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October 08, 2006

Optimism Mounts Over Peace Talks

News About Ireland & The Irish

UT 10/08/06 Optimism Mounts Over Peace Talks
SL 10/08/06 Time For New Orde-R?
SL 10/08/06 O'Loan's Staff Looking South
SL 10/08/06 Loyalists Residents Urged To Hand Over Boy's Killers
SL 10/08/06 I'll Meet UVF To Discuss Gowdy
SL 10/08/06 Dorrian Case Goes Global
SL 10/08/06 Adams Murder Probe
SL 10/08/06 Cold Case Cops In Pay Secret Probe
SL 10/08/06 Dissident Republicans Threaten To Invade Government Offices
SL 10/08/06 I'm No Provo
SL 09/10/06 The Devolution Debate: Local Power MUST Be In Local Hands
SL 09/17/06 The Devolution Debate: Deal Will Happen Time Is Right
SL 09/24/06 The Devolution Debate: Time To Bury The Past & Share The Future
SL 10/08/06 The Devolution Debate: The Blame Game Must End
IM 10/08/06 Irish Protesters Challenge Israeli Ambassador In Galway

Optimism Mounts Over Peace Talks

Speculation is mounting that Northern Ireland's politicians will
be given a document outlining steps to reviving power sharing
when they meet for crucial talks at St Andrew's next week.

By:Press Association

Optimism has been growing in British and Irish government circles
that a deal involving the Reverend Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams to
restore devolution is possible.

However, its not expected to be completed at St Andrew`s, with
the Reverend Paisley`s DUP requiring assurances on a number of

Mr Paisley and his party will be anxious to secure a guarantee
that the progress made by the IRA in dismantling its terrorist
structures and disassociating itself from criminality is

The party will also want changes to the way political
institutions under the Good Friday Agreement operate, making
devolved ministers more accountable to their power sharing
colleagues for their decisions and also rendering cross border
cooperation with the Irish government more accountable to the
Assembly at Stormont.

The DUP has also highlighted as critical the need for Sinn Fein
to change its policy on policing, urging its supporters to
cooperate with the PSNI.

Sources said that for the DUP it was essential Sinn Fein could
give this commitment if it is to be a credible partner in

For Sinn Fein leader Mr Adams and his team the most important
issue is whether they can give a commitment to permanent power
sharing by the DUP.

Republicans have indicated that the policing issue will be dealt
with once they know a power sharing government will be formed.

Whilst Sinn Fein is also expected to raise equality/human rights
and Irish language issues, they will also try to address the
issue of on-the-runs, terrorists returning to Northern Ireland
under an amnesty.

On Friday DUP negotiator Nigel Dodds, the north Belfast MP,
described proposals for an amnesty as a deal breaker.

The Sinn Fein leader, however, insisted yesterday it would not be
a stumbling block.

Time For New Orde-R?

By Alan Murray
08 October 2006

There is increasing speculation that Chief Constable Sir Hugh
Orde will not seek to renew his four-year contract to head the

Policing Board sources say the former Metropolitan Police Deputy
Assistant Commissioner has given no indication that he will seek
a further term of office in the province.

The 47-year-old, who took up the then œ130,000-a-year post in
2002, lives with his wife in a Government-owned house in Co Down.

His four-year contract is due to end in August 2007 and the
betting is that a new chief constable will have to be appointed
by the Policing Board before next summer. Leading internal
candidates for the job are current Deputy Chief Constable Paul
Leighton and Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland.

More recent ACC appointees Peter Sheridan and Roy Toner have
enjoyed some media exposure, but the remainder of the command
secretariat are relatively unknown to the public.

When he joined the new Police Service of Northern Ireland from
the Met, Sir Hugh - who had been a senior member of the Stevens
Inquiry into the loyalist murder of solicitor Pat Finucane - was
charged with implementing the remaining 175 recommendations of
the Patton Report.

These included the sensitive job of opening up Special Branch
intelligence to CID on a shared basis. He has also supported the
Government's controversial plan to remove the responsibility for
intelligence gathering from the PSNI to MI5.

In a statement yesterday, the Policing Board said: "The Chief
Constable's fixed-term contract expires on August 31, 2007.

"The contract can be extended by mutual agreement in accordance
with relevant regulations."

O'Loan's Staff Looking South

By Alan Murray
08 October 2006

At least four members of the Police Ombudsman's Office in Belfast
have applied to join the new Ombudsman's Office for the Garda in
the Republic.

