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September 23, 2005

Poll: Rainbow Coalition Ahead

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 09/24/05 Rainbow Coalition Ahead As Voters' Preference
IT 09/24/05 Adams Foresees IRA Move After Positive Talks
IO 09/23/05 Green Party General Secretary Dies
EX 09/23/05 Green V Orange: Let's Try Exchange Of Colours
BB 09/23/05 Community Faces Up To Sex Attacks


Rainbow Coalition Ahead As Voters' Preference

More voters would prefer an alternative government
composed of Fine Gael, Labour and possibly the Green Party
over the current Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats
coalition, according to the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi
poll. Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent,

The rainbow alternative has a clear lead over Fianna Fáil
and the Progressive Democrats on the questions of which
would be better at controlling prices, improving the health
services and providing affordable and good-quality

Voters are evenly divided on the key question of which of
these two possible governments would best handle the
economy and keep taxes low.

Some 36 per cent would prefer a coalition involving Fine
Gael, Labour and possibly the Green Party to form the next
government. The existing Fianna Fáil/PD combination is
preferred by 31 per cent; 20 per cent want neither of
these; and 13 per cent have no opinion.

The poll was conducted last Monday and Tuesday among a
national quota sample of 1,000 voters at 100 sampling
points throughout all constituencies in the State.

Asked if they would prefer a different coalition from the
current one - not necessarily the Fine Gael/Labour/Green
Party option - 54 per cent said they would, a fall of one
point since June.

Just 29 per cent said they would prefer the existing
Government, a fall of 3 points since June. Some 17 per cent
have no opinion, up four points.

The Fine Gael/Labour/Green Party alternative coalition has
its greatest lead over the current combination among
younger voters, with the gap narrowing among older groups,
and the FF/PD coalition having a lead among the over-65s.

There is also a sharp divide between urban and rural
voters, with the current coalition having a clear lead in
rural areas and the alternative preferred in urban areas.

In the 18-24 age group the alternative government is
preferred by 35 per cent, the current coalition by 23 per
cent, 12 per cent want neither of these and 21 per cent
have no opinion.

Among the over-65s, in contrast, 39 per cent would prefer
the present FF/PD combination to form the next government,
35 per cent the alternative of Fine Gael, Labour and
possibly the Greens, 17 per cent neither of these, and 10
per cent have no opinion.

Some 40 per cent of rural voters would prefer the Fianna
Fáil/PD coalition, 33 per cent Fine Gael, Labour and
possibly the Greens, 17 per cent neither of these, and 10
per cent have no opinion.

In contrast, 38 per cent of urban voters would prefer Fine
Gael, Labour and the Greens, 24 per cent Fianna Fáil and
the PDs, 22 per cent neither of these, and 15 per cent have
no opinion.

Voters are almost evenly divided as to which of these two
possible coalitions would best manage the economy and keep
taxes low. The alternative has a clear lead among voters on
the question of which would be better at improving the
health services, providing affordable and good quality
childcare and controlling consumer prices. TNS mrbi opinion


Members of the Sinn Féin delegation arriving at Government Buildings yesterday (from left): Bairbre de Brún, Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

Adams Foresees Major IRA Move After 'Positive' Talks

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

Both the Government and Sinn Féin have said the Northern
peace process is "on the cusp" of major developments, due
to the expected announcement on IRA decommissioning.

It could transform the political situation and society in
Northern Ireland, and have significant implications for the
country as a whole.

Speaking outside Government Buildings in Dublin following
the first formal meeting between both sides since January,
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that politicians, North
and South and in London, had to be prepared to exploit the
"enormous opportunities" that would arise from the
announcement, which is expected in the next week.

The party's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness told people
not to underestimate the expected announcement on IRA

"We are on the threshold of something very, very important,
maybe an event more important than what happened in the
summer of '94, maybe even more important than what happened
on July 28th this year," he said.

The Government also sounded an extremely positive note
following the meeting.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, who with Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern,
met the Sinn Féin delegation, said he had no evidence to
suggest the IRA had been involved in criminal or other
activity since its announcement in July.

"If you ask me do I see disturbing signs that they are
being two-faced on this issue, I don't," Mr McDowell said.

Mr Dermot Ahern said if the IRA did deliver on
decommissioning, he believed the DUP would share power with
Sinn Féin.

"How long that will take I don't know, but I do believe we
are on the cusp of something major in our society, not only
just in Northern Ireland but on the island of Ireland, if a
momentous decision is made by the IRA in effect to go out
of business," he said.

Describing yesterday's meeting which lasted nearly two
hours as "positive", Mr Adams said Sinn Féin was seeking
commitments from the Government and Britain to move the
process forward once decommissioning took place.

"The rest of us who have political responsibilities,
particularly those in government, need to be prepared when
that happens to be able to move forward to exploit in the
national interest and in the advancement of the peace
process, the huge opportunity that is going to open up," he

Mr Adams also acknowledged that the issue of policing -
Sinn Féin's continued refusal to co-operate with policing
boards - would have to be addressed. There were a number of
outstanding issues, most of which were "mechanical", he

"There are some outstanding issues, and I made a case of
asking the Government to help us in getting those issues

Mr Adams also said the DUP and its leader the Rev Ian
Paisley should be given "the benefit of the doubt" in
relation to how that party might react to IRA

"Let him be given the bit of space to come to all of this
in a timely and a positive way," he said.

During the meeting, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin also
raised the issue of republican prisoners, including the
killers of Det Garda Jerry McCabe, and according to Mr
McDowell suggested all might be released as a goodwill

Mr McDowell said the Government ruled this out completely.

