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April 06, 2006

Jt Statement of PM & Taoiseach

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News About Ireland & The Irish

NI 04/06/06 Joint Statement By The Prime Minister And The Taoiseach
BT 04/06/06 Sinn Fein Prepares Blueprint Response
BT 04/06/06 Assembly Can Still Be Restarted, Says DUP
BB 04/06/06 Policing Board To Elect New Chair
BT 04/06/06 Hain Tells Ulster's Leaders: 'It's Make Your Mind Up Time'
BN 04/06/06 British Intelligence Murder-Link Claims 'Desperate'
NY 04/06/06 Irish Press Hunt For Killers Of British Spy
BT 04/06/06 Post-Mortem Reveals Ex-Spy Was Killed With Shot To Chest
BT 04/06/06 The Denis Donaldson I Knew
TE 04/06/06 Denis Donaldson
BT 04/06/06 Derry Name Row For Court
BT 04/06/06 UUP's Financial Concerns Growing As Grants Stopped
IC 04/06/06 Opin: Waiting For The Facts
BT 04/06/06 Opin: Premiers' Journey Appears Even More Difficult
BT 04/06/06 Opin: Historic Setting For Vision Of The Future
BT 04/06/06 Scottish Swan Killed By H5 Strain Of Avian Flu
BN 04/06/06 Irish Experts Monitoring Bird-Flu Developments In Britain
BT 04/06/06 Pandemic Would Rock Global Economy, Warn IMF Chiefs


Thursday 6th April 2006

Joint Statement By The Prime Minister And The Taoiseach
Armagh, 6 April 2006

1.In recent months we have held discussions with all the
political parties in Northern Ireland with a view to
restoring the political institutions and building on the
peace and prosperity which have flowed from the Good Friday

2.When we last met, we noted the historic progress
represented by the IRA statement of July 2005. We are
convinced that the IRA no longer represents a terrorist
threat. By any standards, that is a momentous stage in the
history of Northern Ireland. On that basis, we have made it
clear that all parties should engage in political dialogue.
We have also made it clear that all parties should support
the police as the most effective way of addressing
continuing concerns about criminality.

3.We cannot force anyone to enter the political
institutions. Every part of the political process over the
past eight years has been voluntary. What we can do is to
set out what we believe to be a practical framework and a
reasonable timescale for moving forward. While we are
conscious of the view that further confidence needs to be
established, we also know that time alone is not enough:
trust will not build itself in the absence of positive
engagement by all parties. Everyone in Northern Ireland is
aware of the dangers of a political vacuum.

4.The Assembly will therefore be recalled on 15 May.
Recognising that it has not sat for nearly four years, it
seems sensible to give the Assembly a short period in which
to prepare for government as envisaged by paragraph 35 of
Strand One of the Good Friday Agreement. The Assembly’s
primary responsibility would be to elect a First and Deputy
First Minister as soon as possible, to allocate Ministerial
posts under the d’Hondt formula and to make other
preparations for Government within Northern Ireland and in
the North/South and East/West fields.

5.As soon as the Assembly elects a First and Deputy First
Minister on a cross-community basis and forms an Executive,
power will automatically be devolved to the Assembly, as
happened in December 1999, and all its functions will be
resumed. At that point the British Government’s power to
suspend the Assembly will lapse for good.

6.If, despite best efforts, the Assembly is not able to
elect a First and Deputy First Minister on a cross-
community basis within the normal six week period, we would
be prepared to allow a further period of 12 weeks after the
summer recess in which to form an Executive and we would
expect it to do so at the earliest opportunity within this

7.We are also conscious that all parties have made
proposals for the better functioning of the institutions
and that discussion on these issues has not yet concluded.
It would be open to the parties to continue these
discussions with each other and with the Governments, as
appropriate, so that consideration could be given to
proposals for the implementation of the Agreement,
including changes to Strands 1 to 3 in the context of a
commitment by all involved to participate in a power-
sharing Executive.

8.It would of course also be open to the Assembly to
prepare for Government by considering issues which the
Executive will have to deal with, such as future economic
strategy, water rates, public administration and education.
Ministers would naturally take account of views which
command cross-community support within the Assembly.

9.While it is reasonable to give the Assembly a little more
time, there must be a clear limit. We said in January that
a power-sharing Executive must be formed this year. If by
24 November the Assembly has failed to achieve this, we do
not believe that any purpose would be served by a further
election at that point or a few months later in May 2007.
We do not think that the people of Northern Ireland should
be asked to participate in elections to a deadlocked
Assembly. There would be no choice but to cancel salaries
and allowances for MLAs and to defer restoration of the
Assembly and Executive until there is a clear political
willingness to exercise devolved power. The Governments
would, of course, stand ready to facilitate full
restoration when all parties indicate such willingness.

10.If restoration of the Assembly and Executive has to be
deferred, the Governments agree that this will have
immediate implications for their joint stewardship of the
process. We are beginning detailed work on British-Irish
partnership arrangements that will be necessary in these
circumstances to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement,
which is the indispensable framework for relations on and
between these islands, is actively developed across its
structures and functions. This work will be shaped by the
commitment of both Governments to a step-change in
advancing North-South co-operation and action for the
benefit of all.

11.The British Government will introduce emergency
legislation to facilitate this way forward. It will set out
clearly the limited timescale available to the Assembly to
reach agreement. In parallel with the recalling of the
Assembly, we will engage intensively with the parties to
establish the trust necessary to allow the institutions not
only to function but to flourish. There is a great deal of
work to be done. The Governments will do all in their power
to restore the institutions and return devolved Government
to those elected by the people of Northern Ireland. But the
final decisions are for the parties. We hope they will
seize the opportunity to move forward.


