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November 16, 2005

Committee Long-Fingers US/UK Extradition Treaty

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IE 11/16/05 Committee Long-Fingers U.K. Extradition Treaty
IC 11/16/05 Adams Warned Of Threat To His Life
SF 11/16/05 Castlereagh Collusion Case Finally Exposed
IE 11/16/05 Finucane Kin Raise Concerns With Ahern
IE 11/16/05 Hain Anticipates Single Economic Market
IE 11/16/05 Hain: Benefits From Cooperation W/ Republic
SF 11/16/05 SDLP Challenged Over OTR Issue
UP 11/16/05 Britain's N. Ireland Chief Tips Strategy
IO 11/16/05 2 Arrested Re: Murder Of Conlon
IO 11/16/05 Row Over Bomb Victims Photo
DU 11/16/05 DUP Opposes 2nd& 3rd Reading Of OTR Legislation
TO 11/16/05 Paisleys Are Family At War On Sex Bias Claim
IE 11/16/05 Opin: Attacking SF Risky For Republic's Parties
IT 11/16/05 SF Would Raise Taxes If Necessary, Says Adams
BB 11/16/05 £20m Paid To Omagh Bomb Victims
EX 11/16/05 Opin: Bertie Rules Out Coalition - Believe Him
BT 11/16/05 A Rainbow Shamrock Is Patronising Lunacy
IS 11/16/05 UK To Extradite British Terror Suspect To US
IT 11/17/05 Taoiseach Defends Compulsory Irish

(Poster’s Note: Tomorrow morning I leave for the IAUC
Peace Panel Discussion in Washington DC. I don’t know how
much time I will have to devote to gathering news. The
Irish American Information Service is a good source of
news. The links I include every morning also can provide
good info. Jay)


Committee Long-Fingers U.K. Extradition Treaty

By Ray O'Hanlon

Against a backdrop of mounting criticism from Irish-
American organizations the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee declined to vote on the controversial revised
U.S./U.K. extradition treaty during a hearing session

The treaty was signed in March 2003 by then U.S. Attorney
General John Ashcroft and British Home Secretary David
Blunkett, who in the past 12 months has twice resigned from
the British government under a cloud.

In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Ashcroft made no
specific reference to any conflict, group or country.
However, Irish-American activist groups say they see
Ireland, and specifically Northern Ireland, written clearly
between the treaty's lines.

The treaty has been awaiting a necessary committee hearing
before being passed to the full Senate for a ratification

A unanimous vote by the foreign relations panel is required
before the treaty goes to the full 100-member Senate for a

When the treaty appeared on the committee's Web site
schedule last week, Irish-American groups including the
Ancient Order of Hibernians and Irish American Unity
Conference mounted an e-mail drive aimed at committee

Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd and Rhode Island Republican
Lincoln Chafee, both of whom are seen as being sympathetic
to Irish-American concerns over the treaty's language, were
especially pressed by Irish-American activists.

AOH National President Ned McGinley welcomed the Senate
committee's decision to delay its hearing.

"We are very pleased that the committee decided to at least
open up this treaty to dialogue. We feel that when the
American people see its language they will be very
concerned," McGinley told the Echo.

McGinley said that Hibernians had sent in requests to
committee members asking them to split the U.S./U.K. treaty
from other similar documents currently up for

The revised treaty, he said, was "loaded up with Patriot
Act-type of language" that was "being used to frighten

The U.S. and U.K. had no problem extraditing people under
the existing treaty, McGinley asserted.

"But [the departments of] Justice and State want the same
patriot-style language in all extradition treaties," he

McGinley said that he understood the treaty would be taken
up separately by the committee in the New Year.

The AOH, he said, would be preparing a document outlining
its objections to the treaty for committee members.

"This treaty was written in the panic response to the
horrible terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 by the John
Ashcroft Justice Department," McGinley said.

"Many laws written in haste have lived on to be regretted
in the future because they were not thoroughly debated. We
would ask this committee to not rush to such judgment when
there is no such need."

Among concerns voiced by the Hibernians and others are that
the revised treaty eliminates the existing political
offense exception; transfers responsibility for determining
whether the extradition request is politically motivated
from the U.S. Courts to the executive branch; allows for
extradition even if there is no violation of U.S. federal
law and applies retroactively for offenses allegedly
committed even before the ratification of the treaty.

"No Irish-American activist is safe if this treaty passes,"
the AOH said in a statement prior to Tuesday's hearing.

The controversy over the new treaty first flared up when
Francis Boyle, a professor of law at the University of
Illinois, publicly aired his concerns over the document.

The treaty was subsequently described as "atrocious" by New
York-based attorney and activist Frank Durkan.

Boyle was in the committee hearing room in the Senate
Dirksen Building Tuesday but did not speak. What testimony
there was before the committee was confined to U.S.
government officials.

This story appeared in the issue of November 16 - 22, 2005

****************************************** eid=50102&headline=adams-warned-of-threat-to-his-life-name_page.html

Adams Warned Of Threat To His Life

Nov 16 2005

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was warned his life was
under threat from loyalist terrorists.

Police went to his home in west Belfast after recovering a
document stolen from military offices at the Castlereagh
security base.

The move comes after more than 50 republicans in the east
of the city were alerted on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness was outraged
by the warnings, saying 400 people's details were in the

Accusing the authorities of a cover-up, Mr McGuinness
stressed that the Government had given previous assurances
that nothing had fallen into paramilitary hands.

The Mid Ulster MP said: "The British Government, the
British Army and the PSNI (Police Service of Northern
Ireland) have consciously allowed over 400 people and their
families to live under threat without informing them of
this risk for over 16 months in order to sustain the cover-

"The people contacted (on Tuesday) night are angry both at
the withholding of warnings for 16 months and the refusal
to give them the information needed to employ proper
measures to protect themselves and their families.

"The other 350 people whose details are believed to be
contained in the document and who have not been alerted to
this are in an even more dangerous situation."

Police first went to homes in Belfast's Short Strand, a
staunchly Catholic district, to inform people there. They
have confirmed the retrieved document is linked to a breach
of internal security at Castlereagh in July 2004.

Republicans alleged that Royal Irish Regiment soldiers were
involved in leaking the details to loyalists as part of an


Castlereagh Collusion Case Finally Exposed

Published: 16 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness was today
joined by Policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly and South
Belfast Assembly member Alex Maskey for a press conference
in Belfast. The press conference was called to deal with
the fallout from the revelation that a document containing
the details of hundreds of republicans and nationalists was
stolen from Castlereagh PSNI base and handed to one of the
unionist paramilitary groups.

Speaking at the press conference Mr McGuinness said:

" Last year a document containing the details of up to 400
people went missing from the Castlereagh security complex
in East Belfast. In July 2004 it was leaked that an
internal British Army probe into this was under way. 28
members of the RIR implicated at some level in this
collusion conspiracy were moved to other duties. Only one
was arrested. None were suspended. This remains the case.

" Due to the seriousness of this matter Sinn Féin sought
meetings with the NIO Security Minister at the time Ian
Pearson, and the then Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Brian Cowen.

