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July 29, 2005

DeChastelain On Standby

News about Ireland & the Irish

EX 07/29/05 De Chastelain On Standby For Arms Destruction
IT 07/30/05 Adams Urges Paisley To Meet SF For Talks
EX 07/30/05 SDLP Urges Resumption Of Devolution Talks
UT 07/30/05 IMC Statement On IRA Move
IT 07/30/05 Policing: 'It Is What We Fought A War Against'
IT 07/30/05 Britain To Continue 'Normalisation' Process
IT 07/30/05 'It'll Be A Nice Wee Town Without Soldiers'
IT 07/30/05 Order Banning IRA May Be Lifted In Time
IT 07/30/05 Employment Barrier For Former Volunteers
US 07/30/05 US Praises Historic Disarmament Pledge
BB 07/29/05 'Deal Of All Deals' Could Follow IRA Move
NY 07/29/05 IRA Pledge Seen As Model For Other Conflicts
BB 07/29/05 Loyalism Is Urged To 'Step Back'
EX 07/29/05 Peace Process -
Unionists Can't Keep Stalling
EX 07/29/05 Anger As Demolition Begins At Armagh Watchtower
TE 07/29/05 Opin: Provos - Their War Is Not Over
IT 07/30/05 SF Now Free To Go Places South Of Border
MS 07/29/05 IRA Vow Lends Hope, But Violence Hard To Forget
IT 07/30/05 Durkan Warns Of Privatising Criminality
IT 07/30/05 Equality Appeal Against Golf Club
IO 07/30/05 Gay Community Welcomes McDowell's Promise
SF 07/29/05 H-Block Memories: By Arthur Morgan TD


De Chastelain On Standby For IRA Arms Destruction

By Paul O'Brien

AN early act of decommissioning by the IRA, possibly this
weekend, could pave the way for talks aimed at restoring
devolution in the North beginning as early as September.

The International Independent Commission on
Decommissioning, chaired by Canadian general John de
Chastelain, is on standby to oversee any new step the IRA
takes towards the destruction of its arsenal, following the
organisation's statement that its armed campaign was over.

General de Chastelain will oversee the decommissioning
process together with two clergymen one Protestant, one

Irish Government sources could not say with certainty last
night when the first act of decommissioning might take
place, but believed it could be "within the next couple of

Both governments want a rapid completion to the
decommissioning process, and if they deem sufficient
progress has been made by September, Northern Secretary
Peter Hain will launch new talks aimed at restoring the
power-sharing institutions.

But given that the £26.5 million Northern Bank raid and the
killing of Robert McCartney have fuelled unionist
scepticism about the IRA keeping its word, Mr Hain warned
the Provisionals yesterday that their every move would be

"It's up to the IRA to deliver and they will be watched and
we will be scrutinising everything," Mr Hain said. "By
actively shutting down, I don't just mean bullets and
bombs, I mean punishment beatings, criminality, targeting
and the robbing of banks."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan similarly warned that the IRA
should not be allowed to "privatise" criminality in the
wake of its pledge to abandon its arms.

"It's ... important that we don't have a notion that people
are licensed to do what they want as long as it is on a
personal basis, not on a corporate basis," he said.

However, the IRA received the first payback for its
statement when, to the fury of unionists, the British Army
confirmed it is closing a base at Forkhill in south Armagh.
A watchtower at Sugerloaf Hill, Camlough, and the lookout
post at Newtownhamilton police station will also be

The DUP was incensed by the security scaledown, with party
MLA Arlene Foster saying: "It's criminally irresponsible of
the [British] government to do that, given what has gone on
in those Border areas."

But Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams called on the DUP to
respond positively to developments, urging Ian Paisley to
enter face-to-face talks in a bid to restore devolution. He
also appealed to loyalists to follow the IRA's lead and
commit to dumping its arms.

US President George W Bush spoke with both Mr Adams and Mr
Paisley by telephone yesterday, indicating to the former
that the IRA's words had to be followed by actions.

Former US President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, said the IRA
decision was "potentially the biggest thing to happen in
the peace process since the Good Friday Agreement".

The International Monitoring Commission, which monitors
paramilitary activity, also said the IRA statement was
"potentially" very significant. It said it would "monitor
the consequences" of the statement for reports it is due to
deliver to the governments in October and January.


Adams Urges Paisley To Meet SF For Talks

Dan Keenan Northern News Editor

Sinn Féin: Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has called on
DUP leader Rev Ian Paisley to meet his party for talks
following Thursday's IRA statement which ended its campaign
of violence.

As the British army began to dismantle its presence along
the south Armagh border, Mr Adams told a press conference
at his party's Falls Road headquarters that it was time for
the DUP and republicans to talk.

"They need decisive leadership and that's for Ian Paisley
and his colleagues to come to terms with," he said. "But I
believe it's now time for dialogue between us.

"It's a matter of whether the DUP has the confidence to
enter into that dialogue - I think it's a matter of when,
not if [ that happens]." The DUP's Peter Robinson said
unionists needed to be sure IRA activity had ended.

Mr Adams claimed the IRA statement represented a "landmark
decision which will shape politics on this island for the
time ahead". On the support for the IRA announcement from
Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, Mr Adams said: "I welcome
yesterday's public commitments by the governments to
deliver on their obligations and responsibilities under the
Good Friday agreement. Of course, people will judge this on
how the two governments deliver."

He said Sinn Féin wanted full delivery of all aspects of
the agreement, including equality, human rights, and
policing. "I welcome the efforts to bring demilitarisation
to completion. We want to see this proceeding as quickly as
possible." The Irish Times understands that the British
government could announce its next demilitarisation steps
in a statement next week, perhaps as early as Monday.

Turning to unionist criticism of the IRA statement for not
containing an apology for the suffering brought about by
its campaign, Mr Adams said: "The IRA has already said it
is sorry for civilian fatalities and to bereaved families.
I share that sorrow." There were "brave people on all
sides". He said no human being with any compassion could
not regret all deaths linked to the Troubles. However,
"combatants" knew they were taking their chances and this
included members of the RUC and British army as much as IRA

Asked if comments made by Fr Alex Reid that the brutal
killings of the two British corporals during a west Belfast
funeral could have been avoided, Mr Adams said he "just
didn't know".

In Dublin the SDLP leader Mark Durkan said Sinn Féin should
back the police as soon as possible. He also warned that
the IRA could not continue in a criminal capacity. "You
cannot be neutral between crime and law," he said.

"You cannot say you are not in favour of crime but also not
in favour of the law. Sinn Féin have got to join us in
taking a positive stand on policing. This cannot be allowed
to wait."

On IRA criminality, Mr Durkan warned: "We have seen a
private army for a political purpose in the IRA. We will be
alert to ensure that there is no privatised army for a
criminal purpose."

© The Irish Times


SDLP Urges Speedy Resumption Of Devolution Talks

By Paul O'Brien and Senan Hogan

THE SDLP has called for a speedy resumption of talks on
implementing the Good Friday Agreement and restoring

The Irish and British governments have said Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC) reports due in October and
January will help them decide if the IRA is honouring its
promise to abandon paramilitary and criminal activity.

The belief is that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will
not consider talks with Sinn Féin until both reports are

SDLP leader Mark Durkan, speaking after a meeting with
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday, urged all sides not to
wait that long.

"I think it's important that neither parties nor
governments decide there's nothing we can do until the New
Year, [that] we just mark time, because other difficulties
will arise if they do that," he said.

"There is work that we can all do now."

This included making progress on policing, planning an
"even more positive and active North-South agenda" and
preparing for the restoration of the institutions. The SDLP
would continue working towards those goals, he said.

"We don't see ourselves standing back, waiting to see
what's in the IMC's report in January, and then waiting to
see whether or not the DUP and Sinn Féin are talking."

However, Mr Durkan, flanked at the press briefing in
Government Buildings by colleagues Alasdair McDonnell,
Eddie McGrady, Sean Farren, Alex Attwood and Carmel Hanna,
refused to speculate on when the institutions would resume.

"Prophecy is the most gratuitous form of error, we are
told, and the problem in this process is that the 'going
rate' has become 'going slow'. And I know that there is an
attitude in the DUP that says, 'Well, David Trimble and the
UUP were allowed to create a lot of delays in this process
and nobody shifted them on too much. Sinn Féin and the IRA
have both been allowed to drag their feet at different
stages of this process, so who's going to rush us now?'

