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October 25, 2006

Further Wait For Bloody Sunday Inquiry Report

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 10/25/06
Further Wait For Bloody Sunday Inquiry Report
IT 10/26/06 DUP-Sinn Féin Standoff 'Causing Disquiet'
IT 10/26/06 Parades Body Says Dialogue Is Way Ahead
SF 10/25/06 Sinn Féin Comment On Parades Commission Report
IT 10/25/06 PSNI Backs Parades Commission Focus On Dialogue
IE 10/25/06 Irish-American Reps Face Voters In Uneasy Year
IT 10/26/06 Key US Supporter Of SF Faces Tough Election
IE 10/25/06 New York Irish Push For St. Andrews Deal
IT 10/26/06 Proposal To Trade Work Visas With US
IT 10/25/06 Former Taoiseach Warns FF May Lose Votes
ND 10/25/06 Orde Confirms PSNI To Stay In Bessbrook
BN 10/25/06 Ombudsman's Officer 'Had Special Treatment Because Of Dog'
SF 10/25/06 Republicans Remember Máire Drumm - Adams
BN 10/25/06 Average House Costs 11 Times Average Wage


Further Wait For Bloody Sunday Inquiry Report

The findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry will not be
published until at least the end of next year.

Inquiry chairman Lord Saville and his two colleagues, who
opened the inquiry in 1998, have been trawling through
evidence from almost 1,000 witnesses.

The tribunal investigated the deaths of 14 civilians shot
by soldiers during a 1972 civil rights march in

In a letter to the victims' families, Lord Saville
indicated it could be 2008 before he publishes his

He told the families that he needs time to study the amount
of material from the inquiry.

The BBC's Paul McCauley, who covered the inquiry
proceedings, said: "If, as it now seems likely, he won't
report until 2008, that would be 10 years since the inquiry
was first announced."

Earlier this year, the families of those who died said they
had been told by the Irish government that the report would
not be released until next year.

At that time, a spokeswoman for the inquiry refused to give
any information on when the report might be released.

However, she said the families and other interested parties
would receive "substantial notice" of publication.

The Bloody Sunday inquiry was established in 1998 by Prime
Minister Tony Blair after a campaign by families of those
killed and injured.

Lord Saville of Newdigate and the Commonwealth judges
accompanying him on the inquiry began hearing evidence in
March 2000.

The inquiry has heard evidence from leading politicians,
including the prime minister at the time, Sir Edward Heath,
civilians, policemen, soldiers and IRA members.

The first public hearing was held in March 2000 and the
inquiry closed in January 2005.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/25 19:03:37 GMT


DUP-Sinn Féin Standoff 'Causing Disquiet'

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The continuing standoff between the DUP and Sinn Féin over
the First Minister and Deputy First Minister pledge of
office dispute is causing some disquiet in Dublin and
London, according to senior official and political sources.

Despite the British government acting as the chief
intermediary between the DUP and Sinn Féin there is no sign
of an end to this deadlock, which forced the postponement
of a planned symbolic face-to-face encounter between DUP
leader Dr Paisley and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams at
Stormont last Tuesday week.

The DUP is insisting that before Dr Paisley and Mr
McGuinness can be deemed First Minister and Deputy First
Minister designate by the scheduled date of November 24th,
Mr McGuinness must sign up to a pledge of office that
incorporates a commitment to support the PSNI and law and

Sinn Féin is arguing that it cannot by that date make such
a commitment because it would be seen by republican
grassroots as the Sinn Féin leadership pre-empting what
decision a Sinn Féin ardfheis - which is to be held after
November 24th - would take on policing.

"We understand Sinn Féin's difficulties here, but policing
is a bottom line issue for us and that commitment must be
there before Ian Paisley will sign up as First Minister
designate. Sinn Féin have to work it out for themselves,"
said one senior DUP figure.

At the weekend Mr McGuinness indicated he could sign up to
a conditional pledge by November 24th but it was unclear
whether this could also involve a contingent commitment on
policing. "We can't be seen to be overriding what an
ardfheis might do," said a senior Sinn Féin source.

