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August 08, 2005

Govt Aims To Limit Colombian Fallout

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 08/09/05 Taoiseach's Aims To Limit Colombia 3 Fallout
DI 08/08/05 Don't Extradite Three: Adams
BB 08/08/05 Colombia Trio 'Will Serve Term'
IT 08/09/05 Government Stance Ambivalent – Kenny
IT 08/09/05 SF Rejects Harney Call On 'Colombia Three'
UT 08/08/05 Nationalist Concern At Terror Campaign
IT 08/09/05 SF Admits Adams Wrong On Dáil Speaking Rights
IT 08/09/05 SF Expects New NI Policing Bill In Westminster
IT 08/09/05 Shell To Dismantle Section Of Pipeline
IT 08/09/05 Yachtsmen Set Off To Complete Polar Mission
BE 08/09/05 Adams: SF The Vanguard To Struggle For Freedom
IO 08/09/05 Dublin Down A Place In Costliest Cities Poll


Taoiseach's Initiatives Aim To Limit 'Colombia Three'

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern initiated a series of diplomatic
initiatives yesterday aimed at limiting the potential
international fallout from the return of the "Colombia
Three" to Ireland, writes Liam Reid, Political Reporter.

Mr Ahern broke off his holiday to return to Dublin
yesterday morning, where he met senior officials within his
department to review the situation.

He then instructed officials to brief both US ambassador
James Kenny and British charge d'affaires Ted Hallett
yesterday on the Government's position.

A senior diplomat has been asked to travel to Bogota from
the Embassy in Mexico to meet Colombian authorities to hear
that government's concerns "first hand". The diplomat will
also outline the Government position and legal situation in
Ireland regarding extradition.

The Colombian government has already called for the three
men to be arrested and sent back to Bogota to serve their
17½-year jail terms for training Farc guerillas, an offence
that they deny.

Gardaí searching for the men have been unable to locate
them, despite calls from Government Ministers for them to
give themselves up.

Yesterday a spokesman for Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams
rejected calls from Tánaiste Mary Harney for Mr Adams to
intervene to get the men to contact the Garda.

He said this was unnecessary and could "be easily done
through the men's solicitors or through the Bring Them Home
campaign committee".

Ms Harney, who is acting Minister for Justice while Michael
McDowell is on holidays, said she spoke with Mr Ahern by
telephone, but did not believe a face to face meeting was
necessary unless there were further developments.

A spokeswoman for Ms Harney said she had been in contact on
a number of occasions with Mr McDowell, who is in
Australia, about the affair.

Mr Ahern and the Government came under continuing pressure
from Opposition parties and unionist politicians over the
affair. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny accused the Government
of "ambivalence" towards the three and said that if
extradition was not a possibility, then other initiatives
should be examined, such as a bilateral agreement with
Colombia that would see the men serve their prison terms in
this State.

It is believed that Department of the Taoiseach officials
outlined to the American ambassador and the British charge
d'affaires that the Government was unaware of the return of
James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly until
the end of last week, when it emerged through RTÉ.

Officials told both the US and British diplomats that any
request from the Colombian government would be considered
by the Government here in accordance with its legal

They were also informed that the Government would comply
with its obligations under international law, but that
there was no extradition treaty between Colombia and the
Republic of Ireland.

Legal experts have indicated that the lack of an
extradition treaty between the two countries means that any
request is likely to be unsuccessful, and that the
Government has limited discretion.

A spokesman for the US embassy declined to comment on the

The US state department, however, issued a statement at the
weekend which said the three men were "fugitives from

During his briefing, the British charge d'affaires
reiterated the UK position that if the three were found in
UK territory, they would be held and any extradition
request from the Colombian authorities would be dealt with

There is also the possibility that the three could face
charges within Ireland for travelling on false passports,
but Mr Ahern has already indicated this is a matter for the
Garda and Director of Public Prosecutions.

© The Irish Times


Don't Extradite Three: Adams

By Connla Young
Published 8/08/2005

The political will may not exist to return the Colombia
Three to the South American country, a brother of one of
the men said last night.

