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July 08, 2006

IRA Insists McConville Was Informer Despite O'Loan's Report

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 07/08/06 IRA Insists Victim Was Informer
IT 07/08/06 O'Loan Censures Police On McConville Murder Inquiry
IT 07/08/06 Vindication Comes Late After Awful End For Mother Of 10
IN 07/08/06 Opin: IRA Must Admit Fully To Injustice
BB 07/08/06 Sinn Fein Warns On Deal Deadline
IT 07/08/06 Kenny And Rabbitte Say North Talks Need New 'Momentum'
IN 07/08/06 Ardoyne Parade Talks Urged
IT 07/08/06 Drumcree Parade Expected To Pass Off Peacefully
IT 07/08/06 Assembly Parties Criticise Hain
IT 07/08/06 Rise In Practical Border Links Praised
EE 07/08/06 Rabitte: 'Paramilitaries ‘Not About To Abandon Crime'
BB 07/07/06 SF Man Denies Assaulting Police
IN 07/08/06 Opin: Sinn Fein Is As Fit For Government As DUP
IT 07/08/06 Opin: Dáil Recess Provides Calm After Bruising Few Months
IT 07/08/06 Opin: Ahern Will Have Much To Ponder On His Summer Break
IT 07/08/06 Man Dies As Car Plunges Into Cobh Harbour
IT 07/08/06 Record Numbers Of US Troops Use Shannon
IT 07/08/06 Éamon Casey Recalls Years Until His Appointment As Bishop


IRA Insists Victim Was Informer

IRA murder victim Jean McConville did pass information to security forces, the IRA has claimed in a statement.
Mrs McConville was abducted, murdered and secretly buried in 1972.

In a statement, the IRA insisted a "thorough investigation" confirmed that Mrs McConville "was working as an informer for the British army".

It comes after Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan said on Friday her investigators had found no evidence that Mrs McConville had ever been an informer.

The IRA said in a statement released on Saturday that its inquiry followed a "public request" from Mrs McConville's family.

It said the conclusion had been reported to her son, Michael.

"The IRA accepts that he rejects this conclusion," it added.

"The IRA regrets the suffering of all the families whose loved ones were killed and buried by the IRA."

Remains found

In 1999, the IRA admitted they had killed the mother of 10 and several other of the "Disappeared", but alleged some of them had been informants.

Mrs McConville, who was a widow, was killed after she went to the aid of a fatally wounded British soldier outside her home in west Belfast's Divis flats.

Her remains were finally found at Shelling Hill beach in County Louth in the Irish Republic in August 2003.

The police ombudsman said on Friday there was no evidence Mrs McConville had ever passed information to the security forces.

In response, Mrs McConville's daughter, Helen McKendry, said the ombudsman had confirmed what the family had always known - that their mother was an innocent woman.

"Now I would like the IRA to come out and say they killed an innocent woman and apologise the right way, instead of hiding behind excuses," Mrs McKendry said.

"I know, and so does the rest of the family, that my mother was completely innocent. She would have known nothing about the IRA back in '72 and it never made sense why they went out and killed her."

She said the IRA had hidden her mother's body because they had no evidence that she was an informer.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/08 12:15:06 GMT


O'Loan Censures Police On McConville Murder Inquiry

Deaglán de Bréadún

The police investigation into the death of IRA murder
victim Jean McConville has been criticised sharply by the
North's Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, who yesterday
cleared her of republican claims that she was an informant
for the British army.

A widowed mother of 10 children, Mrs McConville was
abducted and killed in December 1972 by the IRA, which
later claimed she was passing information to the British
army about IRA activities at Divis Flats in West Belfast.
Her body was found 31 years later when walkers stumbled
upon it on a beach in Co Louth in August 2003.

Michael and Jim McConville lodged a complaint with the
Ombudsman's office two years ago, concerning the police
investigation into her disappearence. Mrs O'Loan indicated
that her inquiries had gone back over police, army and MI5
records, before reaching the conclusion that Mrs McConville
was not an agent.

"We have looked very extensively at all the intelligence
available at the time," she said. "There is no evidence
that Mrs McConville gave information to the police, the
military or the security service. She was not an

But the Ombudsman also criticised the police. "My
investigation has also found that police didn't carry out a
proper investigation into Mrs McConville's death. She was
simply regarded as a missing person.

"The fact (is) that her children were split up, their
families destroyed, their lives were very blighted. Their
story is a terrible story and they are better placed to
tell that story than I can, but they have suffered
immensely," she said.

It was 27 years after her abduction before any information
was available on the fate of Mrs McConville. Finally, in
March 1999, the IRA confirmed it had carried out the
killing but alleged she was an "informer" who admitted
passing information to the British army.

The claim was an additional burden on the family, and Mrs
O'Loan made clear that her intervention took account of
humanitarian concerns. It was outside her "normal" role to
confirm or deny the identity of alleged security agents,
but the family circumstances made the case unique.

"Jean McConville left an orphaned family, the youngest of
whom were six-year-old boys. The family have suffered
extensively over the years, and that suffering has only
been made worse by allegations that their mother was an
informant," Mrs O'Loan said.

Michael McConville welcomed the clearing of his mother's
name: "The stigma of it has always been very hard to bear.
What people keep saying is that she was an informer. We as
a family know fine rightly that my mother was never an

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said: "Whatever about the
circumstances surrounding Jean McConville's killing, the
burial of her remains was a great injustice to the family."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the McConville family had got
"relief and release from the slur that has always been
there from the Provisional movement".

