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October 01, 2006

Ahern Crisis Blow to Power-sharing Plan

News About Ireland & The Irish

GU 10/01/06 Ahern Crisis Deals Blow To Plan For Power-Sharing
RT 09/30/06 Paisley To Meet With Catholic Primate
GU 10/01/06 Civil Servants On Alert - Plot To Seize Their Offices Is Exposed
BN 09/30/06 Poll: Ahern A Hypocrite For Accepting Payments
PC 09/30/06 Senate Ratifies US-UK Extradition Treaty
SB 10/01/06 McDowell's Judgment Calls
GU 10/01/06 Opin: Teflon Taoiseach's Brilliant Career Loses Polished Shine
TO 10/01/06 Opin: Irish-Language Version Of Google Throws A Googly
TO 10/01/06 Warship `Sent To Head Off IRA'


Ahern Crisis Deals Blow To Plan For Power-Sharing

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday October 1, 2006
The Observer

The deepening uncertainty over Bertie Ahern's future has
thrown plans to restore power-sharing government to
Northern Ireland into chaos, British sources admitted last

Downing Street strategists who spent considerable time on
the peace process are said 'to be beside themselves' over
the political crisis in Dublin.

Ahern is due in Belfast on Wednesday ostensibly to speak at
an economic conference. However, his visit north was timed
to coincide with the publication of the latest, and
arguably most crucial, report by the International
Monitoring Commission.

The IMC - the body tasked with ruling on the IRA and
loyalist ceasefires - is expected to conclude that the
Provisionals have stopped all illegal and armed activity.
It is also likely to report that the republican movement is
committed exclusively and totally to peaceful politics.

The British and Irish governments will use the IMC report
findings to argue that Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist
Party has no more excuses not to sit in government with
Sinn Fein. They will contend that the IRA has in effect
gone away and no longer poses a threat.

'The crisis in the Republic throws all that into chaos,' a
British source told The Observer yesterday. 'There are
serious doubts over whether or not Bertie will survive this
week. It takes the focus off the IMC report; in fact, the
crisis will eclipse its findings.'

The Taoiseach is scheduled to answer questions in the Dail
on Tuesday about payments made to him by a group of
Manchester-based businessmen while he was Finance Minister
12 years ago.


Paisley To Meet With Catholic Primate

30 September 2006 23:00

DUP leader Ian Paisley is, for the first time, to hold
talks with Archbishop Se n Brady, Primate of All Ireland.

The discussions will take place at Stormont on Monday week
before the DUP and other parties travel to Scotland for
talks about the future of power sharing in Northern Ireland
with Tony Blair and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.

Recently the DUP promised that it would consult widely
before making its judgement about the possibility of
devolved government.

The meeting with Dr Brady is part of that consolation

Last Monday, Dr Paisley and the DUP delegation held
discussion with the moderator of the Presbyterian Church.

A DUP spokesman said this evening that the party welcomes
the opportunity to discuss the current political situation
with Dr Brady.


Civil Servants Put On Alert As Plot To Seize Their Offices Is Exposed

Henry McDonald
Sunday October 1, 2006
The Observer

All government buildings across Northern Ireland were put
on high alert last week after intelligence reports that one
was about to be taken over by political protesters.

The Northern Ireland Office advised every civil servant to
be vigilant in their workplaces, following information from
the police. The police and the NIO refused to discuss the
security warning and declined to say whether the alert was
still in place. 'We don't comment on intelligence or
security matters,' they both said this weekend.

However, The Observer has learned the threat came from a
republican dissident group that planned a protest
highlighting the status of Real IRA and Continuity IRA
prisoners in Maghaberry top-security prison.

There was no suggestion, however, that the prisoners'
supporters intended to violently storm a government
building or attack staff or security forces during the

In a memo circulated across the civil service, staff were
told: 'Please note that there was a security alert issued
yesterday to all government buildings. It seems the police
have advised that there is a possibility that a government
building may be taken over by an unnamed group wishing to
make a political protest ... If by any chance your building
is targeted for the protest, staff safety should be
paramount. Please do not get involved with the protesters
in any way ... We would not expect anyone to be in danger,
so common sense should prevail.'

In the recent past both republican and loyalist groups have
tried to occupy strategic buildings in Northern Ireland for
political protests. A decade ago loyalist protesters
demanding segregation for UDA and UVF prisoners from
republicans took over the foyer of BBC Northern Ireland in
central Belfast.

