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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
October 11, 2006
Adams' Keynote Speech in Advance of Talks
Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley will sit down with others at the hotel in St Andrews and try to thrash out a deal to resume devolution in Northern Ireland. Picture: Getty
News About Ireland & The Irish
SF 10/11/06 Adams Keynote Speech In Advance Of Talks In Scotland
TH 10/11/06 Northern Ireland’s Future On The Line, Says Hain
BN 10/11/06 Sinn Féin 'Must Back Police'
SM 10/11/06 Unlikely Setting Where Foes May Forge Historic Peace Deal
BB 10/11/06 Search For Elusive NI Peace Deal
TO 10/11/06 Beyond No Surrender
BB 10/11/06 Who Stands Where On Devolution
EE 10/11/06 SF To Protest Tribunal Laws
BB 10/11/06 DUP Councillor Quits Over Fraud
OB 10/11/06 Opin: The Troubles Are Over; Now What?
WS 10/11/06 Film Rev: A Patchwork, But No Bigger Picture
Gerry Adams Keynote Speech In Advance Of Talks In Scotland
Published: 10 October, 2006
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams this evening delivered a
significant speech on the eve of the political negotiations
in St. Andrews. Mr Adams set out Sinn Féin's determination
to see an agreement reached and the political institutions
put back in place by November 24th.
The following is the text of this evenings speech by Sinn
Féin President Gerry Adams MP to a party rally in the
Europa Hotel Belfast at 7pm, Tuesday 10th October.
Sinn Fein - Determined to make Progress
I want to dedicate my remarks tonight to our friend Michael
Before getting into the substance of my speech this evening
I want to send solidarity greetings to the people of
Ballinaboy in County Mayo.
Last year there was outrage across the country when five
men were put in jail for standing up to Shell Oil. Over the
last week we have seen local people dragged off the roads
of Mayo as they engage in peaceful protest against attempts
to force a dangerous pipeline through their community.
Let the message go loud and clear from Belfast to Mayo -
Shell should be put to Sea.
The Irish government‚s campaign against the people of
Rossport should stop.
Achieving a deal by November 24th
The last 12 years of the peace process have brought about
huge positive change. Republicans have been responsible for
much of this. In that time we have been faced with enormous
challenges. And we have met these head on. In the coming
weeks we will be challenged once again. Are we up for these
There is only one answer to that question, that answer is
yes. Those of us who want to achieve the most have to take
the most risks. We have to reach out, especially to
And that is as true today as at any time in the peace
process. So those of us who want the greatest change must
be prepared to demonstrate the greatest confidence and take
the big risks.
Myself and Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald, Pat
Doherty, Bairbre de Brún, Gerry Kelly, Caoimhghín Ó
Caoláin, Michelle Gildernew, Martin Ferris, Catriona Ruane,
Francie Molloy, Conor Murphy, Alex Maskey, Joanne Spain,
Dessie Ellis, John Dwyer, Pearse Doherty, David Cullinane,
and Padraig MacLochlainn will travel to Scotland tomorrow.
Our job is straightforward. It is to get the political
institutions up and running by November 24th and the Good
Friday Agreement implemented. And I believe that this is
I was at a republican event on Saturday evening. It was a
wonderful event organized by people from the Colin area of
In the course of it people raised two issues with me. One
was about policing, which I will deal with in a minute. The
other was about Ian Paisley.
There is obviously a lot of scepticism about whether Ian
Paisley is up for doing a deal next week or indeed at any
time? That scepticism is justifiable given his role for
over 40 years or so. But it also misses the point.
We republicans are the people who have a vision of a new
Ireland - a united and independent Ireland in which orange
and green live together as equals.
A new Ireland in which orange and green work in
partnership, shaping out a new future, a shared future, a
prosperous and peaceful future.
Have we let Ian Paisley put us off this at any time?
Today Irish republicanism is stronger than at any time
since the 1920s. That is a credit to all of you in this
room and across this island.
Do any of us let the DUP or Ian Paisley stop us from being
Has he stopped us from making our vision a reality? Has he
stopped us building our party? Or winning support right
across the island of Ireland?
Of course not.
So, is Ian Paisley up for doing a deal next week?
I don't know. But I do know that the question is no longer
about whether the DUP will do a deal, the question is about
when the DUP will do a deal.
We have to appreciate that this presents huge challenges
for them. Not least because of the role of their leader
over the last four decades or so.
So we have to put ourselves in their shoes and consider
this from their perspective. That doesn't mean that we have
to be less assertive or that we have to accept anything
less than our full entitlements as citizens.
It certainly doesn't mean that we have to shed or dilute
our republican beliefs.
On the contrary we have to find ways of putting those
beliefs into practice.
That means winning political support; winning political
We have to think big.
40 years ago unionism was in control. The six counties was
a one party state. One Unionist Prime Minister famously
described it as a protestant Parliament for a protestant
The rest of us were on our knees. Forced there by an
arsenal of repressive legislation and a brutal state police
force and its armed militia.
All that has changed. Changed utterly.
Of course partition still remains in place. British rule
continues. But huge progress has been made and the
trajectory is set for the future.
Our responsibility is to keep moving forward in a unified
and cohesive way through the current difficulties.
We do this by meeting all of the challenges facing us, and
by open and comradely debating all issues, by staying
together ˆ and this is crucial ˆ by all the time moving
Our responsibility is to plot a course - to build a bridge
out of the current situation into a new and agreed Ireland.
Our responsibility therefore is to do a deal with Ian
Paisley. If he can be brought to that point. And if he
cannot then the process continues without him.
Over the last twelve months republicans have taken huge
risks for peace. The IRA delivered on an end to their armed
campaign and on the issue of arms. They have honoured their
Time for Action
The time of reckoning has now come for the DUP. It will
soon become clear if they are prepared to work with all the
If they are then the time for action is now.
The reality is that the DUP is the only party not willing
to enter a power sharing Executive at this time.