© The Irish Times


Vindication Comes Late After Awful End For Mother Of 10


Deaglán de Bréadún looks at the background to the Jean
McConville case, which has pained her family for more than
30 years

Insofar as anything ever comes to finality in Northern
Ireland, the tragic and heartrending saga of Jean
McConville appears to be over.

Nothing can bring the widowed mother of 10 children back to
life but at least her reputation has been vindicated by
yesterday's statement from the North's Police Ombudsman,
Nuala O'Loan.

A statement from the Ombudsman carries a lot of weight,
both inside and outside Northern Ireland. Mrs O'Loan
reports that, after very extensive research, her
investigators found "no evidence" to indicate that Mrs
McConville ever passed information to the police, the
British army or the "security service". Spelling it out so
there can be no ambiguity, the Ombudsman states: "She was
not an informant."

The term in popular parlance is "informer" which has
negative and shameful overtones, even outside republican
circles and among the most law-abiding sectors of
nationalist Ireland. The stereotype was permanently
engraved in the popular mind by John Ford's classic film
The Informer, based on Liam O'Flaherty's novel about Gypo
Nolan, an IRA man who turned Judas, as it were, and became,
in Belfast-speak, a "tout".

The story of Jean McConville revives memories of an
especially bitter period at the start of the Troubles. She
was a 37-year-old Protestant from loyalist east Belfast who
married a Catholic from republican west Belfast.

Mrs McConville converted to Catholicism after their
wedding. Arthur McConville was a former British soldier who
later went into the building trade. The couple had 10

Arthur died of cancer in 1971 but Jean and the family
continued living in Divis Flats, which was constantly in
the news because of its use as a launching-pad for IRA bomb
and sniper attacks on the British Army.

A common version of events up to now had it that Mrs
McConville agreed to pass information to the British army
on the local IRA's activities and forthcoming operations.
She ignored repeated warnings from the Provisionals, who
finally decided to execute her around Christmas time in
1972 after she was abducted from her home.

Normally informers' bodies were strategically placed at
some lonely Border road as a macabre warning to others, but
Mrs McConville's status as a widowed mother of 10 meant her
killing could have generated the wrong kind of publicity
for the IRA.

She was therefore taken to a beach just over the Border at
Carlingford, Co Louth, where she was shot in the back of
the head. Her body was buried in the sand and she became
another one of the "disappeared" victims of the Troubles.

Twenty-seven years of shifting sands later, in March 1999,
an IRA source told the media that her grave had been
located. But her remains were not, in fact, discovered
until four years later when members of the public
accidentally stumbled on the body while walking at Shelling
Hill beach, near Carlingford.

Her funeral took place with Requiem Mass in St Mary's
Church in Belfast and, in his homily, Bishop of Down and
Connor Dr Patrick Walsh said her killers had touched "the
depths of depravity". Presbyterian minister Rev Ruth
Patterson read out statements by Mrs McConville's children.
The cortege paused briefly at Divis Flats on its way to
Holy Trinity graveyard in Lisburn, Co Antrim, where she is
interred beside her husband.

The IRA claim that Jean McConville was "arrested by Óglaigh
na hÉireann in 1972 and admitted being a British Army
informer" has now been expressly challenged and rejected by
Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

Deciding who did or did not pass information to the
security forces is not a normal activity for the
Ombudsman's office but there were compassionate reasons for
Mrs O'Loan's intervention.

As she pointed out, the situation was unique: "Jean
McConville left an orphaned family, the youngest of whom
were six- year-old boys. The family have suffered
extensively over the years, as we all know, and that
suffering has only been made worse by allegations that
their mother was an informant."

Additional details of the investigation are to follow
shortly and we may end up with a clearer picture of events.
But whereas the pain of loss can never be assuaged, the
clearing of Mrs McConville's reputation should provide some
comfort to her long-suffering family.

© The Irish Times


Opin: IRA Must Admit Fully To Injustice


By any standards, the family of Jean McConville have had a
long and difficult struggle to uncover the truth about
their mother’s death.

This woman, a widow with 10 children, was abducted from her
west Belfast home in 1972.

Her family were not told what became of her and it took 27
years for the IRA to admit she had been shot dead and her
body secretly buried.

There then followed a number of agonising but fruitless
searches before Mrs McConville’s body was discovered at
Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in August 2003.

This was an enormous breakthrough for the family, who were
finally able to give their mother a Christian burial – a
wish still denied many of the Disappeared.

However, the IRA statement in 1999 relating to a number of
the Disappeared alleged that Jean McConville had admitted
being a British army informer.

Her family strongly disputed this and contended their
mother had been killed after she had gone to the assistance
of a soldier wounded near her home.

The Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, has examined this case
and yesterday said she has found no evidence that Mrs
McConville ever passed information to the security forces.

This is a significant step for the family, whose suffering
– as Mrs O’Loan acknowledged – was exacerbated by this
hurtful allegation.

It is unusual for the ombudsman to issue such a finding,
but it is very much to be welcomed in the context of
uncovering the truth behind this most disturbing case.

Another element of Mrs O’Loan’s statement is the finding
that the police did not carry out a proper investigation
following Mrs McConville’s disappearance but simply
regarded her as a missing person.

Given the circumstances of this woman’s abduction, the
police response at the time beggars belief.

The police must issue a full explanation and apology for
inexcusable failings in its investigation.

However, there can be no denying where the responsibility
lies for the action which left a mother dead and 10
children orphaned.

The police ombudsman has cleared Jean McConville’s name.

The republican movement must now fully admit to the
terrible injustice which was carried out 34 years ago.


Sinn Fein Warns On Deal Deadline

Sinn Fein has warned the government not to extend the
deadline for a deal to restore devolution in Northern
Ireland beyond 24 November.

The DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson, said last week that
his party regarded the date "as arbitrary".

Martin McGuinness, however, said on the BBC's Inside
Politics that the governments must not wait for the DUP.

"If they're ready to do a deal by the spring of next year,
then they can come on board," he said.

The governments must press on with the new partnership
arrangements they say they are prepared to put in place
immediately after the DUP, as it appears, refuse to do the

Martin Guinness

"But that must not, under any circumstances, in any way,
affect the plans of the British prime minister and the
taoiseach to call a halt to all of this on 24 November.

"They must press on with the new partnership arrangements
that they say they are prepared to put in place immediately
after the DUP, as it appears, refuse to do the deal."

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

A bid to elect a first minister and deputy first minister
failed to gain the necessary cross-party support.

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.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/08 08:53:39 GMT


Kenny And Rabbitte Say North Talks Need New 'Momentum'

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent in Stormont

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern must do more to push talks to
restore Northern Ireland's political institutions, Fine
Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Pat Rabbitte have

Speaking in Stormont following a day of meetings with
Northern political leaders, the two said "momentum" had
clearly gone out of the efforts to re-establish the
Northern Ireland Executive by November 24th.

Northern party leaders, said Mr Kenny, had told them that
Mr Ahern and British prime minister Tony Blair were "a
little flat" when they attended talks with them last month.

"They need to up the work rate in so far as the
difficulties that are clearly there," said Mr Kenny, though
both he and Mr Rabbitte emphasised that the Republic's
long-standing all-party approach to the North would

Downbeat about the prospects of a November deal, Mr
Rabbitte said: "You could not conclude that there is a
great deal of momentum in this process at the moment.

"The parties are appreciative of what is at stake, but the
pace is very slow. It is clear that there is still a great
deal to be done," Mr Rabbitte told The Irish Times prior to
returning to Dublin.

Besides pushing for political progress, Mr Kenny said Mr
Ahern should seek greater co-operation on trade and
economic issues, along with demanding a full public inquiry
into the 1989 killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

The two leaders met the Democratic Unionist Party leader Dr
Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson before leaving Stormont for
a meeting with the Police Service of Northern Ireland's
chief constable, Sir Hugh Orde.

Returning to Stormont, Mr Kenny and Mr Rabbitte met
separately with SDLP leader Mark Durkan; Ulster Unionist
Party leader Sir Reg Empey; Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and
Alliance Party figures.

Describing the meetings as "a useful exchange", Mr Kenny
said they had received "a realistic appraisal" from all of
the parties. "It shows the difficulties and obstacles in
the way of November 24th."

The Irish and British governments have insisted that the
Northern parties must agree to the reformation of a new
Executive and a fully-working Assembly by November 24th or
accept that the hopes for progress have disappeared for

"You could not say that one is confident that the outcome
would be clear by then," said Mr Rabbitte, accepting that
both Mr Ahern and Mr Blair have "invested a great deal" in
the efforts to make progress.

"But the impression now is that they have gone away from
the meeting last month with a rather pessimistic bent and
they are not pressing the parties in the way that they did
in the past."

None of the Northern party leaders held joint press
conferences with Mr Kenny and Mr Rabbitte, though Sinn
Féin's Mr Adams said later that he had "a useful enough"
meeting with them.

Mr Adams pushed them to drop their objections to Northern
MPs getting rights to speak in the Dáil, insisting that
they had failed to "advance a logical, rational reason" for
their opposition.

However, he poured scorn on the Fine Gael and Labour
leaders' description of themselves as an alternative

"I do not see them as being an alternative government. They
may be the next government, or they may not, but they are
not an alternative. They are much of a muchness. There is
no difference between them and the Government. It is
Tweedledum, Tweedledee.

"The alternative lies with those who want a different
Ireland. All of these parties have the same policies. We
want to see the economy used for the benefit of the vast
majority of the people."

Privately, however, SF officials were positive about the
engagement. They noted that FG/Labour were to increase
their profile on Northern matters which have, up to now,
been seen as the Taoiseach's strongest card.

Pushing Sinn Féin to join the NI Policing Board, Mr Kenny
said that Mr Adams had told them "that progress is being
made within the republican community", but that it was
"unlikely" that they would join before November 24th.

Dr Paisley, said Mr Rabbitte, had emphasised that he was
prepared to form a power-sharing arrangement with Sinn Féin
provided that republicans' links with criminality ended.

"He is not persuaded at the moment. Hopefully, the next
report of the Independent Monitoring Committee will
persuade him on that issue," said Mr Rabbitte.

© The Irish Times


Ardoyne Parade Talks Urged

By Barry McCaffrey

Ardoyne priest Father Aidan Troy last night appealed for
11th hour talks aimed at trying to find agreement ahead of
the Twelfth of July parade.

The Holy Cross priest made his call after the Parades
Commission ruled that an Orange Order march will be allowed
to parade along a nationalist section of the Crumlin Road
next Wednesday evening.

Fr Troy said he was “extremely apprehensive” about the
potential for serious trouble during the contentious

“I am appealing for everyone, politicians and community
leaders, to make an eleventh hour effort to try and find
some kind of accommodation because I am fearful of what
could happen,” he said.

“There was so much goodwill achieved with the agreement
over the Tour of the North parade but I feel we are walking
into a potentially very dangerous situation next week.

“I am appealing for anyone with influence to try and find
some agreement even at this late stage.”

Meanwhile, Ardoyne Parades Dialogue Group (APDG) spokesman
Joe Marley said nationalists would appeal the commission
decision to allow the evening march to go ahead.