" Ian Pearson stated publicly that he had "confirmed with
senior officers in the PSNI that there are no indications
that material has fallen into the hands of paramilitaries".

" Last night, however, over 50 people in the Short Strand
were informed that their details were in the hands of
loyalists. The PSNI gave the minimal amount of information.
The loyalist group involved, the nature of the information
and age of the information were not provided.

" Ian Pearson and his senior PSNI sources were clearly
trying to cover up the clear and irrefutable evidence of
collusion between the RIR and loyalist paramilitaries.
Indeed there is a raft of comments by the British Security
Minster Ian Pearson and senior British Army and security
sources at that time which sought to do this.

" The British government, the British Army and the PSNI
have consciously allowed over 400 people and their families
to live under threat without informing them of this risk
for over 16 months in order to sustain the cover up.

" The people contacted last night are angry both at the
withholding of warnings for 16 months and the refusal to
give them the information needed to employ proper measures
to protect themselves and their families The other 350
people whose details are believed to be contained in the
document and who have not been alerted to this are in an
even more dangerous situation.

" The structures of collusion which have resulted in
hundreds of deaths remain in place. So too the cover up at
very senior levels of the British political and military
establishment. This is totally unacceptable." ENDS

Editors Note: Quotes concerning Castlereagh Collusion issue

Ian Pearson, NIO Security Minister - July 2004

"I have confirmed with senior officers in the PSNI that
there are no indications that material has fallen into the
hands of paramilitaries."

Ian Pearson, NIO Security Minister - July 2004 when meeting
Gerry Kelly

There is "no story" in the allegations about a security
breach at Castlereagh

British Army spokesperson - July 2004

"The Army maintains stringent procedures for the handling
of documentation and is taking very seriously the fact that
a document is currently unaccounted for.

"As the security minister said today, there is no
indication that any material has fallen into the hands of

"Meanwhile, pending the outcome of the PSNI investigation,
a number of military personnel have been transferred to
alternative duties."
UDA sources - Sunday 25th July 2004

Claimed to be in possession of the document
Security source told PA - July 2004

"We would know within 24 hours if the UDA or any other
paramilitary group had got hold of the document."
PSNI spokesperson - November 2005

Police said they recovered a document thought "linked to a
breach of internal security in Army offices in July 2004".

The PSNI said in a statement that "as a result, police are
now warning a number of people about their personal

15th November 2005 - Short Strand
Over 50 families in the Short Strand told by the PSNI that
their details were found in the hands of loyalist


Finucane Kin Raise Concerns With Ahern

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST -- The family of murdered solicitor, Pat Finucane,
met a senior Irish government minister on Tuesday to raise
continuing concerns about the terms of the proposed British
inquiry into state collusion in his killing.

The family raised with Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern the
Inquiries Act 2005, which they believe would be used to
cover up the truth, rather than expose it.

Finucane's widow, Geraldine, was accompanied by the dead
man's former legal partner, Peter Madden, who is also her
solicitor, and Jane Winter, director of the London-based
human rights organization British Irish Rights Watch.

Madden met the most senior legal officer in Britain, the
lord chancellor, In London last month. He confirmed that no
judge has yet been appointed to the proposed inquiry.

Madden informed the lord chancellor that the Finucane
family would not take part in any inquiry under the new
legislation because it would not comply with the
recommendations of former Canadian judge Peter Cory.

The British government had asked Cory to rule on whether
there was sufficient evidence to warrant a public inquiry.
He had replied that there was and that such an inquiry must
be independent, international and public.

The Irish government is on record supporting Cory's ruling
and his view that the new Inquiries Act would not be
sufficiently independent to get to the truth about
allegations of state collusion with loyalists in the

Cory had said the act would create an "Alice in Wonderland"
situation. He added that he, personally, could not
recommend any judge should preside over such an inquiry.

This view was supported by the British judge, Lord Saville,
currently presiding over the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, who had
added that this was also the view of the Australian and
Canadian judges sitting on the same inquiry.

The Inquiries Act 2005 removes control over what evidence
should be held in public, and other key powers, from any
panel of judges, handing authority over instead to the
British government.

Since that government, in the Finucane case, is in effect
accused of murder itself, there would be no degree of
independence -- one of Cory's crucial requirements.

This story appeared in the issue of November 16 - 22, 2005


One island!

Hain Anticipates Single Economic Market

By Niall Stanage

The island of Ireland will soon come to be regarded as a
single economic entity, Peter Hain, the British Secretary
of State for Northern Ireland, has said. In a candid
interview with the Irish Echo yesterday, Hain noted that,
"in future decades it is going to be increasingly difficult
to look at the economy of north and south except as a sort
of island of Ireland economy."

Hain also described the Northern Ireland economy as "not
sustainable in the long-term", although he acknowledged
that it was doing better at present than at any time in its
history. "The public sector is too large compared with the
private sector," Hain said. "It dominates the economy."

Hain's comments are notable since they seem to mark an
increased acceptance of the need to move towards greater
all-Ireland cooperation on economic issues.

The British cabinet minister said he foresaw an "increasing
synergy between north and south" economically. He also
revealed that the British government is planning an
international investment conference aimed at boosting the
north's economic fortunes in late spring or summer 2006.

The conference, which is expected to carry the imprimatur
of President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, will, according to Hain, explicitly link Northern
Ireland to the huge economic gains made in recent years by
the Republic.

"It's an opportunity for Irish Americans not to just act
charitably, but for businesses in their own hard self-
interest to say, 'look, Northern Ireland's a great place to
invest, it is part of an island that is growing very fast,
especially in the south."

Hain also had harsh words for republicans and loyalists on
this, his second visit to the U.S. since becoming Secretary
of State.

On policing, he said that since Sinn Fein members already
engaged in discussions with the PSNI on an informal basis,
it was time for the party to "cut the crap and get on with
it" in relation to a final agreement on the issue.

On controversial parades, he said that the leadership of
the Orange Order needed to realize that its refusal to
enter into discussions with the Parades Commission and
local residents' groups was "just not good enough."


Lookin' South

Hain Argues North Benefits From Greater Cooperation With Republic

By Niall Stanage

Peter Hain, the British Secretary of State for Northern
Ireland, forecast increasing economic cooperation between
the north and the Republic in a wide-ranging interview with
the Irish Echo on Tuesday.

He also demanded Sinn Fein accept new policing
arrangements, and revealed details of a forthcoming
international investment conference aimed at boosting
Northern Ireland's economic fortunes.

Hain, visiting New York as part of his second trip to the
U.S. since becoming Secretary of State in May, predicted
that the island of Ireland would soon come to be seen as a
single economic unit.

"In future decades, it is going to be increasingly
difficult to look at the economy of north and south except
as a sort of island of Ireland economy," he said. "We are
deepening north-south cooperation in a number of areas."

Hain acknowledged the seriousness of the economic
challenges faced by Northern Ireland, where some surveys
have suggested that up to 60 percent of all employment is
dependent upon the state.

