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February 09, 2006

Irish Govt Should Reject Control of Finucane Inquiry

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BN 02/09/06 Govt Should Reject Control Of Finucane Inquiry
DI 02/09/06 Adams Wants Visa – Reiss Wants SF PSNI Support
IT 02/10/06 Blair To Hold Talks With SF, DUP
IT 02/10/06 Ahern Warns British On Nuclear Plant In North
IT 02/10/06 Irish Soldiers Will Help To Enforce Peace
SF 02/10/06 Minister Gives Two Fingers To Irish Neutrality
IT 02/10/06 Opin: O'Dea - Irish Role Will Help Boost UN
DI 02/09/06 Official Council Vote For United Ireland
DI 02/09/06 Robinson Claims: Curistan Comes Out Fighting
IT 02/10/06 Chairman Challenges MP On Dirty Money Claim
IT 02/10/06 Sinn Féin Could Bypass Royal Oath, Says Tory
IT 02/10/06 McDowell Critical Of Agenda-Setting Of Media
DI 02/09/06 McDowell Spurns Ludlow Inquiry
IT 02/10/06 DPP To Get File On Cork Moneylaundering Inquiry
DI 02/09/06 Opin: Sitting On Rear, Ian, Just Ain’t Option
DI 02/09/06 Opin: Council Motion Reflects Reality
IT 02/10/06 Bishop Casey Regrets 'Grave Hurt'
IT 02/10/06 Galway Animation Firm Gets 3 Emmy Nominations
DI 02/09/06 McAleese To Visit Saudis
IE 02/10/06 Brooklyn Remembers Bloody Sunday
IA 02/10/06 NY Irish Consulate To Mark 1916


Govt Urged To Reject British Control Of Finucane Murder

09/02/2006 - 19:00:43

The Irish Government must strongly reject a British bid to
control an inquiry into the 1989 murder of Belfast
solicitor Pat Finucane, it was claimed today.

The Finucane family were told by Northern Ireland Secretary
of State Peter Hain this week that the only way a probe
could be carried out is under the restrictive Inquiries

Pat Finucane’s son, Michael today told the Oireachtas Human
Rights Sub-Committee in Dublin that this meant that those
who sanctioned and covered up the killing would be
investigating themselves in a sham inquiry.

It would offer neither independence, accountability or
transparency, he added.

“The British will retain ultimate control of the inquiry
mechanism,” he told the all-party body.

“In these circumstances, what one would be getting is an
government-controlled intelligence services inquiry, where
it could transpire that the only people in the room talking
to each other are the very people who created the collusion
monster in the first place, the people who sanctioned the
killings and the people who covered them up afterwards. I
will not participate in such a sham.”

Mr Finucane appeared at the committee in Leinster House
with his brother Dermot and family solicitor, Peter Madden.

Pat Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife and
children in his north Belfast home in February 1989.

The family has spent recent weeks briefing political party
leaders north and south of the Border.

Oireachtas member Labour TD Michael Higgins proposed today
that the Irish Government express concerns in the strongest
manner to Westminster.

“It is beyond a matter of concern. We must recommend to the
Irish Government that formal notice should be given to the
British government that direct action is required to bring
about a independent, public inquiry,” he said.

Seconding the motion, Fianna Fáil TD Pat Carey said he
regarded the British government’s attempts to control the
inquiry as a cynical approach.

“This is a red-line issue in relation to human rights,” he

Mr Carey, who is chairman of the British-Irish
Interparliamentary Body, said he would raise the issue at
the next plenary meeting in Killarney in April.

Independent TD Tony Gregory characterised the proposed
British inquiry as a nonsense.

“We have to get the message across to the British that this
is not acceptable under any circumstances,” he said.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White said she didn’t feel that
the British government would listen to the Oireachtas.

Senator Terry Leyden described Mr Finucane’s murder as a
state-sponsored assassination.


St Pat’s Day showdown

Adams Wants Visa – Reiss Wants SF To Support PSNI


Sinn Féin has revealed that Gerry Adams will apply for a
visa to attend a Friends of Sinn Féin fundraiser in
Washington DC on March 16.

This puts the party on a collision course with Mitchell
Reiss, the United States envoy to the North.

Last November, Washington refused to grant the Belfast West
MP a visa with permission to fundraise so that he could
attend the annual Friends of Sinn Féin gala dinner in New
York. The reason for the refusal was that the Sinn Féin
president refused to make a statement pledging support for
the PSNI.

Mr Adams refused to accept a visa that would have let him
lobby politicians but not fundraise. Instead, he addressed
the New York event by satellite link.

Friends of Sinn Féin said the publicity around the visa
block had helped make the fundraiser one of the most
successful ever, despite the absence of Mr Adams in person.

It was unclear until earlier yesterday whether the Sinn
Féin leader would even head to Washington DC for the St
Patrick’s Day festivities this year.

Last night, Friends of Sinn Féin spokesman Larry Downes
told Daily Ireland that a fundraiser was planned.

“We will be hosting a fundraising event in Washington DC on
16 March, and Gerry Adams will seek a visa to attend,” he

The US government must now decide whether it intends to use
the visa application as another opportunity to strong-arm
Mr Adams into publicly backing the PSNI.

Republican sources say there is no possibility of Mr Adams
letting the White House dictate Sinn Féin’s position on the

This means it will be up to the US envoy Mitchell Reiss to
decide whether or not to once more try to face down Mr

Before a meeting with Mr Reiss last week, Sinn Féin called
on President George W Bush to rein in “anti-Sinn Féin”
elements within the administration, a reference to the


Blair To Hold Talks With SF, DUP

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Tony Blair is due to hold separate talks with Sinn Féin
and DUP delegations led by the Rev Ian Paisley and Gerry
Adams next week, as the British prime minister prepares a
keynote speech to be delivered in Northern Ireland later
this month.

Officials from the DUP and Sinn Féin, which is staging its
ardfheis in Dublin in a week's time, were yesterday trying
to arrange their diaries so that Mr Adams and Dr Paisley
could hold Downing Street talks with Mr Blair, to be held
most likely next Wednesday.

