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May 23, 2006

Paisley Causes Stir at Stormont

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 05/23/06
Paisley Causes Stir At Stormont
SF 05/23/06 Sinn Féin Comment On Release Of British Agent Ken Barrett
BN 05/23/06 SF & SDLP Angered By Hain’s Appeal On Commission Appntmnts
IN 05/23/06 SDLP: Human Rights Abusers Should Be Thrown Out Of Army
GU 05/23/06 Opin: The Reverend's Reason
IN 05/23/06 Opin: NIO Neglects Concepts Of Equality And Openness
IT 05/23/06 Chapter One Named Ireland's Best Restaurant
IT 05/23/06 Under-Age Sex Law 'Unconstitutional' - Supreme Court


Paisley Causes Stir At Stormont

By Martina Purdy
BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent

DUP leader Ian Paisley's news conference following the
failed attempt to nominate him as first minister caused
such a stir, it's still being talked about in the corridors
of Stormont.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness called it "bizarre" while
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey suggested the DUP was
a party at "sixes and sevens."

What caused the stir was Mr Paisley's insistence several
times that he wasn't going to sit down in a committee with
either Sinn Fein or the Ulster Unionist Party as both "had
links to paramilitaries". (The UUP recently formed a group
with the PUP at Stormont.)

Mr Paisley repeated the comment several times and towards
the end of the press conference, his deputy Peter Robinson
sought to clarify the matter by saying the party does
already sit in committees with these parties and the issue
is one of remit.

On Tuesday, at Stormont a DUP source repeated the line that
the DUP did not oppose the committee in principle but had
concerns about its remit.

This remark came as the Northern Ireland secretary
announced he intended to proceed with the committee, and
would make clear his proposals later this week.

But the plot thickened when the DUP issued the following
statement on Tuesday evening.

"If the government forms a committee with one person from
each party for the purpose of listing items and attempting
to resolve them in the framework of that committee that is
essentially negotiations and we will not be negotiating in
that framework."


This statement also caused a stir when it was noted that it
was at odds with comments Peter Robinson made on BBC Radio
Ulster's Inside Politics on 13 May, when questioned by BBC
political editor, Mark Devenport.

Mr Robinson said his party did support the idea of a
committee and added: "The secretary of state suggested it
in terms that are satisfactory to us.

"We believe that yes it is necessary for the assembly to
look at the issues which are an obstacle to devolution and
how they can be removed... if parties aren't prepared to
look at what the obstacles to devolution are and how they
may be removed then what one earth are they into an
assembly for and what on earth were they elected for?"

Behind the scenes a tug of war clearly is going on over the
committee as other parties make clear their views to Peter

Sinn Fein is pushing for party leaders to sit on this
committee and for it to have a meaningful role in terms of
restoring devolution.

It will be interesting to see how the DUP, Sinn Fein -
along with the other parties - and the secretary of state
work this one out.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/23 19:31:56 GMT


Sinn Féin Comment On Release Of British Agent Ken Barrett

Published: 23 May, 2006

Commenting on the release from prison today of British
Agent Ken Barrett the man convicted of the murder of Pat
Finucane, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice issues Gerry
Kelly said that the only way the truth can be uncovered
about the murder of Pat Finucane is through the sort of
independent inquiry demanded by the family.

Mr Kelly said:

"The Finucane family demand for the truth about the
circumstances surrounding the murder of Pat Finucane in
1989 was never satisfied with the conviction of British
Agent Ken Barrett. Indeed the British government used the
case of Ken Barrett to stall further the demand for a fully
independent, international inquiry into the entire
circumstances surrounding this killing.

"Nobody believes that the murder of Pat Finucane was
planned, organised and carried out by loyalists from the
Shankill acting alone. Ken Barrett was himself a self
confessed British Agent, so was William Stobie the man who
supplied the weapon, along with Brian Nelson the man who
supplied the intelligence. The UDA leader in West Belfast
at that time Tommy Lyttle was also a paid British agent.

"The case of Pat Finucane goes to the very heart of the
British State policy of collusion with unionist
paramilitaries. That is why successive British governments
have sought to conceal the truth by continuing to stall the
sort of investigation demanded by the Finucane family.

