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April 14, 2005

Finucane Widow Wants Boycott

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Apr 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 04/14/05 Finucane Widow Wants Judges To Boycott Inquiry
IT 04/14/05 McGuinness Meets Reiss In US Talks
IO 04/14/05 DUP Making It Harder For SF To Secure Stand-Down'
SF 04/13/05 Sinn Féin Briefs Diplomatic Corps On Peace Process
SM 04/13/05 UDA Ruled Out of £1.2M Robbery Blame
BB 04/14/05 Pastor's Home Is Attacked By Gang
SM 04/14/05 Unionism Set For Major Shift - Burnside
BT 04/14/05 SF Couple Seek Coleraine Seats
SM 04/14/05 Northern Ireland Gears Up for Election
BB 04/13/05 Family 'Abused' Over Leaflet Drop
IE 04/13/05 Analysis: Call To IRA Has Whiff Of Politics
BT 04/13/05 SDLP Man Condemns Letters 'Dirty Tricks' Ruse
TE 04/14/05 Taming Of The Shrewd Inquirer
IE 04/13/05 Timeline: The Long And Winding Road To Peace
BT 04/14/05 Candidates Elected - Three Weeks Early!
IT 04/14/05 O'Connell Street Statues To Be Cleaned

(Poster’s Note: A quick update on Bertha. After my wife was hit
by a car and undergoing neuro-surgery, she is now in a private
room (#457 in The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas). Things
are generally looking good. She start intensive rehab today.

However, she is still suffering from pain which is being managed
by drugs. Great friends are helping out with her constant
visiting and staying with her 24/7. Thanks for all the prayers
& thoughts. Jay)


Finucane Widow Wants Judges To Boycott Inquiry
2005-04-14 11:30:06+01

The widow of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has written to all senior judges in
Britain urging them not to sit on an inquiry into her husband's killing, she revealed today.

Geraldine Finucane wrote personally to every senior judge in England, Scotland and
Wales expressing her concerns about the new Inquiries Act.

Despite having been pressing for a public inquiry for years, Mrs Finucane believes the
terms of the act could prevent the truth of her husband's murder in 1989, and
allegations of security force collusion with the loyalist paramilitaries responsible, coming

Public inquiries into the murders of Mr Finucane and three other people were
recommended by retired Canadian High Court Judge Peter Cory in 2002 after he
carried out investigations for the British and Irish governments into allegations of

He said there was strong evidence of collusion which merited public inquiries.

Since the British government enacted the Inquiries Act both Judge Cory and Lord
Saville of Newdigate - who conducted the long-running Bloody Sunday Inquiry and is
yet to report - have indicated they would not be prepared to sit on any inquiry set up
under the act.

In her letters Mrs Finucane said: "In view of these considerations I write to request that,
if approached to serve on an Inquiries Act inquiry into my husband's murder, you, like
Lord Saville and Judge Cory refuse to accept such an appointment."

She said that despite undertakings given by the British government in Parliament to
implement the Cory recommendation in full, it had now enacted the Inquiries Act 2005.

"The provisions of that Act clearly fall far short of the Cory recommendations," she said.

Mrs Finucane quoted Judge Cory saying: "It seems to me that the proposed new Act
would make a meaningful inquiry impossible. The Commissioners would be working in
an impossible situation."

Judge Cory added: "For example, 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.

"It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation."

Lord Saville was quoted as saying: "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 any case where the
conduct of the authorities may be in question."

He added: "As a Judge, I must tell you that I would not be prepared to be appointed as
a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of this kind."

Mrs Finucane also took a full-page advertisement in The Times to publicise her position.


McGuinness Meets Reiss In US Talks

Conor O'Clery in New York

Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness, taking two days off from his re-election campaign to
visit the US, had a 45-minute meeting with the Bush administration's envoy to Northern
Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, in Washington yesterday. Mr Reiss described it as a "good
meeting" and a "business-like session", held at Mr McGuinness's request.

They discussed "Gerry Adams's statement to the IRA, the timing and the content of a
response by the IRA, the upcoming elections, and how the peace process can be put on
course," Mr Reiss said in a telephone interview.

Asked if he was optimistic about the IRA response to the Sinn Féin leader's speech
calling for it to adopt only democratic and political methods, Mr Reiss said, "I wanted to
hear from Martin how he saw things developing in the weeks and months ahead and I
have no reason to be less or more optimistic."