The British and Irish governments have laid down an
effective deadline of the end of this year for re-
establishing devolution but hope that by April, when the
next Independent Monitoring Commission report is published,
the foundations for making real progress will be

A London source described next week's meetings with the DUP
and Sinn Féin as part of the preparatory process for Mr
Blair's Northern Ireland speech.

British officials have been flagging this speech as a
keynote address similar to Mr Blair's "acts of completion"
speech at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners in October
2002, when he insisted political progress could be made
only by the IRA decommissioning and ending activity.

The main focus of his address this time is expected to be
on policing and powersharing: in seeking to wrest
commitments from Sinn Féin to endorse the PSNI, and from
the DUP to fully share power with Sinn Féin in a reinstated
Northern Executive and Assembly.

"In the same way that the prime minister in his Harbour
Commissioners speech detailed what needed to be done to
make political progress, he will be providing an overview
of where we are and where we need to get to in his end of
February speech," the senior London source said.

Meanwhile, the British and Irish governments continue to
work behind the scenes to persuade loyalist paramilitaries
to follow on the actions of the IRA last year by
decommissioning and declaring their armed campaigns over.

While political representatives of the UDA yesterday ruled
out any imminent standing down by the loyalist
organisation, official sources said efforts to achieve the
effective disbandment of these groups were "heading in the
right direction".

Speculation of such announcements were heightened yesterday
with the disclosure that President Mary McAleese's husband,
Martin, held another meeting with loyalist leaders in
Belfast on Wednesday.

The Irish News carried a report and photographs of senior
figures from the UDA and its political group, the Ulster
Political Research Group, leaving the Wellington Park Hotel
in south Belfast after privately meeting Dr McAleese.

Dr McAleese, with the quiet encouragement of the
Government, has held several such meetings with senior
loyalists and this is viewed as part of the careful
outreach by Dublin to convince loyalists to abandon
paramilitarism and criminality.

The North's political development minister, David Hanson,
is engaged in a similar enterprise.

© The Irish Times


Ahern Warns British On Nuclear Plant In North

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern has told the
British government that any move to build a nuclear power
station in Northern Ireland would damage Anglo-Irish

The warning came amid mounting speculation about plans for
new nuclear stations in the wake of an energy review
currently under way in Britain.

Mr Ahern raised the Government's opposition to the
development of any new nuclear power stations during a
meeting with British government representatives last week.

The energy review is widely expected to lead to a decision
by the Labour government to proceed with the construction
of upwards of 10 nuclear power stations.

Sites of new stations are expected to include Sellafield in
Cumbria and northwest Wales. The possibility of a nuclear
power plant in Northern Ireland has not been ruled out

During a meeting in London last week Mr Ahern told the
Northern Secretary Peter Hain that the Government remained
totally opposed to nuclear power.

A spokesman for the Minister said Mr Ahern had "made it
crystal clear to the Secretary of State that any move to
build a nuclear plant in the North would damage relations
between both governments.

"He also said the Government would be strenuously opposed
to any new plants, particularly in Wales and the west coast
of England.

"This is an issue on which he holds very strong views, not
least because he and his constituents have to live with the
pollution and safety threat posed by Sellafield, just a
short distance across the Irish Sea from Dundalk Bay.

"The Minister made it very clear to Mr Hain that the Irish
Government would be vehemently opposed to the building of
any new nuclear plants, which is under consideration as
part of the UK energy review.

There is no doubt that Mr Hain and the British government
understand the outright opposition to nuclear power which
is a cornerstone of Irish Government policy, the spokesman

Last month the British government launched a consultation
paper on the future of British energy policy, warning that
dwindling oil reserves and geopolitical instability gave an
added urgency to formulating a new policy.

Following a consultation period, it will formally announce
its new policy in the early summer.

The British government is officially neutral on the issue
of nuclear power, but the prime minister, Tony Blair, has
indicated his support for new nuclear plants.

© The Irish Times


Irish Soldiers Will Help To Enforce Peace

Conor Lally

Irish troops will participate in peace-enforcing EU
battlegroups in flashpoints around the world under a new
Defence Forces operations programme unveiled yesterday by
Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea.

The decision follows months of negotiations between the
Government and Attorney General regarding legislation
needed to provide for the initiative.

Under the plans Irish troops will be deployed as part of EU
rapid-reaction forces to prevent a recurrence of atrocities
such as the Rwandan genocide.

Sweden is regarded by Dublin as the most suitable
battlegroup partner because of its neutral status. The
current pairing of troops from both nations in the UNMIL
mission in Liberia has proved highly successful.

Mr O'Dea rejected suggestions that Irish neutrality was
being compromised. He said the new plans in no way
contravened the current constitutional prohibition on
engaging in common defence. The "triple-lock" sanction for
overseas deployment would still apply.

"We will participate in each [ battlegroup] operation on a
case-by-case basis. It will be subject to agreement by the
Government, agreement by the Dáil and it will have to be
sanctioned by the United Nations," he said.

The UN had urged EU member states to participate. Ireland
was the 23rd of the 25 member states to agree to take part.
We could not "sit back" and watch other countries take
responsibility for preventing atrocities, Mr O'Dea said

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern echoed Mr O'Dea's comments, saying
in Sligo: "This is not in any way an act of aggression that
would affect our neutrality."

Under the new plans Irish soldiers will join troops from
other EU states in forming a 1,500-strong battlegroup.
Ireland would most likely provide small numbers of
specialists, such as bomb-disposal experts, in the short
term. The maximum number would reach 200 in the period to
2010. These will be deployed at short notice to quell
serious unrest in an effort by the EU to avert major

Our long-term commitment to the battlegroups would be
determined within the confines of having no more than 850
troops overseas at any one time, Mr O'Dea said.

Irish troops have already participated in peace-enforcing
missions. However, under the battlegroup concept they would
be deployed more quickly.

