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November 16, 2006

SF Needs Not Declare Police Support Until Assembly Start

News About Ireland & The Irish

RT 11/16/06 Hain Confirms Ministerial Pledge Deadline
SF 11/16/06 Adams - Process Is Moving In Right Direction
BT 11/16/06 Extra Human Rights Powers, Diplock Courts To Go
BB 11/16/06 Date Set For NI Assembly Election
BT 11/16/06 DUP 'Delight' At Prospect Of March Poll
BN 11/16/06 Assembly To Be Dissolved For Election
BN 11/16/06 Sinn Fein To Meet SNP For First Time
BB 11/16/06 Deceased MLA's Vote Still Counts
IT 11/16/06 Opin: Progress In North Calls For Courage
BT 11/16/06 Opin: Light Shining At The End Of The Tunnel
RT 11/16/06 Court Refuses US Request To Extradite Couple
IT 11/16/06 New-Look Irish Times Aims For Wider Audience
NW 11/16/06 Society Talk On Women Of 1916


Hain Confirms Ministerial Pledge Deadline

16 November 2006 15:19

The Northern Secretary, Peter Hain, has confirmed that Sinn
Fein will not have to formally declare support for policing
until it assumes ministerial posts on 26 March next year.

Mr Hain was speaking following the publication at
Westminster of proposed legislation to give efFect to the
St Andrews Agreement, which - it is hoped - will lead to
the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has appealed to republicans
to judge the ministerial pledge in the overall context of
wider political progress, saying it only applies when
people are to become ministers next March.

The Government has called on the parties to consider the
legislation in an open and positive manner, arguing it
ofFers a definitive chance to set Northern Ireland on a new
course for the future.

A meeting of the Programme for Government Committee will
take place next Monday, with all sides represented at
leadership level.

However, it appears unlikely Dr Ian Paisley will lead the
DUP delegation.

Since the St Andrews talks five weeks ago, there has been
no dialogue between the DUP and Sinn Fein.


Adams - Process Is Moving In The Right Direction

Published: 16 November, 2006

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, Chief Negotiator Martin
McGuinness and senior Ard Chomhairle member Gerry Kelly
returned from London this morning after 48 hours of intense
and detailed discussions with the British government.
Speaking in Belfast on their return Mr. Adams said that he
was satisfied that Sinn Fein has kept the British
government to the Good Friday Agreement. He said that there
has been progress and the process is moving in the right

Mr. Adams said:

"We are satisfied that in the discussions over the last 48
hours that we have kept the British government to the
fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement. There has been
progress and the process is moving in the right direction,
even if it is inching forward. The reality is that a lot of
this could happen much more quickly if the necessary
political will was shown on all sides. That is what we are
pushing for.

"A series of meetings of the Programme for Government
Committee are due to begin next week and the Assembly is
due to be convened on November 24th where parties entitled
to do so will put forward their nominees.

"Sinn Fein's focus is on restoring the power-sharing and
all-Ireland political institutions so that they can deal
with the issues that are impacting adversely on people in
their daily lives. I believe we are closer to achieving
that this morning than yesterday morning.

"However there remain outstanding issues which must be
dealt with by the British government and the DUP."

Commenting on the clause on policing which is in the
Ministerial pledge Mr. Adams said:

"From a broadly nationalist and republican perspective
there will be a focus on the policing clause in the
Ministerial code and the wording put forward by the British
in legislation as a concession to the DUP.

"I would ask nationalists and republicans who are obviously
concerned at this issue to judge all of this in the round.

"Any pledge for Ministerial position only applies when
people become Ministers. That does not arise until March
26th of next year. This provides time for the work which is
still ongoing, around the issue of the timetable for the
transFer of policing from Westminster and the departmental
model, to conclude. And of course any decision Sinn Fein
takes on this issue will be a matter for this party." ENDS


Extra Human Rights Powers, Diplock Courts To Go

By Mark Hookham
16 November 2006

Ulster's human rights watchdog is to be handed beeFed up
powers to bring ground-breaking test cases and compel
information during its investigations.

