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December 30, 2005

Calls To Put Direct Rulers Out of Work

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News about Ireland & the Irish

DI 12/30/05 Calls To Put Direct Rulers Out Of Work
DI 12/30/05 Adams' Rejects Calls From US Over PSNI
GU 12/30/05 Unionists Warn Hain Over Devolution
IT 12/31/05 Fugitive Bill Now Requires 'Major Surgery'
CB 12/30/05 Church Minister Among Those Honoured
DI 12/30/05 Academic Chronicles Life Of Hunger Striker
IT 12/31/05 Taoiseach To Get Fifth Pay Rise In Six Months
IT 12/31/05 1975: Hume Urged Effort To Destroy IRA
IT 12/31/05 1975: Paisley Said Brits Tried To 'Buy Off IRA'
IT 12/31/05 1975: Mcivor Wanted End To 11-Plus System
DI 12/30/05 Opin: Political Potential Must Be Grasped
DI 12/30/05 Opin: Time For Duped To Admit Flaws In Policing
DI 12/30/05 Opin: That Was Another Year That Was.....


Calls To Put Direct Rulers Out Of Work

Governments and Sinn Féin appeal for fresh impetus to peace

David Lynch

The North's political institutions must be revived in 2006
the two governments and Sinn Féin urged last night.

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness warned that
responsibility for restoring devolved power in the North
rests solely with the Irish and British governments while
the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern and Direct Rule Secretary of
State, Peter Hain, urged republican and unionist parties to
redouble their efforts to restore the North's Assembly and
political institutions enshrined in the Good Friday

All three appealed for fresh impetus in the stalled Peace

Direct-rule Secretary of State, Peter Hain, challenged
republicans and unionists to put direct-rule ministers in
the North "out of work" in 2006.

But Sinn Féin chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, claimed
the onus was on London and Dublin to produce a blueprint
for a political settlement.

The Mid Ulster MP said: "Given the enormous events of this
year with the IRA's decision to formally end its armed
campaign, there is an expectation among the people of
Ireland, that the Irish and British governments will bring
forward a plan in early 2006 to see the restoration of
power-sharing institutions in the north.

"Sinn Féin wants to see the political institutions

"We want to be there with the other parties working in the
interests of the people and being accountable and
answerable to the electorate.

"It is time for both the Taoiseach and the British prime
minister to grasp the momentum created by the IRA ending
its armed campaign and decommissioning its weapons during

Mr Hain had earlier said: "Unionists need to know that
republicans are serious about the commitments given in the
Good Friday Agreement that they will work through
exclusively lawful means. Republicans and nationalists need
to know that unionists are serious about the commitments
they have given that they will share power on a genuinely
equitable basis."

The Taoiseach reflected on a year of dramatic political
developments and expressed satisfaction at progress in the
peace process. He said he wanted to see devolved power up-
and-running again in the new year.

"I think, over the last few years, we have achieved an
enormous amount in Northern Ireland, but sometimes it has
been too slow. We had two huge successes in recent months.
In July, the IRA announced the cessation of all its
military and armed activity, it is the first time in 30
years that we have seen the end of that and we have seen
the end of that," said Mr Ahern.

"The International Monitoring Commission at the end of
January has to make the judgement how they see the promise
that the IRA made in July. And secondly, in September, we
got the IRA decommissioning their entire armoury. If the
IMC state that this is credible that it has happened then
it will allow Tony Blair and myself to get the parties
together in meaningful discussions that will hopefully lead
to the restoration of the Northern Assembly, the executive
and the North-South bodies. And sometime in 2006, the
earlier the better. We have moved Northern Ireland from a
place of daily killing; it is now a more stable place, but
that was done on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement
where parties would share power together in a cross-
community basis."


Adams' Rejects Calls From US Over PSNI

SF dismisses claim that areas will fall into lawlessness
unless party embraces police

Connla Young

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has defended his party's
position on policing after it was strongly criticised by US
Special Envoy to Ireland Mitchell Reiss.

Speaking to a US-based newspaper last week, Mr Reiss
suggested that nationalist areas in the North would fall
into lawlessness unless Sinn Féin gave its backing to the
PSNI, despite the fact that many of these areas have been
self-policed since partition.

However, Gerry Adams hit back at George Bush's man in the
North by accusing him of being "soft" on unionists and
ignoring loyalist violence.

In a strong rebuttal, the Sinn Féin leader said the US
envoy's remarks were offensive and claims of increased
lawlessness in nationalist areas have no proof to support

Mr Adams also described the US envoy's remarks as
"unhelpful and partisan".

