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July 16, 2006

UDA Wants Handout of £30m To Disband

News About Ireland & The Irish

GU 07/15/06 UDA Wants Handout Of £30m To Disband
TO 07/15/06 Paisley ‘Won’t Be Leader For Long’
BN 07/14/06 Hain Will Call For Cross-Party Co-Operation
SF 07/15/06 McDonald - Dialogue Is Key To Progress
TE 07/15/06 Peers And MPs Join Fight For Natwest Three
IC 07/15/06 ICAEW Statement On The UK-US Extradition Treaty
TO 07/15/06 NatWest 3: Poor Relations
BT 07/15/06 Catholic Church, School Attacked
BB 07/15/06 Arsonists Burn Down Orange Hall
DT 07/15/06 PSNI Accused Over Butcher Street Incidents
IN 07/15/06 NY Mayor To Meet North’s Politicos
BB 07/15/06 SF, DUP Will Share Power: Durkan
IN 07/15/06 Opin: Paisley Keeping His Options Open
TO 07/15/06 Opin: American Court Is Right Place For Natwest Three
BN 07/15/06 Gaybo Hits Back At Critics
IN 07/15/06 Durkan’s Nephew Is On The Mend
BT 07/15/06 Bundoran Happy To Be Passed By
GU 07/16/06 Orangemen 'Frightened Away Tourists'
TO 07/16/06 Leading Article: Mayo Will Lose Out


UDA Wants Handout Of £30m To Disband

Terrorists seek 'retirement' fund
Leaders in talks over winding up

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday July 16, 2006
The Observer

The Ulster Defence Association has asked the British and
Irish governments for £30m to help it disband. Senior
loyalist sources have told The Observer that the
organisation wants the money to help 'retire' its thousands
of activists.

Talks have been held between the UDA and both governments
in recent weeks as the loyalist group's leadership
considers a final break-up.

Moves to enable the UDA - the largest loyalist terrorist
group in Northern Ireland - to wind up its terror machine
come as the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain proposes
a meeting between himself, Chief Constable Hugh Orde and
Sinn Fein to discuss policing. Hain wants to establish
practical, on-the-ground co-operation between the police
and Sinn Fein even before the party signs up to the North's
Policing Board.

Intense discussions will continue over the summer to
persuade the two loyalist organisations, the UDA and the
Ulster Volunteer Force, to disband.

Last week the British government granted £3.5m to the
Ulster Political Research Group, the UDA's political ally,
to help it erase paramilitary murals from the walls of
working class Protestant estates.

'The £3.5m is only the start,' one senior loyalist told The
Observer this weekend. 'The UDA are seeking more money to
create jobs for its members and supporters across the
Province. You can't have a load of unemployed
paramilitaries running about without any stake in their
communities. The money will be officially for those
communities, but the truth is it will be unemployed,
disbanded UDA men who will get the cash.'

The UDA and UVF played a leading role in keeping this
year's loyalist marching season relatively quiet. An
example of this occurred on the eve of the Twelfth in
Belfast's Lower Shankill area. Residents of the estate
where Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair once reigned supreme reported
that youths had stolen a large amount of republican
paraphernalia commemorating the 1981 hunger strike,
including posters depicting the 10 hunger strikers as well
large 'H' symbols representing the H-blocks where they

When the UDA learnt that the hunger strike posters and
flags were about to be burnt on top of a bonfire at
midnight, the organisation's West Belfast 'brigadier' drove
to the estate and ordered the youths to take down the H-
block symbols and pictures of the dead prisoners.

Despite recent attempts to calm tensions, especially on
Belfast's sectarian interfaces, units of the UDA remain
deeply involved in crime including drug dealing and
racketeering. Those on the UDA's Inner Council who favour
disbanding the organisation say that creating long term
jobs for their members is a sure way of dissuading more ex-
paramilitaries from joining the 'ordinary' criminal

Meanwhile in a keynote speech later today, the Secretary of
State will say that the republican movement should allow
its communities to work with the police even while it is
still debating whether or not to join the North's Policing

Speaking at a summer school in Glenties, Co Donegal, Hain
will say: 'While we work to resolve the issue of
devolution, I would strongly urge the republican leadership
to draw a distinction between constitutional endorsement of
the structures of policing and support for the practical
service of policing in the community.

'There should be no part of Northern Ireland where people
are not actively encouraged to report crimes to the police
so that they can take action. There should be no community
where elected representatives do not routinely talk to PSNI

Hain will also talk of the prospect of a meeting between
himself, the Chief Constable and Sinn Fein over
republicans' concerns about policing. Referring to the
Patten policing reforms, he will tell republicans: 'The
PSNI and the government are ready to take part in a mature
and sustained dialogue with the Sinn Fein leadership this
autumn on any outstanding concerns about the change
programme. There is no reason to delay this engagement on
practical issues.'

Last week the government introduced legislation into the
House of Commons that would eventually allow for policing
and justice powers to be transferred to a revived Northern
Ireland Assembly. One of Sinn Fein's key demands is that
one of its ministers takes control of either a future
policing or justice ministry - a move that will be bitterly
opposed by a majority of unionists and likely to break any
deal aimed at restoring devolution.

In his speech today the Northern Ireland Secretary will
call for deeper north-south co-operation. But with a view
to not alienating unionists and loyalists, Hain will stress
that this should be 'practical rather than constitutional'.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has also sought to calm loyalist
fears about joint British/Irish sovereignty over Northern
Ireland. Following a meeting with the UPRG in Dublin last
week, Ahern said the Irish government had no plans to
jointly rule the north with the UK and that the Good Friday
Agreement remained the template for progress.


Paisley ‘Won’t Be Leader For Long’

Liam Clarke

IAN PAISLEY, the Democratic Unionist party leader, has told
senior party colleagues he will not remain for long as
Northern Ireland first minister and will step aside within
weeks of taking the post.

This would allow Paisley, 80, to impose his own conditions
on any power-sharing deal with Sinn Fein, and would reduce
the amount of time he would have to spend working with
Martin McGuinness, likely to be Sinn Fein’s nominee as
deputy first minister.

Once a power-sharing deal is concluded, Paisley could
expect to be offered a seat in the House of Lords where his
wife Eileen is already a member. The task of working with
Sinn Fein would then fall to Paisley’s successor, probably
Peter Robinson. Other possible successors are Nigel Dodds,
the MP for North Belfast or Jim Allister, the party’s MEP,
both of whom have grassroots support and are considered
more hardline than Robinson.

Senior DUP figures say that a deal with Sinn Fein would
risk splitting the party unless Paisley approved it before
he retired. “Anyone else who concluded a deal would be open
to the accusation of selling out the doc’s legacy,” said a
party insider. “It would be messy.”

