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February 28, 2007

SF: DUP Must Accept Result

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 02/28/07 SF: DUP Must Accept Result
SF 02/28/07 SF Manifesto-Delivering For Ireland's Future
GU 02/28/07 Paisley Casts Fresh Doubt On Devolution Deal
IT 03/01/07 McCartney Says Paisley Wants 'Deal'
IT 03/01/07 Name Of Game Is Getting Vote Out
IT 03/01/07 Constituency Profile: East Derry
BB 02/28/07 Key Battlegrounds In NI Poll
BB 02/28/07 Parties Hit By More Resignations
IE 02/28/07 The March Of Dollars


DUP Must Accept Result: Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said the DUP demanded
the assembly election so must accept its outcome.

Launching the party's election manifesto, Mr Adams made 10
commitments to the voters.

They included a call for the Stormont assembly to be given
power to vary taxes.

Sinn Fein's manifesto commits the party to work towards
restoring the assembly, an executive and an all-Ireland
ministerial council with full powers.

Questioned about whether an executive dominated by the DUP
and Sinn Fein could work, Mr Adams said he wasn't going to
answer for the DUP. But he said Ian Paisley should accept
the outcome of an election which his party wanted.

"On the doorsteps there is a clear demand that locally
elected politicians face up to our responsibilities. That
is also the Sinn Fein position.

"People of all political persuasions want to see the
British direct rule ministers sent home.

"There is no reason why this should not happen by 26
March," he said.

Sinn Fein's manifesto calls for a œ10bn peace dividend.

The party wants any new assembly to be given new powers to
vary local taxes.

Sinn Fein say they are opposed to water charges wand want
more debate about water reform.

Questioned about opposition from republicans angered by
Sinn Fein's policy switch on policing, Mr Adams said the
vast majority supported the party's position.

The 10 commitments Sinn Fein makes in its manifesto are:

To restore political institutions; full delivery on Good
Friday Agreement; expand all-Ireland agenda; increase all-
Ireland implementation bodies; island-wide referendum on
Irish unity

Demand a œ10bn 10-year peace dividend; tax varying powers
for assembly; executive borrowing facility; oppose water
charges and privatisation; increase financial support for
indigenous small and medium businesses and social economy

Promote equal rights for all; time-framed strategy to
eliminate child poverty; commissioner for older people

Rural regeneration strategy; remove 'UK' status from food
exports; Ireland GM free; Reject PPS 14 and reform planning
to allow rural people to live within own community; End
cutbacks in provision of public services to rural

Remove barriers to GP access in rural areas and expand all-
Ireland GP out-of-hours service; reduce waiting lists,
managed through basis of clinical need alone; oppose
privatisation of services and staff; fully implement
regional suicide strategy

End academic selection - replace with parental choice and
pupil profiles to transfer to all ability post primary
education; extra money to schools where measured social and
educational need high

Tackle social housing crisis and waiting lists through
annual target of 5,000 new builds per year - target 70,000
new homes for social housing by 2025; compulsory purchase
of vacant properties; legislation to ensure that 30% of
private development social or affordable

All-Ireland environmental protection agency; ban on
municipal incinerators; introduce plastic bag levy

Civic policing; transfer of powers; truth and victims;
dismantle structures of collusion; end use of plastic
bullets; enhance community safety measures

Opposition to the war in Iraq; support for peace processes
in the Middle East and Basque Country; support for debt
cancellation and fair trade

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/28 16:28:24 GMT


Sinn Fein Manifesto Launch - Delivering For Ireland's

Download PDF

Published: 28 February, 2007

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP today launched the
party's Assembly election manifesto.

Speaking at the event Mr Adams said:

"This manifesto is Sinn Fein's contract with the

It is our agenda for government.

It contains the pledges we want to take into the heart of
fully functioning political institutions.

As an all-Ireland party, Sinn Fein is fighting two
elections at this time, the undeclared one in the south
where this party is an increasingly viable option for
voters looking for positive change and this one in the

On the doorsteps there is a clear demand that locally
elected politicians face up to our responsibilities. That
is also the Sinn Fein position.

People of all political persuasions want to see the British
Direct Rule Ministers sent home. There is no reason why
this should not happen by March 26th.