Sinn Fein Prepares Blueprint Response

By Noel McAdam
06 April 2006

Sinn Fein was today preparing an early initial response to
the British and Irish governments' proposals to revive

But all the political parties were expected to take some
time to make a more definitive response to the blueprint.

For Sinn Fein, however, Dublin Dail member Caoimhghin Ó
Caoláin and Wexford Councillor John Dwyer were joining
senior party members Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to
draw up an early reaction.

Mr McGuinness, who met Irish government officials in Dublin
yesterday, said: "Many people are now asking 'who are the
governments listening to?' - those parties who support the
Agreement and want to work together or to the DUP, a party
that is isolated and clearly opposed to power-sharing.

"Sinn Féin will continue to do all in our power to get
power-sharing institutions back up and running. But it must
be real democracy and accountability, not a Shadow Assembly
with no powers."

From the United States, however, DUP deputy leader Peter
Robinson insisted that the onus for progress still lay with

"If Sinn Fein operate in an exclusively peaceful and
democratic mode, unionists will place no impediments in the
way of them exercising all the rights every other
democratic party enjoys.

"Both unionist parties have consistently stated that they
would do business with Sinn Fein if it were entirely free
of its paramilitary and criminal associations.

"It is for Sinn Fein to shake off the cords that bind it to
terror and criminality," Mr Robinson said.


Assembly Can Still Be Restarted, Says DUP

By Sean O'Driscoll
06 April 2006

The "foul" murder of Denis Donaldson could have serious
consequences for re-establishing the Northern Ireland
Executive but not for re-establishing the Northern Ireland
Assembly, the deputy leader of the DUP, Peter Robinson, has
said in New York.

Addressing an audience at the National Committee on
American Foreign Policy, Mr Robinson said that the DUP was
prepared to restart the Assembly but believed the Donaldson
murder could have serious consequences for British and
Irish government plans for a new DUP/Sinn Fein government
in Northern Ireland.

"If the responsibility for the foul murder of Denis
Donaldson falls upon the IRA, it would have serious
implications for the Governments' proposals. It would not,
in my view, impact on the setting up of an Assembly but it
would on the setting up of an Executive," he said.

Mr Robinson was speaking before an audience that included
the NCAFP chairman, Bill Flynn, the former ambassador to
Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, Mr Robinson's wife, Iris
Robinson MP and fellow DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson.

He said that Sinn Fein should stop "whinging" about the
British and Irish governments working to a DUP agenda and
stop attacking the International Monitoring Commission,
which monitors paramilitary ceasefires, and should
concentrate on tackling IRA criminality.

However, Mr Robinson did not rule out going into government
with Sinn Fein and said that there was a new urgency to
talks to restart the Northern Ireland government and there
was a "very valuable opportunity".

He noted that Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams had said that
going into government with DUP leader Ian Paisley would be
a "battle a day" but said that at least the scars would be
political and not physical.

He said that if the Government were to succeed, there would
have to be an end to Sinn Fein "temporary fudges".

He added that if the IRA does not end criminality before
Sinn Fein goes into government, Northern Ireland would live
for "years to come" with what republicans would see as an
acceptance of their criminal behaviour.


Policing Board To Elect New Chair

The newly constituted Northern Ireland Policing Board is
due to elect a new chairman and vice chairman.

Members are attending a two-day induction programme in
Limavady. They are expected to appoint committees and their
chairs and vice chairs on Friday.

Last month, outgoing vice chairman Denis Bradley said the
next chairman "should be a nationalist".

However, the DUP said it should be left up to the board
members to elect a chairman.

The first public session of the new Policing Board will be
held on 3 May.

In his outgoing speech last month, Mr Bradley said he
looked forward to the day when the background of the board
chairman would become a "non-issue".

He also expressed concerns about MI5 taking control of
intelligence gathering, fearing it would become "a force
within a force".

Mr Bradley also predicted that Sinn Fein would take its
seats on the board in the autumn.

Board chairman Professor Sir Desmond Rea said "there is
still work to be done" by the body following the current
board's final meeting last month.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/06 05:42:34 GMT


Hain Tells Ulster's Leaders: 'It's Make Your Mind Up Time'

By Andrew Grice
06 April 2006

Northern Ireland's politicians have been warned that their
devolved government will be locked in the deep freeze for
years unless they restore it by November.

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, said in an
interview with The Independent: "We have had years and
years of frustrating negotiations. This is make your mind
up time. What is radically different this time is that we
will not allow vetoes and events to stall the process, and
then start again after a year or so."

He appealed to Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party
(DUP) not to use the murder of the former British spy Denis
Donaldson as "an excuse" to block the revival of the
Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive.

At talks in Northern Ireland today, Tony Blair and Bertie
Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, will announce that the
Assembly will meet again on 15 May. Under their joint
blueprint, it would have six weeks to elect a first
minister and deputy first minister and form a power-sharing
executive. Although there is little prospect of that
happening by June, London and Dublin hope a real effort
will be made by the province's politicians in September,
ahead of the deadline of 24 November.

If there is no agreement, Mr Hain will cancel the elections
to the Assembly scheduled for May 2007. He warned that
direct rule from London could then continue for years.

Mr Hain said: "This is a crunch year for the political
process in Northern Ireland that has developed since the
Good Friday Agreement eight years ago next week. In that
time, the Assembly has sat for less than two years."