Senior figures say Paisley’s apparent rejection of a power-
sharing deal last week should be seen as an attempt to
drive a hard bargain to ensure his party stays together. He
wants his legacy to be peace for Northern Ireland without
sacrificing the unionist cause.

Last week Paisley appeared to rule out a deal when he told
a gathering of the Independent Orange Order in Portrush
that no unionist would go into partnership with IRA/Sinn
Fein. “They are not fit to be in partnership with decent
people. They are not fit to be in the government of
Northern Ireland and it will be over our dead bodies if
they ever get there,” he said.

British government, SDLP and DUP sources all maintain
Paisley left enough wriggle room to reach a deal with Sinn
Fein if the circumstances are right. oSinn Fein is to be
invited to meet with the Police Service of Northern Ireland
(PSNI) this autumn in a move designed to win party support
for the force.

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary, will issue the
invitation in a speech in Donegal this evening. “The PSNI
and the government are ready to take part in a mature and
sustained dialogue with the Sinn Fein leadership this
autumn on any outstanding concerns about the change
programme,” Hain will say.

When the House of Commons rises on July 25 the Northern
Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which allows for
the devolution of policing, will pass into law. This will
allow for co-operation between the police and Sinn Fein.

In recent weeks Hain has received intelligence reports that
Sinn Fein and the IRA are moving towards practical
acceptance of the PSNI.


Hain Will Call For Cross-Party Co-Operation

14/07/2006 - 18:02:23

Peter Hain is to make a fresh appeal for all parties in the
North to sign up to a shared future in policing and other
aspects of society.

With the North’s 108 Assembly members facing a November 24
deadline for restoring power sharing at Stormont, British
government sources said the Northern Ireland Secretary was
preparing a speech which would stress the need for
unionists and nationalists to move away from political

It is understood the speech will stress economic powers in
Asia and elsewhere will not wait for Northern Ireland’s
politicians and community leaders to sort out their

A source said: “Peter will say the days when Northern
Ireland politicians could act as if the world will stop
whilst they sort out their differences are long since gone.

“Economic powers around the world will simply not wait
while Northern Ireland leaders pander to their
constituencies. They have to move on.

“He will stress the need for politicians to carve out a
shared future in areas like education and policing as it is
no longer sustainable for the economy to fund the costs of
a divided society.”

With Northern Ireland’s politicians expected to focus on
policing in September, Mr Hain will stress the need for all
sides to support policing.

The Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists have insisted
there is little point in it sharing power with Sinn Féin if
Gerry Adams’ party will not recognise the PSNI as the
legitimate force of law and order.

Sinn Féin has argued if there is to be progress, the DUP
must commit itself to a date when policing and justice
powers can be transferred from Westminster to a future
Stormont government.

In what was interpreted as a positive move this week, Sinn
Féin’s Gerry Kelly revealed he held direct talks with the
PSNI ahead of Wednesday’s Twelfth of July Orange Order
return parade past the nationalist Ardoyne area of north
Belfast to ensure it was trouble free.

The parade passed off peacefully as British soldiers stayed
off Belfast’s streets for the first time in 35 years on the
Twelfth of July.

It is understood the Northern Ireland Secretary will also
stress the need for the North’s education system to be
shared between the two communities, focussing on what
unites them rather than divides them.

Sources said he would also emphasise the need to face up to
economic, educational and social change around the world,
especially from growing economies in India and China.


McDonald - Dialogue Is Key To Progress

Published: 15 July, 2006

Sinn Féin Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald speaking during a
meeting of a special day long meeting of the party’s Ard
Chomahirle in Dublin today said

“This morning we received an update from local areas on
what happened across the Six Counties over the 12th. I
want to commend all those who were involved in ensuring
that the day passed off relatively peacefully – the
dialogue groups, residents and the hundreds of republican
activists who were on the ground at flashpoint areas
throughout the day.

“One of the key reasons why the 12th passed off so
peacefully this year is because of the success in creating
conditions for dialogue in local communities. People
realised and accepted that they had to start talking.

“The DUP’s stance is out of step with this. They played no
part whatsoever in the dialogue and work which took place
leading up to the 12th. Indeed if the DUP attitude had
prevailed the 12th would have been a disaster.

“Nobody should be surprised at the rhetoric from Ian
Paisley this week. However his 12th speech should be a
wake up call to the two governments that they cannot
sleepwalk back into the talks in September. We should
learn lessons from what happened on the 12th and move

Today meeting is part of the review into Sinn Féin’s
participation in the Hain Assembly. The review will
conclude at the end of the summer’


Peers And MPs Join Fight For Natwest Three

By George Jones Christopher Hope and Alec Russell in

(Filed: 12/07/2006)

The Government faced an unprecedented display of opposition
in both Houses of Parliament last night to the extradition
to the United States of three former NatWest bankers on
fraud charges.

In the Lords, peers defied the Government to vote 218 to
116, a majority of 102, in favour of blocking the future
extradition of British citizens until the US Senate
ratified a new treaty.

Christopher Hope (left), Russell Hotten and City Editor
Damian Reece deliver the petition to the Home Office

Although the vote will not prevent the extradition tomorrow
morning, the heavy defeat was highly embarrassing for the

In the Commons, MPs cheered Michael Martin, the Speaker,
when he agreed to a demand for a three-hour emergency
debate to be held today on the plight of the NatWest Three.

Public unease was demonstrated yesterday when The Daily
Telegraph handed in an open letter to John Reid, the Home
Secretary, signed by 7,400 readers, urging him to intervene
in the case.

Business leaders are outraged that America has failed to
ratify its side of new extradition rules, allowing US
authorities to extradite Britons without offering evidence.

David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby are accused
of an £11 million fraud in which their former employers,
NatWest, were advised to sell part of an Enron company for
less than it was worth.

The US Senate will hold a hearing next week on the US-UK
extradition treaty. The treaty is in limbo awaiting
ratification by the Senate.

Lawyers for the three men said they were "miles apart on
valuation" of bail terms with the Houston authorities,
which are thought to be asking for $1million each and the
deeds to their houses.


(The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales
is the largest professional accountancy body in Europe with
over 128,000 members.)

ICAEW Statement On The UK-US Extradition Treaty

Institute chief executive makes statement

Commenting on today’s emergency debate in the House of
Commons on the UK-US Extradition Treaty, Eric Anstee, Chief
Executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants said:

“The ability of UK companies to do business with confidence
in the US is in danger as a result of the way in which this
extradition treaty is being used. I am seriously concerned
at the potential consequences for companies and
particularly for their UK-based advisors who, unwittingly,
could end up implicated in US court proceedings without any
burden of proof on the part of the US authorities.

