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February 21, 2007

Hain's Way: Devolution or Dissolution

News about Ireland & the Irish

IE 02/21/07 Hain's Way: It's 'Devolution Or Dissolution'
IT 02/22/07 Adams Says DUP 'Posturing' Over Funding
IH 02/21/07 Paisley Refuses To Commit Power-Sharing
ND 02/21/07 Split Vote Claims ‘Ludicrous’
IT 02/22/07 Purvis To Hold Ervine's Seat Despite DUP
BB 02/21/07 Wright Murderer Sent Back To Jail
BB 02/21/07 Met Chief 'Must Apologise' Over Police Remark
IT 02/22/07 Ahern To Meet Bush Twice
CT 02/21/07 Opin: On The Brink Of Peace, Again
IT 02/22/07 Opin: Optimism At DUP Campaign Launch
IT 02/22/07 Taoiseach Remembers Flight Of The Earls
IT 02/22/07 Collapse Of The Old Gaelic Order


Hain's Way: It's 'Devolution Or Dissolution'

By Ray O'Hanlon

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain was in the
U.S. last week to brief American legislators on the
upcoming election in Northern Ireland and the efforts of
the British and Irish governments to bring about a working
Assembly and power sharing Executive.

In an interview, Hain played up the benefits that will
accrue to the North's political parties if they work
together, but also warned of dire consequences if they do

So what, in his view, was at stake in the March 7 Assembly
election and March 26 deadline for a return to power
sharing government?

"It's the future of this political generation of
politicians," Hain told the Echo.

"It's whether they have got the courage and the leadership
to work together on behalf of the voters, or whether they
are going to throw in the towel on March 26 because it is
devolution or dissolution, there's no fudge or postponement
or wriggling past the deadline possible because it's set in

Changes in Northern Ireland, Hain said, had been
"monumental," not least as a result of the recent Sinn Fein
ard fheis and the IRA's decommissioning of its arsenal.

"There's really no reason now why unionists should not
share power with both nationalists and republicans," Hain

What, in his view, will Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists
have to do after the election to make power sharing a

"I wouldn't single out any particular party," Hain
responded. "I would just say that all parties will have a
couple of weeks after results are declared on March 9 to
decide whether they are opening up or closing down

"It's basically that choice. Either Stormont will be opened
up for business and there will be a functioning Assembly
fully accountable, and an effective executive taking
government decisions that I now take as the direct rule
Secretary of State.

"Or the doors will be closed and this kind of virtual
politics we've had for over four years will end;
politicians won't be paid, they will cease to have any
representative rights as members of the legislative
assembly - obviously it's different in the case of
councilors and MPs - but it's really their choice, and I
think the public in Northern Ireland, whatever their voting
intentions, are just impatient about the need to make
Stormont work, or to shut it down."

One way or another, Hain doesn't expect an easy process
even if the main parties ultimately move towards shared

"Both the DUP and SF know they have to deliver on both
power sharing and support for policing and the rule of
law," he said.

"Those two go together, they are the twin pillars of the
St. Andrew's agreement and of what I believe is the
political endgame that we are now in.

"And there's obviously a lot of historic distrust and
bitterness and suspicion and fear between the two as to
whether the other is going to deliver what they promised
come the crunch moment on the 26th of March.

"So I expect it to be a bit rocky and bumpy with a large
dose of begrudging sourness around. But I think the overall
trajectory is very positive. If you see for example where
republicans have been consistently cooperating and urging
cooperation over the past few weeks, it's quite clear that
there is delivery happening on the ground," Hain said.

The secretary of state does not, however, expect unanimous
support for cooperation between Ian Paisley and Gerry

"Now for some members of the DUP who really, in their deep
hearts, don't want to share power with Sinn Fein in an
executive that will never be good enough," he said in
reference to unprecedented cooperation with the police by

"They will always want a picture of absolute pristine
perfection because actually they really don't want to do
the deal. But I think for most DUP members, including the
leadership, the progress that has been made, even these
last short weeks, is tremendously positive. I'm confident
that the leadership of the DUP knows that the 26th deadline
is real, knows that there is a very stark choice and wants
to lead rather than follow."

