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November 15, 2005

Republican Lives Under Threat

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 11/15/05
Republicans' Lives 'Under Threat'
BB 07/22/04 Background: Soldiers Transferred During Probe
UT 11/15/05 Irish Government Backs Finucane Inquiry
SF 11/15/05 SF Support Finucane Campaign -Family Meet Gov
SF 11/15/05 Adams: Ending Direct Rule
SF 11/15/05 Counting The Cost Of Direct Rule
IO 11/15/05 Search Begins For NI Policing Board Members
GU 11/15/05 Loyalist: Gangland Glamour
IO 11/15/05 Paisley To Meet Ahern For Talks On Friday
DJ 11/15/05 Actions, Not Words
NL 11/15/05 Unionists United In Protest At Agreement
DI 11/15/05 In Dublin: Getting Away With Murder
SF 11/15/05 SF Welcome For International Fund Extension
SW 11/15/05 Constance Markievicz
BT 11/15/05 Rock Legends Horslips Were Chased By Car
MS 11/15/05 Rev: Irish 'Breakfast On Pluto' Is Tasty


Republicans' Lives 'Under Threat'

Police have warned dozens of republicans that their lives
are under threat from loyalist paramilitaries.

It is linked to the discovery of a document believed to
have been taken from an Army office in the Castlereagh
security complex last year.

More than 20 soldiers were transferred to other duties
while the investigation into the missing document began.

The republicans, from the Short Strand, were told their
details had been found in the possession of paramilitaries.

Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said more than 50 homes were
visited by police.

"This development is clearly of concern to the people
involved directly, their families and the wider community
in the Short Strand," he said.

"It has been well over a decade since such a large number
of republicans were visited in an operation like this in
the city."

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

Police would not say from where exactly the document was

Security force sources have indicated that the document was
of a type used by the military to assist them in monitoring
terrorism suspects.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/15 19:40:10 GMT



Soldiers Transferred During Probe

A number of soldiers have been transferred pending the
outcome of a probe into a security breach at the
Castlereagh complex, the Army has said.

On Wednesday, the Northern Ireland security minister
confirmed that a document had disappeared from a room at
the Belfast police headquarters.

Ian Pearson said he had confirmed with senior police
officers that there were no indications the material had
fallen into the hands of paramilitaries.

It has been alleged the missing document contains the names
and details of hundreds of terrorist suspects.

The Press Association reported that 28 members of the Royal
Irish Regiment have been withdrawn from sensitive security
duties in connection with the investigation into the
missing document.

Mr Pearson said: "There is an ongoing police investigation
into the disappearance of a document from a room in the
Castlereagh complex.

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

On Wednesday, an Army spokesman said: "The Army regards any
breach of internal security with the utmost concern and has
been co-operating fully with the PSNI in its ongoing
investigation at the Castlereagh complex.

"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."

Speaking after a meeting with Mr Pearson, Sinn Fein
assembly member Gerry Kelly said no-one had yet been
informed that their details were missing.

"I believe we are sitting on a potential scandal," he said.
"I believe that the British are trying to suppress this
story. It has only emerged through leaks."

'Released without charge'

The Press Association, quoting an unnamed source, said the
soldiers had been withdrawn from security duties at
Castlereagh and at watchtowers in nationalist areas, such
as Divis Tower in west Belfast.

They have been transferred to Palace Barracks in Holywood,
County Down, according to the report.

It is not known exactly when the document went missing.

The police said it would be improper to comment on an
ongoing investigation.

On 12 July, a person being questioned about the incident at
Castlereagh was released without charge.

Two years ago, an officer was assaulted and sensitive
documents stolen during a raid at Special Branch offices in
the Castlereagh police complex on 17 March 2002.

Since then, security has been enhanced.

One of the main police centres for the interrogation of
terrorist suspects was located at Castlereagh.

It closed at the end of 1999.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/07/22 08:21:21 GMT


Irish Government Backs Finucane Inquiry

The Irish government tonight pledged not to move one iota
from its support for a full independent inquiry into the
murder of Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane.

By:Press Association

Foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern met the widow and son
of the murdered solicitor at Government Buildings for the
first time in Dublin today.

He said he would continue the government`s campaign to have
an independent inquiry into the brutal murder of the
solicitor in 1989 by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

"We will endeavour to articulate to the British government
the need to have as full an inquiry as possible, not moving
one iota in relation to our principled stand for a full
independent inquiry," he said.

He spoke with Geraldine Finucane, her solicitor, Peter
Madden, and her son, John, for more than an hour following
previous meetings held with them by the Taoiseach Bertie

The family and Mr Justice Peter Corry, the retired Canadian
supreme court judge who recommended holding an inquiry into
the murder, have all rejected the terms proposed by the
British government under the Inquiries Act 2005.

"It has been a difficult path to where we are today and I
think the family are under no illusions that it`s going to
continue to be difficult, given the fact that the
legislation has been passed in the British parliament
changing the 1921 legislation," said Mr Ahern.

He said the government had made it clear time and time
again that it was not satisfied with the legislation which
had replaced the 1921 Tribunal of Inquiry Act.

"We agree entirely with the family, we agree entirely with
Judge Corry. But we are where we are at this point in
time," he said.

The Finucane family insisted they would not co-operate
unless all evidence is heard in public. They believe the
restrictions would hinder the independence of the inquiry,
damaging its effectiveness and openness.

"The difficulty is that the control of the inquiry does not
lie with the panel of judges. The control lies with the
government and, in this case, it is the government that are
under scrutiny and therefore that removes the independence
of the tribunal," said Geraldine Finucane.

Mrs Finucane said a possible challenge to the British
government approach in the European Court of Human Rights
had not been ruled out.

"Certainly, every avenue that can be pursued to get to the
truth, we will do it. We`ll wait as long as it takes to get
to the troops and we have a lot of support, so we`re hoping
that will help us get there," she said.

Mr Madden said it was very clear they were not for turning.

"We think that, eventually, we will get the truth in this
matter. It`s whether there`s a proper mechanism put in
place. It`s up to the British government to do that."

The British government has so far resisted pressure to have
a completely public inquiry, raising questions over its
willingness to explore whether there was official British
collusion with loyalists in Mr Finucane`s murder.

The Finucane family has written to senior British judges to
ask them not to work with any inquiry in the proposed

Human rights group Amnesty International has also launched
an internet campaign to persuade senior British judicial
figures not to work with the planned inquiry.


Sinn Féin Support For Finucane Campaign As Family Meet Irish Government

Published: 15 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly has
reiterated his party's support for the family of murdered
Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in their campaign for an
independent international inquiry into his murder. Mr Kelly
's comments come as the Finucane family meet with Irish
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern in Dublin.

Mr Kelly said:

" Despite a public commitment after Weston Park to
establish an inquiry into this killing the British
government have subsequently brought forward legislation
which, in the view of the Finucane family would ensure that
any inquiry held within these parameters would not deliver
the truth.

" The British state has from the outset sought to frustrate
the Finucane family in their pursuit of justice and truth.
They have sought to cover-up the role of their own agents
in this and other killings. It seems that this policy is

" Sinn Féin will continue to support the Finucane family in
their campaign for the truth. It is also important that the
Irish government do likewise. They need to make it clear to
the British government that the sort of concealment and
evasion which has been the mark of the British government
approach to this case up until now and also to the inquires
established into the Dublin/Monaghan bomb and the Seamus
Ludlow case is unacceptable and must end and end." ENDS


Ending Direct Rule

Published: 15 November, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams Speaking at the launch of a
party discussion document 'Counting the cost of Direct Rule
and Putting it Right' at Stormont today has said that
"Direct Rule is a failure. It fails all the people of the
north at every conceivable social, political and economic
level. People are paid less, costs are higher and local
politicians do not take the decisions which can affect any
of this. British Ministers are in charge.

"The primary responsibility to change this rests with the
political parties. Sinn Féin is also calling on civic and
business society to work in partnership with the political
parties to achieve this.

"Sinn Féin will be engaging with civic society - trade
unions, business leaders, NGOs and the community and
voluntary sector to give a focus and to generate a stronger
momentum to the campaign to restore the political
institutions and end British Direct Rule."

Mr Adams said:

"Our aim is very simple: to restore the political
institutions and to put decision making back into the hands
of the people of the north through the political
institutions and locally elected political representatives.

"It has been over three years since the British Government
suspended the Assembly and the Executive. In that time,
British Direct Rule has undermined the Programme for
Government and the priorities agreed by members of the last
Executive and Assembly.

"Direct rule has made it impossible to manage the economy
in the interests of all and has impeded the delivery of
essential services on an equal basis. It has stalled the
process of reform in healthcare and education and inflicted
damage on the agricultural sector.

"In some cases this is partly attributable to Ministerial
disengagement or incompetence. For example, Direct Rule
Ministers recently overlooked the fact that we were about
to lose EU Peace funding worth £140 million. But this only
compounds the central problem, which is structurally
inherent to Direct Rule - unaccountability.

"Direct Rule impacts negatively on the economy,
agriculture, healthcare and education. Some of the specific
costs of this are detailed in this document.

"We will be taking forward this discussion document and
engaging with civic society, with trade unions, business
leaders, NGOs and the community and voluntary sector. We
will be stepping up our campaign to get the political
institutions back up and running." ENDS


Counting The Cost Of Direct Rule
And Putting It Right

Download PDF at

Published: 15 November, 2005

It has been over three years since the British Government
suspended the Assembly and the Executive on October 14th

In that time, British Direct Rule has undermined the
Programme for Government and the priorities agreed by
members of the last Executive and Assembly. Driven not by a
commitment to serve the people of the north, but by a
Whitehall imperative to slash public spending, British
Direct Rule Ministers have refused to adequately finance
badly needed services, programmes and reforms that were
identified as essential to make social and economic
progress. While Direct Rule persists, this will not change.

