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August 01, 2005

SF Hails Dail Speaking Rights Plan

News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 08/01/05 Sinn Féin Hails Dáil Speaking Rights Plan
IT 08/02/05 Empey Opposes Dáil, Seanad Role For MPs
IT 08/02/05 Labour Rejects Call For Alliance With SF
IT 08/02/05 DUP May Veto SF Talks Over Security
IT 08/02/05 Thorniest Problem Yet For The DUP
IT 08/02/05 Demilitarisation: Main Points
BB 08/01/05 RIR Faces 'Decent And Honourable' End
BB 08/01/05 Chequered History Of Irish Regiment
DI 08/01/05 Hopes Are High For Divis Tower Spypost Removal
BB 08/01/05 Demilitarisation Plans Reaction
EX 08/01/05 Paisley Condemns 'Surrender To The IRA'
IT 08/01/05 2002 Report In Light Of IRA Statement
DI 08/01/05 Fingers Chopped In Attack
DI 08/01/05 'Join The PSNI' Archbishop Urges
TB 08/01/05 Shoot To Kill: Getting Away With State Murder
TB 08/01/05 Satire: Courageous & Confident Statement
UT 08/01/05 Shell Ordered To Dismantle Pipeline
IT 08/02/05 Dingle Teachers Conferred With Papal Knighthood


Sinn Féin Hails Dáil Speaking Rights Plan

01/08/2005 - 14:17:53

A Government move to allow Northern Ireland MPs and MEPs to
debate in the Dáil would be a welcome recognition of the
rights of Irish citizens north of the border, Sinn Féin
claimed today.

West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty, who would be among 21
politicians who would qualify, welcomed reports that Bertie
Ahern's Government will embark on plans in the autumn to
allow 18 MPs and three MEPs from Northern Ireland to take
part in Dáil debates on issues affecting their region.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey yesterday reacted
furiously to the proposal which, he claimed, was another
concession to Sinn Féin in the wake of the IRA's
announcement that it is abandoning its armed campaign.

Sinn Féin's vice president Pat Doherty confirmed it was a
demand his party's negotiators had pressed for.

"The Irish Government have given commitments to facilitate
this, as an expression of the right of northern
nationalists, of Irish citizens, to participation in the
political life of the nation.

"I welcome any move by the Irish Government to give effect
to these commitments."

Mr Ahern was warned yesterday that in the event of
devolution returning, Ulster Unionists would retaliate with
their own sanctions if speaking rights were given in the
Dublin Parliament to Northern Ireland MPs and MEPs.

The former Stormont Economy Minister said the proposal was
outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and was a
breach of the principle that the consent of the majority of
the people of Northern Ireland would be required before
there is any change to the North's constitutional status.

"I believe this move is very dangerous because it would
effectively be setting up an embryonic all-Ireland
Parliament," the East Belfast Assembly member said.

"When the idea was first mooted two years ago, the UUP
opposed it. We told the two governments then, and have
repeatedly since, that if it is pursued by Dublin, we will
no longer be obligated to our support for north-south

Sinn Féin would like to see its five MPs, including Gerry
Adams and Martin McGuinness, and their Northern Ireland MEP
Bairbre de Brun being given speaking rights.

There have also been suggestions they could play a part in
Dáil committees.

Mark Durkan's nationalist SDLP would also be expected to
welcome the move and send its three MPs to the Dáil.

Sir Reg's threat against north-south bodies was reminiscent
of Ulster Unionist sanctions during devolution aimed at
Sinn Féin.

During the last Assembly, his predecessor, David Trimble,
refused to nominate Sinn Féin ministers for cross-border
meetings with Irish Government ministers because of the
IRA's reluctance to disarm.

Should devolution return and unionists refuse to attend or
even recognise cross-border institutions, it would cause
difficulties for a section of the Good Friday Agreement
many nationalists hold dear.

Sir Reg accused the rival Democratic Unionists yesterday of
failing to grasp the significance of the speaking rights

"The DUP fell asleep at the wheel on this issue in
negotiations last year," he said.


Empey Opposes Dáil, Seanad Role For MPs

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has warned the
Government against allowing MPs from Northern Ireland to
take part in debates in the Dáil and Seanad.

It follows commitments by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to Sinn
Féin to examine the issue.

Sir Reg Empey said the proposal was outside the terms of
the Belfast Agreement, and was a breach of the principle
that the consent of the majority of people of Northern
Ireland would be required before any change to the North's
constitutional status.

"I believe this move is very dangerous because it would
effectively be setting up an embryonic all-Ireland
parliament," the East Belfast Assembly member said.

"When the idea was first mooted two years ago the UUP
opposed it. We told the two governments then, and have
repeatedly since, that if it is pursued by Dublin we will
no longer be obligated to our support for North-South

On Sunday, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell appeared
to rule out giving the North's MPs an automatic right to
address the Dáil, claiming it would not be in line with the
Belfast Agreement.

Mr McDowell said although the Taoiseach had promised to
raise the matter with party leaders in the Oireachtas, it
would require all-party agreement. "I don't believe there's
all-party agreement. Certainly the Progressive Democrats
don't agree that any person should be entitled as of right
to address the Dáil because they're elected to

There are other options that are expected to be examined,
including allowing MPs to address specific Oireachtas
committees dealing with Northern Ireland affairs and to
enable a number of senators to be directly elected by the
Northern Ireland electorate.

Yesterday Sinn Féin vice-president Pat Doherty confirmed it
was a demand his party's negotiators had pressed for.

"The Irish Government have given commitments to facilitate
this as an expression of the right of Northern
nationalists, of Irish citizens, to participation in the
political life of the nation.

"I welcome any move by the Irish Government to give effect
to these commitments."

© The Irish Times


Labour Rejects Call By Union Leader For Alliance With SF

Chris Dooley

A call by trade union leader Mick O'Reilly for Labour to
open an alliance with Sinn Féin in light of last week's IRA
statement was swiftly dismissed yesterday by the Labour

Mr O'Reilly, an outspoken critic of Labour's decision to
discuss a pre-election pact with Fine Gael, said co-
operation between the left and Sinn Féin would be a
"sensible development".

