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October 09, 2006

Politicians Reach Their 17th Hole

News About Ireland & The Irish

UT 10/09/06
Politicians Reach Their 17th Hole
BT 10/09/06 OTR Issue Would Be Like Missile To Talks, Says DUP
BT 10/09/06 Alliance In Appeal To Address Our Past
BT 10/09/06 Spooks Still Haunt A Political Settlement
BB 10/09/06 Nationalist Parties To Meet Ahern
BB 10/09/06 DUP Meets Irish Catholic Leader
EW 10/09/06 Two Ireland Clergy To Take Part In Elms College Forum
BT 10/09/06 Dissidents Blamed For Coleraine Arson Attack
TW 10/09/06 Hunger Striker Warns Of IRA Image Problem
SF 10/09/06 Too Many Lives Still Being Lost To Suicide - Adams
NH 10/09/06 Orde Announces Review Of O'Hagan Probe
BT 10/09/06 Opin: Parties Must Inch Towards Resolution
NH 10/09/06 Opin: Time For Dr No To Don Sack Cloth And Ashes
IT 10/09/06 Opin: Empey - Governments Key To Success Of North Talks
BT 10/09/06 Opin: Robert McCartney - The Nefarious Mr Peter Hain
IT 10/09/06 A Homecoming For Ireland's Iconic Bluesman
IT 10/09/06 New Housing 'A Threat' To Villages
IT 10/09/06 Town's Residents To Give Verdict On Dingle Or An Daingean


Politicians Reach Their 17th Hole

The 17th hole in St Andrews Old Course is one of the most
feared holes in professional golf.

By:Press Association

Dubbed the Road Hole, it has reduced many a world-class
golfer to a nervous wreck towards the end of their round
and decided the fate of several Open Championships.

Its vicious bunker put paid to Tommy Nakaijima`s hopes of
becoming the first ever Japanese winner of the tournament
in 1978.

In 1995, Italian Constantino Rocca`s dream was shattered at
the 17th during a play-off with America`s John Daly.

And in one of the most dramatic climaxes in the history of
the competition, Tom Watson saw his bid in 1984 for a sixth
claret jug crash at the Road Hole when he was left with a
horrid shot against a wall.

His bogey enabled Severiano Ballesteros to claim his second
Open title.

There couldn`t be a more perfect venue than St Andrews for
this week`s final stage of the Northern Ireland talks.

Eight years on from the Good Friday Agreement, the road map
to devolution has wound its way to a town famous for its
university which educated Prince William.

As the talks hone in on the last few issues preventing
stable devolved government in Northern Ireland, it could be
argued the province`s politicians have reached their 17th

As they face their equivalent of the Road Hole, Tony Blair,
Bertie Ahern, Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams know there is a
real prospect of success at St Andrews, but there are also
a few traps out there that could swipe the prize of
devolution away from them.

In its initial stages the peace process got off to a solid
enough start with the Hume-Adams dialogue and eventually
the 1994 IRA and loyalist ceasefires.

But its progress has been as erratic as a Seve Ballesteros`
tee shot.

It didn`t take long for the politicians to find bunkers -
arms bunkers to be precise - with the rows between former
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and Sinn Fein over IRA

At one stage, the process looked dangerously like it was
going out-of-bounds with the collapse in 1996 of the first
IRA ceasefire.

However, through all the crises the process has shown a
Ballesteros-like capacity to get out of scrapes and produce
moments of glory.

The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 was undoubtedly a high
point for many of those involved and while the process
found the rough several times during three years of power
sharing, there was optimism.

Then in 2002 the process really started to struggle.

Spying allegations at Stormont landed devolution in a
succession of sand traps as punishing as the Old Course`s
Coffins on Hole 13 and The Beardies on Hole 14.

Despite the decommissioning issue being advanced, the
parties consistently carded bogies.

The crisis of confidence in the process was exacerbated by
the œ26.5 million Northern Bank robbery in December 2004
and the murder of Belfast father-of-two Robert McCartney a
month later.

Yet just when the process was beginning to resemble a
golfer trying to putt with the yips, things started to
slowly but surely turn around.

Last year`s declaration from the IRA that its armed
campaign was over and the completion of the organisation`s
decommissioning process helped tee up hopes in London and
Dublin that the current set of talks could bring success.

That optimism was further fuelled by this week`s
Independent Monitoring Commission report which observed the
IRA was honouring its pledge to end terrorism.

But with the issues of power sharing, policing and changes
to the political institutions still occupying the minds of
Northern Ireland`s politicians at St Andrews, no-one will
be taking anything for granted.

The Democratic Unionists are facing the most difficult
decision in their 35-year history on whether they should go
into government with Sinn Fein.

The Rev Ian Paisley will be anxious to ensure nothing is
left to chance. He will not be willing to take Sinn Fein on
trust like former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble did.

His party will also be seeking clarity that the progress
mapped out in this week`s IMC report on IRA paramilitarism
and criminality is irreversible.

While the process may lack the consistency and sheer
confidence of Tiger Woods, around the world people will be
willing it on to success like Northern Ireland`s Darren
Clarke at the Ryder Cup.

Ultimately that depends on Mr Paisley.

As golfers fork out œ120 for the privilege of playing the
Old Course this week, in a nearby hotel the DUP leader will
be trying to work out if the price of another failed talks
process is worth paying.


OTR Issue Would Be Like Missile To Talks, Says DUP

By Noel McAdam
09 October 2006

Attempts to introduce the On-the-Runs controversy into the
political mix of the St Andrews talks could be like an
"exocet missile" on talks to restore devolution, the DUP

With the parties today beginning to make their preparations
for the 72-hours of discussions in Scotland, it appeared
the OTR issue was back on the agenda.

