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May 06, 2005

McGuinness Wins After Loss of Boxes

News About Ireland & The Irish

UT 05/06/05 McGuinness Wins After Loss Of Boxes
SM 05/06/05 Quiet Man Murphy Makes Subdued Cabinet Exit
BB 05/06/05 Double Role For New NI Secretary
UT 05/06/05 Winners And Losers Of NI Election
GU 05/06/05 Trimble's Unionists Are Swept Away
IT 05/07/05 Durkan Pulls Through As Trimble Ponders Future
EX 05/07/05 Paisley Tells Governments To Listen Up
IT 05/07/05 Seismic Changes But Peace Accord Will Hold
EX 05/07/05 Government ‘Selling Out’ Right To Veto EU Rules
EX 05/07/05 Durkan Has Political Triumph Of His Life
IM 05/07/05 Annual Hunger Strike Rally
TO 05/07/05 Book Rev: Ghettos Of The Mind


McGuinness Wins After Loss Of Boxes

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness was the last Northern Ireland
MP to be installed tonight after two boxes of votes went
missing from the town centre count.

Assistant Chief Electoral Officer June Butler described the
taking away of the boxes by a driver before they were counted
as "a simple error".

However, the votes were recovered on an official lorry after a
frantic search as the already painstaking count was able to

Mr McGuinness brushed off the incident and managed to
increase his majority to almost 11,000 in the constituency he
has held since 1997.

"All election results in Mid-Ulster fit into the Sinn Fein goals all
over the north, where Sinn Fein is undoubtedly now the largest
nationalist republican party in the north and also the largest
pro-Agreement party," he said.

"These elections will be over in the blink of an eye, and there
will be a mighty responsibility on all political leaders of all
descriptions to play their part in building a better future for our
people and particularly for our children, who deserve better.

"What better way can we do that than by restoring the power-
sharing institutions?"


Quiet Man Murphy Makes Subdued Cabinet Exit

By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor

Paul Murphy steps down from the Cabinet in Tony Blair’s post
election reshuffle.

The MP for Torfaen, who held his seat in Thursday’s poll, is
replaced as Northern Ireland Secretary by Peter Hain.

Mr Murphy, a genial Welshman, came to Northern Ireland with
the reputation of being a safe pair of hands, but he wasn’t a
soundbite machine.

“That’s it, guys,” a disconsolate reporter told colleagues after
Mr Murphy’s first public engagement in October 2002 as
Northern Ireland Secretary.

“We’ve been spoiled up to now. We won’t get another decent
quote for years.”

He was right.

Journalists had been previously been treated in the early Blair
years to three colourful Northern Ireland Secretaries – Mo
Mowlam, Peter Mandelson and John Reid.

Mr Murphy, having served in Northern Ireland before as a junior
minister during Mo Mowlam’s tenure, was already familiar to all
of the province’s principal players because of his involvement
in the talks which led to the Good Friday Agreement.

Unusually for a direct rule minister, he was liked by all sides
and that affection did not wane in the two and a half years he
ran the Northern Ireland Office.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams recalled: “On a personal level, Paul
Murphy is a nice man and he’s fairly straightforward in private

“I remember one time an issue came up and I said to him: ’Did
you really think you’d be taking that decision?’

“He replied: ’Coming to think of it, no’. That’s how he is.

“Paul Murphy was a safe pair of hands for the British Labour
Government here but he didn’t break any Delft over the matters
effecting us.”

Devolution was suspended when Paul Murphy returned to
Stormont in October 2002 and it remained that way throughout
his time as Northern Ireland Secretary.

There were three attempts to break the political deadlock two
involving Sinn Fein and David Trimble’s Ulster Unionists and
one last December featuring Gerry Adams’ party and the DUP.

On each occasion, the deal faltered over IRA intentions.

As he quietly enforced Government policy, the DUP and Sinn
Fein emerged on his watch as the two largest parties in the

A self-confessed history buff, he left it to the Prime Minister and
his chief of staff Jonathan Powell to try and make history in
Northern Ireland.

But the quest for permanent power sharing and an end to IRA
and loyalist paramilitarism remains elusive.

Unionists are even more suspicious of republicans in the wake
of last December’s £26.5 million Northern Bank heist and the
murder of Belfast father of two Robert McCartney in January.

Paul Murphy also made his mark controversially on a number of
other areas.

In 2003 he appointed the four member Independent Monitoring
Commission which scrutinised how republican and loyalist
paramilitaries operated their ceasefires and how the two
governments fulfilled their peace process pledges.

