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May 02, 2005

Irish Unity Inevitable: Former Branch Chief

News About Ireland & The Irish

DI 05/02/05 Irish Unity Inevitable: Former Branch Chief
BT 05/02/05 Ex-Special Branch Chief Stands By His Praise Of Sinn Fein
IT 05/02/05 Defining Moment For Peace – McGuinness
SF 05/05/05 Speculation That SF Could Be Largest Political Party
SF 05/05/05 Election Office Report Deeply Disturbing
IT 05/05/05 Gospel-Singing Son Follows In Father's Footsteps Against SF
BT 05/05/05 Poll Will See New Faces In City Hall
BT 05/05/05 Adams And Durkan Clash
GU 05/05/05 Trimble's Seat In Danger As DUP Puts On Pressure
BT 05/05/05 Trimble Slams Alliance 'Stunt'
IT 05/05/05 Spirit Of Co-Operation Sitting On Sidelines
IT 05/05/05 Five People Injured In Three Attacks In North
IO 05/05/05 Omagh Relatives Seek Church Backing For Cross-Border Probe
DI 05/05/05 March Goes Ahead Despite Protests
DI 05/05/05 McDowell Blamed
BT 05/05/05 Opin: One Vote Isn't Enough For Me To Have My Say
IT 05/05/05 Abolition Of State Marriage Proposed
IT 05/05/05 Orthodox Easter Celebrated


Irish Unity Inevitable: Former Branch Chief

The former head of the RUC’s Special Branch has told Daily Ireland
that a united Ireland is “inevitable”.

In an exclusive interview, Bill Lowry says that “when we come to a
united Ireland there will have to be a new flag and a new anthem,
whenever that happens, which I believe is inevitable”.

His comments are sure to shock his supporters in the DUP who
invited him to address the same meeting last year at which Ian
Paisley made his infamous “sackcloth and ashes” comment.

Addressing that same meeting, the man who once spearheaded the
Special Branch campaign against the IRA, described Sinn Féin as
“evil incarnate”.

He warned unionists that if they “lie down with Sinn Féin dogs they
will get up with fleas”.

Mr Paisley took the stand after Bill Lowry and delivered the speech
which effectively scuppered any chance of the formation of a new
executive between his party and Sinn Féin.

Though forced out of the PSNI after the ‘Stormontgate’ raids of
October 2002, Bill Lowry insists he did uncover an IRA spyring at the
heart of government. He also denies that RUC collusion with loyalist
paramilitaries was institutional but admits “there were police officers
who were bad cops, slipping information here and there”.

He dismisses claims that the IRA were involved in drug-dealing but
insists the organisation did carry out the Northern Bank robbery.

Mr Lowry also says he “wouldn’t trust the British government as far
as he could throw them”, and his brother was faced with fleeing from
his home because of threats from Ulster Defence Association boss
Johnny Adair.


Ex-Special Branch Chief Stands By His Praise Of Sinn Fein

By Deborah McAleese
02 May 2005

The DUP voiced amazement last night after a former RUC Special
Branch chief said that what Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are
trying to do is "great".

Bill Lowry, who headed the anti-terror Special Branch in Belfast, also
stated that a united Ireland, is "inevitable".

The comments were made in an interview with the pro-republican
Daily Ireland newspaper. The former senior officer claimed that what
Adams and McGuinness are trying to do is "terrific, very positive,
great" and said that he deeply mistrusts the British Government.

He was also quoted as saying: "I wouldn't trust the British
Government as far as I could throw them, and that's after working
very closely with them."

His comments have astonished DUP supporters, who invited him to
a meeting last year at which Ian Paisley famously said that the IRA
should wear sackcloth and ashes. At that meeting, Mr Lowry said
that if unionists lie down with "dogs" they will "rise with fleas".

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after the newspaper interview, Mr
Lowry confirmed that he had made the remarks.

"I said it all but some of what I said was taken out of context. I think
what Adams and McGuinness are trying to do is great.

"Nobody else could have brought the IRA forward. It is great there
are no more killings. If they are trying to move away from being
killing machines into a political entity then of course that is good."

But he added: "What I said does not detract from their past."

The DUP's Sammy Wilson said that although Mr Lowry is entitled to
his opinions he was amazed by what he said.

"I do not divorce Sinn Fein's past from the present. Given what Mr
Lowry knows about the background of Adams and McGuinness I
think many people will find what he said very surprising.

"I think these comments will be a grave disappointment to many of
his colleagues who still suffer as a result of the injuries sustained at
the hands of the IRA. It is also a great disservice to his colleagues
who died at the hands of terrorists."

In the interview, Mr Lowry said he firmly believes Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuinness are on the IRA's Army Council. He also said
Adams is a clever, "mendacious" man with a "very long vision" who
wants to end violence.


Defining Moment For Peace - McGuinness

Deaglán de Bréadún in Belfast

The peace process in the North had reached its "most significant
defining period" so far and the IRA was facing a "big decision" that
would challenge everyone else in the process to respond
appropriately, according to Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin

Mr McGuinness told The Irish Times he expected a major effort by
Downing Street to revive the process after this week's general

"I am quite convinced that if Tony Blair is returned, and it is looking
likely, he will mount a huge effort to try and break the deadlock and
to get the peace process and the Good Friday agreement back on the
road again."

Asked if the IRA would still exist in a year's time, he said: "IRA
volunteers want, as passionately as I do, to see the peace process
succeed. Obviously we are at a critical phase and, in my view, the
most significant defining period that this process has ever seen."

He said Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams had "appealed to IRA
volunteers to accept his analysis that the best way forward now for
republicans is by purely political and democratic means and that
they should be involved in no activity whatsoever.

