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March 13, 2007

Ahern & Hain Insist Devolution Deadline Must Be Met

News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 03/13/07 Ahern & Hain Insist Devolution Deadline Must Be Met
BT 03/13/07 Deadline To Pick Ministers Dropped
BT 03/13/07 Halfway House Deal Isn't On, Insists Hain
IT 03/13/07 Hain For Talks With DUP On Devolution
BB 03/13/07 Mandelson Denies Blair Criticism
BT 03/13/07 McCord Flies To US Over Collusion
BB 03/13/07 Irish Proposals Will Be Unveiled
BT 03/13/07 DUP In Vow To Fight New Law On Irish Language
BT 03/13/07 Water Deal May Be Offered To Get Assembly Going
BT 03/13/07 Arrest On Polling Day Was Abuse Of Electoral Process
BN 03/13/07 Govt Receives Report Into Dublin/Moanghan Bombs
SB 03/11/07 UUP And SDLP Become Casualties Of Peace
DJ 03/13/07 SDLP Not In Meltdown - Insists Durkan
BB 03/13/07 Policing Board Holds US Meetings
BN 03/13/07 Fr Troy Calls For End To Death Feud
BT 03/13/07 Tensions Rise In Ardoyne After Two Murders
BT 03/13/07 Residents Horrified & Stunned By Double Tragedy
BT 03/13/07 The Victims: The Suffering Continues
GU 03/13/07 Ten Years Of Delicate Deals And Hard Bargaining
SG 03/13/07 Irish Org Names Hillary Clinton "Person Of The Year"
BT 03/13/07 Opin: Assembly Axe Would Stir Voter Outrage
BT 03/13/07 Opin: Poll Fall-Out As Deal Edges Closer
BN 03/13/07 Taoiseach To Depart For St Patrick's Day Trip To US
BT 03/13/07 Primates Unite To Lead Armagh Celebrations
NJ 03/13/07 Popular Son Of Ireland Dies On Parade Day


Ahern And Hain Insist Devolution Deadline Must Be Met

13/03/2007 - 08:06:07

Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahern and Northern Secretary
Peter Hain have insisted that there must be a power-sharing
Executive at Stormont by the March 26 deadline.

The two men were speaking after meeting with the North's
political parties in Hillsborough Castle yesterday.

The DUP has still refused to commit itself to sharing power
with Sinn Féin and has insisted that the March 26 deadline
can be delayed.

However, Mr Ahern and Mr Hain said yesterday that this was
not the case and that devolution would be shelved
indefinitely if there was no power-sharing in two weeks'

Mr Hain also appeared to pile more pressure on the DUP to
change its stance by suggesting that controversial water
rates being imposed in the North could be scrapped by a
local power-sharing administration.


Deadline To Pick Ministers Dropped

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 08:50]
By Chris Thornton

The next planned milestone on the road back to devolution
has been quietly dropped in the aftermath of the elections.

The St Andrews Agreement had called for the parties to
nominate their intended ministers by tomorrow.

But Secretary of State Peter Hain indicated during meetings
yesterday that he won't be holding the parties to that

Some parties had objected to the schedule because it would
have required leaders to name ministers without knowing
what department they would lead.

A Government official said the change is "not a big deal"
because it was never enshrined in law.

He said the absence of nominations is "certainly not" an
indication that the Government is becoming flexible about
the deadline for a deal - March 26.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said Mr Hain had
indicated the nominations "won't be happening".

"He conceded that basically it's gone and I'm delighted,"
said Sir Reg, who will nominate two ministers if the
Executive is restored later this month.

"It was going to be a nightmare trying to identify
ministers when you don't know what departments you have."

The election results indicated the DUP will get four of the
10 departments at Stormont, with Sinn Fein in charge of
three, the UUP two and the SDLP one.

Under the system of distribution, the DUP will get the
first choice. They have already indicated that they intend
to take the Department of Finance.

But the following choices are likely to remain unknown
until the process is run in the Assembly.

The DUP will also get the third, seventh and probably 10th
choices of ministerial portfolios, depending on how the
D'Hondt formula is interpreted.

Sinn Fein will get the second, sixth and eight choices. The
UUP will choose in the fourth and ninth slots, with the
SDLP picking fifth.

c Belfast Telegraph


Halfway House Deal Isn't On, Insists Hain

[Published: Monday 12, March 2007 - 11:19]
By Noel McAdam

A two-week countdown to the 'make or break' point for
devolution began today with the Government ruling out any
'halfway house' deal.

Secretary of State Peter Hain said speculation that the
March 26 deadline could be postponed or a 'shadow' Assembly
formed was "completely mistaken".

Mr Hain was meeting Dublin Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern at
Hillsborough Castle this afternoon after earlier talks with
Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists at Stormont.

Russian roulette warning on economy hope

DUP leader Ian Paisley was today warned against playing
Russian roulette with the economic peace dividend, vital to
the restoration of devolution.

As officials from the Treasury in London arrived in
Northern Ireland to begin detailed discussions, it was also
confirmed - as first revealed in the Belfast Telegraph-
that the parties are to meet Chancellor Gordon Brown next

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said, however, only a
united front from all the parties can convince Mr Brown to
inject new money and make fiscal changes.

"I earnestly hope that Dr Paisley will not be playing
Russian roulette with this once in a lifetime opportunity
to get a restructuring deal that is more than smoke and
mirrors as was the offering from No 11 (Downing Street)
last November," Sir Reg said.

His warning came as Secretary of State Peter Hain today
accepted that details of an economic package for a restored
power-sharing Executive still have to be finalised.

But in a letter to Assembly members he said he intended to
continue with existing policy on water charges and domestic
rates if restoration of devolution is not achieved.

After months of detailed discussions on both the
Preparation and Programme for Government committees, the
details of what the parties are seeking from the Chancellor
show a large degree of consensus.

They include incentives for new foreign investment, a cut
on Corporation Tax - one of the most difficult issues for
the Chancellor - and severing the link between a new
Executive's ability to borrow as a regional administration
and the Re-Investment and Reform Initiative negotiated by
the last Executive.

In addition, a massive subvention for a range of
infrastructural priorities, including cash from the
Republic, is also on the table.

The parties have described the package Mr Brown has
outlined so far, which does not include any concessions on
Corporation Tax, as "disappointing" . Some equivalent
measure on Corporation Tax could, however, be involved.

Officials in London, Dublin and Belfast have held a number
of meetings over the past few months.

Mr Brown will want assurances over the formation of a
power-sharing Executive before he finally consents to the

c Belfast Telegraph


Hain For Talks With DUP On Devolution

Tue, Mar 13, 2007

DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley meets Northern Ireland
Secretary Peter Hain today for talks on the restoration of
devolved power-sharing government.

The talks with the DUP are the latest in a two-day series
Mr Hain is having to urge the parties towards agreement on
restoring the executive.

He met Sinn Féin yesterday and has also held talks with
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern.

Dr Paisley is determined to secure a financial settlement
before agreeing to enter government with Sinn Féin. He also
wants reassurance Sinn Féin is fully supporting policing.

Mr Hain said yesterday that Sinn Féin president Gerry
Adams's call for anyone with information about the murders
of two men in north and west Belfast to give it to police
showed he was honouring republicans' decision to back

"Sinn Féin are delivering on what they promised. It is
another reason why devolution should happen on March 26th
and that unionists should feel comfortable with being in
power with Sinn Féin," said Mr Hain.

Speaking after talks at Hillsborough Castle with Mr Ahern,
the Northern Secretary said a financial package could be
put together. Mr Hain will be with Chancellor Gordon Brown
when he meets the local parties on Thursday next week -
four days before the March 26th deadline.