But the DUP's Gregory Campbell described it as an "exocet
missile" which could scupper any potential deal and UUP
leader Sir Reg Empey warned it could very well be a "deal-

But Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said the Government had given
an undertaking to deal with the issue as far back as the
Weston Park talks four years ago.

Legislation dealing with the issue was withdrawn earlier
this year in a storm of controversy after an effective
amnesty was extended to members of the security forces.

The political pace quickened today ahead of the St Andrews'
'summit' due to get under way on Wednesday afternoon.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was due to meet delegations from
both Sinn Fein and the SDLP in Dublin to map out
arrangements for the talks, including the possibility of a
plenary session involving all the parties together.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan argued there already appeared to be
a "bit of a carve up" going on between the DUP and Sinn
Fein in terms of the apparent resurrection of parts of the
so-called Comprehensive Agreement, which collapsed in late

And he warned "we are already seeing side-deals" between
the Governments with the Sinn Fein and Sinn Fein, referring
to DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson's assertion that his
party had dozens of letters and clarifications from the
Governments dating from the Comprehensive Agreement talks.

Mr Robinson claimed to have forced the Government on to the
DUP's agenda.

"If evidence were ever needed of the DUP's ability to frame
the debate then one need look no further than the Secretary
of State's (Peter Hain) recent letter outlining the talks
agenda," the East Belfast MP claimed.

"The issues that we are forcing other parties to examine
are not just DUP issues but are issues that will serve to
strengthen democracy in the Province."

At the annual dinner of the Fermanagh and South Tyrone DUP
association, Mr Robinson said: "Those who said that the
Belfast Agreement was set in stone and could not be changed
have been proved wrong."


Alliance In Appeal To Address Our Past

By Noel McAdam
09 October 2006

As the clock ticked towards the St Andrews talks, the
Alliance Party today urged the establishment of an
independent commission to deal with the past and its

The party has written to the British and Irish governments
with a firm proposal for the new commission which it says
would be comprised of domestic and international experts.

The issue of the past and how to handle it was clearly
identified as a priority during the inter-party discussions
of the Preparation for Government committee over the

But there was little consensus on any mechanism by which it
could be done.

Alliance said today a commission could consult and make a
series of recommendations addressing how to deal with
outstanding issues relating to the past and its legacy.

Alliance Party leader, David Ford said: "Some may argue
that focusing in on the past is counterproductive, keeps
wounds open, and that society should move on. "

He said issues included memorials, a possible annual day of
reflection, a forum testimonials to enable victims to place
memories on record and, crucially, a mechanism to address
'truth recovery'.


Spooks Still Haunt A Political Settlement

By Brian Rowan
09 October 2006

The spooks are not coming - they are already here, and have
been for quite some time.

It is now well known that that new building - costing
millions of pounds and not terribly well hidden in the
grounds of Palace Barracks at Holywood - is to be the new
place of work for the Security Service (MI5) in Northern

It will be the hub of their secret surveillance and
intelligence operations when they take charge of "national
security" matters here in about a year's time.

But they are not sending any more officers into the field.
"What we've got here now is what we will have next year," a
source told this newspaper, but there was no detail, no
numbers, no colouring in of the picture, to better
illustrate what that MI5 presence is.

The idea of the new building is not to accommodate new
officers but to bring those who already work for the
Security Service here out of whatever number of stations
they are in and under the one roof. In 2006 with the IRA
more or less gone, "national security" has a changing

Today and tomorrow and in the days after that, the
listening and watching and monitoring of MI5 - the focus of
their operations - will mostly be about international
terrorism and the dissident republican threat.

But how will it work? What will the relationship be between
MI5 and the PSNI? Who runs the agents? How do you ensure

The police will not have to hand their agents over.

"The people who they (the PSNI Special Branch) are in touch
with, they will continue to run," a source said.

But, when this moves into the area of national security,
the "tasking mechanism will change".

We are now into the jargon of that secret world of
informers and spying and surveillance and bugging - and
into a place where the language is as grey as much of what
goes on.

For "tasking mechanisms" read "requirement setting" - in
other words, when it comes to matters of national security,
MI5 will tell the police what is needed by way of
information from their agents - the Security Service will
"set the strategic direction - set the intelligence

And how then is this kept accountable within the mechanisms
that grew out of the Patten report on police reforms?

How does the Policing Board and the Police Ombudsman keep
an eye on this?

How do you persuade republicans to come inside the policing
process when the "securocrats" - the spooks, MI5 - are
being given new responsibilities?

All of this is still being worked on.

Those who know the Security Service will point to an
accountability structure that has many layers - the Home
Secretary, the intelligence and security committee at
Westminster, the surveillance commissioner, the
intelligence commissioner, the Security Service Tribunal,
the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

Here, in Northern Ireland, in the new beginning to
policing, all of the above will not be enough.

In a recent interview with this newspaper, Sinn Fein's
policing and justice spokesman Gerry Kelly touched on what
was needed.

"If a person is a member of the PSNI, then that person, at
all times, needs to be accountable to the accountability
mechanisms connected with policing," he said.

"(They) cannot be separately accountable to MI5," he
continued. "They cannot become an MI5 operative and
therefore not tell about that part of their duty. And this
is crucial and this is something which needs to be sorted

Peter Sheridan, the assistant chief constable, who along
with Sir Hugh Orde was part of that important first meeting
with Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly in
Downing Street a couple of years ago, knows the importance
- the policing and political importance - of getting this
issue right.

"I have set down five principles that are non-negotiable -
that the police service sees as non-negotiable," he told

He did not add the detail, but the principles are about
working practices and accountability.

The senior police officer is pressing for all "agent
handling" to be "within PSNI protocols" - "to be within the
current accountability systems".

He also wants the new working system to be such that the
Policing Board's human rights advisers can be satisfied
that it is being operated within the Board's requirements.

