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October 12, 2006

Ahern & Blair May Publish Plan B

News About Ireland & The Irish

UN 10/12/06 Ahern & Blair May Publish Their Own Devolution Proposals
IN 10/12/06 Pressure On But DUP Digs In Against Deadline
BN 10/12/06 SDLP Accuses SF Of Exaggerating
SF 10/12/06 SF Announce Details Of 'Can You Afford It?' Campaign
NH 10/12/06 'State Collusion Must Be Addressed Once & For All'
IT 10/12/06 O'Loan, Paisley Have Heated Coffee Shop Row
SF 10/12/06 Unionists On Ballymoney Council Exposed By Euro Rpt
IN 10/12/06 Flag Removal A ‘Small Victory For Equality’
BT 10/12/06 Opin: Our Future - It Must Be In Our Hands
IN 10/12/06 Opin: If Assembly Goes Down The DUP Goes With It
IN 10/12/06 Opin: Paisley’s ‘Big Media Day’ Leaves Him Flat-Footed
UN 10/12/06 Opin: Winds Of Change
BN 10/12/06 IRL’s Wealth Distribution Among Worst In OECD Countries
IT 10/12/06 Few Check For Signs Of Cancer
IT 10/12/06 Agreement On Flight Data Of US-Bound Travellers Passed
HC 10/12/06 Inflation In Ireland Drops


Ahern And Blair May Publish Their Own Devolution Proposals

13:02 Thursday October 12th 2006

The Irish and British Governments are planning to draw up
their own proposals for restoring devolution in the North
if local politicians fail to reach a deal during talks in
Scotland this week.

The plans were disclosed by a spokesman for British Prime
Minister Tony Blair today as the North's parties enter a
second day of negotiations at St Andrew's.

The talks are aimed at securing a deal to restore power-
sharing before the November 24th deadline set down by the
two governments.

However, the Irish-British move to draw up their own
proposals is being interpreted at a sign of frustration
with the lack of progress so far.

Mr Blair's spokesman says if a deal is not reached by
tomorrow, London and Dublin will publish a paper outlining
deadlines for movement by the DUP and Sinn Fein on the
issues at the centre of the disagreement.

If that fails to break the deadlock, the two governments
are planning to shelve the Northern Assembly indefinitely
and withdraw salaries and allowances from the North's


Pressure On In Scotland But DUP Digs In Against Deadline

From William Graham Political Correspondent in St Andrews

Ian Paisley can advance the issue of policing in Northern
Ireland if he gives a clear signal that there will be power
sharing, Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness stressed last

Mr McGuinness emerged from talks in St Andrews insisting
Sinn Fein could not move on policing unless the DUP agreed
to devolved government featuring Sinn Fein.

“I think that there is no doubt that a majority of
unionists and loyalists want to see their leaders working
in partnership with ourselves and the SDLP for a better
future for the children,” the Mid Ulster MP said.

“I certainly think that a deal can be done but I would like
to hear Ian Paisley say that he is ready to go into
government with the Sinn Fein leadership. I would like to
hear Ian Paisley face up to the reality for example as we
major on the issue of policing that the issue of policing
has as much to do with him as it has to do with the Sinn
Fein leadership.

“The transfer of [policing and justice] powers [from
Westminster to a future Stormont government] is of critical

Earlier, the two governments made it clear that their aim
was to reach a “final agreement’’.

Minister for foreign affairs Dermot Ahern said the parties
at yesterday’s round-table session indicated that “they
were willing to look at a deal”.

“We are now teasing this out with the individual parties.
We are now down to key issues,” he said.

These were a commitment by Sinn Fein to fully support
policing and a commitment by the DUP to share power with

Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokes-man claimed there was an
emerging convergence on the two issues.

But the reality last night was that DUP leader Ian Paisley
appeared to be digging in against the November 24 deadline.

According to Mr Paisley, the DUP was not interested in
deadlines but in “getting the IRA to deliver” including
getting them “to hand back their ill-gotten gains”.

But Mr Blair’s spokesman said: “There will not be another
round in the round of endless talks. This is it.” He said
he detected “a willingness to give it a go”.

The talks opened in plenary session and were first
addressed by Mr Blair and the taoiseach followed
contributions from Alliance, DUP, PUP, SDLP, Sinn Fein, UUP
and UKUP.

The first business on the schedule today will involve the
Mr Ahern and Mr Blair meeting each party on the crucial
policing issue.

The real crunch will come at lunchtime tomorrow when the
governments will know whether the outline of a political
deal can be achieved.