Does Hain think Adams and Paisley will persuade enough of
their respective party members to support power sharing?

"Yes, because the ard fheis vote was a 95 percent vote and
the dissident voices in the DUP were in a very small
minority. Some of them are quite vocal, and that's
unsettling for nationalists and republicans when they hear
these voices and there doesn't seem to be anything
countering them, but I'm confident they are in a very small

What if there is a failure to bring about power sharing?

"We would have cold storage of locally elected accountable
politics in Northern Ireland which would be a tragedy for
the politicians and the people," Hain said.

"Unionists are not doing me a favor, or the prime minister
a favor, or the taoiseach a favor by agreeing to move
forward on March 26th. They are doing themselves a favor.

"There are tremendous opportunities for unionism, as there
are for nationalism and republicanism, in this process
being successful. There is only a very steep downside in
its failing because, if we had to, we would still have
responsibility in the event of failure to govern by direct
rule. We're pushing forward with lots of radical reforms,
some of them unpopular, but I believe necessary, those will
continue, they will be accelerated - education reform,
water charge implementation, all of those things, public
sector reform and so on.

"But we would also have to bridge the gap by deepening
cooperation with the Republic of Ireland's government, in
the interests of the people of Northern Ireland, on the
economy, on energy policy and a range of other key areas."

Is Hain optimistic or pessimistic? Does he have a gut

"I feel that this is the endgame and I feel it will end
positively," he said.

"But I don't know. It may fall over. But if it falls over
it would be a tragedy for Northern Ireland's politicians
who have come so far.

"Why I'm optimistic is that we've never been here before,
never ever been anywhere near it," he said.

"We've had, obviously since the Good Friday agreement,
progress, normalization and stability on security and
prosperity. The bombings and the shootings have dwindled
away to a handful from being hundreds every year and being
a daily blight on ordinary life.

"And the moves made by republicans these last 18 months are
just absolutely seismic. And I think there's a shift in
unionist opinion as well including the DUP so I'm
optimistic, realistically optimistic, not starry eye

This story appeared in the issue of February 21 -28, 2007


Adams Says DUP 'Posturing' Over Funding

Scott Jamison
Thu, Feb 22, 2007

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams yesterday accused the Rev
Ian Paisley's DUP of "posturing" over claims a satisfactory
financial package was a precondition to devolution.

Speaking at the "unveiling" of the party's 37 candidates
for the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr Adams said his party
was the first to argue for a peace dividend. "We are moving
out of a conflict situation and infrastructures are
underfunded. Both governments need to pick up the tab for
that," he said.

"But it is not a precondition. It is a necessary part of
the process of developing what was undernourished and
undermined. I think what you are getting from the DUP is a
bit of posturing once more," he added.

The DUP's election manifesto, launched earlier in the day,
stated a financial package was a necessary step before
devolution could take place. The party also made a comment
about "putting manners on republicans", a reference to the
Sinn Fein remark about the PSNI.

Mr Adams said he believed working with the DUP was
possible. "They are putting up various positions and there
are going to be negotiations, because there will have to be
both a government put together and a programme of
government," he said.

"But we can do it easily or we can do it in a difficult
way, and we want to do it the easy way, which is to sit
down and share with other parties in government and go
about the business we were elected to do."

Mr Adams, standing in West Belfast, refused to be drawn on
what portfolios Sinn Fein would attempt to gain in a
Stormont executive. In the most recent power-sharing
executive, the party held two ministerial posts, with
Martin McGuinness as education minister and Bairbre de Br£n
as health minister. Mr Adams said the party will "look at"
those portfolios again, adding: "But we have not had one
vote cast, so it is premature to discuss what departments
we would go for."

