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February 14, 2007

Unionist Could Hold Multiple Seats

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 02/14/07 Unionist 'Could Hold' Multiple Seats
BN 02/14/07 Unionists Standing For Multiple Positions
IE 02/14/07 Obama Would Personally Engage in Peace Process
TO 02/15/07 Brits Urges US To Roll Out Red Carpet For Adams
SF 02/14/07 SF: Scrap Legislation Against Ex-Prisoners
BT 02/14/07 DUP Praises SF Aid To Police In Murder Probe
BT 02/14/07 DUP Demands Strong Stormont
IT 02/15/07 DUP Forced To Confront Threat From McCartney
BT 02/14/07 DUP 'Did Side Deal On School Test Plan'
BT 02/14/07 UUP Uses Election Website
SF 02/15/07 Loyalist Eager To See Assembly 'Up & Running'
IT 02/14/07 Taoiseach Guarantee Dáil Collusion Debate
BN 02/14/07 Man Admits Part In 'Love Ulster Parade' Riots
BN 02/14/07 MEPs Condemn Rendition Flight 'Collusion'
BT 02/14/07 Unionists at Top Of Air Fare Expenses League
BT 02/14/07 Cocaine Use Rising In Cork - Survey
BN 02/14/07 Curtain Falls On Andrews Lane Theatre
BB 02/14/07 O'Sullivan Ready For 'Last Lap'


Unionist 'Could Hold' Multiple Seats

Wed, Feb 14, 2007

UK Unionist leader Robert McCartney would be able to sit in
the Northern Ireland Assembly as a representative for more
than one constituency, the Northern Ireland Office
confirmed tonight.

However, he was warned that should he decide to resign one
of his seats if elected on March 7 it would trigger a by-
election instead of going to one of his party colleagues.

The Northern Ireland Office confirmed that the UK Unionist
leader, who has created a stir by putting his name forward
for election in six constituencies, would not be entitled
to the same rights as other Assembly members holding only
one seat if they resigned.

In a statement branded as ludicrous by Mr McCartney, a
Northern Ireland Office spokesperson said:

"He is entitled to stand in more than one constituency as
is every other candidate.

"However his understanding of what would happen should he
be elected in more than one constituency is not correct.

"In the event this happens and Mr McCartney chooses to
resign more than one of his seats it would not be filled by
one of his substitutes. "It would lead instead to a by-
election under Section 7 of the Northern

Ireland Assembly (Election) Order 2001. "It would be open
to Mr McCartney to keep his additional seats if he chooses
as there is nothing expressly forbidding this in the
legislation or Assembly Standing Orders."

The UK Unionist leader frantically dashed across Northern
Ireland to put his name forward in six constituencies -
North Down, North Belfast, Lagan Valley, West Tyrone,
Fermanagh and South Tyrone and South Antrim.

He is not the only candidate standing in more than one

Rainbow George of the Make Politicians History Campaign is
contesting the four Belfast constituencies while Billie
Frazer, a campaigner against the IRA, has put his name
forward for Foyle and Newry and Armagh.

c 2007


Unionist Standing In Multiple Seats Defends Position

14/02/2007 - 07:26:32

(Poster's Note: This article fails to point out that the
DUP William McCrea also is running for two seats. Below is
a summary of the members running for duplicate seats:

Mid-Ulster McCrea William DUP
South Antrim McCrea William DUP

Foyle Frazer William IND
Newry & Armagh Frazer William IND

East Belfast George Rainbow MPH
North Belfast George Rainbow MPH
South Belfast George Rainbow MPH
West Belfast George Rainbow MPH

Fermanagh & S Tyrone McCartney Robert UKUP
Lagan Valley McCartney Robert UKUP
North Belfast McCartney Robert UKUP
North Down McCartney Robert UKUP
South Antrim McCartney Robert UKUP
West Tyrone McCartney Robert UKUP)

A Unionist leader standing in six constituencies in the
North's Assembly Elections today warned the British
government against interfering if he is elected to more
than one seat.

UK Unionist leader Robert McCartney broke new ground by
putting his name forward in six constituencies - North
Down, North Belfast, South Antrim, Lagan Valley, West
Tyrone and Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

He claimed the move was to enable people to challenge any
attempt by the Reverend Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists
to go into government with Sinn F‚in.

"My decision to stand in these constituencies was to give
the unionist people a chance to challenge and express their
distaste for what is happening," he said.

"If I am elected in more than one constituency, it is my
understanding that I could sign on and then hand in a
letter of resignation in the Assembly for one of the
constituencies, which would contain the substitute names of
people who could replace me.

"If (Northern Ireland Secretary) Peter Hain should pass
some legislation or engage in some legal debate over this,
think of the political overtones of scandal should he try
to remove an elected representative.

"What is most important to me is that people in these
constituencies can register their concerns about the DUP
and the St Andrews Agreement by casting their votes for my
colleagues and for me. Even if I am knocked out in some
constituencies, it is important that people have got an
opportunity there to make their feelings known."

