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February 04, 2006

Loyalists Attack Home As Wife & Daughter Sleep

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 02/04/06 Loyalist Attack Home As Wife & Daughter Sleep
SF 02/04/06 Talks Must Be To Restore Political Institutions
BT 02/04/06 Feile An Phobail Hit By Funding Crisis
BB 02/04/06
DUP Withdraws From Police Board If SF Joins
UT 02/04/06 Robinson:'Belfast Agreement Is Dead'
IN 02/04/06 Shared Power Lingers As DUP Holds Conference
IN 02/04/06 ‘Viable Device’ Found Behind Police Station
IN 02/04/06 Statement Concerns In Wright Inquiry
IN 02/04/06 Symbols To Be Removed ‘To Aid Relations’
BN 02/04/06 Ireland Shares Worst Cocaine In Europe Title
DI 02/03/06 Mayo 5 Tells Shell – ‘You Won’t Buy Us’
NH 02/04/06 Opin: Shoddy And Flimsy Report
IN 02/04/06 Opin: Everything In Garden Is Far From Rosy
BT 02/04/06 Opin: Godfathers: They Still Pull The Strings
BT 02/04/06 Opin: A Complete Ban Is The Only Course
EE 02/04/06 Tax Incentives Will Lure Hollywood Producers
BN 02/04/06 Irish Prisoners To Be Given Postal Vote
BN 02/04/06 Irish Ice Sculptors Win Latvian Competition
KM 02/04/06 Ardfert GAA’s Grand Plan Is Grounded

(Poster’s Note: Another incentive for Sinn Fein: “
DUP Withdraws From Police Board If SF Joins” Jay)


Loyalist ‘Cowards’ Attack Home As Wife And Daughter Sleep

North - West News
By Seamus McKinney

A DERRY man has claimed a bomb attack on his home as his
wife and 10-year-old daughter were sleeping was the work of
loyalist paramilitaries. The attack happened at around
12.30am yesterday in the usually quiet Benview estate in
Coshquin on the outskirts of the city, just yards from the
Donegal border.

Jimmy Poole (45) claimed it was the latest episode in an
ongoing campaign of harassment by loyalists from the Nelson
Drive area of Derry.

He declined to detail the nature of the campaign but
stressed that the attack was not politically-motivated.

The area around Mr Poole’s home remained sealed off
throughout yesterday morning as British army bomb disposal
officers and police forensic officers carried out a search.

He said he had been sitting in the living room when he saw
a “bright orange flash and heard a bang”.

“Then I heard the glass falling in... I put my boots on and
came outside to have a look and saw the screw cap of the
device,” he said.

While the bomb blew away part of a wall, Mr Poole said the
consequences could have been a lot worse, because a
Venetian blind had stopped the window being blown in on top
of his wife Patricia, who was in bed.

He said his 10-year-old daughter slept through the ordeal
but that neighbours reported hearing the loud bang.

Mr Poole said it was the second time loyalists had singled
him out, having been assaulted last August.

“I’ve been here a lifetime, 45 years. I was born here – I’m
not leaving,” he said.

Mr Poole added that he had an idea of the identity of the
men responsible, who he described as “cowards”.

The attack provoked an angry response from politicians and

Sinn Fein’s Billy Page said those responsible had “sent
terror” into a mixed and close-knit community.

SDLP councillor Sean Carr said those responsible were
“beneath contempt”.


Adams - Objective Of Talks Must Be To Restore The Political
Institutions Within A Short Time-Frame

Published: 4 February, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP will today address the
National Conference of Ógra Shinn Féin, the party's youth
organisation, which is meeting in Dublin City centre. Mr.
Adams praised their efforts across a range of campaigns and
issues; commended their campaign on suicide awareness and
prevention which they are now commencing; described them as
the future of Sinn Fein. The Sinn Fein leader also revealed
that the Minister of Health Mary Harney has yet to formal
reply to repeated requests from him to meet on the issue of
suicide prevention.

But the bulk of his remarks were directed at the DUP whose
party conference is being held in Belfast today.

Reminding his young audience that this weekend 25 years ago
Ian Paisley was on a hillside in North Antrim with 500 men
in military formation waving firearms certificates in the
air Mr. Adams said:

"Today, and in no small part because of the refusal of
republicans to be smashed, the context for Ian Paisley's
conference has changed.

"Sinn Fein rejects any two-tier approach, any two stages
proposition, or British appointed Commissioners to run the

"Another round of talks starts on Monday. The talks cannot
be only for the optics.

"The DUP have to be given the chance to put their ideas to
the rest of us and Sinn Féin will listen attentively and
respectfully to everyone's ideas.

"But the main objective of these talks has to be to end the
suspension of the political institutions within a short

"The two governments have received that very clear message
from us. Now is the time for the two governments to act.
Rhetoric is not enough."