When asked about the issue of Sinn Fein Fermanagh-South
Tyrone candidate Michelle Gildernew's comment on BBC Radio
Ulster's Talkback that she "personally wouldn't" contact
the police if she saw disaffected Provisionals with guns,
Mr Adams refused to comment, simply stating it was a
"hypothetical" question.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Ian Paisley Refuses To Commit To Northern Ireland Power-
Sharing Deadline, Blames Sinn Fein

The Associated Presspublished: February 21, 2007

BELFAST, Northern Ireland: Ian Paisley, whose Democratic
Unionist Party holds the key to power-sharing in Northern
Ireland, refused Wednesday to commit to a British deadline
of March 26 for the revival of a Catholic-Protestant

Paisley, launching his party's policy manifesto for a March
7 election to the Northern Ireland Assembly, said he would
not cooperate with the major Catholic-backed party, Sinn
Fein, unless its leaders support law and order without

He rejected as inadequate Sinn Fein's historic vote last
month to abandon its decades-old boycott of contact with
police in the British territory.

Paisley's comments raised fresh doubts over whether a
Protestant-Catholic administration - the central goal of
the Good Friday peace accord of 1998 - could be revived.

Power-sharing fell apart in 2002 amid chronic Protestant-
Sinn Fein arguments. Britain has threatened to dissolve the
newly elected assembly if its members refuse to form an
administration by March 26.

Paisley noted that his moderate rival for Protestant votes,
the Ulster Unionist Party, has accepted the deadline.

"We will not be so foolish," said Paisley, whose party
enjoys solid Protestant support for its tough negotiating
stance on Sinn Fein. "On policing Sinn Fein still have some
distance to travel."

Paisley said Sinn Fein leaders appeared to be instructing
followers to help police solve certain kinds of crime, such
as drug-dealing or rapes in Catholic areas, but withholding
help in stopping anything involving members of the IRA and
dissident groups.

"There can be no distinction between civic and political
policing. There can be no place for elected representatives
to say they would not report paramilitary activity by
dissident republicans. There can be no acceptance of people
in government who would not report the discovery of guns,"
Paisley said.

He also warned Protestants they must support his party,
rather than others committed to Northern Ireland's
political union with Britain, to prevent Sinn Fein becoming
the largest party in the assembly. The biggest party
automatically claims the top position, called the "first
minister," in any power-sharing Cabinet.

"Unionism needs the strongest possible mandate to keep the
pressure on (Irish) republicans ... and we need the
strongest possible mandate to ensure that there will be a
unionist and not a Sinn Fein first minister," he said.


Split Vote Claims 'Ludicrous'

INDEPENDENT Republican candidate Martin Cunningham has
responded to claims that he is splitting the nationalist
vote in South Down as 'ludicrous'.

Mr Cunningham said he became aware of the claims when a
number of supporters from various locations across the
constituency contacted him to say that one nationalist
party in particular was telling people on the ground that a
vote for him would split the nationalist vote and allow
unionism a seat.

In response, Mr Cunningham, said: "It is ludicrous to
suggest that I am somehow intent on splitting the
nationalist vote in South Down. Going by that logic the
SDLP and Provisional Sinn Fein shouldn't run against each
other as their policies and political positions are
virtually identical.

"The two constitutional nationalist parties are running on
totally different platforms than I am, they are running in
support of British policing, I am running in complete
opposition to it. They are running to restore the
institutions of partition, I am running against partition
and the institutions set up by the latest partition treaty.

"They are running in support of an agreement that
criminalises republican prisoners, I am running for the
complete restoration of political status. In reality there
is more difference between my political position and that
of Provisional Sinn Fein than that of the DUP and
Provisional Sinn Fein. "


Purvis Looks To Hold On To Ervine's Seat Despite DUP

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor, In East Belfast
Thu, Feb 22, 2007

Constituency profile: East Belfast:Peter Robinson is
anxious to gain an additional third seat for the DUP in
East Belfast and one of the target seats is that of Dawn
Purvis. Earlier in the campaign you would be minded to
write off her chances but now you'd wonder.