Mr McCartney is not the only candidate standing in more
than one constituency.

Independent unionist Willie Frazer has decided to run in
two constituencies - Newry and Armagh and in Foyle.

Rainbow George of the Make Politicians History campaign is
also contesting for constituencies.

A total of 256 candidates will bid for 108 Assembly seats
in 18 constituencies when voters go to the polls on March

A total of 256 candidates will bid for 108 Assembly seats
in 18 constituencies when voters go to the polls on March

So far the campaign has been relatively low key.

However, the Reverend Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists
will be bidding to once again become the largest grouping
in the next Assembly and have put forward the largest
number of candidates with 46.

Sinn F‚in also has its sights set on one of the top two
posts in the Assembly and is running 38 candidates.

However, following the party's decision to encourage
republicans for the first time in the history of the North
to cooperate with the police, the party will also face
challenges from former colleagues.

Republican Sinn F‚in, which split from Gerry Adams' party
21 years ago, has put forward six candidates who have vowed
not to take their seats should they win them in the
Assembly Election.

Former IRA prisoner Gerry McGeough, Paul McGlinchey and
Peggy O'Hara, whose son Patsy was among the 10 republican
prisoners who died in the 1981 Maze Prison hunger strike,
have also challenged Sinn F‚in candidates.

A number of independent candidates are also challenging the
established parties in the North.

Dr Kieran Deeney will be defending an Assembly seat in West

In North Belfast, Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond
Junior's murder in 1997 triggered Police Ombudsman Nuala
O'Loan's recent devastating report on Royal Ulster
Constabulary Special Branch's handling of informers in a
loyalist murder gang, will attract considerable attention.

The DUP and Sinn F‚in's main challenges, however, will come
from the rival Ulster Unionists and the SDLP.


Obama's Irish pitch

Senator would 'personally engage' on peace process

By Ray O'Hanlon

Within 48 hours of his officially declaring his candidacy
for the presidency of the United States, Senator Barack
Obama issued his first foreign policy statement on a
country other than Iraq. And it was on Ireland.

Obama, who launched his presidential bid before an
enthusiastic crowd in Springfield, Ill., on Saturday,
promised in his statement, issued Monday afternoon of this
week, that as president he would "personally engage" where
appropriate in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

"The gains of the last decade were in part made possible by
U.S. engagement. Going forward, we should continue the
practice of having a special envoy for Northern Ireland,
and the our president should personally engage on where
America can play a constructive role, working closely with
the Irish taoiseach, the British prime minister, and party
leaders in Northern Ireland," Obama said.

Obama's statement was released in the form of an op-ed.
Entitled "On Irish Issues," the statement drew an analogy
between Obama's own immigrant roots and those of the Irish
in America.

Crucially, the man who could be the nation's first Africa-
American president -- and the first son of a foreign-born
parent to hold the office since the 19th century -- pledged
his support for comprehensive immigration reform in
addition to promising an active presidency in relation to
the North.

Obama also emphasized the importance of economic and
cultural ties between the United States and Ireland.

Here is the statement in full.

"My family's story may be familiar to Irish Americans -- a
distant homeland, a journey across an ocean in search of
opportunity. Like many Americans of Irish descent, I too
have made the journey to my family's homeland.

"In 1987, I first traveled to Kenya, the birthplace of my
father. I discovered a warm sense of community. I
discovered a land with an unforgettably haunting beauty. I
discovered a people determined to grab hold of hope. In
short, I made discoveries that are familiar to scores of
Irish Americans.

"The determined optimism of the Irish people has enabled
them to grab hold of hope in the United States, from South
Boston to the south side of Chicago. It's an optimism
expressed in three issues so important to Irish Americans
today: a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, an American
immigration policy that keeps faith with our tradition of
offering opportunity to those who seek it, and strong
economic and cultural ties between our two nations.

"As I chair the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on
Europe, and as I travel around the country learning from
and listening to the American people, I will be advancing
ideas and policies to meet these goals.

"After years of hard-earned progress, Northern Ireland is
now poised to take another step forward. The IRA has
abandoned violence and arms and Sinn Fein has now voted to
support the PSNI. They have, in the words of Tony Blair,
made a commitment that 'has been historic and has been

"To seize this hopeful moment, the Democratic Unionist
party should take the next step outlined in the St.
Andrew's agreement: a commitment to a power-sharing
executive after March elections, so Northern Ireland can
continue the process of peace that its people so clearly
wish to follow.

"The gains of the last decade were in part made possible by
U.S. engagement. Going forward, we should continue the
practice of having a special envoy for Northern Ireland,
and the our president should personally engage on where
America can play a constructive role, working closely with
the Irish Taoiseach, the British prime minister, and party
leaders in Northern Ireland.