He added: "If local politicians want to be left behind,
trapped in spats with each other and stuck in the past, and
refuse to co-operate by the deadline, then the people and
the place will move on without them."

Mr Hain said the Assembly had cost £80m since its
suspension. "I notice on a daily basis that the people of
Northern Ireland are really fed up to the back teeth with
politicians who are paid but do not do their jobs.

"If the politicians refuse to co-operate, and are
determined to be left behind, there will be no plans to
revive the Assembly. There is no alternative blueprint. It
is the only show in town," Mr Hain said. But he conceded:
"It may not happen immediately. It should not be seen as a
failure if we don't get the Assembly up and running in

Mr Hain described the killing of Mr Donaldson as "a hideous
throwback to the past of horror that Northern Ireland has
left behind".

He added: "We won't allow it to deflect us from taking the
political process forward. Democracy has got to triumph
over bullets and barbarism. We will ensure that there will
not be any excuse for any politician to use these events as
a reason not to co-operate."

Referring to today's talks, he said: "I have no doubt that
that this was ruthlessly deliberate. It is too much of a

Key moments in peace process

* 10 April 1998: Good Friday Agreement drawn up proposing
devolution of power to a Northern Ireland Assembly.

* 15 August 1998: "Real IRA" explodes a bomb in Omagh
killing 28.

* 1 December 1999: Power is passed from Westminster to

* 26 June 2000: First act of decommissioning by the IRA.
Arms inspectors visit a secret weapons dump and confirm
they cannot be used without their knowledge.

* 14 October 2002: John Reid suspends devolution and
announces the return of rule by London amid a claim of
Stormont spy ring.

* 28 July 2005: The IRA ends its armed campaign, ordering
units to dump arms and "assist the development of purely
political and democratic programmes through exclusively
peaceful means".


British Intelligence Murder-Link Claims 'Desperate'

06/04/2006 - 09:01:16

Suggestions that British intelligence was behind the murder
of Sinn Féin official-turned-spy Denis Donaldson are pretty
desperate, a British government minister said today.

As he prepared for the launch of the Irish and British
governments’ road map for reviving devolved government at
Stormont today, Northern Secretary Peter Hain said he
believed it was more likely the 56-year-old was gunned down
by dissident republicans.

“I have obviously consulted with the security services and
police,” Mr Hain confirmed.

“Nobody at the minute has any idea as to how the murder
took place or who was responsible.

“The investigation by Irish police is continuing and we are
supporting it.”

Unionists have been highly sceptical of Provisional IRA
denials that it was behind the murder of the former comrade
in an isolated cottage near Glenties, Co Donegal, on

However, among the other theories put forward have been
that Mr Donaldson was murdered by disgruntled members of
the Provisional IRA angered by revelations last December
that he had been a British spy.

Hardline dissident republicans opposed to the peace process
and Sinn Féin have also suggested that British intelligence
could have been involved.

Mr Hain said claims that the British security services were
behind the murder were fanciful and rather desperate.

He told BBC Radio Ulster: “It is much more likely to have
been a dissident republican of some description than
anything else.”

Gardaí were today continuing their hunt for Mr Donaldson’s

Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn vowed yesterday that no
stone would be left unturned in the search for those


April 6, 2006

Irish Press Hunt For Killers Of British Spy

By Agence France-Presse

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, April 5 (Agence France-Presse) —
The Irish police appealed to the public on Wednesday for
help in finding the killers of Denis Donaldson, a British
spy in the Irish Republican Army, whose death threatens to
derail the latest effort for peace in Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and his Irish
counterpart, Bertie Ahern, said they would still meet
Thursday in Armagh to present a plan to restore a power-
sharing government for the province, despite the furor over
Mr. Donaldson's death. The leaders emphasized the need to
push ahead and restore the government by the end of the

"The timing of this does suggest that whoever did this
wants to derail the peace process," Mr. Blair said. "Our
response should be to deny them what they want."

Mr. Donaldson, 55, was found Tuesday, shot to death and
mutilated, at his remote cottage in northwestern Ireland,
where he fled after disclosing last year that he had been a
double agent in the pay of Britain for two decades.

Police Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn appealed to the
public to help solve the killing.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company


Post-Mortem Reveals Ex-Spy Was Killed With Shot To Chest

By Sarah Brett
06 April 2006

British spy Denis Donaldson was murdered by a shotgun wound
to his chest, post-mortem results confirmed last night.

Examinations of the 56-year-old former Sinn Fein official
also revealed he suffered severe injuries to his right hand
in the attack at a run-down cottage in County Donegal.

Irish police disclosed details of state pathologist Dr
Marie Cassidy's report on the brutal killing of the veteran
republican who informed on his colleagues for more than 20

Savage revenge was exacted in a house belonging to his son-
in-law Ciaran Kearney where Donaldson had been hiding out
since his cover was blown just before Christmas.

Pledging to leave no stone unturned, gardai also said a
technical examination of the murder scene, just outside the
tiny town of Glenties, would continue tomorrow with the
assistance of members of the force's water and dog units.

Leading the murder investigation, Chief Superintendent
Terry McGinn told the media outside Glenties police station
yesterday that gardai had been in contact with Mr Donaldson
almost immediately after his arrival in the remote cottage
in west Donegal.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern confirmed yesterday that gardai were
aware of a possible threat to his life.