And there's concern that the departure of investigators to Dublin
would leave Nuala O'Loan short of experienced investigators in

Sources at the local Ombudsman's office say some middle ranking
investigators have applied to join the new Dublin set-up, which
is trying to recruit trained investigators before it begins to
receive complaints next year.

Nuala O'Loan's office has been recruiting increasingly from the
private sector.

Recent appointments have included candidates from the retail
sector who have no experience in conducting investigations.

Sources within the office say there is growing concern about the
lack of investigatory skills and experience among some those
recently recruited.

But a spokesman for the Police Ombudsman's Office said: "Trainee
investigators with the Police Ombudsman's Office are on a two
year probation, similar to that with the police.

"During that time they undertake a programme which is a mix of
classroom tuition, practical demonstration and intensive
assessment of their work. Agencies such as the PSNI and the
Courts Service are involved in the course and the students' work
is independently assessed by experienced police officers from
outside the organisation and by the University of Portsmouth.

"It's very possible that some staff from the Police Ombudsman's
Office might look to the new office in Dublin, but we would view
that as a healthy thing. It would help the new office benefit
from some of our experience. By the same token, we regularly
advertise for experienced investigative staff and get applicants
who have been working in other organisations and in police
services. It's the way of the world."

Loyalists Residents Urged To Hand Over Boy's Killers

By Stephen Breen
08 October 2006

The grieving parents of murdered schoolboy Thomas Devlin last
night pleaded with the people of a loyalist housing estate to
hand over his killers.

Jim Devlin and Penny Holloway issued the plea after it emerged
the two main suspects in the brutal killing had returned to the
Mount Vernon Estate, in north Belfast.

The thugs, who were quizzed by cops about the horrific knife
attack, fled the area earlier this year after receiving threats
from the UVF.

But the pair are now living openly in the area and are not
believed to be under threat from local paramilitaries.

Thomas' father hopes the return of the suspects to the loyalist
stronghold will prompt people to come forward with information.

Said Jim: "We are now living in a time of change and now would be
a good time for the people living in Mount Vernon to tell the
police what they know about my son's killers.

"These are very dangerous people and they need to be put away.
All we want is for someone to act as a good citizen and do the
right thing by helping to catch evil two child killers.

"I also wonder if these people had ever left the area in the
first place and I can't believe that people are content with
child killers living close to them.

"We can't understand how the girlfriends, relatives and friends
of those involved in Thomas' murder can go about their daily
lives, knowing these people murdered a defenceless and innocent

"We find it very hard dealing with the fact that the people who
killed my son are probably living round the corner from us. Why
can't people see right from wrong?"

The 15-year-old was stabbed five times in the back while walking
with friends, close to his home on the Somerton Road, on August
10, 2005.

The top cop leading the hunt for Thomas' killers, Detective
Superintendent Simon Barraclough, also vowed to catch the
teenager's killers.

He said: "I believe a breakthrough is still possible. But in
order to achieve this, I need people with information who have
not yet spoken to us, for whatever reason, to come forward now."

:: Sunday Life's œ10,000 reward for information leading to the
arrest and conviction of Thomas' killers remains in place.

I'll Meet UVF To Discuss Gowdy

By Stephen Breen
08 October 2006

The father of a loyalist murder victim last night called on UVF
godfathers to lift a death threat against the man who helped nail
psycho Special Branch agent Mark Haddock.

John Allen - whose son John Jnr was murdered by Haddock's UVF
henchmen in November 2003 - urged the terror group to allow
Trevor Gowdy and his family to return to Northern Ireland.

Mr Gowdy miraculously survived a hammer and hatchet attack by
Haddock's thugs, and courageously testified against the monster
who doubled as Mount Vernon UVF chief and Special Branch

Mr Allen made the plea after it emerged Mr Gowdy, who is living
under a witness protection scheme, made a secret visit to the
province last month to pray at his best friend's grave.

Said the 53-year-old: "Trevor Gowdy should not have to visit my
son's grave under the cover of darkness. He is a hero who should
be honoured.

"If the UVF leadership sanctioned the murder of Haddock because
he was an agent, why are they still punishing a brave man who
stood up to him?

"The UVF leadership should issue a public statement on this
matter so that Trevor and those close to him can come home.

"The people of Ballyclare and our politicians should also be
putting pressure on the paramilitaries to lift the threat against
the Gowdys because of what Trevor did.

"Trevor stood up to bully boys and scumbags, but because of this
his life has been turned upside down.

"I should be able to go to my son's grave with him during the

Mr Allen also claimed that Haddock, who was found guilty of
causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Gowdy outside a social club in
Monkstown, should have been convicted of attempted murder.

