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September 27, 2005

US Doors Open for SF Again

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 09/27/05 Doors Open Again For Sinn Fein In US
US 09/27/05 US Welcomes Report On IRA Disarmament
IT 09/27/05 South Armagh Backs IRA Move
WP 09/27/05 Belfast Catholics Ask: Who Will Fill The Void?
NY 09/27/05 Opin: The I.R.A. Finally Risks Disarmament
CN 09/27/05 Clergy Say Decommissioning Methods Can Be Model
IT 09/28/05 SDLP 'Reassured' After Meeting
IT 09/28/05 UUP Deputy Praises Role Of Witnesses
IT 09/28/05 Unionists At Odds Over IRA Arms Disposal
IT 09/28/05 A Glint Of Hope Amid A Mood Of Anticlimax
BB 09/27/05 DUP: Weapons Witnesses 'IRA-Nominated'
IT 09/28/05 Focus On Convincing Unionists
BT 09/27/05 Just What Were Their Reasons For Rioting?


Doors Open Again For Sinn Fein In US

By Noel McAdam
27 September 2005

Sinn Fein was coming back in from the cold in the United
States today in the aftermath of the IRA's historic
disarmament moves.

As senior negotiator Martin McGuinness prepared to fly out
to Washington to meet senior Irish-American figures,
political doors which were shut fast following the killing
of Robert McCartney and the Northern Bank raid were being

Veteran Democrat, Senator Ted Kennedy, who refused to meet
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams during the traditional St
Patrick's week celebrations, singled him out for praise for
his role in what he described as a "watershed" in the peace

"Hopefully, this dramatic and historic step toward peace
will be embraced by the unionist community and become a new
dawn for the peace process, so that the all-important
restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly can take place
as soon as possible," he said.

The White House struck a more cautious note, however,
welcoming the decommissioning as a "critical first step"
but urged further movement on the issues of criminality and


United States Welcomes Report On IRA Disarmament

Decommissioning is opportunity to move towards political

Members of IICD - Brig. Gen. Tauno Nieminen of Finland,
Gen. John de Chastelain of Canada, and Amb. Andrew Sens of
the U.S. - testify that the IRA has given up its entire
arsenal of weapons. (©AP/WWP)

The White House welcomed a September 26 statement by the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
(IICD) that the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) has
comprehensively and verifiably disarmed, calling it "an
historic day for Northern Ireland."

The IRA pledged on July 28 to end its armed campaign and
resume disarmament, and to achieve its goals "through
exclusively peaceful means." (See related story.)

The decommissioning is "extremely encouraging for all those
who support the peace process, the rule of law, and a
Northern Ireland free from sectarian violence. It also
marks an opportunity for all parties to renew efforts to
reach a sustainable political settlement in Northern
Ireland," said a White House statement.

Speaking the same day, State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack noted that "a critical step in reaching the goals
of the Good Friday Accord has always been decommissioning.
And today's report by the IICD states that this has been

"The action by the IRA is an important step forward on the
path toward a sustainable political settlement in Northern
Ireland," McCormack said.

The Good Friday Accord of April 10, 1998, calls for
Protestants to share political power with the minority
Catholics, and gives the Republic of Ireland a voice in
Northern Irish affairs. In turn, Catholics are to suspend
the goal of a united Ireland unless the largely Protestant
North voted in favor of such an arrangement.

The United States called on "all other paramilitary groups
in Northern Ireland, whether loyalist or republican, to
engage with the IICD to bring about total decommissioning
at the earliest possible date." The IRA's "laudable
decommissioning must be followed by actions demonstrating
the republican movement's unequivocal commitment to the
rule of law and to the renunciation of all paramilitary and
criminal activities."

The Provisional IRA was formed in 1969 as the clandestine,
armed wing of the political movement Sinn Fein. It had the
avowed goal of removing British forces from Northern
Ireland and integrating Ireland and Northern Ireland, which
is currently part of the United Kingdom.

The group historically has resorted to violence to further
its message and is responsible for several terrorist
incidents and bombing attacks in the United Kingdom since
the 1970s.

Following is the White House statement:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

September 26, 2005

Statement by the Press Secretary


We welcome today's statement by the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) that the
Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) has comprehensively
and verifiably disarmed. This announcement marks an
historic day for Northern Ireland and is extremely
encouraging for all those who support the peace process,
the rule of law, and a Northern Ireland free from sectarian
violence. It also marks an opportunity for all parties to
renew efforts to reach a sustainable political settlement
in Northern Ireland.

President Bush commends the efforts of General John de
Chastelain and his fellow IICD commissioners, and applauds
the efforts of Sinn Fein in bringing the republican
community to this moment.

The United States calls on all other paramilitary groups in
Northern Ireland, whether loyalist or republican, to engage
with the IICD to bring about total decommissioning at the
earliest possible date.

The IRA's decommissioning is a critical first step in
fulfilling the terms of the IRA's July 28 statement to
pursue its goals through exclusively peaceful and
democratic means. The IRA's laudable decommissioning must
be followed by actions demonstrating the republican
movement's unequivocal commitment to the rule of law and to
the renunciation of all paramilitary and criminal
activities. The United States further calls on Sinn Fein,
the IRA, and all republicans to fully support the police

The United States remains steadfast in its support for the
peace process and the work of the British and Irish
Governments to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation for
the people of Northern Ireland under the principles of the
Good Friday Agreement.

Created: 26 Sep 2005 Updated: 26 Sep 2005


South Armagh Backs IRA Move

Susan McKay samples opinion in south Armagh, where the
British army watchtowers still loom large on the hilltops.

