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February 05, 2006

DUP Split On Power Sharing With SF

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BN 02/05/06 DUP 'Split On Power Sharing'
SL 02/05/06 UDA Is Holding On To Its Guns
SL 02/05/06 UVF Victim's Father Hits Out At Top Cop Orde
SL 02/05/06 FRU Fulton Thinks He Deserves Ulster Gong
IT 02/05/06 Hain Calls For End Of 'Political Paralysis'
SL 02/05/06 Dissident Linked To Knife Killing
DI 02/05/06 Bounty Victim
BB 02/05/06 Houses Damaged In Petrol Attacks
DI 02/05/06 Bomb At SF Office ‘Handled By RUC’
DI 02/05/06 Alleged Bugging At Lawyer’s Office
DI 02/05/06 Bertie Slammed On Vote On Pres Elections
DI 02/05/06 Happy Birthday Daily Ireland
DI 02/05/06 DUP Still Refuse Talks
DU 02/05/06 Conference 2006 - Paisley's Speech
DU 02/05/06 Conference 2006 – Robinson’s Speech
SL 02/05/06 Opin: IMC 'Present' For Big Ian
SL 02/05/06 Opin: Impasse Won't Be Easily Resolved
DI 02/05/06 Opin: IMC’s Nineth Report?
DI 02/05/06 Opin: Cracks Appearing In FG-Labour Love-In
DI 02/05/06 Mayor Looks To Bring Back Donegal Festival
TN 02/05/06 The End Of The Internet?


DUP 'Split On Power Sharing'

05/02/2006 - 10:54:15

Almost two fifths of Democratic Unionists would share power
with Sinn Féin if IRA criminality ended and there was total
disarmament, an opinion poll claimed today.

A survey of 100 delegates attending yesterday’s DUP annual
conference in Belfast revealed 39% of those questioned
believed that, in the right context, the party should share
power with Sinn Féin and other parties.

However, 37% felt that even if the IRA ended its
criminality and destroyed every weapon, direct rule by
British ministers in Northern Ireland would be preferable
while 24% had no opinion.

As the party prepared for a new round of talks tomorrow
organised by the British and Irish governments to revive
devolution, the opinion poll for the Sunday Times showed
DUP delegates remained highly sceptical about claims last
September that the IRA had destroyed its stockpile of

The results showed 93% did not believe decommissioning had
been completed while only 4% were of the opinion that it

During yesterday’s conference DUP leader the Reverend Ian
Paisley claimed last September’s final act of
decommissioning was a lie.

The North Antrim MP said claims that IRA decommissioning
had been completed were “a falsehood so blatant even Lord
Haw Haw would have blushed to utter it”.

Doubts have surfaced since Wednesday that the IRA has
totally disarmed, after reports from General John de
Chastelain’s disarmament body and the ceasefire watchdog,
the Independent Monitoring Commission, revealed they had
been told by security sources that members of the
Provisionals had retained a range of weapons, including
hand guns.

The opinion poll also revealed that 17% of delegates
surveyed felt the time was right for the DUP to enter into
face-to-face political talks with Sinn Fein but the vast
majority, 82%, were opposed to the suggestion.

However 96% believed the DUP should share power with the
Mark Durkan’s nationalist SDLP if that was an option.

Support for the Reverend Ian Paisley as DUP leader remained
firm, with 85% feeling he should remain at the helm of the
party and 11% believing he should retire.

In the event of the North Antrim MP standing down, DUP
deputy leader Peter Robinson attracted the most support
from a list of potential candidates.

The East Belfast MP had 37% support, compared to 25% for
the North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds and (% for the party’s MEP
Jim Allister.

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell and South Antrim MP the
Reverend William McCrea had 2%, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey
Donaldson had 1% but almost a quarter of the delegates,
24%, did not state a preference.


UDA Is Holding On To Its Guns

05 February 2006

A senior UDA figure has dismissed suggestions that the
organisation is considering decommissioning its weapons.

Jackie McDonald - who Special Branch says is the
organisation's South Belfast brigadier - told Sunday Life
that he didn't believe there was any likelihood that the
terrorist group would dump arms.

He said: "I can't know exactly what the Ulster Freedom
Fighters is discussing.

"But from what I hear, decommissioning weapons isn't on the
radar. I certainly haven't heard anything about discussions
on decommissioning going on within the organisation."

But the leading loyalist said he was certain that progress
was being made to stop drug-dealing, racketeering and
attacks by paramilitaries in Protestant areas.

"I have no doubt that people are trying to bring many
criminal things to an end and that progress is being made.

"People are trying to move in the right direction, but the
main thing is that the Government and others have to
recognise that people are trying to move in the right
direction," he said.

"Look at the rewards that the biggest criminal organisation
in western Europe - the IRA - has got from the two
governments, and they've held onto many guns, we've now

"They have got everything and loyalists have got nothing."

However, McDonald said he could see a time when the UFF -
the UDA's military wing - would be stood down.

"I can see that situation coming about in certain

"And from what I understand, it is being discussed, but
decommissioning isn't on the radar - despite what was
written in some papers last week.

"The IMC tells the world that the IRA hasn't gone away, is
still collecting details on people and has many guns still
hidden. I can't see loyalists throwing their guns away with
that going on.

"But progress is being made and the Government needs to
help us to make more good things happen."

One senior UDA figure in north Belfast confirmed McDonald's

"Decommissioning isn't being discussed and, frankly, I
don't think it will happen within the UDA.

"I don't know about the UVF.

"I just speak for the UDA and we have eight interface areas
up here and the INLA, the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA
are active and the Provos are about, too, picking up
details on people.

"So this brigade won't vote for decommissioning unless some
very dramatic things happen."

It's reliably understood that the UVF is considering a
significant "downsizing" operation, but not

Said one senior UVF source: "Neither of the two main
loyalist groups is actively discussing decommissioning.

"It may be mentioned in passing, but it is not being
seriously discussed by either of the two groups.

"The irony is that it's the Loyalist Volunteer Force that
has the most formidable arsenal of weapons with over 700
guns in mint condition.

"They really have the best kit among the three groups and
the Independent Monitoring Commission Report said they
hadn't gone away, you know.

"And while the feud with the LVF is settled, nobody can say
for certain that it will never ever erupt again.

"It shouldn't, but who knows?" added the senior UVF source.


UVF Victim's Father Hits Out At Top Cop Orde

Stephen Breen and Alan Murray
05 February 2006

Chief Constable Hugh Orde has been slammed by the father of
a UVF murder-victim who has been invited to meet Bertie
Ahern in Dublin.

Raymond McCord claims he is being treated with "contempt"
by Sir Hugh - while the Taoiseach welcomes him in the Dail.

McCord wants the Chief Constable to tell him if he has
sacked informers within the UVF who were involved in his
son, Raymond jnr's, killing.

And he wants to know how many officers who handled UVF
informers who murdered are still serving.

Said McCord: "I want to know how many of the UVF informers
in north Belfast who were involved in killings - including
young Raymond's murder - are still on the PSNI payroll.

"I want to know how many RUC officers who handled them and
knew what they did are under Hugh Orde's command, but he
refuses to meet me," said McCord

"It is discrimination against Protestant families who lost
their loved-ones at the hands of loyalists."

McCord has also handed the names of the killers responsible
for the brutal sectarian slaying of a young woman to her
grieving family.

He passed the dossier on the murder of Sharon McKenna to
her relatives when he met them with their solicitor last

Catholic Sharon (27), was gunned down by the notorious
Mount Vernon UVF gang in 1993 at the Belfast home of a
pensioner as she cooked him dinner.

Added McCord: "I provided information to the family which
they weren't aware of and I hope it helps them in their
pursuit of justice.

"This is the first time that I have met with Sharon
McKenna's family and it was an extremely worthwhile

"I have received a lot of information over the years about
the activities of the Mount Vernon UVF and if I can assist
any other family, I will."


They won't pin this on me

But FRU Agent Thinks He Deserves Ulster Gong

05 February 2006

A former Army spy has accused the Ministry of Defence of
"double standards" after the Government refused to award
him the Northern Ireland General Service Medal.

Ex-soldier 'Kevin Fulton' spent several years working for
the Army's highly-secretive Force Research Unit (FRU) after
he left the Royal Irish Rangers in 1981.

During his time with the FRU, Fulton successfully
infiltrated IRA units along the border.

His high-grade intelligence saved lives and helped disrupt
Provo operations in south Armagh.

But the MoD has effectively refused to recognise his
service as a soldier by withholding the GSM.

Fulton told Sunday Life: "Like all RIR soldiers, I was
automatically entitled to the GSM once I completed 30 days'
service in Northern Ireland.

"But when I applied for my medal, the MoD told me I wasn't
entitled to it - in spite of having carried out operational
guard and escort duties in Northern Ireland.

"Furthermore, I also recruited other agents for the FRU
while I was still a member of the Royal Irish Rangers."

Sunday Life has obtained a copy Fulton's military discharge
papers, signed by his commanding officer.

They clearly state he served in Northern Ireland between
September 1979 and March 1981.

Added Fulton: "I only want what I am entitled to.

"Two other RIR soldiers on the same recruits' course as me
were awarded their GSMs before they finished their basic

"The MoD is operating a policy of double standards toward

One former Army officer told us: "Working undercover inside
the IRA, Fulton's life was on the line 24/7.

"There is no doubt that, had he been an officer, he would
have been awarded the Military Cross for his work with the

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said Fulton should be
awarded his GSM if he had served with the Army in Northern

He said: "I appreciate that contentious issues surround
Kevin Fulton's activities while working as an agent with
the Army.

"It is clear that the state is now trying to distance
itself from these issues, however they are issues that need
to be addressed."


Hain Calls For End Of North 'Political Paralysis'

Last updated: 05-02-06, 11:45

The Secretary of State for the North, Peter Hain, has
called for an end to "political paralysis" in the North and
warned that maintaining the status quo was "unacceptable".

Mr Hain's comments came ahead of a new round of talks
tomorrow organised by the British and Irish governments to
revive devolution.

He said 2006 was "a decisive year" and all parties
recognised the need to make progress.

"We can't continue as we have been, in a state of political
paralysis with the Assembly now suspended for nearly four
years and with Assembly members earning on average £85,000
Stg year in salaries and office and other expenses, to
continue not to do their jobs," he said.

"That's not tenable. It's costing £9 million to keep over
100 Assembly members carrying on without doing their jobs."
Mr Hain told Sky's Sunday Live programme: "It's cost us £78
million since the Assembly was established to keep it idle.

"That can't continue and everybody accepts that." He argued
there was "no reason" for any political party not to
negotiate on the future politics of Northern Ireland .

"Terrorism has been closed down by the IRA. It is still
unfortunately in existence with small paramilitary groups
on the loyalist side and on the republican side that are
dissidents," he added.

"So those groups need to be dealt with but there is
absolutely no reason at all for any political party not to
turn up tomorrow and meet me in Hillsborough Castle to
discuss the way forward. "And indeed all are turning up."

He continued: "I think there is now a recognition among all
the parties that continuing as we are is not acceptable or
tenable. They want to be making the decisions that I am
making - some of them they don't agree with. "Well, my
invitation to them is get into the Assembly together and
make those decisions yourself."

