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)

March 04, 2007

Adams Presidential Address to Ard Fheis

News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 03/03/07 Gerry Adams Presidential Address 2007
BT 03/03/07 Sinn Fein Open To Coalition With Fianna Fail
BT 03/03/07 SF Would Treat Unionists Fairly In Government
SB 03/04/07 SF’s Advance Falters In South
GU 03/07/07 Paisley Meets His Public And Awaits Destiny
SB 03/04/07 Opin: Greens And SF Pose Major Threat To Labour Vote
SB 03/03/07 Opin: Paisley Takes 1st Step Towards Power-Sharing
BN 03/03/07 Finucane Back On Air After Robbery
SB 03/04/07 The Week The Market Took Fright
NY 03/04/07 Film: The Wind That Shakes the Barley


Gerry Adams Presidential Address 2007

(See Video of this at:

Ba mhaith liom fáilte mór ón chroí a chur romhaibh chuig an Ard
Fheis Shinn Féin. Fáilte roimh ár gcuairteoirí idirnáisiúnta, ár
n-ionadaithe, ár mbaill agus gníomhaithe uilig.

Ba mhaith liom beannachtaí a sheoladh chuig na cimí poblachta
agus a dteaghlaigh.

Go raibh fáilte speiséalta dár gCairde Sinn Féin a thaistil ó na
Stáit Aontaithe, ón Ástráil agus ó Cheanada. Fearadh na fáilte
romhaibh uilig anseo anocht.

Is deas sibh uilig a fheiceáil arís. Buíochas do Mitchel
McLaughlin. Seo an lá deirnach mar Ard Runaí ag Mitchel. Tá muid
buioch duit. Agus tá muid ag smaoineamh faoinár seánchairde Ann
's Tommy Devereaux. Níl said abalta teacht anseo inniu. Adh mór
oraibh uilig agus ar Chaoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

Tá muid ar ais san RDS don dara Ard Fheis Shinn Féin taobh istigh
de cúig seachtain.

At the Heart of the Peace Process

The policing debate only five weeks ago.

This was without doubt the most difficult, most problematic, most
historic initiative Sinn Fein has taken during the course of the
peace process.

That debate proved once again the willingness of republicans to
embrace change and to make radical decisions which are in the
long term interests of the Irish people.

I want to thank all of you who participated in these
deliberations. I would also like to send greetings to republican
prisoners and their families and to the families of our patriot

Next week our candidates go before the people in elections to a
new Assembly in the north that will lead to a power sharing
government involving Sinn Fein Ministers in an Executive with the
main unionist parties.

I am very hopeful that more nationalists and republicans, and a
small but significant number of former unionists and members of
the Protestant community, will vote for Sinn Fein in this

I say I am hopeful because across the six counties we are getting
a warm and positive reception on the doorsteps.

Tá fhios ag daoine go bhfuil Sinn Féin ag déanamh ár ndicheall.
Tá muid ag déanamh an gnó agus tá mé sásta go mbeidh níos mo
daoine ag tabhairt taca duinn ar lá an togcháin.

A Determined Engagement on Policing

Our decision on policing is the beginning of a determined
engagement with the range of policing agencies.

Our task is to ensure that policing is a public service,
democratically accountable, depoliticised, transparent, and non

The exclusion of MI5 from civic policing is a considerable

But the steady flow of revelations about the level of collusion
by MI5, with the RUC and unionist death squads, in the killing of
hundreds of citizens during Britain's prolonged dirty war in
Ireland, has confirmed what republicans have known for many

The British state has yet to acknowledge the truth about this,
about the Dublin Monaghan bombings, the murder of Pat Finucane,
of Rosemary Nelson, of Eddie Fullerton, and of countless other
innocent victims of British state terror.

Sinn Fein has relentlessly pursued the British government on this

We have also briefed successive Irish governments on this issue
for decades. But they did little.

At times I have expressed my deep disappointment at the role of
the Irish government - its absence from the real negotiations;
its silence in the face of British cover-ups; its unwillingness
to promote Irish national interests.

The government may deny this but it knows that this is the truth.

However each new investigation, most notably the Ombudsman's
recent report into the murder of Raymond McCord junior, throws
new light on the scale of official State collusion.

For our part Sinn Fein will continue to demand the truth. We will
continue to hold the police to account on all these matters.

We will also work with them to prevent attacks on the elderly,
and to confront drug pushers, death riders, hate crime, sex
offenders, domestic violence, and sectarianism.

And we have discussed all of these matters with Hugh Orde and his
senior officers.

Of course the PSNI needs to win the confidence of citizens, and
as part of that necessary process Sinn Fein will continue to
actively encourage people to deal with the police to achieve
fully accountable civic policing and to enhance community safety

A Crucial Election

Next Wednesday when the people of the Six Counties go to the
polls they will re-elect an Assembly which met only briefly in
its last term and had no power.

Instead there was direct rule and bad government from
unaccountable ministers sent over from London.

There were education cuts, the introduction of additional water
charges, an increased rates burden and a virtual ban on rural

The lesson is clear.

People of all political persuasions want to send these British
Ministers home.

In the last Executive, Martin McGuinness and Bairbre de Br£n
provided effective leadership in the Departments of Education and

Bairbre de Br£n delivered a strategy for tackling health
inequalities and reform of every aspect of the health service.

Martin McGuinness delivered a programme of change which saw an
end to the injustice of the 11 plus, a school build programme
larger than any previous Education Minister, support for
integrated and Irish language education, and additional resources
for children with special needs.

Sinn Fein faced up to the challenge of these difficult
portfolios. Other parties, the SDLP, the DUP and the UUP, ran
away from health and education. They chose easier options.

In contrast, Sinn Fein was up for the challenge.

Ready for Government in the North

We are up for the challenge again.

Sinn Fein is ready once more for government in the north. We have
an excellent team of experienced future MLAs. Led by Martin
McGuinness they will make excellent Ministers in the next
Executive.On the doorsteps there is a clear demand that locally
elected politicians face up to our responsibilities. That is also
the Sinn Fein position. 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 a duty to oppose additional water charges and the unfair
rates burden being imposed by British direct Rule Ministers.

We also continue to engage with the two governments to secure a
substantial peace dividend.

Sinn Fein was 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 and the Taoiseach
and Minister of Finance in the coming weeks to pursue this

Politics has to be about empowering people, 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

:: To secure delivery on the outstanding aspects of the Agreement

:: And to bring the debate on policing to a conclusion.

The 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 of more

Another example of how we plan ahead is to be found in our Irish
language manifesto in the last election.
Incidentally, Sinn Fein is the only party to publish an Irish
language manifesto.

In that manifesto - Ag Cur Gaeilge Arais i mB‚al 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 Wednesday the voters will have the opportunity to make a
judgment on our stewardship of all these issues.

Tá Sinn Féin ag tabhairt ionadaíocht atá láidir agus éifeachtach
- in achan fhoram polaitiúl ar an oileán seo.

Tá muid ag déanamh an gnó go háitiúl agus go náisiúnta. Ba mhaith
linn leanúint leis an obair seo.

Ba mhaith linn aghaidh a thabhairt ar bhochtanas, ar seicteachas
agus ar chiníochas.

Ba mhaith linn sochaí bunaithe ar chearta, áit ina mbeidh gach
duine glactha ar bhonn cothrom.

Decision Time for the DUP

So, it is the DUP who have big questions to answer in the coming

They must decide whether or not they are prepared to share power
with Sinn Fein on March 26. I hope they are.

Such a development, bringing the leaders of unionism into the
political institutions, would represent an enormous step forward
in the essential process of national reconciliation.

Irish republicans have been enormously patient with the DUP,
because we want them to be part of the process of creating a
better future for all of our people.

But this strategic and tolerant approach should not be mistaken
for political weakness.

Let me be absolutely clear. If the DUP refuses to join with the
rest of us in the political process then the process will move on
without them.

They have no veto. They cannot stop the process of change.

That change will continue either through the Good Friday
institutions or, failing that, through the new partnership
arrangements which Sinn Fein is already discussing with the two

Ian Paisley asked for this election. He has a duty to accept the

If he does, there is a real possibility of a power sharing
executive with Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness sharing the
office of First and Deputy First Minister.