Driving from the South into Culloville, you only know
you're in the North at first because the road gets worse
and there are Tricolours on the telegraph poles. Talk of
North and South is confusing round here - Culloville in the
North is to the south of Castleblayney in the South. The
restaurant in Culloville is called Break for the Border.
The pub has a poster for last weekend's Make Partition
History rally in Dublin.

"It's a great move the IRA has made," says a man eating his
lunchtime sandwich outside the garage. He's a republican,
he says. "There was some in south Armagh reluctant, and
some thought it would never happen. But you have to go with
the majority. This is the way forward," he says. "It's the
only way. It is up to the two governments now. The
unionists have always had the upper hand and now Catholics
are getting even; they don't want to let go."

An elderly man walking his dogs agrees the IRA's move is
for the best. "But still these unionists aren't satisfied.
They don't seem any different to what they were. They don't
seem to want normality. Time only will tell."

Nearly everyone approached seems to share these views.
"It's great news," says a young woman with a baby in her
arms. "You mightn't want to talk to me, though. I'm only
here 10 years. I don't think it will change much around
here. The big change happened with the ceasefire. I think
we'll have stalemate for a while. Paisley's reaction was
completely predictable. He is so negative. It's as if he
doesn't want the province to get back to normal."

Just two years ago, a young local man, Keith Rogers, was
shot dead in Culloville during a confrontation with other
locals. Rogers was only 24. He'd been 15 when the IRA
declared its ceasefire. Yet he was an IRA man, apparently
on a punishment mission.

Veteran IRA man Brian Keenan gave a fierce oration at his
funeral, denouncing felon-setters for treachery and
claiming the young volunteer had died for "the struggle".

The priest said it was time to recognise that after 30
years the conflict was over.

These are the black hills that Patrick Kavanagh wrote
about, but while there's poverty still, no doubt, there are
plenty of gaudy mansions now in the bogs of Armagh. No
doubt most of this wealth has been legitimately gained, but
there are also businesses under the scrutiny of the North's
Assets Recovery Agency.

Behind Culloville, on the road to Crossmaglen, the British
army watchtowers still loom large on the hilltops. A
helicopter flies in low and noisy over the village, and a
foot-patrol of armed British soldiers trudges past the
housing estates. Most of the flags are for the GAA, but the
square is dominated by the stark monument to the glory of
the "humble heroes", who suffered "for your unselfish and
passionate love for Irish freedom".

A young man in a baseball hat says peace is good, but the
IRA should have held on to some of its guns. "If the war
starts up again, they're f . . . . .," he says. A community
worker says locals won't be joining the police "any time

A woman sweeping out her shop said Monday was a great day.
"We thought the Troubles would never end. Now all we need
is for the unionists to settle down and get around the
table. But, sure, if you gave them the whole of Ireland
they wouldn't be satisfied."

© The Irish Times


Belfast Catholics Ask: Who Will Fill The Void?

IRA Disarmament Leaves 'Sense of Unease'

By Mary Jordan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 28, 2005; Page A14

BELFAST, Sept. 27 -- Francis Murphy, a bartender at the
Shamrock Sports and Social Club in the Catholic community
of Ardoyne, is not happy the Irish Republican Army has put
away its guns. "I don't agree with it at all," said Murphy,
20, about Monday's report by an independent commission that
the IRA had disposed of all its weapons.

He said that just a few streets away from where he stood in
North Belfast, Protestant paramilitary members were still
armed: "Why should we give up our guns when they haven't
given up theirs?"

It is a question many Catholics in volatile areas like
Ardoyne are asking a day after the landmark announcement
that Northern Ireland's most powerful paramilitary group is
now unarmed. While political leaders from Washington to
London and Catholics generally hailed the move, many people
along the streets of Ardoyne, a working-class enclave of
2,500 Catholic families that is set tight against larger
Protestant neighborhoods, said they felt conflicted and

Ardoyne is one of the flash-point areas in the British
province that has been a scene of frequent of violence
during the 35-year conflict. Many analysts here contend
that the ultimate success or failure of the Northern
Ireland peace process depends on calming the fears of
people such as the residents of Ardoyne.

In this neighborhood, where sectarian tension remains an
everyday reality, there is "a sense of unease" about the
IRA putting down its guns, said the Rev. Aidan Troy, a
Catholic priest. "A lot of people are wondering who will
defend them."

Catholics in Ardoyne have little trust in the British
police and for years have relied on IRA members to mediate
disputes and impose order. Now there is uncertainty about
who is going to fulfill that function.

For example, said Murphy, if a car is stolen, people might
report the theft to the police for insurance purposes, but
they "would know that the police would never help them
recover it."

Others listening to the conversation in the Shamrock club
agreed: The best way to recover a stolen car is to ask the
local IRA man to intervene. But now, many wonder, will he
wield the same authority without his gun?

The IRA's "rough justice," as it is often called here, has
by no means been universally popular, many people
interviewed here were quick to add. But they said it had
been the system for decades, and some worried that small
splinter groups from the IRA would try to fill the void.

Many Catholics said they hoped that the British and Irish
governments, which have invested much in the peace process,
would now focus hard on the police.

"The key issue now is to get a police force that everyone
accepts," said the Rev. Alec Reid, a Catholic priest and
one of two clergymen asked to witness what is known as the
"decommissioning" of IRA arms.

In an interview, he said Catholics who want Northern
Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland need to
join the force so it is no longer seen as representing
people who want the majority Protestant province to remain
under British rule.

