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January 08, 2007

Blair: SF Has Right To Speedy Policing Transfer

News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 01/08/07 Blair: SF Has Right To Speedy Policing Transfer
IT 01/08/07 Text Of Blair’s Article In Irish Times
IT 01/08/07 Gerry Adams Urges Resolution Of Difficulties
IT 01/09/07 Paisley Comment Puts SF Ardfheis In Doubt
BT 01/07/07 McGuinness Calls For Positive Signal By Paisley
BT 01/08/07 Devil Still In The Detail Of The Peace Process
SF 01/08/07 Loughinisland: Why MI5 Must Mot Be In Policing
BB 01/08/07 Ahern Accused Of Sinn Fein U-Turn
IT 01/09/07 Ahern Rules Out Government Dependent On SF
TO 01/08/07 Obit: David Ervine
BB 01/08/07 PUP's Ervine Has Died In Hospital
IN 01/08/07 Fr. Mc Manus On Death Of David Irvine
BN 01/08/07 Colleagues And Opponents Alike Praise Ervine
BB 01/08/07 Loyalist Ihab Shoukri Denited Bail
IT 01/09/07 Opin: Ervine's Death Leaves Void In Loyalism
BB 01/08/07 £1bn Titanic Area Plan Submitted
IT 01/09/07 Fitting In With Our Friends In The North
IT 01/09/07 Clare Council Gets Cliffs Of Moher Trading Ban


SF 'Has Right To Expect Speedy Transfer Of Policing Powers': Blair

08/01/2007 - 08:12:26

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said Sinn Féin has
every right to expect policing powers to be transferred to
Stormont by May 2008.

Mr Blair makes the comments in a newspaper interview this
morning as talks get underway to try to rescue the St
Andrew's deal for restoring power-sharing in the North.

The devolution of policing powers by May 2008 is part of
that deal, provided that Sinn Féin signs up to policing.

However, the DUP has suggested that it might not accept the

Sinn Féin has since said it will not hold an Árd Fheis to
change its stance on policing until DUP leader Ian Paisley
clearly commits his party to the St Andrew's timetable.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said at the weekend that talks over
the next few days would be critical to assessing whether
moves to restore power-sharing by March can be successful.


Text Of Blair’s Article In Irish Times

Good faith is key to breaking current peace process impasse

Mon, Jan 08, 2007

There is no doubt that the Sinn Féin leadership wants to
make the commitment on policing, and that the DUP
leadership wants to share power, writes British prime
minister Tony Blair.

The biggest problem in the Northern Ireland peace process
has always been the understandable reluctance of one side
to believe the other's good faith. I have lost count over
the years of the number of times one or other side has said
to me that they believed in the process but the others
weren't serious.

In particular, I recall time and again being told that the
IRA would never decommission; they would never give up
violence; they would never commit to exclusively peaceful
means. But they have done all these things. Sinn Féin has
demonstrated one of the most remarkable examples of
leadership I have come across in modern politics. It has
been historic and it has been real.

For republicans, whose experience of policing has been
bitter and, in their eyes, deeply partisan, and who have
spent a lifetime fighting it, a move to support the PSNI
and the criminal justice system is a move of profound

Of course, in one sense, there should be a commitment to
supporting the police irrespective of any wider political
progress. But given the particular and troubled
circumstances of Northern Ireland, where one part of the
community has a legitimate aspiration for a united Ireland,
it is hardly surprising and is certainly understandable
that it matters to them whether there is a proper, devolved
system of accountability and government in place. It is
then so much easier to make the case for full support for
the police when the responsibility for oversight is in
local, not British government, hands.

So it matters deeply to republicans that they know this
support is being offered in the context of an agreement to
share power.

St Andrews provided the basis for such an agreement. It
stated that provided there was the commitment to the
police, the courts and the rule of law as set out in
paragraph 6 of the agreement, there should be elections,
followed by a power-sharing executive, on March 26th, 2007
and the devolution of criminal justice and policing powers
by May 2008. Since then, Sinn Féin has moved first to
accept the pledge of office; then to a model for
devolution; then to the ardchomhairle motion to change
fundamentally the Sinn Féin position to one of support for
the police.

They need to know clearly that if they do make this move -
if they hold their ardfheis by the end of January, pass the
ardchomhairle motion and, as they say they will,
immediately go out and actively encourage everyone in the
community to co-operate fully with the police and criminal
justice system in tackling crime in all areas - then
unionism will not be found wanting.

My assessment from the detailed conversations I have had
with the DUP is that, provided there is delivery of the
Sinn Féin commitment, they will enter into government with
Sinn Féin on March 26th and they will accept devolution of
policing and justice powers in the timeframe set out in the
St Andrews agreement or even before that date.

Personally, I think any other outcome would be wrong,
unfair to all sections of the community in Northern Ireland
and a complete waste of a one-off, once-in-a-generation
opportunity to make a lasting peace.

Given that the first such minister in the executive will
not, in all likelihood, be from either the DUP or Sinn
Féin, it really would be utterly unreasonable not to have
devolution of policing and justice by May 2008, provided of
course that the conditions for it are met.

Should all of this fail, it will be a bad blow, all the
worse because it will be pointless. There is no doubt in my
mind that the Sinn Féin leadership wants to make this
commitment, or that the DUP leadership wants to share
power. If either Sinn Féin or the DUP defaults now, it
would be a crazy denial of what is, in fact, a shared

All failure means is that, as the St Andrews agreement sets
out, we move ahead on the basis of the new British-Irish
partnership arrangements to implement the Belfast
Agreement. But these will only ever be second-best and
would require the same support for the police being sought
and the same need for accountability being met. In other
words, you would come back to the exact same issues, just
in a much less benign environment.

So over the coming days, there will be republicans
convinced that the DUP never really means to share power.
They will ask what the point is of an ardfheis.

There will be unionists who will seize on any hesitation to
say we told you so: Sinn Féin was never serious about
changing policy on policing. Both will be wrong. But if we
don't get action - the ardfheis on one side, power-sharing
on March 26th on the other - we will never know.

Strong leadership has brought us this far. It can bring us
further. Ten years ago the very idea of the DUP and Sinn
Féin in government together would have been thought absurd.
Today it can happen, indeed should happen. In 10 years'
time, if it does, people will wonder why it was ever in

This is called progress and we should never give up on
making it.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Gerry Adams Urges Resolution Of Difficulties

Published: 8 January, 2007

Responding to questions in respect of Mr. Blair's article
in this mornings Irish Times and the political current
situation Mr. Adams said:

"I cautiously welcome what Tony Blair has said. He is
giving the DUP yet another chance. I think they need the
little bit of space required to respond in a positive way
to what has been outlined. There big issues to be faced
here. Sinn Féin comes at this positively. All these matters
have to be sorted out and resolved."

