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May 21, 2005

Republicans Not Behind Threats

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 05/21/05 Republicans 'Not Behind Threats'
SF 05/21/05 Belfast Attacks Planned By Unionist Paramilitaries
BB 05/21/05 Police Probe 'Sectarian' Attacks
BB 05/21/05 Pope Honours Maguire Seven Gran
TO 05/22/05 Whitehall Panic Over Army Dirty Tricks
SF 05/21/05 Concern At US Decision To Refuse Visa Waiver
TO 05/22/05 Priest Tackles 'Bigoted' Village
SH 05/22/05 Pro-Life Extremist To Hound Top MSPs
SB 05/22/05 McDowell: Heedless, Reckless And Wild
SB 05/22/05 Time Has Come To Beat Guns Into Ploughshares
SB 05/22/05 It's All Roses In Europe
SB 05/22/05 Cranberries' Firm In The Red


Republicans 'Not Behind Threats'

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has said he does not believe a new
threat against the family of Robert McCartney comes from republicans.

The murder victim's family have said they have been told by police of
a threat from republicans.

The 33-year-old was fatally stabbed outside a Belfast pub. His family
have maintained IRA members were involved.

The family said the threat seemed more sophisticated than a previous
one, which came from "criminal elements".

Mr McCartney's sister, Catherine, said on Friday the PSNI had
confirmed the latest threat was from republican sectors.

"This threat implies that republican elements are going to take action
against the McCartney family if they continue to discredit the
republican movement," she told the Press Association.

The family said they would be seeking more details about the nature of
the threat from the PSNI.

Earlier this month the family blamed republicans for a threat to burn
them out of their homes and businesses.

Police warned them of it, saying "criminal elements" were behind it.

On Saturday Mr McGuinness, Sinn Fein's chief negotiator, said he took
a poor view of anyone threatening the sisters or fiancee of Mr

"Of course if threats are being issued against the McCartneys in all
likelihood they are being issued by people who are totally opposed to
republicanism, or even people who have brought republicanism into
disrepute in the course of recent times," he said.

"I take a very dim view of anyone issuing any threats against the

"What we have to understand here is that the McCartneys have a just
cause, they are seeking truth and justice for the murder of their

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/21 17:06:27 GMT


North Belfast Attacks Planned And Co-Ordinated By Unionist

Published: 21 May, 2005

North Belfast Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry Kelly has said that last
nights attacks on the cars and homes of Catholics in the area were co-
ordinated and carried out by one of the unionist paramilitary gangs.

Mr Kelly said:

"Catholic owned cars and homes were last night attacked at a number of
locations across North Belfast. These were clearly well planned and
co-ordinated attacks and I have no doubt that they were carried out by
one of the unionist paramilitary gangs.

"These sorts of attacks at this time of the year on the eve of the
marching season follow a well worn path. It is clear that this latest
wave of unionist intimidation has been timed to try and influence
policy around forthcoming controversial parades in this area.

"We need now to hear from prominent unionist politicians in this area
who are also linked to the loyal orders repudiating these attacks and
working genuinely to ensure that this is not the start of another
anti-Catholic campaign in North Belfast over the summer months." ENDS


Police Probe 'Sectarian' Attacks

Homes and cars have been damaged in attacks in north Belfast, which
police believe were sectarian and connected.

There were incidents in a number of areas, which nationalists have
blamed on loyalists. Unionist politicians have condemned the attacks.

At 2300 BST a car in Cliftondene Crescent was destroyed by a petrol
bomb and paint thrown at three houses.

Later on Friday, at Abbeydale Park, Ballysillan, a car was damaged and
paint thrown at two houses.

Two properties at Ligoneil Road and one in Somerdale Park were
attacked with paint. A car at Hazelwood Park in Newtownabbey was
destroyed by a fire.

In the Cliftondene petrol bomb attack a taxi driver had her car badly
damaged. Her 11-year-old son narrowly escaped injury when the windows
of their house were smashed.

She did not want to give her name, but said that it had been a
terrifying experience.

"The wee fella was screaming - all the glass was around him from the
windows," she said.

