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February 01, 2006

McBride Welcomes Bid To Purge Army

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About Ireland & The Irish

DI 01/31/06
Jean McBride Welcomes Bid To Purge British Army
DI 01/31/06 Legalisation Plan For 50,000 Irish In US
BN 02/01/06 Govts To Begin Fresh Peace Talks Next Week
BB 02/01/06 IMC To Report On Paramilitaries
BN 02/01/06 Gardaí Probe IRA Link To €100m Property Empire
BB 02/01/06 Court Freezes £700,000 In Assets
SF 01/31/06 SF Will Not Countenance Move Away From GFA
IT 02/01/06 DUP Publishes Devolution Paper Main Points
DU 02/01/06 DUP: Facing Reality (Full Text)
NI 02/01/06 SDLP Negotiated GFA - SF Negotiated Concessions
RT 01/31/06 Sinn Féin Rejects McCartney Claims
IM 01/31/06 Gerry Adams To Address Ógra Shinn Féin Congress
DJ 01/31/06 Parades Commission To 'Walk The Walk' In Derry
IT 02/01/06 Restrictions Lifted In Maghaberry Prison
IT 02/01/06 Robinson Criticises Bush Use Of Power
DI 01/31/06 Opin: Criminality And The British Army
AP 01/31/06 Opin: State Of The Union Agitated
LA 01/31/06 Sheehan Removed From House Before Speech
DI 01/31/06 Iraq’s All Too Frequent Bloody Sundays
IT 02/01/06 Harney Bans 'Magic' Mushrooms
SF 01/31/06 Move To Outlaw Sale Of Magic Mushrooms Welcomed
IT 02/01/06 Traders Dismayed By Legal Bar
IT 02/01/06 20,000 Return To Ireland Each Year - Brennan
BN 02/01/06 Dublin Ranked Among World's Most Exp Cities
IT 02/01/06 Irish Playwright Nominated For Oscar
SF 02/01/06 Adams’ Regret At Death Of Coretta Scott King
EX 02/01/06 Ruairi Brugha Had ‘A Deep Sense Of Patriotism’
IT 02/01/06 Bronze Age Remains Found In Burren Cave
RT 02/01/06 Meteor Industry Award For Bill Whelan


Jean McBride Welcome Bid To Purge British Army

Killers, Rapists, Bullies

Motion calling for British army criminals to be kicked out
of the military has received cross-party support from 23

By Connla Young

The mother of murdered Belfast teenager Peter McBride has
welcomed a new bid to have convicted criminals kicked out
of the British army.

Jean McBride comments came after it emerged that that
United States Consul General in Belfast Dean Pittman has
agreed to meet her for a second time to discuss her
continuing campaign for justice for her son who was gunned
down by the British army in September 1992.

The teenager’s killers, Scots Guardsmen James Fisher and
Mark Wright, were both readmitted to the British army on
their early release from prison in 1998.

An early day motion drawn up by SDLP leader Mark Durkan has
now received cross-party support from 23 members of the
British parliament.

The motion calls for the British “government to affirm that
human rights abusers, killers, rapists and bullies are
permanently excluded from military service.”

The motion has received the support of British-based MPs
who work closely with the families of young soldiers who
have died in mysterious circumstances in British army bases
across Britain.

Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Mrs McBride vowed to
continue her fight to have the men who murdered her son
removed from the British army.

“We welcome this latest intervention and the support of
other families who are also campaiging against the sheer
arrogance of the Minister of Defence. We see from the
cross-party support that we have almost all the parties
represented in parliament signing up to this petition.

“I have written again to Tony Blair and asked him for a
meeting and this will boost our campaign. It remains to bee
seen if Tony Blair has the courage to face me across the
table and justify the retention of Wright and Fisher.”

Mrs McBride will raise her family’s concerns over the
relationship between of former British army officer Tim
Spicer and the US government when she meets US Consul
General Dean Pittman in the coming weeks.

Spicer was the offcer in charge of Wright and Fisher when
they murdered Peter McBride.

Mr Durkan yesterday spoke of the need for the British army
to protect the public.

“Our motion demands that all those convicted of murder,
rape, torture and other serious crimes, are expelled from
the army.

“Armies are meant to protect the public, that’s why they
shouldn’t have serving in their ranks those who have
murdered, raped and tortured. It is as simple as that.

“As the next step in our campaign we will be proposing
amendments to the Armed Forces Bill currently going through
Westminster to make the principles behind our campaign
requirements of law.

“If the British government are at all serious about human
rights we hope that they will get serious about this
campaign and back our amendments and early day motion.”

British MPs supporting the motion include Peter Bottomley,
Glenda Jackson and Jeremy Corbyn.


Legalisation Plan For 50,000 Irish In United States

by Ciaran O’Neill

A key meeting will be held this week in Philadelphia to
discuss the future of up to 50,000 illegal Irish immigrants
in the United States.

The meeting has been organised to discuss the proposed
McCain-Kennedy US Immigration Bill which would offer a path
to legalisation and permanent residence in the US for
thousands of Irish immigrants.

The bill is expected to come before the US Senate in the
near future.

If passed, it will transform the lives of many Irish people
currently living illegally in the US.

The organisers of the Philadelphia meeting last night
appealed to anyone living in Ireland with relatives in the
city, to contact them and pass on details of the event.

It has been organised by the Irish Immigration Centre and
the Federation of Irish American Societies of Philadelphia.

The meeting will be addressed by members of the Irish Lobby
for Immigration Reform which was set up in New York last

Tom Conaghan, director of the Irish Immigration Centre in
Philadelphia, said the city and state of Pennsylvania had
been identified as one of the most important areas in the
US to concentrate on because Senator Arlen Specter
represents the state and is head of the powerful judiciary
committee in the US Senate.

“It’s Specter’s job to bring any bills that are introduced
in the house and senate and work out a compromise on
getting passage,” said Mr Conaghan.

“We expect the Senator to move on the immigration issue
very shortly, the next two months will be key.

“We need to convince him that the McCain-Kennedy Bill is
the only reasonable legislation that would help our
vulnerable Irish immigrants living in the US, many of them
at this stage have children and their life is here.

“This legislation would allow immigrants the freedom to
travel and after a period of time they can become US

Mr Conaghan said Philadelphia was home for many Irish
immigrants from the North of Ireland and Border counties.

“I would ask that anyone who has relatives and friends in
the Philadelphia area to please call them and let them know
about this important event.

“We need as many people as possible there. Representatives
from Senator Specter’s office will be in attendance.”

The meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 201
South Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia. on Friday, February
3, at 7:30pm.


Govts To Begin Fresh Peace Talks Next Week

01/02/2006 - 07:28:45

The Irish and British governments will begin new talks with
all sides in the North next week in a bid to get the
troubled peace process back on track.

Irrespective of today’s latest assessment on continuing IRA
activity by the International Monitoring Commission,
separate meetings will go ahead at Hillsborough Castle, Co

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern and Northern
Secretary State Peter Hain will be involved, but with the
Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists ruling out an early
return to a power-sharing executive in Belfast with Sinn
Fein, London and Dublin are holding out little hope of any
significant progress in the foreseeable future.

Today’s IMC report is expected to acknowledge there have
been no acts of violence by the IRA since they declared an
end to their campaign last July. But on the down side,
there are expected to be claims of continuing criminality
and intelligence gathering by republicans.

More worryingly, however, for Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair,
it is understood the report may refer in some way to
security force intelligence claims the IRA has held on to
an unspecified number of shortarm weapons, even though it
was meant to have destroyed its remaining stockpile of arms
and explosives in September.

At the time, there were unconfirmed reports the IRA had
retained some guns for their own personal protection, but
it may emerge today the amount of weaponry still under the
organisation’s control is higher than previously estimated.

With trust between the DUP and Sinn Féin lower than at any
time since the suspension of the North's Assembly in
October 2002 which followed claims of an IRA spy ring
operating inside Stormont, it could be well into 2007
before there is any sort of hope of restoring devolution.

Monday’s talks, therefore, which will also involve the
SDLP, the Ulster Unionists and the cross-community Alliance
Party are expected to be little more than a sounding-out

As Minister Ahern and Mr Hain prepared to meet in London
later today in advance of the publication of the report
which they received on Monday, the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson
claimed there would be no yielding by his side.

He said: “We will continue to hold to our position until
the IRA ends all criminality, and the republican movement
can be regarded as exclusively peaceful and democratic.

“There is no reason why the IRA should have the power to
veto all political progress in Northern Ireland.”


IMC To Report On Paramilitaries

The latest report from the Independent Monitoring
Commission on paramilitary activity is due to be published.

Last month, police said the IRA was still involved in
organised crime, a view at odds with NI Security Minister
Shaun Woodward.

The British and Irish governments hope the report will show
the IRA is keeping its promise to end its campaign.

The DUP said whatever progress the IMC reports will not be
sufficient; Sinn Fein attacked the IMC's credibility.

BBC political editor Mark Devenport said: "While both
governments know the report will not provide the IRA with a
clean bill of health, they are hoping it will be positive
enough to help spur on political talks which are due to
start next week.

