News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

February 01, 2007

PSNI Urged To Pub Letter Over UVF Collusion

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 02/01/07 PSNI Urged To Publish Letter Over UVF Collusion
BT 02/01/07 Unionist Are Blasted Over Report Response
IT 02/02/07 Gap Narrows Between Alternative Coalitions
BB 02/01/07 Dail Body To Deal With NI Affairs
BN 02/01/07 Unionist Parties React To Dáil Invitation`
BM 02/01/07 Adams Denies Pandering To DUP On Policing
SF 02/01/07 Sinn Féin Press Blair On Collusion
SF 02/01/07 SF Gives Blair Oireachtas Collusion Report
BB 02/01/07 Durkan In 'Legal Action Threat'
BT 02/01/07 DUP: SFs Stance On Police Doesn't Go Far Enough
BT 02/01/07 Opin: Scene Set To Break Free Of Direct Rule
IT 02/02/07 Opin: Why Should IRA Be Exempt?
IN 02/01/07 Opin: Reunification Is Solution To Partition
IT 02/02/07 Drought Will Strike Southeast By 2020, Says EPA
BT 02/01/07 Pics Of Past Become A Big Draw On The Internet


PSNI Urged To Publish Key Letter Over UVF Collusion

[Published: Thursday 1, February 2007 - 09:03]
By David Gordon

Police chiefs are under pressure to release a key document
that will shed light on the RUC's handling of long-standing
UVF collusion allegations.

Freedom of information requests have been submitted
regarding a letter received in 2000 by then Chief Constable
Ronnie Flanagan about the murder of Raymond McCord Jnr.

It was sent by the Stevens collusion enquiry team and
concerned a complaint it had received from Mr McCord's
father, Raymond Snr.

Mr McCord Snr today said details of the letter should be
made public.

"I want to know what actions the RUC took in 2000 about the
allegations I made at that time," he commented.

"I welcome these freedom of information requests and hope
they will help establish the full facts."

The 1997 McCord murder by a north Belfast UVF gang was the
starting point for a devastating report issued last week by
Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

It linked a prime suspect for this killing, Mark Haddock,
to at least nine other murders.

It also stated that Haddock remained a paid police informer
until 2003 - three years after the Stevens team wrote to
the RUC chief constable.

The existence of correspondence between Stevens'
investigators and Sir Ronnie's private office was confirmed
to this newspaper last week by the PSNI.

A spokesman for the force said: "The matter was outside the
terms of reference of the Stevens Investigation and was
therefore sent to the RUC.

"The letter was sent to the investigating officer
responsible for the case and it was included as part of
their investigation at that time."

Sir Ronnie is now head of Head of Her Majesty's
Inspectorate of Constabulary, which oversees all UK police

He rejected criticism following last week's O'Loan report
and stated: " With respect to the specific matters dealt
with in the Ombudsman's report, at no time did I have any
knowledge, or evidence, of officers at any level behaving
in the ways that have been described."

Speaking in the Commons, SDLP leader Mark Durkan accused
Sir Ronnie of presiding over a culture of 'anything goes
but nobody knows' in the RUC.

The former chief constable has not responded to a Belfast
Telegraph query about the Stevens team letter.

A freedom of information request on the correspondence has
now been submitted by this newspaper to the PSNI. It's
understood a similar request has been made by the SDLP.

© Belfast Telegraph


Unionist Parties Are Blasted Over Report Response

[Published: Thursday 1, February 2007 - 11:05]
By David Gordon

A former cross-community councillor who was targeted by UDA
pipe bombers has slammed unionist politicians over their
response to the O'Loan collusion report.

Mark Langhammer said loyalist killer gangs like the Mount
Vernon UVF in north Belfast had preyed on their own
communities for years.

"The Police Ombudsman's conclusions should be a matter of
immense concern to anyone who claims to represent these
areas," he said.

"Are the unionist parties really saying that police should
shelter people involved in murder, intimidation, drug
dealing and extortion?"

Mr Langhammer was an independent Labour member of
Newtownabbey council for 12 years, representing an area
that included the Rathcoole estate.

In 2001, the UDA placed a pipe bomb under his car after he
had supported the establishment of a Rathcoole policing

The ex-councillor also said investigations in the wake of
the O'Loan report should examine Special Branch's handling
of informants within the UDA in north Belfast and

"The UDA turned Newtownabbey into Northern Ireland's
principal killing field in the early 2000s," he added.

