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November 09, 2006

Survey: Voters Back St Andrew's Agreement

News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 11/09/06 Survey: Voters Back St Andrew's Agreement
IN 11/09/06 PR Offensive Launched By Unionists
RT 11/09/06 Adams To Meet Supporters In New York
RT 11/09/06 Ahern: US Relationship Unaffected By Mid-Terms
NJ 11/09/06 SF Sean Oliver: Visitor From The Emerald Isle
IN 11/09/06 Police Fire Shot During ‘LVF Row’
BB 11/09/06 Man Held On 'Feud' Incident Freed
BT 11/09/06 Almost 400 A&E Staff Attacked In Last Three Years
BT 11/09/06 Police To Question Brothers In Hospital Over Burnt Couple
IN 11/09/06 Brothers Related To SDLP Politician
IN 11/09/06 Omagh Bomb Expert Clashes With Defence
BB 11/09/06 Anger Over Omagh Memorial Delay
BB 11/09/06 Abandoned Bomb Report Is Checked
IC 11/09/06 Castle Street: A Royal Mess
BT 11/09/06 Opin: America Sending A Message To Ulster
IN 11/09/06 Opin: Questions Haunt Probe Into Loyalist Collusion
IN 11/09/06 Opin: Paisley’s About-Face Has Faithful Still In Shock
IN 11/09/06 Opin: Ireland On The Cusp Of A Historic Development
BT 11/09/06 Adrift In The Atlantic
IN 11/09/06 ‘Pivotal’ Magazine On Sale At Book Fair
IT 11/09/06 An Bord Pleanála Approves Plan For Haughey Estate
BN 11/09/06 Pet Labrador Saves 10-Year-Old Boy From Pit-Bull Attack


Survey: Voters Back St Andrew's Agreement

09/11/2006 - 08:51:03

More than half of people in a survey released in the North
today back Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair’s plan for reviving
power sharing.

However, the opinion poll showed although the majority of
Democratic Unionist voters supported the St Andrew's
Agreement (46.6% in favour compared to 31.9% against), it
fell just short of half.

The poll, which was released on the eve of the deadline for
responses to the St Andrew's proposals, found over half of
Sinn Féin voters (57.9%) backed them.

Under the accord, Sinn Féin would be require to change its
policing policy by publicly endorsing the PSNI.

Ian Paisley’s DUP, which has yet to formally declare it
will follow Mr Ahern and Mr Blair’s power-sharing
timetable, has insisted it cannot share power with Sinn
Féin next March without republicans committing themselves
to supporting the PSNI and upholding the rule of law.

Sinn Féin, which gave its qualified backing to the St
Andrew's plan on Monday, has said it is not yet in a
position to convene a special conference on policing and
needs a target date for the transfer of policing and
justice powers.

The strongest support for the St Andrew's proposals in the
poll was among SDLP voters (71.6%), followed by supporters
of the Alliance Party (63.2%).

SDLP leader Mark Durkan will today discuss efforts to
revive power sharing with the Taoiseach in Dublin.

More Ulster Unionist voters (51.8%) in the poll backed the
plan than DUP supporters.

Reg Empey’s party today published a four-page insert,
accusing the rival DUP of effectively moving from an anti-
Good Friday Agreement position to signing up to a plan to
implement it.

There was also stronger support in the opinion poll for the
devolution roadmap (48.1% for, 15.4% against) among
unionists who back parties other than the DUP and UUP.

Among nationalists who identified themselves as neither
Sinn Féin nor SDLP voters, more people were opposed to the
St Andrew's plan, with 48.5% against compared with 33.3% in

The opinion poll of 1,100 people was conducted by
PricewaterhouseCoopers for BBC Northern Ireland’s Hearts
And Minds programme.


PR Offensive Launched By Unionists

By Staff Reporter

The Ulster Unionists will go on the offensive against the
Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists today, urging voters
not to be fooled by spin about the St Andrews Agreement.

A four-page insert by the party is to be published in
several papers across the north.

Just one day before the British and Irish Governments’
deadline for responses to their proposals to revive power
sharing, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey, pictured
said: “There has been much spin put about on the St Andrews
Agreement and precious little in the way of facts.

“We have endeavoured to offer a simple concise summary of
what the Agreement contains, what foundations it is based
on and where some of the problem areas are so that the
public can make a genuinely informed decision about the
agreement as a whole.

“We also offer our vision for what we want to happen in
politics in Northern Ireland.

“We want to see real politics on real issues that affect
everyone, regardless of their background or political

The UUP’s document was being published a day after the DUP
deadline for public responses to the St Andrews agreement

The Rev Ian Paisley and his party have yet to indicate
publicly whether they will follow Prime Minister Tony Blair
and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s timetable leading to
power sharing next March.

Sinn Fein and the nationalist SDLP have indicated they will
embark on the timetable. The DUP two weeks ago published
its own analysis of the St Andrews Agreement in a document
inserted into daily and weekly newspapers in Northern

In the Ulster Unionists’ four-page document, they accuse
the DUP of switching position on the Good Friday agreement
and signing up to its fundamental tenets, framework and

In a foreword, Sir Reg argues: “The DUP stood on the
platform of first smashing the Agreement, then of changing
it. They have failed in both.

“For all their charges of sellout and accompanying hellfire
and brimstone speeches over the years, they have not
changed the Agreement.

