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January 13, 2006

SF & Brits Trade Blows Over OTRs

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News About Ireland & The Irish

EX 01/13/06
SF trades blows w/ Govt over OTR
II 01/13/06 Sinn Fein's Economic Policy U-Turn
BT 01/13/06 Orde's New Details Ended Spying Case
DU 01/13/06 What & When Did Blair Know Asks Dodds
IN 01/13/06 West Belfast Observation Post Will Go
IN 01/13/06 SF Man Back In Party After Conflict
NH 01/13/06 Opin: Well Done Stephen Magennis
DI 01/13/06 Opin: Trainspotting Not Government Option
IN 01/13/06 Shock At Death Of Tyrone Politician
BT 01/13/06 Husband Of SDLP Agent Killed In Crash
BT 01/13/06 Ulster Gospel Star's Tour Ends In Tragedy


Sinn Féin trades blows with British Government over

By Paul O’Brien and Dan McGinn

THE British Government and Sinn Féin spent yesterday
attacking each other following the dramatic collapse
of legislative proposals to deal with paramilitary
fugitives, or “on-the-runs.”

Northern Secretary Peter Hain withdrew the Northern
Ireland (Offences) Bill from the Commons on Wednesday
in the face of mounting opposition.

The bill was designed to ensure that those wanted for
offences committed prior to the 1998 Good Friday
Agreement would be free to return to the North if they

The bill met fierce opposition in Belfast and
Westminster from opposition parties, victims’ groups
and human rights organisations.

Sinn Féin, which had sought such a bill for years,
initially appeared to embrace the proposals.

However, it withdrew its support last month when it
became clear that members of the British security
forces would also have qualified.

Mr Hain later laid the blame for the debacle at the
party’s door. “How on earth they thought security
forces could be excluded, I don’t know.”

But Sinn Féin accused Mr Hain and his colleagues of
wishing to hide the truth about British collusion in
paramilitary crimes.

“Any objective examination of the British Government’s
approach to date on this question will show its
overriding concern has consistently been to hide the
truth about its own role in the conflict,” said MLA
Philip McGuigan.

Yet precisely the same accusations have been levelled
at Sinn Féin. The SDLP has accused the party of
wishing to cover up the full facts about IRA murders.

Meanwhile, the family of murdered Belfast solicitor
Pat Finucane yesterday said suggestions it had
influenced Sinn Féin’s stance were wide of the mark.

Mr Finucane was shot dead by members of the loyalist
UDA/UFF at his home in 1989.

British security forces are believed to have colluded
in the killing. Under the bill, those linked to the
murder could have been granted amnesty.

But Mr Finucane’s son, Michael, also a solicitor, said
yesterday: “There has certainly been no expression of
support or opposition [to the bill]. My family have
not taken a view on it.”


Sinn Fein's Economic Policy U-Turn

Brian Dowling
Political Correspondent

A MAJOR shift in economic policy by Sinn Fein was
signalled yesterday as it unveiled a radical re-think
of previous far-left policies.

Launching the first of three internal discussion
documents, party chairman Mitchell McLaughlin
acknowledged the party was attempting to address the
rapid economic change of recent years and the
emergence of "a different world".

While the document calls for corporation tax to be
increased from 12.5pc to 17.5pc, it was clear this
would not be a major sticking point if the party was
faced with the prospect of entering a coalition.

Overall, however, the document heralds a clear
departure with the policy of creating a "socialist
republic" that has been espoused by the party.

Facing increasing political attacks for adopting North
Korea style socialist economic policies Sinn Fein has
embarked upon a detailed revamp of all its policies.
The discussion documents are part of a process to
prepare the party for the next general.

The first document deals with all-Ireland enterprise
and job creation while the next two will deal with
taxation and trade issues.

The document released yesterday argues for all-Ireland
economic structures and says Ireland should follow the
economic model of the Nordic countries rather than
those of Boston or Berlin.

It states that Sinn Fein recognises "that some
socialist economic models have not produced the
results we want" but goes on to challenge the belief
that low taxes are necessary to sustain

Mr McLaughlin said the five Nordic countries were
among the 10 most competitive in the world, even
though they had higher taxes and world class public
services. "Ireland is 26th in the world league of
competitiveness and this shows that it is possible to
have an economy that has some higher taxes, better
social protections and can still be among the most
competitive in the world," he argued.

The document makes no mention of policies such as
nationalising banks or dominant State control of
economic activities and businesses. Instead, it says
Sinn Fein should support the primary role of the State
as a "regulator" and also the provider of social

The document urges support for developing a
progressive business culture.