Extending the reach of the Northern Ireland Human Rights
Commission (NIHRC) will form a core part of the Justice and
Security (Northern Ireland) Bill.

The announcement came as the Queen formally opened the new
Parliamentary session at Westminster yesterday.

The Bill is one of 29 which form the Government's
legislative programme for the coming session - the last
under Prime Minister Tony Blair.

NIHRC receives around œ1.5m of taxpayers' money each year
and is the only human rights commission in the UK.

The new legislation will allow the Commissioner, currently
Monica McWilliams, to take test cases under the European
Convention of Human Rights.

This will mean it can take on high-profile complaints which
would be impossible for victims to pursue on their own
through the UK or EU courts.

New powers will also give the Commission the right to enter
prisons, and other places of detention, and to "compel"
information during its probes.

The Commission has previously been refused entry to the
Juvenile Justice Centre in Rathgael, where it wanted to
interview children and staff as part of a follow-up to its
2002 In Our Care report.

The Justice and Security Bill will also sweep away the
Diplock courts - introduced in 1973 to combat intimidation
of jurors by paramilitary groups.

Currently, serious cases like murder are automatically put
before a judge without a jury.

Under the new law, all court cases will be automatically
scheduled for trial by jury unless the Director of Public
Prosecutions decides there is a risk of intimidation or
other circumstances that may pervert justice.

The Bill will also establish a watchdog to monitor Northern
Ireland's private security industry.

Ulster is currently the only part of the UK not to have an
oversight body to monitor the growing number of firms.

The Queen's Speech also included the Northern Ireland (St
Andrews Agreement) Bill, due to be published today, which
will restore devolved government to the province if there
is all-party agreement.

The Bill will place a duty on a future Executive to report
to the Northern Ireland Secretary a year after restoration
on the progress made towards the devolution of policing and

It will also amend the highly controversial Education Order
so that the move to scrap academic selection does not come
into efFect until after devolution is restored.

This, crucially, means the Assembly will be allowed to take
its own decision on whether to ditch grammar school tests.


Date Set For NI Assembly Election

Elections to a new Northern Ireland Assembly will be held
on 7 March next year, the government has said.

A transitional assembly, which comes into efFect on 24
November until the end of January 2007, has been
established until then.

The legislation also requires assembly ministers elected
after March's poll to make a pledge of office.

The pledge decrees that they will uphold the rule of law
and support policing and the courts.

This requirement was set out in paragraph six of the Saint
Andrews Agreement.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said the pledge was
an integral part of the legislation.

"This bill opens the door for devolved government in
Northern Ireland on a permanent basis," he added.

The government had previously given a deadline of 24
November for electing a first and deputy first minister to
the assembly and had warned that assembly members' salaries
would be stopped if these appointments were not made.

However, under the new legislation assembly members will
continue to be paid at the reduced salary rate of œ32,000
while the transitional assembly is in operation.


The government has been looking for the DUP and Sinn Fein
to indicate who would be taking the first and deputy first
minister posts.

However, BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark
Devenport said it was unlikely that the parties would
provide a firm answer on this.

"Obviously the prime candidates are Ian Paisley on the one
side and Martin McGuinness on the other.

"But the DUP are very insistent that there is going to be
no formal designation until after the election on 7 March.

"I guess what we are going to see is yet another fudge
where the parties don't really give a very straightforward
answer, but the government decides it is enough to move

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has appealed to
republicans who are concerned about the pledge of office to
view the issue "in the round".

"Clearly any pledge for ministerial position only applies
when people are to become ministers and that's not
scheduled to happen until March next year," he said.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson welcomed the announcement of
elections but said there were still gaps between the

Alliance leader David Ford said the government was playing
a dangerous game by holding elections before power-sharing
is secured.

"The changes made to the Good Friday Agreement have
weakened genuine power-sharing. We face the threat of DUP
and Sinn Fein action dissolving the Assembly at will," he

The St Andrews Agreement was published after intensive
three-day talks between the parties at St Andrews in

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/16 14:12:44 GMT


DUP 'Delight' At Prospect Of March Poll

By Noel McAdam and Claire McNeilly
16 November 2006

The DUP today hailed Government confirmation that Northern
Ireland is going to the polls again next March.