Mr Langhammer now sits on the Irish Labour Party's national

He facilitated discussions between campaigning father
Raymond McCord and Irish Labour leader Pat Rabbitte,
leading to Mr Rabbitte levelling allegations under
parliamentary privilege about police informers in the Mount
Vernon UVF.

© Belfast Telegraph


Gap Narrows Between Alternative Coalitions

Stephen Collins, Political Editor
Fri, Feb 02, 2007

The alternative coalitions are polling neck and neck,
according to the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi survey which
shows a decline of five percentage points in the combined
support for both Government parties since December. Fianna
Fáil and the Progressive Democrats are now just one point
ahead of the Fine Gael-Labour alternative.

The poll is particularly bad news for the Progressive
Democrats who are at just 1 per cent, the lowest rating for
the party in an mrbi poll since its foundation in 1985.
However, the satisfaction rating of the party leader,
Michael McDowell, is up 6 per cent.

The smaller parties have made significant gains in the
poll, with the Greens doubling their support to 8 per cent
and Sinn Féin gaining ground after its ardfheis decision
last Sunday to accept policing.

The adjusted figures for party support are: Fianna Fáil 37
per cent (down three percentage points); Fine Gael 26 per
cent (down one point); Labour 11 per cent (no change); Sinn
Féin 9 per cent (up two points); Green Party 8 per cent (up
four points); the Progressive Democrats 1 per cent (down
two points) and Independents/others 8 per cent (no change).

The poll was conducted last Monday and Tuesday among a
representative sample of 1,000 voters at 100 sampling
points in all 43 constituencies.

The core vote for the parties when the undecided voters are
included is: Fianna Fáil 35 per cent (down three points);
Fine Gael 19 per cent (down one point); Labour 8 per cent
(no change); Sinn Féin 7 per cent (up two points); Green
Party 6 per cent (up three points); PDs 1 per cent (down
one point); Independents/others 6 per cent (down one
point); undecided 18 per cent (up one point).

Satisfaction with the Government has dropped to 48 per cent
(down four points) while satisfaction with Mr Ahern is down
by three points to 56 per cent.

Satisfaction with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is running at
41 per cent (down two points); Pat Rabbitte is on 47 per
cent (up one point); Michael McDowell is on 44 per cent (up
six points); Trevor Sargent is at 40 per cent (no change)
and Gerry Adams is on 50 per cent (up seven points).

The drop in Fianna Fáil support since the Budget and the
publication of the National Development Plan is a surprise,
and the party is back where it was exactly 12 months ago.

The drop in PD support is potentially even more damaging to
the prospects of the Government retaining power in the

There is no obvious reason for the decline, particularly
since Mr McDowell's satisfaction rating has risen by 12 per
cent since he took over as party leader last September.

One possible explanation is that by associating himself so
closely with Fianna Fáil, the Tánaiste may have alienated
potential supporters from other political backgrounds.

Fine Gael and Labour will be buoyed by the poll, although
they have not made any gains.

Fine Gael has actually dropped one point but the party has
established itself in the 26-28 per cent range over the
last four Irish Timespolls. The party has not been at this
level in mrbi polls since the early 1990s. Labour remains
at 11 per cent but the rating of party leader Pat Rabbitte
has improved following the recent media controversy over
his likely attitude to the formation of a government in a
hung Dáil.

The Greens are the biggest winners in the poll, with party
support doubling to 8 per cent. If it can achieve this
share of the vote in an election it should be able to
increase its number of Dáil seats from the current six. The
party is particularly strong in Dublin, where it has moved
ahead of Labour.

The increase in support for Sinn Féin and the big jump in
satisfaction with Gerry Adams is a clear response to the
special ardfheis last Sunday which decided overwhelmingly
to recognise the new policing structures in Northern

Independents and others have retained the same level of
support as that achieved in the last poll and look like
remaining a significant component of the Dáil arithmetic
after the election.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Dail Body To Deal With NI Affairs

Plans to set up a special committee of the Irish parliament
which would deal with Northern Ireland affairs have been
confirmed by the Irish government.

It is believed Northern Ireland MPs would have the right to
speak at the proposed committee.