All sides involved in trying to find a compromise described
the issue as "work in progress" although there is British
and Irish governmental concern that the dispute has stalled
the positive momentum of the St Andrews Agreement. "The
wind seems to have been taken out of events for the moment
by this row, although it is still only October. Neither
side at this stage seems prepared to move from their
positions which is causing some concern," said one senior

SDLP Assembly member Sean Farren said the DUP and Sinn Féin
were being unreasonable on the issue. "The solution is
staring parties in the face. Sinn Féin should agree to
ministers signing up to the rule of law and policing - and
the DUP should agree that ministers do this in March, not
in November before a Sinn Féin ardfheis," he said.

© The Irish Times


Parades Body Says Dialogue Is Way Ahead

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Dialogue between marchers and local communities is the best
guarantor of peace, the Parades Commission has said.
Releasing its latest report and recommendations, commission
chairman Roger Poole said he firmly believed that last
summer's peaceful marching season was due to people from
"across the divide" who had "worked tirelessly".

Mr Poole added yesterday that he could foresee a time, if
no parade rulings were issued for some years, when the
commission would be wound up. This year's report, Parading
in a Peaceful Northern Ireland, includes 10 recommendations
aimed at improving the manner in which contested parades
are dealt with. The commission is charged with ruling on
contentious marches and counter-protests. Its decisions are
enforced by the PSNI.

Last summer was the first in more than 30 years during
which the British army was not deployed on the streets of
Belfast to support the policing of disputed marches.

Some 170 rulings were issued last year, but more than 50
dealt exclusively with Drumcree, where the Portadown lodge
applies to march along Garvaghy Road every weekend in the
year and is refused.

The commission's recommendations, which follow open
consultation, suggest a longer notification period for a
parade and the exemption of certain types of processions,
such as vintage car rallies.

Significantly, the commission is also suggesting a review
of its application forms "to ensure their burden on the
public is minimal and only information which is required is
actually sought".

Other recommendations refer to the possibility of allowing
those who dispute commission rulings to enter into
consultation directly. It also promises to work harder to
add greater clarity to its determinations and its decision-
making process.

The commission is committed to working with various groups
to devise a code of conduct.

© The Irish Times


Sinn Féin Comment On Parades Commission Report

Published: 25 October, 2006

Commenting after the publication today of a review carried
out by the Parades Commission into its performance, Sinn
Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said:

"It goes without saying that the way to resolve disputes
around contentious parades is through local dialogue and
local accommodation. This is the position which Sinn Féin
have promoted for many years. In the event where dialogue
is refused by the parade organisers the Parades Commission
must issue determinations.

"However there is a growing concern amongst nationalists
that the Parades Commission are increasingly seeing their
role as not issuing determinations on contentious marches
rather than carrying out the function for which they are
put in place. We saw this last month when the Garvaghy Road
Residents Coalition exposed this practice in court and
eventually forced the Commission into an embarrassing U-

"In today's report the Commission are once again indicating
that they want to expand this flawed approach further. The
fact remains that the Parades Commission are in place to
issue decisions on contentious parades, not to ignore them
or refuse to act on the basis of worthless verbal
guarantees from the Loyal Orders or other parade

"The Parades Commission need to recognise that the
perception among nationalists concerned with parading
issues is that this particular Commission has an in-built
bias in terms of its make up and this bias continues to
manifest itself via this flawed and doomed approach. It is
imperative that the Parades Commission address this
perception and demonstrate consistency and fairness wedded
to a long term strategic approach to resolving the issue of
contentious parades." ENDS


PSNI Backs Parades Commission Focus On Dialogue

By Paul Anderson Last updated: 25-10-06, 17:17

The PSNI has welcomed a report by the Parades Commission
which puts dialogue between marchers and residents at the
centre of dispute resolution.

After conducting a review of procedures which included
public consultation, the Commission today published
Parading in a Peaceful Northern Ireland, mapping future
policy in resolving disputes over parades.

The report recognised that the relative peace during this
year's parade season was not a consequence of changed
perceptions among the unionist and nationalist communities.

Commission chairman Roger Poole said fall-off in violence
that has surrounded previous seasons was due to the efforts
of "people in key areas, across their community and the
political divide".