The 1998 Good Friday accords between the two sides provided
for reform of the police force. But people in Ardoyne say
much more reform is needed before it will be fully trusted.

While many Protestant leaders said this week that they did
not believe the IRA had truly disarmed, Reid said he firmly
believed that the group had turned over all its weapons and
that "history will prove that this is the end of the IRA."

That news can be unsettling for those living on the front
lines. In Ardoyne, Troy said, Protestants and Catholics
live so close to one another that "they can see the whites
of each others' eyes."

Brenda Griffith, 44, a shop assistant in the neighborhood,
with its Irish flags flying and IRA murals painted on brick
walls, said she had mixed feelings about the IRA packing
away its guns.

"I am delighted because it means less are going to be
killed," she said, adding that she was "no advocate of the
IRA." But she also said she was very conscious that the
Protestant paramilitary groups who live so close by -- and
who police have said were responsible for a spate of
killings and riots this year -- were still armed and still
hostile to her Catholic community.

"You thought you had a little defense," she said, "and now
you don't."

Gerard McGuigan, 51, a former city council member from
Ardoyne who said his house was bombed twice by Protestants,
said many people in the neighborhood risked their lives to
hide weapons for the IRA and at least 100 people from the
area lost their lives in the conflict. After so much work
went into getting the weapons, he said, it was not
surprising that people had conflicted feelings over the
announcement that the weapons had been given up.


Opin: The I.R.A. Finally Risks Disarmament

Published: September 27, 2005

A singular opportunity in the bloody strife of Northern
Ireland is at hand with word from an independent monitor
that the Irish Republican Army has in fact scrapped its
hidden arsenals of war weaponry. Vast amounts of murderous
tools from the modern Troubles have been rendered unusable
and sealed away, according to John de Chastelain, the
retired Canadian general who spent the last seven and a
half years laboring to make the balking leaders of the
I.R.A. deliver on the disarmament promise of the Good
Friday peace accord.

"That can be the end of the use of the gun in Irish
politics," the general said. For this to prove true,
Northern Ireland needs a comparably dramatic step from
leaders of the Protestant unionist majority. Thus far,
however, Ian Paisley and his Democratic Unionists have
grievously tolerated rioting, bombing and gunfire from
their side of the sectarian divide, carried out by
paramilitary thugs dedicated to foiling the I.R.A. and
feeding the North's deep ties to London with fresh blood.

It's important to note that the governments in both London
and Dublin quickly hailed the I.R.A. disarmament as
believable. Mr. Paisley no longer has grounds to shrink
from agreeing to a power-sharing executive cabinet with the
I.R.A.'s political wing, Sinn Fein, the party with the
support of the northern Catholic minority.

Some 3,500 lives were lost across three decades in the
modern revival of Ireland's centuries-old blood feud. Civil
rights protests by the suffering Catholic minority were met
by violence, and a violent I.R.A. offshoot formed.
Extremists ravaged peaceful neighborhoods on both sides,
while I.R.A. terror reached the heart of London and beyond.

The landmark Good Friday accord of 1998 was hardly helped
by the I.R.A.'s years of delay before finally disarming.
The procrastination helped Mr. Paisley pull Protestant
constituents away from the path of political moderation.
But the I.R.A. has disarmed now, so Mr. Paisley should step
forward and demand an end to the mayhem by his community 's
extremists. Neither side can afford to let this pivotal
disarmament step die on the vine.


Clergy Say IRA Decommissioning Methods Can Serve As Model
For Others

By Cian Molloy
Catholic News Service

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- The methods used in
decommissioning the Irish Republican Army's paramilitary
arsenal can serve as a model for peacekeepers elsewhere in
the world, said the two clergymen who witnessed the
destruction of thousands of guns and hundreds of pounds of

Father Alex Reid, a member of the Redemptorist peace
mission in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the Rev. Harold
Good, a former president of the Methodist Church in
Ireland, acted as independent witnesses to the destruction
of handguns, rifles, automatic weapons, machine guns,
surface-to-air missiles, grenade launchers, explosives and
bomb-making equipment.

The priest and minister witnessed the activities of the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning,
set up in 1998 following the Good Friday Agreement. For the
last two months, following the IRA's announcement that it
was ending its armed campaign, the three-member
decommissioning team has been accepting weapons held in
secret arms dumps across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

At a press conference in Belfast Sept. 26, Canadian Gen.
John de Chastelain, head of the decommissioning commission,
said he believes IRA members have put their weapons beyond
use. Rev. Good read a joint statement in which the two
clergymen supported the general's report.

"We are certain about the exactitude of this report because
we spent many days watching the meticulous and painstaking
way in which Gen. de Chastelain, (Finnish) Brig. Gen. Tauno
Nieminen and (U.S. diplomat) Andrew Sens went about
decommissioning the huge amounts of explosives, arms and
ammunition that they have described in their statement,"
Rev. Good said.

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

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

Catholic bishops from Northern Ireland commended the work
of the Independent International Commission on

"Today's announcement is a vindication of the efforts
undertaken by all those who have, over the years,
courageously worked to replace violence with dialogue," the
bishops said in a Sept. 26 statement.

"We hope that all who exercise leadership will continue to
affirm the political process as the means to resolve any
remaining issues in the search for peace. We call on all
other paramilitary groups to affirm their commitment to
exclusively peaceful and democratic means," they said.

They also offered prayers for the victims of violence in
Northern Ireland.

