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September 06, 2006

Senate Gearing Up For Vote on Extrad Treaty

News About Ireland & The Irish

IE 09/06/06 Senators Gearing Up To Vote On Extradition Treaty
SF 09/06/06 Clear IRA Have Delivered On Commitments
IE 09/06/06 Irish Imigrants: Fear Lingers
BB 09/06/06 VIP Treatment For Sinn Fein Leader
HC 09/06/06 Sinn Fein Leader Meets Hamas Lawmaker
YN 09/06/06 Tibi Tells SF Leader Of Discrimination Against Arabs
EE 09/06/06 IRA Structure 'Key To Peace Efforts'
CB 09/06/06 Swift Reaction To IMC Report
IT 09/07/06 Besieged Blair Clings To Office As Rift With Brown Deepens
GU 09/07/06 Opin: Time's Up


Decision Time

Senators Gearing Up To Vote On Controversial Extradition Treaty

By Ray O'Hanlon

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will this
week vote on the controversial revised U.S./UK Extradition

The committee will meet Thursday and just a simple majority
will be required to send the bill to the full U.S. Senate
for a final vote.

The revised treaty has been opposed since its birth in 2003
by a number of Irish American organizations and activists.
Opponents are expected to attend Thursday's committee

However, discussion at the hearing is likely to be limited
with the emphasis instead on the member vote.

That said, a spokesman for committee chairman, Senator
Richard Lugar, indicated that some steps have been taken
behind the scenes that could assuage some, if not all,
Irish American concerns.

The spokesman said that Lugar, a Republican from Indiana,
had been working with Senator Chris Dodd from Connecticut
in an effort to resolve the issues of particular concern.

Dodd, a Democrat with possible presidential ambitions, has
been apparently sympathetic to the AOH and other critics of
the treaty.

Recently elected AOH National President Jack Meehan has
urged the treaty's rejection stating that its ratification
would entail signing away the rights of Americans to a fair

The Hibernians have also produced a "Comparison Document"
outlining in detail the organization's broad reservations
over the treaty.

In addition, the AOH National Political Education Committee
has been circulating a release describing the treaty as
"dangerous" and a means by which "many of the rights" taken
for granted by American citizens would be eliminated.

Opposition to the treaty has also been spearheaded by
Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois while
a coalition of Irish American organizations, under the
Unity In Action Committee umbrella, late last week issued a
statement calling on the Senate to reject ratification.

Boyle has argued that, under the revised treaty's
provisions, American founding fathers and mothers such as
John Hancock, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James
and Dolly Madison would be extradited to Britain for the
very revolutionary activities that founded the United

Boyle and other critics have especially focused their
attention on the revised treaty's potential effects with
regard to political activity linked to Northern Ireland but
have also highlighted - as has the American Civil Liberties
Union - what they claim are the treaty's dangers to civil
liberties in general.

"The LAOH has denounced this U.S./UK treaty as an assault
on the basic civil liberties of all Americans," said Ladies
Ancient Order of Hibernians National President, Dorothy

Weldon's criticism was included in the Unity in the Action
Committee release, a document that also carried statements
on behalf of the Irish American Unity Conference, Irish
Northern Aid and the Brehon Law Society.

Opposition to the revised treaty has also been expressed in
recent months by the Irish American Emergency Parades
Committee, Americans for a New Irish Agenda and the Irish
American Labor Coalition.

The revised treaty, said Jim Cullen of the Brehons, was
simply unwarranted and threatened "fundamental violence to
American legal traditions."

The treaty, argued Cullen, substituted decisions by
political operatives and bureaucrats for the review and
rulings of the federal judiciary.

"We must insist that the courts determine key issues like
rights and liberties that arise in extraditions to the UK,
a jurisdiction whose concern for these matters of due
process, particularly in Northern Ireland, are more than
suspect," Cullen stated.

The Foreign Relations panel last discussed the treaty just
before it went into summer recess in early August but
deferred its vote until this week.

Activists who attended the pre-recess meeting, chaired by
Sen. Lugar, urged rejection of the treaty.