"I just hope the DUP don't think that they can take as par
for the course now all the delays that were tolerated and
allowed by the two governments in the past."

Mr Durkan said Sinn Féin would have to address any
perceived ambiguities in the IRA statement to ensure the
DUP did not have an excuse to stall the process.

"In case people have any doubts that there is some implicit
conditionality, I would hope that the IRA and the Sinn Féin
leadership could remove any such doubts on anybody's part,
because to even talk up such doubts just becomes an excuse
for the DUP and others to stall it," he said.


IMC Statement On IRA Move

The IMC today said that the IRA statement was potentially
very significant.

Their statement said :

"We have read the statement issued by the Provisional IRA
on 28 July 2005.

"It is potentially a very significant statement to the
extent that it results in the Provisional IRA ending all
forms of illegal activity.

"We note the instructions to all Provisional IRA members
and the role played by the leadership of Sinn Féin in the
achievement of the statement.

"It is the task of the IMC to monitor illegal activity by
all paramilitary groups, and we will monitor the
consequences of this statement as part of that role. In
doing so we will have in mind the considerations about
stopping such activity we listed in our Fifth Report
published in May, namely whether a group has stopped using
violence in any form, committing other crimes, recruiting
or training members, gathering intelligence, targeting
people, procuring material, and exiling or intimidating

"We are currently scheduled to deliver one of our regular
six monthly reports to the British and Irish Governments
this coming October, which for the most part will cover the
period to the end of August. Following the Provisional IRA
statement the British and Irish Governments have asked us
for a further report in January 2006, which we will deliver
to them."


'It Is What We Fought A War Against'

Policing: Policing will be the biggest leap for
republicans, writes Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

"It would be a massive step. It's even bigger than going
into Stormont. Policing is what it's all about - it's what
we fought a war against."

So says a former high-ranking IRA member of the greatest
single outstanding issue in the peace process.

No matter what source is contacted, whether in Sinn Féin or
in republican communities or in the ranks of the IRA, the
policing issue will not be sorted out quickly.

Time is needed, they say, for practical measures to take
effect and also for thousands in west Belfast and along the
Border to get used to the idea of acceptance of the police
service after decades of conflict.

It will take legislative changes but also a quantum leap in
the republican mindset.

"If you go from Beechmount [ in west Belfast], to Short
Strand to the Border people still call the police the RUC.
It's the same faces, the same sneers from the same people.
The same people still turning a blind eye to car thieves,
still trying to recruit informers."

The arrival of Hugh Orde, new uniforms, new monitoring
procedures and the appointment of Nuala O'Loan as policing
ombudsman doesn't cut much ice with communities who still
complain that the force ignores their policing needs.

"Considerably more reforms are still needed," says one.

But what are they? - a question which is echoed by the
SDLP, Denis Bradley of the Policing Board and the plethora
of bodies which oversee the PSNI.

Sinn Féin insist that plastic bullets have to be withdrawn
immediately. Modified and supposedly less-lethal bullets
were used for the first time since Orde took over the PSNI
during ugly rioting in Ardoyne on the night of July 12th.

Before this the chief constable prided himself on his clean
sheet, although he has always insisted that riot control
methods, including plastic bullets, were always needed.

Republicans also insist that local control over policing
has to be restored. Strangely, this is not a problem for
the DUP - despite the fact that it was over this one issue
that the old Stormont was prorogued. What does bother the
likes of Peter Robinson is the possibility that a former
IRA member, possible Gerry Kelly, could become Northern
Ireland justice minister.

Mr Robinson believes he could sell the idea of devolved
policing to sceptical unionists but not the idea of Mr
Kelly or his like holding the portfolio.

Despite the reform of Special Branch and its incorporation
into a combined crime division of the PSNI, republicans
remain particularly sensitive about questions relating to
intelligence gathering.

"We need local democratic control over that," the IRA
leader says. "Control should rest with local politicians
not the chief constable and definitely not MI5 [ the
British army's intelligence operation]. You can't leave
this up to spies, spooks and MI5. They are unionists and
they hate us. At the heart of this is the [ special] branch
- counterinsurgency stuff needs to done away with. We need
local control." Some credit is given to efforts made by the
PSNI to even out the imbalance of the service's religious

Yet there is a sting in the tail. While some applaud the
50:50 recruitment practice which aims to sign up equal
numbers of Catholics and "Others" to the PSNI, they say it
will still take "10, 20, 30 years before there is a serious
impact on the imbalance".

"The people who ran the RUC also run the PSNI. The fact
remains that after any conflict you need a new force. You
change the five-eighths on the ground as well as the
leadership. We need more than Hugh Orde, we need
nationalists and republicans in the highest ranks not just
Orde and that is a nightmare for unionists."

Another principle problem appears to be that when it comes
to policing, republicans and others appear to be talking
past each other. The PSNI is currently the most monitored
by outside agencies of any force in the democratic world.
According to Al Hutchinson, the Police Oversight
Commissioner and former Canadian police chief, the Patten
recommendations are a blueprint for any police service
anywhere. Yet some nationalist and republican opinion
ignores this, just as they ignore the calls by Policing
Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley for them to "live up to
their responsibilities".

The same people say they can easily live what Michael
McDowell and Mark Durkan insist in an absurd contradiction
which sees Sinn Féin involved in a Stormont Executive and
making laws for Northern Ireland, but withholding support
for the police service which enforces those laws.

"I, and others like me can live that contradiction," says
the IRA man. "I don't care about McDowell and Durkan - when
there has been real change then we will join."

Mr Bradley suggests otherwise. "These are all political
concerns," he says. "What I hear from many republicans is
the same old emotional hurt and damage from decades ago.

"The fact is that things are changing with regard to
policing and changing rapidly. People's attitudes are
shifting regarding the PSNI." He believes republicans will
take the political decision to back policing when it suits

© The Irish Times


Britain To Continue 'Normalisation' Process

Dan Keenan and Liam Reid

The British government is to push ahead with further
"normalisation" of its military presence in Northern
Ireland, with additional measures expected in a statement
next week, possibly Monday.

Dismantling of the controversial army watchtowers along the
Border in south Armagh began yesterday following Thursday's
IRA statement, amid vociferous criticism from unionists.

President Bush had phone calls with both the Sinn Féin and
DUP leaders yesterday. White House spokesman Scott
McClellan said Mr Bush encouraged Gerry Adams to show
leadership. The US president also called on Dr Ian Paisley
to give the IRA an opportunity to live up to what it said
it would do.

Plans to cut troop numbers and military installations to
pre-Troubles levels will be pushed ahead as outstanding
measures contained in five annexes to the Hillsborough
Declaration agreed by the Irish and British governments in
March 2003. Northern Secretary Peter Hain said: "We will be
taking forward a process of political negotiation,
engagement and normalisation of policing and withdrawal of
military support."

In Dublin, the Government said it hoped that Thursday's IRA
statement marked the beginning of a "transformation"
process whereby the current order outlawing the Provisional
IRA could eventually be lifted.

In a statement to The Irish Times yesterday, a Government
spokeswoman stressed, however, that Thursday's statement
was not sufficient to justify lifting the prohibition order
at the moment.

Government sources also indicated that its lifting was "a
long way off".

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern met the SDLP at Government Buildings
to discuss the next moves in the peace process. Afterwards
party leader Mark Durkan said any statement on
normalisation measures should also be examined by the
Independent Monitoring Commission to ensure that aims and
timetables are maintained.

The commission is to produce three reports on paramilitary
activity by Easter 2006. Dublin and London hope that
reports citing no IRA activity will prompt unionist
confidence to engage with Sinn Féin.

However, the DUP might insist on up to five clean bills of
health from the commission. This could push back any date
for the restoration of Stormont by some months.

Mr Adams yesterday said if the DUP employed delaying
tactics then the two governments should push ahead with the
Belfast Agreement.

© The Irish Times


'It'll Be A Nice Wee Town Without Soldiers'

Paul Cullen watched the decommissioning of cameras at a
south Armagh fort

They topple statues to mark change in other parts of the
world, but in south Armagh the cameras were the first to

Slender, sinister devices of great sophistication, the
British army's all-seeing eyes, were removed from three of
their outposts in "Bandit Country" yesterday.