"We must also pursue immigration policies that keep open
the doors of opportunity in our own country. My father's
experience has informed my own views on the issue, and I
have seen the enormous contributions that Irish immigrants
have made to this country. Last summer, I joined hundreds
of thousands of people in Chicago to march on behalf of
immigration reform, walking shoulder to shoulder with many
Irish Americans who shared their own personal stories of
hope and opportunity.

"Yet our system is broken, and fixing it demands a
comprehensive approach. Last year, I reached across the
aisle to work with Republicans on this. Our proposal would
strengthen border security and prohibit employers from
hiring illegal immigrants, but it also recognizes that the
deportation of 12 million people is impossible.

"That's why it proposes a tough, earned path to citizenship
for those in the United States illegally; replaces the
flood of undocumented workers with a new flow of
guestworkers; and ensures that law-abiding immigrants are
welcome to pursue their dreams.

"The ties between America and Ireland go far beyond
bloodlines. U.S. investment in Ireland helped create the
Celtic Tiger, and Ireland's economic success has in turn
led to a boom in Irish investment in the United States.
Incalculable cultural exchanges draw us together, as do
common causes and common beliefs.

"In 1963, John F. Kennedy made his own journey in reverse
and addressed the Irish Parliament. He cited the principles
that unite our countries, quoting George Bernard Shaw's
command to 'dream of things that never were, and ask why
not,' and paying tribute to an Ireland that 'sent their
doctors and technicians and soldiers and priests to help
other lands to keep their liberty alive.'

"Today, President Kennedy would be pleased - but not
surprised - to find the Irish working to lift up other
lands from east Africa to east Asia, and to find an Ireland
that has come so very far on its own. The story of our two
countries is constantly evolving and joined together. I
welcome this opportunity to be a part of that story, and
look forward to hearing your concerns in the months ahead."

Obama's "personally engage" line was being seen this week
as both a nod to President Bill Clinton's hands-on style
with regard to Northern Ireland, and an echo of commitments
given by Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry, who
ultimately lost the 2004 presidential campaign.

This story appeared in the issue of February 14 -20, 2007


February 15, 2007

Britain Urges US To Roll Out The Red Carpet For Adams

Tom Baldwin in Washington

Britain is pressing President Bush to roll out the red
carpet at the White House for both Sinn Fein and Unionist
leaders next month in an attempt to keep the Northern
Ireland peace process on track.

The US Administration has, without fanfare, recently lifted
a two-year-old fundraising ban imposed on Sinn Fein in
America in recognition of the progress made on
decommissioning weapons and cooperating with the Police
Service of Northern Ireland.

But the St Patrick's Day celebration at the White House
next month is taking on extra significance, being so soon
before the March 26 deadline for the resumption of a power-
sharing devolved government at Stormont.

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, on a visit to
Washington, yesterday ruled out the Government giving
Northern Ireland parties more time to resolve differences.
"It would not be possible to change the legislation even if
we wanted to," he said. A delay would put the peace process
into "cold storage until at least after the next general
election, which is two years away".

The Northern Ireland Secretary has flown to the US capital
this week to ask the Bush Administration and Congress to

In 2005 Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, was banned
from the White House altogether, and last year - although
invited to the Shamrock ceremony - was accorded second
class treatment, not being allowed to meet Mr Bush
personally. Instead, the President again chose to spend
time with relatives of people who had been killed by the

But British sources are now hopeful that both the First
Minister-Designate, the Rev Ian Pailsey, and the Deputy
First Minister-Designate, Martin McGuinness, will this time
be invited to meet Mr Bush.

Mr Hain has during his visit held talks with Paula Dobrian-
sky, Mr Bush's envoy on Northern Ireland, as well as with
senior figures on Capitol Hill such as the Republican
senator John McCain and the Democrat senator Hillary
Clinton, who are both among the front-runners in the
forthcoming presidential race.

"I've been really struck by the unanimity that now exists
across the parties and the Irish-American community that
this is the moment and that the 26th really is D-Day," the
Northern Ireland Secretary said.

In a New Statesman interview last month Mr Hain described
Mr Bush's time in office as "the most right-wing American
Administration, if not ever, then in living memory".

Yesterday Mr Hain said that these comments had not caused
him any problems with the Administration, adding that
"President Bush has been incredibly helpful - he has bent
over backwards" on Northern Ireland issues over the past
six years. "What I was really trying to do in that
interview was say that the Democrats are our sister party."

On the basis of his meetings this week, Mr Hain was asked
whom he would prefer to be the next president - Mr McCain
or Mrs Clinton? "Both are formidable politicians. Hillary
Clinton is incredibly able and obviously she's a Democrat.
It would be fantastic to have a woman president," he


Sinn F‚in Call For Scrapping Of Legislation That
Discriminates Against Ex-Prisoners

Ms Ruane said:

"Sinn F‚in has been following the case involving the Simon
Community and its unlawful discrimination against two
former political prisoners with close interest. I raised
this issue with the Equality Commission only last week in
the context of encouraging the Commission to continue to
support this vital test case through to the Court of Appeal
and the European Court itself if necessary.