"The Chancellor will be prepared to provide extra
assistance if that is what is needed to get the parties
across the line," he said.

He hinted there could be enough cash to prevent the
introduction of water charges in Northern Ireland next

c 2007


Mandelson Denies Blair Criticism

Ex-NI Secretary Peter Mandelson has rejected claims he
criticised the prime minister's handling of some aspects of
the peace process.

He was said to have accused Tony Blair of "unreasonable and
irresponsible" behaviour over "concessions" to Sinn Fein
during attempts to broker a deal.

The comments, relating to his years in office, were
contained in an interview for the Guardian newspaper.

He said it was neither a "credible or true reflection of my

The claims come as Tony Blair tries to broker a power-
sharing deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP, after the two
parties dominated last week's election to the Northern
Ireland assembly.

Mr Mandelson, a close allay of the prime minister, was
Northern Ireland Secretary between 1999 and 2001 before
resigning amid the Hinduja passport application affair.

In a Guardian interview for a series examining the prime
minister's handling of the peace process, Mr Mandelson
praised Mr Blair for his commitment to the process, dating
back to when he became Labour leader in 1994.

But he was said to have added: "In order to keep the
process in motion [Tony] would be sort of dangling carrots
and possibilities in front of the republicans which I
thought could never be delivered, that it was unreasonable
and irresponsible to intimate that you could when you knew
that you couldn't."

Former cabinet secretary Lord Butler of Brockwell also
acknowledged the difficulty facing Mr Blair in balancing
the need to bring the republicans on board without
alienating unionists.

He said: "There was a lot to be said for paying a price to
keep the bicycle moving. The issue is whether Tony Blair
paid too big a price."

However, Mr Mandelson has played down the story.

He said: "This report amplifies something I said out of all
proportion to its content and makes a generalised judgment
totally unsupported by the remarks I made.

"What they present as news is very old hat to anyone with a
passing familiarity with Northern Ireland's recent

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/13 08:55:21 GMT


McCord Flies To US Over Collusion

[Published: Monday 12, March 2007 - 11:27]
By Chris Thornton

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord flew to America today to
tell leading presidential candidates how collusion killed
his son.

But, before joining a cross- community delegation taking
part in the annual political pilgrimage to Washington for
St Patrick's Day, Mr McCord said he feared attempts were
being made to keep him out of the White House for the
annual Irish ceremony.

After meeting presidential candidates Hillary Clinton,
Barrack Obama and John McCain, Mr McCord said he hopes to
tell President George Bush about how a paid police agent
was allowed to get away with the murder of his son, Raymond

"I've been told there's people in the British Government
who don't want President Bush to hear my story," said Mr

"Tony Blair has accepted there was collusion in Raymond's
murder. Peter Hain has accepted it. So I can't see why
someone else would carry any weight with the Americans.

"After all, it would be strange if year after year they
bring the PUP into the White House - the party associated
with the UVF - but they wouldn't let in someone who's under
a death threat from that group and whose son was murdered
by them."

Mr McCord is making the trip to Washington less than a week
after receiving 1,320 votes in the Assembly election.

He failed to take a seat, but may have cost the DUP their
chance to win a third seat in North Belfast.

According to reports, Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, who
delivered the devastating report on the murder of Raymond
McCord Jnr and is now investigating republican collusion
with police, is also travelling to Washington

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and senior politicians
like Secretary of State Peter Hain are also attending.

A DUP delegation is not expected to travel to Washington
because of the pressures of negotiations to restore the
Assembly, although most other parties are expected to make
the trip to America.

A US Government spokesman said the guest list for Friday's
White House ceremony has not been finalised.

c Belfast Telegraph


Irish Proposals Will Be Unveiled

The government is expected to publish draft legislation
dealing with the Irish language.

During St Andrews talks, the government promised to bring
the proposals forward. Sinn Fein has lobbied for the
measure to be completed soon.

However, the DUP has threatened to block the law should it
come before a restored assembly.

The newly elected Northern Ireland Assembly is due to meet
for the first time on Tuesday at Stormont.

The 108 members will be asked to sign the register and
select a voting designation, either unionist, nationalist
or other.

The parties have until 26 March to agree a power-sharing
executive or the British and Irish governments say they
will shut the assembly and stop the pay of its members.

If the parties take responsibility for these matters then
they can determine the policy

Peter Hain

The government is expected to publish draft legislation
setting out how it intends to deal with Irish language
rights, while pointing out that if there is a deal by 26
March it will be up to the assembly to decide how it wishes
to deal with the matter.

The new assembly is comprised of 36 DUP members, 28 Sinn
Fein members, the UUP has 18 and the SDLP has 16.

If a power-sharing executive is formed it will have four
DUP ministers, three Sinn Fein, two UUP and one SDLP.

There are new faces on the benches, including Alliance's
Anna Lo, the first member to come from an ethnic minority

The outgoing speaker, Eileen Bell, is expected to remain in
place until a replacement is elected.

On Monday, Secretary of State Peter Hain re-stated the
position that the deadline would not be changed.

He said if there was no deal he would implement the new
water charges.

However, if a power-sharing executive wanted to follow a
different policy, the government could help them

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said his government was
willing to contribute to a financial package if it was to
the mutual benefit of people on both sides of the border.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since
October 2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at
Stormont. A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule
has been in place since that date.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/13 07:41:09 GMT


DUP In Vow To Fight New Law On Irish Language

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 11:00]
By Noel McAdam

Proposed legislation to develop the Irish language was due
to be published by the Government today as newly-elected
Assembly members met for the first time.

The draft legislation is part of the St Andrews Agreement
in which the Government pledged to work with a new
Executive to "enhance and protect" the Irish language.

The Agreement last October said the Government "will"
introduce an Irish Language Act reflecting and based on
experiences in Wales and the Irish Republic.

But it was being made clear it will be up to a new
Assembly, if it gets up and running, to decide how or
whether to advance the proposals.

The DUP has already said it will block the proposals when
and if they come before an Assembly.

Assembly members elected last week were meeting early this
afternoon in " transitional" mode as behind-the-scenes
negotiations on the restoration of a power-sharing
Executive continued.

The entirely new and returning members have to officially
sign the register and designate themselves as 'unionist',
'nationalist' or 'other' for voting purposes.

MLAs were also meeting for the first time with a Speaker
not directly elected or part of the Assembly.

Previous Speaker Eileen Bell, who did not stand in the
elections, agreed to return and is expected to remain until
a replacement is found.

There had been speculation United Kingdom Unionist leader
Bob McCartney, who was defeated in all six constituences he
stood in, could have become the new Speaker.

Among the new members sitting in the Stormont chamber for
the first time was the province's first Green MLA, Brian
Wilson from North Down.

In advance of the Government's expected climate change
bill, he said a number of Departments in Northern Ireland,
including Finance, Trade, Regional Development and
Environment, will have critical roles in action to drive
down the province's greenhouse gas emissions

"The new Executive and Assembly will have a role to play in
contributing to the year-on-year emissions reduction
targets to be set out in the new bill," he said.

c Belfast Telegraph


Water Charges Deal May Be Offered To Get Assembly Going

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 08:39]
By Chris Thornton

Hopes were rising last night that the Government is
prepared to hold back water charges if the parties agree to
share power at Stormont by the end of the month.

Delegations met with Treasury officials last night to work
over the details of a possible financial package.

Talks with Chancellor Gordon Brown are expected to follow
next week after Mr Brown delivers his budget.