We have every confidence in Martin and this Ard Fheis wishes him
good luck.

There may be more theatrics in the time ahead; more bluster; more
posturing, but the fact if the DUP prevent the Executive and
Assembly from being established then Ian Paisley will have to
explain to unionists why he got rid of the only institution that
unionism argued for.

And while he is busy doing that the all Ireland dimension and the
equality agenda and the process for change will be moving ahead.

Because a revitalised, re-energised, and stronger Sinn Fein is
the guarantor of that.

That is another reason why people should vote for Sinn Fein on
March 7th.

That is the best way of keeping the two governments to their
publicly stated commitments to move ahead with the new all-
Ireland partnership arrangements.

Whatever decisions Ian Paisley makes he knows that he will have
to deal with us.

And he knows that while we are ready to work with him - it will
be on the basis of equality.

The Future for Unionism

Let me also say that we will deal fairly with the unionists.

We are avowedly anti-sectarian and we will never, ever treat
anyone the way that nationalists have been treated in the north
of Ireland.

We will never exploit anyone the way the unionists and loyalist
working class were exploited and used by their political leaders.

Ours is a generous philosophy. Irish republicanism whose founders
were mainly Protestant, is about people and their political,
civil, religious, economic and social rights.

Irish Republicanism is about citizenship.

It's about uniting orange and green.

It's about building upon our common needs and in the common good.

Myself and Alex Maskey recently had the sad duty to extend
condolences to Jeanette Ervine, the wife of the late PUP leader
David Ervine and their family.

Can I take this opportunity to thank the Ervine family and the
mourners and the loyalist people for the gracious way they
welcomed us to David's funeral service.

That day in East Belfast and in the Methodist Mission Hall was a
reminder of how much things have changed.

Labhair muid agus bhuail muid le chéile le haontachtóirí.

Thug muid an lámh chairdeas dóibh agus ghlac muid nach bhfuil
monoplacht ar an fhulaingt ag poblachtanaí agus gur ghortaigh
muid daoine freisin.

Gan amhras, tá eagla ar aontachtóirí roimh an todhchaí. Tá a
fhios ag aontachtóirí gur fhán rialtas na Breataine in Éirinn ar
a son féin. Níor fhán said as grá dóibh nó as meas dóibh.

Tá a fhios ag a lán aontachtóirí freisin go bhfuil ath-aontú na
hÉireann ag teacht.

Tá sé ar mhaith leosan, chomh maith le duine ar bith eile le
tosnú anois le cruth a chur ar an todhchaí don oileán seo atá
muid ag roinnt le chéile.

Ready for Government in the South

I believe that the strategy being pursued by this generation of
republicans will bring Irish freedom.

Our political roadmap to an independent Ireland has involved
negotiation and compromise with the historic enemy, but we have
also prepared the ground for a radical transition to all island
political and economic institutions.

Just as we are ready for political power in a new executive in
the North we are also seeking a mandate for government in this

Let there be no doubt about this.

Sinn Fein wants to be in government in both parts of this island
because that is a means to fulfill our historic mission to bring
about a truly national republic and a truly national government.

But we are not prepared to wait until then to tackle the many
issues which bear down upon the people of Ireland.

We want people to have a better life now.

A Campaigning Party

Sinn Fein is a campaigning party and we are delivering for

This is one of the qualities that distinguishes us from the other

There are many principled people in Irish politics and there are
energetic workers and representatives across the board in all

But Sinn Fein is unique in that we are a party born in struggle,
with our membership and elected representatives emerging from the
communities most under the strain of political and economic
oppression, north and south.

We are the party that understands and reflects the needs of
people struggling to make ends meet.

We know how difficult it is to make mortgage repayments and to
pay the rent on incomes eaten away by inflation and taxation. We
know because we have these problems. We know, for example,
because our elected representatives live on the average
industrial wage. The rest goes into the party and constituency

So what price a decent quality of life, even for citizens on good

We know how hard it is to meet the bills as interest rates are
hiked up, energy costs spiral and the cost of living goes through
the ceiling.

And what of those at the other end of the scale?

We also know how hard it is to feed and clothe children, on low
incomes without proper health care or proper housing or

This is the era of the Celtic Tiger.

But it is also the era of the rip-off, of stealth taxes,
gombeenism, corruption, strokes and scams.

At the heart of the Sinn Fein project is a campaigning political
ethos which challenges the growing inequalities across all
aspects of economic and social life, north and south.

Sinn Fein is about radical political change, not about tinkering
at the edges of power in the hope of winning some scraps from the
elite and the privileged.

We are accused by the conservative parties of being a high tax
party. That is not what we are about.

People on low and middle incomes should not be expected to pay
excessive tax.

But millionaires and tax exiles who currently pay no tax must be
made to pay their fair share. We make no apologies for that.

Sinn Fein is about tackling the super rich, the exploiters who
make super profits by the clever use of tax loopholes or the
direct theft of peoples' labour.

Tax policy should be about eliminating and closing the loopholes.

Tax policy should be about reducing the burden on the lowest and
middle income people.

It should be about encouraging local small businesses and the
social economy.

It should be about building public services.

In an era of revenue surplus there is no case for increasing the
overall tax take. There is every argument for using that surplus
for the benefit of those in greatest need.

For ten years there has been unprecedented revenue surplus
available to the government here.

In the last five years alone there has been an exchequer surplus
of almost ?40 billion.

The government has the ability and the resources, if they so
chose, to deal effectively with poverty and inequality. They
chose not to do so.

And remember, this wealth was not generated by Fianna F il or the
Progressive Democrats. It is not for the sole benefit of the
golden circle of cronies and self seekers.

It was and is created by all who work in Ireland. These men and
women and their families are entitled to the fruits of their

The big question for many people is whether the vast amount of
revenues, generated from both the EU and taxation, are being put
to the most efficient use?

The answer to that question is No.

Waste, official incompetence, failure to meet budget and
completion targets is an established fact of life in Ireland.

We all know about the official waste of public resources, of the
faulty electronic voting machines, of the PPARS health computer
system that does not work, of overruns in the Port Tunnel and
other major road and infrastructure projects.

Ensuring Long Term Economic Growth

Sinn Fein is about working with all sectors of our economy to
ensure long term economic growth.

We are about investing in infrastructure, health, education,
childcare, housing and research and development.

We are a party that has welcomed new immigrants and the
contribution they make to the country's cultural, social and
economic growth.

No one should be exploited. The race to the bottom can be stopped
by upholding decent pay and decent conditions for all workers.

A First Class Public Health Service

Sinn Fein believes that one of the areas of greatest need is

You are entitled to know that if your child gets sick, you will
have access to a clean hospital or a clinic not too far from your

You have a right to free and universal health care, without
having to wait on trolleys in overcrowded, often infected
hospital wards with insufficient beds.

The nurses and doctors and the other carers who treat you are
equally entitled to proper wages and working hours.

Sinn Fein will be on the streets in support of the nurses in
their current campaign for a proper wage increase and a thirty
five hour week.

The health system consumes ?16 billion of the annual tax take of
some ?40 billion.

The problem is that it is being put in the wrong places and into
the wrong hands.

These resources should be used to build a localised health
service, universally accessible by all on the basis of medical

Properly equipped hospitals, care centres and step down
facilities to ease the pressure on accident and emergency wards
and acute bed facilities can be provided on the budgets currently

So why is this not being done? It's very simple. The government
does not believe in a public health service.

It believes in privatisation. So does the so-called alternative.

As part of this the Minister for Health is pursuing a policy of
handing over land in public hospitals to private developers.

And the government is offering tax based incentives to these same
developers to build their private for profit medical facilities.

Sinn Fein is not against private hospitals. We are against
private hospitals being publicly funded.

The public health sector is being starved of proper resources and
the private health business is being subsidised by the tax payer,
but available only to those who can afford it.

And the patient who takes up private insurance is doubly taxed.
That's not fair.

People want and deserve a first class health system for all. Sinn
Fein is determined to see this delivered.

People regularly tell me of having to wait for months for scans
or other tests. Unless they go private.

