News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

February 02, 2006

IMC: 'Bullshit'

To Index of Monthly Archives
To January 2006 Index
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.

News About Ireland & The Irish

DI 02/02/06 ‘Bullshit’
TO 02/02/06 IMC Has No Credibility
BN 02/02/06 Adams Urges Governments To Ignore Guns Furore
IT 02/02/06 Orde Says IRA 'Not Returning' To Violence
DI 02/02/06 Dublin Mixed In Response To Report
DI 02/02/06 IMC: Who Are Independent Monitoring Commission?
BN 02/02/06 NI: Civilian Police Plans Likely To Go Through
IT 02/02/06 Time For SF To Endorse Policing Plans: Ahern
UT 02/02/06 More Crime In Nationalist Areas Reported
TE 02/02/06 Hain Wants Cash Deal For Sinn Fein's MPs
DI 02/02/06 Opin: Ugly McCarthyism In The Body Politic
DI 02/02/06 Opin: Will DUP Abandon Striptease Silliness?
IT 02/02/06 Opin: President Reinventing Our History
IT 02/02/06 No Surprises U2 Gets 3 Awards For Being Best
IT 02/02/06 Award Winners: At A Glance
IT 02/02/06 De Valera's RTÉ Complaint Rejected
DI 02/02/06 Emerald Isle Image Main Lure For Tourists



Sinn Féin chief negotiator condemns IMC report as ‘bullshit
of the highest order’ IRA statement refutes IMC allegations
about retaining weapons as ‘politically motivated’ IMC
report at odds with conclusions reached by General de
Chastelain and Garda Síochána

By Jarlath Kearney

Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness has angrily
rubbished allegations in yesterday’s IMC report that the
IRA withheld weapons from last September’s disarmament

In a statement last night, the IRA leadership rejected the
IMC allegations as “politically motivated”.

A political row developed yesterday after the IMC report
appeared to undermine the conclusions reached by the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning led
by General John de Chastelain.

Following last September’s process of putting all IRA
weapons beyond use, General de Chastelain expressed
confidence that the IRA had completely discharged its

However, the IMC yesterday challenged the decommissioning
body’s conclusions.

“We have since received reports that not all PIRA’s weapons
and ammunition were handed over for decommissioning in
September,” the IMC said.

“These reports are not able to indicate precisely what is
the nature or volume of any remaining weapons but suggest
two things — 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 or some items the
wherebouts of which were no longer known.

“We recognise that, if these reports were confirmed, the
key question would be how much the PIRA leadership knew
about these weapons,” the IMC said.

In a later statement yesterday, General John de
Chastelain’s decommissioning body strongly contradicted the
IMC’s allegations of IRA bad faith.

The decommissioning body attributed the source of recent
questions about the IRA’s disarmament process to “security
sources in Northern Ireland”.

“Last week, we were informed by security sources in
Northern Ireland that they had intelligence to the effect
that some individuals and groups within the IRA have
retained a range of arms, including handguns,” it said.

“If substantiated, this assessment would be at variance
with the statement we made last September that we believed
all IRA arms had been decommissioned commensurate with our
remit. Accordingly we undertook to examine whether, in
light of the assessment, we were misinformed or had made a
misjudgment in September.

“Over the past week, we have discussed the intelligence
assessment with senior officers in the Garda Síochána… the
Garda informed us that what they regard as reliable sources
in relation to the IRA and its weaponry have produced no
intelligence suggesting any arms have been retained.”

The decommissioning body said two meetings had taken place
last week with the IRA representative who was responsible
for overseeing the process of putting the organisation’s
weapons beyond use.

“In our first meeting last week, the IRA representative…
assured us that no IRA arms had been retained or placed in
long -term hides,” the decommissioning body said.

“In a meeting later in the week, the representative told us
that, following our earlier discussion, the IRA leadership
questioned each of their commanders about the intelligence
assessment. These have confirmed that all the arms under
their control were decommissioned in September, as we

“We conclude that, in the absence of evidence to the
contrary, our 26 September assessment regarding IRA arms
remains correct.”

At a later press conference, Sinn Féin chief negotiator
Martin McGuinness was asked to give his view on the IMC
allegations of IRA bad faith.

He said the IMC received its briefings from “people within
the process who are hostile to it”.

“I think it is, with respect, bullshit of the highest
order,” he added.

“Those who supply the information for the IMC reports
include DUP supporters in Special Branch and are the same
people who collapsed the political institutions and who ten
years ago were controlling and directing a murder campaign
against Sinn Féin members and the wider nationalist

“It is unacceptable that the entire political process is
being held to ransom by these people. Sinn Féin have
challenged the IMC and the two governments to produce
evidence to back up allegations contained in other IMC
reports. They have all failed to do so,” Mr McGuinness


IMC Has No Credibility

Derry News 02/02/06
By Mitchel McLaughlin

The so-called Independent Monitoring Commission presented
its latest report to the two governments on Monday of this
week. The governments’ assessment of the report is
therefore in the public domain as you read this article. As
expected this body produced a report that is once again
nothing more than a regurgitation of phantom briefings that
were given to selected journalists and delivered by
political detective Sam Kinkaid to the Policing Board last

A cursory look at this so-called Independent Report will
show that there is not one iota of evidence to support the
assessment of this Mc Carthyite body. But even if it had
delivered a favourable report Sinn Féin’s attitude to this
body will not change. It is a body set up outside the terms
of the Good Friday Agreement to satisfy the whinging of
David Trimble so that he could point to somewhere else for
validation of his intransigence. So blinded were the two
governments by their ‘Save Dave’ approach to the Political
Process that they did not see that they were in actuality
putting the whole process in hock to the whims of
securocrats and a failed politician.