Asked what was needed from the DUP Mr. Adams said:

"Martin McGuinness put it well yesterday. The DUP leader
Ian Paisley welcomed the remarks by the British Prime
Minister last week. He needs to welcome and agree with what
Mr. Blair said.

There are so many discordant voices coming out of the DUP
at this time and republicans are listening to the very loud
and negative and some times quite hysterical voices from
that party.

So the Party Leader has to speak. This isn't about putting
it up to Ian Paisley or to any of the DUP. There is a
collective process involved here and let's all try to do
our best to resolve all of these matters.

This means also that the Sinn Fein leadership has to make a
judgement about whether what we do is sustainable and
capable of getting the support of other republicans. That's
the judgement we have to make. There's no doubt about the
republican position. It's very clear. I set out our
position after the Ard Chomhiarle meeting 10 days ago. The
difficulties since then have not been caused by any
inconsistency or ambiguity on the part of Sinn Féin.

There are clearly difficulties on the unionist side. We
need to look at that in a benign way even though many
republicans are very angry at the behaviour and the noises
coming out of the DUP.

Let's do our best and let's look ahead as we try to plot
out the next few days."

Responding to questions about the Taoiseach's statement
yesterday in which he said he would accept SF support for a
minority government MR Adams said:

"Mr. Ahern will have to change his policies before he would
get our support.

"We would only support a Taoiseach to be on the basis that
the policies outlined dealt with the crisis in the health
service and dealt with the crisis in the public services.
It is a farce that we have the wealthiest economy in the EU
and yet a crisis right across all the public sectors, but
in particular the health service.

The government needs to abandon its strategy of privatising
the health service and embrace a policy to build a first
class public health service for all our citizens."


Paisley Comment Puts SF Ardfheis In Doubt

Gerry Moriarty and Dan Keenan
Tue, Jan 09, 2007

Gerry Adams and other Sinn Féin leaders will today consider
whether to proceed with an ardfheis on policing after an
insistence by the Rev Ian Paisley that he has not made any
commitment on powersharing and the transfer of policing
powers to a restored Northern Executive.

Mr Adams is meeting party officers in Dublin today to
assess whether the ardfheis on policing scheduled for later
this month can now take place.

The angry response of DUP leader Dr Paisley to an article
by British prime minister Tony Blair in yesterday's Irish
Times has raised concern about the prospects of the Sinn
Féin/DUP deadlock on policing being broken.

Mr Adams and Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, Martin
McGuinness, supported in particular by the Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern, have sought further clarity from DUP leader Dr
Paisley over recent days on whether he would agree to the
St Andrews Agreement timetable of devolution by March 26th
and the May 2008 target date for transferring policing

Mr Blair attempted to break the standoff by providing a
positive assessment in his article on where the DUP stood
on powersharing and devolving policing.

He said that, provided Sinn Féin delivered properly on
policing, his assessment was that the DUP would agree to
powersharing by March 26th and to the transfer of policing
powers by May next year.

However, Dr Paisley took a small number of journalists
aside at Stormont yesterday to flatly contradict this
assessment. He said he was "amazed" at Mr Blair's
assessment and described it as "completely wrong". "I do
not go with the assessment of the prime minister to say
that we at any time in any talks that we ever had with him
ever made any promises about when there would be the
handing over of [policing and justice] powers," he said.

Shortly before Dr Paisley's briefing, Mr Adams, also at
Stormont, again cautiously welcomed Mr Blair's comments. He
warned, however, about "discordant" and "hysterical voices"
from some DUP politicians who appeared opposed to a
powersharing agreement. This confusion made it incumbent on
Dr Paisley to spell out his position, said Mr Adams.

"This isn't about putting it up to Ian Paisley or to any of
the DUP. There is a collective process involved here and
let's all try to do our best to resolve all of these
matters," he added. Mr Adams also implicitly adverted to
the tensions within republicanism on policing and how a
clearer response was required from Dr Paisley to end the
impasse. He said that the "Sinn Féin leadership has to make
a judgment about whether what we do is sustainable and
capable of getting the support of other republicans".

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, who held
discussions with Northern Secretary Peter Hain near Dundalk
yesterday, also appealed for further clarification from Dr

Mr Ahern said this was "the chance of a lifetime" to find
agreement and that if this happened the Government would be
generous in financially supporting a deal.

The DUP's Ian Paisley junior said last night the ball was
now firmly in Sinn Féin's court and for the first time Sinn
Féin was being really tested in the peace process and they
had to deliver.

"They should not be trading support for the police. They
should be supporting the police because it is the right
thing to do," he said on RTÉ's Questions and Answers

Asked about whether the DUP would give a commitment that by
May 2008 policing and justice would be under Stormont
control if Sinn Féin supported policing, he said: "That's a
load of nonsense. This process is not about
doesn't work...what we have to get down to is delivery."

© 2007 The Irish Times


McGuinness In Call For Positive Signal By Paisley

[Published: Monday 8, January 2007 - 09:23]
By Louise Hogan

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness yesterday called on Ian
Paisley to speak out on whether the Democratic Unionists
were going to enter into a power sharing executive.

Addressing a rally in Limerick, Mr McGuinness demanded
answers only minutes after his harshest republican critics
denounced the party's proposed shift on policing at the
same venue.

As both Sinn Fein and Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) held rival
commemorations to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of
IRA activist Sean South, Mr McGuinness said: "So let me put
a challenge out to a man who describes himself as a plain
speaking Ulsterman. Ian, are you going to share power with
nationalists and republicans by March 26th? This is a
simple question. It requires a simple answer.

"A positive response from Ian Paisley will clearly move the
current situation forward."

Sinn Fein's national executive backed moves by Gerry Adams
to hold a special party conference on policing this month.
But the staging of a conference depends on the response of
the British and Irish governments and the DUP to Mr Adam's

During last week, Sinn Fein cast doubt on whether the
conference could go ahead, after they said they were still
waiting for a positive response from the DUP.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday said it would be
inexcusable if efforts to revive power-sharing stalled.

Mr Ahern said parties could get on with addressing the
issue of devolution of policing if Dr Paisley made it clear
if a Sinn Fein ard fheis takes place this month then the
DUP would move towards power-sharing.

Talks are due to take place in Dundalk today between
Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern and the Northern
Ireland Secretary of State, Peter Hain.