"The fact is, the North of Ireland has the second lowest
crime rate in Europe, it is less than half of the average
in Britain. There is no 'rampant crime' in nationalist or
republican communities. On the contrary, the nationalist
and republican people are good, decent people who, despite
not having had a proper police service, have remained law-

"Republicans and nationalists will not be badgered or
forced into accepting less than the new beginning to
policing promised under the Good Friday Agreement. This
agreement addressed the issue of policing for a very good

"The RUC was never a police service. It was a political
paramilitary militia, which engaged in the most disgraceful
abuse of human rights which included torture and murder.

"Those who were at the heart of this malign force – the
Special Branch – are still active within the new policing
service. Witness the deliberate, planned overthrow of a
democratically elected government by these elements three
years ago and their use of agents within Sinn Féin."

The Sinn Féin leader said he has high hopes for progress in
the new year.

"Making progress and resolving issues like policing are
shared goals. We need to work together to achieve them. I
hope also that President Bush's administration returns to
the successful and even-handed policies which helped create
the peace process in the first place."


Unionists Warn Hain Over Devolution

Press Association
Friday December 30, 2005

The Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain, was today told
to face up to the reality that unionists will not re-enter
a devolved government under the same conditions as operated
before the suspension of the Stormont assembly three years

Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds was responding to an
ultimatum from Mr Hain for Northern Ireland politicians to
make meaningful progress in 2006.

The North Belfast MP said: "Peter Hain has allowed Sinn
Féin a veto over political developments, stymieing any form
of devolution or political movement which does not involve
an executive with Sinn Féin.

"After the Northern Bank robbery and other evidence that
republicans simply cannot be trusted, the government and
others refused to accept any proposal for local democracy
or accountability because they wanted to wait on Sinn Féin.

"It's time Peter Hain woke up and smelt the coffee.

"Yes, we do want devolution and local decision-making by
local assembly members but the old-style executive
devolution with Sinn Féin in cabinet positions is not on
the horizon."

In July, British and Irish government hopes of a political
breakthrough in Northern Ireland rose when the IRA
announced it was standing down all its units and had
ordered them to dump arms.

That was followed in September by the completion of the
Provisionals' disarmament programme.

However, the Democratic Unionists and their leader, the
Reverend Ian Paisley, have insisted confidence-building
measures will have to be introduced for the unionist
community before they can even contemplate going into talks
to revive devolution.

Unionists have reacted cautiously to the IRA's recent moves
and have insisted they want proof that the transformation
in republicanism is genuine before they will consider going
back into a power-sharing executive with Sinn Féin.

Officials in London and Dublin hope a report at the end of
next month by the four-member independent monitoring
commission will demonstrate that the IRA is sticking to its
word and that it will provide a springboard for talks to
revive devolution in 2006.

Mr Hain warned in his new year's message today that there
would be little point in having elections to an assembly in
2007 if there was no meaningful devolution.

He said unionists needed to know republicans were serious
about their commitments to totally lawful means.

But he also acknowledged that nationalists wanted to know
unionists were serious about sharing power on a genuinely
equitable basis.

The British and Irish governments' bid to revive devolution
has been complicated in recent weeks by the dramatic
collapse of a spying case against three men accused of
intelligence gathering for republicans at Stormont in 2002
and the revelation that one of them, Sinn Féin official
Denis Donaldson, was working as an agent for the British
intelligence services within the party.


Fugitive Bill Now Requires 'Major Surgery'

Proposed legislation to deal with paramilitary fugitives
or on-the-runs will require "major surgery", the Northern
Secretary has said. Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor,

The Northern Ireland Offences Bill, which aims to resolve
the question of those who were on the run and not covered
by the prison release scheme, is now opposed by all
Northern parties including Sinn Féin.

Peter Hain acknowledged that the Bill cannot continue its
parliamentary passage "in its current form" and would
require significant amendment.

In Dublin, the Government has said its plan to grant
pardons to on-the-runs would not go ahead if the British
legislation failed.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday, Mr Hain said he did
not know what changes he would make and he would consider
the options in the weeks ahead.

"Now that Sinn Féin have done a U-turn and said they don't
want the Bill anymore as it covers the security forces, as
it always would have had to without some extraordinary
clause exempting them . . . we simply can't proceed with
the Bill in its current form." He said the Bill was widely
criticised by opposition parties and senior MPs, including
Mr Hain's predecessor Paul Murphy. "It will need major
surgery, I'm very clear about that," Mr Hain said.

"But I am very reluctant to kill the Bill as people are
asking me to, when that would leave unresolved this issue
of on-the-run suspects never having to account for their
actions . . . [ and] for victims to know that there is some
end to it as well," he added.

"People will have to decide whether we bring an end to the
past, in particular that victims receive some kind of
acknowledgement and there is accountability for what was
done, or whether we continue to be looking over our
shoulders rather than moving forward to a new future."

