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October 16, 2006

Hain to Deliver Commons Statement

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 10/16/06 Hain To Deliver Commons Statement
BN 10/16/06 DUP's Robinson Defends St Andrews' Proposals
IT 10/16/06 IRA Should Dispose Of Ill-Gotten Assets - DUP
RT 10/16/06 DUP And SF Confirm Stormont Delegations
BB 10/16/06 Transfer Test 'Gone In Two Years'
BB 10/16/06 DUP: Academic Selection 'Is Secured'
BT 10/16/06 Back To The Future
BT 10/16/06 An Agreement That's Not Agreed Until DUP & SF Say So
BT 10/16/06 Reaction To St Andrews Agreement
BT 10/16/06 Brian Rowan: UVF Leaders In Secret Meetings
BT 10/16/06 Brian Rowan: Loyalists Talking Far From Cameras
RT 10/16/06 Scappaticci Refused Legal Representation
BT 10/16/06 Police To Have Access To MI5 Files
RT 10/16/06 Sellafield Firm Facing Safety Breaches Charges
BT 10/16/06 Opin: Road Map Quickly Develops Potholes
BT 10/16/06 Opin: Rewards For Those Who Take The Hard Road
BN 10/16/06 Beached Dolphins Safely Return To Sea Off Mayo
BN 10/16/06 Govt To Begin Issuing Electronic Passports From Today


Hain To Deliver Commons Statement

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain is to give a Commons
statement on the outcome of last week's St Andrews talks on
restoring devolution.

Mr Hain has said he is confident Sinn Fein and the DUP will
be together in government.

A roadmap to restore devolution to Northern Ireland was
revealed with a deadline of 26 March 2007 for a new
executive after talks in St Andrews.

Mr Hain described the talks as an "astonishing

However, Ian Paisley said the DUP would not sit in
government with Sinn Fein until they had delivered on

"Let no-one be deceived by statements from the secretary of
state that there will be any move by myself or the DUP to
enter into any government until Sinn Fein has delivered up
front on policing," he said.

"What is more the final say on any of these arrangements
will be with the people of Northern Ireland."

Northern Ireland's parties have until 10 November to
respond to the plan, and if they agree with it a first
minister and deputy first minister would be nominated on 24

It follows three days of multi-party talks in Scotland.

'Clear deadline'

Mr Hain said just 48 hours earlier people could not bring
themselves to believe Mr Paisley and Martin McGuinness
would sit together in government.

Mr Hain said: "What we now have in prospect is the
nomination, as quickly as November 24, of Ian Paisley the
DUP leader as first minister, and Martin McGuinness, the
Sinn Fein deputy leader and former IRA member, as deputy
first minister.

"That is an extraordinary thing that nobody expected to
happen within a month or so.

"Then, following consulting the electorate either by
referendum or by an election, the introduction of the
establishment of sustainable self-government from March
next year."

Mr Hain is expected to deliver his statement in the House
of Commons on Monday afternoon.

Published: 2006/10/16 05:20:02 GMT


DUP's Robinson Defends St Andrews' Proposals

16/10/2006 - 07:38:26

A senior DUP figure has given the strongest signal yet that
the party may accept the power-sharing proposals and
timetable put forward by the Irish and British governments.

Peter Robinson, the party's deputy leader, said the
proposals outlined at St Andrews last week were infinitely
better, from a unionist standpoint, than the 1998 Good
Friday Agreement.

Peter Robinson is widely regarded as being on the more
moderate, liberal wing of the party but even so, his
endorsement of the deal must encourage both Dublin and
London that it may work.

Lashing those within unionism who either claimed it was the
"Good Friday Agreement for slow learners" or that it held
nothing for unionists, he said both sides were "politically
potty" and ignored the facts.

Provided it could be fine-tuned and was delivered on by
republicans, Mr Robinson said it tied them into policing
and held all ministers accountable to the Assembly where
unionists have a majority.


IRA Should Dispose Of Ill-Gotten Assets - DUP

Last updated: 16-10-06, 10:15

The IRA should give back the proceeds of racketeering and
smuggling, the DUP said today.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said republicans needed
to return the proceeds of crime as part of their commitment
to the rule of law.