Full details have not been announced but Irish deputy PM
Michael McDowell said the Irish government was moving ahead
with the proposal.

Mr McDowell said all NI party leaders would be consulted
about the plan.

The leader of the main Irish opposition party, Fine Gael's
Enda Kenny, questioned whether Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had
cut a "side-deal" with Sinn Fein in return for last
weekend's decision to back policing.

Sinn Fein had previously demanded that Northern Ireland
politicians be given speaking rights in the Dail - the
Republic's parliament.

However, Mr McDowell, representing Mr Ahern, told the Dail
on Thursday: "I was fully consulted in relation to the
committee that is being established.

"There will be full dialogue with all party leaders in the
Dail and all party leaders in Northern Ireland including
the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the unionist parties."

The plan has been welcomed by the SDLP as a positive step
forward, but Sinn Fein said it fell short of a previous
agreement to have local politicians in the Dail.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Junior called it a fantasy committee
for nationalists and the Ulster Unionist leader, Sir Reg
Empey, dismissed it as an unwelcome and unwarranted

On Wednesday, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dail that no
referendum was required in the Republic on the St. Andrews

"The changes effected by this agreement do not constitute
fundamental changes to the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/01 12:58:02 GMT


Unionist Parties React To Dáil Invitation

01/02/2007 - 18:36:05

The two unionist parties have reacted to today's proposals
for a Dáil committee to invite Northern elected
representatives to speak in the Dáil.

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, announced that
a special committee will be set up to deal with Northern

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jr chose firstly to deride the
proposal, calling it a consolation prize or wooden spoon
for nationalists who had failed to get a united Ireland.

He told Dublin, Sinn Féin and the SDLP that they had to
realise they had lost in their search for a united Ireland,
which would never happen.

He went on to say the proposal was undermining unionist
respect for the Irish Government and it fed a nationalist
myth that was insulting to unionists.

The Ulster Unionist Party leader, Reg Empey, called it
hugely dangerous and an unwelcome and unwarranted


Adams Denies Pandering To DUP On Policing

01/02/2007 - 14:20:20

Gerry Adams today denied Sinn Féin was dancing to the
Democratic Unionist Party’s tune on policing.

After a meeting in Downing Street with British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, the Sinn Féin leader rejected claims
by former party member Gerry McGeough that Sinn Féin’s move
to endorse Hugh Orde’s Police Service of Northern Ireland
had left the party open to capitulating to the insatiable
demands of Ian Paisley.

The West Belfast MP also accused the DUP of juvenile
posturing since his party’s historic endorsement of
policing at a special conference in Dublin last Sunday.

“That is exactly what it is,” he said.

“The DUP will further undermine confidence in politics
within unionism if they continue.

“Sinn Féin did what we did for republican reasons and for
democratic reasons, not for the DUP.

“We did what was for the common good and what was in the
national interest.

“The implications of our decision are twofold. We need to
get genuine civic democratically accountable policing and
the other is around the issue of political policing, where
we need to address the fact that people involved in
collusion may still be in the PSNI.

“The DUP, I think, are just play-acting around some of
these matters. I think that thinking republicans and
nationalists will not be unfocused by what is plaintive

In recent days, Mr Adams has said, in response to DUP
queries, that republicans should go to the police if they
have information about the murder two years ago of Belfast
father of two Robert McCartney, crimes such as rape, car
theft, aggravated burglary and attacks on the elderly.

He also said Sinn Féin would not stand in the way of any
republican who wanted to join the Police Service of
Northern Ireland.

His party’s decision to endorse policing was backed by over
90% of the delegates who attended last Sunday’s special
conference and was welcomed by the Irish and British
governments, who believe it could pave the way towards

DUP leader Ian Paisley and his colleagues have been more
cautious, recognising republicans have undergone a
significant shift in their ideology.

However, the DUP has insisted it still needs to be
convinced by actions on the ground that Sinn Féin’s public
support for policing is being matched by actions within
republican districts.

Senior DUP negotiator Nigel Dodds has also expressed
concern that there is still some equivocation by Sinn Féin
on certain policing issues like the passing on of
information about imminent attacks on the security forces
carried out by hardline republicans.

