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May 08, 2005

Ahern To Meet Blair For NI Talks

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 05/09/05 Taoiseach To Meet Blair In Moscow For NI Talks
IO 05/08/05 Hain In New Push For Peace In Ulster
IT 05/09/05 Hain Will Bring New Impetus To NI Politics
IT 05/09/05 Deal On North Is Priority For Blair, Says Hain
SL 05/09/05 Sunday Life Comment: Party Over For Trimble
BB 05/08/05 Hermon Considers UUP Leadership
SW 05/08/05 Remembering James Connolly -LO
IT 05/09/05 Galtee Workers Asked To Work For €9 An Hour

PT 05/08/05 Coverage & Analysis Of N Ireland Election –VO

Prime Time Special: Coverage And Analysis Of The Northern
Ireland Election


Taoiseach To Meet Blair In Moscow For NI Talks

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will meet the British prime minister
Tony Blair in Moscow today, on the margins of the victory for
Europe commemorations, for informal discussions on Northern
Ireland in the wake of last Thursday's Westminster elections.
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor and Liam Reid report

Both leaders will assess the prospects of injecting fresh
momentum into the stalled political process following the
election which almost wiped out the Ulster Unionist Party in the
House of Commons, and re-established the DUP and Sinn Féin
as the dominant parties.

Speaking in Dublin yesterday Mr Ahern said Mr Blair had
assured him in a telephone conversation that he was committed
to seeing powersharing restored in Northern Ireland. The
Taoiseach was also optimistic about prospects for a political

"If we can make the progress that we have requested of the
parties to deal with the issues of decommissioning, to deal with
the issues of criminality and move to a new future and the IRA
stepping aside, then we can make a lot of progress," he said.

His comments came as the UUP search for a new leader began
following party leader David Trimble's resignation on Saturday
after he lost his Upper Bann seat to the DUP. The party initially
said such a decision would be put off until after the local
election results. These are being counted today and tomorrow
with over 1,000 candidates competing for almost 600 seats.

The SDLP share of the vote dropped by over 3 per cent but it
still has three seats at Westminster. The UUP, however, which
had five seats, now has a lone MP in the House of Commons,
Lady (Sylvia) Hermon, who told RTÉ yesterday she may run for
the leadership.

Other potential contenders include pro-Belfast Agreement
Assembly member and unsuccessful Westminster candidate
Reg Empey and the anti-agreement David Burnside, who lost
his South Antrim Westminster seat to Rev William McCrea of
the DUP.

Ulster Unionists are hoping that the party will perform better in
the local elections so they can credibly argue that the UUP is
still a significant political party. Unlike the Westminster poll the
local elections are counted on the proportional representation
system which provides a broader picture of electoral support
and could assist the UUP and SDLP.

The key to political progress rests primarily now with the IRA.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams repeated at the weekend that
his call on the IRA to fully embrace peace and democracy was
designed to get the political "process back on track", but he
gave no indication when the IRA might respond.

Speaking on TV3's The Political Party last night Sinn Féin vice-
president Pat Doherty said the IRA was debating a timeframe
for change.

"I don't know how long it will take for the IRA to respond," he
said. "I would like to think that it would come to some
conclusion in a relatively short time but I don't know the

DUP leader Ian Paisley has made it clear that until the IRA has
clearly demonstrated it has decommissioned and effectively
disbanded, he will not share power with Sinn Féin. He will have
been reinforced in his view by a new Independent Monitoring
Commission report which has been presented to both
governments, but has yet to be published, which states that the
IRA is still recruiting, targeting and carrying out surveillance.

© The Irish Times


Hain In New Push For Peace In Ulster

08/05/2005 - 17:29:31

New Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain was tonight
preparing to travel to Belfast where achieving a permanent
peace settlement has been made a priority of Labour’s third

With the British general election out of the way, he takes over
the reigns at Stormont with a brief from Prime Minister Tony
Blair to inject fresh emphasis into the search for a political
settlement and the restoration of devolved government.