“To spare their blushes there are some detailed alterations
to the workings and implementation but many of these are
not for the better.

“This paper will explain what some of these changes mean.
But we will leave the DUP to explain their pro-Agreement
conversion to their own supporters.”

The UUP document accuses the DUP of agreeing to the
establishment of a cross border parliamentary forum and
all-Ireland civic forum and criticises plans for an Irish
Language Act at Westminster which will put the language on
an equal footing with English.

The UUP also challenges DUP claims that they have saved
academic selection and argues that plans to phase out 50-50
recruitment quotas for Catholics and Protestants to the
police when they reach the 30 per cent target for Catholic
members are not new.

Sir Reg’s party also insists that it wants an assembly
capable of tackling real issues that matter to the people
of Northern Ireland.


Adams To Meet Supporters In New York

09 November 2006 08:53

The Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is due to meet Irish
American supporters in New York today, ahead of the
deadline for responses to the plan for restoring power-
sharing at Stormont.

Mr Adams, who left for the US yesterday, had previously
been barred from fundraising by the US government because
of his party's failure to support the PSNI.

The brief visit is being viewed as encouragement by the
Bush administration for Sinn Féin to change its policy on
policing in the wake of the St Andrews Agreement.

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern want Northern Ireland politicians to indicate
by tomorrow whether they will follow the timetable for
devolution proposed at last month's St Andrews' talks.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionists will go on the offensive
against the DUP today, urging voters not to be fooled by
spin about the St Andrews Agreement.

A four-page insert by the party is published today in The
Belfast Newsletter.

In it, party leader Sir Reg Empey says that too much spin
has been put about on the St Andrews Agreement and precious
little in the way of facts.


Ahern: US Relationship Unaffected By Mid-Terms

09 November 2006 12:21

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that he does not believe
the results of the US mid-term elections will make much
difference to Ireland's dealings with the Bush

Mr Ahern said that both sides had made the war in Iraq a
key issue in the election and that US President George W
Bush had acknowledged its importance with the changes he
made yesterday.

US media has projected that the Democrats are certain to
win the final Senate seat in the mid-term elections.

However the Virginia Election Board has not confirmed the
prediction and the incumbent Republican candidate George
Allen has not conceded victory to his Democrat rival, Jim

Mr Webb has been leading by just under 7,300 votes, or
about 0.3%.

The race remains open while officials verify preliminary
counts at local polling stations before announcing the

Commentators say there has so far been no sign of the
Democrat's lead being eroded.

News of Mr Webb's balance-tilting victory came after
Democrat Jon Tester beat incumbent Republican Conrad Burns
in Montana to pick up a fourth seat for the party.

Combined with two avowed pro-Democrat Independents in the
100-member Senate, the Democrats will end up with a 51-49
margin over the Republicans should the Virginia result be

Unease with the conduct of the war in Iraq and a series of
scandals linked to Republicans are seen as root causes of
the mid-term election defeat.

Voters also expressed concern over skyrocketing health care
costs, the economy, illegal immigration and so-called
'values' issues such as stem-cell research, gay marriage
and abortion.

Rumsfeld steps down

Yesterday evening, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld
resigned after the Republicans lost control of the House of

Mr Bush acknowledged that voters were frustrated over the
Iraq war and announced Mr Rumsfeld's resignation and
replacement with former CIA director Robert Gates.

Mr Gates, 63, has served six US presidents, including the
current US leader's father, George H Bush.

Mr Rumsfeld's departure ends his second term as head of the
Pentagon, after a career as a Navy pilot and serving as
White House chief of staff to former US President Gerald


Visitor From The Emerald Isle.

A renewed push for unity in Ireland

Thursday, November 09, 2006
By Julie O'Connor

HAMILTON -- On a two-week tour of the East Coast to raise
awareness and money for the Irish nationalist party Sinn
Fein, Sean Oliver spoke at Tir Na Nog pub here last night
to drum up support for the party's "All-Ireland" agenda.

In the back room of the well-known Hamilton Irish pub, the
North Belfast native explained Sinn Fein's new Irish unity
campaign and gave an update on the current situation in
Northern Ireland.

Oliver was invited by pub owner Billy Briggs, who recently
started a new division of the Hamilton chapter of the
Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), a national Irish
Catholic organization founded in New York in 1836.

Hamilton is one of the largest of the 33 divisions of New
Jersey's AOH, said Michael Glass, who sits on the National
Board of Hibernians.

There are about 1,300 members in the Hamilton division, not
including members of the Ladies Division or the Emerald
Society, said ladies division President Judy Quinn.

Briggs' new AOH offshoot, called Division 10, has about 15
or 16 members, according to Quinn.

The new division wants to focus more on supporting the
peace process in Northern Ireland, according to Glass.

In recent years, the AOH has become friendlier with Sinn
Fein, which sends representatives to the United States
every year to generate support. Oliver is also being hosted
by Irish Northern Aid and the Irish American Unity

Tonight, the Friends of Sinn Fein (FOSF), a U.S.-based
lobbying and fundraising organization, will host an event
in New York City in which Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
also will speak about the All-Ireland reunification agenda.