© 2006


Dissident Linked To Knife Killing

Stephen Breen
05 February 2006

A leading renegade republican was last night being linked
to the brutal murder of a father-of-six in west Belfast.

Senior security sources say a top Real IRA man - who served
time in prison for arms offences - was responsible for the
killing of Gerard Devlin.

The 40-year-old died after a knife was plunged into his
chest following a row in the Whitecliff Parade area of
Ballymurphy, on Friday afternoon.

The clash was linked to a long-standing dispute between Mr
Devlin and the Notorantonio family, which dates back 10

A number of attempts at mediation between the families were
held last week and Mr Devlin had agreed to leave the area.

But he was attacked when he went back to Ballymurphy to
collect his children for the weekend.

Two of the murder victim's relatives - Tony McCabe and
Thomas Loughran - were also injured in the vicious attack.

It is understood a sword was plunged into the back of one
of the injured men.

Part of the sword is believed to have remained in his chest
as he was rushed to hospital.

We know the identity of the suspected killer, but cannot
publish it for legal reasons.

The dissident is not one of the two men who were quizzed by
cops yesterday about the murder.

Six houses in the Ballymurphy area were also searched by
cops probing the killing.

And we can reveal pals of the killer threw bottles at the
home of Mr Devlin's grandmother shortly after his killing.

They also taunted Mr Devlin's family by chanting: "One down
and many more to go."

Local community leaders were also set to meet with the
Notorantonio family to discuss the murder.

Said a local source: "A pal of the dissident challenged
Gerard Devlin to a fight and when Gerard was getting the
better of him, the dissident and his team jumped in.

"There would have been more deaths had it not been for the
local community workers who were trying to calm the

"Tensions are still very high and people in the entire
district are blaming this dissident for the murder. He's
nothing but a thug."

Added local Sinn Fein councillor Marie Cush: "The community
is shocked but not surprised that this has happened.

"The Notorantonio family were saying the other night that
they were being persecuted, but I would like to ask them
who are the victims now?

"The community is very angry at this murder and are just
hoping that no one else loses their life."


Bounty Victim

Last year this man came to Daily Ireland claiming a £10,000
bounty had been put on his head by a rival family after he
survived a murder bid. Last night he was stabbed to death.


A man murdered yesterday during a street fight in Belfast
earlier told Daily Ireland he had a bounty of £10,000
(€14,700) on his head.

Gerard Devlin was stabbed in the neck after clashing with a
well-known family in the Ballymurphy area in the west of
the city.

Another man with him at the time was also taken to hospital
with stab wounds.

He was seriously wounded but his condition was described as

Mr Devlin’s murder was the result of a long-running feud
with the rival family.

Three years ago, he had his throat slashed after being
assaulted by two members of the family. He was stabbed
seven times in that attack.

In August last year, the father of six was the subject of a
second attack by members of the other family.

Mr Devlin was beaten with a pitchfork and spade.

His 13-year-old son, who was with him at the time, narrowly
escaped injury.

A short time later, members of the family threatened Mr
Devlin with a pistol. Last September, Mr Devlin voluntarily
agreed to leave Ballymurphy in a bid to bring an end to the
feud. Two members of the family with which he had clashed
also allegedly agreed to leave the estate but went back on
their promise.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr Devlin and two friends got involved
in a fist fight with members of the rival family in
Whitecliffe Parade.

According to witnesses, Mr Devlin and his friends were
getting the better of their opponents but then other
members of the family allegedly arrived armed with knives.
Mr Devlin and one of his friends were then stabbed. Mr
Devlin died a short time later in hospital.

In an interview with Daily Ireland last September, Mr
Devlin said the opposing family had placed a £10,000 bounty
on his head.

He said he was living in fear of his life and predicted he
would be the target of another murder bid.

Community Restorative Justice Ireland had been involved in
trying to mediate in the dispute.

Group spokesman Jim Auld said last night: “This is a tragic
situation that could have been avoided.

“CRJ was involved for more than two years in trying to sort
out problems between families. Unfortunately, we weren’t
successful as people involved from both families weren’t
prepared to compromise.”

Mr Auld said the situation had not been helped by those
seeking to undermine the validity of his organisation.

“Politically motivated organisations and individuals have
used the media for their own ends to attack the CRJ,
undermining our efforts and prompting those involved not to
take responsibility for their own actions. This is the

“I told both families that this situation would come about
— that someone would end up dead.”

The PSNI swamped the Ballymurphy estate last night amid
fears of revenge attacks.

A spokesman for the PSNI said the force was investigating
an altercation between groups of males in the Ballymurphy
area yesterday afternoon.


Houses Damaged In Petrol Attacks

Two homes have been damaged in a series of petrol bomb
attacks in west Belfast, police have said.

At about 2000 GMT on Saturday two homes in the Dermot Hill
area of Ballymurphy were attacked with petrol bombs.

Only minor damage was caused and no injuries were reported.
A number of items were removed for examination.

Police are also investigating the circumstances of a later
fire which caused "substantial damage" to a shop in the
Ballymurphy area.

It was reported just before 0100 GMT on Sunday.



Bomb At SF Office ‘Handled By RUC’

by Ciarán Barnes

A bomb that exploded outside a Sinn Féin office in Monaghan
town in 1997 had been handled by both the British army and
RUC before being planted, Daily Ireland can reveal.

Security sources confirmed yesterday that, after the bomb
had been made in west Belfast’s Shankill Road, it was
handed to a notorious Ulster Volunteer Force killer, who is
also a long-standing police informer.

He gave the device to his RUC Criminal Investigation
Department handler, who gave it to the British army.

According to security sources, the bomb was “disabled”
before being returned to the CID detective, who gave it
back to his UVF informer.

The paramilitary and two UVF colleagues from the loyalist
Mount Vernon estate in north Belfast, who unbeknown to him
were also both police informers, then made an uninterrupted
60-mile (97-kilometre) journey to Monaghan, where they
planted the bomb.

On March 4, 1997, the 25 sticks of Powergel exploded,
causing minor damage to the town’s Sinn Féin offices.

The explosives had been hidden inside a pink holdall.
Believing the bag contained rubbish, Sinn Féin workers had
moved the holdall on two occasions. Security sources told
Daily Ireland the RUC had let the UVF gang carry out the
attack in order to protect its three informers within the

They claimed that, because the British army had “disabled”
the bomb, senior officers were confident the explosion
would not result in lives being lost.

The Monaghan bombing is being investigated as part of a
Police Ombudsman probe into attacks carried out by Special
Branch UVF informers during the 1990s.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman’s office said: “Our
investigation is wide-ranging and ongoing. At this stage,
it would be inappropriate to comment on specific aspects.

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who was the target of
the UVF gang, has called for a full public inquiry into the
cross-border bomb attack.


Alleged Bugging At Lawyer’s Office


The PSNI chief constable is to be questioned about
allegations that a solicitor arrested for suspected
terrorist offences had been secretly bugged during
confidential meetings with clients.

John Bailie, the Law Society of Northern Ireland chief
executive, will demand an explanation when he meets Hugh
Orde in Belfast on Monday to discuss the case.

Manmohan Sandhu was detained by anti-terrorist officers on
suspicion of membership of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Mr Sandhu, a 41-year-old from Limavady in Co Derry, was
arrested on Tuesday at Antrim Serious Crime Suite, the
North’s only holding centre for terrorism suspects.

Detectives questioning him have been told he can be held
until today before deciding whether to charge him.

Joe Rice, Mr Sandhu’s solicitor, said the arrest had been
based on evidence and intelligence from covert listening
devices planted at the centre.

Mr Sandhu’s private consultations with as many as 50
clients over the past nine months were allegedly taped.

Mr Bailie has arranged to hold talks with Hugh Orde after
being urged to intervene by Mr Rice.


Bertie Slammed On Vote

By Connla Young

The Irish government faced strong criticism last night
after it rejected demands for citizens living in the North
to be allowed to take part in presidential elections.

In an angry outburst, West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff
slammed Taoiseach Bertie Ahern after his office said the
issue of voting rights for people in the North would not be
considered until after all aspects of the Good Friday
Agreement have been “implemented in full”.

The Sinn Féin representative and avid Gaelic football fan
had earlier pointed out to Mr Ahern that 11 out of last
season’s 15 GAA All Stars are not be allowed to vote in
Irish presidential elections yet are allowed to receive one
of the country’s most prestigious sporting awards.

“People from the North like to play a leading role in Croke
Park and want to practice their politics in Dublin as well.
If Tyrone and Armagh are playing in a match in Dublin the
whole country looks on but none of those men on the pitch
are allowed to vote in a presidential election.

“I think Bertie Ahern’s approach is minimalist and he is
dragging his heels on this issue.

“It’s hard to fathom, hard to absorb, but it is something
the Taoiseach can move on with without reference to other
aspects of the Good Friday Agreement being implemented


Happy Birthday Daily Ireland


As Daily Ireland celebrates its first birthday the time has
come to look back at the stories the paper has covered in
its year-long existence. Despite predictions to the
contrary, the paper is still rolling off the printing press
and can only get stronger.


As republicans faced a political onslaught Sinn Féin
launched its most significant national discussion document
since ‘Towards a Lasting Peace’ was released 13 years

Just a week after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern snubbed Northern
political representation in the Dáil, the initiative was
seen as an integral element of the party’s “practical
planning for Irish unity”.

Party President Gerry Adams told an audience in the Dublin
Writers Museum that the document provides a “compelling
argument” for the Irish government to introduce a green
paper on Irish unity within the next year.

“In 1992, Sinn Féin published a document, Towards a Lasting
Peace in Ireland, which set out our party’s peace strategy
and which signposted the development and evolution of the
peace process,” Mr Adams says.

“Now, in 2005, we are setting out our road map for Irish
unity and launching a campaign to urge the Irish government
to bring forward a green paper and to begin the practical
planning for Irish unity now.”


The former head of the RUC’s Special Branch told Daily
Ireland that a united Ireland is “inevitable”.

In an exclusive interview, Bill Lowry said that “when we
come to a united Ireland there will have to be a new flag
and a new anthem, which I believe is inevitable”.

Addressing a DUP meeting at the end of 2004, the man who
once spearheaded the Special Branch campaign against the
IRA, described Sinn Féin as “evil incarnate”.

He warned unionists that if they “lie down with Sinn Féin
dogs they will get up with fleas”.

Mr Paisley took the stand after Bill Lowry and delivered
the speech which effectively scuppered any chance of the
formation of a new executive between his party and Sinn

Though forced out of the PSNI after the ‘Stormontgate’
raids of October 2002, Bill Lowry insisted he did uncover
an IRA spy-ring at the heart of government.

He dismissed claims that the IRA were involved in drug-
dealing but insisted the organisation did carry out the
Northern Bank robbery.

Mr Lowry also said he “wouldn’t trust the British
government as far as he could throw them”.


Five men were arrested and sent to prison because they
objected to a potentially dangerous gas pipeline being laid
close to their homes. The men, all from Rossport in Co
Mayo, were incarcerated after being accused of breaching a
High Court injunction taken by the energy giant Shell.

The company sought the imprisonment of the men for
breaching a court injunction, stopping them from blocking
the construction of the gas pipeline on their land and
close to their homes.