It was revealed last Friday that the three men had returned
to Ireland several days previously after four years in
exile. The three were arrested at Bogotá International
Airport in August 2001 and charged with training guerrillas
of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). All
three were later cleared of the charges but a discredited
appeal by the Colombian government sentenced each to
lengthy jail terms and forced the men to go into hiding.

The three — Jim Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin
McCauley — finally emerged last week. With debate raging
all weekend as to what should happen now, the men's future
is still unclear.

Last night Niall Connolly's brother Dan said he believed
the men would not be returned to Columbia.

"The families do not believe there is a case for
extradition and we can't see it being pursued through the
courts and even if it was we feel it would not be
successful," he said.

"The Irish government are saying that it is in the hands of
the Garda and courts. We doubt if extradition proceedings
will be pursued as there is no treaty between the two

"Even if there are provisions under the extradition act we
don't feel that the political will is there to send the men
back. Our priority always was to get the men home and now
that has come to pass they should be let get on with their

Gerry Hyland of Madden and Finucane solicitors in Belfast
which represents the three men, said the legal position
surrounding the men's case is unclear.

"It's a very grey area and very much a case of wait and
see," he said.

"At some point in this the Irish attorney general will have
to make his mind up on this. Is he going to direct the
gardaí to search these men out and if he is going to do
that it will be for a specific reason? But the first garda
that arrests any of these men will find his actions the
subject of a judicial review. I would imagine there will be
a legal challenge if someone is detained.

"There is no extradition treaty between the two countries
but there is some sort of Interpol alert out relating to
the three men. It is an interesting situation. I don't
think there's been an extradition case like this in the
Republic for some time. Previous cases have involved
extradition to the UK or mainland Europe between countries
with recognised treaties."

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has welcomed the returned of
the men to Ireland.

"These men should not be extradited under any circumstances
whatsoever. Most sensible people, if they're reasonable
about these matters, would have a view that the Irish
government has a responsibility to uphold the rights of
citizens, and that includes the rights of these three Irish

The SDLP's justice spokesman, Alban Maginness, said it was
difficult to see how the men could be extradited.

"These men were found guilty of travelling under false
passports and they have served their time for that. They
were acquitted following a trial on the more serious
terrorism charges. The Colombian authorities successfully
appealed that acquittal. That is something that could not
be done either in the North or the South. In our legal
systems, once you are acquitted you are acquitted and that
is it."

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said the return of the three men
has caused "difficulties" for the peace process. However,
Mr Ahern has yet to say whether his government will respond
to a call from the Columbian vice-president, Francisco
Santos, to extradite the men back to Columbia.

The DUP's Peter Robinson has called for the Irish
government to send the three men back to Columbia.

"Those who harbour terrorists are terrorists," he blasted.


Colombia Trio 'Will Serve Term'

The Colombian government has said it will not let three on-
the-run Irish republicans escape justice.

Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan were
sentenced to 17 years in jail but vanished in December 2004
while on bail awaiting an appeal.

They returned to the Irish Republic last week.

Colombian vice-president Francisco Santos wants the men
extradited but said he did not rule out allowing them to
serve their sentences in Ireland.

"We would need to see if that is possible and if not
possible, we think it would be important to look at ways of
how they could be extradited to Colombia," he said.

"Obviously, there is still a long way to go in terms of the
judicial process since there is no extradition in Ireland
with Colombia, but I think where there is a political will
there is a way and that is what we are expecting."

Meanwhile, the Irish ambassador to Mexico, who also covers
Colombia, is to travel to Bogota to discuss the situation.

Arrangements are being made for Art Agnew to meet the
authorities in Colombia, who have said they are determined
the men serve their sentences.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern, who has been under pressure
from Opposition parties in the Republic of Ireland, has
promised to consider any request from Colombia for

Writing in Monday's Irish Times newspaper, the taoiseach
said the Irish government would "abide by its obligations"
under international law.

However, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said the three
men should not be extradited.

He said their return had not damaged the political process
and the men should be allowed to stay.

However, the SDLP's Alban Maginness said the men's return
had "undermined the process of restoring the Good Friday

Ulster Unionist assembly member Michael McGimpsey said
their return could be part of a pre-agreed sequence of

Reverse appeal

DUP MEP Jim Allister said he intends to raise the case in
Strasbourg next month. He wants the European Parliament and
Commission to press Dublin about extradition.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he hoped to travel to
Colombia next month to develop links with victims groups

He said he also wants to show support to the Colombian
authorities in their demand that the three men are

The men, who had been accused of being IRA members, were
arrested in Bogota in August 2001.