His comments follow three days of intensive talks at St
Andrews, Scotland, that have agreed a blueprint for
restored power-sharing.

Mr Donaldson said: "It is a crime for any individual or
organisation to retain the proceeds of crime. That is
criminal activity, and if the IRA is ending criminality it
will need to make arrangements to dispose of its assets."

The DUP negotiator said that was largely a matter for the
security forces and added that his party was focused on the
wider picture of restoring devolution.

A schedule was agreed last week aiming for the first and
Deputy First Ministers of the administration would be
nominated by November 24th.

They are likely to be DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley, as
First Minister, and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness as

This would lead to a new executive being formed by a target
date of March 26th next year. However, the schedule is
subject to Sinn Féin endorsing policing arrangements and
the DUP agreeing to share power with republicans.

Sinn Féin has called an Ardfheis to discuss these and other
issues before giving the Irish and British a response by
November 10th.

The DUP leaders are meeting tomorrow to discuss the way
forward, with a wider period of consultation promised.

© 2006


DUP And SF Confirm Stormont Delegations

16 October 2006 12:41

The DUP has said that a delegation led by Ian Paisley will
attend a meeting with Sinn Féin at a Preparation for
Government meeting in Stormont tomorrow.

As part of the plan produced by the Irish and British
governments at St Andrews in Scotland last Friday, it was
agreed there would be a meeting of the Northern Ireland
parties at leadership level in Stormont this week.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, the DUP MP for Lagan Valley, Jeffrey
Donaldson, said the DUP delegation would also include Peter
Robinson and Nigel Dodds.

Earlier, Sinn Féin confirmed that Gerry Adams and Martin
McGuinness will lead the party's delegation.

SF to consider policing issue

Sinn Féin's internal debate about the issue of policing
will also start this week. Any shift in policy will involve
a two-stage process.

At Ard Comhairle level, a two-thirds majority is required
to call a special party Ard Fheis on a single issue, such
as policing.

Then, at any subsequent special Ard Fheis, a simple
majority is sufficient for a policy change.

The policing debate will test the management skills of Mr
Adams and Mr McGuinness.

They will be keen to avoid a situation where they would get
the desired result but lose large numbers.

They will also be aware that, against the wishes of the
leadership, last year's Ard Fheis voted to leave the
decision on policing not to the party's Ard Comhairle, but
to an Ard Fheis.


Transfer Test 'Gone In Two Years'

The transfer test will be gone within two years, Sinn
Fein's Martin McGuinness has insisted.

The DUP claimed after last week's St Andrews agreement that
they had secured the future of academic selection.

But the former education minister who began moves in 2002
to scrap the test, said this was wrong and any assembly
must find a suitable alternative.

"If we work together, we can put in place a process to
strengthen rather than weaken our education system."

Mr McGuinness said people were "too hung up on this
business of academic selection".

The DUP said they were told that if agreement is reached by
10 November on the St Andrews deal, the government will
change the law which would have banned selection.

Any decision on changing the way children transfer to
grammar school would then require a cross-community vote by
the assembly.

On Friday, the DUP's education spokesman, Sammy Wilson,
said that was unlikely to happen since nationalists and
unionists have opposing views on selection and were
unlikely to agree to scrap it.

Nationalist parties are in favour of scrapping selection.

Assembly veto

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain had already promised
to give the Assembly a veto on the changes if devolution
was fully restored by the government's previous deadline of
24 November.

As assembly education minister, Mr McGuinness made the
first move to end the current system hours before he left
office in October 2002 when devolution was suspended.

The last transfer test is scheduled to be held in 2008.

Last December, the direct rule education minister at the
time, Angela Smith, said that by 2009, schools could take
pupils based on a flexible "menu of criteria".

Published: 2006/10/16 12:20:04 GMT


DUP: Academic Selection 'Is Secured'

The DUP have said they have secured the future of academic
selection and grammar schools in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a press conference after the St Andrews
agreement was outlined party leader Ian Paisley said it had
been part of negotiations.