"Gardai in Glenties were aware that Denis Donaldson was
residing in this area since January 2006," said Ms McGinn,
"so we made ourselves known to Mr Donaldson and we offered
our facilities here in terms of whatever protection that he

She refused to confirm whether Mr Donaldson had taken
Gardai up on their offer.

She was also tight lipped about whether the killing was a
republican execution or whether the Sinn Fein veteran had
been tortured.

Denis Donaldson's body was discovered by gardai in the
squalid cottage where he had been living alone since
revealing himself as a British spy.

A local woman noticed a broken window and door at the house
on the Glenties to Doochary road yesterday afternoon and
alerted the police.

The former Sinn Fein administrator had been shot twice with
a shotgun after a gunman broke down his cottage door on
Monday night or early on Tuesday.

The cottage is owned by Donaldson's son-in-law Ciaran
Kearney - both men were among a number of people who faced
charges of operating a spy ring which led to the collapse
of Stormont nearly four years ago.


The Denis Donaldson I Knew

Former Alliance Party press officer Steven Alexander worked
in the Stormont Assembly while Denis Donaldson was there.
This is his impression of the man

06 April 2006

The dingy cottage where the body of Denis Donaldson was
found this week was a million miles from the corridors of
power he once walked.

As Sinn Fein's head of administration, Denis was one of the
few Stormont republicans who regularly came into contact
with outsiders - a job he seemed to revel in.

While working on 'The Hill', I often remember the
diminutive, dapper Denis poking his head around the door of
the office I worked in, a bundle of papers under one arm,
wondering whether we had a minute to discuss whatever
legislation Sinn Fein were seeking support on.

In he would come, all smiles, before plonking himself down
at someone else's desk and nonchalantly flicking through
their Rolodex or whatever papers were on their desk.

I remember one time he told myself and another staffer
about his latest hobby - shooting. The hunting variety,
obviously, although Denis had handled other guns in an IRA
defence of the Short Strand at the start of the Troubles.

I thought it odd that he would tell people in another party
this, especially as the former IRA prisoner would have had
to apply to the police for a firearms licence.

Maybe it should have set alarm bells ringing, but 'wee
Denis' seemed to enjoy being able to surprise us and then
confidently explain it all away, as though all Bobby Sands'
former cell mates had been handed out guns by the police.

I recall how he once tried to steer a conversation we had
about the complex and unwieldy voting arrangements in the
Assembly. He recognised that the system wasn't perfect,
sure, but wasn't it better than us all shooting at each

The manner in which he tried to 'lay down the law' revealed
a slightly darker side to the charming Sinn Fein man he was
known as. It left me feeling slightly uncomfortable, and it
was the last conversation we were to have.

Denis was, probably to everyone up at Stormont, above
suspicion. And when he was eventually exposed as a British
spy and peace process 'enforcer' inside Sinn Fein it was an
incredible shock. But looking back, perhaps the signs were


Denis Donaldson

(Filed: 06/04/2006)

Denis Donaldson, who was brutally murdered on Tuesday aged
56, was, variously, an IRA volunteer, a republican hunger
striker and a central figure in Sinn Fein's "international
department" before becoming its senior administrator at
Stormont; he was also a British double agent for more than
20 years.

His exposure came as a shattering surprise because of his
impeccable republican credentials as a "pre-69er" - someone
who, like Gerry Adams, had joined the movement before "the
Troubles" broke out.

Donaldson's career started to unravel with his arrest in
2002. The police accused him of being a key figure in a
Sinn Fein spy ring at Stormont, an event which led to the
fall of both the power-sharing executive and David Trimble,
the Ulster Unionist leader.

Three years later the Director of Public Prosecutions
announced that going ahead with a court case was "no longer
in the public interest", and soon after Donaldson learned
that he was to be exposed. But instead of agreeing to be
spirited abroad by the security services, he appeared on
RTE television in Dublin, explaining that he had been
recruited "after compromising myself during a vulnerable
time of my life". This may have been a reference to his
taste for the ladies; he was known as "a chaser", in
Belfast parlance.

Even that experienced watcher of events north of the
border, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, admitted that the
confession was "as bizarre as it gets".

Denis Martyn Donaldson was born in 1950 into a republican
family in the Catholic Short Strand enclave of east
Belfast. He earned a place in the republican hierarchy for
his role in the so-called "Battle of St Matthews" of June
1970, a street protest against local Protestants which was
regarded as one of the IRA's seminal moments. Next he was
imprisoned for four years for his exertions as a "shop-
lifter", his droll way of describing his blowing up of
shops with explosives.

In the Maze prison he took part in the hunger strike that
secured "political status" for IRA prisoners, and was
photographed there with Bobby Sands, who later starved
himself to death.

Donaldson earned a mention in Gerry Adams's memoir, Hope
and History, as a man "with ideas and energy". But apart
from one failed attempt to be elected a Sinn Fein local
councillor in 1983, he remained behind the scenes, with a
reputation for getting things done.

It was in the early 1980s that he started to work for the
British, providing them with the IRA's foreign contacts.

As a member of Sinn Fein's "international department" he
was arrested at Orly when returning on a false passport
from Lebanon in 1981. After the authorities released him he
established himself as a "quasi-ambassasdor" to the
Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Basque group Eta.
He also tried to obtain the release of the hostage Brian
Keenan, who declared after Donaldson's arrest in 2002: "Two
human beings put their lives at risk on my behalf. One was
Terry Waite and the other was Denis Donaldson."

