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January 23, 2006

Finucanes Rethink Hain Talks

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 01/23/06 Finucane Family Rethink Hain Talks
UT 01/23/06 Durkan Warning Over DUP Plan
DI 01/23/06 O’Loan:There’s No Spy Raid Clean Bill Of Health
DI 01/23/06 Racists Target Protest Bloody Sunday March
BT 01/23/06 PMs To Announce New Talks Process
BB 01/23/06 Gunman Targets Activist At Match
BB 01/23/06 Murder Review Team To Begin Work
SF 01/23/06 Prison Review Into Deaths - Action Required
SF 01/23/06 11+ Opponents Accused Of Scare Mongering
BT 01/23/06 Opin: Brown's Plan Shuts Out Unionists
IN 01/23/06 Opin: A New Politics With Vision Is Needed
DI 01/23/06 Opin: Hain Hands Over Hostage To Fortune
IN 01/23/06 Opin: Monkeying Around Won’t Get Pols Anywhere
BT 01/23/06 A Derry Confusing City
BT 01/23/06 Call-Centre Jobs In Whitehall May Go To India
IT 01/23/06 Catholics Warned Against Vote For Gay Marriage
HC 01/23/06 U.S. Losing Its Luster As A Talent Magnet
DI 01/23/06 Documentary: Free Derry Period Examined
DI 01/23/06 Casey Denies Return Plans
DI 01/23/06 Floozy In Jacuzzi Refloated


Finucane Family Rethink Hain Talks

Collusion probe campaign continues

By Chris Thornton
23 January 2006

The family of Pat Finucane are having second thoughts about meeting Secretary of State Peter Hain after he told them to forget about an inquiry into the solicitor's murder if they won't accept the one proposed by the Government.

Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, and other relatives had asked before Christmas to see Mr Hain about the long running dispute over the terms of the inquiry into collusion between the security forces and Mr Finucane's UDA killers.

But last week Mr Hain told The Universe, a Catholic newspaper, that the inquiry will be held under the controversial Inquiries Act or there will be "none at all".

The family have campaigned for almost 17 years for an inquiry into the murder, but say they "cannot not take part in any Inquiry set up under the Inquiries Act", arguing that it destroys the independence of the tribunal investigating the case.

The Government rushed the Act through Parliament last year in order to hold the Finucane inquiry. It gives Ministers, rather than chairmen of an inquiry, the power to keep information secret.

"The truth of what happened and why is located in the secret corridors of Whitehall," the Finucanes said in a statement.

"The family cannot get involved in any inquiry in which the ministers in charge of those very same corridors will be in charge of Pat's inquiry.

"The family have received widespread international support for their current stance. They will continue and step up their campaign for an independent public judicial inquiry.

"In view of what Peter Hain has said, the family are now considering whether it is worthwhile meeting him."

The judges in charge of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal and retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory, who recommended the inquiry into the 1989 Finucane murder, have indicated that the conditions imposed by the Act are unacceptable.

More than eight months after passing the Act, the Government has been unable to find a judge who will agree to chair the Finucane inquiry.

Mr Hain says the Act would guarantee the cooperation of MI5 agents in the collusion inquiry because it would protect their sources. "It will enable the security services and police to give evidence in a frank way and help find the truth," he said.


Durkan Warning Over DUP Plan

The DUP would be able to call the shots on political progress in Northern Ireland if the party's proposal for a shadow Assembly was adopted, Irish American politicians were warned today.

By:Press Association

As his party embarked on a round of briefings of senior US politicians in Washington and New York, SDLP leader Mark Durkan demanded the British and Irish Governments set a date for the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland now.

"We have now had almost three and a half years of suspension," the Foyle MP said.

"It is now time to end the bluffing, quit the posing and put the parties under real pressure.

"Instead of more negotiations behind closed doors that they can string out forever, we want to put them under pressure to get the Good Friday Agreement going now.

"The SDLP will also be warning against the DUP proposal for a shadow Assembly.

"Such a flawed internal arrangement lets the DUP call all the shots.

"They can sit back knowing that there will only be restoration at a time of their choosing."

Prime Minister Tony Blair will visit Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin on Thursday as the British and Irish Governments resume efforts to revive devolution.

Both leaders are pinning their hopes for political progress on what they hope will be a positive report from the ceasefire watchdog, the Independent Monitoring Commission on paramilitary activity, later this month.

However, while there are signs the report may say the Provisionals are moving in the right direction following their statement last July declaring an end to their armed campaign, the report may not give the IRA a totally clean bill of health.

The DUP will not enter a power-sharing government which would feature Sinn Fein until it is satisfied the IRA threat has gone for good.

It also wants the British and Irish Governments to address a series of unionist concerns before political progress can be made.

But the party is also planning to submit a 16-page document to Downing Street this week outlining how, in the absence of full-blown devolution, the Assembly could function in shadow form until the province is ready for power-sharing.

The Ulster Unionists have also proposed changes to the Assembly`s rules, allowing all 108 MLAs to vote for their preferred models for a temporary form of government.

At the weekend, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams joined the SDLP in calling on Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain to lift the suspension of devolution and trigger the d`Hondt mechanism in the Assembly for selecting power-sharing ministers.

Mr Adams also called for Northern Irish representation in the Dail to be advanced, the delivery of a peace dividend for Northern Ireland and border counties in the Republic, an end to the debate on policing, and progress on outstanding work on security normalisation, human rights and equality.