The party welcomed new leg

islation allowing for an election rather than a reFerendum
on the St Andrews Agreement proposals.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: "We are delighted
that it will be taking the form of an election and not a

"This will be an opportunity for everyone in Northern
Ireland to take a stake in their future. We always believed
that the people should have the final say."

As behind-the-scenes contacts between the parties and
officials in Belfast, London and Dublin continued, Sinn
Fein argued that real engagement with the DUP is still

"Irrespective of whether there is a reFerendum or an
election, what is needed is a real, serious engagement with
the DUP to move the process forward," Sinn Fein MLA Philip
McGuigan said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said he believed his party had been
able to curb the "mad, bad" and "wilder excesses" of
concessions to the DUP.

The Foyle MP argued that the almost daily vetoes which
could have been given to the DUP could have created virtual
gridlock in a new power-sharing administration.

With briefings for the political parties postponed
yesterday while negotiations continued, Ulster Unionist
leader Sir Reg Empey argued there had been attempts to
negotiate a St Andrews Agreement 'mark two'.

The East Belfast MLA said the on-going talks proved his
contention that issues had not been nailed down during the
three days of negotiations in St Andrews last month.

"We will only get solutions to these problems if and when
Sinn Fein and the DUP are prepared for once to put province
ahead of party," he said.


Assembly To Be Dissolved For Election

16/11/2006 - 14:00:51

The Northern Ireland Assembly is to be dissolved next
January to prepare for a fresh Stormont election on March
7, the Government revealed today.

Northern Secretary Peter Hain's Bill implementing the St
Andrews Agreement confirmed the Assembly would be dissolved
on January 30 ahead of the full restoration of power

The Bill will enable a transitional Assembly to meet from
November 24.

It is not clear if the Democratic Unionist leader Ian
Paisley and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness would be sworn in
as shadow first and deputy first ministers at next week's
meeting of the Assembly.

The legislation held out the possibility that the DUP and
Sinn Fein could declare Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness as
their preFerred choices as First and Deputy First Ministers
without actually having them nominated for serving in a
shadow capacity.

The Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill also
detailed the wording of a ministerial code to be taken on
the restoration of full devolution on March 26.

Power sharing ministers would have to affirm their support
for a four-part pledge of office.

It would require them to agree to promote the interests of
the entire community in Northern Ireland through the
Assembly towards the goal of a shared future, participate
fully in all the political institutions under the Good
Friday Agreement and to observe the joint nature of the
offices of First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Crucially, ministers would also be required to uphold the
rule of law based on the principles of fairness,
impartiality and democratic accountability, including
support for policing and the courts as set out in paragraph
six of the St Andrews proposals.

The pledge would also remind ministers of the contents of
paragraph six which require full support for the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the criminal justice
system and active encouragement of everyone to co-operate
fully with the PSNI in tackling crime in all areas.

It also demands active support for all criminal justice and
policing institutions, including the Northern Ireland
Policing Board.

The Transitional Assembly which the legislation sets up
will hold its first meeting on Friday week and would sit
until January 30.

The 108 MLAs would continue to get paid after the
dissolution of the Assembly, through an election until the
first sitting of a new Assembly.


Sinn Fein To Meet SNP For First Time

16/11/2006 - 09:16:49

Sinn Fein is to hold its first-ever meeting with the
Scottish National Party at Holyrood today.

A spokesman for Sinn Fein confirmed that Upper Bann
Assembly member John O'Dowd will lead a delegation to the
Scottish Parliament for a round of meetings with MSPs,
including the first-ever talks with the SNP.

Talks have also been scheduled with civil servants from the
Department of Justice in Edinburgh on tackling

Representatives of the Scottish Socialist Party,
Independent MSP Margo MacDonald and trade unionists are
also due to meet Mr O'Dowd and his colleagues.