The report noted that the vast majority of parades take
place without restrictions, adding that any democratic
society would consider the issues surrounding a large

"However, the Commission making decisions is not going to
make things better in the long term. The Commission
maintains that the only way to achieve long-term solutions
to these disputes is for all parties to work to make a
genuine attempt to 'listen to' and 'address' the concerns
of those with whom they differ," the report said.

It also commended the PSNI for their "sensitive and
responsive policing" of this years parade season.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton backed the report's
conclusions: "It is clear that there is a need for
communities to work together to find an acceptable solution
to the parading issue. The Police Service supports the
Commission's view that face-to-face communication between
interested parties is the way forward."

He also expressed a hope that the generally positive
outcome to this season's arrangements would provide the
basis for resolving future difficulties.

The Commission also recommended that Secretary of State
Peter Hain should consider allowing certain vintage vehicle
associations an exemption from the main provisions

Other conclusions in the review involve the decision making
process and determinations. The Commission has recommended
it seeks to add greater clarity and accessibility to its
rulings by reviewing its use of language and the inclusion
of more explanatory material.

It has also suggested amending procedural rules to clarify
the process of determining whether a parade is considered

Additional reporting PA

© 2006


House of jitters

John Sweeney

Irish-American Reps Face Voters In Uneasy Year

By Ray O'Hanlon

What's it about countries whose names begin with the ninth
letter of the alphabet?

In New York, as the longtime conventional wisdom goes,
anyone interested in a political career from City Council
to State House to Congress is required to be up to speed on
the "three I's."

Ireland, Israel and Italy have not gone away but they are
being shouldered aside to one degree or another this year
by Iraq.

So if you're an Irish-American politician with a lengthy
pedigree on matters relevant to South Armagh, you would do
well to be just as attentive to, and knowledgeable about,
the recent bloody turn of events in the Southern Iraqi city
of Amara, where British troops are to be found patrolling
streets devastated by sectarian fighting in a country
largely wrought by British cartography.

The potential political tsunami that is the Iraq war could
have significant ramifications for Irish-American members
of the House of Representatives on Nov. 7.

In what would pass for a normal election year, sitting
members could generally rely on their very incumbency and a
reasonable record on district issues to guarantee

This would still appear to be the case for Congressman Joe
Crowley, one of the two Democratic co-chairs of the
congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs.

Crowley is strongly favored to be returned without too much
difficulty in his New York City district, the ethnically
polyglot seventh, which is comprised of a collection of
neighborhoods reaching from Queens into the Bronx.

Crowley is facing a Conservative Party candidate who has
the backing of the local Republican Party, but few are
taking bets against the man who heads the Queens County
Democratic Party following the recent death of Tom Manton.

If Crowley's race looks like a bit of a breeze, Richard
Neal has a hurricane behind his back. The Massachusetts
Democrat, the other Ad Hoc co-chair, does not face any
opponent at all.

Being in such enviable positions, at least from a strictly
partisan point of view, Crowley and Neal do not have to
look for lobbying and financial support to the likes of the
Irish-American Democrats lobbying and fundraising group.

As such, the IAD is this political season free to focus on
races it believes can help turn the present GOP House
majority into a Democratic one.

Among the 15 Democratic challengers being backed by the
Irish-American Democrats are three named Murphy: Lois
Murphy in Pennsylvania's sixth district, Pat Murphy in that
state's eighth, and Chris Murphy in Connecticut's fifth

By sharp contrast to the situation facing incumbents
Crowley and Neal, and other Democratic House incumbents
such as Brian Higgins in New York's upstate 27th district,
2006 is posing a range of more uphill tasks for Irish
American Republican House members than might have been
expected even just a year ago.

Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs co-chairs Peter King and
John Sweeney are both having to deal with viable Democratic

The same goes for Congressman Jim Walsh, longtime chairman
of the Friends of Ireland group in Congress and the man
behind the Walsh visa program.

Walsh is an 18-year incumbent who romped home in the 2004
race in New York's 25th District but who this time around
faces a determined opponent in Democrat Dan Maffei, a
onetime TV reporter who also has experience as a political
backroom operator and press spokesman.

Walsh's district has a significant Irish-American
population. Irish voters match German Americans at the top
of the 25th's ethnicity table at 13.9 percent.

