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October 30, 2006

SF: Outstanding NI Issues Can Be Addressed

News About Ireland & The Irish

RT 10/30/06 Outstanding NI Issues Can Be Addressed: SF
BT 10/30/06 Dissent In DUP's Rank-And-File As Deadline Looms

IT 10/30/06 DUP Says It Doubts Sinn Féin Can Make Deadline
IT 10/30/06 Bomb Find Seen As 'Threat' To Powersharing
IN 10/30/06 IRA Member One Of Four Weekend Road Victims
BT 10/30/06 Billy Wright Murder Documents 'Missing'
IT 10/30/06 Archbishop Promotes Benefits Of Visit To Ireland By Pope
IN 10/30/06 Pope Talks Of Peace Process As Visit Speculation Mounts
BB 10/30/06 Unionists 'Against Papal Visit'
BN 10/30/06 Dublin & Monaghan Bombing Inquiry To Ask For More Time
IN 10/30/06 Claudy Report To Confirm Conspiracy To Move Priest
BB 10/30/06 Mixed Housing Scheme Is Launched
IT 10/30/06 Opin: Bernadette McAliskey - Negotiating War & Peace
IN 10/30/06 Opin: Dissidents Have Nothing To Offer
NH 10/30/06 Opin: Referendums 'R Us?
BT 10/30/06 Passengers Face Chaos As Baggage Rules Are Changed Again
BT 10/30/06 'Almost Too Late' To Stop A Global Catastrophe
MH 10/30/06 Death Of Embalming - EU Considers Banning Formaldehyde
BB 10/30/06 Work Begins On Maze Prison Site


Outstanding NI Issues Can Be Addressed: SF

29 October 2006 21:52

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said outstanding issues
in Northern Ireland could be addressed by the November
deadline, but only if the DUP engages in talks with his

Speaking to RTÉ News, Mr Adams said Sinn Féin supported
policing once it has delivered within the framework of the
Good Friday Agreement.

He also said he did not want the British or Irish
governments making short-term concessions for the sake of
pacifying the DUP.


Dissent In DUP's Rank-And-File As Deadline Looms

By Noel McAdam
30 October 2006

Growing signs of disquiet amid the DUP rank-and-file and
supporters over details of the St Andrews Agreement are
emerging, with just over ten days before all the parties
are required to say whether they are signing up.

While the party leadership has clearly signalled it is, on
balance, in favour of the St Andrews package, it is this
week continuing its province-wide series of consultations
with grassroots members.

A former councillor meanwhile has called on the party's
MPs, Assembly members and councillors to "have the courage
of their convictions" and tell the leadership it is wrong.

Walter Millar, who served on Cookstown council until 1993,
said he found it "beyond belief" that Ian Paisley and the
DUP would agree to a coalition government with "Sinn
Fein/IRA as a result of the Belfast Agreement Mark Two."

In a letter to the News Letter today, he argued the present
deal is worse than the 1974 Sunningdale and 1985 Anglo-
Irish Agreement. Deputy leader Peter Robinson, meanwhile,
did not deny that at one meeting he and party leader Ian
Paisley were told that people would rather pay the higher
water charges than see Martin McGuinness in government.

But he rejected claims that some who have joined the DUP in
recent years were being described as "Trimble blow-ins".

Speaking on the weekend BBC Inside Politics programme, Mr
Robinson said he would be "very surprised" if the November
24 deadline for the supposed appointment of Mr Paisley as
First Minister and Mr McGuinness as Deputy FM is met.

"There seems to be every indication that Sinn Fein will not
be ready (and) as far as we're concerned there will be no
jumping first by the Democratic Unionist Party," he said.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the remarks of the
East Belfast MP were "entirely predictable".

"When the DUP put up its entirely bogus demand that Sinn
Fein take an 'oath of loyalty to the PSNI before the
nomination of the First and Deputy First Ministers
designate', many in the Sinn Fein leadership said that this
was really only an excuse to forestall those appointments,"
he said.

"Sinn Fein is very conscious of the difficulties facing the
DUP. But Ian Paisley will not overcome these difficulties
by creating new ones.

"It was never going to be easy to bring rejectionist
unionists into a better place. Sinn Fein is not naïve on
these matters. But we will persist with this task."

As the DUP also continued to come under fire from Ulster
Unionists, in particular over proposals for an Irish
language act, DUP Assembly man Nelson McCausland said: "The
DUP is presently consulting widely on the issue of the St
Andrews Agreement and has not yet reached any conclusion."


DUP Says It Doubts Sinn Féincan Make Deadline

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

The DUP does not expect a shadow First Minister and Deputy
First Minister to be chosen by a restored Assembly on
November 24th, Peter Robinson has said.

The party deputy leader believes "there is every indication
that Sinn Féin will not be ready" and he doubted republican
willingness to call a special ardfheis to assent to backing
the police, courts and the rule of law.

Citing the DUP's ability to call its membership at short
notice to discuss the St Andrews Agreement, Mr Robinson
said: "Perhaps we are more capable logistically than the
republicans. I rather suspect that if they had the will to
do it, they could have their ardfheis, they could have
their decision taken," he told BBC Radio Ulster at the

Republicans could take all the time they needed, he added,
warning that the DUP would not move on anything without
what he called "upfront delivery" on policing from Sinn

The two main unionist and nationalist parties remain at
loggerheads over the question of a pledge of office to be
taken by shadow ministers elected by the Assembly on
November if the two governments' plan for restoration runs
to plan.

The DUP is demanding, among other things, that any
republican nominee to the post of Deputy First Minister
pledge support for the PSNI and the administration of

Sinn Féin says it cannot pre-empt a special ardfheis needed
to revise the position on support for the police.
Government officials are continuing to meet party
representatives amid an atmosphere of growing frustration
in London and Dublin at the intractability of the problem.

Republican sources suggest an ardfheis has to have details
of the devolution of police and justice powers to enable an
ardfheis debate to take place. Mr Adams hit back at the DUP
yesterday saying Mr Robinson's remarks were "entirely

"When the DUP put up its entirely bogus demand that Sinn
Féin take an 'oath of loyalty to the PSNI before the
nomination of the First and Deputy First Ministers
designate', many in the Sinn Féin leadership said this was
really only an excuse to forestall those appointments."

The Sinn Féin president said his party was conscious of the
difficulties facing the DUP.

"But Ian Paisley will not overcome these difficulties by
creating new ones. It was never going to be easy to bring
rejectionist unionists into a better place. Sinn Féin is
not naive on these matters. But we will persist with this

The SDLP last night dismissed the difficulties between the
DUP and Sinn Féin and called on both parties to heed the
will of the electorate.

South Down Assembly member Margaret Ritchie said: "There is
absolutely no reason why we cannot meet the deadline to get
a First Minister and Deputy First Minister elected next
month. All it requires is for Sinn Féin and the DUP to live
up to what the people of Ireland signed up for 1998 - a
lawful society and an inclusive democracy."

© The Irish Times


Bomb Find Seen As 'Threat' To Powersharing

Dan Keenan

Northern parties believe the discovery of a dissident republican
bomb in Co Carlow highlights the threat posed to efforts to
restore the Stormont institutions.

The Army said yesterday the device consisted of a hollowed-out
gas cylinder packed with improvised explosives. It was made safe
early yesterday.