"The DUP, however, says whatever progress the IMC
identifies will fall well short of the level of certainty
unionists want and expect of Sinn Fein.

"For their part, Sinn Fein have renewed their assault on
the IMC as politically biased and lacking independence."

Armed campaign

"Republicans don't talk to the commission, but via their
lawyers they have challenged the accuracy of a section of
the commission's last report which claimed that the IRA had
carried out a punishment style shooting in early August."

In July 2005, the IRA announced that it had formally
ordered the end of its armed campaign.

This statement was further backed up in September when the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
said the organisation had put all of its weapons beyond

In its last report in October, the IMC reported that,
although it was too early to draw firm conclusions about
the IRA ending all activities, there were encouraging signs
to show the organisation was moving away from its armed

The Independent Monitoring Commission was set up by the
British and Irish governments in January 2004 to monitor
the activity of paramilitary organisations.

It also monitors the "normalisation" of security measures
in Northern Ireland.

Its four commissioners come from Northern Ireland, the
Republic of Ireland, Britain and the US.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
internet sites

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/01 03:02:14 GMT


Gardaí Probe IRA Link To €100m Property Empire

01/02/2006 - 07:26:29

Gardaí in four counties have reportedly carried out a
series of raids on homes, offices and businesses in the
past week as part of an investigation into suspected IRA

Reports this morning said the raids were carried out in
Dublin, Meath, Wicklow and Louth in connection with a
€100m-plus property empire that Gardaí believe was built up
using the proceeds of crime.

Detectives are now studying documentation seized during the
operation to establish if any of the businesses targeted
were being used by the IRA to launder money.

This morning's reports said the investigation was focusing
on a number of pubs and hotels, but other properties were
also under the spotlight, including a housing and business
venture in Co Meath.


Court Freezes £700,000 In Assets

Assets valued at about £700,000 belonging to two alleged
fuel smugglers in south Armagh have been frozen by the High
Court in Belfast.

The two men under investigation are Damien John McGleenan,
of Keady, and Neil Vallely, from Newtownhamilton.

Both men are fuel dealers in south Armagh. The assets
seized include properties on both sides of the border.

Assets Recovery Agency head Alan McQuillan said anyone who
has assets from crime risks having them frozen.

Mr McQuillan said fuel smuggling and laundering were "major
areas of organised crime in Northern Ireland".

"(The) ARA is working closely with Revenue and Customs to
make sure that, for more and more smugglers, this type of
crime does not pay," he added.


Court orders were obtained by the Assets Recovery Agency
(ARA) to freeze the assets allegedly derived from fuel
smuggling, as well as alleged VAT and excise duty evasion.

It follows an investigation by Customs and Excise offices
into suspected fuel smuggling along the border in south

Mr Vallely's wife Bronagh also had property frozen, but the
ARA said in a statement it was not alleging any criminal
conduct by her.

Mr McGleenan is the owner of McGleenan Fuels in Keady while
Mr Vallely is the proprietor of NV Oils in Newtownhamilton.

Assets belonging to Mr McGleenan's which have been frozen

:: A public house at Keady;
:: Four properties in Keady and two at Dundalk;
:: Proceeds from the sale of four properties at Keady in
County Armagh, and Dundalk and Drogheda, both in County
Louth; and,
:: Money in a range of bank accounts.

Mr Vallely's assets which have been frozen include:

:: Properties in Newtownhamilton and Whitecross, both in
County Armagh;
:: Proceeds from the sale of properties in Newtownhamilton
and Belleeks, in County Armagh, and Drogheda, County Louth;
:: Money which is already in or has passed through a range
of bank accounts.

Details of the court action were released a day after the
government revealed almost £12m of criminal assets in
Northern Ireland have been targeted by the authorities in
the last year.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/01 06:36:57 GMT


Sinn Féin Will Not Countenance Move Away From GFA

Published: 31 January, 2006

Responding to the publication today of the DUP plans to
hollow out the power sharing core of the Good Friday
Agreement, Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP said
that "the two governments had an obligation to press ahead
with the implementation of the Agreement as demanded by the
overwhelming majority of Irish people who voted for it".

Mr Doherty said:

"The Good Friday Agreement is an international treaty
passed overwhelmingly by the Irish people in referendum.
The two governments have an obligation to press ahead with
its full implementation in the time ahead. The DUP cannot
be allowed to veto this process.

"The IRA initiatives of last year provide an opportunity
for the two governments to speedily put together a process
which will deliver a restoration of the political
institutions. We have been pressing the governments to do
this in discussions over recent weeks and this has to be
the focus of the planned talks in early February.

"The proposals published today by the DUP are a challenge
to the two governments. They are an attempt to subvert the
political process and delay the process of change.

" The two governments have an obligation to stand by the
Agreement and its power sharing core. This includes the
power sharing Executive. Sinn Fein will not countenance a
move away from the fundamental principles which underpin
the Good Friday Agreement." ENDS


DUP Publishes Devolution Paper Main Points

The Democratic Unionist Party has published the
devolution policy document presented to Tony Blair at
Downing Street talks last month.

It contains the party's proposals for resurrecting the
Stormont Assembly but not the full power-sharing executive
contained in the Belfast Agreement.

Issuing the 16-page document Facing Reality, the Rev Ian
Paisley again ruled out taking up executive office
alongside Sinn Féin. Instead, the party has suggested a
range of options, all of them short of the model envisaged
by the agreement.

They include a "shadow" assembly with low-level powers or
an EU-style model that would entail British government
ministers acting as a type of Brussels-style council of
ministers who would appear before influential Assembly

Dr Paisley said the choice facing politicians in the North
was a simple take-it-or-leave-it affair.

"The [ British] government's way of the Belfast Agreement
is the failed way that we will not be retracing. If it is
devolution the parties want, it will be on this basis or
else no devolution will occur," he said.

The choice was there, he said, and it was up to others "to
face up to reality and to grasp the opportunity before

Sinn Féin and the SDLP denounced the proposals, saying they
would not tolerate any dilution of the Belfast Agreement.

Sinn Féin's Pat Doherty called on the British and Irish
governments to defend the democratically backed agreement.

Accusing the DUP of trying to hollow out the power-sharing
core of the Stormont institutions and the agreement, he
said: "The two governments have an obligation to press
ahead with its full implementation in the time ahead. The
DUP cannot be allowed to veto this process."

He criticised the DUP policy document as an attempt to
subvert the political process and delay the process of

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said his party would not accept the
setting aside of the executive dimension of the agreement.
"It is at the heart of the agreement, and the SDLP will
never accept its dilution. Nor will we agree with DUP
proposals to allow direct rulers a continuing role," he

Defending the cross-Border elements of the agreement, Mr
Durkan said: "It, too, is a fundamental part of the
agreement, and an integral part of what the SDLP has always
stood for."

:: Full executive devolution not possible at the moment;
politicians could either "mark time" or agree interim
measures leading to:

:: Lifting suspension on the Assembly but not the executive
which would sit in "shadow" form, or

:: Legislative devolution" involving an EU-style council of

:: "Stepped" approach to full devolution with no progress
to full devolution without community support.

© The Irish Times


DUP: Facing Reality (Full Text)

A Truthful Assessment: The Policy Context: The Best Way
Forward>>> Facing Reality...

Introduction: Devolution Is Still The Bestway Forward.

The DUP has consistently held the view that local decisions
should be taken by local elected representatives within a
democratic structure which can provide stable, accountable,
effective and efficient government.

Even in the face of the seemingly insurmountable
difficulties that Northern Ireland has faced in recent
years we still contend that devolution of the right type
and in the right circumstances is desirable.

Following the failure of the Belfast Agreement and the
inability of republicans to rid themselves of their
paramilitary past we contend that the level of trust needed
for executive devolution does not exist but that Northern
Ireland cannot wait for the uncertain time-span needed to
test and assess the democratisation of the republican

This document sets out an alternative approach. Based on
facing reality, it seeks to move the process forward now by
a phased process of devolution which can bring
accountability to local political decisions by immediately
transferring decision making to local representatives in a
form of non-executive devolution which at the earliest
appropriate time and by an agreed mechanism can transform
into full executive devolution.

In the context of the recognised failure and collapse of
the Belfast Agreement institutions the DUP published a
number of documents setting out its policy for devolution.

In 2001 we published seven principles for devolution.

Those principles remain the foundation upon which we
believe devolution can be returned.


1. The DUP is a devolutionist party. We believe in
democratic, fair and accountable government.

2. No negotiating with the representatives of terrorism but
we will talk to other democratic parties.

3. Those who are not committed to exclusively peaceful and
democratic means should not be able to exercise
unaccountable executive power.

4. Terrorist structures and weaponry must be removed before
the bar to the Stormont Executive can be opened.

5. Any relationship with the Republic of Ireland should be
fully accountable to the Assembly.

6. The DUP will work to restore the morale and
effectiveness of the police force.

7. We will strive to ensure genuine equality for all
including equality in funding.

We later set out seven tests we would apply to the outcome
of any negotiations.