Protesters assembled outside the court to vent their anger
at the decision.S

Mr Justice John McMenemin said the five men would not be
released until they accept the terms of the Shell
corporation’s injunction.

The move came after hundreds of residents of rural Mayo had
expressed health and safety fears over the proposed


The IRA released a statement ordering its volunteers to
dump arms and to pursue the objective of a united Ireland
solely through peaceful and democratic means and to cease
all other activity from 4pm on July 28. It also said that
it would immediately re-engage with the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning, meaning
weapons could start being put beyond use straight away.

Speaking at a packed press conference in Dublin at 4pm,
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams appealed for unity and
solidarity among all Irish nationalists and republicans. He
said the IRA action would have a profound effect on the
nationalist community.

Mr Adams challenged the British and Irish governments to
respond to the IRA’s announcement by moving to fully
implement the terms of the Good Friday Agreement without
delay. He called for action from Dublin, accusing past
Irish administrations of blaming the conflict for the
governments’ failure to promote Irish unity.


The Colombia Three surfaced in Ireland. Finian McGrath, the
independent TD for Dublin North Central who acted as an
observer at the trial of Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley
and Jim Monaghan, said anyone who wanted the men sent back
to Colombia “needs their heads examined”.

“As someone interested in this case from a personal and
humanitarian point of view, I welcome the fact that they
got home and I apologise to no one for that.

“They should now stay in Ireland, and I challenge anyone –
inside or outside the law – in relation to extradition.”

Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Peter Robinson
demanded “their immediate arrest and for the Republic to
hand them over to the Colombian authorities… by whatever
means necessary”.?


Senior Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson was revealed as a
paid British agent by party president Gerry Adams at a
press conference in Dublin.

In a statement read out to the media, Mr Donaldson
confirmed that he worked for both the RUC and PSNI Special
Branch as well as British intelligence for more than two
decades as a paid informer.

The former Sinn Féin head of administration at Stormont
said claims that republicans operated a spy-ring at
Stormont are false: “The so-called Stormontgate affair was
a scam and a fiction. It never existed. It was created by
Special Branch,” said Mr Donaldson, who was accompanied by
his solicitor Peter Madden.

Mr Donaldson’s admission came less than a week after Daily
Ireland revealed that a British agent provocateur was
suspected of helping the PSNI set up the 2002 Stormont
raids and spy-ring allegations, designed to incriminate
republicans and collapse the political process in the

An American chef linked to a break-in at the PSNI’s
headquarters in Belfast said on December 20 it was 'very
possible' he had been set up by British agent Denis
Donaldson and Special Branch detectives. In an exclusive
interview with Daily Ireland's US correspondent Jim Dee,
Larry Zaitschek denies any involvement in the 2002 break-in
at the Castlereagh police complex and claims he has been
made a scapegoat by the PSNI.


The British government was asked to give a definitive
answer on whether it intends building a nuclear power plant
in the North.

Green campaigners wrote to secretary of state Peter Hain
demanding to know if any sites in the North are being
considered for new plants.

There are fears that the British government is looking at
developing a nuclear plant in either the Down or Newry and
Mourne district council areas.

Concern increased after British prime minister Tony Blair’s
recent admission that a new energy review would include
specifically the issue of whether to facilitate the
development of a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Down SDLP councillor Margaret Ritchie, who is a member of
the all-Ireland Nuclear-Free Local Authorities forum, said
renewable energy and not nuclear power could meet the
North’s energy needs.

“There is absolutely no good reason why this should change
just because Tony Blair has been seduced by the nuclear
lobby into calling yet another energy review” she said.

Nuclear plants rely on the mining of uranium, a process
that is extremely damaging to health and the environment.
No safe solution exists for the disposal of waste, which
remains active for at least one million years.

Patricia McKenna, a former Green Party MEP for Dublin, said
nuclear power plants were really military projects.

She said the use of nuclear power had never been peaceful
and was clearly linked to nuclear arms.

“The generation of electricity in nuclear reactors produces
nuclear substances that can be used for making nuclear

“The dangers associated with the handling of weapons-usable
nuclear substances require a high level of security and
secrecy in even so-called democratic countries.

“Given Blair’s concern about international terrorism, one
would expect him to take a precautionary approach to the
nuclear industry.”

Victims groups claimed victory after the secretary of state
withdrew the controversial Northern Ireland (Offences)

Bloody Sunday justice campaigners welcomed the decision as
the end of an abusive piece of legislation. The anti-
collusion organisation An Fhírinne described the move as a
“massive breakthrough”.

Speaking at Westminster, Peter Hain said he was withdrawing
proposals to allow those wanted for Troubles-related
offences committed before 1998 to be freed on licence after
attending a special tribunal.

The secretary of state told parliament that the legislation
was necessary but that Sinn Féin’s rejection of it made it
unworkable. However, Mr Hain warned that the issue of ‘on-
the-runs’ would not go away.

The legislation would have allowed former RUC officers and
British soldiers to escape prosecution for their
involvement in hundreds of deaths.

Bloody Sunday campaigner John Kelly, whose 17-year-old
brother Michael was one of 14 unarmed civilians killed by
paratroopers in Derry city in 1972, welcomed the withdrawal
of the legislation.

He said it gave his family some hope that Michael’s killer
might be brought to justice.

“This is a victory for families throughout Ireland. It was
a despicable piece of legislation, which no one wanted” he

A world-renowned political activist warned that the Irish
government could be taking part in war crimes if it let the
United States use Shannon airport to transport prisoners.

Noam Chomsky told more than 2,000 people at a packed Royal
Dublin Society in Dublin that, if it is found that Central
Intelligence Agency detainees were being brought through
the Co Clare airport as part of Washington’s ‘extraordinary
rendition’, then the Irish government would be taking part
in war crimes.

Professor Chomsky said the use of Shannon by US troops
would leave Ireland open to being involved in such crimes.

“I have to answer this conditionally because I do not know
all the facts. However, if what you say is true, then it is
indeed participation in a supreme international crime” he

More than 4,000 people had applied for tickets for the
event, which was hosted by Amnesty International. Professor
Chomsky said he supported a Dáil investigation into the
alleged use of Shannon airport by the CIA. The veteran
anti-war campaigner urged Irish people to take part in the
worldwide anti-war demonstrations.

“Remember when you are out on the streets, it is not just
the people in the West that you are marching with but you
are marching in support of the majority of Iraqis who are
against it [the occupation of Iraq],” he said.

In a speech, Professor Chomsky argued that the so-called
war on terror had begun in the Reagan White House. He also
pointed to the long-standing links between the United
States and the Saddam Hussein regime.

“Saddam is at last on trial for his crimes. The first trial
now under way is for crimes he committed in 1982. 1982
happens to be an important year in US-Iraq relations. It
was in 1982 that Reagan removed Iraq from the list of
states supporting terror so that aid could flow to his
friend in Baghdad. [Donald] Rumsfeld then visited Baghdad
to confirm the arrangements” he said.

Professor Chomsky argued that the 2003 invasion of Iraq had
increased terror as defined by the United States.

“There is extensive supporting evidence to show that, as
anticipated, the invasion increased the risk of terror and
nuclear proliferation” said the professor. He argued that
the war had helped Osama bin Laden and so the United States
had become ‘bin Laden’s indispensable ally’.


DUP Still Refuse Talks


Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator last night brushed off
criticism from Ian Paisley.

The Democratic Unionist Party leader condemned the language
used by Martin McGuinness in his reaction to the
Independent Monitoring Commission report earlier this week.

Mr McGuinness decried the report as “bullshit of the
highest order”.

Speaking in advance of this weekend’s Ógra Shinn Féin
conference and next week’s political talks, Mr McGuinness
said Sinn Féin would focus on defending the Good Friday
Agreement and press ahead with the restoration of the
political institutions.

He also criticised the current approach of the SDLP, which
he accused of “entertaining proposals” outside the terms of
the Agreement.

“Our agenda for Monday’s talks is clear. We will be seeking
to defend the Good Friday Agreement and we will be seeking
to hold the two governments to their stated objective of
seeing a speedy restoration of the political institutions.

“Sinn Féin are not interested in halfway houses or
institutions without full powers. That is the agenda of
those who wish to slow down and stall the process of
change,” said Mr McGuinness.

Yesterday Mr Paisley again ruled out sharing power with
Sinn Féin.

Mr Paisley said he could not foresee sitting around a
cabinet table at Stormont with Mr McGuinness after the Sinn
Féin MP’s claim that the latest allegations against the IRA
were “bullshit”.

“I don’t see that because what McGuinness said on Wednesday
was absolutely atrocious,” he said.

“His language was atrocious. It shows how bitter the man
is, even if you looked at the face of the man.

“And then for him to accuse the DUP of organising the
Independent Monitoring Commission. I am supposed to be the
paymaster of all these organisations…” Mr Paisley laughed.

“I think he showed that they [the commissioners] have put
their hand on a very delicate spot.

“If my information is correct, then I don’t think things
are too happy within IRA/Sinn Féin. Under all the unity,
there is a deepening crisis,” Mr Paisley said.

Mr McGuinness told Daily Ireland last night: “If Ian
Paisley has my use of language at the top of his agenda,
then he obviously has little to worry about.”

Mr Paisley also ruled out being the North’s First Minister
unless there were significant changes to the system of
devolved government.

The North Antrim MP said: “I could not be First Minister
under the Agreement. It would have to be a proper
democratic system.

“We must have a foundation that cannot crumble and we must
have an opportunity to build something that holds.

“If there is an act of treachery then, under the Belfast
Agreement, the government falls.

“But we should have a government that stays like a rock —
the waves may come and go but it’s still there,” he said.

“I think we have to get back to proper democracy — a
voluntary coalition or even a type of government that might
be balanced more on a committee system as long as it is
democratic and as long as the elected representatives of
the highest strata have the final say.”

The IMC report suggested that IRA members had held onto
weapons, including handguns. Sinn Féin rubbished the

The DUP annual conference gets under way today.


Conference 2006 - Paisley's Speech

DUP Leader Rt Hon Dr Ian R K Paisley MP MLA today made the
following speech at the Party Conference, held at the
Ramada Hotel, Belfast. Dr Paisley said:

"This is the 35th Anniversary of the birth of the Ulster
Democratic Unionist Party. As I look back over those
stormy 35 years, I am reminded of some lines of
Shakespeare, and I would make them my own. They briefly
set out my sentiments.

‘Let come what will, I mean to bear it out,
And either live with glorious victory
Or die with fame, renown’d in chivalry.
He is not worthy of the honeycomb
That shuns the hive because the bees have stings.’

During the past 35 years we have certainly learned that the
bees have stings. We have been stung on many occasions by
journalistic bees, by broadcasting bees, by political bees,
by ecclesiastical bees, by government bees and swarms of
others, yet we have survived to enjoy the honey. The
stings have turned to sweetness, the pain to pleasure, and
adversity to victory.

I can say for myself and for my Party, we have not shunned
the hive because these bees have stings. Guided by my
memory, let me take you to what was the once premier hotel
in Belfast, The Grand Central Hotel, Royal Avenue. It was
the last night of the Hotel’s long history. It closed down
that night for ever. Things in our Province had taken a
terrible turn into the dark pit of bloodthirsty republican

In an upstairs room the United Unionist Alliance was having
a meeting, and the leaders of the three Unionist Parties –
the Official Unionist, the Vanguard Unionist, and the
Protestant Unionist, and members of the loyal Orders were
present. Mr Desmond Boal, QC MP, presided. Mr Bill
Craig, Mr Harry West and I represented our Parties.