They were found guilty of travelling on false passports, in
June 2004, but were acquitted of training Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) guerrillas.

That decision was reversed after an appeal by the Colombian
attorney general and they were sentenced to 17-year terms.

A judge had ordered the men to remain in the country
pending the outcome of the appeal.

An international arrest warrant was issued for them after
they disappeared.

McCauley, 41, is from Lurgan in County Armagh, Monaghan,
58, is from County Donegal and Connolly, 38, is from

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/08 19:22:35 GMT


Government Stance Ambivalent - Kenny

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

Opposition parties have called on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
to clarify the Government's position on the "Colombia
Three" and how it plans to deal with the controversy.

It comes as members of the Progressive Democrats called for
the three men to be arrested immediately.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny accused the Government of an
"ambivalent" attitude towards the case and suggested it
should introduce measures that would lead to the three men
serving their sentences in an Irish prison.

He also called on Mr Ahern to outline in detail the
instructions given to Irish diplomats who are travelling to
Bogota in the coming days to brief the Colombian government
on the Irish position on the issue.

"Notwithstanding the obvious legal and judicial
complexities of this case, it is incumbent on the Taoiseach
and the Government to make it clear that the Irish
Government is determined that those who involve themselves
in international terrorism must face the consequences of
their actions".

Mr Kenny suggested the Government should explore "the
possibility of agreeing a bilateral arrangement which could
see these men serving their sentences in Irish jails if
their extradition is not possible".

"If the Taoiseach does not pursue all possible means of
ensuring that justice is done in this case, Ireland's
international reputation will be damaged and the suspicions
of those who fear that the return of these terrorists was
part of a secret deal between the Government and Sinn Féin
or the IRA will be heightened."

Labour's justice spokesman Joe Costello said the Government
was trying to "wash their hands of responsibility" over
whether to extradite the men, by claiming it was solely a
matter for the Garda and the courts.

He acknowledged that any attempt to extradite the men would
be fraught with problems because of the human rights record
in Colombia.

Senator John Minihan (Progressive Democrats) said if the
three men did not give themselves up they should be
"arrested immediately".

© The Irish Times


Sinn Féin Rejects Harney Call On 'Colombia Three'

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Sinn Féin has rejected a statement by Tánaiste Mary
Harney that party president Gerry Adams must act to ensure
that the "Colombia Three", now back in Ireland, hand
themselves over to the Garda for questioning.

Ms Harney, in her capacity as acting Minister for Justice
with Michael McDowell on holidays, demanded at the weekend
that Mr Adams must co-operate with the authorities to
ensure the men were questioned.

Mr Adams is on holidays but his chief spokesman yesterday
portrayed Ms Harney's comments as academic or pointless as
the "Colombia Three" - James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and
Martin McCauley - were willing to speak to the Garda.

"James Monaghan, when he was interviewed by RTÉ last week,
made it clear that he and his colleagues were available to
talk to the gardaí. Therefore there is no need for Gerry
Adams to intervene.

It is simply a matter of arranging such a meeting, if that
is required. That can be easily done through the men's
solicitors or through the Bring Them Home campaign
committee," the spokesman added.

He was aware of a Sunday Tribune report quoting two senior
Garda sources who said the men had been in Ireland since
March, but believed this was not the case.

He reiterated that Mr Adams only learned of the men's
return to Ireland shortly before the news was disclosed on
Friday. He declined to be specific in terms of how long in
advance Mr Adams was aware of their return. Asked was it a
matter of days or weeks the spokesman said "it was a very,
very short time".

The spokesman insisted that the "Colombia Three" issue was
not causing a crisis in the peace process.

"Some people are making a song and dance about the men but
if they want to talk about a crisis in the peace process
they should talk about how loyalists are killing each other
in north Belfast," he added.

The spokesman said there was no evidence to suggest that
the men were engaged in any illegal activity in Colombia
and they should not be extradited.

SDLP Assembly member Alban Maginness said the return of the
"Colombia Three" was "yet another example of the
provisional movement putting its own needs ahead of the
peace process".