They will enter troubled countries while serious unrest is
still taking place.

They will help secure the peace, allowing for the
subsequent deployment of long-term UN peacekeeping

Mr O'Dea said the battlegroups would be used in
"stabilising a situation, at least until the larger cavalry
arrives further down the road".

New legislation is to be enacted before the summer recess
to allow Irish troops to train abroad. This will enable
Irish troops to train with soldiers from battlegroup
partner states ahead of deployment to trouble-spots.

Officials from the Department of Defence will immediately
open negotiations with Sweden and other Scandinavian states
to find suitable battlegroup partners.

The Defence Forces are also set to take a much more
proactive role in responding to natural disasters, such as
the earthquake in Pakistan or the tsunami.

Mr O'Dea has indicated he plans to amend legislation so
that soldiers can be deployed to help in such disasters.
Currently the Defence Forces depend on soldiers
volunteering for such operations.

© The Irish Times


Minister Gives Two Fingers To Irish Neutrality

Published: 9 February, 2006

Sinn Féin International Affairs spokesperson Aengus Ó
Snodaigh TD has said Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea has
“stuck two fingers up to the Irish people and to all who
value Irish neutrality.” Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking
today after the Minister announced his decision to give the
go ahead for Irish Troops to participate in EU battle

He said, “In making his decision to give the go ahead for
Irish troops to participate in EU battle groups Minister
O’Dea has just stuck two fingers up to the Irish people and
to all who value Irish neutrality.

“Sinn Féin has vehemently opposed the notion of Irish
participation in EU battle groups because of the serious
implications involved for Irish neutrality and for the roll
of the United Nations in international affairs. The purpose
of the battle groups is to serve the interests of Europe’s
military and economic elite. Their existence and operations
will undermine and sideline the United Nations ability to
lead peacekeeping missions.

“A recent study from Finnish and Swedish military experts
on the equipment of EU battle groups confirms Sinn Féin’s
argument that the battle groups are not just about peace

“The Minister must reverse this decision and pursue a
policy of actively promoting UN primacy in all
international missions involving the deployment of any
troops.” ENDS


Opin: Willie O'Dea - Irish Role In Battlegroup Concept Will
Help To Bolster UN

By participating in EU battlegroups, we can play our part
in responding to emerging crises across the globe, writes
Willie O'Dea

Yesterday, at McKee Barracks, I announced the Government's
intention to begin talks with like-minded countries on our
participation in the EU's rapid response/battlegroup

Like many others, I find the term "battlegroup"
unfortunate. It has connotations that some will exploit to
raise baseless fears.

Nonetheless, it is the underlying concept we should focus
on, not the word itself, which is essentially a technical
military term for a rapidly deployable force, usually of
battalion size.

The underlying concept is clear. The European Union, in
advancing the aims of the United Nations and the UN
Charter, must play its part in responding speedily to
emerging crises across the globe.

This can be done by providing humanitarian relief and,
where required, military support for the maintenance of
international peace and security.

The development of the EU battlegroup concept has the full
support of the United Nations, with the the UN secretary
general, Kofi Annan, being one of its firmest and most
ardent proponents.

In his address to the forum on Europe in Dublin Castle on
October 14th, 2004, Mr Annan specifically stressed how
important strengthened EU capacities, in particular rapid
deployment, are to the UN.

In his March 2005 report on UN reform, In Larger Freedom,
he called on the international community to support the
efforts by the European Union, the African Union and others
to establish such standby units as part of an interlocking
system of peacekeeping capacities.

More recently, all member states of the UN recognised the
important contribution to peace and security made by
regional organisations in the Outcome document of the World
Summit, held in New York in September 2005.

Indeed they specifically endorsed the efforts of the EU to
develop capacities "such as for rapid deployment, standby
and bridging arrangements" - the kind of tasks intended to
be undertaken by battlegroups.

Ireland has been, and remains, a staunch supporter of the
charter of the United Nations and of the primacy of the
Security Council in the maintenance of international peace
and security. We take very seriously our obligation under
the charter to make armed forces, assistance and
facilities, available to the Security Council in order to
contribute to international peace support operations.

In the past two decades we have seen some of the worst
atrocities in man's history.

The horrendous carnage in Rwanda and at Srebrenica not only
appalled and shocked us, it brought home how powerless and
ineffective the international community was in the face of
such barbarity.

The failure to act was not the failure of the United
Nations as an institution. It was the collective failure of
civilised nations to act together - rapidly, speedily and
effectively in defence of the world's poorest and most
vulnerable peoples.

We, in the EU, now have a wide range of instruments at our
disposal to support conflict prevention, crisis management
and reconstruction. These include political, diplomatic,
economic and security means. It is important that we bring
all these to bear in a co-ordinated and effective manner.

We have, in the EU battlegroups, the capacity to intervene
and to speedily deploy a temporary force into a developing
situation and to prevent it from escalating into a
catastrophe happening.

The decision to enter into discussions with like-minded
nations on participation in a battlegroup was not taken

All the issues involved, legal, operational and policy have
been studied and considered in detail over the past year.

The special interdepartmental group I established to
examine these issues reported to me in November last year.

Since then, its report has been considered by the Cabinet
Sub-Committee on European Affairs and, informally, by the

Our decision to participate may draw criticism from various
quarters. Some will see it as a step too far and claim it
risks our policy of military neutrality, while others will
accuse us of not going far enough and chide us for
retaining the "triple-lock" of UN, Government and Dáil

These criticisms are contradictory. It is our adherence to
the triple-lock mechanism that expresses our commitment to
military neutrality and the United Nations.

There are those who will attack it, not on the basis of
what we are doing or the arguments underpinning it. Rather
they will try to whip up baseless fears.

Nothing in what we propose constitutes a "European army" in
any shape, make or form. It does not herald conscription or
the militarisation of the EU.

It certainly imposes no obligations in relation to
international or multilateral defence.

The principles of multilateralism, military neutrality and
commitment to the United Nations that have existed since we
joined the United Nations just over 50 years ago remain as
potent and central now as they ever have.