"There was a tube coming from it which indicated it was primed
for detonation. It indicated it was ready to use in the near
future." The find follows a warning on Friday by the PSNI chief
constable that dissident elements would do everything possible to
disrupt the political process in the run up to the November 24th
deadline for agreement on powersharing at Stormont. Sir Hugh Orde
said republicans opposed to Sinn Féin and the Belfast Agreement
are "trying to show their hand" and are "looking to up their

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "They are a big risk at the
moment. We've a lot of effort going in [ to stop them]."

Referring to ongoing political efforts involving the DUP and Sinn
Féin to reach agreement on sharing power in a Stormont executive,
he added that dissidents were "going to do whatever they can to
make the thing difficult".

"They are dangerous. They are determined to ruin the process," he
said, adding: "I'm very concerned." Sir Hugh has regularly
commented on the level of dissident threat, usually insisting
that the PSNI and Garda are capable of frustrating attempts to
derail the political process.

Recent reports by the Independent Monitoring Commission, the
British and Irish governments' paramilitary watchdog, support the
view that both the Real IRA and Continuity IRA are active,
committed and trying to procure weapons and members.

Nationalists and unionists welcomed the discovery of the bomb and
warned that dissidents will do anything to frustrate the
political process. SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said:
"It is fairly clear to most of us [ that] both IRA dissidents,
Real IRA or Continuity, are determined to create as much havoc as
possible in the run up to November 24th and in the run up to

"It is unfortunate these crazy people feel . . . they are
furthering the interests of the Irish people by creating havoc
and disruption.

"We have had enough havoc over the last 40 years to last forever.
What we have got to do now is move on politically and

He called on police on both sides of the Border to "ruthlessly
confront any disruptive activity".

Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy agreed: "The find in
itself is very welcome and obviously anything that will prevent
serious harm to property or any risk to lives in Northern Ireland
is to be welcomed. It points to a level of threat which appears
to be increasing either from the Real IRA or the Continuity IRA."

Sinn Féin, which has repeatedly dismissed dissident republicans
as "micro-groups", called on them to halt all activity.

The Real IRA mounted an extensive campaign in August, destroying
large stores in Newry, Co Down, targeting the Belfast-Dublin
railway and leaving an improvised bomb at a house being built for
Lord [ Eddie] Haughey at Hackballscross, Co Louth. At the time
Sir Hugh said dissidents were "people stuck in the past". He
said: "We will take them out of circulation but it is also up to
the community to take steps to ensure their young people are not

© The Irish Times


IRA Member One Of Four Weekend Road Victims

By Staff Reporter

One of two men killed in a weekend road crash outside Newry was
an IRA member, republican sources have said.

Gerard Fearon (26), from Dromintee in south Armagh, was a
passenger in a Renault Clio van involved in a collision with two
cars on Friday night. He died later in Daisy Hill hospital in

Mr Fearon is expected to have an IRA funeral today.

Father-of-two Stephen Shields (44), from Cloghogue, Co Armagh,
was also killed instantly in the crash in his Peugeot 406 taxi.
His funeral will take place tomorrow.

Fr Benedict Fee, parish priest of Dromintee, said the community
was “deeply shocked” at the death of Mr Fearon.

“Gerard was a very popular and likeable young man from a good
family,” he said.

Republican sources last night confirmed Mr Fearon was an IRA
member and his funeral today is expected to include military

On Saturday morning a man was taken to hospital after a two-
vehicle crash on the Ballynahinch Road in Annahilt, Co Down. He
died last night.

Meanwhile, two men and a woman were taken to hospital after a
crash in Ballymena early yesterday morning.

It happened shortly after 1am on the Old Cullybackey Road. Only
one car was involved.

Ireland’s roads also claimed the life of a baby boy at the

The 22-month-old baby, named last night as Evon Keane of
Charnwood Grove of Clonsilla in Dublin, was struck by a car at
about 2.10pm on Saturday near his home.


Billy Wright Murder Documents 'Missing'

By Chris Thornton
30 October 2006

Documents relating to the murder of Billy Wright have gone
missing, the inquiry into the LVF chief's killing was expected to
reveal today.

The inquiry starts a week of preliminary hearings in Belfast,
concentrating on "document recovery" by the Northern Ireland
Prison Service.

Those hearings take place almost a year after the inquiry issued
a 28-day order for the production of documents.

The inquiry panel is also expected to rule on requests for
anonymity by a number of witnesses, mainly prison officers.

Wright (37) was murdered by INLA members on December 27, 1997,
inside the Maze Prison where he was serving a sentence for
threatening to kill a woman.

The inquiry was set up to examine allegations of collusion. Both
RUC Special Branch and MI5 knew of threats against Wright before
he was killed, according to an official report into his death.

Full hearings into the LVF leader's death are not now due to
begin until next autumn.

Problems with the production of documents have been a major
factor in the delay. A year ago the inquiry ordered various
agencies to comply, but in May this year it emerged that the PSNI
- and possibly MI5 - had not complied with the orders.

In May, the NIO and the Prison Service said they had produced all
required documents, but the inquiry was expected to reveal today
that some Prison Service papers have gone missing.

"The Northern Ireland Prison Service has made strenuous efforts
to recover all document requested by the Billy Wright Inquiry," a
Prison Service spokesman said.

The disappearance of some material may be related to the closure
of the Maze Prison, where the murder took place.

But if any of the material is sensitive, the disappearance may
fuel loyalist claims that Wright's murder was the product of a
security plot to end his opposition to the peace process.

The start of the inquiry has also been delayed by a court case
over the legal basis for the inquiry.

David Wright, the father of the murdered LVF leader, is
challenging the decision to hold hearings under the Inquiries
Act, recent legislation that gives the Secretary of State greater
secrecy powers.


Archbishop Promotes Benefits Of Pastoral Visit To Ireland By Pope

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent, in Rome

A pastoral visit by Pope Benedict to Ireland, north and south,
would be "very helpful in addressing the present needs of the
Irish Church", the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has

He also felt that, were such a visit to take place, it should not
be as an add-on to a papal visit elsewhere, such as Britain for

Speaking in Rome after he and the other Irish bishops had a
general audience with Pope Benedict on Saturday at the end of
their two-week ad limina visit to the Vatican, Archbishop Martin
drew particular attention to remarks on clerical child sex abuse
in the pope's address and what he [ the pope] referred to as
"this time of purification" in the Irish Catholic Church.

The archbishop recalled that "he said to make sure the truth
becomes known, that the whole truth must come out. That has been
very much my policy."

Archbishop Martin felt the reception given the Irish bishops by
the pope and various Vatican congregations and councils they met
during the ad limina visit had been "encouraging".

At a press conference in the Irish College, conducted by Bishop
Joseph Duffy of Clogher, Bishop Patrick Walsh of Down and Connor,
and Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, following Saturday's general
audience with the pope, Bishop Duffy said the visit had been
"very satisfactory from the bishops' point of view".

The Roman Curia had been "very supportive and understanding of
our particular problems", he said.

Bishop Smith also pointed out that the statement issued by the
diocese of Ferns last Thursday, after its bishop Dr Denis Brennan
had a private audience with Pope Benedict, had "the clear
approval of the pope". Bishop Brennan had been asked to convey
the pope's sentiments to the people of Ferns, he said.

In his address at Saturday's general audience, Pope Benedict told
the Irish bishops that where clerical child sex abuse was
concerned, "it is important to establish the truth of what
happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to
prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of
justice are fully respected and, above all, to bring healing to
the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes".