Earlier SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: “These talks give us
an opportunity to complete the business of putting in place
an agreement that the people north and south voted for
eight and a half years ago.

“In many ways it is about putting in place the principles
and arrangements which were on offer to parties in Northern
Ireland as far back as the seventies.”

He urged other parties to finally sign off on the
requirements of powersharing and on the new beginning to

“This is catch-up time for Sinn Fein and the DUP.”

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said there were two
real key issues.

“One is policing and the other is will Ian Paisley go into
government and will he endorse the operation of the Good
Friday agreement?”


SDLP Accuses SF Of Exaggerating

12/10/2006 - 08:26:41

Sinn Féin demands for a devolved Northern government to run
policing and justice are decorative, an SDLP rival claimed

As Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British prime minister Tony
Blair prepared to focus during the second day of the talks
in Scotland on getting Sinn Féin to endorse the PSNI, SDLP
negotiator Sean Farren claimed real change had already been
delivered on policing for five years.

“I think there has been a lot of over-exaggeration and
over-statement from Sinn Féin about the transfer of
policing and justice powers to Stormont," the North Antrim
Assembly member said before the second day of talks in St

“They talk about accountability but we have actually been
involved in policing for five years and have witnessed
significant changes at first hand.

“While the transfer of powers would be symbolic, it remains
to be seen how a minister would perform any more
effectively in that regard.”

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair have identified two key issues that
could open the door to a return to power-sharing in the
North for the first time in four years.

They want Sinn Féin to join the three other parties that
would form a devolved executive – Ian Paisley’s Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP), the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP –
in endorsing the PSNI.

They also want a clear signal, particularly from the DUP,
that power-sharing will take place.

The North’s politicians must agree a way forward on these
issues by November 24.

After the first day of talks in the luxury £58m (€85.9m)
Fairmont Hotel and golf resort, the DUP and Sinn Féin
remained divided over which move should come first.

On his arrival at the talks, Mr Paisley, who could be the
North’s first minister if a power-sharing government is
formed, insisted republicans needed to deliver not just on
policing but also on ending criminality and handing over
the proceeds of IRA crime.

“If you are going to be in government of a country you must
support the police,” the North Antrim MP said.

“You have to support the police not by joining a police
board but by giving the police the information you have and
also give them evidence to help them to solve the crimes
that terrorism has committed.

“Also, you have to hand back your ill-gotten gains. We want
to see that and if we see that then there is hope.”

Later, Martin McGuinness, who could serve alongside Mr
Paisley as deputy first minister, insisted his party could
not endorse the PSNI without the DUP first agreeing to a
revival of power-sharing.

The Mid Ulster MP said: “Ian Paisley cannot walk into these
negotiations and say we need the issue of policing resolved
and it is over to Sinn Féin.

“It is their responsibility to deal with it too.

“We cannot deal with the issue on our own. What I am saying
is we need help, Ian Paisley’s help.

"We need the British prime minister’s help in facing up to
the issues which are causing difficulties for us within the
process of resolving the issue of policing.”

Mr McGuinness said that as things stood it would be a waste
of time for him to ask republicans in Crossmaglen, south
Derry or east Tyrone to join the PSNI, which he viewed as a
British-controlled police service.

“What we can do in the context of getting powers
transferred from British control to a locally-elected
administration is make a very convincing case that this is
a policing service that is rooted on the island of Ireland
and which is working in co-operation with the gardaí to
root out criminality, which is the enemy of all of us,” he


Sinn Féin Announce Details Of Next Steps In 'Can You Afford It?' Campaign

Published: 12 October, 2006

Sinn Féin Assembly group leader John O'Dowd has announced
details of the next phase of the campaign demanding the
return of the Assembly, Executive and all-Ireland
institutions before the November 24th deadline.

Speaking today Mr O‚Dowd said:

"This campaign is about reaching out and engaging with all
sections of our society and encouraging them to get
involved in the campaign. Our message is simple. Direct
Rule - Can you afford it?

"November 24th is the deadline for the return of the
institutions. We are encouraging people to speak up because
the November 24th deadline is a pivotal moment in the peace
process that will affect all our futures. While some people
may not think that it matters, I think that they should
think again. The loss of the Assembly and Executive will
mean no direct voice for local people. As a society we will
lose out. People need to ask themselves if they can afford:

:: Rates Increases
:: Lost Investment
:: Water Charges
:: Education Cuts
:: Job Losses
:: Health Cuts
:: Economic Collapse
:: Racism and Sectarianism
:: Unfair Planning Laws
:: More Rural Decline

"But there is an alternative and that is to restore the
institutions and implement the Good Friday Agreement.