1. Any Agreement must command the support of both
Nationalists and Unionists.

2. Any Assembly must be democratic, fair and accountable.

Any executive power must be fully accountable to the

3. Only those committed to exclusively peaceful and
democratic means should exercise any Cabinet-style
Ministerial responsibility.

4. Within any new Agreement any relationship with the
Republic of Ireland must be fully accountable to the

5. A new settlement must be able to deliver equality of
opportunity to unionists as well as nationalists.

6. Agreed arrangements must be capable of delivering an
efficient and effective administration.

7. the outcome must provide a settlement within the UK, not
a process to a united Ireland. It must provide stable
government for the people of Northern Ireland and not be
susceptible to recurring suspension.


In 2003 we provided a critical analysis of the Belfast
Agreement which detailed the areas of the deal which were
unacceptable to the DUP and would have to be addressed if
the party’s support for devolution was to be secured. The
policy document ‘Towards a New Agreement’, provided the DUP
with a “to do list” for subsequent negotiations.

In particular it highlighted the totally unacceptable
provision in the Belfast Agreement which had allowed
terrorist representatives to sit in the “cabinet”. The
policy paper indicated that an unaccountable Executive with
unaccountable Ministers participating in an unaccountable
all-Ireland body was a fundamental flaw which had to be

In addition the paper proposed changes in the manner the
committees and the Assembly itself operated. Finally it
advocated a better deal for the victims of terrorism and
also judged that the balance between North-South and East-
West relations had to be redressed.


When we published our ‘Vision for Devolution’ in 2003
during the Assembly election it committed the party to
devolution and defined the ingredients the DUP determined
to be essential in any structures which would result from
future talks. The policy paper listed four key components.
Any new agreement must be – Stable: The Belfast Agreement
did not and was incapable of delivering stable government.
An alternative needs to be established which takes
cognisance of parties’ behaviour but is sufficiently robust
to withstand pressure.

Accountable: Ministers were not accountable to the Assembly
for their decisions. A mechanism for holding individual
Ministers to account must be established.

Effective: The Agreement failed to provide clear direction
or effective decision making thus making the process

The alternative is a system which is responsive removing
unnecessary levels in decision making.

Efficient: Political bureaucracy spiralled out of control
under the Agreement. The alternative must provide value for
money and cut back the costs of government.

We fought the Assembly election on the basis of these
commitments and the unionist electorate mandated us to
follow those policies, principles, tests and the underlying

After the election the DUP – now the largest party in the
Northern Ireland Assembly – took up its mandated role of
providing leadership to the community and published a set
of proposals which are as relevant today as when they were
first published. The document Devolution Now received a
favourable reception and encouraged the government to press
ahead with negotiations first at Lancaster House, then at
Leeds Castle and subsequently at meetings in both Belfast
and London.


Devolution Now took account of the political realities in
Northern Ireland declaring that only those who were
committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means
should exercise any Cabinet-style Ministerial
responsibility. The proposals suggested that powers would
be devolved to the Assembly and not the government
departments as under the Belfast Agreement. The Assembly
would be empowered to determine how such power was to be
exercised. The document outlined some possible models which
could result from such a development.

The administration could either be in the form of an
Executive or an arrangement where the Assembly acted as a
Corporate Body responsible for decision making in an agreed
manner. The Executive could be either a Voluntary Coalition
with collective cabinet responsibility or a Mandatory
Coalition (involving parties committed to exclusively
peaceful and democratic means) with arrangements for
accountability and effective decision making.

If an Executive could not be formed or if an executive
collapsed, powers would be transferred from the
Executive/Ministers to the Assembly. The decision making
process advocated in the Corporate Assembly Model was not
inconsistent with the modus operanda in local government.

The DUP declared it would not operate the Mandatory
Coalition with Sinn Fein before it met the Blair
Necessities but would operate the Voluntary Coalition with
parties including the SDLP immediately. The document added,
“If the SDLP is unwilling to operate a Voluntary Coalition
in the absence of SF then we would be willing to operate
the Corporate Assembly Model until either the SDLP agree to
operate a Voluntary Coalition or SF/IRA deliver on the
Blair Necessities.(Acts of completion, set by the PM
requiring the winding up of terrorism.)


In the European election the Devolution Now proposals were
placed before the electorate. The party again topped the
poll giving a clear mandate for its proposals. Again the
manifesto stated:

“A mandatory coalition to include Sinn Fein is only
possible when they are demonstrably committed to
exclusively peaceful and democratic means.”

It added:

”We believe that only when the Blair Necessities have been
met can Sinn Fein be entitled to a place in Government. The
political process must not be put on hold to await the

The DUP was sending an unmistakable message to republicans
that we would not mark time waiting on them to clean up
their act. The days of the UUP facilitating Sinn Fein were
over. There would be no movement for Sinn Fein until after
the IRA had stood down. The party defined what was needed
as the total decommissioning of its illegal weaponry and
the end of all its terrorist and criminal activity.


In December 2004 the government published proposals, which
were informed by a series of meetings with the political
parties which it believed represented the best chance of
gaining the support of parties in Northern Ireland for the
return of devolved government. Republicans had prematurely
left the negotiations clearly unwilling to deliver the end
of their illegal activities.

The constitutional elements of the proposals already showed
signs of improvement from the Belfast Agreement. In
particular the key issue of accountability had been
addressed. No longer could Ministers take unilateral
decisions without the support of other parties in the
Assembly. This applied not only to the devolved structure
but also, importantly, to the North-South relationship.

However, the government in publishing the proposals
remarked that they had been very carefully balanced. In
spite of their claim the government was soon to disturb
that “careful balance” by retreating on its requirement for
republicans to decommission in a visible and transparent


In the manifesto we said:

“...the DUP insisted that no-one who is associated with
paramilitarism or criminality will be in any Executive in
Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein could then only be considered
for entry to an Executive after –

:: complete visible, verifiable decommissioning;

:: a total end to all paramilitary and criminal activity;

:: the community is convinced the IRA has been stood down.

Inclusive, mandatory coalition government which includes
Sinn Fein under d’Hondt or any other system is out of the

If executive devolution cannot be set up on a satisfactory
basis, then the only option is to make Direct Rule more
accountable and acceptable. We will work with the
Government to provide the maximum accountability in these
circumstances and attempt to integrate Northern Ireland
more firmly within the United Kingdom.”

Again we asserted our conviction:

“We believe a voluntary coalition supported by democratic
parties across the community offers the best way forward.”

It is apparent that the SDLP is not willing to act
separately from Sinn Fein and thus there is no foreseeable
prospect of a voluntary coalition being set up. With trust
in Sinn Fein still not present at a level necessary to
countenance Sinn Fein’s entry into government and the SDLP
unwilling to form a voluntary coalition there is, as our
manifesto predicted, no route immediately open to executive


During the 2005 election campaign the DUP published a
document Moving On which sought to inject urgency into the
political process. The paper argued that decisions were
being taken which were to the detriment of the people of
Northern Ireland and we should not let Sinn Fein’s
inability to reform itself hold others back from taking
control of key matters.

The policy paper put, what was in fact, a final challenge
to the SDLP to form a Voluntary Coalition or the thrust of
DUP policy would move away from any immediate expectation
of Executive Devolution and towards what was attainable.

As far as a Mandatory Coalition including Sinn Fein was
concerned the document declared that “trust” was the key
component required to form and maintain an Executive. The
party contended that republicans needed much more time to
undertake the transition to exclusively democratic
politics. Time and events have justified that assessment.


The DUP’s firm stand on the pre-delivery of decommissioning
and the IRA ending all illegal activity as a standard that
must be met before Sinn Fein participation in government
started to bear fruit when the IRA carried out a
substantial act of decommissioning and stated it would end
its terror campaign. Regrettably republicans did not meet
the level of transparency recognised as necessary in the
Comprehensive Agreement leaving everyone unsure what level
of decommissioning had taken place and leaving the
community to test the commitment to ending paramilitary and
criminal activity on the basis of time and unfolding

The opportunity to build confidence had been lost and as
later events would show the republican movement was still
in paramilitary mode. It remains to be seen that there has
been a real change in republican paramilitary behaviour.
The unionist community is still dissatisfied with progress
in this area. No one can say illegal activity has ended
completely and for ever. Trust has been the casualty of the
lack of openness in decommissioning and ending the IRA’s
terror campaign.


The DUP stands ready to continue dialogue with the
government to advance the agenda outlined in this paper. It
will obviously still be a pre-requisite for the government
to deliver on the steps needed to provide the atmosphere
that will facilitate a positive outcome.

Without establishing equality and fairness unionist support
for political movement will be impeded.

We have consistently advised the government on ways to
improve confidence in the unionist community and we are
ready to offer further assistance in order to achieve our

Even the manner in which republicans handled the Denis
Donaldson affair by taking him away for
‘debriefing’indicates that they are still in paramilitary
mode. There is also clear evidence that criminal activity
still exists at a seemingly high level under the direction
of the republican movement. It is only the method of
organizing the crime that appears to have changed. Indeed
republicans still hold the proceeds of the Northern Bank
robbery and other previous criminal activities.