At that hearing, however, Deputy U.S. Attorney General,
Paul McNulty said he refuted "in unequivocal terms" the
suggestion that the U.S. had entered into the treaty "in
order to collude with the United Kingdom in a campaign of
retaliation against Irish-American Citizens."

The revised treaty was signed in March 2003 by then U.S.
attorney general, John Ashcroft, and the British home
secretary at the time, David Blunkett.

In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Ashcroft made no
specific reference to any conflict, group or country.

British government representatives have repeatedly denied
that the treaty was drawn up with Northern Ireland, or
Irish American activists, in mind.

In a July visit to Washington, D.C., British government
minister-of-state, Baroness Scotland, sent a letter to each
of the 18 members of the Foreign Relations Committee.

In the letter, Baroness Scotland stated that full Senate
approval by October was of "paramount importance."

What was at stake, the baroness told senators, was "not
only the continued status of the U.S. as a 'trusted
partner' for extradition but also the perception in the UK
of how our relationship works in practice."

The baroness stated that the purpose of the treaty was to
"modernize" extradition arrangement. It was not, she said,
aimed at speeding up the extradition from the U.S. of
people "suspected of involvement in terrorism" connected
with Northern Ireland.

"The concerns about the treaty raised by certain Irish-
American groups are groundless," she stated.

Prof. Boyle, reacting to the letter, said that a "British
Baroness telling the democratically elected Members of the
United States Senate that they had better ratify this
treaty by October or else" was "pretty outrageous."

This story appeared in the issue of September 6-12, 2006


Clear IRA Have Delivered On Commitments

Published: 6 September, 2006

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle
Gildernew today said that it was patently clear that the
IRA had delivered to the word on every commitment it
entered into last year and that the time for DUP to engage
has long since past.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Well before any pronouncement from the IMC this afternoon
it has been patently clear to everyone objectively looking
at this situation that the IRA had delivered to the word on
every commitment it entered into this time last year.

"The IRA have dealt decisively with genuine issues of
concern put forward by unionists and it is very clear that
the time for the DUP using this issue as an excuse not to
engage and move forward has long since past.

"The DUP stand alone as the only party still unwilling to
commit to sharing power on the basis laid out in the Good
Friday Agreement." ENDS


Fear Lingers

An Irish immigrant gave up his time and risked his health
to help out at Ground Zero, but the aftermath of that day
has affected him in more ways than he could have imagined.

By Ailbhe Jordan

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Steve MacSweeney's
undocumented status was the last thing on his mind as he
worked alongside firefighters, police officers and
volunteers, searching desperately for people trapped
beneath the rubble of the collapsed twin towers.

MacSweeney, a carpenter from Kerry, was renovating a
penthouse on Canal Street on the morning of the attacks.

A few minutes before 9 a.m., he was having a coffee break
downstairs when a laborer burst into the room, announcing
that an airplane had just crashed into one of the twin

"I ran up the roof and we just stood there in amazement,"
recalled MacSweeney, who is now 32.

"Then next thing we knew, we heard the sound of another
plane flying overhead. It was right above us; we could hear
the sound of the engine. Next thing, it just sort of
rotated and crashed right into the second tower."

MacSweeney stood for a couple of minutes, trying to absorb
the shock of the scene he had just witnessed. Having worked
as a search and rescue volunteer in Ireland, however,
instinct soon took over as he watched fire trucks and
police cars speed past his building on their way down to
the World Trade Center.

As MacSweeney headed towards the inferno, the South tower
began to collapse in front of his eyes.

"All the dirt and the smoke started hurtling towards us,"
he said.

"I ripped my shirt and used the cloth to cover my mouth. I
gave some to my laborer and to an old lady who was walking
beside us."

Undeterred by the danger, MacSweeney defied the orders of
cops who were already taping off the scene, sneaking under
the barriers in order to help.

MacSweeney spent the next two-and-a-half weeks at Ground
Zero, as it was now becoming known, working almost non-stop
to clear debris, beneath which people were frequently
discovered - sometimes alive, but more often, dead.