"The campaign will be going out onto the streets over the
next couple of weeks and we are asking people to mobilise
their friends and neighbours, to contact the media and to
lobby their local politicians and civic leaders.

"No one is saying that power-sharing will be a panacea for
all our problems but I strongly believe that a locally
elected and accountable Assembly and Executive will do a
much better job than part-time Ministers." ENDS

Campaign details

The campaign started with a Rally in the Europa Hotel on
Tuesday 10th in Belfast.

Sinn Féin councillors have already brought motions to
Councils calling for an immediate return of the Assembly,
Executive and all-Ireland institutions. These have
successfully been adopted in a number of Councils including
Fermanagh, Omagh, Limavady and Newry and Mourne.

Sinn Féin elected representatives and party activists have
been engaged in an extensive outreach and engagement
programme with business leaders and organisations, with
Trade Unions, and with the community sectors to encourage
debate about the need for the institutions to be restored
before the November 24th deadline.

A Sinn Féin road show involving Assembly members, MPs and
councillors will visit towns and villages across the north
over the next week to distribute over 160,000 leaflets
started on Wednesday 11th October. More dates and venues
will be added later.

Wednesday 11th October
Ballymena, Ballycastle, Ballymoney

Thursday 12th October
Lisnaskea, Enniskillen Coleraine, Limavady

Saturday 14th
Omagh, Strabane Lurgan, Portadown, Banbridge Ballynahinch,
Newcastle, Warrenpoint, Downpatrick Cookstown, Magherafelt

Wednesday 18th
Armagh City

Thursday 19th
Derry City, Newry

Friday 20th

Thousands of people will also be contacted directly by e-
mail over the coming days and weeks to encourage them to
get involved in the campaign.

Sinn Féin will be launching a new website next week.


'Issue Of State Collusion Must Be Addressed Once And For All'

(Catherine Morrison, Irish News)

It has been described as "the elephant in the room" at this
week's talks but who is representing the thousands of
people who lost loved ones during and after the Troubles?
Catherine Morrison reports

A cross-community delegation of victims' families is
demanding that the issue of victims is put on the agenda at
today's (Wednesday) make-or-break talks in St Andrews.

They have called for a meeting with representatives of all
political parties as soon as they return to Belfast to
discuss policing and justice, which are set to be the key
tests of this week's negotiations.

Mark Thompson, of the pressure group Relatives for Justice,
said many of those who lost loved ones feel they are being
"pushed into a corner" by those in power.

And with policing looking set to become the key issue of
the talks, he said many of those whose relatives were
murdered by or with the help of agents run by the security
forces feel they should be consulted about the issue.

Mr Thompson said the issue of collusion must be addressed
"once and for all".

"If they don't deal with this now, they'll be in Scotland
or somewhere else in four years' time,"' he said.

"If you are going to have a political agreement, you can't
not talk about the elephant in the room.

"People were denied the truth and then you have a
government which says well, we'll bring the two bad guys
into the room - republicans and loyalists - but the reality
was that the state was the bad guy as well."

Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond was murdered by the UVF
in November 1997, said unionist politicians have avoided
facing the truth about policing and collusion between the
security forces and loyalist death squads.

Mr McCord's claims that an RUC Special Branch informant was
involved in his son's murder are being investigated by
Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan. The report is due out later
this year.

"All the issues that are going to dominate these talks
concern policing," he said.

"The DUP can't point the finger at Sinn Féin about policing
when they have let policing issues be conducted in the way
they are in this country, with collusion. Ian Paisley has
avoided the issue himself, never mind Gerry Adams."

John Allen, whose son John (31) was shot dead at his flat
in Ballyclare, Co Antrim, in November 2003 by the UVF, is
considering asking the Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan to
intervene in his son's case.

Mr Allen has accused police of turning a blind eye to the
activities of the UVF in the Ballyclare area in order to
protect an informer.

Mark Sykes was injured in the UVF attack on the Sean Graham
bookmakers on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast in February
1992. His brother-in-law Peter Magee (18) was killed. Mr
Sykes will be travelling over to Scotland to lobby the
parties and governments to put victims at the top of their

Mr Sykes said the British government had "underestimated"'
the families of murdered loved ones.

"They think the longer this goes on, that we will go away,"
he said. "They underestimate the families of loved ones who
have been killed because we owe it to them. If you do
nothing then their memory is forgotten, but if you do
something about it, then at least you can say to yourself
and your family, 'I've done my best'."