"I would urge the Government to look again at the treaty.”


NatWest 3: Poor Relations

By Dominic Rushe in New York and Richard Fletcher

America’s treatment of the NatWest Three has given
businesses in the UK the jitters

AS police loaded Neil Coulbeck’s body into a coroner’s van
on Thursday in bright afternoon sunshine, the nation was
watching. The apparent suicide of a former senior executive
at the Royal Bank of Scotland was big news.

Only weeks before the 53-year-old died, he had been
interviewed by the FBI in connection with the high-profile
prosecution of three former NatWest bankers — all
colleagues of his — who were deported to America last week
to face charges of fraud relating to the collapse of Enron,
the American energy group.

The fate of the “NatWest Three”, whose dealings with Enron
were first revealed by The Sunday Times four years ago, had
become a national cause célèbre. By chance, on the
afternoon Coulbeck’s body was discovered, MPs were holding
an emergency debate on the controversial extradition treaty
used to deport the trio.

During the heated three-hour debate, the treaty was
attacked by all sides, the British government lambasted for
failing to protect its citizens and the US accused of
harbouring “IRA murderers”.

Parliament was not the only place offering support for the
three bankers — Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary
Mulgrew. In the past few weeks many leading businessmen
have spoken out in support of the trio and attacked the
extradition treaty. A group of more than 100 even marched
down Whitehall to protest.

The special, and lucrative, relationship between the
business communities in Britain and America is under
strain. Many business leaders think the special
relationship has died with Coulbeck, and that anti-American
feeling — once the preserve of the chattering classes — has
spread to the business world.

America remains Britain’s largest single market — despite
the growth of China and India — and is still the leading
destination for British overseas investment. In 2005,
British exports to America topped £30 billion (€43.5

Of the top 20 companies in the FTSE 100 index, 18 have
American businesses generating sales of more than £7.5
billion. Of the other two, Tesco is about to open a
convenience-store chain on the West Coast — which leaves
only Lloyds TSB with no interests on the other side of the

Despite the close links, pictures of the NatWest bankers
being led away to an American jail in leg irons and
handcuffs have sent a shiver down the spines of UK plc.

Sir Digby Jones, former director-general of the CBI,
believes the case of the NatWest Three has sparked
widespread concern in British boardrooms.

“A lot of businesses are jittery about doing business with
America and are reviewing their relationships. America is
abusing its relationship with the British. It is a very
worrying time,” he said.

Jones insists he is not anti-American — but he does have
concerns about the system. “America has an anti-business
judicial system that hands out disproportionate sentences,”
he said. “The fear is that the NatWest Three will not get a
fair trial in Houston.”

The three are only the latest in a string of British
businessmen who have fallen foul of aggressive American
prosecutors. When Nigel Potter heard the FBI was
investigating the company he ran, his first action was to
open the books.

The 59- year-old former boss of Wembley, the leisure group,
was convinced he had nothing to hide.

Along with his American colleague Dan Bucci, he was accused
of concocting a scheme to bribe a government official.

The payment, to a law firm part owned by the official, had
been suggested by Bucci. Potter had sought legal advice and
taken the idea to his board. The plan was rejected and the
payment never made.

Potter flew to America voluntarily to answer the charges.
He is now serving three years in a Pennsylvania jail.

In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, he said he had
assumed being British would help his case. Prominent
British businessmen flew in to act as character witnesses
for him — but to no avail. As far as the courts were
concerned, he was just another foreigner caught trying to
corrupt corporate America.

Even in jail, Potter has found little evidence of a special
relationship — some prisoners have never heard of England.
“There is no special relationship as far as I can see,” he

America’s treatment of Potter, the NatWest Three or the
British in general is not personal. The American legal
system is increasingly international in its ambitions and
after the scandals at Enron, WorldCom and other companies,
the international corporate world has been one of its prime

“America sees itself as the law enforcer of the world,”
said Douglas McNabb, a Houston-based lawyer who advised the
NatWest Three.

But the differences between the American and British legal
systems come as a shock to any businessman unlucky enough
to face prosecution in the US. Conviction rates — and
sentences — for white-collar crime are far higher in
America than in Britain.

The extradition and prosecution of British businessmen is
one of the more high-profile ways in which the post-Enron
world has become a minefield for foreigners doing business
in America.

After the collapse of Enron, the government introduced the
Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules. These are meant to make
sure executives are more accountable for their actions. The
knock-on effect has been a big rise in costs.

According to a survey by Financial Executives International
of 217 companies with revenues of more than $5 billion (€4
billion), the cost of compliance was an average of $4.4m.
All the big scandals Sarbanes-Oxley was meant to address
occurred in American companies. But foreign firms that have
shares listed on American exchanges must also comply with
the rules.

The cost has led to a sharp drop in overseas companies
listing in America. From January to May this year there
were just 15 listings on the New York stock exchange and
Nasdaq. In Britain, lawyers warn that the recent
extraditions and prosecutions should ring alarm bells —
even among those who have only peripheral dealings with

This is because American prosecutors are willing to use a
quirk in the law to pursue individuals who would normally
fall outside their jurisdiction. The quirk is found in
America’s wire-fraud laws, which have been used in the case
of the NatWest Three and in the prosecution of other
British executives.

Wire-fraud is a sub-section of America’s law on mail-fraud,
which makes it an offence to devise a scheme to defraud
people or companies, and then to further or implement that
scheme by communicating it through the mail or — in the
case of wire-fraud — by telephone, e-mail or fax. The law
is a firm favourite of those who pursue white-collar

“Wire fraud is our Stradivarius, our Colt 45, our
Louisville Slugger, our Cuisinart and our true love,”
according to the American Criminal Law Review.

It has worrying implications for British executives.
According to legal experts, they could be ensnared if their
e-mails happened to be routed through an American server —
even if the underlying offence had no connection with

“I think this is a wake-up call to business people in
Britain about the potential dangers of long-arm
jurisdiction by the American authorities. I suspect most
people in Britain do not even know wire-fraud and mail-
fraud exist, yet these tend to be the offences most often
used by America in extending its reach into other
jurisdictions,” said Dorian Drew, senior associate at the
financial-services arm of the City law firm Norton Rose.

Executives have little chance of avoiding communications
with America, so they should make themselves aware of the
consequences of their actions, said Drew.

“The question for British business people is what can they
do to avoid communicating by e-mail, fax, letter or
telephone with America. Of course, they can’t, so they have
to be more aware of what the implications are of what they
are doing, not only with regard to UK legislation, but also
American legislation. It is difficult and it is an area
that has huge personal ramifications.”