At the site, MacSweeney met and became friends with several
volunteers, including two other undocumented Irish men, but
nobody cared about immigration status during those days.

On a visit to the site, President George W. Bush shook
MacSweeney's hand and thanked him and a group of volunteers
for the work they were doing.

On his third day, MacSweeney suffered an arm injury that
later became so badly infected he had to stop working on
the site. Major surgery performed in the nick of time saved
his arm from amputation.

As one of the first responders to Sept. 11, MacSweeney has
received federally funded medical checks, blood tests and
x-rays to monitor his health.

Results of a major assessment released by Mt. Sinai
hospital this week led Mayor Michael Bloomberg to
acknowledge publicly for the first time that first
responders to the Sept. 11 attacks have had higher rates of
health problems than those who arrived later.

Recent x-rays have shown that MacSweeney's lungs are not
taking in their full capacity of oxygen, a development that
doctors are monitoring.

But harrowing memories and health problems are not what
MacSweeney regrets most about that day.

"The most difficult part was coming out of there with the
firefighters and all other people and seeing everyone being
embraced by their families," he said. "That's when you
realize you don't have your family with you and you won't
see your family unless you are prepared to give up your
right to be in the U.S."

Ever since that day, MacSweeney's undocumented status has
never been far from his mind. As U.S. immigration policies
become more and more restrictive, he, like the millions of
undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.,
becomes even more insecure about his future here.

MacSweeney, who moved to the U.S. in 1998, loves his life
in Manhattan, where he makes a good living and has lots of

In those eight years, however, he has not seen his parents,
who live in Kerry and are too elderly to fly. He has had
two family visitors from Ireland; an uncle who came to
visit four years ago, and his niece and goddaughter, whose
birthday wish when she turned 13 was to come and see him.

"My grandmother isn't getting any younger," said

"A friend of mine has lost a brother this year and missed
her sister's wedding. Things like that bring it home to me
-- as much as I love it here, can I really do this for
another year? I can't get insurance, I can't open a bank
account. I've been offered fantastic jobs in this country
that I can't take because I have no social security and no
green card. My girlfriend is Canadian and she is here on a
green card. She goes to Canada to visit her family every
year and she takes trips to Europe. I'd love to be able to
go with her but I can't. I've tried to contribute, I've
lived the American way -- all I want is the chance to do
that legally."

Through his work as an activist with the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform, MacSweeney has witnessed the dwindling
numbers of Irish people in traditionally Irish
neighborhoods in the Bronx and Queens.

"Slowly but surely the neighborhoods are falling apart,"
MacSweeney said.

"I'd say 25 percent of the Irish community have already
gone home. I've already lost most of my friends. Everyone
is going home. The Irish communities are diminishing. We
have to show the government that they are going to lose
their Irish neighborhoods if it continues."

If enough people lend their support, however, MacSweeney is
"100 percent optimistic" for the future of undocumented
immigrants in the U.S.

"If we can get the Irish-American community involved, if we
can get the Irish community in Ireland involved and if we
can get the undocumented Irish here involved, we have a
chance," he said.

"With President Bush saying immigration is at the top of
his agenda, I'm hoping it will be this Christmas and if
it's not this Christmas I'll hope maybe next summer,"
MacSweeney said.

"If I could say something to him, I'd ask him if his kids
were in the unfortunate position we are in now, how would
he feel as a parent not being able to see his kids because
they were trying to make a better life for themselves?"

This story appeared in the issue of September 6-12, 2006


VIP Treatment For Sinn Fein Leader

By Gareth Gordon
BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent

The man in the green checked shirt sitting two places to
Gerry Adams's right probably isn't even a household name in
his own town.

Dr Ayman Daragmeh is a relatively junior MP in the
Palestinian parliament.

He was only representing Hamas on the Palestinian
Legislative Council the day the Sinn Fein President came to
Ramallah because so many senior Hamas representatives -
including the speaker and the deputy prime minister - had
been arrested by the Israelis.

With a cheery face and ready handshake he certainly dosen't
look like a terrorist - but that's exactly what Hamas is in
the eyes of Israel, the EU and the US.

