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February 17, 2006

Blair To Restore Assembly Without Executive

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 02/18/06 Blair To Restored NI Assembly Without Executive
IT 02/18/06 McGuinness Urges SF Delegates To Hold Nerve
DI 02/17/06 Residents Angered As March Is Given Go-Ahead
IN 02/17/06 Who’s Got The Biggest Tricolour?
IT 02/18/06 Cowen Urges More N/S Economic Co-Operation
DI 02/17/06 Durkan Attacks Sinn Féin All-Ireland Policies
BB 02/17/06 Wright Inquiry Terms Challenged
DI 02/17/06 Loyalist Killer Worked With Catholic Charity
UB 02/17/06 Was This Loyalist Murderer In The Police's Pay?
DI 02/17/06 Stone Facing Truth
BN 02/17/06 Easter Parade 'Will Excluse Citizens':SF
IT 02/17/06 Chef's Four-Year Wait For Justice
BB 02/17/06 Order Welcomes Somme Stamp Plans
BN 02/17/06 Legal Opin Divided: Murals Glorify Terrorism
IM 02/17/06
Motion On Assisted Suicide At SF Ard Fheis
DI 02/17/06 Independent? Alderdice Still Party Member
IN 02/17/06 Opin: Do We Need Stakeknives If War Is Over?
IT 02/17/06 Opin: PR Voting Makes Small Intrsts 2 Powerful
DI 02/17/06 Opin: SDLP Places N/S At Centre Landscape
DI 02/17/06 Opin: Why I Refuse To Pay BBC’s Licence Fee
DI 02/17/06 Opin: Unionists In Need Of Powerful Prod
IT 02/18/06 Opin: Case Grows For Kyoto Measures
GI 02/18/06 Opin: The Road Not Yet Taken
EX 02/17/06 Opin: President Lost Touch She Had In 1st Term
IT 02/18/06 Magee To Cease Manufacturing In Ireland
IN 02/17/06 ‘No-One Could Surpass’ Pork Butcher of Belfast
IT 02/18/06 Emigration Of Donegal Firm Follows Euro Trend
IT 02/18/06 All Killed In Rising Should Be Commemorated
DJ 02/17/06 'Sunday' Play Director Visits Derry


Blair Plans Restored NI Assembly Without Executive

British prime minister Tony Blair is considering a plan
to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly with initially
limited powers and an absolute deadline for the re-
establishment of an inclusive power-sharing Executive,
writes Frank Millar, London Editor.

This emerged last night amid the confusion and uncertainty
generated by Mr Blair's decision to cancel a planned trip
to Belfast next week to deliver a major speech intended to
force the pace in negotiations with the political parties
about the return of devolution.

Sources close to DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley have
suggested Mr Blair "has no plan" and is unlikely to
reinstate his proposed visit to the North.

However, as reported in The Irish Times on Thursday,
Downing Street maintains Mr Blair's trip has been postponed
rather than cancelled, and that the prime minister now has
"a clear idea of how to proceed". Usually reliable sources
suggest this was likely to be by way of a time-limited
initiative allowing the Assembly to get up-and-running "in
some sort of shadow form" but with an end-date set for an
Assembly vote on the formation of a new power-sharing

While allowing that the emergent plan is nowhere near
completion, and that difficult negotiations lie ahead, the
sources suggested the timetable for such an initiative
could be between six months and a year.

This would seem to offer a variation of proposals put to Mr
Blair by the SDLP and Ulster Unionists at their meetings at
Westminster on Wednesday. Crucially, however, a fixed one-
year time-frame would arguably allow the DUP a credible
period in which to assess the continuing state of IRA
activity through recurring reports of the Independent
Monitoring Commission.

At the same time, assuming an eventual clean bill of health
for the republican movement, it could put the onus on the
DUP to take responsibility for collapsing the political
institutions should Dr Paisley still refuse to enter
government with Sinn Féin.

It is also suggested that Northern Ireland Secretary Peter
Hain might use new powers to call a snap Assembly election
later this year, in order to avoid having any successful
moves toward resumed power-sharing derailed by the hardened
rhetoric which would inevitably attend the elections
scheduled for May 2007.

Recent republican rhetoric has persuaded some Ulster
Unionists that Sinn Féin might "pull the plug" on any
proposal to restore the Assembly without a functioning
Executive as prescribed by the Belfast Agreement.

However the calculation appears to be that neither Sinn
Féin president Gerry Adams nor Dr Paisley would want to
take the blame for wrecking an initiative offering at least
the prospect of breaking the political impasse.

The suggestion of a time-limit would also appear to satisfy
SDLP leader Mark Durkan's objection that current DUP
proposals for a limited role for the Assembly could be used
to "encamp the parties" on such terrain indefinitely.

However, Mr Blair faces major difficulty persuading the
SDLP to co-operate with any initiative in the context of
London's clear determination to legislate for the
alternative "comprehensive agreement" which the British and
Irish governments failed to conclude with the DUP and Sinn
Féin in December 2004. After his latest meetings with both
governments, Mr Durkan insisted "the so-called
'comprehensive agreement' was not a basis for progress".

Following Thursday's publication of a new Northern Ireland
Bill designed to quickly enable any new agreement, Mr
Durkan warned: "There is real danger of political
misadventure if the governments try to implement the failed
comprehensive agreement."

© The Irish Times


Nine News: David Davin-Power, Political Correspondent,
reports from the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Dublin

McGuinness Urges SF Delegates To Hold Nerve

Mark Hennessy and Gerry Moriarty

Sinn Féin Ardfheis delegates were last night urged not
"to wobble" by SF's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness.

A number of the motions before the three-day ardfheis which
opened at the RDS in Dublin last night, are implicitly
critical of the leadership's stand on a number of key
issues, including possible coalition options and demanding
a hard-line opposition to supporting the Police Service of
Northern Ireland.

Speaking to delegates last night, Mr McGuinness said: "The
media are looking to see us wobble. They are probably
hoping for division. I think they are going to be very
disappointed at this ardfheis."

Urging the Democratic Unionist Party to enter government
with SF, Mr McGuinness said the largest unionist party "has
to come to terms with the new realities. They have a huge
decision to make. I hope that Ian Paisley makes the right
decision, but if he makes the wrong decision there is a
huge responsibility on Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair to make
it clear that the DUP are not going to be allowed to
prevent progress.

"If that means stopping the Assembly salaries, so be it. If
that means abolishing the Assembly, so be it."

The party's attitude to coalition in the South after the
next general elections will be debated this afternoon, with
some delegates demanding that the party rule it out
completely now, while others want guarantees that SF will
not support a minority administration led by Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern from the Opposition back benches.

Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said Sinn Féin
should not spend all of its time this year looking back to
the 90th anniversary of the Rising. Sharply criticising Mr
Ahern, Mr Ó Caoláin said he had dropped plans to give
Northern MPs the rights of audience in the Dáil in the face
of the "deeply held partitionism" of Fine Gael and Labour.

"That the Taoiseach has caved in to such partitionism is
especially ironic given his decision to commemorate 1916,"
said the Cavan/Monaghan TD.

Rejecting calls to change the party's support for a woman's
right to choose to have an abortion, delegates declined to
accept a motion calling for legislation to be put in place
"to enable this right to be exercised".

Delegates also rejected a motion that would have given
individual SF members the right to "articulate and campaign
on the issue of abortion according to their conscience".

Dublin delegate Justin Moran said he "personally abhorred
abortion", but he did not believe that he had the right "to
force my moral beliefs on anyone else".

During a debate on the peace process, delegates endorsed a
motion stating that republicanism would not be in a strong
position today without the "armed campaign waged by the
IRA". The motion, which was passed without discussion, also
stated there would be no peace process without the IRA.

© The Irish Times


Residents Angered As March Is Given Go-Ahead

by Ciarán Barnes


A Sinn Féin assemblymember has called on the Parades
Commission to “carefully monitor” a loyalist march set to
pass by a small nationalist enclave.

Alex Maskey was speaking after the commission refused to
place restrictions on next week’s Orange Order parade
around the nationalist Short Strand area of east Belfast.

On February 25, 300 Orangemen and two loyalist bands will
march past the area twice. Despite objections from
residents, the Parades Commission has given the march the
green light.

One of the bands taking part, the Pride of the Raven, has
previously been rapped for playing sectarian tunes when
parading by the Short Strand.

Mr Maskey said people in the area are unhappy.

He said: “Because of the involvement of this band,
residents have no alternative but to stage a token protest.
It’s not the march they object to, as such, but the
involvement of this band.”

Allowing the march to proceed unrestricted, the Parades
Commission said: “The commission, while aware that there
are sensitivities associated with parading in this part of
east Belfast, does not see justification for interference
in the rights of those seeking to parade on this occasion.”

The parade is being organised by the Orange Order’s Ulster
Defenders of the Realm lodge.


Shoukri ‘Siphoned Off Peace Cash’ Claim

By Barry McCaffrey

Concerns: Top left, Andre Shoukri whose financial affairs
are being investigated. Below, Ulster Unionist peer Lord
Laird who has asked for details of the EU funding received
by the prisoners’ association

Police investigating the alleged money-laundering
activities of leading loyalist Andre Shoukri are understood
to be probing claims that he siphoned off tens of thousands
of pounds of ‘peace’ funding.

The 28-year-old UDA ‘brigadier’ was charged last November
with money laundering, extortion and blackmail after a six-
month investigation in north Belfast.

However, it is understood that detectives are now
investigating the alleged misappropriation of EU peace
funding from a loyalist prisoners’ office.

Funding for the North Belfast Loyalist Prisoners
Association on the Shore Road was suspended in August 2004
following apparent financial discrepancies.

Concerns were raised that a substantial sum of money could
not be accounted for at that time.

Since then the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland,
which distributes EU peace programme funding, has been
carrying out an 18-month probe into alleged financial

A spokeswoman last night confirmed that it continued to
freeze funding to the prisoners’ office.

She said its probe was expected to be concluded next month.

Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird has also asked for details
of EU funding of the office.

He was abroad and unavailable for comment last night.

The charges against Shoukri re-late to an investigation
into UDA racketeering in north Belfast.

Police are believed to have uncovered evidence that more
than £920,000 passed through his hands in the two-year
period since he was released from jail in November 2003 for
possessing of firearm during a UDA feud.

It is understood officers uncovered evidence from the
ledgers of at least four bookmakers in north Belfast, which
showed Shoukri gambled away £800,000 despite being

The ledgers are said to show that Shoukri regularly put
£5,000 and £10,000 bets on horse races.

Detectives are also understood to have evidence that
Shoukri falsified a mortgage application to pay £120,000
for a house at Clare Glen in the Ballysillan area.

The case against the loyalist is also understood to show
that he took nearly a dozen foreign holidays in the two-
year period and bought a host of sports cars.

This is despite Shoukri being stopped while driving one of
the cars in October 2004 with no driving licence, MoT
certificate and with forged insurance documents.


Who’s Got The Biggest Tricolour? New Battle For The Spirit
Of 1916

Valerie Robsinson reports

THE 1916 Easter Rising was a pivotal event in Irish history
– but plans to commemorate its 90th anniversary are being
overshadowed by political spats.

From the outset, the rebellion was marked by controversy.
On the eve of its outbreak, Irish Volunteers’ chief of
staff Eoin MacNeill attempted to call off the impending
battle, claiming rebels had been “completely deceived” by
their leaders.