FOSF will be collecting a "fairly substantial" amount of
money from supporters at tonight's dinner in New York, said

"They still have a feeling that the nation should be
reunited," he said of the party's Irish American

Oliver was more hesitant about whether Irish Americans
would be in favor of a socialist republic in Ireland, as
stated in the proclamation Sinn Fein drew up after the 1916
Easter Rising.

"That's actually a debate we'll have over the next couple
of weeks," he said. "An 'Ireland of Equals' is really the
slogan we put together. It's a document that's 80 years
old, but it's still the document we believe today."


Police Fire Shot During ‘LVF Row’

By Staff Reporter

A SHOT was fired in the air yesterday by police in Antrim
investigating an incident thought to be linked to a
loyalist feud.

Police received a report that masked men had tried to enter
a house on the Ballycraigy estate at 2.30am.

Two men were arrested.

It is believed the gang went to the house to evict a
resident as part of a row linked to the LVF. The man is
understood to have received death threats a week ago.

The Police Ombudsman’s Office is investigating the

SDLP assembly member Thomas Burns said he was “deeply

“If reports of a resurgence of feuding linked to the LVF
are true, then people will be very concerned indeed,” he

“The police and the whole community have got to be
absolutely firm in dealing with paramilitary gangs of all


Man Held On 'Feud' Incident Freed

Police have released one of two men they arrested over an
incident believed to be linked to a loyalist feud in

An officer fired a shot in the air during the incident in
the early hours of Wednesday.

Police received a report about masked men trying to enter a
house in the Ballycraigy area at about 0230 GMT.

It is believed the gang went to the house to evict a
resident as part of a row linked to the LVF.

The man is understood to have received death threats a week
ago. No-one was hurt during the incident.

An investigator from the Police Ombudsman's office is at
the scene.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/09 12:03:49 GMT


Almost 400 A&E Staff Attacked In Last Three Years

Shocking rise in assaults condemned

By Nigel gould
09 November 2006

Nearly 400 of Ulster's frontline hospital staff have been
the victims of assault while on duty over the last three
years, it can be revealed today.

New figures show that in the past year, no fewer than 142
accident and emergency workers were attacked in hospital
casualty departments across Northern Ireland.

Last year there were 112.

The biggest rise in the number of assault victims took
place at Belfast City Hospital, where 51 casualty unit
staff were attacked over the year - compared to just 14 in
2005. Elsewhere, 17 assaults on A&E staff at the Mater were
reported during 2004 and 12 at the Royal, 11 at Antrim and
nine at the Ulster.

Dr Brendan Sinnott, a consultant at the City's A&E unit,
said more incidences of assault were now being reported
thanks to a greater awareness of violence against doctors
and nurses.

"There is also a greater surveillance," he said. "Staff are
told to report incidences of violence against them.

"Many of the incidents are drink or drugs-related and
involve nurses.

"There seems to be a culture now where young people think
they can get away with it."

DUP MP for Upper Bann, David Simpson, who raised the issue
in the House of Commons, said such attacks could not be
allowed to continue.

"Attacks on accident and emergency staff must be utterly
condemned," he said.

"Violence against those serving the community in such a
vital role is absolutely despicable.

"These attacks must end. As well as health trusts, there is
a responsibility on government to act to protect these
public sector employees. Emergency departments can be
lonely places, particularly late at night or in the early
hours of the morning.

"Attacks on all health staff are totally unacceptable and
cannot be allowed to continue."


Police Wait To Question Brothers In Hospital Over Burnt Couple

Police raid home of two men receiving treatment

By Deborah McAleese
09 November 2006

Police investigating the attempt to burn a couple alive in
Co Armagh were last night trying to establish when they can
question four brothers - curently being treated in hospital
with serious burns - about the murder bid.

The Clady home of two of the brothers was raided by police
and a number of items removed for examination after 21
year-old Lisa McClatchey and her 33-year-old partner Thomas
O'Hare were doused with flammable liquid and set alight by
a six-man gang at their Foyle Road home near Keady.

Ms McClatchy and Mr O'Hare were both still fighting for
their lives last night in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Two of the brothers detectives are hoping to speak with
about the attack remained critically ill in a Dublin
hospital and the other two were said to be seriously ill.

The brothers - believed to be the Smith brothers from Clady
aged - presented themselves at the A&E unit of Our Lady of
Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda suffering from burns in the
hours following the Monday night blaze. They were all
transferred to St James' Hospital in Dublin for specialist

Police said that given the seriousness of the incident
officers would routinely check hospitals for admissions for
burn injuries.

The Smiths, who live close to Mr O'Hare's parents Benny and
Margaret, are cousins of SDLP Armagh councillor Sharon
Haughey, who yesterday strongly condemned the attack.

Police have not yet revealed a motive for the attack,
however they have not ruled out paramilitary involvement or
that of vigilantes.

Ms McClatchy's family, from Portadown, maintained a vigil
by her bedside throughout yesterday and were said by
neighbours to be "deeply distressed" by the attack. However
a family member told the Belfast Telegraph that Lisa was
"still fighting".

Mr O'Hare's parents said that his condition had not
improved and that they were too upset to make any further
comments about their son.

On Tuesday, Detective Chief Inspector David McConville, the
officer in charge of the investigation, said it was an
unusual and vicious crime and appealed for information.

He added that police are looking for six suspects.


Brothers Related To SDLP Politician

By Suzanne McGonagle

Four brothers admitted to a Dundalk hospital hours after a
couple were set on fire in their Co Armagh home are related
to an SDLP politician.

