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December 24, 2005

Donaldson Cooperating With SF

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News About Ireland & The Irish

NH 12/24/05 Donaldson Cooperating With SF
NH 12/24/05 Donaldson Mystery Begins To Become Clearer
IA 12/24/05 The Spy Won't Harm Sinn Fein
DI 12/24/05 Opin: Whatever You Believe, Believe Nada
DI 12/24/05 Opin: How About Some Answers, Bertie?
BT 12/24/05 Opin: Peace Comes Dropping Slow In Ulster
BT 12/24/05 Time To Take Stock Of All Old Home Truths
BT 12/24/05 Santa Struggles With Batch Of Demands


Donaldson Cooperating With SF Since Revelation

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

British agent Denis Donaldson has been cooperating
with Sinn Féin since he was outed a week ago, The
Irish News has learned.

It is understood the party's former head of
administration at Stormont has been briefing Sinn Féin
officials on his 20-year involvement with Special
Branch and MI5 in a series of meetings in the

It has been suggested that Mr Donaldson received
£35,000 for his role as a double agent, although it is
now understood that the real figure could be more than

Republican sources have also insisted that Gerry Adams
and Martin McGuinness were unaware of Mr Donaldson's
double life as they posed for photographs with him on
the steps of Stormont Buildings less than 24 hours
after spy charges against the 55-year-old were

Thirty-six hours later a sequence of events began to
unfold which would see Mr Donaldson's 30-year career
within the republican movement left in tatters.

At 5pm on Saturday uniformed police officers called to
Mr Donaldson's west Belfast home claiming he was about
to be exposed by the media as an informer.

While Mr Donaldson informed his Sinn Féin superiors
that night he did not come under suspicion at that

However, during a meeting with senior republicans on
Monday December 12, Bobby Sands's former prison pal
finally admitted his spying role.

Within hours Mr Adams was forced to inform the Sinn
Féin leadership of the biggest spy scandal within its
ranks in 30 years.

Over the next four days Mr Donaldson began to provide
the republican leadership with more details about how
he passed on Sinn Féin secrets to the British
government during some of the most critical periods in
the peace process.

On Thursday December 16 Special Branch made a final
attempt to bring its agent in from the cold.

In a telephone call to Mr Donaldson's home a Special
Branch handler who identified himself as 'Lenny' is
believed to have said: "Do you remember me? I
understand you have had a visit from our uniform boys.

"I think it's time we got together."

'Lenny' then gave Mr Donaldson a mobile phone number
to contact him.

Within hours Mr Donaldson had fled with his family to

The following day the 55-year-old publicly admitted
being a paid British agent for more than 20 years.
Since then he has not been seen in public and is still
understood to be in hiding.

However, a senior republican source last night
(Thursday) confirmed that Mr Donaldson has continued
to meet with senior Sinn Féin officials over the last
seven days, providing detailed accounts of his life as
a British agent.

Those admissions are now being assessed by the Sinn
Féin leadership, although the source insisted that Mr
Donaldson was a 'free agent' and was not being

Last night a Garda spokeswoman refused to state if it
was aware of Mr Donaldson's whereabouts or whether his
life was in danger.

December 24, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 23, 2005
edition of the Irish News.


Donaldson Spy Mystery Begins To Become Clearer

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

It is exactly one week since former Sinn Féin official
Denis Donaldson admitted being a British spy. Barry
McCaffrey gives one of the most detailed pictures yet
of how events unfolded.

Special Branch informer Denis Donaldson was last night
(Thursday) still admitting the full extent of his life
as a double agent to the Sinn Féin leadership.

As the 55-year-old remained in hiding further details
emerged of the events which led to Donaldson being
uncovered as a British agent last Friday.

Republican sources confirmed that neither Martin
McGuinness nor Gerry Adams knew that the Sinn Féin
administrator was a double agent when they were
photographed with him at Stormont buildings on Friday
December 9.

However, Donaldson's double life began to unravel at
5pm the following day when uniformed PSNI officers
visited his west Belfast home and informed him that he
was going to be exposed in the media.

Police returned to Donaldson's Aitnamona Crescent home
at 9pm but he was not there.

