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November 23, 2005

Mixed Reactions for Local Govt Changes

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News about Ireland and the Irish

BB 11/22/05
Sweet And Sour Reception For Ministers
BB 11/23/05 Sinn Fein Suspends Veteran Member
BB 11/23/05 SF Member Critical Of Suspension
BT 11/22/05 PSNI's District Commands May Be Cut By 75%
BT 11/22/05 Edu: Single Body Will Replace The Existing Five
BT 11/22/05 Health: Boards & Trusts To Be Slimmed To Seven
BT 11/22/05 Council Workers Fear For Their Jobs
UT 11/23/05 'No Justice Role For Paramilitaries'
BB 11/23/05 Fugitives Plan 'Will Cause Pain'
IO 11/23/05 Hain Defends New Law On NI Fugitives
SF 11/23/05 Adams Opposes Amnesty For British Crown Forces
IO 11/23/05 Adams Accused Of Double Standards
BB 11/23/05 Have Your Say: Should Fugitives Return?
SF 11/23/05 Ferris Says Report Vindicates Rossport Five
IO 11/23/05 Suspected IRA Member On Bail Pending Challenge
IO 11/22/05 Dublin/Monaghan Bombings Inquiry Finish In Jan
IO 11/22/05 Teenagers 'Killed In Row Over UVF Chief'
NH 11/22/05 Opin: Disbandment A Logical Step
DI 11/22/05 SDLP And Sinn Féin In Policing War Of Words
RT 11/23/05 Dáil Pays Tribute To Liam Lawlor
IO 11/23/05 Lisburn Overturns Ban On Same-Sex Ceremonies
UT 11/23/05 Best Back On The Ventilator


Sweet And Sour Reception For Ministers

By Mark Devenport

BBC Northern Ireland political editor

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain got a reasonably
polite reception when he announced the government's
response to the Review of Public Administration at a
Belfast hotel.

But a few hours later, his local government minister Lord
Rooker got a rougher ride when setting out the details of
the shake-up which will see the current 26 councils reduced
to just seven.

Ulster Unionist councillor Arnold Hatch, who chaired the
Northern Ireland Local Government Association's group
concentrating on the RPA, angrily accused the minister of
ignoring most parties' views on the issue.

Only Sinn Fein supported the proposed seven council
structure, while NILGA and the rest of the parties opted
for 15.

Mr Hatch dismissed the extra powers being offered to the
new super councils as insignificant.

Lord Rooker - in fairly pugnacious form - replied that the
council budgets would be doubled, so the changes could not
be written off.

Another NILGA representative complained about the reduction
in councillors from the current 582 to a maximum of 350,
only for Lord Rooker to insist he was operating to a
people's agenda - not a councillors' agenda.

The government says local politicians should now get used
to the idea that the seven council structure is going to be

But some parties are still talking about trying to overturn
it once devolution returns to Stormont.

26 councils reduced to seven super councils
Maximum of 50 councillors per council
Planning responsibility returns to councils
Assembly members not allowed to sit on councils
Councils to devise community plan for delivery of local

However, presumably this would require a cross-community
vote in any future assembly, and with Sinn Fein wedded to
seven councils, this may prove difficult to achieve.

Sinn Fein say they opted for the seven council model
because of its efficiency and because it guarantees that
minorities will be big enough to hold their own in each
council area.

But conspiracy theorists believe they liked the notion of
emerging on the winning side over the unionists and the

On the margins of Peter Hain's speech, an interesting drama
played itself out as former Belfast mayor Alex Maskey gave
Sinn Fein's party line, while the Dungannon councillor and
NILGA stalwart Francie Molloy rejected seven councils as a
sectarian headcount.

It is not often that Sinn Fein washes its dirty linen in
public in this way. Shortly afterwards the BBC learned that
Mr Molloy, a veteran republican, had been suspended from
the party.

It will be interesting to see how his Sinn Fein colleagues
in rural areas react.

The government will now push ahead with its plans for
implementing the change.

It is promising legislation to end the dual mandate by
which 69 of the current 108 MLAs are also councillors.

However, this law will not be introduced until devolution
is restored, so it could be some way off.

The legislation will probably also have to cover the
question of safeguards to ensure that minority rights are

Exactly what those might be will be a matter for discussion
with the parties.

However, interestingly the Review of Public Administration
has published research which implicitly criticises the
mechanisms which were introduced at the Stormont assembly.

It rejects councillors designating as unionists or
nationalists saying that "does not adequately reflect the
increasing diversity of modern societies and cuts across a
councillor's primary duty to serve the whole community".

The research suggests that votes should be taken on the
basis of a heavily weighted majority of 75 to 80%.

The paper is being billed as merely a basis for discussion,
but these findings clearly raise the question of whether
what is good enough for the new councils should be good
enough for Stormont.

If that is not enough to keep the politicians busy, there
is also the issue of how many Stormont departments should
remain for them to ponder.

The fact that the new councils will get extra functions
means some departments will lose some of their current

So the continuation of the current 10 devolved departments
looks unlikely.

A final thought - if most parties are jumping up and down,
unhappy about the radical nature of this review, could that
be what ministers want?

With the government still desperate to restore devolution,
whoever said direct rule was going to comfortable?

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/22 17:16:53 GMT


Sinn Fein Suspends Veteran Member

Sinn Fein councillor Francie Molloy has been suspended from
the party pending a disciplinary hearing.

It is understood the action was taken on Tuesday after Mr
Molloy went on BBC radio to speak out against party policy
on the Review of Public Administration.

He went against Sinn Fein policy over the reduction of the
number of district councils as part of the review.

The party's general secretary, Mitchell McLaughlin, said he
was the person who told Mr Molloy he was being suspended.

