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March 26, 2006

Gerry Adams Dublin Speech

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 03/25/06 Gerry Adams Dublin Speech
TO 03/26/06 D'Hondt Plan Set For May
II 03/26/06 Ahern Ready To Serve With SF: McDowell
BB 03/25/06 Empey In 'Paramilitary Meetings'
BN 03/25/06 Empey Accuses DUP Of Concessions To Republicans
RT 03/25/06 UUP Considers Boycott Of Policing Board
BT 03/25/06 McAleese Is To Visit St Anne's In Belfast
EI 03/25/06 "ETA's Statement Is Very Clear And Absolute" - Gerry Adams
BN 03/25/06 North: Fire Crews Attacked After Attending Hoax Call
BT 03/25/06 Changing Face Of Orange Order
TO 03/25/06 Orange Leaders 'Betrayed Tradition'
BT 03/25/06 Opin: This Life: Is The Future Orange?
TO 03/25/06 Opin: Comment: Forget Apologies, IE Needs Mad Mullah Back
BT 03/25/06 Opin: Bigoted Outlook Hides The Truth
CG 03/25/06 Opin: Disgust At Your Support For SF/IRA & Gerry Adams
BN 03/25/06 New Liffey Bridge To Be Named After Playwright Beckett
BT 03/25/06 Ellis Island: Wily Coyote In The Park


Gerry Adams Dublin Speech

Published: 25 March, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today gave a keynote
speech to Sinn Féin's National Elected Representatives
Forum in Dublin, in the Writers Museum, Parnell Square at

The speech focused on the challenges ahead for Irish
republicans but he will give the Forum an up-to-date
assessment of the current negotiations around the
restoration of the political institutions in the north.

Summary of points on Current negotiations

Several weeks ago Sinn Fein resolutely opposed any halfway
house, in-between, transitional, interim or shadow
Assembly. That remains the party's position.

There is no future in the governments tampering with the
Good Friday Agreement to facilitate the DUP.

The governments need to be coming forward with propositions
which are about implementing the Good Friday Agreement and
then endeavouring to get the DUP on board.

Sinn Féin will look at whatever proposals the governments
produce, and is in daily contact with them.

There is no point in the governments withdrawing proposals
a month ago and then repackaging the same proposals and
trying to represent them as something else. It won't wash.

The governments have to deliver.

The Sinn Fein leader also outlined the party's position on
advancing the all-Ireland agenda. ENDS

Text of Speech: Check Against Delivery

Sinn Féin - Looking to the Future

I want to welcome you all to the AGM of Sinn Féin's
National Elected Representatives Forum. I want to begin by
commending the work of all of our elected representatives,
and of those within Sinn Fein whose task it is to
effectively co-ordinate the work of the hundreds of Sinn
Fein elected representatives.

I want to thank all of the people who represent our party.
Sinn Fein expects the very highest standards from our
representatives. We take our example from the first MP of
our generation - Bobby Sands MP and our first TD Kieran

While we cannot expect to emulate their sacrifices, their
example, their integrity, generosity, comradeship and
dedication, along with that of Councillor Eddie Fullerton,
Cllr John Davey, Cllr Bernard O‚Hagan, Shenna Campbell,
Vice President Maire Drumm and the many other members of
this party and family members and friends who were killed,
are the role models for us today.

Remember that our mandate and the rights of our electorate
were won on the sacrifices of others and their families.

The National Elected Representatives Forum has the job of
advancing our political policies and objectives in an
efficient manner and to make best use of the power and
influence our mandate provides.

It is a fact that Sinn Fein is the largest pro-Agreement
party in the north and the third largest party on this
island. We have elected representatives in all of Ireland's
democratic institutions, as well as 5 MPs and 2 MEPs.

This brings with it enormous political responsibility.

Sinn Féin is the Future

It is also a fact that Sinn Féin is an Irish republican

Our strategy to achieve a united, independent Ireland marks
us out from other Irish political parties, all of whom,
with the exception of the unionists, proclaim their
republicanism but have no strategy or political will to
achieve it.

Sinn Féin's goals are straightforward; an end to partition,
an end to the union with Britain, the construction of a new
national democracy - a new republic -on the island of
Ireland, and reconciliation between orange and green.

But we are not prepared to wait until we have achieved
these goals for people to have their rights to a decent
home, to a job and a decent wage, to decent public services
like health and education, and a safer cleaner environment.

Irish Republicans want change in the here and now. Our
policies provide a real alternative to the uninspiring and
jaded approach of the other parties who before election
time promise radical measures and them replicate the
mistakes of those they temporarily replace.

Irish republicanism is better than that. Our republicanism
is about positive, progressive change - fundamental, and

That means we have to be agents of change. This is an
enormous responsibility.

Sinn Féin is about empowering individuals and communities
to achieve change. We are about building an alternative to
the kind of government which can preside over one of the
wealthiest economies in the European Union, yet fail to
provide ordinary citizens with decent public services, in
health, in education, transport and housing.

We are about transforming an economy where the income of
the wealthiest ten percent is thirteen times that of the
lowest paid workers.

Sinn Féin is for equality. Sinn Féin represents the future.

We don't have all the answers but we have never been better
placed to make the case for national independence, social
justice and equality for all.

A Year of Anniversaries

This year marks the 90th Anniversary of the Easter Rising -
- as well as the 25th Anniversary of the hunger strikes.

For those of you who have forgotten I want to remind you
that tomorrow is Mothers Day. It is also a day for
remembering the families of those hunger strikers who died
and we have asked that people light a candle in solidarity
with them.

The Proclamation of Easter 1916 is the rock on which modern
republicanism is built. It is a Proclamation of Freedom and
a Charter of Liberty. It was a radical affirmation of the
kind of Republic it would be.

'The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty; equal
rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens and
declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity
of the whole nation and all its parts cherishing all of the
children of the nation equally ...'

The task of the National Elected Representatives Forum is
to turn these objectives into reality.

It is to use our electoral strength and representation on
Town Councils, District and County Councils, on Údrás na
Gaeltachta, Leinster House, the northern Assembly, at
Westminster and in the European Union, to do this.

For Irish republicans these are all sites of struggle.

Today's agenda, covering policy development, political
strategy, priorities for the Forum in the year ahead, truth
processes and campaigns, is a reflection of all of this.

Let me also take this opportunity to express my support for
the motion to be discussed today, which calls for equality
in the selection of Forum representatives to the Ard

The AGM should agree to selecting a man and woman as
representatives to the Ard Comhairle.

Strategic Challenges

In my Presidential address to the Ard Fheis I set out the
five key strategic challenges, which lie ahead for Sinn
Fein, both in the short and longer term.

Current Negotiations

First and foremost we must concentrate our efforts on the
current negotiations. The peace process is arguably the
most important issue facing the people of this island
today. Progress will create stability, will create
opportunity, will create wealth, and will improve our
standard of living.

Failure will set all this back by decades. So, the coming
weeks are critical.

The briefings in recent days from the two governments, and
in particular from the Irish government, have been giving
some indication of their likely approach.

Several weeks ago Sinn Fein resolutely opposed any halfway
house, in-between, transitional, interim or shadow
Assembly. That remains our position.

If there is to be an Assembly in the north then it has to
be the Assembly contained in the Good Friday Agreement.

Although it only worked for a short time it was popular and
relatively efficient.

However, the current approach of the governments to the
restoration of the political institutions is a source of
significant concern. There is no future in the governments
tampering with the Good Friday Agreement to facilitate the

Rather than looking at how they can change the Good Friday
Agreement to suit the DUP, the governments need to be
coming forward with propositions, which are about
implementing the Good Friday Agreement and then
endeavouring to get the DUP on board.