The business on the table was whether or not there should
be a new Unionist Party. At the end of the meeting there
was an overwhelming majority that such a Party should be
launched. Only the Protestant Unionists and some members
of the Loyal Orders carried out their pledge; the others

That night the IRA blew up a Public House on the Shankill
Road and committed more murders. Outside, amidst the
wreckage, I announced the decision that was taken earlier
that night. The Democratic Unionist Party was born in
conflict, and unlike others, will never surrender to
Ulster’s enemies. When I say that, I say what we mean and
we mean what we say. There can be no compromise, because
compromise on the vital issue of democracy is surrender.
Surrender Never to the IRA/Sinn Fein murderers!

We say to our Government, ‘Away with double-talk and
falsehood. Act upon your promises of refusing a place in
any government to terrorist criminals. You cannot deceive
the unionist people any longer. In your programme you will
read the highlights of our steady progress towards our
present position of being the largest political party in
Northern Ireland. But let us leap over the years and come
to this day and the situation now. If ever the eternal
truth was vindicated, it was vindicated in the past few
hours. ‘The hidden things of darkness were brought to
light.’ Evil cannot be covered.

Falsehood will be uncovered. Government spinning cannot
destroy the truth. Downing Street drugs cannot kill;
Northern Ireland Office inoculations cannot succeed. The
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth can
immunise lovers of truth from the big lie.

When I look back over the last month I see the mighty host
of forces intent on pushing down the throats of the Ulster
people the blatant lie that the IRA has decommissioned all
its weapons. That falsehood was so blatant even Lord Haw-
Haw would have blushed to utter it. How could those white-
washing the IRA murderers be so arrogant! Who could tell
how many weapons the IRA had in the first place, when no
inventory was revealed or made? If all were decommissioned
why did the IRA fear total transparency?

The rage of Maginnes and Adams shows that the DUP hit the
bull’s eye, and the bells rang. But it seems that Maginnes
is interested at the moment in another part of the bull!
Ah, M and A, Murderous and Aphanite, you are both caught on
and caught out.

The publication of the IMC and the IICD reports have
illuminated the activities and evil deeds of the IRA and
the so-called loyalist groups. Isn’t it interesting that
the very bodies set up by the Government have highlighted
that Government’s spin and lying.

The Government has been telling us that the ongoing IRA
reign of terror is being carried out without the knowledge
of Sinn Fein/IRA leadership. The IMC report states
clearly that these activities are ‘authorised by the
leadership’ and ‘involves some very senior members.’ This
report also states that serious organised crime involves
members and former member of the PIRA, and that senior
members are involved in money laundering and other crime.
This terrorism and criminality goes right to the very top!

The IRA continues its intelligence gathering and directing
its spying at furthering its political strategy, yet they
expect us to believe that they are committed to democratic
means alone. Their continuing targeting of ‘public and
other institutions’ should surely be a warning to the
Government that the reinstating of Sinn Fein allowances is
nothing short of pure folly.

The comment of IICD is very revealing. No wonder the Prime
Minister did not want to listen to me reading it in the
House of Commons on Wednesday last. It is now clear that
the Commission was misinformed and made a misjudgment. The
statement makes it clear that they were prepared to accept
the report of the Police in the South and their
intelligence from IRA sources, and the reports from the
Police in Northern Ireland were not even asked for!

If we are to make political progress the Government must
face reality. We want to enjoy lasting stability and
prosperity in Northern Ireland. It is IRA/Sinn Fein who
are blocking the path to peace because they refuse to
commit to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

I am a devolutionist. My Party has always been a strong
advocate of devolution. Ulstermen and women making
decisions for Ulster people, is the best way forward.

Our proposals paper sets out a number of alternative ways
to move forward. It outlines a system which shows the way
to stable and efficient government. I have said on
numerous occasions that I will talk to and listen to other
democratic parties in any talks process. Both the British
and Irish governments must also play their part by
delivering fairness and equality to Unionists. Both
governments must accept that Unionists will not be forced
back into the failed structures of the Belfast Agreement.
Bertie Ahern, your writ does not run here in loyal Ulster.

We want accountable structures, and friendly, not
threatening, relations with our neighbour. The Irish
Government must stop insisting that Sinn Fein is fit for
government here but not acceptable in Dublin. The message
to Dublin must be if the IRA is not acceptable to you they
cannot be forced on us. The message must be crystal clear.
The IRA must be packed off for good.

The President of the Irish Republic who refuses to enter a
police station in Northern Ireland should respect the
police of Northern Ireland. She should only enter Northern
Ireland under the same terms as every other visiting head
of state and she should cease attacking Northern Ireland.
To those who say we will not work with our Roman Catholic
fellow-countrymen, let me say that we will work with all
democrats, regardless of where they come from, but we will
have no truck with those who pursue terror and criminality.

There are challenges to be faced in the coming days. We
will not shrink from our duties and responsibilities and
look forward with renewed confidence to a better day when
we will see real peace and democracy restored to our
beloved Province.

Down through the years I have always endeavoured to be
honest and straightforward with the Ulster people. I do
not need to emphasise that they can all rest assured that I
will be speaking on their behalf in the forthcoming talks.
I will be firm but fair.

This is the last chance to get things right. Whatever time

takes we must take it. IRA/Sinn Fein has taken years.
Unionists must take time to deal with such a far-reaching


We must go forward in faith. Faith in Almighty God.
Ulster’s battle-hymn is:

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come;
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal Home.

Only such faith, grounded on the Word of God and faith in
Jesus Christ the Son of God, the only Saviour of men, will
enable us to pull through. All other ground is sinking
sand. We will not and cannot and must not foreswear the
faith of our fathers. God’s unshakeable and unbreakable
promise is ‘Those that honour Me I will honour.’

Our belief is the source of our behaviour. We apologise to
no one for the public declaration of our faith.


We must go forward in strength. That strength must be
imparted. We are weaklings in and of ourselves.
Dependence on the power of God outside of ourselves is the
only strength. This comes by prayer. Remember the way our
nation prayed and the Dunkirk miracle took place.

In the Battle of Britain our nation prayed and we were
miraculously delivered from the threatened invasion. In
the battle of Europe our nation prayed and the miracle of
the Normandy landings took place.


We must go forward in determination. We have a task to
accomplish and we must accomplish it. This is not the time
for inactivity. This is the time for action. This is a
time for sacrifice. This is the time to break sweat. This
is the time to determine we will finish the job. This is
not the time to engage in answering the low jibes cast at
us by those who have betrayed unionism. Leave them to sink
in the bog of their own creation. Our founding father,
Lord Carson of Duncairn, in the toughest days of Home Rule
Resistance, said:

‘I know the responsibility you are putting upon me today.
Grave as it is, I cheerfully accept it.’

Then, with gathering emphasis, every word reverberating in
the hearts of his hearers, slowly and solemnly he

‘I now enter into a compact with you, and every one of you,
and with the help of God you and I joined together, I
giving you the best I can, and you giving me all your
strength behind me, we will yet defeat the most nefarious
conspiracy that has ever been hatched against a free

‘You realise the gravity of the situation that is before
us…You are here in this fight to the finish.

‘We ask for nothing more; we will take nothing less. It is
our inalienable right as citizens of the United Kingdom,
and heaven help the men who try to take it from us.’

Our fathers resisted this plan of the betrayal of Ulster
before, and they won. We too can win the battle for our
heritage. Since our last conference in this venue our Party
has continued to provide the strong and decisive leadership
that is expected from Ulster’s largest political party.
Our representation in local government, by our Assembly
team, in Westminster and in Europe, is unmatched. We can
truthfully say to our electorate that we are going forward
in strength.

Through the darkest days of our Province’s recent history
we maintained our principles and integrity in the face of
all the attacks mounted against us. We will not deviate
from our adherence to traditional unionist principles, and
will continue to build upon this rock.

We say to all our enemies, You cannot buy us. You cannot
bribe us. You cannot break us. You cannot beat us. All
around the world today the United States and the United
Kingdom are busy spreading the message of democratic
values. I support them in their endeavours; indeed I
welcome it. But I say to Mr Blair and Mr Bush that
Northern Ireland will not settle for second best. We will
not accept terrorists in our government. Those engaged in
terror and organised crime are terrorists and must be
treated accordingly. I say, as we have joined you in your
battle, if you are honest you must join us in our battle.
You cannot be anti-terrorist in the whole world with the
exception of Northern Ireland. There will be no inclusive
Executive with Sinn Fein as long as the IRA is in business
and engaged in criminality. The day for the inclusive
Executive on such a basis is over for ever. It is buried
in a Sadducee’s grave from which there is no resurrection.
The foundation of the Agreement stinks in the grave, dug
with the spade of truth.

I count it a privilege to be the leader of unionism. I
thank the Ulster people for their continued support and
loyalty, and I pledge myself to continue to work
unceasingly on their behalf.

The DUP has never been stronger. In the coming days, with
God’s help we can grow even stronger and even more
determined to restore to our land the peace and prosperity
which has been filched from us.

We can help to make this Ulster’s finest hour, and may God
defend the right.

God bless you all."


Conference 2006 – Robinson’s Speech

Speaking to the DUP Conference, DUP Deputy Leader and East
Belfast MP Peter Robinson said:

“Our conference today comes at a point when we can reflect
with some pride on our successes of the last few years, but
also at a time when we are preparing for the challenges and
opportunities which lie ahead.

After 100 years of Ulster Unionist domination, which in
recent years were characterized by complacency in their
constituency representation, contempt for the electorate,
and catastrophic errors of judgment, the DUP now commands
the political battlefield for unionism virtually unopposed.

With nine Members of Parliament and 182 councillors
elected, I think that it is fair to say that 2005 was a
good year for the DUP. When we add to that our successes
in the 2003 Assembly elections and Jim Allister’s
outstanding result in the European Election no one can now
deny that the DUP is the undisputed voice of unionism.

The danger to the success of this party in the future will
not come from the Ulster Unionist Party. The danger we
must guard against - and be ever vigilant in doing so - is
any tendency towards complacency or any departure from
those traditional unionist principles of upholding the
Union, defending democracy and preserving liberty which are
and have been our trademark.

The UUP, a once great force in Northern Ireland politics,
is reduced to one seat at Westminster and increasing
irrelevance to political decision-making here because they
lost the plot.

Now that we are in a position of strength we must remain
faithful to the carefully charted course we have taken over
the last decade. We will certainly not be leaping into
Government with Sinn Fein nor will we be walking away from
the strategy we have carefully devised and for which we
have been mandated. We must do nothing that undermines
the progress that we, as a party have made in recent years.

Never again do we want to return to the days when the UUP
took the decisions on behalf of the unionist people of
Northern Ireland. Let us never forget what it was like
when we as a party were forced to sit on the sidelines as
our future was being determined, and look on as others
squandered the unionist position.