Today in New York Mr McGuinness will be a guest of the National Committee on
American Foreign Policy at a lunch hosted by William Flynn, George Schwab and
Thomas Moran to mark the "historic initiative taken by Sinn Féin".

The fact that Mr McGuinness took time off from his campaign for re-election as Mid-
Ulster MP was seen in the US as underlining the importance to Sinn Féin of having
continued working relations with Irish-American legislators and the US government
during the election campaign pending a response from the IRA.

© The Irish Times


DUP 'Making It Harder For SF To Secure IRA Stand-Down'
2005-04-14 13:30:03+01

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has accused the Democratic Unionist Party of making
it harder to persuade the IRA to stand down.

Speaking in Belfast this morning, Mr Adams said hardline comments from DUP
members were hampering his efforts to get the organisation to commit to exclusively
peaceful means.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson has said it might take a generation before his party
agrees to share power with Sinn Féin.

Mr Adams said he accepted that such comments were election-related, but said they
made his task considerably more difficult.


Sinn Féin Briefs Diplomatic Corps On Peace Process

Published: 13 April, 2005

A Sinn Féin delegation, including Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, John O'Dowd MLA and Joan
O'Connor from Sinn Féin's International Department, today met 18 members of the
Diplomatic Corps in Ireland to brief them on the current state of the peace process, the
latest initiative by Gerry Adams and to outline what Sinn Féin believes should be the
next steps in the peace process.

Speaking after the meeting in Leinster House this afternoon Sinn Féin‚s International
Affairs spokesperson, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said, „Today's meeting was very
constructive and positive. We briefed representatives from 18 countries on the current
state of the peace process, the latest initiative by Gerry Adams and on what Sinn Féin
believes should be the next steps in the peace process.

"We addressed the role of the International Community and asked the Diplomatic Corps
to use their Government‚s influence to put pressure on the British and Irish
Governments to respond positively to the latest initiative by Gerry Adams.

"We also stressed the need for all parties to return to the negotiating table after next
month‚s elections in order to get the institutions back up and running and to enhance
the peace process.

„"Finally we outlined our continued commitment to the Good Friday Agreementand to
building a united Ireland based on the principal of equality" ENDS


UDA Ruled Out of £1.2M Robbery Blame

By Alan Erwin, PA

The Ulster Defence Association was NOT behind a £1.2 million robbery from a security
firm in Belfast, it was claimed tonight.

Blame has been placed on the paramilitary organisation for the raid which saw a woman
held hostage for up to eight hours.

But informed sources insisted the group would not sanction such an operation as it
attempts to restore its tattered image.

The raid on a cash delivery van took place in loyalist boss Jackie McDonald's south
Belfast stronghold.

One insider said: "Anybody involved in criminality or drugs who are members of the
UDA know they can't do it under the name of the organisation any more.

"There's not a chance on earth this was sanctioned since Jackie McDonald is so set
against all that."

Detectives have been scouring their underworld intelligence networks for clues to the
major crime gang they suspect carried out the theft.

Robbers seized a woman from her home in the city's Belvoir district early on Tuesday
morning and held her in a derelict house three miles away.

She was only released unhurt after her partner, who works for the Brinks security firm,
took the money to a filling station where gang members were waiting.

It was the most serious of three cash robberies in a day across Greater Belfast,
provoking calls for greater action to protect security guards transporting money.

The GMB union's Michael Mulholland warned the attacks were becoming alarmingly

He said: "It's not the first situation where families of security company employees have
been put at risk.

"This can't go on – we really do need to deliver a safer working environment and a
better structure for the delivery of cash in Northern Ireland from now on."


Pastor's Home Is Attacked By Gang

The home of the Belfast pastor and community worker Jack McKee has been attacked
by a gang.

The front windows of his house in north Belfast were smashed and his car was
destroyed by a petrol bomb in the overnight attack.

Pastor McKee said he had no doubt that the incident was linked to his Christian based
taxi firm, Liberty, which was set up recently.

He also said the attack was linked to public statements he had made.

"Some group of men sat down somewhere recently and discussed my name and what
they were going to do with me," Pastor McKee said.

"They found me guilty of something in their eyes and I kind of wonder what they found
me guilty for.