He spent much of the weekend in telephone contact with the
local political party leaders and wants to get full blown talks
under way as soon as possible.

Mr Hain is convinced that with effort and goodwill on all sides it
is possible to “crack this problem”.

He said today: “I want to work very actively with all the leaders
and indeed all the different representatives in the coming weeks
and months to try and get this peace agreement back on the
road to a permanent settlement.”

Mr Hain added: “The (British) Prime Minister told me on Friday
night when he appointed me it was an absolute priority for him.

“We are determined to take it forward and you just need to
rebuild trust.” However it is unlikely to be a straightforward
affair – it never is in Northern Ireland politics. Goodwill and
trust are rare commodities much of the time.

The increased mandate for the Rev Ian Paisley and his hardline
Democratic Unionist party and its rout of the Ulster Unionists
prompting the resignation of David Trimble, has changed the
political landscape.

Mr Hain admitted there had been “increasing polarisation” in
the outcome of the election, but said it was the continuation of
a trend which had been set in previous elections.

The DUP is determined not to make the mistakes of the UUP
and take anything on trust from republicans.

They are insisting there is no place in government for
“terrorists, paramilitaries or criminals” and that IRA guns must
have been verifiably destroyed and its activities confirmed to
have been halted for good before Sinn Fein can sit down with
them and share power.

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern made contact with Mr Hain
today and they agreed to meet as soon as possible.

“Mr Ahern and Mr Hain agreed to meet as quickly as possible to
set out a clear agenda for progress out of the current
stalemate,” said a spokesman for the Foreign Minister.

“They spoke about the need to secure a way forward that is
based on exclusively peaceful and democratic means and on a
real commitment by all parties to partnership politics,” he

However reports from Dublin that the IRA is still training and
recruiting despite Gerry Adams’ pre-election call for them to
commit totally to democratic and peaceful activity – will not
make Mr Hain’s job any easier.

The claims are said to be contained in the fifth report of the
Independent Monitoring Commission, which was set up by the
British and Irish Governments to monitor paramilitary activity.

This latest report was presented to the two governments ten
days ago, but will not be published until later in the month.

The Northern Ireland Office refused to be drawn on the content
of the report today, but confirmed it had been received and
would be published in due course.

A spokeswoman said: “We are required by law to lay it before
Parliament, but it was not possible to do so because Parliament
had risen for the election campaign.

“It will be published as soon as practicable, after the Queen’s
Speech on May 17.”

However if the content is as suggested from Dublin it will make
the prospects of an agreement between the DUP and Sinn Féin
even more unlikely for the foreseeable future.

Mr Hain will also not be aided by the disarray in which the
Ulster Unionist Party finds itself after its trouncing at the polls.

The search for a new leader following the inevitable resignation
of David Trimble will make it difficult for them to focus fully on
the political process in the immediate future.


Hain Will Bring New Impetus To NI Politics

Aftermath - Analysis: Ahern and Blair will still drive the
dynamic, writs Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

David Trimble slept on it overnight on Friday and did what he
had to do on Saturday. While the DUP, Sinn Féin and the SDLP
celebrated differing degrees of success in the Westminster
election, Ulster Unionists must consider radical surgery.

They must also wonder is the illness that afflicts the party
terminal. They will be hoping that the party's performance in the
local elections, whose counts begin today, brings some relief
and hope.

Dublin and London must also do some thinking. Paul Murphy,
that courteous, likeable man whose gift was to calm troubled
political waters, gave way for a more forceful figure in Peter
Hain, to replace him as Northern Secretary.

Hain postponed his visit to his splendid new Hillsborough
Castle home until today, although he was in contact with the
parties over the weekend. His first encounter with Ian Paisley
and Peter Robinson should be interesting, however, judging by
a speech he made as a junior foreign minister in Sri Lanka in
2000, which BBC Northern Ireland's political editor Mark
Devenport unearthed at the weekend.

