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September 28, 2005

Justice Dept Ducking McAllister Case

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IE 09/28/05 Justice Is "Ducking" McAllister Case
TB 09/28/05 Decommissioning Will Reveal Real Problem
IT 09/29/05 Unionists Need Time, Says Adams
IT 09/29/05 McGuinness Reassures Washington
SF 09/28/05 Seize The Opportunity For Peace - SF MEPs
UN 09/28/05 IRA Has Taken Massive And Courageous Step – SF
IT 09/29/05 Ahern Calls For Talks On North Institutions
IT 09/29/05 Bertie Urges Unionists To Recognise Realities
IO 09/28/05 Endgame Reached In North's Peace Process – Hain
MI 09/28/05 Guns Are Gone - Time To Build A Future Together
PG 09/28/05 Editor For Secrets Act Rev After Trial Collapse
BB 09/28/05 So Who Is P O'Neill?
IE 09/28/05 Opin: DUP Isolates Itself With A Skeptical View
GU 09/28/05 Tough Task Of Allaying Unionist Suspicions
WT 09/28/05 Opin: Roadway Open To Lasting Peace
BB 09/28/05 Does Decommissioning Mean Peace? – Six Views
BT 09/28/05 Arms Deal Throws Up New Questions
JP 09/28/05 The IRA And Us
WS 09/28/05 What Was The British SAS Doing In Basra?
IO 09/28/05 Murder Victim's Family Dismiss Adams' Offer
UT 09/28/08 Catholic Doctor Awarded In Discrimination Case
UT 09/28/05 DUP Poised To Get Lords Representation
UT 09/28/05 Mad Dog Admits Assaulting Wife
IO 09/28/05 TD Ejected From Dáil Over Rossport 5 Questions
IT 09/29/05 Government Criticised At Rossport Protest
IO 09/29/05 McDowell Attacks RTE Over Jail Site Programme
BB 09/29/05 MRSA 'Significantly Drops' In NI
IT 09/29/05 Geoghegan Quinn For Second Term
IT 09/29/05 Cliffs Of Moher Centre To Cost €31.4M
UT 09/29/05 Antrim Village Hit By Mini Tornado


Justice Is "Ducking" McAllister Case

By Ray O'Hanlon

A New York congressman has accused the U.S. Justice
Department of "ducking the issue" in the case of Malachy
McAllister, the Belfast man who is battling to avoid his
and his children's deportation.

Rep. Eliot Engel said that a response he had received from
the department to a written appeal he had sent on
McAllister's behalf amounted to "no response at all."

Engel said is a statement that he could only conclude that
the department was ducking the issue

"On June 29 I wrote to the Department of Justice asking
Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to use his discretionary
power to defer the deportation of Malachy McAllister,"
Engel said.

"I finally received a response in a letter dated September
8 from an assistant attorney general that the matter was
before the court and Justice Department would not comment.
This is not a response.

"This is punting on an issue that has serious implications
for the McAllister family. The family was threatened
recently by an e-mail signed by the Red Hand Commandoes, a
particularly violent paramilitary group," Engel added.

The McAllister case is currently before the federal court
of appeals for the third circuit in Philadelphia but Engel
said that Attorney General Gonzalez had discretionary
authority to allow the family to stay.

"I again urge him to use this authority and save these
people from possible harm or even death. The recent rioting
in Belfast shows that Protestant feelings still run high,"
Engel said.


Decommissioning Will Reveal Real Problem

Refusal to Accept Equality

Father Sean Mc Manus, Press Release • 27 September 2005

Capitol Hill. Tuesday, September 27, 2005 — The final
decommissioning of the IRA arsenal will help reveal to the
world what has always been at the heart of the problem in
Northern Ireland.

That is how the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus
has reacted to the IRA initiative. Caucus president, Father
Sean Mc Manus, said: "Northern Ireland came into existence
in 1920 for a twofold reason — to ensure England would
continue to have a foothold on the island of Ireland, and
to ensure Unionist/Orange supremacy in the new artificial
state. In this way, British interests were secured, and
Catholic inequality guaranteed."

Fr. Mc Manus further explained: "The problem has always
been about the British Government militarily backing up
that sectarian, undemocratic entity. Now that it appears,
under Tony Blair, the British government is no longer
interested in being identified with a sectarian regime,
there is a chance for the word to see clearly the remaining
problem: Unionist reluctance to accept the concept of
equality with Catholics. That is now the issue, and there's
no way of denying it."

"But Tony Blair must do something else," Fr. Mc Manus

"To show his Government has abandoned all sectarianism. He
must immediately remove the 'constitutional' basis for all
Orange bigotry and sectarianism: the anti-Catholic section
of the Act of Settlement of 1700, which is still in force
today. Under this ridiculous, but malicious, Act, a
Catholic is forbidden by law to become the King or Queen,
and that if the Monarch converts to Catholicism or marries
a Catholic s/he forfeits the Throne and 'the people are
absolved of their allegiance'."

"That would be similar to the U.S. Constitution having a
provision that would outlaw an African-American becoming
President or marrying a Black person. And if the President
were to marry a Black person his election would be declared
null and void by the Constitution."

"It is, therefore, this wretched Act of Settlement that is
ultimately behind all anti-Catholic bigotry in Northern
Ireland because it provides Protestant/Orange extremists
with motivation and justification. If the very top law in
England, the Queen's own law, declares Catholics cannot be
Monarch, therefore it follows Catholics are inferior, and,
therefore, cannot be equal to Protestants."

"And the sad thing is that British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, until now, has blocked all efforts to change this
horribly anti-Catholic law because, 'it would be too much
paper work and too expensive'!"


Unionists Need Time, Says Adams

Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent

More unionists will come around to accepting that full
IRA decommissioning has taken place, Sinn Féin president
Gerry Adams said yesterday.

He said he had said since Monday that unionists needed time
to absorb what had happened, and he believed this had been
"vindicated by the response from the Ulster Unionists".

In relation to the initial rejection of the IRA act by the
Rev Ian Paisley, Mr Adams said: "You could have written the

He added: "As more and more people on the unionist side
have a sense that this has been what the IICD says it was
and the two witnesses say it was, then we will have more
and more unionists coming around to that view."

Speaking outside Leinster House yesterday, Mr Adams also
said it was he who raised the killing of Joseph Rafferty
during a meeting with the Taoiseach last Friday. He did so
as he feared it was becoming a political issue.

The family of Joseph Rafferty, shot dead last April in west
Dublin, says he was killed by an IRA member, and has
demanded that Sinn Féin help to bring his killer to

"As far as we are concerned, anyone who has information on
this man's killing should give it to the guards," said Mr
Adams. "As far as we are concerned this is an issue for the

"It was a brutal killing, he was killed by thugs, we
condemn it utterly, and of course if anyone wants to raise
this issue with us that's fair enough. And I am also
prepared, if the family wish, to speak with them at any

© The Irish Times


McGuinness Reassures Washington

Denis Staunton in Washington

Martin McGuinness has told the US government he is
certain the IRA will fulfil its promise to cease all
paramilitary and military activity and that he expects no
"unpleasant surprises" when the Independent Monitoring
Commission reports next month and in January.

In Washington yesterday for meetings with the State
Department and members of the US Senate and House of
Representatives, Sinn Féin's chief negotiator said
officials had sought assurances of the republican
movement's unequivocal commitment to the rule of law and to
the renunciation of all paramilitary and criminal

"The issue did come up but I expressed my confidence that
the IRA will live up to its commitments," he said.

Mr McGuinness acknowledged that the Democratic Unionist
Party was unlikely to consider any restoration of the
political institutions in the North until after the IMC
reports. He said he shared the Taoiseach's view that the
institutions could be restored by Easter 2006.

"The spotlight is shifting from the IRA to the DUP. I hope
they will rise to that challenge," he said. Mr McGuinness
met a group of congressmen with a history of engagement
with the peace process before calling on senators Hillary
Clinton, Edward Kennedy and Chris Dodd.

New York's Jim Walsh praised Mr McGuinness for his role
with Gerry Adams in moving the republican movement away
from violence and called on DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley to
respond to the move with generosity.

"This presents a tremendous opportunity for Northern
Ireland and its people for a peaceful dialogue. It's a real
test of leadership, especially on the unionist side. Ian
Paisley really needs to grasp this opportunity," he said.

Massachusetts's Richard Neal said the US had played an
important role in bringing about the IRA's move away from
violence and that it was British prime minister Tony
Blair's responsibility to ensure the North's political
institutions were restored.

"There is unyielding support here for full implementation
of the Good Friday agreement, among Democrats and
Republicans," he said.

New York's Peter King said that it was almost impossible to
underestimate the significance of the IRA's action.

© The Irish Times


‘Seize The Opportunity For Peace' - Sinn Féin MEPs

Published: 28 September, 2005

Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald have
today said that parties and governments must all seize the
opportunities arising from the historic opportunity
presented by the IRA putting its weapons beyond use. In
particular, the two MEPs said that there are now 'no more
possible excuses for non engagement between the DUP and
Sinn Féin'.

Both Sinn Féin MEPs made their comments at a press
conference in the European Parliament, Strasbourg to
discuss the opportunities which had arisen from the IRA
initiative yesterday (26.09.05).

At the press conference it was announced that Sinn Féin
President Gerry Adams would be travelling to Brussels next

In a joint statement both MEPs said:

"Yesterday's historic announcement by the Irish Republican
Army has significantly advanced the potential for peace in
Ireland, and this opportunity must be grasped by those who
are genuinely interested in bringing about an end to

"Those of us committed to peace building and conflict
resolution must seize the moment. There can be no more
possible excuses for non engagement. The excuse of IRA
weapons is no longer tenable. Those who seek to minimise
the significance of the IRA's announcement, and the
potential for progress which this offers, are doing a grave
disservice to their constituents.

"In particular there are now no possible excuses for non
engagement between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

"Both the Irish and British Governments have a pivotal role
to play in all of this. They must implement the Good Friday
Agreement in its entirety, and this includes the
outstanding issues: equality, policing, human rights,
people on the run and victims. There must also be progress
on other issues, including prisoners and Northern
representation in the Oireachtas.