"Am I guilty for speaking the truth? Because that's what I do."

The pastor said he had brought jobs to the area with his taxi firm which was set up
earlier this year.

Pastor McKee and his family were in bed when the attack on his home happened.

He said he saw three men running away, although he believes five or six may have
been involved.

DUP assembly member Diane Dodds condemned the attack on Pastor McKee and his
family, who she said had been involved in the community life of the area for many

"This is a disgraceful incident and is repugnant to all the ordinary people of the
Shankill," she said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/04/14 10:20:06 GMT


Unionism Set For Major Shift - Burnside

By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor

There will be a major realignment in unionism in Northern Ireland in the post-David
Trimble and Ian Paisley era, it was claimed today.

Ulster Unionist South Antrim candidate David Burnside made the claim after it emerged
former party leader, Lord Molyneaux of Killead will appear in his election literature
endorsing him.

Earlier this week Lord Molyneaux courted controversy after he agreed to a photograph
of him appearing in election material for the rival Democratic Unionists in South Belfast
and Lagan Valley.

Mr Burnside said today: "Jim Molyneaux will be backing me as he has since the time I
contested this constituency in the by-election in 2000, the 2001 General Election and
the last Assembly Election in 2003.

"Jim is a constituent of mine and even though he hasn't got a vote because he is a
member of the House of Lords, he will be giving me his 100% support as he always

"During my time at Westminster his advice has been invaluable and has been greatly

Mr Burnside's campaign team will have been boosted by Lord Molyneaux's
endorsement following the row which has broken out in South Belfast and Lagan Valley
over his decision to appear in election material for DUP candidates Jimmy Spratt and
Jeffrey Donaldson.

Mr Burnside is once again facing the DUP's the Rev William McCrea who won the
South Antrim seat in a by-election in 2000 by 822 votes.

However in the last General Election, Mr Burnside regained the seat with the majority of
1,011 for the Ulster Unionists.

This year's contest was expected again to be tight, with the DUP emerging just 298
votes ahead of the Ulster Unionists' total vote in the 2003 Assembly Election.

Mr Burnside said today there was a united campaign behind him in the constituency and
he stood proudly on his record of insisting that there was no place for Sinn Fein in
government in recent years.

The South Antrim UUP candidate added that it was vital that unionists did not let Sinn
Fein off the hook over the future of the IRA and weapons decommissioning.

And he added that the best way forward for unionism was for a united unionist front to

"Unionists should be working together to defeat the criminal empire of Sinn Fein/IRA
and indeed the loyalist organisations.

"After the General Election we should be working together. There is no point in having
two small groupings in the Westminster and we need a united front.

"I firmly believe that there will be united unionism post-Paisley and post-Trimble. There
will be a realignment and I would prefer a merger."


SF Couple Seek Coleraine Seats

By Geraldine Mulholland
14 April 2005

Ulster politics may be getting another husband-and-wife pairing in the shape of Sinn
Fein Coleraine council candidates, Billy and Valerie Leonard.

A former RUC officer and lay preacher, Mr Leonard (50), caused controversy last year
when he defected from the SDLP to join the republican party who previously had no
representatives in the area.

Now it is fielding a candidate in each of Coleraine's four electoral wards and Mr
Leonard's wife, Valerie, is one of the pack.

The 49-year-old mother of six sons is quietly confident that she can claim the Skerries
seat where her husband topped the poll in 2001.

He will now contest a seat in the Bann ward where former colleague John Dallat of the
SDLP had the highest first preference vote at the last local elections.

Although Valerie - a teacher and Irish culture enthusiast - has not stood for council
before, she says she has been active behind the scenes for several years.

Indeed, her earliest memories are of her father, prominent in Lurgan GAA circles, going
round the nationalist Kilwilkie estate in the town to encourage people to use their vote.

Valerie said: "Billy and I come from two distinctly different backgrounds. I was raised
with a republican outlook and he came to be interested in it and learn about it.

"I am delighted to be asked to stand, people who know me know I will do my best job for
them," she said.

If both Billy and Valerie win the necessary votes, they will join other husband-and-wife
political teams such as the DUP's Peter and Iris Robinson and Nigel and Diane Dodds,
as well as Ulster Unionists Ernie and Mary Hamilton.