Arc-welders in military fatigues set to dismantle the
cameras in the full gaze of television cameras; yet another
round of choreography as the show known as the peace
process started a new run.

Yet there was no denying a symbolism that saw the first
fruits of this week's IRA statement go to its stronghold in
south Armagh.

The ugly excrescences of block and corrugated tin still
dominate the landscape in Forkhill, Newtownbutler and
Camlough, but today the surveillance forts stand mute,
robbed of their powers. No more night vision, no more David
Attenborough-type long lenses. It can only be a matter of
time before the walls come tumbling down.

It was grim and damp in south Armagh, the kind of day
British soldiers used to dread. The kind favoured by
snipers and other paramilitaries, with hilltops shrouded in
fog and summer's growth providing maximum cover.

It was on a day like this in 1979 that the IRA claimed its
first victim in a mortar attack, as 45 lbs of explosives
landed on

Pte Peter Woolmore while he was having a pee inside the
base at Newtownhamilton. Even as late as 1997, the IRA was
still attacking the base.

They were shooting again at Newtownhamilton yesterday, but
this time it was only cameras. As helicopters came and
went, soldiers, machine-guns in their hands, reflexively
sheltered behind walls and gates for added security. But
this wasn't Basra, not even Belfast in the 1970s, and the
weapon in the hands of the elderly passerby was no more
than a walking cane.

Those seeking succour in Tom's Bar, sandwiched between the
base and a helipad, welcomed the army's imminent departure.
"About time too," said Patrick, a pensioner nursing a dram
of whiskey. "It'll be a nice wee town without the

"They've destroyed business here," said bar owner Tom
McVerry, as another helicopter droned overhead. "This is a
ghost town. We've been forgotten about." While other locals
complained about constant patrolling by army units, Mr
McVerry looked enviously at the other side of the Border.

"Castleblayney has tidied up terrific. Everywhere else has
hanging baskets and flowerpots but you can't even get a cup
of tea here." Down the road in Forkhill, the base looked
unkempt and unoccupied.

No one responded to the bell's ring and local residents
remarked on the absence of the usual helicopter activity.
Eventually, however, a lone soldier appeared at a window on
the sanger (observation tower). The police were gone, he
said, and the cameras had been taken away in the morning.
Oh, and he, too, would be gone soon.

© The Irish Times


Order Banning IRA May Be Lifted In Time

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

Offences against the State: The Government has said it
hopes Thursday's IRA statement marked the beginning of a
"transformation" process where the Government could be able
to lift the current order outlawing the Provisional IRA.

In a statement to The Irish Times yesterday, a Government
spokeswoman stressed, however, that Thursday's statement
was not sufficient to justify lifting the current
prohibition order.

Her statement also outlined the Government's position that
the IRA's formal existence or non-existence was "no longer
the critical issue" once it had ceased activities outlawed
in anti-terrorist legislation. A person faces a jail
sentence of two years for membership of an illegal
organisation under the 1939 Offences Against the State Act.

"The key issue has been to get the IRA to stop its armed
campaign," the statement outlined. "Once it is not engaged
in illegal activity (as referred to in section 18 of the
Offences Against the State Act, 1939), its formal existence
or non-existence is no longer the critical issue."

Section 18 of the legislation details a series of
activities that make an organisation illegal. This includes
using force or violence to obtain a change to the
Constitution or engaging in the "attainment of any
particular object, lawful or unlawful, by violent,
criminal, or other unlawful means".

Under section 19 of the legislation, the Government has the
power to outlaw specific organisations it believes to be in
breach of the Act under a prohibition order.

According to the Government spokeswoman, the IRA "as at
present constituted remains an illegal organisation".

"It is subject to a suppression order under the Offences
Against the State Act, 1939. The assets of the IRA are held
illegally by that organisation and are thus forfeited to
the State." She said the law "has not changed".

"The Government and the forces of law and order will
continue to uphold that law."

However, the statement said legislation was not needed to
lift the specific prohibition order on the IRA. "It is for
the Government to decide whether an illegal organisation
has been fundamentally transformed to such an extent that
it ceases to be in breach of the Constitution and section
18 of the Offences Against the State Act," the statement

"While we hope that yesterday is the beginning of a
fundamental transformation of that organisation, a
statement of intent is not sufficient to justify the
Government treating an organisation as no longer being
unconstitutional or illegal."

The spokeswoman said if the IRA ceased activities
prohibited under the Act, the Government could move to have
the prohibition order lifted.

According to security sources, the State is not expected to
take future prosecutions against suspect Provisionals for
membership, if the organisation adheres to its statement.
However, Government sources indicated last night that the
lifting of the prohibition order was still "a long way

© The Irish Times


Getting Employment Is Potential Barrier For Former

Carl O'Brien in Belfast

Activists' reaction: As he made his way around the homes
of IRA members yesterday, Fr Aidan Troy sensed a feeling of
bereavement as combatants prepared to formally turn their
back on a way of life they have known for decades.

"There was one lady who took out cards she got in
Portlaoise prison when her daughter was born, signed by all
the prisoners, and put them on the table. She was also
showing me memorial cards of people who were killed down
the years," says the parish priest of Holy Cross.

"Now, this is a woman totally committed to peace, but there
was a feeling that this was the end of an era. It was
almost like walking into a house after a death."

While the armed struggle effectively ended several years
ago, the formal direction to lay down arms this week means
many IRA members face the difficult challenge of
reintegrating into normal life.

Lawrence McKeown (48), a republican prisoner who served 16
years in Long Kesh and spent 70 days on the 1981 hunger
strike, says many face a difficult period of adjustment.

"There are a lot of barriers out there, especially for ex-
prisoners. Trying to get employment or getting a licence to
drive a taxi can be very difficult because of their
records, even though they were political prisoners," says

He is now a research co-ordinator with Coiste, a republican
umbrella group of former IRA prisoners.

While the IRA statement has clearly directed "volunteers"
to lay down their arms, some observers have questioned
whether other can turn their backs on criminality.

McKeown is confident the vast majority of "volunteers" will
strictly heed the words of P O'Neill.

"Not everyone is squeaky clean. I'm sure there might be a
few people who will end up in criminal activity. But when I
was in prison, I can't think of anyone who ended up there
for non- political activity and I've no reason to believe
that that will change in the future."

Jim McVeigh (41), who spent 16 years in prison and was the
last IRA officer commander in the H-Block, describes
himself as an "active republican". He is also confident
members will follow the directions of the statement which
he says is genuinely historic.

"The establishment in the South mightn't like me saying it,
but was there an upsurge in criminal activity after 1921,
or in the 1930s or 1940s?

"We are moral, disciplined individuals. Some might do
something wrong, but the vast majority of republicans will
remain disciplined and get stuck into the political

Fr Troy, however, sounds a more cautious note. "Here on the
12th, there was a major Sinn Féin presence but, when they
left, there were glass bombs being thrown. It happened very
suddenly," he says.

"The big challenge is bringing in those people, who still
might feel inclined to do something, into the middle

© The Irish Times


U.S. Praises Ira's "Potentially Historic" Disarmament

Calls on Irish group to follow up pledge with action

The United States has called the pledge of the Irish
Republican Army (IRA) to end its armed campaign and resume
disarmament an "important and potentially historic" move
toward peace in the region.

The IRA pledge, released July 28, states that "All IRA
units have been ordered to dump arms. All volunteers have
been instructed to assist the development of purely
political and democratic programs through exclusively
peaceful means."

Speaking the same day, White House spokesman Scott
McClellan said the IRA's statement must be followed by
actions that will demonstrate its commitment to the rule of
law and to giving up all paramilitary and criminal

"We understand that many, especially victims and their
families, will be skeptical," McClellan said. "They will
want to be certain that this terrorism and criminality are
indeed things of the past."

McClellan said the United States "remains steadfast in its
support for the peace process" and will continue to work
closely with the British and Irish governments.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also commended the IRA's
statement, welcoming "the recognition that the only route
to political change lies in exclusively peaceful and
democratic means. This is a step of unparalleled magnitude
in the recent history of Northern Ireland."

Formed in 1969 as the clandestine, armed wing of the
political movement Sinn Fein, the IRA is devoted both to
removing British forces from Northern Ireland and to the
integration of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is a
part of the United Kingdom. This group has historically
resorted to violence to further its message and is
responsible for several terrorist incidents and bombing
attacks in the United Kingdom since the 1970s.