Mr Hain also referred to unionist criticism of his call for
political progress between the DUP and Sinn Féin within the
next 12 months, or the next Assembly elections, set for May
2007, will be scrapped.

He said public opinion demanded that Assembly members make
common cause for the sake of Northern Ireland. "It's a
question of voters saying to them, 'if we are paying your
salaries, we expect you to do your job'."

But Peter Robinson warned Mr Hain there was "less trust at
the end of 2005 than there had been at the beginning of the
year" between the DUP and republicans.

Both governments want all-party talks to begin if the next
report by the IMC ceasefire watchdog confirms the IRA is
inactive. Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin said Mr Hain's
government should "lift their unilateral suspension of the
institutions tomorrow".

Seán Farren of the SDLP said the two governments "must
press ahead to restore the institutions of the Good Friday

© The Irish Times


Church Minister Among Those Honoured

Published on 31/12/2005

A former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church has been
honoured by the Queen for efforts to bridge the sectarian
divide in Northern Ireland.

The Rev Ken Newell, a minister in Fitzroy Presbyterian
Church in Belfast since 1976, will receive an OBE for
services to community relations.

The 62-year-old Presbyterian minister has been at the
forefront of initiatives by Protestant and Catholic
clergymen to heal sectarian divisions during and after the

Working with Catholic priests in west Belfast's Clonard
Monastery he took part in groundbreaking secret talks with
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in September 1990 in a bid
to bolster efforts to secure a ceasefire.

His ecumenism has been fiercely criticised by some
Protestant clergy, with the Rev Ian Paisley's Free
Presbyterian Church particularly critical.

The Queen has also awarded an OBE to Lady Ann Eames, a
member of Northern Ireland's Human Rights Commission and
the wife of the Anglican Primate of all-Ireland, Archbishop
Robin Eames for services to the community.

OBEs have also been awarded to Patrick Yu, executive
director of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic
Minorities and the headmaster of Methodist College in
Belfast, Thomas Wilfred Mulryne.

Veteran actress, Olivia Nash, familiar to television
viewers in Northern Ireland for her role as Ma in the BBC
sitcom 'Give My Head Peace', will receive an MBE for her
work in drama and for charity.

Northern Ireland's sole knighthood will go to one of the
province's wealthiest men, Dr Allen McClay who founded the
pharmaceutical company Galen Holdings and who is a major
benefactor for Queen's University.

Two serving councillors and one former councillor have also
been included on the list.

Democratic Unionist councillor Wilfred McFadden, who has
been a member of Banbridge District Council for 33 years,
will receive an MBE.

MBEs have also been awarded to the DUP Mayor of Ballymena,
Tommy Nicholl, who has served on the council for 24 years
and a former founder member of the cross community Alliance
Party, Susan O'Brien who was a North Down councillor for 24
years until her retirement in May.

Eight members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland
were included on the honours list.

The highest honour goes to Mark Evans, director of
analytical services, who will be the recipient of an OBE
for reviewing and streamlining systems and structures
within the PSNI.

Chief Inspector Genny Belton, a police officer for 27
years, retired police officer Sgt Adrian Lindsay who was
based in Newry, retired Constable Brian Hedley who worked
in Larne and Reserve Constable Billy McCahon, a part-time
officer for more than 31 years in Armagh, will receive

The Queen's Police Medal has been awarded to three people.

They are Superintendent Gary Stewart, a police officer for
25 years who has recently been involved in the cold case
review team looking into unsolved murders from the
Troubles, Detective Inspector Robin McKernan who has worked
for 31 years in Londonderry and Strabane and Constable
Richard Sterritt, a qualified marksman and police officer
for 28 years.

The first female superintendent in the Royal Ulster
Constabulary, who helped secure the RUC George Cross
Memorial Garden and has been involved in police welfare
work, Cathleen Carlisle was awarded an MBE.

Other recipients of the MBE include Pearl Hassard, the
president of the Girls Brigade Northern Ireland, George
Doherty a tug captain who has berthed over 1600 ships in
his role as the longest serving employee of Londonderry
Port and Harbour Commissioners and Hugh Paul, the Lifeboat
boathouse manager in Newcastle, Co Down.

Barry Weir


Academic Chronicles Life Of Hunger Striker

A powerful new biography of Bobby Sands, penned by a
Belfast academic, has gone on sale on

Nothing But An Unfinished Song: Bobby Sands, The Irish
Hunger Striker Who Ignited A Generation is the first
comprehensive study into the life of the republican icon
who died on hunger strike in 1981.

Using meticulous research carried out over many years,
original interviews and published material, author Denis
O'Hearn paints a picture of an IRA volunteer who was both
enigmatic and charismatic.

