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January 05, 2007

Hai Optimistic Over NI Impasse

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 01/05/07 Hain Optimistic Over NI Impasse
BN 01/05/07 Adams Urges Republicans Not To Lose Nerve
BT 01/05/07 Sinn Fein Plans Crucial Meeting Over Policing
DJ 01/05/07 If Paisley Agrees with Blair-That's Progress
BT 01/05/07 Paisley, Adams Face Test Of Nerve On Policing
BT 01/05/07 Assembly Meets Hain Over Minister Controversy
NW 01/05/07 Mc Guinness Is The Man In The Middle
BT 01/05/07 The Unthinkable Is Now Within Reach For Us All
BT 01/05/07 Did Blair's Move Halt Devolution Meltdown?
GU 01/05/07 Power-Share For Ulster Hit By New Crisis
IT 01/05/07 McCabe Backs Fallon Death Inquiry
BB 01/05/07 Political Snub At Ambush Memorial
BT 01/05/07 MPs' Double Trouble
BT 01/05/07 Opin: Honesty And Transparency Required


Hain Optimistic Over NI Impasse

Peter Hain is confident the impasse can be overcome

Peter Hain on Today

Northern Ireland's political impasse can be overcome if
Sinn Fein delivers on policing, Peter Hain has said.

On Thursday, Tony Blair warned the DUP and Sinn Fein that
commitments on policing and power-sharing must be honoured
for an election to happen.

Senior Sinn Fein members will meet next week to discuss
whether to move forward with a special conference on

Mr Hain said there was "every prospect" that the devolution
of policing would be on track by May 2008.

"The big picture is that for the very first time in
Northern Ireland's tangled history everybody is saying they
agree to share power with each other," he told BBC Radio

"The DUP are saying they are willing to share power with
Sinn Fein, Ian Paisley says he is willing to accept the
first minister nomination on 26 March with Martin
McGuinness as the deputy first minister.

"For the very first time, Sinn Fein are saying... they are
willing to support the police.

"Equally, what Sinn Fein want to be clear about is that the
DUP actually will share power with them in practice and not
be diverted by some of the off-stage noises we have heard
over recent days.

"There is every prospect that we can get through this and
move forward and see the devolution of policing on track by
May 2008... provided that there is the delivery by Sinn
Fein of the practical co-operation with policing in every

DUP leader Ian Paisley has said his party is willing to
make progress but that "upfront delivery is required from
Sinn Fein" on policing.

However, DUP MEP Jim Allister said on Friday he could not
foresee a time when policing and justice could be devolved
to an Assembly.

"I don't discern any appetite within the unionist community
for letting Martin McGuinness or any of this generation of
tainted Sinn Fein politicians get their hands on those
levers of power," he said.

Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein said: "We are very clear about
what is required, we are very clear about the steps that we
have taken."

He added: "The ard comhairle took a very significant
decision for republicans some days ago and we set out in
very clear and unequivocal terms what we were prepared to
do and the timescale that was prepared to happen in."

Sinn Fein's leadership voted last month to hold a
conference on the issue of whether to support policing.

But the party signalled on Wednesday this was in doubt
because the move had not received a "positive enough"
response from DUP leader Ian Paisley.

This was enough to make Mr Blair return early from his
holiday in Florida for emergency talks.

If Sinn Fein's conference does not go ahead, the March
assembly election may be in doubt.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/05 09:19:08 GMT


Adams Urges Republicans Not To Lose Nerve Over Policing

05/01/2007 - 07:38:02

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is urging republicans not
to lose their nerve over his call for them to endorse the

Several leading IRA members have reportedly left the
organisation due to Sinn Féin's moves to end its opposition
to the police force.

Two of the party's MLAs have also resigned citing
differences over policing.

Mr Adams said last night that he understood their
reservations about policing, but he said the issue would be
fully debated within republicanism before any change in
policy is agreed.

Meanwhile, differences are continuing to emerge within the
DUP over the policing issue and the matter of sharing power
with Sinn Féin.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said yesterday that the 2008
target for the devolution of policing and justice powers to
Stormont had not been agreed by his party and would not be
in the future.

Earlier, DUP leader Ian Paisley had asked that nobody in
the party say anything to give Sinn Féin an excuse to walk
away from its moves to endorse policing.


Sinn Fein Plans Crucial Meeting Over Policing

[Published: Friday 5, January 2007 - 09:00]
By Chris Thornton

Senior Sinn Fein members are to hold a meeting next week to
review their efforts to secure devolution and resolve the
policing issue, Gerry Adams said last night.

Mr Adams said the party wants to assess the state of the
political process after DUP leader Ian Paisley warned there
would be no weakening of his party's demand that Sinn Fein
moves first by endorsing the PSNI.

