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January 10, 2006

Family Targeted Because of Catholic Friends

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IN 01/10/06 Family Targeted Because Of Catholic Friends
DI 01/09/06 Equality Body's Record Blasted As 'Woeful'
ET 01/09/06 2006 A ‘Window Of Opportunity’ For N Ireland
PF 01/09/06 PFC Listserv Updates
IO 01/10/06 Minister's Call To SDLP On CJ Schemes
UT 01/10/06 Alliance Warns Over Justice Schemes 'Opt-Out'
UT 01/10/06 Anger Over Hospital Trust Appointments
NL 01/10/06 'Orangeism For The 21st Century' Is Unveiled
OB 01/10/06 Opin: Why US-UK Treaty Should Not Be Ratified
IN 01/10/06 Opin: Easy To Forget The Good Among The Bad
DI 01/09/06 Opin: Ahern’s Welcome Words
DI 01/09/06 Opin: Year Of Ó Cadhain
IN 01/10/06 Opin: Praise Paisleys For Death's Door Delicacy
IN 01/10/06 Opin: Wish List Shows Road To Brighter Future
ET 01/06/06 Ireland Holds Third Freest World Economy
IN 01/10/06 Magistrate Alarmed By Drunken Crime At Odyssey
BB 01/10/06 Yob Concern At Entertainment Site
BT 01/10/06 Toxic Waste Creates Hermaphrodite Polar Bears


Family Targeted Because Of Catholic Friends Says Mother

By Seamus McKinney

A PROTESTANT woman forced out of her Derry home hours
before it was burnt out by a loyalist mob has said she
believes her family was targeted because her daughters are
friendly with Catholics.

Helen Wray and her daughter Nicole (15), along with another
daughter, had to be escorted from the house at Kennedy
Place in the Fountain area in the face of a large loyalist

A police spokesman said stones and bottles were thrown at
the house at around 12.45am on Saturday, breaking windows
and a door.

Around six hours later the house was set on fire, with
extensive damage caused throughout the building.

In a separate incident, at around 6am on Saturday, an 18-
year-old was viciously beaten up at Horace Street just
yards from the Wray family home.

Police said the attacks were being investigated separately
but that detectives intended on examining all lines of

Ms Wray said she believed her family was attacked and the
house burnt out by loyalists angry at the company her
daughters kept.

"They [the attackers] came because my girls run about with
Catholic fellas," she said.

Ms Wray said the mob also attacked her two daughters in
their home on Thursday night, beating them with baseball
bats and smashing up the house.

She and her daughters were staying in another part of the
city last night.

An eyewitness to the violence early on Saturday claimed up
to 25 people, with faces covered by Rangers' scarves, also
came out of the Fountain and attacked a number of people in
John Street.

Police appealed to anyone with information about any of the
incidents to contact them on 0845 600 8000.


Equality Body's Record Blasted As 'Woeful'

CiarÁn Barnes

The North's Equality Commission has a "woeful" record,
according to a Sinn Féin assembly member.

South Down assembly member Caitríona Ruane questioned the
agenda being pursued by the body. She queried why venues in
Down and Tyrone had not been considered for public meetings
being organised by the commission.

Ms Ruane expressed her concerns on the eve of today's first
public meeting of the commission in Belfast.

"The Equality Commission has a responsibility to drive
forward the equality agenda.

"This involves proactively identifying and tackling
inequalities wherever they exist and however they manifest
themselves. The record of the commission to date has been
sadly lacking," she said.

After reading the commission's plans for the next three
years, Ms Ruane questioned whether commission bosses were
committed to fulfilling the remit envisaged for it in the
Good Friday Agreement.

She added: "The record of the commission thus far with
regard to the enforcement of the equality duty which is
enshrined in legislation is woeful.

"Their view of their future role points to a continuing
failure or refusal on their behalf to grasp the fact that
they should be investigating inequalities as well as
responding to individual complaints.

"Their draft corporate plan for the next three years does
not even acknowledge the damaging impact that the
withdrawal of funding assistance in discrimination cases
has on the capacity of individuals to challenge

The commission is holding a series of public meetings in
the North, starting today in Belfast.

Ms Ruane said: "It is unacceptable that they have no plans
to have any of these meetings in counties Down and Tyrone.

"I have written to the Equality Commission and asked that
they organise, as a matter of urgency, consultation
meetings in both these counties."

No one from the Equality Commission was available for
comment yesterday.


2006 A "Window Of Opportunity" For Northern Ireland

By Brian Trought
Epoch Times Staff Jan 09, 2006

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern on Wednesday warned
Northern Ireland's political parties that it was time to
decide whether they wanted to work together within a local,
devolved government.

According to Minister Ahern, a Northern Ireland assembly
was the clear will of the people and the issue would need
to be resolved before 2007.

"There is no Plan B. We don't countenance failure in this
because we were very close to it back in December 2004,"
said the Foreign Affairs Minister.

"But we see 2006 as the window of opportunity because of
the fact that once you turn into 2007 you will be in
election mode in the Republic in the first half of the year
and also the political instability in the UK. Everyone
would agree that 2007 may very well be a difficult year in
the UK. So both governments are absolutely adamant that
2006 is the time when the politicians of Northern Ireland
have to decide for themselves whether they want to work in
partnership in a devolved government."

Mr Ahern also reiterated the Irish government's
determination to revive the power-sharing assembly in the
North so that the executive can deal with the "bread-and-
butter issues that affect every person in the North".

"Real progress in areas such as education, health, equality
and policing is best achieved by locally-elected
politicians working in partnership to deliver for their

"The goals of delivering real change and real improvements
for ordinary people on these "bread-and-butter" issues
should drive our efforts in the forthcoming months."

Mr Ahern also called on all sides to move to build trust
and for community leaders to stand up against sectarian

Currently standing in the way of reviving the Stormont
Assembly is the Northern Ireland Offences Bill, which would
enable people who carried out murders before April 1998 to
avoid jail.

British opposition parties, Unionists and the SDLP have
withdrawn their support for the Bill and Sinn Fein also
withdrew their support before Christmas because members of
the security forces have been included alongside on-the-run
republican suspects as those who could qualify for the

The political climate has been further soured by last
month's revelations about Sinn Fein's Denis Donaldson and
the subsequent collapse of the case against the three men
accused in October 2002 of operating the Stormont spy ring.

