged ovation when he appeared with his friend, Congressman Peter King.

"We don't believe all we read in the newspapers," cried master of ceremonies Joseph Smith as he urged the supporters, many wearing bright green ties, to continue applauding.

"The White House or the Denny's house, I'd rather be in my own goddamn house," Mr Smith said, referring to a popular American diner and Mr Adam's exclusion from President Bush's St Patrick's Day reception.

The Sinn Féin leader gave the faithful an account of how the peace process had stalled, though "last December we almost had it over the cusp".

Sinn Féin was still prepared to share power with Ian Paisley, he said, adding, "which let me tell you my friends is a very daunting thought. We didn't think and we don't think that next day it would be all bread and roses". But, he asked, "are we going to get back to that situation again? Yes. I have no doubt Sinn Féin will be in government with the DUP".

Clearly referring to the Northern Bank robbery and the murder of Robert McCartney, he said: "Events should not happen. Killings should not happen. Bank robberies should not happen.

"But I don't know anywhere in the world where events that happen are used as an excuse to tear down a peace process. You'd think when events happen they would be a challenge."

He looked beyond the peace process to a united Ireland but first acknowledged: "We have to deal with all these issues, armed groups and their activities and so on, and deal with them we will."

Meanwhile, "let no one be in any doubt that what a British government could not do in 30 years of conflict will not be achieved by beating up on Sinn Féin".

The warm welcome for Mr Adams from an audience dominated by Irish-American trade union leaders contrasted with the previous evening when he had to sit a few feet away from John McCain as the Arizona senator "beat up" on Sinn Féin in a speech to the American-Ireland Fund dinner. Mr McCain compared the IRA to a crime syndicate and said "There is nothing republican about the Irish Republican Army." Referring to remarks by Martin McGuinness about the McCartney sisters being used for political purposes, Mr McCain said they should not tolerate any veiled threat to the McCartney sisters.

"Why should the McCartney sisters be 'very careful' not to cross the line into party politics? Party politics failed them." Several guests were angered by Mr McCain's outspokenness at a formal dinner while agreeing with him that the IRA should disband.

Congressman Peter King said Mr McCain's speech was "too one-sided". He agreed that the IRA should go out of business but Mr McCain "should have noted the tremendous input that Gerry Adams has had on the peace process, how far along Sinn Féin has brought the situation".

© The Irish Times


SF Risks US Exclusion Unless IRA Disbands, Says Ahern

Sinn Féin faces "total exclusion" in the United States unless the IRA disbands and ends criminality, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said following a White House meeting with President Bush, write Mark Hennessy and Conor O'Clery in Washington

Emphasising that patience in Washington was wearing thin with continuing difficulties in the peace process, Mr Ahern said every leading US figure he had spoken to wanted to "see action now".

Meanwhile, Mr Ahern has moved to increase significantly pressure on the British government to hold a full sworn public inquiry into the 1989 killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

President Bush, who was said to be "extremely receptive" to the Taoiseach's position on the Finucane inquiry, is to raise the issue with British prime minister Tony Blair.

Under legislation before the House of Commons, a judge heading such an inquiry could be prevented from hearing some evidence in public, and from hearing other evidence at all.

Canadian judge Peter Cory, who recommended the holding of a full inquiry, has told a Congress hearing that the British proposal would lead to a "meaningless" investigation.

Paying tribute to the Taoiseach for his "tireless work in the struggle against terrorism", President Bush said the US "will stand with you" in the effort to "walk the path of peace".

Speaking after a 45-minute meeting with President Bush, the Taoiseach warned that US leaders wanted to see the full implementation of the Good Friday agreement quickly. "If we don't, let's be frank about it: the icy reception of this week will turn into total exclusion which is the opposite of what I want to achieve.

"I don't think that they want to see us back here again saying that we have a few items outstanding."

The reception was attended by the five sisters and partner of Robert McCartney, who was killed by IRA members in Belfast, and by Ms Ann McCabe, the widow of Det Garda Jerry McCabe.

Praising the bravery of the McCartneys and the dead man's partner, Ms Bridgeen Hagans, President Bush said he was glad to be able to show "solidarity and support for them". Making a point of speaking to the women a second time as he left, Mr Bush said he had been "extremely impressed" by the stand they had taken since the brutal January killing.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and other Northern Ireland political party leaders were not invited this year to the White House, which wished principally to signal frustration about Sinn Féin.

Despite being excluded, Mr Adams has been backed by a number of long-time supporters in Congress, such as Peter King and Richie Neal.