The West Belfast MP also held out the possibility that he
would have to go back to his party's executive for its
view. Mr Adams said: "The ard chomhairle (national
executive) will obviously have to judge whether or not the
DUP's response today amounts to a positive acceptance of
what Mr Blair has said.

"Let the dust settle on this.

"However, the officer board of our party will meet next
Tuesday to look at all of this."

Sinn Fein had pencilled in a special conference on policing
this month after Mr Adams secured the backing of his
national executive last Friday.

But the party tied that to a positive response to the move
from the British and Irish Governments and also the
Democratic Unionists.

DUP MEP Jim Allister warned that Tony Blair's intervention
yesterday was an attempt to manoeuvre the party into a
position which conflicted with its policy.

"Tony Blair's statement today seeks to jockey the DUP into
a position in conflict with the declared policy of its
central executive, namely that in advance of any start to
inclusive devolution, there must be testing and proving of
Sinn Fein's support for the rule of law and policing over a
credible period," he said.

"Blair now tries to make this the test for devolution of
policing and justice when he erroneously says 'It is
delivery on those commitments that creates the conditions
for devolution of policing and justice to take place. When
there is delivery, there will be devolution'.

"Wrong, Mr Blair. Our testing of Sinn Fein is a
prerequisite to any devolution - not just devolution of
policing and justice, which is patently in the far distant
future. Thus applying the test of party policy, Blair's
contention must be rejected.

"As I see it, we have no room for manoeuvre on this
prerequisite of full testing of any verbal commitments over
a credible period before devolution of any inclusive form
could be contemplated."

Mr Allister added the Prime Minister was mistaken if he
believed he could bounce the DUP into government by March
26 and also into the creation of a Policing and Justice
Department at Stormont by May.

© Belfast Telegraph


If Paisley Agrees With Blair - That's Progress - McGuinness

SENIOR SINN Fein members are to meet in the next few days
to review their efforts to secure devolution and resolve
the policing impasse.

After DUP leader Ian Paisley yesterday warned there would
be no weakening of his party's position that Sinn Fein must
move first to endorse the PSNI, Martin McGuinness said his
party and others needed time to assess the state of the

Sinn Fein had been expected to hold a special Ard Fheis on
policing this month after the party leadership secured the
backing of its Ard Comhairle last Friday. The party tied
this to a positive response to the move from the British
and Irish governments as well as the DUP.

However, British PM Tony Blair was forced to cut short his
Christmas holiday in the USA to fly back to London after
Sinn Fein hinted that the conference may not go ahead,
blaming the DUP for not responding positively.

After Mr. Blair yesterday threatened to pull the plug on
plans for an Assembly election in March, Dr. Paisley issued
an uncompromising statement insisting Sinn Fein needed to
act now.

"If we are to see further political developments, then it
must be in the context of full and final delivery from
republicans," he said. "On this there will be no
weakening." Sinn Fein, he said, had to match "their words
with deeds."

Tough language

Despite the tough language, British government officials
drew comfort from another part of the statement in which
Dr. Paisley said he welcomed Mr. Blair's assessment of what
needed to be done on policing.

Martin McGuinness was also remaining upbeat last night,
insisting: "If Ian Paisley's welcome for the British prime
minister's assessment means that he agrees with Mr. Blair,
then that's progress."

He added that his party's clear commitment to move forward
on policing needed to be matched by similar clarity from
the DUP.

He said: "Republicans want to see a new beginning to
policing. We want to move forward. We want our special Ard
Fheis to go ahead. But this cannot be a one way street. The
DUP also have commitments and responsibilities."

See inside for further coverage of the policing debate.

05 January 2007


Paisley, Adams Face Test Of Nerve On Policing

[Published: Friday 5, January 2007 - 10:39]
By Chris Thornton

Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams were each fighting today to
hold the nerves of their parties in the aftermath of Tony
Blair's direct intervention into stuttering negotiations.

After Mr Blair threatened to call off next March's Assembly
election - putting the prospects for devolution into deep
freeze - Mr Adams has called Sinn Fein's leadership team to
a key strategy meeting next week.

And the DUP has called on its members to watch their words
while the Government grapples with the hurdle of policing.

Mr Blair wants Sinn Fein to go ahead with a key party
conference on support for the PSNI later this month - and
he wants the DUP to give an undertaking that they will
agree to the transfer of justice powers to the Assembly
next year.

The Government says Mr Blair's intervention will be
successful, but neither Sinn Fein nor the DUP has so far
changed their public position.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson indicated that his party doesn't
want to give Sinn Fein an excuse to withdraw from support
for policing.

"As Dr Paisley said in his New Year's message, 'Let no
words discourage them'," he said. "It is imperative that no
unionist representative assists Sinn Fein in avoiding the
need for it to fulfil all of its obligations."

But DUP MEP Jim Allister repeated today that the policing
powers Sinn Fein wants in 2008 are still "some considerable
distance down the road".

