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October 11, 2006

Talks Start On Anniversary of Power-Sharing Suspension

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 10/11/06 Talks Start On Anniversary Of Power-Sharing Suspension
SF 10/11/06 SF Delegation Arrive In Scotland For Crucial Peace Talks
BT 10/11/06 Getting Away With Murder?
BT 10/11/06 Scrap Parades Body For Progress: Order
BB 10/11/06 'Up To 30 Shots' Fired At Ballymena School
BB 10/11/06 Royal Crest Removed From NI Court
IS 10/11/06 Opin: Despite IRA Report, Ulster May Still Say No
IT 10/11/06 Opin: Stepping Forward On The North


Talks Start On The Anniversary Of Power-Sharing Suspension

Blair to co-chair opening session in st andrews before
meeting parties

By Noel McAdam
11 October 2006

Exactly four years after the Assembly was suspended and a
question mark placed over the Good Friday Agreement,
Northern Ireland's politicians gathered in Scotland today
in another attempt to revive devolution.

It was on October 11, 2002 that the British Government
first mooted the meltdown of the faltering institutions in
the aftermath of the Stormont spy ring allegations.

Three days later, suspension came formally into effect.
Direct rule was re-established at midnight.

Now the process faces new challenges. The main players have
changed - the DUP taking over from the UUP, Sinn Fein
pushing past the SDLP - but the task of building a multi-
party mechanism and avoid the stop-go politics remains.

Over the next few days, Prime Minister Tony Blair and
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will attempt to draw up an agreement
between the parties that could lead to a deal by their
ultimate deadline of November 24.

A 48-page paper is being circulated among the parties.

The two main obstacles appear to be whether Sinn Fein can
finally move towards joining policing arrangements, which
depends in turn on British legislation being in place and
agreement on a timetable for the devolution of policing and

If Sinn Fein can shift significantly and agreement can be
reached on more mechanical matters such as the
accountability of ministers - which DUP deputy leader Peter
Robinson has called a "deal breaker" - as well as Assembly
voting, the DUP could perhaps be persuaded to make a
commitment to enter government with Sinn Fein, possibly
after another election.

All of this is a series of big 'ifs', and the DUP has also
undertaken to consult widely with its own grass roots and
wider unionism.

The British Government insists it must be in a position by
close of play, due Friday afternoon, to calculate whether a
devolution deal is achievable.

Should proceedings stretch into Saturday, which Government
sources have stressed is unlikely, Secretary of State Peter
Hain has already said Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are
likely to make their verdict public.

Then, from Sunday, there are precisely 40 days left.


SF Delegation Arrive In Scotland For Crucial Peace Talks

Published: 11 October, 2006

The Sinn Féin delegation for this weeks crucial peace talks
arrived in Scotland earlier this morning and will be
available to speak to the media at 2pm at St. Andrews.

The delegation includes Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness,
Mary Lou McDonald, Pat Doherty, Bairbre de Brún, Gerry
Kelly, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Michelle Gildernew, Martin
Ferris, Caitríona Ruane, Francie Molloy, Conor Murphy, Alex
Maskey, Joanne Spain, Dessie Ellis, John Dwyer, Pearse
Doherty, David Cullinane, and Padraig MacLochlainn.


Getting Away With Murder?

As political talks begin today in St Andrews, victims'

By Chris Thornton
11 October 2006

Catholic and Protestant victims of the Troubles joined
together today to call for the Government to come clean
about the role of informers in murder.

The unprecedented cross-community appeal was timed to
coincide with the start of talks in Scotland about reaching
a political settlement and will be followed by a visit to
the venue in St Andrews later this week.

The victims say an overarching agreement won't be completed
if the Government continues to dodge questions about the
circumstances in which agents were apparently allowed to
get away with murder.

"They can talk all they want at St Andrews," said Mark
Sykes, a survivor of the Ormeau bookies killings in 1992.

His brother-in-law, Peter Magee, was killed and he was
severely wounded.

"If the victims aren't sorted out, they'll be back at St
Andrews or somewhere else in four years' time and again in
10 years' time," he added.