"We recognise that republicans and nationalists will have
to come to terms with the new realities which have been
presented. Equally, unionists require space to absorb this.
Reinstatement of the political institutions benefits both
the nationalist and unionist community. Sinn Féin has been
engaged in a programme of outreach work with the unionist
community and it is important that we build upon this work
and seek a joint way forward on a broad range of political
and socio-economic matters.

"Over the course of the next days and weeks we will be
briefing people from throughout the EU on the significance
of yesterday's announcements. We will ask them to continue
their valuable support and assistance in the search for a
lasting peace in Ireland. One important part of this will
be the visit of Gerry Adams to Brussels next week" ENDS


"IRA Has Taken Massive And Courageous Step" – Sinn Fein

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has this week
welcomed the announcement that the IRA had puts its weapons
beyond use. He said it was a "massive and courageous step"
and urged both governments and all parties to respond
positively and fully implement the Good Friday Agreement.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "By putting its weapons beyond use
the IRA has fulfilled its commitment made on 28th July
last. It has provided a golden opportunity to advance the
stalled peace process significantly. I urge all parties and
both Governments to seize this opportunity and to work
together to fully implement the Good Friday Agreement.

"This was a hugely difficult decision for republicans to
make. But I would urge all republicans to see this
development for what it is – a brave act of faith in the
ability of Irish republicans to move forward together to
our goal of Irish unity and independence by peaceful means.

Continuing the Cavan/ Monaghan Sinn Fein TD said, "The
knee-jerk reaction of the DUP has been predictably
negative. Rather than respond to that I would prefer to
give the DUP space to absorb the enormity of what has taken
place. Now is the time for them to give real leadership to
the people they represent. That can only be done by
engaging directly with the representatives of Sinn Féin.
Such engagement is inevitable and it should happen sooner
rather than later".

"The Irish Government has a special responsibility in the
wake of this hugely significant development. For too long
this Government has handled the peace process with one eye
to the next General Election in the 26 Counties and with a
desire to limit the growth of Sinn Féin. The anti-
republican agenda of Michael McDowell has been allowed to
dominate. This must change.


"The Taoiseach needs to renew his commitment to the Good
Friday Agreement and fulfil his own Government's
obligations. This should include:

- Vigorously pursuing the full implementation of the Good
Friday Agreement with a clear focus on the need for the
Unionist leadership to shoulder its responsibility to share
power and work with the All-Ireland structures, and on the
need for the British government to fulfil all of its
responsibilities. Among those British responsibilities is
the completion of British demilitarisation.

- Advancing the All-Ireland agenda on all fronts by acting
now to develop co-ordination and integration of
infrastructure and public services on an island basis,
encouraging a similar process in the private sector and the
voluntary and community sector.

- Fulfilling his commitment made in 1998 to advance the
issue of Six-County representation in the Oireachtas.
Speaking rights in the Dáil for all Six-County MPs should
be provided for without further delay.

- Publishing a Green Paper on Irish Unity – setting out a
Government strategy for Irish reunification.

- The repeal of the Offences Against the State Acts, he


Ahern Calls For Renewal Of Talks On North Institutions

The Taoiseach has said all parties must join renewed
talks on the restoration of the political institutions in
Northern Ireland, saying IRA decommissioning had helped
clear the path to final resolution of all outstanding
issues. Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent, and
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor report.

Mr Ahern will meet British prime minister Tony Blair in
Downing Street next week, DUP and Sinn Féin delegations
will separately meet the British prime minister also next
week and Mr Blair will visit the North late next month as
the two leaders signal their determination to push for
political progress in the wake of the apparent
decommissioning of all IRA weapons.

In a statement to the Dáil yesterday on this week's
decommissioning announcement, Mr Ahern indicated his
determination to resist DUP attempts to move away from the
Belfast Agreement, insisting the 1998 deal was "the only
way" to the future. "There is no going back to past and
failed ways," he declared, echoing the SDLP and Sinn Féin
analysis that the DUP is seeking to unpick key elements of
the agreement supported by nationalists.

Dublin and London acknowledge there is little prospect of
political progress until after the Independent Monitoring
Commission report in January on the level of IRA activity.
However, both governments are making it clear they want
progress then, with the Taoiseach having said this week he
would like some agreement by Easter.

In his Dáil statement Mr Ahern acknowledged there were
"those who remain unconvinced about recent developments".
But despite the doubts of some it was "important also to
begin to move on.

"We have to do so as it would be unconscionable and
unacceptable to fall back or to accept a political
stalemate. This is not a time for pessimism and undue
delay. Real opportunity is opening up for Northern Ireland
and for all of this island." The governments were not
relying on the words of the IRA alone, nor were they asking
anybody else to do so. "But we do place our trust in the
IICD. It is what they say that matters."

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, described the decommissioning
as "belated" but welcomed IICD confirmation that it had
taken place.

"I find it very regrettable that the Democratic Unionist
Party have chosen to question the integrity of people who
have given so much of their time and efforts to achieve
this outcome." He demanded that the Taoiseach now "come
clean with the Irish people and tell them if a vote for
Fianna Fáil is really a vote for Sinn Féin's participation
in government."

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said nobody could be certain all
arms had been destroyed "but focusing on inventories and
the like is merely an excuse for further procrastination".

Sinn Féin's leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, said:
"This must be acknowledged as a most courageous and
unprecedented step on the part of the IRA."

© The Irish Times


Taoiseach Urges Unionists To 'Recognise New Realities'

Marie O'Halloran

It was important to move the peace process forward
because it would be "unconscionable and unacceptable to
fall back or to accept a political stalemate", Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern told the Dáil.

Opening a debate on the decommissioning of IRA weapons, Mr
Ahern said there were those who remained unconvinced about
the decommissioning. "I can understand that it will take
some time for the full consequences of an ending of the IRA
campaign and the decommissioning of all their weapons to be
fully comprehended. But it is important also to begin to
move on." It was not a time for "pessimism or undue delay".

He understood "the fears and uncertainties of the unionist
community. I understand that trust needs to be rebuilt",
but "it is also important that the new realities are

It was time to face other challenges, including the
restoration of the political institutions, the ending of
loyalist paramilitary and criminal activity and the
resolution of policing issues.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the pressure was now on
loyalist paramilitaries to respond in like fashion. He
added that, while the completion of decommissioning was
welcomed, the Provisional movement "has much to do before
Sinn Féin can be fully regarded in the public consciousness
as a truly democratic party".

It was hard to assume that because decommissioning was out
of the way that those members of the IRA involved in
criminal activities have suddenly ceased what became
lucrative commercial activities for them, Mr Kenny said.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said that only when loyalist
paramilitaries reciprocated "will we be able to say that
all guns have been taken out of Irish politics". The onus
now fell "on those leaders of unionism who have been so
quick to question the validity of IRA decommissioning but
so slow to move loyalist paramilitaries towards the same

"If parties such as the DUP are so eager to take the votes
of working-class Protestants and to express the
disenchantment and disillusionment of those communities,
they must also act responsibly in ensuring that the peace
be held in those areas that are most volatile."

Sinn Féin's leader in the Dáil Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin praised
the "courageous and unprecedented step" by the IRA in
formally ending their armed campaign and putting their arms
beyond use.

He added that "for many members and supporters of Sinn Féin
it appears that republicans yet again have had to leap
first, but we in the leadership of Sinn Féin have said
clearly that this development must be seen for what it is -
an act of faith in the ability of Irish republicans to move
forward together to our goal of Irish unity and
independence by peaceful means".

Liz O'Donnell (PD, Dublin South) said that rather than
eulogising the work of Sinn Féin and "those who have no
conscience or tendency to apologies for these terrible
acts, I think that this House should stand square and
confirm our commitment to democratic politics and
respectfully remember all those innocent men and women and
also members of the armed forces who were destroyed and
murdered by these weapons".

Closing the debate, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot
Ahern said the "decommissioning of Provisional weaponry is
a triumph for constitutional republicanism - a triumph for
those of us whose main personal, and political, goal is the
unity of Ireland and her people" and "who have seen the
Provisional campaign bolster that partition and drive unity
further and further into the future".

© The Irish Times


Endgame Reached In North's Peace Process – Hain

28/09/2005 - 17:11:18

The endgame to decades of conflict in Northern Ireland is
about to be played out, the North's Secretary of State
Peter Hain said today.

Two days after it was confirmed that the IRA had finally
decommissioned all its weapons, he told the Labour Party
conference in Brighton it is time for the North's
politicians to be courageous,

The implications of the IRA's actions, and the way the
British government sees the way forward, will be pressed on
the Northern Ireland political parties during a visit to
Belfast by British Prime Minister Tony Blair later in the
year, government sources revealed as Mr Hain spoke.

The Ulster Secretary told the conference that the
government sought to "take the last, painfully difficult
steps towards a political settlement that will finally
guarantee peace, stability, democracy and human rights".

But he said the endgame to bitter conflict could be the
most tortuous.

When people had to take the final step – to put aside their
differences, prejudices and fears – and had to share with
people who were once sworn enemies, it was difficult, he

"When people have to face that moment of truth – that's the
most painful, the most difficult, time of all," said Mr

In a clear call to unionists not to hold back he added:
"The endgame is the hardest because the two sides may have
journeyed miles towards each other, but, when they are just
feet apart, they want to draw back.

"We are at this key moment now – and it's time for the
politicians of Northern Ireland to be courageous – because
we have come such a long way".

He described the announcement by General John de
Chastelain's decommissioning body of IRA disarmament as
"hugely significant".

It provided the opportunity to make the progress which had
been worked for for so long.

If in January the Independent Monitoring Committee
confirmed a complete end to IRA activity "then the time
will have come for every person in Northern Ireland,
unionist or nationalist, to grasp this opportunity for
peace", said Mr Hain.

There was a historic opportunity to move forward with
genuine political engagement and progress.

The real lesson of the years since the Good Friday
Agreement, he said, was that violence did not pay – that
real political progress could only be made when
paramilitaries left the stage.

It was a lesson eventually learnt by republicans, he said,
and it was high time it was learnt by loyalists too.