Then it can all be done very quickly indeed. That's not fair

Sinn Fein is committed to using our bargaining power after the
general election to dramatically improve the health services:

:: We demand that all health funding is invested in the public
system. We will stop tax breaks for developers of private

:: We demand a minimum of 3000 acute hospital beds to ease over
crowding and waiting lists and to cut MRSA

:: Sinn Fein will resource preventative screening programmes - in
particular ensuring state wide coverage of breast check and a new
free cervical screening programme

:: We will guarantee a medical card for every child under the age
of 18

:: We will ensure all new hospital consultant posts are public

:: Sinn Fein's commitment is to provide a public health service
free at the point of use, and available as needed - not after
years on a waiting list.

The government has the money to provide all this. Remember it is
not the governments money. It is public money. It should be used
for public health services not private profit.

We can afford this. We can afford a first class public health
service. Sinn Fein has been campaigning on these issues for

They are rights which every citizen should enjoy.

A Quality Education System

There is also a right to a quality education system.

That means a dramatic reduction in class sizes. It means
recruiting more primary school teachers. It means the
reconstruction and refurbishment of those schools which are
currently a health hazard for children and teaching staff alike.

Tá sé dochreidte go bhfuil cuid de na scoileanna san am seo "An
Tiogar Ceilteach" ina chúis náire dúinn.

There is absolutely no excuse why children and their parents have
to protest about rat infested schools, or old prefabricated, and
poorly heated buildings, about the absence of vital play and
recreational areas, or about dangerous and deadly school buses.

And there is no excuse for the crisis that this government has
allowed to develop in the childcare sector. Childcare costs now
represent a second mortgage for many families.

Sinn Fein wants to see accessible, affordable childcare and the
introduction of a universal pre-school session of 3.5 hours a day
for all children in the year before they go to school.

Education lays the basis for success or marginalization, or a
full life of a life less well lived.

Those in positions of influence who appear determined to reduce
our third level institutions into mere production lines for the
economy should think through the consequences of their actions.

Arts and culture, the Irish language, music and poetry, the study
of drama, of the classics, of history, are no less important in
stirring the imagination of the young and promoting the
creativity for which this nation has long been recognised.

An appreciation of the development of human thought and ideas is
at the heart of any civilised society. It also promotes a more
inclusive, just and equal society.

Drugs - A Government Failure

If you want to understand, really understand what is wrong with
this government and other governments you need look no further
than north Inner City Dublin.

Twenty or more years ago Sinn Fein was castigated by the
establishment for supporting communities in their battles against
drug pushers.

I am glad I played my part in that effort.

Tá mí-úsáid drugaí ar an chontúirt is mó ar an oileán seo inniú.

At that time the government refused to intervene. The priority of
the government was to use Garda¡ to defend Britain's heavily
militarised and imposed border.

Working class communities were left to the mercy of ruthless
criminal elements. We warned of the dangers.

I remember arguing that the government did not care about these
neighbourhoods and that it would not move until middle class
youth were affected. By then it would be too late. And for many
familes it is too late.

In just one small area of this city, a proud working class area a
short distance from O'Connell Street, more than 200 people,
mostly young people, have died as a result of drugs.

200 hundred citizens in one small neighbourhood - dead.

Last month 6 young people died within two weeks of each other as
a result of drugs in this same area. And those responsible for
bringing huge quantities of drugs into this city are now engaged
in deadly feuds.

Heroin and cocaine is freely available. Crack cocaine is also

These events and the spate of drug related and armed crime on the
streets of Dublin and other cities and towns is a direct
consequence of the neglect by successive governments of the needs
of parents and children over the past three decades.

And this continues at a time of the greatest wealth ever enjoyed
in this country.

But then inequality is a good thing, or so we are told. What
arrogant, patronizing nonsense Tanaiste. Inequality is always
wrong. Equality is needed here in the Capital and every where
else in this island.

The right to a Home

In this state there are nearly 44,000 families awaiting social
housing - half of these families with children. Why is this so?

It's because of government policy. There is no government policy
to build social and affordable housing. There is mere lip

In 2005 this government funded local authorities to build just
over 4000 social and affordable homes. For their part charities
provided another 1400 - fair play to them.

Government policy favours private developers. How many houses did
they build? 81,000 over priced houses and countless expensive

The housing crisis needs an urgent and direct response. Will it
come from this government? No.
Why? Because the wealthy property developers are their friends.

Expecting property developers to lower the price of housing is
like expecting the tobacco companies to run anti-smoking

Will it come from Fine Gael? Not a chance.

Sinn Fein insists that there must be at least 14,000 social and
affordable homes built for every year of the next government.

And the Planning and Development Act must be amended to remove
the 'get-out clauses' for developers. All new developments should
allocate 30% to social and affordable housing.

Sinn Fein will seek the purchase of land banks to clear the
disgraceful housing lists.

People should also have access to finance in order to purchase
their own home. If that requires direct State investment then
that should be done.

It is clear that first time buyers need help. We believe that the
best way to do this is to increase mortgage interest relief for
first time buyers.

As it stands a whole generation has been squeezed out of the
housing market, and out of their preferred location, because of
the escalating cost of a modest home.

Suicide - A national crisis

There are many others who have been left behind in the rush to
wealth creation, consumerism and materialism. For example there
are now 5,000 people homeless and on the streets. A mix of
integrated residential and training centres should be established
to meet their needs.

And remember there is the money to pay for this. Governments are
supposed to manage the economy for the people. There may not
always be an economic boom. Wise governments, acting in trust for
the people, should invest in the future using public money for
the public good.

The elderly, people with disabilities, many of our youth are
frustrated, impoverished and demoralised by the pace and demands
of life in Ireland today.

The high rate of suicide on this island among our young people is
a deeply disturbing illustration of this.

There were 577 reported deaths by suicide across this island in
the year 2003 to 2004 and many, many more incapacitated. In 2005
431 people died, here in the south from suicide.

Both depression and alcohol combine to encourage young people to
kill themselves in greater numbers than ever before witnessed in
this country, even with our long and often tragic history.

To have any hope of making a difference, an all-Ireland approach
is urgently needed. I have spoken to the British Minister
responsible for Health on this matter and we are making some

But Mary Harney has refused to meet me. I first asked for a
meeting on this issue, two years ago in May 2005.

Her response to this growing tragedy has been to minimise the
funding available from the state while promoting private
investment and voluntary input.

This cannot compensate for the state taking the lead and
providing the funding resources necessary.

The Minister for Health has provided a miserly ?1.85 million a
year for suicide prevention.

Both governments need to be doing much more - helping families
and communities, helping those engaged in self-harm.

The cost of such initiatives is not excessive in this time of

I will continue to personally crusade on this issue alongside
families bereaved through suicide.

When an average of 500 people take their own lives every year
that is a national crisis. Like deaths on the road the government
needs to tackle this national crisis head on.

Action not rhetoric is required.

Ireland's struggle for Freedom

Ireland has long been a beacon for those in the wider world
seeking justice and equality and struggling against colonialism
and imperialism.

We have also learned from other nations who have had to struggle
for their freedom. In particular I want to acknowledge the great
help we have received from Nelson Mandela and from South Africa's
President Thabo Mbeki.

His government Minister Ronnie Kasrils, representing the ANC, is
with us today. Failte m¢r romhat chara, to you and Eleanor.

In 2006 I travelled to Israel and Palestine and Martin McGuinness
travelled to Sri Lanka.

We did so because we were asked to share our experience of
conflict resolution.

The situation in the Middle East is particularly awful and the
international community stands indicted for its refusal to
intervene in a positive, consistent and progressive way.

The difficulties confronting the Palestinians are daunting. The
poverty and deprivation is dreadful and the security wall being
built by the Israeli government is a horrible and illegal scar on
the landscape.

What is needed is a negotiated peace settlement. And it is the
international community's responsibility to actively secure this

We have also been trying to help with the peace process in the
Basque country.

I would like to commend Batasuna for their efforts and urge the
Spanish government to play a full part in the fledgling peace
process there.

Yesterday I welcomed Arnaldo Otegi to this Ard Fheis.

It is my certain view that all of these conflicts can be
resolved. And they should be.

There are other great moral failures in the contemporary world.

The crisis in development, in particular in Africa, where half
the population live on less than half a dollar a day is totally

In 1970 the UN set a target for development aid at 0.7% of Gross
National Product.