Northern Ireland Gears Up for Election

By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor

The General Election campaign in Northern Ireland will change up a gear today as
parties begin to nominate candidates for the province's 18 Westminster constituencies.

Candidates have until next Tuesday to hand in nomination papers, but already the signs
are that the battles within unionism and nationalism will be hard fought in several

The Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists currently have six seats, one of which was
gained through the defection of Jeffrey Donaldson from the Ulster Unionists.

The UUP has five, Sinn Fein four and the nationalist SDLP three.

The DUP is looking for gains in the Ulster Unionist strongholds of East Antrim, Upper
Bann, South Antrim, South Belfast and North Down.

Sinn Fein believes it will capture SDLP seats in Newry and Armagh, and possibly Foyle,
and can run the party close in South Down.

Mark Durkan's SDLP is hoping to pick up a seat in South Belfast if there is an even split
in the unionist vote.

Challengers in two key battlegrounds, Foyle and Upper Bann, will hand in their
nomination papers today.

Sinn Fein general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin will lodge his papers in Londonderry as
the party bids to take former SDLP leader John Hume's seat in Foyle following his

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has been chosen to defend his mentor's seat.

At this stage in the campaign, both sides insist the race is too close to call.

Democratic Unionist Assembly member David Simpson will join Lagan Valley MP
Jeffrey Donaldson and Assembly colleagues, Paul Berry and Jim Wells in Banbridge,
Co Down, to hand in their papers.

Mr Simpson's election team is confident he can end Ulster Unionist leader David
Trimble's career by capturing the Upper Bann seat.

This will be Jeffrey Donaldson's first election for the DUP since defecting from the UUP
last year.

The Lagan Valley MP quit the Ulster Unionists after the party lost its place as the main
unionist party in the 2003 Assembly Elections.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and his party's other Belfast candidates, Gerry Kelly,
Alex Maskey and Deborah Devenny were also expected to nominate today.

The SDLP will formally launch its local government election campaign in Belfast.

Senior DUP leaders will also criticise Government plans to introduce water charges in
Northern Ireland during the launch of a special campaign document.


Family 'Abused' Over Leaflet Drop

The family of Robert McCartney have said they were forced to abandon handing out
leaflets calling for support for a vigil in his memory.

Paula McCartney said they were handing out leaflets in the Short Strand area of Belfast
on Wednesday when they were confronted by about a dozen people.

She said abuse was shouted at them and they were told to get out of the area.

Paula said it was a very threatening situation and that the family would be making a
complaint to the police.

"They were screaming and shouting abuse and telling us to get out of the district," she

Paula, Gemma, Donna and Clare McCartney along with Mr McCartney's partner,
Bridgeen Hagan, were distributing leaflets seeking support for a vigil outside Magennis's
Bar in Belfast.

Mr McCartney had been involved in a row in the bar on 30 January and was later found
stabbed to death near the bar.

Paula said the crowd which gathered as they distributed the leaflets "tried to provoke us
into physical confrontation but we did not rise to it."

"This was blatant discrimination, very loud and threatening and they were trying to
blacken Robert's name," she said.

Earlier, it emerged that a Sinn Fein member who was suspended pending a party probe
into events surrounding Mr McCartney's murder will not now stand for election.

Deirdre Hargey had been selected to run in Belfast's Laganbank as one of two Sinn
Fein city council candidates.

Ms Hargey, who was in Magennis's Bar on the night of the murder, has told a solicitor
she saw nothing.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said Ms Hargey had been suspended without prejudice and
that was why she was not standing.

The party has now only nominated one candidate for the area.

So far, police investigating the murder of the 33-year-old father of two have arrested
and questioned 12 men, all of whom were released without charge.

The IRA has expelled three members over the stabbing and Sinn Fein subsequently
suspended seven of its members.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/13 21:06:25 GMT



Analysis: Call To IRA Has Whiff Of Politics

ASSOCIATED PRESS Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams called on the IRA to embrace
politics last week.

Adams's move might solidify S.F. base

By Paul Colgan

DUBLIN -- When the IRA called its first ceasefire, in 1994, then Ulster Unionist leader
James Molyneaux described it as the most destabilizing event in the history of Northern
Ireland. Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams's call last week for a farewell to IRA arms has
the potential to radically redraw the political map in the North.

His speech in Belfast's Conway Mill (where IRA members once defended their
community from loyalist invaders) was billed by Sinn Fein's press office as
unprecedented and historically significant.