He said the men were "clearly up to no good" in Colombia
but believed there were not grounds for extraditing them.
"Not for the first time their reckless actions and Sinn
Féin's cover-up have damaged the peace process and made it
harder to get the Good Friday agreement up and running
again. In fact, it makes you wonder is Sinn Féin serious
about getting devolution back at all," said Mr Maginness.

© The Irish Times


Nationalist Concern At Terror Campaign

A sectarian terror campaign against Catholics in a Northern
Ireland village will claim lives if it continues, it was
claimed tonight.

By:Press Association

Nationalist politicians sounded the warning after two
devices exploded outside homes in Cloughmills, Co Antrim,
while a third hoax device was left on a windowsill.

Sectarian tensions have heightened across north Antrim
during the summer, with Catholic churches and pubs coming
under attack.

A republican internment commemoration parade due to be held
tomorrow night in Ballymena, a strongly Protestant town,
has fuelled further resentment.

Sean Farren, a nationalist SDLP Assembly member for North
Antrim, said he was disturbed by the incidents.

He claimed: "Loyalist gangs are flexing their muscles all
over North Antrim, most recently in a series of attacks on
Catholic churches, but the use of pipe bombs may mean they
are moving on to a new level of activity.

"Pipe bombs are made for one purpose only - to do murder."

The first device exploded in Cypress Park early today,
showering a living room with glass.

Less than an hour before the attack, another bomb had
detonated under a van parked in nearby Rosemount.

No-one was injured, but detectives blamed terrorists waging
a sectarian campaign against Catholics for the violence.

The third device was left on the windowsill of a house in
Cypress Park shortly after 1pm.

Police said it was similar in appearance to the other two
but did not contain any explosives.

All three are believed to be connected.

Inspector Nick McCaw said: "We are treating the incident at
the house as attempted murder.

"Anybody would have been badly injured, if not killed, if
they had been in that room when the device exploded."

Sinn Fein claimed six families had also been ordered out of
Ahoghill, another nearby village.

One of the party`s councillors, Daithi McKay, said both
families targeted by the pipe bombers today were attacked

"They are adamant that they are not going anywhere," he

"They have lived there all their lives and are not going to
be intimidated or forced out of the village by a group of

As police warned people in Cloughmills to be alert for any
undiscovered pipe bombs, Mr McKay hit out at the

"I would appeal to nationalists and republicans in north
Antrim to remain highly vigilant in the time ahead as it
seems that unionist paramilitary gangs are intent on
escalating their campaign," he added.


SF Admits Adams Wrong On Dáil Speaking Rights

Gerry Moriarty Northern Editor

Sinn Féin has acknowledged that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
was correct and the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was
wrong on the issue of Northern Ireland MPs and MEPs having
speaking rights in the Dáil.

Last Friday in The Irish Times Mr Adams wrote that Mr Ahern
gave a commitment that "MPs elected in the six counties
will be able to speak in the Dáil".

In this newspaper yesterday however, Mr Ahern said there
was "much exaggerated comment" on this issue and that what
the Government had in mind was much more modest than the
right to speak in the Dáil.

"It would not involve speaking rights or privileges in the
Dáil, but rather facilitate committee discussions with
Northern MPs on matters relating to Northern Ireland and
the Good Friday agreement," added Mr Ahern.

Mr Adams is on holidays but his chief spokesman yesterday
confirmed that the Taoiseach was correct.

He confirmed that the Taoiseach's offer referred to
addressing Dáil committees rather than the Dáil itself.

Mr Adams's spokesman indicated the "confusion" may have
arisen over the fact that on occasions Oireachtas
committees meet in the Dáil chamber and that Northern MPs
could possibly speak at such a committee gathering.

"Perhaps Gerry wasn't qualified enough in what he wrote or
didn't explain himself enough," he said.

"That said, we are still seeking speaking rights in the
Dáil. We are happy enough that the offer on committees is a
step in the right direction but we will be looking for full
speaking rights," he added.

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson, in a statement issued
before Sinn Féin confirmed its error, said the confusion
over the issue raised serious questions "over who is really
in charge in the Irish Republic".