That target has yet to be reached. And last year the government
postponed efforts to reach that UN target until 2012.

That does not in any way reflect the generosity of Irish people.

The ongoing occupation of Iraq is a disgrace. In the run up to
the war Martin McGuinness and I conveyed directly to Tony Blair
and George Bush the view of the vast majority of the Irish people
that an invasion of Iraq would lead to a brutal quagmire.

US troops should leave Iraq.

Britain should also leave Iraq.

In the meantime the use of Shannon airport for the transport of
US troops to Iraq, Afghanistan and other battle zones should be
stopped. The use of an Irish airport by aircraft involved in
illegal renditions is absolutely wrong and should also be halted

Among our many international visitors today, I would like
especially to welcome Noelle Carrillo, Cuba's ambassador to

During the 1981 hunger strike Fidel Castro stood up in the United
Nations in defence of the men in the H Blocks and the women in
Armagh. He is now recovering from illness - we wish him well.

Go n-éirgh an t-adh leat Fidel.

Mucho Suerte! Hasta la victoria siempre!

Many challenges lie ahead

Much of the injustice in our world is about the control of oil
and other natural resources, including water and gas and the
global threat to the environment.

Ireland has failed miserably to meet the Kyoto targets on carbon
emissions, and the dispute over the Corrib gas pipeline has
exposed how much this government and its predecessors have given
away to the oil and gas multi-nationals.

This Ard Fheis salutes the courage of the people of Rossport and
the Erris peninsula.

Across the country other communities have been forced to engage
in battles over threats to their natural environment, against
unwanted incinerators or waste facilities, against the pollution
of water and land, against the theft and destruction of our
fishing stocks and more recently the sugar beet industry.

Ireland needs rural regeneration - not destruction.

We need to create employment in rural areas based on local
strengths and advantages.

Over recent decades there have been other countless scandals
involving the abuse of children, the mistreatment of our elderly
in nursing homes, of women in maternity hospitals, and the
continuing crisis of domestic violence.

There is still a growing inequality between the richest and the
poorest, in health, education and in job and career opportunity.

There is still partition and foreign occupation.

So there are lots of challenges.

There is Great Hope

But there is also great hope, not least because many, many people
want a better Ireland.

Public service, volunteerism, patriotism, activism and
citizenship remain strong. Arts, language, literature, culture,
music and sports are thriving. The community sector, carers,
campaigning groups, the voluntary sector are the great unsung
heroes and heroines of our time.

Despite all the difficulties the people of Ireland remain sound
and hopeful about the future. Together we have all come a long

Sinn Fein has also come a long way.

That is due to the courage and resilience of the thousands of
people who have given the best years of their lives to the
republican cause.

Tá troid s'againn bunaithe ar an íobairt a rinne said.

Ach bhí todhchaí s'againn uilig i gcónaí ar intinn na laochra

Our struggle is rooted in their sacrifice. But these heroes were
always about the future. The great advances of our time are built
on their efforts.

They are the wind that shakes the barley.

Bobby Sands put it best when he said 'our revenge will be the
laughter of our children and the liberation of all.'

The war is over. The peace must be built.

We are the peace builders.

We are the nation builders.

The next ten years will see more great advances for Ireland and
for Sinn Fein. We are determined to make this country a better
place for all the people.

Sinn Fein is ready for government North and South.

We are about delivering Ireland's future and making Irish
republicanism relevant to people in their daily lives.

We have a vision for a new Ireland of equals, where orange and
green are united, where there is real meaning to the words
democracy, equality, justice and human rights at every level in
society, in every town and townland, in every city and village.

Bigí linn.

Join Sinn Fein in building a united, peaceful and prosperous
Ireland that cherishes all of our children equally.


Sinn Fein Open To Coalition With Fianna Fail

[Published: Saturday 3, March 2007 - 16:38]

The Sinn Fein Ard Fheis has defeated a resolution calling for the
party to decide now against taking part in any potential
coalition after the next election in the south.

The Ard Fheis supported a leadership argument that it should go
into an election without its hands tied and only come to a
decision after the results are declared.

But there was one passionate speech from the floor from Jackie
Whelan, a delegate from Portlaw in Waterford, calling for a
decision now.

"We should give no support to Fianna Fail after this election and
not even consider support," he said.

"There is too much ambiguity from the leadership here," he said.

"Fianna Fail corrupt the political system. And who pays the price
for this corruption. The young people of Ireland who are taking
out mortgages. The freedom we have won from the British ahs been
given back to the banks and the developers."

c Belfast Telegraph


Adams: Republicans Would Treat Unionists Fairly In Government

[Published: Saturday 3, March 2007 - 18:13]

Mr Adams insisted that republicans would deal fairly with
unionists in a power-sharing government.

He also hoped that a small but significant number of former
unionists and Protestants would vote for the party.

``We are avowedly anti-sectarian and we will never, ever treat
anyone in the same way that nationalists have been treated in the
north of Ireland,'' he said.

As part of a power-sharing government, Mr Adams said Sinn Fein
will focus on issues like education, anti-poverty measures,
services for the elderly, the

Irish language and opposing extra water charges.

A general election is expected in the Republic in May and Mr
Adams used two-thirds of his ard fheis televised address to focus
on political issues south of the Border.

c Belfast Telegraph


SF's Advance Falters In South

04 March 2007 By Pat Leahy

Sinn Fein delegates meet this weekend in the RDS in Dublin, on
the brink of government in the North and significant seat gains
in the south.

Sinn Fein delegates meet this weekend in the RDS in Dublin, on
the brink of government in the North and significant seat gains
in the south.

In the wake of the historic moves on decommissioning and
policing, Sinn Fe in expects political dividends from its peace
strategy, not just in the North but also in the Republic.

That was always the strategy, always the deal the movement made
with itself.

But now there are signs that the party's Northern commitments are
having a dragging effect in the south.

Unlike the delegates meeting at the party conferences of the past
three weekends, the Sinn Fein members have only half an eye on
the general election.

Until next Wednesday at least - and probably for a time beyond,
as the slow-bicycle race to a devolved administration cranks into
action - Sinn Fein's energy and attention is focused on the
elections to the Northern Assembly.

This weekend's ard fheis is being shortened to facilitate
campaigning in the North. At a press conference to promote the
event last week, Sinn Fein's election candidate in Dublin
Central, Mary Lou McDonald, admitted that the party's candidates
were ''focused on the North''.

Unlike the other parties, Sinn Fein's campaign won't really take
off until the Northern business is done.

''I suppose we haven't really gone into overdrive yet," said Liam
Browne, a first-time candidate for the party in South Tipperary,
who said he was nonetheless knocking on doors ''three or four
nights a week''.

Browne and others like him are wearing out shoe leather alright.

But the fact is, Sinn Fein is well behind the other parties in
its preparations.

The experience and practice of fighting so many elections on two
jurisdictions is an advantage to the party when it comes to
campaigns in the south: message discipline (ie, sticking to the
line), canvassing techniques, organisation, postering, leafleting
- the more you practice, the better you get.

But there's also a disadvantage, and the party is feeling it at
the moment: its practical and intellectual resources are spread
thinly. The Northern leadership is concentrating on the North,
electorally and politically.

The southern organisation is playing a supporting role.

And the south is noticing Sinn Fein's poll numbers, for so long
on a steady upward escalator, have stalled and fallen. The party
is in trouble, especially in Dublin, and it needs to fix the
problem before the election, or the gains that it has threatened
for so long will not materialise in the numbers promised.

Quick march

By any measurement, Sinn Fein's progress in recent years has been

From 3 per cent to 7 per cent in the 1997 and 2002 general
elections; from 4 per cent to 8 per cent in the local elections
in 1999 and 2004.

In the 2004 elections, the party took more than 50 council seats,
and its first ever MEP was elected in the Republic - the new,
acceptable, polite and female face of Sinn Fein, Mary-Lou

McDonald is trying to crack the very citadel of urban, working-
class Fianna Fail in Dublin Central, the Taoiseach's own
constituency. That fight is being carried on across the northside
of the capital, where Fianna Fail seats in Dublin North West and
North East are under threat from Sinn Fein candidates.