All of the other parties are ready and willing to take
responsibility for difficult issues like rates, water
charges, rural planning, education and health.
All of the other parties want to see an end to
unaccountable British Direct Rule Ministers taking bad
decisions on issues they know little to nothing about.
In discussions with the Taoiseach yesterday and with the
British Prime Minister last Friday they reasserted their
commitment in relation to November 24th.
That is Sinn Fein's position also.
This is not because of any desire on our part to see the
political institutions closed down. It is because the DUP
have been desperately playing for time in the vain hope
that a new British Prime Minister might help them, or
elections might change things, or circumstances might
Many republicans have expressed concerns to me about the
stance taken by the two governments. I share those
Part of our responsibility is to keep the British and Irish
governments to their stated public positions that the time
for stalling is over.
The process is moving on, one way or another.
And let me make is clear here tonight that republicans are
up for change. We are up for dialogue with the DUP, we are
up for sharing power with them and we are up for dealing
with all of the outstanding issues.
Let me also make it clear to the DUP that if they decide to
hang about until some later date then they will also have
to accept the changes which will be brought about between
now and then.
This brings me to the issue of policing.
Republicans are for policing. Republicans are for the Rule
of Law. Republicans are law abiding people who want a fair
and equitable policing and justice system that is
transparent and accountable.
Our support for policing and law and order is not a
response to unionist demands.
Neither is it a tradable commodity to be retained or given
away as part of a deal.
Sinn Féin wants acceptable civic policing, which is
democratically accountable and free from partisan political
We want fair, impartial and effective delivery of law and
The core of democratic governance is vested in the rights
of citizens. This is one reason why we put a new beginning
to policing at the core of our negotiations.
Sinn Féin is committed to peaceful and democratic means and
to a rights based society in which the rights of citizens
are upheld in fact and in law.
Citizens have a duty to oppose unjust laws in order to
change them. When that was appropriate we have done that
and in so doing we have brought about many of the positive
changes of the last 40 years or so.
We who have experienced directly the worst forms of state
policing know exactly what will not work.
So, we will not be lectured to on these matters by any
British government or by those who see these concepts as
their law or their order. The DUP in particular are in no
position to preach to anyone about law and order.
We are totally opposed to the sort of policing and justice
system that was the norm in this place for 80 years. We are
totally opposed to a counter-insurgency led, collusion
ridden, sectarian based paramilitary force which seeks to
defend the status quo and the interests of one section of
people by oppressing another section. And we make no
apologies for this.
A huge amount has been achieved.
When British Secretary of State Peter Mandelson gutted the
Patten recommendations Sinn Féin embarked on a
concentrated, focussed endeavour to repair the damage he
and the securocrats did to the efforts to produce a new
We have made significant progress.
Sinn Féin won the argument for amending legislation on
policing and again on justice, including, broadening the
powers of the Police Ombudsman and the Policing Board, and
including the power to initiate reports and inquiries; and
making community policing a core function of the police
In 2003 further changes were won by Sinn Féin, including
the requirement on the British Secretary of State to
consult with the Police Ombudsman, Human Rights Commission
and Equality Commission in key areas; enhancing the powers
of the Belfast sub-groups to place them on a par with other
DPPs; and removing discrimination against political
prisoners from participating as independent members of
Overall in the past five years the British government has
been forced by us to bring in amending legislation on two
separate occasions to remedy flawed Policing and Justice
We have won the argument for transfer of powers on policing
and justice; the argument for democratic accountability as
set out in the Good Friday Agreement.
Everyone now agrees that the transfer of power is required
for a real new beginning to policing to be achieved. That
will require further legislation and the British government
is committed to doing this.
Does anyone here think that the securocrats in Whitehall or
the old RUC want anyone in this hall on policing boards or
to see a republican in charge of policing and justice? Of
So let it be clear Sinn Féin's focus on policing is about
depolitisicing the police force and changing it from an
armed wing of the state to a service for the people.
For Sinn Féin Policing is an area of struggle. We come to
it in the same way as we have come at other issues.
Strategically, in order to advance our struggle, and
because those we represent deserve to have full rights on
all matters, including the issue of policing.
I have no doubt about how big an issue this is for many of
us. That is why I am setting out these options for you
tonight. You have a right to know what our intentions are,
to understand and to be part of our rationale.
Sinn Fein is opposed to criminality of all kinds. Those who
profit from crime have to be effectively challenged and put
out of business. So too must those who target the elderly
and vulnerable. Rapists and racists can have no refuge and
our communities should not have to put up with the scourge
of death drivers, or intimidation and lawlessness by
So, we are determined to make progress in the time ahead.
Things have changed forever
Unionism has been brought once again to a crossroads. The
preferred way forward is for all the political parties to
work together through the Assembly, the Executive, and the
other political institutions to deliver for the people we
represent so that they can have their entitlements to
decent health and other public services, as well as a
stable and prosperous future.
If that is not possible at this time then the process of
change will have to be delivered through advanced political
arrangements between the Irish and British governments.
In all of this there is one certainty - let this be crystal
clear - regardless of what happens tomorrow or on November
24th - the process of change will continue.
Sinn Fein are the guarantors of that.
Things have changed for ever on this island. There is no
going back to the old days."ENDS
Northern Ireland’s Future On The Line, Says Hain
Michael Settle And Robbie Dinwoodie
October 11 2006
Peter Hain will today tell Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams that
they have their "best ever chance" of clinching a long-
lasting deal for Northern Ireland when they meet up for
talks at St Andrews.
In an exclusive interview with The Herald, the Secretary of
State also gives a stark warning to the party leaders about
engaging in the traditional brinkmanship in advance of the
November 24 deadline for resurrecting Stormont. "If there
is any 11th hour highwire posturing, they might as well not
bother. This is it and it's their call. It's not a
difficult job to do," he says.
Mr Hain, who will attend the three-day Scottish summit
along with Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach, goes
on: "It's not just a question of going past midnight for a
few hours, a few days or a few weeks.