"The Northern Ireland economy, though it is doing better
than ever in its history, is not sustainable in the long-
term," Hain said. "I don't want the Northern Ireland
economy to be a dependent economy as it is now, with a sort
of UK, 'big brother' umbrella over it. It needs to be much
more self-sufficient, so that's what we're trying to do."

The international investment conference, which is slated to
take place in late spring or summer next year, is one of
the initiatives aimed at addressing these problems.
President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair will endorse the event, Hain said.

Again putting conspicuous stress on the all-Ireland
dimension, he emphasized the gains that could accrue to the
north from linking itself more closely to the Republic.

The conference, he said, would provide "an opportunity for
Irish Americans not to just act charitably, but for
businesses in their own hard self-interest to say, 'look,
Northern Ireland's a great place to invest, it is part of
an island that is growing very fast, especially in the

In relation to the peace process, Hain noted that the
British government intended to introduce legislation in
February that would provide for the devolution of policing
and criminal justice powers to the north. However, such
legislation would not be implemented until the northern
institutions came back into full operation. The
resurrection of the institutions does not appear likely
until spring 2006 at the earliest.

Sinn Fein has so far refused to join the local policing
boards that will assume responsibility for the Police
Service of Northern Ireland. Distrust of the police is also
virtually universal among the party's supporters.

Speaking via satellite to a Friends of Sinn Fein dinner
held in New York's Sheraton Hotel last week, however, Gerry
Adams said that his party would "be part of a policing

Hain insisted that "there is no reason for Sinn Fein not to
engage with policing. I know the history and the conflict,
but we are in a new era in Northern Ireland."

He also complained that some low-level instances in which
Sinn Fein representatives had declined to co-operate with
the PSNI were "petty and almost vindictive." Referring to
Sinn Fein's reticence about signing up to the new policing
plans, he said the party might as well "cut the crap and
get on with it."

He expressed similar impatience with loyalists in relation
to contentious parades. In recent years, marches through or
close to Catholic areas by Protestant organizations,
primarily the Orange Order, have provoked serious disorder

The Orange Order's leaders have in general been
antagonistic both to groups representing Catholic residents
and to the Parades Commission, the body that adjudicates on
the acceptability or otherwise of proposed marching routes.

"There are some very good people in the Orange Order who
are engaged despite the leadership," Hain said. "The
leadership of the Orange Order really has to recognize that
its standoff from the Parades Commission itself, and from
local dialogue, is just not good enough. The unionists have
a right to parade -- without intimidating anybody -- but
that has to be [based upon] cross-community consensus."

Hain also addressed the ongoing controversy about the lack
of British government recruitment advertising in Daily
Ireland, a relatively new paper in Northern Ireland. Daily
Ireland's launch was assisted to the tune of about $800,000
by U.S. investors. It hews to a strongly nationalist
editorial line.

The paper's management alleges that the British
government's refusal to place recruitment advertising
within its pages is evidence of bias against it and its

Not surprisingly, Hain disputed that interpretation. He
noted that there were already other forms of British
government advertising in Daily Ireland and that decisions
about recruitment advertising were made on a value-for-
money basis.

"Government advertising is not some kind of taxpayers'
subsidy for the press," he said. "It has got to produce
some kind of benefit. That's the criteria."


SDLP Challenged Over OTR Issue

Published: 16 November, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing and Justice issues Gerry
Kelly today accused the SDLP of deliberately
misrepresenting his party's position on the issue of OTRs.

Mr Kelly said:

" In negotiations with the British and Irish governments
Sinn Fein raised the issue of a small number of people who
are on the run. These are political exiles who are
displaced from their families and who, if arrested and
convicted, would have been eligible for release under the
terms of the Good Friday Agreement. All of those we were
aware of are Irish republicans and all are firm supporters
of the peace process.

" Sinn Fein did not support, propose, discuss or accept
that members of the British state forces should be part of
the process nor did we argue for a blanket amnesty.

" On the contrary throughout the negotiations, we sought to
ensure the scheme would not provide an amnesty to members
of British state forces who carried out or were responsible
for state killings or collusion and whose activities have
always been covered up by the British government. The
scheme published by the two governments at Weston Park in
2003 related only to OTRs and did not include members of
British state forces.

" Our position on collusion and state violence is clear. We
support the families of the victims in their pursuit of
justice and truth. The SDLP on the other hand refused to
even turn up to meet these families in both Stormont and
Westminster. The reality is that the British state has
always protected members of its forces against prosecution
and in the small number of unavoidable convictions, the
perpetrators have enjoyed minimum prison sentences, early
releases, re-admission to the British Army and subsequent

" Sinn Féin have been to the forefront in highlighting the
issue of collusion and state violence. This is a
fundamental issue. Sinn Fein will continue to confront the
British government on this. The apparatus of collusion
remains in place. It must be dismantled. The British
continue to deny the policy of collusion exists. They must
be forced to acknowledge the truth and those who operated
and controlled this policy, including senior British
political figures, who have always enjoyed impunity, must
be held to account." ENDS


Britain's N. Ireland Chief Tips Strategy

UPI Senior News Analyst

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Can tough love jump-start the
Northern Irish peace process and transform its economy to
match the trigger growth of the neighboring Republic of
Ireland? Peter Hain, Britain's recently appointed secretary
of state for Northern Ireland, believes it can.

In an exclusive interview with United Press International,
Hain, who is visiting the United States this week,
expressed confidence that the cease-fires in Northern
Ireland would hold and that the Catholic nationalist Irish
Republican Army was abandoning not just its paramilitary
armory, but its involvement in criminal activity as well.
He also expressed optimism that a "sea-change" was taking
place among the paramilitary groups in the province's
majority Protestant loyalist community, too. And he
expressed a tough determination to enforce unpopular
economic reforms to shrink the 1.7 million-population
province's public sector and develop a modern competitive
economy there.

Hain made clear he was determined to take the hard
decisions needed to modernize Northern Ireland now by
giving the local political parties the opportunity to look
good when they come back into the game. It is a post- peace
process and post-conflict strategy that also looks to drain
the swamp of bitterness and privation in isolated pockets
of Northern Ireland where Loyalist extremists are still

Hain was cautious about the prospects for getting the
Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein, the dominant
political parties among Northern Ireland's million
Protestants and 700,000 Catholics into a power-sharing
partnership that would allow local democratically elected
government there to be revived.

"I wouldn't put a time frame on it," he said.

Politicians in Northern Ireland are waiting for the January
report of Canadian Gen. John de Chastelian's Independent
Monitoring Commission on whether the IRA's July 28
statement is being implemented on the ground by them. "We
will want to review the situation immediately afterwards,"
Hain said.

However, he cautioned, "The DUP (led by the Rev. Ian
Paisley) have made it clear they wouldn't be rushed or
bounced into negotiations and I understand that."

De Chastelain's January report will be on paramilitary
activities, targeting, intelligence gathering and criminal
activities. Hain said that the information he was receiving
from the British security services gave him cautious
optimism that the IRA was in fact fulfilling its pledge to
get out of criminal and paramilitary activities. "So far,
so good," he said. "The intelligence I am receiving from
the security services suggest that the IRA is complying
with its July commitment. Yes, it's encouraging, (but)
we've (still) got some sticky patches to get through.