In its aftermath, the Freeman’s Journal reported: “The
stunning horror of the past 10 days in Dublin makes it all
but impossible for any patriotic Irishman who has been
witness of the tragedy enacted in our midst to think or
write calmly of the event.”

On the other hand, Bishop Mangan of Kerry claimed the Irish
Volunteers were “evil minded men affected by socialist and
revolutionary doctrines”.

It was the brutal executions of the rebellion leaders,
among them James Connolly, so badly injured he had to be
tied to a chair before being shot, that finally galvanized
public opinion and earned the rising its place in Irish

This year a military parade will take place in Dublin at
Easter to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1916
Rising. The anniversary of the Battle of the Somme will
also be marked in the summer.

Announcing details of the event, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
said: “The Irish people need to reclaim the spirit of 1916,
which is not the property of those who have abused and
debased the title of republicanism.”

The Irish have always enjoyed a good argument so perhaps it
should come as no surprise that so far this year’s
commemorations have been characterised by sniping between
the political parties.

With the end of the Troubles, politicians in the Republic
have realised that the country’s past is now ‘up for grabs’
and most of the parties seem eager to prove their
republican credentials.

Fianna Fail has frequently been accused of attempting to
hijack history for its own political gain. In 2001, as the
Irish government staged the state funeral of Kevin Barry
and the rest of Mountjoy’s ‘Forgotten 10’, and their
reburial at Glasnevin Cemetery, Ulster Unionist peer Lord
Kilclooney accused Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of engineering a
“political stunt of the worst sense”.

“Now in a sectarian sense they are trying to capitalise
politically with a similar exercise of dragging the bones
of these corpses around Dublin to gain the votes of
republicans from Sinn Fein,” he said.

More recently, during Sinn Fein’s Private Members’ motion
in the Dail calling for Irish unity, Green Party leader
Trevor Sargent said he did not blame the party for “rushing
this particular fence” given that Fianna Fail was
reclaiming 1916 for its own political purposes.

Mr Sargent added that the Greens were unique in that they
did not trace their origins back to “violent revolution”.

Even President Mary McAleese has not managed to escape
political barbs in relation to 1916.

Speaking at a UCC conference on

the Easter Rising recently, the president rejected past
claims that it had been a sectarian and exclusive event,
saying instead its instigators were

“our idealistic and heroic founding fathers and mothers,
our Davids to their Goliaths”.

However, speaking in the Seanad, Independent senator David
Norris claimed that Fianna Fail was attempting to capture
1916 for itself and it should be remembered that the
president had been a Fianna Fail candidate for the
presidency in 1997.

Elsewhere, Labour leader Pat Rabbitte, formerly of
Democratic Left, predicted the main 1916 event

was “likely to be the ‘who’s got the biggest Tricolour’
competition between Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein”.

However, Defence Minister Willie O’Dea, whose department is
involved in preparations for both the 90th and centenary
1916 commemorations, rejected claims that Fianna Fail was
using the event as a political stunt.

“It is open to everybody to get involved in organising
these commemorations. It is highly opportunistic of people
to criticise Fianna Fail for their role.

“If 1916 is being celebrated then it’s up to whoever is in
government to take the lead and that’s exactly what we are
doing,” he said.

Sinn Fein leader in the Dail, Caoimhghin O Caolain, also
dismissed comments from politicians outside his party.

Mr O Caolain said he had welcomed the taoiseach’s proposal
to resume commemorating the Easter Rising, saying the party
would not be “diverted by those who seek to take anything
away from such an important event that marks the hopes and
aspirations of the courageous men and women who
participated in 1916”.

Meanwhile, Matt Doyle, of the National Graves Association,
the politically neutral group responsible for maintaining
republican graves

and memorials across Ireland, said

he was disappointed but not surprised that politics was
eclipsing the commemoration.

“We’ll be holding our own commemoration. All the 1916
graves are renovated and we’ll be erecting a memorial in
the courtyard of the Rotunda Hospital where the men were
held,” he said.

“It does look like the [state] commemoration will be
overshadowed by politicians trying to outdo each other, all
trying to appear greener than green. But people themselves,
north and south, will see through all that.

“Everyone has a right to honour the men and women of 1916.
There should be no political agenda.”


Cowen Urges More North-South Economic Co-Operation

Michael O'Regan in Ennis

Minister for Finance Brian Cowen last night called for
increased economic North-South co-operation led by the
Irish and British governments.

Mr Cowen told the Ógra Fianna Fáil national conference in
Ennis that as people patiently awaited political agreement
to re-establish the Northern Assembly and Executive, it
remained the duty of both governments to give concrete
expression to the mutual benefits to be derived from North-
South co-operation. That meant making decisions that would
bring economic and social progress.

"Both governments should take the strategic decisions
necessary to enable major infrastructure projects to go
ahead without any further delay.

"I have no doubt that, for example, the announcement of a
decision to upgrade the Dublin-Derry road or a Belfast-
Derry dual carriageway would do more to convince people of
the seriousness of our intent to promote economic co-
operation North and South than any amount of talking about
talks could ever conjure up." Building infrastructure as a
means to improving economic and social conditions would
greatly serve the interests of all.

"Such an announcement to begin to address the basic
strategic requirements . . . should be a forerunner to
other examples of inter-governmental co-operation which
would have the mutual benefit of enhancing competitiveness
North and South and becoming key drivers for job creation
and greater investment."

Mr Cowen said that if the real day-to-day interests of
ordinary people were to be properly dealt with, then the
political talks at party level in the North needed to be a
focus for renewal, not a forum for recrimination.

"Our politics have matured and indeed our insights have
changed. We want to extend the hand of friendship across
the Border, not for the purpose of exchanging mere
pleasantries but because we believe that if everyone looks
at the possibilities rationally, then only good will come
out of it.

"While others grapple with the reality of co-existence with
the other side in the Executive, let the two governments
show the way by making decisions that add to the political

© The Irish Times


Durkan Attacks Sinn Féin All-Ireland Policies

by Ciaran O’Neill

The SDLP has accused Sinn Féin of doing nothing practical
to further all-Ireland development.

As more than 2,000 Sinn Féin members gather in Dublin today
for the party’s Ard-Fheis, SDLP leader Mark Durkan launched
a stinging attack on Sinn Féin’s all-Ireland policies.

Writing in today’s Daily Ireland, Mr Durkan, whose party
this week launched a document entitled North South Makes
Sense, accused other parties in the North and the Irish and
British governments of allowing the DUP to push North-South
issues off the agenda during talks in 2004.

“The SDLP was the only party putting forward proposals for
new areas of North-South co-operation, better
implementation and more strategic delivery,” he said.

“But that’s not what we got in the so-called ‘comprehensive
agreement’ negotiated between Sinn Féin and the DUP in
December 2004. Instead, we got no new North-South bodies.
No new areas of co-operation. No new areas of
implementation. Nothing new at all on all-Ireland

“For a party that talks a lot about all-Ireland
development, Sinn Féin has done nothing practical to
further that agenda.

“Against this backdrop, the SDLP has been working hard to
put North-South back where it belongs at the centre of the
political agenda.”

However, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness yesterday criticised
the SDLP for continually attacking his party.

“Many who have been students of this process have been
dismayed that we do not have a Durkan/Adams approach like
we had with Hume/Adams,” he said.

“The fact that we do not have a Durkan/Adams approach is
down to the stance of the SDLP ever since John Hume stepped
down as their leader.

“They have decided to go on the offensive. Sinn Féin has
refused to go down that route of negativity and I think
people are very aware of that fact.”


Wright Inquiry Terms Challenged

The father of LVF leader Billy Wright has been given the
go-ahead to proceed with a legal challenge to the terms of
an inquiry into his son's murder.

Wright, 37, was shot dead by three INLA prisoners in the
Maze Prison on 27 December 1997.

David Wright was granted a judicial review of the
government's decision to conduct the inquiry under the
terms of the Inquiries Act.

This legislation allows the government the right to keep
evidence secret.

Mr Wright said he was "fairly happy" with the High Court's

His barrister had earlier told the court that use of the
act was opposed because it gave the government extensive
powers to interfere with the scope of any investigation.

The full hearing has been provisionally fixed to start on
26 April and is expected to last two to three days.

The first preliminary hearing of the inquiry was held in
June 2005, with public hearings expected to start next

After the hearing, concerns were raised about the Inquiries
Act and Wright's father David said he was considering
whether to cooperate with the inquiry.

Mr Wright has campaigned for an inquiry into his son's
death after allegations of collusion by the authorities in
the murder.

Wright had just got into a prison van to be taken to the
visitors' area of the jail, when the prisoners from the
INLA - a republican paramilitary organisation - climbed
over the roof of the H-block and into the prison yard.

One opened the van door, singled out the LVF leader and
shot him several times.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy announced the
public inquiry in November 2004.

Lord MacLean is joined on the inquiry by academic professor
Andrew Coyle from the University of London and the former
Bishop of Hereford, the Reverend John Oliver.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/17 17:19:12 GMT


Loyalist Killer Worked With Catholic Charity


Convicted loyalist killer Torrens Knight worked with a
leading Catholic charity while a member of the Ulster
Defence Association (UDA), it emerged last night. According
to informed sources, Knight was employed by St Vincent de
Paul (SVdP) in Kilrea, Co Derry, at the same time two
Catholic men were murdered by the UDA in the area. It is
also believed that Knight was working as an RUC agent as
early as 1991 and held regular meetings with an RUC handler
while employed on a scheme managed by (SVdP) in Kilrea.

It was claimed this week that Knight was paid £50,000
(€72,000) a year by Special Branch after being released
from jail where he had served seven years of a life
sentence for murder of 12 people in the early ‘90s.

During his period of employment with (SVdP) under a
government Ace scheme, Knight spent several months painting
the homes of Catholic residents in Kilrea. The UDA man also
took part in a clear-up operation at a Catholic church in
Kilrea after it was damaged during an IRA bomb attack on a
nearby RUC barracks.

He was working in the area when father-of-four Danny
Cassidy was murdered by the UDA in April 1992 near his

Earlier this month, the Police Ombudsman’s Office confirmed
that they are investigating claims that RUC Special Branch
arranged for the removal of two automatic weapons after a
number of loyalists were spotted handling them near the
banks of the Agivey River, near Coleraine. A massive
security force search of the area later failed to locate
the weapons.

It is suspected that the weapons may have been used in the
“Trick or Treat” massacre just seven months later when
eight people were gunned down at the Rising Sun bar in
Greysteel, Co Derry.

Knight was released from jail under the terms of the Good
Friday Agreement after serving just seven years for his
part in the 1993 Greysteel and Castlerock attacks which
left 11 Catholics and one Protestant dead.


Was This Loyalist Murderer In The Police's Pay?

By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent
Published: 18 February 2006

It was one of the most disturbing images of the Troubles -
a loyalist killer maniacally laughing at relatives of his
victims in a display of naked, sectarian hatred. Now an
even more disturbing allegation has emerged: that Torrens
Knight, convicted of 12 murders, was a police informer
while a member of a Protestant assassination squad in
Northern Ireland.

He was involved in the machine-gunning of a Catholic bar in
Greysteel, Co Londonderry, in 1993, when eight people died.
He also took part in another attack in which four Catholic
workmen were shot dead.

The idea that such a notorious figure could have been
working for the security forces has deepened the unease
about the role of the Special Branch in the underground
"dirty war". According to unconfirmed reports, Knight was
paid £50,000 a year for passing on information.