Sheridan - a former police commander in Derry, and an
officer previously targeted by the IRA - has made his
position clear to MI5's director and coordinator of
intelligence based at Stormont.

"If it is to be a genuine partnership, then the (Security)
Service should sign up (to the five principles," he said.

Another source was keen to stress that what is being
planned here is about "bringing Northern Ireland into line
with the rest of the United Kingdom" - that the police will
still run agents but "requirement setting (on national
security) is for MI5".

All of that may well be the case, but republicans see MI5
as the dark hand of the "securocrats" - a secret Security
Service that was part of the war and that should have no
place in the peace.

Republicans, in their decision making process on policing,
will want to be sure that nothing PSNI officers do on
behalf of MI5 can be hidden from the Policing Board, the
Police Ombudsman and any new Policing and Justice Ministry
at Stormont.

Accountability is the watchword.

Since the middle summer, the security forces have been
watching "a bigger push" taking republicans in the
direction of policing participation.

That is why this issue of MI5 - of the spooks having more
of a role - is so sensitive, and if handled wrongly, so
potentially damaging to the bigger project of political
deal making.

Can it be sorted?

Can a working partnership be formed between the police and
MI5 to keep this most secret of work inside accepted and
acceptable methods of accountability?

The working out of all of that will be key when republicans
are asked to put their hands up for a possible place inside
a policing and justice ministry, for membership of the
Policing Board and for encouraging young republicans to
join the PSNI.

That is how important this issue is.

That is why there is such an effort being made to get it


Nationalist Parties To Meet Ahern

Delegations from Sinn Fein and the SDLP are to meet
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin.

They are expected to discuss the forthcoming talks in
Scotland aimed at restoring devolution.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams is to head a senior party
delegation to the meeting in the morning.

MEP Mary Lou McDonald will be on the delegation and she
said it was possible to get "business done" by the two
governments' 24 November deadline.

"I believe that the political institutions can be restored
and agreement reached in relation to all of the outstanding
issues," she said.

"However, this will only happen if people go into this with
the right attitude and not scramble about for excuses and
obstacles as the deadline for progress approaches."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan will be leading a delegation of his
party members to talks in the afternoon.

In a statement, the SDLP said they would be raising
concerns that the British government is preparing
legislation which would permit the exclusion of the SDLP
and others from the executive and the role MI5 may be given
in police intelligence.

The British government has laid down 24 November as the
deadline for a deal to be reached over the restoration of

The main parties meet later this week in the Scottish town
of St Andrew's for intensive talks.

Published: 2006/10/09 05:25:47 GMT


DUP Meets Irish Catholic Leader

DUP leader Ian Paisley has held his first formal talks with
Ireland's most senior Catholic cleric.

Mr Paisley, moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, met
Archbishop of Armagh Dr Sean Brady at Stormont.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Brady described the discussions as
"helpful and constructive".

The meeting comes just two days before multi-party talks in
St Andrews, Scotland, aimed at brokering a deal on
devolution and policing.

Dr Brady said it confirmed for him that everyone had a part
to play in creating a more stable and prosperous future.

"I firmly believe that such a future is within our grasp if
each one of us can find the courage to take account of the
needs of the other, and not just those of our own
community," he said.

"I think that real peace will come only when we focus on
the common good of all of our society and not just on
sectional interest."

Dr Brady said he discussed the need to develop support for
law and order and he prayed that the coming months would
bring "a more democratically accountable and stable

The DUP said the meeting was one of a series being held
with church leaders.

Nationalist welcome

Mr Paisley's decision to meet Dr Brady was welcomed by

The DUP delegation included deputy leader Peter Robinson
and MPs Nigel Dodds and Gregory Campbell.

The archbishop's delegation included Bishop Francis Lagan,
the auxiliary bishop of Derry, and Father Timothy Bartlett,
secretary to the Northern Bishops.

The DUP is also meeting the Independent Monitoring
Commission on Monday to discuss its latest report on IRA

Separately, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will meet Sinn Fein and
the SDLP in Dublin.

'Famously denounced Pope'

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said
Archbishop Brady wanted to address a range of issues at the

"They include sectarianism, racism, the political process
and ethical questions like abortion and euthanasia.

"As the moderator of the Free Presbyterian church, Ian
Paisley once famously denounced the Pope as an anti-Christ.

However, he said the DUP insisted Monday's dialogue would
be about politics not religion.

Published: 2006/10/09 10:29:13 GMT


Two Ireland Clergy To Take Part In Elms College Forum

CHICOPEE, Mass. A Northern Ireland Protestant minister and
a Roman Catholic priest will participate in a forum on
Thursday at Elms College in Chicopee.

The Reverend Alec Reid of West Belfast and Reverend Harold
Good of the Methodist Church of Ireland will outline the
inside dealings between the two religious communities that
led to the surrender of the outlawed Irish Republican
Army's arsenal. Also participating in the forum will be
Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal.

In the eight years since the so-called Good Friday
Agreement was ratified by voters, the political parties of
Northern Ireland have governed together. The peace accord
laid the blueprint for the executive and legislative
branches, as well as reforming the court system and police


Dissidents Blamed For Coleraine Arson Attack

By Deborah McAleese
09 October 2006

There were warnings last night that dissident republicans
may step up their campaign of terror in the run up to this
week's political talks in Scotland.

The discovery of an incendiary device in a B&Q store in
Coleraine has sparked fears of a fresh firebombing campaign
by dissidents in a bid to disrupt the power-sharing talks.

However, politicians have vowed that the attack will not
derail the cross-party discussions.

"It is no coincidence that this is happening in the run-up
to St Andrews and I would suspect that we, as a community,
are probably going to be in the firing line of more
attempts like this in the run-up to the November 24
deadline for devolution because down the years various
paramilitary groups have used summits and high-profile
events as an excuse to go on a commercial firebombing
blitz," said DUP MP Gregory Campbell.