"No activity means no activity," Mr McGuinness said. "It means no
activity whatsoever which would undermine the peace process. Now
the IRA has big decisions, or a big decision, to make as a result of

Describing Mr Adams as "the effective leader of Irish republicanism",
Mr McGuinness said: "His words have to weigh very heavily with IRA
volunteers all over the island."

The IRA decision to call and sustain its 1994 ceasefire had been "an
incredible contribution" to building the process.

He added: "It is certainly my passionate hope that, whenever their
deliberations are concluded, the IRA will accept what Gerry Adams is
saying and so, in many ways acting in a unilateral fashion, do what
they did in 1994, effectively put it up to everyone within the process
to make their contributions also."

Asked if this meant the disbandment or standing-down of the IRA, he
said: "No, I think it's about an adherence to his belief that the best
way forward is by purely political and democratic means.

"What shape or form that takes is a matter clearly for them but if you
are in a situation where the IRA is not involved in anything, and I
mean anything, then obviously that propels the whole situation into
an entirely different ball-game."

Asked if the IRA, which was revived during the attacks on Catholic
communities in Belfast in 1969, would still see itself having a role as
a reserve force for the defence of nationalist areas, Mr McGuinness
said: "Given what we have been through over the course of the last
30-odd years and the hugely high level of politicisation which exists
within republican areas, I don't think anybody ever envisages again a
time when nationalist communities will not be in a position to defend
themselves in a crisis. The big difficulty with that is that I am working
to ensure there are no crises within the process."

Commenting on forecasts of further decline in the position of the
Ulster Unionist Party in this week's election, Mr McGuinness said: "It
is one of the great annoyances that I have in the process. I believe
David Trimble has been the author of his own misfortune."

The UUP leader would be in a much stronger position today if Mr
Trimble had put "his arms around the Good Friday agreement" and
stayed in the power-sharing institutions, instead of bringing them

"I mean that very sincerely. It is one of the great irritations and
annoyances that I have experienced in the course of recent years to
see the state into which the Ulster Unionist Party has fallen as a
result of their failure to fight for the Good Friday agreement and to
embrace change," Mr McGuinness said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said yesterday the appeal to the IRA from
Mr Adams showed how Sinn Féin was only catching up now with the
position of his party and others, who had said the IRA was an
obstacle to political progress for years.

Former SDLP leader John Hume also criticised Mr Adams: "I have no
doubt that in this election the people, in very large numbers, will
stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the SDLP, in total support for the
consistent work of the party."

Meanwhile, Mr Adams held a May Day press conference in Belfast
outside the former Falls Road home of executed 1916 leader James
Connolly. Asked about reports of an IRA leadership "reshuffle" he
said: "I don't know anything about it."

© The Irish Times


Speculation Grows That Sinn Féin Could Be Largest Political Party After
Westminster Elections

Published: 2 May, 2005

Commenting on speculation that Sinn Féin could be the biggest
political party in the North after the Westminster elections, Pat
Doherty, Head of the party's Election Department said:

"A strong nationalist turnout on May 5 could see Sinn Féin become
the largest political party in the north in terms of vote share.

"Having analysed the canvas returns from all 18 constituencies our
assessment is that Sinn Fein can become the largest party in the
north, in terms of popular support, at this election. If the largest party
after this election is both nationalist and pro-Agreement this will
impact significantly on the future of the political process.

"A decisive vote for Sinn Fein will send a clear signal to the two
governments that the process of change outlined in the Good Friday
Agreement must be accelerated. A strong Sinn Féin mandate will
also act as a reality check for unionists who believe that they can
turn back the clock, that the days of domination and second class
citizenship are over and that the process of change is now

"On May 5 nationalists have the opportunity to set a new precedent
in the politics of the north of Ireland by putting a pro-Agreement Sinn
Fein ahead of the anti-Agreement DUP." ENDS


Election Office Report Deeply Disturbing

Published: 2 May, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has described as "deeply
disturbing" a report by the Electoral Office of an Equality Impact
Assessment into the north's electoral register.

Mr. Adams said: "This report highlights the strong probability that
canvassers working for the electoral office may have discriminated
against households and individuals on the grounds of their religious
belief and political opinion. This is a deeply disturbing report which
must raise serious doubts about the running of the electoral office
and its conduct regarding the register.

Sinn Féin has already raised this matter with the Equality
Commission. We intend pursuing this matter with the British and
Irish governments. The Chief Electoral officer Dennis Stanley should
resign and allow a new Chief Executive get to grips with the serious
problems which exist within that organisation."

Mr. Adams said:

"Sinn Féin has consistently raised concerns about the introduction
and implementation of the Electoral Fraud (NI) Act 2002. The
grounds put forward to justify the introduction of this Act were
spurious and motivated by a desire to restrict a growing Sinn Féin

The adverse outcome of this Act can be measured in the hundreds of
thousands of eligible voters who have lost their democratic right to

This much is acknowledged even by the Electoral office which
concludes that: 'the annual canvass is no longer an effective or
efficient way to maintain the Electoral Register for Northern Ireland,'
and that: 'There is evidence that the Register is falling year on year
and will continue to do so unless specific action is taken to arrest
the decline.'

The Electoral Office has found that young people are under-
represented on the register and that the registration process has not
been effective in deprived areas where the catholic community would
be more adversely affected than protestant areas.

More significantly, the Electoral Office has admitted that some of its
canvassers may have discriminated against households and
individuals on the grounds of their religious belief and political
opinion: "that the approach to the conduct of the annual canvass in
preparing and maintaining the electoral register could have an
adverse impact on some people on the grounds of their religious
belief i.e. failing to canvass households whose occupants held
different religious beliefs from those of the canvasser."

