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October 19, 2006

Sinn Fein Determined To Advance Peace Process

News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 10/19/06 Sinn Féin Determined To Advance The Peace Process
IN 10/19/06 Marty Smith Under Threat Of Deportation From US
BT 10/19/06 Gardai Uncover IRA Link To £26.5m Northern Bank Raid
IT 10/20/06 Opin: The Most Formidable Of Pairings
IN 10/19/06 Opin: Chance To Put Politics Of Partition Behind Us
MC 10/19/06 Political Divisions Sending N Irish Footballers South
NY 10/19/06 Theater Review 'Shay Duffin As Brendan Behan'


Sinn Féin Determined To Advance The Peace Process

Published: 19 October, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today briefed the
party’s Ard Chomhairle on the talks which took place at St.
Andrews in Scotland last week and events since then. He
said “Sinn Féin remains firmly focused on bringing about a
situation where Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley would be
equal partners at the head of a power sharing government in
the north. And we will continue to do what we can to bring
this about.'

Today the Ard Chomhairle agreed on a widespread process of
consultation within the party which would begin
immediately. They appointed Mary Lou McDonald, Martin
Ferris and Conor Murphy to take charge of this process and
to report back to the Ard Chomhairle.

Speaking after the meeting Mr. Adams said:

“Today I briefed the party leadership on last week’s talks
in Scotland and on events which have taken place since
then. There was widespread support at the meeting for the
party’s objective of advancing the Good Friday Agreement
and bringing about a situation where Martin McGuinness and
Ian Paisley would be equal partners at the head of a power-
sharing government.

“Ard Chomhairle members raised a number of concerns in
relation to the role of the two governments and the
commitment of the DUP to properly participate in a power
sharing government with Sinn Féin. Obviously the decision
of the DUP to pull out of the Programme for Government
meeting on Tuesday in Stormont highlights the challenges
that lie ahead if the process is to move forward.

“There was a consensus at the meeting that work needed to
continue to resolve outstanding issues which continue to
block progress towards creating a policing service which is
democratically accountable and free from the sort of
political control which has blighted policing in the north
for generations. We remain determined to reach that point
and discussions with the governments will continue in the
weeks ahead."

Sinn Féin Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald was appointed by
the Ard Chomhairle to head up a group to role out a process
of consultation across the party. Ms. McDonald said:

“Today the Ard Chomhairle formally set in place a process
of consultation which will take place at every level of the
party in the coming weeks. This consultation will assess
the potential of the proposals set out by the two
governments and ongoing work to advance the peace process.
The Ard Chomhairle appointed a group, headed up by myself
and including Martin Ferris TD and Conor Murphy MP to
oversee this consultation process and to report back to the
Ard Chomhairle.” ENDS


Man Under Threat Of Deportation From US

By Allison Morris

A Belfast man is facing deportation from the US, more than
a decade after setting up home there with his young family.

Marty Smith left the Markets area of south Belfast along
with his wife Deirdre and three small children in 1993.

The republican immediately claimed political asylum and was
granted a work permit while his case was being processed.

In August of this year, Mr Smith received a letter saying
his work permit had been withdrawn and immigration
officials had no record of an appeal lodged with them in

Two days later he was arrested on his way to work when
officers swooped on his car and has since been held in
Hartford prison to face deportation along with his family.

His arrest came shortly after an altercation with an off-
duty policeman at a soccer match, who issued civil
compensation proceedings against the Belfast man.

Residents of Springfield, Massachusetts, where the Smith
family set up home, have helped to raise funds for what
could be a lengthy and expensive legal battle.

Family friend Eamon Burke travelled to Belfast from the US
this week to visit relatives and update them on the case.

“Marty and his family are respected and much-loved members
of our community and we have rallied round as best we can
to support them,” he said.

“Unfortunately since September 11 the current
administration is trying to be seen to crack down on
immigration and Marty has fell victim to that policy.