"Whatever proposal emerges from this sordid side deal, my
party and my community will remain resolutely opposed to
anything that undermines the constitutional position of
Northern Ireland and drives a horse and cart through the
principle of consent," Mr Nicholson said.

© The Irish Times


SF Expects New NI Policing Bill In Westminster

Frank Millar, London Editor

Sinn Féin expects new British legislation, providing for
the eventual transfer of policing and justice powers to
Stormont, to be presented to MPs at Westminster when
parliament resumes in October.

This emerged last night as usually reliable sources
confirmed the party is continuing to press for the wiping-
out or cancellation of criminal records for terrorist
offences committed in the context of what Sinn Féin regards
as "a political conflict" in Northern Ireland.

Such a move - on foot of planned measures to effectively
pardon fugitive paramilitaries, or OTRs (on-the-runs) -
would face furious opposition from the Democratic
Unionists, the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionists in
the House of Commons.

From the republican perspective, however, it seems this is
still considered an essential ingredient in any final
package of reforms clearing the way for an eventual Sinn
Féin endorsement of the Police Service of Northern Ireland

Wiping the records clean would remove the bar to
republicans otherwise willing to serve as independent
members of District Policing Partnership Boards.

However, the Patten Commission ruled out the possibility of
people convicted of serious offences during the Troubles
serving in the PSNI or its proposed part-time reserve.

While allowing that young people convicted of minor
offences and with a subsequent record of non-transgression
should not be barred, Patten proposed that the standard set
for recruitment to the police should be in line with that
which applies to police forces throughout the rest of the

Discussions on these and other vexed questions - including
the "representativeness" of the policing service in
Northern Ireland - are set to continue between Sinn Féin
and British officials.

Central to those discussions will be the extent of powers
to be devolved, and the subsequent exercise of
responsibilities of Northern Ireland ministers and the
British government in a post-devolution situation.

If the DUP makes good its current threat to postpone the
resumption of power-sharing devolution for at least two
years, Sinn Féin says a new policing dispensation will then
be a matter "for joint delivery" by the British and Irish

Under last December's aborted "comprehensive agreement" the
completion of IRA weapons decommissioning was to have been
followed by agreement by February of this year on the
modalities for the future devolution of policing and
justice powers to a single or twin Stormont ministry.

It is presently unclear how Sinn Féin demands for local
accountability and control could be met without the
restoration of a power-sharing executive.

Republican sources made clear in advance that the IRA
statement formally ending its campaign was not predicated
on the assumption that the DUP would agree to resume power-

The absence of any British demand for a prior act of IRA
decommissioning or a photographic record of decommissioning
- combined with the start of British demilitarisation
measures and the focus now on "parallel" progress - have
underlined the Sinn Féin leadership's success in restoring
its relationship with British prime minister Tony Blair,
despite the difficulties generated by the Northern Bank
robbery and the murder of Robert McCartney.

© The Irish Times


Shell To Dismantle Section Of Pipeline

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

Shell E&P Ireland has agreed to dismantle the section of
Corrib gas onshore pipeline that was welded without
ministerial consent, Minister for Marine Noel Dempsey said.

The company has also agreed to co-operate with the
Minister's new monitoring group for the €900 million gas
project, and has said it accepts the consent procedure
outlined by Mr Dempsey.

The company was responding following legal advice on the
Minister's direction of July 31st that the company was in
breach of consents, and that it must break up the welded
pipeline and agree to a new monitoring arrangement.

A Shell spokeswoman said it had offered to dismantle the
pipeline in its initial response to the Minister last

Several "minor" legal issues relating to the consent
procedure have to be clarified between the department and
the company, according to the Minister, who is expected to
confirm the composition of his monitoring, or "technical
advisory", group later this week.

Shell yesterday announced formal suspension of work at its
Bellanaboy terminal. The suspension involves laying off a
further 128 staff involved in engineering and ground works,
according to the company, which said it regretted the

Dr Mark Garavan of the Shell to Sea campaign said his group
took no pleasure in any such development, but was confident
the employees were on contracts and would move on to work
elsewhere. The company had already agreed to suspend work
on the onshore pipeline while the Minister's new safety
review was being conducted, Dr Garavan pointed out. "It
underlines once again that the Corrib project is falling
apart and requires a root-and-branch analysis."