The triple-lock of UN, Government and Dáil approval will
continue. Participation of our troops in individual
missions will be decided by our own national decision-
making process, on a case-by-case basis. A UN mandate will
be a pre-requisite for our participation in any battlegroup
peace support operation, just as it is now.

Battlegroups are simply another vehicle within which
Ireland can continue to play its role and contribute to
effective multilateral action in support of international
peace and security.

They are one further way of expressing our commitment to
the UN and its principles.

Today, the UN is asking us to continue to make the
expertise, and commitment of our Defence Forces available
to them, including through the EU battlegroups.

Not to do so would be to depart from our traditional policy
of full support to the UN.

• Willie O'Dea is Minister for Defence

© The Irish Times


Official Council Vote For United Ireland

Unionists in Tyrone react angrily to motion during heated

By Connla Young

A County Tyrone council has become the first local
authority in the North to declare its official support for
Irish unity.

The historical decision was taken during Omagh District
Council’s February meeting held earlier this week after a
motion was tabled by Sinn Féin.

Unionists who sit on the nationalist-controlled council
reacted angrily to the motion during a heated debate on
Tuesday night.

The controversial motion was eventually carried by nine
votes to six.

It is understood one SDLP councillor failed to show up for
the unity motion showdown, while the party’s remaining two
councillors left the chamber before the motion was debated.

West Tyrone MLA, Barry McElduff, said: “Omagh District
Council has, as one corporate voice, asked the Taoiseach to
appoint a minister of state to drive forward a united
Ireland agenda and have the matter referred to a joint
committee of the Oireachtas.

“Despite having formal notice of the motion none of the
SDLP’s councillors were present for the motion debate. Two
of the councillors left the chamber before the motion
debate commenced. I hope this doesn’t indicate a return by
the SDLP to their post nationalist policy because at
leadership level the party is expressly in favour of a
unity Ireland.

“We would like the SDLP and Fianna Fáil to accompany us in
this journey because it is about bringing about a unity
Ireland. I am pleased that a local authority has spoken out
and declared for a united Ireland.

“For years unionists have called on republicans to go down
a democratic road. What can be more democratic than a
council vote like this? This message will undoubtedly be
reinforced when this motion is debated in Strabane District
Council next Tuesday.

“We can no longer be treated as second-class Irish citizens
in our own country and the primary onus is on An Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern and his administration to bring us into a new
era of equality and to begin to take a lead in planning for

Omagh SDLP councillor Josephine Deehan said her party fully
supported the aspiration of a united Ireland. However, the
councillor refused to say if she would have supported the
Sinn Féin motion if she had remained in the debating

“If I had been there I would have considered carefully the
debate and then considered matters in accordance with party
policy and my own conscience. Sinn Féin are in the habit of
bringing motions to the council which are in my view
divisive and unhelpful.

“I can only speak for myself, I had to leave the meeting
early, it was nothing to do with the Sinn Féin motion. The
SDLP have a clear policy. We are a nationalist party and
aspire to a united Ireland through peaceful means built
through consensus.”

It is expected that Strabane District Council will follow
their Omagh colleagues by supporting the Irish unity motion
when it is raised at next week’s monthly meeting.


• This Council welcomes the fact the Irish Unity is now the
stated objective of all nationalist parties on the island
of Ireland including the present Irish government

• This Council therefore believes that An Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern TD has a unique responsibility in giving practical
expression to his administration’s and nationalist
Ireland’s stated objective on the issue by immediately
commissioning a Green Paper on Irish Unity: a paper
focusing on the compelling logic of this outcome in
political, social and economic terms as well as spelling
out what pro-active strategy his government is going to
undertake in pursuance of the stated objective of
nationalist Ireland.

• This Council further calls on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
TD to an initiate a holistic consultation process amongst
all sectors of society north and south to assist in the
formulation of a Green Paper.

• This Council further calls on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
TD to give immediate effect to the Constitution’s
recognition of the entitlement of every person born on the
island of Ireland to be part of the Irish nation by
legislating for: six county representation in Dáil Éireann,
the right of people in the six counties to vote in national
referenda on articles of the Constitution and the right to
vote in Presidential elections.

• This Council communicates the above requests in writing
to An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD.


Robinson Claims: Curistan Comes Out Fighting


Leading Belfast businessman Peter Curistan has hit back
robustly after controversial remarks about him were made
under privilege in the House of Commons yesterday by the
DUP’s Peter Robinson.

Dr Curistan is Chairman of the successful Sheridan Group,
which has a range of interests in the city and beyond –
notably the state-of-the-art Odyssey entertainment complex
in east Belfast. Dr Curistan said he entirely refuted what
he called “the groundless and highly offensive allegations”
made by the east Belfast MP. And he invited Mr Robinson to
repeat the allegations outside the Commons without the
legal protection that Parliament provides.

“There is no foundation whatsoever for these allegations,”
said Dr Curistan last night, “and they should be seen for
what they are – a manifest abuse of Parliamentary
privilege. If Mr Robinson has any evidence to support these
allegations I challenge him to repeat the allegations
outside Parliament.”

Dr Curistan told Daily Ireland he was proud of the central
part that the Sheridan Group has played in the rapid
redevelopment of Belfast in recent years and rejected the
explicit allegations made by Mr Robinson.

“The Sheridan Group has a proud reputation for developments
in Belfast and further afield, it has been a driver of
regenerative projects which have helped transform the face
of Belfast. I find it deeply offensive that my efforts to
create a better social and economic environment for the
people of Belfast should be tarnished in this way.

“I can state categorically that the Sheridan Group has no
connection or affiliation with any political party, nor has
it funded, or acted as a funding conduit for, any political
party, and particularly not for any paramilitary

Dr Curistan said he had initiated legal proceedings, which
are ongoing, against a Dublin newspaper for making similar
allegations about him and he rejected Mr Robinson’s claims
that the Sheridan Group was benefiting from British
Government largesse.

