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October 27, 2006

Paisley: Too Good a Package to Turn Down

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 10/27/06 Too Good A Package To Turn Down
BN 10/27/06 Paisley Looks For St Andrews Verdict
BT 10/27/06 McCrea Warns On Deal Over Policing
SF 10/27/06 Peace Dividend Must Support All-Ireland Economic Blueprint
BT 10/27/06 DUP Says No To Expanded All-Island Economic Links
BT 10/27/06 Hain's Stand On Area Policing Sparks Row
BB 10/26/06 Dissidents 'Preparing To Attack'
IN 10/27/06 Sinn Fein ‘Doing Nothing’ To Help McCartney Family
BB 10/27/06 Expert's Omagh Evidence Admission
BT 10/27/06 Bloody Sunday Families Welcome Time Frame
BT 10/27/06 Opin: Our Politicians Must Stay The Course
BT 10/27/06 Opin: Prosperity Sounds Death Knell For Border Crime
BB 10/27/06 NI's MPs Claim £2M In Allowances
BT 10/27/06 Irish Twist To Life Of Shirley Valentine


Too Good A Package To Turn Down

Paisley admits Agreement is not perfect ... but is backing
it anyway

By Noel McAdam
27 October 2006

Ian Paisley has been out on the stump this week - inside
his own party. The Big Man is back on the road, from his
stomping ground of north Antrim and stretching over the
next few days into south Armagh and Fermanagh, attending
gatherings of the party faithful.

Last night it was Lurgan.

Ostensibly, he has gone not to lecture, but to listen as
the party undertakes its detailed consultations on the St
Andrews Agreement.

But in grand hotels from greater Belfast to lesser Lagan
Valley, there is no doubt the DUP leader has been selling
the St Andrews concept.

His message is: it may not be perfect and we are still
working on that, but overall, on balance, this is too good
a package to spurn.

The Governments regard Mr Paisley as the best guarantor for
unionism. If he is prepared to accept the deal, the vast
majority of unionists will do likewise.

But the party's consultation document, released today,
argues the party can buy into the British and Irish
Governments' St Andrews blueprint, but still ultimately
refuse to go into a power-sharing Executive alongside Sinn
Fein next spring.

That final decision will depend on "delivery" by
republicans - and the prevailing circumstances at the time.

Some in Government believe that is closer to the DUP's
strategy - to continually delay and frustrate the process,
and use the timetabled dates as pressure points for further

The DUP has never been a party entirely free of internal
tensions, but divisions between what has been called its
"fundamentalists" and a more pragmatic, modernising
tendency have always been held in check by a dominating

Some have long argued it is a party relatively
inexperienced in the white heat of negotiations, steeped in
decades of opposition rather than the responsibilities of
Government, but the DUP is also a party not well used to
internal dissent.

While there have been dissenting voices in meetings at La
Mon House near Comber and Galgorm Castle near Ballymena, it
appears there have been no major rows - and no walk-outs.
Indeed, who could dare to walk out on Mr Paisley?

Others are understood to have raised issues including
details of how the handover of the IRA's "ill-gotten gains"
might be achieved, the Royal Irish Regiment and claims over
the end of the controversial PSNI 50-50 recruitment.

And, it is believed, Mr Paisley has been asked about his
famous "Never! Never! Never! Never!" speech at the City
Hall at the time of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985,
particularly when today's document warns that rejecting St
Andrews will mean a greater say for the Republic's
Government in the affairs of Northern Ireland.

A party member at one of the meetings said: "There were
dissenting voices.

"It was not an uneventful meeting."

He said one councillor had quoted Mr Paisley's "Never!
Never! Never! Never!" back to him and, according to the
source, added: "You promised us that you wouldn't get into
Government with Sinn Fein and now you are."

And yet, the most senior party figure to so far raise
serious misgivings about the St Andrews' package, MEP Jim
Allister, has not been present at the La Mon or Galgorm,
busy instead with business in Strasbourg.

He is increasingly being seen as the most likely figure
around who any firm opposition within the party is likely
to coalesce.

Uncharacteristically the party leadership is saying Yes -
but it could still have to say No.


Paisley Looks For St Andrews Verdict

27/10/2006 - 10:21:18

Democratic Unionist leader the Reverend Ian Paisley will
today make a direct appeal to his supporters to give his
party their verdict on the St Andrews agreement.