"I am here nearly four years and I've good neighbours here -
Protestant and Catholic - nothing like this has ever happened before -

Condemning the attacks, DUP assembly member Nelson McCausland said
people should have the right to live in their homes without fear.

"It's clear that since a number of attacks took place in one area on
the same night, this was an orchestrated campaign and it's totally
unacceptable," he said.

"As well as hurting the families attacked, these attacks damage the
entire community and are to be deplored."

Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly said he believed the attacks
were carried out by loyalist paramilitaries.

"These were clearly well planned and co-ordinated attacks and I have
no doubt that they were carried out by one of the unionist
paramilitary gangs," he said.

"These sorts of attacks at this time of the year on the eve of the
marching season follow a well worn path.

"It is clear that this latest wave of unionist intimidation has been
timed to try and influence policy around forthcoming controversial
parades in this area."

The SDLP's Pat Convery condemned the attacks and said many
organisations and community leaders in the area had been working to
build trust.

"It is bitterly disappointing to find that there are people out there
working just as hard on an agenda of strife and bigotry," he said.

Cars damaged

"Major trouble often begins with this type of organised sectarian

"It is important that it be nipped in the bud this year, so I am
calling on the police to step up patrols and be much more visible in
areas where trouble-making gangs are known to operate."

Meanwhile, in a separate incident in Glengormley, petrol bombs were
thrown at two cars at Farmley Gardens.

One car was destroyed, while the other petrol bomb failed to ignite.

Police said three youths wearing baseball caps may have been involved
in the Glengormley attacks, which happened at 0040 BST on Saturday.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/21 16:10:00 GMT


Pope Honours Maguire Seven Gran

A great-grandmother wrongly imprisoned for nine years following two
IRA bomb attacks is to receive a papal honour.

Anne Maguire, 68, of Willesden, north London, was alleged to have
passed nitro-glycerine to the IRA in the seventies to make bombs.

The Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor will
present the Bene Merenti medal at the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in
north London.

It was bestowed on Mrs Maguire by Pope John Paul II three days before
he died.

Mrs Maguire was jailed in 1976 - two years after the Guildford and
Woolwich bombs - with five members of her family and a family friend,
including her husband Patrick, and two sons Vincent and Patrick.

Annie was bigger than the injustice she suffered, and through time
and prayer she came right in the end

Father Francis Ryan

Two of her children were left to be cared for by family and were
returned to her after she was released.

The bomb attacks were among the most high profile atrocities carried
out by the IRA.

In Guildford, a device planted at the Horse and Groom pub killed five
people - four soldiers and a civilian - and injured more than 100,
while in Woolwich two people were killed.

Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson, who
became known as the Guildford Four, were jailed the following year.

Later Gerry Conlon's father, Guiseppe, and members of the Maguire
family - the Maguire Seven - were arrested and jailed.

Mrs Maguire was sentenced to 14 years but in 1991 the Court of Appeal
overturned their convictions and last February Prime Minister Tony
Blair issued a public apology to the Maguires for the miscarriage of

Of Mrs Maguire, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: "Her work for others,
her strength as a woman and a human being, her constant faith, her
remarkable ability to forgive - these are the reasons why the Pope
wanted to single her out and hold her up as an example."

Mrs Maguire's parish priest Father Francis Ryan added: "Annie was
bigger than the injustice she suffered, and through time and prayer
she came right in the end."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/21 23:40:38 GMT


Whitehall Panic Over Army Dirty Tricks

NEWLY released documents have revealed the confused reaction in
Whitehall as officials tried to gag The Sunday Times over revelations
of army dirty tricks, writes Gareth Walsh.

The papers, released under the Freedom of Information Act, concern
reports based on information from a former army intelligence officer
who used the pseudonym Martin Ingram.

Ingram, an agent handler with the undercover Force Research Unit
(FRU), disclosed details of army collusion with loyalist
paramilitaries. The documents show that although officials tried to
discredit the articles when they were published in 1999 and 2000, they
were accurate and embarrassing.

"It's broom up the you know what day pour moi!!! This is how it was
sent to No 10 — Enjoy," wrote one civil servant in a note to the Home
and Special Forces Secretariat of the Northern Ireland Office.

