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September 19, 2005

Catholic Town Watches As Rancor Grows

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News about Ireland & the Irish

AB 09/19/05 Catholic Town Watches As Rancor Grows
EX 09/19/05 Colombia Told Request Will Be Considered
EX 09/19/05 Poll: Signs Say Coalition Will Be Returned
EX 09/19/05 40% Don't Ever Want Sinn Féin In Power
CW 09/19/05 Evangelicals Condemn Northern Ireland Violence
US 09/19/05 Clinton Carves Out Global Role


A Catholic Town Watches Quietly As Protestant Rancor Grows

In a role reversal, Protestants in Belfast clashed with
police as the center for Catholic resistance remained calm.

By James Brandon

speak, the sudden roar of an aircraft engine cuts him off.
A British Army helicopter bursts through the clouds and
skims the rooftops of this Catholic town in County Armagh
six miles from the border with Ireland.

"The army is still here but people have got jobs now; the
peace process has given them a bit of hope," the man shouts
over the fading roar of the engines, referring to the 1998
Good Friday peace accord. "Now we can just go about our
lives just like anybody else in the country."

Across Northern Ireland, the balance of power is slowly
shifting. While Protestant gangs clashed with security
services for several days last week after a traditional
Protestant march was rerouted from Catholic areas, among
many Catholics there is a small but growing sense of

"The perception among Unionists is that the peace process
has worked against them; that they've been the losers,"
says Adrian Guelke, professor of comparative politics at
Queen's University, Belfast. "The Catholics don't see
themselves as the winners, but the way the Loyalists are
reacting to the peace process is starting to make them
believe that they may actually have won."

In few places is this slow shift in attitudes and in the
traditional balance of power more visible than in
Crossmaglen. For 30 years this farming town was the
epicenter of armed Catholic resistance to British rule.
Republican guerrillas here killed more than 100 soldiers
and 60 policemen since 1969.

Today the Irish Republican Army's orange and green banners
still flutter around the square. The British army airlifts
supplies and men into its bases, but the guns are silent as
Republicans seem to accept that violence will only
jeopardize their political gains.

"There's a real air of optimism at the moment," says Gerry
Murray, editor of The Cross Examiner, Crossmaglen's
newspaper. "The observation towers are coming down and
it'll be nice to feel that you're not being watched the
whole time."

But even as Britain withdraws it troops and gradually
demolishes its web of camouflaged watchtowers, armored
police stations, and swarms of security cameras, many
locals are coming to terms with the changes, and in
particular, the televised scenes of a new multifaith police
force battling Protestants rioters in Belfast.

"It's very strange. For a long, long time we saw the police
as controlling and restraining the Catholic people," says
Mr. Murray. "The police were always seen as a Protestant
police so we see it as the Protestants attacking their own
police force."

With an identity rooted in oppression and struggle, many
Catholics are reluctant to recognize the success of
Republicanism, still driven by bitter memories of the
British "occupation."

"The soldiers never used to knock first," recalls one local
woman as she drives through the area's green-flanked,
winding roads, her car dashboard decorated with assorted
Jesus and Mary figurines. "My father was always being
lifted [arrested] by the British."

But the slow pace of the peace process, the uneven economic
spoils of peace, and lingering questions over the IRA's
secretive destruction of its formidable arsenal still make
the return of widespread violence an ever-present

But while the Loyalist militancy is fueled by Protestant
politicians who denounce the peace process as rewarding
terrorism, Republican legislators can easily restrain their
followers by remaining loyal to the IRA's goal of a united

"The IRA have said they believe that the struggle should be
continued but only though peaceful means," says Davy
Hyland, Sinn Fein assembly member for Newry Armagh, which
includes Crossmaglen. "We need to take their mantle up to
move the process forward."

And while working-class Protestants still suffer from the
collapse of Northern Ireland's manufacturing and ship-
building industries, analysts say Republican politicians
are keen for their voters to embrace new technologies and
tourism and mimic Ireland's transformation into a dynamic
"Celtic Tiger" economy.

"These are the things that we need to keep young people
away from violence," says Mr. Hyland. "And there's still a
lot of work to be done."



Colombia Told Request Will Be Considered

By Ann Cahill, New York

THE Colombian government was assured their request to
extradite three Sinn Féin members from Ireland would be
given full consideration by the Attorney General (AG) and
the Department of Justice yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Colombian foreign minister revealed that
much of their fledgling peace process was based on the Good
Friday agreement and she thanked Ireland for contributing
€390,000 to a fund supporting the process.

Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern met his Colombian
counterpart, Carolina Barco, in New York yesterday where he
was addressing the United Nations general assembly.

He told her the 400-page document received last Wednesday
requesting the extradition of Niall Connolly, 38, from
Dublin, Martin McCauley, 41, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, and
James Monaghan, 58, from Donegal, was currently being
translated from Spanish. It would then be considered by the
AG and the department.

However, there is no extradition treaty between the two

The three jumped bail after they were sentenced to 17 years
in jail in Colombia last year for training FARC guerrillas
in explosives techniques. They unexpectedly turned up in
Dublin in July.