Sinn Féin’s move has also been criticised by former
comrades now outside the Provisional movement in parties
like Republican Sinn Féin and groups like Concerned

Former IRA gun-runner and ex-Sinn Féin executive member
Gerry McGeough, who last night launched his bid for a
Northern Ireland Assembly seat in the March 7 election in
the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency, claimed Mr
Adams’ party had now abandoned its goal of a united

He also said: “I actually feel vindicated by everything
which has been said since last Sunday’s ard fheis.

“I said no matter what Sinn Féin did it would not satisfy
the insatiable demands of the DUP.

“What we are witnessing now is the ongoing capitulation of
Sinn Féin, who have no option but to keep dancing to the
tune of the DUP and the British government.”

Mr Adams hoped the DUP would not go into the election
campaign reciting what he called a mindless mantra on

“Let’s talk about the future,” he said.

“Let’s deal with issues that are pressing down on people at
this time.

“Our position is very straightforward. There are two
contexts being set out by the two governments.

“The first is power-sharing arrangements on March 26, or,
if the DUP fails to sign up for that, we go into a
continuum of change in the form of partnership arrangements
from the two governments.

“I think it is obvious the best option for the North is the
first. It is accountable local ministers dealing with
issues such as hospitals, schools, poverty and rural

“But it is important that the process of change and other
political institutions are not held up if the DUP is not
prepared to work the power-sharing arrangements on March


Sinn Féin Press Blair On Collusion

Published: 1 February, 2007

A Sinn Féin delegation led by Gerry Adams including Chief
Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP, Newry and Armagh MP Conor
Murphy, Donegal councillor Padraig MacLochlainn and Dublin
MEP Mary Lou McDonald met with the British Prime Minister
Tony Blair in Downing Street.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Adams said:

"We raised the issue of the Irish Language Act with Mr
Blair. This is an important issue which needs to be moved
ahead. However the majority of this mornings meeting
concentrated on the issue of collusion. I sought this
meeting after the recent publication of the Police
Ombudsman‚s Report into collusion between the Special
Branch and the UVF in North Belfast. Collusion was clearly
an integral part of British government policy in Ireland
and successive British governments have covered it up.

"I reminded Mr Blair that 10 years ago when we first met
him in Downing Street we gave him a file on collusion and
in particular the murder of Pat Finucane and the role of
British Agent Brian Nelson. This morning I again raised
with him the Pat Finucane case. I met with the Finucane
family yesterday. They have seen no progress since Weston
Park in 2001 when an inquiry was promised and we raised
with Mr Blair the issue of Section 19 of the Inquiries Act
which would allow for restrictions on the availability of

"Conor Murphy, who earlier this week met with Raymond
McCord Snr. Raised with Mr Blair the desire of the McCord
family to meet with him to discuss the implications of the
Police Ombudsman Report. Mr Murphy also raised the
activities of the Glenane gang and specifically spoke about
the murders of the Reavey family whose brother we met with
last week.

"Padraig MacLochlainn presented Mr Blair with information
on the murder of Sinn Féin Councillor Eddie Fullerton in
Donegal in 1991and Mary Lou McDonald presented him with a
copy of the Barron Report into the Dublin/Monaghan bombs
and other instances of collusion in the 26 counties. Martin
McGuinness raised a number of specific cases with the
British Prime Minister including party councillors John
Davey and Bernard O‚Hagan and other related collusion cases
in South and East Derry.

"We challenged Mr Blair especially on the role of the DPP.
Four years ago John Stevens sent files on 25 individuals
recommending prosecutions at the collusion of his collusion
inquiry. Nothing has happened.

"Mr Blair needs to realise that this issue will not go
away. It needs to be properly dealt with. Sinn Féin intend
to keep this issue at the top of the political agenda.
Families who have suffered , whatever their view of what
should be done, all want an acknowledgement of this as a
British policy and the hurt caused to their families." ENDS


Mary Lou McDonald Presents Tony Blair With Oireachtas
Report On Collusion

Published: 1 February, 2007

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou
McDonald has presented British Prime Minister Tony Blair
with the latest report from the Oireachtas Justice
Committee on the Barron Inquiry which describes cross
border attacks by British surrogates as "international
terrorism". Ms. McDonald met Mr. Blair today when she
visited Downing Street as part of a Sinn Féin delegation
including Gerry Adams MP, Martin McGuinness MP, Conor
Murphy MP and Councillor Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.