It is in tight races such as these that attention to the
finer details can make a decisive difference on Election

For Walsh, and other GOP Irish American House legislators,
one detail that could prove crucial in races that are only
a handful of percentage points apart is their response to a
crop of questions being posed to all House and Senate
candidates by the umbrella group, the Irish-American Unity

In late September, the group sent out a questionnaire
asking candidates from both parties to outline their
positions on a variety of issues of concern to Irish

The issues selected by the group include restoration of the
elected devolved assembly and full implementation of the
recommendations of the Independent Commission on Policing
in the North; calls for a full, independent inquiry into
the murder of Belfast attorney Pat Finucane; potential
legislation which would exempt Irish nationals from
deportation for convictions relating to the conflict in the
North "who demonstrably present no threat to the safety and
security of the United States."

The group also asked candidates to explain their positions
on comprehensive immigration reform.

"As Irish Americans make their decisions in the days before
the upcoming elections they want clarification from their
potential elected officials on these issues," the committee
said in a statement.

The committee is comprised of members from the Ancient
Order of Hibernians, Americans for a New Irish Agenda,
Brehon Law Society, Irish American Unity Conference, Irish
Deportees of America Committee, Irish Northern Aid and the
Irish Parades Emergency Committee.

One GOP House member who might want to get his replies in
especially quickly is John Sweeney who represents the New
York 20th House district. Sweeney, along with Peter King,
is a Republican co-chair of the congressional Ad Hoc

Sweeney has a real battle on his hands, according to the
Albany Times Union.

Back in may of this year, Sweeney told the Echo that he
felt "very confident, very strong" about his candidacy. He
did acknowledge at the time, however, that it was going to
be a competitive year.

"Sweeney is among the Democrats' top targets this fall as
they try to wrest control of the House from the GOP. He is
facing the toughest re-election challenge of his
congressional career from Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand," the
Times Union reported in recent days.

Sweeney, though a co-chair of the Ad Hoc grouping, has a
less obvious record on Irish issues than his GOP colleagues
Jim Walsh and Peter King.

Observers, meanwhile, will be keeping a particular eye on
King's battle to retain his seat on Long Island where he
too faces a determined Democrat, Dave Mejias.

King, though he has incurred scorn from some Irish
Americans for his current opposition to comprehensive
immigration reform, has one of the longest running track
records on issues of particular interest to Irish
Americans, stretching as it does back to the 1980s when he
was Nassau County Comptroller.

In addition, King has more money in his campaign coffers
than his opponent and his district has a track record of
being solidly Republican at the polls.

Still, it appears that even King, who chairs the house
Homeland Security Committee, would be ill advised to take
his race lightly.

"Political observers from both parties say this will be
King's toughest challenge in years, though few expect
Mejias, a Democrat and a two-term Nassau legislator from
North Massapequa, to best the seven-term Seaford
Republican," Newsday reported.

"King, 62, is a highly recognizable public figure and is
viewed favorably by 57 percent of voters in his district,
according to a poll conducted last year on behalf of the
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee," the paper

But that was last year. King, as will be the case with all
his incumbent GOP colleagues, will be campaigning flat out
until voting day.

Then it will be a matter of seeing where the dust, and a
whole bunch of political careers, finally settle.


Key Supporter Of SF In US Faces Tough Election Amid Poll Slump

Sean O'Driscoll in New York

Fervent Bush supporter and Irish republican supporter Peter
King is fighting for his political life after the latest
opinion polls showed a collapse in support in his New York
constituency of Long Island.

Support for the Congressman has dropped from 72 per cent
when he last ran in 2002 to just 47 per cent, two points
ahead of his Democrat opponent, Dave Mejias, a New York
state legislator.

Mr King's supporters concede that his close support for
President Bush's Iraq policy is having a severe effect in
the largely white, blue-collar constituency.

Mr Bush's approval ratings have slumped to 31 per cent in
the district, reflecting a general drop in support
throughout the US.

A poll conducted in Mr King's district between October 8th
and 10th showed that Democrats and Independents are more
motivated to vote than Republicans, which could make Mr
King's re-election even more difficult.