“We are disappointed that the sincere gesture we offered of
not protesting during the morning parade seems to have been
given no recognition by the Parades Commission in its
determination to allow an evening march along the Crumlin
Road,” he said.

“It was a genuine attempt to solve the issue of contentious
parades through nationalist areas but seems to have been
ignored by the commission who do not seem to understand the
deep sense of hurt which these parades cause to

“We are also angered that the commission has allowed an
increased parade but has reduced the number of people
allowed to take part in what is a peaceful and lawful

Mr Marley said nationalists remained concerned over what
actions will be taken to ensure parade supporters are not
allowed to march through the flashpoint area.

“The commission’s determination states that parade
supporters must be bussed through the area before the march
takes place,” he said.

“In previous years there was serious violence when the PSNI
allowed supporters to parade through this area because of
the threat of loyalist violence in other parts of this

“We want the commission and the PSNI to make it clear they
will not capitulate to the threat of loyalist violence to
force these supporters past nationalist homes once again.”

North and West Belfast Parades Forum spokesman Tommy
Cheevers said his group would meet on Monday to decide if
it will accept the determination. Mr Cheevers confirmed
that the forum met with police officers yesterday to
discuss the bussing issue.

“The PSNI told us that they would police the commission
determination but also admitted that there is no law which
allows them to force people onto bases. It is a catch 22
situation,” he said.


Drumcree Parade Expected To Pass Off Peacefully

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

The Armagh-Donegal Ulster football final and the World Cup
final are expected to help ensure that Drumcree's annual
church service and parade will pass off uneventfully
tomorrow, despite the parade not being allowed to continue
to Portadown through the Garvaghy Road.

It has not been permitted to take that route since 1997. A
low-key security operation will be put in place by the
PSNI,reflecting expectations on all sides.

This year the parade, which first took place in 1807, will
also commemorate the 90th anniversary of the first day of
the Battle of the Somme, in which 300 young Protestant men
from Armagh and Tyrone were killed.

Portadown District Loyal Orange Lodge spokesman David Jones
said yesterday they were "expecting things to be quiet"
tomorrow and that members of the local lodge there would be
the only ones taking part.

They would attend the annual service at the Church of the
Ascension in Drumcree before parading to the bridge at the
bottom of Drumcress hill where, as in recent years, a
letter of protest at the parade being stopped will be read
before being passed to a senior police officer.

The parade will then return to the top of the hill and

Breandán Mac Cionnaith, of the Garvaghy residents group,
agreed that it was expected to be quiet in Portadown

Recent times there had been "the quietest for 30 years", he
said. "New life has returned to the town with prosperity
for both communities. Ten new units at the business centre
have been occupied. It would be a foolish person who would
try to ignite a situation which would impact on both
communities," he said.

He added that between 100 and 150 residents in the Garvaghy
and Obins Street areas of Portadown were Portuguese.

© The Irish Times


Assembly Parties Criticise Hain


Northern Secretary Peter Hain has been criticised by a
number of the Assembly parties at Stormont about how he has
dealt with them.

During a four-hour debate on a motion from the minister on
spending priorities for a future Stormont government,
unionists, nationalists and cross-community politicians
attacked Mr Hain for his treatment of MLAs.

Democratic Unionist leader the Rev Ian Paisley, opening the
first debate in the Assembly for a month, said it was
outrageous how Mr Hain had treated the Assembly since its
recall in May.

He said in particular that it was not right that Mr Hain
could reject suggestions from MLAs for debates.

"When I listen to the Secretary of State, and when I look
at the [ order] papers that we eventually get through from
him on the business of the house, I think they are
absolutely ridiculous," Dr Paisley said.

"They can change within hours - not within days, but within

"I think the time has come when the Assembly needs to put
out a signal to the Secretary of State and say, if this is
the way you want to continue business you can do it on your

"There is no use in pretending that this Assembly has at
least some democracy when it has very little, and, indeed,
would have none at all if the Secretary of State had his

With Sinn Féin boycotting yesterday's debate, as it has
done throughout the lifetime of the recalled Assembly, Dr
Paisley also said it was ridiculous that Gerry Adams's
party could dictate what was debated by refusing to agree
motions sent to Mr Hain.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan claimed Mr Hain was weaving between
two vetoes in the political process exercised by the DUP
and Sinn Féin."We all need to recognise the phoniness of
this exercise [the Assembly debate]," he said.

Alliance Party leader David Ford said yesterday's debate
was a farce. He accused Mr Hain of acting in a macho manner
towards the Assembly, and devaluing the Assembly by the way
he handled it.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson also insisted Mr Hain
should stop pulling the Assembly's strings. "The Assembly
should be master of its own house. It is clear there is a
puppet-master who wants to pull the strings."

As the debate took place members of Dr Paisley's party held
talks with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour Party
leader Pat Rabbitte.

They were holding their first joint visit to Belfast in
what was being seen as a significant move in the North. -

© The Irish Times


Rise In Practical Border Links Praised

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

There is a tendency to forget the "remarkable" recent
growth of practical cross-Border co-operation, a summer
school was told last night.

Speaking at the opening session of the Aughrim Summer
School near Ballinasloe, Co Galway, the founding director
of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, Andy Pollak, said
this was because the co-operation "is so quiet, non-
controversial and low-level".

"There are now over 700 civil servants from both
jurisdictions working in the North-South area; seven or
eight years ago there were probably fewer than 50," he

Mr Pollak said that "practical" unionist politicians -
especially those from a business background - can see that
it makes good sense to co-operate in mutually beneficial
ways among the five-and-a-half million people on the

It was no coincidence that the first sign of Rev Ian
Paisley "showing anything other than hostility" to North-
South co-operation was when he praised a cross-Border
consortium of farmers for stepping in to save a potato-
processing factory in his North Antrim constituency from
closure two years ago, he said.