“We have gained the support of several leading political
figures and just hope they will bring pressure to bear on
Marty’s behalf.”

Mr Smith’s sister Marie Terese, from south Belfast, said
his family are concerned for his wife and children who have
been left to survive with no income.

“We have tried as a family to send them what money we can –
Marty was the breadwinner and the legal process could take
up to two years,’’ she said.

“The three boys have grown up in America... and it’s the
only home they know.

“To deport them to Ireland after all this time would be a
total injustice.”


Gardai Uncover IRA Link To £26.5m Northern Bank Raid

Notes seized during probe into Provisional money-laundering
have identification marks which prove they were held in
branch's vaults

By Tom Brady

19 October 2006

Identification marks on cash seized by gardai when they
smashed an IRA money-laundering operation have directly
linked the notes to the Northern Bank in Belfast.

The Provisionals were blamed by police on both sides of the
Border for the £26.5m heist in December 2004.

For more than a year and a half gardai and the PSNI have
been working closely together to establish the connections
between the recovered money and the bank robbery.

Within two months of the raid gardai uncovered a money-
laundering racket, which they believed was being used by
the IRA to 'cleanse' at least ?5m in sterling notes from
the proceeds of the heist.

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy has now confirmed that a
number of identification marks have been found on the
seized cash, proving that it had been held in the vaults of
the Donegall Square branch of the bank in Belfast.

Further tests are currently being completed to tie in the
money with the stolen consignment.

A massive file on the money-laundering investigation has
already been submitted by senior garda officers to the
Director of Public Prosecutions, who will determine if
criminal charges should be brought.

Mr Conroy said the investigation team was currently
"tidying up" its inquiries.

Initial checks on the seized cash concentrated on finding
fingerprints, which could help identify those who had at
least handled the money. Detailed forensic tests were then
carried out on each note individually to establish its
history and with the help of the bank to build up a
prosecution case. But senior officers were aware that there
must be a predicate offence proven - in this case a robbery
- before they could begin considering other possible
charges such as money-laundering or handling stolen money.

Codenamed 'Phoenix', the garda operation was stepped up
when detectives seized ?93,000 in a Daz washing powder
packet after they searched a 4x4 at Heuston rail station in
Dublin. Gardai seized ?2.4m in used £20 sterling notes
stashed into holdall bags in the basement of a bungalow in
the village of Farran, 10 miles outside Cork city.

Another ?1.5m in new sterling notes went up in smoke when a
man in Passage West, Co Cork burnt the cash in his

A further ?1.1m was identified in the paper trail across a
series of financial institutions and has either been seized
or spent.

Gardai recovered almost ?500,000 of the latter tranche when
they were either contacted by businessmen or raided houses
or business premises in Cork city, Douglas, Millstreet, Co
Cork, Killarney and Rathmore, Co Kerry, Tullamore, Co
Offaly, and Dunboyne, Co Meath.

Gardai believe the money was being laundered by a financial
firm at the centre of their inquiries, either using the
sterling to pay bills, giving it out in loans or paying off
clients who had previously invested in its schemes.

The money trail led gardai to Britain and Bulgaria where
inquiries were carried out into an Irish based company
intending to invest in property there.


Opin: The Most Formidable Of Pairings


DUP foot-stomping as reassurance: how about that? No doubt
many groaned at the sight and sounds of Ian Paisley on
obnoxious form, threatening that secret British government
assurances to him will be "pushed down their throat" and
that the DUP will "give them a knock between the eyes" so
they "see stars and not celestial stars". Stand back a
little, and there is comfort to be had, writes Fionnuala O

One way of reviewing the past 12 years is to regret the
sluggardly pace of change. Another perspective has it that
cautious advance was unavoidable, perhaps even the best way
to proceed. Then there are those too young to remember
Northern Ireland pre-1994, the creeping hopelessness of
earlier decades in both Dublin and London. It was easier to
say, and many said it, that the North was impossible: both
sides as bad as each other; the only possible solutions
London rule or to bang heads together until tribal leaders
agreed to co-operate, while the "men of violence" were
crushed by whatever means necessary.