Mr McGuinness said his party wanted the process to move
forward but other people had responsibilities they must

"After St Andrews talks Ian Paisley indicated that he would
share power. He has yet to say when. He has yet to say he
will do so by March 26th following the elections. He has
yet to say he agrees with the the transfer of powers on
policing and justice by May 2008," he said.

Mr McGuinness called on republicans to participate in the
debate under way within the party.

"This debate cannot simply be reduced down to policing or
to support for the PSNI. The Ard Chomhairle have indicated
that we will move to an Ard Fheis to discuss this issue in
the context of a positive response coming from the DUP. We
await that response. But people should not become
distracted by the DUP. People here need to focus on our
strategy, on our objectives," Mr McGuinness said.

He added: "The current phase is about much more than
policing. It is about the sort of vision we as republicans
have for the future shape of this island."

© Belfast Telegraph


Devil Is Still In The Detail Of The Peace Process

[Published: Monday 8, January 2007 - 11:59]

Chris Thornton argues that Tony Blair is searching for
specifics in a political process dominated by ambiguity and

Remember "constructive ambiguity?" Back in those distant
days before HDTV, when the taxi driver's Bluetooth could
only be evidence of poor dental hygiene, constructive
ambiguity was the way the peace process worked.

It was the idea that if you were deliberately vague about
the detail in certain matters - decommissioning, for
example - you gave the participants in the process the room
to explain away things to the sceptical people on their own

Tony Blair is a master of it, but now and again he comes
out and says it's time to be specific. His article in
today's Belfast Telegraph is such an instance.

In it, he repeats the peace process mantra that both sides
have to move, and he says he thinks they're willing to. But
when it comes to the next step, he says that Sinn Fein
"need to know clearly" that if the party signs up to
policing, "unionism will not be found wanting".

He's looking for the DUP to write 'devolution' into a
couple of dates in their diaries. The first is March 26,
when a power-sharing Executive is supposed to be up and
running, provided Sinn Fein say how much they admire the

And he wants Ian Paisley to say he's happy to see justice
powers transferred from London to Belfast a little over a
year later.

This is particularly important. The Sinn Fein leadership
forgot all about constructive ambiguity when dealing with
their own members, and agreed that they wouldn't call their
special ard fheis on policing without a date for the
devolution of justice.

They want to be able to say that the PSNI is an Irish
police force for an Irish people.

Since no date has been forthcoming from the DUP, Sinn Fein
has threatened to scrap its ard fheis. As yet, no
invitations have been sent out.

All this brought Mr Blair home from his holidays a day
early. The problem for him is that when he's looking for
specifics, the DUP have found out just how useful
constructive ambiguity can be.

The transfer of policing and justice powers has proven to
be a touchy issue inside the DUP, with several senior
members deeply suspicious about bringing policing powers
into Sinn Fein's reach.

So the DUP Executive decided that it would commit to
testing Sinn Fein's support for policing over "a credible

Senior members have also said devolution of justice could
take "a political lifetime" - which is itself a thoroughly
ambiguous phrase.

On Saturday, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said he'd
like to see justice powers "as soon as it is possible and
as soon as it is safe to do so" .

The Prime Minister says that, based on his conversations
with the DUP, he believes they "will accept devolution of
policing and justice powers" by next May "or even before
that date".

Except that's not what they're saying. Martin McGuinness
wasn't sounding too convinced yesterday.

"Ian, are you going to share power with nationalists and
republicans by March 26?" he asked. "This is a simple
question. It requires a simple answer. A positive response
from Ian Paisley clearly moves the current situation

Maybe there's a lot of bluffing going on. Mr Blair reckons
that a decade from now, people will be wondering what all
the fuss was about.

But here in the present, the DUP doesn't look like ready to
budge by naming the day, and the Sinn Fein leadership will
lose face if it holds its ard fheis without it.

It may be a bad sign for the Prime Minister that he's had
to go public with his pleas.

© Belfast Telegraph


Loughinisland Case - Reminder Of Why MI5 Must Be Removed
From Policing Here

Published: 7 January, 2007

Sinn Féin Assembly member for South Down Caitriona Ruane
and party Councillor Michael Cougan will accompany members
of the Loughinisland families to meet with the British
Security Minister Paul Goggins tomorrow afternoon in
Stormont. The meeting is a latest in a series of
discussions involving the families including meeting in
Westminister and at the European Parliament.

Speaking today in advance of the meeting Ms Ruane said:

"Sinn Féin will continue to support the families of those
murdered at Loughinisland in their campaign for the truth
about what happened on that night 12 years ago. The British
government need to realise that issue will not go away.

"In recent months I have accompanied the families on trips
to the European Parliament and Westminster. The families
are determined that their efforts to uncover the truth will
intensify in the coming year.

"I have to say as the truth begins to out about the
killings at Loughinisland a picture emerges which
demonstrates clearly why the faceless securocarts who
controlled both the murder gang on that night and the
subsequent investigation by the RUC and PSNI need to be
removed from policing here once and for all.

"That is why Sinn Féin made the removal of MI5 from civic
policing here such a priority in the recent negotiations.
The integration strategy proposed by the British government
with the support of the SDLP at St. Andrews would if
implemented have embedded MI5 securocrats into civic
policing. Our strategy has been to remove them entirely
from it." ENDS

Editors Note: The meeting between the Loughinisland
families and the British

Security Minister Paul Goggins will take place at Stormont
Castle at 3.15pm


Ahern Accused Of Sinn Fein U-Turn

By Shane Harrison
Dublin correspondent, BBC Northern Ireland

The leader of the main opposition party in the Republic of
Ireland has accused prime minister Bertie Ahern of doing a
u-turn on accepting Sinn Fein backing.

During a radio interview Mr Ahern said he would accept Sinn
Fein support for a minority Fianna Fail government in the
Irish parliament, the Dail.

But the taoiseach said he would not agree any deal with
them in return for votes.

Enda Kenny, the leader of Fine Gael, said Mr Ahern had
totally "changed" tack on his stance on the party.

The Irish Republic is due to go to the polls by the summer.

Opinion polls suggest that the opposition Fine Gael and
Labour alliance, sometimes called the Rainbow Coalition, is
currently trailing the Fianna Fail and Progressive
Democrats partnership government in the race for power.

So, Enda Kenny is keen to seize on any opportunity to chip
away at that lead. And he believes that on Sunday, Mr Ahern
provided him with such an opening.

In the course of the interview, with state broadcaster RTE
Mr Ahern said: "I don't think it would be reasonable for
somebody to go in and say that you wouldn't take support
from a party.

