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January 25, 2007

Dissidents Targeting McGuinness

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 01/25/07 Dissidents 'Targeting McGuinness'
IE 01/25/07 Collusion Is Past; Cites Root & Branch Reform
EX 01/26/07 McCabe Widow Gives SF Benefit Of Doubt Policing
NW 01/26/07 MP: Investigate PSNI 'Harassment' In Castlederg
KN 01/25/07 What’s So Special About The Special Branch?
NL 01/25/07 Ex-Informer Defends RUC Against Critics
IT 01/26/07 Adams Offers To Meet Dissidents
IT 01/26/07 Palestinian Envoy Praises SF On Policing
UH 01/25/07 British Policing Is Not An Alternative - Mackey
BT 01/25/07 SF Rejects Plans To Compensate UDR Families
IT 01/25/07 Fall In Political Emblems On NI Streets
EX 01/25/07 Woman On Hunger Strike Over N Bank Claims
NL 01/25/07 Unionists Block Calls For Collusion Debate
IT 01/26/07 Opin: Adams And Symbolism Of Clonard
IT 01/25/07 McDowell Rules Out Joining Rainbow Coalition


Dissidents 'Targeting McGuinness'

A senior member of Sinn Fein has said that dissident
republicans are plotting to kill him.

Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said that the police had
warned him of a "substantially increased threat" to his

Sinn Fein is to debate endorsing Northern Ireland's police
service at an historic meeting for the party in Dublin this

The Mid-Ulster MP said that he would not be intimidated.

"Sinn Fein takes these threats seriously," he said.

"Over the past 30 years Sinn Fein elected representatives
and members have been murdered and targeted by those within
the British system and their surrogates.

"We did not allow those threats to deflect us from our work
in bringing about Irish unity and independence and this
latest threat will only serve to strengthen our resolve.

"There will (be) disappointment across the broad
nationalist republican community that so-called dissident
republicans are targeting the Sinn Fein leadership in this

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/25 17:25:24 GMT


Orde's Vow

Collusion Is Past; Cites 'Root And Branch' Reform

By Ray O'Hanlon
As outrage over the revelations of RUC Special Branch
collusion with loyalist murderers during the 1990s spread
across the Atlantic this week, Northern Ireland's top
police officer said there would be no criminal prosecutions
of officers. But he vowed to prevent such collusion from
ever reoccurring.

"I am determined to make sure that it is never going to
happen again," Sir Hugh Orde told the Echo in a phone

However, the fact that there will be no prosecutions --
this in large part because documentation in many cases of
Special Branch collusion with loyalist killers was
destroyed -- was not enough for one U.S. congressman.

"This is incredibly outrageous," said Rep. Jim Walsh of New

"There are clearly people in the [North] police system who
need to be cleared out," the Syracuse Republican said.

Orde, however, said that the "vast majority" of those RUC
Special Branch officers implicated in the report by Police
Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan had since retired.

Orde said that the practice of destroying records had been
discontinued in the RUC's successor, the PSNI.

The police chief said he found O'Loan's report to be
"disturbing and very uncomfortable reading" and said that
he felt "deeply disturbed" over the fact that some senior
offices had not cooperated with O'Loan's inquiry.

Orde said he accepted all O'Loan's recommendations. He
hoped that Sinn Féin would decide at its special ard fheis
this weekend to become involved in a new police force that
had undergone "root and branch" changes since the period
covered by O'Loan's inquiry.

"There is now transparent oversight. I am the most
accountable chief constable in the United Kingdom and Sinn
Féin needs to be part of that accountability. They should
engage [policing] at all levels," Orde said.

McCabe Widow Gives SF ‘Benefit Of Doubt’ On Policing

26 January 2007
By Brian Hutton

THE widow of Garda Jerry McCabe, who was murdered by the
IRA, said yesterday she would applaud Sinn Féin if they
signed up to policing in Northern Ireland.