Hain, in a talk on conflict resolution, explained to his audience
how "after 1921 nationalists were effectively excluded from
power by a unionist majority which ruled with intolerance,
injustice and blatant discrimination against Catholics".
Nationalists won't challenge that analysis but Dr Paisley and
his deputy leader may feel disposed to accuse him of bias
before he is properly planted behind his desk.

Some eyebrows were also raised that Hain is combining the
Northern job with the post of Welsh secretary. Does that not
indicate that Tony Blair is taking a diminished interest in
Northern Ireland? Definitely not, said Hain. The new man will
bring a new impetus to politics here but the real dynamic will
continue to be driven by Blair and Bertie Ahern. This issue is
still personal for prime minister and Taoiseach.

They want to see their names stamped in the history books as
the leaders who properly finished the job. Whether they can
achieve that goal is primarily down to Gerry Adams and Ian
Paisley. In the course of this election campaign, Adams
acknowledged Blair's commitment to the peace process and
said, if possible, he wanted to see it concluded during what
remains of the prime minister's watch.

Based on experience, both governments are cautious about
attaching too much weight to the Sinn Féin president's
pronouncements but there is still a view in Dublin and London -
with all the usual caveats - that what Gerry Adams said in
urging the IRA to fully embrace peace and democracy "can't be

But, to quote a senior London source, "a halfway house ain't
going to work". In other words, if republicans deliver short, as
they did to David Trimble, then there can be no deal. Ahern and
Blair realise full well, and so must Adams, that Paisley and
Robinson don't do creative ambiguity.

Adams still refuses to say when the IRA will respond to his
urgings. If things are to move, the IRA can't delay too long.
June or July could be the period for the response. In the
meantime, the governments expect that senior Sinn Féin people
will be seeking commitments that dramatic steps by the IRA will
be reciprocated.

The governments will certainly talk to Sinn Féin but any chance
of real progress is still down to whether the IRA will match
Gerry Adams' words with actions. If it does - and the
governments are not unhopeful - we will enter a sort of
quarantine period when the DUP and the Independent
Monitoring Commission test whether the IRA is off the stage.
The IMC's latest report, yet to be published, confirms what the
Taoiseach and PSNI chief constable have been saying - that the
IRA is still recruiting and targeting.

Such a period to test republican bona fides would take us into
next spring and possibly towards the autumn of 2006. Then,
and probably well before, if the IRA has come up to the mark,
the pressure will be on the DUP to do business with Sinn Féin.

© The Irish Times


Deal On North Will Remain A Priority For Blair, Says Hain

Gerry Moriarty

North reaction: New Northern Secretary Peter Hain has said
that restoring the Assembly and Executive and securing a
lasting political settlement would be a priority for the British
Labour government in its third term.

Mr Hain, who was in contact by phone with senior Northern
party leaders over the weekend, flies into Belfast today. He will
be briefed by senior officials at Stormont. It is also expected
that later today his junior team of ministers will be announced.

Mr Hain (55), who also retains the post of Welsh Secretary,
predicted that British Prime Minister Tony Blair would "crack
the problem" and that there would be a "new political
dispensation" in Northern Ireland.

"This is a very, very important time," he said. "Obviously the
election results have sent their own messages. I intend to take
account of those and to make sure that we bring everybody

Mr Hain also said on Sky's Sunday with Adam Boulton
yesterday that Northern Ireland would remain a key issue for Mr
Blair. "The prime minister told me on Friday night when he
appointed me it was an absolute priority for him," he said.

When it was put to him that Northern politicians such as Ian
Paisley, Mark Durkan and David Trimble did not trust Mr Blair to
deliver on Northern Ireland, Mr Hain replied: "People say all
sorts of things in the heat of the moment."

