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March 08, 2007

BT Election 07 Blog as of 13:48

Looking for a way forward the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams,
leaves a polling station in Belfast. Photo: Reuters

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 03/08/07 Election 07 Blog - 13:48
BT 03/08/07 North Down: How The Polling Went
BT 30/08/07 South Down: How The Polling Went
BT 03/08/07 Mid Ulster: How The Polling Went
BT 03/08/07 Foyle: How The Polling Went
BT 03/08/07 Strangford: How The Polling Went
BT 30/08/07 North Antrim: How The Polling Went
BT 03/08/07 Fermanagh & South Tyrone: How The Polling Went
BB 03/08/07 Stormont Election Count Under Way
BT 03/08/07 Little Sense Of Occasion As They Amble To The Polls
BT 03/08/07 Exit Poll Leaves DUP Top Dogs
BT 03/08/07 Paisley Has Backed A Sure Thing
SM 03/08/07 Settle It Or You're Out, Blair Tells Belfast MPs
AS 03/08/07 Irish Rally Adds Impetus To Legalization Movement
DC 03/08/07 Irish Immigrants Call For Reform
BT 03/08/07 Expert On Terrorism Is New Head Of MI5
BB 03/08/07 Travers: Ex-Judge Furious At Man's Arrest
BT 03/08/07 Travers: Magistrate & Daughter Gunned Down
EI 03/08/07 Opin: Coalition Formed By Two Enemies
DT 03/08/07 Ferndale Goes Green For St. Patrick's Day Parade
IT 03/08/07 Visitor Numbers To Ireland Up By 8%


Election 07 Blog

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Keep up-to-date with our Political Correspondent
Chris Thornton & Noel McAdam

8 Mar 07, 13:48
The DUP's Jimmy Spratt and sitting SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell
appear to be running neck and neck in South Belfast. After the
first count, both the SDLP deputy leader and the DUP standard-
bearer were said to be on around 14.2 % of the vote. According to
count insiders, Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey is next on 13.4 % and
Alliance's relative newcomer Anna Lo fourth with 12.4%. None of
them, however, have reached the quota so it will all depend, as
usual, on transfers.

8 Mar 07, 12:37
The flurry of count gossip has begun with reports than Alliance
Deputy leader Naomi Long is set to top the poll in East Belfast.
Interestingly, the sources are not from within the Alliance camp,
but from both the DUP and Ulster Unionist teams. If true, not
only is this a considerable fillup for the hard-working Ms Long
but it also points to evidence that the DUP's vote management
efforts may be paying off. Progressive Unionist Dawn Purvis was
also said by count insiders to be polling well though she may
struggle to retain the seat gained by the late David Ervine. NMcA

8 Mar 07, 12:37
Reports about voter apathy were fading as fast as yesterday's
newspaper headlines which predicted widespread indifference.
Instead the earliest indications of turnout showed it could
average around the 60 pc mark. That would be broadly in keeping
with the Belfast Telegraph's Ipsos-MORI poll prediction last week
of a 61 pc turnout. North Belfast came in first with a 60.0
turnout figure, followed by exactly 60 pc in Lagan Valley and
61.3 pc in North Antrim. East Antrim bucked the trend with a 53
pc figure but East Londonderry was being put at 60.92 pc. NMcA

8 Mar 07, 12:34
Big turnout in Newry and Armagh, and early reports claim an
independent washout - Sinn Fein and DUP outcasts Davy Hyland and
Paul Berry are said to have disappointing early returns. That
would indicate voters are sticking with the status quo. CT

8 Mar 07, 12:25
More evidence of DUP vote management? Several politicos in East
Belfast report that Alliance deputy leader Naomi Long has topped
the poll there, a place previously reserved for DUP deputy Peter
Robinson. If that's right, the DUP is making a concerted effort
to get a third seat. CT

8 Mar 07, 12:19
South Antrim was once (in Westminster terms) the safest unionist
seat in Northern Ireland. Early reports say it will soon have its
first Sinn Fein representative. Mitchel McLaughlin, blow-in from
Derry, is said be looking well. But then again, the Shinners
thought Martin Meehan had made it last time, but he found
transfers harder to get than an MBE for Martin McGuinness. CT

8 Mar 07, 12:09
The future's Green? North Down speculation, coming with a heavy
health warning, is that Green candidate Brian Wilson (former
Alliance and a popular, long-serving councillor) will turf out
his old party to capture a seat. UK Unionist Bob McCartney is
also said to be in danger of losing his seat (from early boxes).
The Ulster Unionists think they will hold two seats, but DUP vote
management is said to be very impressive. CT

8 Mar 07, 12:05
Election officials would like us to file this under "nothing to
see here." A security guard didn't turn up to guard the ballot
boxes at Omagh Leisure Centre last night, where West Tyrone and
Fermanagh-South Tyrone are currently being counted. The officials
say the two leisure centre staff who were there, the centre's
security cameras, and the police patrol outside provided adequate
security. Certainly we've heard no complaints from the parties.
But I wonder if yer man made it out to vote? CT

8 Mar 07, 12:02
The starting gun for speculation has gone off...our first rumour
is no suprise. Jim Wells is said to be running ahead from the
Ballynahinch boxes, which would secure him one of the two
unionist seats in South Down. The big question is whether they
capture the second unionist seat, vacated by Dermot Nesbitt of
the UUP. If the Ulster Unionists hold, it would be a good
indication for them. If the DUP take it, expect them to finish
around 40 seats overall... CT


North Down: How The Polling Went

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 09:44]
By Sam McBride

Confusion reigned in Ulster's wealthiest constituency last night
as many North Down voters backed the DUP but for diametrically
opposing reasons.

