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May 30, 2006

McGuiness: No Evidence For Spy Story

News About Ireland & The Irish

UT 05/30/06
No Evidence For Spy Story: McGuinness
BB 05/30/06 Hain Challenges March Body Ruling
BB 05/30/06 NI Parties Move On Committee Plan
BT 05/30/06 DUP To Dodge Stormont Deadline
BT 05/30/06 The Assembly: Look Who's Talking
IN 05/30/06 Convictions Quashed
BB 05/30/06 Maze 'Masterplan' Being Launched
IT 05/30/06 EU Court: Ireland’s Sellafield Challenge Was Illegal
IT 05/30/06 Sellafield Ruling Disappointing But Expected - FG
RT 05/30/06 EU Court Scraps Air Data Transfer To US
BT 05/30/06 Opin: No Light Yet On The Assembly Horizon ...
IN 05/30/06 Opin: Exposing The Myths Of Power Sharing ‘Existence’
IN 05/30/06 Opin: Stormont 2-Step A Seedy Bid To Be Lord Of The Dance
BT 05/30/06 Opin: Government Must Respond To Spy Claim
BT 05/30/06 Opin: Shadowy World
IN 05/30/06 Opin: Sir Reg’s Remarks Signify A Sea Change
BT 05/30/06 'My Anger At Pal Being Left To Die On Everest'
IN 05/30/06 Actor Plans A Hooley At Home City Premiere


'No Evidence For Spy Story: McGuinness

Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness has said he was a "million
per cent" certain that no evidence could be produced to
support allegations that he was a British spy.

In his first public appearance since the allegations
surfaced in the Dublin-based tabloid newspaper Sunday
World, the Mid-Ulster MP described the claims that he
worked for MI6 as "hooey".

The former Stormont Education Minister also accused
elements within the Rev Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionist
Party of being behind the allegations against him.

Mr McGuinness said after a meeting of his Assembly group:
"I am a thousand, I am a million percent confident no one
will ever produce anything against me.

"I have worked all of my adult life as an Irish republican.

"Many of my comrades have been killed. Many IRA volunteers
have been killed and I, of course, knew many of them as
many of you well know.

"Under no circumstances will I ever be concerned about
anybody throwing anything up at me which will strike
against me.

"It is not even a remote possibility."

Sinn Fein has rubbished Mr Ingram`s claims, which are based
on a transcript published on Sunday of a conversation
allegedly between Mr McGuinness and an MI6 handler.

Mr McGuinness said today: "The allegations are a load of

"They are total and absolute nonsense and they are hooey of
the worst kind.

"Now you would need to have nerves of steel to be part of a
Sinn Fein leadership which has had to take the sort of muck
and abuse thrown at us over the course of many years, but
we are in positions of leadership.

"If you don`t like the heat, you get out of the kitchen.

"We have never jumped out of the kitchen. We will stay in
this process to the bitter end.

"We are not going to be distracted. We are not going to be
deflected and ultimately we are going to work through and I
think our people have a very real sense that that is the

Sinn Fein`s chief negotiator said it had been known for
some time that elements within the Democratic Unionist
Party were behind trying to spread claims that he was
working for British intelligence.

"I have to say given all that we went through in 2004, it
was quite clear then that there were elements within the
DUP who were out to sabotage any prospect of an agreement
between Sinn Fein and the DUP," he said.

"It`s like deja vu all over again.

"Here we are at a very critical stage of the process and
elements of the DUP are doing their damnedest to try and
undermine the prospect of trying to get these institutions

"We in Sinn Fein are not going to be distracted by any of

The DUP's Gregory Campbell said his party had nothing to
gain from the claims against Mr McGuinness.

He said his party was opposed to the republican movement as
a result of its "illegal and criminal" activities and
whether or not senior members were agents was irrelevant.


Hain Challenges March Body Ruling

The government is to appeal against a High Court ruling
that its appointment of two members of the Orange Order to
the Parades Commission was unlawful.

Earlier in May, a judge said NI Secretary Peter Hain failed
to ensure the commission make-up represented both sides of
the community.

The court said the appointment of David Burrows and Don
MacKay did not ensure the body represented both

Mr Hain's appeal is due to be heard on Tuesday.

On 19 May, the High Court ruled that the appointments did
not ensure membership of the body represented both sides of
the community.

The case was brought to court by Joe Duffy, a resident of
the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown, who sought to
overturn the appointment of Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay.

Orange Order

Both Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay were members of the Portadown
Lodge of the Orange Order which has been at the centre of
the decade-long dispute surrounding what has become known
as the Drumcree parade.

Mr MacKay resigned from the commission earlier this month
after it emerged he had listed DUP MP David Simpson and
SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly as referees on his
application form without asking their permission.

The Parades Commission was set up by the government in 1997
to make decisions on whether controversial parades should
be restricted.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/30 07:42:45 GMT


NI Parties Move On Committee Plan

Northern Ireland's political parties are due to tell the
government whether they intend to join a new Stormont

It will be in charge of preparing a return to devolved

The 14-strong Preparation for Government committee is to
hold its first meeting next week.

NI Secretary Peter Hain has invited the four main parties
to each send three representatives, whilst the Alliance has
been given two places.

The first meeting is pencilled in for next Tuesday.

It will be chaired by the Northern Ireland Assembly speaker
Eileen Bell.

Some parties, like Sinn Fein, intend to hold assembly group
meetings at Stormont on Tuesday before clarifying whether
they will attend, but BBC Northern Ireland's political
editor Mark Devenport said, at this stage, it seemed that
no party would boycott the committee.

However, the DUP has insisted that the committee should not
be a negotiating body, whilst the SDLP wants it to do
precisely that.

No debates have been scheduled for the assembly on Tuesday.

On 15 May, Northern Ireland's politicians took their seats
in the Stormont assembly for the first time since October

While there is no immediate prospect of a power-sharing
executive being formed, the government hopes recalling the
politicians will help to pave the way towards a deal in the
autumn, by its deadline of 24 November.