Text of Mr. Adams comments

"I want to deal briefly with the peace process and in
particular with the DUP's attitude to the Good Friday
Agreement. We are Irish republicans, the Good Friday
Agreement is a compromise for us. Republicans should not be
afraid of the idea of making such compromises, it is
essentially a strategic decision by us to advance the
process of change - the process of reconquest - in our
country. Our analysis is a democratic one. The British
government has no right to be in our country. Partition is
immoral; and illegitimate. The British connection, the
Union, needs to be replaced by an entirely new relationship
based on equality.

Unionism is a child of the British connection. It has
depended on force or the threat of force to get its way
since the orange card was first played by British
politicians in the 19th century. No one has mastered that
tactic better than Ian Paisley.

Mr. Paisley's connections with unionist paramilitarism go
back over 40 years and in that time he has, at one time or
another, publicly allied himself to every major unionist
paramilitary group.

When he disagreed with the existing paramilitary groups he
simply went out and formed his own – the Third Force and
subsequently Ulster Resistance are two examples.

Today Ian Paisley will address his party conference in

25 years ago this weekend it was a different setting. On
that occasion Mr. Paisley was standing on a hillside in the
semi-darkness near Ballymena in County Antrim. He was
facing 500 men drawn up in military formation. At the blast
of a whistle they jumped to attention and each displayed
what Ian Paisley described as 'a legally held firearms

When asked what this meant he told the watching
journalists; 'It means that these men hold guns legally and
they are prepared to defend their province and their rights
in the same way as Lord Carson and the men of the UVF were

A few days earlier the DUP leader had launched his Carson
Trail series of rallies and signed a 'covenant' in
imitation of that signed in 1912 by unionists opposed to
Home Rule. Mr. Paisley's 'covenant' committed the
signatories to 'using all means which may be found
necessary' to defend their piece of Ulster.

Today these sort of theatrics will not work. The DUP's
'Smash Sinn Féin' campaign in the 1980's did not work.

Even when Loyalist murder gangs operating in collusion with
British intelligence and the RUC Special Branch gunned down
more than 20 Sinn Féin Councillors, party members and
family members in their efforts to smash Sinn Féin that did
not work. They failed also.

The political conditions have changed and the DUP's ostrich
like approach to this reality will not reverse that.

Today, and in no small part because of the refusal of
republicans to be smashed, the context for Ian Paisley's
conference has changed.

No amount of rhetoric or bombast can disguise that.

Sinn Féin is now the largest nationalist party in the north
– we are the largest pro-Agreement party – we are the
guarantee that there will be no return to unionist
domination or second class citizenship.

Sinn Féin has demonstrated a determination and resolve to
vigorously oppose any diminution, erosion, or subversion of
the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Fein rejects any two-tier approach, any two stages
proposition, or British appointed Commissioners to run the

The Good Friday Agreement is an inclusive agreement rooted
in equality and inclusiveness. It underpins the rights of
all sections of our people.

It is an international Treaty voted for overwhelmingly in
referendum by the people in both states on this island.

Sinn Féin's objective is to secure full implementation of
the Good Friday Agreement and the restoration of the
political institutions.

That is the reality facing Ian Paisley today as he
addresses his party conference.

This party stands ready to work with the DUP. We do so
already in Councils across the north and we did in the
Assembly when it functioned.

Each day British direct rule Ministers take decisions on
spending reviews, health, education, the environment,
energy and other matters which adversely effect every
citizen in the north and have a knock-on effect throughout
the whole island.

The DUP's refusal to work with Sinn Féin in government is
allowing this to continue.

That is the challenge for the DUP. It is also a challenge
for the unionist business community, for civic society, for
community groups and church groups.

Another round of talks starts on Monday. The talks cannot
be only for the optics.

The DUP have to be given the chance to put their ideas to
the rest of us and Sinn Féin will listen attentively and
respectfully to everyone's ideas.

But the main objective of these talks has to be to end the
suspension of the political institutions within a short

The two governments have received that very clear message
from us. Now is the time for the two governments to act.
Rhetoric is not enough."ENDS

Mr. Adams will make his address to the conference at
1.30pm, today Saturday 4th in the ATGWU Hall, Middle Abbey
Street, Dublin 1.


Feile An Phobail Hit By Funding Crisis

Organisers say five key posts had to be lost

By Debra Douglas
04 February 2006

A funding crisis looks set to have a major impact on one of
Belfast's largest festivals with the loss of jobs and a
number of its most popular events, it emerged last night.

Last year, the Department of Social Development (DSD) and
the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL),
allocated Feile an Phobail more than £140,000 funding, but
festival director Sean Paul O'Hare says the funding is no
longer assured, leading to the loss of five jobs within the

Mr O'Hare told the Belfast Telegraph that the decision
would have a major impact on the festival.

"We were assured of sufficient funding but the departments
have reneged on this and we have had to let people in five
key posts go," he said.

"We put in for just under £250,000 funding for staff and
other costs, but that has been rejected.

"We've been told to wait until April when we can apply for
funding along with other groups but we just can't carry on
without that funding."

Events which may have to be axed include the carnival
parade, 'Belfast Talks Back' and 'Scribes at the Rock' .