In 1969, the IRA, which has been outlawed for years, began
a campaign of violence prompted in part, it claimed, by the
failure of British security forces to protect Catholic
neighborhoods in Northern Ireland from attack by Protestant

The organization then went on the offensive with a campaign
of assassinations and bombings in Northern Ireland and
other parts of Great Britain, so that between 1969 and the
Good Friday Agreement of 1998 the IRA is generally
acknowledged to be responsible for about half of the nearly
3,500 violent deaths that occurred during the period known
as the Troubles.

Because no photographs were taken of the decommissioning
process, some in the Protestant community do not believe
the IRA has fully ended its campaign of violence.

The Rev. Ian Paisley, head of the Democratic Unionist
Party, which enjoys the highest share of the Protestant
vote in Northern Ireland, described the decommissioning as
"a cover-up."

"To describe today's act as being transparent would be the
falsehood of this century," he said.

Meanwhile, some Catholics in Belfast were concerned that
IRA weapons were no longer available to protect them from
sectarian attack by Protestant mobs, Irish media reported.
The reports said that fear was balanced with a greater
confidence among Catholics that members of the Police
Service of Northern Ireland would come to their aid if
their areas were attacked.



SDLP 'Reassured' After Meeting

Mark Hennessy Political Correspondent

The guarantees offered about the IRA's destruction of
arms by Gen John de Chastelain and two independent church
witnesses should be believed, the SDLP has said.

Following a meeting with the Independent International
Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), Alex Atwood said they
were "more reassured".

The IICD had made it "very clear to the IRA that the IRA
had to be absolutely true and honest" about its
decommissioning intentions, or never be believed again.

Rejecting Democratic Unionist Party charges against the
IICD and the church witnesses, Mr Atwood said they were "in
nobody's pocket, or nobody's fools.

"They said to the IRA that the IRA could only get this
right once and if they got it wrong, if the IRA were not
being upfront, straight and true then that would become
clear," he told journalists.

However, the IRA must face major penalties if it ever goes
back to violence, he said. "If in the future the IRA uses a
gun, or robs a bank, or threatens a family then everybody
including governments must call it.

"Yesterday should have been the end of ambiguity. In future
there must be no ambiguity from the governments. The nature
of the process must change," he warned.

Dismissing the DUP's criticisms that former Methodist
president the Rev Harold Good and Redemptorist priest Fr
Alec Reid were "IRA appointees", Mr Atwood said: "People
have to see beyond the issue of who did or didn't appoint
the witnesses.

"The real issue is: do people believe that the three
members of the commission and the two witnesses are in
somebody's pocket, or are fools? Do people seriously
conclude that they are either one or the other?" But he
warned that the DUP would not be prompted by the IRA's move
into a speedy return of the Northern political

The DUP's opposition to such a move was not a posture.

"You can conclude that it is hardening, both a tactical and
a strategic hardening," Mr Attwood said. However, many in
the Unionist community, "including those who have suffered
horribly" were quite clear that "a massive act of
decommissioning" had taken place.

"If unionism across its broad range is recognising that
this is different, then it is difficult for the DUP to
sustain the argument that things are worse than they were
before. That is a problem that they will have to get their
head around," he told The Irish Times.

Speaking from Brighton, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the
Irish and British governments should prevent the DUP from
blocking progress .

"The Ulster Unionists played the delay game by blocking the
setting up of the Executive. Then Sinn Féin played the same
game over decommissioning. Now the DUP thinks its their

"The governments have to be rock-solid in their response.
They should tell the DUP where to go, back into the Good
Friday agreement's institutions." The DUP, he said, was
trying to "turn the clock back on change".

"They must not succeed with this destructive agenda. The
governments must stand firm for 50-50 [ police]
recruitment, protect the Parades Commission.

"They must not fall into the trap of delivering side deals
to the DUP. The culture of side deals has only damaged the
political process and taken us all away from the Good
Friday agreement," he said.

© The Irish Times


UUP Deputy Praises Role Of Witnesses

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy has accused the de
Chastelain commission of failing to maximise public and
unionist confidence in the scrapping of IRA weapons.

"There was a failure to do that," he said. "We made that
point very strongly to the general and his colleagues. But
to in some way implicate or blame the independent witnesses
and accuse them of a lack of integrity is misplaced and

Mr Kennedy said he put to the decommissioning body a number
of questions but failed to receive "full replies" because
of the confidential nature of the IRA's relationship with
Gen de Chastelain and his two colleagues.

"We have criticism in that regard. However, we are
satisfied and accept that a significant act of IRA
decommissioning has taken place and I think other political
representatives have, in their own way, accepted that
principle too. We now move on to assess how wedded to
democratic politics will Sinn Féin and the republican
movement become as a consequence."

Mr Kennedy added: "We are given to understand by IICD
officials that republican decommissioning on behalf of the
Provisional IRA is now complete. Those who want a
photograph will not get it - we were always more interested
in product. We retain scepticism on the basis that it [
decommissioning] wasn't done more publicly or as fully or
as transparently as we would have liked. But it appears
that the issue has been dealt with and we now move on to
assess how the republican community will react in terms of
their politics and, more importantly, the criminality
aspects of their organisation."

Mr Kennedy warned against putting too much store on the
contents of future reports by the Independent Monitoring
Commission expected next month and in January, when the two
governments are expected to push for the restoration of the

"We will continue to monitor closely the activities of
republicans on the ground," he said. "When we get IMC
reports we will set them against other reports."

Referring to DUP criticisms of Fr Alec Reid and the Rev
Harold Good, Mr Kennedy said he had known Rev Good for many
years as a man of the utmost integrity.