"Sinn F‚in believes that Article 2(4) of the Fair
Employment and Treatment Order that specifically excludes
protection from discrimination to a political opinion which
supports the use of violence for political ends - allowed
the Simon Community to withdraw their original job offers.
The recent court challenge found that the Simon Community
was in breach of its own recruitment and selection
procedures so it is difficult to see how a Tribunal could
have allowed Article 2(4) to stand given the highly
subjective way it has been used in this case.

"Sinn F‚in believes that Article 2(4) should be scrapped.
It is highly subjective and evidently open to further
possible abuse by other employers not only against former
prisoners and indeed against anyone should employers feel
safe enough to invoke this article.

"This case has also highlighted the need for the
forthcoming Single Equality Bill to contain new anti-
discrimination ground to protect former prisoners from such
discrimination in employment and other areas of public life
where their rights continue to be denied." ENDS


DUP Praises Sinn Fein Aid To Police In Murder Probe

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 08:17]
By Chris Thornton

The DUP welcomed police praise last night for Sinn Fein's
help in a murder investigation - but said "there's still a
long way to go". The PSNI said that Sinn Fein had given
"very positive" assistance to police dealing with the
murder of taxi driver Stiofan Loughran.

Mr Loughran, a 41-year-old father of four, died after being
stabbed in the town's Derrybeg estate last Thursday. His
funeral took place yesterday.

Michael Jason Smith (18), of Main Avenue, Newry, has been
remanded in custody accused of his murder.

Yesterday, PSNI Chief Superintendent Bobby Hunniford said
Sinn Fein's assistance had enabled them to deal with "a
very difficult situation in a much more normal manner and
have it resolved at the scene a lot quicker" .

DUP MP Nigel Dodds - whose party says there must be a
"testing period" of Sinn Fein's support for policing - said
he welcomed the police statement.

"I welcome any move forward by Sinn Fein," he said. "It's
positive that we're seeing some change.

"Now we want to see what they will do about what they call
the political elements of policing - why do they have to
wait?" Mr Dodds said.

"Let them go the full hog and give evidence in relation to
the threats from dissidents and the Omagh bombing.

"We welcome progress but there's still a long way to go.
When will they give the green light on a dossier about the
McCartney murder?

"They need to do more."

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain welcomed the news
that Sinn Fein was encouraging cooperation with the police
in the Loughran murder inquiry.

"It is extremely welcome to hear Bobby Hunniford, a highly
respected police commander say this," he said.

"It is very encouraging following the leadership shown by
Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly on the
policing issue.

"It is encouraging to hear people are co-operating with
police in an area along the border like Newry and in places
like Crossmaglen.

"I hope that momentum continues now that there is support
for policing among nationalists, unionists and republicans.

"This creates a positive climate for progress and a
successful Assembly Election."

c Belfast Telegraph


DUP Demands Strong Stormont

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 11:04]
By Noel McAdam

The DUP is to demand a stronger default mechanism to help
prevent a future Executive collapsing into crisis.

The party's manifesto will also make an improved peace
dividend package from Chancellor Gordon Brown a pre-
condition for a devolution deal.

According to party sources, the manifesto - due to be
launched next week - will in effect throw down the gauntlet
to the Government, which has warned it could still pull the
plug on the election.

But the party calculates Tony Blair will decide to press
ahead and it is clear many major issues will be left to
negotiations after the March 7 poll.

The default mechanism which could allow for the automatic
expulsion of Executive ministers will be opposed by both
Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

Deputy leader Peter Robinson said today, however: "It is
not just Sinn Fein that has to deliver. We require the
Government to deliver on the matters we have been
discussing with them.

"Again much progress has been made but we expect and need a
satisfactory financial package for the province before
restoration of devolution - we need the tools to do the job
in a manner which can make a difference."

The East Belfast MP added: "We have to sign off on the
other outstanding matters we have worked up with government
over recent months including the sanction arrangements to
deal with any default by Sinn Fein."

Another party source said: "The manifesto is not going to
do down well in Downing Street. Not only will it demand a
default mechanism, it will also be very clear about the
very nature of mandatory coalition, and the D'Hondt
mechanism (for selecting ministers).

"In effect a definite mechanism for the removal of D'Hondt
will also be a condition for government."

It is understood the wording in the manifesto was altered
by the intervention of some of the so-called "12 Apostles"
which lead to the unanimous agreement of the party
executive on the document last week.

The "apostles", including MEP Jim Allister and MPs Nigel
Dodds, Gregory Campbell, David Simpson and William McCrea,
issued a statement on the day party leader Ian Paisley was
said by the Government to have indicated his willingness to
share the First Minister's Office with Martin McGuinness.

The statement was originally intended for the Assembly
session interrupted by the Michael Stone attack.

