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September 27, 2005

Explosive At GAA Club

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 09/27/05 Explosive Device Discovered At GAA Club
DI 09/27/05 Opin: Disarming Is A Brave But Dangerous Move
DI 09/27/05 Opin: IRA Move Means No More Excuses
BL 09/27/05 Unionists Must Trust IRA Disarmament- Mitchell
BT 09/27/05 Church Leader Utterly Certain Guns Have Gone
BT 09/27/05 Clerics Renowned For Peace Efforts
BT 09/27/05 Durkan Welcomes IRA Decision
BB 09/27/05 Doubts Cloud End Of IRA Guns
IO 09/27/05 Politicians 'Stalling Progress Of PSNI Reforms'
IT 09/27/05 'They're Liars. How Many Guns Are Stashed?'
GU 09/27/05 Opin: Republicanism Is History
ST 09/27/05 Opin: A Farewell To Arms, But Not To Violence
EX 09/27/05 Opin: We Should Be Grateful; Applaud? Never
FT 09/27/05 Road To Normal Economy Damaged By Violent Past
IO 09/27/05 AI: Govt Not Protecting Human Rights In Ireland
AI 09/27/05 AI: Annual HRBA Conference


Crude Explosive Device Discovered

A crude explosive device has been discovered near
Magherafelt in County Londonderry.

Army technical experts dealt with the object on the
Castledawson Road on Monday night.

A gaelic football club was evacuated during the alert. The
device also contained fireworks.

Police have appealed for information and asked people to be
vigilant and report any suspicious activity to detectives
in Magherafelt.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/27 06:41:52 GMT


Opin: Disarming Is A Brave But Dangerous Move

Damien Kiberd

A massive march assembled at Dublin's Parnell Square on
Saturday. Thousands of republicans assembled next to a
place a called the "Garden of Remembrance".

The purpose of the march was to press the case for Irish
unity and for national self-determination.

In the course of his subsequent address to the crowd, the
Uachtaran of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams indicated that he
expected that the British Army, the PSNI and the unionist
paramilitaries would respond in a meaningful way to the
acts of IRA decommissioning which are being widely
reported, though not confirmed by the Sinn Fein leadership.

The choice of the point of departure was apposite. There is
a large ornamental lake in the Garden of Remembrance and at
the base of the lake is a mosaic depicting broken spears
and swords. The creators of the lake held that at the end
of every period of conflict the Celtic warriors simply
broke their weapons in half and dumped them in a nearby
lake, as an indication that they intended to maintain the
peace permanently.

Hopefully this is a symbol of what has taken place in
republican Ireland in recent weeks with the decommissioning
of IRA weapons. I have a strange feeling that an unarmed
republican movement will be far more difficult to deal with
than one which has been armed to the gills for decades.
Certainly the behaviour of loyalists in recent weeks and
days indicates that this is the case. Who would imagine
that the response of militant loyalism to the effective
mothballing of the IRA would be to launch a massive attack
on their own customised security force - the PSNI?

Will there be any reciprocity on the part of the British
government or loyalists?

Clearly the British Army has been dismantling watchtowers
along the border and elements in the PSNI may have decided
to confront loyalists involved in deadly sectarian
violence. Does this mean that the loyalist paramilitaries
have decided to take a new direction?

It was always held that their violence was reactive. A
study of history in the 20th century suggests that their
violence was not in any sense reactive, but was primarily
psychopathic in character.

The IRA is taking a massive risk in all of this. Everybody
in the upper reaches of the Republican Movement knows that
the reason the modern IRA was created was not because of
any belief in a united Ireland but because of a practical
need to defend Catholic districts, mainly in Belfast.

Consult Brendan Anderson's excellent biography of Joe
Cahill (Joe Cahill: A Life in the IRA published by the
O'Brien Press) and you will get the point. Referring to the
events of August 1969 Cahill describes rambling around the
Divis Street area looking for ways to protect his community
from the combined attack of B Special police and loyalists,
some of whom openly wore gunbelts.

"Liam McParland had been appointed by the IRA to look after
the area that night. I met him in Divis Street. He had been
interned with me in the 1950s. I asked him what was
happening and he said that he did not know but that he had
been given a certain item by the (IRA high command in
Dublin). He showed me an anti-personnel grenade. He said
that shortly after it was given to him he discovered it was
unarmed and contained no explosive, no fuse, nothing. I can
remember the anger in that man's eyes and in his voice. He
had been searching for a member of the Belfast Battalion
staff - any member. He could not find these people. He did
not know where they had gone."

This was when Cathal Goulding was in charge of the IRA.

Cahill told biographer Anderson: "This (McParland) was a
member of the IRA talking about his leadership. I am
convinced to this day that there was a master plan to run
down the IRA and go purely political. The leadership
was…well warned".

The problem is that the events of 1969 were not an
aberation or an isolated incident. Catholic families had
been attacked, murdered and burned out in almost every
decade of the 20th century.

One has to ask what the republican movement will do if
loyalists revert to their previous form and simply decide
to burn out their neighbours? It is a magnificent thing to
"dump arms" and issue a challenge to everybody else in the
political world, but in practical terms what will
republicans do if loyalists attack districts occupied by

Decommissioning is of course the correct course of action
for the IRA. Ever since Tony Blair gave a side letter to
David Trimble at the time of the 1998 agreement, the issue
has bedevilled the political process.

The republican movement never negotiated an agreement that
involved the disarmament of the republican movement-
especially given the presence of 100,000 legally held
firearms on the unionist side, of loyalist militias
(effectively controlled by the British) and of groups like
the RUC and RIR. Blair decided to give his undertaking to
Trimble and now we have arrived at a point where the IRA
has issued a "dump arms" order to its volunteers.

It is, as I say, a welcome development, but it also a
dangerous one.

If the loyalist mob decides to turn on its Catholic
neighbour, then who will protect those who are targets? It
is by no means clear.

The evidence of history suggests that there will be worse
to come.

The basic decision of the republican leadership is correct.
For 11 years the issue of IRA weapons has been used as a
red herring to prevent political progress. Most of the
offensive weaponry - infantry rifles, rockets and the like
- has not been used at all since the late 1980s.