Following is McClellan's statement:

Office of the Press Secretary
July 28, 2005
Statement by the Press Secretary


We welcome today's IRA statement pledging "an end to the
armed campaign." This is an important and potentially
historic statement.

Consistent with the IRA's commitment to "the development of
purely political and democratic programs through
exclusively peaceful means" and to "not engage in any other
activities whatsoever," we understand that the IRA and its
members will no longer have any contact with any foreign
paramilitary and terrorist organizations.

This IRA statement must now be followed by actions
demonstrating the republican movement's unequivocal
commitment to the rule of law and to the renunciation of
all paramilitary and criminal activities. We understand
that many, especially victims and their families, will be
skeptical. They will want to be certain that this
terrorism and criminality are indeed things of the past.
The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
and the Independent Monitoring Commission will play an
important role in assisting the governments to verify that
the commitments outlined in today's statement are fully
implemented and sustained on the ground.

President Bush salutes Prime Minister Blair and the Irish
Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, for their leadership on this
issue. The United States remains steadfast in its support
for the peace process and continues to work closely with
the British and Irish Governments to achieve lasting peace
and reconciliation for the people of Northern Ireland under
the principles of the Good Friday Agreement.


'Deal Of All Deals' Could Follow IRA Move

By Brian Rowan

BBC Northern Ireland security editor

It has taken 10 long years and more for the IRA to offer up
this latest statement in which it signals that it is
leaving violence behind and taking the entirely political

Two ceasefires, three acts of decommissioning and many
broken down deals later, the IRA has ordered that all arms
are dumped and that volunteers must not engage "in any
other activities whatsoever".

This is the organisation's response to a speech by Sinn
Fein President Gerry Adams in April.

In that he asked this question of the IRA: "Can you take
courageous initiatives which will achieve your aims by
purely political and democratic activity?"

The answer has now been given, penned by 'P O'Neill', and
made public after weeks of debate inside the IRA

But the journey to this point began many years ago.

Step one in a long process of change was the "complete
cessation of military operations" declared in August 1994.

But that ceasefire crumbled when an IRA bomb devastated
part of the British capital in February 1996.

The London Docklands explosion came after a long stand-off
involving the then Conservative government and the
republican leadership.

By July 1997 - the date of the second ceasefire - Tony
Blair was in Downing Street and the political process in
Northern Ireland was now moving towards the type of
inclusive talks that republicans had expected three years

The ceasefire had not led to the type of inclusive peace
talks that the IRA had been anticipating, but instead there
had been a protracted argument over the issue of the
organisation's guns.

As far as the government was concerned, political progress
depended on there being decommissioning.

The IRA refused to budge, and the bombing of London in 1996
marked the end of a 17-month ceasefire.

It took the same length of time for it to be rebuilt - time
and a change of British government.

By July 1997 - the date of the second ceasefire - Tony
Blair was in Downing Street and the political process in
Northern Ireland was now moving towards the type of
inclusive talks that republicans had expected three years

Sinn Fein joined those discussions in September 1997 and,
as that party entered, Ian Paisley and the Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP) left.

In the years since, the two parties have become the
dominant political forces in Northern Ireland, and any
deal-making beyond this latest IRA statement will require
their agreement.

It was once unthinkable, but it came close to being
achieved last December and it is about to be tried again.

Mr Paisley and his party were not part of the negotiations
which led to the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998, and,
long after that historic deal, the arguments over the IRA's
guns continued.

First there were arms inspections - international observers
from Finland and South Africa were allowed to check a
number of IRA dumps.

And, in their first report in June 2000, they said that the
weapons and explosives were "safely and adequately stored"
and could not be used without their detection.

By this time, however, unionists had expected that the
decommissioning process would be completed, but it had yet
to start.

'Assess the worth'

It was not until October 2001 that the IRA first put some
of its arms "beyond use", and further decommissioning
followed in April 2002 and October 2003.

They were secret acts, witnessed only by the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning which was only
able to give scant details on what had happened.

A Paisley demand for photographs was the straw that broke
the back of a possible deal last December, and now the IRA
has decided to act unilaterally and to complete the
decommissioning process ahead of any further political

It will take time to assess the worth of these latest words
from the IRA and the actions it has ordered.

We do not yet know if this is the endgame.

And, after the Northern Bank robbery and the murder of
Belfast man Robert McCartney, no-one is going to rush to
that judgement.

It took time for the IRA to respond to Gerry Adams and to
deliver its statement, and it will take even more time to
work out where the political process goes from here.

The credibility of what the IRA has said and is about to
do, will now be put to the test, but soon the focus will
switch to the DUP.

This IRA statement could be the first step in a process
aimed at securing the deal of all deals in Northern

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/07/28 13:14:09 GMT



July 30, 2005

I.R.A. Pledge Seen As Potential Model For Other Conflicts


At a celebratory lunch yesterday in New York, one eminent
speaker after another, from an archbishop to a former
secretary of state, rose to rejoice in the news that the
Irish Republican Army had abandoned violence and suggest
that Northern Ireland could prove an example to the world.

Yet for its hard-learned lessons to resonate, one speaker
said, it was important to talk not only about the end of
the conflict but its beginnings. And that speaker, Hugh
Carey, who was governor of New York and a representative
from Brooklyn, recalled shocking institutional
discrimination and bigotry in Northern Ireland against
Roman Catholics in the late 1960s.

"I introduced a bill in Congress to make Northern Ireland
the 51st state," Mr. Carey said, a provocative maneuver to
dramatize the absence of civil rights nearly 50 years after
the British split six counties in the north from the rest
of the island.

The hope reflected in Mr. Carey's quixotic proposition,
made some four decades ago, was that grievances could be
addressed through politics rather than with mortars, bombs
and rifles. It took until this week, with the declaration
by the I.R.A. that it would pursue its goal through
exclusively political means, for that aspiration to be
fully realized.

Yesterday's gathering was organized by a private foreign
policy study group, the National Committee on American
Foreign Policy, which has played an influential role in the
Irish peace process since the early 1990's.

The main speaker at the lunch, Martin McGuinness, a former
I.R.A. commander and the chief negotiator for Sinn Fein,
the political party aligned with the I.R.A., said it was
clear that democratic institutions, created by negotiations
and ratified by voters across Ireland, could replace the
armed struggle. He noted that a "tiny number" of Irish
republicans did not agree. "I think they are making a
grievous mistake for Ireland, Irish people and for
themselves," he said.

Mr. McGuinness, who came to the United States this week to
meet with officials in Washington about the I.R.A.
announcement, said that as soon he got off the plane he
received a call from former President Bill Clinton, who
visited Northern Ireland three times during his presidency
and helped persuade the I.R.A. to declare a cease-fire in
1994. "He said that this was going to be an example for
ending conflicts around the world," Mr. McGuinness said.

Mr. Clinton's view was endorsed by Henry A. Kissinger, the
former secretary of state, who said at the lunch that he
had never tried to intervene diplomatically in Northern
Ireland, thinking it a hopeless cause. "If it could happen
in Ireland, with the history of Ireland and the distrust,
I'd like to think it could happen anywhere," Mr. Kissinger

The chairman of the foreign policy group, William J. Flynn,
said that people in Northern Ireland had slipped from the
grip of history not with the single declaration from the
I.R.A. this week but through a long, tedious process of
replacing physical force with democratic institutions. He
and others noted that conflict in Northern Ireland had its
origins in institutional discrimination that began almost
as soon as it was split from the rest of the island by the
British in 1921.

Ruled by one party for nearly 50 years, Northern Ireland's
legislative body was described by Lord Craigavon, an early
prime minister, as "a Protestant Parliament for a
Protestant people." The Orange Order, a fraternal society
to which many leading politicians, police officers and
business people belonged, has an explicitly anti-Catholic

Through the first 50 years of partition, Catholics in
Northern Ireland had far less access to voting, jobs and
housing than did their Protestant neighbors. Even as many
Catholics and nationalists steadfastly opposed the I.R.A.'s
campaign of bombings and assassinations, they held stinging
memories of that history.