As the DUP continued to weigh up its response to Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern's and Tony Blair's package of proposals to
restore power-sharing in the North by next March, the party
has published a four-page paper on the St Andrews deal.

The DUP document is being circulated in copies of today’s
Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Paisley will argue in the document that unionists must
weigh up the advances made during the three day St Andrews
talks in Scotland against what would happen if they reject
the deal by Mr Blair and Mr Ahern's deadline of November

However the party document will also insist that the DUP
needs progress on a number of issues before devolution can
be restored.

These include securing a mechanism in the Assembly to
ensure parties who break their ministerial obligations are
punished without the entire power-sharing government being
affected, further progress on the issue of parades,
arrangements to move away eventually from the mandatory
four-party executive at Stormont, fairness and equality
measures for unionists, more details on a financial package
to bolster a new power-sharing government and further
clarification on the impact of St Andrews agreement’s
pledge to introduce an Irish Language Act and remove
barriers to employment for ex-paramilitary prisoners.

The DUP has engaged in a series of internal consultative
meetings in East Belfast, South Antrim and North Antrim.

There have been suggestions that Mr Paisley and the DUP
leadership have been urging the grass roots to back the

However reservations have been expressed by some members
including the party’s MEP Jim Allister.

It is anticipated today’s DUP document will contrast the St
Andrews agreement with the Good Friday Agreement, claiming
it represents an advance for unionism.

Sinn Féin has also embarked on an internal consultation
headed up by the party’s chairperson Mary Lou McDonald, MP
Conor Murphy and TD Martin Ferris.

Republicans are being urged to sign up to policing in the
North and give their wholehearted support to the rule of
law and part of the St Andrews deal.

The DUP is insistent that it cannot contemplate going into
government with Sinn Féin without Gerry Adams’ party being
prepared to recognise the Police Service of Northern
Ireland as the legitimate force of law and order.

If the North's politicians say yes to the St Andrews
Agreement they will set in train a series of moves which
could see Sinn Féin call a special party conference to
change its policing policy, the election of Mr Paisley and
Martin McGuinness as Stormont’ s First and Deputy Ministers
on November 24 and power-sharing by March 26 of next year.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain will also have to
decide if the parties accept the deal whether it will be
endorsed by a referendum next March or through a fresh
Assembly election.


McCrea Warns On Deal Over Policing

By Chris Thornton
26 October 2006

The DUP will not comply with a key provision in the St
Andrews Agreement for bringing policing and justice powers
to Stormont in two years, one of the party's MPs said

The Rev William McCrea said the devolution of justice
powers - a central Sinn Fein demand for republican support
to policing - could only be agreed "a long time down the

The South Antrim MP said there should be "a clear
understanding" that there would not be enough support for
the move among unionists to agree the transfer by 2008, the
date set out in the Agreement.

"If you think or anyone thinks that we are going to allow
that to happen, they've another thing coming," he said.

Mr McCrea spoke out on the issue after attending a DUP
consultation meeting in Ballymena on Tuesday night. While
he noted that the DUP has not concluded its consultation
process, his views would reflect scepticism about St
Andrews in some sections of the party.

He described the party's position on the St Andrews
document as "a work in progress". The Government wants
replies from the parties by November 10.

But the MP was definitive about the timing of justice
devolution - adding that Sinn Fein have to "actively
engage" on policing by providing information to police
about cases like the killing of Robert McCartney.

Sinn Fein has linked their potential support for policing
to the transfer of policing and justice powers to the
Assembly, saying they want a clear timetable and
legislation in place before they call an ard fheis to vote
on the issue.

In the St Andrews Agreement, the British and Irish
governments set out that timetable. The document says: "It
is our view that implementation of the agreement published
today should be sufficient to build the community
confidence necessary for the Assembly to request the
devolution of criminal justice and policing from the
British Government by May 2008."

But unionists are concerned that the process could see a
former IRA member installed as Minister of Justice at

Mr McCrea said the transfer could not happen without the
agreement of a DUP First Minister.

"The Government hasn't put 2008," he said. "The Shinners
might try to tell that to their folks.

"As far as it's concerned, it is to be considered in 2008,
but there clearly must be confidence and if there's an
Assembly it will have to come with the recommendation of
the First Minister. If you think or anyone thinks that we
are going to allow that to happen, they've another thing

He added: "There's got to be clear understanding as far as
policing and justice is concerned that in the legislation
there has to be confidence in the community for that ever
to be devolved to Northern Ireland and that certainly will
be a long time down the line."

