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February 02, 2006

Orde Refuses Comment On IRA Weapons

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News About Ireland & The Irish

II 02/02/06 Orde Refuses To Be Drawn On IRA Weapons Claims
IN 02/02/06 New IRA Arms Row Bodes Ill For Talks
SF 02/02/06 SF Move Bill To Have The IMC Disbanded
BT 02/02/06 New Storm Hits de Chastelain
BT 02/02/06 Has The IRA Got Rid Of All Of Its Guns?
IT 02/02/06 IICD (de Chastelain): Its Report In Full
IT 02/02/06 McDowell Raises Issue Of Existence Of IRA
IT 02/02/06 Concern Over Money Laundering
IT 02/02/06 US Urges Support For Policing
IN 02/02/06 Army Council Personnel Remains Unknown
BN 02/02/06 Top Loyalist Alerted Police To Stolen Goods
BT 02/02/06 PSNI Recruit's Home Attacked
BT 02/02/06 Priest Tells Of Talks Bid To Wipe Out Graffiti
IN 02/02/06 Rossport Five Are Urged To Re-Enter Talks
CT 02/02/06 Paisley: Preaching Mad
IN 02/02/06 Opin: IMC Has ‘No Proof’ Weapons Were Kept
IT 02/02/06 Opin: Time For NI Talks Despite Findings
IT 02/02/06 Opin: Question Of IRA Guns Returns To Equation
BT 02/02/06 Opin: Why The 50/50 Rule Must Be Abolished
IN 02/02/06 Opin: Time For DUP To Grasp The Nettle Again
IN 02/02/06 Opin: Pressure Must Be Stepped Up
KN 02/02/06 Opin: Who Dares To Speak Of The Easter Rising?
TC 02/02/06 Travel Guide Criticises Knock For Commercialism
IT 02/02/06 Drogheda Girl (14) Lands Harry Potter Role


PSNI Chief Refuses To Be Drawn On IRA Weapons Claims

13:39 Thursday February 2nd 2006

PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde has refused to say whether
he believes the IRA has retained some weapons despite
promising to completely disarm.

The Independent Monitoring Commission said yesterday that
it had received "credible" reports that the republican
movement had held onto some handguns for defensive

However, the decommissioning body said an investigation it
carried out found no evidence to back up the claims.

Mr Orde was questioned about the matter at a meeting of the
Policing Board in Belfast today, but he refused to say
whether he believed the IMC's assessment or that of the
decommissioning body.

He did, however, repeat his view of many years standing
that the IRA has no intention of resuming its armed


New IRA Arms Row Bodes Ill For Talks

By William Graham Political Correspondent

NEW political talks scheduled for next week are already on
a collision course due to a fresh row over whether or not
the IRA held on to any weapons after last year’s ‘final
act’ of decommissioning.

The IRA and Sinn Fein have denied the arms allegations made
in yesterday’s Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC)

But the DUP said the Provisional IRA had clearly not
decommissioned all of its illegal arsenal.

Secretary of State Peter Hain and the Republic’s foreign
affairs minister, Dermot Ahern, will begin talks with the
parties at Hillsborough on Monday with the aim of trying to
restore devolution.

Mr Hain said there was enough evidence of progress in the
report to make talks meaningful.

The atmosphere, however, has been soured by this latest
controversy which means that unionists will continue to
refuse to share power with Sinn Fein for the foreseeable

General John de Chastelain, head of the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning, had rejected
claims by the north’s security forces that the IRA still
has weapons.

His assessment is at odds with that of the IMC whose report
also referred to IRA intelligence gathering, money
laundering and smuggling since the declaration to end its
campaign last summer.

Lord Alderdice, one of the IMC commissioners, said: “We
could not share the same level of confidence that [General
de Chastelain] expressed that all weapons were

The IRA said such allegations were false and that it had
honoured all public commitments made on July 8 last year.

“Any allegations to the contrary are politically
motivated,” it said.

When the IRA carried out a final act of decommissioning in
September, General de Chastelain said he was satisfied that
every gun under the organisation’s control had been put
beyond use.

Last month, however, police in Northern Ireland told him
they had intelligence that some IRA men had retained a
range of weapons, including handguns.

He carried out an investigation which included meetings
with an IRA representative who he said assured him all arms
had been dumped and none hidden away.

Senior gardai also insisted there was no intelligence
suggesting that weapons had been retained.

The difference between PSNI and Garda assessments is ex-
pected to be raised at a Policing Board meeting in Belfast

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness described the IMC’s arms
claims as “bullsh*t of the highest order”.

DUP leader Ian Paisley said the IMC’s report reaffirmed
that “the Provisional IRA is riddled with illegality”.


Sinn Féin Move Bill To Have The Independent Monitoring
Commission Disbanded

Published: 2 February, 2006

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh today moved a Bill in the
Dáil calling for the legislation that brought the
Independent Monitoring Commission in to being to be
repealed. Deputy Ó Snodaigh described yesterday’s report
from the IMC as "farcical" and said it was "nothing more
than a permit for prevarication” that the two Governments
"foolishly" handed to the rejectionist unionists. He
pointed out that more than €1.5 million per year had been
spent by the Irish Government on the IMC since its
establishment in 2003.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "It is quiet clear to even the most
narrow-minded of observers of the peace process that the
so-called Independent Monitoring Commission is nothing of
the sort. Its farcical report yesterday, which once again
relies on anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations and
innuendo from extremely suspect sources, is nothing more
than a permit for prevarication, which the two governments
foolishly handed rejectionist unionists and their fellow-

"Sinn Féin pointed out at the time that the legislation was
going through Leinster House to give legal effect to this
body that it would be used and abused by those who are
hell-bent on frustrating the development of the peace
process. This latest report has, as was the case with all
the previous reports of this discredited body,
unfortunately proved us right.

"Sinn Féin has put before the Dáil today a Bill which would
repeal the legislation that brought the body in to being
and which provided it with its substantial funding from the
Irish taxpayer. I am calling on the Government to adopt
this Bill and put it to the House so that the collection of
spooks and anti-republican cranks that make up the IMC can
be disbanded immediately. In the interests of the peace
process and in the re-establishment of the institutions it
is crucial that this happens sooner rather than later."


New Storm Hits de Chastelain

By Deric Henderson and Alan Erwin, PA
02 February 2006

General John de Chastelain is at the centre of an
extraordinary new row in Northern Ireland after rejecting
security force claims that the IRA is holding on to

Even though the disarmament chief has been backed by gardai
in the Republic, his assessment was also challenged by the
team set up by London and Dublin to review the state of the
Provisionals' ceasefire.

The Independent Monitoring Commission, which confirmed high
levels of IRA spying, money laundering and smuggling
following the declaration to end its terrorist campaign
last summer, insisted that it had reports the Provisionals
still had access to a range of guns.

When the IRA carried out a final act of decommissioning
last September, General de Chastelain, head of the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning,
said he was satisfied every gun under Provo control had
been put beyond use.

Last month, however, he was told by the PSNI they had
intelligence that some IRA men had retained a range of
weapons, including handguns.

He then carried out his own investigation, which included
meetings with a Provo representative who, he claimed,
assured him all arms had been dumped and none hidden away.

Senior Garda officers also insisted there was no
intelligence suggesting any weapons had been retained. But
it was clear there are significantly differing views in
Belfast and Dublin on the assessment of the IRA's arms

Lord Alderdice, one of the four men on the IMC declared:
"We could not share the same level of confidence that he
(General de Chastelain) expressed that all weapons were

The IRA issued a statement denying it had gone back on the
July declaration to end its campaign and dump its guns.

The split between the PSNI and the Garda will also be
deeply embarrassing for Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and
Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy.