Despite criticism from Sinn Fein and the Progressive Unionists,
he imposed fines on both of them last year after the IMC
reported serious breaches in the IRA and Ulster Volunteer
Force ceasefires.

A consultation was also launched last year on dealing with the
thorny issue of Northern Ireland’s past and the needs of victims

Paul Murphy travelled to South Africa to learn from its
experience of operating a Truth and Reconciliation

Nationalists were alarmed by his handling of demands for a
public inquiry into alleged collusion between members of the
security forces and loyalist gunmen in the 1989 murder of
Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

New legislation radically altering the terms of all future public
inquiries was condemned by human rights groups as well as
the Finucane family because it gave ministers, not the tribunal
chairs, the power to decide what could or could not be heard in

It also drew criticism from retired Canadian judge Peter Cory,
who the Government had asked in the first place to examine the
case for an inquiry into Mr Finucane’s murder.

As Northern Ireland’s Assets Recovery Agency confiscated the
homes and other spoils of criminal gangs and loyalist
paramilitaries, Paul Murphy was involved in efforts to persuade
the Ulster Defence Association to go legit.

The jury is still out on the success of those talks, with the
organisation, like the IRA, still to prove it is willing to end
involvement in criminal enterprises and attempts to rule
communities by the gun.

As Mr Murphy packs his bags at the Queen’s official residence
in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle, senior Democratic
Unionist negotiator Nigel Dodds accepts the post he is leaving
has been downgraded.

“I always found Paul to be a perfect gentleman,” he confesses.

“He was one of the few Secretaries of State who always had a
good personal relationship with the politicians and whatever
the policy differences, and we did have our differences, he had
the ability to relate to people.

“Ulster people like that. We have had a lot of cold fish in that
role in the past but Paul has a genuinely warm personality.

“I suppose it’s true to say the Secretary of State’s role is not
what it was.

“Tony Blair and Jonathan Powell have taken over more and
more of the heavy lifting in the process and have left Northern
Ireland Office ministers to just get on with the day to day
operation of local government departments.

“Maybe under a new Prime Minister, when Tony Blair eventually
goes, the role will alter again but it remains to be seen how that
will work out.”


Double Role For New NI Secretary

The new Northern Ireland Secretary will continue to work in his
old portfolio as Welsh Secretary, it has emerged.

Outgoing Leader of the Commons Peter Hain will replace Paul
Murphy as part of a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Tony

This is not the first time Mr Hain has taken over from Mr
Murphy, having replaced him in the Welsh job in 2002.

Mr Murphy leaves government to become chairman of the
Intelligence and Security Committee.

Mr Hain's appointment followed a day of big changes in NI's
political landscape with the DUP and Sinn Fein making big
electoral gains.

BBC correspondent Mark Simpson said it would not be a huge
surprise that Tony Blair had decided to change his Northern
Ireland Secretary.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds said Mr Hain's dual portfolio meant the
job of Northern Ireland Secretary was being downgraded.

"I suppose it's true to say the secretary of state's role is not
what it was," he said.

"Tony Blair and Jonathan Powell have taken over more and
more of the heavy lifting in the process and have left Northern
Ireland Office ministers to just get on with the day to day
operation of local government departments.

"Maybe under a new prime minister, when Tony Blair eventually
goes, the role will alter again but it remains to be seen how that
will work out."

He paid tribute to Mr Murphy as having "a genuinely warm
personality", a sentiment echoed by Sinn Fein leader Gerry

"On a personal level, Paul Murphy is a nice man and he's fairly
straightforward in private conversation," he said.

Mr Adams said Mr Murphy was "a safe pair of hands for the
British Labour government here but he didn't break any Delft
over the matters affecting us."

Direct action

Mr Hain has long been a believer in direct political action - and
is now one of a clutch of cabinet ministers who in younger days
had the security services monitoring their activities.

He first came to national prominence as a radical Young Liberal
in the forefront of the campaign against apartheid in South
Africa, where he lived until he was 16 and his activist family fled
to Britain.

Once here, he led the 1969/70 Stop the Seventy campaign to
disrupt the South African cricket tour of the UK, and helped
found the Anti-Nazi League in 1977 - the same year he moved
over to Labour.

He spent 15 years working as a political researcher for a trade
union, entering the Commons at the 1991 Neath by-election.

In opposition, he was a whip and then shadow employment
minister. But his Welsh seat meant that when Labour won office
in 1997, his first government job was at the Welsh Office.