There is an onus on local politicians to deliver on
services for the elderly, the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

There is a need for an anti-poverty strategy, and for first
class health and education services.

There is also a duty to oppose the water charges and the
unfair rates burden being imposed by British direct Rule

Sinn Fein is making pledges on all these issues.

And we have identified ten commitments for change from our
very comprehensive manifesto.

We also continue to engage with the two governments to
secure a substantial peace dividend. We were the first
party to put this on the agenda and we will work with the
other parties to achieve it. We expect to meet with the
British Chancellor in the coming weeks.

Politics has to be about empowering people. It is about
making a positive difference to peoples lives.

We take a strategic view about how to accomplish this.

For example, at our Ard Fheis last year I set out the
objectives for our negotiations. These were:

:: To end the suspension of the political institutions

:: To ensure there would be no dilution of the Good Friday

:: Full implementation of the outstanding aspects of the

:: A conclusion to the debate on policing

The recent Sinn Fein Ard Fheis on Policing is proof once
again of how Sinn Fein delivers, openly, democratically, in
the national interest and in a way that opens up the
possibility for more progress.

Another example of how we plan ahead is to be found in our
Irish language manifesto in the last election.

In that manifesto - Ag Cur Gaelge Arais i mBeal an Phobail
- we promised to bring forward an Irish Language Act.

We won that commitment last October from the British
government at St. Andrews.

And our focus now is in getting the strongest possible Act
as quickly as possible.

On March 7th the voters will have the opportunity to make a
judgement on our stewardship of all these issues.

Others make promises - we make commitments - we keep our

Sinn Fein delivers strong effective representation in every
political forum on this island.

We are delivering both locally and nationally. We want to
continue this work.

We want to confront poverty; sectarianism; racism.

We want a rights' based society, where all citizens are
treated equally.

We are now seeking a mandate to go back into government.

We are seeking a mandate for this manifesto 'Delivering for
Ireland's Future' and for our ten commitments, which range
from support for a united Ireland of equals, through
support for indigenous small and medium businesses, through
rural regeneration, against privatisation of health
services, for a suicide prevention strategy, for protection
for the environment, and opposition to globalisation and
the war in Iraq and Afghanistan." ENDS

Note to Editors

Sinn Fein's 10 commitments

POLITICAL PROCESS: Restore political institutions; Full
delivery on Good Friday Agreement; Expand all-Ireland
agenda; Increase All-Ireland Implementation Bodies; Island
wide referendum on Irish Unity; Promote a United Ireland.

ECONOMY: œ10 billion 10 year Peace Dividend; Tax Varying
Powers for Assembly; Executive Borrowing Facility NOT the
Reinvestment and Reform Initiative (RRI) negotiated by Mark
Durkan and David Trimble that led to the Water charges;
Oppose Water Charges and privatisation - open debate and
consultation and ensure that under funding is met by
British government; Increase financial support for
indigenous small and medium businesses and social economy
projects and for Research and Development and island wide
networking & clustering to boost innovation.

EQUALITY: Promote equal rights for all. Ring fence
percentage of budget to tackle economic inequality and
poverty - ensure all resources are targeted on the basis of
need; Time framed Strategy to eliminate Child Poverty;
Commissioner for Older People.

RURAL AFFAIRS: Rural Regeneration Strategy; Remove 'UK'
status from food exports; Ireland GM free; Reject PPS 14
and reform planning to allow rural people to live within
own community; End cutbacks in provision of public services
to rural communities.

HEALTH: Resource Bairbre de Br£n's 'Investing for Health'
Strategy; Remove barriers to GP access in Rural areas and
expand all-Ireland GP Out-of-Hours Service; Reduce waiting
lists, managed through basis of clinical need alone; Oppose
Privatisation of services and staff; Fully implement
regional Suicide Strategy.

EDUCATION: End academic selection - replace with parental
choice and Pupil Profiles to transfer to all ability post
primary education; extra money to schools where measured
social and educational need high; legislation to guarantee
rights of children with autism and specific needs; Resource
Integrated and Irish Medium education.

HOUSING: Tackle social housing crisis and waiting lists
through annual target of 5,000 new builds per year - target
70,00 new homes for social housing by 2025; Compulsory
Purchase of vacant properties; legislation to ensure that
30% of private development social or affordable.