The DUP said it was told if agreement is reached by 10
November on the deal the government will change the law
which would have banned selection.

It was to have happened on 24 November unless the assembly
was "restored".

The Department of Education has confirmed a rewriting of
the law in late November could keep academic selection,
which currently uses the 11-plus transfer test to decide
who should go to grammar school.

Any decision on changing the way children transfer to
grammar school would then require a cross-community vote by
the assembly.

The DUP's education spokesman, Sammy Wilson MP, said that
is unlikely to happen since nationalists and unionists have
opposing views on selection and are unlikely to agree to
scrap it.

Nationalist parties are in favour of scrapping selection.

The final 11-plus had been due to take place in 2008 but
plans to replace it with a system of parental choice have
been thrown into disarray.

Plans to scrap the 11-plus were first put in motion by Sinn
Fein's Martin McGuinness when he was Education Minister and
have been followed through by direct rule ministers since.

However, Mr McGuinness, the former education minister, said
"people should not become confused by the spin coming out
of St Andrews on the issue of academic selection".

"As education minister, I abolished the 11-plus. It was
abolished because it gave rise to a system which enhanced
educational inequality and disadvantage," he said.

"Let me be clear today, the 11-plus will be abolished and
will not be coming back. Spin to the contrary from the DUP
in the wake of St Andrews about this issue does not alter
this reality."

Published: 2006/10/14 16:53:24 GMT


Back To The Future

Ulster will return to the polling booths to decide the next
step towards a devolved government.

By Noel McAdam
14 October 2006

The people of Northern Ireland are heading back to the
polling booths - for either an election or a new referendum
to decide the province's future.

The Plebiscite - next March - will be to endorse a new
power-sharing administration which could see Ian Paisley as
First Minister with Martin McGuinness as his Deputy.

It will be the third election in the province in less than
three years following the November 2004 Assembly battle and
the double Westminster and local government elections last

But first Sinn Fein will have to sign up and show support
for policing arrangements under an historic framework
hammered out over three days at the St Andrews summit.

Agreement hung in the balance even until the closing
moments after hours of hard-edged negotiations which also
include an economic 'peace dividend' package.

But Prime Minister Tony Blair, who remained in Scotland at
the talks despite the developing government crisis over
Iraq said: "I think we have found a way forward."


An Agreement That's Not Agreed Until DUP And Sinn Fein Say So

Is the writing on the wall for the St Andrews Agreement?
Political correspondent Chris Thornton reports on the
pitfalls that still remain.

16 October 2006

The signs were good. Or at least professionally done.

The backdrop behind the prime ministers and parties at the
Fairmont Hotel on Friday evening proclaimed the "St Andrews
Agreement" (sic) even as it became clear the parties
haven't agreed anything yet.

Peter Hain confirmed yesterday the signs had been made
ahead of the talks, which may be a fair indication that a
Prime Minister concerned with his legacy, a Taoiseach
concerned with his electability and a Secretary of State
concerned with his next job weren't going to leave Scotland
without something to show the cameras.

They got that in the form of the 18-page St Andrews
Agreement. While there is no doubt the three days in
Scotland produced a clearer roadmap for a return to
Stormont than had been expected, the document doesn't do
exactly what it says on the tin - there is not yet
agreement about this latest Agreement.

In this respect, the heavy duty Government cheerleading
that came out of Fife was reminiscent of Leeds Castle two
years ago, when London and Dublin hailed progress that was
to lead to the Comprehensive Agreement.

That document, you will recall, turned out to be neither
comprehensive nor agreed - even before the Northern Bank
robbery led to an array of incomprehensible disagreements.

Some of the spin this weekend seemed to be still warm from
the photocopier. Mr Hain quoted a senior official who'd
been at Stormont eight years ago, describing this document
as "probably even more significant" than the Good Friday
Agreement because the DUP was inside the tent.

That's curious, because a senior Downing Street official
who'd been present at the Good Friday talks was saying
exactly the same thing after Leeds Castle. Perhaps it was
the same official.