The nationalist SDLP and Ulster Unionists have in recent
months held meetings with the Scottish Executive and MSPs,
as well as anti-sectarian groups, to discuss how they are
tackling religious bigotry.

Earlier this year Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell
addressed members of the Northern Ireland Assembly on the
benefits of devolution and brieFed them on his executive's
efforts to stamp out sectarianism in Scotland.


Deceased MLA's Vote Still Counts

The vote of a deceased Sinn Fein Assembly member may
continue to be exercised even though the party has not
filled his post.

Michael Ferguson, 53, died in September after battling
testicular cancer.

Sinn Fein has not been able to fill his vacancy, as none of
the substitutes he nominated when elected in 2003 has been
able to take up the job.

The vote can count towards the party's strength prior to
the fresh election in March, the new St Andrews law says.

The clause could also apply if any other MLA's position
became vacant.

Mr Ferguson was an assembly member for West Belfast. The
father-of-four had been a councillor for the last 18 years.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/16 17:39:15 GMT


Progress In North Calls For Courage

The most inflexible elements in Northern Ireland cannot be
allowed to dictate the pace of political change. That path
will lead to continuing social unrest and economic
stagnation. If hope and opportunity is to be ofFered to
young families and long-sufFering communities, then the
leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein must
show courage and maturity by stepping away from extremists
to forge a new consensus.

It will not be easy. Nearly 40 years of death and
destruction have left their mark. Some people who lost
loved ones Feel angry and betrayed. Others believe that
long-held principles are being abandoned. And there are
those so deeply damaged by tribal prejudice that they
cannot tolerate the thought of reconciliation and will
resist it by any means possible. Overall, however, there is
a deep-seated desire for democratic normality, political
accommodation and the re-establishment of devolved

At this stage, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party
know what is required of them in terms of commitments to
policing and powersharing. But political skirmishing
continued yesterday as the parties disagreed over the terms
of a ministerial pledge and the timing and terms for a
devolution of policing powers. British legislation based on
the St Andrews Agreement may give rise to a fresh bout of
political point-scoring and condition-setting, given the
levels of suspicion that exist between the parties. But
time is wasting. And the suspicion remains that precautions
are being taken against the collapse of negotiations and
the development of a "blame game".

Northern Secretary Peter Hain is likely to announce a March
date for Assembly elections later today, when legislation
is published. And while it may be too much to expect prior
agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP on legislative
change, an election process could provide them with an
opportunity to reassure their supporters while spelling out
the economic benefits of political co-operation. In regard
to the latter, they will be singing off the same hymn sheet
as the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and the Alliance parties.

Surrendering to the violent and oppressive tendencies of
the past is not an option, although small groups in both
communities would willingly do so. An upsurge in dissident
republican activity has underlined that threat and
emphasised the need for Sinn Fein to complete its
transition to democratic politics. Most of the hard
decisions have already been taken. The IRA has been
disarmed and stood down. Members have taken their places in
an Assembly and Executive. But Sinn Fein has shied away
from supporting the police. The DUP has its own
difficulties in agreeing to share power with republicans.
But the longer the parties prevaricate and set
preconditions, the greater the likelihood the entire
edifice will come tumbling down. If government threats to
wind up the Assembly are taken at face value, the parties
have little more than a week to decide on their political


Opin: Light Shining At The End Of The Tunnel

16 November 2006

In the face of stiff opposition within his church and his
party, the Rev Ian Paisley has indicated that he is still
positive about the St Andrews Agreement. His editorial in
the current edition of the Free Presbyterian Church's
magazine, "The Revivalist", has revived hopes that the
conditions may be right for him and Sinn Fein's Martin
McGuinness to sign up as shadow First and Deputy First
Ministers on November 24, the official deadline.