From there, however, he moved on to the Foreign Office and
then the Department for Trade & Industry.

After the 2001 election he was appointed Europe minister, in
which role he sounded a pro-euro note that was a change from
the more euro-wary tone of his earlier pronouncements on the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/06 20:45:32 GMT


Winners And Losers Of NI Election

The General Election was the fiercest campaign Northern
Ireland had seen for years.

By:Press Association

But as the province`s 18 newly elected MPs faced up to the
challenges ahead of them, who were the main winners and
losers of the campaign?


DAVID SIMPSON (DUP, UPPER BANN): One result which was
guaranteed to send shockwaves around the world was the
defeat of David Trimble.

Gospel singer and meat industry businessman David Simpson
came close to achieving that dream in 2001, when as a relative
unknown he forced the UUP leader to a recount but lost the
seat by 2,058 votes.

This time he claimed the Nobel Peace Prize laureate`s scalp
with 5,298 votes to spare.

MARK DURKAN (SDLP, FOYLE): At the start of the General
Election, many pundits and political opponents were writing off
Mark Durkan and his party.

Conventional wisdom said the party would lose Foyle and
Newry and Armagh and might just hold Eddie McGrady`s South
Down seat.

Mr Durkan`s barnstorming victory in Foyle and his deputy
leader`s sensational victory in South Belfast has not only given
the party a four year lifeline but could serve as a template as to
how the party can keep its foothold in nationalism.

for the Ulster Unionists there was one crumb of comfort.

Lady Sylvia Hermon saw off the challenge from the DUP`s Peter
Weir but finds herself alone on the Westminster benches.

Some people in the party will look to her as a possible leader of
Ulster Unionism but if she refuses to take on that task she will
become a major power broker.

isn`t the only Gospel singing MP - the Free Presbyterian Church
minister has a stack of albums recorded in Nashville.

But he also has considerable Westminster experience, serving
as the MP for South Antrim before for a year and also as Mid
Ulster MP between 1983 and 1997 until it was won by Sinn
Fein`s Martin McGuinness.

He will draw great satisfaction from his victory over David
Burnside and can be counted on to sing from the party hymn

been a long arduous road to Westminster for the SDLP deputy

For years the Cushendall GP had battled to become South
Belfast`s first ever nationalist MP and this time many of his
political opponents and commentators doubted his ability to
realise his dream.

But having shown steely determination last year to capture the
deputy leadership of the SDLP, he has shown similar resolve in
capturing a Commons seat.

11,905 votes the Carrickmore GP secured may not have
unseated Sinn Fein`s Pat Doherty but were something of a
personal triumph after a bruising General Election campaign.

The independent hospitals campaigner clashed with SDLP
leader Mark Durkan after the party refused not to give him a
clear run at the West Tyrone seat.

However he will draw satisfaction from his strong performance
and the collapse in SDLP Assembly member Eugene
McMenamin`s vote.


DAVID TRIMBLE (UUP, UPPER BANN): David Trimble has had a
series of dark days at the polls as Ulster Unionist leader since
the electoral high of 10 seats in 1997 General Election.

However this was his gloomiest, losing his seat in Upper Bann
and watching the party reduced to just one seat at Westminster.

The pressure on him to quit as UUP leader will be immense and
his concession speech had all the hallmarks of a leader
preparing to leave frontline politics.

believed this was the election when Sinn Fein`s key strategist
would finally get rewarded with a Westminster seat.

However there are no certainties in elections and after years of
being bridesmaid to former SDLP leader John Hume, he is now
bridesmaid to Mr Hume`s protégé Mark Durkan.

As general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin will continue to play a
major role in crucial peace process negotiations but he will be
bitterly disappointed to have lost by a 5,957 majority.

people`s view, South Belfast should never have been Michael
McGimpsey`s to lose.

But lose he did and in spectacular fashion, even falling behind
the DUP`s Jimmy Spratt - a candidate with little political
experience in a constituency where the Rev Ian Paisley`s party
had little presence before the election.

The former Stormont Culture Minister had been talked about in
some quarters - at one stage even by David Trimble - as a
potential leader. Today`s result looked to have seriously dented
those hopes.

will be delighted to have emerged with stunning victories in this
General Election but will also be alarmed by some lost ground
in constituencies.

Nowhere was this more deeply felt than in West Tyrone, where
the party paid the price for internal divisions and the decision
to field Eugene McMenamin took its toll.