A year later, Mr Paisley declared that "no one has anything
to fear from . . . an accountable North-South relationship
of equal partnerships."

"For those of us who have spent half a lifetime studying
the bigoted and ferocious antipathy to Irish Catholicism
and nationalism which is the bedrock of the DUP leader's
belief system, this is the stuff of which miracles are
made," Mr Pollak said.

He also cited the observation of historian Prof Paul Bew
that unionist willingness to co-operate across the Border
provided that the South recognise the principle of unionist
consent goes back to the early 1920s, when this served as
the basis for the short-lived pact between Michael Collins
and unionist leader Sir James Craig in 1922.

However, Mr Pollak warned against expecting miracles from
this process, saying it would be "a painstaking process to
persuade our unionist fellow Irishmen and women that the
people of the South no longer have any ambition to rule the
North, but only want what is best for the people of the
island, North and South, whatever constitutional
arrangements that involves."

The annual Aughrim Summer School, under the theme "Shaping
the Future of Ireland", continues until tomorrow. The panel
of speakers includes Rev Earl Storey, a Church of Ireland
clergyman who is director of the Hard Gospel Project,
Bishop John Kirby of Clonfert, and William Logan, Grand
Master of the Royal Black Institution.

© The Irish Times


Rabitte: 'Paramilitaries ‘Not About To Abandon Crime'

07/07/2006 - 3:30:03 PM

Paramilitary involvement in criminal activities is unlikely
to dissolve soon, Labour leader Pat Rabbitte claimed today.

During the first joint visit to Belfast with Fine Gael
Leader Enda Kenny, Mr Rabbitte said their discussions with
the Rev. Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists had focused on
the need for loyalist and republican involvement in crime
to disappear.

Mr.Rabitte said: "If you are waiting for the day when every
paramilitary in Northern Ireland abandons crime, I do not
think it is likely that we will see the dawning of that day

"It would be immensely helpful if Sinn Féin were to take
its seats on the Policing Board.

"We had a very useful and a positive exchange of views with
the DUP.

"They clearly feel if this issue of connections with
criminality is not dealt with by November 24, then it is
not likely to be dealt with thereafter."

Mr Kenny and Mr Rabbitte's joint visit was being
interpreted north of the border as the first opportunity
for parties in the province to get a sense of what a Fine
Gael and Labour coalition would offer if it defeats the
current government in next year's general election.

Mr Kenny said both parties had consistently supported the
Government in its efforts to advance the Good Friday

He said this was the first in a series of visits.

The Fine Gael leader said they had raised a number of
issues with Hugh Orde, the Northern Ireland Chief

"We discussed criminality, the reorganisation of the Police
Service of Northern Ireland, the dismantling of watch
towers, the reorganisation of barracks and recruitment."


SF Man Denies Assaulting Police

A Sinn Fein councillor has been remanded on bail on charges
of assaulting two police officers.

Fra McCann, of Belfast Falls district, denied assault,
disorderly behaviour, obstructing police and resisting an
officer on 10 June.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard the offences relate to an
incident in Divis Street when police were attempting to
restrain a woman suspected of robbery.

A defence solicitor said the charges would be strongly

He said that a large number of witnesses still had to be

Mr McCann was remanded on bail for a month.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/07 12:02:06 GMT


Opin: Sinn Fein Is As Fit For Government As DUP

First Friday
By Denis Bradley

Is Sinn Fein fit for government?

Ian Paisley asks the question and demands that Tony Blair
answers it. Even though the question has a moral tone, it
is asked in a political context and therefore is almost
certain to receive an evasive reply. But like every
question that remains unanswered, it has the

ability to hang around like a flag on a lamp post.

Ian Paisley goes on to outline the standards against which
the question should be answered. There must be verifiable
decommissioning, an ending of criminality and a full-
hearted support for law and order. Decommissioning has
undeniably taken place. Verifiable is an imprecise concept
that has echoes of the Apostle Thomas who would not believe
unless he put his own fingers into the holes in Christ’s
hands. Since the announcement of the

standing down of the IRA there has been no criminality
attributed to that organisation.

The law and order issue is the most controversial but also
the most interesting. The two governments and Sinn Fein
gifted this issue to the DUP.

Had any of them grasped the nettle then Ian Paisley would
never have dared raise it as a hurdle to be jumped. The
reality is that any time during the past five years Sinn
Fein could have taken seats on the new policing structures
and no-one could have done much about it. The only action
then open to the DUP would have been to behave like the
Ulster Unionist Party is presently behaving.

No-one is very sure if the UUP are on the Policing Board or
not on the board. Politically, their behaviour is about as
effective as a flag flying on a lamp post.

Sinn Fein has opted to abstain and to protest. Their
absence has managed to

slow the pace and the efficiency of the much-needed rooting
of policing in every community. Their absence, however,
hasn’t added one jot of new legislation that was not
already in the pipeline. They used policing as a bargaining
tool. What they were bargaining for and what they achieved
in their bargaining is far from clear.

The two governments should have made the support of
policing a sine qua non in achieving a full implementation
of both Plan A and Plan B.

The Irish government in particular should have insisted on
this support not just because it is the most pragmatic and
the most moral position in the current political context.
It would also have been some recognition that it was the

Irish people who led the IRA from the path of violence to
the path of politics. It would have countered the vacuous
claim that the DUP are the moral guardians of law and order.