Whatever progress the IMC in January may be able to
identify, this falls well short of the level of certainty
that people will want and expect of Sinn Fein. In this
context the community choice is to continue to mark time,
waiting for republicans to transform, or to find a way
forward that does not require their participation at
executive level.

Setting aside executive devolution as a prospect for the
forseeable future leaves a range of possible structures
which can be considered which include low responsibility
bodies such as a shadow Assembly.

Then there are mid-range models which solely provide for
either legislative devolution or administrative devolution.
In the 70s and 80s the DUP had advocated legislative
devolution while the UUP had supported administrative

It is possible to construct a legislative devolution model
drawing upon the practices of the EU, where the task is
shared between the Council of Ministers and the Parliament.

The NIO Ministers would comprise a College or Council of

They, or the Assembly (through Committees or as a unitary
body), could propose legislation. All legislation on
transferred matters would be subject to a co-decision
procedure, whereby to be enacted the approval of both the
College of Ministers and the Assembly would be required.

In the EU both the Council and the Parliament each produce
their own opinion and review those of the other, with a
series of readings. If agreement can't be reached between
the EP and the Council a Conciliation Committee (consisting
of equal numbers from EP & Council) convenes to try and
agree a final text.

The approach of unionists in making an assessment of
republicans is coloured by the reality that while Sinn Fein
was negotiating an end to its paramilitary and criminal
activities, it was, at the same time organizing a bank
heist and proceeded to cover up a foul murder.

Even now, while indicating that it has ended its campaign,
P O’Neill is still issuing New Year’s messages highlighting
that the organization is still operational, though under

In essence a horse-trade results, before the legislation
returns to both bodies for final enactment.

On reserved matters the case could be made for consultation
with the Assembly, if that could be fitted into the
Westminster parliamentary processes.

Since legislative devolution was last considered the
constitutional arrangements in the UK have softened up.
Indeed the Leader of the House is presently considering
proposals whereby MEPs might sit on some committees with
MPs. It is therefore conceivable that the same facility
could be afforded to Members of a Regional Assembly when
matters relating to reserved legislation was being
processed At the high end there are possibilities which
give the Assembly full devolved power, not exercised by an
executive or cabinet but rather by the Assembly as a
corporate body. An example of such a structure is the
Corporate Assembly model which featured in our Devolution
Now policy document. The SDLP proposed a model which sought
to appoint outside Commissioners to undertake the role of

There are variants of both themes and even overlapping

One such model might be to make the Departmental Permanent
Secretaries responsible as officers of the Assembly and
subject to the will of the Assembly in much the same manner
as Council Officers are responsible to their District
Council while each of them still acts as head of their own
department. They would however have a collective role to
ensure joined-up government.

There is even the possibility of introducing progressive
devolution using elements from several options. For
example, it is possible to devise a scheme which commences
with a low-range model offering a deliberative Assembly and
progressively grafting on to it other functions and
responsibilities as trust grows.

In such a model - :: Parliament could amend the Northern
Ireland Act 2000 to allow for a partial un-suspension of
the Assembly. This un-suspension would not extend to the
Executive functions of devolution but would permit the
Assembly and its committees to meet.

:: In these arrangements Executive authority would continue
to be vested in the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
although a procedure analogous to that provided for in
paragraph 6 of Annex B of the Comprehensive Agreement could
permit requests for the review of Ministerial decisions.

:: At a later stage consideration could be given to
permitting the Assembly to legislate. It would have the
advantage of giving some real power to the Assembly and
encouraging a responsible approach, while not altering the
current arrangements for Westminster in the short term. It
would also encourage the parties to work together.

:: It may also be desirable for the Assembly to agree the
Budget though clearly in the event that it could not, the
option of simply passing it through Order in Council at
Westminster would be open to the Government. This would
encourage a responsible approach by members of the Assembly
and would prevent the culture of criticism which comes with
a lack of power.

:: The Assembly could also pass a Programme for Government
which would act as a powerful direction to Direct Rule

:: Assembly committees would be established to shadow the
work of the Departments and Ministers could attend the
Committees from time to time. It would be expected that
where the Assembly could agree a particular course of
action it would be a consideration which a Minister would
wish to take into account when making a decision.

The possibilities are endless and our listing of some of
them is only an indication of the variety of options which
could be employed.

The DUP has a view of the best option and would advance
this in any subsequent negotiations rather than appearing
to set the parameters beforehand.

It is sufficient, at this stage, to say –

:: waiting for the conditions required for executive
devolution to arrive is likely to cause the opportunity for
any form of devolution to pass given the need to have the
Assembly operating before May 2007;

:: we have a preference for a start-up model which allows
local politicians collectively to exercise the maximum
rather than the minimum power which is consistent with
prevailing circumstances;

:: we would wish to negotiate both the entry level and the
ultimate level of devolution of what ever type now;

:: we want the entry level to be considered only as a
preparatory point and not as an alternative to executive

:: we believe the community as a whole would prefer
tangible progress, however limited, in taking important
decisions away from the control of direct rule Ministers.

What is important is that there are a number of structures
which can allow devolution to proceed even in our present
circumstances and which can:

:: allow time to test the bona fides of republicans;

:: ensure the community is content with the arrangements
before we gear up to the next stage;

:: provide a role for those democratically elected in
Northern Ireland;

:: improve accountability and decision making;

:: halt some decisions being taken which are in the
pipeline and which will be very damaging to our community;

:: provide a politically neutral and safe option which does
no violence to any democratic party’s position.

This is a pragmatic and sensible way forward. It is a first
step but it is attainable. It is a system which allows for
further building blocks to be laid when the foundations are
firmly set.

We see merit in the government opening up negotiations in
the context of the enabling environment we have referred
to, in order to agree not only the entry level but also the
structures to which it is intended we should progress.

The DUP would participate in negotiations on the basis of
seeking such progressive movement but we would not see any
merit in participating in negotiations to solely agree a
form of executive devolution for which we believe the
essential ingredients, for the projected future, are


There are a number of advantages in such a proposition.

The agreement on the next level allows certainty about the
ultimate direction and destination of the Assembly when the
trust exists to the level required to progress to that

Our part in negotiations for the final form of devolution
to be adopted when circumstances are appropriate will
depend upon the extent to which progress is made on the
‘start-up’ form of devolution.

Equally if, after the elevation, an event occurs which
damages that trust and thereby destroys the cohesion of the
executive making it impossible for a coalition, of any
kind, to continue, the elevator can return to the lower
level and lessen the impact of the crisis on the community
who will still have continuity in service delivery and
consistent policy direction – only the method of decision
taking would change. When political stability is re-
established the elevator can rise again.


In many ways both the Belfast Agreement Assembly and that
envisaged in the government’s proposed Comprehensive
Agreement are emergency forms of enforced coalition which
in the longer term would not provide the best form of

Parties might wish to consider structures beyond those
needed to cope with Northern Ireland’s short to medium term

The advantage of the Phased Approach is that the form of
devolution can continue to rise but if circumstances
require it can fall to a lower level providing a safety net
and strengthening confidence in Northern Ireland’s
political future.


The recognised mechanism of attaining cross-community
support in the Assembly would be the standard which would
have to be met for movement to a higher level of

Equally if it was not possible to retain cross-community
support in the Assembly to work at a higher level the
structures drop to the lower level.

The government has consistently argued that the requirement
for cross-community support was and is necessary for
decisions to be taken in the Assembly because of the
divisions which exist in our society. It would be patently
unworkable to attempt to operate devolution of a type which
does not command support from both sections of the
community. This is plain common sense.


We are convinced, without loss to anyone’s position and
with minimal effort, an early start can be made on the
journey to full and accountable devolution. We will work
with others to reach this goal.

We are proposing this course of action in a genuine attempt
to lift the political process and create forward momentum.

You can request printed copies of all of the DUP policy
documents referred to in this publication - and more - from
DUP Party Headquarters or your local DUP Advice Centre.

You can also download PDF versions from our web site DUP POLICYDOCUMENTS:



SDLP Negotiated Agreement - Sinn Fein Negotiated
Concessions To DUP


Responding to Michelle Gildernew’s and Sinn
Fein’s latest misguided and ill informed attack on the
SDLP, SDLP West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood stated:

“The SDLP negotiated the Good Friday Agreement. It was a
good deal for nationalists and a good deal for all. The
SDLP will not concede an inch on it and all its values,
structures, safeguards and powers.

Sinn Fein’s latest outburst reflects the fact that Sinn
Fein are now increasingly desperate to cover their tracks
after they did fundamental damage to the Agreement in the
Robinson/McGuinness ‘Comprehensive Agreement’ of December

In December 2004 Sinn Fein signed off on the Comprehensive
Agreement. Sinn Fein still endorse the Comprehensive
Agreement and Sinn Fein therefore endorses a DUP veto over
nationalist ministers in a future Executive. When Sinn Fein
where in the lead as negotiators, the facts confirm that it
is Sinn Fein who watered down the Agreement, conceded big
ground to the DUP and agreed a worse deal for nationalists.
No wonder Sinn Fein hits out now. Nationalists see through
all of this and know that their future is not safe in Sinn
Fein’s hands”.