He prayed that "this time of purification will enable all God's
people in Ireland to 'maintain and perfect in their lives that
holiness which they have received from God'.

On other matters, the pope spoke about emphasising the positive
in the Christian message and correcting the idea that
"Catholicism is merely 'a collection of prohibitions'."

He addressed declining vocations in Ireland and prayed for
continuing progress towards a lasting peace in the North.

In an address at the beginning of Saturday's general audience,
Ireland's Catholic primate, Archbishop Seán Brady, invited Pope
Benedict to Ireland. "He smiled," was the response, according to
both Archbishop Martin and Bishop Michael Smith.

Archbishop Brady continued that recent changes in Ireland had
brought "social, moral and spiritual challenges. The influence of
secularism has struck Ireland with great speed and intensity.
Dramatic and disorientating changes are taking place, which pose
enormous challenges for the preaching of the Gospel.

"This is particularly manifest in a loss of Christian memory.
Increasing numbers create a false distinction between their
Catholic identity and participation in ecclesial life."

On education, Archbishop Brady told the pope the bishops had been
"particularly anxious to challenge the view that faith-based
education is an obstacle to tolerance and inconsistent with the
demands of an increasingly diverse society" .

On clerical child abuse, he told Pope Benedict no issue had
received more time or attention from the Irish bishops "than the
agonising problem of responding to those who have had their trust
betrayed, their lives devastated and often their faith destroyed
by sexual abuse inflicted on them by some priests and religious".

The abuse had also been "a source of great scandal and
discouragement for the whole Catholic community, including the
great majority of priests and religious", he said.

He also spoke about the Northern peace process and requested that
St Columbanus be proclaimed a co-patron of Europe.

Most bishops showing little interest in healing wounds: Opinion,
page 14

© The Irish Times


Pope Talks Of Peace Process As Visit Speculation Mounts

By William Scholes

CLERICAL sex abuse, the peace process, the fall in vocations and
the importance of Catholic schools were among the issues Pope
Benedict XVI addressed in an audience with Ireland’s bishops.

The Pope’s remarks were his most direct about the Irish Church
during his 18-month pontificate. They came as speculation
intensified of a papal visit to the island.

Archbishop of Armagh Dr Sean Brady formally invited the Pope to
visit Ireland during Saturday’s audience, which closed the
bishops’ two-week ad limina pilgrimage to Rome.

Speaking in English, Benedict said the peace process was “close
to my heart”.

“For many years, Christian representatives of all denominations,
political leaders and many men and women of good will have been
involved in seeking means to ensure a brighter future for
Northern Ireland,” he told the bishops.

“Although the path is arduous, much progress has been made in
recent times. It is my prayer that the committed efforts of those
concerned will lead to the creation of a society marked by a
spirit of reconciliation, mutual respect and willing cooperation
for the common good of all.”

With elections to a new Northern Ireland Assembly proposed for
March, there are suggestions that Benedict could make his oft-
mooted visit to Armagh around that time, possibly in tandem with
a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.

The Pope said the Irish Church had seen “many heart-rending cases
of sexual abuse of minors”, which were “all the more tragic” when
perpetrated by a priest.

Benedict warned the bishops that, for the abuse scandal to be
dealt with effectively, “it is important to establish the truth
of what hap-pened in the past, to take whatever steps are
necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the
principles of justice are fully respected and, above all, to
bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these
egregious crimes”.

The Irish Church is now rolling out a new child-protection
programme called Our Children, Our Church.

The Pope added: “The fine work and selfless dedication of the
great majority of priests and religious in Ireland should not be
obscured by the transgressions of some of their brethren.”

He also noted that vocations in the Irish Church had “fallen
sharply”. He said bishops and priests had a responsibility “to
offer young people an inspiring and attractive vision of the
ordained priesthood”.

On education, the Pope said Ireland was “blessed” with a network
of Catholic schools.

He urged the bishops to exercise vigilance over the quality of
the syllabuses and coursebooks used in schools.

As it becomes increasingly multi-cultural, Ireland – with its
history of emigration – should offer a particularly warm welcome
to the migrants arriving on its shores, the Pope said.

“After centuries of emigration, which involved the pain of
separation for so many families, you are experiencing for the
first time a wave of immigration,” he said.

“Traditional Irish hospitality is finding unexpected new

Benedict also addressed secularism, a familiar theme of his

He said bishops were to help people “recognise the inability of
the secular, materialist culture to bring true satisfaction and

“Even though it is necessary to speak out strongly against the
evils that threaten us, we must correct the idea that Catholicism
is merely ‘a collection of prohibitions’,” he said.

The Pope had opened his remarks with “céad míle fáilte”.

“In the words of a traditional Irish greeting, a hundred thousand
welcomes to you, the bishops of Ireland, on the occasion of your
ad limina visit,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Brady addressed Benedict on behalf of the Irish

He formally invited the Pope to visit Ireland – “come among us in
the footsteps of St Patrick and of your venerable predecessor,
Pope John Paul II”.

Dr Brady told Benedict that the Pope would “discover in Ireland a
country of warm welcome but also of change”.

“In the last seven years, our country has become known for its
rapid economic success,” the Archbishop said.

While this had brought “many welcome benefits”, there were also
“social, moral and spiritual challenges”, Dr Brady said.

Among these was a loss of “Christian memory”, which he said was
part of a European malaise.

For this reason, Dr Brady said the Irish bishops had invited
Benedict to proclaim St Columbanus as a patron saint of Europe.

“In light of the growing loss of Europe’s Christian memory and
heritage and recalling the courage and witness of those who, like
Columbanus, restored that memory in the past, the Church in
Ireland asks you to consider our request that St Columbanus be
proclaimed co-patron of Europe,” Dr Brady said.

The Church would continue to fight for Catholic education, he

“We have been particularly anxious to challenge the view that
faith-based education is an obstacle to tolerance and
inconsistent with the demands of an increasingly diverse
society,” the Archbishop said.

Dr Brady said that, of all the issues, the bishops had give the
greatest attention to the “agonising problem” of responding to
those who had had “their trust betrayed, their lives devastated
and often their faith destroyed” through clerical sexual abuse.

It had been a “discouragement for the whole Catholic community”,
he acknowledged.

Dr Brady said the Irish Church planned to host a conference on
the Pope’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est.


Unionists 'Against Papal Visit'

Unionists could not welcome a visit by the pope to Northern
Ireland at this time, DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said.

An invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to come to Northern Ireland
was issued by Archbishop Sean Brady during a visit to Rome last

It has also been reported that a visit by the Queen could
coincide with Pope Benedict's trip.

However, Mr Campbell said the idea was bizarre and added that he
suspected political motivations.

"People are looking over the next few months and are assuming
that sufficient progress is going to be made to announce a deal,"
the East Londonderry MP said.

"(They) are then saying - what would be a tremendously symbolic
way of promoting a deal and putting a seal on it and they have
come up with this fantasist idea.

"I cannot see how it can possibly work."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/30 10:22:15 GMT


Bombing Inquiry To Ask For More Time

30/10/2006 - 08:43:27

An inquiry into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings is expected
to seek more time this week to complete its work.

The Commission of Investigation led by veteran barrister Paddy
MacEntee was due to report to the Government by midnight
tomorrow, October 31.

But Mr MacEntee has sought another extension of time, which is
expected to be approved by the Government.