The Minister yesterday published details of the scope of
his review of the onshore pipeline, including a stipulation
that the authors may be required to make a public
presentation of its findings.

The consultants will be given two weeks to produce a draft,
and a further week to complete a final report, subject to
the agreement of the consultant and a project liaison
officer. This officer will be appointed by the Minister to
liaise between the consultant, the developer, the
department and local community groups.

The terms include identifying "deficiencies" in the
proposed installations. "This assumes that the pipeline is
a 'given' and this misses the point," Dr Garavan said. "We
have always said we have no problem with the design, but it
is the location and the consequences of something going
wrong that are at issue."

Some eight companies have tendered for the review, which
deals with health and safety aspects of the high-pressure
onshore pipeline between the landfall in Glengad and the
gas terminal 9km away at Bellanaboy. The tender terms state
that the Minister "reserves the right to require that such
additional work be undertaken and information provided as
part of the report as the Minister considers necessary, for
the purpose of assuring the comprehensiveness, quality and
appropriateness of the final report".

Companies seeking the tender must provide full details of
ownership and any relationship with any of the parties
involved in the Corrib gas pipeline, and must have had no
previous involvement with the project.

© The Irish Times


Yachtsmen Set Off To Complete Polar Mission

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

A Mayo skipper and his six crew are on their way to
Siberia to complete their attempted westward
circumnavigation of the North Pole.

The seven-strong crew, led by Mayoman Jarlath Cunnane and
Dublin-based but Cork-born engineer Paddy Barry, travelled
to Russia at the weekend to secure final approval for the
second leg of the 4,000-mile voyage through the North-East
passage. Most of the group undertook the first successful
Irish traverse of the North-West passage from the Atlantic
to the Pacific in 2001.

The expedition's 14-metre aluminium yacht, Northabout, has
been in storage in the port of Khatanga since the crew were
forced to cut short the initial attempt last year.

The group set off from the Russian port of Anadyr in early
August 2004, and made good passage until heavy polar pack
ice blocked all progress at mainland Russia's most
northerly point, Cape Chelyuskin.

When it became apparent that the pack ice wasn't going to
break up, and the seas began to freeze around the boat, the
Irish crew had to retreat south for safety.

On their way south, they risked their own safety in
deteriorating weather conditions to take a Dutch yacht in
tow that had damaged its rudders. Skipper Cunnane and Paddy
Barry received a Royal Cruising Club award in London
earlier this year for the rescue.

Michael Brogan, crew doctor and musician, said the
meteorological forecasts indicated this could be a good ice
year. The "ice window" tends to be brief and to close by
late September. "Once we get around Cape Chelyuskin we will
be very happy," he told The Irish Times.

The crew has ordered its food supplies for the voyage,
including a reindeer, and hopes to receive permission for
essential "polar bear protection".

The group will be accompanied by an ice pilot who will
monitor progress on behalf of the Russian authorities.

The team's website has
information on the expedition's progress.

© The Irish Times


Adams: "Sinn Féin Will Be The Vanguard To Advance The
Struggle For Freedom"

The Sinn Féin President is upbeat about the future,
although the Unionists will need time to grasp the
importance of the IRA's announcement and take the peace
process forward

Ainara Mendiola, Special Correspondent – BELFAST

The diary of Sinn Féin's President Gerry Adams is
absolutely full. Since Thursday he has had masses of press
conferences, meetings and interviews. Yesterday he took a
moment to relax. He attended an event organised for young
people as part of the Feile cultural week in Andersontown
Road in west Belfast. He left his usual suit and tie at
home and appeared in a sports shirt and corduroy trousers.

"Here's my boss," said press secretary Richard McAulay. The
reporter turned round to be faced by a man beaming and
surrounded by kids. The kids were sitting on a bench eating
ice-cream and Adams had sat down next to them. "She's been
on holiday," he tells Richard, referring to the little girl
on his left, "and we haven't seen each other for some

Adams usually looks serious in his public appearances. He
has been the President of the republican party Sinn Féin
for the last 22 years and within the Republican Movement he
had been one of the biggest promoters in the strategy to
seek a political solution to the Irish conflict. He was
born into a nationalist family in west Belfast in 1948. He
became a member of Sinn Féin in 1964 and was immediately
appointed to positions of responsibility. He took part in
initiatives in favour of civil liberties in the 1960s and
1970s and was jailed without trial for the first time in
1972 at the age of 24. While he was in Maidstone prison in
England he was released to take part in talks with the
British Government together with an IRA representation. He
was sent back to prison between 1973 and 1977 and again in
1978. A year later he proclaimed that the conflict could
not be solved through the armed struggle alone.

