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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
October 25, 2005
Rosa Parks Dies Aged 92
Lessons Of South Africa's Peace Process
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News about Ireland & the Irish
IO 10/25/05 Rosa Lee Parks, Civil Rights Icon, Dies Aged 92
DI 10/25/05 Priest Slams Graffiti Attack On Orange Hall
BT 10/25/05 Ex-Prisoners Say They Can Fulfil Peace Role
BT 10/25/05 Watchdog Monitoring PSNI Probe
DI 10/25/05 Row Over Victims' Chief
NI 10/25/05 Hanson Launches Service For Victims Of Crime
DU 10/25/05 Simpson - Bombers & Murderers Are Not Victims
DU 10/25/05 Dawson: No Return To UUP Leadership
BT 10/25/05 Front To Tackle Hain On Jobs Snub For Derry
DI 10/25/05 Lessons Of South Africa's Peace Process
BB 10/25/05 Councillors Banned For Five Years
DI 10/25/05 Republican Heritage Fault Line In Republic
NH 10/25/05 SF's Mantle True Republican Party Under Threat
Rosa Lee Parks, Civil Rights Icon, Dies Aged 92
25/10/2005 - 08:02:50
Rosa Lee Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a
white man sparked the modern US civil rights movement, died
at age 92.
Mrs. Parks died yesterday at her home of natural causes,
said Karen Morgan, a spokeswoman for John Conyers, a
Mrs. Parks was 42 when she committed an act of defiance in
1955 that was to change the course of American history and
earn her the title "mother of the civil rights movement."
At that time, segregation laws in place since the post-
Civil War Reconstruction required separation of the races
in buses, restaurants and public accommodations throughout
the South, while legally sanctioned racial discrimination
kept blacks out of many jobs and neighbourhoods in the
The Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress, an active member of
the local chapter of the National Association for the
Advancement of Coloured People, was riding on a city bus
December 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat.
Mrs. Parks refused, despite rules requiring blacks to yield
their seats to whites. Two black Montgomery women had been
arrested earlier that year on the same charge, but Mrs.
Parks was jailed. She also was fined $14.
Speaking in 1992, she said history too often maintains
"that my feet were hurting and I didn't know why I refused
to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my
not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated
as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of
treatment for too long."
Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system
organised by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev.
Martin Luther King, who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize
for his work.
"At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn
into this," Mrs. Parks said 30 years later. "It was just a
day like any other day. The only thing that made it
significant was that the masses of the people joined in."
The Montgomery bus boycott, which came one year after the
US Supreme Court's landmark declaration that separate
schools for blacks and whites were "inherently unequal,"
marked the start of the modern civil rights movement in the
The movement culminated in the 1964 federal Civil Rights
Act, which banned racial discrimination in public
After taking her public stand for civil rights, Mrs. Parks
had trouble finding work in Alabama. Amid threats and
harassment, she and her husband Raymond moved to Detroit in
1957. She worked as an aide in Conyers' Detroit office from
1965 until retiring on September 30, 1988. Raymond Parks
died in 1977.
Rosa Parks: My Story was published in February 1992. In
1994 she brought out Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope
and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation, and in 1996
a collection of letters called Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue
With Today's Youth.
She was among the civil rights leaders who addressed the
Million Man March in October 1995.
She was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913, in
Tuskegee, Alabama. Family illness interrupted her high
school education, but after she married Raymond Parks in
1932, he encouraged her and she earned a diploma in 1934.
He also inspired her to become involved in the NAACP.
Looking back in 1988, Mrs. Parks said she worried that
black young people took legal equality for granted.
Older blacks, she said "have tried to shield young people
from what we have suffered. And in so doing, we seem to
have a more complacent attitude.
"We must double and redouble our efforts to try to say to
our youth, to try to give them an inspiration, an incentive
and the will to study our heritage and to know what it
means to be black in America today."
At a celebration in her honour that same year, she said: "I
am leaving this legacy to all of you ... to bring peace,
justice, equality, love and a fulfilment of what our lives
should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and
without courage and inspiration, dreams will die – the
dream of freedom and peace."
Priest Slams Graffiti Attack On Orange Hall
A Derry priest has slammed sectarian vandals after a
weekend attack on an Orange hall.
Speaking to parishioners at St Mary's church in Bellaghy,
Co Derry after Mass yesterday morning, parish curate Fr
Kevin Duddy said it was important to highlight the scourge
of sectarianism after a weekend attack in the area.
His comments came after an Orange hall in the town was
defaced in a sectarian graffiti attack in the early hours
of Saturday morning.
Several offensive slogans, including the motto F**k the
Queen, were scrawled in large letters across the front of
the hall on the town's Main Street.
Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Fr Duddy said he had
been contacted by angry parishioners.
"I was contacted by a number of people who expressed their
disgust and great disappointment that this graffiti attack
was carried out," he said.
"I drew attention to the fact that, if we look around the
rest of the North, attacks on Orange halls can provoke
attacks on Catholic churches.
"It would be terrible if the actions of a few were to start
a campaign of sectarianism in the Bellaghy area.
"A lot of people in the town are very annoyed about this."