"We will not, in Fianna Fail, enter into coalition
discussions or a pact with Sinn Fein."

Those remarks prompted Mr Kenny to say the taoiseach had
"completely changed tack" on the issue of Sinn Fein and
were evidence the Fianna Fail leader no longer believes his
coalition with Michael McDowell's Progressive Democrats
will have enough seats to form a government.

"The statement by the taoiseach today on RTE radio signals
a dramatic shift in position by the Fianna Fail party
regarding the acceptance of Sinn Fein support to stay in

"In an interview with the Sunday Independent in November
2005 the Fianna Fail position was explained by the
taoiseach when he said that 'I would lead my party into
opposition' rather than rely on Sinn Fein for support," the
Fine Gael leader said.

Mr Kenny, who said he would have "no truck" with Sinn Fein,
called on Michael McDowell, who as justice minister has in
the past been highly critical of Sinn Fein and the IRA, to
clarify where the Progressive Democrats stood on the issue.

Government sources said the taoiseach made his remarks in
the wake of the Northern Bank robbery, the IRA money-
laundering investigation and the Robert McCartney murder
but that a lot has changed since then.

Mr Kenny acknowledged that Sinn Fein has made progress but
said it has yet to complete its journey to full democracy.

"Sinn Fein has yet to declare its full support for the
police and judicial systems in Northern Ireland and in this
state," he said.

"A number of major crimes perpetrated by the IRA, such as
the Northern Bank robbery, and the McCartney and Rafferty
murders, have yet to be resolved.

"There is also the issue of the 'on-the-runs' and others
still being sought for other serious crimes that have yet
to be addressed."

Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, said Mr Ahern would have
to change his party's policies before Fianna Fail would get
his support.

"It is a farce that we have the wealthiest economy in the
EU and yet a crisis right across all the public sectors,
but in particular the health service," he said.

With an election expected in May or June the political
skirmishes have only just begun.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/08 17:32:37 GMT


Ahern Rules Out Government Dependent On Sinn Féin

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent
Tue, Jan 09, 2007

Fianna Fáil will not form a minority administration in any
way dependent on Sinn Féin after the general election this
year, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said.

On Sunday, Mr Ahern said that while Fianna Fáil would not
do any deals with Sinn Féin, it would not be reasonable for
any party to say it would not take support offered from
others if no deal was struck.

"I don't think it would be reasonable for somebody to go in
and say that you wouldn't take support from a party," he
said then. "We will not, in Fianna Fáil, enter into
coalition discussions or a pact with Sinn Féin."

The comments led to accusations on Sunday and again
yesterday from Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny that Mr Ahern
had abandoned his 2005 declaration that he would go into
opposition rather than rely on Sinn Féin.

Despite Mr Ahern's statement on Sunday, the Government
spokeswoman said he had not changed his position and that
Fianna Fáil would not form a government if that could only
be done with Sinn Féin backing.

"He is not going to form a government on the basis of Sinn
Féin support. He stated that quite clearly previously that
he would go into opposition before he would go into
government with Sinn Féin [ support]. It is disappointing
that Mr Kenny sought to misconstrue his remarks,
notwithstanding the fact that this is a very difficult time
in the peace process," she told The Irish Times.

Tánaiste and Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell
also insisted that Mr Ahern's comments on Sunday
represented no departure from the policy shared by Fianna
Fáil and the PDs.

Mr McDowell, who is in Los Angeles meeting police chiefs,
said Mr Ahern had consistently ruled out forming a
government that depended on Sinn Féin for its survival.

Mr Kenny, however, said "the record of the Taoiseach in
doing side deals with Sinn Féin and the IRA leads you to
believe that you can't believe him on this issue".

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said yesterday that Mr
Ahern "would have to change his policies before he would
get our support. The health services are in an absolute and
complete mess."

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said Mr Ahern had "opened the
door" to Fianna Fáil being dependent upon Sinn Féin and
that he had reversed "his solemn pledge to go into
opposition rather than rely" on them.

"Fianna Fáil is attempting to portray as reasonable that Mr
Ahern would accept the support of Sinn Féin deputies in
order to get back into government. But the other side of
that 'reasonable' coin is that [ he] would then be
dependent on Sinn Féin. The question is, will he be reliant
on them to govern?"

© 2007 The Irish Times


Obit: David Ervine

July 21, 1953 - January 8, 2007

Loyalist politician and former terrorist who helped to
secure the 1998 Good Friday agreement

As the IRA started to achieve electoral success through the
voice of Sinn Fein in the 1980s, so, in the following
decade, loyalist terrorist groups sought to create
political machines of their own. One of the organisations
to emerge was the Progressive Unionist Party, which
represented the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force and was
headed by the charismatic figure of David Ervine.
Conforming to none of the malign caricatures of Ulster
Protestant politicians, Ervine was neither a colourless
bank manager, a belligerent preacher nor a tattooed thug.
Articulate, persuasive and apparently repentant, he was
widely touted as the alternative voice of loyalism.

A convicted member of the UVF, Ervine became an outspoken
critic of terrorism. He was also among those trying to
foster cross-community relations in Northern Ireland,
insisting that he was “trying to move away from tribalism”
and “sectarian politics”. Unlike mainstream Unionist
parties, he talked openly to Sinn Fein, and played a key
role in the Good Friday agreement of 1998.

David Walter Ervine, the youngest of two brothers and two
sisters, grew up in Protestant East Belfast, the heart of
working-class loyalism. He was educated at Orangefield
Boys’ Secondary School. His father was an iron-turner who
served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and
became a member of the Northern Ireland Labour Party; his
father’s socialist leanings were to have a lasting effect
on him.

As a teenager, however, Ervine was drawn to terrorism. Like
many other Protestants of his generation, he was spurred to
“join up” after Bloody Friday, July 21, 1972, when the IRA
exploded 22 bombs in Belfast, killing nine people. He
became a member of the UVF that year and at the age of 21
he was stopped in a car with five and a half pounds of
commercial gelignite. The army bomb disposal unit tied a
rope around his ankle, pointed a pistol at him and sent him
back into the vehicle to retrieve the device. He was
sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment, of which he would
serve more than five.

At Long Kesh, Ervine joined the UVF prisoners’ wing under
the UVF commander Gusty Spence, a dominant figure in
militant loyalism and, like Ervine’s father, a socialist by

Ervine credited Spence with “unlocking the door”. Whereas
imprisonment tends to strengthen the political resolve of
republican terrorists, it often has the reverse effect on
loyalists, something that Ervine himself recognised. “It
made me think about the police, the Army and judge who put
me there because they were defending their country — which
was exactly what I thought I’d been doing.”