Orde's New Details Ended Spying Case

Blair's role not part of decision

By Chris Thornton and Michael McHugh
13 January 2006

The decision to drop charges in the Stormont spy case
was sparked by information from Chief Constable Sir
Hugh Orde and not Ministers, the Government repeated
yesterday as a new row broke out.

Solicitor General Mike O'Brien revealed that Prime
Minister Tony Blair was consulted about the case, but
almost a year before the trial collapsed.

Mr O'Brien said the Prime Minister's involvement
"formed no part" of the decision to drop charges in
the case that ultimately exposed Sinn Fein official
Denis Donaldson as a being a British agent.

Mr Blair was questioned by the DUP earlier this week
about his links to the case, and he repeated that "as
far as I am aware, I certainly was not consulted on
whether this prosecution should be dropped".

DUP MP Nigel Dodds said he was not satisfied with the
answers. "What precisely is the truth?" he asked.

"Given the Prime Minister's track record of making
misleading statements on issues relating to Northern
Ireland it is easy to doubt the sincerity of Mr
Blair's answers."

Charges against the three republicans accused of being
involved in the spy ring, including Mr Donaldson, were
dropped suddenly on December 8. The three men had
denied the charges.

At the time, the chief prosecutor in the case, Gordon
Kerr QC, said the charges were being dropped because
of new information provided by the Chief Constable.

Mr Kerr said it was deemed "in the public interest" to
offer no evidence in the case. Mr O'Brien repeated
that the decision to drop charges "was informed by
facts and information provided by the chief constable
in November 2005 following a further development in
the trial process."

"No ministerial consultation took place," he said.

Mr O'Brien said the only consultation on the decision
to drop charges had been between Attorney General Lord
Goldsmith and the Director of Public Prosecutions in
Northern Ireland, Sir Alasdair Fraser.

The consultation involving the PM was a routine
request that had to do with another aspect of the
case, Mr O'Brien indicated. He said the then Northern
Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy, had been asked for
information, along with Home Secretary Charles Clarke
and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, responsible for MI5
and MI6.

Jane Winter from British Irish Rights Watch said: "I'd
like to know when the Chief Constable knew Donaldson
was an informer," she said.

A PSNI representative said: "PSNI understands the
reasons given by the Prosecution Service for
withdrawal of charges against three individuals."

"The entitlement of the three individuals to the
presumption of innocence remains intact."

Move to distance Ministers from collapse of legal

By Chris Thornton

The Government seems no closer to telling the public
how the public interest was served by dropping the
charges in the Stormont spy case.

But the latest bit of information that has emerged
about the case serves to reinforce Government claims
that the decision to drop the case was not political.

By linking the collapse of the case to information
from the police, Solicitor General Mike O'Brien is
distancing it from Ministers.

The picture is still far from complete, but Mr O'Brien
has set out some of the timings involved.

His intervention may close the gap between Prime
Minister Tony Blair's reference to there being no
consultation with Ministers about the collapse of the
case and a statement by the Attorney General, Lord
Goldsmith, saying that Cabinet members were consulted.

According to Mr O'Brien, Ministers were consulted
about the case against Denis Donaldson, Ciaran Kearney
and William Mackessy in January, 2005.

Mr O'Brien told DUP MP Nigel Dodds that "an issue"
arose in the case at that time that prompted the
Attorney General to carry out what is known as a
Shawcross exercise.

The practice, named after former Attorney General Sir
Hartley Shawcross, involves the Attorney General
writing to fellow Ministers asking them if they have
any information about the case that "might bear on the
consideration of the public interest".

The information that came from Ministers at that stage
"formed no part" of the eventual decision to drop
charges, Mr O'Brien said.

He indicated that the key point in the case came from
"facts and information provided by the Chief
Constable" in November, a matter of days before the
case was withdrawn on December 8.

The chief prosecutor in the case, Gordon Kerr QC, had
said at the time that information from the Chief
Constable had prompted the withdrawal of charges.

Afterwards, the Prime Minister told Parliament that
"no Minister had anything whatever to do with the

He added: "Obviously, we were not consulted about this
matter; it has to be a decision taken by the
independent prosecuting authorities".


“What Did Blair Know About Stormontgate Case And When
Did He Know It?” Asks Dodds

North Belfast DUP Member of Parliament Nigel Dodds has
demanded to know the truth about what the Prime
Minister knew about the dropping of the case into the
Stormont spy-ring before the case was abandoned. Mr
Dodds made his call after the Solicitor General
revealed to the House of Commons today that the Prime
Minister was consulted about the case prior to the
dropping of charges just a day after Mr Blair denied
being consulted. Nigel Dodds said,

“What exactly is the truth about what the Prime
Minister knew about the abandonment of the
Stormontgate case? It seems that whilst Mr Blair is
saying one thing about his involvement in consultation
before the case was dropped, his Government colleagues
are saying something entirely different.