"I know and everybody knows that every time that has
happened in the past, it's become a few months and then a
few years and we are back on the same old merry-go-round.
"We are not playing that game this time. It has to be a
100% deal. There can't be a 95% or even a 99% deal, which
could then unravel the other side of midnight."
The Northern Ireland Secretary is clear – "all the
conditions are in place" for a power-sharing deal: the end
of the IRA war; the quietest marching season for years; the
"indices of a healthy society" including the ending of the
old discrimination and the Democratic Unionist leader is
now able to meet leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.
"I don't think these circumstances are going to come round
again for a very long time, if ever," he insists.
Mr Hain confirms that Sinn Fein is "ready to make a
historic move on policing and the rule of law – provided
they get a deal" with the DUP on power-sharing. He says:
"There's a best-ever chance to do the final deal. But I
can't make people, I won't try to bully anybody to it,
that's not what it is about. Neither will the Prime
Minister nor the Taoiseach and we will say – there you are
... the absolute deadline is the 24th and it's over to you.
"There's a great opportunity there. If you don't want to
take it, so be it. Direct rule will go on, North/South co-
operation will deepen and the politicians will get left
behind, which is a tragedy for them and also for democracy
in Northern Ireland. I must be the only cabinet minister
anywhere in the world who's trying to give power to
politicians and they ... have been unwilling to take it up
The Secretary of State adds: "I'm cautiously optimistic,
but in Northern Ireland's politics there's a habit of
things coming out of the woodwork and surprising
everybody...I'm very relaxed about it. We are giving it our
best shot...It's a question of whether the politicians want
to make devolution work or they don't."
Asked if a deal would help him in his bid to become
Labour's deputy leader, he replied: "This is not about us
as individuals or what we might or might not do in the
future. This is about ending a centuries-old conflict."
At St Andrews, police are mounting what is by far the
biggest security operation since the G8 summit, as the home
of golf becomes home to crucial talks aimed at restoring
democratic institutions to Belfast.
Officers from all over Scotland will help protect the
complex at St Andrews Bay, where participants will be
welcomed to St Andrews by First Minister Jack McConnell,
who will have no formal role in the discussions but will
take the chance to have specific talks with the Irish
premier Bertie Ahern.
"Today I will be welcoming colleagues from Northern
Ireland, and Ireland and London
... It would be wrong for any of us in Scotland or at
Westminster to pressurise colleagues in Northern Ireland
into choosing the route of devolved government. I have left
them in no doubt that it had been good for Scotland."
Sinn Féin 'Must Back Police'
11/10/2006 - 08:06:24
The Rev Ian Paisley is right to insist in crucial talks on
devolution for the North that Sinn Féin comes on board over
policing, a senior British government minister insisted
As he prepared to travel with British Prime Minister Tony
Blair today for three days of intense negotiations in St
Andrews in Scotland, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain
said he was cautiously optimistic about a deal.
But he admitted the success or failure of the talks, also
involving Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, would hinge on whether Mr
Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party was ready to share
power with Sinn Féin and republicans were able to give
their backing to the Police Srvice of Northern Ireland.
“The police (in Northern Ireland) have been transformed.
There have been one in five police officers who are
Catholic and it is rising,” Mr Hain said.
“It will rise to one in three within a few years and
probably beyond that. We are now finding the police
accepted in South Armagh (a republican stronghold) where
they have never been accepted before.
“So the transformation has been in policing as well but
Sinn Féin have yet to support the police and the rule of
“Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin’s leaders,
have made encouraging noises recently but they need to
actually sign up.
“I think Ian Paisley is quite right to say that he will be
up for a deal, as he has told me, provided he is sure that
criminality has been eradicated from Northern Ireland
politics and Sinn Féin are supporting the police.
“Then, on the other side, Sinn Féin will want to know that
he is really up for sharing government with them and then I
think things can move forward.”
Northern Ireland’s politicians have been given until
November 24 by the two premiers to remove the barriers to
power-sharing between unionists and nationalists.
Devolution in the province has been suspended for almost
But with last week’s Independent Monitoring Commission
report declaring the IRA has made substantial progress in
dismantling its terrorist structures and disassociating
itself from crime, optimism has been growing in British and
Irish government circles about the prospects of a deal at
St Andrews to resurrect power-sharing.
Mr Hain told GMTV today: “If Ian Paisley agrees to a deal
and makes an agreement in these next few days in St Andrews
he will deliver upon it.
“There is one thing for certain – he has said no for a very
“If we don’t get a 100% deal by midnight on November 24,
then we will shut Stormont down.
“The politicians there have been paid for four years not to
do their jobs. They are the only group of people who get
paid not to do their jobs whilst the Assembly has been
“We have to have closure on this one way or the other.”
Unlikely Setting Where Old Foes May Forge A Historic Peace Deal
THERE are no tapestries on the wall, just reproduction
prints; no antique furniture, just office chairs.
It is in this nondescript room, and others like it, at a
modern hotel in St Andrews that Northern Ireland's fate
will this week be determined.
Unlike previous venues for "make or break" talks on the
province's political future - Hillsborough in Northern
Ireland or Leeds Castle in Kent - the Fairmont does not
carry any historical baggage.
Perhaps that is why the UK and Irish governments decided to
send the politicians there for three days of talks,
beginning today. Without any references to the past - often
the curse of Irish politics - they must hope that
republicans and unionists will consider only the future.
To make them do so, Tony Blair, the PM, and Bertie Ahern,
his Irish counterpart, have insisted the meeting will be a
"lock-in", forcing the participants to talk to each other
as they strive to restore devolved government at Stormont.
The talks will follow the pattern of others, including the
Good Friday meetings of 1998, though with the added
ingredient of Jack McConnell, the First Minister, meeting
and greeting the delegates this afternoon. However, the
real business will begin with a round-table session at
which both the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach will speak,
followed by the leaders of each of the seven political
parties represented in the assembly.
Without debate, they will then break up and go to separate
rooms to begin the to-ing and fro-ing that will lead, it is
hoped, to a deal by Friday afternoon.