Mr McCrea also said Sinn Fein's support for policing has to
be "very clear".

"That's not just joining the Policing Board, that's
actively engaging, actively giving information," he said.

"I think one of the tests cases will probably be the
McCartney case in giving the evidence, because they have
the evidence of those who were responsible for the cleaning
up of the evidence in that case.

"They've got to support the Police Service of Northern
Ireland, recognising Northern Ireland as part of the United
Kingdom and supporting in the Police Service former members
of the RUC. That's what democrats do."


Peace Dividend Must Support All-Ireland Economic Blueprint

Published: 26 October, 2006

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin has
welcomed the publication of an all-Ireland Economic
Blueprint by the British and Irish governments but added
that it must be supported by a substantial financial

Mr McLaughlin said:

"Sinn Féin have consistently argued the only way to address
the structural weakness in the Six County Economy and
particularly the imbalanced economic development affecting
the border region and North West is through the development
of an all-Ireland economic vision.

"The publication of this all-Ireland Economic Blueprint
highlights the commitment of both the British and Irish
governments to move forward in this direction in a way that
will benefit all the people of Ireland. This announcement
comes after years of lobbying by Sinn Féin.

"Last week I met with the Irish Finance Minister Brian
Cowen and on November 1st all of the parties will be
meeting with the British Chancellor Gordon Brown, it is
essential that we work together to maximise the Peace
Dividend that can underpin the work of a future Executive.

"This blueprint must be supported by a substantial
financial commitment from both governments. Sinn Féin have
argued that a £10 billion 10 year Peace Dividend to support
the creation of 140,000 jobs and major investment in
infrastructure is required.

"I particularly endorse the commitment to increased R & D
expenditure, especially to support indigenous business and
a focus on SMEs. The commitment to more balanced regional
development, and to addressing the impact of the border
through an all-Ireland approach to infrastructure
investment is also very welcome. Sinn Féin believe that an
integrated approach to the delivery of all public services
is the best way to ensure equal access to quality services,
whether it is in health, education or training." ENDS

Note to Editors

Sinn Féin spokesperson on economic issues Mitchel
McLaughlin will be available to speak to the media at
12.30pm today in the foyer in Stormont to react to the
announcement by the Dermot Ahern of a multi million euro
investment package in all-Ireland infrastructural projects.


DUP Says No To Expanded All-Island Economic Links

By Gene McKenna
27 October 2006

The Democratic Unionists will reject any move to push the
North into an all-Ireland economy, a senior member of the
party's negotiating team warned last night.

Following the release of proposals to enhance cross-border
economic activity from the Irish and British governments,
East Derry MP Gregory Campbell insisted his party was only
interested in practical co-operation with the Republic.

His comments came after Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg
Empey claimed the new plan for the North and Republic
economies had the potential to poison relations between the

Mr Campbell said: "The DUP believe in co-operation between
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that is to the
benefit or our province.

"It must be practically, not politically, motivated.

"What we in the DUP will be saying to Dublin is that if
your understanding of this arrangement is that this money
is designed to build up an all-Ireland economy, we're not
going there."

The plan could result in more than ?1bn being spent on
infrastructural projects in the next decade.

The two governments yesterday jointly launched a new study
on areas where both parts of the island could work together
for the common good.

The document was published as the Northern parties prepare
for a combined approach to British Chancellor Gordon Brown
next Wednesday on a financial package to aid economic
development north of the border.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said there was a
strong economic imperative driving North-South co-

The Government here has not put a figure on its
contribution, as this will come in the National Development
Plan to be published in mid-January..

But the northwest route from Dublin to Letterkenny is
likely to be one of the major cross-border road projects on
the agenda.

The North-South document sets out the rationale for
"beneficial all-island economic activity".

It focuses on increasing co-operation in infrastructure,
science, technology and innovation, trade and investment
promotion, labour market and skills and enterprise and
business development.

The key theme is that co-ordinated policies can and will
deliver benefits to citizens and businesses North and

Work will commence on the development of a detailed
programme in each of the areas identified, as well as in
seeking further opportunities for co-operation in the
education and health sectors.

Mr Ahern said that the study was an important one, adding:
"To be globally competitive, we must exploit the
opportunities of all-island collaboration. To make the
knowledge economy a reality in Ireland, north and south.