After initial talks with the Government yesterday, several
party leaders focused on the possibility of getting water
charges - due to begin next month - put on hold.

The Treasury has been the driving force behind the
introduction of water charges. The last functioning
Executive at Stormont was threatened with budget
restrictions if they did not agree to bring in the tap tax.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said his party wants to
secure a " significant peace dividend".

"We would want to use a portion of this additional money to
abolish the additional water charges being driven through
by the British Direct Rule Ministers," he said.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said: "This was simply
the most significant single bread-and-butter issue when we
were going around the doorsteps."

c Belfast Telegraph


Arrest Of Pair On Polling Day Was An Abuse Of The Electoral
Process, Counsel Tells Hearing

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 08:42]

By Linda McKee

An Assembly election candidate has appeared in court
charged with attempting to murder a man more than 25 years

Supporters of Gerry McGeough lined the streets outside
Enniskillen Magistrates' Court as charges of attempted
murder were put to the republican election candidate.

McGeough (48) of Carrycastle Road, Gortmerron, Dungannon,
and Vincent McAnespie (44) of Aghabo Close, Aughnacloy,
were both charged with the attempted murder of Samuel John
Brush, a part-time UDR soldier, on June 13, 1981.

The pair were also charged with conspiring with others to
murder Mr Brush, as well as possession of guns and
ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Supporters of the two men staged a protest outside the
courthouse this morning, carrying a banner reading: "Ex
POWs and concerned Republicans against RUC/PSNI".

McGeough was arrested last week at the election count in
Omagh after he stood as an independent candidate for
Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

A detective inspector told the court that McAnespie had
replied not guilty when cautioned, while McGeough had
replied "no comment" to the charges.

He said he had become involved in the investigation in mid-
February and had become aware that McGeough had entered the
jurisdiction and would be available at the count on March

Counsel for both men said they had already been living in
this jurisdiction for some years and had been making a
considerable contribution to the local community.

Counsel for McGeough said he would be filing an abuse of
process application.

"Our case is that this is very much an assault on the
electoral process, " he said.

Cross-examining the detective inspector, the solicitor
asked for the dates of their statement of evidence
implicating McGeough, but the inspector refused to answer,
saying there were two boxes full of statements.

The pair were remanded in custody to appear at Dungannon
Magistrates' Court on April 4 but are able to apply for
High Court bail.

c Belfast Telegraph


Govt Receives Latest Report Into Dublin/Moanghan Bombs

13/03/2007 - 09:45:07

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has received the findings of
barrister Patrick McEntee's inquiry into the garda
investigation of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Mr McEntee was asked to conduct an examination after
Justice Henry Barron's initial inquiry into the 1974
attacks raised questions about the garda investigation.

Justice Barron said the Garda¡ failed to follow up a number
leads and appeared to close down their investigation

He also raised concerns about files that had gone missing
from both the garda archives and the Department of Justice.

Thirty-three people were killed when loyalist
paramilitaries set off three car bombs in Dublin and one in
Monaghan in May 1974.

There have long been suspicions that members of the British
security forces helped those responsible for the

The Justice for the Forgotten group that campaigns on
behalf of the victims and their families says it hopes Mr
McEntee's report will be published in the coming weeks.


UUP And SDLP Become Casualties Of Peace

11 March 2007 By Colm Heatley in Belfast

While Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had
plenty to celebrate after last week's Assembly elections,
their two respective rivals - the SDLP and UUP - were left
to contemplate what the future holds for them.

The biggest losers were Reg Empey's Ulster Unionist Party
(UUP), whose performance was nothing short of catastrophic.

After its trouncing in the 2005 Westminster elections, this
contest was about ensuring no further slippage. However,
the UUP didn't manage that and its vote dropped by almost 8
per cent, losing the party nine seats in the process.

It has 14.9 per cent of the popular vote, a big turnaround
for a party which was the undisputed leader of unionism
when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998.

When Empey took over the fractured UUP in 2005, he said he
wanted to ``calm the party down''. It looks as though he
may have put it to sleep.

His party's vote management, in the words of its only MP,
Sylvia Hermon, left ``a lot to be desired''. From an
organisational point of view, the party which ran the North
unchallenged for nearly 50 years was a shambles. In tight
constituencies it fielded three candidates when two would
have been enough in some cases. The result was that none of
its candidates was elected.

It continued to suffer the fallout of defections to the
DUP, with many former UUP members - among them Arlene
Foster and Jeffrey Donaldson taking voters with them when
they left.

The UUP has an uncertain future and looks as if it has been
swallowed up by the DUP. It has lost a succession of
established figures, including Ken Maginnis, John Taylor,
David Trimble and Donaldson, but has failed to replace

Empey will probably keep his job as leader only because
there is nobody of sufficient calibre to replace him. The
prospect of such a deeply conservative and male-dominated
party being able to successfully reposition itself to
appeal to the unionist masses is slim.

The SDLP had a bad election. It targeted Newry and Armagh,
together with Strangford, as two constituencies where it
could gain a seat.

In Newry and Armagh, former Sinn Fein MLA Davy Hyland was
running on an antiSinn Fein ticket and that had given the
SDLP hope that it could get a second candidate, Sharon
Haughey, elected. In the event it didn't, and it lost out
in Strangford too.

Winning a second seat in Newry and Armagh was so important
to the SDLP that party leader Mark Durkan took personal
control of the campaign in the constituency.

Worse still, the party lost its MLA seat in West Tyrone to
independent candidate Dr Kieran Deeny.

The SDLP has always attracted the Catholic middle classes
to its ranks, and its elected representatives have been
professional, career politicians rather than political

With yet another bad election under its belt, it may face
difficulty in attracting new recruits and the party's
strategists will have to plot a course out of its current

It lost two seats and dropped almost 2 percentage points in
the elections. Not a disaster, but when assessed with its
other election results since 1998, it is further proof of a
downward trend for the SDLP.

This election offered the best chance in years for the SDLP
to make gains at the expense of Sinn Fein, and it still
dropped seats and votes.

Unlike the UUP, the SDLP has tried to revamp itself in
recent years and has made a strong play for the younger
vote but, outside of Derry and specific strongholds in
south Down, its vote continues to decrease.

The party is finding it hard to shake off its middleclass,
middle-aged and middleof-the-road image. It looks as though
it and the UUP are casualties of the peace process.

SDLP Not In Meltdown - Insists Durkan

SDLP LEADER Mark Durkan has dismissed suggestions that his
party is in "meltdown" following its disappointing showing
in the Assembly elections.

The Foyle MP insists his party, which won 16 seats (15.2%
of vote) across the North - two down on the 2003 poll and
eight less than in the inaugural 1998 election - still has
a key role to play in politics here.

He told the "Journal" that, while his party has a "positive
mandate", it needs to "refocus, regroup" and get a stronger
grip on constituency organisation which, he acknowledged
"clearly cost us seats."

Mr. Durkan - who was returned to the Assembly in the Foyle
constituency along with two party colleagues - is confident
the SDLP can bounce back from last week's less than
impressive result.

His party now has twelve seats less than Sinn Fein in the
Assembly and, in the event of a restoration of devolution,
will secure just one ministerial portfolio - a far cry from
the 1998 election when his party commanded four departments
in the Stormont Executive.

"The SDLP is not in meltdown," he insisted last night.
"However, we do have to respond more strongly to the
challenge of change. We campaigned in this election on a
very positive practical basis but we knew that we were up
against it in circumstances where the government and others
were sending the public the message that they could seal a
deal by voting for Sinn Fein and the DUP.