Direct rule is not just undemocratic. It's not just bad for
the Peace Process. Direct Rule has proven bad for our
economy and bad for our society. It has made it impossible
to manage the economy in the interests of all. It has
impeded the delivery of essential services to all on an
equal basis. It has stalled the process of reform in
healthcare and education. It has inflicted damage on the
agricultural sector. It has therefore imposed unacceptable
economic costs and social costs.

It's high time to count the costs of Direct Rule, and to
set about putting it right.

Direct Rule: Counting the Costs

Direct Rule Ministers have not operated in the interests of
the people of the north.

In some cases this is partly attributable to Ministerial
disengagement or incompetence. For example, Direct Rule
Ministers recently overlooked the fact that we were about
to lose EU Peace funding. But such indifference and
incompetence only compound the central problem, which is
structurally inherent to Direct Rule -- that is
unaccountability. We have no way of removing those from
power who either cannot perform or who follow an agenda
detrimental to the interests of our people.

The main problem with Direct Rule Ministers is that they
are interim appointees with no mandate and accountable to
nobody in the north. Their ability to deliver has no impact
on their political futures. Further, their decisions are
circumscribed by a broader agenda and policy imperatives
that have nothing to do with the people of the north. They
have flatly refused to listen to either the genuine
concerns raised by democratically mandated politicians or
the local expertise of community and voluntary

Direct Rule decisions have had broad negative consequences
for us all.

Thirty years plus of British under-investment has meant
that major economic and social infrastructural deficits
impeding our development remain unaddressed. Spending cuts
in the most recent Direct Rule Budget will further
devastate services across a range of areas.

So there are specific costs of Direct Rule that can be
counted, which impact on the economy, agriculture,
healthcare and education, some of which are detailed in
this document.

The fact that the British Government is now determined to
force us down the road to privatisation of services and
greater dependency on PFI and PPP makes ending Direct Rule
a matter of urgency. If PPP/PFI contracts are signed under
Direct Rule, this will bind any future Assembly and
Executive into a policy straitjacket and severely restrict
its freedom of action for decades to come.

Direct Rule is therefore a liability to all of our society
-- nationalists and unionists alike.

...And Putting It Right

Since the Good Friday Agreement was signed more than seven
years ago the institutions have functioned properly for
less than 18 months. This dysfunction and the more recent
lengthy suspension have denied us all an adequate
opportunity to work together to reverse three decades of
British Direct Rule and unionist misrule.

We urgently need to get the institutions back up and
running so we can start to undo the damage now. Any further
delay will only compound our problems with continued under-
investment, mis-investment and under-funding of services.
This will mean further damage to our economy, our education
and healthcare systems and our rural communities. It will
mean that the fight against poverty, disadvantage and
inequality will slide even further down the policy agenda.

The IRA decision to end its armed campaign and complete the
process of putting arms beyond use has opened up a new
opportunity to get the institutions back up and running.
Failure to make the most of this opportunity benefits no
one, as this will consign us all to more bad decisions
under Direct Rule.

This is a challenge for us all. Unionists have walked away
from every initiative aimed at restoring the institutions.
Their refusal to engage and agree a way forward has
penalised everyone, not just republicans. The question is -
- how long will the DUP allow Direct Rule Ministers to take
decisions to the detriment of people in the north?

The political institutions must be restored. The British
Government must deliver a Peace Dividend that can be
invested by locally accountable government for the common
good. And we must all work together collectively to plan
our new society.

Sinn Féin is up to the challenge.

I. Direct Rule and Economic Management

Economic Cost of Direct Rule No. 1 -- An Inefficient,
Ineffective and Unequal Economy

Several centuries of British rule followed by decades of
unionist misrule created an inefficient, ineffective and
unequal economy. This has been consolidated under
contemporary British Direct Rule by Ministerial failure to
redress structural weaknesses and wrong policy choices.

Headlines about growing prosperity and employment disguise
the reality that more than half a million people in the
north of Ireland are still 'economically inactive'. Just
under half are on long-term sickness or incapacity benefit
(the bulk of the remainder are pensioners and students).

Under Direct Rule between 2002-2004 the north lost
proportionately more manufacturing jobs than any area of
Britain or Ireland. The only growth in jobs has been in the
part-time, low wage female service sector. While the
creation of such jobs boosts employment statistics it has
no real effect on reducing or eliminating poverty.

Direct Rule Ministers are not motivated to engage in the
profound structural reform and investment necessary to
reverse this situation and truly revitalise the economy.
Instead, they are satisfied if they can cut spending to the
greatest extent possible without causing economic and
social collapse under their watch.

These, therefore, are the ongoing economic costs of Direct

Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.1: Persistent Structural Weakness
in the Economy

The structural economic problems in the north are by now
familiar. They include:

• The loss of the manufacturing base, and consequent poor

• A lack of focus on R&D, training and skills

• Over-dependence on the public sector and service

• Poor infrastructure

• Imbalanced regional development

The result is an inefficient, ineffective and unequal
economy characterised by high levels of economic
inactivity, poverty and inequality.

In their 'Economic Vision' document last year, even the
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI)
recognised that the main obstacle facing the economy in the
north of Ireland is the lack of economic sovereignty --
that fiscal policy, taxes and public expenditure, along
with the regulatory frameworks, are set in Whitehall not in
Belfast. In other words, Direct Rule is the problem.

Another impediment is partition itself. It has made the
economy less viable.

A small island with a population of just over 5 million
people cannot develop successful economic strategies on the
basis of economic division. The smaller northern economy
within that is unsustainable by itself and cannot exist in

The devastating economic consequences of partition are most
obvious in the border counties, but the impact is broader
in that the north as a whole has been excluded from the
economic advances of the 26 Counties.

Partition also means automatically forfeiting economies of
scale available from island-wide initiatives. For example,
indisputably the most efficient response to the
infrastructure deficit common to both jurisdictions is to
establish all-island Information and Communication
Technologies (ICT), energy and transport networks that
include the North West.

Thus, competition between north and south and neglect of
all-Ireland economic opportunities is wasting money every

We know the two macro-structural problems in our economy
are lack of sovereignty and partition. No British
Government review can really ensure efficiency, avoid
duplication and make the most of finite resources while
partition and Direct Rule remain in place.

The only way to truly transform the economy in the north of
Ireland is to set it in the context of an island-wide
strategy for development and regeneration. To succeed, any
economic development strategy must at a minimum remove the
barriers to north/south business development and trade and
to cross-border working mobility.

Putting it Right: It is only by adopting a unified approach
to the development of an all-Ireland economic strategy that
our economy and the country as a whole will achieve its
full potential. As an immediate interim measure we need to
end Direct Rule, restore the Assembly and devise an agreed
remedial package in the common interest, with a strong all-
Ireland dimension.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Prioritise further development and expansion of the
existing All-Ireland Implementation Bodies and Areas of Co-
operation such as IntertradeIreland.

- Push for the amalgamation of investment agencies such as
Invest NI and IDA Ireland. In the short term, rather than
being competitors, they should work together on harmonising
investment regimes and sectoral development strategies, and
towards a fair geographical share-out of inward investment.

- Increase investment in partnerships to deliver the skills
required to increase small businesses, meet the skill
requirements of small businesses while also increasing
investment in new indigenous and existing small business
support. (Currently 60% of INI's budget is in direct
foreign investment which is a tried, tested and failed
strategy e.g. Europa Tool, CC Technologies etc.

Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.2: Persistent Poverty and

In the north half a million people live in poor households.
One hundred and fifty thousand children live in poverty, as
do 50% of disabled people's households.

Persistent and deep-rooted poverty exists in both unionist
and nationalist areas and in both rural and urban areas.
Sinn Féin recognises this, and wants it to end.

Seven years on from the Good Friday Agreement, instead of
measurable progress achieved across the range of social,
economic and cultural disparities that prevail,
inequalities are actually deepening. This is because the
equality and human rights components of the Good Friday
Agreement that should help remediate the cross-community
problem of poverty have been deliberately blocked,
undermined and minimised.

Under Direct Rule the British Government has failed to give
the appropriate political, economic and legislative
leadership and has largely abdicated responsibility for
decision-making on key policy areas to bureaucrats and
civil servants who have acted as gatekeepers against

Political parties who have not worked together to put them
under pressure to ensure that tackling poverty is a
priority have let direct Rule Ministers off the hook. There
is huge unrealised potential in bringing our political
forces together such as under the West Belfast and Shankill
Economic Taskforce. But such successes have only been
possible when the Assembly was functioning.

This failure of political leadership has given the green
light to those within unionism historically opposed to
equality in the north, who have consistently denied their
role in fostering and maintaining the conditions in which
inequality thrives. Direct Rule has therefore minimised the
impact of the Equality Agenda.

As a consequence, the most recent statistics from OFMDFM
Indicators of Social Need for NI (September 2004) show that
on every social indicator nationalists continue to be worst
affected. However, the levels of comparable and consistent
disadvantage in some unionist areas are equally
unacceptable and have also not significantly changed under
Direct Rule.

Putting it Right: Everyone without exception deserves to be
lifted out of the poverty trap. We need to tackle
disadvantage everywhere it exists. This requires the
restoration of the Assembly, cooperation on anti-poverty
strategies and prioritisation of public spending on the
basis of objective need alone. Any other approach,
particularly one based on religious or sectarian criteria,
will only compound inequality.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Ensure public spending is prioritised on the basis of
objective and fulfils Section 75 requirements.

