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September 08, 2006

DUP: SF Stance on PSNI 'Main Blockage"

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 09/08/06 DUP: SF Stance On PSNI 'Main Blockage'
BB 09/08/06 Teenage IRA Conviction Overturned
BN 09/08/06 Adams: Health Will Be Major Election Issue
BN 09/08/06 Coalition Rocked By Harney Resignation
NH 09/08/06 Opin: Inquiry Lesson We Can All Learn, Now, For Free
BT 09/08/06 Opin: The Trouble About Command Structures
TJ 09/08/06 Opin: Gerry Adams
IT 09/08/06 Paraglider (50) Dies After Crashing Into Sea
IT 09/08/06 Ploughing Contest Biggest Ever


DUP: SF Stance On PSNI 'Main Blockage'

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor


Sinn Féin's refusal to endorse the Police Service of
Northern Ireland (PSNI) is the fundamental issue blocking
agreement on restoration of Stormont, the DUP said

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson denied DUP obstruction
was the root cause of any stalemate in the run-up to the
governments' November 24th deadline for agreement on power

Admitting his party had noted yesterday's positive report
on IRA activity by the Independent Monitoring Commission
(IMC), Mr Donaldson insisted acceptance of the new policing
arrangements by republicans was a pre-requisite.

"That is the fundamental issue - do Sinn Féin support the
police and accept the rule of law?" he asked.

"[ If] they want to be in a government that is responsible
for administering the rule of law in Northern Ireland then
they have to support the rule of law, they have to support
the police. That is absolutely fundamental in any
democratic society. So far they show no indication of
crossing that line." Pressed on the IMC assertion that the
IRA was not involved in paramilitarism, Mr Donaldson said
such a shift was just "one aspect of what needs to happen",
he told BBC Radio Ulster.

"The IMC report indicates that progress has been made, we
have acknowledged that," he said, adding that the DUP was
still concerned that the IRA's command structures remain.

"Dr Paisley has suggested that the next stage should be to
form an old comrades association rather than continuing to
exist as an illegal organisation.

"But that does not overcome the difficulties [ caused by]
Sinn Féin's lack of support for the police and the rule of
law. When young people are being raped and brutalised and
abused on our streets Sinn Féin still refuses to ask people
to give information to the police to apprehend the
criminals responsible. We appear a long way from the kind
of progress that will see [ Stormont] restored." Sinn Féin
continues to assert that DUP intransigence is the
outstanding issue blocking devolution.

Fermanagh-South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew added to that
by accusing Dr Paisley's party of being loud on republican
activity while not doing enough to confront loyalist
activity in DUP constituencies.

"Those are the places where loyalists are able to run amok
and Jeffrey Donaldson doesn't seem to get as excited about
those things. The DUP cannot keep crying about what Sinn
Féin and the IRA is not doing when there is criminality
going on under their noses."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan endorsed this view at a seminar
yesterday in Co Armagh involving representatives of the
southern parties. Yesterday's IMC report "paints a damning
picture of loyalists", he said.

"They remain active, dangerous and up to their necks in
crime. Unionist parties must face up to this - instead of
serially overlooking loyalist violence.

"Indeed, the fact that the UVF is so heavily criticised for
refusing to do anything to end its activity or decommission
its weaponry poses obvious questions for the UUP, given
their Assembly link with the UVF's political wing." Mr
Durkan welcomed what the IMC had to say about the IRA but
added: "We are dismayed that it has taken this long to get
this far."

© The Irish Times


Teenage IRA Conviction Overturned

A teenager jailed nearly 30 years ago for membership of the
junior IRA has had his conviction overturned.

Paschal John Mulholland, 46, from Woodside Hill, Portadown,
served a year in borstal after he was convicted.

He was 16 when arrested on suspicion of involvement in a
gun and petrol bomb attack on an RUC patrol in 1976.

Mr Mulholland said he had been mistreated in police custody
and only admitted to the charge because he was frightened.

ln 2000 his case was taken up by the Criminal Cases Review
Commission (CCRC), the independent body set up to review
suspected miscarriages of justice.

The CCRC referred the case to the Court of Appeal after it
had carried out a detailed investigation.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr, who heard the appeal
with lord justices Nicholson and Campbell, said the
mistreatment evidence raised a considerable doubt in their
minds as to the safety of the conviction.