There is already a rift between police in Belfast and the
Northern Ireland Office over their assessment of IRA crime
levels and this fall out will not have helped relations.

The offices of Sir Hugh and General de Chastelain refused
to comment.

Secretary of State Peter Hain and Irish Foreign Affairs
Minister Dermot Ahern are having talks with all the main
political parties at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down on Monday
but the row over the latest IMC report has virtually killed
off any lingering hopes London and Dublin may have had of
injecting any sort of momentum into the process.

Sir Hugh is due to address his Policing Board in Belfast
tomorrow when he likely to be challenged by members of the

The Rev Ian Paisley claimed the IMC report demonstrated
just ingrained criminality was in the IRA's DNA. He added:
"I have consistently said the IRA's acts of decommissioning
were nothing but a charade, and the report vindicates that


Has The IRA Got Rid Of All Of Its Guns?

YES says de Chastelain and Garda chiefs
NO says the IMC report and PSNI chiefs

By Deric Henderson and Alan Erwin
02 February 2006

General John de Chastelain was at the centre of an
extraordinary new row in Northern Ireland last night after
rejecting security force claims that the IRA is holding on
to weapons.

Even though the disarmament chief has been backed by police
in the Republic, his assessment was also challenged by the
team set up by London and Dublin to review the state of the
Provisionals ceasefire.

The Independent Monitoring Commission, which confirmed high
levels of IRA spying, money laundering and smuggling
following the declaration to end its terrorist campaign
last summer, insisted last night that it had reports the
Provisionals still had access to a range of guns.

When the IRA carried out a final act of decommissioning
last September, General de Chastelain, head of the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning,
said he was satisfied every gun under their control had
been put beyond use.

Last month, however, he was told by police in Northern
Ireland they had intelligence that some IRA men had
retained a range of weapons, including handguns.

He then carried out his own investigation which included
meetings with a Provo representative who, he claimed,
assured him all arms had been dumped and none were hidden

Senior officers with the Garda Siochana also insisted there
was no intelligence suggesting any weapons had been
retained. But it was clear last night there are
significantly differing views in Belfast and Dublin on the
assessment of the IRA's arms capability.

Lord Alderdice, one of the four men sitting on the IMC,
said: "We could not share the same level of confidence that
he (General de Chastelain) expressed that all weapons were

The IRA issued a statement denying it had gone back on the
July declaration to end its campaign and dump its guns.

The split between the PSNI and the Garda will also be
deeply embarrassing for Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and
the Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy.

There is already a rift between police in Belfast and the
Northern Ireland Office over their assessment of IRA crime

The offices of Sir Hugh and General de Chastelain refused
to comment.

But one authoritative security source in Belfast said last
night: "There is something about all of this which really

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and the Irish Foreign
Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern are having talks with all the
main political parties at Hillsborough Castle on Monday but
the row over the report has virtually killed off any
lingering hopes London and Dublin may have had of injecting
any sort of momentum into the process.


Independent Commission On Decommissioning: Its Report In

Report of the Independent International Commission on

To: Rt Hon Peter Hain MP and Michael McDowell TD

1. Since we reported to you last September, we have
continued in our efforts to execute our remit. We have
concentrated on the Loyalist paramilitary groups and
attempted to engage with then in the pursuit of our
mandate. We also wish to advise you of actions we have
taken regarding security assessments recently received
concerning IRA arms.

2. We have now held several meetings with the Ulster
Political Research Group (UPRG), including some in which a
UDA representative participated. While these have not led
to firm decommissioning proposals, we are advised that the
UDA is prepared to address the issue of arms in the context
of a satisfactory consideration by the British government
of its community's economic concerns.

3. While the LVF has not resumed formal contact with us, it
has authorised informal discussions with an intermediary
and we have held a number of meetings with him. We are
aware of recent media reports in which the LVF has
signalled its intention to stand down its activities. While
we have no indication how such a stand down would involve
the disposals of LVF arms, we have emphasised that their
decommissioning must take place under our supervision. We
are led to understand that the LVF wishes to received
community-related assurances from the British government
before any action on its arms proceeds.

4. The UVF has not resumed formal contact with us but we
will continue in our attempts to re-open this channel in
the coming months.

5. We are aware of several media reports since our
September announcement suggesting that the IRA may still
hold some arms. Last week we were informed by security
sources in Northern Ireland that they had intelligence to
the effect that some individuals and groups within the IRA
have retained a range of arms including handguns. There was
no indication that the quantities of arms involved were
substantial. We were also told there is no suggestion these
arms (purportedly kept for personal protection and area
defence) have been retained with the approval of the IRA
leadership or as part of any wider strategy to return to

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

7. Our statement then that all IRA arms had been
decommissioned was qualified - as we said at the time - by
the representative's assurance that while the IRA had
gathered for decommissioning all the arms under its
control, and while these arms had subsequently been put
beyond use under our supervision, it could not guarantee
that a small number might not have gone astray over the
years as individual custodians died or the locations of
some caches were lost.

8. Over the past week we have discussed the intelligence
assessment with senior officers in the Garda Síochána.
Intelligence available to the Garda at the time of
decommissioning last year indicated that extensive efforts
had been made by the IRA to locate and gather weapons,
which in turn, were put beyond use in the process overseen
by us. Further, the Garda informed us that what they regard
as reliable sources in relation to the IRA and its
weaponry, have produced no intelligence suggesting any arms
have been retained.

9. In our first meeting last week the IRA representative
confirmed that the leadership remains committed to its
statement of 28th July, in which it announced an end to the
armed campaign and ordered all IRA units to dump their
arms. He re-iterated that all the arms that were dumped
following that statement were then collected and put beyond
use in September under our supervision. He assured us that
no IRA arms had been retained or placed in long term hides.

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

11. We are reassured by the fact that none of the various
intelligence assessments suggest the IRA leadership is
moving away from the July 28th commitments. We conclude
that in the absence of evidence to the contrary of
September 26th assessment regarding IRA arms remains

12. We have informed the Independent Monitoring Commission
of the substance of this report so they are kept aware of
developments in our area of responsibility.

Tauno Nieminen John de Chastelain Andrew Sens

© The Irish Times


McDowell Raises Issue Of Continued Existence Of IRA

Frank Millar, London Editor

Governments' view: Minister for Justice Michael McDowell
kept the issue of IRA disbandment on the agenda yesterday
as the British and Irish governments stressed their
commitment to the full restoration of Northern Ireland's
suspended political institutions.

In a communiqué following yesterday's meeting of the
British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in London, the
two governments welcomed the eighth IMC report and its
confirmation that "PIRA paramilitary activity has ceased
since 28 July and that the PIRA leadership has taken the
strategic decision to end its armed campaign and pursue the
political path".

The conference also expressed concern about the "reports of
continued criminal activity and intelligence-gathering and
stressed that these issues must continue to be addressed".

However, Mr McDowell was more specific at a morning press
conference following publication of an IMC report which
concluded that "money has become a key strategic asset" for
PIRA; that senior members of PIRA "are involved in money-
laundering and other crime"; that the leadership appeared
to have sanctioned some criminal activities "such as the
exploitation of financial assets PIRA had previously
acquired or the illegal gathering of intelligence"; and
that PIRA "appears to retain long-term intentions to gather

Asked if he was confident that the IRA was ending criminal
activity, Mr McDowell said he was convinced that the IRA
leadership had "taken the strategic decision to end their
campaign of terrorism". However, that left unresolved
whether they were "going to end their existence as an
organic body", as well as continuing offences involving the
laundering of money and the handling of criminal assets.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain insisted that the IMC
report, while not allowing the immediate restoration of a
power-sharing government, did lay the basis for a "process
of genuine and purposeful engagement" between the political
parties, due to begin next week.