Anne McCabe, an arch-critic of the republican movement
since her husband was shot dead in a botched Provisional
IRA bank raid more than a decade ago, said such a move
would draw a line under the past.

“It would be historic. I would be all for it. But to be
honest with you, I can’t see that happening. But I’ll give
them the benefit of the doubt — my husband always did,” she

Garda McCabe, a Special Branch detective, was gunned down
without warning as he sat in a garda car with his colleague
Ben O’Sullivan on June 7, 1996.

The men were escorting a security van in Adare, Co
Limerick, when an IRA man armed with an assault rifle
opened fire on them during an aborted robbery.

Mrs McCabe maintains she will never get over the death of
her husband. Her loss — along with so many others — is
regularly intruded upon by developments in the peace

“It will always be painful. Make no mistake about that —
I’ll never get over it. It’s just the fact that it has been
on the table, brought backwards and forwards because of the
Good Friday Agreement and that.”

Only weeks ago Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness
called once more for the early release of Garda McCabe’s
killers during a republican commemoration in the
detective’s home town.

While Mrs McCabe recognises the pain of RUC widows who had
to watch their husbands’ murderers walk free under the
peace accord, she clings to the assurance by the Irish
Government that Garda McCabe’s killers will serve their

She remains deeply suspicious about Sinn Féin’s involvement
with the gang who gunned down her husband and about their
motives in peace negotiations.

“The people who killed Jerry were on the run for two years.
Who funded them when they were on the run? They were
visited while they were on the run, as well, by senior
members of Sinn Féin.

“When Gerry Adams was asked to speak about this, he said it
was somebody making mischief and then he went on to say it
hadn’t been sanctioned (by the IRA leadership) and then,
eventually, that it was authorised from a lower level. We
have our own ideas as to who the lower level was.

“I wouldn’t have any trust in the republican movement.
They’re always unwilling to answer straight questions.”

But in a remarkable gesture, Garda McCabe’s widow confessed
she would give the republican leaders credit if the
movement backs policing.

“If we are to have peace, they have to recognise all parts
of the law — that includes the PSNI as well as the gardaí.
It would be momentous and I would applaud them if that is
the way they are going,” she said.

“They have to embrace police, they have to. But not on
their terms. They have to embrace them on the terms of any
police force. Do they recognise the gardaí down here in the
south? I don’t know. Do they recognise Special Branch,
which my husband was a member of?”

She says if Sinn Féin backs the PSNI, she, for one, is
willing to draw a line under the past.

“If they unequivocally say yes, we do accept the rule of
law and we do accept the police service in Northern
Ireland, then maybe, hopefully, we will be able to move


MP Calls For An Investigation Into PSNI 'Harassment' In

By Mark McKelvey

West Tyrone MP, Pat Doherty has sent a letter to Police
Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, requesting an urgent meeting to
discuss what he describes as the "ongoing harassment of
young Castlederg nationalists."

This move comes in the aftermath of scathing comments made
by Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, concerning the
behaviour of the PSNI in Castlederg. He is calling on the
Irish and British governments to investigate the arrests,
court appearances and subsequent release of young
nationalist males from the town.

Mr Doherty said, "There is a relentless campaign of
victimisation and harassment being carried out by the PSNI
against the nationalist community in Castlederg. In
particular against young male nationalist youths in the
area. I've requested an investigation into the role of two
named PSNI officers based in Castlederg who the local
nationalist community claim are spearheading this

He continued, "One of these named officers is the same
person who said that he would not rest until every
nationalist youth in the Castlederg area has a criminal

This stance was welcomed by local Sinn Féin councillor,
Charlie McHugh who explained further the situation faced by
nationalists in Castlederg.

"The perception on the ground here is that it is a partisan
police force determined to give nationalist youths a
criminal record," said Cllr McHugh. "There is one lad who
has been before the courts three times and on each occasion
he was cleared of committing any offence."