Whole paragraphs are reprinted from his contribution to the
DUP's consultation document, detailing the changes that had
been negotiated to the Good Friday Agreement and asking
people if these represented "a basis for moving forward to
devolution". The answer was a qualified "yes", which the
Government has readily accepted, and clearly Mr Paisley has
no intention of retreating from his previous position on a

As moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, the DUP
leader might have been expected to respond to criticism of
the St Andrews Agreement by church members, but he has
chosen not to. In the editorial, he repeats his conviction
that "true unionists" must give leadership. It was not the
time to withdraw, but to withstand, leading the province
"out of the night and into the light".

If that is the spirit in which the DUP faces the last eight
days before the Assembly will be reconvened, there must be
a genuine prospect of success. Although both the DUP and
Sinn Fein insist that St Andrews is still "work in
progress", and problems over the Ministerial pledge of
support for the PSNI and the rule of law have yet to be
resolved, no one has yet threatened to leave the
negotiating table.

Indeed, despite some stormy meetings within his party and
church, Mr Paisley has reiterated his view that devolution
is the best course for unionism - even if it entails power-
sharing with Sinn Fein. "If you want to save the Union and
have a devolved democratic government," he writes, "then
the changes which the DUP fought for and obtained in this
new Agreement, to saFeguard your British and democratic
rights, must be made."

Having heard the guarded responses to the Agreement from
the parties, the Government is proceeding with the
legislation that will put it into efFect - provided that
the nominations can go ahead tomorrow week. There are still
so many loose ends to be tied up - including what is hoped
will be a united demand for the reduction in corporation
tax recommended by the Economic Research Institute - that
nothing can be certain. All one can be sure of is that the
negotiating will continue, in London and Dublin, until the
last possible minute.


Court Refuses US Request To Extradite Couple

16 November 2006 16:15

The High Court has refused an application for the
extradition to the US of a Co Cork couple to face charges
of kidnapping their grandson.

Tim and Ethel Blake, both 60 years old, from Lower Midleton
Street, Cobh, are wanted in the US for the alleged
aggravated kidnapping of their now 11-year-old grandson in
July 2004.

Their grandson is now back living with his mother in
Winthrop Harbour near Chicago in Illinois.

This morning Mr Justice Michael Peart refused an
application for the couple's extradition, in what he
described as a very unusual case.

He said he was rejecting all but one of the grounds put
forward by the couple in opposition to their extradition -
that of proportionality of the minimum sentence they would
face if convicted of the crime in the US.

The Blakes showed little reaction when the judgement was
given in court.

Afterwards, outside the court, their solicitor said on
their behalf that they were relieved that it was over, and
added that it had been a difficult time.

He said they were looking forward to getting back to Cobh
and getting on with their lives. The couple also thanked
all those who had helped and supported them.

Family dispute

The Blakes' grandson had lived with them at their home in
Cobh until he was aged more than four.

In 1999 the Blakes travelled with their grandson to the US
to see their daughter, who is the boy's mother.

Once there, however, his mother refused to let the boy go
back to Ireland, and so he remained in the US.

The Blakes were concerned about the conditions in which
their daughter was living at the time.

In 2001 they sought and were granted guardians of their
grandson, who was made a ward of court by the Cork Circuit

But they were subsequently unsuccessful in getting an order
in the US courts allowing them to bring their grandson back
to Ireland.

In July 2004 the Blakes travelled again to visit their
grandson and daughter in Illinois.

When they returned they brought the boy back with them.
They were subsequently accused of kidnapping and if they
had been convicted in a US court faced a mandatory minimum
sentence of six years, and a maximum sentence of 30 years.

Their grandson was subsequently sent back to his mother in
the US in November of 2004.

During the extradition hearing earlier this month, the High
Court was told by counsel for the State that the case was a
'very emotional' matter arising out of protracted family

But the State argued the problems could not be taken into
account in the extradition hearing, which was both
'legitimate and relevant'.

In response, counsel for the Blakes argued that neither the
couple's grandson, nor his mother now wanted to see them
extradited. The boy's mother had written to the US
authorities pleading with them not to prosecute her
parents, the court was told.

The couple's counsel also argued that extraditing them
would be a breach of their constitutional rights.


New-Look 'Irish Times' Website Aims For Wider Audience

Conor Pope

The Irish Timeswebsite has been relaunched and
its breaking-news service made freely available.