Less than 15 minutes later he telephoned Declan
Kearney, chairman of Sinn Féin's northern executive
and Donaldson's immediate superior, to tell him that
the PSNI had warned he was to be 'outed' as an

Republican's say it was a coincidence that Mr
Kearney's brother Ciaran was Donaldson's son-in-law
and his co-accused in the Stormontgate trial that
never was.

Mr Kearney advised Donaldson to go to his solicitor.

Republican sources say that Mr Kearney's instruction
was in line with Sinn Féin policy in dealing with
anyone who has been warned by the PSNI that they are
about to be exposed as an informer.

It is unclear whether republicans believed at this
stage that Donaldson was a double agent or were
working under the misapprehension that this was a
'securocrat' plot to discredit Sinn Féin's leadership.

While Mr Adams would later claim that republicans had
suspected for two years that there was a spy within
their ranks, it is not thought that Donaldson had come
under suspicion.

On Sunday Declan Kearney informed Sinn Féin's former
Stormont administrator that he would be interviewed at
party headquarters the following day.

Following that interview Mr Adams was told that
Donaldson had admitted to being a British agent and he
informed the rest of the Sinn Féin leadership on the

On Wednesday December 14 Donaldson had two interviews
with Declan Kearney and senior Sinn Féin official Leo
Green at Sinn Féin's Sevastopol Street offices.

It was at this meeting that Donaldson began to reveal
the full extent of his role as a Special Branch and
MI5 agent for more than 20 years.

He admitted meeting his Special Branch handlers two
days before his arrest over the Stormontgate affair in
October 2002.

Media reports suggested that Donaldson received
£35,000 for his role as a double agent, although the
real figure could total a six-figure sum, through
regular payments.

At the end of that meeting Donaldson was informed that
he was suspended from Sinn Féin and that he should
contact his solicitor Peter Madden.

On Thursday December 16 Donaldson had two more
meetings with the Sinn Féin officials, ending at 2pm.

At 4.45pm he received a telephone call at his home
from a Special Branch handler, who identified himself
as 'Lenny'.

The handler is understood to have asked "Do you
remember me?"

"I understand you have had a visit from our uniform
boys," he said.

"I think it's time we got together."

'Lenny' then gave Donaldson a mobile contact phone.

When The Irish News called the number last night it
was on answerphone.

Later on Thursday night Declan Kearney met Donaldson
again and informed him that he had been expelled from
Sinn Féin.

It is understood that Donaldson, in the presence of
his solicitor, then attempted to contact 'Lenny' but
the number went to answerphone.

Hours later Donaldson and his family are understood to
have gone into hiding in Dublin.

Less than 24 hours later Donaldson's 30-year career as
an Irish republican was in tatters.

Republicans point to the fact that the IRA had offered
amnesties to informers on three occasions during the
last three decades but Donaldson chose not to come
forward on any of these occasions.

At 5pm Mr Adams and Gerry Kelly appeared at the
Gresham Hotel in Dublin to publicly reveal that
Donaldson was a British agent and had been expelled
from Sinn Féin.

At 9.30pm that night a visibly shaken Donaldson
appeared at a press conference to reveal his role as a
double agent.

He revealed few details other than he had been a paid
informer for more than 20 years.

Since then he has not been seen in public, although he
is believed to be in hiding in the Republic.

A senior republican source last night confirmed that
Donaldson has continued to meet with senior Sinn Féin
officials over the last seven days to give detailed
accounts of his life as an informer.

It is understood Donaldson's admissions are now being
assessed by the Sinn Féin leadership, although the
source insisted that he was a 'free agent'.

A Garda spokeswoman refused to state if it was aware
of Donaldson's whereabouts in the Republic.

However, it last night appeared that there was no way
back for the veteran republican-turned-informer.

"We are not taking this lightly," Mr Kelly insisted.

"This was a betrayal on a massive scale.

"He has betrayed his family and comrades.

"He played his part in helping the British government
to bring down the power-sharing executive.

"He allowed himself to be used by the securocrats in
their deliberate and calculated efforts to wreck the
peace process.

"The question now is what Tony Blair is going to do to
stop these people?"

December 24, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 23, 2005
edition of the Irish News.


