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November 22, 2006

Intensive Talks Today To Rescue St Andrews Plan

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 11/23/06 Intensive Talks Today To Rescue St Andrews Plan
BB 11/22/06 Hain Warns On Party Nominations
BN 11/22/06 Ahern Makes 16 US Lobby Trips To Ease Plight Of Irish
EE 11/22/06 Frank Durkan Dead At 76


Intensive Talks Today To Rescue St Andrews Plan

Frank Millar, London Editor

Intensive negotiations will continue throughout today in an
effort to prevent tomorrow's first meeting of the
transitional Stormont Assembly ending in failure.

British prime minister Tony Blair is expected to be
involved in talks with the DUP about the terms in which the
party might indicate its intention to nominate a first
minister come the March 26th deadline for the appointment
of a new powersharing executive.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has issued his
starkest warning yet that failure to do so at tomorrow's
Assembly sitting could bring the current process aimed at
restoring devolution to a halt.

While stopping short of a threat to cancel Assembly
elections scheduled for March 7th, Mr Hain told MPs at
Westminster that failure by any party, including the DUP,
to indicate their intention would prompt people to ask
"what is the point of going ahead?"

Speaking during Northern Ireland Questions, Mr Hain said
the indication of future intent required - as distinct from
the formal nomination of first and deputy first ministers
designate originally proposed - was "a key and
indispensable part" of the St Andrews Agreement, and that
failure to achieve it would leave many people with no
confidence in other aspects of the process.

Mr Hain also clashed with DUP MP Nigel Dodds over his
repeated assertion that the devolution of policing and
justice powers to the Assembly was unlikely to occur in his
lifetime. Mr Hain said such "inflammatory statements" were
"hardly an encouragement" to Sinn Fein to meet its
obligation to resolve its attitude on the policing issue

However, Mr Dodds countered that in seeking "designation,
nomination or indication" Mr Hain was "in effect asking
people [ the DUP] to jump first" while Sinn Fein had
"retreated" to its pre-St Andrews position on policing.

Mr Hain insisted it was "not a question of jumping first",
while demanding: "If there is not a willingness to express
even an intention to nominate on Friday for March 26th,
what is the point of proceeding?"

Mr Hain also questioned Mr Dodds's "never in my lifetime"
statements when parliament had expressly legislated for the
eventual devolution of policing and justice powers.

Yesterday's clash followed exchanges during the passage of
the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill in the
Commons on Tuesday night when Mr Dodds reminded Mr Hain
that his colleagues Peter Robinson and the Rev William
McCrea had similarly stated the DUP's position on this
issue in the Commons last May.

The later stages of Tuesday night's debate also saw a
number of other hardline DUP interventions seeming to
confirm serious tensions within the party's parliamentary

Mr McCrea, Sammy Wilson and Gregory Campbell spoke of the
need for "a credible period of time" in which to test any
Sinn Fein commitment to support policing.

At the same time Upper Bann MP David Simpson said: "I have
no faith that Sinn Fein-IRA will follow the democratic line
on policing and the rule of law."

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson told the House that, "on
the basis of what government said", they had left St
Andrews in the expectation of Sinn Fein movement to a
special ardfheis to resolve the policing issue - while
asserting that the St Andrews Agreement did not make this
conditional upon a timetable for the devolution of policing
and justice powers.


Hain Warns On Party Nominations

If the DUP does not indicate their nominees for first and
deputy first minister on Friday there will be consequences,
the government has said.

The secretary of state told the Commons if nothing happens
people will wonder what point there is in moving ahead.

"It is not a question of jumping first," Peter Hain said.

"If there is not a willingness to express even an intention
to nominate on Friday for March 26, what is the point of

The St Andrews Agreement stipulated the DUP and Sinn Fein
should designate their choices when the assembly meets this
Friday, BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark
Devenport said.

"Since then Mr Hain has appeared to water down this
requirement, saying an indication that Ian Paisley and
Martin McGuinness will take the jobs should devolution be
restored in March next year will be enough to move
forward," he said.

"However, Ian Paisley asked what would happen if the
parties did not nominate designate or indicate their
choices this Friday.

"Mr Hain seemed exasperated, questioning the point of
pressing ahead.

"Questioned over the devolution of policing and justice, Mr
Hain warned the DUP about making what he called
inflammatory statements.