Speaking after the meeting she said: "This morning I
presented Tony Blair with the latest report from the Joint
Oireachtas Committee on the Barron Inquiry which
investigated nine atrocities on both sides of the border
between 1974 and 1976 in which 18 people were killed and it
describes the acts as 'international terrorism'. It goes on
to state that people employed by the British administration
were 'engaged in the creation of violence and the
butchering of innocent victims' and it says the British
Cabinet at the time was 'aware of the level at which the
security forces had been infiltrated by terrorists'.

"The British authorities refused to co-operate in any
meaningful way with the Barron inquiries and the Oireachtas
Committee hearings despite overwhelming evidence of British
state complicity in murders and bombings throughout
Ireland. I hope this document may help the British Prime
Minister to understand that this is an international human
rights issue and that the British government must fulfil
its obligations, including to the bereaved and the
survivors. It is almost a year since the Dáil unanimously
passed a motion calling for a full independent inquiry into
the murder of Pat Finucane yet the British government still
refuses to establish such an inquiry.

"Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been too quick to accept Tony
Blair's refusal to co-operate with inquiries. It is not
enough for the Taoiseach of this state simply to request
the British Prime Minister's help in such matters. He must,
on behalf of the Irish people, demand that Tony Blair face
his responsibilities in relation to Britian's dirty war in
Ireland." ENDS


Durkan In 'Legal Action Threat'

Assets Recovery Agency deputy head Alan McQuillan has
threatened legal action against SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

He said he will press ahead unless Mr Durkan apologises for
comments made in a newspaper advert last week.

Mr Durkan suggested his party had influenced the
appointment of Sir Hugh Orde as PSNI chief constable - a
job that Alan McQuillan also applied for.

Mr McQuillan was one of two RUC assistant chief constables
who lost out to Sir Hugh.

In a letter published in the Irish News last week, Mr
Durkan said his party had "ensured that the Policing Board
appointed Hugh Orde - and not a policeman from the old RUC

Mr McQuillan claims the letter has damaged his professional
reputation, and attempts to link him to collusion with
loyalist paramilitaries.

'Written to SDLP'

His solicitors have written to the SDLP leader and called
on him to address the matter urgently by apologising for
the remarks - and Mr McQuillan has said he will sue for
defamation if he does not get a satisfactory response.

"For me, there are personal issue here," said Mr McQuillan.

"I have been appalled at what has happened in relation...
particularly to the letter Mr Durkan has chosen to publish.

"As a result of that, I have felt compelled to instruct
solicitors, and my solicitor Paul Tweed has written to the
SDLP and to Mr Durkan.

"We have asked for this matter to be addressed urgently and
I am afraid if it is not then we will have to consider
proceeding for defamation in this case.

"But I do genuinely hope that we don't have to go there and
that this matter can be resolved."

However, Mr Durkan said he has nothing to apologise for.

"He (Mr McQuillan) is not linked to collusion in that ad,"
he said.

"We do not link Alan McQuillan to collusion in any other
shape or form either - I can give him that assurance.

"I don't have to give him an apology for something we
haven't said, implied or suggested."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/01 18:33:26 GMT


Sinn Fein's New Stance On Police Doesn't Go Far Enough: Dodds

[Published: Thursday 1, February 2007 - 08:58]
By Chris Thornton

A senior DUP member branded Sinn Fein's current position on
policing as " totally unacceptable" last night -
potentially throwing a spanner into efforts to get the two
parties into Government within two months.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said Sinn Fein have to drop
their conditions for fully supporting the police because
they are "preventing progress" .

At a special ard fheis on Sunday, Sinn Fein members voted
to support the PSNI - but only after a power-sharing
Executive is formed and the DUP commit to the devolution of
justice powers.

The DUP say the Executive can be formed only after Sinn
Fein fully commits to policing.

Yesterday Downing Street said Sinn Fein has taken "huge
steps" in passing its ard fheis motion, urging people to
report crime and saying they would support young
nationalists who join the PSNI.

But Mr Dodds said republicans are "drawing a distinction
between what they describe as so-called 'civic policing'
and so-called 'political policing'.

"After the Sinn Fein Executive meeting on Tuesday Gerry
Adams was asked directly to call on republicans and
nationalists to speak to police if they had information
about impending attacks planned by dissident republicans.
He refused to do so," Mr Dodds said.