© The Irish Times


Green Party General Secretary Dies

23/09/2005 - 17:27:30

The Green Party has postponed its pre-Dáil meeting after
the party's general secretary Dermot Hamilton died suddenly

The 48-year-old fell ill this morning with chest pains and
was taken to Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, where he died of a
heart attack at around 10.30am.

He was a 20-year veteran of the Green Party and had
contested a number of local elections, before being
appointed general secretary in February this year.

Mr Hamilton, from Rush, Co Dublin, is survived by his wife
Patricia and teenage daughter Kelly.

The Green Party postponed its parliamentary meeting in
Dublin today and cancelled engagements scheduled for the
weekend as a mark of respect.

Leader Trevor Sargent paid tribute to Mr Hamilton, whose
death he described as a huge loss to the party.

"Dermot made a huge contribution to the Green movement as a
member as well as a candidate in the early 90s and more
recently as general secretary.

"As general secretary his dedication brought us to a higher
level of organisation than ever before.

"He was extremely popular among staff and party members and
we are all deeply shocked at this sad news," Mr Sargent

Speaking before the party's parliamentary meeting was due
to get under way, TDs said they would bring real change to
an alternative government.

The party has unveiled its energy strategy – which aims to
switch Ireland to 100% renewable energy by 2050 – and said
it was the first of a number of detailed policy documents
to be released over coming months.

Energy spokesman Eamon Ryan dismissed recent criticism by
Michael McDowell that the party would raise taxes and build
fewer roads, claiming he didn't know what he was talking
about on transport and education, and reissued his
challenge to the Justice Minister to an open debate on the
two issues.

Mr Ryan also said the childcare document, drawn up in
consultation with parents and groups such as the National
Women's Council of Ireland, would give families choice on
how they brought up their children.

It aims for a balanced approach by providing flexible
working, greater parental leave and a payment which allows
parents to choose between childcare and bringing up their
child themselves.



Green V Orange: Let's Try An Exchange Of Colours

IRELAND cannot much longer afford the routine denigration
of the Green and the Orange. Do we really want to humiliate
Orangemen (or Sinn Féin for that matter) by insisting that
their leaders condemn themselves and their supporters in
front of the world?

For what purpose, and for whose benefit? There is a certain
self-righteousness that amounts to a kind of bigotry in the
willingness of politicians and commentators to identify the
combatants in the Irish conflict as 'sectarian bigots' or
'murderous thugs'.

The struggle between unionists and nationalists (or
republicans) in the Six Counties has been one of the most
protracted and bitter in the annals of European history. I
have little doubt that, unchecked by decisive action of
some kind, it has the potential to continue to the day of

There must be much more to such a conflict than mere
bigotry and thuggery. On both sides there are men and women
of principle prepared to sacrifice their lives for a cause
they hold sacred. On both sides there is long-lasting
sorrow and a deep sense of injustice (and indeed the
reality of injustice). What right have we from our ivory
towers in Dublin and Westminster to condemn the people of
both communities in Northern Ireland who continue to
experience the horrors of civil conflict?

The condition of peace is more, much more, than ceasefires.
It is the extending of the hand of friendship to those who
have been our deadly enemies. It requires the active force
of Christian forgiveness and compassion.

What good has the banning of parades done for us over the
years? Surely we need to transform the nature of parades
into moments of shared communal celebration (somewhat in
the manner of the Notting Hill Carnival after the race

To seek to deny access to the Orange marchers to their
traditional routes is surely to extend the principle of
partition to the village and the street and in effect to
deny to Orangemen their very sense of Irishness. Is this
really what we want to do? If so, it is a contradiction of
the very symbolism of the Tricolour which holds the Green
and Orange together in peaceful celebration.

Let us try to look at the matter afresh in the light of
friendship rather than of hostility and alienation. Let us
abandon the language of vilification that has done so much
harm in Irish history (as, for example, to the reputations
of Parnell and Redmond).

Let us (if it is at all possible) have the mother and
father of an Orange parade in which the orange of Armagh
(champions of Ulster) may be seen alongside the Williamite

If we find such a juxtaposition impossible to conceive,
then we have given up on the possibility of true peace and
reconciliation in Ireland.

But I hope that we shall never yield to such a counsel of

Dr Gerald Morgan
School of English
Trinity College
Dublin 2


Community Faces Up To Sex Attacks

A spate of sexual assaults at a wooded area near Poleglass
in west Belfast must be stopped, a community meeting has

The most recent attack happened last weekend at the Forest
area between the Glenwood and Woodside estates.

A crowd gathered there to hear speakers from the local
Women's Centre and the Safer Neighbourhood Project put
forward ideas on how to stop further assaults.

Local people were repeatedly called on to work together and
reclaim the area.

One of the women who was recently attacked attended
Friday's meeting.

Afterwards, she told the BBC she had been walking in the
area when youths stole her purse.

She chased them into the forest area where they turned on
her, pulled at her clothes and pushed her to the ground.

The woman said she was lucky that a passer-by intervened
and saved her.

Sinn Fein assembly member Michael Ferguson said it was
important to "reclaim this part of our community from anti-
social elements who are abusing alcohol and drugs in the
forest and then launching violent attacks on women".

Mr Ferguson said they would be told "they can no longer
congregate there and we will peacefully occupy the space".

He suggested a number of measures to regenerate the area
and redesign certain areas "to turn negatives into

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/23 21:40:51 GMT

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