October 12, 2006

This article appeared first in the October 11, 2006 edition
of the Irish News.


O'Loan, Paisley Have Heated Coffee Shop Row

Last updated: 12-10-06, 07:08

Northern Ireland police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan had a stand up row
with senior Democratic Unionist Party member, Ian Paisley Junior,
in a Belfast city centre coffee house, it was revealed las night.

The pair clashed in front of customers, with the argument
understood to have centred on Mrs O'Loan's family.

The police ombudsman was with two of her sons when a tense
exchange rapidly escalated yesterday afternoon.

At one stage it is believed Mr Paisley, a member of the Northern
Ireland Policing Board and a fierce critic of Mrs O'Loan, asked
one of her sons to leave the premises.

The DUP Assemblyman had been in the cafe with an official from
the Northern Ireland Office when the row flared.

One onlooker said: "The whole place went silent. It was totally

A spokesman for Mrs O'Loan confirmed there had been an incident,
but emphatically denied that either of her sons had hurled any

He said: "The two of them (Mrs O'Loan and Mr Paisley) encountered
each other in a coffee house and got into a discussion.

"It's understood Mrs O'Loan was talking about Mr Paisley's views
on the Office and other matters relating to her children.

"The son didn't shout anything and although it was a heated
discussion it was simply that and nothing more."

© 2006


Unionists On Ballymoney Council Exposed By Council Of Europe Report

Published: 12 October, 2006

Ballymoney Council has been singled out for criticism in a report
to the Council of Europe. The report which was submitted by the
Irish Language Group Pobal, cites Ballymoney Council as a prime
example of how the UK Government is failing to make their
commitments under the European Charter for Regional or Minority
Languages. The failure relates to the Council's decision last
year not to act on a public request for bi-lingual signage in
Carnfinton Park, Rasharkin.

Other local councils have not escaped the notice of the Irish
Language Group either. Pobal contacted all 26 Councils to
ascertain whether they accepted oral or written correspondence in
Irish. Ballymena, Antrim and Moyle Councils are singled out for
not even answering Pobal's query.

Ballymoney Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay has said that it was
evident that the DUP stance on the issue was clearly damaging the
image of the Council both home and abroad.

Cllr McKay said:

"Ballymoney Council has never had a great reputation in the eyes
of nationalists in this area, and it is hardly surprising that
the Council and a copy of a proposal by DUP MLA Mervyn Storey has
been listed in this report as good examples of how European law
is being flouted.

"The efforts by the DUP to try and get the Council to ignore
requests from residents for bi-lingual signage could have
resulted in the Council being brought to court - and it still
could. What it has resulted in is Ballymoney being made an
example of at the Council of Europe.

"It is also clear that other Councils in the North-East not only
have trouble dealing with requests in Irish, in the cases of
Antrim, Ballymena and Moyle Councils, they never even bothered
responding to a Gaelic speaker! Commitments were made in both
European legislation and the Good Friday Agreement to uphold the
rights of the Irish speaking community and it is quite clear that
many Councils here are in breach of those." ENDS


Flag Removal A ‘Small Victory For Equality’

By Suzanne McGonagle

LISBURN City Council has accepted that the Union flag should only
fly at its headquarters on designated days.

Nationalist council members last night welcomed the decision to
remove the flag from its permanent position at the city’s Civic
Centre, claiming it was a “small victory for equality”.

However, a DUP councillor said that although DUP members were
disappointed at the decision, they were happy a motion had also
been passed to see the Union flag fly at the city’s war memorial
all year.

The move by the council’s Strategic Policy Committee came three
months after the local authority was informed that it was
contravening its own equality scheme.

Following a complaint from Sinn Fein councillor Paul Butler an
investigation by the Equality Commission found that the council
was guilty of breaking its own equality rules through excessive
flying of the Union flag at its headquarters and other council

At a meeting of the Strategic Policy Committee this week members
agreed that the flag should only fly at the headquarters on 17
designated days as well as two further days to mark the Somme
commemorations and the Twelfth of July.

It is unclear when the Union flag would be removed but the
decision is due to be put before a full council meeting at the
end of October.

Nationalist representatives last night claimed that unionist
members were left with no choice but to agree to the decision and
faced a legal challenge if they had of op-posed the Equality
Commis-sion’s ruling.

“It is a bit of a victory but there is definitely a lot more to
be done,” Mr Butler said.

“The reality is that they were facing a legal challenge.

“This is a small victory for equality. Our view is that there
should be no flags flying at all. Obviously we have still a lot
to do.”