This IMC Members are paid £600 per day, have no
investigative powers and presents the opinion of political
detectives like Sam Kinkaid as fact. None of its report is
based on independently gathered evidence. Yet they are
capable of presenting anti-Agreement elements with the
excuses they need to continue obstructing the re-
establishment of the political institutions that the people
voted for. They also provide the British government through
nothing more than innuendo and conjecture with propaganda
to justify continued suspension of the institutions.

It is time that all of those parties on this island, in
Britain and the United States who continually lecture
others on the tenets of democracy demanded that the British
and Irish governments get rid of this offence to democracy
and allow the will of the people to prevail.

This report will be grabbed and held on to as the comfort
blanket the DUP require to continue their prevarication.
Its allegations against republicans will be enough for the
Paisley Party to refuse to engage and even if it had given
a clean bill of health, then just as with the arms issue,
they would refuse to accept it because it wasn’t produced
in accordance with their demands. Therefore the two
governments must take steps to divest themselves of this
albatross – the IMC – that they created for themselves.

As I have stated on many occasions the full implementation
of the GFA is the only acceptable position to Sinn Féin.
Pandering to anti-Agreement elements from whatever
political hue or allowing anti-Agreement securocrats in the
NIO, PSNI or British Military Intelligence or political
opportunists to dictate the pace of change is totally

The British Government should rescind its suspension
legislation immediately; trigger the d’Hondt mechanism to
elect the Executive. They cannot continue to allow an
unaccountable quango to dictate the future governance of
this part of Ireland. D’Hondt should proceed with all of
the parties that are willing to fully participate in the
institutions as set out in the GFA. Failing this the two
governments must make it clear to the DUP that the
Agreement will be administered and implemented with equal
input from both governments until such time as the parties
are willing to resume a power sharing Executive based on
equality and parity of esteem. I welcome the endorsement of
this position by US Envoy Mitchell Reiss in an interview in
this newspaper this week.

The IMC has now done its dirty deed and presented the
briefings provided by the DUP supporters in Special Branch
as justification for continued suspension. It is totally
unacceptable that we are expected to wait for this malign
body to give the green flag to the re-establishment of the
political institutions voted for by the people.

The pro-Agreement Parties and the Irish government must
increase the pressure on the British government and demand
the lifting of suspension immediately so that locally
accountable politicians can do the job that they are
elected to do by the only people whose trust we require –
that is the electorate.


Adams Urges Governments To Ignore Guns Furore

02/02/2006 - 19:09:18

Gerry Adams tonight urged the British and Irish governments
to ignore a major row over alleged IRA weapons retention
and prove they can advance the troubled Northern Ireland
peace process.

The Sinn Féin president also insisted the Provisionals had
dealt decisively with their guns as his party demanded the
disbandment of a ceasefire watchdog that provoked uproar
with its arms assessment.

Amid a deepening political storm over the Independent
Monitoring Commission claiming it had reports the IRA still
had access to a range of weapons, Chief Constable Sir Hugh
Orde today refused to be dragged into the controversy by
disclosing whether the intelligence came from his force.

The furore has further poisoned attempts by London and
Dublin to inject momentum into the process.

Ahead of their talks with all the main political parties at
Hillsborough Castle, Co Down on Monday, Ian Paisley’s
Democratic Unionists warned they were not prepared to
return to power-sharing with Sinn Féin.

Their stance was based on the IMC declaring the IRA was
still heavily involved in spying, money laundering,
smuggling, as well as the huge uncertainty over how
complete the terrorist organisation’s final act of
decommissioning last September really was.

But Mr Adams insisted today that his party was not prepared
to simply wait for the DUP to grasp the new political

He said: “The IRA have dealt decisively with the issue of
arms. It cannot be done again.

“Those opposed to this process are attempting to bring all
of us down a cul-de-sac.

The West Belfast MP added: “The two governments have stated
that they wish to see rapid progress made in the time

“This is possible, if the two governments display the
necessary political will and the primacy of the political
process is asserted.

“They need to match their rhetoric with action."


Orde Says IRA 'Not Returning' To Violence

Last updated: 02-02-06, 18:01

The PSNI Chief Constable has said there is no evidence to
suggest that the IRA is planning a return to violence.

Sir Hugh Orde said police had no intelligence to suggest
the IRA was returning to its armed struggle.

Hugh Orde made his comments in response to a question by
the DUP's Ian Paisley junior at a meeting of the Northern
Ireland Policing Board in Belfast.

Earlier, as Mr Orde was about to give his assessment on a
new report by the Independent Monitoring Commission, which
claimed they had received security force claims that the
IRA had held on to some of its weapons, half a dozen people
stood up and demanded to know where the information cited
in the report came from.

Robert McClenaghan, of the group An Fhírinne (Irish for
truth), asked: "Who provided intelligence to the likes of
the IMC? "Is it the same Special Branch police, same
military people and the same members of the NIO (Northern
Ireland Office) who have been involved in collusion for the
last 35 years?"

His outburst, while others in the group held aloft
placards, provoked a furious response from the Democratic
Unionist representatives on the board .

Sammy Wilson said: "Are you defending the people who've
killed people for 35 years? You are defending murderers."

The protesters were escorted out of the public meeting,
some of them shouting "political policing" as they left.

Later, Hugh Orde refused to be drawn on the issue of
alleged IRA activity.

Democratic Unionist representative William Hay urged him to
clear up the confusion over whether the Independent
Monitoring Commission's assessment that the IRA had
retained some arms came from his officers

"We have discharged our duties as we are required to do
properly in respect of both organisations (the IMC and
General de Chastelain's Independent International
Commission on Decommissioning), the Chief Constable said.
"We have given full briefings of our intelligence and
information to them." He added: "I have certainly delivered
everything we're objected to do in a very honest, frank and
open way to enable them to make judgments and add that to
other intelligence and information they have."

© 2006


Dublin Mixed In Response To Report

by David Lynch

Political reaction in Dublin to the latest Independent
Monitoring Commission report was predictably mixed.

The Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD,
said his party would publish a bill today calling on the
Irish government to end its “political backing and funding
for the discredited Independent Monitoring Commission”.

“The commission is a Frankenstein monster created by the
two governments to appease rejectionist unionists,” said
the Cavan and Monaghan TD.

“Once again, the accusations made against republicans by
the collection of spooks and anti-republican cranks that
make up the Independent Monitoring Commission are based on
nothing more than unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo
from nameless securocrats within the British

There was a sharply divergent reaction from the Labour
Party leader Pat Rabbitte. He said that the commission’s
declaration that the IRA had “retained an unquantified
amount of weapons… totally undermines efforts to accept
republicans as involved purely in democratic politics”.

In a strongly worded statement, Mr Rabbitte said he
believed that the IRA remained an organisation “deeply
involved in criminality”.

“The eighth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission
acknowledges the progress that has been made in regard to
the ending of all IRA activity. Yet ongoing reports of
criminality, intelligence-gathering and the fact that the
IRA has retained weaponry, in particular, demonstrate that
there is still some way to go before Northern Ireland is a
fully peaceful, lawful and democratic society,” he said.

“The IMC reports that the IRA’s stated intention to end
activities is being implemented. This should be
acknowledged and welcomed. However, I am extremely
concerned at the report that the IRA has retained an
unquantified amount of weapons. This totally undermines
efforts to accept republicans as involved purely in
democratic politics.

“Combined with the Criminal Assets Bureau raids on
properties and businesses in Dublin today, this
demonstrates that the IRA remains an illegitimate
organisation deeply involved in criminality and with the
capacity to resort to violence at any stage.

“The onus is on Sinn Féin to address all these issues
together rather than simply throw mud at the IMC. This is
especially the case regarding intelligence-gathering, as
Sinn Féin would be the obvious beneficiary of such
information being amassed for ‘political purposes’.

“Moreover, the assessment of loyalists is even gloomier.
Little progress is being made within the UDA and UVF
towards ending their thuggish and brutal activities or
ceding the control they exert over their communities.”

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said he welcomed the
confirmation by the monitoring commission that the IRA had
made a strategic decision to end its armed campaign and
that the IRA had not deviated from that position.

“However, the IMC report also includes a number of findings
which suggest that the IRA is being somewhat selective in
its fulfilment of the promises made last July to end all
activities,” Mr Kenny said yesterday.

“In particular, it confirms that IRA involvement in
organised crime is continuing. It also finds that
intelligence-gathering is still being authorised by the
Provisional leadership to support their political strategy.
These practices are totally unacceptable and must be ended
if Sinn Féin wants to be treated as a fully democratic

“The report also supports the case of the family of Joseph
Rafferty, in that Sinn Féin did not do enough to prevent
this murder despite having been aware of the threats to Mr
Rafferty’s life.

“Sinn Féin should now belatedly do the decent thing and
ensure that the murderer in this case is brought to

The 29-year-old Joseph Rafferty was shot dead in Dublin
last April.

His relatives have said there was IRA involvement in the
killing and that Sinn Féin members with information about
it have consistently failed to co-operate with gardaí. Sinn
Féin has denied this.


IMC REPORT: Who Are The Independent Monitoring Commission?

An ex-leader of the Alliance Party, the Metropolitan
police’s first director of intelligence, a former CIA
deputy director, and a former secretary-general of the
South’s justice department make up the IMC

by jarlath kearney


The British and Irish governments formally set up the
Independent Monitoring Commission in January 2004. Its four
commissioners are each paid £625 (€917) per day for their
professional services. The commission’s running costs are
approximately £2 million (€2.9 million) per annum, paid
from the public purse equally by the Irish and British

John Alderdice

John Alderdice is currently the president of Liberal

The London-based Liberal International describes itself as
“a pre-eminent network for liberal parties” around the

The Alliance Party in the North is a full member, having
joined in 1991. Lord Alderdice is a former leader of the
Alliance Party, a post he held between 1987 and 1998. The
current Alliance Party leader, David Ford, is a vice-
president of Liberal International. The Alliance Party is a
staunch political supporter of the IMC and regularly meets
the body.

The Progressive Democrats party in the Republic is an
observer member of Liberal International. The president of
the PDs is Irish justice minister Michael McDowell. Mr
McDowell’s department — through both the Irish government
and the Garda — is a key source for the IMC.

John Alderdice was given a peerage in 1996 and sits on the
Liberal Democrat benches in the House of Lords.

In 1998, Lord Alderdice was elected to the North’s new
assembly following the Good Friday Agreement. He was
appointed to the position of speaker. He resigned from this
position in 2004 to “avoid a conflict of interest” upon his
appointment as an IMC member.

John Grieve

Professor John Grieve is director of the John Grieve Centre
for Policing and Community Safety at Buckingham Chilterns
University College in southern England. The centre is
billed as an “international policing centre of excellence”.

Among the full board members of the centre is Her Majesty’s
Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Ronnie Flanagan. Mr Flanagan
is a former RUC/PSNI chief constable and ex-head of RUC
Special Branch.

PSNI members have attended the centre. Hugh Orde, the
current PSNI chief constable, is described as a member of
the centre’s “journal board”. Mr Orde is a former deputy
assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan police.

Professor Grieve was the Metropolitan police’s first
director of intelligence. A former head of the Met’s
Special Branch, he served as “national co-ordinator” with
the Anti-Terrorist Squad between 1996 and 1998.

As well as holding a senior research fellowship at
Portsmouth University, Professor Grieve serves as the
independent chairman of the Greater London Authority’s
Alcohol and Drugs Alliance.

In 1997, Professor Grieve was awarded the Queen’s Police
Medal. In 2000, he was given a CBE after being named the
millennium honours list.

Dick Kerr

Dick Kerr joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1960.