Meanwhile, an alliance of anti-Sinn Fein republicans is to
hold what its claims will be a broad-based conference this
month. The meeting of dissident republicans had been
scheduled for Toome, Co Antrim, last month but was
cancelled following a row between ex-IRA prisoner Paddy
Murray and the leaders of other republican factions from
across the North.

According to sources close to the Irish National Liberation
Army, the differences between the dissident republicans
have been 'ironed out'.

They said the agenda for the meeting included standing
high-profile ex-republican prisoners against Sinn Fein
candidates in Assembly, local government and Westminster


Poll: Ahern A Hypocrite For Accepting Payments

30/09/2006 - 21:41:31

Almost two thirds of Irish people believe the Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern is a hypocrite for criticising other TDs for
accepting money for their personal use, according to a new

The poll, in tomorrow's Irish Mail on Sunday also shows
that the majority of people think there will be more
revelations to come about the Taoiseach's personal

However, it finds that only one third of people think the
Taoiseach should resign from his post.


Senate Ratifies US-UK Extradition Treaty

Joshua Pantesco at 3:18 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Senate early Saturday morning unanimously
ratified [US Embassy London press release] the US-UK
Extradition Treaty [PDF text; State Department
backgrounder; JURIST news archive] that was negotiated in
2003 and statutorily incorporated into UK law [Extradition
Act text] the same year. Earlier this year it was
controversially used as the basis for extraditing three UK
NatWest backers to the US [JURIST report] to face charges
in the Enron fraud scandal; a British minister was
subsequently dispatched to the US [JURIST report] to press
for American ratification so the extradition arrangements
for the two countries would be aligned.

Opponents on both sides of the Atlantic have criticized the
evidentiary standard required by the treaty for an
extradition request to be approved. The treaty requires
only a showing of prima facie evidence by the requesting
country, a lower evidentiary standard than probable cause.
In July, UK lawmakers pushed for the treaty to be altered
[JURIST report] to include a presumption that British
citizens accused of committing crimes in the UK should be
tried there.


McDowell's Judgment Calls

01 October 2006 By Pat Leahy

Even if the Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell
has been waiting all his life for the job to which he
recently ascended, he can hardly have imagined that it was
going to start like this.

Even if the Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell
has been waiting all his life for the job to which he
recently ascended, he can hardly have imagined that it was
going to start like this.

McDowell faces the biggest decisions of his political
career, the outcome of which may define his own term of
office, and the future of the party he leads.

All believe that McDowell does not want an election now,
that he wants to continue in government, and to prepare for
and fight an election in which the issue of tax reform and
tax cuts feature strongly.

But you can't always get what you want.

Senior sources in the PDs who spoke to The Sunday Business
Post were convulsed with the question. None was prepared to
predict which way their leader would turn. All conceded
that the consequences of any decision could be enormous for
their party.

It is believed that contacts between the two government
parties will take place over this weekend. Achieving an
agreed way forward will not be easy.

McDowell needs clarity, verifiable answers and demonstrably
true explanations. None have characterised the Taoiseach's
part in the crisis thus far.

However, insiders said that the relationship between the
two men was excellent. Though obviously very different men,
from sharply contrasting backgrounds, they get on well and
have worked closely and cordially in cabinet.


Opin: Teflon Taoiseach's Brilliant Career Loses Its Well-Polished Shine

Henry Patterson
Sunday October 1, 2006
The Observer

It will not be clear until after Bertie Ahern's statement
to the Dail on Tuesday whether his trip to watch his
beloved Manchester United in 1994, and his receipt of
œ8,000 from 'friends' in that city's Irish business
community, will end his political career.

Whatever happens to Ahern, it is likely to have
considerable impact on next year's general election. Until
last week he had a real possibility of winning a third
successive victory, making him the most successful Fianna
Fail leader since Eamon de Valera. Ahern's difficulties
also add one more worrying imponderable for those trying to
engineer the return of devolved government in Northern

So why has the so-called Teflon Taoiseach, who was
relatively untouched by the disgrace of his former close
political allies, Charles Haughey and Ray Burke, been left
looking so vulnerable? Largely it is because the
revelations have dealt a damaging blow to Ahern's
incredibly successful crafting of an image as an 'ordinary
Joe', a working-class Dublin north sider, who has never
broken with his roots.