“The Sheridan Group has not received, nor does it expect to
receive, any financial support from Government. All its
developments have been undertaken from within its own
resources – there has been no input from public sources. In
the case of the Quays development, to which Mr Robinson has
specifically referred, the Sheridan Group was awarded
preferred developer status by Laganside Corporation on the
strength of its proposals and its outstanding track record
for the delivery of innovative projects. Funding for this
development, as for all others, will come from the Group’s
resources. There will be no Government financial
intervention. On the contrary, the Sheridan Group will pay
Laganside Corporation a significant sum for the sites in

“I therefore call on Mr Robinson either to substantiate his
allegations in circumstances where they can be challenged,
or to withdraw them.”


Sinn Féin Could Bypass Royal Oath, Says Tory

Frank Millar London Editor

The Conservative Party's Northern Ireland spokesman has
said the Westminster parliament might need to consider
offering elected republican MPs - whether Irish or
otherwise - an alternative to the traditional oath swearing
allegiance to the British monarch.

However, David Lidington last night stressed his clear
understanding that such a development would have no bearing
on the position of Sinn Féin MPs.

And he made clear that any change would have to take place
in the context of the United Kingdom as a whole, and could
only come about - if at all - following extensive cross-
party consultations at Westminster.

Mr Lidington clarified his position following an interview
on BBC Radio Foyle in which he was asked what his attitude
would be if Sinn Féin dropped its abstentionist policy, so
leaving the oath the only obstacle to the party's MPs
taking their seats in the House of Commons.

Having frequently questioned Sinn Féin members about
precisely this issue, Mr Lidington said he understood that
scrapping or amending the oath would make no difference
because Sinn Féin objected to the exercise of British
jurisdiction in Northern Ireland and were therefore
abstentionists in principle.

When pressed for his view on the oath in the event of Sinn
Féin dropping the policy of abstentionism, as it had done
for both the Dáil and Stormont, Mr Lidington said that the
issue should then be re-examined and suggested an
additional alternative form of words might be found for
republicans wishing to take their seats but unable to swear
the oath.

The issue of the oath, and possible variations offered to
MPs, may now be referred to the Democracy Task Force,
established by Conservative leader David Cameron earlier
this week.

© The Irish Times


McDowell Critical Of 'Agenda-Setting' Role Of Media

Carol Coulter, Legal Affairs Correspondent

Public service broadcast journalism is in danger of
losing its way as the educator of public opinion, according
to the Minister for Justice. He said certain broadcasters
were seeking to play an "agenda-setting" role rather than
reporting in an objective and impartial way.

Michael McDowell was giving the 10th annual lecture on
"Broadcasting, Society and the Law", presented jointly by
RTÉ and UCD's School of Law. He is the first Irish person
to do so, with previous speakers including the former
British lord chancellor, Lord Irvine, and the Canadian
Supreme Court judge, Louise Arbour.

In guaranteeing freedom of expression, the Constitution
states that the education of public opinion is the
legitimate function of the media, he said. It also makes
clear that "criticism of Government policy" is different
from undermining "the authority of the State".

The position of the media in the Constitution means that
the media has both rights and duties. Among its duties is
to educate public opinion, and to uphold the rights of
citizens, including the right to privacy and a good name.
They also include upholding public order and morality and
the authority of the State.

"The State, I think, has a correlative right to prevent the
'commodification' of the media to the point where they lose
out on their role as educators of public opinion or in
their capacity to function as organs of public opinion," he

"In short, there is I think a constitutional mandate for
the State to remain a significant guarantor through public
service broadcasting of the media role as organs of public
opinion, if not, in Seán Lemass's memorable if unfortunate
phrase, 'organs of government'," he said.

He added that there was an equal constitutional mandate for
a policy of diverse media ownership.

The rightful liberty to broadcast criticism of government
policy did not imply a right to ignore or qualify a
statutory and constitutional duty of political neutrality
and objectivity, he said.

From this perspective, he questioned "agenda-setting",
"campaigning journalism" and "investigative reporting" by
State media and State-licensed media.

"Is the choice of subject matter for 'campaigns' and
'agenda-setting' on issues of current affairs a matter on
which there must also be impartiality and objectivity?" he

"There are signs that a minority of journalists and
programme makers have decided that they want to be
political players - that their legal obligations of
impartiality and objectivity are boring, outdated, style-
cramping counsels of perfection. There are signs that some
of them want to be agenda-setters."

He said that there was no simple answer to this, but he
advocated a position between random selection of topics for
investigation on the one hand, and having broadcasters
completely free to campaign on issues chosen personally and
subjectively, representing their own ideological or
political priorities, on the other.

© The Irish Times


McDowell Spurns Ludlow Inquiry


A public inquiry into the murder of a Dundalk forestry
worker 30 years ago could pose serious constitutional
difficulties, an Oireachtas subcommittee heard yesterday.

Séamus Ludlow (47) was shot dead as he walked home from the
pub on May 2, 1976. The gardaí failed to follow up on
subsequent information from the Royal Ulster Constabulary
that four named loyalists were responsible.

Justice minister Michael McDowell told the Oireachtas
subcommittee on justice that the subcommittee members would
have to consider whether it was appropriate to set up the
public inquiry being demanded by the Ludlow family.

“There are serious constitutional issues directed at
whether someone did or did not commit a crime five, ten or
30 years later,” he said.

“It still doesn’t follow that it would be lawful for the
state to set up an inquiry, in effect to mimic a criminal

The justice subcommittee is examining the report of Judge
Henry Barron, who found there had been serious deficiencies
in the way gardaí dealt with the Ludlow murder

Minister McDowell apologised to the Ludlow family, who were
present at the hearing yesterday, for the inadequate state

“On the basis of the findings of the Barron report, the
Ludlow family undoubtedly has a sound basis for feeling
aggrieved at a number of events surrounding the murder,
including events relating to the interview of suspects and
the original coroner’s inquest,” he said.


