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April 25, 2006

DUP Pledges To Consult Speedily

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 04/25/06
DUP Pledges To Consult Speedily On An Executive With SF
BT 04/25/06 DUP 'Won't Be Bullied' Into Power Pact With Sinn Fein
BT 04/25/06 Parties To Be More Upfront On Donors
IN 04/25/06 ‘Surprise’ As Shoukri Walks Free
BN 04/25/06 Trial Date Fixed For Omagh Accused Murphy
BT 04/25/06 Out Of Order
BT 04/25/06 Opin: DUP Adopts A Welcome New Attitude
IN 04/25/06 Opin: DUP Still Haunted By Ghosts From Past
IN 04/25/06 Opin: Dialogue Need Not Be Delayed
IN 04/25/06 Opin: Interface Patrols Can Deter Trouble
IN 04/25/06 Opin: We May Be Better Off Without The Assembly
HC 04/25/06 Inishmore Is Hilarious But Not For Faint Of Heart
BT 04/25/06 Neeson's Prayers For 'Mother Of The Lyric'


DUP Pledges To Consult Speedily On An Executive With Sinn Fein

Political correspondent Noel McAdam travelled to Killarney
yesterday for the DUP's ground-breaking presentation to the
British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body

25 April 2006

The DUP's planned extensive consultation with the unionist
community to decide on a power-sharing Executive with Sinn
Fein could take weeks rather than months, it emerged last

But the process may not even begin until the next report
from ceasefire watchdog, the Independent Monitoring
Commission, which is not expected until October.

A senior party delegation told the British-Irish Inter-
Parliamentary Body meeting in Killarney yesterday that it
wanted to see stable self-government for Northern Ireland
established as quickly as possible.

And both deputy leader Peter Robinson and Lagan Valley MP
Jeffrey Donaldson told the assembled MPs and TDs they
believe the consultations, which would precede any final
party decision on going into government with republicans,
could be completed within weeks.

Mr Robinson, however, warned that, at its present pace, the
republican movement will not meet the current deadlines
with the Government threatening to shut down the Assembly
without a devolution deal by November 24.

The four-strong delegation, which included MPs Nigel Dodds
and Iris Robinson, faced just over 50 minutes of
questioning after a half-hour address by Mr Robinson.

The DUP made political history as the first unionist party
to address the body, which includes Scottish, Welsh,
Channel Islands and Isle of Man representatives.

Questioners included Sinn Fein TD Arthur Morgan who
apologised for sitting with his back to the delegation,
because of the way conference chairing was organised, and
asked when the DUP envisaged its consultations could begin.

Mr Donaldson said the listening exercise would start when
the party believed the potential exists for moving forward
towards a Stormont executive.

"It shouldn't be any longer than a number of weeks," he

Mr Donaldson also agreed with Cork East TD Joe Sherlock
that Northern Ireland was becoming increasingly segregated
- and with Cavan TD Seymour Crawford that the province
continues to lose its undergraduates.

More Protestants are living in predominantly Protestant
areas and more Catholics in predominantly Catholic areas
than five, ten or 15 years ago, Mr Donaldson said, but a
major cause was the influence of paramilitaries "on both

"We can have all the agreements we want at a political
level, but unless we deal with these problems on the ground
that are causing greater polarisation ... we are only
applying a sticking plaster over a very deep wound," he

Earlier, Mr Robinson said his hope would be that the
consultations would last weeks rather than "months upon

But he also made clear the DUP wants to share its
"homeland" with parties holding different and conflicting
political ideals.

"We accept the legitimacy of those who seek - using solely
democratic and peaceful means - to advance their aspiration
of a united Ireland," he told the gathering. "And, with no
less legitimacy, we will - using solely democratic and
peaceful means - oppose them."

There were no angry exchanges during the afternoon
presentation, during which members of the body which
unionists have boycotted for 16 years praised the courage,
initiative and "powerful contribution" of the DUP team.

Mr Dodds said when unionists heard talk of urgency and
deadlines, they asked why republicans had been given so
much time - with the IRA, for example, still refusing to
admit responsibility for the Northern Bank raid.

The North Belfast MP said concern in the Republic over
sharing government with Sinn Fein was "very understandable.
How can you not expect unionists who have lived on the
receiving end of murder and mayhem for 35 years not to feel
the need for caution."

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern, who met the DUP
delegation briefly in private afterwards, said their visit
had been a "small, but very significant" step and he hoped
the body could become the forum for all strands of
political opinion on the island.

But Mr Ahern also made clear the November 24 deadline was
"real and very real". Without agreement by then, the Irish
and British Governments would maximise implementation of
the Good Friday Agreement and "bring forward" the work of
North-South co-operation.

"It is our responsibility to do so," Mr Ahern said.


DUP 'Won't Be Bullied' Into Power Pact With Sinn Fein

25 April 2006

The Democratic Unionist Party will not be bullied into
joining Sinn Fein in government by November, deputy party
leader Peter Robinson warned yesterday.

And he said the DUP would take as long as it needed to
ensure that the republican campaign of violence and
criminality had ended.

"What we cannot accept is that any party which is in
government should be inextricably linked to those who are
sanctioning, organising, tolerating or benefiting from such

The Northern Bank heist was a salutary lesson on the need
for caution, he said. The IRA had caused a lot of suffering
and the reality was that there had to be a stable political
structure which would not collapse every couple of months.