"Next week, I'm introducing into the House of Commons a new
procedure for terrorist suspects residing outside United
Kingdom jurisdiction," Hain said. "They can come back on a
license and are free to return to Northern Ireland subject
to not getting involved in any more paramilitary
activities. That is part of the closure we are looking for
on 'The Troubles.'

"It is the same principle that was applied to the 400
(paramilitary detainees from both sides who were) released
during the peace process. Of that 400, only 12 have been
rearrested," he said.

Protestant paramilitary activities, he said, were "still
very worrying. However the Loyalist Defense Force and the
Ulster Defense Association have both made hopeful

"There is no rationale for the continued existence of the
Protestant paramilitaries," Hain said. "What is the point
of (still having) Loyalist paramilitaries? At the moment
they seem to be fighting the Northern Ireland police (but)
loyalism is supposed to be loyal to the Crown. The police
are the officers of the Crown. Yet in the September riots,
Loyalists were trying to kill the police."

He said the Loyalists paramilitaries were developed to
defend the Protestant community from the IRA. But the IRA
has ended its war and he urged them to end their violence.
"The war is over," he said.

"I do see a sea change within (loyalist) ranks," he added.
"Power -sharing and democratically elected rule won't be
restored in matter of weeks or possibly even months. In the
short term, the stalemate can hold but if it continued for
years that would be very dangerous. I don't expect it to be
restored in weeks or months. I'm sure it can be restored
(in time)."

Meanwhile, Hain has abandoned the strategic policy of
previous Conservative and Labour Party secretaries of state
who for decades have poured money into job-supplying
bureaucracies in Northern Ireland, not asked questions,
bought prosperity with British taxpayer subsidies and
focused all their energies on the peace process.

Appointed only in May after Prime Minister Tony Blair's
third general election victory in a row -- a record only
Margaret Thatcher in modern British history can match -- he
has already made clear he is going to be an activist
secretary of state imposing needed domestic reform on
Northern Ireland from the top down, however unpopular it
may be.

He is introducing increased water charges and dramatic
increases in the property tax.

"There is a lot of resentment about that," Hain said. "The
average property tax in Mainland Britain is 1,200 pounds
(about $2,300). In Northern Ireland it is only 500 pounds

"I am optimistic on the security front. I am more concerned
about the economic front," he told UPI. "Northern Ireland
is not a sustainable economy. Currently it has more jobs
and more prosperity than ever before. The unemployment rate
at only 4 percent is the lowest it has ever been in the
province's history.

"But there is desperate over-administration and too much
public bureaucracy. Hospital waiting lists are far too long
and general education standards are just not good.

"Education standards in general are lower than Mainland
(British) standards," Hain said. "The proportion of
children without secondary education qualifications and
without (college level) degrees is far lower (than in
Mainland Britain) At the top of the education system,
people (from Northern Ireland) do a lot better than on the
mainland, but at the bottom they are doing worse.

"In some loyalist areas, unemployment is as high as 40
percent even though the average level of unemployment for
all of Northern Ireland is only 4 percent. And these
pockets tend to be the areas of most violent loyalist
paramilitary activity. The economic and security strategies
are strongly connected," he said.

"My message to the DUP and Sinn Fein is: 'Get into power
yourself and take these decisions yourself if you don't
like them.' As it is, when they get in, the unpopular
decisions will have been taken already by me so it will be
a lot easier for them.

"The public sector is far too big and bloated," he said.
"If it were not for the United Kingdom umbrella, Northern
Ireland would be in dire economic shape.

"We have 26 local councils administering a population of
only 1.7 million. We have 100 quangos, semi-government
organizations, 19 hospital trusts, four health authorities
and five education boards. We have got to have a much
higher caliber of decision making. That is why I am
announcing a radical restructuring of public services. We
need to devolve resources for back office bureaucracy to
the front line.

"Northern Ireland needs to develop creative industry,
Information Technology, computer technology, nano-
technology and bio-tech," Hain said. "It needs to develop
value-added information services. We need greater synergy
between the economies of the North and South of Ireland. At
the end of the day, Ireland is one island. In the end, the
island of Ireland is going to face the fierce winds of
global competition, especially the threat from India and

"The Republic of Ireland has crated a highly efficient, and
competitive modern economy, Northern Ireland needs to learn
from the South the importance of enterprise and of
investing in infrastructure and education and creating a
lot more dynamic and entrepreneurial economy," he said.


Two Arrested In Connection With Murder Of Newly Released Prisoner

16/11/2005 - 19:36:07

Two people have been arrested by detectives investigating
the murder of Martin Conlon in Armagh last week.

A 30 year-old woman and a teenage boy were detained in the
Armagh area this afternoon.

The 35 year-old victim was found with gunshot wounds to the
head outside Keady last Monday. Detectives are looking at
whether Mr Conlon was killed by dissident republicans, with
whom he had links.

Mr Conlon was released recently from Portlaoise prison
after serving four year term.


Row Over Bomb Victims Photo

A photograph of the Enniskillen IRA bomb victims was
removed from an ambulance depot after a complaint, it was
revealed tonight.

Unionists said management ordered it to be taken down when
a staff member protested.

Arlene Foster, a DUP member of the suspended Northern
Ireland Assembly, said she was disgusted.

The Ambulance Service tonight confirmed an investigation
was under way.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said: "This decision
shows a complete lack of respect for those who lost their
lives in the IRA bomb."

Among the 11 people killed in the no-warning cenotaph bomb
was Kitchener Johnston, 71, who once worked at the depot in
te Co Fermanagh town.

Ms Foster said: "This photograph was placed in the depot as
a tribute to Mr Johnston and also as a permanent reminder
of that fateful day when so many from the area lost their

"The photograph of the victims, which had no inscription of
any kind on it, was removed by the Ambulance Service after
a complaint was lodged by a member of staff in the depot.

"This individual claimed that the photograph was offensive
and asked that it be removed."

Ms Foster said she would be seeking a meeting with
ambulance officials.

The Poppy Day atrocity on November 8, 1987 also injured
more than 60 people and was one of the most notorious
attacks of the Troubles.

In a statement, the Ambulance Service said: "The Northern
Ireland Ambulance Service has been made aware of an issue
at Enniskillen station.

"An internal investigation is now under way in an effort to
resolve the matter."


DUP Will Oppose 2nd & 3rd Reading Of OTR Legislation

Speaking today DUP Deputy Leader Peter Robinson said that
the party had submitted a reasoned amendment declining to
give a second reading to the Northern Ireland (Offences)
Bill, known as the On-The-Runs legislation. The DUP motion
which appears in today's House of Commons Order Paper

'That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the
Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill, which fails to protect
the human rights of the victims of terrorism; which
devalues the courts by introducing an amnesty dressed up as
a judicial process; and allows those who have been involved
in acts of terrorism to escape facing the full rigour of
the law; which does not contain a condition that those
exiled by the terrorist organisations are able to return to
Northern Ireland free from threat and which fails to
provide any time limit for the use of its provisions and
requires no expression of remorse from those responsible
for terrorist activity while permitting some of them to
maintain anonymity.'