Of course there are significantly different circumstances
between then and now. The IRA's guns are gone and their
threat is certifiably neutered. As well as that, the
Government has plenty of public opinion wedges to use on
the DUP - concessions on rates, the retention of academic
selection, and the possibility of reduced corporation tax.

And yet ? one reason the St Andrews Agreement wasn't agreed
in St Andrews is that Sinn Fein and the DUP have some
persuading to do with their respective supporters.

Sinn Fein's ability to carry republican support for
policing seems to be crucial, especially since Mr Paisley
says this must be "delivered up front". The Shinners have
the timetable they want - devolution of justice to Stormont
by May 2008.

But they previously said the British Government must pass
legislation bringing that about before they will even hold
their special ard fheis on support for policing.

Such legislation couldn't be processed by November 24, when
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness are supposed to share a
shadowy office but, presumably, it would have to be through
well before Mr Paisley agrees to enter the real thing with
the former IRA leader next March.

The vagueness of Government officials on this point
reinforces the suspicion that policing remains a pitfall.

For their part, the DUP still have to get to grips with the
physical realities of sharing power with Sinn Fein.

Current DUP policy, according to Ian Paisley, is the party
will expel anyone who talks to Sinn Fein. Of course, DUP
policy can change whenever Mr Paisley says it has, so
that's not a formidable obstacle.

The governments accomplished a lot at St Andrews. But they
couldn't get the DUP to agree to a direct meeting with Sinn
Fein, their supposed future partners in Government. That
remains an obstacle so obvious that no one is talking about
it. In terms of progress, that's not an especially good


Reaction To St Andrews Agreement

Tony Blair, Prime Minister

I think we have a way forward. We have been through
different parts of this process many times over the past
few years, but I think this is a sound basis. Of course,
everyone has had to make compromises during the course of
these negotiations to get what they wanted, but nonetheless
I think it is a proper and sound basis for doing it. It
gives us a chance to have institutions that are up and
running, that are secure on a cross community basis where
all parties are in government working together for a shared
future in Northern Ireland.

Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach

I believe we have all the elements that can bring
satisfaction to all the issues. If not perfect by
everybody's agenda, it's a fair and sustainable balance to
try by March to make sure we have a working executive based
on power-sharing and an acceptance of policing and the rule
of law and order.

Ian Paisley, DUP leader

Unionists can have confidence that its interests are being
advanced and democracy is finally winning the day. As we
have been saying, it is deeds, not deadlines that count
There must be unequivocal support for the laws of the land
and those who enforce them.

Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein leader

I would ask (republicans) to get the documentation, to
study it and debate it out. Make their views known and be
part of the effort to resolve these matters. Sometimes
there's a lot of talk about delivery. Republicans have
delivered big time in recent times. We have a moral
responsibility to keep delivering, but it's a collective

Sir Reg Empey, UUP leader

There appears to have been shifts from both parties. Sinn
Fein will sign up to the PSNI being the only force of law
and order and Ian Paisley or a colleague will share the
joint office of first and deputy first minister with Martin
McGuinness in a mandatory coalition. This, I submit, is the
Belfast Agreement for slow learners. We have a lot of work
to do in the assembly and we will go to that next week with
enthusiasm to see the job finished.

Mark Durkan, SDLP leader

We believe that we can move from the politics of stand-off
to lift-off. It is on the basis of that approach that we
need to work in the weeks ahead. The progress we have had
it is welcome. I welcome the DUP to the threshold of
accepting power-sharing, I welcome Sinn Fein to the
threshold of accepting the new beginning to policing. We
can move our politics from about the standards we raise on
our flagpoles to being about the standards we raise in our
schools, our hospitals and our public services.

David Ford, Alliance leader

If we use these opportunities, today will prove to have
been a major step forward on the road to restoring the
institutions. We now face not a leap into the unknown, but
a series of steps. We will play our part in the Preparation
for Government Committee and elsewhere to widen the sense
of agreement. Despite all that remains to be done, there is
now at least a sense of hope for a shared future.


