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March 21, 2006

Hain: Assembly Gap Can Be Bridged

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 03/20/06 Assembly Gap Can Be Bridged: Hain
BN 03/21/06 DUP Criticises Taoiseach’s Comments On IRA Activity
BB 03/21/06 DUP 'May Talk To Paramilitaries'
AP 03/21/06 SF Says Bush Must Take Adams Off Airport `Search' List
SF 03/20/06 SF Meet British Government On Electoral Registration
BN 03/20/06 Rabbite Labels McDowell Comments “Intolerant Tantrum”
BN 03/21/06 McDowell Apologises For Nazi Slur On Bruton
IT 03/21/06 Man Pleads Guilty To IRA Attack On Base In Germany
CP 03/20/06 Opin: Bush's Crackdown On Gerry Adams And Sinn Fein
IT 03/21/06 Armed Men Rob Bank In Galway City Centre
BN 03/21/06 Study Shows Link Between Alcohol And Accidental Deaths
BB 03/21/06 Belfast Airport Renamed After George Best


Assembly Gap Can Be Bridged: Hain

The gap between unionists who will only go into a shadow
assembly and nationalists who do not want this can be
bridged, Peter Hain has said.

Mr Hain was asked about Bertie Ahern's weekend remarks that
a Stormont assembly could possibly operate for some months
without an executive.

The NI secretary said Mr Ahern was illustrating current
thinking but a detailed plan had to be worked out.

He added MLAs could not continue to be paid "for jobs they
refuse to do".

Mr Hain said there would be an announcement within a month.

The secretary of state said that when a detailed plan for
an assembly was completed by the British and Irish
governments it would present NI politicians with "a very
clear, very stark and for some perhaps very hard choice".

Speaking at the weekend, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said the
two governments' aim was to have a fully functioning
assembly with an executive as envisaged under the Good
Friday Agreement.

However, he said a deadlock over the formation of that
executive should not stop the assembly from operating while
there was work for it to do.

Mr Ahern said he wanted to give the assembly a chance and
it would not be a meaningless interim assembly.

He suggested it could operate over the summer and into the

However, he warned that time was limited and that if there
was no agreement on an assembly with an executive, Stormont
would not operate into next year.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/20 16:48:24 GMT


DUP Criticises Taoiseach’s Comments On IRA Activity

21/03/2006 - 11:18:57

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson is criticising the
Taoiseach for saying at the weekend that he believed all
IRA activity had ended.

Speaking after a meeting with the Independent Monitoring
Commission in Belfast this morning, Mr Robinson claimed it
was clear that the IRA was still involved in criminality.

"I just can't dream as to how the Prime Minister of the
Irish Republic could reach a conclusion that criminality is
gone," he said.

"Criminality is still going on. Everybody knows it's still
going on.

"I think the credibility of the Taoiseach is damaged by
remarks such as that and it means that any judgment he
makes in the future will be considered to be flawed."


DUP 'May Talk To Paramilitaries'

The DUP is close to the point where it will talk to
loyalist paramilitaries about ending violence and
criminality, Peter Robinson has said.

The party's deputy leader was speaking after meeting the
International Monitoring Commission on Tuesday.

"I think there is a significant group within the loyalist
paramilitaries who are wanting to see violence and
criminality ended," he said.

He said the party were open to be convinced that this was

"If we are convinced we can bring that day sooner, then
clearly we would have a responsibility to do that," the
East Belfast MP said.

Earlier this month, the IMC said loyalist paramilitaries
remained heavily involved in organised crime, although
there were signs of a possible readiness to abandon some

The commission was set up in January 2004 by the British
and Irish governments to monitor paramilitary activity in
Northern Ireland.

Its four members also monitor the "normalisation" of
security measures.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/21 11:29:23 GMT


Sinn Fein Says Bush Administration Must Take Gerry Adams
Off Airport `Search' List

Associated Press writer Tuesday, March 21, 2006

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- Sinn Fein accused the Bush
administration Monday of needlessly harassing officials of
the IRA-linked party at airports in the United States,
where party leader Gerry Adams was detained last week
because he is on the U.S. "watch list."

Adams and his longtime aide, Richard McAuley, were delayed
Friday from traveling to Buffalo, N.Y., for a meeting just
hours after both Sinn Fein officials were guests of
President Bush in the White House for St. Patrick's Day.
They missed the flight -- and still were missing two
suitcases when they returned Monday to Ireland.