McDonald's performance in Dublin was a new high - at 14 per cent,
the sort of support that would have the party challenging for
seats in almost every constituency in the capital.

But at this point, the 2004 success looks like it was more due to
the fact that McDonald was a very strong candidate - the sort
that all parties look for, but can seldom find, as they'll
privately admit - rather than a new foothold for Sinn Fein.

The latest Sunday Business Post/Red C opinion poll, published
last weekend, shows that Sinn Fein has fallen to just to 6 per
cent in Dublin.

One poll can distort numbers, but the three-poll average figure,
from the most recent three tracking polls, shows a similar

This isn't a flash in the pan - for the three months from
September to November, Sinn Fein was only at 8 per cent in
Dublin. This isn't a blip; it's a trend.

Unfriendly trends

The meteoric rise has stopped and, in many places, fallen back.

Back to 7 per cent in the two tracking polls published this year,
a downward curve that's been there since last summer. Look at the
numbers for the most committed voters, coveted by all parties:
from 10-11 per cent this time last year, to 6-7 per cent now. In
the run-up to a general election campaign, that's very bad news.

Bad, but not catastrophic, and surely not irreversible. There are
strong challenges on the northside of Dublin, in the two Donegal
constituencies, in Waterford, in Wexford maybe. The existing
seats should probably hold, subject to the uncertainty of Kerry,
and the minimising of the effect of fracture in Louth.

This latter question is an interesting point: a recent poll in
this newspaper showed (as expected) overwhelming support for Sinn
Fein's moves on policing, but 13 per cent of the electorate still
disagreed with it. How many of these voted for Sinn Fein the last
time but have now deserted the party?

''The debate over policing has energised the party," said

True, but it also alienated some activists.

Sinn Fein puts its faith in hardworking base of community
activists, with a bit of stardust sprinkled whenever Gerry Adams,
Martin McGuinness or, increasingly, McDonald - now ''box-office''
in her own right - stops by.

The party will also bus northern activists down south (the
traffic is currently the other way) to help out. While there's
nothing that enthuses the southern foot soldiers more than the
presence of ''our northern comrades'' - as Dublin South East
candidate Daithi Doolan calls them - how they'll be received on
the door steps of Drumcondra is another matter.

In the long term, no matter how much Sinn Fein insists that it
will be part of the post-election government formation tango, the
optimum outcome of a general election from Sinn Fein's point of
view is a Fianna Fail-Labour coalition.

Sinn Fein harvests its vote in those communities which have
traditionally voted Labour and Fianna Fail, and such a coalition
would enable the party to lead the opposition in those
communities to a government which will inevitably face an
economic slowdown.

But the party will have to fight hard for its votes. Sinn Fein
isn't going to be handed anything on a plate, as once seemed
likely - or even inevitable.

Eighty years of partition, the nature of the Northern state and
the years of conflict have all done their work; in the south,
they are still minnows. Getting into government will be a long
slog. But's that politics for you.


Paisley Meets His Public And Awaits Destiny

On the campaign trail in Coleraine, the veteran DUP leader is
ready for historic power-sharing

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday March 4, 2007
The Observer

Carnmoney Presbyterian Youth Group were in Coleraine searching
for celebrity lookalikes as part of a money-raising stunt for
charity when they stumbled across the Reverend Ian Paisley.
For Peter Anderson, one of the leaders of the youth group, this
was mission accomplished.

Waving sponsorship forms under the noses of the DUP delegation,
Anderson said: 'We were raising money for charity by spotting as
many members of the public in Coleraine who looked like
celebrities as we could find. We didn't think we'd get a real-
life one.'

Wearing his trademark black fedora, Paisley bounded around The
Diamond - the historic centre of Coleraine - with the energy of
someone far, far younger than his 80 years.
Chatting with the young Presbyterians and shaking hands with
Saturday shoppers, he also exuded the confidence of a man on the
brink of power.

For 40 years Paisley has frustrated and blocked most initiatives
the British government has sought to impose in order to settle
the Northern Ireland question. Now the North Antrim MP is about
to become Northern Ireland's First Minister. Only the small
matter of agreeing to share power with Sinn Fein stands in the

Asked about the prospect of sharing power, Paisley resorts to
humour and even adds that he agrees on one thing with Gerry Adams
- being in government, as Adams put it recently, will be a battle
every day.

'I'm hardly going to come into the office every morning and say,
"Well, Gerry, how are you today? Have you been to Mass yet? Did
you go to confession this morning"?

'Of course it's going to be a battle each day,' he roars with

For the first time in his political career Paisley is facing flak
from further across the unionist right. A coalition of opponents
to the St Andrews Agreement has formed up to oppose the DUP in
Wednesday's election. Leading the opposition is UKUP leader and
QC Bob McCartney, a one-time Paisley ally.

On the hour-and-a-half walkabout through Coleraine, he encounters
no opposition. Most people out shopping rush to shake Paisley's
hand, wish him the best and pledge their votes to his candidates
in East Derry, a constituency that borders his own North Antrim
power base.

Paisley says: 'We are getting a great response on the canvass
across Northern Ireland. I'm not worried about Mr McCartney or
anybody else.'

East Derry is a DUP success story. The party stormed what was
once an Ulster Unionist citadel and put DUP stalwart Gregory
Campbell into Westminster. The local MP is asked if devolution
will be restored by 26 March. Campbell's response indicates that
it is not a question of if but simply when the DUP enter into
what would once have been an unthinkable powersharing arrangement
that includes Sinn Fein.

The magic number according to the Northern Ireland Office and
Campbell is that the DUP wins at least 35 seats when the votes
are counted later this week. Such a power base in the Assembly
will give him and his strategists the confidence to do the deal,
albeit later than Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern or Gerry Adams would
have hoped for.

On the campaign trail Paisley doesn't appear to be troubled by
the mathematics of the count and the Assembly result. After
Coleraine he's off to Ballymoney, eight miles away in his own
constituency. He is there to deliver a birthday card to a 100-
year-old lady. By the time Paisley celebrates his 81st next month
he could be poised to seize the biggest birthday present of his
long and controversial career.


Opin: Greens And SF Pose Major Threat To Labour Vote

04 March 2007

More than in any previous election, our smaller parties are
firmly centre-stage.

More than in any previous election, our smaller parties are
firmly centre-stage. Much of the debate of recent times has been
over who they are willing to coalesce with and what their demands
might be.

The Progressive Democrats have been around this track in nearly
every election since their formation and are specialists in
finding ways of getting noticed.

What's different is the role now being played by the Green Party
and Sinn Fein. Where once they were occasional visitors to
Leinster House, they are now accepted as permanent players.

Their leaders pop up on the nightly news and their conferences
are televised. In terms of popular support, as confirmed in last
week's Sunday Business Post/Red C poll, they are consistently at
a level where they can expect to consolidate and grow their big
advances of the last decade.

With their joint support averaging in the region of 12 to 16 per
cent, they represent a proportion of the electorate equal to or
larger than the Labour Party.

While Sinn Fein has received a lot of attention because of its
long and winding road towards irreversible commitment to peaceful
politics, both parties have received little serious attention
about their policies and campaigning. It is true that most people
have opinions about them, but how much do we actually know?

Their voters are overwhelmingly left-of-centre if you discount
the small ''when I die wrap me in a tricolour and lob a brick at
the Brits in my memory'' element of the Sinn Fein vote. When you
combine their vote with that of Labour, it would appear that the
left-wing vote has increased significantly in recent years and is
now consistently above that of Fine Gael.

Of course, what it means to be left-wing in our post-everything
world is very general, and if you look closely, the two parties
represent very different constituencies.

Sinn Fein's objective remains to become the largest party of
working-class Ireland.

It is the most unequivocally old left of our parties, if you
exclude the Castleknock communism of the Socialist Party.

There's no equivocation: it is in favour of taxing the wealthy,
spending bucketloads on everything and nationalising all things
that move, as well as many things that don't.

At the same time, it is resolutely against the 'capitalist'
direction of the EU.

The middle-ground soft-soaping of Pat Rabbitte's ''tax cuts and
happiness for all'' met with nothing but derision from Sinn Fein.

It combines this with a hard edge of activism. It is in the
neighbourhood and it is on the side of the little guy against the
establishment. Its 2004 council gains were the real story of that
election, not the halted decline of Fine Gael.

