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January 13, 2007

Adams Reaffirms Commitment To Policing Policy

News About Ireland & The Irish

RT 01/12/07 Adams Reaffirms Commitment To Policing Policy
BN 01/13/07 Unionists 'Will Not Throw SF A Lifeline'
IT 01/13/07 SF Failure To Back PSNI Will Increase Doubts
BT 01/13/07 Old Enemies United In Grief At Ervine Loss
BT 01/13/07 Opin: Ervine -A Sense Of Loss For So Many Of Us
IN 01/13/07 Opin: Orde Admission Vital To Families
IN 01/13/07 Death Of Popular Passionist Priest
BN 01/13/07 Plaque Unveiled To 'Forgotten Woman' Of 1916
IT 01/13/07 Pubs And Rural Life
NJ 01/13/07 Band To Play Up A Gaelic Storm


Adams Reaffirms Commitment To Policing Policy

12 January 2007 22:36

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has indicated he continues
to believe that a shift in the party's policing policy is
the right thing to do.

He was speaking on the eve of an important meeting of Sinn
Féin's national executive.

But in a statement today, Mr Adams also accused the DUP of
failing to honour commitments it had made in relation to a
timeframe for the devolution of justice and policing

The Sinn Féin President claimed that in advance of his
party's executive two weeks ago the DUP had been given the
text of a motion about policing that Mr Adams would put to
that meeting.

He also suggested that after Sinn Féin's executive backed
that motion, the DUP failed to deliver its promised

He said the DUP had backed off its deal to support the
devolution of policing and justice within a set timeframe.

But the DUP leader, Ian Paisley, denied that his party had
backtracked. He said he made no commitment that went beyond
his recent public statements.

Dr Paisley said he was not in the business of saying one
thing in public and another in private.

He added it is time for Sinn Féin to get down to business
and deliver support for the police, the courts and the rule
of law.

Tomorrow afternoon, Sinn Féin's executive will debate
whether to press ahead with an Ard Fheis on policing.


Unionists 'Will Not Throw SF A Lifeline'

13/01/2007 - 10:53:19

Unionists are not going to throw Sinn Féin a lifeline in
the current stand-off over support for policing, a senior
MP in the Rev Ian Paisley’s party claimed today.

As Sinn Féin’s 56-member Executive gathered in Dublin to
review their plan for a special party conference this month
to consider whether or not they should support the police
in Northern Ireland, Democratic Unionist MP the Rev William
McCrea said republicans needed to deliver.

“The DUP will not hold out any lifeline or lifeboat to help
Gerry Adams out of the sinking boat in the stormy waters
that he now finds himself in,” the South Antrim MP said.

“If they are looking to us to give them comfort on the
issue of devolved government by March 26 and the devolution
of policing and justice in 2008, they are whistling in the

“As far as unionism is concerned words are not enough.

“There has to be action. There has to be delivery – not
words, they are not plausible.”

On December 29 last year Sinn Féin’s national executive
took the potentially historic step of announcing a special
conference this month which can see republicans for the
first time in their history endorsing the police on both
sides of the Irish border.

However, the party leadership said that move was predicated
on a positive response from the DUP to the move.

The staging of the conference was cast in doubt when last
week Sinn Féin said it was still awaiting a positive
response from Mr Paisley.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to resolve the
situation by setting out his view of what was required from
Sinn Féin and the DUP if the issues of policing and power
sharing were to be resolved this year under the St Andrews
Agreement forged last October.

On the eve of today’s crucial meeting to decide if Sinn
Féin should press ahead with its plans for the conference,
Mr Adams issued a form of words which he claimed had been
agreed with the DUP before December 29 and which he claimed
should have been used in a New Year statement issued by Mr

The Sinn Féin leader accused his DUP counterpart of
reneging on a commitment to use the words but Mr Paisley
and his party insisted that any words they have said in
public reflected what had been said in private

Mr McCrea said there needed to be a credible testing period
if Sinn Féin honoured its commitments.

He also said: “They have got to also hand back all their
ill gotten gains, dismantle IRA structures, hand over those
responsible for the murder of Robert McCartney and also
identify the whereabouts of the remaining disappeared.