Sinn Féin Rejects McCartney Claims

31 January 2006 20:09

Sinn Féin has rejected claims that it has not done enough
to help the family of murdered Belfast man Robert

Mr McCartney was killed a year ago and his family have made
a new appeal for information.

His sister Paula said they had not been shown the results
of internal investigations carried out by Sinn Féin and the
IRA and asked why these could not be passed on.

However, Sinn Fein's Chief Negotiator, Martin McGuinness,
claimed the party had done everything in its power to
assist the McCartney family.

Speaking at a press conference on the first anniversary of
the killing, the McCartney family urged the driver of a
mystery blue car to help end their year of torment and
bring his killers to justice.

The PSNI has made a new appeal over the vehicle they
believe was stopped at traffic lights near the scene of the
Belfast city centre stabbing.

Paula McCartney insisted the pain and trauma would not ease
until the gang members responsible were all caught.

She said: 'Our grieving process has been hindered by the
fact that the people who took his life for no reason at all
have not been held to account. We also believe if we had
some closure by these people being brought to justice it
would help in the grieving process of this family.

'We are practically begging people, please, if they have
any information at all, release it and put this family out
of the misery they have been suffering for a year.'

PSNI Detective Inspector Philip Marshall urged the
occupants of the large blue car, make and model unknown,
that was driving through Belfast city centre on the night
Mr McCartney was killed to consider the possible
significance of what they saw.

He said: 'The driver or occupants of this large blue car
may not realise what they were seeing was an attack in
which Robert was killed.'

Police have studied CCTV footage of two potential routes
the vehicle took on the night, including at one point being
on East Bridge Street waiting to turn on to Victoria

Detectives believe the car stopped at a red traffic light
for up to 70 seconds near where the violent struggle was
taking place.

Mr Marshall added that Robert and a number of other people
were on the road in front of that vehicle.


Gerry Adams To Address Ógra Shinn Féin Congress

Tuesday January 31, 2006 18:35

by Irish Republican Youth - Ógra Shinn Féin

Gerry, Adams the president of Sinn Féin is set to address
the Ógra Shinn Féin national congress when it convenes this

The congress, which is being held in the A.T.G.W.U. hall in
middle abbey street, Dublin, will see the launch of the
youth partys suicide prevention campaign. The Sinn Féin
party president will launch Ógra Shinn Féins campaign at
the event. Mr. Adams, who is Sinn Féin spokesperson on
suicide prevention, will give the main address of the
congress on Saturday 4th February.

Speaking ahead of the congress National Organiser of Ógra
Shinn Féin Mickey Bravender said "The issue of people
taking their own lives or attempting to take their own
lives is a major social issue on the island of Ireland.
This country has the second highest suicide rate in

Europe; this rate has increased by more than 25% over the
last decade"

"Through the campaign we will also be calling for more
money to be granted to mental illnesses and seek better
provision for the treatment of metal illnesses. We as young
republican activists must be active on this issue as
suicide as is biggest killer of young people in Ireland. An
all Ireland mental health strategy must be formulated,
funded and implemented as this issue does not simply stop
at the 'border'." he concluded

Related Link:


Parades Commission To 'Walk The Walk' In Derry

Tuesday 31st January 2006

Members of the Parades Commission will visit Derry tomorrow
where they will meet with Garvan O'Doherty to discuss ways
to deal with contentious marches.

Parades Commission Chairman Roger Poole will meet with the
Derry businessman, who was instrumental is brokering
agreement between the Apprentice Boys and Bogside Residents
which saw the city hailed as a template for peaceful
parades, before embarking on a walking tour of the city
walls and parade flashpoint areas.

Speaking last night a spokesperson for the Commission told
the 'Journal' that Derry was the first stop in a new 'walk
the walk' initiative. "Roger Poole is very keen to visit
areas across the North which have been focal points for
marching issues," he said.

"The Commission wants to see what can be learned from
experiences in Derry and apply those principles to other

"The Parades Commission played no role in Derry and that is
a situation we want to see rolled out across Northern

Meanwhile Garvan O'Doherty said he hoped to give the
Commission a 'clear and concise' overview of how the
marching issue in Derry has been resolved in the short

"I will be happy to share those experiences with Roger
Poole and Commission members and offer some thoughts for
them to consider," he said.


Restrictions On Paramilitaries Lifted In Maghaberry Prison

Gráinne McWilliams

Republican and loyalist prisoners are to be held under a
less restrictive regime at Maghaberry prison, the prisons
minister has announced.

Shaun Woodward said prison reforms would include a
reduction of "rub-down" searches, additional education
facilities and an extension of prisoner visiting rights.

Local councillors from political parties with no
representation at Westminster, European Parliament or
Assembly member level will also have new visiting

The move follows an internal review of the current
segregated regime, under which paramilitary prisoners are

"Ordinary" criminals are held separately in another wing at
Maghaberry and under a different regime. The review took
into consideration the views of prisoner groups, their
political representatives and prisoners themselves.

The segregated regime was introduced in 2004 on the
recommendations of the Steele Report, commissioned by the
then secretary of state Paul Murphy in response to rooftop
protests by Maghaberry inmates demanding the separation of
paramilitary prisoners.

Mr Woodward has asked for a response to a proposed two-tier
regime that would reward good behaviour, and also on
voluntary drug testing.

Compliance with these could reward inmates with an extra
£15 per week, and the extension of the exercise yard and
recreational shower facilities. Speaking yesterday, the
minister stressed that the changes would strike "an
important balance" in the prison service by reflecting its
desire to move forward, while still holding to the
principles underlying the existing agreements.

He stressed it was of paramount importance that prison
officers remained in control at Maghaberry at all times.

Controlled movement will be retained at its current ratio
of five staff to every three prisoners on each prison
landing, he said. However, an exception of four staff to
every two prisoners would be allowed when only four
officers are available, he said.

It is hoped that this will prevent a return to "Maze-style
conditions" where prisoners heavily outnumbered staff.

© The Irish Times


Robinson Criticises Bush Use Of Power

Karlin Lillington, in Lisbon

President George Bush has shown "a worrying assertion of
presidential power" since the September 11th, 2001,
terrorist attacks on the United States, former Irish
president and UN high commissioner for human rights Mary
Robinson told an audience of government leaders here

In a keynote speech on human rights and globalisation at
Microsoft's annual post-Davos Government Leaders' Forum,
Mrs Robinson said the issue was "incredibly important" and
noted: "An assertion of presidential power that is above
the law is dreadful." The five years since 9/11 had been
very difficult for human rights, she added.

Mr Bush drew criticism in the US recently after revelations
that he had ordered the telephone and internet surveillance
of individuals in the US without using warrants. In
addition, human rights organisations have had long-standing
concerns about the detention camps for terrorism suspects
in Guantánamo Bay and, more recently, so-called "rendition

Mr Bush has defended his actions by citing presidential
privilege in the war against terrorism, but civil rights
activists say surveillance without legal warrants is

Mrs Robinson said that, while the US had a working system
of governmental checks and balances - with government
scrutinised by the press, academia, the courts and non-
governmental organisations (NGOs) - this system had come
under pressure from the Bush administration since 9/11.

"What's very worrying is the trend, and the advice being
given, that presidential power is above the law," she said
after her speech.

Such powers had only rarely been used in the past, but it
was happening more often. "It's very important for a
superpower that, in extending presidential power, the rule
of law is observed," Mrs Robinson said.

In her keynote she said it was time to talk about knowledge
societies, not just knowledge economies. "Knowledge is a
public good, not just a public commodity," she said.

Human rights organisations could work more closely with
businesses and governments to achieve real gains across
areas including migration and development, and the gender

Human rights could be advanced if countries - especially in
the developing world - collected and analysed more basic
data and vital statistics about their populations.

These would give baseline information and a better
understanding of populations and their environment, Mrs
Robinson told the meeting.

"I challenge European governments who are donors to big
development programmes in developing countries to also
develop their databases," she said.

She also said that if European governments worked closely
with technology companies, they could harness the potential
of information and communication technologies for human

© The Irish Times


Opin: Criminality And The British Army

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

When asked what he thought of western civilisation, Gandhi
is reported to have said that he reckoned it would be a
good idea. That retort comes to mind as fair-minded MPs in
the British House of Commons pledge to make the British
Army criminal-free.

The initiative led by SDLP leader Mark Durkan and backed by
the Pat Finucane Centre is a worthy one indeed and it’s to
be hoped that the early day motion is carried.

However, the motion can’t be allowed to succeed because
without soldiers willing to break every law in Christendom
in order to impose the dictates of Parliament, the British
Army couldn’t function.

In fact, the British enjoy the dubious honour of having
perpetrated more brutality and torture on their colonial
subjects than any other western power. While for some the
word Empire may conjure up images of lords in ermine and
knights in garter, in the developing world the word is
synonomous with rapine and slaughter. All carried out by
soldiers of the Crown.