"The new positions of Sinn Fein and the DUP in relation to
powersharing in the North, North-South co-operation and a
new beginning to policing are, of course, a vindication of
the SDLP's consistent stance on those very concepts.
However, there is clearly a difference between political
vindication and electoral reward."

The SDLP, he insisted, would play a positive role in the
institutions "if other parties allow them to work."
"Indeed, the working life of those institutions will show
up the shortcomings of other parties including the new
vetoes that the DUP got out of recent negotiations."

He added: "As we move beyond the politics surrounding the
policing issue, and as we move beyond the process posturing
of two parties, the public policy agenda will allow the
SDLP to play more to its strengths. As a party, we have
suffered as a result of stalemates and standoffs; indeed
this was part of the calculation of those who held things
back and allowed others to hold us all up.

Politics moves on

"As we work to ensure that politics moves on, the SDLP will
refocus, regroup and get a stronger grip on constituency
organisation which clearly cost us seats."

13 March 2007


Policing Board Holds US Meetings

Members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board are starting
a four-day visit to the US on Tuesday for a series of
meetings with American politicians.

Board members will hold talks with senior administration
officials, senators, members of Congress and policing

The seven-member delegation, headed by board chairman
Professor Desmond Rea, will visit New York and Washington.

They will also attend events as part of the St Patrick's
week celebrations.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Sir Desmond said it was a
"critical moment in Northern Ireland's history and policing
remains a central issue".

"The board recognises that there are challenges ahead. I am
confident that the board will continue to meet its
important policing oversight responsibilities," Sir Desmond

"We have come a long way in a relatively short space of
time. The US administration and a range of US audiences
have taken a close interest in Northern Ireland affairs.

"The board is grateful to all those who have been prepared
to voice support and give encouragement to policing in
Northern Ireland."

The other members of the delegation are Barry Gilligan,
Pauline McCabe, the DUP's Ian Paisley jnr, Ulster Unionist
Danny Kennedy, PUP leader Dawn Purvis and the SDLP's
Dolores Kelly.

Among those they will be meeting with is the US special
envoy Dr Paul Dobriansky as well as the British and Irish
ambassadors to the US.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/13 07:09:48 GMT


Priest Calls For End To Death Feud

13/03/2007 - 10:56:24

A priest warned today that feuding which killed two people
should end before more lives are lost.

Fr Aidan Troy called for calm after Joe Jones was found
bludgeoned to death in Ardoyne and father-of-five Edward
Burns was shot dead at a GAA club in west Belfast. Both
were aged in their 30s.

A third man survived a west Belfast shooting.

There was more trouble last night, with homes across the
sectarian interface from nationalist Ardoyne in Protestant
Twaddell Avenue petrol-bombed and bottles and bricks thrown
during angry clashes involving police.

Fr Troy, from north Belfast, said: "This is unacceptable to
us. We have families here who are absolutely devastated by
these murders.

"They have funerals to prepare for and while we can talk
about society's ills and the Assembly, that is not ranking
with them. I would appeal for an end to this."

Joe Jones survived a gun attack in Bogside Meadows, close
to where Mr Burns was discovered, near a GAA Club on the
Falls Road in West Belfast.

Yesterday he was beaten beyond recognition. He was found in
an alleyway off Elmfield Street.

Recently, two houses in Ardoyne were raked with gunfire and
there has been tension in the area since then.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, from the Rev Ian Paisley's
Democratic Unionist Party, said the rioting had to stop.

"This was an unprovoked attack on vulnerable Protestant
homes by republican thugs who came from the Ardoyne area to
terrorise ordinary families in their own homes," he said.

"One young couple has had their car damaged and a fairly
tense stand-off has ensued. These incidents must stop. It
is simply unacceptable that Protestant homes on this
interface should be attacked in such a vicious and
unprovoked manner."


Tensions Rise In Ardoyne After Two Murders

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 08:35]
By Deborah McAleese

Tensions were heightened in north Belfast today following a
night of disturbances in the wake of two murders in the

Police, community workers and the parish priest were forced
to intervene as petrol bombs, bricks and bottles were
thrown in the Ardoyne area, close to the spot where
yesterday's second murder victim was found.

Detectives stepped up their murder hunts today after the
bodies of two men were found in separate Belfast locations
yesterday morning.

North Belfast parish priest Fr Aidan Troy today said the
families of the dead men are completely devastated by the
murders and are now focused on organising their funerals.

Father-of-five Edward Burns, from north Belfast, was shot
dead and his body discovered in the Bog Meadows area of
west Belfast shortly after 3am yesterday.

The blinds at the Burns' family home remained closed this
morning and there was no answer at the front door.

Police were alerted to Mr Burns' body after another man
admitted himself to the Royal Victoria Hospital with a gun
shot wound to the upper body.

The badly beaten body of a second man - father-of-three Joe
Jones from Poleglass - was found in an alleyway at Elmfield
Street, just off the Crumlin Road close to Ardoyne, at
around 8am yesterday morning.

Mr Jones' family was too upset to talk this morning.

Tensions began to mount in the area yesterday afternoon
after disturbances broke out among a number of residents.

Fresh trouble flared last night as rival groups began to
throw petrol bombs, bricks and bottles.
Fr Troy joined police officers and community workers in a
bid to calm the situation.

"After the murders yesterday, the last thing we needed was
this," he said.

"I do not know if the disturbances were connected to the
murders as there has been unease across the peace line, but
people must be allowed to live in peace and quiet.

"I have spoken to the families of the men who were murdered
and naturally these people have a huge hill to climb in

A third person remained in hospital after being shot during
one of the incidents.

The first murder victim, believed to have been in his mid
30s, was discovered in the Bog Meadows area of west
Belfast, close to a Falls Road GAA club, in the early hours
of yesterday morning. He had died from a gunshot wound.

The badly beaten body of the second murder victim was found
in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast at around 8am.

Police were unable to say if the two murders were linked.

Detectives would not comment on any motive for the
killings. However, there have been reports that they may
have been both related to a dissident republican feud.
There is also speculation that at least one of the murders
was drugs-related.

Detective Superintendent George Clarke said: "We are at the
very early stages in these inquiries. We have two victims
found in different parts of the city at different times.

"We cannot say if they are linked."

Police were alerted to the first murder after a man was
admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital with a gunshot
wound. He had been driven there by a man in a silver saloon

He said he had been shot in the Bog Meadows area where
police later found a body.

The area was cordoned off yesterday as forensic officers
combed the scene.

Meanwhile, tensions grew in north Belfast as forensic
officers carried out investigations and searched a house
close to the scene where the second murder victim was

Police were last night still trying to identify the man who
was so badly beaten around the head and face that a priest
who gave him the last rites said it was impossible to
recognise him.

Detective Superintendent Clarke said that police are
investigating reports of a disturbance in the area during
the night and have been following a number of lines of

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams urged full public co-
operation with police. The West Belfast MP said: "If they
did not die of natural causes, if they were killed, then
anyone with any information should bring that information
to the police and should co-operate to bring the
perpetrators to justice."

Anyone with information about the murders has been asked to
contact police on 0845 600 8000 or alternatively on
Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

c Belfast Telegraph


Residents Left Horrified And Stunned By Double Tragedy On
Their Doorsteps

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 08:37]
By Lesley-Anne Henry

Stunned locals in north and west Belfast were last night
coming to terms with news of two murders on their

Anxious Ardoyne residents in the north of the city waited
throughout yesterday to hear news of the identity of the
man found bludgeoned to death in Elmfield Street.

