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March 22, 2005

Inquiries Bill: The Wrong Answer

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

AA 03/22/05
The Inquiries Bill: The Wrong Answer
IT 03/23/05 IRA Has 'Tried To Assist' McCartney Family
IT 03/23/05 Full Text Of The IRA Statement
IT 03/23/05 Belfast Accord 'Must Be Made To Work'
IT 03/23/05 Sinn Féin Selects Candidate For Belfast Council Seat
IO 03/22/05 Garda Sergeants Back Irish Language Requirement
IT 03/23/05 Study Finds 'Homogeneity In Cultures'
IT 03/23/05 Stark Division Over United Ireland
IT 03/23/05 Religions Differ Over Effects Of Belfast Agreement
IT 03/23/05 Survey Finds Irish Have Most In Common With UK
IT 03/23/05 Unique Bond Exists Between Britain & Ireland- Blair
SM 03/22/05 Inquiry Call Over Murder Of Special Branch Duo
DJ 03/22/05 Derry's Name Row Heads To High Court
BT 03/22/05 Victim's Family Demand Adams Meeting
TE 03/22/05 Dominic Cavendish Reviews The Wrong Man
LD 03/22/05 Irish Channel To Launch On Cable And Satellite In U.S.


The Inquiries Bill: The Wrong Answer

Amnesty International
Public Statement
AI Index: EUR 45/008/2005 (Public)
News Service No: 69

22 March 2005

UK: The Inquiries Bill - the Wrong Answer

A Joint Statement by:

Amnesty International
British Irish rights watch
The Committee on the Administration of Justice
Human Rights First
The Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association
Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada
The Law Society of England and Wales
Pat Finucane Centre
Scottish Human Rights Centre

22nd March 2005

The above-listed organisations jointly express our concern over some of the provisions of the Inquiries Bill introduced into Parliament on 24th November 2004. The Bill, being discussed this week by a Standing Committee of the House of Commons, would, if enacted, alter fundamentally the system for establishing and running inquiries into issues of great public importance in the UK, including allegations of serious human rights violations. Should it be passed into law, the effect of the Bill on individuals and cases that merit a public inquiry would be highly detrimental. In particular, in those cases where one or more person has died or been killed, the right of their surviving family members to know the truth about what happened and to an effective investigation could be violated by the operation of the Bill.

The fundamental problem contained in the Inquiries Bill is its shift in emphasis towards inquiries established and largely controlled by government Ministers. This shift is achieved by the repeal of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 and the terms of several of the Bill's clauses. These clauses grant broad powers to the Minister establishing an inquiry on issues such as the setting of the terms of reference, restrictions on funding for an inquiry, suspension or termination of an inquiry, restrictions on public access to inquiry proceedings and to evidence submitted to an inquiry, and restrictions on public access to the final report of an inquiry. The Bill does not grant the independence to inquiry chairs and panels that has made their role so crucial in examining issues, particularly where public confidence has been undermined.

Several of us have already laid out our concerns about the Bill in earlier statements and briefings and we are pleased to note that some amendments to the Bill have already been adopted in the House of Lords. However, we continue to have serious concerns about the Bill in its current form and we urge all members of Parliament to take these concerns into account in their ongoing consideration of the Bill. We also wish to draw attention to the views expressed on this matter by the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, by the Public Administration Select Committee, and by two notable jurists, namely Lord Saville of Newdigate and former Canadian Supreme Court justice Judge Peter Cory.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has concluded that several provisions of the Bill may not be compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in that they would inhibit an effective investigation into cases involving deaths. For example, the Committee has expressed concern that "the threat of withdrawal of funding by the Minister could unduly constrain the independence of an inquiry, and fail to satisfy the Article 2 requirement of an independent inquiry." The Committee has further stated that "the independence of a tribunal is secured both by the institutional and legal structure in which it operates, and by the restraint and impartiality exercised in practice by those involved. Even given the proper restraint by Ministers in the exercise of powers considered above, their availability in respect of an inquiry would risk affecting its independence, both actual and perceived." With particular regard to the power of Ministers to issue restriction notices, the Committee concluded that "the independence of an inquiry is put at risk by ministerial power to issue these restrictions, and ...this lack of independence may fail to satisfy the Article 2 obligation to investigate..." It also was concerned that the ministerial power to withhold publication of all or part of an inquiry report is "wide enough to compromise the independence of an inquiry."