The solution now mid-programme satisfies neither know-alls
nor diehards, but then those sectors of opinion never had
anything better to offer. The worst begrudgers have always
suggested, of course without explicitly saying so, that the
Troubles were somehow more satisfactory than the painful
compromises that followed.

Not all critics are so mean-spirited. A course which has
brought once-violent republicanism into a dominant place in
politics outrages many.

A permanent Stormont administration combining Sinn Féin and
the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists is not a
delightful proposition. That it should be in prospect is a
measure of how far the 12-year process has come: the
combination yields some comfort.

It is simultaneously the most unlikely and formidable of
pairings. If these two stand together, who shall stand
against them? On reflection, delete "stand together".
Standing side by side will do: acquiescence in an
indispensable partnership. To the jaundiced eye "the Doc"
has been in long retreat from Never-Never Land. Only the
most sheeplike of the faithful believed that the DUP
ministers, in the executive headed by David Trimble and the
SDLP, somehow remained untainted by powersharing. The half-
in, half-out tactic fooled few. It was meant to be deniable
and was duly denied.

Given the Paisley history, few had any confidence that the
DUP leader would get himself this far into an arrangement
that he condemned so scabrously as treachery, when David
Trimble was the prime voice of unionism.

To be corralled, on the other hand, to be given no future
other than noisy irrelevance and the slow demise of his
party: in the end perhaps that constituted effective
pressure. On this occasion, the man who thinks it virtue to
say no found himself required merely to accept
congratulations on his long-lived marriage, and a copy of
an agreement between two prime ministers who had been
strenuously nice to him.

Paisley-watchers have always wondered if the way to sign
him up for compromise might be to present him with a fait
accompli which he could rubbish, then sulkily operate. At
first, he did better than that. In St Andrews, with
domestic celebration ahead and "Baroness Eileen" (as Bertie
Ahern called her respectfully, if not entirely accurately)
in the audience, Ian Paisley sounded a statesmanlike note,
talked of the possibility of a better future for every
child in Northern Ireland. Then he arrived home to the
first dissenting voice for years from inside his party.
When it came time for another walk into history last
Tuesday he balked, and we got a flashback.

Despite this week's little flurry - stage-fright would
appeal as explanation if anyone but Ian Paisley was the
central figure - it still seems more likely than not that
inside the next six months the DUP leader will become First
Minister Designate, poised to head a powersharing Executive
side by side with Martin McGuinness.

That overused word "ironic" does not begin to describe it.
Sinn Féin will not just become junior partner in a Northern
Ireland government, it will jointly head it. Republicans
who so recently killed Northern police officers will help
police the despised and denied six-county state. The
outraged might pause to consider that taking responsibility
for policing is the irrevocable final step away from trying
to overthrow the state.

If the day of responsibility comes, and it now seems more
"when" than "if", the North's peace could at last develop
conviction and stability. Having convinced their own
followers long ago, Gerry and Martin seem amused rather
than angered by this week's tantrum, more relaxed in their
retreat than Ian in his. They have an all-Ireland playing
field, of course, rather more to gain than the DUP. But the
DUP's leader has mortal as well as immortal longings, and
his legacy to tend. The rest of the population can only
stare, switch off their memory banks and cheer him on.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Chance To Put Politics Of Partition Behind Us

By Jim Gibney

It is a deal in waiting and what a deal it could be. The
possibility of a new agreed Ireland waiting to be born.

At its core Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness First and
Deputy First Ministers – an amazing possibility; a
functioning all-Ireland ministerial council, northern
executive, assembly, east-west structure and republicans
supporting new policing arrangements – an equally amazing

It could be a Nelson Mandela-de Klerk moment waiting
ratification; an Arafat-Rabin moment on the Whitehouse lawn
with much better prospects.