Born in New Mexico, USA, of Irish and Native Alaskan
ancestry, Denis O'Hearn has been a leading light in
economic and community regeneration efforts in Belfast for
the past three decades. He is now a professor of social and
economic change at Queen's University Belfast.

Nothing But An Unfinished Song charts Bobby Sands' early
years in Rathcoole through his early involvement with the
IRA, his politicisation in the Cages of Long Kesh and then
his release and re-capture.

"The bulk of the book deals with his prison ordeal on the
blanket in the H-Blocks and his decision to lead the hunger
strike which caused his death in May 1981.

Say publishers Nation Books: "Bobby Sands' remarkable life
and death have made him the Irish Che Guevara. He is an
enduring figure of resistance whose life has inspired
millions around the world. But until the publication of
Nothing But An Unfinished Song, no book has adequately
explored the motivation of the hunger strikers, nor
recreated this period of history from within the prison

Among those interviewed in the book are former prison
comrades of Bobby Sands as well as prison warders, priests
and politicians caught up in the hunger strike of 1981. The
author received the co-operation of the Bobby Sands Trust
and he thanks the hunger striker's sister Marcella for her
help with the book.

"To the Sands family I send deepest regrets," says Denis O'
Hearn in his acknowledgments.

"None of us can begin to know the deep hurt you have
experienced. I hope you find peace and that in some way it
will help for Bobby's story to be finally told."

Nothing But An Unfinished Song is currently on sale in the
US and on, but will not be released in Ireland
until March 1, the 25th anniversary of the start of Bobby
Sands' fateful hunger strike.

The book is available from at a price of $18.48
(€15.60, £10.70) plus postage.


Taoiseach To Get Fifth Pay Rise In Six Months

The Taoiseach will benefit from an annual pay rise of
€5,500 from tomorrow, the fifth salary increase for him and
his Ministers in six months. Stephen Collins, Political
Correspondent, reports.

The increase of 3.5 per cent, which will bring Bertie
Ahern's salary to over €252,000, is the second phase of an
interim special pay award for higher public servants.
Others who will benefit are Ministers, senior civil
servants, heads of semi-State companies, county managers
and judges.

The latest rise will mean that Mr Ahern's salary has
increased by almost €25,000 in less than a year through a
combination of public service pay rounds, benchmarking and
special awards. The increase for the Taoiseach and his
Ministers began on June 1st last with a 1.5 per cent pay
rise under Sustaining Progress. This applied to both their
TD salary and their much bigger office-holder's allowance.

On the same day they also received the last phase of the
benchmarking award of just over 3 per cent on their TD

A month later the Taoiseach and his Ministers got the first
phase of an interim special pay award. This increase of
3.75 per cent was designed to compensate senior public
servants who did not qualify for benchmarking and was also
applied to ministerial allowances.

On December 1st, the Government received the second 1.5 per
cent phase of Sustaining Progress in line with the rest of
the public service. This award was paid on the basis of
"verified" improvements in flexibility and productivity,
and Ministers got the increase both on their TD pay and
their office-holder's allowance.

Tomorrow's pay rise is the second phase of the special pay
award and comes to 3.5 per cent. It will apply to
ministerial allowances and not to the basic pay of TDs.

The Taoiseach and his Ministers have accumulated the two
special awards to compensate them for a loss of relativity
with TDs, who benefited from benchmarking though they also
benefited from the benchmarking process on the TD portion
of their pay.

The latest increases mean that Tánaiste Mary Harney's total
pay will be €216,694; Attorney General Rory Brady will earn
€202,020; and Ministers will be on €198,921.

Ministers of State will also get the special pay award, and
their total salary will now be close to €150,000 a year.

The most senior secretaries general of government
departments will now earn almost €240,000, with the
standard rate for the position now nearly €190,000.

Those employed under a new system that requires them to
make a 5 per cent contribution to their generous pension
arrangements will get almost €10,000 extra to cover their
pension payments. Deputy secretaries will get €149,288 and
assistant secretaries €126,186, plus another 5 per cent to
cover their pension contribution.

The judiciary will also benefit from the special pay
increase. The chief justice will have a salary of over
€250,000, Supreme Court judges will get almost €220,000 and
High Court judges €205,000, Circuit Court judges €150,000
and District Court judges €125,000. The latest increases
will also apply to the pensions of former ministers.

© The Irish Times


1975: Hume Urged Effort To Destroy IRA

John Hume and the IRA: The SDLP deputy leader was certain
of his party in Derry, while the British army feared
restructuring of the IRA, write John Bew and Eamon Phoenix
John Hume and the IRA

John Hume argued that "every effort should be made to
destroy" the Provisional IRA, according to a reported
discussion he had with a senior official from the Northern
Ireland Office.

The SDLP deputy leader made the comments in Derry in April
1975, as revealed by documents just released at the
National Archives in London.

