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October 19, 2005

Irish Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq

 Rory Carroll
Irish journalist Rory Carroll reporting from Basra in southern Iraq last year where he interviewed soldiers, including some from Estonia. Dublin-born Carroll, who works for The Guardian newspaper, was abducted yesterday in the Sadr City area of Baghdad.

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News about Ireland & the Irish

UT 10/19/05 Irish Journalist 'Kidnapped In Iraq'
UT 10/19/05 Politicians Call For Carroll's Release
SF 10/19/05 Time For DUP To Come On Board Peace Process
SF 10/19/05 British End To Discrimination Against SF
UT 10/19/05 IRA 'Still Involved In Criminal Activities'
IO 10/19/05 Sinn Féin Seats Row 'Could Wreck Police Board'
UT 10/19/05 Anger After Hain Restores SF Allowances
BB 10/19/05 Fermanagh Councillors Guilty Of Misconduct
UT 10/19/05 Mbeki: South Africa An Inspiration For NIreland


Irish Journalist 'Kidnapped In Iraq'

The Guardian's Baghdad correspondent Rory Carroll is
believed to have been kidnapped in Iraq, the newspaper said

The 33-year-old went missing while on assignment in Baghdad
earlier today.

Carroll, one of the newspaper`s most experienced foreign
correspondents, has been based in Iraq for the last nine

It is believed Carroll may have been taken by a group of
armed men.

The Guardian issued a statement which said: "The Guardian
today confirmed that its Baghdad correspondent Rory
Carroll, an Irish citizen, is missing, believed kidnapped,
in Iraq.

"Rory Carroll, 33, was on assignment in Baghdad earlier
today when he went missing.

"It is believed Mr Carroll may have been taken by a group
of armed men.

"The Guardian is urgently seeking information about Mr
Carroll`s whereabouts and condition."

Carroll graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, and began
his career as a reporter for the Irish News in Belfast.

In 1997, he was named Northern Ireland young journalist of
the year.

He joined The Guardian as a home news reporter, and in 1999
was posted to Rome to become Southern Europe correspondent.

He was appointed South Africa correspondent in 2002.

A spokeswoman for the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs
in Dublin said its consular section was aware of the
reports, but was not currently able to confirm any details.

A family friend said they had not been able to contact
Rory`s father, former Irish Times North American
correspondent Joe Carroll, about his son`s disappearance.

Speaking from the family home in Blackrock, south Dublin,
he said The Guardian had been in contact with Rory`s
relatives, but they were not yet willing to make a

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of reports
that a journalist has been abducted. We are trying to find
out more information.

"Our information is that the journalist is an Irish
national. We are in contact with the Irish authorities.

"We would ask those involved to release him unharmed."


Politicians Call For Carroll's Release

Irish and British politicians tonight called for the speedy
release of Dublin journalist Rory Carroll who is believed
to have been kidnapped while reporting for The Guardian
newspaper in Baghdad.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern spoke to Irish
embassy officials in Tehran and Cairo and is also liaising
with the British Foreign Office.

The minister`s spokesman added: "Mr Ahern is being briefed
on a minute-by-minute basis and closely monitoring the
unfolding situation."

Earlier, Mr Ahern spoke by telephone to Carroll`s father,
Joe, and to senior editors at The Guardian newspaper.

A year ago, Mr Ahern personally intervened in the kidnap of
Ken Bigley when he issued an Irish passport to convince his
captors of his Irish citizenship.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said the British
Government would assist in any way it could, if asked, to
help free the Dublin-born journalist.

"We will do whatever the Irish Government asks us to do,
because of course he is an Irish citizen," Mr Hain said.

"He may have been working for a British paper but he`s an
Irish citizen. We will give what help we can but only
whatever Dublin wants us to do."

The MP said it was a very serious case but stressed that
Carroll should be considered an Irish national.

"He is an Irish citizen and although we are on the ground
and may be able to help, it is very important that people
out in Iraq, and maybe including those people responsible
for this terrible abduction, understand that he is an Irish
citizen, albeit working for a British newspaper," he told
RTE Radio.

"Therefore the Irish Government is the one that will be in
the lead on this."

Irish Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin said: "We would
appeal to those who kidnapped Rory to release him as soon
as possible. We will obviously be monitoring the situation
very closely."

Labour party TD and international affairs spokesman Michael
D Higgins called on the Irish Government to urge everybody
with influence in Iraq to help bring about Carroll`s

"It should be made immediately clear that Mr Carroll is a
professional carrying out his task of reporting objectively
on the Middle East, something he has done with fairness and
distinction to date," he said.