Devolved government was suspended over allegations of a
republican spy ring. The court case that followed

Direct rule from London was restored in October 2002 and
has been in place since.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/30 06:05:59 GMT


DUP To Dodge Stormont Deadline

By Noel McAdam
30 May 2006

The DUP today appeared set to side-step Secretary of State
Peter Hain's deadline for agreement on a special Stormont
devolution committee.

Instead, party officers will meet later this week to take a
final decision over participation on the committee which is
to focus on identifying the remaining obstacles to the
restoration of devolved government.

It appears likely, however, that the DUP will agree to join
the committee which is due to hold its first meeting next

The Sinn Fein Assembly group was also meeting today to
debate its strategy in relation to the committee after
chief negotiator Martin McGuinness accused the DUP of
creating a "tremendous amount of confusion".

The DUP has set its face against the special committee
conducting detailed negotiations, while the SDLP insists
that should be its primary purpose.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey said, however,
the committee could prevent the DUP from "running away from
the substantive work that needs to be done in identifying
the blockages" to devolution.

The Assembly business committee, on which all parties are
represented, was today due to discuss the 'nuts and bolts'
of how the committee might work.

The four main parties, also including the SDLP and Ulster
Unionists, are entitled to three seats each and the
Alliance Party to two.

The Northern Ireland Office today confirmed that Assembly
speaker Eileen Bell is due to chair at least the first
meeting of the committee.

But it remains unclear whether the Assembly, which has not
met this week, will have business to conduct next Monday or

And with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern expected to return to Northern Ireland in late June -
the current most likely date is around June 26/27 - it is
not known precisely when the Assembly will begin its summer


Look Who's Talking

By Laurence White
30 May 2006

Formidable but fair, Bell may raise some hackles

Name: Eileen Bell (Speaker)
Born: Dromara 15/08/43
Educated: University of Ulster BA (Hons) History and

- Civil Servant to 1968 and 1971-73
- Personnel officer Marks & Spencer 1974-78
- General Secretary and Deputy Leader Alliance Party
- Member of North Down Council
- Member of NI Probation Board 1997-present

Given the inter-party tensions in the newly convened
Northern Ireland Assembly, Eileen Bell, the new Speaker, is
likely to have her hands full in keeping order in the
coming months.

But, according to those who know her well, it is a task for
which she is well suited.

One observer describes her as a "forceful" person "who,
whenever she thinks she is right, will let members know in
no uncertain terms."

Yet, the source says, she is well respected by most MLAs,
which should ease the task of keeping order.

She and her husband Derek - described as a "very hands on
operator" and "a bit of a character" - make a formidable

Although Derek, who is retired, has no official party role,
he acts as the unofficial "eyes and ears" of his wife and
is on first name terms with virtually every Assembly

Once source reckons that they will ruffle a few feathers in
her new role at Stormont.

But convent-educated Mrs Bell has faced far more serious
situations in the past. Twice she has been forced to move
home by paramilitary elements - from both sides of the
community - both because of her mixed marriage (her husband
is a Protestant) and her untiring work as a peace activist.

Born in Dromara, Co Down, 62 years ago, Mrs Bell has been
an active member of the Peace People and the Peace Train
movement which sought to heal the province's divisions.

Educated at Dominican College in Belfast and an honours
graduate in History and Politics from the University of
Ulster, she began her working life as a civil servant
before leaving in 1974 to work in the personnel department
of Marks & Spencer.

She served a four year period as general secretary of the
Alliance Party from 1986-90 and has twice been part of the
party's talks teams, for the Brooke-Mayhew talks in 1991-92
and the peace talks at Castle Buildings from 1996-98.

She was appointed deputy leader of the party in 2001 and
later ran against David Ford for the leadership after the
resignation of Sean Neeson. She lost by 86 votes to 45.

Her failure to inform Mr Ford that she was taking the job
of Speaker led to a rather frosty terse one-line comment
from him when her appointment was announced recently. Party
sources admit that he was angered by her "oversight".

She also managed to provoke the ire of one of her new
Deputy Speakers, Jim Wells, in 2001. Mrs Bell was a member
of the Assembly Commission - essentially the body's house-
keeping wing - and she recommended that a couple of bowls
of Easter Lilies should be placed in Parliament Buildings
in recognition of the nationalist tradition.

This led to angry unionists demanding the recall of the
Assembly for an emergency debate on the issue, during which
Mr Wells was one of the most critical voices against the
floral arrangement.

The DUP and Ulster Unionists passed a motion of censure but
it was thrown out because it did not get cross-community
(ie party) support.

In December last year she announced that she was stepping
down as deputy leader of Alliance and would not be
contesting the next Assembly election.

She denied that a split within the party over gay civil
partnerships was one of the main reasons for her decision,
saying that it was mostly for personal reasons. She
admitted that the row had been difficult.

"It has stressed me very much, because to me, Alliance is
the party of equality and human rights," she said.

In January 2005, in response to criticism by Ian Paisley
jnr of the DUP on the marriage of UUP activist Steven King
to his male partner, Mrs Bell said: "A recognised
partnership between gay people is as much an expression of
their commitment to each other as a marriage between a man
and woman. They are different kinds of partnership, but
within the context of a stable relationship, they are no
less important and deserve to be treated with respect, not

But the issue of civil partnerships caused divisions in the
Alliance Party later in the year. Alliance backed civil
partnerships, but its three Lisburn councillors disagreed
and said the council's wedding room should not be used for
such ceremonies.