"This is a nonsensical position we've found ourselves in,
and we're determined for it to stop," McAuley said in a
telephone interview from a car carrying him and Adams back
to Belfast. "In one moment we're in the White House and
Gerry is having his photo taken with the president, ...
then a few hours later at the airport, you're being pulled
aside for this rigorous, ridiculous special screening."

McAuley conceded that both he and Adams had convictions for
Irish Republican Army-related activities in the early 1970s
-- Adams for an attempted prison breakout, he for
possessing a rifle. Adams left prison in 1977, McAuley two
years later.

Because of the convictions, Adams and McAuley require
special waivers from the Bush administration. The
convictions could be why the two are regularly pulled aside
at U.S. airports when Homeland Security officials check
their computer records.

"Nothing that happened 30 years ago can justify the
treatment of Adams today," McAuley said.

"Before we leave Ireland, the State Department is given a
complete schedule of our journey. They know what flights
we're taking, the times to the minute, and the flight
numbers. Despite the fact they have all this detail, we end
up with this ridiculous security stamp on our tickets," he
said, describing the mark on all their U.S.-issued tickets
as "SSSS."

McAuley said Sinn Fein has implored U.S. officials since
2003 to drop Adams and other Sinn Fein officials from
Homeland Security's "watch" list. He said they were
complaining publicly because Friday was the first time they
missed an event with Irish-American supporters because of
it. Previously, he said, they had missed flights to

"Every U.S. official we speak to agrees the policy makes no
sense, but the buck gets passed from State to Justice to
Homeland Security, and becomes impossible to tie down,"
said McAuley, who expected a string of complaints this time
from Sinn Fein's supporters in Congress. "This might make a
difference," he said.

On St. Patrick's Day, Adams joined other Northern Ireland
leaders at the White House, then met at midday with State
Department officials.

McAuley said Bush recognized Adams from the podium and
afterward "had no difficulty greeting Gerry Adams like a
long-lost friend, and telling him 'well done' on the peace

He said Sinn Fein officials arrived at Washington's Dulles
Airport more than 90 minutes before the flight to Buffalo
and that they were expecting a security delay of about 30
to 45 minutes. Instead, he said, they did not get started
for an hour.

He said they were subjected to body searches, then had
their suitcases and wallets emptied as a Homeland Security
official discussed their computer file over the phone.

McAuley said a third prominent Sinn Fein official was
quickly cleared to travel through Dulles security to
Buffalo. She was Sinn Fein's representative for North
America, Rita O'Hare, who remains wanted in Northern
Ireland for absconding from charges of attempted murder of
British soldiers in Belfast in 1972.

O'Hare stayed behind. McAuley said they remained at Dulles
past midnight, in the hope of having their Buffalo-bound
suitcases returned.


Sinn Féin Meet British Government On Electoral Registration

Published: 20 March, 2006

Sinn Féin National Director of Elections Pat Doherty MP and
Six County Director of Elections Cllr. Sean Begley today
met with the British Minister David Hansen to discuss the
British Governments proposals to amend the current
electoral registrations guidelines.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Doherty said:

"After the introduction of the new electoral regulations a
number of years ago abolishing household registration and
introducing an annual registration requirement well over
200,000 people became disenfranchised.

"After a long campaign waged by Sinn Féin and others the
British government agreed to amend the legislation. It is
in everyone‚s interests to have a balanced electoral
playing field created through an accurate and complete
register being compiled. Today‚s meeting with the Minster
is about ensuring that this happens.

"Our primary concern at this time is to ensure that the
people who are on the current register are carried over
onto the permanent register which is currently being
legislated for. It is also important that the government
provide adequate resources to the Electoral Office and the
Electoral Commission to do their job effectively." ENDS


Rabbite Labels McDowell Comments “Intolerant Tantrum”

20/03/2006 - 17:23:12

The Labour Leader Pat Rabbitte has dubbed the Justice
Minister’s attack on Richard Bruton today as an “intolerant
tantrum” and said he is fooling himself over the number of
gardaí in Dublin.

Mr Bruton said that the number of gardaí in the capital had
increased by only two last year according to official
Government figures.

However, Mr McDowell angrily insisted that garda numbers in
the city have consistently risen during his term in office.

He accused Mr Bruton and Fine Gale of deliberately trying
to suppress information supplied last year on the strength
of Garda numbers.

But Mr Rabbitte said that Michael McDowell’s heated
comments cannot conceal the fact that the greater Dublin
area only got only two extra Gardai in 2005.