Magherafelt Sinn Féin councillor Oliver Hughes, a brother
of IRA hunger striker Francis Hughes, spoke on behalf of
both himself and Bellaghy councillor Ian Milne when he
slammed those behind the sectarian vandalism.
"I am totally disgusted by this sectarian writing directed
at the Protestant people of Bellaghy and carried out by
sectarian bigots," he said.
"The republican and nationalist people of the area are
equally disgusted. This sort of thing is against the
principles and idealism of Irish republicanism, which aims
to treat all the people of Ireland as equals.
"It does appear that there is a sectarian element at work
here whose sole purpose is to intimidate."
South Derry has been caught in the grip of an ongoing tit-
for-tat sectarian campaign in recent months.
Catholic churches, GAA clubs and Orange halls have all been
In a sinister development last month, the PSNI warned
Gaelic athletic clubs in south Derry that loyalists were
planning to spread broken glass on pitches across the
Last month, the British army bomb squad was called to
O'Donovan Rossa GAA club in nearby Magherafelt to deal with
an explosive device left there by loyalists.
In recent weeks, loyalists have also erected posters around
areas of south Derry and Co Antrim branding the Gaelic
Athletic Association as a fascist organisation.
Ex-Prisoners Say They Can Fulfil Peace Role
By Marie Foy
25 October 2005
A study of the impact of imprisonment on paramilitaries has
been published in which the ex-inmates say they have a
The report, by Professor Brian Graham and Dr Peter Shirlow
from UU and Professor Kieran McEvoy of QUB, was undertaken
in conjunction with Tar Isteach and Epic, which are
republican and loyalist ex-prisoner organisations.
Many former prisoners said they felt they had a role to
play in the transition from conflict but that their efforts
had been undermined by the existence of criminalisation.
They also believed their experience could be used as a
deterrent to young people and "to show the motivations of
The figures showed 81% of former republican prisoners and
47% of loyalists had been involved in some form of
community work since their release. Some 63% and 33%
respectively were involved in interface areas.
Prof McEvoy said: "Significant numbers of former prisoners
have been involved in providing moral and community
leadership, in for example, advocating non-violent response
to community tensions. It is those kinds of people who have
the credibility, particularly to a younger generation who
may only have a dim memory of the grim reality of inter-
The report said there was often a sense of parallel worlds
in both communities and a desire to build transformation
within as opposed to between communities.
It also acknowledged contact between former prisoners had
increased due to peace-building strategies.
An opportunity now existed, it said, to move beyond present
divisions and ambiguities, but that opportunity should be
enhanced by direct funding of such contacts.
Watchdog Monitoring PSNI Probe
Inquiry into alleged contract corruption
By David Gordon
25 October 2005
The UK's public spending watchdog today stressed that it is
"closely monitoring" developments over alleged contract
corruption within the PSNI.
In its first comment on the affair, the National Audit
Office also said it would not be taking action until the
conclusion of a police probe.
The PSNI investigation is focusing on the cancellation of a
2001 contract to supply the force with armour plating for
The National Audit Office is responsible for scrutinising
the police service's use of taxpayers' money.
A spokesman for the watchdog today said: "We are closely
monitoring the investigation and will continue to keep
ourselves informed of its progress.
"We do not want to duplicate or prejudge the criminal
investigation so we do not intend to take further action
while the investigation is underway."
The inquiry into the cancelled 2001 contract is being
conducted by the PSNI's Fraud Squad, with assistance from
an outside expert - believed to be a retired detective from
outside Northern Ireland.
It was ordered after a High Court judge called for a
criminal inquiry and voiced suspicions that the company
supplying the armour plating had been deliberately
undermined by "person or persons" within the police
The company, Northern Ireland Sheet Metal Works, received a
£400,000 settlement from the PSNI earlier this month.
And the judge, Sir Liam McCollum, estimated that the affair
had cost the public purse £1m.
Senior PSNI officers, including chief constable Sir Hugh
Orde, briefed members of the Northern Ireland Policing
Board about the ongoing investigation in private yesterday.
It is understood the decision not to promptly suspend staff
members was defended by the PSNI leadership.
The police service has been accused of ignoring normal
public sector practice by not opting for suspensions.
A 2001 report on corruption by the Assembly's Public
Accounts Committee stated: "In our view, it is an
overriding principle that when someone is suspected of
fraud, they should be suspended immediately as suspension
does not imply guilt."
Row Over Victims' Chief
"The appointment will isolate victims of state and state-
Mark Thompson, Relatives for Justice
"It is obvious this appointment is a political sop to the
Philip McGuigan, Sinn Féin
The expected appointment of a former RUC man's widow as the
North's new Victims' Commissioner has been met with
scepticism by nationalists.
It is understood the British government will today confirm
Bertha McDougall's appointment to the key role working on
behalf of victims of the conflict.
Mrs McDougall's husband Lindsay was killed in an Irish
National Liberation Army ambush in Belfast city centre in
1981. The appointment of Mrs McDougall, who is a trustee of
the RUC George Cross Foundation, was rubber stamped by the
Democratic Unionist Party and is being viewed by many
observers as a Northern Ireland Office political
appointment made to appease unionists.