That is why his presence in the same room as Gerry Adams
could yet cause the Sinn Fein President all kinds of
problems, not least from the White House which is likely to
take a dim view.

But then it didn't like Mr Adams's visit to Fidel Castro in
Cuba either and his place in the vanguard of the Northern
Ireland peace process hardly suffered.

He had to do what he thought was right, was Gerry Adams's
answer to the inevitable questions afterwards - and if
others chose to punish Sinn Fein because of it, that was
their choice.

The punishment could come in the form of an extension of
Sinn Fein's fund-raising ban in the US.

But Mr Adams seemed to shrug as he drove off to another
stop on his brief tour of the West Bank.

Dr Daragmeh seemed oblivious to what all the fuss could
possibly be about. Mr Adams, he said, was ''a freedom

If they haven't yet taken the road of peace Hamas have
followed Sinn Fein in one way - their success at the polls
in the last Palestinian elections has certainly changed the
landscape - but not in a way the desperately poor citizens
of towns like Ramallah would have liked.

VIP treatment

Hamas's subsequent failure to renounce violence has led the
EU to cut off aid.

So a very poor area has just got even poorer. Even the
professional classes are feeling the pinch. It's been so
long since they were paid that they've gone on strike.

Mr Adams would like to have heard of their plight face-to-
face with the president Mahmoud Abbas.

But the president was called away unexpectedly to help
negotiate the release of a captured Israeli soldier in
another troubled Palestinian area, Gaza. Mr Adams had to
make do with a phone call.

But he was able to lay a wreath at the tomb of former
President Yasser Arafat, the man who first invited him to
the Middle East.

In Ramallah he was treated as a VIP - sirens blaring he was
driven through the streets in a presidential-style

It was in marked contrast to his reception on the Israeli
side where the government refused to see him - because of
his Hamas meeting - though they did help to facilitate the

Mr Adams said he had feared they would prove more difficult
than they had been.

He left saying he would be happy if he had delivered a bit
more hope into the situation.

But hope seems in very short supply here. The West Bank
seems desperate compared to the relative Western-style
opulence on the Israeli side.

He will return to a northern Irish peace process -
imperfect as it is - which is light years ahead of anything
which exists in Ramallah.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/06 19:31:12 GMT


Sinn Fein Leader Meets Hamas Lawmaker

By Mohammed Daraghmeh Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Defying Israeli objections, Sinn Fein
leader Gerry Adams met with a Hamas legislator in the West
Bank on Wednesday and advised Israel and the Palestinians
to solve their problems using the Northern Ireland formula
_ negotiations.

Adams, whose Irish Republican Army-linked Sinn Fein party
is the major representative of Northern Ireland's Catholic
minority, said ahead of his trip he wants to inspire
parties in other conflicts following the agreement to end
decades of fighting in his land.

Israeli officials boycotted Adams because of his intention
to meet Hamas members. Hamas, which controls the
Palestinian parliament, is sworn to Israel's destruction
and has rebuffed international demands to recognize Israel
and renounce violence.

Visiting Ramallah, the Palestinians' West Bank
administrative capital, Adams met with several Palestinian
lawmakers including Ayman Daraghmeh of Hamas. He spoke by
telephone to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a member
of the moderate Fatah Party, who is traveling in the Gulf.

At a news conference, Adams urged Israel and the
Palestinians to negotiate a two-state solution to their
conflict and said Israel must talk to the Palestinian

"I think it is right that the occupation of the Palestinian
territories should end and I think it's right that there
should be dialogue and an end to the conflict," he said.

Israel must "understand that the strategic interest of
Israel and the prosperity and the security and freedom of
Israel is interlocked into them upholding the rights and
the freedom and the security of the Palestinian people," he

Israel is prepared to talk to Abbas, who favors a peace
accord with Israel, but not with Hamas, which has been
declared a terror organization by the U.S. and the European

The past 38 years of conflict over Northern Ireland has
claimed more than 3,600 lives, but has largely abated since
a cease-fire in 1997.