On Political opinion the Electoral Office concludes that "it was
possible that there could be discrimination by some electoral
canvassers on the grounds of political opinion, i.e. failing to canvass
electors who held different political opinions from those of the

It is a matter of some considerable concern that a body overseeing
Electoral Registration, some 35 years after the Civil Rights era which
sought the right to vote, is itself complicit in preventing the full
exercise of that fundamental right.

The Electoral Office should take immediate and maximum action to
comply with its Fair Employment and Section 75 equality
responsibilities to ensure that discriminatory attitudes and practices
are transparently addressed.

Sinn Féin has asked that the Equality Commission engage with the
Electoral Office on this matter.

The Electoral Office should, in advance of any further registration
drive in the autumn, publicise the recommendations it has made to
the British government regarding changes to the Electoral
Registration process.


Gospel-Singing Son Follows In Father's Footsteps Against SF

Constituency profile/Mid-Ulster: A second generation of McCreas is
taking on Martin McGuinness, writes Deaglán de Bréadún.

One of the certainties of the Westminster elections in Northern
Ireland is that Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin will hold his seat in

Like his party colleagues in neighbouring West Tyrone and
Fermanagh-South Tyrone, once elected he has consolidated his
position and now looks virtually immovable.

McGuinness first ran for this constituency in 1997, challenging the
Rev Willie McCrea for a seat the DUP man had held since 1983. The
SDLP's Denis Haughey was also a strong contender for the
nationalist vote and, with the IRA off ceasefire at the time,
McGuinness's victory was by no means certain.

But nationalists who might have had reservations about voting Sinn
Féin decided to opt for McGuinness on the basis that he had the best
chance of unseating McCrea. The DUP incumbent aroused massive
resentment after he appeared on a public platform with Loyalist
Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright, who was later shot dead by a
republican inmate of the Maze Prison. McGuinness won by 1,883
votes over his DUP rival.

The Rev McCrea won a Westminster by-election in South Antrim for
the DUP in 2000 and therefore it was logical to run him again in that
constituency in the 2001 General Election when he lost the seat by a
narrow margin to David Burnside of the Ulster Unionists.

The party chose McCrea's son, Ian, as its contender in Mid-Ulster
and, although he polled a creditable 15,549 votes, McGuinness had
by now pulled way ahead of the field and secured a majority of
10,118 votes over the DUP candidate. McCrea snr returned to Mid-
Ulster for the 2003 Assembly elections when he topped the poll but,
on this occasion, he has gone back to South Antrim.

For the first time since 1983, the Ulster Unionist Party is running a
candidate in Mid-Ulster, local farmer Billy Armstrong MLA from
Stewartstown. Pointing to the Assembly vote, where the DUP got
20.8 per cent compared with 14.4 per cent for the Ulster Unionists,
Ian McCrea says it "proves that the DUP is the largest of the two
unionist parties." He believes that, as has been the case in
Westminster elections in this constituency for the past 22 years, the
DUP should have a clear run "and try to defeat Martin McGuinness". .

An accomplished Gospel-singer like his father, 28-year-old Ian has
recorded several CDs, with such titles as This Ship Will Sail and
Sustaining Grace. He has never visited Dublin: "Maybe on a protest."
On the UUP leadership, he says: "David Trimble makes it easy for the
DUP." Citing as an example the slogan: "Decent people vote Ulster
Unionists". "No one in their right mind would think of these things,"
says McCrea.

Billy Armstrong explains that the motivation for his candidacy was
all the DUP sniping at his party. "They started to undermine and
ridicule us," he says. If anyone stood aside, it should have been the
DUP because Armstrong was first in the field: "I had my posters up, I
was selected long before they selected their candidate."

He believes the DUP should have had the "decency" to step back. He
now hopes to surpass young McCrea's total: "We have to turn the

The SDLP's Patsy McGlone is running in a Westminster election for
the first time, but got elected to the Assembly in 2003. He was
previously the party's general secretary and press adviser to John
Hume. "The people are saying to us on the doorsteps, 'We lent Sinn
Féin our votes in the past: the Provisional movement has taken far
too much for granted and we aren't going to fall for any more
duplicity'," he says. "There is a comeback to the SDLP."

He predicts the SDLP will take votes back from Martin McGuinness
this time. Since the unionist vote is split, he believes nationalists will
feel under less pressure to rally round the incumbent.

Martin McGuinness sharply rejects claims by other candidates that
he is not just an abstentionist but an "absentee" MP. "Not true," he
says. "I'm in the constituency several days a week." He says he is
not taking the result in Mid-Ulster for granted and he flatly denies
any suggestion he was ever tempted to return to his native Derry to
run in the Foyle constituency.

"Never: once I committed myself to this constituency here I was
always very determined to continue to represent people who gave
me such a huge vote of confidence by electing me their MP in the
first place and then an even greater one the second time around
when I went to defend the seat."

The Northern Bank raid and the death of Robert McCartney may be
seen as difficult issues for Sinn Féin but McGuinness says that, in
the course of the campaign, "the Northern Bank hasn't been
mentioned at all". He said the McCartney case had been mentioned
just a few times by "people voicing their anger at the murderers of
Robert McCartney, not blaming us in any way because they know we
don't want to be associated with such people".

There had also been "an awful lot of anger at our political opponents
and the way they tried to use it against us", he added.

© The Irish Times


Poll Will See New Faces In City Hall

By Andrea Clements
02 May 2005

Past elections have seen up to a third of seats change hands in
Belfast City Council and the decisions of 166,824 potential voters on
May 5 will mean a major injection of new blood into City Hall.

At least ten new faces are guaranteed in the chamber as council
stalwarts say goodbye to local government.

The question is whether parties can hold on to seats being vacated
by members including Alex Attwood, Martin Morgan, David
Alderdice, Eric Smyth and Joe O'Donnell.