Closer to the truth is that the SDLP laid their political
bodies across the moat that separated violence and
politics, so that the IRA could cross over.

The leadership of Sinn Fein were brave and farsighted in
that journey.

During the long and arduous years of negotiations that
followed it was various Irish governments who laid the
standards that were appropriate to peace and morality. To
gift the DUP with an imprimatur around law and order is an
affront to many good men and women.

It is even more outrageous when the violent events that
took place after the Whiterock parade last year are
recalled. At that time many members of the DUP withdrew
their support for law and order. Ian Paisley did not then
ask the question: “Is my party fit for government?”

The Irish government are tasked with representing all the
people who claim Irish identity. It is they who should
interpret the will of their people. It is they who should
spell out the standards that are acceptable.

No political party in Ireland would join in government with
Sinn Fein if they did not support the Garda. Equally, no
political party in the north should join in government with
any party which does not support the PSNI.

It is a shame that the present Irish government has not
shown greater clarity and courage on this particular issue.

So, is Sinn Fein fit for government? Of course it is. It is
as fit as the DUP.

As soon as it has had its ard fheis and persuaded its
delegates that it

is impossible to be in government while remaining apart
from the institutions that form the criminal justice system
then, of course, it should be in government.


Opin: Dáil Recess Provides Calm After A Bruising Few Months


InsidePolitics/Stephen Collins: The adjournment of the Dáil
for its long summer recess on Thursday was an even more
welcome relief than usual, as far as TDs of both Government
parties were concerned.

The pressure was beginning to tell on Fianna Fáil TDs as
the election inched ever closer, while the Progressive
Democrats were suffering from nervous exhaustion after
weeks of internal dissension.

Both parties will try to regroup over the summer and hope
that the political atmosphere will have changed for the
better by the time they return to normal business at the
end of September. The long-established pattern, as shown in
opinion polls, is that the Government recovers ground
during the summer when the Opposition parties cease to have
the Dáil as a forum for attack.

The Fine Gael-Labour alternative has plans to keep the
pressure on the Government over the summer with a series of
joint policy announcements. The visit of Enda Kenny and Pat
Rabbitte to Belfast yesterday was designed to demonstrate
that they are a team and will be able to work together well
in office. That will not be truly tested until closer to
the election, when both leaders will have to demonstrate
that real policy differences between their parties on
serious issues can be resolved.

Of course politics does not stop for the three months or so
the Dáil is in recess. The Cabinet will continue to meet
through July and resume business in early September and the
same applies to Dáil committees. The constituency workload
of TDs will continue through the summer. However, the
absence of the Dáil will inevitably calm the political
atmosphere and that is precisely what the coalition needs
after a bruising few months. The Fianna Fáil leadership
will have the time to put in place the new parliamentary
party structures to assuage backbench anxiety and ensure
that it does not spill over into open revolt.

The potential for trouble on the backbenches was easily
defused by the Taoiseach in recent weeks, but he will be
keeping tabs on developments in the party in an effort to
ensure that it does not erupt again before the election.
The annual parliamentary party get-together, planned for
Westport in September, will provide an opportunity for him
to pull his TDs together for the coming fray.

The problems in the Progressive Democrats are much more
serious. The level of distrust that has developed among
leading members of the party is potentially fatal and,
unless they can bind up their wounds before the election,
disaster threatens. The parliamentary party members had an
end-of-term meal together in the Dáil restaurant on
Wednesday night and, while that may have stopped the
trouble getting any worse for the moment, the TDs and
Senators will have huge difficulties working together as a
team again.

The PDs are a small party in which all the leading figures
have known each other very well for a long time. The result
is that a serious row almost inevitably has a much greater
impact than in a bigger party, because everybody is
involved. The dispute over what assurances Mary Harney gave
about standing down as leader is akin to an intractable
family row over a will. There is no easy answer to the
party's problem.

The final week of the Dáil session demonstrated that the
problems are not all on the Government side.

Enda Kenny was still recovering from the embarrassment of
using a mugging incident in Kenya some years ago as an
example of the breakdown of law and order in this country.
There are continuing rumours of unhappiness among some
elements in the Labour Party at Pat Rabbitte's leadership
and his determination to rule out coalition with Fianna

On policy issues Fine Gael and Labour have divided in
recent weeks. Labour declined to back the Fine Gael Home
Defence Bill. The two parties had very different views on
the sale of Aer Lingus and were also divided on the Defence
Amendment Bill and the conditions under which Irish troops
can participate in EU battlegroups.

The Greens have also had their problems, with rumblings
about the party leadership over the past six months. This
was followed during the week by the expression of divided
views on future strategy by two of its TDs during the
debate on the Fine Gael-Labour motion calling for an early
election. "This motion to call an early election is
opportunistic, cynical and pointless," remarked Green Party
TD Paul Gogarty, before going on to denounce the
alternative coalition. "It does not matter which of the
larger parties is in government following the next
election. Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats are
tired and need to be given a break but the supposed Fine
Gael-Labour Party alternative is more of the same."

Gogarty's colleague, Ciarán Cuffe, took a different view:
"The rainbow coalition was a good government and we would
be happy to add colour and depth to a future rainbow."

The quote of the last week of the Dáil session came from
Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea during the debate on the
Defence Amendment Bill. Sinn Féin and the Greens claimed
the triple lock, which requires UN sanction for the use of
Irish troops on humanitarian missions abroad, was being
undermined by the legislation.

"I call on everyone here who has a conscience, particularly
in the Labour Party, on Irish neutrality and sovereignty to
oppose this Bill," Martin Ferris of Sinn Féin said.