He added: "Trevor is a very lucky man because they used all sorts
of weapons against him and I firmly believe they were trying to
kill him.

"Haddock should have been going to prison for attempted murder
and I'm sure it won't be long before he's out because of the time
he has already served on remand.

"I would also like to know why no-one else has not been brought
to justice for this horrific attack because Haddock didn't do
this on his own."

Mr Gowdy, a Ballyclare pub doorman, was left fighting for his
life when set upon in Monkstown in December 2002. An amateur
boxer, he fought back against his vicious attackers, leading to
blood stains from Haddock being found at the scene. This forensic
evidence was central to the loyalist being found guilty.

Haddock was shot and seriously injured in May during a brief
period out of prison on bail.

Dorrian Case Goes Global

By Stephen Breen
08 October 2006

The disappearance of Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian is to be
highlighted around the world later this month.

For Lisa's memory will be honoured by her family and friends in
Belfast on October 24, at the same time hundreds of similar
events take place across America and Europe.

Services have been organised by US-based website,, which was launched to raise awareness of the
world's missing persons.

The site features details of hundreds of missing persons and
urges people to come forward with information.

The website, which includes details of Lisa's disappearance and
contact numbers, contacted Lisa's sister, Joanne, after learning
about her disappearance and murder.

Said Joanne: "The services have been organised to raise awareness
of people who are missing and I have been told that previous
events have led to people being found.

"We are pleased to be part of this night of remembrance and we
will be thinking of other families around the world whose loved
ones are missing.

"We are also delighted that this missing persons website has
included details of Lisa's case and you never know who might be
reading it.

"This is a very special night for us to be involved in and it
just goes to show you the level of interest my sister's case has
generated around the world."

Joanne also revealed that the song which featured on the cinema
campaign for Lisa, 'Someone Somewhere Knows Something', has also
been played in Denmark.

The song was written by local songwriter Mike Gaspon, who will
perform it at Lisa's memorial service.

The October 24 event is taking place at the Errigle Inn, on
Belfast's Ormeau Road.

Adams Murder Probe

By Alan Murray and John McGurk
08 October 2006

Sinn Fein boss Gerry Adams is set to be quizzed by cops over the
murder of two policemen.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde dropped the bombshell revelation at a
private session of the Policing Board last week.

It comes just days ahead of crunch all-party talks aimed breaking
the political deadlock.

Policing Board sources said Sir Hugh candidly admitted to the
DUP's Ian Paisley jnr that the PSNI historical inquiries team is
probing Adams' possible role in the 1971 double-murder of
Constables Cecil Cunningham (46) and John Haslett (21).

But Adams last night told Sunday Life: "I don't want to comment
on it.

"I don't want to feed it.

"They are investigating something I know nothing about - and they
have not been in touch with me."

Adams dismissed reports linking him to the north Belfast double-
slaying as "rubbish".

Sunday Life has previously reported claims that Adams'
fingerprints had been found in a burnt-out green Ford Cortina
linked to the IRA killers.

Constables Cunningham and Haslett had been carrying out
surveillance duties when IRA gunmen raked their unmarked police
car with bullets at the junction of Twaddell Avenue and Woodvale
Road in October 1971.

Sir Hugh's confirmation that Adams' possible involvement in the
killings was being investigated by 'cold case' officers came at a
private session of the Policing Board last Thursday.

Said a source: "He (Sir Hugh) was quite forthright about his
response to Ian Paisley jnr's question and gave it straight.

"He said Gerry Adams' possible role in the murders was being
investigated and said anyone else who needs to be investigated
over historic cases and interviewed will be.

"He was very straight about it."

It's understood Sir Hugh did not dispute reports that Adams' palm
and fingerprints were recovered from a burnt-out vehicle believed
to have been used by the killers.

Sir Hugh is also understood to have given a pledge that the
historical inquiries team would interview any other senior
loyalist or republican figures if they were suspected of
involvement in unsolved crimes.

The revelation comes as Adams prepares for all-party talks at St
Andrews in Scotland, where his party will come under intense
pressure to endorse the PSNI and commit itself to joining the
Policing Board.

Cold Case Cops In Pay Secret Probe

By Joe Oliver
08 October 2006

Members of the PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team have a new
investigation on their hands - into their OWN rates of pay.

Former PSNI and RUC officers recruited by the 'cold case' review
team have discovered they are earning a lot less than their
English counterparts.

The penny really dropped two weeks ago when we revealed what two
retired police officers from Kent were offered to join up.

They were told by a police recruitment agency on the mainland
that they could earn œ18-an-hour - more than œ700 for a 40-hour
week - to add their experience to the team.