Last night, a group which represents the victims of
loyalist and state violence called for the appointment of a
second commissioner in a bid to ensure the interests of all
victims of violence are represented.
Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice said the needs of
all victims had to be addressed.
"Notwithstanding the great personal loss nor the integrity
of Bertha McDougall, there will, at the same time, be a
great deal of scepticism and an understandable amount of
concern of her appointment as Victims' Commissioner, given
her association and work with the RUC," he said.
"The appointment will isolate victims of state and state-
sponsored violence. Her appointment is not independent and
it will be seen in the context of the overtures being made
to the DUP as part of a wider political settlement.
"In terms of building confidence, we would call for the
role of Victims' Commissioner to be filled by two
appointees from across the community, thereby assisting in
building trust and addressing the needs of all victims. We
also call for legislative powers which work in the interest
of all victims."
The justice campaigner called for greater power to be
awarded to the office of Victims' Commissioner.
"Our consistent view has always been that the remit of a
Commissioner is more important than the appointee and that
the British government would be happy to appoint a
commissioner, yet unwilling to provide accompanying
legislative powers in the interests of all victims and
survivors," said Thompson.
"Unlike the position of Children's Commissioner, there will
be no formal process of application to which any individual
can apply. We believe this is in breach of Section 75 and
therefore outside of the Good Friday Agreement."
It is believed Mrs McDougall will be asked to oversee the
establishment of a Victim and Survivors Forum, an idea
first muted by Relatives For Justice.
The Victims' Commissioner currently has no powers to probe
truth and justice issues relating to state-linked murders.
Sinn Féin's victims' spokesperson Philip McGuigan says he
will request a meeting with the new commissioner.
"Sinn Féin have concerns about this appointment. It is
obvious this appointment is a political sop to the DUP and
the issue of victims is much too important to be treated
with political expediency," he said.
"I would imagine the unionist community would be concerned
if the Victims' Commissioner came from the republican
community. We can't allow a hierarchy of victims.
"A champion of victims' rights needs to be able to convey
independence and there have been a lot of victims created
at the hands of British state forces, including the RUC.
It's easy to understand the concerns within the nationalist
and republican community about this appointment.
"I intend to ask for a meeting with Mrs McDougall as soon
as that can be arranged."
SDLP Victims Spokeswoman Patricia Lewsley also expressed
concern at the appointment.
"If the government is serious about parity of esteem for
all victims, then it should not be consulting with or
seeking the approval of one political party only for an
appointment," she said.
"That undermines confidence, not just to victims, but in
the whole of society generally."
Tuesday 25 October 2005
Hanson Launches New Service For Victims Of Crime
Keeping victims of crime informed is an essential role of
the criminal justice system, Criminal Justice Minister
David Hanson MP, said today. He was speaking at the launch
of the 'Probation Board for Northern Ireland Victim
Information Scheme' which will provide key information to
victims about offenders who are subject to supervision by
the Probation Board for Northern Ireland. Speaking at the
scheme's official launch at the Waterfront Hall, David
Hanson said, "Today's launch is an important day for
victims of crime. The Scheme will be an important source of
information for them about offenders subject to Probation
supervision and underlines the importance that the criminal
justice system places on ensuring the needs of victims of
crime are met. "The awareness that an offender is serving
all or part of their sentence in the community can make
victims feel particularly vulnerable and it is therefore
important that they have the opportunity to fully
understand the sentence that the Court has given to the
offender and how the Probation Board will supervise that
sentence. "The Minister also spoke about the Probation
Board's developing role in dealing directly with victims.He
said, "The Probation Boards' role is sometimes perceived as
being exclusively offender based but victims interests have
always been a central aspect of their work. "The Probation
Board have an excellent reputation for working directly
with local communities and will be responsive to the needs
of individual victims so they receive information in a
range of ways, including the support provided through face-
to-face contact. "The scheme has been developed with the
active support of the PSNI, Public Prosecution Service,
Prison Service, Court Service and Victim Support. Praising
the role these organisations have played the Minister said,
"A partnership approach has been crucial in developing this
new Scheme and continued close inter-agency working will be
necessary to ensure its successful delivery. "Notes to
1. The Probation Board for Northern Ireland Victim
Information Scheme is a statutory scheme established under
the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 with
supporting statutory rules which come into effect on 25
October. The scheme is for victims of offenders who are
made subject to Probation supervised sentences from the
date of the launch.
2. The Victim Information Scheme will allow victims to
register to receive information about the duration and
nature of probation supervision arrangements; any relevant
conditional requirements placed on the offender; and be
informed of any subsequent Court pronouncements on those
matters. The release of such information is subject to one
specific safeguard – that its disclosure would not place
any individual at risk.3. All eligible victims will be
informed by PBNI (in partnership with PSNI, PPS and the
Prisoner Release Victim Information Scheme)
4. Probation Board supervise approximately 2,700 new Orders
each year including Probation Orders, Custody Probation
Orders, Community Service Orders, Combination Orders,
Juvenile Justice Centre Orders and Supervised Sex Offender
Licences. All would potentially form part of the Scheme
5. Of the new Orders PBNI supervise each year approximately
380 are Custody Probation Orders. The Probation Board will
work jointly with the Prisoner Release Victim Information
Scheme to provide an integrated service to the victims of
those offenders who, having completed the custodial element
of their sentence, return to the community to complete
their sentence under licensed supervision.