ENVIRONMENT: All-Ireland Environmental Protection Agency;
Ban on municipal incinerators; Introduce Plastic Bag Levy.

POLICING AND JUSTICE: Civic Policing; Transfer of Powers;
Truth and Victims; dismantle structures of collusion; end
use of plastic bullets; enhance community safety measures.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Opposition to the war in Iraq;
Support for Peace Processes in the Middle East and Basque
Country; Support for debt cancellation and fair trade.


Executive Summary

:: Commence harmonisation of tax rates on an island-wide
basis, within a progressive taxation framework.

Supporting local business development

:: Provide increased financial support for indigenous small
and medium enterprises and for social economy projects.

:: Provide increased financial support for R&D and for
islandwide networking and clustering to boost innovation.

Tackling discrimination

:: Create incentives for investment and implement an
investment programme in areas of high unemployment or
social deprivation, for example, West of the Bann, the
border areas and North and West Belfast.

:: Decentralise government departments to communities West
of the Bann and in the border counties.

Eliminating poverty

:: Ringfence a meaningful proportion of the annual budget
for programmes aimed at tackling economic inequality and

:: Ensure that all resources are targeted on the basis of
objective need.

:: Tackle ongoing employment-related discrimination against
nationalists through a time-framed strategy to eliminate
the unemployment differential.

Enhancing workers rights

:: Establish an effective inspection and enforcement system
to protect all workers, particularly young apprentices and
migrant workers, against exploitation and abuse.

:: Launch a multilingual public education campaign on
workers' rights and employers' responsibilities and
actively encourage trade union recognition, membership and

:: Effectively enforce the existing minimum wage and argue
for its increase.

:: Ensure that public spending does not encourage
exploitation of workers, locally or internationally.

Rural regeneration

:: Agree a comprehensive, fully integrated, properly
resourced Rural Regeneration Strategy.

:: Remove 'UK' status from our food exports, and integrate
the agri-food industry and agricultural services on an all-
Ireland basis.

:: Develop an island-wide animal health strategy, and keep
Ireland as a whole GM crop-free.

:: Radically reform the planning service to protect the
right of rural people to live within their own community.

:: End cutbacks in the provision of public services to rural
communities and provide long-term funding for development
of rural community infrastructure and capacity.

Defending Public Services,

Delivering Rights-Based


Opposing Water Charges, Privatisation, Double-Taxation

:: Oppose the imposition of water charges and the
privatisation of the water service, and any other forms of
regressive double-taxation.

:: Ensure the water charges legislation is deferred to the
incoming Assembly and Executive to allow for an open debate
and consultation around the issue of water reform.

:: Ensure that the legacy costs of the failure to invest in
water and sewerage are covered by the British Government.


:: Fully resource and implement the 'Investing for Health'

:: Remove the barrier to proper GP access in border areas
through enhanced all-Ireland cooperation in GP Out of Hours

:: Dramatically reduce or eliminate treatment waiting lists,
and ensure that all waiting lists are managed on the basis
of clinical need alone.

:: Oppose privatisation of healthcare services and staff.

:: Fully implement the regional Suicide Prevention Strategy
and promote a coordinated all-Ireland approach.

:: Support the introduction of legislation to protect
workers and the public from tobacco smoke in the workplace
like that introduced in the 26 Counties, and to raise the
minimum age for the purchase of tobacco products from 16 to
18 years of age.


:: Finally end academic selection - using parental
preference and a Pupil Profile to inform parents of
children transferring to all ability (11-18) post-primary

:: Oppose cuts in vital front-line education services, and
ensure additional investment in schools and children where
the measured social and educational need of the school
population is high.

:: Provide appropriate supports within mainstream classrooms
for children with additional needs.

:: Introduce legislation to guarantee the rights of those on
the autistic spectrum, agree an Autism Strategy.

:: Properly resource integrated and Irish Medium education.


:: Eliminate the housing waiting list by launching a major
renewed investment in a comprehensive social housing
programme, resulting in an annual new build of 5,000 units
and 70,000 new homes by 2025.

:: Introduce a radical approach to maximise development of
social and affordable housing by using: available land
banks, starting with former British Army and former RUC and
PSNI barracks and brownfield sites in government ownership;
Compulsory Purchase Orders on derelict properties vacant
for more than 12 months; and a legislative requirement that
at least 30% of all private development sites are earmarked
for social and affordable housing.