"Tony Blair made public commitments on this issue after
Weston Park. He has yet to deliver on them. Sinn Féín will
continue to support the Finucane family in their search for
the truth and we will continue to lobby the British
government to act on this issue." ENDS


Sinn Fein And SDLP Angered By Hain’s Appeal On Commission Appointments

23/05/2006 - 17:15:02

Both the SDLP and Sinn Féin have reacted angrily to news
that the Northern Secretary, Peter Hain, is to appeal a
judgement that he unlawfully put two Orangemen on the
Parades Commission.

Mr. Hain said he was extremely disappointed in the
judgement and believed the appointments had been impartial,
subjective and had followed all the rules.

With the height of the marching season approaching, the
Parades Commission is in disarray.

Belfast high court ruled Mr. Hain was wrong to appoint two
Orangemen and encourage nominations from the loyal orders
without contacting nationalist residents groups.

He's appealing that ruling, to Sinn Féin and the SDLP's

SDLP Policing Spokesperson Alex Attwood said that he had
been withering and the Commission should be off limits for
political fixes, party interests or partisan outcomes.

Sinn Féin assembly member John O’Dowd said Mr. Hain should
stop wasting public money on appeals and restoring public
confidence by appointing impartial commissioners.

Both parties said the British government should appoint two
new genuinely independent Commissioners to take the
difficult decisions ahead.


Sdlp: Durkan - Human Rights Abusers Should Be Thrown Out Of British Army

/Noticias.Info/ SDLP Leader Mark Durkan MP, MLA Is Today
pressing at Westminster for the Armed Forces Bill to be
amended so that anybody guilty of murder, rape or torture
is dismissed from the British Army.

Mr Durkan stated:

"The SDLP believes that those convicted of serious crimes
like murder, rape or torture should not be allowed to serve
in the Armed Forces.

"This is a matter of public confidence. People need to know
that those they pay will uphold the law. It is a matter of
public safety. The public should be protected by soldiers -
not petrified of them.

It is a matter of professional standards. The Army’s own
interest demands that soldiers adhere to basic rules. It is
also a question of respect for the rule of law. If the
courts find that somebody is fit for prison, they must be
unfit for service.

Above all, it is a question of respect for victims.

How would any victim feel who finds that the killers of his
or her loved one are thought good enough to serve in the
Armed Forces? What message does that send? How does that
devalue the life of the victim?

To give just one example. Jean McBride is a Belfast woman.
Her teenage son was killed by two soldiers, Guardsmen
Fisher and Wright, in 1992. They said that he had run away
from them. They took aim. From a distance of about 40
metres, they shot him in the back. He was not a
paramilitary. He was not armed. He presented no threat. He
had done nothing wrong.

At their trial, the judge found that the Guardsmen had lied
on oath. He found them guilty of murder.

No sooner were they convicted than a campaign - run from
the headquarters of their regiment - was started to get
them released.

And eventually they got early release. That was difficult
for Jean, but she accepted it in the context of the peace
process in which so many who had been convicted of
paramilitary crimes were given early release.

But what she could not accept - and should never have had
to accept - is that the two Guardsmen were kept on in the

That - more than anything - sent out a message that in the
Army’s view these men hadn’t really done anything wrong.

It was not just that this offended Jean. It devalued her
son’s life and disrespected his memory.

And the more she looked into it, the more keenly she felt
wronged. Because under Army regulations, soldiers convicted
of crimes must be discharged from the Army unless there are
“exceptional circumstances.”

What exceptional circumstance was there to justify the
retention of Guardsmen Fisher and Wright? What -
exceptionally - justified the murder of Peter McBride - and
it was found to be murder by a court of law?

Since Peter’s murder, over 2,000 soldiers have been
discharged from the British Army for offences right down to
smoking cannabis. One major was dismissed for cheating on
the gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Yet those convicted of the greatest crime of all - the
deliberate and unjustified taking of life - are allowed to

And let’s be clear - this is not a Northern Ireland issue.
It is an issue that affects us all.

The Blake report found a culture of bullying at Deepcut
barracks. Yet, how can you tackle such a culture if at the
same time you allow those who have murdered or raped to
stay in the Armed Forces? What kind of working culture is

Privately, some ministers will tell you that this is wrong.
But what can they do, they ask shrugging their shoulders.
The answer is simple. Support this amendment.