Molloy: Old dog with new tricks

Name: Francie Molloy (Deputy Speaker)
Born: Derrymagowan, Dungannon 16/12/1950
Educated: St Patrick's Intermediate, Dungannon, Felden
Government Training Centre and UU/Newry Further Education
College (Foundation Studies)

- Worked as fitter/welder for Powerscreen
- Full time political activist since masterminding Bobby
Sands election victory in 1980
- Elected to Dungannon Council 1985. Mayor 2001/02 and
again currently
- MLA since 1998
- Vice President of NI Local Government Association 2001 to

Type Francie Molloy into Internet search engine Google and
you will find surprisingly little information about the
newly-appointed Deputy Speaker to the NI Assembly.

Suprising, because he is a long-time and influential member
of the republican movement, having joined the Republican
Clubs, the fore-runner of Sinn Fein, in 1967.

Mr Molloy was a steward on the original Civil Rights march
from Coalisland to Dungannon 38 years ago. It was organised
by the Campaign for Social Justice, NICRA and a number of
other groups, and was banned by the Stormont

He has been a full-time political activist since directing
the campaign which resulted in the election of hunger-
striker Bobby Sands in the Fermanagh-South Tyrone
Westminster constituency in 1980.

He was also part of the Sinn Fein peace talks team in the
mid to late 1990s, twice Mayor of Dunngannon and South
Tyrone Borough Council and twice an MLA for the Mid-Ulster

Yet, in spite of this deep involvement with republicanism,
the man himself remains something of a mystery to the wider

One person who knows him describes him as "an enigma". The
observer says there is no doubt he was an influential
figure in the republican movement, in the Tyrone area
especially in matters of discipline. He was a man whose
opinions, as oppposed to his actions, mattered.

Against this background, it was something of a shock that
last year he found himself disciplined by Sinn Fein for
speaking out against the party line on the reformation of
local government.

Sinn Fein welcomes the proposal to cut the number of
councils to seven, but Mr Molloy, as vice president of the
NI Local Government Association - the first Sinn Fein
member to hold the post - holds a contrary view.

Some observers even suggest that this run-in with the party
is why he was put forward for the post of Deputy Speaker at
the reconvened Assembly, the post being seen as something
of a gagging order.

But, in spite of his strong republican credentials, even
opponents say the 54-year-old former fitter/welder at the
Powerscreen plant in his native Dungannon is a man with
whom it is possible to do business.

One describes him as a man "of huge energy" adding wryly:
"If there was a hole in the road in the middle of nowhere,
you can be sure Francie will be there to look into it".

But on matters of ordinary council business, Mr Molloy is
regarded as someone who can easily cross traditional party
boundaries. "If it is an issue with which he is in
agreement he will back you. He is someone you can work
with," said one observer.

And he says that the post of Deputy Speaker will sit easily
on the shoulders of this bear of a man. He adds that Mr
Molloy enjoys the trappings of office - which some would
see as at odds with his background.

Married with two sons and two daughters, Mr Molloy served
his apprenticeship as a fitter/welder at Felden Government
Training Centre in Newtownabbey before his diversion into

Away from the world of political parties, Mr Molloy lists
his interests as watercolour painting and organic farming.

'Green' man in DUP ranks

Name: Jim Wells (Deputy Speaker)
Born: Lurgan 27/04/57
Educated: Queen's University BA (Hons) Geography 1979.
Diploma in Town and Country Planning 1981.

- Assistant regional public affairs manager, National Trust
- Member of Down District Council
- MLA since 1998
- Assistant Secretary and Secretary of DUP

A committed vegetarian, Jim Wells laughingly describes
himself as "leader of the DUP's 'green' wing". It is, he
says, a lonely life as he is also chairman, secretary and

His 'green' credentials go further than his culinary
preferences. He has worked for the Royal Society for the
Protection of Birds, the Association of Lough Neagh Users
and is an avid twitcher (bird watcher).

He is also chairman of the NI Raptor Study Group, which
logs the prevalence or otherwise of the province's birds of
prey, and earlier this year he hosted a briefing at
Stormont by the League Against Cruel Sports, which supports
the outlawing of hare coursing in Northern Ireland.

A qualified town planner, he graduated from Queen's
University in 1982 with an honours degree in Geography,
later gaining a Diploma in Town and Country Planning.

He is very much a country person listing hill walking,
nature conservation and animal welfare among his interests.

But, politically, the 49-year-old father of three, two
daughters and a son, is far from green. He is a member of
the three Loyal Orders and admits that his views on the
Republic of Ireland have been coloured by the experience of
relatives who left there.

His mother-in-law - he is married to Grace - was born in
the Republic from stock who lived in Cavan and Monaghan. In
an interview given to a Dublin magazine in 1985, he said
the family were discriminated against both covertly and
overtly, for example, finding it difficult to obtain
teaching jobs because they couldn't speak Irish.

He added: "Their civil liberties in the form of birth
control, divorce, that sort of thing, were controlled by a
Catholic-dominated state and many thousands of them were
forced to come up here and live in Northern Ireland."

At that time his antipathy towards the Republic ran deep:
"But could I say that even if the streets of Dublin were
paved with gold and even if Ian Paisley were allowed to
write the constitution, and if Dublin was a state flowing
with milk and honey and motorways and all the paraphernalia
of a western civilised society, we still would not be
interested," he said.

Never one to mince his words, he was one of the most
outspoken opponents of attempts to extend the UK's Abortion
Act 1967 to Northern Ireland. During a debate in June 2000
in the Assembly, Mr Wells said: "Since the 1967 Act became
law, 5.3m abortions have been carried out in Great Britain
- more than the populations of Northern Ireland and the
Irish Republic combined, and almost the same number as the
number of Jews who were murdered in Hitler's death camps."

But whatever one feels about his robust views, few will
dispute that the Moira man is a hard working MLA and
councillor. Indeed, he boasts of having the most extensive
network of constituency offices in the Down area he

He played a leading role in fighting to save Kilkeel-based
firm BAe Aerospace, which at one stage looked likely to
close. The company which makes aircraft seatings for many
of the world's leading airlines was kept open and recently
announced expansion plans after its American parent company
decided to concentrate assembly of the seats there at the
expense of a US plant.