However, he has refused to qualify his support of the Iraq
war, defending his belief that the US has to "kick ass" to
bring democracy to the Middle East and strongly criticising
other Republicans for backing away from the "war on

Mr King is spending much of his $1.6 million campaign funds
to hold on to his seat, which he has held for seven terms
since 1992. As well as writing extensively on Irish
politics, Mr King has been closely associated with Sinn
Féin leader Gerry Adams from long before the IRA called a

However, he has come under intense criticism from former
allies in the Irish community in New York for sponsoring a
strident immigration bill that would make illegal
immigration an aggravated felony and would punish anyone
who knowingly assisted an illegal immigrant.

© The Irish Times


New York Irish Push For St. Andrews Deal

By Ailbhe Jordan

New York's Irish-American leaders made a powerful plea for
progress in Northern Ireland last week at a press
conference on the steps of City Hall.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called for
the public gathering after DUP leader Ian Paisley pulled
out of a face-to-face meeting with Sinn Féin President
Gerry Adams in Stormont earlier this month.

The meeting, which was to follow the signing of the St.
Andrew's agreement in Scotland the week before, would have
been the first time the two leaders had sat at the same

Paisley pulled out over concerns about whether Sinn Fein's
Martin McGuinness would sign an oath to support the police.

"We see this as a bump in the road," Quinn said, standing
in front of a sizeable group of representatives of politics
and community organizations in Irish New York.

Quinn recalled the day in 2002 that the Northern Ireland
Assembly was dissolved and some party officials were
arrested. She was visiting Stormont at the time with a
group from New York City Council.

"We've come along way since that day, we are happy that
talks have begun again," she said.

"We want the parties to give serious and thorough
consideration to what has been put on the table. We want to
move forward to a place where what happened in 2002 is just
a memory."

Joining Quinn at the podium, Congressman Joseph Crowley
spoke of his own interest in the politics of Northern
Ireland both as a public representative and as the son of a
Northern Irish mother.

"The people of Ireland, North and South have spoken. They
want to move forward. This is not the end," said Crowley,
who celebrates his 20th anniversary in public office this

"I was under no illusion that we would come out of St.
Andrews with a full solution. But progress is being made
and we are moving forward. But bigotry still exists in
Northern Ireland. We are asking all the parties in Northern
Ireland to go out and talk to their constituents and go
back to the table ready to move forward," he said.

Crowley also spoke of the Ad Hoc Congressional committee of
Irish Affairs in Washington's continued interest in both
the British Government's role the Dublin Monaghan bombings
and their level of cooperation with the family of Pat
Finucane, the Belfast solicitor who was murdered by
loyalist paramilitaries in 1989.

"There should be no hierarchy of victims within this
process," he said, echoing a previous statement by Adams.

"But if there was collusion, we believe this is something
that should be brought to light so we can move forward."

Beside the podium stood a copy of a letter sent to the
British and Irish governments and the Northern Ireland
party leaders, pledging support of the St. Andrew's
agreement. Close to 30 representatives of New York City
Council and State signed the letter, including Senators
Charles Schumer and Hilary Rodham Clinton, neither of whom
attended the press conference.

Ireland's consul general to New York, Tim O'Connor,
stressed the importance of bringing Celtic Tiger prosperity
to Northern Ireland's economy and of creating a "golden
triangle," of economic co-operation between Irish America,
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"I believe that economics will be the politics of the next
generation in Northern Ireland," he said.

"It's no coincidence the Celtic Tiger was happening at the
same time as the peace process. One hundred years ago,
Belfast was a global center of industry with the
shipbuilding, the Titanic and the linen industry. Our hope
is that it will continue going forward," he said.

Britain's consul for Northern Ireland Andrew Pike said that
Britain's relationship with the Irish government's had
"never been better."

"I want to pay tribute to the wonderful work done by the
British prime minister, Tony Blair and the taoiseach,
Bertie Ahern, who have worked tirelessly on the issue of
Northern Ireland," Pike said.

Praising the assembled New York representatives for their
support and interest the peace process he said: "Thank you
New York, and we ask you to stick with us. We're on the
right road, help us pushing this thing over the finish

After the press conference, Quinn and Crowley answered
questions about their colleague, Democratic Assembly member
Brian McLaughlin, who was arrested and charged last week
with stealing more than $2 million in funding from
community organizations he was involved in.