Ms Barco said the Peace Law recently introduced in Colombia
was partly based on the Good Friday Agreement, especially
in relation to allowing guerrilla members found guilty of
crimes to be released on licence.


Irish Examiner Poll - Signs Say Coalition Will Be Returned

WITH the Coalition under growing pressure, Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern would be lying if he feigned disinterest in the
findings of today's Irish Examiner poll, the most up-to-
date snapshot of how voters rate the political parties.

Three years ago, few predicted the Fianna Fáil-PD marriage
would end up mired in problems ranging from the Eddie Hobbs
factor and local election setbacks to ministerial
controversies, plus a re-oriented opposition offering
voters a tantalising prospect of alternative government.

Facing a general election in less than 18 months, Fianna
Fáil will take solace from the national opinion poll
conducted by Lansdowne Market Research.

Having held power for 18 of the past 20 years, the
country's biggest party seems to consist of a teflon-cum-
asbestos alloy, making it impervious to criticism.

Especially surprising is that despite mounting blame this
Government for Ireland's rip-off culture, support levels
for Fianna Fáil remain buoyant.

According to today's poll, the party enjoys a 38% support
level, giving it a three-point lead over the combined 35%
backing for Fine Gael (23%) and the Labour Party (12%).

That will be a severe disappointment to the leaders of the
proposed Fine Gael-Labour partnership unveiled at the
Mullingar accord. From an opposition viewpoint, if these
findings were echoed in the next election, the two parties
would be in no position to form a government without the
support of the Green Party (up two points from 2002 at 6%)
and others.

But even after juggling the figures the combined strength
of a blue, red and green rainbow would amount to 41%, two
percentage points behind the Government parties combined
total of 43%. At 5%, support for the PDs is up one point
from 2002.

It is debatable whether the coalition has bounced back or
has simply deflected the worst effects of the Eddie Hobbs
Rip Off Ireland TV series. In pragmatic terms, however, the
telling aspect of the poll is that while the gap has been
closed somewhat between the existing coalition and the Fine
Gael-led option, clear water still exists between the
Government parties and the Fine Gael-Labour alternative.

Judging by Sinn Féin's 10% support level, the party appears
to have peaked yet the three points gained since 2002 will
mean extra seats.

Surprisingly, while 52% felt Sinn Féin should go into
government subject to varying conditions, including
decommission, 39% said they should not go into power under
any circumstances.

Nor was it all plain sailing for the Taoiseach in the
beauty contest between party leaders. Some 36% of voters
voiced dissatisfaction with Mr Ahern compared to 19% for
Enda Kenny and only 18% for Pat Rabbitte.

Disappointment too for PD leader Mary Harney as only 37%
were happy with her while 38% were dissatisfied and 31%
found her ineffective in the Health brief.

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent has an image deficit with
30% not saying they don't know how they feel about him.

Considering his meteoric rise in popularity, Sinn Féin's
Gerry Adams gets a satisfaction rating of only 31% nowadays
while 34% were dissatisfied with him.

There is brighter news for Mr Ahern, whose overall
satisfaction rating of 44% is four points higher than the
40% achieved by both Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte.

After their flattering performance in the 2002 election,
when the Fine Gael vote collapsed, the coalition parties
will face a much tougher contest next time out.

Yet, based on the findings of the Irish Examiner poll, all
the signs are that Fianna Fáil and the PDs would be
returned to power again, albeit by a narrow margin and with
the help of independents, if a general election were held


40% Don't Ever Want Sinn Féin In Power

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

DEEP uncertainty among the electorate about the credibility
of Sinn Féin's transition to purely democratic politics is
reflected in the findings of the Irish Examiner/Lansdowne
Market Research opinion poll.

The two key questions relating to the wherewithal of the
republican movement suggest sharply divided views among

Late last year, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot
Ahern said it was only a matter of time before SF would
become involved in government in the South.

While the Cabinet subsequently rowed back considerably from
that position following the Northern Bank raid and the
McCartney murder it is clear that a majority of voters now
feel that the party has sufficient credentials to
participate in Government.

Asked about their attitudes to Sinn Féin, a majority, 52%,
of those polled expressed approval for the proposition of
SF joining a coalition government after the next election.

Of those, 14% agreed with the unconditional statement: "I
would like to see Sinn Féin in a coalition government after
the next election."

The vast majority of this group was comprised of SF

But a further 38% said they would like to see SF in a
coalition government after the next elections only if all
IRA activity has ended, in line with the IRA's recent

In contrast, 39% said they would not countenance SF
participation in a coalition government under any

Unsurprisingly, most opposition came from FG and PD

However, a different picture emerges from voters' attitudes
to the IRA statement in late July.

Asked about their confidence in the IRA ceasing all
activities as declared in the statement, a significantly
higher number of those polled, some 48% expressed a lack
of, or no, confidence compared to 42% who expressed
themselves fairly or very confident.