Tibi Tells Sinn Fein Leader Of Discrimination Against Arabs

Leader of political arm of Irish underground, Gerry Adams,
meets MK Ahmad Tibi in Israel in order to see up close
discrimination against Arab Israelis. Two compared October
riots to 'Bloody Sunday' in Northern Ireland and spoke
about injustices in citizenship law. Adams announced that
he intends to meeting with Hamas members of Palestinian

Roee Nahmias Published: 09.06.06, 15:28

The October riots, the separation fence, and the Family
Union Law – those were the topics at the center of the
meeting between Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, MK Ahmad
Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al), and Gerry Adams, leader of
Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army.

During the meeting, held Wednesday in Jerusalem, Adams said
he met with Tibi into to hear firsthand of the situation of
the Arab minority in Israel and on the need to fight the
discrimination against them.

Adams and Tibi discuss discrimination against Arabs in
Jerusalem (Photo: Nabil Sao)

According to Tibi, Adams asked to hear details about all
realms of life and discrimination against the Arabs in
Israel. "He asked to know if there are laws that the
Knesset passes that perpetuate discrimination. We focused
on one example in the law that doesn't allow the union of
families on both sides of the Green Line. He said that
sounded terrible to him and asked what the legal and
political options are to change the law," said Tibi.

"He told me that he had heard and read about me and was
very interested in the struggle for the voters. He asked
why the rightwing also tries to disqualify us in every
elections campaign, and added that he is happy I ultimately
manage to win," Tibi added.

During the meeting, Adams asked for updated written
material on the situation of Arabs in Israel.

Adams was also interested in government allowances to Arab
citizens. "I mentioned the October riots and the killing of
13 citizens by the police and we compared it to 'Bloody
Sunday' in Northern Ireland," he said.

Bloody Sunday took place on November 21, 1920, when the
British massacred innocent Irish people in a soccer stadium
in response to the actions of the IRA.

"This is an educated man with broad perspectives who takes
an interest in minorities all over the world. He feels the
discrimination and oppression in his blood and he show
empathy toward minorities and oppressed nations. I
explained to him that the struggle of the Arab public is a
political, public, and parliamentary struggle," said Tibi.

The two also touched upon the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Adams said that he intends to meet with Hamas leaders even
though it will mean that official Israeli representatives
won't meet him. "In his opinion, serious dialogue is the
way to solve conflicts," added Tibi.

Tibi invited to Ireland

Adams said that one cannot hold elections as part of a
democratic process without accepting their results.
"Therefore, he will meet with democratically elected
officials," explained Tibi. "He is updated about the number
of Palestinian casualties recently in the Gaza Strip. I
told him that since the Lebanon war, 257 Palestinians have
been killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

Tibi said they also spoke about the separation fence . "I
told him that this is a racist separation wall, which the
International Court of Justice has asked to be removed. I
also said that we support the principle of two states on
the condition that this will bring about the end of
occupation of 1967 territories," he added. The two ended
their meeting warmly, but not before Adams invited Tibi for
a similar meeting in Ireland.

According to Tibi, "I would be happy and proud to meet with
the leader and figure who fought for freedom and
independence, who has resisted foreign rule of his country.
I appreciate Gerry Adams and his activities as a symbol of
the struggle for freedom and shaking off a foreign and
oppressive regime."


IRA Structure 'Key To Peace Efforts'

06/09/2006 - 3:36:00 PM

The maintenance of the IRA's command and control structure
is helping rather than hindering the peace process in the
North, the international body set up to monitor
paramilitary ceasefires said today.

With the Irish and British governments intent on breaking
the political deadlock with days of intensive party talks
in Scotland next month, the Independent Monitoring
Commission (IMC) gave their efforts a fillip with a report
which said republicans remain committed to politics.

In the face of constant unionist calls for the total
disbandment of the IRA, the report said the maintenance of
the IRA structure was actually an important element in
keeping the organisation on the path of peace.

The IMC’s 11th report said it remained of the firm view
that the IRA was committed to following a political path.

“It is not engaged in terrorist activity, by which we mean
undertaking attacks, planning or reconnoitring them, or
developing a terrorist capability by, for example,
procuring weapons or training members.