Mr Kerr is a former deputy director of the CIA. For a
period, he served as acting director of Central
Intelligence — the umbrella body for the United States’
leading intelligence agencies.

After leaving the CIA in 1992, Mr Kerr served on the boards
of several security and private-sector agencies.

In June 2004, during an interview with west Belfast’s
Andersonstown News, Mr Kerr openly accepted that the IMC
was “outside” the Good Friday Agreement.

“I think that is true. I don’t think that is a criticism,”
he said.

Mr Kerr confirmed that he had signed the Official Secrets
Act, that the IMC received national security information
and that the intelligence agencies largely provided
“reported” rather than “raw” intelligence.

“We’re not going to sit and do our own research as such,”
he said.

Despite asserting the IMC’s sense of its own independence,
Mr Kerr was also frank in admitting that the body could be
used by the governments.

“We were created by the government. I mean, we were asked
into existence [by the government], so there’s always this
concern — ‘are we just an instrument of the government?’
The government can use us. There’s no question,” Mr Kerr

Joe Brosnan

Joe Brosnan is a former secretary-general of the Department
of Justice in the South. A career civil servant, Mr Brosnan
worked as part of the Anglo-Irish (Maryfield) secretariat
from its establishment in 1986 until 1992. He is a
qualified barrister.

Mr Brosnan joined the civil service in 1967 and has worked
for most of his career in the justice department.

In 1988, he was appointed as the department’s assistant
secretary in charge of the Garda and security division.
Both the justice department and the Garda are key sources
for the IMC.

On his appointment as secretary-general at the department
in 1992, Mr Brosnan played a senior role in the failed
Brook talks initiative.

Mr Brosnan has extensive experience of European political

He is currently vice-chairman of the Irish Institute of
European Affairs, a private and independent entity based in
Dublin that specialises in European affairs. The
institute’s website describes it as a “self-governing body
devoted to the study of Irish policy on European

Garret FitzGerald, the former Taoiseach and ex-Fine Gael
leader, is the president of the institute. Current
Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern is listed as
a member of the institute’s Comité d’Honneur.


NI: Civilian Police Plans 'Likely To Go Through'

02/02/2006 - 19:28:29

The introduction of Police Community Support Officers in
Northern Ireland moved a step closer tonight.

The uniformed civilian support staff have already been
introduced in England and Wales amid some controversy.

After extensive debate in Belfast the Northern Ireland
Policing Board has agreed in principle to the recruitment
of PCSOs in the North.

They said their agreement was subject to there being “no
variation between the vetting criteria for membership of
the PCSO and those which govern regular police officers”.

Board chairman, Professor Sir Desmond Rea, said they were
guarding against “any potential for PCSOs to become a route
into policing for paramilitaries".

At the same time the Board agreed the rolling out of four
new areas for the recruitment of more part time police
officers following the evaluation of a pilot recruitment
scheme of 159 officers on four other areas in 2003.

The Patten Report on the future of policing said the Part
Time Police Reserve should be enlarged to 2,500 officers,
with additional recruits to come from those areas in which
there were few or no reservists at all.

Sir Desmond said that since the publication of Pattern
there had been developments in the delivery of community
policing, the deployment of part-time officers and the
introduction in England and Wales of PCSOs.

He said PCSOs were a new initiative in policing and as part
of the board’s discussions members had considered whether
they would be suitable for the province.

Their decision to recruit more part-time officers went some
way to giving police commanders an additional resource in
the short term to meet community policing needs on the
ground “while allowing the arrangements and legislation for
the recruitment of PCSOs to be quickly progressed,” said
Sir Desmond.


Time For SF To Endorse New Policing Plans, Says Ahern

Jimmy Walsh

Seanad report: It was time for Sinn Féin to endorse the
new policing arrangements in Northern Ireland, Minister for
Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said. "It is also the case
that the unionist parties, and particularly the DUP, have
to accept when Sinn Féin makes that move that they will be
part of those policing arrangements."

Opening a debate on Northern Ireland, Mr Ahern said he
wished to emphasise that the reports of the Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC) and the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) had
confirmed, contrary to reports in some quarters, that a
strategic decision to pursue politics via peaceful means
had been taken by the IRA leadership, and that such a
decision was not in question. These reports made a
persuasive case for politics.

There was a tendency to under-estimate the serious threat
of loyalist paramilitary groups "because we concentrate on
the other side to a certain extent. The leaders of those
groups are being challenged to follow the path that has
clearly been taken by the IRA."

Noting that the IMC had highlighted some indications of
continued criminality on the part of current or former IRA
members, Mr Ahern said the Government could not ignore
reports of intelligence-gathering that was illegal or was
outside the bounds of conventional political activity.

Pointing out that he and the Northern Secretary would begin
talks next Monday with the aim of setting out the
arrangements for a restoration of the Northern institutions
as soon as possible, he said they understood that people
would not rush into an Executive. The next couple of months
would be critical.

Brian Hayes, Fine Gael leader in the House, said he
believed that information gathered by the Provisional
movement about members of the Houses of the Oireachtas was
being used to fight political campaigns, to discredit
opponents and to target certain politicians. He would
remind the Provisionals that this was unacceptable, and
that as long as it continued Sinn Féin would not be
regarded as a normal political party.

Shane Ross (Ind) said while the IRA had given up its arms,
it seemed to have handed over a legacy of criminality which
was yielding an extraordinary amount of money.

He was worried that the Government was prepared to tolerate
such behaviour in order to bring those involved further
down the road to a political solution.

Martin Mansergh (FF) said he had not heard a more ludicrous
suggestion than that made by Mr Ross. All the evidence of
the last year was that the Government and its agencies had
gone relentlessly after the Provisionals.

© The Irish Times


More Crime In Nationalist Areas Reported

Crimes are increasingly being reported to the Police
Service of Northern Ireland from nationalist areas it was
revealed today.