Cllr McHugh added, "The situation has only got worse.
Obviously there is an agenda at work and a spotlight needs
to be shone at the behaviour of the PSNI in Castlederg.
There needs to be a full enquiry into what is going on


What’s So Special About The Special Branch?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

THE ‘revelation’ that the RUC Special Branch were colluding
with Loyalist death squads in Northern Ireland should
logically pose a threat to the already excruciatingly slow
peace process. Ironically, it seems to be having the
opposite effect.

The report, published earlier this week by police ombudsman
Nuala O’Loan, vindicates claims by both nationalists and
union-ists that elements within the special branch were
colluding in murders carried out by members of the UVF. It
is safe to assume that branch men also colluded with the
Ulster Defence Association, Red Hand Commandos and such
other death squads as suited their purposes. Unfortunately,
Ms O’Loan restricted her investigation only to special
branch involvement with the North Belfast UVF and has said
that she believes no prosecutions will result from her
report. Tellingly, she says that this collusion could not
have happened without the “knowl-edge and support of the
most senior police officers”.

In the ordinary course of events, this would cause a
political storm of extreme proportions. Perversely, among
the main players in the Troubles, only the British
government appears to be taken aback by Ms O’Loan’s
findings. Nationalists and republicans throughout the
conflict have known that the RUC was not some class of
honest broker caught between two warring tribes but was in
fact a player in the problem.

The RUC was set up in 1922 as a nakedly sectarian police
force to enforce “a protestant state for a protestant
people” in the six counties. Generations of nation-alists
have felt the iron fist and wooden truncheon of this
unloved organisation, and its ‘B’ Special Constabulary,
while unionists were able to sleep soundly knowing that
policing and security was in safe hands. And while many
good men have no doubt served in the force over the years,
institutionally it has served to prop up an unjust
political and economic regime that discriminated against a
large minority of its citizens.

Taken against this background, it is refreshing to learn
that Sinn Féin will not be using the O’Loan report as a
stick to beat its political opponents in unionism or as an
excuse to question the merits of the peace process. Rather,
in an act of political maturity, the party is accentuating
the positive, arguing that by embracing the policing issue
republicans can ensure that such a hateful scenario will
never arise again.

They are right. If politics in Northern Ireland is ever to
evolve beyond the simply dysfunctional, it must be built on
a bedrock of policing that enjoys support from both
sections of the community. The O’Loan report is the
beginning of such a firm foundation. And if the special
Sinn Féin ad fheis on Saturday supports the leadership’s
position on policing, the future for Northern politics will
look a lot brighter than it has in many months.


Ex-Informer Defends RUC Against Critics

A FORMER IRA man and high-profile informer has defended the
RUC in the wake of the Police Ombudsman's damning report on
police relations with the Mount Vernon UVF.

Sean O'Callaghan, a former advisor to the Ulster Unionist
Party, told the News Letter yesterday that "horrendous
things happened in Ireland".

Speaking of the Ombudsman's Ballast report he said a child
could see many failings in the system, but warned that the
people investigating had "no idea of the difficulties and
pressures" which informers and their handlers were under.

He added: "I had loads of time for the many decent RUC men
I knew over the years. I shot one of them."

In 1990 he was sentenced to 539 years in prison for crimes
committed as a member of the IRA. Six years later he was
released, having revealed that for most of his time as a
terrorist he had been working as an informer.

Although most of the attention in recent days has been on
misdeeds of loyalist informers working for the police,
recent history shows that there were also many playing
active roles in the republican movement under Government

Kevin Fulton

The former IRA British agent known as Kevin Fulton was
arrested in London by PSNI officers in November but
released without charge.

He had been brought back to Northern Ireland to be
questioned about the murders of Eoin Morley and Ranger
Cyril Smith.

A former soldier, Fulton always classes his role as that of
an undercover soldier. He has been an outspoken critic of
Special Branch and his treatment by the Government.

Martin McGartland

An IRA Intelligence Officer and member of an active service
unit, McGartland would be planning bombings and shootings
of innocent people with the IRA while passing the
operational details to security chiefs as "Agent Carol".