Northern Secretary Peter Hain said the study set out "a
compelling vision of a strong, competitive and socially
inclusive island economyThe report came on the same day as
a major economic conference in Dundalk, Co Louth, one of
the towns likely to benefit most from cross-border
developments. Pat McArdle, chief economist at Ulster Bank,
said that cross-border trade had traditionally been low but
that the announcement for a blueprint on an all-island
economy should bring real advantages.


Hain's Stand On Area Policing Sparks Row

By Jonathan McCambridge
27 October 2006

Secretary of State Peter Hain was today at the centre of a
religious policing row after he appeared to agree with a
statement that Catholic officers in Northern Ireland could
be exempted from duty in Protestant areas.

During a broadcast of 'Any Questions' on Radio Four Mr Hain
also said it was a "regular feature" of policing in
Northern Ireland that Catholic officers could be removed
from situations where they were considered to be at risk.

The Northern Ireland Office today attempted to dispel any
confusion and insisted that Mr Hain was not suggesting that
police officers could be removed from duties simply because
of their religious background.

The discussion occurred on a recent broadcast of the
popular BBC political panel show which is hosted by
Jonathan Dimbleby during a debate about a Muslim police
officer who had been excused from duty guarding the Israeli
embassy in London.

During the programme the host asked Liberal Democrat MP
Julia Goldsworthy if police officers should be allowed to
choose which jobs they want to do.

She replied that there were occasions in Northern Ireland
where Catholic police officers could be exempt from duties
in Protestant areas because of fears for their safety.

Some minutes later Mr Hain was asked the same question and
said "any police officer who might be put in a risk
situation, as Julia quite rightly said, is regularly a
measure in Northern Ireland, would be removed from that

Host Jonathan Dimbleby asked the Secretary of State if a
Catholic PSNI officer would be told "you don't have to
police at this particular event, this particular occasion?"

The Secretary of State replied: "That has been a regular
feature of policing in Northern Ireland."

During a recent interview with the Belfast Telegraph
Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris was asked if there
were any circumstances in which an officer could ask to be
removed from a particular duty because of their religious

He said: "No, that has not happened to my knowledge. I have
23 years of police service and I have never seen that or
even remotely heard it mooted.

"We take an affirmation to serve in a public office and
that brings responsibility. You are a public servant and
that is for the whole public."

However, there may be circumstances where risk assessments
are carried out on officers, particularly those who have
concerns about serving in their local area.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman today insisted the
Secretary of State was not suggesting that officers could
be removed from particular duties simply because of

He said: "The Secretary of State's comments during this
debate relate to the safety of police officers and their
families. Where there is information that an officer or the
family is at risk, that risk is assessed and if necessary,
action taken to remove the officer from that particular

"Police officers serve all of the community and there is no
question of a police officer being removed from a policing
situation in Northern Ireland solely because of their

But DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: "An incorrect comment was
made on this programme about Catholic police officers being
exempted from Protestant areas.

"Mr Hain then agreed with it. At best he has been
ambiguous, at worst he has given the impression he does not
know what he is talking about."


Dissidents 'Preparing To Attack'

By Vincent Kearney
Home affairs correspondent, BBC Northern Ireland

The police and government fear republican dissidents are
preparing to launch a major gun or bomb attack in a bid to
derail political talks aimed at restoring devolution in
Northern Ireland.

Warnings about the threat from dissident republicans are
nothing new. They seem to accompany every significant
political development.

But the police concern about a possible attack during the
next few weeks is not simply a routine, precautionary

It is the result of intelligence gathered over a period of
time, which suggests there is a clear intent to launch

Police are acting on the intelligence. Officers in areas
identified as high risk targets have been told to be extra
vigilant, and additional resources have been deployed to a
number of areas across Northern Ireland.

A number of individuals have also been warned that they
could be under threat.

Successive reports by the Independent Monitoring Commission
have said that both the Real and Continuity IRA are
recruiting members, trying to acquire weapons and
identifying possible targets, including police officers and
loyalist paramilitaries.

There has been clear evidence of escalating activity.

Earlier this year, the police intercepted a 250lb bomb in
Lurgan, and also foiled a plot to import a large quantity
of weapons, which included machine guns and ground to air

In recent months, there has been a series of firebomb
attacks on commercial targets, a number of so-called
punishment attacks and death threats have been issued.

Clearly, the dissidents have been striving to demonstrate
that they have not gone away.

