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October 15, 2006

Paisley & Adams For Face-To-Face Meeting Tomorrow

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 10/16/06 Paisley & Adams For Face-To-Face Meeting Tomorrow
IT 10/16/06 A Lot Of Devils May Yet Be Lurking In Detail Of Agreement
SF 10/15/06 Bringing Rejectionist Into Peace Process Is An Achievement
IT 10/16/06 DUP Claims MI5 Building Entrenches UK Presence
TO 10/16/06 Ulster Power Talks End With A Plan - But No Handshake
SM 10/15/06 Hain: St Andrews Agreement 'Better Than Good Friday'
GU 10/15/06 Still Talking
IT 10/16/06 Taoiseach Confident DUP And SF Will Say Yes To Deal
NH 10/15/06 Will St Andrews' Agreement Bring Lasting Peace To North
TO 10/15/06 Opin: Tony Blair, Ireland's Saviour
IT 10/16/06 'I Do' But No 'Hello!' At Flatley Wedding
IT 10/16/06 Minister Opens Kerry Woods To Public


Paisley And Adams For Face-To-Face Meeting Tomorrow

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor, and Mark Hennessy,
Political Correspondent

DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin president
Gerry Adams will come face to face at Stormont tomorrow to
begin charting a shared future for Northern Ireland amid
initial signs that the St Andrews agreement between the two
governments is taking root with the Northern public.

As the British and Irish governments and the Northern
parties seek to build on the momentum of their agreement,
pressure is also falling on British chancellor Gordon Brown
and on Minister for Finance Brian Cowen to provide a
substantial "billion pound plus" package to boost its

Prospective first minister Dr Paisley and Mr Adams are due
to lead senior delegations to a meeting of the Assembly's
Programme for Government committee tomorrow to agree
priority issues for the Northern Executive which is
scheduled to be fully restored by March 2007.

Meanwhile, it became clear at the weekend that Fine Gael
leader Enda Kenny will oppose any attempt by the Government
to hold a referendum on the St Andrews proposals. Mr Kenny
said at the Fine Gael president's dinner on Saturday night
that a unanimous vote by the Dáil would offer any political
endorsement necessary.

Attorney General Rory Brady is to offer legal advice to the
Cabinet shortly on whether the proposals require a change
to the Constitution, given the people's past acceptance of
the Belfast Agreement.

In Scotland, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern indicated his
preference for a referendum to be held in the Republic in

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said the outcome of the Scottish
talks was "somewhat disappointing" given the expectations
raised by both governments in advance.

"It is essential that whatever form of 'electoral
endorsement' is now sought should not lead to further
strengthening of the political extremes at the expense of
the more moderate parties who have done so much to bring
about an end to violence to bring Northern Ireland to the
position where it is today."

Tomorrow will be the first time Dr Paisley and Mr Adams
will have had such intimate direct political contact. The
DUP said its delegation would comprise Dr Paisley, deputy
leader Peter Robinson and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds. Mr
Adams is expected to be joined by prospective Deputy First
Minister Martin McGuinness and one other senior party

The programme for government committee met throughout the
summer and while early meetings were often acrimonious, in
the latter summer months there was business-like
engagement. The governments hope tomorrow will mark the
beginning of similar contact between Dr Paisley and Mr

There is unanimous agreement between the parties that the
opportunity to extract a financial package to support the
agreement from London, Dublin and Washington and Brussels
should be exploited. "This is the time to exert maximum
leverage, not later, and we are talking about a package of
billions, not millions, over a period of time," a senior
DUP source said last night.

Sinn Féin and the DUP must say by November 10th whether
they accept the proposals. Mr Adams and Mr Robinson said
yesterday their parties would immediately embark on a
consultation process with their politicians, party members
and supporters.

Mr Robinson, rounding on Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir
Reg Empey who categorised the St Andrews paper as the
"Belfast Agreement for slow learners", indicated that the
DUP continued to be generally comfortable with the Scottish
proposals. "This agreement is immeasurably better than the
lousy deal negotiated by the UUP in 1998," he said.

Mr Adams told a republican rally in Belfast that
republicans must be prepared for DUP politicians attempting
to sell the agreement as a victory for the DUP. Republicans
must be "more mature" than that.

"Bringing rejectionist unionism into the peace process
would be an enormous achievement," he said. "Our endeavour
is to make peace with Ian Paisley and those he represents
because we are avowedly anti-sectarian."

Mr Adams said he would brief a Sinn Féin ardchomhairle in
the "coming days".

© The Irish Times


A Lot Of Devils May Yet Be Lurking In Detail Of Agreement


So, was the outcome of the St Andrews negotiation really
"bigger than the Belfast Agreement"?

We may have a greater sense of the reality after hearing
from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in London later this
morning, but at this writing, the intriguing thing is that
neither the DUP nor the British government is seeking to
resile from that assessment.

An "astonishing breakthrough" was secretary of state Peter
Hain's verdict yesterday. "This time everybody will be
under the tent," senior British sources were quoted saying.
"If he [ Ian Paisley] is in government with Martin
McGuinness, then it is well and truly over."

Instructive also, perhaps, is that UK Unionist Party leader
Robert McCartney has little doubt this is a done-deal,
having voiced suspicions about a "pre-cooked" agreement
even as the parties prepared to travel to Scotland.

It will be fashionable for both governments and the media
to dismiss Mr McCartney, much as he and Dr Paisley were
disregarded in 1998 and it would seem to be hard, if not
impossible, to outflank Dr Paisley on the right. However
DUP election strategists will at least see potential
dangers in a combined challenge from survivors of the first
No campaign and an Ulster Unionist Party possibly
rejuvenated by the promised spectacle of Dr No finally
saying Yes.

Moreover, the DUP's MEP Jim Allister may be unable to halt
agreement now while thinking to position himself in
readiness to challenge Peter Robinson in any eventual
battle for the leadership succession.

Mr Allister and Mr McCartney may also be content for the
moment that the DUP has not formally committed and might
hear more than it would like in the forthcoming widespread
"consultation" with the party and wider unionist community.