West Belfast residents also spoke of their shock after a
man with a gunshot wound was found dead near playing

The north Belfast victim was found battered in an alleyway
at the back of Ardoyne Working Mens Club - known locally as
'The League'. It is understood the club manager discovered
the body when he went to open up at about 8am.

One woman who lives nearby but did not want to be named
said: "You are just waiting to see who gets the knock at
their door. You just want to know who it is. It is strange
that no one knows in this area. Usually everyone knows
everyone round here."

The scene remained sealed all day with a police cordon
closing off the upper end of Enfield Street.

A number of items including a large object which was
wrapped in brown paper in a sealed bag were removed from
the scene.

Hours into the investigation police forensic teams moved
into a house in Butler Walk near where the body was

Father Aiden Troy, who administered the last rites, said
the victim was unrecognisable. He told the Belfast
Telegraph the injuries were the worst he had seen in 35

"His face has been very, very badly disfigured and even if
I did know who he was I would not have recognised him.

"The community is in absolute shock. Imagine waking up on
Monday morning to something like this - a murder scene.
This is something that we thought we wouldn't see again.
And because we don't know who it is we don't know why they
were killed we don't know the implications. But someone is
dead and I would say it is totally wrong and that's just
awful for him and his family.

"There is huge anxiety in the community. I have spoken to
two families who are concerned about their loved ones who
haven't come home yet. We can just hope and pray."

Tensions in Ardoyne rose throughout the afternoon with some
people becoming frustrated at not being allowed into their
homes. At one point a row broke out among a number of
residents and police but community workers moved in to calm
the situation quickly.

Meanwhile, in the west of the city people living near Rossa
GAA Club spoke of their shock at the discovery of the body.

The man, who was understood to be in his 30s, was
discovered at the bottom of Milltown Row, a narrow lane
which runs behind Rossa GAA club.

One elderly resident said she was frightened by the news.

"I didn't hear anything. I knew nothing about it until I
heard it on the news this morning. I thought it might have
been suicide because there have been so many. But murder,
it is scary - I am afraid to answer the door at night.

"It would frighten you to think that something like that
could happen and you wouldn't hear anything."

Forensic examinations were ongoing yesterday with dozens of
uniformed police officers combing the club grounds and lane
for evidence.

c Belfast Telegraph


The Victims: The Suffering Continues

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 09:23]
By Noel McAdam

Murder was only the start for many victims of the Troubles.
After losing a loved one, the families left behind have
found the road to recovery to be a long one, filled with
further painful hurdles.

The overwhelming majority of victims killed in the Troubles
were males. Some estimates put the figure as high as around
90%. They left behind them wives and partners and parents
and children who, in turn, became victims.

But these victims were also survivors - or at some stage in
their ghastly experiences, slowly made the hard transition
from victim to survivor.

Yet, quite apart from their unspeakable grief, many of them
faced further hurdles. Many authorities and organisations
were ill-prepared to assist them. In many cases, there was
only more heartache, not help.

The former interim Victims Commissioner, Bertha McDougall,
has drawn attention to some of the forgotten victims. Here
are three of their stories:

Mary regularly received death threats, both by word of
mouth and on the telephone. She came from an area hostile
to police and was married to police officer Colin.

The couple became aware they were being watched and
followed on a number of occasions but Colin, though a
policeman since the mid-1980s, was afraid that advising his
superiors might only make matters worse.

Although he was seeing a psychologist, the full extent of
Colin's illness, post traumatic stress disorder, only
became apparent much later.

In 1988, he resigned from the RUC and did not apply for any
pension. The couple moved to a remote rural property in the
Republic. Eventually, their financial resources were
expended, but they remained apprehensive that applying for
assistance would mean revealing Colin's past.

Just two years later their son, who was still living in
Belfast and under paramilitary threat, was shot dead. The
threats had become a reality.

Colin and Mary withdrew further and closed themselves away
from the world, still not claiming any benefits or seeing a

After some time, they were persuaded to see the former
interim Victims Commissioner Bertha McDougall, who put them
in contact with the Police Federation Rehabilitation

Now, they plan to move back to Northern Ireland, Mrs
McDougall says: " It reinforces the message that post
traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often not fully
recognised or diagnosed at the time the trauma occurred,
but resurfaces and requires treatment many years later."

Catherine still vividly recalls the hail of bullets
striking the walls in the hallway of her home. She lay on
the floor of the kitchen until the gunfire subsided, before
running to a neighbour's house for help.

For several weeks before the attack, Catherine was aware
her husband seemed preoccupied and worried about something,
although he reassured her nothing was the matter.

In retrospect, Catherine believes he may have received some
sort of warnings or threats prior to his murder.

She has the highest regard for the young police officer who
was first on the scene. However, she feels that the
investigating detective team who called periodically were
unsympathetic and insensitive.

In the aftermath of the attack, Catherine moved into her
mother's house with her young children.

She feels she was badly treated and discriminated against
by the Housing Executive in her attempts to get a suitable
replacement dwelling.

Catherine was finally re-housed in accommodation that was
in very poor condition and is aggrieved that she was left
on her own to restore the property, without any real

Shortly after her husband's murder, Catherine was put on
medication for her trauma. Some 30 years later, she is
still nervous in certain circumstances and remains on

Although her children were too young to remember what
happened, they nevertheless missed growing up with two
parents. Catherine also believes that her own hurt and
anger after the murder impacted adversely on the children.

She received compensation but Catherine considers that she
was treated with disdain and made to feel like a criminal
by the Senior Counsel for the NIO.

She is aggrieved at the overall poor levels of compensation
she and others received during the 1970s and at the
inconsistency in the amounts allocated to different

Catherine also feels that there is inconsistency, in that
some categories of victim have their pensions taxed, while
others do not.

Ann lost her husband when he was caught in a no-warning
bomb on his way home from work in 1980. It had gone off

Left with three young children aged five and under, Ann
soon discovered the fact that her family is of mixed
religious and ethnic background compounded her problems.
She has had to move house 18 times in 10 years after
suffering repeated racist abuse. In one attack, the
family's car was damaged.

Ann suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and
all three daughters continue to have health problems. There
is now a seven-year-old grandchild also.

Though they have now found an area they consider reasonably
safe, the family have been unable to make any headway in
their attempts to get Housing Executive accommodation.

Under existing Housing Executive criteria, Ann and her
family fall a long way short of the points total they need.

Former interim Victims Commissioner Mrs McDougall says the
fact that Ann and her family were (and still are) victims
of the Troubles is not taken into account per se in the
Housing Executive criteria or scoring.

Nor do the problems of mixed religious and ethnic
background appear to have been factored in. Ann feels badly
let down by 'the system' as she believes that she is still
suffering and that the public sector lacks sympathy,
flexibility and understanding.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ten Years Of Delicate Deals And Hard Bargaining

In the first of a three-part series looking at the prime
minister's handling of the peace process, senior officials
and politicians - including four surviving secretaries of
state - give their views on strategy and on whether too
many concessions have been made

Nicholas Watt, Patrick Wintour and Owen Bowcott
Tuesday March 13, 2007
The Guardian

On a crisp winter morning five days before Christmas in
2004, Tony Blair's closest aide was being driven into
Belfast when his phone rang with some disturbing news.
Hours earlier the IRA had stolen œ26.5m in what was then
the United Kingdom's biggest bank robbery, Jonathan Powell,
the prime minister's chief of staff was told.

"We felt pretty stupid, that was pretty grim," one senior
British official says of the robbery at the headquarters of
the Northern Bank in Belfast's Donegall Square, days after
the peace process had hit the rocks. "This was carefully
planned by leadership figures. It was deliberate."