Our party obviously will look at whatever proposals the
governments produce, and we are in daily contact with them.
But there is no point in the governments withdrawing
proposals a month ago and then repackaging the same
proposals and trying to represent them as something else.
It won't wash.

As far as Irish republicans are concerned we have delivered
big time in terms of this process. It's now over to the
governments to deliver. Their responsibility is to
implement the Good Friday Agreement. It is now over to the
DUP to deliver.

This phase is particular challenge for the Irish
government. The Taoiseach has a duty to come forward with
propositions that are about the Good Friday Agreement - not
some notion that Ian Paisley has conjured up.

If the DUP are not prepared to come on board with the rest
of us -- if they insist to sticking with No! -- then the
governments and the rest of us must move ahead without

This means, especially for the two governments as the two
sovereign authorities, that they proceed to faithfully and
vigorously implement all other aspects of the Good Friday
Agreement, in respect of demilitarization, human rights,
equality and the all-Ireland agenda.


The second great challenge facing us is the need to develop
an entirely new relationship with unionism. Our engagement
with unionism must deepen and broaden in the time ahead.
This is a major challenge for this party and especially for
our elected representatives in the north who are among the
few republicans who engage directly with the DUP.

I would urge you to see this as a personal priority and
challenge in the time ahead. Regardless of the disposition
of the DUP, republicans need to engage with unionist
communities. We need to talk about the future.

Everyone has the right to guarantees for their civil and
religious liberties. Republicans need to talk to unionists
about this. We need to listen to their concerns. It is
within our collective ability to resolve problems. For
example, as I said at the Ard Fheis the annual crisis
caused by the small number of contentious loyal order
parades must be sorted out. This requires positive
political leadership and meaningful dialogue based on
equality and mutual respect. Sinn Féin has consistently
supported such an approach.

The all-Ireland Agenda

Our third great challenge will be to build an Ireland of
equals. We want to advance the all-Ireland agenda, to make
partition history and to campaign for an Ireland of equals.

Sinn Féin is for building on the all-Ireland aspects of the
Good Friday Agreement irrespective of the negotiations
around the restoration of the institutions. It makes sense.
It especially makes sense on an island as small as ours and
with a population of only five million, half that of most
major cities in the world!

How do we do this?

The Good Friday Agreement established a range of areas of
co-operation and implementation bodies. These covered
issues as diverse as Health, Education, Transport,
Environment, Agriculture and Tourism; as well as Intertrade
Ireland, a Food Safety Prevention Board, Foras na Gaeilge,
and others.

The potential and real benefits of closer harmonisation,
co-operation and implementation in such key areas of
governance are clearly evident.

For example health provision is in crisis across Ireland.
It makes sense to mould the two health departments into
one. This would lead to more money for drugs and new
technology, a better planned and co-ordinated service, and
obvious benefits to patients.

Or take transport as another example. Why can't we have an
all-Ireland road strategy, which links our major towns and
rural areas and enhances the potential for every area,
however isolated, to secure economic investment and jobs?

Or take the example of agriculture. A common all-Ireland
agricultural policy would benefit farmers, especially in
negotiations with the EU.

And there is room for significant expansion of these areas
of co-operation and implementation.

Energy and strategic/infrastructural investment, education
and youth, sport and recreation, waste management, policing
and justice and rural development, are just some of the
areas of governance which can be improved.

In fact there is no facet of life on this island, which
cannot be improved by adopting an all-Ireland approach.

Which brings me to the whole area of equality and human
rights law and implementation, and the rights and
entitlements of citizens. No more prevarication. Let the
governments provide the Human Rights and Equality
Commissions with the necessary legislation and resources to
see speedy progress on the introduction of a Bill of Rights
in the north and an all-Ireland Charter of Human Rights.

A Charter of Human Rights will assert comprehensive social,
economic, political, cultural and civil rights, for all of
the people.

Let us make better and proper use of the Equality
Commission to effectively promote and enforce equality in
public authorities, Government departments and statutory

And then there is the all-Ireland Consultative Civic Forum
which was allowed for under the Good Friday Agreement but
which has never met.

This can make a significant contribution to the promotion
of democratic accountability. The Irish government should
move ahead with convening this body.

The all Ireland Consultative Civic Forum holds the
potential to bring all those who are marginalised in
society, along with the other social partners, together and
to impact on Government plans and projections for the
implementation of a human rights based society.

It offers the potential for the development of
participatory governance, where the people themselves,
through their community organisations, have a formal and
established role in determining the priorities of

We now must deepen our engagement, our understanding of
unionism if we are to have partners in conflict resolution.

British Solidarity Movement

The fourth great challenge facing this party is to build
support for Irish unity in Britain.

Last week I was in the United States. Irish America remains
faithful to the cause of peace and freedom in Ireland.

Its importance is to be found in the open doors in the
White House and on Capitol Hill. Ignore the nonsense about
Sinn Fein being marginalized in the US. It's not true and
Irish America is our guarantee against it ever happening.

In my opinion there is a potential to create in Britain a
solidarity movement similar to that in the USA.

Building Sinn Féin

Our fifth strategic task is to build Sinn Féin.

There are more republicans in Ireland today than at any
time in our history. There are many more republicans on
this island than there are members of Sinn Féin. We need to
encourage men and women to join our party.

We especially want to open up our party and our leadership
to women. We need more women involved in our decision
making processes.

Five big strategic challenges -- with the biggest challenge
being that we have to do all of this at the same time. I
believe we can do it.

The Year Ahead

2005 was an historic year for Irish republicans. The IRA
formally ended its armed campaign and dealt with the arms

2006 is a year of great potential, of great opportunity in
the peace process.

But also between now and the next AGM of this body we have
a big job of work to prepare for elections, north and
south. That means selecting candidates, oiling the election
machine, and much more.

Sinn Fein continues to be significantly underdeveloped in
the 26 counties. But the fact is that there are more
republicans on this island today than at any time since
partition. That is a measure of our success and our

So, hard work, sensible planning, and common sense policies
- well presented - will make a difference.

Sinn Fein has a vision for the future. We are totally
committed to establishing an entirely new Ireland built on
positive change, on equality, on partnership. An Ireland
which is open, transparent and accountable -- a people-
centred republic -- owned by and responsible to the people.
An Ireland in which there is no more war, no more conflict,
and where the wealth is invested creatively and more fairly
and where our children wake up in homes that are warm and
go to schools which are properly resourced.

An Ireland where no one waits for a hospital bed, a home or
a job. The resources exist to build this republic -- the
New Ireland.

And in seeking to achieve it we should be guided by Wolfe
Tone's motto, which remains perennially relevant, to seek
to unite politically all patriotic people "under the common
name of Irishman", which of course includes Irishwomen as
well. ENDS


D'Hondt Plan Set For May

Liam Clarke

THE British and Irish governments may trigger the d’Hondt
mechanism for picking a power sharing administration in
Northern Ireland as early as May.

Officials accept that the first attempt will fail, leading
to intense negotiations and a second effort about four
months later. In the meantime there will also be efforts to
get the loyalist paramilitaries to disarm and disband.

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair will finalise their plans in a
series of meetings with the Northern Ireland political
parties this week. They will unveil a final blueprint on
April 6 at the headquarters of the north/south bodies in

The choice of venue is intended to remind unionists that if
they do not enter government with Sinn Fein, more issues
will be handled on a north/south basis and a greater role
will be given to the Irish government.

The prime minister and the taoiseach have still not
finalised their plans. The option of attempting to form an
executive in May is favoured by nationalists and some in
the Ulster Unionists. If, as expected, the power sharing
model set out in the Good Friday agreement does not work,
the parties will have six weeks to find an alternative.