The allegations led to the suspension of the power-sharing
executive and other political institutions.

Since then, the North has been administered by a team of
Northern Ireland Office ministers, currently led by
Secretary of State Peter Hain.

Following the end of the IRA's armed campaign last July and
the subsequent disarmament programme, both the British and
Irish governments have been pushing for reinstating the
Stormont Assembly.

But Northern Ireland's largest party, the Democratic
Unionists, has insisted it will not consider reviving power
sharing without progress on a list of confidence building
measures for their community given to Downing Street last


PFC Listserv Updates

1) Spicer Conference Alert
2) New Plastic Bullets Report
3) Bloody Sunday Weekend Reminder

1) Spicer Conference Alert

Former Scots Guards officer and mercenary Tim Spicer is due
to speak at a conference in the US later this month.
Subscribers will remember that he pulled out of a recent
conference in London after Jean Mc Bride announced her
intention to attend and confront him.

Spicer has repeatedly sought to justify the murder by
soldiers under his command of Peter Mc Bride in Belfast in
1992. His company, Aegis, last year won a major Pentagon
contract to provide 'private security services' in Iraq.
Aegis is currently under investigation following emergence
of a shoot-to-kill video filmed in Iraq and allegedly
linked to the controversial company.

In recent weeks US Senators Charles Schumer and Barack
Obama have questioned the $295 million Aegis contract.

PFC subscribers should contact the conference organisers
(and their elected representatives) and ask if they are
aware that Aegis, co-sponsors of the conference, are
currently under investigation or that the President of the
company, LT Col Tim Spicer, faces serious allegations
concerning his mercenary activities in Sierra Leone and
Papua New Guinea and his defence of the murder of an
unarmed youth in Belfast.


Warren Wm. Gollop,
Tel :246.417.5328 Fax :
888.844.4901 (Toll Free)
Email :

Conference details

Reconstruction and Stabilization in Iraq
Optimizing Post Conflict Efforts of Future Operations
23-25 January 2006

Location: Sheraton Premiere at Tyson's Corner, Vienna, VA,

2) New Plastic Bullets Report

The London based NGO, British Irish Rights Watch, has
published a new report titled Plastic Bullets-A Human
Rights Perspective 2006. The 54 page document is available
online at

According to BIRW the new report, which replaces a
September 2005 publication includes,

a) accurate figures for the firing of AEPs in 2005 by the
police and army

b) it takes account of the Police Ombudsman's report on
firings in 2001/2002

c) it takes account of the Policing Board's human rights
advisors' report on Ardoyne and Whiterock in 2005

d) it takes account of the PSNI's guidelines on the firing
of plastic bullets.

3) Bloody Sunday Weekend Reminder

The last Bloody Sunday weekend before publication of the
Inquiry report takes place in the week leading up to
January 29, the date of the march.

Full programme details will be posted soon but events will
include a Relatives Conference on Saturday, January 28,
focusing on recent developments concerning the NI Offences
Bill (see PFC/RFJ/JFTF statement on website) and the
relevance of the Historical Enquiries Team and Police
Ombudsman for relatives who have been bereaved. Other
events will include discussions, films, plays, and the
annual Bloody Sunday Lecture to be delivered on Friday
January 27. The Inquiry report is expected to be published
later this spring.

Contact PFC for background on any of the above at see also


Minister's Call To SDLP On Community Justice Schemes

10/01/2006 - 08:48:04

A minister in charge of controversial community justice
plans in the North today challenged its critics to come up
with better proposals.

Northern Ireland Office Minister David Hanson threw down
the gauntlet after the nationalist SDLP called on the
Criminal Justice Inspectorate to refuse co-operation with
the British government's proposals.

Mr Hanson said: "I would say to the SDLP, if there are
schemes operating as there are now – 14 to 15 privately-
funded schemes in nationalist areas and five or six
privately funded schemes in loyalist areas – then what do
they think we should do about those schemes?

"Should we let those schemes operate without any minimum
standards or should we not put in place minimum standards?

"That is what this discussion is all about. That is what
these proposals and guidelines are about.

"Now they may not think what we have proposed is tight
enough – in which case come to me with positive suggestions
about it.

"Don't come to me and say don't inspect the schemes – which
is what the latest statement says – because then I'll say
at the end of February there are no guidelines. However the
schemes will still be there."

Restorative justice schemes operating in loyalist and
republican neighbourhoods bring the perpetrators of low-
level crime face to face with their victims to agree an
appropriate penalty.

Sinn Féin and other supporters of the schemes argue they
are a viable alternative to the expulsions and so-called
punishment attacks meted out by paramilitary groups.

Unionist and nationalist critics, however, fear republicans
in particular want restorative justice organisations to act
as an alternative to the police in their neighbourhoods.

The programmes are currently funded by American
philanthropists but, with the money due to dry up soon,
supporters would like them to be officially state-
sanctioned, receiving British government funding.

Under draft guidelines, the British government last month
envisaged the majority of state- funded restorative justice
groups referring a case they would like to handle to an
advisory panel featuring the Police Service of Northern
Ireland and representatives of the scheme, Probation Board
or Youth Justice Agency.

However, in republican areas where people refuse to engage
with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), there
would be no obligation on those running schemes to deal
with police officers directly.

Instead they could alert the PSNI about cases they would
like to deal with by contacting the Probation Board or
Youth Justice Agency who will pass the proposal on to the

The PSNI would consider if there needs to be any action –
such as fingerprinting – before referring a case to the
Public Prosecution Service which would ultimately decide if
a community restorative justice scheme should handle it.

Unionists, however, have accused the British government of
devising proposals which would put police involvement in
restorative justice at an arms length.

In a fresh offensive against the plans, the nationalist
SDLP also warned the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI)
yesterday that its credibility could be damaged if it took
on an inspection and accreditation role under the scheme.

SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood argued: "The CJI
would be giving validation to restorative justice schemes
even when the protocol does not cover 95% of restorative
justice work.