:: Establish a Cross-Departmental Ministerial Task Force on
Fuel Poverty.

:: Respect, protect and promote the rights of Travellers to
adequate and appropriate housing.


:: Establish an all-Ireland Environmental Protection Agency
to drive forward a strong programme of enforcement.

:: Ban the development of municipal incinerators in Ireland
and close landfill sites that have not been properly
engineered to minimise the danger of contamination.

:: Extend the plastic bag levy on an all-Ireland basis.

:: Build major national recycling facilities and support
government intervention to create markets for recyclables.

:: Mandate and support all councils to produce waste
strategies including a minimum target of 50% recycling and
a total ban on disposal of compostable waste in landfills
by 2010.

Arts and culture

:: End the funding crisis in arts and culture and reach a
minimum investment target of 1% total budgetary spend.

:: Devote significant support to cooperatively-run and
community arts projects including community festivals, and
particularly those that innovate to actively promote social
inclusion and oppose sectarianism and racism.

Irish language

:: Establish a Gaeltacht Quarter in Belfast.

:: Achieve the introduction of an Irish Language Act, as
proposed in the St. Andrews Agreement,that will give Irish
speakers in the Six Counties at least the same rights as
those in the rest of Ireland.

:: Establish a Commissioner for the Irish Language in the

:: Establish a third level Irish language college that will
develop, deliver and regulate a range of courses through
the medium of Irish.

Justice and Community Safety

:: Achieve fully democratically accountable Civic Policing.

:: Ensure the transfer of powers on policing and justice to
the power-sharing Executive and All-Ireland Ministerial
Council by May 2008 as set out in the St. Andrews

:: Hold the British Government to their commitment to
separate MI5 from civic policing structures in the Six

:: Secure truth, justice and equal treatment for all victims
and survivors.

:: Expose and dismantle the structures of collusion and
state murder inside the PSNI, Military Intelligence and

:: End the use of plastic bullets.

:: Enhance Community Safety measures.


Paisley Casts Fresh Doubt On Devolution Deal

Owen Bowcott
Thursday March 1, 2007
The Guardian

The Democratic Unionist party leader, Ian Paisley,
yesterday cast fresh doubt on devolution being achieved
before the government's imposed deadline of March 26.

On an election walkabout in the County Down seaside town of
Bangor, the 80-year-old implied that Sinn Fein had not yet
moved far enough to enable his party to enter into a power-
sharing executive with republicans.

His comments, though qualified, suggest there will be a
further round of intensive negotiations immediately after
the election before any deal can be reached.

Tony Blair and the Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain,
have repeatedly warned that if agreement to share power
cannot be reached by March 26 then the assembly will be
dissolved and a new form of direct rule - with greater
involvement by Dublin - put in place.

The DUP has said it still needs "delivery" from Sinn Fein
on its commitment to work with the Police Service of
Northern Ireland. It has not specified precisely what form
that delivery must take.

Asked whether the deadline would be met, Mr Paisley said:
"I think the 26th of March is a date too early. [Sinn Fein]
have made a distinction between 'civic' policing and
'political' policing. They have broken their word.

"That [deadline] is a dream that the secretary of state has
had. It's a nightmare now because he'll never have that.
But, of course, let me just add, if the IRA delivers we
could have anything."


McCartney Says Paisley Wants 'Deal'

Scott Jamison
Thu, Mar 01, 2007

The Rev Ian Paisley "wants to do a deal by March 26th",
according to anti-St Andrews Agreement unionist Bob

The United Kingdom Unionist Party leader was speaking at
the launch of his party's manifesto. His party will field
13 candidates, with Mr McCartney standing in six
constituencies himself.

He said he believed "family and other factors" would mean
Dr Paisley would form an executive with Sinn Fein.

"For a long time now he [Paisley] has been knocking at the
door of the establishment and now I believe he wants to be
let in."

Mr McCartney attempted to clear up confusion about what
would happen should he be elected in more than one
constituency, saying he would give the additional salaries
he would get to charity.

He also said if he were elected to several seats and
Northern Secretary Peter Hain tried to stop him casting
more than one vote, he would take Mr Hain to court.