“The leadership is opposed to the use of violence in
community control, has taken a stance against criminality
and disorder amongst the membership, and has been engaged
in successful dialogue to prevent violence during the 2006
parades season,” it said.

Senior members of the IRA were taking on roles in Sinn Féin
and encouraging other members to do the same or to engage
in community work, it added.

The report added: “The fact that PIRA retains a command and
control structure does not in our view detract from this.
Indeed, this structure is an important element in
maintaining the organisation on its chosen path.”

It said following statements and decommissioning by the
IRA, and given the strategy directed by the leadership: "We
do not think that PIRA presents a threat to the security
forces or impediment to security normalisation."

However, the IMC said dissident republicans did pose a
continuing threat to the security forces and constituted
“the most significant security threat in Northern Ireland”.

They continued to engage in paramilitary activity and
recent events had shown their wish to maintain their
capability to do so.

“It remains the case, however, that they have been hampered
in what they do both by their limited expertise and
capacity and by the continuing efforts of law enforcement
agencies North and South,” said the report.

It added that there was a certain level of threat to the
lives and safety of members of the security forces.

“This threat could materialise in any part of Northern
Ireland but is more likely to do so in certain specific
areas,” it added.

Loyalist paramilitary groups, said the IMC, remained
involved in violence - but they did not pose an active
threat to the security forces.

In contrast to 2005, loyalist leaders contributed to a
quiet parades season and some among them appeared committed
to ending criminality among their members.

The ending of criminality had been more evident in the case
of the Ulster Defence Association than the Ulster Volunteer
Force and may reflect a positive strategic decision, said
the report.

“The UVF refusal to clarify its position in advance of 24
November 2006 (the government-set deadline for a political
breakthrough) remains a worry, not least in view of their
refusal to decommission arms or in other ways to reduce
their capability to revert to terrorism,” it added.

The report, focusing on the normalisation process, said the
British Army and police had met the provisions of the
demilitarisation process.

All remaining watchtowers had been demolished in South
Armagh, troops had been withdrawn from two more police
stations and troop levels reduced.

The report also noted the defortification of existing
police buildings, and the style of construction of new
buildings in line with Patten Report recommendations.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland was also making
progress in introducing new patrolling patterns.

It said as far as the PSNI was concerned, the most striking
recent development was the way in which the July 12 parades
were policed without the need for military assistance – as
has been the case for the earlier Tour of the North Orange
parade in north Belfast.

Three other examples of normalisation it highlighted were:

- More than 80% of uniformed officers now patrolling in
high-visibility clothing;

- Whereas in spring 2005 some three quarters of districts
in the PSNI Rural region regularly used military
deployment, this was now very exceptional and the trend was
expected to continue downward;

- The PSNI was actively looking at new ways of encouraging
interface between officers and the public – for example,
basing them in places such as schools and supermarkets.

“These sorts of developments are not simply evidence of
normalisation. They also foster greater normalisation by
encouraging community contact and greater support for the

“We have heard of many instances of greater support,
including in those sections of the community which have
traditionally been antipathetic to the police,” said the

Secretary of State Peter Hain said the report clearly
showed the North was changing for the better every day.

“The report recognises both the dramatic changes that have
been made to the security apparatus in Northern Ireland,
and that these changes are commensurate with the threat and
consistent with the Government’s responsibility for public
protection,” he said.

Mr Hain said the report also reaffirmed the view that the
IRA was committed to following a political path and that
the leadership had taken a stand against criminality and
engaged in successful dialogue to prevent violence during
the marching season.

“Clearly everyone in Northern Ireland is awaiting the IMC’s
next report on paramilitary activity but, even without that
report, it is clear that a dramatic shift has occurred in
the threat posed by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland,” he

That, in parallel with the recently peaceful parading
season, offered up the genuine possibility of a Northern
Ireland in which community policing without routine Army
support, jury trial and defortified police stations were
the norm, said Mr Hain.

“This is a great prize for the people of Northern Ireland,
and the government will continue to meet its commitments to
normalise security arrangements as long as the appropriate
enabling environment exists,” he added.