"On issues of economic development, redistribution of
wealth and public service investment, there is considerable
agreement - more so than with the right-wing parties," he

The ATGWU leader said that while "IRA deeds must match
their words", it was clear that the Sinn Féin leadership
was determined to commit the republican movement to "fully
peaceful and democratic means".

This made co-operation between left-wing parties and Sinn
Féin a "viable and welcomed possibility". The basis of a
future alliance was already in place, he added.

"The Labour Party, Sinn Féin and other progressive parties
and independents make up the second largest bloc in the

"Labour and Sinn Féin hold an effective majority of seats
on the largest local authority - Dublin City. Co-operation
could see these groupings become a major electoral force at
both national and local level."

However, a Labour Party spokesman flatly rejected the
proposal yesterday and said there was no chance of an
alliance with Sinn Féin in the foreseeable future.

Mr O'Reilly, he said, was "very good at lecturing the
Labour Party", but was not a member of the party.

While the IRA's statement of last week was very welcome, it
would have to demonstrate its bona fides and that would
take time, he added.

He said that while there was common ground between the
parties on some issues, they disagreed fundamentally on
others, such as the European Union.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte has poured scorn in the past on
Mr O'Reilly's criticisms of the party's electoral strategy.
He described the ATGWU leader in March as a "hurler on the
ditch" whose "nonsense" views "deserve to be ignored".

© The Irish Times


DUP May Veto SF Talks Over Redrawing Of Security

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

The Democratic Unionist Party is to threaten the British
government with unspecified political sanctions when it
meets Northern Secretary Peter Hain in London later today.

The Rev Ian Paisley, backed by many Assembly members on the
steps of Stormont, warned that the British government would
"pay a high price" for its programme of demilitarisation in
Northern Ireland announced yesterday, and claimed the
dramatic planned redrawing of the security response was
"rushed" and a "sop to republicans".

He suggested his party would use its veto over entry into
talks with Sinn Féin leading to the restoration of the
institutions of the Belfast Agreement.

"The Secretary of State may believe that today's statement
will bring forward devolution but the reality is that it
will delay its return," he warned.

Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey considered the abolition of
the locally recruited battalions of the Royal Irish
Regiment to be so unacceptable that he called for a pan-
unionist front to fight the measure. "Despite all these
attacks on the UUP, this issue is so important that I am
prepared to co- operate with like-minded unionists to seek
to fight this irresponsible decision," he said.

Echoing a policy call made earlier yesterday by renegade
UUP member David Burnside, he continued: "This would be a
better use of our time and energy than an endless blame
game between unionist parties that will only allow the
government and republicans to get on with dismantling the
defences of our country."

However, the DUP leader appeared uninterested. Instead he
blamed the Ulster Unionists under former leader David
Trimble, claiming the demilitarisation policy was drawn up
when the UUP was the lead unionist party.

"Although the Secretary of State has confirmed that this is
the outworking of an agreement entered into in April 2003
which was negotiated by the Ulster Unionist Party and Sinn
Féin, he had a responsibility to consult with those who now
represent unionism," said Dr Paisley.

"This he has failed to do. The joint declaration negotiated
by David Trimble and Reg Empey is now coming back to haunt
the people of the province. This bilateral agreement
between the government and the IRA will have serious
consequences for the political process.

"The government needs to learn that they are no longer
dealing with David Trimble and Reg Empey," he added. "The
era of pushover unionism is over."

The SDLP welcomed the announcements as sensible and
appropriate, adding they would hasten the arrival of purely
civilian policing. David Ford, the Alliance leader, queried
its timing.

Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy, who earlier in
the day held talks with Mr Hain and Northern Ireland Chief
Constable Hugh Orde said: "We have consistently called for
the British government to produce a comprehensive strategy
to achieve the demilitarisation of our society.

"Any such strategy would have to include the future of the
RIR. Sinn Féin have consistently raised the issue of the
continuing role of the RIR, its sectarian composition and
its collusion with the unionist paramilitaries. Today's
announcement deals with this issue."

In his first public comments on last Thursday's IRA
statement, Sir Hugh said: "The statement has a greater
clarity than anything we have seen before. But they are
only words on a piece of paper and I think many communities
will take real convincing that this is going to translate
into real change, which to me is very clear - they [the
IRA] must get rid of their guns and stop criminality.

"If the actions live up to the words, then we will be
policing a more normal society."

© The Irish Times


Thorniest Problem Yet For The DUP

Unionists cannot claim to be shocked at the plan to
reduce troop numbers, writes Dan Keenan.

Just over two years ago, the former British defence
secretary thought he had dampened a blaze of speculation
about the future of the Northern Ireland-recruited Royal
Irish Regiment battalions.

Geoff Hoon's statement insisted there were "no plans" for
the future of the so-called home battalions that recruited
and served only in Northern Ireland.

That wasn't enough for Jeffrey Donaldson, then an Ulster
Unionist MP at war with his party leader, David Trimble,
and he demanded greater "clarity and certainty".

The Lagan Valley MP - now in the DUP - may well deserve
praise for his foresight. However, his call for "clarity
and certainty" is not one that this British government
appears to deem fair. Situations change.

Yesterday's announcement by Peter Hain, and backed by
British army chiefs and the PSNI chief constable, is
founded on security judgments and not on political
considerations. So they say.

To that end, Mr Hoon's statement in June 2003 and that made
yesterday by Mr Hain are consistent. The former defence
secretary made his in line with advice from police and army
heads based on the level of threat. Mr Hain claims he did
the same yesterday. What has changed from a British
perspective is not government policy, but the security
outlook following the IRA statement about its future. To
unionists who are ever watchful of being sold down the
river, this is a "political sop" and "a surrender".

They have, of course, been in this predicament before. In
1969 they demanded retention of the RUC's B Specials
constabulary - and lost.

In 1992 they demanded retention of the B Specials'
replacement, the UDR - and lost.

Following the report of the Patten Commission into policing
they demanded retention of the RUC - and lost.