Adams, flanked by senior republicans, invited the paramilitary organization to embrace
politics as an alternative arena of struggle. While Adams's words may not have been
couched in the dramatic terms some might have preferred that he use, they are
nonetheless momentous.

A general order for the IRA to stand down could reinvigorate the flagging political
process and most likely force the Rev. Ian Paisley's DUP into a deal with Sinn Fein.

In the short term, Adams's speech will have also set SDLP nerves on edge. SDLP
leader Mark Durkan's future still hangs in the balance. He faces Sinn Fein chairman
Mitchel McLaughlin in the Foyle constituency, knowing that defeat could mean the end
of his tenure as SDLP leader.

McLaughlin will be making a concerted bid to claim the Derry seat for Sinn Fein. With
former SDLP leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume stepping aside, the
party will no longer be able to call on the huge personal vote he had nurtured for more
than 30 years.

Durkan will be fighting the seat on nothing other than his own reputation and knows that
any move by the IRA has the potential to make life difficult for him.

The SDLP enjoys a majority of 1,500 votes in Foyle going on 2003's Assembly
elections. While the likes of David Trimble would be delighted to be going into an
election in such a position (the UUP leader has a margin of fewer than 400 in his own
Upper Bann constituency) it is still too close for Durkan to relax.

Were the IRA to follow through on Adams's comments with acts of decommissioning
accompanied by a statement signaling a final decision to stand down, then all bets
would be off for Durkan and his party.

Nationalist voters (particularly those who had been frightened off by the Northern Bank
heist and Robert McCartney sagas) could conceivably reward the Sinn Fein leadership
with a substantial electoral boon.

However, Adams's comments Monday may have given Durkan something to work with.
The Sinn Fein leader quashed rumors that the IRA is preparing to wind down within
days. Adams maintains that the organization is currently debating the way forward and
that this process needs to be given time.

The longer time frame anticipated by Adams could work to Durkan's advantage.

Critics of the republican movement argue that by setting up the issue of IRA
disbandment at the start of an election campaign, Adams is merely attempting to deflect
attention away from the McCartney crisis with vague promises of a better future. They
claim that Adams will continue to tantalize the nationalist electorate with the prospect of
IRA disbandment throughout the campaign, increase the Sinn Fein vote, and then
retreat until the next election, when the IRA card will be played again.

If Durkan can sell this analysis to the floating nationalist constituency the SDLP may be
able to chart some sort of path out of its immediate difficulties.

However, Adams's personal standing in the eyes of nationalist voters is not clear. There
is no indication whether republicans have grown disgruntled with his leadership over the
last four months.

There may be every possibility that they, looking to enhance the hand of the republican
movement's peaceniks, will vote in larger numbers for the party than ever before.

The recent Belfast Telegraph opinion poll that put Sinn Fein on a level pegging with the
SDLP showed that the party's support remained strong and was in fact growing. A poll
taken for the same newspaper before the Assembly elections in 2003 seriously
underestimated support for Sinn Fein and wrongly predicted that the SDLP would top
the polls in nationalist districts.

Meanwhile, the UUP leader, Trimble, is in serious trouble. The DUP is confident that it
can steal his Westminster seat, thus likely delivering the fatal blow to his political career.

Trimble has reportedly had problems in recruiting a decent canvassing team and finds it
hard to go dooe to door in staunchly loyalist Portadown where he has been accused of
selling out to Sinn Fein. Unionist sources also say he encounters hostility in Banbridge,
one of the main urban centers in the constituency.

The DUP's David Simpson has worked hard at narrowing the gap in recent years and
has increased his profile in the area through his work on the local council.

Trimble is not the only UUP candidate with a fight on his hands.

The decision of UK Unionist leader Bob McCartney to withdraw from the race in North
Down has given the DUP's Peter Weir a free run at Sylvia Hermon.

In East Antrim. the UUP's Roy Beggs has all but been written off as a potential winner.

In South Belfast, Trimble's close colleague Michael McGimpsey is in a dogfight with the
DUPs' Jimmy Spratt. Spratt, who is a former head of the staunchly unionist Police
Federation, has won the endorsement of two senior Ulster Unionist members: former
South Belfast MP Martin Smyth and former UUP leader James Molyneaux.

