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January 15, 2007

Paisley Praises SF Policing Move

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 01/15/07 Paisley Praises SF Policing Move
IT 01/16/07 Blair Believes Paisley Remarks Are Significant
IT 01/16/07 SF Position 'Should Satisfy' DUP
BN 01/15/07 SF Policing Motion Criticised By Unionists
BB 01/15/07 FBI Spy David Rupert Testifies At Omagh Trial
ST 01/15/07 Irish Politics: The Gap Closes
GU 01/15/07 Opin: A Faustian Dilemma
BN 01/15/07 Taoiseach Bemoans Catastrophic Failures In Iraq
BB 01/15/07 Heaney Wins TS Eliot Poetry Prize


Paisley Praises SF Policing Move

Sinn Fein's decision to press ahead with a special party
conference on policing is "a step forward", DUP leader Ian
Paisley has said.

However, he stressed the need for full delivery on the

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said his party was
communicating with the DUP through the government and an
independent channel.

However, he said Sinn Fein did not get the response it had
expected from the DUP.

Mr Paisley said the latest Sinn Fein motion on policing was
open to different, if not contradictory, interpretations.

He said his party would not move until there was full
delivery and would "not be found wanting if there is".

The DUP want republicans to support the police immediately
after their special party conference, but Sinn Fein has
said its executive will judge when the context is right.

'Responding positively'

On Monday, Mr Adams talked in more detail about what he
claims were the understandings between republicans and the
DUP in the period before the new year.

Mr Adams said the parties communicated both through the
government and through an independent channel, and
republicans made three changes to their proposed motion on
policing in response to DUP requests.

He said the DUP did not keep its promises about responding
positively to Sinn Fein's initiative, but he was still
prepared to work with them should they commit to power

The Sinn Fein leadership is to hold debates across Northern
Ireland to sell to grass-roots republicans the idea of
backing policing.

The party's executive decided on Saturday to hold a special
conference on the issue in Dublin on 28 January. More than
2,000 republicans will vote.

Some republicans view accepting policing as a step too far
but prime ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern see it as
crucial for restoring devolution.

Mr Blair also insists the DUP must pledge to share power
with republicans.

Assembly elections are planned for 7 March, and 28 March is
the two governments' target date for the restoration of

Mark Durkan, leader of the nationalist SDLP, said Sinn
Fein's ard fheis must agree to "accept policing, with no
ifs or buts".

Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey called for DUP
leaders to meet the leadership of Sinn Fein "openly and
with the public's knowledge, rather than more of these
discussions going on behind people's backs".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/15 16:44:25 GMT


Blair Believes Paisley Remarks Are Significant

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
Tue, Jan 16, 2007

British prime minister Tony Blair has attached considerable
significance to a statement from DUP leader, the Rev Ian
Paisley, responding to a British government warning that if
devolution is not restored by March 26th then Stormont will
shut down "indefinitely".

Dr Paisley said last night: "If a government cannot be
formed on March 26th because Sinn Féin fails to deliver it
will be clear that Sinn Féin alone is to blame."

While ostensibly negative, London sources said it was also
implicit in this response that if Sinn Féin delivers on
policing then a restored Northern executive can be formed
by the St Andrews Agreement deadline of March 26th.

The sources acknowledged that such methods of
interpretation are tortuous and beyond the interest of most
people but that nonetheless the "converse of Dr Paisley's
response must be true, which is that he would share power
if Sinn Féin delivers on policing".

Mr Blair also saw considerable merit in Dr Paisley's words.

His chief spokesman told The Irish Times last night: "Dr
Paisley's comments, taken alongside the outcome of the Sinn
Féin ardchomhairle at the weekend, confirm the prime
minister in his view that it is possible to arrive at a
situation where there will be full support for the police
and a powersharing executive by March 26th."

"This is the way the DUP does business - negatively," added
a senior talks source last night.

"Dr Paisley seems to be responding to the likes of Jim
Allister (DUP MEP) who say that it would take way beyond
March 26th to test whether Sinn Féin had properly endorsed
the PSNI. He is saying it can be done by March 26th and
that's significant," he added.

Sinn Féin's initial response was unenthusiastic. "How in
print do you describe a long yawn," said a senior party
source last night.

Earlier yesterday Dr Paisley issued a highly guarded
positive response to the weekend decision by Sinn Féin to
hold an ardfheis on policing on Sunday week.

"The Sinn Féin decision to call their special conference to
take a decision on policing is a step forward.

"However it only amounts to movement when there is full
delivery on the ground," he said.