The note accompanied a briefing for Tony Blair, which covered Sunday
Times allegations that special forces officers had burnt down a police
station. The arson had been a vain attempt to prevent the arrest of
Brian Nelson, a FRU agent in the loyalist UDA. Nelson was later
convicted for his part in murder and extortion plots.

The civil servant's embarrassment is understandable. The briefing
advised the Downing Street press office to challenge the newspaper to
produce its evidence — at the same time the Ministry of Defence (MoD)
was seeking an injunction to force the paper not to publish further
information "without prior authority of the Ministry of Defence".

The Special Branch, acting for the MoD, was pursuing the paper's
journalists and questioning soldiers in an attempt to catch Ingram.

When the police eventually found Ingram they were forced to drop all
charges because he could not be shown to have damaged legitimate
security interests.

When The Sunday Times reported a leak of this decision, internal memos
denied that it was true.

In August 2000, the Northern Ireland army press office wrote to the
army chief of staff in the province that a Sunday Times article by
Liam Clarke, the Northern Ireland editor, was "well sourced and well
researched" and referred to "the current and arguably clumsy attempts
by the MOD to prevent his words being published".


McGuinness - Concern At US Decision To Refuse Visa Waiver

Published: 21 May, 2005

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness and party representative
to the US Rita O‚Hare met the US Ambassador to Ireland, James Kenny
this morning to update him on the peace process. Mr. McGuinness, who
is due to travel to the US next week, said that the party is concerned
at the refusal to grant a visa waiver to party representative Rita
O'Hare for this trip.

Mr. McGuinness said:

"This morning Rita O'Hare and I met the US Ambassador James Kenny to
update him on the peace process and to discuss the need for intensive
efforts to get the process back on track.

"Sinn Féin believes that there is now a real opportunity to complete
the work of bringing about a lasting peace in Ireland. We have been in
contact with the Irish and British governments and the White House in
recent days to get the process back on track. And I am due to travel
to the US next week to meet with the US Administration, members of
Congress and Irish American organisations.

"We are concerned, however, at the refusal to grant a visa waiver to
party representative Rita O'Hare who has been travelling to the US for
almost seven years promoting the peace process, regularly meeting with
US politicians and Irish America.

"Huge concern has been expressed by our friends in the US at the
decision and many members of Congress have voiced their protest to US
Envoy Mitchell Reiss and the State Department.

"According to a report in the Irish Times the reason being used to
justify the decision is a change of venue for an already scheduled
meeting with someone who is a key player in securing peace and
democracy in Ireland. It is worth noting that since January Ms O Hare
has applied for and received two visa waivers to visit the US in March
and April.

"I welcome the State Department's statement that there has been no
change in policy with regard to Sinn Féin."ENDS


Priest Tackles 'Bigoted' Village

Liam Clarke

A CATHOLIC priest has offered to meet community and Christian leaders
in the tiny Protestant village of Newbuildings near Londonderry to
help it shake off its reputation as as a bigotry blackspot.

Newbuildings hit the headlines when an article in the Irish News, a
nationalist daily paper, asked if it was the most sectarian place in
Northern Ireland and described it as a "cold house for Catholics".

The article cited attacks on the Catholic church and the stoning of
cars and buses returning from sporting fixtures. "It would be a
positive thing if they raised a petition against the stoning of the
chapel and organised a community watch scheme for the hour on Sunday
when we are in mass," said Fr Aidan Mullan.

The priest lives outside the village to avoid trouble and has dropped
Saturday evening mass because of the stonings. "I have often been
insulted leaving the church," he said. "I know that the vast majority
of the people in Newbuildings are good people. It only takes six or
eight bitter or unhappy people to throw stones and do a couple of
thousand pounds worth of damage."

Last week, William Hay, a Democratic Unionist party assembly member
who lives in the village, led a delegation to the Irish News to demand
an apology.

Noel Doran, the editor, defended the article but offered to report any
improvements made in the village.

Hay accepts that the incidents listed in the Irish News happened but
says: "Many of them are years back and it did not reflect the
improvements in community relations. The village is not as white as
white but it is not as bad as other parts of the city." He pointed out
that no Catholics had been murdered in Newbuildings, while two
Protestant members of the security forces had been killed. There are
no paramilitary organisations active in the village, which has about
2,500 inhabitants.