In many ways it is a pity that the process was not
accelerated at an earlier date with the completion of IRA

Presumably the British and Irish governments will now
shoulder their responsibility for the defence of Catholic
districts in Belfast, should it be necessary to defend them
from loyalist mobs.

They should- if they wish- consult the case file of a Miss
Susan McCormack a Catholic who worked as a Catholic
doctor's receptionist in Donegall Pass in June 1922.

Miss McCormack answered a distress call to the door and
found a gang of loyalists outside. She told them the doctor
was not at home. They rushed the hall, knocked her down,
kicked her about the body and head and face, poured petrol
on her clothes and hair and set her alight.

In unshockable Belfast, even the unionist press was upset.

The Belfast Telegraph said "the setting alight of the
clothes of a servant was a deed of unqualified shame…those
who descended to an act so contemptible and cruel should be
hunted out of society. They are not fit to be at large."

Some 20,000 Catholics left Belfast permanently that month -
some to Dublin, others to Glasgow.

In a sense, they had been decommissioned.

Damien Kiberd is a writer and broadcaster. A presenter for
Newstalk 106 in Dublin, he was previously editor of the
Sunday Business Post.


Opin: IRA Move Means No More Excuses

Even as we await the formal announcement today that the IRA
has decommissioned its arms, the usual suspects are issuing
the same old siren warnings in the same wearying tone.

The news of the republican movement moving into entirely
political mode is clearly something that terrifies
unionism, primarily because it strips them of an excuse not
to engage with republicans, but also because it shatters
the image they have of themselves as the eternal victims.

Anywhere else, the move away from militancy to peaceful
politics and accompanying acts of disarmament and
confidence-building might be occasions for relief, or even
celebration. Here, though, those very acts become another
field of conflict.

As unionists continue to complain about what's been
decommissioned, who saw it, when it happened and
deconstruct every last detail, they are seemingly
gloriously impervious to the fact that they are indulging
in hypocrisy on an ocean-going scale.

Even as loyalist paramilitaries were attempting to murder
Catholics, PSNI officers and British soldiers during fierce
violence in the wake of the rerouted Springfield parade,
they were assured of their place on the North and West
Belfast Parades Forum where they sit shoulder to shoulder
with... those very same unionists who are getting so het up
about today's anticipated announcement. IRA guns that
aren't being used, bad; UVF guns being used nightly, not a

This rank hypocrisy is something that unionists may be
comfortable with, but it is something that both the Irish
and British governments not only have to acknowledge, but
must punish as well. If it were up to Ian Paisley,
meaningful political dialogue with republicans would never
take place.

If, as expected, the announcement today that
decommissioning has taken place to the satisfaction of
Dublin and London, then they must make the reinstatement of
the democratic structures collapsed by unionists their
number one priority. Feet must go under the table sooner
rather than later, and if there are empty chairs at that
table, then so be it.

In other words, the pace of progress cannot be dictated by
parties whose interests are in maintaining the status quo,
the pace of change must be dictated by those working
proactively to bring it about.

If we have learnt anything from the widespread violence in
recent weeks, it is that unionist opposition to violence is
not a fundamental political tenet; unionist opposition to
violence is predicated on who is responsible. When the UVF
shoots, bombs and burns, the unionist response is not to
angrily condemn or to urge an ever stronger security
response; it is to prevaricate and excuse. An IRA move this
week has the potential to transform the landscape so
comprehensively that, finally, the Irish and British
governments can take their courage in their hands and press
ahead with restoring the political institutions. We live in


Unionists Must Trust Ira Disarmament, Mitchell Says

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Northern Ireland's unionists must
trust that the Irish Republican Army has destroyed all its
weapons and help restore the province's power sharing
government, according to former U.S. Senator George

``They have to accept the reality that this is the manner
in which it is going to occur and has occurred,'' Mitchell,
who chaired talks that led to the 1998 Good Friday peace
accord, said in an interview today with RTE Radio in

Northern Ireland's independent disarmament monitor
yesterday said the IRA has put all its weapons and
explosives beyond use, 11 years after declaring a cease-
fire. Unionists including Ian Paisley said they are
skeptical of the move, as the IRA didn't provide any
photographic proof of weapons being destroyed.

Unionists may demand further evidence before agreeing to
share power in government with Sinn Fein, the political
ally of the IRA. The Belfast-based executive, established
under the 1998 peace accord, has been suspended since 2002.

``We do not know how many guns, ammunition and explosives
were decommissioned nor do we know how the decommissioning
was carried out,'' Paisley, leader of the Democratic
Unionist Party, said yesterday. ``There were no
photographs, no detailed inventory and no detail of the
destruction of these arms.''

Paisley will meet retired Canadian General John De
Chastelain, who heads the monitoring body, in Belfast
today. The power-sharing government may not be restored
until 2007, the Irish Times said today on its Web site.

IRA Pledge

The statement from the Independent International Commission
on Decommissioning came two months after the IRA pledged to
end its 39-year armed campaign and use political means to
achieve the goal of a united Ireland. The paramilitary
group told its members to ``dump arms'' as part of the

De Chastelain said the inventory of IRA arms is based on
estimates from the security forces. He didn't provide
details of how the IRA put the weapons ``beyond use.''

Reverend Harold Good, one of two independent witnesses to
the process, said yesterday the IRA arms had been
decommissioned ``beyond any shadow of a doubt.'' The other
witness was Catholic priest Father Alex Reid.

Restoration of the provincial government may also be
delayed as unionists await evidence that the IRA has ended
all links to criminal activity. A British-Irish commission
has blamed the IRA for the theft of about 27 million pounds
($48 million) from a Belfast bank on Dec. 20 and says the
group is involved in gasoline and tobacco smuggling,
hijackings and money-laundering.

Criminal Empire

``It is imperative that not only arms are decommissioned
but that the dismantling of the republican movement's
criminal empire is also completed,'' Ulster Unionist Party
Leader Reg Empey said in a statement on the UUP Web site.

The commission will publish a report on violence in
Northern Ireland by loyalist and republican paramilitary
organizations next month.

Northern Ireland's majority-protestant unionists and
loyalists advocate continued union with Britain, while
nationalists and republicans favor a united Ireland.
``Nothing happens easily in Northern Ireland,'' Mitchell
said. ``There are always going to be concerns and issues
raised. But the history of the past decade shows the
process ultimately moves forward, slowly.''