He said the number of gardaí allocated to Tallaght in his
own constituency, fell from 173 to 167 in 2005.


McDowell Apologises For Nazi Slur On Bruton

21/03/2006 - 07:47:15

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has apologised for
comparing Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton to a Nazi
during an outburst to reporters in Dublin yesterday.

Mr McDowell made the slur after launching a blistering
attack on Mr Bruton over Fine Gael's claims about Garda
numbers in the capital.

The minister accused Mr Bruton of providing misleading
figures and manipulating public opinion, likening him to
Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

Mr McDowell apologised for the comment during a radio
interview this morning, but he is still likely to face
further pressure on the issue in the Dáil today.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is expected to quiz the
Taoiseach on the matter during Leaders' Questions.

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte is also likely to press
the matter after yesterday accusing Mr McDowell of throwing
an "intolerant tantrum".


Man Pleads Guilty To IRA Attack On Base In Germany

Derek Scally in Berlin

Suspected former IRA member Leonard Hardy has pleaded
guilty to five charges of attempted murder in connection
with a 1989 attack on a British military base in Germany.

Belfast-born Hardy (45), told the regional high court in
Celle, near Hanover, that he also accepted the charge of
attempting to cause an explosion at a British army base in
Osnabrück, western Germany.

"My client accepts the charges in full," said Barbara
Klawitter, defence attorney for Hardy, in a statement to
the court. "But the attack happened in the context of the
Northern Ireland conflict when Great Britain was occupying
Northern Ireland. At no point was it the intention to
affect or endanger German citizens."

Hardy, who has British and Irish citizenship, was arrested
last August while on holidays with his family in Spain. He
turned himself in to the German authorities in Frankfurt in
January before being released on €20,000 bail.

Ms Klawitter said in the statement that Hardy hoped the
court would look favourably on the fact that he had turned
himself over to German authorities and that it would take
into account the changed political situation in Northern

"My client supports the peace process and hopes that this
old matter can be resolved," said Ms Klawitter, who
represented Donna Maguire when she stood trial in 1995 in
connection with the 1989 attack.

Maguire and three others were all found guilty and
sentenced to nine and 10-year sentences but released after
already serving nearly two-thirds of the sentence in remand

Hardy's statement yesterday made no reference to the
possible involvement of others in the attack.

State prosecutor Wolfgang Hilkert told the court that Hardy
was a member of an IRA unit that carried out the attack.

© The Irish Times


Opin: March 20, 2006

Bush's Crackdown On Gerry Adams And Sinn Fein

Unhappy St. Patrick's Day

By Harry Browne

While the Democratic Party has given the global Left little
reason to believe it would make significant changes if it
were to take power in Bushland, there is at least one
European 'republican' who cannot wait for the big-R
Republicans to leave the White House.

Gerry Adams, president of Ireland's Sinn Fein party, has
done his damnedest to cultivate friends in high American
places. But it appears his warm embrace of the likes of the
Clinton Global Initiative (documented previously in
CounterPunch) haven't endeared him sufficiently to the
present US administration. Visiting the US for the
traditional St Patrick's Day parties and political
attention to Irish affairs, he found himself subject to
extra screening before boarding a flight at Washington's
Dulles Airport to Buffalo, New York, on St Patrick's Day,
apparently because he was on a federal 'security-tagged'
list. Adams and the rest of a Sinn Fein party that included
its US representative Rita O'Hare missed the flight, and
thus an event at the Irish Centre in Buffalo, and then
ended up travelling by train from Washington to Boston for
fear the list might strike again for a second internal
flight. An Irish newspaper reported that Adams' luggage
still had not been returned by the next morning. Adams is
barred from US fundraising in any event, as the newest
restriction on his visa.

Adams and O'Hare have more or less acknowledged past IRA
activity (O'Hare more; Adams less). But the sudden American
crackdown seems scant reward for the last year's moves in
the peace process, mostly notably the IRA's apparent
disarmament at the instigation of Adams. It seems likely,
at least in the view of Irish-American supporters, that
Adams was being slapped down for impertinent criticism of
Bush's 'envoy' to the interminable Northern Ireland peace
process, Mitchell Reiss. "I don't have any high regard for
Mitchell Reiss's input in this process," Adams said on
Thursday. "If it is he who is advising the president, then
it's very, very bad advice." Bush declined to meet Adams or
other Northern party leaders in private at the White St
Patrick's Day reception.