Back in May 1998, the DUP was told it was not relevant; we
were sidelined, dismissed, our political obituaries were
written; we were told we were finished as a political party
and told we would be consigned to the history books. The
UUP, on the other hand, was confident its domination of
local politics was assured for another hundred years. How
times have changed.

Again, not as an annual ritual, nor as a sycophantic
Deputy, I pay tribute to the man who has led us throughout
these years – yes, in those lean and hard times as well as
our present elevated position.

During the last forty years Ian has been vilified more than
any other politician. The establishment has castigated him,
the media has assailed him, but the voters have never
rejected him.

I’m sure Conference would want to join me in congratulating
Ian on his elevation to the Privy Council. This
recognition is long overdue and a sign that although the
establishment may not always like what Ian has to say, it
can no longer deny that he speaks for the overwhelming
majority of the unionist tradition in Northern Ireland.

But the journey is not over; there are greater heights to
be reached and much to do before the union is safe and our
province secure.

The transformation of the party’s electoral fortunes should
stand as a tribute to our collective efforts over the last
number of years but also as a warning that in politics
there are few certainties. Circumstances are always

Let us take a moment to reflect on just how much things
have changed.

The rise of the DUP has not been achieved overnight. Hard
work, sound judgment and a relentless drive to succeed have
been the hallmarks of our success. At every level within
the party, whatever our individual responsibility, we have
striven to be the best at what we do.

At constituency level in caring and working for those we
represent – at representative level speaking and
negotiating for those who placed their trust in us we have
shown absolute commitment.

Our election campaigns have demonstrated professionalism
unsurpassed in the Province. We have an election machine
which others watch and envy. You are that machine - and as
the Party’s Director of Elections I want to express my
gratitude to you all for your exertions and loyalty. Can I
take this opportunity to especially thank the candidates
and election agents in our most recent elections.

I also know you would want me to thank our staff. We are
extremely fortunate to have a most able and dedicated
workforce. When I read the recently published book which
recorded the shambles of the UUP campaign I thanked the
Lord for Allan, Tim and Richard – our three Directors and
all those in their departments.

Well done, all of you. Your labour has made a significant
difference and though in the rush and hustle of political
life we seldom take time to express our appreciation to
those who advise and serve us – we do it now with genuine

After the 1997 Westminster election we had just two MPs to
the Ulster Unionists’ ten and ninety-one councillors
compared to their 185. Today the situation is reversed.

There have been a few defining electoral moments in the
last decade. One of the key moments over recent years was
William McCrea’s victory in the South Antrim by-election of
2000. That election showed that we could win in
constituencies which had been regarded as Ulster Unionist
heartlands. Today there is no Ulster Unionist heartland.

We are all delighted to see Willie back at Westminster.
His recapturing of South Antrim from David Burnside was
tribute to his resilience and commitment to the cause. We
should take nothing for granted, William, but this time
round, given the level of dedication and work you put in
for your constituents, not even the Boundary Commission
will be able to take the seat from you.

If you wanted to demonstrate the extent of DUP
representation, and could afford the petrol, it is now
possible to drive the whole way from Portaferry to Limavady
without ever straying outside a constituency with a DUP MP.
The Ulster Unionist Party can manage a journey from Bangor
to Holywood – even then Peter Weir is sitting on their

Of course, in reality, North Down is not a UUP seat. The
DUP got a 50% greater vote than the UUP in the council
election on the same day in this area. Sylvia’s vote is
more of a coalition vote. She represents a mottled uncivil
partnership of the Woman’s coalition, Alliance, the Greens
along with soft and malleable unionists. When that league
breaks up the seat is poised for DUP possession.

We have consolidated our dominant position province-wide.
In the Assembly elections of 2003, the European election of
2004 and the Westminster and Local Government elections of
2005 we topped the poll and fixed ourselves as the largest
political party in Northern Ireland.

We haven’t had a conference since Jim’s victory at the
European election of 2004 when Jim achieved what was, at
that time, the highest ever percentage share of the
unionist vote for the DUP. Since then Jim has done an
exceptional job for Northern Ireland in Europe and he has,
with his meticulous eye for detail and his prodigious work-
rate established himself as an indispensable part of our

Last May the scale of our victory was enormous. It was not
just the number of candidates we succeeded in getting
elected, but the margins of the victory which were

Two General Elections ago in East Antrim the UUP had twice
as many votes as the DUP. In his first race in the
constituency in 2001, Sammy slashed that to just 128 votes.
Today the DUP has a majority of over seven thousand with
Sammy polling almost 50% of the total vote.

In East Londonderry Gregory turned a narrow majority of
under two thousand into a safe DUP seat with a majority of
7,727 and 43% of the total poll.

Not even the mighty Basil McCrea could stand in the way of
Jeffrey in Lagan Valley. It is not Jeffrey’s first
election victory in the constituency, but it is the first
for the DUP which makes it his first proper one, and
particularly special.

It is a remarkable tribute to Jeffrey, and the party, that
it is now difficult to think that he was ever a member of
the Ulster Unionist Party. He has fitted in so well, and
the Party is benefiting from the talents that he brings.

Nigel more than consolidated his position in North Belfast
by increasing his share of the vote against Gerry Kelly.
Nigel’s industry in the constituency and at Westminster
will ensure North Belfast stays as British as Finchley.

As for the old hands, Ian and I each improved our share of
the vote. I think North Antrim and East Belfast have
proved their loyalty to the DUP over the years but it is
good to see that even after all these years the percentages
are still improving.

I can tell you the House of Commons is a very different
place today from what it was just a few years ago. For
most of the party’s history there were just two, or if we
were fortunate, three DUP MPs dominated by a much larger
UUP group. Today there are nine of us and only one of

There certainly could be only one Sylvia. On the day of the
count she claimed the one seat the UUP won was a wonderful
victory for them. I wonder what a defeat would have looked
like. The UUP are now the same size in the House of Commons
as George Galloway’s Respect Party. That’s the extent of
their influence.

It is interesting that the Northern Ireland public seem to
have developed their own Big Brother style system of voting
for the House of Commons. Every time there is a General
Election, they evict four of five Ulster Unionists.

After George Galloway’s participation, maybe an Ulster
Unionist will be in the next Big Brother house! Given the
range of characters that seem to participate in that
programme, Reg might fit in quite well. Nonetheless, I
really hope we don’t see him in a pink leotard supping milk
from someone’s hand. Though, when I think of it, he has
had a lot of practice eating out of Gerry’s hand for years

But let’s put that picture out of our minds and think of
something more wholesome. Little did I think during the
1980s that one day Iris would not only be a Member of
Parliament but would create the safest DUP seat in the

I know I may be a tad biased, but I think that her
achievement has been truly remarkable. In the last ten
years Strangford has been transformed from the preserve of
our dear old friend John Taylor to a constituency with the
highest DUP percentage vote anywhere in Northern Ireland.

I thought gaining almost 50% of the vote in East Belfast
was pretty good until I learnt that Iris had won 56.5%.
However, the likely boundary commission changes moving
Dundonald back to its natural home in East Belfast should
narrow that gap.

All joking aside I know just how much work and effort Iris
puts in to her constituency and the result was a reflection
of that.

Each of us feels especially proud of the party’s
achievements in our own constituencies but it was perhaps
David Simpson’s election victory in Upper Bann which was
the sweetest result of all. Just 9 years ago David Trimble
had a majority over the DUP of more than fifteen thousand
votes. Today Our David holds the seat by over 5,000 votes.

In the end this contest, which was the subject of so much
media attention and speculation, turned out not to be even
close. If David Trimble gets back to Westminster it will
not be on the basis of votes from people in Northern

Whatever history may say about David Trimble will be a
matter for another day but the unionist people of Northern
Ireland have had their say. He led the Ulster Unionist
party from electoral domination to near electoral oblivion
and he led unionism and Northern Ireland to having
unrepentant terrorists in Government. His resignation as
leader of the UUP came years too late to make any
difference to their electoral fortunes. The damage of the
policies he pursued had been done.

The Ulster Unionist Council, that august body which could
command the world’s attention with its seemingly monthly
exhibitions of internecine warfare, was given the task of
choosing David Trimble’s replacement.

From a field which makes the Liberal Democrats’ choice of
leadership candidates look really impressive, and
demonstrating its usual impeccable judgement, the UUC
wanting to put the disastrous Trimble years behind them
selected, yes, the chief architect of Trimble’s surrender
programme of the last ten years, Reg Empey. As someone
rather cruelly said afterwards, it was like re-electing
Trimble only without the ability, charisma or hair.

Though last May we had our best performance at any election
– ever - nine seats at Westminster does not mark the height
of our electoral ambition. There is unfinished business to
be completed.

At the last election pig-headed Ulster Unionists
deliberately and selfishly denied unionism two more seats
at Westminster. While David Trimble sought to negotiate to
try in vain to save his own seat, the DUP wanted a deal
which would give the unionist electorate a choice in the
areas where nationalists clearly could not win, but ensure
unionist representation where there was a significant

I publicly offered them a choice of either South Belfast or
Fermanagh and South Tyrone in return for stepping aside in
the other. I accurately predicted that the DUP was the
stronger unionist party in both constituencies but in the
wider interests of unionism we were prepared to share the
seats rather than lose them both. It was a very generous
offer but they turned it down and handed both seats to

Indeed in South Belfast they were even reduced to telling
calculated lies to assist the SDLP to win the seat.

On the 5th of May the electorate made it clear which
unionist party spoke for the majority of unionists in both
those seats.

Let me make it clear, next time round we will fight both
constituencies and win both constituencies. The unionists
in South Belfast and in Fermanagh and South Tyrone know
that only one unionist party can win those seats and they
know which unionist party that is.

I believe we will win South Belfast whether or not there is
an Ulster Unionist spoiler in the race. Jimmy Spratt
fought a remarkable campaign from a standing start entering
the campaign only a few weeks out from the election. By the
next General Election, with four our five years’ work put
in on the ground, there will be no doubt about the result.

In Fermanagh and South Tyrone, although the seat was not
won, Arlene put in one of our best performances of the
election. The reluctant UUP candidate suffered a
humiliating defeat and surely no Ulster Unionist who would
stand in Arlene’s way next time would ever be forgiven in
Fermanagh and South Tyrone or across Northern Ireland.
Take my word for it – the DUP can win this seat for

At council level our results were equally spectacular,
exceeding our wildest expectations. In 23 of the 26
council areas the DUP is the leading unionist party.

We have many new, young and capable councillors, of which
other parties could only dream. We also have a good
representation of females in local government. But we
must yet do more to improve the balance.

It is not easy to single people out, but I feel I have to
mention my own long time election agent, constituency
chairman and friend, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Wallace
Browne. I am sure everyone will agree he has done an
exceptional job this year. For a man who is always
reluctant to push himself forward, Wallace’s performance at
City Hall makes it look as though he was born for the job.
I hope we will soon be able to use him in another role.

Our domination in the House of Commons is undisputed. Not
just the largest party from Northern Ireland but the fourth
largest party in the whole of the United Kingdom. In fact
if the Liberal Democrats continue the way they are going at
the moment we could be the third party after the next
election. With the margin between the Tories and Labour as
tight as it is the DUP might have a very significant role
after the next election.

With our position in the House of Commons confirmed,
hopefully it will not be too long before our success is
also reflected in the House of Lords. We look forward to
that development.