The new-look site, which went live yesterday, has a
considerably bolder, cleaner and more contemporary design
and will allow to better showcase its editorial
content and services.

Improved technology also means there will be a clearer
division between the free content and the subscriber-only
areas of the site. Non-subscribers will be able to read the
introductions to the articles in the daily newspaper, but
the majority of The Irish Times content and its archive
will remain exclusively available to subscribers to the

Features introduced as part of the relaunch include web
television news and live market data. The
television service will Feature breaking world news and
will be available from the homepage and the breaking-news
area of the site.

Making's breaking-news service accessible to
all readers will significantly widen the reach of the
website's editorial content. It is aimed also at boosting
non-subscriber readership to take advantage of the online
advertising market.

Although online advertising has grown significantly in the
US and across the EU in recent years, the pace in Ireland
has been considerably slower. This is largely attributable
to the slow roll-out and take-up of broadband.

Just one per cent of advertising revenue currently finds
its way to online businesses.

Industry analysts are predicting significant growth in the
online display advertising market in Ireland over the next
two years. And although is already among the
busiest websites in the State with monthly page impressions
of close to 16 million, it is hoped to drive more traffic
into it.

"With good industry growth expectations, we expect
advertising revenues for to grow healthily on
the back of the developing online display and classified
markets," said general manager Una O'Hare. She
said The Irish Times group's "recent expansion of its
online portfolio" including the acquisition of property
portal presented "with great short-
term and strategic opportunities".

The redesigned site will also include the newspaper's
revamped classified services in the coming weeks. The
subscription model was introduced by in 2002 to
increase the value placed on its online content and to
ensure that the company was not solely dependent on
advertising revenue.

Premium content remains the company's largest revenue
stream and there are more than 55,000 users who access
premium content, mobile services and e-mail packages on the

"We wish to engage a wider audience while continuing to
deliver a top quality product to our subscribers," said Ms
O'Hare. "Subscribers pay from approximately ?1.50 a week to
access The Irish Times and an article archive stretching
back over 10 years which represents exceptional value."

What's new. . . .

Free breaking news:The website's comprehensive breaking
news service, which has only been available to premium
content subscribers in recent years, is now freely
available to all users.

Web TV ofFers users a selection of world and
entertainment news daily.

Archive calendar: An enhanced archive service allows users
to navigate through back issues with greater ease.

Abstracts of premium articles:The introductory paragraphs
of all articles are now accessible to all users of the

Live market data:Regularly updated financial information
from the Irish Stock Exchange is accompanied by live
closing prices from the world's major bourses.


Society Talk On Women Of 1916

THE author of 'When History was Made: the Women of 1916' is
Tempo Historical Society's guest on Thursday November 23 at
Dooneen Community Education Centre, starting at 8pm.

Ruth Taillon's interest in the women of 1916 springs
naturally from her work as a socialist Feminist. Originally
from Canada she has lived in Ireland since 1980 and is
currently based in Belfast. She has campaigned for
political, economic and social justice and women's rights
for more than 30 years. She has taken part in International
conFerences and in a speech delivered in New York focused
on how women have been the primary victims of
fundamentalist repression in Christian, Islamic and Hindu
cultures. With no holds barred Ruth said "So long, however,
as women were the primary victims of fundamentalist
repressions, there was little concern shown about denials
of human rights."

The following week, on Thursday November 30, the guest is
Dr Michael Foy whose book, co-written with Brian Barton on
the Easter Rising has been described as the best overall
account. However Michael has moved on a Few years from 1916
and is currently pre-occupied with Michael Collins. His
talk is entitled 'Michael Collins and Bloody Sunday
November 1920'.

The venue for the talks by these outstanding academics and
thinkers is Dooneen Community Education Centre which is
sign-posted from Imeroo Cross on the Tempo/Fintona road and
approached from Trillick by the Greenan road.

From Fivemiletown, take the Clabby Road to Clabby Cross and
drive straight on to Imeroo Cross.
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