Time For DUP To Come On Board Peace Process

Published: 19 October, 2005

Responding to the latest report by the IMC released in
Dublin this afternoon, Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh
Conor Murphy said:

" The IMC were established outside the terms of the Good
Friday Agreement. In our view the IMC have no positive or
constructive role to play in the peace process. In fact,
they have provided the pretext for political discrimination
against democratically elected politicians.

" The IRA has fulfilled all of the commitments made in the
historic statement of July 28th. They have addressed
unionist concerns and removed any further excuse for non-

" The DUP must now decide if they want to come on board the
peace process and the two governments must urgently address
the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
including the early restoration of the political
institutions." ENDS


British Announce End To Discrimination Against Sinn Féin

Published: 19 October, 2005

Responding to the announcement by the British Secretary of
State Peter Hain that the British government are to end the
discrimination against Sinn Féin and our electorate through
sanctions, South Belfast Assembly member Alex Maskey said:

" Sinn Féin is opposed to the IMC and to politically
motivated sanctions against democratically elected
politicians. The British government had no right to
discriminate against any Irish political representative.

" Sanctions against Sinn Féin are undemocratic and
motivated by a desire to prevent the further development of
the party and prevent further electoral advances. They are
unacceptable and should be removed.

" Sinn Féin will continue to oppose the role being played
by the IMC and the political cover it seeks to give to the
British government to discriminate against Irish political
parties and their electorates." ENDS


IRA 'Still Involved In Criminal Activities'

It is too early to say if the IRA will be given a clean
bill of health by January, the Independent Monitoring
Commission said today.

By:Press Association

The four-member independent body pointed out that much
criminality has been scaled down but paramilitary
activities such as exiling were still being carried out.

IMC member Dick Kerr said that the IRA`s July 28 pledge to
disarm was potentially very significant but it was too
early to make an informed assessment on whether it would
become a purely political body by next year.

He told a Dublin news conference: "It`s too early to make
more than a limited assessment although the initial signs
are encouraging.

"We`re talking about a very limited amount of time and that
time has not allowed us to reflect on the whole range of
activities. "

IMC member and former Northern Ireland Assembly speaker
Lord Alderdice cautioned against the term "clean bill of
health" being used and said that activities like exiling
were still being carried out.

"I`ve cautioned people against the use of the term `clean
bill of health`," he said. "I`m a doctor and I genuinely
think it is ill-advised to give anybody a clean bill of
health because they sometimes go straight out the door and
collapse on you.

"We will monitor things and give the evidence as we see it
and others must then make their judgment on what that means
for the future."

On the issue of exiling, Lord Alderdice said: "There is not
evidence that this has been set aside."

He said that some media reports of the IMC`s 60-page
dossier had said that the IRA`s criminal activity had

"That is not what we have said," he added.

The four-man commission, made up of ex-CIA deputy director
Richard Kerr, former Metropolitan Police deputy assistant
commissioner John Grieve, retired Irish civil servant Joe
Brosnan and former Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker Lord
Alderdice, has been attacked in the past for not being

But Mr Grieve insisted there was no influence being exerted
on them from either the British and Irish Governments.

"I feel under absolutely no political pressure at all. I
feel under pressure to myself to get as much evidence as
possible and to prepare the best possible report," Mr
Grieve said.

"I never have and do not now feel myself to be under any
political pressure from anybody."

Lord Alderdice noted the difference of opinion on whether
the Progressive Unionist Party and Sinn Fein should have
their parliamentary expenses returned.

"There clearly is a divergence of position between the
reports that we have made and the positions that the
British Government has adopted.

"It certainly raises questions about those people who
believe that we were not independent because quite clearly
we have said things that come out of our following of the

"As far as we are concerned, we will follow it and we will
put out in the public domain what we find. Governments make
decisions on the basis of their political judgment and that
is entirely for them to do."

Mr Kerr said that in the past it had been suggested that if
the Government did not follow their recommendations, the
IMC appeared to have a dent in its armour.

"If we were seen as all of our recommendations were taken
by the Government, we would be seen as kind of the patsy of
the Government. In some ways, you can`t win either way," Mr
Kerr said.

Mr Brosnan added: "If the Government were recommending
every last iota of every recommendation that the Commission
was making, we would probably be accused of being tools of
the Government."


Sinn Féin Seats Row 'Could Wreck Police Board'
2005-10-19 18:50:04+01

Peter Hain could wreck Northern Ireland's Policing Board by
guaranteeing Sinn Féin seats will remain in nationalist
hands if the party turns them down, he was warned tonight.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey told his party's
Westminster Association in London the Northern Ireland
Secretary's refusal to reallocate any seats Sinn Féin may
reject to other parties was a political crisis in the

The former Stormont Economy Minister insisted: "Under the
Hain proposals the democratically elected majority on the
board would no longer be guaranteed and a Northern Ireland
Office appointed quango would replace the presently agreed

"This is totally unacceptable to the Ulster Unionist Party.