It emerged last night that Armagh councillor Sharon Haughey
is a cousin of the Smith brothers from the village of

Police were last night attempting to establish if the
serious burns they are being treated for are in any way
linked to the attack near Keady on Monday night.

The men, believed to be aged between 24 and 34, were last
night still in a “critical” condition after being moved to
a Dublin hospital, and it is understood one has been given
the Last Rites.

Ms Haughey has described the attack as “absolutely

It has also emerged that PSNI officers may travel across
the border to carry out interviews with the men.

Lisa McClatchey (21) and Thomas O’Hare (33) were doused in
petrol and torched at their home, with Ms McClatchey
suffering 80 per cent burns.

Both also remained in a critical condition at the Royal
Victoria Hospital last night.

Police believe a gang of up to six men were involved in the
horrific attack.

Detectives searched a house in Clady, Co Armagh on Tuesday.

It is understood several items were taken away for

Police have not ruled out the possibility the attack was
carried out by self-styled vigilantes or that there may
have been paramilitary involvement.


Omagh Bomb Expert Clashes With Defence

By Staff Reporter

A Forensic expert who claims he found “extremely strong”
evidence, up to one in a billion to link Omagh bomb accused
Sean Hoey to two other bombings through Low Copy Number DNA
tests, has clashed with the defence over the accreditation
and validation of those tests.

Dr Jonathan Paul Whitaker admitted that besides two other
forensic laboratories in the UK, one in the Netherlands and
in New Zealand there are no other labs in the world using
his technique.

Dr Whitaker further agreed with Orlando Pownall QC,
defending, that in America the FBI does not use the
technique for evidential purposes in court proceedings.

“We are not looking to the FBI as role models or America,”
he said.

However, the expert from the profit-making government-owned
Forensic Science Service (FSS) in England, claimed the
question had to be “kept within perspective”.

He told the Belfast Crown Court trial of 37-year-old Hoey
from Molly’s Road, Jonesborough, who denies 58 terrorist
offences, that even the more widely accepted SGMplus DNA
test came under criticism when first developed.

In accepting that those questioning the Low Copy DNA
technique were not “a small minority of sceptics”, Dr
Whitaker claimed that there will always be others who would
be outspoken about new developments but that was something
which should be encouraged.

It has been revealed that while the FSS claims to have been
accredited by the British Standards Institute (BSI), in a
letter to Hoey’s solicitors the institute said they had

Dr Whitaker said that BSI had nothing to do with
accrediting the Low Copy Number test procedures but with
accrediting their labs.

He said that FSS had been validated by the UK Accreditation
Service and this was more important.

He is to return to court today to clarify what
accreditation the FSS has.


Anger Over Omagh Memorial Delay

Relatives of the Omagh bomb victims are to meet Victims'
Minister David Hanson to discuss the length of time it has
taken to erect a memorial stone.

The memorial has been planned for several years.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was killed in the
explosion, said action needed to be taken to have the
memorial put in place.

He said the hold-up was because the Sinn Fein dominated
council objected to the wording for the memorial.

Mr Gallagher said difficulties first surfaced when they
presented their form of words to a special working grouping
involving Omagh District Council representatives earlier
this year.

He said: "They thanked us and then at the next meeting said
it's better to broaden this out for consultation and better
to have widespread public support.


"The real reason is because the council is not willing to
accept wording on the stone that states the facts of what
happened on August 15 1998."

The words proposed for the monument were to read: "To
honour and remember 31 people murdered and hundreds injured
from three nations by a dissident republican terrorist car

"We're talking about a Sinn Fein-controlled council, and
they are not going to have it, or it would have happened,"
Mr Gallagher added.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey, who has met
with the Omagh families, said all the families wanted was a
simple plaque at the point where the blast occurred.

"Nobody is actually suggesting that the Provisional
republican movement did it. The victims' group isn't
suggesting that," he said.

"But the fact is there's resistance to the wording and it's
merely prolonging their agony and not helping their

"They should be entitled to have a simple memorial."

In a statement, Omagh District Council said the working
group believed "it was essential to create a memorial which
would be valued and respected by the whole community".

"This process has been a long term project which has been
sensitive to the healing process within the community," it

"It is proposed that the memorial will be completed in time
for the tenth anniversary on 15 August 2008 which will be a
fitting date for the unveiling."

Twenty nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins,
died in the explosion on 15 August 1998.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/09 06:43:17 GMT


Abandoned Bomb Report Is Checked

Police are investigating reports that a bomb has been
abandoned in County Fermanagh.

Earlier, a caller claiming to represent the Continuity IRA
told a newspaper in the area that a landmine had been left
near Rosslea.

The caller said the device had been abandoned on the Clogh
Road after failing to detonate.

The police have said that anyone in the area who sees any
suspicious objects should contact them.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/09 11:18:01 GMT


Castle Street: A Royal Mess

West Belfast’s gateway to the city centre crumbles as
North, South and East get a boost

Andersonstown News
Evan Short

A West Belfast councillor has blasted the British
government, accusing them of spending millions on every
gateway into Belfast city centre – except the West Belfast
one at Castle Street.

Cllr Fra McCann made the claim as he threw his support
behind businessmen from the area who are pressing for a
regeneration package in line with major schemes currently
taking place or about to begin throughout the city.