"We are talking about events with community and youth
elements which are an important part of the festival," Mr
O'Hare explained.

"We will now campaign to get the departments to recognise
the efforts of the Feile and the community groups involved
- we create better community relations and a better
society, but we are getting little recognition for that
from the government departments.

"I think it is a great injustice in terms of what this
programme is about and as far as I'm concerned, it sends
out a clear message that these departments are not
supportive of what we are about."

A DCAL spokeswoman said: "New funding arrangements are
being developed at present and it is expected an
announcement will be made shortly."


DUP Would Withdraw From Police Board If SF Joined

Sinn Fein would 'undermine board'

The DUP would withdraw from the Policing Board if Sinn Fein
took places on it in the near future, party deputy leader
Peter Robinson has indicated.

The board is due to be re-appointed with new members in
April and two places will be reserved for Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein, however, said it would not consider joining
until policing powers were devolved to local politicians.

Mr Robinson said Sinn Fein participation would "undermine
the board".


The DUP deputy leader was speaking on the BBC's Inside
Politics show ahead of the DUP annual conference in the
Ramada Hotel in Belfast on Saturday.

The British and Irish governments will launch a fresh round
of talks with the political parties on Monday in a bid to
restore devolved government to Northern Ireland.

Mr Robinson said there would be "no credibility" in having
on the Policing Board representatives of an organisation
"that, according to the government's advisors, were still
involved in criminal and paramilitary activity".

"I don't think it's either likely that Sinn Fein will come
on, nor do I think that the government would allow a set of
circumstances to come about where you would in fact have
criminals in charge of the police," he said.

Sinn Fein has been demanding more reforms to policing and
has called for policing and justice powers to be
transferred from Westminster to Stormont.

The party has refused to recommend the Police Service of
Northern Ireland as a career for young Catholics or take
its seats on the Policing Board which holds the force to

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/04 09:30:32 GMT


Robinson:'Belfast Agreement Is Dead'

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain was today
accused of acting like a spin doctor for the IRA.

By:Press Association

In a hard hitting attack on a range of political opponents
in Northern Ireland, Democratic Unionist deputy leader
Peter Robinson told his annual conference in Belfast that
the Government should be ashamed of how it handled concerns
about ongoing IRA criminality, violence and allegations
that they had held on to their weapons.

And with the party due to head into talks on Monday with
the British Government, the East Belfast MP dismissed
nationalist claims that the only way forward was through
the Good Friday Agreement.

He told them: "Read my lips - the Belfast Agreement is

The DUP deputy leader said last Wednesday`s Independent
Monitoring Commission report on paramilitary activity had
shown that the IRA had still a very long way to go before
republicans could democratise.

"Democracy cannot tolerate a situation where criminality is
institutionalised at the heart of the state and that is
exactly what would be done if we were to permit an
organisation like Sinn Fein which is still seamlessly
linked to paramilitary and criminal activity into
government," he said.

"It will not happen.

"But, in truth, I do not need to argue the case that Sinn
Fein has not passed the entry test.

"(Irish Taoiseach) Bertie Ahern has pronounced upon their
fitness for government. He says he would not countenance
having them in government in the Irish Republic. You can be
that neither Tony Blair nor George Bush would consider
sharing power with the Provos for a second.

"Let me give them a clear message: don`t ask us to do
something you would not do yourselves."

The former Stormont Regional Development Minister noted it
had taken 11 years from their first ceasefire for the IRA
to carry out significant disarmament but he said it was
also clear that their fingers could not be prised away from
their weapons.

He continued: "Without there being even a single IMC report
suggesting the IRA has given up its illegal activities it
is quite simply preposterous and outrageous to expect
unionists to move.

"The Government should be ashamed of itself. Instead of
piling pressure on republicans to make good their promises
Peter Hain has been acting as chief apologist and spin
doctor for the IRA.

"He has attempted to dilute the exposure of their
wrongdoing and spin the areas where the IMC reported any
positive change."


Question Of Shared Power Lingers As DUP Holds Annual

By William Graham Political Correspondent

Ian Paisley celebrates his 80th birthday in a couple of
months’ time, but shows no sign of retiring as he prepares
to address his party’s annual conference today.

The DUP leader is certainly seen as the most controversial
political figure to have emerged in Ireland over the past
half century.

Often written off by political opponents within unionism, a
reorganised DUP last year crushed the Ulster Unionists at
elections and toppled their leader David Trimble.

Founded 35 years ago in Belfast’s Ulster Hall, the party
once in the doldrums is now the largest in Northern Ireland
and this position will be reflected in speeches today.

Mr Paisley, Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds are all expected
to stress that this week’s report from the Independent
Monitoring Commission (on claims the IRA has held on to
some of its weapons) vindicates the DUP’s sceptical stance
on decommissioning.

But with political talks arranged for Hillsborough Castle
on Monday, the question still hangs in the air as to
whether Mr Paisley will ever share power at some time in
the future with Sinn Fein.