The police say they will not comment on any allegations
about who might or might not have been an informer. The
Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland,
Sir Hugh Orde, has said that regulations concerning
undercover agents have been tightened in recent years.

But a series of unconnected cases have created suspicions
that, during the Troubles, the Special Branch routinely
concealed information from other parts of the police.

Knight, who is now in his thirties, was convicted as one of
the members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) who
burst into a Catholic bar on Hallowe'en night in 1993 to
stage an attack in retaliation for an IRA bombing. After
one of the gang shouted "Trick or treat", gunmen raked the
bar, leaving its floor and walls splashed with blood, while
Knight, armed with a shotgun, stood at the door. The eight
people killed included an 81-year-old man while 19 others
were injured.

Knight received eight life sentences for this, together
with four more for the murders of four Catholic workmen
killed seven months earlier in Castlerock, Co Londonderry.
He served seven years in prison before paramilitary
prisoners were granted a general release under the Good
Friday Agreement. Unconfirmed rumours that Knight had been
a police informer had been in the air for some time.
Suspicions have been voiced by John Dallat, a campaigning
politician who is a member of the nationalist Social
Democratic and Labour Party. Mr Dallat, who says he was in
touch with police about Knight before the Greysteel and
Castlerock attacks, claims they might have been prevented
since it was known Knight was an extremist.

This week brought a piece of evidence that is seen as
strengthening the informer theory. In 2000, after his
release from prison, Knight is said to have attracted the
attention of staff at a bank where he was withdrawing large
amounts of money from an account into which £50,000 a year
was being paid. The bank's concern was that Knight was
"laundering" illegal money, but, when police were
contacted, an assurance was given that everything was in
order. The money being paid in was said to be from a
Scottish engineering firm. However, the account was hastily
closed down.

If Knight was an informer, his role clearly did not provide
him with immunity for his killings since he was charged and
jailed for them.

In some cases informers have been allowed to commit various
offences but have been charged when they carry out
"unauthorised" acts such as murders. But the appearance in
this instance is that even his convictions for 12 killings
did not stop the Special Branch paying him large sums of
money after his release.

The further allegation made by Mr Dallat is that a rifle
used in the Greysteel incident was one of two weapons found
by anglers after the Castlerock shootings but before the
Greysteel attack took place.

The weapons were not recovered. Mr Dallat said he had been
telephoned by a member of the security forces who claimed
the guns were moved by a member of the Special Branch who
was protecting Knight.

Mr Dallat has referred the case to the office of the Police
Ombudsman, which is investigating the saga. He said: "I
hope the investigation team are successful in gleaning why
the UDA ran amok for so long before finally being caught."

The Dirty War and informers


Denis Donaldson, a senior Sinn Fein administrator, admitted
recently that he had been a Special Branch informer for up
to 20 years, sending shockwaves through the republican

Freddie Scappaticci, senior IRA "enforcer", was outed as a
security force informer in 2003, though he has not admitted
this. He is said to be living in Italy.


William Stobie, a loyalist charged with the murder of
solicitor Pat Finucane, sensationally revealed in court
that he had been a police informer. He was later shot dead
by his organisation.

Brian Nelson, a senior loyalist intelligence-gatherer, was
unmasked as an Army informer in 1990. He served a prison
sentence and has since died.


Stone Facing Truth

Family of murdered man shake hands with notorious loyalist


Relatives of a Catholic man murdered by UDA hitman, Michael
Stone, have shaken hands with the notorious loyalist during
a meeting chaired by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop
Desmond Tutu.

The brother and widow of 37-year-old, Dermot Hackett, who
was shot dead by the UFF near Omagh, Co Tyrone, in 1987,
met Stone in a bid to find out the truth behind allegations
in his autobiography that he did not murder the father of

Stone admitted to Sylvia and Roddy Hackett that he arranged
Mr Hackett’s murder and said he would have “pulled the
trigger” if he had been present.

The extraordinary encounter took place at Ballywalter, in
the Ards Peninsula, for a forthcoming BBC Two series called
Facing The Truth which brings victims and perpetrators of
violence in the Troubles together for the first time.

For nearly 20 years, the Hackett family has been tormented
by the senseless and brutal manner in which Dermot died.

They wanted to meet Stone for two reasons; to find out why
he believed Dermot had to die; and to prove that their
loved one was an innocent victim.

Roddy Hackett said the meeting has helped “give the family
closure” and even expressed sympathy for Stone.

“I was expecting him to come to the meeting acting ‘the big
man’ but he looked pitiful when he hobbled in with his
walking stick and I found myself feeling sorry for him,” he

Mr Hackett added: “Dermot was an innocent victim and we
wanted to know why he was killed, and if it was Stone who
shot him.

“He [Stone] appeared genuinely remorseful and I believed
him when he said he didn’t kill Dermot.”

The Omagh man also described how Stone was stunned when the
Hacketts offered to shake his hand.

“My sister-in-law Sylvia got up and shook his hand first
and it really took the wind out of his sails.

“Stone said I was a better man than he was because if the
roles had been reversed he wouldn’t have shaken my hand,”
said Mr Hackett.

The tense and emotional meeting was overseen by Archbishop
Tutu, who headed South Africa’s post-Apartheid Truth and
Reconciliation Commission.

Stone, a UFF member who became infamous for the 1988 gun
and grenade attack which killed three men at Milltown
Cemetery, was convicted of Dermot Hackett’s murder and that
of five other murders.

He tried to justify the killing by claiming he had been
shown intelligence files that “proved Mr Hackett was an IRA
man”, an allegation the Hackett family have always firmly

But, in his 2003 autobiography None Shall Divide Us, Stone
denied that he had any involvement in the killing of Mr

BBC Two’s Facing the Truth series on begins Monday, March


Easter Parade 'Will Excluse Citizens', Claims SF

17/02/2006 - 18:49:57

The Easter Parade to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1916
Rising will exclude all citizens from taking part, it was
claimed tonight.

The upsurge of violence in the North led to the event being
cancelled in the early 1970s but the Government is reviving
it in central Dublin on Easter Sunday.

However the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis tonight heard that the
location of the ceremonial parade in the capital will not
allow everybody to take part.

The party’s Dáil leader Caoimhghin O Caolain told
delegates: “We welcome the decision by the Taoiseach to
hold a parade on Easter Sunday, even if we are disappointed
that the proposals seem to exclude citizens from
participation in the commemorations.”

The Cavan/Monaghan TD said Sinn Féin had been accused of
hijacking the 1916 Rising in the past even though the party
had simply honoured the memory and sacrifice of the rebels.

He added: “As with every year since the Rising, Sinn Féin
will mark the historic event with commemorations in every
county in Ireland, inviting people to take part regardless
of their political persuasion to honour the men and women
who risked all to help establish the Republic.”

In his opening address in Dublin’s RDS, Mr O Caolain
praised the courageous and unprecedented step by the IRA in
ending its armed campaign.

“With the peace talks finally under way, it is time that
the governments moved forward. It is time that they
delivered on their commitments,” he said.

Referring to the battle by the Rossport Five to stop Shell
building a gas terminal near their homes, he said
sweetheart deals between exploration firms and successive
governments robbed people of their natural resources.

“The needs of the men in the Fianna Fáil tent at the Galway
races would, it seemed take precedence over the people of
Rossport,” he said.

He recalled last year’s Ard Fheis which he said took place
during a savage media onslaught on the party and efforts by
others to criminalise Irish republicanism.

“A year on, we gather here again, stronger, bigger and more
determined than ever to … establish a democratic, socialist

He also said the capitulation of the Taoiseach on a
proposed All-Ireland Oireachtas forum for Northern Ireland
MPs was an appalling indicator of the deeply-held
partitionism of Fine Gael and Labour

“It is a slap in the face for nationalist and republican
communities who have long looked to Dublin as the place
where they want their voices to be heard.

He congratulated all public representatives returned in the
Westminster and local elections last year.

More than 2,000 Sinn Féin delegates will gather to debate
500 motions at the annual Ard Fheis.

The ’Irish Unity and Equality’ theme will coincide with the
90th and 25th respective anniversaries of 1916 Rising and
the 1981 Hunger Strikes in coming months.

Guest speakers will include Micheal O Seighin of the
Rossport Five group and Joanne Delaney, who was sacked from
her job in Dunnes Stores in Crumlin because she wore a
union badge.

Other invited delegates include members of the NUE-NGL
political group in the European parliament and visitors
from Portugal, the Basque country, Cyprus and Sweden.

Jim Monaghan, a member of the so-called Colombia Three,
attended the opening of the Ard Fheis tonight.

Sinn Féin said the wide-ranging motions reflected the high
level of debate that is ongoing through the party.

Party president Gerry Adams will make his keynote leader’s
speech tomorrow evening.


Chef's Four-Year Wait For Justice

Susan McKay

Four years ago, New York chef Larry Zaitschek was named
by the PSNI's Special Branch as the chief suspect for the
break-in and robbery at its headquarters in Castlereagh in
East Belfast.

No proceedings have followed, but Mr Zaitschek hasn't been
allowed to see his then three- year-old son Pearse since.

"I am completely 100 per cent innocent," he said yesterday.

Now Mr Zaitschek has applied for a judicial review of the
failure of North's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to
decide whether or not to prosecute him.

In a separate development, a judge in Belfast is to rule
next week on whether or not he can hear a case which would
determine custody and access issues.

A complaint about the PSNI's handling of Mr Zaitschek's
case has also been lodged with the North's police

His ex-wife Lisa and her son, who is now seven, have been
under a witness protection scheme since she provided
evidence in the Castlereagh investigation.

"I need to see my son. I don't know where he is and I miss
him so badly," Mr Zaitschek said this week. "They have no
right to do this to him."

He returned to New York shortly after the raid. Two weeks
later, Special Branch officers followed him. "They said,
'you did it'," he said. "I have been under constant
pressure from them since."

He flew back to Ireland yesterday to consult with his
Belfast lawyers. They met in Dundalk - the PSNI has said
that if he returns to the North, he will be arrested.

In 2002, police said they had submitted a 3,000-page
document containing the evidence against Mr Zaitschek to
the PPS. However, no charges have been made and no attempt
has been made to extradite him.

His lawyers will claim that he has suffered gross
unfairness and that his human rights under the European
Convention have been breached. Mr Zaitschek has the support
of British and Irish Rights Watch. "I have already put it
to the Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, that it is our belief
that the PSNI has no case against this man," said its
director, Jane Winter.

"I believe he is being used as a fig leaf to cover the
official inability to deal with Castlereagh. Every time we
go to the PPS they say they've had to send the file back to
the PSNI for further information. No criminal justice
system should take four years to reach a decision. The
human cost of this is terrible."

Mr Zaitschek had worked as a chef at Castlereagh for four
years before the raid, on St Patrick's Day 2002. He insists
he has no IRA connections. "I had undergone stringent
security checks before I got the job at Castlereagh ... I
am a pacifist".

© The Irish Times


Order Welcomes Somme Stamp Plans

The Orange Order has welcomed plans by the Irish postal
service to launch a commemorative stamp to mark the 90th
anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

An Post revealed its intention to mark one of the bloodiest
battles of World War I in a letter to the Order's Grand

Both the 36th (Ulster) and 16th (Irish) Divisions fought in
the battle between 1 July and 13 November 1916.

Order spokesman Dr David Hume said the move was an
"entirely fitting" tribute.

By the end of the battle, the British suffered about
420,000 casualties, the French 195,000 and the Germans
about 650,000.