Hitting out at recent loyalist violence he said: "We
condemn utterly their vicious assaults – and their murder
attempts – on the police. We tell them straight: they will
not succeed.

"The IRA has decommissioned its arms. The loyalist
paramilitaries must now do so too."

The restoration of devolution was his overriding objective,
and he was confident of achieving it.

Mr Hain said he and his political development minister
David Hanson would be working hard on it over the coming

But until devolution resumed, Northern Ireland could not
afford to tread water, politically or economically, he

The challenges of a rapidly changing global economy would
not wait for divisions in society to be healed, he told the
conference .

He listed a range of policy measures he and his team of
ministers will press ahead with in the coming weeks, many
of which have been in the pipeline for some years.

They include:

:: Plans for "much fewer, but more powerful" local councils
to replace the 26 currently operating in a region of 1.7
million people.

:: Plans to "radically simplify" the structures delivering
health to ensure value for money and shorter waiting lists.

:: Education reforms to deliver better standards and the
end of 11-plus selection will be pressed ahead with.

:: The upcoming local budget for the next two years would
also see a redirection of resources to new policies – all
focused on enhancing the life chances of the next

Mr Hain also announced a boost to investment in children,
with a new ring-fenced fund to deliver quality childcare,
as well as before and after school clubs.

At the same time, protecting the environment is being
pushed to the top of the political agenda with a new drive
to promote renewable and other clean energy.


The Guns Are Gone .. It's Time To Build A Future Together

We Must Believe IRA Has Decommissioned, Says Northern
Ireland Expert Kevin Toolis

Kevin Toolis

ANOTHER big bit of peace broke out in Ireland yesterday.

For once the IRA lived up to its promises to give up arms
and decommissioned its weapons.

We don't know where or how, but somewhere in a bog on the
border with the Republic a once-lethal arsenal is now a
broken tangle of rusting, useless metal.

And there were independent eyewitnesses to prove it,
including a Catholic priest and a Methodist minister.

It is a colossal step forward.

Slowly, perhaps far too slowly, the daily nightmare routine
of murder and bombs continues to recede into memory.


Soon the young people of Northern Ireland will only be able
to read about that hell, not experience it first hand every

Despite all the glorification by loyalist and republican,
the Troubles were an unmitigated disaster that cost the
lives of over 3,500 people and maimed thousands more for no
good or justifiable reason.

A United Ireland never drew nearer, nor was the Union, the
maintenance of a bit of Ireland as part of Britain,

It was all just a futile waste, where gunmen re-enacted
their own version of history in ever-crueller, ever-more-
desperate killings.

The IRA's destruction of its own arsenal is the most potent
symbol yet that the Troubles will never return and that
nightmarish history is behind us.

Guns kill people.

If you don't have weapons it's difficult to kill lots of

Hundreds of Kalashnikov rifles and powerful handguns are
gone. The heavy Russian anti-aircraft machine guns the
secret army's quartermaster general was also thought to
have in his stores are gone too.

According to the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern: "The
weapons of the IRA are gone, and are gone in a manner which
has been verified and witnessed."

In another more generous country everyone would be
celebrating. The champagne corks would be flying.

But not, predictably, in Northern Ireland.

Unionism's po-faced leaders have greeted the IRA's move
with sour-faced ingratitude.

For years and years Ian Paisley has banged on about IRA
decommissioning. And then when it finally happens he greets
it with a scowl and another set of conditions.

Why were there no photographs? How can he be sure that the
IRA has destroyed all its arms?

The list of whinges and whining goes on.

In reality, decommissioning was always going to be a
symbolic act.

NO matter how many arms you destroy today, you can always
replace them with a clandestine shipment from the Balkans

And there will always be guns floating about somewhere -
just look at the gunfire that regularly breaks out on the
"peaceful" streets of Manchester, Birmingham and London.

If ordinary drug-dealing criminals in Britain can get hold
of high-powered rifles, then we can be sure that if the IRA
wanted new guns they could get them too.

What is crucial in Northern Ireland is the decommissioning
of the intention to use force.

And in the last 10 years the IRA has largely stuck by its
ceasefire, in that it has not attacked the security forces
(although it has robbed banks).

The Troubles happened because Northern Ireland was a failed
state. One third of its citizens, Catholics, were
discriminated against and had no loyalty to the government
that ruled over them.

It was a Protestant state for a Protestant people and when
it erupted in the early 70s no-one could save it from

Sadly, Ian Paisley, who did so much to make a bad situation
worse, seems intent on making the same mistakes all over
again on the IRA's decommissioning.

Life is not perfect and the IRA, and Irish republicans, are
never going to stop wanting a United Ireland. But this is
surely a time for generosity. A time to praise the good
that has happened and to try to build on the IRA's
decommissioning move.

It is time to try genuinely to create a historic
accommodation between Catholic and Protestant and build a
future together.

Instead of further damning the IRA, Ian Paisley should be
out on the streets of loyalist East Belfast cajoling the
gunmen of the so-called Ulster Freedom Fighters and Ulster
Volunteer Force to hand over their weaponry.

He should be stridently condemning the Protestant gunmen
who fired hundreds of rounds at the police just because an
Orange Order parade was diverted 200 yards.

WHEN I was reporting the daily bloodshed of the Troubles I
saw a poem by Northern-Irish writer Sheenagh Pugh, called

"Sometimes," she wrote, "the muscadel grape outlasts the
blast of frost and sometimes a people step back from war."

To me she was saying life is not always a disaster.
Sometimes things do go right - but we have at least to try
to make it happen.

For centuries the history of Ireland was a history of
murder and mayhem and of embittered division.

Yesterday the IRA, by finally delivering on its
decommissioning promise, provided Northern Ireland and the
Republic with a rare "sometimes" moment - a chance to bury
a terrible past and build a better future.

I hope for God and Ulster's sake that the leaders of
Ulster's Unionist parties finally seize that chance.

-Kevin Toolis is the author of Rebel Hearts: Journeys
Within the IRA's Soul, Picador £7.99


NI Editor In Call For Official Secrets Act Review After
Trial Collapse

Published: Thursday, September 29, 2005

By Jean Morgan

The Sunday Times' Northern Ireland editor Liam Clarke has
called for a review of the Official Secrets Act after yet
another prosecution under the act has collapsed.

Recent prosecutions under the act have failed, he said, but
have had a chilling effect on any public servant who wants
to speak to the press.

The most recent case concerned Peter Adamson, a retired
detective, who was found not guilty at a court in Ballymena
last week of breaching the act by leaking documents to
Clarke and his journalist wife, Kathryn Johnston, when the
Crown offered no evidence.

The Crown maintained that the prosecution was not
considered in the public interest.

The documents were transcripts of tapped phone
conversations recorded by MI5 and Special Branch at the
home of Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein's chief negotiator
from 1998 to 2001, to the late Mo Mowlam, then NI
secretary, and Jonathan Powell, the prime minister's chief
of staff, among others.

The day after Adamson's home was raided by armed police and
he was arrested in 2003, the home of Clarke and Johnston,
who had published the transcripts in a book, was also
raided and they were questioned over a 20- hour period.

Now Clarke says the prosecution should never have been

"It's another blow to the Official Secrets Act — these
cases seldom go the distance. I cannot think of a recent
prosecution that has succeeded. It points to a need for the
review of the law," he said.

"It's terrible that Peter Adamson has been put through this
for two and a half years. I think these cases are brought
in the knowledge that they probably won't succeed, but that
the person can be punished by being put through two years
of having to pay lawyers and having their house searched.
It has a chilling effect on other public servants and
anybody who may want to speak to the press."

Kathryn Johnston said: "The vengeful and punitive decision
of the State to prosecute Peter Adamson was out of all
proportion and clearly showed that its intention was not to
discover either the source of the document, but to gag
journalists and those who seek to expose injustice and

Both Clarke and Johnston want to thank The Sunday Times,
editor John Witherow and their legal teams for their


So Who Is P O'Neill?

The two-sentence statement from the IRA, announcing that it
had disposed of its arms, ended with an enigma: Who exactly
is P O'Neill of the Irish Republican Publicity Bureau,
Dublin, the name that appears at the end of IRA statements?

Given the well-documented history of the Irish republican
movement's leadership during the past 30 years, P O'Neill
is probably nobody but a committee, perhaps the so-called
"Army Council" of seven leading republicans.

But the use of the name on scores of IRA public statements,
which have sought to justify the movement's armed conflict,
poses a question: just how does a supposedly secret
organisation communicate with the outside world?

In the early days of the 20th century republican movement,
everybody knew who they were. The men who led the 1916
Dublin uprising signed the declaration of independence -
and in doing so most of them signed their death warrants.

When violence came to the streets of Northern Ireland, and
the Provisional IRA emerged at the turn of the 1970s,
journalists could interview leading republicans, including
one Martin McGuinness MP - not least because most of them
believed it was going to be a short conflict.

But that all changed as the conflict became entrenched. The
IRA reorganised into a clandestine paramilitary operation,
its membership went underground, and the need for publicity
became more important.

One of the first signs of this new publicity were the
"Brownie" letters. In the mid-1970s, Gerry Adams, now Sinn
Fein president, was among the republican internees at Long
Kesh, the camp later turned into the Maze prison. These
smuggled letters, published in Republican News/An
Phoblacht, depicted life inside.

"My name? No, I won't put my name to it," he wrote in the
first appearance. "You'd take an awful reddner [blushing
face] in here over the name up in print. I'll settle for a
pen name - how does Brownie grab you?"

The emerging republican leadership were putting their
thoughts to the public - but they would do so while
maintaining a façade of secrecy.

Danny Morrison, who became Sinn Fein's publicity chief in
the late 1970s, was given the job of focusing political
debate for the party through the pages of Republican News -
and developing a propaganda war against the state.

"We were held back at first because in the late 1970s the
real crisis was what was starting to happen in the H-Blocks
[the battle over political rights for paramilitary
prisoners]," says Mr Morrison, now a writer and a

"The media at the time did not realise how much effort we
had to put in to those campaigns and protests.