"The allegations against McLaughlin are stunning," Quinn

"If they are true, they are the mistakes of one person, not
his profession."

Said Crowley: "Brian is a friend and a political ally of
many years but these are serious allegations and if they
are true, it is a serious violation of trust and needs to
be pursued to the fullest extent of the law."

This story appeared in the issue of October 25 - 31, 2006


Proposal To Trade Work Visas With US

Alison Healy

A proposal to legalise the undocumented Irish living in the
US in exchange for Irish work permits for Americans has
been made by Tony Killeen, the Minister of State at the
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Mr Killeen is promoting the idea following his return from
a Fás exhibition in New York where there was strong
interest from Americans in Irish jobs.

"The interest expressed by Americans to come and work in
Ireland was so great that a queue more than two-and-a-half
blocks-long formed outside the exhibition venue," he said.

"In 2005, over 4,300 Americans immigrated to Ireland in
search of employment, compared to 1,700 Irish people
travelling to the US," Mr Killeen said. "There is clear
evidence to support the establishment of some form of
bilateral agreement between the US and Irish governments."

The number of undocumented Irish living in the US has
fallen greatly in recent years. It is now estimated there
are fewer than 40,000 Irish illegals in the US.

Mr Killeen said he was optimistic some form of working
agreement could be pursued. He believed it would be "pretty
much impossible" for the US authorities to favour the Irish
over other ethnic groups but the establishment of a
bilateral agreement would get around this problem.

He plans on raising this issue with Minister for Justice
Michael McDowell and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot

"Obviously, it will be all about the details," the Minister
of State said. "We would have to work out a formula. It
would probably have to operate on a quota system."

The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centres (CIIC) which
represents emigrant groups in the US, has welcomed Mr
Killeen's promise to pursue this plan.

Sheila Gleeson, executive director of CIIC, said there was
"no doubt" the US immigration system was not working for
anyone. "However, we are encouraged to see that the Irish
Government is actively putting pressure on their EU
counterparts to regularise the status of the undocumented
Irish," she said.

Meanwhile, the new green card system for non-EU workers is
expected to come into force later this year or early next
year.Green cards will initially be issued for two years but
there will be an opportunity to extend this to permanent

The new system will apply to a variety of occupations
earning €60,000 or more. Green cards will also be issued to
people in the €30,000 to €60,000 range but the list of
occupations is much shorter. It includes jobs in
information technology, healthcare, construction and

© The Irish Times


Former Taoiseach Warns FF May Lose Votes

Last updated: 25-10-06, 20:49

Fianna Fail may lose votes at the next General Election if
the party is forced to depend on Sinn Fein for support in
the Dail, former Taoiseach Dr Garret Fitzgerald said

As he launched a book of political sketches in Dublin, the
ex-Fine Gael leader also described the Government's
decentralisation programme as 'an appalling business.'

In his speech, Dr FitzGerald appeared to cast doubt on
Fianna Fail's ability to win enough support in the Dail to
form a Government with parties other than Sinn Fein.

Fianna Fail has already ruled out sharing a coalition
Government with Sinn Fein after the next General Election.

But Dr FitzGerald said tonight: "If during the election
campaign it becomes clear that Fianna Fail is in difficulty
and may have to depend on Sinn Fein for support to form a
Government in the Dail, then it may influence the way the
electorate votes.

He added: "It may influence the outcome of the election."

Tonight's launch of Party Animals written by author and
broadcaster Olivia O'Leary was also attended by Tanaiste
and Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell and
Labour leader Pat Rabbitte.

Dr FitzGerald also said he agreed with the Government's
decision not to allow free access to Ireland's labour
market to citizens from the incoming EU member states of
Bulgaria and Romania.

"I suggested the same thing recently and I agree with the
position," he said.

© 2006


Orde Confirms PSNI To Stay In Bessbrook

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has described Newry and
Mourne as being “at the centre of policing”. Mr Orde was
commenting during a walkabout visit to Bessbrook on
Thursday during which he spoke to residents and
businesspeople, as well as paying a visit to the local
primary school.

