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September 29, 2006

Adams Confident of NI Agreement

News About Ireland & The Irish

RT 09/29/06 Adams Confident Of NI Agreement
BB 09/29/06 PSNI Reforms 'May Be Undermined'
IT 09/29/06 Pressure On Ahern Builds As Pds Seek More Details
BN 09/29/06 Dáil To Hold Special Debate On Bertie Controversy Next Week
IT 09/29/06 Opin: Ahern's Political Survival Hangs In The Balance


Adams Confident Of NI Agreement

28 September 2006 22:41

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams says he is certain the
outstanding issues about policing in Northern Ireland can
be resolved.

Mr Adams has also said that Sinn Féin is prepared to play
its part.

Policing matters are expected to form a crucial part of
negotiations between the British and Irish governments and
Northern Ireland's political parties in Scotland next

Earlier, DUP leader Ian Paisley has said that any agreement
reached on the restoration of the Stormont Assembly by the
November deadline should be put to the people of Northern
Ireland in an election.

Mr Paisley was speaking at his first visit to a British
Labour Party annual conference, which is being held in

Sitting in the conference hall alongside Labour delegates,
Mr Paisley heard the Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter
Hain, say the people of Northern Ireland were sick and
tired of having their very own political groundhog day and
it was time it came to an end.

But the DUP leader said he would not be bullied into
agreement by the deadline.


PSNI Reforms 'May Be Undermined'

Plans to reduce the number of police command units could
undermine key reforms of the Patten Report, the Oversight
Commissioner has warned.

The police have 29 district command units across Northern
Ireland - but by next year there will be just eight.

The number is being cut in response to the reform of local
government, which will see the number of local councils
drastically reduced.

However, Al Hutchinson said this could affect intelligence-

The police oversight commissioner said the re-organisation
of policing must not reverse the devolution and delegation
of decision-making to local commanders.

The proposed new super-district commands need to be very
carefully considered.

Alex Attwood


"While there is no denying the advantages offered by
merging district council areas for the sake of both
governance and policing efficiency, adapting to the Review
of Public Administration has the potential to at least
temporarily disrupt local police and community
relationships," he said.

"This was about getting policing down to the local policing

"We have local beat and community policing teams and police
in sector areas patrolling a local area working with the

"There is also an inherent risk to the decision-making
authority of the leadership of neighbourhood policing
teams, as DCU commanders grow geographically more distant
from their neighbourhoods and their local policing

In his 17th report on the implementation of the Patten
reforms, Mr Hutchinson said the proposed devolution of
policing and justice to the assembly would be a step
forward, but warned of the consequences of political

"As long as collective politics continue to fail policing
in Northern Ireland, and society fails to give its support
to policing, the success of further policing reforms will
be impeded," he said.

SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said the proposed new
"super-district commands" needed to be very carefully

"It is imperative that any adjustments to the Patten
structures of policing jump all the other Patten hurdles
around community policing, local accountability for police
conduct and performance and increasing the numbers of
police officers on the beat in local neighbourhoods," he

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/28 05:39:37 GMT


Pressure On Ahern Builds As Pds Seek More Details

Mark Hennessy, Liam Reid, Stephen Collins and Seán Mac

Bertie Ahern's future as Taoiseach is in doubt following
the ultimatum from Progressive Democrats leader and
Tánaiste Michael McDowell that he must fully explain the
1994 £8,000 Manchester payment to him by businessmen.

If Mr Ahern does not come up with a satisfactory response
in the Dáil on Tuesday - or before - the life of the Fianna
Fáil/Progressive Democrats Government will be seriously
under threat.

The Taoiseach, it is understood, revealed the existence of
the Manchester money because he believed The Irish Times
had information about it but was unable to publish the

Today, Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy and Public
Affairs Correspondent Colm Keena will appear before a
public hearing of the Mahon tribunal to answer questions on
this newspaper's report of the payments received by Mr

If the crisis worsens, Mr Ahern, who yesterday became the
longest-serving Taoiseach since Eamon de Valera, may face
pressure to quit as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil.