"The protocol does not create independent complaints
schemes. The requirements around training and human rights
are inadequate.

"The commitment of restorative justice schemes to assist
the police is vague and evasive.

"The CJI has a critical role in investigating criminal
justice institutions in the North. That is the role given
to it following the Good Friday Agreement.

"It would be going into dangerous waters if it assumes a
role in monitoring and accrediting restorative justice
schemes, when the schemes are established on such weak and
shoddy principles."

Mr Hanson said the SDLP and other critics needed to be
clearer about their vision of community restorative

"At the moment it is not illegal to run a community
restorative justice scheme," the Criminal Justice Minister

"So the question for the SDLP and others is: are they
saying to me I should make it illegal to operate these

"If the funding comes from American philanthropists or any
other charitable source, should I ban that charitable

"Or are they saying I should put in place regulations to
make sure they operate within the criminal justice system?

"Alex Attwood asked me to publish these documents. I have
done it. He asked me to give the political parties a chance
to comment upon it. I have done it. He has asked me to
consider the points he is making. I will do it when he has
made them.

"I don't think to date I have had a submission from the
SDLP – they may have sent one but I haven't seen it in
front of me on my desk.

"So I would say to Alex, by all means ask us to kill off
inspection but if we do not have Kit Chivers inspecting
these schemes, they are going to operate without those
inspections and minimum standards.

"My challenge to Alex and others is come up with minimum
standards you think they should operate under."


Alliance Warns Over Justice Schemes Police 'Opt-Out'

Community-based restorative justice schemes must not be
allowed to opt out of working directly with the police, the
Alliance Party insisted today.

By:Press Association

The party called for changes to the draft Community-based
Restorative Justice Protocols following discussions with
the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Justice spokesman Stephen Farry said that, as demonstrated
elsewhere in the world, there could be significant benefits
derived from community restorative justice both for the
offender and the victim.

But he warned: "Given the desire of some to entrench the
position of paramilitaries within society or to bypass the
police, the challenge in Northern Ireland is to ensure that
any system of restorative justice reflects internationally
agreed principles, respects human rights and contributes to
respect for the rule of law."

The party, he said, believed there should be further
changes in key areas of the protocols.

"There must not be an opt-out that allows some schemes to
avoid working directly with the police. All community
schemes have a responsibility to foster support for the
criminal justice system as a whole, not to undermine its
legitimacy," said Mr Farry.

Protocols must also be extended to cover non-criminal anti-
social behaviour and the Northern Ireland Office must
formally sanction trainers and training for those operating
CRJ schemes, he added.

Speaking after talks with Assistant Chief Constable Judith
Gillespie, head of the Criminal Justice Division of the
Police Service, Mr Farry said police were central to the
current draft protocols and were adamant it could be no
other way if they were to be involved.

"Fundamentally these protocols will require significant
changes in the policies and practices of all existing
restorative justice schemes, both loyalist and republican,"
he said.

"This is not about legitimising what happens at present,
but making clear what changes are required in return for
formal state support and funding," added Mr Farry.

And he said all criminal referrals must be brought to the
attention of the police for consideration, further
investigation and cross-referencing to other case files.


Anger Over Hospital Trust Appointments

The appointment of five new non-executive directors to a
hospital trust in the west of Northern Ireland will not
inspire local confidence, an Assembly member claimed today.

By:Press Association

Dr Kieran Deeny, the Independent MLA for West Tyrone,
criticised Northern Ireland Office Health Minister Shaun
Woodward`s appointment of four out of five new non-
executive directors to the Sperrin Lakeland Trust because
they were drawn from outside its catchment area.

The appointments included non-executive directors from
Belfast, Bangor, Derry and Carryduff.

Only one of the appointees was from a council area covered
by the health trust.

Dr Deeny said: "The reality is the minister has appointed
people who are not in touch with what is going on on the
ground here in the Sperrin Lakeland area.

"This was a chance to show how serious he was about
tackling the problems.

"This community did not have much confidence in the trust
as it was and I doubt the new appointments will make any

Among those who will be joining Sperrin Lakeland as non-
executive directors were Alliance councillor Geraldine
Rice, a member of the Human Rights Commission, and the
former SDLP Assembly member Annie Courtney.

In May last year the chief executive of the trust, Hugh
Mills, resigned at an emergency meeting of the board after
a damning report criticised management.

In October Mr Woodward announced further changes, with the
non-executive members standing down and a new chair Gillian
Shaw taking over.

Dr Deeny said today people in Fermanagh, Omagh and Strabane
had so little faith in the trust that they wanted its
entire board of directors including executive directors to
be replaced.

There was also criticism of the appointments by the
Democratic Unionist health spokesperson Iris Robinson.

The Strangford MP said: "It is regrettable that the
minister has deemed local people no longer appropriate to
serve on the Sperrin Lakeland Health and Social Services

"The very point of membership of such bodies is to ensure a
local perspective and a degree of accountability.

"The local community in Fermanagh and Tyrone will struggle
to see how these new appointees can ever be answerable to
them and as a result truly represent them."

West Tyrone MP, Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty,
expressed disappointment at the appointments and said he
believed an opportunity to rebuild confidence in the trust
had been lost.

"There will be widespread anger at the decision of Shaun
Woodward to bypass local expertise in making his new
appointments to the Sperrin and Lakeland Trust.

"Of the five appointments only one, Mr Gamble, has any link
with people in West Tyrone," he said.

In particular , he said the appointment of former SDLP
Derry MLA Annie Courtney and Alliance Carryduff councillor
Geraldine Rice, would again raise questions about the
influence of their parties on quangos.

He said the influence "went far beyond the political
mandate either receive, particularly here in West Tyrone."

Mr Doherty added: "The preponderance of representatives
from these two parties in particular on unaccountable
quangos is a huge problem that the Review of Public
Administration must eradicate."

A Department of Health statement said Northern Ireland
Office minister Shaun Woodward had not been able to appoint
local people to serve on the trust.

They had instead had to draw from a public appointments
database of people from across Northern Ireland.

"The minister decided, in the exceptional and difficult
context facing Sperrin Lakeland Trust at this time that it
was not possible to appoint members who live locally
despite the fact that it is normally highly desirable so
that trusts are overseen by people with strong roots in the
community they are serving," the department said.