At the two-hour meeting Mr Hume expressed concerns that the
IRA was "very clever at the moment". "By letting off a few
bombs", Mr Hume believed they would "greatly increase the
electoral support for Dr Paisley", thereby legitimising
their own position.

He also reiterated his "oft-repeated remarks" that the
ending of internment would have the effect of "completely
destroying the Provisionals".

Within British politics, he believed that prime minister
Harold Wilson could not keep the Labour Party together and
in power for much longer.

Also, despite the recent accession of Margaret Thatcher to
the Conservative party leadership, "he did not hide his
hope" that Edward Heath would "return to the senior
councils of the Conservative party" because of his good
relationship with the SDLP and lack of "high Tory

Referring to the SDLP's pro-European stance in the
forthcoming UK referendum on the EEC, Mr Hume "could not
understand why the Scottish and Welsh nationalists were
against Europe".

While Mr Hume remained confident about the strength of the
SDLP in Derry, British army intelligence reports in the
same period reveal a more complex power struggle within the
nationalist community.

One fear was that the IRA was using its "truce" with the
British army "to carry out some degree of restructuring".

Reports from Derry referred to "the re-emergence of Martin
McGuinness as the local strong man" who, "with a few close
associates", "seems to be exercising a close and personal
control of all units".

Nearer the Border between North and South, where tensions
were high in 1975, the army had "sparser intelligence".
Intelligence reports described roaming gangs, displaced by
Sinn Féin pressure "in their home area", and acting "in a
maverick capacity". Sinn Féin was "still desperate to
appear as community controllers" but the leadership was
"now finding it a hard struggle to maintain their

Later in the year Mr Hume discussed his worries about the
British government's intentions with the chairman of the
Constitutional Convention.

Files from the Belfast archive reveal a visit by the SDLP
deputy leader to Sir Robert Lowry on August 28th, 1975, to
discuss his concerns about the matter.

Mr Hume referred to a phone conversation with Harold Evans,
editor of the Sunday Times.

Mr Hume claimed that Whitehall leaks and lobby briefings
"were uniformly sceptical about the success of the
Convention and were preparing the public mind for
negotiations with paramilitary leaders".

He felt this was undermining not only the convention but
constitutional politics. He asked the chairman to make
representations to the secretary of state, Mr Rees.

According to a note by an official, Dr Maurice Hayes, Sir
Robert thanked Mr Hume.

"It was then arranged that the chairman should call on the
Secretary of State to report a somewhat hopeful day of
progress in the private (interparty) negotiations, and to
take the opportunity to deplore the note that was being
struck in the media both about the prospects for the
Convention and the building up of subversives at the
expense of elected politicians."

Mr Hume expressed his satisfaction with the earlier talks
and "left in a more optimistic frame of mind".

That evening Sir Robert visited Merlyn Rees at Stormont. In
a "note for the record", he stated: "I informed the
Secretary of State that we had been busy on negotiations
which might possibly bear fruit with a solution which would
not require either side to abandon principles".

In an obvious reference to the UUP-SDLP talks on a possible
"voluntary coalition government", Sir Robert "explained in
brief outline the kind of solution which was being at
present looked at by the UUUC and SDLP".

According to the record, Mr Rees expressed his
gratification that the prospects were possibly a good deal
better than they had seemed from the outside.

However, he hazarded the view that it might be advisable to
continue to reserve security to the UK government while the
British army (which was a Westminster responsibility)
continued to be present in strength in Northern Ireland.

Sir Robert replied that "security policy would be one of
the main unifying influences and that, with respect, it
would be very foolish indeed to reserve security powers."

Sir Robert then turned to the main reason for meeting the
secretary of state "which was the gloomy outlook being put
about concerning the Convention's chances".

Even if the resulting convention report had to reflect a
majority view, this was harmful, in his opinion, especially
while the chance of agreement still existed.

He asked Mr Rees to take whatever steps he could at cabinet
and parliamentary level "to remove the impression of

In conclusion, Sir Robert commented on what he termed "the
transfer of political credibility from the politicians to
the terrorists, a most unfortunate trend which many people,
including Convention members, attributed largely to
government negotiation, and even went so far as to suggest
was in accordance with government policy".

© The Irish Times


1975: Paisley Said British Tried To 'Buy Off IRA'

Eamon Phoenix

DUP leader: The DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, accused
the British Labour government of Harold Wilson of trying to
"buy off the IRA" at a meeting with Sir Frank Cooper,
permanent under secretary of the NIO at Stormont, on
December 20th, 1974. This followed the IRA's announcement
of a temporary ceasefire after the Feakle talks with
Protestant clerics that month.

According to a note by Cooper during a discussion on the
forthcoming convention: "Dr Paisley interrupted fiercely
and said that the British government was trying to buy
peace with the IRA at the expense of the Protestants. They
are trying to withdraw from Northern Ireland and, at the
same time, are anxious to buy peace with the minority.