On Wednesday, Mr McLaughlin said that as party secretary it
was his job to inform members when disciplinary procedures
were being taken against them.

"I did actually have to deliver the message, I have
responsibilities as general secretary to apply the party
procedures," he said.

Sinn Fein favours seven councils, but Mr Molloy, a veteran
republican, said 15 would be better.

He earlier said his position was rooted in the civil rights
campaign and that reducing the number of councils to seven
would be "a sectarian headcount".

District councils will be cut from 26 to seven - Belfast
and six others.

Mr Molloy is a councillor on Dungannon District Council
which is set to be scrapped.

He is also a Sinn Fein assembly member for Mid Ulster.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/23 11:29:09 GMT


SF Member Critical Of Suspension

Sinn Fein members should be allowed to express their own
opinion, a suspended party member has said.

Francie Molloy was suspended from the party pending a
disciplinary hearing after going against party policy on
the Review of Public Administration.

Speaking on BBC radio on Tuesday, he spoke against SF
policy by opposing the move to reduce the number of
district councils to seven.

"There has to be room in all parties for a dissenting
voice," he said.

"I think we need discussion. As Gerry Adams said a short
time ago at a dinner in Dublin, he doesn't need sheep and
he expects people to have different views."

The party's general secretary, Mitchel McLaughlin, said he
was the person who told Mr Molloy he was being suspended.

On Wednesday, Mr McLaughlin said that as party secretary it
was his job to inform members when disciplinary procedures
were being taken against them.

"I did actually have to deliver the message, I have
responsibilities as general secretary to apply the party
procedures," he said.

Sinn Fein favours seven councils, but Mr Molloy, a veteran
republican, said 15 would be better.

He earlier said his position was rooted in the civil rights
campaign and that reducing the number of councils to seven
would be "a sectarian headcount".

District councils will be cut from 26 to seven - Belfast
and six others.

Mr Molloy is a councillor on Dungannon District Council
which is set to be scrapped.

He is also a Sinn Fein assembly member for Mid Ulster.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/23 13:46:12 GMT


PSNI's 29 District Commands May Be Cut By 75 Per Cent

By Jonathan McCambridge
22 November 2005

It was the Patten Report which established the principle
that Northern Ireland should have the same number of
policing areas as district councils.

The same controversial report in 1999 also recommended that
if the number of councils was reduced in any future
overhaul, then the policing district command units should
be brought into line. No-one should be surprised if that is
exactly what happens.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde has long been itching to reduce
the current ungainly number of 29 District Command Units -
each with their own district commander. When the new
smaller number of super-councils is unveiled today it will
most likely also represent a more manageable model for
policing command units in the province.

A police spokesman said: "The PSNI will examine the review
of public administration's findings and is committed to
following its recommendations when reviewing its own DCU

The Chief Constable believes that fewer DCUs means less
bureaucracy and more officers on the streets fighting crime
and the idea has been under review for more than a year.

His vision of amalgamating policing areas has already
received the support of the Policing Board.

In England and Wales - where a review of the number of
police forces is under way - a small basic command unit for
a police force would contain around 70,000 people. In
Moyle, Northern Ireland's smallest DCU, the population is
just 15,000.

Furthermore each DCU in Northern Ireland must have its own
personnel officer, accountant and a series of other
specialist roles. For the smaller DCUs this leads to less
and less efficiency. Even Patten recognised that matching
DCUs with smaller council areas "did not make perfect sense
in terms of resource management".

While the new council model is not expected to come into
place until 2009, it is anticipated that the PSNI could
well push ahead with its own plans for the reorganisation
of local policing areas before that.

Another legacy of Patten which will be massively affected
by the review of public administration is Northern
Ireland's District Policing Partnerships.

The local models of public police accountability have been
dogged by difficulties since their inception - including
continual low attendances at public meetings and dissident
republican threats against nationalist members.

Despite this, senior police believe that DPPs represent an
invaluable and unique link with the public.

When the new number of councils for Northern Ireland is
unveiled, then the number of DPPs will automatically be
reduced to fit - a requirement of Patten.


Education: Single Body Will Replace The Existing 5 boards

By Kathryn Torney
22 November 2005

Northern Ireland's five education boards are expected to
hear later today that they are to be merged into one.

The major changes proposed by the Review of Public
Administration include the setting up of an Education
Support Body, which would replace the education boards and
would also act as a single employing authority for all

A Curriculum and Teacher Support Body was also proposed to
bring together the professional support functions of exams
body CCEA, CASS, C2K and the Regional Training Unit.

It has been suggested that the proposed rationalisation of
education would result in £80m savings per year.

Job losses are most likely to hit the upper-tier of
management at the education and library boards but staff
throughout the boards will no doubt be anxious about their

It is likely that the structure will retain at least some
regional emphasis, which would allow some education board
staff to remain at their current location and continue to
provide services to schools in their area.

Maggie Flynn is accounts officer at the North Eastern
Education and Library Board and also a national
representative for the trade union Unison. She has worked
at the board for almost 21 years.

She said: "Everyone recognises that there is a need for
restructuring but we are wary at the moment because we do
not know what the impact is going to be. It is just that
great unknown.

"Some staff who have young children are saying that if they
have to move it will not be a possibility for them. People
are feeling very vulnerable.

"There is still going to be the same number of schools so
there will be a similar amount of work to do on the ground.

There will have to be some kind of regional aspect to the

"People in the board have built up relationships with our
area and our schools and we would totally lose that local
knowledge and expertise if there was just one board based
in Belfast and nothing in the regions.

"However, we do expect there to be some regional aspect to
the new structure."

Mrs Flynn added: "We have been told that every reasonable
effort will be made to avoid compulsory redundancies.

"We also hope that the money saved from restructuring in
education stays in education. It would be very frustrating
if it went elsewhere."