6. The Scheme will be managed by four members of Probation
Board staff operating from the PBNI Victims Unit,
ImperialBuildings, 72 High Street, Belfast, BT1 2BE. Tel:
02890 321972. Web address: http://www.pbni.org.uk/victims
Simpson - Bombers And Cold-Blooded Murderers Are Not
Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson has welcomed to the
appointment of a Victims Commissioner and has used the
occasion of the announcement to warn the Government not to
lower the bar regarding how the term victim is defined.
Speaking after the announcement Mr Simpson said,
"It is well known that the DUP has been pressing for a
Victims Commissioner for some time. Far to often in recent
years the pain of the victims of the troubles has been
relegated and the voice of victims ignored. The DUP has
long believed that this situation was wrong and accordingly
we have led the campaign for such a position to be put in
place. The fact that the post has been created and an
appointment has been made is a welcome development.
I am also pleased to see that in making the appointment,
the Secretary has chosen someone who has shared the grief
and loss felt by so many others in Northern Ireland.
In welcoming this announcement, I must also issue the
Government with a warning. This Government has a nasty
track record of on the one hand giving concessions to
republicans that are clear, unmistakable and swiftly
implemented, while on the other giving what appear to be
concessions to the law abiding community only to put them
onto the long finger, build all sorts of complications into
them, or when the initial headline has disappeared re-
configure things so as to ensure that those who have blown
the Province apart for decades profit from them also. This
would not be an issue to do so again.
The key to this appointment is not who will fulfill the
role of Victims Commissioner. Rather it is how will that
role be defined and fulfilled? How shall the term victim
be defined? There should be no question of any recognition
being given to those who set out to slaughter their
neighbours, only to run into the security forces.
Any attempt to include gangsters, bombers and cold blooded
murderers will only turn this announcement into yet another
opportunity tossed aside by Government. I am giving the
Secretary of State fair and timely warning on this. To
date he has shown himself slow to take up such messages –
now would be a good time to begin."
"Unionists Don't Desire A Return To Dark Days Of UUP
Leadership" Says Dawson
East Antrim DUP Assembly Member George Dawson has today
responded to accusations made by the UUP's Fred Cobain that
the DUP has delivered nothing for unionism. George Dawson
"Fred Cobain must believe that the unionist people have
completely forgotten what it was like to be led by the
useless UUP. Only someone who thought that unionists had
come down with a dose of collective amnesia could argue
that the DUP has gained little or nothing for unionism.
Our tenure at the tiller of unionism stands in stark
contrast to the dark days of the UUP's stewardship.
Unionism is now led by a party that knows the value of an
election manifesto and sticks to what it says. Life under
the UUP was a steady stream of talking tough one day and
then caving in the next. Unionists are glad for
Our 64 page unionist confidence building measures document
– the sort of document that the UUP never once compiled –
has only been with the government for a matter of days.
Already we have had confirmation that Orange Halls are to
receive rate relief and witnessed the appointment of an
excellent Victims' Commissioner. Are 100% de-rating for
Orange Halls and the creation of a Victims' Commissioner
things that the UUP considers to be little or nothing for
unionism? The fact that they never pressed the Government
on these and other matters shows that the UUP couldn't care
less about these important issues for unionism.
The difference between the DUP and the UUP can be seen as
much in what we haven't done as in what we have. With the
track record in abandoning basic unionist principles and
election manifestoes that the UUP possesses, it is an
absolute certainty that on the back of unclear IRA
decommissioning and an inconclusive IMC report that the UUP
would have been back into government with Sinn Fein in a
Fred's criticism over the RIR, demilitarisation, on the
runs and speaking rights in the Irish parliament would all
be easier to take if any of them were the responsibility of
the DUP. In fact, each and every one of these concessions
are ones either agreed to or acquiesced in by the Ulster
Unionist Party that continue to work their way through the
system. The DUP has never accepted any of these
concessions and indeed opposes every one of them. The UUP
cannot claim such an unchequered and unblemished history on
giveaways to Sinn Fein that owe their origins to the Joint
Declaration and other secret deals.
The Ulster Unionist Party's real problem is that the DUP is
in charge and we know where we are going and we know how to
achieve our strategy. Unionists know that the UUP haven't
a clue about charting a course for unionism and wouldn't
know how to get us there even if they did.
I am completely confident that the unionist electorate is
much happier to be led by the DUP than the UUP. No
unionist in their right mind will ever vote to return to
the unprincipled and deceitful attempt at leadership that
Fred Cobain's party perpetrated on the unionist people."
United Front To Tackle Hain On Jobs Snub For Derry
By Brendan McDaid
25 October 2005
Londonderry'S political and economic big hitters were
putting pressure on the Secretary of State to investigate
why the city's bid for 500 government jobs was passed over.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan lashed out at senior civil servants
ahead of a top level meeting with Peter Hain.