"There were very few public faces of Sinn Fein at that
time," he says. "I for instance would have been introduced
to a newly arrived journalist under a false name. It was
only after people were put up in court, flushed out, that
we thought, we could exploit this for a public profile."

To opponents of republicanism, however, Sinn Fein's
publicists were nothing more than apologists for terrorism,
who used slick PR techniques to disguise the true nature of
the movement. Furthermore many people saw in the IRA's use
of the P O'Neill nom de guerre an attempt to romanticise
the organisation.


Kris Brown of Belfast's Linen Hall Library is responsible
for managing an enormous and unique archive of political
material that charts the publicity and propaganda war. The
collection runs to hundreds of thousands of documents.

"We often think of the protests and radical disturbances as
being driven by television," says Dr Brown. "But many of
the most influential groups [during the Troubles] were
quite small and fell back on self-publishing because they
had no access to the mainstream media.

"They were producing their leaflets and other material from
above pubs, in community centres and distributing it any
way they could."

These restrictions led to some novel tactics. In Derry, IRA
sympathisers launched a Christmas postal service, complete
with its own stamps, for instance. Loyalist groups also
began self-publishing, developing some fairly sophisticated
periodicals pushing their particular cause and politics.

I think the last thing to be decommissioned will be the
IRA's internal documents

Dr Kris Brown

Dr Brown says charting the development of this material is
vital to understanding the history of the conflict.

But one thing we may never know is the origins of P
O'Neill. There's no clear evidence of the name's birth in
the Linen Hall Library papers - and even the former Sinn
Fein publicity director says he doesn't know.

"In the early days [the 1920s] individual IRA commanders
used to sign statements," says Danny Morrison.

"I'm fairly sure that the name S O'Neill was used in
Belfast in the 1940s, but I don't think we know the exact
provenance of P O'Neill."

There is, of course, one final stack of papers that may
have the answer.

It's the archivist's dream to see the inner workings of a
secret organisation - and the papers that Dr Kris Brown
would be delighted to add one day to the Linen Hall
Library's collections are the IRA's own internal documents.

"I think the last thing to be decommissioned will be the
IRA's internal documents," he says. "There has to be
paperwork, but I would presume it's not on a large scale
and kept very secure for obvious reasons.

"If we do get to see it, it will probably only be a private
donation - decades from now."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/28 13:36:47 GMT



Echo Opin: DUP Isolates Itself With A Skeptical View

By Paul Colgan

One thing became quickly apparent on Monday as Irish and
British politicians lined up to give their reaction to the
news that the IRA had decommissioned its entire arsenal.

Every interested party and faction, bar one, was in
agreement. The two governments, the White House, Sinn Fein,
the SDLP, the Alliance Party -- even the Ulster Unionists -
- acknowledged that something desperately significant had
just happened.

General John de Chastelain, joined by his two colleagues
Andrew Sens and Tauno Nimenin and two respected clergymen,
Harold Good and Alec Reid, confirmed that he personally
oversaw the decommissioning of IRA weapons in their

He said that estimates of the IRA arsenal, provided by the
British and Irish security services (and unseen by the IRA)
tallied with the amount of weaponry delivered up by
republicans. He spoke at length of his belief that, as far
as republican guns are concerned, is over.

Good and Reid backed this up in a joint statement. They
said that they had seen the putting beyond use of weapons
with their own eyes and were satisfied that the IRA no
longer possessed the weaponry to carry out armed struggle.

While reporters may have probed de Chastelain with
questions about the serial codes on some of the hand-guns
or proffered philosophical inquiries as to whether he could
ever truly know if all the weapons were gone, the political
establishments warmly embraced the news.

De Chastelain had briefed them earlier in the day on the
extent of the decommissioning process, reassuring them that
the IRA had done what was required of it.

Over at DUP headquarters things were decidedly downbeat.
Following a pre-prepared script, DUP leader Ian Paisley,
flanked by Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds, dismissed the
entire event as the "falsehood of the century." The DUP's
denunciations of treachery sat uneasily with the prevailing
mood of the day.

The DUP has never felt uncomfortable going against the
grain and the tone of Paisley's press conference was widely
expected. However, it will be lost on few that, for the
first time in a long time, the DUP is alone in its

Whereas Sinn Fein found itself in the cold house earlier
this year -- shunned by Dublin, berated by London,
abandoned by the SDLP -- it has successfully charted a path
out of political oblivion. It now lines up with the British
and Irish governments. Any lingering doubts that may have
followed the IRA statement on July 28 have now been
banished. Even Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell has
been forced to concede that republicans have delivered on
their promises.

While the DUP will try to ignore it, pressure will build
over the next six months for the party to move. Republicans
have reclaimed the political high ground and the DUP will
find it difficult to win support for its contention that
the IRA, in league with the two governments and de
Chastelain, has hoodwinked the unionist people.

Its central problem lies with the fact that, despite claims
that the "majority? of people in North do not believe de
Chastelain," the men with whom the DUP must now negotiate
are happy that the IRA has gone out of business.

Instructive was the performance of Irish foreign affairs
minister Dermot Ahern on RTE's Questions and Answers on
Monday night. Whereas Ahern has disappointed nationalists
with his response to loyalist attacks on vulnerable
Catholics in the North, he nonetheless had little time for
the DUP's Maurice Morrow on the program. He made it clear
to the DUP man that the ball was now firmly in his party's

Only nine months ago, Ahern and his government had
supported the DUP's call for photographs of decommissioned
IRA weapons. In the months that followed the Irish
government adopted the DUP line again in calling for the
effective disbandment of the IRA before Sinn Fein could be
admitted into talks about power sharing.

However Ahern was visibly bothered with Morrow's refusal to
accept the word of de Chastelain. That brief period in
which Irish government concerns overlapped with the DUP
agenda is now most definitely over.

The British government is meanwhile delighted with De
Chastelain's report. It comes in conference week for Tony
Blair's Labor Party. Presuming Blair sticks to his
agreement to demilitarize the North, then the British army
will soon complete moves to wrap up its spy-posts and

The DUP shows no signs of relenting on this matter in the
near future. Paisley met with de Chastelain yesterday. He
emerged to say that he was even less confident that IRA
decommissioning had happened than he was beforehand.

Paisley's contention that he is yet to be convinced of
decommissioning is, however, falling on deaf ears. He has
studiously ignored de Chastelain's statement that the
weapons disposed of matched up with secret British and
Irish estimates, instead focusing on the throwaway remark
that de Chastelain cannot be sure that every IRA gun or
explosive was gotten rid off.

Republicans claim the DUP leader is playing with words. For
years his party has accepted without question the estimates
of the IRA arsenal provided by the British security forces.

It has also aired questionable intelligence about
republicans in the House of Commons -- information that
originated from the very same people who assisted de
Chastelain in his decommissioning work. Sinn Fein claims
Paisley cannot pick and choose who he wants to believe
depending on what they are saying.

Whether the two governments, backed by the White House, are
prepared to allow Paisley to continue in this vein will
become clear very soon.

This story appeared in the issue of September 28 - October
4, 2005


Tough Task Of Allaying Unionist Suspicions

Angelique Chrisafis
Tuesday September 27, 2005
The Guardian

Pouring concrete over an arms dump of Kalashnikovs hidden
in a bog is one thing, laying to rest ingrained unionist
suspicions is another. As the Ulster Unionist leader Reg
Empey acknowledged yesterday, everyone knows General de
Chastelain won't get every single republican gun (the Real
IRA is still there), and it would be easy for the Provos to
go out and restock their arsenal tomorrow. After the
Northern Bank raid, they are not short of cash.

While Gerry Adams and the IRA intelligence chief, Bobby
Storey, were said to have personally disarmed volunteers in
Belfast, there has been resistance in the Armagh and Derry
brigades. Some disillusioned republicans were yesterday
circulating Rabbie Burns's poem on the treachery of the Act
of Union, Parcel of Rogues, which warns: "We're bought and
sold for English gold." The whole point of decommissioning,
Sir Reg Empey said, was to send out the message that the
IRA had "crossed the line between a paramilitary past and a
political future". That turning point seems to have
happened after its declaration in July that the armed
struggle with Britain was over and all other "activity"
would end.

So, on paper, this seems an important victory for
unionists, who dug in their heels seven years ago and kept
stamping until they got a kind of transparency. But many
feel decommissioning - which both British military and
republicans thought a red herring - has poisoned the peace
process, sapping all goodwill. Instead of magnanimity,
sackcloth and ashes have been demanded, bogging the process
down in standoffs that have disillusioned voters.

Ultimately, however, the wrangling has made it a more
honest process and forced republicans to confront the
downside of the strategy of Armalite and ballot box, bully
boys coercing Catholic communities and the murder of an
innocent man. But as the loyalist rioting has shown, the
IRA is not the only illegal army in Northern Ireland. Now
the weapons to worry about, and the ones currently being
used to murder young men and to snipe at police, belong to
the loyalist paramilitaries.

A fortnight ago, the police and army were fired on at least
150 times during mayhem across Belfast. The irony is that
many of the loyalist rifles were originally stolen from the
British army by members of locally recruited militias.

The idea that loyalist paramilitaries may have to follow
the IRA and decommission seems to have caused panic and was
cited as a reason for the recent riots, alongside
paramilitary anger at police raids to stem the loyalist
feud, and a perception that working-class Protestants are
losing out.

A part of that anxiety is unionist unease about their
future. This a key moment in their history and they are
being led by Ian Paisley, now 79 and ailing, a man who has
resisted every agreement. Now he is being called on to lead
unionists into some sort of power-sharing agreement with
republicans, a prospect he finds abhorrent.