Convictions Quashed

By Staff Reporter

A brother of Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness was one of
three Derry men who had their convictions for failing to
give an account of their movements to gardai after their
arrest near the border almost 16 years ago quashed

The Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the convictions of
William McGuinness,

Gary Fleming and Anthony Heaney almost 15 years after they
were found guilty of the offence under Section 52 of the
Offences Against the State Act.

Mr McGuinness (50), from Lecky Road, Derry, Mr Fleming
(38), from Strabane Old Road, Derry and Mr Heaney (50), of
Castledawson, Co Derry, were each jailed for six months by
the Special Criminal Court in June 1991. They had been
convicted of failing to give an account of their movements
to gardai as required under Section 52 on October 24 1990.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said that the court was ruling
on the very narrow factual basis of the case and was not
making any assertions about the legislation or any other
legal issue.


Maze 'Masterplan' Being Launched

A plan for the development of the former Maze Prison site
is to be officially launched by the government.

It is also expected to launch a competition for the 42,000-
seater stadium it hopes to build at the site near Lisburn
in County Antrim.

The stadium is the main element of the plan but it also
proposes retaining part of the prison for an international
centre for conflict transformation.

However, a final decision on the plans could still be 18
months ahead.

The BBC obtained a leaked copy of the "masterplan" four
months ago.

BBC NI political correspondent Gareth Gordon said the fact
that its publication has been delayed for so long is a sign
of problems which could yet derail the project.

NIO minister David Hanson will launch the plan and it will
be attended by representatives from football, rugby and the
GAA, the sports which will use the stadium and are also
part of the steering group for the development.

The four main parties are also expected to be represented.

As well as outdoor stadium the plan also features an indoor
stadium, a hotel equestrian arena and land for housing and

However, in the end the plan could all come down to money.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/30 07:06:58 GMT


EU Court: Ireland’s Sellafield Challenge Was Illegal

30/05/2006 - 10:16:20

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Ireland
breached EU law by taking Britain before a United Nations
tribunal in relation to the Sellafield nuclear plant.

The Irish Government took an action under the UN Convention
on the Law of the Sea in 2001 in an effort to have the
controversial facility shut down.

The body later issued recommendations to resolve the
dispute, but the European Commission took Ireland to court,
claiming it had breached EU law by turning to an outside

The Court of Justice upheld this stance today, saying
Ireland should settle the dispute with Britain within the
framework of the EU.


Sellafield Ruling Disappointing But Expected - FG

Reaction: Ireland must redouble its efforts to close down
the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria, Fine Gael said

The party's environment spokesman, Fergus O'Dowd, said this
morning's European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling was
"disappointing but expected".

The ECJ found that Ireland broke European Union law by
taking a case to a United Nations tribunal in an effort to
get Britain to close the plant.

"Sellafield is too dangerous, too damaging and too near,"
the Louth TD said. "Today's ruling is disappointing but not
unexpected and Ireland must now redouble its efforts in the
fight against the plant.

"Due to the current and potential health and environmental
impacts Sellafield has on our country, I support the use of
any means necessary to ensure it is shut down," he added.

"Considering that lethal Mox fuel continues to be
transported through the Irish Sea, and that the Irish
Government does not inform the Irish people of these
transports, it is manifestly in the national interest that
the plant is wound down as soon as possible."

But the European Commission office in Dublin welcomed ECJ

Martin Territt, director of the European Commission
Representation here, said: "The Court has cleared up an
important legal point that member states, including
Ireland, must use the EU's legal framework to settle

"Ireland can now bring any complaint it has to the
commission in line with the treaties."

© The Irish Times/


EU Court Scraps Air Data Transfer To US

30 May 2006 11:16

European airlines have been told they cannot hand over
details of passengers flying into the United States to US

Last year EU governments came in for much criticism from
privacy and civil liberties lobbyists when it was agreed to
approve the data transfers.

The European Court of Justice has now ruled the decision
was made on the wrong legal basis.


Opin: No Light Yet On The Assembly Horizon ...

By Barry White
30 May 2006

Forget about what others want for us; are we mature enough,
as voters and politicians, for power-sharing devolution?

That is the question that continues to haunt us, as many
governments try to push us towards an accommodation of
difference, and the vibes are anything but good.

It's no use just watching the posturing on TV, so I decided
to take the temperature at Stormont, where the British
government's threats are aimed.

My thoughts were that if the MLAs wanted to keep their jobs
badly enough, or were under enough pressure from their
constituents, they might try self-government one more time.

I know we're in the early stages of a six-month negotiating
process, when the confrontational parties for whom we voted
are still setting out their stalls. But already they're
painting themselves into corners, asking for the impossible
and antagonising each other in the ways they know best.

In the Stormont hall, where I watched a civil rights sit-in
begin the demolition of the old unionist-dominated Commons
in the 1970s, all the old cliches were paraded.

Gerry Adams regretted that his nomination of Ian Paisley as
first minister had been turned down, as he knew it would
be; Ian refused to acknowledge that anything had happened,
last year, to soften his attitude to "IRA-Sinn Fein".

I had the temerity to ask if the DUP had not been
influenced by the April report of the Independent
Monitoring Committee, which said the IRA was moving in the
right direction, committed to a political path.

Wasn't progress being made?

Naive me. The DUP has extracted every negative-sounding
word from the document, of which there are few, and ignored
the positive majority.

While others have noted the IMC's "absolutely clear view"
that the IRA leadership is committed to a peaceful path,
and "further dismantling" of its military structure, the
DUP sees its continued intelligence gathering
"predominantly to support the political strategy",
authorised and involving senior members.

The most serious charges, in the April report, are that
"some senior members were also involved in money laundering
and other crime", and that, although the IRA did not
sanction violence, it did secure the "departure" of people
involved in west Belfast disputes.

Not exactly a clean bill of health, but an on-going
convalescence, one might say.