Brian Rowan: UVF Leaders In Secret Meetings

Talks on future direction held outside UK last week

16 October 2006

The UVF leadership spent the week of the St Andrews
negotiations in secret meetings outside Northern Ireland,
the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.

Security and other sources confirmed that the paramilitary
leadership - UVF and Red Hand Commando - met outside the
United Kingdom.

The talks are understood to have stretched from Monday
through to Friday last week, and were deliberately planned
for a period when the political and media focus was on

In recent interviews with this newspaper, the UVF said it
would make a statement "on future intent" after the
November 24 political deadline - the date now set for the
nominations of First and Deputy First Ministers at

The secret talks were to develop that statement - a
statement expected to set out a new position on a range of
paramilitary activities and to deal with the question of

The UVF and closely-associated Red Hand Commando are also
drawing up a new "code of conduct".

In recent interviews, the paramilitary leadership expressed
concerns about the possibility of a political 'Plan B' if
the DUP and Sinn Fein failed to reach agreement.

But at his weekend conference the PUP leader David Ervine,
whose party is aligned to the UVF, said the St Andrews
Agreement had "wiped out Plan B".

He told the conference in a Belfast hotel that what
happened at St Andrews was "even more significant than the
happenings around the Good Friday Agreement".

The IRA is "going away", he said.

"If I'm right about where the IRA is going, then the next
question is where's the UVF and Red Hand going."

That was the question being addressed in those secret
paramilitary talks last week - talks involving the most
senior leadership figures in both organisations.

There is a suggestion that more than a dozen UVF and Red
Hand Commando leaders were involved.

That leadership has been involved in a long consultation
process with its membership ? in Northern Ireland, England
and Scotland.

The statement that could emerge within weeks is expected to
declare an end to activities such as recruitment, training,
weapons procurement and targeting, but there is still
nothing to suggest an early move on decommissioning.

David Ervine told his party conference: "There is a
dialogue going on and I don't want to pre-empt it."

But it is clear that the UVF and Red Hand Commando are
moving closer to making significant statements on the
future of both organisations.

It is not clear, however, if all of those involved in the
talks last week left Northern Ireland together.


Brian Rowan: Loyalists Talking Far From Cameras

16 October 2006

There were no television cameras present, no radio
microphones - and yet there was something significant being
said. David Ervine came straight from the St Andrews
negotiations to his party conference in a Belfast hotel
and, in a 40-minute address around lunchtime on Saturday,
he had something to say that was worth hearing.

Ervine is a one-man-band in the Stormont Assembly; not a
major political force, but within his own community he is a
voice that is listened to.

He offered an opinion to his audience that what happened at
St Andrews, on a day which marked the twelfth anniversary
of the loyalist paramilitaries' ceasefire, "was even more
significant than the happenings around the Good Friday

He believes Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness are moving
towards government, and he has no problem with that.

"I believe it perfectly reasonable to congratulate him
(Paisley)," Ervine said. "I remember the first time I shook
hands with Gerry Adams, and I remember thinking that wasn't
that painful," he continued.

It would be far too much to expect a Paisley-Adams
handshake, but there is reason to believe that the St
Andrews Agreement has opened up political possibilities
that not that long ago were dismissed as unthinkable.

At the opening session of the St Andrews talks, Ervine
suggested there was no reason for not doing a deal – only

The same could now be said to the UVF and Red Hand Commando
as they consider their responses to the political
developments in Scotland and to all that the IRA has said
and done over the past year or so - the ending of the armed
campaign, the decommissioning and the disbanding of
"military structures".

What was the UVF reason for delaying - holding back - a
statement on "future intent"?

It was linked to the negotiations, the November 24 deadline
and the concern about a British-Irish Plan B if the DUP and
Sinn Fein failed to make an agreement.

And what did Ervine have to say about all of that on

"Yesterday (the St Andrews Agreement) wiped out Plan B."

Ervine told his audience the IRA "is going away".

" If I'm right about where the IRA is going, then the next
question is where's the UVF and Red Hand going," he said.
"There is a dialogue going on and I don't want to pre-empt
it," he continued.