“If you look at Castle Street and the areas surrounding it
there is total dereliction,” said Cllr McCann.

“South Belfast has got Laganside and Victoria Square.

“East Belfast has got the Titanic Quarter and North Belfast
has got the Cathedral Quarter.

“West Belfast has got nothing – absolutely nothing.

“The Castle Street of 2006 looks no different to the one of
1976," he added.

Councillor McCann, along with his Sinn Féin colleague Paul
Maskey, has called for a strategy to be developed to revamp
an area that has been left out of all major redevelopment
plans – including the ambitious ‘North/West Quarter'
blueprint launched this week.

Fra McCann says the real issue is how Castle Street is
being “ignored”.

“If this North/West plan goes ahead the only part of
Belfast that will not have been looked at is Castle

Publican Richie Uzell, who owns Madden’s Bar, says he and
his neighbours are getting little value for their high
rates payments.

“We’re a two-minute walk from the City Hall but we may as
well be five miles away," said Richie. “This is one of the
main thoroughfares into the town. 80,000 people pass
through it a week but there is nothing here that would make
people want to stay. It’s full of drunks and boarded-up
shops. It has just totally ignored."

Echoing this, Cosgrove's Bar owner John Lennon said that as
Belfast businesses, taxpayers and ratepayers, they were
only looking to get the same leg-up that other businesses
in the city are enjoying.

“We are being left behind here but all we want is what
everyone else is getting in the city centre. We have put
significant money into our establishments but are suffering
from the neglect of the area."

The £1.2 million of government money promised for a Castle
Street clean-up was described by Cllr McCann as an

“I would be hopeful that we will be able to get some major
investment and not this hanging basket and sweep-up insult,
but it needs the government to sit up and taken notice that
they have created a city of two halves."


Opin: America Sending A Message To Ulster

09 November 2006

Hopes of an early withdrawal from Iraq, by both US and
British forces, have been raised by the voters in America's
mid-term elections. The verdict could hardly have been
clearer, with sweeping gains by the Democrats in both the
House of Representatives and the Senate: the public have
lost confidence in their President, at home and abroad.

Iraq was the issue that failed to dominate the pre-election
debate, but it was responsible for the Republicans' first
real reversal in Congress since 1994, when they won control
of both Houses in a landslide. Now, many voters who had
given George W. Bush the benefit of their doubts two years
ago, when he won re-election, have switched sides, hoping
that the Democrats have better answers to the stalemate in
the Middle East.

The President can hardly fail to respond to the message of
the election, if he is to achieve any progress in his last
two years in office and provide a winning platform for a
Republican successor. Already names are being canvassed for
a replacement of his disastrous defence secretary, Donald
Rumsfeld, and a broad-based committee will shortly
pronounce on the prospects in Iraq, setting the scene for
inquiries by the newly-elected House of Representatives.

Against the national trend, the runaway victory of Arnold
Schwarzenegger, re-elected as governor of the largely-
Democratic state of California, illustrates how Republicans
need to alter their image. His Hollywood status helped, of
course, but voters obviously liked his strong stance on the
environment and his cold shoulder towards George Bush.

The next two years will be a testing time for America in
general and the President in particular, facing the rare
prospect of conflict between the Congress and the White
House. Ordinarily, this would result in an unproductive
stand-off, but with the President's ratings falling and his
difficulties in Iraq mounting, he may yet see the necessity
for compromise - and an advanced exit strategy.

As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, a comeback for the
Democrats can only mean increased interest in the peace
process. There will be a new urgency behind the pleas for
politicians here to sink their differences and accept that
old attitudes must change - so that republicans finally
give full support to the police and unionists resign
themselves to power-sharing with republicans, now that they
are on a democratic path.

Even George W. Bush reversed the ban on Sinn Fein fund-
raising as soon as the party gave its qualified support to
the St Andrews Agreement. If Hillary Clinton runs for and
succeeds to the White House, pressure on the parties here
can only increase.


Opin: Questions Haunt Probe Into Loyalist Collusion

By Susan McKay

A distinguished and independent panel of international
lawyers yesterday reported on its two-year inquiry into 25
incidents involving the murders of 76 people. These were
sectarian murders carried out by loyalist paramilitaries
from mid-Ulster between 1972 and 1977.

The panel found strong evidence of collusion between
members of the British security forces, mainly the RUC and
the UDR, in 24 out of the 25 incidents, and therefore 74
out of the 76 murders. The evidence came from credible
statements and forensics.

Policemen and soldiers helped paramilitary gangs to murder
men, women and children, most of them Catholics. In some
cases, policemen and soldiers were part of the loyalist
paramilitary gangs. In some cases, they donned masks to
murder, then RUC uniforms to investigate.

They stole, lent, used and hid weapons provided to them for
the protection of the people, to murder civilians. They
destroyed and covered up evidence. The report includes a
chart which shows the way that the same guns were used over
and over again.

There were car bombs, grenade attacks, and shootings. Pubs
were sprayed with gunfire. Several families were massacred.
The Dublin and Monaghan bombings left 34 dead, the largest
number killed on any single day during the Troubles. Other
cases under investigation did not lead to deaths. Many
other people were injured.