"The British government was so hypocritical that it was
impossible to trust them and Dr Paisley and his friends
would not engage in any talks at the behest of the
secretary of state [Merlyn Rees]."

Sir Frank replied that these were political arguments and
thus not for him. Dr Paisley went on to say that the length
of the convention depended on the attitude of the SDLP. If
that party were willing to abandon power-sharing and the
Irish dimension, he and his colleagues would be ready to
make "substantial concessions - very large concessions". If
the SDLP proved obstructive, however, then the convention
would end very quickly, Dr Paisley declared.

At a meeting with Stormont officials on December 23rd, Dr
Paisley said he and his colleagues favoured former DUP
Stormont MP Desmond Boal as convention chairman. He had
floated the idea with the SDLP which he said would not
oppose Mr Boal.

Dr Paisley said he hoped there was no question of the
appointment of an Englishman.

© The Irish Times


1975: McIvor Wanted End To 11-Plus System

The vexed issue of the 11-plus exam, which students aged
11 sit to select whether they can progress to a grammar
school, was discussed by the Northern Ireland power-sharing
executive in May 1974.

At a meeting at Stormont on May 17th, 1974, ministers paid
tribute to the grammar school system. It was decided that
the minister of education, Basil McIvor, should make a
statement expressing agreement in principle with the need
to revise the selection procedure for secondary education.

In a memo to his colleagues, the minister stressed the need
for the executive to signal its view on secondary
education, especially since the UK government had decided
to adopt a system of comprehensive education in Britain.

Mr McIvor indicated concerns about the selection system and
wished to see it ended. But, he added, "It has to be
remembered that the voluntary grammar schools play an
essential part of the present system. It is not realistic
in the circumstances of Northern Ireland to imagine that
they can simply be taken over as state schools, and it
would be most undesirable to force them into becoming
independent 'public schools'." His aim was to preserve the
independence of management for these schools.

RTÉ criticised for 'alarmist' civil war talk

On a number of Dublin files there is criticism of the
media, especially RTÉ, for an emphasis on the danger of a
civil war breaking out in the North. But Maurice Hayes,
then one of the joint secretaries to the convention at
Stormont, on September 29th, 1974, is recorded by Dermot
Nally in the taoiseach's office as believing that "the talk
about civil war, doomsday, etc was all far too alarmist,
and did not in his view represent anything like the true
position. He himself was building a new house - as an
expression of confidence in the future or, perhaps, as he
put it, partly as a protection against inflation".

Journalists entertained on lavish scale

Government Information Service (GIS) staff wined and dined
journalists on a lavish scale in the mid-1970s. Memos and
expense claims show free drinks and meals for war
correspondent Robert Fisk, John Simpson of the BBC and
former Irish Times editor Conor Brady, then editor of the
Garda Review.

One dinner hosted by posts and telegraphs minister Conor
Cruise O'Brien in the Shelbourne Hotel in May 1975 shows an
average of one bottle of wine per guest as well as spirits.
Half of the £69.73 bill was spent on drinks.

A GIS official said the dinner guests included the chief
political correspondent of Iranian television, who was "a
political adviser to the prime minister and a member of the
aristocracy with close connections with the Shah". The bill
for the five people included five bottles of wine, spirits,
minerals and tobacco. - (PA)

© The Irish Times


Opin: Political Potential Must Be Grasped

2006 beckons with unlimited promise of political progress —
but not first without an ill-advised intervention by Fianna
Fáil Minister John O' Donoghue who wishes to put more
blocks in the way of Sinn Féin's entry into the mainstream.

No wonder Fr Alex Reid warned before the summer that the
greatest threat to the peace process came not from the IRA
but from Southern politicians.

Diversity of opinion in any political party is a wonderful
thing but it will be up to Bertie Ahern to get his troops
in line for the political horse-trading which lies ahead.
That means teaching them to distinguish between a tactical
position — Fianna Fáil can never go into government with
Sinn Féin — and the reality: Fianna Fáil will go into
government with Sinn Féin if the numbers add up.

Fianna Fáil ministers who wish to gild Bertie Ahern's lily
by declaring their undying enmity towards Sinn Féin should
think twice before trying to raise the bar of political
participation ever-higher.

The politics of exclusion on this island have resulted only
in anguish and misery.

Yesterday, Bertie Ahern refused to rise to the bait of John
O'Donoghue when he spelt out his priority for 2006:
restoring the powersharing and all-Ireland institutions
"sooner rather than later".