By:Press Association

The Policing Board was told that an examination by the PSNI
showed reported crime up in eight of 13 nationalist areas.

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan revealed there had
been a 173% increase in reported crime in the South Armagh
border village of Crossmaglen.

He said: "I don`t for one moment think there has been a
173% increase in crime in the area."

The number of reported crimes went up from 86 to 235.

In Belcoo in County Fermanagh there had been an 81%
increased in reported crime.

In West Belfast there was also an increase in the number of
crimes reported to police. Overall crime figures showed a
4% increase last year.

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said it was the first
increase since he had been chief constable.

He said while he was not being complacent there were a
number of substantial reasons why the figures were up.

He said robbery had increased by 13% but much of the
increase was accounted for by the summer disturbances and
vehicle hijackings which surrounded the dispute over the
Whiterock Orange parade.

Over 1,100 of the extra crimes were down to breaches of
non-molestation orders - something which had previously not
been recorded in the figures.

The PSNI`s drive against illegal drugs had resulted in 200
extra arrests, equally their campaign against dangerous
driving had resulted in an extra 92 prosecutions.

He also revealed the number of murders committed in the
province last year was the lowest for 10 years.

A total of 22 people were murdered. Sir Hugh said but for
the loyalist feud the figures would have been considerably

He compared Northern Ireland with Greater Manchester where
there had been 29 murders and Northumbria where there had
been 11.

He reported to the board a 2.9% drop in domestic burglary
and said special drives targeting specific areas had
produced results.

In North Belfast domestic burglary had gone down by 42.9%
and in Foyle by 20.9%.

The Chief Constable described the recent spate of domestic
burglaries in which elderly people have been targeted as
"very worrying".

He said the PSNI was taking the situation very seriously
because "it contributed to fear amongst those who are very

Nevertheless he said crime against older people was
slightly down in terms of assault but slightly up - 1.7% in
terms of domestic burglary.


Hain Wants Cash Deal For Sinn Fein's MPs

By Brendan Carlin and Tom Peterkin
(Filed: 03/02/2006)

Tony Blair plans to create a new parliamentary allowance
for Sinn Fein MPs despite their refusal to take their
Commons seats.

The move, if approved next week, will mean taxpayers' money
being spent specifically on funding a party whose MPs will
not swear allegiance to the Queen.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain

It comes on top of separate proposals, also to be voted on
next Wednesday, to restore individual MPs' allowances to
Sinn Fein representatives. These were suspended after the
£26.5 million Northern Bank robbery of December 2004,
blamed on the IRA.

Last night, even some Labour MPs baulked at the idea of
giving Sinn Fein the equivalent of Short money - the
special parliamentary subsidy traditionally given to the
Tories, Liberal Democrats and the minor opposition parties.

Andrew Mackinlay, the Labour MP for Thurrock, raised the
issue yesterday, saying he was not persuaded "that it can
be justified by the criteria which have been laid down for
Short money".

The motion is backed by Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland
Secretary, and Mr Mackinlay told MPs yesterday "this is
Hain money, or Sinn Hain, if you like".

However, a spokesman for Mr Hain indicated that the move -
along with the restoration of individual allowances - was

Sinn Fein's five MPs do not get the £59,095 MP's salary but
are entitled to office space at Westminster.

Until last March, the group was also entitled to claim
special allowances for staff and office costs, roughly
worth about £600,000 over a full year in total.

Under a motion to be debated next week, the Westminster
allowances would be restored and backdated to November,
allowing Sinn Fein members overall to claim up to about

Many Tories were already poised to oppose that, pointing
out that under Lady Boothroyd, the former Commons Speaker,
the Sinn Fein MPs were barred from claiming those

But a separate Opposition Parties (Financial Assistance)
motion, proposed by Geoff Hoon, the Commons Leader, and Mr
Hain, proposes to give money "to any opposition party
represented by members who have chosen not to take their
seats and thus do not qualify to participate in the
proceedings in Parliament".

Mr Hain's spokesman said that the money, likely to be worth
up to £84,000 a year, was a "new category of money" which
could be used to develop policies.

This week's report by the Independent Monitoring Commission
cited allegations that not all the Provisional IRA's
weapons had been disposed of. But the IMC took the view
that the IRA's promise last July to end its armed campaign
was genuine.

David Lidington, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary,
condemned the move as a "side-deal with Sinn Fein" and a
"corruption of parliamentary allowances".

The plans also provoked outrage among unionists. Peter
Robinson, the DUP deputy leader, asked why the Government
wanted to reward Sinn Fein "while the police are indicating
the high level of criminality within the republican

But Conor Murphy, the Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh,
said the plan would help end "discrimination against our


Opin: Ugly McCarthyism In The Body Politic

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry when faced with
the latest execrable offering from the International
Monitoring Commission (IMC). The toe-curling pomposity of
the IMC’s pronouncements, their patronising chiding of the
nationalist community for creating a “culture of
unlawfulness”, and the vacuous nature of the allegations
made against republicans are sick-making.

Equally objectionable is the fact that this unelected
quango is allowed to subvert the rule of law and the right
to a fair trial by injecting unbridled, ugly McCarthyism
into the body politic.

As old enmities are being laid to rest as ordinary people
grasp the opportunities thrown up by the end of war, the
IMC tosses a veritable hand grenade of a report which blows
the entire peace process off course.

A hostage to fortune is given to the DUP refuseniks who can
now back up their refusal to share power with Catholics by
pointing to the risible IMC allegations.

Risible they certainly are. The IRA, say the IMC, haven’t
decommissioned all their weapons. At least, that’s what,
with undisguised glee, the DUP and, sadly, the SDLP were
claiming yesterday.