Both men, and others, have been deeply angered by the blunt attack on Sinn Féin and the IRA made by Republican senator John McCain at the American Ireland Fund on Wednesday night.

In a sharply worded speech, Senator McCain said no one could now describe the IRA as "anything better than a criminal syndicate that steals and murders to serve members' personal interests".

Yesterday Congressman King, who emphasised he wanted the IRA to disband, said Senator McCain should have noted "the tremendous input" of Mr Adams in the peace process.

At a well-attended breakfast with the Friends of Sinn Féin organisation yesterday, Mr Adams said "that killings should not happen, bank robberies should not happen ... But I don't know anywhere in the world where events that happen are used to tear down a peace process."

© The Irish Times


Taoiseach Bertie Ahern presents the traditional bowl of shamrock to President Bush during a St Patrick's Day celebration in the Roosevelt room of the White House yesterday.

Bush Pays Tribute To Bravery Of McCartney Family

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent, in Washington

President George Bush yesterday saluted the bravery of the sisters and partner of the Belfast man, Robert McCartney, who was murdered by members of the IRA in January.

During a brief private meeting in the White House, the president said he was glad he could "show solidarity and support", Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said afterwards.

"The girls very succinctly stated that they were not bitter people, that what they wanted was justice, that they wanted the rule of law and the courts system to get justice for them.

"They gave a straight and simple message as they have at home," Mr Ahern said after the White House reception, and his own meeting with President Bush.

"The president was very well aware of the circumstances and extremely well briefed," said Mr Ahern, who travelled later to Capitol Hill for the annual lunch hosted by the speaker of the House of Representatives, Denis Hastert.

The McCartney sisters and Mr McCartney's partner, Bridgeen Hagans, were among 100 guests invited to the White House for a St Patrick Day's reception.

Mr Bush also received Mrs Anne McCabe, the widow of Det Garda Jerry McCabe, killed by an IRA gang in Adare, Co Limerick.

Speaking after the event, the Taoiseach said President Bush had "stated that the American administration would do all that they can do.

"He said he was glad they were here, that he was able to show solidarity and support for them.

"He told them that the bravery they had shown would help, not only to bring justice in their case but also show why we must end those things for the future," said Mr Ahern.

He called on Sinn Féin and the IRA to do everything possible "before Easter" to ensure that Mr McCartney's killers, who are leading members of the IRA in Belfast, can be prosecuted.

Describing the McCartney killing as "a world issue", Mr Ahern said a prosecution would show that "we are actually moving on at least phase one of a democratic peace.

"I can do nothing about that, however. That would be a first step, and then we could re-engage. I have said that we will meet Sinn Féin after Easter, but I have said that we would like to see progress on the issue this side of Easter," he said. Emphasising that President Bush and leading Irish-American political figures want to see an end to the IRA immediately, Mr Ahern acknowledged that patience in Washington is wearing thin.

"I could go around the house on that question, but that is the question that keeps facing me here," he said. "My own speech to the American Ireland Fund reflected what everyone is saying.

"I really think people feel that it is time to bring this to a conclusion. There are doubts in everybody's minds. The president did not have to spell it out, but it is in everybody's mind about whether people are actually going to deliver or not. I believe that they can. I hope that they will.

"We are prepared to work on an inclusive basis but, yes, there are doubts."

He explained that he had met the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, on Wednesday night in advance of the White House engagement in order to offer the president his "most honest assessment" of the crisis facing the peace process.

"Gerry Adams says he agrees that the full implementation of the Good Friday agreement is a shared value, and that he is prepared to work for that," Mr Ahern said. Every leading figure in Washington wanted to "see if we are going to get action".

The Taoiseach declared: "If we don't, let's be frank about it, the icy reception of this week will turn into total exclusion, which is the opposite of what I want to achieve.

"If we don't see action I am not too sure that I want to be around here next year," he commented, during a press conference on the White House grounds.

"The outstanding issues are absolutely crystal clear. Are they going to be delivered on to bring us to a conclusion?

"Let's be fair about this, there are responsibilities for everybody. If these things happen will the unionist community embrace what we are trying to achieve? Let's be aware that that issue is there as well."

Irish-American leaders and President Bush had been very clear that they wanted to see the full implementation of the agreement.

"I don't think they want to see us back here again saying that we have a few items outstanding.

"If people are committed to the Good Friday agreement, go out and implement it. Don't keep saying that you are committed to it, and not implementing it.

"Bring this an end and move on. That is what people are saying here very strongly."