Today in the House of Commons, I asked the Solicitor
General Mike O’Brien if he would go further than the
Attorney general did in his 21st December letter to Dr
Paisley and reveal exactly what ministerial colleagues
had been consulted about the Stormontgate case prior
to the dropping of the charges. The Solicitor General
told me that in addition to the Home Secretary, the
Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister himself was

This doesn’t tally with what the Prime minister told
the House yesterday. In response to my Party
colleague Iris Robinson, Mr Blair said, “All I can say
is that, as far as I am aware, I certainly was not
consulted on whether this prosecution should be
dropped”. This added to the Prime Minister’s
previous comments of the 14th December last year when
he again told the Commons that "Obviously, we were not
consulted about this matter."

What precisely is the truth? Was Mr Blair consulted
as the Solicitor General said he was or was he not as
he claims? Given the Prime Minister’s track record of
making misleading statements on issues relating to
Northern Ireland it is easy to doubt the sincerity of
Mr Blair’s answers.

He told Iris Robinson yesterday that he hadn’t been
consulted as far as he was aware. Is the Prime
Minister saying that he can’t remember being consulted
on such serious matters as the case about a major Sinn
Fein/IRA spying operation at the heart of Northern
Ireland’s government?

Whatever the answer, the Prime Minister must start to
tell the whole truth about his involvement in the
consultation process prior to the dropping of these
charges. The people deserve to know exactly how the
Prime Minister was involved."


Observation Post Will Go

By Marie Louise McCrory West Belfast Correspondent

A British army observation post at a west Belfast
police station is to be dismantled.

The the military sangar at Woodbourne police station
on the Stewartstown Road is also to be removed.

The British army said yesterday that preparatory work
had already begun for the removal of the

A spokesman said it was anticipated that the work
would be complete by the end of March.

“We can confirm that preparatory work for the removal
of the military infrastructure at Woodbourne has
started – this includes accommodation blocks, an
observation post and military sangar,” he said.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP both welcomed the move.

Alex Attwood, SDLP west Belfast assembly member, said:
“It is a useful development but the police should be
moving ahead on a more broader front, reducing the
height of fortified walls at police stations.”

Michael Browne, Sinn Fein councillor for the area,
said: “It is probably long overdue, given that eight
years on from the Good Friday Agreement, that it is
quite something local people would have expected to
have been done a long time ago.”


SF Man Back In Party After ‘Council Conflict’

By Margaret Canning Tyrone Correspondent

Veteran republican Francie Molloy, who was suspended
from Sinn Fein because he spoke out against its local
government policy, will be reinstated in nine days.

Yesterday he said it was “very important to him that
his suspension should end.

“It will end on January 22 if all goes according to
plan,” he said.

“I have been involved in the republican movement for
the last 40 years. It has been part of my life since
before the early civil rights movement.”

Mr Molloy was suspended by Sinn Fein in November for
speaking out against party policy on the review of
public administration.

He voiced opposition to the seven super councils which
the review proposed would replace the existing 26

At that time Mr Molloy said a 15-council model was to
be preferred. However, Sinn Fein had supported the
seven-council model, having abandoned their support of
the 15 council option.

Mr Molloy said he believed the situation had now been
“sorted” and according to the correspondence he had
received from Sinn Fein, the suspension would continue
only until January 22.

“My understanding is that at that stage I will be
reinstated ... or back into the fold,” Mr Molloy, who
has had a number of meetings about his position with
Sinn Fein officials, said.

Mr Molloy is still a delegate to the Northern Ireland
Local Government Association (Nilga) and was
previously the Sinn Fein representative and a vice-
president of the organisation. He said that after
January 22 he hoped to resume his role in Nilga
representing Sinn Fein and as vice-president.

Yesterday Mr Molloy declined to comment further on the
controversy over the six councils model but said the
main issue now was to ensure they had strong local
government with the maximum powers and with checks and
balances in place.

Asked if he intended now to follow party policy in the
future, Mr Molloy replied: “I think party policy will
guide me in that situation.

“On the overall political situation the important
thing is to get negotiations up and running.

“My principle role is as an MLA for Mid-Ulster and
certainly what I want to see is the assembly and the
institutions restored as soon as possible.” Mr Molloy

When pressed if the issue of suspension from Sinn Fein
was now over and if he would not be punished in the
future, Mr Molloy said: “I think yes this has been

He added: “I am sorry it happened as it think there
were both misunderstandings and sometimes conflict of
interest within all of this.