He said that his party had nothing to gain by unnecessarily
delaying devolution, but an Executive involving Sinn Fein
was not possible until people were satisfied that the
ending of criminality and violence was permanent and not

Yesterday Mr Robinson and three other DUP members arrived
in Killarney to address the 32nd plenary session of the
British/Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body, the first time that
any member of the party has accepted an invitation to
attend - the party had boycotted the body since it was set
up 16 years ago.

Mr Robinson said he, his wife Iris, and DUP members Nigel
Dodds and Jeffery Donaldson had accepted the invitation to
speak some months ago.

He said the DUP wanted to see an Assembly exercising the
fullest range of powers and they wanted to see it happening
at the earliest suitable moment.

"We have the most to lose if powers are devolved while
paramilitary and organised crime continues by an
organisation attached to a party of government. That is why
caution is compulsory and certainty is crucial."

He said the ability to bring forward the date of full
devolution was in the hands of republicans and it was not
unreasonable for unionists to exercise caution in assessing
if there was completion and permanence.

He insisted that the DUP approach of holding out for
completion and permanence was working and that republicans
would have moved less and more slowly if the DUP had not
been victorious in the last election.

Mr Robinson said that the requirement for an end to the
activities of paramilitary organisations could not be a
one-sided process. The concentration was on the IRA because
of its connection with Sinn Fein and the issue of places in
government. But equally it was vital that the illegal
activities of loyalist paramilitary organisations were
brought to end once and for all.

He said the DUP was determined to make progress, but would
stubbornly resist settling for a talked-up illusion of

"We want to have a co-operative and harmonious interaction
with our southern neighbours and we want to develop better
relationships North/South and East/West but there can be no
settlement which does not have our consent," Mr Robinson

On the report on paramilitary activity from the Independent
Monitoring Commission, to be published later this week, Mr
Robinson said "spin" had already begun on its content.

"If the report says that it cannot give the IRA a clean
bill of health, but that steady progress is being made,
then let it say that. But if the government is spinning the
line that utopia has been reached while there is still more
of a road to be travelled, then people will not believe
them if and when eventually we reach the finish line," he


Parties To Be More Upfront On Donors

By Brian Walker
25 April 2006

Ulster political parties are being ordered to become more
open about their sources of funding, in new rules passing
through Westminster from today.

But the parties will still enjoy two exceptions from the
rules applying to parties in Great Britain.

Because of a continuing fear of intimidation, local parties
will be able to disclose their funding sources in
confidence to the watchdog the Electoral Commission.

The other exemption, of being allowed to raise money
outside the UK, recognises the special funding sources of
Sinn Fein and the SDLP in the Republic.

Irish rules will apply to foreign sources, limiting
individual amounts to £4000 a year from donors who must be
Irish citizens at home or abroad or who have an Irish
corporate identity.

While these rules are clearly designed to limit US illicit
funding to republicans, it remains unclear how they will
prevent American sources from channelling funds through an
Irish intermediary.

The Electoral Commission has made it clear it hopes the
exemptions from the general rules being introduced early
next year will prove to be only temporary.

Further new rules are expected to apply locally when UK
parties finally agree on how to close the loophole exposed
in the 'loans for lords' row, of allowing multi -million
pound secret loans to be made to the Labour and
Conservative parties, to get round the rules requiring the
disclosure of straight donations.

This afternoon's committee session provides a backdrop to
major debates tomorrow and Thursday when Peter Hain
introduces the emergency Bill to recall the Assembly from
May 15 to November 24.


‘Surprise’ As Shoukri Walks Free

By Barry McCaffrey

LOYALIST sources last night questioned how Ihab Shoukri
escaped charges of participation in a paramilitary ‘show of
strength’ after a UDA statement, allegedly in his own
handwriting, was discovered by police.

Shoukri (31) appeared in court yesterday on charges of UDA
membership between February and July 2003.

However, a Crown lawyer told the court that it would no
longer be relying on evidence from a senior PSNI officer to
convict Shoukri in relation to UDA membership charges.

Instead the court was told that the loyalist would be
charged with two further counts of UDA and UFF membership.

Details of the new charges were not outlined in yesterday’s
court hearing.

However it is understood they do not relate to a UDA
statement, allegedly written by Shoukri, which was found
during a paramilitary ‘show of strength’ at the Alexandra
Bar in north Belfast last month.

A specialist police unit fired up to 70 gas canisters
through upstairs windows of the Alexandra Bar on the York
Road in north Belfast on the evening of March 2.

Inside, police arrested 16 people including seven men
dressed in paramilitary uniform.

In the possession of north Belfast loyalist Gary McKenzie,
police found a handwritten UDA statement, part of which
read: ‘While Hugh Orde continually calls us criminals and
puts only North Belfast Brigade staff in jail on trumped up
charges, we remain as strong as ever.

‘We’ll never go away, you know!’

Despite already being on bail on UDA membership charges and
being found in a bar where a paramilitary display was
taking place, Ihab Shoukri was released without charge.

Days later the courts refused a police request to return
him to prison because of his presence inside the Alexandra
Bar during the ‘display of strength’.

Shoukri’s lawyer claimed that his client was merely having
a drink in the bar at the time and was unaware that the UDA
was holding a ‘show of strength’ in an upstairs room.