"It will not improve nor lessen any chances for progress
because the wider community have not come through 40 years
of far worse than this to be derailed by something,
deplorable though it is for the local economy, like this,"
he added.

Police have confirmed that the blaze, which caused major
smoke and water damage to the store, was probably started
by an incendiary device. The device is believed to have
been left in a carpet section of the store. A sprinkler
system contained the fire.

SDLP MLA John Dallat said that to stop these type of
attacks the political parties need to come back from the
talks in Scotland with an agreement.

"I would be concerned that this is the start of a dissident
republican campaign ahead of the talks."

In August, the Real IRA was blamed for a series of
incendiary attacks on commercial premises in Newry.


Hunger Striker Warns Of IRA Image Problem

9th October 2006, 10:45 WST

A former IRA hunger striker has warned against glamorising
the IRA's campaign in the troubled 1980s.

Brendan Hughes, who also was the leader of the IRA
prisoners in the Maze prison in the early 1980s, revealed
the physical and mental anguish caused by the prison
protests in an interview with the Irish News.

He said hundreds of republicans were now wrestling with
alcoholism, depression and other mental problems. Some had
difficulty holding down jobs and relationships.

Hughes, 58, has recently had an eye operation to try to
save his sight, which was damaged by his 52 days of
starvation in the Maze.

He led and called off the first hunger strike and argued
against the second hunger strike that led to the death of
Bobby Sands.

"Bobby knew he would die but he thought his own death would
be enough to force the Brits into a settlement," Hughes
said. "We know now that was not to be the case and 10 men
were to lose their lives."

He went on to criticise celebrations this year of the 25th
anniversary of the hunger strikes, regarded as a seminal
moment in Sinn Fein-IRA history.

"There are men still suffering in silence today," Hughes
said. "The recent commemoration events to mark the 25th
anniversary of the hunger strike did not even touch on that

"Painting murals on walls to commemorate blanketmen (men
who refused to wear any clothing during the jail protests)
after they have died a slow and lonely death from alcohol
abuse is no use to anyone. "I would hate for young people
now to have this romanticised version of the events of that
time and what went on in the prison. "The truth is so very
far removed from that and I suppose I'm living proof of

The West Australian


Too Many Lives Still Being Lost To Suicide - Adams

Published: 9 October, 2006

Sinn F‚in President and West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has
said the speedy and effective implementation of the
regional suicide prevention strategy in the north and a co-
ordinated all-Ireland approach to this issue is urgent.

Mr. Adams made his call on World Mental Health day, 10th
October 2006, as he revealed that new figures released show
that last year 645 people on the island of Ireland lost
their lives through suicide

The West Belfast MP said:

"Suicide across the island has become the biggest killer of
our young people. In the last decade the incidence of
suicide in Ireland has increased by more than 25%. In
2003/04 there were 577 people who died through suicide.
Figures recently compiled indicate that last year, the
total number of people who died as a result of suicide was
645. Loss of life on that scale can only be regarded as a
national disaster and as such we need a national response.

"We know that for every life lost many more people are
affected. That is why Sinn F‚in is campaigning for suicide
prevention strategies north and south to be integrated on
an all-island basis.

"The Department of Health in the north has found that 90%
of suicides are associated with mental health needs. It was
also found that 30% of children and adolescents are
affected by mental health problems and many have
experienced psychiatric disorders at the time of their

"However, a recent review of mental health commissioned in
the six counties has found that only 6% of the health
budget is spent on mental health, and less than 1% is spent
on children,s mental health. Of those young people who
actually receive mental health support, many are put in
adult mental health wards. The lack of provision for
adolescent mental health care is criminally negligent and
is endangering young lives.

"The void between community need and government resources
is most acute in areas such as west and north Belfast,
where poverty and deprivation put people at greatest risk.
Yet the deficit in mental health funding in north and west
Belfast has been œ2m per year over many years.

"Sinn F‚in believes that the paper produced by the
Department of Health in the six counties 'Protect Life - a
Shared Vision' is an important first step in tackling
suicide. It emerged as a result of much lobbying by
bereaved relatives and Sinn F‚in. The key now is delivery.
We need to see the implementation of this approach. We also
need to integration of existing strategies north and south,
with Departments and Ministers working together with
families and communities.

"Sinn F‚in views the input of bereaved families and friends
as crucial to the oversight and implementation of suicide
prevention strategies.

"Proposals for a new telephone help-line and the
introduction of proper training and protocols in suicide
awareness for health professionals need to be speedily and
fully resourced. Plans underway for an information campaign
on an all-Ireland basis are welcome.

"Sinn F‚in wants to see harmonisation and integration of
strategies on suicide prevention on an all-Ireland basis. I
will be in contact with Ministers north and south to
advance this agenda." ENDS


Orde Announces Review Of O'Hagan Probe

(Bimpe Fatogun, Irish News)

A review will be held next year into the investigation of
the murder of Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan, the
chief constable has announced.

Sir Hugh Orde has given the undertaking in a letter to the
Belfast and District Branch of the National Union of

It comes after members of the branch hand delivered a
letter addressed to the chief constable last week on the
fifth anniversary of Mr O'Hagan's murder demanding to know
why no-one had been brought to justice for the crime.

Mr O'Hagan was gunned down by the LVF as he walked with his
wife back to their Lurgan, Co Armagh, home on September 28
2001 following an evening at a nearby pub.

Although there have been eight arrests during the murder
investigation, no-one has been charged in the five years
since it happened.

A number of key suspects have been identified in the press.

Mr O'Hagan was the first working journalist to be killed in
Northern Ireland since the outbreak of the Troubles in

Sir Hugh had drawn criticism for failing to have an officer
present to receive the letter from the union last week.