Swift Reaction To IMC Report

Published on 07/09/2006

The DUP has said the IRA's transition into an exclusively
peaceful organisation was not yet complete.

Deputy leader Peter Robinson MP seized on comments from the
Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) that the
maintenance of the IRA's command and control structure was
a positive for the peace process.

"If, as the IMC indicate, IRA discipline is needed to
maintain 'the organisation on its chosen path', then this
is a clear indication that republicans have not yet reached
the stage where their natural tendency is to opt for
exclusively peaceful and democratic means," he said.

"The transition is not complete."

He added that the DUP would look to the IMC report next
month and subsequent reports that would provide a more
detailed analysis of the behaviour of terrorist and
criminal organisations.

However, Sinn Fein has told the DUP the time for them to
commit to a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland
was long since passed.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew said:
"Well before any pronouncement from the IMC it has been
patently clear to everyone objectively looking at this
situation that the IRA has delivered to the word on every
commitment it entered into this time last year.

"The IRA has dealt decisively with genuine issues of
concern put forward by unionists and it is very clear that
the time for the DUP using this issue as an excuse not to
engage and move forward has long since passed."

The DUP stood alone as the only party still unwilling to
commit to sharing power on the basis laid out in the Good
Friday Agreement, she said.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern welcomed the report. He
said the security situation in Northern Ireland was
becoming progressively normalised and the assessment on the
IRA continued to be positive.

"An enormous transformation has taken place in recent

"We have had a peaceful and calm summer. This has been the
result of a lot of work by a lot of people, working in the
interests of all," said Mr Ahern.

The Taoiseach said it had been clear for some time that
this autumn would determine the shape of Northern Ireland
politics for some considerable time to come.

"The period ahead will be decisive. It will demand
leadership. All parties must play their part," said Mr

He added: "We want to see agreement on devolution over the
coming weeks and we firmly believe it is achievable. The
last remaining steps can and must therefore be taken.

"The outstanding issues are very few indeed. They are well
capable of being resolved. Northern Ireland must move on.
Real politics and genuine partnership have to be the way

Mr Ahern reminded the Northern Ireland parties the November
24 deadline for an agreement on the return of a power-
sharing administration at Stormont was considered,
reasonable and serious.

However, in the meantime the British and Irish governments
were also continuing their work on new partnership
arrangements to ensure effective joint stewardship of the
Good Friday Agreement in the event devolution did not take
place by November 24, he said.

Meanwhile, shadow Northern Ireland secretary David
Lidington said the comments in the IMC report about the IRA
and Sinn Fein were encouraging.

He said particularly encouraging was the report's comments
regarding terrorist activity and the IRA leadership's
commitment to a political path.

But he added: "We need to be certain that involvement in
all forms of criminality, not just terrorism, has ended for

Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy MLA said it
appeared there were elements of progress in the report that
were to be welcomed, particularly from the IRA.

But he said the party would "continue to monitor
developments while we await more substantive reports in the

Alliance Party security spokesman Stephen Farry said the
disbandment of the IRA as an organisation would still be

While the IMC may believe the discipline provided by the
IRA leadership may be a help at present, it could only be a
short-term view, he said.

"The persistence of the IRA command and control structures
is not sustainable in a society based upon the rule of law.
Disbandment of the organisation is ultimately required,"
said Mr Farry.

By David Gordon


Besieged Blair Clings To Office As Rift With Brown Deepens

Patrick Wintour in London

An all-out power struggle between the UK chancellor Gordon
Brown and prime minister Tony Blair, culminating with
allegations by Mr Blair of blackmail and a ferocious
shouting match between the two men, appeared last night to
have forced Mr Blair to declare as early as today that he
will not be prime minister this time next year.

That may not be enough for Mr Brown, who is understood to
have demanded that Mr Blair quit by Christmas, with an
effective joint premiership until a new leader is anointed
by the party.

Mr Blair's statement will effectively confirm what cabinet
ministers, including David Miliband, have been hinting
about in the past few days. It represents a further shift
in position as the prime minister struggles to cling to
office and prevent a meltdown in the party.