Ervine talked about being “peculiarly Irish” in Long Kesh,
learning enough Gaelic to cause havoc among the republican
prisoners. During their drill practice he would shout
“about turn” in Irish through the wire, reducing their
ranks to chaos. When released from prison he developed an
interest in politics, though financial necessity dictated
that he set himself up initially as a newsagent and
milkman. Owing to IRA attention he had to give up the
business and move house three times.

Being incarcerated with Spence opened Ervine’s eyes to the
often complex relationship between being working class and
being a loyalist. Central to Ervine’s emerging political
vision was the belief that in the past, while working-class
Catholics had been abused for their disloyalty, working-
class Protestants had been manipulated for their loyalty by
the Ascendency and by London. The PUP’s ideal was of an
inclusive, socialist United Kingdom (the party’s
constitution was based on that of the British Labour Party)
that would forge working-class links between Protestants
and Catholics: “We are saying that you can be a citizen of
the UK irrespective of your religion.” Ervine often quoted
John Hume’s father, who in warning him of the limitations
of pursuing a nationalist agenda, had once said to him:
“You can’t eat a flag.”

As a spokesman for the PUP, Ervine attended the 1994 Labour
conference in Blackpool with Spence. Ervine pursued
pragmatism: “I don’t want to wake up every morning and ask
myself am I British or Irish? I want to think ‘Am I late
for work?’.”

The PUP’s electoral mandate was minimal. Its principal role
was to ensure that the UVF did not return to violence,
Ervine describing himself as having “an insight into the
thinking of the paramilitaries”.

The UVF declared a ceasefire in 1994, and despite the
breakdown of the concurrent IRA ceasefire in 1996, Ervine
continued to urge his men not to go back to violence. In a
historic move he visited John Major at 10 Downing Street in
July 1996. Two years later, on the promise of prisoner
remission, the PUP was one of the Unionist parties most
keen to sign up to the Good Friday agreement.

Nevertheless the UVF continued and continues to be involved
in punishment beatings, drug trafficking and other crime,
not to mention an internecine war with the splinter group,
the LVF, by whom Ervine was loathed.

He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly as MLA for
East Belfast in 1998, and re-elected five years later. Last
year, despite the PUP’s paramilitary links, Ervine was
invited to join the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group. The
move was ruled invalid.

Like his counterpart Gerry Adams, David Ervine was an
accomplished orator, comfortable in front of the cameras
and willing to take his message to London, Dublin and

He liked to quote Bernard Shaw, and will be remembered for
his trademark moustache and knitted jumpers; like his hero
Spence, he would often be seen smoking a pipe.

A fall in 1993 left him with a back injury. He suffered a
heart attack and a stroke on January 7. He is survived by
his wife, Jeanette, and by two sons.

David Ervine, Ulster Volunteer Force terrorist and
spokesman of the Progressive Unionist Party, was born on
July 21, 1953. He died on January 8, 2007, aged 53


PUP's Ervine Has Died In Hospital

Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine has died in
the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Mr Ervine, 53, was taken to hospital after suffering a
heart attack at his home on Sunday. He later had a stroke
and a brain haemorrhage.

Mr Ervine, a former UVF prisoner, was a key figure in
brokering the loyalist paramilitary ceasefire of 1994.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, his family said he had
"passed away quietly with peace and dignity".

"The family would like to thank the Royal Victoria staff
for all that they've done," they added.

Mr Ervine was originally taken to the Ulster Hospital in
Dundonald but was then transferred to the intensive care
unit at the RVH.

The PUP leader had been an assembly member for East Belfast
since 1998 and also represented the Pottinger area in
Belfast City Council.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was very sorry to hear of
Mr Ervine's death.


"David was a man who, whatever his past, played a major
part in this last 10 years in trying to bring peace to
Ulster," Mr Blair said.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said the PUP leader had been a
courageous politician.

"David Ervine had travelled his own difficult journey to
democratic politics but he made that journey," Mr Ahern

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said Mr Ervine was a
"talented, courageous and an honest politician".

"He wanted to solve problems not simply restate them,
always looking for a way forward," Mr Hain said.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said Northern Ireland
had lost "a unique, charismatic and uncharacteristically
spin-free politician".

"He realised that violence belonged in the past and was
keen to play his part in helping loyalists make the
transition towards exclusively peaceful and democratic
means," Sir Reg said.


Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams he was shocked by Mr Ervine's

"He made a valuable and important contribution to moving
our society away from conflict," Mr Adams said.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson, the MP for East Belfast,
said Mr Ervine was a "staunch defender" of the area.

"Even those who saw politics from a different angle of
vision would openly acknowledge that he genuinely wanted to
see a new era of peace and stability in Northern Ireland,"
he said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the PUP leader "was a great
character and he always showed real character".

"While his strong voice will no longer be heard his strong
views and values will continue to shape the future for
which he worked so hard," Mr Durkan said.

The PUP said loyalism had lost its most articulate

"Unionism has lost the most progressive voice of this
generation. Politics has lost a statesman. Our peace
process has lost its most optimistic advocate and Ulster
has lost a devoted son," a party statement said.

Alliance Party leader David Ford also paid tribute to Mr

"His personal passion for progress will be missed. He
played a pivotal role in turning loyalism away from
violence," Mr Ford said.

Peter Bunting, of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said
Mr Ervine was "one of the finest and bravest of his

"All working class people in Ireland and Britain have lost
a true friend," Mr Bunting said.

Mr Ervine, who was married with two sons, became the leader
of the PUP in 2002 after replacing Belfast councillor Hugh

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/08 17:47:39 GMT


Fr. Mc Manus On Death Of David Irvine

Irish National Caucus Press Release

CAPITOL HILL. Monday, January 7, 2007 ---- The President of
the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus, Fr. Sean Mc
Manus has issued the following statement:

" I am deeply sorry about the death of David Irvine.I had
the pleasure of meeting him several times. I like and
respected him a lot. He was a good man, a sturdy Loyalist
who made a very important contribution to the Irish peace-
process, both in Ireland and in the United States

May his soul rest in God's eternal peace."

Father Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. Box 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20003-0849


Colleagues And Opponents Alike Praise Ervine

08/01/2007 - 17:06:51

Northern Secretary Peter Hain led tributes to Progressive
Unionists leader David Ervine, who died in hospital today.

“David Ervine was a talented, courageous and an honest
politician,” he said.