- Push for an anti-poverty strategy that tackles
unemployment, low pay, the under-provision of childcare,
and educational and health inequalities suffered by all
deprived and marginalised communities.

- Fast-track development of a comprehensive plan to
eliminate the historic gap between rich and poor, Catholic
and Protestant, West and East of the Bann including
strategies to eliminate inequalities in housing,
infrastructure investment, and community development.

- Harness the full potential of the Good Friday Agreement
to create a society based on the full expression of
equality and human rights for all and the prospect of a
different social, political and economic landscape emerging
out of decades of sectarianism, discrimination and

Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.3: Persistent Investment

The Invest NI (INI) report published in July 2005 shows
that Direct Rule Ministers have presided over a continuing
imbalance in the targeting of investment resources to the
detriment of the areas of highest deprivation and

INI claim that more than 80% of investment is located in
Targeting Social Need (TSN) areas. The figures show that
this is clearly not the case.

For example, despite high deprivation and unemployment and
demonstrably great need, West Belfast received fewer offers
of financial assistance than any other constituency. North
and West Belfast together received less than a third of the
financial assistance given to South and East Belfast for
2003-04 (£12.6 million compared to £41.5 million).

West of the Bann has received only 10% of assistance given
and is due to receive only 10% of planned investment.

Investment is also not being directed to border areas
despite well-documented evidence that these are severely

For example, the five border constituencies (South Down,
Newry and Armagh, Foyle, West Tyrone, and Fermanagh and
South Tyrone) together have received, and will receive,
less planned assistance than South Belfast alone. South
Belfast is set to receive nearly one third of all INI
planned investment in the current financial cycle.

Overall Belfast gets the lion's share of INI support,
having received over 45% of all assistance in 2003-04, and
set to get an even greater share of all planned investment.
In comparison all seven border councils (Armagh, Omagh,
Newry and Mourne, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Strabane and Derry)
will receive just over 20% of planned investment. The seven
councils West of the Bann received £20 million less than
Belfast in 2003-04 and the planned investment is £92
million less.

In fact a council-by-council analysis of the distribution
of investment by INI shows that the six most income and
employment-deprived council areas (Strabane, Derry, Omagh,
Moyle, Cookstown and Newry and Mourne) received less
financial assistance and will receive less planned
investment than the wealthy parliamentary constituency of
South Belfast. Moyle Council is at the bottom of the table
for number of offers, actual assistance and planned
investment. These six most deprived council areas received
only £5,752 financial assistance per person within their
council area compared to almost five times as much
(£27,054) per person in South Belfast.

The correlation between those areas that are losing out on
Invest NI support -- West of the Bann, the border counties,
North and West Belfast -- with the mapping of areas that
are the most deprived and have the least jobs is highly

Under Direct Rule Invest NI are clearly failing in their
duty to not only equality-proof their investment strategy
but are failing to ensure tangible equality outcomes. By
replicating patterns of neglect, under-investment,
disadvantage and discrimination, Invest NI has become part
of the problem. They have no commitment to seriously
tackling economic and social need. Direct Rule Ministers
have shown no interest in challenging or changing this.

Putting it Right: Equitable economic development in the Six
Counties requires the elimination of this entrenched
disparity in investment. This will only happen if the
Assembly is restored, and objective need is made the
primary basis for investment.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Ensure that both INI and DETI are made accountable for
these failures.

- Set targets and timetables to urgently redress investment

Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.4: Ill-Advised Budgetary Cuts

It would be impossible to catalogue here all the ill-
advised budget cuts made by Direct Rule Ministers. Nor does
this short document allow for a fully detailed statement of
the cumulative impact of British budgeting that has created
the economic mess that a restored Assembly would have to
try to rectify.

The recent decision to cut funding to the Start a Business
Programme (SaBP), a core Invest NI programme, provides but
one illustrative example of the disconnect between social
value and spending decisions under Direct Rule.

We all know that outside the Belfast region the bulk of new
business growth and new jobs will be from local small
businesses. In this regard, SaBP has proven to be a
successful programme creating additional jobs and wealth,
consistent with DETI's Economic Vision, which identifies
enterprise as one of the four drivers of the economy.

Nevertheless, this year the budget for SaBP was cut almost
in half, from £6.7m per annum to £3.5m. Notwithstanding the
fact that this cut was due to a loss of money from Europe
via local councils, Direct Rule Ministers failed to prepare
for this loss and failed to make up the shortfall. The
impact of this will be the loss of between 900 and 1500
potential jobs and a loss of turnover to the economy of
between £12 and £19 million. Without a functioning Assembly
there was no one to step in and ensure that this budget
remained a priority and protected it from unwarranted cuts.

Putting it Right: We need to restore the Assembly in order
to rid ourselves of such patently poor budgetary decision-
making under Direct Rule. However there is also an onus on
the British Government to deliver on the Peace Dividend to
tackle these problems.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Equality-proof, human rights-proof and poverty-proof all

- Ensure that small, locally-owned businesses remain a
policy and budgetary priority.

- Push for delivery of a Peace Dividend with an economic
development package from Britain that includes:

- Public expenditure commitments

- Job creation strategies that create higher value jobs.

- Support for indigenous industry

- Balanced regional economic and infrastructure

- Investment in R&D, training and skills.

- Effective implementation of the statutory equality duty.

Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.5: Persistent Infrastructure

Investors will go where the infrastructure is and avoid the
areas where it is absent. As a consequence of a persistent
lack of infrastructure and consequent investment, the most
deprived region in the north is West of the Bann,
particularly in relation to unemployment and income levels,
as confirmed most recently in the PWC Annual Report 2005
and Multiple Deprivation Measures (NISRA, May 2005). Direct
Rule Ministers have done little or nothing to change this.

Their ongoing neglect of the transport infrastructure in
Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh is just one example. The lack
of motivation to change this under Direct Rule was
illustrated by the statement of a senior civil servant at a
seminar in Derry in October 2004, that the Belfast -- Derry
route may get a dual carriageway by 2025, but even then it
would only go as far as Dungiven.

The practical out-working of this ongoing neglect of the
infrastructure deficit under Direct Rule is that while the
overall manufacturing loss in the north is 6%, in Derry it
is 34% - more than five times greater.

Without strategically managed infrastructural development,
the northwest will continue to face higher unemployment and
lower levels of income. A long term, sustainable capital
investment programme with an All-Ireland dimension is
required to deliver balanced regional development.

Rather than doing this, however, Direct Rule Ministers are
pushing through a privatisation agenda that will lock in
25-30 year infrastructural development contracts, despite
the cross-jurisdictional evidence showing that Public
Private Partnerships (PPPs) or Private Finance Initiatives
(PFIs) are not always the most efficient or cost effective.

The evidence:

- June 2005 - after spending £14m on lawyers, consultants,
architects and miscellaneous sundries, the NHS ditched
plans for the Paddington health campus in west London,
because projected costs rose from £360m to £1.1 billion,
and the number of beds fell from 1000 to 800. This wasn't
the case with a PFI scheme at Walsgrave hospital where the
number of beds fell by 20%, while costs rose by 1100%.

- June 17th 2005 - Scottish ministers decided it was
cheaper to spend £25m buying out the private financiers who
built the Inverness airport terminal than to let them carry
on. In six years, corporations made £8.5m on an investment
of £5.5m.

- The Skye Bridge was bought back by the Scottish Executive
in 2004 for £27m. Total cost to the public was £93.6m for a
bridge that should have cost £15m.

- June 9th 2005 - a senior civil servant in the British
Department of Health revealed that PFI deals were locking
the NHS into 30-year contracts for services that might
become useless in five.

Without a functioning Assembly, there is no way to
effectively challenge the PPP/PFI dogma, or to even demand
an accurate comparative costing on a project-by-project

Putting it Right: We need to restore the Assembly in order
to regain control over the future of infrastructure
development and to ensure that the people in the Six
Counties really do the get best deal and real value for

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Work for balanced regional development and set targets
and timetables to urgently redress infrastructural

- Establish a PPP-PFI watchdog body to monitor existing

- Ensure that all options are examined for public funding
of future projects to guarantee value for money and that
the best interests of the people in the Six Counties are
being served.

Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.6: Increasing Energy Costs

It is well established that the privatisation deal (and
particularly the fixed long-term generation contracts)
brokered by Direct Rule Ministers in the 1990s has been a
disaster in the north. The previous Regulator, Douglas
McIldoon, revealed that by the end of the decade
electricity privatisation will have taken an additional £1
billion out of the local economy.

The Direct Rule energy deal has been bad for the individual
domestic customer and bad for the economy.

Putting it Right: The Assembly must be restored to address
this as a matter of urgency, and should pressure the
British Government to accept responsibility for this bad
deal. It should demand that the British Government come
forward with a plan to create a level playing field for our
businesses, significantly bring down electricity prices and
eradicate fuel poverty.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Work to eradicate fuel poverty, which contributes to over
1,300 early deaths of older people every year from cold-
related illnesses.

- Lead the debate around the need for a British Government
intervention to buy-out the remaining life of the
generation contracts and to allow, for example, new
entrants into the energy market such as ESB to set a lower
and more competitive price given the commitment to create a
single all-Ireland energy market.