The DUP has accused Mr McCartney of being a "vote-splitter"
by taking its votes away and helping Sinn Fein in the
process. He rejects this claim.

"How can a party that is totally dedicated to preventing
Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams and company ever being in
government be helping them, when a party such as the DUP,
which has reversed the policies of a lifetime to welcome
them, is not helping them?"

The Workers' Party called for the restoration of Stormont
during its manifesto launch, while also calling for non-
payment of water charges.

It said it would also end the practice of designation in
the Assembly, which, it said, was the cause of "political

Meanwhile, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson has welcomed
the Conservative Party's pledge to remove the designation
system in the Assembly.

"We hope that the sentiments expressed in this area in the
Conservative Party manifesto are not mere rhetoric and will
be implemented if the party wins the next election."

Dawn Purvis, PUP leader and candidate for East Belfast,
said she was "delighted" to attend Tuesday's question-and-
answer session with first-time voters at Lagan College.

"Politics in Northern Ireland often lacks new ideas, so who
better to provide those ideas than our young people?

"We should listen and better value our young people and
first-time voters. This event provided just that
opportunity, and it should not be squandered."

Marion Smith, UUP candidate for North Down, has made a plea
for a good turnout on polling day. "People who want to see
progress must get out and vote on the day."

Meanwhile, North Down Alliance candidate Stephen Farry has
criticised the SDLP over its proposals for a referendum
regarding the Border.

"The last thing that Northern Ireland needs is a Border

c 2007 The Irish Times


Name Of Game Is Getting Vote Out

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor, in Coleraine
Thu, Mar 01, 2007

Names are important in Northern Ireland, as the choice of
the neutral-sounding "Foyle" for the Derry city
constituency indicates.

Such delicate choices were seemingly forgotten when it
comes to East Londonderry - or East Derry, as it is on the
nationalist side.

Accuracy, too, is a victim, as this constituency stretches
into north Co Antrim. Perhaps we should not be too
surprised by that, as Strangford town is not in the
Strangford constituency.

Ulster Unionist and SDLP canvassers walk a little more
spritely these days, hopeful if not confident that the
worst of the bad days are behind them.

David McClarty, an incumbent UUP Assembly member, is pretty
sure that his stay-at-home voters will turn out.

Energised by what he calls the "fracturing" of the DUP
monolith, the leadership's insistence on post-dated
resignation letters and the threat of fines for breaking
rank over sharing power with Sinn Fein, he reckons that the
Ulster Unionists can only gain.

Lost UUP votes to the DUP in 2003 were only "lent", he
says, and will return.

More importantly, the party is motivated, in an election
campaign seemingly devoid of motivation, by a craving for
an end to stalemate.

Unionists are fed up with the procrastination of the
leading unionist party, he says. They haven't delivered and
have avoided all the hard decisions, he claims. "Unionists
are more comfortable that the union is secure, and that's
why you'll hear so much on the doorsteps about water
charges, tax, education and health," he says.

He is right on that score.

SDLP stalwart John Dallat hears of little else as he knocks
the doors of working-class Coleraine, pressing the voters
not to stay at home on March 7th.

One woman tells him angrily that she will not vote as she's
"had it with the lot of them". But her protests soften with
the counter-argument that doing nothing on election day is
the best way of ensuring there is no change.

"She'll vote, all right," says Dallat, closing the gate
behind him.

The names on his well-worked electoral register seem to
share a despair at continued stalemate at Stormont while
"other issues" are played down.

His running-mate is another of the next generation SDLP
candidates. Orla Beattie is a first-time contestant. Her
motivation for standing? "Because the time was right." She
may not make it this time, as there are two nationalist
quotas to be shared among the SDLP and Sinn Fein, but the
27-year-old teacher is looking at contests ahead.

Francie Brolly cautions against talk of a rising tide for
the SDLP and Ulster Unionists.

He is looking for "those people impressed by Sinn Fein's
moves on policing" and for a payback for the IRA decision
to end its campaign and to sort out the weapons issue.

Joining him on the ticket is Billy Leonard, a former SDLP
member with a Protestant background.