Mr Durkan was being accompanied on his visit by the SDLP`s deputy leader and South Belfast MP Dr Alasdair McDonnell and former party leader John Hume.

The SDLP leader said: "We will also be warning against British Government attempts to skew the Parades Commission and play with its powers, and the dangers that holds for the marching season, as well the threats to human rights and to Patten by British plans for unaccountable state paid vigilante groups.

"The SDLP wants real restorative justice, not paramilitary justice in disguise."


O’Loan Says There Was No Spy Raid ‘Clean Bill Of Health’

Connla Young

The Police Ombudsman’s Office has rejected claims that she gave the PSNI’s 2002 Stormont raid a ‘clean bill of health’.

A spokesman for Nuala O’Loan last night said recent media claims that she gave the PSNI’s controversial October 2002 raid at Sinn Féin offices at Stormont a ‘clean bill of health’ were ‘not an accurate description’ of her findings.

The raid, which involved dozens of heavily armed PSNI members, was carried out as part of an investigation into the existence of an alleged republican spy ring.

The fallout from the raid eventually led to the collapse of the Stormont Assembly.

Just days before Christmas last year it emerged that a central figure in the alleged spy ring conspiracy, Denis Donaldson, had worked as a paid British agent for two decades.

Nuala O’Loan has refused to confirm or deny if she is aware of the identity of any British ‘intelligence source’.

The Ombudsman was moved to clarify her position last night after claims were made in Phoenix magazine that she totally absolved the PSNI for their part in the high profile raids.

In August 2004, Mrs O’Loan said there was no evidence to substantiate claims that the searches were “politically motived”

She went on to say that the PSNI operation was “totally disproportionate”.

In a statement issued to Daily Ireland’s sister paper La, Mrs O’Loan again highlighted her concerns about the PSNI raid.

“Our investigation was clear that although the search operation was itself legal and justified, the scale and manner in which it was conducted was totally disproportionate.

As the Phoenix article suggests, the phrase “a clean bill of health” is not an entirely accurate description of its findings.”


Racists Target Protest March

Fascists at Bloody Sunday commemoration


A man whose brother was killed on Bloody Sunday last night said a commemoration parade in Scotland had narrowly avoided erupting into serious violence.

A police chief also yesterday said he had feared the consequences if a large group of loyalists had managed to attack the parade in Glasgow.

Eleven people were arrested on Saturday after loyalist protesters tried to disrupt the Bloody Sunday commemoration.

Up to 400 loyalists turned out to oppose a parade to mark the 34th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Members of the British army’s Parachute Regiment gunned down 13 nationalists during a civil rights demonstration on January 30, 1972, with a 14th victim dying of his wounds in June that year.

On Saturday, hundreds of police officers were mobilised after Scottish loyalists, some waving Union flags and giving Nazi salutes, lined the parade route through Glasgow city centre.

The parade was held up for 30 minutes after police expressed concern about the clothing worn by some of the loyalists.

After the march began, participants were subjected to a volley of racist and sectarian chants from loyalist demonstrators, while several bottles were thrown.

Gerry Duddy, whose brother Jackie was among those killed on Bloody Sunday, spoke at the weekend commemoration.

Mr Duddy last night said it had been a frightening experience for those who took part, but praised the restraint of the marchers.

“At one point, there were bottles, glasses and various other things being thrown at the marchers,” he said.

“However, despite the provocation, there was little reaction from the marchers and this ensured that things stayed relatively peaceful. The organisers also deserve praise for how well the parade was marshalled.”

Strathclyde police confirmed that 11 people had been arrested for offences including breach of the peace, assault, and possession of a knife.

Assistant Chief Constable Kevin Smith said the situation had been tense during the parade.

“We had to deploy a significant number of officers to ensure that a group of 300 or 400 did not attack a procession of 1,000 or more. You can only imagine what could have happened if that had occurred,” he said.

Jim Slaven, of the march organiser Cairde na hÉireann, said the marchers had behaved in a dignified manner.

“That’s what we would expect. People on the parade behaved with great dignity and respect. It was a peaceful march from our point of view,” he said.


PMs To Announce New Talks Process

By Brian Walker and Noel McAdam
23 January 2006

A resumed talks process for restoring the Assembly and setting up a powersharing Executive by next year is to be announced by Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern in Dublin on Thursday.

The two Premiers will presage the release of the latest Independent Monitoring Commission report on paramilitary activity expected to be made public next week.

And - as revealed in the Belfast Telegraph last week - the political parties will then be involved in talks co-chaired by Secretary of State Peter Hain and Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern at Hillsborough from Monday, February 6.

Confirmation of Mr Blair's visit to the Irish government's official hospitality centre, Farmleigh House, in Phoenix Park, came on the eve of his Downing Street talks with the DUP.

Ian Paisley is expected to outline his party's proposals for a potential Assembly administration falling short of Executive responsibility - already spurned by Sinn Fein - at the afternoon meeting tomorrow.

But the timing of the Dublin meeting, which was set before Christmas, emphasises both PMs' acceptance that the success of the talks does not depend exclusively on whether the IRA is given a completely clean bill of health by the IMC.

Officials privately expect it will take a further two IMC reports before the climate is transformed to allow the DUP to consider sharing power at Executive level with Sinn Fein.