This was a "positive report that shows the IRA is moving in
the right direction: no murders, no recruitment, no bank
robberies". Compared to where the IRA was, he said, "there
has been a sea change".

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said that the two
governments would not ignore reports of intelligence-
gathering. He insisted that "politics must mean activism
and argument alone". The IMC report, he said, raised
challenges to the IRA leadership in relation to this and
the outstanding issue of criminality, which must cease so
as to allow partnership politics to take place.

Secondly, Mr Ahern said, the report challenged loyalist
paramilitaries to follow the path set by the IRA in its
significant moves last July. However, the report also
challenged both governments and the political parties in
the North to "reassert the primacy of politics" and engage
with others.

Any hopes the two governments had of an early DUP/Sinn Féin
engagement were dashed last night when the Rev Ian Paisley
claimed that yesterday's report proved that the DUP was
"right to rule out executive devolution".

Dr Paisley's ever-tougher language follows his indication
last week to The Irish Times that he does not plan to meet
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's timetable for the
restoration of devolution and comes ahead of this weekend's
DUP conference, when some delegates are expected to call on
the party leadership to close off the option of power-
sharing with Sinn Féin.

In the Commons yesterday, Mr Blair told Dr Paisley that the
ending of all criminal activity remained "absolutely
crucial" to making political progress, but that he would be
wrong to suggest very significant progress had not been
made or that last July's IRA statement was not highly

SDLP leader Mark Durkan echoed that, saying: "The IMC
report shows that positive progress has been made in a
number of areas. The DUP need to acknowledge that. It is an
important step forward. But, equally, Sinn Féin has to
acknowledge the areas where the IRA is still in business.
Any continued IRA activity only plays into the hands of the
DUP and those opposed to change. It damages trust and makes
it harder to get the agreement up and running again."

Conservative spokesman David Lidington said: "I welcome the
evidence from the commission of a further shift in the
right direction. But we still await proof that those moves
are permanent and irreversible."

© The Irish Times


Concern Over Money Laundering

Martin Wall

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has said the Irish
and British governments are concerned about substantial war
chests being in the hands of illegal organisations.

Speaking in London yesterday, the Minister said the battle
to prevent paramilitary and subversive organisations from
using such assets was ongoing and was succeeding.

The Minister was speaking after it emerged that gardaí had
seized files, documentation and computer equipment in a
series of raids carried out last week as part of a major
investigation into properties allegedly owned by the
Provisional IRA.

Gardaí said yesterday that the material seized as part of
the raids was being examined by technical experts.

More than 100 detectives took part in the raids last week
on around 20 properties in Dublin, Meath, Wicklow and

As part of the operation, which was led by the Criminal
Assets Bureau, a number of premises including a pub, a
hotel, homes of company directors and the offices of
solicitors and accountants were searched.

The material seized in the raids is being examined to
determine whether the pub and the hotel had been bought
using the proceeds of crime and used by the IRA to launder

Among the properties under investigation are a hotel in the
centre of Dublin and a pub in the city.

A man in his fifties from Northern Ireland is at the centre
of the Garda investigation.

Gardaí believe he made a substantial amount of money from a
fraud operation carried out in the UK in the 1980s.

The man, who had been questioned in Northern Ireland about
the murder of a member of the security forces, had an
exclusion order served against him from Britain in the

Gardaí believe that when he returned to Ireland he invested
money in a pub in Dublin.

The man concerned subsequently invested in the hotel in the
city centre. He also has a substantial portfolio of
property in Dublin and elsewhere.

A Garda spokesman said yesterday that the search phase of
the operation had concluded for the present.

Forensic experts are examining files, computers, laptops
and disks seized as part of the raids.

The raids were carried out based on information generated
as part of the cross-Border investigation into the €36
million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in December 2004.

Mr McDowell said that it was entirely co-incidental that
details of last week's Garda raids emerged just hours
before the publication of the report of the Independent
Monitoring Commission on paramilitary activity.

He said the two issues were not connected and that the
Criminal Assets Bureau and the Assets Recovery Agency in
Northern Ireland regarded all proceeds of crime "as their
legitimate quarry".

© The Irish Times


US Urges Support For Policing

Denis Staunton in Washington

US reaction: The United States government has welcomed
the IMC report but urged the republican movement to
demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and to
support civil policing in the North.

In a statement to The Irish Times, the State Department
said: "We welcome the latest report by the International
Monitoring Commission which shows a continuing downward
trend in activities by the Provisional IRA and indications
of potential progress on the part of loyalist

"We are encouraged by the IMC's conclusion that the
leadership of the Provisional IRA appears committed to
ending the armed campaign forswearing terrorism and
restructuring the IRA so that it is no longer designed for
terrorist activities. We share the IMC's concerns regarding
ongoing criminality and intelligence gathering by the
Provisional IRA, including for ostensible political
purposes. We look forward to the next IMC assessment of
this issue in its April report.

"The republican movement must demonstrate its unequivocal
commitment to the rule of law and the renunciation of all
paramilitary and criminal activities.

"We also urge all parties to support civil policing in
Northern Ireland. The United States remains steadfast in
its support for the peace process and the work of the
British and Irish governments as well as the IMC to achieve
lasting peace and reconciliation."

© The Irish Times


Army Council Personnel Remains Unknown

By Sharon O’Neill Chief Reporter

THE body which monitors paramilitary activity cannot
confirm the make-up of the IRA’s ‘army council’.

In its eighth dossier the IMC referred to reports of
changes to the Provisional leadership – and despite mainly
collating its information from the security services –
could not shed any light on movement among senior
republican personnel.

“There has been some press comment about possible changes
in the membership of the Provisional army council but these
remain unconfirmed,” the commission said.

“The leadership sets high store on unity and on avoiding
the movement of people to dissident republican groups –
which we do not think has happened in any

significant way.

“It appears generally though not universally to have
maintained authority over its members.”

The IMC’s lack of clarity over any changes to the
Provisional leadership is in stark contrast to comments
five months ago by

the Republic’s justice minister Michael McDowell.

On July 26 last year Mr McDowell said that Sinn Fein
president Gerry Adams, chief negotiator Martin McGuinness
and TD Martin Ferris, had all stepped down from the IRA’s
army council.

At a conference on cross-border criminal justice
cooperation in Belfast, the minister was asked if the trio
had quit from their alleged role on the army council.

“That’s my understanding,” Mr McDowell replied.

“I don’t think that by itself amounts to a severance
between the two organisations.

“It’s an acknowledgement, in my view, that there was a very
structured link between them in the past.”

Mr Adams had consistently denied ever being a member of the
IRA, while Mr McGuinness confirmed he was second-in-command
of the Provisionals in Derry in the early seventies. North
Kerry TD Martin Ferris was convicted of gun-running in the


Top Loyalist Alerted Police To £40,000 In Stolen Goods

02/02/2006 - 12:29:48

A top loyalist was heavily involved in handing over £40,000
(€59,000) worth of stolen industrial equipment to police,
it emerged today.

Ihab Shoukri, brother of Ulster Defence Association boss
Andre, was part of the team that alerted officers to
equipment stashed in north Belfast.

“He was very influential in getting this stuff back,” a
source said.

A generator, pipe benders, and hammer drill were found at
an empty house in Ballysillan, an area blighted by
paramilitary feuding and violence.

UDA men who claimed it had been stolen by a gang of ex-
Loyalist Volunteer Force members took the equipment to a
community centre in the nearby Westland estate.