In fact, the IMC in their ham-fisted way say something
quite different. “We have since received reports that not
all PIRA’s weapons and ammunition were handed over for
decommissioning in September,” they say. “These reports are
not able to indicate precisely what is the nature or volume
of any remaining weapons…” The authority of the source for
those reports would help readers decide on their veracity
but on that matter the IMC is silent. Under the guise of
protecting the identity of those who provide them with
tittle-tattle, allegation and gossip, the IMC doesn’t name
any of its sources. It doesn’t get more Orwellian than

Of course, if the public knew that the reports came from
MI5 and Special Branch they would treat them with scorn.
After all, it’s only this week that retired RUC detective
Jonty Brown revealed that he believes Special Branch is
plotting to murder him.

Bottom line: the IMC are talking through their hat when
they claim in sensationalist tones that IRA spies are
infiltrating government bodies. They are wrong when they
claim the IRA is not honouring 150 per cent its instruction
that members “assist the development of purely political
and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful
means” and not engage “in any other activities whatsoever”.

Then again, what do the IMC members know about the
backstreets of Ballymurphy or the boreens of south Armagh,
about which they deign to speak? Nothing, except what
they’ve been told by spooks, spies and securocrats.

This worthless report should be consigned to the bin, and
the IMC with it.


Opin: Will The DUP Abandon Its Striptease Silliness?

Jude Collins

Does the DUP do striptease? It sometimes looks like that on
TV. For years they were so pure and Christian, they
couldn’t bring themselves to share a studio with the
Shinner sinners.

Then they loosened a bit and got into the same studio but
sat as far away as possible from moral contamination. In
recent months they’ve shimmied closer and can be found
sitting beside the Shinners, but without eye-contact and
never addressing them directly. And in the past fortnight
another garment has dropped: Nigel Dodds was seen beside
Mitchel McLaughlin, smiling broadly at something the Sinn
Féin man said; and on a recent episode of Hearts and Minds,
Jeffrey Donaldson actually spoke to John O’Dowd.

True, he spoke with prim-mouthed irritation and he didn’t
establish eye-contact, but hey – if you’re a political
stripper, you don’t rush these things.

But whether the DUP will ever get their noli-me-tangere kit
off in the real world remains doubtful. A couple of weeks
ago Gregory Campbell boasted that it could be months or
even years before the DUP could consider going into power-
sharing government of the North. In their hilariously named
document Facing Reality, the party says this is ‘not the
right time’ for power-sharing with Sinn Féin. Talk about a

However, as the DUP go on pirouetting and fluttering their
eyelashes, Peter Hain is assembling Plan B for those who
are allergic to power-sharing. It’s called the seven super-
councils. Unionist don’t like the sound of seven super-
councils. They’re used to having a firm grasp on power and
the thought of three nationalist councils in the west
upsets them.

Most nationalists, on the other hand, are pretty sanguine
at the thought of the proposed councils, even though Hain’s
plan will leave some 200,000 nationalists living within
unionist-dominated council areas.

You can understand nationalist uneasiness on the last
point. Unionists have shown again and again that sharing
power goes against their natural instincts. The activities
of present unionist councils like Newtownabbey and Lisburn
provide contemporary evidence of this.

Never mind blocking nationalist representatives from
chairing any committees: one unionist council insists on
flying the union jack over its refuse dump 365 days a year.

Given that kind of attitude it’s clearly desirable that as
few nationalists as possible, in the coming era of super-
council rule, should be left to the mercies of a unionist

Here’s one partial solution. If Hain’s proposed seven
councils were reduced to six, the number of nationalists
living in unionist-dominated areas would at a stroke be
reduced from 200,000 to some 80,000.

There’d be other advantages to the council lines above. The
current Down District Council area more logically belongs
with Banbridge, Newry and Mourne, Craigavon and Armagh than
it does with the Belfast suburbs of North Down, Castlereagh
and Ards. Belfast would be expanded to include the Dunmurry
Cross area of Lisburn, part of Newtownabbey and the western
half of Castlereagh that borders on South Belfast.

This would result in some 45,000 nationalists now living in
the current District Councils of Lisburn, Newtownabbey and
Castlereagh being transferred to Belfast where a more
balanced population ensures power-sharing.

There’s one obvious charge could be laid against this six-
council proposal: it’s a nationalist version of
gerrymander. But this arrangement would not penalise
unionists: it would simply protect nationalists.

Under the arrangement, 51 per cent of the North’s
population would be living in majority unionist council
areas and 49 per cent in nationalist council areas. That
would be very close to the balance of voting figures in the
last three elections here: in the 2005 Westminster
election, the unionist vote was 51 per cent, in the
District Council election of 2005 they got 49 per cent and
a similar figure in the 2004 European election.

Would unionists feel even more queasy in the face of this
six-council model than Hain’s proposed seven-council model?
You bet your granny’s snuff-box they would. Not having
substantial numbers of nationalists to annoy within their
non-power-sharing fiefdoms would be like having an Orange
march with no taigs to upset: hardly any fun at all.

Because it protects more nationalists, because its council
areas conform more closely to natural communities, because
it gives a power-balance that is closer to 50-50, it would
be a very unattractive concoction. And given the
expectation that the new councils will have seriously
enhanced powers, including perhaps policing, it would be
anathema to the not-an-inchers.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. As our British boss
keeps reminding us, trust has to be built if progress is to
be made. Unionist actions, from the foundation of the state
to the present, make it very difficult for nationalists to
trust in the bona fides of unionist leaders.

So if they are to indeed face reality, unionist leaders
must, by their actions as well as their words, prove
conclusively that they are committed to reconciliation and
power-sharing, that they are determined to resist any back-
sliding into old habits of arrogance and contempt, and that
terms like parity of esteem will have some real meaning for
them when confronted with Irish culture.

The new councils are not scheduled to come into operation
until 2008, so there’s still time for unionism to take the
path to a shared future.

But if the DUP fails to abandons its striptease silliness,
fails to show that it’s serious about winning the trust of
the nationalist people in this twisted little corner of
Ireland, then they must accept the brutal reality: up
ahead, in the political shadows, Hain’s seven-council or a
new improved six-council experience is waiting for them.
Big Ian and his boys should be very afraid.