They even failed to hold on to the RUC emblem and were
involved, through membership of the Policing Board, in
agreeing a replacement for the police badge they vowed to

Politically, this is a blow for unionists which could
severely damage relations between the DUP and a British
government anxious to build on P O'Neill's initiative. It
has also provided a (rare) opportunity for the UUP to point
the finger of blame at its main rival instead.

Emotionally though, for unionists, of all hues and degrees
of enthusiasm, this is much more serious.

The local British army units, like the RUC, are more deeply
rooted in the heart of mainstream unionism than outsiders
care to recognise.

More than 50,000 members have served in the UDR and its
replacement, and some 260 members and former members were
murdered - many of them off-duty, isolated and in front of
their families.

Tactical discussions about the security landscape don't cut
much ice when a threatened community, which put so much
store in police and army uniforms, reads today's headlines.

Betrayal could not be spelt out more clearly.

Potentially, this is the most difficult problem for the DUP
since it scaled the unionist summit ascendancy so clearly
at the last Assembly and Westminster elections.

How to force a determined government to change its policy
on something that government dare not alter?

Dr Paisley would do well to ponder the words of Reatha
Hasson, a former member of both the UDR and RIR when she
told UTV last night: "I hope the DUP will prove not hungry
for power, but hungry for justice."

© The Irish Times


Demilitarisation: Main Points

The possibilities of a timetable for 'normalisation' in
Northern Ireland.

Within the first eight months, in an enabling environment,
the NIO, PSNI, British army would have achieved:

1. The vacation and closure of Forkhill base; the removal
of Tower Romeo 12 in south Armagh; and dismantling of the
super sangar (bunker) in Newtownhamilton. Work has already
started and will be completed within six months.

2. The removal of the observation post at Divis Tower in
Belfast and the two observation towers at Masonic in Derry.
Work is beginning this week and will be completed within a
six-month period.

3. The successive removal of two towers in south Armagh G10
(Creevekeeran); G20 (Drummuckavall).

Work will start within a few weeks and be completed within
a six-month period; with the sites restored to greenfield
status as soon as possible.

4. The publication of a structured plan for phased
reduction in troops to peacetime levels.

5. Continuation of the review of the police estate with
action taken as agreed with the Policing Board following
consultation with district commanders and communities,
including work to defortify 24 police stations.

Within the next 12 months, in an enabling environment, they
would have achieved:

1. Further defortification of police stations. Progressive
development of and extension of varying patrol patterns:
e.g. single beat officers, bicycle patrols and opening of
police shops.

2. The vacation and demolition of the remaining south
Armagh towers. These sites, with the exception of a Blue
Light communications site at Croslieve, would be returned
to greenfield status as rapidly as possible.

3. Progressive withdrawal of soldiers from sites where they
are co-located with police in Armagh (Crossmaglen,
Newtownhamilton, Middletown) and in Fermanagh and Tyrone.

4. The removal of the military base within Maydown police

5. A reduction in troop numbers in line with the published

6. The return of private property on vacated sites.

Within the final four months, in an enabling environment,
they would have achieved:

1. Further implementation of the police estate review, as
determined by the Policing Board.

2. Additional opportunities for the police to patrol
without the use of armoured vehicles.

3. The vacation and demolition of the observation post at
Rosemount in Derry.

4. The vacation, closure and disposal of all military sites
to leave no more than 14 core sites.

5. The further reduction in army and other service levels,
including the disbandment of the operational brigade
headquarters, to a permanent military garrison of no more
then 5,000.

The size of the longer-term garrison is likely to fluctuate
in response to global demands on the army and its overall

6. Repeal of counter-terrorist legislation particular to
Northern Ireland.

© The Irish Times


RIR Faces 'Decent And Honourable' End

Colonel Mark Campbell tells BBC NI Security Editor Brian
Rowan in an exclusive interview that the decision to
disband the Royal Irish Regiment is "practical", it is not
about his regiment being "thrown to the political wolves".

The most senior officer in the Royal Irish Regiment
believes the decision to demobilise the Northern Ireland
based battalions is a "practical reality".

Colonel Mark Campbell said that the soldiers' service was
being brought to a "decent and honourable" conclusion at a
time when Northern Ireland was moving towards normality.

He did not accept that soldiers were being "thrown to the
political wolves."

"This is clearly a security issue," he said.

"We are approaching a point where the Police Service of
Northern Ireland will be able to provide the security and
law enforcement to the province without routine military

The colonel said it was unfair to view the decision as the
Royal Irish being delivered "on demand from Sinn Fein".

"The RIR and its predecessor, the UDR, came into place in
1970 when this was a very dark place and we all remember
the violence that was visited on our community in the 70s,
80s and 90s," he said.

He said the soldiers' role had been "critical" and he
argued that it was largely because of them that those who
would use force to achieve their ends were unable to do so.

"I would argue it was largely because of the commitment of
the UDR and the RIR Home Service that those who would use
force have now turned away from force," he said.

The colonel accepted that there were members who stepped
outside the law and who let the wider regiment down.

"There were clearly some bad apples in the barrel and those
bad apples sometimes turned to distasteful, despicable
terrorist acts," he said.

"I just wish to reiterate that I, and all other members of
the regiment, utterly condemn those individuals. They let
us down, they let society down. And they really needed to
get their just desserts in terms of legal process."

But he said that everyone in Northern Ireland owed the
regiment a debt.

"I think members of the republican community, they may wish
to accept or may well not wish to accept it, also owe a
considerable debt," he said.

"Had they succeeded in achieving their aims through
violence, I think this would not have been a very pleasant
place to live.

"It is because of the bravery and courage of those who
stood and put themselves in harm's way in difficult times
that we are where we are today."

The colonel said a verification process would take place,
following last week's IRA statement .

However, once peace had been confirmed in Northern Ireland,
the batallions were no longer needed.

To retain them, in such circumstances would, he said, be

Colonel Campbell said it would be two years before
demobilisation. But he said he was committed to a process
of redundancy, resettlement and after-care for soldiers.

"It will be an effective package which will deal honourably
and decently by soldiers and also remember their ability to
transfer into the rest of the army and continue to effect
their expertise, should that be possible," he said.

The colonel said he would remember the regiment with "great
honour and pride".