There is now a very real concern that they will attempt to
step up their activity by launching a more significant
attack, possibly a bomb attack on a town centre, or a

The dissidents would hope that such an attack would
destabilise the delicate political talks, and also enhance
their own credibility.

At a time when Sinn Fein and the IRA are facing a highly
divisive debate over their attitude to policing, the
dissident groups hope to attract disgruntled IRA members,
something they have not managed to do in significant
numbers to date.

But at the moment, the security assessment is that they do
not have the capability to mount a sustained terrorist

So what is their capability?

In terms of numbers, it is impossible to be exact, but what
is clear is that both the Real and Continuity IRA are much
smaller than the Provisional IRA during the Troubles.

They are also much less clearly defined and structured.

There are also said to be divisions within their own ranks,
with groups in various parts of Northern Ireland operating
independently, and at times in competition with each other,
rather than functioning under a central command structure.

The fact that they are much smaller and less cohesive than
the Provisional IRA helps the police and security services.

When the Provisional IRA was fully active, the police had a
limited amount of resources and could not focus on them all
the time - whereas the dissidents are much smaller, so
police can focus on them with much fewer resources.

Alternative strategy

So far this year, police have arrested 19 people and 14 of
them have been charged in connection with dissident
republican activity.

But, as one well-placed security source put it, the
dissidents only have to "get lucky once".

One successful major bomb or gun attack could have a
disproportionately damaging impact on the political

And it could boost the dissident group responsible by
enhancing their credibility with republicans looking for an
alternative to the Sinn Fein strategy.

"The numbers aren't what is important, the important factor
is their intent, and the intent is high," says one source.

"All of the intelligence indicates that there is a clear
intention to carry out further attacks."

Whether or not a successful attack would have a serious
long term impact on the political process is debatable.

But the police, and government, hope that question will not

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/26 16:30:42 GMT


Sinn Fein ‘Doing Nothing’ To Help McCartney Family

By Dan McGinn PA and William Graham

THE family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney
yesterday said Sinn Fein had not offered to meet them in
the past year.

Following a meeting with Conservative leader David Cameron
in Belfast, Mr McCartney’s sister Catherine said Sinn
Fein’s handling of her family’s campaign for

justice was important now that the party was close to
endorsing policing in Northern Ireland.

She also confirmed there had been no advance in the
family’s campaign, with people who were inside the Belfast
city centre bar at the time of her brother’s fatal stabbing
still reluctant to go to the police.

“We have been saying for some time if Sinn Fein are serious
about peace, then they would encourage witnesses to come
forward to the police because you cannot have peace without
justice,” she said.

“Following recent political developments, we are obviously
in a new situation where Sinn Fein could join the Policing

“I cannot see how a party could join the Policing Board
without helping to remove the obstacles to justice in a
murder case by encouraging their members to pass on
relevant information to the police.

“Now that the heat has been off them, Sinn Fein has not
contacted us over the past year. That is a measure of how
they have done nothing to convince us or reassure us in
recent times.

“It may be arrogance or it may be that they are in a state
of denial.”

Ms McCartney said the family were willing to meet Sinn Fein
but it would have to be “genuine and... productive”.

It is understood Mr Camer-on will raise the murder with
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in a meeting due to take
place soon and urge him to encourage anyone with
information to come forward.

The pair had been due to hold talks earlier this month but
had to postpone their meeting when the date clashed with
the St Andrews talks.

Speaking during his visit to Belfast, Mr Cameron said
republicans must be prepared to pass on evidence of crime
to the police if Sinn Fein was to be regarded in the same
light as other parties.

He called on Sinn Fein to give wholehearted support to
policing and said all parties had to abide by the same
basic democratic rules.

He said “wholehearted support” included passing on evidence
about crimes like the murder of father-of-two Mr McCartney.

Mr Cameron said the St Andrews talks had clearly been a
significant step forward towards the restoration of

“I wish Tony Blair well and hope that this initiative
succeeds,” he said.

“But power-sharing will only work if every political party
and every minister in the executive sticks to the same,
basic democratic rules and gives full support to the
police, the courts and the rule of law.

“So, the reality is that Sinn Fein must deliver on

“Backing the police means more than just joining the
Policing Board.

“It means reporting crime and cooperating with the police
at all levels. It means encouraging people from your
community to join the police.”