He also referred to how the motion that will be put to the
ardfheis appeared to promise Sinn Féin support for the PSNI
only after the DUP had made a commitment to powersharing
and indicated it would accept the transfer of policing
powers to the Northern Executive by May 2008.

Or failing such DUP commitments, support for policing would
appear only to come into effect after the British and Irish
governments dissolved Stormont and implemented Plan B, the
strengthening of "partnership arrangements" in how the
North was run.

"Any analysis of the motion passed on Saturday allows for
several different, if not contradictory, interpretations,"
said Dr Paisley, referring to this point.

"The question is do they intend to proceed with offering
support to the police and the courts and encouraging their
supporters to do so as soon as the motion is passed. The
DUP will not be moving until there is full delivery on the
ground and the DUP will not be found wanting if there is,"
added Dr Paisley.

The Sinn Féin source, referring to the two statements from
Dr Paisley yesterday, said the overall Sinn Féin response
could be encapsulated in what the party's chief negotiator,
Martin McGuinness, told reporters at Stormont yesterday.

Mr McGuinness said: "The question has been asked, if the
(ardfheis) motion is passed what does this mean? It means
it's over to you, Ian."

Sinn Féin is expected to begin a series of public meetings
on policing ahead of the ardfheis starting this coming
weekend, with party president Gerry Adams and also Mr
McGuinness taking the lead in arguing the case for
endorsing the PSNI.

© 2007 The Irish Times


SF Position 'Should Satisfy' DUP

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent
Tue, Jan 16, 2007

Sinn Féin's acceptance of policing and the rule of law in
Northern Ireland, followed by concrete evidence on the
ground that its position has changed, should be enough to
satisfy the Democratic Unionist Party, Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern has said.

Speaking in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, yesterday, Mr Ahern
welcomed the decision of the Sinn Féin ardcomhairle on
Saturday to call a special ardfheis later this month,
although he acknowledged the difficulties the issue poses
for the party's leadership.

"I have read the Sinn Féin motion and the context of it and
I have been listening to what they have said around it.
Everybody will be looking for a positive follow-up after
the ardfheis, but we have to get to that stage first.

"Sinn Féin understand how important, indeed how vital it
will be following a positive decision of their ardfheis to
see the earliest possible signs of a change of attitude and
approach towards policing on the ground in Northern

"Such a change in attitude and approach will be entirely
logical in the light of the comprehensive support for
policing that the ardfheis motion embraces. This will help
greatly to generate confidence all around a new future for

"I welcome what Sinn Féin has achieved and I hope obviously
that they can get it through successfully and I then hope
that we see the possible change in attitude come into
effect on the ground as quickly as possible," he told The
Irish Times.

"If we see that taking effect on the ground I think any
reasonable person should say then that we have dealt with
the obstacles and that we should be able to move forward.

"An unreasonable person will try to find grounds to pick on
and try to hold us back but I think they would have to be
seen as unreasonable people," he said.

Acknowledging that there is a degree of conditionality in
the text of the motion to go before the ardfheis, Mr Ahern
said: "It would be great if it wasn't there, but the reason
it is there is because we were not able to make the
progress that we thought over the new year, and the various
statements from Dr Paisley and the DUP.

"I spoke to Dr Paisley at length, and while I have some
concerns about how all of this will pan out in the next
period, Tony Blair has had even more conversations with him
than I have had and he is confident that if we get the
ardfheis dealt with this month then that will allow us to
make a decision on the election.

"We will do that in the next few weeks, and then, if at the
same time we saw movement and saw action [on the ground in
the shape of Sinn Féin support for the PSNI] this would be
hugely helpful and would feed into confidence in the DUP.

"There are some people in the DUP, to be frank about it,
who will highlight issues and not be satisfied. But we have
brought this a huge way forward and hopefully if we get to
the other side of the ardfheis - and I am not saying that
that is an easy task for Sinn Féin either - but if we get
to the other side of that and then if we can see confidence
on the ground it would help greatly. So the next two weeks
and the next two months are going to be absolutely
crucial," he said.

© 2007 The Irish Times


SF Policing Motion Criticised By Unionists

15/01/2007 - 13:42:47

Sinn Féin was today accused of "bowling short" in its
motion to party members to endorse the police in the North.

Democratic Unionist MEP Jim Allister said the motion for a
special Sinn Féin conference in Dublin on January 28 was
unacceptable because it made support for the Police Service
of Northern Ireland (PSNI) conditional on the formation of
a powersharing government and assurances that policing and
justice powers would be transferred.