At a briefing for political journalists today, Mr Robinson
added when the current "claw-back and stabilise phase is
delivered" the DUP strategy would move to creating lasting
and robust democratic structures " while strengthening our
place within the United Kingdom".

c Belfast Telegraph


DUP Forced To Confront Threat From McCartney

Thu, Feb 15, 2007

Overview:Ian Paisley brought us out to Castlereagh Hills
golf club for a full Ulster fry yesterday morning while Sir
Reg Empey treated us to coffee and biscuits at the Ulster
Unionist HQ in east Belfast in the afternoon. Oh, the sweet
life of a political journalist in Northern Ireland, writes
Gerry Moriarty

But, as we all know, there's no such thing as a free lunch,
or breakfast, and both Dr Paisley and Sir Reg had messages
to sell. It was Valentine's Day but the DUP leader wasn't
thinking of love, he was thinking of massacre - of the
Ulster Unionist Party, and anybody else who would dare
threaten his quest for DUP political hegemony.

UKUP leader Robert McCartney, for instance, who is
campaigning against the DUP on a No-deal with Sinn F‚in
ticket, and who wouldn't mind Martin McGuinness being first
minister, so there'll never be a first minister, if you
follow the logic, because unionists couldn't tolerate such
an eventuality.

Sinn F‚in politicians were happy yesterday to stir the mix
by agreeing that yes, Mr McCartney could be correct, that
Sinn F‚in could be the lead party on polling day.

Rather maddening for Dr Paisley and his colleagues. Senior
DUP sources, however, reckon that ultimately Mr McCartney's
strategy will be self-defeating. "Any unionist seen as
trying to help Sinn F‚in win more votes than the DUP will
be punished in the polls because that would be too bitterly
symbolic for any unionist to wear," said one senior party

Behind the scenes party strategists accept that Mr
McCartney and other deal opponents will inflict some damage
on the DUP. "We figure we could lose 3 per cent of our
vote," said one senior source. "But we expect to make gains
from the centre ground by about 7 per cent. That is what
our own studies and polling is telling us, that we can make
a net gain of 4 per cent." There's an element of calculated
risk here which is interesting because it shows the DUP is
willing to move from safe ground to try to get this deal
over the line.

Sir Reg was laying down a challenge to Dr Paisley as well.
He is convinced that the majority of unionists believe
there is enough on the table from Sinn F‚in to justify
entering into a powersharing executive on March 26th but
that the DUP is so fractured on the issue it is sending out
an incoherent message on the doorsteps. Certainly, from
joining early canvasses there is little evidence of deep
unionist opposition to powersharing (see South Belfast
report on this page).

It is indeed very difficult to establish a good compass fix
on what will happen after the election, which could be
bewildering unionists. One moment you're listening to the
DUP hard men and women and you think Dr Paisley just won't
be in a position to strike a deal by March 26th because the
likes of William McCrea and Jim Allister won't let him.

The next you're listening to Peter Robinson or Jeffrey
Donaldson and you feel that agreement by the deadline is
definitely achievable, even though they keep using the line
that it is for Sinn F‚in to prove it is up for
powersharing, not the other way around.

Against all this there a danger that a confused message
could prompt unionists, if not to vote for Mr McCartney, to
stay away from the polls, which could be much more damaging
for the DUP. Pressure is now falling on the DUP strategists
to start softening its policy and make clear - or at least
clearer - that by March 26th powersharing with Sinn F‚in
can happen.

c 2007 The Irish Times


DUP 'Did Side Deal On School Test Plan'

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 10:22]
By Kathryn Torney

A bitter row developed today after three main parties
confirmed they did not know that schools may be allowed to
set their own entrance tests - until it was revealed by the
Belfast Telegraph.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson told the Telegraph on Friday that a
provision was made during the St Andrews negotiations in
October for schools to set their own tests if a restored
Assembly fails to reach agreement on an 11-plus

However, this was today rejected by the Ulster Unionists,
the SDLP and Sinn Fein who say they were not informed.

It prompted the Ulster Unionists to accuse the Northern
Ireland Office of doing a side deal at St Andrews.

And Sinn Fein spokesman Barry McElduff said Martin
McGuinness was likely to raise the issue with Prime
Minister Tony Blair.

The possibility of secondary and grammar schools setting
their own admissions tests was confirmed by the Department
of Education last week.

Mr Wilson said that schools being able to set their own
tests was "an implication of what the Government agreed
with us at St Andrews" and that this was later clarified by
the NIO.

He added that it was not his party's problem if other
parties were " daft enough not to seek clarification".

UUP education spokesman, David McNarry, said: "We think the
DUP has done a behind- the-scenes deal with the Government
at St Andrews and the Belfast Telegraph has blown the lid
on it.

"I would like the Education minister to meet with my party
leader to explain what has happened and to give some
clarification to parents and teachers.

"I know that I won't get satisfaction on this issue but if
I am blessed with the support to be restored to the
Assembly, I will be waving the front page of Friday's
Belfast Telegraph in the Assembly and demanding a debate."