However, senior loyalists are understood to have expressed
surprise that Shoukri walked free, despite police finding
the UDA statement in his own handwriting.

“Who knows what these charges relate to,” one senior
loyalist said.

“All I can say is that a lot of people were surprised that
he walked free even after police found the UDA statement in
his handwriting.

“It raised a lot of eyebrows.”

Shoukri’s bail conditions were changed in court yesterday
to allow him to live at an address at Westland Drive in
north Belfast.

Defence lawyer Charles McCrainor will make legal
submissions to the court next Tuesday when the two
additional charges are formally put to Shoukri, who faces a
three-day trial next month.


Trial Date Fixed For Omagh Accused Murphy

25/04/2006 - 11:55:31

The Special Criminal Court in Dublin today fixed a date
next year for the trial of Colm Murphy, who is awaiting a
retrial for offences connected with the Omagh bombing in

Murphy was freed on bail last year after the Court of
Criminal Appeal quashed his conviction for conspiracy
offences connected with the Real IRA bombing which killed
29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and
injured more than 300 people.

Today, prosecution solicitor Mr Denis Butler told the court
that he was seeking a trial date for early next year. The
court fixed Murphy’s trial for January 11 next year and
remanded him on continuing bail until then. Murphy was in
court for the brief hearing today.

Murphy was jailed for 14 years by the Special Criminal
Court in January 2002 for his alleged role in the Omagh
bomb . He was the first person to be convicted in either
the Republic or Northern Ireland in connection with the
Real IRA bombing, the worst terrorist atrocity in the
history of the 30 years of the Troubles.

In January last year, the Court of Criminal Appeal
overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial after
finding that the court of trial had failed to give proper
regard to altered garda interview notes and that there had
been "an invasion of the presumption of innocence" in the
judgement on Murphy.

During a 25-day trial in 2001 and 2002, Murphy, (aged 53),
a father of four, building contractor and publican who is a
native of Co Armagh with an address at Jordan's Corner,
Ravensdale, Co Louth had pleaded not guilty to conspiring
in Dundalk with another person not before the court to
cause an explosion in the State or elsewhere between August
13 and 16, 1998.


Out Of Order

The Reverand Brian Kennaway, one of the Order's most senior
and outspoken members, lifts the lid on a secret society
which, he argues, has lost its moral direction. Today: how
the Order failed to deal with paramilitaries

25 April 2006

Since the middle of the 20th century, the discipline
question (in relation to the Orange Order) has been raised
largely, though not exclusively, in connection with
political violence and paramilitary activity.

In October 1966, Augustus Gusty Spence, a member of Prince
Albert Temperance LOL 1892, was found guilty of the murder
of Peter Ward. The Constitution, Laws and Ordinances in
operation at that time stated: "Expulsions shall be limited
to criminal convictions or to offences against morality"
(Law 17).

The general interpretation was that, once a person had been
convicted in the courts, he was automatically expelled.
There was no need to have another trial which, after all,
would be impossible if the person in question were in

In the case of LOL 1892, there was the added difficulty of
close family ties. It would be a brave man who would
propose such action when brothers, uncles and cousins sat
in the same lodge. It was therefore left to the County
Grand Lodge under the Master, the Rev Martin Smyth, to
pressurise the district and the lodge to have Spence
removed from the books.

This took some time and it did not stop the lodge from
paying "respect" to "Brother Gusty" on the Twelfth of July
morning, by stopping outside Crumlin Road Prison where he
was serving his sentence.

A well-known Lodge in No 3 District in Belfast is Old Boyne
Island Heroes LOL 633. They are known for their generally
unruly behaviour and the fact that they have had within
their ranks, at one time or another, a number of
individuals who have spent time in Her Majesty's prisons.

One such person was Davy Payne, a leader of the UDA in
North Belfast. Payne was caught in January 1988 with a
consignment of rifles in the overloaded boot of a hired
Ford Granada car outside Portadown. He was later sentenced
to nine years' imprisonment.

Old Boyne Island Heroes are known locally as the "UVF
Lodge" for good reason.

Peter Taylor in his book Loyalists lists their "proud"
tradition: "The only bomber on Lodge 633's banner, under
the words 'In fond memory of our fallen brethren', is one
of the names of five UVF Lodge members killed in the
current conflict listed on the Lodge's smaller bannerette.
Aubrey Reid was one of four UVF men blown up in 1975 when
the bomb they were carrying in their car exploded
prematurely; Noel 'Nogi' Shaw was 'executed' as a result of
an internal UVF feud, also in 1975; John Bingham was a UVF
commander shot dead in his home by the IRA in 1986; Brian
Robinson was killed on 'active service' by undercover
soldiers in 1989; and Robert 'Basher' Bates was shot dead
in a revenge attack in 1997. A sixth name, that of Colin
Craig, gunned down by the INLA in 1994, was once listed on
the bannerette but removed when it was thought he had been
an informer."

Taylor quotes the Master of LOL 633, Eddie McAdam, as
saying: "We don't throw them out because they're brethren .
. . We could throw out house burglars or sex offenders and
the like, but to us these guys are not criminals, they're
victims of circumstances."