The Public Administration Select Committee also criticised many facets of the Inquiries Bill, in its report following its inquiry into "Government by Inquiry". In particular, the Committee expressed concern about Ministers conducting inquiries into their own or their department's actions.

Published correspondence between Lord Saville, who chairs the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, and DCA Minister Baroness Ashton relating to the Bill is also of great importance, as it demonstrates the serious reservations of a senior judge and chair of a complex current inquiry. In particular, Lord Saville is concerned about the clause granting Ministers the power to issue notices restricting public access to inquiry proceedings and materials. In a letter of 26th January, Lord Saville states, "I take the view that this provision makes a very serious inroad into the independence of any inquiry and is likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings, especially in cases where the conduct of the authorities may be in question." He further stated that neither he nor his fellow judges on the BSI would be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of that kind. Despite the addition in the House of Lords of a clause setting out a presumption of public access to inquiry proceedings, restriction notices issued by Ministers could still result in secret inquiries that would, as feared by Lord Saville, be "likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings, especially in cases where the conduct of the authorities may be in question."

On 15th March, 2005, Judge Peter Cory, a retired Canadian Supreme Court justice who was appointed by the British and Irish governments in 2002 to investigate allegations of state collusion in six controversial murder cases, wrote a letter expressing his own fears about the potential effects of the Inquiries Bill. He described the Bill as "unfortunate to say the least" and with specific reference to the case of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane stated, "It seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible." Judge Cory noted that "the Minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step" and he concluded that he "cannot contemplate any self respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed act".

We agree with all of these views and urge Parliament to take them very seriously. An inquiry held under the Bill as currently drafted would not be effective, independent, impartial or thorough, nor would the evidence presented to it be subject to sufficient public scrutiny. Such an inquiry would fall far short of the requirement of international human rights law that an effective remedy be provided to the victims of human rights violations. Moreover, the passage of the Inquiries Bill in its current form would do great harm to the tradition of public inquiries in the UK and would undermine the important principles of accountability and transparency. In order to command public confidence, it is absolutely necessary that an inquiries system permit close independent public scrutiny and provide for the active participation of the relevant victims. The Inquiries Bill does not do this.


IRA Has 'Tried To Assist' McCartney Family

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The IRA in its Easter statement said its members are not criminals, and it has done all in its power to assist the McCartney family to bring Robert's killers to justice.

The statement, which carries the P O'Neill imprimatur, did not refer to the IRA's offer to shoot those members centrally involved in the fatal stabbing of Mr McCartney over seven weeks ago.

"The IRA moved quickly to deal with those involved. We have tried to assist in whatever way we can," it said. "Unfortunately, it would appear that no matter what we do it will never be enough for some.

"The IRA has spelt out its position in relation to the killing of Robert McCartney. It was wrong, it was murder, it was a crime. But it was not carried out by the IRA, nor was it carried out on behalf of the IRA.

"Those in the political and media establishments, who have been so quick to jump on the bandwagon, have again laid bare their own hypocrisy. This causes justifiable resentment among republicans. But it must not cloud the issue. Óglaigh na hÉireann expects the highest standards of conduct from our volunteers."

The IRA made no reference to the Northern Bank robbery or the allegations that it is engaged in multi-million money-laundering, but insisted it was not criminal. "Our patriot dead are not criminals."

There was no hint or threat of the IRA potentially ending its ceasefire. Not was there was any suggestion that the IRA was preparing for a radical initiative to help end the Northern political logjam.

It said that from over 10 years ago "until now", it had "demonstrated our continuing support for this process".

The IRA said for the past two years the process "has been locked in stalemate and has slipped backwards into deepening crisis", but blamed this situation on "rejectionist unionism, aided and abetted by the two governments".

The statement, carried in today's edition of An Phoblacht, blamed unionists for rejecting IRA "initiatives" in October 2003 and December last year.

"The DUP attempted to turn the initiative of December 2004 into a humiliation of the IRA," it said.

"The concerted efforts of both governments since then to undermine the integrity of our cause, by seeking to criminalise the republican struggle, is clear evidence that our opponents remain fixated with the objective of defeating republicans, rather than developing the peace process."