While its TDs are poor performers, it has clearly identified a
next generation of leaders and has the clearest long-term focus
of any party.

In comparison, the Greens are a completely different bowl of non-
GM, organic muesli.

Formed as a pressure group rather than a party, they have only
recently got around to agreeing to have a leader.
Organisationally, the party is all over the place. In some areas,
it has strong teams; in others, it's a candidate and a few

Its Leinster House bench contains some serious talent, though
this is not always allowed speaking roles.

While its base is less secure, it has what any party would love:
an issue which everyone agrees on. Have you ever met someone
who's in favour of not saving the planet?

This allows the Greens to be a magnet for non-ideological, soft
left, 'why can't we just be nicer to the world' type of voters
who are growing in significance all the time. It is a non-
establishment vote of choice.

The overwhelming question for them is whether this can survive a
period in government.

Certainly, many of its TDs can hold on as they are well enough
established, but can a non-establishment party thrive as part of
the establishment?

How attractive is Enda Kenny for its voters?

This aside, the big news concerning the growth of the Green Party
and Sinn Fein is that they have actually stopped a re-alignment
of politics - something which has more to do with Labour's
malaise than anything else.

Under Dick Spring and Ruairi Quinn, Labour had a very definite
long-term objective of becoming the second-largest party in
government, capable of dominating an administration.

It followed a policy of uniting with a series of smaller left
parties, including a Democratic Left so denuded of activists that
it became difficult to fill a room to vote on merger.

Under former firebrand Pat Rabbitte, Labour has dramatically
switched tack, with the objective seeming to be purely about
being in government.

Policy on fundamental matters like tax is, according to well-
placed leaks, now about one-upmanship and anticipating what
Fianna Fail is about to promise, rather than emulating it.

Whether Labour can achieve leadership of the left, rather than
leadership of government, is now the biggest question facing the

A rising left-wing vote, but a stagnant first preference share,
belies a failure to attract voters who want change, but see
smaller, more clearly defined parties as the best vehicle.

Sinn Fein's transformation has yet to convince many, but time and
a focus on organisation can see it having a much bigger impact,
particularly if - as now seems inevitable - Labour obliges it by
going into government in a few months' time.

The late Willy Brandt, the German chancellor, once described the
Greens as ''the lost children of social democracy''.

This is still true and applies equally to much of the rising Sinn
Fein vote.

It will take a major revision of strategy if these lost children
are to be attracted home to the bosom of the Irish Labour Party.


Comment: Paisley Takes First Tentative Step Towards Power-Sharing

04 March 2007 By Brian Feeney

Announcing an intention to take the finance ministry as first
choice in a devolved administration is hardly the act of a party
leader who plans to turn his back on sharing power with Sinn Fein
in three weeks' time.

Announcing an intention to take the finance ministry as first
choice in a devolved administration is hardly the act of a party
leader who plans to turn his back on sharing power with Sinn Fein
in three weeks' time.

Yet this notice of intent is exactly what Ian Paisley gave a
press conference last Thursday. The UUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP
immediately took Paisley's remarks as the strongest indication to
date that he has made up his mind to forma power-sharing
executive after Wednesday's election.

Persuading his supporters to endorse such a move has proved a
major challenge for Paisley, almost on a par with the achievement
of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in having the IRA stand down
and the republican movement support policing and criminal justice
in the North.

Facing strong opposition from hardliners in his party, including
the majority of his MPs, and from councillors in his own north
Antrim bible-belt heartland, Paisley has been ambivalent about
sharing power as a concept, let alone sharing it with Sinn Fein.

Perhaps his tentative step forward last Thursday was encouraged
by a Mori poll for the Belfast Telegraph, published that day,
which indicated 25 per cent support for the DUP, a fraction down
on its 2003 assembly vote: good news because polls in the North
habitually underestimate DUP support.

Even more heartening would have been the serious collapse in
support for Paisley's rivals, the UUP, which registered 16 per
cent, down a disastrous 5 per cent on their 2003 showing.

Taking account of the under-estimation of DUP support, if
something close to the results of the poll are repeated on
Wednesday, Paisley looks like leading a party of 37 or 38
assembly members into Stormont, six or seven seats up on 2003.

On the other side of the fence, where polls similarly underrate
Sinn Fein support, the party will be pleased with 22 per cent,1.5
per cent down on 2003's assembly vote.

Unlike the DUP, however, Sinn Fein does not appear to have wiped
out its ethnic rivals, the SDLP, which registered 20 per cent
support. Even if this figure flatters the SDLP, all the
indications are that the party will hold its own in the
forthcoming election and, as usual, benefit from transfers which
Sinn Fein has never managed to attract.

Reaction to the figures from the DUP showed what the contest is
really about.

Deputy leader Peter Robinson warned that the combined SF/SDLP
percentages in the poll were bigger than the combined unionist
figures (42 per cent - 41 per cent) and urged voters to come out
and prevent Sinn Fe in from reaching its goal.

In this respect, there is an identity of interest between the DUP
and Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein spokespersons claim that, if enough people vote for
them, they will become the largest party and in line to nominate
the First Minister, who would be Martin McGuinness.

Senior DUP figures purport to believe this possibility and urge
their supporters to prevent that unthinkable prospect.
Essentially, what the DUP and Sinn Fein are both saying is:
''Vote for us and help wipe out our ethnic rivals."

At another level, the same threat is held up to the voters. Sinn
Fein asks for the maximum vote to give it the maximum number of
ministries under the D'Hondt proportional system. The DUP says
exactly the same, adding the rider that failure by unionists to
come out and vote would allow a majority of ministries to go to
nationalists, leaving unionists in a minority around the
executive table - another unthinkable prospect.

These ploys by the two largest parties to scare voters into
supporting them by using the 'other side' as the bogeyman may end
in crushing the middle and mavericks on both sides. What middle
ground there is in the North has been steadily diminishing since
the 1990s: the Alliance party vote is down to around 3 per cent,
largely confined to well-heeled districts around Belfast and
North Down.

This time, however, dissidents on both sides are challenging the
main parties. In an extraordinary stratagem, 70-year-old Bob
McCartney, virtually a one-man party, is standing in six
constituencies trying to attract voters disillusioned with
Paisley's u-turn on power-sharing. He has worried the DUP which
regularly warns voters that, should McCartney eat into their
vote, he will help Sinn Fein.

Many pundits believe McCartney will actually be useful in pulling
out more DUP voters to stop Sinn Fein and that he may well lose
his own seat in North Down because of his wrecking tactics.

On the nationalist side, Sinn Fein faces a number of disgruntled
republicans, including former IRA gun-runner Gerry McGeough in
Fermanagh-South Tyrone, and Peggy O'Hara, the mother of hunger-
striker Patsy O'Hara, in Foyle.

There is no indication that any of these candidates will garner
enough votes to take any seats from Sinn Fein, though they may
end up damaging the party in struggles with unionists for the
sixth seat in a couple of constituencies. Overall, Wednesday's
election looks like producing the result the Irish and British
governments have been striving towards since 2003, a resurrection
of the Good Friday Agreement's institutions. Should that happen -
and only half the North's voters believe it likely - it will be a
major triumph for the tenacity of Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.

A successful culmination of their policy by Easter will have come
at a price, mainly unseemly concessions to the DUP, the new
leaders of unionism since 2003. Even so, some measure of the
success up to this point is that most unionist voters switched to
the DUP in 2003 because they did not want to share power with the
new leaders of northern nationalism, Sinn Fein, and believed that
the DUP would not share power with them.

That conviction was reinforced by the slaughter of David
Trimble's UUP in the British general election in May 2005,
including the defeat of Trimble himself.

Now the DUP leadership has performed a somersault.

In order to wheedle and cajole the DUP into sharing power, the
NIO (Northern Ireland Office) has bought and bribed and appeased
since the 2005 election in the most blatant fashion. Millions
have been promised for 'Protestant districts' in contravention of
the accepted procedures used for allocating funds.

DUP nominees have been appointed to various bodies, including the
Parades Commission and, most controversially, as victims
commissioner, decisions that have ended in court.

DUP MPs have been indulged in their every whim in demands for
their constituencies.