Health: Boards And Trusts To Be Slimmed Down To Seven

By Deborah McAleese
22 November 2005

Northern Ireland's four health boards and 18 trusts are
expected to be axed in favour of seven sub-regional health
agencies - one for each new council area.

The move, which will affect every person in the province,
is to be implemented under the new public administrative
proposals and is expected to help make savings within the
health service of up to £80m by scrapping the top-heavy
quangos and boards.

Only the Ambulance Trust - the Northern Ireland Ambulance
Brigade - will remain unchanged. But there were suggestions
last night that the trust will be directly funded by the
Department of Health, as opposed to its current arrangement
with each of the four health boards.

Initial plans had suggested there should be one health
agency for every two new council areas, but health sources
last night claimed that plan has now been scrapped.

It is believed that the watchdog health and social services
councils will also be axed and replaced by one regional
consumer body.

It is not yet known how many jobs will be threatened by the
new proposals, as many top positions within the NHS here
will likely be duplicated and there was uncertainty among
health workers and politicians about the implications of
the move.

However, Mr Woodward is expected to announce today that the
needs of patients must come first and by radically reducing
bureaucracy more money can be put into front-line services
and new drugs.


Council Workers Fear For Their Jobs

By Chris Thornton
22 November 2005

More than 10,000 council employees are today waiting for
word about the future of their jobs.

A crucial aspect of today's announcement will be the
welding together of Northern Ireland's 26 councils into a
smaller number of super councils - and how current council
workers will fit into the new arrangements.

Last night their union repeated its call for no enforced
redundancies - even though thousands of jobs could

With the number of councillors due to be slashed by as much
as 40%, there are expectations that the staff who serve
them will also face cuts.

The majority of council staff should be unaffected by the
changes, since most current council operations such as
leisure centres and parks will still be running, simply
under another council's name.

However, the changes will lead to some duplication in
council staff, especially in administrative areas.
Union bosses are expected to push for natural wastage,
especially since the changes are expected to have a long
lead-in time.

Last night the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance
called on Ministers to take account of the "rights and
interests" of public sector employees in making their

NIPSA general secretary John Corey said: "We can expect to
hear Ministers speak about streamlining public services and
about switching resources to the front line.

"However, the announcements tomorrow will directly affect
tens of thousands of public service staff and their
families who will be extremely concerned about their

"It is essential that their interests are fully and
properly taken into account in the RPA implementation.

"These men and women have delivered important public
services to the whole community in Northern Ireland for the
last three decades and more.

"They deserve to be treated fairly and to have their jobs,
terms and conditions of employment fully protected in
transferring to new employers under RPA."

NIPSA and other trade unions have called for guarantees
that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

The unions also want a commission to oversee the RPA

"The scale of the RPA change is unprecedented," Mr Corey

"We have made it clear to Ministers repeatedly that trade
unions stand ready to work jointly on the RPA change
process to secure quality public services for the people of
Northern Ireland.

"However, Ministers cannot reasonably expect to secure the
commitment and support of public service staff without
assurances that staff interests will be addressed fully in
negotiations with trade unions."


'No Justice Role For Paramilitaries'

Paramilitaries will have no role in the proposed new
Government-licensed Community Restorative Justice Schemes,
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain insisted today.

Mr Hain was responding to fears voiced at Northern Ireland
question time in the Commons that "paramilitary mafia"
would run the schemes.

David Liddington, for the Tories, said: "Some senior
members of Sinn Fein/IRA have said openly that their
intention is to establish so-called community restorative
justice schemes as an alternative to policing by the PSNI
(Police Service Northern Ireland).

"Have you see the comments by a spokesman for the Rape
Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre in Northern Ireland that
members of community justice schemes have threatened women
and attempted to cover up crimes committed by those with
IRA/Sinn Fein or CRJ connections?

"And she continued that `allowing such people power is like
letting the lunatics run the asylum`.

"Will you make it clear that the Government will provide
sufficient assurances in its forthcoming guidelines on
community restorative justice to ensure that nothing like
the appalling practices reported by the Rape Crisis and
Sexual Abuse centre can recur?"

Mr Hain replied: "Yes, I am happy to provide that
unequivocal assurance, and I am grateful that you have
raised this matter because there has been a great deal of
mischief and misinformation spread about community
restorative justice schemes."

The guidelines for the new schemes would be published on
December 5, he said.

"Let me make it emphatically clear that at the moment
whatever claims are made by Sinn Fein members or others,
these schemes are unregulated.

"They operate, including in Republican communities, and
they are unregulated. What we intend to do is bring them
under proper regulation if they wish to attract funds of a
public kind, though no provision has been made for that.

"I can unequivocally state that under our guidelines nobody
who has been currently involved in paramilitary activity or
organised crime would be allowed to work on these schemes.

"Appointments` principles would be overseen by an
independent body and there will be no way in which they
will have a policing role determining guilt or innocence,
no investigative role and will have to work with all the
statutory agencies including the police service."

Mr Liddington called for an independent statutory basis for
complaints against members of the community restorative
justice schemes.

"There is real fear in estates in Belfast and Derry and
elsewhere that if these schemes are licensed by the
Government it will amount to licensed control by
paramilitary mafia," he said.

Mr Hain insisted: "It is emphatically not the case that any
community restorative justice schemes we endorse will in
any way allow for control by paramilitary mafia or militia
or whatever else you choose to call them."

The proposals had come, some years ago, from the community
justice review and had been widely endorsed on a cross-
community basis.

Consultations would take place on the terms of the
guidelines, he added.

Earlier, Mr Hain said the security situation in Northern
Ireland had continued to see "dramatic improvement"
compared with the height of the troubles.

Henry Bellingham (C Norfolk NW) agreed that conventional
terrorism was now under control.