In an interview in 1998 he declared that 'I have no big
houses or mansions or yachts or studs. All I've got is a
mortgage.' The implicit comparison was with the luxury life
of his former hero, Haughey. Ahern once told a student of
mine that his guiding light politically was the former
party leader and Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, who courted the
unions. Ahern declared himself 'the left wing of Fianna
Fail'. More recently, when some of the shine seemed to have
gone off the Celtic tiger economy and Fianna Fail did badly
in the 2004 European and local elections, Ahern said he was
a socialist. This did not mean dealing with social
inequality, just that he liked simple pleasures rather than
ostentatious consumption.

A brilliant campaigner, his easy affability and image might
still see him through, but perhaps at the cost of the
collapse of the coalition. The hard line of his Progressive
Democrat partners on republican crime has been a plus in
unionist eyes. If Ahern succeeds in soldiering on as
Taoiseach in a minority government without the PDs, the
five Sinn Fein TDs might acquire the political leverage
that republicans have long craved.

If Ahern was replaced in a revamped coalition under Brian
Cowen or Dermot Ahern, the odds against a Northern deal
would lengthen. Both men, as former and current Minister of
Foreign Affairs, would be the butt of Democratic Unionist
Party suspicion of what many see as the most traditionally
nationalist Dublin ministry. Tony Blair, who sees this
month's talks at St Andrews as a key step towards securing
his legacy on the Irish peace process, must be hoping that
Ahern's performance on Tuesday will allow the PDs to
swallow their scruples and stay in government.

ú Henry Patterson's new book, Ireland since 1939, is
published by Penguin Ireland


Opin: Irish-Language Version Of Google Throws A Googly To Gaeilgeoirs

Comment: Sue Denham

Irish-language users are fond of moaning about being unable
to do business in their native tongue. Now they have fresh
grounds for gripe: the Irish-language version of Google
doesn't work properly.

A study by Helen Kelly-Holmes at the University of Limerick
has discovered that even searching for common Irish words
such as siopa, airgead and peil is problematic, and fadas
are ignored.

Gaeilgeoirs looking to do some banking would find that of
the first 10 entries listed by Google for banc, three were
for foreign institutes with "banc" in their titles.

Then there's five Irish translations of legislation dealing
with banks, and a link to the Central Bank, which has one
page as Gaeilge detailing its history and function. "All
its other links and headings are given in English only,"
says Kelly-Holmes, "giving the impression that Irish is
only suitable for heritage/background information, but not
for `serious domains' such as business information."

The final banc listing related to a book about banking on
an online store site. Appropriately the bookshop was called
C£pla Focal: the English website has a light smattering of

Jeremy Irons overjoyed to find out he's (1/64th) Irish

Jeremy Irons already has an Irish wife and an Irish castle
- so how fortuitous to find ancestors who hail from the
auld sod.

The actor was born in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and his
father warned him not to look into the family history as he
would find "only boring accountants". But he signed up for
the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? hoping to find roots in
Cork, where he bought a castle and painted it pink. "When I
first went to Cork I felt like I was coming home," Irons

"I married an Irish woman, Sinead (Cusack), but I felt a
real empathy with Ireland, not just with this Irish girl."

And as luck would have it, the Beeb found that David
McCreight, an old Irons who owned a linen mill, once lived
20 miles from the actor's abode in Ballydehob. Said Irons:
"It was a strange feeling of validation, not dissimilar to
winning an Oscar. And with my great-great-great-great-
grandfather working 20 miles down the road - that was quite

Well, sorry to disappoint Jeremy, but with 64 great-great-
great- great-grandparents, the chances of one of them
coming from Ireland's second most populous county seem
reasonable enough.

When the agents put up a `for sale' board, it's a sure sign

SUE will be having the estate agents around this week to
measure up her pied … terre. Why? Because three of
Ireland's leading estate agents are either selling or have
sold, and it sounds like time to bail out of property.

Pat Gunne, one of the country's leading gavel wielders, has
sold up on Merrion Road. Now Paul Newman (not that one) of
Douglas Newman Good is cashing in on his rectory in
Kildare. Ken MacDonald, Hooke & MacDonald's top dog, is
offloading his pad in Blackrock, Dublin. Sue hears that
Gunne and Newman have bought again, but she's brushing up
on her purple prose anyway, just in case.