For the foreseeable future at least it appears there is no
possibility of Mr Paisley ending up as First Minister and
Martin McGuinness as his deputy.

The Ulster Unionist Party is also adamant that within broad
unionism a devolved executive which includes Sinn Fein is
off the political radar.

The DUP has put forward a ‘phased’ devolution idea which
asks the British government to consider a number of models
for reviving the assembly.

These are described as mid-range models, which provide for
either legislated or administrative devolution.

But at this stage both Sinn Fein and the SDLP have firmly
rejected the DUP’s plan.

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness yesterday said
his party was not interested in half-way houses or
institutions without full powers.

Mr McGuinness also took a swipe at the SDLP, accusing it of
being in discussions with the DUP and considering options
short of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Sinn Fein’s agenda for Monday’s talks is clear. We will be
seeking to defend the Good Friday Agreement,” Mr McGuinness

The SDLP’s Alex Attwood claimed Sinn Fein was talking out
of both sides of its mouth.

“They claim they are for the Good Friday Agreement and for
the ‘Comprehensive Agreement’. You cannot be both,” he

“The SDLP enter next week’s talks making it clear that the
Good Friday Agreement and all of the Agreement is the way

When the Agreement was signed in 1998, and overwhelmingly
endorsed in referenda north and south, the British and
Irish governments did not imagine then that the DUP and
Sinn Fein would emerge as the two biggest parties.

The problem now is to find a way ahead, or some bridge-
building structures, where enough trust can be built so
that some time in the future they can share power.

If direct rule is to remain in place for a long time to
come it would be ‘with bells on’, as both the British and
Irish governments in such circumstances would have joint
management of the political situation.


‘Viable Device’ Found Behind Police Station

By Claire Simpson

A number of homes and other properties were damaged during
controlled explosions on a “viable device” found in north
Belfast yesterday.

British army bomb experts spent most of the day examining a
car left at the rear of Antrim Road police station, with
nearby houses being evacuated from around 9.30am.

A police spokesman later said “the remains of what appears
to have been a viable explosive device” were recovered.

The device was in a car which had been hijacked in north
Belfast at around 7.45pm on Thursday.

Meanwhile, around 700 children were sent home from a school
in west Belfast following a separate hoax bomb alert.

A member of staff at St Colm’s high school in Twinbrook
discovered a suspected pipe bomb near the school shortly
before 9am.

Principal Imelda Jordan confirmed the hoax had been

“It’s a very unfortunate situation that someone would
disrupt a school,” she said.


Statement Concerns In Wright Inquiry

Southern News
By Staff Reporter

The father of murdered LVF chief Billy Wright has concerns
about a sworn statement made by the man who will lead a
public inquiry into his killing, the High Court heard

David Wright, who has alleged collusion in his son's murder
in the Maze Prison in 1997, is seeking a judicial review of
the British government's decision to use the controversial
Inquiries Act for the inquiry, which gives ministers power
to keep some evidence secret.

An application was due to be heard yesterday but the
Portadown man's barrister Alan Kane said they wished to
raise matters contained in an affidavit of Lord MacLean,
the inquiry chairman.

"Depending on the responses by the secretary of state and
Lord MacLean, we may wish to reply and in those
circumstances we are seeking an adjournment," he said.

John Larkin QC said the inquiry panel was concerned about
delays and an adjournment might interfere with its
programme of work.

"It is hard to see how Lord MacLean's affidavit could
conceivably give rise to an additional ground of challenge
when the decision was really taken by the secretary of
state," he said.

Mr Justice Girvan adjourned the hearing until February 17.


Symbols To Be Removed ‘To Aid Relations’

By Maeve Connolly

TRICOLOURS are to be taken down in a residential area of
Ballymena as part of an agreement which involves the
removal of a UDA mural beside a Catholic church.

The flags have been flying in the Dunclug estate in the Co
Antrim town, while the loyalist paramilitary mural
overlooks the Church of Our Lady in Harryville.

The actions are a result of mediation between community
groups to improve relations in the borough, which has been
blighted by sectarian intimidation.

Red, white and blue paint on kerbstones and streetlighting
around the church and a red hand painted in front of its
gates are also to be removed. The tricolours in Dunclug had
angered unionist politicians and loyalists in the town,
while nationalist residents were divided over the issue.
The mainly nationalist estate has witnessed violent scenes
in recent years.

Last night SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan said there had
been “a significant breakthrough in Ballymena at a number
of levels”.

“I look forward to all three things happening and hope
people keep on working at improving relationships here in

When it was revealed last week that the UDA mural was to be
removed, the UDA-aligned Ulster Political Research Group
(UPRG) said residents hoped similar “positive steps” could
also be taken in relation to the flying of tricolours. The
mural is on a gable wall and is to be replaced with a “non-
militaristic cultural mural”.


Ireland Shares 'Worst Cocaine Use In Europe' Title

04/02/2006 - 09:43:03

A recent study has revealed that Ireland has one of the
highest rates of cocaine use in Europe.