John Hume, whose work to end the violence was recognized
with the Nobel Peace Prize, recalled in a 1997 interview
the discrimination he saw growing up. "In my own town of
Derry, you had one-third of the population controlling the
other two-thirds," Mr. Hume said. "When I was a boy, the
lord mayor had 43 votes just for himself - he owned six
limited companies with seven votes each, plus his own

During the 1960's, Mr. McGuinness said that British forces
effectively criminalized dissent, cutting off political
avenues for people who saw themselves as Irish rather than
British. "The conflict rose from the civil rights movement,
from the state's brutality in suppressing civil rights
protesters and indeed, murdering them," Mr. McGuinness
said. "We ended up in a vicious cycle of conflict."

The sectarianism of the era has eased, though it has not
entirely vanished, as has much of the discrimination.
Indeed, the I.R.A.'s military campaign has been effectively
shut down for most of the last decade. Yesterday morning,
British military forces started to dismantle installations
embedded in rural outposts and on urban walls, the objects
of bitter resentment. "That development is equally
important, perhaps more important, than the I.R.A.
statement," Mr. McGuinness said.

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Loyalism Is Urged To 'Step Back'

Secretary of State Peter Hain has called on loyalism to
step back from "self destruct mode".

He was referring to intimidation as part of the loyalist
feud which has affected parts of Belfast and Holywood,
where a security operation is ongoing.

So far two men have died in the feud between the UVF and

"Working class communities in Protestant areas have
suffered much in the last 30 years and now bear the brunt
of more intimidation," he said.

"What makes this worse is that this intimidation and
violence is from those who claim to be representing their
own communities and who say they are proud of their

"This has to stop. Loyalism will be left behind if it
doesn't step back from the self destruct mode that it is
currently engaged in. No longer can there be areas plagued
with feuds and murders - gangsterism masquerading as

He said that he recognised there were many issues affecting
loyalist areas and there were structures at ministerial
level to help to address them.

Meanwhile, police and soldiers have been operating
checkpoints in a County Down housing estate for a third day
amid continuing concerns about the feud.

The situation at the Loughview estate in Holywood remained
quiet on Friday. Police said the operation, which started
on Wednesday, was to prevent a repeat of scenes when the
UVF forced LVF members out of a Belfast estate.

Chief Superintendent Wesley Wilson said police are working
to disrupt the activities of those it is believed could be
intent on increasing fear and intimidation in the Greater
Belfast area.

"It is the role of the police to uphold the law and protect
life and property. The operation to police the on-going
loyalist feud continues and any breaches of law will be
dealt with robustly," he said.

"I would like to re-assure the public, the police are
working to help bring this feud to an end. I would ask
those with influence in local communities to do the same."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/29 18:44:06 GMT


Peace Process - Unionists Can't Keep Stalling

DESPITE the scepticism from some quarters — unionists in
general and the DUP in particular — which greeted the IRA's
statement that they had ended the armed struggle, the fact
remains that the organisation will be scrutinised by two
independent bodies which will be able to audit their

One is General John De Chastelain's International
Independent Commission on Decommissioning, with a provision
that Catholic and Protestant clergymen will be invited to
attend acts of decommissioning.

The second is the Independent Monitoring Commission,
comprised of representatives of the Irish, British and US
governments, which will deliver reports next October and

As well as those monitoring bodies, both Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been
unequivocal in their insistence that decommissioning of IRA
weapons will be completed quickly.

An indication of how the IRA's earnestness is viewed by the
security forces can be gauged from the fact that the
British army moved within 24 hours to begin its programme
of security normalisation.

It was the joint decision of Lieutenant General Sir Reddy
Watt, the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland, and
PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde that, in light of Thursday's
declaration, that a further reduction in security profile
was possible.

Preliminary work commenced yesterday in south Armagh on the
removal of the hilltop observation tower at Sugarloaf Hill,
on the vacating and closure of the base at Forkhill, and on
the removal of a look-out post at Newtownhamilton police

That development drew instant unionist criticism. The DUP's
Arlene Foster described it as "criminally irresponsible",
while Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said it was
"absolutely outrageous".

They seemed to have forgotten, or ignored, the
unprecedented move made by the IRA, or else they expected
it to happen in a vacuum.

It is significant that the two most senior security figures
vested the declaration with sufficient credibility as to
begin dismantling some of the military installations,
especially in the sensitive area of south Armagh.

Although unionist criticism of that decision may be
symptomatic of the siege mentality, it may also be
construed as unionist apathy towards the concerns of the
nationalist and republican community.

It may have escaped the notice of the wider unionist
population that violence, including murder and criminality,
is not the domain solely of republicans.

While the IRA has vowed to pursue its objectives through
democratic and purely political means, armed loyalists
remain an inherent threat to peace and there is remarkably
little pressure on them to do what is expected of the IRA.

The Ulster Volunteer Force and the Loyalist Volunteer Force
are engaged in a feud which has resulted in murders,
shootings and punishment beatings which would outrival in
recent years anything for which the IRA was held

Such is the violence in some areas that several

Protestant families have been driven to move out of their
neighbourhoods in dread of their lives.

Last weekend Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine
was quoted as saying that the feud was going to get worse,
and also revealed that the UVF had abandoned, at least for
the time being, any move to embrace peace, as the IRA has.

Yet unionist leaders of all shades are seemingly more
worried about republicans' commitment to the stand-down
than the relentless violence their own communities are
subjected to by loyalist paramilitaries.

DUP leader Ian Paisley is a potent figure in the political
landscape of the North, but his obsession with the IRA
currently prevents him from seeing hope instead of being
blinded by suspicion.

Little is heard from him on the criminality of loyalist
groups, yet he is in a powerful position of influence to
vociferously condemn it.

Instead, his negativity prompts him to unreasonably, and
mischievously, demand photographs of decommissioning acts
which will be witnessed by an internationally respected

Given previous statements from the IRA, it is
understandable that Mr Paisley is somewhat sceptical of
this week's announcement, yet a perpetual condition of
scepticism will retard any possibility of progress towards
permanent peace in the North.

Ultimately, that must be the objective, and it represents
the wishes of the vast majority of people on this island
that it be achieved.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan was quite right when, after a
meeting with the Taoiseach yesterday, he insisted that the
DUP must not be allowed to delay talks on the restoration
of the North's political institutions.

He was also right to insist that Sinn Féin get involved in
the new policing arrangements as there could not be a
"twilight zone" between criminality and law.

For the North ever to arrive at a state of permanent peace,
there must be a cessation of violence in all quarters and a
recognition that there can be only one police force and
that one force is entitled to cross-community support.


Unionist Anger As Demolition Begins At Armagh Watchtower

By Alan Erwin

A MILITARY base in the North is to close as part of major
new normalisation moves announced yesterday in the wake of
the IRA's decision to halt its armed struggle.

But unionists were furious at the decision by army chiefs,
which also involved tearing down another of the military
watchtowers in the IRA's south Armagh stronghold.

Lieutenant General Reddy Watt, the general officer
commanding Northern Ireland, confirmed: "In light of
developments, the Chief Constable and I have decided that a
further reduction in security profile is possible.

"I can announce that preliminary work is starting in south
Armagh on the removal of the hilltop observation tower at
Sugarloaf Hill near Camlough, on the vacation and closure
of the base at Forkhill and on the removal of a super-
sangar (a lookout post) at Newtownhamilton police station."

A revised security normalisation programme is also expected
to be published, while plans are being made to allow on-
the-run paramilitary fugitives to return home. The
authorities reacted swiftly to the unprecedented
declaration by the IRA of an end to the armed and bloody
struggle it has waged for more than three decades.

But Arlene Foster, a senior member of Ian Paisley's
Democratic Unionist Party, was incensed by the military

She said: "It's criminally irresponsible of the government
to do that, given what has gone on in those border areas.

"The government seem quite happy to act on words alone.
It's startling that when the IRA give a statement saying
they will stop what they should never have been doing that
the government act so soon."

Danny Kennedy, deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist team at
the suspended Northern Ireland Assembly MLA, also reacted

He said: "With the ink not even dry on yesterday's IRA
statement, it is absolutely outrageous that the government
have decided to embark on such a major security scale-down.

"The government have foolishly decided to act on IRA words
alone when it is actions which the people of Northern
Ireland are looking for.

"When you consider ongoing IRA criminality in the area and
the threat posed by dissident republicans this latest move
is more than premature."