UVF man Brian Robinson, shot on September 2, 1989 by an
Army undercover team, was a member of Old Boyne Island
Heroes LOL 633. He and his accomplice, David McCullough,
had just shot dead a 43 year-old Roman Catholic, Patrick
McKenna, in the Ardoyne.

He also was given an "Orange funeral", and death notices
appeared in the local press from his lodge. This caused
some controversy at the time and led to at least one letter
of complaint to the Belfast Telegraph.

Kevin Magee, writing in Sunday Life on September 24, 1989,
said: "The Orange Order last night defended its position
over members' attendance at the funeral of a UVF
volunteer." He quoted the then County Grand Master of the
Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, John McCrea, as saying: "The
Orange Order has always condemned violence from all sources
. . . Funerals of lodge members are a personal matter and a
lodge will only attend a funeral at the request of a family
. . . The death notice inserted in the newspapers was from
an individual lodge and not the Orange Order as a whole."

If this was an attempt to distance the Institution as a
whole from paramilitarism, it failed, and the Secretary of
LOL 633 was forced to defend the position in a letter to
the Belfast Telegraph on October 6, 1989, stating that
Robinson's 'private life was his own affair'.

This contradicted not only the words of the Basis of the
Institution, that it "will not admit into its brotherhood
persons whom an intolerant spirit leads to persecute,
injure, or upbraid any man on account of his religious
opinions", but also the aim of "setting a good example in
our daily lives, by living up to the high principles of the

Robinson's was not the first, nor sadly the last, death
notice to appear in the local press identifying the
deceased as both an Orangeman and a member of a
paramilitary organisation.

IN late 1996 and early 1997 one of the most shameful
demonstrations of religious intolerance in the recent
history of Northern Ireland took place in Ballymena, a
market town in County Antrim.

Roman Catholic worshippers attending Saturday evening Mass
in the Church of Our Lady in Ballymena's Harryville estate
were subject to verbal and sometimes physical abuse from a
crowd of 'loyalists' protesting at the RUC's refusal to
allow a church parade in the nearby village of Dunloy. Some
protesters wore Orange collarettes, and other Orangemen
were present among the loyalists, but not wearing regalia.

The Law of the Institution expressly forbids the wearing of
regalia without permission. Not only were Orangemen who
took part in this protest in breach of Law 23 if they were
wearing regalia, but they were "endangering the honour and
dignity of the Institution", an offence covered in Law 17.

A number of those involved in the Harryville picket were
members and supporters of the Spirit of Drumcree group.
They were easily identified from photographs. Many made no
attempt to hide their Orange membership; one member
tauntingly displayed his collarette identifying LOL 438,
evidently not a lodge in County Antrim.

ANOTHER photograph, which appeared in Sunday Life in July
1999 showed both Ballymena loyalist Billy Houston and
William McCaughey at Harryville.

McCaughey, by any standards, must rank as one of the most
notorious policemen to serve with any force. He first came
to notoriety when he was charged with stealing a table from
the home of the Mayor of Lisburn in June 1977. He had been
on escort duty with the former minister of home affairs in
the Northern Ireland government who had been attending a
party at the mayor's home.

Later appearances in court were to be of a much more
serious nature. In June 1980, McCaughey was jailed for life
for the murder of Roman Catholic grocer William Strathearn
in Ahoghill in April 1977.

This became known as the 'Good Samaritan Murder' because
Strathearn had been lured to open his shop on the pretence
of a caller requiring medication for a sick child.

The following month McCaughey was brought from prison to
appear in court along with four other members of the RUC,
charged with a catalogue of terrorist offences of which he
was found guilty.

These offences included intent to cause grievous bodily
harm and the causing of an explosion at the Rock Bar near
Keady in County Armagh in June 1976, for which he received
seven years and four years respectively. He was also found
guilty of the kidnapping of Ahoghill Roman Catholic parish
priest Father Hugh Patrick Murphy in June 1978. He received
a three-year jail sentence for this kidnapping. McCaughey
was to appear in court yet again in December 1980, where he
was sentenced to ten years for armed robbery in Coleraine
in June 1978.

The 'life' sentence given in June 1980 meant that McCaughey
was released in 1993 with "the co-operation of the
authorities at the Free Presbyterian Bible College".

In 1997 McCaughey called for the Harryville protest to be
called off because "the Orange Order in County Antrim has
proved itself incapable of solving the Dunloy problem".

Within the Orange Order no discipline was even attempted
against McCaughey. The only effort at discipline came from
outside the Institution, from Ken Maginnis, the MP for
Fermanagh and South Tyrone, who called for him to be put
back behind bars.

Despite all McCaughey's convictions in the criminal courts,
including armed robbery, kidnapping, intent to cause
grievous bodily harm and the causing of an explosion, and
murder, he remained a member of Abraham's Chosen Few
Derryadd LOL 230 in Lurgan District.

The Secretary of Lurgan District Lodge during these years
was Denis Watson, who would later declare, as Grand
Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, that
"anyone convicted of a criminal offence is automatically
expelled from the Institution".

Had the media made the connection, McCaughey's presence at
Harryville wearing his Orange collarette would have exposed
the Institution to enormous criticism.

McCaughey himself said: "I expected to be expelled from the
Orange Order. I expected the letter to land on the floor of
my prison cell when I was convicted but it wasn't and I
have to say I was surprised. I knew I had broken the

McCaughey was still a member of the Institution in 2005
when he paraded in Ballymena on the Twelfth as a member of
Ballymarlow LOL 637.

