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December 25, 2005

Ahern: Peace Process Priority in 2006

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 12/25/05 Peace Process The Priority In 2006 - Ahern
IO 12/25/05 Anglcn Primate: 'Desperate For New Vision'
DI 12/25/05 Opin: End Economic Veto
IO 12/25/05 Families In Omagh Bomb Inquiry Plea
BB 12/25/05 Mass Held Outside Closed Church
IO 12/25/05 Coastguard Urges Care In Christmas Water


Peace Process The Priority In 2006 - Ahern

Last updated: 25-12-05, 11:27

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today said securing lasting
peace in Northern Ireland would remain the most
important part of his work in the New Year.

As Mr Ahern extended Christmas wishes to the nation,
he said 2006 would see the development of better
infrastructure, better public services and better
opportunities for young people.

"I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a
happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. Christmas is
traditionally a time when families and communities
come together to celebrate a special and significant
occasion in Irish life and I hope that everyone gets a
well-deserved break," he said.

Mr Ahern also paid tribute to Ireland's peacekeeping
forces working abroad ahead of World Peace Day next

"This festive season I want to extend also my good
wishes to everyone who will be working in our accident
and emergency services and to those keeping vital
public services running efficiently over the Christmas
period," he said.

"I want to ask people to take the time to check on
older the neighbours who may be living on their own.
So I wish everyone a very happy Christmas, and a
prosperous and healthy 2006."

© 2005


Anglican Primate: North 'Desperate For New Vision'

25/12/2005 - 10:04:52

The Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Robin Eames
has said that the North faces immense questions about
the sort of society it wants to be.

Delivering his Christmas address at Saint Patrick's
Cathedral in Armagh, Archbishop Eames asked the people
of Northern Ireland whether they honestly want to put
the past behind them and move forward.

He suggested that people may be content with lurching
from one crisis to another, and said the North was
desperate for a new vision.


Opin: End Economic Veto

Editor: Colin O'Carroll

Nine times more jobs — 93,000 — were created south of
the Border than were created in the six counties last
year, another indication that Peter Hain was right on
the money when he predicted economic meltdown for the
North if it couldn't embrace an all-island future.

Though yesterday's announcement by Mr Hain of fresh
investment in the northwest is to be welcomed, it
doesn't hide the fact that while the six counties lag
behind the rest of the country, certain areas lag more
than others.

That's why the unveiling of the ILEX NorthWest
Regeneration plan yesterday was given the thumbs-up by
all those who wish to see historic imbalances which
favour unionist districts redressed. Moreover, moves
to transform former British army bases in Derry from
symbols of violence to symbols of peace and prosperity
as part of the plan are particularly welcome — even if
overdue. Sinn Féin's Mithcel McLaughlin is right to
point out that there is a historic opportunity now to
develop Derry as the natural hub for the entire
northwest, unencumbered by British political or
economic borders.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan, meanwhile, has stated that
the enduring east-west imbalance is not an accident
and has called for an end to geo-political
discrimation by the economic development agencies. He
has also called for more steps to improve cross-border
trade and investment on the basis that unhindered
business will do more on its own to drive prosperity
and employment than a dozen Stormont quangos.

The maths is simple: economic growth rates south of
the Border are a robust 4.5 per cent but in the North
growth levels are unlikely to be much higher than the
faltering British average of 1.7 per cent.

However, all the efforts of political and business
leaders will come to nought if the senior civil
servants in the North charged with economic
development remain resolutely opposed to the
regeneration of nationalist communities.

In recent years, there have been some champions for
the developing communities — both nationalist and
unionist — within Invest NI. Among those was Derry
academic Terri Scott who was also the most prominent
Catholic in Invest NI. Last week, she took her leave
of the agency and will take on the job of CEO at the
new Tony Ryan School of Entrepreneurship in Dublin
City University. Her departure will certainly be a
blow to efforts to transform the sectarian image of
Invest NI.

The incoming Invest NI Chairman Stephen Kingon, a
respected business leader and longstanding advocate of
cross-border business activity, will have his work cut
out for him if he wishes to convince communities west
of the Bann that they figure anywhere on the 'to do'
lists at Invest NI.

However, the ILEX plan unveiled yesterday demonstrates
that the community in the northwest is on the march
and that while Invest NI has a role to play in the
regeneration of the area — as evidenced by the 300 job
boost at Seagate Technologies announced yesterday —
senior civil servants have no longer a veto on the
region's regeneration.


Families In Omagh Bomb Inquiry Plea

25/12/2005 - 10:57:29

Relatives of the victims of the Omagh bombing are to
put new pressure on Northern Ireland Human Rights
Chief Commissioner Monica McWilliams to back demands
for a full cross-border inquiry.

The families of the dead are to meet her in Belfast
for the first time next month, as well as Garda
Commissioner Noel Conroy.

They want a full hearing to take into account evidence
from both sides of the border, and have also contacted
the Human Rights Commission here to seek their

British Prime Minister Tony Blair already told the
group that such a public investigation must wait until
all criminal prosecutions have been concluded.


Mass Held Outside Closed Church

People campaigning for the reopening of a north
Belfast church have celebrated Christmas on the street
with a Mass outside St Joseph's in Sailortown.

The church was closed in February 2001 by the Catholic
Bishop of Down and Connor, but services have been held
every Sunday since.

Organisers said 150 attended the Mass, celebrated by
Father Des Wilson.

Gerry Gallagher of the Save St Joseph's Campaign said
the congregation had bonded despite adversity.

"It may seem strange to some people that we are having
a Mass of celebration, given the fact that our church
remains closed, but we have much to celebrate and
there are few better days to do so than Christmas
itself," he said.

"St Joseph's has been the spiritual heart of
Sailortown for more than 130 years and was bought and
paid for by the people of this area.

"We are simply asking for what is ours by right."

St Joseph's is a grade B listed building and under the
protection of the Department of the Environment, but
urgent repairs are needed if it is to survive yet
another winter.

Mr Gallagher said: "The Catholic Church and the
statutory body concerned have an obligation to
maintain this church and we are calling on both to
fulfil those duties and to do so publicly."

In 2001, the Catholic Church said the church near
Belfast docks had to close because there was no longer
a sustainable local community in the Sailortown area.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/25 11:29:37 GMT


Coastguard Urges Care In Water This Christmas

25/12/2005 - 11:59:18

The Coastguard has called for care to be taken by
water sport enthusiasts during the Christmas period.

Tragedy has struck at this time of year before on
cliffs, rivers and lakes and at sea.

Many are expected to take advantage of the holidays
for popular pursuits such as canoeing, yachting and
jet skiing.

A Coastguard spokesman said the calm weather can lull
people into a false sense of security.

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