But the disclosure only confirmed what some members of the 100-
strong team of detectives and support staff based at Ravernet in
Lisburn already suspected.

One retired RUC officer recruited by HET said yesterday: "At the
start, when we met with the English officers, we learned they had
been told not to discuss what they were being paid.

"But these things have a habit of filtering out, particularly
among detectives, and I can tell you there is a lot of ill
feeling about it.

"The pay scale we are on is just over œ10 an hour, yet we
discover that people sitting across the desk are on almost double

"It's a serious grievance, because they are new to the situation
here and would only be scratching the surface without our help."

The HET team, led by former Metropolitan commander Dave Cox, is
charged with the investigation of all Troubles-related killings
dating back to 1969.

The team, which has a budget set at more than œ30m, is made up of
former officers from both here and Britain as well as a number of
seconded PSNI officers.

"Our difficulty is that we were recruited through a local
agency," said the ex-RUC officer. "They negotiated with the PSNI
and told us what we would be paid.

"We were originally on œ8.50 an hour and we had to fight to get
it up to over a tenner.

"So you can understand the discontent and also concern at the
lack of transparency about the whole set up," he added.

The enquiry team is operationally independent from the PSNI, but
reports to Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde.

The team will need between five and seven years to complete its

Dissident Republicans Threaten To Invade Government Offices

by Stephen Breen
08 October 2006

Ulster civil servants have been warned of a plot by renegade
republicans to storm government buildings.

Sunday Life has obtained an internal memo from the Prison Service
outlining details of the dissident threat to invade government

The item was e-mailed to staff in various departments last
Monday, warning them of plans by die-hard republicans to occupy

The invasion tactic was previously used by dissident republican
protestors in July 2003. On that occasion around 30 demonstrators
forced their way into the Prison Service HQ at Stormont Estate in
a protest republicans having to share cells with loyalist.

During the security breach some protestors took sensitive
documents from a sixth floor office of Dundonald House.

The planned protests have been organised to raise awareness of
conditions for Real and Continuity IRA prisoners at Maghaberry

And it is understood that the Prison Service's headquarters at
Stormont is again one of the main targets.

The confidential memo states: "Information has been received
suggesting that a dissident republican grouping may wish to
highlight prisoner issues by occupying government buildings.

"We have no specific information at this time in regard to which
building might be targeted in this way.

"In the event of such an incident, we would advise that the PSNI
are called immediately and once on the scene, their advice should
be followed.

"Whilst every effort should be taken to ensure that occupancy of
government buildings is prevented, staff should not put
themselves in a position of personal danger.

"It is important that protectively marked material and valuables
should be securely locked away if a building is occupied and IT
systems rendered inaccessible to outsiders.

"All staff should exercise extra vigilance at this current time."

A spokesman for the NIO said the NI Civil Service takes any
threat very seriously.

Added the spokesman: "The security of our staff is of paramount
importance to us and we take all threats very serious.

"We can't comment on internal security matters, but if we feel
our staff have been threatened in any way, we will contact the
appropriate authorities."

A senior Real IRA source confirmed a number of protests over the
prisoners issue had been organised over the coming months.

Said the source: "We are looking at a number of ways to highlight
the injustice our prisoners at Maghaberry currently find
themselves in.

"Our supporters have every right to stage protests at government
buildings because this issue needs to be highlighted.

"We can't comment on what forms the protests to take, but this
situation is not going to go away. We will keep protesting about
this human rights issue.

"The situation at Maghaberry needs to be addressed sooner rather
than later because people's lives are at stake here."

I'm No Provo

By Stephen Breen
08 October 2006

This is the loyalist murder bid survivor who last night angrily
hit out at Michael Stone's claims that he was a republican.

Mickey Conway says he'd had to live with the "stigma" of being
labelled a republican since his Garvagh home was riddled with
bullets by loyalists in 1987.

The 47-year-old plasterer hit out at Stone after we revealed last
week how the graveyard killer believed he would be charged with
the gun attack.

Stone later justified the murder bid by claiming the target was a

But Mr Conway said: "It is absolutely scandalous to suggest that
I was a republican. I am just a hard working family man.

"I wanted to speak out now because ever since Stone's attack on
my home I have had to live with the stigma of being labelled a

"My home has been attacked over the years and I just want to tell
people once and for all that I am no republican. I have no
interest in republicanism.

"Stone has clearly been told scandalous lies about me and that's
the reason why he attacked my family home.