It is believed that the latest extension may last for six weeks,
after which the final report will be ready.

The May 1974 bombings in Dublin and Monaghan claimed 33 lives and
injured hundreds of others.

The Dail heard last week that the inquiry has cost 1.8 million
euro (£1.2 million) to date – well below the expense of a

Mr MacEntee is examining the garda investigation into the
atrocities as well as the issue of missing files.

The Taoiseach told the Dail that he acknowledged the wait for the
inquiry’s findings was difficult for victims and survivors of the

He said the Government has been making efforts to ensure maximum
co-operation from the British Government on the issue.

The Commission of Investigation, which was set up under new
legislation, is the first such inquiry of its kind.

Mr MacEntee, 70 – one of the country’s top criminal lawyers – was
chosen to lead the inquiry in April last year.


Claudy Report To Confirm Conspiracy To Move Priest

By Staff Reporter

A report due to be published next month into the 1972 Claudy
bombing is expected to confirm that the Catholic Church, the
British government and RUC conspired to move a potential suspect.

Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan has been investigating allegations
that the three colluded to move Fr James Chesney out of the area
after nine people including three children were killed when three
no-warning IRA bombs exploded.

The then assistant chief constable, Sam Kinkaid, has previously
said that police found documentary evidence that Fr Chesney was
involved in the bombings.

Mr Kinkaid also alleged that other documentary evidence implied
that the then secretary of state William Whitelaw and Catholic
Cardinal William Conway discussed Fr Chesney’s involvement and
that the priest was subsequently moved to a parish in Co Donegal.

Fr Chesney, who was never questioned about the bombings, died in

Mrs O’Loan is expected to publish her findings next month and
acc-ording to RTE News it is understood that she may conclude
that the Church, the British government and RUC did conspire to
move Fr Chesney from the jurisdiction.

RTE reported that during her investigation Mrs O’Loan inspect-ed
documents which suggested at the highest level there were
contacts to move Fr Chesney.

Mrs O’Loan’s office said it would not comment on the
investigation which is “nearing completion”.


Mixed Housing Scheme Is Launched

The first mixed community social housing scheme in Northern
Ireland in a generation is being launched in County Fermanagh.

The 20 families on Carran Crescent outside Enniskillen have
signed up to a charter for their community.

In the Good Friday Agreement, it was envisaged that people should
be able to choose where they wanted to live without intimidation.

Just under 95% of NI estates are segregated on religious grounds.

Shared Future Housing is the Housing Executive's response.

In Carran Crescent, no more than 70% of any one religion will be
allowed and all the residents have signed up to a charter.

Elma Newberry, from the executive's community cohesion unit, said
it has been well supported.

The executive said the pilot scheme would be evaluated and more
schemes were being planned.

'Not social engineering'

Paddy McIntyre, chief executive of the Housing Executive, said
other similar projects were planned.

"All research that has been carried out has shown that there is a
demand from people to live in mixed community housing," he said.

"The difficulty up to now has been safety and security concerns,
which has been the predominant feature in the choice that people

"We are not social engineering. This scheme has been allocated on
the basis of the normal housing selection."

One new tenant, Michelle Johnston, said "everyone on the estate
gets on so well".

"We are all mixed, we are all different religions, we get on so
well and the children play together - that's the way I want to
live," she said.

"I am sure the rest of the people on the estate are the same."

Elma Newberry said everyone in the estate had "signed up in
principle to this neighbourhood charter".

"But it will be their charter. It will not be something that we
will say 'you have to live life like this, or abide by this' -
it's about how you want to live in your area and how you want to
share with your neighbour and what do you want for your children?

"The neighbours here are taking the opportunity to shape their

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/30 07:43:19 GMT


Opin: Bernadette McAliskey - Negotiating War & Peace In The North


Once more, the dust settles, and whatever passes for normality
creeps stealthily in and out of the fading logic of war, writes
Bernadette McAliskey.

I have absolutely no idea under what pressure and for what
reasons Denis Donaldson made a personal choice to become a spy,
an active agent of British intelligence. I have no idea why,
previously, he made a personal choice to be an active member of
the Irish Republican Army. I have no idea why the person who
killed him chose to do so, or under whose orders he did so, and
in whose interest the self-confessed British agent and suspected
double agent was killed.

I could speculate on a range of potential explanations for all
these mysteries: everyone else has. But the questions will now
never really be answered. The tabloid journalist who, in his
paper's words, "hunted him down" claims to have found him within
three hours of deciding to look for him. His assassin followed
soon after. It would not have been impossible for me to have
located Denis and asked him for his account. I wish I had.

Denis was not the first, and may not be the last undercover agent
in the service of the crown in Ireland. He was not the first, and
may not be the last to pay for his decision with his life. That
we should all know and accept these complexities, without an
individual explanation, is a reflection of an inter-island
relationship in which lives are entangled rather than entwined.

Some of the simplest things in life are extremely complicated;
and some of the most complicated, in the last analysis, very
simple. Love, integrity, and whose side you are on are good

Denis Donaldson had a life partner of many years, a daughter, two
sons, three grandchildren, sister, brothers, extended family,
comrades, colleagues, friends and acquaintances. In varying
combinations he was loved, liked, respected by most of these
people. Suddenly the Denis people knew, or more correctly, the
Denis they had constructed in the totality of their relationship
with him, disappeared. The new Denis - British agent, double
agent, vulnerable victim or unscrupulous villain and traitor -
usurped his identity like some mythical Irish changeling.

Every single human being on whom his life had an impact was
required to reconstruct his image and their reality. From the
public images of him offered up in the media, it looked as if
Denis Donaldson was forced by the circumstances of his disclosure
to do the same. Perhaps those who killed him could not permit
that process to come to its logical conclusion. Denis Donaldson
might have told the whole truth to a wider audience than was
healthy for "the peace". I don't know.

For everyone, this complex and painful disentanglement was
informed by many strands in their own lives: personal history and
loss; political history; the need for self-protection; fear of
guilt by association; the depth of personal or collective
betrayal. For some, in its impact on their personal, political or
professional progress and ambition, this discovery might have
created opportunities. All of this reconfiguring had as its
starting point whichever side of the conflict the person was on -
their location, so to speak. The potential locations on the map,
and the number of persons standing on any one of them, were many.

Yet in its complexity, the map remained simple. They were all, in
the last analysis, singularly on their own side. The singular and
personal Denis Donaldson they related to no longer existed. The
new one did not belong to them. They despised, hated, reviled,
even pitied him, in varying degrees; or simply wiped his
existence as a person from the horizon of their own world view.

This denial of the intrinsic humanity of a person, whatever his
or her deed, is a learned self-defence mechanism. This process of
dehumanising the image of the "other" is how most people on all
sides survive the reality of war.

Only the very brave or philosophical will acknowledge the
humanity of their enemy, and their own contribution to the death
and destruction around them, whether by word, deed or omission.
This does not cancel out their own suffering, their own rights,
principles or actions, for which they are willing to be held
accountable. This, to my mind, is crucial to the integrity of
republicanism as a philosophy.