To contact the reporters on this story:
Fergal O'Brien in Dublin at
Last Updated: September 27, 2005 04:09 EDT


Church Leader Utterly Certain Guns Have Gone

Minister verifies report

By Noel McAdam
27 September 2005

A senior Protestant church leader has voiced his "utter
certainty" that the weapons of the IRA have now been

Former Methodist President Rev Harold Good, one of the two
independent witnesses to the decommissioning process in
recent weeks, said the evidence had been clear and

In a joint statement with his co-witness, Redemptorist
priest Fr Alec Reid, they said the IRA decommissioning was
now "an accomplished fact".

The statement from the Protestant and Catholic church
leaders was designed to underpin the statement from the
International Decommissioning body.

Mr Good, a former director of the Corrymeela Centre, who
retired from the full-time ministry three years ago, read
the statement but to the phrase "we are certain" added his
own word: "utterly".

The 68-year-old, who has been heavily involved in
reconciliation work in recent years, also made clear
neither he or Fr Reid were appointed by the IRA to do their

Their statement said: "We are utterly certain about the
exactitude of this report because we spent many long days
watching the meticulous and painstaking way in which
General de Chastelain went about his task of
decommissioning huge amounts of explosives, arms and

"The experience of seeing this with our own eyes, on a
minute to minute basis, provided us with evidence so clear
and of its nature so incontrovertible that, at the end of
the process, it demonstrated to us and would have
demonstrated to anyone who might have been with us, that
beyond any shadow of doubt, the arms of the IRA have now
been accomplished.

"In light of this, and in order to create universal
confidence, we wish to assure everyone, but especially
those in Northern Ireland who may yet have misgivings, that
the decommissioning of the arms of the IRA is now an
accomplished fact."

Mr Good and Fr Reid said they hoped the development would
become a "benchmark" for the peaceful resolution of
political conflicts everywhere "and that, for the people of
Northern Ireland, it will herald the dawn of a new era".


Clerics Renowned For Peace Efforts

By Alf McCreary
27 September 2005

The two independent witnesses to the IRA's decommissioning
process are veteran clerics with a long track-record of
working in reconciliation and peace-building initiatives.

The Rev Harold Good, a former President of the Methodist
Church, worked as director of the Corrymeela Centre for
Reconciliation from 1973 to 1979 and also has experience of
a wide range of inter-church and inter-community

He also served as a Methodist minister in a number of
parishes and as a part-time chaplain at Crumlin Road jail
and Belfast City Hospital.

He was Methodist President from 2001-2, and shortly
afterwards retired from the full-time ministry.

From 1999 to 2004 he was a member of the Northern Ireland
Human Rights Commission.

Mr Good was appointed MBE in 1970 and OBE 15 years later
for "services to the community."

Fr Alec Reid is a Dubliner who was ordained as a
Redemptorist priest in 1957, having joined the Order some
eight years earlier.

Since 1962 he has served at Clonard Monastery in west
Belfast and from 1969 he has been involved in special
peace-making ministries.

This included initiatives involving contact between the
loyalist and republican traditions. He also worked closely
on initiatives with republicans and nationalists, including
Gerry Adams and John Hume, and helped to lay the foundation
of the current peace process.

Both Mr Good and Fr Reid are highly-respected within their
own churches and among inter-church and inter-community

They are regarded as men of the highest integrity, and
well-qualified for their role as independent witnesses to
IRA decommissioning.


Durkan Welcomes IRA Decision

By Claire McNeilly
27 September 2005

SDLP party leader Mark Durkan said the importance of
decommissioning should not be underestimated.

"The gun is at last being taken out of Irish politics," he
said. "This vindicates all of us who have always argued for
a peaceful way forward.

"Those of us who have always been clear that decomissioning
was a requirement of the Good Friday Agreement."

Mr Durkan added: "Violence never won anything in the north.
Violence does not pay. It costs. In lives lost, in
economies ruined, in communities wrecked.

"It's something loyalists need to learn. The best thing
they can do now to free their communities of poverty and
fear is to give up the drug dealing, the racketeering,
intimidation and murder and destroy their guns."

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey hailed the IRA's move as a
'significant development'.

However, he said that this development has failed to
maximise public confidence.

"This move is a dramatic u-turn by the republican movement
from their stated position of 'not a bullet, not an
ounce'," he said.

"Ulster Unionist resolve and persistence has been a crucial
factor in bringing to fruition this about-face. We will,
however, wait and see the outworking of events.

"It is imperative that not only arms are decommissioned but
that the dismantling of the republican movement's criminal
empire is also completed."

Sir Reg called on the government to publish the estimates
given to the IICD.

"This move by republicans should illicit a response from
loyalist paramilitaries who said that if the IRA
decommssioned they would follow suit," he said.

"Unionism remains to be convinced of the republican
movement's commitment to exclusively peaceful and
democratic means.

"In the coming days and months ahead we'll be engaged in a
series of meetings with the government and other parties."

He added: "It is out clear view that government should not
yield to republican demands for further concessions as a
result of this development."

Alliance Party leader David Ford said: "The focus now turns
to the other activities of the republican movement. Over
the coming months, we will study closely the reports of the
Independent Monitoring Commission, as they assess the
activities of both unionist and nationalist paramilitaries.

"Some unionists are still refusing to engage in any contact
with Sinn Fein, while having no problem in joint activity
with loyalist parties, despite the violence on and after
September 10."

Alliance was now prepared to engage with Sinn Fein to
ensure movement to a normal society, Mr Ford added.


Doubts Cloud End Of IRA Guns

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News in Belfast

The IRA has decommissioned its arms, according to
international observers - but why has there been such a
muted reaction?

It's almost a decade since the IRA declared its first

But amid all the great leaps forward, devastating setbacks
and terrible tragedies, hearing the Reverend Harold Good, a
Protestant clergyman, tell the world that he had seen
"minute by minute" the IRA give up all of its arms, was
quite something.

An organisation that had declared after the Good Friday
Agreement that it would never decommission - "not a bullet,
not an ounce" went the graffiti in republican strongholds -
showed that it was for turning. But how far had it turned?