“He had grown away from the past and worked tirelessly to
make Northern Ireland a better place.

“He wanted to solve problems not simply restate them, and
was always looking for a way forward.

“His loss will be keenly felt within loyalism. He gave
loyalists a voice and influence at the highest level and he
was crucial in taking loyalism along the often difficult
path to a lasting peace.

“But above all he was a husband and father and my thoughts
are with his family.”

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said he Mr Ervine played an
important role in the peace process.

“David Ervine played a key role within loyalism throughout
the development of the peace process,” he said. “He made a
valuable and important contribution to moving our society
away from conflict.

“I was shocked when I heard the news that David Ervine had
been taken ill and died suddenly.

“On behalf of Sinn Féin I would wish to extend my
condolences to his family, friends and party colleagues at
this difficult time.”

Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey said the death was a major

“Northern Ireland has today lost a unique, charismatic and
uncharacteristically spin-free politician,” he said. “I
have known David for many years, initially at Belfast City
Hall then at the Assembly.

“David was always passionate about East Belfast, its people
and his culture and heritage. He realised that violence
belonged in the past and was keen to play his part in
helping loyalists make the transition towards exclusively
peaceful and democratic means.

“Respected for his forthright and no-nonsense views and
opinions on both sides of the political divide, and for his
unique style of oratory, David will be sorely missed.”

SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell said it was sombre day for
politics in the North.

“His influence in providing political analysis to loyalism
and moving it away from paths of violence was crucial to
the peace process,” he said.

“I would hope that following the sad death of David Ervine,
loyalism will continue to follow his vision of political
progress and reject paths of violence.”

Democratic Unionist East Belfast MP Peter Robinson said:
“David had always been an able, energetic and committed
representative, eager to improve the lives of his
constituents, especially those subjugated or

“He was a staunch defender of the interests of east

He added that Mr Ervine wanted to see a new era of peace in
the North.

British Home Secretary John Reid, who was Northern
Secretary from 2001 to 2002, paid tribute to Mr Ervine's
efforts to bring peace to the province.

“I had great admiration for David Ervine as a politician
and as a man,” he said.

“He brought courage, character and commitment to the task
of building a new Northern Ireland where working people
from all backgrounds could forge their own future.

“That will be his legacy and he would have been happy with
that as his legacy.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast Pat McCarthy paid tribute to the
former councillor.

“David Ervine was a tireless and dedicated servant of the
people of Belfast,” he said. “He approached his council
duties with the same passion and enthusiasm as he showed in
other aspects of his political and personal life.”

Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Peter
Bunting also paid tribute to the east Belfast MP.

“David Ervine was one of the finest and bravest of his
generation,” he said.

“His journey would have been an inspiration to more people
in a fairer world, but that it inspired at least some to
embrace change and progressive politics over the easy
temptations of sectarianism was, and is, a giant monument
to the man’s decency and intelligence and his basic

“He never lost his anger, though, but he directed his rage
towards the injustices that keep so many people across our
society ignorant and powerless.

“He was a tireless advocate for dialogue, education and
empowerment. He railed against slum housing, ghetto
politics and casual scapegoating.”

The chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board,
Professor Sir Desmond Rea, said he would be remembered for
his political leadership and dedication to democratic and
peaceful means.


Bail Is Denied In Loyalist Case

Belfast loyalist Ihab Shoukri has been refused bail in the
High Court for the third time after a judge said he could
be killed if he was released.

Shoukri is charged with membership of the UDA and UFF.

The charges follow a police raid on the Alexandra Bar on
York Road in Belfast in March last year.

Sixteen others were also charged but he is the only one
still in custody. Refusing bail, the judge said he could be
"under threat if he is released".

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/01/08 20:49:30 GMT



Opin: Ervine's Death Leaves Huge Void In Loyalism

Tue, Jan 09, 2007

Loyalism has been left leaderless, chaotic and confused and
there is no obvious successor to David Ervine, writes Dan
Keenan, Northern News Editor

The sudden death of Progressive Unionist leader David
Ervine will have a political impact in addition to the
personal tragedy it represents for his family.

In public life his sizeable personality, colourful turn of
phrase, ready availability and wit endeared him to many,
providing a welcome and bright focal point against the
often grey backdrop of Stormont.

Comparisons can be drawn between the loyalist leadership
and Sinn Féin, and the efforts both have made to establish
secure ceasefires and to commit their movements to
political paths. However, while both David Ervine and Gerry
Adams were both central to the paramilitary ceasefires
announced in 1994, the comparison should end there as their
fortunes diverge sharply.

Despite the collapse of the IRA cessation in February 1996,
with the Canary Wharf bombing in London and its later
reinstatement, Gerry Adams has witnessed the rise and rise
of Sinn Féin to the point where it is the lead nationalist

David Ervine saw his party peak with two seats in the
Stormont Assembly in 1998, subsequently reduced to one in
2003 and just two local councillors.

His death brings a welter of acclaim for his personal
integrity, genuine character and ability to appeal to
others well outside the loyalist confines of his native
working class Belfast.

Described as the Republic's favoured unionist, he was
highly regarded for his role in the talks which led to the
Belfast Agreement in 1998 by talks chairman Senator George

His distinctive voice, and plain upfront style, was
undoubtedly welcome in both Government Buildings and
Downing Street where both governments greeted any sane,
political alternative to the nihilism in which the various
loyalist paramilitaries had sunk.

Sinn Féin has witnessed the IRA follow its ceasefire with a
series of politically-crafted initiatives including
decommissioning and the 2005 statement that it was standing

Mr Ervine's efforts to wean the UVF down a political path
were punctuated by the collapse of the Combined Loyalist
Military Command, an umbrella organisation which provided
singular leadership and delivered the 1994 ceasefire,
sporadic feuding with rival loyalist organisations and a
continuing failure to decommission weapons.

While his personal story is one of a former paramilitary
and prisoner turned influential constitutional politician
at a key moment in recent Northern history, it has not
(yet) been replicated by a new generation across the broad
front of Ulster loyalism.

His radicalism did not provoke an organised loyalist
political drive despite his clear marking out of
distinctive territory between the established parties, the
DUP and the Ulster Unionists.

He denounced both, the former as "Big Mouth" unionism and
the latter as "Big House" unionism.

But this did not prevent his announcement last May that he
would join the Ulster Unionist Assembly grouping in a
tactical manoeuvre to deny Sinn Féin an Executive seat
under the complex d'Hondt share-out of ministries.

Although subsequently ruled out of order, it underlined the
Ervine capacity for what he himself called "a good
political move" even if it meant dealing with opponents.