They may also anticipate that some initial unionist
confusion will give way to hostility if it transpires that
Sinn Féin has a rather different take on the "St Andrews

This would seem likely because - as Mr Adams used
frequently to remind David Trimble - the peace process is
never "a one- way street" or about a "single-issue" agenda.

For the moment the DUP has got its spin in first, with Dr
Paisley signalling a readiness to share power while
publicly parading his policing terms hoping to ensure
republicans take the rap if the deal fails.

But is the wholesale recruitment of young republicans to
the PSNI promised, even on the tail of a public oath sworn
by Mr McGuinness to support the police and other criminal
justice institutions? Or will continuing alienation and
distrust - not to mention a lack of places - be cited by
Sinn Féin leaders as reason still for alternative forms of
"restorative justice" and community safety schemes?

Will republicans regard the promise to reduce employment
barriers and enhance the reintegration of former prisoners
as a prelude to scrapping "criminal" records, possibly even
opening the door of the PSNI, its reserve or ancillaries to
former activists?

Dr Paisley reportedly left Scotland with his pockets
"stuffed full" of side-bar letters. But what of the
Taoiseach's original side-bar letter to Mr Adams on Good
Friday 1998 about representational rights for Northern
Ireland MPs in the Dáil? A lot of devils then may yet be
lurking in the detail.

Maybe Sinn Féin has finally decided it has squeezed as much
as it can from the internal Northern process and realises
that a DUP victory over policing is the necessary price for
the now-higher priority of getting back into government
ahead of next year's Irish election.

© The Irish Times


Adams - Bringing Rejectionist Unionism Into The Peace Process Would Be An Enormous Achievement

Published: 15 October, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking at a
commemoration in Belfast to mark the 30th Anniversary for
IRA Volunteers Joey Surgeoner, Paul Marlowe and Francie
Fitzsimmons who were killed in an explosion in the gasworks
in October 1976. Mr. Adams said 'Bringing rejectionist
unionism into the peace process would be an enormous
achievement. Our endeavour is to make peace with Ian
Paisley and those he represents because we are avowedly
anti-sectarian. We are prepared to make peace. Our
watchword is equality. Equality includes those citizens
represented by the DUP.

"...I want to ask everyone here today, and republicans the
length and breadth of the country to be part of our efforts
to plot a way forward. That does not mean that we cannot
disagree with each other. Of course we can and we should
when appropriate and be secure in our right to dissent.

We are a democratic community of activists and all of us
must take ownership of this process.

So far no one has agreed to these proposals except the
British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach. Issues of this
importance, with such major implications, require careful
study. They need comradely debate and thorough discussion.

Our leadership will consult with our party membership and
the wider republican community to see if these proposals
contain the potential to resolve outstanding issues and
deliver the full implementation of the Good Friday

We need to do this calmly and with political maturity but
critically, if Sinn Fein is to respond positively to these
proposals they must have the potential to deliver equality,
accountable civic policing, human rights and the full
restoration of the institutions.

The party leadership will meet in the coming days to start
this process when I will brief the Ard Chomhairle.

And Sinn Féin will also continue to discuss these and other
related matters with the two governments. There is still
much work to be done."

Full text

Let me begin by commending all of those involved in
organising today's event. I also want to thank all of you
who came here today. We are very proud of our patriot dead
and commemorations like this allow us to honour their
memory, reflect on their lives and courage in struggle,
reminisce about our friends, and remember that each was a
son and a brother, a husband.

And so it is with IRA Volunteers Joey Surgenor, Francie
Fitzsimons and Paul Marlow.

I want to especially thank their families. Joey was a
single man. Francie was married with two children and Paul
was married with 3 children.

We owe you the families a huge debt of gratitude. We are
proud of you, as we are proud of your loved ones.

They were brave IRA Volunteers who like thousands of other
men and women took up arms to defend their families and
community, and to resist British oppression and injustice.

Their aim, like Tone and Emmet, Pearse and Connolly, was to
establish a new Ireland, a free Ireland, a United Ireland
in which orange and green can live together in peace and

Joey, Francie and Paul were deeply committed to this
struggle. All three had been in prison and had returned to
the struggle on their release. Paul and I spent some time
in Cage 6 in Long Kesh. He was in the bed next to me until
he got out. He was one of the good guys. So were his two
comrades. They were well known in their districts as
decent, honest young men.

They had no illusions about the strength of the enemy or
its determination to smash republicanism. All were seasoned
Volunteers who had been in the front line of battle.

7 months before their deaths the British government had
removed political status. The H Blocks were open for

The British policy of criminalisation was in full swing as
the Labour government of that time tried to convince the
people of the Short Strand, the Markets and the Lower
Ormeau that Joey, Francie and Paul and their comrades were
criminals. It was a propaganda battle the British could
never win.

The people of the Short Strand, the Markets and the Lower
Ormeau have endured much hardship at the hands of the
Unionist regime and the British military machine.

Sectarian attacks by loyalist death squads have taken its
toll. All Catholics were legitimate targets and up until
recently these neighbourhoods were burying loved ones
killed by sectarian death squads.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the killing of Sheena
Campbell. She was a young mother and a Sinn Féin activist.
I mention Sheena because tomorrow is her anniversary but I
am mindful of all those who have been killed.

The IRA in this part of our city also lost other volunteers
but despite this it remained strong and resolute. But the
IRA could not have existed without popular support.

That support saw ordinary families run enormous risks to
feed and clothe and shelter and protect IRA Volunteers.
Without doubt the republican people of these neighbourhoods
are unbowed and unbroken. But the IRA is not merely an army
of soldiers; it is an army of political activists.

In every successful liberation struggle there is a phase of
reconstruction, of securing peace with justice, of national
reconciliation, of nation building. This requires
negotiation and outreach. It demands patience and
generosity. To move from one phase of struggle is not only
a matter of political judgement and strategic or tactical
planning. It requires political courage.