Some electors said they now supported the party, believing it
would bring back devolution by entering an executive with Sinn
Fein, while others said they believed that the DUP would keep
Sinn Fein out of government.

Many electors said they believed that former MP Bob McCartney
would struggle to retain his seat.

By 2pm, of the 1,724 people registered to vote at First Holywood
Presbyterian Church, 400 mostly elderly people had cast ballots.

As the election coincided with market day in Bangor, a presiding
officer in the town said more elderly people had turned out to
vote, although only 200 votes were registered by noon.

One of the first voters at Bangor's Clandeboye Primary School was
Bertie Hamilton, a baker, and his wife, a civil servant.

Mr Hamilton said they normally voted DUP but were now voting for
Bob McCartney, citing water rates as a key issue.

But the next voter, a health worker, said she was switching from
Mr McCartney to Peter Weir of the DUP because devolution would
benefit the health service.

In tranquil Groomsport, a retired schoolmaster said he was
backing the DUP, "to keep terrorists out of government".

c Belfast Telegraph


South Down: How The Polling Went

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 08:41]
By Ben Lowry

Arriving at Rathfriland polling station yesterday afternoon, John
Malcolmson was still undecided on whether to switch his
traditional allegiance from UUP to DUP.

"I think it's a bit of a smart move," the 25-year-old joiner said
of Dr Paisley's party. "They've put Sinn Fein under a lot of

Another man arriving at Iveagh Primary School said that he was
voting for the first time ever in his 65 years. He was planning
to support the UK Unionists.

"I want no devolution," the man said. "They are sitting with a
lot of convicts."

Other afternoon voters included a man and wife, in their 40s, who
were sticking with their traditional DUP vote.

"It'll work," said the man, when asked about a DUP-Sinn Fein

In the nearby republican village of Kilcoo, voters were remaining
tight-lipped about their preferences but Sinn Fein activists were
confident that they were winning overwhelming support.

Among the Kilcoo voters were John McComb and his 18-year- old son
James, who have a Protestant background but were splitting their
highest preferences between the SDLP and the Greens.

In Crossgar, SDLP candidate Margaret Ritchie was one of the
earliest voters of the day.

Another was Irish historian Clive Scoular, who voted

"It is nice to be able to vote for a UK-wide party," said Mr
Scoular, who grew up in Scotland.

c Belfast Telegraph


Mid Ulster: How The Polling Went

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 09:37]
By Claire Regan

Voters in Mid Ulster take their elections very seriously - and
yesterday's Assembly poll appeared to be no exception to that

The constituency consistently delivers some of the highest
turnout statistics in any election and yesterday's seemingly busy
polls indicated nothing will change this time around.

Sinn Fein canvassers kept a very visible presence at the polling
stations located in predominantly Catholic areas and visited by
the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.

And it may be no coincidence that these stations appeared to be
the busiest of all those visited across south Derry and County
Tyrone as well.

The SDLP also kept a high presence in these areas as part of its
efforts to capture one of the three seats Sinn Fein currently

Constituents voting at St Mary's Primary School in Maghera and St
Mary's Primary School in Draperstown, both in south Derry, were
greeted by the sight of too many caravans at the gates of the
schools, occupied by canvassers from each of the two parties.

Further east in the constituency into Co Tyrone, St Patrick's
Primary School in Mullinahoe, Ardboe, was a busy focal point for
Sinn Fein canvassers.

The school was surrounded by dozens of voters' cars at around 2pm
? normally a quiet time of any election day.

In contrast, polling stations in the more predominantly unionist
areas of the constituency, such as Coagh, Knockloughrim,
Tobermore and Castledawson, seemed much quieter but still saw a
more sporadic turnout.

c Belfast Telegraph


Foyle: How The Polling Went

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 09:38]
By Brendan McDaid

Voting Foyle remained steady throughout yesterday as Sinn Fein
and a host of independents made their final bid to unseat the
SDLP on party leader Mark Durkan's home turf.

A host of immaculately- groomed big hitters on the political
scene ? including Durkan, Martin McGuinness and Gregory Campbell
- turned out early yesterday to vote and launch a last- minute
charm offensive on the electorate.

Kick-starting the Assembly and booting out water charges seemed
foremost in the mind of the Maiden City voters.

At Nelson Drive youth centre, driving theory test centre worker
Jill McCarron (59) from Bridgewater said: "I don't like what I
think the outcome will be ? the two extreme parties getting in. I
am voting for an anti-war candidate who is also against payment
of water charges."

Waterside company director Philip Ross (54) said: "We need the
Assembly to move things forward and there seems to be genuine
hope now that that can happen."

His hairdresser wife, Charmaine (48), added that a serious
rethink was necessary on water charges.

At St Brigid's Primary School in the cityside, fitness instructor
Mary Bell from Carnhill said a new Assembly must "bring jobs back
to Derry".

"We have absolutely nothing in this city," she added.

c Belfast Telegraph


Strangford: How The Polling Went

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 09:39]
By Sam McBride

Electoral staff and party canvassers in Strangford were banking
on football to bring voters out before polls closed last night.

The morning's bright sunshine gave way to overcast skies as the
afternoon wore on but party activists were hopeful that men,
especially, would come out to vote before last night's Champions
League games.

"I hope people come out and vote before the football match," DUP
candidate Iris Robinson said.