Mr Cameron stressed that if Sinn Fein made these moves – as
the envisaged St Andrews Agreement requires them to do –
then unionists should re-establish a power-sharing devolved

“That means locally elected and accountable ministers from
both main traditions working together for the good of
Northern Ireland,’’ he said.

“It is a big step for Dr Paisley to sit down with Mr Adams.

“But in time it has to happen if devolution and
powersharing are to take place and work.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron yesterday denied there had been any
discussion with former UUP leader Lord Trimble about him
joining the Tory shadow cabinet team.

A number of Ulster Unionists have defected to the
Conservatives in recent years.

“David Trimble is a friend of the Conservative Party. The
Conservative Party is a friend of David Trimble,” he said.

“I have huge admiration for him. I got to know him a little
bit in the last parliament.

“I have not had any conversations with him at all... but I
am a great fan of people from all walks of life joining the
Conservative Party.’’


Expert's Omagh Evidence Admission

A top forensic scientist has admitted Omagh bomb trial
evidence could have been contaminated with Sean Hoey's DNA
when it was examined in a laboratory.

The court heard tape seized by police from his home in 1998
was compared with tape taken off bomb timers.

Forensic scientist Dennis McAuley said they did not protect
against dangers of contamination as the items were not
suitable for DNA analysis at that time.

Mr Hoey denies 58 charges including the murder of 29 people
in Omagh in 1998.

The rolls of tape were seized from the accused's home in
September 1998, just over a month after the Omagh bombing.

Forensic scientists compared them with tape taken off bomb
timers in a series of attacks that year.

They did not find any matches but when comparing them, they
were not protecting the items from potential DNA

New statement

Mr McAuley admitted there was the real possibility of Mr
Hoey's DNA being transferred onto the evidence.

Low copy number DNA - a technique whereby DNA profiles can
be obtained from samples containing only a few cells - is
an important part of the prosecution case.

The judge, Mr Justice Weir, has asked Mr McAuley to prepare
a new statement to take into account some of these issues.

It will be given to the court when it resumes on 7 November
after a one-week break.

It was also revealed that the police have lost five bomb
timers - some used in attacks in 1998.

The timers are similar to the ones used in the series of
attacks that the accused is charged with, and could
potentially have been important evidence.

The case continues.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/26 15:51:10 GMT


Bloody Sunday Report Due In 2008

By Sarah Brett
26 October 2006

Families of the Bloody Sunday victims today welcomed a time
frame set out by Lord Saville for the release of his report
into the killings - 10 years after his inquiry began.

News that the report into the Bloody Sunday Inquiry will
not be finalised for more than a year was contained in a
letter sent to families of the dead and wounded.

Lord Saville, who is chairing the tribunal into the
shootings in Londonderry in 1972, has warned the victims'
families that his findings are unlikely to be published
before 2008.

In a letter received yesterday he told them that the huge
amount of evidence the inquiry has had to sift through
meant such a delay was inevitable.

But with the families desperate for the truth after the
discredited original Widgery Inquiry, they said last night
they were prepared to wait as long as it takes.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was among those killed,
said: "If that's the length of time then so be it because
it's all about doing the job right."

"There is no delay. There is a massive amount of material
there and we always realised it wouldn't be a report that
would happen very quickly.

"We decided to write to him and asked for an estimate and
this is it. Now we have it in a nutshell. People should
realise it was a very intense and large inquiry that we had

"So it follows that it will take a considerable amount of
time to compile a definitive report.

"There were people coming up with different scenarios but
now we have it from Lord Saville himself.

"It is a positive step not a negative one - people can now
get on with what they're doing rather than waiting on a day
to day basis.

"We're happy enough, when its ready its ready and we're
prepared to wait. After all, it's going to be 35 years soon
and as the song says, what's another year?"


Opin: Our Politicians Must Stay The Course

27 October 2006

The pressure is on for a positive response to the St
Andrews Agreement by November 10, two weeks before the
deadline for the appointments of the First and Deputy First
Ministers - and already there are moves in the right
direction. Despite the "glitch" over the DUP's demand that
Sinn Fein pledge support for the police before November 24,
the British and Irish governments are proceeding with their
packages of economic aid and the DUP are positioning
themselves to recommend power-sharing, if republicans

There will be no final verdict until the electorate have
their say, but the alternative option, of the two
governments deciding Northern Ireland's future, is being
starkly presented. On the one hand, Dublin and London are
offering an attractive peace dividend to any new Stormont
administration and, on the other hand, they make no secret
of their joint cross-border plans, if there is a failure to

The job losses at Shorts-Bombardier are a reminder of the
fragile nature of the Northern Ireland economy, even as
construction cranes dominate the Belfast skyline. There is
far too much dependence on a few big employers, as well as
the public service, and the only way to turn the situation
around is to establish a stable devolved administration,
taking bold measures to suit local conditions.

