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August 26, 2006

SF: Parties Have No Common Purpose

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 08/26/06 Parties 'Have No Common Purpose'
BT 08/26/06 Sinn Fein Still Has Work To Do: DUP
BB 08/26/06 Workmanlike Exhanges In Assembly
BB 08/26/06 US-Irish Flight In Security Alert
BN 08/26/06 Cork-Based Garda In Channel Swim Challenge
RT 08/26/06 Kidnapped Irishman Returns Home Today


Parties 'Have No Common Purpose'

Summer meetings of the NI Assembly's Preparation for
Government Committee have not built a common purpose
amongst the parties, Sinn Fein has said.

Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd said they would not decide whether
to participate in assembly proceedings this autumn until an
internal party review in September.

Interviewed for the BBC's Inside Politics programme, Mr
O'Dowd said the DUP had yet to engage with his party.

He said at this stage, none of the parties were prepared
for government.

"In the sense of identifying areas of common purpose, the
DUP still have not directly engaged with Sinn Fein - in
fact, they won't even look directly at us across the
table," the Upper Bann assembly member said.

"We are three months or thereabouts from the government
deadline, where if the DUP don't agree to share power with
Sinn Fein, the institutions are coming down.

"So are we preparing for government? At this stage, I would
say no, we're not."

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

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

Devolved government was suspended over allegations of a
republican spy ring.

The court case that followed collapsed and one of those
involved, Denis Donaldson, later admitted working as a
British agent.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/26 08:35:33 GMT


Sinn Fein Still Has Work To Do: DUP

By Noel McAdam
26 August 2006

A senior DUP politician has recognised progress by
republicans - but warned a resolution on policing is
essential to any deal to restore the Assembly and

Gregory Campbell also said recent meetings of the Stormont
devolution 'task force' had shown encouraging signs of a
change of approach by Sinn Fein.

The East Londonderry MP said, however: "I want to
acknowledge progress where it is made. During the seventies
or eighties, at the height of the violence, not many on
either side of the border would have envisaged the IRA
giving up most of its weapons, or entering a Stormont
Assembly, or accepting that unionists could not be forced
out of Northern Ireland."

But he added: "It has to be the case now however that they
receive no reward for reaching the position they should
have been at over 30 years ago."

As the committee yesterday discussed the legacy of the
Troubles, Mr Campbell said Sinn Fein support for a DUP
proposal that all paramilitary groups should stand down
with immediate effect had encouraged many.

In addition SF's acquiescence to a motion condemning the
practice of exiling individuals from Northern Ireland and
calling for it to be ended "forthwith" could also be
welcomed, he said.


Workmanlike Exhanges In Assembly

By Mark Devenport

Political editor, BBC Northern Ireland

First of all, a quick quiz. Who is holding this

"We put our proposals last week, and they were not agreed.
I do not detect any change of heart around the table from
any party. I am not sure that putting them again this week
will add any clarity to the situation."

"I detect that people are coming closer to agreeing my
proposals, but they have not quite reached that stage."

"Do we want to park that or can we conclude on it?"

"The car park is filling up."

"We will need traffic wardens..."

"...It will have to be a multi-storey."

"Perhaps underground, even."

No, it's not a group of urban planners discussing car
parking options in Belfast or Londonderry.

Instead it's assembly members Naomi Long, Peter Robinson,
Francie Molloy, Gregory Campbell and Conor Murphy trying to
work out whether they can move forward with suggested rule
changes for the Stormont assembly, or whether they will
have to leave those issues in a metaphorical car park.

These are some of the more scintillating moments of what
has been a long summer of meetings of the Preparation for
Government Committee and its economic sub-group.

When it was first formed, the committee generated the worst
kind of headlines, failing to even agree who should chair
its proceedings.

But the government hoped that by shutting the warring
politicians in the same room to identify obstacles to
devolution some kind of common purpose might be generated.

Has it worked? Interviewed for Radio Ulster's Inside
Politics, Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd reckons it hasn't.

He says the DUP has refused to engage with his party and
hasn't taken the opportunity to find out what makes
republicans tick.

In that sense, he claims the committee has not really
prepared for government.