While Mr Adams looks for a way around the DUP veto on
justice powers, he faced news that another Sinn Fein MLA is
quitting. It means a quarter of his current Assembly party
won't be back on the ballot if the election goes ahead in

The party said Fermanagh/ South Tyrone MLA Tom Reilly's
decision has nothing to do with policing.

The party previously claimed that MLA Geraldine Dougan was
withdrawing for " purely personal" reasons. She later
revealed she would resign from the party if it backs
policing. At present, three Sinn Fein MLAs were stood down
and two were de-selected.

© Belfast Telegraph


Assembly To Meet Hain Over Justice Minister Controversy

[Published: Friday 5, January 2007 - 10:45]
By Chris Thornton

Peter Hain could sit down with Assembly members next week
to explain his controversial plans for appointing a Justice

Last week the Secretary of State sent a paper to Stormont's
policing and justice sub-committee setting out a model for
selecting a Justice Minister if the Assembly returns later
this year.

The minister and a Deputy Justice Minister would take
charge of policing issues if they are devolved next year -
a key Sinn Fein demand.

In his paper, Mr Hain said he was prepared to "take any
necessary steps to ensure that the timescale for devolution
was not delayed - including appointing a justice minister
if the Assembly couldn't elect one."

Unionists said he was giving himself the option of imposing
a minister over their objections - something DUP deputy
leader Peter Robinson said would be the "death knell of

But Sinn Fein said the paper fits their own proposals.

Government sources insisted Mr Hain would only appoint if
the Assembly asked him to - something that is not specified
in the paper. And the sources said Mr Hain was only making
proposals - even though he told MLAs in an accompanying
letter that he would legislate on his plan if they can't

At a meeting yesterday, the justice and policing sub-
committee decided to invite Mr Hain to meet them.

"In agreeing to invite the Secretary of State to attend the
committee, the committee is absolutely right," said SDLP
policing spokesman Alex Attwood.

"Given the political fall out from the Secretary of State's
paper, he should be given the opportunity to explain his
proposals, with whom these proposals were negotiated, and
for the Secretary of State to confirm which party or
parties gave him their backing.

"The only party that finds the proposals interesting is
Sinn Fein, even though they have risks and problems."

The committee hope to see Mr Hain next week.

A spokesman for the NIO said Mr Hain had already agreed in
principle that he will meet with any Assembly committees
that want to see him, although he had not received the sub-
committee's invitation and might need to juggle his diary.

© Belfast Telegraph


Mc Guinness Is The Man In The Middle

By Aileen Murphy

Over to you, Ian' the message is very clear from Sinn
Fein's deputy leader, Martin McGuinness in the run up to
the crucial 24 November deadline.

Speaking to the 'Herald' Mr McGuinness describes a
scenario, if the deadline is met, which could see him
acting as Deputy First Minister, sharing power with either
the larger than life Ian Paisley, or Peter Robinson.

In his no-nonsense Derry brogue Mr McGuinness doesn't shy
away from the obvious: "I'm not going to pretend me and Ian
Paisley are the best of friends, but I am prepared to work
with him in a constructive manner to ensure the
difficulties of recent times don't reoccur." If the
devolution is successfully restored all MLA's would be
faced with making uncomfortable political decisions which
will have an enormous effect on daily lives in Northern
Ireland - such as water rates, domestic rates hikes, and
rural planning. "Difficult decisions," Mr McGuinness
admits, "but certainly ones which would be better dealt
with by local ministers. In fairness, even Peter Hain has
admitted that."

Dealing with these thorny topics is something Mr McGuinness
is champing at the bit to get his hands on, "In particular,
as a former Minister of Education I'd like nothing more
than to be back working with the educational institutions
to help secure a bright new future for our young people."

This situation of a fully-functioning devolved assembly is
of course, at the minute, still a long way off.

However, Mr McGuinness admits he is 'an optimist' and won't
admit failure until the days, hours and minutes have all
ticked away. Even then, he is adamant the blame for failing
to meet the Secretary of State's deadline will not lie at
Sinn Fein's door: "The deadline and all of the negotiations
up to this have to be seen in the context of the framework
set by the two governments, and this will see the two
institutions - power sharing government, and the all-
Ireland bodies, restored by that date.

"Sinn Féin fully support this and we will put no obstacles
in the way of achieving this. The focus must be on the DUP
and what type of leadership they are going to give, and if
they are going to say 'yes' to the governments and co-
operate with the rest of us."

The next stage in the crucial talks will see Mr McGuinness
and his party colleagues on a plane bound for Scotland
where the final points of deal or no deal will be thrashed
out between all the MLA's.