Gunman Targets Activist At Match

A Sinn Fein activist was threatened at gunpoint as he played football in County Londonderry, the party has said.

A man wearing a balaclava and carrying a handgun approached the player and threatened him at the start of a match at Ballysally, near Coleraine.

The player flagged down a car and managed to escape. The incident happened at about 1100 GMT on Saturday.

Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard said it was not clear if it had been a scare tactic or a potential attack.

"It is hard to say from initial reports if this was an elaborate scare tactic or if a real attack was avoided by the quick thinking of our activist who fled the scene," he said.

"The attacker definitely asked for the person by name and was approaching him across the pitch pointing the weapon.

"Whatever the motivation, there are guns in loyalist areas and are being targeted at one of our activists.

"The message has got to be given loud and clear. There is no place for this in Coleraine."

The police have appealed for witnesses to the incident.

The gunman is believed to be in his 20s, about 5ft 10ins tall and was wearing black clothing.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/23 11:39:06 GMT


Murder Review Team To Begin Work

A team of detectives is due to re-open files on 100 unresolved murders of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

It marks the official start of work by the Historical Enquiries Team, which has a budget of more than £30m.

The team, led by retired Metropolitan Police Commander David Cox, will re-examine a total of 3,268 killings between 1969 and the 1998 peace accord.

They will begin by focusing on murders from April 1969. The entire review will take up to seven years to complete.

The Historical Enquiries Team has a two-fold role: to assist families with any unanswered questions, and to ensure that all remaining investigative opportunities are examined and exploited fully.

The squad of about 100 detectives and support staff will use the latest forensic science and intelligence analysing technology.

Northern Ireland's Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, said he hoped it would bring closure to many families.

Jail terms

Mr Cox said the team's two main aims would be to "offer answers and a greater level of resolution to bereaved families".

There will be two distinct investigative units - one will be made up exclusively from officers from outside Northern Ireland, who would work on cases, where, for example, there had been allegations of security force collusion.

The team said they would be operationally independent from the PSNI, but would report to the chief constable.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain, said it was quite possible that people would serve jail terms as a result of the new murder investigations.

He said some of the murders involved members of the security forces and all would be investigated thoroughly.

The team will need between five and seven years to complete its work.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/23 06:36:55 GMT


Prison Review Into Deaths - Action Required

Published: 23 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Human Rights and Equality Spokesperson Caitríona Ruane is available to comment on the "A Review of Non-natural Deaths in Prison Service Establishments (June 2002 - March 2004)" that is due to be published today.

Speaking ahead of the report into prison deaths Ms Ruane said:

"Last year, following several controversial deaths by suicide in Maghaberry prison, the British government chose to ignore the recommendations of its own Prison's Inspectorate and transferred women to an even more unsuitable prison, Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre. Yet, over the last two years there have been number of reports into the Prison Service. It is vital that recommendations from these reports as well as the one published today are acted on.

"When I visited female prisoners in Hydebank last year to inspect their conditions I was shocked and saddened that many of the women and girls were being held in worse conditions than in Maghaberry, with no in-cell sanitation in particular being a key concern while the majority of prison officers were male.

"The attitude and ethos of the current prison regime can be rigid and overbearing towards women prisoners and most of all there was a sense of despair among many that their plight was being ignored by those in positions of authority. Health and particularly mental health needs are not being met within the prison system. It is particularly important that the issue of mental health and well being is taken far more seriously both by the Prison Authorities and also by the judicial system." ENDS


11+ - Opponents Of Change Accused Of Scare Mongering

Published: 23 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Michael Ferguson MLA has accused the opponents of the ending of the 11+ of scare mongering and said challenged them to produce evidence that an end to academic selection will lead to an end to grammar schools.

Mr Ferguson said:

"The pro-grammar school lobby are peddling a lot of myths about the end of academic selection and the 11+. The fact is that there is no evidence that ending 11+ will lead to the destruction of grammar schools. When people like Bob McCartney are involved in a campaign of misinformation is vital that those who want to see the best opportunities for all of our children speak out.

"The use of academic selection at the age of 10 or 11 through the 11+ fails 80% of our children annually. It brands the majority of our children as failures and has an adverse impact on many in terms of their sense of worth and esteem.

"The perception that grammar schools are the most favoured schools is also incorrect. Three out of the 4 of the most oversubscribed schools are not grammar they are integrated. Already many grammar schools work beyond the 11+ and are coming increasingly all ability and comprehensive in nature as they seek to take pupils of all grades in response to falling rolls.

"What opponents of change are saying is that they what to protect a system that works well for a few but fails the majority. This is not a argument in favour of choice, it is an argument in favour of elitism. We need an education that celebrates and promotes all intelligence and we should prioritise the achievement of all a child‚s abilities and recognise that exams are only one way to measure intelligence.

"What we need is to make every school the best school. This requires investment that is no there at the minute." ENDS


Opin: Brown's British Day Plan Shuts Out Unionists

Pól Ó Muirí
23 January 2006

Who said the following: "Britain is a place where you can be who you want to be?" Chancellor Gordon Brown in his recent speech celebrating Britishness or conservative leader David Cameron in a pitch to voters from ethnic backgrounds?

Neither. The line is by Commander Michael Henderson, captain of HMS Camden Lock, and star of BBC2's latest and funniest sci-fi comedy, Hyperdrive.