President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce Richard
Sterling, Derry Trades Council and Unionist and Nationalist
politicians will join Mr Durkan at today's top level
meeting, expected to start at 5pm.
It was widely expected that IT company Accenture would win
an electronic Human Resources contract from the Department
of Finance and Personnel, which economists said could have
spun out to create 1,000 jobs for Derry.
Those hopes were smashed, however after the department
announced almost a week ago that Fujitsu Services, who will
set up in Belfast, are their preferred bidder.
All parties have vowed to leave Mr Hain in no doubt about
the strength of feeling and the anger in Northern Ireland's
SDLP leader Mark Durkan this morning accused senior civil
servants of having a history of being "reluctant" to rubber
stamp any development in the North West.
In a hard hitting attack he said: "The fact is there has
been consistent under-investment in the North West and a
reluctance on the part of the Civil Service to see or
support anything west of the Bann, except when it comes to
rate increases, then they treat us equally."
He also said that during a meeting with Invest Northern
Ireland yesterday it emerged that they had been trying to
get Accenture to invest in Northern Ireland.
"They told me they had no hand, act or part in any
recommendation or any issues about location for these
jobs," Mr Durkan said, adding: "They told me that they
would regard Accenture as a very good capture for Northern
Ireland and had actually looked to get Accenture into
Mr Sterling, meanwhile, said the decision showed how badly
a devolved Assembly was needed in Northern Ireland.
Lessons Of South Africa's Peace Process
By Jarlath Kearney in South Africa
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams' four-day official visit
of South Africa last week provided examples from that
country's experiences that would be worth emulating in
South Africa's Freedom Park is located on Salvokop Hill on
the outskirts of the administrative capital Pretoria.
This culturally rich and spiritually inspiring construct
stares across time and space at the awkward, cold edifice
of the Voortrekker Monument, which commemorates the defeat
of indigenous Zulu tribes in 1838.
The Freedom Park is a government-sponsored project that
emerged following South Africa's truth and reconciliation
process as an inclusive national memorial.
The most sacred element of the park is the Isivivane, a
stone circle monument that honours all people who have died
in freedom struggles.
The Isivivane is the sanctuary within which those who were
"dehumanised by South Africa's past" can have their dignity
and humanity restored.
At the invitation of the Freedom Park Trust, Sinn Féin
president Gerry Adams laid a wreath within the Isivivane
last Tuesday morning to honour all those who died during
the Irish freedom struggle.
Mr Adams' trip to the Freedom Park was the first event in
his four-day official visit at the formal invitation of the
South African government.
The chief executive officer of the Freedom Park Trust is
one of South Africa's greatest living writers, Mongane
Speaking to Daily Ireland, Dr Serote said: "South Africa
has again reconfirmed the fact that buried very deeply
within every human being is the wish and the will to be
free and that freedom is attainable.
"Therefore, we believe that, even as things are very
difficult politically at the present moment in Ireland, the
Irish people will eventually get their freedom and will
The theme of achieving Irish freedom, through complementary
processes towards national reconciliation and national
independence, was central to Gerry Adams' visit. So too was
the contrast between South Africa's past and present
relationships with Ireland.
It is less than two decades since the apartheid government
conspired with British intelligence to provide a
substantial consignment of modern South African weaponry to
unionist paramilitaries in the North.
The intent and outworking of that agenda permitted a
systematic assassination campaign by the Ulster Defence
Association under the direction of British government agent
Those South African weapons were tactically employed — in
concert with the British government's collusion strategy —
to wipe out dozens of civic leaders within the nationalist
community, including publicly elected Sinn Féin officials
and the Belfast human-rights solicitor Pat Finucane.
By contrast, Gerry Adams spent last week in South Africa
garnering the experience and solidarity of South Africa's
peacemakers to bolster the agenda of the peace process in
Without exception, the Sinn Féin president found that the
agents of change in South Africa nowadays are just as
enthusiastic about Ireland as were their "dogs of war"
predecessors from the apartheid era while trading in terror
20 years ago.
South African president Thabo Mbeki, foreign minister
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and minister for intelligence Ronnie
Kasrils each formally received Mr Adams for detailed
A special joint sitting of parliament was convened in Cape
Town to be addressed by Mr Adams — an honour normally
reserved only for prominent heads of state.
The Sinn Féin president described his voluntary presence
for ministerial dialogue in the intelligence ministry's
headquarters as "a bit surreal".
However, it was another encounter that struck Mr Adams most
During the early part of last week, Mr Adams met Roelf
Meyer, the former chief negotiator for the National Party.
Mr Meyer first entered the South African parliament in 1979
and has previously met representatives of all of the
North's main parties to offer the benefit of his peace-
When Mr Adams asked how he was, Mr Meyer replied: "I'm
enjoying my freedom."
Later today, the Sinn Féin president will launch a new book
that seeks to expand on his party's concept of a road map
to Irish freedom.
A key republican objective in coming years will be to
persuade unionists that they too can enjoy their freedom.
South Africa's experience suggests that even the most
fanciful outcomes are possible if they are anchored around
the principled framework of equality and human rights
embodied in the Good Friday Agreement.