© The Irish Times


Full Text Of The IRA Statement

The following is the full text of the IRA Easter message as published in today's issue of An Phoblacht:

"On this, the 89th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916, we remember the men and women of every generation who have given their lives in the struggle for Irish freedom.

The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann extends solidarity to the families of our comrades who have fallen during this phase of the struggle. We remember those comrades with honour and pride.

We send solidarity to our Volunteers and to our friends and supporters at home and abroad.

We think of our imprisoned comrades and their families at this time also.

Over ten years ago, the leadership of the IRA declared a complete cessation of military operations. We did so to enhance the development of the Irish peace process.

>From then until now we have, on a number of occasions, demonstrated our continuing support for this process.

At times of significant crisis or political impasse, we have taken initiatives to move the situation forward.

Our approach has been premised on the belief that the achievement of a just and lasting peace requires constant forward momentum in the peace process.

For the past two years, the peace process has been locked in stalemate and has slipped backwards into deepening crisis.

During that period, specifically in October 2003 and in December 2004, we agreed to significant initiatives as part of an agreement to break the logjam. On each occasion, other parties reneged on their commitments.

An unprecedented opportunity to transform the situation on the island of Ireland was thrown away by rejectionist unionism, aided and abetted by the two governments.

The DUP attempted to turn the initiative of December 2004 into a humiliation of the IRA. The concerted efforts of both governments since then to undermine the integrity of our cause, by seeking to criminalise the republican struggle, is clear evidence that our opponents remain fixated with the objective of defeating republicans rather than developing the peace process.

The sustained campaign directed against the republican people over recent months is nothing new. We have seen and heard it all before.

Those who opted to follow the Thatcher path will not succeed.

Our patriot dead are not criminals. We are not criminals.

Republican men and women suffered deprivation and torture to defeat attempts to criminalise our struggle. Ten of our comrades endured the agony of hunger strike and died defeating the criminalisation strategy.

We will not betray their courage by tolerating criminality within our own ranks. We will not allow our opponents to further their own petty self-interests by levelling false allegations against Óglaigh na hÉireann.

The IRA has spelt out its position in relation to the killing of Robert McCartney. It was wrong, it was murder, it was a crime. But it was not carried out by the IRA, nor was it carried out on behalf of the IRA.

The IRA moved quickly to deal with those involved. We have tried to assist in whatever way we can. Unfortunately, it would appear that no matter what we do it will never be enough for some.

Those in the political and media establishments who have been so quick to jump on the bandwagon have again laid bare their own hypocrisy.

This causes justifiable resentment among republicans. But it must not cloud the issue. Óglaigh na hÉireann expects the highest standards of conduct from our Volunteers.

Struggle requires sacrifice and discipline. It promises hardship and suffering. Our fallen comrades rose to those challenges and met them head on.

The discipline and commitment of our Volunteers and the wider republican base have been the backbone of our struggle. In these testing times, that steadfastness and determination are needed more and more.

We salute you and urge you to remain strong and united.

The crisis in the peace process and the reinvigorated attempts to criminalise us have not diminished in any way our determination to pursue and achieve our republican objectives.

Irish unity and independence provides the best context for the people of this island to live together in harmony.

The primary responsibility now rests with the two governments.

They must demonstrate their commitment to a lasting peace.

Pandering to the demands of those who are opposed change is not the way forward."

P O'Neill,
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau

© The Irish Times


Belfast Accord 'Must Be Made To Work'

Christine Newman

The Belfast Agreement had to be made to work and, despite the setbacks, the situation was a great improvement on what went before, Senator Martin Mansergh said last night.

Dr Mansergh, former political adviser to the Taoiseach on Northern Ireland, was speaking in a debate organised by Sinn Féin on The search for the Republic: Visionary or Criminal?

He said the peace process was not based on a common analysis or agreement regarding the legitimacy of the IRA campaign. In fact it was based on disagreement. Successive governments had never regarded it as anything other than criminal of a political character.

The fact was that this State had not regarded the IRA campaign as legitimate but it had recognised that it had a political character, for example on debates on extradition, he said.

"I think with the Good Friday agreement we do have to make that work. Despite all the setbacks, the situation is a great improvement on what went before," he said.