In a formal reply yesterday (Friday), he said the force
"shares the frustration of Mr O'Hagan's family, friends and
colleagues that no-one has been made amenable for this

He stressed that "an extensive investigation into the
murder has taken place" but despite this there is
"insufficient evidence to charge any individual".

Shortly before his death, Mr O'Hagan had expressed concern
after being told that he was possibly under surveillance by
members of the LVF.

The loyalist group had long harboured a grudge against him
following the journalist's work exposing its campaign of
nakedly sectarian assassinations against Catholics and
large illegal drugs distribution network.

He was the first journalist to draw attention to the
activities of the LVF founder Billy Wright, who lived only
a few miles from Mr O'Hagan and had reportedly attempted to
have Mr O'Hagan murdered in 1992.

That threat led Mr O'Hagan to temporarily move to the
Sunday World office in Dublin, and then to Cork, although
he returned to his family in Lurgan before the paramilitary

October 9, 2006

This article appeared first in the October 7, 2006 edition
of the Irish News.


Opin: Parties Must Inch Towards Resolution

09 October 2006

This is a crucial week in Northern Ireland's tortoise-paced
peace process. The British and Irish governments will want
to see genuine movement towards a resolution of differences
between the DUP and Sinn Fein if there is to be any hope of
a restoration of devolved government in the province.

The November 24 deadline for agreement may not be as
absolute as Secretary of State Peter Hain insists. Indeed,
it would be astonishing if such an arbitrary date was
adhered to if the parties were seen to be inching towards
agreement. But is agreement on the horizon, no matter how

A letter from Mr Hain in advance of the St Andrew's talks
identifies surprisingly few matters of real contention.
These, the Secretary of State, boiled down to two key areas
- policing and changes to the institutions or mechanisms of
devolved government. While few in number, the issues are

For Sinn Fein, taking seats on the Policing Board would
represent a sea-change in attitude of historic proportions.
The republican movement has never recognised the legitimacy
of the state, never mind its forces of law and order. But,
by taking part in the previous devolved administration
here, Sinn Fein has already crossed the Rubicon in relation
to recognition of Northern Ireland. The party leadership
has been cautiously preparing members for the next step,
recognition of a reformed police force and administration
of new justice legislation.

The DUP has also been trying to prise itself of its
historic hooks - no power-sharing with republicans and
denunciation of the Good Friday Agreement. It is
interesting that Dr Paisley has suggested any future
agreement would require endorsement both by a referendum
and a new election to the NI Assembly. Why raise such a
scenario if agreement was inconceivable?

Both Sinn Fein and the DUP realise that they have volatile
constituencies and a lot of historic baggage to discard.
Both have gained electoral advantage in their communities,
but they also know that such advantage can be eroded. They
have the recent examples of the UUP and SDLP as warnings on
this issue.

Neither party wants to sacrifice its political status and,
thus, neither is likely to move much in advance of its core
constituency. That sets the scene for tough talking in
Scotland this week with little expectation of a seismic

The lack of any great optimism may be no bad thing in the
longer run. What would be really disheartening would be no
sign of tangible forward movement. Political instability is
in no-one's interest. The province needs a resolution of
the peace process sooner rather than later.


Opin: Time For Dr No To Don Sack Cloth And Ashes

(James Kelly, Irish News)

Just when we were sitting back enjoying the comparative
peace and quiet of these early October days along come the
political fortune tellers to warn that seismic shocks may
be on the way with earthquake vibrations shuddering the
palace of Stormont and the Devolution showdown across the
sea at St Andrew's in Scotland.

Who is to blame for our misfortune here in poor old
benighted Neverneverland? You all know who? It is the
Doctor No, the long time bull-in-the-Ulster-china-shop.

Earlier in his ascent of the sectarian ladder he was dubbed
a "back-street Savonarola" by an old time Stormont
minister, Roy Bradford.

Since then Dr No, one Ian Paisley, DUP boss and self-
appointed wee pope of the breakaway Free Presbyterian
Church which he founded years ago as its perpetual
moderator, an anti-Catholic Pope-hater through the years he
became the acknowledged leader of the sectarian bigots and
notorious political dinosaur, the embodiment of the ancient
war cries of the sick counties, 'No Surrender', 'Never-
Never-Never', 'No Pope Here'.

Prime minister Tony Blair, in response to the IMC report,
says it's acceptance of the fact that the IRA's campaign is
over provides a "unique opportunity" for the Ulster parties
to reach a final settlement on power sharing at next week's
talks at St Andrew's. This after Paisley's private chat
with Blair at 10 Downing Street led to some excitable
unionist apologists to talk of a dramatic deal in the
offing. But Paisley quickly reverted to type with a
blockbuster interview ridiculing any face-to-face talks
with Sinn F‚in beyond a possible photo-opportunity at the
opening of the conference at the luxury hotel at St

"The time for talking is now over" he declared. "No, we
will not be talking to them at all" he claimed that he
would lay down the law with a list of demands the same as
at Leeds Castle; the end of republican paramilitarism and
the acceptance of the police at the top of the pile.

He did not believe in the threat of a deadline by secretary
of state Hain and suggested an election to endorse whatever
"package" emerged. Interesting and demonstrating his
supreme contempt for the worried lesser mortals was his
surprise admission that he was willing to concede increased
rate and water charges under direct rule!

The old bigot could not resist the snide comment; "I will
pay very much for holy water in the future". Joke over.

On Monday, a day before the 'Alice in Wonderland' encounter
at St Andrew's Paisley - minus his dog collar - has at
least agreed to meet the Catholic Primate of all Ireland,
Archbishop Brady at Stormont.

The fact that this long postponed meeting should come on
the eve of the St Andrew's event prompts the suspicion that
the old chancer hopes that this will be grist to the mill
in furtherance of his boast that it was only when he
started playing hard-ball that Sinn F‚in started living up
to their commitments.