In Mr O'Donnell's case, other parties feel there has been a dramatic
shift in support for Sinn Fein following the ongoing ramifications of
the murder of Short Strand man Robert McCartney.

But the true measure of that will be if the only Sinn Fein candidate in
east Belfast, Deborah Devenny, takes a seat.

The party also reckons its "painstaking on the ground" work
deserves a seat in Balmoral.

But if Sinn Fein loses seats, its position as the biggest single party in
the chamber could be under threat from the DUP, which has its eye
on gaining a seat in Laganbank, and a second one in Balmoral, as
well as Sinn Fein's Pottinger seat.

Pottinger is certainly a ward to watch, with half its representatives
not seeking re-election and 12 candidates signed up for battle.

While Alliance lost two seats in 2001, leaving only three
representatives, they did retain a position of strength.

With 25 councillors on the unionist side of the chamber and 23 at the
nationalist side, Alliance holds the balance of power when, as is
usually the case, votes are taken along party lines.

Most significantly, their support for Alex Maskey made him Belfast's
first republican lord mayor in 2002.

If any of the unionist parties gains just one seat at the expense of
any non-unionist party it will put the council back in unionist control.

It would take SDLP and Sinn Fein to gain three extra seats for a
nationalist-controlled council.

SDLP's Alban Maginess and Sinn Fein's Danny Lavery are both
giving up seats in Castle to run in Oldpark.

While the council is bidding farewell to UUP couple Jim and Margaret
Clarke it could see a new DUP husband and wife team if Court
candidate MLA Diane Dodds joins Nigel on the benches.

Also planning to keep it in the family are the SDLP's Attwoods, with
Alex urging voters to put his younger brother Tim in the seat he is
vacating in the Upper Falls ward, where four out of five seats are
currently Sinn Fein's.

Two men crossing their fingers that they will be welcomed back to
the council are former UUP councillor MLA Fred Cobain and
Alliance's Mervyn Jones, who hopes to take David Alderdice's seat.

At the same time, UUP candidates Assembly member Esmond Birnie
and Harry Wallace, secretary of the Irish Football League, aspire to
take seats for the first time.

Big issues that will continue to face councillors over the next term
will be a revamp of leisure facilities across the city and attempting to
keep the rates down while facing a huge waste management bill.

The council also urgently needs to find somewhere to bury the city's
dead - space is fast running out.

Eighty-six candidates are vying for 51 seats but what support 23
candidates outside the popular 'big four' parties will attract remains
to be seen.


Adams And Durkan Clash

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
02 May 2005

The Sinn Fein and SDLP leaders clashed yesterday over future
devolution prospects and policing.

Gerry Adams and Mark Durkan went head-to-head in a television
debate - so far the only party leaders in the province to do so.

Mr Durkan admitted winning the Foyle seat - where he faces a strong
challenge from Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin - was not only crucial
for his party but for the future of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Adams said people needed to decide who would be the best
negotiators for them but - despite obstacles - he believed power-
sharing can still work.

Mr Durkan accused Sinn Fein of re-negotiating the Agreement in the
talks leading to the abortive Comprehensive Agreement last
December and including a new law on exclusion.

But he also said that, despite demands from both the DUP and Ulster
Unionists, he would not be "turning a blind eye" to inclusion, which
he had inserted in the Agreement - any more than he would turn a
blind eye to republican criminality.

Mr Adams said he accepted Mr Durkan "may be genunine but he
doesn't have his party on board". Deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell
and South Down MP Eddie McGrady took a "totally different
position" and wanted to see the exclusion of Sinn Fein.

Mr Durkan also said that in the December deal Sinn Fein had also
signed up for "Destination: Policing Board".

But Mr Adams said they had negotiated a timeframe for a transfer of
power from London while the SDLP had signed on for buying more
of the old plastic bullets.

The West Belfast MP said the British and Irish Governments faced
"mighty work" if it came to the point in future that the DUP did not
want to do a deal - what Mr Adams referred to as "if unionism loses
its nerve again."

He said what people wanted was hope but even if the IRA responded
positively to his call to embrace pure politics, there would be
problems ahead.


Trimble's Seat In Danger As DUP Puts On Pressure

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Monday May 2, 2005
The Guardian

The Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, enters his final days of
campaigning facing his toughest battle yet: a gospel-singing meat-
wholesaler is the bookies' favourite to steal his seat for Ian Paisley's
Democratic Unionist party.

Mr Trimble seems cheerful in the face of the onward march of the
DUP, who call him a traitor to Ulster and say his Good Friday
agreement is "dead".

"I do love to confound the pundits," he told the Guardian. His
campaign slogan announces: "Decent people vote Ulster Unionist".

The DUP has six MPs, to the UUP's five. One seat seems certain to
go while the others are uncomfortably tight.

Mr Paisley said the UUP leader was "just counting time to the electric
chair and the rope".

Mr Trimble's majority in Upper Bann is 2,058. If he lost the seat, pro-
agreement unionism would be badly wounded.

Seamus Mallon, the retired SDLP MP, who served with Mr Trimble as
deputy first minister at Stormont, has warned of the "Balkanisation"
of Northern Ireland society if the two extremes of the DUP and Sinn
Fein virtually wipe out the middle ground on May 5.

Mr Trimble wants voters to "reinvigorate" that centre ground. But it
has been a tough election for the Ulster Unionist leader.

First he had to postpone his manifesto launch after the home and
offices of an assembly member, Michael Copeland, were raided by
police investigating loyalist money-laundering. Mr Copeland denied
any wrongdoing and Mr Trimble stood by him.

Then two of his senior party members appeared to give their support
to the DUP candidate in south Belfast by posing with him for a photo
for his election material.