“It is over to them to deliver. We do not want to listen to
verbage or garbage any more.”


SF Failure To Back PSNI Will Increase Doubts

Frank Millar, London Editor
Sat, Jan 13, 2007

Failure by the Sinn Féin leadership to make an
unconditional commitment to back the PSNI later today will
raise further doubts about the Northern Ireland Assembly
elections scheduled for March.

This became clear last night as Downing Street refused to
be drawn on Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams's charge that
the DUP had gone back on a deal to agree the timetable for
the devolution of policing and justice powers to the
Stormont Assembly.

Prime minister Tony Blair's official spokesman insisted
they would not comment on any aspect of the confidential
negotiations aimed at restoring power-sharing government to
the North. And he maintained Mr Blair's continuing
confidence that "if a Sinn Féin ardfheis clearly supports
policing then there can be devolved government by March
26th and the devolution of policing powers by May 2008."

The spokesman added that, as Mr Blair indicated in his
Irish Times article last Monday, "if either side pulls back
then we will never know." But as Mr Adams vowed to find
"another basis to move forward", Whitehall sources
suggested Mr Blair had no interest in any "conditional"
Sinn Féin position on policing that might now emerge from
today's meeting of the party's ardchomhairle (executive).

Claiming that the DUP had failed to deliver expected words
committing to the St Andrews timetable for the devolution
of policing powers, Mr Adams said yesterday that "the basis
of the ardcomhairle motion" passed on December 29th had
"been removed" and that the party would now have "to find
another basis to move forward". The suggestion of any deal
or understanding was hotly disputed by the Rev Ian Paisley,
who asserted: "I am not in the business of saying one thing
in private and another in public."

The DUP leader as recently as Thursday repeated his clear
view that the St Andrews Agreement contains a government
aspiration but does not commit any party to ensure the
transfer of policing powers by May 2008.

That simply added to the surprise at the sharpness of Mr
Adams's comments, given claims by one senior DUP source
earlier this week that they had not in fact been shown the
terms of the ardcomhairle motion, despite promises that
they would be.

Whitehall sources explained Downing Street's reluctance to
provide any clarification, saying there were "always grey
areas" in behind-the-scenes negotiations and that it was
"never very helpful" to join public disputes between the

However, as the public war of words raged between Sinn Féin
and the DUP, the pressing political concern in London and
Dublin was to discover what Mr Adams might now have in mind
as a "sustainable" alternative way forward.

It was not immediately clear to what extent a threat to the
scheduled Assembly elections would influence the Sinn Féin
leadership's decisions today or at a special ardfheis. The
Assembly elections were sought by Dr Paisley and sold at St
Andrews by both governments as a means of providing
electoral endorsement of a powersharing deal.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Old Enemies United In Grief At Ervine Loss

[Published: Saturday 13, January 2007 - 10:28]
By Lesley-Anne Henry

David Ervine's legacy will be uniting people in respect,
mourners were told yesterday.

Loyalists, republicans, nationalists and unionists stood
together to say goodbye to the Progressive Unionist Party
leader, who died unexpectedly at the age of 53 on Monday.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Alex Maskey were among the
thousands who turned out to bid a final farewell to the
former terrorist-turned-peacemaker.

Also in attendance was veteran UVF man Gusty Spence, former
Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, the Republic's Foreign Minister
Dermot Ahern and PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde.

The UDA's south Belfast leader, Jackie McDonald, and Holy
Cross priest Fr Aidan Troy were also in attendance, making
it the most unique gathering of people at a top loyalist's

Leading figures from the main political parties included
DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson, Sir Reg Empey, Lady
Sylvia Hermon and David Trimble of the UUP. David Ford and
Naomi Long represented the Alliance Party.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan was accompanied by colleagues Alban
McGuinness and Dr Alasdair McDonnell.

First to pay tribute during the service was Mr Ervine's
eldest son, Mark.

He spoke of an understanding, encouraging, forgiving,
enthusiastic, patient, wise father and described him as a
"committed", " forward-thinking" and "altogether immense"

Second of the 10 speakers was Mr Ervine's brother, Brian,
who said it was " wonderful" to see "traditional enemies"
coming together in respect.