"He started his ministry in my home village of Bessbrook [
Co Armagh]. He is a well-respected church figure within his
own tradition of Methodism and also within the wider church
family. He has exercised a valuable ministry in terms of

"Under no circumstances would I question or would my party
question the integrity or honesty of the Rev Harold Good."

Mr Kennedy added: "However, I would have to say also that
it remains a matter of regret that others from another
Christian tradition have chosen to do so."

The Ulster Unionists are to meet the two clerical
independent witnesses later this week.

The Rev Ken Newell, a former Moderator of the Presbyterian
Church in Ireland, said what were required of any
independent witnesses were "total independence and

He added what was also required was the capacity "to wreck
any kind of deception".

"Alec Reid and Harold Good are those kind of men," he said.

Alliance leader David Ford said after his delegation's
meeting with the IICD that the British government must
avoid making what he called "knee-jerk concessions" to
republicans on the back of IRA decommissioning.

"The political process must be more than simply the British
government trading concessions for IRA decommissioning in
order to safeguard their own narrow security interests,"
said Mr Ford.

© The Irish Times


Unionists At Odds On Response To IRA Arms Disposal

Clear differences were opening up within unionism
yesterday on whether to adopt a guardedly positive response
to IRA decommissioning, with DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley
alleging a "cover-up" and the Ulster Unionist Party seeing
potential for political progress from disarmament. Gerry
Moriarty, Mark Hennessy & Dan Keenan report.

Dr Paisley and UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy, who
separately met Gen John de Chastelain yesterday, were at
obvious loggerheads over the significance and reliability
of the assessment of the decommissioning body and the
clergy witnesses that the IRA had fully dismantled its huge

As Northern Secretary Peter Hain said yesterday that he
hoped the decommissioning would pave the way for political
negotiations by January, Dr Paisley continued to question
whether the IRA had fully disarmed and also the
independence of the witnesses, Fr Alec Reid and former
Methodist president the Rev Harold Good.

On Monday Mr Good, speaking for himself and Fr Reid, said
they were independent and not appointed as witnesses by the
IRA. Dr Paisley insisted yesterday that "the only people
who could have appointed them was the IRA".

Dr Paisley said he planned to follow up this matter with
the witnesses. Mr Good indicated yesterday that this would
not pose a problem. "I am a pastor, and as a pastor my door
is open to anyone who wants to come and see me," he said.
It was up to the wider public to decide on the authenticity
of his and Fr Reid's declaration that the IRA had fully
disarmed, Mr Good added.

Dr Paisley's questioning of the independence of the
clergymen prompted a stinging response from Mr Kennedy of
the UUP and illustrated a developing division of opinion
within unionism on the importance of IRA decommissioning,
and whether it was full and complete.

Mr Kennedy said that, while the UUP had questions about the
nature and extent of IRA decommissioning, he accepted that
Fr Reid and Mr Good had faithfully recorded what they saw
decommissioned and that the disarmament was a significant

He personally knew Mr Good. "Under no circumstances would I
question or would my party question the integrity or
honesty of the Rev Harold Good. However, I would have to
say also that it remains a matter of regret that others
from another Christian tradition have chosen to do so,"
added Mr Kennedy.

He said that in the coming months the UUP would give
"careful assessment" as to whether the IRA was honouring
its commitments to put away its weapons and end activity.

"It would appear that a significant act of decommissioning
has taken place. There now remain issues of assessing on
the ground the reaction of Provo volunteers in terms of
their military actions and their criminal tendencies," Mr
Kennedy added.

Dr Paisley, however, said many serious questions remained
to be answered about the decommissioning.

"The more the searchlight is put on this, the more we
discover that there is a cover-up," he added.

At the British Labour Party conference in Brighton
yesterday, the Northern Secretary Peter Hain said he hoped
that if the Independent Monitoring Commission could provide
reports in October and January showing the IRA was
inactive, this would allow the start of political
negotiations, aimed at restoring devolution.

Dr Paisley, however, was dismissive of suggestions that the
next two IMC reports could provide a "clean bill of health"
for the IRA. "The IRA is supposed to be disbanded. How can
they give it a clean bill of health?" he said.

In Cork Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said that he
believed Dr Paisley realised that the IRA had put its arms
beyond use, and his negative comment "was delaying stuff,
was all negotiating".

"We have to give Ian Paisley a wee bit of space. . . We
will get there with Ian Paisley and we will get there with
the DUP," he said.

© The Irish Times


A Glint Of Hope Amid A Mood Of Anticlimax

Ian Paisley remains wedded to the negative, but there
were hints some unionists see potential for progress after
decommissioning, writes Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor.

Northern Ireland is finding it difficult to come to grips
with IRA decommissioning.

Yesterday the argument raged over whether this was partial
or full IRA disarmament.

There was a level of agreement that the IRA had put a very
large amount of its weapons beyond use, but a myriad of
views over whether this was the end of the Provisional IRA
gun in Irish politics.

No matter which way you look at it, Monday was a huge
moment in Irish history. But beyond the usual political
bickering what was most striking was the oddly dispiriting
sense of anticlimax about the event.

One official captured that feeling well. "This is big, but
it should have come much sooner," he said.

"Had this happened five years ago, or even two years ago,
look what it would have done for Northern Ireland, for the
peace process. Look what David Trimble could have done with
it. Now it's back to the long, tortuous road to getting a

In recent days Ian Paisley had the option of two responses:
saying: "OK, I hear what the IRA said it has done. Now
we'll sit back and test it to see does it fully deliver";
or denouncing it all as "duplicity and dishonesty" and
effectively depicting the the Revs Harold Good and Alec
Reid as the dupes of the IRA.