They had conducted their business with "professionalism and
integrity", he said.

"They have helped to achieve today a great step towards a
society within Northern Ireland that we should all be proud
and happy to belong to.

"One whereby the police service, the civil police service
can conduct their business and maintain law and order
without military support and that is an end state we should
all aspire to," he said.

Asked if the conflict in Northern Ireland had been a "war
with no winners", Colonel Campbell said there was nothing
to be gained by one side claiming victory over another in
Northern Ireland.

"I think we need to embrace a bright, new, democratic
future and that will not be assisted by one side claiming
victory over another and mud slinging," he added.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/01 17:49:18 GMT


Chequered History Of Irish Regiment

After it was announced that the three Northern Ireland-
based battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment are to be
disbanded, the BBC News website looks back at the
regiment's history.

The Royal Irish Regiment of the British Army was formed by
the amalgamation of the Ulster Defence Regiment and the
Royal Irish Rangers on 1 July 1992.

The Ulster Defence Regiment had been the largest serving
regiment in the army and had been on active service longer
than any regiment since the Napoleonic Wars.

However, in 1991 the government announced that it was to
disappear in a review of the armed forces.

The decision was presented as a purely military one,
arising from a reduction in forces with the ending of the
Cold War.

However, by then only 3% of its members were Catholics, and
many nationalists and the Irish government regarded it with

Image problem

The Ulster Defence Regiment dated back to 1 April 1970.

In its early days, it had up to 18% Catholic membership but
suffered an early image problem with nationalists, who saw
it as absorbing too many former B Specials, a largely
Protestant paramilitary-style police reserve.

There were allegations of members associating with loyalist
paramilitaries, resulting in charges against a number of
UDR members, and warnings that higher standards of
recruitment were needed.

Two UDR soldiers were convicted for the murder of three
members of the Miami Showband (a cabaret band) in an Ulster
Volunteer Force gun and bomb attack in 1975.

At the time police said they were dismayed that the gang of
UVF militants had been locally recruited into the UDR.

During its 22 years of duty in Northern Ireland, a total of
197 serving UDR soldiers were killed.

Sixty former members were killed by paramilitaries after
they left the regiment.

Granting colours

In the 1980s, the UDR provided back-up for the RUC over 85%
of Northern Ireland.

In June 1988, it was announced that the Queen would be
granting colours to all its nine battalions.

When the end came for the UDR, there was protest from
unionists who said the level of criminality within the
regiment had been exaggerated in light of the fact that
40,000 people had served in its ranks.

But the UDR was still merged with the Royal Irish Rangers
which had been formed through the amalgamations of the
Royal Ulster Rifles, The Royal Irish Fusiliers and the
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Keeping peace

In its first six months of operations, the RIR had three
members murdered, two locally based and one home on leave
from Cyprus.

Seven RIR soldiers have been killed by paramilitary

The RIR currently consists of a general service battalion,
liable for service worldwide, three home service
battalions, for service within Northern Ireland, and one
Territorial Army battalion which retains the title Royal
Irish Rangers.

An RIR company was among the British Army contingent sent
to Bosnia to protect food convoys in 1992.

In 2000, six RIR soldiers were taken hostage in Sierra
Leone and held for 16 days before paratroopers mounted a
rescue operation and freed them during a gun battle.

Three years later, on the eve on the invasion of Iraq, a
colonel of the Royal Irish Regiment, Tim Collins, told his
troops: "If you are ferocious in battle remember to be
magnanimous in victory."

It was a speech which earned him worldwide fame and a copy
of which was reportedly given wall space inside the White

The RIR headquarters is at St Patrick's Barracks in
Ballymena, County Antrim. The Duke of York is colonel in

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/01 16:48:11 GMT


Hopes Are High For Divis Tower Spypost Removal

by Ciara McGuigan

Work could begin today to dismantle one of the most
notorious spyposts in the North.

Following the historic IRA statement last Thursday and the
resultant demilitarisation of several army bases across
North Ireland, there is huge speculation that the British
Army will today begin to demilitarise Divis Tower in west

John Leathem, chairman of the Divis Residents' Association,
said yesterday that he had it on good authority that the
British Army would begin taking down cameras from the spy
base that has been on top of the tower block since 1970.

"In the last report issued on demilitarisation, Divis Tower
was earmarked for removal, and I have been led to believe
that this will begin tomorrow with cameras being removed
from the site," he said.

The British Army spy base has been a source of great anger
for the west Belfast community for more than 30 years, with
murders taking place in the tower's shadow.

"We have always asked for the tower to be demilitarised,"
said Mr Leathem.

"There are ten flats up there on floors 18 and 19, occupied
by the British army, that could be given over to homeless
people in desperate need of permanent housing.

"The spy base has never served its alleged purpose.

"People were shot dead by loyalists there and shot dead
from the tower.

"It has invaded the privacy of people in west Belfast and
in Divis for many years and its great to see it go."

A spokesperson for the British Army said it was "pure
speculation" that Divis Tower would be demilitarised today
or indeed this week.

"At this stage in proceedings, the Ministry of Defence
keeps its estate and troop numbers under regular review,"
said the spokesperson.


Demilitarisation Plans Reaction

Leading figures have been reacting to demilitarisation
plans announced in response to the IRA ending its armed

These measures include disbanding the Northern Ireland-
based battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment.

A two-year plan to normalise security will see the closure
of Army observation posts and defortification of police
stations. The number of troops will be reduced from 10,500
to about 5,000 if the security climate is right.


Mr Paisley said the news of the RIR home battalions
disbandment would have a "profound effect" on the political
process in Northern Ireland.

The government's so-called normalisation programme will
have a profound effect on the political process in Northern

It is a surrender to the IRA and is further evidence of bad
faith on the part of the government.

We are appalled at the dishonest and dangerous approach of
the government with today's announcement of 'normalisation'
and we want to make it clear that it will pay a high price
for the approach that is being taken.


We have consistently raised the issue of the RIR, both its
sectarian make-up and its association with loyalism.

It's essentially part of the problem here.

Any comprehensive strategy to deal with demilitarisation of
our society must include the RIR.