"The Battle of the Somme is remembered with honour across
Northern Ireland and in parts of the Irish Republic such as
Donegal and elsewhere, which helped fill the ranks of the
36th Ulster Division," Dr Hume said.


"We all know the tragic consequences of that summer day in
1916 for individuals and families, and in the small
Protestant communities of the border counties of Ulster the
impact was even greater.

"It is entirely fitting that the Irish Republic should mark
this anniversary, and I have no doubt this gesture will be
appreciated within the unionist community."

However, the Order expressed its disappointment that Royal
Mail has decided against a similar gesture in the United

An Order spokesman said Royal Mail had informed them it
only marked anniversaries in multiples of 50, or if a Royal
occasion merited a special issue.

However, he noted a special set of stamps was issued in
October to mark the England cricket squad's victory over
Australia in the Ashes.

"We were led to the conclusion that Royal Mail considered
winning the Ashes a royal occasion," he said.

"This response from Royal Mail was rather disappointing and
contrasts with the response from An Post in the Republic of

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/17 12:51:35 GMT


Legal Opinion Divided As To Whether Northern Murals
‘Glorify’ Terrorism

17/02/2006 - 17:33:25

Legal opinion in the North is divided over whether Irish
Republican songs will be banned by new British legislation
on glorifying terrorism.

Some loyalist murals could also fall foul of the law,
intended to prevent incitement to racial or religious

Some legal experts in Britain say the new law is so vague
that it will have to be tested in the courts before its
full powers are delineated.

Already, Professor of Sociology at the University of
Ulster, Bill Rolston, author of three books on political
murals in the North, has said some could be deemed illegal.

Now questions are being asked about both republican and
loyalist songs.

Some republican songs refer to the IRA's use of the
armalite rifle while loyalist songs refer to wading deep in
Fenian blood.

It appears it will take a legal challenge from someone
before anyone knows the answer.


Motion On Assisted Suicide At Sinn Féin Ard Fheis

Sinn Féin has published its Ard Fheis motions, one of which
includes a motion on assisted suicide.

The motion to be put forward is that the Ard Fheis supports
the patients’ right to end their own life “if they are in
extreme distress and have no opportunity of recovery,
provided the patient is over 18, has provided consent, and
has the support of two registered doctors”.

The party has proposed a number of motions in the
healthcare area and reiterated its proposed policy of “free
one-tier healthcare for all, ensuring that care is
appointed on the basis of need”.

There are motions covering mental health, suicide, and
private healthcare. Other motions include support for free
provision and increased availability of contraceptives.

On private healthcare, Sinn Féin has proposed a motion
which opposes the increasing privatisation of health
services and in particular “to the massive tax breaks being
given by the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats Government
to developers of private hospitals”.

It calls for the Government to prioritise the need of
survivors of sexual abuse and to “adequately fund” rape
crisis centres around the country.

Another motion calls for Health Minister Mary Harney to
“drop the proposal to relocate Our Lady’s Hospital,

On the issue of drugs, Sinn Féin has proposed a motion
which “supports the decriminalisation of cannabis for
personal use” and in another motion “calls on the judiciary
to enforce the mandatory minimum sentences for drug

Separately, another motion “calls for the bar-coding of all
cans of alcohol to show the place of purchase”.

In other motions, Sinn Féin proposes the free provision and
increased availability of contraceptives, additional
funding to the prosthetic units “to alleviate the long
waiting period for people with disabilities, especially
amputees”, and opposes the downgrading of maternity
services at St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny.

At the time of publication, these motions were due to be
discussed as part of Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis which took place
last weekend (February 17 to 19).


Independent? Alderdice Still Party Member

Lord John ‘Two Jobs’ Alderdice talks shop - Former Assembly
speaker says there’s no conflict of interest in his
Alliance role and his IMC position

Jarlath Kearney


In his first interview with Daily Ireland, Lord John
Alderdice of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC)
tells Jarlath Kearney that there is no conflict of interest
between his ongoing membership of the Alliance party and
his role with the IMC. He also defends the IMC’s immunity
from prosecution on the grounds that, otherwise, the IMC
could be choked with litigation from people complaining
about its reports. (This interview has been edited for
reasons of space).

DI: Can I talk to you about the appointments process? Where
was the job advertised?

JA: I’m not aware of it having been advertised at all.

DI: So you were then approached personally?

JA: Yes.

DI: By whom were you approached?

JA: I can’t remember for sure, I think probably by the
secretary of state, but don’t quote me on that, because
it’s quite a while ago now. But I think it was probably by
the secretary of state. But I honestly don’t remember for

DI: Did you go through an interview process?

JA: No, no. I mean, in an appointment of this kind it’s
very common for people to, if you like, to be head-hunted,
you know.

DI: Handpicked?

JA: Absolutely. Yes, quite clearly. People who the
government decided... the legislation is that the
government appoints people and so the government decides
who it wants and it appoints people that it feels are the
appropriate people for the job. Absolutely.

DI: Was it subject to the rigours of the public
appointments process?

JA: Oh no, goodness no, no.

DI: Why not?

JA: Well you need to ask the government that, I mean I
simply responded to an invitation.

DI: Is there any grievance or complaints procedure which a
person or group can institute against the IMC?

JA: Well, yes. First of all, of course, they can come to
the IMC. And they can explain their concerns and explore
them with us. Secondly, if they wish, they can take their
concerns to the two governments who are the appointing
people. And, thirdly, they can take them through the legal
process to court.

DI: In terms though of an independent complaints mechanism,
such ....

JA: There is no independent complaints mechanism.

DI: In terms of yourself, you are currently president of
Liberal International, isn’t that right?

JA: Yes.

DI: Now, Liberal International describes itself in terms of
a “pre-eminent network for liberal parties”. As president
of Liberal International, are you in receipt of any salary
or expenses of any kind?

JA: No. Not at all.

DI: But you will be aware that questions have been raised
about the fact that, for instance, the Alliance party are
full members of Liberal International and the Progressive
Democrats are observer members of Liberal International.
You have contact with those parties, I take it, through
your pre-eminent position as president of Liberal

JA: Yes. Not very much, but yes I have. I mean obviously
they come sometimes to events.

DI: How do you think that reflects then on the wider
perception of you as an independent person?

JA: Well, I don’t actually think it makes any difference,
because I was the deputy president during the time I was
speaker. And the deputy president is actually the
president-elect. The way it operates is there’s a deputy
president, a president and a past president acts as a kind
of troika, so during the time that I was speaker I was
elected deputy president. Nobody ever raised a question, it
was public knowledge, not an issue. Nobody ever raised a
question about ‘oh, he’s a partisan speaker because the
Alliance party is a member of Liberal International and
he’s the deputy president and president-elect’. During the
whole time I was speaker nobody ever raised that question
in any context at all, and the situation hasn’t changed.

DI: Can individuals be members of Liberal International?

JA: Yes.

DI: So when did you become an individual member, since you
were a full member as the leader of the Alliance party
since the early 1990s?

JA: Well, what I did was join the Liberal Democrats, and
so, in actual fact, when I was proposed for deputy-
president and then later for president I was proposed by
the Liberal Democrats, and the British group of Liberal
International, and the Alliance party also put their name
to it.

DI: So are you now a member of the Liberal Democrats?

JA: I’ve been a member of the Liberal Democrats since 1998.

DI: After you left the Alliance party? Or are you still a
member of the Alliance Party?

JA: The way speakers operate in Dublin and London is that
if you become a speaker you don’t actually resign your
membership of the party that you were in. So any political
involvement that I have had since I became speaker has been
through the Lib Dems, not through the Alliance party. I
don’t go to any Alliance party meetings. I don’t speak at
any Alliance party meetings. I haven’t been involved with
any of those since 1998. But I joined the Lib Dems. I sit
on the Lib Dem benches and any political involvement I have
is with the Lib Dems either in London or internationally.

DI: Are you still a member of the Alliance party?

JA: Yes, yes.

DI: You are?

JA: Yes.

DI: And do you not see any question-mark raised over
potential or perceived conflict of interest if – as a
member of the Alliance party albeit in the manner that
you’ve outlined – you sit on the Independent Monitoring
Commission and receive reports, which may form part of your
wider reports, from the Alliance party?

JA: I would take you back to the business of being speaker.
The situation is no different than it was during the six
years that I was speaker and there were never any
complaints from any of the people – including some of the
people who would now wish to raise complaints – there was
never any complaint about me being partisan, including
being partisan in support of the Alliance party. So I don’t
actually think that there’s an issue for members of the
public. I can absolutely understand that some people who
don’t like the IMC reports might want to raise a question.

DI: In terms of the issue of comments that you make about
particular groups, which in some circumstances are named
and in others aren’t, do you believe that you have a
responsibility to meet with organisations and put your
“charges” to those organisations before you publish them?

JA: We can only meet people who will meet us.

DI: You understand concepts of natural justice, concepts of
customary international law, concepts, for instance, in the
UN and European conventions which indicate quite explicitly
that a person has a right to a fair hearing?

JA: Yes, but you’re talking about something very different.
You’re talking about a court of law. We’re not a tribunal
and you see, one of the things that is very important about
this is, this is one of the reasons why we do not refer to
individual people. You see, that’s the point. If, for
example, if you’re trying to take a case to a tribunal or
something like that, you name the person or corporate
entity against which you are doing that. We don’t do that.

DI: Such as Sinn Féin. You’ve named Sinn Féin.

JA: That’s a particular situation where we are required by
law to address that question, but we do not say ‘this
member of Sinn Féin’.

DI: If you refer, for instance, to the leadership of Sinn

JA: Yes.

DI: ...that refers only to a small handful of people.

JA: But not to an individual person.

DI: Really, that’s a wordgame.

JA: No, it’s not a wordgame. It’s a very, very important
issue. It’s a very important legal issue and its one that I
am very familiar with as speaker, because it was a very
important issue in making decisions in the assembly about
whether what people said was legitimate or not – a very
important issue. It’s not simply wordgames at all.

DI: Well, do you believe it is right that you should be
absolutely free from suit and legal process?

JA: Yes. It would be impossible to do what we are doing if
we did not have, that’s why parliament, both parliaments,
conferred immunity on us as an international body, very
specifically because it would not be possible to do what we
are doing. You see, if the normal administration of justice
was able to address these questions there would be no IMC.

DI: To come to the point, which was your immunity from suit
or legal process, you see that as necessary to the function
that you discharge. At the start you identified three
elements which form some degree of grievance or complaint
or oversight or accountability mechanism, and you
identified people complaining to yourselves, people
complaining to the two governments, and the legal process.

JA: Yes.

DI: Now, you’re immune from suit or legal process. You have
absolute immunity.

JA: Yes.

DI: So the legal process is in fact a very, very limited,
if not nullified form of complaints mechanism. Do you
accept that?

JA: That remains to be seen, because legal action has been
commenced and, therefore, it will be for the courts to
decide. My understanding of it is that there is immunity,
but, and I think that was parliament’s understanding when
it voted on it in London and in Dublin, but the courts will
make the decision, not either of us.

DI: No. Absolutely. But in terms of where we are, at
present, and understandings.

JA: Well, we have to see what the outcome is. It has been
taken to court. Leave has been granted to proceed with it
so that remains to be seen.

DI: But as things stand, the IMC was established...

JA: But I’m interested in why you moved directly to number

DI: Well I was going to come to the other two.

JA: Because the first one is that people, if they have a
concern, come and talk to us. And that is the normal
process in all circumstances.

DI: But here is the issue John: there is no substantive
form of independent oversight or accountability mechanism
for the IMC.