The IRA cessation in 1994 demonstrated that courage. Army
men and women took decisions which provided a space in
which a peace process could be developed. Again and again
and again republicans have demonstrated commitment to that
peace process.

The decisions last year by the IRA to end its armed
campaign and to deal with the issue of weapons were truly
historic and represented a brave and confident initiative.
It was a momentous and defining point in the search for a
lasting peace with justice.

And it opened up the possibility of making significant
progress. It also presented a significant challenge to the
British and Irish governments and to the Unionists, as well
as to republicans.

And Sinn Féin has worked hard to seize the opportunities
created by the IRA. Today Irish republicanism is stronger
and there are more Irish republicans on this island than at
any time since partition. We have to continue to build
political strength as we advance our republican goals of
independence and freedom. But with political strength comes
a responsibility to deliver for the people we represent.
Our responsibility is also to see beyond our own support
base. And we take these responsibilities very seriously.

I know that many of you have been watching the events of
this week closely. I know that many of you are coe

So it is a big concession by republicans to share power
with the DUP.

Remember it's not so long ago that Ian Paisley was vowing
to smash Sinn Féin. He failed miserably in that enterprise.

Our endeavour is to make peace with him and those he
represents because we are avowedly anti-sectarian. We are
prepared to make peace. Our watchword is equality. Equality
includes those citizens represented by the DUP.

We are Irish republicans. We are first class citizens.
Those we represent are first class citizens and we will
have our rights and entitlements.

Last Friday the two governments set out their proposals.

I want to ask everyone here today, and republicans the
length and breadth of the country to be part of our efforts
to plot a way forward.

Let me remind everyone here that negotiations have been an
integral part of our struggle, of your struggle for some time.
What we achieve we achieve together as we move forward in a
united and cohesive way.

That does not mean that we cannot disagree with each other.
Of course we can and we should when appropriate and be
secure in our right to dissent.

We are a democratic community of activists and all of us
must take ownership of this process.

So far no one has agreed to these proposals except the
British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach.

Issues of this importance, with such major implications,
require careful study. They need comradely debate and
thorough discussion.

Our leadership will consult with our party membership and
the wider republican community to see if these proposals
contain the potential to resolve outstanding issues and
deliver the full implementation of the Good Friday

We need to do this calmly and with political maturity but
critically, if Sinn Fein is to respond positively to these
proposals they must have the potential to deliver equality,
accountable civic policing, human rights and the full
restoration of the institutions.

The party leadership will meet in the coming days to start
this process when I will brief the Ard Chomhairle.

And Sinn Féin will also continue to discuss these and other
related matters with the two governments.

There is still much work to be done.

Of course, the DUP will try to portray any movement by them
as a series of unionist victories. That is only to be
expected. If there is to be agreement by the DUP to the
governments proposals they will be sold by them in these
terms. And probably in language that many people will find

But we have to be more mature than that.

As Bobby Sands, said," Our victory will be the liberation
of all".

If there is any potential for victory in these proposals it
must be a victory not for one party over another, not for
one section of our people over another, it must be a
victory, as Bobby said for all.

So Irish republicans will, and must, judge these proposals
on whether they can move us nearer to the Ireland that we
have struggled so long to achieve.

The Irish government too has a particular responsibility.

If the peace process is going to advance, if the promise of
the Good Friday Agreement is to be realized then the Irish
government needs to look beyond its own narrow interests.

It needs to think in terms of the national interest -- that
is the interests of all the people of this island.

It needs to look at nationalists and unionists in the Six
Counties as fellow countrymen and women.

This will involve a major change in mindset by the
conservative parties in Leinster House.

It means no longer taking decisions that stop at Dundalk
but living up to the often used rhetoric of Irish
republicanism and talk of a United Ireland.

The Sinn Féin project is straightforward.

We are about ending domination, division, discrimination
and British rule in our country. We are about delivering a
better Ireland for all of our people.

We are about equality, justice, freedom and peace. We are
about a future for all the Irish people, nationalist and
unionist alike which puts the conflict and injustice of the
past behind us.

Standing here today I see many who have been involved in
this struggle for more years than we care to remember. I
also see many young people.

In the time ahead we need you to join with us in advancing
the republican goals.

But today is also a day for remembering Joey, Francie and
Paul, who along with hundreds of others gave their lives
that we might be free.

In their time the only way to demand our national rights
was through armed actions or support for armed actions.
That was an option not least because all other options were
brutally closed down by the British state in Ireland, by
the Orange state in which Ian Paisley was a critical

Joey, Francie and Paul responded to that. Now there are
other options. Now we are in a phase of transition from an
unacceptable form of society towards a national republic.

This will continue to challenge us. Have no doubt about

We are also mindful that we would not be where we are today
if it were not for the sacrifices of those we commemorate.
Their absence reminds us of how much we and particularly
their families have lost. Each one was a unique,
irreplaceable human being.

These were ordinary men and women who in extraordinary and
difficult circumstances found the inner strength,
determination and courage to stand against injustice and
oppression, to demand the rights and entitlements of the
Irish people.

Our task - our duty - is to make their vision their dream -
a reality.


DUP Claims MI5 Building Entrenches UK Presence

Frank Millar

The DUP believes the building of a new MI5 headquarters
outside Belfast, coupled with the "national security"
provisions of the St Andrews agreement, marks a further
entrenchment of the British state in Northern Ireland.

"This is a kick in the head for a united Ireland,"
suggested one senior DUP source last night, while
confirming his belief that the proposed nomination of a DUP
MP to Westminster's intelligence and security committee was
"one of the most important things" to emerge from the St
Andrews negotiations.

However, the SDLP poured scorn on the idea that membership
of the committee would give the DUP access to privileged
intelligence information or remove reliance on the
Independent Monitoring Commission for continuing
assessments of paramilitary activity in the North.

Yet senior party sources did not dispute DUP assertions
that the detailed Annex E of the St Andrews agreement
spelling out the future role of MI5 in the North would
prove "deeply uncomfortable" for Sinn Féin.