Another candidate, the MP David Burnside, said he would like to see
a "merger" of the two unionist parties in a "post-Paisley and post-
Trimble" era.

Mr Trimble stands by his commitment to shut Sinn Fein out of
government and replace power-sharing with a voluntary coalition
with the moderate nationalist SDLP, despite that party's rejection of
the idea.

Mr Paisley, campaigning for David Simpson, the gospel-singing meat
company boss and DUP mayor of Craigavon who is trying to unseat
Mr Trimble, had no doubt Mr Simpson would win.

"It will maybe bring Mr Trimble to his senses and get him off his
foolish road of treachery to the people of Northern Ireland," he said.


Trimble Slams Alliance 'Stunt'

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
02 May 2005

David Trimble has dismissed 'dirty tricks' allegations against his
party over a disputed election leaflet as a "stunt".

But the Ulster Unionist leader also refused to say if disciplinary
action against members would follow if any link to his party is

Mr Trimble rounded on the Alliance Party, however, for sending a
dossier on the leaflet - which urges UU votes to "lend" their support
to the UU in the General Election - to police.

Speaking on the BBC Inside Politics programme, Mr Trimble denied
any connection between his party and the group behind the leaflet,
who call themselves Concerned Citizens for a Shared Future.

Alliance has made a complaint to the Electoral Commission because
they argue the leaflet is designed to look like it comes from their

The Concerned Citizens group is not registered with the Electoral
Commission which means they are not allowed under electoral rules
to spend more than £5,000 on an election campaign.

But the Belfast Telegraph disclosed last week that the group's post
office box is registered to an East Belfast company, Circle Creative
Communications, which has also produced a series of leaflets for the
Ulster Unionists.

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

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

Alliance leader David Ford said the leaflet was part of a "dirty tricks
campaign 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 election."

The leaflets have reportedly turned up in six constituencies so far.


Spirit Of Co-Operation Sitting On Sidelines

Election Diary: Only a tiny minority votes on any basis other than
'tribe', writes Deaglán de Bréadún

To really capture the essence of an election in Northern Ireland you
need to be not a reporter but a Monty Python scriptwriter. While
elements of the media and even some of the politicians make a noble
effort to highlight "the issues" and discuss water charges or
pensions as if this were a normal society, the fact remains that only a
tiny minority votes on any basis other than loyalty to what some
people call "tribe" and others "nationality".

This is where Monty Python comes in, because it is only in the world
of comic fantasy that one can imagine most Protestant and Catholic
voters in a Northern Ireland constituency discussing the candidates
on the basis of their policies on education or pensions rather than
the constitutional issue.

Protestant voter: "I'm going with Sinn Féin this time because they
have a very imaginative approach to the health system." Catholic
voter: "I respect your point of view but the Ulster Unionists are very
sound on education issues so I'm giving them my 'X' on polling day."

An unlikely dialogue, for sure. Making it all that much more surreal is
the fact that a conventional election campaign is going on in the
larger island next door, where health, education, pensions and all
those other issues really will sway people's decisions on the day.
But that campaign is for the same parliament as the election in
Northern Ireland.

Is it any wonder foreigners find the entire scenario so hard to
understand? A nationalist voter in Mid-Ulster heard me complaining,
in my Southern accent, about the inconvenience of changing from
euro to sterling when I crossed the Border. "Don't worry," he said,
"there'll be a United Ireland soon enough." As he continued talking, it
was clear that he wasn't joking and sincerely believed the tide was
running in the direction of unity at last.

The old dream never dies and has been given a boost by the growing
patches of green on the Northern Ireland map which are likely to
increase further after the votes are counted later this week.
Meanwhile, on the other side, there is a deeper and more intense
shade of orange.

So despite the peace and calm that reign for the most part these
days, are we heading towards an even more cataclysmic
confrontation further down the road? Nationalist expectations and
self-confidence are growing and it is hard to imagine that they can be
forever contained within the existing constitutional structure. At the
same time, there is little "give" on the unionist side where people are
increasingly receptive to the hardline message of the Rev Ian
Paisley's DUP.

In this environment, one has to admire the idealism of those who
seek out the middle ground when it often looks as if there is no such
place. Posters for the Alliance Party point out that "Tribal politics
costs". Below that message, in a different colour, is the Alliance
logo. But if you are colour-blind, it reads: "Tribal politics costs
Alliance". Even more idealistic are the radical folk who have located
their posters half-way between the loyalist strongholds of Donegall
Pass and Sandy Row in Belfast. "Capitalism cannot be reformed,"
they tell us. "Boycott the elections. Spoil your ballot."

If only the Northern Ireland election were about the merits and
demerits of capitalism, it would be a wonderful situation. Tribes
predate the capitalist system, unfortunately. Yes, there have been
moments, during the 1930s, for example, when Protestant and
Catholic workers united on social issues but it was never going to
last as long as the constitutional faultline remained.

Over in West Tyrone, Dr Kieran Deeny, Independent candidate for
Westminster, has built an impressive cross-community coalition,
including members of the new ethnic groups in the constituency, to
prevent the downgrading of the hospital in Omagh. But there is little
sign as yet of that co-operative spirit permeating the rest of Northern

Back in the heady days of the Civil Rights movement, idealistic
students thought the two sides would see the logic of combining to
achieve the shared goal of a better life for everyone. It turned out to
be a tragically superficial reading of the situation.

Over three decades later, the constitutional issue still stands in the
way: logic and common sense dictate that it should be dealt with at
last, in a manner that both sides can accept.

© The Irish Times


Five People Injured In Three Attacks In North

Five people were injured in three separate violent assaults in
Northern Ireland at the weekend.