Police were called to the premises, which are used by UDA
advisers in the Ulster Political Research Group, on

Andre Shoukri, commander of the paramilitary organisation’s
north Belfast unit, is on remand at the high security
Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn, Co Antrim facing
intimidation and extortion charges.

But Ihab has continued to play a prominent role in loyalist
work in the area.

UPRG representatives refused to identify those involved in
handing over the equipment, which is believed to have been
stolen from the Mallusk industrial estate on the city’s
northern outskirts.

North Belfast spokesman John Bunting claimed the move was
part of an effort to stop criminality.

He said: “The entire (UDA) leadership in north Belfast was
fully aware and supportive. Very senior people were
involved in retrieving the stuff, along with the UPRG.

“Both the UDA and UPRG are working with residents in that
community to try and put a bit of stability in that area.”

A PSNI spokeswoman confirmed grinders, a power welder,
hammer drill and an engine generator were received by

She added: “Inquiries are ongoing regarding the ownership
of these items.”


PSNI Recruit's Home Attacked

DUP accuses dissidents of petrol bombing

By Clare Weir
02 February 2006

A member of the Policing Board yesterday accused dissident
republicans of trying to intimidate nationalists wanting to
join the PSNI by petrol bombing a house in a nationalist
area of Londonderry.

Four devices were hurled at the split-level bungalow in the
new Woodside Heights development in the Gobnascale area.

It happened around 9.30pm on Tuesday when petrol bombs hit
the front wall of the home - which was unoccupied at the
time - causing minor damage.

Police, who said a number of items were seized for further
examination, added that they were investigating a motive
but said the attack was "not sectarian".

They would not comment on whether or not the target had
been a police recruit or link the attack to dissident

Policing Board member and Derry DUP MLA William Hay said he
hoped the attack would not drive the recruit away from
pursuing a career in the PSNI.

"I know for a fact this young man was a student policeman,"
he said.

"Here is a young man from the nationalist community getting
involved in policing, and someone thinks they can just come
along and try to force him into another path.

"It is shameful that this is happening when we are trying
to move policing into a new era. I just hope this man is
not intimidated from his career in policing."

He called for nationalist and republican representatives to
condemn the attack.

A Sinn Fein spokesman for the area said: "Whoever lived
here or whatever they did for a living, this was wrong.

"People need to think of the consequences of their

"Whatever they think their motive was, people should not be
engaging in this sort of activity."

All the windows and front door of the property were boarded
up yesterday.

A neighbour said that he was "concerned" about the attack.

"As a father it concerns me to have a petrol bomb right
across the road."

Police want to speak to the occupants of a light coloured
car seen in the area at the time and three people who were
on foot near where the attack happened.


Priest Tells Of Talks Bid To Wipe Out Graffiti

by Alf McCreary: Religion Correspondent
02 February 2006

A Catholic priest has revealed how his direct talks with
loyalists has led to a promise to remove offensive graffiti
from outside his church at Harryville in Ballymena.

Fr Paul Symonds told a large congregation in St Anne's
Cathedral in Belfast how he had decided not to retaliate
with condemnatory language last summer when loyalists had
daubed the Catholic church with paint and graffiti.

Speaking at the Day of Reflection in the cathedral at the
weekend, he said: "I felt that if people do that kind of
thing, they must be feeling some pain and that I needed to
listen to them and to hear about that pain."

Speaking later to the Belfast Telegraph, he said that he
had been "overwhelmed" when local Presbyterians and members
of other churches helped to clean up the mess after two
separate attacks.

He also sent out feelers that he wanted to talk directly to
loyalists who had perpetrated the attacks. He said: "It
took some time, and at the start I did not really expect a

"However, I eventually was invited to meet a loyalists
group and I was treated with respect, which I appreciated.
I listened carefully to what they had to say. We talked to
each other as human beings, and not as people with labels,
and things developed from that."

He added: "They undertook to remove a paramilitary mural
which overlooks our church and to replace it with a
cultural picture which they believe will not be offensive
to Catholics.

"They also promised to keep me informed about their plans.
The group also undertook to remove red, white and blue
painting from kerbstones outside the church, and understand
that they may need to use a sandblaster."

Fr Symonds accepted an invitation earlier this month to
attend the opening of the local advice centre of the Ulster
Political Research Group, the political wing of the UDA.

He said: "I was again very well treated and I would be
hopeful of a peaceful outcome this summer. I am not
complacent, and there is a need for continued dialogue and
for great sensitivity."

Fr Symonds had also kept open his contacts with other
church leaders in the area, including the Presbyterian
Moderator Dr Harry Uprichard, from Ahoghill.

He said: "Dr Uprichard and I have different attitudes to
such matters as shared worship, but I respect his views. We
have a warm relationship, and I hope that when he ends his
busy year of office we will have time to meet."


Rossport Five Are Urged To Re-Enter Talks

By Staff Reporter

The five men jailed over protests against Shell’s
controversial gas pipe-line in north Mayo were yesterday
urged to re-enter mediation as minister for communications,
Marine and natural resources Noel Dempsey denied
interfering in the process.

Government appointed mediator Peter Cassells called on the
Rossport Five to return to talks after a row broke out over
ministerial briefings.

Mr Dempsey insisted that he had made it clear from the
start that he would request updates on the negotiations.

“I have not interfered with the mediation process,” he

“Obviously as part of the mediation process it was
necessary and clearly understood that these issues would be
conveyed to me and that Mr Cassells would brief me on
people’s concerns.”

The minister said he regretted the men’s decision but
insisted the appointment of Mr Cassells as mediator was
designed to facilitate contact and consultation with all
sides. He urged the men to re-enter the talks.

“It is time for everyone to work together to reach a
solution that is acceptable to all,” he said.

The Rossport Five – Philip McGrath, Brendan Philbin,
Vincent McGrath, Willie Corduff and Micheal O Seighin –
alleged that Mr Dempsey had continually contacted Mr
Cassells and publicly warned him there was limited time to
achieve a resolution.

“Meaningful mediation is the way forward not interference
and conflict,” the men said.

“Our involvement in the mediation process can only resume
following a clear explanation by the minister of what he
considers mediation involves and what

the function of this specific mediator is as appointed and
briefed by him.”

The men went on to say that the minister should outline the
exact role Mr Cassells had been given.

“The minister as an active sponsor of the Shell project in
north Mayo and non-neutral has no

role seeking and receiving briefings from the mediator,”
the statement said.

Mr Cassells, former general secretary of the Irish Congress
of Trade Unions, was appointed mediator in the dispute and
tasked with trying to find an agreement over the p900
million Corrib Gas project.


Paisley: Preaching Mad

Considered a political relic not long ago, Ulster leader
regains clout as opponent of peace accord

By Tom Hundley
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published February 2, 2006

BELFAST -- Rev. Ian Paisley, approaching his 80th birthday,
mounts the pulpit of his church and prepares to do battle
with the devil.

Paisley, a Protestant iconic figure who for half a century
has embodied Northern Ireland's stubborn refusal to make
peace with itself, is a large man with a shock of white
hair and a penetrating gaze. He is armed with the Bible and
a righteous anger.

On this Sunday, his wrath is aimed not at his old mortal
enemy, the Irish Republican Army, but at new legislation
proposed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government
that is meant to eliminate street prostitution by moving it
into small, licensed brothels.

"The spirituality of our nation is being slowly but
deliberately drained away," he tells the gathered faithful.
"Evil and Satanic powers have taken over the leaders of
this country, and we have the darkness of apostasy upon

He warns that without "a mighty national cleansing revival,
there will be no hope for this nation. It will go down the

Paisley is a master preacher of the old school. He shuns
the microphone. "I think microphones have destroyed public
speaking. You don't get the real rhythm, the real melody of
the human voice," he explained afterward.