For many of Britain’s largest companies with extensive
interests in the US, the zeal of American prosecutors is
causing increasing concern.

BP, for example, faces a criminal and civil investigation
after allegations that traders at the company cornered and
manipulated the American market for propane heating gas.

Meanwhile, British Airways is the subject of two
investigations by the US Department of Justice. One, which
has been going on for more than six months, concerns
charges for carrying cargo. In the other, the justice
department and the European Union are investigating alleged
price fixing by a group of airlines, including British
Airways, with the focus of the investigation reported to be
fuel surcharges and other extras added to cargo customers’

A number of leading chief executives are said to have met
Tony Blair in recent weeks to raise their concerns.

But American officials reject suggestions the special
relationship had been damaged by the spate of extraditions.

“I don’t think it has,” said David Johnson, deputy chief of
mission at the American embassy in London.

He said American regulators had not acted outside their
jurisdiction. “In each case I think the US was the absolute

The US-UK business relationship is vital for both
countries, he said. “We are each other’s largest foreign
investors. Every day about 1m go to work in America for UK-
owned companies, and the figure is the same in the UK for
American-owned companies.”

He argued that the actions of American prosecutors would
actually enhance the attractiveness of American and British
markets to investors.

“Both countries’ financial markets are based on the
confidence that shareholders and investors have that they
will be protected from wrongdoing. So when governments on
either side of the Atlantic police those markets, it helps
to promote their integrity.”


THE jailing of Nigel Potter, former chief executive of
Wembley, and the extradition of the Natwest Three have sent
ripples of concern through British boardrooms.

‘A number of our British members have expressed serious
concern — for example, about the level of evidence required
to extradite British citizens under the treaty, believing
that these are unsatisfactory,’ said Peter Hunt, managing
director of British American Business, which has 3,000
member firms in the US and UK.

Companies can insure against such risks. Most medium-sized
and large companies will provide their senior managers with
“directors and officers” insurance’.

Typically, such policies will provide protection against
personal claims made under employment, health and safety,
criminal or environmental laws.

John Curran, a partner in the insurance practice of
Clifford Chance, said: ‘These policies will normally cover
individuals for the cost of defending criminal proceedings,
but some policies exclude proceedings in America. Companies
may want to review that exclusion in the light of apparent
readiness of American prosecutors to look overseas.

‘They will also want to check that the costs of resisting
extradition proceedings in Britian are covered because
until now the need for that cover hasn’t been widely
contemplated by companies or their insurers and it may not
be clear from the policy terms that such costs are


Catholic Church, School Attacked

By Jonathan McCambridge
14 July 2006

There was outrage today after vandals went on the rampage
destroying windows at a Catholic church and school in
Glengormley - the second attack within a week.

Police were called to a report of criminal damage at St
Mary's on the Hill church last night. Sixteen large windows
were smashed at the church on Thursday evening and 25
windows at the neighbouring school.

Police have arrested three juveniles aged between eight and
10 over the attack.

Last weekend more than 10 windows at St Mary on the Hill
Primary School were broken in a similar attack. Parish
priest Father Dan Whyte said he believed that attack was
carried out by loyalists.

Superintendent Will Kerr said schools were more vulnerable
during the summer months when they are unoccupied for large
amounts of time.

He said: "The impact of criminal damage such as broken
windows and graffiti can have a detrimental effect on
schools and churches, causing much needed funding to be
spent on repairing this mindless damage instead of on

"This church and school have been targeted in the past and
due to these previous incidents local officers have been
closely monitoring the area.

"These arrests were as a result of a timely and proactive
response by the local crews and we want to make it clear
that we are concentrating resources and working closely
with the local community to help combat this type of anti-
social activity.

"We will not tolerate these completely senseless and
mindless act of wanton destruction."

Superintendent Kerr urged people to report any criminal
damage or any suspicious activity they may observe in their

He added: "We would also like to highlight how important it
is for parents to be aware of where their children are, who
they are with and what they are doing when they are not at

SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland said: "I am very
distressed and disappointed that this could have happened
twice within a week.

"I would urge community leaders and parents in the area to
take some sort of control to help and ensure this sort of
attack comes to an end."

Police in Newtownabbey can be contacted on 0845 600 8000 or
people can ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


Arsonists Burn Down Orange Hall

An Orange hall in County Armagh has been extensively
damaged by fire.

The Fire and Rescue Service said it was believed that
arsonists were responsible for the blaze at Kilmore Orange
Hall outside Lurgan on Friday.

Spokesman Eugene McNally said the building's meeting hall
had been totally destroyed despite having been "very, very
well secured".

It is the third time the hall has been attacked and
severely damaged by arsonists.

Fire crews were called to the blaze at 2315 BST on Friday.
The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on Orange
halls in the past week.


Mr McNally said entry to Kilmore Orange Hall would have
been difficult because the windows were bricked up.

"The only way the fire started was because the culprits
managed to break in through the roof and pour an
accelerant, which we believe to be petrol, down through the
roof and set fire to it."

The DUP's David Simpson said the hall had been rebuilt
after previous fires.

"When you have something you have put money into over the
years and see it destroyed within 30 minutes, it's a
devastating blow," said.

"But as I've said before, the people have said it will be
rebuilt and that message will go out and if it happens
again, it will be rebuilt again because they will not be
put out of this area."


John O'Dowd of Sinn Fein described the attack as "wrong and

"Sectarianism, irrespective of its source, or who or what
it is directed against, is wrong and I have no hesitation
in condeming this attack," he said.

"Those involved need to desist from this type of

The SDLP's Dolores Kelly also condemned the burning of the
Orange hall.

"The people who did this are trying to drive us back into
confrontation and we must not let them," she said.

"It is sad there are still those who live in our community
who wish to stir up sectarian hatred."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/15 09:57:43 GMT


PSNI Accused Over Butcher Street Incidents

SINN FEIN have accused the PSNI of 'over reacting' to
sporadic rioting that followed the return of Orange Order
marchers on the Twelfth evening.

Following the marchers return a small crowd gathered at
Butcher Gate and there was some stoning of police vehicles
in the Diamond.

Several petrol bombs were also thrown in the Society Street
area during incidents that continued for some time.

A car was burned in the middle of Fahan Street before the
police moved into the Bogside and dispersed the small

A police spokesperson said: "From about 5.30pm, police
received reports of groups of youths gathering in the
Cityside and shortly afterwards received reports of youths
throwing bottles at each other in Artillery Street and on
the city wall.

"During the evening vehicles were damaged at Carlisle Road,
the Diamond and Fahan Street. One car was set on fire at
Fahan Street

"Attempts were also made to hijack two cars and block the
road in the Fahan Street/Rossville Street area, but their
owners recovered them.