But politicians, I accept, cannot make concessions to
opponents at this stage of the game. They have to get hot
under the collar when talking about them, and Paisley was
right back in 1960s mode.

Was it significant that he saw no light on the horizon, or
was it just for show?

It's hard to say, for there were plenty in the party who
played down its importance - "What else did you expect?"
they told me - but I'd be surprised if he learns to
somersault by next November.

We all remember, or should, how he told us in December
2004, pre-bank heist, that he might have to swallow hard
and even bite his lip, but if republicans ended terror,
crime and decommissioned, he was prepared to work with

On decommissioning, the government was too optimistic and
it all fell apart - but it was a close-run thing.

Now we're into another round of pre-negotiations, and the
DUP's terms are understandably much higher.

They must have absolute certainty that Sinn Fein's links
with the IRA won't let them down and that full support for
the PSNI will be forthcoming.

There's the rub. If you can see the continued existence of
the IRA not affecting Sinn Fein's democratic credibility or
the DUP trusting republicans enough to give them any
control over the police, I can't, for the forseeable
future. Pressure on the IRA ended its war, so there will be
no let-up until ... well, can you see when the DUP would be
satisfied? Peter Robinson maybe, Paisley never - or, at
least, not until another election test.

Peter Hain's answer to it all - more defensible than his
selections for the Parades Commission, the Policing Board
and Victims' Commissioner - is to propose a Preparation for
Government Committee. (Note the name: it could be the
unionists' talking shop, far removed from negotiations, or
the nationalists' hard-bargaining forum.)

Whether or not the four parties participate, they will have
their eyes fixed on the intervention of Blair and Ahern, as
always. Unionists, needing far more evidence that Sinn Fein
are fit for power-sharing, want to delay, while
nationalists demand early action, fearing indefinite
postponements of the Good Friday institutions.

If you were the two premiers, what on earth would you do?
Nothing conclusive can happen before November, but then I'd
close down the Assembly, accepting the sad fact that
parties with opposing constitutional aims can't run
Northern Ireland, and re-start low-level north-south co-
operation, waiting for demographics, economics and anno
domini to provide a new way forward.


Opin: Exposing The Myths Of Power Sharing ‘Existence’

Patrick Murphy

Is power-sharing an impractical form of government or is
Northern Ireland just ungovernable from within? Recent
events at Stormont would suggest that both may now be the

There are three myths about power sharing. The first is
that it already exists in local councils. This is untrue.
What exists is the rotation of the posts of chair of the
council and its various committees. This is a noble gesture
but it does not influence the balance of power. It is no
more than polite majority rule. Where it does not exist,
there is impolite majority rule – and whereas politeness is
always welcome, it is not the same as power-sharing.

The second is that it is just another form of coalition, no
different, for example, from the Fianna Fail-PD coalition
in Dublin. Again this is untrue. A coalition is a temporary

Power-sharing, as envisaged here, is not temporary: it is
an ever-lasting constitutional arrangement, without which
the assembly fails to exist.

A coalition government is challenged by an opposition.
Under power-sharing, almost everyone is in a government
party (even David Ervine) and there is no formal opposition
party. Thus opposition to a specific government policy can
come only from within that same government. It may be
democracy but not as the rest of the world understands the

The third myth is that power sharing worked in the last
assembly. It did not. Take a simple example. When Martin
McGuinness abolished the 11-plus examination, it was clear
that his decision would have significant implications for
higher education since it is mainly those who pass the 11-
plus who go to university. But it appears that he did not
consult, for example, the SDLP’s Sean Farren, the then
minister responsible for higher education. Certainly there
was no evidence that

higher education would be reviewed in the light of what
McGuinness decided.

McGuinness had the right to act as he did (and he showed
great courage in doing so) but his actions suggest that all
10 ministers had the right to act independently. That is
not power sharing. That is the partitioning of power, which
is a different process, whereby religious rivalry across
the sectarian divide is surpassed only by party political,
internecine strife within each sectarian camp.

This is not merely the lack of joined-up government. It is
a fundamental flaw, which arises because one party (Sinn
Fein) believes that the assembly is merely an interim step
to the abolition of the state, while two others (UUP and
DUP) believe that it represents a guarantee of the state’s
infinite existence. Thus one wants power to destroy the
state, the others want power to preserve it.

Hence the key question: can parties share power if they
have totally opposite views on the purpose of that power?
It would appear at best impractical and at worst impossible
– which is why this state may be ungovernable from within.

Thus Scottish first minister Jack McConnell’s comparison
with the Scottish parliament was inaccurate. There is no
political grouping in Scotland telling its electorate that
the parliament there is merely a stop-gap measure prior to
breaking the union with England. He claimed that, like the
Scottish parliament, Stormont could tackle sectarianism.

But he failed to recognise that the nationalist parties
have now followed the lead of many unionists in claiming
that civil rights are sectarian rights. Whereas the civil
rights movement fought for the rights of all people as
human beings, the major political parties now advocate
rights for their own clan against all others. It is the
fallacy on which the Good Friday Agreement is founded.

The problem is reflected in our assembly’s hypocrisy. On
their first day back members stood for a minute’s silence
for Michael McIlveen. He was a victim of sectarian tensions
between those who wear Celtic shirts and those who wear
Rangers shirts (while sporting the name of the same brewery
on both).

Members then signed in and, under the rules of the
assembly, they were required to register, not by political
party but by their soccer shirts – nationalist, unionist or
other. Like all hypocrisy, it was both galling and sad.

The British government has now officially recognised the
partitioning of power by establishing seven new district
councils, which will move us from local government to local
ghettoes. Having misinterpreted our history, the Good
Friday Agreement is now seeking refuge in our geography.

In the meantime events at Stormont continue. In terms of
normal politics they appear to represent little more than
the incompetent in pursuit of the impossible.

• James Kelly is away.