On BBC Radio Ulster in August 2002, William Ross, the
former Ulster Unionist MP for East Londonderry and one of
the two Assistant Deputy Grand Masters appointed by the
Grand Master Robert Saulters, made an astonishing claim.

In a discussion of why no one had been disciplined in
relation to Harryville, he said that the Rules in existence
at the time did not enable the Grand Lodge to take action.
He also claimed that the Rules had now been changed to
enable the Grand Lodge to exercise discipline.

In fact Rule 94 of the Constitution, Laws and Ordinances of
the Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland, which prevailed at
the time of the Harryville dispute, stated: "Any Member
offending against the Institution as a whole may be tried,
as prescribed by Law 12, by the Grand Lodge or that of the
County to which he belongs, provided he has not been
previously tried for the same offence by his Private

The new Rules which came into force in December 1998
transferred the contents of the old Rule 94 into the new
Rule 13, which states: "Notwithstanding anything contained
elsewhere in these laws the Grand Lodge of Ireland or the
County Grand Lodge or the District Lodge to which a member
belongs shall be entitled to try any charge against any
member who has offended against the Institution as a

As the 21st century dawned the Institution was to come
under continued pressure to address the problem of

THE media pressure increased with successive Drumcree
stand-offs and reached its height following the scenes on
Sunday July 7, 2002 at Drumcree Hill, when the world saw
overwhelming evidence of the involvement of Orangemen in

The usual banal statements were issued promising discipline
against those who may have been involved. The Executive
Officer, George Patton, said on BBC Radio Ulster, 'We will
be investigating . . . We will deal with this.' Yet, on
August 6, the Grand Master, Robert Saulters, wrote in the
News Letter, 'This will be done in private because that's
how companies, political parties and most other
organisations deal with disciplinary matters.'

In years gone by, the leadership were conscious of the
public image of the Orange Order.

In 1798 the Grand Lodge published its disciplinary action
against William Mackenzie in the three main newspapers of
the day. In the 19th century, the Grand Lodge stated in
reference to the continuation of illegal degrees that an
offender 'shall be publicly expelled and his name sent to
every Lodge in the Kingdom'.

In 2003 the Institution's response to the need to improve
its image was to hire a public relations company. This
appeared to do nothing to counter the information now
coming into the public arena.

All these instances, coming into the public domain, left
those members of the Institution who adhered to its
authentic core values in despair. The by now obvious
unwillingness of the leadership of the Orange Institution
to take action against those within its ranks who failed to
live up to its traditional high standards meant that the
Order was now a danger to its own principles, as it
gratuitously gave propaganda victories to its enemies.

l Extracted from The Orange Order: a tradition betrayed by
Rev Brian Kennaway, published by Methuen on April 27, 2006,
hardback £18.99 © Copyright 2006 Brian Kennaway

l Rev Brian Kennaway has been a senior member of the Orange
Order for over 40 years. For 25 years he was a member of
the Grand Lodge of Ireland and was convenor of its
Education Committee from 1992 until 2000 when he felt
finally forced to leave.


Opin: DUP Adopts A Welcome New Attitude

25 April 2006

The Government's attempts to revive devolution are already
yielding results, as yesterday's appearance by the DUP at a
British-Irish Parliamentary Body gathering in Killarney has
proved. Not only was the party acknowledging for the first
time that parliamentarians from all parts of these islands
have a role to play in Northern Ireland affairs, but it
chose a southern venue to reveal an important new approach
to power-sharing.

If the DUP is convinced that the IRA has abandoned
criminality, as well as terrorism, and that Sinn Fein is
living up to its commitment to democratic means, it has
promised a widespread consultation exercise. Before
deciding to share power, it wants to find out the opinions
of the loyal orders, Protestant church leaders and business

Some will see this as a means of extending the political
process, but the law fixing the deadline of November 24
will soon be in place. If the DUP wants to protect its
back, before entering a Stormont executive, it will have to
begin consulting its electorate - and others - soon after
the Assembly reconvenes in September.

All is in the realms of speculation, since the DUP has yet
to meet Sinn Fein for face-to-face talks. But the two sides
were almost able to reach an agreement in December 2004,
through government mediators, before the Northern Bank
robbery and the McCartney murder destroyed faith in
republican sincerity.

If the forthcoming IMC report shows that the IRA, post-war
and post-decommissioning, is progressing towards an
exclusively political role, then the scene is set for an
interesting Assembly session, starting on May 15. Few
believe that DUP-Sinn Fein differences can be settled
within six weeks, but if the marching season is relatively
uneventful and there is no further evidence of IRA
activity, all those who would be eligible for consultation
by the DUP will be keyed up for a busy autumn.

Any party entering a coalition government is bound to
consult its grassroots supporters - as well as the wider
community. When David Trimble accepted the Good Friday
Agreement for the UUP, he relied on the subsequent
referendum, and promises from Tony Blair, to provide his
mandate, with ultimately unsatisfactory results.

Ian Paisley's DUP is intent on avoiding those mistakes, but
must adopt a leadership role, sooner or later. Those being
consulted will want to know where the party stands and how
their opinions will be weighed in the balance, before a
final decision.