She brushed aside the challenge posed by two anti-agreement
unionists and added: "People realise it's a choice between Sinn
Fein and ourselves - smaller parties are just wasting votes."

At Dundonald Primary School, a DUP canvasser said the mid-
afternoon attendance appeared to be up on 2005's Westminster
election. But down the road at the Elim Church, the presiding
officer thought polling was slower than usual.

DUP canvassers were the only presence outside many polling
stations throughout the morning.

In Newtownards, early voter Richard McKibbin voted for the DUP on
his way home from work.

"I used to vote for the Ulster Unionists until about four years
ago," the middle-aged aircraft fitter said.

Mrs Robinson was in a confident mood before casting her vote with
husband Peter and daughter Rebecca. Careful vote management could
mean all four DUP candidates will be elected, she said.

c Belfast Telegraph


North Antrim: How The Polling Went

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 08:42]
By Lesley Ann Henry

Voters in North Antrim turned out yesterday with great
expectations that there would be an Assembly on March 26.

From Ballymena to Ballycastle, the mood matched the sunny weather
and there were quite a number of people claiming to be voting for
the first time in a decade.

Polling at most stations was described as steady. As predicted,
the morning's slow start picked up at about midday and even at
the most rural outposts it was a case of one in, one out, ahead
of the teatime rush.

On the smallest and most remote polling station at Rathlin
Island, most of the 89 voters had their say by teatime. And the
presiding officer was confident that the traditional 100% turnout
would be complete.

Back on the mainland in Ballycastle voters were chirpy, with few
complaints about it being the 10th election in as many years.
Seventy-five-year-old Paul McCarry said: "I didn't see any point
voting before, but now there seems to be more hope this time."

Moving further inland into Ian Paisley's heartland, the jovial
atmosphere continued.

In the staunchly loyalist Harryville area of Ballymena,
canvassers, both for and against the St Andrews Agreement, stood
side by side cracking jokes and enjoying the afternoon sunshine.
But perhaps the biggest laugh was raised, even among the DUP
supporters, when a Doberman dog made a play for an election
poster featuring Ian Paisley Jnr.

Also in Ballymena, 64-year-old Winston White, who hasn't cast a
vote for 10 years, said: "I don't know if there will be an
Assembly. I hope there is. I would like to see it. The DUP are
going to have to share with Sinn Fein. They just have to."

c Belfast Telegraph


Fermanagh & South Tyrone: How The Polling Went

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 08:45]
By Linda McKee

Although polling started slowly in Fermanagh and South Tyrone,
voters in Dungannon were facing traffic problems from early in
the day.

Indeed, several of the parties ensconced outside Dungannon
Primary School were asked by police to move their election
caravans because they were parked on double yellow lines.

One elderly SDLP voter, who did not want to give his name, said
he hoped the election would mean something this time.

Asked whether he was confident of seeing the executive restored,
he said: "Hopefully. I could run the thing myself."

Former social development minister Maurice Morrow, who was
manning the DUP caravan in Dungannon, cast his vote in Moygashel.

Howard Primary School in the village saw a steady stream of
voters through the day.

One electoral staff member said: "There's been a good steady
turnout and the poll has been conducted well."

Down on the border, Roslea's polling station was the scene of one
of the biggest election posters in the constituency.

Sinn Fein canvassers said it was busier than most elections ?
"not much, but it's noticeable".

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew almost ended up
casting a spoiled vote at Eglish Primary School when her son
Emmet (4) expressed a strong desire to show off his writing
skills and inscribe his name on her ballot paper.

Michelle said: "Emmet was conceived after the 2001 election. He's
not five yet and this is his fourth election."

c Belfast Telegraph


Stormont Election Count Under Way

Counting of votes cast in the election for the Northern Ireland
Assembly has got under way.

Ballot boxes were taken from polling stations on Wednesday, after
a day in which turnout was said to be up on the 2003 assembly
election in some areas.

They were opened at 0900 GMT, and the first results are due this

The British and Irish governments hope the outcome will lead to
an agreement on power-sharing and the restoration of devolved
government to Stormont.

A power-sharing executive is due to be formed on 26 March.

Polling overall on Wednesday was reported to be above 2003 levels
in areas including East Londonderry, North Antrim and parts of

Nearly 250 candidates were standing across 18 constituencies and
more than 1m people in Northern Ireland were eligible to vote in
the election.

There were about 600 polling stations, with the smallest on
Rathlin Island, off the north Antrim coastline.

There were 46 DUP candidates, 38 Ulster Unionist, 37 Sinn Fein,
35 SDLP and 18 Alliance candidates.

There were also 13 UKUP candidates - who include the party leader
standing in six different constituencies - 13 Green Party, nine
Conservative and six Workers Party candidates.

The Make Politicians History Party fielded the same candidate in
the four Belfast constituencies, whilst the Progressive Unionist
Party was running three candidates and there were two for the
Socialist Party.

There was one candidate each for the following parties: Labour,
People Before Profit, Pro-capitalism, Social Environmental
Alliance and UKIP.

There were 26 independent candidates, who included six Republican
Sinn Fein candidates. They are being treated by the Electoral
Office as independents, because they are not registered as a
political party.

You can get all the latest results by clicking on the Vote 07
website where you will be able to watch live coverage from count
centres across Northern Ireland from midday on Thursday. A full
results service is also available on Ceefax page 190.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/08 11:12:28 GMT


Little Sense Of Occasion As They Amble To The Polls

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 09:56]
By Eugene Moloney

It was to Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley that the foreign film crews
flocked yesterday as the two political leaders set out to cast
their votes.