The British National Crime and Intelligence Service
investigation shows that Ireland joins Spain and the
Netherlands for having the worst cocaine habits.

The latest garda figures show that 300 kilograms of the
drug were seized in 2005 compared with 165 kilograms the
previous year.

Cocaine is now believed to be second only to cannabis as
the Irish drug of choice.


Mayo 5 Tells Shell – ‘You Won’t Buy Us’

By Connla Young

Anti-Shell activists in Co Mayo yesterday told the multi-
national oil corporation they will not be bought, after the
company revealed record-breaking profits.

Residents in Rossport, Co Mayo, responded to reports that
Shell Oil recorded a staggering €19.29 billion (£13.12
billion) profits for 2005, by saying “it still won’t buy

Shell to Sea campaigner, Maura Harrington, said the people
of Rossport, who opposed a Shell proposal to build a
potentially deadly pipeline through their neighbourhood,
will continue their fight in 2006 as the world watches on.

“We had a visitor from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria
last weekend and we were speaking at the same event. He
said that the people of the delta, who have faced the same
problems as ourselves, are watching us and we really can’t
afford to lose, because if we do it’s quite simply the end
for those people. We are supposed to be a developed-world
country and if the big corporations succeed here there is
little hope for those in the developing world.

“We are determined they aren’t going to get away with this.
Our determination now is greater than it ever was. Shell
have given up trying to be disingenuous, they just tell
straight lies now. They never could understand the mindset
of the people, which evolves from the place to which the
people belong. They haven’t the faintest idea where we are
coming from and where we are going. One thing is for sure,
all the money they have isn’t enough to buy Rossport.”

Shell’s massive profits are the highest ever recorded for a
UK-listed company. Most of the oil giant’s profits come
from oil exploration and extraction which is then sold on.

“A jump in crude oil from below $45 a barrel to $70 a
barrel has helped swell the multi-national’s coffers.

Five Co Mayo men were jailed last year after being accused
of breaching a high court order prohibiting them from
interfering with pipe-laying work on their own land. The
men were eventually released after spending over 90 days in
a Dublin jail.

Earlier this week, the five men, Vincent McGrath, Michael Ó
Seighin, Willie Corduff, Philip McGrath and Brendan
Philbin, withdrew from a mediation process with Shell after
the Irish government attempted to dilute the process by
bringing fringe interest groups to the negotiating table.

“Our agreement to enter into direct talks with Shell was a
serious decision,” said a spokesperson. “Shell, after all,
were responsible for our jailing. It is with great concern
and anger that we discover that Minister Dempsey omitted to
tell the Dáil and us in October that he had in mind a much
wider process that could not warrant the designation

“Our concern is that the Minister’s real intentions all
along have been to obtain a favourable safety report from
Advantica, complete a bizarre form of mediation and then
announce to the public the continuation of the Corrib gas
project whatever the cost. Subjugation not mediation!

“We call on the restoration of proper mediation where both
sides work together, confidentially and without reporting
to a third party, to reach agreement.

“We call on Minister Dempsey to cease interfering with and
re-defining the process agreed by Shell and ourselves.

“Finally, we call on Mr Cassells to defend the integrity of
the mediation process from this political interference.”


Opin: Shoddy And Flimsy Report


In any normal society the Independent Monitoring Commission
would have been laughed off the political stage by now
given the embarrassing mish-mash of speculation, views and
opinions that they have produced – and the glaring paucity
of evidence.

But it is clear that the IMC is doing exactly the job that
those unionists who pressed for its creation wanted it to
do: put political progress on the long finger and deprive
the nationalist and republican people of the North of their
democratic rights.

Yesterday's (Wednesday) eighth IMC report would stand up to
even the most cursory inspection by a first year law
student. No-one here has ever seen hide nor hair of any of
the four IMC members, because they don't get their
information on republicans from republican heartlands like
West Belfast or South Armagh, they get it from the very
British spooks whose number one enemy is... republicans.

Take what is perhaps the IMC's most startling 'finding' –
that the IRA has not in fact decommissioned all its
weapons. We urge readers to look closely at the report
themselves and judge how much weight to put on the IMC's
words. They will quickly find that the IMC itself does not
even claim to make a categoric finding on IRA weapons. It
says only that it has received "reports" that the IRA had
held on to weapons, and further adds that those reports
have not been confirmed.

If the baseless musings of four old men with zero knowledge
or experience of republican Ireland were to be put in a
file and left to gather dust, that wouldn't be so bad. But
it is as if the IMC is speaking ex-cathedra, that the
report is the full and untarnished truth. The fact that it
is a flimsy and shoddy piece of work is being ignored in
the hysterical debate which has followed yesterday's

The correct response to this report is not to debate its
contents, it is to chuck it in the bin and tell those who
are waving it in the air to come back when they have
something real and substantial.