He commended his "wee brother" who he said had the "guts to
climb out of the trenches and meet the traditional enemy in
no man's land and play ball with them" - although he joked
that it may not have been " football".

Secretary of State Peter Hain described him as a man who
"always saw solutions" while PUP chairperson Dawn Purvis
said there was "only one Davy Ervine".

Human Rights Commissioner Monica McWilliams said he was a
man who was " admired by Presidents and Prime Ministers"
but was "also available for a pint any time".

Leading the service, the Rev Dr Gary Mason paid tribute to
the man who was raised in the shadows of the shipyard and
who was "east Belfast to his roots".

He said: "David often wore a pin-striped suit, shirt and
tie, but I wonder sometimes would he have been more at ease
in a prophet's robe.

"Like Amos of Old Testament fame he was a trouble-shooter,
always trying to arouse the conscience of his people...

"Some people in this province could never forget David's
background and that frustrated him immensely.

"Yes, he made mistakes; but God help us all if we get just
what we deserve."

After the service, Mr Ervine's remains were taken to
Roselawn Cemetery for cremation.

© Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Ervine - A Sense Of Loss For So Many Of Us

[Published: Saturday 13, January 2007 - 10:48]
By Lindy McDowell

The startling thing about the tributes paid this week to
the late PUP leader David Ervine was not just their scale,
but the wide range of voices they represented.

On the Belfast Telegraph website alone, there are heartfelt
messages from Protestants, Catholics, unionists,
nationalists, southerners, ex-cops, republicans and even a
supporter of both the INLA and IRA.

Very many of the comments came from overseas and a number
came from people who had met and known Mr Ervine.

On that last point it's easy to see why they felt moved to
register their regret at his sudden death.

Davy Ervine was one of the most personable, likeable and
engaging politicians this place has ever produced. He was a
man with whom you could have a political argument (and I
had a few) without it becoming a personal row. He was
always willing to consider other points of view, even if he
didn't agree with them.

But the fascinating thing is that so very many of those
people paying tribute to David Ervine didn't actually know
him personally. Yet they, too, felt a sense of loss.

And no wonder his sons, Mark and Owen, said the family were
overwhelmed by the scale of the response to his death.

Newspapers throughout the world have been carrying glowing
tributes. It has been the kind of uniformly positive
outpouring of appreciation that the Paisleys and Adamses of
the process will never inspire.

But does this mean that, aside from a section of the
Cliftonville fans, Mr Ervine was universally admired?

He was, after all, and it's not something that he himself
would ever have shied away from acknowledging, a political
representative of a loyalist paramilitary organisation.

A loyalist paramilitary organisation which has, over the
years, inflicted the most terrible carnage, misery and
suffering on both Catholics and Protestants in Northern
Ireland. But particularly on Catholics.

This week I've been thinking of those people. The families
of the all too many innocent victims.

One of them, Jude Whyte, whose mother was murdered by the
UVF when she was 53 - the same age as Ervine when he died -
was actually among those who paid tribute to the PUP leader
in a truly moving and powerful piece in a Belfast newspaper
this week.

Mr Whyte had met the man and Ervine had offered his
personal apologies to him.

But there are surely many other relatives of UVF victims
whose views of Mr Ervine and, more precisely, what he
represented, would be less charitable.

Their pain is no different to that of the families of
victims of IRA violence who have in the past been hurt by
eulogies to representatives of republican terror.

It's a mark of the man that David Ervine would have
recognised that.

And it's not to say that his sons and his wife Jeanette,
who has been through so much in recent years, don't have
reason to be proud of him.

The cross-community response to his death alone is proof
enough of that.

Why was Ervine so well thought of?

He was unusual - to outsiders, exotic even - because he
articulated the views of the Protestant working class.
Bizarrely, despite the fact that the majority of unionists
in Northern Ireland are working class, their political
representatives have all too often failed to reflect their
community's experience and concerns.