© The Irish Times


White House Press Briefing
by Scott McClellan
March 17, 2005

Friday, 18 March 2005, 2:45 pm

Press Release: The White House
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 17, 2005

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

President's meeting with Prime Minister Ahern
President's meeting with McCartney sisters
Role of Sinn Fein going forward

1:22 P.M. EST

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, and Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone. America has greatly benefited from the contributions of the Irish. And the President was pleased to welcome Prime Minister Ahern back to the White House today, and receive the bowl of shamrocks from the Taoiseach. Our two nations enjoy a strong friendship that unites us.

The two leaders, following the Shamrock Ceremony, had the opportunity to sit down and visit. They had a very good discussion. The President and Prime Minister discussed a range of issues. They talked about the hopeful period it is in the Middle East and the advance of freedom and democracy in the region. They talked about Iraq and how advance -- Iraq is moving forward on the path to democracy, with the successful elections and the first meeting of the Transitional National Assembly.

And they talked about the Middle East peace process and the importance of supporting the aspirations of the Palestinian people, as they move forward to put the institutions in place for a democratic state to emerge. They also discussed Lebanon and Iran, and the President's recent trip to Europe, as well as other transatlantic issues.

And they discussed their shared commitment to peace in Northern Ireland. Both leaders agreed that the criminality and violence must end. The meeting was about 50 minutes long. And following that, the two leaders met with a number of civil society leaders who are committed to achieving a peaceful solution in Northern Ireland. This was over in the Diplomatic Reception Room, in the Residence. The President said that he strongly supports their efforts, and wants to see them succeed in their efforts to achieve peace. The President let them know that he believed they can show others around the world what is possible.

The President, during that time, was also honored to meet the sisters and fiancé of Robert McCartney. The President thanked the McCartney family for their courage. He knows that their courage comes from their love. And the President let them know that he shared in their grieving over the loss of their loved one. And he expressed to them that justice will prevail. The President also expressed his belief that everyday citizens can accomplish extraordinary things. The McCartney sisters have united people around the cause of peace and the rule of law. And the President let them know that the United States would do what we can to help. We stand ready to assist those who are committed to achieving a comprehensive peace in Northern Ireland.

And with that, I will be glad to take your questions.

Q The President -- the McCartney sisters said the President said he would do whatever he could to bring Robert McCartney's killers to justice. What, if anything, can the United States do to help on that front?

MR. McCLELLAN: He was simply letting them know that we will do whatever we can to assist. And I'm not sure that -- what has been asked of us at this point, but we stand ready to assist in helping the parties move forward on a comprehensive peace agreement. Today was a day to honor those civil society leaders who are committed to achieving a peaceful solution in Northern Ireland. That's why we invited them to the White House. And the President was honored that they came to the White House. When he began his conversation with the sisters, he said, welcome to the White House and God bless you. He talked about what brave souls they were, as you heard him say yesterday, and let them know that out of evil can come great good, and thanked them for their efforts.

Q You left Sinn Fein out of the events today. What is the relationship with Sinn Fein going to be going forward?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we want to see the parties, all parties, get back on the path to a comprehensive peace agreement. The violence and the criminal acts that continue remain an obstacle to a lasting and durable peace. We stand with Prime Minister Ahern and Prime Minister Blair in their efforts to bring about a comprehensive peace agreement.

Q Can I follow up on that, Scott?


Q Is the IRA one of those parties -- Mitchell Reiss, your Northern Ireland envoy, has said a couple times over the last week that it's time for the IRA to disband. Is there a place for the IRA in this? How can this process go forward? I gather the main impediment is over the --

MR. McCLELLAN: There is no place for the violence and the thuggery and the criminality. The President made that clear again today. And we do stand with the prime ministers who have expressed those sentiments regarding the IRA.

Q Substantively, though, what would you like to see happen to encourage the IRA and Sinn Fein to come back to the negotiating table to talk about the substantive issue, which I gather is over the conditions under which the IRA would disarm?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Prime Ministers Ahern and Blair have spoken to this issue. We're supporting their efforts to get back on the path to a comprehensive peace agreement. And that's where it stands. The sisters coming here sends the message that we are united with those who are working in the society to end the violence and bring about peace.

Thank you all.

END 1:55 P.M. EST


Gerry Adams Restates Commitment To Peace


Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Gerry Adams, shunned by President Bush as an apologist for murderers, declared Thursday that nothing is more important to him or any other Irish politician than the peace process.

At the same time, he refused to cede ground on any of his positions that the Irish and British governments consider have stalemated the process.