The East Belfast MP said,

"We will oppose this legislation at second and third
reading and put down what might be considered by the
Government to be wrecking amendments during the committee
stage. The party has already discussed the Bill with both
the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties who are both
resolutely opposed to the measure. The second reading is
due to be debated in the House of Commons next week.

To allow fugitives from justice, who have committed some of
the most heinous atrocities in our history, to freely
return to a life in Northern Ireland that their victims can
never have would be the greatest ever abuse of our legal

The Government will not have an easy ride with this
legislation. Democratic Unionists will do everything they
can to thwart the Government in Parliament on this issue."


Paisleys Are Family At War On Sex Bias Claim

By David Sharrock

The Protestant leader has been accused by his daughter of
discrimination over a party job THEY live under the same
roof and she thinks that her father is "a softy" but that
has not stopped Rhonda Paisley, daughter of the firebrand
leader of Northern Ireland Unionism, from taking legal
action against him for alleged sexual discrimination.

Ms Paisley's brother, Ian Junior — who moved out of the
family home in East Belfast many years ago — is also in Ms
Paisley's line of fire.

So has war broken out in the House of Paisley? She accuses
her father, Ian, her brother and most of the leading lights
of the Democratic Unionists of discriminating against her
on the grounds of gender when she failed to secure a job
with the party as a policy officer last year.

Mr Paisley and son are among those named in the case being
brought by Ms Paisley over a failed job application. Her
case is being supported by the Equality Commission in
Northern Ireland.

Nobody from the family would comment but a party spokesman
said : "We are content with the person who did get the job.
It's all in the hands of our lawyers and we are not going
to be distracted by this from the bigger issues."

The job for which Ms Paisley applied was won by Philip
Weir, a doctor from Portadown, Co Armagh, who is also a
councillor on Craigavon Council. Ms Paisley, who has
previously worked for her father at the European Parliament
when he was an MEP, has lodged a case at the industrial
tribunal offices in Belfast.

A former member of the city's council, she lives at home
with her father and mother, Eileen, although she owns a
house which she uses mainly as a studio for her work as an

She told the Belfast Telegraph earlier this year — after
the discrimination case had been filed — that she continues
to live with her parents "because the three of us are a
good team" and added: "Dad's quite a softy really . . .
having said that, all the children have had their moments
with dad."

The case has been taken against Alan Ewart, the party's
chief executive, but also names Mr Paisley and most of the
DUP's senior membership, including Sammy Wilson, MP, with
whom Ms Paisley once had a romantic liaison.

Mr Wilson chose Ms Paisley as Lady Mayoress of Belfast
during his first term as the city's Lord Mayor in 1986. The
duo had led the barracking of Sinn Fein councillors at
stormy council sessions in the 1980s, with Ms Paisley
sounding a trumpet every time the republicans tried to

A portrait of her and Mr Wilson in their robes of office
now hangs in the City Hall. In 1986 their official
Christmas card was emblazoned with the phrase "Belfast Says
Noel" — a reference to the Ulster Says No campaign in
response to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.

In 1998 Ms Paisley was awarded more than £24,000 for
unlawful discrimination when she failed to secure a job
with the Arts Council.

The Fair Employment Tribunal in Belfast ruled that she was
discriminated against because of her religious beliefs and
political opinions. She had applied for the £21,000-a-year
post of arts co-operation officer in 1994, which was
appointed jointly by the arts councils in Northern Ireland
and the Irish Republic. A Catholic got the job.

Ms Paisley, an artist, author, former politician, teacher
and journalist, is regarded as something of a maverick
whose strong independent views have won her admirers and
critics in equal measure. She quit her father's church in
1989, saying it was too restrictive.

At one point in her time as a DUP councillor she found
herself in agreement with Sinn Fein over proposals to erect
a statue of prostitutes in Belfast city centre and when the
motion was voted out she said: "This is clearly male
chauvinism, the decision is pathetic."

She left local government in 1993, calling it an insult to
the people of Northern Ireland, and concentrated on her
artistic work.

She briefly worked for both the BBC and RTE, the Irish
Republic's state broadcaster, as a television interviewer.

While neither the Paisley family nor the DUP were making
any official comment about the pending case, there was a
feeling among some senior members that"more family
pressure" should have been brought to bear "to stop it
going this far".


"It wasn't just politics at the breakfast table. It was at
lunch, tea, dinner. It's very difficult when your father's
a public figure, because for pure devilment you want to do
the opposite" Rhonda Paisley

"I'm in Dad's party but I'm not interested in politics and
I will certainly not preach about Northern Ireland here
(Free Presbyterian Church in Lowestoft" Rev Kyle Paisley

" I have been verbally abused by people who don't know my
Dad but hate him for his politics. But others have shaken
my hand and told me how proud I should be" Ian Paisley Jnr


# The Rev Ian Paisley is the father of twin sons and three
daughters with his wife, Eileen, who is soon to be elevated
to the House of Lords

# Two of the daughters have avoided the limelight. They are
Sharon, 47, and Cherith, 39. Both have worked for their

# Ian Jnr and Kyle are twins born in 1966 who have taken
separate paths but remain close to their father's chief

# Kyle has been a minister in a branch of his father's Free
Presbyterian Church in Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft,
Suffolk, for the past 14 years. His father preaches there
once a year

# Ian Jnr is a member of Northern Ireland's suspended
legislative Assembly and considered to be his father's
replacement as MP for North Antrim when Mr Paisley retires

# Rhonda, 45, has dabbled in the arts, media and politics
but has largely slipped from public view since standing
down from politics in the 1990s


Opin: Attacking S.F. Carries Risks For Republic's Other Parties

By Paul Colgan

Sinn Fein, despite the remarks made by Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern at the weekend, is likely to remain a central
preoccupation for all the southern parties in the coming
months and years.

Ahern said Sunday he would not enter coalition government
with Sinn Fein as he believed that the party was an agent
of "poverty" and utterly unsuited to Fianna Fail.

"Even a radical overhaul of Sinn Fein economic policy would
have little real credibility after 35 years of Marxism,"
Ahern said.

"I believe Sinn Fein are agents of poverty and
disadvantage. I believe the very notion of Sinn Fein in
government would lead to a flight of investment, which is
untenable in a small, open economy.

"For the good of the country, we cannot accept those
policies in government. A practical republican programme
delivering real benefits for ordinary people would be
impossible with Sinn Fein in government. In such
circumstances, I would lead my party into opposition rather
than contemplate coalition with Sinn Fein or an arrangement
for their support in government."

The Fianna Fail leader made his comments in order to
achieve two aims. Firstly, he, not for the first time,
sought to quash speculation that his party might invite
Sinn Fein into government. Ahern fears that such talk may
push voters into the arms of Fine Gael.

Secondly, he calculated the timing of his statement to
coincide with Fine Gael's ard fheis. Ahern knew that by
giving his statement to the Sunday Independent newspaper it
was guaranteed to receive front-page billing.

While his harsh words certainly had the effect of stealing
Fine Gael's thunder, they are unlikely to put an end to
talk of Sinn Fein in government.