In her just-published, devastating account of Britain’s
colonial misdeeds in Kenya 50 years ago, “Britain’s Gulag”,
author Caroline Elkins spells out in sickening detail the
lengths to which the British Army went in order to supress
the Mau Mau uprising. British Army-led forces were
responsible for countless massacres

In the Kandara outrage, “the British security forces just
went crazy”. “They stripped the local people naked and
started beating them. Some were led off and shot; others
were executed right there.”

The ‘UDR’ of the era, the Home Guard, were well schooled in
British Army tactics.

“The Home Guard posts were the epicentres of torture,”
writes Elkins. “If a woman was suspected of harbouring Mau
Mau sympathies she could be sent to the Home Guard post.
After a thorough beating outside of her hut, a woman was
taken to the ndaki. The ndaki was about four foot deep,
halfway filled with water...forcing those inside to fumble
their way around in the darkness...there were generally a
dozen or more captives inside. They often huddled together
for warmth and for protection against the vermin and snakes
that infested the cell....Sometimes the Home Guards took
the initiative, squeezing and mutilating women’s breasts
with pliers, pushing vermin and rifles into their vaginas,
and forcing them to run naked while carrying buckets of
excrement on their heads. The women were also raped,
oftentimes repeatedly by several men. Resistance could lead
to summary execution.”

Post-conflict, there was to be no public accounting in
Britain, adds Elkins, for the “torture, murder and
starvation of men, women and children. Indeed there was a
great deal of sympathy, if not admiration for the
professional soldiers”.

Criminals in the British Army? Perish the thought.


Opin: State Of The Union Agitated

By Ron Fournier
AP Political Writer

WASHINGTON -- The state of the union is fretful.

President Bush acknowledged the public's agitated state
Tuesday night when he gave voice to growing concerns about
the course of the nation he has led for five years. His
credibility no longer the asset it once was, the president
begged Americans' indulgence for another chance to fix

There is no shortage: the Iraq war, global terrorism, a
nuclear Iran, a stingy global economy, skyrocketing health
care costs, troubled U.S. schools, rising fuel costs,
looming budget deficits and government corruption. All
received presidential attention Tuesday night.

In his fifth State of the Union address, Bush sought to
balance his usual optimistic message with an odd-fitting
acknowledgment that many Americans are suffering beneath a
crush of change.

"Fellow citizens, we have been called to leadership in a
period of consequence. We have entered a great ideological
conflict we did nothing to invite," Bush said. "We see
great changes in science and commerce that will influence
all our lives. And sometimes it can seem that history is
turning a wide arc, toward an unknown shore."

Unknown and uneasy.

At a private home tucked in a quiet neighborhood in Costa
Mesa, Calif., about two dozen people from all walks of life
gathered to watch Bush's speech while eating tacos and
potato chips. One of them, social worker Julie Carlson,
said she felt "negative" about the overall state of the
nation, particularly the health care system.

"There seems to be every week something that comes up,
something I don't agree with or something that disheartens
me," said Carlson, 29.

The problem for Bush is that few of these troubles are new.
He's had five years to ease people's pain.

Nearly 46 million Americans have no health insurance, up
nearly a million in the last year. Health care costs are
increasing three or four times the rate of inflation.

One of the first successes of Bush's presidency was the
2002 No Child Left Behind law, but parents still wonder
about the quality of education in their schools. For the
first time in generations, American children could face
poorer prospects than their parents and grandparents did.

Calling for less dependency on foreign oil is a State of
the Union evergreen. Bush has done so in every address.

The president who promised to be a uniter, not a divider,
has presided over the hyper-polarization of Washington.

Osama bin Laden has not been caught.

Weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq.

Victory in that war seems elusive, with more than 2,240
American troops killed - and counting.

The divide over Iraq spilled into the House chamber, where
parents of fallen soldiers attended in support of Bush and
peace protester Cindy Sheehan was arrested just before the

The solutions Bush offered were relatively small-bore and
wrapped in familiar language: tax cuts, health savings
accounts, alternative energy research and investments in
education to help keep America competitive with emerging
democracies; and a stay-the-course approach to fighting

Ten months before congressional elections, Bush accused
foreign policy critics of "defeatism." He also took a jab
at critics in his own party on immigration.

Bush's goal in the address was to acknowledge the public's
concerns, and if not solve their every problem, assure them
he will try to do better.

"He's learned that the election is over - and now he's free
to acknowledge that course change doesn't necessarily mean
a mistake," said Republican consultant Rich Galen.

Bush spoke of the global economy and suggested that
competitors like China and India are making gains on the
United States. "This creates an uncertainty, which makes it
easier to feed people's fears."

He said violent crime, abortions and teenage pregnancies
are down in an era that has seen Americans take more
responsibility - "a revolution of conscience" he called it.
"Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep
concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health
of our basic institutions," he said.

The mood of the nation is unsettled. Nearly 7 of 10
American believes the country is headed in the wrong
direction. Bush's job approval ratings are among the lowest
of his presidency.

At the core of his political problems is his loss of
credibility. Most voters believed he was a strong and
principled leader in 2004, leading many to support him
despite their opposition to the Iraq war and a sluggish

They are no longer giving him the benefit of the doubt.

The proportion of Americans who credit the president with
being honest and straightforward has fallen, as has the
percentage who credit him for strong leadership qualities.

Democrats hope those numbers don't change after Bush's
address. "It's an attempt to make himself healthy before
the midterms," said Democratic strategies Dane Strother.
Americans may be anxious, he said, "but they're not dumb."


EDITOR'S NOTE: Ron Fournier has covered the White House and
politics for The Associated Press since 1992. Gillian
Flaccus in Costa Mesa, Calif., contributed to this story.


Sheehan Removed From House Chamber Before Speech

From Associated Press

Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq who
reinvigorated the anti-war movement, was taken into custody
by police in the House gallery tonight just before
President Bush's State of the Union address.

Police escorted Sheehan from the visitors' gallery above
the House chamber after causing a disruption, said a
Capitol Police official, who spoke on condition of
anonymity because details of the incident were sketchy.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., had invited Sheehan to the
address as her guest.

"I'm proud that Cindy's my guest tonight," Woolsey said in
an interview before the speech. "She has made a difference
in the debate to bring our troops home from Iraq."

Woolsey offered Sheehan a ticket to the speech -- Gallery
5, seat 7, row A -- earlier Tuesday while Sheehan was
attending an "alternative state of the union" press
conference by CODEPINK, a group promoting the end of the
Iraq war.


Iraq’s All Too Frequent Bloody Sundays

A former US army platoon sergeant who served in Iraq –
founding member of Iraq Veterans against the War – says
America has now lost all moral authority to be in the

David Lynch

A former US soldier who served in Iraq has claimed many
Bloody Sundays are happening in the war-torn country every

In an interview with Daily Ireland, Jimmy Massey, a former
platoon sergeant with the US army, pointed to the
revelations around the horrific Abu Ghraib torture cells as
when the “final rupture” between the Iraqis and the US
troops occurred.

When told that last weekend marked the anniversary of the
Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry, Mr Massey drew the

“Millions of different types of Bloody Sundays are
happening across Iraq now. We have purposely demonised the
Iraqi people and when we did that it created an over
whelming rift that we couldn’t pave over, especially when
Abu Ghraib broke.

“When that broke, that was pretty much a horrible icing on
the cake for the Iraqis.

“Now they had concrete evidence of the torture, so there
are many Bloody Sunday’s through out Iraq and that is
causing resentment amongst the ordinary Iraqis against the
US troops.

“If I could ask one question to George Bush it would be –
how can you tell a 25-year-old Iraqi male who has just
witnessed his brother being killed at a checkpoint not to
become an insurgent?

“We are breeding more insurgents because of our actions and
the dehumanisation that we have forced upon the Iraqi

Jimmy Massey is a founding member of Iraq Veterans against
the War. He was a platoon sergeant in 7th Marines during
the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

After witnessing first hand the horror of war he refused to
continue. After a hard fight he was discharged and has
since been telling people the “truth about the war in

Jimmy lives with his wife in North Carolina.

Although he was meant to go through Shannon Airport on his
way to Iraq, Mr Massey says that he and his troops were
diverted to Frankfurt because of protests at the Irish

While outlining a number of horrible incidents he was
involved in with other US troops that led to the death of
Iraqi civilians, Mr Massey says that the early reaction of
the Iraqis was heart-warming. However, that quickly

“I only came under direct fire one time. Other than that it
was just sporadic gun fire over here, sporadic gun fire
over there. Up to that I did not see a whole lot of
resistance. When we went into the towns they, treated us
like liberators.

“They provided us with tea they even brought us flowers. It
got so bad at one point that our Marines were taking the
flowers and putting them in their helmets. That was the
relaxed atmosphere that was there in the beginning.