Donaldson was sent to the United States to secure support
for Sinn Fein's surrogate organisation, NORAID, which was
being jeopardised by a rival group that disagreed with the
increasing weight being placed on "politics" instead of
"armed struggle".

As head of Sinn Fein's administrative team at the Northern
Irish Assembly from 1998 he seemed a conventional
republican. Nothing in his conversation suggested that his
antipathy for the British was an act.

Denis Donaldson is survived by his wife, Alice, and his
daughter, Jane.

His death came just before the Irish news magazine Magill
was to name him its "survivor of the year".


Derry Name Row For Court

City council presses ahead for official title change

By Brian Hutton
06 April 2006

Derry City Council is to press ahead with its legal
challenge on the city's official name within days, after a
probe into the controversy by the Local Government Auditor,
we can revealed today.

A bid to resolve the issue of the name through a High Court
determination was held up after the Local Government
Auditor, Stephen Knox, stepped in last November amid
suggestions that the council could be misusing ratepayers

Mr Knox had the power to issue a prohibition order on the
council if he believed that it would be incurring "unlawful
costs" by pursuing a decision on the city's name through
the courts.

This power has now been revoked in new legislation, which
came into being on April 1, but Mr Knox could have acted
before the change in law if he felt the council would be
acting illegally.

In a letter being studied by the council, and seen by this
newspaper, Mr Knox said that although he has "reservations"
about the financing of the legal bid, he had no "reason to
believe" that it was not within the council's power to do

Although he could have issued a prohibition order before
April 1, he stated: "I do not think the High Court would
look favourably on me using a power in the last days of old
legislation if so minded to do."

The letter is being seen as a green light to issue papers
to the High Court seeking a determination on the name, a
divisive issue between nationalists and unionists for

Nationalists believe that when legislation was introduced
to allow Londonderry Corporation to change its name to
Derry City Council more than 20 years ago, the name of the
city was also altered.

A detailed report, prepared by Francis Farrelly QC,
concluded in 2003 that the city's name changed to Derry in
1984 when the council changed its name.

The report was sent to the Department of the Environment
for consideration but when it failed to respond councillors
voted to mount a legal challenge to get a court's ruling on
whether the 1984 legislation, when combined with other
laws, had indeed changed the city's name.

Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Campbell said that city
solicitor Damien McMahon told him that papers would be
lodged with the High Court by Friday.

Mr Knox make clear the possibility that council spending in
this instance could be challenged at a later date.

He stated: "I may not be the statutory auditor at that time
and cannot bind the hands of another local government

Mr Campbell said: "It has now been over three years since a
motion was passed in Derry Council in which it was declared
that the preferred name of the city was Derry. Since then
the DoE have been fudging the issue and it was decided to
take court action in order to determine the proper name.

"An intervention by the Local Government Auditor last year,
questioning the actions of council, has now been dealt
with, clearing the way for lodging papers with the High
Court to determine the proper name of the city. "


UUP's Financial Concerns Growing As Grants Stopped

By Chris Thornton
06 April 2006

The Ulster Unionist Party's financial troubles grew this
week when it lost grants amounting to a quarter of its
annual income.

The party's devastating losses in the 2005 General
Election, which left just one UUP MP at Westminster,
prompted the loss of Electoral Commission policy
development grants.

But the party's treasurer Lord Maginnis said the party will
manage without the money. "The party survived long before
there were Electoral Commission grants and we will survive
if there aren't any," he said.

The Electoral Commission wrote to the DUP and SDLP this
week to notify them that they will each receive £155,786 in
the next financial year. As in past years, the taxpayer-
funded grants are expected to be the biggest single source
of income for those parties.

However, the start of the new financial year also means
that payments to the UUP will stop because they do not now
have the two MPs necessary to reach the threshold for

In the calendar year 2004, the grants amounted to £157,484
for the UUP - more than a quarter of the £619,342 declared
as income by the party that year.

Sinn Fein does not qualify for the grants because the
party's MPs do not take their seats.

The UUP's poor election also meant the loss of Short Money,
the Westminster funding for opposition parties, which was
worth more than £100,000 to the party in the year before
the General Election. That money was not considered central
party funding, however.

Again, parties must have two or more seats and take those
seats to qualify for Short Money. However, the Government
has given Sinn Fein about £85,000 in a parallel funding

The loss of grants follows other UUP financial concerns,
including a meeting with the Electoral Commission to
discuss a £50,000 donation that was not declared in its
main accounts and circulated to the party through a related

Asked if the UUP's reduced finances could lead to job
losses in the party administration, Lord Maginnis replied:
"One would hope not.

"It depends on how willing people are to tighten their

"Ultimately if you have more money you try to do more with
it. If you have less there is always the pressure of
tightening belts.

"And despite popular opinion, we're not absolutely on our

"Ulster unionism has been a movement more than a party up
until recently. Now we're dragging it more into the 21st

The party's last financial statement filed with the
Electoral Commission suggest they have some cash reserves,
and Lord Maginnis referred to suggestions that the
Government introduce funding for regional assemblies.

"There is a rumour that the whole issue of funding of
political parties is up for review and we're obviously
aware of that," he said.

"Things have changed hugely since the days of a single
central Westminster government. There are devolved
governments across the UK, so the question of funding for
parties there is an ongoing process."


Opin: Waiting For The Facts

We don’t know who killed Denis Donaldson, and nor does
anybody else at this stage – save for those who pulled the
trigger and planned the murder. But to judge by what we’ve
read and heard and seen in past 36 hours, you might be
forgiven for thinking that we are the only people on this
island who are not in full possession of the facts.