But he warned: "This has been replaced by a ruthless form
of racketeering being carried out by both loyalist and
republican paramilitaries.

"Do you not share my concern that parts of the Province are
descending into anarchy.

"Surely now is not the time to be disbanding the two
territorial battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment."

Mr Hain said discussions were going on about compensation
to be given to them and their families, and he hoped it
would be generous.

"It is true there is still too much criminality," Mr Hain

The Assets Recovery Agency and the Organised Crime
Taskforce and the police were cracking down on it.

The Rev William McCrea (DUP Antrim S) said that on a BBC
programme aired last night police had warned a friend of
the late Robert McCartney that there was a threat to his
life from the PIRA.

"How does this sit with the statements made by ministers
that they have turned their backs on terrorism, and how is
this organisation being rewarded in a later debate today?"
he said.

This was a reference to the proposed new law, being given
its second reading in the Commons today, dealing with
terrorists on the run.

Under the legislation, those wanted by police for offences
committed before the Good Friday Agreement was signed in
1998 will have their slate effectively wiped clean.

Mr Hain insisted: "I have received no evidence from the
police or any other quarter of a threat to Robert McCartney
witnesses or friends by the PIRA.

"I have however received reports of individual republicans
in his locality making threats. Those matters are being
dealt with by the police and indeed arrests have followed
and we will continue to crack down on it in this most
vigorous fashion."

Responding to other questions, Mr Hain stressed the
importance of the loyalist groups working with the de
Chastelain commission and there had been some "preliminary

"I understand there have been some preliminary contacts and
it`s important that they progress so that we can get to the
same end as was achieved with the PIRA."

Mr Hain later received support from SDLP leader Mark Durkan
for his controversial comments on the economy.

The Northern Ireland Secretary infuriated the Rev Ian
Paisley`s Democratic Unionists by warning in New York this
week that in future it would be necessary to look at the
economy on an all-Ireland basis.

Mr Durkan told the Commons today: "We have many examples of
politicians being asked to resign for being economical with
the truth.

"You are possibly the first example of a politician who has
been asked to resign for being truthful about the economy."

He said that promoting inward investment in Northern
Ireland would be best done in an all-Ireland context.

Mr Hain said: "When we are facing the global competition
from China and India, let alone immediately in Eastern
Europe, we need to look at every investment opportunity
including co-operation across the border to maximise the
opportunities for the whole island of Ireland and in the
course of that Northern Ireland will benefit, as you say."

But David Simpson (DUP Upper Bann) said he had been
"disappointed" by Mr Hain`s comments.

Mr Hain insisted the business community wanted a Secretary
of State who was honest.


Fugitives Plan 'Will Cause Pain'

Allowing paramilitary fugitives to return to NI will cause
a lot of pain and anguish which is going to have to be
dealt with, Tony Blair has said.

MPs are debating proposed legislation to allow fugitives to
return without having to serve prison sentences.

The prime minister was responding to a question from DUP MP
David Simpson.

He asked Mr Blair what the British people would think if
the killers of a female police officer in Bradford last
Friday were granted an amnesty.

It is thought the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats
will join unionists and the SDLP in opposing the bill in
the Commons.

The proposals cover up to 150 people wanted for crimes
committed before the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

"What would the British people, or members of his party,
think of the prime minister if he offered an amnesty to the
murderer of the police officer?" Mr Simpson said.

"Later on today we are going to debate it in the house in
regards to Northern Ireland and I would ask the prime
minister to give us a comment please."

In response, Mr Blair said he understood "the pain and
anguish" the legislation would cause.

"I am meeting with the RUC widows later on this afternoon
and I totally understand the pain and anguish there will
be," he said.

"I hope he understands that as a result of the Good Friday
Agreement those people convicted of terrorist offences
before 1998 have been released, it is now necessary to deal
with those who have not been convicted but nonetheless have
been suspected of such offences.


"That is the reason for the measures we are bringing
forward. I understand the pain and anguish that it causes,
but I hope that he understands this is something that has
to be dealt with."

Earlier on Wednesday, NI Secretary Peter Hain denied the
fugitives were getting an easy option.

"It's part of bringing closure to NI's past, just as after
the Agreement over 400 paramilitary prisoners were released
on licence," he said.

"If they breached the terms of these licences, as some did,
they were hauled back in and this could happen to these
people who are now outside the reach of the UK

"This will bring them to justice, although they will not
serve a prison sentence, but if they breach the terms of
their licence they will be hauled in and have to serve
their sentence.

The legislation will deal with people suspected of
terrorism who have not been brought to court and those who
have fled prison.

Sinn Fein has repeatedly pressed for them to be able to
return to Northern Ireland.

If the legislation is passed, paramilitary fugitives would
have their cases heard by a special tribunal, but, if found
guilty, would be freed on licence without having to go to

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/23 13:16:31 GMT


Hain Defends New Law On NI Fugitives

23/11/2005 - 08:47:15

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain today defended
controversial legislation dealing with terrorists on the

The British government argues that the new law, due to be
given its second reading in the Commons today, is needed to
give momentum to the stalled peace process.

Under the legislation, those wanted by police for offences
committed before the Good Friday Agreement was signed in
1998 will have their slate effectively wiped clean.

The Government faces significant opposition to the proposal
within the Commons from Northern Ireland and opposition

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Hain
acknowledged that the legislation raises some very
difficult issues – but insisted that it is a necessary part
of the peace process.

Mr Hain told the programme: "It is not an amnesty. It is a
proper judicial process which people will go through, and
then emerge, if convicted, on licence."

He conceded that such people would not have to serve any
time in prison.

"That is true, but it is part of bringing closure to the
awful dark period of Northern Ireland's past.

"It is just as after the Good Friday Agreement over 400
paramilitary prisoners were released on licence.