The Independent Monitoring Commission, which rules on
paramilitary activity, said the IRA carried out the
robbery, a charge denied by republicans.

The robbery guaranteed a frosty atmosphere when Mr Powell
met the leadership of Sinn Féin later that day, and
provides a telling illustration of the delicate path Tony
Blair has had to tread as he has nurtured the Northern
Ireland peace process over the past decade.

From the moment he first shook hands with Gerry Adams in
1997, the prime minister was dealing with a movement which,
until relatively late in his premiership, had not
completely forsworn the armed struggle. But Mr Blair
believed that republicans would not complete that journey
unless he became the first British prime minister since
Lloyd George to engage directly with the Sinn Féin
leadership. With the clock now ticking on his departure
from Downing Street, the prime minister hopes his gamble
will soon pay off; for that to happen, Ian Paisley must
swallow his doubts and sit down in government with Sinn
Féin. A deal, which Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, Martin
McGuinness, says would amount to "one of the biggest
political developments on the island of Ireland in over 100
years", would allow Mr Blair to leave office having
disproved Churchill's famous dictum that nothing changes
amid the "dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone".

It has been a bumpy 10 years, though. They have seen the
implosion of the once mighty Ulster Unionist party and
endless debate at the highest levels of government about
whether republicans' intentions were genuine.

Blair's long-term thinking

Tony Blair had been thinking long and hard about how to
tackle Northern Ireland from the moment he became Labour
leader in July 1994. Northern Ireland was a dominant issue
at the time because the IRA was on the verge of declaring
its ceasefire in response to the 1993 Downing Street
declaration which had enshrined the principle of consent.

John Major regards the declaration as one of his finest
achievements because it reassured Unionists that a united
Ireland would not be imposed on them, while guaranteeing to
nationalists that Britain would not stand in the way of
Irish unity. Sensitive to the Irish question from his
childhood summer holidays visiting Ulster Protestant
relatives, the new Labour leader soon demonstrated his
belief that consent - and British neutrality - was the
fundamental rock of the peace process.

"That was really interesting," says the former Ulster
Unionist leader Lord Trimble of Mr Blair's move to drop
Labour's support for a united Ireland - a policy known as
Irish unity by consent - in October 1994, and endorse the
neutrality of the Downing Street declaration.

Exactly two weeks after his arrival in Downing Street, the
new prime minister put into practice three years of
thinking when he appeared at one of the main events in the
unionist calendar. In a speech to the Royal Ulster
Agricultural Show, Mr Blair declared that nobody in the
room was likely to see a united Ireland in their lifetime.
Moments later he took the first major gamble of his
premiership by offering Sinn Féin negotiations with
government officials, even though there was no IRA
ceasefire. "The settlement train is leaving, I want you on
that train," Mr Blair said.

The speech was hailed as a sign of the prime minister's
decisiveness as he exploited his large mandate to build on
John Major's legacy and revive the peace process. "There
appeared to be an unlocking of opportunity," recalls the
former US senator George Mitchell who had been chairing
talks without much success for the best part of a year.

It set the tone for the new government's approach to the
peace process: reassurance for unionists that nothing would
imposed on them, while reaching out to republicans in a way
that would have been unimaginable just a few weeks before.

This was a delicate balancing act which sometimes went

The prime minister's offer of talks with Sinn Féin at
official level looked dangerously over-ambitious a month
after his speech when the IRA shot dead two RUC officers in
Lurgan, Co Armagh. An emotional appeal by Mr Blair on US
television to republicans to end their violence helped to
persuade the IRA to restore its ceasefire in July.

Paul Murphy, a Northern Ireland minister at the time who
later became secretary of state, believes the then Northern
Ireland secretary, Mo Mowlam, played a crucial role by
convincing Sinn Féin that this was a different British

"Republicans ... had been used to very different
secretaries of state over the years," Mr Murphy says of his
former boss who was able to tell Sinn Féin to "stop fucking
about", according to one official. Her chumminess with Sinn
Féin, which unsettled unionists, paved the way for the
prime minister to take the step that had always been beyond
John Major: to meet the republican leadership face to face
at No 10.

Historic No 10 meeting

The moment finally came on a freezing Thursday afternoon in
December 1997.

Officials waited nervously to greet the first Sinn Féin
delegation to visit 10 Downing Street in 76 years. Both
sides felt what Mr Blair later famously called the "hand of
history" when Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness walked into the
cabinet room which came close to being blown up in the
IRA's 1991 mortar attack.

"Everyone was a bit nervous and hadn't really got a
relationship," recalls one senior British official present
for the talks. "Before they sat down they said: 'So this is
where all the trouble happened.' We on our side were
thinking they meant the mortars that came over and landed
in the garden [in 1991]. They meant Michael Collins coming
in and negotiating the [1921 Anglo-Irish] treaty." The
decision by Mr Adams to remind his audience of Collins, the
Sinn Féin leader who signed his own death warrant by
accepting the partition of Ireland, was not lost on Downing
Street. But Mr Adams sent a clear signal that he was
determined to avoid the same fate as Collins, who was
killed by his own side, by including a well-known
republican hardliner in his delegation.

"Martin Ferris, I remember him turning up," says Sir John
Holmes - a key No 10 adviser on Northern Ireland between
1996-99 - of the convicted gun runner who was later named
by the Irish government as a member of the IRA army
council, which he denies. "They've got to bring these guys
along. So they have got to be involved here somewhere."
Downing Street interpreted the presence of Mr Ferris, now a
member of the Irish parliament, as a sign that Sinn Féin
would place the preservation of republican unity above all
else. This led to what No 10 called the "bicycle" theory in
which the pace of the peace process was maintained, often
with dramatic concessions to Sinn Féin, to ensure that the
party did not lose what one official called the republican
"copyright" to others. John Reid, Northern Ireland
secretary between 2001-02, said: "Any time the republican
movement has tried to reach an accommodation with the
British government before, there has been a split in the
republican movement and they've ended up killing each
other. You have to be understanding of historical
circumstances without being naive. I think by and large
Tony has got it right."

Final settlement

It took another nine years of hard grind to resolve the
three issues blocking a final settlement - decommissioning
IRA arms, securing an IRA declaration that its war was
over, and winning republican support for policing. Along
the way the Northern Ireland assembly was suspended
numerous times, the Ulster Unionists almost disappeared
from Westminster, as moderate Unionists threw in their lot
with Ian Paisley after losing patience with Sinn Féin and
the concessions they had won.

One of the most controversial of these came in the 1998
Good Friday agreement when Unionists reluctantly agreed to
the early release of paramilitary prisoners. "It was an
extremely distasteful business, nobody wanted to do this,"
says Sir John Holmes. "But it was clear to all of us that
if we didn't do this then there wouldn't be a deal." Lord
Trimble says that the referendum on the agreement was
almost lost when the IRA's Balcombe Street gang, jailed at
the Old Bailey in 1977, were freed from prison to make a
triumphalist appearance at a Sinn Féin conference where the
party formally accepted the accord. "The mood on the street
was appallingly bad," Lord Trimble says.

The crisis so soon after the signing of the agreement came
as little surprise to Senator Mitchell. "This agreement did
not guarantee peace and stability. Many hard decisions lay
ahead," he says.