This is not a question of initiating witchhunts against
soldiers - who often work in the most difficult of
circumstances. That would be wrong.

It is simply to assert that when a person has been fairly
tried in a court of law and been found guilty of a serious
crime, that person should not be allowed to continue in the
Army. They should be free to work elsewhere if they like,
but not in the army or the police.

Public confidence and public safety demand it. Respect for
the rule of law and human dignity require it. I hope that
ministers will have the courage of their private
convictions to support it."


Opin: The Reverend's Reason

Henry McDonald on why Ian Paisley turned down Sinn Fein's
nomination for him to become Northern Ireland's first

Tuesday May 23, 2006

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader, Reverend Ian

There were two "nominations" in East Belfast yesterday, one
successful, the other not; one captured the Northern
Ireland public's imagination, the other left the population
cold and indifferent.

Wedged between the main dual carriageway out of the city
centre into the eastern suburbs and the Lough, Belfast City
airport officially became the George Best airport. The
change in nomenclature occurred on what would have been
Best's 60th birthday and was heralded with an unveiling
ceremony at the airport, the promise of a permanent
memorial to the soccer superstar there and later, a
reception at Belfast City hospital for family, friends and
former Northern Ireland colleagues of the player.

Re-naming Belfast's second and rapidly growing airport
after arguably Northern Ireland's most famous son was a
hugely popular move and one supported across the sectarian
divide. In death, as in life, Best had that unique ability
to appeal to all creeds and classes in the north of

Just a ten-minute drive from the George Best airport, on an
incline with a commanding view of the city, lies the
Stormont parliament. In this other famous east Belfast
institution there was a seemingly remarkable "nomination".
Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, a leading member
of the republican movement for nearly four decades and
mortal enemy of the Reverend Ian Paisley, nominated his old
adversary to become first minister of Northern Ireland.
Adams proposed Paisley as the north of Ireland's top
politician in the vain hope of a power-sharing government
being restored.

The reason Paisley, less bellowing or truculent than in the
past, turned down the offer with a firm "certainly not" is
that to accept would have made him as popular with the
unionist electorate as the flamboyant Shahbaz is currently
among the Big Brother 7 housemates. Paisley knows he is the
unassailable head of unionism today - a life long and for
decades frustrated ambition - because he hasn't been
willing to share power with Sinn Fein. The prospect of
going back into government with the IRA's political wing,
even when the IRA has gone out of business, is repellent
amongst that unionist constituency ... at least for now.

Yet after seven days of a shadow assembly there are perhaps
some sparks of hope amid the gloom of a dank and rainy May.
One of the dominating stories of the last week has been the
decision of the Ulster Unionist group to take David Ervine
into its assembly bloc. Ervine is the sole representative
of the Progressive Unionists, a party with strong links to
the loyalist terror group the Ulster Volunteer Force. The
UUP's reasoning was that by taking Ervine into their group
the party is now the second largest and thus can get three
ministerial seats as opposed to two for Sinn Fein. In fact,
the move has spectacularly backfired on the UUP. A stream
of Protestant victims of relatively recent UVF violence
have come forward in the media to denounce what they have
labelled as a piece of immoral opportunism. Senior UUP
figures and some external advisers concede the Ervine trick
has been a self-inflicted wound. If anything, the UUP's
disarray over the controversy strengthens Paisley's
Democratic Unionists even further.

In turn, the DUP in this situation no longer has to look
over its shoulder to its unionist rivals. If and when it
chooses to move closer towards restoring devolution, it
won't have to worry about criticism from the rival unionist

The DUP will none the less take its time shifting towards
restoration and sharing power in a government with Sinn
Fein. Tony Blair and Peter Hain's deadline of late November
will come and go. Paisley will play a longer game than the
luckless David Trimble. The DUP leader knows that some
nominations can result in ignominious exits. The
octogenarian housemate wants to remain in the "Big House"
on the hill until he takes the final prize.