The party vote tumbled from 6,110 in the Assembly Election to
3,949 - leaving the SDLP with a mammoth recovery job.

DAVID BURNSIDE (UUP, SOUTH ANTRIM): The public relations
guru was of the view throughout the General Election that
turnout would decide South Antrim.

While he and his admirers in the Ulster Unionist Party will be
disappointed to lose the seat, they were resigned at close of
polls to the possibility.

Mr Burnside could use his Assembly seat as a springboard for
gaining the UUP leadership but the margin of defeat, 3,448
votes, will leave a bitter taste in his mouth.

Finance Minister cut a glum figure on the podium in Ballymoney
as Sinn Fein`s Philip McGuigan claimed second place in the
Rev Ian Paisley`s constituency.

SDLP strategists had hoped to prove Sinn Fein`s emergence as
the larger party in the 2003 Assembly Election was only

But while Philip McGuigan increased his vote, the Dubliner`s
total dropped, generating speculation that this could be his last
electoral contest in the constituency.


Trimble's Unionists Are Swept Away

Success of Paisley's forces leaves once-mighty UUP with just
one seat as leader and Nobel laureate considers his future

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent

Saturday May 7, 2005

The Guardian

The Ulster Unionist party was in meltdown last night after its
leader, David Trimble, lost his seat to Ian Paisley's hardline
Democratic Unionist party and what was once the biggest party
in Northern Ireland was reduced to only one MP.

Mr Trimble, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had been MP for
Upper Bann for 15 years, but lost by more than 5,000 votes, a
margin that surprised even the winner, a gospel-singing meat
wholesaler, David Simpson.

Mr Trimble, who appeared close to tears on the podium at the
count, must now decide whether to resign as party leader after
the most catastrophic election in the UUP's history.

When he took the post in 1995, the UUP had 10 MPs to the
DUP's two. Last night, in the party's centenary year, only Lady
Sylvia Herman had retained her seat in North Down. The UUP
lost three seats to the DUP and one to the SDLP, whose deputy
leader, Alasdair McDonnell, became the first nationalist MP for
the affluent, traditionally unionist South Belfast seat.

Mr Trimble said he was proud of his 15-year record in the
House of Commons. "The DUP will know that with success
comes responsibility. I believe they have inherited from Ulster
Unionism a very strong position for unionism and I hope they
manage to safeguard that position over the course of the
months to come."

Asked whether he would resign, he said he would consult
senior colleagues. David Burnside, a long-time critic of Mr
Trimble within the party, also lost his seat and said the Ulster
Unionists were "destroying ourselves". Asked if Mr Trimble
should resign, he said he had already "held on too long".

The DUP, now the biggest Northern Ireland party at
Westminster, finished with nine seats, saying the unionist
people had spoken out against the Good Friday agreement and
"pushover unionism".

The DUP leader, Ian Paisley, said Mr Trimble brought the result
on himself: "David Trimble took the wrong road."

In South Belfast, the SDLP said Mr McDonnell's victory
illustrated a "Robert McCartney factor" against Sinn Féin.

Dr McDonnell, a GP with a surgery close to the area where
Robert McCartney was killed, was the most vocal critic of Sinn
Féin over its handling of the murder by IRA members.

Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey, a former mayor of Belfast, was more
than 1,000 votes down on the Stormont election in 2003.

The SDLP's Brid Rogers said: "Instead of condemning the
murder, he condemned the police who tried to solve the
murder." She said people in Magennis's bar on the night of Mr
McCartney's murder were workers for Mr Maskey - an allegation
he has refused to comment on.

Sinn Féin's Bairbre de Brun said it was "impossible to tell" if
the McCartney murder had an impact. Sinn Féin comfortably
took the SDLP's Newry and Armagh seat, increasing its tally of
absentionist MPs to five.

But the SDLP halted Sinn Féin's advance into its moderate
nationalist heartlands in Derry. Party leader, Mark Durkan, held
John Hume's Foyle seat by about 6,000 against Sinn Féin's
general secretary, Mitchel McLaughlin, apparently benefiting
from a tactical vote by unionists.

The Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, retained West Belfast
with 70% of the vote and a majority of more than 19,000. The
party's share of the vote in West Belfast increased by 4.4% at
the expense of the SDLP.

Ian Paisley retained his North Antrim seat with a majority of
17,965 and a 5% increase in his vote.