- Ensure that private companies in the energy sector do not
make super-profits while people struggle to pay energy

- Hold these companies to account and ensure that they act
in a transparent manner, adhering to the regulatory

Economic Cost of Direct Rule No. 2: A Rural Crisis

Direct Rule Ministers have presided over a rural crisis.
Farming and fishing incomes are falling and poverty levels
are increasing in rural communities.

Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.1: A Spiralling Crisis in

Direct Rule agriculture policy and the separate development
of the northern agriculture sector as a result of partition
have worked against northern farmers.

Agriculture has a very important part to play in the
North's economy, 80,000 jobs are dependent upon its

In the north the continued link to British farming policy
has been detrimental not beneficial -- from the impact of
the Beef export ban to the delays in making the Single Farm
Payments. Direct Rule is responsible for a spiralling
crisis in agriculture.

Direct Rule has undermined progress in key areas including
the animal health strategy. For example, at a time when UK
produce is viewed throughout the world with suspicion, the
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) have
followed an outdated, restrictive and harmful UK policy
agenda instead of adopting an all Ireland approach to
selling Irish food. Instead they have insisted in labelling
food products and beef as UK.

Despite the north's clean bill of health for many years,
our have farmers suffered massive losses running into tens
of millions of pounds as a result of the beef exports ban.
Millions more were lost in destroying animals over thirty
months as required under British agricultural policy, while
many other European States tested animals over this age to
allow safe animals into the food chain. The South also took
similar steps to test animals over thirty months to allow
them enter the food chain several years ago. Yet the
North's administration has stubbornly refused to seek the
regionalisation of the North's beef industry to be allowed
to test these animals.

Meanwhile there has been no progress on removing UK status
from animals in the north of Ireland. This has compelled
the agricultural industry to take whatever price UK
supermarkets feel like giving them, costing farmers many
millions of pounds. The average beef farm lost in excess of
£5,000 last year, yet Direct Rule Ministers failed to act.

Farmers are now caught in a nightmare scenario of falling
prices and increasing costs. At the same time as our beef
farmers are losing up to £150 per head , they are also
facing huge bills with land rental, contractors and
fertiliser payments due in the same period. Banks have
stopped extending bank overdrafts and started refusing
cheques. Meanwhile the Single Farm Payment for this year
(2005) will probably not be paid until early 2006, and DARD
will not be able to pay our farmers until the Rural
Payments Agency (RPA) has the English, Scottish and Welsh
farmers sorted out. Again due to the fact that the North is
tied to UK policy, and the EU make payments to the UK, we
are unable to move forward until the other UK regions have
calculated their payment entitlements.

The impediments that currently hamper the development of a
proper policy need to be removed to allow farmers to sell a
world-class product for maximum return. They also need
greater ownership and control of an organisation that will
be the advocate for marketing our red meat industry.

Given the loss in farm incomes over many years of Direct
Rule, the hundreds of thousands of pounds wasted and
mismanaged by DARD have had a severe overall impact on
rural communities and their economies.

If these disadvantages weren't enough, Direct Rule has also
stifled an all-Ireland approach to agriculture. In
particular, DARD has ignored the massive potential all-
Ireland marketing would bring to the northern producers,
who could benefit from capitalising on a 'clean green
Irish' brand. In addition, promises made during the
lifetime of the Assembly to create an all-Ireland animal
and plant health policy, have been buried under Direct

Putting it Right: Recognising the damage that being tied to
UK Agriculture policy has done to the local industry Sinn
Fein are committed to the development and implementation of
all-Ireland polices and also a more responsive approach to
the needs of the farming community.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Push ahead with the development and implementation of an
all-Ireland animal health strategy.

- Encourage the development of a clean green brand for all
Irish produce.

- Examine the relationship between farmgate and supermarket

- Campaign for an end to the Beef Ban.

- Support measures to stabilise farmgate prices.

Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.2: No Coherent Plan for Rural

The approach of Direct Rule, Direct Rule Ministers' to
rural development in the north has been piecemeal, with
badly designed programmes that proved worthless to the
objective of improving incomes.

Direct Rule Ministers have shown no real interest in
providing alternative employment in rural areas. If it were
not for innovative European Initiatives, far greater
poverty would exist in our rural communities.

Direct Rule Ministers' poor planning, under-funding and
delay in approving projects has also undermined the
delivery of the Rural Tourism Initiative. This will further
add to the poor economic outlook for rural communities.

Direct rule has led to a hand's off approach in monitoring
the progress of how rural communities are accessing rural
regeneration programmes. Local Delivery structures are
without doubt the best way of regenerating local
communities. Currently the LEADER + programme is the only
rural programme which DARD is responsible for that is a

This is due in no small way to the massive commitment of
local people in their own areas having a say in how
programmes are shaped and delivered. Voluntary directors
are at the forefront of creating hundreds of jobs in their
own areas and responsible for safe guarding many more.

Using the LEADER model of delivery Sinn Féin will seek to
consolidate local delivery into one body within the new RPA
structures, and bring all government departments together
at a regional level so proper resources can be brought to
bear to tackle poverty and social exclusion in rural areas.

Direct Rule Ministers have not got the interest or
commitment to engage in this process, or to challenge their
own civil service about their current policy which has
excluded many hundreds of people from accessing the
assistance for which they are entitled to.

Putting it Right: The development of effective local
delivery mechanisms for a new Rural Development programme
with a strong role of rural communities is a priority.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Prioritise the rollout of a new Rural Development

- Support the development of strong and effective Local
Delivery Structures.

- Support and develop policy to tackle poverty and social
exclusion in rural areas.

II. Direct Rule and Provision of Essential Services

Direct Rule has had a negative impact on the provision of
essential services in two ways. First, the Whitehall
regime's spending cuts have been imposed without regard to
our needs. Second, Direct Rule Ministers have not delivered
on -- and are not prepared to deliver -- the needed
structural reforms that will make these services work
better in the interests of all.

While the negative consequences are in no way limited to
the healthcare and education systems, the impacts on these
two critical services provide an example of the kind of
problems ongoing Direct Rule prevents us from solving

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 1 -- Strangulation of the
Healthcare Service through Under-funding and Inaction

The health service is in need of a massive injection of
funds, which Direct Rule Ministers presently refuse to

Many agree that at least £400m-£500 million of additional
investment is needed on an annual basis over the next
number of years. This investment should come directly
through the promised Peace Dividend, and not through
Public-Private Partnerships, which will only result in
future service cutbacks to meet loan repayments and will
limit future service development.

The healthcare service is also in need of major structural

Without the oversight of a functioning Assembly there is no
prospect of change, only the prospect of the present
situation getting worse.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.1: Stalled Reform of
Healthcare Structures

The reform of healthcare structures in the north is
essential and long overdue.

Sinn Fein reject bureaucratic change under the guise of
efficiency in favour of a true commitment to create real
change in service provision based upon value for money,
quality assurance and increased accessibility;

There is a need for the establishment of a Single Employing
Authority within the health service, the biggest employer
in the Six Counties, to ensure parity in terms and
conditions across the north for all professional and non-
professional staff. There should also be progress in
democratising the health service to involve representation
from staff organisations, public representatives and user
groups in policy, planning and decision-making.

Sinn Féin proposals to end to the confusing layers of
health bureaucracy by scrapping the four separate Health
Boards and establishing a single strategic body to co-
ordinate services ground to a halt under Direct Rule.

Again, since that time nothing significant has been done.

The effectiveness of future healthcare structures should
not also be confined by the border but should be configured
to reflect the needs of communities across the island.

Putting it Right: The lack of equality of access to
healthcare services is the biggest concern for people
throughout Ireland. Removing artificial barriers to access
and the employment of staff must be a priority in
delivering change.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will seek:

- Development of a cross-border network of hospital

- Greater co-ordination in the provision of primary care

- Setting up a Regional Authority under the joint control
of Health Departments north and south.

- Expansion of the cross-border Co-operation and Working
Together (CAWT) model.

- Reform of accreditation procedures to allow for the free
movement of staff throughout the island.

- Establishment of joint training strategies for healthcare

- Harmonisation of child protection policies and the
creation and effective monitoring of a common sex-offenders

- Establishment of cross-border initiatives in relation to
drugs awareness.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.2: The Rise of Waiting

In March 05, there were 49,250 patients still waiting for
hospital treatment. In addition, over 160,000 people are
waiting for an appointment to see a consultant and this
figure reflects a rise of 11.6% over the past year. Yet,
the inpatient waiting list could have been reduced to a
figure of over 130,000 if these patients had seen a
consultant and even half of them had been referred for
inpatient treatment.

In July of this year, it was revealed that some 36% of
available weekday hospital theatre capacity was not being
used. It was estimated that, at least, an additional £50
million, both in terms of personnel and equipment, would
need to be invested to bring that figure up to 100% usage
of exiting hospital theatre capacity.

The inability to recruit and retain specialist medical and
nursing staff across all health Trusts is a major
contributory factor to the rise in hospital waiting lists,
and is also creating unnecessary stress and additional
burdens on existing staff. We need action now, but none is
being taken by Direct Rule Ministers.

Putting it Right: The recruitment and retention of
frontline staff across all healthcare professions must be a
priority. Sinn Féin will continue with our healthcare
reforms and take action against ALL waiting lists as a

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Work for an immediate and significant increase in
resources for the health service.

- Support development of a predictive recruitment strategy
to fill the current vacancy levels for hospital
consultants, anesthetists and specialist nurses.

- Increase the numbers of entrants to medical schools,
nursing and post graduation specialist training programmes.

- Tackle the disgraceful waiting lists for community
services by recruiting increased numbers of Occupational
Therapists, Speech therapists and Physiotherapists.