He worked to advance a constitutional alternative for
loyalism despite the many obvious barriers in his path -
the disparate nature of various conflicting paramilitaries
and the alienation from the political process on Protestant
working class streets.

The feuds among loyalist factions have fostered divisions
and deep suspicion at ground level. These have increased
just as efforts to co-ordinate loyalist political
direction, especially in areas associated with the UDA,
seem more disjointed than ever.

Yesterday's plaudits from the political establishments in
both Dublin and London no doubt reflect genuine gratitude
for his efforts.

However, David Ervine himself often wished they would heed
him more. In his last interview with this newspaper he
expressed exasperation at their pigeon-holing of him as a
former terrorist rather than an elected representative.

He complained, following the emerging domination of the DUP
and Sinn Féin at the 2003 Assembly elections, that other
parties and particularly his own were more marginalised
than ever.

Despite his status as his party's sole Assembly member, his
departure from the political scene leaves an immense void
across wider loyalism which is arguably more in need of
constitutional leadership than ever.

If loyalism is to dedicate itself solely to politics it is
unclear who will lead such a move - and difficult even to
identify a group of individuals who might conceivably
provide a figure of David Ervine's status.

His positive and significant contribution to the political
process will be cited, but his failure could consist of the
particular inability to pass on the torch he had so bravely

© 2007 The Irish Times


£1bn Titanic Area Plan Submitted

Northern Ireland's biggest planning application has been
submitted to develop Belfast's Titanic quarter.

The £1bn plans include building a tourist centre with a
target of attracting 500,000 visitors annually.

The massive scheme would cover more than three million
square feet of hotels, shops, apartments and restaurants as

The huge slipways where the White Star Line's Titanic and
Olympic liners were launched are central to the plan.

The exhibition centre will be located beside the
refurbished slipways, which will create a public space
three times the size of Trafalgar square.

Five star hotels and apartments will help cater for the
thousands of visitors which are expected.

A marina is also planned to help bring pleasure boats into
the heart of Belfast's old industrial centre.

The developers predict that Titanic quarter will prove to
be an even bigger draw than the Giant's Causeway, bringing
half a million people to Belfast every year.

The £75m exhibition building will not only show how the
great ship was constructed but also provide a window into
the lives of the people who built and sailed the world
famous liner.


There are plans too to refurbish the old Harland and Wolf
headquarters building and the famous drawing office where
engineers and draughtsmen pored over plans for the ship.

The loss of the Titanic stunned Belfast and also
represented a devastating blow to Belfast's industrial

But now almost 100 years later the ghost of the Titanic
seems set to sail back into Belfast, bringing with it
thousands of people fascinated by the romance of the luxury

For now the plans are all on paper but in just two or three
years the old shipyard could be transformed.

The derelict shipyard and the Titanic slipway covered with
weeds could become a recognised tourist destination.

Funding though is an issue.

Even if the planners sanction the Titanic quarter
blueprint, the project will need to attract significant
Government money to make it happen.

But the developers seem confident they can steer this
Titanic project to success and the aim now is get work
under way to complete the exhibition centre in time for the
centenary of the liner's launch in 2011.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/08 19:26:04 GMT


Fitting In With Our Friends In The North

Tue, Jan 09, 2007

Quality of life in Northern Ireland is attracting people
from the South, who have abandoned their preconceptions,
writes Carissa Casey. Now if they can just get their
friends to visit . . .

Locally they're known as Mexicans - people from the south
of Ireland who've strayed north across the Border. The
houses prices are reasonable although rising fast, traffic
gridlock is a foreign concept and a trip to the doctor
costs nothing. But after 30 years of bitter sectarian
conflict, Northern Ireland is also a deeply divided
society. And Southerners are easily identifiable by their

Rory Fitzpatrick is one of more than 100 officers in the
Police Service of Northern Ireland to have been born in the
Republic. He joined the service two years ago, is stationed
in the predominantly Protestant town of Carrickfergus and
lives in the predominantly Protestant east Belfast.

He says he moved north because he just got sick of living
in Dublin when he returned from doing a Master's degree in
security at Leicester University in England three years
ago, at the age of 24. The traffic and the house prices
were the biggest issues.

"My mother used to work in town and give me a lift in to
college and it would take an hour and a half every
morning," he says.

But the biggest thing was the house prices and whether he
could ever afford to buy a house in his native north
Dublin. "If I'd wanted to join the guards the pay is
nowhere near as good as it is up here," he points out.

In the first 10 recruitment competitions run by the PSNI
nearly 4,000 people applied from the South. The salary
starts at £22,000 (€33,000) and the shift system operates
on a four-day-on, four-day-off basis, although this is set
to change. Both the pay and benefits are seen as
substantially better than anything the Garda can offer.
Across the UK, the PSNI is the envy of other police forces
because of the high number of applicants they get for each
recruitment round.

Rory's mother is from Belfast and he spent summers as a
child in the city. But, like many from the South, he was
wary of moving here, particularly when he joined the
police, which 10 years after the ceasefire is still a
political bone of contention.

"I expected it to be a lot worse, for there to be a 'them
and us' attitude because I was from the South. But the only
incident I ever had was when I was dropped off in a black
taxi one night in east Belfast and the driver shouted
'Orange bastard' as he was driving away. I wouldn't
necessarily broadcast that I'm from Dublin in certain areas
but I don't feel threatened."

That said, the PSNI is not popular in certain parts of
Northern Ireland. "I'm not afraid of being shot or beaten
up, it's more that people are very bitter with the police,
on both sides. I go to calls and they're spitting at you in
loyalist areas. They don't care who's in the uniform, it's
just a uniform. It's an irrational hatred, in my opinion.
Maybe things did go on years ago but I've never seen any of

NORTHERN IRELAND'S divisions are still visible to him. A
friend at work told him how his grandmother used to say
that nuns kidnap little Protestant boys and turn them into
Catholics. "That was back about 30 years ago. He believed
it and the first time he met a nun answering an emergency
call - he's wearing his flak jacket and gun - his knees
were shaking," he laughs.

Another friend comes from Poleglass, a Republican
stronghold in west Belfast. "I get on really well with him.
He knows I'm in the police. But when he came over to visit
me in east Belfast he was really scared. I think he was
expecting road blocks and the UDA or whatever."

While the divisions in Northern Ireland are hard to avoid,
for outsiders they can simultaneously seem weirdly distant
at times. Janet Uhleman from Mount Merrion in Dublin also
lives in east Belfast. During the riots in September 2005
much of the inner East exploded, with rioters at one point
trying to gouge out an ATM with a bulldozer.