As more cases of suspected and proven collusion emerge, the
relatives say the pattern behind it is becoming harder to
ignore. They include established cases like that of Raymond
McCord jnr, which is expected to be the subject of a
damning report by the Police Ombudsman later this year, and
the Loughinisland massacre, in which it only recently
emerged that a police informant bought the car used by the

"It doesn't matter if you're Catholic, Protestant, unionist
or republican," said Mark Thompson of the group Relatives
for Justice, who brought the victims together. "If you've
had somebody killed by someone working for Special Branch
or military intelligence you're not going to get the case
solved. Dealing with this properly will strengthen the
process. That won't happen by ignoring it or pushing it

All the relatives who made today's appeal had loved ones
killed by suspected loyalist agents - mainly in the UVF.
But some people whose relations were killed by the IRA
agent known as Stakeknife, who was allegedly allowed to
murder in order to maintain his cover, are said to
privately support the appeal.

The relatives who chose to speak out publicly believe the
cross-community nature of their appeal has strengthened
their case - showing that the abuse did not hit one side

"It's no use crying about justice if it's only one side and
you only want it for your own son or brother or whoever,"
said Raymond McCord, whose son's death is the subject of
that upcoming Police Ombudsman report. "It has to be about

"The people supposed to be protecting the country I live in
were actually killing people in the country," said Paul
McIlwaine, whose son David was killed by UVF members in
2000. "I can't get over that. Not only did they kill our
loved ones and get protected, they were paid for it," said
Mark Sykes.

Some of the relatives are aware that the PSNI's Historical
Enquiries Team is reviewing Troubles murders, but believe
that the resolution of their cases must come from a higher

"I've met them and the intention's good, but when I spoke
to them they were snowed under," said Raymond McCord.


Scrap Parades Body For Progress: Order

By Chris Thornton
11 October 2006

Scrapping the Parades Commission should be on the unionist
shopping list for today's talks at St Andrew's, the Orange
Order said last night.

The Order handed a letter to DUP and UUP representatives at
Belfast City Hall last night which calls for the
Commission's removal "in the strongest possible terms".

"The Parades Commission militates against the reality of
establishing a shared future where toleration and
accommodation replace intolerance and intransigence and
recourse to a statutory body is minimised," the letter

Belfast County Master Dawson Bailie said: "The removal of
the Parades Commission is an issue where there is agreement
across the entire Unionist family.

"We cannot face another year of their incompetence and
stupidity. We are simply asking our elected representatives
to use their mandate to rid us of this hindrance to the


'Up To 30 Shots' Fired At School

Up to 30 pellets were fired from an air rifle into the
playground of a County Antrim school, police have said.

Three people, including a 13-year-old boy, arrested after
the shooting at Dunclug College, Ballymena, were released
pending further inquiries.

Police have ruled out a sectarian motive for the shooting
which occurred at about 1310 BST on Tuesday.

An air rifle and a gas-propelled pellet gun were recovered
after police searched a number of properties.

A boy was later arrested on suspicion of firearms offences.
Two males, aged 17 and 40, were also arrested but police
said all three were later released pending further

Dunclug principal Ruth Wilson said on Tuesday that at least
one metal pellet had struck the door of a gym during the

She said about 30 or 40 pupils were in the playground at
the time and had to be moved elsewhere.


"There were around 30 or 40 children out during 'junior'
lunch involving mostly 12-year-olds. Most of the pupils
were still inside getting their lunch," she said.

"We immediately cleared the playground without panic and
thankfully, to our knowledge, no one was hurt. The children
were moved to the other playground and police were called
straight away.

"We believe the pellet was fired from outside the school
fence from the direction of the Doury Road estate. There is
no evidence to suggest they were firing towards any child."

She said that none of the children had to go home after the
incident and there was no trauma.

"At our regular Wednesday assembly we will mention this
tomorrow to reassure people that no one was hurt," said Mrs

Published: 2006/10/11 11:41:29 GMT


Royal Crest Removed From NI Court

The Royal crest has been removed from a new courtroom in
the Northern Ireland High Court where it has been
unlawfully on display for over three years.