In 1992 he told BBC reporter John Ware he drove the getaway
car in the murder of 21-year-old soldier Tony Harrison in
Belfast in 1999.

During the conviction of a taxi driver for his role in the
murder it was said in court that Special Branch had been
tipped off about the planned murder but had accidentally
warned the wrong soldier.

McGartland told Ware he was the getaway driver and told his
Special Branch handlers about his role. He was never
charged with any offence.

Eamon Collins

Joined the IRA in Newry in the early 1970s but turned his
back on violence as an informer in the late 1980s.

He was charged with the murder of 42-year-old UDR Major
Ivan Toombs in Warrenpoint in 1981 and also that of former
UDR soldier Norman Hanna, Reserve Constable Frederick
Morton, Sean McShane (a Catholic shot by mistake) and
Albert White, a former police reservist.

He was tried and cleared when the judge ruled his
confessions inadmissible. He also admitted on television
that he was the scout for a no-warning IRA bomb which
killed schoolboy Alan McCrum.

Freddie Scappaticci

Joined the IRA in the early 1970s and was alleged to have
become an informer in 1974.

Reported to have been a senior figure in the IRA's internal
security unit, which was responsible for killing an
estimated 63 suspected informers during the Troubles.

In August 2003 he brought a judicial review to get Security
Minister Jane Kennedy to confirm he had not been a British
Agent, but failed.

Denis Donaldson

Publicly admitted being a British agent for 20 years at the
heart of Sinn Fein during the crucial years when the
republican movement began the slowly shift away from an
armed campaign.

He became a trusted and respected senior Sinn Fein figure,
close to both party president Gerry Adams and chief
negotiator Martin McGuinness. He was found shot dead in a
Donegal cottage in April last year.

25 January 2007


Adams Offers To Meet Dissidents

George Jackson
Fri, Jan 26, 2007

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said last night that
disaffected and dissident republican groups did not have
community support for their opposition to his party's
policy on policing in Northern Ireland.

Speaking in Derry's Millennium Forum, the last public
meeting organised by Sinn Féin before Sunday's ardfheis at
which the party will probably decide to take an
unprecedented step for Irish republicanism and recognise
policing in the North, Mr Adams repeated his offer to meet
his republican opponents to discuss the issue.

"The groups who are not in a cessation, I have asked to
meet with them on their terms. If they have confidence in
their position, they can come and argue their position with
me. You can only have unity on the basis of broad
agreement," he said.

"I think that part of the maturity that is part of this
debate is that we can agree to disagree and we can agree
about our ultimate and primary objective," he added.

Referring to the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Republican
Sinn Féin and the IRSP, Mr Adams was loudly applauded when
he added, "By the way, in my opinion there is only one real

There were dissenting voices at last night's meeting, which
was attended by about 1,500 people. One man asked did the
Sinn Féin leadership really believe if the youth of Derry
would support the PSNI. A woman said the Sinn Féin
leadership should concentrate on making sure the party did
not break "into bits and pieces".

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin's policing and justice spokesman,
told the audience that now was the time for republicans to
become involved in policing.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Palestinian Envoy Praises SF On Policing

Deaglán de Bréadún, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Fri, Jan 26, 2007

The Palestinian delegate-general to Ireland has given his
support to Sinn Féin's new approach to policing.

In a statement issued in advance of the party's special
ardfheis on Sunday, Dr Hikmat Ajjuri said: "Peacemaking
will never materialize unless it is accompanied by
peacekeeping measures."

He praised the Sinn Féin leadership, which had "tirelessly
worked to bring a happy conclusion to the conflict in
Northern Ireland".

He also found it "morally necessary" to urge the other
parties not to miss this "golden opportunity".

© 2007 The Irish Times


British Policing Is Not An Alternative - Mackey

THE Omagh based Chairman of the 32 County Sovereignty
Committee, Francis Mackey, has said that the recent police
Ombudsman's report in to RUC collusion in many murders by
loyalist paramilitaries came as no surprise.