The paper unveiled by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and prime
minister Tony Blair on Friday afternoon outlined the
arrangements being put in place for the handling of
national security intelligence and the necessary
"accountability measures" that will be in place once "lead
responsibility" passes to the British Security Service
(MI5) late next year.

The change will bring Northern Ireland into line with the
rest of the UK "to provide a consistent and co-ordinated
response to the threat from terrorism, including from
international terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda".

Despite SDLP insistence to the contrary, British officials
say the change is a natural development from the Patten
Commission reforms of the police in Northern Ireland.

Friday's paper also describes it as being in preparation
for the eventual devolution of some policing and justice
powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

While many PSNI officers reportedly fear an inevitable
"mission creep" by the Security Service, Annex E says "new
integrated working arrangements - the first such approach
in the UK - will strengthen the PSNI's criminal
intelligence capability".

This is because "PSNI officers will be co-located with
Security Service personnel, and will work in a variety of
roles, including as intelligence analysts/advisers and for
the purpose of translating intelligence into executive

The paper goes on: "These arrangements are designed
precisely for the purpose of ensuring that intelligence is
shared and properly directed within the PSNI. Integration
of personnel in this way is an essential protection against
concerns that some intelligence would not be visible to the

The paper stresses that "there will be no diminution in
police accountability"; that the role of the Policing Board
and the Police Ombudsman vis a vis the police will not
change; and that police officers working with the Security
Service in whatever capacity "will remain accountable to
the chief constable and under the oversight of the Police

Under the arrangements "the great majority of national
security agents will be run by the PSNI, under the
strategic direction of MI5".

MI5 "will continue to run directly a small number of agents
who are authorised to obtain information in the interests
of national security, as distinct from countering

© The Irish Times


Ulster Power Talks End With A Plan - But No Handshake

By David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent

NORTHERN IRELAND’S politicians were presented last night
with a way back to power-sharing as Tony Blair and Bertie
Ahern published the St Andrews agreement.

After three days of talks there were still no handshakes,
smiles or even a meeting between the Rev Ian Paisley, head
of the Democratic Unionists, and Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein

But the St Andrews agreement, as the British and Irish
Governments billed it — or the Friday the 13th agreement,
as sceptical observers dubbed the event — would mean the
two politically polar extremes administering the Province
from March 26.

As politicians dashed for their flights home there was no
certainty of full implementation of the plan that is meant
to lead to culmination of the peace process and a stable
government for Northern Ireland after nearly 40 years of
unrest and violence.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, have given
the parties until November 10 to respond to their plan,
allowing time for legislation to be prepared ahead before
the governments’ November 24 deadline for agreement.

On that date, if the parties accept the plan, the Northern
Ireland Assembly will vote to elect a first minister and
deputy first minister, who will not exercise their powers.
It would mean that Mr Paisley, having been elected First
Minister as the leader of the largest party, would have to
instruct his party colleagues to vote for Martin
McGuinness, a former Provisional IRA chief, to become his

There would be a “validation” procedure in the form of
either an election or a referendum to allow the public
their say on the deal. If that response were positive, the
parties, including the DUP, Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionists and
the SDLP,would nominate their ministers for the Northern
Ireland Executive. It would “go live” on March 24.

Failure to agree to the plan by November 24, or a breakdown
in its implementation after that date, would automatically
result in the two governments falling back to their “plan
B”: new British-Irish “partnership arrangements” for direct

There was no mention in the Governments’ published plan of
a requirement that Sinn Fein fully endorses and supports
the Police Service of Northern Ireland, but Mr Blair said:
“You can’t have a democratic society unless the police are
given full support.” It was clear that the DUP expects Sinn
Fein to prove its acceptance of the police service by
holding a special party conference to endorse it before the
November 24 election.

Devolution of justice and policing powers to the revived
executive — which was suspended four years ago in the midst
of an alleged IRA spy-ring scandal — would probably not
take place until May 2008.

Mr Blair said: “I think we have a way forward.” He admitted
that it would be “a brave man” who would say that there
would be no attempt by hardliners on either side to unpick
the finely balanced package. Mr Ahern said that it was “a
fair and sustainable balance to try and ensure that by
March to have a working executive based on power sharing
and the rule of law”.

Mr Paisley, before departing to celebrate his 50th wedding
anniversary, gave no indication that he was preparing to go
into government with “IRA-Sinn Fein”, as he calls the

He said that “we remember the innocent victims of terrorist
violence” and added: “Unionism can have confidence that its
interests are being advanced and that democracy is winning
the day. The days of the gunmen in government are hopefully
over for ever.”

His key challenge to Sinn Fein was: “Everyone who aspires
to sit in positions of power in our province must, by both
word and deed, demonstrate their unequivocal support for
the laws of the land and those whose job it is to enforce

Mr Adams urged 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”.

In reply to Mr Paisley’s insistence that Sinn Fein
delivers, he said: “Republicans have delivered big time in
recent times. We have a moral responsibility to keep
delivering, but it’s a collective responsibility.”


This is the timetable set out yesterday by Tony Blair and
Bertie Ahern:

October 13 Agreement published. Parties go into
consultation and respond by November 10

October 17 Meetings to agree priorities for the new
executive begin. Parties represented at leadership level

November 20/21 Legislation at Westminster to give effect to
the St Andrews agreement

November 24 The assembly nominates the first minister

January Report by the Independent Monitoring Commission

March Endorsement of the St Andrews agreement by the

March 14 Members of the executive nominated by party

March 26 Power is devolved and d’Hondt [seat allocation]
run. The Governments said: “Failure to agree to establish
the executive will lead to immediate dissolution of the
Assembly, as will failure to agree at any stage”


Hain: St Andrews Agreement 'Better Than Good Friday'

Dan McGinn

THE St Andrews Agreement brokered in Scotland last week
could be more significant than the Good Friday Agreement,
Peter Hain, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland,
claimed yesterday.

As political parties in the province continued to study the
deal, Mr Hain described the breakthrough as "astonishing".