SDLP heads still shake at mention of the defection, and
perhaps some voters wonder about him too. But the Leonard
performance, especially in the more unionist end of the
constituency, could tell us much about the state of
republican support after a series of vital Sinn Fein
initiatives since the last election.

The figure of local MP Gregory Campbell still looms large
over the proceedings here. He pinched the Westminster seat
from the UUP and has consolidated it. The task now for the
DUP is to hold the two seats they already possess and to
push for a third.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Constituency Profile: East Derry

Thu, Mar 01, 2007

NATIONALIST BATTLEGROUND:Privately, sources in both Sinn
Fein and the SDLP seem to agree that there are just two
nationalist quotas in East Derry and that the two parties
will retain their single seats. The SDLP will be hoping to
win back some votes from Sinn Fein following the disastrous
2003 election. Intervening elections in 2005 for
Westminster and local government, when it fared better,
provide the party with some hope.

UNIONIST BATTLEGROUND:The DUP could mount a reasonable bid
for a third seat, but that would mean that the Ulster
Unionists are misreading the situation on the ground and
have overstated the drift back to their party. Other
factors cloud the picture. Leslie Cubbitt, a well-known
local, is standing as an independent unionist opposed to
the St Andrews Agreement. The Alliance candidate, Barney
Fitzpatrick, may well improve on the showing of his
predecessor. Much may hinge on voter turnout.

WILD CARD:The Cubbitt factor, the turnout and a possible
growth in the appeal of the Alliance Party may well be
worth keeping an eye on, but there is an unspoken consensus
that the situation will remain 2 DUP, 2 UUP and a seat each
for Sinn Fein and SDLP.


(% share of first-preference votes; Quota = 15%)

*Gregory Campbell (DUP)4,789 (14.0%)
*David McClarty (UUP)4,069 (11.9%)
Francis Brolly (SF) 4,019(11.7%)
George Robinson (DUP)3,466 (10.1%)
*John Dallat (SDLP)3,190 (9.3%)
Norman Hillis (UUP) 2,292(6.7%)

(*Denotes those elected to Assembly in 1998)

c 2007 The Irish Times


Key Battlegrounds In NI Poll

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

Besides arguing that they needed a new manifesto to reflect
the St Andrews Agreement, the DUP wanted a spring election
to press home their advantage over their rivals the Ulster

On the nationalist side there was less enthusiasm for this
poll, but Sinn Fein will hope that they can reinforce their
position as the dominant nationalist party.

Apart from the usual dogfights between the DUP and the
Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and Sinn Fein, observers will be
watching for what impact is made by unionists opposed to
power-sharing and Irish republicans against any co-
operation with the police.

Some new faces could also make an interesting impact in
certain constituencies.

'Better deal'

Within unionism, East Belfast brings together some leading

It's the Westminster constituency of DUP deputy leader
Peter Robinson, generally considered his party's chief
strategist in favour of restoring devolution.

Sir Reg Empey is also a veteran of East Belfast politics
but this will be his first election since becoming Ulster
Unionist leader.

Sir Reg will no doubt criticise the DUP for stealing the
Ulster Unionists' clothes, whilst Peter Robinson will argue
that he has negotiated a better deal than David Trimble.

This election will also see the entry of Dawn Purvis into
the fray. After the sudden death of David Ervine, Ms Purvis
became leader of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionists.

It was generally assumed that Mr Ervine would have an
uphill struggle retaining the PUP's only assembly seat - it
will now be up to Ms Purvis to keep his legacy alive.

The Alliance deputy leader, Naomi Long, will also be
looking to consolidate her position.

Within nationalism, Newry and Armagh could be one to watch.
Sinn Fein deselected two of their outgoing MLAs, Patricia
O'Rawe and Davy Hyland.

Subsequently, Davy Hyland resigned from the party's
assembly group, expressing opposition to the leadership's
stance on policing.

He is now standing as an independent. If he holds his seat,
it could be at the expense of his former colleagues.

The SDLP will be hopeful of holding on to their seat. On
the unionist side, the DUP's Paul Berry topped the poll in
the last assembly election.

But that was before he resigned from the party after
newspaper coverage of his private life.

He is running again as an independent unionist on an anti-
St Andrews Agreement ticket, but the DUP will still be
hopeful of retaining one seat, as will the Ulster Unionist
deputy leader Danny Kennedy.