"First and foremost the extent of this collusion points to
the inescapable fact that it was deliberate British
government policy in Ireland. It was not simply the work of
rogue officers, or inadequate accountability mechanisms, or
the absence of token nationalism within its structures",
said Mr Mackey

He went on to say that all aspects of British policing in
Ireland will remain political and that endorsing the same
is deeply flawed.

"There now exists a grave onus on the leadership of that
political opinion (mainstream Irish republicanism) to
clearly explain what obligations it had to honour with the
British authorities on policing due to the constitutional
constraints of the Good Friday Agreement.?"

He asked, "Will this leadership explain openly to its
supporters what impact the blatantly choreographed dropping
of Annex E from the St Andrews Agreement was meant to have
on their opinion of British policing in Ireland? Will it
further outline what influence, if any, a regional British
Policing Board can exert over the now conceded right of the
British government to direct the activities of its security
services in defence of its national borders?"

He continued, "The Emergency Ard Fheis called to secure
support for the Sinn Fein leadership's position on British
policing in Ireland has grievous implications for Irish
republicanism. The fact that the motion is before the Ard
Fheis is in contravention of the expressed will of the
previous Ard Fheis, as outlined in motion 395, underscores
the absence of any democratic basis for the present
predicament. That motion (395) was put to the Ard Fheis by
the very same Ard Chomhairle now presenting the policing
motion compounds the matter and begs the question; why
flout its own motion and the democratic support for it?"

Mr Mackey continued, "The issue of policing cannot be
detached from the constitutional question unless that
question is recognised as resolved. The British government
recognises it as resolved as does Dublin. By default the
proposals put forward in the St Andrews Agreement are
proposals based on the recognition of partition being no
longer a contested issue and are thus designed to police
and normalise the present constitutional status quo. The
Emergency Ard Fheis is not in session to express an Irish
political will but to endorse a British political will in
Ireland. I urge you to reject this will."

He concluded, "Much has been made of the supposed absence
of alternative strategies on this issue and the broader
issue of reunification. In truth the requests for
alternatives are made in the earnest hope that none
actually exist and that the present course represents the
only option available. Political alternatives are developed
by a political will to develop them and the absence of
imposed constitutional constraints to pursue them."


SF Rejects Plans To Compensate UDR Families

[Published: Thursday 25, January 2007 - 15:31]

Sinn Fein has rejected today's report of the interim
Victims' Commissioner which recommends a multi-million fund
for the bereaved families of Ulster Defence Regiment

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain's, appointment
of the Commissioner, Bertha McDougall, was successfully
challenged in the high court which ruled it was improper
and politically-motivated.

Party spokesman Mitchel McLaughlin said all communities in
Northern Ireland had suffered during the conflict including
the victims of UDR killings and there should be no
hierarchy of suffering.

© Belfast Telegraph


Fall In Political Emblems On NI Streets

Thu, Jan 25, 2007

The number of political emblems on Northern Ireland's
streets almost halved last year following the summer
marching season.

Symbols such as paramilitary murals and flags fell by 40
per cent with all Orange Arches and the majority of Orange
flags and bannerettes removed.

There was an increase in the proportion of republican
emblems because of the 25th anniversary of the 1981 hunger

Researchers from Queen's University Belfast found 2,499
political emblems in September last year including 18
republican flags and loyalist murals.

The figures were revealed in a report published by the
Office of the First and Deputy First Minister's office.

They counted numbers in June and July and in September.

Another paper noted a rise in the number of attacks on
churches in 2005 to 83, up from 32 in 2004.

There were also more Orange Halls and schools targeted by
sectarian arsonists as well as GAA premises.

© 2007


Woman On Hunger Strike Over Northern Bank Claims

By Caroline O’Doherty
26 January 2007

AN Irish woman caught up in money laundering investigations
following the Northern Bank raid began a hunger strike
yesterday and is pleading with the Taoiseach and Garda
Commissioner to clear her name.