The decision to take it down last week followed a complaint
from a member of the legal profession.

The crest was erected in Family Court 2 in August, 2003,
seven months after the Justice (NI) Order 2002, outlawed
the practice.

The legislation came into force in January 2003.

The legislation, passed under the Good Friday Agreement,
prevents the display of the Royal Arms in courts, except
where the crest was already in existence.

A spokesman for the Court Service said: "An administrative
error during refurbishment of the Royal Courts of Justice
led to the display of the Royal Arms in Family Court 2. The
Royal Arms has now been removed."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/11 12:01:40 GMT


Opin: Despite IRA Report, Ulster May Still Say No

Discussion aimed at reviving Northern Ireland’s dormant
political institutions will take place this week in
Scotland, b ut a deal is not assured, and failure will have
huge political fallout.

Bakir Rahmanovic, ISN
Commentary by Simon Roughneen in Dublin (11/10/06)

A report released last week gave a remarkably positive
assessment of the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) self-
emasculation, 14 months after it declared an end to its
three-decade war against Northern Ireland’s status as part
of the UK.

The report, released by the Independent Monitoring
Commission (IMC), an Irish-British intergovernmental
watchdog set up to monitor Ireland’s paramilitary groups,
stated: "It [the IRA] is now firmly set on a political
strategy, eschewing terrorism and other forms of crime. In
this process there has been a loss of paramilitary

However, various vested interests on the part of all
protagonists may combine to scupper a potential deal this
week, as the British and Irish governments and Northern
Ireland’s main political parties discuss reviving the
devolved government set up after the 1998 peace agreement.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the largest on the
Protestant-British side of Northern Ireland’s communal
divide - and is the last hold-out against a deal, which
will be pushed vigorously by both governments and by Sinn
Féin at St.Andrews in Scotland this week.

Responding to the IMC report, British Prime Minister Tony
Blair said: “The IRA has done what we asked [..] while
issues like policing remain […] the door is now open to a
final settlement.”

His Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern followed suit, saying:
“I think it's [the IMC report] as positive as anyone could
have imagined.”

This will not satisfy the DUP. If a deal is reached, the
DUP will partner with Sinn Féin - the party linked to the
IRA - in Northern Ireland’s devolved government.

DUP leader Reverend Ian Paisley - founder of his own
Presbyterian church and who was forcibly ejected from the
European Parliament in 1988 for interrupting a speech by
the late Pope John Paul II with catcalls of “Anti-Christ” -
on Monday held the first-ever discussions with Ireland’s
Catholic Primate, Archbishop Sean Brady, on political
issues in Northern Ireland.

This did not herald a volte-face regarding Paisley’s views
on the IRA or Sinn Féin. As a self-styled socialist
republican organization, Sinn Féin was never endorsed by
Ireland’s Catholic Church, which routinely condemned IRA

After the meeting - described by both sides as "useful and
constructive" - Paisley criticized the UK governments’
interpretation of the IMC report as inappropriately
positive and not reflective of the contents, which he said
did not indicate that the IRA was ready to disband or
completely cease criminal activity that yields an estimated
€15 million per annum on average.

The report detailed the IRA's dismantling of some core
units and its ending of recruitment, and looked at the
long-term transition of the IRA over the past three years,
rather than merely outlining changes since July 2005, when
the IRA announced its war was over.

Differences remain on key issues.

Sinn Féin wants an amnesty for IRA men who remain in hiding
pending criminal charges for terrorist activity. The DUP is
unlikely to agree to this, given that its ascendancy in
unionism came about after the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP),
historically Northern Ireland’s largest, was perceived by
unionists as appeasing Sinn Féin, and was thus obliterated
by the DUP in the 2005 UK general election.

Paisley used his hour with Archbishop Brady to ask that
Catholics increase support for Northern Ireland’s police,
deemed to have worked with unionist paramilitaries during
the conflict and snubbed by Sinn Féin despite reforms since
1998. The DUP says it will not share power unless Sinn Féin
supports the police service.