He defended Mr Blair's record: "This is the prime minister, Tony
Blair, who negotiated the Good Friday agreement. People said
that that wasn't achievable. He did it. This is the prime minister,
Tony Blair, who has maintained a situation where the people of
Northern Ireland have had seven years of unparalleled peace
and prosperity and stability. This is the prime minister, Tony
Blair, who I believe will actually crack this problem in the
coming period and we will get a permanent peace settlement
and a new political dispensation which all the parties and all the
communities . . . can come together and govern their country in
the devolved Assembly that we have legislated for."

Mr Hain said Northern Ireland had experienced seven years of
peace and stability and increasing prosperity. "But there has
been increasing polarisation in the outcome of the election - a
trend by the way that was clear in the Assembly elections and
the local elections before last Thursday," he said.

"I want to work very actively with all the leaders and indeed all
the different representatives in the coming weeks and months
to try and get this peace agreement back on the road to a
permanent settlement," added Mr Hain.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said that he wanted a return
to talks as quickly as possible. "Sinn Féin went into this
election seeking an endorsement of our peace strategy and in
particular of our initiative to get the process back on track," he
said on Saturday.

"Despite months of disgraceful, dishonest and negative
campaigning by the establishment against our party, 174,530
people came out and endorsed this strategy," he added.

Mr Adams said that Sinn Féin was returned as the largest pro-
Belfast Agreement party. "The message is clear - people want
to see progress and they want to see Sinn Féin leading that
change. There is a huge responsibility on us but there is also a
huge responsibility on the DUP and on the two governments,"
he added.

"The opportunity for progress must now be seized. We want to
see a return to the talks as quickly as possible to get the Good
Friday agreement implemented and the political institutions
restored," he said.

© The Irish Times


Sunday Life Comment: Party Over For Trimble

08 May 2005

DAVID Trimble yesterday bowed to the inevitable and fell on his
sword as leader of the UUP.

In reality, the devastating vote of no confidence by the
electorate left the politician with few cards left to play.

It was once thought that Trimble would be remembered for
taking unionists into a Stormont government with Sinn Fein.

This morning, his legacy is as likely to be as the leader who
saw his party obliterated by the DUP, which grabbed four of its
seats - his among them.

North Down MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, has the dubious
distinction of being the lone UUP voice in Parliament.

Of course, there'd been warnings that change within unionism
was on the cards, but no one predicted the dramatic fashion in
which it came.

So what does the future hold for the UUP after Trimble - and for
Ulster politics in general? There'll be those in the party who'll -
rightly - push for change.

Allegations abound of UUP bungling and downright refusal to
co-operate in carving up Fermanagh/South Tyrone and South
Belfast with the DUP. The party faithful will demand that the
officers responsible pay the price.

On the broader front, voters opted for the extremes of unionism
and nationalism, with the moderate ground held by the SDLP.

New Ulster Secretary Peter Hain will have his work cut out
clinching a deal that will be supported by all sides. But his first
task must be to force the IRA to disband and verifiably destroy
its weaponry.

If republicans fail to read the anti-violence signals from the
ballot-box, then the prospect of direct rule looms ever-larger ...
and ever-longer.


Hermon Considers UUP Leadership

The Ulster Unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon is considering
running for the leadership of her party.

Lady Sylvia, the UUP's only Westminster MP, following its
devastating election defeat, said she "cared desperately" for
the province.

Party leader David Trimble announced his decision to stand
down on Saturday.

The party lost four of its MPs in the election. Mr Trimble, the
former first minister in the suspended Stormont Assembly, lost
his Upper Bann seat.

The UUP now has one MP, compared to nine Democratic

Lady Sylvia Hermon has been an MP since 2001 when she took
the North Down seat from the UK Unionist leader Robert

Speaking to RTE on Sunday, Lady Sylvia signalled that she was
interested in the position of leader.

However, she said she had to think of her two young children,
as well as her husband Jack, the former RUC chief constable
who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

"But I care for the party. I care desperately for the future of
Northern Ireland so I will think carefully over the weekend and
decide at the beginning of the week what I am going to do," she

Should she take the leadership, Lady Hermon, whose birth
name is Paisley would be battling another Paisley, the DUP
leader Ian Paisley and his expanding party.