With wearying predictability, the usual suspects have
rushed to point the finger of blame at mainstream
republicans without the merest scintilla of evidence or
fact. And in a bid to add substance to their threadbare
accusations, the familiar old baseless nonsense is being
churned out in industrial quantities. In the United States
they call it ‘Hamburger Helper’ – cheap filler that’s mixed
with meat to disguise the absence of beef. The victim’s
right hand was hacked off in a macabre mafia-style message
to the world; a crack IRA unit travelled from South Armagh
to carry out the hit; a grisly effort was made to cut off
the victim’s legs; he was brutally tortured before he was
shot. All this while the state pathologist was still
examining the remains in a lonely corner of Donegal.

We do not rule out the possibility that the IRA killed
Denis Donaldson – although we do say that republicans had
by far the least to gain from this shocking act. We do say,
however, that it’s as likely, if not more so, that agents
of the British state, Mr Donaldson’s erstwhile employers,
carried out this killing. It is a sign of what a good job
the British have done of taming the Irish and British press
that to suggest such a thing is to provoke incredulous
gasps in newsrooms up and down the country. To posit, as we
do, that the British intelligence agencies in their many
baleful forms had as much if not more reason to want Denis
Donaldson dead than republicans, mainstream or dissident,
is to be condemned as a conspiracy theorist.

And yet we know that agents of the British state killed Pat
Finucane in an attack every bit as brutal and pitiless as
the one that claimed the life of Mr Donaldson. We know that
the British blew up Dublin and Monaghan and to this day
continue to refuse to help find the killers. We know that
the British directed and armed loyalist killer gangs which
slaughtered Catholics in their beds and butchered them up
entries. We know how many people the IRA killed in their
ruthless and ferocious 30-year campaign, but the number of
people killed by the British in the conflict will never be
known because they are so good at hiding their tracks and
silencing the whistleblowers.

None of which is to say that the British killed Denis
Donaldson; it is simply to say that there are too many
people for whom the death of Denis Donaldson is more than
anything else an opportunity to pursue a partisan political

The right verdict at last

The jury in the latest Kieran Milnes GBH trial showed more
sense in half an hour than the entire legal apparatus of
the North has shown in over three years.

That was the length of time it took the jury to find Kieran
innocent of the ridiculous charges levelled against him.
Kieran is now free and as we speak he is enjoying a much-
needed and well-deserved break.

In the wake of the belated decision to set Kieran Milnes
free, we have this to say to any young people who find
themselves confronted by ordinary people determined to
defend their families and properties: You cannot be
surprised if a householder takes robust steps to do what he
has to do. 99 times out of a hundred it is the innocent
victim who ends up injured or dead, as we read all too
often on the pages of this paper. On the odd occasion when
an innocent citizen gets the better of his tormentors, this
community will rally behind the law abiding ordinary Joe.
So well done, Kieran, and enjoy your holiday.


Opin: Premiers' Journey Appears Even More Difficult

Security commentator Brian Rowan examines how today's
announcement by the British and Irish Premiers will be
affected by the Donaldson murder and what kind of reaction
can be expected from loyalist paramilitaries

06 April 2006

When the British and Irish prime ministers outline their
latest route map to some sort of political end point here,
the loyalist paramilitary leadership will be listening to
their every word.

That journey, to whatever political destination, has
already been made all the more difficult by the murder of
Denis Donaldson and the whodunit question that is now
attached to the killing.

Some have already dismissed the IRA's denial; others prefer
to wait for a considered security assessment to emerge.

But it is not the Donaldson killing and the issue of
whodunit that is concerning the loyalist paramilitary
leadership most.

It is the business of what happens if working politics are
not restored at Stormont and if the governments move to a
Plan B.

To loyalists, Plan B and an "inter-governmental approach"
has the ring of joint authority.

They may not say it out loudly, but their preference would
be a Paisley-Adams arrangement.

"The DUP can give the unionist community protection by
ensuring that Plan B can't happen," says the PUP leader
David Ervine, whose party has political links to the UVF.

"People are less frightened of IRA weapons than two
governments doing business behind closed doors," he added.

The UVF has already made its position clear to some of the
intermediaries it speaks to in Dublin.

This uncertainty about where the politics of this place
might be heading, is playing into the internal consultation
that is continuing inside the UVF and the closely linked
Red Hand Commando - an internal discussion that is about
how and when those organisations disappear.

But can a decision be made on the future of these
paramilitary organisations if the political end point is
not known?

Loyalists will first want clarification that Plan B does
not add up to joint authority.

But before the politics can move, answers will be needed on
the Donaldson killing - answers that are given in the form
of a credible security assessment.

The security hunch here in Northern Ireland is that the IRA
leadership did not sanction the murder.

"I can't see who this benefits," a senior PSNI officer
said. "It has to be maverick," he added.

Another senior police source was completely dismissive of
the republican suggestion that the hands of the so-called
securocrats are on the Donaldson killing.

"I don't think anyone has ever played collusion on an
informant killing," the source said.

"With informants, it's your own people who kill you. That's
the history of Northern Ireland," he added.

Until the story of the Donaldson killing becomes clear or
clearer, the politics will jog on the spot.

But inside loyalism - at the highest levels of leadership -
there is a mood among some to get on with things. They
accept the IRA has gone away - that its war threat has been

If they can get the answers they are looking for on the
politics - if the prime ministers say the right things,
then the loyalist debate will move closer to its


Opin: Historic Setting For Vision Of The Future

Navan Fort was the setting today for the latest attempt to
restore the Assembly. Political Correspondent NOEL McADAM

06 April 2006

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today
travelled to one of Northern Ireland's most troubled
attractions - in the hope of reviving another.