"This confirms the approach he took when it was necessary
to ask the previous chairman and non-executive directors to
stand down, not because of fault on their part, but because
it had become impossible for them to fulfil their
responsibilities in the face of undue pressures in the
local context.

"Given that the new appointments are only for the interim
period between now and the creation of new trusts in 2007,
he is determined to ensure that there is more normal local
representation when the time comes to make appointments to
the new trusts."


'Orangeism For The 21st Century' Is Unveiled

By Elinor Glynn
Monday 9th January 2006

Orangemen and women can network together as equals for the
first time following the formation of "Friends of the

The new initative, launched at the weekend by the
Independent Loyal Orange Institution, was lauded by
Imperial Grand Master George Dawson as "Orangeism for the
21st Century".

Speaking at the Imperial Grand Lodge of the Independent
Institution on Saturday, Mr Dawson commended the 'Friends'
to the wider Protestant and Unionist community in Northern

"It takes into account the pressures on time which people
today experience," he said.

"It creates a support mechanism for Orange principles and
practice outside traditional structures but is secure in
the knowledge that those principles will be clearly and
effectively represented.

"Importantly, for the first time, it allows for both men
and women to participate together as equals in this Orange
network," said the Imperial Grand Master.

Based on the model of a professional body, Friends of the
Institution will deliver consistent messages to key opinion
formers on behalf of its support base while delivering
regular updates to its membership via a quarterly

This new structure will allow those who, up until now, have
remained outside Orange lodges for whatever reason to
associate formally with Orange and Protestant principles in
a new and exciting way. "In this time of increased
cooperation between the loyal orders, it also facilitates,
as never before, linkages between members of the various
loyal orders," said Mr Dawson.

"I have every confidence that Friends of the Institution
will enable the promotion of all that is best within the
Orange family for many years to come," he said.

Anyone seeking to find out more about the initiative can
log on to


Opin: Why The US-UK Extradition Treaty Should Not Be

January 1st, 2006

The US Senate is choking on the US-UK Extradition Treaty
(full text pdf:
because they are concerned that it might adversely affect
civil liberties of people living in the United States. The
irony is that the treaty protects those liberties much
better than it protects the liberties of British citizens.
But we have no Senate to protect us.

The proposed extradition treaty was signed on March 31,
2003 by US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, and the British
Home Secretary David Blunkett. It was transmitted by the
President to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
in April 2004, and was considered by them on 15 November
2005. The Committee hearings were held in private and no
transcript has been published, so we don't know exactly
what happened, but it appears that the Committee declined
to vote on the treaty. This is a major problem for the
passage of the treaty, as the full Senate cannot consider
the treaty until the Committee has approved it.

Opposition to the treaty in the US is based on fears that
it removes the exception for political offences, allows for
extradition even if no US law has been broken, removes any
statute of limitations, applies retroactively, and allows
the UK authorities to try a person for an offence other
than that for which he or she was originally extradited.

The failure of the Committee on Foreign Relations to vote
on the treaty is the result of opposition from American
Civil Liberties Union
( probably doesn't matter
the Republican-controlled Senate) and from the Ancient
Order of Hibernians and other Irish-American organisations
( probably
does matter).

If the treaty removes liberties from US citizens it do so
even more from people under the jurisdiction of the UK.
Under the existing 1972 treaty, the US has to produce
evidence sufficient to make a case to answer under UK law,
whilst the UK has to satisfy a "probable cause" test for
extradition from the US. (These are broadly similar in
effect: the requirement for prima facie evidence is
probably a little more onerous than the requirement to show
probable cause.)

Under the new treaty American prosecutors no longer have to
provide prima facie evidence in order to extradite a
citizen from the United Kingdom. Article 8 of the treaty
only requires the US to provide a statement of the facts of
the offence only. By contrast, Article 8.3(c) of the treaty
requires UK prosecutors to supply information in an
extradition request providing a "reasonable basis to
believe that the person sought committed the offence for
which extradition is requested".

Unlike many commentators on this treaty, I don't think the
main problem with it is lack of reciprocity. There are
precedents for extradition treaties to contain provisions
which are not entirely reciprocal (for example, different
countries have different arrangements for the treatment of
their own nationals in extradition proceedings).

The problem with this treaty is that it removes the liberty
of a person not to be extradited without the presentation
of evidence, at least in respect of extradition from the
UK. The treaty has had to be asymmetrical because the US
Bill of Rights protects US citizens:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches
and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall
issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be
searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

As a result, the US cannot agree to extradite to foreign
countries unless the requesting country produces evidence
on which it bases its request.

However, the UK Bill of Rights
( no
similar protection, and so the UK Government has had no
qualms about signing 47 extradition treaties (including
with Russia and Albania) which permit extradition without
requiring prima facie evidence of wrong-doing. And that is
the problem with this treaty.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the US takes a
very broad view of its extra-territorial jurisdiction, as
we have seen in recent cases of financial crime. This can
result in extradition being sought by the US where the
alleged offence was committed in the UK, the alleged victim
was in the UK, the relevant documents and witnesses are in
the UK, and the defendants whose extradition is sought are
resident in the UK.

If this treaty is ratified, the US authorities will be able
to extradite people whom they consider fall under their
jurisdiction, without providing any evidence, even if the
legal authorities in the UK do not consider that a crime
has been committed or that there is sufficient evidence to
prosecute here.

This treaty may never be ratified if the Irish lobby is
successful in convincing the Senate that the treaty will
allow IRA sympathisers to be extradited to the UK, where
they cannot be sure of facing a fair trial.

But the real problem here is that the Government has
quietly given away, in this treaty and many others, the
right of British citizens not to be forcibly removed to
another country without the presentation of some evidence
against them.

That is why this treaty should not be ratified.

About Owen Barder

Owen Barder is a Senior Program Associate at the Center for
Global Development (, a non-profit
policy institute whose mission is to make globalisation
work for the poor. He is also a Visiting Scholar in
Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Owen
works on issues of health, public finance, aid
effectiveness, the political economy of Africa, and the
institutions of the international system. He is a member of
Kofi Annan's Task Force on Information and Communications
in Development.