South Belfast provided a surprise in the last Westminster
election when the unionist vote split down the middle
allowing the SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell to take
the seat.

In 2003, the Ulster Unionists took two seats there and the
DUP one.

But this time the DUP will be trying to establish itself as
the stronger unionist party in order to set a precedent for
future Westminster elections.

The DUP's Mark Robinson isn't running again. Its two
candidates, Jimmy Spratt and Christopher Stalford, will be
trying to pick off either the former Ulster Unionist
minister, Michael McGimpsey, or his colleague Esmond

On the nationalist side, Alasdair McDonnell and his SDLP
colleague, Carmel Hanna, will once again face the former
Belfast Sinn Fein mayor, Alec Maskey.

In a crowded field, observers will be fascinated to see
whether the Alliance candidate can take a seat - Chinese
welfare campaigner Anna Lo is the first ethnic minority
candidate to stand for election in Northern Ireland.

In North Belfast another interesting face has joined the
race - anti-collusion campaigner Raymond McCord was so
dismayed by the response of local unionists to the Police
Ombudsman's report on the murder of his son that he has
decided to run.

He only got 218 votes in the 2003 election but may benefit
from the widespread publicity given to the Police
Ombudsman's recent report into the UVF murder of his son.

The local DUP MP, Nigel Dodds, who has sounded increasingly
sceptical about the St Andrews Agreement will lead his
party's campaign alongside Nelson McCausland, with the
Ulster Unionist Policing Board member, Fred Cobain, seeking
to defend his seat.

Within nationalism Sinn Fein will be looking to retain two
seats, with their policing spokesman Gerry Kelly once again
pitted against the SDLP barrister Alban Maginness.

One party leader who will have to work hard to keep his
seat is Alliance leader David Ford.

He only scraped home in South Antrim with the help of
unionist transfers after Sinn Fein's Martin Meehan received
more first preference votes.

Now Sinn Fein has moved Mitchel McLaughlin to South Antrim
from Foyle in an attempt to win a seat there for the first

Within the DUP, there has been a fair degree of turnover
with the deselection of two outgoing MLAs Paul Girvan and
Wilson Clyde.

Their replacements, Mel Lucas and Trevor Clarke, are both
thought to be sceptical about the St Andrews Agreement, as
is the local DUP MP William McCrea.

The Ulster Unionist ticket is led by the former MP, David
Burnside, who is also dubious about power-sharing.

Next door in North Antrim all eyes will be on the DUP
leader, Ian Paisley, given his key role in deciding whether
a power-sharing executive will return in March.

The DUP will probably hold its three seats, but it will be
interesting to see who dares to unfurl an anti-St Andrews
Agreement banner in the DUP leader's home patch.

On the nationalist side there is considerable turnover with
the retirement of the SDLP veteran Sean Farren and the
stepping down of Sinn Fein's Philip McGuigan.

Other seats to watch include North Down where the anti-St
Andrews Agreement UK Unionist Bob McCartney is running.

He will hope for a strong showing, although some observers
feel he might have done better if he had moved to a more
hardline unionist area.

In South Down , two potential future ministers Sinn Fein's
Catriona Ruane and the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie will battle
it out in the hope of setting a precedent for a future
Westminster contest.

In the west, Sinn Fein face a number of challenges from
anti-PSNI candidates like the former IRA man Gerry McGeough
who is standing in Fermanagh .

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/28 10:26:48 GMT


Parties Hit By More Resignations

Ballymena DUP councillor Davy Tweed is leaving the party
over the prospect of it going into government with Sinn

Mr Tweed said such a move by the DUP would "not so much be
a backward step as a complete somersault".

Meanwhile, Fermanagh Sinn Fein councillor Poilin Ui Cathain
is quitting her seat over Sinn Fein's decision to support
the police.

She said she hoped her reservations about the move would be
proven wrong.

Mr Tweed, a former Ulster and Ireland rugby player, said he
sent a letter of resignation to the party on Tuesday but
had yet to receive a reply.

He said he felt betrayed by the DUP.

He said the party was "falsifying its intentions" and would
be "far better coming out and being open and transparent
with people".

Mr Tweed said the DUP had attacked former Ulster Unionist
leader David Trimble over the Good Friday Agreement, but in
his view the St Andrews Agreement was worse.