Mr Blair and Mr Ahern will see representatives of each of
the parties, usually the leader and chief negotiator -
known as a "one plus one" - at least once in the course of
the talks. They will attempt to persuade the Rev Ian
Paisley's Democratic Unionists to share power with Sinn
Fein, the political voice of the IRA.
Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, and his colleagues will
be told to accept the legitimacy of the Police Service of
Northern Ireland and encourage support for the force in
nationalist communities. Central to that will be the
findings of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC)
report, published last week, which said the IRA was "now
firmly set on a political strategy, eschewing terrorism and
other forms of crime".
Jonathan Powell, a former diplomat and the Prime Minister's
trusted chief of staff, will be central to the process
which, insiders say, will be "very much No 10- driven".
Also playing a crucial part will be Peter Hain, the
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and an experienced
team of civil servants.
They will move between the rooms, probing, prodding,
suggesting, reporting, soothing and smoothing the process.
At some point - probably tomorrow - they will begin to put
together "heads of agreement". These bullet points are
designed to identify areas of agreement. The contentious
issues will be left to last.
Then it will come down to the main players - Mr Paisley and
Mr Adams and the two prime ministers - to try to hammer out
the final agreement.
Mr Blair's spokesman said that, in No 10's view, unionists
"accepted that at some stage they would have to share power
with Sinn Fein".
The UK government has set a deadline of 24 November for the
restoration of the assembly.
There is, however, a more pressing deadline. Mr Paisley and
his wife, Eileen, are celebrating their golden wedding
anniversary at a party on Friday evening, and the DUP
leader has said that nothing will stop him leaving at 4pm.
DEAL or no deal? In order to come to an agreement:
• The Democratic Unionist party has to accept power sharing
with Sinn Fein.
• Sinn Fein has to agree to join the board of the Police
Service of Northern Ireland.
• The DUP has to be finally convinced that the IRA has
given up arms for good.
• Sinn Fein calls for an amnesty for "on the run" convicted
terrorists will have to be resisted to keep the other
parties in the talks.
• Moves to de-couple the joint election of the first and
deputy first minister have to be clarified.
Search For Elusive NI Peace Deal
By Kevin Connolly
If you have a vague feeling that you've been here before,
well that's because you have - figuratively, if not quite
The provincial touring production of Northern Ireland's
ongoing political crisis has indeed been on the road in
Great Britain before - first at Lancaster House in London,
then at Weston Park in Shropshire and most recently at
Leeds Castle in Kent.
This time around, we are in St Andrews - home of golf, and
therefore for the duration of the talks, home of feeble
extended metaphors revolving about bunkers and patches of
Each time the parties are convened the word from the
British and Irish governments is that a deal - a stable
permanent agreement to devolve power to a regime in which
Catholics and Protestants share power - is agonisingly
One Irish newspaper has even quoted the view of one
government source that we are down to the "how and the
when" of a deal. To me it seems, it's still a matter of
You can see how it looks to the two prime ministers who've
invested so much time and effort in a process where push
has shown a genius for never quite coming to shove.
Tony Blair must be considering how his legacy will look to
historians - and it will look a lot better if stability in
Ireland is achieved on his watch.... has any British leader
since before the time of Henry II involved himself in Irish
affairs and left power with his reputation enhanced as a
Bertie Ahern has an eye on the more immediate future - he
faces elections next year and solving "the north" as it's
known in "the south" would go a long way towards helping
the electorate forget a couple of tax-free loans and whip-
rounds he accepted as minister of finance in the 1990s.
The nuts and bolts of how a deal must happen don't change -
you can't have power-sharing without the participation of
the largest party representing Catholics, which is Sinn
Fein, and the largest protestant party - Ian Paisley's
In the last few years, Northern Ireland has undergone a
transformation whose scale is masked by the failure to
agree a comprehensive political deal.
The IRA, for example, has decommissioned its weapons and
wound up its campaign of poltical violence - the only
doubts about it which persist are allegations of
involvement in racketeering.
Gerry Adams, leader of the Republican movement, has become
expert at making enormous changes and concessions while
creating the impression for his own followers that it has
held consistently to its old ways.
The one concession left for Republicans to make politically
is the hardest - the acceptance of the legitimacy of the
police in Northern Ireland, and some sort of involvement in
the criminal justice system.
You will know the troubles are over when Sinn Fein is
advising its voters to make witness statements to the
police, and foot patrols pass unremarked through republican
Republicans aren't going to like it, but most will swallow
it if Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness put their weight
behind the move.
In return, they want Ian Paisley to sign up to sharing
power with Sinn Fein - and that's where the problem may
Enigma of Paisley
Ian Paisley has mellowed at least in terms of his public
pronouncements since the day 24 years ago when he publicly
denounced the Pope as the anti-Christ - but he has built
his career on hostility to Catholic Irish nationalism.
He can portray the changes that Sinn Fein has made as the
result of his own uncompromising negotiating style if he
likes, but if he signs up to power-sharing it will be a
stroke of his pen that puts an old IRA leader - Martin
McGuiness - in power alongside him.
Few people in Northern Ireland know what's in Ian Paisley's
mind, and fewer still know what's in his heart - and
there's no doubt that like Gerry Adams he has the political
skill and authority to sell enormous changes to his
followers if he so chooses.
Is he about to make that choice? I have followed this
process for many years now, and I think Ian Paisley remains
so enigmatic a figure that I feel there's no shame in
saying honestly that I have no idea.
Published: 2006/10/11 00:13:16 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Beyond No Surrender
An Ulster transformed waits to see if its political class
will catch up
The talks that start in St Andrews today have been
described as crucial to Northern Ireland’s future. It is to
be hoped that a dialogue which began with the Downing
Street declaration in 1993, and raised expectations with
the Good Friday agreement five years later, will be
completed with the formation of a DUP-Sinn Fein government
in 2007. Yet, in many senses, Ulster’s future as a society
is already decided. What will be determined over the coming
weeks of bargaining is whether the political class will
catch up with the people.