In East Belfast, the DUP leader, in a tightly-buttoned raincoat
complete with red, white and blue rosette and accompanied by his
wife Eileen, was up early to cast his vote, while over in West
Belfast Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams also found himself
surrounded by a large crowd of reporters as he went to cast his
vote on the Glen Road.

In sharp contrast, there was no large-scale media scrum as Ulster
Unionist leader Reg Empey set out to vote in his constituency of
East Belfast, nor for that matter in Derry when the SDLP's Mark
Durkan went to vote.

It was a quiet start to polling with no real sense of atmosphere
surrounding the day's events. A slow start to polling surprised
no-one in Belfast. They tend to vote after tea time there.

During the day the radio reported how in West Belfast a number of
voters had been turned away because of incorrect ID. It seemed
some 50 to 60 voters had been issued with cards bearing
photographs which did not match the name on the card.

In times past there may have been accusations of dirty tricks by
the electoral office but yesterday Sinn Fein officials simply
shrugged their shoulders and accepted that mistakes can happen.

Party spokesmen were dismissing as an "urban myth" media reports
that fears that last night's Celtic match could prevent people
going out to vote in Nationalist areas had resulted in the party
laying on taxis to ferry people from city pubs to polling booths.
However, outside St Kevin's church hall polling station on the
Falls Road party stalwarts said the number of postal votes
applied for in the run up to the election would seem to imply
that a lot of Nationalist voters had headed to Italy for the

"Last time there would have been about 300 to 400 postal votes,
this time there were 1,200 applications although only 900 were
allowed," said Caoimhin Macgiolla Mhin.

And would Gerry Adams be watching the game? "He's not really into
soccer," said a party spokesman, before quickly adding "he'd
prefer Gaelic games."

Across the city, near Great Victoria Street, a giant mural, with
a masked gunman and clenched red fist, declared: "You are now
entering Loyalist Sandy Row, heartland of South Belfast Freedom
Fighters". In contrast to a bustling Falls Road, the peace
process has not been good to the area. Local people complain that
rising property prices mean new apartment and office complexes
are being built at the expense of affordable housing.

In the John McMichael Prisoners Enterprise Project, Jim Watt said
the feeling on the ground was that, "a lot of people fear Sinn
Fein will become the largest party."

He said those voting for the DUP were doing so in the knowledge
that they probably will sit down with Sinn Fein but also in the
hope that they (the DUP) "will not capitulate to everything which
is forced upon them by our own Government."

c Belfast Telegraph


Exit Poll Leaves DUP Top Dogs

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 10:43]

The DUP has consolidated its position as the largest party within
unionism and a clear majority of its voters will accept a
government with Sinn Fein, according to a snapshot exit poll in
one key unionist constituency.

The Belfast Telegraph asked almost 100 people leaving Ballygowan
polling station, in Strangford, how they had voted yesterday
evening, and compared the figures to the last Assembly results in
the area.

Strangford is a good indicator of the mood within unionism - in
the 1980s unionists split roughly two to one UUP over DUP. Since
2003, that ratio has been more than reversed.

Of the 63 voters who were prepared to divulge how they had cast
their ballot in this poll, a clear majority, 39, voted DUP, while
13 supported the Ulster Unionists. The Alliance got four votes,
SDLP two, UK Unionists 2, and three other minor candidates got a
vote each.

In the 2003 Assembly election, a DUP analysis of the four voting
boxes from Ballygowan gave the party a median 53.5% share of the

The exit poll yesterday has them on 62% in Ballygowan, an
increase of 8%. It is not possible to compare this figure with
the 2005 elections, which were for Westminster and local

But the exit poll indicates that the DUP has maintained the
support of UUP voters who came over to them in 2005.

When the sample Ballygowan DUP voters, and a number of DUP voters
leaving the polls in neighbouring North Down, were asked if they
would be prepared to accept a coalition with Sinn Fein, a clear
majority were open to the idea.

This is believed to be in line with DUP consultation, which found
around 80% of respondents prepared to back the party if there
were safeguards.

Thirteen of the 27 responses that could be easily categorised
yesterday seemed happy to share power with Sinn Fein without much

"You have to run with it, the future," said one man.

A further four voters were positive about the sharing power with
republicans, providing Sinn Fein proved its democratic

Four more were unhappy with the idea but saw little alternative.

Five respondents were unequivocally against.

"I would be highly disappointed," said one young woman at the
prospect of the DUP joining Sinn Fein.

One person had no fixed view.

The results of our straw poll were as follows:

DUP 39 (62%), UUP 13, Alliance 4, SDLP 2, UKU 2, Ind Unionist 1,
Conservative 1, Green 1


(In the 2003 Assembly, the DUP got 53.5% of the vote in

c Belfast Telegraph


Paisley Has Backed A Sure Thing

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 10:41]

What was the election about? For the DUP, it could be about
owning the Executive. Chris Thornton reports on why today's
results could determine what the DUP do next

Gamblers aren't the DUP's usual target audience, but Ian
Paisley's election campaign has convinced the punters of two

According to bookmaker Paddy Power, smart money is saying the DUP
isn't yet ready for a deal and won't accept a power-sharing
arrangement by the 26th of this month, the date of the
Government's deadline.

But punters are also persuaded that the DUP is serious about
making that leap eventually and they're wagering strongly on a
settlement before the end of 2007.