Mark Durkan, the SDLP leader, believes that will focus
minds on an acceptable compromise. “People are treating the
process like Goldilocks treated the porridge, saying ‘this
is not just right and that is not just right’. We want
parties tested, and in the event that they don’t form an
executive, then the fallback should be the minimum
deviation possible from the Good Friday agreement,” he

SDLP sources say the British and Irish governments seemed
to be moving towards this approach in meetings before St
Patrick’s Day.


Ahern Ready To Serve With SF: McDowell

Willie Kealy

Justice Minister Michael McDowell believes that Bertie
Ahern will go into government with Sinn Fein after the next
election - if that party gets enough pivotal seats to make
them Dail kingmakers.

He says Sinn Fein will attempt to subvert democracy by
using its massive financial resources - the proceeds of
crime - to try to put itself into power at the next

In an extensive interview with the Sunday Independent, Mr
McDowell, says it makes political sense for Mr Ahern to
look at the Labour Party as an alternative government
partner, if Fianna Fail and the PDs don't get the numbers
required. He described Mr Ahern's approach as "basic ground

In that event, the PDs would be open to a coalition with
Fine Gael, but there would be ideological and political
difficulties with the Labour Party, which would have to
change before the PDs would share government with them.

Mr McDowell says he is conscious that he and Mary Harney
are taking most of the flak for the Government, because
crime and the health services are such hot issues.

But he is adamant that the Tanaiste will make substantial
improvements, particularly in A&E before the next election
- and possibly within the next three months.

He says voters will see the benefits of the Criminal
Justice Bill, currently going through the Oireachtas,
together with the delivery of the promised 2,000 extra
gardai by 2007/2008, and the new garda reserve force.

At the end of a week in which the minister apologised to
FG's Richard Bruton for comparing him to the Nazi
propaganda minister, Dr Goebbels, and withdrew a jibe about
Dublin rioters being Green Party kind of people, Mr
McDowell said he was relieved to put it behind him.

Asked if keeping Sinn Fein out of government was still a
valid reason to vote PD, given the Taoiseach's assurance
that he would not go into government with Sinn Fein, Mr
McDowell said: "If Sinn Fein got 12 seats in the next Dail,
and if they were pivotal seats, which represented the
balance of power, they would be - to use Martin
McGuinness's phrase - kingmakers.

"Whatever people say in advance about what they would or
would not do, doesn't correspond with what happens

On the prospect of Sinn Fein in government, Mr McDowell
said: "SF remains a party ideologically committed to the
IRA. I believe the IRA is in possession of a massive amount
of money and it intends to use that money for the purposes
of the Provisional movement.

"Those purposes now - post 9/11, post Jiihadist terrorism -
are to get power by political means. The Army Council of
the IRA still exists and the funds that the IRA put in are
still in place.

"Their resources are very substantial. They are available
for the subversion of democracy (through SF promoting
itself during an election). They are one of the wealthiest

Asked about the possibility of the PDs entering a non-FF
government, he said: "It depends on how the numbers stack
up. The PDs are always in the business of making sure their
seats count in terms of implementing their policies. In the
past we had an electoral pact with Fine Gael."

He said Labour has to make some fundamental choices about
itself. "Are they in the Michael Foot phase, or are they
Tony Blair/Gordon Brown? But he has no problem with the
Taoiseach trying to win over the Labour Party.

"The Taoiseach said his preference would be for a PD/FF
government - and I believe him - but if that didn't happen
he would do business with Labour.

"I think its just basic ground politics."

He is very aware that, in this pre-election period, he and
Mary Harney are the ministers in the firing line.


Empey In 'Paramilitary Meetings'

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has told the BBC he
has been meeting loyalist paramilitary leaders since the
autumn of last year.

It was an effort to persuade them to abandon violence, he

Sir Reg told the BBC that the UDA and UVF were at different
stages in their internal consultations.

He said the main unionist parties "had a special
responsibility to persuade the loyalist paramilitaries to
commit to purely peaceful means".

Sir Reg made his comments in an interview for the BBC's
Inside Politics programme ahead of his first speech to the
Ulster Unionist Council's annual general meeting since
becoming leader nine months ago.

"We are trying to create circumstances where there is
sufficient confidence in that community to move away from
the old ways," he said.

"To be committed to exclusively peaceful means, to focus on
community activity in local areas, to recognise that one
cannot go on as one has been doing with rackets, with drugs
and other activities - that has to stop."

In January, an Independent Monitoring Commission report
said the UDA and its members had continued to undertake
targeting, shootings and assaults.

On the UVF, it said: "It remains a continuing and serious
threat to the rule of law and our previous phrase - active,
violent and ruthless - still applies to it."

Meanwhile, the UUP elected former Coleraine councillor John
White as their new party president at Saturday's meeting.

Outgoing president Lord Rogan decided not to stand for re-

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/25 16:35:09 GMT


Empey Accuses DUP Of Accelerating Concessions To

25/03/2006 - 11:22:18

The Reverend Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists were today
accused of looking for cover to enable them to go into
government with Sinn Féin.

In his first speech to the Ulster Unionist Council’s annual
general meeting since becoming leader nine months ago, Sir
Reg Empey launched a hard-hitting attack on his rivals,
accusing them of accelerating concessions to republicans
rather than stopping them.

Despite heavy losses to the DUP in last year’s Westminster
and local government elections, the East Belfast Assembly
member insisted the Ulster Unionists were more resilient
than some of their critics and rivals believed.

He told UUC delegates in Belfast: “It would be easy – too
easy in fact – to take pot shots at the DUP.

“But the fact is that their failure to deliver is having an
impact on all of us.

“Neither this party, nor the pro-Union electorate at large,
can take any satisfaction when the DUP drops the ball.

“Yet after eight years of telling us that they had all the
answers the DUP has stopped nothing, changed nothing and
delivered nothing – not a Fair Deal, not a Fairer Deal, not
a Fairly Similar Deal, not even a Fairytale Deal!”

He continued: “They won electoral success on a promise to
prevent any more concessions. Far from stopping
concessions, they have accelerated.

“They are learning that it is not as easy as they thought
to deal with a government that puts its own interests

“They will end up in government with Sinn Féin – even the
famous dogs in the street know that – it is all about
finding enough cover, whether from the IMC, which they
opposed, or the Prime Minister, for whom they have

The former Stormont Economy Minister accused republicans of
acting in bad faith in the peace process by maintaining the
IRA’s links to criminality.

He also claimed Tony Blair’s government had yielded to
republican threats to return to violence and the result had
been a catastrophic loss of unionist confidence in the

With Mr Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern planning a road
map for reviving the the North Assembly which will be
unveiled next month, Sir Reg said Stormont could be
recalled before the summer.

However he cautioned against an Assembly which was a mere
talking shop.

The UUP leader said the North needed a devolved Assembly
back to reverse controversial British government decisions
such as the reform of post-primary education in the

He accused Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain of coming
up with proposals for the reform of local government and
public bodies which only Sinn Fein liked.

“The spin sounds good that he wants to save money,” Sir Reg
observed. “Don’t we all. But local government is much more
efficient than central government. Only Sinn Fein supports

“This week he proposes to axe the Housing Executive and
create seven new housing authorities. He proposes to
abolish what has been the most successful public body of
them all. Surprise, surprise, only Sinn Féin supports

Sir Reg acknowledged his party had a huge task ahead of it
to rebuild itself but insisted that work had begun.

Mistakes had been made from the top down in the UUP, he
said, but lessons had been learned.

In a reference to the party’s much-criticised Assembly and
General Election campaigns, he vowed: “There will be no
more ’Simply British’. No more ’Decent People’.

“No more making it up as we go along. No more cabals
running the show.

“Instead, there will be a renewed focus on the virtues and
values that have been the bedrock of this party since this
council first met a century ago.

“And there will be more reliance on the collective wisdom
of our grass roots.”