He also signalled that the government had an open mind on
one of the key remaining issues to be sorted out over the
next weeks - whether there will be a referendum or a fresh
assembly election to endorse the deal.

"I do think this is potentially more significant for the
reason that when the Good Friday Agreement was negotiated
in 1998 the Democratic Unionists were outside the tent and
Sinn Fein were only halfway in.

"We now have the potential for both parties to be fully
signed up to power-sharing and republicans to join with
other parties in signing up to policing and respect for the
rule of law.

"On Friday, a senior official who was deeply involved both
in the 1998 negotiations and in St Andrews told me he
believed it was more significant."

The Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein
and the other Northern Ireland parties have until 10
November to respond to the road map to devolution outlined
by Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, and the Irish Taoiseach,
Bertie Ahern on Friday.

If they agree to implement it, Mr Paisley and Sinn Fein's
Martin McGuinness will be appointed Northern Ireland's
first minister and deputy first minister on 24 November -
the deadline Mr Blair and Mr Ahern set for political

If Sinn Fein changes its policy on policing at a special
party conference and publicly endorses the Police Service
of Northern Ireland, the final stages of the St Andrews
Agreement will see power-sharing ministers nominated on 14
March and devolution 12 days later. However, if any party
defaults, the agreement will collapse and the assembly will
be wound up.

Mr Hain said: "It is important now that all the parties
have a chance to consult their members. They have all
signed up to the principles of the St Andrews Agreement but
they have to consult their parties, complete negotiations
on some of the outstanding issues and come back with a
response on 10 November.

"It is important people remember the deadline of 24
November remains in place. If this unravels, Stormont is

"I am optimistic that will not happen, and I also have no
doubt that one of the reasons that we had the agreement on
Friday was the existence of that deadline."

Mr Hain paid tribute to Mr Blair, saying he had witnessed
his dedication to resolving the remaining difficulties.

"His negotiating experience and his individual
relationships with the party leaders and their senior
delegations were critical," he observed.

On the issue of whether an election or referendum would be
held to endorse the deal next March, the minister said: "I
am relatively open-minded on this. What is important is
that the people have a right to speak."


Still Talking

Monday October 16, 2006
The Guardian

It is easy to see why last Friday's so-called St Andrews
agreement has been greeted with something less than dancing
in the streets of Northern Ireland. Too many false hopes
have been raised about prospects for inter-communal peace
and power-sharing to justify great confidence that this
time things will suddenly be different. Those who doubted
that the three days of talks in Fife would end with a deal
between the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin will have
felt vindicated when the best that even the eternally
optimistic Tony Blair could manage was to announce he
thought there was now "the basis for moving forward". Given
that so many of the issues involved in restarting effective
power-sharing still remain unresolved in some way after St
Andrews, and that the DUP's Ian Paisley has a matchless
ability to unearth new reasons why he should not cooperate
with Irish republicans, a large dose of scepticism is

Yet if St Andrews was merely the latest in the list of
failed attempts to remove blockages in the peace process,
there has been an unusual absence of blame-calling this
time. Mr Paisley's words on Friday were statesmanlike by
his own standards, acknowledging that democratic government
in Northern Ireland is at a crossroads. Gerry Adams even
accepted in his own comments that republicans may have been
part of the problem in the past. Both men sounded like
party leaders who are interested in making this work.
Significantly, the discordant sounds this time came from
the power-sharers of yesteryear, the SDLP and the Ulster
Unionists, who each fear being cut out of the process.
Yesterday the Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain - who
has an interest in accentuating the positive - even said
that the St Andrews agreement has the potential to be more
significant than the 1998 Good Friday accord.

The reality lies somewhere between the default-mode
cynicism that nothing will ever change and Mr Hain's over-
excitement about what has been achieved. St Andrews has
produced a blueprint for Northern Ireland's political
future, nothing more. The parties now have to decide
whether to implement it, which means tough decisions for
the DUP on power-sharing and for Sinn Féin on acknowledging
the rule of law. The timetable is demanding - green lights
are required on all sides by November 10, leading to
restored devolution by March 26 - and the issues are not
small. There is plenty of scope for ill-will to flare up
again too. But sceptics always get it wrong eventually and
Mr Hain may yet have the last laugh.


Taoiseach Confident DUP And SF Will Say Yes To Deal

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams watches as a republican
parade marches through the Markets area of Belfast city
centre yesterday to commemorate the 30th anniversary of
three republican killed in the area.

'I have never given up on the view that Ian Paisley was
prepared to bring his party into an inclusive executive'

Sinn Féin and the DUP will sign up to the proposals put
forward by the Irish and British governments in St Andrews
in Scotland last week, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has forecast.

Acknowledging that the talks produced proposals and not an
agreement, the Taoiseach said all of the North's parties
"had been through all of the elements of the agreement" and
had sight of all of "the minute details. We have made all
of the amendments that we could to satisfy as many as we
possibly could", he told RTÉ's This Week programme.

He said he hoped that Sinn Féin and the DUP would respond
positively. "They have to go through their own processes.
This is a big decision. They have to come back to us and
respond to us in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, there won't
be too many wrinkles in all of that," he said.

The DUP had to show during the three days of talks that it
was prepared to share power with Sinn Féin, he said.

"The answer to that is 'Yes'. They have made that clear if
all of this happens, as is listed out and as put forward in
this, they will go into a powersharing executive."

Sinn Féin, meanwhile, had faced questions about whether it
would join the Northern Ireland Policing Board, and support
the Police Service of Northern Ireland. "The answer to
that, again, is yes, but again the process has to roll in
the weeks ahead on that particular issue.

"We won't have to wait long to see if that is a reality
because effectively when the first minister and deputy
first minister are nominated on the 24th then the die is
cast. We will not be waiting long to see if the die is
cast." But he was more than hopeful that all parties would
agree. "We have an understanding that they will. That will
be truly, I think, be a historic day.

"Hopefully, we will not get into any difficulties. You can
never be a 1,000 per cent certain in any negotiation but if
that happens, then on the 24th of November the first major
step in this process will have taken place," he said.