Mr McElduff said: "I have already asked Martin McGuinness
to raise this with senior British Government officials to
ask for clarification on the state of play. I am hoping
that he will raise the matter during ongoing political
negotiations which will include discussions with Tony

The SDLP's Dominic Bradley said: "I know that there was
talk of this option after the St Andrews talks, but there
was no official confirmation whatsoever at the time of it
being true."

Mr Wilson said: "We raised the possibility of schools
setting their own tests during the sub-group. It was also
in our paper. The other politicians may not have believed
us, but they were aware of it. It is logical that if there
is no agreed criteria, schools would use whatever criteria
they wanted. This was our understanding from St Andrews. If
the other parties were daft enough not to seek
clarification that is their problem, not ours.

"I don't have any regret or feeling of embarrassment that
we did not spell this out to them."

Alliance Party whose education spokeswoman Naomi Long said
she was aware of the possibility of schools setting tests.

Education minister Maria Eagle told the Belfast Telegraph:
"I want to make the position absolutely clear for all the
political parties. There has been no change in the
Government's policy on school admissions since Parliament
approved the Education Order (NI) in 2006. There is no plan
for schools to set their own admissions criteria without
Government regulation.

"Local politicians asked to be given responsibility for
these decisions and we provided for this in legislation.
The message is clear - politicians must work together, once
the Assembly is restored, to reach agreement on the
criteria schools will use to admit pupils."

c Belfast Telegraph


UUP Uses Election Website To Reach All Sections Of Society

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 11:07]

The Ulster Unionist Party today launched an Assembly
campaign website,, which includes a
sneak preview of its election broadcast.

Leader Sir Reg Empey said: "Using the internet to
communicate with our audience is a central part of our
campaign strategy. It is one more way for us to reach out
to people from all areas and all sections of our society."

Sinn Fein West Tyrone candidate Barry McElduff has backed
further education lecturers in their pay dispute. "The
bottom line is that the employers have already agreed to
the parity of pay demand. They need to move decisively on
implementing this agreement," he said.

Independent North Down candidate Chris Carter warned it
would be 'utterly wrong' if the DUP's manifesto forces the
Government to call off the Assembly election.

"No one party must be allowed by the Government to dictate
the course of any election in this way," he said.

Ulster Unionist South Belfast candidate Esmond Birnie hit
out at 'secretive' Northern Ireland Office and Treasury
'asset valuations' and 'rates of return' to calculate the
looming water charges.

"If it emerges extra revenue is required, water metering
has yet to be properly explored. The Direct Rule
administration ruled it out without proper consideration,"
he said.

South Down Labour Party of Northern Ireland candidate
Malachi Cush said, while Ireland now has 30,000
millionaires, one-in-three of the population in the
province are poor.

"Young people are finding it impossible to obtain
affordable houses at a time of exorbitant rising property
prices," he said.

The SDLP has claimed to have included the highest number of
female candidates. Leader Mark Durkan said: "Women are
around half the population. So why shouldn't they hold half
the Assembly seats?"

The candidates are: Orla Beattie in East Londonderry; Orla
Black, North Antrim; Mary Bradley, Foyle; Jo Deehan, West
Tyrone; Marietta Farrell, Lagan Valley; Carmel Hanna, South
Belfast; Sharon Haughey, Newry and Armagh; Dolores Kelly,
Upper Bann; Kate Lagan, Mid Ulster; Noreen McClelland,
South Antrim; Mary Muldoon, East Belfast; Helen Quigley,
Foyle; Margaret Ritchie in South Down and Margaret Walsh in
West Belfast.

c Belfast Telegraph


Voters In Loyalist Area Eager To See Assembly 'Up And

Gerry Moriarty
Thu, Feb 15, 2007

South Belfast:It's curious the way people talk. "As long as
you're all working together, isn't that what's important?"
the pointedly reasonable woman on the doorstep asks DUP
candidate Jimmy Spratt.

He agrees that it's important to work together. Indeed he
does. After all, he is the DUP mayor of Castlereagh and for
many years served in the RUC and on its representative
body. For working together, Spratt's your man, undoubtedly.

"As long as you're working together," repeats the woman
with polite insistence.

"Absolutely," says Spratt, as the little circular verbal
dance ensues.

The woman and Spratt each know what the other is saying.
She's saying, between the lines, "Will, you just get on
with running the place, even if it is with Sinn F‚in."

Spratt understands that but can't acknowledge it directly.
There's a protocol and a leadership diktat to be observed:
nothing specific on powersharing until after polling day -
if then.

We're tramping around the Rathmore estate area, off Finaghy
Road South in the South Belfast constituency, a mainly
loyalist area.

"You can certainly depend on my vote," says Victor Gourley.

Why so upfront and enthusiastic, The Irish Timesasks?
"Because I think this is a very worthy candidate. He has
done great service for this area, and for the RUC," he
adds, addressing Spratt directly.

And does Gourley have a view as to whether the DUP should
share power with Sinn F‚in after the election? "Sinn F‚in
are elected; there should be powersharing," he says,
straight and to the point, as is his nature, which we
quickly discovered.