Unfortunately, in the International Monitoring Commission,
set up outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, the
Taoiseach has given a hostage to fortune. Some suggest that
the Commissioners are so firmly in the pockets of their
paymasters that they will return the report the two
governments want: a declaration that the IRA is, in
business terms, a dormant company involved in no

However, given that their trusty sources for information to
date have been intelligence agencies, policemen and other
assorted defectives, there can be no guarantee that they
will come in on cue. In his end-of-year comments, the
Taoiseach also made it clear that he placed a greater
emphasis on securing stability in the North than in
securing a United Ireland. All par for the course except
that while the Republic has benefited enormously from the
peace process — the economic boom and the silence of the
guns are not unrelated — nationalists in the North remain
in a fetid, sectarian backwater. The union flag alone flies
from public buildings, Irish is, in official terms, a non-
language, republican ex-prisoners continue to suffer petty
humiliations. In short, there are those who wish to ensure
the nationalist nightmare continues. Of course, self-
confident nationalists are making strides forward but, as
evidenced by the state papers from 1975 released yesterday,
the Irish Government often appears more worried about the
possibility of a United Ireland than the British. The
danger is that sterile political negotiations at Stormont
in 2006 will disempower the grassroots who are crying out
for change.


Opin: Time For Duped To Admit Flaws In Policing

In fairness to Bertie Ahern, he was one of the few
politicians who actually expressed his disappointment and
"bewilderment" at the Stormontgate fiasco.

He, more than any of the politicians down south, must now
understand the difficulties nationalists would have in
trusting a police force which harbours a special branch
involved in underhand political skullduggery.

The Taoiseach's request for information to be given to the
public has been met by Hugh Orde with a stony and
significant silence.

However, it would be unfair of Sinn Féin supporters to
point a disapproving finger at Denis Bradley or indeed at
any member of the Policing Board. I believe that Bradley
and his colleagues had positive, honourable intentions and
that they were genuinely not aware of what was going on.

But now there is a different scenario. Now they know.
Denis Bradley in particular knows that he was duped. Unless
he is prepared to speak up unequivocally and demand public
assurances, then it is difficult to see how he can continue
to remain on the policing board as a nationalist

Brendan Coffey
Co Dublin
History re-written

I refer to the letter (Daily Ireland, December 29, 2005)
from Padraig Malone in relation to the Sean Sabhat

The only person confused is Mister Malone. He well knows
that I have been secretary of the committee since 1959 and
chairman in recent years and we have always held the
commemoration on the first Sunday in January.

This attempt to re-write history and denigrate our event is
typical of the U-turns and revisionism of some
Provisionals. It is sad that they engage in this type of
childish behaviour but it is becoming tedious: they cannot
be republicans and at the same time administer British rule
in Ireland.

The annual and traditional Sean South commemoration will be
held on Sunday, 1st of January, 2006, at 2pm in Mount St
Laurence cemetery, Mulgrave Street, Limerick.

Tony MacPhillips, from Fermanagh, will deliver the oration
and we invite the public to attend and honour a man who
gave his life for the ideal of his country to be free from
foreign occupation.

Des Long, Chairman, Sean South Commemoration Committee

Veiled cruelty

January 1st sees the opening meeting of the six-month Irish
point-to-point horse racing season. Point-to-point fixtures
are organised by local hunt committees to raise funds to
keep the hunt functioning.

Hunt committees tend not to spell out where the proceeds of
the event ends up. A veil of ignorance is drawn over the
activity, which is in keeping with most aspects of hunting
with hounds. Apart from being a hunt fund-raising effort,
there are other disturbing aspects of point-to-points which
are a cause of concern.

Each point-to-point season sees a large amount of horse
casualties as races attract so- called moderate horses and
racecourse rejects. Horses that should be retired are sent
out on the point-to-point racecourse in an effort to
squeeze the last remaining profit from them. Adding to
horse suffering is the actions of inexperienced jockeys
whose desire to make a racecourse reputation outweighs any
concern for animal welfare.

Support of point-to-points by the general public and local
and national business concerns is an indirect acceptance of
animal cruelty. How many people realise as they pay their
entry fee to a point-to-point that their money is keeping
local animal abuse existing or how many businesses who are
asked to take out an advertisement in a race card or
sponsor a race are aware that they are promoting their
business at the expense of animal welfare.

Point-to-points are another aspect of hunting that fools
people in to thinking that it has no link with animal
abuse. They are integral part of the killing operation of a
local hunt. Any person who cares about animal welfare
should not support them.

John Tierney
Campaigns Director-Association of Hunt Saboteurs


Opin: That Was Another Year That Was.....