The Fine Gael leader responded by saying it was hard to
believe Ahern considering Fianna Fail had struck private
deals with Sinn Fein on matters such as the release of
Garda Jerry McCabe's killers and speaking rights for
Northern MPs in the Dail.

The Progressive Democrats are also intent on making clear
their opposition to Sinn Fein. Quoted on Sunday, PD leader
Mary Harney described the party's policies as "daft".

"Their economic policies are daft, they are anti-European,"
said Harney. "Their links with criminality, well, the jury
is still out as far as I am concerned.

"I think that they are a threat to democracy in their
current form. Others will have to answer about who they are
a threat to, but I don?t see them drawing support from the
PDs or vice versa."

Instead of resolving the issue of Sinn Fein in government,
Ahern's salvo merely marks a ratcheting up of anti-Sinn
Fein comment. As the election nears, all the southern
parties will bid to out-do each other in declaring
themselves opposed to the party.

However, each of them are faced with a problem. By
criticizing Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams, who until quite
recently was the most popular party leader in the country,
they run the risk of coming across as "anti-republican" in
the very broadest sense.

This story appeared in the issue of November 16 - 22, 2005


SF Would Raise Taxes If Necessary, Says Adams

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Sinn Féin would raise taxes if extra revenue was needed
to deliver fair social welfare and a better health service
for all, the party made clear yesterday.

However, party leader Gerry Adams and the party's Dáil
leader, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, both insisted Sinn Féin would
not reach final decisions about tax increases until it
enters power and examines the State's books.

Saying Sinn Féin would not "nationalise the banks" or
"destabilise the economy", Mr Adams emphasised that his
party would first attempt better value for taxpayers.

Ridiculing Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's declaration ruling out
Sinn Féin as a coalition partner, Mr Adams said there had
been "a brouhaha" about Sinn Féin's future.

The focus on Sinn Féin showed that the other Dáil parties
believe "that Sinn Féin will have the mandate to be in
government and that Sinn Féin will have the numbers.

"If it comes to it that a taoiseach-in-waiting needs to
cosy up to Sinn Féin in a Dáil chamber, or in a corridor
then do you want to put a bet on it that we won't be
getting phone calls?" Mr Adams asked political
correspondents during a briefing in Dublin.

He sharply rejected charges that Sinn Féin's
representatives in the Republic do not have enough
experience to run multi-billion euro government
departments: "We couldn't do any worse," he told The Irish

Sinn Féin would try to stand in all 43 constituencies in
the next general election: "Whatever comes out of the
election we will be seeking to negotiate a programme for
government which would have two elements to it.

"One would deal with the here and now, equality. The
utilisation of the wealth that is here to build equitable
public services.

"The other main plank would be about the peace process, the
delivery of the GFA [ Good Friday agreement], a strategy
for Irish unity.

"We will be interested in going into coalition if we get
agreement on such a programme. The decision would be taken
by a special ardfheis," he said.

Declaring his belief that taxes in the State are too low,
he said: "This is a time of great wealth. We have the
largest surplus in the history of the Exchequer.

"We would need to spend twice as much on social protection
to get up to the same levels as other EU states. We are
well behind.

"We have the largest gap between rich and poor of any
industrialised country except the USA," Mr Adams said.

"There has been a lot of ill-informed commentary that Sinn
Féin would nationalise the banks. Sinn Féin would not
nationalise the banks. We do believe that there is merit in
having a State bank," he said.

A still uncompleted review under way of the party's
economics policies, led by Mitchel McLaughlin and former
general secretary Robbie Smyth, favours increasing
corporation tax to 17.5 per cent, creating a "super-tax" of
50 per cent for those earning over €100,000 a year, and
still undecided increases in capital gains taxes.

Mr Ó Caoláin said: "We need to be very clear. Sinn Féin
wants to be in government. We are not mealy-mouthed about

However, he acknowledged: "We opposed the decreases that
McCreevy presided over, but we are not saying to corporate
Ireland and we are not saying to the Irish electorate that
we are going into government with the clear intent of
increasing corporation tax. We are not about destabilising
the economy.

"We are not about disadvantaging any section of the Irish
economy, but, in the pursuit of equality in all of the
areas that I have explained, we are prepared, and we have
indicated this very clearly, to examine those areas of
taxation that can address that need. But we will have to
quantify that need. We are not making a second guess, we
are running ballpark figures. We need to have informed
information, we need to have access to the Department of
Finance, something that is not open to us," Mr Ó Caoláin

© The Irish Times


£20m Paid To Omagh Bomb Victims

Victims of the Omagh bomb atrocity have received more than
£20m in compensation, it has been revealed.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said the Compensation
Agency has fully resolved 826 of 852 criminal injury

The figures were contained in a written reply to a question
from the East Belfast MP, Peter Robinson.

Twenty-nine people including a woman pregnant with unborn
twins died in the 1998 Real IRA car bomb attack.

Of the 220 criminal damage claims, 214 have been resolved
with approximately £7.5m paid in compensation, Mr Hain

Earlier this year, County Armagh man Sean Hoey was the
first person charged with murder in relation to the

Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2005/11/16 22:00:48 GMT


Opin: Bertie Rules Out Coalition With SF - And You'd Better Believe Him

By Noel Whelan

IF THERE was ever any doubt that Bertie Ahern is the
shrewdest political analyst and strategist in the country,
then he proved it again last weekend.

It was always inevitable that there would come a point at
which he would have to rule out unequivocally the
possibility of going into government with Sinn Féin after
the next election. The only surprise is that he has done it
so early in the electoral cycle.

Bertie Ahern will know by instinct (and he may also have
access to supporting market research) that there is a large
chunk of the electorate who are very anti-Sinn Féin and who
particularly have a strong antipathy to Sinn Féin being in

This sector of the electorate overlaps with the 'Moby Dick
vote', which Eoghan Harris identified 15 years ago as a
large concentration of educated, modern, middle-class
voters who had determinedly moved around the ocean of Irish
politics showering its favour firstly on Dessie O'Malley,
then on Mary Robinson and later Dick Spring and, in more
recent elections, on Bertie Ahern (albeit cautiously).

Since there is now near consensus among the main political
parties on issues like taxation, and since most of the
social agenda which also mobilised the Moby Dick vote in
the late 1980s and 1990s has been resolved, there are only
a few genuine 'wedge issues' with these floating voters,
but their dislike of Sinn Féin is one of them.

Sinn Féin's vote has been growing steadily since the last
Dáil election but at the same time the opposition to them
among a different sector of the electorate has been

This latter category always makes sure when voting either
to put no mark opposite Sinn Féin or to give it the lowest
possible preference on the ballot paper.

In the next election they are also even likely to decide
who to give their first preference to on the basis of which
of the parties they feel is less likely to pander to, or go
into government with, Sinn Féin.

Fine Gael is naturally targeting that floating vote as part
of its recovery strategy, so it has a vested interest in
talking up the prospect of Sinn Féin being in government
with Fianna Fáil, as Enda Kenny did last weekend. The
Progressive Democrats, who want to remain Fianna Fáil's
partner in government, and who are competing with Fine Gael
for the same vote, also have a vested interest in talking
up the risk of a Fianna Fáil-Sinn Féin government.