Before that, Owen was Director of Information,
Communications and Knowledge at the Department for
International Development ( He has
responsibility for external communications, development
awareness, civil society, information and communications in
development and knowledge sharing, as well as DFID's own
systems for communications and collaborative working.

Owen has been head of Africa Policy Department, and before
that led a cross-Whitehall team set up by the Prime
Minister to advise on the development of a new partnership
for Africa. He was team leader for the Imfundo Project
(, the Prime Minister's initiative
for technology in education in developing countries.

Owen was Tony Blair's Economic Affairs Private Secretary,
in 10 Downing Street, in 1999-00. He was responsible for
microeconomic policy, including trade and industry, the
knowledge economy, environment, transport, regional policy,
education, employment, science, and modernizing government.

From 1997 to 1999, Owen was seconded for two years to the
Government of South Africa, working on the development of
the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Budget Reform,
and on development of the new system of intergovernmental
fiscal relations.

From 1988 to 1997, Owen was an official at H M Treasury
( His roles included being
Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
coordinating the public spending system, forecasting the
world economy, forecasting and analysis of domestic labour
markets, and medium term macroeconomic policy analysis. He
also set up the UK Government's first website.

From 2000 to 2004, Owen was a non-executive director of
OneWorld (, a not-for-profit whose
mission is to promote the use of the internet and media for
the benefit of the world's poor.

In his private life, Owen is a marathon runner and writer
about running (Running for Fitness
(, 2002) and Get Fit
Running (2005).

Personal details & contact information

Nationality: British
Date of birth: 20 February 1967
Address: 12 Colnbrook Street, London, SE1 6EZ, UK.
Telephone: +44 778 897 8107

Full CV (


Opin: How Easy It Is To Forget The Good Among The Bad

By Tom Kelly

There is something odd about the human condition that
allows us not to forget but at the same time leaves us slow
to remember. We tend not to forget things done against us
and tend not to remember things done for us.

All too often we can recall the minutiae of a hate and
separatism fuelled in another age by other people but not
remember the magnitude of goodness enriched and borne out
of a shared history.

Last week saw a tale of two medals – one awarded by the
Irish state and the other by the British government – both
of which exercised the jaundiced opinions of those who
wished to take offence either through misjudged principle
or well targeted prejudice.

Apparently a PSNI recruit wore a medal belonging to his
grandfather at a passing-out parade in Garnerville. The
medal probably would not have caused a second thought to
anyone had it been his own. It certainly would not have
caused any angst to unionist representatives had it been a
UDR medal. The fact that it was a medal awarded by the
Irish state in the 1940s to IRA veterans of the War for
Independence seems to have fired the loins of the Ulster
Unionists, the DUP and, it seems, some members of the
Police Federation. The Police Federation are supposed to
represent rank-and-file members of the police service. They
are de facto a form of trade union. De facto they are
supposed to represent the make-up of the entire service.
Now it appears some just don't get the message that the
days of cold house for nationalists within the service are

The political jibes were cheap but not unexpected.

It is ridiculous to make an issue out of a medal awarded in
a different age and in a different context. The failure to
recognise the ever changing context continues to blinker
unionism and blind Provisionals. Here in my office I am
looking at my grandfather's framed medal for the same war
and his framed prison certificate marking imprisonment for
active service from 1919 to 1921.

It's ironic they sit so comfortably alongside those of his
own father who served in the Royal Irish Rifles in the Boer
War and who rejoined the Royal Engineers in the First World
War. Would those same unionists or indeed any
unreconstructed nationalists want me as a Policing Board
member to disown the bravery of my grandfather or great
grandfather? Does my remembrance in any way demonstrate
support for the IRA?

Both men served Ireland differently and were recognised
differently by two states but each was, as Sean Lemass
said, "motivated by the highest of purpose". That this
young recruit wore this medal should be seen as a sign of
how far we have transformed policing. Those who supported
his right to display the medal should also remember that in
protecting his right comes the acceptance of the diverse
symbols and traditions that make up Northern Ireland.

This brings me to the second medal, an OBE awarded by the
government and which will be presented by the Queen. It
seems to have sent a shiver through some nationalist
circles who believe acceptance is a dilution of Irishness.
To me it represents a maturity and confidence in Anglo-
Irish relations, the type that falls naturally from the
very spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.

The fact that it is presented by the Queen is neither here
nor there and in such matters President McAleese has shown
considerable leadership in exploding the nonsensical
position that suggests meeting, dining or shaking hands
with the Queen somehow contaminates one's Irishness.

A copy of the City Charter awarded by the Queen to Newry is
also prominent on the walls of my office, alongside a
picture of Senator Ted Kennedy awarding me a certificate;
which is lodged between my sponsorship of the first PSNI
Gaelic team and a bust presented to me of Daniel O Connell
– the Liberator.

Living with diverse and at times seemingly conflicting
aspects of our identity is part and parcel of the
complexity of being Irish.

AE Russell wrote: "Ireland has not only the unique Gaelic
tradition but it has given birth, if it accepts all its
children, to many men who have influenced European culture
and science; Berkeley, Swift, Goldsmith, Burke, Sheridan,
Moore, Hamilton, Kelvin, Shaw, Yeats, Synge and others. If
we repudiate the Anglo-Irish tradition, if we say these are
aliens, how poor does our life become?" Perhaps it's not
too late to remember his words.


Opin: Welcome Words

Editor: Colin O'Carroll

Bertie Ahern's positive and optimistic words on the peace
process in an RTE interview yesterday were as welcome as
they were timely. The Taoiseach is reflecting a view that's
widely held across this island when he said that now is the
time to move forward. That he will be working hard with
British Prime Minister Tony Blair to get the political
institutions back up and running is good news – we await
now to see if he will match his words with action.

What's clear, though, is that Messrs Ahern and Blair are
going to have to take a different tack when and if this
reinvigorated drive is launched.

Certainly, there can be no more pussyfooting when it comes
to dealing with those in the DUP who are quite happy to sit
on their hands and do nothing to engage with other
democratically elected representatives.