He explains: "Scotland is very important, it does present
an opportunity for the DUP to effectively work in the
spirit of collaboration to achieve the breakthrough I think
the majority of people here, including unionists, want to
see. They want to see local ministers taking these

"Yes, I'm optimistic agreement can be reached. Look at the
last 10 to 12 years and the transformation which has taken
place in the political and security situation here - and
people really appreciate that, it has allowed them to get
on with their lives."

Without hesitation Mr McGuinness is adamant his party is
answering the call: "Republican's have faced many
challenges in recent years, none more so than last April
when the IRA declared their campaign was over. That was a
momentous event - Republicans have delivered big time."

For Sinn Fein there really is only one more hurdle, and on
this point Mr McGuinness was forthright on the policing
issue: "The key to unlocking that particular door is
through power sharing. Once we have devolution of power we
can begin to look at this. The governments have accepted
this can only be resolved if the institutions are

When asked directly would Sinn Fein members soon be taking
their seats on the policing board, he responded: "That
issue would be taken to our National Executive, and then
before a special Ard Fheis, when delegates from all over
Ireland would be asked to vote on the issue."

As the moment draws nearer their is no doubting where the
Derry MP's focus lies. His eyes are firmly set on crossing
the finishing line on the 24 November: "I am optimistic of
meeting that date, it is a big challenge, but Sinn Féin
will not put any obstacles in the way of restoring
devolution. The big question, and this is the big one - is
wether or not Ian Paisley will agree to power sharing or

And on that sixty-four thousand dollar question, even
Martin McGuinness didn't dare to voice an opinion.


What Was Once Unthinkable Is Now Within Reach For Us All

[Published: Friday 5, January 2007 - 10:42]
By Brian Rowan

Sinn Fein is faced with widespread dissension within its
ranks but, as security writer Brian Rowan argues, it is not
the most pressing problem for Gerry Adams at the moment

A week ago inside the room everybody knew how everyone else

It's the way it's done.

This was the behind closed doors of the Sinn Fein ard
chomhairle (executive) in Dublin - the meeting that agreed
there would be a party conference and vote on policing
later this month, but only if the British and Irish
Governments and the DUP responded positively.

Gerry Adams needed two-thirds backing to take this issue of
support for the police to a special ard fheis, and, I'm
told, he got closer to three-thirds.

But in seven days, things moved from that breakthrough to
not quite breakdown.

The talk was that the ard fheis might not go ahead.

Yesterday - on the day of Tony Blair's intervention - the
Sinn Fein president said he did not expect the DUP "to eat

Nor will he allow the republican face to be rubbed in the

Whatever the power sharing-policing standoff is over, it's
not about dissension within republicanism.

Yes, there have been some resignations, and there may be
more. Yes, there has been some criticism from the usual
republican voices.

But is there a split or anything close to a split? No there
is not.

That's a security, not a republican, assessment, as the
Adams-McGuinness-Kelly leadership take their movement and
their community ever closer to involvement in policing.

"There are deep-seated objections," a senior security
source confirmed, "but have the senior figures been
successful in preventing that from getting out of hand? Yes
they have," he continued.

The source said those senior figures have been "testing the
ground from October" and are "still in control".

"There are people who are going to walk," the source
continued, " but it doesn't mean they are walking

That vote at that ard chomhairle meeting is the accurate
measure of how Adams stands within republicanism on the
policing question and the direction he's moving in.

That's not to ignore the resignations or threatened
resignations. It's not to dismiss the written words of the
republican veterans John Kelly and Brendan Hughes. But none
of this should be over-read.

If Brendan McFarlane or Bobby Storey or Brian Keenan were
objecting there would be a problem. But they're not. Nor
has the IRA leadership raised a voice.

Is the mainstream movement staying intact?

Yes it is.

Tony Blair attempted to get the spanner out of the works
yesterday by offering his understanding of the DUP and Sinn
Fein positions on those issues of power sharing and

Adams wants to be sure that if he takes republicans along a
policing path that local politicians will be given
responsibility for policing and justice matters.

The Prime Minister believes that will be possible by May
2008, but the DUP emphasis is not on dates but what it
calls "delivery" – actions confirming Sinn Fein words of
support for the police.

So, will the Sinn Fein ard fheis proceed as planned later
this month?

That's something for Gerry Adams to decide.

I think it has to. It must. It should. I think it could
change everything - language, tone, responses and the
political mood.

Change all of that with the people who really matter - and
isolate those who in their constant criticism have clearly
missed the significance of what is happening, those who
can't or won't recognise the historic potential in what is

Brendan Duddy - a Derry businessman and an independent
member of the Policing Board - doesn't need a map to see
where all of this is going.

For more than two decades during the worst times of The
Troubles - when there was no hope and no potential - he was
talking secretly to the British Government and the
Republican leadership; talking and trying to change things.

Now things have changed, and writing exclusively elsewhere
in this newspaper, Duddy argues that this is a moment that
must not be lost.