Since the election I have watched the UUP in desperation
and despair flaying aimlessly at every shadow in the hope
of directing a blow that might land upon us. It mattered
little how hollow the claim, or how baseless the charge, if
it could be uttered, they judged it might be believed by

How often have you heard them claim that Sinn Fein had
benefited from concessions for which the DUP was culpable?
There is no concession - no not one - which can be hung
around our neck. Every concession that republicans have
enjoyed has had its roots firmly planted in the era of the
UUP and was watered and tended by them.

The UUP have not had a monopoly on difficulties over the
past twelve months, Sinn Fein has had its fair share of

Probably the biggest surprise was the revelation that the
Sinn Fein Director of Administration was a British Agent.
Denis Donaldson a British agent? Denis Donaldson was Sinn
Fein’s Allan Ewart – and there the comparison ends.

Though Allan has reported that people are clutching their
files more tightly when he comes along!

Someone told me that MI5 had recruited a person to
infiltrate the UUP. They needed somebody who would not
talk and would not seek the limelight – no, it wasn’t Jim
Rodgers. It appears they resigned after a week. They
said it was impossible to gather anything close to
intelligence in the UUP.

It just shows you that the unexpected – the unbelievable
can happen in Ulster politics. What shocks might we be
confronted with next. Mark Durkan might give a short
answer to a question! We might see Michael McGimpsey
smile! Lord Laird might go to Dublin on public transport
and even pay his own fare! You think not?

Of course, what is worse for Sinn Fein is the knowledge
that there are a number of other informers within their
ranks. Can you imagine what Sinn Fein meetings are like
now? There was even a report the other day that some of
their members are so nervous about informers that they have
reverted to wearing their balaclavas to party meetings.
Old habits die hard.

However, Gerry Adams is not the first party leader to have
difficulties with someone called Donaldson.

Mr Chairman, at every level we have the right team to lead
unionism. Winning elections is vital in order to put us in
the position to make a difference. Without electoral
success the government can marginalize and ignore us. In
the past we did not have the required mandate to force the
Government to listen to us. Today, it is different.

But winning elections is not enough. It is what we do
between elections which really makes the difference. And
what we do between elections is determined by what we say
at election time. Our manifesto is our contract with the
electorate. That has always been the case in the past and
it will not change now.

What has been absolutely clear is that the stance we have
taken has been vindicated and is working. It has brought
about a situation in which it is clear to republicans that
half measures will no longer suffice. Only completion will

The IMC report demonstrates that there is still a very long
way to go before republicans are democratised. Democracy
can not tolerate a situation where criminality is
institutionalized at the heart of the state and that is
exactly what would happen if we were to permit an
organisation like Sinn Fein, which is still seamlessly
linked to paramilitary and criminal activity, into
government. It will not happen.

But, in truth, I do not need to argue the case that Sinn
Fein has not passed the entry test. Bertie Ahern has
pronounced upon their fitness for government. He says he
would not countenance having them in government in the
Republic. You can be certain that neither Tony Blair nor
George Bush would consider sharing power with the Provos
for a second. Let me give them a clear message. “Don’t
ask us to do something you wouldn’t do yourselves.”

The interests of the people of Northern Ireland are not
going to be dictated by short term considerations of either
the election cycle in the Republic of Ireland or the Prime
Minister’s departure date from Downing Street. It is not
the DUP that is holding the process up but the inability of
republicans to give up their multi-million pound criminal

It was eleven years from their first ceasefire before the
IRA carried out any significant decommissioning. Yet still
their fingers cannot be prised from the remainder of their
weapons. Without there being even a single IMC report
suggesting the IRA has given up its illegal activities it
is quite simply preposterous and outrageous to expect
unionists to move.

The government should be ashamed of itself. Instead of
heaping pressure on republicans to make good their promises
Peter Hain has been acting as chief apologist and spin
doctor for the IRA. He has attempted to dilute the
exposure of their wrongdoing and spin the areas where the
IMC reported any positive change.

It is time for the Government to face reality. It is time
for them to acknowledge that there can be no acceptable
level of criminal activity from those who aspire to be in
Government. Rather than pressurising unionists to turn a
blind eye or seeking to mask and deny what is happening, it
is the responsibility of the Government to eradicate the
criminal activity or make it clear to Sinn Fein that
political progress will be made without them.

We have made it clear to the Government that, rather than
waiting an indefinite and prolonged period for republicans
to transform, progress can and must be made in another

We have set out our plans in ‘Facing Reality’ and believe
that this is a basis for making progress. Recent events
show the process we have outlined is now the only way
forward. The trust necessary to establish executive
devolution simply does not exist, so rather than pretend
that it does, or wait for it to magically materialize
Government should focus on what is achievable and
attainable today.

The government talks of Sinn Fein in terms that ignore its
past and distorts its present. Why does trust not exist?
It is because we remember the mass murders and vile acts
these republicans carried out. It is because we know of
the victims they left and the pain they caused. It is
because they seek to glorify their evil and do not repent
of it. It is because they have not turned from their
illegal activity and still plan and wallow in it.

We have not forgotten that while they negotiated an end to
criminality in December a year ago those same leaders were
sitting in the Army Council of the IRA planning the finer
details of the biggest bank robbery in the history of the
British Isles.

Why does trust not exist? It is because we know them and
how they have behaved in the past. It is said that they
have left terrorism behind and intend to close their
criminal empire down. Talk is cheap and seeing is
believing! We will not take it on trust and we will not
settle for an acceptable level of criminality.

That is why we have suggested a phased approach which would
allow Stormont to get up and running in a meaningful way
while the issue of IRA criminal activity is dealt with once
and for all and completely.

If republicans genuinely want to end criminality, and the
Government genuinely wants to ensure that they do, then the
system we advocate will hold no fears for anyone. Those who
dismiss our proposals will, as a consequence, be revealing
their reluctance, or a less than complete commitment, to
ensuring the end of paramilitary criminality. That is a
position we could never share.

The very notion that we should ignore criminal activity on
a massive scale is an affront to democracy. Devolution
remains the clear policy objective of this party, endorsed
as it has been by our voters - both long-standing and
recent converts - time and again at elections. But it is
not devolution at any price. We have repeatedly made it
clear what is required.

Trust either exists or it does not. It cannot be
manufactured. The lesson of past failures should be
learnt. When constructing a democratic structure if the
foundation is not morally sound its walls cannot be built
thick enough or its roof high enough to save it from

While no one here is in any doubt that Sinn Fein is not fit
for government, neither should anyone imagine that the
present arrangements for Government in Northern Ireland are
in the best interests of people living here.

Just as this party has faced reality and offered a process
taking account of that reality other parties must come to
terms with reality as well. For instance there are those
who still con themselves and seek to sucker others into
believing the fantasy that the Belfast Agreement can be

The unionist community have democratically rejected that
deal. That deal was based on the absolute requirement for
cross-community support. That support does not exist. Yet
Mark Durkan and Martin McGuinness continue to insist that
any future structure will be based on it. What is it
about the word “Agreement” that they don’t understand?
Read my lips – The Belfast Agreement is dead.

We will not be giving life – even for six weeks – to such a
rejected and undemocratic process. The future does not lie
in breathing life into the failures of the past. There is
no future in the past. Sometimes the past can inspire and
most times it can teach us valuable lessons. There is much
in our own past we can take pride in and much we can
celebrate but we cannot live in the past.

The UUP sought to live off the glories of our traditional
unionist forefathers while walking a road those honoured
men would never have trod. We will present our people with
a programme which faces today’s perils and which meets
today’s needs while at the same time it keeps faith with
traditional unionist principles.

Of course other parties have made suggestions about how to
move forward as well. The UUP have published proposals.
Their leader, (I’m using the broadest interpretation of the
word) Reg Empey – a sheep in sheep’s clothing, if every I
saw one – has offered a mixture of constructive and
original ideas. Unfortunately none of the constructive
ideas are original and none of the original ideas are

Let me explain. He suggests legislative devolution as a
way forward. The DUP advanced the idea of legislative
devolution in the early eighties. Our main opponents to
that idea were – yes - the UUP. It is constructive but not
original. Indeed the stepped approach he advocates is a
DUP idea. Again constructive - but not original!

He then mimics the SDLP in suggesting that the Assembly
should be recalled on the basis of the failed Belfast
Agreement and given six weeks to move forward. That is
neither constructive nor original. Only two outcomes are
possible under that strategy - either you put Sinn Fein
into government or the Assembly collapses. Now, I know
which option the SDLP wants so why is Reg parroting SDLP
policy? That whole strategy stinks but don’t expect Reg to
notice he lost his sense of smell long ago.

As for Sinn Fein, they pout and say it is executive
devolution or nothing. Let us be clear if that was the
only choice we still would not sanction tainting an
executive with those still tied to criminality.

The Sinn Fein rhetoric is simply a sally of anger, like the
huffing and puffing of a cranky and spiteful child, who,
when he can’t get all he wants, is resolved to have
nothing. This trait is always more pronounced in children
who are accustomed to getting everything they want but are
then faced with someone who stands up to them.

No one could have predicted the twists and turns in the
political process here in the last ten years and no one can
predict, with any degree of certainty, what the next few
years have in store. But one thing is clear. As a Party
we will keep our word.

We will not accept half measures or engage in word games,
or try to overplay or underplay the significance of events
with those who have placed their trust in us at the ballot

None of us on this platform would countenance giving our
support to any proposal that we could not come back to
conference and stand over. We will not give our backing
to anything that is not good for the people of this

After another phenomenal year, in which our strategy and
our judgement has been vindicated we can feel proud of the
leadership we, as a party, have given. Leadership is not
always about embracing new positions it is often about
standing firm and holding to vital principles. When
conditions are right and when the ground we are to occupy
is solid and safe we will press forward with confidence,
reassured that it is this party that has been charged with
defending and promoting unionist interests.

We will honour our election pledges. We will be true to
the trust which has been reposed in us, and with your
continuing support and hard work, we will gain the prize
that our people desire and so much deserve."


Opin: IMC 'Present' For Big Ian

Alan Murray
05 February 2006

No surprise, then - Ian Paisley rules out power-sharing
with Sinn Fein, not just for the weekend but until well
after his 80th birthday in April.

Truthfully, we wouldn't have expected anything less
following the devastating report from the Independent
Monitoring Commission last Wednesday, which dropped the
bombshell that the IRA still has access to the sort of
things that General de Chastelain said they hadn't kept.

Many have said that only when Ian stands down will the DUP
realistically face up to sharing power with Republicans.
That was before last Wednesday.

Now even when Ian passes - politically and mortally -there
will always be that eighth IMC Report ready to be grasped
from the bookcase and quoted verbatim at the successor who
would dare grab the Shinners by the hand and whisk them
into Stormont.

It's a knockout punch that the power-sharing ideal
enshrined in the Belfast Agreement will take a long time to
recover from.

In boxing parlance, it's now 'seconds out' for a durable
contest between the DUP and the Government, with Ian
morally vindicated and Hain refusing to throw in the towel.

The other Peter - Peter Robinson - yesterday added to the
Secretary of State's woes by warning that, if Sinn Fein
walked onto the Policing Board, the DUP would walk off - a
move with potentially dangerous connotations as we creep
towards the marching season and unfinished business at
Whiterock and Drumcree.