The situation will have to be "managed carefully" up until
the November 24th deadline. "After that the process should
roll itself out in a very structured and ordered way," said
Mr Ahern.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahern said Sinn Féin should now be separated
from the IRA.

"I think first of all we should in fairness try to
distinguish between the two organisations. Sinn Féin is
doing their utmost as shown by the Independent Monitoring

The IRA's Northern Bank haul in December 2004 and elsewhere
is a matter for police forces to investigate and prosecute,
where possible: "It isn't part of these issues. I think
Sinn Féin is doing its utmost to move away from these

Asked if Sinn Féin had "any control" over this, Mr Ahern
said: "They haven't." He said part of the St Andrews
negotiations had centred on the effort to "move to a new
understanding that linking Sinn Féin to Sinn Féin/IRA would
be something that we could leave behind us because it is
not helpful to the process at this stage.

"Obviously, the governments through the arms of the state
will continue to seek the proceeds of any robberies of any
sort. There is no ceasing in that effort."

He said he had always believed from the collapse of the
December 2004 bid to relaunch the North's political
institutions that DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley was prepared to
enter power with Sinn Féin.

"I have never given up on the view that Ian Paisley was
prepared to bring his party into an inclusive executive
working the Good Friday agreement as amended by the

During the Scottish talks, he said Dr Paisley had assured
him that "he was up to make this process work. Right
throughout the negotiations we had close and harmonious

" Remember in 1998 he was outside the gates, literally.
This time we had everyone in there".

Congratulating Dr Paisley on his golden wedding
anniversary, he said: "I would wish the entire Paisley
family, Ian senior and Baroness Eileen every best wish on
their 50th anniversary. It was nice that we were all
together to wish them well on that," he said.

Responding to a question on an editorial in Friday's Irish
Times, Mr Ahern said he had "always been taught that the
public were right" in the judgments that they made about

He had, he said, been "on the wrong side of that many
times", but he added: "People have been very fair and very
kind. I think that people have been very fair. If I have
had one letter, I have had literally thousands and I will
endeavour to respond to all of them".

He said the Republic was a democracy with a free press, but
that it "was best" if all sides left the final decision on
the controversy about his personal finances to the voters.

He said the controversy had caused "a lot of upset to
people" close to him, but that he had offered his apologies
to all of them during recent days and weeks.

© The Irish Times


Will The St Andrews' Agreement Bring Lasting Peace To The North

(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

Do the St Andrews' talks make a lasting peace deal in the
North more likely? Absolutely and faster than most people
hoped. Ian Paisley is on course to be nominated First
Minister within six weeks with Martin McGuinness, the man
DUP supporters once called the 'butcher of the Bogside', as
his deputy. They're unlikely to pose for a joint picture on
Stormont's steps but it will still be a truly historic

It was on Friday 13th, of all days, that Northern Ireland's
fortunes improved. The first day of the talks was grim, the
second even worse. As usual with the North, progress wasn't
until the 11th hour. "The negotiations took place in the
Robert Louis Stevenson room. We were wondering if it would
be Shipwreck or Treasure Island, said Ian Paisley jnr.

What happens now? Could it all still not fall apart?

The parties have until November 10 to endorse or reject the
St Andrews' Agreement. The SDLP fears Paisley might try to
unpick the agreement; DUP sources insist he's genuine. A
deal isn't in the bag yet, but it's looking good.

Sinn Féin will move first. The leadership will shortly tell
the ard comhairle to organise a special ard fheis where it
will propose endorsing the PSNI. After the ard comhairle
move, Paisley and McGuinness will be nominated for office
on November 24.

The special ard fheis will be held soon afterwards. Paisley
and McGuinness will be ministers-designate with no power,
salary, or trappings of office. Sinn Féin had wanted the
Executive functioning fully before an ard fheis. Martin
McGuinness insisted on this as late as last Thursday. In
the end, Sinn Féin compromised.

The ard fheis will be emotional. There has been greater
grassroots' resistance on policing than on any other issue,
including decommissioning. But the leadership haven't lost
a vote since its 1986 victory on abstentionism from the

If the IMC gives the Provos a clean bill of health in its
January report, and the DUP and Sinn Féin are still on
board, "electoral endorsement" of the agreement will be
sought, probably on either March 1 or 8.

There is disagreement on whether this should be an election
or referendum. The governments reportedly favour a
referendum, which the DUP is against. If plebiscites are
held on both sides of the Border, this brings an all-
Ireland aspect to the agreement.

Whereas an election would be solely for Northern Ireland
and the DUP believes it could finally wipe out the Ulster
Unionists. An election could mean Sinn Féin gains at the
SDLP's expense. Yet sources say the Shinners aren't "too
hot" on going to the polls in March, preferring to focus
energies on the approaching Southern election.

It's inconceivable the DUP and Sinn would suffer election
defeat or that a referendum proposal they favoured would be
rejected. After the North speaks, the way is clear for the
remaining Executive ministers to be nominated on March 14
with the whole shebang going live 12 days later.

So who won and who lost at St Andrews?

Everybody's a winner, say the governments. In reality, Sinn
Féin made most concessions. The DUP looked genuinely
pleased as negotiations closed; despite Sinn Féin's
positive words, the body language was wrong. As well as
endorsing the PSNI, the party potentially must support MI5
and the British courts, which sits uneasily with

Sinn Féin has apparently dropped its demand that the DUP
agree a timetable for the devolution of policing and
justice powers to Stormont before an Executive is formed.
Neither has an amnesty been secured for on-the-run IRA
members. Although in practice, police might turn a blind
eye if they return home.

The DUP won a u-turn on the end of academic selection for
11-year-olds, Martin McGuinness's proudest achievement as
Education Minister.

The DUP says it has ensured North-South bodies are now
fully accountable to the Stormont Executive – the SDLP says
they always were. The DUP boasts it has increased
ministerial accountability; nationalists fear grid-locked

"If there was a global flu pandemic and emergency advice
was to close the airports, the relevant minister couldn't
do so until after an executive meeting which could be days
away. It's that ludicrous," says an SDLP source.