"If they breach the terms of those licences, as some did,
they were hauled back in, and this could happen to these
people, who are now outside the reach of UK jurisdiction,
running free, and not able to be caught or brought to

"This will bring them to justice although they will not
serve a prison sentence, but if they breach the terms of
their licence, they will be hauled in and begin to serve
that sentence."


Adams Opposes Amnesty For British Crown Forces

Published: 23 November, 2005

Speaking in Westminster today, the Sinn Féin President,
Gerry Adams, expressed outright opposition to any amnesty
for British state forces involved in collusion and other
state killings.

Gerry Adams said, "After the release of prisoners under the
terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein raised the
issue of the small number of people, known as On-the-Runs,
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 are
aware of are Irish republicans and number less than two
dozen and 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. For this reason we did not argue for an

" On the contrary, we opposed this approach and we sought
to ensure the scheme would not hinder the search for the
truth or provide immunity for members of British state
forces who carried out or were responsible for state
killings and collusion. The scheme that we negotiated was
published by the two governments at Weston Park in 2003 and
related only to OTRs. It did not include members of British
state forces.

"Indeed, one of the key factors in Sinn Féin rejecting the
position produced by the two governments at Weston Park was
the British government's refusal to agree to an independent
judicial inquiry as called for by the family of Pat
Finucane. "

"Sinn Fein's position is absolutely clear, we are opposed
to the inclusion of British state forces in the current
legislation. In our view it represents the latest attempt
by the British state to conceal the truth about its
involvement in the killing of citizens.

"Sinn Fein will continue to confront the British government
on the denial of truth about collusion.

"Our party activists, including elected representatives,
were a primary target in this policy of state murder. Only
last week, I was again told that my details, compiled by
British intelligence agencies, had been passed to loyalist
death squads. This is an urgent and immediate issue for
Sinn Fein and we will continue to support the victims of
collusion and state violence. The British persist in
denying their policy of collusion. They must acknowledge
the truth and those who directed this policy, including
senior British political figures, must be held to account."

Editors Note: Mr Adams will this morning meet with the
London Mayor Ken Livingstone in City Hall London at 10.45am
and is available to speak to the media.


Adams Accused Of Double Standards

23/11/2005 - 10:33:33

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was accused of hypocrisy
today after demanding no amnesty for police officers and
soldiers involved in terrorist killings.

As the UK's House of Commons prepared to debate plans to
allow paramilitary fugitives back to Northern Ireland
without facing jail sentences, the West Belfast MP insisted
any scheme should not include British state forces
suspected of collusion.

But his assessment outraged Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey

He said: "It's absolutely incredible how Sinn Féin can
apply double standards to the issue of justice.

"On the one hand they are demanding British soldiers and
former RUC officers have to be put in the dock and charged
with all kinds of spurious allegations, whereas some of the
most notorious terrorist killers responsible for multiple
murders are to walk free without serving a day in prison."

Even though Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has
denied claims that so-called "on the runs" (OTRs) were
escaping justice, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats
are expected to join unionists and the SDLP in opposing the
proposed legislation.

Around 150 people wanted for crimes committed before the
April 1998 Good Friday Agreement are covered by the plan,
which British Prime Minister Tony Blair believes is needed
to develop the peace process.

But Mr Adams, who has campaigned for IRA fugitives to be
allowed home without fear of prosecution, claimed any
extension to the security forces would halt the quest for
truth over controversial killings.

He said: "All of those we are aware of are Irish
republicans and number less than two dozen and are firm
supporters of the peace process.

"Sinn Féin did not support, propose, discuss or accept that
members of the British state forces should be part of the
process. For this reason we did not argue for an amnesty.

"On the contrary, we opposed this approach and we sought to
ensure the scheme would not hinder the search for the truth
or provide immunity for members of British state forces who
carried out or were responsible for State killings and

"The scheme that we negotiated was published by the two
governments at Weston Park (peace talks) in 2003 and
related only to OTRs. It did not include members of British
state forces.

"Sinn Féin's position is absolutely clear: we are opposed
to the inclusion of British state forces in the current

"In our view, it represents the latest attempt by the
British state to conceal the truth about its involvement in
the killing of citizens."

But Mr Donaldson accused republicans of naïve thinking.

The Lagan Valley MP said: "It shows how insensitive Sinn
Féin are to victims of IRA violence and how out of touch
they are with the reality of this particular issue."


Have Your Say: Should NI Fugitives Be Allowed To Return?

Is it right to allow paramilitary fugitives to return to
the province without serving a prison sentence?

As the Commons debates the proposed legislation that will
allow their return, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain
denied fugitives were getting an easy option, saying it was
"part of bringing closure to Northern Ireland's past".

It is thought the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats
will join unionists and the SDLP in opposing the bill.

Is it right to allow fugitives to return to Northern
Ireland? Will it help bring 'closure' to the province's
troubled past? Does the peace process require difficult


Ferris Says Report Vindicates Rossport Five

Published: 22 November, 2005

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Natural Resources, Martin
Ferris TD, has said that a report carried out by an
American pipeline expert vindicates the opposition of
people in Rossport to the proposed Corrib gas pipeline. The
report was compiled by Richard Kuprewicz and was
commissioned by the Centre for Public Inquiry.
Kuprewicz's analysis of the proposal found that the
pipeline as currently specified would carry a risk of
failure if operating at the high pressures envisaged.

Deputy Ferris said: "Mr. Kuprewicz's report confirms what
many others have said about the pipeline that Shell propose
to construct in Mayo. It vindicates the stand made by
opponents of the project, and again calls into question the
manner in which the pipeline was allegedly subject to
expert approval, and re-emphasises the need for a total
review and independent review of all aspects of the
project." ENDS


Suspected IRA Member On Bail Pending Landmark Challenge

23/11/2005 - 12:23:09

A Dublin Sinn Féin member who was jailed for four years for
IRA membership last year was freed on bail by the Court of
Criminal Appeal today pending the outcome of a landmark
legal challenge to anti-terrorist legislation.