Opin: Stormont Two-Step A Seedy Bid To Be Lord Of The Dance

By Tom Kelly

The great fraud of Ulster rolls on at Stormont and
Westminster, unabated by the scepticism of the masses, who
are unduped by political shenanigans worthy of Lanigan’s
Ball. As Sinn Fein steps out, the SDLP steps in and as the
UUP steps in, the DUP steps out, and so on it goes.

The UUP leadership appear undaunted by the callous whispers
circling the dance hall about their choice of partner, who
has more than a shade of night about him.

The SDLP are on a flight of fancy, eyeing up prospects with
anyone game enough for a whirl in Hain’s Ballroom of

Sinn Fein are reminiscent of the coy old Tyrone bachelors
who treat provincial nightclubs like the local cattle mart,
who dressed as if for or first Mass on Sunday morning with
orange juice in hand and predatory eyes weighing up the
benefits of succession with those thought to have the best
child-raising hips.

Hain’s glitter ball fails to lure the dour Free
Presbyterians of the DUP who want an assurance that there
will be no line-dancing or same-sex dance partnerships at
any future gigs. Only the glamorous speaker of the would-be
assembly of Northern Ireland seems up for a quick foxtrot
in the arms of the Strictly Come Now or Pay for it Later
secretary of state.

In the meantime, and as the late May sun taunts students
everywhere, here are some multiple-choice questions to put
to any MLAs you are lucky enough to spot working before
they head off to their holiday homes in Donegal, Spain and
the south of France.

1 If there is no agreement by November 2006, do you agree
the assembly should be closed down?
a) Yes but only after several years of long thoughtful
discussion. b) No. c) Four years of suspension is too early
to make a call on its future.

2 Have we too many ministries for such a small place?
a) Yes but it’s the other parties who are insisting on
them. b) No. c) It’s not about size or service, it’s about
creating jobs.

3 Do you think anyone could do your job better than you?
a) Yes. Anyone who can cope with tedious amounts of
boredom. b) No. c) Sam Beckett.

4 When will Ian Paisley go into government with Sinn Fein?
a) Never. b) Never. c) Never.

5 Do you believe in dual and a triple mandate with MLAs
being councillors or MPs?
a) Only if it effects the opposition.
b) Only if I am given a ministerial post.
c) I don’t see a conflict.

6 Name three things all parties agree on.
a) Are you serious? b) Being paid.
c) Hating journalists.

7 Do you think the media portray your political positions
a) Only when they agree with us. b) Never.
c) They just don’t understand us.

8 Where is your favourite holiday destination?
a) Stormont. b) Westminster.
c) Leeds Castle.

9 Which organisation is consistently the most trust worthy
for political information? a) An Phoblacht. b) MI5. c) The
Protestant Telegraph.

10 How many women MLAs are there in the Northern Ireland
a) Too many. b) Too few. c) We don’t believe in affirmative

11 Will we be paying increased rates or water charges if
the assembly is restored? a) We are against such charges.
b) We did not bring these charges in.
c) what was the question again?

12 How many jobs and in how many regions does Peter Hain
a) None. b) Three but they are all part-time. c) Peter who?

If an MLA answers mostly As he or she is a thoughtful and
considerate politician who tries to be fair but is brought
down by the relentless cynicism surrounding politics in
Northern Ireland. If they answer mostly Bs they are
responsible for most of the cynicism surrounding Northern
Ireland politics.

If the elected representative answers mostly Cs they are
the political veterans of the cut-throat world of Northern
Irish politics, where if you are a politician the hand of
history is always waiting to give you a smack in the gob.
These are the Rocky Marciano’s of Northern politics where a
comeback is never far away because they never go away.

Back in Hain’s Ballroom of Romance, the finalists are being
selected for a quickstep but no-one can agree the music.

D Ream worked for New Labour but I would not bet on it
working for a new north!


Opin: Government Must Respond To Spy Claim

30 May 2006

If the claim that Martin McGuinness was a British agent is
true, the recent history of Northern Ireland would have to
be re-written and heads would have to roll. If it is not -
and no one in the know has corroborated a Sunday newspaper
story - it has been planted for some reason that can only
be guessed at, but has widespread political implications.

All is speculation, for the source of this sensational
development is one man, codenamed Martin Ingram, who
himself ran agents as a member of the Army's Force Research
Unit. He has produced a coded document which he claims is
an account of a conversation between McGuinness and his
handler in MI6, Britain's overseas intelligence agency.

The allegation that Sinn Fein's chief negotiator and Mid-
Ulster MP was a British agent is so astonishing that it
would be given little or no credence but for Ingram's
record. It was he who named Freddie Scapatticci, the head
of the IRA's unit for investigating alleged informers - the
so-called "nutting squad" - and was proved correct, despite

Scapatticci, otherwise known as "Stakeknife", is no longer
a player and Denis Donaldson, another informer, is dead,
but McGuinness is at The Heart Of The Deliberations About
the return of devolution. If there were any truth in
Ingram's claims, the republican movement would be thrown
into chaos and the government's plans for a restored
Assembly would collapse. The leadership of Sinn Fein would
be discredited and the deadline for devolution, of November
24, would have to be abandoned.

Sinn Fein have dismissed the claims as "rubbish", but
cannot ignore the fact that they have been given wide
circulation and have, initially at least, shocked their
supporters and intrigued their opponents. They have also
helped to resurrect much of the detail about McGuinness's
past, with added claims that he was the chief of the IRA
during its bloodiest years, 1978-82, and would have
responsibility for scores of murders at home and abroad.
His credibility, as a politician, has again been

Apart from these claims, Ingram's document introduces the
horrifying proposition that MI6 was behind a "human bomb"
incident in 1990, which cost the lives of five British
soldiers and Patsy Gillespie, whose van was wired to blow
up. The idea that MI 6 would sacrifice six lives to cause a
backlash against the IRA is unbelievable, although
conspiracy theorists may think differently. What the public
needs now is a detailed response from the government,
answering the points that Ingram's claims have raised. If
doubts remain, the dangerous cause of republican dissidents
will benefit, and the road to peace and democracy will be
seriously undermined.


