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April 30, 2005

Dail Backs SDLP Makes It An All-Ireland Fight

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 04/30/05
Dail Backing For SDLP 'Sign Of All-Ireland Fight'
BT 04/30/05 Mallon Sure SDLP Will Retain Seat
BB 04/30/05 Trimble Blasts Alliance 'Stunts'
BT 04/30/05 'Terror Chief' Shoukri Will Face Belfast Ban
BT 04/30/05 Church Of Ireland Welcomes Message From Pope Benedict
WP 04/30/05 Rebels Remembered At Kilkelly Banner Unveiling
BT 04/30/05 Last Chance To Fight For Our Lollipops
NW 04/29/05 Punchestown Festival Special -VO
QA 04/25/05
Question & Answer -VO

Punchestown Festival Special - A report on the people and attractions to be found at the
Punchestown Racing Festival and a look at the process of breeding a successful racehorse

Question & Answer - The Panel:
Mark Durkan, MLA, SDLP candidate, Foyle
Derek Hussey, MLA, Ulster Unionist Party candidate, West Tyrone
Gregory Campbell, MLA, DUP candidate, East Londonderry
Mitchel McLaughlin, MLA, Sinn Féin candidate, Foyle


Dail Backing For SDLP 'Sign Of All-Ireland Fight'

By Chris Thornton, Political Correspondent
30 April 2005

Irish Ministers campaigning for the SDLP are showing that the General Election is "an all-
Ireland election", Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said yesterday.

Launching his party's manifesto, Mr Adams said he was not concerned about the SDLP
endorsements from Dublin politicians like Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and Justice
Minister Michael McDowell.

"What are they doing?" said Mr Adams during the launch at the Hilton hotel in Belfast.
"They're fighting the next 26 county election and the next Dail election."

Mr Adams highlighted one of the points in the manifesto - the pursuit of Dail speaking rights
for Northern Irleand MPs - by saying he would like to see Ian Paisley debating in the Irish

"Why hasn't the Taoiseach brought that in? Wouldn't it be good to see Ian Paisley in
Leinster House arguing issues which effect the Common Agricultural Policy, arguing issues
which affect small farmers in his constituency?" Mr Adams said.

Mr Adams said some republicans are "apprehensive" about his call for a "purely political"

But he said he hasn't received any criticism about his appeal while he's been out

"I know that some republicans will be apprehensive, maybe anxious," he said.

He said those republicans "realise this is a process".

"It's bigger than the IRA. It's the future," he said.

He said the manifesto is not "about dominating as far as we are concerned.

"This is about going out and engaging with people on the doorsteps and asking for their
support," he said.

"What's our party about? It's about harmony and neighbourliness on the basis of equality.
We have a particular vision. We want to see a national republic on the island of Ireland.

"If others have a better idea, if Ian Paisley or David Trimble think the Union is better, then let
them argue. We'll debate them with nothing more than those arguments and whatever
mandate we get in this election."


Mallon Sure SDLP Will Retain Seat

30 April 2005

After 19 years representing Newry and Armagh at Westminster, Seamus Mallon took a bow
of sorts in Belfast this week.

He came with a warning and a bright forecast. The warning was that if the middle ground is
lost to Sinn Fein and the DUP, then genuine engagement between nationalism and unionism
could be lost for some time.

But the outgoing MP exempted his anointed successor, Dominic Bradley MLA, from that
gloomy forecast. He said he expects Mr Bradley to retain the seat for the SDLP.

Whether he is right on the first point remains to be seen. The truth of the second prediction
will be decided a lot sooner.

Since Mr Mallon announced his retirement, Newry and Armagh has looked like Sinn Fein's
likeliest gain.

In 2001, Conor Murphy ran closer to Mr Mallon than had been predicted, cutting his majority
to 3,500.

By the 2003 Assembly election, Sinn Fein had established dominance in the overwhelmingly
nationalist constituency, taking one of the SDLP's seats and winning nearly 40% of the vote.

That election seemed to support the trend towards greater Sinn Fein support in the

Mr Mallon and Mr Bradley both insisted this week that voters are returning to the SDLP, but
the bookies remain unconvinced.

Mr Murphy opened as the runaway favourite to win, with Eastwoods quoting odds for his
victory at 25-1 on.

The unionist battle between the DUP's Paul Berry and Danny Kennedy really isn't about
Westminster at all, it's about the next round of Assembly elections which, if DUP deputy
leader Peter Robinson gets his way, would follow any settlement.

Both parties still have a seat each in the Assembly, but Paul Berry will be attempting to
build on a trend that has seen a greater share of unionist votes go to his party.


Trimble Blasts Alliance 'Stunts'

David Trimble has accused the Alliance Party of engaging in election "stunts" after it
referred a phony election leaflet in circulation to the police.