The attack on local CRJ schemes, meanwhile, was not only
unfair and uncalled-for, but dangerous in the extreme in
the present climate as loyalist paramilitaries remain armed
and actively targeting nationalists – as the IMC itself
claims (and we'll agree with them on that one, not because
they tell us, but because we've seen the evidence for

And check out the hilarious bit on alleged republican
intelligence-gathering which the IMC says it "believes" is
continuing. What the beliefs of the IMC have to do with
anything is beyond us.

We urge our political representatives to continue to focus
on the essential vacuity of the report and its contents and
not get dragged into spurious debates about decommissioning
and intelligence-gathering on the back of it.

February 4, 2006


Opin: Seems Everything In The Garden Is Far From Rosy

By James Kelly

No, not another false dawn, just a bit of fog.

I refer to the long-awaited report of the independent
monitoring commission now being mulled over by the British
and Irish governments, impatient to persuade the tribes of
Ulster that time has moved on and it is neither 1690, 1912
or 1916 and fings ain’t what they used to be. In fact it is
coming up to the spring of AD 2000 in the bustling global
village now rapidly leaving all their yesterdays behind.

The two governments had hoped the report would provide the
starting point for meaningful talks leading to the
restoration of devolved power-sharing government at
Stormont but it seems everything in the garden is far from

There is that smelly dunghill still near the front entrance
with the ancient Ayatollah on top bellowing “to hell with
the future; long live the past”.

So the report in its 40 pages tells us the time is not yet
ripe and we must wait on its next instalment, due in April
– not I hope on April the first.

You have read all the necessarily brief reports of this
important document but for my sins I read the whole
blooming, baffling but true agonising picture of the sick
counties still seeking the elusive peace promised at the
end of 30 bloody years in the killing fields.

That nightmare is over, we hope, for good but not for the
friends and relatives of the innocent victims.

Here in a lovely land blessed by nature and praised by
visitors from abroad all the decent people, forever pining
for a return to normality avert their gaze from the media
exposure day and daily to murder, rape, robbery of the
aged, sectarian riots, extortion crimes, pipe bombing,
taunting marchers. Optimists say it’s not as bad as it used
to be but the IMC report tells it as it is. The
parliamentary pollution remains like a scourge.

Summing up, the report says of the PIRA: “We believe there
is a clear strategic intent to turn the organisation on to
a political path and there is good evidence that this is
happening even given such constraints as there may be on
the leadership in this regard.”

It accuses the RIRA, the most active of the republican
dissidents, of acts of violence and involvement in
organised crime of the UDA the IMC says “we give no credit
to the UDA for trying to rein back on disorders which it
had done so much to foster just because it found that
things had reached an unacceptable level. But we do
nevertheless think that there are signs that some people
within some parts of the organisation, or associated with
it, want to steer the UDA away from violence and crime into
community development”. They applauded the removal of flags
and murals and said “another important step would be for
loyalist paramilitaries to stop targeting nationalists and
ethnic minorities”.

The level of UVF activity, according to the report, was
less than it was in the six months covered by the previous
report, mainly because of the ending of the feud with the
LVF but it remains a continuing threat to the rule of law,
active, violent and ruthless. “We very much hope we will
start to see this change.'

You would not have got this impression from some of the
newspaper accounts but clearly the loyalist paramilitaries
come out starkly as the villains of the piece in the view
of the IMF. Strange that the DUP boss Ian Paisley should at
this moment blame the republicans for the decline of the
Ulster economy!

The part which he and the loyalists played in frightening
off foreign investment here in their years of brainstorming
against the Good Friday Agreement is incalculable. So it is
late in the day for the shedding of crocodile tears over
our ailing economy.

What does the future hold?

Dr No is on the slippery slopes.

Sir Reg Empey, UUP leader, says “the trouble is if we don’t
do business we are left under some form of direct rule
which is gradually moving to some form of joint authority.”


Opin: Godfathers: Yes, They Still Pull The Strings

Lindy McDowell
04 February 2006

Wednesday evening and I'm watching the Godfather movie on
Channel Five. It's got to a gory bit. The Corleone family
are outlining to a high ranking politician - who has just
wakened up in bed beside the gruesomely mutilated corpse of
a prostitute he mistakenly believes he's murdered - how
they can sort this mess for him. They'll remove the body,
clean up the crime scene so nobody will notice. But he will
subsequently be in their debt for all eternity.

It's at this point that I start to channel hop, flitting in
and out of this epic depiction of mafia corruption of the
democratic process . . . and on to the local news.

Over on the BBC they're covering the IMC report with its
claims that the IRA is still armed, exiling, spying and
gathering intelligence. And still up to its oxters in

On UTV they're also covering the IMC report but there,
they've got to the bit about the "disturbing" level of
loyalist violence and the still-potent threat from those
gangster-terrorist organisations.

On teletext and ceefax, I update on reports of raids in the
South where gardai are linking the IRA to a multi-million
euro money laundering operation. There's another item about
the record level of paramilitary extortion in Northern
Ireland and how it's wiping out small businesses.

Oh, and another about major fuel companies and why they've
pulled out of this place. It's reckoned that 50% of all
diesel and petrol we now consume is illegal. Profits raised
from this Emerald Oil are being funnelled straight into the
coffers of the IRA.