For the related, but opposite, reason it is in Bertie
Ahern's interest to rule out the prospect of a Fianna Fáil-
Sinn Féin alliance, even though the prospects of the
numbers enabling such a government are in fact unlikely.

By ruling it out now the Taoiseach has again delighted and
impressed his backbenchers and his grassroots.

Their delight is enhanced by the fact that, by doing so
last weekend, the Taoiseach spoiled some of the impact of
Fine Gael's informal conference. It goes without saying
that many people will not take Bertie Ahern's commitment on
this at face value, but on this point he is to be believed.
In fact, the main reason the prospect of a Fianna Fáil-Sinn
Féin government can be ruled out is because there is, in
fact, no prospect of Bertie Ahern being forced into a
choice between government with Sinn Féin and opposition.

As of now it is possible to envisage at least three other
options which would put Bertie Ahern back as Taoiseach
without Sinn Féin. He could still have the FF/PD option
after the next election. As long as the combined losses
suffered by the two outgoing government parties is less
than six seats they will be able to go back into power.

If their combined losses are more than six, but less than
10, the FF/PD option could have enough 'gene pool' or other
independents sufficiently well disposed to Bertie Ahern to
give them a working government majority.

However, even if the option of a return to power with Mary
Harney doesn't present itself after the next election,
Bertie Ahern will almost certainly have available to him
the prospect of forming a government with the Labour party.

Fianna Fáil and Labour would have to lose a net figure of
more than 20 seats to rule out the option of a Fianna
Fáil/Labour government in the next Dáil, and that's not
allowing for any independents on whom they might be able to

Of course it is always possible that on a bad day Fianna
Fáil could lose 20 or so seats (and it would have to be a
very bad day), but Labour would simultaneously have to
experience a bout of bad luck by not picking up any of
these Fianna Fáil losses.

THERE is of course a prospect that both Fine Gael and
Labour could make a lot of seat gains and that a Rainbow
coalition could take power with some other combination of
smaller parties or independents.

This would relieve Bertie of having to choose between Sinn
Féin and opposition - he would simply be forced into

If the Rainbow doesn't have the numbers when the new Dáil
first meets, Labour can comply with its obligation under
the pre-election pact by supporting Enda Kenny in the first
vote for Taoiseach, which he would lose. Then the Dáil will
adjourn for a few days, or perhaps weeks, to allow the
parties to explore their options.

Some argue that Labour would never go into government with
Bertie Ahern and point out that Pat Rabbitte has
specifically ruled it out and, in fact, was elected Labour
leader on that premise. However, all that would change in a
new Dáil situation in which there was initially no clear
winner between the two alternative government options put
before the electorate.

In the changed post-election scenario, Pat Rabbitte
(assuming he is re-elected, which is not a forgone
conclusion in the highly competitive Dublin South-West
constituency) could do a U-turn - "in the national
interest, you understand" - and go into government with
Bertie Ahern.

If Pat Rabbitte is not prepared to do so, then he is likely
to step aside or, if necessary, would be deposed in order
to make way for someone like Brendan Howlin, Ruairi Quinn
or Willie Penrose - any of whom could comfortably put a
coalition deal together.

If Dick Spring could do it with Albert Reynolds, then Pat
Rabbitte or his successor could do it easily with Bertie
Ahern. There would be no real difficulty in Fianna Fáil and
Labour coming up with a joint programme for government and
a lot less difficulty than Fianna Fáil putting one together
with Sinn Féin.

Of course, Bertie Ahern's first choice for the next
government would be an overall Fianna Fáil majority, but
even he doesn't see that as likely. His second preference
would be a return of the current government of FF and the

If they don't have the numbers, then he can rely on some
independents. Even if those configurations were not
available, Bertie would still have the FF/Labour option. As
long as that option exists, he won't even be put to the
test of making the choice between going into opposition or
going in with Sinn Féin.


A Rainbow Shamrock Is Patronising Lunacy

Lindy McDowell 16 November 2005

You can tell when Christmas is coming in Northern Ireland -
the talk is about how we're going to celebrate St Patrick's

This is Belfast's annual challenge. To come up with some
sort of event that, come March 17, everyone will want to
join in. And here's the easy bit. People do want to join

All local branches of the Christian faith, quite rightly,
see no one Church as having particular claim on Patrick
since he predated the Catholic/Protestant thing.

And people from other faiths and none are ready and willing
to celebrate their concept of Irishness. Then there are
those who just welcome any opportunity to celebrate. Not to
mention tourists who may be in town on the date in

So, all in all then, the problem is not a shortage of
potential participants. It's a question of what they're
being asked to participate in.

Part of the problem in the past has been how to prise St
Patrick from the grasp of those who claim him as a sort of
original Shinner.

In this depiction he's green, white and Provie - a guy who
spread the message with a shamrock in one hand and an
Armalite in the other.

But St Patrick, of course, predated all our sectarian
nonsense. The great thing about him is that he's
everybody's, precisely because he's nobody's. He didn't
wave a Tricolour or a Union Flag and he didn't attend Old
Firm fixtures. So in terms of organising an inclusive
celebration of the saint's day, as Belfast City Council is
now attempting, the decision to exclude national flags and
football shirts makes sense.

But you can take this sensitivity thing too far. A rainbow-
coloured shamrock, another notion the Council is toying
with as it strives to eradicate anything that may be deemed
offensive, is patronising lunacy.

Unionists can accept the fact that vegetation is green
without seeing this as evidence of republican conspiracy.
In fact, not only can unionists cope with green shamrocks -
most can even cope with the colour green.

The problem arises when green is flaunted in people's faces
as an emblem of what's glibly referred to as "physical
force republicanism."

St Patrick wasn't some prototype Provie. He didn't do the
Northern Bank. He didn't wear a balaclava. So it would be
safe to say that if he had any say in how his big day was
celebrated, he'd want a cross-community guest list. Without
psychedelic shamrocks.

But why should we feel this celebration has to involve a
parade? Parades cause problems. When it gets to the stage
where you're considering compulsary council face wipes (as
they are) to remove painted on sectarianism, you know
you've got a real problem.

But I have another problem entirely with St Pat's Day
parades. It stems from the fact that the franchise has been
monopolised by the Americans. So it's all about
cheerleaders, floats and 'top o'the mornin" Oirishness.

This is automatically replicated back here as if there is
some constitutional obligation to celebrate our patron
saint with naffery and pom-poms.

Thus we're inflicted with the usual carnival cast who
routinely turn on key occasions to represent the immense
cultural achievement and diversity of our people - unicycle
riders, face painters, floats and fire eaters...

St Patrick is said to have driven the snakes from Ireland.
Pity he didn't spare the reptiles and rid us of

St Patrick and our tourist industry deserve better than
this. We all deserve better than this faux
Oirish/Americanised tosh.

So let's scrap the parade. It's Northern Ireland. It's a
March day. On meteorlogical grounds alone, we'd be wiser
celebrating indoors.

