News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

October 14, 2006

Parties To Respond Within A Month

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 10/14/06 Parties To Respond Within A Month
RT 10/14/06 St Andrews Plan Represents Progress - SF, DUP
SF 10/14/06 McGuinness - 11 Plus Will Not Return
BN 10/14/06 Government Ahead In Opinion Polls
RT 10/14/06 Stardust Mass Marks Five Unidentified Victims


Parties To Respond Within A Month

Northern Ireland's political parties have less than a month to
give their responses to the British and Irish governments draft
devolution agreement.

The parties are back home after three days of talks in St Andrews
aimed at restoring the political institutions.

The governments outlined their plans in the draft agreement and
the parties now have until 10 of November to respond.

If the plans are accepted, the assembly could be up and running
by 26 March next year.

The roadmap would see a first and deputy first minister nominated
on 24 November.

At St Andrews, Prime Minister Tony Blair said there would have to
be some form of electoral endorsement of the plan - either an
election or a referendum.

:: 10 November - parties respond to proposals
:: 24 November - first and deputy first minister nominated
Electoral endorsement of plans
:: 14 March 2007 - nomination of executive
:: 26 March 2007 - executive up and running

He said the two key components of a plan were that all parties
accept the police and courts and have a clear agreement on power-

"So those are the two essential parts of it," Mr Blair said.

"We've been through different parts of this process many times
over the past few years but I think this is a sound basis to

The government's plan also envisages the devolution of policing
and justice powers in two years from the creation of the

However, this would be subject to a cross-community vote in the

A financial package is also included in the draft agreement.

One of the proposals is a cap on domestic rates under the new
capital value system if the governments' plans are accepted by
the parties.

It also suggests the possibility of further rates relief for
pensioners on lower incomes.

Speaking after the governments revealed their plan, DUP leader
Ian Paisley said Northern Ireland was at a crossroads and
republicans had a choice and "delivery to make".

"Delivering on the pivotal issue of policing and the rule of law
starts now," Mr Paisley said.

He said the DUP negotiators had dealt with a number of issues
during the talks and that in the delivery of an overall package
they "had retained the retention of academic selection" in the
province's post-primary sector.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said that the plans needed to be
consulted on, but restoring the political institutions was an
"enormous prize".

"Common-sense political realism and the interest of all our
people demand we achieve this," he said.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said what had been agreed
was the "Belfast Agreement for slow learners".

"Sinn Fein will sign up to the PSNI being the only force of law
and order and Ian Paisley, or a colleague, will share the joint
office of first and deputy first minister with Martin McGuinness
in a mandatory coalition," he said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said welcome progress had been made
towards restoring the power sharing institutions and pledged that
his party would continue working towards this.

"We believe that we can move from the politics of stand-off to
lift-off," he said.

Alliance Party leader David Ford said the outcome was a mix "of
challenges and opportunities".

"Despite all that remains to be done, there is now at least a
sense of hope for a shared future," he said.

The Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended on 14 October 2002
amid allegations of a republican spy ring at Stormont.

The court case that followed collapsed and one of those charged,
Denis Donaldson, later admitted working as a British agent.

Direct rule from London was restored in October 2002 and has been
in place since.

Published: 2006/10/14 08:29:52 GMT


St Andrews Plan Represents Progress - SF, DUP

14 October 2006 14:43

Leading members of Sinn Féin and the DUP have said that the St
Andrews agreement, which outlines steps towards power-sharing in
Northern Ireland, represents progress.

The proposed agreement was put to the parties by the two
governments yesterday after three days of talks in Scotland.

Speaking on RTE Radio's Saturday View, Sinn Féin's chief
negotiator, Martin McGuinness, said the agreement had helped
create a mood of great hope and optimism.

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson said his party viewed the agreement
as offering the potential for positive progress.

The Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, has described the outcome
of the St Andrews talks as very important.

He said the prospect of a rapprochement which involves the DUP is
one which provided an end game.

Speaking in Letterkenny, where he addressed the inaugural Neil T
Blaney Autumn School, Mr Cowen said it was absolutely critical
that the timetable as set out by the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, and the
British Prime Minister, Mr Blair, is met.

Politicians in Northern Ireland are considering the detail of the
potential deal, which involves a series of staged agreements to
be reached by the Northern parties.

Under the plan, the parties will have to give a clear signal by
10 November whether they believe the deal is workable.

Mr Blair said he believed the proposal was a way forward, while
Mr Ahern said he believed all the elements are in place.

The full text of the Agreement at St Andrews is available on the
Taoiseach's website


McGuinness - 11 Plus Will Not Return

Published: 14 October, 2006

Former Education Minister and Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin
McGuinness today said that people should not become confused by
the spin coming out of St Andrews on the issue of academic
selection, that the 11 plus would be abolished and would not be
coming back.

Mr McGuinness said:

“As Education Minister I abolished the 11 plus. It was abolished
because it gave rise to a system which enhanced educational
inequality and disadvantage. Let me be clear today, the 11 plus
will be abolished and will not be coming back. Spin to the
contrary from the DUP in the wake of St. Andrews about this issue
does not alter this reality.

“If we have a fully functioning Assembly up and running this
would of course be an issue to discuss and debate and that is
right and proper. It is also right and proper that Ministers
retain Executive authority and Ministerial power.

“However many people find the DUP support for the 11 plus ironic
given the fact that the system of academic selection at 11
impacts most within unionist working class areas like the
Shankill where only 1% of the population move onto grammar
schools the rest branded as failures.

“Sinn Féin will continue to engage in the debate on the future
direction of education here with the clear objective of
delivering a fair and effective system which delivers for all of
our children not just the few.” ENDS


Government Ahead In Opinion Polls

14/10/2006 - 08:13:32

There is more good news for the Government this morning as the
latest opinion poll puts the current coalition five points ahead
of the Fine Gael-Labour alternative.

The second part of the TNS-MRBI poll shows the Fianna Fail-PD
Government on 36% with the alternative coalition on 31%.

The poll, published in this mornings Irish Times, rates health,
transport, education as the issues the electorate are most
concerned about.

5% of people polled rated these issues as top priorities for the
next government.

The second most important issue is the continued success of the
economy, with crime, the waste of public expenditure and the need
to keep taxes low all registering on the public radar.

When asked to rate the two coalitions in terms of how they would
deal with six major issues, the current government was ahead on
five of them.

The results represent a significant shift in public opinion as
previous polls have put the Fine Gael-Labour coalition ahead of
the current one.


Stardust Mass Marks Five Unidentified Victims

14 October 2006 13:59

Relatives and friends of victims of the Stardust tragedy have
been attending a special Mass in Dublin this afternoon.

The Mass was held to remember in particular the five victims of
the fire whose bodies were never formally identified.

At the Mass relatives and family members spoke emotionally about
their loved ones and prayers were offered for all those who died
and for those who were injured and their families.

Following the Mass at St Vincent's Church in Sutton, the
relatives travelled the short distance up the road to the nearby
cemetery where the remains of the five unidentified victims are

At the grave wreaths were laid in memory of the five.

The Mass was also attended by local TDs Finian McGrath, Michael
Woods and Sean Haughey, while the Taoiseach was represented by
his aid de comp, Commandant Micheal Murray.

48 people died in the disaster, which happened in February of

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