· Henry McDonald is the Observer's Belfast correspondent


Opin: NIO Neglects Concepts Of Equality And Openness

By Breidge Gadd

“I sincerely apologise to the Northern Ireland public. In
what was an attempt to enable the resolution process of
disputed parades, I and my team of civil servants appointed
Messrs MacKay and Burrows to the Parades Commission. We
believed that bringing decisions closer to the people who
were affected by them would be helpful. For this reason,
the recruitment process was manipulated in order to appoint
the two Orangemen. I and my team alone (not nationalist nor
republican politicians, nor anyone else) must accept full
responsibility for the problems that have subsequently
occurred and the adverse publicity focused on the two men
in question. I apologise to them also.”

This is what one would have liked to have heard the
secretary of state say last week after the judicial review
ruling. But then politicians seldom say sorry, even when it
is obvious that the responsibility for the mess lies firmly
at their or their officials’ door. But let’s hope that
there might be still some around with the maturity and
humility to admit making mistakes, an essential
prerequisite for anyone hoping to mend bridges.

What is particularly dismaying, though, is that this
failure to acknowledge responsibility for actions colludes
with Mr MacKay’s accusations that his problems were created
solely by ill-willed republicans out to spoil any chance of
progress towards a more peaceful marching season. At this
volatile time when angry words can inflame hot-headed
violence from others, it is essential that someone in the
Northern Ireland Office, be it politician or official,
belatedly acknowledges that – even if their intentions were
good – they carry the blame for getting it wrong.

The notion of involving the communities most affected by
the marches in the process of problem solving is a good
one. It is not a new idea. Many skilled and patient people
from within and without Northern Ireland have been working
away quietly in this way for years – currently resulting in
much positive movement on the part of both residents and
marchers. That is why it has been possible for the new
Parades Commission to detect and encourage positive vibes
and even

measurable progress so far this year. It is not only
because of their interventions. It is because of
painstaking work and trust built up over many months that
key people were ready to take some small steps to try to
avoid another year of destructive violence.

It is difficult to understand what the NIO thought it was
doing. There were three huge weaknesses in what appears to
have been the strategy for the newly appointed commission.
Firstly, the Parades Commission is not a talking-shop. It
is a body appointed to take objective, independent
decisions on parading, especially on contested routes.
Those with vested interests in the matter, no matter how
positive their personal motivation and commitment, should
have no part in the decision making process. This
fundamental and non-negotiable principle has been promoted
by the government itself and is integral in the conduct of
business in all public bodies. While engaging the
protagonists in processes designed to enable mediation and
negotiation is laudable, it does, however, need a separate
process. One with people engaged who have the skill to
manage such elements and, most importantly, where there is
no contamination between the decision making body and the
mediating process. Separating the two distinct phases was
the keystone in the Quigley Report – a thoughtful and wise
analysis, which if it had been treated seriously would have
prevented the current mess.

The second major fault in the process was the lobbying of
certain groups, particularly the loyal order interests to
encourage applications and the failure to balance this with
a similar approach to concerned residents groups. Why this
wasn’t done is indeed inexplicable.

The third problem is not a small one. Few workers in the
public, voluntary or private sector are unaware of the
rules of equality and fairness inherent in every publicly
advertised appointment. There is also widespread respect
for the integrity of the processes: the need to determine
competencies; shortlist according to agreed and publicly
available criteria and the involvement of the selection
panel in all stages of the process. These standards form
the well-thumbed bible of recruitment staff. It is more
than anyone’s job is worth to flout these safeguards of
fairness that organisations such as the Equality Commission
and its predecessors have worked so hard to establish as
the essential components of proper appointments. It would
appear that in the appointments to the Parades Commission
all the rules were not followed. Indeed, Mr Justice Morgan
questioned whether the panel members properly understood
the nature of the task in which they were engaged. Yet the
process was quality proofed by an independent assessor
nominated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public
Appointments. There are more questions that need answered.

Whatever decisions are now taken regarding the Parades
Commission there is one obvious lesson that the NIO should
consider. The end does not justify the means. We have paid
dear here to internalise that lesson. Bending the rules no
matter how worthy the cause never works. Fairness,
equality, openness and transparency are now essential
elements of this society worked for by many and achieved
for all. Why does the NIO have such difficulty adhering to
these concepts?