But initially their mission statement seemed likely instead
to attract more trouble - on the political front.

The symbolism of their joint visit to Navan Fort just three
miles outside Armagh, however, was hard to escape.

Like the suspended Assembly, Navan Fort had been shut down
for a considerable period of time.

But the Iron Age settlement with its fabulous hilltop
setting into which the centre has been built has fought
back, and is due to open in May.

Just like the Assembly, if the two premiers have their way.

Armagh City and District Council bought the mothballed
Navan Centre after a lengthy legal process and hope to use
it to revitalise tourism.

Today, still amid another lengthy process, two Prime
Ministers were using it to unveil plans which could
revitalise the prospects for devolution and local control
over much more than just tourism.

The £4m centre - seat of the ancient kings of Ulster -
crashed in 1991 due to poor visitor numbers and the
withdrawal of Government funding.

If no political progress has been made by November,
Stormont could have even poorer visitor numbers and an even
more dramatic Government withdrawal of funding.

But Armagh is also the base for the North-South Ministerial
Council, whose work through the cross-border bodies has
been quietly continuing.

The location is also therefore a warning to unionists that
the North-South work will go on regardless of what happens
on the other hill.

Armagh is also, of course, the ecclesiastical capital of
Ireland and who's to say Messrs Blair and Ahern won't be
hoping for a little divine inspiration?


Scottish Swan Killed By H5 Strain Of Avian Flu

A three kilometre exclusion zone was thrown round an area
of central Scotland last night after tests confirmed a dead
swan discovered in Fife was carrying a highly pathogenic
strain of bird flu.

By Paul Kelbie
06 April 2006

A three kilometre exclusion zone was thrown round an area
of central Scotland last night after tests confirmed a dead
swan discovered in Fife was carrying a highly pathogenic
strain of bird flu.

It is the first time that any evidence of the H5 strain has
been found among indigenous birds in Britain prompting the
authorities both sides of the border to instigate emergency

"The exact strain of the virus is not yet known, tests are
continuing and a further result is expected on Thursday,"
said a spokesman for the Scottish Executive last night. "In
accordance with a recent EU decision the Scottish Executive
is putting in place a Protection Zone of a minimum of 3km
radius and a Surveillance Zone of 10km."

Keepers of birds in the protection zone are being
instructed to isolate their birds from wild birds, by
taking them indoors wherever possible. Measures to restrict
the movement of poultry, eggs and poultry products from
these zones are also being brought into effect immediately.

"While the disease has yet to be confirmed, this is an
important development," said Charles Milne, Chief
Veterinary Officer for Scotland.

"Bird keepers outside the protection zone should redouble
their efforts to prepare for bringing their birds indoors
if that becomes necessary. They must also review their
biosecurity measures to ensure that all possible
precautions have been taken."

The Scottish poultry industry produces 127,000 tons of meat
and 740 million eggs a year - discovery of the virus could
have a devastating effect on the industry even though there
are not thought to be any poultry farms close to where the
swan was found.

James Withers, deputy chief executive of NFU Scotland,
described the discovery as "extremely concerning". He said:
"As we have watched the disease get closer, we have waited
for this day to come but that doesn't make it any less

"It has been found in a wild bird but there is no evidence
of it in the farmed population. The lessons from Europe are
that it will not infect the farmed population."

It is understood the partially decomposed corpse of the
swan was found on the foreshore of Cellardyke, a small
coastal town in Fife, nine miles from St Andrews.

Last night locals in Cellardyke expressed alarm at the
discovery and what it could mean to the economy of the
area. "I am rather surprised, if not shocked," said Martin
Dibley, a community councillor.

"We have a lot of farmland and farms in the area but I've
not heard of too many swans. I am surprised at it being a
swan and will be interested to know how it got here.

"We are about nine miles from St Andrews and have a
community of about 4,000 in the East Neuk of Fife. It's
mainly small fishing villages and we have an income from

As soon as preliminary tests on the dead swan confirmed it
had been carrying the H5 strain of the virus the UK's Chief
Veterinary Officer, Debby Reynolds, immediately called an
end to Exercise Hawthorn, a country-wide exercise for avian
flu, which started on Wednesday and was expected to
continue today (Thursday). "I brought to an end the
national avian influenza exercise to ensure that we can
bring all our resources to bear on this situation," she
said last night.

"We are already in a high state of readiness and I have
every confidence that officials north and south of the
border will work together to manage this incident

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, in whose
constituency the bird was found, said he would follow the
situation "very closely". He said: "I have spoken directly
to the minister, Ben Bradshaw, and I have his assurance
that all necessary steps will be taken and that there is no
health risk to humans."

Shadow rural affairs secretary Peter Ainsworth said: "This
is a potentially serious development. Even though the
circumstances in this case look unusual, the arrival of
bird flu in the UK is not entirely unexpected.

Tests were still being carried out on the bird at the EU's
bird flu laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey and final results
are not expected until later today.

However, a spokesman for the Scottish Executive said if the
strain was confirmed as H5N1 there may be further
restrictions put in place, such as housing and movement

"While highly pathogenic avian influenza has been found,
the full type is not yet known at this stage," he said.

"There is no reason for public health concern.

"Avian influenza is a disease of birds and while it can
pass very rarely and with difficulty to humans this
requires extremely close contact with infected birds,
particularly faeces."