Anyone looking to a future Conservative government for a
change of direction will have been disappointed by David
Cameron's approach, in his Belfast Telegraph article. His
hope for a "normalisation" of politics may be slow in
coming, but generally he supports the Government's policy
of local decision-making and cutbacks in the public sector.

As the parties consult their supporters on the St Andrews
proposals, there are increasing signs that some realities
are dawning. Sinn Fein know they have only a limited time
to reach agreement on the policing issue and the DUP,
having obtained significant concessions, can be in no doubt
about Dublin's increasing role here, if direct rule

In a dramatic appeal to his supporters, Ian Paisley asks
them to weigh up what has been achieved, so far, "while
bearing in mind what will happen if these changes are not
made". This is not the time to withdraw, he advises, but to
withstand. In other words, to stay the course mapped out in
St Andrews, provided that Sinn Fein delivers on its

The meeting in London next week between the parties and the
Chancellor, Gordon Brown, provides the best chance that
Northern Ireland may ever have of underpinning its
political and economic future. Both London and Dublin, as
well as the EU and USA, are anxious to help, but only if
they see our politicians accepting their basic
responsibility to work together.


Opin: Eric Waugh: Shared Prosperity Sounds Death Knell For
Border Crime

27 October 2006

The cash dividend the political parties expect to get from
Government, for playing ball on devolution, is not the most
important economic aspect of any deal. Cementing cross-
border economic co-operation is.

This is a small island: you could fit eight Irelands into
Texas. But in the past, serious co-operation has been
inhibited by a mix of chauvinism and muddle.

Things are changing - slowly. But, as things stand, the big
economic significance of the border remains its potential
for crime. Criminals see it as a moneyspinner and are quite
cynical in exploiting it.

The illegal rubbish business is typical. The Republic is
chronically short of refuse disposal plant. So councils
engage contractors to take the stuff away. Having paid
them, they wash their hands of the disposal.

This used to end in contractors slipping across the border
by night with a truck, bogus Northern Ireland plates
temporarily affixed, to unload the stuff in some unseen
spot. No doubt some still do.

The only way to stop this is to enforce the law on the
border. That demands a much closer operational affinity
between the two police forces. Each needs to be able to
rely on the goodwill of the local community.

This is the answer to much that is wrong: in the smuggled
drugs which come into isolated coves in West Cork after
dark, consigned to Belfast or Ballymena; in the washing of
southern diesel fuel to be sold to conniving service
stations in Northern Ireland and resold by them to their
customers at high tax-paid prices; and in the selling of
contraband cigarettes.

Making a reality of the prototype St Andrews Agreement is
going to be a long haul. For backing the police means
backing the enforcement of the law; and there are many
enclaves straddling the border where that remains a novel
and entirely foreign concept. And some of these people
command many votes.

But economically co-operating Governments strike at the
root of the us-and-them concept which criminals exploit to
pretend that their nefarious activities are in some way
patriotic. If a new devolved Government at Stormont and a
Government in Dublin are shown to have unity of social and
economic purpose, such perverted patriotism can be revealed
for the wicked nonsense it is.

As to the potential of cross-border co-operation, we must
keep our feet on the ground. Newspaper headlines ("Dublin
to spend 1bn euros in Ulster") should be taken with a large
grain of salt.

What the Republic seems now willing to do is to indulge in
a little enlightened self-interest by contributing to
facilities of which its citizens already make, or will
make, substantial use. Examples are a proposed additional
cross-border electricity inter-connector, a second power
connector across the Irish Sea, the cancer radiotherapy
service at Belfast City Hospital, already available to
Donegal patients, and upgrading the poor roads system
linking Co Donegal with Co Monaghan.

We should rejoice that the vigour of the Celtic Tiger has
kept our brethren's moneybags so full down south that such
expenditure can be proposed under their National Plan for
2007-13. Nor is it all one way; for the Republic still
routinely makes use of specialist UK facilities - in
forensic medicine and detection, and in organ transplants,
for example, and, for many years, in air-sea rescue before
it organised its own service.