Gerry Adams hasn't yet told us if the ard fheis will take
place later this month, but if it does the date there is
some speculation about is January 27.

To quote one source, Adams "will have his eye on the
integrity of the movement".

Now, it's back to the stuff of eating crow or having your
face rubbed in the dirt. It doesn't work.

There's a sense in Downing Street that the Prime Minister's
intervention has helped. "It's not home and dry," a source
commented, "but we've got people focused again on the big

The big picture is: the war's over, republicans are moving
towards involvement in policing, and the unthinkable of a
few years ago might yet be achieved.

A way out has to be found. There's too much to lose.

© Belfast Telegraph


Did Blair's Move Halt Devolution Meltdown?

[Published: Friday 5, January 2007 - 08:56]
By Chris Thornton

The Government declared that Prime Minister Tony Blair had
succeeded in his efforts to stop a meltdown of the St
Andrews Agreement - even though Sinn Fein and the DUP said
they are still waiting to see what the other side will do.

Mr Blair flew back early from his Christmas holiday in
Miami yesterday when a row over the timetable for policing
threatened to derail the political process.

Sinn Fein indicated it may not hold its special party
conference on policing because the DUP had not responded
positively enough to their plans.

Mr Blair stepped in and warned he would pull the plug on
the March Assembly election if Sinn Fein did not go ahead
with the meeting.

But he also said the DUP has to accept that justice powers
should be transferred from London to Belfast next year if
Sinn Fein signs up to policing.

Sinn Fein has made it clear it will not sign up to policing
without a firm date for the devolution of justice powers.

And the DUP indicated late last year that it could not see
that transfer happening for "a political lifetime".

Yesterday, the Prime Minister said Sinn Fein needs to hold
its meeting and then show "real and tangible evidence" of
support for the rule of law. He said it needs to commit
"now and fully to support the PSNI and the criminal justice

For its part, the DUP should "undertake it will do nothing
to delay or obstruct devolution of policing and justice" in
May 2008.

"It is only on this basis and with this clarity that we can
proceed to an election," Mr Blair said.

"I am confident that both parties want to see progress and
will honour their commitments.

"But there is no point in proceeding unless there is such

Sinn Fein said Mr Blair's position reflected its own.

DUP leader Ian Paisley said he welcomed Mr Blair's
statement but did not give a specific undertaking about May

"There can be no movement unless we have clarity on the
need for everyone to support the rule of law," he said.

"If we are to see further political developments, then it
must be in the context of full and final delivery from
republicans. On this there will be no weakening.

"We have remained steadfast on the need to achieve full
delivery and, if confidence is to be built, then it is up
to Sinn Fein to match their words with deeds."

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said the
responses of the two parties would be enough to move

"It is positive that the leaderships of both Sinn Fein and
the DUP have accepted and welcomed the Prime Minister's
assessment as set out in his statement," the spokesman

"We believe the parties can move forward on that basis
within the timeframe of the St Andrews Agreement."

But Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said that Mr
Blair's statement was simply about getting Sinn Fein and
the DUP back to the St Andrews Agreement.

"The Prime Minister's statement is, in essence, a return to
the basics agreed at St Andrews," he said

"Effectively, the Prime Minister has stripped the whole
debate down to its constituent parts and shown, with
uncharacteristic clarity, how the parts will fit together.

"It now remains for both Sinn Fein and the DUP to be
equally as clear as Mr Blair in stating that this is,
indeed, how the parts will all fit in place. A statement on
behalf of both parties by an unnamed NIO spokesman will not

"Given the seriousness of the subject matter, it is
incumbent on both the leaderships of Sinn Fein and the DUP
to speak in plain English in response."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said Sinn Fein should simply go
ahead and support policing.

"Gerry Adams already admitted this summer that Sinn Fein
will have to move on policing even if the DUP doesn't agree
to devolution," he said.

"So why not press ahead and hold the ard fheis now?

"Why give the DUP a veto on policing and an excuse to avoid
power-sharing? Why not instead call the DUP's bluff, sign
up to policing and then challenge them to share power?

"Sinn Fein need to realise that the only people who benefit
from their refusal to work with the police are criminals."

© Belfast Telegraph


Power-Share Process For Ulster Hit By New Crisis

Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
Friday January 5, 2007
The Guardian

Tony Blair yesterday faced a fresh crisis in the Northern
Ireland peace process, as he threatened to abandon plans to
restore a power-sharing assembly at Stormont.

His warning came after he returned from a holiday at the
Florida home of the pop star Robin Gibb to deadlock in the
peace process and growing turmoil within republican ranks
over whether Sinn Féin should make a historic compromise
and lend its support to the Police Service of Northern
Ireland (PSNI).