Over to BBC2, and I've flicked on halfway through a
Newsnight exposé of community restorative justice schemes
in Northern Ireland with claims that these are regarded as
the Provo police.

After this it's back to Michael, Fredo and Vito and that
ordinary, everyday story of murder, corruption and a multi-
million pound gangster empire built on terror and reliant
upon the authorities (bribed, coerced or otherwise) turning
a blind eye to it.

In the furore over the findings of the IMC this week, a
vital point that nobody mentions is this. It's told us
little that we didn't already know.

The IMC report is just part of the bigger picture. And the
bigger picture staring us in the face in Northern Ireland
is the on-going corruption of democracy by terrorism and
its hybrid gangster offshoots.

Put it like this:

Hands up anybody - anybody, anywhere in Northern Ireland -
who honestly believes that the IRA has indeed handed over
all its guns. Or that the loyalist paramilitaries,
currently said to be in talks with the Government, have any
intention of handing over their entire arsenals either.

Hands up anybody who has not heard about, or experienced,
paramilitary extortion, intimidation and corruption in
their own area. Hands up anybody who believes the
authorities are on top of all this. Anybody who doesn't
think that it's getting worse. . .

What we have spread before us in Northern Ireland is the
equivalent of that mutilated corpse on the bed in the mafia

It's an horrific bloody mess. And we have two options on
how to deal with it.

We can co-operate in concealing the crime. We can allow
others to tidy away the evidence and go along with the line
that terrorist corruption of, and involvement in the
democratic process is a necessary price to pay for peace.

Or we confront reality: we face up to the full bloody mess
that lies all around us, we take on those responsible and,
however much it disrupts the process, refuse to tolerate
the institutionalism of terrorism.

Those two enthusiastic scrubbers, Peter Hain and Tony Blair
would, of course, have the gore mopped up and tidied out of
sight before you could say positive signs of sea change.

But there are also others, much more honourable and well-
intentioned who would urge us not to focus entirely upon
the crime sight.

Speaking for the SDLP, Alban Maginness argues that there is
enough in the IMC report to encourage the resumption of
talks. That we need to get devolution up and running
because we need to deal with the big stuff facing our
community - the future of education, the health service,
water rates, local services . . .

It's a fair point. And I'm with you Alban, hand-in-hand,
almost to the doors of the Assembly itself.

But the thing that holds me back, the thing that holds so
very many of us back, is that, amid the big stuff, nothing
is bigger than this:

The terrorist/gangster infiltration and corruption of
society at all levels in Northern Ireland.

We have to face up to it. We have to face it down. In
Westminster where Messrs Blair and Hain normally reside,
three politicians recently had their political careers
curtailed on the grounds, respectively, of making free with
the hooch, lying to the wife and pretending not to be gay.

Yet over here being a murderer is considered no drawback to
political advancement.

Now we are being urged to support a return to an Assembly
where politicians with links to a terrorist mafia will
decide our future.

The Government tells us there are changes on the
paramilitary scene.

The Corleones remind us to look behind the scenes.

On all sides the Godfathers are still pulling the strings.


Opin: A Complete Ban Is The Only Course

04 February 2006

The distressing photographs of greyhounds pursuing hares at
close quarters at a meeting at Clonmel in Co Tipperary have
revived the debate on whether coursing should be banned
throughout Ireland. The sport is outlawed in Great Britain
and temporarily prohibited in Northern Ireland but remains
legal in the Republic.

The result of this disparity in the law means that clubs
from Northern Ireland now hold their events south of the
border. And meetings in the Republic are now attracting
spectators and punters from Britain, most notably the actor
Vinnie Jones, producing valuable income for the tourist

After years of protest from the animal rights lobby,
measures have been taken to make such events less barbaric.
Dogs now wear muzzles which means that the hares are no
longer torn limb from limb.

Defenders of the sport maintain that they are helping the
survival of the hare population in Ireland. They maintain
that like hunting, their meetings are a traditional country
pastime, which gives enjoyment to large numbers of people.

But even though the excesses of the sport have been
reduced, it still does little to enhance Ireland's
reputation as a civilised society. The hares may no longer
be in danger of a mauling but as the pictures show, they
are put in fear of their lives.

Confined to a compound, albeit with the chance of reaching
a safe haven, the hares do not enjoy the same chance of
escape as would be the case in open countryside. But the
most demeaning aspect of such events is the ghoulish
delight which spectators exhibit when the prey is cornered.

Banning coursing would not, of course, mean a complete end
to greyhound racing. The sport can and should continue in
much more convivial surroundings at stadiums where an
electric hare provides the thrill of the chase.

Britain has taken the correct course in outlawing hare
coursing and the authorities in Northern Ireland should
progress from the temporary ban introduced in 2003 to a
permanent cessation. The Irish Government, usually such an
eager advocate of all-island harmonisation, should follow

The Republic should be ashamed of itself for exploiting
this cruel sport for public entertainment and tourist
income. The continued licensing of such activity in this
day and age is a stain on the country's character.