"I remember getting texts from family and friends in
Dublin. Obviously the news was breaking about the riots and
they knew I lived nearby. I was sitting with my neighbours
next door under a parasol drinking cocktails oblivious to
it all."

Seven years ago Janet's contract job in Dublin came to an
end and she applied for four positions, one of them in
Belfast. She got the Belfast job.

"It was great when I got the job but then it sank in and it
was 'oh my God'. It wasn't just that it was Belfast, it was
outside of Dublin."

Despite her reservations she moved North and admits that
for the first year she struggled. "I felt that Belfast was
so near but I misunderstood the distance. I had visions of
nipping up and down to Dublin. I also thought friends would
visit more. I've found it very hard to get friends up here.
Everyone says 'dying to see you, when are you coming down?'
I say 'when are you coming up?' "

The difficulty of getting friends and family to visit is a
common one for Dubliners in the North. While some come
readily, many are reluctant or refuse point blank. Rory's
grandfather, for example, refused to attend his graduation
on the basis that there was "a war on up there".

When Janet arrived in Belfast she expected to be reasonably
settled in after a year. "But after a year I was still
struggling in terms of meeting people and finding social
networks. I've heard people say that Belfast and Northern
Irish society is hard to break into and I can't say no to
that, but I think there were probably other factors like
the fact that a lot of the people I worked with lived
outside of Belfast. After sitting on your own for a while
you realise you have to do something, so I've done courses,
volunteering and other activities. Through that I got to
know some people who were also new to town."

Although it's changing, there aren't many outsiders in
Belfast. Even being from Dublin, according to Rory, can
seem exotic when he's out for a night on the town.

Janet's accent has also been commented upon. "I'm not
saying people haven't had a certain view of me because I'm
from the South but I can honestly say I've never
experienced anyone saying anything or getting any sense
from them that they didn't like me. If anything I've found
people are fascinated."

DURING HER SEVEN years in Belfast she has also noticed the
dramatic changes in a city adjusting to "normalisation".
"There's the cliched side in that the house prices are
going up, the wine bars and coffee shops are opening.
There's also a real sense that people want to move forward.
I never get the sense that anyone wants to go back.

"I love the fact that on Saturday morning I can walk in and
out of town. I live in a lovely house that I could never
afford on my salary in Dublin. I suppose there's a
perception that someone from my background would have
problems in east Belfast but I've never had any. I have to
say I've great neighbours - really fantastic." She also
enjoys her job. "There are very big pluses to living here.
Why would you want to go back to traffic queues and those
crazy house prices?"

But there are also strange cultural differences. "There's a
real shortage of bookshops. I've really noticed that. I'm
not saying there are no bookshops but it's struck me there
aren't many. There's no bookshop I'm aware of in east
Belfast. That's something I'd really miss," she says.

For David Robinson from Bray, the cultural differences were
obvious from the start. A former student priest at
Clonliffe College, he came to live in a cross-community
retreat on the north Antrim coast. A few years later he met
his wife Julie and they now have a two-year-old son,
Thomas. Julie is from a Protestant background and David
admits the marriage was challenging for everyone. The
couple now live in Julie's native Newtownards, a
predominantly Protestant area.

Thomas was dedicated in the Salvation Army but his father
is already aware that schooling will be an issue.

"We're going to have to cross that bridge when we come to
it," he says. "As far as I'm concerned all the cultural and
religious heritage Thomas has inherited as a child has been
present at all the key events in his life. It's up to him
to decide what to do with that. It's not up to me or anyone
else to decide that for him."

David enjoys living in Newtownards and, despite a strong
Bray accent, has never experienced any hassle. He works as
a good relations officer for Belfast City Council and often
finds himself at the interface between hard-line
communities, a role that doesn't faze him in the slightest.

"I love what I do. I'm in a job that engages me with Irish
history, politics, culture, the religious thing, the
Northern Ireland stuff. To be honest I feel like I'm
playing my part as an Irishman in the well-being of the
country. Part of the journey for me is about meeting and
acknowledging those on the island who see themselves as
British. I've never felt any real threat. When I drove into
very loyalist areas for the first time I would feel uneasy
but I've grown comfortable with that. You sort of feel from
Republicans that we've let them down in the South and maybe
we did, I don't know. I certainly feel that both sides want
to tell you their story."

He says he is often inspired by the people he meets in the
course of his work. "There's so much potential here. The
spirit of the people is very powerful, their hopefulness,
their humour and the welcome they give you. I've felt that
welcome in places I never thought I'd visit."

© 2007 The Irish Times


Clare Council Gets Cliffs Of Moher Trading Ban

Gordon Deegan
Tue, Jan 09, 2007

Clare County Council has secured a temporary court order
preventing casual trading and unauthorised busking at the
Cliffs of Moher, where a new visitor centre is due to be
officially opened shortly.

At Ennis Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Carroll Moran also
granted an order that busking could take place only in line
with the terms offered to 17 people who had been offered
busking licences at the cliffs.

Counsel for eight of the 19 defendants before the court,
Pat Whyms, said the order did not apply to his clients as
they had given an undertaking to the council not to trade
and only busk in accordance with the busking licence
offered, pending a full court hearing on the case.

Mr Whyms said his clients had no difficulty giving the
undertakings to the court provided that the case would be
heard over the next six to eight weeks.

Four weeks away from the official opening of the €31.5
million visitor centre at the Cliffs of Moher, Judge Moran
said the temporary order and undertakings would be in place
until Friday, February 2nd, when the full case would be
heard at Ennis Civil Circuit Court.

The centre is to be officially opened on February 8th by
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

John Casey, solicitor for trader Des Roche, told the court
yesterday that Mr Roche was one of the original three
traders at the site, selling blackthorn sticks, and would
like to be part of the proceedings.

In all, there are 19 defendants in the case. However, a
number of the buskers have been accommodated in a licensed
busking system that the council is putting in place.

The council has also provided accommodation for six craft
units in the development.

The licences were offered to the 17 buskers after the
council advertised for the licensing system and interviews
were held with the people involved.

"We have been very pleased with the approach of the
applicants and the genuine interest in having a properly
managed busking scheme at the Cliffs of Moher," project
leader, Ger Dollard, said last month.

"We are satisfied that the applicants represent a good mix
and will result in a very positive addition to the visitor
experience. On the basis of the information at the
interviews we do not see it as necessary to proceed with
auditions at this time but reserve the right to do so at a
future date."

© 2007 The Irish Times

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