JA: There are lots of situations where that is the case.

DI: But regardless, we’re talking now about you.

JA: No, but you need to understand that, there are lots of
situations where that is the case.

DI: Such as?

JA: When I was speaker.

DI: But that’s entirely different, that’s an open public
legislative assembly which is televised and the proceedings
are open to scrutiny and so forth.

JA: Yes, but do you not understand? I don’t think you
understand what I’m talking about in regard to that. Take
the speaker in the House of Commons. If the speaker in the
House of Commons makes a decision to expel a member, for
whatever reason, there is no right of appeal and there is
no right of appeal to an outside court. It’s like a supreme
court beyond which there is no right of appeal. If you go
to the supreme court in the United States of America, there
is nowhere to appeal to.

DI: But you simply cannot...

JA: So, the point that I’m making is, in any circumstance,
in any circumstance, there is not something that is
endless. Parliament has made the decision as to how it
wants to set this up. And one of the reasons for it is in
order to ensure that there is not endless litigiousness
behaviour which simply chokes everything. Why? Because
there are lots of circumstances where, because of these
things, the law has not been able to be efficacious. One of
the reasons is because the IMC could spend the whole of its
time addressing the complaints of people who didn’t like
what it said, not because what it said isn’t true.

DI: Is that a good enough reason?

JA: You’ll have to ask parliament.

DI: In your own opinion, as an IMC member, is that a good
enough reason for immunity from suit or legal process?

JA: Yes, it is. And it’s one of the reasons why
international bodies have this kind of immunity because if
you don’t have that kind of immunity as an international
body, it becomes impossible to do your work. This is not
unique to the IMC. There’s a sense in which all of it gets
presented in a local political context because of local
political issues. One of the things that’s important, for
example, about any case that would be taken on the issue of
immunity is that it wouldn’t particularly just have
implications for the IMC. It has implications for other
international bodies. So, you know, the tendency is to see
this all as the IMC in this situation in respect of
particular political parties. It’s not. These are issues
which are international issues. And one of the reasons why
international bodies have this kind of immunity conferred
on them is precisely because they can’t do their work if
you don’t have that.

DI: Are you content that you have drawn an equivalence
between a public, elected legislature, with all of the
long-standing rigours of democratic accountability which
exist, vested at some stages in the speaker of the House,
with a newly created body with four hand-picked or
headhunted government appointees in the circumstances in
which the IMC operates?

JA: I’m not drawing equivalence. That’s your word. Analogy
maybe might be a word that I would use, but not
equivalence. They’re not equivalent. We’re a group of
people who are asked to go and do a job in which we produce
reports, that are made public, as public as can be made and
people decide whether or not they believe it and whether or
not they want to act on it. It’s a bit like what happens
with you. You’re a journalist. You go and try to find out
what you can. You check it as best you can. you can’t prove
it and you publish it, and you have a certain amount of
immunity as anyone who tried to sue you will find out.
Right? Within certain bounds you have privilege.

DI: With the greatest respect...

JA: No, no, but no, no, but wait a minute, just hear me
out. I’m not saying we’re actually the same. But you know
very well that you publish things, which you could not
necessarily prove in court but you know perfectly well that
they’re right and the responsibility to take you up is the
responsibility on the person about whom these things are
said, to take an action for libel. So I’m not saying
they’re equivalent. I’m simply making the point that you
probably have a little bit of understanding, if you think
about it, of the way an IMC operates.

DI: I couldn’t sustain a position as a journalist if I
can’t stand over and prove in court everything I write –
especially working for Daily Ireland.

JA: No, no, what you have is, you have to be sure that you
can stand over what you write and you have to be sure that
no one can take a successful suit against you. That’s not
the same thing as saying that you have to be able to prove
everything you write in a court of law. You don’t have to
prove that Ian Paisley is Ian Paisley. It’s just there and
nobody’s going to sue you for it. You assert lots of things
and nobody would dream of taking you to court.


Opin: Do We Need Stakeknives And Soup Spoons If War Is

By James Kelly

Prime Minister Tony Blair called off his visit to Belfast
next week pleading that he needed more time to ”reflect” on
the way ahead for Britain’s distressful colony across the
Irish Sea. In other words the situation is bleak. It
doesn’t take much to imagine Tony’s feelings when an aide
at No 10 reminded him that this was the day he had to meet
three spokesmen of the north’s bewildered political parties
for yet another of those tiresome chin-wags about the road
to no town. It’s been going on for years. Did he like
Reginald Maudling, call for a stiff drink and mutter. “What
a bloody mess. what will I tell them?” Anyway it ended with
both the SDLP and the Unionists demanding a date for action
while Paisley, back from the mountains he promised to
shift, could only announce a dismal ”there is no agreement.
There is a big gulf. The prime minister must do something.”
As the party spokesman left number 10, baffled as usual,
Tony retired to a darkened room with a sick headache
exclaiming “do something? why the hell doesn’t he do
something, such as shut his trap?” (Ok I imagined this but
we all know how he feels.)

Meantime Secretary of State Hain (NI and Wales) was
manfully shouldering the Brit’s “white man burden” in the
Ulster bogs of desolation awaiting news of Sinn Fein’s
Dublin Ard Fheis this weekend hoping to get a clue to what
Gerry Adams and co disclose in time for next week’s meeting
with Blair.

According to leaks from Downing Street, Blair, after his
talk with Sinn Fein, will stage a major speech in Belfast
posing the question to the people, as well as the
politicians. “Do you want an assembly with powers or do you
want to close the thing down?” To wet their appetite in
Belfast for a deal after new negotiations Westminster has
published a new Northern Ireland bill giving sweeping
powers to the new assembly including a snap election to be
called by the secretary of state later this year. The bill
provides for the handing over of policing and justice from
London to Belfast. Increased borrowing powers, steps
towards an all Ireland electricity market and extending to
2010 the deadline for the handing over of paramilitary

A new move to split intelligence gathering between the
police and MI5 here was described as “bad news” by Alban
Maginnis, SDLP assembly member and ”unacceptable” by Sinn
Fein’s Gerry Kelly. From the end of 2007 the MI5 will
operate from the army’s Palace Barracks in Holywood, Co
Down. Have we not seen enough of the activities of spies,
informers, double agents, stakeknives, soupspoons and all
those other scoundrels who left misery in their wake here
over the years? If the war is over do we need more of these
unwanted additions to the public employment sector?

Finally, like many others, I ask seriously is there to be
no end to the dumbing down of television? Can nobody in
authority stop the stagger downward to the gutter? In the
old days we abhorred murder most foul. Nowadays it’s rarely
off our television screens. And now courtesy of the BBC

Archbishop Tutu dragged from far off Cape Town to offset
the sick spectacle, we are to be confronted with Michael
Stone, murderer of six, flaunting his evil presence close
up to the horrified widow of the poor bread server Dermot
Hackett he gunned down on his way to work 18 years ago. By
all accounts we are told that although the devastated widow
cried in the arms of her brother-in-law at the end of the
encounter, Stone never uttered the word “sorry” but talked
about his “terrible burden”, to be known as the “Milltown
Cemetery killer”. That was one of his other detestable
crimes when he gunned down and killed three people at a
funeral in “Milltown’s God’s acre, polluted with his evil


Opin: PR Voting System Makes Small Sectoral Interests Too

This week we saw more evidence of how the sensitive
voting system dictates government policy and threatens to
damage our economic prospects, writes Marc Coleman,
Economics Editor.

Dithering, pandering to vested interest groups and looking
after local constituents at the national expense - just
some of the accusations thrown at politicians in relation
to a range of issues from decentralisation to delays in
making a decision on extending Dublin airport. But are they
really to blame? Some 80 years after gaining independence,
the time may have come to look at our electoral system as a
chief suspect for many of our policy ills.

Our system of multi-seat transferable voting has a
seismographic quality. It can take minor tremors in public
opinion and turn them into significant changes in Dáil
representation. More than any other feature of our
political system, this Proportional Representation (PR)
voting gives tremendous advantage to economic interests
which are prepared to act and lobby in unison, trading
their votes in return for favourable government policy

To illustrate the extreme sensitivity of the system,
consider Fianna Fáil's share of votes and Dáil seats at the
last election. With 41 per cent of the vote Fianna Fáil
was, pro rata, entitled to about 68 seats in the Dáil. The
vagaries of the single transferable vote gave it 81 - a 13-
seat bonus. But PR giveth and PR taketh away. A significant
change in transfer patterns at the next election could see
Fianna Fáil retain the same share of the first preference
vote, but lose around seven or eight seats.

Another example is the 1987 election result for the
constituency of Dublin North Central. With just 24 per cent
of the first preference vote - less than one quarter of
total votes - favourable transfers allowed Fine Gael to
secure two seats out of four - one half of total seats. A
sliver of a change in preferences in that election would
have given Fianna Fáil the third seat.

In such a system any group that can swing votes in return
for policy favours becomes king. Voters who do not "trade"
their votes in this way can get ignored. If the latter type
of voter are the majority, then minority interests can

Those minority interests can be locally or sectorally
defined. This week's anger in Fianna Fáil over the
Taoiseach's decision not to give a junior ministry to Seán
Haughey is a prime example of local constituency interests
staking a claim to a position of power.

Opposition to public sector reform by some unions is a more
sectoral case. Both involve minorities of voters who are
intensely affected by a policy measure. The majority
interest may be served by doing the opposite of what the
minority wants. The majority interest is usually widely
spread and weakly felt, so that voters who benefit will not
alter their vote accordingly. The more intensely affected -
and better organised - minority will win the day.

That, at least, is the case under our present electoral
system because of its extreme sensitivity. Like all human
beings, politicians are averse to job loss and in Ireland's
voting system every vote can count right down to the whim
of a transfer.

Ireland's PR system has often been held up in a positive
light in contrast with the "first past the post" system in
the UK. This system has allowed both Tory and Labour
governments to preserve strong working majorities in
parliament in spite of pushing through tough and unpopular
reforms. A British government, whatever its colour, is more
able to shrug off the effect of a one or two percentage
point loss in support and still get re-elected.

But the British system is a poor model for Ireland. It
represents the other extreme of insensitivity. The ability
of Margaret Thatcher to base her majority on support in
southern England caused severe long-term damage to
Britain's regional balance and cohesion. And however abused
it has become more recently, in the 1980s and early 1990s
social partnership in Ireland gave organised labour an
input into government policy that preserved policy
stability and cohesion, an input made politically necessary
by our PR system.

A compromise is available. Both Germany and the Netherlands
have systems of electoral representation that are based on
proportionality, but avoid manipulation by tiny minorities.
In Germany, political parties must obtain 5 per cent of the
national vote before they can be represented in the

Unlike Ireland, a strong system of local government in
Germany reduces the need for the Bundestag to represent
local interests. And whereas one half of its members are
directly selected by voters, the remainder are selected by
the parties themselves, distributed according to the share
of votes received by that party. The Dutch system is
similarly insulated against local pressures affecting
national politics, while having an effective local
government system to channel those pressures in a more
appropriate way.

In their paper, A Design for Democracy, John Roden, Donal
de Buitléir and Donal Ó Brolcháin link present
dissatisfaction with our Government directly to dysfunction
of policy-making structures.

In a more recent ESRI paper, Dr Frank Barry of UCD
identifies our PR system as a source of poor land planning,
high property prices and, by extension, as a fundamental
threat to our economy's competitiveness. But this area is
just one of many affected by how PR currently works.