Until this weekend, Adams had travelled freely in the US
since Bill Clinton moved to permit him a visa in 1994, to
aid the peace process. The latest incident is a salutary
reminder for Adams and other Irish small-r republicans of
the pecking order that the peace process has produced.
Adams, the leader of the North's second most popular party,
and the largest Irish-nationalist one, has less influence
on political developments there than George Bush, Tony
Blair and the Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern. (Bush and
Blair would probably enjoy even lower approval ratings in
Northern Ireland than the 36 per cent or so that each man
has at home.)

While Sinn Fein has effectively accepted the partition of
Ireland as a political reality, Adams and his party
colleagues are blocked from taking office in the North
because the vaunted "Good Friday Agreement" of 1998 gives
effective veto to the largest party on the unionist side ­
at present, pope-basher Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist
Party. Paisley won't go into government with Sinn Fein, a
position that is unlikely to shift. So republicans' reward
for acceptance of partition, disarmament, and the unionist
veto on local self-rule is precisely nothing--except an "up
yours Adams!" from the White House. The fact that the
loyalist UDA remains primed for action doesn't help

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's quest for respectability has seen it
vigorously denouncing some of its most natural supporters
in the southern Republic: hundreds of working-class
Dubliners who rioted in late February, succeeding in
preventing a parade of Northern unionists from marching
through the centre of the capital to protest past IRA
murders. The party remains likely to make electoral gains
in the Republic, but this discomfort, together with
continuing media pressure about republican 'criminality'
and recent reports of informers in the ranks, means that
the upcoming 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising finds
Sinn Fein in less-than-celebratory mood.

The Irish and British governments' latest plans set out to
please Paisley by allowing the Northern Ireland Assembly to
run without requiring it to elect a power-sharing
executive. (This is also designed to appeal to assembly-
members who were being threatened with a possible block on
their salaries just because they haven't done any work for
a few years.) Sinn Fein complains about the governments
pandering to Paisley. But the party has signed up to a
process in which such pandering is an inevitable part of
the sectarian logic.

Harry Browne writes for Village magazine and lectures in
Dublin Institute of Technology:


Armed Men Rob Bank In Galway City Centre

Gardai are searching for two armed men who stole a quantity
of cash from a bank on Eyre Square in Galway this morning.

The men were armed with knives. They are described as
having Dublin accents and white helmets, one with an orange
strip and one with a red stripe.

The men left the scene on a motorbike heading to Oranmore.

© The Irish Times/


Study Shows Link Between Alcohol And Accidental Deaths

21/03/2006 - 07:52:36

A two-year study conducted in Cavan, Monaghan and Louth has
reportedly found that alcohol is a major factor in many
suicides and accidental deaths.

Reports this morning said the study found that two fifths
of people killed in road accidents in the three counties in
2001 and 2002 had consumed alcohol.

Elsewhere, 100% of adults killed in house fires had been
drinking beforehand, while 55.5% of suicide victims had
alcohol in their bloodstreams.

The research, due to be published in the next issue of the
Irish Medical Journal, was based on blood samples taken
from 105 people who died in accidents and suicides.


Belfast Airport Renamed After George Best

Belfast City Airport is to be renamed in honour of George
Best, it has been announced.

A ceremony at the east Belfast airport is planned for 22
May, with the new signage being unveiled on what would have
been his 60th birthday.

The decision followed meetings with his father, Dickie, and
close relatives.

The Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend died last
November after suffering organ failure.

Airport chief executive Brian Ambrose said: "We believe
that renaming the airport after George is a fitting and
permanent tribute to his footballing brilliance."

A Best family spokesman said they were delighted at the

"This is a highly visible and lasting memorial to George
that we hope will please many people in Northern Ireland,"
he said.

It is estimated that 2.2 million passengers use the airport
each year.

Since his death, there has been a wide-ranging debate on
how to commemorate Best in his home city, with proposals
considered including a statue of Best outside Belfast City

Earlier this year, snooker star Alex Higgins launched a
campaign to call a referendum on removing the letters "lfa"
from Belfast and rename it "Best" city. He has since
dropped this plan.

Last week, airline Flybe named one of its aircraft in
honour of George Best.

The aircraft has a picture of him in his Manchester United
strip and will fly between Belfast and Manchester.

The renaming move follows a similar decision to rename
Liverpool Airport after one of the city's most famous sons,
John Lennon, in 2002.

The exact title of the airport will be announced at the
ceremony on 22 May.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/21 08:54:00 GMT

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