The DUP's Edwin Poots appears happy with that assessment,
insisting the exchanges inside the committee don't amount
to dialogue between his party and Sinn Fein.

Although the protagonists seem unimpressed, it pays to look
at what the committee has been doing in a little more

After the BBC published a leaked copy of the Hansard
transcript of an early hearing, the committee decided to
publish its proceedings on the Northern Ireland Assembly

So whilst the meetings take place behind closed doors you
can peruse every word.


Some of the exchanges are predictably combative. However
most of the proceedings have been more workmanlike.

There are a number of occasions on which the DUP and Sinn
Fein are clearly interacting. It may not be polite, but it
is a conversation.

Occasionally the parties have reached agreement.

That's perhaps no surprise when the committee's economic
sub-group is concerned - everyone recognises the need for
more industrial research and development and a reduction in
the dominance of the public sector.

However, more surprisingly, the negotiators were quick to
agree the need for a single future department of policing
and justice, dispensing with ideas that two departments
could split the responsibilities between them or that the
powers should be handed to an expanded office of the first
and deputy first ministers.

All parties backed a DUP motion calling for the stand down
of all paramilitary organisations.

But this was not quite the breakthrough it seems, as the
DUP called for immediate IRA disbandment to follow, whilst
Sinn Fein maintain that last year's IRA initiative
constituted a "stand down" and the onus is now on unionists
to use their influence to secure the standing down of the
UVF and UDA.

Peter Hain told the committee their job is not to
scrutinise government policy or cross question direct rule

However, the secretary of state is now trying to arrange a
date for a meeting where he hopes to hear what progress the
politicians have made over the summer.

Their list of achievements will be a lot shorter than the
list of outstanding obstacles.

Nevertheless, Mr Hain probably reckons making the
politicians work through their holidays was a better warm-
up for the autumn negotiations than treating the summer as
a clean break.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/26 10:51:45 GMT



US-Irish Flight In Security Alert

Passengers on a flight from the US to Ireland were
questioned by police after a bomb threat was made against
the aircraft, Irish officials said.

The aircraft landed at Shannon airport in south-west
Ireland just before 0700 GMT, and passengers and their
luggage were taken for a security inspection.

The alert, which has now ended, came after police received
a telephone call saying there were explosives on board.

The 239 passengers, en route to Dublin, were cleared to
continue their journey.

The Aer Lingus aircraft Flight 112 was searched by police
after it made the scheduled stop and landed at the airport.

No traces of explosives were found on board.

"It wasn't an emergency landing. It wasn't a red alert. The
flight was coming here anyway," said airport spokesman
Eugene Pratt.

It is the latest in a series of security alerts to affect
airlines since authorities foiled an alleged plot to blow
up US-bound flights from the UK earlier this month.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/25 09:59:42 GMT


Cork-Based Garda In Channel Swim Challenge

25/08/2006 - 17:57:44

A Cork-based garda has set himself the gruelling challenge
of crossing the English Channel.

Danny Coholan will swim more than 30 miles through its
chilly waters during the first week of September.

The 30-year-old, based at Anglesea Street Garda Station in
Cork City, is hoping to complete the journey from Dover to
France in less than 16 hours.

If successful, he will be the first Cork man and Garda to
complete the swim.

The Kinsale native will line up on August 30 to await
favourable weather and tide conditions, and has been given
until September 5 to attempt his swim.

He will raise funds for the Kinsale branch of the RNLI.

Approximately 120 people per year attempt to swim the
Channel between the months of May and October. Of these, an
average of 30 swimmers complete the task. Only 811 people
have succeeded.

Although a swimmer all his life, Gda Coholan only took up
competitive swimming just two years ago.


Kidnapped Irishman Returns Home Today

26 August 2006 10:53

The Irish engineer released by kidnappers in Nigeria
earlier this week is travelling home to Ireland later

39-year-old Bryan Fogarty was re-united with his family in
London yesterday.

He had been held for 10 days by armed men who abducted him
and five other oil industry employees from the southern
city of Port Harcourt.

The six were held in a jungle camp but were released late
on Wednesday night following negotiations between their
kidnappers and officials of the regional government.

Mr Fogarty and his family are due to arrive at Shannon
Aiport on a flight from London at half past four this

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