Mr Allister commented: "True to form, Sinn Féin is bowling
short in its Árd Fheis motion.

"It makes all its trumpeted support for policing
conditional on its demands on powersharing and devolution
of policing and justice first being met.

"What this amounts to is that the DUP jumps first by
permitting Sinn Féin into government before they will deign
to support the police.

"That is not acceptable. Upfront delivery by Sinn Féin,
tested and proved over a credible period, is non-

In the event of there being no devolution on March 26, the
Sinn Féin motion also commits the party to support the
police only when acceptable new partnership arrangements
from the Irish and British governments are in place.

Mr Allister has been a vociferous critic of the Irish and
British governments' attempts to set up a powersharing
executive since last October's St Andrews talks.

On Saturday, Sinn Féin's 56-member executive agreed to put
to rank-and-file members at their special conference a
motion committing the party to support for the PSNI, the
Gardaí and the criminal justice system on both sides of the

The motion will also recommend that Sinn Féin elected
politicians participate in local policing accountability
structures such as the Northern Ireland Policing Board and
District Policing Partnership.

Sinn Féin's executive had originally agreed on December 29
to hold the conference this month.

However, the conference was cast into doubt two weeks ago
when the party said its original decision was predicated on
a positive response from the Irish and British governments
and the DUP.

On Friday, Gerry Adams accused DUP leader Ian Paisley of
reneging on an agreed form of words which were to be issued
in his New Year statement.

Sinn Féin's decision on Saturday to press ahead with the
conference this month was welcomed by Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the North's
most senior policeman, Chief Constable Hugh Orde.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson today agreed with Mr Allister that
the Sinn Féin motion did not come up to the mark.

The East Antrim MP said: "It has been made clear pre-St
Andrews and post- St Andrews that Sinn Féin must deliver on
their support for law and order, and in actions as well as
words give their support for the PSNI prior to any
restoration of the Assembly Executive.

"Unionism under the leadership of the DUP will not jump
first, but equally if Sinn Féin deliver on their
obligations we shall not be found wanting. We have made
that abundantly clear.

"It is up to Sinn Féin, and Sinn Féin alone, to get on with
their responsibilities and finally become an exclusively
democratic political party.

"Sinn Féin are in no position to be setting demands. They
know what is required of them and this motion to be put to
the Árd Fheis falls short of that requirement."

The Chief Constable, meanwhile, was today criticised by
Ulster Unionist peer Lord Maginnis, who accused him of
focusing too much on political pronouncements.

"For someone who didn't want political interference in his
work, he's really lost the plot and obviously believes that
CC stands for Chief Choreographer, that he's simply here to
keep the (Northern Secretary Peter) Hain Show on the road,"
the peer observed.

"He should now give up his daily political pronouncements
and get on with policing or has he failed to notice he
hasn't caught the Northern Bank robbers or most of the
gangs who roam the country to prey on the elderly who live

"On the other hand, if he really wants to be a politician,
why doesn't he start by giving some support to his officers
when it comes to the witch-hunt being carried out by the
Police Ombudsman's office?"

The leader of the North's cross-community Alliance Party,
David Ford, today joined Ulster Unionist calls for face-to-
face talks between Mr Paisley and Mr Adams to resolve any
current problems in the peace process.

The South Antrim Assembly member accused both parties of
engaging only in megaphone diplomacy.

"Enough is enough. Megaphone diplomacy simply does not
work," he said.

"Instead of the (British) Prime Minster handing out
meaningless praise and pretending that all is well on both
sides, he should be convening face-to-face talks to resolve
these endless difficulties.

"Sinn Féin and the DUP must get round the table for talks
now and abandon this badly-choreographed blame game if
there is to be any hope at all of achieving genuine


FBI Spy David Rupert Testifies At Omagh Trial

The Omagh bomb trial has heard information from an FBI spy
who had infiltrated dissident republican groups at the time
of the 1998 atrocity.

Belfast Crown Court was told that he named more than 100
members and associates of dissident republicans.

However Sean Hoey - who denies involvement in the bombing
and a series of other attacks - was not one of them. David
Rupert was an FBI agent who was recruited as a supporter by
dissident republicans in 1997.

Over the next four years he met organisers and leaders of
both the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA.

He then passed on information to both the FBI and the
British Security Services in e-mails totalling some 2,000

'Individual suspected'

In the documents, he named more than 100 people linked to
dissidents in north America and Ireland and he described

In a document read in court on Monday - and agreed by the
prosecution and the defence - Mr Rupert said he did meet
people involved in terrorist attacks.