Alliance said the leaflet from a group calling itself Concerned Citizens for a Shared Future
may breach election law.

The leaflet, printed in Alliance colours, urged its supporters to vote for the UUP in seats the
DUP may win.

Mr Trimble said he was "astonished at the behaviour of the Alliance Party complaining
about leaflets".

'No idea'

He told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics that he had "no idea" who had produced them.

"I've seen the content of them, and someone no doubt thinks they're being helpful to us,"
he added.

"I've got my doubts as to whether that's in fact helpful to us.

"But people are entitled to do this, and to complain to the police about it looks a bit like a

Alliance leader David Ford said the leaflet was party of a "dirty tricks campaign" which was
"clearly designed to confuse" his party's supporters.

"The publishers hide behind a PO Box number and urge Alliance supporters to vote for the
Ulster Unionists, wrongly claiming that the UUP supports Alliance ideals such as a shared
future," he said.

"There is also a graph that gives the wrong figures for party support at the assembly

He said the leaflet had been distributed in at least six constituencies, adding that the party
had made a formal complaint to the Electoral Commission and had asked the police to

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/04/30 08:14:29 GMT


Opin: Still Clinging To Middle Of Road, No Matter How Narrow The Path

By Barry White

30 April 2005

IN Great Britain, the election is about "education, education, education", they say. Here it's
all about negotiation, that's all, and who will do the best job as a negotiator.

That's the reason why David Trimble and the UUP are in such difficulties. They dared, they
gambled and they were let down, time and again.

They're right, that we're far better off today for their gamble on devolution than we would
have been if we'd sat tight, like the DUP. The Government threw in resources to get us
going and businesses were attracted on the assumption that Northern Ireland was
permanently on the mend.

Just look at the development along the Lagan. That was part of the peace dividend we
earned by signing up to the Belfast Agreement and deciding to work together, unionists and

It's all gone pear-shaped, now but the physical improvements will remain. That's the legacy
of David (Lord?) Trimble and his hope-for-the-best supporters, and we should thank them
for it.

But now we're in a different scenario, with the politics in ruins - because Sinn Fein failed to
deliver - and the voters looking for new and better negotiators. They saw how hard the DUP
pushed Sinn Fein in December, only for the IRA to opt out, and they want more of the same
tough talk.

For talk there will be, even if it looks unlikely at the moment. The British and Irish
Governments are stuck with the Agreement and won't ever let it go, because it gives the
impression that something may be happening, even if it isn't.

They'll keep on trying to convene negotiations, after every election, and that's why the
parties with the tough-guy image are always going to do well. You want representation? Do
you want the undefeated champions or the has-beens?

If you were a radical republican, wanting to show how unviable Northern Ireland is as a
political entity, things are going perfectly. Even if the DUP and Sinn Fein had agreed before
Christmas, and the IRA hadn't staged the Northern Bank heist or covered up the McCartney
murder or been accused of attempting to set up a state within a state in the Republic, the
prospect was for "a battle a day" in the coalition executive.

Now we're even wiser about the underhand nature of the Republican Movement and its
present unfitness for government. It may yet change, under pressure from all sides -
including Gerry Adams itself - but it would be safer to believe it won't change enough, while
it's winning electoral support.

So that's where the need for superb negotiators comes in. The republicans already have
them - though Martin McGuinness didn't impress with his cold refusal to respond to
Paxman's questions about IRA membership on Newsnight - but the unionist choice is
between the UUP and DUP. Thanks to Gerry, Bertie and Tony - letting Sinn Fein triumph
over the SDLP - it's not much of a contest.

Yes, it seems to me we're headed for another bad election, from the point of view of the
"decent" people who want results, not more windbaggery. In a nasty scrap, the "difficult"
people come out on top.

We're down to the nitty gritty, and however much governments might want to construct a
devolved administration, taking devolved decisions, there isn't enough agreement to make
it work. Stalemate is our natural state, now that we've chosen parties with diametrically
different aims, so we'll have to ignore it, which most of us will.

Never mind, there'll always be a middle of the road, however narrow. Some of us will cling
to it, dodging the traffic for as long as we can.


'Terror Chief' Shoukri Will Face Belfast Ban

30 April 2005

ALLEGED terrorist chief Ihab Shoukri will be released from jail when he finds a suitable
address, a judge said.

Belfast Crown Court Judge Derick Rodgers barred Shoukri from Belfast, Bangor or
Newtownabbey and being with his brother Andre.

Earlier, prosecuting lawyer Geoffrey Millar told him that while the Crown opposed bail, "we
have to take a reflective view" that he had been in custody for a year with little prospect of
getting to trial before September.

Shoukri (31), from Alliance Road in north Belfast, denies being a member of the outlawed
UDA and UFF.