He said he thought the more radical the republican movement could become in shedding what no longer had a purpose today the better the chance of achieving this. He said the criminal and political were not necessarily opposites. The use of the word criminal was not just to be used in the literal sense but also as a value judgment.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, of Sinn Féin, said criminality depended on the context. That was why people were trying to criminalise the struggle now.

Since December slurs had been cast on the party. There had been much media and political attacks on Sinn Féin with increasing vitriol.

"To sum up, the intent of most was to criminalise Sinn Féin,"he said.

The attacks had continued because opponents could not succeed in humiliating Sinn Féin.

"We reached a point in negotiation where it was going to be a very important development in Ireland," he said.

He added: "If we believe in ideals then we should be capable of defending them."

If he was to look at all the criminals that were now heads of state then he was proud to stand against oppression, he said.

Also, there was a concept that the law could be opposed in the common good.

For example, a starving family, whose parents stole food for the children. That concept could be extended upwards in opposing oppression. That was what happened in Ireland for 800 years.

The very terms such as freedom fighters or terrorists depended on perception and political ideology, he said.

© The Irish Times


Sinn Féin Selects Candidate For Belfast Council Seat

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Sinn Féin has selected a candidate to fight for its Short Strand Belfast Council seat, currently held by Belfast deputy lord mayor Joe O'Donnell, which Paula McCartney is also considering contesting.

Sinn Féin selected community worker Deborah Devenny to contest the local government seat in May, and also to compete for the East Belfast Westminster seat held by DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson.

Ms McCartney, sister of murdered Short Strand man Robert McCartney, has indicated that to highlight the family's "Justice for Robert" campaign, she may also contest the Short Strand council seat.

She has yet to take a final decision on the matter.

Ms Devenny, who replaces the outgoing Mr O'Donnell, yesterday expressed support for the McCartneys.

"The horrific murder of Robert McCartney has clearly caused immense anguish and upset within the community here in the Short Strand.

"Robert was a valued member of our community and I support fully the campaign by his family for justice," she said.

"There are also major social and economic challenges facing this community.

"There is a severe lack of social housing for nationalists in east Belfast and there needs to be a greater community involvement in the ongoing regeneration of the Laganside area," added Ms Devenny.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, has again claimed that the PSNI is "dragging its heels" on key elements of its investigation into Mr McCartney's murder.

He repeated his accusation that the PSNI had turned away a key suspect and witness whose testimony "would be key in bringing forward charges" and that police had failed in their duty to put suspects on an identity parade to test if witnesses would implicate them in the killing.

"This investigation is being driven by political considerations rather than justice," added Mr McGuinness.

The PSNI has rejected these charges while the McCartney family say that no witness has yet come forward with evidence that could convict Robert McCartney's killers.

© The Irish Times


Garda Sergeants Back Irish Language Requirement
2005-03-22 17:20:03+00

New Garda recruits from ethnic communities should have the "basic respect" to learn Irish , a conference heard today.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) voted in favour of keeping the language requirement for joining the force.

Sergeant Padraig Dolan from the Galway West division said he had no objection to recruits from new ethnic communities, which Michael McDowell intends to attract by relaxing the language requirement.

"But let them learn the ways of our Irish society, the ways of our Irish culture and community and have at least the minimum respect and support for our own native language," he said.

He said, in Irish, that the issue had huge relevance in the Gaeltacht areas.

"If there isn't a minimum standard for every person joining the Garda Siochana, to be able to write down the name and address of a person who wishes to give their name in Irish and to talk to them in some way, I think it would be very unfortunate."

However, Sergeant Liam Tighe of the Garda National Immigration Bureau said he was concerned that the motion would be seen as exclusive.

"We should be inclusive because we have to police the entire country not just the Irish speakers," he said.

He warned that Ireland was a rapidly changing country, with hundreds of thousands of new people arriving.

"With them comes an awful lot of good, but also there are, among some of these communities, some criminal elements. And we have to incorporate good people from these communities into the Garda Siochana to help us keep track of the bad that comes too."

However, ASGI executive member Tony O'Donnell said there had been a historic fear of the language in the force.