Henderson and his crew are boldly - and Britishly - going where no one has gone before in the 22nd century to promote British trade interests in the furthest flung corners of the galaxy.

As part of his mission he has to explain to aliens what Britain is - and then beg them to set up a business in Peterborough.

(In one episode, set in 2151, Henderson meets aliens and tells them he is representing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. No united Ireland by 2016 then?)

It says much about national identity that a line spoken in jest on a comedy series could actually come from a politician's speech.

It is not surprising that national identity should still be a burning issue in the far future. It is one of those questions from which no country escapes - and one which Ireland and Britain are particularly taken with.

While Brown chews over Britishness, Bertie Ahern's decision to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising is raising questions about Irishness.

Still, Brown's speech was an odd one for someone who might be responsible for implementing the Belfast Agreement. Brown's hint that Remembrance Sunday might be considered a "British Day" in the same way in which Americans celebrate the Fourth of July is bad.

Nationalist Ireland is slowly coming to terms with its war dead from the First World War and many are still reluctant to attend official ceremonies. Turning it into a national day would not help.

(At least Brown did not suggest turning the Twelfth into a UK-wide celebration.)

Yet, while the theme of Brown's speech should excite unionists' hearts, there is actually little of comfort in it for them.

When Brown talks of "a commitment to the British values of liberty, responsibility and fairness also means taking citizenship seriously," you can almost hear the UUP taking down notes.

However, when Brown talks of such values and devolution, it is Scotland he has in mind. "Dual" nationality is Welsh people feeling comfortable, being British at the same time.

While Brown is oblivious to nationalist feelings, he is equally disinterested in local unionist sentiment. His speech was aimed at England, Scotland and Wales only. The second-most powerful man in British politics did not even mention Northern Ireland.

Talk about a lesson in real politics for local parties - and voters.

FOR all rugby fans who have fallen by the wayside and have not attended international games in Lansdowne Road due to lack of tickets - rejoice!

Croke Park is open for business for rugby internationals next year. Dig out your jersey and rediscover your faith. You are in for a treat.

Croke Park is the best stadium in Ireland by a country mile: comfortable seats; great views of the pitch and good beer and hotdogs. And, should your team win, it offers the perfect sporting day out. (Come on Armagh!)

Two pieces of advice. First, don't be afraid to wear your Ulster rugby top; the locals will just think you are Tyrone fans.

Should they remark, "Are you missing Canavan?", just reply, "Aye, he's a big loss."

Second, don't park illegally on the Drumcondra Road. The clampers make no distinction between Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.

THAT was a strange tale about donkeys being stolen from Armagh and ending up in a field in Limerick. Who stole them?

The DUP are furious because of southern interference in the internal affairs of Ulster's asses; Sinn Féin are blaming the securocrats for destabilising donkey society; the SDLP are blaming Sinn Féin for being donkeys themselves; the Alliance Party want all donkeys to live together peacefully and the UUP are asking: "Donkeys? What donkeys? No one said anything to us about donkeys?"


Opin: A New Politics With Vision Is Needed

The Monday Column
By Roy Garland

Last week Democratic Unionists provided Tony Blair with what they called a new ‘building block’ for progress. They claimed this could build trust and lay a foundation for devolution even if there was no prospect of Sinn Fein involvement – well, not for the ‘foreseeable future’.

Paisley then warned government they had ‘to deliver for the unionist community’.

Many unionists share the belief that political developments have not favoured their interests but I can’t accept this. The ceasefire, decommissioning, Sinn Fein in Stormont and in effect accepting partition, the consent principle, working British rule, seeking equality, collusion with state forces and so on. All of this should be seen as in unionist interests as is the reduction of alienation among nationalists. We need a new society in which all have a stake. Alienation among loyalists is admittedly a pressing problem but DUP rhetoric helped foster this although today we hear less about sell-outs from Paisley because the DUP have no one left to blame but themselves.

Nationalists believe in unity and unionists in the union but we could yet have the best of all possible worlds – in charge of our own affairs with intimate linkages north-south and east-west. We can have our cake and eat it. In reality most recent political developments have been in everyone’s interest. Unionists however turned victory into defeat while Provos turned defeat into an apparent victory.

Still while the battlefield is being cleared we can begin to move forward in a way that benefits everyone – the IMC report not withstanding. Incidentally the IMC claims, among other things, to be investigating money laundering but members reportedly earn as much as £600 each per day, which prompts the question – just who is laundering whose money?

Paisley helped to ensure that Ulster Unionists appeared to fail, enabling the DUP to jump in and grab the spoils. But the DUP now face dilemmas of their own making. Initially driven by religious ideology they have almost gone full circle and sold the pass on their core fundamentalism. They are trying to transform into a modern political party with the same weaknesses as others. Whatever enhances the prospects of gaining power is all that matters now but what are they to do with their old style political Protestant adherents?

Religious rhetoric cannot be easily abandoned because Neanderthals remain at the centre clinging to their fundamentalist creed. They are ready to pounce on leaders who make any serious move towards inclusion. Weakened the fundamentalists may be but they can still bite. Until now Paisley could shout, Not an Inch, No Surrender and Never, Never, Never, but he has given more than inches and knows that ancient entrenched positions clash with the impression of change he is trying to create.