For too long the Irish and British governments have been
happy to allow unionist naysayers to have the whip hand.
Any new initiative must be predicated on the simple
assertiont that those who want to stand still – or, indeed,
go backwards – will be left behind in the unstoppable push
towards the restoration of the political institutions.

If harsh words have to be spoken to the DUP to drive home a
few home truths, then so be it. There is too much at stake
here to allow the mistakes of the past to drag down our
hopes for the future.


Opin: Year Of Ó Cadhain

Editor: Colin O'Carroll

Celebrations to mark the 90th anniversary of the Easter
Rising later this year should not overshadow the centenary
of the birth of one of Ireland's great scholars and
revolutionaries, Máirtín Ó Cadhain.

A complex, self-made man who remains the pre-eminent Irish
author of his time, Ó Cadhain's impact spread far beyond
the cloistered halls of Trinity College where, late in
life, he was invited to lecture.

While many have sought to claim his robes since his
untimely death in October 1971, the reality is that only
Ireland, rather than any group, party or sect "owns"
Máirtín Ó Cadhain's legacy.

That said, he was a victim of McCarthyism — the Bishop of
Galway gave him his marching orders from a school in Carn
Mór, Co Galway, because he objected to his republican
beliefs (which, subsequently, landed the author in the

His priority of course was the Irish language and it's
fitting that Cumann Merriman will come together next week
in Co Mayo to consider and celebrate his legacy. RTÉ Raidió
na Gaeltachta also plans a major retrospective of his work
and Cré na Cille — the Irish Ulysses — will undoubtedly
enjoy a resurgence in popularity from those brave enough to
tackle this towering literary work.


Opin: Praise The Paisleys For 'Death's Door' Delicacy

By Susan McKay

I have found a reason to be grateful to the DUP. A couple
of years ago, Ian Paisley looked exceedingly ill and was
rarely seen on television.

Gaunt and ashen, he popped up occasionally like a malign
jack-in-the-box to whisper an intemperate outburst but for
several months Peter Robinson's hairdresser was kept very
busy indeed.

Then Paisley came back, boom restored, and slated
'Romanist' journalists for falsely putting it about that he
was sick.

More than a year later, his son, Junior, revealed that his
father had indeed been at death's door and that family and
friends had feared they were going to lose him.

It is for this that I am grateful. Not for the sectarian
slur on my profession but for the discretion. The fine
religious metaphor of "at death's door", the euphemism of
the feared loss.

Am I the only squeamish one who nearly passes out when the
newsreader starts delivering the latest details of Ariel
Sharon's bleeding brain?

Did others pale and reach for the off switch when George
Best's doctor appeared on the steps of that hospital day
after day to give the latest instalment on the
deterioration of the second liver? Did anyone else have to
put aside their breakfast during those reports about septic
shock and the insertion of nasogastric feeding tubes into
the dying body of Pope John Paul II?

"They say that I am dying," Mr Paisley, in the middle of
his unspoken about illness, said. "It takes a long time to

It took George Best a long time to succumb to his
alcoholism. It took the Pope a long time to die of old age
and its multiple afflictions. Anyone else remember the
death of President Tito of Yugoslavia in 1980? It went on
for months.

Bulletins from his bedside included blow- by-blow accounts
of the gangrene which eventually led to the amputation of
his left leg. After he died, there was a joke: 'Did you
hear the news about Tito? He's still dead'.

The then US president, Jimmy Carter, was among those who
sent Tito 'get well soon' messages. Carter himself had his
health problem 'outed' to the world when, on Christmas Eve
1978 President Anwar Sadat of Egypt announced that his
"good friend Jimmy" had haemmorhoids and appealed to all
Egyptians to pray for his recovery. Carter wrote in his
diaries that this had produced a miracle cure.

He stopped short of making an announcement about it,
feeling his affliction had received quite enough publicity.
This was undoubtedly one of the wiser decisions of Carter's

There is the question of dignity. It is unfair but piles do
raise a snigger, though it took the sick mind of a comedian
of the Protestant evangelical tradition from our own dear
Ulster to find the Pope's Parkinson's disease funny.

Embarassment about the things we have to let medics do to
us is alleviated by the knowledge that what happens behind
the curtains in the hospital ward is a private matter
between professional and patient. There is something wrong
when the celebrity's doctor becomes a celebrity doctor.
Some people believe that the Pope's 'courage' in suffering
the breakdown of his body was inspirational.

Catholics were moved when he appeared at his window to try
to address the faithful crowd below and couldn't speak. But
wasn't that enough? We didn't need to be told what was
happening in his throat.

The literal interpretation of illness is proper to those
with prescription pads and scalpels. There are other ways
of reading it. Death is mysterious. After it, as
Shakespeare wrote, "a king may go a progress through the
guts of a beggar." Tito was a symbol of Yugoslavia, the
assault of illness on his body seen by some as an assault
on the integrity of the country. In retrospect, his death
prefigured the bloody breakdown of the state. Sharon, who
heartlessly slaughtered Palestinians, had a hole in his
heart which all the walls he tried to build around Israel
could not block. George Best had a drink problem. So has
the place from which he came.

Hospital dramas on TV have a lot to answer for. Staff in
accident and emergency departments have apparently got used
to patients who rise up from their trolleys to pronounce
indignantly upon their treatment – ER viewers.

Journalists should stop this sickening intrusion into
intensive care.

And, just this once, let us praise the Paisleys for their


Opin: Wish List Shows Road To Brighter Future

The Tuesday Column
By Breidge Gadd

Forget new year resolutions for a moment while I indulge in
a few new year wishes.

Some of these are achievable – there is a way if only there
was also a will.

Some things I've given up wishing about. The return of the
local assembly here in 2006 is one such issue. The long,
drawn-out spates over trust and commitment – fights which
are turning out with the disclosure of subsequent events
like Stormontgate to have very suspect substance – have
finally drained me of the hope and excitement that I
originally carried for our own Northern Ireland government.

I, like the vast majority of the population, am caring less
and less whether we ever manage to have another sectarian
government for a sectarian people.

I would like the magic fairy to wave a wand though and
distribute some amnesia powder over both journalists and
politicians so that they forget the past – well, that bit
of it that is about infiltration, double agents, who's
spying on whom and so on.