One recently deselected Sinn Féin assembly member, Davy
Hyland in Newry and Armagh, has already quit the party in
protest. Another, Geraldine Dougan in Mid-Ulster, yesterday
threatened to follow him. Any decision by Sinn Féin's
imminent special conference to "support policing and the
judiciary while still under British control, in any shape
or form", Ms Dougan said, would render "membership of that
party ... untenable for me as an Irish republican".

Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin president, refused to be drawn into
a detailed statement on the developing split within his
party, but said senior officials would meet next week to
re-examine their position.

Signs of unrest within the party come as dissident
republican groups have been organising meetings to
coordinate opposition to the police and Mr Adams has been
warned by police of death threats, reportedly from groups
such as the Real and Continuity IRA. The leadership is
coming up against greater internal opposition over policing
than it experienced over the decision to destroy the IRA's
arms. Failure to do the deal, however, will expose Sinn
Féin to attack in the Irish general election this spring as
a party opposed to law and order.

The prime minister said clear commitments would have to be
given in the coming weeks. The timetable agreed at the St
Andrews summit last autumn envisages the transitional
Stormont assembly being dissolved on January 30, fresh
elections being held on March 7 and a devolved government
taking office on March 26.

In a statement from Downing Street yesterday, Mr Blair
warned that devolution could only go ahead if there was
clear agreement from Sinn Féin that it would support the
police and from Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist party
that it would deliver on power-sharing.

"It is only on this basis and with this clarity that we can
proceed to an election," he said. "I am confident that both
parties want to see progress and will honour their
commitments. But there is no point in proceeding unless
there is such clarity."

The extent of the latest crisis emerged on Wednesday
evening when Sinn Féin hinted that because of what it
deemed to be an inadequate response from the DUP it might
postpone a special party conference expected to give
backing to the PSNI later this month.

In an unusually detailed explanation of where negotiations
now stood, Mr Blair's statement added: "On policing,
justice and the rule of law, Sinn Féin will propose to
their party's ard fheis [conference] that Sinn Féin commit
now and fully to support the PSNI and the criminal justice
system and actively encourage everyone to cooperate fully
with the police services in tackling crime in all areas as
well as actively supporting all the criminal justice
institutions. It is delivery on those commitments that
creates the conditions for devolution of policing and
justice to take place. When there is delivery, there will
be devolution."


McCabe Backs Fallon Death Inquiry

Calls for a public inquiry into the first garda officer
killed in the Troubles was today backed by the widow of
slain Garda Jerry McCabe.

Republican splinter group Saor Eire was blamed for shooting
Garda Richard Fallon during an armed robbery in Dublin in
April 1970.

The 43-year-old later became the first member of the force
to be posthumously awarded the Scott Gold Medal for
bravery. Mrs McCabe, whose husband Jerry also received the
Scott medal after his death, said: "I would certainly
support the Fallon family in their campaign. They deserve
our support and they would have my 100 per cent support.

"The family has been a long time looking for answers and
any law-abiding citizen has a right to the truth."

Det Gda McCabe was shot dead in a botched armed robbery by
IRA members in Adare, Co Limerick in 1996.

Garda Fallon's youngest son, Finian has threatened to
return his father's Scott medal if he is not granted a
public inquiry into the murder.

The father-of-five was the first garda to be killed in the
Republic during the Troubles. He was part of a three-man
mobile patrol that went to investigate an alarm at the
Royal Bank on Arran Quay in the capital.

Three activists of the now-defunct Saor Eire organisation
later went on trial for the murder but were acquitted. Mr
Fallon said today: "It is my belief that something untoward
went on in relation to the murder of my father and the the
Irish Government is hiding the truth to this day."

Mr Fallon and Mrs McCabe are both members of the Garda
Survivors' Support Association which was formed in 2005 by
relatives of gardai killed in the line of duty.



Political Snub At Ambush Memorial

An annual commemoration of a massacre 31 years ago in south
Armagh will take place without any politicians invited for
the first time.

Ten Protestant workmen were shot by the IRA in the
Kingsmill massacre near Bessbrook on 5 January 1976.

Willie Fraser of victims group Fair said many felt the
current negotiations with Sinn Fein were a step too far.

"We know no final decision has been taken yet, but some of
the families feel let down," he said.

"They would prefer that politicians weren't invited, so at
their wish we didn't invite any this time to speak at it."

In a statement, the families of some of the victims said:
"Unlike other years and due to the political uncertainty
and failure to satisfy victims to date, politicians will
not be invited.

"The group feels that at the present time with the prospect
of Sinn Fein/IRA in government and with control over
victims' issues, our politicians have much work to do and
many important issues to resolve before they can face the
victims families."