"The local police know that I am not a republican and they know
all about the gun attack on my home. I just want to get on with
my life now and put this attack behind me."

East Londonderry Derry SDLP MLA John Dallat also hit out at
Stone, adding: "Stone was responsible for nothing but a cowardly
attack on an innocent Catholic family.

"His claim that he shot up a senior republican's home in Garvagh
is only re-opening the hurt Mr Conway's family has suffered in
the past."

Mr Dallat also called on Stone to name the men who ordered the
attack on Mr Conway's home.

Added the SDLP man: "If Stone is really interested in drawing a
line on his time as a loyalist killer then let him name the
individuals who brought him to South Derry to murder."

"These are the people who should be serving time for the grief
and suffering they caused. Stone is in a position to name them,
have them arrested and brought before the courts.

"It seems to be that Stone can't get on with his life because his
conscience is eating away at him and until he tells all, he will
have no rest.

"It would be an absolute crime if he were to serve less than a
full sentence. His crimes were totally sectarian, nothing to do
with politics but everything to do with naked hatred of the worst

Stone refused to apologise for the attack and is standing by his

He added: "I stand by everything I did as a freelance loyalist
because I was a soldier who was engaging the enemy. I received
intelligence on a wide range of individuals and this is what I
acted on."

The Devolution Debate: Local Power MUST Be In Local Hands

In part four of our series giving key opinion shapers their say
on devolution, Peter Bunting, assistant general secretary NI
Committee ICTU, insists self-government is not only good for our
workers and bosses - but also our politicians

10 September 2006

For over a century the trade union movement in Britain and
Ireland has been at the forefront of campaigns for democracy.

We struggle for workers having a greater say in their workplaces,
of course, but we have also historically campaigned for votes for
men of no property and women of all classes.

The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade
Unions has no constitutional axe to grind. Others can fret about
the symbols and rake over the past.

There are real issues right now and in the coming months which
are affecting ordinary people - their jobs, their schools, their
mortgages - that can only be solved equitably by a return of
devolved power.

Trade unionists may have fundamental disagreements with other
interested parties in our economy and society - such as the CBI
and Federation of Small Businesses - but we are all agreed that
it is vital for locally-elected politicians to do the job they
were elected to do by the voters three years ago.

We will all be better off with local politicians running the
devolved institutions, because they are more accountable to us -
the people of Northern Ireland.

We can call to their constituency offices, we can lobby them at
Stormont, and, if necessary, we can vote them out at free

Direct rule ministers are simply not accountable in the same way,
and that is why it is easier for them to push through measures
which are unpopular and probably unworkable.

The Review of Public Administration, for example, has become a
political football with little public discussion of the severe
cutbacks it would take to reduce local government to seven
'super' councils.

The crunch in funding for our schools that has seen unelected
bureaucrats meeting in secret to decide on which educational
services are to be scrapped would be unthinkable if there was a
locally-elected minister for education.

There is a virtual wall of silence surrounding the Strategic
Investment Board, which is an unrepresentative quango that is
devoid of representation for workers or even elected politicians
and yet is spending a huge amount of money - œ16 billion - on the
local infrastructure.

These quangocrats have control of a budget that is 20 times the
œ800m we received as EU Peace funding.

If local MLAs want to absent themselves from the jobs they were
elected to do, that is their business.

But it is all our business if the policies followed by direct
rule ministers result in the siphoning off of public money for
private profit that has been typical of the Private Finance

Meantime, jobs are being lost or threatened - 180 jobs lost in
Lisnaskea, 100 at the Prudential Building Society, 180 at Daewoo,
200 at Visteon, and at least 1,200 civilian employees at the
Ministry of Defence.

Over 2,000 local government jobs are under threat as a result of
the Review of Public Administration.

These job losses spill over into the economy with less money
being spent in shops, threatening further livelihoods.

For every family, the extra bill for the 'reforms' being forced
through by direct rule ministers will be between œ600 and œ2000,
due to hikes in rates and the imposition of water charges. It's
not just your vote that is being cheapened and then dismissed.

Already, one in four households is living in poverty, our average
wages are 20pc below the UK average, 47pc of school-leavers have
no qualifications and a quarter of all adults are functionally
illiterate. Where are the reforms needed to tackle these issues?

The trade union movement has plenty to say about these matters
and we will campaign on all of them to ensure that the 220,000
working people that we represent are heard.

We will take on the cheerleaders for these retrograde changes and
will confront whosoever is responsible, be they top civil
servant, quango appointee, direct rule minister or member of the
Northern Ireland Assembly.

It is clear that while direct rule continues, the policies
imposed on us by Government ministers will not address the social
and economic problems facing the people here.