For the Province that exists today has been transformed
since John Major and Albert Reynolds launched the peace
process 13 years ago. Northern Ireland was then part of a
United Kingdom in which no constituent part enjoyed
devolution. It sat uneasily next to an Irish Republic that
was still an economic laggard, open to the charge that its
politics was warped by a civil war fought decades earlier,
corrupt in character, and too close to the Roman Catholic
Church. The Province had seen the very life and soul
knocked out of it by violence. Who would open a new shop,
hotel or restaurant when it would be bombed?
There are parts of Ulster where not enough has changed in
13 years. But there are none where there has been no
positive change at all, and many are unrecognisable from
what was once the last corner of Europe where the religious
and political conflicts of the 17th century carried on.
Those aged under 30 have virtually no memory of the mayhem
and murder that dominated the news throughout the 1970s and
1980s. The weary cry of “No surrender” is history. The idea
of “a Protestant parliament for a Protestant people” seems
So much of the politics of the years since the Good Friday
agreement was published have been about one side or another
(often both) playing for time. But time has become a player
in its own right. With every day that has passed since,
first, the IRA ceasefire of 1997, then the start of
decommissioning republican arms, and finally the formal
standing-down of that organisation last year, the notion of
a “return to war” has become patently absurd.
Ulster is a much more prosperous and subtly more pluralist
place than it was, in an island of Ireland and next to a
Great Britain that are also more prosperous and pluralist.
Almost no one north, south or east of the border seriously
speaks of enforced reunification. But there are signs of
voluntary co-operation in the Province and between Ulster
and the Republic everywhere. If the constitutional divide
between the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein is stripped
away, the degree of common ground on domestic politics —
from water rates to healthcare provision — is striking.
All this will continue if the St Andrews negotiations are
deadlocked and if the November 24 date for a deal proves no
more of a barrier than many other “lines in the sand” have
been. Northern Ireland does not need devolved institutions
in order to evolve. Direct rule is, nevertheless, plainly
an anachronism and even those who exercise it concede its
legitimacy is threadbare. It would be better if Ulster’s
leaders assumed control of the economic infrastructure,
social services and cultural development of their
community. The opportunity to end the impasse now exists.
The political class has to move beyond the rhetoric of “No
surrender” and catch up with an ever-increasing number of
Who Stands Where On Devolution
As the parties involved in talks on the future government
of Northern Ireland take part in this week's key summit in
Scotland, we take a look at the key issues and players. BBC
Northern Ireland political correspondent Martina Purdy
The Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended on 14 October
2002 when unionist confidence in power-sharing with Sinn
The Ulster Unionist Party was already threatening to end
power-sharing in the autumn of that year because of on-
going IRA activity and slow progress on decommissioning.
But the assembly's fate was actually sealed when the police
raided Stormont on 4 October, amid allegations of an IRA
The court case that followed collapsed and one of those
involved, Denis Donaldson, later admitted working as a
The prime minister subsequently warned there would be no
progress without the IRA committing itself exclusively to a
In return for what he called "acts of completion" by the
IRA, Tony Blair said he would fully implement the Good
Since suspension there have been several failed attempts to
restore devolution and deal with outstanding issues.
Along the way some issues have been dealt with including
IRA decommissioning and demilitarisation by the Army and
Decommissioning, it has been reported, was completed last
year, and demilitarisation is ahead of schedule with troop
levels due to fall to 5,000 at 11 locations by next August.
But a much-anticipated deal to restore devolution
spectacularly fell apart in the autumn of 2003 when the
then Ulster Unionist leader pulled the plug at the last
minute over the refusal of the IRA to be more open about
the nature of decommissioning.
In the assembly election that November, the DUP became the
dominant voice of unionism in the Assembly while Sinn Fein
overtook the nationalist SDLP.
The government restored the assembly in May this year, but
did not give it any power.
Without the devolution of power Sinn Fein refuses to take
part in what it says are meaningless debates.
In June, the British and Irish prime ministers set a
deadline of 24 November for the DUP, Sinn Fein and the
other parties to agree devolution.
Without a deal, the government has vowed to close the
assembly, and remove members' salaries.
The Independent Monitoring Commission on paramilitary
activity has reported this month that the IRA is winding up
key departments and is no longer involved in intelligence
gathering, or targeting.
The government has said the outstanding issues are Sinn
Fein's refusal to sign up to the policing service and
agreement on new operating rules for the assembly and
The government is hoping for progress at the St Andrews
talks on 11-13 October.
Published: 2006/10/10 18:30:55 GMT
© BBC MMVI
SF To Protest Tribunal Laws
11/10/2006 - 7:02:51 AM
Sinn Féin will today protest outside the Dail at proposed
new laws regulating future tribunals.
The party believes a bill due before Government within
weeks could allow cabinet ministers to frustrate inquiries
into British collusion.
In particular, possible future hearings on the 1974 Dublin
and Monaghan bombings, the murder of Donegal councillor
Eddie Fullerton and the shooting dead of solicitor Pat
Finucane could be jeopardised, it is claimed.
Section 34 (7) of the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill allows for
ministerial discretion to withhold certain findings for a
time if it is believed they might hamper relations with
other states or international organisations.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams raised his concerns at this
element with the Taoiseach on Monday, while Aengus
O’Snodaigh TD has written to the Tánaiste and Justice
Minister Michael McDowell, who has indicated he would like
to see the bill passed before Christmas.
“The Government approved an all party motion backing a
demand for a full inquiry by the British authorities into
the murder of Pat Finucane,” said Mr O’Snodaigh, Sinn
Féin’s Justice Spokesman.
“This Bill would greatly undermine that demand. Likewise it
would jeopardise future inquiries into travesties such as
the Dublin Monaghan bombings and others in this state.