"Likewise Sinn Fein is making it clear that the
conditionality attached to their motion still stands. This
is totally unacceptable.

"Unless the conditionality is removed and the testing
periods can begin in earnest then they are preventing
progress being made.

"It is Sinn Fein who will be entirely responsible for lack
of progress if they continue to refuse to unconditionally
support policing in all its aspects."

© Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Scene Set To Break Free Of Direct Rule

[Published: Thursday 1, February 2007 - 10:23]

Northern Ireland has faced some crucial elections, but the
Assembly vote on March 7 promises to be the most important
yet. It will decide whether or not the two extremes of
unionism and nationalism - the DUP and Sinn Fein - can form
a workable devolved executive together.

If they cannot, the election could be disregarded and the
alternative would be a disastrous plan for British-Irish
direct rule.

That is the stark choice being put before the people, by
Tony Blair, in unprecedented terms. He and Bertie Ahern are
agreed that sufficient progress has been made since the St
Andrews Agreement to put it to the test. But if, " at any
point" in the run-up to the election or afterwards, it
appears that an executive cannot be formed, the prize of
devolution will be withdrawn.

Few parties or electorates have faced such a choice, but
then the conditions here are unique. Only a few months ago,
there seemed little chance that Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams
could agree sufficiently to work together, but negotiations
have created a genuine opportunity. Sinn Fein has committed
itself to support of the police and the rule of law, in a
historic turnaround, and the DUP has dropped its former
hostility to power-sharing.

Whether there is time for the two parties to close the
remaining gaps, before and after a polarised election,
remains a matter for speculation. The two governments will
be monitoring progress and must be convinced that a working
Assembly is a realistic prospect, to let it go ahead.

Now for the real challenge, as all restraints are removed
and the parties move into election mode. On the unionist
side, the DUP will claim credit for pushing republicans
hard and long enough to obtain not only the decommissioning
and dismantling of the IRA, but the transformation of Sinn
Fein into a law and order party, on paper. The result, they
must hope, will be the elimination of their pro-union
rivals, including the UUP.

For their part, Sinn Fein will emphasise their success in
facing down their own dissidents, as they prepare
themselves for government in both parts of Ireland. They've
done what they had to do - accepting the PSNI, in order to
hold it to account - and they will expect the gratitude of
the voters, north and south, as well as that of the two

Both parties will still be wary of their dissidents, and
harsher words will be spoken in the heat of the election
battle. Nevertheless, the scene has been set for Northern
Ireland to escape the confines of undemocratic direct rule
into a new era of local decision-making. Let's grasp it,

© Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Why Should IRA Be Exempt?

Fri, Feb 02, 2007

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde is right to claim that
the SDLP and Sinn Féin are using the police as a political
football, argues David Adams. With justification, he could
have gone further and accused both parties of rank

The SDLP has publicly boasted in a newspaper advertisement
of how they were responsible for Orde getting his job. They
say they used their position on the policing board to make
certain that no ex-RUC member was appointed following the
retirement of the previous chief constable, Sir Ronnie

How's that for a party that prides itself on its role in
delivering civil rights and equal opportunity for all and
which constantly demands that policing and justice be
beyond political interference?

Because of his previous position, and in light of the
Police Ombudsman's report into collusion, both Sinn Féin
and the SDLP are now demanding that Sir Ronnie Flanagan be
dismissed from his current post as Her Majesty's Chief
Inspector of Constabulary.

Despite the ombudsman stating that Flanagan co-operated
with her during the inquiry and no allegations of personal
wrongdoing having been levelled against him, they insist
that his previous job renders him unfit for public office.

This is particularly rich coming from Sinn Féin, which is
about to claim ministerial positions in a devolved
administration in Northern Ireland.

If Flanagan is unfit for public office because of what he
did previously, then, by the same criteria, how much more
so are some of those trying to drum him out of his job?

However, a broader problem involving the role of the Police
Ombudsman and the double standards of these political
parties goes way beyond the recent report into collusion.

For years now, nationalists and republicans have told
unionists that we all need to "put the past behind us" for
the sake of the peace process.

This sounds reasonable enough.

It hardly takes an expert in conflict resolution to realise
that if you keep raking over the past and revisiting old
grievances then you run a real risk of reigniting the
conflict. Self-evidently, you would imagine, this should
apply to all sides.