You would think from a strategic sense, at least, that it
would have been in the DUP's interest to pick the first
option in order to push the spotlight back on the IRA, to
make that organisation prove over the months ahead that it
was meeting its July 28th statement pledges to fully disarm
and end activity.

But Dr Paisley chose the latter option, and many unionists
agreed with his assessment of events. For instance, the
Sinn Féin-supporting Daily Ireland front-page headline
yesterday was "Farewell to Arms", but the News Letter,
formerly pro-agreement and now leaning to the DUP, ran with
the banner, "It's Just a Cover-Up".

Dr Paisley held to that view yesterday. After an engagement
with Gen de Chastelain, he met the press to again speak of
his concerns.

He had absolutely nothing positive to say about IRA
decommissioning. His whole concentration and energy were
forcefully directed to the negative.

His deputy, Peter Robinson, was more nuanced and
constructive, but it is Dr Paisley who is running the DUP

That sort of constant pessimistic focus can get people
down. It was certainly having a draining effect on Nuala
from Holywood, Co Down, who rang BBC Radio Ulster's
Talkback programme yesterday.

She was in a mixed marriage. She raised her children to be
non-sectarian. She came back from England five years ago to
live in the North. But the past year had so disheartened
her that she was now considering clearing out again.

Politicians should talk to each other to overcome their
differences, she said.

Some unionists rang the programme saying they believed the
word of former Methodist president Harold Good. Others said
the Doc had got it right. David phoned to say that he was a
DUP supporter but was concerned that Monday was "all based
on negativity".

Monday, he added, was in fact "an excellent day for the
union" because it meant that "the IRA did not win the war".

And so it ran through the day until yesterday evening, when
the Ulster Unionist Party met Gen de Chastelain. UUP deputy
leader Danny Kennedy said he was from south Armagh and knew
a little about the republican mindset.

He also personally knew Mr Good and was absolutely certain
that he was a man of integrity and that he saw what he said
he saw.

Mr Kennedy said he believed the IRA did carry out a
significant act of decommissioning. Now the UUP would test
the IRA to see if it delivered on its commitments. There
appeared to be a strategic logic in that approach, but Dr
Paisley would not agree.

"The more the searchlight is put on this the more we
discover there is a cover-up," he was absolutely certain.

At the ploughing championships in Cork, Sinn Féin president
Gerry Adams said he was was unperturbed.

He believed that in time the DUP would come round. And so
would Dr Paisley.

© The Irish Times


Weapons Witnesses 'IRA-Nominated'

The DUP was "shocked" by what it learned in a meeting with
decommissioning chief John de Chastelain, Ian Paisley has

He said the two church witnesses to disarmament were "IRA
nominated" and the party now wants to meet them.

Senior Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy said Mr Paisley was
"wrong to question the honesty and integrity of the church
witnesses to IRA decommissioning".

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams said Mr Paisley would need time to
digest the move.

"His concern is (about) a process of change and... because
he has lived and built a career on frightening people and
on crisis," he said.

"(It is) a concern that the future isn't going to be good
for unionism.

"The future is going to be good for everyone on this
island, so we have to give Ian Paisley a wee bit of space."

After meeting General de Chastelain on Tuesday, Mr Paisley
said Catholic priest Father Alec Reid and ex-Methodist
president Rev Harold Good were not appointed by the
government or arms body.

The party said the list of IRA weapons had been "revised
and tampered with".

'Big question'

"These are the things that put a very big question over
what has taken place," said Mr Paisley.

The DUP is now seeking a meeting with the British

It has questioned if the inventory list given by the
intelligence services was accurate or "just cobbled
together" for political expediency.

Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but
you may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Mr Paisley claimed there had been a cover-up.

"We discovered that the witnesses turned up in the presence
of the IRA. None of the commission heard from the
government who the witnesses were," he said.

"Nor did the government certify them - they were not
appointed by the government.

"It was suggested that the commission appointed them. The
commission said no... they came and introduced themselves
in the presence of the IRA and they said 'we are the
appointed witnesses'."

Mr Paisley said he was told some of the IRA's weapons had
already gone to dissident republican groups.

UUP assembly member Danny Kennedy said it was "sad" that Mr
Paisley had "cast aspersions on the character and integrity
of the two witnesses to IRA decommissioning".

He added: "It is essential that an inventory of the IRA's
decommissioned weaponry is published and that the
republican movement's vast criminal empire is dismantled."

Speaking after his party's meeting with the arms body, SDLP
chairman Alex Attwood said they felt "more reassured" that
what was said in relation to IRA weapons had happened.

"Anybody who thinks they can make a fool of what those
three men are trying to do and what the witnesses saw
happen is very badly misled and misguided," he said.

Mr Attwood said that the issue of loyalist weapons was also
raised and the party had encouraged the commission to keep
working to bring about a situation where loyalist
paramilitaries might act.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the completion of IRA
decommissioning was the result of "a lot of hard work",
which was worthwhile if it brought lasting peace.

In his keynote speech to the Labour Party conference in
Brighton, he said: "There's a lesson for Northern Ireland -
nothing good comes easy."

Earlier on Tuesday, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain
said unionist distrust was "natural", but the IRA's
"historic move" brought the return of devolution closer.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness is going to the US to brief
Irish Americans.

'Sceptical and suspicious'

Mr Hain said he could understand Mr Paisley's scepticism,
but asked him to respect the integrity of General de

"I wouldn't have expected Ian or the unionists to just bowl
over and welcome everything with open arms because they've
got a lot of cause to be sceptical and suspicious over the
behaviour of the IRA in the past," he told BBC News on

"The IRA have often promised to do things and then reneged
on them."