"During the evening dozens of petrol bombs were thrown at
police officers, who also came under stoning attack. Stones
were also thrown over the city walls from Fahan Street
towards the Memorial Hall.

"Community representatives who tried to calm tensions were
threatened by some elements in the crowd.

"During the evening police seized and destroyed several
stockpiles of empty bottles.

"One man was arrested for riotous behaviour. He was later
released pending police reports.

"At all times police responded in an appropriate and
proportionate manner in the face of scores of rioting
youths intent on causing injury and damage to property," a
police spokesman said.

Police accused

However, Sinn Féin Councillor Peter Anderson has said that
the PSNI 'totally overreacted' to what he described as 'a
small crowd of children and youths at Butchers Gate.'

Councillor Anderson said: "Although these youths and
children were out of order the response by the PSNI was
over the top and caused a reaction in which community
activists struggled to contain.

"To deploy so many heavy armoured land rovers into the
Bogside and having them mount pavements and chase children
only added to the tensions in the area. It seems that the
PSNI are content to move en masse into the Bogside to allow
an Orange Parade in the city.

"The PSNI seem intent on using the Bogside as a training
arena or playground and are therefore putting local
residents' lives and property at risk."

He added: "I would also ask those who were encouraging
young children to create trouble what was the political
significance of what they were inciting. Again local
residents have borne the brunt of these actions with a
burnt out car and broken glass strewn across the Bogside.

"It is only a matter of time before a child is killed
either by falling under the wheels of a speeding PSNI jeep,
by plastic bullet or by being doused in petrol and those
encouraging the trouble need to take responsibility for

Economy damaged

Meanwhile SDLP Councillor Colum Eastwood has said that
those involved in the rioting had done nothing for the
image of the city.

He said: "I was present on Wednesday evening in the Diamond
as these incidents and while many of us had hoped that the
Twelfth could pass off peacefully it seems it was not to

"I had been in contact with various groups across the city
to try and ensure that there were no incidents but
unfortunately a small minority decided they were going to
cause trouble."

He added: "Those behind this trouble have contributed
nothing to the image of this city. Here we had a July
afternoon and some tourists were forced to spend it locked
behind shutters in a local hotel while young thugs rioted

"Derry does not need this sort of behaviour and it serves
no purpose other than to damage our own economy."

14 July 2006


NY Mayor To Meet North’s Politicos

By Barry McCaffrey

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to meet
northern politicians when he arrives in Ireland later this

Mr Bloomberg, who is tipped to run for the US presidency in
2008, has been invited by the Irish government.

During his visit he will meet senior government officials
in Dublin before travelling to Ballymote in Co Sligo to
unveil a monument to Brigadier General Michael Corcoran in
honour of New York’s famed ‘Fighting 69th Regiment’.

Although he is not expected to visit Northern Ireland it is
understood he has invited all of the main political leaders
in the north to meet him.

It is expected that Mr Bloomberg, pictured, who wields
considerable power as mayor of the world’s leading city,
will seek the Republican nomination to run for the US

If successful he is likely to face a contest against
Senator Hillary Clinton, the wife of former US President
Bill Clinton.

A spokesman for the New York mayor said his full itinerary
would not be made public until he arrived in Ireland on
July 28. He is expected to travel to Dublin by private jet.

The 64-year-old is one of the richest people in America
with an estimated personal fortune of $5 billion.

His wealth allowed him to donate more than $200 million to
John Hopkins University where he studied electrical

He spent $130 million of his own money during his campaigns
to become mayor.


SF, DUP Will Share Power: Durkan

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has said he believes the DUP will
eventually share power with Sinn Fein.

Mr Durkan dismissed remarks by DUP leader Ian Paisley at a
Twelfth demonstration that Sinn Fein would be in government
"over our dead bodies".

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics, the SDLP
leader said self-interest would drive the two parties
toward government.

He said Sinn Fein and the DUP both had a "passion for

"Both of these parties are parties who have a passion and
an instinct for power, albeit from the wrong reasons," Mr
Durkan said.

"But I can see them sharing power.

"What I am concerned about though is I want to see them
sharing power with the rest of us in a proper accountable
way as provided for by the Good Friday Agreement."


On Wednesday, Mr Paisley warned: "No unionist who is a
unionist will go into partnership with IRA/Sinn Fein.

"They are not fit to be in partnership with decent people.
They are not fit to be in the government of Northern
Ireland and it will be over our dead bodies if they ever
get there."

In response, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said no-one
should be surprised at the remarks, which he said were more
of a challenge to the British government than to his own

Premiers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern have warned Northern
Ireland's politicians that failure to meet the 24 November
deadline to restore devolution would put the assembly in
cold storage.

The assembly is on summer recess until 4 September,
although the Preparation for Government Committee is
continuing to meet.

In May, assembly members took their seats at Stormont for
the first time since October 2002, when devolved government
was suspended over allegations of a republican spy ring.
The court case that followed collapsed.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/15 10:05:03 GMT


Opin: Paisley Keeping His Options Open


In the recent past, prolonged violent disturbances over the
July 12 period have had serious implications for the wider
political process.

As this year's Twelfth has been among the most incident-
free in decades, logic suggests that the prospects for a
future political accommodation should have been boosted to
at least some degree.

Logic, unfortunately, usually plays little part in our
inter-party dialogue, and the message from Ian Paisley on
Wednesday was as negative as ever.

He told an Independent Orange demonstration in Co Antrim
that any form of compromise with Sinn Fein would be a
“final and irreversible disaster”.

According to Mr Paisley: “There is only one way we can walk
and it is the safe path of no surrender to the enemy.”

Outsider observers might conclude that the DUP leader was
writing off any chance of restoring devolution, but the
reality, as is so often the case, is that he was talking
tough but keeping his options open.

This is the same Mr Paisley who went from demanding the
full disbandnemt of Sinn Fein to the brink of an overall
deal with the same party less than two years ago.

It is the same Mr Paisley who insists that he will do
business with anyone except Sinn Fein but in 1974 was
prepared to bring down the power-sharing executive simply
because it included SDLP and Alliance representatives.

It is also the same Mr Paisley who just a couple of years
later promised he would retire from public life if another
loyalist strike did not succeed, only to change his mind
when the protest comprehensively flopped.

His career has been littered with contradictions and U-
turns, but what must be accepted is that he now speaks for
the majority of unionists.

Having achieved that position, and decisively seen off his
old rivals in the Ulster Unionist Party, he has the
opportunity to be appointed as first minister – to all
intents and purposes the premier of Northern Ireland –
before he finally retires.

He plainly wants the job, but he cannot decide whether or
not the price – which is a partnership with Sinn Fein at
Stormont – is worth paying.