Mr Attwood said the announcement was the "right thing to
do". He said that the biggest normalisation measures were
around policing and were driven by his party.

All of this exposes ever more the weakness of Sinn Fein on

They long ago ran out of excuses not to support the new
policing arrangements. Their attitude is now clearly out-


Sir Reg said the decision to disband the RIR's home
battalions was "supposed to have been taken only after
there had been time to test any move by the IRA".

Let us be clear. This is a political response to an IRA
statement which is vague.

Political expediency is being allowed to take the place of
common sense.

Further more, this decision flies in the face of a
statement by Secretary of Defence Geoff Hoon in 2003, in
which he gave an assurance that there were no plans to
disband the Home Service Battalions.


There was nothing in the IRA's recent statement to indicate
that it is wise to so radically repeal our current security
apparatus at the moment.

The IRA statement said nothing about accepting the
legitimacy of either the northern or southern state with
respect to policing and criminal justice.

The IRA statement said nothing about dismantling its
'front' organisations and organised crime networks.


Mr Reid welcomed the normalisation of security and paid
tribute to the dedication and sacrifice of service men,
women and civilians.

The armed forces will continue to support the police for as
long as the chief constable requires.

But we also look forward to the time, now clearly in sight,
when such support is no longer needed.

We will press on quickly with implementing normalisation
measures on the ground now.


The bottom line is that Sinn Fein must cooperate with the
Policing Board.

If they do so then the men of the Home Service Royal Irish
can stand down with pride that their mission has been


We all recognise the valuable and fundamental job for the
whole people of Northern Ireland undertaken by the Ulster
Defence Regiment and the Royal Irish Home Service.

These are people who stood in harm's way in some very dark

It is partly due to their sacrifice and effort that those
who would use violence against the democratic process have
now rejected violence.


Once there is clear evidence that republicans are matching
words with deeds, the government would be right to proceed
with a programme of normalisation.

But people in Northern Ireland want proof that the changed
climate hailed by ministers is both permanent and

Instead, it is the government that is rushing to implement
measures that are bound to be permanent and irreversible.

What is Mr Hain's plan if the IRA fails to deliver on its
promises, as has happened so many times before?

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/01 15:21:12 GMT


Paisley Condemns British Government's 'Surrender To The

By Paul O'Hare

DEMOCRATIC Unionist Party leader Reverend Ian Paisley
yesterday called the demilitarisation of Northern Ireland a
"surrender to the IRA."

He accused ministers of rushing key security decisions in
the province just days after the IRA announced it was to
decommission its weapons.

The DUP leader confirmed he would set out his party's
agenda when he meets Northern Secretary Peter Hain

Rev Paisley said: "The Government's so-called normalisation
programme will have a profound effect on the political
process in Northern Ireland.

"It is a surrender to the IRA and is further evidence of
bad faith on the part of the Government.

"We are appalled at the dishonest and dangerous approach of
the Government with today's announcement of 'normalisation'
and we want to make it clear that it will pay a high price
for the approach that is being taken."

Rev Paisley questioned how the Government could trust the
IRA so soon after the Provisionals vowed to give up their

He also claimed the decisions were based on a political
deal as opposed to security considerations.

"This bilateral agreement between the Government and the
IRA will have serious consequences for the political
process. The Secretary of State may believe that today's
statement will bring forward devolution but the reality is
that it will delay its return."

Rev Paisley also warned that the return of the Northern
Ireland Assembly would depend on the co-operation of his

He said: "The Secretary of State should be aware that of
all the political parties in Northern Ireland, the DUP need
devolution the least and while we have no control over many
decisions that the Government takes, we do have a veto on
the return of devolution.

"The Government may wish to avoid dealing with the DUP and
taking its decisions, but there are some things they cannot
do without the support of the unionist community.

"We alone will dictate when we enter negotiations with the
Government about devolution.

"We alone will dictate when, if ever, we enter discussions
with Sinn Féin and we alone will dictate when, if ever, and
in what circumstances, we enter an administration with Sinn
Féin. There is a price which we are not prepared to pay for
the return of devolution."

The DUP leader described plans to disband the Royal Irish
Regiment as a "scandalous betrayal."

Mr Paisley also took a swipe at the declining Ulster
Unionist Party.

"The era of pushover unionism is over," he said.

Rev Paisley said he also plans to raise his concerns with
British Prime Minister Tony Blair when they meet on


2002 Report Of Interest In Light Of IRA Statement

It's time to dust off a review of the Offences Against
the State Act, writes Carol Coulter.

It is three years since the publication of the report of
the committee, set up under the Belfast Agreement and
chaired by Mr Justice Anthony Hederman, to review the
Offences Against the State Act.

The committee contained legal academics, civil servants and
representatives of the Garda Síochána and reported in
August 2002.

It considered the legislation in the light of the new
situation and our obligations under international human
rights law, which had come into existence after the passing
of the main Act in 1939.

At the report's launch, Minister for Justice Michael
McDowell promised to consider the recommendations of both
the majority and the minority of the committee, the latter
made up of the chairman, along with Prof William Binchy and
Prof Dermot Walsh, who differed from the majority on a
number of important topics.

Nothing happened since, but the 400-page report contains
much that should be of interest to legislators now that the
IRA has stated definitively it is committed to exclusively
peaceful means of pursuing its objectives.

The sections of the Offences Against the State Act under
which the IRA is an illegal organisation are 18 and 19.
Sections 20 to 25 deal with actions that follow from the
declaration of an organisation to be an illegal
organisation, including the forfeiture of all its property
and assets. They also provide for an appeal against an

The Act itself does not declare the IRA to be illegal,
rather it empowers the government of the day to declare
that an organisation is illegal and to make a suppression
order. This means that it is an offence to be a member of
such an organisation and that its property becomes forfeit
to the State.

Section 18 defines an illegal organisation as one which
advocates treason; the alteration of the Constitution
through violence; raises or maintains an army; advocates
the attainment of any objective by criminal or unlawful
means; or advocates the withholding of funds from the

The committee recommended the repeal of this last item and
some modification of some of the other paragraphs, but
leaving the bulk of the section intact.

Section 19 empowers the Government to declare an
organisation illegal.