Opin: Shadowy World

By Gail Walker
30 May 2006

Can it really have come as a surprise to the republican
movement that the MI6 agent operating at a high-level in
their ranks has been named as Martin McGuinness?

I don't think so.

After all, those creatures known for years as the
republicans' best friends - the dogs in the street - have
heard that rumour circulating for some time.

The fact it has now come into the open will have actually
come as a relief.

The man once described by Alan Partridge as "a clown
without the make-up on", but who was never by any stretch
of the imagination a clown, now appears even less amusing.

Everyone knew there was a high-ranking spy. It was
accepted. It was intimated at the time of the late Denis
Donaldson's unmasking that he had been sacrificed by his
securocrat handlers to protect the real Deep Throat - just
as Freddie Scappaticci had been outed earlier.

Now it can at least be dealt with in the traditional way:
Deny. Deny. Deny.

(Though I hardly think Martin will be paraded by Gerry
Adams in front of TV crews with a solicitor to rubbish the
allegations. Been there before, with Freddie, and it didn't

But the Brits can always be accused of 'dirty tricks' (with
some justification, it must be said) - dark forces in
British intelligence attempting to de-rail the Peace
Process, sullying the good name of a Hero of the
Revolution, trying to split the Movement. Or 'movements'.

Problem is, all the arguments SF have mustered over the
years to protect McGuinness from the accusation that he was
a member of the IRA only appear to fuel the suspicion now
that he was a double agent.

The security forces never had evidence that he was even a
member of the IRA. He never did time for membership in
Northern Ireland. Was never formally connected with any
murder, bombing, kidnap, robbery, or anything more serious
than scowling.

Clean as a whistle, in fact.

How could that be? Especially when everyone knew exactly
how lofty his position was within the paramilitary group.

Republicans have made much of alleged collusion between the
security forces and loyalist murderers. But they have been
less sprightly when it comes to exposing collusion between
the security forces and their very own republican

In all the agonising about Scappaticci, Donaldson and now
McGuinness, republicans seem reluctant to accept that many
of those dreadful, vicious massacres which were meant to be
absolutely necessary to free Ireland may have been managed
by MI5.

And that Sinn Féin's electoral success was bought at the
price of selling out - in some cases, killing - IRA
comrades, practically one by one.

Whatever the reality, there's no going back now from the
implications of the weekend's allegations.

Even five years ago, such suspicions about McGuinness would
have been laughed out of the newsrooms of Ireland, let
alone out of the front rooms of SF voters.

But not now. Not after the long list of confirmed informers
and agents and the roster of horrible murders - including
those of IRA men by IRA men - carried out simply to cover
the backsides of those higher up.

No doubt further allegations will be made. And there will
be further denials, ever more frantic and more
unbelievable. Because this time, with Martin, it's the End
Game. It would really mean that everything was for nothing.

Everything. And everything has been a lie.


If these suspicions about one of the two main men in charge
of SF for 20 years take root in republicanism, then it
really is Game Over.

For good.


Opin: Sir Reg’s Remarks Signify A Sea Change

The Tuesday Column
By Breidge Gadd

HOWARD Zehr, Mennonite and international Guru of conflict
resolution, claims that it takes the same length of time to
resolve conflict completely as the conflict itself lasted
in the first place. Therefore, given that our last vicious
bout lasted 30 years and given that the first stirrings of
ceasefires were roughly 15 years ago, by his reckoning we
are about half way through a peace process. Howard also
acknowledges that along the long path of peace certain
words or actions can create breakthroughs which significantly
propel peace-making forward into quite a new phase.

I believe there were such breakthroughs last week. The
first was Sir Reg Empey’s acknowledgment on a local TV
programme that loyalist paramilitaries were supported by
unionists at times down the years and that the unionist
population needed to face up to that reality. They now had
a responsibility to do something to bring those loyalist
paramilitaries who wanted to be contributing law-abiding
citizens back into the fold. He also said that he
personally regretted his involvement in Vanguard and in the
Ulster Workers’ strike.

Sir Reg’s comments were seminal because for the first time
we have a unionist politician acknowledging what for many
of us was always self-evident. He also, by his words, legitimised the
possibility that the unionist community could accept those
who previously have been involved in paramilitary activity
but are now prepared to live useful lives. Words said
cannot be unsaid and Sir Reg’s candid statements raise the
possibility of a new conversation that does not need to
apportion blame about the past but which, by acknowledging
collective responsibility, raises the possibility of
collective work towards a shared future

At the risk of being accused of naive superficiality I
admit to finding TV talk shows a good thermometer of the
public’s political attitudes. Question Time, for example,
pre-Iraq invasion, had an audience resolutely pro-Labour.
Currently it is robustly anti-Labour and seems to reflect
accurately the mind of the British public about the present

Let’s Talk was interesting not only for Sir Reg’s comments.
The audience reflected the changes in public attitudes here
too. Gone are the heated, often embarrassingly sectarian
debates; instead there is an articulate, progressive
audience – one which, incidentally, laughed outright when
Gregory Campbell said the DUP did not do business – ever –
with paramilitaries.

Yes, I think we are moving on and even our language is
changing. We are no longer immured in peace processes but
there is more talk now about how we can develop a shared
future which benefits all on this island.

The other significant event for me was when Francis Molloy,
mayor of Dungannon (at the opening of an indoor sports
pitch – one to be used by children of all backgrounds)
talked about the fact that Northern Ireland does not have a
shared past.

“Far from it,” he said, “but... that doesn’t mean that at
some time in the future we all shouldn’t celebrate major
historical events together – such as the Flight of the
Earls or the Plantation of Ulster”. Again, these words
signify the healing of wounds and the inherent
possibilities if we can come together to take control of
and responsibility for our future together.