“Once we got into Baghdad things changed. That was when we
started getting the over-inflated intelligence reports of
civilians loading down police cars with explosives, loading
down ambulances with explosives, and then running them into
Marine checkpoints. None of this came true. So in essence
it put a sense of fear into the Marines when you hear these
over-inflated intelligence reports, and then they become

“Then you get scenarios that happen.”

Although very bitter against his own government, Mr Massey
said that he was hopeful that the peace movement in
American could continue to grow.

“The American people do not want to admit they were wrong.
America being the major power, a bit like Rome when it had
its empire, it does not want to admit that it has done
wrong. America being a First World, military power has
devastated its own economy. We have taken our jobs and we
have outsourced them all across the oceans, to China and
other places.

“You are left with wide amounts of poverty in the US, and
then you get the poor being economically conscripted into
the military. So basically you have military personnel who
are economically conscripted in because they need medical
benefits, they need university education.

“We have got to a point in America now that we have seen
the error in our ways. It is just openly admitting that we
were wrong.

“And that is what Bush does not want to do. He wants to
wait for the next guy to have to sort it out.

“This war is going to continue as long as Bush is in office
– troop reduction or whatever – but it is going to

“The next guy that comes in is going to have to be the
person who says that America is no longer a First World,
economic power and we have failed and this war must stop.
Or he is going to continue this war with all the slaughter.

“You have, at the moment, troop numbers dwindling –
enlistment is down. They are basically picking the bottom
of the barrel to go over there.

“The next presidency is going to be the big one in terms of
determining where America stands in terms of the rest of
the world. Are we going to be a force for peace or are we
going to continue with Iraq.”

Calling for a complete withdrawal of US occupying forces in
Iraq, Mr Massey is quick to defend his stance from those
who argue that withdrawal now will lead to chaos in Iraq.

“No. It is simple. You tell the Iraqi people that the
troops are to be out in say October 2007. During that time
you go to them and you ask them do they want the UN to come
in to do the humanitarian and peace-keeping work.

“We must ask the Iraqis who they want to come in and
rebuild their country.”

“Whoever the next president is should get the UN involved
and should allow for more peace-keeping missions throughout
Iraq – instead of the constant combat role that the
American forces are presently playing.”

The Irish anti-war group Cosantóiri Síochána will host
Jimmy Massey tonight at 7.30pm in the Davis Theatre Arts
Block, Room 2043, Trinity College, Dublin. For more
information on Iraq the Veterans against the War vist their


Harney Bans Sale Or Possession Of 'Magic' Mushrooms

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

The sale and possession of "magic" mushrooms was
yesterday banned by Minister for Health Mary Harney.

The order, which has immediate effect, clarifies an
ambiguity in current legislation, which makes it illegal to
sell the hallucinogenic mushrooms if they are processed but
not in their raw state.

After being agreed at yesterday's Cabinet meeting, Ms
Harney introduced a regulation under the Misuse of Drugs
Act to make it illegal to sell them in any form.

Ms Harney said yesterday that a meeting she had in December
with the family of a young man who died after taking
"magic" mushrooms made her realise the extent of the

"At that time it had become clear that the sale of 'magic'
mushrooms was increasingly commonplace, and I directed that
legislation be prepared to clarify the law to ensure that
the trade in these drugs could not continue. I have signed
the statutory instrument required to give effect to that
legislation today."

Liam Twomey, Fine Gael spokesman on health, said the ban
clarified a confusing legal situation.

"What you have to ask with any drug is whether they are
addictive, and 'magic' mushrooms have this addictiveness.
Not everyone who takes them will die as a result, but there
is the potential. I don't think any country in the world
could allow that drug to be sold openly."

Gráinne Kenny, president of the Dublin-based Europe against
Drugs (Eurad), welcomed the ban. "The gardaí have done
their best before now, but their hands were tied. These are
all hallucinogenic substances and they're very unstable.
You don't know what effect they're going to have from
person to person."

While the drug might remain on the black market, she said,
it would now be socially unacceptable. "Before now, people
said, 'sure they can't be harmful, they're legal'. There's
so much ignorance and apathy out there. I welcome them
being banned. If they are pushed underground, at least the
gardaí have a free hand to prosecute."

Bríann O'Connor, co-owner of Ireland's largest chain of
"magic" mushroom shops, Irish Head Stores, said the ban was

In July 2005, he said, he received a letter from Minister
for Justice Michael McDowell confirming that it was not an
offence to possess or sell raw mushrooms. Despite this, he
and his staff had been arrested several times in recent

"If this only became illegal at 4pm today, then why was I
arrested all those times, and why did the gardaí confiscate
€20,000 worth of my stock?" he said.

Last week, Helen Stone, who runs the Funky Skunk shop in
Cork city, failed to secure a High Court order stopping
Customs officers from seizing shipments.

© The Irish Times


Move To Outlaw Sale Of Magic Mushrooms Welcomed

Published: 31 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has
welcomed the Táinaiste Mary Harney’s commitment today to
outlaw the sale of magic mushrooms in this state. Speaking
today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said it was regrettable that it had
taken “the tragic death of a young man and the courage of
his family in highlighting the issue to get the government
to act.”

He said, “I welcome Minister Harney’s commitment today to
outlaw the sale of magic mushrooms in this state. I would
advocate that the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act
should be introduced as a stand alone bill in order to
facilitate speedy passage given the likely cross party
support. Once outlawed, all existing stocks of magic
mushrooms in shops across the state should be confiscated
and destroyed.

“The loophole in the law that has allowed the sale of these
drugs to continue should have been closed when the British
Government identified a similar loophole in their system
last year. Regrettably it took the tragic death of a young
man and the courage of his family in highlighting the issue
to get the government to act.” ENDS


Traders Dismayed By Legal Bar

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Retailers stocking "magic" mushrooms reacted with dismay
yesterday to the news that the drug was to be outlawed.

"It's proof that this is a nanny state," said Paul Griffin,
whose shop, Funguy, in Temple Bar, Dublin, has been selling
the mushrooms since it opened in November last year.

"I don't think there is any danger at all from them," he
said. "There's always danger with excess, but you can walk
into a bar, sit down and drink three-quarters of a bottle
of whiskey, and the barman will not advise you of the
dangers of that whiskey. 'Magic' mushrooms are just an easy
one to target."

Until yesterday afternoon it was legal to sell raw "magic"
- or psychoactive - mushrooms. However, under the Misuse of
Drugs Act it was an offence to possess or sell them once
they had been treated, either by drying or cooking. The
mushrooms have been freely available in raw form at dozens
of shops around the country.

Although Funguy also sells clothes, the mushrooms account
for about 90 per cent of its income, Mr Griffin said. "Now
I'll have to diversify, or go under. The rents are very
dear in Temple Bar, and the mushrooms are paying the rent."

The shop sells four "varieties" of mushroom - Thai,
McKennai, Ecuadorian and Golden teachers - all of which are
imported from Holland and cost €25 for 30g. "Magic"
mushroom truffles are priced €15 for 12g.

Mr Griffin believes that the measure will prove

"The underworld is just going to get it [ the business]
now. They're going to grow mushrooms, they're going to dry
them, they're going to put them in capsules.

"And with capsules, who is going to know what's in them?
The underworld are just going to run amok with this now.
They see there's money in it."

Another Dublin stockist, The Head Store, has been raided by
gardaí several times in the past year. According to Brian,
an employee, the shop has a strict over-18s policy and does
not sell more than one portion of 20g to most customers.

"We feel if it's regulated, then we can tell people about
them, unlike if they're pushed underground," he said. "If
we think someone is coming in here just to get off their
head, we won't serve them. But we get all sorts coming in
and they're mature about it. It's a bad day for personal

Alcohol is a more pressing problem, he added. "People on
mushrooms are much less likely to get aggressive than
someone drinking. Ninety-nine per cent of the time it's a
very calming, relaxing experience."

According to Paul Griffin, problems arise only when "magic"
mushrooms are taken in excess. "I've been taking the
mushrooms for a long, long time and I've never felt I could
fly or never did anything stupid."

© The Irish Times


20,000 Return To Ireland Each Year - Brennan

By John Collins Last updated: 31-01-06, 15:06

More than 20,000 Irish emigrants are returning home to
settle in Ireland each year, according to Minister for
Social and Family Affairs Seamus Brennan.

According to the latest statistics, almost 132,000 Irish
people have returned to live in Ireland since 2001.

The Minister was speaking at the Emerald Isle Immigration
Centre in New York where he unveiled a new edition of the
Returning to Ireland guide published by Emigrant Advice.

I can assure all involved that this issue [undocumented
Irish in the US] has the highest priority for the Irish
Government and is also being constantly pursued at the
highest diplomatic levels

Minister for Social and Family Affairs Seamus Brennan

Almost 14,000 immigrants moved to Ireland from the United
States since 2000, and the vast majority of those were
returning emigrants.

Emigrant Advice, is a project of Crosscare, the Dublin
Diocese Social Care Agency, and has been working with
migrants since 1987. Its guide includes information on
topics such as social welfare, health, taxation, and

Mr Brennan said he was also very aware of the concerns
there are in New York and other areas of the United States
over the number of undocumented Irish and the problems they
are currently encountering.