There is more than a dialogue going on.

Ervine didn't share this information with his audience, but
he will have been well aware of those secret meetings
outside Northern Ireland - outside the United Kingdom -
involving the most senior figures in the UVF and Red Hand
Commando, figures who sit on brigade and command and
battalion staffs as they are described inside the
paramilitary world.

The talking was spread over five days last week -
deliberately planned, one assumes, to coincide with the St
Andrews negotiations in the knowledge that is where the
political and media focus was going to be.

There were no television cameras or radio microphones with
the UVF - but there was significant work being done.

That organisation and the Red Hand Commando are being taken
ever closer to that moment of decision; to that time when
they will have to declare future intentions.

The secret work of last week was about getting the words
ready – what it is they are going to say across a range of
paramilitary activities including recruitment, targeting,
weapons procurement, intelligence gathering, punishment
beatings and shootings and the question of arms

If they don't say enough, then their statement will not be
worth the paper it is written on. And, remember, as a
result of the St Andrews road map, the IMC will report
again in January.

What the UVF is preparing to say has to be credible, has to
match and fit in with the new circumstances and the new
possibilities of a republican endorsement and participation
in policing and a Paisley-McGuinness led Executive.

We need to be able to read in the UVF statement that that
organisation and the closely linked Red Hand Commando are
finally going away.

There can be no excuses about republican or loyalist
dissidents or concerns about a British-Irish Agreement.

If it falls short of what needs to be said, then it is not
worth saying. The recent IMC and security assessments on
the IRA and what began to happen in St Andrews have changed
everything and raised the bar for loyalism.

There was a gentle warning from Ervine at the weekend about
what is needed from the UVF. He was, I suppose, urging them
not to come up short.

On one specific paramilitary activity, he said there could
be "no excuse for a war economy".

"I'm talking about extortion. There's now no excuse
whatsoever – none," the PUP leader said. He was saying it
for the loyalist paramilitary leadership to hear it.

The UVF and Red Hand Commando - after all of their
consultation and after their secret meetings last week -
will have to produce something that easily fits into the
new political landscape – that sits with what is

If it doesn't then the peace process will turn its nose up
and loyalism will have wasted its time.

There are new standards, which have to be matched if the
loyalist paramilitary leaderships want to be part of the
new political developments.

Unlike St Andrews, there were no cameras and no microphones
watching and recording what the loyalists - paramilitary
and political - were doing and saying in recent days.

But out of vision and out of earshot something significant
- another something significant - may well be taking shape.
We should know pretty soon.


Scappaticci Refused Legal Representation

16 October 2006 12:17

Freddie Scappaticci, who is alleged to be the former head
of the IRA's internal security unit, was refused legal
representation at the Smithwich Tribunal today.

Mr Scappaticci, who is also alleged to be a spy with the
British security services, had applied to be legally
represented at the tribunal.

The tribunal is examining whether there was any garda
collusion in relation to the ambush and killing of two
senior RUC officers who were shot by the IRA 17 years ago.

At this morning's sitting, a man using the name of Kevin
Fulton, who claimed that he worked in the IRA for MI5, was
granted legal representation, as were the families of Chief
Supt Harry Breen and Supt Robert Buchanan.

Former Det Sgt Owen Corrigan was also granted full legal
representation. It was alleged in the House of Commons that
he was the source of information to the IRA, which led to
the death of the two RUC officers.

The tribunal has now gone into private session.

Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan were the two most senior
RUC officers to be killed by the IRA during the Troubles.

On the afternoon of 20 March 1989, they left a meeting in
Dundalk Garda Station in Co Louth to return north.

They were unarmed and in civilian clothes when they were
ambushed just metres inside Northern Ireland. Both were
shot several times and died at the scene.

In the intervening years, there have been many claims that
one or more gardaí in Dundalk told the IRA about the
meeting, giving them time to plan an ambush.

Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended a tribunal be set up
to examine the allegations of collusion.

Judge Peter Smithwick was given that task and he and his
team have been interviewing people and taking evidence for
several months.