EDITORIAL - Roadway Open To Lasting Peace

The decommissioning of their arms by the Provisional IRA
which has been verified by General John De Chastelain is
the most significant movement yet towards a lasting peace
on the island of Ireland. The statement to the media by the
General was unequivocal and upbeat and his remarks were
endorsed by the two churchmen who were present at the
decommissioning process. The initial comments of the
Official Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empsey whilst
welcoming the initiative was guarded and cautious. The
Democratic Unionist Party as expected were more trenchant
in their views. The welcome for the announcement by both
governments in Ireland and the UK was very positive. The
statement has been endorsed by all the political parties in
the Republic, and while it is early days yet all the signs
are that peace will at long last come dropping slow to the
long suffering people of Ireland. The Unionist parties will
take some time before they agree to power sharing with Sinn
Fein, but this is only a short term gambit, and the
realists and pragmatists in both Unionist camps realise
that any future government in Northern Ireland will have to
accept Sinn Fein into their ranks. One of the major talking
points in political circles will be the impact this
announcement will have not only in Northern Ireland but
indeed on the political set-up in the Republic. Heretofore,
all the major parties in the republic made it plain that
they would not do business with Sinn Fein while they were
still operating a ballot box and armalite strategy. Now
with the decommissioning clearly verified by independent
and authoritative sources, it does clear the field for some
nifty political dexterity by the political parties here.
With 18 months to go to the next General Election in the
South and with both government and opposition practically
running neck and neck in the Opinion polls it could very
well happen that Sinn Fein will end up holding the balance
of power. What will initially happen will be the welcome by
all parties for the decommissioning process, but balanced
with strong statements regarding criminality, in
particular, the outstanding millions from the Northern bank
job. Now that they have delivered on decommisioning Sinn
Fein must now also reassure the general public about their
democratic credentials. The relatively gentle political
handling they have received in latter times will be
replaced by a more piercing scrutiny of their policies.
There is no doubt but that they have created space for
themselves on the left in Irish politics. However, they
will surely find that this space is pretty crowded at the
moment with both the Labour Party and The Greens and
several Independents competing for the same ground. This
however, is for the future - at present a resounding and
unqualified welcome for decommissioning.


Does Decommissioning Mean Peace?

Earlier this week, it was announced that the Provisional
IRA had decommissioned all its weapons.

It was a move heralded by the British and Irish

But as the head of the arms decommissioning body, General
John de Chastelain, reassured Northern Ireland the arms had
been put beyond use, the reaction from its people appeared
to be muted.

We asked six commentators what impact - if any at all -
they thought the breakthrough would have on peace in the
province. Click on the links below to find out what they

Duncan Morrow, head of the Northern Ireland Community
Relations Council

Brendan Duddy, businessman from Derry

Gary McConville, director of the Falls Road Community

William Frazer, director of Families Acting for Innocent

David Stevens, leader of the Corrymeela community

Peter McEvoy, Newry businessman

Duncan Morrow, head of the Northern Ireland Community
Relations Council

Decommissioning weapons should build confidence and trust
in a peace process. Even for Unionists, its key value lay
in providing evidence to prove a deeper question: is the
war over?

By decommissioning its weapons under international and
inter-denominational gaze, that is exactly the message
which republicans have given to Irish nationalists, to the
British and Irish governments and to the international

No matter how many weapons are still in circulation,
returning to violence would end any prospect that the word
of the republican leadership could be believed again. So
this is real, historic change.

Within Northern Ireland, however, the truth is that even
decommissioning has not yet resolved the trust problem. It
was never difficult to create suspicion among Unionists
about Irish republicanism, but the 11 years that it has
taken to get from a complete end to violence to a permanent
end have generated new reasons for mistrust.

And, of course, that very mistrust in its turn confirms
many Nationalists in the view that Unionists are terminally
incapable of making peace in Ireland.

Decommissioning therefore changes everything and it changes
nothing. All of the big confidence-building measures have
now happened. All eyes are now on Unionism and the DUP in

But reconciliation is not an event. If decommissioning took
a long time, and trust is taking even longer, maybe the
main lesson to be learned is humility about how long it
takes to get from communal hatred to sustainable peace.

The vision of a shared future is more alive than it was
before decommissioning, but nobody is under any illusions
that we have yet arrived.

Brendan Duddy, businessman from Derry

The announcement by General John de Chastelain of the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
that the Provisional IRA had put beyond use a massive
arsenal of weapons, showed that, in keeping with Sinn Féin
president Gerry Adams' request on 28 July 2005, they had
completed their decommissioning

This included hundreds of automatic rifles, rocket
launchers, heavy duty machine guns, semtex explosives and
hundreds of other assorted weaponry and thousands of rounds
of ammunition.

From a nationalist republican viewpoint this is a momentous
moment. From a unionist perspective Dr Ian Paisley, the
leader of the largest unionist party the DUP, sees
deception, betrayal and a sell-out on the part of Prime
Minister Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

The DUP unionists do not believe General de Chastelain and
they most certainly do not accept that the Provisional IRA
have decommissioned all their weapons and have made it very
clear, immediately after the announcement by the general
that they will have no truck with Mr Adams and Mr
McGuinness in any immediate devolved government in Northern
Ireland and they certainly will not be sharing a seat in
the Northern Ireland assembly with them in the near future.

For those of us who have been engaged in the peace process
for a long, long time we will be more optimistic than
pessimistic at today's announcement.

Northern Ireland is firmly on the road to peace if for no
other reason than that after 9/11 and the London train
bombings, there is simply no tolerance of armed conflict
within western democracies.

Gary McConville, Director of the Falls Road Community

We have heard the words before, "historic, unprecedented
etc" but if ever those words were applicable, it surely is

The announcement from the IICD that they are satisfied that
the Irish Republican Army has disarmed, while expected, is
nevertheless historic and unprecedented.

In July, the IRA announced its intention. It said that it
was prepared to adapt purely political means to achieve its

Today they have backed that up.

No-one should underestimate the uneasiness which this will
cause within Republicanism but it also shows a confidence
and maturity that Republicans believe they can achieve
their goal of a 32 County Republic by purely peaceful
means. This frightens the life out of Unionism and is the
real reason for their begrudgery about what has happened.

Do the leaders of Unionism believe that the IRA has
disarmed? The truth is that they do not care.

They have known for a long time that Republican intentions
were peaceful. It is difficult to understand why anyone,
least of all Unionists, would not welcome IRA disarmament.
It is also difficult to understand how the DUP could work
out their position before the announcement was even made.

In recent times the DUP have painstakingly talked up the
feeling of alienation within the Unionist community. Today
they have adapted a position which alienates them from the
British and Irish governments, Church officials, an
internationally constituted body and considerable local and
international opinion.

I believe the unionist community should seriously question
where their political leaders are taking them.

So where to from here? I believe that today's announcement
will be uncomfortable, to say the least, for Republicans.

But I also believe that Republicanism has bought into a
strategy which can make the vision of their goals a
reality. There is a dynamic within Republicanism to get
about the job of achieving their objectives and creating

The opposite is the case within the leadership of Unionism.
The particular strength of this leadership is its
opposition to armed Republicanism. Remove that and they
become devoid of ideas. That cannot be good for the
Unionist cause. The Unionist people deserve better.

William Frazer, director of Families Acting for Innocent

I personally am disappointed regarding the joy expressed
over this decommissioning, from people who so easily forget
the evil side of the IRA.

I, and the community I represent, have no confidence in
this statement from General de Chastelain.

The lack of transparency still means we are living in the
shadow of fear of attack, which is just as bad as attack

As those who suffered most during the conflict we want
peace more than anyone, yet it must be genuine and
sustained peace.

The IRA have proven time and time again that they will play
peace when they are getting their way, but return to
violence when they don't.

We ask the government what happens when the concessions to
the IRA stop? The London Docklands Bombing was proof of

We were promised that the guns would go away years ago and
have had to fight tooth and nail to get to this point,
flawed as it is.

The whole process has not been transparent so I cannot
accept that all weapons are gone, indeed Republicans have
done nothing in our area to reassure people like ourselves
that they will never again take up the right to kill in the
name of a United Ireland.

People forget the IRA have enough money to restock their
entire arsenal if they so desire. We have said from day one
that it is more important to decommission the terrorist
mindset as well as the guns.

David Stevens, leader of the Corrymeela community

IRA decommissioning is of profound practical and symbolic

It would have been better that it happened years ago. The
stretching out of this issue helped to destroy David
Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party, and it has
exacerbated Unionist suspicions of the Republican movement.

So, decommissioning now is a matter of two cheers not

IRA decommissioning is, hopefully, the end of something; it
represents an implicit recognition of the futility of
violence which has meant over 3,000 deaths. Therefore, it
is appropriate to remember the victims of the violence,
while we hail this step.

Nevertheless we must look forward. This means making
politics work in Northern Ireland (there is also the little
matter of loyalist decommissioning).

Making politics work means focusing on a shared future in
Northern Ireland. It means the relationships are central,
not being winners and losers.

Over the period of the ceasefires we have had less
violence, but more social segregation and more peace walls.
The conflict mutated into cultural wars, fights about the
meaning of the past (who were the real victims, etc) and
struggles over parades. We moved from a half-war to a half-
peace, but there was still no reconciliation.

The challenge of reconciliation is now the central one for
Northern Irish society, and it will be a 30 to 40 year
task, for it means changing the patterns of relating
between the two main communities.

This task is not only for politicians but for the whole of
civil society, churches, trade unions, voluntary
organisations and so on.

The challenge of moving forward also means accepting
responsibility for making society work. It will mean
politicians (and others) ceasing to blame the British
government (or other people).

It will mean Sinn Fein accepting responsibility for
policing. It will mean the creation of a more enterprising
economy and stopping the duplication of services between
the two main communities.

So, the decommissioning of weapons is a start; next step
the decommissioning of mindsets on everyone's part. To
change the metaphor we are simply in the foothills, the
real climbing starts now.

Peter McEvoy, businessman from Newry

Decommissioning is without doubt the biggest event in my
lifetime as a nationalist.

Since the formation of the IRA about 100 years ago IRA
weapons have been in use in almost every decade.

Now for the first time they are not only silenced but
totally unusable. That has got to be a momentous happening.

Unionists have asked for this since the 1994 ceasefire,
some have genuinely wanted it but more have used it as a
roadblock to a permanent settlement of what is known in
Britain as the Irish Question.

Nationalists have long suspected that extreme Unionism
where views are normally expressed by the DUP never really
wanted this day to dawn because they needed an enemy and a
fully-armed IRA provided this.