SDLP councillor Patricia Lewsley said: “I’m delighted that this
has now gone forward and that Lisburn is a city for all.

“We want to see a neutral environment for everyone.”

However, the DUP’s James Tinsley voiced concern that the removal
of the Union flag would prompt an increase of flags erected along
the main arterial routes in the city.

“The ruling left us with little option. It has now been reverted
back to the old policy set by the Ulster Union-ists, which means
the flag will fly on 17 designated days plus two days,’’ he said.

“But we’re happy that there will be a flag flying at the war
memorial 365 days a year.

“When it was flying [at the Civic Centre] there was a reduced
number of flags on lamp-posts on the main arterial routes, so we
just hope we won’t see an increase in them again.”


Opin: Our Future - It Must Be In Our Hands

12 October 2006

Four years after the Assembly was suspended, Tony Blair and
Bertie Ahern have begun their final attempt to break the
political deadlock. The circumstances are better than they have
been for a long time, but everything depends, ultimately, on the
four main parties being prepared to share power and support the
police and justice system.

Both the DUP and Sinn Fein, old enemies, say they are ready to
restore devolution - provided that their demands are met. Ian
Paisley wants to be sure that the IRA has gone away, both in the
paramilitary and criminal sense, and Gerry Adams wants a more
accountable PSNI before he would advise his party to join the
Policing Board and encourage police recruitment.

With six weeks to go before the November 24 deadline, the two
leading parties are still playing hard to get. While the latest
Independent Monitoring Commission report was the most positive
yet, Mr Paisley has yet to be convinced about the IRA's
retirement. And although Mr Adams believes it is only a question
of time until the DUP relents, he has yet to commit himself to
calling a special meeting on support for policing. Other issues
are re-appearing on the agenda, like on-the-runs, exiles and

Everyone is making reasonable sounds, so a deal should be on, but
politicians and the public have had enough experience of failure
to know the enormity of the task. Having seen the first attempt
end in chaos, leaders who have not even talked to one another, in
the nine years since the last IRA bombs exploded, are expected to
take up the positions of First and Deputy First Minister of a
four-party executive.

Not only have they to work out a timetable for the achievement of
their initial demands, but they must reconcile, in government,
their fundamental constitutional differences. They will have to
concentrate on what they agree upon - better governance than
direct rule for Northern Ireland - rather than their ultimate
objectives of a stronger union with Britain and unity with the

On the plus side, the politicians know that just as the
governments are growing impatient, the people are increasingly
anxious for a deal. They see the direct rule ministers taking
decisions that should be theirs, affecting the lives of their
constituents for years ahead - on rates, water tax, schools,
supercouncils and so on.

The two governments are adamant that by Saturday there must be
the clear outline of a deal - or else the chance of ordering our
own lives and enhancing our economic future, through a possible
reduction in corporation tax, will be gone for many years. Plan
B, with its greater north-south dimension, could re-ignite old


Opin: If Assembly Goes Down The DUP Goes With It

By Brian Feeney

The main problem about holding talks in Scotland this week to try
to draw up heads of agreement both Sinn Fein and the DUP can
subscribe to is that it gives oodles of time for Paisley to
invent reasons to unsubscribe before

November 24.

It’s true that gradually the British government is cutting away
each of his objections to sharing power with Sinn Fein. Removing
objections, excuses and pretexts is not enough, however.

Dublin and London believe they need to show Paisley that the
alternative to sharing power is incomparably worse than sharing

So far our beautifully-maintained proconsul has been doing his
best. Abolition of the 11-plus, changes to rates, introduction of
water charges, implementing the review of public administration
with seven super councils – all come into operation after
November 24.

There is a hint that there is even worse to come.

The inescapable conclusion for Paisley’s voters is that his
dithering will be the cause of all their woes. Well, that’s the
plan anyway.

You can see it’s a cunning plan concocted by some eejit in the
NIO, their equivalent of Baldrick, because none of Paisley’s
voters will blame Paisley. On the contrary, they blame our
proconsul and his unaccountable officials.

They’re outraged at the stupid and obvious blackmail aimed at
middle-class unionist voters who stand to lose most from the
changes to rates, abolition of selection and water charges based
on rateable value of homes. They even ignore the truth that the
political parties actually planned to introduce all these
measures themselves if they’d been in an administration. What is
certain is that this cunning plan exerts no pressure at all on

The other line of attack is the threat of increased Dublin input
into the north – the ‘New Partnership’ between the two
governments tantalisingly dangled as Plan B. Don’t hold your

Some of it will roll into operation before the next IMC report in
the spring and may cause some consternation among DUP supporters.