Now if Gourley and the woman's comments were an aberration,
it would be wrong to major on their points of view. But
here, in a loyalist area over a few hours of hard
canvassing, nobody is making play of the tribal issues
apart from saying explicitly or implicitly, "Give our head
peace and get on with it".

Spratt is reasonably confident that he and his running
partner, Christopher Stalford, will be elected to make a
gain for the DUP in South Belfast. "I can't believe the
Ulster Unionists are running three candidates," he says of
the UUP, as if the main unionist opposition were intent on
gifting the DUP that extra seat.

"Splitter Spratt has got it wrong," insists former Stormont
minister Michael McGimpsey. Proportional representation
will see him and either outgoing MLA Esmond Birnie or
former Belfast lord mayor Robert Stoker being elected, he

The "Splitter" tag came about when Spratt ran against
McGimpsey in the Westminster election two years ago,
allowing SDLP Assembly candidate Alasdair McDonnell to come
through the middle and become the first nationalist MP for
the constituency.

"There's a DUP nervousness out there about whether or not
they are going to do the deal," he says, when canvassing in
the mixed middle-class Cairns Hill estate. People just
don't know where they are with the DUP, and that will be to
the UUP's advantage in the constituency, McGimpsey feels.

A mile or so up the road in Primrose Hill, Anna Lo is
canvassing for Alliance, focusing on the Chinese families
living in the middle-class estate, of which there are at
least 14. Lo and Carol Kwok chat away in Cantonese as
Kwok's children watch a Chinese television station. Kwok,
married with two children, has never voted before. But she
will this time, and for Lo. "She says she will tell all her
friends to do the same," says Lo.

"At least you have some policies," a homegrown Northern
Ireland woman tells Lo. The pair discuss water rates,
political accountability, and the crucifying costs for
their children of managing their university debts. "Before
it was the Troubles that drove young people out of Northern
Ireland. Now it is the huge cost of living here," says the
woman, as Lo nods sympathetically.

MP Alasdair McDonnell and Carmel Hanna, also a former
Stormont minister, have split the constituency down the
middle and - "so far," says Hanna - are observing each
other's patches. There's a distant Glens of Antrim
relationship between them by marriage, but the rivalry
between the pair is fierce, and even joked about by local
SDLP folk. It's that competitiveness which gives them a
good chance of holding their two seats, Hanna says.

Sinn F‚in's Alex Maskey has been pounding around middle-
class, mixed community of Stranmillis. Some of the doors he
calls to are professional unionists. Like Gourley, he says
he is convinced of one fact: "The DUP's last Assembly
manifesto was for a fair deal, not for no deal. They could
pay a high price if they fluff this opportunity because,
the unionists I have managed to engage with, I am very,
very sure that they want the Assembly up and running."

c 2007 The Irish Times


Taoiseach Must Guarantee D il Debate On Collusion - O

Published: 14 February, 2007

Sinn F‚in TD Aengus O Snodaigh has called on the Taoiseach
to give a guarantee that a D il debate on collusion will
take place before the end of the Government's term of
office. Deputy O Snodaigh was speaking today after Patrick
McEntee SC requested an extension of one month before he
publishes his report into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings of
1974 sparking fears among the families of victims of
collusion that a debate will not take place before the end
of this D il.

Deputy O Snodaigh said, "There are widespread fears among
relatives and friends of victims of collusion and among
surviving victims and their families, that the extension
requested by McEntee today will mean there will not be a
debate in the D il this side of an election. I am calling
on the Taoiseach to give a guarantee that this will not be
the case. The D il debate on collusion must top the agenda
after St. Patrick's Day, by which time the McEntee report
should be published. If that means calling a special
sitting on a Friday or during Easter week then so be it.

"The debate must be full and thorough and therefore must be
free from any overly restrictive Government guillotine such
as has been applied to previous debates. The government
needs to set aside at least one full day for the debate
preferably on a special sitting day to accommodate the
families many of whom will wish to travel to Dublin to be
in attendance.

"Sinn F‚in met with many of these families at a special
conference here in Dublin on Saturday. It is clear from
that conference that hurt felt by those families is as
strong today as ever and is driving and will continue to
drive their campaign to find the truth surrounding the
circumstances that took the lives of their loved ones."


Man Admits Part In 'Love Ulster Parade' Riots

14/02/2007 - 14:35:14

A west Dublin man has admitted taking part in a riot at the
"Love Ulster Parade" in the city centre last year.

Mark Freer, 29, of Russell View, Jobstown, pleaded guilty
at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to using or threatening to
use violent behaviour together with others on O'Connell
Street on February 22, 2006.

Judge Katherine Delahunt remanded Freer on continuing bail
for sentencing later when evidence in the case will be

Meanwhile, a Westmeath man has been remanded for sentence
for his role in a same riot.

John Saunders, 39, Galway Road, Kinnegad pleaded guilty at
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to using or threatening to
use violent behaviour together with others on February 22,
2006 in O'Connell Street.