The UUP leader also pledged to make proposals to bring more
women and young people forward as election candidates.

He also announced plans for a forum for UUP members in the
west of Northern Ireland to consider issues affecting them
and he vowed to improve internal and external
communications in the party.


UUP Considers Boycott Of Policing Board

25 March 2006 23:52

The Ulster Unionist leader, Sir Reg Empey, has refused to
confirm that the party will take its seats on Northern
Ireland's incoming policing board.

The UUP has threatened to boycott the policing body because
the new board will have more independent members than
elected politicians.

Speaking at the party's AGM in Belfast, Mr Empey said
Ulster Unionist leaders would meet next week to decide
whether they would join the new board or not.

The current term of the existing policing body runs out at
the end of this month. If the UUP fail to take its seats,
it could put the operation of the board in jeopardy.

Mr Empey also revealed that he and other UUP officials have
been talking directly with members of the UVF and the UDA
in an attempt to bring all loyalist paramilitary activity
to an end.

He said constitutional unionism had a responsibility to try
and bring an end to loyalist paramilitarism, just as
efforts have been made to bring republican paramilitary
activity to an end.

This was Sir Reg Empey's first AGM since becoming UUP

There were no candidates put forward to challenge his
leadership today.


McAleese Is To Visit St Anne's

By Alf McCreary

25 March 2006

Irish President Mary McAleese will visit St Anne's
Cathedral Belfast next Tuesday evening for the launch of
the choir's new recording of hymns and music with Celtic

Dean Houston McKelvey said today that this will be the
first visit of an Irish President to St Anne's.

He added: "I first met President McAleese through inter-
church dialogue many years ago and I am delighted that she
has accepted my invitation which I extended to her two
years ago when I was the preacher at the Remembrance
Service in St Patrick's Cathedral Dublin. As President she
has worshipped with all denominations who have invited her
to their services."

The Dean will formally welcome President McAleese next
Tuesday, together with Msgr Tom Toner of St Peter's
Catholic Cathedral, and the Church of Ireland Bishop of
Connor the Rt Rev Alan Harper.

The Cathedral Choir's CD is titled "Celtic Inspirations"
and members will perform extracts during the President's
visit. Following the recital, the Dean will present
President McAleese with a copy of the CD, show her features
of the Cathedral and introduce her to the Cathedral


Basque peace process

"ETA's Statement Is Very Clear And Absolute" - Gerry Adams


In an interview for Radio Euskadi , the Sinn Fein leader
said that "while it may be difficult for people who have
lost loved ones, it is always better to make peace and
peace requires justice".

Gerry AdamsThe Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams commended the
leadership of Batasuna, ETA and all the individuals who
worked over a very long period to create conditions in
which the "courageous" announcement of the ceasefire was
made. In an interview for the Basque radio station Radio
Euskadi, Adams said the announcement was not a surprise to
him because he was "conscious and kept briefed on the
developing situations". He also pointed out this was "only
the beginning of an opportunity which the governments of
France and Spain and indeed all other sectors of society
should raise to".

The term "permanent"

About ETA's ceasefire statement, the Sinn Fein leader said
he did not want to get into the semantical and pointed out
the statement was "transparent, clear and conclusive" and
the term "permanent" "means what it says".

He added that "while it may be difficult for people who
have lost loved ones, it is always better to make peace and
peace requires justice".

Letter to Zapatero

Adams said he had not had direct contact with the Spanish
authorities but he had written a letter to the Spanish
president José Luis Zapatero to tell him he welcomed the
news of the development of the peace process. "I made the
point respectfully that its is very important for every one
to grasp this opportunity", he told Zapatero.

Adams also told the Goverment should make an effort and
intervene to stop "the political trials against Batasuna
and Arnaldo Otegi".

Gerry Adams' piece of advice was to "try to work together,
talk, dialogue, see problems as challenges opposed to
excuse or obstacles".

© eitb24 - 2006All Rights Reserved


North: Fire Crews Attacked After Attending Hoax Call

25/03/2006 - 09:51:54

Fire crews were attacked after being lured to west Belfast
by a hoax call early today.

Youths hurled bricks and bottles at the fire crews who
answered a 3.40am call to a house fire on the Springfield

When they arrived they discovered there was no fire and the
call had been a hoax. However a number of windows had been
broken in the unoccupied house.

An 18-year-old youth was arrested for riotous assembly and
later released pending reports.

Meanwhile in Portadown, Co Armagh, a school was badly
damaged in a fire.

A classroom in Lismore Comprehensive in Portadown was
destroyed and several other classrooms extensively smoke

The Fire and Rescue Service said it was only their swift
response to the blaze which prevented it spreading
throughout the school.

Police forensic experts were carrying out an examination of
the school to establish whether the fire was started
deliberately or was an accident.

A man was also being questioned by police today following a
fire at a north Belfast house in which a woman was injured.

The woman was said to be seriously ill in hospital after
the blaze at Clanmorris Street.

A police spokeswoman said she was rescued shortly after
fire crews and police arrived at midnight.

An examination of the scene was being carried out to
establish the exact cause of the fire.


When It Comes To Goebbels, Tds Have A Ball In The Dail

John Burns

HE was forced to apologise last week for referring to Fine
Gael’s Richard Bruton as the Dr Goebbels of propaganda, but
by rights justice minister Michael McDowell is entitled to
an apology himself.

Because parliamentary research conducted after his gaffe
last week has established that in May 1994 McDowell was
himself referred to in the Dail as “one of the greatest
Goebbels of Irish politics”.

The remark was made by Brian Cowen, now finance minister
and McDowell’s cabinet colleague. Asked this weekend if, in
the circumstances, he would like to apologise
retrospectively to McDowell, there was no comment from the
Department of Finance.

Now that it is no longer acceptable to invoke the name of
the former Nazi propaganda minister as a political insult,
some of McDowell’s other cabinet colleagues will have to
watch their language.

The name Goebbels has been used to describe rivals on at
least 30 occasions in the Dail, most recently by Gay
Mitchell, Bruton’s Fine Gael colleague, in 2001 when he
told the then health minister Micheal Martin that he would
“make Goebbels ashamed”.

Willie O’Dea, the defence minister, managed a double whammy
in 1996 when he said that Fergus Finlay, the then Labour
party adviser, was a “Svengali who is a first-class honours
graduate of the Joseph Goebbels school of news management”.

The politician most often likened to Goebbels was Conor
Cruise O’Brien, a former minister, who holds the record
with four. Among those who made the comparison was Bobby
Molloy, the former Progressive Democrat TD, who in 1973
said that the government “sought the nearest thing they
could find to Hitler’s Dr Goebbels in putting him in

Runner-up for the unwelcome epithet is Dr Noel Browne,
another former minister, one of whose speeches was
described as being “reminiscent of Goebbels at his best”.

McDowell, who says he doesn’t remember Cowen’s gibe, last
week took the unusual step of walking around the Dail
chamber to shake hands with Bruton after withdrawing his
Goebbels remark.

In an interview with The Sunday Times today, McDowell says
he had an inkling after making the comment that he had
misspoken, but it was only when he saw himself on RTE’s 9pm
news on Monday that he decided to back down.

“A picture tells a thousand words. I saw an angry man and I
didn’t like [it]. I looked at it and said, ‘Oh God’.”

The justice minister also apologised to John Gormley, the
Green party TD, for saying that his sort of people were
behind the attack on Progressive Democrat headquarters
during the riots in Dublin last month. But McDowell is
unhappy that, after his apology, Gormley referred in the
Dail to John O’Donoghue, the sports minister, as “a sewer

Animals are often invoked when angry TDs reach for a
suitable epithet with which to brand their opponents. Pat
Rabbitte, the Labour leader, once referred to environment
minister Dick Roche as “a slithering political lizard”.