Part of the current problem in Northern Ireland is that it
doesn't. And, bizarrely, it is the very people who have
been doing the lecturing - and are still demanding that
unionists be prepared to leave the past behind - who seem
determined to revisit real and imagined grievances at every

It appears to unionists that what nationalists and
republicans are actually demanding is that the history of
the IRA be ignored, but no one else's.

The Police Ombudsman's office, we were led to believe, was
established to monitor the PSNI and investigate complaints
against the new police service made by members of the

Instead, it seems to have morphed into a kind of mini-truth

This role would be perfectly acceptable if, upon first
agreeing that we needed a truth commission, it were only
one of a number of such bodies that, between them, were
charged with examining all aspects of the conflict.

But that is not the case. What we have is a situation where
only the past actions of the police are scrutinised but
everyone else gets off scot-free.

Well, it actually amounts to a lot more than that. The
relatives of every nationalist person killed or injured
during the past 40 years - except, of course, those
murdered by republicans - can command a full investigation
and detailed report from the ombudsman simply by claiming
that they suspect there was police collusion with

The mainly, but not exclusively, unionist victims of the
IRA have no such avenue to the truth about who killed their
loved ones.

They are left to watch, in silence, as some of the authors
of their misfortune revel in their exemption from scrutiny.
Throughout last week, the people of Northern Ireland were
treated to the daily spectacle of Gerry Adams, Martin
McGuinness and various party apparatchiks lecturing them on
human rights violations by the police.

While republicans castigated the police on its past record,
their own infinitely more gruesome history was ignored by
everyone except the community that suffered most at their

Not once did any member of an embarrassingly acquiescent
media feel it necessary to challenge the blatant hypocrisy
on display.

For journalists to play along with drawing a line under the
past is one thing. It is quite another to sit mute while
taking lectures on human rights abuse from the previous
leaders of an organisation that committed countless acts of
terror, including mass murder.

Republicans cannot have it both ways.

If they insist on preaching about the past crimes of
others, then they should be asked hard questions about IRA

© 2007 The Irish Times


Opin: Reunification Is Solution To Partition Problem

By Jim Gibney

Overwhelming is the word that springs to mind to describe
the decision and the mood at Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis last
Sunday when more than 800 delegates backed the party
leadership’s policing proposal.

Overwhelming in terms of the historical departure for
republicans that support for the motion indicates.

Overwhelming emotionally for a people who lost so much at
the hands of the crown forces during a quarter of a century
of armed conflict; representatives of a people who endured
so much since the partition of Ireland.

Overwhelming in terms of the unprecedented number of people
at the conference. In 25 years of attending Ard Fheiseanna
I never saw such a crowd.

Gerry Adams captured in his speech the historical import of
the debate; Martin McGuinness the emotional trauma for
republicans; Mary Lou McDonald and Martina Anderson the
practical implications for republicans of adopting the
motion and Tom Hartley highlighted important ideas about
the relationship between the citizen, the police and the

Joanne Spain, one of Sinn Fein’s youngest candidates and a
possible TD the other side of the next southern election,
summed up where the struggle for a united Ireland is and
how far it has come when she said republicans would now
achieve political power in Ireland with a ‘ballot box in
both hands’.

I well remember a different Ireland, a different Ard Fheis,
a different point in the freedom struggle, some 25 years
ago and Danny Morrison’s famous declaration that
republicans would come to power using the ‘ballot box and
the armalite’.

Danny’s assertion spoke for a community at war steeled by
the hardship they had endured. But it was also visionary.
It marked a new phase in the struggle for independence. It
reflected a movement in transition and challenged the
traditional republican mindset of exclusively relying on
armed struggle.

Both phrases are separated not only by time but also by

However, without the indispensable and inherent reality of
Danny Morrison’s remark, that is the willingness and
determination of republicans to use armed struggle then
Joanne Spain’s remark would be less relevant than it
actually is.

It would not be possible for a young republican to urge
with credibility such a course of action were it not for
the IRA, who as Martin McGuinness said at the Ard Fheis,
“fought the British to a standstill”.

Furthermore, such a course of action would not be viable
but for the progress that nationalists have made over the
course of the peace process.