Simply by attending the BIIB conference, and answering
critical questions, the DUP is demonstrating a new
confidence in its ability to shape events, rather than
react to them. No one should doubt that the business
community, in particular, and the hard-pressed ratepayers,
want devolution to work.


Opin: DUP Still Haunted By Ghosts From Past

The Monday Column
By Roy Garland

Free Presbyterian Minister and one time DUP Assembly member
Rev Ivan Foster, has come out of the woodwork to reject all
semblance of DUP power-sharing with Sinn Fein. He
explicitly harks back to the good old days of camaraderie
around Big Ian who derided all and sundry that came close
to advocating accommodation. Foster is clearly stuck in a
1960s mindset when he says that power sharing would be a
repudiation of the old anti-O’Neill campaigning tradition
when there were “no high paying positions to be availed
of”. His thinly disguised attack on Robinson and Paisley
suggests the DUP is now at sixes and sevens not knowing
which way to turn. The old days of carefree opposition to
anything that smacked of compromise are gone. Paisley and
Robinson have promised too much and must soon face hard
choices. The problem is that if they actually do a deal
they will be condemned as Lundys but if not, they could be
accused of once again leading their people up the hill and
down again to no avail.

Nor in Foster’s view would ‘Plan B’ be acceptable. If the
two governments decide on managing Northern Ireland after
November 24, he suggests they would stimulate resistance.
Whether such resistance would be passive or active is
unclear but managing Northern Ireland is what the two
governments have been doing and there is little sign of the
said resistance. Even Ulster Resistance led nowhere and
Foster has only succeeded in exposing the tip of an old-
style reactionary Paisleyite iceberg. Donaldson may claim
the party is only responding rationally to changed
circumstances but many rank and file remain unconvinced.
For them nothing has changed and they face the same old
enemy believing the only acceptable response would be a
resounding ‘NO’.

Jim Molyneaux was famously credited with saying the 1994
ceasefires had been the greatest destabilising factor
within unionism. He was right and in the slipstream of the
malaise that followed, many turned to the masters of
reactionary thinking who led them up the creek without a
paddle. Foster says Sinn Fein’s mandate cannot exonerate
them from past crimes or “make it permissible in God’s eyes
to enter a political union with them”. It therefore comes
down to a religious struggle in which there can be no
compromise. If the people – acting under Divine guidance –
back a stand against Blair and Ahern, they should resist
whatever the consequences, and “look to God for his

Foster makes the ungracious claim that it was “high-paying
positions” that tempted the DUP leadership towards a deal.
But despite Foster ranting, there are DUP people who know
that something more constructive is required and that
resistance could have drastic consequences. Judging by
Peter Robinson’s recent speech in New York, light has begun
to dawn and in his words the “sons and daughters of the
Planter and the Gael” can yet find a way to live together
in peace. He now leads a DUP delegation into a meeting of
the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body – previously
damned as part of the once hated Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Ulster Unionists also rejected this body because of its
origins. But they were wrong because the Anglo-Irish
Agreement provided the framework within which the
governments could work constructively together to stabilise
relationships in Northern Ireland, between north and south
and between east and west. The east west dimension in
particular should have been grasped but it wasn’t and the
DUP progressives are now to be commended for taking risks
to change this. However, as Ivan Foster indicates, it is
extremely difficult for a movement built on resistance to
the minuscule changes advocated by Terence O’Neill in the
late 1960s, to now make any kind of deal with former
enemies. The DUP have not prepared their people so many of
their rank and file have learned nothing over the decades.
A hard-nosed religious element now seems to have a noose
prepared should Paisley and Robinson move towards their
elusive deal. These Neanderthals thrive on myths and
legends and so the ghosts of times past haunt the DUP
leadership. It will take great courage, ingenuity and
statesmanship if they are now to break the old moulds and
silence the clamour of ancestral voices.



Opin: Dialogue Need Not Be Delayed


Yesterday was one of the most intriguing days witnessed in
Irish politics for some years with a delegation of senior
DUP figures travelling to Co Kerry for a meeting with MPs
and TDs.

The discussions were organised by the British-Irish Inter-
Parliamentary Body, an organisation which the DUP has
boycotted for the past 16 years.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson had no difficulty in
outlining his party’s position during the gathering in

What he said was not surprising but where he said it had
symbolic significance.

In the past the DUP regularly expressed outrage over what
it regarded as any hint of outside interference in Northern

It expelled members who accepted invitations to cross-
border events and was deeply suspicious of contacts with
TDs at any venue.

Moderate unionists, who once found themselves denounced as
traitors for extending the hand of friendship, will have
particularly appreciated the ironies involved in
yesterday’s developments.

At the same time, any positive step by the DUP, no matter
how late in the day, deserves to be welcomed.

Mr Robinson insisted yesterday that his party had much to
gain from the restoration of a devolved assembly at
Stormont but spoke of the need for a consultation programme
involving all sections of unionism which apparently might
well stretch well beyond the November 24 deadline put
forward by the British and Irish governments.

While the DUP has seldom displayed much previous interest
in views outside its own party boundaries it is perfectly
entitled to seek out opinions in the wider unionist

There is no reason to prevent this process from starting
tomorrow and being completed well before November.


Opin: Interface Patrols Can Deter Trouble


The vicious attack at a Derry interface which left a
Protestant man with severe injuries is yet another
depressing example of the bitter sectarianism which has
blighted so many lives.