The Spy Won't Harm Sinn Fein

By Brendan Anderson

Sinn Fein, with its traditional resilience, will
likely soon bounce back from the trauma of the Denis
Donaldson affair. The party has, after all, weathered
many major crises, albeit somewhat lower on the
Richter scale of disasters.

A strategy, no doubt, is already being worked on to
repair the damage inflicted on the party by
Donaldson's long-term touting. But it is the effect on
Republican support, the ordinary Sinn Fein voter,
which could prove interesting.

Grassroots supporters have been asked to accept an
awful lot in the past few years.

Following the last, massive act of weapons
decommissioning by the IRA and the standing-down of
the organization, many life-long supporters have been
left feeling bewildered and vulnerable. The advice
was, always see the big picture, trust the leadership.

Now a figure, close to but not actually part of the
leadership, has been exposed as an enemy agent. In
Donaldson's home neighbourhood, the tiny parish of St.
Matthew's in the Short Strand area, the mood is a
strange mixture of confusion and subdued anger.

Donaldson, a tiny, articulate man from an old Short
Strand Republican family, could be charismatic or
irritating. He was liked and disliked in equal
measure, but he had been around a few corners, enjoyed
the friendship of the Sinn Fein leadership and was
always believed to be a "sound" Republican.

Now his exposure as an informer has created massive
doubt and uncertainty. It is only after some days that
the enormity, the extent of Donaldson's perceived
treachery, is being appreciated.

While he may not have been a top-rank policy maker, he
certainly took part in "think-tanks" which put forward
suggestions for the leadership to consider.

Based in the Assembly buildings or at Sinn Fein
headquarters, he had an insight into the thinking of
the leadership. The thought eating at many Republicans
this week is that because of Donaldson's treachery,
British Prime Minister Tony Blair would have had
access to Sinn Fein's position papers days before
negotiations with the party took place.

Others too — families with members killed by security
forces, for instance — will be wondering if the
friendly little man with the ready smile, the quirky
joke, was implicated in the death of their loved one.

Donaldson followed in his father's footsteps, joining
the IRA in the 1960s as a teenager and, through a
mixture of ambition and a high arrest rate amongst
volunteers, rose to the position of commanding officer
in East Belfast. He himself was arrested while on a
bombing mission in Belfast and served five years of a
10-year sentence in Long Kesh.

It was there that a smuggled camera was used to take
the world-famous photograph of Donaldson with his arm
around the shoulders of Bobby Sands, later to die on
hunger strike.

On his release Donaldson continued to rise through the
ranks of the IRA, eventually taking on the
intelligence portfolio. In 1983 he stood
unsuccessfully as a Sinn Fein candidate in Belfast
City Council elections for East Belfast.

His role led him to the Middle East, where he was
responsible for maintaining contact with guerrilla
groups. On one occasion he was sent to negotiate the
release of Belfast man Brian Keenan, who had been
taken hostage by Lebanese fighters.

Donaldson reported that he and his colleague had come
close to death when they were taken prisoner
themselves and threatened with being shot. They
returned home safely, but without schoolteacher

In 1993 he was sent to New York to counter the
influence of Irish Republican supporters there who
were perceived to be in danger of departing from the
party line.

Republicans, albeit in retrospect, maintain that
Donaldson was always close to the centre of power
within the party. The full impact of his informing is
not yet known, and will be continue to be studied by
party analysts for some time.

When he was released from Long Kesh prison, Donaldson
brought home with him an old-fashioned Dineen's Irish
dictionary. Dozens of prisoners, including Donaldson,
had signed the flyleaf.

Denis was fond of pointing out the signature of Chris
Black, the first IRA supergrass. That flyleaf now
contains the names of two informers.

Many years ago, Donaldson told this writer he had been
approached by British intelligence agents while he and
his wife were on holiday in Spain. He was not asked if
he had declined the offer to work for the British.

In retrospect — a serious omission.


Opin: Whatever You Believe, Believe Nothing

If I had been a British spy for over 20 years, I would
have been loathe to take the chance that my former
comrades had really and truly forsaken the sort of
activity for which they had previously been renowned
vis a vis dealing with informers.