Policing and the transfer, eventually, of powers over the
courts is the latest project that the Government has been
secretly working on behind the scenes with Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein joining the Policing Board, the Northern Ireland
Office mandarins hoped, would be the public signal that the
IRA and the party were supporting the police and that it
was fitting and proper for nationalists to join the PSNI
while 50/50 recruiting was still permissible.

That looked goodish business until last Wednesday, when the
IMC ignited the blue touch-paper with their assessment that
the IRA had retained more than just a bag of handguns for
'personal' protection after last September's
decommissioning exercise.

It's just as well the DUP conference wasn't held last
weekend and the 'Doc' had given a smidgen of political
encouragement to Gerry and Martin - not that that was

But with the 'deviousness' of Sinn Fein and the IRA again
revealed to the DUP in Wednesday's report, there was little
option yesterday beyond the traditional 'they won't be
about the place if we're there' line from Ian, Peter and

No surprises, then, as Paisley approaches the octogenarian
mark in finer health and bolstered by a written text with
Irish and American input that says it supports his
assessment that Sinn Fein 'isn't fit for Government' - yet.

With another IMC report scheduled for April, it probably
means another happy birthday for Ulster's ageing, but
formidable, old man of politics.


Opin: Impasse Won't Be Easily Resolved

Alan Murray
05 February 2006

One key paragraph in the Independent Monitoring
Commission's report has scuppered any prospect of immediate
political progress.

And the IMC's conclusion that not all IRA weapons have been
decommissioned creates a massive impasse that won't be
easily resolved.

Revealing that it has received reports that "not all PIRA's
weapons and ammunition were handed over for decommissioning
in September", the IMC then drops a further bombshell -
stating that what was retained by the organisation goes
beyond a few 'personal' handguns.

It concludes: "First, that there is a range of different
kinds of weapons and ammunition; second, that the material
goes beyond what might possibly have been expected to have
missed decommissioning, such as a limited number of
handguns kept for personal protection."

Experienced security figures say that, while the IMC's
statement has done devastating damage to the Government's
plans to get the political parties talking, it is no
surprise that the IRA has retained a supply of guns.

Said one security source: "Did anyone really think that
PIRA would leave the Short Strand or the New Lodge Road in
Belfast without some defensive cover?

"It's what we would have expected to happen from experience
of the Provos and it's no great surprise.

"It is damaging for the political process, but we're
talking about the IRA which has many foes within and
without the nationalist community."

The dilemma now for the Government is that the DUP is using
the material in the IMC report to vindicate its refusal to
sit down with Adams and McGuinness.

And if the IRA admitted that it had retained weapons for
defensive purposes only, then it would be branded
internationally as a lying distrustful organisation.

Adams ruled that out in the wake of the furore over the
guns issue when he said that there would be no further
decommissioning by the terrorist organisation.

The other alternative - for the IMC to retrace its steps
and retract the entire content of paragraph 3.23 in its
next report - would destroy the credibility of the
commission in everyone's eyes.


Opin: IMC Would Love To Visit Catholic Communities When The
Roads Are Better And Electricity Has Been Installed


Ninth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission.
Presented to the Government of the United Kingdom and the
Government of Ireland under articles 4 and 7 of the
International Agreement establishing the Independent
Monitoring Commission.

(It is our hope that most people reading this will take
that ‘International Agreement’ bit to mean the Good Friday
Agreement, even though we have nothing to do with the Good
Friday Agreement.)

First of all we would like to say a few words in the most
long-winded and pompous style imaginable in order to
suggest to the average reader that we know what day it is.
When in fact we don’t.

Actually we’re four old buffers who don’t know the
difference between Ballymurphy and the Bogside, but it is
our fervent hope that the public will be mightily impressed
by our intellectual effervescence if we churn out a lot of
guff like this. And this.

The governments have requested this additional report on
the activities of the PIRA. Of course, PIRA is a secret
organisation about which we know nothing, so the
governments have very kindly agreed to let us speak to
their people, who do know something about PIRA. We have now
spoken to the governments’ people who have told us what
they know about PIRA and that information we now duly
present to the governments in this report the information
that the governments’ people have told us.

As usual we will begin with a few embarrassingly twee
paragraphs about how far we’ve come along the road to peace
and how things have improved considerably since our last
report, but not considerably enough.

In our last report we were criticised for patronising
Catholics in our reference to places where the ‘culture of
lawfulness’ does not obtain. It was not our intention to
denigrate a particular community, but we would be foolish
to ignore the reality that no one in west Belfast pays
their TV licence and the coal they keep in the bath is in
all likelihood smuggled. The sooner they adopt a culture of
lawfulness the better. We suggest they take a look at leafy
south Belfast where the lawyers and doctors all live and
which has the highest crime rate in the country.

We urge the ordinary decent Catholic people of priest-
ridden bandit districts like Ballylodge and Turf Murphy to
stay in their cottages when there is unrest at the
crossroads and not to vote for anyone with a funny Irish

We have noted a growing willingness to engage with the PSNI
on the part of Catholics as they make their way to the dole
or the snooker hall.

The more they do this, the less paramilitary groups will be
able to exercise the community control to which they have
for long been accustomed.

Granted, not one of us has ever set foot in the communities
to which we are referring, but we hope in the future to be
able to travel to such places when the roads are better and
electricity is installed.

We turn now to PIRA and at the outset we want to welcome
the very significant act of decommissioning that took place
last year witnessed by a minister and a Romish priest.

Clearly this was a momentous event but it is our duty to
state our sincerely held opinion the clerics were telling
lies when they described what they had seen. The evidence
that PIRA are still armed is overwhelming. We were standing
outside Deane’s restaurant waiting for a taxi just after
Christmas when we heard a bloke behind us remark that it
was entirely possible that PIRA had kept some guns,
although he wasn’t clear on the exact amount because, to be
honest, he was absolutely bladdered.

And we have received entirely credible reports (printed
first in the Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and Sunday
Telegraph) that PIRA are still tooled-up and dangerous.

PIRA are still heavily involved in criminality. We
ourselves visited a sweetie shop near the border which has
collection boxes for Irish language schools beside their
tills and which put ads in their windows for Gaelic
sporting events.

We urge the Chief Constable to look into this very serious
matter. A chap in Thiepval barracks called Nigel (green
jumper with patches on the shoulders) told us this shop is
a front for an international money-laundering ring
stretching from Hong Kong to the Cayman Islands and back to

The UDA and UVF continue to murder people for looking
sideways at their members in pubs. Loyalist communities are
awash with drugs. We commend those loyalist paramilitaries
who are trying to steer their groups on to a more peaceful
path (one is now living in Australia, the other one is
expected to be taken off the ventilator later this year).

We note that the situation on the ground in loyalist areas
is much improved since our last report – the number of
murders has dropped by 0.4 per cent, arson attacks are down
and in the past three months there were no deaths
associated with the consumption of class A drugs.

Finally, we turn our attention to community workers who
volunteer to mediate in disputes – clearly the single
biggest danger to society extant today.

Community Restorative Justice is clearly the spawn of the
devil and is tighly controlled by PIRA. We reject utterly
the suggestion that such community workers might be shot
dead by loyalist paramilitaries if we say they’re working
for PIRA.

That is a mischievous suggestion and fails to reflect the
huge strides being made by loyalist paramilitaries in
moving away from violence, as evidenced by the UPRG
statement last month (“Give us a few quid and we’ll think
about easing up a bit.”).


NELSON'S PILLAR: Opin: Cracks Appearing In Fine Gael-Labour


No doubt there will be some who will see President
McAleese’s cogent defence of the 1916 Rising and the
importance of the Proclamation, as little more than the
establishment trying to reclaim the mantle of

The decision by Bertie to reinstate the traditional 1916
parade at the GPO to mark the 90th anniversary of the
Rising is clearly motivated by this objective. However,
this column believes the President has honestly and in good
faith entered into a debate on the legacy of 1916. The
President spoke eloquently of the inclusive social and
political agenda enshrined in the Proclamation. And in a
coherent, well-argued speech she rubbished the detractors
and historical revisionists who write and pontificate about
that period. Her reference to the Somme anniversary also
marks her own efforts to reach out to northern unionists.
Well done, Mary.

A Sticky Situation

All is not well between Enda and Pat’s crews. While Pat has
inexorably moved party policy toward Fine Gael’s
conservatism, some cracks have emerged in the relationship
between the two parties.

At a recent conference here in the capital, former Workers’
Party leader, and erstwhile Democratic Left leader, and now
Labour MEP Proinsias de Rossa spoke out against the EU
Services Directive describing it as “unacceptable”.

His Fine Gael associate in the European Parliament Simon
Coveney took a contrary view saying the directive is in
principle “a very good thing”. The strength of opposition
to the directive, which is being pushed by the Internal
Market Commissioner Charlie McGreevy, can be gauged from
the 1500 amendments which have been proposed for debate
when the Directive hits the Parliament agenda on February

The directive, which will impact right across the island,
includes the ‘country of origin’ principle. This allows
employers based in one country to provide services in
another country, using the employment standards of the

This means companies hunting around and setting up shop in
countries with minimal workers rights and protections and
then applying these standards elsewhere to maximise their
profits. The implications for workers rights and conditions
are enormous.

Integrity And Diktats

Tensions among the FFers as they get on with the business
of selecting candidates for the next election occasionally
boil over into the media. This column has already reported
on a series of disagreements between local constituencies
and party headquarters in Dublin.

The corridors here were buzzing last Monday with jokes
aplenty about the farcical shenanigans that took place at
the most recent FF selection convention. This time it was
the turn of Galway West. So bad did it become when one
delegate grabbed the mic from the Minister of State Tony
Killeen, who was chairing the event, the convention was
declared a ‘non-convention’. It is obvious that party
headquarters is working to an election strategy, based on
previous turnouts and regular private focus polls, to
maximise the outcome for the FFers next time around.

The problem is it doesn’t appear to have dawned on
headquarters to explain to the party faithful what that
plan is. Killeen apparently warned the delegates that their
attitude risked undermining “the integrity of the party”,
while one delegate ranted about “another diktat from
headquarters”. Strong words all round.

By Gum

There is nothing wrong with the US ambassador to Dublin, a
nice man by the name of James Kenny, lobbying the Minister
for the Environment Dick Roche against introducing a tax on
chewing gum. That’s the job of ambassadors everywhere.

The scale of the chewing gum business in Ireland can be
judged from the fact that the manufacturers agreed to cough
up €2 million (£1.35 million) for the state coffers.
According to Mr Roche the money will be used in education
and research work aimed at tackling litter resulting from
chewing gum.

Not bad you might think. But then reflect on the fact that
a tax would have brought in between €4 million (£2.7
million) and €5 million (£3.3 million) a year! That’s over
twice what the manufacturers agreed to pay.

The minister tells us he opted for this because a tax was
unlikely to succeed in reducing litter. How’s that work?
Surely all that extra money at the disposal of the
government would have produced more benefits? The marvels
of the ministerial mind.

Dunne Wrong

Dunnes Stores provide a very good service to Irish
shoppers, but the management is often criticised for their
attitudes to their workforce. The recent sacking of Joanne
Delaney is a telling illustration of why this is so. Joanne
is a shop steward with the trade union Mandate. She was
sacked from her job at Dunnes Stores at the Ashfield Centre
in Crumlin for wearing a union badge on her work uniform.