“I am calling for a commitment from Michael McDowell to
amend this Bill to ensure that it will not jeopardise the
quest for truth by the families of collusion victims,” he
The party is to stage a demonstration against the proposed
new laws outside Lenister House, at the Kildare Street
Gate, at 12 noon.
DUP Councillor Quits Over Fraud
DUP former mayor of Coleraine Dessie Stewart, who admitted
electoral fraud during the 2005 elections, has resigned
from the council.
He admitted four counts of pretending to be someone else in
order to cast postal votes, and two of fraudulently
stopping free exercise of a proxy vote. Stewart will be
sentenced later this month.
The DUP said at the time of the court case that a
disciplinary panel would review his circumstances.
A party spokesman added the DUP took a "very serious and
dim view" of electoral fraud and other such matters.
Sinn Fein and the SDLP had both called for Stewart to
resign from the council.
The charges related to the last general and local
government elections, which were held on the same day in
Stewart will be sentenced on 24 October at Antrim Crown
Published: 2006/10/10 21:33:02 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Opin: The Troubles Are Over; Now What?
By: Niall Stanage
A small group of New Yorkers are congratulating themselves
on helping to make history this month. Unfortunately for
them, hardly anyone else in the city noticed.
An independent body confirmed last week that the armed
struggle of the Irish Republican Army was at an end,
officially putting a cap on a conflict that began in the
late 1960’s and caused well over 3,000 deaths among a
population roughly the same size as Manhattan’s.
The I.R.A., the Independent Monitoring Commission stated,
“is now firmly set on a political strategy.”
The role of the New York and American Irish may ultimately
amount to no more than a footnote in the remarkable story
of how peace broke out on one of the 20th century’s most
But that will hardly do it justice.
“The part played by Irish America cannot be exaggerated,”
said Conor O’Clery, who was Washington correspondent of the
Irish Times during the critical early phase of the peace
process and who later wrote a book, Daring Diplomacy, about
its American dimension.
“It was Irish America that got the White House involved.
They came together to form a bridge to people in Northern
Ireland who were untouchable at that time.”
One of the first signs of change came in New York in April
1992. In what Congressman Joseph Crowley told The Observer
was a “critical moment,” then-candidate Bill Clinton
promised an Irish-American forum that, if elected
President, he would appoint a special envoy to Northern
Ireland and issue a visa for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams
to come to the U.S.
After Mr. Clinton reached the White House, the Irish-
American lobby provided a combination of reassurance,
pressure and political cover to all sides.
According to one veteran of New York politics who asked to
remain anonymous, citing confidentiality guarantees he had
given, there were effectively two Irish-American “camps” at
the time. The groupings were not rivals, and their
interests often intersected, but each brought different
things to the table.
One was largely composed of New York politicians, including
Mr. Crowley; his mentor, the late Thomas Manton; and
Representatives Peter King and Jim Walsh.
The other was dominated by figures from the Irish-American
business world, among them Bill Flynn, then chairman of
Mutual of America; Niall O’Dowd, publisher of the Irish
Voice newspaper; and reclusive billionaire Charles (Chuck)
The Clinton administration finally issued a visa to Mr.
Adams in February 1994, in large part because of assurances
from Irish-Americans that he was sincere in his professed
desire for peace.
The decision infuriated the British, but it also gave the
Sinn Fein leader increased traction with hard-liners at
home. The I.R.A. declared its historic ceasefire six months
Almost four years would pass before the high-water mark of
the Good Friday Accord. Progress has been slow since then,
and Irish America’s influence has waned.
“It surprises us that it has taken so long,” Bill Flynn
While acknowledging some frustrations, Niall O’Dowd said
that many Irish-American activists felt vindicated by
recent events—especially since, when the process began,
they were excoriated for allegedly lending legitimacy to
“There is a certain sense of satisfaction that their take
was correct—that the situation had to be internationalized,
that America had to get involved, that you had to deal with
the I.R.A.,” Mr. O’Dowd said.
Some big issues remain. Vital talks are to take place this
week in Scotland, aimed at restoring a power-sharing
government. And a deal is by no means certain. The hard-
line Protestant party led by the Reverend Ian Paisley is
now the biggest in Northern Ireland. Though he has shown
some signs of moderation recently, Mr. Paisley remains
obstinate in many ways.
Even if a final settlement is not reached now, however,
virtually no one believes the overall trajectory of the
peace process will be reversed.
That, in turn, has left many Irish-Americans searching for
a new role. As is often the case in politics, their
crowning triumph has eroded their raison d’être.
Some are focusing their energies on campaigning for
immigration reform in the U.S. Others talk of increasing
economic cooperation between America and a booming Ireland.
But it all has a slightly anticlimactic feel.
Referring to the enmities between Ireland and Britain, Mr.
Crowley said: “There has been a maturation of both sides,
and on this side of the Atlantic too. The romantic sense
people had has become much more realistic.”
But, asked about the future, Mr. Crowley did not wholly
abandon his own romanticism. After talking without much
excitement about Ireland’s role as a gateway to Europe, he
“There’s still the question of a united Ireland,” he said
quietly. “That’s something still to hope for.”
Old habits, it seems, die hard.
Film Rev: A Patchwork, But No Bigger Picture
By Paul Bond
11 October 2006
The Wind That Shakes the Barley, directed by Ken Loach,
written by Paul Laverty
The British media are hardly renowned for their objectivity
or restraint when discussing the partition of Ireland,
Britain’s oldest colony. Even so, the abuse heaped upon Ken
Loach for his latest film has been remarkable. While The
Wind That Shakes the Barley was being awarded the
prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the
right-wing British press was denouncing it as being worse
than the work of Nazi propagandists.
Tim Luckhurst, writing in the Times of London, excused the
film-maker Leni Riefenstahl’s support for the Hitler regime
on the grounds that she had not fully understood the Nazism
she praised. According to Luckhurst, though, Loach “does
not deserve such indulgence. He knows precisely what he is
Another Murdoch paper, the Sun, called it “pro-IRA.” The
Daily Mail called the film “a travesty.” Simon Heffer, in
the Telegraph, denouncing the film as “poisonous,”
acknowledged that he had not seen it and declared he did
not need to “any more than I need to read Mein Kampf to
know what a louse Hitler was.”