So far, the H5NI strain of the virus has been said to have
killed more than 100 people worldwide - mostly those who
were directly involved in slaughtering or handling carcases
of infected poultry.

However, experts fear that if the strain were to mutate so
as to be able to pass from human to human then it could
cause a pandemic resulting in the deaths of millions of
people worldwide.

If confirmed as H5N1, it would make Britain the 13th
country to report an outbreak of the virus - Denmark
reported a case last month.

"Over the past few weeks we've seen swans and other birds
dying in Western Europe and being found to have this virus,
H5N1, on board so, it's quite to be expected you have a
case appearing in Scotland," said Dr David Nabarro, the UN
bird flu co-ordinator.

Deadly flu's journey to Britain

1997 First case of H5N1 detected in a human in Hong Kong.
The virus affects 18 patients, with six deaths. Within
three days, every chicken is culled

DECEMBER 2003 South Korea announces a highly contagious
strain of bird flu has infected a chicken farm near Seoul

JANUARY 2004 Eight people in Thailand and Vietnam die of

MARCH 2004 In south-east Asia, 34 cases of the disease are
confirmed in humans, 23 die

AUGUST 2004 H5N1 infects pigs in China. Three more deaths
from the virus are announced in Vietnam

SEPTEMBER 2004 Thailand announces suspected case of bird
flu passing between humans

DECEMBER 2004 Death toll in Vietnam and Thailand reaches 32

JULY 2005 Outbreak in Kazakhstan marks the first outside
South-East Asia. First case in Indonesia found in an 8-
year-old girl. Russia confirms outbreak

8 OCTOBER Turkey finds first case of bird flu

10 OCTOBER Brussels bans imports of poultry and feathers
from Turkey to the EU after 1,870 birds die

16 OCTOBER Three ducks found dead in the Romanian Danube

21 OCTOBER Croatia confirms first suspected case in swans.
Parrot imported to Britain from Suriname diagnosed with
deadly H5N1 strain

25 OCTOBER Several birds quarantined in Britain died of
bird flu

5 JANUARY 2006 A 14-year-old boy dies of the H5N1 strain in
Turkey, the first death in Europe

16 JANUARY 12-year-old Turkish girl dies after showing
symptoms of the deadly H5N1 strain

12 FEBRUARY Tests confirm two swans found dead in Italy had

13 FEBRUARY A dead swan close to the Austrian border, near
Maribor, is killed by H5 strain

15 FEBRUARY 2006 Dead swans found off the Baltic Sea
confirmed with bird flu. Germany has its first outbreak of
H5 flu.

20 FEBRUARY H5N1 strain of bird flu is found in a wild duck
in France

1 MARCH The death of a cat in Germany from the virus raises
fears bird flu can be passed to humans

5 APRIL First case of H5N1 is confirmed in Germany. Dead
swan in Scotland confirmed to have H5 strain - the first
case in the UK. Scientists will announce today whether it
is the deadly H5N1 strain.


Irish Experts Monitoring Bird-Flu Developments In Britain

06/04/2006 - 08:35:06

The Irish authorities are monitoring developments in
Britain following the discovery of a suspected case of the
deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in Scotland.

British experts are currently examining samples taken from
a dead swan found earlier this week in Fife.

The swan has tested positive for the H5 strain of bird flu,
but it is not yet known if it is the deadly H5N1 sub-

The virus, which has killed more than 100 people worldwide
since late 2003, has already been found in several EU

Confirmation of an outbreak in Britain would put the Irish
Government under pressure to boost its emergency measures
to combat the illness.

So far, live poultry imports have been banned and limits
have been placed on the importation of pet birds from
outside the EU.

Poultry exhibitions and shows have also been banned, while
information leaflets have been published for farmers and
poultry workers and Minister for Health Mary Harney has
ordered 40,000 vaccines to be used in the event of an


Pandemic Would Rock Global Economy, Warn IMF Chiefs

By Andrea Clements
06 April 2006

A bird flu pandemic would trigger sharp asset-price falls,
a slump in tourism and trade, and lead to mass absenteeism
from work, according to a leading global financial

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also warned in a
report last month that some countries had still not drawn
up plans to cope with the "significant damage" to their
economies that a bird flu pandemic would cause.

The IMF said business continuity planning would become a
critical component in preventing a crisis in the financial

"However, in many countries, business continuity planning
has not yet addressed the specific risks arising from a
pandemic, particularly from possible high absenteeism," it

"Perhaps because an avian flu pandemic may appear to be a
low-probability event, many countries are only starting to
develop a comprehensive approach to this threat."

However, it said countries with experience of Sars, and
those with large, complex financial systems such as the UK,
were well-prepared.

IMF staff have started discussions with central banks,
regulators and financial institutions to find out how
prepared they are.

Last year the World Bank, the sister organisation to the
IMF, said an epidemic could wipe $$800bn (£460bn) off world
economic growth.

A Londonderry-born medical chief of a global bank recently
issued a stark warning to world business leaders to prepare
for the deadly bird flu virus.

Dr David Brown, corporate medical director of the Canadian
Imperial Bank of Commerce, spoke of the new global pandemic
threat at a conference in London.

Dr Brown, based in Toronto, was selected to speak after he
helped draw up a national strategy for the Sars virus
before it hit Canada.

Speaking to the Telegraph Dr Brown (52), said it was vital
businesses across the world were prepared to face the
onslaught of a new pandemic.

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