"While it is difficult to estimate the numbers of
undocumented Irish people, the essential problem of the
undocumented population is not its size but rather the
burden of stress which their uncertain status causes them
and their families in Ireland," said Mr Brennan.

"I can assure all involved that this issue has the highest
priority for the Irish Government and is also being
constantly pursued at the highest diplomatic levels."

© 2006


Dublin Ranked Among World's Most Expensive Cities

31/01/2006 - 14:22:15

The high price of living in Dublin was underlined today as
it was listed among the 20 most expensive cities in the

Living in the capital now costs more than enjoying the chic
of Milan, the cool of Stockholm or the money markets of
Singapore, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The EUI’s worldwide cost of living survey ranked Dublin at
16, a jump of five places into the top 20.

The city now lies ahead of Berlin, Amsterdam and Lyon and
lags only two places behind Hong Kong.

Dermot Jewell, Consumers Association chief executive, noted
that cinema prices, drink, hotel rooms and eating out were
major factors in pushing Dublin up the scale.

“We are such a popular city with visitors and while there
are reasonable prices for some, it’s at its highest if you
were just to land in Dublin and hit the main drag,” he

And the consumer rights chief warned that prices were not
likely to begin dropping any time soon noting that
hoteliers in Dublin continued to make more than others
across Europe.

“It really doesn’t matter what element you use to approach
and assess the city it has become expensive, it has stayed
expensive and it will continue to be expensive,” he said.

The twice yearly EUI cost of living survey records prices
for over 160 items including drink, clothing,
entertainment, tobacco and the average shopping basket.

Scandinavian countries and Japan upheld their reputations
for being the priciest places in the world with Oslo
topping the poll, Reykjavik and Helsinki hit the top 10,
while Tokyo and Osaka stayed in the top five.

Eight of the 10 most expensive cities in the survey are now
based in Europe, with London seventh, although Paris,
ranked fourth, is the only one in the euro zone.

But even with the constant moaning about the cost of
living, Ireland continues to enjoy low inflation and the
fifth-highest GDP per head in the world at €30,837 helping
to give it the best quality of life anywhere.

Two years ago the Economist Intelligence Unit predicted our
property prices were overvalued, but since then they have
shown no sign of abating.

The most recent survey by Permanent TSB/ESRI recorded
national growth of 9.3% in 2005 - an increase on the rate
of growth in 2004.

Consumer rights chief Mr Jewell said: “The reality is that
without a doubt we have a significant amount of people who
are struggling to make ends meet. The market and the
situation that they will be in, and will be staying in, is
rented accommodation for the rest of their remains.”

Mortgage provider Permanent TSB found prices in Kerry grew
fastest – up 15% - compared to 10% in Dublin and just 2% in
Leitrim with first time buyers having to fork out €250,000
for a home.

Niall O’Grady, head of marketing with the bank, forecast
10% growth to continue in 2006.

“Looking ahead at price growth this year strong demand
looks set to remain a major factor, though the likelihood
of further interest rate increases may act to dampen its
impact somewhat especially so in the second half of 2006,”
he said.

“At this stage we’re anticipating an average rate of price
increase of approximately 10%.”

Meanwhile, auctioneers Douglas Newman Goode revealed their
annual figures which showed prices for second hand home
rose by €230 everyday last year with the average cost now
at €468,273.


Irish Playwright Nominated For Oscar

Last updated: 31-01-06, 18:02

A film directed by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh has
been nominated for an Oscar.

The comedy, Six Shooter, was nominated for a prestigious
Academy Award in the Best Live Action Short Film category.

After the nominations were announced in Beverly Hills,
California, Simon Perry, the chief executive of the Irish
Film Board, said: "This is fantastic news and we
congratulate all involved with this hugely successful short

The recognition of Irish filmmakers at this level once
again illustrates the high standard of new film-making
talent Ireland has to offer."

Other Irish hopefuls including Cillian Murphy for his role
in Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto and Pierce Brosnan for
The Matador failed to make the list.


© 2006


Gerry Adams Expresses Regret At Death Of Coretta Scott King

Published: 31 January, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has expressed his regret at
the death of Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Lurther
King who died earlier today in Atlanta.

Mr Adams said:

"Coretta Scott King was a dedicated champion of civil
rights for over 40 years. She was part of a movement along
with her late husband who inspired civil rights activists
across the world including here in Ireland.

"After her husbands death she carried on the campaign for
equality and justice right up until her passing earlier
today in Atlanta.

"Our sympathies are with her family and many friends at
this time." ENDS


Ruairi Brugha Had ‘A Deep Sense Of Patriotism’

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

RUAIRI BRUGHA, the former Fianna Fáil TD and MEP who died
yesterday, was described by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as a
person with a real passion for politics and a deep sense of

The Taoiseach said during his political career Mr Brugha
“immersed himself in the very noble task of fostering
reconciliation and promoting greater North-South

Born in 1918, Mr Brugha was the only son of prominent
republican Cathal Brugha and his wife Caitlín.

Both his parents were Sinn Féin TDs and his father was
Minister for Defence in the Government of the first Dáil.
An opponent of the Treaty, he was killed during the Civil

Mr Brugha married Máire McSwiney in 1945. She was the
daughter of Terence McSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork who
died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison in 1920.

In 1948, Mr Brugha stood unsuccessfully for Clann na
Poblachta in Waterford but then fell out with the party
leadership. He later joined Fianna Fáil and stood for the
party for the first time in 1969. Although he failed to win
a seat then, he became a TD in 1973.

Four years later, he lost his seat, despite Fianna Fáil
recording a landslide victory. However, two years later he
was among the first Irish MEPs to be elected to the
European Parliament, where he served one term.

He returned to the Oireachtas as a senator in the 1980s. He
retained a lifelong interest in Europe and was honorary
president of the European Movement in Ireland.

Yesterday, Mr Ahern said: “I last met Ruairi in October
when I had the pleasure of launching History’s Daughter,
the remarkable memoir written by his wife Máire MacSwiney

Mr Brugha is survived by his wife Máire and an extended


Bronze Age Remains Found In Burren Cave

Marese McDonagh

Human remains of an adult and a young child dating to the
Bronze Age have been discovered in a cave in the Burren.

Dr Marion Dowd, a lecturer in archaeology at the Institute
of Technology in Sligo, who led the excavation at
Glencurran cave, said the findings were significant for a
number of reasons.

"It is interesting that the remains were not burnt, because
cremation was the normal burial rite in the Bronze Age,"
she said.

Dr Dowd, who will give a public lecture on her findings at
the Sligo Institute of Technology today, said Glencurran
cave had not previously been identified as a Bronze Age
burial ground.

After cavers discovered human bones on the floor of the
cave, she decided to investigate further.

"When we started we had no idea what we would find, or
indeed if we would find anything," she said.

"I had never heard of Glencurran cave before and, indeed,
there are very few excavated Bronze Age burial grounds in
Co Clare."

Dr Dowd added: "I have been digging for 14 years now, but I
never worked on a site like this before. It is very

In 2004 and 2005 the remains of three adults and one child,
aged two to three, were found in the cave, as well as
evidence of more recent human habitation, probably dating
back 1,200 to 1,400 years.

The team has used carbon-dating to conclude that the body
of one adult was placed in the cave 3,000 years ago and
that the child died 2,500 years ago.

"We hope to establish how they died, how old they were,
their sex, if they had any illness or disease and more
details about lifestyle," Dr Dowd said .

She said she also hopes to determine how old the other
human remains found in the cave are.

"We believe that the cave was occupied probably by one
person who slept inside and cooked outside," she said.

© The Irish Times


Meteor Industry Award For Bill Whelan

Grammy Award-winning composer Bill Whelan is to be
presented with the prestigious Industry Award at the 2006
Meteor Ireland Music Awards.

Perhaps best known as the composer of 'Riverdance',
Whelan's work with Irish traditional music and musicians
spans 26 years.

In 1980 he was a member of the legendary Planxty, going on
to produce records for many folk artists including Andy
Irvine, Stockton's Wing and Davy Spillane.

His production and arranging credits also include U2, Van
Morrison, Kate Bush, Richard Harris and The Dubliners.

In 1989 he was appointed composer to the WB Yeats
International Theatre Festival at Dublin's Abbey Theatre
and, since then, he has written original music for 15 Yeats

Originally composed for the interval act of the 1994
Eurovision Song Contest. 'Riverdance' was an orchestral
piece conceived for hard-shoe Irish dance.

Whelan received a Best Musical Show Album Grammy Award in
1997 for his recording of 'Riverdance'.

His own compositional work in film includes 'Lamb' starring
Liam Neeson, Sean O'Mordha's historical documentary series
'The Seven Ages', the Terry George/Jim Sheridan film 'Some
Mother's Son' and the score for the film version of
'Dancing At Lughnasa' starring Meryl Streep.

Whelan is currently writing a new stage musical.

He will be presented with the Industry Award at the Meteor
Ireland Music Awards Show on Thursday 2 February.

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