While breaking news of spy catching can initially thrill,
there is little long-term relevance to our future well-
being to continue dissecting the news that a republican
gave information about that organisation to British
authorities over the years.

The IRA declared a ceasefire 10 years ago, for goodness
sake. And during a war that lasted 30 years we can be sure
every organisation for and against the state was
infiltrated with double, treble and all sorts of agents and

Not to mention the sophistication of modern satellite
intelligence which, with minimum involvement of humans,
could tell the Brits everything they wanted to know about
republican and loyalist plans.

Next on my list of wishes is another one with an outdated
link with the past. This one is topical and is easily

Please can the Policing Board and the chief constable bear
in mind that they are the guardians of a modern, effective
police service – not a police force with its head turned to
the past.

What in the name of goodness are new recruits doing (a) at
a passing out parade (presumably in modern speak, a
graduation ceremony) and (b) wearing medals of any

Do graduating doctors or accountants or other young
professionals turn up for their big day wearing their
granddad's medals on their chests? Neither should our young
police recruits.

So would those in charge please modernise these practices
and haul this new post-Patten service away from a
preoccupation with past wars.

My third wish should be fairly straightforward. I would
like the secretary of state to ask the Republic's
government to assume responsibility for the Westlink
bypass's new flyover/under.

We have been told that this will take three years. At
Northern Ireland pace that probably actually means at least
six years of traffic hold-ups in every main route through

I may be wrong but it does seem that southern roads get
built much quicker – maybe centuries of Irish navvying on
the motorways of England has built up a proud tradition of
speed and success in this area.

The Republic's involvement in taking on this key job would
be a wonderful example of north/south cooperation.

And my final wish.

Let this be the year when our leaders realise that the only
sensible thing to do is build a proper replica of the
Titanic in Belfast instead of the currently-proposed,
hugely expensive light show, surely guaranteed to become an
exercise in disappointment.

Okay, the cost is mind boggling but it would be an
attraction that would put Belfast on the world tourist map
with all the long-term economic benefits that this enduring
fascination would bring.

Even the building of such an enterprise could be a major
attraction in itself.

So my wishes are simple. The connecting thread is a
heartfelt wish that we could find some way to extricate
ourselves from the quicksand that is our obsession with the
blame game about the past. As if there was one simple
truth. I wish that we could find a way to acknowledge and
indeed accept that foul deeds were done by all sides. So
that we start to design and build our own future together.


Ireland Holds Third Freest World Economy

By Brian Trought
Epoch Times Ireland Staff Jan 06, 2006

Ireland is ranked third amongst the world's freest
economies behind Hong Kong (No. 1) and Singapore (No. 2),
according to a survey published on Wednesday by the
Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal.

This is the twelfth straight year that the two Asian port
cities have taken first and second spot in the Index of
Economic Freedom, with both having improved on last year
thanks to reduced government spending in Hong Kong and a
cut in tax rates in Singapore, the survey said.

Edwin J Feulner, president of Heritage Foundation, a
Washington based think tank, said: "Hong Kong has the best
score it's ever had, and the gap between Hong Kong and
Singapore remains fairly substantial."

Mr Feulner also said the gap between No 2 Singapore and No
3 Ireland was quite narrow, and Luxembourg, Iceland, the
United Kingdom, Estonia and Denmark are close behind in the
top 10.

"The governments in Ireland and Luxembourg are doing some
very sensible things," said Feulner.

He pointed out that the two countries are generally seeking
to replicate Hong Kong and Singapore's success in using low
taxes, light regulation and strong legal systems to attract
corporate investment.

But while one of them may be able to dethrone Singapore,
Hong Kong's grip on the top spot looks secure unless it
makes major policy shifts, he said.

"For Luxembourg, Ireland, or Estonia to really break
through and become No 1 is going to be difficult because
they're working within these constraints coming out of
Brussels," he said, pointing to EU restrictions on
agricultural trade.

Elsewhere, China and India, two of the world's fastest-
growing economies, are ranked quite low: 111th and 121st
respectively out of 157 countries.

High taxes, barriers to foreign investment and a strong
government presence in the economy through state-owned
enterprises kept both countries from being given high
ratings of economic freedom, the foundation said.

Myanmar (Burma), Iran and North Korea were ranked the
least-free economies.

The index's rankings for the 157 nations in the survey are
based on factors including openness to trade and foreign
investment, the size of government and its involvement in
the economy, regulation of wages and prices, and protection
of property rights.

Overall, the survey found that 99 countries improved from
last year, while 51 declined and five were unchanged. The
only regions to see a net decline in the freedom rankings
was North Africa and the Middle East.

Mr Feulner said the overall pattern indicates economic
liberalisation is generally advancing worldwide.

"This isn't just an academic exercise. More economic
freedom means more economic growth, which means higher
income for the average person," he said.


Magistrate Alarmed By Drunken Crime At Odyssey

By Sharon O'Neill Chief Reporter

AN entertainment complex promoted as Northern Ireland's top
family destination is in danger of becoming a mecca for
drunken crime, a magistrate warned yesterday.

Desmond Perry voiced concern that the internationally
renowned Odyssey was attracting the "same type of
behaviour" associated with another area of Belfast lined
with pubs and clubs.

His comments came as police confirmed they made 94 arrests
at the east Belfast complex last year – an average of
almost two a week.

With all facilities under one roof, the centre – which
boasts a number of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs, as
well as a concert arena – is at its busiest at the weekend.

During a public order case at Belfast Magistrates Court
yesterday, involving a man arrested at the complex, Mr
Perry said: "It seems to me that the Odyssey Complex is
attracting the same type of behaviour seen at Bradbury
Place a year or so ago.

"This is particularly worrying as the Odyssey at its
inception was meant to be a place for family

Bradbury Place is in the heart of the university area in
south Belfast known as the 'Golden Mile'.

As well as drink-related crime such as assaults and
stabbings in the area, Lavery's bar was targeted in a
drive-by shooting in 2001.

Two years ago the business community warned it could become
a 'no-go' area following serious loyalist rioting.