Gerry Adams referred to Denis Donaldson, formerly a key member of
his party, as "this man"; Gerry Kelly called him "that man".
People who did not know him at all called him much worse.
Colleagues, friends, comrades and brothers-in-arms of the old
Denis, many of whom shared his now very public weakness for
"philandering", retreated to some deep overgrown well of Catholic
morality to weigh in the balance of political compromise, the
moral lessons of adultery. Others dismissed the possibility of so
commonplace an activity constituting the source of his
vulnerability. Most didn't care. He had crossed the line. He was
over. The blame lay with him and with the British, who, it now
appeared to the untutored eye, had been spying on themselves
until, in the process of doing so, they had brought their own
institution down around their ears.

It was left to Martin McGuinness to acknowledge that the two
incompatible Denis Donaldsons were the same person, and that
before appearing to change sides, this person had contributed
significantly to the cause of Irish republicanism and Irish

It was left to Anthony McIntyre to point out that, as an agent,
the role of his erstwhile comrade had been to lure the republican
movement down a path of compromise, in which direction McIntyre
considered them to have been already stampeding of their own free
will and consent, without much need for further intrigue.

There was a much smaller group of people for whom the painful re-
evaluation started somewhere else entirely. Particularly in
Belfast, in addition to the complex range of emotions shared as
part of the republican community, these people had to deal with
the reality and implications of their own unique starting point.
They already knew that there was only one Denis: and they loved
him. That simplicity is extremely complex.

Denis Donaldson, life partner - whose weaknesses could be read
like tea leaves by the woman who loved him, lived with him,
forgave him his trespasses, supported him in his tribulation,
comforted him in his grief, laughed, cried, struggled and
survived the trauma of making family life work in the middle of a
war - was not loved because of or in spite of what he was. He was
loved unconditionally for himself. That didn't make him right, or
excusable. It made him loved. Denis as brother, father and
grandfather was loved in the same way.

If men understood this much, women's lives would be easier. Even
when they were angry, distraught and unable to believe that he
could ever be a spy, despite his own testimony to that fact; even
when they were quite at a loss to make sense of it all, fearful
of its implications, and where it might end - in short, no matter
how complicated it became for them, he remained for them
essentially the same person.

Because he needed them now more than at any other time, they
remained unconditionally on his side. He belonged to them still,
and they to him.

IN the period from 1986 to the ceasefire, 19 [ IRA] volunteers in
Tyrone were killed in actions that had been sanctioned by their
military leadership. Almost all those actions were compromised
when agents/informers provided advance notice to British

One of those to die in this series of compromised actions was Jim
Lynagh, killed with his comrades by an SAS ambush of an IRA
operation at Loughgall. It is currently alleged, by the same
media outlet that "outed" Denis Donaldson in Donegal, that
Donaldson was killed in revenge for the death of Jim Lynagh at
Loughgall. The media do not explain why those who died with Jim
are not included in the revenge equation. Most of those who
served with him are also dead.

I knew Jim better than I knew Denis: he was a friend of many
years' standing. On January 16th, 1981, the UDA knocked on my
door with a sledgehammer. It was very early in the morning. They
arrived in a car which, far from being stolen or commandeered,
had been legitimately hired. Documentation relating to the car
hire exists, but has never been fully investigated to this day.

What is known is that the loyalist active service unit who left
my husband and me for dead were betrayed by British intelligence
agents/informers within the ranks of loyalism. They were
permitted to enter the house, do their work, and were arrested
directly on leaving. There were soldiers lying in the ditch at
the door of my house all night. I know this because I spoke with
them, as I returned home from a meeting around 1.30 that morning.

My famous last words may well have been "Have you no homes of
your own to go to, instead of lying outside decent people's
houses, and spying on them?"

I was fully conscious, but too seriously injured to move from
where I lay on the bedroom floor. My would-be-assassin had
discharged all his ammunition: the last shot shattered the bone
in my leg as I lay on my back, my head almost touching his feet.
I have no idea if Mr Watson, who fired that shot, is haunted by
it. At a distance of only several feet, perhaps unnerved by the
ferocity with which my husband had blocked their entry using
nothing but his physical and moral strength, he had fired eight
rounds from his nine-millimetre Browning into my body, and after
a second's pause that stood between me and eternity, fired again.
There was only one shot left. Perhaps he had forgotten that he
had also fired at my husband. Had he known it was the last round,
I assume he would have fired it at my head. Maybe it was too near
his feet.

He walked out of my house, in quiet conversation with his two
comrades, Mr Grahame, whose job it was to shoot my husband, also
left for dead, and Mr Smallwood, who held my two daughters at
gunpoint in their beds. My two-year-old son watched Mr Watson
from the bed onto which I had thrown him to avoid him being
killed in his mother's arms.

Erroneously, as they left, I assumed these assassins were the
soldiers with whom I had spoken some hours before, when I heard a
distinctly English voice call out, "Up against the wall!" I
waited for a shot that I believed might kill a neighbour alerted
by the shooting into coming onto the scene. A Northern Ireland
accent replied, "F*** this for a double cross!"

Some time later, a paratrooper entered the house. I assumed he
had returned to complete the mission. As he stood with his rifle
pointed at my head, and demanded my identity, my potentially
famous last words were less repeatable. He explained that the men
who had invaded my house had been arrested on leaving. Less than
graciously, I inquired why, since he had been lying outside my
house, they had not been arrested before entering it. He informed
me that his orders were to arrest them coming out. I have no
reason to disbelieve him.

Once more, the dust settles, and whatever passes for normality
creeps stealthily in and out of the fading logic of war. People
use the empty space in their psyche for other things, until
finally everybody acknowledges that, for now at any rate, the war
is over.

War, however, is a limited military exercise. The real question
that remains is not about the war, which was a consequence,
rather than a cause. The real question is left unanswered,
temporarily forgotten. It is about equal rights, human rights and
fundamental freedoms. It was the campaign for these things that
descended into war for many reasons too well rehearsed to deserve
space here.

Suffice it to say that the primary responsibility for a fair and
equitable society in the North lay with the Irish and British
governments, both of whom claimed authority over this
jurisdiction either by conquest or constitution - neither by
peaceful means. Both, from the formation of the Irish Free State,
and the amendment of the Government of Ireland Act onwards,
abdicated their duty and responsibilities in relation to the
people of the North.

It confers no honour on the position of either government that
they were finally motivated and mobilised towards negotiating an
end to war, not by the relentless death toll, the grinding
permanent attrition on either side, the rising prison population,
or the passing on of the violence into a second and third
generation, but by the rising vote for Sinn Féin. It does little
honour to Sinn Féin that they were motivated by the same high
principles, namely their belief that the war was preventing their
vote from rising even faster. Principles were abandoned on all
sides in the pretence that greater motives pertained. Overnight,
those who had cautioned against Trojan horses were reconstrued as
militarists by the military men of both islands, now carving up
between them not the spoils of war, but the potential spoils of

Nonetheless, the peace is made and continues to be tortuously
processed. So what progress are we making towards what goals?
Against what targets and indicators will that progress be
measured? Shall we take as our benchmark a renewed understanding
of the futility of war and violence, and learning to live in
peace, in deference to the much-lauded strapline, "no cause is
worth a single life"?

Here we have the spectacle of our neighbouring island, released
from the trauma and cost of war in Ireland, turning to fresh wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan, and currently contemplating another in
Iran. The Republic of Ireland has taken to parading its limited
military hardware up and down O'Connell Street like some tin-pot
military dictatorship in commemoration of an uprising it has
disowned for 40 years. It has shaken the dust off the
Proclamation of 1916, which, among other things, summoned the
Irish nation to war with its neighbours.