Before the Good Friday Agreement was signed there was a
sense that people generally were ahead of the politicians
and that they wanted a deal so that they could get on with
their lives. A similar sort of impatience is in the air
these days, with civic society more than ready to move
forward, respecting the pain of victims of the Troubles but
not prepared to allow progress to be transfixed or
stultified by interminable wrangles about who was most at

Working on Howard Zehr’s timeline it will probably take
another 20 years for us to have a society freed from any
historical connection with paramilitarism. Nationalist
politicians and people have always shown themselves to be
prepared to give the redeemed ex-terrorist a new chance.
With Sir Reg signalling the same mindset, the DUP may well
become marginalised if it maintains an increasingly
indefensible ‘holier than thou’, uncompromising stance.


'My Anger At Pal Being Left To Die On Everest'

30 May 2006

An Ulster climber who scaled Everest in 2003 has told of
his anger after his friend and former climbing colleague
was left to die by up to 40 other mountaineers on the
world's highest peak.

English climber David Sharp lost his life on a solo bid to
reach the peak of Everest.

He had reached the summit by ascending the challenging
North Ridge and was on his way back down when he apparently
succumbed to oxygen deprivation.

Up to 40 other climbers made their way past the stricken
climber and, while some did pause to give him oxygen, he
was eventually left to die.

Richard Dougan, who led an expedition which included Mr
Sharp, said his 34-year-old friend was a strong climber who
had travelled in the 'dead zone' above 8,000 metres on a
number of occasions.

Mr Dougan said he met Mr Sharp on an expedition in Nepal in
2002 and the following year Mr Sharp was invited to join
the Northern Ireland Everest bid that saw Newry's Terence
'Banjo' Bannon reach the roof of the world with Jamie

Other team members - including Mr Sharp - came within 200
metres of the summit, but made the difficult decision not
to continue.

Mr Dougan said: "We turned back because our health was more
important than the mountain.

"People just don't understand that at that altitude it's an
unforgiving environment.

"David was suffering from frostbite so when we made the
decision it made sense."

Even though the pair decided not to continue, they knew
that physically and mentally they had been capable of
reaching the peak.

"It was always David's passion to say that he could stand
on the top," Mr Dougan said.

The English climber has made two attempts to climb Everest
without oxygen - a challenge achieved by few climbers - but
this year he brought oxygen supplies on his solo trek.

Mr Dougan said he and Banjo were shocked to hear of David's

"We were both devastated because you really get to know
people on these trips - the true personality really shines.

"When you are on an expedition your true character comes

"I am devastated that a number of people walked past David
because they didn't want to jeopardise their summit - that
was absolutely disgraceful. People have said that there is
nothing you can do at 8,000 metres - that is the part I am
very, very annoyed about.

"In 2003, an English climber broke his leg and still people
were able to help him get down off the mountain.

"The fact that those people could continue on without even
doing anything about it - that is what really gets me. A
lot of people walking past are supported by commercial
expeditions which are reliant on Sherpas."

Mr Dougan said he remembered the pair climbing past the
overhanging rock where David would later lose his life.

The crevice lies close to the main route and near the
remains of an Indian climber who died in 1997. "I can
remember clearly David and I coming across the Indian
climber for the first time. It sends a shiver down your
spine," he said.

"I'm sure everybody in the team would agree with me - he
was such a sound fellow, you couldn't say a bad word about
him. He was a very good team player."


Actor Plans A Hooley At Home City Premiere

By Staff Reporter

Irish actor Cillian Murphy has promised a hooley in Cork
for the Irish premiere of The Wind that Shakes the Barley,
winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film, which is set during the War of Independence and
the Civil War, is a story about the early days of the IRA
and follows a group of men who take up arms against British

It is set in Co Cork between 1920 and 1922 and has been
described as a stirring and sympathetic portrait of the
early days of the Irish Republican Army.

However, it has also caused controversy in Britain for its
graphic depiction of the brutality of British forces,
including the Black and Tans, during the War of

Directed by veteran film-maker Ken Loach and starring
Murphy and Liam Cunningham, it was shot in counties Cork
and Kerry last year with an almost entirely local cast.

It was the first time that British director Loach won the
prize at Cannes after seven previous nominations.

It was also the first major success for an Irish-made film
at the prestigeous festival.

Loach has said there are strong parallels between the
British occupation of Ireland and their presence in Iraq

Murphy, who also starred in Batman Begins and Neil Jordan’s
Breakfast on Pluto, said he was looking forward to the
film’s premiere in Cork on June 20.

“It was very special shooting down in Cork because I’m from
there. All these stories and this history is still very
much alive down there and the people where we shot were
just amazing. We’ll have a bit of a hooley on June 20,” he

“It’s just a tribute to Ken. The number of times he has
been selected for competition in Cannes is amazing. Just to
get selected is a big deal and then for him to win. We are
all thrilled.”

Murphy said that people were free to draw parallels from
the film, which he said were obvious.

“But for us, we just wanted to make a film as true as
possible to that era and commit to the characters as
honestly as possible. Hopefully if stories are universal,
people can take from it what they want,” he said.

The Irish Film Board, which backed the film, described
Loach as a master of cinema.

“It is a triumph for Ireland that he chose a key moment of
Irish history as the inspiration for one of his finest
films,” chief executive Simon Perry said.

The Republic’s arts minister, John O’Donoghue, described
the film as a tremendous production that powerfully portrays
the War of Independence and the Civil War.

“Ken Loach handles this difficult and painful period of our
history with characteristic genius and well deserves the
Palme d’Or for this masterpiece,” Mr O’Donoghue said.

He said the award meant that the national and international
success of the film was guaranteed.

“This is a terrific day for the Irish film industry and
will no doubt have a very positive impact for future
productions,” he said.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley will be released in Irish
cinemas on June 23.

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