Detective Sergeant Irvine said police believe Shoukri "is a high ranking member of the
UDA", and if allowed back into Belfast "it could lead to the intimidation of witnesses".

He said police would list people Shoukri would be barred from contact


Church Of Ireland Welcomes Message From Pope Benedict

By Alf McCreary
30 April 2005

POPE Benedict XVI has given a "very significant commitment" to ecumenical relations in
his recent statements since his election, according to the Church of Ireland Gazette.

The weekly newspaper in its current edition notes that the new pope was closely associated
with a Vatican document of 2000 titled "Dominus Iejus" which suggested that the Church of
Ireland and others were "not churches in the proper sense".

The Gazette also states that recent comments by the pope "give rise to some hope that
things may not turn out to be as difficult for ecumenical relations as one might have

The paper draws attention to the pope's comments a few days ago that his primary task
would be aimed at "the unity of all Christ's followers".

The Gazette concludes: "Precisely what this actually implies only time will tell, but it is
nonetheless a very significant commitment."


Rebels Remembered At Kilkelly Banner Unveiling

By Marian Harrison

It was an emotional day for the people of Kilkelly as the struggle of 1918 was remembered at
the unveiling of the Thomas Ashe Banner last week.

The National Anthem rang out around Kilkelly on Friday last as the refurbished Thomas
Ashe Banner was officially unveiled in the local library. Young and old, all with connections
to the struggle of 1918, gathered to see the banner take its place in the community.

George Harrison died just months before the banner was completed but his role in having it
restored was not forgotten on Friday last.

Frank Durcan, a close acquaintance of Harrison’s travelled from the U.S. for the unveiling.

“I’m here by the virtue of long associations with a man named George Harrison from
Shammer, who supported the cause of Irish freedom. Once he heard that the banner was in
danger of decay he got down to work. George’s dedicating covered wide including the
church on the hill, which he helped to build. I’m privileged to be here today on this

Mr Durcan went on to compliment the committee on their tremendous work and the chief
instigator Jimmy Duffy, who had the original inspiration to restore the banner, before
County Manager, Des Mahon, unveiled the splendid work.

“Everyone here has an association with the struggle of 1918. One thing that we can’t get
away from is the total commitment and total dedication people had for the cause. I’d like to
pay tribute to those people who gave us an Ireland I think we can be proud of,” said Mr

The refurbished banner, stored in a temperature/humidity controlled display cabinet, is
almost unrecognisable from the flag, which was sent to the conservationist.

“I’d like to commend the people who refurbished the banner; I think they did a great job,”
enthused Mr Mahon and his sentiments were expressed by Jimmy Duffy, who remembers
the banner at various marches he attended as a boy.

The banner, which was originally commissioned by the people of Kilkelly to honour the
memory of Thomas Ashe who died on hunger strike in Mountjoy Jail in 1917, was in
safekeeping in a number of local households before it was given a home in Knock Heritage
Museum. Despite the good care it received there Mr Duffy became concerned at its
condition and established a committee to deal with the raggy banner.

The fundraising kicked in with George Harrison playing no small part in collecting the
€8,000 needed for the banner’s restoration.

Committee members agreed that their hard work was worthwhile as locals, who hadn’t seen
the banner since the late 40’s, were amazed by the transformation.

Following the unveiling a reception was held in Kilkelly Community Centre, where the
elderly remised about 1918 and the youngsters listened with enthusiasm.


Last Chance To Fight For Our Lollipops

By Claire Regan, Education Correspondent
30 April 2005

THE Belfast Telegraph today renews its appeal to readers to get behind our campaign to try
to save the threatened lollipop service.

There's still time left for readers to make their concerns heard after the Belfast Education
and Library Board (BELB) deferred a decision on the future of city lollipop services.

Members will meet on Friday to again face the difficult decision on whether to downsize the
service to cope with budget shortfalls enforced by the Department of Education.

They had been due to vote on the matter on Thursday before the meeting was abandoned
after the board's elected representatives walked out in protest when it looked like members
would endorse the proposals.

The Belfast Telegraph handed over 2,630 signatures at that meeting but the total now sits at
over 3,000. We will present the board with the remaining signatures on Friday.

The office of the Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner has become the latest to voice
concerns over the plans, which would see cuts at 54 lunch-time patrols, 14 at post-primary
schools and 38 on roads where there is also a pelican crossing or traffic lights.

The plans were drawn up by the board's general purposes and finance committee in a bid to
save almost £300,000 as part of a package of cuts of almost £7m reluctantly passed by
BELB. The total stripped from services across the five education boards hit £30m.

Politicians, road safety experts, leading trade unions, school leaders, lollipop people and
parents' groups have joined our campaign.

Please cut out the coupon printed in the Belfast Telegraph newspaper today, get it signed
by as many people as you can and send it in to us. You can use a separate sheet for names.
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