Nobody around there in Sandy Row will believe they have
decommissioned the lot - it's just not in the IRA's nature
- if we're talking real decommissioning, that means taking
all the terrorists out of government

Snooker Club, Sandy Row

If the story of Northern Ireland's peace process has been
about anything, it is of trust. And what little trust that
had built up between the parties in the seven years since
the Good Friday Agreement evaporated amid prevarication,
last minute collapses of deals and claims of double-

Mr Good and Father Alec Reid, his Catholic partner in
witnessing the decommissioning, knew their job was to try
to rebuild that trust - and their carefully chosen words
were clearly aimed at doing so.

Earlier in September many Protestant areas of the city
erupted with loyalist violence after an Orange Order march
was prevented from walking the disputed Whiterock route:
Loyalist paramilitaries fired on the police.

Today, there is new graffiti in some of these areas
denouncing the Police Service of Northern Ireland: One
fresh daubing near Albert Bridge, one of the seats of the
violence, says "Police Serving Nationalist Interests".

Sandy Row

In Sandy Row, a Protestant area of Belfast where the power
of the paramilitaries has historically been strong, any
hint of trust in either the republican movement or the
wider process is largely missing.

At the Players' Lounge snooker hall, next to a loyalist ex-
prisoner education centre, there was a great deal of

"I don't believe they've got rid of even half of what they
hold," said one young man. "We're supposed to believe they
only had a few hundred handguns - come on - who do they
think we are?

"Nobody around there in Sandy Row will believe they have
decommissioned the lot - it's just not in their nature. If
we're talking real decommissioning, that means taking all
the terrorists out of government."

Another man said that the guns had only come thanks to
"concession after concession" to the republican movement.
What had happened to the investigation into the Northern
Bank robbery, he asked. Why had Shankill Road bomber Sean
Kelly been released? Why were the Army reducing their
presence with so many unanswered questions?

Beyond the areas that have suffered the most, the mood is
always slightly different. In Holywood, the town nearest to
where the decommissioning announcement was made, the
temperature was lower.

One Protestant woman said the guns were the symptom of the
problem - and the problem was bigotry from both sides.
Bigots could still buy more guns, she said.

Similarly, Belfast shoppers waiting for the evening bus
home to Londonderry and the North West said they were
willing to see what would happen.

Patrick Hugh, who works with young people and comes from a
nationalist family, said he believed the Provisionals had
done the right thing - but he wished that the loyalists had
done the same.

This, he said, left a doubt in the minds of some
nationalists who live in the areas that have experienced
the most violence.

"I can see how the idea of defence of the community becomes
an issue for some, such as the Markets or Short Strand. The
same arguments can be heard on the Protestant side too.

"But if we want to get rid of that fear, then it's up to
the local politicians to step up and deal with the social
conditions in the interests of all. You can't just get rid
of the guns - there has to be some kind of peace benefit
for all."

World weariness

But there is also a world-weariness these days in Northern
Ireland - a feeling that many people are just so sick of it
all that they almost don't care what happens in the
politics, providing they can get on with their lives.

David Doyle, 18, and Stephen Short, 20, were handing out
stickers for a new nightclub, complete with comedy sailors
hats. Like most young men of their age, they just want to
have a good time and were fed up with the lot of them.

"There is always something that is going to prevent it
ending," said David. "Just look at the last few weeks with
burning buses and barricades. If one community doesn't like
what is happening, they turn to this kind of thing."

"I just want to ask all these people, what's the point?"
added Stephen. "We've supposedly had all these years of a
peace process but sectarianism has got worse. There's just
no need for it."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/27 08:25:13 GMT



Politicians 'Stalling Progress Of PSNI Reforms'
2005-09-27 09:10:02+01

Progress towards completing police reforms in the North has
been let down by lack of political backing, a watchdog
report said today.

Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchinson also warned the street
violence which erupted across Belfast earlier this month
proved some were still opposed to the sweeping changes.

In his latest assessment on efforts to implement the Patten
blueprint for a complete overhaul to the Police Service of
Northern Ireland (PSNI), Mr Hutchinson revealed 114 of the
175 recommendations have been completed.

All of the main institutions involved in the process - the
Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Policing Board,
which holds Chief Constable Hugh Orde to account, the
District Policing Partnerships and Police Ombudsman Nuala
O'Loan - are all doing their bit to make it work, he

But even though he did not identify Sinn Féin, which has
refused to endorse the reformed force, the former Royal
Canadian Mounted Police chief delivered a scathing general
assessment on levels of political backing.

He said: "Let me be blunt: politics has failed policing in
Northern Ireland.

"This is a general observation rather than a statement
directed at any specific political group or individual, and
simply points out a fact which has substantial consequences
for the necessary reforms to policing.

"Coupled with a lack of acceptance, in some quarters, of
the individual and societal responsibilities that accompany
expected rights, the current democratic deficit creates the
risk of either undermining or stagnating efforts to create
a widely accepted, human rights-based, accountable policing

"A return to an embattled, fortressed police service is the
goal of only a few.

"I know that the police do not want this, and I remain
convinced that the majority of people in Northern Ireland
do not want this either."

The Oversight Commissioner insisted that lack of progress
on the 61 remaining recommendations could not be blamed on
any reluctance or inability within the policing agencies.

"Far more the fact that even at this advanced stage of
policing change the full community and political support
which would complete this crucial process is still being
withheld," he said.

"This is both illogical and short-sighted."

His apparent frustration was compounded by the rioting over
a controversially re-routed Orange Order parade in west
Belfast earlier this month.

Likening the violence to the North's darkest days, Mr
Hutchinson said it was in contrast to the many significant
policing advancements.

"If nothing else, the unfortunate events of early September
serve to highlight and test the crucial role that
accountability structures will play in the future of
policing in Northern Ireland, and the perceptive nature of
the Independent Commission (Patten)'s recommendations in
this regard.

"The next few months will be critical, and I would not wish
to give the impression that the reforms recommended by the
Independent Commission can be brought about under any

"That being said, however, I have no doubt that judging by
past achievements and current efforts, the new beginning
for policing will become a reality despite the efforts of
those guided by their own narrow agendas."


'They're Liars. How Many Guns Have They Stashed?'