- Work for the release of immediate funding to end waiting
lists for the dispensing of medicines to persons with life
disabling diseases such as MS.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.3: A Growing Crisis in
Mental Health

Evidence from service users, carers and service providers
point to significant gaps in service provision for people
with mental health needs. Current information, including
that presented by the Review of Mental Health and Learning
Disability, shows persistent and significant under-
investment by the British government in our mental health
services. For whatever reason, Direct Rule Ministers
allocated less funding to our mental health service on a
pro-rata population basis compared with mental health
services in England, Scotland and Wales. On a comparative
pro-rata basis, they short-changed our mental health
services by at least £50 million between 1999 and 2006.

One of the results of this Direct Rule under-funding of
mental health provision has been high levels of pre-mature
and avoidable deaths. More people have died in the Six
Counties as a result of suicides since 1969 than died as a
result of the political conflict.

Putting it Right: It is essential that there is a renewed
focus on mental healthcare reform and an equal allocation
of resources to deliver reform.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Work together with the community and voluntary sectors,
health professionals and others to establish an All-Ireland
Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategy.

- Streamline the mechanism for delivering accountable
funding to the professional sector and to community and
voluntary organisations to initiate quality assured
community-based health projects to deal directly with
suicide and self-harm.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 1.4: Failure to Invest in

The recent creation of a Minister for Children's post is
welcome and vindicates Sinn Féin's position that there
should be a Minster with specific responsibility for
Children and Young People.

However, Direct Rule Ministers have presided over
unacceptable increases in child poverty levels, and have
not been willing to use their power of budgetary allocation
to make the necessary changes.

This new Minister must have adequate powers and resources,
and children and children's services need mainstream
funding denied them by Direct Rule Ministers to build upon
the Sure Start initiatives introduced by Sinn Féin Health
Minister Bairbre de Brún.

Putting it Right: Mainstreaming of Sure Start and adequate
powers and resources for the new Minister for Children must
be part a broader prioritisation of the need of children
and young people.

In a restored Assembly Sinn Féin will:

- Insist that the new Minister for Children has adequate
powers and resources to ensure that the rights of children
and young people are protected and promoted and the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child is speedily

- Pursue additional funding adequate to mainstream Sure
Start into all TSN areas.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 2 -- Stunting of the
Education System and Stalling of Reforms

The damage caused by Direct Rule is particularly evident in
the historic under-funding of our education system compared
to huge investment in the education systems of England and

Successive Direct Rule Ministers have increased the cost of
further and higher education in the north while also
imposing budget restrictions that have eroded the
foundations of our education system in early years
provision through key stage 1 to post-16 entitlement, and
cut school transport and classroom assistant support for
special needs children

The damage caused by under-funding and cuts has now been
compounded by Direct Rule Ministerial moves to privatise
educational entitlement in further and higher education as
well as school services.

Not only have Direct Rule Ministers under-funded our
education system, they have also stalled the reform
programme introduced by Sinn Féin Education Minister Martin

Only a restored Assembly can address our educational needs
with the urgency they deserve.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.1: Failure to Address
Educational Underachievement

Direct Rule under-funding has meant that no adequate action
has been taken to address the fact that 50% of all male
pupils and 33% of all female pupils do not achieve 5 GCSEs
at A* to C, and last year more than 1250 pupils left school
without any GCSEs. A quarter of all school leavers have
poor numeracy and literacy skills.

This catastrophe has been compounded by an appalling
delivery of skills to meet the needs of young people, the
business sector and the economy and a complete failure to
invest in preparation for new post primary transfer
arrangements endangering the development of a comprehensive
post primary education system.

Putting it Right: Early and targeted intervention is the
key to addressing educational under achievement.

In a new Executive Sinn Fein will:

- Promote early intervention programmes and innovative
literacy and numeracy learning schemes, complemented by
extended school programmes, in order to address the current
skills deficit.

- Promote a skills strategy that recognises the starting
point of students while working in partnership with
business and industry to ensure the delivery of
apprenticeship training.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.2: Failure to Address
Special Educational Need

As a result of Direct Rule decisions there are 12,606
children with statements of educational need whose needs
are still not being met. Another 50,548 are on stages 1-5
of the process. For example in one primary school (Good
Shepard PS) amalgamation of two classes has resulted in a
class of 30 children, 18 with special needs, yet only half
have been statemented and half await completion.

Putting it Right: The strategic delivery of services,
including the Centre of Excellence at Middletown, and
investment in early years parenting centres can make a real
difference in addressing Special Educational Need.

In a new Executive Sinn Fein will:

- Use the Assembly to champion the new Special Educational
Needs Order (SENDO) to ensure that resources are available
to meet Statements of Need for medical and emotional
behavioural support.

- Ensure that special needs transport facilities are
available to complement the SENDO while expediting the
Centre of Excellence at Middletown initiated by Education
Minister Martin McGuinness for the strategic delivery
special needs services across the whole island of Ireland.

- Invest in early years parenting centres that offer the
best opportunity to expedite the identification of special
needs while reviewing the current Statementing process.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.3: Failure to Invest to
Offset the Impact of Poverty on Educational Outcomes

Two out of five northern children live in households below
30% of the average income. Yet despite the high level of
need for additional educational supports for such children,
Direct Rule Ministers cut 62 teaching and education support
jobs in one such high-need constituency alone, West

Putting it Right: Poverty is one of the greatest issues
that British Direct Rule has failed to tackle. Child
Poverty must be addressed through early intervention and
the targeting of resources to those most in need. The loss
of both teaching and support staff, particularly from
schools operating in areas of multiple deprivation, only
further undermines support for those most at risk from

In a new Executive Sinn Fein will:

- Make early years provision universally available with
enough resources to ensure early effective detection of
special educational and other family support needs.

- Accelerate the mainstreaming of Sure Start and parenting
centres providing early years provision with a more focused
delivery of health and social service care.

- Ensure quality assured nutritious free school meals for
all children.

- Expand school breakfast programmes.

- Expand after-school projects and homework clubs.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.4: Persistence of Social
Segregation in Education

Academic selection is a system of social segregation that
fails too many of our children, particularly those from
deprived rural and urban areas. However, under Direct Rule
the reforms proposed by Sinn Féin Education Minister Martin
McGuinness have stalled.

Putting it Right: Academic selection has meant that
children, particularly from some of our most disadvantaged
backgrounds, such as the Shankill, have been deemed a
failure at age 11. This is wrong.

In a new Executive Sinn Féin will:

- Promote and invest in the development of comprehensive
schools working in partnership with their feeder early
years and primary schools, FE Colleges, 3rd Level and other
learning facilities, to ensure the integrity of entitlement
and the development of a skills and non-craft skills base
to support the local economy.

- Support comprehensive schools that can deliver vibrant
and exciting opportunities with investment that
acknowledges the social and economic profile of the
community they serve.

- Work towards making every school a good school that
celebrates all intelligences equally.

- Ensure effective implementation of Targeting Social Need

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.5: The Erosion of School

The erosion of school transport in rural areas has
undermined the ability of working parents to sustain
employment, abolished the entitlement to free school
transport while upsetting teaching curriculum. The decision
to end the 2pm Bus Service is risking the health and safety
of children forced to walk home along main arterial routes
were there are no patrol crossings or a even a pedestrian
walkway. This is despite the fact that a child is hurt or
killed on roads every 16 minutes and a survey carried out
by Brake found that 53% of children surveyed say that the
road between home and school is dangerous.

Putting it Right: The provision of school transport that is
safe must be a priority.

In a new Executive Sinn Féin will:

- Promote a socially inclusive school transport system,
which is presently under threat due to cuts.

- Promote legislation for a responsive school transport
system to meet the full range of need from rural to special
needs children and working with colleagues in the DRD will
promote an integrated public transport system.

- Establish standards for safe rotes and safe journeys with
adequate seating that includes seat belts as recommended by
the last Assembly.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.6: Higher Costs of Higher

Top-up fees for higher education students introduced by
Direct Rule Ministers can result in your son or daughter
leaving university with a minimum debt of £30,000. This is
an odious and unfair burden disproportionately affecting
students from lower-income families, who are the very ones
who could most benefit from additional support.

Putting it Right: Access to third level education should
not be determined by the ability to pay.

In a new Executive Sinn Fein will:

- Work to abolish Student Top-Up Fees.

- Use the All-Ireland Institutions to push for the
harmonisation of higher educational entitlement across the

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.9: Failure to Respect the
Educational Rights of Ethnic Minorities

More than 500 pupils from ethnic communities will be denied
English as an additional language education because under
Direct Rule Ministers have removed 18 qualified teachers
from the scheme.

Putting it Right: Children from ethnic minorities have a
right to adequate and appropriate support to ensure that
they benefit equally from educational opportunities.

In a new Executive Sinn Fein will:

- Legislate to ensure strategic delivery of language
development to minority ethnic children for whom English is
a second language, including a ring-fenced budget.

Social Cost of Direct Rule No. 2.10: No Concerted Action to
Tackle Bullying in Schools

Fully 40% of primary school children and more than a third
of secondary school children have been bullied and yet
Direct Rule Ministers have no action plan.

Putting it Right: The effect of Bullying on our children is
immense. The failure to address the problem is an
indictment on Direct Rule.

In a new Executive Sinn Féin will:

- Develop and implement a core Anti-Bullying Strategy based
upon an agreed and uniform Code of Practice underpinned by
the primacy of children's rights and Child Protection.


Search Begins For NI Policing Board Members

The British government today started the search for 10
independent members to sit on a reconstituted Northern
Ireland Policing Board.