"To push ahead with these proposals would be to destroy the
one body, which is actually working. The Policing Board has
been engaged in good work. It should continue to be
accountable and democratically controlled.

"Instead we are facing the reality of a Policing Board,
which is made up of a majority that does not represent the
voting intentions of the public. This is a crisis in the

On Friday Sir Reg threatened to withdraw his party's
representatives from the next board if Sinn Féin's seats
were not reallocated.

The board is made up of 10 political appointees and nine
independent members and holds the Police Service of
Northern Ireland to account for its actions.

It will be reconstituted on April 1 next year to reflect
changes in the political climate in Northern Ireland.

The Reverend Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists, the
Northern Ireland Assembly's largest party, which has three
seats will be offered four next year.

The Ulster Unionists, who have four members of the board,
will be entitled to two.

The nationalist SDLP will also be offered two seats, down
one on its current figure.

However if Sinn Féin again turns down the two seats it was
offered, the British government has signalled it will make
those seats independent and offer them to people from a
nationalist background.

Sinn Féin's two seats in 2001 were reallocated to the
Ulster Unionists and DUP after the party turned them down.

Sir Reg accused the DUP of mishandling negotiations on the
Policing Board.

The East Belfast Assembly member said: "The DUP's clumsy
negotiating skills have resulted in the Police Board being
transformed from a body made up of politicians with a
unionist majority to another government quango made up of a
majority of government appointed independents.

"In their haste and greed to have a DUP majority on the
board they have helped the (British) government agenda to
facilitate Sinn Féin's entry to the board by stripping away
it's unionist majority.

"It should be noted that at the time the structure of the
board was being negotiated the leaders of the UUP and DUP
insisted on there being a unionist majority. This was
successfully negotiated.

"What the DUP have now done is replace an overall unionist
majority with a DUP majority but at a terrible cost.

"They should hang their heads in shame. What was a win-win
situation for unionism as a whole is now lost. The true
cost of their ineptitude will become apparent in the months


Anger After Hain Restores SF Assembly Allowances

The British government was tonight accused of delivering a
kick in the teeth to democracy after it lifted financial
penalties worth more than £500,000 against Sinn Fein.

By:Press Association

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain was under fire from
the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionists after he
announced Sinn Fein will from November 1 receive £120,000
in Northern Ireland Assembly allowances.

The recommendation was made after a report from the
Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) today said the
Provisional IRA was making encouraging progress towards
becoming a purely political movement.

Mr Hain also signalled he would try to restore £400,000
withdrawn from the party in a House of Commons vote in
March following an IMC report accusing the IRA of being
behind last December`s £26 million Northern Bank heist.

In a written statement to MPs, he announced: "I have
decided to restore Sinn Fein`s Assembly allowances, with
effect from November 1, and will, in due course, recommend
to the House that it lifts the suspension of allowances to
Sinn Fein Members of Parliament, which took effect on 1
April, this year.

"As I said in my statement to Parliament on October 14, it
has taken a long time for the Republican Movement to
acknowledge that violence does not pay but it has now
publicly done so.

"Loyalist paramilitaries must now also realise that
exclusively peaceful and democratic means represent the
sole way forward."

The IMC said in its seventh report there was no evidence of
any recruitment or training of members by the Provisionals
in the month following their July 28 statement declaring an
end to their armed campaign.

But the organisation carried out at least one assault since
the statement on one of its own members which could have
been a warning to anyone wishing to link up with dissident
hard-line republicans or for engaging in unacceptable

The four-member ceasefire watchdog also said it was too
early to make definitive judgments about the IRA.

It would continue to monitor the organisation in the run-up
to further reports in January and April next year.

However the Conservatives` Northern Ireland spokesman,
David Lidington, and Democratic Unionist leader, the Rev
Ian Paisley, were outraged by the decision to lift the
financial sanctions against Sinn Fein.

"The Government`s decision to restore Sinn Fein`s
allowances at both Westminster and Stormont is a kick in
the teeth for democracy," Mr Lidington said.

"The IMC expressly refused to recommend such action, yet
the Secretary of State has charged ahead regardless.

"Allowances should not be restored until Sinn Fein abides
by the same rules as are accepted by every democratic
political party in these islands."

Mr Paisley said: "Those allowances were removed because of
Sinn Fein`s clear association with and involvement in
decisions that led to criminal terrorist enterprises
including the robbery at Makro, the abduction of people and
the robbery of goods from the Strabane branch of Iceland,
the abduction of people and the robbery of cigarettes with
a market value of approximately £2 million from a bonded
delivery vehicle in Belfast and most recently the Northern
Bank robbery.