Pro-Life Extremist To Hound Top MSPs

By Paul Hutcheon, Scottish Political Editor

SCOTLAND was poised for street confrontations last night after a
militant anti-abortion group vowed to name and shame pro-choice MSPs
by targeting their homes and leafleting their neighbours.

The UK Life League, led by the born-again Christian Jim Dowson, has
drawn up a hit list of Scottish politicians, topped by First Minister
Jack McConnell, whom he feels should be "outed" for their support for
the "holocaust" of legalised terminations.

He will drive a trailer, decked in pro-life posters, to the streets
where MSPs live in order to "embarrass" them in front of other

The vehicle's billboard will feature a baby in a nappy, accompanied by
the slogan: "Kill her now … it's murder. Kill her before birth – it's

Dowson will also use microphones attached to the truck to broadcast to
passersby the pro-choice views of their high-profile neighbour.

The Scottish Socialist Party have promised "non-violent direct action"
to disrupt Dowson's campaign by following the trailer around the
country, throwing sheets across "offensive" posters and drowning out
any high-octane pro-life message – tactics that could lead to trouble
erupting in the street.

The row follows leaked details of the latest "special operation" used
by an anti-abortion group that has become notorious for its aggressive
tactics, including protests outside family planning clinics and
disseminating leaflets featuring pictures of aborted foetuses.

Dowson plans to "get more personal" next month by parking a vehicle
bought from his native Northern Ireland outside the homes of the
country's most well known politicians.

"The trailer will be sent to the streets of the MSPs who support the
murder of unborn children. We are going to let their neighbours know
what they believe in. It's about time they held accountable for their
views," he told the Sunday Herald.

The First Minister, who said recently he was unpersuaded of the need
to tighten abortion laws, will be Dowson's main target, with a
campaign in the Scottish Labour leader's home in Wishaw already

Other politicians singled out by the UK Life League, formerly known as
Precious Life, include health minister Andy Kerr, Liberal Democrat
minister Nicol Stephen and SNP MSPs Nicola Sturgeon and Linda Fabiani.

Dowson, who describes himself as a "god-fearing, Presbyterian
socialist", also said he is "looking forward" to informing former SSP
leader Tommy Sheridan's neighbours of his "sick" views. The Glasgow
MSP has repeatedly clashed with the pro-life group during its
campaigns outside clinics.

The UK Life League will also target politicians it believes are not
vocal enough about their anti-abortion views, such as defence
secretary John Reid and MSP Dennis Canavan.

"I'm sick of politicians who sit on the fence on this issue, so we are
going to set fire to the fence. People are going to have to explain
their position on the butchering of 200,000 babies every year. If Reid
and Canavan are pro-life, let's hear them say it," he said.

He also plans to field anti-abortion candidates in the 2007 Scottish
parliament election, with the intention of defeating sitting Labour
MSPs who support abortion:

"We are going to fight the election in two years' time, and we will
unseat a number of them," he added.

The trailer strategy is the latest example of Dowson using hard
tactics on MSPs.

Earlier this month, the UK Life League was reported to the police by
the Labour Party after thousands of leaflets – entitled Labour Are
Destroying Britain – were mailed to homes in marginal constituencies.

Complaints were also made last year after the group posted personal
contact details of politicians – described as "child abusers" – on a

MSPs Susan Deacon and Pauline McNeill, as well as Sheridan and
Fabiani, were accused of "crimes against humanity" and of supporting
late-term abortions.

In 1999, Cardinal Thomas Winning urged Roman Catholics to distance
themselves from Precious Life after the Sunday Herald revealed that
Dowson was a supporter of Ulster loyalist terrorists.

A spokesman for the First Minister hit out at Dowson's tactics: "The
First Minister has always made it clear that if there is to be a
debate about current abortion law, then it should be done in a mature
and measured way. These actions don't seem to be mature or measured."

Tommy Sheridan said Dowson was a "sad" man whose methods should be
treated with derision.