Judge Katherine Delahunt remanded Saunders on continuing
bail for sentencing later when evidence of the offence will
be heard.


MEPs Condemn Rendition Flight 'Collusion'

14/02/2007 - 14:11:30

MEPs today joined condemnation of Ireland and other
European governments accused of colluding in secret CIA
operations in the wake of the terrorist attacks on America
on September 11 2001.

A report approved in Strasbourg after a year-long inquiry
says more than 1,000 covert flights operated by the CIA
have flown into European airspace or stopped over at
European airports since then.

The so-called "extraordinary rendition" flights have been
taking alleged terrorists all over the world for
interrogation - including to countries not bound by any
human rights code in the treatment of suspects.

The UK Government is singled out for co-operating with the
CIA in sending three UK residents on rendition fights for
questioning in connection with alleged terrorism.

Today's report carries no legal weight, and follows a
separate report by human rights watchdog the Council of
Europe last year which said the CIA ran a "global spider's
web" of rendition flights, with European countries acting
as staging posts.

The European Parliament report says the volume of the CIA
flights using European airspace or airports was greatest in
Ireland, Germany and the UK.


Ulster MPs Close To Top Of Air Fare Expenses League

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 10:29]
By David Gordon

Northern Ireland MPs have predictably come close to the top
of a parliamentary league table for air fare expenses.

A breakdown of Commons travel payments has been made public
for the first time, following a two-year freedom of
information dispute.

It showed that MPs between them claimed almost œ2m on car
mileage in 2005/06, about œ1.5m on trains, around œ1m on
flights and more than œ45,000 worth of taxi fares. As
expected, members from Northern Ireland and the north of
Scotland had the highest air fare totals.

The House's largest individual flights claim of œ34,347 was
from Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael, who represents
the remote constituency of Orkney and Shetland. DUP MP
Gregory Campbell had the third highest air fare expenses in
the House for the year, with œ17,733.

His deputy leader Peter Robinson was next highest with
œ16,126, while party colleague David Simpson was eighth
highest with œ14,690. The flight expenses for Sinn Fein's
MPs ranged between œ5,317 and œ750. They can claim air
fares to London and other expenses from the Commons despite
not taking their Westminster seats.

c Belfast Telegraph


Cocaine Use Rising In Cork - Survey

[Published: Wednesday 14, February 2007 - 12:55]

One in five young people in Cork are using cocaine.

A new survey has found that 20 per cent of 18 to 35 year
olds use the drug, with many taking it on a daily or weekly

While cocaine is the drug of choice for many, there is also
a strong prevalence of cannabis, ecstacy, LSD and heroin.

The survey was conducted among a sample of 200 people in
Cork by local Councillor Michael McGrath ,a Fianna Fail
general election candidate.

c Belfast Telegraph


Curtain Falls On Andrews Lane Theatre

14/02/2007 - 15:52:15

One of Dublin's best-loved theatres is to close, it emerged

Andrew's Lane, which is located in the heart of the city
between Trinity College and the Central Bank, has been
purchased by property developers.

Owner Pat Moylan said she made the "very difficult
decision" to sell the intimate venue because she couldn't
afford a modern revamp.

"It has become a small jewel in the heart of the city with
a reputation for producing quality theatre over the last 18
years," a spokesperson said.

"There are a number of crucial factors that left Pat Moylan
with no choice - chief among these is the amount of
investment required to repair and update the building from
a structural and technical point of view."

Highlights at the theatre included many plays which went on
to have successful world tours like Stones in His Pockets
by Marie Jones, Alone It Stands by John Breen and Twelve
Angry Men by Reginald Rose.

Moylan will continue to work in the business as a producer
in her capacity as Director of Lane Productions which is
currently presenting I, Keano at the Olympia Theatre.


O'Sullivan Ready For 'Last Lap'

Sonia O'Sullivan will make her final Irish road race
appearance in April as she continues to wind down her

O'Sullivan will compete in the Great Ireland Run on 15
April in Dublin.

"It's going to be my final good hard race as an elite
athlete in Ireland. I'd like people to come and join me for
the start of this last lap," she said.

The 37-year-old does plan to run other races this year and
may even attempt to earn a place in the European Cross
Country Championship in December.

Earlier, there were reports that the Great Ireland Run
would be O'Sullivan's final competitive race.

These reports followed a press release sent to Dublin
newsrooms but it now seems clear that O'Sullivan will
continue to race during the remainder of 2007.

The former World and European Champion may compete on the
track in the Cork City Sports in July while there have been
suggestions that she might bow out after making a final
international appearance at the European Cross Country
Championships in Spain.

The only certainty is that O'Sullivan will run the 15 April
race in Dublin.

"People have supported me along the way throughout the
years and it would be nice to feel that they would also be
a part of this final race for me (in Ireland)." O'Sullivan

Story from BBC SPORT:
Published: 2007/02/14 19:14:33 GMT

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