Since then he has proved himself to be an outstanding
strategist. In 1981, thanks to the hunger strike begun by
the IRA prisoners, Sinn Féin gained considerable support
and achieved election success. In 1983 Adams was elected as
an MP at Westminster and the same year was appointed party
president. The following year he was seriously wounded by
Loyalist paramilitaries, but managed to pull through. In
1987 Sinn Féin's peace strategy was launched in a document
known as A Scenario for Peace. Shortly afterwards secret
negotiations were begun with the main nationalist party in
Northern Ireland, the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour
Party), to work together to bring about the uniting of the
island; these negotiations culminated in the Good Friday
Agreement in the 1990s.

Gerry Adams has worked for many years to bring about
today's situation and the IRA's announcement to disarm is
the recognition of that work.

He says "patience" will be needed in the years to come to
overcome the latest difficulties in the peace process. He
becomes more serious when answering the questions put to

The IRA announced on Thursday that the struggle to achieve
the unification of Ireland would henceforth be in the hands
of Sinn Féin. What does that mean for Sinn Féin and for the
republican movement?

On the one hand it means that the IRA has ended its armed
campaign and that challenges everyone else, particularly
people who are republicans, socialists and nationalists, to
build towards republican and democratic goals and Sinn Féin
would be the vanguard of that and it puts a huge
responsibility on us to work and to continue to advance the
struggle for freedom.

The British Government has begun to dismantle military
bases in South Armagh. In view of this are you hopeful that
London will fulfil the commitments it made in the Good
Friday Agreement?

We can only judge them by their actions. In the past the
British and Irish Governments made many commitments but we
will have to see their actions to be able to judge whether
they are fulfilling them.

On Thursday I spoke to some of the unionist residents in
the Shankill and most of them said there would be no peace
in Northern Ireland, unless the nationalists dropped their
aims to unite the island. How will you address such views
that could hamper the peace process?

With tremendous patience [he smiles again]… Those of us who
want liberation, those of us who want a united Ireland must
have confidence in those aims and we have to urge the hard-
line unionists to support these aims. About the Unionists'
views you mentioned, ask them to tell us what their fears
are, why they don't want a united Ireland, and what kind of
united Ireland they want in which they could feel

The Irish and British prime ministers have said that the
autonomous institutions must start functioning again. What
kind of pressure has to be put on the unionists to move the
peace process forward, if Ian Paisley refuses to govern
with Sinn Féin?

The unionists have had very little time to come to terms
with the new situation. They need time to absorb the import
of this week's developments, but if they refuse to accept
responsibility, if they refuse to share power, the two
governments will have to proceed without them. There is no
other alternative. We cannot wait for the DUP [Paisley's
Democratic Unionist Party] to get their heads around
equality. We are prepared to be generous, but we're not
prepared to wait forever; we are not prepared to allow them
a veto on this.

Paisley said it would take a long time to trust the
republicans and share power with them. The nationalist
community may feel upset by this attitude. How far will
your patience go?

First and foremost the unionists have to trust themselves;
it is not a question of believing in anyone else, but in
themselves. The Democratic Unionist Party often proclaims
that they are the new competent unionists; let's see how
competent they are. If they have any better ideas for the
future, I'll listen. If they have any better ideas for
making progress, we'll look into them. We still think that
independence and unity are the best options and we still
think we have the right to freedom. But if they have any
other notions, let them tell us what they are.

What steps are you expecting to see now from Dublin, London
and the unionists to move the peace process forward?

We expect them all to honour their obligations under the
Good Friday Agreement. We expect to see the Irish
Government, especially, go beyond that, because the Irish
Government has an objective for Irish unity. So we expect
the Taoiseach to work with and put it to the British Prime
Minister that peace needs to be bedded down.