It is said he's hoping the archbishop will push Sinn F‚in
further along the road of policing issue.

It says much for Dr Brady's tolerance that he has been
persuaded to meet this grotesque bigot who has left such a
train of wreckage behind him over the years.

The old bully boy, who once dished them out to Gerry Adams,
should don sack cloth and ashes on his arrival at Stormont
on Monday for the vituperation and insults he has handed
out to Dr Brady and earlier to the late Pope John Paul II
at Strasbourg to the disgust of the members of the European

There was a time long ago when the Herr Doktor might have
got a well-merited belt from a Crozier for such behaviour
but these are more liberal days when all sorts of dangerous
fools are set loose on our street by the courts.

Sad but true.

Finally, did you ever see such a mess in the pro loyalist
press in the reporting and comment on the latest
Independent Monitoring Commissions Report? Thousands of
words Himing and Hawing over the commission's clean bill of
health given to the IRA and no mention, except in an after-
thought to the blatant murders, criminality, drug peddling
and extortion, of the UVF and UDA. Did Paisley even mention
their terrorism? They are even demanding cash rewards
running into tens of thousands in return for a ceasefire.

October 9, 2006

This article appeared first in the October 7, 2006 edition
of the Irish News.


Opin: Empey - Governments Key To Success Of North Talks


The Irish and British governments must push the DUP and
Sinn F‚in very hard in the Scotland talks if a decade of
hard work by others is not to be squandered, writes Sir Reg

The Ulster Unionist Party exists to maintain and promote
the Union. This is what we have been doing now for over 100
years. To achieve this goal, we must make Northern Ireland
work for everyone.

We set out on a course of action over 10 years ago and now
it seems that the pioneering work that we began, the risks
we took and the strategy that we adopted, are reaching

Following the publication of the IMC report and looking
forward to the talks in Scotland, the pressure now moves to
Sinn F‚in to complete the journey to exclusively peaceful
means through a wholehearted endorsement of the Police
Service of Northern Ireland. In the past we did much of the
heavy lifting on contentious issues for unionism, now it is
long overdue for Sinn F‚in to do the heavy lifting on

In the past the process has faltered and spluttered because
Sinn F‚in have tried to "bowl in short". The
decommissioning issue was an example of this.

The half-way house option which Sinn F‚in adopted on arms
and were let away with by the British and Irish governments
is not going to work for them on policing. It either
supports the police or it doesn't.

As much as Sinn F‚in may wish otherwise, there is room for
only one police service in Northern Ireland and private
armies or former prisoners won't fit into that scenario.

I sincerely hope it completes the journey which has taken
so long and caused so many avoidable tragedies and
unnecessary loss of life. The sooner this happens the
better. However it seems that there are some parties that
are already coming up with excuses to avoid doing a deal at
St Andrews to break the deadlock.

Since the 2005 Westminster elections, the DUP has been
beating its chests and hailing a new dawn where "pushover"
unionism no longer existed. You would think DUP members
were brimming with confidence. But there is a fundamental
dichotomy facing the DUP.

In order for Ian Paisley to maintain some form of control
and influence over the unionist community, he needed one
crucial commodity: fear. This fear manifested itself
through his number one soundbite: "sell-out".

"Sell-out" incorporated our government trying to sell us
out, my own party had sold out, the agreement was a sell-
out. This ability to tap into unionism's "fear" has served
Ian Paisley and his agenda for the last 40 years.

Now, ironically, this same fear that was so successful for
the DUP paralyses its own thinking. How can a party that
sat on the sidelines for so long and criticised every
single unionist initiative now present a few operational
details and minor tweaks to the agreement as being a "fair
deal"? This is the gamble that it has to take and
ultimately for the DUP it will come down to presentation.

The stalling, hardballing and supposed grass-roots unionist
consultation are merely window-dressing for the inevitable
- powersharing with Sinn F‚in.

This will be such a massive shift in position for a party
that promised to "smash Sinn F‚in" that it is little wonder
that they will want to play it as long as possible.

That is why a real, dedicated and focused push from the
prime minister, secretary of state and Irish government is
needed. Otherwise we may well squander the years of effort,
blood, sweat and tears that my party and others have
invested since 1996 and indeed before.

We would also be squandering the opportunity to re-
establish a devolved Assembly and Executive and ensure that
Northern Ireland, like our Scottish and Welsh counterparts
within the Union, have local decision-makers making local

Nobody can argue that there has not been a level of
commitment shown to us in Northern Ireland unlike any shown
in the recent past by the prime minister and Taoiseach;
however, the implementation and holding to account of the
commitments given by some parties have not been what they
should have been.

Because of this lack of holding to account, the secretary
of state should understand the scepticism that has existed
about the November 24th deadline. Never before in this
process has any deadline been kept; look at
decommissioning, for example.

The UUP believes, however, that despite the past, now is
the time to decide whether or not it is possible to re-
establish Stormont. We have had long enough, over 10 years,
and we will make our decision when we see everything that
is on the table.

There must be no procrastination at St Andrews or allowing
parties to walk away saying that what they will not do in
November, they will be able to do in the spring. This
government strategy, which was a failure in the past, will
lead to failure again.

That's why I repeat the importance of getting it right this
time once and for all.

 Sir Reg Empey is leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

c The Irish Times


Opin: Robert McCartney - The Nefarious Mr Peter Hain

Would a return to devolved government in Northern Ireland
lead to fairer rates and a reversal of the proposed radical
reform of our education system? Robert McCartney QC MLA
argues that such promises are only NIO propaganda aimed at
forcing unionists to share power with Sinn Fein.

09 October 2006

Peter Hain has now confessed that, since coming to Northern
Ireland, he has been guilty of nefarious conduct.