Two suppression orders have been made to date: the first in
1939 when "the Irish Republican Army otherwise Óglaigh na
hÉireann" was proscribed; the second in 1983, when the
Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) was made illegal.

Commenting on this section, the committee said: "These
organisations . . . usurped the functions of Dáil Éireann
by purporting, without democratic authority, to declare war
in the name of the Irish people and have engaged in a
campaign of violence.

"Over the years these organisations have frequently
resorted to murder, racketeering and intimidation . . .
these organisations have been banned principally because
they have constituted themselves as private armies which
have usurped the authority of the State by engaging in
paramilitary violence."

It recommends that the power to declare organisations
illegal should continue to rest with the government,
subject to the right to appeal to the High Court, which is
already part of the Act.

The committee also recommended that the 1939 Act be
expanded to ensure that, where appropriate, foreign
terrorist groups would be brought within its ambit, though
it acknowledged the difficulties in coming up with a
satisfactory definition of terrorism.

The Act also makes a number of specific actions, such as
the possession of explosives and arms, illegal,
irrespective of whether the perpetrator is a member of any

With its statement of last Thursday, the IRA has declared
an end to the activities described by the committee as the
reason for its being banned. It is therefore open to the
Government to rescind the order made in 1939.

The problem with this is that there have been a number of
splits in the IRA since 1939, and the banning order has
been held to refer to various fragments, including the
Continuity IRA and the Real IRA, neither of which has
indicated an end to its activities.

Nonetheless, it is not impossible to devise a form of words
that would cover organisations purporting to conduct a war
in the name of the Irish people, while allowing the
Provisional IRA to continue to exist in some form as a sort
of veterans' organisation.

This issue was only one of those dealt with in depth by the
review committee. It also considered the continued use of
the Special Criminal Court, in the light of the end of the
IRA campaign; the use of this court for "ordinary" crime;
the rights of suspects to have access to solicitors and the
statutory provision for internment.

However, the majority and the minority differed in their
proposals on how to reform these different areas.

© The Irish Times


Fingers Chopped In Attack

by Jarleth Kearney

A man almost lost two fingers in an apparent sectarian
attack in north Belfast yesterday.

The attack occured in the Brompton Park area of Ardoyne at
around 4am.

Reports indicate that a silver-coloured car pulled up
beside a local man as he walked home.

It is believed that two men and one woman emerged from the
car before attacking the local man with weapons, thought to
be machetes.

The local man, who is in his 20s, was later taken to
hospital with a serious hand injury.

Daily Ireland understands that two of the victim's fingers
were almost severed during the attack.

Sinn Féin councillor Margaret McClenaghan said: "Especially
after the loyalist-on-loyalist shooting on Saturday night,
which left a man dead, people in Catholic and nationalist
areas need to be alert.

"They particularly need to be aware of cars late at night
and continue to maintain a high level of vigilance. We know
from past experience that most of these feuds end up with a
Catholic being killed or seriously wounded. People need to
remember that."

The PSNI was called to the incident. The force confirmed
that an attack was being investigated.

A PSNI spokesperson said last night: "Inquiries are
continuing. A sectarian motive is one line of inquiry."


'Join The PSNI' Archbishop Urges

By Jarlath Kearney

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland last night
hailed the IRA's decision to end its armed campaign as
"potentially the most powerful" move by any paramilitary
organisation in four decades.

Catholic Primate of all-Ireland, Archbishop Seán Brady also
appealed to young Catholics to join the PSNI.

Archbishop Brady was speaking as part of Féile an Phobail
in west Belfast.

Delivering the annual St Oliver Plunkett talk entitled
'Born Free - What Freedom In Ireland Means To Me', he gave
his first substantive reaction to last Thursday's momentous

Archbishop Brady described the IRA statement as, in his
view, "potentially the most powerful, significant and
welcome move towards genuine freedom in Ireland to have
emerged from any paramilitary organisation since the
beginning of the troubles".

"By setting people free from the fear of violence, by
confining the search for freedom to purely democratic and
peaceful means, such actions open up the possibility of
addressing the deeper and more urgent dimensions of human
freedom," Archbishop Brady said.

"I hope that the words of the IRA are followed through. I
hope others will respond with the same level of
constructive thinking.

"Then, I am convinced, the way will be quite literally
'freed up' for new and previously unthinkable relationships
to develop between people, parties and even religious
leaders across this island and between this island and

Commending everyone who worked to bring about the IRA
statement, Archbishop Brady added: "Things will never be
the same again".

"We have all learnt too much from the pain of the past to
remain unchanged. Tragically, we have probably learnt most
from our collective mistakes.

"But I believe that Ireland today has never been closer to
the freedom for which she has yearned for so long. A new
era of peaceful and fruitful progress between her diverse
people and with her nearest neighbours is very close at
hand. I am utterly convinced of that."

Archbishop Brady stressed his belief that the futures of
Ireland and Britain are now completely interdependent.

"Any dreamy notion of an ethnically pure, totally
independent, 'British-free' concept of Irish Nationalism is
just unrealistic, antiquated and unachievable," Archbishop
Brady said.

"The relationship between Ireland and Britain is so complex
and intertwined that there is no future for either the
British or Irish traditions within the island of Ireland
without the other.

"The overwhelming endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement
by the people of this island north and south was an act of
self-determination. It aims at drawing an irreversible
moral line under the complexities of the past.

"It established the principle of majority consent, with the
assurance of continued devolution in Northern Ireland, as
the democratic and peaceful way of resolving this
historically difficult issue.

"The latest IRA statement is bound to spark debate about
the issue of a united Ireland. I hope it will also allow
that debate to occur in a freer and much more constructive,
perhaps less emotive atmosphere.

"What is still unclear, however, is to what extent elements
of the unionist and loyalist tradition are also willing to
commit to taking part in such a debate on purely peaceful
and democratic terms.

"Part of the moral complexity of our past, was the part
played by the threat of violence from the Unionist
community in the decision to create Northern Ireland as a
separate entity," Archbishop Brady said.

He voiced hope that in coming months "this issue will be
subjected to the same level of scrutiny, political
determination and media interest as has quite properly
focused on the issue of the threat of republican violence
in the past".