He said that had the trial judge, the late Lord Lowry, been
aware of the allegations against two detectives he would
have been slow to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that Mr
Mulholland's allegations about mistreatment were untrue.

Sir Brian said the evidence of the medical officers who
examined Mr Mulholland was "compelling and damning."

Mr Mulholland, in a statement released through his
solicitors Harte Coyle Collins, said: "I am delighted with
this result. It's just a pity I had to serve a year in

His solicitor said her client would now be pursuing a claim
for compensation.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/08 12:03:54 GMT


Adams: Health Will Be Major Election Issue

08/09/2006 - 12:13:34

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said the Government's
handling of the health service will be a major issue at the
next general election.

Mr Adams said today there was widespread anger that the
Government had failed to use Ireland's economic prosperity
to fix problems in the health service.

He was speaking as Sinn Féin members gather in Howth, Co
Dublin, for their annual think-in ahead of the new Dáil

The meeting will be used to discuss strategy for the year
ahead and tactics for next year's general election, as well
as the latest developments in the peace process.

Sinn Féin is using the occasion to present all of its
candidates in the forthcoming election to the media.

A special website will also be launched to publicise their
respective campaigns.


Coalition Rocked By Harney Resignation

08/09/2006 - 07:06:22

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will continue to gauge the
implications for his government today after yesterday’s
shock resignation of Mary Harney as leader of the
Progressive Democrats.

The decision by the Tánaiste and Minster for Health could
force a mini Cabinet reshuffle if current Minister for
Justice Michael McDowell does not succeed her at the helm
because she insisted that her successor must be a senior
minister in government.

“I think it would be almost impossible for our
parliamentary party leader to remain outside the
Government,” she said.

However she also added that she was happy to continue in
her Health and Children portfolio for the lifetime of the
coalition if the Taoiseach agreed.

Opposition TDs have claimed Ms Harney’s decision has
destabilised the Government, and some urged Mr Ahern to
call an immediate general election ahead of the expected
date in mid-2007.

Last night Mr Ahern warned that he would expect to get a
clear commitment from the new PD leader that they would
complete the agreed programme for government until the next
general election.

He said: “If I do receive that commitment, it’s business as
usual. If I didn’t, then it would be a different position.”

Dublin TD Liz O’Donnell and current Minister of State Tom
Parlon are believed to be in the running for the leadership
position with Mr McDowell.

Nominations close on Monday and votes will then be cast by
the TDs and senators, councillors and the party’s national

It is expected that a new leader will be elected before the
Dáil returns from its summer recess on September 27.

Ms Harney insisted yesterday she was not influenced by any
individual or issue in making her decision to quit after 13
years at the helm of the party.

She said she made up her mind while on a three-week holiday
in Tuscany, Italy with her husband Brian Geoghegan.

The 53-year-old became involved in a public power struggle
with Mr McDowell in June following a heated parliamentary
party meeting on the leadership issue.

Mr McDowell is due to travel to the US tomorrow on a week-
long official trip.

Ms Harney was the first female leader of an Irish political
party and the longest-serving woman in the Oireachtas.


Opin: Inquiry Lesson We Can All Learn, Now, For Free

(Newton Emerson, Irish News)

And so it begins. The 20 former RUC officers requesting
anonymity in the Robert Hamill Inquiry will be invoicing
that inquiry for their legal advice and representation. Now
that they have brought their appeal to a judicial review,
professional fees will be substantial and the inquiry is
obliged to pay up. This is exactly how the cost of the
Bloody Sunday Inquiry was propelled into the stratosphere.

In fairness, it is difficult to see how this situation can
be avoided. Everyone summoned before an inquiry as a
witness is entitled to legal assistance and they will
naturally use that assistance to their own advantage.
Although the attorney general has guaranteed that nothing
revealed by a witness during the Robert Hamill Inquiry will
be used in a criminal prosecution, witnesses could still
face civil proceedings arising from their testimony. As a
result, any refusal to fund legal representation would fall
foul of the human rights act. So there is simply no getting
around the need for a lawyer at every elbow.

Still, the high price of establishing the truth seems to
suit this government rather well. Last week it emerged that
computer costs for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry had topped £34
million – which, by coincidence, is exactly the same as the
Historical Enquiries Team budget for examining every
unsolved murder from the Troubles.