DPP To Get File On Cork Moneylaundering Inquiry

Gardaí will send a file to the Director of Public
Prosecutions next week following their investigation into
the alleged laundering of almost £5 million which they
believe was part of the £26.5 million stolen in the
Northern Bank raid in December 2004, writes Barry Roche,
Southern Correspondent.

According to Garda sources, the file arising out of
Operation Phoenix is virtually complete and will be
forwarded to the DPP next week for a decision on what
charges are to follow as a result of an intensive 12-month-
long investigation.

The detailed file comprises a lengthy covering report of
more than 100 pages as well as almost 200 Garda statements
and a further 200 civilian statements in what is believed
to be one of the most exhaustive investigations conducted
by An Garda Síochána.

Up to 100 gardaí, including many from the Criminal Assets
Bureau, the Special Detective Unit, Crime and Security, the
Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Garda Computer
Analysis Unit were involved in the operation at various

The lengthy investigation also involved forensic experts
from the Garda Technical Bureau as well as local officers
from Cork city, Cork west divisions as well as local
officers in other parts of the country who were involved in
follow-up operations to the initial raids.

According to Garda sources, the extensive file is likely to
receive lengthy consideration by the DPP and could lead to
a number of people being charged with both membership of an
illegal organisation and with money-laundering offences.

Garda sources say they are hopeful that the file will lead
to charges being brought for money laundering but point out
that for such charges to be successful, a clear link must
be made with the original offence, namely the Northern Bank

Following the case of a 41-year-old man convicted in Dublin
Circuit Criminal Court in 1999 of money-laundering, the
Court of Criminal Appeal ruled in 2002 that the State must
clearly prove beyond reasonable doubt that the money at
issue in such cases is the proceeds of crime.

Details of the investigation first came to light on
February 17th, 2005 when officers from Cab, backed up by
local detectives, raided the home of a financial adviser in
Farran, Co Cork, and recovered £2.4 million which they
believe are proceeds of the Northern Bank raid.

Gardaí believe that the £2.4 million seized in Farran was
part of a £4.9 million share of the Northern Bank raid
proceeds sent to Cork by the Provisional IRA for laundering
through a series of schemes operated on its behalf and for
its benefit.

Officers believe that the financial adviser had already
dispersed about £1 million through a variety of outlets
prior to the Garda raid, including an estimated £230,000 to
a well-known republican activist living in the Cork Harbour

This republican had also collected a further £1.5 million
from the financial adviser for further dispersal but when
news of the Garda raid in Farran broke at around lunch-hour
on February 17th, 2005, this activist gave the money to
another man for safe-keeping.

Gardaí estimate they have recovered or located all but
approximately £200,000 of the £3.4 million that is

During the investigation 11 people were arrested.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Sitting On Your Rear, Ian, Just Ain’t An Option

Jude Collins


For politics operating at the daft level, the DUP take some
beating. On television they show how reasonable they’ve
become by sitting in the same studio as their political
opponents, which gives you some idea of the low base of
rational behaviour they’re coming from. On the policy front
they show the freshness of their thinking by proposing
(whack the drums there, Billy) rolling devolution. Under
their moral care, the body politic will be kept unsullied,
the door barred against republican intrustion until… well,
certainly not until General John de Chastelain and the IICD
have given republicans a clean bill of health, because that
has already happened.

Not even until the IMC has given republicans a clean bill
of health, because Mr Paisley has made it very clear that
if the IMC comes up with something different from what he
wants, they’ll be ignored, the same way the IICD was
ignored. So when will the DUP decide that the
representatives of most nationalists in the North are
sufficiently pure to be allowed near the body politic?
Around the Twelfth of Never, I’d say. Left to their own
devices, the DUP will go into partnership with Sinn Féin a
fortnight after holy water fonts become standard equipment
in Orange lodges and Sammy Wilson starts sunbathing with
his nether bits hid.

So let’s park that little issue right now. The DUP are not
power-sharers, except maybe with nationalist politicians
who raise their glass, take oaths of allegiance to HMQE2
and know their place, and that particular breed gets
scarcer every election.

So what to do?

Well, we could do what the DUP say we should, and declare
the GFA dead. All bets off. That’d mean the re-instatement
of Articles 2 and 3 in the South, the increased prospect of
fresh paramilitary violence and the presence of even more
armed men from the island next door than at present are
encamped here. Not a pretty prospect.

Alternatively, nationalists might accept that the devolved
government part of the Good Friday Agreement has been
locked by DUP obstructionism and turn their attention to
the other parts of the Good Friday Agreement over which Mr
Paisley cannot squat.

In the brouhaha about Stormont and its restoration, it’s
easy to forget that the GFA has other significant parts,
such as the all-Ireland dimension. When the Dublin and
London governments put their pen to the 1998 document, they
committed themselves to developing cross-border bodies in a
range of areas. So have you noticed these bodies changing
your life much over the past eight years? No, me neither.

Education is a nice instance. In the North people are
fretting at the prospect of university students having to
take on a £3,000 (€4,327) annual debt in fees alone. In the
South, people are fretting over what school league tables
will do to the education of their children. The North’s
system and the South’s system spin and clank and clatter
on, side by side, virtually free of contact, learning
nothing from each other.

What’s true of schools and universities is true of the
teaching profession as well. The skills and understanding
needed to cope with classes of young people are the same
north and south of the border, yet eight years after the
signing of the GFA there is no co-operation, much less co-
ordination of initial teacher training or in-service.

Common sense says the two systems have much to learn from
each other, but no serious effort has been made to see that
it happens. It’s not just the MLAs that should have their
salaries docked. Those responsible for the non-delivery of
GFA commitments in education and other areas should feel
the displeasure of the people they are cheating, and be
told to shift into action mode at top speed.

British secretaries of state and British prime ministers
like to talk about the need to establish trust before any
progress can be made. Trust schmust. What’s needed are SoSs
and PMs to introduce consequences, not trust.