Archbishop Brady said that the "defence and promotion of
human rights is essential" in the successful development of
indivudals, people and nations, as well as the building of
a peaceful society. He also said he believed that the PSNI
could now be changed from within and should be supported by
the entire community.


Shoot To Kill: Getting Away With State Murder

Eamonn McCann • 31 July 2005

Many people in Northern Ireland nodded in recognition when
they heard of Jean Charles de Menezes being shot repeatedly
in the head as he lay face-down and helpless on the floor
of a tube train at Stockwell.

They will have recalled Sean Savage, an unarmed member of
the IRA, shot 16 times at point-blank range by plain-
clothes members of the SAS in Gibraltar in March 1998 after
he'd put his hands up in surrender. The SAS immediately
claimed, and most of the media reported as fact, that
they'd believed he'd been about to trigger a bomb. Two
other unarmed IRA members were gunned down on the same

Although the European Court of Human Rights later found the
killings unlawful, no action was ever taken against the

18-year old Peter McBride was unarmed, inoffensive and a
member of no political or paramilitary organisation,
walking home one night in north Belfast in September 1992,
when two members of the Scots Guards, Fisher and Wright,
chased him along the street before taking aim and shooting
him in the back. They said he'd made a "sudden movement"
and might have been intent on throwing a "coffee-jar bomb."

Their commanding officer, Col. Tim Spicer, told an army
board later that if he'd had his way the killers would have
been commended, given back their rifles and sent out to
complete their patrol.

After a huge outcry in Northern Ireland, Fisher and Wright
Fisher were charged and convicted of murder. Both were
released on the orders of Mo Mowlam after serving two years
and taken back into their regiment, with back pay restored.
Fisher has since been promoted. The pair are now believed
to be serving in Basra.

Their commander, Spicer, now heads the private security
company Aegis, employing mainly ex-soldiers, which has just
won a $293 million contract from the Pentagon to provide
"specialist security personnel and expertise" in Iraq.

Kevin McGovern, 19, a student at an agricultural college,
was on his way to a disco in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone in
September 1991, carrying a can of beer, when a RUC man shot
him in the back. The cops claimed that when challenged by a
patrol, he "took up the standard aiming stance for a
pistol-revolver." A policeman charged with murder was
acquitted: the judge found that although his actions were
unreasonable, his belief in that the teenager might have
been about to shoot him was not! The killer was reinstated
in the police.

In the course of the Northern conflict, police and soldiers
have killed 357 people, About 150 of these were members of
Republican paramilitary organisations, not all of whom were
armed at the time. 189 of the victims were unarmed
civilians. The Scots Guards are the only individuals with
murder convictions as a result of these deaths.

Families and friends of the dead have faced formidable
difficulties in seeking the truth.

There's the unwillingness or inability of the political and
judicial establishment to accept that the State condones
not just trigger-happy police and soldiers and occasionally
irresponsible behaviour, but deliberate murder. They shut
their minds against the possibility. Or rather, against
admission of the possibility.

There's the notion of no smoke without fire, that for all
the apparent innocence of the victim, he or she must have
said or done something to "send out the wrong signal" and
attract the lethal attentions of the killers.

There's the operation of deep-set prejudice against the
category of people from the whom the victim is most likely
to come. In the North, for example, 86 percent of non-
paramilitary civilian victims of State killings in the last
30 years have been Catholics.

And there's the fact that the media and other more subtle
manipulators of opinion will set out deliberately to ensure
that a false account is first into the public domain and
therefore likely to overshadow the truth when and if it
eventually emerges.

Most important, perhaps, is the insidious idea that,
whatever the truth of a particular incident, to make much
of it is to "play into the hands of the terrorists."
There's a risk of drawing down the wrath of the State onto
oneself---undergoing the same demonisation and
marginalisation which may have played a part in the killing
in the first place.

As a result, many who will speak up after a State killing
for human rights and against State excess will take care to
explain that they are not blaming the State generally or
challenging the right of the State to use lethal force to
"protect the public." They just want reassurance things
were done properly in this instance. Or if not, that the
"mistake" will be noted, "lessons learned."

They balk at the plain obvious truth of killings like the
killing of Jean Charles de Menezess because the implication
of the truth is that State forces routinely kill innocent
citizens and routinely get away with it and that any
working-class person who puts trust in the police or army
is a fool.


Satire: A Momentous, Historic, Courageous And Confident

Jimmy Sands • 31 July 2005

The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann has formally ordered
an end to the armed campaign. This will take effect from
4pm this afternoon. The historic significance of this step
is that the armed struggle which ceased completely in 1994,
and again in 1997, has now also ended. This in turn leads
to the possibility that in the near future it may stop, or
even finish.

All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms.

All Volunteers have been instructed to assist the
development of purely political and democratic programmes
through ostensibly peaceful means. Volunteers must not
engage in any other activities whatsoever. Not of course
that we admit they were engaging in any such activities
before. This means that all such activities will no longer
be our fault.

The IRA leadership has also authorised our representative
to engage with the IICD to complete the process to
verifiably put its arms beyond use in a way which will
further enhance public confidence, as if it were not sky
high enough already, and to conclude this as quickly as
possible. We have invited two independent witnesses, from
the Protestant (tba) and Catholic (Fr. Sean McManus)
churches, to testify to this. All parties will take our
word for this and we will hear no more about it.

The Army Council took these decisions followed by an
unprecedented internal discussion and consultation process
with IRA units and Volunteers.

We appreciate the honest and forthright way in which the
consultation process was carried out and the depth and
content of the submissions. Your views are important to us.
We regret that it is not possible to reply to all the
contributions we received. We are proud of the comradely
way in which this truly historic discussion was conducted.
No correspondence will be entered into. The good news
though is that there will be medals. Tasteful too. Robert
Ballagh. No rubbish.