Jude Collins is an academic, writer and broadcaster. His
latest novel is Leave of Absence (TownHouse, £6.99; €9.99)


Opin: President Reinventing Our History

In her speech at a UCC conference on the 1916 Rising,
President Mary McAleese did not so much attempt to rewrite
large chunks of recent Irish history, as try to reinvent it
completely, writes David Adams.

She did not just apply a touch of gloss to some awkward
little pieces of historical furniture, but tried to
deconstruct and refurbish an entire, 90-year, historical

According to Mrs McAleese, the Easter Rising was neither
exclusive nor sectarian.

Yet how, other than exclusive, to describe an unelected,
unaccountable, elite embarking on armed insurrection
against the wishes of the vast majority of its fellow
citizens? What appellation, other than sectarian, can be
attached to the subsequent campaign of intimidation,
assault and murder directed against scores of Irish
Protestants on the pretext that, because of their religion,
they must surely be British sympathisers and collaborators?

To suggest, as the President did, that the 1916 Rising was
inclusive and non-sectarian simply because some women and a
very few highborn Protestants played a part, is risible.

That is like arguing that the National Party of South
Africa wasn't racist because, as was the case, it had a
tiny sprinkling of ethnic Asians and Africans within its

Similarly, Mrs McAleese claimed that Irish nationalism was
never narrow. Bizarrely, she based this assertion largely
on the fact that many nationalists "belonged to a universal
church that brought them into contact with a vastly wider
segment of the world than that open to even the most
travelled imperial English gentleman".

There is something deeply ironic in the President taking a
sideswipe at English (notably, not British?) imperialism
while, in the same breath, lauding the supposed benefits of
belonging to a "universal church" that historically has
been more imperial in outlook and operation than any

More telling, though, is her failure to recognise that it
was precisely because of its unhealthily close association
with one religious denomination to the exclusion of all
others that Irish nationalism was so narrow and partial.

President McAleese dismissed those who might have suspected
that post-1916 nationalism would seek "the domination of
one cultural and ethnic tradition over others", though she
did concede that it was easy to see how people might have
"fallen into that mistaken view".

A "mistaken view"? Did the President not notice, then, the
virtual theocracy that, between them, the church and a
subservient nationalism created and maintained in Ireland
from independence until recent times?

I agree with President McAleese that today's Republic of
Ireland is a modern, prosperous, democracy with, as she put
it, a widely shared political philosophy of equality,
social inclusion, human rights and anti-confessionalism. I
disagree profoundly, however, with her on how it arrived at
that point.

The President would have us believe that the liberal
democracy of today flowed from the 1916 Proclamation. The
truth is that prosperity flowed directly from Ireland's
membership of the European Union, and liberal democracy
from the implosion of an institution given so much rope in
the form of unelected and unaccountable power and
influence, that eventually it hanged itself.

The 1916 leaders could not possibly have foreseen the
first, or even begun to imagine the second, much less plan
for either.

I have no strong view on whether or not there should be an
official parade to commemorate the 1916 Rising: that is a
matter entirely for the people of the Republic and their
elected representatives. What I do take exception to, is
propaganda posing as historical truth: irrespective of
whether the object is to reclaim a particular event,
elevate a political party or rehabilitate a religious

Last Friday, the President did not present a differing
"analysis and interpretation" of recent Irish history but,
rather, a history almost totally divorced from fact. Far
worse, there was nothing in what she had to say about the
"idealistic and heroic founding fathers and mothers" that
could not equally be said in defence of the Provisional IRA
and its actions (or, for that matter, its would-be
successors in the Continuity and Real IRAs).

After all, they too were a tiny elite of extreme
nationalists who took it upon themselves to drive out the
British at the point of a gun.

They too, claimed to be wedded to the principles of
equality and civil and religious liberty for all, while
prosecuting a murderous campaign against their Protestant

If we follow President McAleese's uncritical analysis and
reasoning to its logical conclusion, in intellectual terms,
all that separated the modern IRA from the rebels of 1916
was the passage of time. To heap retrospective adulation
upon the leaders of the 1916 Rising while denying it to the
Provisionals, is to differentiate only on the grounds of
the relative success of one and complete failure of the

Surely, it is not beyond the President and others to find a
way of celebrating independence without glorifying the
manner in which it was achieved. Until then, nationalism
will continue handing a blank cheque to successive
generations of "freedom fighters".

© The Irish Times


No Surprises As U2 Pick Up Three Awards For Being Simply
The Best

Kevin Courtney

They may be called the Meteors, but when the big winners
of Ireland's most prestigious music awards were announced
last night, it wasn't exactly a bolt from the blue.

U2 scooped three awards: Best Album for How to Dismantle an
Atomic Bomb, Best Live Performance for their Croke Park
gigs last summer, and Best Irish Band for, well, just being
the best Irish band around. Bass player Adam Clayton was
there to collect the group's awards.

The sixth Meteor Ireland Music Awards, held at the Point,
were marked by a comforting inevitability: besides U2's
predictable if well-deserved win, Ireland's other heavy
hitters, Westlife, won Best Irish Pop Act for the sixth
year in a row. That puts them firmly in the boyband comfort
zone. Today FM's Ray D'Arcy was voted Best DJ by a public
who knows a crackling radio personality when it hears one.

The only loose cannons in this carefully calibrated event
were The Pogues, who were presented with a Lifetime
Achievement Award - not for their heroic feats of pub-
crawling but for the fine body of work they have amassed
during their colourful 23-year career.

The re-formed (but hardly reformed) outlaws of Celtic punk
were due to close last night's event in the company of The
Dubliners. Not that there weren't a few surprises during
this 2½-hour-plus extravaganza. Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs
pipped Franz Ferdinand to Best International Band, while
young Tipperary singer/songwriter Gemma Hayes beat relative
old-timers Mary Black and Sinead O'Connor to win Best Irish
Female Singer.