If unchallenged, these dictates will instead lead to a dramatic
increase in our already excessive cost of living.

This situation is not inevitable. Our locally-elected
representatives have it within their power to end direct rule.
All they have to do is reach agreement and restore the Executive
and the Assembly.

Congress believes that the onus is on them to reach agreement now
in the interests of all the people of Northern Ireland.

The Devolution Debate: Deal Will Happen Time Is Right

In part five of our series giving key opinion shapers their say
on devolution Peter Robinson MP, MLA, deputy leader of the DUP,
insists deadlines are not important, what is important is a 100pc
solid arrangement that ensures the Assembly lasts years, not just

17 September 2006

As a committed devolutionist, I want to see local decision-making
return as soon as is possible.

However, the so-called deadline of November 24 is a distraction
from the real question of when the circumstances will be right.

While one can understand why the Government is setting target
dates, the reality remains that November 24 is an arbitrary date
with no independent significance outside the personal timetables
of Tony Blair's retirement and Bertie Ahern's election.

Few can be in any doubt of what is required by the DUP and the
wider unionist community both from the Government and Sinn Fein
before the form of devolution proposed can be restored.

Indeed, over the past three years since the DUP became the
largest unionist party, very considerable progress has been made.

By any reckoning, substantial decommissioning has occurred, as
well as the most positive ever IRA statement.

The IMC has confirmed that very significant advances have been
made on the issues of paramilitary and criminal activity by the

The Government is also in the process of drafting legislation to
make changes to the structures and institutions of the Belfast

It would be foolish to say there has not been progress - but
dangerous to suggest that nothing more needs to be done.

Contrast that with the stunts, words and gestures which satisfied
the UUP during the early part of the process. If unionists have
learnt nothing else from the last 10 years, it is that
republicans will only move when they have no choice, and they
will always do the least possible.

That is why it is only the clarity that we introduced to the
process and the resolve to require completion and finality that
has brought about the progress we have seen today.

Left to their own devices, the IRA would never have
decommissioned or dealt with the issues of paramilitary or
criminal activity.

The formula for progress we have adopted has worked so far and,
if we stick at it, I am confident that it will also deliver the
final elements to make sure that which has undermined the
community here can be dealt with once and for all.

It is only in such an environment that devolution is likely to
survive and prosper, making a difference to the people of
Northern Ireland. History has taught us that moving too soon
leads to suspension and collapse of the institutions.

Sinn Fein has also to face up to dealing with the issue of

It is self-evident that anyone who would aspire to be in
Government must support the rule of law and encourage others to
do so.

The DUP is not the impediment to devolution - indeed, with the
strength of our representation in the Assembly and any Executive,
no one has more to benefit.

But it must be on the basis where the conditions are right.

Since taking the lead role for unionism, we have made a
significant difference and are now well on our way to delivering
the kind of arrangements and environment which will allow
devolution to return.

From our point-of-view, the sooner this happens the better.

But we will not be bullied, influenced or cajoled into taking
decisions on the basis of November 24 - or any other date, for
that matter.

We have already demonstrated the benefits of not rushing into a
deal, but of ensuring that the time is right.

In the long run, I have no doubt that not just unionists, but the
whole community will be grateful that we made sure that the
circumstances existed so that devolution could survive for
generations, rather than merely months.

The Devolution Debate: Time To Bury The Past And Share The Future

By Frank Bryan
24 September 2006

Northern Ireland, the North, Ulster, the Six Counties . . . where
are you from?

Put bluntly, that's not the question that matters most to people.
And in truth few beyond these shores really care.

What matters most for people is what directly affects their daily
lives - getting the education and skills to secure a good job,
paying their mortgage, affording a holiday and supporting their
children's ambitions.

But who out there is providing the vision we can all rally round?
Who out there can provide the leadership we so desperately need?
To this end a huge responsibility falls on the shoulders of
elected representatives.

To finally move away from an equality of prejudice to an equality
of respect and opportunity, we must actively encourage our
elected representatives to bury the past - and reward those that
do with our support at the ballot box.

Otherwise, we can blame no one but ourselves for a depressing
future of animosity, mistrust and direct rule. The old adage is
true: "Democracy delivers the leadership we deserve."

The future we seek for ourselves and our children will be built
on a successful, vibrant economy, secured against the backdrop of
a society at peace with itself - and with our own people making
the decisions that impact on our shared public services.