One assumes that he is aware that, properly defined,
nefarious means wicked, evil, or sinful. One might even
conclude that arrogant political bullying falls within the

The past few months have witnessed a rising tide of NIO
propaganda about the utopian benefits of a return to
devolved government.

Most of this has been orchestrated by the nefarious Mr

All of it, on examination, proves to be if not nefarious
then certainly untruthful and misleading.

Being economical with the truth, as in the claimed
existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has
become an article of faith among New Labour ministers.

Indeed, the rule is, if the truth cannot be avoided then it
must be buried on a day of other more newsworthy events.

In this context, some of the Secretary of State's alleged
benefits of a return to Stormont bear examination.

First, there is the claim that the new uncapped rating
system is fair but, suggests Mr Hain, if the people of
Northern Ireland want an unfair system of capping, a
restored Assembly will be able to provide one.

Even a political fool can see the illogical nonsense of
this proposition. If the new system is fair then surely the
NIO is under a moral duty to maintain it for the claimed
benefit of the citizens of Northern Ireland.

The truth is that the NIO knows that any comparison with
the mainland demonstrates its manifest unfairness.

In a recent BBC Let's Talk programme, Minister Hanson was
unable to persuade a single member of the audience that the
new rating system was fair.

The prospect of change is held out solely as an inducement
to support the Government's push for devolution, and the
threat to retain it is the blackmailing cudgel against
those who resist enforced coalition with a party that is
inextricably linked with social terror and criminality.

What, however, is even more nefarious is the suggestion
that a devolved Assembly could change the system if the
Assembly was restored.

At present, this is simply untrue. The Assembly could only
change the Order in Council if it was agreed by a cross
community vote of a majority in each community.

Sinn Fein is totally opposed to any system of capping and
banding, so bang goes any prospect of change.

Another claim of the nefarious Mr Hain is that a restored
Assembly could alter and amend the destructive changes to
our educational system but, here again, such changes which
will destroy the best post-primary education in the United
Kingdom can only be partially changed in a devolved
Assembly with the support of Sinn Fein.

However, it was Sinn Fein's former education minister,
Martin McGuinness who originated what Mr Hain now proposes,
so the prospect of Sinn Fein giving cross community support
for the maintenance of differential education and the
survival of the grammar schools is nil.

Once again, the blackmailing threat inherent in the
Government's attitude is exposed by its claim to be
introducing a fairer and better system of education.

If this is truly the case, it should not be offering a
devolved Assembly an opportunity to preserve, even in part,
an unfair and allegedly inferior system.

In both the case of rates and education, what the nefarious
Mr Hain is offering is an illusion intended to persuade
house owners and parents alike that if they pressurise
unionist politicians to agree a return to Stormont all will
be well; when this is patently untrue.

Those who in good faith voted YES in the referendum which
approved the Belfast Agreement and the resultant Assembly
should remember that it was the devolved Assembly which
commissioned the Rating Review which favoured the Capital
Value system now about to be put in place.

Indeed, when the writer told the Assembly in June 2002 as
to what the system would mean for young families with big
mortgages, and pensioners on fixed incomes, the response of
the responsible Executive minister, Sean Farren (SDLP) was:
"What is the relevance of this?"

It was the failure of the parties who negotiated the
Belfast Agreement, principally the Ulster Unionists and the
SDLP, to secure adequate capital provision to make good 30
years of under-investment under direct rule that later
forced the Executive to consider Rate Revision and Water
Charges as sources of revenue - a situation which Minister
Hanson has frequently reminded them of and which explains
their hitherto low profile on the rates issue.

The iniquity of the proposed rate increases has been
underlined at the Labour Party Conference.

When it was suggested that Northern Ireland was a guinea
pig test-bed for a Capital Value rating system for later
use on the mainland, the Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister was swift to deny that such was the case.

Clearly, the electoral consequences of such a proposal for
England was very much in mind.

The greatest possible danger of the myth that a return to
devolved government will enable a reversal of unpopular
direct rule policies is that under a devolved government
such policies will be, in fact, irreversible.

Once they are in place, backed by Sinn Fein, with a
permanent veto they can never be changed.

At least under direct rule there is a possibility that
central government policy may be changed.

At present the Education Minister, Alan Johnson, has
accepted that, in England, primary schools have failed five
million children by using methods of teaching "reading"
that are now being imposed in Northern Ireland under the
so-called 'enriched curriculum'.

Similarly, a review of the rating system in England may
expose Capital Values as an inherently unfair approach.

A Conservative government might equally bring about a
rethink on these issues.

Ultimately, the provision of public services depends on the
availability of money.

Whether Northern Ireland is governed under direct rule or
by a devolved government, the British Treasury will
determine the extent of Northern Ireland's funding.

In Northern Ireland we pay more for electricity, gas, food,
and transport than anywhere else in the UK. We have higher
levels of unemployment, child poverty, disability, and a
lower level of average industrial wage.

Our housing costs, which were once an advantage, are now
approaching mainland levels.

Despite this, we are constantly being told that, since we
pay less local taxes than on the mainland, these are to be
increased to levels far beyond those payable in England,
where the ability to pay is greater.

The policies of Mr Hain have got nothing to do with
fairness. They are, in fact, an integral part of an ongoing
strategy of disengagement.

A devolved Assembly Belfast Agreement-style was the central
mechanism for implementing that strategy.

Now that Plan A is in a process of final collapse, the
shape of Plan B is beginning to emerge.

Stage one is to make life for the British citizens of
Northern Ireland so difficult and unpleasant that they can
be deceived or pressurised into the original devolved
mechanism for disengagement.

In the event of stage one failing then stage two will be a
veiled form of joint authority accompanied by a programme
of economic hardship that will make even Irish citizenship
seem attractive. Messrs Hain and Hanson are deaf to reason
and fairness.