These included an individual suspected by the police of
involvement in the Omagh bombing.

However, the FBI agent never named Sean Hoey in the e-mails
nor described him as being involved with dissident groups.

The 37-year-old, from Jonesborough, County Armagh, denies a
total of 56 charges, including 29 counts of murder as a
result of the Omagh bombing.

The court also heard Mr Rupert was told by dissident
republicans that the Omagh bombing was actually a joint
operation between the Continuity and the Real IRA.

The FBI spy's information was said to be both accurate and
reliable, the court was told.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/15 17:13:48 GMT


The Gap Closes

Kevin Rafter and Shane Coleman

OPPOSITION parties Fine Gael and Labour have clawed back
some of the support they lost so spectacularly last autumn,
but Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is still on track for a record
general election hat-trick, according to the first national
opinion poll of 2007.

The Sunday Tribune/IMS Millward Brown survey shows the
Fianna Fáil/PD coalition at 44%, a two point loss since the
previous poll last October, while the combined Fine
Gael/Labour /Green vote is at 39%, an increase of three

Today's poll has Fianna Fáil on 39%, down three points in
three months despite a giveaway budget in December. Fine
Gael at 22% is up two, Labour at 12% up two, the PDs at 5%
up one, Greens at 5% down one, Sinn Féin at 7% down one and
Independents/others 10% unchanged.

Fine Gael and Labour have, however, only regained half the
support the parties lost in a Sunday Tribune nationwide
survey commissioned during the Bertie Ahern payments
controversy last autumn. At 22%, the Fine Gael vote remains
one point below the 23% showing at the 2002 election, while
Labour has only gained a single point to reach a 12% level
in today's poll.

The results point to the probable re-election of the
current Fianna Fáil-PD coalition for a third term in office
when the general election takes place - most likely next

Fine Gael will be disappointed with the poll results.

The party is polling poorly in Dublin where, at 16%, it is
in third place behind Fianna Fail (31%) and Labour (19%).

There is also bad news for Enda Kenny with his 39%
satisfaction rating the lowest of the six main party

When asked who would make the better Taoiseach, 57% opted
for Ahern and 25% for Kenny. Doubts about Kenny are evident
among his own party supporters.

Only 69% of Fine Gael voters opted for Kenny whereas 90% of
Fianna Fáil voters said Ahern would make a better
Taoiseach. Overall, only 14% of poll respondents feel Kenny
is the party leader who best understands the social and
economic issues affecting modern Ireland.

Among the other party leaders, Michael McDowell's
satisfaction rating has increased by seven points to 42%,
Pat Rabbitte's rating is up two to 47% while Trevor Sargent
is up two to 45%. Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has seen
his satisfaction rating increase by seven points to 52%,
although his party's vote remains unchanged since 2002.


Opin: A Faustian Dilemma

The difficult truth for the sceptical unionist is that the
peace process has delivered something approaching civic
peace in Northern Ireland.

Mick Fealty

Trevor Ringland was one of hundreds of people from across
the political divide who turned up to mourn the passing of
David Ervine. No doubt drawing from the interview he
conducted for Slugger in the run-up to our Long Peace
document, he praised Ervine's forward-focused unionism:

"With the sad passing of David Ervine the people of
Northern Ireland have lost one of its true leaders. He told
us not what we wanted to hear but what we had to hear. He
never denied his past or present but I have no doubt his
view of the future was one that was to be shared in a
constructive way to the benefit of all. He provided
profound advice to unionists by encouraging them to believe
in the legitimacy and power of their own arguments and to
stand proudly and sensibly rather than adopting a siege

Liam Clarke in the Sunday Times went even further,
contrasting Ervine's vision with Paisley's plodding
attachment to the past.

But many within unionism, perhaps even a majority, continue
to argue that Ervine's paramilitary past and his defence of
the UVF's right to continue in existence negated all such
pretensions to leadership. It certainly holed his political
project below the waterline.

It is also easy to forget that as well as producing some of
the most progressive political thinkers within loyalism,
the UVF also produced the Shankill Butchers and the killers
of dozens of Protestants like Raymond McCord, largely in
the name of managing its own patch. In recent years it
openly dropped its ceasefire to defend its position on the

A lot of the residual resentment against Ervine lies in the
fact that, in continually putting the intellectual case for
the peace process (which was, among other things, a
pragmatic compromise between legality and illegality), he
legitimised not simply the peacemaking efforts of Sinn Féin
but, by proxy, the ongoing criminal activities of the IRA.