For instance, he did not deny that his often-stated goal of eliminating all weapons from Northern Ireland, not only those of the predominantly Roman Catholic Irish Republican Army, would apply also to the British province's police force and British troops there. It is a "clear statement of interest," Adams said, "but not conditional."

Also, while praising Irish-Americans for putting momentum into the search for harmony in Ireland, Adams minimized the importance of his being denied meetings with Irish-American lawmakers who could be crucial to his dream of ending British rule in Northern Ireland's six counties.

Adams, whose legal political party Sinn Fein is affiliated with the outlawed IRA, was on his annual St. Patrick's Day pilgrimage to Washington. He was not invited to the White House observance of the day of Ireland's patron saint for the first time since 1995, when then-President Clinton began trying to persuade Adams to pressure the IRA to lay down its arms.

The Clinton initiative helped bring about a peace accord in 1998 that would provide a measure of self-government to the province run by both those who want union with the Irish Republic and those who want to remain a part of the United Kingdom. After early promise, the plan is stalemated, and both sides blame the other.

At a news conference, Adams said he and Bertie Ahern, Ireland's prime minister in Washington for the White House party, met Wednesday night and discussed "the need to put the peace process back together." They will meet again in Ireland, Adams said.

"The issue of the peace process is certainly the most important matter for any Irish politician," said Adams. His late father spent eight years in prison for shooting and wounding a policeman in a botched IRA operation in 1942, and both father and son were interned without trial in the early 1970s as IRA suspects.

Adams' social and business schedules in Washington were upset this year mainly by U.S. officials' reaction to two events: a $50 million bank robbery that authorities blamed on the IRA and a killing at a crowded pub that police and the victim's family say has not been solved because witnesses are afraid to talk.

Adams described the situation as "considerable turbulence" because of the "focus on some recent events back in Ireland."

He said the bank robbery was wrong, but "the IRA denies it was involved. I believe the IRA. Others don't."

As for the death of Robert McCartney, Adams said it was not an IRA operation, and the IRA quickly ejected any of its members who were involved. Adams said he fully supports the family's search for justice, but he said Northern Ireland authorities were stringing out the investigation intentionally.

Since he arrived in New York this week, Adams said, he has been reading that he was being shunned, "but I'm not. I've been reading that Sinn Fein is under pressure, but aside from jet lag, I'm under no more pressure than usual."

He indicated he was unhappy that Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., refused to see him. Kennedy traditionally has been a leading advocate of Adams and Sinn Fein's goals. The decision, Adams said, was "unfortunate, and, I feel, ill-advised."


A riot of colourful participants in Dublin's St Patrick's Day parade

Sun Shone The Right Way On Dublin Parade

Olivia Kelly

More than half a million spectators turned out on what was one of the warmest, sunniest days this year to attend the country's biggest St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin city.

Some 3,000 participants, including 17 international marching bands and 10 "pageants", marched from Parnell Square to St Patrick's Cathedral in the opposite direction to previous parade routes.

Organisers said the new route was likely to be retained.

"Originally the decision was taken because it was better in terms of pictures for the cameramen and photographers, because the parade would have the sun shining on it.

"But it looked fantastic to have everyone coming from O'Connell Street," a festival spokeswoman said.

The parade was due to start at noon, but was delayed by five minutes following a minor incident involving one of the horses that draws the Lord Mayor's Coach. The animal became agitated and broke from its harness, but was quickly secured.

Four grand marshals from Irish aid agencies were selected to lead this year's parade in recognition of the public's contribution to the Asian tsunami disaster.

They were John O'Shea of Goal, Paddy McGuinness of Concern, Carmel Dunne of the Irish Red Cross and Justin Kilcullen of Trócaire.

The grand marshals introduced the theatrical section of the parade, with the core attraction of the pageants or "floats".

The overall prize for the "premier pageant" went to the Brighter Futures Project for "The Nutterfly Effect", which involved 600 transition-year students from schools across Dublin.

The "spirit of the parade" prize was won by Cosa Measta from Donegal for their surreal take on Irish culture and politics entitled "The Ministry of Mayhem".

Dutch group, Maastrichtse Verkennersband, won the best band competition.

The parade was followed by the Céilí Mór at Earlsfort Terrace and the Festival Fun Fair, which runs until Sunday at Merrion Square West.

Other festival events include the Wacky Rally starting from Wilton Terrace on the Grand Canal to the south of the city from 6.30pm today; an outdoor food and craft market in O'Connell Street and Wolfe Tone Park until Sunday from 10am to 6pm; and the Skyfest fireworks display at 8pm tomorrow at the Custom House.

© The Irish Times

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