In Co Antrim, a man had part of his left ear and nose bitten off in an
attack yesterday morning. The 48-year-old was walking along the
Slaughterford Road near Whitehead shortly after 1am when he was
attacked. A woman alerted police and they have asked her to contact
them again.

Half an hour earlier, two men were stabbed in the Dunlea Vale area of
Dungannon, Co Tyrone. Police appealed to anyone in the area
shortly after midnight to contact them.

Meanwhile, two Polish men were kicked and beaten during a racist
assault by a gang. The victims had returned from a barbecue near
their home in the Moneydig area of Garvagh, Co Derry, when five
men forced their way inside.

They were taken to hospital where they were treated for their injuries.
One of their attackers is believed to have been around 40, with
shoulder-length silver hair. - (PA)

© The Irish Times


Omagh Relatives Seek Church Backing For Cross-Border Probe

2005-05-02 11:10:01+01

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland will today be asked by
some of the relatives of victims of the Omagh bomb to back their
campaign for a cross-border inquiry into the atrocity.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was among 29 people killed in
the Real IRA bomb attack in August 1998, will lead a delegation
which will meet Archbishop Sean Brady at his residence in Armagh.

The meeting in Ireland's ecclesiastical capital follows a series of
discussions with Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist church

As they prepared for today's meeting, Mr Gallagher said British
Prime Minister Tony Blair has also offered to meet them in Downing
Street should he win the general election.

"Our meeting with Archbishop Brady is part of an on-going series of
meetings with the main church leaders in Ireland who we know are
very influential," he said.

"We have concerns, very serious concerns about the way the Omagh
investigation has been handled.

"We know the importance of the churches and that Archbishop
Brady has a lot of influence in Dublin which can obviously help us in
our campaign for a cross-border public inquiry."


March Goes Ahead Despite Protests

Sinn Féin have lambasted the Parades Commission for failing to
place restrictions on a massive late night loyalist band parade due to
take place tonight in a religiously mixed village on the outskirts of

The Pride of the Hill Carnmoney Flute Band along with 50 other
bands and 2,500 supporters will take part in a two-hour march
around Glengormley.

The parade, which Sinn Féin insists will turn the village into a “no-
go” area for nationalists, is not due to finish until 10pm.

The Parades Commission did not put restrictions on the
demonstration because it was not deemed contentious.

However, this ruling has been rejected by local Sinn Féin councillor
Briege Meehan who insists previous loyalist parades in Glengormley
have been the catalyst for sectarian violence.

She said: “The sole intention of this parade is to intimidate
nationalists in what, for most of the year, is a peaceful community.

“Glengormley will become a no-go area for nationalists on Saturday.

“Previous loyalist marches in the village have resulted in Catholics
and their homes being attacked.

“I am totally opposed to the march and I am shocked by the Parades
Commission’s description of it as ‘non-contentious’.”

“The sole intention of this parade is to intimidate nationalists in
what, for most of the year, is a peaceful community.”

At previous marches, the Pride of the Hill Carnmoney Flute Band
have carried standards bearing the emblems of loyalist paramilitary
outfit, the Ulster Volunteer Force.

This goes against Parades Commission guidelines and should such
displays occur tonight it could put the future of the march in

The PSNI is responsible for reporting any breaches of marching
guidelines to the PSNI.

Prior to the Pride of the Hill Carnmoney Flute Band taking to the
streets of Glengormley another loyalist band and 100 of its
supporters, will take part in a 20-minute afternoon march around the


Nelson's Column: Forgotten Are Still Waiting For Justice

Paddy McEntee is a highly-respected legal eagle. He has served our
justice system well during a long and illustrious career. Paddy has
been appointed as Chairman of the Commission of Investigation into
the Garda handling of the investigation into the Dublin-Monaghan
bombings in 1974. 34 people were killed in these bomb attacks.

This column has believed for a very long time that these bombings
were the work of British intelligence. The McEntee Commission is
the first such inquiry to be established under the Commission of
Investigation Act 2004. All other commissions since the
establishment of this state, including the various and recent
tribunals into corruption, were established under British law.

This column also believes that the failure throughout the existence
of this state to get rid of British legislation says more about the state
we're in than many of the great defenders of this Republic would

It is a good thing therefore that we enacted our own Commission of
Investigation Act. It is a disgrace that the families of those killed on
that fateful day are excluded. There is no excuse for marginalising
the very people whose rights as Irish citizens need to be upheld.

Justice for the Forgotten lobbied the government on the terms of
reference of this commission. Their memo was ignored.

A commission, even one chaired by a person of Paddy McEntee's
stature, will deliver a report based on the terms of reference set for it.
The terms of reference for this investigation are inadequate. Justice
for the Forgotten are right. Thirty years later this government needs
to treat them with the respect they deserve.

Problems For Comrade Pat

As predicted here some time ago the machinations within the Labour
Party continue.

Comrade Pat succeeded in having his executive endorse a motion on
government coalition to go to next month's party conference in
Tralee. Nothing wrong or surprising with that.

What was interesting was that a third of the executive voted against
the leader. I have no doubt Comrade Pat will deliver the party
conference. He will also deliver the eventual demise of Labour and
the eventual erosion of whatever traditional Labour values his party

That's his track record with various shades of Workers Party, New
Agenda and Democratic Left. There are good people in Labour and
it's always a dilemma for the party when they are asked to embrace
the right-wing doctrine of Fine Gael or whoever else they hope to link
up with.

James Connolly was very clear about what he called gas and water
works socialists. As has been said by those more tolerant and
learned on these matters than this poor column, coalition with right-
wing parties reduces Pat's party to the mudguard of government
rather than the vanguard of Labour.