Not so long ago, visiting commentators arriving in this
place came with the skewed view that all unionists were
Anglo-landed gentry.

It was a stereotype Ervine used to puncture with the wry
comment that: " I came from a two up, two down in east
Belfast. Typical unionist ascendancy ¿ "

It been suggested by many (and ironically and typically by
a representative of the New Labour government that
institutionalised paramilitarism in Northern Ireland) that
his real legacy would be for the UVF now to decommission.

Fat chance of that in the near future.

A more realistic step might be for some of those within or
on the fringes of that organisation to take up the reins of
Ervine's grassroots work. For the UVF is not the UDA. It is
not entirely composed of gangsters out merely to feather
their own nests.

There are intelligent thinkers within the wider movement
who are genuinely concerned about the deprivation and need
in their community. Maybe it's time for them now to step
from the shadows.

David Ervine had turned from violence and recognised its
futility. His message was that the working class of
Northern Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant, had more in
common than they ever had to divide them.

In a way the response to his death is proof of that.

For the tributes from all sides of the community say as
much about this place as they do about David Ervine
himself. They say that we share more and are less rigid in
our separate camps than we tend to think.

The pity is that it has again taken the tragic death of a
man to allow us, even fleetingly, to acknowledge that.

© Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Orde Admission Vital To Families

The chief constable’s latest comments on the highly emotive
issue of plastic bullets will be seen as a positive
contribution at a crucial stage in the peace process.

Sir Hugh Orde has made it clear in the past he is no
advocate of their use. However, in a Press Association
interview he has gone further, making it clear the weapon
would not be used for public order or crowd control.

Significantly, he also publicly stated that some of those
killed by plastic bullets were innocent victims.

This acknowledgement is an important step for the families
of the 17 people – including a number of children – who
died as a result of baton rounds fired by members of the
security forces.

The circumstances of these deaths and the ongoing sense of
injustice have been source of constant pain for bereaved

This recognition of their hurt from the most senior police
officer carries considerable weight and is a welcome

However, the chief constable did not signal a complete end
to plastic bullets and they continue to be available to
police officers, although their use has decreased in recent

The police must be issued with adequate means of protection
but baton rounds are widely viewed as unacceptable and
should not form part of the PSNI’s armoury.

Sir Hugh’s comments on plastic bullets were made in the
context of a warning of the possible dangers which could
follow if Sinn Fein and the DUP fail to deliver a deal on

Sinn Fein has issued positive responses this week to both
the chief constable on plastic bullets and Tony Blair on
the future role of MI5, although the party has expressed
serious concerns over the DUP’s position.

Nevertheless, it is important that matters continue to move
forward and hopefully today’s ard chomhairle in Dublin will
ensure that happens.


Death Of Popular Passionist Priest

By Staff Reporter

A Passionist priest from Co Derry, who died yesterday, will
be remembered as a popular retreat and parish mission
speaker, a colleague said last night.

Father Neil Convery, who lived at the Passionist
Community’s house at Tobar Mhuire in Crossgar, Co Down,
died at Mallow Hospital, Cork.

He had been visiting friends in the area.

Fr Aidan Troy, a Passionist priest at Holy Cross in
Ardoyne, north Belfast, said Fr Convery was a “big man in
every sense of the word”.

“His main life’s work was taking parish missions and
retreats but deteriorating health meant he could not travel
any more,” Fr Troy said.

“Neil had a great love of going from parish to parish.

“Besides his love of preaching he had a great love of
football – that could have been the Derry team, a
Premiership side, rugby or even shinty.”

Fr Convery was in his eighties and had served at the Graan,
Co Fermanagh.

His remains will be removed to the Passionist’s church at
Mount Argus in Dublin tomorrow and Requiem Mass will be
celebrated there on Monday at 12.15pm. His remains will be
interred in the Community’s cemetery.


Plaque Unveiled To 'Forgotten Woman' Of 1916

13/01/2007 - 09:11:21

A memorial plaque in honour of one of the forgotten women
of 1916 will be unveiled today in Dublin’s south inner

Elizabeth O’Farrell, a member of Cumman na mBan who played
a full and active role in the Rising of 1916, will be
remembered in a special ceremony.