But the Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh, Conor Murphy,
welcomed the military actions.

He said: "People living in areas like south Armagh have
lived with the negative effects of military occupation for
too long. We are now well over 10 years into this process.

"The start made today must be built upon in the days and
weeks ahead, not just in South Armagh but across the six

"The demilitarisation of communities is an important
element in consolidating the progress already made and
ensuring that we build a new future free from conflict and


The Provisionals Have Gone As Far As They Can... And Their
War Is Not Over

By Kevin Myers

(Filed: 30/07/2005)

At least the IRA's "end to the armed campaign" statement
revealed, once again, the unfailing naivety of the
political and media classes in London and Dublin towards
the peace process. By Thursday evening, the very careful
IRA words of 1pm had been inflated into vast and fanciful
interpretations which the statement had deliberately not
carried, as commentators rushed to fill any gaps with
benign cement. Speaking in his customary emotive staccato,
the Prime Minister issued more dollops of soundbite,
"unparalleled magnitude" now joining his earlier, now
valueless plaudits to republican virtue, "seismic shift"
and "the hand of history".

A joint statement of the two governments claims that "the
end of the IRA as a paramilitary organisation is the
outcome both governments have been working towards..." as
if that had actually been achieved. The Northern Ireland
Secretary, Peter Hain, joyfully declared that the future of
Army watch-towers in South Armagh could be now discussed.
Whatever talks he had, and whomever they were with, were
certainly short: for first thing next morning, Army
engineers were removing them.

Meanwhile, of course, Sinn Fein looked on happily: as
usual, their work was being done for them by others, for
this is the purpose of IRA statements.

These have three primary audiences. The first and most
important consists of the members of the broader
Provisional IRA movement. The second is the media. The
third is the two governments in London and Dublin. To their
followers, they must issue coded assurances that surrender
is not being contemplated. To the media and the
governments, they must appear to offer the possibility of
just about everything. It is a complex linguistic task, one
made easier, however, by the greedy credulousness of the
political and media classes in London and Dublin.

However, Thursday's statement did serve one useful
function: it provided proof that the IRA's "complete
cessation of hostilities" which was declared 11 years ago
was in fact no such thing. The IRA campaign had remained in
existence, even while Martin McGuinness was simultaneously
educating the Province's youngsters. How enchanting;
indeed, in its own grim little way, it is perversely

Another useful function in any IRA statement is what is not
there. So what was missing from the statement - and missing
by design rather than oversight? First, no mention of
support for the police - a key ingredient to participation
in civilised government. Secondly, it did not specifically
renounce all criminality, which is now the Provisional
movement's bread and butter. Thirdly, it referred to "all
volunteers", which clearly suggests that the IRA knows both
the meaning of "all" and how to spell it. However, that
precious word does not recur when it comes to the
undertaking to destroy arms: the declaration does not say
"all" arms, just "arms". In Provospeak, that merely means
"some arms", and, even then, there is no timetable to what
will clearly be merely the partial destruction of the IRA

Supporters of the peace process will of course declare that
the IRA has finally announced the campaign is over, so what
reasonable objection could Unionists have to sharing power
with Sinn Fein? First, the statement did not say the IRA
was disbanding; the reverse is true. It talked of its
volunteers and "oglaigh" (Irish for "soldiers": a
deliberate use of a formal military word). Nor did it say
the war was over, merely that the campaign was over. Any
soldier knows the difference: the end of the campaign in
North Africa in 1943 did not end a war that finished in

So, contrary to many fantastic media exegeses, by its own
admission, the IRA will remain in existence, and it will
still be armed. This is implicit in a little-assessed part
of the IRA statement, which ran: "There is a responsibility
on society to ensure that there is no re-occurrence of the
pogroms of 1969 and 1970."

Those years provide the defining period of the current
Provisional IRA. The IRA by that time had gone down the
political road, having decided that an armed struggle of
itself could not bring about Irish unity. Its "volunteers"
were few in number, and even fewer had guns. When the old
RUC, aided by loyalist gangs, began its incursions into
nationalist areas of Belfast in 1969, the IRA was helpless
to resist. Many hundreds of Catholic homes were burnt down,
and thousands of Catholics fled. The graffiti that appeared
in nationalist areas read: IRA = I Ran Away.

The Provisional IRA resulted from that calamity. Deep in
its DNA is this core value: it will not allow
nationalist/republican areas of Belfast ever, ever, to go
unarmed. The IRA leadership would no more countenance a
disbandment of its capacity to "defend" such areas than the
British Army would announce that henceforward it would no
longer defend the realm. No doubt many might think such
comparisons ridiculous. But if the IRA were simply a sweet
and reasonable organisation, we would not have had 36 years
of this strife. It is what it is, and all in all, this is
relatively benign - but its capacity to cease to be benign
will none the less remain. Moreover, another core value was
repeated in Thursday's statement. It was an adherence to
the programme set out by the leaders of the 1916 Rising in
Dublin. This announced the formation of the Republic, which
claimed then, and in the minds of Sinn Fein-IRA leaders,
continues to claim, "the allegiance of every Irish man and

Today's Provisional IRA leaders remain as armed successors
to the republicans of 1916. Thus they cannot totally
decommission their weaponry, nor can they leave nationalist
areas in Northern Ireland "undefended", and if they tried
to, the IRA would simply split, as it did in 1970.

In other words, the IRA has gone as far as it possibly can;
and this is not far enough for the Democratic Unionists,
who know David Trimble and his Ulster Unionists were all
but destroyed by the two governments in their attempts to
appease the IRA. Their leader, Ian Paisley, will not make
the same mistake. He is now talking of waiting, possibly
for years, before making a final judgment on Thursday's
statement. Once again, the end has been seen too hastily.

The author is a columnist for the Irish Times


SF Now Free To Go Places South Of Border

Sinn Féin strategy: Sinn Féin's 2007 Dáil election campaign
began on Thursday in Jurys hotel in Dublin, writes Mark
Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Left without the baggage caused by the IRA's arsenal of
death, Sinn Féin now believes the Republic's political
system lies at its feet.

In 2005, the party was confident it was going to win
approximately eight Dáil seats and had to hide its gloom
when left with five.

Now it is targeting 10, and maybe more if the 10 per cent
held consistently by the party in recent opinion polls is
replicated in the ballot box.

The core Sinn Féin vote is nothing if not solid.

In Meath earlier this year, Cllr Joe O'Reilly held the
party's share at the height of the crisis caused by the
brutal killing of Robert McCartney.

Up to now, Sinn Féin has fought its campaigns on local
issues, perhaps, but its profile and brand have depended on
events in Northern Ireland.

Proof that this is true is hardly needed, but if so it was
there in abundance in Jurys as Gerry Adams welcomed the end
of the IRA's 35-year campaign.

Budding TDs such as David Cullinane, Pearse Doherty and
John O'Dwyer surrounded Adams, sending out the subliminal
message that they were somehow "players", which, of course,
they were not.

Minus the whiff of IRA cordite, Sinn Féin policies will be
examined by those most likely to vote, which they have
never bothered to do until now.

Perhaps a significant number will like what they see,
perhaps they will not. Perhaps it will not matter if the
election is fought on mood, not detail.

But it could. Currently, Sinn Féin wants to do a lot of
politically popular things, such as increase health, social
welfare and education spending.

So far, so predictable. However, such changes cost.

The health budget would add €3 billion a year, or about 15
per cent, to the higher tax rate.

Corporation tax, so crucial from the point of view of
foreign investment, should rise from 12.5 to approximately
17.5 per cent, it demands.

Capital gains tax, now at 20 per cent, should return to 40
per cent, Sinn Féin argues - even though the income from it
has multiplied five times since it was cut.

In addition, it wants those earning over €100,000 to pay
tax at over 50 per cent, and to increase employers' PRSI.

Undoubtedly, some voters who have not supported Sinn Féin
until now might back such policies, if convinced the IRA
has gone for good.

However, its agenda and its past could equally bring out
occasional voters, or those who never bothered to vote at
all, deliberately to vote against the party.

If nothing else, election 2007 is set to be the most
exciting contest the Republic has enjoyed for two decades.

"The thing, though, is that the Republic has changed
enormously over the last 15 years. Sinn Féin hasn't," said
one Fianna Fáil figure.