Durkan Pulls Through As Trimble Ponders Future

David Trimble was last night considering his political future
after the Ulster Unionist Party's worst ever result in
Westminster elections, writes Gerry Moriarty Northern Editor.

However, Mark Durkan's leadership of the SDLP has been
cemented after he retained his seat and Alasdair McDonnell
pulled off a surprise victory for the party in South Belfast,
joining the party's other MP, Eddie McGrady, in the House of

Mr Trimble was the biggest political casualty of a day of
political drama at many of the 18 Westminster counts in
Northern Ireland. The Nobel Laureate was soundly defeated by
DUP candidate David Simpson in the Upper Bann constituency.

The UUP representation at Westminster was reduced from five
to one, with Lady (Sylvia) Hermon in North Down the only
survivor. The DUP increased its seats from six to nine while
Sinn Féin won one extra seat, Conor Murphy taking Séamus
Mallon's former seat in Newry and Armagh, increasing the
party's representation from four to five.

The British and Irish governments will quickly assess if there is
a political way forward after this result. They will be comforted
by the fact that while the UUP was virtually obliterated at
Westminster, the SDLP ensured the political middle ground was
not totally wiped out.

In a statement last night the Taoiseach said it was "time to
move beyond the current stalemate".

"Now that the elections are over it is time to definitively resolve
the crisis of trust and confidence . . . and to get on with the vital
project of fully implementing the Good Friday agreement.

". . . In the course of the election campaign and in response to
the meeting last January with the Government, Sinn Féin have
appealed to the IRA to commit itself to purely peaceful and
democratic methods. I said at the time that this initiative had
potential. We await a reply to this appeal. That reply must be
clear. And it must be decisive."

The British Prime Minister last night appointed Peter Hain as
the new Northern Secretary, to replace Paul Murphy. One of his
first responsibilities will be to assess whether the IRA is likely
to respond positively and quickly to Sinn Féin president Gerry
Adams's call on the IRA to fully embrace peace and democracy.

While Sinn Féin now has a much stronger mandate, party leader
Gerry Adams gave no indications as to when the IRA would
respond to his urgings to effectively cease all activity.

Mr Trimble also refused to say whether he planned to
imminently resign as UUP leader after the DUP's David
Simpson defeated him by over 5,000 votes in the Upper Bann
constituency. The UUP chairman, James Cooper, said the party
was "bitterly disappointed" with the election result. He
indicated there would be no comment on the leadership until
after the counts for the local elections over Monday and

Mr Trimble acknowledged the DUP's achievement yesterday but
said it now had a responsibility to make politics work. "I believe
they have inherited from Ulster Unionism a very strong position
for unionism and I hope they manage to safeguard that position
over the course of the months to come," he added.

Re-elected SDLP MP for South Down, Eddie McGrady, said his
party had a "hugely successful day against all the odds and
against all the pundits". Mr Dominic Bradley failed to hold Mr
Mallon's seat in Newry and Armagh, but SDLP leader Mark
Durkan won Foyle by almost 6,000 votes against the challenge
of Sinn Féin general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin.

In South Belfast, where unionists have an overall majority of
votes, SDLP candidate Dr Alasdair McDonnell took the seat
against the challenge of the DUP's Jimmy Spratt and the UUP's
Michael McGimpsey. It is the first time a nationalist has taken
South Belfast.

These results reflect a continuing growth in nationalist seats at
Westminster. It means that for the first time nationalists now
have eight seats - five for Sinn Féin and three for the SDLP -
while unionists have 10. In the 2001 Westminster elections
nationalists won seven seats - four Sinn Féin, 3 SDLP.

There was considerable unionist tactical voting for SDLP
candidates, although Mr Durkan would have taken Foyle
without such assistance. "I have no shame in any unionist
votes that I received in this election because my party earned
them," said the SDLP leader.

"We won this election on a bedrock of solid SDLP nationalist
votes because we learned the lessons of previous elections. We
worked harder we worked stronger, we fought harder for votes,
we were hungrier for votes, we got our stay-at-home votes back
out and there's a lesson for us as a party more widely and it's a
lesson that we will be learning and we will be applying
positively," Mr Durkan added.

© The Irish Times



Triumphant Paisley Tells British And Irish Governments To
Listen Up

By Senan Hogan

IAN PAISLEY warned the British and Irish governments to listen
to the voice of his people yesterday as he increased his
massive North Antrim vote by 5%.

The Democratic Unionist Party leader triumphed with 25,156
votes, over three times the tally of his nearest rival, Sinn Féin’s
Philip McGuigan.