It will be years, if ever, before the full extent of the
concessions they won become public.

Through all this process, Sinn Fein has bit its lip, occasionally
demanding a share of sweeties for itself, occasionally supporting
court challenges to embarrass Peter Hain in his more obvious
obeisances to the DUP. Irish government officials have monitored
this gravy train, concerned that it is another version of the
''save Dave'' process from 1998 to 2003, when David Trimble was
shored up by the NIO at any price.

In the end, it looks as if the forbearance of both Sinn Fein and
Bertie Ahern will pay off. They have kept their eyes on the big
picture. Getting the DUP to share power as players in the Good
Friday Agreement is immeasurably more important than pork barrels
for a couple of DUP MPs.

Brian Feeney, a political columnist, is head of the history
department at St Mary's University College, Belfast, and author
of Sinn Fein: 100 Turbulent Years.


Finucane Back On Air After Robbery

03/03/2007 - 16:03:51

Popular broadcaster Marian Finucane today broke her silence on a
vicious attack on her son to thank well-wishers.

Finucane had to rush home from a South African holiday with her
partner last month after her 20-year-old son Jack was beaten and
tied up by burglars in their Co Kildare home.

It was claimed at the time that the burglars may have targeted
the house because Finucane had told listeners on her weekend
Radio One show that she was taking a break and would return in
three weeks.

Breaking her silence on the traumatic incident today, Finucane
said: "I want to thank people very, very much for the level of
support they gave my family, and my son in particular."

Referring to her sooner-than-expected return to the airwaves, she
joked that as a former RTE continuity announcer she often had to
apologise to listeners for programmes being broadcast later than

"However, today I am appearing earlier than advertised," she

Garda¡ were contacted about the incident on February 19 after
Jack Finucane broke free and alerted a neighbour.

He later received medical treatment for head wounds at Naas
General Hospital as detectives began an investigation into the
aggravated burglary.


The Week The Market Took Fright

04 March 2007 By Cliff Taylor

A trading frenzy sent the world's stock markets into a spiral
last week, as more than ?7 billion was wiped off the value of
Irish shares in just three days.

A trading frenzy sent the world's stock markets into a spiral
last week, as more than ?7 billion was wiped off the value of
Irish shares in just three days. So what caused the collapse in
stock values and is the US economy on the road to recession?

Why did the markets fall so sharply last week?

The trigger was a big fall in the early hours of Tuesday morning
(Irish time) in the Chinese stock market.

A 9 per cent drop appeared to have been triggered by fears that
the Chinese authorities were going to bring in some new capital
tax measures to try to cool their booming stock market and
deflate the so-called ''Shanghai bubble''. They later said they
would not do this.

In a world where funds flow from one financial market to another,
it was little surprise that this caused a sell-off of shares in
Europe and the US. However, the scale of this decline came as a
surprise. This suggested that investors were starting to get
nervous about what had been a relentless upward trend in shares
in recent months. Many markets had hit record highs, including
the Iseq in Dublin.

While in general shares do not look hugely out of line when
judged by traditional measures, such as their relationship to
company profits, investors had been piling in money and appeared
to be ignoring any risk. The Dow Jones, for example, had not had
a daily fall greater than 2 per cent since last summer.

Last week, when investors got a chance to sell, they took it. And
there is no doubt that this nervousness relates much more to the
state of the US economy than to what is happening in China, where
rapid growth looks set to continue.

If growth in the US were to slow sharply, then company profits
would be hit in the US and in most other markets because so many
companies worldwide sell their goods and services into the
world's biggest economy.

So is the US really heading for difficulties?

This isn't clear, hence the confusion in the markets. One thing
that really spooked investors last week was a comment by former
Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan who said he couldn't rule
out a recession in the US later this year.

On balance, the US economy appears to be hanging in there, but
there are risks. Figures published last week showed that it grew
at an annual rate of 2.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of last
year - well below the original estimate of 3.5 per cent growth in
the fourth quarter, but still healthy enough.

The US housing market is in significant difficulties, with new
home sales down more than 16 per cent in January, compared to the
same month last year. The manufacturing sector is going through a
rocky period, though just how bad is not clear from indicators.
However, it contributes considerably less to overall economic
activity than it did in the past. The rest of the economy appears
to be chugging along and corporate profits have been reasonable.

Many analysts believe that the economy could be heading for that
fabled thing - a soft landing - and that the Fed will be able to
cut interest rates and get things moving again next year.

So why all the nerves?

There are risks. Doomsayers have long pointed to the huge US
current account balance of payments deficit as a point of
vulnerability for the economy. This deficit is mainly due to the
fact that the US imports much more than it exports.

In recent years, this hasn't mattered; investors have been happy
to put funds into the US economy, either through investing
directly in property or businesses or putting money into shares
or government bonds. This has more than made up for the outflow
of money to pay for imports.

In the nightmare scenario, these investors would get nervous and
start to pull their investment out of the US markets, leading to
a sharp fall in the value of the US dollar and potentially
triggering market chaos. There were nerves a few months ago, for
example, when the Chinese authorities talked about diversifying
their official reserves, a substantial portion of which is
invested in dollars.

There are concerns that the decline in the US housing market
could intensify, potentially hitting the rest of the economy by
damaging consider confidence and hitting the financial sector.
Already some US mortgage lenders - particularly those lending to
riskier borrowers in the so-called sub-prime market - have hit
difficulties, as property prices fall and borrowers struggle to
make repayments at higher interest rate levels.

Defaults in the sub-prime market have rocketed and the shares of
companies extending these loans have been hammered. HSBC, a
European bank with a big sub-prime exposure in the US, has set
aside more than $10 billion to cover defaults.

What will happen next?

If we knew that, we could all make a fortune on the markets. So
far, things have followed a normal enough pattern in market

A catalyst - in this case the Chinese markets - starts a sell-off
internationally. Things recover a bit on the second day as some
people believe that the initial fall has created a buying

Significantly, this time, the sell-off resumed, albeit on a
lesser scale, on day three, signalling underlying nervousness and
indicating that we are likely to be entering a prolonged period
of twitchy trading at least.

A late fall in the US on Friday will lead to a nervous opening
tomorrow in Europe.

Much will depend on the flow of US economic data, which spews out
endlessly, measuring everything from consumer confidence in Iowa
to business sentiment in Michigan.

If it starts to look gloomier, then expect more days of share

If the figures are okay and the ''soft-landing'' brigade starts
to look correct, then things could calm down in a while. Ben
Bernanke, the current Fed chairman, tried to calm things a bit by
saying that US growth could pick up by the middle of the year. If
he is correct, then it will, as one fund manager said last week,
be looked back on ''in a few months as a blip - even a buying

The difficulty, as we have seen last week, is that figures
published at roughly the same time can frequently point in
completely opposite directions, making it very difficult to see
the wood from the trees. And, until it becomes clearer, investors
will worry that we are looking at the one time in ten when a
decline turns into a rout.

Can these things take on a momentum of their own?

Yes. The self-fulfilling prophecy can happen. Market declines can
feed on themselves by damaging consumer and business confidence,
and hampering the ability of companies to raise money for
investment or acquisitions.

Complex financial links between markets can also transmit shocks
quickly across the globe. For example, many people have used low
Japanese interest rates to borrow money in Japan and invest it at
a higher yield in shares and bonds in the US and elsewhere.

For years this has been a good way to make money, but if these
investors start to liquidate their investments and sell US shares
and other dollar assets, this can itself send the dollar down and
make even more investors nervous, setting off a selling spiral.
As many of these so-called 'carry trades' unravelled last week
and investors put their money back into the Japanese currency,
its value went up on world markets. In general, money moved out
of riskier areas and into ones perceived to be safe, such as
government bonds and that old favourite in times of turmoil, the
Swiss franc.

Vast sums of borrowed money, invested through private equity
vehicles, have also pushed up markets.

If some of these funds hit trouble, it would also hit the

What are the implications for Ireland?

Most people have some financial stake in the stock market; a few
have direct investments but many more have a stake through their
pension fund or other investment funds. In the short term, those
who have funds approaching maturity, such as equity-based SSIA
funds, will be watching nervously to see what happens next. In
the months ahead the trends in the US economy are obviously of
crucial interest to us.