The court freed Kenneth Donohoe on his own bail of €1,000,
an independent surety of €18,000, ordered him to sign on
daily at Crumlin Garda Station and not to associate with
anyone convicted of a scheduled offence.

Ms Justice Fidelma Macken said that the court was satisfied
that in the interests of justice bail ought to be granted.
She said that an earlier bail application was refused in
circumstances where Mr Donohoe was told there would be an
early trial of his appeal.

The judge said that an early trial of the appeal was not
possible because of a Supreme Court appeal concerning the
right to a fair trial.

Ms Justice Macken said that exactly the same issues arise
in Mr Donohoe's appeal and the court was satisfied that
there are special circumstances in the case.

The challenge before the Supreme Court is against the
current practice whereby the Special Criminal Court accepts
the opinion evidence of a Garda Chief Superintendent in
membership trials that a person is a member of an illegal

The Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday adjourned appeals by
two Dublin Sinn Féin members against their convictions for
IRA membership after hearing that the Supreme Court has
allowed an appeal on a point of law in another case to the
operation of the Special Criminal Court.

Niall Binead (aged 36), of Faughart Road, Crumlin and
Kenneth Donohoe (aged 27), of Sundale Avenue, Mountain
View, Tallaght were each jailed for four years by the
Special Criminal Court last year after they were convicted
of membership of an illegal organisation on October 10,

During their trial the court heard that gardaí found a list
of TD's , including three former Justice Ministers, at
Binead's home. Binead is a former secretary of a south
Dublin Sinn Féin cumann and was a close associate of Sinn
Féin TD for Dublin South Central Aengus O' Snodaigh.

Adjourning the appeals yesterday Ms Justice Macken said
that it had been made known to the court that the Supreme
Court has granted an appeal on a point of law against an
earlier decision by the Court of Criminal Appeal affirming
the conviction of Martin Kelly.

Kelly (aged 47), a former Irish Army Corporal , from
Westpark, Artane, Dublin was jailed for four years for
membership of an illegal organisation, said in court to be
the Continuity IRA, on July 29, 2002.

The Supreme Court has allowed an appeal on whether Kelly's
right to a fair trial under Article 38 of the Constitution
was infringed when he was precluded from inquiring into the
basis of the Chief

Superintendent's belief evidence against him during his


Dublin/Monaghan Bombings Inquiry To Finish In January

22/11/2005 - 20:14:53

A Government inquiry in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan
bombings will now be completed at the end of January, it
emerged tonight.

A Commission of Investigation led by veteran barrister
Patrick MacEntee was set up in April and had been due to
report within six months.

But a 25-page interim report by the Commission was
published tonight in order to secure an extension of time
until January 31.

Nobody has ever been convicted in relation to the bombings
which killed 33 people.

Mr MacEntee is investigating why the original Garda
investigation was wound down less than a year after the
atrocities, without anyone being charged for the offences.

He is also probing why specific leads were not followed by
gardaí and why one of the suspects in the bombings was
never interviewed by gardaí.

The Commission of Investigation, set up under new
legislation, can demand documents and compel witnesses to
attend private hearings.

Justice Henry Barron, who led the Oireachtas inquiry into
the bombings, found that all the documents relating to the
investigation into the Dublin bombing had gone missing, as
well as security information files from the time.


Teenagers 'Killed In Row Over UVF Chief'

22/11/2005 - 12:37:08

Two teenagers were stabbed to death after falling out with
drinking partners in a row over a murdered loyalist
paramilitary boss, a court heard today.

Andrew Robb, 19, and David McIlwaine, 18, were bundled into
a car, driven off and attacked so ferociously, possibly
with boning knives, that they were almost decapitated, the
Northern Ireland High Court was told.

One of the men charged with their murders consulted a
clergyman and handed himself over to police after watching
a television reconstruction.

Another of those suspected of being part of the gang who
slashed the young victims and dumped their bodies on a
country roadside in Tandragee, Co Armagh, in February 2000
had since committed suicide, it has emerged.

But after Mark Burcombe, 25, became the second man accused
of the killings which horrified the public, details of the
events leading up to their deaths were disclosed for the
first time.

As the stonemason from Ballynahinch Road in Lisburn, Co
Antrim, applied for bail, the Crown said he had told police
he was present on the night of the murders but denies
direct involvement.

Burcombe said he was at the home of Steven Brown, also
known as Steven Revels, with the victims and a fifth man,
Noel Dillon.

Barrister David Hopley said: "At about 3am on the Saturday,
February 19, Andrew Robb is alleged by these men to have
made some disparaging remarks about a Richard Jameson, who
would be a known UVF commander."

Weeks earlier, Jameson, one of the Ulster Volunteer Force's
leaders in the mid-Ulster area, was shot dead outside his
home in Portadown, Co Armagh, at the height of a terrorist
feud with the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force.

After Mr Robb allegedly rubbished the dead man, Mr Hopley
told the court: "Steven Brown/Revels shouts 'F*ck the LVF'.

"This seems to have motivated Burcombe, Dillon and Brown to
take Robb and McIlwaine in a car and then murder them."

All three suspects were believed by police to be members of
the UVF, the court was told.

They allegedly took the two victims from the house in a
Peugeot car which stopped outside Dillon's flat, where he
collected an undisclosed item, Mr Hopley said.

"Brown and Dillon worked in a meat plant as boners and it
may have been some sort of boning knife," he added.

According to Burcombe, Andrew Robb was taken away by the
pair and his body later found.