The 32-year-old suffered a broken nose and jaw in the
incident which took place in the early hours of Saturday in
the Irish Street area.

A second man was also taken to hospital.

Unfortunately, this part of the city has witnessed
sectarian clashes in the recent past and police had
increased patrols in an effort to prevent further

Given this latest incident and concern that it will
heighten tensions and lead to more attacks it is vital the
police ensure there is a highly visible presence at this
interface to deter those intent on causing trouble.

It is also important that political and community
representatives on both sides work together to calm the

Sectarian violence is always wrong and must be rejected.

Those who are involved in this type of activity should be
brought to court where they deserve to face severe


Opin: We May Be Better Off Without The Assembly

By Patrick Murphy

Are we any worse off without the Stormont assembly? As our
politicians re-emerge into the sunlight, blinking, yawning
and stretching their well-rested limbs, we are told that
life without them has somehow left us all deprived.

The claim is supported by three main arguments: without an
assembly there is a political vacuum; such a vacuum will
ultimately generate political violence and, in any case,
social and economic life here is significantly better with
an assembly. So how do the claims stack up?

A political vacuum presumably means the absence of normal
politics. The weakness in this argument is that we have
never had normal politics in this state. Its creation
precluded them. Our sectarian divisions created a vacuum in
which real politics could not develop. But instead of
trying to challenge that sectarianism, the assembly’s
structures and systems enshrined it in law, thereby
creating a political vacuum of world-heritage-site

Lacking the usual European political division of left and
right and with no concept of government and opposition, the
assembly is a political vacuum. Its continued existence may
even hinder the evolution of normal

politics here.

The theory that a political vacuum will foster political
violence is equally suspect. Loyalist paramilitary violence
is a process independent of rational thought, political or
otherwise. It hinges on a variety of non-political issues
ranging from the price of drugs to the price the British
government is willing to pay to let paramilitaries deal in

And since most senior loyalists are in the pay of the
British government in any case, an upsurge in loyalist
violence may well be inspired by events far removed from
the debate on the merits of the assembly’s existence.

Violence from traditional republicans is equally
independent of the political process. To them British rule
is British rule, whether laws are made in London or
Belfast. They too have their problems with British agents
and they also face the additional challenge of Provisional
IRA agents informing on them. In any case there is no heart
for a fight in either camp.

The third pro-assembly argument is that social and economic
conditions will improve here because a new executive will
somehow abolish the ills of contemporary British government
policies. Thus confusion over how to replace the 11-plus
examination will disappear. Water charges will vanish
overnight and our rates bills will turn out to be computer

Such claims of better and cheaper government services are
based on the implicit assumption that members of the
assembly can achieve greater efficiencies in public
spending than direct rule ministers. Thus we are asked to
believe that given the same amount of money, the north’s
politicians will deliver improved public services in
health, education, roads, water and local government.

All available evidence suggests that the opposite is the
case. Our politicians have a poor record in financial
management in district councils and education boards.

Their financial strategy seems to rest on populism, an
approach which is hardly conducive to public sector

At council level they can disguise poor financial
management by raising domestic rates. But on education
boards they have often been left exposed by their inability
to work within a given budget. The assembly works on the
same basis. Assembly members can influence the amount they
spend, not the amount they receive.

In this sense they are no different from a huge array of
public sector budget-holders, ranging from senior civil
servants to primary school principals. As such they do not
govern, they merely administer. Hence their cry in the last
assembly of “We could do better if we had more money”.
Couldn’t we all?

One pro-assembly argument has been missing in recent weeks.
It states that without the assembly we do not have true
democracy because direct rule ministers are not elected
here. But the democratic deficit argument was dealt a
severe blow with Thursday’s announcement that should the
assembly survive the

November 24 deadline, next year’s elections will be

This would mean that under a returned assembly there would
not necessarily be a link between what the electorate might
think and what politicians might decide. How different is
that from direct rule?

Thus in claiming to tackle a political vacuum the secretary
of state has reserved the right to place us in a democratic
vacuum. Assembly members might have pointed out that unlike
politics, democracy is not negotiable.

Their silence suggests that if there are strong arguments
in favour of restoring the assembly, we have yet to hear

:: James Kelly is away


April 24, 2006, 3:06PM

Gore and guffaws

Inishmore Is Hilarious But Not For Faint Of Heart

By Everett Evans
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

NEW YORK - "Do you think he's dead, Donny?" Davey asks.

Donny picks up what's left of a limp black cat. Bits of
brain plop onto the table. "Aye," he replies.

From that opening, it's clear The Lieutenant of Inishmore
is not for the squeamish. Martin McDonagh, whose The
Pillowman last year stirred a sensation on Broadway, has
built his most hilarious and violent play yet upon the
bloody repercussions of that cat's demise. Wee Thomas, you
see, was the only friend of loose-cannon terrorist Padraic,
the fellow deemed "too mad for the IRA."

Written in the 1990s as part of McDonagh's Aran Islands
Trilogy, Lieutenant won the Olivier Award for its 2001
London premiere. After a sold-out run off-Broadway, its New
York debut recently moved to Broadway's Lyceum, where it's
in previews for a May 3 opening.