In South Antrim, David Burnside will be looking over his shoulder at the DUP's Willie

Yet again the so-called "middle ground" is being squeezed by the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Just how much of it is left come May 6 remains to be seen.


SDLP Man Condemns Letters 'Dirty Tricks' Ruse

By William Allen
13 April 2005

Evidence was today emerging of a co-ordinated bid to use Letters to the Editor columns
of North West newspapers to wreck chances of the SDLP picking up tactical votes from

A number of letters have been published which are purported to have been written by
disgruntled unionists worried that members of their community may vote for the SDLP
because of fears of a Sinn Fein victory in Foyle.

The letters contain veiled personal attacks on individual SDLP members and urge
unionists not to be tempted to vote tactically for a nationalist candidate.

Two such e-mails were also received by the NW Telegraph. They came from a single
source, despite containing names and addresses of people living in different parts of the

Efforts to contact the people named as the senders then showed that in the first case,
though the surname of a well-known family had been used, no one with the first name
provided existed at the address given.

In the second case, the woman named on the e-mail said she had not written it and was
shocked to find that her name and address had been used.

An SDLP spokesman, Gerard Diver, said it was "deeply disturbing" that someone had
been using people's private details without their knowledge to wage a smear campaign.

He added that the party had suspicions about who was behind the e-mails, describing
them as "another example of dirty tricks".

Meanwhile, a split appeared among unionists in Foyle when two UUP candidates in the
local government elections voiced support for DUP Westminster candidates in other
parts of Northern Ireland.

Mary and Ernie Hamilton said they backed Lagan Valley candidate Jeffrey Donaldson,
and also welcomed a decision by Lord Molyneaux and Rev Martin Smyth to allow


Taming Of The Shrewd Inquirer

By Joshua Rozenburg
(Filed: 14/04/2005)

Remember the fine old tradition of the British public inquiry? The fearless chairman,
often a judge, who could never be sacked? The terms of reference, laid down in
advance, that could never be altered? The publication of evidence, both oral and
written, that the Government could never prevent?

All gone - thanks to the Inquiries Act 2005, passed a week ago while your back was
turned. Forget about independent inquiries: ministers are now in control.

Dame Janet Smith's Shipman Inquiry and Lord Hutton's report on the death of David
Kelly are history

The new legislation replaces the jumble of formal and informal inquiries into events such
as Bloody Sunday, the death of Dr David Kelly, the Harold Shipman serial killings, the
outbreak of foot and mouth disease and the collapse of Equitable Life. So, what
difference will it make in practice?

Let's start with ministers' new powers to sack the chairman and - after consulting him -
any other members of an inquiry panel who are guilty of misconduct, partiality or failure
to comply with their duties under the Act. Note that those duties include the "need to
avoid unnecessary cost". So if a chairman ends up spending £154 million, as Lord
Saville did on Bloody Sunday, beware.

But that's not all. If the Government does not like the way an inquiry is going, it can
effectively sack the entire panel at a moment's notice. True, the minister must consult
the chairman, give reasons and tell Parliament. But let's imagine that the Hutton inquiry
had been on the point of blaming the Government for Dr Kelly's death. In future, a
minister can simply wind up the inquiry before it reports.

Next: terms of reference. These are crucial, since inquiry members are not allowed to
take evidence or reach conclusions on issues outside the boundaries set by ministers.
But what if the Saville inquiry had decided to investigate the Bloody Sunday shootings in
more detail than the Government had wanted? In future, the minister can simply tell the
inquiry chairman that he is acting beyond his remit, and then refuse to pay him and his
staff for anything the minister thinks they should not be doing. And a minister can now
change an inquiry's terms of reference - after it has started work.

Given the costs run up by Lord Saville, you might believe that this is a reasonable way
of keeping an inquiry under control. But it could be misused by a government trying to
avoid disclosure of uncomfortable facts.

The new Act allows inquiries to be held into events of "public concern". If those
concerns are to be allayed, it is essential that as much as possible of the inquiry should
be held in public. Whatever criticisms may be made of Lord Hutton's report into the
death of Dr Kelly, there is no doubt that his inquiry set new standards of openness in
publishing government papers and transcripts of evidence on the internet - much to the
embarrassment of some ministers.