She succeeded to the leadership of the Progressive Unionist
Party on the death of David Ervine, and was co-opted to his
East Belfast seat shortly before the transitional Assembly
dissolved. "I think I was an MLA for 13-and-a-half hours,"
she says.

We're in Ballymacarrett, a tight, proud but pretty rundown
area between the Lower Newtownards Road and the
Albertbridge Road, not far from the nationalist Short
Strand. "No, we don't canvass the Short Strand, but we'd
welcome any transfers they're offering," says Purvis.

It's a dark, wet, miserable night. At first it's quiet,
ominous even. Is this a requiem for a lost leader and a
lost party? Kate Nelson, who worked with David Ervine, is
wearing a sensible coat and hat against the incessant rain.
"We all miss David awfully," she says.

Then Stephen Beattie thunders on to the scene, driving
around the narrow two-up, two-down, redbrick streets,
exhorting local voters from loudspeakers to "Vote for a new
Dawn . . . vote for Dawn Purvis to hold David Ervine's

"Hey Kate, you look like a Free Presbyterian in that hat,"
he adds, stirring it up.

Local doctor and PUP councillor John Kyle is also out on
the stomp. "I joined the PUP because of their fresh,
creative thinking," he says, between knocking on the doors
and selling the new dawn message on a dark wet night.

At first there are just a few canvassers but then they
begin materialising from the little streets, silhouetted in
the street lights and rain, and in a matter of minutes
there's cheerleader Beattie in the PUP car and a storm-
trooping, carefully organised unit of 16 PUP-ers knocking
on doors, distributing leaflets, urging number ones for

Later too, David Ervine's widow Jeanette arrives to offer
support. There's hugs and kisses all round. She's still,
naturally, very shook, and finds it even difficult to speak
about her late husband. "I'm doing this for Dave, and for
Dawn too," she says.

Dawn Purvis argues that it's crucial she holds Ervine's
seat. "It's important that progressive unionism continues
to have influence with the UVF [ to which the PUP is
linked], and without question we can have influence," she

East Belfast is bulging with political leaders. As well as
Dawn Purvis there's the leader of the Ulster Unionists, Sir
Reg Empey, and deputy leaders Peter Robinson of the DUP and
Naomi Long of Alliance. And while he represents North
Antrim, DUP leader Ian Paisley lives in East Belfast.

Naoimi Long, with her flaming red hair, is now pretty well
established as an East Belfast Assembly member. The comment
of one young male out on the canvass, "Oh, you're the girl
on the poster," delighted her. Recognition is all, and
while her admirer was only eight, Long figures this just
proves Alliance is making its impact. "The response on the
doorstep has been very positive," she says.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey is also confident that
the party will emerge holding on to its two Assembly seats,
notwithstanding the voracious appetite of the DUP. So, if
Purvis is also to hold for the PUP and the DUP are to get
three seats, something has to give, which is why it is so
competitive in the constituency.

The DUP, to quote one senior party figure, is attempting to
"do a Fianna F il in East Belfast and other constituencies"
by, for once, actually managing its vote. With Robinson as
a vote magnet the DUP has three quotas in the constituency
but only two seats. It's a virility thing with the DUP, but
this time they are hoping to spread around the political

Robinson has allotted his two running mates twice as big an
area as he has in terms of seeking first preferences. "So,
we better get three seats because I might be the third
one," he jokes, just a shade ruefully. And as part of that
vote management Dr Paisley won't be voting number one for
his deputy. He is instructed to vote number one for one of
the other two candidates.

"I trust I'll get a transfer from Ian," says Robinson.