The British film industry took a similarly dismissive
attitude to the film. Where French distributors purchased
300 copies, British distributors purchased only 30.
Loach’s transgression appears to be twofold.
On one level, it marks a reaction by some of the most
unapologetic sections of the British ruling class regarding
the bloody history of British imperialism in Ireland. A
previous Loach film dealing with covert British operations
in Ireland, Hidden Agenda, met a similarly hostile reaction
from Conservative members of Parliament, who accused it of
At the same time, Loach has explicitly connected his film
with Iraq, and drawn parallels with resistance to
imperialist occupation there. The reaction against the film
reflects hostility towards any opposition to this unbridled
It is to Loach’s credit that he explores questions of the
history and political experiences of the working class. He
is fundamentally a serious film-maker. That he is such a
visible target for the right-wing media testifies both to
his persistence, and to the fact that he has been almost
alone in pursuing this course. This raises two related
questions: to what extent is Loach’s film-making
artistically successful, and to what extent are the
historical-political positions he advances tenable?
The Wind That Shakes the Barley is only Loach’s second
“historical” film (after Land and Freedom), if one does not
include his treatment of the Nicaraguan revolution in
Carla’s Song. It deals with the period immediately after
the First World War. In the aftermath of the Easter Rising
in 1916, resistance was growing to the British occupation
of Ireland. Sinn Fein had declared itself the Parliament of
Ireland (Dail Eireann). The Irish Republican Army (IRA)
armed, and the War of Independence began.
The British responded swiftly and brutally. They
partitioned the northeast of the country and sent over the
“Black and Tans,” a paramilitary body of the Royal Irish
Constabulary, intended, in Winston Churchill’s words, as a
“corps of gendarmerie.” Along with the “Auxiliaries,” an
army body of ex-officers, the “Black and Tans” conducted a
terrifying campaign of repression.
In 1921, British Prime Minister Lloyd George promised
“immediate and terrible war” if the Dail did not accept his
treaty. By a mixture of threats, bribes and lies, Lloyd
George managed to gain agreement to the 1921 Anglo-Irish
Treaty, which enshrined the partition of Ireland and made
all members of the Irish Provisional Government swear
allegiance to the British crown. The British were thus able
to split the nationalist forces of Sinn Fein and drive
Ireland into civil war.
Loach’s film uses two fictional brothers in rural west
Ireland to embody the conflicts within the country as a
whole during this period. Damien O’Donovan (Cillian Murphy)
is about to leave for England to pursue his medical
training, but decides to stay after witnessing British
His brother Teddy (Padraic Delaney) is already active in
the IRA, and Damien joins him in leading the local
detachment. After four British officers are killed, the
local landlord (Roger Allam) threatens one young recruit
with reprisals against his family. The IRA recruit tips off
the soldiers, and the IRA unit is arrested. Teddy is
In the cells, Damien meets Dan (the excellent Liam
Cunningham), a train-driver. Dan, a member of James
Larkin’s revolutionary syndicalist Irish Transport and
General Workers Union, is a veteran of the Dublin socialist
movement. Dan joins the unit when some of them escape,
aided by a young British soldier of Irish descent. They
kidnap the landlord. When news reaches them that the others
have been executed in the prison, Damien takes the
landlord, and the young IRA recruit who betrayed them, up
onto the moors and kills them.
Damien becomes more involved in the guerrilla fighting,
leading an ambush on two trucks of Auxiliaries. However,
differences begin to emerge over the future of the state
they are fighting for. Teddy argues that they need to stay
on good terms with local businessmen in order to finance
their arms. Damien and Dan argue for the establishment of a
Initial delight at the signing of the peace treaty turns to
anger when the terms of the treaty are revealed. Teddy is
adamant that this is the best they can get at this point,
but Damien and Dan pledge to fight on. Dan is killed in a
raid on a police station, and Damien is arrested and
sentenced to death. He is executed by a firing squad,
presided over by his brother.
Loach, with nearly 40 years of filmmaking behind him, has a
preferred method of working. Unusually he shoots a film in
chronological order, allowing the actors to experience the
story as it unfolds. He also likes to release the script to
the cast a scene at a time and only a short time before the
filming of each scene, with the aim of making the
experience as fresh as possible. However, this tends to
reinforce the episodic character of his films.
Here, scenes showing the wider impact of the occupation (as
when Damien is called to visit a sick child) seem somewhat
perfunctory. The most powerful episodes are those showing
the brutality of occupation (the dehumanising round-up of
men coming from a hurling match, Teddy’s torture in the
local garrison), but they underline the extent to which
Loach does not succeed in painting a wider picture. Too
often, we are left feeling that the episode has served an
immediate utilitarian aim without providing any depth.
Using the brothers to symbolise the divisions of the civil
war period is itself somewhat hackneyed. Murphy and,
particularly, Delaney give solid performances, but the
symbolism of the divided family in the rural southwest
presents a political and artistic problem.
Loach has spoken of wanting to show how the occupation and
civil war affected the whole country. In practice, his film
tends to portray the occupation as the shattering of a
rural Irish idyll. While Loach may suggest the
pervasiveness of the occupation’s brutality, he thereby
blunts the notion of a battle going on for a workers’
republic, suggested by the script. The working class of
Dublin and Belfast is only a distant presence. Despite
appeals to events in Dublin, the film remains about
divisions within a rural family.
Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty invoke socialist leader
James Connolly in the film’s political debates, but Loach
has admitted that Connolly’s ideas carried little sway in
the rural southwest. To overcome this, Loach implants the
dynamics of class conflict into characters more or less
defined as “worker” and “landlord.”
Loach has a tendency, in his most didactic material, to
resort to ciphers in place of real characters. The film’s
political discussion is channeled, somewhat artificially,
through Dan. It is never specified whether Dan is a member
of the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI), newly formed at
the time of the treaty, but he possesses the militant
background of an individual involved with Larkin’s ITGWU
and the Easter Uprising of 1916.