"Recently both Nigel Dodds and Peter Robinson have talked
about the transfer of such powers not happening in a
lifetime - Mr Hain said these remarks would hardly
encourage Sinn Fein to change its policy towards the

The DUP wants Sinn Fein to publicly endorse the PSNI.

However, Sinn Fein insists it cannot do that until it holds
a special party conference on the subject.

Speaking during Northern Ireland Questions on Wednesday Mr
Hain told shadow Northern Ireland secretary David
Lidington: "If inflammatory statements are made about never
devolving policing and justice in my lifetime, in my
political lifetime ... then that is hardly an encouragement
to Sinn Fein to move as quickly as we want them to on

"They are already cooperating on policing as they need to
do ... but if it is a question of moving this process
forward and using statements like `never in my lifetime'
when Parliament has expressly legislated for the devolution
of policing and justice, then its hardly an encouragement
for those who need to fulfil their obligations on policing
and the rule of law to do so very quickly."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/22 17:13:52 GMT


Ahern Makes 16 US Lobby Trips To Ease Plight Of Irish

22/11/2006 - 15:06:15

Foreign Affairs Minster Dermot Ahern has made 16
transatlantic trips to the US in two years to lobby for
immigration reform, it emerged today.

Mr Ahern clocked up the air miles since he took up office
at Iveagh House after a Cabinet reshuffle in September

The minister, who is taking D il questions on the issue
tomorrow, said today that the months ahead would prove
vital in securing citizenship status for Irish illegals.

The Government has renewed contacts with key US
Congressional figures since the mid-term elections last

Mr Ahern said: "I will continue my active contact with
Congressmen, embassy and consular staff and will lobby hard
for an acceptable solution to the difficulties faced by the
undocumented Irish."

He has just returned from New York where he met Irish lobby
groups, including the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform
which received ?110,000 in Government funding in 2006.

Members of Sinn Fein and the SDLP parties have also lobbied
on the issue in Washington in recent months.


Frank Durkan Dead At 76

By Ray O'Hanlon

Frank Durkan, who for years was in the front line of every
important U.S. legal case linked to the Northern Ireland
conflict, has died aged 76. Durkan passed away on Thursday,
Nov. 16 at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut.

The cause of death was complications from a lung infection.

Durkan had been ill and confined to hospital since the
middle of October. He made his last public appearance on
Oct. 7 when he delivered the keynote speech at the annual
gathering of the Mayo Society of Greater Cleveland in Ohio.

Born Francis Patrick Durkan in 1930, Durkan was a member of
the extended family from Bohola, Co. Mayo, that was to give
New York a mayor, a city council president and the Irish
half of one of the city's best-known law firms.

He was a nephew of Mayor William O'Dwyer and the late Paul
O'Dwyer, a first cousin of both attorney Brian O'Dwyer and
broadcaster Adrian Flannelly.

Durkan, whose parents were both teachers, arrived in New
York by ship in 1947.

His first night in his adopted city was unusual, but not to
become typical. He was put up in Gracie Mansion, official
residence of the mayor, who at the time was his uncle
William O'Dwyer.

As quickly as he was installed in Manhattan's most
prestigious address, Durkan was ousted at the behest of his
other New York uncle, Paul O'Dwyer.

The new arrival from Mayo, it was bluntly put to him, would
have to work his way up from street level like everyone

This the young Durkan did by way of a variety of jobs and
also by pursuing an education with the intensity,
commitment and vigor that would characterize attorney
Durkan in later years.

He initially earned a bachelor or arts degree at Columbia
University before
attending and graduating from New York Law School.

Durkan's legal career was based at the Downtown Manhattan
firm of O'Dwyer and Bernstien and it was from this
operating base that he progressed through a distinguished
career that focused, in the main, on negligence and
malpractice cases and, most famously, on cases involving
the denial of human and civil rights and others linked to
the situation in Northern Ireland.

It was with the North as the legal starting point that
Durkan appeared in courtrooms all over the United States
representing individuals and groups of accused such as the
"Fort Worth Five" and "Brooklyn Five," chief among them his
fellow Mayo native, George Harrison.

In 1982, Durkan successfully defended Harrison - a man who
openly admitted to running guns to the IRA - by linking the
operation in the minds of the jury to the Central
Intelligence Agency.