Chapter One Named Ireland's Best Restaurant

Dublin's Chapter One has been named Ireland's best
restaurant and Eamonn O'Reilly of One Pico has been voted
best chef by the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

The winners in the seven different categories of the
Jacob's Creek Reserve Irish Restaurant Awards 2006 were
announced in Dublin this afternoon.

Restaurants are nominated by other restaurateurs. The
nominees voted are then assessed by the panel of critics
and catering professionals on the Irish Restaurant Awards

Chapter One, in Parnell Square, seats 85 people and is
possibly most famous for not having a Michelin star. Head
chef Ross Lewis told the Irish Times recently: "We're happy
with our standards and that we continue to do what we do,
which is to cook the best food for our customers. If they
want to reward us with a star at some stage in the future,
that would be great."

The best restaurant service award went to the Park Hotel,
Kenmare, while the George V Room at Ashford Castle in Cong,
Co Mayo was adjudged to have the finest wine list.

Best newcomer, which was voted for by viewers of TV3's
Ireland AM show, was O'Brien's Good Food & Drink House in
Navan, Co Meath. Zuni Restaurant and Townhouse in Kilkenny
City was named Most Stylish Restaurant by the readers of
Image Magazine.

The Bord Iascaigh Mhara award for Best Seafood Experience
was presented to Mackerel Restaurant in Bewleys, Grafton
Street, Dublin.

© The Irish Times/


Under-Age Sex Law 'Unconstitutional' - Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has unanimously declared as
unconstitutional the "stark" law under which any man is
automatically guilty of an offence if he has sex with a
girl under 15 years, even where that sex was consensual.

The Court made its decision on several grounds, including
the form of "absolute liability" in the law and the failure
to allow a defence of genuine mistake about the girl's age.

The decision has major implications and could lead to the
termination of outstanding prosecutions on such charges,
which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Persons already convicted under the relevant law whose
names have been placed on the Sex Offenders Register are
also expected to speedily apply to have their names

The five-judge Court stressed today that its decision does
not prevent the Oireachtas from enacting a different and
legitimate criminal law to discourage intercourse with very
young girls and pointed out that the Law Reform Commission
had proposed another form of law "as long ago as 1990".

The commission had recommended an overall reduction in the
age of consent and also recommended a defence of "genuine
belief" should be available to any person, except a person
in authority over a minor.

The form of law was for the Oireachtas to decide, the Court
said. It also noted that, for many years, and at least
since 1970, there had been "ample reason" to believe or
apprehend that a statute permitting conviction of a serious
criminal offence without any requirement of mental or moral
guilt was constitutionally vulnerable.

"A finding to that effect cannot reasonably be regarded as
surprising," it said.

The successful challenge to the legislation was brought by
Ms Deirdre Murphy SC, with Ms Marie Torrens, for a young
man, now aged 23 years, who had admitted having consensual
intercourse with a girl whom, he alleged, had told him she
was 16 and whom, he also alleged initiated the sexual
contact after another encounter between them that had
involved no intercourse.

The intercourse was said to have occurred on dates between
July 20th, 2001, and August 16th, 2001, when the man was
aged 17.

In light of the Supreme Court decision, the man will not
now be prosecuted.

The man had challenged the constitutionality of Section 1.1
of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1935 which provides
that any person who "unlawfully and carnally knows a girl
under the age of 15 years shall be liable on conviction
thereof to penal servitude for life or for any term less
than three years or to imprisonment for any term not
exceeding two years".

Under the Sex Offenders Act 2001, any person convicted of
statutory rape would also be registered as a sex offender.

Giving the Supreme Court judgment, Mr Justice Adrian
Hardiman said Ms Murphy had argued it was inconsistent with
the right to a fair trial to deny her client the defence of
mistake, or mistake on reasonable grounds.

The denial of such a defence by Section 1.1 brought about a
situation where no mental guilt or "guilty mind" was
required and where no defence could be offered at all in
circumstances where, as was the situation in this case, the
fact of intercourse was admitted.

Mr Justice Hardiman said the offence as set out in Section
1.1 afforded absolutely no defence once the act of
intercourse was established, "no matter how extreme the
circumstances". Such an absolute offence was rare.

© The Irish Times/

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