It gave them a reason for their political stance and many
times the IRA supplied the oxygen which allowed the DUP to
breathe and promote their brand of virulent right-wing
politics as amplified on many occasions by Ian Paisley.

Be that as it may, we are where we are and everyone,
Catholics, Protestants and the Dissenters should grab this
unique opportunity and go forward to a peaceful Northern

If Unionists continue to look this "gift horse" in the
mouth and insist on counting its teeth and they maintain a
doubting of the word, regardless of cast iron assurances
from honourable witnesses to the final act of
decommissioning by the IRA, then Nationalists will be sure
that their (Unionist) demand has been a cynical bluff from
the beginning.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/28 17:07:15 GMT


Viewpoint: Arms Deal Throws Up New Questions

Political fall-out: It will take some time to convince

28 September 2005

Seven and a half years ago, people who voted in favour of
the Good Friday Agreement did so in the expectation that a
new power-sharing government at Stormont would be dominated
by the centrist parties of the UUP and SDLP.

Since then, times have changed in Northern Ireland. Largely
as a result of the dilatory approach of the IRA, which so
undermined David Trimble's party, the two principal players
today, the DUP and Sinn Fein, are parties which have little
in common other than an adversarial attitude.

To judge from its response to General de Chastelain's
announcement, the DUP is not in a mood to embrace power-
sharing with Sinn Fein for some considerable time.

The outside world may erroneously assume that all of
Northern Ireland's problems are resolved, now the IRA has
got rid of its guns. But the bigger question is whether the
DUP and Sinn Fein are sufficiently compatible to form a

Certainly, it is a bigger challenge than that which David
Trimble faced in the formation of an executive in which the
main partner was a mainstream nationalist constitutional

For the DUP, the central problem is that if some
accommodation cannot be reached, decisions that are
critical to the well-being of people in Northern Ireland
will be taken by NIO Ministers, a system which everyone
agrees is far from perfect.

For its part, Sinn Fein is mistaken if it believes
decommissioning has wiped the slate entirely clean. The
scrapping of weapons is a key development, but so much
blood has flowed under so many bridges over the past 35
years that it will take time to change attitudes within

Sinn Fein's challenge short-term is to prove to unionists
that criminality is over; long-term, it must convince them
that it has transformed itself from an organisation linked
to paramilitaries to a democratic party pursuing
exclusively peaceful means.

Even so, the question remains as to whether it will be
feasible for two such resolutely opposed parties to find
sufficient common ground to establish a full-blown

The hostility may be too intense and the obstacles too
great. In that case the two governments will have no choice
but to consider a more modest model of devolution.


The IRA And Us

The penny should be dropping now. For anyone who is still
bewildered by the continuation of Palestinian terrorism,
just look at Northern Ireland, where the Irish Republican
Army this week decommissioned its weapons.

Not that the two conflicts are identical, of course. "The
troubles" of Northern Ireland are by no means the same as
"the situation" between Israel and the Palestinians, any
more than they could be interchangeable with any other
conflict that is currently raging around the world. But in
this case, the parallels between Ireland and our land are
too many – and too instructive – to ignore.

First, the obvious: The conflicts follow similar timelines,
from their origin to the progress of peace talks. They
involve protracted histories of killing, on ethnic and
religious background, that have long been viewed as
unsolvable. Like Palestinian groups, the IRA splintered
into several factions over the years that partly
complimented, and partly competed with, each other.

Operatives of the IRA and the Palestinian Liberation
Organization have been known to train together and share
their expertise with each other.

On the political front, too, there are striking

The strategy of Sinn Fein – the political movement that,
despite its denials, is considered intimately related to
the IRA – was described in the 1980s as that of "the
Armalite (assault rifle) in one hand, and the ballot box in
the other." It was an eery echo of Yasser Arafat's speech
to the United Nations in 1974, in which he announced that
he had arrived with an olive branch in one hand and a gun
in the other – threatening ominously, "Do not let the olive
branch fall from my hand."

Most importantly, the strategy was a duplicitous ploy that,
perhaps more than anything else, prevented peace: As long
as the gunmen of the IRA were lurking in the background,
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams's flowery pronouncements in
peace talks were meaningless.

Undoubtedly, many in Northern Ireland are still skeptical
of the prospects for peace there. After thousands of deaths
on both sides and generations of hatred, that is only
natural. But if there is reason for them to believe that
the IRA's "armed struggle" has essentially reached its end,
it is this: that the killing has stopped and that the
weapons have been "put permanently beyond use."

And wouldn't you know it? These are the two things that the
Palestinians have never been made to do. When the PLO
became the Palestinian Authority, at best it became
something like Sinn Fein, speaking of ballot boxes while
using the murderous "rejectionist" groups as the trump
card. Now Hamas is playing this double game as well,
claiming that its true desire is to achieve political
entree but refusing to hand over its weapons. This, as the
Irish and the British already know, is not a genuine change
in attitude but a recipe for more violence.

What was key in Ireland would be key here – and the key for
Adams in leading his supporters toward peaceful engagement
was the demand that violence be completely and verifiably
abandoned before full political rights could be attained.
Two realizations that certainly made that decision
inevitable were:

1) that the "armed resistance" had failed to bring about
its desired result, and that further fighting was destined
to continue to fail as well;

2) that there was no longer enough money, or enough
domestic or international support, for the fighters to
continue their bloody battle.

All those governments that wish to help bring peace to our
region would be wise to absorb these lessons, and apply
them immediately. It must be made clear – both to the PA's
Mahmoud Abbas and to the terrorist groups vying to share
power with him – that continuing the armed struggle can
only bring further misery to the Palestinian people, and
that the international community will not support the false
distinction between "political" and "military" wings of
terrorist groups.

Unless the condition of complete disarmament is imposed on
the Palestinian groups, there is no chance of Israel
enjoying the luck of the Irish.


What Was The British SAS Doing In Basra?

By Chris Marsden
28 September 2005

The September 19 arrest of two undercover Special Air
Service officers in Basra, traveling in an unmarked car
containing weapons and explosives, has led to numerous
accusations that they were acting as agents provocateurs.

The BBC reported that the SAS men's car contained "weapons,
explosives and communications gear," before claiming that
these were "standard kit for British special forces."

But in a September 27 article, one of the more serious
reporters on the Middle East, Robert Fisk, wrote in the
Independent, "Remember how we were told that our immense
experience of 'peace-keeping' in Northern Ireland had
allowed us to get on better with the Iraqis in the south
than our American cousins further north?"

Replying to his own question, he wrote, "I don't actually
remember us doing much 'peacekeeping' in Belfast after
about 1969—the rest, I recall, was about biffing the IRA—
but in any case the myth was burned out on the uniforms of
British troops this week.

"Indeed, much of the war in Northern Ireland appeared to
revolve around the use of covert killings and SAS
undercover operatives who blew away IRA men in ambushes."

After making this correct observation of how British
imperialism stirred up sectarian tensions and carried out
political assassinations in order to preserve its rule over
its oldest colonial possession, Fisk continues, "Which does
raise the question, doesn't it, as to just what our two SAS
lads were doing cruising around Basra in Arab dress with
itsy-bitsy moustaches and guns? Why did no one ask? How
many SAS men are in southern Iraq? Why are they there? What
are their duties? What weapons do they carry? Whoops! No
one asked."

Fisk does not say directly what he believes the SAS was up
to. However, in the Arab media the accusations of the Mehdi
army led by Moqtada al-Sadr and others that the two
officers were acting as provocateurs are discussed openly.

Al Jazeera quoted Sheik Hassan al-Zarqani, spokesman for
the Mehdi army, stating, "What our police found in their
car was very disturbing—weapons, explosives, and a remote
control detonator. These are the weapons of terrorists. We
believe these soldiers were planning an attack on a market
or other civilian targets."

The news agency continues, "What needs to be given more
attention in the wake of recent clashes that broke out in
Basra following the arrest of two British soldiers last
week is whether those commandos were planning an attack or
not, whether their car did have explosives or not. The
answer to this question is crucial for the future of Iraq
and Bush's so-called 'war on terror.'

"If allegations that the soldiers' car was loaded with
explosives were proved, this will strengthen the theory
suggesting that the British and American intelligence is
involved in the persistent and violent acts of 'terror'
spreading across Iraq, which means that the current
'counterinsurgency' efforts involve the premeditated
killing of innocent civilians to achieve the US policy
objectives. Isn't this the very definition of terrorism?"

Regarding the issue of explosives, as well as citing the
report by the BBC's Paul Wood, Al Jazeera also notes a
report by the Chinese news service Xinhuanet stating that
the SAS "soldiers were using a civilian car packed with

It also cites a report by Jonathan Finer of the Washington
Post's foreign office, stating, "Monday's clashes stemmed
from the arrest by Iraqi police on Sunday of two Britons,
whom Iraqi police accused of planting bombs."

Amongst a number of reports from Syrian and Turkish news
sources, it singles out a Syrian correspondent in Baghdad,
Ziyad al-Munajjid. He writes: "Many analysts and observers
here had suspicions that the occupation was involved in
some armed operations against civilians and places of
worship and in the killing of scientists. But those were
only suspicions that lacked proof. The proof came today
through the arrest of the two British soldiers while they
were planting explosives in one of the Basra streets.

"This proves, according to observers, that the occupation
is not far from many operations that seek to sow sedition
and maintain disorder, as this would give the occupation
the justification to stay in Iraq for a longer period."

Al Jazeera also quotes a report in Britain's Telegraph
citing Baghdad Muslim cleric Abdel al-Daraji's statement
that "Britain was plotting to start an ethnic war by
carrying out mass-casualty bombings targeting Shiite
civilians and then blaming the attacks on Sunni groups.

"Everyone knows the occupiers' agenda. Their intention is
to keep Iraq an unstable battlefield so they can exploit
their interests in Iraq."

The Telegraph article is in fact an attempt to refute such
allegations as a "smear campaign" designed to "stoke
growing anti-British sentiment in southern Iraq." But the
Telegraph offers no alternative explanation as to why the
SAS would be carrying substantial quantities of explosives
and makes no attempt to deny such reports.