"Did the triple lock operate for the murder of Jerry
McCabe? Was there a UN resolution for that?" O'Dea shot

© The Irish Times


Opin: Ahern Will Have Much To Ponder On His Summer Break

Noel Whelan

Josh Lyman, campaign manager for the presidential candidate
Mathew Santos in the television drama West Wing, makes the
point at one strategy meeting that although people think
election campaigns are about competing answers to the
questions, they are not - elections are about a competition
for the question itself.

The candidate or party who can get an election contest on
to their issues is best positioned to win.

Our election is almost a year away, but already it is clear
that the political parties are involved in a contest for
the question. Both sides set out their stalls in the Dáil
private members' debate this week. The Labour and Fine Gael
motion focused on issues of Government incompetence, citing
in particular problems in accident and emergency, rising
crime, enduring social inequalities and incidents of
wastage of public money.

It's a familiar litany, which will be repeated often by the
Opposition in the coming months.

The Government's amendment focused on its wider economic
achievement, listing employment-creation and tax reform and
then itemising a series of social and education
initiatives, which the Government wants to remind voters
have been funded from the proceeds of the boom.

Cabinet meetings are continuing and Dáil committees are
still sitting in July, and there are the usual early summer
rituals such as the Galway Races, but politics will
gradually get quieter for the summer. In August, the
Taoiseach and most of his Ministers will take a proper
break and get the head space to do some private strategic

Bertie Ahern uses his holidays well. This will be his tenth
summer as Taoiseach. As he walks the beaches of Kerry or
wherever he chooses to spend his August, his thoughts will
inevitably turn to whether he will be in the same job this
time next year and to devising a strategy to ensure that he

Bertie Ahern has been in a similar position before. His
fourth summer as Taoiseach in 2000 was not a comfortable
one. It was dominated by the controversy over the
appointment of Hugh O'Flaherty to the European Investment
Bank. It was Ahern himself who devised the strategy to
repair the damage that controversy caused. This involved
him acknowledging that the Government had "taken a hit" on
the issue and then making a particular effort to control
the Government's message in the months that followed and to
ensuring an error-free budget that December.

These steps, together with a competent management of the
foot-and-mouth crisis the following spring, enabled Fianna
Fáil to claw its way back to its original support levels,
setting it on course for re-election in 2002.

Bertie Ahern's eighth summer as Taoiseach was even more
uncomfortable. In June 2004, Fianna Fáil had its worst
election result ever after voters vented their considerable
annoyance with the Government on the party's candidates in
the local and European elections.

Ahern got the message, however, and he quickly embarked on
a series of steps which, at least in hindsight, can be seen
as a cumulative strategy designed to recover lost support.
Within weeks he had leveraged Charlie McCreevy out of the
Department of Finance to the European Commission. In early
September, the "Inchydoney repositioning" began with Father
Seán Healy's address to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary
party's annual "think-in" in Clonakilty.

Later that same month, Ahern carried out a relatively
radical reshuffle of his ministers. Then, in interviews to
mark his 10th anniversary as leader of Fianna Fáil, he
generated much comment by talking about how he was a

There was a follow-up when the new Minister for Finance,
Brian Cowen, targeted tax cuts at the lower-paid in his
December 2004 budget and detailed a substantial funding
package for disability services. Again the strategy worked,
at least initially, and the Government's numbers in the
first opinion polls of 2005 were greatly improved.

Now, however, the Government is in the poll doldrums again.
Whatever reservations one might have about the accuracy of
some of the opinion polls, the cumulative data now
available is extensive enough to conclude that Fianna Fáil
has been stuck at or below 35 per cent for a while.

This is a far cry from the 41.5 per cent the party polled
in the 2002 election. By comparison, Fine Gael has improved
its position significantly.

Again it is Bertie Ahern who will have to devise and
implement the strategy to recover the lost ground. This
time his task is more complex. Fianna Fáil is starting from
a lower base and the timescale for recovery is shorter.

A number of elements of a political recovery strategy will
suggest themselves to the Taoiseach. Firstly, he is likely
to intensify his schedule of constituency tours. Expect to
see Bertie Ahern visit a town near you in September. As
well as boosting morale, these visits generate local
newspaper and radio interviews, where the Taoiseach feels
he gets a better opportunity to communicate his message.

Ahern will also need to focus on the management structures
needed to bring greater cohesion to his Government and to
his party's election campaign for the 10 or 11 months that

The party's manifesto will have to be eye-catching, but no
dramatic shift in policy is required. What is required is
an improvement in how the Government does things and in how
it communicates what it is doing. The Government's mistakes
are easily remembered; its achievements are less clear in
voters' minds. Too much of its good news is not getting
across because of clumsy controversies.

As of now, Bertie Ahern is still more likely than not to be
in the driving seat for government-formation this time next
year. The mountain that the Opposition has to climb in seat
gains has not gone away.

Ahern will also know that as the election gets closer the
question will not just be about the competence and policies
of the Government. It will also be about the relative
competence and policies of the alternative.

© The Irish Times


Man Dies As Car Plunges Into Cobh Harbour

Niall O'Connor in Cobh

One man died and his brother is in hospital after their car
plunged into the harbour in Cobh, Co Cork, yesterday

As emergency services tried to save the life of Patrick
O'Mahoney from Cobh, his mother and family looked on from
the quayside.

His brother, Eddie, was found clutching a flimsy metal
ladder at the quayside screaming for divers to help
Patrick, who was trapped in the car in 20 metres of water.

The tragedy occurred at the Deep Water Quay in Cobh at
1.40pm yesterday.