Among those attending last year's service were DUP MP
Jeffrey Donaldson and Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/05 11:30:01 GMT


MPs' Double Trouble

[Published: Friday 5, January 2007 - 10:40]

The £3.3m which Ulster's 'double-jobbing' MPs raked into
their pockets in 2006 is resented because most of us feel
our politicians don't earn their money, says Laurence
White, while Marie Foy, unsurprisingly, finds they believe
they earn every penny

Our local politicians have brought a new meaning to 'doing
the double' - and it pays much better than the traditional
benefit fraud associated with the term.

In the last year, the 16 local politicians who hold seats
at both Stormont and Westminster raked in £3.3m in salaries
and expenses.

Do we begrudge them their £200,000-plus packages (the five
Sinn Fein members get around £60,000 less because they
refuse to take their Westminster seats and therefore don't
get MPs' salaries but do receive expenses)? You bet we do.

Part of the reason, of course, is pure envy. Who wouldn't
like to be Peter and Iris Robinson who earn a combined
income of £500,000 a year?

But the real objection to the double-jobbing bonanza is
that most of us feel our politicians don't really earn
their money.

Take their modest £10,606 a year Assembly salary. Not a big
deal in the great scale of things - but nice money for
being part of an institution which has been mothballed
since midnight on October 14, 2002, apart from a few
sittings last year.

We would all like to keep getting paid if our place of work
closed down, especially if we were the people responsible
for closing it.

Of course, the politicians will claim that they still
represent their constituents and deserve to be paid for

It's a moot point.

Yes they still represent their constituents but not
terribly effectively. Take the impending water charges and
rates increases for example. Mr Hain and his NIO team have
turned a deaf ear to any muted concerns raised by the local

Any hint of revolt against these punitive charges has come
from trade union sources not MPs/MLAs.

What are the politicians doing about education reforms,
building up the province's roads and transport systems,
tackling the housing crisis? The answer seems to be not a

They will argue that they are debating matters crucial to
all our futures. Forgive me if I am underwhelmed by their
prevarication, circular debates, foot dragging and
showboating. They might think they are performing like
international statesmen and women, but in reality it is
just localised bitter bickering.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have taken ages to recognise their
obligations as the province's leading political parties.

The DUP has to accept power-sharing and Sinn Fein has to
accept the police and justice system if they want to form a
devolved government. Get on with it. So, if they are doing
nothing at home, what is happening at Westminster?

I am sure that every MP, courtesy of their publicly funded
researchers, will be able to say exactly how many times
they have spoken in the House of Commons in the last year.

The five Sinn Fein MPs, of course, haven't spoken a word
thanks to their self-imposed exile. Is that the best
representation for their constituents, not all of whom are
die-hard republicans?

But, then again, what radical reforms have those MPs who
have taken their seats wrought for our benefit in the past
year? Answers on a postcard please.

The only good thing about the big pay packets earned by the
MPs/MLAs is that they don't get to trouser it all.

They are taxed like everyone else on their salaries and
their expenses are paid out against things like
constituency offices, research staff, travel and
subsistence costs.

They are still on a nice earner but not as huge as the
headline figure might suggest.

But, wait a minute. Next year our double-jobbing
politicians could get a big pay increase. If the Assembly
is resurrected, their Stormont pay will soar. When it last
functioned properly in 2002, the salary of an MLA was more
than £41,000 a year.

This was cut to the current £10,606 some time after
suspension of the Assembly, but only following public

You can be sure that when the politicians get back to work
at Stormont they will ensure that their pay will be
restored to well above £40,000.

How many of the rest of us are hoping for a £30,000 a year
pay rise this year?

Strangford DUP MLA Iris Robinson

Strangford DUP MLA Iris Robinson was allocated Westminster
and Stormont pay and expenses totalling £246,229.59 in the
year 2005/06 and her husband Peter was allocated
£247,071.86. Mrs Robinson says: "I take exception to this
impression of getting a quarter of a million into my bank
account, as though this is what I get as a salary. It is
offensive and ludicrous to add in all the office staff and
other expenditures. An MP who holds a seat in Westminster
gets around £59,000 and a third of the full MLA salary, and
that is reduced and reduced while the Assembly isn't
sitting. I employ five full-time staff and have had a full-
time office since I was elected.

"I have three satellite surgeries a month in Killyleagh,
Portavogie and Saintfield and have very little time for a
normal life because I give the job my all. I think my
record of work and the votes I get reflect the work I do.

"I earn my salary. I put everything I have into my work -
it is a calling for me. Judging by the vote I get, people
know this. They see me as someone who is committed and keep
giving me their votes and adding to them every time I

"Nothing is hidden from the electorate. No one is pulling
the wool over anyone's eyes. Every one of our party's MPs
and Assembly members have two or three offices in their
constituencies and we have to account for the work we do,
or we wouldn't be the largest party in the north.

"We have staff with contracts from the House of Commons.
There is never any money exchanged between me and my staff.
Wages go directly to the staff from the House of Commons.