Advertisements are being placed in newspapers seeking
applicants to fill the independent seats on the 19 member
board for four years from next April.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said: "These
appointments are some of the most important in Northern

"Government is seeking to continue to build on the policing
board's admirable and considerable work to date.

"We would encourage individuals from all sections of the
community to come forward and apply."

Existing members can reapply, but Professor Sir Des Rea,
the board chairman, remained silent today on whether he was
planning do so. There would be surprise within board
circles if he did not seek to remain.

Deputy chairman Denis Bradley has already said he will
stand down in April.

The primary function of the board is to hold the Chief
Constable and the Police Service publicly to account.

It has a key role in ensuring the provision of an
effective, efficient, impartial and accountable police
service will enjoy the support of all sections of the
Northern Ireland community.

Board members will be expected to give at least four days a
month to the board. They will be paid £15,000 (€22,000) a
year, with additional allowances available.

Dissident republicans have waged a campaign of terror
against independent members, targeting their homes in
petrol bomb attacks and issuing death threats.

Deputy chairman Denis Bradley is still recovering after
suffering head injuries when he was attacked with a
baseball bat in a Derry pub in September.

He had previously been threatened and had his home petrol


Gangland Glamour

The popularity of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland
continues apace. But for some youngsters it is the lure of
fast cars and fast cash that is drawing them in rather than

Laura Haydon
Wednesday November 16, 2005
The Guardian

In a football pavilion in the shadow of Belfast's Black
Mountain, two men in their early 20s stare across the
table. We're sitting in the Greater Shankill, a few hundred
yards from where mayhem erupted when the Orange Order's
Whiterock Parade was rerouted back in September. The
violent scenes are fresh in the young Protestants' minds.
"I can understand why the Roman Catholics hated the police
so much for the last 30 years," says one. "The police
brutality and harassment, we've seen it in our area now -
you felt as if you wanted to stick a knife in a peeler's
[policeman's] back anytime you got a chance."

People say the riots have given a huge boost to the number
of young people joining the paramilitaries. But it's clear,
talking to young men in the Greater Shankill area and
across the city in loyalist east Belfast, that the drive to
recruit the young predates this summer's unrest. The scenes
of violence led the Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain,
to compare loyalist paramilitaries to mafia organisations.
And increasingly, like the mafia, it is hedonism rather
than political ideology that is drawing the young to the

"[The paramilitaries] are not fighting the IRA no more.
They've got different activities now, like selling drugs
and making money," says Neil, from the Shankill. "Obviously
young people would look up and say, 'Well I could drive a
BMW, even if I leave school with no education. I can be one
of them folks.' So I do think that attracts young people."

Brigadier of bling

The rich pickings from protection rackets and drug dealing
have conferred a glamour on paramilitary leaders that is
envied by the disenfranchised young in areas where
educational attainment is low. Jim Gray, the recently
murdered former east Belfast commander of the Ulster
Defence Association (UDA), whose image earned him the name
the "brigadier of bling", was a case in point.

But those who join the gangs rarely get a taste of the high
life. "Maybe one out of 20 gets something out of it," says
Mark, also from the Shankill. "Most of them are running
about as little servants, 'gofers': 'Go do this, go do
that.' They seem to think, 'I'm in with this or that
[brigadier], doing his duties for him,' but he's just
laughing at them." Girls have been sucked in as well. "The
clubs on the Shankill Road are all being run by
paramilitaries," says Neil. "Certain girl's go to certain
clubs and they'll hang around all the top dogs. They think
because they're with certain fellas that people'll respect
them. But they're only a wee trophy."

"It's not about fighting for God and Ulster now," says
Mark. "It's more about gangs - 'This is our turf, we
control this, we get protection money from here. We're in
it for ourselves now.' That's a big shift from what it was
15 years ago."

Young people here recognise that the peace process has
wiped out the distinctive flavour of gangs in working-class
areas of Belfast. Both loyalist and republican
neighbourhoods have more in common with inner-city
Birmingham or Los Angeles than with Belfast a decade ago.
"You look at any country in the world, you've got your
gangs running the working-class areas," says Neil. "It just
happens that in ours it was about religion. Now it's more
of a turf war within our own communities."

Tellingly, a 14-year-old Catholic schoolboy from Lisburn, a
town close to Belfast, appeared in court charged with
joining loyalist rioters to attack the security forces.
Youth workers say this was not an isolated case.

Feuding between the UDA, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
and its splinter group, the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF),
has been corroding loyalist communities for years. Four men
were murdered in July and August this year as the deadly
rivalry between the LVF and UVF reached a climax. News that
the LVF is to stand down is expected to reduce tensions.
But the past five years have seen a race to recruit young
members as each gang vied for control over lucrative drug
and protection deals.

"All these gangs have got their youth wings as well," says
Mark. "So the kids are joining up from 13, 14, 15 - they're
all at school. It's all about gathering the numbers up. You
set up a youth wing, you'll get wee Tommy joins and then
wee Tommy's mates want to join as well. So next minute
you've got 50 young ones. And in a couple of years they're
all men, so your numbers are building."

On the other side of the city in east Belfast, in a network
of streets ruled like petty fiefdoms by local paramilitary
gangs, two 16-year-olds have a similar story to tell. "You
would find out in school who's who and what they'd support
and then that's how you'd choose your mates. You don't want
to be living in a UVF area and running about with an LVF
person," says one lad. "School kids would be wearing UVF
rings and UVF necklaces and they'd have logos drawn on
their bags. The girls think it'd be glamorous to be going
out with men in the gangs."

Up the road in Tullycarnet, the tough estate that spawned
Gray, the local primary school took in just seven pupils
this year. Parents keen to keep their children away from
the influence of paramilitary gangs are bussing them
further afield.

Until recently, children going into the school were faced
with a paramilitary mural showing a grim reaper figure with
a death's head. Frankie Gallagher, a former UDA prisoner,
helped to have it painted over in time for the start of the
school year. It has now been replaced with the portrait of
a Northern Ireland second world war hero, James Magennis,
who won the Victoria Cross. Controversially, he's a

Testing attitudes

"We did something that tested people's attitudes and made
them look at their identity and their local history," says
Gallagher, now a member of the Ulster Political Research
Group, which advises the UDA. "Through education we can
change things. We're getting paramilitaries to sit around
the table and ask themselves, why are we recruiting kids?
What's it for, if the war is over?"

But Gallagher's progressive ideas have yet to penetrate the
darker layers of loyalism. In the Shankill area, the threat
of violence is still driving young men to join up. "People
have been shot so they're joining the UVF or the UDA for
protection. And it's one trying to wipe the other out of
the area," says Neil. "Say I was involved in a fight with
the UDA ones, I'd go and join the UVF and vice-versa." His
mate nods in agreement: "It's a really big factor. A whole
lot of people don't want a bullet in the knee, so they

With the paramilitaries keeping an iron grip on
communities, and a lack of government resources to help the
young, these men believe it could be years before young
working-class Protestants can breathe easy. "All the clubs
on the Shankill Road are run by paramilitaries," says Neil.
"Even if you're not joining, you're always in their clubs,
always on the fringe. So it'd be hard to stay out because
there's nothing really in the communities for us young ones
to do - never was."

· Some names have been changed.


Paisley To Meet Ahern For Talks On Friday

15/11/2005 - 20:06:30 Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian
Paisley will hold crucial talks on Northern Ireland with
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin on Friday, it emerged

Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley will hold
crucial talks on Northern Ireland with Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern in Dublin on Friday, it emerged tonight.

It will be the first time a DUP delegation has held formal
discussions with Mr Ahern since the IRA announced an end to
its 36-year armed campaign in late July and completed
decommissioning of its arms in September.

"The meeting with the DUP is the latest in a round of
discussions between Mr Ahern and Northern Ireland political
parties," said an Irish Government spokesperson.

"The agenda will centre around the need to find consensus
on Mr Ahern's objective to commence Northern Ireland power-
sharing talks in the Spring."

Mr Paisley visited Dublin for the first-ever political
meeting with an Irish head of government in October 2004.

Two months later, a power-sharing deal with Sinn Féin
collapsed because the DUP insisted on visual evidence of


Actions, Not Words

Tuesday 15th November 2005

Nationalists across the North of Ireland will justifiably
react with scepticism to the latest hint from the UDA that
it is moving in a new direction. At the weekend, the
organisation signalled it wanted talks with the British
Government on its future.

Given the murderous and sectarian track record of the
organisation, most observers will want to see deeds as well
as words before giving this latest declaration a
wholehearted welcome. While it may look good on paper, it
must be remembered that actions always speak louder than
words. Nationalists and republicans recall that the 1994
UDA ceasefire, which followed the IRA cessation, eventually
crumbled amid factions, feuding and continuing sectarian
attacks. What the nationalist community wants to hear now
is that the UDA is going to stop attacking and killing
Catholics. Unfortunately, given the past record of the UDA
in telling the truth, many people will be rightly sceptical
of its most recent statement. Indeed, Catholics across
Northern Ireland will take some convincing that the UDA is
turning over a new leaf.

One only has to look at the latest report of the
Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) for evidence of
recent UDA activities. The IMC reveals ongoing involvement
by loyalist paramilitaries in violence and criminality,
including the drugs trade.