Ahern will see the talks as a welcome respite from recent
cash donation controversies - and success in St. Andrews
would be a huge boost to his domestic credentials with an
election due by May 2007.

Blair’s leadership is ending. With his historical legacy at
stake, he will relish becoming the British prime minister
who resolved the centuries-old "Irish Question," something
that eluded his predecessors.

Sinn Féin sees the IMC report as making DUP acceptance of
power-sharing inexorable. Party leadership is working
closely with the IRA (there is a personnel overlap) to
cautiously dismantle the paramilitary organization in a
manner that does not lead to splits or spoilers. Sinn Féin
would revel in the trappings of power in Northern Ireland
for the few months before the May 2007 election in the
Irish Republic - when it hopes to acquire sufficient seats
to participate in a coalition government.

A political rival remarked that if the word "no" was
removed from the English language, Ian Paisley would have
nothing to say. His instinct may be to recoil from the
pressure he faces over the coming days if a deal is not in
unionist interests.

The octogenarian Paisley has his own legacy to leave. He
may want to sample life as Northern Ireland’s first
minister, but he would prefer not to go down as a man that
shared power with a historic enemy on unfavorable terms.

But if the talks fail, the 24 November deadline to restore
devolution will pass, postponing local government
indefinitely, hindering peace-building, and perhaps leading
toward joint authority between Dublin and London.

Leading a vociferous campaign against joint authority may
be more palatable - and more historically appropriate - for
Reverend Paisley than determining Northern Ireland’s water
charges or education system in partnership with Sinn Féin.


Simon Roughneen is a senior correspondent for ISN Security
Watch covering Northern Irela.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the
author only, not the International Relations and Security
Network (ISN).


Opin: Stepping Forward On The North

In three days of talks beginning today in St Andrews, the
North's political parties will decide whether they can
reach agreement by November 24th on restoring a devolved

There is no guarantee that they will do so by then but we
should surely know by Friday whether it is possible to make
further progress on the two major issues of policing and
powersharing. The indications are that this is so. The two
governments and the parties deserve goodwill as they make
this final effort.

It has taken an exceedingly long time to reach this point,
most observers of the process would say. Artificial delays,
opportunist prevarications and continual turning of
tactical into strategic disagreements have exhausted much
of the momentum to complete it. That is why it has made
sense for the two governments to impose the deadline and
insist it is real.

Whether most of what is required can be completed by then
will depend on how well the bargaining goes. In briefings
ahead of this week's talks, the idea of a contingency
agreement, associating Sinn Féin's commitment to join the
Police Service of Northern Ireland with the Democratic
Unionist Party's willingness to engage in powersharing at a
date after the November 24th deadline, was put forward as a
fallback and rather pessimistic position.

There is now room to hope that more progress can be made
than that. As always, the parties devote much attention to
who will be blamed if they fail to agree. From Sinn Féin's
point of view there would be much less likelihood of it
being placed in that position if it held an ardfheis on the
question of policing between the end of this week and
November 24th. A decision to join the PSNI in principle
would invite a commensurate move by the DUP. A great deal
falls to political leadership in this endgame. If Sinn Féin
is already politically committed on the policing issue,
Gerry Adams should take this risk.

An important symbolic indication that such a move by Sinn
Féin could be reciprocated came when Dr Ian Paisley and
senior members of his party had a constructive meeting with
Catholic Primate Archbishop Seán Brady in Belfast on
Monday. The discussion ranged over the political, social
and economic agenda of issues in Northern Ireland.

Outsiders should not underestimate the significance of Dr
Paisley's statement afterwards: "We have had a very good
and useful exchange of views across a range of issues. It
is in the interests of everyone to develop the foundations
for stability and prosperity for all the people of Northern
Ireland". Such banal normalities are a real breakthrough in
communal relations.

The great question hanging over these talks is whether this
politically rational voice of Dr Paisley trumps his
religious fundamentalism which has opposed a settlement.
Last week's report of the Independent Monitoring Commission
saying the IRA has disarmed ought now to tip the balance in
favour of going for it.

© The Irish Times

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