His unamplified voice can rattle the rafters of the church,
and even when it drops to a whisper, his words are
perfectly audible.

There is something almost Shakespearean to these Sunday

"He is one of our greatest actors," said Paul Bew, a
political scientist at Belfast's Queen's University. "When
it comes to politics and thespian skills, his only rival is
Tony Blair."

Known as `The Doc'

But little more than five years ago, "The Doc," as his
friends call him, was being written off as yesterday's man.
With the signing of the Good Friday agreement in 1998, it
seemed that moderates on both sides of Northern Ireland's
sectarian divide had finally prevailed. Paisley's sworn
enemies--the IRA and its political wing, Sinn Fein--agreed
to give up the armed struggle and decommission their

Only Paisley rejected the power-sharing deal and vowed to
destroy it. When 71.7 percent of voters in Northern
Ireland, including 55 percent of Protestant voters,
approved the agreement in a referendum, it appeared that
Paisley's days in politics were over.

His health deteriorated in 2004, and there were doubts that
he would live much longer.

But quite unexpectedly, Paisely is back, his health
restored and his political stock soaring. In last May's
general election, Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party, or
DUP, emerged as the most powerful of Northern Ireland's
four major parties, with nearly 34 percent of the vote.
Sinn Fein was second with 24 percent. The moderates who
brokered the Good Friday deal were shunted aside. Nobel
Peace Prize winner David Trimble failed to win in his own

Few see Paisley's comeback as a good sign for Northern

"No constituency which gives its political support to such
a leader as Paisley possesses a plausible vision of its own
future," Max Hastings, the journalist and historian, wrote
in The Guardian newspaper. "We are witnessing the last
writhings of a society left beached by the march of

Despite the relative calm brought by the Good Friday
agreement, the political center in Northern Ireland has
collapsed, mostly because the IRA was slow to decommission
its arms and because of a growing sense among the mainly
Protestant unionists that the Catholic republicans had
somehow gotten the better of the deal. Unionists, or
loyalists, want Northern Ireland permanently linked with
Britain; republicans, or nationalists, want the north to be
united with the Republic of Ireland.

Self-rule in Northern Ireland was suspended three years ago
after the discovery of an IRA spy network inside Stormont,
the government headquarters. Talks aimed at restarting
self-rule are supposed to get under way next week, and
Paisley, as leader of the largest party, could hold the top
job as the Northern Ireland chief executive.

But he would have to share power with Sinn Fein, something
his whole life has argued against.

On Wednesday, the Independent Monitoring Commission, which
keeps tabs on Northern Ireland's paramilitary groups,
issued a generally upbeat report saying that while there
was evidence that some members of the IRA are still
involved in criminal activities, and that a few still
possess weapons, "We are of the firm view that the present
[IRA] leadership has taken the strategic decision to end
the armed campaign and pursue the political course which it
has publicly articulated."

It was hoped that a favorable report would open the door to
political talks next week aimed at restoring self-rule.
Peter Hain, Britain's Northern Ireland secretary, declared
the IMC report "positive," and Blair underlined that "there
has been a strategic decision by the leadership to give up
the armed struggle."

But that was not good enough for Paisley.

"The criminal activity of the IRA has not altered one iota.
Their enlisting of people, their training of people in arms
may not be as open as it was, but it's still going on," he
said during a recent interview in his Stormont office.

"No, I think the IRA/Sinn Fein must really go out of
existence. You can't have in government any body of men
that as a last resort have the final veto of the gun. All
the times that there had been any attempt to do business,
Sinn Fein at the end of the day had that threat," he said.

Paisley wants to renegotiate the Good Friday agreement to
get a better deal for the unionists. The nationalist
parties and the governments of both Britain and Ireland say
that is a non-starter.

So Paisley probably will be content to sit back and just
say no.

"I think now we are in a position to at least put a veto on
anything a British government would want to do--or a
southern government would want to do in alliance with the
British government--that would really be the destruction of
our heritage. I think it's as simple as that," Paisley

If there has been one constant in Northern Ireland's
"Troubles" over the past 50 years, it has been the booming
voice of Ian Paisley saying no.

In person, Paisley can be gracious and engaging, and he is
pleased to reflect on a political career and spiritual
ministry that often intertwined.

The son of a rural Baptist preacher, Paisley said he
underwent a personal conversion at age 6. As a teenager,
working on a farm in County Tyrone, he heard the calling to
follow in his father's footsteps.

He began theological studies at the Barry School of
Evangelism in Wales and later at the Reformed Presbyterian
Theological Hall in Belfast. A few years after his
ordination, he helped establish the fundamentalist Free
Presbyterian Church in Ulster, which he now leads.

Paisley was close friends with Bob Jones Jr., the American
evangelist, and the honorific "Doc" that Paisley enjoys
derives from an honorary degree awarded to him by Bob Jones
University in Greenville, S.C.

"Yes, I'm a literalist as far as the message of the Bible
is concerned," Paisley said. "I believe the Bible says what
it means and it means what it says. I know that Christ is
real, he's a living person, and I know that the devil is

Called pope Antichrist

Not surprisingly, he also sees politics in stark terms of
good versus evil, with the "good" embodied by the
"Protestant throne of Britain" and "evil" by the Roman
Catholic pope, whom Paisley believes to be the Antichrist.
Back in 1958, he accused Princess Margaret and the Queen
Mother of "spiritual fornication and adultery with the
Antichrist" after they had an audience with Pope John

He emerged on the political scene in the 1960s as a
forceful and often belligerent spokesman for maintaining
Protestant prerogatives in Northern Ireland. Once, in a
debate with firebrand Catholic civil rights activist
Bernadette Devlin, Paisley declared he "would rather be
British than be fair."

Paisley was frequently at the forefront of marches or
protests that would turn violent and he was a master at
using his rhetorical gifts to whip up the mob's anger. To
most of the world, he appeared a crude rabble-rouser, a
clownish character, certainly a demagogue.

Paisley rejects the demagogue label. "I had a right to be
angry, because the things that were happening in my country
would have made any patriot unhappy," he said.

He chuckled when reminded of the occasion in 1988 when he
attempted to disrupt a speech by Pope John Paul II to the
European Parliament. Paisley, who was a member of the
parliament from 1979 until he retired in 2004, rose from
his seat and shouted out, "I denounce you as the
Antichrist." Other parliamentarians set upon him with kicks
and punches, while the pope was reported to have looked on
"with bemused pain."

Paisley counts this as a great triumph: "What I said was
carried in every newspaper in the world, whereas there was
very skimpy mention of the pope's message. ... I won the
day, but I got a terrible hiding. My tailbone was fractured
by the kicking I got."

As the Northern Ireland talks get under way next week, all
eyes will be on Paisley and the DUP.

He rejects the suggestion that he is holding up progress.

"I am holding up nothing," he said snappishly. "It's the
IRA that's holding it up. They refuse to be democratic. And
I refuse to sit in a government with them because they have
shown, by their own admissions and activities, that they
are not democrats."

Paisley's DUP is more than a one-man band. A generation of
younger men, including one of Paisley's sons, Ian Paisley
Jr., manages the DUP's day-to-day business. Some from this
generation are seen as political and ideological
pragmatists, willing to deal with Sinn Fein to reap the
rewards of their own party's electoral strength.

But they will have to wait their turn.

"Assuming Paisley's good health, there is no likelihood of
a deal in 2006," said Queen's University's Bew.


Opin: IMC Has ‘No Proof’ Weapons Were Kept

By William Graham Political Correspondent

A FRESH controversy erupted last night about whether or not
the IRA held onto some weapons after its ‘final act’ of
decommissioning last year.