In other words, those most likely to vote want BMWs,
foreign holidays and the good things in life, not higher
taxes, no matter how ignoble.

Sinn Féin's organisation in the Republic is not a patch on
its "Risen People" Northern equivalent, even though
election battalions will move across the Border in good

Its TDs, led by Cavan/ Monaghan Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, have
done little to impress inside the Dáil, though it has
interesting possibilities such as Pearse Doherty in
Donegal, or Killian Forde in Dublin North East.

Instead, Adams, Martin McGuinness and Mitchel McLaughlin
remain the public face, though Southern voters will not
have the option of voting for them.

A Sinn Féin surge of any kind will make it more difficult
for Fine Gael and Labour to remove Fianna Fáil from power.

In the local elections, most of Sinn Féin's gains in Dublin
came at Fianna Fáil's expense, but Labour could be the ones
most at risk in a general election.

Fianna Fáil's organisation, though far from its peak, can
be expected to go into overdrive in constituencies where
Sinn Féin lies in wait.

Labour's parliamentary party, however, could suffer some
more retirements before polling day, while few young faces
are appearing.

If Sinn Féin stays out of post -election coalition
machinations, its seats will be effectively "sterilised",
reducing Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte's pool to eject Bertie

If the party does become involved, Sinn Féin could go into
coalition with Fianna Fáil, or support it from the outside
as a minority government. it will have to make that clear
during the campaign itself.

If the Opposition successfully paints Sinn Féin as Fianna
Fáil's escape option if all else fails, that will hurt if
the public is indeed in a mood for change.

The key to election 2007 may be not so much how many people
want to vote Sinn Féin, but how many want to get rid of
Fianna Fáil.

© The Irish Times


IRA Vow Lends Hope, But Violence Hard To Forget

With no saints on either side, complete peace yet to be

Paul Mcerlane / Reuters file

Declan, nephew of murdered Northern Ireland man Robert
McCartney, who was knifed to death in a bar fight in
January in a killing some blame on IRA members, stands near
a poster during a mass rally in the Short Strand area of
east Belfast, Northern Ireland, in this file photo. Slide

LONDON - It is news to warm the cockles of the heart. The
IRA is laying down its arms, or so it says, and "renouncing
violence as a political weapon."

Its leadership has formally ordered an end to its armed and
bloody campaign.

So no more shootings, no more bombings, no more maiming, no
more murders?

It is easy to understand those who are not yet jumping for

36 years of violence hard to forget in a day

Some 3,600 people have died in the violence of the past 36
years. Some 45,000 have been wounded and hurt, many
grievously. As one of them pointed out Friday, they do not
have the choice of renouncing their injuries.

More than half of those who have died have done so at the
hands of the IRA or republican splinter groups. They may
have been the most murderous, but they have not held a
monopoly over terror.

The so-called "loyalist" paramilitaries — those loyal to
British rule in Northern Ireland — can claim the dubious
credit of having done their share of the dirty work.

Three hundred thousand troops have been deployed in the
province during this time.

Security forces, once welcomed as the "peacekeepers," have
killed — and been killed — in their turn.

It is not hard to understand the doubters when they hear
the men of violence declare their new-found love of peace.
The history of Northern Ireland is littered with broken
promises, of cease-fires that ended in bloodshed.

Among those who have good reason for doubt, one still-
grieving father spoke out on Friday about the loss of his
17-month-old son, in a bombing on Belfast's Shankhill Road
more than 30 years ago. He, and the many thousands like
him, will take some convincing.

Their scars will be a long time healing. A whole generation
has known nothing other than trouble and grief.

No saints on either side

The history of Irish terrorism is as complicated as the
history of the divided island itself.

Other than its willingness to use violence, there is little
about the IRA you can take on face value. There's always an
end game. Nothing is as obvious as it seems.

If it is giving up violence, it is not because its members
think they were wrong. It is because it no longer serves
their purpose for now.

Listen to Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, long suspected of being
a leading force in the IRA, "There's a time to resist, to
stand up and to confront the enemy by arms if necessary. In
other words, there is a time for war. There is also a time
to engage, to reach out, to put the war behind us all."

The IRA offers no apology as part of its declaration of an
end to the conflict. Its statement simply acknowledges that
many have suffered during it. "We reiterate our view that
the armed struggle was entirely legitimate," it says.

Since the "Troubles" broke out in 1969, the IRA has
reinvented itself many times. Its stated aim — the
reunification of Ireland — is no doubt a noble cause to
people of that persuasion. Its murderous methods are not.

Northern Ireland's "loyalist" counterparts are no better.
For years they proclaimed allegiance to the Queen crown
while looking to terrorize her subjects in the minority
Catholic community.

It was the baying Protestant mobs of the late sixties that
gave the IRA their chance to become the "protectors" of
their own communities.

But that was then. Paramilitary activities on both sides
have long become a useful disguise for some of the biggest
racketeering, drug dealing and organized crime in modern
times. Godfathers and gangsters masquerading under the
banner of "freedom fighters."

They have added their own unlovely vocabulary to our
language: punishment shootings and kneecapping — both
examples of rough justice and a means of keeping control.

Last straws

Just a few months ago the IRA was implicated in a $50
million bank heist. Its members were also behind the brutal
slaying of a Catholic man outside a pub — a murder that
caused revulsion among its own supporters, reverberated
around the world and echoed in the White House.

For many, these were the last straws. The brains behind the
IRA recognized it was time to try something else.

Some will see this as scheming pragmatism, some as a
Damascene moment, others as the IRA's surrender. Be that as
it may, many will not care what it is, as long as it is
real and lasting.

For British Prime Minister Tony Blair, this moment is the
result of years of hard work, by him and others before him.
He has been criticized for cozying up to the IRA, for
taking tea with terrorists. He will no doubt feel some
vindication that the rhetoric of peace may now become the
language of reality.

"This may be the day," he said of the IRA declaration,
"when finally — after all the false dawns and dashed hope —
peace replaces war, politics replaces terror on the island
of Ireland."

One terrorist replaced by another

The irony is not lost on us here — on the island of
England, Wales and Scotland — that just as one threat goes
away, another has already risen to take its place.

As I write this, the anti-terror squads are again in action
on the streets of London. Once they were there to deal with
the threat of IRA bombs. Now they are trying to keep a new
breed of terrorists at bay. Their cause may be different —
the consequences of their actions are not.

We are again mourning the innocent victims of
indiscriminate murder.

Yes, we have been here before. I fear we will be here for a
while to come, whether the IRA declares peace or not.

Chris Hampson is the NBC News London bureau chief.


Durkan Warns Of Privatising Criminality

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Ahern/Durkan meeting: IRA members cannot be allowed to
create "privatised" criminal operations following the
organisation's decision to abandon its campaign, SDLP
leader Mark Durkan has said.

Speaking in Dublin after meeting Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Mr
Durkan said: "I think it is important that we don't have a
notion of privatisation, that we don't have a private army
out there for political purposes any more, but we are
allowed a privatised army for criminal, or pseudo-criminal,
actions. It is also important that people aren't allowed to
do whatever they want provided that it is on a personal,
rather than a corporate, basis." Many northern nationalists
will be keeping their "critical faculties" open to verify
that the IRA pledge to stand down is honoured, he said.

The IRA's decision to abandon its 35-year campaign, destroy
arms and end all other actions justified the SDLP's stand
since the Good Friday agreement, he said.

"People know that we were very frustrated by suspension, by
the stop-start nature of the process ever since the
agreement. We have always said there needed to be a clean,
complete and clear break with the paramilitary past. A lot
of people told us that was neither necessary nor possible.
The fact that yesterday happened shows that it was
necessary, that it was possible," Mr Durkan added.

"A lot of people in the past, even people who were pro-
agreement, said it was going too far that the IRA should,
or could, do the sort of thing they did yesterday. Nobody
advocated it more than the SDLP. Therefore, nobody welcomed
it more yesterday than the SDLP," he said.

The two governments must now make sure there was not a
political vacuum until the Independent Monitoring
Commission completed its second report on the IRA next

"I think it is important that neither parties nor
government decide that there is nothing that we can do and
that we can only mark time, because other difficulties will
arise if we do that," he said.

The British government can publish its full plan to reduce
the security presence in Northern Ireland, while work can
be "teed up" for the restoration of the institutions.