The odds are that he will again lose his nerve in the
closing stages, and opt to keep himself and his party out
in the cold.

However, it is what he quietly tells the two governments in
the run-up to the November deadline, and not what he shouts
from the back of a lorry in Portrush on the Twelfth, which
will tell the tale.


Opin: American Court Is Right Place For Natwest Three

Simon Jenkins

Three former NatWest employees extradited from Britain were
bailed on Friday by a court in Texas on charges related to
the Enron affair. The relevant law, the Extradition Act
2003, is deficient and should be changed but that is not
reason enough to stay their trial. They are a bad example
of the act’s failings since there is a clear case for them
to answer, and in America. The Enron scandal, one of the
biggest frauds in history, ruined the lives of tens of
thousands of people. No British court found in favour of
the trio’s plea to stay at home.

Britain is widely regarded as liberty hall to financial
malpractice, as its auction houses long knew to their
advantage. Yet Britain’s treatment of foreigners in its
legal system is a disgrace, holding them in prison for long
periods without trial and jailing 500 West Indian women,
almost all first offenders, for being dupes of Jamaican
drug dealers. Britain can hardly criticise American courts
on these grounds. Nor do most of these people have “pro
bono” public relations firms depicting them as humble
citizens with tear-stained families. They have no costly
lawyers or sudden parliamentary concern or “white-collar
crime” epithets to launder their case. They cannot cry
“civis Britannicus sum” and work Fleet Street’s financial
pages into a lather of righteous indignation.

Extradition makes hard law because legal systems differ and
proceedings can turn into prejudicial pre-trials. Yet
terrorism and commercial crime are so international that
some framework is required to avoid states becoming havens
for each other’s crooks. Hence the extradition treaty
passed in the illiberal aftermath of 9/11.

The act is depicted by the British government as an even-
handed adjustment to what had been a dilatory process, when
judges and Home Office played ping-pong with people’s lives
for an average delay of 30 months. The old requirement that
a court hear prima facie evidence of a case before allowing
extradition was scrapped for the signatories of the
European Convention on Extradition in 1991. What happened
in 2003 was that America and 20 other countries joined the
convention. It was not another case of Tony Blair’s
subservience to Washington. The same fast-track procedure
applied across Europe and even to Russia.

The hiccup in the treaty is that it gave America special
treatment because its constitution protects its citizens
from summary arrest without good cause proven in court.
This means that while an American court can merely demand,
with documentation, a person’s extradition from Britain, it
will hold hearings into requests for extradition from

Defenders of the NatWest Three — a bizarre coalition of
City figures, Tory MPs, anti-Americans and liberals — are
incensed by this manifest asymmetry. They see it as a
licence for the ever-lengthening arm of American regulators
to trawl the world for anyone who might have breached their
laws. They point out that almost all international finance
now touches America, and extradition abroad is not just
another trial but interim punishment without prior hearing.
While financiers may summon publicists, win bail and be
guaranteed a fair trial, others may enjoy no such privilege
and suffer long periods of hardship away from home when
possibly innocent.

Besides, the NatWest Three also point out that the treaty
only “goes into force upon the exchange of the instruments
of ratification”. While parliament has ratified it the US
Congress has not, under pressure from the Irish-American
lobby, long averse to extraditing IRA terrorist suspects.
The law is thus lopsided in its terms and its

There is no doubt that America scores low in the league
table of international legality. Indeed with American
agents picking up all and sundry from foreign streets and
airport lounges and “rendering” them to torturing states,
the perils facing British bankers might seem merely the tip
of an iceberg. Beneath it extend the horrors of Abu Ghraib,
Guantanamo and other juridical limbos possibly awaiting a
long line of victims of some casual FBI tip-off.
Washington’s palpable double standard in matters of
personal liberty has polluted the image of its judicial

But the British bankers are going to a system of federal
justice that is not beholden to the Pentagon or the White
House, indeed one struggling to recover some credibility
after the Enron saga (in which a number of Britons,
including Lord Wakeham, became embroiled). All who have
followed Enron, seen the remarkable documentary on it and
read the statement of claim against the NatWest Three would
accept that they have a serious case to answer. The men
themselves deny any wrongdoing.

As Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, said, the alleged
crime was not confined to Britain nor were its putative
victims only British. It involved three men pocketing $7m
in the Cayman Islands in a $20m deal involving money from
both NatWest and Enron. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and
other agencies declined to prosecute, variously and
reportedly because they thought the case would not pass a
jury, because NatWest would not co-operate for fear of
airing its dirty linen in public and because the SFO agreed
that Houston would conduct Enron-related litigation.
Deplorable as it may be that British financial regulation
is so inadequate, these reasons seem plausible.

The NatWest Three were dealing directly with Andrew Fastow,
one of the chief Enron conspirators and now in jail. With
the principal evidence, including all electronic
communications, collated in Texas, there was clearly prima
facie evidence for extraditing the three even under the
previous treaty. That America has yet to ratify the 2003
one is a good debating point, but hardly substantive to the

Nor were the three somehow victims of summary justice.
Magistrates heard them. They were granted leave to appeal
to the High Court, where Lord Justice Laws found the case
“properly triable in the US courts”. They were turned away
by both the House of Lords and the European Court of Human
Rights. Britain would not try them, America would. I am
sure if the roles were reversed Britons would take the same
view. British citizens can hardly complain when American
prosecutors are more assiduous at guarding their joint
interests than their own regulators.

The morals to be drawn from the NatWest/Enron case are
many. The 2003 treaty was undoubtedly lax in protecting
individual rights. Britain and others should have demanded
that foreign citizens enjoy the same right to preliminary
hearing as is enjoyed by Americans. This point was made by
critics of the mass of anti-terrorist legislation passed in
2003 and since. Such critics (and their columnist
supporters) were accused of “appeasing terrorism”.

If ever there were an instance of democracy dropping its
guard against authoritarianism at the bidding of
terrorists, it was in the hysterical aftermath of 9/11. The
Confederation of British Industry last week announced that
the 2003 treaty is “an affront to natural justice”. Why did
it not say so before?

The behaviour of the Tories now climbing aboard the
bandwagon has been a disgrace. Where were they to protest
against fast-track extradition in 2003? Could it be they
never thought it would apply to their constituents, only to
dodgy Muslims? Where were the self-righteous MPs and peers
now earning City dinners by re-debating the 2003 law when
they were supposedly scrutinising it three years ago? Since
then, they have passed ever more draconian statutes to jail
those involved in drugs and immigrant markets and curb free
speech and habeas corpus. Have they no sense of double
standard? That they should suddenly discover the virtues of
natural justice and the horrors of imprisonment when it
afflicts three men charged with “white-collar crime” is not
a little sickening.