Kathryn Nelson, who worked as a diplomatic liaison officer
in Bulgaria and other countries, says her reputation was
ruined after she was arrested by detectives, and, as a
result, she lost all her work, used her savings and is now

She has vowed to refuse food until she receives a public
statement from the Government or gardaí that she is not a
suspect in the ongoing investigations.

Ms Nelson, 57, who is living in the Isle of Man, met former
Government adviser Phil Flynn and Cork financier Ted
Cunningham on an investment trip to Bulgaria in January
2005, a month after the stg£26.5 million (€39 million)
raid, which was blamed on the IRA.

That trip gave rise to statements by Justice Minister
Michael McDowell that the IRA was attempting to use
connections in Bulgaria to launder some of the stolen money
and that the organisation was even trying to buy a bank

In an interview with the Irish Examiner at her rented
apartment in the Isle of Man, Ms Nelson confirmed that the
idea of taking over a bank was considered — at her
suggestion — but she said it was with the intention of
getting a foothold in on the fledgling mortgage business in

She said the Bulgaria trip was originally scheduled for
early December 2004 — before the bank robbery took place —
and she denied any criminal activity or any knowledge of
criminal activity. “I was never an IRA sympathiser,” she

Despite numerous arrests at the outset of the
investigation, no one has been charged with money
laundering offences. A file on the investigation was sent
to the Director of Public Prosecutions late last year, but
no decision on charges is expected until late this year at
the earliest.

Ms Nelson said she was told informally by gardaí that she
will not be charged, but she said this reassurance meant
nothing if it was not made public in a formal statement.

“I can’t wait any longer. I have no money and no future.
It’s two years since all this started and nothing has
happened except that I am suffering. I would prefer to be
dead than the way I am now.”


Unionists Block Calls For Collusion Report Debate

REPUBLICANS and nationalists were last night accused of
creating community and political instability by using the
McCord report to sully the name of the RUC, Special Branch
and the unionist people.

The DUP and Ulster Unionists warned Sinn Fein and the SDLP
that there was a developing anger, especially among former
members of the police, Protestant victims but unionism in

The tensions were manifested yesterday in a DUP-UUP
decision to block a nationalist attempt to debate the
collusion findings in the Assembly next week.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP were furious.

They accused unionism of running away from the truth.

But Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey said: "We
were not having it because it would have just turned into
an orgy of attacks (on the RUC, British State etc), in the
last debate before the elections are called and would have
been counter-productive."

SDLP MLA John Dallat argued: "The unionist parties have
failed the first test of operating a democratic parliament
by using their numbers to block a matter of immense and
immediate concern.

"Unionists have always turned the blind eye to collusion
which not just killed Catholics, but their Protestant
constituents as well."

He was speaking as unionism hit back in the McCord report

DUP MP for East Antrim, Sammy Wilson, said a "left wing and
nationalist" agenda was using many unsubstantiated claims
by the Police Ombudsman to fuel a vendetta against the old
RUC and Special Branch.

And Sir Reg Empey said: "While things happened within
Special Branch which were clearly indefensible, what is
upsetting and angering people is this campaign being run by
republicans to try to justify their war and re-write

"We have had a tremendous reaction, from serving officers,
ex-officers, victims, all with different perspectives on
this (the McCord report).

"But the overwhelming feeling is of anger and hurt, from
people who do not have friends in the media or the money to
pay for solicitors to highlight their own cases and
concerns about republican collusion and the murders of
their loved ones by the IRA.

"There is a growing concern that there is a lack of
equality and fairness."

"As (Victims' Commissioner) Bertha McDougall's report is
published, I have raised this with Peter Hain. We need to
find a way to deal with the past, openly and fairly.

"There is a feeling in the unionist community that the
current approach is seriously imbalanced."

Listening to people like Martin McGuinness calling for the
head of Sir Ronnie Flanagan on the back of the O'Loan
findings, was galling to many, the UUP MLA noted.