To add insult to injury the company refused to attend a
meeting with Joanne because she was accompanied by her
trade union official. This column continues to refuse to
shop at Dunnes until this situation is rectified. Readers
are hereby encouraged to give Dunnes a miss from now until
the management reinstates Joanne Delaney.

Inequality - A Disgrace

A survey by the Education Research Centre at St Patrick’s
College shows that there has been no real improvement in
literacy rates in disadvantaged areas since 1999. About ten
per cent of all pupils from these areas are at the lowest
literacy level. In some schools up to 50 per cent of pupils
have serious literacy problems. So much for the government
investing in the future. It’s scandals like this which make
this column angry. What on earth are we paying taxes for?
Is the Celtic Tiger only good for the wealthy?


Mayor Looks To Bring Back Festival

by CiarÁn O’Neill

Efforts are under way to secure the future of a music
festival that attracts up to 40,000 people to a Co Donegal
town each year.

Organisers of the Buncrana Music Festival said this week
they had been forced to cancel this year’s event because of
a number of problems, including rising costs and a
dwindling organising committee.

Local politicians have vowed to do all they can to save the
week-long festival, which provides a huge boost to the
economy of the Inishowen area.

The festival was first staged in 1992 and has since become
one of the most popular annual events in the northwest.

As well as nightly concerts in Buncrana’s main street, the
festival included a wide range of sporting and cultural
events and a final-night fireworks display.

A new children’s park was recently built in the town with
the help of a donation of €100,000 (£68,000) provided from
money raised over the years as a result of the festival.

Paul Brogan, the secretary of the festival organising
committee, yesterday said the organisers regretted having
to cancel this year’s festival, which was to have taken
place in July.

“This is a decision we have not taken lightly but one we
have been considering for two years,” he said.

“Among the problems facing the organisers has been rising
costs, a fall in the level of sponsorship, admission
turnover being down, the excessive workload borne by our
small and voluntary committee.

“A few years ago, we had 12 people on the organising
committee but this has fallen to only six in the last
couple of years and there is far too much work for those of
us involved.

“Organising the festival is basically a nine-month job but
a lot of us have other commitments.”

Mr Brogan said he was disappointed by the lack of support
shown to the festival by local people.

“People talk about how important the festival is to
Buncrana but, when it comes to getting involved in
organising it, they are not so keen,” he said.

“This is one of the main reasons why we have had to cancel
this year’s event.

“At this stage, we cannot say what the future holds for the
festival and we will have to sit down at the beginning of
next year to see if it will be possible to stage it in

Buncrana mayor Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said he was
disappointed at the committee’s decision to cancel this
year’s festival.

He praised the work carried out by the committee during the
past 13 years and admitted it had been a “thankless” task.

“However, I think the festival is too important to the
local region and we are determined to do what we can to
make sure it survives,” said the Sinn Féin councillor.

“We are looking at the possibility of organising a public
meeting to see if any proposals can be put forward.”

While acknowledging the cancellation of this year’s
festival was a blow to Buncrana, Mr Mac Lochlainn said the
town would host a new traditional music festival for the
first time this year.

The Ar Ais Arís festival will take place from March 31 to
April 2. It will include performances from many of
Ireland’s top musicians.


The End Of The Internet?

[posted online on February 1, 2006]

The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are
crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform
the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a
privately run and branded service that would charge a fee
for virtually everything we do online.

Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications
giants are developing strategies that would track and store
information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-
collection and marketing system, the scope of which could
rival the National Security Agency. According to white
papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and
telecommunications industries, those with the deepest
pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major
advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from
these providers would have first priority on our computer
and television screens, while information seen as
undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be
relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.

Under the plans they are considering, all of us--from
content providers to individual users--would pay more to
surf online, stream videos or even send e-mail. Industry
planners are mulling new subscription plans that would
further limit the online experience, establishing
"platinum," "gold" and "silver" levels of Internet access
that would set limits on the number of downloads, media
streams or even e-mail messages that could be sent or

To make this pay-to-play vision a reality, phone and cable
lobbyists are now engaged in a political campaign to
further weaken the nation's communications policy laws.
They want the federal government to permit them to operate
Internet and other digital communications services as
private networks, free of policy safeguards or governmental
oversight. Indeed, both the Congress and the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) are considering proposals
that will have far-reaching impact on the Internet's
future. Ten years after passage of the ill-advised
Telecommunications Act of 1996, telephone and cable
companies are using the same political snake oil to
convince compromised or clueless lawmakers to subvert the
Internet into a turbo-charged digital retail machine.

The telephone industry has been somewhat more candid than
the cable industry about its strategy for the Internet's
future. Senior phone executives have publicly discussed
plans to begin imposing a new scheme for the delivery of
Internet content, especially from major Internet content
companies. As Ed Whitacre, chairman and CEO of AT&T, told
Business Week in November, "Why should they be allowed to
use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense,
because we and the cable companies have made an investment,
and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect
to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!"

The phone industry has marshaled its political allies to
help win the freedom to impose this new broadband business
model. At a recent conference held by the Progress and
Freedom Foundation, a think tank funded by Comcast,
Verizon, AT&T and other media companies, there was much
discussion of a plan for phone companies to impose fees on
a sliding scale, charging content providers different
levels of service. "Price discrimination," noted PFF's
resident media expert Adam Thierer, "drives the market-
based capitalist economy."

Net Neutrality

To ward off the prospect of virtual toll booths on the
information highway, some new media companies and public-
interest groups are calling for new federal policies
requiring "network neutrality" on the Internet. Common
Cause, Amazon, Google, Free Press, Media Access Project and
Consumers Union, among others, have proposed that broadband
providers would be prohibited from discriminating against
all forms of digital content. For example, phone or cable
companies would not be allowed to slow down competing or
undesirable content.

Without proactive intervention, the values and issues that
we care about--civil rights, economic justice, the
environment and fair elections--will be further threatened
by this push for corporate control. Imagine how the next
presidential election would unfold if major political
advertisers could make strategic payments to Comcast so
that ads from Democratic and Republican candidates were
more visible and user-friendly than ads of third-party
candidates with less funds. Consider what would happen if
an online advertisement promoting nuclear power prominently
popped up on a cable broadband page, while a competing
message from an environmental group was relegated to the
margins. It is possible that all forms of civic and
noncommercial online programming would be pushed to the end
of a commercial digital queue.

But such "neutrality" safeguards are inadequate to address
more fundamental changes the Bells and cable monopolies are
seeking in their quest to monetize the Internet. If we
permit the Internet to become a medium designed primarily
to serve the interests of marketing and personal
consumption, rather than global civic-related
communications, we will face the political consequences for
decades to come. Unless we push back, the "brandwashing" of
America will permeate not only our information
infrastructure but global society and culture as well.

Why are the Bells and cable companies aggressively
advancing such plans? With the arrival of the long-awaited
"convergence" of communications, our media system is
undergoing a major transformation. Telephone and cable
giants envision a potential lucrative "triple play," as
they impose near-monopoly control over the residential
broadband services that send video, voice and data
communications flowing into our televisions, home
computers, cell phones and iPods. All of these many
billions of bits will be delivered over the telephone and
cable lines.

Video programming is of foremost interest to both the phone
and cable companies. The telephone industry, like its cable
rival, is now in the TV and media business, offering
customers television channels, on-demand videos and games.
Online advertising is increasingly integrating multimedia
(such as animation and full-motion video) in its pitches.
Since video-driven material requires a great deal of
Internet bandwidth as it travels online, phone and cable
companies want to make sure their television "applications"
receive preferential treatment on the networks they
operate. And their overall influence over the stream of
information coming into your home (or mobile device) gives
them the leverage to determine how the broadband business

Mining Your Data

At the core of the new power held by phone and cable
companies are tools delivering what is known as "deep
packet inspection." With these tools, AT&T and others can
readily know the packets of information you are receiving
online--from e-mail, to websites, to sharing of music,
video and software downloads.

These "deep packet inspection" technologies are partly
designed to make sure that the Internet pipeline doesn't
become so congested it chokes off the delivery of timely
communications. Such products have already been sold to
universities and large businesses that want to more
economically manage their Internet services. They are also
being used to limit some peer-to-peer downloading,
especially for music.

But these tools are also being promoted as ways that
companies, such as Comcast and Bell South, can simply grab
greater control over the Internet. For example, in a series
of recent white papers, Internet technology giant Cisco
urges these companies to "meter individual subscriber usage
by application," as individuals' online travels are
"tracked" and "integrated with billing systems." Such
tracking and billing is made possible because they will
know "the identity and profile of the individual
subscriber," "what the subscriber is doing" and "where the
subscriber resides."

Will Google, Amazon and the other companies successfully
fight the plans of the Bells and cable companies?
Ultimately, they are likely to cut a deal because they,
too, are interested in monetizing our online activities.
After all, as Cisco notes, content companies and network
providers will need to "cooperate with each other to
leverage their value proposition." They will be drawn by
the ability of cable and phone companies to track "content subscriber," and where their online services can
be "protected from piracy, metered, and appropriately

Our Digital Destiny

It was former FCC chairman Michael Powell, with the support
of then-commissioner and current chair Kevin Martin, who
permitted phone and cable giants to have greater control
over broadband. Powell and his GOP majority eliminated
longstanding regulatory safeguards requiring phone
companies to operate as nondiscriminatory networks
(technically known as "common carriers"). He refused to
require that cable companies, when providing Internet
access, also operate in a similar nondiscriminatory manner.
As Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig has
long noted, it is government regulation of the phone lines
that helped make the Internet today's vibrant, diverse and
democratic medium.

But now, the phone companies are lobbying Washington to
kill off what's left of "common carrier" policy. They wish
to operate their Internet services as fully "private"
networks. Phone and cable companies claim that the
government shouldn't play a role in broadband regulation:
Instead of the free and open network that offers equal
access to all, they want to reduce the Internet to a series
of business decisions between consumers and providers.

Besides their business interests, telephone and cable
companies also have a larger political agenda. Both
industries oppose giving local communities the right to
create their own local Internet wireless or wi-fi networks.
They also want to eliminate the last vestige of local
oversight from electronic media--the ability of city or
county government, for example, to require
telecommunications companies to serve the public interest
with, for example, public-access TV channels. The Bells
also want to further reduce the ability of the FCC to
oversee communications policy. They hope that both the FCC
and Congress--via a new Communications Act--will back these

The future of the online media in the United States will
ultimately depend on whether the Bells and cable companies
are allowed to determine the country's "digital destiny."
So before there are any policy decisions, a national debate
should begin about how the Internet should serve the
public. We must insure that phone and cable companies
operate their Internet services in the public interest--as
stewards for a vital medium for free expression.

If Americans are to succeed in designing an equitable
digital destiny for themselves, they must mount an
intensive opposition similar to the successful challenges
to the FCC's media ownership rules in 2003. Without such a
public outcry to rein in the GOP's corporate-driven agenda,
it is likely that even many of the Democrats who rallied
against further consolidation will be "tamed" by the well-
funded lobbying campaigns of the powerful phone and cable

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