Durkan was at the center, or in a close supporting role, in
a number of extradition and deportation cases during the
1980s, including that of Desmond Mackin who was wanted in
Northern Ireland for shooting a British soldier.

The judge's opinion in favor of Mackin, delivered in the
Southern District of New York, embraced Durkan's argument
that a political exception clause applied in the case. The
ruling is considered by many legal experts to be a landmark
decision in the field of extradition law.

Durkan's career as a lawyer was matched by his political
activism and also the promotion and welfare of
organizations linked to his native county.

At the time of his death, Durkan chaired the lobby group,
Americans for a New Irish Agenda.

Durkan was a central figure in Irish Americans for Clinton
Gore, which played a key role in the evolution of President
Clinton's groundbreaking Irish policies during the 1990s.

Durkan was a member of the Mayo Society of New York, a
trustee of both the Irish Institute of New York and Mayo
Foundation for the Handicapped.

He represented the New York Mayo Football Club as a
delegate to the Gaelic Athletic Association and also served
as its president.

Durkan was also active over the years in the cause of
immigration reform and securing greater access to the U.S.
for his fellow Irish. At the time of his death he was a
board member of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

A resident of Rye in Westchester County, Durkan is
immediately survived by his wife Monica, daughters Ashling
and Mary Louise, and two grandsons.

In the aftermath of his death, tributes to Durkan came from
many leading figures in the Irish-American community.

The New York Times ran a lengthy obituary while a separate
obituary written by the Associated Press appeared in a
number of newspapers including the Boston Globe.

Throughout his years as an activist and attorney, Durkan
was closely associated with the work of Irish Northern Aid,
a group he publicly defended by arguing that it raised
money for the families of Irish Republican prisoners and
not for the IRA's campaign.

"Frank was a strong advocate for a united and free Ireland.
Frank will be missed by many, but his dedication and
commitment to help the oppressed and disenfranchised was an
inspiration to all and we will be forever in his debt," INA
chairman, Paul Doris, said in a statement.

"We just lost a great Irishman and as fine a gentleman as
you could ever meet," said Jim Gallagher of the Irish
American Unity Conference.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams expressed his deep sadness.

"Ireland has lost an indefatigable champion of Irish
freedom and peace. For decades Frank Durkan played a
central part in every major campaign by Irish America in
support of equality, peace and justice in Ireland," Adams

"As chairman of the Americans for a New Irish Agenda group
he helped engage with, and shape, the Clinton presidency's
policy toward Ireland. And over many years of legal work he
successfully defended many Irish republicans against

"Frank was a good friend who always kept faith with the
struggle for freedom and justice in Ireland. He will be
greatly missed," Adams said.

Francis Boyle, law professor at the University of Illinois,
said that along with Paul O'Dwyer, Durkan had been a role
model for an entire generation of young Irish-American

"Frank was an outstanding trial lawyer possessed with
courage, integrity, principles and compassion for the poor,
the oppressed and the downtrodden around the world. I
consider it an honor and a privilege to have been his
friend," said Boyle.

"I learned so much by watching him in action," said
Chicago-based attorney, Jerry Boyle, of Durkan.

"He showed us what it really means to be an Irish lawyer.
He was our go-to guy, our main man. We've lost a giant. He
was a great soul. A stubborn flame of Irish freedom has
finally flickered out, after lighting the way for so many
others. It's our job to carry that flame forward," he said.

"In every issue of concern to the Irish community, Frank
was a great leader and immigration reform was no
different," a statement from ILIR said.

"In his time, Frank helped thousands of Irish undocumented
secure jobs in New York and elsewhere, defended them pro
bono, and always looked after their welfare.

The greatest tribute we can pay Frank Durkan is to legalize
all the Irish undocumented and secure a victory on an issue
he deeply cared about," the statement added.

Brehon Law Society member Steve McCabe recalled a joint
mission to the Colombian capital of Bogota on behalf of the
"Colombia Three."

"At one point we had to walk up this hill and Frank was
having a tough time with the altitude. So we named the hill
Durkan Hill. The Brehons will for ever remember it by that
name," McCabe said.

Fr. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus said that
Durkan had been one of Mayo's finest.

"In the tradition of his late uncle, the great Paul
O'Dwyer, Frank was dedicated to justice and peace in
Ireland and to equality in America. God rest his noble
Irish soul," said McManus.

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