The one thing I cannot understand about the Denis
Donaldson saga is why did he run to Sinn Féin in the

If we are to believe that Denis Donaldson was a
British spy who, for over 20 years of his life,
grafted consistently to thwart the Republican project
and advance the British cause in Ireland by touting
whatever information he could to his British
paymasters, why did he throw himself at the mercy of
those he had betrayed when he was unmasked?

Murky is not the word for all this. Dark and dangerous
barely convey the half of it either so, like everyone
else, I am flaying around in the abyss of ignorance
here. But let's say that Donaldson was a British spy.
I think we can all agree on that.

I believe he was outed in the hope that the IRA would
kill him, thereby causing a crisis in the peace
process, given that Gerry Adams and the IRA told us
last July that all such activity had ceased.

Or else he would go to ground and his family would
mysteriously disappear from West Belfast, allowing the
PSNI to advance their thesis that his life was under
threat. Under threat from whom? The IRA, of course.
The PSNI, apparently, did tell Donaldson that he was
about to be revealed as an informer and that his life
was under threat. Why did they even bother to tell

Because Gerry Adams and the IRA told us last July that
all such activity had ceased. So if someone's life was
under threat from the IRA, even if that someone was a
long term and committed informer, bang goes the dump
arms order and the new scenario heralded so boldly by
last July's IRA statement. Holding threats is part of
the activity that we were told had ceased.

If I had been a British spy for over 20 years, I would
have been loathe to take the chance that my former
comrades had really and truly forsaken the sort of
activity for which they had previously been renowned
vis a vis dealing with informers.

When Freddie Scapaticci was outed he also ran into the
embrace of former comrades in Sinn Féin. But Scap
denied all accusations of touting at first. He held
his press conference and appealed to our sense of
outrage and decency because he was originally hoping
to deny all and brazen it out.

Whenever it became obvious that he had indeed been an
informer then he disappeared. I suppose as the reputed
former head of the IRA's nutting squad he knew only
too well that taking a chance with these people – even
in times of ceasefire – could prove to be both
foolhardy and hazardous. So why did Denis not cut and

Is there any chance that Denis Donaldson had already
been turned by the IRA and that during his time as an
informer for the British within the Republican
movement he was actually acting as an agent for the
IRA and Sinn Féin? Was he passing on information that
the IRA and Sinn Féin wanted the British to have. No,
I don't know either, and it does sound more than a
little fantastical. But the only way to deal with all
this spooks and spies stuff is to think outside the

Going to Sinn Féin following his outing was a pro-Sinn
Féin act. It helped the Republican position and tended
against the British, who would much preferred to have
been able to point to his dead body found in a ditch
along the border or his disappearance as proof that
the IRA have not gone away, you know. So why would
Donaldson choose to help those whom he had betrayed?

Perhaps a note of reconciliation, perhaps a deal was
done to allow his family remain in West Belfast and he
quietly slip away. Or perhaps he had been previously
turned and was really working for the Republicans
during the time that the British thought he was
touting on their behalf. Or perhaps not.

There really seems to be only one of two possible
scenarios likely. On the one hand, perhaps Denis
relished working for the British over all those years
because he just hated what the Republican movement
were trying to achieve.

Or could he have been a reluctant spy to begin with?
What if the Brits had caught him, I don't know, having
it off with another woman, or another man, or
something like that. And they told him to forget if he
could just confirm that a particular car was seen in
the Short Strand area last week. Or if he was to stick
this phone number in his pocket, and just give Trev a
ring next Friday. Or whatever.

Because as soon as he would have done something small
and inconsequential like that, then he was in.

The next time they requested information it would be
under threat of telling the IRA that he was a tout.

Could he have cut a deal with the IRA to tout for them
in order to save his life?

Following the outing of Freddie Scapaticci the Brits
put out the names of two other stalwart Republicans
who they claimed to have been informers. People made
up their own minds. Already one of those two and a
third man – a senior Sinn Féin figure in Belfast – are
being mentioned as touts this time around. People will
make up their own minds.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it seems to me that
the purpose behind it all is to counter the strength
of Sinn Féin and to stymie their advancing support
among the voters North and South. And the best way for
Sinn Féin to fight back is to increase support at the
polls and take up positions of power in government
North and South.