He said as more people got to know the details of St
Andrews, they were becoming opposed to the DUP's stance.

Mr Tweed will stay on Ballymena Borough Council as an


Sinn Fein's Ms Ui Cathain, a councillor for Erne West, said
her decision to step down from the council was prompted by
Sinn Fein's backing for the PSNI at a special party
conference in Dublin last month.

She has not left the party.

She told the Fermanagh Herald newspaper she was unable to
support the party's new policy on policing.

"I sincerely hope that my reservations regarding Sinn
Fein's support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland
will be proven wrong," she said.

"I believe that this decision is now irreversible.
Therefore while I can afford to be wrong, I don't believe
that Sinn Fein has that luxury."

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said it was comfortable with the
councillor's decision to resign her seat, saying it
respected her point of view.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/28 20:08:14 GMT


The March Of Dollars

Enda Kenny
By Ray O'Hanlon

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has never disguised the fact
that he sees the Irish in America as an untapped and under-
utilized resource for his party.

Rather than cancel an engagement in New York last year,
when an emergency debate broke out in the D il, Kenny
fulfilled his commitment by flying into Kennedy Airport,
attending the event and flying back to Ireland that same

Kenny will be reckoning on a little more time to deal with
jet lag next week when he presides over a Fine Gael
fundraising event in Manhattan.

Such events are not unprecedented, but the fundraising
field in New York and other U.S. cities has been a mostly
Sinn Fein shade of green since the mid-1990s and the
effective withdrawal around that time of Fianna F il from
its well established American fundraising operation.

In more recent times, however, Sinn Fein's position as
being virtually alone in terms of large scale public
fundraising in the U.S. has been diluted by the emerging
interest of other parties including Fine Gael, the SDLP and
even the Ulster Unionists who staged a fundraising
reception in Manhattan in the fall of 2004.

Sinn Fein is planning an upcoming fundraiser by way of a
$250-a-head breakfast at the Hilton Hotel in Washington,
D.C. on March 15. The party's main annual U.S. fundraising
event is its New York dinner in November.

The SDLP, meanwhile, is lining up its supporters for a
high-flying fundraising dinner at the Rainbow Room in
Rockefeller Plaza at the end of March.

The gathering will be a celebration of SDLP co-founder John
Hume's 70th birthday, but is also being seen as a harbinger
of a longer term party strategy to more consistently draw
on Irish American sympathy and financial support.

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell confirmed to the Echo
that Hume will be attending the Rainbow Room event.

McDonnell himself will also be traveling, as will party
leader Mark Durkan.

The Fine Gael gathering, billed as an "Inaugural Gala
Fundraising Dinner," will take place at Harbour Lights at
Manhattan's South Street Seaport.

It comes just a couple of months before the opening salvos
of an Irish general election campaign in which Fine Gael
will be aiming to topple the current Fianna
F il/Progressive Democrats coalition.

The glossy four-page invitation confidently states on the
cover that the March 8 Fine Gael New York dinner will be
hosted by "Enda Kenny TD, Leader of Fine Gael and Future
Taoiseach of Ireland."

New York-based Pat McGettrick is the primary organizer on
this side of the Atlantic for Fine Gael.

The response to invitations to the $150 dollar-a-plate
Harbour Lights dinner was "pretty good," up until press
time this week, McGettrick said.

"We are getting calls from cities outside New York,
including Chicago," he added.

As was the case with Sinn Fein when that party was first
allowed fundraise in 1995, Fine Gael has now formally
registered itself with the Department of Justice in
Washington, D.C. as required under the Foreign Agents
Registration Act.

The Harbour Lights invitation states that the event is
being organized by a New York-based group called
"Supporters of Fine Gael Inc."

In the invitation, Enda Kenny makes a direct pitch to his
prospective new American support base.

"This is our first fundraiser in the United States in over
a decade, but I hope it will be an annual event whereby
Irish citizens have a chance to support the future of Irish
democracy, even from a distance," he writes.

"Coming as I do from the West of Ireland, I appreciate the
contribution of the Irish in America. I congratulate you
and pledge myself to work in the interests of our people at
all times," the Castlebar-born Kenny concludes.

This story appeared in the issue of February 28 - March 6,

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