If they're right on both counts, the payouts will mean that Mr
Paisley's efforts to get gamblers to leave their sinful ways will
be that much harder. It also leaves him with more persuasion to

This time there will be two audiences: the Government and the
sceptics in his own party. If the results go right for them today
and tomorrow, expect the DUP to adopt themes for each of them
over the coming weeks: cash and control.

Starting on Monday, the Government will be putting enormous
effort into getting Mr Paisley to sign on the dotted line by
March 26.

The DUP can rightly expect pressure - while they argue Sinn Fein
have to do more on policing, London and Dublin and a fair section
of public opinion believe the next move is theirs.

They do, however, have a lever with which to push back: the
financial package they've talked up a lot in recent weeks. This
isn't an easy demand for the Government to meet because it's not
just about delivering bagfuls of cash that Gordon Brown might
have lying around.

Senior DUP members say they are after things that are much more
challenging to the Treasury than mere money: significant
structural change like a reduction in corporation tax and a
relaxation of the Treasury drive to make sure the household tax
burden here is as heavy as it is in England (in other words, an
easing of rates and water charges).

It's a pretty ambitious shopping list, but in any negotiation you
have to be prepared for the startling scenario where the other
side says yes.

In that case, the DUP would still have to address the doubters in
their own party. The sceptics in the DUP, the senior ones anyway,
have for the most part kept their concerns to themselves during
the campaign. But that won't last.

The results today and tomorrow may go a long way to persuading

Clearly the DUP expects to do well, since they sought the
election. They certainly didn't ask for it so they could lose

But Peter Robinson, the DUP's arch strategist, won't be banking
on the thrill of victory to win sceptics over.

The fruits of victory could be far more convincing.

Probably just under 60 of the Assembly's 108 seats should go to
the two unionist parties. With the right splits, that would
probably deliver a unionist majority in the Executive.

Even more significant would be a substantial DUP gain.

If they break 40 seats - and if the UUP crumble - the DUP could
hold half the Executive on their own.

Consider that alongside the DUP's objectives in negotiations over
the past few years. They've consistently sought more centralised
control within the Executive, so that ministers will have to
bring major decisions to the Executive, where they could be voted
down by other ministers. The Finance Ministry, which the DUP says
it will take, may also be able to limit the ambitions of other
ministers through greater control of the purse-strings.

So if Sinn Fein wind up with the Department of Regional
Development and want to build a Dundalk to Sligo road through
Armagh and Fermanagh, as they were talking about at their ard
fheis last weekend, they might find the money and agreement
difficult to dislodge from a DUP controlled Executive.

A big result today will let Mr Paisley argue that he's in a great
position to keep Sinn Fein corralled. It may not make the
sceptics happy, but it could be enough to persuade them that the
Doc's backed a cert.

c Belfast Telegraph


Settle It Or You're Out, Blair Tells Belfast MPs

Sarah Lyall and Eamon Quinn in Belfast
March 9, 2007

EVERY development is a historic turning point in the politics of
Northern Ireland, except when it isn't. Deadlines come and go.
Progress creeps along, stalls, then sputters back to life.

So voters who went to the polls in Northern Ireland on Wednesday
to try to resurrect the deadlocked political process had no
illusions that they had reached the final chapter in their long
and complicated story.

Many said they just believed the time had come, finally, for
Northern Ireland to move beyond its scarred, fighting past.

"We've just got to get things up and running again so we can
address the things that really matter to people - schools,
employment," said Linda Baker, a shop assistant in the Shankill
Road, the city's Protestant stronghold.

The election is meant to decide how many of the 108 assembly
members will be from unionist parties - Protestants who want to
remain part of Great Britain - and how many from nationalist
parties: Catholics who favour a united Ireland.

The assembly was suspended five years ago over sectarian
squabbling. The vote was one in a series of intricate steps meant
to restore it and self-government.

But for that to happen, the unionist and nationalist parties have
to agree.

Sinn Fein, the main nationalist party, says it has shown its
goodwill by accepting the destruction of weapons belonging to the
Irish Republican Army and endorsing a plan for a reconstituted
police force. Some of its members argue that it has given up too

It remains to be seen whether the concessions are enough to
satisfy the unionists, especially the Reverend Ian Paisley,
leader of the Democratic Unionists, the largest Protestant party.

The British and Irish governments have set a deadline of March
26. If no government has been formed by then, the British Prime
Minister, Tony Blair, has warned, the assembly will be disbanded
and its members stripped of their salaries and perks.

The New York Times


Irish Rally Near Capitol Adds Impetus To Immigrant-Legalization

Hearst Newspapers
Tucson, Arizona Published: 03.08.2007

WASHINGTON - Thousands of illegal Irish immigrants and their
supporters rallied in the capital Wednesday in support of
legislation that would give the border crossers a chance to come
out of the shadows and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.

The boisterous rally just steps away from the U.S. Capitol
building capped a day of action by the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform - and came on the eve of a new congressional
debate about revamping the nation's immigration system.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., and
their allies in the House are putting the final touches on a bill
that would give millions of illegal entrants a chance to work in
the United States legally.

Speaking to a crowd of immigrants waving U.S. flags, singing
Gaelic songs and wearing shirts proclaiming "Legalize the Irish,"
Kennedy called the United States a "nation of immigrants" and
noted his own Irish ancestry.

"This is really a fight in terms of the future . . . of the soul
of our country," Kennedy told the cheering crowd.

The 15-month-old Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform has turned
heads on Capitol Hill. McCain has credited the organization with
helping to sway as many as seven senators to support his broad
immigration legislation last year. That bill was blocked in the
GOP-controlled House.