"As none of these assets have been recovered, the proceeds
of those crimes are being used by Sinn Fein and for the
Government to ignore this and recommence the payment of
Parliamentary allowances simply frees up those ill-gotten
gains to be laundered in other ways."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern will be encouraged by the IMC`s observations
on the IRA and will hope to entice the DUP into government
with Sinn Fein next year on the back of more positive
reports from the commission in January and April.

During Prime Minister`s Questions, Mr Blair was defiant
about the British government`s decision to restore the
Assembly allowances to Sinn Fein.

While acknowledging there would be strong feelings about
the decision, he said it was a sensible step towards
restoring the devolved institutions.

Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy said that in the wake of the
IMC`s report the DUP no longer had any excuse for not
engaging fully with his party.

"They have addressed unionists` concerns and removed any
further excuse for non-engagement," the Newry and Armagh MP

"The DUP must now decide if they are to come on board the
peace process and the two governments must urgently address
the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement,
including the early restoration of the political

The IMC`s report expressed concern about ongoing
involvement by loyalist paramilitaries in violence and
criminality, including the drugs trade.

Nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the report had
been damning about loyalists and while he welcomed positive
signs from the IRA, he shared the commission`s concern
about the Provisionals` involvement in extortion and

"For so long as the Provisional Movement does not accept
the rule of law and policing, those engaged in these
activities are effectively protected." the Foyle MP said.

"An end to all criminal activity must mean that. In
particular, bullying and intimidation of nationalists on
the ground must end."

Mr Durkan added: "Not only are loyalists attacking the
nationalist community, the IMC confirms that all loyalist
organisations are choking their own community through crime
and drug dealing.

"There is space in the political process for loyalism, but
only if it goes political. But if they continue on with all
these activities, then the only space that will be needed
for them is in prison."

Irish Justice minister Michael McDowell said while it was
still too early to judge the IRA, the report held out the
possibility of a huge transformation in the political
situation north of the border.

The leader of the Irish Labour Party, Pat Rabbitte, was
concerned by the observation that the IRA had maintained
its intelligence capabilities.

But he also called for the gangster culture in loyalist
paramilitarism to be addressed.

"These organisations are not the defenders of their
communities that they claim to be," he said.

"They are rightly indicted by the IMC for murder, drug
dealing, racketeering and crime."


Councillors Guilty Of Misconduct

A number of councillors and former councillors in Fermanagh
have been found guilty of wilful misconduct by the local
government auditor.

They have been told to pay a surcharge of almost £40,000
and could be barred from holding office in local

Those involved have strongly denied any wrongdoing.

The action relates to the appointment of Fermanagh District
Council's chief executive, Rodney Connor.

Mr Connor was appointed five years ago.

A case was previously brought against the council with the
backing of the Equality Commission over the way unionist
councillors appeared to vote en-block on party lines.

This led to concerns about unlawful discrimination.

The two unsuccessful candidates received compensation and
the council faced a hefty bill for legal costs.

The total of £38,178 is the amount the local government
auditor said the unionist councillors and former
councillors must pay.

In a statement issued by the Ulster Unionist Party those
surcharged strongly denied that they are guilty of any
wrongdoing whatsoever.

They stressed the appointment of Rodney Connor had nothing
to do with his perceived religious or political orientation
and say he was simply the best candidate for the job.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/19 16:38:04 GMT


Mbeki: South Africa An Inspiration For Northern Ireland

Unionists are fearful of change in Northern Ireland in much
the same way as white South Africans were concerned about
their future following the fall of apartheid, the country's
President, Thabo Mbeki, said today.

By:Press Association

After a meeting with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in
Pretoria, the African National Congress leader said while
great strides had been made recently in the Irish peace
process, South Africa could serve as an inspiration for how
the transition to a peaceful future could be achieved.

And he paid tribute to the IRA for decommissioning its

"If we move the process forward in Northern Ireland, we
will find the future is much, much better for everyone," Mr
Mbeki said.

The ANC leader, who succeeded Nelson Mandela as South
Africa`s second black president after apartheid ended in
1994, said like whites in his country, unionists in
Northern Ireland feared what they might lose.

He said: "In our experience in this country the white
minority was also afraid (before 1994)."

Eleven years later, the South African President said, the
white minority`s fears were never realised and they were
happier and freer.

Some people were even richer than before.

"The tension remains among various parties (in Northern
Ireland) but in our experience this can and must be eased,"
he said.

Mr Mbeki also praised the completion by the IRA three weeks
ago of disarmament.

He said: "The decommissioning of weapons has made a
strategic contribution in terms of the constitution of the
government and legislature.

"It is our hope that this historic step taken by the IRA is
a strategic contribution to opening the way to the re-
establishment of the government."

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