Last night the Odyssey strongly disputed Mr Perry's

"The Odyssey Trust does not accept that there is a
disproportionate problem regarding behaviour by customers,"
trust chief executive Alex Bell said.

"The trust works closely with local police to ensure that
visitors and especially families have a safe and enjoyable
night out."

However, east Belfast assembly Naomi Long said: "There was
concern there were too many bars – that it was going to be
an indoor pub crawl venue. That is not what the Odyssey is

"There is always a risk [of crime] when you have people
fuelled on alcohol. It is something that has to be
addressed. We don't want to have a prime location turned
into negative publicity."

The Odyssey has also been in the spotlight over car crime
and police launched an offensive to combat that.

Last night the PSNI noted that 4.2 million people a year
use the complex.

"Police work even closer than before with the Odyssey to
provide resour-ces for premises with a late licence, which
remain open when the family-oriented entertainment is
coming to a close," a spokesman said.

"Officers from east Belfast district command unit will
continue to ensure the Odyssey remains a safe venue for
everyone to enjoy and anyone who is seen to create a
disturbance will be dealt with appropriately by police."


Yob Concern At Entertainment Site

Management at Belfast's Odyssey complex has said it does
not accept there is a "disproportionate problem" with bad
behaviour at the complex.

It follows comments by a city magistrate who said the site
seemed to be attracting loutish behaviour.

Last year, police said there were 94 arrests at the
entertainment complex.

In a statement the Odyssey Trust said it works closely with
police "to ensure that visitors and especially families,
have a safe and enjoyable night out".

The comments stemmed from a hearing in Belfast Magistrates
Court on Monday, relating to the arrest of a man at the

Resident Magistrate Desmond Perry said that it seemed to
him that the complex was "attracting the same type of
behaviour seen at Bradbury Place a year or so ago".

"This is particularly worrying as the Odyssey, at its
inception, was meant to be a place for family
entertainment," he said.

Police said they have worked in partnership with the
Odyssey since before it opened.

In the beginning, the Odyssey had an arena, cinema and
cafe, and required modest police resourcing, they said.

Now, four years on, approximately 4.2 million people per
year use its facilities.

Police said they worked even closer than before with the
Odyssey to provide resources for premises with a late
licence, which remain open when the family oriented
entertainment is coming to a close.

In a statement the police service said: "Officers from East
Belfast District Command Unit will continue to ensure the
Odyssey remains a safe venue for everyone to enjoy, and
anyone who is seen to create a disturbance will be dealt
with appropriately by police."

Local Alliance Party councillor Naomi Long said she was
concerned at the level of bad behaviour being reported, and
that if police were dealing with "yob" incidents at the
Odyssey then they were not patrolling the streets of east

"It is an important tourist attraction, it's an important
resource for the city and we don't want it being sullied by
the actions of a few reckless people," she said.

"I think there is a way round this, when car crime was a
particular issue (at the site) the police and the trust
worked together and managed to get this resolved.

"I think we need to do this inside the complex."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/10 08:14:34 GMT


Toxic Waste Creates Hermaphrodite Arctic Polar Bears

By David Usborne in New York
10 January 2006

Wildlife researchers have found new evidence that Arctic
polar bears, already gravely threatened by the melting of
their habitat because of global warming, are being poisoned
by chemical compounds commonly used in Europe and North
America to reduce the flammability of household furnishings
like sofas, clothing and carpets.

A team of scientists from Canada, Alaska, Denmark and
Norway is sounding the alarm about the flame retardants,
known as polybrominated diphenyls, or PBDEs, saying that
significant deposits have recently been found in the fatty
tissues of polar bears, especially in eastern Greenland and
Norway's Svalbard islands.

Studies are still being carried out on what impact the
chemicals might be having on the bears, but tests on
laboratory animals such as mice indicate that their effects
can be considerable, attacking the sex and thyroid glands,
motor skills and brain function.

There is also evidence that compounds similar to the PBDEs
have contributed to a surprisingly high rate of
hermaphroditism in polar bears. About one in 50 female
bears on Svalbard has both male and female sex organs, a
phenomenon scientists link directly to the effects of

"The Arctic is now a chemical sink," declared Colin
Butfield, a campaign leader for the Worldwide Fund for
Nature, which last month indicated that killer whales in
the Arctic were also suffering from elevated levels of
contamination with fire retardants as well as other man-
made compounds. "Chemicals from products that we use in our
homes every day are contaminating Arctic wildlife."

The pollutants are carried northwards from industrialised
regions of the US and western Europe on currents and
particularly on northbound winds. Contaminated moisture
often condenses on arriving in the cold Arctic climes and
is then deposited, ready to enter the food chain.

For several years, scientists have observed how the
concentrations of the pollutants are magnified as they
ascend the food chain, from plankton to fish and then to
marine mammals such as seals, whales and polar bears. The
new study, first published last month in the journal
Environmental Science and Technology, shows, for instance,
that one compound was 71 times more concentrated in polar
bears than in the seals they normally feed upon.

Conservationists are especially alarmed by these new
findings because of the already fragile condition of the
Arctic polar bear populations, some of which could be
devastated before the end of the century. As warming
temperatures erode their hunting grounds, polar bears in
Canada's western Hudson Bay region, for instance, saw their
numbers slide from 1,100 in 1995 to only 950 in 2004.

The dangers now posed by the PBDEs are reminiscent of the
crisis 30 years ago over PCBs - polychlorinated biphenyls -
a highly toxic by-product of many industries that was also
found to be migrating to the Arctic. The dumping of PCBs
was swiftly banned. Since 2004, manufacturing has stopped
in the US of two of the most toxic retardants, called penta
and octa. Stockpiles of both still exist, however.

According to Derek Muir, of Canada's Environmental
Department and a leader of the new research, there are
signs of a slightly different retardant, typically used in
construction materials and furnishings, also showing up in
the Arctic and in the bears, called HBCD. "It's a chemical
that needs to be watched, because it does biomagnify in the
aquatic food webs and appears to be a widespread

The research team tested 139 bears captured in 10 different
locations across the Arctic region. They found that the
bears in Norway's Svalbard, a wildlife refuge where all
hunting is banned, had 10 times the levels of the chemicals
than bears in Alaska and four times those in Canada.

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