"When I joined an Garda Siochana, there was a tendency to see that anyone who spoke the language had subversive leanings and we'd become used to seeing people with such leanings appear in our media and speak the 'cupla focal' (few words) and pretend that it makes them more Irish than the rest of us."

He told the conference that gardai no longer had any reason to fear the language.

He added that the motion allowed time for new recruits to learn Irish before they became full members of the force.


Study Finds 'Homogeneity In Cultures'

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

A new comparative study of attitudes and values among Catholics and Protestants in Ireland has found an "extraordinary homogeneity in cultures on the island".

Speaking at a press briefing in Dublin yesterday on the ESRI report, Conflict and Consensus: a Study of Values and Attitudes in the Republic and Northern Ireland, Dr Tony Fahey also said that, leaving aside security issues, Catholics in Northern Ireland rated the system of governance there more positively than did people in the UK.

Prof Richard Sinnott noted the strong consensus on family and sexual issues among Catholics and Protestants, North and South, compared to their counterparts in other European countries.

He also described how the left/right divide on the island of Ireland was aligned along liberal/conservative approaches to issues of family and sexual morality rather than along the more traditional economic lines of mainland Europe.

Both conducted research for the study along with Dr Bernadette Hayes, who was abroad yesterday.

On church attendance in Ireland, the study found that, although this was in decline among Catholics and Protestants, North and South, of 31 European countries surveyed, only people in Malta and Poland attended services more regularly.

They study also found that secularisation, which was slow to take hold in Ireland, had intensified in the 1990s and in the early years of this century in both the North and the Republic.

However, at the end of the 20th century, Ireland as a whole had remained among the most Christian parts of Europe and among the most committed to institutionalised religious activity.

The decline which had taken place had been moderate by European standards and had left Ireland with levels of formal religious adherence well above those of other European countries.

Despite church scandals and secularisation in the Republic, allegiance to Catholicism had held up somewhat better than allegiance to Protestantism during the 1990s, although this difference had begun to narrow in the early years of the present decade, the study found.

Generally, it found that formal religious adherence had not suffered any greater decline among Catholics in the Republic than it had among either Protestants or Catholics in Northern Ireland.

On only one indicator - confidence in the church - did Catholics in the Republic return a significantly lower score than Catholics and Protestants in the North. The study found that this was partly a reflection of the spate of church scandals, although an underlying downward trend was detected from the 1970s.

This was thought to have been a result of legal/political conflicts through three decades over contraception, divorce and abortion which generally put Catholic teaching at odds with opinion and practice among a substantial sector of the population of the Republic. However, Catholics in the South had been slow to disavow their Catholic connections entirely and, up to the end of the 1990s, only small minorities had reported never attending religious services.

© The Irish Times


Stark Division Over United Ireland

Patsy McGarry

More Catholics in the South favour an independent Northern Ireland than do Protestants in the South. Where Catholics are concerned, the figure is almost a third, at 32.5 per cent, while for southern Protestants it is less than a quarter, at 23.3 per cent.

Over a third of northern Catholics do not want a united Ireland.

Among southern Catholics, 54.9 per cent favour a united Ireland, while 9.1 per cent believe the North should remain in the UK. Among Protestants in the South 41.9 per cent favour a united Ireland, with 23.3 per cent believing the North should remain in the UK.

In the North, 65 per cent of Catholics want a united Ireland. But 21.1 per cent believe it should remain in the UK, with 11.2 per cent favouring an independent Northern Ireland.

Among northern Protestants an overwhelming 87.7 per cent believe Northern Ireland should remain in the UK, with 5.1 per cent favouring an independent Northern Ireland. Only 3.8 per cent favour a united Ireland.

Despite the quite extraordinary consensus in values and attitudes among Catholics and Protestants North and South, there remains stark division when it comes to the constitutional question, particularly in the North.

In the South, identity is characterised "by overwhelming uniformity" descended from a strong national identity forged in the 19th century, with a strong linkage between "Irish" and "Catholic". Following earlier alienation there has been "increasingly widespread acceptance of an Irish identity among the Protestant population in the Republic".

This "has been accompanied by a growing sense of distance from northern Protestants and a rejection by southern Protestants of their portrayal by their northern co-religionists as an oppressed minority". By the mid-1990s Protestants in the South were said to have far more in common with their Catholic fellow citizens than with their northern co-religionists.