The DUP claims the peace process has only delivered for nationalists. But politics based on this kind of reactionary thinking will fail. We have got to begin thinking on a broader canvas and to ensure that what we think is good for one tradition is also be good for others. The reluctance to seek a future for everyone is one of the major reasons why so many have been turned off politics. People want a new politics that can inspire with an inclusive vision and are fed up with politicians who constantly look over their shoulders at what the backwoodsmen are doing. While politicians must bring people with them they must also lead and utilise all opportunities that can enable us to shape our own future rather than have it shaped for us.

Those who talk of delivering exclusively for unionists or exclusively for nationalists are living in cloud-cuckoo-land. The future is Irish; the future is British; the future is a changing world that can accommodate diverse cultures and traditions. The future is humanity living in an environment that can sustain us for generations to come. We are in the happy position where Irish and British as well as Europeans and Americans wish us well and want to see progress towards greater stability, peace, harmony and economic success.

We must harness the good will and consign the destructive luxury of sectarian rhetoric and conflict to the history books. We must begin acting like responsible adults rather than like rivalling children in a nursery school.


Opin: Hain Hands Over Hostage To Fortune

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says Hugh Orde told him the IRA, as it promised, had put its operations to bed — contrary to what top cop and old RUC hand Sam Kincaid told the North’s Policing Board last week.

All of which would place the Irish and British Governments on course to announce a new era in Irish politics after this week’s International Monitoring Commission report.

Except, except… Hugh Orde’s spokesman says the Taoiseach picked him up wrong. Interestingly the North’s security minister Shaun Woodward also mis-heard the PSNI, British army and assorted spooks who brief him as before Mr Kincaid’s pronouncement he too believed the IRA as an active organisation was a thing of the past. One wonders will the IMC have a similar hearing problem? To date, they have managed to produce reports which could have been scripted by Messrs Ahern and Blair though, of course, they were the result of arduous research and rigorously independent detective work.

Could the IMC turn out to be Frankenstein’s Monster by producing a report this week which is more Kincaid than Woodward?

Certainly, that’s what their trusted spook sources are telling the scribblers in the Sunday papers. However, one suspects that Mr Ahern might demand more evidence than some elements of the fourth estate when it comes to judging the intentions of the IRA.

British Secretary of State Peter Hain will surely rue his suggestion yesterday that the outcome of these negotiations can be anything short of the Good Friday powersharing and cross-Border arrangements. Already, like a new boy trying to ingratiate himself with the upper sixths, Mr Hain has told journalists that he likes Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson. In doing so, he scored a first for British diplomacy but despite the show of sycophancy, the DUP leaders have yet to speak of their ‘friendship’ with Mr Hain. By stating that the DUP proposals for a Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People — albeit with a new tradesman’s entrance wing for the SDLP — “could lead to a good result”, Mr Hain has given a hostage to fortune. He must tell the DUP that it’s the Good Friday deal or nothing. History tells us that the DUP will oppose all change. After all, in the ‘60s the Paisleyites railed against one-man-one-vote and fair housing allocations never mind the release of prisoners under the Good Friday Agreement, reform of the RUC and revamped equality legislation. For decades, when told changes were being implemented, they swiftly adapted. The DUP is ready for the powersharing institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and Hain must make them play their part.

For its part, the SDLP is just plain silly to enter into discussions with the unionists about a deal short of what the people voted for in 1998. They should wise up and get down to making John Hume’s dream a reality.


Opin: Monkeying Around Won’t Get Politicians Anywhere

By Tom Kelly

Have you ever heard of the Arctic Monkeys? No? Well, they are not the source material for the police impounded coat owned by Celebrity Big Brother contestant, Pete Burns. They are, in fact a group who the music world is hailing as the new Oasis. I am more prone to a bit of Christy Moore but occasionally, musically speaking, I venture further a field.

In truth my wife is the fan and through her that I became aware of the band’s latest album – Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I Am Not.

In the week that was – there were quite a few who could have laid claim to the album title. Firstly, NIO minister Shaun Woodward who seemed to know what he was when making bold pronouncements on the future of our health service.

The minister is also Chair of the Task Force on Organised Crime – or at least that’s what people say he is. The sense of purpose he conveys in both roles is convincing but evidence suggests that in one of his roles his bullishness is more a case of bluff.

At a time when trust is the most important missing ingredient from our political process, wishing, thinking or premature proclamations can undo the careful choreography of the political game play. Caught in the crossfire of this misguided ministerial missile, was Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kincaid. His assessment, as most right thinking people would have suspected, was that all paramilitary organisations were still involved in organised crime as the IRA being the more organised and

sophisticated of all paramilitary organisations was unlikely to have been able to dismantle nearly 40 years of illegal activity in four months.

More importantly and in fairness to Sinn Fein whatever their political will and intentions, the leadership is both unlikely and perhaps unable to decommission the personal wealth and status accrued by the criminal masterminds in the Provisional Movement whose corrupt genius fed ‘the cause’ and fuelled the Costa lifestyles. What the bone fides of some, the lifestyles of many senior provisional created by criminality will not be forsaken as easily as ‘the cause’.