"The main point is the way the media often simply adds on
everything. This nonsense of half a million coming into the
Robinson household is absolutely scandalous.

"It's not fair to lump everything together. If you asked
the editor of the Belfast Telegraph's what his salary was,
would he include staff wages? That is what is happening

East Londonderry DUP MLA and an MP, Gregory Campbell

East Londonderry DUP MLA and an MP, Gregory Campbell's
allocation was £264,836.28. He says: "A large bulk of this
sum is for expenditure. Like any normal office, we have
overheads that accrue such as rent, rates, electricity,
telephones. By far the largest element is the wages cost.

"I run two full-time offices in Coleraine and Limavady and
employ three full-time staff and two part-time. I also hold
other surgeries.

"MLAs at Stormont get around £30-31,000 and MPs get one
third of that. I imagine the senior salaries review board
make the assessment because there is a certain amount of
overlap in the work carried out for constituents.

"I think anyone earning any salary isn't the best judge of
whether they are worth it. It is usually up to others to
assess whether they deserve it.

"The voters are the final arbiters and will decide if they
are getting value for money."

SDLP South Belfast MP and an MLA, Dr Alasdair McDonnell

SDLP South Belfast MP and an MLA, Dr Alasdair McDonnell's
dual allocation totalled £254,844.13. He says: "I am one of
the few MPs in the UK who runs two separate constituency
offices on a five day a week basis. I would like to know
how many other local MPs could say that?

"This fact obviously has considerable impact upon staffing
costs, but this is paid to professional staff providing a
top quality service right across my constituency.

"I take my responsibilities to the taxpayer very seriously
indeed but my South Belfast constituents deserve the best
representation I can provide.

"Indeed, if people cast their minds back to the publication
of MLAs' travel expenses in the autumn they will remember
that, unlike others in the constituency, I claimed
absolutely nothing!"

Ulster Unionist Assembly member Dermot Nesbitt

Dermot Nesbitt, who is South Down Ulster Unionist Assembly
member but not an MP, says: "I think some politicians give
value for money and some don't. You get hardworking ones
and others not so hardworking.

"Politicians are a microcosm of society. Sometimes there is
a little bit too much attention paid to public
representatives, although I recognise the importance of it.

"I do think double jobbing would not be a normally accepted
practice. Both MLAs and MPs are expected to be full-time

- A Sinn Fein spokesman says: "Party members do not receive
MPs' salaries at all. MLA salaries are pooled centrally and
every Sinn Fein elected representative receives the average
industrial wage. The remainder of the funds go towards
party building."

© Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Honesty And Transparency Required

[Published: Friday 5, January 2007 - 10:11]

Ordinary people in Northern Ireland could be forgiven for
thinking that, rather than reach agreement, Sinn Fein and
the DUP are seeking ways of escaping from their
responsibilities under the St Andrews Agreement.

Both are still trying to set preconditions before taking
the steps necessary to see devolved government return to
the province. Yet all they are being asked to do is what
would be accepted as normal practice in any other

The Prime Minister interrupted his holiday to spell out
clearly to the two parties their obligations. Sinn Fein
should call an ard fheis as soon as possible to commit the
party to full support for the PSNI and the criminal justice
system and to actively encourage everyone to co-operate
with the police in tackling crime. Sinn Fein must follow
that course if it is to be taken seriously as a democratic

For its part, as the Prime Minister pointed out, the DUP
should do nothing to delay or obstruct the devolution of
policing and justice once Sinn Fein's bona fides on the
issues are established. All this, the Prime Minister
argued, can be delivered within the May 2008 time frame set
out at St Andrews.

The Northern Ireland peace process has been a long and
tortuous one, bedevilled by prevarication, lack of trust
and lack of goodwill. Ordinary people's hopes have been
raised on many occasions and then mercilessly dashed. Mr
Blair, in his statement yesterday, appears to be sharing
the exasperation of the public. He wants the issues
resolved and has spelled out clearly how that can be

It has to be admitted that both Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley
face internal pressures in trying to reach an
accommodation. It could not be otherwise, given the dark
history of the last 40 years. While many may wish for a
line to be drawn in the sand regarding the past horrors of
terrorism, it is not something which unionists,
nationalists or republicans find easy to do. However, it is
the task of the politicians to begin the healing process
and they must show that leadership.

What we now require is honesty and transparency in the
negotiations between the political parties and the British
and Irish Governments. Past agreements unravelled in no
small measure due to secret deals and broken promises.

Ordinary people, in the main, conduct their daily lives on
the basis of honesty and transparency. They expect their
politicians, who are extremely well paid for their job, to
conduct themselves in the same manner. If this latest
effort to broker devolution fails, then the two governments
will impose their own solution and our politicians will be
sidelined. Their own future, as well as ours, are in their

© Belfast Telegraph

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