Of course, the starting point in South Africa was that
equality and human rights are inviolable foundation stones
for a peaceful transformation.
There are many differences between the situation in South
Africa and the conflict in Ireland but one consideration
should be borne in mind.
White South Africans constitute approximately one seventh
of the population. However, by trading their transitory
supremacy gained through apartheid for permanent equality
gained through freedom, courageous leaders such as Roelf
Meyer safeguarded the long-term future of their children
They also built a South Africa of compromise to which every
citizen could owe their allegiance.
President Thabo Mbeki told Daily Ireland on Wednesday
afternoon in Pretoria that unionists should learn from the
approach and experience of white South Africans in relation
to societal change.
In Ireland, the unionist community constitutes
approximately one fifth of the population — considerably
more than white South Africans in their own country.
The challenge must now be whether some courageous unionist
leader will champion the benefit of his or her community
embracing a genuine power-broking ability as a protected
but substantial minority in the context of the Good Friday
Agreement's all-Ireland dimension, and entering as equal
partners in a power- sharing executive as part of the
The only trade-off in such a challenge would be to fully
implement an Agreement, democratically ratified by the vast
majority of the Irish people in 1998, that safeguards
equality and human rights for all.
The visit of Ronnie Kasrils to Ireland at Sinn Féin's
request, which starts today, will symbolically pose that
significant challenge to those within the unionist
community, the British system and sections of the Irish
government who have not yet fulfilled their obligations
under the Agreement.
Mr Kasrils is a former director of intelligence and
military commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military
wing of the African National Congress.
He now holds the position of minister for intelligence,
which more than likely involves direct contact with some of
the agencies and personalities that targeted him during the
freedom struggle against apartheid.
In the context of the Good Friday Agreement, it is entirely
logical and proper that former combatants with elected
mandates should be permitted to exercise democratic
accountability over any governmental function in society.
That is a precedent already established during other
conflict-transformation processes, such as in South Africa.
With the IRA being the only army in the field thus far to
have formally ended its armed campaign and completely
disarmed, the commitment of republicans to strengthening
the peace process is now unquestionable.
The prospect of unionists re-entering power-sharing
government in the North with republicans is, sooner or
later, also inevitable.
Given those twin realities, the Downing Street trio of Tony
Blair, Peter Hain and Jonathan Powell — as well their Irish
junior partners, of course — would do well to reflect on
the South African experience before considering any
deviation from the Good Friday Agreement and all related
The Democratic Unionist Party, the Ulster Unionist Party
and their staunch pro-Union proxies within the system could
also start considering the long-term future of coming
generations with the foresight of figures such as Roelf
If South Africa's experience can teach the Irish peace
process one lesson, then it must be that shaping a culture
of change is infinitely more desirable than revisiting a
culture of failure.
Only through such a fundamental paradigm shift in thinking
can unionism, in a spirit of inclusiveness with all the
people of Ireland, fully exploit the massive opportunity
and unbounded potential of future political freedom.
Councillors Banned For Five Years
The mayor and deputy mayor of Newry and Mourne council are
facing a five-year ban from public office.
Mayor Pat McGinn, Sinn Fein, and his SDLP deputy Michael
Carr, are among 17 nationalist councillors who have been
accused of wilful misconduct by the local government
It relates to a discrimination case taken by the victims'
campaigner, William Frazer.
The 17 councillors must pay a £10,000 surcharge and face a
The issue relates to their conduct in a case dating back
Mr Frazer had asked the council if his group, Fair, could
use the council's community centre at Newtownhamilton.
The request was denied and Mr Frazer took the council to
court for discrimination and won.
Ulster Unionist councillor Danny Kennedy then complained
that the council should not be liable for a substantial
legal bill and asked the local government auditor to
Alfred Knox concluded that the councillors had been guilty
of wilful misconduct in not heeding legal advice.
This verdict was appealed by the councillors earlier this
year but the complaint has been upheld.
The councillors have 14 days to appeal.
Among them is former Sinn Fein Mayor Davy Hyland who has
left the council but is now an assembly member. It is not
yet clear if the disqualification relates to his assembly
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/25 11:55:17 GMT
© BBC MMV
Interpretation Of Republican Heritage Runs Like Fault Line
In Southern Politics
There has always been a degree of confusion within Fianna
Fáil about the pursuit of the republican ideal. To
rapturous applause at his party's Ard-Fheis in Killarney
last Friday night, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern promised to
restore the big annual military march past the General Post
Office in Dublin by Easter 2006, the 90th anniversary of
The march past would be conducted by the army of the Irish
state, which to this day styles itself Óglaigh na hÉireann.
"The Irish people need to reclaim the spirit of 1916, which
is not the property of those who have abused and debased
the title of republicanism," he said.
The Taoiseach was standing in front of a flag that he must
have presumed was an Irish Tricolour. It was in fact like
the flag of Côte d'Ivoire in west Africa. The orange
vertical bar was closest to the flagpole, the green
vertical bar on the outside. A Freudian slip perhaps?
The Taoiseach continued: "The Defence Forces are the only
legitimate army of the Irish people, the true successors of
The spirt of 1916 was "our state's inheritance, and we must
protect it from those who will abuse it and from the
revisionists who seek to denigrate it".