Executive meeting

The party is expected to spell out the details of what will
happen next on Monday.

A meeting of the 100 strong Ulster Unionist Executive is likely
to take place in about a week.

This will be followed by a special meeting of the bigger Ulster
Unionist council in about a month which will elect the new

Mr Trimble announced his resignation on Saturday following a
private meeting with the party's president and chairman.

"I am pleased to have had the privilege of leading what I regard
as the best and most democratic political grouping in Ulster,"
he said in a statement.


When he seized the leadership of the party unexpectedly in
1995, his party held 10 seats at Westminster, compared to the
DUP's two.

In 1998, Mr Trimble and former SDLP leader John Hume won
the Nobel Prize for their contribution to the Northern Ireland
peace process.

There is speculation Mr Trimble could be offered a seat in the
House of Lords in the coming days.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/05/08 16:09:56 GMT



Remembering James Connolly

by Joe Davison

(Swans - May 9, 2005) May the 12th each year marks the
anniversary of the death of one of history's finest Marxist
revolutionaries, James Connolly. Executed in Dublin by the
British, after taking up arms in the 1916 Easter Rising to liberate
Ireland and end 800 years of uninterrupted occupation, he died
a martyr in the cause of self determination and social and
economic justice.

The story of that rising -- of the Irishmen and women who so
bravely took on the forces of British Imperialism and held out
for four days; of the leaders who were rounded up afterwards
and executed, each of them defiant to the end; of the aftermath
and the birth of the Irish Republican Army under Michael
Collins, leading to the formation in 1921 of the Free State
Republic -- is well known. The story of James Connolly,
however, is less well known.

(For the rest of the story see: )


Galtee Workers Asked To Work For €9 An Hour

Olivia Kelleher

Workers at Galtee Meats in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, have been
asked to agree to cut their pay to a standard rate of €9 an hour,
with the elimination of all overtime, to retain their jobs, it was
claimed yesterday.

Siptu has described as "draconian" the proposals issued by the
company on Tuesday.

Under the proposals there will be one standard rate of €9 an
hour, with employees who currently earn more than that rate
having the choice of retaining their existing rate or moving to
€9 a hour and receiving a lump sum.

The proposal says if agreement is not reached with Siptu
members, the company will seek to sell Galtee Meats.

Under the agreement overtime is to be eliminated, and all jobs
are described as "interchangeable and flexible".

Compensation packages are also being put in place, with all
employees set to receive a lump sum of €1,000.

Siptu regional secretary Gene Mealy said yesterday employees
were being placed in a very difficult situation.

"As far as we are concerned, these proposals are draconian.
The alternatives to these proposals are very stark for our
members. But ultimately, our members will make the decisions
on these proposals, and we are having a general meeting next
Thursday, where the proposals will be considered. These are
very severe proposals."

One worker, who declined to be named, said he was worried
that if the proposals were accepted his pay packet could be

"Even losing 10 hours a week overtime could cost you over €
300 a week, so it is a real cause of concern for us. It is

Chairman of Mitchelstown Business Association Tony Lewis
said he feared the situation was never going to improve in
Dairygold/Galtee Meats. Workers were in effect being asked to
put up with a 25 to 33 per cent reduction in wages or face the
loss of their jobs.

"We were told that we were going to have a bright future in
Mitchelstown, but the bad news keeps coming. Everyone is
entitled to a proper day's pay. I really don't know where the
company is going with this. We need to protect these workers."

Cork East Labour TD Joe Sherlock said workers at the plant
were "demoralised".

He urged Siptu to use all of its resources to fight the new
proposals to avoid the collapse of a business of such vital
importance to the area.

A spokesman for Galtee Meats confirmed yesterday that
proposals had been put forward to the union for consideration.

However, he insisted management's intention was to make the
company a profitable one, guaranteeing the plant's existence.
The aim was to change work practices to maximise
productivity, and make the company a viable competitor.

© The Irish Times
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