Up until very recently, swearing allegiance to this proclamation
could land you in the Special Criminal Court in Green Street.
Now, apparently, for the Government that abandoned its
constitutional right of jurisdiction, it is safe to reclaim the
Easter Rising, the Fenian dead, Óglaigh na hÉireann and the
mantle of republicanism.

With respect to law and order, Sinn Féin roundly and loudly
condemns the looters of vodka, manufacturers of dodgy diesel,
suppliers of stolen cigarettes, and those who flog fake jeans,
DVDs and cannabis, significant numbers of whom bear an uncanny
physical resemblance to members or former members of Óglaigh na
hÉireann, to give the IRA its proper title.

The UDA and UVF have chosen to interpret their inability to
secure more than 1 per cent of the ballot box, with or without
the bullet, as a form of social exclusion that justifies not only
their continuation of hate-based attacks on Catholics, but a
whole new line in attacks on black and ethnic minorities and
migrant worker communities. There are rumblings in the grey
economy on both traditional sides that the only way to keep the
Assets Recovery Agency off your back is to toe the political

There is, however, more than 10 years after the ceasefire, and
almost 10 after the negotiated peace, no powersharing government
as yet, thanks to alleged Sinn Féin espionage - which brings us
back to Denis Donaldson, who was arrested as the key figure in
that espionage, and who turned out to be a British spy.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the "direct rulers" have made off
with our water rates. They are making us pay again, raising our
rates, dismantling our hospitals, local government, health
boards, education boards; and they won't let us build in the
countryside, which is where most of us live. The plain people
negotiate the peace as they negotiated the war and life goes on.

Extracted from Lives Entangled, an essay by Bernadette McAliskey
included in Britain & Ireland: Lives Entwined II, the latest
volume exploring contemporary British-Irish relations, produced
by the British Council Ireland. Other contributors include John
Bruton, Ed Moloney, Ivana Bacik, John A Murphy and Ruth Dudley
Edwards. The book is available via or from The British
Council, New Mount House, 22/24 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2;; phone 01-676 4088

© The Irish Times


Opin: Dissidents Have Nothing To Offer


Garda officers deserve great credit for the operation in which a
substantial amount of explosives was seized and made safe in Co
Carlow over the weekend.

The find has been linked to dissident republicans who are known
to have attempted to reorganise themselves over recent months.

They have nothing to offer other than a repeat of the bloodshed
and misery which has been so disastrous for all the people of
Ireland in the past.

It is quite possible that further attacks may take place as
discussions intensify over the proposed restoration of a power-
sharing administration at Stormont.

The perpetrators will be viewed with total contempt by the vast
majority of people on both sides of the border.


Opin: Referendums 'R Us?

(Quintin Oliver, Business Eye)

The news that reached me recently that one of the DUP demands in
forthcoming Talks would be a Referendum filled me with dread.

The argument goes that the DUP will want to bust Hain's 24
November deadline, almost out of spite; to prove their macho
credentials; to show they are in control and to demonstrate their
independence from the despised 'two governments'. More seriously,
it would allow them to claim they had indeed 'smashed' the
Belfast Agreement and then in early 2007 begun to negotiate

It would also allow them more time – since they have not yet
prepared their electorate for a deal, and to judge the various
IMC reports and IRA sincerity in its promises. There is still
much concern within the DUP ranks that any Paisley / Adams
rapprochement – with or without the handshake on the White House
lawn - will merely look like Good Friday Mark II, and that they,
in turn, will suffer the charge of 'slow learning' as Seamus
Mallon memorably remarked of GFA I, as regards Sinn Féin vis-à-
vis Sunningdale.

But why would a referendum be a bad idea? As someone who helped
design and run the "YES" Campaign of 1998, I have some experience
of these matters, and have since advised on referendums around
the world, as part of my political consultancy.

First, the referendum is a creative and unusual constitutional
tool, best deployed to engage the citizenry in big, crossroads
issues; certainly not as a propaganda stunt (1973 'Border poll',
perhaps?), delaying tactic (1979 Devolution referendums in
Scotland and Wales?) or to evade internal party splits (1975 EEC
membership confirmation vote?). Which would this represent?

Second, most referendums are lost, believe it or not. Dr Gary
Sussman's work in Tel Aviv University has tracked more than
10,000 such outings to the polls since 1700. Politicians persist
in believing them to be similar to what they certainly do know
about – elections. But history shows how voters do not treat them
like elections, fail to take the party line so assiduously, and
can punish what they see as 'being taken for granted'. (e.g.
Ireland on the Nice Treaty, first time round)

Third, whereas Good Friday prompted a clear Yes: No split, and a
'fair fight' between proponents and opponents, a 2007 version is
unlikely to be so clear. Either it will be seen as a device
(under which the DUP will shield itself) or as so obvious ('if
all the parties now agree, why are we, the voters, being asked to
rubber stamp their work?') as to potentially provoke a backlash
(e.g. the French and Dutch European Constitution referendums). Or
worse, it could create the conditions for opposition to flourish.

Fourth, as de Gaulle once opined: 'the trouble with referendums
is that voters tend to answer the wrong question'. In 1998 here,
voters were focussed on the constitutional issue, but in 2007,
any number of distractions could attract their attention to give
verdicts on extraneous matters (e.g. mid-term blues, poor
economy, latest atrocity).

Fifth, economics often plays a part in referendums (and, as the
reader can see, I support the use of the proper plural
'referendums' – a series of separate things to be decided – and
not its faux plural, 'referenda' – a collection of decisions); as
a touchstone of our return to normality, perhaps that would be a
good thing? 'Prime Minister' Brown has for long wondered why we
won't behave like rational participants in a marketplace, rather
than as crazed, conflict-driven purists. Research by Professor
Mads Qvortrup, the world expert on these matters, shows that
citizens are less inclined to vote 'Yes' (whatever the topic) in
good economic times; the converse also holds true.

Sixth, public participation is key in peace-building. The main
reason for the failure of the 2004 Cyprus referendum was the
typical UN-led 'élite accommodation' nature of the Burgenstock,
Switzerland, package. No-one knew what had been agreed; no-one
felt ownership; the politicians were distrusted; suspicion about
sell-out reigned; the voters backed their caution and concern,
sticking with the status quo. They voted 'No' in large numbers.
Will these Talks be more open than in 1998? Will they remain in
St Andrews until settlement? How will the parties report back to
their opinion-formers? Has the DUP acquired SF's legendary skills
of massaging, nudging, and taking the electorate easily to water?
Or are they stuck at following local opinion?

Seventh, political campaigning and funding capacity does make a
real difference, as the Australian referendum on the monarchy
showed; a small but imaginative and well-resourced backlash
against the conventional wisdom stole the show and stopped the
consensus. But, in our context, will civil society mobilise as it
did in 1998 to secure an 82% participation rate? Will the expat
community dig deep to fund a campaign, as they did to the tune of
£½ million? What will excite the voter about this outing to the
polls, in an era of declining turnout?

Eighth, how will the media behave? They are still stung by the
charge that they have offered less than critical support to the
peace process; they generally don't come from, associate with, or
like the DUP; will they turn turtle and question or undermine a
shabby settlement? (e.g. the North East referendum in England in
2005 on regional government, which they derided).