Bertie Ahern should have a thorough understanding of this
issue. His own father was a republican who underwent a
prolonged hunger strike. His own family were outside the
loop for years, outside any power elite, and seeking to
promote republican ideals.
Why then does he seek to accuse republicans associated with
Sinn Féin of "abuse" or "debasement" when he knows that
many of these people have given up their lives, and the
lives of their families, in order to advance the republican
Why has Ahern spent the last year accusing the leadership
of Sinn Féin of being no better than common criminals? Has
he forgotten the hunger strikes of 1980 and 1981 in which
seven men fasted for 53 days, before ten more men went to
their deaths rather than accept the label of "criminal"?
Has he bothered to read the recent book Martin Ferris: Man
of Kerry by JJ Barrett, in which the Kerry North TD
describes the systematic beatings meted out to republican
prisoners in Portlaoise, frequently during periods when
Fianna Fáil held power in Dublin? Nothing was done about
these disgraceful beatings by anybody in Fianna Fáil.
The whole interpretation of the republican heritage runs
like a gigantic fault line through Southern politics. It is
the political equivalent of the San Andreas Fault and it
threatens to erupt at any time.
As a Fine Gael Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave actually threatened
public servants with dismissal if they participated in
events to commemorate the 1916 Rising in 1976, the 60th
anniversary. It was a wonderful day. Tens of thousands
participated in a ceremony organised by Sinn Féin, and many
of them were public servants.
Now Cosgrave's successor Enda Kenny wants to reclaim the
republican legacy. He is fronting an organisation that
styles itself Collins 22. The party is planning to hold a
big dinner in Dublin next month at which it will claim that
it is the true successor to the Sinn Féin organisation that
was founded in late 1905.
It will be interesting to hear how the current depleted
batch of Fine Gaelers deals with the past, distant and not
• The 81 executions of republicans that paved the way for a
small coterie of privileged Dublin families to assume power
in the 1920s;
• The handover of the forensic evidence relating to the
Dublin and Monaghan bombings to the RUC under a Fine Gael-
Labour government in the mid-1970s;
• The bizarre grovelling of Taoiseach John Bruton to Prince
Charles, the commander in chief of the Parachute Regiment
in the mid-1990s;
• The unique facility with which the Fine Gael party
assembled a micro-unit of Nazis — known as the Blueshirts —
in the 1930s;
• The representatives of the leading Blueshirt families who
attended the democratically elected Dáil in full
paramilitary regalia in the mid-1930s;
• The methods employed by An Garda Síochána in the mid-
1970s to deal with militant republicans, an issue still not
Should we wait for an explanation? Should we bother?
But the fault line knows no bounds. Ahern's political
mentor Charles J Haughey saw his early political career
wrecked by the same political doublethink. In the period
from 1969 to 1970, Haughey, Neil Blaney and others believed
that they were acting with full cabinet authority in trying
to provide practical assistance to Northern nationalists.
The evidence to hand suggests that then Taoiseach Jack
Lynch and his associates within government knew precisely
what was taking place. But once the Dublin Special Branch
and the British securocrats went to opposition leader Liam
Cosgrave and told him of what they believed was happening,
the doublethink had to end. Arrests, trials and acquittals
followed during the so-called arms trial.
Haughey went on to assume power, briefly between 1979 and
1982 and more expertly in the period from 1987 onwards. But
after he came to power in 1987, he immediately ordered the
police to search 100,000 homes across the country — about
eight per cent of the country's homes. The police were
looking for weapons as part of Operation Mallard. This may
have been requested by British intelligence, which was at
the time aware that Libya had been supplying weapons to the
IRA. Nothing of any substance was found.
Haughey also decided in this period to continue with the
policy of extraditing republicans back into the hands of
the RUC and the Northern prison service. Several Ard-
Fheiseanna of Fianna Fáil had specifically mandated the
party not to extradite any political prisoners to the
North. The so-called political exception clause, which grew
out of British case law dating from 1908, had been removed
in 1984 by "chief justice" Tom O'Higgins, a two-time loser
in presidential elections and a descendant of some mobbed-
up Blueshirts from Co Laois. Haughey continued the
conveyor-belt extradition system inaugurated by O'Higgins
in a juryless court in the case of Dominic McGlinchey,
despite overwhelming opposition from the grass roots of his
But then, Haughey had presided over internment without
trial during his period as justice minister in the late
1950s and early '60s.
It has always been the same. There has only been one
exception to all of this hypocrisy. When Albert Reynolds —
a man with no historical baggage — came to power in 1992,
he was able to create a real peace process along the lines
outlined in the Hume-Adams talks. Reynolds was a
businessperson and no pushover. He told his British
counterpart John Major when to get lost and where to get
off. And he won respect on all sides by the huge energy
that he devoted to speaking to people on all sides.
Albert Reynolds had a majority of over 30 in Dáil Éireann
when he kick-started the ceasefires and got the peace
process rolling. He might still have been in power today
and matters might be much further advanced. Why was this
not possible? Perhaps you should ask the element in Fianna
Fáil that is planning a supernationalist jamboree outside
the GPO for Easter 2006.