But this business in based upon lies and deceit. Its
modus operandi depends upon lies and deceit and making
people believe they know the truth when in fact they
are hearing only lies and deceit.

Newspapers, television and radio are the perfect media
for spreading lies and deceit, because we tend to
believe most of what we are exposed to in the media.

But don't believe it, don't believe a word. Whatever
you believe, believe nothing and you won't go far

Agus Nollaig Shona daoibh go léir…


Opin: How About Some Answers, Bertie?

Editor: Colin O'Carroll

British prime minister Tony Blair says he wants more
details about the Stormont spy-ring to be put before
the public. The Dublin government thinks the same,
hence the Taoiseach's bemused and, might we say,
slightly shocked response to the news that Denis
Donaldson had been working for the British for 20

Given that both sides are so keen for a bit of
openness and truth, it was strange that so little was
said after yesterday's key meeting between Bertie
Ahern and PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde. Mr Orde left
the meeting without speaking to reporters, although
he's a man not known for his reticence around members
of the fourth estate. A spokesperson for the
Taoiseach, meanwhile, would only say that the
substance of the talks were confidential and that it
would not be "appropriate" to go into any detail.

So, to recap. Secret schemes by unknown plotters lead
to a collapse of the democratically elected
institutions. Subsequently more secret schemes by
unknown plotters see a showcase trial collapse and a
deep-cover spy unmasked. Rightly, the Irish government
expresses concern. Its response when it meets the man
in control of Special Branch? It says, sorry, but
these things are confidential. Confused? You should

We seriously doubt whether Mr Ahern got any change
from Mr Orde yesterday for a very simple reason: we
seriously doubt whether Mr Orde knows exactly what his
own Special Branch is up to. This is the man, after
all, who said he knew nothing in advance about the
planned raid on Sinn Féin offices at Stormont. There
can be no surprise that the Irish government is being
coy about what it learned yesterday about the Stormont
'spy ring'. After all, successive Irish governments
have shown a marked disinclination to meddle in
British intelligence services matters, even when those
matters directly impact on the Irish Republic. Justice
Minister Michael McDowell, who was at the

Taoiseach's shoulder at yesterday's meeting, has shown
much enthusiasm in recent days and weeks for chasing
down and punishing those who he deems to have involved
themselves in subversive activities. Would that he
would be similarly proactive in his dealings with the
British government and the PSNI, which to this day
refuse to co-operate with the inquiry into the Dublin-
Monaghan bombings. Deliberately blocking a legally
constituted investigation into the murder of 33
citizens, you might think, is as subversive as it
gets. But clearly, as far as this Irish government is

Mr Ahern is on record as saying he was sceptical from
the word go about the Stormont affair. We can only
presume that Mr Ahern did not leave his scepticism at
the door of the meeting and that he put the hard
questions to Mr Orde. And if he did put the hard
questions, and if in fact Mr Orde answered them,
perhaps Mr Ahern would consider sharing the answers
with the people of Ireland. Because, Taoiseach, we'd
really, really like to hear them.


Opin: Peace Comes Dropping Slow In Ulster

24 December 2005

AS the countdown to Christmas Day reaches its final
phase, families throughout Northern Ireland will be
happily finalising plans for tomorrow. In many
households, one of the most joyous aspects of the
festive season is the return to home and hearth of
loved ones.

But what sort of Northern Ireland will those arriving
find as their aircraft touches down or their ferry
docks? While problems remain to be resolved, the
atmosphere in the province improves year by year as
confidence rises about the future.

First and foremost, the province is by and large at
peace. The paramilitaries have not gone away, but they
appear to have at last grasped the message that jaw-
jaw is better than war-war. The best evidence of this
mood change was the act of decommissioning carried out
in September by the IRA.

Although the precise detail of what happened has yet
to be established, there is general agreement that a
significant amount of weaponry was put beyond use. Now
the pressure is on the loyalist groupings to follow

The IRA's war is over, but Northern Ireland is still
some way from achieving the twin goals of a lasting
peace and a stable devolved administration. It will
take time to build trust between Sinn Fein and the
unionist parties.