A European Values Survey 1999-2000 found that 99 per cent of southern Catholics were "very/quite proud" to be citizens of the Republic while such figures for Protestants in the Republic was 93 per cent. Figures for the "very proud" among all citizens of the Republic have soared since the arrival of the Celtic Tiger, rising from 55 per cent in 1994 to 71 per cent in 2003.

© The Irish Times


Religions Differ Over Effects Of Belfast Agreement

Patsy McGarry

Catholics in the North have given a much higher rating to the system of government than was the case 10 years ago. Similar ratings for northern Protestants are balanced, at 30 - 31 per cent, between those saying it is better and worse than a decade ago. The Catholic rating had 60 per cent noting an improvement.

This increased satisfaction is further reflected in both communities' attitude to the effects of the Belfast Agreement.

While there is growing disillusionment among northern Protestants with the agreement and a dominant view that it has benefited nationalists more, there is a growing perception among Catholics that nationalists have benefited better from the agreement.

It is on issues of family and sexual morality that Catholics and Protestants on the island find most common ground. Both have deeply held views against abortion, with opposition highest among regular Church attenders.

Of the European countries surveyed, only Malta opposes abortion more strongly.

Where homosexuality is concerned, both communities hold increasingly tolerant views and are at the mid-range among European countries.

Where most family/sexual morality related issues are concerned, Catholics and Protestants on the island have "experienced a substantial shift towards the liberal positions common in most European countries".

But "the family is still as highly valued as in the past, and marital infidelity is still widely disapproved of".

Yet "unmarried parenthood has become more widely accepted, though majorities still regard joint parenthood as better for children's welfare. Opposition to abortion and homosexuality has declined, but is still high, especially among Catholics in the case of abortion, and among Protestants in the case of homosexuality".

The study concludes that "on all the major issues, the Republic and Northern Ireland, and Protestants and Catholics within both parts of Ireland, are closer to each other than to most other national populations in Europe".

It was "particularly notable that Northern Ireland as a whole, and Protestants within Northern Ireland, are quite at a remove from Britain on these issues".

On the major aspects of family and sexual values examined, it found that "northern Protestants have more in common with the Catholic population on the island of Ireland than they do with the rest of the United Kingdom".

© The Irish Times


Survey Finds Irish Have Most In Common With UK

Paul Cullen

Ireland and the UK have more in common than we think and relations between the two countries are getting better, according to a survey of Irish attitudes towards its nearest neighbour.

Almost 60 per cent of Irish people identify the UK as the country we have most in common with, the survey - carried out for the British Council - has found.

This was well ahead of the US (21 per cent), Australia (4 per cent), France (3 per cent) and Spain (3 per cent). Italy and Canada, each selected by 1 per cent of respondents, ranked at the bottom of the list.

However, Irish ambivalence about our neighbours is evident in a question about support for sports teams.

One-third of Irish people say that they would be most likely to support Scotland in a tournament in which Ireland was not playing.

This compares to 24 per cent support for England, 15 per cent for Wales and France, and 4 per cent for Germany. But when asked which team they were least likely to support, 32 per cent said England, the same score as for Germany. In contrast, only 3 per cent said that they would be least likely to support Scotland.

However, further analysis shows that sporting rivalries are not indicative of a more significant divide, according to the survey. Two-thirds of Irish people believe that the two countries have more in common than we think, but the survey shows differences in the regard held for different regions of the UK.

The greatest affinity is for Scotland, followed by the north-west of England and London.

Only 1 per cent said they felt Ireland had most in common with the south-east of England.

Just over half of those questioned felt that Irish people's attitudes towards the UK had improved over the past decade, although this trend was less marked among young people and Dubliners.

The US is perceived as having integrated migrant communities better than other countries; 16 per cent said that Ireland was the least successful country in this regard. The survey also shows that Irish people are strongly convinced of their country's commitment to the EU.

In contrast, the UK is viewed as the least constructive participant.

Some 1,200 adults were questioned for the survey, which was carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes.

© The Irish Times


'Unique Bond' Exists Between Britain And Ireland, Writes Blair

Paul Cullen

A "unique bond" exists between Britain and Ireland as a result of - and not in spite of - a turbulent shared history, according to British prime minister Tony Blair.