Lest we Forget

Elections in the North are now all-Ireland elections, chief Shinner
Mitchel Mclaughlin remarked recently. He was commenting on the
intervention by government ministers in the course of the current
election contests. Of course, he is right, and that's a good thing.
Though it is unusual for government ministers to take up such an
overt partisan electioneering stance.

Since Sinn Féin started to compete with the SDLP, a stream of party
leaders have dipped into the Six Counties for the amount of time it
takes to have their photograph taken. The SDLP have been making
much of this endorsement by the FFers, Enda et al.

It doesn't seem so long ago however since Mark Durkan was busting
a gasket outside government buildings bemoaning the way the SDLP
was being treated by Bertie and company. He was right, though a
more prudent approach may have been to say nothing.

The fact is that the SDLP was excluded from various negotiations by
the two governments despite protestations, I understand, from Sinn
Féin. Mark might have forgotten that. I doubt if the Northern
electorate will.

Election interventions

While on this subject, Michael McDowell was surprised at the anti-
racism protest which greeted his visit into the Northern fray. Of all
the interventions his was the stupidest.

For his part, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, hasn't
been too surefooted about the North. While he may be distracted by
other international matters at this time, he risks being a very junior
player in any future efforts to resolve matters up there.

His first public utterances extolled the virtues of Sinn Féin as
coalition partners. His publicised visits were in support of the SDLP.
His predecessor was much more surefooted. Brian Cowen's remarks
in Derry this week will outlive the election.

He said that up to €100 billion could become available to spend on
an all-Ireland basis over the next decade. Given the lack of
infrastructure in the northwest and the close affinity between Derry
and Donegal such investment is essential. Surely it will not be
conditional on the outcome of the Foyle election.


McDowell Blamed

The Irish Justice Minister came under fire last night over a district
court system that will see dozens more cases struck-off court lists in
the next few months.

In the worst affected area, Donegal solicitor Paudge Dorrian has
predicted that up to 48 cases, on-hold for up to three years, will be
thrown out of court because of unmanageable lists.

A Donegal judge dismissed 15 cases this week ranging from alleged
drink driving offences, assault and public order offences.

Presiding civil judge, Tom Fitzpatrick, said that Letterkenny District
Court has the worst problems of any in Ireland.

The visiting judge, whose schedule took him to Dublin on Tuesday,
Letterkenny on Wednesday and Mullingar yesterday, criticised the
lack of support for the District Court service as he dismissed
defendants awaiting the outcome of their cases for lengthy periods.

The judge said that all district courts have problems, but nowhere is
as bad as Letterkenny.

Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Paudge Dorrian laid theblame for
what he described as a “chaotic district court system" squarely at
the feet of Mr McDowell.

He said that the entire Irish judicial system is affected by the
problems currently dogging the current district court system.

“I would say that the whole criminal justice system commences with
the district court system," he said.

“The district courts enable the higher courts to operate. This whole
chaotic district court system lies at the door of the minister.
Defendants are entitled to a speedy expedition of their cases. There
is no other place that blame can be laid here."

Over 1,000 cases were presented to Judge Fitzpatrick at Letterkenny
District Court on Wednesday.

Many of the cases have been presented before court up to eight or
nine times after a series of adjournments.

Judge Fitzpatrick took the step of dismissing a number of cases in a
bid to highlight the problems, particularly in the Donegal area.


Opin: One Vote Isn't Enough For Me To Have My Say

By Malachi O'Doherty
02 May 2005

A vote is a paltry wee thing. There isn't really very much you can do
with it. Since this is a divided society, this is also a divided election.
My unionist friends hope that I will vote tactically rather than
ethnically. Being a presumed nationalist, I should really be voting for
Alistair McDonnell or Alex Maskey (don't make me laugh!) but for the
sake of preserving the Ulster Unionist Party perhaps I should vote
for Michael McGimpsey.

Maybe I should even vote for the Alliance Party, for no better reason
than that I agree with their manifesto policy of voluntary coalition but
there wouldn't be much tactical about that, since they are not going
to win.

Still, it would feel strange voting for the SDLP when they are
opposed to voluntary coalition.

Giving Michael McGimpsey a fair hearing, I see that his election
leaflet pledges him to defending the grammar schools.

Should I disregard this? After all, his victory will make no difference
to the survival of the grammar schools. But I wouldn't want him, after
an election victory, to be claiming my vote as a mandate for the
retention of the 11-plus any more than I would want Alistair claiming
it as an endorsement of the SDLP's commitment to the inclusion of
Sinn Fein at all costs.

So it is clearly more than one vote that I need in this election. I want
Alisdair McDonnell to win in South Belfast because I would like to
reverse the slide of the SDLP and humiliate - yes humiliate - Sinn

I want Michael McGimpsey to win south Belfast because I believe he
is an intelligent unionist and the best possible new leader of the
Ulster Unionist Party should Trimble fall.

The alternative will be Burnside. It is hardly likely that the Ulster
Unionist Party would pick for a leader someone who did not actually
have a seat in Westminster - and it won't pick Sylvia Herman because
she is a woman.

I want Geraldine Rice to win for the Alliance Party in South Belfast
because I want to put all this tribalism behind us. I want to break the

And how I decide which of these three I can actually give my single
vote to will also depend on my best chances of deterring the parties I
am averse to. I wouldn't spare a tinker's curse for a former Lord
Mayor who protested against the right of the police to investigate the
murder of Robert McCartney.

So that's Maskey out as far as I'm concerned. I'm saying this as
someone who praised him for his efforts as Lord Mayor. I'm sure
others are thinking the same way.

Besides, what possible sense could there be in electing an
abstentionist? It would be the plainest declaration that politics here
is tribal and that material issues are inconsequential.

The DUP has delivered its policy document on education to my
home. It is printed against a background of a pale blue wash.