Jennifer Duffy, a graduate student from Yonkers, N.Y., who made
the trek to Washington Wednesday morning, said the Irish
lobbyists are a reminder that the issue also affects immigrants
other than those from Latin America.

While Hispanics make up most of the United States' estimated 12
million illegal entrants, roughly 50,000 are from Ireland, the
Irish Lobby said.

Most entered the country legally on tourist, work or student
visas, and then stayed after their documents expired.


Irish Immigrants Call For Reform

Posted Thursday, March 8 2007 01:11:16 am
By Alison McCauley
News Reporter

Supporters who are illegal immigrants asked that their faces not
be shown.

Alison McCauley

The fresh blanket of snow on the ground didn't keep Capitol Hill
from being covered in green yesterday. The Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform organized thousands from around the country to
gain visibility and lobby legislators to support the McCain-
Kennedy immigration reform bill.

The long lines extending from the House and Senate legislative
office buildings were filled all day with demonstrators wearing
ILIR's signature "Legalize the Irish" t-shirts intermingled with
Hill staffers chatting with one another about the unusual sight.

"A lot of people don't even know the Irish have a problem," an
ILIR member named Una said. Una, who did not want to disclose her
last name due to her illegal status, was born in Ireland and came
to the U.S. 10 years ago. She met her husband, Dermot, here. She
said the two have been married for six years and have a three-
year-old daughter.

Dermot came to America 15 years ago and now runs his own
construction company, which has 10 employees, in Yonkers, NY.

"Let us pay the taxes!" he said.

Dermot said that he pays his employees prevailing wages and
carries out critical projects for his community and other parts
of New York City. In the past, he obtained temporary visas to
live and work in the U.S., he said, but after Sept. 11, 2001, his
renewal requests were not approved.

Dermot is not alone. ILIR was founded by Niall O'Dowd and Ciaran
Staunton in December 2005 to be a voice for the estimated 50,000
undocumented Irish immigrants who live in the U.S. today. Since
they make up less than one percent of the 11 million illegal
immigrants in America, it's no wonder that they don't receive
much media attention. However, the organization may be slowly
making headway in Congress.

Several members, including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Edward
Kennedy (D-MA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Hillary Clinton (D-NY),
Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Anthony
Weiner (D-NY), William Delahunt (D-MA), and Marty Meehan (D-MA),
have attended ILIR rallies and spoken in support of the
organization's cause. Rep. Engel is a sponsor of the group, and a
member of their advisory board. NY State Sen. Jeffery Klein also
sponsors ILIR, according to the the group's website.

At the kick-off event for ILIR about a year ago in Yonkers,
O'Dowd said to the 400 or so gathered that it was their own fault
that the Kennedy-McCain bill had faded away since its
introduction to the Senate in May 2005.

At this year's rally, close to 6,000 demonstrators came to
Washington to urge their representatives to support the

The non-partisan organization actually supports stronger border
security and caps on the numbers of immigrants issued visas. Many
of ILIR's leaders have a long history of successful diplomatic
efforts to reduce violence in Northern Ireland.

O'Dowd testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on
immigration reform last July. According to transcripts from the
ILIR's website, Sen. Kennedy said, "This gentleman here has
played an absolutely indispensable role," referring to O'Dowd's
assistance in making ceasefire agreements and other peace

During the same committeee hearing, O'Dowd explained to the
committee that without immigration reform, the Irish-born
community in America would become extinct and "one of the
greatest contributors to the success of this nation will be no

He said that current regulations do not provide a way for the
overwhelming majority of Irish-born people living in the U.S. to
do so legally. He also stressed that the organization's mission
was not to give preferential treatment to immigrants from

O'Dowd said in his testimony that there is a severe imbalance in
how many Irish immigrants are granted legal status compared to
immigrants from other countries. He said that although 0.45
percent of undocumented immigrants are Irish, only 0.19 percent
of "green cards" issued in 2005 went to immigrants from Ireland.
In 2005, only 2,088 of the 1.12 million "green cards" issued by
the U.S. went to Irish immigrants, he said.

"It's a question of fairness, more than anything," O'Dowd replied
to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) during the July committee hearing.
"We don't want to take visas off anyone. We don't want to be seen
to do that. But we do want a system where we will get an equal
opportunity to come here as much as any other country."


Expert On Terrorism Is New Head Of MI5

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 08:39]
By Kim Sengupta

The new head of MI5 is an official who has specialised in
tracking the threat of Islamist terrorism.

The new head of MI5 is an official who has specialised in
tracking the threat of Islamist terrorism.

Jonathan Evans, currently the deputy-head of the service will
take over from Eliza Manningham-Buller, the outgoing director-
general, who caused surprise in Whitehall by announcing that she
was stepping down early from the job.

A government statement issued yesterday said Mr Evans'
appointment has been confirmed by Home Secretary John Reid with
the agreement of the Prime Minister.

Mr Evans joined the Security Service after reading classics at
Bristol University in 1980 working on counter-espionage.

He subsequently worked on the team of Sir Anthony Duff to
modernise the service before moving on to counter-terrorism then
dealing mainly with the Irish republican movements. Since 1999 he
has been directly involved in dealing with Muslim fundamentalist

MI5 is due to come under scrutiny next week at the expected end
of a long running terrorist trial over the extent of its
knowledge about two of the London members Mohammed Sidique Khan
and Shehzhad Tanweer, before they went on to carry out their
attacks on the transport system. The service is expected to
robustly defend its actions.