"This former terrorist supporter will stoop to any level to gain
publicity. He doesn't deserve publicity, but utter contempt," he said.

Linda Fabiani said the UK Life League's campaign would be rejected by
most fair-minded Scots.

"There are responsible groups that campaign against abortion, but this
particular organisation goes beyond the bounds of responsibility. Most
people will find this kind of campaigning distasteful in the extreme,"
she added.

22 May 2005


McDowell: Heedless, Reckless And Wild

22 May 2005 By Vincent Browne

Guess who made the following preposterous claim about Michael
McDowell: "He has been credited with major responsibility for
Ireland's economic boom by pioneering tax reform, deregulation and
competition to end mass unemployment and emigration."

Yes, right first time. It was Michael McDowell. The claim is made on
his website ( I have never heard anybody - not
even McDowell - claim he had any responsibility for Ireland's economic

But "a major responsibility''?

The conceit is staggering, but perhaps not surprising.

What McDowell does have some responsibility for, however, is fuelling
racism - first, through that citizenship referendum and, more
recently, through his wild, reckless incendiary remarks about asylum-

Conor Lenihan is renowned for putting his foot in it. Were any normal
standards to apply to Irish public life, he would have been given the
bum's rush - at least from responsibility for helping the Third World
through overseas development aid - for his characterisation of Turkish
workers as 'kebabs'.

(Though a taoiseach who allows Martin Cullen to remain in the cabinet
could hardly dismiss another thundering idiot for an insult caused by
insensitivity, more than deliberation.)

But how could there be such outrage over Lenihan and almost nothing
about McDowell? Remember what he said? "I deal every day with files,
and if you saw the stories that I had to deal with . . .

"If the Irish people saw the stories given by most of these people as
to why they came to Ireland, how they came to Ireland, how they
thought they were in Canada when they arrived in Ireland.

"How anonymous people told them that the best place to go was Ireland,
and pastors and Irish priests got them here, cock-and-bull stories
about ritual sacrifices in the family that they have to escape because
they have been selected - the third son, the fifth son, the seventh
son in the family - for sacrifice and they had to come to Ireland.

"If the Irish people had even the remotest idea of the nonsense that
lies behind a huge amount of these bogus claims, the patience of a lot
of people would be tried very hard.

"I would much prefer to have a system where I could have an interview
at the airport, find out the cock-and-bull stories and [put them] on
the next flight, but unfortunately the UN Convention requires me to go
through due process in respect of all of these claims."

Now, I have no doubt but there are bogus and at times outlandish
applications for asylum. But the characterisation of "most''
applications as "cock-and-bull'' and, more particularly, such as would
"try the patience of the Irish people'' is an invitation to people -
especially to those disposed to regard asylum-seekers negatively - to
react in a hostile way to asylum-seekers in general.

For a minister who has a quasi-judicial role in the processing of
asylum-seekers to reveal such a prejudice generally against such
applications - and to be heedless of the effect his language might
have on attitudes towards all asylum-seekers - is outrageous.

Even worse is his acknowledgement that he wishes he did not have to
afford asylum-seekers due process, that he did not have to comply with
the Convention on Refugees.

If a judge made such remarks about a category of people whose cases he
or she was regularly considering, isn't it certain there would be
demands for his removal, if not from the bench, at least from handling
such cases?

Why should the same not apply to a minister who acts, in part, in the
role of a judge in considering applications for permission to remain
on humanitarian grounds? How could any asylum-seeker who has a genuine
case to remain here on humanitarian grounds reasonably have any
confidence that McDowell would give fair consideration to his case?

I have written before in these columns that on the basis alone of his
conduct of the citizenship referendum last year, McDowell should be
barred for ever from public life. In relation to that affair, I make
just one point (for now) about his portrayal of the significance of
the Chen case.

A Chinese woman, Mrs Chen, arrived in England to give birth. While in
London, she was advised to travel to Belfast and give birth there, as
that would entitle her child to Irish citizenship. She did so, and
thereafter claimed a right to remain in Britain (and, by extension, in
any EU country) by virtue of the fact that her child was an Irish

As such, the child was entitled to reside in any EU country - and by
association, so was she. The Advocate General of the European Court of
Justice supported her case (the Court of Justice itself later upheld
her claim).