The neglect of the Hanly report, the implementation of
civil service decentralisation, the erosion of the spatial
strategy and the many problems with transport and planning
policy can also be traced to this problem.

Long-term damage is being done to the political system as a
result: if core voters realise that minority groups are
getting more attention than their relative share of the
electorate merits, they may decide that - as the saying
goes - "If you can't beat them, join them".

Successive polls have shown steady decline in core voters
for the main political parties. Independent TDs focused on
a narrower range of issues have grown in number. In the
absence of electoral reform, policy-making threatens to
degenerate further into a swamp of local and sectoral
interest bargaining, with the national interest quietly

© The Irish Times


Opin: SDLP Document Places North-South Agenda At The Centre
Of Ireland’s Political Landscape

Party claims everyone will benefit from the plan which
gives the island a single economic strategy which includes,
among other things, transport, waste, mobile charges and

By Mark Durkan

On Monday, the SDLP launched our North South Makes Sense
policy document in Belfast and Dublin.

This document is not just a reflection of long-standing
SDLP principles or clearly thought out SDLP ideas for
cross-border and all-Ireland development.

It is also the outworking of many months of engagement and
consultation we have had with people from all walks of life
on this island through our ongoing North-South Makes Sense
campaign. It has been informed and influenced by a wide
range of interests – including business, trade unions, the
community and voluntary sector, service providers and
service users – and contains significant input and strong
ideas from all of them.

So why the need for the SDLP’s North-South Makes Sense
campaign and the launch of such a comprehensive North-South
document now?

Firstly, because radical North-South development has huge
transforming potential for the whole of Ireland – socially,
economically, culturally, environmentally as well as

Secondly, because the progressive and dynamic North-South
agenda we want to see delivered has been increasingly
sidelined ever since suspension three-and-a-half years ago.

Other parties and the two governments allowed North-South
to be pushed off the agenda by the DUP in the review of the
agreement in 2004 and in the Leeds Castle talks.

The SDLP was the only party putting forward proposals for
new areas of North-South co-operation, better
implementation and more strategic delivery. But that’s not
what we got in the so-called ‘comprehensive agreement’
negotiated between Sinn Féin and the DUP in December 2004.

Instead, we got no new North-South bodies. No new areas of
co-operation. No new areas of implementation. Nothing new
at all on all-Ireland development.

For a party that talks a lot about all-Ireland development,
Sinn Féin has done nothing practical to further that

Against this backdrop, the SDLP has been working hard to
put North-South back where it belongs at the centre of the
political agenda. We needed to. And we have succeeded.

The fact is, North-South Makes Sense and the arguments
against it lack substance. No one has anything to fear from
our proposals. They are radical, but also reasonable.

If we fully embrace North-South it will bring major
benefits to us all, unionist and nationalist alike. If we
fail to do so we will all keep losing out – on job creation
and economic growth, on better service provision and
delivery, on the higher living standards we all deserve.

Brian Cowen has estimated that there will be around €100
million (£68m) invested in infrastructure in the next ten
years. Does it not make sense to plan that massive
investment together, so that we get the best plans, the
best results and the best value for money for taxpayers
North and South. North-South long ago proved itself viable
and valuable – as did the agreement’s British-Irish

When the institutions were up and running, North-South
confounded the sceptics by working very well.

And some who were previously considered wary of North-South
confounded their critics by helping to make it work so
well. But we don’t just want to get back to North-South as
it was. In restored institutions, we need to take it
forward to where it needs to be and make it work better
than ever before.

Our proposals outline over 100 good ideas for achieving

These include:

• An all-Ireland investment strategy that will market the
island as a single economic unit, including through the
harmonisation of corporation tax at 12.5 per cent.

• The removal of barriers affecting cross-border workers,
including tax barriers.

• New all-Ireland funds to encourage departments and others
to come forward with more and more North-South approaches.

• An all-Ireland Infrastructure and Transport Body to
produce a strategic development framework for the island.

• An all-Ireland waste-management strategy to maximise
reduce, recycle and reuse nationally.

• An all-Ireland anti-poverty strategy.

• The end of all roaming charges for mobile phone users.

• Maximising shared use of and access to specialist health

• An all-Ireland Charter of Rights to protect the rights of
all the people of Ireland, regardless of whether they were
born here or have come here from other countries.

• Joint investment in Research & Development for third-
level institutions.

• An Irish medium education forum to develop and promote
the Irish language.

• An all-Ireland mechanism for truth and remembrance that
is victim-centred and victim-led.

All of the proposals the SDLP outlined this week offer
practical ways of integrating the island of Ireland so that
we all win. They make sense and can make a major
difference. They are about bringing people together in
common purpose, lifting the living prospects of all without
threatening the identity, culture or rights of any of us.
Through them we can deliver the better Ireland we all
deserve. That is what we need to get on with in the time


Opin: Why I Still Refuse To Pay The BBC’s Licence Fee

Gearóid Ó Cairealláin

Gregory Campbell of the DUP has demanded that the British
government provides him with details about the thousands
upon thousands of people in the North of Ireland who are
not paying their TV licence. He is probably trying to make
out that its nearly all Catholics who don’t fork out for
the privilege of having a very British Balor pumping the
propaganda in the corner of their living room.

The Brits are himming and hamming and I don’t know if
Gregory is ever going to get a straight answer from them.
He should have asked me. I don’t know about the thousands
upon thousands but I do know one person who refuses to pay
their TV licence. Me.

I do not pay a TV licence, I never have paid a TV licence
and I am fast coming to the conclusion that I never will
pay a TV licence. Not in the North, at any rate, and
Gregory Campbell, the BBC, the British government, the
Licence Collecting Agency (or whoever keeps sending me
those letters), the PSNI and whoever else feels like it can
contact me at Daily Ireland to discuss the matter.

The reason why I refused to pay for a TV licence in the
first place was very simple. The BBC, on whose behalf the
licence in the six counties is collected, discriminates
against the Irish language. And I am damned if I am going
to pay to be discriminated against.

When I bought my first television set – and it’s not that
long ago – the BBC’s annual expenditure on the Irish
language was a duck egg. Zero, zilch, nada. Faic as we say
in the native tongue. Faic on the radio, faic on the

Over the years that expenditure has gone up. We now have a
half hour on radio per night, and a series or two of the
magazine type programme SLR on the telly every year.

The BBC has also been availing of the recently established
Irish Language Production Fund to pay for programmes in
Irish so that they don’t have to use any of their licence
fee money and the result has been the excellent music show
An Stuif Ceart – although as my colleague Concubhar Ó
Liatháin has pointed out, editions of An Stuif Ceart can be
mostly in English.

Years ago the BBC in Belfast brought in a high powered
executive from their own organisation in Wales to carry out
an internal audit on all aspects of the corporation’s
output. He examined sports, current affairs, religious
programming etc.

One day, with all the staff producers around him he asked
what the situation was regarding their Irish language
output. He was Welsh, you see, and assumed that the Irish
language over here would be on a par with the Welsh
language over there.

A prolonged pause ensued, soon developing into a deadly,
embarrassed silence. Eventually someone from the back
whispered in desperation: “For God’s sake, somebody tell
him – it’s a half an hour per week. On radio!’’

BBC Northern Ireland only broadcasts any programming in
Irish at all because they have been forced to do so by
lobbyists and political campaigners. Essentially they
promote a view of Northern Ireland as an essential region
of the UK, an English speaking community with a number of
eccentric pressure groups that must be catered for and kept
quiet. First among those pressure groups is the Irish
language lot.

The BBC does not provide a television service for the Irish
language community. They may consent to broadcasting some
programmes in Irish, but nothing that could remotely be
considered to be anything even approximating a service. And
BBC Northern Ireland has no intention of providing a
television service in Irish at any time in the future.

By a service I mean the news, sport, current affairs, drama
and light entertainment, the arts, programmes for young
people… a television service. If the BBC provided a
television service for the Irish language community in the
North I would gladly pay the licence fee, but until then
they can forget it.

And there is more than the language involved. I disagree
with the BBC’s view of Northern Ireland being part of the
UK. The BBC broadcasts in Ireland to an audience about half
of which consider themselves to be Irish. Just as Irish as
the good citizens of Cork or Galway.

But the BBC is the British Broadcasting Corporation, an
institution whose first aim is promote a sense of
Britishness. The BBC has no facility – it has refused to
develop a facility – for broadcasting to an audience that
have two contrasting and conflicting national identities,
and thereby promoting both their national identities
equally. A sense of Britishness may be fine for the
unionist section of the population of the North, but it
does nothing for me. I want to see the BBC promoting my
sense of Irishness.

That is to say, if the BBC is to continue broadcasting in
Ireland then they should accept the plain reality that only
half the population of the North is interested in a sense
of Britishness. The rest of us want to have our sense of
Irishness given equal status. I don’t think the BBC is
capable of serving both national identities equally.

Look at sport – the BBC has refused to provide live
coverage of any of the matches in the National League so
far. They only ever express interest in matches that
involve six county teams – as if sports fans in the North
were not interested in teams throughout the country.

Take news and current affairs for instance. It’s always as
if Northern Ireland was one country and the rest of the
island was a foreign place. And yes, I realise that is fine
as far as unionists go but it alienates the rest of us.
Take the very issue of how people and places are described,
even in English. It’s always Londonderry, and Northern
Ireland. Mary McAleese is always the Irish president, never
just the President. And need I mention the fact that
television broadcasters on BBC NI are still forced to wear
the poppy, but would be dismissed instantly for sporting an
Easter Lily.

The BBC promotes a sense of Northern Ireland as a British
entity, and treats a sense of Irishness as foreign,
marginal or just plain trouble. And that’s up to them. They
are, after all, the British Broadcasting Corporation. But I
am not going to pay one penny for that.


Opin: Unionists In Need Of Powerful Prod

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

The unveiling yesterday by the British government of
legislation designed to ease the way to a return to
devolved government in the North is a welcome development.

Despite the continued bleating and naysaying of the DUP
and, to a lesser extent, the UUP, it’s clear that there is
a momentum in the peace process at present and a
determination by the British and Irish governments to move
things along quickly and decisively before the political
cogs are completely rusted up by the present inertia.

An imminent visit to the North by the British prime
minister, Tony Blair, has been put on the back burner,
prompting speculation that the visit was cancelled because
the prime minister’s advisers believe that the prospect of
political advancement in the near future is negligible. If
Mr Blair’s visits to Ireland were based on the utter
certainty of success, then Mr Blair’s last few trips across
the Irish Sea would not have taken place.

That’s not to underestimate the difficulties facing us as
we attempt to get the political institutions back up and
running. The fall-out from the most recent IMC report
continues, with unionists leaning on the report rather as a
drunk man leans on a lamppost – more for support than
illumination. The arguments about the validity of that
report have been made, and we have argued forcefully that
it is a shabby and worthless piece of work. And after all
the rhetoric, what stands out is the hypocrisy of those
unionists who would use the IMC report to block political
progress. These are the same people who are content to sit
shoulder to shoulder with loyalist paramilitaries – not
their political representatives, mind you, but the real
deal – on various fora tasked with pushing through Orange
marches or voicing Protestant political concerns.

The new legislation opens the door for policing and
criminal justice portfolios to be placed in the hands of
local politicians, and it invests the Secretary of State
with the power to call a snap election to a new assembly
should the political climate call for it.