The question of who to believe about this issue will haunt
the peace process for some time and dramatically impact on
political talks at Hillsborough next week.

The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) suggested
yesterday it had reports that

not all PIRA’s weapons and ammunition were handed over.

But General John de Chastelain and the Independent
Commission on Decommissioning have been told by the IRA
that all its weapons have been dumped and they stand by
their report of last September’s decommissioning.

The IMC report was something of a mixed bag.

It appears that progress is being made in the peace
process. But this positivity has been clouded by
allegations about whether or not all the IRA’s weapons and
ammunition, lock, stock and barrel, were decommissioned.

The IRA has denied an intelligence assessment that it held
on to weapons after its ‘final act’.

Clearly the political waters have become muddied after the
IMC said it had received reports that not all the PIRA’s
weapons and ammunition were handed over.

The IMC said these reports were not able to indicate
precisely the nature or volume of any remaining weapons but
suggest two things: first, that there is a range of
different kinds of weapons and ammunition; second, that the
material goes beyond what might possibly have been expected
to have missed decommissioning, such as a limited number of
handguns kept for personal protection or some items the
whereabouts of which were no longer known.

If these reports were confirmed then the key question would
be how much the PIRA leadership knew about these weapons.

“These same reports do not cast doubt on the declared
intention of the PIRA leadership. For our part, we are
clear that this latter is their strategic intent,” the IMC

Interestingly, the decommis-sioning commission has pointed
out that they have been informed by the Garda Siochana that
they have no intelligence suggesting any arms have been
retained by the IRA. The IRA has also reassured the
commission that no arms have been retained or placed in
long-term hides.

The decommissioning commission has concluded that in the
absence of evidence to the contrary its assessment last
Septem-ber regarding IRA arms “remain intact”.

In other words the decommissioning commission has no proof
of the IRA holding onto arms.

But yesterday IMC commissioner Lord Alderdice said it had
received a number of “credible reports” which mean it could
not share the general’s assessment.

“The level of confidence which he’s expressed... is not a
level of confidence about full decommissioning that we are
in a position to share,” Lord Alderdice said.

The Irish and British governments yesterday “noted” the
latest decommissioning commission report and “welcomed its
confirmation regarding the decommissioning of PIRA arms”.

Sinn Fein has said that IMC accusations against republicans
are being made by “spooks and anti-republican cranks”.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the IMC report shows positive
progress has been made and the DUP needs to acknowledge
that but Sinn Fein has got to acknowledge the areas where
the IRA is still in business.


Opin: Time For NI Talks Despite Findings

Few people believed the IRA would immediately disappear
when its arms were decommissioned and its members
instructed not to engage in illegal activities last year.
That is not how things happen in a confused and messy
world. As the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC)
observed in its latest report: the IRA is like an oil
tanker. It will take time to turn completely and there will
be turbulence in its wake.

Unfortunately, time is a luxury that Northern Ireland
cannot easily afford. If political progress and democratic
structures do not fill the vacuum left by IRA paramilitary
activity, there is a danger the entire process might
unravel. Other republican organisations are already
competing for the vacant ground. And the extent of criminal
activity by loyalist paramilitary organisations is truly
scary. Because of that, there is a particular
responsibility on the Democratic Unionist Party to consider
the long-term welfare of Northern Ireland when it attends
the talks process organised by the Irish and British
governments in Belfast next week.

Two prime issues have been identified for the talks by
Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair: the restoration of devolved
institutions and the establishment of new policing
arrangements. And while negotiations are expected to be
slow, following the findings by the IMC, that situation may
change when the commission issues its next report in April
and the marching season approaches.

The IRA insisted yesterday that it had honoured the
commitments it had given last July. And General John de
Chastelain rejected security intelligence and formally
agreed it had disposed of all its weapons. But the IMC
found it was continuing illegally to gather intelligence
for political purposes while senior members engaged in
money-laundering. Members and former members were also
involved in organised crime, the report found, including
counterfeiting and the smuggling of fuel and tobacco. On
this side of the Border, Garda raids and the activities of
the Criminal Assets Bureau have emphasised the
determination of the Government to sequester the proceeds
of IRA criminality, even if its activities are being wound

In spite of concerns by the IMC about the actions of IRA
members, this report is broadly positive. It finds the IRA
is being restructured so as to concentrate on political
activity. And it accepts the bona fides of the leadership
in that regard. On restorative justice schemes, it tacitly
accepts that persons with paramilitary backgrounds and
certain ex-prisoners may play a useful role in facilitating
a transition to normal community policing. But it warns
against creeping paramilitary control and the emergence of
an alternative justice system.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern took a positive
view yesterday and spoke of a transformation in day-to-day
living along the Border. The IRA has certainly come a long
way. But its members must complete the transition to
democratic politics.


Opin: Question Of IRA Guns Returns To Political Equation

Is it back to the dreaded "D" word and demands for more
IRA decommissioning - an issue many thought was resolved,
asks Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor.

The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) filled out a
credit and debit sheet for the IRA yesterday that
ultimately could take the wisdom of Solomon to politically
reconcile. The dread D-word we thought was out of the
equation came sneaking back on to the ledger. It could
cause monumental difficulties in the months ahead.

Here's what's written in red: the IRA and/or its members
have not decommissioned all their weapons; they are still
engaged in intelligence gathering; still running massive
smuggling and counterfeiting operations; still money
laundering; still amassing a huge financial empire by
breaking into the legitimate property and business sector.

And in black: the IRA has indeed end its armed campaign; it
is not engaging in sanctioned violence and has no intention
of so doing; it is no longer shooting people; it is not
training, targeting or recruiting; it is telling its
members not to riot; it has stopped robbing banks and post
offices; it has closed down some criminal operations.

The loyalist organisations are still up to their necks in
paramilitary activity and crime, the IMC reported, but
there are indications they are considering following the
example of the IRA by ending their armed campaigns.

The main focus yesterday was on the IRA because what it
does determines whether or not it will be possible to
restore the Executive and Assembly. The IMC's four members
- Lord (John) Alderdice, Joe Brosnan, John Grieve and Dick
Kerr - in presenting their report in Belfast yesterday,
used the metaphor of a cumbersomely turning supertanker to
portray the IRA. "The organisation will take a while to
turn completely, and there is likely to be added turbulence
in the wash as it does so," they said.

The report itself triggered quite an amount of political
turbulence. For a start it pointed to differences of
opinion between senior security people on both sides of the
Border and put the findings of the IMC at odds with those
of the Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning (IICD).

There was an expectation that this IMC report would say the
IRA remained engaged in criminality but there was a
question mark over whether this was centrally sanctioned
and whether proceeds from such crime were going back to the

The comment, however, from the IMC that there was no
apparent "diminution" in counterfeiting and the smuggling
of fuel and tobacco means that if the IMC is correct, we
are still talking about a multi-million business.

The IMC, furthermore, baldly states that the IRA is still
spying on the police, the politicians, the British army,
dissident republicans, drugs dealers, and public and
private institutions. "This raises the question of whether
the commitment to exclusively democratic means is full and
thoroughgoing, or whether there remain elements of a
continuing subversive intent going beyond the boundaries of
democratic politics," the report says.

That is worrying in terms of the conditions ever being
created to persuade Ian Paisley to share power with Gerry
Adams. But even more incendiary was the IMC statement that
it had received "credible" reports that IRA members -
whether acting individually or with the connivance of the
leadership, the IMC could not say - had retained a number
of weapons. Not just handguns but more sinister unspecified
weapons, it seems.