Investigations failed even in the face of overwhelming
evidence. In one case, a widow identified the killer, the
notorious Robin Jackson, only to see charges against him
dropped by order of the DPP. Jackson was a special branch
agent. Evidence of collusion was provided by several former
members of the security forces, but was not acted on.
Ballistics evidence linking killings was ignored.

“Credible evidence indicates that superiors of violent
extremist officers and agents were aware of their sectarian
crimes yet failed to act to prevent, investigate or punish
them as early as 1973, senior officials of the United
Kingdom were put on notice of sectarian violence by UDR
soldiers. At least by 1975, senior officials were also
informed that some RUC officers were very close to
extremist paramilitaries.” Confessions in 1978 by former
RUC officers John Weir and Billy McCaughey “should have
blown the lid off RUC and UDR involvement in murdering

Those who take the view that these things happened back in
the bad old days and that all has changed now, and changed
utterly, will find no comfort in this report. Weir’s
allegations, made public in 1999, were not properly
investigated even then.

The inquiry panel met the Chief Constable of the PSNI, Sir
Hugh Orde, in 2004. “We thought we received assurances of
his co-operation,” its chairman, Professor Douglass Cassel,
said yesterday. “Since then we have received not a single
piece of paper.”

He said Orde had subsequently informed them that he was
referring all relevant material on these matters to the
body which preceded the Historical Enquiries Team. He
already knew about that body before he met the panel,
Cassel said. Why did he appear to change his mind?

This is not the first time that the activities of the so-
called “Glenanne Gang” of loyalist paramilitaries, soldiers
and policemen, have been exposed. Mr Justice Henry Barron
looked at some of its murderous activities. The Pat
Finucane Centre, which invited the Cassel team to carry out
this latest investigation, has carried out excellent and
painstaking work on behalf of some of the bereaved
families. Last year it uncovered documents revealing high-
level knowledge of collusion in the UDR in the early

However, all attempts to get the full truth about these
murders – and many others – have been thwarted by the
refusal of the British government to make available crucial
intelligence records. This report is yet another appeal to
it to do the right thing before it is forced to under
international law.

Pat Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, was at the launch. She
found the report “very encouraging”.

It was scary to think, she said, that people in authority
in London knew about these things back in 1973. “I am sure
their skills were well-honed by 1989 when they murdered my
husband,” she said.

She is right. This fine report isn’t just about the 76
awful murders it has studied. It is about hundreds of
others that followed.

A question haunts the report, as it haunted the work of Mr
Justice Barron, Lord Stevens and Judge Peter Cory. How high
up the chain did knowledge of and complicity in these
atrocities go?

It is a question which won’t go away.


Opin: Paisley’s About-Face Has Faithful Still In Shock

By Brian Feeney

Bertie Ahern told his mini -ard fheis that the St Andrews
Agreement has to be signed off on Friday “if the November
24 deadline is to be met”.

The Sinn Fein ard chomhairle has given its go-ahead,
deciding to “follow the course set out in the agreement”.

So what will the DUP do?

All the indications are that Paisley will say ‘yes, but,
if’ and try to wring a long list of concessions out of the
British government on the mechanisms for operating the
agreement if it becomes fully functioning next March 26.

It’s going to be great fun watching him turning and
twisting and wriggling while claiming great victories over
republicans. He has to make those claims of course, because
his about-face has been so sudden many of the faithful are
still in shock.

Here’s a man who built a career out of sulphurous anti-
Catholic speeches and hawking scurrilous anti-Catholic rags
on street corners in loyalist districts, yet is now happy
to sit down with the Pope’s main man in Ireland.

He leads a party which many of its members joined because
Paisley’s foul anti-Catholicism chimed with their own
bigotry and ethnic fear and loathing of northern

Many people voted for him secure in the knowledge that he
would never share power with republicans, let alone agree
to all-Ireland institutions.

Yet he didn’t denounce the concept at St Andrews. On the
contrary, he said he’d go along with it if certain
conditions are fulfilled. They will be.

There has been no education process in his party. The
ground has not been prepared as Sinn Fein’s leaders
prepared republicans slowly and carefully over years,
losing some by the wayside.

As a result, Paisley’s lieutenants are still using the
rhetoric of hatred and fear of republicans they have become
used to spouting over the years, as though nothing has

Just like Trimble in the same fix in 1997, Paisley still
hasn’t spoken to Adams or McGuinness, his putative co-equal
First Minister. It’s great fun watching the action replay.

Will he take two years like Trimble?

Why would Paisley turn turtle like this? Not because the
British government holds a big stick over him, or because
Dublin and London plan to work in tandem.

There’s another factor which people tend to underestimate –
the visceral antipathy many DUP people feel towards the
Ulster Unionist Party.

Don’t forget, a lot of DUP voters in salubrious south
Belfast were more than happy to lend Alasdair McDonnell the
Westminster seat rather than let the UUP win it. Never in
his wildest dreams did Paisley ever imagine he would defeat
the UUP in an assembly election let alone see them reduced
to one Westminster seat.

He wants to complete the job and finish them off as a
political force. That’s why the DUP want a triumphal
assembly election so bad they can taste it.

Furthermore, the DUP got the message on the doorstep in
2005 that voters didn’t like them saying ‘No’ to
everything, including sharing power at Stormont.