There had been some suggestions that the Government may want to
appoint someone from outside the service to replace Ms
Manningham-Buller to signal a fresh start. However, Mr Evans'
knowledge and experience of Islamist groups is believed to have
played a significant role in securing the post for him.

A Whitehall source said " The appointment will be seen within the
service as a gesture of support at a very difficult time when
they have come in for an amount of criticism, some of it, but not
all, unfair.

"Jonathan Evans is highly regarded within Whitehall for his
intellect, ability to grasp details and leadership. He will need
all that because the threat we are facing is not going to go away
and he and his people will be very, very busy."

Ms Manningham-Buller is said to want to spend more time with her
husband and the chickens and alpacas at their 70-acre farm. She
is also expected to be on the lecture circuit.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ex-Judge Furious At Man's Arrest

A retired judge has hit out at the arrest of a former Special
Branch police officer amid allegations of a cover-up in his
daughter's murder.

Tom Travers was shot six times and his 22-year-old daughter,
Mary, was killed when an IRA gang opened fire on them outside a
Belfast church in 1984.

An ex-detective claimed four years ago that he had witnessed a
cover-up of the killing. He was arrested on Wednesday.

In the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Travers said he was "a valuable

The man was arrested on Wednesday, but later released on police
bail pending further questioning.

Mr Travers said he had phoned Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan to
complain about the arrest.

The retired Special Branch officer claimed there was a cover-up
in the investigation to protect an informer.

He said another Special Branch officer allowed a member of the
IRA, who was a police agent, to destroy vital evidence including
the murder weapon.

The officer said he contacted the police ombudsman four years
ago, but withdrew his co-operation two years later because he was
unhappy with the investigation into his claims.

Mr Travers has strongly criticised the Ombudsman, describing the
Special Branch officer as a valuable witness trying to solve his
daughter's murder and expose a police cover-up.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/08 11:41:43 GMT


Magistrate And His Daughter Were Gunned Down At Point Blank Range

[Published: Thursday 8, March 2007 - 11:10]
By Emily Moulton

Teacher Mary Travers was shot dead by IRA gunmen as she walked
with her Magistrate father Tom to his car after attending mass in
south Belfast on Sunday, April 8, 1984.

The Travers family were heading back to their car when two men
jumped from behind a wooden fence, pushed them to the ground and
opened fire.

According to witness accounts, Mr Travers and his 22-year-old
daughter did not have time to defend themselves as the gunmen
fired repeatedly at them from point blank range.

Mary Travers was crouching down trying to hide when she was shot.
The bullet hit the bottom of her spine and passed out through her

Mr Travers was shot six times in his side from arm's length.

In a letter to the Irish Times in 1994 Mr Travers wrote: "On the
day my lovely daughter was murdered her killer tried to murder my
darling wife (Joan) also. At that time Mary lay dying on her
mum's breast, her gentle heart pouring its pure blood on to a
dusty Belfast street. The murderer's gun, which was pointed at my
wife's head, misfired twice. Another gunman shot me six times. As
he prepared to fire, I saw the look of hatred on his face, a face
I will never forget."

After the attack the IRA claimed the judge had been a legitimate
target because of his role in the British judicial system. They
also tried to claim that the bullet which killed the young
schoolteacher had passed through her father's body first but a
post mortem found she was shot directly in the spine.

Shortly after the attack 19-year-old west Belfast teenager Mary
Ann McArdle was arrested and charged by police after two hand
guns, a grey wig and a black sock concealed in bandages were
found strapped to her thighs.

Two months later police arrested and charged 33-year-old Joseph
Patrick Haughey in connection with the attack.

It took more than two years before the two were brought to trial.
However, only McArdle was convicted. She received a life sentence
for her role in the murder of Mary Travers and an 18-year
concurrent sentence for the attempted murder of Mr Travers.

Haughey was acquitted after doubt was cast over Mr Travers'
identification of the gunman.

Although the father-of-five had picked Haughey out of a line-up,
the magistrate had produced a photo-fit that bore little
resemblance to the accused and police found no forensic evidence
in Haughey's home.

Identification was made more difficult because the attacker was
wearing a wig but Mr Travers has maintained he was confident of
his assailant's identity.

After the trial, the family refused to speak out about the
tragedy until the signing of the Good Friday Agreement 14 years
later when it became clear that the only person charged with
Mary's murder could walk free.

Mr Travers again remained silent until 2004, when the local
magistrate made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman after a
website which had first identified Freddie Scappaticci as the
British secret agent Stakeknife published allegations that a
member of the IRA gang was an informant.

It is understood Mr Travers told Nuala O'Loan's office that he
was concerned details of the alleged informer's links may not
have been passed onto detectives investigating his daughter's
murder and could have resulted in vital evidence not being
produced in court.

The Ombudsman's office decided to launch an inquiry at the time.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Coalition Formed By Two Enemies


Elections are not only held to see who wins more votes, as if it
were a bet, but to form a government.

Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams

Related newsCount begins after Northern Ireland assembly vote

Usually, the government is formed by the party that wins
elections, and if it doesn't have a wide majority, it forms a
coalition. Most of the times, that coalition is not formed by the
first and the second parties with more votes; the first forms an
alliance with the third or the fourth, specifically to isolate
the second.