“Newry and Mourne is at the centre of policing and it’s a
key area,” he said. “But the people want a police force and
it’s not acceptable for politicians not take to take their
responsibility and deliver it.”

He added that PSNI officers are “ready and willing to get
on with the job” in the light of the ongoing
demilitarisation process in south Armagh. The Chief
Constable also said that he welcomed reports from Sinn Fein
that public confidence in the PSNI is growing, but said
that the next step would be for senior party members to
join the Policing Board.

Commenting on the summer’s fire bomb attacks in Newry, he
described those responsible as being stuck in the past and
said they were being directed and exploited by more
experienced elements.

“We will take them out of circulation but it’s also up to
the community to take steps to ensure that their young
people are not recruited,” he added. Newry and Armagh MLA
Danny Kennedy, who is also a member of the District
Policing Partnership, said he was reassured over the future
of Bessbrook PSNI Station during the Chief Constable’s

Confirming that several constituents have expressed
concerns over recent months regarding the PSNI’s plans for
the station, the Ulster Unionist representative said:
“Having raised these anxieties with Sir Hugh, it was
confirmed to me that Bessbrook station will be retained
and, indeed, its role in the community will be further
enhanced through a major programme of refurbishment in the
near future.

“This is excellent news which will be welcomed by all in
the local community.” Commenting on the visit, Mr Kennedy
added: “The Chief Constable’s meet and greet session
offered the opportunity for local people to raise their
concerns directly with Northern Ireland’s top policeman.
“That is to be greatly welcomed and I would like to see
this level of engagement rolled out in other areas of
Northern Ireland.

“As we have seen through DPPs and various community
outreach programmes, the police are actively participating
with local communities and this walkabout shows that they
continue to be proactive in taking account of grassroots
opinions over policing issues.”


Ombudsman's Officer 'Had Special Treatment Because Of Dog'

25/10/2006 - 14:17:49

Thousands of pounds were spent on accommodation and travel
to allow a police ombudsman’s investigator to keep a pet
dog at his side.

The officer, recruited to the North from Scotland Yard,
stayed in a luxury out-of-town house and travelled home to
London by car and ferry at weekends, rather than be parted
from his German shepherd.

Astonished ex-colleagues said he even brought an urn
containing the dog’s ashes into Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan’s
central Belfast headquarters after the animal died.

A spokesman for the Ombudsman said accommodation and travel
arrangements for the investigating officer – who has since
quit Mrs O’Loan’s team – were in line with others seconded
from UK forces.

He refused to disclose how much of the Ombudsman’s £7m a
year budget was spent on him, citing the Data Protection

But a shocked member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board
and critic of the Ombudsman demanded full disclosure.

Democratic Unionist representative Ian Paisley Jr said:
“This shows the accounting procedures in the Ombudsman’s
office appear to be barking mad.

“It appears to be an elaborate use of public money.

“Nuala O’Loan, who is supposed to be the guardian of all
things transparent, should take the files out and show
everyone what has been going on.

“What’s good enough for everyone else should be good enough
for her.”

Investigating staff in the Ombudsman’s office who probe
complaints against the police are drawn from former Royal
Ulster Constabulary officers and those with experience in
other UK forces – the bulk coming from the Met.

In most cases seconded officers stay in rented apartments
in Belfast, flying home at weekends.

But when the London-based staff member brought his dog with
him he requested more spacious accommodation.

He was put up in the plush Kensington development on the
edge of Hillsborough, Co Down, where property now fetches
£500,000 (€745,000).

“It was like a half million pounds dog kennel,” one of
those who worked alongside him claimed.

“The joke around the office was that that animal got more
out of the Ombudsman’s office than the Great Train Robbers

Another former colleague said the dog-owning investigator
would leave work on Fridays to begin the lengthy land and
sea trip back to London, returning to his desk on Monday.

“He really loved that animal,” he said.

“After it died he even brought the ashes into work.”

This halted when another member of staff asked him to stop,
it was claimed.

The Ombudsman’s Office stressed no public money was
squandered in catering for his requirements.