Last Tuesday, Julie-Anne Gilmore and Kathy Reid got hitched
and became the first lesbian couple to serve together in
the PSNI. The expectation was that the two would be split
up because of a rule preventing married couples working in
the same station. But Sue is told the rule has been relaxed
- so the Mrs and Mrs team can continue to serve at
Castlereagh in east Belfast.

RTE was proud of its "exclusive" interview last week with
Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager. But oh, danger here!
During George Hamilton's chat with Wenger he mentioned that
Highbury, Arsenal's former home, is being sold off as
apartments and, sweet coincidence, they would feature in a
property exhibition that Friday in Dublin.

We appreciate that interviews with sports stars are hard to
procure, but does our heavily subsidised and highly
profitable public-service broadcaster really have to pay
such an obvious price?

The tug-of-war between TV3 and NewsTalk over broadcaster
Claire Byrne has not been resolved. While TV3 allowed her
on air last Friday for NewsTalk's national launch, it is
not releasing Byrne from her contract just yet. She will
have to juggle duties as radio breakfast-show host and
late-night TV news anchor. NewsTalk said: "I can't imagine
the arrangement will go on long because it would be
impossible for her to do late shifts and very early
mornings." Huh. Sue copes.

Vinnie Jones, a doped dog and an ?80,000 prize is a story
set to play out in Dublin's High Court next Friday. Jones
is suing the Irish Coursing Club after he was disqualified
from the Irish Cup when one of his greyhounds tested
positive for a prohibited substance. Jones is to argue that
the chain of evidence leading to the positive test was
never properly outlined. This one could run and run.

Sir Hugh Orde, chief constable of the PSNI, is running
through a diplomatic minefield today. In Newcastle upon
Tyne he is honouring a "longstanding commitment" to take
part in the Great North Run. As a result he is missing the
National Police Memorial Day in Belfast's Waterfront Hall.
The event commemorates 4,000 police officers killed in the
line of duty, including 302 members of the PSNI/RUC and RUC

The knives were out for Orde when the news reached police
staff associations and unionist parties that his deputy
would be standing in for him. But Orde has found a formula
that may save his bacon: he is donating sponsorship money
from his run to the RUC George Cross Widows' Association.


Warship `Sent To Head Off IRA'

Isabel Oakeshott and Ed Habershon

THE British government positioned a warship off Northern
Ireland in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday ready to launch
Harrier jump-jets against IRA targets, newly released
documents reveal.

Ministry of Defence files show that Ted Heath, the then
prime minister, put the Royal Navy on standby in case
reaction to the fatal shooting of 13 civilians on January
30, 1972 spiralled out of control.

The documents, highlighted in a new biography of Heath,
show that the Royal Navy dispatched the assault ship HMS
Fearless. On July 31 it landed armoured bulldozers during
the night, which were used to clear republican barricades
in the "no-go" areas of Belfast and Londonderry.

The ship then waited off the coast ready to send in
helicopters and Harrier fighters if the IRA retaliated.

Operation Motorman, which ended the no-go areas, involved
21,000 troops, making it the biggest British military
operation since Suez in 1956.

The IRA retreated, unwilling to risk an overwhelming
attack. While no soldiers were injured, two people were
killed, Daniel Hegarty, 15, and Seamus Bradley, 19, a
member of the IRA.

Operation Motorman has been well documented but the
contingency plans for a naval attack were kept secret.

The author of the new book, Denis MacShane, a Labour MP and
former Foreign Office minister, said: "These documents show
the extraordinary extent to which Heath was prepared to use
force to crush the IRA. He was ready to do something
unprecedented - launch an all-out military attack on what
was, after all, part of the UK."

Richard English, a politics professor at Queen's University
Belfast, said: "The new evidence shows the true depth of
the crisis that Ulster represented in the early 1970s and
makes clearer than ever that this was seen as a potential
civil war situation. It does demonstrate the volatility of
the situation, and the anxieties there were in London at
what was a very dark time for Northern Ireland."

MacShane's biography, entitled Heath, also suggests that
plans to create an Anglo-French nuclear deterrent received
secret backing from Richard Nixon, then the American
president. Nixon is said to have told Heath that he would
have a "great deal of running room" from the US.

According to MacShane's book, a "startled" Kissinger spoke
to Burke Trend, Heath's cabinet secretary, afterwards, and
"begged him not to allow this part of the conversation to
become known".

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