"Welcome to loyalist Seymour Hill," says the writing on
one wall at the entrance to the big Lisburn housing estate.
There's a neat Union flag painted under that one. On
another wall, there's an angrier message: "PSNI scum.
Republican puppets. Loyal to Sinn Féin, not the queen."
Susan McKay reports on local sentiment in Lisburn.

There's also a small wooden sign nailed on to an ash tree.
"Christ died for our sins." This one is signed, "YCM." "I
think that stands for Young Christian Men," says a young
local man, waiting for his burger at Scooby's chip van.
"It's been there for years."

There's a war memorial with poppy wreaths across the road,
commemorating those who died in two world wars and "the
recent conflict".

Most locals approached for comment in these parts are,
unsurprisingly, disposed to be sceptical, if not downright
dismissive, about IRA decommissioning. "Load of b******s,"
says the young man at Scooby's.

"They're liars. How many guns have they stashed?"

The witness given by the Rev Harold Good cut no ice. "He
said he saw it, did he? He better get away off to

During the trouble which followed the rerouting of an
Orange parade in Belfast earlier this month, loyalists
blocked the main road outside the estate.

A young woman rang the BBC's Talkback programme in tears.
She said she was five months' pregnant and was driving her
child home when she was stopped.

She said a man punched her in the face, while those around
him looked on. Other drivers also complained of threatening

"Load of b******s," says the young man.

A young woman in the queue beside him nods agreement. "I
was on that protest," she says. "You have to stand up for
your community."

Seymour Hill was also the place where, a few years ago,
Brig Jackie McDonald's South Belfast UDA crucified a
teenager who had been a habitual car criminal. He suffered
serious injuries.

The young man and woman agreed the UDA played an important
role in Seymour Hill. Should the loyalist paramilitaries
follow the IRA's example and decommission?

"No way," says the young man. "The UDA protects this
community. It doesn't cause any trouble. The trouble that
was here this last week or two was caused by the police."

He says he is a member of the Royal Air Force.

A group of workmen are fixing a footpath. "Three of us are
Protestants and one of us is Catholic," says one of them.
"I'm the Catholic. But don't point at me," says another.

They all laugh. "Wouldn't you know I'm the Catholic - the
only one round here doing any work?" he quips and they all
laugh again. "It's good news the IRA has decommissioned,"
says one of the others. "It'll put pressure on the DUP to

"It's easy being the opposition but now they are in power
and it's time we had local government back."

Another of the men shakes his head in disagreement. "I
wouldn't trust the IRA," he says. "If this is for real, why
wouldn't they put it on TV?"

An elderly man comes out with his messages from the small
supermarket. From a car radio, local MP Jeffrey Donaldson
can be heard saying the unionists are not convinced by Gen
de Chastelain or by the the Rev Good.

"I think in Northern Ireland today, anything is worth a
chance," says the old man.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Republicanism Is History

Battles within Ireland's nationalist movement will continue
despite decommissioning, but the Long War is over, writes
Henry McDonald

Monday September 26, 2005

From today onwards London and other British cities are at
least safe from one type of terrorism - the "armed
struggle" of the Provisional IRA.

Inside a vast conference room with six huge chandeliers
hanging from the ceiling, the Canadian general tasked with
overseeing the destruction of paramilitary arsenals in
Ireland effectively announced that PIRA's long war with the
British state was over.

General John de Chastelain and his Finnish and American
colleagues revealed that an "immense amount" of IRA weapons
and ordnance had been put permanently beyond use. Although
the head of the Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning wasn't able to give a detailed inventory of
the guns and bombs the Provos had disposed of, Gen de
Chastelain did speak about a range of weaponry from
explosive material (presumably tonnes of semtex), to time
power units used to trigger bombs, as well as anti-aircraft
guns, flamethrowers and a vast array of rifles and machine

The decommissioning of the explosive material in particular
is a key move by the Provisionals as it signals that the
'offensive capability' of the IRA to bomb British cities
has been relinquished. Destroying this specific part of the
IRA arsenal has only confirmed what most observers of
republicanism have known since the September 11 attacks on
New York and Washington and the latest terrorist offensive
in Britain this summer: the IRA's targeting of strategic
economic and political centres across the Irish Sea is over
for good.

While Gen de Chastelain, his colleagues and the two
independent church witnesses are bound to secrecy, unable
to reveal the fine detail of the disarmament, it was clear
from their press conference that something enormous had
occurred; that in reality most of the IRA's cache has been
put beyond use permanently.

However, there was one telling caveat during the general's
question-and-answer session with the world's media gathered
inside the Culloden Hotel outside Belfast. Finnish
Brigadier-General Tauno Nieminen also witnessed the
decommissioning, but when asked if there were any weapons
that had been dated from 1996 (the last the time the IRA
officially broke its ceasefire), he looked perplexed. Brig
Gen Nieminen appeared to suggest that there were no guns
from beyond that year, which prompted a second question
from the floor - did this mean they had not seen any of the
200-odd handguns smuggled from Florida in 1999?

After initially stating that they could tell that there
were no guns dated from 1996 in the about-to-be
decommissioned cache, Brig Gen Nieminen then suggested that
it was impossible to tell if any of the guns had come from
a 1999 arms shipment.

It is these latter weapons that have been used and are
likely to be used again in republican areas of Northern
Ireland to threaten those who cross the IRA. One gun from
the Florida arms route has already been fired - in 2000,
when the IRA shot dead republican dissident Joe O'Connor in

A deal done without the knowledge of Gen de Chastelain, his
team and the two churchmen has already been sealed between
the British government and the IRA which will allow the
latter to retain side arms for self-defence and quelling
dissent. These handguns don't pose any threat to the
British state, its police or soldiers, either in Northern
Ireland or Britain. They do, however, remind those inside
the nationalist community who are not "on message" with
Sinn Féin that to challenge the hegemony of the republican
movement can still have fatal consequences.

So while the Irish premier, Bertie Ahern, and Tony Blair
insist the IRA's weapons are "gone", this is not an
accurate reflection of reality on the ground in the north
of Ireland.