It could be a moment when the planter and Gael cross over
the Rubicon together. A moment when 400 years of conflict
and division between Planter and Gael recede to allow in a
potentially fresh vista.

It was the rarest of moments which made the hair bristle on
a friend’s neck when he heard the startling news that Ian
Paisley and Martin McGuinness could hold the joint and
equal post of First and Deputy First Minster of the north
in a few weeks’ time.

It was a moment greeted with disbelief as the news spread
across Ireland – a moment which caught everyone off guard;
a moment which brought hope and optimism back into a peace
process laden with despair and disappointment; a moment
which injected excitement back into politics here; a moment
when people began to talk again about the future.

A moment patiently waited on since the IRA called their
first cessation in August 1994.

A potentially generous moment which can move beyond the
printed word of the St Andrews proposals and enter every
home in Ireland with the message that we are on the
threshold of a new beginning.

The Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews proposals
could give the people of this island an opportunity to put
the politics of partition behind them.

They are testament to the failure of partition. Partition
left nationalists stateless, in a bleak wilderness of
cultural, economic and political destitution. It left
unionists in isolation precariously balanced on the edge of
the Irish and British nations living in fear from
nationalists, forever suspicious of British government
intentions, clinging onto power only with the support of
Britain’s military garrison shoring up an apartheid system.

The potential and hope of the moment is totally dependent
on the response of the DUP to the two government’s

We can leave the failures of the past behind us if the DUP
stand by what they said at St Andrews and if republicans
can once again display the leadership, which in the words
of Gerry Adams last Sunday, they have demonstrated “again
and again and again” in their commitment to the peace

In these circumstances St Andrews could prove to be a
turning point for the most recalcitrant element of unionism
in the same way that the Good Friday agreement signalled a
shift by more realistic unionists.

We are all in unchartered waters. Politics on this island
has never been at this point before. Republicans and
unionists have never had to consider what they are now

What the governments agreed at St Andrews may yet propel
politics forward dramatically.

And while republicans are understandably cautious and
fearful about the situation unravelling because of Ian
Paisley’s volatility – as evidenced by the contrived row
over a ministerial pledge on Tuesday – we also need to
recognise that any decision by him to occupy a joint ‘prime
ministerial office’ with Martin McGuinness would truly be a
monumental and unprecedented breakthrough for the peace

It is of course a huge gesture by republicans to share
power with the DUP given that party’s track record.

However, there is now an opportunity to breathe new life
into the political and peace process.

The political space for initiatives seems to be opening up

Loyalists, especially the UVF, appear keen to play their
part in encouraging loyalists to accept the Good Friday

This will help stabilise a very important constituency.

We may well have reached the point where the centuries of
conflict and division can finally be put behind us.

That is the challenge facing us all but given their
rejectionist history it is a challenge most particularly
faced by the DUP and their leader Ian Paisley.


Political Divisions Sending Northern Irish Footballers South

By George Burns Oct 19, 2006, 17:32 GMT

Dublin - On the surface, football in Northern Ireland would
appear to be on the up and up following a string of results
that have propelled the country into the top 50 of the FIFA
world rankings for the first time in over a decade.

A draw away to Denmark and a win over Latvia in Euro 2008
qualifiers earlier this month helped Northern Ireland move
up 13 places to 45th in the rankings.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland slipped eight places to
49th, the country's lowest position for eight years.

But instead of celebrating with coach Lawrie Sanchez, the
Irish Football Association (IFA), which controls football
in Northern Ireland, was instead demanding clarification
from FIFA over an ever- growing number of Northern Ireland
born players who have decided to declare for the Republic's

Three players from Northern Ireland were named in the
latest Republic of Ireland U-21 squad for a friendly
against Luxembourg.