The outbursts by the Provisionals, that the dichotomy of views between the minster and the PSNI, was driven by ‘unreconstructed’ politically driven elements within the police were pure and utter balderdash. Like Denis Bradley, I have come to respect and admire officers like Sam Kincaid who have zealously been to the forefront of the change agenda within the police service. Sam is a police officer who when asked a straight question will give a straight answer. The political fallout from such questions or answers is a matter for politicians, not police officers. In this case the meeting at which the matters were discussed was supposed to be private, unfortunately someone mischievously decided to breach its confidentiality. The minister would be well served to consider that so called ‘unreconstructed forces’ are likely to be found in many parts of the Northern Ireland establishment – not least evidence by the Stormont gate and the Donaldson affairs. Sinn Fein cannot blame other parties for enjoying their recent unease as they have been relentless in highlighting the perceived shortcomings of others. The ultimate irony has arrived, not only when the government are spying on Sinn Fein and vice versa, but when it’s Sinn Fein calling for the restoration of Stormont and not the DUP.

“Power sharing must resume,” president Adams says in January 2006; “and we in Sinn Fein are ready for the challenge of serving in government”. Contrast this with the words of Martin McGuiness in 1996 before the elections to the then new assembly; “The unionists want their new assembly. The British government want to give them their assembly. We are not going to give them their new Stormont. We are not going to be part of their new assembly.” A case of whatever people say I am that’s what I am not? You bet.

Only now its Sinn Fein who want the assembly up and running again and it’s the British government who want to give it to them. Hain’s recent threat to cut the assembly salaries has brought forward a raft of proposals from the main parties aimed at kick starting the process but if there is to be any integrity left in our political process, then there should be no rush to return to government for the sake of thirty pieces of silver.

But then again we have a process governed by the wisdom of the Three Brass Monkeys, not the lyrics of Arctic Monkeys.


A Derry Confusing City

We reveal 'restricted' papers on name change

By Brian Hutton
23 January 2006

Government officials purposely avoided using the term "city" when drafting controversial laws that allowed Londonderry Corporation to change its name to Derry City Council more than 20 years ago, we can reveal.

Official documents marked "restricted" and seen by the Belfast Telegraph also show that the name altered to Derry by a 1984 order was the title of the district covered by the council, not the council itself.

The change of the council's name led to major divisions between nationalists and unionists.

And the anger resurfaced again last year when councillors voted to mount a legal challenge to determine whether the 1984 legislation, when combined with other laws, meant that the name of the city also automatically changed to Derry in 1984.

Now, documents seen by the Belfast Telegraph show that the Government deliberately avoided making any references to Londonderry as a city in the 1984 legislation - though legal advice suggested that the district would be known as a city.

In an internal letter from a Department of Environment solicitor dated February 6, 1984, he states that the term "city" should not be used in the legislation.

He wrote: "Even though the district of Londonderry is to be known as a city it is still a local government district, ie, a district.

"Also the council referred to district in their request for the change."

The correspondence, held by the DoE, was obtained by this newspaper after an appeal case under the Freedom of Information Act.

Senior department officials said that a district can be known as a borough or a city but were unable to define the boundaries of a city in Northern Ireland.

"We have no reason to have an interest in where a city boundary ends," one DoE director said.

Confusion remains but the revelation potentially throws up an anomaly whereby outlying loyalist villages such as Newbuildings are in the district of Derry, whereas nationalist strongholds like the Bogside are in Londonderry city.

A report prepared by QC Francis Farrelly for Derry City Council, however, argues that the city's name also changed to Derry in 1984.

But this is disputed by unionists who claim the primacy of the Royal Charter which originally conferred the title Londonderry on the city.


Call-Centre Jobs In Whitehall May Go To India

By Barrie Clement
23 January 2006

Ministers are secretly planning to switch tens of thousands of civil servants' jobs abroad in the biggest exercise of its kind by a British government.

Under the unprecedented cost-cutting initiative, call centres and some other functions at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Whitehall's biggest ministry, are expected to be moved to eastern Europe or India where pay is a fraction of that earned by staff in Britain.

A confidential document dealing with the security implications of such an exercise reveals that the Government is considering proposals by private companies to take work overseas.

"This could involve the transfer of part or even all of the functions of a DWP area of business that would have previously been located in the UK, to a centre located outside the UK," says the document, written by the department's security team. The memorandum warns that strict measures will have to be taken to ensure that sensitive information is not leaked.

One or two minor civil service functions involving small groups of employees have already been moved "offshore", but never whole business areas of a major Whitehall department.

Leaders of PCS, the largest union in the civil service, fear that the policy is being replicated in other ministries.

The union expressed concern that call centres dealing with pensioners, job seekers and benefit claimants - some of the most difficult queries to deal with - may move overseas.

The revelations about ministers' intentions will deepen the bitterness of DWP staff - who are due to walk out on Thursday and Friday - over 15,000 job cuts prompted by the Chancellor's insistence on a slimmed-down Civil Service. It could also provoke a backbench rebellion among Labour MPs.

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of PCS, said his organisation had not been consulted despite the fact that 70 per cent of the department's 120,000 staff were members of the union.

"This shows utter contempt for unions and the workforce. The document clearly shows they are not flying a kite, these are detailed security proposals.

"This Government has privatised more civil service work than the Thatcher and Major governments. When in opposition, Labour would have cried foul if a private company did this.

"Politically, this is huge. It is the Government as an employer prepared to look overseas to cut labour costs. The question is, do we want a public service based in the UK, serving the citizens, or do we want to move to a more commercialised model?"