The Democratic Unionist party (DUP) will seize upon these
"internal security" weapons as evidence that it is right to
be sceptical about claims the IRA has fully disarmed, and
so play for time. The DUP will try to wait for up to four
reports from the International Monitoring Commission (IMC)
- the body scrutinising paramilitary ceasefires - before
considering any move to enter talks with Sinn Féin aimed at
restoring devolution. In the longer term, the DUP's
position will be harder to maintain if subsequent IMC
reports find that the IRA is no longer active.

While Gen de Chastelain's work has been more transparent in
terms of what exactly was decommissioned, he was not
allowed to release details of the exact quantities of
weapons that were disposed of. Given the whiff of secrecy
and opaqueness surrounding the decommissioning process,
unionist scepticism remains widespread, at least in the
medium term.

As for the loyalist paramilitary movements, despite
inaccurate reports at the weekend, there is no sign thus
far that either the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) or the
Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is preparing to follow the
IRA's example and put a majority of their weapons beyond
use. A senior UVF commander told The Guardian this morning
that, for now at least, the organization had no intention
of decommissioning its illegal arsenal of weapons and
explosives. Nor, he added, did the rival UDA.

Among those in the audience at the hotel today was a former
IRA prisoner jailed for 18 years for killing a loyalist.
Anthony McIntyre supports the peace but doesn't agree with
the political process, arguing that Sinn Féin's embracing
of the Good Friday Agreement is a recognition and
acceptance of partition. The IRA activist-turned-writer
quipped after the press conference that the disposal of
weapons smuggled into Ireland to fight the Long War had
"made republicanism history", rather than partition.

If by "republicanism" he means the historic right to wage
armed struggle against the British army, its locally
recruited police and the British establishment, then his
assessment post-September 26 2005 is a correct one. The
Long War has failed.


Opin: A Farewell To Arms, But Not To Violence

September 27, 2005


With the news that the IRA has announced its positively
final arms decommissioning, a stately political minuet will
begin to revive a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive
that includes Sinn Fein (the unarmed half of the Sinn Fein-
IRA octopus).

According to the Whitehall leaks that always precede these
declarations, Britain's Tony Blair and Ireland's Bertie
Ahern hope that, making due allowance for the usual horse-
trading, such an Executive can be up and running by the new
year. Both governments will be employing formidable
incentives and penalties to make it so. And the first
incentive will be their stress on the ''historic'' and
''unprecedented'' nature of the IRA's gesture.

That is especially necessary because, as Sinn Fein's
president (and sometime member of the IRA Army Council)
Gerry Adams has publicly conceded, the last historic and
unprecedented IRA announcement that its terrorist war was
maybe over did not have the favorable public impact that it
had counted upon.

Newspaper columnists in Britain and Ireland pointed out
that this was the third or fourth time the IRA had ended
the war, that it was continuing to murder people and rob
banks, and that even if this declaration was real,
terrorists should not receive major political concessions
in return for promising not to kill people in the future.

The exceptions to this generally cool reception were Blair
and the British government. In response to the IRA
announcement, they dismantled British army outposts on the
Irish border, released a convicted IRA terrorist, leaked
the information that they would amend the laws to allow
convicted terrorists to serve on local police authorities,
and hinted that they would also allow terrorists still ''on
the run'' outside Northern Ireland to return.

In other words, the Brits bought the same old nag for the
fourth or fifth time -- each time with the ready money of
serious concessions.

Strong rumors suggest that what the IRA destroyed is the
heavy stuff it no longer needs against the British Army. It
is quietly keeping the smaller arms it needs to enforce its
authority against dissenters in the Catholic ghettoes. That
will be enough, however, for London, Dublin and Washington
to declare that the IRA has purged its sins and that Sinn
Fein is eligible to return to power.

Until two weeks ago political resistance from Protestant
and Unionist parties might have obstructed this. It still
might. But the moral authority of the Unionists to resist
has been seriously undermined by the Protestant
''loyalist'' riots that erupted across Northern Ireland a
fortnight ago and changed the political atmosphere of the

Insofar as the riots had anything like a rational cause, it
was that the ''loyalists'' felt that the Protestant
majority was being ignored and outmaneuvered by the London
and Dublin governments -- they appeased Sinn Fein because
the IRA was prepared to use violence and intimidation. Very
well, then, the loyalists would do the same and get respect

There is some truth in this picture. British Minister Peter
Hain confirmed as much when he listed the benefits
Protestants had gained from the Good Friday power-sharing
agreement. They were such things as the Irish government's
acceptance that Irish unity would need majority consent in
the North -- in other words, not tangible gains but the
avoidance of a theoretical loss.

But the fact that Protestants had a small case is beside
the point. The unionist or ''loyalist'' case is built on
the law and democracy. Whenever they abandon them and
resort to riots and murder, they undermine the narrow
ground on which they stand. And they suffer politically.

So unionist parties may well find themselves dragged
against their better judgment into a power-sharing
arrangement with Sinn Fein. If that happens, however, it
will usher in the next stage in Ulster's crisis. Underneath
a power-sharing Executive would be a Northern Ireland
divided by the Good Friday Agreement into two separate
sectarian societies. Members of the Northern Ireland
Assembly actually have to register a communal identity
before they can participate, since majorities of each
community must support any political outcome. Any
government must include representatives of both
communities. Over time, the two community leaderships are
supposed to find common ground.

It is a sort of multiculturalism and it seems idealistic
enough. In fact, it creates a highly undemocratic political
structure in which the political parties in effect share
power with each other over the communities they are
supposed to represent. Voters cannot either choose or throw
out a government. And parties get to enjoy office on a
permanent basis.

On both Catholic and Protestant sides, moreover, the
working class areas will likely be run by criminal mafias
in politico-religious disguise with racketeering, maimings,
murders and horrifying brutality. Indeed, this is already
the case: The ''loyalist'' mafias behind the riots have
been engaged not only in the same sort of lucrative
racketeering as the IRA but also in turf fights and intra-
mafia murders reminiscent of the St. Valentine's Day
massacre. Recently the official body responsible for
monitoring political violence reported that at least five
murders (and 15 attempted murders) had been committed by
the Ulster Volunteer Force in its turf fight with another
loyalist terror group. Yet the power-sharing deal was fine-
tuned to ensure that political parties linked to these
criminals get a freehold on political office.