The IoD makes no apology for banging on to anyone who will listen
that the economy really matters! It has a direct impact on the
number of jobs available to our families, on wage levels that can
be sustained, on good public services through our schools and

Our businesses must therefore look outward to the potential
benefits linking with our prosperous economic neighbour and the
rapidly expanding economies of countries such as India and China.

In our shared future, we will win together or we all lose. It is
soul destroying to come across the attitude where we would prefer
to sacrifice our own future to ensure our neighbour's is also
lost. If we are really to make progress, then each of us must
rise to the challenge every day, making one small step in
accepting our neighbour.

Furthermore we must nurture and applaud a truly 'can do'
attitude. We can no longer wallow in the false security of a
dependency culture. European and American support have been
invaluable, allowing us to glimpse a proud and sustainable

However the world marketplace is a hard taskmaster with no room
for sentiment. It does not care about our past - only have we the
skills and talent to deliver in the here and now?

Crucially, our education system will provide the key foundation
stone upon which to build. While very good in parts, it is
scandalous the number of people we let fall through the net.
Again, it is our own people who are best able to address this

An urgent restoration of our regional Assembly and Executive is
required so Northern Ireland can develop a distinctive presence
in the patchwork of European regions. I have no doubt that we
have the talent and imagination to build that better shared
future, but do we have the will?

Optimistically, I believe there is political will to find a way
through our difficulties. As ever, for those of us outside the
political fray, it is so frustrating watching our elected
representatives agree on so much yet fail to deliver what the
people they serve most need. The business community supports all
those working towards the prospect of a more prosperous, healthy
future for everyone. However, we will judge harshly those who
squander this opportunity.

It is time we matured as a society and took responsibility for
our own future. The greatest gift our elected representatives can
now give us is the political stability to help build the vibrant
economy we all so desperately need.

The Devolution Debate: The Blame Game Must End

08 October 2006

In part eight of our series giving key opinion shapers their say
on devolution DAVID FORD MLA, leader of the Alliance Party, says
devolution is a valuable prize but hurdles still have to be

WE are in the home straight, but Sinn F‚in still has to sign up
to policing to clear the final hurdle and ensure that we can all
claim the prize of devolution.

If this move takes place, the DUP would then have no option but
to put years of prejudice behind them and do a deal to get the
Assembly up and running again.

The mood music sounds fairly sweet. Wednesday's IMC report stated
that the IRA no longer poses a terrorist threat, but the issue of
policing still looms large.

Alliance published five benchmarks on policing and the rule of
law in August: all parties must meet them to ensure sustainable

We demanded that any party in government must join the policing
board, support the police service, and do all in its power to end

Republicans have now been given a clean bill of health. The blame
game must end. It's time for a sustainable deal to deliver
decision-making powers to Northern Ireland.

If Sinn F‚in sign up to policing, any subsequent deal must be
more than just a quick fix between them and the DUP. That failed
two years ago.

There's a lot more work to do in St Andrews. Alliance believes
that wider issues must be addressed to make the Assembly work
effectively in the long run.

We must face facts. Our people are fed up with politics here,
because there have been so many false starts in getting
devolution running. While traditional politicians squabble about
the constitution, the people are being hit with unfair rates
rises and water taxes.

Politicians need to acknowledge that the Agreement was a major
advance, but it was not perfect.

A recent survey showed that 40pc of people believe in the
principles of the Agreement, but said it needed to be reformed.

If we are to create a normal society, the Berlin Wall of
segregation in Northern Ireland must come down. Sadly, the
Agreement added bricks to the top of this wall - such as the
sectarian Designation system for MLAs.

Those who don't recognise the need to reform the Agreement are
leading Northern Ireland up the garden path again.

Demands to preserve the Agreement unchanged are as unrealistic as
demands to scrap it. Agreement fundamentalism will only lead to
Assembly failure.

The Agreement has increased polarisation and increased the amount
of money wasted on segregation.

We want to smash segregation to stop sectarianism.

To do this, progress must be made on a shared future. This will
stop œ1bn being wasted every year on second rate services for a
divided society.

'Two for the price of one' is generally considered good value in
the shops. We have exactly the opposite in public services. We
often have one service for the price of two.

Why should a village have two primary schools, to pander to those
who want to divide our children, instead of providing one
integrated school?

This would provide better opportunities for the pupils and far
better value for money for the taxpayer.

The final issue which must be examined in St Andrews is giving
victims a voice.

We have proposed giving people the chance to put their story on

We have also suggested a memorial to victims, and a yearly day of

A day of reflection would enable people to think about the
suffering of the entire community.

There must be a wider process of engagement to help victims
throughout our society.