NATIONALIST BATTLEGROUND:There isn't one. Sinn Fein and the
SDLP, each fielding one candidate, will be hoping for a
decent show to create the prospect of a breakthrough some
time in the distant future in this predominantly unionist
constituency, and to enhance its chances in future local
government elections, particularly if the proposed seven
super councils to replace the current 26 are established.

UNIONIST BATTLEGROUND:Fierce tussle here. Peter Robinson
being tested to win an additional third seat for the DUP by
helping to bring home outgoing MLA Robin Newton and former
Belfast lord mayor Wallace Brown, now in the House of
Lords. It's all about vote management, thus far more the
forte of SF than DUP. In 2003 Robinson won 9,254 votes to
1,475 for Newton while the management was even worse in
1998 - 11,219 for Robinson, 633 for Sammy Wilson, brought
in on transfers. Chief target is Dawn Purvis of PUP, who
was co-opted to the seat of the late David Ervine. While
initially her prospects would appear slim she has a
redblooded campaign team straining muscle and sinew to defy
the odds, and she can't be dismissed. If the UUP can't hold
two seats here, that of leader Sir Reg Empey and either
outgoing MLA Michael Copeland or Jim Rodgers, then the
party will be deemed in serious decline.

WILD CARDS:Dawn Purvis (see above) is the only real wild
card here. Naomi Long of Alliance has consolidated her
position and this should be one of Alliance's few
relatively safe seats.

PREDICTION:It would seem one for Alliance, two for UUP and
at least two for DUP. Forgive the cop-out but it's just too
early to make a stab at whether Purvis can build up enough
steam to hold David Ervine's seat or whether DUP will
snaffle it. Will attempt to call it closer to poll.


*Peter Robinson (DUP) (29.9%)
*Sir Reg Empey (UUP) (20.9%)
Dawn Purvis, co-opted following death of *David Ervine
(PUP) (9.7%)
Naomi Long (Alliance) (9.0%)
Michael Copeland (UUP) (7.4%) Robin Newton (DUP) (4.8%)

*Denotes those also elected in 1998.

Quota 15 per cent

c 2007 The Irish Times


Wright Murderer Sent Back To Jail

One of the men convicted of murdering Billy Wright has been
sent back to prison.

John Kenneway was one of three INLA prisoners convicted of
murdering the former LVF leader in the Maze prison in 1997.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain suspended his early
release licence because he has been charged with a number
of other offences.

"I believe him to be a danger to the public," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/21 19:02:43 GMT


Met Chief 'Must Apologise' Over Paramiltary Police Remark

21/02/2007 - 14:54:03

The North's rank-and-file police today lambasted
Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Ian Blair over claims he
referred to RUC members in the North as members of a
paramilitary force.

The Police Federation of Northern Ireland demanded an
apology after he dubbed the RUC an "almost completely
paramilitary organisation".

The senior officer said he was being misinterpreted and
didn't intend to offend anybody within the RUC, but the Rev
Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists have reacted with fury.

Federation chairman Terry Spence said: "Sir Ian would
hardly appreciate his own officers being described as a
paramilitary force and he should therefore apologise to the
Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde immediately."

He added that police were armed for their personal

Sir Ian, 53, was speaking after attending an international
conference on the future of policing in Belfast.

He told Ulster Television: "I pay tribute to all the people
who contributed, from so many walks of life as well as the
police themselves, in making the change from what - as you
say - was a paramilitary or almost completely paramilitary
organisation into what I think now is an emblem of hope, as
Patten wanted it to be - one of the great police forces."

Mr Spence, who represents 9,500 members, said it was ironic
that as London faced a growing threat from terrorism, the
sight of heavily armed Met officers was now commonplace.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson labelled the comments
offensive and said they had caused great hurt.

Sir Ian, a married father-of-two, has been Commissioner of
the Metropolitan Police since February 2005, five months
before two bombings and attempted bombings of London in

A spokesman for the senior officer said the DUP's assertion
was false.