The Union Flag appears only as a kind of vague watermark. Is the
party trying to appeal to nationalist tactical voters too? Has it too
concluded, like Michael McGimpsey, that South Belfast Catholics
want their grammar schools? Part of the problem with the DUP
document is that it is ungrammatical and inarticulate. Who knows,
perhaps that does make the case for grammar schools?

We are voting in local government and Westminster elections on
Thursday too. We will elect councillors to quibble over trivia and MPs
who will have no impact in Parliament.

The burning political debate concerns the credibility of Tony Blair
and the legality of the invasion of Iraq.

The thing I would most like to do with my single vote would be to
signal by contempt for Blair's massaging of intelligence and legal
advice in the service of his determination to lead the country into an
illegal war. I can't even do that.

So, I have a certain sympathy with those who don't bother to vote. It
is hard to put your X on that paper without feeling that you have
failed somebody.

Still the electoral commission assures us that the take-up of postal
and proxy votes is a clear indication of increased interest in this

If they are right, there will be a huge turnout. If they are wrong they
will have to find some other explanation for the rise in postal and
proxy votes.

I will vote. I would feel cheaper still if I didn't. But I will not come
away satisfied that I have made any clear or effective statement
through that vote about the future that I want here.


Abolition Of State Marriage Proposed

Paul Cullen

State marriage should be abolished and replaced by legal
recognition of long-term committed heterosexual, homosexual and
non-sexual relationships, a weekend law conference has been told.

Dr Oran Doyle, a lecturer in TCD's law department, said allowing
different groups in society to adopt their own definition of marriage
would produce the most egalitarian solution to the current debate on
the status of marriage.

He expressed opposition to gay marriage, not because homosexuals
would be bad for marriage, but because "marriage would be bad for
homosexuals". Marriage was "an inegalitarian institution" because of
the extent to which gender roles were ascribed to the partners.

"Those who choose to marry choose an institution in which the
following roles are presumptively assigned according to gender:
child-rearing, wage-earning, meal-cooking, lawn-mowing, lightbulb-
fixing, blocked drain-cleaning, clothes-washing, rodent-killing, etc,"
he told the conference on legal recognition of committed
relationships, held in TCD.

While these roles were not rigid, their negotiation within couples
took place against a background of what was considered appropriate
for each person's sex. Given this background, it was better for
homosexuals not to marry, he said.

Prof William Binchy, a member of the Irish Human Rights
Commission, said legal recognition should be given to couples
wishing to enter into "lifelong irrevocable marriage".

The 1995 divorce referendum replaced one model of marriage with
another, he said: "Even as spouses commit to marry until death do
them part, the law hears their commitment differently and treats them
as having made a commitment of a quite different character."

The denial of a model of lifelong marriage was "anti-pluralist" and
interfered with people's autonomy, he argued, because individual
citizens should be free to make up their own minds on the question.

But if this form of marriage was recognised, stringent safeguards
would have to be introduced to encourage people to reflect on the
"awesome nature" of their commitment and convey to them the
"depressing reality" that many spouses overestimate their prospects
for success.

Dr Neville Cox of TCD likened opposition to gay marriage to the
opposition to inter-racial marriage of 50 years ago. It was "quite
simply unfair" that something "so important and, at its best, so
wonderful" should be denied to people who directed their love to
others of the same gender.

© The Irish Times


Orthodox Easter Celebrated

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

The Orthodox churches in Ireland celebrated Easter with lengthy
ceremonies at the weekend.

At the Russian Orthodox Church in Harolds Cross, Dublin, an
estimated 1,000 people attended the Easter vigil on Saturday night.
They began at midnight and continued until 4am yesterday.

The vigil in the Greek Orthodox Church, attended by hundreds,
began at 10pm on Saturday and ended at about 1.30am yesterday.

Vespers were said in both churches yesterday.

There are an estimated 10,000 Orthodox adherents in the Republic,
with Russian Orthodox parishes in Cork, Galway and Monaghan, as
well as Dublin.

Ninety per cent are skilled workers and professional people of
eastern European origin.

It is estimated that in the Dublin Russian Orthodox parish they have
13 nationalities, most from new EU states.

Executive secretary of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting Michael Earle
extended Easter greetings "to our Christian brothers and sisters
within the Irish membership of the Orthodox churches".

On behalf of the IICM's 15 member churches, Mr Earle said: "Our
ecumenical family may be divided by human calendars but we
remain committed to each other in following God the Father, Son and
Holy Spirit and witnessing together to being signs of Christ's love,
peace, justice and hope in this divided island.

"Our prayers are with you and the congregations that you serve this

EASTER: Orthodox churches follow Julian calendar

Normally Easter is celebrated on much closer dates in Orthodox and
western churches but in 2005 there is a five-week difference. This is
because Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar when setting
a date for Easter. The Gregorian calendar is used by western

The first general council of the Christian church at Nicaea (modern
Iznik, Turkey) in AD325 formally sanctioned as the universal norm for
Christians the custom of celebrating Easter on the Sunday following
the full moon after the spring equinox.

The world at the time followed the Julian calendar, introduced by
Julius Caesar in 45BC. It was based on an average year of 365.25
days, with leap years every fourth year and in every centenary year.
Throughout the Middle Ages it was known the length of the year was
less than allowed for in the Julian calendar. It was becoming
progressively out of step with the seasons.

When Pope Gregory XIII introduced a new (Gregorian) calendar in
1582, 10 days were dropped from that year as a once-off measure.

The Orthodox churches held that when the Council of Nicaea
declared how the date of Easter was to be determined it was in
accordance with the Julian calendar and they would continue to use
it. They only use the Julian calendar for Easter. Otherwise they
follow the Gregorian calendar.

© The Irish Times
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