Ninth, what will this settlement represent, other than a
refinement of both GFA itself and the December 2004
'Comprehensive Settlement', largely agreed by SF and DUP, again
behind closed doors. Decommissioning is done (well, very nearly,
almost…), the prisoners are out, 'consent' is conceded, North /
South and East / West structures are created. Yes, D'Hondt posts,
A Shared Future, collective responsibility, accountability of
Ministers, and voting systems could all be improved, but will
those arcane matters get out the vote?

What will be the defining issues? 'Paisley says "Yes" may be
enough. Or maybe not. Don't go there is my advice.

October 30, 2006

This article appeared in the October 2006 edition of the Business


Passengers Face Chaos As Cabin Baggage Rules Are Changed Yet Again

By Simon Calder
30 October 2006

Passengers face more airport chaos next week when cabin baggage
rules change yet again. Fluids are to be allowed on flights
leaving British airports for the first time in 13 weeks under new
Europe-wide rules to take effect next Monday. "Once the official
announcement is made, we're expecting bedlam," said a senior
airport official.

A total ban on cabin baggage at British airports came into effect
on 10 August in response to an alleged terrorist plot to blow up
US-bound aircraft. The prohibition placed huge strains on
security staff and baggage systems, and led to gridlock at
Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Hundreds of flights were
cancelled, hundreds of thousands of journeys were delayed or
abandoned, and airlines are believed to have lost close to £100m.

Cabin-baggage rules have been gradually relaxed since then,
sometimes causing yet more confusion. When the Department for
Transport announced early on 13 August that a small bag would be
allowed through checkpoints, airports and airlines were taken by
surprise. BAA, which operates Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted,
refused to allow cabin baggage for a further 24 hours.

Uncertainty and disruption continues, with the latest change in
rules taking place just 19 days ago. BAA prescribes different
maximum dimensions for cabin baggage at different UK airports
because, it says, airlines impose their own rules. Over the half-
term holiday, Ryanair cancelled some flights to and from Stansted
because passengers were stuck in long queues for security.

Staff at the central search area say the main problem is that
travellers still turn up with banned items. Rules on the
dimensions and contents of cabin baggage have, for BA passengers,
changed six times since the end of July.

From 6 November, liquids, pastes and cosmetics will be allowed
through the security checkpoints in quantities of up to 100ml
(about one-fifth of a pint), providing they are carried in a
clear plastic bag with a maximum capacity of one litre.

At present, the UK imposes far stricter rules than countries on
the Continent, although there are some absurd local exceptions:
German airports currently allow liquids on European flights -
except morning departures from Frankfurt. Although the new rules
set a minimum standard, individual authorities will have the
option to be more restrictive.

The change represents a tightening of rules for every European
country except Britain, where it loosens the present no-liquids
policy. Airport officials fear two repercussions. This week, some
travellers will assume that the relaxed rules are already in
effect, and turn up with prohibited fluids. And after Monday,
many passengers are expected to carry more through the central
search area, which will increase processing times, leading to
longer queues and more delayed or missed flights.

What you can take on board


* One item of cabin baggage, with maximum dimensions of 56cm x
45cm x 25cm. Musical instruments, pushchairs, wheelchairs and
walking aids are permitted, but will be screened.

* Essential medicines for the flight (liquid and solid), so long
as they are verified as authentic.

* Baby milk and liquid baby food - contents must be tasted by
accompanying passenger.

From 6 November

* Liquids, gels, pastes and aerosols, including water, soft
drinks, toiletries and cosmetics, in containers of 100ml or less
can be taken on board.

* The containers must be carried in a resealable, transparent
plastic bag with a maximum volume of one litre. Passengers are
limited to one plastic bag each, and bags must be presented
separately during luggage inspection.


'Almost Too Late' To Stop A Global Catastrophe

30 October 2006

The possibility of avoiding a global catastrophe is "already
almost out of reach", Sir Nicholas Stern's long-awaited report on
climate change will warn today. One terrifying prospect is that
changes in weather patterns could drive down the output of the
world's economies by an amount equivalent to up to £6 trillion a
year by 2050, almost the entire output of the EU.

With world temperatures on course to rise by two to three degrees
in 50 years, rainfall could be catastrophically reduced in some
of the world's poorest countries, while others grapple with
floods from melting glaciers. The result could be the largest
migration of refugees in history.

These problems will be "difficult or impossible to reverse"
unless the world acts quickly, Sir Nicholas will warn, in a 700-
page report that is expected to transform world attitudes to
climate change. It adds: "Our actions over the coming few decades
could create risks of major disruption to economic and social
activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale
similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic
depression of the first half of the 20th century."

But the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, and Environment Secretary,
David Miliband, will emphasise the positive message accompanying
Sir Nicholas's stark warnings, because the report will also say
that the world already has the means to avert catastrophe on this
scale, although it will involve the huge expense of 1 per cent of
global GDP (£0.3trn).

"The second half of his message is that the technology does
exist, the financing, public and private, does exist, and the
international mechanisms also exist to get to grips with this
problem - so I don't think it's a catastrophe that he puts
forward. It's a challenging message," Mr Miliband said.

Combating climate change could become one of the world's biggest
growth industries, generating around £250bnof business globally
by 2050. Sir Nicholas's report calls for a rapid increase in
research and development of low carbon technologies, and in
"carbon capture", which involves putting carbon emissions into
underground storage rather than pumping them into the atmosphere.

Mr Brown will write to EU finance ministers today urging a major
expansion of the carbon trading scheme which penalises businesses
that contribute excessively to the amount of carbon in the
atmosphere. One issue he will raise is whether the scheme should
be extended to cover aviation, one of the fastest expanding
sources of carbon.

But the prospect of consumers having to pay higher fuel duty and
other "green" taxes threatened to engulf Mr Miliband in political
controversy yesterday, after a letter he wrote to Mr Brown
earlier this month was leaked to The Mail on Sunday.

Mr Miliband urged that when oil prices drop, the tax on petrol
should rise so that the cost to the motorist remains the same. He
also suggested a higher road tax on vehicles such as 4x4s with
high fuel consumption, a switch to road pricing so that motorists
pay tax per mile, and that the tax system be used to encourage
people to switch to energy-saving household goods such as more
efficient light bulbs and washing machines.

Mr Miliband insisted his ideas were not intended to give the
Government new ways to raise extra tax. "We're using mechanisms
available to government to help change behaviour. They're not
fundamentally there to raise revenue," he told BBC Radio 4's The
World This Weekend.

Mr Miliband's proposals provoked a storm of protest from
businesses, but they also presented a dilemma for the
Conservative leader, David Cameron, who has frequently called for
"green" taxes without giving details of what they ought to be.

Yesterday he said his policies "may mean taxing air travel", but
refused to be drawn further. Interviewed on BBC 1's The Politics
Show, he said: "I think green taxes as a whole need to go up and
I think we need to be very careful that the green taxes we put up
aren't too regressive. I don't want to get more specific than

The Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, poured scorn
on any suggestion that there is a painless solution to global
warming. "Nothing but hard choices will do," he said.


Death Of Embalming EU Regulators Are Considering Banning Formaldehyde

The Wall Street Journal
Dublin - By Mary Jacoby

In a stainless-steel cabinet between two gurneys, Josh Moonman
stores bottles of a pink fluid, labeled with skulls and
crossbones, that are used for embalming bodies.

''If I were to open one of those lids now and let you smell it,
it would knock you back,'' says Moonman, an embalmer for
Ireland's Fanagan Group of mortuaries.