The idea is that the UUP will be able to say that Paisley, the
man who has ranted against Dublin interference since he threw
snowballs at Sean Lemass’s car 40 years ago, in a supreme irony
is now the man who has caused more Dublin interference than any
previous unionist leader.

By refusing to share power Paisley has brought Dublin officials
and politicians into northern affairs in a more direct way than
ever before and in such fashion that it can never be rolled back.

The trouble with this scenario is that its creators forget that
the DUP has expanded and changed.

Time was the party was just a mirror for Paisley to admire his
own image in. There was Peter Robinson like Brains in
Thunderbirds, Warbling Willie McCrea, and the ridiculous ‘Mini-
Me’, Ian Og, bringing up the rear.

Now there are 32 assembly members, many of whom are as
fundamentalist as Paisley but better educated and just as

It’s no use threatening these guys with loss of salary and
assembly expenses.

Some of them would eat grass rather than deal with Sinn Fein.

Now the problem for Paisley is this. Even if he wanted to make a
deal, about half his party don’t want it. For the first time in
his career he has to deal with guys more ideologically pure than
himself, guys for whom the DUP is not merely a political party
but the political expression of a theological position.

Yet Paisley knows this is his last chance. If he doesn’t do a
deal and have an assembly election in the next nine months the
DUP will wither away. Oh yes, there will still be the nine or 10
MPs but without a platform the party will begin to disintegrate.
The SDLP never recovered from the collapse of the Convention in
1976. The choice for Paisley is not whether to stop water charges
or more Dublin involvement.

They were both going to happen anyway.

The choice is whether to maintain the political party he built up
from nothing and the new generation of loyalist politicians, or
allow it to dissolve into groups of ageing backwoodsmen in rural

If the assembly goes down, the DUP, the devolutionist party, goes
down with it.


Opin: Paisley’s ‘Big Media Day’ Leaves Him Flat-Footed

By Jim Gibney

Is there no member of Ian Paisley senior’s family prepared to
intervene and save him from further humiliation in front of
television cameras?

Is there no member of the leadership of the DUP prepared to
advise ‘big Ian’ that his media days are over?

Television is a powerful medium without any discretion,
especially live. It highlights the good and the bad in equal

But there was no good to be seen when Paisley was being
interviewed on BBC and UTV last Thursday following the report
from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).

For a man of his years he looks physically well but he could not
answer coherently even the most basic questions.

It was painful to watch and tugged at your sympathetic instincts
even for Paisley who has spent his entire life provoking
nationalists with his sectarian opinions.

It is also interesting to probe the question why on that day, a
‘big media day’, generated by the IMC’s report, that Paisley
appears live on television whereas Nigel Dodds was pre-recorded
and Peter Robinson was nowhere to be seen.

Last Thursday was an awkward day for the DUP. They regularly used
reports from the IMC to lambast republicans and undermine the
peace process.

They did precisely what you would expect them to do given that
the IMC was set up to provide ammunition for opponents of Sinn

But for supporters of the IMC, like the DUP, this latest report
left them flat footed.

They were caught out because the report confirmed what the
British and Irish governments and most reasonable people already
know – the IRA has kept their word and fulfilled all of their

Fair-minded people, and especially the two governments, do not
need a report from the IMC to tell them what they already know.

Republicans certainly do not need the IMC or its reports to tell
them about the huge changes brought about by the leadership of
Sinn Fein and the IRA.

So why did Robinson, Dodds and others in the DUP, well able to
handle the media, leave their leader so isolated and vulnerable?

Was it because they have no credible answer to the question about
their refusal to restore the all-Ireland Ministerial Council,
Executive and Assembly – the institutions of the Good Friday

Was it because they cannot dodge the question, now staring them
in the face as never before, about sharing power with Sinn Fein
in these institutions?

Or was it too risky for individuals with leadership ambitions to
face such questions in case their answers were too positive and
undermined their standing inside the DUP?

Leadership is about leading from the front. It is about
challenging yourself and your organisation to think differently,
to think the unthinkable and when needed to do what was
previously considered the undoable.

This approach to leadership is particularly important in conflict
situations like our own. It is the approach taken by the
republican leadership.

The DUP thus far have failed to provide this type of forward-
looking leadership.

This failure will only add to the DUP’s difficulties should they
decide to make a deal prior to or on November 24.

A fleeting indication of what they may be facing emerged from
what could be described as a safe meeting at the Assembly,
Wednesday week ago.