Police To Have Access To MI5 Files

By Chris Thornton
16 October 2006

Talks about MI5's future role in Northern Ireland are due
to continue this week after the Government made
unprecedented promises about the secret agency's expansion

In an annex to Friday's St Andrews Agreement, the
Government indicated PSNI officers will have more direct
access to MI5 intelligence than any other UK police force.

And they have agreed that the Policing Board's advisors,
Keir Starmer QC and Jane Gordon, will be "human rights
proofing" the guidelines for how the PSNI will work with
the Security Service and monitoring how those guidelines
are implemented.

The document also officially confirmed for the first time
that former police officers may be hired to staff up MI5's

The Security Service is due to take over anti-terrorism
control from the PSNI next year and is building
headquarters in Palace Barracks, near Holywood.

The Government also backs five principles for next year's
handover set out by PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde ?
including a pledge that all MI5 intelligence relating to
terrorism in Northern Ireland will be seen by police.

This is a crucial concession in the wake of revelations
earlier that in 1998 MI5 had an informer's warning about a
dissident plot to bomb Omagh ? and didn't tell the RUC.

Later that year, the Real IRA set off a bomb in the town,
killing 29 people.

The document says that intelligence will be shared by using
PSNI officers as intelligence analysts and advisors in the
new MI5 HQ, noting that this is "the first such approach in
the UK".

"These arrangements are designed precisely for the purpose
of ensuring that intelligence is shared and properly
directed within the PSNI," the document says.

"Integration of personnel in this way is an essential
protection against concerns that some intelligence would
not be visible to the PSNI."

SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood, who was involved in
negotiations about these issues at St Andrews, said his
party will be in further talks with the Government this

He said his party wants to ensure that a new Stormont
Justice Minister and the First Ministers' office would have
access to information about MI5's activities.

"There are advances in this document, but there are going
to be tough negotiations between now and November to get
that to a substantial place," he said.

The Government has also opened up the possibility that a
Northern Ireland MP could be appointed to the Intelligence
and Security Committee, that oversees spending and
administrative handling of MI5 and MI6 in Whitehall.


Sellafield Firm Facing Safety Breaches Charges

16 October 2006 12:46

The firm that runs Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in
England faces the prospect of unlimited fines in court
today, after admitting safety breaches following a
radioactive leak.

The spillage of spent nuclear fuel was discovered in April
2005, but may have gone unnoticed for eight months.

Around 83,000 litres of acid containing huge amounts of
uranium and plutonium escaped from a ruptured pipe into a
sealed concrete holding cell at the site in Cumbria.

This is the latest in a series of safety breaches which has
prompted the Irish Government to call for Sellafield to be
shut down.

In 1983, it was discovered that on three separate occasions
a mixture of radioactive waste, solvent, and water was
directly discharged into the Irish Sea.

The Government insists that Sellafield, which is closer to
Dublin than London, poses a serious and continuing threat
to the health and safety of Irish people.


Opin: Road Map Quickly Develops Potholes

16 October 2006

The road map towards the restoration of devolved government
in Northern Ireland has been sketched out, along with a
timetable for the journey. With a fair wind and goodwill on
all sides, it could be a relatively short trip, culminating
in the formation of a new power-sharing Executive towards
the end of March.

But it is a route rife with potholes - and they are already
becoming apparent just three days after the conclusion of
the St Andrews summit.

While there is an undoubted groundswell of public opinion
in favour of a return of power to local hands - most
obviously to tackle the problems of rates, water charges,
education reform and economy-boosting measures - it would
be foolish to underestimate the divisions to be bridged by
the DUP and Sinn Fein, in particular, before any final
settlement can be contemplated.

These parties, after all, are not even on public, face-to-
face talking terms.

Both Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams will need to find a way to
lighten the load of political baggage weighing them down.

The DUP, for its part, has often asserted it will not share
power with republicans until they have forsaken practically
everything that makes them republican. Sinn Fein, for its
part, has to accept - and directly support - the PSNI by
taking places on the Policing Board.