Nurse Mrs O’Farrell accompanied Padraig Pearse when the
official surrender was handed over to the British forces at
Moore Lane.

Her role during the historic event will be etched in the
memory of all who visit the tribute bestowed by Dublin City

The plaque, in City Quay Park, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay,
Dublin 2, will be unveiled at 11am by the Lord Mayor of
Dublin, Cllr Vincent Jackson.


Pubs And Rural Life

Sat, Jan 13, 2007

Amid all the justified concern about the abuse of alcohol
and the terrible toll exacted by drunken drivers, it is
easy to forget how much the warmth and conviviality of the
Irish pub can enhance the quality of life. Especially in
rural Ireland, and especially for those who live in
isolation, a few drinks in a friendly environment can help
to stave off loneliness and depression.

In contrast to the big factory-style bars that dominate
some city suburbs, many family-run pubs retain a personal
scale in which the flow of conversation, banter and music
can be as free as the flow of drink. The pub may have too
prominent a place in our communities, but it can still be a
rich thread in the fabric of rural life.

Preserving these social benefits, while ending the fatal
tolerance for drink-driving, is a hard balance to achieve.
The proposal this week by Minister for Community, Gaeltacht
and Rural Affairs Eamon O'Cuiv to extend the rural
transport initiative to cater for late-night travellers
(and thus for those heading home from the pub) makes sense.
It would make even more sense, however, if it were not so
obviously shaped by the imminence of a general election and
if it addressed the wider context of social life in rural

Anxiety about the threatened closure of rural pubs would be
more convincing if it were matched by a similar concern for
the closure of another, equally important, centre of social
life: the post office. Last year, post offices, most of
them in rural villages, were closing down at the rate of
one a week. The rate of closure may well accelerate this
year when the contract for the delivery of social welfare
payments goes out to tender, potentially depriving many
small sub-post offices of their primary source of income.
Rural postmasters must wonder why they lack the political
clout of rural publicans.

The underlying issue in all of this is social isolation,
and it cannot be addressed simply by providing transport to
and from pubs. It raises questions about planning policies
which continue to favour one-off housing over the
development of villages.

Addressing it demands a much more coherent approach to
social services for the elderly in rural Ireland and an
extension, not just of the hours, but also of the extent of
the rural transport initiative, which remains skeletal and
somewhat patchy.

The best rural pubs are valuable precisely because they are
a vibrant part of the communities they serve but they won't
last unless those communities are equally vibrant. Getting
home from the pub will be a less urgent problem when there
are fewer things to drive people to drink.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Band To Play Up A Gaelic Storm

By Rick de Yampert
Entertainment Writer
January 13, 2007

The band Gaelic Storm titled their new album of Irish folk
and pub rock songs "Bring Yer Wellies" -- a touch of irony,
perhaps, for a group that was catapulted to fame after
appearing in the 1997 movie "Titanic."

"Wellies" is short for Wellingtons, a type of knee-high,
waterproof boots.

Gaelic Storm will be in concert at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at the
Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center, 399 N. U.S. 1, Ormond

Tickets are $39, available at Central Florida Cultural
Endeavors, 212 S. Beach St., Daytona Beach, and the
performing arts center. For more information, call (386)

The band includes co-founders Patrick Murphy of Cork City,
Ireland, on vocals, piano and accordion, and Steve Twigger
of Coventry, England, on vocals, guitar, mandolin and

Other members are Pete Purvis of Ontario, Canada, on
uilleann and highland bagpipes, American Ryan Lacey on
drums and world percussion, and American Ellery Klein on
fiddle. Klein holds a degree in traditional Irish music
from the University of Limerick in Ireland.

"Bring Yer Wellies" is the sixth studio album by Gaelic
Storm, which formed on St. Patrick's Day in 1996 when
Murphy and Twigger jammed together with other musicians at
O'Brien's pub in Santa Monica, Calif.

They soon landed the role of the "party band" in the
steerage scene of the "Titanic" movie.

The group performed in Daytona Beach in 2004 as part of the
Florida International Festival Encore Series.

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