Failing to bite the bullet – unfortunate metaphor – and
snuggle in with Martin McGuinness would mean the slow
withering of the all-conquering unionist party Paisley has

Worst of all, it could allow the resurgence of the UUP as a
party prepared to do a deal with republicans, which is
something the DUP know unionist voters want.

The stark choice confronting Paisley is that if he doesn’t
deal now when he’s on top of the pile there will be no
other opportunity and once bereft of a goal, the inevitable
disintegration of his party could allow the hated and
despised UUP to stage the biggest comeback since Lazarus.

He has an opportunity to create a legacy now that he never
imagined he would have had, to establish his party as the
permanent ruling voice of one of the north’s ethnic blocks.

So while the anti-republican rhetoric remains, what it’s
really intended to do is convince unionist voters that the
DUP is the only party they can trust to deal with Sinn

It has absolutely nothing to do with defeating SF. It never
had. It’s all about defeating other unionists and making
Paisley head buck cat unionist, all he’s ever wanted.


Opin: Ireland On The Cusp Of A Historic Development

By Jim Gibney

The decision last Monday by Sinn Fein’s ard chomairle to
issue a qualified Yes to the St Andrews proposals is
entirely understandable. Indeed the response could well be
described as surprisingly positive given the issues being
negotiated and debated by republicans and the unpredictable
juncture thus far reached – three weeks after the
publication of the St. Andrews proposals.

The party’s cautious but positive response reflects the
reality that many of the core issues which lie at the heart
of the St Andrews proposals remain unresolved to the
satisfaction of the Sinn Fein membership and wider support

The measured but nonetheless significant attitude expressed
in the Sinn Fein statement has also been shaped by the fact
that the party’s negotiators are still locked into and have
been locked into a daily, sometimes hourly, battle with the
British and Irish governments over matters which, if got
right, will shape politics on this island for quite some
time to come.

Behind the scenes and not reflected in the Sinn Fein
statement lies an intense power struggle with those in the
British and unionist political and military system who
until the beginning of the peace process comfortably held
all power in their hands.

These are the people who prosecuted the war against the
Catholic, nationalist and republican people; who presided
over and used their political and military might to defend
partition and the one party unionist state; who ensured for
decades that Catholics and nationalists would live in their
own country as second-class citizens, reside beyond the
realm of influence; denied access to institutions of power
which governed their lives.

The negotiation around the St Andrews proposals is one of
the most crucial to date.

Republicans have to emerge from this phase of negotiations
with the maximum amount of change for those who support the
peace process.

That change has to be capable of propelling the peace
process forward at an accelerated pace.

It also has to have the capacity to place the peace process
beyond the wrecking grasp of the British and unionist

For this to happen power must be wrested from those in
control in the ‘Northern Ireland Office’.

That is what this negotiation is trying to do.

There are two key paragraphs in Monday’s Sinn Fein
statement which provide an appreciation of where the
situation sits.

The statement makes it clear that the leadership of Sinn
Fein believes “the process set out at St Andrews has the
potential to deliver the full implementation of the Good
Friday Agreement and to bring about the restoration of the
powersharing and all-Ireland political institutions.”

That means there is in waiting an all-Ireland framework
comprising an all-Ireland ministerial council, a northern
executive and assembly. These institutions when working
will regularly bring together in agreement and under one
roof the Irish government, the DUP, Sinn Fein, the UUP and
the SDLP. A tall order but what a breakthrough for all the
people of this country were it to come to pass.

Alongside that important paragraph sits another equally
important, “Issues to be agreed include a time frame for
the transfer of powers and a model for the Department of
Justice and Policing. Sinn Fein is committed to bring an
end to decades of repressive and sectarian policing. We
reject any role for MI5 in Ireland and in civic policing.”

Patten’s recommendations promised a new beginning to
policing. We are on the cusp of that new beginning because
republicans for the first time ever are giving serious
consideration to endorsing new policing arrangements should
they emerge from these negotiations.

That in itself would be a development of enormous

The wider context, if it is achieved, could be even more
profound in its implications.

A DUP led by the Rev Ian Paisley agreeing to share power
with Irish republicans, to sit on an all-Ireland
ministerial council and to be part of arrangements which
have at their core the principles of equality, justice and
human rights.

If the DUP come into these arrangements it will be a final
acknowledgement by this most recalcitrant unionist
constituency that the days of domination, inequality and
discrimination are gone for ever.

That would indeed be an historic development.


Adrift In The Atlantic

Ulster sailor stranded 1,700 miles from land after storm
capsizes his 40ft racing yacht

By Matthew McCreary
09 November 2006

A top Ulster sailor has been describing how he was left
adrift for hours in the middle of the freezing Atlantic
Ocean after his yacht capsized.

Ross Hobson (47), who is originally from Islandmagee in
County Antrim, was left stranded after his boat overturned
during bad weather on Tuesday night, hundreds of miles off
the east coast of America.

Ross had been taking part in the treacherous 3,500-mile
Route du Rhum race from St Malo, France, to Guadeloupe in
the Caribbean when high winds and heavy seas began
buffeting his 40-foot vessel, Ideal Stelrad.

"A really big gust of wind came through, and what sail area
I had up was just too much. She tipped over and went in
slowly," he told the Belfast Telegraph from aboard his
rescue boat in the mid-Atlantic last night.

"I ran up the deck but realised that I didn't want to be in
the cockpit as she went over, so I climbed onto the
upturned hull, opened the escape hatch and climbed inside."