Because the fluid contains formaldehyde, which is poisonous,
European Union regulators are considering banning the chemical as
a potential threat to human health and the environment. Among the
worries, environmentalists say: decaying bodies leaching toxic
chemicals into the ground.

But a ban would be unlucky for the Irish, undertakers here say --
not to mention for the Dodge Co., an American concern that stands
to lose as much as $3 million in annual sales as the dominant
supplier of embalming fluids to funeral homes in Ireland and the
United Kingdom.

The Cambridge, Mass., company and its allies in the Irish funeral
industry are lobbying the EU for a ''cultural heritage''
exemption to any EU ban. Their argument: The storied Irish wake
is threatened by overzealous regulation. ''The expectation in the
Irish public is that they will be able to see and view the
deceased,'' says Gus Nichols of Nichols Funeral Directors here.


In modern Ireland, union rules restrict the hours of cemetery
workers. And because it takes time to get people together for a
funeral, several days can pass between death and burial.
Embalming delays decomposition and gives grieving families the
time they feel they need to hold a proper Irish wake, Nichols

That's blarney, say advocates of a growing movement to promote
more natural, ecologically sensitive ''green burials.'' The real
threat is not to the Irish wake but to the profits of the funeral
industry, they say.

Modern embalming techniques came into widespread use during the
U.S. Civil War to preserve the bodies of Union soldiers for
shipping home for burial. At first, arsenic and mercury were
used. But by 1920, most states had banned them.

Formaldehyde, which took their place, is an ingredient in
plywood, insulation foam and other construction materials, and
also insecticides. It is used to preserve cadavers for medical
research and in taxidermy. A carcinogen, formaldehyde is also
suspected of causing skin irritation and asthma in people
regularly exposed to it.

''Many people don't realize that embalming isn't required. They
are under the impression that it's necessary for health
reasons,'' says Joe Sehee, an American opposed to embalming who
founded a nonprofit organization called the Green Burial Council.

Indeed, embalming isn't required in the United States or the
European Union, government officials say, though some states
require it for bodies shipped from state to state or

Embalming today is widespread in the United States, Australia,
New Zealand, Ireland and the U.K. It's less common on the
European continent. And it is virtually unheard of in countries
like Greece, where warm weather traditionally has dictated that
burials take place within 24 hours of death. Colder countries
like Denmark usually refrigerate bodies if preservation beyond a
few days is necessary. Jewish and Islamic religious laws prohibit

Moonman, 32, says his work is safe. ''You learn how to work with
it,'' he says, showing off the heavy rubber gloves, apron,
goggles and ventilator mask he wears when pumping embalming fluid
through the arteries of a corpse.

1998 EU LAW

A 1998 EU law called the Biocides Directive requires the funeral
industry to pay for expensive health and safety studies to prove
that formaldehyde doesn't cause cancer among embalmers.

''We are fighting the thing tooth and nail,'' says Adrian Haler,
managing director of the U.K. subsidiary of the Dodge Co., the
leading supplier of embalming fluids to funeral homes in the
United States.

Thus, a few months ago, the company's Haler, Nichols and other
Irish funeral directors traveled to EU headquarters in Brussels
to lobby for their cultural heritage exemption. Nichols is no
ordinary arbiter of Irishness: His 192-year-old family business
makes an appearance in the novel Ulysses, when James Joyce's
protagonist, Leopold Bloom, walks past the red-brick funeral

The EU has until 2010 to decide on any ban. The ''EU directive
will put embalmers out of business and cause decaying corpses to
go to funerals,'' Neil Parish, a British conservative member of
the European Parliament, says on his website. Britain's Daily
Telegraph recently picked up the torch, exhorting: ``Don't Bury
Our Wake: The EU Is Picking a Fight It Cannot Hope to Win If It
Tries to End the Irish Way of Death.''

The Brussels-bashing exasperates EU officials, who say they're
just trying to force industries generally to switch to less toxic
chemicals when possible. ''We are not trying to sound the death
knell for the Irish wake,'' says Barbara Helfferich, a
spokeswoman for the European Commission's environmental
directorate. ``It certainly doesn't mean that caskets must be
slammed shut.''

Less toxic alternatives to formaldehyde include iodine and
glutaraldehyde, a chemical used also to sterilize surgical
instruments. But neither alternative suits embalmers.
Glutaraldehyde ''leaves the body very soft. Embalmers want the
body to be good and firm, because it means you don't have to
worry about the body decomposing,'' says Melissa Johnson
Williams, executive director of the American Society of
Embalmers. Of iodine, she adds: ``I've never heard from any
source that iodine is a good preservative.''


Companies that claim to offer less-toxic alternatives hope to
fill the breach. Aardbalm, a U.K. firm that makes embalming fluid
with iodine, has budgeted $565,000 to conduct the battery of
skin, air and ingestion tests required to pass EU muster.

Irish funeral professionals say that preserving bodies is about
preserving a way of life. Seamus Griffin, manager of the Kirwans
Funeral Home in Dublin remembers attending family wakes in
Ireland's rural western counties as a child.

There was live music, he says, and people gathered around the
body and drank whiskey until dawn. Women practiced traditional
Irish keening -- a kind of wailing and moaning to mark the end of
life. ''It was haunting. I'll never forget it,'' Griffin says.

Thomas Lynch, an Irish-American funeral director and author from
Michigan who has a home in Ireland's County Clare, is skeptical
about the old country's lamentations. Undercutting the Irish
funeral directors' claims that embalming is central to holding a
wake, Lynch says he has attended many Irish wakes where the
bodies were not embalmed.

In fact, embalming isn't even traditional in temperate Ireland,
he says.

Nichols, the Dublin undertaker, wants to stick with the tried-
and-true formaldehyde.

''This is the culture of families coming to pay their respects,''
Nichols said. ``We hope the EU lets us keep it that way.''


Work Begins On Maze Prison Site

Work to transform the former Maze prison site in County Antrim
into a proposed national stadium has begun.

The government's proposals for the 360 acre site near Lisburn
include a 42-000 seat multi-sports arena and "centre for conflict

Work is under way to demolish the Old Nissen huts, where hundreds
of people were held without trial in 1971.

The Maze was once the main prison in Northern Ireland for
sentenced republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

Most prisoners were released in 1999 under the Good Friday

The last four prisoners were transferred from the prison in
September 2000.

The demolition is expected to take more than a year to complete,
with the second phase beginning early next year with the clearing
of the main site.

However, one of the H-blocks is to be retained. Concrete will be
crushed and recycled in the new construction.

Northern Ireland Office minister David Hanson said: "Clearing the
site will be part of the mission to transform it into a symbol of
economic and social regeneration, renewal and growth."

Mr Hanson added: "The demolition of the Maze/Long Kesh, leaving
only those former prison buildings which have been given
statutory protection, marks a further step towards achieving the
goal of a new future for the site, a future that can be shared by
the whole community."

The beginning of the demolition work was welcomed by the
Maze/Long Kesh Monitoring Group.

Its chair, DUP assembly member Edwin Poots, said: the work
signified "a clear demonstration that the Maze/Long Kesh
proposals are gathering further momentum and represent a major
step forward to reshape this site".

Vice chair, Sinn Fein's Paul Butler, said the listed prison
buildings "can play a huge role in the transformation from
conflict to peace".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/30 11:57:10 GMT

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