The DUP's big compromise is entering government with its
sworn enemy. Despite the ceasefire and decommissioning, the
25 year IRA campaign means many ordinary Protestants find
this hard to swallow, as Paisley is well aware. It's no
coincidence victims' suffering featured prominently in his
St Andrews' speech.

So will Paisley face problems with unionist grassroots?

His advantage is they trust him. David Trimble was viewed
as a man easily swayed by the flattery of prime ministers
and presidents. Paisley is seen as putting his people
before power. There's no credible rival party: the UUP is
on its last legs. UK Unionist leader, Bob McCartney,
opposes the agreement "as it stands" and accuses the DUP of
abandoning election pledges. While clever and articulate,
he lacks the strong base from which to successfully tackle

The call of Willie Frazer, director of IRA victims' group
FAIR, could be important. Frazer brought his caravan to St
Andrews to keep an eye on the talks: "A lot of people
aren't happy with the agreement but, at the minute, I'm
giving it the benefit of the doubt. The Doc has given me
his word on things."

Will the republican base buy the deal?

Selling the Belfast Agreement was easier because Paisley
opposed it. In the North's sectarian world, what the DUP
hates is automatically welcomed by nationalists, and vice-
versa. But most militants have departed Provo ranks. The
movement Adams must sell this deal to is very different to
the one which existed in 1998, let alone 1994.

Ex-IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre, who opposes the
agreement, says: "If the DUP is getting into bed with Sinn
Féin, it's to screw them." McIntyre predicts the leadership
will sell the agreement as a republican road map: "They'll
soon be telling us that Ian Paisley and Hugh Orde will lead
us to a united Ireland."

McIntyre's views are shared by some other IRA veterans, but
such people are a minority of the Catholic community. Most
nationalists don't adhere to republican orthodoxy, and they
will be prepared to endorse this agreement.

October 16, 2006

This is a corrected version of an article that appeared on
the Tribune's web site and the Newshound yesterday (Oct


Opin: Tony Blair, Ireland's Saviour

Tim Hames

Thanks to the Prime Minister, after centuries of bloodshed,
all their Troubles will soon be over

THIS WEEK’S New Scientist contains a compelling if slightly
humiliating review of what the world would be like if the
whole of humanity were “transported to a re-education camp
in a far-off galaxy”. Not only would the Earth be “a safer
place for biodiversity”, but before long our absence would
scarcely be noticed. “All things considered, it will take
only a few tens of thousands of years before almost every
trace of our present dominance has vanished completely.
Alien visitors 100,000 years hence will find no obvious
sign that an advanced civilisation ever lived here.” After
that, doing the gardening seems scarcely worth the effort.

Politicians, on the other hand, are obsessed by the fear
that no one will notice that they were ever there a few
years after their departure. Sometimes their concern is
understandable. I suspect that if Sir John Major is
remembered in 30 years’ time it will be as an answer in a
pub quiz to the question: “Who was the Prime Minister
between Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair?”

Yet his was the third longest continuous tenure in Downing
Street since the First World War. Harold Wilson, who spent
more time in No 10 than Sir John, though in two spells, is
unknown to most people under the age of 30. Fate can be
unforgiving to the most prominent of politicians. So much
for their quest for a legacy.

Mr Blair is on the brink of finding his quest is not quite
what he expected. It will not be the euro, the
transformation of the public services or even the 2012
Olympics. Nor, mercifully, will history recall him as a man
who won three general elections and took his country into
at least that many conflicts. No, his bequest will be to

To some, that might seem a modest return for almost a
decade in office. I think this understates the achievement.
The British have had an Irish problem — or, more
accurately, the Irish have had a British problem — for more
than eight centuries. It has been a running sore from the
moment in 1170 when the Earl of Pembroke and an exiled
self-styled King of Leinster landed at a rocky headland
called Baginbun, near Waterford, at the head of an
expeditionary force that beat off advancing Irish warriors
by driving a herd of cattle at them.

A deal that would ensure peace and justice has defied kings
and statesmen ever since. Yet now, in the aftermath of the
St Andrews deliberations, that noble aspiration has almost
been secured.

What, it is reasonable to ask after so long, is different
this time? Could the Rev Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness
become the most improbable of political partners?

There are three reasons why the “impossible bargain” really
can be reached.

The first is that these negotiations have been between the
only two parties that matter. In retrospect, all of David
Trimble’s heroic efforts were doomed to fail. At best, the
most that he could muster was 55 to 60 per cent of the
Unionist community. Any understanding with Sinn Fein that
was opposed by Mr Paisley and his Democratic Unionists was
too feeble a creature to survive miscalculations, mistakes
or misfortunes.

Furthermore, until it had to do business with the DUP,
there was never the incentive needed for the IRA to
decommission its arsenal and then its organisation. Much as
an Israel-Palestinian accord would be incredible if it did
not have the blessing of Ariel Sharon, no peace process in
Ulster could prosper without the imprimatur of Mr Paisley.
If he reaches an accommodation with the republican
movement, it will stick.

Secondly, the core area of disagreement between the DUP and
Sinn Fein has been eliminated. It was not many months ago
that the DUP leadership was claiming, in much the same
spirit as those who insist that the Moon landings were
faked, that the IRA had not placed its arms beyond use and
was behaving much as it had always done.

After the unimpeachable report by the Independent
Monitoring Commission on the IRA, Mr Paisley and his
supporters have little alternative but to take yes for an
answer. Gerry Adams declared on Friday that republicans had
delivered on their commitments “big time” of late and he is
right. The last demand of the DUP is that Sinn Fein
embraces the Police Service of Northern Ireland. This will
not be impossible for it.