Ross, who is one of Northern Ireland's most accomplished
yachtsmen, was able to put his skills and years of
experience to good use during the emergency.

"I was definitely in control," he said.

"If you panic in that sort of situation you die.

"I set off my emergency radio beacons to let people know
where I was and settled down."

Ross's distress calls were picked up HM Coastguard Falmouth
in Cornwall and a joint response was organised with the US
Coastguard in Norfolk, Virginia. Vessels in the area were
then diverted to the yacht's last known position - around
1,750 miles off the eastern American coastline - to attempt
a rescue.

"I was well prepared to deal with the situation when it
happened. I could have stayed there for two or three days
quite happily, as I had food and water," said Ross.

He was finally plucked from his precarious position after
around six hours by Spanish freighter Carmen, which battled
its way through 50 knot winds and 20-foot seas to come to
his aid.

"It was great to look out and see the ship's lights and the
flares. They were a very welcome sight," said Ross.

Ross's rescue came less than a week after he himself gave
up his leading position in the race to sail to the rescue
of a fellow competitor who had capsized in rough seas 300
miles off the coast of Spain.

And although glad to have been rescued from his ordeal, the
father of two, who now lives in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, says
he is disappointed to have been knocked out of the race.

"I had been leading and the boat was doing very well. I am
pretty gutted that it happened, but on the other hand I'm
safe," he said.

As to whether he will attempt the race again, Ross is

"I'll have to talk to my wife about that," he said.

"I think the whole ordeal was much worse for her. I
couldn't put her through it again."

Ross is due to dock with the Carmen in Santander, Spain, on


‘Pivotal’ Magazine On Sale At Book Fair

By Keith Bourke

Original copies of a rare nationalist magazine will be on
sale in Belfast this weekend. The Shan Van Vocht was a
monthly magazine which was published in Belfast between
January 1896 and April 1899.

Its 40 issues contained writing on politics, history,
fiction and poetry.

It has been described as a “pivotal nationalist newspaper”.
Among its contributors were political and cultural leaders
of the time in-

cluding Douglas Hyde, James Connolly and Arthur Griffith.

The magazine will be on sale at the the 24th annual Belfast
Book fair this weekend.

The Shan Van Vocht was established by two women, Alice
Milligan and Anna Johnston, who was well-known as a poet
under the pseudonym Ethna Carbery.

The women were members of the Henry Joy McCracken Literary
Society which came into being in Belfast in 1895. They set
up and were joint editors of its magazine, The Northern
Patriot. After only three issues there was a disagreement
and the editors either resigned or were sacked. Both women
left and set up The Shan Van Vocht with Alice Milligan as
editor and Anna Johnston as secretary. Johnston became co-
editor in 1898.

The famous political activist and actress Maud Gonne said
of the magazine: “We were

full of almost envious admiration of some numbers of the
Shan Van Vocht, the daring little paper Anna and Alice were
editing I thought Dublin would have to look to its

laurels if not to be outdone by literary journalism in

The book fair organised by Jim and Rita Swindall of JIRI
books will take place at the Wellington Park Hotel from
10am-5pm on Saturday.


An Bord Pleanála Approves Plan For Haughey Estate

An Bord Pleanála has approved planning permission for a
hotel complex on the estate of the late taoiseach Charles

Last October, Fingal County Council approved a proposed
development by Manor Park Homes for a 70-bedroom hotel, spa
leisure centre, 18-hole golf course and clubhouse, 14
"tourist residential units" and 32 houses on the 200-acre
Abbeville estate in Kinsealy, Co Dublin.

The council's decision was appealed by An Taisce, which
said the scheme was "ill-conceived" because it would
compromise an architectural conservation area and failed to
make any provision for the future use of, and public access
to, Abbeville House.

An Taisce had argued there was "huge public interest" in
the treatment of Abbeville because of its recent political
history and the circumstances of its acquisition by Mr
Haughey and its sale in 2003 to Manor Park Homes for a
reported €45 million. One of the conditions was that Mr
Haughey and his wife Maureen could continue living in the

However, today's decision found against An Taisce and
decreed that the proposed development would "not seriously
injure" the architectural, residential and environmental
amenities of the designated the area, would be "acceptable
in terms of traffic safety and convenience" and would be
"in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable
development of the area."

The Board added that it had decided not to accept the
Inspector's recommendation to refuse permission arguing
that revised drawings and documentation submitted in August
overcame the Inspector's concerns with regard to access
onto the Malahide Road.

Last February, An Bord Pleanála approved plans by the
former taoiseach's daughter, Eimear Mulhern, to build a
house in the grounds.

© The Irish Times/


Pet Labrador Saves 10-Year-Old Boy From Pit-Bull Attack

09/11/2006 - 08:01:17

A 10-year-old boy's pet Labrador sacrificed itself to save
its owner from a savage pit-bull attack in the North.

The boy's parents say the incident unfolded at Randalstown
Forest Park in Co Antrim while they were out for a walk
with their two children, four dogs and an exchange student.

The pit pull attacked the group and, when it turned its
attention to the couple's youngest son, the boy's pet
Labrador, Troy, dived to his aid.

The family say the pit bull continued to fight with the
Labrador until police officers eventually arrived and shot
it dead.

The Labrador, whom the family say saved their lives, died
of his injuries.

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