Unease at the pace of concessions to Sinn Féin was not
confined to unionists. A proposal to offer a form of
amnesty to IRA fugitives - known as "on-the-runs" -
prompted one of the most serious rows between Mr Blair and
Peter Mandelson in 1999. The concession was shelved last
year. Mr Mandelson, Northern Ireland secretary between
1999-2001, is critical of the government's approach to Sinn
Féin whose discipline is described as "Stalinist" by one
senior official. "One problem with Tony, Tony's fundamental
view of Northern Ireland is that the process is the policy
... [that] if it stops you will roll back into disaster and
God alone knows what." Mr Mandelson believes that Gerry
Adams and Martin McGuinness are brilliant at driving a hard
bargain. "When Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness entered
the room you were expected to stand up. They were senior
military, they were top brass. Apart from being leaders of
Sinn Féin they were leaders of the military council. And
they knew it and they knew you knew it. They were lordly,
this pair. They were always operating psychological games
on me, always. They are bloody hard people. There was very,
very tough psychological game-playing, a lot of unspoken
intimidation and I played it back not by intimidating them
but by not being fazed by it. I did not address them as if
they were leaders of the military council, so that fiction
was maintained ... But I had a way of letting them know
that I knew what was going on ... It was as if you were
talking to some recalcitrant member of the lobby staff of
the Wolverhampton Gazette is the way I handled it: firmly."

The Sinn Féin MPs have always denied being IRA leaders.

Peter Hain, current Northern Ireland secretary, agrees Sinn
Féin are hard, though he is more generous, not least
because the IRA decommissioned all its weapons and declared
an end to its war under his watch. "Gerry Adams and Martin
McGuinness are very, very good negotiators - professionally
probably the best negotiators I have come across. They were
clearly ready to move the movement on. They showed
tremendous long-term political vision in moving
republicanism from where it was to where it now is."

Martin McGuinness, who could be sitting in a power-sharing
executive with Ian Paisley by the end of the month,
believes the government struck the right balance. "Tony
Blair [challenged] the Thatcher mentality that the enemy
was the republicans, the enemy was the IRA, that they had
to be defeated at all costs. I think it was his willingess
to do that that made an impression on us."

'We were in touch with Thatcher'

Sinn Féin could send - and receive - messages to and from
Margaret Thatcher and John Major "within minutes", the
party's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness claims.

Britain's secret "back channel", which was exposed in 1993,
was in place, off and on, for the best part of 20 years
from the early 1970s.

In his Guardian interview, Mr McGuinness sheds new light on
the channel which allowed him to send secret messages to
London via the former Derry priest Dennis Bradley to an MI6
agent, Michael Oatley, known as the "mountain climber".

"It was contact in such a way that at the highest level of
the British government, prime ministerial level, a message
could be given to me within minutes of that message being
despatched," Mr McGuinness said. This allowed him to
communicate with the two prime ministers targeted for
assassination by the IRA. "If I wanted to get a message to
the British government at the highest level, prime
ministerial level, we had a similar mechanism where within
minutes, no more than an hour, an hour and a half, that
message would be on the desk of the British prime

Mr McGuinness sent his most famous message when he declared
in February 1993 that the war was over and he needed
Britain's help to end it. Dennis Bradley owned up to
sending the message which had the curious effect of
destroying the "back channel" while spurring on the peace
process. Sinn Féin's account is strongly disputed by Lord
Butler, cabinet secretary to Lady Thatcher and Sir John.

"That is absolute nonsense," he told the Guardian. "I was
completely in John Major's confidence on it - but you can
never be quite sure if you're in Margaret Thatcher's."

Nicholas Watt and Owen Bowcott


Irish Organization Names Hillary Clinton "Person Of The

March 13, 2007

Clinton, D-New York, was honored in New York City for her
dedication to Ireland and Irish American issues, according
to a press release from Clinton's office.

The honor came during the magazine's 22nd annual "Top 100"
awards ceremony where 100 of the nation's top Irish-
Americans were honored for their achievements and their
commitment to Irish heritage.

The magazine recognized Clinton's support for peace in


Opin: Assembly Axe Would Stir Voter Outrage

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 09:09]

With a scant two weeks for the DUP and Sinn Fein to agree a
complex deal involving crucial issues of trust and finance,
the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, is again emphasising
that no extra time is possible. The final whistle on the
newly-elected Assembly will sound, he says, if every detail
is not concluded.

This is his way, and presumably he has the backing of both
governments, of putting the maximum pressure on the
politicians, eager to retain the salaries for which they
have qualified. Yet what if, even with the best will in the
world, the party leaders are unable to strike a deal in
time? Is the election to be declared null and void?

According to Mr Hain, he would have no choice but to revoke
the Restoration Order, under the provisions of the Northern
Ireland Act 2006, and dissolve the Assembly. Direct rule
would carry on, undeterred, and the British and Irish
governments would combine to implement as much as possible
of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements.

As a means of concentrating minds, he may feel that such
talk is justified, but how realistic is it, given the
enormity of the task the politicians face? Although Tony
Blair threatened to pull the plug on the election, if he
thought an executive could not be formed, he let it be
conducted on the basis that the deal was a work in
progress. He can hardly blame the voters for choosing their
strongest negotiators.

It was always predictable that the real bargaining would
not begin until the election provided proof that the
gambles taken by the leading parties, against the wishes of
their dissidents, had come off. Now that they have overcome
all opposition, they can do business - but only if the work
of months can be crushed into a matter of days.
All eyes now are on the DUP, for while the other parties
are ready to take their executive places, it has laid down
two conditions which will be difficult to meet. Firstly, it
demands that Sinn Fein, to whom it has yet to speak, proves
its commitment to policing and law and order. Secondly, it
insists on a generous economic package from the government,
including tax breaks, to ensure that the devolved executive
has a long-term future.

The next few days will indicate whether enough can be done,
in the time remaining, to seal the deal. The only certainty
is that the vast majority of the electorate want it, and
would be outraged if the government shut up shop, because
another deadline had passed. Mr Hain's credibility would be
holed, if extra time were ordered, but that should not
deter Mr Blair.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Poll Fall-Out As Deal Edges Closer

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 11:12]

Will he, won't he, join the dance? DUP leader, the Rev Ian
Paisley, probably will, says Maurice Hayes, but won't
announce his intentions until the last moment

The DUP and Sinn Fein, at leadership level at least, are
both already in government together and are busy imagining
the portfolios they will hold.

While Sinn Fein wish to press on to improve their image in
the forthcoming elections in the South, the DUP need more
time before being able to declare, by whatever criteria
seem convincing at the time, that they are satisfied with
Sinn Fein's commitment to law and order and their support
for the police.

Actually, of the two issues requiring attention over the
next few weeks, policing is receding in importance as the
size of the handsel is negotiated with the British
government. Nothing would make it easier for the DUP to
announce a victory, and to sell to its followers the
imperative need to go into government (even with
republicans) in order to claim it, than a once in a
lifetime chance to spend a sizeable capital sum from the
British Treasury.

Indeed, money apart, if Gordon Brown were to say "Yes" to a
12.5pc corporate tax for Northern Ireland, which the
parties all agree to be necessary to jump-start the
economy, to encourage foreign investment and to break the
crippling dependence on the public sector, DUP would
probably say " snap" and jump into government with Sinn
Fein without delay.

On policing, the doubters in the DUP have been strengthened
in their scepticism by the declaration of Michelle
Gildernew, MP, in the heat of the campaign, that she would
not tell the police if she knew of armed activity by
republican dissidents.

On the other hand, the ham- fisted (at best) arrest of two
republican political activists in the middle of an
election, for suspected involvement in a 25- year-old
crime, will make it more difficult for Sinn Fein to be
unequivocal on policing.

Not only they, but a large swathe of the nationalist
population, will wonder why the police chose such a
politically sensitive moment, and will be confirmed in the
view that every time political movement seems possible, the
police make dramatic interventions which rarely lead to
charges, much less convictions.