It is strange that the government should be so forthcoming
with this figure when it normally refuses to discuss
information technology overspending on the grounds of
"commercial confidentiality". It is also strange that the
media refused to regard the figure as a case of
overspending at all, preferring to portray it as another
tiresome example of the inescapable cost of complex

However, there is no good reason why the Bloody Sunday
Inquiry's computer bill should have been allowed to balloon
to this size. Why was a 3D digital model of the Bogside
commissioned at such expense, for example, when a cardboard
model would have served just as well for illustrative

This is surely a story of weak financial control rather
than inevitable inquiry inflation – or at the very least, a
story of both. But it seems that the latter story finds
more favour, for it has useful illustrative purposes of its

In July, Labour minister Tessa Jowell rejected calls for an
inquiry into the London tube bombings by claiming that the
"latest estimate" for the cost of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry
was £400 million. This was presented as a reason not to
hold such an inquiry, rather than a reason to re-examine
the inquiry process itself.

It is fair to speculate that the government hopes to
illustrate this once and for all in Northern Ireland by
setting up four set-piece inquiries into the murders of
Robert Hamill, Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Billy
Wright, giving each of those inquiries a blank cheque, then
tut-tutting afterwards about the terrible expense of it
all. If so, on the basis of recent coverage, it is also
fair to speculate that this strategy will succeed in
closing down demands for further inquiries.

However, the financial argument is only half an argument.
To be consistent on inquiries the government must either
accept that cost is no object and stop complaining, or
accept that cost is an object and do something about it –
and there is plenty that ministers can do to make the
inquiries they commission more affordable.

Under the 2005 Inquiries Act, it is the minister rather
than the inquiry chair who is in overall control. This is
the reason for the Finucane family's current concerns but
although the act makes ministers less accountable it also
makes them more responsible. For instance, the Inquiries
Act empowers Secretary of State Peter Hain to set the terms
of reference for an inquiry, vary those terms at any time,
set time limits, change those limits at any time, amend or
revoke disclosure restrictions, release Northern Ireland
Office documents and bring existing inquiries under the new
legislation. So if Hain complains that inquiries are
protracted and expensive, isn't that his fault for failing
to set the right terms, set the right limits and unlock the
right filing cabinets?

What a pity we are relying on our tribal representatives to
ask that question. If the Hamill family had received the
help they clearly deserved the inquiry into Robert Hamill's
murder might not ever have been necessary. That's one
lesson we can all learn, right now, for free.

September 8, 2006


Opin: The Trouble About Command Structures

08 September 2006

The 11th report of the Independent Monitoring Commission
offers much encouragement in that its chief conclusion is
that the IRA is firmly committed to following a political
path. The organisation is no longer engaged in terrorist
activity and the leadership is opposed to the use of

But eyebrows have been raised by the disclosure by the
commissioners that the IRA retains a "command and control
structure". The IMC's rather surprising take on this is
that such a framework is "an important element in
maintaining the organisation on its chosen path".

Reference has already been made to the view of the then RUC
Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan, who conceded in 1994 that
there was a value in keeping the IRA structure intact as
the republican movement progresses from war to peace. Lord
Alderdice has already defended the IMC's stance by drawing
an analogy with Iraq and the chaos that ensued when
structures broke down.

While there may be a case for allowing paramilitary
organisations to maintain existing frameworks during this
transitional phase, it is unthinkable that the IRA should
be permitted to retain them in the long term. The prolonged
existence of command structures would contain an inherent
threat and would call into question Sinn Fein's claim to be
committed to "exclusively peaceful and democratic means".

Democracy demands that parties aspiring to government rely
on nothing more than their electoral mandate. The objective
must be to break links with paramilitary organisations and
for all such groupings, loyalist and republican, to disarm
and proceed ultimately to disband.

Significant strides have been made in that direction, as
the IMC report underlines. But rather than offering the IRA
what could become a hostage to fortune, pressure should be
maintained on the republican movement to complete the
journey upon which it has embarked.

Likewise, the UVF and UDA must do more than simply talk
about peace. If a normal society is to be created, they
need urgently to end all activity, decommission and stand

Over the past 40 years, paramilitarism of various hues has
exacted a terrible price on this society. The future must
be founded on democracy, equality and the rule of law.

The danger is that the continued existence of paramilitary
command structures will create a further stumbling block
for next month's inter-party talks in Scotland. Trust needs
to be built, not undermined, if progress is to be made.