This raises many issues, but explains little. Larkin formed
the ITGWU in the early years of the century, while Connolly
was organising textile workers in Ulster. Both came under
attack from the bourgeois nationalists of Sinn Fein, who
said that the dispute was between nations, not classes.
In 1913, Dublin’s employers, determined to crush the threat
represented by the ITGWU, locked out their members. This
long and bloody dispute was eventually sold out by the
leadership of the British trade unions, and Larkin left for
America. A socialist opponent of imperialist war, he hailed
the Russian Revolution and was invited by the Communist
International to represent Ireland—an offer he declined.
(The Russian Revolution, which found a massive response in
Ireland, receives no mention in Loach’s film.)
During the 1913 lock-out, the ITGWU, under constant police
attack, formed a workers’ defence squad. The Irish Citizens
Army, a class-based fighting force, provided the core of
the 1916 Easter Uprising. Connolly, who opposed the
imperialist war, saw it as a revolutionary opportunity for
the Irish working class. He quoted Wilhelm Liebknecht that
“The working class of the world has but one enemy—the
capitalist class of the world, those of their own country
at the head of the list.”
Yet the character of Dan, who seems adrift in the rural
setting, does not serve to clarify any of the political
questions arising from this history. Rather, he becomes a
figurehead for Loach’s own take on resistance to British
imperialism in Ireland.
As in many of Loach’s works, there is a pivotal scene of
political debate. This is perhaps the most tired of the
director’s devices: the debates never quite seem to capture
the relationships between political and social tendencies
in all their richness and complexity. Perhaps Loach’s
method of working with actors prevents them bringing their
best to such scenes. Liam Cunningham and Cillian Murphy
struggle here to sound like more than mere pamphleteers.
Damien and Dan argue against the treaty, as it will simply
maintain the existing property relations. In Dan’s words,
it will just change the accents of the powerful. This, it
must be said, is well brought out in a raid by pro-treaty
militia, paralleling a raid by the “Black and Tans” earlier
in the film. “Out with the ‘Black and Tans,’ in with the
‘Green and Tans,’ “ as one character puts it.
Loach and Laverty clearly oppose limiting the national
movement to the creation of a capitalist state. There were
certainly arguments against the treaty at the time by those
who were for a workers’ republic, such as the CPI. When the
Provisional Government attacked the Four Courts in Dublin,
CPI members fought alongside the anti-treaty forces. In
this respect, the film offers a welcome corrective to the
promotion of the pro-treaty Michael Collins.
Loach’s position, though, still reduces socialists to the
role of advising nationalist uprisings. Without examining
seriously the state of the workers’ movement in Ireland at
the time, he cannot look at what an independent perspective
for the working class might have been.
Without this, the argument is reduced to calls for more
radical tactics to be pursued by a national movement.
During the debate, one volunteer, Congo, says that if they
stop the campaign, then they will never achieve “freedom.”
(Martin Lucey’s performance is striking, capturing some of
the spontaneity of thought that Loach seems to desire but
all too often fails to achieve.) However, as is made clear,
this campaign is not about a workers’ republic, but about
securing the territorial integrity of Ireland on
essentially capitalist foundations.
Reflecting the weakness of the Irish socialist movement
after the persecutions following 1916, this was the main
debate within republicanism during the civil war, which was
fought out as a bourgeois nationalist struggle. Eamonn de
Valera, first president of the Dail, had told Sinn Fein in
1917, “The only banner under which our freedom can be won
is the Republican banner.... Some might have faults to find
with that and prefer other forms of government.... This is
not the time for discussion on the best form of government.
This is the time to get freedom.”
Loach seems keen to use the history of the southwestern IRA
flying columns as inspiration for the actions of Teddy and
Damien. (Ernest O’Malley, who was tortured in Dublin
Castle, and Tom Barry, who led the Kilmichael Ambush, are
both clearly invoked in the characters of the brothers.) By
conflating this trend within republicanism with the
explicitly socialist standpoint of Connolly, Loach
(wittingly or not) blurs the principled dividing lines
between bourgeois nationalism and socialist
Ultimately, The Wind That Shakes the Barley confronts the
viewer as a highly contradictory work. On the one hand,
Loach, because of his one-time association with the
revolutionary socialist movement and his ongoing commitment
to problems of working class life and consciousness,
continues to treat subjects and themes that few other
filmmakers approach. Among more serious elements in the
international film world, he continues to enjoy a
reputation as a highly principled individual. The attacks
of the right-wing media in Britain are not accidental or in
any way misplaced. They have reason to be hostile to
Loach’s work in general and his Irish film in particular.
However, his political and artistic limitations ultimately
restrict every one of his ventures. The Wind That Shakes
the Barley, like other Loach films, seems to hanker after
traditional workers’ organisations that have collapsed, and
betrays a lack of critical insight into the programmatic
basis for these failures. Their collapse, including the end
of the Soviet Union and the devastating degeneration of the
labour movement internationally, has presented every
filmmaker on the “left” with a new and complicated
Loach may have responded better than most, but a film like
this one exposes all that has not been worked through.
Without this, sincerity and sympathy for the working class
is not enough to carry him through to artistic success.
Adding to the difficulties, Loach’s naturalistic, quasi-
improvisational method is proving increasingly inadequate
for tackling the most complex historical and ideological
problems. One is gripped by parts of this film, left quite
cold and unconvinced by others.
Given the obvious parallels between the British occupation
of Ireland and the contemporary situation in Iraq, with a
radicalisation under way within broad layers of the
population, the making of The Wind That Shakes the Barley
could and perhaps should have been a major political-
artistic event, genuinely affecting and helping to educate
a new generation of young people in particular. That it is
not is due first and foremost to the film industry’s
efforts to bury Loach’s work, but his film’s unclarified
and unresolved elements also play a role.
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