McDowell claimed that this was a classic example of the abuse of Irish
citizenship laws, which opened the floodgates for otherwise illegal
immigrants to migrate to Ireland.

Not alone that, but it opened the floodgates throughout the European
Union, and other member states were alarmed at the emergence of this
loophole in Irish and European immigration law. I am paraphrasing his
argument, but that was the gist of it.

It was bogus.

It was utterly bogus because a caveat was added to the right of Mrs
Chen and her child to remain in the UK: they could not be a burden on
the state in Britain or any other EU member state to which they might

In other words, they had to have independent means, which Mrs Chen

The caveat meant that the case was irrelevant to the apprehension that
generally prevails about tens of thousands of indigent immigrants,
mainly from Africa, streaming in here.

No loophole of any relevance to the issues at stake in the citizenship
debate emerged as a result of the Chen case - yet McDowell wilfully
played that card incessantly in the later stages of that campaign,
with the effect of whipping up essentially racist sentiment in the
run-up to the referendum.

I am not alleging that McDowell is himself racist (I believe he is
agnostic on the issue).

I am not alleging that he deliberately whipped up racist sentiment to
win support for the citizenship campaign. I am saying he was heedless
- and remains heedless and reckless -with regard to the effect of his
actions and language.

And that is despicable.


Time Has Come To Beat Guns Into Ploughshares

22 May 2005 By Tom McGurk

After the Northern election, the wagons are once again slowly starting
to circle. As the DUP and Sinn Féin make their trips to Downing
Street, the Taoiseach spoke this week in Poland of the debate going on
within the Provisional republican movement.

Apparently, all across Ireland, various parts of the IRA are
addressing an appeal by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams that they now
"step off the stage''; that paramilitarism has to disappear.

Given that Adams made this appeal in advance of the election where
Sinn Féin received its largest-ever mandate in the North, the IRA
should be in no doubt that the number of nationalists who disagree
with his request are hardly worth counting.

Historically, Irish revolutionaries have tended to decide in advance
what the popular mandate wanted, and then wait for everyone else to
catch up.

But the IRA should be aware that, in these times, there are important
and specific circumstances that simply cannot be ignored.

Now the republican movement - particularly since the IRA ceasefire of
over a decade ago - has become an integral part of the wider Irish
democratic process.

The IRA, without much good reason, has been hanging on to the
movement's coat-tails.

On ceasefire, and still maintaining its weapons, it has actually
become a political deadweight for its political partner, Sinn Féin.

The shadow of the IRA has hung over the political process since the
1998GoodFridayAgreement, and has worked to the detriment of Sinn
Féin's avowed determination to implement that agreement.

Critically, its continuing presence has created political hiding-space
for "rejectionist'' unionism to stymie the evolving political agenda.

It's probably a better question for historians, but, had the IRA taken
radical and unilateral action back in 1998 when a unique political
window opened with the Agreement, none of us would be - politically -
where we are now.

But better late than never and, despite the fact that unionists have
flocked to Paisleyism, the IRA can now, with an act of finality,
reopen the political agenda.

Today's IRA should not ignore the historical lesson in all of this.

As regular readers of this column will know, I have consistently
argued the political parallels between post-1998 Ireland and post-
Civil-War Ireland.

Like Eamon de Valera then, Gerry Adams is attempting to bring a
generation of the republican movement from paramilitarism to politics.
As with Fianna Fáil then, so with Sinn Féin now - it's been a complex
and difficult task.

It is perhaps only from the perspective of history that the total
picture can be seen.

Few could argue now with the contention that the part of the IRA that
in 1926 refused to go along with Fianna Fáil - and consistently for
the next generation tried to re-fight the civil war - ended up by the
time of World War II politically circumscribed and impotent.

The 26-county state had moved on, and the IRA found itself then the
keeper of a conscience that few in Ireland believed was worth dying

In fact, it wasn't until the 1950s that the IRA began to focus
primarily on partition and moved on from the argument about the civil
war settlement.

A generation of republicans misunderstood the public mood then, and
passed through prisons and into graveyards still not comprehending
that the 26-county settlement was inviolable.