All right, in Northern Ireland, what in other countries is called
a great coalition is obligatory, that is, a government formed by
the first and the second parties with more votes. The "Good
Friday" agreement defined so to guarantee that both communities,
the unionist and the republican, would share power. If not, the
two main unionist parties would form a coalition, leaving
republicans outside. But when the agreement was signed, the
majority parties from each one of the communities were the
moderates, and now they are radicals.

That is, two parties will have to share the government, the
Democratic Unionist and the Sinn Fein, even if they are
irreconcilable foes. Gerry Adams has already said he is ready to
do so, but Ian Paisley has threatened to brake it up and suspense
will be in the air until March 26, date fixed to build the new
government. The system established on that "Good Friday" in 1998
will be a difficult bet, but if it is done, it will be an
irreversible step towards peace.


Ferndale Goes Green For St. Patrick's Day Parade

City, business community embracing newest downtown event

By Catherine Kavanaugh
Daily Tribune Staff Writer

FERNDALE -- Sean Madigan bought a green pacifier and Irish pin
for the new lass in his life, 7-week-old Erin, on the chance his
daughter will attend the Oakland County St. Patrick's Day Parade
right before her baptism on Saturday.

The Birmingham resident said his relatives wouldn't consider it
an imposition to have two family functions on the same day,
especially if it involves showing their Irish pride.

"Look, I'm branded," said Madigan, lifting his pant leg to reveal
a shamrock tattoo on his ankle while he stood in line at The
Twisted Shamrock, 276 W. Nine Mile Road.

A lot of green is exchanging hands this week at the Celtic
boutique as folks prepare to watch and participate in the parade.
It starts at 11 a.m. at St. James Catholic Church, 241 Pearson
St., at Woodward Ave.

The procession will head north on Woodward in the southbound
lanes, which will be blocked to traffic, then turn west on Nine
Mile Road and end at Livernois Road.

Irish step dancers, musicians, maids of Erin, floats, animal
groups and almost 40 organizations, such as The Ulster Project,
which promotes tolerance between Catholics and Protestants, and
Irish Northern Aid, which promotes Irish unity, will march along
the route.

The event is being organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians
Norman O'Brien Division. Chairman Steve Zannetti expects the
longest lineup yet.

"It looks like we'll have 400-500 people in the parade," he said.
"Uppity Puppy in Royal Oak has signed up almost 150 dog owners
and they'll be in it with their pets."

The AOH is a Catholic charitable group that formed in the 1500s
to protect priests after the British banned the religion in
Ireland. Proceeds from the parade will be donated to Promise
Village, which helps disadvantaged youth.

Ferndale snagged the event from Royal Oak this year after the AOH
learned more businesses on the route would participate. They also
got help promoting the event with radio spots from the Downtown
Development Authority.

"I do think this is a coup for Ferndale," said Jim Monahan, who
belongs to the AOH and owns the Twisted Shamrock with his sister,
Kathy Monahan-Sladick. "I live in Royal Oak and grew up in
Ferndale so both towns are close to my heart. The AOH just got a
little more support here."

Merchants are finding all kinds of ways to join the party. It's
easy for Monahan, who has racks of green beads, boas, tiaras,
sequined vests, hats, Irish flags, shamrock sunglasses and more
for parade spectators and families answering the clan call. (The
"mighty Guireys" of Berkley and beyond will be in the procession
defending their title of largest clan.)

Parade-goers also can get breakfast at Strawberry Moon Bakery,
301 W. Nine Mile, where they will make scones, Irish soda bread
and shortbread, Irish cream brownies, themed cupcakes and
Guinness beer bread.

Just 4 Us, 211 W. Nine Mile, will sell mint green hot chocolate
in three sizes for $2-$3; and at Mother Fletcher, 234 W. Nine
Mile, everyone wearing green will get 50 percent off one item
with some restrictions.

Irish fare is on the menu at several restaurants, including
Sneakers Bar & Grill, 22628 Woodward Ave., which will offer
corned beef sandwiches and green beer starting at 8 a.m. Rosie
O'Grady's, 175 W. Troy St., will serve Irish stew, corned beef
and cabbage. Also, WCSX radio will broadcast there from 9 a.m. to
2 p.m. and Celtic bands will perform.

The Emory, 22700 Woodward, plans to sell a lot of corned beef
hash with O'Brien potatoes for breakfast, Ruben sandwich special
for lunch and Guinness beer specials all day. Danny's Irish Pub,
22824 Woodward, is making Guinness stew and Guinness chili.

Fetch, 22961 Woodward, will make sure no pooches go hungry. They
will pass out treats to the four-legged parade participants.

The parade is sponsored by the AOH, Ferndale DDA and the Daily

Contact Catherine Kavanaugh at
or (248) 591-2504.


Visitor Numbers To Ireland Up By 8%

Aoife Carr
Thu, Mar 08, 2007

Overseas visitors to Ireland were up 8 per cent in the last
quarter of 2006 compared to the same period the previous year,
according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

There were 1,701,000 overseas visitors to Ireland between October
and December 2006, compared to 1,574,000 in the same period of

Visitor numbers from other European countries increased by 21 per
cent in the same period, while visitors from the United States
and Canada grew by 10 per cent over 2005 figures.

Visits by UK residents grew by a modest 1 per cent, while visits
from residents of other areas rose from 62,000 in the last
quarter of 2005 to 71,000 in the last quarter of 2006.

A total of 1,530,000 Irish people travelled abroad between
October and December 2006, an increase of 16 per cent on the
corresponding period in 2005.

Earnings from visitors to Ireland accounted for ?983 million,
while expenditure by Irish visitors abroad amounted to ?1.18

c 2007

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