We're never going to trump the Americans on this one. We
can't do bigger. But we could do longer.

What funding there is could be spread around any number of
events which showcase the real wealth of our diverse local

The hospitality industry which already makes a considerable
effort to pull in the punters on the night, could be
encouraged to expand this a bit.

In fact, a lot of the components are already in place -
what we really need is the co-ordination that will produce
a proper week-long St Patrick's Festival that will attract
visitors not only to come here in the first place, but to
stay for a few days.

Meanwhile, those of us who live here, whatever our
allegiances, will surely find something to join in, to
celebrate the saint who unites us all.

Who knows - maybe even something that everyone can join in?


UK To Extradite British Terror Suspect To US


ISN SECURITY WATCH (16/11/05) – London has approved the
extradition of a British citizen, Babar Ahmad, to the US to
face terrorism charges, prompting criticism from human
rights campaigners and outrage among the British Muslim

Lawyers representing Ahmad, a computer expert from south
London, say he may face the death penalty if transferred to
the US, despite having previously been interrogated and
released without charge by British authorities.

The 31-year-old Briton is accused of running websites
inciting terrorism and urging Muslims to join a holy war.

US authorities claim that since 1997 he has been involved
in "conspiring to support terrorism", and "sought, invited
and solicited contributions" via websites and e-mails.

The British Home Office said it had "given full
consideration" to representations made on behalf of Ahmad,
but on Wednesday announced it had decided there was no case
to deny the extradition request.

Ahmad's family said they would appeal the order in the High

The controversy surrounding the high-profile case centers
on two issues: that Ahmad was previously arrested by
British authorities and released without charge, and that
under a new law, the US is not required to provide detailed
evidence of the case against him.

Ahmad was first arrested in December 2003 under Britain's
Terrorism Act, but released without charge after six days.
In July 2004, he was indicted by the US and rearrested
pending extradition under the Extradition Treaty 2003.

The controversial treaty, which came into force in January
2004, allows a country to request extradition without
providing detailed evidence and with only a simple summary
of the allegations against the suspect.

Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat shadow foreign
secretary and an international lawyer, said the extradition
exposed the faults in the treaty, which the US had yet to

"This man's extradition is based on a one-sided US-UK
treaty, which the US Senate has so far refused to ratify,"
he told ISN Security Watch.

"It is concerning that British citizens have less
constitutional protection than their American counterparts,
perhaps a measure of the extent to which our policy appears
subordinate to the US."

Liberty, a prominent human rights and legal organization,
said it was currently involved in a similar case involving
the so-called "Enron Three", a trio of bankers appealing
against extradition to the US on charges of fraud.

Like Ahmad, the three are British citizens, and are facing
no charges in Britain despite having allegedly committed
the offenses on British soil and against a British bank.

Jen Corlew of Liberty told ISN Security Watch that the
central point of appeal in both cases was against the
assumption that a British citizen should be sent to the US
to face charges, when no such case had been made against
them in Britain.

If there was a case to answer there was no reason why they
should not stand trial in Britain, she said.

Lawyers were also questioning why, under the Extradition
Treaty, the US had been granted honorary status as a
category-one extradition partner when, as a non-EU country,
it should be classed as category two.

Both the appeals would act as test cases for the treaty,
she added.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council
of Britain, said this was "a very sad day for all who value
fairness and justice".

"It is unacceptable that under the Extradition Treaty 2003
there is no longer any need for the US government to prove
to a UK court or even to the home secretary that there is a
prima facie case against British citizens.

"We are very disappointed that the home secretary has
agreed to this extradition request and we call on him to
renegotiate the Extradition Treaty 2003 so that it better
protects our citizens – whether Muslims or non-Muslims -
from this type of manifest injustice.

"If our government has any evidence of wrongdoing on the
part of Babar Ahmad then he should be charged in this
country and put on trial here," he said.

Sacranie also expressed his fear that the case would
further alienate and radicalize Muslim youth in Britain.

Responding to the extradition order on his website, Ahmad,
who is currently being held in Woodhill Prison, Milton
Keynes, wrote: "This decision should only come as a
surprise to those who thought that there was still justice
for Muslims in Britain."

(By Hannah Strange in London)


Taoiseach Defends Compulsory Irish

Marie O'Halloran

Ending compulsory Irish in schools could worsen the state
of the Irish language, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dáil
as Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it was time to stop
clinging to a "75-year-old sacred cow that will not

Mr Kenny said it was time politically to take the language
"by the scruff of the neck" and reform it completely.

He believed that the Oireachtas "should do for the language
what Riverdance has done for Irish dancing", without
compulsory Irish.

Mr Ahern said "the argument is that if any level of
compulsion is removed, students not in Gaelscoileanna might
balk at taking any interest in the language".

It could mean that, "the limited amount of Irish the
majority of the population has, is reduced even further".
He agreed, however, that "complicated grammar in schools
does much to put people off the language. If there was more
emphasis on spoken language, then we would certainly be
better off, and I would certainly be better at the
language," the Taoiseach added.

Deputy Kenny, who at his party's conference at the weekend
suggested compulsory Irish be dropped after junior
certificate, said that "few subjects over the generations
have been the target of so much hypocrisy and lip service
as the Irish language".

Compulsory Irish was introduced in 1934 and in 1973 it was
removed "so that students might pass the Leaving
Certificate, which was very important. While it is still
compulsory for students to study Irish language classes for
the Leaving Certificate, it is not compulsory to sit the

Deputy Kenny said €500 million is being spent annually on
teaching Irish, and throughout their school life students
get a total of 1,500 hours of tuition in the language, but
in most cases "as soon as students finish the Leaving
Certificate, they leave Irish behind them".

Fewer students take honours Irish at Leaving Cert than any
other language, he said. "In the last census only 70,000
people said they used it on a daily basis.

Deputy Kenny asked if the Taoiseach believed that the
compulsion element "does anything to encourage students who
sit in classes from Junior Certificate to Leaving
Certificate, to become involved with their native tongue".

Mr Ahern said that when compulsory Irish was dropped in
1973 it did not have the intended result that more people
would speak it.

Statistics indicated that "when compulsory Irish was
removed from the equation, fewer people took the subject
and that trend has continued down through the years". He
added that "my concern is that if Irish is taken out of the
schools the situation will worsen considerably, say, in 10
years' time".

Successive governments had resourced Irish through keeping
a separate Department of Irish, training more teachers and
more resources into teacher-training. "We have a language
Bill, Bille na Gaeilge, put money into TG4 and more
recently we have made resources available for the
Gaelscoileanna, the scoileanna lan-Ghaelach, which are
promoting the language." Deputy Kenny said "it is not just
a question of clinging to a 75-year-old sacred cow that
will not deliver. This is about looking at 2005 and beyond
to the next generation of students, who should be involved
in a language that is taught in a vibrant and energetic
way," and "not tied down in the details of complicated

But Mr Ahern said many people dropped other subjects
because they were not compulsory. "Many policies have
changed, but the policy of promoting the Irish language to
maximise those who speak it has not changed."

© The Irish Times

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