Catholics Warned Against Vote For Gay Marriage

By Eoin Burke-Kennedy  Last updated: 23-01-06, 13:07

A leading Irish theologian has warned that Catholics should not vote for legalising civil unions between people of the same sex in the event of a referendum.

Fr Vincent Twomey, professor of moral theology at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, said: "When the state recognises civil unions between people of the same sex, it gives public recognition to private intimacies that by their very nature cannot produce children."

Writing in the February issue of the religious periodical, The Word, Fr Twomey said: "To ask a Catholic politician or citizen to vote for civil unions is to ask them to give public recognition to acts which the church has always taught are, objectively speaking, gravely sinful, since they constitute a misuse of our God-given sexuality."

Fr Twomey added: "One of the main reasons for giving civil recognition to such couples, on a par with marriage, is to grant them legal entitlements, such as inheritance rights.

"There is some justification to giving lasting friendships (whatever their nature) some legal entitlements similar to those of the next of kin.

"But these are rights that can be otherwise regulated by legal contracts. Redefining marriage is too high a price to pay," he said.

Last week the Taoiseach said a referendum to change the Constitution to legalise gay marriage would not be passed by voters.

But Mr Ahern said the Government was prepared to change legislation to ensure that gay couples could inherit property and pension rights from each other and qualify for tax entitlements enjoyed by married people.

Mr Ahern was speaking after the publication of details of a report by the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on the Constitution that advises against changing the definition of the family enshrined in the Constitution.

The Oireachtas Committee is understood to fear that such a move could spark a divisive referendum. The report recommends changes in the legislation to create civil partnerships for cohabiting and same-sex couples.

The report will be published in full tomorrow.

© 2006


U.S. Losing Its Luster As A Talent Magnet

Other countries are morphing into brainy hot spots

By Cheryl Hall
Dallas Morning News

DALLAS - Worried about global outsourcing? Chances are you're focused on the wrong end of the job equation.

Every day, hundreds of trained workers leave the United States for opportunities abroad.

This talent outflow poses more long-term dangers to our economy than the migration of low-skill-level jobs to cheaper foreign labor markets.

Many are going home — lured by improving homeland economies and highly targeted recruiting programs aimed at poaching America's brainpower.

"The United States used to have a monopoly on skilled immigration," said David Heenan, a former senior executive with Citigroup and author of Flight Capital: The Alarming Exodus of America's Best and Brightest.

"Whether it was Alfred Hitchcock, I.M. Pei, Peter Drucker or Albert Einstein, this was the place where everyone wanted to be. Few other countries were even in the game. That's no longer the case."

Now we have people like Hong Kong-born Edison Lui, former director of clinical sciences at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

He is moving to Singapore to head that country's impressive genome institute. When Heenan asked him why, Lui said, "It's a small city-state of 4.5 million people where I can get decisions out of the government in a week, not three months."

Heenan estimates that up to 1,000 legal immigrants — many in leading-edge professions such as science, engineering, medicine and technology — make U-turns home each day.

Emerald Isle's draw

He gets that admittedly squishy number by taking the figures of returning expatriates in such countries as India, China, Singapore and Ireland and then working backward.

Ireland? Yes, Ireland.

The Emerald Isle has zeroed in on more than 1,000 Irish immigrants living here and working in life sciences and technology. It's holding massive recruiting fairs and pursuing them with gusto, he said.

"For many attendees, it's shock and awe," Heenan said. "Many have been out of the country for 10 or 20 years and aren't that knowledgeable about the dramatic improvement in Ireland's educational institutions, tax system, general economy and the depth of research money.

"Of course, there's also plenty of Guinness going down the tubes. They've clearly turned some heads."

The United States can blame terrorism for part of the problem.

"For perfectly understandable reasons, we've tightened the borders and heightened constraints on potential recruits to the United States and also those who recently arrived," Heenan said. "The atmosphere for newcomers here post-9-11 is chilling and has renewed their sense of national roots."

Americans leaving

We've removed the welcome mat, while the Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and Singaporeans are rolling out the red carpet.

For example, in the past year, Australia hosted skilled labor expos in London, Berlin, Amsterdam and various Indian cities, Heenan said. Americans who have become more adventurous about living and working abroad are taking the recruitment bait, too.

David Daniel, president of the University of Texas at Dallas, agrees that the talent flight poses a serious threat to our economic vitality. But he's even more troubled that many brilliant minds are not coming here to begin with.

"They now have almost equal opportunities to attend world-class universities in their home countries that weren't even on the radar screen 20 years ago," Daniel said. "They don't perceive America as hospitable and welcoming. They see post-graduation business opportunities that are comparable to those in America.

"Why should they leave?"

U.S. as blueprint

The rest of the world is using America's success as a blueprint, Daniel said.

"Ireland, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and Bangalore are white hot and the five most interesting places on the planet," Daniel said, then added as aside, "Remember when we used to say Palo Alto and Austin were white hot?

"Of those, Singapore is the most dynamic. It's clearly on a path to create a science, technology and university magnet that will make them the high ground of Asia."

The United States can't afford to wait for a cool-down, he contends. Competition for skilled labor will only get worse.

As much as Singapore has accomplished in the past 10 years, even it's worried, Daniel said.

"They see the beast across the ocean: China."