There is an old saying that when the US economy sneezes, the
world catches a cold. Given our reliance on US multinationals, we
would be likely to contract pneumonia if the US economy turned

More likely than a big economic collapse in the US, of course, is
that the economy there will either get through the current tricky
period and head back into a period of reasonable growth, or will
head into some kind of mild recessions from which it will emerge
after a year or 18 months.

Our own growth outlook would be a bit better, or a bit worse,
depending on how this pans out. Like all economies, we would be
exposed if the markets head into a big decline.

So far, most of the experts believe this is unlikely. But this
will not stop the world's markets having a nervous few weeks - or
months - before things start to look clearer.


In This Corner, a Leftist, Riling the Right Again

By Graham Fuller
March 4, 2007

IN Ken Loach's 1975 mini-series "Days of Hope," drunken British
soldiers billeted at an Irish farmhouse in 1916 harass a young
woman into singing for them. She renders a republican song so
plaintively that they fall silent. They have a sense of shame
"that is stronger than the drink," Mr. Loach later commented.
"And in a way she reminds them of who they are and where they
come from and their own families. It was important there to break
the stereotypes of soldiers as brutes."

His new film, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," which is set to
open March 16, also shows British soldiers interacting with rural
Irish people but is less sparing of the brutishness. A narrative
of the war of independence, it begins with a platoon of Black and
Tans, the mostly English recruits who augmented the Royal Irish
Constabulary, beating a young farm worker to death while training
their rifles on his mother, grandmother and sister. Damien
(Cillian Murphy), a student doctor who has joined an Irish
Republican Army flying column and been arrested, listens to the
screams from an adjoining cell as his brother Teddy's fingernails
are torn off during interrogation.

In a recent telephone interview Mr. Loach said that the
barbarities perpetrated in Ireland by the Tans and the
Auxiliaries, Churchill's elite "gendarmerie," are well
documented. "We could have made it far more brutal," he added.
"We could have shown teeth being pulled out, but that would have
filled the screen with blood. There is correspondence from that
time about the brutality the British were importing into

In condemning the British cabinet's sanctioning of ferocious
tactics in Ireland in 1920, two years after Sinn Fein won a
democratic mandate to form a republican parliament, Mr. Loach and
the screenwriter Paul Laverty adopt a clear ideological position.
Some British critics have been outraged that the filmmakers would
besmirch the name of the empire with the torture scenes and have
suggested that they romanticize the Irish guerrillas.

The film does depict their raids with ‚lan and makes a martyr of
more than one of them, but it doesn't skimp on their
bloodletting. "If they bring their savagery over here, we will
meet it with a savagery of our own," the leader of the flying
column announces after it has massacred the Auxies in the pivotal
Kilmichael Ambush. There's nothing romantic about Damien's
execution of an Anglo-Irish landlord and a young republican

Notwithstanding the film's depiction of these reprisals, its
winning of the Palme d'Or, the top prize at Cannes, last May
provoked the conservative British press into an "apoplectic"
reaction, as Mr. Laverty described it. A columnist for The Times
of London provocatively compared Mr. Loach to Leni Riefenstahl,
the Nazi propagandist filmmaker. The Daily Mail's film reviewer
quipped that this was a harsh judgment since "Riefenstahl was far
more visually talented."

In an article headlined "Why Does Ken Loach Loathe His Country So
Much?" another Mail writer observed, "By use of what can only be
described as a m‚lange of half-truths, he hopes he can persuade
British politicians to 'confront,' and then apologize for, the
Empire." Mr. Loach has earned more scorn by frequently comparing
the occupied Ireland of 1920-21 with modern Iraq.

Reminded of these opinions Mr. Loach said: "It's good that they
are so hostile because it shows that the film smoked them out.
How obsessed are they that they have no sense of balance? There's
a kind of paranoia there. The moment you present an alternative
view of history, they can't discuss the merits of it but rise to
the bait and go in for this abuse."

Mr. Loach, now 70, has been a thorn in the side of the right for
over four decades. His work has consistently probed the class
struggle and the exploitation of ordinary people by those in
positions of authority. These include dismissive schoolteachers
("Kes"), a bullying mother ("Family Life"), unfeeling social
service employees ("Cathy Come Home"; "Ladybird, Ladybird") and
employers who exploit and endanger workers ("Riff Raff," "Bread
and Roses," "The Navigators"). He previously championed
revolutionaries in "Land and Freedom," which showed how the
Marxist cause was betrayed by the Stalinists during the Spanish
Civil War, and "Carla's Song," which grappled with the atrocities
committed against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas by the Pentagon-
backed contras.

In "Carla's Song" a C.I.A. man jumps ship rather than further
bloody his hands. In "Days of Hope" a British soldier deserts
rather than fight the Irish. In "Hidden Agenda," which condemns
the Royal Ulster Constabulary's shoot-to-kill policy, a rogue
agent informs on British "dirty tricks" in Northern Ireland; the
film was derided by a Conservative member of Parliament, Ivor
Stanbrook, as "the I.R.A. entry" at Cannes in 1990.

"The Wind That Shakes the Barley" is sympathetic to a British
officer unhinged by his experiences at the Somme, and a Scots-
Irish soldier is so appalled by the torture of Teddy (Padraic
Delaney) and his comrades that he springs them from jail. These
aren't sops to conservatives, but an admission by Mr. Loach that
not everyone on "the wrong side" can be tarred with the same

"You could tell a tremendous story about some of the young lads
in the Black and Tans," Mr. Laverty said. "But by telling the
story we did, it gave us a way of examining, in a much richer
sense, the contradictions within the flying column and the
different perceptions of what Ireland could achieve."

Mr. Loach's films are often described as didactic for the way
they show ordinary people heatedly debating what they must do to
organize - whether as union members or resistance fighters - to
overcome oppression. In "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" a
republican court hearing to resolve a dispute between a usurious
merchant and an old woman over unpaid grocery bills evolves into
a larger issue.

Teddy supports the merchant, who helps provide arms for the
I.R.A.; Damien sides with his socialist mentor, Dan (Liam
Cunningham), who castigates the I.R.A.'s backing of local bigwigs
at the expense of the poor. A subsequent debate, held in the wake
of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which created the Irish Free State as
a self-governing dominion of the empire, further polarizes the
brothers, with tragic consequences. Their sundering prefigures
the Irish Civil War of 1922-23.

Mr. Laverty said that it is the cogency of the republicans'
arguments that offended the right-wing press: "They were furious
that ordinary people could be so articulate about what they are
fighting for. To be truthful to the times during those debates,
we researched all the arguments that were made and tried to
imagine what they would have actually felt, not what they should
have felt or debated."

Roy Foster, Carroll professor of Irish history at Oxford, wrote
in The Dublin Review that he admired these debates, but he
criticized the film's abandonment of "characterization for
didactics." He said in a recent e-mail message that its "history
was badly skewed - particularly the idea that opposition to the
Treaty was based on the wish to complete a socialist revolution,
a feeling shared by very few of the revolutionaries."

Mr. Loach countered, "We saw papers in the course of our research
that said the opposite." He cited republican socialist leaders
like James Connolly (who was executed for fomenting the 1916
Easter Rising against the British), Liam Mellows, Peadar
O'Donnell and their followers. Surely Professor Foster isn't
saying that those people "had suddenly vanished from the face of
the earth," Mr. Loach said, "and that they didn't carry their
experiences in the labor movement into the struggle. Of course
they did." Mr. Loach said that he didn't think that socialism was
the dominant idea in the republican movement, however, "and it
isn't in the film, I would argue."

"The slogan of the time was 'Labor Must Wait,' " he added, "and
the labor leaders consciously decided to put their demands on the
back burner. But there were people who objected to that. We
wanted to make certain that that point, which was largely ignored
by the establishment historians, had an outlet through characters
like Dan and Damien."

Asked if the "didactic" brickbat irritates him, Mr. Loach laughed
and said: "Profoundly - because the people who say it are also
saying that a clash of ideas is not suitable for a film. I was
brought up on Shakespeare's history plays, which are full of
debates about kingship, divine right and the rights of the
subject. I'm not making any other comparisons, but I think those
scenes are intensely dramatic."

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 March 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?