The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) reports next
month and in January would consider whether the IRA was
delivering on its promise to cease paramilitary and
criminal activity, Mr Hain said earlier.

The White House has welcomed the IRA's move as an
"important first step" and the US State Department called
on all paramilitary groups, whether loyalist or republican,
to work with General de Chastelain to bring about complete

Making his report on Monday, General De Chastelain said he
had handled every gun and made an inventory of the
ordnance, which was in line with estimates provided by the
UK and Irish security services.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/27 19:02:06 GMT


Focus On Convincing Unionists

Seán Mac Connell in Midleton, Co Cork

The Taoiseach and the president of Sinn Féin fielded
questions on IRA decommissioning when they joined the big
crowds at the National Ploughing Championships yesterday.

The Taoiseach expressed understanding of the initial
response of the DUP leader; the Rev Ian Paisley still
needed to be convinced.

Asked if had been disappointed with Dr Paisley's response
on Monday, Mr Ahern said he had expected him to respond in
that way.

"I could have written the script even before he delivered
it," he said.

Gerry Adams said that even if republicans stripped naked on
the lawns of Stormont, decommissioned their weapons and
committed hara-kiri, there would be some loyalists who
would refuse to believe them.

Speaking to journalists at the National Ploughing
Championships in Mogeely, Mr Adams said Sinn Féin planned
to give unionists a breathing space to allow them make up
their minds about what they were doing.

Asked about Dr Paisley's reaction to the decommissioning,
Mr Adams replied: "It's like being stuck in traffic trying
to get into the ploughing championships. It took time but
we got here."

In reply to questions about whether or not Sinn Féin would
go into coalition in the Republic, he said Sinn Féin would
first have to get a mandate from the people and then
negotiate an economic and social programme with other

In that context he raised the issue of the Rossport Five
and said the imprisoning of the Mayo farmers was "a
national disgrace".

Asked what Sinn Féin could do to convince unionists on
decommissioning , Mr Adams replied: "A very senior unionist
said to me a year or two ago that if the IRA stripped naked
on the lawn of Stormont and decommissioned their weapons
and one by one committed hara-kiri, some people within
unionism would not be convinced.

"I think Ian Paisley knows that the IRA have put their arms
beyond use and this is all delaying stuff, negotiating
stuff. It is not that he is concerned about the weapons,
for if he was he would raise issues about loyalist weapons
which are being used to kill people.

"His concern is a process of change and a concern, because
he has lived and built a career on frightening people and
on crisis, that change is not perhaps going to be good for
unionism," Mr Adams said.

He said all parties, including Sinn Féin, would have to be
proactive in reassuring unionists.

"But our focus at this time is pushing forward the peace
process and seeing it implemented on both parts of this
island for the good of all its people," he said.

"We have to remind ourselves that Michael McDowell is not a
big player in the peace process and the Taoiseach made a
commitment at the time of the peace process in relation to
Northern representation in the Oireachtas," he said.

"He said an all-party committee of the Oireachtas made a
recommendation that Northern representation should be
permitted and the Taoiseach had said recently that he will
start that process and we would expect some progress on
that issue.

"In the fullness of time we want to see all republican
prisoners released.

"Myself and Martin Ferris met them in Castlerea recently.
So in the fullness of time we want to see all of this done
and dusted and people getting on with their lives," he

Mr Adams said he was very conscious, having been a victim
himself, of the crisis facing victims of those people
convicted of killing of Det Garda Jerry McCabe and he was
very, very conscious of the trauma of the McCabe family.

Asked if the IRA had gone away, Mr Adams said he knew who
had not gone away: the British army, the PSNI, and unionist
paramilitaries who had killed people in his own

"Interestingly enough, the DUP sits on a commission which
involves a number of illegal unionist paramilitaries. They
have not gone away."

© The Irish Times


Just What Were Their Reasons For Rioting?

27 September 2005

DAY TWO of our major new series focusing on Ulster's
troubled Protestant communities - and the claims about what
sparked the recent, shocking violence. Is deprivation the
root cause of the anger? Or is it something more complex?
Today DAVID GORDON talks to some of the people working on
the ground

The fury in loyalist areas was still raging when the
theories started raining down like petrol bombs. Poverty,
concessions to republicans, education, heavy-handed
policing, recreational rioting, under-funding, housing,
paramilitary muscle-flexing - all of these and more were
thrown into the mix.

But the truth, according to people close to the ground, is
more complicated.

And politics is being viewed as the principal cause in most
eyes, with social problems viewed as contributory factors,
at least in some of the troubled areas.

Veteran Shankill community worker Baroness Blood says a
"mixture" of issues were behind the serious disturbances

"Basically, everybody you spoke to had different reasons
for it," she notes.

"The biggest one, I think, was the perception - and I know
that word has been used and abused - within the Protestant
community that not enough interest was being shown in what
its leaders were saying."

Baroness Blood says a number of developments occurred
within a short space of time, angering Protestants.

These included the release of Shankill bomber Sean Kelly,
the announcement on the disbandment of the RIR home
battalions, and the return of the Colombia Three.

"I would say this would have been the catalyst for what
happened on the Shankill," she says.

Baroness Blood does not downplay the significance of
deprivation in her community.

She also links it to the sway which paramilitaries have
within the area.

Loyalist godfathers with BMWs, multiple holidays and flashy
jewellery have a glamour appeal to unemployed young people,
she says.