"If anyone knows about collusion, sabotage and
conspiracies, it is him and the republican movement," he

Sammy Wilson said: "The McCord case is being used by an
orchestrated left wing and nationalist press.

"Nuala O'Loan's report into the killing of Raymond McCord
is more to do with the nationalist vendetta against Special
Branch – and in particular those officers who defied
nationalist objections to the work of the Branch – than it
was to do with the Raymond McCord case."

He continued: "It is significant that only one of the many
allegations that Mr McCord made were found to have any

"However, it is clear that the report was used to focus
attention on those who directed the work of Special Branch,
a section of policing that nationalists, and it would seem
the Police Ombudsman, have a particular dislike for.

"Whilst every decision made by Special Branch regarding the
use of particular informants and the tolerance of some of
the actions of those informants may with hindsight not have
been the best decisions, nevertheless it must be remembered
– and even Mrs O'Loan admits this – that those informants
saved many lives and led to the capture of many terrorists,
including the main informants in the Mount Vernon UVF."

Mr Wilson concluded: "One other theme now emerging is that
the Police Ombudsman and her SDLP allies are trying to use
this report, whose publication was timed to help their
argument for oversight powers over MI5, to help their own
goals. The Government must resist."

25 January 2007


Opin: Adams And Symbolism Of Clonard

Fri, Jan 26, 2007

These are still early days in coming to grips with the
proposition that the UVF was boosted because some policemen
thwarted murder investigations by their own colleagues for
more than 10 years, apparently to protect a single
informant; a serial killer and drug-dealer, writes
Fionnuala O Connor.

How those immediately involved could have justified
themselves and why their superiors would have given them
free rein are only the simplest questions raised. In the
week leading up to the ardfheis meant to decide Sinn Féin's
official attitude to policing - last of the last hurdles -
revelations about special branch collusion with north
Belfast loyalists clanged like a great brass bell.

Drama in northern politics waned long ago, numbed by the
slow progress towards settled politics. Some set-pieces are
almost sepia-tinged in the memory, passage of time
emphasised by departures.

One striking picture included the late David Ervine, for
example, among the group of former loyalist paramilitaries
who walked into negotiations with former Ulster Unionist
leader David Trimble, to help Ulster Unionism refute the
tag of "sellouts".

A couple of scenes this week reflected some of those recent
bygones and a measure of the strengths and weaknesses of
various players.

There was characteristic republican brass neck, plus a
resoluteness sometimes absent in recent years, in the
response to the report from Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

While unionist political reaction for the most part seemed
muffled, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness pressed onwards.
On air, and in the meetings organised ostensibly to debate
policing but geared to steady supporters, leading Sinn Féin
figures argued that the O'Loan revelations proved
republicans should be inside the police to ward off
collusion. Mostly, they have been heard attentively.
Counter-arguments have made no headway. Faces in the crowds
have looked wary above all.

The leaders join A to B with gossamer threads of rhetoric,
but it takes unassailable personal testimony to protect
their argument. When respected veteran Peter John Caraher
gestured towards the platform party in Newry and wound up
his contribution by saying he was looking forward to seeing
them all in the police, "to make a different police force
we can all be proud of", his own giddy-sounding giggle drew
others in response before a wave of applause.

The mood of the meeting clearly was that the Caraher family
had paid their dues: one son shot dead by soldiers, a
second badly injured in the same disputed incident, then
nine years later jailed for the attempted murder of an RUC
officer. Mr Caraher told them he hated the RUC, so he was
entitled to say it was time to join the rebranded service.

As people left, another elderly man confided that he saw
the logic of the argument, but "you're dealing with very
devious people here. I thought myself another couple of
Canary Wharfs might do the trick". He whispered it,
grinning at his own audacity. Initially defensive, angry
unionist insistence that the findings of the ombudsman's
report must not smear the entire record of the RUC became
something else after Ms O'Loan met the supervisory policing
board. Very difficult now not to take the report as
credible, said Ulster Unionist representative Fred Cobain.
Perhaps not that credible, said the DUP's Ian Paisley jnr,
but "if there are problems, let's put them right".