A spokesman for Mrs O’Loan said: “Seconded officers are
provided with a standard allowance for accommodation or
accommodation at an equivalent cost.

“Staff are free to make travel arrangements that meet their
needs, as long as the cost is in line with alternative ways
of travelling.”


Republicans Remember Máire Drumm - Adams

Published: 25 October, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today announced a series of
events over the weekend to celebrate the life of Sinn Féin
Vice President Máire Drumm. This Saturday marks the 30th
anniversary of her killing by a unionist death squad.

Mr. Adams said:

"On October 28th 1976 Máire Drumm was shot dead by unionist
paramilitaries while in the Mater Hospital. She was a life
long republican activist originally from the townland of
Killeen in South Armagh. Along with her husband Jimmy she
worked tirelessly on behalf of the republican struggle.

"Following the pogroms against nationalist areas in 1969,
Máire Drumm emerged as a gifted leader and organiser, and
an inspirational public speaker. Her home became an open
house for refugees from beleaguered areas of the city. She
was actively involved in re-housing families forced to
leave their homes as a result of loyalist intimidation.

"Máire was among the first to warn that the 'peacekeeping'
British troops were an occupation force. When the Falls
area was curfewed in July 1970 it was Máire who led the
'pram invasion' of women, pushing prams laden with supplies
into the besieged area in defiance of the British Army.
They effectively broke the curfew.

"Máire's leadership qualities were evident when Sinn Féin
was reorganised and she was elected as the party's Vice
President. Refusing to be silenced in spite of constant
harassment by the RUC and British Army and the target of a
vicious black propaganda campaign through the media, Máire
was to serve several periods of imprisonment in Armagh and
Mountjoy prisons.

"Refused a visa to travel to the USA for eye treatment,
Máire underwent surgery in Belfast's Mater hospital. It was
while recovering from her operation that she was shot dead
in the hospital ward in October 1976."

*A commemorative evening of song and remembrance to mark
the 30th anniversary of the death of Máire Drumm will be
held in the Teachers' Club, Parnell Square, Dublin on
Thursday evening, 26 October. Main speaker: Sinn Féin Ard
Chomhairle member Rita O'Hare and Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD.

A commemorative booklet - Máire Drumm: Voice of a Risen
People - will be launched at this event.

On Saturday morning October 28th a plaque will be unveiled
in her honour at the Sinn Féin office on the Falls Road and
later relatives, friends and former comrades will travel to
Armagh Prison.

There will also be a Máire Drumm tribute night on Saturday,
28 October at Trinity Lodge, West Belfast. Main speaker:
Sinn Féin Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP.


Average House Costs 11 Times Average Wage

25/10/2006 - 17:41:50

The cost of a house is now 11 times the value of the
average pay packet, the Dáil heard today.

Greens leader Trevor Sargent said the price of housing was
now creating the biggest financial pressures on young

The Dublin North TD accused the Taoiseach of ’talking up’
housing prices and called for a clear Government statement
on the issue of stamp duty.

He claimed political parties were getting involved in a
’Dutch auction’ by trying to undercut each other on the

“Nothing will be done about house prices as a result of
that. Any auctioneer will advise that there is a stalling
of the market as it waits to ascertain whether any of these
things will happen,” he said.

However Taoiseach Bertie Ahern added that less than 30% of
the total take from stamp duty comes from first-time
buyers. About one-third comes from the expensive end of the

Stamp duty is charged at between 6-9% on the price of a new

Mr Ahern said: “The Government is always prepared to listen
to arguments and debates but one should note that over one
third of stamp duty on houses is derived from the more
expensive upper end of the market.”

Defending the tax, he added that revenue from the tax is
invested in health services, schools and welfare.

Last week Finance Minister Brian Cowen dampened speculation
that stamp duty on house sales may be reduced in December’s

Tánaiste Michael McDowell suggested at his Progressive
Democrats party think-in last month that the burden of the
tax on home buyers needed to be addressed.

Mr Sargent replied: “I understand the stamp duty take for
this year is approximately €70m in excess of expectations.
The Government is raking it in.

“Will the Taoiseach do anything about this matter?”

Mr Ahern also said that during the period 2007 to 2009, the
Government plans to build 27,000 affordable houses.

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