That is why the Government's new power to restrict public access to hearings and
evidence is so alarming. If a minister considers it to be in the public interest, he may
simply restrict public attendance at the inquiry and disclosure of documents.

The Act makes it clear that public access may be restricted in order to reduce damage
to national security, international relations, Britain's economic interests or commercially
sensitive information. A minister can now even restrict public access to information if it
would "result in additional cost". And these restrictions may continue in force indefinitely
if the Government wishes.

The new Act, which was published yesterday by HM Stationery Office, is not yet in
force. For the time being, we shall continue with the untidy but generally effective
arrangements under which some inquiries are conducted under various statutory
powers and others are conducted entirely informally, with no powers to order witnesses
to appear.

Once the legislation is in force, however, the chairman of any inquiry established under
the Act will have powers to order anyone to give evidence, produce documents or allow
their property to be inspected. Unreasonably failing to give evidence, shredding your
documents or not producing items under your control will be an offence punishable with
nearly a year's imprisonment (though only six months in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

On the other hand, there may be circumstances in which you are more than willing to
give evidence - while others want to shut you up.

If the Government, the Financial Services Authority or the Bank of England tells the
inquiry panel that your information could damage the economy, you could be prevented
from disclosing it.

Though the legislation is not retrospective, ministers are allowed to convert any existing
or proposed public inquiry into an inquiry under the 2005 Act.

And that explains why this legislation has been rushed through with such indecent haste
by Lord Falconer's Department for Constitutional Affairs.

As part of the Northern Ireland peace process, the Government has promised a public
inquiry into the death of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, who was murdered in 1989
by loyalist paramilitaries. It is alleged that members of the security forces, and those
responsible for them, colluded in his killing.

Announcing last September that the inquiry would go ahead, the Northern Ireland
Secretary, Paul Murphy, said that it had to be held under the new legislation "in order
that the inquiry can take place speedily and in a way that takes into account the public
interest, including the requirements of national security".

That means that much of the inquiry will take place in private - to the fury of Mr
Finucane's family.

Clearly, lives should not be put at risk by forcing witnesses to give evidence in public.
But a decision on anonymity should be one for the inquiry chairman, subject only to
review by the courts. Ministers should not have the power to withhold evidence from the
public at a supposedly public inquiry.


The Long And Winding Road To Peace

The Anglo-Irish Agreement, November 1985 The agreement, between Taoiseach
Garret Fitzgerald and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave Dublin a
consultative role in Northern Ireland for the first time. It established a secretariat outside
Belfast. Unionists rejected the agreement and campaigned to have it scrapped.

Downing Street Declaration, December 1993

Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and British Prime Minister John Major issued a joint
statement recognizing that the ending of divisions in Ireland could only come about
through agreement and cooperation among all the Irish people, North and South. Major
also stated that Britain has "no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern

IRA ceasefire, August 1994

The IRA announced a ceasefire in its activities. Protestant paramilitaries followed suit in

Joint Framework documents, February 1995

The documents outlined plans for a settlement that included a devolved assembly and
cross-border bodies. The Irish government said it would introduce and support
proposals for rewriting Articles Two and Three of the Irish Constitution, which claimed
jurisdiction over Northern Ireland. The revisions would embody the principle of consent.

Mitchell Commission report on decommissioning, January 1996

The report urged that the surrender and/or destruction of paramilitary arsenals should
take place in parallel with all-party talks, rather than being made into a precondition for
Sinn Féin's entry into those talks.

IRA ceasefire ends, February 1996

A large bomb at Canary Wharf, London, marked the end of the IRA ceasefire. However,
in late 1997, the IRA again halted its military activities, and Sinn Féin was allowed join
the peace talks on condition that the new cease-fire held.

The Good Friday agreement, April 1998

The agreement was reached after lengthy discussion involving nearly all the parties
involved in the conflict. It contained proposals for a devolved, power-sharing
government in Belfast, cross-border bodies, a commission to review the Northern
Ireland police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, commitment to pass legislation in
the British parliament for the early release of paramilitary prisoners, and an equality

The Hillsborough Declaration, April 1999

The Hillsborough Declaration was an attempt by the Irish and British government to see
the Good Friday agreement fully implemented but problems quickly arose with regard to
paramilitary decommissioning.