Finally, there is no more advantage for either side in
playing for time. All that more prevarication will do is
entrench a form of direct rule in which Dublin can exercise
a special influence. Decisions on domestic politics will be
taken by ministers of the Crown in consultation with their
Irish counterparts. Delay would also mean waiting for a
successor to Mr Blair to settle in and possibly a
replacement for Bertie Ahern, his Irish counterpart, as

That does not suit either the DUP or Sinn Fein. It is no
coincidence that the serious haggling in Scotland last week
was not about policing, but grammar schools, the rateable
value of property, water charges and the status of the
Irish language. The DUP and Sinn Fein are already preparing
themselves for coalition politics in a Stormont Assembly
and its Executive. At some point in the first half of 2007
those institutions will return as stable entities.

And that would not have been possible without the Prime
Minister. It has taken his personal commitment and the
constitutional changes he pioneered in the rest of the
United Kingdom to make the notion of devolution in Northern
Ireland appear to be the natural norm, not the eccentric
exception that it once would have been.

It is a challenge that has obliged Mr Blair to turn from
the “big picture” at which he excels to the small brushwork
required to convince those involved in Europe’s longest
political dispute to compromise with each other. They are
almost there and he could have no more worthwhile legacy.


'I Do' But No 'Hello!' At Flatley Wedding

Olivia Kelleher


Newlyweds Michael Flatley and Niamh O'Brien's honeymoon
destination remained top secret yesterday. However the pair
look set to only take a short holiday before returning to
the rehearsal grindstone as another tour of Celtic Tiger
kicks off next month.

Both the groom and the bride arrived fashionably late for
their nuptials at St Patrick's Church in Fermoy, Co Cork,
on Saturday, with the 2pm ceremony getting under way 50
minutes late.

O'Brien's ivory-beaded gown with a vintage lace veil -
rumoured to have cost in the region of €100,000 - was the
creation of US designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka,
who count Catherine Zeta Jones and Elizabeth Hurley among
their clients.

The bride was chauffeur-driven to the church from
Castlehyde estate in her husband-to-be's new Rolls Royce
Phantom. Niamh's six bridesmaids, who wore long navy gowns,
included her sisters Aoibheann and Derval and four close
friends. Flatley's brother Patrick was his best man while
Matt Molloy of the Chieftains acted as groomsman.

A clearly delighted Patrick Flatley said he was always
confident that his brother would one day give up his status
as one of the most eligible bachelors in the world. The
best man also joked about enjoying the media scrum, saying
he wasn't used to getting much in the way of attention.

Hundreds of wellwishers gathered outside the church to
greet the couple on their arrival. One local woman, who
declined to be named, said she wasn't surprised when the
couple turned down offers from Hello! to have their wedding
pictures in the magazine as they wouldn't have wanted
"barricades and barriers" around the church.

Sheila Hussey (75) said she met Michael Flatley at a civic
reception in Fermoy a couple of years ago and was impressed
by his warmth and sincerity.

"He was a total gentleman. He gave me a kiss and
everything. He is the most down to earth man I have ever
met. Everyone loves him in Fermoy."

Guests at the wedding included former taoiseach Albert
Reynolds and his wife, Kathleen, racing tycoon JP McManus,
UTV presenter Gerry Kelly, promoter Peter Aiken and
Minister for Health Mary Harney. Ms Harney said she had
known Flatley for many years and was proud of the manner in
which he modernised Irish dancing.

Flatley's parents, Michael snr and Elizabeth, travelled
from Chicago with Michael's sisters, Thomasina and Annie,
and his brother, Patrick, for the big day. Liz, Michael's
other sister, came from Los Angeles.

Niamh was given away by her father, Thomas, a retired
schoolteacher. The Co Meath-born bride's mother, Monica,
admitted to feeling emotional after the wedding ceremony.
"I feel ecstatic. I am so happy. They [Niamh and Michael]
were so relaxed. It was very emotional. I thought I was
going to cry at one stage. Niamh is a very special girl."

The ceremony featured a musical score devised by composer
Ronan Hardiman. It was also a day to remember for UCC music
student Sarah Barry (20), who so impressed Flatley at a
recent first World War memorial that he asked her to sing a
hymn at his wedding.

The wedding was celebrated by Ardoyne peace campaigner Fr
Aidan Troy, who said the celebrity pair were a normal
couple who just wanted a simple, traditional Mass.

The Chieftains were the keynote musicians at the reception
in Flatley's Castlehyde estate in Fermoy.

Catering for the event was handled by Limerick firm
MasterChefs while wines were imported from the US for the
day. The menu included a "seafood fantasy" and a pit-
roasted whole boar and beef. The traditional end-of-the-
night snack was fish and chips.

Flatley has always maintained Fermoy is his dream home. His
publicist, Geraldine Roche, said Michael and Niamh were
thrilled so many local people had gone out of their way to
wish them well for their big day.

As a mark of gratitude, one tier of the wedding cake was
reserved for the patients at St Patrick's hospital in
Fermoy. The couple also requested that wedding guests
donate to local charities in lieu of presents.

© The Irish Times


Minister Opens Kerry Woods To Public

Anne Lucey

An undisturbed wood in Co Kerry associated with a Civil War
massacre and which narrowly escaped felling only 10 years
ago was officially opened yesterday as a major amenity.

The 80 acres of broadleaf woodland at Ballyseedy, on the
edge of Tralee, was the scene of a massacre of Republican
prisoners by Free State troops in March 1923.

Part of the original forest of Co Kerry, it was destined
for felling in the early 1990s when advertised for sale by

Plans to drive a dual-carriageway through it in 1997 were
shelved only when the EU pulled funding following a
campaign by environmentalists attached to the Ballyseedy
Wood Action Group, some of whose members were present at
the opening this weekend.

Now owned by Kerry County Council, 4.5 kms of paths have
been developed through the groves of oak, yew, hazel and
hornbeam. With large tracts of alder and ash and grey
willow, the site on the flood plain of the river Lee is one
of the largest examples of wet woodland in the southwest,
and one of the few remaining woodlands in north Kerry.

It also hosts kingfishers, otters and is a nesting place
for the long-eared owl.

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue, who
officially opened the woods, said the name Ballyseedy
resonated because of its attachment to one of the darkest
and most difficult periods in Irish history, but it was now
a beacon of hope.

© The Irish Times

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