Peter Robinson said that a ‘mandatory’ administration, which
means one involving Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the UUP and the DUP,
should be short lived, at which point their one-time ally Bob
McCartney sallied forth to accuse the DUP of a policy shift only
to be rebuked by Gregory Campbell who tied himself in knots
claiming they were for ‘voluntary’ coalition but mandatory
coalition was being forced on them.

However, the DUP, should they choose to do so, are capable of
bringing their organisation into the real political world.

The historic meeting with Archbishop Brady proves this. However,
time will reveal whether this meeting was for show or represents
forward movement.

What is clear is the DUP are the only party blocking a deal. One
could be done today in Scotland if the DUP had the will to step
over the line and leave the politics of domination behind them.


Opin: Winds Of Change

A file item on one of Monday night's televised news bulletins
showed a bemused Pope John Paul II looking on as a member of the
European parliament was being forcibly removed from the chamber,
protesting against the Pope's presence there. The protester was
the Rev Ian Paisley, founder/Moderator of the Free Presbyterian
Church, a man who has made a long career of belittlement of the
Catholic Church and outrageous declarations of heinous name-
calling of the Church's leaders, in Rome and elsewhere.

The film clip was resurrected because earlier that day the same
Ian Paisley had met, shaken hands with, had tea and discussions
with the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Sean
Brady in Stormont.

Winds of change indeed.

Dr Paisley is now the most powerful politician in Northern
Ireland. For many years he mixed politics and religion, adding
the founding and leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party
(DUP) to his Free Presbyterian Church establishment. His party's
eclipse of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in the North's most
recent election has given him and his party the opportunity to
play a hugely significant role in the building up of a new,
peaceful Northern Ireland, one free from the chains of bitterness
and hate, one that has the rule of democracy and the wellbeing of
everyone, irrespective of class or creed as its raison d'etre.

Allied to the political success that has come the way of Dr
Paisley and the DUP has been the rise of Sinn Fein to be the
strongest republican party in Northern Ireland, ousting the SDLP
in the process. And if there is anything that Dr Paisley detests
as much if not more than the Catholic Church, it is the
republican family of Sinn Fein/IRA.

Bringing the DUP and Sinn Fein together as leaders and promoters
of a bright and peaceful future for Northern Ireland might well
seem a somewhat ridiculous and unlikely concept, given the vast
difference in their outlooks, dogmas and ambitions for the future
of the province. But it had to be tried and both the Irish and
British governments have had to pin their hopes for a final
solution to what has seemed an interminable problem, chiefly on
Sinn Fein and the DUP.

There are, of course, immense differences in how each sees the
North's future evolving, differences that on the surface appear
quite impossible to reconcile. But there is a Good Friday
Agreement there and even though the DUP would like to see it
totally dismantled and a fresh start made towards the achievement
of their ends, as far as the Irish and British governments are
concerned this is not a runner. Whatever future Northern Ireland
is to have must be decided in the context of the Good Friday

Trust and compromise have to be the vital ingredients from here
on. Nor is it a one-sided affair. Sinn Fein too have to be
equally amenable in this regard, although it has to be stated
that there appears to have been far more give - to date - from
the republican movement, illustrated especially in the
decommissioning of arms about which the DUP continues to have

The two governments have set a deadline of November 24th for the
restoration of the Northern institutions and a return to power-
sharing. This week, over in Scotland and as a prelude to that
hopeful realisation, all the parties involved in bringing it
about have assembled for crucial talks. Sinn Fein is satisfied
that progress can be made and that they and the DUP can make the
future of Northern Ireland work. While the same attitude may not
be as forthcoming among the DUP ranks to the same extent, one can
still sense a desire on their part to go along with power-sharing
and a genuine anxiety to be party to bringing to an end, once and
for all, the really bad days that have bedevilled the people of
Northern Ireland for far too long.

That Ian Paisley should have met with Archbishop Sean Brady on
Monday is something no one, not least those in the DUP party
could have envisaged a decade ago. It has to be seen as an
important step forward, a step that every right minded person
will earnestly hope will lead this week and then on November 24th
to a situation from which there will be no going back - ever.


Ireland’s Wealth Distribution Among Worst In OECD Countries

12/10/2006 - 08:17:53

A new study has reportedly found that the level of wealth
distribution in Ireland is among the lowest in the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Reports this morning say the OECD has ranked Ireland 27th out of
its 30 member countries when it comes to so-called "social

Social transfers are the redistributions of wealth to poorer
sections of society through social welfare or pension payments.