Devolved government, December 1999

Power devolves to a new assembly in Stormont, but problems are evident right from the
start, so much so that the by February 2000 the experiment has been put into

Power sharing, Part II, May 2000

The parties return to Stormont but political normality remains elusive with the
decommissioning issue still a major impediment.

Weston Park, July 2001

The squabbling parties take leave for Weston Park in England but the country air does
little to improve frayed political tempers.

IRA starts to decommission, October 2001

Hopes rise again as the IRA announces that it has started a process to put its weapons
beyond use.

Stormont suspended again, October 2002

A year after decommissioning began, allegations of a republican spy ring at Stormont
leads to the suspension of power sharing again and the restoration of direct rule from
London. Charges against two men in connection with the spy ring allegation would be
dropped in early 2004.

Review of GFA, February 2004

The parties to the Good Friday accord begin a "review" of its "workings." Later in the
year, hopes for a speedy return to devolution are dashed after big Democratic Unionist
Party gains in the Euro elections. Nevertheless, behind the scenes efforts by the Irish
and British government raise hopes for a possible final settlement in November. This,
too, fails to materialize and the peace process faces new woes after the Northern Bank
robbery and murder of Robert McCartney.

Adams speech, April 2005

After being shunned by the White House on St. Patrick's Day, Sinn Féin leader Gerry
Adams raises hopes of a significant IRA gesture in a speech just weeks before the
British general election.


Candidates Elected - Three Weeks Early!

By Claire Regan
14 April 2005

The election campaign of six candidates for Cookstown District Council have been
dramatically halted - after they found themselves elected three weeks before polling

The Tyrone district's Ballinderry ward has thrown up the anomaly of having the same
number of candidates running as seats available.

As a result, the contenders will now not go to the polls on May 5 and have been
automatically elected.

Five of the ward's six current councillors have been given a free run back in, while
retiring Anne McCrea of the DUP is now certain to be replaced by party colleague
Samuel McCartney.

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Office in Ballymoney, which covers the Cookstown
area, confirmed the candidates have been selected.

One of the newly elected councillors, Patrick McAleer of Sinn Fein, was surprisingly
downbeat about the development.

"It would have been nice to get a mandate and give our supporters the chance to have
their say," he said.

"But it hasn't really changed much because I'll still be out campaigning for Sinn Fein.

"I suppose I'll be focusing on the Westminster election now and putting my energy into
campaigning for Martin McGuinness (Mid Ulster constituency Westminster candidate)."

Others who will enjoy a new term serving the Ballinderry ward are Mary Baker of the
SDLP, Ulster Unionist Thomas Greer, Sinn Fein's Michael McIvor and Patsy McGlone of
the SDLP who is also standing in the Westminster election.


O'Connell Street Statues To Be Cleaned In €300,000 Programme

Paul Cullen

The historic statues on Dublin's O'Connell Street are to be cleaned up in a four-month
conservation programme which started this week.

As part of the programme, which will cost €300,000, the bronze statues will be coated in
a thin layer of wax to provide protection against pollution.

The programme is the latest phase of the refurbishment of the capital's main
thoroughfare; further works to improve the appearance of the top of O'Connell Street
are due to start later in the year.

Cleaning and refurbishment of the O'Connell and Parnell statues at either end of the
street will account for most of the budget, according to Dublin City Council's heritage
officer Donncha Ó Dúlaing.

The four victory angels and 30 figures on the O'Connell statue will have to be cleaned
delicately using bristle brushes.

"The bronze is very black, though generally in good nick, but it has no protection against
pollution," says Mr Ó Dúlaing.

The other statues to be refurbished are those of Jim Larkin, William Smith O'Brien,
Father Matthew and Sir John Grey. Two nearby figures are also included in the
programme - James Joyce in North Earl Street and the Sheahan memorial on Burgh
Quay, which commemorates an RIC man who was overcome by fumes trying to rescue
a worker in the sewers.

Information panels on each statue will be mounted on the surrounding hoardings,
according to Mr Ó Dúlaing.

A number of the statues have incurred damage over the years, but there are no plans to
repair these defects. They include bullet holes in the O'Connell statue which date back
to the 1916 Rising and damage to an angel from a loyalist bomb in the 1960s. Father
Matthew has been missing a finger since Nelson's Pillar but he too will have to soldier
on without it.

"The defects are part of the history of our nation, and we won't be touching them," says
Mr Ó Dúlaing.

© The Irish Times

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