All this is the normal, sensible and civilised behaviour of
good neighbours. On this island the prosperity of one is
very much in the interest of the other. That is a still,
small voice that catcalls from Stormont should not be
allowed to drown.

• The decision of the headmistress of Methodist College,
Belfast, Cecilia Galloway, to resign her post within 10
months of her appointment raises worrying questions. Did
the governors make a big mistake - or did she?

Time was when such appointments were much sought after,
and, once made, tended to be settled for decades, the
incumbent growing in stature with the years. But I am told
that, amazingly, these key posts are now very difficult to
fill, many personable teachers refusing to apply. Is this a
commentary on the state of the profession? Or upon the
character of modern youth, which can render the stress of
such a post unacceptable to many gifted senior teachers?



NI's MPs Claim £2M In Allowances

Northern Ireland's 18 MPs claimed almost £2m in allowances
last year, House of Commons figures have shown.

The 2005/06 payments show that, on average, Northern
Ireland's MPs claimed just over £104,000 each.

The DUP's nine MPs claimed a total of just over £1.1m,
while the SDLP's three representatives claimed £400,236.

Sinn Fein's five MPs, who do not take their seats at
Westminster, claimed more than £200,000. Lady Sylvia
Hermon, the UUP's only MP, claimed £122,333.

DUP expenses

Ian Paisley £125,670
Peter Robinson £133,490
Nigel Dodds £146,451
Jeffrey Donaldson £152,722
Iris Robinson £130,184
Sammy Wilson £117,199
David Simpson £96,389
Gregory Campbell £139,014
William McCrea £106,238

Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP's MP for Lagan Valley, claimed
the most in allowances with a figure of £152,722.

Out of Northern Ireland's MPs who sit at Westminster, DUP
Upper Bann MP David Simpson claimed the least expenses with
a figure of £96,389.

Sinn Fein expenses

Gerry Adams £46,251
Martin McGuinness £42,613
Michelle Gildernew £40,898
Conor Murphy £38,910
Pat Doherty £38,049

MPs are paid a basic salary of £59,686 and a pension. Their
allowances include office staffing costs and travel.

The total cost of all of the UK MPs' expenses came to
almost £86.8m, an increase of nearly £6m on the previous

SDLP expenses

Mark Durkan £130,294
Alasdair McDonnell £142,304
Eddie McGrady £127,638

The average UK expenses claim for 2005/06 came to about
£131,000 per MP.

Up to £87,276 is available for salaries for researchers,
secretaries and other staff.

Other allowances can be claimed for travel on parliamentary
business, office costs, stationery, postage and computer

MPs representing constituencies outside central London can
claim about £20,000 for the cost of staying near

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/27 09:45:42 GMT


Irish Twist To Life Of Shirley Valentine

By Matthew McCreary
27 October 2006

A smash-hit play which follows the trials and tribulations
of a Belfast housewife will be brought to the stage next
week . . . in Irish.

Shirley Valentine, by acclaimed English playwright Willy
Russell is being produced by the Aisling Ghear Irish
language theatre company, based in west Belfast.

The one-woman show, which has been relocated from its
original Liverpool setting to Belfast, follows a bored
housewife as she escapes the drudgery of her life through a
holiday to Greece.

And those behind the play are hoping it will appeal to
audiences from both sides of the community.

"It's a universal story. It doesn't matter whether it's in
English or Irish, there is always an army of women out
there who are caring for someone in their family home, but
who want something else," said Carrie-Anne McAlonan-
McCrudden, general manager of Aisling Ghear.

The company, which celebrates its tenth anniversary next
year, has many notable productions under its belt,
including Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel and works by
Samuel Beckett.

"There are around 37,000 people in Belfast who speak Irish,
so we provide a cultural outlet for those who wish to
experience their social life through the medium of the
language," said Carrie-Anne.

The company also hope that a simultaneous English
translation, available through special hi-tech headsets for
non-Irish speakers, will help draw in a new audience.

"One of the reasons we invested in a translation system was
to allow people who don't have access to the Irish language
to come and see the show," said Carrie-Anne.

The play runs at the Culturlann in west Belfast (Tel: 9020
8040) from Monday to Wednesday and on Saturday, with
performances at the Millennium Forum in Londonderry (Tel:
7126 4455) on Thursday and Friday.

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