He added the commissioner was responding to a phrase used
by the interviewer and not drawing a comparison between the
RUC and a terrorist organisation.

"Sir Ian went out of his way to pay tribute to all of the
police officers in Northern Ireland who have worked to move
from the militaristic style of policing they were forced to
adopt in the face of the significant security threat, to
one of policing in partnership with the community," he

"The Commissioner was using the term paramilitary in its
literal sense meaning 'on military lines'. He, and we
understand the interviewer, was in no way drawing a
comparison between the RUC and a terrorist organisation.

"Deputy Chief Constable of PSNI Paul Leighton, himself a
former RUC officer, said today he is 'grateful for Sir
Ian's support, not only to the Police Conference this week,
but his support to officers throughout the organisation
over very many years,' a view echoed by Chief Constable Sir
Hugh Orde."

Alliance Party leader David Ford insisted unionists had

"The unionist parties should have had a look at a
dictionary before they started throwing around wild
accusations," he said.

"This episode illustrates how pathetic they are, because
they don't understand the English language and they don't
understand the serious nature of the welcome recent changes
in policing.

"It's time they grew up and started discussing substantive
issues instead of knee-jerking because they don't
understand plain English."

Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate Michael Copeland said it
was an outrageous and deeply insulting assertion.

"The RUC, of which my wife was proud to be a member, held
the line against paramilitaries and along with the
(British) army, helped secure - at great personal sacrifice
- the relative peace that many take for granted today," he


Ahern To Meet Bush Twice

Deagl n de Br‚ad£n, Political Correspondent
Thu, Feb 22, 2007

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will meet president George Bush
twice in the course of a three-day visit to the US next

On March 16th, just prior to St Patrick's Day, he will
present Mr Bush with a bowl of shamrock as part of the
annual White House ceremony.

The previous day, both the Taoiseach and the president will
be attending a lunch in Washington hosted by the speaker of
the House of Representatives, Democratic congresswoman
Nancy Pelosi.

Mr Ahern leaves Dublin on March 13th, making a one-night
stopover in New York. On March 14th he will visit the Twin
Towers Memorial Centre in downtown Manhattan and meet the
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform which campaigns on
behalf of the undocumented Irish in the US.

He will also deliver a lecture to the Council on Foreign
Relations which is headed by former presidential envoy for
Northern Ireland, ambassador Richard Haass. In his address
the Taoiseach is expected to dwell mainly on the latest
developments in the peace process.

Later that day, Mr Ahern will travel to Washington to
attend the annual dinner of the American Ireland Fund,
which raises funds to support peace and development in
Ireland. Guests of honour at the dinner will be Ms Pelosi
and Republican senator Mitch McConnel.

On March 15th, the Taoiseach is due to meet political
figures on Capitol Hill with an interest in Irish affairs,
including senators Hillary Clinton and Edward Kennedy as
well as attending the Speaker's Lunch and a reception
hosted by Irish Ambassador to the US, Noel Fahey. The
shamrock ceremony at the White House is scheduled for the
morning of March 16th, following which the Taoiseach will
return home.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Opin: On The Brink Of Peace, Again

Published February 21, 2007

For more than a decade, Northern Ireland has moved
haltingly toward peace, two steps forward and one step
back. Last month Catholic republicans took a giant stride
toward a power-sharing government with their former mortal
enemies, pro-British Protestants. Not for the first time,
the promise of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement seems
within reach.