“It was unfortunate. I have been involved in Sinn Fein
politics from before the split, basically 40 years
this year involved in republican politics.

“It was regrettable there has been an interruption
like this... and certainly it makes you sit back and
think with a different view on things.”


Opin: Well Done That Man (Stephen Magennis)


We're delighted that West Belfast man Stephen Magennis
has been vindicated in his campaign for justice after
an unsavoury incident at an election count centre in

The whole of the North looked on astonished as the
PSNI were filmed live on TV accusing a blameless Mr
Magennis of travelling in a stolen car outside a count
centre in Dromore. Of course, because Mr Magennis was
a Sinn Féin supporter, unionists and loyalists
believed they were watching another example of
republican bad behaviour. Nationalists and
republicans, though, have seen enough stage-managed
media events to know one when they see one, and were
not in the least bit surprised when a PSNI officer
turned up on television later that same day to
sheepishly admit that the accusation had been a load
of poppycock.

Mr Magennis is a man who does sterling voluntary work
in the Colin area, endeavouring to address the
problems that face the community. The thanks he got
for that was to have his face plastered all over the
television and his good name traduced, all because the
PSNI simply cannot resist any opportunity to target
and denigrate the people of West Belfast.

Instead of just accepting this as part of the price of
living in West Belfast, Mr Magennis elected to do
something about it. And so he spent over two years
battling to clear his name while the PSNI played a
game of chicken right up to the courtroom steps. Mr
Magennis stayed strong, though, and it was the PSNI
which blinked when it made an out of court settlement
on the steps of Banbridge courthouse. The exact terms
of the settlement have not been made public, but we
hope that Mr Magennis has a very happy New Year – he
deserves it.

Away from the issue of a man wronged and his eventual
triumph, there is a wider problem here vis a vis
polling and count centres situated in loyalist
districts. Dromore is not the safest place for
nationalists and republicans to travel to during the
white heat of an election campaign, but it's not only
Dromore we're talking about. There are a number of
other centres which have a chilling effect on would-be
nationalist voters. Who is to say how many simply stay
away in fear of their lives?

Add to that the disincentive offered by the existing
election legislation, and we find that we're living in
the only place in Europe that is actively discouraging
its people from voting.

January 13, 2006

This article appeared first on the
web site on DATE, 2006.


Opin: Trainspotting Not Government Option

Editor: Colin O’Carroll


The announcement yesterday by the British government
that it was to drop its controversial ‘on the runs’
legislation was as welcome as it was inevitable.

What finally sank the bill was not that it represented
an outrageous slap in the face for IRA victims, as
unionists claimed; or even that it flew in the face of
the most basic concepts of natural justice, as others

All this and more was said when it was announced that
prisoners would be released under the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement. No, what ensured the bill’s
swift and embarrassing demise was British hubris, pure
and simple.

The agreement hammered out at Weston Park between Sinn
Féin and London was an agreement on the fate of on the
runs, most if not all of them republican.

But when the British Secretary of State announced the
planned legislation last year, it quickly became clear
that there was to be an effective amnesty for anyone
who had ever committed crimes while in the uniform or
pay of the British state.

Two things are important here. Firstly, when the deal
was being brokered, Sinn Féin knew all too well that
at all costs the British would act to protect their
own. And it wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist to
work out that an excellent way for the British to do
this would be to piggy-back on the Weston Park deal.
That no assurance was asked or given on this point was
an oversight or omission that has come back to bite
all concerned.

Secondly, it’s abundantly clear that British
negotiators are displaying as much – if not more – bad
faith and cynicism in negotiations than they ever did
through the long and inglorious litany of peace
initiatives since the early ‘70s and since. If this is
to continue, the outcome is almost too grave to

What is needed is for the Irish government to step up
to the plate, but whether it will or not is seriously
open to doubt given its recent performance. In
response to recent evidence that the power-sharing
Executive was brought down and the will of the people
of this island overturned not as a result of
republican deviousness, but as a result of a high-
level conspiracy by PSNI Special Branch, the Taoiseach
reacted not with passionate outrage, but like a
trainspotter who’s just been told that somebody’s
nicked his flask. Similarly, when the British tried a
bit of monkey business with the on the runs
legislation, the Irish government failed to summon up
the gumption to tell them they were out of order.

Enough is enough. If the British government won’t
honour agreements, the Irish government has to make
sure they do, or if they can’t do that, then shout
their displeasure from the rooftops.

In the meantime, the new legislation that needs now to
be drafted on the on the runs issue must be practical,
not hysterical; imaginative, not punitive.