Apart from the election of Anna Low, and Dawn Purvis
holding David Ervine's old seat, and Mitchel McLaughlin
topping the poll in South Antrim on his first outing there,
the casual observer can only be struck by the success of
both Sinn Fein and the DUP in managing the vote so as to
secure the maximum return in the form of seats.

In this context, the success of Sinn Fein in getting all
five candidates elected in a six-seater constituency in
West Belfast reflects an almost military precision in
marshalling voters. Although Alex Atwood clung on to the
last seat for SDLP, the loss of Diane Dodds means that the
one-sixth unionist minority in the area is left without a
voice, and that too can have consequences.

The election was a resounding success for the DUP and Sinn
Fein. On both sides voters chose to strengthen the
bargaining position of those they thought would most
robustly defend their interests. They also empowered them
to get on with the business. Both were given a pointer in
the elimination of dissidents on the republican side and
Bob McCartney as the loudest critic of the DUP leadership.
The exit polls in unionist Strangford were also interesting
in their support for compromise by the DUP.

It was a disastrous election for the UUP, despite picking
up a few seats in late transfers. The SDLP's disappointment
was made worse by dropping a couple of seats, and losing
out on crucial transfers which would have made the
difference between one Executive post and two. There are
also knock-on effects for both parties in the loss of
committee chairs and places on the Policing Board.

The likelihood is now that the DUP and Sinn Fein will enter
government together - the big question is when. They could
do so by March 26. Very few people believe that if they are
teetering on the edge of agreement at midnight on March 25
(the Feast of the Annunciation, although that might not
impress Dr Paisley) the governments will shut up shop. A
delay of months would not be tolerable, but most would
settle for an agreement achieved by Easter.

Part of the trouble with the deadline is that nobody, least
of all the DUP, believes Mr Hain. He has done his pale
impression of John Wayne telling the posse to mount up so
often that the DUP believe he is firing blanks this time

Mr Blair may yet get his legacy - and be able to offer
advice about how to run a government in which senior
ministers do not speak to each other.

Meantime, however, the focus is on the Chancellor, who has
the opportunity not only to settle the financial issues,
but to get the damned thing off the agenda before he enters
No 10.

c Belfast Telegraph


Taoiseach To Depart On Annual St Patrick's Day Trip To US

13/03/2007 - 07:57:14

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, is due to depart today on his
annual St Patrick's Day trip the United States.

Mr Ahern will initially visit New York for a series of
events before travelling to Washington on Friday for a
meeting with President George W Bush.

His engagements in New York include a meeting with the new
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as a visit to the
World Trade Centre memorial.

He will also meet groups campaigning for residency rights
for illegal Irish immigrants in the US, as well as Senators
Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy.


Primates Unite To Lead Armagh Celebrations

[Published: Tuesday 13, March 2007 - 11:09]
By Alf McCreary

The two Church Primates will be making a major contribution
to the celebrations in Armagh on St Patrick's Day this

Archbishop Alan Harper, in his first public engagement
following his enthronement as the new Church of Ireland
Primate, will be joined by the Roman Catholic Primate
Archbishop Sean Brady at a pageant in the Market Square in
Armagh, just below the hill where St Patrick reputedly
established his first main church in the early 5th century.

The Rev Andrew Rawding, one of the organisers of the
pageant which begins at 2.30pm, said: "The epic story of
Patrick's struggle with slavery, exploitation, paganism and
violence will be performed by local actors, dancers and
musicians in a spectacular production titled Patrick, In
His Own Words."

"Patrick can be a real inspiration to young Christians. He
persevered in his faith, despite his failings, overcoming
his experience of slavery and oppression to be a messenger
of hope and good news."

The music for the event will be led by Ian Hannah, worship
leader at St Patrick's Church, Coleraine, and members of
the annual Belfast Christian Youth event called Summer

Later, the two archbishops will lead a 5pm event entitled
In the Spirit of Patrick, which will take place in both
Armagh cathedrals - Catholic and Protestant.

Mr Rawding said: "A Christian celebration of Patrick will
be enhanced by a joint walk of witness between the two

"This will be led by the archbishops and other church
figures, and will involve church members from all the main

The Armagh celebrations on St Patrick's day will be rounded
off by a fireworks display on Saturday evening, commencing
at 8.15pm.

This will bring to an end one of the most comprehensive St
Patrick's Day celebrations in the historic city of Armagh
in recent years.

There will also be services in churches throughout Northern
Ireland on March 17.

These include a pilgrimage at Saul, where Patrick was
reputed to have landed on his missionary campaign, and
after an ecumenical service in Down Cathedral, a wreath
will be laid on his reputed grave nearby.

c Belfast Telegraph


Popular Son Of Ireland Dies On Parade Day

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
By Jay Levin
Staff Writer

Margaret and Thomas J. Keane were familiar faces at the
Bergen County St. Patrick's Day Parade. The Dumont couple -
- Margaret was grand marshal in 1989 and Thomas deputy
grand marshal last year -- loved greeting friends and
neighbors while marching up Washington Avenue in

So when the 84-year-old Thomas Keane, a tall, proud native
of County Clare, died Sunday morning at Hackensack
University Medical Center, six hours before the 2007 parade
was to kick off, Margaret Keane and her family made a swift
decision: Don't tell anyone.

"I didn't want to spoil the day," said Margaret Keane,
noting that many families traditionally have parties and
get-togethers after the parade.

How well did the Keane family keep the news under wraps?
Dick Moloney of Dumont, Sunday's grand marshal, said he
didn't learn of his friend's death until Monday morning,
when he saw Keane's death notice in The Record. By then,
the family was telephoning friends.

"The parade is very special for everyone participating, and
we did not want to cast any power over the day," said the
Keanes' daughter, Peggy Keane of Dumont.

Keane, who retired in 1984 as a New York Telephone
installation manager, was a longtime member of the Irish
American Social Club of Bergen County. Last year, as deputy
grand marshal, he donned his green tie and green, white and
gold sash and joined the St. Patrick's parade midway.

"He marched every year, rain or shine," Margaret Keane

She figures her husband of 57 years was there Sunday as

"Let's face it," she said. "He was there in spirit."

She said her husband was a devout man loyal to Ireland who
kept his family and friends in stitches. "He forgot
nothing," she said. "He had great jokes, always had
everyone laughing. He was such a nice man, and we had such
a great life."

"Tom was a good guy," Moloney said. "Always had lots of
stories, good stories."

Keane, who emigrated from Ireland in 1931, met Margaret
Mulligan at a dance at an Irish social hall in the Bronx.
"I was there with my mother and another lady and her
children, and our friend saw him at the door and called him
over. She said, 'Here's a nice girl who would like to
dance.' And that was it."

The couple moved to Dumont from the Bronx in 1969.

Keane, who kept his grandchildren's sports schedules on the
refrigerator and never missed their games, gave back to the
community. He was a fund-raiser for the Association for
Retarded Citizens and a driver for Meals on Wheels. In
1996, the Irish American Social Club gave Keane the George
Gunning Award for service to the Irish community.

In addition to his wife and daughter Peggy, Keane is
survived by sons Thomas and Mark, both of Oradell; daughter
Susan Keane of Closter; a brother, Robert, of Queens; a
sister, Eileen O'Connell, of Sebastian, Fla.; and eight

The visitation is Wednesday, from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9
p.m., at Frech Funeral Home in Dumont. The funeral Mass
will be said at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Mary's Church in
Dumont. Interment will be in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in
Hawthorne, N.Y.

The family suggests donations to the St. Patrick Fathers,
70 Edgewater Road, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010.


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