The even younger Laura Izibor won the Hope for 2006 Award;
the budding R&B star is signed to Britney Spears's label,
so hopes are high for her.

Even those presenting awards were plucked from the same
pool of local celebrities, TV presenters, reality-show
participants, ex-boyband members and ex-boyband wives.
Towering over them all were actors Stephen Rea and Jonathan
Rhys Meyers, and towering over those two was the mighty
Larry Gogan. The most pleasant non-surprise of the evening
was veteran social campaigner Fr Peter McVerry winning the
Humanitarian Award for his work with homeless people, along
with €100,000 for his charity, the Aruppe Society.

The Meteors will be broadcast on Sunday at 9.30pm on RTÉ 2.

© The Irish Times


Award Winners: At A Glance

Who won what - and for what.

Best Irish Female: Gemma Hayes

Best Irish Male: Damien Dempsey

Best Irish Pop Act: Westlife

Best Irish Album: U2 - "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb"

Best International Album: Kaiser Chiefs - "Employment"

Industry Award: Bill Whelan

Best Folk/Trad: John Spillane

Best Irish New Act: Humanzi

The Humanitarian Award: Fr Peter McVerry

Best Live Performance: U2 - Croke Park

Best Irish DJ: Ray D'Arcy

RTÉ 2fm Hope for 2006: Laura Izibor

Best Irish Band: U2

Best International Band: Kaiser Chiefs

Lifetime Achievement Award: The Pogues

Best International Male: Kanye West

Best International Female: Gwen Stefani

© The Irish Times


De Valera's RTÉ Complaint Rejected

Áine Kerr

The grandson of former taoiseach and president Éamon de
Valera has failed to have his complaint about an RTÉ
documentary on the Irish Press and his family upheld by the
Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

In a submission to the BCC, complainant Dr Éamon de Valera
said a documentary entitled A Family Fortune: de Valera's
Irish Press was a deliberate exercise in attacking his
grandfather, his father and himself.

The programme, aired on July 26th, 2005, investigated how
president Eamon de Valera's controlling interest in the
Irish Press Group had been acquired, and how it had been
transferred to successive generations of his family.

Dr de Valera said the film's title was misleading and
suggested a family fortune had been made out of the Irish
Press, and that it was founded with disregard for the
proper interests of original subscribers.

He concluded there was a case of extreme bias on RTÉ's
part, selective presentation of the facts, repetition of
falsehoods without checking facts or sources, and
suppression of facts.

RTÉ strenuously denied the allegations, saying the
documentary was fair, accurate and thoroughly researched by
means of more than 100 new documents which it had
unearthed. The national broadcaster argued that the
programme replaced many myths and rumours with facts that
could be verified through primary sources.

RTÉ's submission states: "RTÉ regrets that Dr de Valera did
not take the opportunity to make his points within the
documentary. He declined two offers to take part in the
programme, writing to the producer that, 'you will have to
wait until I write my book'."

The BCC concluded that the topic was of public interest and
the programme was presented in a balanced manner.

But a complaint by John T Reilly on behalf of Irish Ferries
about an RTÉ Prime Time report on that firm last July was
upheld. The BCC said the broadcast infringed the fairness
and balance regulations because the firm's position was
presented in an "evasive manner".

© The Irish Times


Emerald Isle Image Of Ireland Main Lure For Tourists


A warm welcome, the promise of good craic and its green
image remain Ireland’s key attractions for overseas
tourists, new research revealed yesterday.

The country’s reputation for friendly people and
breathtaking scenery amid culture and heritage continue to
prove the main lure, while foreign holidaymakers are now
more willing to visit a peaceful North.

The research shows the unique appeal may be weakening as
more and more tourists believe Ireland is becoming
increasingly homogenous with the rest of Europe,
particularly in its urban areas.

Tourism Ireland, which is responsible for increasing
overseas tourism to the island of Ireland, surveyed more
than 28,000 holidaymakers over the past four years.

While the Irish themselves may wish to see a more urban and
cosmopolitan image of Ireland reflected in advertising
campaigns, the country’s tradition of welcome, craic and
unspoilt landscapes continues to resonate with potential
visitors, according to Mark Henry, director of central

“There have been suggestions that we should dispense with
the Emerald Isle imagery, but we make absolutely no apology
for reflecting what consumers tell us are the most
appealing aspects of the island in our overseas marketing
campaigns,” he said.

“Our research shows that our strongest competitive
advantage, or what makes us stand out as a destination,
lies in our image of a beautiful green land populated by
friendly welcoming people.

“We are in the business of selling Ireland as a holiday
destination in overseas markets and the core appeals of our
warm people, our striking landscape and our unique culture
are our key selling points to holidaymakers from abroad,
not from home.”

Mr Henry said a number of potential holidaymakers believed
that while Ireland is becoming more cosmopolitan and
appealing as an urban short break destination, its cities
are becoming more and more like any other in Europe.

“Holidaymakers from the Great Britain market, in
particular, expressed the view that we were not different
or exotic enough in comparison to new destinations in
eastern Europe,” he added.

Tourism Ireland, which has been marketing Ireland, North
and South, as a single holiday destination since 2002, also
found that the inhibitions which visitors had in travelling
to Northern Ireland because of safety and security concerns
continue to dissolve.

“Our research showed that overseas holidaymakers view
Northern Ireland as safer, with less unrest and less
discord reported in the news,” Mr Henry said.

“Visitors are increasingly viewing the core elements of the
holiday experience of southern and Northern Ireland as
being broadly similar.

“Marketing the island as the one destination has resonated
well in our markets and has contributed to our delivering a
record 8.1 million overseas visitors to the island of
Ireland in 2005.”.

To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To January 2006 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?