Damien Kiberd is a writer and broadcaster. A presenter for
NewsTalk 106 in Dublin, he was previously editor of The
Sunday Business Post.
Sinn Féin's Mantle As The 'True Republican Party' Under
(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)
Sinn Féin's image as the torch bearers of modern-day Irish
republicanism is being challenged by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael
and the SDLP, who are all now laying claim to the title.
Barry McCaffrey looks at the developing battle for the
title of the 'true republican party'.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced to Fianna Fail's annual
Ard Fheis at the weekend that he is reinstating a military
parade to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising.
Mr Ahern said the parade will not only commemorate those
who died in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence
but will reaffirm the state's republican ideals.
However Fianna Fail is not alone in its effort to be
identified as the champion of republicanism.
Earlier this month Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny announced
his party's intention to commemorate the centenary of Sinn
Speaking at the launch of a new society to commemorate
former IRA leader Michael Collins, Mr Kenny claimed there
was a huge gulf between the party's founder Arthur Griffith
and Gerry Adams's leadership of Sinn Féin today.
"Today's Sinn Féin merely offers outdated and discredited
policies and an approach to politics that only serves as a
warning to the present generation of the risks associated
with a flirtation with a party that shares nothing but the
wording of the party founded by Griffith and none of the
true republican idealism of Collins," he said.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan has also attempted to lay claim to
the title of republicanism.
"The SDLP is proud to call itself a party of true
republicanism," he said.
"In the 21st century Irish republicanism must not be
allowed to be used as a synonym for a narrow nationalism.
"Those of us that share in the true republican ideals of
unity among Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter must stand
against those that would denigrate and degrade those ideals
in a rush for domination over other traditions."
Political historian Professor Paul Arthur believes that the
battle to reclaim the title of Irish republicanism has been
brought about by the southern parties' need to stem the
political rise of Sinn Féin, combined with a deep rooted
resentment that the IRA had 'hijacked' the ideals of
Collins and Eamon De Valera.
"The clear worry for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael is that Sinn
Féin are going to do well in the next election in the
Republic and will pick up more seats," he said.
"Given the nature of every recent election in the Republic
there is a real possibility of a coalition government and
Fianna Fail having to go into partnership with Sinn Féin.
"All the other parties clearly want to keep them out.
"One way is to claim the high moral ground over who are the
However, Mr Arthur doubts whether the mainstream parties'
attempts to reclaim the republican title will stop Sinn
Féin's electoral rise.
"I don't think this will hurt Sinn Féin's electoral
"They operate a very successful election campaign, which
will be very hard to stop unless they are involved in a
"People will vote for the party who they think is working
hardest for them on the ground and Sinn Féin is very good
"It will be difficult for Fianna Fail to reclaim the title
of the true republican party, particularly because they
downplayed the 75th anniversary celebrations in 1991.
"If they are now swinging the other way it will look like
"It will also not sit well with northern unionists,
particularly the DUP, which Fianna Fail is trying to court.
"I suspect there will be an effort to make the 1916
celebrations less contentious, much like the efforts being
made to make the July 12 celebrations less contentious."
Mr Arthur said that the mainstream nationalist parties'
antipathy towards Sinn Féin should not be misjudged.
"People should not underestimate the anger within the
mainstream nationalist parties that the Provisionals had
hijacked the name of republicanism for the last 30 years.
"That has left a deep anger which still rankles within all
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly welcomed the government
announcement that those killed during the Easter Rising and
War of Independence would now be remembered.
"I think it is only right that the government should at
last remember our dead," he said.
"However, I feel it is a pity they have deliberately chosen
to ignore their memories for so long.
"People will not be fooled by what Fianna Fail, Fine Gael
and the SDLP are trying to do.
"They chose to ignore the ideals of republicanism for
decades and are now trying to rebrand themselves for
"The electorate will not be fooled by this tokenism and
will know which party has stayed true to the republican
ideal for so long."
Ulster Unionist Chris McGimpsey, who took Irish citizenship
in the 1980s to challenge the Irish constitution's claim to
sovereignty over Northern Ireland, warned that mainstream
nationalist efforts to reclaim the republican mantle risked
alienating northern unionists.
"From a unionist perspective it could potentially backfire
for Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the SDLP," he said.
"They all now seem to be trying to take the republican
title back from Sinn Féin.
"What they do not understand is that the actions of the
PIRA has destroyed any credibility which unionists ever had
for the ideology of Irish republicanism.
"Ironically I was in Dublin as a 13-year-old boy for the
50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, when the place was
awash with Tricolours and republican symbols.
"In 1991 I found myself in Dublin again during the 75th
anniversary celebrations and it was obvious that the Irish
people did not want to know."
SDLP MLA John Dallat defended his party's republican ethos.
"We have no problem celebrating the past but from a basis
which promotes unity rather than division," he said.
"The last thing we need to be doing is creating a mirror
image of what Orangemen and Paisleyites have been doing.
"That would be a disaster which would prolong the day when
we can all look each other straight in the eye as Irishmen
who have the confidence to face the future together without
resorting to any form of triumphalism."
October 25, 2005
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