Speaking after the declaration by returning officer Jacqui Reid,
Mr Paisley said: “I will be telling Dublin and London tonight that
they better listen to what the people of Northern Ireland are
saying. The day has come when we cannot tolerate Sinn
Féin/IRA anymore. The Democratic Unionist Party will be a
force for all that’s good and decent in Northern Ireland.”

Westminster poll first-timer Mr McGuigan said Sinn Féin “has
been given a clear mandate as the largest pro-Agreement party
in Northern Ireland”.

Beaten into fourth place by Ulster Unionist Rodney McCune,
SDLP MLA Seán Farren dismissed claims his party was in
demise and called on all MPs to deliver on their mandates.

“The demise of the SDLP has been predicted but has not been
realised. Elected MPs must now discharge their responsibilities
on behalf of the peace process,” he said.

In a brief interview with reporters, Mr McCune said the result
“required reflection” by his party.

Alliance Party candidate Jayne Dunlop gathered 1,357 votes in
the Ballymoney count centre.


Seismic Changes But Peace Accord Will Hold

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Analysis: In the wake of the Westminster election results for
Northern Ireland yesterday, the big question is can the centre
hold, can the Belfast Agreement survive?

The middle ground is certainly shook - in unionist terms to a
seismic degree - but the principles of the Good Friday accord

On the nationalist side yesterday centrist politics held up
reasonably firmly with the SDLP winning three seats against
huge odds - with some unionist help.

The Ulster Unionists represent the moderate voice in unionist
politics but yesterday that voice was virtually silenced. The
DUP finally took David Trimble's scalp. His international
standing, his Nobel peace prize, his UUP leadership could not
save him.

The history books will treat Trimble well but it seems he must
now recuperate in the British House of Lords and hand over his
leadership and what is left of his wounded party to someone

The DUP and Sinn Féin have further entrenched their positions
as the dominant voices in Northern Ireland politics but they
were taught just a little humility, and that will please the British
and Irish governments and those who feared a DUP/Sinn Féin

The DUP emerged with nine seats when it was expecting to win
10. Sinn Féin won five seats when it expected to take six. Lady
(Sylvia) Hermon is now the sole UUP voice in the House of
Commons, but the SDLP has three seats when it was predicted,
including here, that it might end up with only one, Eddie
McGrady's in South Down.

Mark Durkan, the SDLP leader, with unionist support easily saw
off the challenge of Mitchel McLaughlin and Sinn Féin's
formidable electoral machine.

That was a remarkable achievement and he can be forgiven for
hammering us pundits who got it wrong. Perhaps first-time
fatherhood served him well but in this campaign Durkan was
strong and relaxed, concentrated and witty without being
verbose, as is sometimes his failing. This result stamped his
authority on the party and demonstrated that the SDLP has a
future when a couple of days ago there was a real danger it had
none. For once its machine was well oiled.

Durkan won well in the end, by almost 6,000 votes, and would
have taken the seat even without unionist assistance. It gives
him time and space to further develop his party.

Equally remarkable was the victory of Dr Alasdair McDonnell
fighting South Belfast for the eighth time. A couple of days
ahead of the vote, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was
dismissing McDonnell as a no-hoper but the good doctor came
through the middle, between the favourite, the DUP candidate
Jimmy Spratt, and Michael McGimpsey of the UUP.

"Tribal politics is not the only way forward in Northern Ireland,"
said McDonnell in his acceptance speech, making his point for
centre-ground politics.

Sinn Féin had a very good election most everywhere but not in
South Belfast. It seems voters there sent a message to Sinn
Féin that they deplored the murder of Robert McCartney and
perhaps weren't too impressed either with the allegations of
widespread IRA criminality. Alex Maskey was the main
spokesman for Sinn Féin as it defended its position after Robert
McCartney's murder. In the Assembly elections he won 3,933
votes approximately; yesterday he won 2,882. Some of that may
have been Sinn Féin supporters voting tactically for McDonnell
but a significant portion probably was because of the
McCartney factor.

Durkan also fought on a platform that a vote for the SDLP was
not only a vote for his party but was putting pressure on
republicans to fully embrace democracy.

The international story from yesterday's election is, of course,
the defeat of Nobel laureate David Trimble. After almost 10
years as UUP leader, David Trimble was dignified in his speech
after the result was declared, his voice only breaking when he
thanked his wife, Daphne, and family. He would not say whether
he intends to resign but his hope that the result would have a
"silver lining" for his family may have been a hint that he will.
He has little other option, it seems.