In the Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement, the IRA should not
make the same mistake.

The central and undeniable truth about the Good Friday Agreement is
that it was an all-Ireland determination to resolve the historic
problem by solely political means.

It cannot be denied, of course, that the activities of the IRA were a
major element in the making of that agreement.

The achievement of a subsequent British/Irish political consensus on a
Northern Ireland proportionally governed by all communities and devoid
of majoritarianism within a new context of all-Ireland institutions is
an epochal achievement.

That agreement has created a political context where Sinn Féin can
grow, and is growing, in political strength, both north and south.

Central to the historic concerns of the republican movement has been
the concept of Irish self-determination - the means through which all
the people of Ireland determine their nation.

From 1970 onwards, the Provisional IRA fought a guerrilla war because
they believed that Britain, with the imposition of partition, stymied
that determination.

Both the Downing Street Declaration and the Good Friday Agreement have
reframed the concept of self-determination within the new context of
the peace process.

For unionists, the constitutional issue was separated and parked away
in some harmless historical cul-de-sac, awaiting the inevitable
demographic removal van.

In terms of realpolitik, almost half of the ministers in any power-
sharing devolution would be from the nationalist community. Northern
nationalists would effectively enjoy political power in excess even of
what they might enjoy under any all-Ireland settlement.

Predictably, such was the sense of achievement among nationalists
that, within a decade, Sinn Féin had become the major nationalist
party in the North.

Those in the IRA currently considering Gerry Adams's pre-election
appeal would do well to consider the Northern political context of
1970, when the current IRA campaign began, and the context today in

Who could deny that the political reality of the North has been
utterly transformed? Who could look at the younger generation of
Northern nationalists - now enjoying unprecedented economic,
educational and political power - and not recognise the

If the end point of all political endeavour is about social
transformation and civic society, who could argue that the peace
process is not in itself an extraordinary catalyst for change?

Who could argue that the results of the republican movement's
political strategy over this last decade have not, at long last,
lifted the long shadow of the gunman?

Truly, it is now time that the guns were finally broken down for


It's All Roses In Europe

22 May 2005 By Alison O'Connor

Like motherhood and apple pie, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot
Ahern insists that the proposed EU constitution offers nothing but
positives for the Irish people.

Many of the voters were already aware of all the pluses, said Ahern in
an interview with The Sunday Business Post.

But for those who need persuading, the government's upcoming
referendum campaign on the EU constitutional treaty will attempt to
rekindle our national pride at the fact that the Taoiseach was the one
who pulled the whole troubled project back from the brink during our
EU presidency.

Ahern believes that the French will pass their referendum next Sunday,
despite a campaign that mostly saw the No side scoring highest in
opinion polls. But he insists that our referendum plans will not be
affected in any way by the French outcome.

Legislation will be published over the next few weeks and should be
passed before the summer.

Ahern would not be drawn on an exact date for the referendum, but it
is widely expected to take place in November. While optimistic about
the French result, he acknowledges that a rejection of the proposed
constitution by one of the founding members of the Union would be

"The situation in France is worrying, obviously," he said.
"Personally, though, I think the French will say yes. I just have this
gut feeling. I have a bit of connection with France and, just talking
to some of the politicians, who were despondent, they are in a better
mood now."

As always in a referendum, he said, the result depended on the mood of
the people on a particular day - as we know ourselves after Nice 1.

The French outcome will have absolutely no bearing on the timing of
the Irish poll, he said. "There is a very significant campaign being
waged in France by the government and the 'pro' people. Given that
France is such a sophisticated society, a very assured society, in
away that perhaps others aren't, they know the benefit of being to the
forefront on this, given their history," said the minister.

That calls for questions as to how sophisticated the Irish are and
what their attitude is to the upcoming referendum.

"Irish public opinion is very positive towards the European project.
What we are gathering is that the Irish people are very positive about
the proposal that is the constitution.

"People also take some pride in the fact that Ireland was the nation
that oversaw this."

Added to that was the sense of pride about hosting the ten new
accession states in Dublin last May.