While none of this is in and of itself a concrete political
success, it nevertheless sends out a strong message that
the Irish and British governments are determined to see an
assembly back up and running. All that remains now is for
those same politicians in Dublin and London to invest the
same energy and vigour into persuading unionists of the
need for speedy progress. Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin
McGuinness has called on Tony Blair to make it clear that
the Stormont gravy train cannot continue to run in the
absence of a fully operative assembly and that continued
unionist intransigence will lead to consequence in terms of
salaries, allowances and expenses. You might think that
that goes without saying, but those very same people who
are braying the loudest about keeping republicans out of
government are the people who are first in the queue when
it comes to picking up their MLA cheques.


Opin: Case Grows For Kyoto Measures

Several pieces of news this week reinforced arguments in
favour of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change on the first
anniversary of its entry into force. Putting it in place as
an obligatory commitment has already created a far more
informed debate in Ireland and around the world, even if
the limits it imposes are quite insufficient to reverse the
relentless rise in global warming.

It was revealed by a group of Californian scientists that
Greenland's glaciers are releasing millions of tonnes of
water into the Atlantic at a rate three times faster than
10 years ago. In Britain, scientists calculated this could
cause sea levels in these islands to rise by over 11 metres
by the year 3000 if the trend continues. Another study
found the earth is hotter now than for 100,000 years. And
yet another shows that a further 300 years of greenhouse
gas emissions from industries and automobiles will have the
same effect as that which saw global temperatures rise
dramatically by five degrees centigrade 55 million years
ago. The tipping point now is considered to be two degrees
and changes over the past 100 years have brought us three-
quarters of the way there.

Such evidence is steadily accumulating. But it is
exceedingly difficult to generate the required degree of
urgency about it because there is a substantial time lag
between taking action and seeing its effects. It helps,
therefore, to take a much longer view of human and natural
history to put the issue in context. One of the great
achievements of the Kyoto exercise has been to raise
consciousness about these issues and to concentrate
scientific research on them. It is, of course, only a start
for an initial period of seven years - and far more
cutbacks in emissions will be required if existing trends
are to be reversed.

This has been brought home by the publication this week of
the Environmental Protection Agency's revised and updated
figures on greenhouse gas emissions in this State for the
period 1990-2004. They show there was a rise in overall
emissions in 2004 after reductions in the two previous
years. The figures register increases in the transport,
residential and cement sectors in that year, although there
were decreases in energy and agriculture. This reflects
higher economic activity - a trend that continued in 2005.
All this puts Ireland well above its Kyoto target, with
emission rates 23.5 per cent higher than in 1990. Under the
protocol we are required to limit this growth to 13 per
cent above the 1990 level between 2008 and 2012 and will be
heavily fined if this is not achieved by real reduction or
quota trading.

It is now up to Minister for the Environment Dick Roche to
see to it that the consultation document he is about to
produce, with the aim of revising the Government's National
Climate Change Strategy (2000), contains a range of serious
and credible measures to deal with this looming crisis. If
this means stepping on the toes of vested interests, such
as the concrete industry, so be it. Blather and bluster
will get us nowhere if we are to meet these difficult

© The Irish Times


Opin: The Road Not Yet Taken

Saturday February 18, 2006
The Guardian

Mainstream British attention to the affairs of Northern
Ireland has become glumly pragmatic these days. In the
absence of a drama or crisis the spotlight is now rarely
trained towards Ulster. It is hard to argue with the
sensible objectivity of this instinct, however unheroic it
may be. With Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists now in the
ascendant over the vanquished Ulster Unionists,
rejectionism of the Belfast agreement is the default
setting on the unionist side of the divide. Until the
international monitoring commission can come up with two
successive clean bills of health on IRA activity that is
not even going to start to change and, in the light of this
month's findings that the IRA is still engaged in criminal
activity and intelligence gathering, that is not going to
be any time soon. Sinn Féin can make all the accusations of
conspiracy about this continuing impasse that it likes -
they will be much in evidence at the party's annual
conference this weekend - but the reality is that the
consent required to restart the network of devolved
institutions remains a distant dream.

It is a dream, however, to which the Northern Ireland
secretary, Peter Hain, is clearly committed. While many of
the other players act as though nothing much is likely to
change within the foreseeable future, Mr Hain is proving
himself to be a bundle of energy. This week Mr Hain
published an extremely important bill devolving control
over Northern Ireland policing and criminal justice to
locally elected ministers; the object is to entice Ulster
politicians back into serious negotiations in the prospect
that, if successful, this crucial subject will at last come
under cross-community devolved control for the first time
in Northern Ireland history. Next week, Mr Hain hopes to
sit down at Hillsborough Castle with the Irish foreign
minister, Dermot Ahern, and begin another long-delayed
round of talks with the Northern Ireland parties; the aim
in this case is to craft the latest sequence of moves under
which, if all went well, the mistrustful DUP and Sinn Féin
would nevertheless be able to take their places at the
heart of the currently suspended power-sharing
institutions, probably after a further round of assembly
elections, for which Mr Hain's new bill also makes

In the most optimistic scenario, all this work will come
together in a virtuous synthesis this summer in which the
IRA is deemed to have closed down, the institutions are
revived with Mr Paisley as first minister and Sinn Féin
embracing the new policing arrangements. Whether that will
actually happen is, of course, another matter. Mr Paisley
remains a deeply reluctant participant in any of these
activities and it is by no means certain that he will play
his intended part even next week. Tony Blair's decision on
Wednesday to give this round of talks a miss, after
initially committing himself to take the chair and make a
substantial speech in an attempt to force the pace,
underlined both the fragility of what is about to take
place and the fact that the prime minister may no longer
have the clout to bend the process to his will.

The road to devolved government in Northern Ireland is
littered with the corpses of many political careers, Irish
and British. It does not take a genius to recognise either
that Mr Hain, for all his energy and optimism, is at risk
of joining their number or that many unionists are likely
to prefer the current stasis to the uncertain rewards of
power-sharing for some time to come. Nevertheless, a
comprehensive settlement involving the DUP and a peaceful
Sinn Féin has been tantalisingly close before, and the way
to achieving it lies open again next week. The prize of a
Northern Ireland governed peacefully by its own people
under agreed laws and through shared institutions is a huge
one. Mr Hain deserves credit and good wishes as he embarks
on his task, but only a fool would suppose success is


President Has Lost The Sure Touch She Displayed During Her
First Term

By Ryle Dwyer

DURING her first term as President, Mary McAleese never put
a foot wrong, but in the past year she has fouled up on a
number of occasions. Indeed, she seems to be suffering from
that dreaded public disease, foot-in-mouth.

Little over a year ago she was speaking in connection with
the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
extermination camp. She complained that the Nazis had given
“to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same
way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their
children an irrational hatred, for example, of Catholics”.

What she said was true, but it was only half of the truth.
The full truth would have been to admit that there are also
Catholic parents in Northern Ireland who have inculcated in
their own children the same kind of irrational hatred of

“It was never my intention going into it simply to blame
one side of the community in Northern Ireland,” she later
explained. But the fact is that she did only blame one side
and she gave the bigots on that side of the fence a stick
to beat their own drum.

Ian Paisley professes to be a committed Christian, but at
times he does not appear to know the meaning of
forgiveness, or of love. Put him on the stump and his
rabble-rousing instincts break out as he preaches a gospel
of hate.

He is not personally bigoted. Unlike many fanatics, he has
a very good sense of honour.

A former Irish Press reporter tells the story of being sent
to Belfast to interview him one day. He called to Paisley’s
home and was invited in and treated most hospitably.

Paisley answered all the questions and at the end of the
interview invited the reporter to come to one of his
meetings that evening to see how things were run.

The reporter accepted the invitation and just as they were
going into the meeting, Paisley told him to stick close and
nothing would happen to him.

As the meeting began Paisley announced that his guest was
from - and at this point he roared - THE IRISH PRESS, and
he proceeded to rant and rave against the de Valera-owned
newspaper. It was just an act, and all the people there
probably knew it. Paisley has been doing this for over 50
years. He became involved in the Fethard-on-Sea controversy
back in 1957, when the Protestant wife of a Catholic man
fled to the North from Co Wexford with her children because
she did not want them educated in a Catholic school. Local
people retaliated by boycotting innocent Protestant
business people. Local clergy inflamed matters, as did a
number of bishops. The Taoiseach, Eamon de Valera,
denounced the boycott as misguided.

The estranged couple soon reconciled and educated their
children at home. It was an Irish solution to that Irish

At the end of last month, Mary McAleese made a somewhat
controversial speech in Cork on the significance of 1916.
She went over the top in essentially suggesting that the
Easter Rebellion was responsible for our current

“With each passing year, post-Rising Ireland reveals
itself, and we who are of this strong, independent and
high-achieving Ireland would do well to ponder the extent
to which today’s freedoms, values, ambitions and success
rest on that perilous and militarily doomed undertaking of
nine decades ago, and on the words of that Proclamation.
The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal
rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens and
declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity
of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of
the children of the nation equally,” she said, quoting from
the Proclamation.

Surely she is not so naive as to believe we cherished the
children who were abused in our industrial schools and
orphanages. Should we just forget about them again? With
the script for that speech, which would have been approved
by the Government, the President walked into another

That, and last year’s Nazi faux pas, afforded Ian Paisley
an opportunity to take a swipe at her during his speech at
Democratic Unionist Party conference the following weekend.

“I don’t like her because she is dishonest,” he said. “She
pretends to love this province and she hates it.”

WHAT do you expect from a pig but a grunt? Nobody in this
State was going to believe that attack, but Foreign Affairs
Minister Dermot Ahern felt he had to confront Paisley in
case his silence might be misinterpreted. “I said to him
that I, on behalf of the Irish Government, but also on
behalf of the Irish people, categorically found his remarks
unacceptable, unwarranted and untrue.”

Of course, this was playing right into Paisley’s hands in
his own backyard. Paisley has always relished the thought
of giving a piece of his mind to any Irish minister, and it
was all the better when he could take another sideswipe at
our President.

Paisley said he told Ahern “in no uncertain language that
when she made remarks about Northern Ireland and called us
Unionists Nazis that they were strangely silent.... Look, I
said, you’re not refuting anything I said, because you
can’t, for I said the truth, and you’ll just have to take
it”. He went on to say the Republic was a sectarian State.
Much as we may dislike it, we must accept that throughout
most of the last century this was a sectarian State in
which our gutless politicians essentially allowed the
Catholic hierarchy to exercise a political veto on our
public affairs.

But, of course, Dermot Ahern was not prepared to accept
that. He told Paisley he would not “take lectures on
sectarianism” from him.

Sure he might as well have been talking to the wall. It
takes two to engage in that kind of puerile argument, and
Dermot Ahern should have had more sense. If Paisley is
going to behave like a child and throw his rattle out of
the pram, ignore him. It’s just an act, but arguing with
him allows him to duck his electoral responsibility. Hence
the latest talks turned into a farce.

Mary McAleese has got her feet tangled up in her mouth a
couple of times since.

She announced in Saudi Arabia that the Irish people
abhorred the Danish cartoons. How could they? Most have not
seen them. Anyone that I know who has viewed them is
perplexed at how anyone could be upset by them. The whole
thing is a bogus controversy.

But on Thursday, the President got up on her high horse and
defended her remarks. “First of all I am the President of
Ireland and that speaks for itself,” she said. “And
secondly, before I left Ireland I was fully briefed by the
Government as to their view.”

The President’s public speeches are vetted and approved in
advance by the Government, which is therefore responsible.
She had a very good record in her first term and has real
potential to do good, but anyone on a high horse with a
foot in her mouth is riding for a fall. She needs to get
her feet back on the ground.