Britain should revoke and renegotiate the 2003 treaty to
allow a judge to determine the place of a trans-national
trial and to require some preliminary hearing to take place
before extradition. This is yet another Blair law passed in
emotion and haste and regretted at leisure. But such a law
was passed and is in place. Even if it were revoked it
would not be much help to the NatWest Three. They were
playing in a globalised market and must accept globalised
justice, which in the matter of Enron means American
justice. They must take the rough with the smooth and
consider themselves lucky they were not charged with


Gaybo Hits Back At Critics

14/07/2006 - 14:30:30

Embattled roads safety tzar Gay Byrne today defended
himself amid calls for his resignation.

The veteran broadcaster, who heads up the Road Safety
Authority, came under pressure this week to stand down
after a shocking wave of fatal car crashes.

Some 12 people died on the roads during a 48-hour period
between Sunday and Tuesday.

But the former Late Late Show presenter, appointed to the
top role in March, insisted today the authority was making

“We are not even legally in existence yet,” he said. “But
already we have done a fair bit of work and we have a
dedicated staff.

“I would remind people that as from now, today, for
example, random breath testing is part of the legislation,
it is in and it’s up to the Garda Síochana now to enforce
that as from today.”

Earlier this week, Declan Corbett of the Corbett Court
Hotel in Co Cork, who employed two of the young victims
killed on the roads this week, called on Mr Byrne to resign
his post.

“It is Gay Byrne’s problem,” he said at the time.

“He shouldn’t have been given this job. This is the typical
(case of) 'Dublin 4 jobs for the boys'.

“A job like that should be given to somebody in rural
Ireland, somebody like Sean Óg O hAilpín that the young
people of Ireland will look up to.

“Sean Óg is a role model on and off the field. I’m asking
Gay Byrne to do the decent thing and resign,” he said.

The call for leading role models to join in the fight
against the mounting losses was echoed today by Dun
Laoghaire TD, Barry Andrews.

Top figures from the world of sport, music and the arts
should be employed to engage with and educate teenagers,
the Ógra Fianna Fáil chairperson said.

“While senior gardaí, road safety chiefs and politicians
may have good intentions in warning young drivers about the
dangers of the road their message seems to be coming across
as a lecture rather than life saving advice,” he said.

“It is important in light of the continuing tragedies that
we now re-examine how we are conveying the message.”

Mr Andrews proposed each county should have a road safety
ambassador to engage with young people rather than lecture

“The ambassadors would visit schools and clubs to meet
young people planning to learn to drive and those who have
just recently started driving,” he said.

“It is clear that we must re-examine the way we are
delivering the road safety message to young drivers and I
believe that by engaging with teenagers and those in their
early twenties we will achieve more and help save lives.”


Durkan’s Nephew Is On The Mend

By Seamus McKinney

DERRY councillor and nephew of SDLP leader, Mark Durkan who
was critically injured in a fall from a ladder at his home,
has told how he hopes to be released from hospital this

Mark H Durkan, a member of Derry city council, was admitted
to the intensive care unit of Altnagelvin hospital after he
fell while trying to climb into the family home at
Edenmount Park in Derry on Monday.

He was in a critical condition and there were fears for his
life but he has made a spectacular recovery.

Speaking from his hospital bed yesterday, Mr Durkan said he
still has no memory of the accident.

It is believed he fell from a ladder while returning from a
night out with friends.

“I have no memory whatsoever. There was no mention in other
papers of the six burglars I disturbed and that’s where the
ladder came from,” Mr Durkan joked.

He said he suffered a fractured skull. He also revealed
that it was initially believed he had broken his collar
bone but it was now believed this was an earlier sports
injury that had gone unnoticed.

“I feel much, much better. I feel more pain in my head but
that’s part of the recovering process now that the shock
has worn off,” he said.

Mr Durkan said he was overwhelmed by the public reaction to
news of his accident.

“It was very touching. It was great for my parents to get
so much support. What meant most to me was all the cards,
not just from friends and family friends but from
constituents and the public.”

The Derry councillor said he was not aware of the accident
until Tuesday afternoon when he came round from surgery.

“I woke up and I felt nothing I was doped up that much and
I had so many tubes attached.

“I thought at first it was some sort of elaborate hoax and
I wasn't really in the hospital and I was quite animate.
When I was eventually convinced I thought ‘you plonker’' he

Mr Durkan said he regretted putting his family through the
ordeal of his accident.

He also paid tribute to the nurses, doctors and other
medical staff who tended to him.

“They were great, very professional...I would recommend it
to anyone, sort of,” he said.


Bundoran Happy To Be Passed By

By Ben Lowry
15 July 2006

One of Ulster's most popular holiday resorts has begun its
first congestion-free summer, after the opening of a bypass
that has transformed the town.

Bundoran had been blighted by Sligo-to-Londonderry traffic,
which had to travel through the heart of the Co Donegal
town, along the seafront.

The new seven-mile stretch of the N15 links Bundoran to
Ballyshannon, a journey that used to take up to 45 minutes
at busy times.

Now motorists travelling to Northern Ireland can be in
Belleek in Co Fermanagh within 10 minutes. "It is a totally
different town now," said Philip McGlynn, chairman of
Bundoran Town Council.

"It is more pedestrian-friendly."

Civic leaders hope the removal of 9,000 vehicles a day will
help Bundoran fight the "tacky" label it was given in the
last edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Ireland.

But the book also noted Bundoran was "riding a new wave of
popularity as one of Europe's premier surfing spots".

The town featured in last week's edition of BBC1's Summer
Season, presented by Eamonn Holmes.

Mr McGlynn, manager of the town's Great Northern Hotel,
said that, despite the removal of through-traffic, passing
motorists were more likely to stop off now.

"Before the bypass, they were waiting for 30 minutes to
crawl through the town and were so annoyed that they didn't
want to stop."

At the opening of the £55m road in the spring, three months
early, Peter Malone, chairman of the National Roads
Authority, said Bundoran and Ballyshannon had been
"crippled" by traffic in the past.

The bypass is the latest route to be completed in the
Republic's huge road building project, with work finishing
on 13 new roads and beginning on another 15.

Many roads are coming in under budget and ahead of
schedule, unlike Northern Ireland, where many key routes
are late - if they get built at all.

Tourists travelling between Belfast and the Mournes will
get caught in the bottleneck of Ballynahinch for many years
to come, with no date for a new bypass of the Co Down town.

Other road schemes, such as Loughbrickland to Beech Hill on
the main Belfast to Dublin road, have come in late.