A Naval Service member on duty a few hundred metres away at
the Naval Service base on Haulbowline Island spotted the
vehicle entering the water and immediately raised the

Naval divers from the base who were on an exercise close by
in rigid inflatable boats also sped to the scene.

They arrived quickly and took Eddie from the water and
immediately began a search for his brother in the missing

Two units of Cork Fire Brigade rushed to the scene and two
inshore lifeboats from Crosshaven travelled across the

An ambulance crew treated Eddie who appeared to be unhurt
but in a state of deep shock.

Three divers circled around one of the black inflatable
boats. Close by an orange buoy marked the spot where the
car was located.Both men were well known locally.

The Deep Water Quay is an important berthing location for
luxury ocean-going liners.

Shortly after 3pm the body of Patrick was taken from the
water and a medic performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation
(CPR) for almost 15 minutes.

The quayside was sealed off and as a crane and a recovery
vehicle arrived at the scene, the silver Ford Focus car was
winched from the water.

Superintendent Pat Sheehan confirmed that one man was dead
and another was being comforted by family members. He
appealed for any witnesses.

"It would have been busy around here at the time of the
incident . . . I would appeal for anyone with information
to come forward," he said.

Gardaí are investigating the circumstances surrounding the

According to sources close to the family, Patrick, whose
25th birthday was yesterday, and Eddie were at the family
home earlier in the day.

Shortly after 1pm Patrick left the house followed closely
by Eddie.

Patrick drove to the quayside, with Eddie as a passenger.

Then, suddenly, the car was seen to disappear into the

© The Irish Times


Record Numbers Of US Troops Use Shannon

Gordon Deegan

A record number of US troops passed through Shannon Airport
during the first half of this year, according to figures
released yesterday.

The Shannon Airport Authority (SAA) confirmed that more
than 200,000 US troops passed through the airport and some
209,074 US soldiers used the airport facilities from
January to the end of June - a rise of 36 per cent on the
corresponding period last year.

Some €26 million in revenues is believed to have been
generated for the SAA, delivering more than €4.5 million in
profits for the authority over the first six months.

However, since the largest carrier, World Airways, has
pulled out of Shannon since last Saturday and relocated to
Leipzig, Germany, the numbers are set to drop dramatically.

A spokeswoman for the SAA said the carrier accounted for 50
per cent of the US troop passenger traffic going through
Shannon. She confirmed that during the month of June,
31,333 troops passed through on 189 flights during the
month of June - this followed 32,000 going through on 195
flights in May and 29,291 troops on 190 flights using the
facilities in April.

The figure for the second quarter show that 92,624 troops
passed through Shannon - down on the 116,540 troops that
used Shannon in the first three months.

The airline has pulled out of Shannon before. In 2003 it
relocated to Frankfurt before returning to Shannon in 2005.

Three other airlines transporting US troops to Iraq
continue to use Shannon: Northwestern Airlines, American
Transair and Omni Air International.

Troop traffic contributed to a 20 per cent increase in
overall passenger traffic for the first six months of 2006
with 1.7 million passengers using Shannon.

Fine Gael Clare TD Pat Breen said yesterday: "Commercial
troop business has always been part of Shannon business and
local jobs will be the first casualty of the decision by
World Airways to pull out of Shannon. The pull out will
have a devastating effect on the region and in particular
on the catering workers in Shannon Airport, where 3,000
meals a day were being prepared by them; the figure has now
been reduced to 800."

The figures show that since the start of 2002, almost
900,000 troops have passed through Shannon.

At a Joint Oireachtas Transport Committee meeting last
month, the chairman of the Dublin Airport Authority, Gary
McGann, said that troop traffic "is not something Shannon
can depend on in the long term. That business is already
declining." The traffic accounts for €9 million in profits
each year.

© The Irish Times


Éamon Casey Recalls The Years Until His Appointment As Bishop

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

The first of two programmes featuring Bishop Éamon Casey
will be broadcast on Radio Kerry after the 10 o'clock news
tomorrow night. Both deal with the years up to his
appointment as Bishop of Kerry in 1969.

In the only reference to his life at present, he said he
was "settling in" at Shanaglish parish in Co Galway.

The programmes place particular emphasis on his work with
the emigrant Irish in England during the 1960s and with the
housing agency Shelter, which he helped set up in 1966. The
interviews for both programmes were conducted by Maurice
O'Keeffe and will be broadcast on the Kerry Lore programme.

Tomorrow night's programme centres on two other Irish
priests, Fr Joe Nolan and Fr John Kenelly, who did great
work with Irish emigrants in the UK in the 1960s and
afterwards. They give their opinions on Bishop Casey as a
man and on his work, with interspersed comments from him.

The programme on July 16th involves just Bishop Casey
himself as he recollects growing up in Adare, Co Limerick,
his arrival at Maynooth, his years as a curate in Limerick,
his work in England, and his appointment as Bishop of

He recalls how after the BBC broadcast the Cathy Come Home
documentary on the homeless in 1966, directed by Ken Loach,
who also directed The Wind that Shakes the Barley film,
Shelter, which was established a short time afterwards,
"took off".

He recalled the "bombshell" in 1969 when he was called to
the papal nunciature in Dublin to be told he had been
appointed Bishop of Kerry.

His father, who had driven him to the nunciature, on
hearing the news of his appointment blessed himself three
times and said: "I'll have to pray harder than ever now."

It was his father who gave him the £1,000 which helped him
set up a scheme to help young Irish families buy their own
homes when he was in Slough, he said.

He praises the Christian Brothers for his early education
and remembers when he first arrived at Maynooth being
"appalled at the place . . . all those huge buildings,
black stone buildings".

© The Irish Times

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