"People from outside Northern Ireland often ask me why
young people join the paramilitaries.

"My answer to that is that, if I'm standing on a street
corner with no prospects of anything, very little money in
my pocket and somebody comes up and says, 'there's £100 to
deliver drugs', I would think I might be tempted.

"I think most people would be if they are being honest."

Community workers in different Protestant working-class
heartlands testify to young people leaving school not only
with no qualifications, but also lacking basic numeracy and
literacy skills.

Many are also coming from homes where the adults have also
been jobless on a long-term basis.

East Belfast Methodist minister, the Reverend Gary Mason,
talks about teenagers growing up and not knowing what they
are going to do with their lives.

"The days of heavy industry are gone and they are not going
to come back again," he says.

Often where jobs are available they are in the service
sector - fast food outlets and the like.

"There's no career structure so that creates despondency
all by itself."

Rev Mason is superintendent of the East Belfast Mission
which he says is one of the biggest employers in the area.

He points to the decline of the Newtownards Road area, once
a bustling retail district. "Some of the arterial routes in
east Belfast are wastelands," he states. "From Connswater
to the city centre, there's no reason to stop on the
Newtownards Road because there's nothing there.

"A third of all premises are either to let or up for sale."

The clergyman also believes a "number of issues" were
involved in the recent disorder.

He says there is "immense political frustration" and also
underscores the significance of the decision to reroute the
Whiterock Orange Parade.

"I think why the Whiterock really ran so deep is because
that area, prior to the beginning of the Troubles, was a
Protestant, Unionist community," he argues.

Rev Mason sits on the Loyalist Commission, a controversial
umbrella group comprising the UDA and UVF, as well as
clergymen, community workers and politicians.

He says he encounters loyalist paramilitaries on an almost
daily basis and some are prepared to play a positive role.

"Some of them are thugs, there's no question about that,
but a considerable number want to move into a peace process
that's fair and equitable."

Mr Mason says a "considerable number" of initiatives in
loyalist areas are needed to make a difference.

As for the fear that funding could end up in the pockets of
paramilitaries, he says it could be properly managed to
provide safeguards on accountability. That would involve
partnership projects within communities.

"Paramilitaries would be happy enough with that. The UDA,
when they asked for £70m, were not asking that they be
given the money.

"They were asking that it be ploughed into partnership
projects in inner-city loyalist areas across the province."

The picture is complicated further by experience in the
northern fringes of Belfast.

Newtownabbey saw some of the worst trouble, with a bank and
other properties burnt to the ground at Cloughfern Corner,
between the Rathfern and Rathcoole estates.

This is a loyalist area that has seen significant funding
injections within the past decade.

Former community worker and independent Labour councillor
Mark Langhammer describes Rathfern as a "high demand
housing area".

He says: "I believe home ownership there stands at between
60% and 70%. It's not a deprived area.

"Rathcoole, meanwhile, has been physically transformed in
the last 10 years. Agencies have worked together for some
eight years to secure investment.

"Outcomes included a new nursery school at Rathcoole
Primary School, a new community education wing at
Newtownabbey Community High School, two new playgrounds,
new soccer pitches, a new shopping area at the Diamond, a
community enterprise centre, a vast new parkland at
Derrycoole Way, and over £30m in housing redevelopment
through the NIHE."

John Scott, a community manager in Ballyduff, also in
Newtownabbey, makes a similar point.

Recently elected as an Ulster Unionist councillor, he says
of the trouble at Cloughfern: "They can't talk about
deprivation in that area. That area has been pulled up by
the boots. Just up the road you have the Nortel factory and
just a bit further up there's an FG Wilson factory.

"I haven't spoken to one person who agreed with what went

"The destruction was disgraceful.

"I feel the unionist leaders - and I include my own party,
too - let us down by making excuses for those who did the

"Ordinary people in Newtownabbey do not want this to happen
in their area. They are not blaming everybody for it, they
are blaming the rioters."

Mark Langhammer sees the trouble as politically motivated.

"There is an issue of educational disadvantage but none of
that motivated the riots.

"In my view, it's down to dead-end politics and political
defeatism. After the failure of the proposed deal last
December, republicans have been dealing directly with the
British Government.

"The so-called concessions - the watchtowers, the RIR, etc
- have all come on the DUP's watch.

"It leaves ordinary Protestants feeling impotent. They
elected the DUP to stop things, to put the brakes on. What
they've seen is the DUP being impotent to stop change."

Baroness Blood, meanwhile, accepts that funding is not the
answer to all of the Shankill's ills.

She cites, for example, the damage that has been done to
the area by years of loyalist feuding.

"We've never really got over the Adair feud. It was really
in your face," she states.

Baroness Blood also states that funding has been pumped
into the district over a number of years, not least from

But she states that it could have been used in a more
strategic, long-term way.

Important projects have been set up and then found
themselves short of cash within a few years.

The need for sustainable, long-term funding initiatives is
also a point made by Mr Mason with regard to east Belfast.

Baroness Blood adds that some "tremendous work" is being
carried out "quietly" on the Shankill on education and
other social problems.

"All these great projects, they will tell you there's
insufficient funding."

And she adds: "If you look at education, there's no doubt
about it, we have a problem on the Shankill.

"However, some kids on the Shankill are doing very well. I
know of three young people who are going to Queen's
University this year. That's only my personal knowledge.

"Pessimism is a luxury we can't afford. We have to be
optimistic for the next generation and the generation after

"We have problems - we aren't the only ones with problems -
and we have to find a way of working them through without
going onto the streets."

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