It is a terrifying prospect. And almost the only relief
from it is that Irish Justice Minister Michael MacDowell is
threatening to use the full force of the law against such
criminal racketeering even when carried out by political
parties. How long he will be allowed to do so by his
ministerial colleagues and the British government is
another question.


Opin: A Step We Should Be Grateful For Or Applaud As
Historic? Never

By Fergus Finlay

ARE we supposed to be grateful? Are we now supposed to
flock in our thousands to vote for Sinn Féin? Are we
supposed to acknowledge and accept what Martin McGuinness
and others call this "truly historic moment"? Well, count
me out.

In my adult life, I've lived through too many pieces of
their cynicism, too much of their manipulation, and too
many of their atrocities to ever find it in my heart to be
grateful to the Provos. I welcome what they've done, at
last, but I insist that people who gave their all to keep
peace alive while the Provos were bombing and murdering are
the ones who deserve the gratitude.

If the Provos' disarmament is historic, is it more historic
than the Shankill massacre, or the Birmingham and
Warrington bombs? If the ones who ordered the killing and
the maiming have now decided that it is to be no more, does
that entitle them to be revered as peace-makers?

Surely, all it means, at its best, is that the republican
movement has caught up with the rest of us, who believe
that, with all its imperfections, democratic politics is
the only way to solve problems, the only way to build
equality, the only way to make economic and social
progress. "Building a nation of equals" is the slogan most
often used nowadays by Sinn Féin. Building a nation of
equals is work that only begins in any meaningful way once
you put guns and Semtex aside. The provos are adept at
pretending they've been at it for years. And, of course,
they haven't been.

I was one of the very first to say (and I got into all
sorts of trouble for saying it) that a peace process
without Sinn Féin wasn't worth a penny candle. I meant it
then, and I mean it still. The central tenet of the peace
process has been the need to win over people committed to
violence to a better way of doing business. It doesn't work
if you leave some of the violent people behind. But that's
not the same as saying that the people who give up the
adherence to violence have to be treated as heroes, just
because their propaganda is more elaborate than anyone
else's. If they practice democracy, and mean it, they need
to be content to be called democrats, and to suffer the
slings and arrows that other democrats suffer.

I was also one of the first to say publicly that it was
vital to recognise and accept that the republican army that
declared a ceasefire (was it really 11 years ago?) was an
undefeated army.

Decommissioning then, as it was demanded by the British
government, could only have been interpreted as a sign of
defeat. A beaten army gives up its guns an undefeated army
(if it is committed to democracy) turns them into
ploughshares. The provos did neither. They used the silent
weapons to keep a political threat alive.

I've never forgotten that the original ceasefire statement
contained not one word of remorse nor sorrow, let alone
apology, for the pain and suffering of 30 years. Instead,
it praised the "courage, determination and sacrifice" of
the "volunteers, other activists, our supporters and the
political prisoners who have sustained the struggle against
all odds for the past 25 years". To this day the republican
movement has always looked inward, has always put its own
objectives before any wider sense of the duty they owe the
people whose suffering they caused.

The Provos committed themselves to complete full
decommissioning four years ago and they have only now got
around to it. The intervening period has been used to
manipulate politics and the media unmercifully, to try to
position the political wing of the republican movement so
that it can take over government in Northern Ireland and
become king-makers in the politics of the South. If they
succeed, it will be because of the gullibility of an awful
lot of media people. But, more to the point, that some
senior politicians have become obsessed with writing a
closing chapter to the peace process, will have played into
their hands.

FOR years now, the provos have regarded the peace process
as a game with only two players: themselves and the British
Government. The Irish Government, whatever its make-up (and
despite the verbal histrionics of some ministers) has
essentially been a pawn.

The role of the Irish Government (or the Dublin government
as Sinn Féin continues disdainfully to refer to it) has
been to act as a messenger boy for the provos, ensuring
that Tony Blair is at the table whenever he is needed.

The harsh truth is that our Government holds no moral sway
over the republican movement, because the republican
movement holds government in the South in contempt.

Those who believe, for instance, that Sinn Féin might be a
part of our next government, assuming (which looks almost
inevitable now) that Fianna Fáil and the PDs can't make up
the numbers, are wrong. And they're wrong for this reason:
Sinn Féin is not interested not yet. It is pursuing a
political strategy which is aimed at making it the dominant
political player in both jurisdictions on the island of
Ireland. Until it reaches the critical mass it's aiming
for, it won't take the risk of participating in government
down here. In Northern Ireland it already has that critical
mass - not only in terms of its size, but also in terms of
the way government is structured. To coin a phrase, no Sinn
Féin, no government.

In other words, it already holds the effective balance of
power in Northern Ireland. It will not be content and it
will not risk entering Government here, until it really
holds the balance of power. And it knows that that's going
to take more than one more election. After the next
election, even if it was to double its existing number of
seats and Fianna Fáil was able to do a deal with them, it
would only mean a couple of cabinet seats for Sinn Féin.

That's not real power and Sinn Féin knows it.

Sinn Fein has demonstrated, if nothing else, that it is
committed to effective control. It has controlled its own
communities for years. It operates within a culture of
secrecy and hidden chains of command. As the Northern Bank
raid, the return of the Colombia Three, and the recent
visit by the "leadership" to Castlerea prison all
demonstrate, it operates to its own agenda and no one
else's. That agenda is about the ascendancy of Sinn Féin in
both jurisdictions, and the selling of that ascendancy as
the first tangible mark of a united Ireland.

This week's "historic" and long overdue completion of
decommissioning is all part of the same thing: the next
step in the provos' transition from a totalitarian
commitment to power through the barrel of a gun. We
shouldn't be under any illusion that the end is still
power, but the means are no longer to rely on violence.
That's a welcome step, no doubt about it. But one we should
be grateful for? One we should all applaud as historic?


Road To Normal Economy Damaged By Violent Past

By John Murray Brown

Published: September 27 2005 03:00 Last updated:
September 27 2005 03:00

Arms decommissioning by the IRA has been a long time
coming. But the journey to achieving a normal economy in
Northern Ireland could prove just as protracted.

Since the peace process started in the mid-1990s, the
province has outperformed the rest of the UK economy. But
Ulster Bank, part of Royal Bank of Scotland, predicts in
2005 it could lag behind other UK regions, just as it
starts to turn its back on its violent past.