Lord Alderdice said it was IMC policy never to disclose its
private sources. The IICD, however, in a statement
yesterday hinted this information came from the likes of
PSNI special branch and MI5. It conceded that over two
weeks ago "security sources in Northern Ireland" said they
had intelligence "that some individual groups within the
IRA have retained a range of arms including handguns".

As the sources are from the North they are therefore likely
to be the PSNI and MI5, probably acting on their own
intelligence and that supplied by IRA members acting as
British agents.

This prompted Gen de Chastelain and his IICD colleagues to
double-check with senior officers in the Garda Síochána who
"informed us that what they regard as reliable sources in
relation to the IRA and its weaponry have produced no
intelligence suggesting any arms have been retained".

They further checked with the IRA about two weeks ago,
which assured them "that no IRA arms had been retained or
placed in long-term hides".

So, clearly, there is a credibility issue here.

"The IRA would say that, wouldn't they" is perhaps the
understandable reaction to the IRA assurances to the IICD.
But which of the assessments in relation to arms is
correct, that of the Garda or PSNI/MI5; that of the IMC or
IICD? That's tricky and down the line could cause enormous
problems. What must not be lost in all this analysis is the
generally positive assessment by the IMC that this IRA
supertanker is slowly turning in the right direction.

As the commissioners said, "We are of the firm view that
the present PIRA leadership has taken the strategic
decision to end the armed campaign and pursue the political
course which it has publicly articulated. We do not think
that PIRA believes terrorism has a part in this political

That's crucial. It means that come the next IMC report, the
IRA may have detached itself further from criminality and
paramilitary activity such as intelligence gathering. It
may take longer than April for such a positive conclusion
to be reached by the IMC. But it is attainable: the IRA
could simply halt its spying operations. As long as the
Border exists there will be smuggling, but the IRA could
distance itself from such crime.

But what about the guns? Are we back to demands for more
IRA decommissioning? Heaven help the political process if
we are. It has often been said that we just don't know
whether Ian Paisley would or would not do a deal. If he
wants to prolong the process sometime into eternity, the
dispute over weapons and ammunition the IRA may or may not
have in its possession has presented him with the perfect
excuse for never sharing power.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Why The 50/50 Rule Must Be Abolished

Lord laird: there is no legal precedent for quotas

02 February 2006

Lord Laird of Artigarvan who presented a Private Members'
Bill into the House of Lords to abolish religious
discrimination in police recruitment spells out what it
will entail

THE Government of Ireland Act 1920 - which established
Northern Ireland - prohibited discriminatory legislation.
The Stormont parliament never provided for religious
discrimination. That began with the Patten report's 50/50
recommendation, enacted in the Police (Northern Ireland)
Act 2000, a measure I am now seeking to repeal at

I do not believe the Royal Ulster Constabulary
discriminated against Roman Catholics - 8% in 1998 was too
low, but senior officers were over 16% Roman Catholic. Why
would the RUC have discriminated in recruitment but not in

I think there were three reasons for that 8% statistic:
one, republican intimidation; two, social ostracism by
Roman Catholics; and three, political abstentionism.

The proportion of Roman Catholics has increased since 1999;
36% of applicants are now from the minority community. But
this has to do with the Belfast Agreement in general and in
particular the SDLP taking responsibility for policing.
Patten's 50/50 was not necessary and has not worked. This
is proved by the fact that 38% of new recruits are female:
an increase achieved with a non-discriminatory action plan.

There is no legal precedent for quotas in the United States
or the European Union. Not even the Committee on the
Administration of Justice called for 50/50. Patten said he
took advice from the equality industry and from legal
counsel. No one has identified the givers of this incorrect
advice. Patten said Europe would not object to religious
discrimination. Wrong. The prohibition was envisaged in a
treaty, and emerged in an equal treatment directive in
November 1999.

The objection to 50/50 is simply that it involves direct
religious discrimination, otherwise banned in a series of
laws from 1973.

The pragmatic argument is that it does not work.

Say the police want to recruit 200 trainees. If 50 Roman
Catholics and 150 Protestants get through to the pool on
merit, only 50 Roman Catholics and 50 Protestants may be
recruited. There is 50% under-recruitment. It does not
matter how able the Roman Catholics are or not; and
Protestants of ability have been rejected because they are
of the wrong religion.

That has been the story with each of the recruitment
competitions. But one - which the NIO does not like to
discuss - went the other way. There was a majority of Roman
Catholics in the pool. But the police could only take twice
the number of Protestants. A system designed to fast track
Roman Catholics ended up discriminating against Roman

My Police (Northern Ireland) Bill - which had its first
reading on Monday (January 16) - does two things. One, it
abolishes Patten's quotas. It does not end the renewable
temporary provisions. And two, it empowers the policing
board and Chief Constable to make action plans for 'Roman
Catholics, women, ethnic minorities and any other relevant
social group.'

The bill will be debated in the Lords in coming months,
with no input from the SDLP and Sinn Fein. It should then
go to the Commons. The Government has its whips and the
payroll vote there. But there is a recent precedent for an
oppositional all-party alliance. It will be interesting to
see how the nationalists divide.

Patten's 50/50 should never have made it into law.
Unfortunately, Peter Mandelson got a Northern Ireland opt-
out in the equal treatment directive in 2000. But that was
probably too clever by half.

That is why I have again called for rejected trainees -
Roman Catholic or Protestant - to come forward. Lawyers are
ready to go to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
Their arguments are about unconstitutionality in European

No doubt the Government will try and hold the line, egged
on by Dublin. But "you cannot harm the peace process" has
become a discredited, unthinking mantra. A combination of a
court case in Europe, and a Private Member's Bill in the
Lords, in a context where Blair and Hain are seeking to put
Sinn Fein in charge of either the courts or the police
could see the policing issue take a progressive route and
not one so obviously contrary to the rule of law.

lThe Lord Laird of Artigarvan is a cross bench member of
the House of Lords and a member of the Ulster Unionist


Time For DUP To Grasp The Nettle Again

The Thursday Column
By Jim Gibney

The political context for the resumption of all-party talks
next week could not be better.

The IRA’s decision on July 28 last year to end its armed
campaign and putting their arms beyond use a few months
later in September has created circumstances few could have
imagined possible.

These positive conditions were primarily created by the
leadership of the IRA and Sinn Fein.

The leaderships of both organisations were determined not
to allow the pessimism, generated by unionist intransigence
and the failures of both the British and Irish governments,
to prevail over the momentum of the peace process which
could be propelled forward by seismic republican shifts.

In the long history of Britain’s occupation of Ireland
there has never been a set of circumstances such as those
currently facing political leaders here and Britain.

The political and military leaderships of this generation
of republicans created a situation which for the first time
ever had the potential to deliver political change by
peaceful strategies alone.

The question is are the other parties to next week’s
negotiations prepared to take decisions on a par similar to
those taken by the IRA last year?

The early public signs suggest that the British and Irish
governments appreciate the scale of the changes made by the

However, it is far from clear whether they are prepared to
push unionists, in particular the DUP, to measure up to
what is required of them to break the current log jam.

The DUP are the leaders of the unionist people of the
north. The indications are they will remain so for the
foreseeable future.

They are now confronted with the reality of their
leadership position. They are in the same position David
Trimble found himself in during the Good Friday agreement
negotiations in 1998.

Trimble’s personal instincts were opposed to the
agreement’s principles – all-Ireland institutions, equality
and power sharing.

Left to his own devices he would have sat on his hands. But
political parties and leaders do not have that luxury
especially in conflict situations.

The popularity and optimism of the peace process and the
needs of the British and Irish governments pressurised
Trimble to deal.

Ian Paisley senior is confronted with the same pressures as
Trimble with one huge additional reality – the IRA and
their guns are out of

the equation.