Sadly, animal cruelty is not restricted to the sport of
coursing, as is demonstrated by recent finds by the USPCA
of maltreated puppies. Man's inhumanity to dumb animals
seems to know no bounds. Despite the crowds that converged
on Clonmel, most people do not regard the sport as fun. A
permanent ban in Ireland, north and south, is the only


Tax Incentives Will Lure Hollywood Producers, Claims Film

03/02/2006 - 17:29:27

New tax incentives will boost Ireland’s film industry by
attracting more Hollywood producers to the country, it was
claimed today.

The Irish Film Board (IFB) said the new measures improved
Ireland’s competitive position as a location of
international film production.

“This is a very significant move by the Government which
will give Irish filmmakers renewed confidence in their own
talents and their ability to compete internationally,”
Simon Perry, chief executive of the board, said.

Under the new Finance Bill announced by Minister Brian
Cowen, the Irish tax incentive for film making, Section
481, underwent a major revamp.

The new measures mean the percentage of expenditure on
films eligible for tax relief will be raised to 80% for all
films, up from levels of 55% or 66% and the ceiling on
qualifying expenditure for any one film will be increased
from €15m to €35m.

Chairman of the board, James Morris, said: “These
significant improvements to Section 481 further demonstrate
the Irish Government’s ongoing commitment to the growth of
the Irish film industry and in particular Minister John
O’Donoghue’s continued support.

“This good news follows the recent increase allocated to
the capital budget for the Irish Film Board, which has been
increased by 21% for 2006.”

Bank of Ireland welcomed the proposals as a significant
step towards restoring Ireland’s competitiveness as a film-
making location.

Tom Hayes, chief executive of Bank of Ireland Corporate
Banking, said: “In recent years, countries around the world
have been competing to win larger budget projects by
providing a variety of incentives that offered benefits
that, up to now, could not be matched in Ireland.

“The proposed changes will enable Ireland to once again
compete for larger ‘blockbuster’ type projects. Such
projects shine a welcome spotlight on Ireland as both a
film location and a tourist destination.”

Mr Hayes said the tax changes would mean Ireland would be
in a position to challenge for Hollywood pictures which
would offer a wider range of quality film investment
options for investors.


Irish Prisoners To Be Given Postal Vote

04/02/2006 - 08:40:06

Prisoners in Irish jails will soon be able to vote in
national elections as the government is drawing up new
legislation that will give the State's 3,200 prison inmates
a postal ballot.

They will be registered to vote in the constituency of
their former residence before they were sent to jail.

The move follows a landmark ruling by the European Court of
Human Rights, which found that the British government had
violated a prisoner's rights by refusing him the ability to
vote in an election.

Irish law has never removed a prisoner’s right to vote, but
in practise the State has never provided inmates with the
ability to vote via a postal ballot.


Irish Ice Sculptors Win Latvian Competition

04/02/2006 - 08:43:23

A team of Irish sculptors has scooped top prize in an
international competition in Latvia.

Daniel Doyle and Alan Magee won the contest with a see-saw
made entirely from ice.

A chubby child and a TV set compete on the see-saw, in a
piece inspired by a popular Latvian soap opera.


Ardfert GAA’s Grand Plan Is Grounded

By Dónal Nolan

BITTERLY disappointed GAA members in Ardfert are meeting
this week to discuss how to now pursue their long-planned
sportsfield development following An Bord Pleanála’s
decision not to give the facility planning permission.

The plans, which were given the green light by Kerry County
Council last year, include two full-size GAA pitches, one
training pitch, two car parks, a basketball court, two
tennis courts, a community sports hall, a handball alley
and floodlights. The grounds were to be situated 1.5km
outside the village on the Tralee road.

Concerns by people living adjacent to the site, however,
resulted in an appeal being lodged with An Bord Pleanála
and an inspection was carried out by the board of the
seven-hectare site in November. The facility was refused
permission, as it stands, last week.

Primary among the appeal board’s concerns was the issue of
traffic. Their report found that the proposed development
would endanger public safety because of sight restrictions
leading onto the busy road.

Considered in full, the planning application “would
constitute over development of this site, which would
seriously injure the amenities of residential and
agricultural property in the vicinity,” An Bord Pleanála

Chairman of St Brendan’s Football Club, Stan McCarthy,
would not comment on how the club is now going to address
the fallout from the planning refusal.

“I don’t want to pre-empt the decisions that will be made
at the member’s meeting being held this week but we’re very
disappointed with the decision. We have a lot of young
people in the village now, the GAA is as strong here as
always, and there is a dire need for a second site to meet
the demand,” he said.

Sinn Féin TD for North Kerry and member of the club, Martin
Ferris, also refused to comment on how the club would
proceed until after the meeting.

“An Bord Pleanála do not object in principal to a facility
there, but they have concerns about traffic and other
matters. These can be addressed I’m told and we’ll know
how, hopefully, after this week’s meeting,” he told The

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