Free Derry Period Examined

Documentary plans to examine the ‘no-go’ period after the Battle of the Bogside

by Ciarán O’Neill

A new documentary on the historic Free Derry events of 1969 is to be screened by the BBC later this year.

The programme is entitled No Go — The Free Derry Story. It will also be screened in cinemas and at several film festivals.

The Derry-based film company Open Reel Productions has been commissioned by the BBC to make the documentary.

The programme will feature interviews with people caught up in events surrounding the Battle of the Bogside and the eventual creation of the Free Derry zone.

There will also be previously unseen footage from the period.

The Battle of the Bogside took place in August 1969. The nationalist population in the Bogside area of Derry took to the streets to confront the RUC in the wake of an Apprentice Boys parade in the city.

The riots continued for almost three days and resulted in more than 1,000 people being injured. The “battle” ended when, in an unprecedented step, British troops were deployed to Derry, a decision that was to shape the future of the North for more than 30 years.

The new documentary will focus on the nine-week period after the riots.

Open Reel spokesman Vinny Cunningham said it was an important period in Irish history.

“The three-day ‘battle’ ended when the British army arrived on August 14, 1969. However, the barricades surrounding the Bogside area and others remained intact.

“Some weeks after the army’s arrival, in a surreal twist, the barricades were replaced by a single painted white line marking the ‘borders’ of Free Derry, which the British army and the RUC agreed to respect and didn’t violate. It was to be nine weeks or so before any British security presence would enter.

“The documentary will concentrate on the period between 14th August 1969 and October 1969,” he said.

Mr Cunningham said the documentary would include interviews with people from the Bogside and members of the British army and the RUC. He said the production company was keen to hear from former Irish army personnel stationed along the Border, particularly the Derry-Donegal border, in 1969. “This is an important historical documentary. We want to hear people’s memories and recollections of that period between 14 August and mid-October 1969,” he said.


Casey Denies Return Plans

by Ed Carty & CiarÁn O’Neill

The controversy over the expected return to Ireland of Eamonn Casey, the former bishop of Galway, took a new twist yesterday.

It was said that Dr Casey would return to Ireland in the near future after living in exile in England for 14 years.

However, the former bishop yesterday told RTÉ that he had no plans to return to Ireland until allegations of sexual impropriety made against him had been withdrawn.

Dr Casey has had to stand aside from active ministry in England after a woman made an allegation about an incident of some years ago.

Gardaí in Limerick have been investigating claims that he abused a woman during his ministry in Ireland.

Dr Casey said he had never been contacted by either the Garda or British police about the allegation.

Earlier yesterday, the bishop of Galway called on Dr Casey to apologise for his affair with a US divorcee before returning to the diocese.

Bishop Martin Drennan said: “I think in some way he has let the church down and that requires some admission of guilt. Yes, I think a public apology would be very welcome in that sense. The bishop denied that there had been a concerted effort to force Dr Casey out of Ireland after the revelation he had a teenage son broke 14 years ago.

“All of the rumours round that he was blocked from coming back — that was not true. He was never actually forbidden from returning to Ireland,” the bishop said.

“As far as I know, every bishop is happy that he [Eamonn Casey] is coming back.”

Dr Drennan said he would have preferred if Dr Casey had stayed in Galway.

“I suppose my own preference at the time would have been had he stayed put and faced the situation as it was. Possibly because of the pressure at the time, he felt it wiser to get out of the environment.

“I think in today’s climate we’d be more inclined to encourage a person to take responsibility for their actions and then see what consequences they needed to look at.

“He knows that he made a huge mistake and he knows it himself and he has said it to me as well,” he said.

Dr Drennan praised people’s ability to forgive Dr Casey.

“Everyone agrees what happened was traumatic. It disturbed people’s faith and caused a lot of anger. Everyone agrees. They say time has moved on. We have all moved on. We’d like to bring this to a closure through forgiveness.”

Dr Casey was appointed bishop of Kerry in 1969. While there, he had a relationship with Annie Murphy but the affair and birth of his son Peter remained secret until 1992.

As bishop of Galway from 1976, Dr Casey continued his active ministry until the controversy became public.

After the scandal broke, he left Ireland to work in the missions in Ecuador. He then took up a ministry in England.

It was revealed yesterday that a parish priest in the diocese of Galway had been asked to stand aside from his duties following allegations of sexual abuse.

Dr Drennan visited the concerned parish yesterday and informed parishioners of the man’s decision to stand aside.

He said the Garda and the Health Service Executive had both been informed of the allegations.


Floozy In Jacuzzi Refloated


Dublin’s most notorious damsel, affectionately christened the Floozy in the Jacuzzi is to be re-erected alongside the River Liffey.

The Anna Livia statue and fountain, previously in the middle of O’Connell Street, have spent the past four years in a crate in a council depot in Raheny. Dublin City Council said it had found a new home for the much-loved harlot in the Croppy Memorial Gardens facing Collins Barracks.

Anna Livia, also given the unfortunate nickname of the Hoor in the Sewer, was erected in O’Connell Street in 1988.

The statue was named after Anna Livia Plurabelle, a character in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

The original site is now home to the world’s tallest sculpture. At 120 metres tall, the Spire of Dublin was designed to be seen right across the city. Its official title was not sacred for long, with the capital’s sharp wits renaming it the Stiletto in the Ghetto, Stiffy in the Liffey and Nail in the Pale.

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