Meanwhile, some in the Progressive Democrats now privately
fear the crisis has gone too far and that Mr McDowell may
be forced to quit as Tánaiste and take the party out of

Last night, Mr Ahern's spokeswoman said he had "been fully
open" in the Dáil about the Manchester event and he had "no
problem" about answering further questions in the Dáil on
Tuesday. The fact that Mr Ahern's explanation will not take
place until then, though, offers him time to provide a
solution acceptable to Mr McDowell that could defuse the

However, there is a danger that the hurdle set by Mr
McDowell could leave Mr Ahern facing a Dáil humiliation
that would destroy his political credibility, inside and
outside Fianna Fáil.

The crisis dominated a meeting of last night's PD national
executive in the party's headquarters in South Frederick
Street, near Dáil Éireann, attended by Mr McDowell.

His decision to raise the political stakes yesterday
afternoon followed his unhappiness after reading a
transcript of an interview Mr Ahern gave in Cavan before

Strongly defending his conduct, Mr Ahern said he paid his
own travel to Manchester, attended the event in "a private
capacity" and not as minister for finance, and had not
asked for the money.

The money was given to him after he attended a dinner with
25 still unidentified businessmen and briefed them on the
changes then happening in the Irish economy.

Mr Ahern and Mr McDowell spoke by telephone in the early
afternoon, but before Mr McDowell had read the transcript
of the interview, which he had missed because he was
speaking in the Seanad.

Clearly concerned, Mr McDowell said at 4pm: "I have to say
that there are very significant matters of concern which
are not completely put at rest by the facts now in the
public domain."

The Taoiseach must identify all the donors involved,
explain what the money was for, and whether it was accepted
as a political, or personal donation, the PD leader said.

Though concern mounted last night, senior Fianna Fáil
Ministers clung to the hope that Mr Ahern can handle the

Asked if the Government's future was under threat, Mr
McDowell said he did not "want to put it in those terms at
all", but "accountability and credibility" had to be

Sharply critical of Mr Ahern, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny
said he had never heard of a serving minister accepting
fees for speaking at an event, either in public or private,
in his 30 years in the Dáil.

"I tell you one thing, my standard would be very different.
Were I in receipt of that payment for a speaking engagement
I would be gone by now because the Fine Gael party would
not stand for it," he said.

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte said Mr Ahern could not
"pretend that meetings like that are in a private capacity.
It is a breach of the ministerial code of conduct".

© The Irish Times


Dáil To Hold Special Debate On Bertie Controversy Next Week

28/09/2006 - 16:05:34

The Dáil is to hold a special debate next Tuesday on the
controversy surrounding payments to the Taoiseach in 1993
and 1994.
The Government agreed to the debate following rowdy scenes
in the Dáil this morning as opposition leaders criticised
Tánaiste Michael McDowell over his stance on the

The Progressive Democrats leader said yesterday that he
believed Mr Ahern's decision to accept £39,000 from wealthy
businessmen and friends was "ill-advised" and an "error of

However, he also said he accepted that the Taoiseach's
actions were "neither dishonest nor corrupt".

Speaking in the Dáil this morning, Fine Gael leader Enda
Kenny said Mr McDowell was proposing amendments to ethics
legislation that would ensure government ministers could
not receive interest-free loans.

However, he said the minister now seemed to be taking it
upon himself to decide whether such payments are right or

"Your determination of the Taoiseach's action as being an
honest error of judgement is simply incredible in your
capacity as Minister for Justice and as Tánaiste," he said.

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte, meanwhile, said it
appeared the PDs were only defending Mr Ahern in order to
keep the current government in power.

However, Mr McDowell defended his actions and said the PDs
were elected to power and would be discharging that mandate
"so that the Irish people get the kind of government they
need and deserve".


Opin: Ahern's Political Survival Hangs In The Balance

Michael McDowell's stance has raised the stakes', writes
Political Correspondent Stephen Collins

The crisis facing Bertie Ahern's leadership deepened
dramatically last night following the demand by the
Tánaiste, Michael McDowell, that the Taoiseach should
answer fundamental questions about the circumstances
surrounding the payment of £8,000 sterling to him in
Manchester in 1994 and provide a full list of the donors

The intervention of the Progressive Democrats leader, after
a day of steadily escalating pressure on the Government,
has elevated the political crisis facing the Taoiseach to a
new level and raised serious questions about his ability to
survive in office.