Rabbitte, Cowen and McDowell are the authors of the most
cutting political gibes in recent Irish political history.
The finance minister, for example, once snarled at McDowell
that he was “not prepared to be lectured to by this right-
wing Rasputin from the steps of the Four Courts”.

Reverting to the Nazi theme, Rabbitte has described
McDowell as “a guy who used to send children to bed crying
at night after seeing him on the television with his
Himmler glasses”.

While most Irish politicians keep their choicest invective
for the Dail chamber, where libels are protected by
absolute privilege, the G word has been used outside
Leinster House before. In 1994, during an interview on CNN,
the British ambassador to Washington compared the Sinn Fein
leader to Hitler’s propaganda minister. “When I listen to
Gerry Adams I think, as we all do, it’s reminiscent of
Goebbels,” said Robin Renwick.


Changing Face Of Orange Order

By Alf McCreary
25 March 2006

Presbyterian leaders who were once members of the Orange
Order would "scarcely recognise" the institution today,
according to one of its leading members.

The Rev Brian Kennaway, a former convenor of the Order's
Education Committee, said in a recent public lecture on
Orangeism and Presbyterianism that the ultimate question
facing Presbyterians today was whether the institution was
an "authentic reflection and affirmation of the core values
of Orangeism, as seen in the life of William III and in the
documents of the foundation fathers of the Orange Society."

In his lecture at Whitehouse Presbyterian Church, Belfast
under the auspices of the Presbyterian Historical Society,
Mr Kennaway said that the present situation "with very
public conflict and violence over parades which have
included attacks on the Crown Forces have had a negative
effect on the relationships between Presbyterians, of
whatever hue, and the Orange Institution."

He added: "The Presbyterian leaders of the past, who had
any association with the Orange Institution, would scarcely
recognise the Orange Institution of today."

He listed the names of several former Presbyterian
Moderators who had been Orangemen, and those of nearly 50
ministers who had been members.

He also quoted the comments of a senior member of a Tyrone
Presbyterian Church who resigned from the Institution and
said: "I did not join the Orange order to block roads."

He said that in 1998 he and others found it difficult to
trace as many as 25 Presbyterian ministers in the
Institution, but added that "with the last decade over
parading and the Belfast Agreement, there are many who
would not want to advertise their membership."

Mr Kennaway, who remains a member of the Order, resigned
from the Education Committee, with a majority of its
members, in 2000.


Orange Leaders 'Betrayed Tradition'

Liam Clarke

LEADING figures in the Orange Order have been accused of
betraying its traditions and allowing it to become
associated with religious bigotry. In a book to be
published next month, the Reverend Brian Kennaway claims
that the order was more tolerant of Catholics in the 18th
and 19th centuries than it is today.

A former convenor of the order’s education committee,
Kennaway hopes his book will help to bring it back to the
principles on which it was founded. “These principles were
pro-Protestant but not anti-Catholic,” he said.

A member of the order for 42 years, Kennaway could face
discipline over the blow-by-blow account he gives in the
book of a prolonged dispute within the Grand Lodge
resulting from his attempts to broaden the organisation’s
base and to moderate its message. The order’s membership is
estimated at 30,000.

He provides several examples of how the Orange Order has
allowed criminals to remain in its ranks despite rules
stipulating that members should be of good character. This
includes the case of William McCaughey, a police officer
convicted of the sectarian murder of William Strathearn, a
Catholic shopkeeper, in 1977.

McCaughey admitted being a member of the UVF when he
carried out the killing and was expelled from Ian Paisley’s
DUP for his crime. However, he was allowed to remain in the
Orange Order until his death earlier this year. McCaughey
walked in the Twelfth of July demonstration last year. He
is pictured in Kennaway’s book wearing a sash.

The book also records the case of the so-called Drumcree
15, who pleaded guilty to riotous behaviour during the
clashes in Portadown in 2002.

Robert Saulters, the Orange Order’s grand master, pledged
before the case that troublemakers would be disciplined.
But when the convicted men were leaving the court Mark
Harbinson, their leader, thanked the order for its support
and was subsequently allowed to remain a member.

Last September Dawson Baillie, the Belfast Orange grand
master, called for crowds to come on to the streets during
a banned march. When serious rioting ensued he refused to
condemn it, blamed the police and said that he would act in
exactly the same way if the situation arose again.

Kennaway quotes Sammy Duddy, an Ulster Defence Association
spokesman, who accused the order of exploiting the
paramilitaries for its own ends.

“The Orange Order has always used the paramilitaries as the
big stick,” Duddy said.

“They use them to police their parades through contentious
areas. They use them as their army when it suits and then
wash their hands if things turn out badly. Certain sections
of the UDA are now saying, ‘No more are we going to be used
by the Orange Order’.”

Paul Bew, professor of Irish politics at Queen’s
University, Belfast, described the book as a very important
work. “Kennaway was at the heart of a struggle to change
the Orange Order,” Bew said. “He tried to broaden the
meanings associated with Orangeism and the interesting
question is how and why he lost that struggle. He fought
his corner very hard and he is a brave and decent man.”

Most of Kennaway’s support comes from the liberal wing of
the order, many of whom are no longer in positions of
influence. David Trimble, the former UUP leader and an
Orangeman, has agreed to launch the book.

The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed by Brian Kennaway
will be published by Methuen on April 27


Opin: This Life: Is The Future Orange?

Alf McCreary
25 March 2006

In a few weeks, the Orange Order's marching season starts
again, and recently Rev Brian Kennaway asked some important
questions about the ethos of Orangeism.

In a public lecture at Whitehouse Presbyterian Church,
under the auspices of the Presbyterian Historical Society,
he traced the relationship between Orangeism and
Presbyterianism, but some of his pointed questions could be
applied to the other main Protestant churches.

Mr Kennaway - who is still an Orangeman - had been the
Convenor of the Order's Education Committee until 2000.
However, he resigned from the committee with a majority of
other members.

He said in his lecture: "The ultimate question which faces
Presbyterians is this: is the Orange Institution of today
an authentic reflection and affirmation of the core values
of Orangeism, as seen in the life of William III and in the
documents of the foundation fathers of the Orange Society?"
Mr Kennaway did not answer his rhetorical question, but the
tone of his lecture implied that the answer was 'no'.

He added that the present situation "with very public
conflict and violence over parades, which have included
attacks on the Crown Forces, have had a negative effect on
the relationship between Presbyterians, of whatever hue,
and the Orange Institution. The Presbyterian leaders of the
past, who had any association with the Orange Institution,
would scarcely recognise the Orange Institution of today."

This is strong stuff, bearing in mind that just over 50
years ago, there was a large number of Presbyterian
ministers in the Order.

Kennaway lists at least 46 of them, including a professor
at Magee College, and six moderators at different times.

Curiously, however, the only Presbyterian Minister to be
Grand Master so far has been Rev Martin Smyth, from 1972 to
1996. Kennaway also lists 17 Orange lodges, past and
present, directly associated with Presbyterian churches.

Significantly, he claims it is difficult to assess
accurately the involvement of Presbyterian ministers in the

He said: "When some of us went through the list of
ministers in 1998, we found it difficult to identify 25.
However, it ought to be acknowledged that with the last
decade of conflict over parading and the Belfast Agreement,
there are many who would not want to advertise their

"As one clerk of session of a Co Tyrone church stated, as
he resigned from the Orange Institution, 'I did not join
the Order to block roads'."

All of this is a far cry from my youth, when it was common
for ministers, including Church of Ireland bishops, to
parade with their lodges. Indeed the father of the Church
of Ireland, Primate Archbishop Robin Eames, was a clergyman
and a prominent Orangeman.