The IMC is performing a valuable role in providing an
independent assessment of the various paramilitary
ceasefires. But it must be wary of stepping beyond its
remit and making what are essentially political judgments.


Opin: Gerry Adams

Friday 8th of September 2006

It ill-behoves Gerry Adams to lecture Israel on government
leadership with the words “War is not the only option”,
implying that was the Jewish state’s policy. It would have
been far more helpful if he had addressed his comments to
Hamas and its leaders.

On a superficial level, his argument for a peaceful
resolution to the Middle East conflict sounds compelling.
Simply put, Menachem Begin was a terrorist; he renounced
violence and became the Prime Minister of Israel,
overseeing the historic peace deal with Egypt. Nelson
Mandela, the ANC terrorist became the President of South
Africa where his country slipped from apartheid to
democracy without a bloody revolution. And Gerry Adams
himself is now a Member of Parliament, although still
struggling to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

First they are terrorists, then they are recognised as
partners and finally they make peace. But Gerry Adams knows
the vital ingredient essential to any peace process is that
the terrorist must first renounce violence and recognise
its partner. It’s that piece of the jigsaw which is missing
in the case of Hamas. It does not matter how many times we
are told that Hamas was democratically elected. Its stated
aims are Israel’s destruction and the use of indiscriminate

That’s why the Israeli government has not agreed to see
him. We suggest Mr Adams reads a copy of the Hamas Charter
and tries working on Article 13 which says “the so-called
peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to
resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the
beliefs of the Islamic Resistance”. Then he could chat with
his Hamas hosts about it. Mr Adams is about as useful to
the peace process as a conscience is to a Swiss banker.


Paraglider (50) Dies After Crashing Into Sea

Last updated: 08-09-06, 07:54

A paraglider died last night when he crashed into the sea
off Co Antrim.

Emergency services mounted a major air-and-sea rescue when
the man, aged 50, crashed into the water at the White Rocks
near Portrush.

He was pulled from the water with serious injuries and was
taken to the Causeway Hospital at Coleraine. Police later
said the man died from his injuries.

It is understood the paraglider crashed close to the
shoreline as he tried to land on the beach. The man was one
of a number of paragliders in the area at the time.

© 2006


Ploughing Contest Biggest Ever

Seán Mac Connell, Agriculture Correspondent

The National Ploughing Championships, which are being held
in conjunction with the World Ploughing Contest in Carlow
later this month, will be the largest held so far in this

Details were announced yesterday on the 600-acre site at
Danesfort, near Tullow, Co Carlow, where more than 150,000
people are expected from September 27th-30th.

In terms of scale, it is Europe's largest agricultural
gathering, with some 13 acres of steel trackway being laid
down to accommodate the 800 trade and exhibition stands
that will be in place over the four days.

Car parking will take up 300 acres, while 450 acres will be
used to accommodate the 327 competitors from 28 countries.

The event will be officially opened by Minister for
Agriculture and Food Mary Coughlan and Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern will pay a visit on the Friday. The world prizes will
be presented on the final day by Minister for Finance Brian

Traditionally, the leaders of all the political parties
attend the event, which attracts people from all over the
country and a growing number of from abroad.

The opening of the World Ploughing Contest will be
performed on Wednesday by President Mary McAleese, who
canvassed the event when seeking the presidential post.

Anna May McHugh, managing director of the National
Ploughing Association, recalled that while the event now
had hundreds of sponsors and 800 businesses would be
showing their wares, things were not always so.

"Looking through the records, I found that in 1931 the
National Ploughing Championships had only 25 sponsors and
some of them were very reluctant to get involved," she

Apart from the commercial aspects of the championships,
there will also be a broad cross-section of voluntary
organisations, sporting bodies, Government departments,
educational groups and semi-State bodies at the event.

This year's event will stage one of the largest overseas
property exhibitions ever seen in this country and the
finance companies, stockbrokers and other bodies will be on
hand to offer advice. The Financial Regulator and the
Revenue Commissioners will also be on site.

Alternative energy exhibitions will be to the fore, with
the emphasis on forestry and the benefits of farmers
planting trees and alternative crops.

There will also be an enlarged livestock exhibition, with
new breeds of cattle and sheep on display, and a major farm
machinery exhibition.

A special traffic plan has been drawn up for the event and
this will be published well in advance of the championships
which are expected to inject a minimum of €20 million into
the local economy.

© The Irish Times

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