This indicates some degree of conditionality on the part of

There is a significant overlap between those who do not
believe activities will cease and those who would like to
see SF in coalition, only if activities cease.

That, in turn, suggests that the political instinct of the
Government to put the question of SF participation in a
coalition on the back burner is probably correct.

A total of 71% of those who intend to vote for SF believe
activities will cease. In contrast, 57% of Labour voters
express a significant lack of confidence.


Evangelicals Condemn Northern Ireland Violence

Belfast, Sep. 19 ( - Evangelical leaders in
Northern Ireland have joined in condemning violence against
Catholic communities there.

"We are simply appalled at the continuing violence on the
streets, and ashamed that some who share our Evangelical
faith will not condemn it," said Stephen Cave, the general
secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Northern Ireland.
"As an Alliance we condemn this behavior unequivocally."

The statement came after a week in which Protestant
paramilitary groups threw gasoline bombs in dozens of
Catholic neighborhoods, in the worst outbreak of violence
in Northern Ireland for several years. Extremist groups
have called Protestants in the region to activism,
protesting what they see as the British government's
concessions to the nationalist supporters the Irish
Republican Army (IRA). The IRA has been hailed by British
officials for its July announcement that it would renounce
violence, and the release of a convicted IRA bomber has
been seen by some loyalist groups as a betrayal.

Evangelical leader Stephen Cave pointed a finger at one of
those loyalist organizations, denouncing the Orange Order
for stirring up violent protests. "The Orange Order, which
on its website claims to be Christ-centered, Bible-based,
and Church-grounded, has surely moved far from these roots
when it calls people on to the streets, knowing in all
probability that would lead to civil unrest," Cave said.
"It is unacceptable that the Order has been slow to speak
out or unequivocally condemn the violence that ensued,
particularly that perpetrated by its own members."


Clinton Carves Out Global Role

NEW YORK — It had the look of a revival meeting.

At the closing session of his Global Initiative conference
last week, Bill Clinton stood atop a circular stage
surrounded by rows of his faithful — people who had come
from around the world to pay homage to his notion of the
global village. The former president walked about the stage
for more than an hour speaking without the aid of notes
about the things that should be done to wipe out poverty,
end religious conflicts, control climate change and
encourage good governance.

It was a mesmerizing performance, one in which Clinton
quoted Scripture and called the financial backers of his
plan to the stage in much the same way that black preachers
usher tithers before their congregations. In all, Clinton
raised nearly $1.3 billion.

Nearly five years after leaving office, and nearly seven
years after the U.S. House impeached him for lying about
violating his marital vows, Clinton has become a moral
force on the world stage.

"Why are we obligated to help other people?" Clinton asked.
"Yes, it's in our interest, but it's also morally right,"
he said in answer to his question. "It's the right thing to

I know such a characterization will cause many Clinton
bashers to wail inconsolably, but those who do are probably
motivated more by their lack of faith in human redemption
than by religious conviction.

"He's showing that you don't need formal authority. You can
have moral authority and be a player — not positional
authority, but moral authority," said Rodney Slater, who
served as secretary of Transportation during Clinton's
presidency. And what about Clinton's adulterous
relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a personal failing that
he long ago admitted? "In many ways, it's a personal crisis
like that which drives you to a position of moral
authority," Slater said.

World crusade, shadow government

In fact, Clinton seems to have found a new calling. His
work for a better planet is part crusade, part shadow world
government. His call for a global initiative — a
partnership among politicians, religious leaders,
entrepreneurs and activists — to do what the world's
nations haven't been able to achieve drew an eclectic mix
of people to his inaugural global conference.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sinn Fein leader
Gerry Adams were there. So were actors Leonardo DiCaprio
and Barbra Streisand; Democrat John Glenn and United
Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Also Republicans Paul
Wolfowitz and Condoleezza Rice; the Rev. Jesse Jackson and
Jordanian King Abdullah.

Clinton's initiative also holds a lot of promise. Getting
people to talk across politics, geography and ideology
about the problems that plague our world is an impressive
undertaking. Getting them to agree to work together, beyond
the existing structures of international relations, holds
out much hope for the future.

Scant coverage by U.S. journalists

Unfortunately, the gathering was more heavily covered by
foreign journalists than the U.S. news media. That's too
bad. The work Clinton pledged to battle the spread of AIDS
in Africa, religious conflicts in the Middle East and
changing weather patterns brought on by global warming
deserves the attention of Americans.

"I've reached an age now where it doesn't matter whatever
happens to me. I just don't want anyone to die before their
time," Clinton said. "I've asked you here because I think
all of us have an unprecedented power to solve problems,
save lives and help people see the future."

Of course, Clinton isn't the first former president to
carve out a special place for himself. Jimmy Carter won the
Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his efforts to end conflicts
and promote democracy. But he was largely a single actor.
Clinton is creating a movement.

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence
of things not seen," Clinton said of his determination to
solve some of the problems his global initiative is taking
on. It was the kind of use of biblical Scripture that would
make any evangelist proud.

DeWayne Wickham writes weekly for USA TODAY.

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