In earlier days, the Institution had many clerical members
as well as professional and business people. Those who
wanted to further their Unionist political careers,
including some well known liberals in Terence O'Neill's
time, found it almost obligatory to be in the Institution.

Today the picture is very different, with a greatly reduced
- if not minimal - number of clergy and professional and
business members. This might suggest why the Institution
has been so badly led in recent years. It seems incapable
of recovering any of the broad influence it once may have
had in this province. Perhaps this is all part of a loss of
confidence within Protestantism, and the current parlous
state of the official unionist party.

Mr Kennaway delivered his important lecture on March 16,
and by coincidence I found myself sampling a very different
culture the next day.

As part of my self-imposed duty to visit different churches
to see what is going on in the name of religion, I went to
the St Patrick's Day service at St Malachy's Roman Catholic
Church near the Markets area of Belfast. I had been writing
about this church - architecturally one of the most
beautiful in Belfast - and wanted to see it in action.
(Churches are more alive when people are worshipping,
though I could name some with dead-beat conregations.)

There was a large congregation in St Malachy's, and the
young priest rattled through the liturgy in a way which
occurs in many Catholic and Church of Ireland services,
where people seem to be responding almost automatically. As
a Presbyterian who values the Word, I may be wrong about
this, and if so I apologise.

Nevertheless, in that service I detected a strong sense of
Irishness. Whatever the differences between nationalism and
republicanism, the ordinary people seem clear about the
Catholic faith that has been handed down to them - unlike
Protestants who seem so diverse in their Heinz 57 varieties
of Reformed worship.

However, while there are major differences in belief, both
main traditions have much in common. When the St Malachy's
priest read the Lesson and mentioned Paul and Barnabas, I
recalled that I had recently written a story about the
Church of Ireland parish of St Paul and Barnabas in

Here were the two same Biblical figures, but in the context
of two very different churches. I wondered what St Patrick
would make of it all, and more importantly, how God was
seeing us in our man-made religious disarray. Somehow, I
don't think that's what God or St Patrick intended to

The burning love between mother and child

Today the flower shops will be full of beautiful flowers of
glorious and magnificent colours. Tomorrow, in the
Churches, cards and flowers will be given to the children
for their mothers. The reason - tomorrow is Mothering
Sunday, when sons and daughters of every age will be
showing their appreciation of their mother's love.

Mothering Sunday has its origin in the Christian faith, in
the appearance of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary,
telling her that she would conceive and bear a son. He
would save people from their sins, and would be King for
ever. Mary responded in humility and obedience. Jesus was
born nine months later.

Jesus was the firstborn of a large Jewish family in
Nazareth. There he was nurtured in faith and love. When he
died 33 years later his mother stood nearby at the Cross.

As we think of Mary's love for her son, Jesus, we reflect
on our mother's love for us. Today and tomorrow, we have
the opportunity to express in a small way our appreciation
of that love.

Like many of you, I am sure, I have wonderful memories of a
mother who was a model of kindness, gentleness, goodness,
and love for her family, and for everyone she met.

There is a very ordinary, but moving, story about a
mother's love. About the age of 12 a boy stopped having his
friends around to his house. His father spotted this and
gently probed him about the reason. "Is it because of your
mother's hands?" he asked. Her hands were scarred and
discoloured. The boy went bright scarlet, but said nothing.

His father explained that when they married her hands were
very lovely. But, one day - when he was just starting to
walk - the boy was with his mother in the garden and he
disappeared. She heard screams from the house and rushed
in. Her son's clothes were in flames from the fire, and
because there was nothing else around she smothered the
flames with her own hands.

"She saved you," his father said, "but she sacrificed her

Soon after that the boy began to bring his friends around
to the house for games and tea. He always made a point of
asking his friends very discreetly to note his mother's

"She burnt them," he would say, "because she loved me so

Bearing the cross

An Afghan man is facing death because he has converted from
Islam to Christianity. Abdur Rahman was arrested after his
shamed family found him with a Bible, and told the police.
Unless he reverts to the Islamic faith, he may be executed.

This horror story illustrates the worst of the Islamic
sharia law, and also the extreme intolerance of that
religion - though it does not represent the views of more
liberal Muslims. However, it does illustrate how we take
our freedom of religion for granted. Would you be prepared
to die to become a Christian? Think about it.


After last Saturday's triumph by the Irish rugby team, at
least one church organist was heard to play Ireland's Call
at morning service the next day. To beat England is always
a thrill, and to win the Triple Crown is even better.
However, the organist was right - the victory did require a
little Divine providence as well as the luck of the Irish!


The Sunday Times March 26, 2006

Comment: Alan Ruddock: Forget The Apologies, Ireland Needs
The Mad Mullah Back

The self-righteous have had a wonderful week. Michael
McDowell, the bête noir of Ireland’s left-leaning, Provo-
cuddling media establishment, opened himself to attack by
apologising not once, but twice. And they seized the

According to the once-sober Irish Independent, McDowell was
sent “reeling by a double blow to his political standing”.
The Irish Times denounced his “vulgar abuse and arrogant
behaviour” and decided that this “tawdry episode” would
“damage his image and raise questions over the credibility
of his future pronouncements”.

McDowell’s crime was to react angrily to an artful
interpretation of garda numbers in Dublin by Richard
Bruton, Fine Gael’s deputy leader, and which was splashed
on the front page of the Independent last Monday. McDowell
denounced Bruton as the Josef Goebbels of Fine Gael — a
phrase that in my book always meant a nasty little

But no. McDowell had apparently called poor Bruton a Nazi.
Now when that term of abuse was actually hurled at
Protestants in Northern Ireland by the Irish president and
a Catholic priest, the protests in the republic were muted.
But McDowell’s far milder jibe was considered beyond the
pale on this side of the border.

McDowell did not call Bruton a Nazi, but he still felt the
need to apologise. Revealing a hitherto well-hidden soft
side, McDowell confessed that he had tossed and turned all
night, so deep was his upset at seeing his own anger on the

As dawn broke he picked up the phone and delivered a
gushing apology to Bruton over the airwaves. And having
caught the apology bug, he apologised to John Gormley of
the Green party for previously suggesting that the people
who had stoned the Progressive Democrats’ headquarters
during the recent Dublin riots had been Gormley’s type of

It was unnerving. McDowell’s anger, his facility with words
and his willingness to speak the unspeakable have been
redeeming features of this government. He stands resolutely
against Sinn Fein and is prepared to talk about its
umbilical connection with the Provisional IRA. He faces
down the trade unions in the prison service and the Garda
Siochana. He willingly challenged the media consensus on
the automatic right to Irish citizenship, and won a ringing
endorsement from the electorate.

More than any cabinet minister he has made people aware
that Sinn Fein’s leadership controls the IRA and that Gerry
Adams and Martin McGuinness are mired in mendacity. His
forthrightness has helped stem Sinn Fein’s rise and has
exposed the party to ridicule and suspicion.

His stance has been brave and principled, though it is more
likely to attract sneers than praise from the Irish media.

Thanks to McDowell, too, the elaborate waste of money that
would have been the Bertie Bowl was averted. Others led the
charge, but it was McDowell’s invocation of Ceaucescu, the
Romanian dictator, which made the Bowl appear as ridiculous
as it was.

Of course McDowell has many faults. In the next few weeks
he will publish details of a defamation bill and, as is the
custom in Irish politics, it will be sandwiched by
compromise. On one side there will be a privacy bill to buy
the acquiescence of some cabinet colleagues, and on the
other a statutorily recognised press council, because all
politicians think it’s a great idea to put some manners on
the media.

McDowell, who from time to time makes like a libertarian,
will be the author of legislation that will eat away at
basic democratic freedoms by giving the state a role in the
regulation of the media and will introduce yet another
layer of restraint by putting privacy laws on the statute
books. It is wrong- headed, shabby and unnecessary, but we
can expect him to defend the indefensible to the hilt.