A political stage has been reached and this is reflected in
the institutional framework of

the Good Friday Agreement which allows republicans and
nationalists to work peacefully and democratically for a
united Ireland.

The commitment and determination to achieve this primary
objective was evident and tangible at Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis
last Sunday.

The decision taken by the delegates was a statement of
intent. It was about much more than policing. It was a
signal that as far as republicans are concerned there are
no more no-go areas for them.

Republicans would move into and make every institution of
political power answerable to the people. They would bring
with them their view that the fundamental problem in this
country is partition and the solution reunification.

Republicans inside the political and policing systems will
use and stretch these institutions to the outer limits of
their all-Ireland potential.

This approach of critically engaging with all institutions
will make the border irrelevant. It is a huge undertaking.
It requires the combined efforts of all nationalist parties
north and south led by a pro-active Irish government acting
at all times in the national interest.

Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis acted in the national interest as did
Gerry Adams when he said Sinn Fein would support
nationalists and republicans who joined the police while he
encouraged people to cooperate with the PSNI in dealing
with ordinary crime.

Sinn Fein will of course endeavour to foster a new and
different culture and ethos inside the PSNI, what Tom
Hartley described as “reshaping the relationship between
the citizen, the police and the state”.

That will take time. Here and now the national interest is
best served by the re-establishment of the Good Friday
Agreement institutions.


Drought Will Strike Southeast By 2020, Says EPA

Liam Reid, Political Reporter
Fri, Feb 02, 2007

A new scientific report has predicted that southeastern
parts of Ireland will suffer from drought within 15 years
as a result of climate change.

The report, to be published by the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) later this month, predicts significant climate
change impact on the country from 2020.

EPA deputy director general, Dr Padraic Larkin, said the
report would show that "increased storm intensity, more
intense rainfall during the winter months and prolonged dry
periods during the summer" are among the likely outcomes.

The report was drawn up for the EPA by climate change
experts at NUI Maynooth.

The experts, led by Dr John Sweeney, predict temperature
rises of an average of between one and 1.5 degrees above
1990 levels by 2020.

These will spark warmer, dryer summers in the southeast of
the country. The report warns of water shortages within
this region by 2020 unless action is taken.

It also predicts a significant increase in flooding risk,
particularly in northwestern regions because of an increase
in storm intensity across the country and rainfall levels
in the west.

The report goes into considerable detail in its
predictions, including what is expected to occur in certain
rivers. For example it estimates that the Boyne and
tributaries of the Liffey will experience a significant
drop in water flows during summer months, but will also
experience increased risk of flooding during other periods.

The warning comes as a UN panel of scientists and advisers
prepares to issue one of the most important reports to date
on climate change in Paris today.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Pictures Of The Past Become A Big Draw On The Internet

[Published: Thursday 1, February 2007 - 11:27]

By Matthew McCreary

Hunderds of unwanted family photographs will go under the
hammer in Belfast tonight as part of an unusual art

The display, which has been running at the Belfast Exposed
Gallery in the Cathedral Quarter for the past two months,
consists of old snaps and portraits which were bought from
the popular internet auction site eBay.

The photographs were then mounted in a special album and
put back on sale at eBay. Already the album has attracted
over 1,000 internet 'hits' from potential customers.

"The bidding has gone from 99p to over £100," said Belfast
Exposed exhibitions director Karen Downey.

"It's interesting to watch how photos that initially had no
market value are now considered valuable because of their
new status as contemporary art.

"We're having a live auction event in the gallery tonight.
The eBay auction which ends at 8pm will be broadcast and we
will also auction off the pictures which are on the walls
of the gallery, with lots of photos starting at 99p."

The exhibition - entitled Question for Seller - originated
from Edinburgh-based artist Nicky Bird's interest in family
photographs which appear on eBay.

She bought photographs no-one else had bid for, with the
connotation that they were unwanted, and therefore had no
significant value. She then questioned the seller about the
background of the photos and how they had come across them,
with their answers forming part of the exhibition.

For more information on tonight's auction visit or call 9023 0965.

© Belfast Telegraph

To Subscribe to Irish Aires Google News List, click Here.
To Unsub from Irish Aires Google News List, click Here
For options visit:

Or join our Irish Aires Yahoo Group, Click here

To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste into a News Reader)

To February Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
To Searches & Sources of Other Irish News
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?