This morning's reports say the percentage of transfers in Ireland
is 15.8%, compared to 31.3% in Sweden, where the level of
transfers is highest.


Few Check For Signs Of Cancer

Paul Cullen


Just one-quarter of Dubliners regularly carry out simple checks
of their bodies for early signs of cancer, according to a new

Some 22 per cent never carry out self-checks, while 41 per cent
say they sometimes do, the evaluation of a cancer awareness
project in the city has ascertained.

The report found that over half of respondents never go to the
doctor, or only sometimes attend, when sick.

It wasn't clear if this was for financial or other reasons.

Seven out of every 10 people who attended one of a series of
cancer information evenings organised by Dublin City Council and
the Health Service Executive in the capital earlier this year
said that they now understood cancer better and would be inclined
to check for early signs of the disease, according to the

It says the information programme, known as Your Health Is Your
Wealth, was a success and should therefore be introduced
nationally. It also recommends that similar health awareness
initiatives be developed around issues such as obesity, cardiac
and respiratory health, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Speaking at the launch of the evaluation yesterday, Dr Henrietta
Campbell of the All-Ireland Cancer Consortium said both parts of
Ireland were "among the worst" in Europe for the incidence of
cancer and for cancer care. "We present ourselves for treatment
much later than elsewhere and often too late."

More than 21,000 new cancer cases a year are diagnosed in the
Republic and 7,800 people will die of the disease. Cancer is
predicted to overtake heart disease as the biggest killer in
Ireland within the next 19 years.

Prof John Reynolds, director of cancer services at the HSE, said
messages about the abuse of cigarettes, alcohol and food had to
be communicated repeatedly at all levels. People were unaware
that most cancers can be cured - if they are treated early

Lord Mayor of Dublin Vincent Jackson described the prevalence of
smoking among young girls as "horrifying". In the west Dublin
schools he visited regularly, up to 70 per cent of teenage girls
said they smoked, compared to just 20 per cent of boys.

"They all claim to know a granny who's 80 years of age, drinks a
bottle of gin a day and smokes 20 fags. The reality, we know, is
that such people are a rarity," Mr Jackson said.

Cancer Warning Signs:

• Breast lumps
• Difficulty in swallowing
• Unexplained weight loss
• Change in bowel movements
• Unusual bleeding
• Cancer in the family - especially breast, bowel, and womb or
© The Irish Times


Agreement On Flight Data Of US-Bound Travellers Passed

Marie O'Halloran

The Dáil has backed by 95 votes to 16 the new agreement between
the US and the European Commission on the transfer of data held
by airlines on travellers from EU states to the United States.

The agreement, which comes into force today, was renegotiated
after the European Court of Justice ruled it illegal.

Since February 2003 airlines flying into the US have been
providing electronic access to information on their passengers to
US immigration authorities as part of a package of anti-terrorism

The passenger name record (PNR) data being provided includes 34
separate items, such as names, addresses, credit card details,
contact persons, meal choices and any notes made by airline

Minister of State for Transport Pat "The Cope" Gallagher, who
introduced the measure, pointed out that "in a sense the
provision of the information is voluntary, but if one wishes to
travel to the US, its provision is obligatory".

Fine Gael's transport spokeswoman, Olivia Mitchell, described it
as a "form of paranoia on the part of the US authorities that
they would require this kind of information, but on another level
one wondered what use the information being transmitted would be
to anybody in determining whether a terrorist attack was being

The Labour Party's spokeswoman, Róisín Shortall, said that the
concerns regarding citizens' rights "had not been adequately
aired or addressed in the agreement".

Sinn Féin's spokesman, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, said that EU member
states should not not allow themselves to be bullied into
applying an agreement which failed to guarantee the data
protection rights of its citizens.

The Green Party's spokesman, Eamon Ryan, commented: "In yielding
data which may be passed on to other governments or third
parties, we will step too far."

© The Irish Times


Inflation In Ireland Drops

© 2006 The Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland — Inflation in Ireland dropped more than
expected, to 4.0 percent last month, partly because of a rapid
decline in oil prices, the government's Central Statistics Office
reported Thursday.

The inflation rate, which reached a 3 1/2-year peak of 4.5
percent in August, fell more than economists' consensus forecasts
of 4.2 percent for September.

The report said gas, electricity and other fuels rose 18.6
percent over the previous 12 months, education costs 4.7 percent,
restaurants and hotels 4.2 percent, and health services 4.2
percent. Clothing and shoes fell 1.9 percent, reflecting the
lower costs of imports from Asia.

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