The previous two Fianna Fáil taoisigh, Albert Reynolds and
Charles Haughey, were forced from office by their coalition
partners, the PDs in 1992 and Labour in 1994, and Mr Ahern
is now facing the same fate unless he can come up with a
much more detailed and coherent explanation of the
Manchester donation than he has done to date.

After initially giving the Taoiseach qualified support on
Wednesday night, following his explanation of the €50,000
in payments from friends in Dublin, the Tánaiste raised the
stakes considerably with his insistence that fundamental
questions remained over the Manchester payment and his
demand for a full list of those who had contributed the

The Opposition leaders also ratcheted up the pressure by
calling Mr Ahern's continued leadership of the country into
question for the first time. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny
maintained that his party would have forced him to resign
by now if he had the same questions to answer as the
Taoiseach. Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said that the issues
now at the centre of the affair had raised the most serious
questions faced by any taoiseach since the Haughey era.

After their initial caution last week about being too
critical of the Taoiseach, in the light of the sensitive
background of his marital separation, the Opposition had
come to the conclusion yesterday afternoon that he was so
badly wounded by his handling of the affair that they could
safely attack him with no holds barred.

The harder tone adopted by the Tánaiste and the two main
Opposition leaders arose directly from the manner in which
the Taoiseach stumbled through a "doorstep" interview with
journalists in Co Cavan at lunchtime yesterday. His third
attempt to explain the circumstances surrounding his
acceptance of the £8,000 payment from Manchester
businessmen when he was minister for finance in 1994 simply
made matters much worse.

Mr Ahern's refusal to accept that it was inappropriate for
a Minister to accept a gift of such proportions from a
group of foreign businessmen, his insistence that he had
broken no tax law or code of guidelines for Ministers, and
his refusal to name the donors, all set alarm bells ringing
in Leinster House.

The place was already agog with apparent confusion over
whether there would be a further Dáil debate next week.

Michael McDowell was taking his first Order of Business as
Tánaiste and he initially withstood a barrage from the
Opposition demanding a Dáil debate next week about the
Taoiseach's problems. In the face of continuing pressure
from Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte, the Government Chief
Whip, Tom Kitt, suggested that all the party whips could
meet to arrange something. This proposition was seized on
by Mr Rabbitte and endorsed by the Tánaiste, to the clear
chagrin of some Fianna Fáil Ministers.

The meeting of whips was twice postponed and eventually Mr
Kitt offered 35 minutes for statements on Tuesday. The
Opposition accused the Government of retreating from what
had been offered earlier, but in fact it was more than they
had expected at the start of the day's business. It meant
that the Taoiseach's problems would again dominate next
week's Dáil business.

Then came news of Mr Ahern's Cavan interview and his
attempts to explain how he could speak to a group of
businessmen in Manchester about the Irish economy when he
was minister for finance and yet somehow not be there in an
official capacity.

"I did the dinner a number of times . . . often go along,
you know, to speak about what's going on in Ireland, what's
happening . . . was it official? No, it was not an official
dinner. I had no official script, my costs in Manchester I
paid myself as I always do," he said.

"So, no official script, not an official function, not in
my capacity as minister, paid my own way, spoke at the
function, and on one occasion the assembled group of about
25, plus the group who were with me from Ireland, gave me
the sum of money that I mentioned. That's all that

Following his claims that the €50,000 he got from business
friends in Dublin was a loan and not a gift, even though he
had not paid any of it back in 13 years, the claim that the
money he got in Manchester was actually a gift, but was not
given to him in his capacity as minister, further eroded
the Taoiseach's credibility.

That, in turn, prompted the Tánaiste to suggest there were
"very significant matters of concern" which must still be
clarified in relation to the payment. Ominously, Mr
McDowell added he had spoken to the Taoiseach about the
matter, and had read a transcript of the Cavan interview,
but his concerns had not been put to rest.

Whether those concerns can be put to rest in the coming
days will determine if the Government can survive, at least
in its present form. If the Taoiseach cannot assuage the
Tánaiste's concerns, some scenarios would emerge. The PDs
could pull out of Government and Mr Ahern could continue on
with the support of Independents; Mr Ahern could step down,
and be replaced by a new leader who could continue in
office with the PDs; or there could be an early general

Mr Ahern has the next few days until the Dáil resumes on
Tuesday to ensure that none of those things happens, but
his prospects of doing so now hang in the balance.

© The Irish Times

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