Acknowledging the DUP's achievement, Trimble put it to the
Rev Ian Paisley and his party that with power comes
responsibility. "I believe that the situation that Northern Ireland
is now in is a much better one as a result of what we have done.
I am proud of our record," Trimble said.

The DUP now rules the unionist roost at Westminster but it has
embraced the power-sharing philosophy of the Belfast
Agreement. For all the hard words, Paisley and Peter Robinson
say they will serve in a Northern Executive and Assembly with
Sinn Féin if the IRA truly and demonstrably does what Gerry
Adams asked them to do - clear the stage.

The period ahead will determine whether the IRA will answer
that call. If it feels it needs a political mandate to respond
positively, then the continued increase in the Sinn Féin vote
and representation has provided one.

One of the reasons for the virtual demise of the UUP at
Westminster is that, previously, David Trimble accepted what
he understood was the word of the IRA, that it would go away. It
didn't but in gambling in his dealing with Sinn Féin he brought
republicans further into the embrace of normal politics.

Some believe that republicans are engaging in a Machiavellian
"long game" to achieve a united Ireland and have no real
interest in seeing the Assembly restored, the argument being
that the longer there is confusion and political discord here, the
better are republican ambitions facilitated.

Gerry Adams has given assurance after assurance that this is
not the case; that while republicans want a united Ireland that in
the short term it believes devolution best assists that ambition.

Sinn Féin with five seats and the DUP with nine are in the
political driving seat. They have made huge gains, but there is
an odd inter-dependence here because if Sinn Féin and the DUP
really want to be back in the Executive then Gerry Adams and
the IRA must deliver and Ian Paisley must believe them.

© The Irish Times


Government ‘Selling Out’ Right To Veto EU Rules

By Mary Dundon, Political Reporter

THE Government was last night accused of “selling out” on the
Irish people’s constitutional right to veto any major changes in
EU rules.

The Government is proposing an amendment to the Irish
Constitution that would allow the Taoiseach to sign up to a
wide range of changes to EU rules without a referendum, as is
required under the present system.

Some opposition parties yesterday accused the Government of
"selling out" on Irish sovereignty and said they would not
support the people being by-passed on major decisions.

The Green Party said the Government's proposal would
overthrow the vital 1987 Supreme Court Crotty judgment which
ensured Irish people would have a say on the important issues
of EU treaties and their effects on the Irish Constitution.

Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesman John Gormley said this
attempt to bypass the people would be an affront to democracy.

"We will not agree to give the Government a carte blanche in
relation to the options and discretions listed in this
amendment," he said.

Sinn Féin said the Government wants to "sell out" on Irish
sovereignty by getting rid of the people's national veto on most
EU matters.

"The Government wants people to sign a blank cheque by
making these amendments to the Constitution," Sinn Féin's
European Affairs spokesman Aengus Ó Snódaigh said.

Among the issues that could be fast-tracked are:

A common foreign and security policy.
EU financing.
Social policy.
Environment policy and family law.
A European Public Prosecutor.

The proposed amendment would also allow Ireland to take part
in a "permanent, structured co-operation on defence".

However, the constitutional ban on Ireland's participation in a
common defence will be maintained and can only be changed
by a referendum, a Government spokesman said. The EU would
also not be able to interfere in domestic taxation.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said their main concern is the
proposal to allow major changes to EU policy without
consulting the Irish people.

Mr Rabbitte said the Taoiseach had now agreed with him that
each change would be examined on a case-by-case basis.

The Government spokesman said the current proposals are
only draft amendments that are being discussed with Fine Gael
and Labour.



Durkan Has Political Triumph Of His Life

By Dan McGinn

UNDER pressure SDLP leader Mark Durkan last night pulled off
the political triumph of his life.

The former Stormont Deputy First Minister comfortably
defeated senior Sinn Féin negotiator Mitchel McLaughlin in
Foyle in a seat which republicans had aggressively targeted.

The victory came on the back of another coup for the SDLP,
with deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell becoming the first
nationalist MP for South Belfast.

Dr McDonnell, a 55-year-old GP, who is originally from
Cushendall in the Glens of Antrim, captured the South Belfast
seat courtesy of a split unionist vote.

However, the party drew its greatest satisfaction from Mr
Durkan's stunning success in Foyle, a Derry-based seat which
his mentor, former leader John Hume made a citadel for the
SDLP. Before the election, some political pundits were not only
writing off Mr Durkan's ability to hang onto the seat but
predicting meltdown for his party.