None of us are trusted to avoid being in a drink-driving
situation. The cops get out their with breathalysers, they
flag you down, and if you’re caught you’ll be sorry. No
trust involved – just consequences. Ditto if you shoplift,
or embezzle or assault. If we try such tricks and are
caught, we’ll end up being very sorry for what we did.

So it’s time the two governments accepted that appeals to
politicians’ good nature is a waste of time. It certainly
hasn’t worked with the DUP, and it won’t work. Every day
since the IRA decommissioned its weapons, it’s becoming
increasingly clear to everyone that the true barrier to
political progress is the DUP.

Peter Hain says the clock is ticking; Paisley says they
won’t be rushed into anything and thinks he can get away
with it. And so he will, if the British and Irish
governments don’t make clear that continuing to sit on
their backsides will leave the DUP with some painful
political haemorrhoids.

After last Monday’s meeting, the British and Irish
governments declared that they will be pressing for
political progress by April. Good. The South’s enterprise
minister Micheál Martin recently declared that the British
and Irish governments are committed to economically
transforming the north-west border area of Ireland. Good.
Given that the Good Friday Agreement was signed eight years
ago, progress and transformation should have happened long
ago, but let’s not dwell on the the failures of the past.

What’s needed now, as Donegal councillor Pearse Doherty
says, is follow-through. The Irish and British governments
must work together so that Derry and its natural Donegal
hinterland can maximise their potential. Partition has
penalised Donegal perhaps more than any other county in
Ireland; it’s past time that county was given some of the
Celtic Tiger benefits enjoyed to excess by so many in the

Similarly, if political progress is to be made, the Irish
and British governments will have to indicate, by deed as
well as word, that DUP stalling comes at a price. Left to
themselves, Paisley and company will go on inventing
excuses for turning representatives of nationalists away
from the exercise of power.

What the DUP must be helped learn is that actions, or in
this case inactions, have consequences. You want to sit on
your bum? Fine. The Good Friday Agreement contains a lot of
stuff about cross-border co-operation, so this is what it
looks like when we take it seriously. You still want to sit
on your bum? Fine. Local exericse of power doesn’t have to
happen at Stormont - we’ve got seven, maybe six
supercouncils lined up which’ll allow the great majority of
nationalists to elect representatives who have access to
real power at a local level, and there’ll be nothing you
can do about it.

Sitting on your bum is fine, if everyone and everything
around you is frozen in response to your inaction. Sitting
on your bum watching the border become increasingly blurred
and big sections of the map turn increasingly green may
prove a lot less fine. In fact it’ll be so unfine, you'll
begin to really regret not having shifted your arse while
there still was a chance.

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


Daily Ireland Editorial

Opin: Council Motion Reflects An Achievable Reality

Editor: Colin O’Carroll


If we can’t bring ourselves to laugh out loud, then we can
at least allow ourselves a wry smile at the fact that
unionists aren’t happy that Sinn Féin are to propose a
number of motions in councils throughout the North seeking
to make support for a united Ireland official council
policy. Already, the motion has been passed by Omagh
Council and it stands a good chance of being similarly
successful, or at least coming close, in a number of other
councils where Sinn Féin is strong.

Predictably, unionists and their allies have alleged that
the initiative is nothing more than mischief-making and
will only complicate an already difficult political

We warmly welcome this development because it’s high time
that non-republicans were made to understand that the
desire for a united Ireland is not some dreamy Celtic
twilight fantasy, but a hard-nosed and realistic political
objective that’s not only achievable but desirable.

Many of the councils that will vigorously oppose not only
the motion but the audacity of republicans in proposing it
are bastions of British army adventurism.

Those who are complaining most loudly about the damage to
political relations that the united Ireland motion might
cause have maintained a steely silence down through the
years about the damage to political relations caused by the
unionists’ chronic failure to acknowledge, much less engage
with, any creed other than their own.

Where the word mischief might well prove a little more
accurate apropos of this issue is in how it will put the
SDLP on the spot over its shiny new republican credentials.

In Omagh, one SDLP councillor failed to show for the vote,
while the party’s remaining two councillors left the
chamber before the vote was taken.

It seems clear that Sinn Féin want to leave the SDLP
floundering in the no-man’s-land between the party
leadership’s new-found enthusiasm for a united Ireland and
the rather more conservative and small ‘n’ nationalism of
the majority of the party’s grass roots.

This latest spat comes hard on the heels of a concerted
attack on President Mary McAleese after she dared to claim
the men and women of 1916 as heroes, describing them as
“our Davids to their Goliaths”.

Those same people who are complaining loudest about the
Omagh motion are now warning darkly of the divisive effect
that a 1916 military commemoration in Dublin would have on
Northern politics.

This is an interesting point. Perhaps they’d like to tell
us more about it – if they can find time that is, between
celebrating the Battle of the Diamond, the Battle of
Garvagh, the Battle of Dolly’s Brae, the Relief of Derry
and the Battle of the Boyne, to name just a few of their
extravagant, colourful and non-divisive pageants.


Bishop Casey Regrets 'Grave Hurt'

Former bishop Éamonn Casey of Galway relaxed at his new
home in Shanaglish, Co Galway, last night after a brief
press conference in which he apologised for the "grave
hurt" he caused in the past, write Lorna Siggins, Gordon
Deegan, and Patsy McGarry.

"I'm in the sitting-room of my new home. I'm tired, but I'm
glad it's over," he told The Irish Times. Parishioners last
night greeted his arrival with fireworks.

Dr Casey (78) drove into the village after 4pm and later,
with Fr Paddy Callanan of Beagh parish and Fr Martin Glynn
of Galway Cathedral parish, he read a statement.

"I am very pleased to be back in Ireland and I would like
to express my appreciation to the people of Shanaglish,
especially you, parish priest [ Fr Callanan], and my bishop
[ Dr Martin Drennan], for the warm welcome. I look forward
to settling down here amongst the people of Shanaglish and
look forward to getting to know them as my neighbours," he

"I regret that in the past I let a number of people down.
This caused grave hurt to some and for that I am deeply
regretful and sad. I now ask for privacy as I settle down
in my new parish and amongst my own people," he said. He
then turned away, declining to answer questions.