The unionist bogeyman, the IRA, long used by them to hide
from their responsibilities, is no longer there to be used
as an excuse.

The DUP either does a deal with Sinn Fein, the SDLP and
Ulster Unionists or runs the risk of the British and Irish
governments proceeding without them.

The DUP are facing into the most challenging time in their

party’s history.

Last autumn they appeared ready to take the step which
would have led them into government with Sinn Fein and the

They faltered at the last minute and caved into an internal
revolt at the prospects of such an outcome.

Having grasped the nettle the sting hurt and they dropped
it. Now it has to be picked up again.

Ian Paisley leads a party which he has not prepared for the
choices they have to make.

Next week he stands on uncomfortable terrain. He should be
given no space to wriggle out of the inevitable.

Many nationalists were angered and disappointed at recent
comments from the SDLP that suggested they were prepared to
consider DUP proposals even though they fell short of the
Good Friday agreement.

The SDLP need to be careful that their approach to the
negotiations does not bolster unionist intransigence or
undermine the Good Friday agreement.

The DUP stood outside the negotiating process over the last

10 years. They tried and failed to bring down the Good
Friday agreement. They tried and failed to prevent the
release of political prisoners, to preserve the RUC and the

They are swimming against an unstoppable tide of change.

Against the background of last year’s decisions by the IRA
the two governments must not allow a vacuum to emerge
because the DUP failed to deal.

They must formally share power with each other leaving the
DUP leadership on the sidelines watching their future pass
them by instead of shaping it.


Opin: Pressure Must Be Stepped Up

By Staff Reporter

The latest report from the Independent Monitoring
Commission (IMC) needs to be viewed in the same context as
many other developments since the main republican and
loyalist paramilitary groups called their 1994 ceasefires.

It may not tell everyone precisely what they wanted to hear
and it will probably be surrounded by uncertainties and
contradictions but it generally indicates a sequence of
events which are moving in a positive direction.

Although some commentators seem to be under the impression
that the IMC deals exclusively with the IRA, yesterday’s
report actually looks in considerable detail at
organisations like the UDA and the UVF as well.

Yesterday’s report provides 13 key paragraphs on mainstream
republicans, who are perceived to be at an advanced stage
in terms of implementing new policies and 10 paragraphs on
loyalist groups, who have much more ground to cover.

The IMC suggests that the Provisional IRA remains involved
in intelligence-gathering and that past and present members
are still linked to organised crime.

However, it concludes that the republican movement has a
‘clear strategic intent’ to abandon paramilitary activity
and confine itself to a political path.

It also says that absolutely no republican paramilitary
attacks have taken place since the last IMC report and that
the movement is being ‘deliberately restructured’.

While some republicans regard the IMC as completely outside
the framework of the Good Friday Agreement, it is worth
recalling that the 1998 initiative committed participants
to use all their influence in pursuit of full paramilitary
disarmament within two years.

As this timescale was almost entirely ignored on all sides,
it is reasonable to expect that a body like the IMC would
be required to assess where we stand today.

The IRA can hardly be regarded as a defunct force when,
within the last two years, in the centre of Belfast, its
members were brazenly prepared to abduct Bobby Tohill, with
a view to killing him and to actually murder Robert
McCartney and stage a comprehensive cover-up afterwards.

There are growing indications that the IRA statement from
last July, formally abandoning its campaign, has brought us
towards to a new era but a range of issues still need to be

The spotlight must be placed even more firmly on loyalist
groups who may yet take the same path as the IRA but at
this stage continue to present a much more serious threat
to all sections of the community.

Although significant progress is being made, the pressure
on all paramilitary groups to finally leave the stage has
to be maintained.


Opin: Who Dares To Speak Of The Easter Rising?

ONCE again President Mary McAleese has shown true
leadership and imagination - and, perhaps, not a little
courage. In a speech to university students last week, Mrs
McAleese defended the patriots of 1916 who took part in the
Easter Rising; she even celebrated their actions,
describing them as “our idealistic and heroic founding
fathers and mothers, our Davids to their Goliaths”.

How very refreshing. And how very rare. The president
speaks for the silent majority in this country who years
ago became accustomed to keeping their heads down and their
mouths shut, for fear that the Dublin elite and their
friends in the media would accuse them of being “fel-low
travellers” and “terrorist sympathisers”. There was a time
when such an allegation could ruin a reputation or a
political career.

And then there came the revisionists, those commentators
who made it their business to rubbish any claims to heroism
on the part of those who had fought and died in the name of
the Republic. They used the Troubles in Northern Ireland as
the stick with which to beat Irish nationalism, blaming the
“physical force tradition” for all our woes. Perversely,
this peculiar reptilian breed tended to obsess about “the
Great War” and “our forgotten Irish dead”. That obsession
soon turned to denigrating the architects of our
independence from England, whom, one can only assume, they
blamed for taking the limelight from their own imperial

Such people were never happier than when they could label
the War of Independence, and indeed the Troubles, as a
sectarian dogfight rather than a struggle for political and
economic equality.

Mrs McAleese put it very well: “There is a tendency for
powerful and pitiless elites to dismiss with damning labels
those who oppose them. That was probably the source of the
accusation that 1916 was an exclusive and sectarian
enterprise. It was never that, though ironically it was an
accurate description of what the Rising opposed.”

Perhaps now we can look forward to the day when our
national broadcaster will get over its obvious
embarrassment at our history and commission some home-grown
dramas based on the lives and exploits of the men and women
who won us our freedom. Padraig Pearse, James Connolly,
Michael Collins, Eamonn de Valera, Ernie O’Malley, Tom
Barry and Dan Breen, to name but a few, literally changed
the world in a few short years. Their achievements were

How is it that other countries can celebrate their
histories without wringing their hands? The United States,
for example, was making movies about its own bloody and
divisive civil war mere decades after it had ceased. And
Britain continues to squeeze television mileage out of its
imperial past without unduly worrying that it might upset
the descendants of the losers at Waterloo. Some day, maybe,
our own media will learn to take pride in the victory of
brave Irishmen over a great Empire.

In the meantime, we can be proud that we have a head of
state as admirable as Mary McAleese.


Travel Guide Criticises Knock For Commercialism

Posted on February 02, 2006

The joy of chiefs at Ireland’s Knock shrine at the news
that the airport serving the complex has received a E1m
cash injection has been tempered by the publication of a
new edition of a popular tourist guide book which
criticises what it claims is commercialism at Knock. The
investment at the newly renamed Ireland West Airport, which
comes in the form of a loan from the Western Development
Board, will provide for an expansion of car parking,
catering shops in anticipation of a further rise in
passenger numbers forecast for 2006. However, the new
edition of the ‘Lonely Planet’ guide to Ireland has
attacked traders in religious objects for bringing down the
tone of Knock Shrine. “The village is crammed with hawkers
looking to cash in on the fervent, almost medieval piety of
pilgrims,” reads the guide.


Drogheda Girl (14) Lands Harry Potter Role

By Luke Cassidy Last updated: 02-02-06, 13:46

A 14-year-old from Drogheda, Co Louth beat more than 15,000
hopefuls at an open casting call to land a role in the next
Harry Potter film.

Newcomer, Evana Lynch, will play Luna Lovegood, a Ravenclaw
student who becomes an important ally of Harry's.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson reprise
their roles as close-knit teen wizards Harry Potter, Ron
Weasley and Hermione Granger.

Britain's David Yates is making his debut as a Potter
director and among the other new faces in the cast will be
Vera Drake star Imelda Staunton as the new Defence Against
The Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts School.

Warner Bros announced today that filming will begin next
week of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The film
is expected to be released next year.

© 2006

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