Anyone born on the island of Ireland is automatically
entitled to Irish citizenship and since the Good Friday
peace accord signed between Britain and Ireland in 1998,
over 200,000 people have availed of this right.

Over the years, the Northern Ireland team has suffered the
scourge of sectarianism which reached its low point in 2002
when Catholic Neil Lennon of Glasgow Celtic retired from
the national team following death threats from a loyalist
terror group.

Since then, the IFA have worked extremely hard to create a
more inclusive atmosphere at the Windsor Park stadium
through initiatives like 'Football for All.'

But many Irish nationalists still feel estranged by British
trappings such as the team's anthem 'God Save the Queen'.

With many northern Catholics now supporting the Republic of
Ireland team it seems players from the nationalist
community are also making the move south.

Under-21 players Tony Kane and Michael O'Connor have joined
Manchester United's Darren Gibson in deciding to declare
for the Republic of Ireland and many believe many more will
join them sooner rather than later.

FIFA confirmed to Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa Thursday that
anyone from Northern Ireland carrying Irish nationality can
play for the Republic of Ireland as long as they haven't
previously made themselves ineligible by playing for their
home association.

'To play for the Republic of Ireland, the player must be a
national of the Republic of Ireland and, if he previously
played for a youth team of Northern Ireland, he must also
obtain the approval of the FIFA Players' Status Committee
to carry out this change', said FIFA spokesman Andreas

'This principle is clearly established in Article 15
paragraph 1 of the Regulations Governing the Application of
the FIFA Statutes.'

Northern Ireland fans may be singing 'there's only one team
in Ireland' at the moment but it appears that more and more
of country's minority population are turning their backs
and declaring for the other team south of the border.

© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur


Theater Review 'Shay Duffin As Brendan Behan'

'Confessions of an Irish Rebel'A Writer’s Potent Cocktail
of Booze and Heady Profanity

Rahav Segev for The New York Times
Published: October 19, 2006

Shay Duffin’s one-man show at the Irish Arts Center isn’t
all about drinking, but it could have been.

Playing Brendan Behan (1923-64), the poet, novelist,
playwright and Irish Republican Army operative, Mr. Duffin
points out that decades ago in working-class Ireland,
consuming way too much alcohol was less a social disgrace
than a symbol of affluence.

“To get enough to eat was regarded as an achievement,” he
says. “To get drunk was a victory.”

In the uneven but often charming “Shay Duffin as Brendan
Behan: Confessions of an Irish Rebel,” Mr. Duffin, who
looks the part, sips a pint or two of Guinness stout as he
regales his audience with excerpts from Behan’s works.

Some of it has been done to death over the years — “A man
asked me if I liked Kipling; I said I’ve never been
kippled” — but Mr. Duffin, who also wrote the play, gets
away with the retelling.

Most of the time he has the benefit of Behan’s singular
voice. His subjects include James Joyce, Oscar Wilde’s
death, William Butler Yeats and parsnips, the first Jewish
mayor of Dublin, John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign,
atomic age anxiety and a policeman who married a prostitute
but soon brought her down to his level.

Failure of all sorts is a recurring theme. He says of
trying to kiss an overweight woman, “The spirit is willing,
but the flesh is in the way.” Of one of his various career
endeavors, he explains, “I quit writing poetry in 1950
because I found easier ways to starve.”

A good bit of the material is quite profane. Mr. Duffin
does funny voices, some incomprehensible. He sings several
times and seems like the kind of man you would like to
drink with but might become nervous about toward closing

The later part of Act 2 makes that point almost too
vividly. As Mr. Duffin slurs his words, gasps for breath,
grasps his left arm and takes long pauses while searching
for words, he is more than believable as Behan, who in
later life (his 40’s) was said to make public appearances
while passing-out drunk. The re-creation is painful to

“Shay Duffin as Brendan Behan: Confessions of an Irish
Rebel” is at the Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st Street,
(212) 868-4444, through Nov. 5.

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