But despite such difficulties, the wider community is
now reaping a peace dividend. Unemployment is at a
record low and the economy is prospering, even though
there are worries about our over-dependence on the
public sector.

The entertainments sector has taken off and Belfast is
now the venue for major concerts - such as that of Rod
Stewart last night. Expats who are back for Christmas
will notice an array of new restaurants, pubs and
hotels in city and country.

In the heart of Belfast construction of the £300m
Victoria Square scheme is well under way, and the
number of cranes towering over other developments is a
visible sign of a new optimism.

Thanks in part to the expansion of air routes to
Northern Ireland from Britain, the Continent and now
New York, tourism is on the up and up. Belfast is fast
establishing itself as an attractive weekend break
destination year round.

Mercifully, this community is emerging from the
shadows of the past and the new more relaxed ambience
should give many of the exiles who are back home this
Christmas pause for thought.

Northern Ireland is unlikely ever to be a utopia, but
it has many plus points. New understandings are being
reached, and the potential exists to fashion a
harmonious future. Above all, our quality of life is
generally improving and that is surely something to be
celebrated this Christmas.


It's Time To Take Stock Of All The Old Home Truths

By Lindy McDowell
24 December 2005

THIS time last year the ferries and airports were
experiencing their busiest Christmas ever as tens of
thousands of exiles flocked back home to Northern

This time last year the ports and airports were
equally busy as thousands of people flew out for
Christmas in the sun.

This time last year some of them were gazing out on
the glorious beaches of south east Asia pinching
themselves in disbelief at the beauty and serenity of
the paradise around them.

This time last year most of us couldn't even spell the
word tsunami.

This time last year Ulster's magnificent Black Santa,
Dean Houston McKelvey, was getting ready for a well
deserved rest, hanging up the famous black cape for
another 12 months.

This time last year even he could not have imagined
the full extent of the amazing generosity of the
people of Northern Ireland.

This time last year young children were, as they are
again this year, bouncing off the walls with
excitement at the thought of what Santa might bring.

This time last year in his family home in Short
Strand, Robert McCartney was among parents getting
things ready for the children - in his case, looking
forward with his partner Brigeen, to seeing the
delight on the faces of their two little boys come
Christmas morning.

This time last year Brigeen could not have known that
those were hours and memories she will carry in her
heart for ever.

This time last year, shoppers snuffling into their
hankies with a Christmas cold were unaware of the
horror of bird flu - or the potentially even greater
horror of the bird flu vaccine that doesn't work.

This time last year Live Aid was something from the
80s, Bono was a singer not a world statesman and Jamie
Oliver was a celebrity chef, not a political force.

This time last year nobody had heard of Turkey
Twizzlers, Desperate Housewives or Orlaith McAllister.

This time last year Charles, the future king and
Elton, the well-loved queen, were both unmarried.

This time last year you wouldn't have put money on
David Healy steering lowly Northern Ireland to a win
against Beckham and the boys, or on Belfast hosting
the first gay marriage in the British Isles or on
Primark clothes on the cover of Vogue.

But you might have put money on Best Mate.

This time last year Denis Donaldson was still in Sinn
Fein. And, as it turns out, MI5.

This time last year Jim Gray was still in favour with
the UDA.

This time last year, Johnny Adair was still in

And the residents of a quiet street in Harwich,
Bolton, still had no real appreciation of the full
horror of the concept "neighbours from hell".

This time last year the big news was of a raid on the
Northern Bank in Belfast. This time last year it was
already being blamed on the IRA - although Gerry Adams
insisted this was "a clearly orchestrated effort by
securocrats within the British system intent on
wrecking the peace process."

This time this year the big story is of a spy in Sinn
Fein. This time this year Gerry Adams insists that
this is a clearly orchestrated effort by securocrats
within the British system intent on wrecking the peace

This time last year we didn't know our OTRs from our
CRJs - but we had come to realise that the IMC was not
a push-over in spelling out the truth about the UDA,
the UVF, the LVF and the IRA.

This time last year Lisa Dorrian's family could not
have imagined that this time this year they'd be
scanning a website hoping for any information that
might help them recover the body of their dearly loved
daughter and sister.