He admitted, though, that the positivity he was feeling came from
people who were already clued up on the constitution, unlike the
majority of Irish voters.

"People are not as exercised as they should be, because we haven't
decided yet when the referendum is to be. But once we publish the
referendum bill, which we will do very quickly, that will change,"
said Ahern. "I haven't heard any negativity, apart from Sinn Féin.
People are entitled to their opinion. In this constitution, it is all
good and no bad for Ireland."

Sinn Féin has already launched its campaign to urge a No vote. It
describing the constitution as "the biggest step so far in the
creation of a superstate'', and a step that undermines neutrality and
seeks to transform the EU into a superpower with its own foreign
minister, army and armaments agency.

Ahern cannot see a situation where the constitution would be
renegotiated if one country rejected the treaty, but said it had been
agreed that if, after two years, "a number of countries have
difficulty'', an intergovernmental council would be held to discuss
the situation.

The minister said he was expecting the same "hoary old arguments'' to
be trotted out as in previous referendums.

"We will see the same hoary old shibboleths pushed out every time we
had a referendum that never came to pass. We heard all these stories
about our troops going to war and it never happened. It won't happen
until the Irish people decide themselves," said Ahern.

The EU constitutional treaty is an amalgamation of a lot of existing
treaties that the people have already voted upon, with some additional
measures designed to make the enlarged EU more effective in its
dealings, he said.

"The EU has been in place for decades, yet it hasn't had a sort of
basic document as to how it is going to be run. If a branch of the
ICA, or some branch of a football club, set up, the first thing they
do at a first meeting is draft a constitution. The EU are doing it a
bit belatedly. That's what we are doing.

"No more. So there is no real downside," he said.

According to reports in recent weeks, the government has decided not
to proceed with what was potentially the most contentious part of its
proposed amendment - a clause allowing it to sign up for the
'simplified revision' of the EU Treaty.

This would have allowed the government to agree to a wide range of EU
policies without a referendum.

Ahern insists that the "spin'' put on this issue was "very
erroneous'', although he will not be drawn on what might have changed
in the various draftings of the wording for the referendum.

"What we will be doing is ensuring that, at every twist and turn,
where it is necessary, the Irish people will be consulted in relation
to referendums," he said.

In the second Nice referendum, he said, the Seville Declaration was
included in relation to common defence.

"We insisted that [common defence] would not take place unless and
until the Irish people decided.

"Right through the EU constitution, there are no new requirements in
this regard," he said. "The spin that was put on that was very
erroneous and disingenuous, in that it was suggesting that the
government was in some way trying to do something without going to the
people. There is nothing in what is being proposed that will take away
the sovereignty of the Irish people."


Cranberries' Firm In The Red

22 May 2005 By Ian Kehoe

The company behind Limerick rock band the Cranberries made a loss of
almost €700,000 in 2003, ending the year with retained losses of
almost €1.3 million.

Curtain Call, the company that is owned by singer Dolores O'Riordan
and the three other members of the band, saw the value of its tangible
assets fall from €119,000 in 2002 to just €28,000 in 2003, according
to accounts just filed.

The band have sold more than 30 million albums, but have not released
a record for several years. Their most successful album, No Need to
Argue, sold more than 16.7 million copies.

A note in the accounts states that the band decided to "take a break
from recording, touring and related activities to facilitate
individual band members to pursue solo projects'' during 2003. As
such, the accounts note that "the company's activities are
considerably less than in the past''.

However, the accounts note that the shareholders "have confirmed that
they will continue to provide the company with the financial support
necessary for it to meet its obligations''.

The accounts show that the company paid Artwest, a related company,
€75,000 during 2003 in management fees, while O'Riordan received
€21,000 in studio rental costs.

The firm's bank loan and overdraft figure increased from €156,000 to
€867,000 during the year.

The accounts show that Curtain Call owes a subsidiary company, All
Round Touring, more than €118,000 at the end of 2003.

The directors' remuneration fell from €818,000 to just €45,000 during
the year.

The four shareholders in the firm are O'Riordan and bandmates Fergal
Lawlor, Noel Hogan and Mike Hogan.

Last month, O'Riordan gave birth to her third child, Dakota Rain
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