The frequent blurring and redrawing of boundaries between the two countries has produced "tension, division and hardship", Mr Blair acknowledges in a preface to a new book on British-Irish relations.

However, he says, the present is "a time of opportunity and renewal" for the relationship between the two countries.

"Our shared heritage is finding new forms of expression. I look forward, with confidence, to the transformation to come."

In a second preface to the book, Britain & Ireland: Lives Entwined, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says "a new era of co-operation" now exists between Ireland and its closest neighbours.

According to Mr Ahern, "enormous progress" has been made in seeking a long-term solution to conflict in Ireland.

"The relationship between two neighbours will never be completely free of tension; but it is gratifying to know that so many people on this island have put behind them a lot of antagonism that has had a negative influence in the past."

The book, published by the British Council in Ireland, contains eight essays exploring the evolution of the relationship between Britain and Ireland since independence.

Contributors include former taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald, who argues that Irish independence was necessary for the elimination of economic inequalities between the two countries, as well as Eoghan Harris, Trevor Ringland and Senator Maurice Hayes.

Its launch yesterday by Tánaiste Mary Harney formed part of a series of events organised by the British Council and the Institute for British-Irish Studies.

These include a debate held last night on the motion: "This house believes that Britain is just another foreign country."

© The Irish Times


Inquiry Call Over Murder Of Special Branch Duo

By Senan Hogan, PA

Members of the Dail parliament will debate a motion today to set up a public inquiry into the IRA killing of two senior RUC officers in south Armagh in 1989.

Special Branch officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan died in a hail of bullets during an ambush.

They were returning from a meeting at Dundalk Garda Station and it has been alleged that a garda tipped off the IRA on the officers’ movements.

Irish justice minister Michael McDowell, who has moved the motion, is expected to call for full co-operation from the gardai and the IRA into the probe.

His spokesman added: “It is hoped this sworn inquiry will finally shed light on claims of alleged collusion by gardai into the double killing.”

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended in a 2004 report that a public inquiry should be conducted into the killings.

The inquiry is likely to increase pressure on the British government to investigate other disputed Northern Ireland killings in which British security force collusion is alleged.

Irish premier Bertie Ahern insisted last week that the British government must honour a deal to hold a full sworn public inquiry into the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989.

New draft Commons legislation to allow government ministers to limit such inquiries is currently before the House of Lords.


Derry's Name Row Heads To High Court

By Amanda Williams
Tuesday 22nd March 2005

THE ACRIMINOUS Derry/ Londonderry debate is due to escalate even further when Sinn Fein's Barney O'Hagan tells Derry City Council today he is prepared to serve papers at the High Court seeking a final legal determination on the situation.

Speaking to the 'Journal' last night, Councillor O'Hagan said it was the only 'sensible' course of action left open.

"In February this year our legal team again wrote to the DOE serving notice of intent to serve papers to the High Court if no response was received in relation to the substantive question - the official name of the city - after fourteen days, a question we had asked them in March 2003" Colr. O'Hagan said.

"A second letter was sent seeking disclosure of all information in their possession in relation to the name of the city quoting the freedom of information act.

"The DOE have now responded to the City Solicitor. They say the matter is legally complex and they conclude by advising Derry City Council to seek its own professional advice."

Colr. O'Hagan says he now believes that the DOE would welcome a High Court decision on the status of the city name, a proposal he will put before councillors and the City Solicitor this afternoon.

"Papers are already prepared so unless legal advice differs I will be proposing serving them immediately" he said.

S.F. 'election stunt'

Meanwhile DUP MLA William Hay has accused Sinn Fein of using the issue as an 'election stunt'.

"People needn't be bluffed. Sinn Fein are using the city name debate to embarrass the SDLP and to create a problem for both communities, but especially the Unionist community,

in the run up to the election. The issue should be of no concern to Council" he said.

SDLP Council Group leader Pat Ramsey said: "Last year the SDLP brought put forward a composite motion to deal with this issue through the proper channels and in a sensitive way. The response from the DOE to the City Solicitor is the outworkings of that motion. This is the next step in that process."