This time last year they could not have known the
horror that lay ahead - or the strength they would
find to sustain them in their brave campaign.

This time last year many, many families, my own among
them, were celebrating Christmas with someone we loved
who is no longer with us.

This time this year we remember them with tears and

This time next year God knows what sorrows or joys
we'll look back upon.

But some things never change.

At Christmas time the exiles will continue, as they
always have done, to return to the place that is for
ever their home.

Small children will continue, as they always have
done, to drive their parents up the walls as they brim
with excitement at the magic that awaits.

And the rest of us will look forward, as we always
have done, not just with anticipation to tomorrow, but
with hope for the year ahead.

Happy Christmas. May it be one that, this time every
year, will always hold good memories.


Busy Time For Santa As He Struggles With Surprise Batch Of Demands

By Barry White
24 December 2005

IN Rome, people are posting wish-notes to Santa Claus
in a tree near the main railway station, praying that
their wives don't hear about their mistresses and so
forth. Here, a strange collection was found at the
Europa bus station:

• Please, could there be just a minor earthquake or a
small nuclear explosion to take people's minds off
Stormontgate? - (signed) Peter Hain.

• How can we prove that Denis Donaldson was our spy,
that he was feeding false intelligence to MI5, and
that he has retired on full pension to the Bahamas? -
Gerry Adams.

• Who is this guy Donaldson? Never heard of him, or
Soupspoon either. - Martin McGuinness.

All I want is £1bn for the next few Christmases, to
make up what I gave away to the Europeans. Do they
still need police in Northern Ireland? - Tony Blair.

• All this talk about on-the-runs. Why don't they ever
ask if any of us want to go home? - Felons' Club,
Malaga (by e-mail).

• IRA guns gone, Sinn Fein committed to democracy, no
mass demonstration at gay weddings in the City Hall.
Give me something to get angry about, apart from water
rates. - Ian Paisley.

• Could Tony lend me some soldiers and maybe a fighter
plane or two, to give the crowds something to cheer at
the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising? - Bertie

• Tell Bertie that it's no use postponing the Queen's
visit until the Stormont Assembly meets again. Neither
of us is getting any younger but, thank goodness, Rolf
Harris must be near retirement. -Mary McAleese.

• What about another consultation exercise on post-
primary education, asking people which they'd prefer,
to read another article defending academic selection
or go back to school? - Angela Smith.

• Do you think it's wise for me to accept an
invitation to sample the accident and emergency
services in Omagh? - Shaun Woodward.

• Could you arrange for journalists to ring me up in
the middle of the night again, and camera crews to
camp outside my door? Nobody understands how lonely it
is being leader of the UUP. - Reg Empey.

• How can I get Tony to answer the phone? I thought
he'd jump at my offer of extraordinary rendition for
Gordon Brown and John Prescott. - George Bush.

• Many thanks, Santa Tony, for postponing agricultural
reform until 2014 at the earliest. Here's a small
token of my appreciation, a v-sign carved in
Camembert. Sorry if it's a little old. - Jacques

• Upstaged by some also-ran lesbians in Belfast, for
Heaven's sake. If you or Tony can't guarantee top
billing I'll move to Las Vegas. - Elton John.

Just in case, could underground escape routes be
provided at the World Cup in Germany for coaches of
teams knocked out in the first round? - Sven-Goran

• Maybe you can guess what I want for Christmas. It's
like a hat, only it's made of gold and is covered in
diamonds. Only mummy says I can't have it before she's
finished with it. - Prince Charles.

I hardly dare ask for anything more, but do you think
Britain is ready for another charming, right of
centre, public schoolboy Prime Minister? - David

• I'd be the last to say there were too many dynasties
in the DUP. But can I count on your help if they ever
get to handing out executive places at Stormont? -
Jeffrey Donaldson.

• No need to tell you what I would like for Christmas.
Sinn Fein bottoms on seats in the Policing Board and
bobbies on the beat in Andersonstown. You have to
dream, don't you? - Hugh Orde.

• Yes, and the moon is made of blue cheese, Hugh.
Whatever made you think you weren't being bugged? -
Gerry Kelly.

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