Over the last two years, the Irish Republican Army has
disavowed its violent struggle for a unified Ireland and
destroyed its weapons. Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing,
recently pledged to support a reformed police department
established under that accord. That vote was especially
remarkable because an internal investigation released days
earlier confirmed what Catholics have long claimed: The old
force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, had shielded
Protestant guerrillas from prosecution for crimes against

The world is still waiting for Rev. Ian Paisley, leader of
the largest Protestant party, to extend his hand, signaling
support for the shared government. So far, he has said only
that he will be convinced by deeds, not words. Given that
the parties have until March 26 to form a Cabinet or revert
to British rule, there's not a lot of time for wait-and-

A power-sharing arrangement between Sinn Fein and Paisley's
Democratic Unionists will be an uneasy alliance. Though
Sinn Fein has renounced its violent ways, it hasn't
abandoned its goal of a unified Ireland. By agreeing to a
joint government, its leaders hope to advance their cause
through democratic self-rule instead of terrorism. That
means Northern Ireland would remain under British rule
until a majority of its citizens choose otherwise, which
could be a very long time. Close to 60 percent now profess
long-term interest in remaining a part of the United

But Sinn Fein's actions acknowledge that times have
changed. Though hard-liners on both sides remain suspicious
of each other's intentions, most have come to realize that
neither side can vanquish the other, and that the struggle
has cost them dearly.

During almost 30 years of sectarian war, much of Northern
Ireland lived in abject poverty, and more than 3,600 lives
were lost, including 300 police officers. Today the economy
is robust and the murder rate is at its lowest point in 20
years. The police department, once a partner with
Protestant paramilitaries, is now 25 percent Catholic. But
political peace remains elusive.

Given the long and bloody history, it's natural for
holdouts on either side to question whether the moment is
truly at hand. There's only one way to find out.

Copyright c 2007, Chicago Tribune


Opin: Optimism Conquers All At DUP Campaign Launch

Thu, Feb 22, 2007

Overview:The question of powersharing was expertly rebuffed
in east Belfast, writes Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor.

Yesterday was the DUP's big campaign day, its manifesto
launch, and a pretty slick, expensive 64-page colour
production it was too.

This was the manifesto that the Yes DUP-ers and the party's
Twelve Apostles - who have suspicions about a deal with
Sinn Fein - had to unite around. So, the manifesto, like St
Paul, as Ian Paisley might tell you, had to be all things
to all men.

And women too, of course, although St Paul just refers to
men in his epistle, as the DUP leader would also readily
tell you. Virtually all of the party's 46 Assembly election
candidates, six of them women, turned up spruced and
enthusiastic in the Titanic Quarter of east Belfast to hear
Dr Paisley, his deputy Peter Robinson and St Andrews
sceptic and apostle Nigel Dodds launch the document.

As "Free Stater" Miriam Lord perceptively noted here
yesterday, DUP candidates have a penchant for pinstripes.
Even lead Strangford candidate Iris Robinson was in
pinstripes at the launch. A fiery politician at the best of
times, she was in blazing form when speaking to The Irish
Times yesterday.

Four seats in Strangford is her goal, an extra seat for the
DUP, which is a huge ask, which could put her male
colleagues to shame, including her husband Peter in East
Belfast, but such was her deadly purpose you wouldn't
easily bet against her.

That distilled, charged ambition was pumping around the
Northern Ireland Science Centre like adrenalin yesterday.
How many seats would the DUP win, Iris and some of the
candidates and backroom boffins were asked. "Thirty-five,
maybe 36," some of them said. "Who knows! Thirty-seven,
eight, nine," others said, if the party could just manage
its vote better.

If DUP politicians fear the opposition from anti-deal
"maverick" unionists, as they label them, from Robert
McCartney's UKUP and other unionist quarters, there was no
sense of it yesterday.

Dr Paisley was even worried he might succumb to the deadly
sin of pride, such was the adulation heaped upon him during
his canvasses, he told us. Not once, added Mr Robinson
separately to The Irish Times, did the constitutional
question or issues about powersharing arise on the doorstep
during his canvasses.