In January 2003 Colr. O'Hagan put a resolution to Council to change the official name of the city from Londonderry to Derry. The resolution was passed with the support of the SDLP. Council then wrote to the DOE in March 2003 asking advice on the procedure to be followed to change the name of the city. Included in the correspondence was a detailed legal opinion suggesting the name had already changed back in 1984.


Victim's Family Demand Adams Meeting

By Geraldine Mulholland

22 March 2005

The family of stabbing victim Jimmy McGinley today demanded a meeting directly with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and rejected an offer to meet a Foyle assembly member.

An aunt said the family were 'unnerved' by the offer of a meeting with Raymond McCartney in the presence of a priest in a local parochial house, after they had written to request a meeting with the party leader.

The family said they received two letters from Sinn Fein last week - one from Mr Adams' office and one from Derry MLA Raymond McCartney.

Mr McCartney then made phone contact with the family and invited them to a meeting with him, in the presence of a priest in a parochial house in Derry.

McGinley's aunt Kathleen said: "I can't understand this at all. We contacted the party leader requesting a meeting with him to discuss our problems and we're offered a meeting with the local Sinn Fein in the company of a priest in a parochial house. What's that all about?

"We'll not be meeting with any members of Sinn Fein from Derry until we're convinced that they'll do the right thing by this family. As far as we're concerned, they're part of our problem."


Dominic Cavendish Reviews The Wrong Man At Pleasance, London

Highly charged drama

(Filed: 22/03/2005)

This debut play from Danny Morrison, a former IRA volunteer who was director of publicity for Sinn Fein between 1979 and 1990, triumphantly confirms the old adage that you should write about what you know.

Danny Morrison: doesn't stint on showing the ugly

As a result of the fact that its author was at the centre of the Republican movement for such a long time - most notoriously, he was spokesman for Bobby Sands during the 1981 hunger strikes - his taut, gritty drama bears the unmistakable stamp of lived experience. What's far less expected, and what makes critical praise far easier to issue, is that it refuses to propagandise for "the cause".

At a time when the IRA's reputation has sunk to a new low following the murder of the Belfast man Robert McCartney, Morrison's play reminds us that the "struggle" was always as much about retaining internal cohesion as it was about fighting external foes. Transporting us to Belfast of 1984, he centres the action on a bunch of Provos who, far from being united by the uncompromising tactics of the Thatcher government, are riven by paranoia thanks to the security services' determination to lean on suspects and get them to turn "supergrass".

The play opens with Tod, a young volunteer, sitting bound, gagged and hooded, and facing interrogation and probable execution from three fellow IRA members for treachery. It's a classic catch-22 situation - both talking and refusing to talk will result in him incriminating himself.

But it's not until the close of the play when, at the end of a cycle of flashbacks, we see Tod being interrogated at the hands of the RUC for his part in a sectarian killing, that we realise just how hopeless his case is: if he fails to turn informer, the IRA can still be made to believe he has done so.

The intervening scenes, a mixture of the highly charged and underpowered in Sarah Tipple's uneven but excellently acted production, sketch in more details about Tod, an ordinary man with humble dreams, an increasingly troubled conscience and a wandering eye where ladies are concerned.

If he's portrayed too sympathetically - Chris Patrick-Simpson is often restricted to expressions of perspiring anxiety - Morrison doesn't stint on showing the ugly, sardonic face of the men calling the shots or the sullen despair of the womenfolk left to soldier on in loveless lives.

No theatre on either side of the Irish border would touch this, apparently. Full marks to the brave Pleasance in north London for doing so.

Until April 3. Tickets: 020 7609 1800


Irish Channel To Launch On Cable And Satellite In U.S.

DUBLIN, March 22: Ireland’s Anner Media Group (AMG) plans to launch The Irish Channel America in the U.S. on cable and satellite.

"There are 35 million Irish Americans," said AMG founder/CEO Andy Ruane. "To me, that's 35 million people without their own TV Channel and I'm going to make sure they get it."

The channel will offer a mix of lifestyle, travel, arts, documentaries, film, music, shopping and sports programming. It also plans to feature live two-way link-ups between Ireland and the U.S. designed to help Irish Americans connect with their ancestral country.

In Ireland, AMG own a TV news channel and broadcasts live proceedings of Ireland’s houses of Parliament from its Television Centre in Dublin.

The announcement did not include details about a launch date or affiliation agreements.

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