The DUP may have to woo their voters, soon, into a new
policing situation. Rev Ian Paisley has his pulpit: Gerry
Adams on Wednesday had Clonard Monastery. Innocent
Protestant citizens, seeing Clonard listed as a venue,
might have supposed the main republican meeting scheduled
for Belfast would take place in a hall in the monastery.

But no, as locals would never have doubted. The rooms where
Mr Adams, John Hume and many others met over years to
prepare the way for ceasefires and negotiations are all too
small. The overflowing crowd on Wednesday filed into the
pews of Clonard's great gilt-filled church, home of the
annual novena.

A table covered in a white cloth for the Sinn Féin speakers
sat on the huge sunburst of an altar, a speaking point

From the back of the church, first glance suggested Mr
Adams was indeed in the pulpit, open-necked white shirt his
concession to secular political imagery, dark jacket
matching the rest of the platform party. No shirtsleeves as
in Newry for Clonard.

The Sinn Féin leader milked every facet of the monastery's
reputation, and remembered to omit Mr Hume when listing
those associated with the place who "deserve great credit
for the peace process".

More vocal critics in recent times may have a reputation as
ultra-orthodox Catholic, but the ranks of dissent are
scattered and incoherent. Mr Adams this week had the stage
in Clonard, and a large section of his people - or so
appearances tempt the onlooker to believe - in the palm of
his hand.

© 2007 The Irish Times


McDowell Rules Out Joining Rainbow Coalition

Thu, Jan 25, 2007

Tánaiste and Progressive Democrat leader Michael McDowell
tonight firmly ruled out joining Fine Gael, Labour and the
Greens in a rainbow coalition after the next election.

Mr McDowell said a four-sided coalition would be a
monumental cheat on the electorate and a recipe for
political disintegration.

"We will campaign against the creation of such an unstable
and incoherent government," the Tánaiste said.

"We will not join or support such a government because we
believe that a second election would be preferable to the
establishment of a non-viable Rainbow Government which flew
in the face of the mandates sought by the parties in it.

"The Progressive Democrats will not be joining a FG/Labour-
led coalition, or a FG/Labour/Green-led coalition."

Mr McDowell said it would destroy the very reason for the
PDs' existence. But he said his party would consider siding
with either Fine Gael or current government partners Fianna

In an address to party faithful in south Dublin, Mr
McDowell insisted a pact could only be made with a party of
similar ideologies and warned he would head for the back
benches rather than take up office just for the sake of it.

"The Progressive Democrats will contest the next election
as an independent party that remains prepared to govern
with either of the parties with which it is ideologically
compatible," he said.

Unsurprisingly he also rejected any possibility of a link-
up with Sinn Féin. "For the purposes of completeness, I
want to re-iterate tonight what I have clearly stated on
many previous occasions. The Progressive Democrats will not
support or participate in a government which is dependent
on the support of Sinn Féin deputies."

Mr McDowell said over the last few weeks, as Labour leader
Pat Rabbitte continued to face searching questions on his
post-election tactics, there was growing evidence the
Rainbow alternative is a failed political enterprise.

He said the Labour/Fine Gael Mullingar Accord, with or
without the inclusion of the Greens, did not have the
support of voters.

Mr McDowell said even with the inherent differences the
three had on economic outlook they were also hugely split
over neutrality, immigration and taxation. But he accepted
a Labour/Fianna Fáil coalition was a real possibility and
called on Mr Rabbitte to set out his stall.

"The attention of the people is increasingly concentrated
on a far more likely scenario - namely, whether the next
Government will be a coalition between the Progressive
Democrats and Fianna Fail or a coalition between the Labour
Party and Fianna Fail," he claimed.

"Understandably in that context there is an appetite for
clarity from party leaders."

© 2007

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