The outcome of our consultations show very strong support
among IRA Volunteers for the Sinn Féin peace strategy,
indeed the party remains significantly ahead of the SDLP in
this key demographic. There is also widespread concern
about the failure of the two governments and the unionists,
indeed absolutely everyone except us, to fully engage in
the peace process. This has created real difficulties. The
overwhelming majority of people in Ireland fully support
this process. Our feedback also tells us that the same
overwhelming majority in Ireland votes Sinn Fein and reads
the Daily Ireland. They and friends of Irish unity
throughout the world want to see the full implementation of
what we have told them is in the Good Friday Agreement, and
overwhelmingly plan to get round to reading it some time.

Notwithstanding these difficulties our decisions have been
taken to advance our republican and democratic objectives,
including our goal of a united Ireland. We believe there is
now an alternative way to achieve this and to end British
rule in our country and one which we believe will prove
every bit as successful as the last one we tried.

It is the responsibility of all Volunteers to show
leadership, determination and courage. Orders in respect of
other abstract nouns will follow in due course. We are very
mindful of the sacrifices of our patriot dead, those who
went to jail, especially those who went to jail last week,
Volunteers, their families and the wider republican base.
We reiterate our view that the armed struggle was entirely
legitimate in spite of the extent of our suffering. We are
however, ending it as part of a wider management strategy
of abandoning unprofitable non-core activities. Make no
mistake, had it not been for the valiant efforts of our
Volunteers, Ireland would still be partitioned to this day.

We are conscious that many people suffered in the conflict.
There is a compelling imperative on all sides to build a
just and lasting peace. Victims and perpetrators alike are,
in our view, equally responsible.

The issue of the defence of nationalist and republican
communities has been raised with us. There is a
responsibility on society to ensure that there is no re-
occurrence of the pogroms of 1969 and the early 1970s, or
the backchat and pint-spilling of January 2005. There is
also a universal responsibility to tackle sectarianism in
all its forms.

The IRA is fully committed to the goals of Irish unity and
independence and to building the Republic outlined in the
1916 Proclamation. Terms and Conditions apply.

We call for maximum unity and effort by Irish republicans
everywhere. We are confident that by working together Irish
republicans can achieve our objectives and possibly even
some of theirs. Every Volunteer is aware of the import of
the decisions we have taken. Nevertheless, all Óglaigh are
compelled to fully comply with these orders.

There is now an unprecedented opportunity to utilise the
considerable energy, goodwill and, let's face it, cash,
which there is for the peace process. This comprehensive
series of unparalleled initiatives is our contribution to
this and to the continued endeavours to bring about
independence, and unity for the people of Ireland and let's
hear no more about the Northern Bank shall we?

Finally, no statement from us would be complete without a
definite commitment and timetable for taking our place
within the new policing structures and declaring
unambiguously that all criminal activity will end.

P Mo Thon


Shell Ordered To Dismantle Pipeline

Oil giant Shell has been ordered to dismantle a three-
kilometre gas pipeline in the west of Ireland which had
been constructed without permission.

By:Press Association

The pipeline, which is intended to transport gas from the
Corrib gas field off the coast of County Mayo to an onshore
refinery, has led to widespread protests and the jailing of
five men opposed to it.

Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Minister Noel
Dempsey said Shell had welded together a section of the
pipeline without permission.

"What I`m ordering them to do now is to undo the length of
pipeline they welded," he said.

The method of supervising the €900m project will also be
changed, with departmental inspectors carrying out the
monitoring rather than Shell itself.

"What we will have is authorised officers who will be able
to go on site of any of the Shell works during the
remainder of this project. They will be able to do so
unannounced and without any prior notice," said Mr Dempsey.

Mr Dempsey had written to Shell over a week ago informing
it of the breach and had been told in response that the
company regretted the action.

However, he said Shell would still be given ministerial
consent to complete the pipeline once it met the technical

The construction of the pipeline has led to safety concerns
among local residents in Rossport, County Mayo.

Five men were jailed nearly six weeks ago for refusing to
obey a High Court order preventing them from obstructing
the construction work on their land.

The men known as the Rossport Five - Micheal O`Seighin,
Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin, and brothers Vincent and
Philip McGrath - have pledged to remain in Cloverhill
Prison in Dublin until their concerns about the safety of
the pipeline are addressed.

They want the gas to be refined offshore rather than
transported along the pipeline beside their homes to the
onshore refinery.

Mr Dempsey has commissioned a safety review, which is
expected to take around six weeks to complete.

"The protesters started out on this protest expressing real
fears and concerns. I think some of those fears and
concerns were based on misinformation about high pressure
gas going through the pipe at 345 bars which is not going
to happen," he told RTE radio.

He said there was now clear evidence that the Department
was taking an active role in monitoring the pipeline.

However, he said the Rossport Five would remain in jail
until they purged their contempt of court.

"That is a matter between them and the courts," he said.

Shell has announced that 91 jobs will be lost at the site
due to the delay in construction work.


Dingle Teachers Conferred With Papal Knighthood

Anne Lucey

A couple who devoted their lives to teaching and to
setting up a secondary school on the Dingle peninsula have
been conferred with a knighthood, by order of Pope Benedict

Bishop of Kerry Dr Bill Murphy presented the order to Aodán
and Síle Ó Maolchatha at St Brendan's Church, Cloghane, at
the foot of Mount Brandon on Sunday.

The new Knight of the Order of St Sylvester and his Dame
will now be able to take Communion on horseback. Apparently
one of the privileges of some papal orders is that the
knight does not have to dismount. "However, I am very sorry
to say we will never take advantage of that," said Dame

The honorary title of Knight of St Sylvester is conferred
on lay people who have given long service to their
community and their profession. Women were admitted to the
order in the mid-1990s.

The conferring of couples in the order is very rare and the
Ó Maolchathas are one of only a handful of couples to have
received it.

In 1961 the couple returned from Nigeria to Síle's native
Cloghane to set up a secondary school that would be "as
Irish as it could be". Síle taught French, Irish and
English in Mheánscoil Leitriúigh, while Aodán taught maths,
science and Latin. Both are now retired but the school is
continuing and being replaced by a new building in nearby
Castlegregory. Over the past 34 years it has produced
doctors, teachers, lawyers and a range of professions and

Five of the couple's six children - one is in Australia -
were present at Sunday's conferring.

© The Irish Times
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