Mr Durkan continued: "David Trimble and the UUP were given
a lot of messing time, Sinn Féin and the IRA were given a
lot of space and time to drag their feet as well. There is
a danger that the DUP think they are entitled to it now. I
hope the DUP realise they can take things forward for the
community they represent. If they wait too long there is a
danger that some of their own people will lose their
appetite for devolution and say, 'Peace from republicans
and rule from Britain. That's not a bad deal.' The DUP
needs to move sooner, rather than playing it long.

"There is an attitude in the DUP that David Trimble and the
UUP were allowed to create a lot of difficulties in this
process and nobody shifted them on too much. Sinn Féin and
the IRA have been allowed to drag their feet at different
stages so who is going to rush us now? That has been part
of the problem. I don't think that it is any of our
interests to take any longer than is necessary."

© The Irish Times


Equality Appeal Against Golf Club

Carol Coulter, Legal Affairs Correspondent

The Equality Authority has decided to appeal the recent
High Court decision on Portmarnock Golf Club to the Supreme

Earlier this year the High Court upheld an appeal by the
golf club against a District Court ruling that its men-only
policy contravened anti-discrimination law.

Such a ruling against a club has implications for its
licence to sell alcohol, and in this case the club's
licence was suspended for seven days, but its appeal meant
the sanction was not imposed.

When the appeal was heard in the High Court the court found
it was not a discriminating club, though it did not find
the Equal Status Act was unconstitutional.

Explaining the decision to appeal to the Supreme Court,
Niall Crowley, chief executive of the Equality Authority,
said: "The case raises key issues of principle for the
effective promotion of equality where a significant
institution in Irish society can exclude women from both
the direct recreational benefits of membership and the
indirect social and economic benefits that flow from that

He said the Equality Authority was concerned that the
decision of the High Court established a precedent that
could potentially be availed of by other registered clubs
to exclude women or people of a particular religion, sexual
orientation or ethnic origin.

In the original case the Equality Authority had applied to
the District Court for a declaration that Portmarnock Golf
Club was a discriminating club under the Equal Status Act
because of its exclusion of women from membership.

In February 2004 the District Court found the club was a
discriminating club and in May 2004 the District Court
suspended Portmarnock Golf Club's licence to sell alcohol
for a seven-day period.

In June the High Court decided that Portmarnock Golf Club
was not a discriminating club under the Equal Status Act.
It is this decision that is now being appealed.

© The Irish Times


Gay Community Welcomes McDowell Partnership Promise

29/07/2005 - 17:29:02

The gay and lesbian community this afternoon welcomed the
Government's promise to begin discussions on legalising
same-sex partnerships.

The Minister for Justice said last night that he was
committed to legislating on equal rights for same-sex
partnerships and that it was a question of "how", not "if".


H-Block Memories: By Arthur Morgan TD

Arthur Morgan, Sinn Féin TD for Louth and party
spokesperson on Enterprise and Employment, recently made a
return visit to the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Morgan was a
political prisoner in the H-Blocks from 1977 to 1984,
following his arrest by the British army aboard a boat in
Carlingford Lough.

This week Arthur Morgan writes of the powerful memories
generated by his return to Long Kesh.

It was at a homelessness conference in Brussels that it all
began. Fra McCann and myself, housing spokespersons for
Sinn Féin on both sides of the border, were in attendance
at the request of Mary Lou McDonald MEP. Now, place any two
republican ex-POWs together and inevitably the conversation
will include a section on time in jail. And so it came to
pass. The Blocks, in our case. "I can arrange visits" said
Fra. "Excellent", says I. "When can we visit?".

It took Fra several weeks, but fair play to him, he was as
good as his word, and we duly arrived at the infamous H-
Blocks on the morning of Wednesday, 20th July. Fra was even
on time which, in itself, was something of historical note.

Our team included Caoilfhionn Ni Dhonnabháin, my boss in
Leinster House, Wendy Lyon and Shannonbrooke Murphy of the
Leinster House team, Olive Sharkey who is my boss in Louth,
and Marion, my wife and overall boss. Never let it be said
that I don't know my place. John Blackmore, an ex-POW was
also in attendance.

We arrived at the H-Blocks and gathered in the car park.
Several minutes later our guide arrived. He was quite
unusual for a civil servant. For a start, he was quite
pleasant and secondly, he had a first name that suggested
he might follow gaelic football.

We piled in to the ubiquitous ford van, similar to those
which ferried thousands of visitors to meet their
imprisoned loved ones in the H-Blocks over many years
through the height of resistance to Britain's occupation of

First stop was the administration Block. Quite bleak at
first sight, it is probably the only two-storey building on
the 100-plus acre site at Long Kesh. Boy, when I think of
how many of us would have given our right arm to get into
this nerve-centre of control in its hey-day.

Anyway, here it was, lying open to the elements and bereft
of the technological wizardry which helped the Brits keep
some semblance of containment in the prisoner-of-war camp.
Empty shelves, which once housed dozens of TV monitors,
scrutinising virtually the entire camp, looked miserable.

In we went and, after some mild introduction, we moved to
where we all wanted to see - the wards where the hunger-
strikers were housed, many of them for their final days.
Ward Eight is where Bobby Sands died. We shuffled in, very
respectfully and in silence, to stand by the bare bed in
the centre of the otherwise empty room. The silence lasted
for several moments, before someone asked if this was the
actual bed once occupied by Bobby. Unlikely. However, we
reflected on those painful, agonising moments that each of
the hunger-strikers, their families and comrades endured
during those most historic days.

After some time, we moved quietly down the hospital wing,
looking into each of those small rooms and wondering how on
earth they endured it. This was lump-in-the-throat time,
big time. The empty medication trolley lying in the centre
of the wing looked ghostly, and the peeling paint on the
walls made it look like this was part of the dirty protest
area, which of course it was not. Simply a case of time
catching up.

Thoughts of the sadness and tragedy of those times, mixed
with the progress and potential of these times. Mind
racing. God it would take a book to hold all these

After nearly half an hour, we slowly move on to our next
stop, H-Block 4. The visit should really call to H-Block 6
but, because of the killing of Billy Wright there, the
scene remains sealed off. So on to H4. This was most
interesting for me, because here is where we -the 'Provo
Navy', were deposited after being sentenced by a Diplock
court in November 1978.

Memories came flooding back. Now I was walking through the
open gate in the company of friends. In '78 we were driven
through in a blacked-out prison van and being greeted by
the sound of banging chamber pots on cell doors by the

Most memorable, for me, was the repugnant smell as soon as
we entered the Block on that November night. Disinfecting
agents mixed with the obvious odour of the dirty protest.
And then there was the welcoming party - a gang of screws,
handpicked to ensure we understood how things would be.
After some roughing-up, we were sent to A-Wing, where Peter
Dullaghan from Dundalk and myself were shoved in to cell 24
and the door slammed heavily behind us.

On this occasion, we wandered freely down the wing and
inspected cell 24 - just for old times sake. The cell was
even smaller than I remembered. A bit like going back to
your first school and marvelling at the tiny seats,
perhaps. I recounted one of the more interesting
experiences at this cell- the forced washing in late
December '78. Prisoners were dragged from their cells,
beaten, propped in a chair and hair and beards shaved,
'scraped off' might be more accurate, before being washed
with scrubbing brushes and held under water in a bath.

Some blanketmen were really brutalised in this process. I
recall Tom McElwee and Kieran Doherty were hospitalised
after they lashed out at screws who were beating the
younger prisoners particularly badly. Everyone from that
time has a story to tell.

Anyway, these wings were now quiet and deserted. Fra McCann
regaled the visitors with numerous stories, ranging from
his days on the Maidstone prison ship, to the internment
camp and the burning of the Kesh. I knew Fra was a fair big
age - he has certainly been about a very long time.

We finished our visit with a walk around some of the
infamous 'cages', where both internees and POWs were held
at a time when Britain accepted our POW status.

The Hospital Block, together with H6 and one of the cages
is to be retained. Rightly so. This jail resonates with the
same sense of history as Kilmainham in Dublin, where the
leaders of the 1916 Rebellion were imprisoned and executed.
It is also yet another monument to the failure of
successive British and Dublin governments to resolve
Ireland's independence issue, once and for all.

Hopefully, our generation will ensure that there are no
more Long Kesh camps.
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