Similarly the BBC's claim that high explosives are standard
issue for the SAS raises more questions than it provides

Why would explosives be required for any other type of
undercover operation than the manufacture and planting of

The only alternative explanation so far advanced was in the
pages of the Sunday Times, which wrote a number of related
articles claiming that the SAS was involved in an extensive
counterinsurgency operation targeting Iranian-backed

The two officers were "engaged in a 'secret war' against
insurgents bringing sophisticated bombs into the country
from Iran." The Times cited "a source with knowledge of
their activities," claiming that the captured patrol was
bringing "more tools and fire power" to a second patrol.

The Times cites another source stating that "a 24-strong
SAS team has been working out of Basra to provide a safety
net to stop the bombers getting into the city from Iran.
The aim is to identify routes used by insurgents and either
capture or kill them."

There is clearly Iranian involvement in the Iraqi quagmire
created by the United States' and Britain's illegal war of
aggression. But again, why would an operation to prevent
the movement of weapons across the Iraqi border involve

The account by the Times does not mention explosives, but
does cite an Iraqi police officer, Khaled Abdul Baqi,
stating that "equipment that resembled a large remote
control of sorts" was found inside the SAS men's car.

In any event, Britain's semi-official denials count for
very little in Basra. The response by the two undercover
SAS officers to Iraqi police attempts to stop them at a
checkpoint suggests that they had something sinister to
hide. The two opened fire, reportedly killing a person and
wounding several others, including police officers.

The official explanation is that the army is now instructed
to treat the local police force as part of the insurgency,
because it is so infiltrated by militia groups. This was
also the army's attitude when it mounted a rescue operation
of the two officers from the local police facility. Some 10
armoured personnel vehicles and a helicopter were used to
storm the building and attack around a thousand
demonstrators, incensed by the discovery of the SAS's
activities. The British Army used live fire and baton
rounds in its assault, killing several people and injuring
many more.

In the immediate aftermath of September 19, British control
of Basra is facing mounting popular opposition. There are
widespread reports of demonstrations against the British.
Local authorities have withdrawn cooperation with the
occupation forces and the city's anti-terrorist judge has
issued an arrest warrant for the two SAS officers.

Britain has rejected the legality of the arrest warrant and
refused a compensation demand for the victims of the
assault on the police facility. Instead, Defence Minister
John Reid has said he intends to scrap the 25,000-strong
police force in southern Iraq and "replace it with a new
military-style unit capable of maintaining law and order."

Creating the conditions for such increased repression has
always been an essential aim of the dirty tricks operations
with which the SAS is associated.


Murder Victim's Family Dismiss Adams' Offer
2005-09-28 16:00:04+01

The family of murdered Dublin man Joseph Rafferty today
dismissed an invitation to meet by Sinn Féin leader Gerry
Adams as a PR stunt.

Mr Rafferty's two sisters believe republicans were involved
in the death of the father-of-one outside his West Dublin
apartment in April and claim Sinn Féin is protecting those

The case has been compared to that of murdered Belfast man
Robert McCartney and both families met in the Short Strand
area two weeks ago.

Sinn Féin claims criminals with no links to the party were
responsible for the crime and Mr Adams today offered to
meet the Rafferty family.

However sister Esther Uzell, who yesterday met Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern on the issue, said she would only meet Mr
Adams if he had straight answers to her questions.

"It will have to be more than a PR stunt or a photo
opportunity. I want hard answers to hard questions.

"I met with the McCartneys recently and he didn't do them
any favours as they are still being intimidated in their
homes and on the street."

Mr Ahern said after meeting the Rafferty family yesterday
that he would raise the issue with Mr Adams at their next

Speaking outside the Dáil today, Mr Adams again denied any
republican links and claimed criminals were responsible.

He offered to meet the Rafferty family to discuss their

Ms Uzell and her sister Sarah Little are due to meet Fine
Gael Seanad leader Brian Hayes at Leinster House today.

Mr Rafferty, 29, died when he was shot twice in the upper
body as he left his apartment at the Ongar Park housing
estate in Blanchardstown last April.

The shooting is believed to have followed a minor dispute
during a party in October 2004.

The Rafferty family claim they have been the victims of IRA
intimidation in their Hogan Place south inner-city

Earlier this month, Dublin City Council unanimously backed
a motion by the family's local councillor Garry Keegan for
an immediate end to the intimidation of the Rafferty

Mr Ahern said yesterday that he was satisfied there was no
official involvement by Sinn Féin.

"I don't think there were any instructions given by the
IRA," he commented.

"Elements, probably of criminality, claimed they had links
with republicans."

The Rafferty family say they plan to take their campaign
for Justice for Joseph to the international stage.


Catholic Doctor Awarded £20,000 In Discrimination Case

A Catholic doctor who claimed religious discrimination
after being turned down for a consultant's post at the
Ulster Hospital has received £20,000 compensation, it
emerged today.

By:Press Association

Even though no liability was admitted, Colm McGurk, from
Belfast, was awarded the cash in a fair employment
settlement reached before tribunal.

The Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust accepted there
were deficiencies in its practices and procedures.

It also confirmed Dr McGurk, 39, was suitable for
appointment when he first applied for the Consultant
Physician post in the General Medicine Department of the
hospital at Dundonald, east Belfast in August 2001.

As part of the agreement the Trust acknowledged and
apologised for the injury to feelings, hurt and distress
caused to Dr McGurk.

It also stressed its commitment to equal employment
opportunities and pledged to meet with the Northern Ireland
Equality Commission, who assisted in the case, to review
policies and procedures for appointing consultants.

Dr McGurk had lodged a complaint at the Fair Employment
Tribunal alleging unlawful religious and/or political

Geraldine Scullion, acting Casework Director at the
Equality Commission`s Strategic Enforcement Division, urged
all organisations to check for deficiencies in recruitment
procedures that can cause distress and legal problems.

She said: "All employers must be careful to ensure that
they not only have sound policies and procedures in place
governing recruitment and selection for all posts, but that
these are fully implemented so as to ensure that every
applicant and potential applicant is afforded equality of
opportunity at each stage of the recruitment process.

"The Trust has committed to liaise with the Commission and
to implement reasonable recommendations.

"By bringing this case Dr McGurk has contributed to a
process which will be to the benefit of future applicants
and indeed to the Trust itself."

In a statement issued later, the Ulster Community &
Hospitals Trust confirmed it settled the Fair Employment
Tribunal case without admitting liability over the
discrimination allegations.

It added: "The Trust has already met with the Equality
Commission as part of its review of recruitment and
selection processes and will continue to reflect and learn
from the set of circumstances and ongoing developments in
the area of recruitment and selection."


DUP Poised To Get Lords Representation

The Democratic Unionist Party was today expected to finally
get representation in the House of Lords.

By:Press Association

It has been a bone of contention within the party that
despite having been in the House of Commons since the Rev
Ian Paisley was elected in 1970, it has never been given a
place in the upper house.

That now looks set to change with an announcement of new
peers from British Prime Minister Tony Blair expected in
the coming weeks.

With the DUP having turned the tables on the Ulster
Unionists at the last General Election to become the
largest party in Northern Ireland, Mr Blair really has
little alternative but to recognise them.

The DUP has nine MP`s and no peers. The UUP is down to a
single MP - Lady Sylvia Hermon - but currently has eight
members of the House of Lords.

A DUP spokesman said of their lack of Peers: "It is
something we have been making representations about in the
recent past.

"It is a matter of record that we have no representation in
the House of Lords despite having nine MP`s."

Parties put forward to the Prime Minister names of people
they think suitable, but it is for him to decide whether to
accept the recommendation.

"Certainly in the past the party has put forward a list of
names we thought suitable to represent the party and work
in the House of Lords," said the spokesman.

A substantial number of politically appointed peers are
former MP`s who lost or resigned their seats.

However the only DUP MP to ever lose his seat was the Rev
William McCrea, and he returned to the House of Commons at
the last election when he ousted David Burnside in South

The DUP is not saying whose names were put forward, however
there has been speculation they include Maurice Morrow, the
Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly member and Eileen
Paisley, wife of the party leader.

The Ulster Unionists, on the other hand, have embarrassing
riches of MP`s who lost their seats at the last election
who could go to the Lords - including former leader David


Ex-UDA Chief Admits Assaulting Wife

Former Ulster Defence Association paramilitary Johnny "Mad
Dog" Adair today admitted assaulting his wife only hours
after he was released from prison.

Adair, 41, of Chorley New Road, Bolton, attacked Gina Adair
on Monday after they celebrated his release.

Bolton Magistrates Court heard how the couple, who have
been married for 23 years and have four children, were
taking a short cut home through Old Station Park in Bolton
after leaving a nearby pub when they started arguing.

Shocked children and their parents playing football in the
park reported seeing Adair repeatedly punch his wife in the
face and then drag her by the hair as she fought to escape,
said Miss Karen Tong, prosecuting.

One child said: "Mummy that man`s going to kill her," the
court heard.

Mrs Adair suffered bruising to her face, cuts on her hands,
and some hair loss in the attack, but did not require
medical treatment.

Adair had been released that day after serving 39 days in
prison for harassment. The harassment charge did not relate
to his wife.

Mr Nick Ross, defending, said Adair had no history of
domestic violence and that the couple had been reconciled
since his arrest.

Adair was released on bail pending sentencing on October 28
while pre-sentencing reports were prepared.

Gina Adair and her children arrived in Bolton in February
2003 after factional feuding within the UDA forced them to
leave Belfast.

Adair joined her earlier this year after he was released
from Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland where he was
serving time for directing terrorism.


TD Ejected From Dáil Over Rossport Five Questions
2005-09-28 17:20:10+01

Independent TD Jerry Cowley was ejected from the Dáil on
its first day after the summer recess today when he
repeatedly tried to raise the plight of the Rossport Five.

Supporters of the five Co Mayo landowners jailed for
blocking work on a Shell gas pipeline near their homes
staged a demo outside the Dáil today.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams had earlier met the men in
Cloverhill Prison as they approached 100 days in jail.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today told the Dáil that he would
consider hiring a mediator to broker agreement on the

"If anything can be done constructively on a mediator, we
will do it," he said.