But last night Mr Brown found himself under pressure to
repudiate the move by some MPs to force Mr Blair from
office now.

In probably the most astonishing day in the annals of New
Labour, the use of the word blackmail to describe Mr
Brown's recent actions by Downing Street staff was
authorised for use by Mr Blair, and reflected his view that
Mr Brown is orchestrating a coup against him.

Downing Street claimed the resignation yesterday of the
junior defence minister Tom Watson and six parliamentary
aides came with Mr Brown's agreement. The seven men quit
the government demanding that Mr Blair stand down
immediately. A seventh parliamentary aide, Iain Wright,
resigned from the Government last night, according to

Downing Street's allegations led to counter-accusations
from the Brown camp of intimidation of backbench MPs by No
10 aides desperate to cling to office. As a result, the
chances of the much-prized stable and orderly transition
between the two men looked to have collapsed.

The recriminations came after meetings between the two men
at Downing Street ended with Mr Blair rejecting Mr Brown's
terms for allowing him to remain in office, including an
accelerated timetable for Mr Blair's resignation by
Christmas, and an effective joint premiership in the
interim. - (Guardian service)


Opin: Time's Up

Northern Ireland's politics is like a lengthy episode of
the Weakest Link, with each party trying to 'bank' the most
political capital.

Mick Fealty

September 6, 2006 02:37 PM

So what's been happening in Northern Ireland? It struck me
some time ago that the best way to describe politics there
is as an endless round of "political chicken". But it's
probably more accurate to see it as a lengthy episode of
the Weakest Link.

When in April 1998, at the time the Belfast Agreement was
signed, the strongest democratic players were moderates:
Trimble's Ulster Unionist party (UUP) and John Hume's
Social Democratic and Labour party (SDLP). Accordingly (and
appropriately) each collected a substantial gong when they
cried "bank", and along came the Nobel committee with a
peace prize for each.

But as each round continued, Ulster's "liberals" stumbled
to answer the questions. What would happen to IRA guns? How
to get a broadly acceptable policing service? And how they
to sustain a political deal that half the voting unionist
public wouldn't touch with a bargepole. The Stormont
assembly, the first of the UK's devolved "parliaments", met
fitfully for 18 months over a four year period and finally
spluttered out and "died" in October 2002.

By the 2001 Westminster and council elections, the
nationalist electorate chose the representatives of the
militarised Republican movement, and it was "goodbye" to
Hume's party as a serious player in Northern Irish
politics. Two years later and Trimble dutifully departed
stage of power, though not the leadership of his party,
when he was nosed out in "the election to nowhere" of late
November 2003.

The next round came in the autumn of 2004, when three
months of negotiations collapsed because the IRA would not
back down on it's long stated refusal to have its long
promised act of decommissioning photographed. The end of
the comprehensive agreement was ambiguous enough not to
have cost either their place in the game.

Ten days later however, the "bank" in question was not the
sharp gathering political capital, but the largest bank
robbery in European history. Despite denials of
responsibility from the IRA (widely disbelieved by most
outside the Republican movement itself), Sinn Fein has
struggle to regain its composure and momentum ever since.

With only two players remaining in the game, the biggest
challenge for each to "bank" the largest amount of
political "cash" before the deal closes. Peter Hain, a
veritable Anne Robinson compared to his genial predecessor
Paul Murphy, has been unafraid to crack eggs, recounting
with some relish to Northern Ireland's deeply underemployed
public representatives, the extent of the work they have
signally failed to do over the last eight years.

However, the IRA receives another clean bill in the IMC's
latest report today, and Hain's 24th November deadline is
widely held to be porous enough to finalise a deal and give
both players a chance to sell their 'prizes' to those still
reluctant to dispense with Northern Ireland's
fundamentalist past.

But the clock is ticking, and each will need to "bank" what
they can, before the game moves on, and, as Bush's special
envoy to Northern Ireland pointed out, leaves them with
little to show for an eight/nine year trek.

Just in time for May elections next year to help guild Tony
Blair's two month procession from office in No 10?

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