So, if it isn't an issue - to revert to a critical theme of
this election - was now the time for the DUP to make more
explicit if it would enter into government with Sinn Fein
on March 26th? No, it wasn't the time, according to the
DUP, and according to the manifesto. Again like St Paul,
the party continues to play the issue to suit and settle
its audience. Don't ask me, was the recurrent line from Dr
Paisley, ask Sinn Fein if powersharing could happen by the

In any case, how could the party be definitive when Sinn
Fein itself wasn't definitive on whether it supported the
PSNI, added Dr Paisley, and Messrs Robinson and Dodds, all
united, cited how Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew and some
other SF politicians appeared to be making a distinction
between "civic and political" policing.

This absence of clarity prompted the Ulster Unionist leader
Sir Reg Empey to complain of a "gutless DUP manifesto"
because it doesn't tell unionists whether a deal is on.

Over at his party's campaign launch in Belfast Castle,
Gerry Adams was more philosophical about it all. He refused
to be drawn on the row over Ms Gildernew's comment that she
wouldn't make a report to the police if she saw a gang of
armed dissident republicans intent on some nefarious
activity. "It's a hypothetical question," he said.

As for the DUP's uncertainty about powersharing and its
continuing criticisms of Sinn Fein, said Mr Adams, "I
forgive them. It's the first day of Lent."

c 2007 The Irish Times


Taoiseach Remembers Flight Of The Earls

Deagl n de Br‚ad£n, Political Correspondent
Thu, Feb 22, 2007

The Flight of the Earls was "one of the most poignant and
romantic episodes in Irish history", Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
said yesterday as he launched a programme of activities
commemorating the departure of Hugh O'Neill, his family and
supporters from Lough Swilly in Donegal in 1607.

The Flight of the Earls commemoration will be combined with
other activities to mark the 400th anniversary of the
foundation of the Irish College, St Anthony's College,
Louvain, in 1607 and the 350th anniversary of the death of
Franciscan scholar, theologian and diplomat, Fr Luke

The joint commemorative programme will include special
exhibitions by the National Museum, the National Library,
the Hunt Museum and the Waterford Treasures museum.

An Post has arranged for the issue of special commemorative
stamps. Academic seminars, workshops and presentations will
be held in UCD, Louvain, Belgium, NUI Maynooth, Dublin
Institute of Technology, Trinity College Dublin, University
College Galway, the O Fiach Library in Armagh and in the
Irish Colleges in Rome and Paris.

"Some have suggested that Ireland is a land burdened with
too much history," Mr Ahern said at the launch in
Government Buildings. "By that, I suppose, people mean that
we are tempted to live too much in the past, to nurse old
wounds, to recall old wrongs and to lament lost

"We might also be accused, perhaps, of celebrating too much
the great men and women and great deeds of the past, and
not enough those of today.

"But I believe, passionately, that a country which is not
aware of and comfortable with its past, for all its
complexity, and the scope it provides for diverging and
conflicting interpretations, cannot be comfortable in the
present, or still less, be confident about shaping its own
future," the Taoiseach added.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Collapse Of The Old Gaelic Order

Thu, Feb 22, 2007

The Flight of the Earls represented the final collapse of
the old Gaelic order in Ireland, leaving the way clear for
the Plantation of Ulster and the consolidation of English

In September 1607, Hugh O'Neill, second Earl of Tyrone and
Rory O'Donnell, first Earl of Tyrconnell, set sail with 90
relatives and associates from Rathmullan, a small fishing
village on the shores of Lough Swilly in Co Donegal.

Originally planning to go to Spain, they were diverted to
the French coast where they disembarked and made their way
overland to Italy. Their departure from Ireland represented
the final outworking of the defeat of the Gaelic
aristocracy at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601.

Six years after Kinsale, the principal remaining leaders of
the Gaelic order decided to take refuge on the European
continent. They never returned; both Rory O'Donnell and
Hugh O'Neill died in Rome, the former in 1608, the latter
in 1616. O'Neill's principal ally, Red Hugh O'Donnell,
brother of Rory, had died in Spain in 1602.

c 2007 The Irish Times

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