As the play begins, Padraic's loutish father, Donny, and
dim-bulb neighbor Davey have just found the murdered
feline, whom Padraic left in his dad's keeping "when he
started moving about the country bombing places." They
panic as they anticipate Padraic's reaction to his pet's

Our first look at the title character shows they have good
reason to worry. Padraic is administering payback to one of
his enemies, whom he's hoisted upside down in a desolate
warehouse. He has just sliced off two toenails with a razor
and is about to do worse things when his cell phone rings.

"I'm at work at the moment, Dad," Padraic says matter-of-

Donny plans to tell Padraic that Wee Thomas is "off his
food," then progress a few days later to "he's gone
downhill." But as soon as Padraic hears something's amiss
with his cat, he cries, goes ballistic, smashes his phone
and (after releasing his captive) rushes to Dad's cottage
in Inishmore to check out Wee Thomas' condition for

Others are destined to reach the cottage about the same
time as Padraic.

Mairead, Davey's 16-year-old tomboy sister, is mad for
Padraic, longs to join him in the INLA (Irish National
Liberation Army) and proves her skill by shooting out the
eyes of cows with her trusty air gun.

Then there are three INLA gunmen. Leader Christy wears an
eye patch because Padraic took his eye out with a crossbow,
but what really upsets them is that Padraic plans to form
his own splinter group — off their splinter group. They
bashed Wee Thomas to lure Padraic home. But with their
petty squabbles, they seem as likely to turn their guns on
each other as on him.

McDonagh compounds horror upon hilarity till the audience
is breathless. Ghastly incidents of torture, murder and
dismemberment, increasingly cartoonish, exist alongside
scenes of inspired absurdity. Determined to trick Padraic,
yet unable to find a black cat to substitute for his, Donny
and Davey set about disguising an orange cat using black
shoe polish. Caught in the act, they offer a ludicrous
explanation: "He has a disease that makes him go orangey
and smell of shoe polish."

Plot twists abound, as do frequent changes of who has the
upper hand. In the final scene of jaw-dropping carnage,
with the stage awash with blood, a final stunning surprise
— a gentle surprise — completely reverses the play's

McDonagh melds Tarantino-esque violence with the lyrical
language that has distinguished classic Irish dramas since
the days of J.M. Synge. Davey explains it couldn't have
been his bicycle that killed Wee Thomas: "Damage that
decent you'd have to go out of your way to do."

The play's humor stresses deadpan irony. Don't miss the
"home sweet home" sampler over the doorway of the cottage
where all this mayhem occurs.

Director Wilson Milam and David Wilmot, in the title role,
are re-creating their work from the play's 2001 premiere at
the Royal Shakespeare Company. Besides his breakneck pacing
and deft handling of bursts of violent action, Milam
ensures comic impact by playing every moment dead serious.

Wilmot's lean, driven Padraic is frightening, intense and
implacable — yet the soul of wistful affection when
eulogizing his Wee Thomas.

Peter Gerety's affably oafish Donny and Domhnall Gleeson's
scraggly, desperate-faced Davey make a comic team as
ideally matched as Laurel and Hardy.

Alison Pill's Mairead is tough, charming and scary. Andrew
Connolly, Dashiell Eaves and Brian d'Arcy James make the
gunmen's interplay sharp and deft.

This disturbing yet potent black comedy may appear to
exploit over-the-top gore for shock value. Yet it shows
that violence only begets more violence, and all its
violence-begetters are idiots — which drives home the point
that violence and retribution are themselves stupid.

Lest anyone suspect there's no sentimental side at all to
the brutally brilliant McDonagh, he has dedicated the
published play: "To Pussy (1981-95)."


Neeson's Prayers For 'Mother Of The Lyric'

By Andrea Clements
25 April 2006

Ulster actor Liam Neeson has paid tribute to the founder of
Belfast's Lyric Theatre, Mary O'Malley, who died on
Saturday, aged 87.

The Ballymena-born star, who started his professional
career at the theatre and is now its patron, described Mrs
O'Malley, who passed away after a long illness, as "a sort
of mother to us all in Ridgeway Street".

Along with her husband Pearse, Mary's passion for theatre,
poetry and the arts gave birth to the Lyric Players in

In 1952, the O'Malleys converted a stable loft in their
house in Derryvolgie Avenue into a studio theatre.

It was the Lyric's home for the next 16 years until Mary's
ambitious plans for a professional theatre for Northern
Ireland resulted in the opening of the current venue in
Ridgeway Street in Stranmillis in 1968.

Mr Neeson said he was saddened by Mrs O'Malley's death.

"She gave me my professional start in the Lyric and
believed in whatever raw talent I had. She pulled no
punches as regards telling me of the potential hardships of
the professional actor's life," he said.

"Her love and pride for the Lyric Theatre was infectious."

He recalled his last conversation with her was when he was
nominated for an Academy Award for Schindler's List.

"I felt that I needed to call her and share my joy," he

"She was thrilled and I could hear her letting out little
whoops of delight and happiness.

"She and her family are in my prayers and thoughts. Thank
you, Mary, God bless you, always."

Mrs O'Malley, whose funeral will take place in Dublin
today, is survived by her sons Conor, Kieran and Donal.

The Lyric is fundraising for a new £12m, multi-stage
theatre complex on its present site.

A spokesman said the building would allow Mrs O'Malley's
legacy to continue to benefit future generations.

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