Dr Paisley and Mr Adams have spent much of their political
lives vociferously abusing republicans and the police,
respectively. This has conditioned their supporters to
similar viewpoints. In recent times, they have had to
soften their opinions in an attempt to change the attitudes
of their most die-hard constituents. Under the timetable
agreed at St Andrews, they have until November 10 to
demonstrate they can usher their electorates down the road
to political stability.

The task will challenge the legendary salesmanship of both

Dr Paisley is open to attack from critics within and
outside his party. Already Robert McCartney, leader of the
UK Unionist Party, is signalling he will lead a 'No'
campaign against the Agreement. And DUP MEP, Jim Allister,
is also unhappy with developments.

Mr Adams must persuade supporters new policing and justice
arrangements will herald a new era in Northern Ireland for
nationalists as well as unionists. He has been inching
forward on this issue and, to date, has managed to keep
most republicans on board.

It is ironic that Northern Ireland's political future
largely depends on two men with a history of undermining
previous administrations. But these two men now have the
task of forming a joint government - one it will take all
their persuasive powers to achieve.


Opin: Rewards For Those Who Take The Hard Road

14 October 2006

Nothing about the Northern Ireland peace process is ever
simple. It was always unlikely that a firm, cut-and-dried
deal would be hammered out between the parties during just
three days of talks in Scotland. And so, under the
circumstances, what has emerged is better than many had
dared hope, even if it is much less than ideal.

There is now a road map for the future direction of
politics in Northern Ireland. What the British and Irish
Governments hope is that Sinn Fein and the DUP are willing
to follow that map - and, most importantly, lead their
supporters towards the final destination. The goal at the
end of the road is the restoration of working devolved
government, as early as next March.

The blueprint which the Northern Ireland parties have
agreed to study is a clever construction. It signposts the
route to devolved government and the obstacles that have to
be surmounted along the way. These include Sinn Fein
supporting policing and the DUP agreeing to share power
with republicans. Neither prospect is particularly
palatable to the parties, although both have been preparing
the ground among their supporters for just such hurdles.

The real grounds for optimism are that neither party has
ruled out fulfilling their obligations. Much of the
bartering appears to have centred around when, and in what
order, they will make the leap. They both want to be able
to convince their supporters that they forced the other
side to blink first.

The parties have been given until November 10 to digest the
proposals set before them. If, at that stage, the parties
can convince the governments and each other of their firm
intentions to move forward, a carefully sequenced series of
events should follow. These include Sinn Fein calling an
ard fheis to decide on support for policing; the election
in shadow form of a First and Deputy First Minister; and a
referendum - or new Assembly elections - to ensure that the
final deal leading to devolved government is fully endorsed
by the public. The choreography is important, as each
party's move is dependent on reciprocation from the other.

It is also encouraging that both parties have put a
"shopping list" of ancillary demands to the Government,
including the reversal of the decision to end academic
selection; the return of final decisions on new rating
systems and water charges to the Assembly; measures to
improve the economy, including a reduction in the level of
corporation tax as demanded by this newspaper; and
recognition of Irish language rights. These look very like
a reward package for restoring devolution. Surely only
those who intend to do something positive would expect to
be rewarded.


Beached Dolphins Safely Return To Sea Off Mayo

16/10/2006 - 12:04:01

Rescuers in Co Mayo have successfully saved a group of 14
dolphins that became stranded on a beach in the north of
the county overnight.

The dolphins were spotted by a passer-by at around 9am
today on the beach near Belmullet.

There were fears that they may not survive, but all were
safety returned to the water in a rescue operation
involving Belmullet fire brigade, local divers and the


Govt To Begin Issuing Electronic Passports From Today

16/10/2006 - 08:24:37

The Department of Foreign Affairs is due to begin issuing
new electronic Irish passports from today.

The documents will contain a micro-chip embedded on the
photo page which contains the holder's personal details.

The new technology is aimed at tightening travel security
by making it more difficult for people to use fake

Passports already in use will remain valid until they
expire naturally, when they will be replaced with the new
electronic ones.

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