McDowell can also be accused of arrogance. He is not as
brilliant as he thinks (a common fault among barristers and
members of the legal profession), and despite his
impression of nonstop busyness, he can be slow to deliver.

His libel reform and press restraint package has been
threatened for more than a year, but has yet to appear. His
Garda Siochana Act fell far short of what Justice Frederick
Morris recommended in two reports from his tribunal of

On McDowell’s watch, serious crime has continued to
increase, gangland murders are a weekly event, and the
Garda Siochana remains untouched by serious reform. Public
perception is that he is losing the war against crime, and
that is why Bruton chose his battleground wisely.

The actual number of gardai on the streets of Dublin is a
red herring. It is clear that the problems with law
enforcement go far deeper than the headcount in the Garda
Siochana. Add another thousand or 2,000 gardai and, I
suspect, the problems would remain.

The force needs to be reconditioned. It needs new
management structures, merit-based promotion, an influx of
experienced police officers from overseas forces and an
infusion of civilians so that gardai are released for real
police work.

McDowell has danced around reform, but he failed to use
Morris’s two reports as the blueprint for radical change.
It was either a failure of nerve, or a failure to recognise
the truth and universality of Morris’s criticisms.

That is where McDowell should be vulnerable to attack by
the opposition. But if they went down that route they would
have to devise plans of their own to reform the gardai.
Much easier to call for more resources, bleat about
headcounts and trot out crime statistics than to propose
reforms that would turn the gardai and their union
representatives into sworn enemies.

McDowell’s faults, however, have not until now included the
ability to make silly apologies. He was quite within his
rights to describe the rioters as Green-party-type of
people, because that’s what some of them were. There is a
lunatic fringe to Green politics, expressed in anarchic,
antiglobalisation and anticapitalism riots.

The minister was also within his rights to call Bruton a
propagandist and to invoke Goebbels, the man who
personified the black art.

So why the apologies? Is McDowell starting to crack? Will
he soon grovel to Frank Connolly, the journalist he
suggested was an IRA stooge? Will he announce that Gerry
Adams is, after all, a fine man who has nothing to do with
the IRA? Or was it a momentary aberration? Perhaps McDowell
had grown tired of being hated and wanted to be seen as a
normal, caring, human kinda guy.

If so, it won’t wash. The real McDowell is an essential
piece of grit in the smooth blandness of the Ahern
administration. He and Mary Harney, his party leader and
the minister for health, are the only two who consistently
try to do their jobs, who appear to have some passion about
their role in politics and who, as a consequence, draw much
of the heat from the opposition and from the media.

Their Fianna Fail counterparts are, in stark contrast,
political mice. They say nothing, do nothing and are
determined to get to the next election without ruffling any
feathers. There are occasional exceptions — Noel Dempsey
has shown some bravery in tackling illegal fishing, for
example — but for the most part we are governed by
anonymity. What has Micheal Martin done in the Department
of Enterprise? What does Mary Hanafin do to raise
educational standards? What has John O’ Donoghue ever done
apart from ensuring the safety of his own seat? What
happened to Brian Cowen? Who is Eamon O’Cuiv?

McDowell does not hide away, and neither does Harney. The
price they pay is notoriety and media opprobrium, but at
least they give the impression that they care.

That is why McDowell must pull himself together, rediscover
his bark and his bite, and put this unfortunate week of
self-discovery behind him. He must resolve not to issue any
further apologies because his strength comes from passion
and conviction, not compassion and doubt.

He was not elected to the Dail in 2002 because he cuddled
up to Fianna Fail, but because he had the audacity to
lampoon them. His constituents will not reward him for
going soft on the opposition in the year before a general
election. That would smack of weakness and self-interest,
the antithesis of what got him elected in the first place.

Come back, Mad Mullah: your country needs you.

Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.


Opin: Radical New Bid To Break The Deadlock

25 March 2006

Despite the lack of political accord in Northern Ireland,
the British and Irish Governments seem determined to move
the peace process forward. Their latest plan, due to be
fleshed out at a Press conference in Armagh in April,
envisages an interim recall of the Assembly for a limited
period before the summer.

The proposals, which were agreed by Tony Blair and Bertie
Ahern at talks in Brussels yesterday, represent an
ambitious attempt to break the political deadlock. All else
has failed so the two premiers, who have laboured long and
hard on the problem, deserve support for this radical new

Already it is clear, though, that an effort will be needed
if the idea is to be sold to the SDLP and Sinn Fein. They
are resisting the idea of any shadow Assembly being formed,
arguing that it would be beyond the remit of the Good
Friday Agreement.

The Governments maintain that under the d'Hondt mechanism,
there is scope within the terms of the agreement for the
Assembly to sit for six weeks before electing an executive.
If a deal is not struck, the sitting can be suspended until
the autumn.

Although the formula put forward by the premiers is not the
preferred option, it is clearly still in the spirit of the
Good Friday Agreement. What is vital is that strict time
limits are imposed to ensure the body is not allowed to
degenerate into a talking shop.

To judge from what has emerged so far, the principles which
underpin the agreement are being safeguarded. Partnership
and proportionality will remain the cornerstones of any new

Much, of course, will hinge on the next report of the
Independent Monitoring Commission, which should be able to
deliver a more definitive verdict on Sinn Fein. If it
establishes that the party has broken its links with
paramilitarism and racketeering, the pressure will mount on
the DUP.

The prolonged stand-off has created a political vacuum
which is in nobody's best interests. As all the parties
must appreciate, that undermines Northern Ireland's image
and economic prospects.

The other factor is that Peter Hain's direct rule team is
getting into its stride and decisions which will have a
lasting impact on Northern Ireland are being taken over the
heads of local people. Changes which are being implemented
in the realms of education and rural development, for
example, have been taken, sometimes with little regard for
public opinion, and will not be easily reversed.

The immediate challenge for the two premiers is to win over
Sinn Fein and the SDLP, whose support is crucial. The
nationalist parties, habitually so fond of urging unionism
to be flexible, should show that they, too, are capable of
showing some latitude.


Opin: Bigoted Outlook Hides The Truth

Barry White
25 March 2006

Having heard Tony Blair's analysis of the "Protestant
bigot" problem in Northern Ireland, I can't wait to see his
forthcoming blueprint for the future, written in
conjunction with that other expert, Bertie Ahern.

What scenario will the two produce, trying to force the two
extremes to tie the knot? Will they return to the 1982
solution of "rolling devolution", starting with a bedlam
Assembly, or will they, as desperate Premiers, opt for a
fresh election to tell us that the DUP and Sinn Fein are
still top dogs?

It matters little, because who believes that Northern
Ireland is nearly ready for power-sharing? Unless reality
intervenes, and Tony forgets about his legacy, the
blueprint will threaten to stop the Assembly gravy train
and step up North-South co-operation.

Even so, I can't believe that Tony could have been too
pleased to hear Bertie, in the midst of a pointless
Washington expedition, speculate about recalling the
Assembly without an Executive. It wouldn't be a
"meaningless interim Assembly", he said, but would give the
politicians time "to debate the issues".

It certainly would, and what a bear pit such an Assembly
would be, with everyone castigating the Government when
they weren't tearing strips out of each other. If you were
an NIO Minister, quietly trying to make Northern Ireland
pay its way, would you want that kind of harassment?

What is really frightening is that the person on whose
judgment we depend, Tony Blair, showed an amazing naiveté
when he concentrated his fire on murdering "Protestant" as
opposed to "Catholic" bigots. Neither have anything to do
with religion, the essence of which is compassion, and they
are equally lethal.

I suppose he has a point that there is a strain of
Protestantism that says it loves Catholics, as human
beings, but hates Roman Catholicism. Anyone with a short
attention span may confuse the issue and get caught up in
violence, which the preacher will instantly disown.