Dr Cowley, who has championed the case of the Rossport Five
since early July, wasn't allowed to speak during Leaders'
Questions as he isn't a party leader.

But he persisted in raising the issue form the
Independents' benches.

Ceann Comhairle Rory O'Hanlon warned Dr Cowley several
times to sit down before ordering him to leave the chamber
until next week.

Dr Cowley said afterwards: "The Taoiseach is washing his
hands of this affair like Pontious Pilate.

"Appointing a mediator is useless as long as the men are in
prison. The Taoiseach must put pressure on Shell to
collapse the court injunction."

A major national rally will be held by supporters in Dublin
on Saturday.


Government Criticised At Rossport Protest

Mark Brennock

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams called yesterday on the
Government to intervene in the case of the so-called
Rossport Five.

Mr Adams, who joined a protest outside Leinster House in
support of the jailed men, said the Government had a
responsibility to help secure their release. He and Sinn
Féin TD Martin Ferris visited one of the men, Micheál Ó
Seighin, in Cloverhill Prison.

He said the five men were not "in it for themselves", but
because they believed what was being done was not in the
interests of the people of Mayo or of Ireland. He said one
of the core values of Sinn Féin was that natural resources
should be exploited in the interests of the people.

© The Irish Times


McDowell Attacks RTE Over Jail Site Programme

28/09/2005 - 23:07:40

Justice Minister Michael McDowell is to complain to the RTÉ
Authority about a Prime Time Investigates programme into
how his department spent €30 million on a new site for
Mountjoy Prison.

He told the Dáil tonight that the programme departed from
acceptable standards of objectivity and professionalism in
covering the issue on RTÉ One on Tuesday evening.

"I regret to say that the Prime Time programme gave, and
was calculated to give, a most misleading impression to the
viewers," he said.

"Programme-makers in RTÉ are bound to be impartial in their
treatment of current affairs.

"Yesterday was a sorry departure from those standards which
I intend to take up directly with the RTE Authority."

Prime Time Investigates raised questions about how the 150-
acre site at Thornton Hall in north County Dublin was
selected and how the purchase price was negotiated.

The location will house 1,000 prison inmates as well as
patients from the Central Mental Hospital.

Mr McDowell was speaking during a Private Member's Motion
by Fine Gael on the issue.

Moving the motion, Fine Gael justice spokesman Jim O'Keeffe
described the acquisition of the land as "crazy and

Labour's justice spokesman, Joe Costello, called on the
Comptroller and Auditor General to review how the Thornton
Hall site was bought.

"Everybody knows that when the Government comes at you with
a chequebook you quadruple the price," said Fine Gael TD
John Perry.

Local residents' groups opposed to the super-prison
development today marched from Parnell Square to the Dáil.

Members of the Rolestown and St Margaret's Action Group
were met by TDs outside Leinster House.

Spokeswoman Nessa Shevlin said: "Thornton Hall is totally
unsuitable and we have been trying to tell Minister
McDowell and the other Cabinet members that the Government
has made a huge mistake by agreeing to buy this site and by
forging ahead with this plan. But they are not listening,
they don't want to hear.

"If it goes ahead it will result in a massive waste of
taxpayers' money and will have untold consequences for our
community, environment and heritage."

The deal for the land – at almost €200,000 an acre – is due
to be sealed next month.


MRSA 'Significantly Drops' In NI

MRSA cases in Northern Ireland's hospitals have
significantly reduced in the last year, according to a

The Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC) said
this was the first notable annual downturn in its four
years of monitoring the superbug.

Between April 2004 and March 2005, 242 cases were recorded:
this was 65 cases (21%) fewer than the previous year.

CDSC director Dr Brian Smyth said it was encouraging, but
stressed there was no room for complacency.

"It is very welcome to see a reduction in the overall
number of cases and to witness this in hospitals throughout
Northern Ireland," he said.

"However, it remains a challenging task to sustain this
trend over future years, and this must now form the focus
of ongoing work."

The reduction was down to the introduction of new and
substantive infection-control measures within all
hospitals, according to the report's coordinator,
consultant microbiologist Dr Tim Wyatt.

'Downward trend'

"The next objectives are to try and maintain this downward
trend and to further develop the surveillance programme
that we have put in place," he added.

Ten of the 12 hospital trusts recorded a decrease in the
rate of MRSA isolation, the report said.

Dr Wyatt said the MRSA increase in two trusts was not a
major cause for concern and did not mask the overall
improving trend.

"Because hospitals are treating patients with different and
often complex illnesses, the proportion of people at higher
risk from MRSA will always vary," he said.

MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus
aureus, but is shorthand for any strain of Staphylococcus
bacteria which is resistant to one or more conventional

It is more common in hospitals as sick patients are more
vulnerable to picking up infections.

Also, conditions on wards, which involve lots of people
living in close proximity, examined by doctors and nurses
who have just touched other patients, are the perfect
environment for the transmission of a variety of

The report said there were 568 patient episodes of
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) bacteraemia across all
hospitals between April 2004 and March 2005.

This was 109 (16%) fewer than the previous year.

S. aureus is a bacteria commonly carried on the skin and
can occasionally lead to blood-stream infections, should it
enter the body through skin or wound infections.

Mary McIlroy, the senior infection control nurse at
Belfast's Mater Hospital, said staff were working very hard
to tackle the problem.

"We have really been concentrating on things like audits
and training all of our staff," she said.

"We have also been trying to introduce measures for the
public, so that any visitors coming in are encouraged to
wash their hands and also to take measures.

"We have produced a visitors' policy, whereby we are
encouraging people who are unwell not to come in to visit
their sick relatives."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/28 05:53:55 GMT


Geoghegan Quinn For Second Term

Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent

The Government has nominated former minister Maire
Geoghegan Quinn to serve a second six-year term as the
Irish member of the European Court of Auditors.

Ms Geoghegan Quinn is Ireland's outgoing representative on
the body, and her reappointment will mean she will serve 12
years in the Luxembourg-based post, which pays in the
region of €250,000 a year.

The Government decision ends speculation about the post, in
particular rumours that Minister for Social and Family
Affairs Séamus Brennan could be nominated to the post,
allowing for another Cabinet reshuffle.

Ms Geoghegan Quinn's reappointment has to be approved by
the European Council in consultation with the European
Parliament, but this is seen as a formality. Once she is
approved, after hearings held by the budgetary control
committee of the European Parliament, she will begin her
second term in March 2006.

Announcing the decision to renominate Ms Geoghegan Quinn
yesterday, the Taoiseach said she had "given outstanding
service on the European Court of Auditors, where she is
making a substantial contribution to the work of this
important EU institution.

"The Government is happy to nominate her for reappointment
to the court, where she will be able to continue her work
in ensuring that the citizens of Europe obtain maximum
value for the funds spent through the EU budget."

© The Irish Times


Cliffs Of Moher Centre To Cost €31.4M

Gordon Deegan

The cost of a Cliffs of Moher interpretative centre has
now climbed to €31.45 million, with Clare County Council
facing an estimated €4.45 million shortfall in funding for
the scheme.

The revised cost of the centre, confirmed by project leader
Ger Dollard, is more than eight times the original estimate
of €3.8 million put on the scheme in 1990 when plans were
first mooted.

The council only lodged plans for the scheme in 2001 after
securing the necessary land from the local Considine
family. In part-return the Considines will operate a shop
in the centre.

In the 1960s the Considines rejected a bid from a German
company to buy 60 acres that would have given it ownership
of land over the cliffs.

Work started on the council's two-storey centre last April,
and the facility is expected to open in the first quarter
of 2007.

The council has secured €10 million in grant aid from
Fáilte Ireland for the scheme.

It also has approval from Government to secure a loan of
€15 million and has a historic investment of €2 million,
leaving a shortfall of €4.45 million.

To date, consultants have been paid €1.7 million for their

Cork firm Rohcon is being paid €21.7 million to construct
the centre and put in place ancillary facilities.

In a bid to bridge the funding shortfall, Mr Dollard said
the council had an application for additional grant aid
with Fáilte Ireland based on the actual tender received as
opposed to the estimates originally submitted.

He also confirmed that the council was seeking a corporate
sponsor for the project, either in Ireland or elsewhere.

"We are putting in place a separate company structure to
manage the commercial aspects of the operation and allow
VAT reclaim."

Newly-appointed manager of the visitor centre Katherine
Webster said she expected visitor numbers to the centre to
top 800,000 in its first full year of operation.

As part of the project, the council is to also seek World
Heritage Site designation for the cliffs.

Meanwhile, the council is taking legal moves to ensure that
music is a thing of the past at the cliffs.

The local authority is serving solicitor letters on buskers
who play at the cliffs, demanding that they no longer play.

According to the council, the musicians are operating
without permission on council property and are, therefore,
trading illegally.

© The Irish Times


Antrim Village Hit By Mini Tornado

A mini tornado wreaked havoc as it tore through a Co Antrim
village today.

By:Press Association

Gales lasting no more than a minute left a trail of damaged
homes, cars and uprooted trees in Aghalee.

Although no injuries were reported, tiles were blown off
roofs, windows smashed and garden furniture flung about.

At one stage a car was lifted off the ground by fierce
winds brought in amid driving rain.

As stunned villagers carried out repairs, Denise Greenan
told how her oil tank was blown away.

"I looked out the back window and my child`s sand pit had
lifted up and blown away," she said.

"There was also a white car sitting and the back end of it
lifted off the ground."

Ms Greenan added that she saw a Renault Clio being buffeted
by the storms.

"The back end of it lifted off the ground," she told BBC
Radio Ulster.

Another man told how winds were swirling round with debris
blowing everywhere.

"It was like a real whirlwind, it had the whole movement,"
he said.

A Met Office spokesman confirmed an active cold front
across Northern Ireland had brought 10 minutes of intense
rain and recorded winds gusting at over 50 mph.

"There may have been a brief circulation which maybe caused
some minor damage to trees and a few roof tiles," he said.

"It`s not impossible that there was some sort of minor
circulation from the clouds touching the ground, but it
certainly wasn`t widespread."

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