"Investors will go where they can make profits, where they
are welcome and where they feel safe. Northern Ireland must
deliver on all three, and not just the first two.
Decommissioning is a start, but until Ian Paisley and Gerry
Adams are ready to sit in government together there will
continue to be uncertainty," says Stephen Kingon, senior
partner with PwC, the professional services firm.

With the London government, inspired by the Treasury,
pressing for Northern Ireland to start "paying its way",
this could coincide with real cuts in public expenditure.
The budgetary allocations for 2006-07 are set to be
announced next week.

"The danger is that cutting back public expenditure,
without at the same time doing something to help the
private sector, could leave Northern Ireland worse off than
before. The trick will be to get things moving in
parallel," says Sir David Fell, head of the Northern
Ireland civil service at the time of the 1998 Good Friday

Northern Ireland receives about £22bn a year to support its
public services, while it raises £14bn in taxes, leaving a
gap of £8bn, which is funded by central government. On a
per capita basis, this is more than Scotland or Wales and
25 per cent more than Merseyside.

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary, last week
warned that the levels of public expenditure were "simply
not sustainable". He also pointed to the "hugely wasteful
costs of division in this society" - an apparent reference
to the way public services such as education and health are
duplicated so that the smallest village will have two
schools, one Protestant and one Catholic.

The public sector accounts for almost one out of every
three people in work and close to two-thirds of gross
domestic product.

Managers in the public sector in Northern Ireland earn 20
per cent more than their counterparts in the private
sector. In Britain, private sector earnings are 10 per cent

Few would disagree that Northern Ireland is heavily
dependent on the public sector. But Tom Gillen, deputy
assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade
Unions, which represents about 230,000 members in Northern
Ireland, believes "it is a misnomer to say the public
sector is too big. The problem is the private sector is too

Efforts have been made to "prime pump" economic activity.
One, which will start to reap benefits in the future, is
Classroom 2000, the project to put computers in every
school in the province. It was put in place when Martin
McGuinness, the former IRA commander and Sinn Féin's chief
negotiator, was education minister before the assembly was
suspended in October 2002.

Thanks to BT, Northern Ireland is one of few regions in
Europe where broadband is available to every household and

But it is unclear what policies local politicians would
adopt if devolution is restored. All parties are opposed to
the current introduction of water rates, although the
suspicion is they are happy it is the direct rule ministers
that are having to introduce them.

The impression is that for many local politicians Old
Labour has more currency than New Labour. Certainly
Northern Ireland was largely untouched by Margaret
Thatcher's privatisation programme. Working for the state
provides a comfortable living for the well-off. House
prices are lower than parts of the UK, while salaries are
comparable. The result is disposable income levels are much
higher - the reason all the UK multiples were so quick to
set up operations in the wake of the IRA ceasefire in 1994.

Largely because of the size of the public sector, Northern
Ireland has been cushioned from the ravages of recessions.
But it has also missed out on the most buoyant periods of


Govt Accused Of Failing To Protect Human Rights In Ireland

27/09/2005 - 11:46:52

Amnesty International has accused the Government of failing
to fully protect the human rights of Irish citizens.

In a report published today, the organisation said Ireland
was breaching its international obligations by failing to
incorporate treaties recognising people's economic, social
and cultural rights.

It also said the Government's failure to adopt core human
rights principles in many of its policies had resulted in
further marginalisation of disadvantaged and vulnerable


Annual HRBA Conference

September 27th 2005

Human Rights Based Approaches in Ireland: Principles,
Policies and Practice

On 27th September, Amnesty International's Human Rights
Based Approach Initiative will host its Inaugural National
Conference on Human Rights Based Approaches at the Guinness
Storehouse, St. James's Gate, Dublin 8. The Conference will
address the nature and scope of Human Rights Based
Approaches, experiences with them to date in Ireland, and
the possibilities for their increased application into the

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights

Ireland is changing apace as the thriving economy brings
unprecedented wealth for many. With a decade of
unprecedented and unmatched economic growth and
unemployment rates reaching record lows, there is certainly
much to celebrate. However, the impact of this rapid period
of change and development has not been all positive.
Ireland still faces many pressing social problems, and
there is a growing realization that economic development
alone will not address these. Many sectors of Irish society
are of the opinion that adopting and implementing human
rights based approaches (HRBA) offers the most tangible and
sustainable way forward.

Human rights are inherent to each and every one of us. They
are set out in international human rights law, and states
are legally bound to promote, protect and fulfil them. They
span all areas of life: civil activity, political freedom,
social needs, economic well-being, cultural pursuits, and
environmental quality.

Over the decades, governments, communities and
organisations have come to understand that human rights are
not just ends, or goals that we vaguely aspire to. They are
the benchmarks of a just society. Moreover, they provide
the means to deliver real justice and equality. In essence
they give people the right to have control over their lives
and future; they shape a process and provide a series of
approaches that can show governments and society at large
how to build a fairer, more equitable society.

This thinking led to the emergence of the human rights
based approaches (HRBA) to development, or the
understanding that human development improves when we use
human rights as the framework for solutions. Put another
way, we know now that charity and chequebooks are not
enough. Real change involves changing attitudes and
deepening understanding. For that to come about we have to
engage in partnerships, and participation. We have to
include and protect the most marginalised and vulnerable in
society, and expect and demand accountability. We have to
empower people through relationships based on human rights.

HRBA are now used increasingly in the developing world, but
it is equally essential as a framework for governance here
in Ireland. On 27th September, Amnesty International's
Human Rights Based Approach Initiative will host its
Inaugural National Conference on Human Rights Based
Approaches at the Guinness Storehouse, St. James's Gate,
Dublin 8. The Conference will address the nature and scope
of Human Rights Based Approaches, experiences with them to
date in Ireland, and the possibilities for their increased
application into the future.

The aim of the Conference is to create an opportunity to
explore HRBA in Ireland, look at lesson learning, establish
common ground and examine potential way forward, in a
participatory and interactive manner. The Conference is one
element of a larger initiative which Amnesty is stewarding
that seeks to build the capacity of interested
organisations to use HRBA in Ireland. The project includes
training, mentoring, research, conferences and the
provision of a web based resource point on human rights
based approaches.

To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their
very humanity

Nelson Mandela

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