That resentment for this remains is hardly surprising. To
this day, the RUC is consistently reviled by a republican
movement which effortlessly outscored the old police force
its numbers of fatalities by some 4000%. Little wonder then
that many unionists see the "finessing" of past
paramilitary crimes into an "innocent past" as an
unacceptable part of the Faustian dilemma, which
undoubtedly lies at the heart of this peace process.

Yet the difficult truth for the sceptical unionist is that,
in practical terms, the peace process has delivered
something approaching civic peace, if not exactly a normal
society. Indeed with the deeply ingrained (if often
unconscious) sectarian attitudes on both sides, it may
never be that.

But the risks involved in this latest stage are primarily
to the two negotiating parties themselves, rather than
wider society or, indeed, the innocent bystander. It is
highly significant, for instance, that the current
splitting within the republican movement is political, not

And whatever happens within the DUP when it comes for them
to withstand its own mettle test, the risk will be to
themselves and not a trigger for another "Protestant
backlash"; the coda of which was so often a lonely (often
tortured) death for some easily targeted Catholic.

By the early 1970s the lower Newtownards Road had largely
been cleared of Catholic homes and businesses and it
remains that way today. That Gerry Adams came to the East
Belfast Mission on Friday won't change things overnight,
but it is in line with the freshly tolerant, pluralist
unionism Ervine espoused, however imperfectly, for most of
his public political career.

It remains to been seen whether a credible deal can be done
on law and order. The wholesale porting of special branch
powers into a rapidly expanded MI5 to be placed under
limited Westminster-based scrutiny, along with the
acceptance by Sinn Féin that it will not take the policing
and justice ministry for the foreseeable future, may just
convince sceptics within Paisley's DUP that devolution of
those severely limited powers are both practical and

In which case, we may begin to leave behind the Faustian
stench whereof, as Marlow once put it, "corrupts the inward


Taoiseach Bemoans 'Catastrophic Failures' In Iraq

15/01/2007 - 19:19:22

US-led military action in Iraq has been a catastrophic
failure and important lessons must now be learned,
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told Middle East politicians

Mr Ahern, who allows US warplanes to refuel at Shannon
Airport en route to Iraq, was speaking during a keynote
address to the influential King Faisal Foundation in Saudi

He also called for a stop to further brutalisation,
division and isolation of the Middle East nation.

Speaking in Riyadh during a five-day trade mission to Gulf
states, Mr Ahern said: "It is clear that there have been
catastrophic failures in policy towards Iraq. But while
there are extremely important lessons to be learned from
these past failures, the focus has to be above all on the
present and future."

He warned that progress was only possible if shared
political institutions were developed, existing territorial
borders respected and inter-communal reconciliation

"None of us can afford the further brutalisation, division
and isolation of the historic nation of Iraq," he added.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Ahern also said the volatile
situation across the Middle East continued to represent the
greatest single threat to world peace and that a
comprehensive settlement was more urgently needed than at
any time over the past 60 years.

He added that it was the most significant foreign policy
challenge facing the European Union and was also at the top
of Ireland's foreign policy agenda and was regularly
pursued by the Government at EU and UN level.

He pointed out that Ireland along with other EU countries
was providing the backbone of the new UNIFIL force policing
a truce brokered after last summer's month-long conflict
between Israel and Hezbollah.

"We will be ready to meet the challenge, and Ireland will
play its part," Mr Ahern added.

The Fianna Fáil leader also said Ireland was proud of the
"magnificent role" being played in Irish society by members
of its 40,000-strong Islamic community.

He said he looked forward to the full involvement of the
representatives of the Islamic community in the proposed
structured dialogue between the Government and the churches
and faith which will begin in the coming weeks.


Heaney Wins TS Eliot Poetry Prize

Irish poet and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney has been named
winner of the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, collecting a
cheque for £10,000.

He won for his latest collection, District and Circle,
which draws on his travels to work on the London
Underground in his younger days.

The prize was presented by TS Eliot's widow, Valerie Eliot,
at a ceremony in central London.

Heaney's work was described by the judges as

"In an outstandingly strong field, this was an exceptional
collection of poems," said chairman of the judges, Sean

Poets who made this year's shortlist included Simon
Armitage, Penelope Shuttle, Hugo Williams and Paul Farley.

The TS Eliot Prize for Poetry is organised by the Poetry
Book Society, which was founded by Eliot in 1953 to develop
and maintain poetry reading in the UK.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/15 19:30:11 GMT

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