Only public protest and a refusal to pay the increases have
any prospect of making the Government think again.

Do not ask what someone else can do? Ask yourself what you
can do?

And bear in mind that your apathy is Mr Hain's greatest


A Homecoming For Ireland's Iconic Bluesman

Olivia Kelleher

Rory Gallagher's first guitar, bought for him by his
parents when he was nine, on display at the Homecoming:
Rory Gallagher exhibition.

Memorabilia relating to the life of Ireland's most famous
bluesman, Rory Gallagher, including the guitar he played
when he won a talent competition at the age of 12, will go
on display today at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork city.

Homecoming: Rory Gallagher tells the story of the
musician's life through interactive exhibits, listening
posts and footage of one of Rory's concerts broadcast in an
auditorium space.

Wherever Gallagher went in the world he sent home postcards
to his mother, Monica. His brother Donal also kept a
scrapbook of material throughout his school years.

Following Mrs Gallagher's death last year, the family
uncovered boxes full of Rory's personal correspondence at
her home.

Donal also uncovered suitcases Rory had left in the house
when he came back from tour. Some of the suitcases had not
been opened in 30 years and proved to be a treasure trove
of material for the exhibit.

The exhibit will also feature exclusive images from rock
photographer Fin Costello's archive.

Costello is noted for his iconic shots of musicians and
rock groups, such as Mick Jagger, Kiss, Aerosmith, Deep
Purple and Ozzy Osbourne.

Ben Cuddihy, general manager of the Triskel Arts Centre,
says the exhibition is a "unique restrospective portrait of
Rory as a recording artist and live performer". It runs at
Lavitts Quay, Cork, from October 9th to November 10th next.

Meanwhile, close to 2,000 people have signed a petition
urging Cork County Council to rename Cork International
Airport after Gallagher.

Although born in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, Gallagher grew
up in Cork and it was in the city that he started his
musical career with the Fontana Showband, moving on to
bands Impact and Taste before embarking on a solo career.

Gallagher died of liver failure in London in 1995 and is
buried in Cork city. He is regularly credited as one of the
most influential Irish rock and blues musicians of all

The organiser of the petition, Richard Seamon, a blues fan
from Cheshire in England, says there "would be no better
way" to keep Gallagher's memory alive than by petitioning
the relevant authorities to rename Cork airport as Cork
Rory Gallagher airport.

c The Irish Times


New Housing 'A Threat' To Villages

Tim O'Brien

Rows of suburban style, three and four bedroom semi-
detached houses spreading from Dublin deep into the
countryside are threatening traditional villages, according
to the Irish Planning Institute.

The institute yesterday called on local authorities to
ensure better design and location for new houses. Earlier
this year the Heritage Council said much of the new
development around existing towns was unsympathetic to the
existing built heritage.

The institute also criticised one-off rural housing, saying
people who wished to live in the countryside should be
encouraged to "live within the rural community" where there
is a local school and a shop on their doorstep.

Such people should also be encouraged to live in a way that
values, protects and revitalises the built heritage of a
rural village, according to the institute.

Speaking at the presentation of prizes at Louth Local
Authorities' Design and Conservation awards, the president
of the Irish Planning Institute, Henk van der Kamp, said
housing development in villages should adopt good design to
avoid unnecessary suburbanisation.

The institute believes suburbanisation is putting
traditional Irish villages under threat because ranks of
standard housing are being tacked on to the outskirts of
such villages.

"Local authorities need to push more to ensure that new
houses in rural areas respect the landscape they are
slotting into and also to encourage good modern design. We
need to move away from the 'one size fits all' bulky
monotonous styles that we see across the country," he said.

"It is vital for councils in framing policies that they do
not lose sight of the impact of unsustainable one-off rural
housing on rural villages.

"Too often the experience of new housing in the countryside
in many parts of Ireland has been one of poor repetitive
designs, badly sited and little attempt to integrate into
the landscape."

c The Irish Times


Town's Residents To Give Verdict On Dingle Or An Daingean

Anne Lucey

Kate O'Connor, Dan O'Keeffe and Fergus O'Flaherty erecting
"Vote Yes" posters in An Daingean ahead of a plebescite
this week on changing the town's name back to Dingle.

A vote to gauge opinion in An Daingean on a return to the
name Dingle begins today when ballot papers will be posted
to some 1,222 residents and ratepayers of the west Kerry
Gaeltacht town.

This is the number found to be "qualified electors" after
two periods of public consultation.

It is expected there will be an overwhelming majority in
favour of the proposed application for a Government order
changing the name of An Daingean to the bilingual "Dingle
Daingean U¡ Ch£is".

However, more than 50 per cent of the electorate - 612
people - must vote in favour for the plebiscite to be

The town's official name was changed two years ago under
the Official Languages Act. The plebiscite follows a
resolution by Kerry County Council last May.

Yesterday the town was ablaze in the local red and white
colours with Yes posters dotting the streets and approach
roads, and the name Dingle scrawled in handwriting on the
official signpost of "An Daingean".

It is believed that while most people in the largely
English-speaking town want a return to Dingle, many in the
Irish-speaking hinterland wish to see An Daingean retained.

An attempt by Sinn F‚in to widen the plebiscite to include
the whole of the Gaeltacht peninsula failed at a recent
meeting of Kerry County Council. Former mayor of Kerry
Toireasa Ferris warned the "Gaeltacht status" of the town's
hospitals and schools and other services serving the whole
of the community could be affected, and the town might be
taken out of the Gaeltacht altogether.

Campaigners for a return to Dingle include those involved
in tourism and Fine Gael councillor and general election
candidate S‚amus Cosai Fitzgerald.

Last week Minister for the Gaeltacht amon O Cu¡v said it
was not possible legally to have an English or a bilingual
name in a Gaeltacht area.

c The Irish Times
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