In December, Paisley stopped the political crisis being
resolved by requesting photos of the decommissioning of the
IRA's arms. Could the same thing happen now?

It may, but it would be no more than an excuse.

Adams stays with the friends and acquaintances who have
gathered for the event and is photographed with them from
time to time. He smiles as he plays with the kids around

"Our revenge will be our children's smiles," wrote the
political prisoner Bobby Sands. He was one of the ten
republican prisoners who died while on hunger strike in
1981. They are very prominent in West Belfast today. There
is also a large mural paying tribute to them at Sinn Féin's
headquarters with these words of Sands.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


The Sinn Féin is critical of the conduct of the Irish
Government. He says one of Dublin's aims is the uniting of
the island, but they won't move until the citizens push
them. To influence public opinion the republicans have a
campaign under way.

A few months ago Sinn Féin requested the Irish Government
for a plan in support of Irish unity. Have you had any

No, we haven't received any reply. We've set out a
campaigning strategy on this issue but we did not think
Dublin would respond immediately. It's a matter of popular
opinion. In Ireland, just like anywhere else, where the
people go, the politicians will follow. So we have to
engage in a campaign in favour of unity which Dublin can
also join.

In Southern Ireland there has been a debate about Sinn Féin
joining the government. Do you foresee it taking part in
the government in the short term?

Well, first there have to be elections and then before we
go into any coalition with any party, we will have to hold
a party assembly. The party will take the decision in an
Ard Fheis [a Sinn Féin general assembly].

The political parties in the Basque Country are trying to
push forward a peace process and they are all looking to
the Irish peace process. What advice can you give them?

I have never thought that we'd be in a position to advise
anyone. However, I support the demand of the people of the
Basque Country for independence, but it is a matter for
them how they are to achieve it. We have argued in all
conflict situations that dialogue is the key and a
negotiated settlement the way to end conflicts. So I would
urge the two sides, the Spanish Government and the people
of the Basque Country, to speak, and we are prepared to
help insofar as we can, but without interfering of course.


Dublin Down A Place In Costliest Cities Poll

08/08/2005 - 15:00:02

Residents of Dublin finally have something to cheer about
in the financial stakes as it emerged today the city has
slipped down a league of the most expensive in the world.

The Spring 2005 audit by the Economist magazine shows that
the Irish capital fell one place from 22 to 23 since last
year in the cost of living survey.

Dublin is cheaper than Sydney or Hong Kong but still
pricier than Rome, New York and Los Angeles.

Tokyo remains the most expensive city followed by Oslo,
Osaka, Reykjavik and Paris.

Copenhagen, Zurich, London, Geneva and Helsinki are also
among the 10 dearest.

The bi-annual survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit
compared the cost of a basket of goods in over 130 cities
worldwide to calculate allowances for business executives.

The Labour Party welcomed the blip in the "rip-off" graph
but warned that the country's cost of living is set to soar
with climbing fuel costs.

Consumer Affairs spokesperson Kathleen Lynch said: "This is
a short respite as it looks like a winter of discontent for
householders as we try to run our cars, cook our meals or
just stay warm."

"The increases in oil, petrol, diesel and the planned 25%
rise in gas are unacceptable."

Ms Lynch said lower income households will suffer "fuel
poverty" if there is no significant increase in the fuel
allowance in the forthcoming Budget.

The World Cost of Living Index from the London-based
Economist Intelligence Unit also found:

:: Tehran in Iran is the cheapest city in the world
followed by Filipino capital Manila.

:: There have been big jumps for cities in EU accession
states like Prague, Warsaw, Prague Budapest, Bratislava who
have risen 37, 20, 12 and 10 places respectively in the

:: Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe has seen its capital Harare
increase 51 notches.

:: The cheapest euro zone city is Lisbon at 52nd most
expensive overall.

:: The cheapest overall destination across Europe is
Belgrade (108th) in Serbia Montenegro.

:: Kiev in Ukraine, touted as an EU hopeful, is next
cheapest, lying in 93rd place.

:: Bucharest, formerly the cheapest destination in Europe,
has moved up 21 places into 91st place as accession talks

:: Latin American cities remain among the cheapest in the
world. Despite signs of recovery for economies like Brazil
and Argentina, eight of the 30 cheapest destinations are in
Latin America.

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