What the UDA's latest statement makes no reference to is
the issue of drugs and the organisation. As the dogs in the
street know, the organisation is steeped in drugs crime and
some who sit at its top table are the most heavily
involved. Are we to seriously believe that these
individuals are now willing to change what for them has
been the habit of a lifetime? Ultimately, the UDA statement
will be judged by the effect it has on the ground. If it is
a sign that loyalists groups are going to end their
campaign, then it is obviously a welcome step. However,
people in the communities directly suffering from loyalist
violence will be well advised to treat it with justifiable
scepticism. It is, therefore, up to the UDA to prove the
sceptics wrong.

Sniping From Sidelines The DUP realises that it cannot
stand in the way of change.

The DUP seem to think that they should have a veto on all
change - no matter how sensible. For some reason they
expect to be able to hold up the Good Friday Agreement and
undermine what the people of Ireland voted for. Instead of
getting comfortable with direct rule, they ought to be
getting real about restoring devolution. These self-
absorbed concerns deal a severe blow to people's faith in
the political process and above all in the prospects held
out by the Agreement. And while this procrastination
persists, key decisions about the economy, health,
education and infrastructure investment continue to be made
by direct rule ministers with no mandate and no feel for
the real interests of the people of Northern Ireland.
Unfortunately, there is nothing about the DUP's behaviour
in recent days to suggest that they have learned anything
from the mistakes of the past. Instead, they carry on
raising obstacles and objections to sensible change. The
DUP should provide real leadership for their community by
stepping out of their comfort zone. It's time to ask how
much longer are both government going to tolerate and
indulge this seemingly endless process of delay and more


Unionists United In Protest At Agreement

Stephen Dempster
Tuesday 15th November 2005

IT was 20 years ago today that the Anglo-Irish Agreement
was signed, sparking a crisis on the streets of Northern
Ireland. Political Correspondent STEPHEN DEMPSTER looks
back at what prompted Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to
do the "dirty deal" and unionism's angry response. NEVER,
never, never was the famous battle-cry, as around 100,000
unionists took to the streets of Belfast in 1985 to oppose
the hated Anglo-Irish Agreement.

DUP leader Ian Paisley was in characteristically firebrand
form as he and Ulster Unionist leader James Molyneaux took
to the platform outside City Hall, to address a rally on
Saturday, November 23, 1985. The protest was hastily
convened within days of the cross-border deal being signed
by the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Irish Premier
Garrett Fitzgerald at Hillsborough Castle on November 15 -
giving the Republic a fresh advisory role in the affairs of
Northern Ireland. The signing of the settlement plunged the
Province into crisis as, for the first time in more than 60
years, Dublin would have a say in its governance. In
hindsight, it also changed the political landscape - paving
the way for the peace process and the Belfast Agreement and
delivering a wake-up call to unionists who would never
trust their sovereign Government again. Historians now
record that the seeds of the Anglo-Irish Agreement were
sown during the fall-out from the IRA Hunger Strikes of
1981, as the rise of Sinn Fein alarmed Mrs Thatcher and
prompted her to search for a resolution to the Troubles
which would halt republicans. Sinn Fein had harnessed a
wave of favourable nationalist opinion and took inspiration
from electoral victories such as that of Bobby Sands. A new
political path emerged for republicans, whereby they used
the ballot box, as well as the bomb, to further their

In 1983 Gerry Adams became West Belfast MP and Sinn Fein
President. The UK and Irish governments shared the view
that Sinn Fein's extreme republican ideas could win voters
from the SDLP. Likewise, the SDLP was concerned and
appealed to the Irish Government for support. SDLP leader
John Hume persuaded Dublin to create the New Ireland Forum
- a body for discussing the future of both parts of

It met in the summer of 1983, but all unionists, along with
the British Government and Sinn Fein boycotted it.
Nevertheless the forum published a report in May 1984,
suggesting three scenarios for the future of the island:
(a) a united Ireland (b) a confederation of Northern
Ireland and the Republic (c) joint authority over Northern
Ireland. These pannationalist ideas were abhorrent to
unionism, but were sitting on the table when, on 12
October, 1984, the IRA detonated a bomb at the Grand Hotel,
Brighton, where Mrs Thatcher and her cabinet were staying
during the Conservative Party conference. Five people were
killed, several MPs seriously injured and Mrs Thatcher was
lucky to escape alive. The attack appeared to stiffen the
Iron Lady's resolve and soon after she firmly rejected the
NIF's report with a "No. No. No". However, while Mrs
Thatcher damned the document, she was now of the mind that
some form of settlement must happen before Sinn Fein got
any bigger. In early 1985, secret negotiations began with
the Irish government. The pair succeeded in finding some
form of common ground. The talks became public and in
August 1985, the DUP and UUP set aside their traditional
differences, as Paisley and Molyneaux jointly protested at
Downing Street.

In October, unionists warned there would be a loyalist
backlash if any type of joint-authority was agreed. But on
November 15 1985 the two governments made public their

THE Anglo-Irish Agreement gave the Dublin government a
consultative role in the internal affairs of Northern
Ireland. It basically agreed a much closer working
relationship between the UK and Ireland on issues relating
to the Province. But to unionists UK sovereignty had been
sold down the river. A joint communique was issued after
the deal was signed by Margaret Thatcher and Garret
Fitzgerald, during a media moment at Hillsborough Castle.
It explained that the two countries wished to develop
cooperation "as friendly neighbours". The aims of the
Agreement were to diminish divisions between the
communities in Ulster; achieve lasting peace and stability;
oppose and end the promotion of political objectives by
violence or the threat of violence; and provide the
opportunity for both communities to participate fully in
the structures and processes of government. Fundamentally
the deal said: * UK recognised that the Irish Republic had
a right to make proposals concerning Northern Ireland; *
the two governments were to set up a joint ministerial
conference (with a permanent secretariat at Maryfield on
the outskirts of Belfast) to deal with issues of "mutual
interest" and to help produce a better society in Northern
Ireland; * the Irish Republic recognised that a united
Ireland was a longterm objective and that it could only be
achieved through majority consent. For unionists, all three
fundamentals were objectionable - but it was the first two
which were of greatest concern.

The Maryfield Secretariat was convened on December 11 1985,
close to the Stormont estate. Looking like a new arm of
Government in Northern Ireland, it was home to British and
Irish officials and monitored political, security, legal
and other issues. It had no executive powers and was only
consultative but gave Dublin a firm say in the running of
the Province.

The Agreement said that on political matters, the Irish
government could put forward proposals on behalf of
nationalists, where major legislation or policy was
involved. Upholding human rights, preventing cultural
discrimination and avoiding social and economic
discrimination were to be the Irish goals. Dublin was
granted a say in the composition of various public bodies,
such as the Police Authority and Fair Employment Agency.
Its officials could consider and make their views known on
security policy and prisons. And they could make
recommendations on the running of the courts and appoint of
judges. The Maryfield Secretariat also looked at cross-
border matters of mutual interest, especially in economic
and social areas. For unionists, this was not just a Dublin
role but Dublin rule. It was joint authority in all but
name and the foundation of a framework for a united
Ireland. The response was to be uproar in the political
world and on the streets.


In Dublin: Getting Away With Murder

- Double murder in Dublin brings gangland killings in the
Republic this year to 18, compared to eight for all of last
year - Justice minister Michael McDowell urged to stop
talking and start taking action against scourge of

Zoë Tunney

Dublin murders related to feud

Justice minister Michael McDowell was last night urged to
take urgent action to stop the soaring level of gangland
murders in Ireland.

He faced some tough questioning yesterday following the
double murder of two men in a Dublin suburb on Sunday

The two men were shot at around 10pm as they sat in a in a
car in a cul-de-sac in the Carrigwood estate in Firhouse,
west Dublin.

Their deaths brought to 18 the number of gangland killings
in the Republic this year, compared to eight for all of
last year.

The shootings are believed to have been carried out by a
professional hitman, whose Northern-registered car was
found burned out in nearby Glenvarra Park.

The names of the 26-year-old and 30-year-old victims had
not been released last night.

Detectives said the killing was related to a five-year
drugs feud between rival gangs, which has already claimed
six lives.

Joe Costello, the Labour Party's justice spokesman and TD
for Dublin Central, blamed the justice minister for the
lack of resources being put into tackling gangland crime.

"There has been an increase in this type of sinister and
very violent crime in recent years," Mr Costello told Daily

"A new generation of drug dealers and thugs have been
allowed to exist and take grip of communities.

"I don't blame gardaí. I would go higher than that and
blame Michael McDowell.

"He promised 2000 extra gardaí four years ago and they
haven't materialised yet."

Mr Costello also attacked the minister for placing too much
of an onus on issues that did not directly affect his
political role.

"Our justice minister has an opinion on everything.

"If he would only focus on what is his brief and portfolio,
he would find the streets might be a safer place.

"Michael McDowell talks tough. He is a media performer who
believes, if you talk about an issue long enough, that is
the same as sorting it out.

"He has been very negligent in allowing this to explode
onto the streets of Dublin and Limerick again," Mr Costello

Mr McDowell rejected claims of an upsurge in gangland
crime. He said the Garda's Operation Anvil had seized more
than 150 firearms and was getting record resources.

"All I can say is the gardaí are putting every resource
possible into cracking open the gangs behind this feud and
preventing them from doing any more damage," he said.

Mr McDowell said he would look into the significance, if
any, of the Northern-registered car used in the murder of
the two men in Dublin.

He said the blue-coloured five series BMW had been
"sourced" in the North last Thursday.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described the double murder as

He said new legislation would give gardaí and the courts
extra powers to tackle gangland crime.

He added: "With gangland killings, it's not so much the
legislation, it is the brutality that these people


Sinn Féin Welcome For International Fund Extension

Published: 15 November, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the decision of
the US Administration to donate EUR12miliion into the
International Fund for Ireland for distribution next year.