That mixed message was what Tony Blair was deploring,
though he was unwise to link it with Taliban-style Islam,
but I lost him in his conclusion: "To say his (the bigot's)
religion is irrelevant is both completely to misunderstand
his motive?"

The motive of suicide bombers is to attack Western values,
but what is the PM saying about the motive of Protestant
bigots? To undermine Catholicism, which they know nothing
about, or to (totally vainly) terrorise Catholics into
turning their backs on republicanism?

We here use Protestant and Catholic when we mean unionist
and nationalist, but we expect Tony Blair, after nine
years' experience, to understand the difference. He should
know that the only issue in politics now is the
constitution - mainly because his omissions have eliminated
the middle ground - and he is left grappling with the

They were elected, in preference to the UUP and SDLP,
because they don't compromise. Now he's trying to rush them
into something that can only happen - if it ever does -
over years, not months, and on a different basis than the
1998 Agreement, which wouldn't pass any unionist test

Meanwhile, Peter Hain gets on with his job of transforming
Northern Ireland into a "world-class economy", despite its
parish pump politics, and telling thousands their public
sector jobs must go, to improve "frontline" services. You'd
have to be an optimist, wouldn't you?

THE things you read? Dawn Purvis, chairperson PUP and
Parades Commission member: "If I see a crime in the street
I report it, no matter who is involved. These same
principles are held by the leadership of the PUP, the
leadership of the UVF, the leadership of the Red Hand."

THEY said new technology would reduce waiting times. Wanted
to book an MOT for next month at the nearest centre, but
the earliest was? June 10.


Opin: Disgust At Your Support For Sinn Fein/IRA And Leader
Gerry Adams

To: Rep. Richard Neal

March 25, 2006

Congressman Neal, Your support for the leader of a criminal
and terrorist group, Sinn Fein/IRA and its leader Gerry
Adams is nothing less than SHAMEFUL. Sinn Fein/IRA and its
leader Adams are acknowledged by the police of Ireland and
Britain as well as the Minister for Justice of the Irish
Republic to be the largest criminal organization in Ireland
and Britain.

Adams and his group have close contacts with Castro Cuba.
In December, 2001 (shortly after 9/11 which Adams praised)
Adams paid a homage visit to Cuba where he condemned our
nation and called the brutal dictator "my brother in
revolution." As you chaperoned Adams around Boston and met
him in Washington, he and his group are harboring at least
three fugtives from justice in Colombia. They were found
guilty of training the Revolutionary Army of Colombia in
terrorist tactics. FARC is the largest supplier of heroin
to the USA. Your actions and support for an ememy of our
nation is shameful.

Why a US Congressman and you are one of several would allow
yourself to be duped by Gerry Adams is beyond belief of any
reasonable person.

I would be happy to talk to you with more information on
SF/IRA and Adams. I can more than document.

Floral Park , NY


New Liffey Bridge To Be Named After Playwright Beckett

25/03/2006 - 15:00:29

The new bridge over the river Liffey in Dublin is to be
named after playwright Samuel Beckett.

It comes in the year of his centenary celebrations.

The bridge at Macken Street, will link the south of the
city with the north docklands.


Ellis Island: Wily Coyote In The Park

Though I cannot bear New York in high summer, when the
humidity reaches saturation levels and the heat is enough
to irritate an iguana, I love the spring and fall

Walter Ellis
25 March 2006

I tell you what, though. If you really want to pamper
yourself next time you fly to New York, don't go for a
four-star hotel in Manhattan or dinner for two at La
Esquina. Fly Virgin Premium Economy instead.

No one has paid me to say this (nor, in my experience, am I
likely to win an upgrade next time as a result), but
Premium Economy is the bee's knees of flying.

The re-styled comfy seats; the extra leg room; the glass of
champagne at the start; the re-fills of red wine … these
are what truly make the difference between a transatlantic
transfer and a civilised journey.

It costs going on for twice the regular economy fare. But
you will feel so much better when you arrive. Take my word
for it.

Okay. Commercial over (see paragraph two above). So what's
been going on in my absence?

Well, for a start, the sun is out. England and Ireland were
mired in midwinter during my time at home. Every morning
started off gray and overcast and bitterly cold. Then it
got worse.

Here, it's nothing but blue skies from now on.

My friend Tom, who lives in London with his American wife
Deborah, is fed up with British weather. He feels he is
turning pale and wan and yearns for the weather he knew
during his years in Washington and New York.

The trouble is, Deborah, who is from San Francisco, loves
living in London and dismisses his meteorological
murmurings as so much hot - or in this case, cold - air.

But I see his point. Though I cannot bear New York in high
summer, when the humidity reaches saturation levels and the
heat is enough to irritate an iguana, I love the spring and

There is a lightness in the step of even the most
alarmingly overweight citizens. And while police officers
may not yet have taken off their balaclavas, they at least
no longer have the appearance of Napoleon's Army during the
retreat from Moscow.

One of the regular harbingers of spring in New York is the
reappearance of scaffolding on the city's apartment blocks.
In our case, small bands of hispanic workmen are once more
ascending and descending on their hoists, whistling their
merry tunes, turning politely away as they draw level with
our bathroom window.

Edmundo, our Honduran-born building superintendent, has yet
to abandon his Army beret. But the Michelin Man anorak is
back in the closet.

He snapped a tendon in his left thumb the other week while
I was away and had to undergo surgery. It hasn't slowed him
down, though. He seems positively cheered by the good
weather and looks forward with his perennial impatience to
the start of the baseball season.

I don't know about the baseball. Boston's post-season
break-up of its 2004 World Series team has dismayed me, and
I have yet to decide if I can re-kindle my enthusiasm. It
could be May before I make up my mind.

In the meantime, I have decided that we should make more
use of New York this year. Having been to the Met to see
The Magic Flute, now I want to experience more Mozart, and
possibly some Verdi.

I would also like to take in "dinner and a show" from time
to time (if we can afford it), and maybe even make it up to
the Bronx to visit the zoo.

This morning, I heard on the news that a coyote had been
captured in Central Park. There are already several Red
Tailed hawks in the park, and innumerable foxes and
raccoons. How long, I wonder, before the first black bear
of spring?

But what to say to my friends about my book tour of Britain
and Ireland? I could go on about Conor O'Clery's mean-
spirited review of The Beginning of the End in the Irish
Times. But I won't. In any case, Eamonn McCann was kind
about me in the Tele.

Instead, I shall tell them of my enounter, while a guest on
Ned Sherrin's Loose Ends, with Star Wars' General Veers,
from The Empire Strikes Back.

Julian Glover, the actor who played Veers, still goes to
Star Wars conventions, where he is forever being asked to
reprise his most famous moments in the George Lucas

What was the line they most wanted to hear? I asked him.

"Target main generators," he replied without missing a

While waiting in London to tie up Loose Ends, I realised
all of a sudden that it was St Patrick's Day. My moment of
recognition came when I stepped out of Il Viccolo, a rather
chi-chi London eatery, to be greeted by a man with a hat on
his head designed to look like four pints of Guinness.

I pretended I didn't see him.

Here, the day will have been marked by the usual mix of
mawkishness, ribaldry and public drunkeness. In other
words, like anywhere within half a mile of Queen's
University on a typical Friday night.

Only now, five days on, do I dare to return to my favourite
haunts. I'm told that Martina, the Rostrevor-born barmaid
in D.J. Reynold's on West 57th Street, has been asking for
me, wondering where I've been. Well, she won't have long to
wait to find out.

She's getting married shortly and will be off on her
honeymoon before you know it. Let's hope she stays at her
post long enough to pour me a pint of the black stuff.

It's good to be back.

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