Shock At Death Of Tyrone Politician

By Margaret Canning

THE death of a former Tyrone Sinn Fein councillor was
greeted with shock by party members yesterday.

Brendan Doris (54) served on Dungannon and south
Tyrone District Council from 1989 to 2001. He is
believed to have died of a heart attack early
yesterday morning.

Dungannon and South Tyrone mayor Francie Molloy said:
“His death is also a sad loss to the wider Republican
family and a major loss to the area.

“He has give a great deal to the republican party,
both in Magilligan and the cages of Long Kesh and as a
councillor,” he added.

Mr Doris lost his council seat in the 2001 election,
while his daughter Michelle O’Neill won a seat in last
year’s local elections.

Sinn Fein Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness said: “He
was a deeply committed Irish republican and his death
will be mourned by republicans far beyond Tyrone.”

Mr Doris is survived by his wife Kathleen and two
children, Michelle and Brian.


Husband Of SDLP Agent Killed In Crash

By Clare Weir
12 January 2006

Tributes were today paid to a well-known Londonderry
businessman who was killed in a road accident

Dennis Ivan McIvor (83) was the driver of a car which
was in collision with another vehicle at Sappagh on
the main Burnfoot to Muff Road in Donegal at 4.30pm.

A Garda spokesman said the grandfather of four was
taken to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry with serious
injuries but died a short time later.

Mr McIvor's widow Berna is a prominent member of the
SDLP and is a former election agent for John Hume.

Today party leader Mark Durkan said: "Ivan was a
lovely man full of warmth and wisdom. He had a quiet
wit and was a sharp businessman but was modest and

"He had a lovely family and all our thoughts and
prayers are with Berna and the family at this time."

Mr McIvor, who lived at Talbot Park, was father to
Mary, Orla, Ivan, Sarah and Ronan and was a
grandfather of Oran, Eve, Conor and Lorcan.

A Garda spokesperson today appealed for information
about the accident in which Mr McIvor died.

Meanwhile, passengers in a four-car collision on
Craigavon Bridge yesterday escaped serious injury. It
happened on the top deck of the bridge around 4pm.

A PSNI spokesman said up to four people were taken to
hospital but he added that they did not have life-
threatening injuries.


Ulster-Born Gospel Star's US Tour Ends In Tragedy

Award-winning singer is cut down in South Carolina hit
and run

By Sean O'Driscoll
13 January 2006

A Belfast-born Christian music star has been killed in
a hit-and-run accident in the US.

Tributes flooded in for 34-year-old Warren Parker, who
was killed while directing his band's tour bus into a
church parking lot. Parker, whose band The Parker Trio
won several Christian music awards, was buried in
Ontario, Canada, yesterday.

From Glengormley, Co Antrim, he received his first
music organ from his grandfather William Parker, who
won an MBE for his writing on agriculture for Northern
Ireland newspapers.

Warren, who had a large fan base across the US and
Canada, was killed while directing his band's tour bus
into a parking lot at Calvary Church of the Nazarene
in Goose Creek, South Carolina.

His Ohio-born wife Shannan was thrown from her bunk
inside the tour bus by the force of the crash.

The hit-and-run driver, who was bleeding from his
forehead, dumped his pick-up truck and ran away from
the accident, witnesses said.

Yesterday, Warren's father Brian said the family's
belief in Christ was helping them to cope with the

He said: "I spoke to Warren when his coffin was open
and I said 'Good night, see you in the morning' and
that he was leaving a world of sickness and pain to be
with Jesus."

Brian, an engineer for an Ontario electrical firm,
worked with the Northern Ireland Electricity Service
before moving with his family to Canada.

Warren is also survived by his wife and fellow band
member Shannan; his mother and manager Edna; his
sister Julie and her husband David; and his nephews
Ryan and Matthew.

The Parkers moved from Belfast to Canada when Warren
was 10.

Berkeley County Coroner Glenn Rhoad said the driver of
the pick-up truck was travelling at 45mph when he hit
Warren, pressing him between a bus and the truck.

The band's sound engineer and driver Brandt White was
trying to drive the 40ft tour bus into a parking place
while Parker directed traffic.

Deputy prosecutor Blair Jennings said a suspect has
handed himself in.

Gary Dix, president of the Canadian Gospel Music
Association, said The Parker Trio had won Group of the
Year and Song of the Year in Canadian Christian music
awards and that Warren's death was "a big loss".

Warren was already dedicated to Christian music while
living in Belfast, having played the organ and piano
in various Belfast churches.

He continued to learn Christian music in Canada and
had fought against serious illness after working in a
Christian ministry in South America.

He later overcame his illness to continue with his
singing career. He formed the band in 1997 with
Shannan and group member Angie White.

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