"He says that Steven Brown then attacked David McIlwaine in
his presence," the barrister told the court.

"He was beaten and kicked and stamped and then Noel Dillon
appears and stabs the deceased David McIlwaine.

"He attempted to cut his head off with a slicing motion to
the side of the neck.

"This applicant then gets back into Brown's vehicle and
they are about to leave the scene when they hear David
McIlwaine make a wheezing sound.

"He sees Brown exit the car and stab him repeatedly."

Burcombe, whose wife and five-month-old child were both in
court, was questioned about the murders later that year but
denied any involvement or knowledge of the stabbings, the
court was told.

He later left Northern Ireland and moved to England where
he lived for a period of time before returning.

"The situation is clearly there's involvement in this
murder which has yet to be finalised," Mr Hopley claimed.

"He has admitted some involvement but distanced himself
from the actual murders."

With Brown, 25, of Castleplace, Castlecaufield in Co
Tyrone, also charged with the killings, the barrister said
Dillon had committed suicide some time ago.

Opposing bail, he outlined his fear that Burcombe might
again quit Northern Ireland.

"These were cruel and vicious murders and those responsible
clearly have a propensity for violence using knives in the
way they did," he added.

"There are ongoing police inquiries into paramilitary links
with the UVF and there are concerns in that regard."

But Terence McDonald, QC for the defence, said that while
Burcombe accepted his presence on the night of the murders,
he stressed that the only evidence against him had been
provided by the accused.

In a reference to the BBC Crimewatch show, which staged a
reconstruction earlier this month, the lawyer said: "This
accused, after having watched a programme on television,
decided through a certain route, namely an approach to a
church leader, that he would wish to present himself to the
police to acknowledge he had information which was relevant
to the murders of Mr Robb and Mr McIlwaine."

Mr McDonald argued that Burcombe would not have gone to the
police if he planned to flee Northern Ireland before any

The lawyer also told the court that his client was prepared
to hand over his passport and pointed out that the Crown
had not accused him of being an active member of any
paramilitary organisation.

Despite his appeal, Mr Justice Girvan refused to grant bail
because of the gravity of the charges facing Burcombe.

"He denies involvement in the actual act of killing the
individuals who died in horrendous circumstances but he
clearly was at the scene of the crime," the judge said.

"He appears to have travelled in the car with the victims
to the place they were taken.

"Following this, he made no attempt to report what was an
appalling crime... and appears to have denied any knowledge
in any aspect of the murders."

Mr Justice Girvan added: "The degree of violence at the
scene and the fact that this appears to have been part of
an internecine war between loyalist paramilitaries...
points to a propensity to violence of an extreme nature.

"There is also a risk of him not turning up for trial."


Opin: Disbandment A Logical Step

(Editorial, Irish News)

The suggestion that Sinn Féin should automatically be
included in any devolved administration in Northern Ireland
while at the same time ruled out of consideration as a
coalition partner in Dublin is a contentious one.

Republicans believe that their mandate, which they expect
will continue to grow, across Ireland means that they are
fully entitled to hold office on both sides of the border.

Unionists would prefer to see Sinn Féin out in the cold in
each jurisdiction, and believe the main southern parties
are guilty of blatantly maintaining double standards over
the issue.

The taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, moved to clarify his position
through his comprehensive interview in The Irish News last

He said he believed that Sinn Féin could not enter
government in the Republic as long as the IRA still
existed, as in those circumstances the party was unable to
fully subscribe to the Irish constitution.

While he did not feel that he needed to spell out his
precise attitude towards a revived Stormont administration,
the clear implication was that the absence of a written
constitution in Northern Ireland was a crucial factor.

The reality is that nationalists look to Dublin while
unionists value their London links, and both traditions
tend to regard the Northern Ireland

Assembly as something of a compromise.
With constitutional questions put to one side, at least
temporarily, the priority must be to ensure that devolution
provides a fair and effective system of government for all
sections of the community.

The SDLP and the Ulster Unionists have important
contributions to make, but, as the most recent elections
have underlined, Sinn Féin and the DUP have become the
majority voices in nationalism and unionism respectively.

Any deal which the two largest parties cannot endorse is
almost certain to collapse, so in real terms Gerry Adams
and Ian Paisley can either reach an accommodation or
exercise a veto over any return to Stormont.

There is all to play for, and Mr Ahern has optimistically
predicted that the assembly could be in business again by
next summer.

He has also effectively left the door open for Sinn Féin
eventually assuming Dublin ministerial posts in the event
of the IRA following its decommissioning with a formal

This would present all sides with a range of challenges but
there is no compelling reason to prevent it happening.

An end to the IRA, together with all the other republican
and loyalist paramilitary groups, is the logical conclusion
of the Irish peace process.

In the best interests of all the people of Ireland, it
should be brought about sooner rather than later.

November 22, 2005


SDLP And Sinn Féin In Policing War Of Words

Chief Constable Orde says republicans should join Policing

Connla Young

The SDLP and Sinn Féin were last night locked in a new
war of words over policing in the North.

The dispute was sparked yesterday after the SDLP justice
spokesman Alban Maginness branded Sinn Féin's approach to
policing as "self-defeating".

Sinn Féin West Tyrone assembly member Barry McElduff hit
back, accusing the SDLP of attempting to justify its
"failed" position on policing.

The north Belfast SDLP man's remarks came on the same day
that PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde urged Sinn Féin to join
the Policing Board.

Hugh Orde told RTÉ yesterday that republicans should sign
up to policing structures.

"I cannot see any reason why they should not engage in
policing and come onto the Policing Board," he said.

The policing row between the SDLP and Sinn Féin broke out
less than a week after up to 400 people across the North
were told their personal details were in the hands of
loyalists. Members of the Royal Irish Regiment took PSNI
files from Castlereagh police barracks in east Belfast last

Despite the serious security breach, Mr Maginness said Sinn
Féin should do more to encourage a debate on the devolution
of justice matters.