We must remember the victims of the past, overcome the divisions
of the present and work to create a better, shared, future.

Irish Protesters Challenge Israeli Ambassador In Galway

IMEMC & Agencies - Sunday, 08 October 2006, 12:41

Dr. Zion Evrony, the Israeli ambassador to Ireland was greeted
with boos and hisses, shouted slogans and Palestinian flags as he
began a speech at the Law School of the National University of
Ireland in Belfast. The protest was launched by Irish supporters
of Palestine, and sponsored by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity

In the Galway protest, students, activists, Palestinians and
other Arab-Irish supporters carried signs such as, "Israel has
ignored 46 U.N. [United Nations] Resolutions Against It. The
U.S. has vetoed 40 U.N. Resolutions Condemning Israeli Criminal
Actions", "Israel on Trial: Murder of 786 Palestinian Children
since 2000: Guilty, Murder of 4171 Palestinian Adults since 2000:
Guilty", and "Pity the Nation - Again [a reference to Ireland's
own conflict with a foreign occupying power - England]".

One student who attended the lecture gave the following account,
"The ambassador treated the audience as though we had just come
down in the last shower. He made territorial claims in his speech
and told us that if we read 'the right history boooks' we would
come to understand his point of view. He tried making jokes most
of which went down like a lead balloon. He further claimed that
Israel did not target civilians and attempted to justify the
invasion of Lebanon. As if this wasn't sickening enough he bagan
to talk about the great war for civilisation and democracy (here
I am paraphrasing, I cannot remember his exact words) and pretty
much claimed that Israel's actions were making the world,
including Ireland, a safer place anmd that western media was
biased AGAINST Israel! Some Arabic members of the audience and
some members of the IPSC society took exception to his remarks
about fifteen minutes into the diatribe. They began to heckle and
were asked to leave. As a mark of solidarity with the hecklers
and disgust with the speaker about thirty to forty others left in
solidarity. This included all members of the IPSC, the Socialist
Party, Sinn Fein and several members of Amnesty International
(acting on an individual basis) as well as a large number of
others including many of the Palestinians in the audience."

The attendee, who identified himself as James, stated that, "On
leaving we began chanting in the Foyer of the building where a
Garda [Irish police] cordon prevented us moving further back into
the building. After some time we began moving around to the side
door to blockade the ambassadors car, a black BMW. A detachment
moved around the building to get behind the car as a Garda cordon
was preventing us from completely surrounding it. The Gardai
then physically pushed us back from behind the car and around to
the other side of the building. Here we noticed that a Renault
station wagon with diplomatic plates had been driven up to a
different door. There was an Israeli agaent in the car who hopped
into the back seat and began using her phone. We maintained a
presence at both cars for some time all the time chanting 'Free,
Free Palestine'"

He continued, "Inside, the Ambassador was facing a barrage of
questions from various people in the audience. When it came time
for him to leave a second black BMW ploughed through the crowd
flanked by Special Branch agents. The Mossad driver showed no
regard whatsoever for the people around the car and was driving
at speed in a dangerous manner in a pedestrian area. He drove up
to a fire escape some thirty or forty feet from the renault and a
phalanx of Gardai, Special Branch and Mossad agents surrounded
the car while the amabassador came out and climbed in. The driver
then took off at speed while Special Branch agents threw
protestors out of the way in a rough manner. A number of people
were manhandled or bumped by the car but no injuries were

James stated that "The protest was impassioned and loud but was
peaceful at all times and while some Gardai behaved in a rough
manner many gave us messages of support and said 'fair play to
ye' saying they were only there because they had to be. Similar
messages of support were received from campus security and
University staff."

He said the only people who objected at all to the protest were a
few members of the law society who had organised the Israeli
Ambassador's talk, adding, "When they came out in their suits and
fancy frocks to berate the protestors following the ambassador's
departure they were met with chants of 'There's no Justice with

This is not the first time the Israeli ambassador in Ireland has
received such criticism. In July, during the Israeli war with
Lebanon, Aengus O Snodaigh, a member of the Irish Parliament and
the spokesperson on International Affairs for the Sinn F‚in
party, demanded the recall of the Israeli ambassador from his
post in Ireland, saying, "[The Irish government] should call in
the Israeli Ambassador and express in the strongest possible
terms Ireland's opposition to Israel's attacks on Lebanon. The
government must insist that they comply with international law,
if not they will be subject to sanctions from the international

At that time, O Snodaigh also proposed "the suspension of the
preferential trade agreement between the European Union and
Israel, which provides Israel with favourable conditions when
trading with EU member states including Ireland."
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