The Bundoran bypass is the latest new road in the
development of the Atlantic Road Corridor, from Limerick to

Other improvements include bypasses of Knock and Donegal
town and a new road through the Clar-Barnesmore Gap.


Orangemen 'Frightened Away Tourists'

SDLP claims that Belfast's big parade turned the city into
a ghost town as hotels and shops shut

Henry McDonald
Sunday July 16, 2006
The Observer

With its most expensive suite costing £600 and the water
served in the bar imported from Fiji, the new Merchant
Hotel in Belfast's trendy Cathedral Quarter has been lauded
as one of the most opulent in Europe. On the 12 and 13
July, however, its gates were shut.

The area around the building was desolate as tourists
stayed away during what the city council calls 'one of
Europe's largest cultural festivals'. Many bars,
restaurants, cafes and shops closed for 48 hours, prompting
a Belfast MP to demand a review of the impact on tourism of
the Orange Order's main parade through the city to hail
King William's victory at the 1690 Battle of the Boyne.

All the pubs in the Cathedral Quarter, except one stayed
shut until late on 13 July. The major hotels - including
the Hilton and the Radisson SAS - were unable to fill their
rooms despite the presence of 60,000 people watching the
main Orange demonstration.

The South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell described the
Twelfth as 'the only festival in the world which scares
people away'. He called for a widespread study of its
effects on tourism.

'About 90 per cent of Belfast flees the city before, during
and after the Twelfth. In addition there were virtually no
tourists on the streets. Until the nastiness and bigotry is
taken out of these parades, tourists will continue to stay
away in what is supposed to be an important date in the
holiday season,' said the SDLP MP. 'Belfast city centre was
a ghost town for 48 hours and the reason was the fear these
parades engender. On the Twelfth there are gangs of young
drunken men marauding about. That doesn't attract tourists,
it makes them feel insecure. That has to change.'

The government granted the Orange Order more than £100,000
to help it transform the parade into a 'Notting Hill style'
carnival. The order's defenders point out that the 2006
Twelfth was one of the most peaceful in years.

Lord Laird of Artigarvan helped organise floats staging
historical pageants about the Ulster Scots' past. The
Ulster Unionist peer disputed the SDLP's claims that the
Twelfth had depressed the tourist economy. 'One of our
actors in a pageant is a Catholic man from the Irish
Republic now living in Exeter. I couldn't get him a hotel
room anywhere in Belfast, and instead he had to opt for a
place in the countryside.'

He pointed to city council figures for 2005 showing that
£6m was injected into the local economy during the height
of the loyalist marching season.

'People come from all over the world to attend the main
Orange demonstration and they spend money. Let's stop being
negative and focus on the positive. We had a very peaceful
Twelfth in Belfast and things will get even better next
year,' Laird said. 'We are turning the situation around and
making the Twelfth even more family-friendly and, most
important, an event open to absolutely everyone, regardless
of their background or religion.'

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board refused to be drawn into
the row. A spokesman said: 'We must all work together, from
the largest hotel groups to the small B&B, to communities,
to ensure we are providing good value and the best

He stressed that July was becoming an increasingly
important month to attract foreign visitors. Hotel room
capacity had increased by almost 20 per cent. 'The board is
committed to encouraging more visitors and to growing
tourism figures from 1.97 million in 2005.'

On the city council website, tourists were urged to
'commemorate the 316th anniversary of the battle of the
Boyne. Experience one of Europe's largest cultural
festivals with music, street pageantry and family fun!'


Leading Article: Mayo Will Lose Out

The collapse of negotiations between Shell and the
protesters who have lined up against its Corrib gas
pipeline is an unwelcome development. The breakdown in
talks reveals an entrenching of positions by both sides in
what has already been a prolonged, bitter and costly
dispute. More importantly from a national perspective, it
sends out a damaging signal to international investors
about Ireland’s reliability as a place to do business.

The €1 billion Corrib Field venture is one of the largest
infrastructure enterprises in the state’s history and
promises hundreds of long-term jobs for the Mayo region.
Yet, following the succession of delays caused by the
protests, the project is years behind schedule. Even if all
local resistance to the undertaking disappeared
immediately, it would be at least five years before gas
could be brought onshore.

The stalemate will not have gone unnoticed by others
considering investments that could prove contentious. In an
era of heightened environmental and safety awareness,
controversies over the extraction of natural resources are
almost inevitable. But with good will and common sense on
all sides, it should be possible to resolve disagreements
relatively quickly.

The impasse at which Shell now finds itself in north Mayo,
however, suggests a social and political atmosphere that is
increasingly hostile to all but the most bland
entrepreneurial endeavour.

One year after the Rossport Five spent 94 days in jail for
refusing to obey a court order, even the outline of a
possible solution to this stand-off has not emerged. Since
the escalation of the dispute in 2005, onshore work on the
pipeline’s construction has been at a standstill.

Peter Cassells, the independent mediator appointed last
year by the energy minister, Noel Dempsey, has called off
conciliation talks, insisting that no agreement is likely
in the foreseeable future. A former secretary of the Irish
Congress of Trades Unions, Mr Cassells is one of the
country’s most skilled and experienced negotiators.
Nevertheless, after seven months of intensive shuttle
diplomacy between Shell’s headquarters in Dublin and the
protesters’ homes in Mayo, he has thrown up his hands in
exasperation. He will shortly submit a report to Mr Dempsey
suggesting possible compromises, but makes no secret of the
fact that his prognosis is bleak.

Both sides blame each other for the stalemate, but it is
clear that the protesters, cheered on by a motley crew of
supporters, have been hardening their position. Their
original requests for safety assurances about the pipeline
have given way to extravagant demands that Shell build a
new terminal to carry out gas processing offshore.

The objectors insist that the company commits to relocating
the project’s existing terminal site at Bellanaboy before
they will even consent to face-to-face meetings. They are
also demanding that the government renegotiate its contract
with Shell. The obstinate rejection by the protesters of
every conciliatory initiative proposed thus far suggests
they are interested in confrontation not compromise. Shell
will only be permitted to proceed with the Corrib gas
project in its current configuration, they say, through
“compulsion and force”. Unless the demands of the objectors
are met, they promise “further conflict in North Mayo”.

Having assumed much wider significance than the initial
dispute over safety considerations, the anti-pipeline
campaign has become a political touchstone for many
environmentalists and left-wingers. The infiltration of the
Mayo protests by Sinn Fein activists, self-styled eco
warriors and professional protesters from outside the area
has increased tensions and made a settlement much more
difficult. It is time that those with genuine local
interests at heart regained control of the protest.
Otherwise, Mayo residents will increasingly find themselves
drawn into a game in which they and the country will be the
biggest losers.

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