"The longer Sinn Féin delays on policing, the harder it is
going to be to get the devolution of justice," he said.

"They need to realise that their stance of staying off the
board is not only anti-Patten, as Patten himself has
confirmed - it is also anti-devolution of justice.

"It makes getting the confidence for everybody to sign up
to the devolution of justice even more difficult to
achieve. The truth is that Sinn Féin's stance on policing
is self-defeating. They need to rethink it urgently."

Sinn Féin's Barry McElduff last night said his party was
engaging in the wider policing debate.

"The SDLP have lost the nationalist plebiscite on policing
in terms of recent elections.

"Sinn Féin accurately reflects the mood and demands of
nationalist people for proper policing. I find that the
SDLP are constantly involved in rants of self-justification
and are very defensive when this issue is raised," he said.

"Within the nationalist family, Sinn Féin has won the
debate in terms of their approach to policing and the
political process.

"Sinn Féin is involved in attempting to secure acceptable
policing arrangements that includes high-level political
talks involving Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams."

The British government is involved in drawing up
legislation dealing with the devolution of justice matters.

Mr Maginness said no attempt should be made to water down
current policing arrangements in the North. He called for
the retention of the 50-50 quota rule, despite calls by
Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley at the SDLP's
recent annual conference for the quota to be scrapped.

The SDLP man said: "We are warning them that this
legislation must be honest and must be Patten-compliant. We
are also warning Sinn Féin that their refusal to join the
policing institutions has delayed and may continue to delay
devolution of powers.

"There must be no attempt by the British to get at the
powers of the Policing Board or the Police Ombudsman,
either by the front door or the back door.

"The legislation must also protect the 50-50 quota and the
Parades Commission from being dismantled."


Dáil Pays Tribute To Liam Lawlor

23 November 2005 13:40

Tributes were paid to the late Liam Lawlor in the Dáil this

Mr Lawlor was first elected to the Dáil in 1977 and retired
from politics in 2002. He was killed in a car crash in
Moscow last month.

Party leaders and other deputies praised his 'larger than
life' character, and severely criticised media coverage of
his death.

Mr Lawlor's widow, Hazel, and a number of their children
were in the distinguished visitors' gallery.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said Mr Lawlor was a person
who was controversial, but he was 'a good guy'. Fine Gael
leader Enda Kenny said Mr Lawlor was personally a kind and
generous man.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said there was a tradition of
not speaking ill of the dead, and he would respect that. He
said he would have liked to be able to say that Mr Lawlor
had used his prodigious talent exclusively for public
service and to enhance politics, but he was unable to do

Tánaiste Mary Harney attacked the 'appallingly inaccurate
reporting' surrounding Mr Lawlor's death, while Trevor
Sargent of the Greens said there was a lot more to Liam
Lawlor than what was reported in the papers.

Caoimghín Ó Caoláin of Sinn Féin said printing the stories
about the circumstances of Mr Lawlor's death was
unacceptable even if true, but unforgivable when they were

Fianna Fáil's Brian Lenihan said there had been no proper
apology or explanation for the reports, and pointed out
that no adverse finding had been made against Mr Lawlor by
any court or tribunal at the time of his death.

Green TD Paul Gogarty said he was tempted to use Dáil
privilege to individually 'lambast' every member of the
media responsible for the inaccurate coverage, but would
not do so in light of the dignity show by the Lawlor

Later, Deputy Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach, in the light
of the comments about the coverage, when the defamation
legislation would be introduced, and was told it was due in


Lisburn Council Overturns Ban On Same-Sex Ceremonies

23/11/2005 - 08:14:21

Lisburn City Council has reversed its decision to ban same-
sex couples from holding civil registration ceremonies on
council property.

Gay activists had threatened legal action against the
unionist-dominated council when it introduced the ban last

The move to prohibit same-sex ceremonies from the council's
wedding room was approved ahead of a new law allowing gay
couples to enter into civil partnerships.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP both opposed the ban, which had the
backing of the main unionist parties.


Best Back On The Ventilator

George Best had to be put back on a ventilator after a
disturbed night but remains "alert", his doctor said today.

The 59-year-old football legend has been in the intensive
care unit at the Cromwell Hospital, west London, after he
suffered a severe setback and a lung infection.

Yesterday he partly regained consciousness and was able to
move his head and eyes.

But Professor Roger Williams, who has been overseeing
treatment, said the night had not passed well.

Speaking outside the hospital, he said: "The situation is

that he didn`t have a very good night, had a disturbed
night and had to be put back on the ventilator.

"But he is still very alert, very sedated on the
ventilator, so I don`t think there is a very big change."

Prof Williams said Best would stay on the ventilator for
the rest of the day.

"He remains very ill, there is a bit more of a problem with
bleeding than we had before," he said.

"We did have it some weeks ago, it seems to be coming back
to some degree again, the loss of blood, which is a worry.

"Otherwise he remains critically ill but fairly stable."

Prof Williams said the former footballer was responding
when spoken to, but was not fully conscious because he is
under sedation.

The doctor said the longer Best remained in the same
condition without making a substantial improvement, the
more worrying it became.

"We had hoped we would have seen a more marked improvement
over these last few days back to where he was some week or
10 days ago," he said.

He insisted there was "still a chance" of recovery, but
said some improvement would have to be shown soon.

Best`s father Dickie, 87, and several of his sisters are at
his bedside.

After weeks of illness Best`s health deteriorated
significantly on Friday after he developed a lung

He was admitted to the Cromwell Hospital on October 1 with
flu-like symptoms and earlier this month suffered a kidney

Best, who has battled alcoholism for years, had a liver
transplant in 2002.

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