Magee To Cease Manufacturing In Ireland

Paddy Clancy

Magee suits, famous all over the world, will no longer be
made in Ireland following an announcement yesterday that it
is to close its clothing manufacturing operation in Donegal
town with the loss of 60 jobs by June next year.

The move represented a double jobs blow for the northwest
region yesterday, with the announcement that 91 jobs are to
go with the closure of the Korean firm, Saehan Media, in

Magee, founded in 1866, said that while it is ending its
clothing manufacturing operation in Donegal, the production
of quality fabrics for the world's top design houses -
including Ralph Lauren and Burberry - will continue.

Up to 130 workers will continue to be employed in Donegal
in this part of the operation.

The company's retail shops will also continue to operate in
Donegal town, Dublin and England, according to the company.

Magee chairman Lynn Temple said all other clothing
producers had already moved their manufacturing operations
away from Ireland and the UK, mainly because of costs.

He said: "Magee hasn't had a single competitor still
producing garments in Ireland or the UK."

Staff were informed of the closure intention shortly before
they were due to clock off for their regular Friday half-

Meanwhile, Saehan Media said it is closing its videotape
and video cassettes production facility at Hazelwood
outside Sligo town with the loss of the remaining 91 jobs.

The decision came just days after Platter Foods said it is
closing its plant in Sligo with the loss of 57 jobs.

Two months ago Tractech, which makes parts for heavy goods
vehicles, said it is "relocating" out of Ireland with the
loss of 122 jobs at its Sligo plant.

Workers throughout the region were already shocked by an
earlier announcement that Fruit of the Loom is to cease all
operations in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in May with the end of
up to 170 jobs.

Already 560 jobs are being phased out at the Donegal town
medical devices plant of US company Hospira.

There was angry reaction yesterday to news of the latest
job losses.

Seán Reilly, Siptu representative in Donegal, said: "It is
a black day. The county is already a blackspot for
employment. Can it get any blacker?"

He called on the Government to recognise that unemployment
in Donegal has reached a crisis level.

Sligo Sinn Féin councillor Chris McManus, a former
technician at Saehan which has been in Sligo since 1991,
said Government agencies, including the IDA, have been
aware for a number of years that the Saehan operation has
been winding down its operations.

"Everybody was aware of the plan to fully close the site,
yet nothing has been done for the people who are going to
be unemployed at the end of April."

© The Irish Times


On This Day/February 18 1937

‘No-One Could Surpass’ The Pork Butcher From Belfast

By Eamon Phoenix

THE picture of Joseph Gillis Biggar MP

(1828-1890) – the hunch-backed Presbyterian pork butcher
from Henry Street, Belfast who became one of the first
members of Isaac Butt’s Home Rule Party, taught Parnell the
technique of obstruction, sat on the supreme council of the
IRB, and died in the Catholic faith – is one of the
queerest in our national gallery.

This is how his intimate friend, Tim Healy MP, sketched
him: “In bodily frame defective, his mien stamped him as a
personage – a back haunched, legs small, eyes penetrating
but kindly, his words sprayed forth in such a harsh Belfast
rasp. In courage or honesty no one could surpass him.”

In March 1883, the Irish newspapers reported the breach of
promise action, Hyland v Biggar.

Biggar had left Dublin hastily in the late autumn of 1881,
thinking that even uncongenial

Paris would be a better winter resort than Kilmainham Jail
to which his colleagues Parnell, Sexton and O’Brien had
been sent by Gladstone’s Liberal government.

For three weeks Paris palled on him.

Music, plays and the politics of the Third Republic meant
nothing to ‘wee Joe’.

He was a Catholic by this time, so Notre Dame would have
meant something but its architecture would have signified
little to a taste which had been formed in the
neighbourhood of such buildings as the York Street People’s
Hall and the Sinclair Seaman’s Church.

Then one Sunday afternoon he was taken to a party at the
house of Madam Rouyer, an Irishwoman whose house was a
rendezvous for the Franco-Irish colony of Paris.

Biggar was sponsored by an old friend of the family,
Patrick Egan, a colleague on the supreme council of the

Two other guests were a young Irish woman, Fanny Hyland,
and her sister – daughters of a former mayor of Kilkenny
who had settled in Paris. It was here that Joe met Fanny.

Within a few minutes he was paying her attentions which
showed that his hard

53-year-old shell had been pierced.

A week later as they were walking up the Avenue Hoche,
Biggar offered her his hand and a share in his fortune of
£20,000 accumulated by his father and himself in buying
pork on commission.

When it became clear that the government did not intend
executing the warrant for his arrest, Biggar was returned
to Ireland and to Westminster to continue the fight for
home rule and land reform.

His letters to Paris showed little traces of the Don Juan

They began ‘Dear Fanny’ and ended ‘Yours sincerely’.

The next time he saw her was in court in the action of
Hyland v Biggar for breach of promise.

Lord Coleridge, before whom the action was tried, would
have ruled in his favour, according to Tim Healy, as there
was practically no outside corroboration for the
plaintiff’s story.

But Biggar insisted in going into the witness box himself
and his admissions lost him the case.

Afterwards the judge said that Biggar was the most frank
and truthful witness he had ever known.

The amount of damages given against him was £400, a small
sum for a man who had admitted in the box that he had a
fortune of £20,000.

Despite his 53 years, his hunch-back, his raucous accent
and his reputation as a notorious rebel, he must have
exercised on the London jury something of the same
fascination that he had exercised on Fanny Hyland and
indeed on those who knew him.


Emigration Of Donegal Firm Follows European Trend

Deirdre McQuillan, Fashion Editor

The Magee suit made in Donegal, whose price was once
tailored to the average working man's wage, is the latest
emblematic piece of Irish clothing to move production

Part of a widespread western European trend, the shutdown
of its personal tailoring section with the loss of 60 jobs
makes Magee one of the last volume clothing manufacturers
in Ireland and the UK to outsource its manufacturing to
countries such as Morocco, Portugal and Turkey.

"We are still endeavouring, like we always have, to give
high quality and value for money, but the cost of
manufacturing in Ireland relative to lower cost countries
is now unsustainable," Lynn Temple, chairman of Magee, told
The Irish Times yesterday. In the last three years clothing
prices have fallen by 2.5 per cent and the reality for a
customer is that a Magee suit made offshore with a €400
price tag would retail at €600-€700 if made in Ireland, he

"It's a sad day for Magee and for Donegal, and it's sad to
be losing jobs in Ireland, but it's a fact of life."

The emigration of Magee's clothing manufacturing from
Ireland will not, however, affect its shops or successful
weaving division, which is at the top end of the global
market where it can command high prices.

The l40-year-old company boasts high profile international
clients such as Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Aquascutum,
MaxMara, Tommy Hilfiger, Canali and others for its cloth.

Magee is one of the remaining handful of Irish companies
weaving Donegal tweed in Donegal but, like the Aran
sweater, it is about to earn the unusual status of being
made abroad yet perceived as Irish.

"Magee is still the only authentic manufacturer of Donegal
tweed, but we cannot patent the name because it is a
geographical place," said Mr Temple.

Joan Millar, owner of one of the country's most successful
knitting companies, once employed 250 hand and machine
knitters in Ireland in the l980s making modern versions of
the Aran sweater.

Since moving production to China, Ms Millar now
concentrates solely on design and has won many major UK
contracts. She can still offer Irish-made sweaters to her
customers but at double the price.

© The Irish Times


Call For All Killed In Rising To Be Commemorated

Stephen Collins, Political Correspondent

Labour deputy leader Liz McManus has called on the
Government to commemorate the policemen, soldiers and
civilians who were killed in the 1916 Rising, as well as
the members of the Irish Volunteers who died.

Ms McManus said it was not good enough just to commemorate
those who died on the Somme at a separate event. All those
involved in 1916 on whatever side, or none, should be
remembered when the 90th anniversary of the Rising is
commemorated this Easter.

"I was struck by the fact that at the most recent event to
commemorate those who died on Bloody Sunday, British
soldiers who were killed in the Northern conflict were also
remembered. If we can deal so maturely with such a
traumatic event of our recent past surely we can deal with
1916 in a mature fashion," she said.

Ms McManus said that 1916 was certainly a significant event
in our history and it had to be commemorated. "We should
not forget the ideals of those who took part in the Rising
as they still have a relevance today but we should not be
afraid to remember all who died at Easter 1916." Ms McManus
said that the names of people such as Clarke, Pearse,
MacDermott, MacDonagh, Colbert, Connolly were all familiar
to us from 1916 and their sacrifice deserved to be

"However, these same surnames occur in the lists of men
decorated, wounded or killed in British uniform during
Easter week 1916 in Dublin. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers were
among the regiments called upon to put down the Rising and
Irishmen served in many of the other units involved.

"It is easy for the Irish State to honour those who died
far away in Flanders or Gallipoli. Are we tolerant enough
now, 90 years on, to officially respect those troops of the
same army who fell on the then Sackville Street or at Mount
Street Bridge?" she asked.

Ms McManus has been nominated by Labour to serve on an all-
party committee planning for the 100th anniversary of the
Rising in 2016.

"When the committee meets I will be proposing that party
politics should be taken out of the centenary celebrations.

"What we are seeing at the moment is the old story of
Fianna Fáil trying to claim Irish history as their own. It
is arrogant and historically inaccurate."

Ms McManus said President Mary McAleese's speech about the
Rising was a simplistic, old-fashioned view of the event
which did not capture the broader context in which it

© The Irish Times


Bloody Sunday

'Sunday' Play Director Visits Derry

Friday 17th February 2006

The man behind an acclaimed stage adaptation of the Saville
Inquiry will be in Derry next week to discuss his work.

Nicolas Kent, artistic director of London's Tricycle
Theatre Company, will visit the Magee campus of the
University of Ulster on Wednesday to launch the Bank of
Ireland 'Centre Stage' series.

One of the leading figures of contemporary political
theatre, Nicolas Kent is best known as the driving force
behind 'tribunal' plays or 'verbatim' theatre.

These plays have established the Tricycle as an important
outpost of political theatre in Britain and reflects Kent's
belief that "art can significantly influence political and
social change."

Among his works is 'Bloody Sunday: Scenes from the Saville
Inquiry', which is based on the edited evidence of more
than 1,000 witnesses who testified before the tribunal
investigating the events of Bloody Sunday.

His most recent production, 'Guant·namo: Honour Bound to
Defend Freedom', is created from interviews with detainees,
their relatives and lawyers, as well as public testimonials
by politicians and commentators.

During his stay in Derry, Kent will work with UU drama
students during an afternoon event and later that evening
will share his experiences with a wider public audience at
an "In Conversation" forum.

This event will take place at the Centre for the Creative
and Performing Arts which is located in the old Foyle Arts
building, Lawrence Hill (7.30 p.m.)

Admission is free. However, as space is limited, those
wishing to attend are asked to contact UU's Cultural
Development Office on Tel: (028) 71375456 to reserve a

The 'Centre Stage' series is a development of the very
successful 'Leading Ladies' series which ran throughout
2005 and attracted some of theatre's leading female
practitioners to the Magee campus.

The new series will develop on the existing format to
include leading practitioners, both male and female,
working in all aspects of drama, including actors,
directors, writers, designers and critics.

As well as working with UU drama students, the guest
artists, in each case, will present a public event so that
a wider audience has an opportunity to benefit from the
visits. The 'Centre Stage' Series will run until February

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