Mr Durkan's victory was a bitter blow to Sinn Féin, which
believed it could win the seat in the post-John Hume era.

But it was also the product of a gargantuan canvassing effort to
protect Foyle involving SDLP workers from all over the North.

Mr Durkan captured Foyle with a 5,597 majority, and in his
acceptance speech, accused political opponents of claiming
victory days in advance in tactics, he said, which were similar
to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

The SDLP leader, an avid Manchester United fan, who was
accompanied by his wife Jackie on the podium, said: "There
has been some talk in this election about what Foyle would
mean and what the significance of the Foyle result would mean.

"I was written off. The SDLP was written off.

People called this election two or three nights ago.

"I know it is a bit of a Jose Mourinho tactic to do it and show
those sorts of tactics. But the fact is like Jose Mourinho, the
result wasn't as it was called."


Annual Hunger Strike Rally

by Sean Friday, May 6 2005, 9:56pm

dublin / rights and freedoms / event notice

The Bobby Sands Memorial Lecture is planned for May 10th

Annual Hunger Strike Rally will be held on May 7, 2005 at the
GPO, Dublin, 2PM.

Annual Hunger Strike Rally will be held on May 7, 2005 at the
GPO, Dublin, 2PM. Assemble at the Garden of Rememberance
for march to GPO, 1:45PM. Speaker : Fergal Moore.

The Bobby Sands Memorial Lecture is planned for May 10th,
theme to be "Sinn Féin : 100 Years of Unbroken Continuity".
Speaker : Des Dalton, Vice President, Republican Sinn Féin.



Ghettos Of The Mind

Reviewed by Aisling Foster

The Human Season
By Louise Dean
£12.99; 320pp
ISBN 0 743 24001 4

The season in the title of Louise Dean’s second novel implies
the possibility of change; her characters suggest otherwise.
They prefer to see Northern Ireland as “a special case”, a
nowhere-land where, judging by its lifestyle, their chances of
being killed by unhealthy food and cigarette smoke appear
higher than anything the conflict can deliver.

Their story is set in the closing months of 1979, when after two
years of “dirty protests” by imprisoned Provos, the IRA decided
to crank up its demands by murdering prison officers and
planning hunger strikes that would eventually kill ten of their

In the Catholic ghetto of West Belfast, Kathleen, a beautiful
working-class mother of four, supports their aims. She is proud
that her eldest son has been “lifted” and interned without trial.
Like him, she has no political dream beyond a united Ireland,
although she seems never to have travelled further “south”
than Donegal. In fact, she is a bundle of contradictions:
recognising the damage the conflict is doing to her younger
children while resenting her eldest daughter’s happy escape to
London; deeply religious and joylessly promiscuous; certain
that drawing the dole when working “hits the English where it

In the Protestant suburbs, an English former Army prison
officer stands for an opposite but equally limited view. A dour
introvert who guards the republican wing in the Maze, John
lives with his good-hearted Ulster Protestant girlfriend, but
barely communicates with her. Not that he needs to say much
about working conditions in H Block. The novel’s description is
pungent enough, a stink of faeces and urine — the stuff of
protest — choking off any common humanity between
prisoners and their jailers. Yet John is not as brutish as his
colleagues. He has discovered he has a son, the result of a brief
affair 20 years ago, and invites him to visit.

Tragedy, of course, will scorch someone in the end. And if all
this sounds formulaic, it is. The two households never meet,
but as tension mounts the novel’s celebration of Catholic
ghetto solidarity would be farcical if it were not so tunnel-
visioned. Where, for instance, are the Protestant working class
— apart, that is, from a few sadistic prison officers, one of
whom is so fat he moves “from side to side like a refuse bag on
the march”? Why are ancient sectarian hatreds hardly
mentioned — or only by a British squaddie who wishes he
could “leave you lot to sort out your own quarrels”? And where
within their “close-knit” communities, are the politically aligned
criminals and racketeers whose presence keeps every
neighbour on message? Twenty five years later, this airbrushed
snapshot of family life reads like complex history rewritten into
fantasy. Dean does it fluently, often touchingly. But without the
awkwardness of real politics, hers is a world so ludicrously
skewed that a man living in his own excrement admits he will
be “sorry when it’s all over”. Many will. But the forces behind
this inverted psychology, illuminated by some remarkable
Northern Irish novelists in the last generation, remain
unexplored here.
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