The End of the Year column. This one should be easy. Nine
hundred, a thousand word looking back on the events of the
past 12 months. Now, let me see…

Problem. I can't, for the life of me, remember what the
hell I was doing this time last year. Hadn't started this
column just yet, still… must have been doing something. No,

Let's start at the end and work back. Should be easier that
way… Denis Donaldson. Spy. From what I gather he is now co-
operating fully with, well, let's just say the Republican
Movement, and that he relished his long-time role as a
double agent. Actually looked upon himself as someone who
was pro-actively helping the Brits, rather than an
unfortunate weakling who got caught up in a tragic
situation and did whatever to stay alive.

Before Donaldson there was George Best. Great send-off.
Pity Pele didn't show. Wonder did he know? Anyway, I have
heard that they are going to rename Belfast's West Link
road the Best Link. Because it's blocked every morning by
eight o'clock! And can I just say that I am sick and tired
of hearing how 'You Lift Me Up'…

Staying on sport, delegates to the Antrim County convention
cleaned the place out to vote in a new board. Hopefully the
spirit of change and revival will sweep the county
footballers and hurlers.

Two thousand and five was definitely the worst of years for
the county teams in both codes. Actually, that's probably
not true because Antrim footballers and hurlers have
plumbed depths in previous times that the modern supporter
cannot even imagine.

I suspect that articles in the Daily Ireland (as well as in
Lá and the Andytown) contributed to the debate and helped
create the context for change. And things could be on the
up already, with St Gall's footballers setting their sights
on Croke Park on St Patrick's Day next year and the
legendary Jim Nelson back at the helm of St Paul's senior

Last July Antrim minor hurlers came within a point of a
historic breakthrough when they ran the pants off Limerick
in the quarter final in Parnell Park, and what a day that
was! The boys were beaten and Limerick progressed to the
final, but the Antrim spirit shone and burned and fought to
the final second.

So where are we now, oh yes, the elections. Last May, the
Westminster elections. The DUP duffed the UUP and Trimble
was replaced by Reg Empey. Nearly forgot about that.

And Sinn Féin wiped the floor with the SDLP and then went
on to fall victim to their own propaganda by not taking
John Hume's seat in Derry.

The SDLP fought a blinder in Derry, and Sinn Féin fouled up
by more or less declaring the seat in the bag a week before
the election. Meanwhile in Belfast the Catholic voters of
the South of the city came out to put Alasdair McDonnell
in. Following the count the SDLP refused to go into
meltdown, and presumably Sinn Féin managed to see that they
had not done all that badly…

Did I mention Tyrone winning the all-Ireland football
championship, and captain Brian Dooher reducing hundreds of
thousands of spectators and viewers to tears when he
announced that 'this one is for you, Cormac'.

The Pope died, and was replaced by a new Pope.

Dia ár sábháil, nearly forgot the end of the IRA. Following
the castigation and ostracisation of Sinn Féin in the wake
of the Robert McCartney murder and the emptying of the
Northern Bank vaults Gerry Adams decided it was time to go

He appealed to the IRA to leave the stage and at the end of
July Séanna Breatnach announced that they had duly done so.

Séanna's video message was sent to the world through the
medium of the English language which I thought was strange,
until a colleague pointed out that since the day and hour
that Pádraig Mac Piarais pinned the 1916 Proclamation to
the door of the GPO the Irish Republican Army always used
the language of the oppressor to speak to the masses of the

The early part of the year was taken up by the tragic and
appalling murder of Robert McCartney in a brawl outside of
a city centre pub in Belfast, and of the efforts of his
sisters to have the perpetrators brought to justice. The
PSNI have been no more able to bring the perpetrators to
justice than they have been able to catch those who robbed
the Northern Bank.

That's it, I'm almost out of space. On a personal note, the
high point of my year was travelling to Ulianosc, the
birthplace of Lenin, 200 miles south east of Moscow last
February to help my sister Marie adopt her beautiful nine-
month old son Eoin, who was later deported from Paris
because he tried to travel on his Russian passport!

Like all years, 2005 will be remembered as one of ups and
downs, a game of two halves, swings and roundabouts, the
best of times, the worst of times.

I enjoyed the Céilí Mór at the Andersonstown Barracks
immensely, and the historic visit of Dr Shlomo Izre'el,
Professor of Semitic Languages, to the Cultúrlann and the
Gaeltacht. In fact, I think I can genuinely say that I will
never forget the Summer of Shlomo. And I must say that the
Gay marriage development was just brilliant.

Many thanks to all of youse uns out there for reading my
thoughts throughout the year, and an especial maith sibh to
all my fans in

I still can't remember what I was doing this time last
year, which makes me think that whatever it was alcohol
must have been involved. Or maybe its some kind of a

I remember coming back from the scenes of devastation in
New Orleans, only to have them virtually wiped off my
memory banks by the unbridled horror of the Pakistan

Still, one thing is for sure, the next 12 months will have
its own moments, challenges and victories, so here's to
them. Bliain Úr Mhaith daoibh go léir.

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