There were toasts in Whelan's pub, Shanaglish, last night
to welcome the bishop, who delivered his statement before
most parishioners had heard of his arrival.

"I'd love to have been there to shake his hand, but I am
delighted he is here now," said Gerry Murray.

Publican Michael Whelan, one of two parishioners at the
press event, said: "He seems very pleased and happy to be

Séamus Clandillon, the other local man there, said: "It is
time the press stopped hounding him and allowed him live
his life."

© The Irish Times


Galway-Based TV Animation Firm Gets 3 Emmy Nominations

Fiona Gartland

A television production company based in Galway has been
nominated for three Daytime Emmy Awards for its animation

Telegael Media Group received the nominations from the
American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for three
animation series, which the company co-produced. The
nominations were announced in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

The company's work on Tutenstein was nominated in the
category of outstanding special class animated programme.
Toddworld was nominated for outstanding children's
animation programme and the Pet Alien series was nominated
in the category of outstanding performer in an animated

Established in 1989, Telegael co-produces, co-develops and
co-finances television, animation and live action
programming for the international market. It employs 40
full-time and 150 part time staff and is based in Spiddal,
Co Galway. The company already has one Emmy, awarded in
2004, for Tutenstein.

Paul Cummins, chief executive officer of Telegael Media
Group, said everyone was delighted with the news. "The
nominations are a huge honour for the company and a credit
to the talent of our staff," he said.

Tutenstein, co-produced with American company Porchlight
Entertainment, tells the story of a 10-year-old boy mummy
brought back to life in a modern museum. It currently airs
on RTÉ's Den TV. A second series of the programme is
currently under production in the Spiddal studios.

Toddworld is not currently available in Ireland but has
been shown on most major broadcasters in America.

The Daytime Emmy Awards will take place on April 28th.

© The Irish Times


McAleese To Visit Saudis


President McAleese will depart on an official visit to
Saudi Arabia and a state visit to Jordan on Saturday.

The president is due to deliver the keynote address at the
seventh Jeddah Economic Forum, one of the Middle East’s
most important annual gatherings of world leaders,
government officials, academics and business leaders.

This two-day visit will also include a courtesy call on His
Majesty King Abdullah and a meeting with Saudi business-

On Monday, President McAleese will arrive in Jordan to
begin a three-day state visit at the invitation of their
Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.

This visit will commence with a number of ceremonial events
including a formal welcome ceremony at Basman Palace, a
visit to the Martyrs’ Monument and a State dinner hosted by
the King and Queen. The President will also address the
Royal Jordanian Parliament and meet with the Prime Minister
of Jordan.

Other events on the President’s programme will include a
number of Irish community receptions and visits to the King
Hussein Cancer Centre and the World Heritage Site at Petra.

President McAleese will have the opportunity to support
Irish trade in the Gulf region at a number of Enterprise
Ireland business events. A trade mission of over 40
companies will accompany the president on her visit along
with government ministers.


Brooklyn Remembers Bloody Sunday

By Ray O'Hanlon

The Irish of Brooklyn will gather this Sunday to remember
the dead of Derry. The 34th annual Bloody Sunday memorial
Mass and march is set for Sunset Park on Sunday, Feb. 12.

The event commemorates the 13 Derry civil rights
demonstrators who died after being gunned down by the
British Army on Bloody Sunday, Jan. 30, 1972.

A fourteenth person wounded in the shootings died weeks

The march steps off promptly at 12:30 p.m. from 58th St.
and 4th Avenue in Sunset Park, and will proceed to Our Lady
of Perpetual Help Basilica for a 1 p.m. mass.

The homilist will be Father Colm Campbell, a native of
Derry. The mass will be celebrated by Father Sean
McGillicuddy, the pastor.

A reception will be held afterwards at the Irish Haven,
5721 4th Avenue.

Participants are being asked to remember all those lost in
the troubles, to pray for a lasting peace in Northern
Ireland and to call for justice for the Bloody Sunday
victims and the families that survive them.

The deaths 34 years ago occurred when soldiers in the
British Army's Parachute Regiment opened fire on a Northern
Ireland Civil Rights Association march.

A British inquiry into the shootings exonerated the
regiment and this led to years of protest and calls for a
new inquiry.

One was convened after being ordered by British prime
minister Tony Blair in 1998. It is now entering its final

The Brooklyn commemoration is organized by the Bay Ridge
Irish American Action Association and has been held each
year since 1972.

For details contact Martin Brennan at (718)836-4178, or Mary Nolan at (718)833-3405.

This story appeared in the issue of February 8 - 14, 2006


Consulate To Mark 1916

THE Irish Consulate in New York will commemorate the
anniversary of the 1916 Rising with a series of lectures,
organized in conjunction with a number of Irish groups
throughout the city.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern has given his
approval to public recognition of the Rising. Last December
Ahern said, “The government wants next Easter to be an
expression of our pride as a nation in all those who took
part in the Rising and the subsequent War of Independence.

“The government also wish to have a major commemoration of
the 100th anniversary in 2016, and the 90th anniversary is
a suitable point at which to commence planning for it.”

As Ahern also said he wants the commemorations to include
Irish around the globe, the consulate has organized a
number of lectures to mark the occasion.

On Monday, April 10, Dr. Martin Mansergh, an Irish
Parliament senator and historian of note, will speak at
Manhattan’s Pace University.

The following day, a lunchtime panel discussion will be
held at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. This
will be aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at Irish studies
students from the many universities in the tri-state area
with Irish studies programs. Dr. Maureen Murphy, Hofstra
University, will act as moderator. The panel will also
include a number of academics and historians from North
America and Ireland who are experts on the period.

On Wednesday, April 12, New York University, with the
support of Glucksman Ireland House, will host the last
lecture to be delivered by Professor Joe Lee, formerly of
University College Cork and now at NYU.

The consulate will provide more details on the lectures in
the coming weeks.

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