Ms de Brún said:

" This year marks the 20th anniversary of the International
Fund for Ireland. In that time it has contributed to a
variety of important projects both in the six counties and
the border areas. The EU, Australia, New Zealand, Canada
and US have all contributed to this important fund in that

" Today's announcement that the US have agreed to invest
EUR12 million into the IFI for distribution next year is
obviously welcome news. We need now to ensure that the
other contributing countries follow this lead.

" I will be travelling to Australia and New Zealand next
week and part of that trip will be to lobby for an
extension of the International Fund monies from those

" All of us in political leadership need to concentrate on
consolidating the progress made in recent times and
building upon it. Part of that work must be to ensure Peace
III funding from the EU, a continuation of the IFI and the
securing of a genuine peace dividend from the British and
Irish government to underpin the work of any future power
sharing executive." ENDS


Constance Markievicz

Moira Nolan opens our series on women who fought back with
a portrait of Irish revolutionary Constance Markievicz

Like most people educated in Britain, I was taught that the
Tory ruling class that had opposed votes for women so
vehemently nevertheless produced the first woman MP in 1919
— Nancy Astor.

When I was told this I challenged my teacher, arguing that
Constance Markievicz was elected as Sinn Fein MP for St
Patrick's Dublin in 1918. I was told she did not count,
because she never took her seat in Westminster.

Of course, nobody ever explained why Constance Markievicz
refused to take her seat.

Along with 72 other Sinn Fein MPs elected in Irish seats
that year, Markievicz refused to recognise the right of
Westminster to rule over Ireland.

She viewed her election as part of the powerful campaign to
overturn 400 years of British occupation.

Markievicz was a revolutionary socialist and leading figure
in the Irish Republican movement during the critical years
of the early 20th century.

She was an unlikely revolutionary, born Lady Constance
Gore-Booth into a class of aristocratic British landlords
determined to keep Ireland firmly under their rule.

But a combination of her personal experience of oppression
and her revulsion at contemporary political events led
Markievicz away from her background and into the movement
for change.

Her constant frustration at the restrictions placed on
women in Victorian society led her to join the women's
suffrage movement.

And her anger at the brutality of British imperialism
during the Boer War in South Africa led her to define
herself as Irish and join Sinn Fein at the age of 40 in

Markievicz — now married to a Polish count involved in the
revival of Gaelic culture — began to see how the struggle
for women's equality had to be connected to the movement
for Irish independence. "There can be no free women in an
enslaved nation," she declared.

Markievicz worked closely with James Connolly, a dynamic
socialist thinker and leader of the Irish Transport and
General Workers' Union (ITGWU).

This experience helped clarify her ideas about how the
various causes she championed – especially equality for
women and justice for Dublin's poor — could be linked
through the wider struggle for socialism.

Connolly and Markievicz both understood how national
liberation could only be fully achieved in Ireland through
working class struggle.

Markievicz's work in helping to organise the ITGWU earned
her honorary membership of the union — and at least one
severe beating at the hands of the Dublin police, when she
helped protect ITGWU activists during the 1913 Dublin

But the union was starved into submission after Irish and
British bosses combined to break its campaign to improve
pay and conditions. This strengthened the hand of anti-
socialist elements in the national liberation movement.

Nevertheless Markievicz and others still tried to maintain
a separate workers' organisation in that struggle, mindful
that otherwise the Irish Republic would only offer limited
gains to ordinary people.

Connolly's Irish Citizen Army was the only armed
organisation that allowed women to fight as equals
alongside men in the 1916 Easter Rising. Markievicz served
as second-in-command throughout the battle at St Stephen's
Green in the centre of Dublin.

Most of the rising's leaders were executed by the British.
Markievicz escaped the death penalty because she was a

Instead she served the first of numerous prison sentences
in her struggle to free Ireland. Thousands turned out to
greet her return to Dublin from an English jail.

The harsh repression that followed 1916 only served to
build sympathy for the Republican cause. A widescale
guerilla campaign developed that led to the compromise of
an Irish Free State with six counties left under British

Markievicz spoke against the acceptance of the Free State,
not least because the very bosses who had attacked Dublin's
workers in 1913 supported it wholeheartedly.

Even after the defeat of Republicans in the bloody civil
war that followed, Markievicz's last campaigns were against
the repressive measures brought in during the "carnival of
reaction" of partition.

Despite the relative weakness of socialists within the
Irish movement, and her own conversion to a form of
Catholic nationalism, Markievicz continued to campaign for
workers' rights till the bitter end.

© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You
may republish if you include an active link to the original
and leave this notice in place.


Rock Legends Were Chased By Car

By Brian Hutton
15 November 2005

Legendary Irish rock band Horslips may have narrowly
escaped the same tragic fate as the Miami Showband thirty
years ago, former band members have revealed.

The band has spoken about how they believe they came close
to a massacre during one of the darkest periods of the

In a new DVD, The Return of the Dancehall Sweethearts, the
rockers tell how one night in 1975 as they were returning
from a gig in Banbridge, they were almost ambushed.

It was the same year three members of the Miami Showband -
lead singer Fran O'Toole, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy -
were murdered by the UVF, and Horslips were at the height
of their fame.

"There was a ballroom called the Central in Banbridge. When
we drove into town, the police came out to meet us and said
to us, 'Just go in the back and stay there, if you don't
mind'," said the band's Tyrone-born bass player Barry

"There was a very odd atmosphere about. It was the first
time I'd really been scared playing the North.

"When we went on stage a riot broke out in the hall," he

According to Devlin, when they came off stage a full-scale
riot was under way and the RUC escorted the band seven
miles outside the town before sending them on their way to

He recalls: "About three miles further on, we passed a side
road and there was a car parked in there with its
sidelights on and, as we passed, it switched on its
headlights and came out and it was evident it was coming
after us."

Drummer Eamonn Carr remembers being petrified as the band
sped along a dark, country road with suspected
paramilitaries giving chase.

"When I first spotted the car behind us I said to Barry, 'I
think the cops want us to slow down' and he said, 'They are
not the cops'."

Devlin continued: "Now we're doing 90 miles an hour at this
stage, which was really scary, and they began hitting us."

The band believe that a grim conclusion to the episode was
averted when they pulled into Loughbrickland, to meet an
Army patrol coming at speed the other way.

Devlin said: "The guys behind us obviously panicked and
went up the hill. By the time they turned around and came
back down, we were gone."


Irish 'Breakfast On Pluto' Is Tasty

A breakthrough role for 'Red Eye' star Cillian Murphy as a


By John Hartl
Film critic

Updated: 2:23 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2005

Among other things, Neil Jordan's rambling, irresistibly
whimsical new movie, "Breakfast on Pluto," makes mincemeat
of the idea that torture is effective.

Accused of being a terrorist at a London club bombing, the
transvestite hero, Patrick (Cillian Murphy), is coerced
into a confession that leads the authorities nowhere. Using
his favorite perfume as a deadly spray, he imagines himself
kicking away his adversaries, triumphing over them with a
lethal flick of the wrist.

It's pure fantasy, though it's based on fact. Patrick did
once use perfume spray to disarm one of his more aggressive
tricks (Bryan Ferry), and he can't resist expanding on the
episode for the benefit of his interrogator (Ian Hart).
Furious when he realizes he's been had, Hart's character
can't resist the kid's charm and resilience, and he even
helps him find a way to make himself employable.

A foster child who longs to find his mother, Patrick can't
abide what he calls the "very, very serious" side of life
in 1970s Ireland: bombings, betrayals, gun-running, IRA
politics. He compensates by creating a rich gender-bender
persona. In the process, he makes himself indispensable in
the lives of a kindly priest (Liam Neeson), an outwardly
macho singer(Gavin Friday), a silly magician (Stephen Rea)
and a pregnant pal (Ruth Negga).

Essential to Patrick's alternative view of reality is
trashy pop music, everything from "Love Is a Many-
Splendored Thing" to "The Windmills of Your Mind" to "How
Much Is That Doggie in the Window?," which drive the
stupefyingly eclectic soundtrack. No introduction, no
seduction, is complete without an accompanying ballad,
preferably one that makes you squirm when you realize you
remember every word.

Based on a 1998 novel by Patrick McCabe (who also wrote the
book that inspired Jordan's "The Butcher Boy"), Jordan and
McCabe's screenplay is an uneven blend of brutality and
comedy. It flirts with Disney-cute touches (gossipy robins
are provided with subtitles) and it doesn't always have
enough narrative material to justify its 134-minute running

At the same time, major actors such as Brendan Gleeson and
Eamonn Owens (the "Butcher Boy" himself) appear to have
been left on the cutting-room floor. They stop in for
cameos, then they're gone. Even Rea, the standout in the
supporting cast, has less to do than you might expect.

Yet the movie clicks as a vehicle for Murphy, whose
otherworldly looks made him such a scary villain in "Red
Eye" and "Batman Begins" — and so convincing as a zombie
killer in "28 Days Later." This is clearly his breakthrough
role, and he's fearlessly goofy in it. Whether Patrick is
clashing with authority or hooking up with a rockabilly
band or becoming a magician's assistant, Murphy suggests
the character's ready-for-anything playfulness as well as
his vulnerability. (Conor McEvoy, who plays Patrick as a
cross-dressing 10-year-old, is also a live wire.)

"Breakfast on Pluto" often suggests an Irish variation on
the Off-Broadway rock musical, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
And just as every "Hedwig" production depends on a dynamic
Hedwig to carry it, Jordan's movie has the Patrick it

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