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March 22, 2007

Bush Telephones Adams & Paisley

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 03/22/07 Bush Telephones Paisley And Adams
BN 03/22/07 Nationalists Slam Bedding In Period Proposal
SF 03/22/07 Adams - Institutions Must Be In Place From Monday
BT 03/22/07 Decide Now, Blair Tells DUP
IT 03/23/07 Doubts On Paisley's Ability To Deliver Agreement
BT 03/22/07 DUP Skipper Plots Course Into Uncharted Waters
BN 03/22/07 Ahern Warns Against 'Plan B' For North
BN 03/22/07 SF Urged To Join Policing Board
BB 03/21/07 O'Loan Rejects Report Criticism
SF 03/22/07 Criminal Justice Bill More Re: Votes Than Crime
BB 03/22/07 £1Bn Pledge For Devolution Return
BB 03/22/07 £1M Is Confirmed For UDA Project
IT 03/22/07 Plans To Fund Loyalist Group Criticised
BB 03/20/07 SF Condemns Attach on PSNI Officer
BB 03/22/07 Loyalist Admits Feud Manslaughter
BB 03/21/07 More Held In Double Murder Probe
BB 03/21/07 Call Made To Remove INLA Monument
SF 03/22/07 "Promote Irish" Europe Tells The British Government
IT 03/21/07 Up To 250 Tourists Mugged Last Year


Bush Telephones Paisley And Adams

US President George W Bush has telephoned Ian Paisley and Gerry
Adams urging them to reach a deal by Monday to share power in
Northern Ireland.

A White House spokesman said Mr Bush "urged them to take the
final steps to reach agreement by 26 March on a new government
for Northern Ireland".

He said they should "work together to build a future of peace and
prosperity for the people of Northern Ireland."

Mr Bush praised "the steps they have taken to advance the peace

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.

The two governments have given the parties until 26 March to set
up a power-sharing executive, otherwise Stormont will be

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/22 21:27:35 GMT


Nationalists Slam 'Bedding In Period' Proposal For Executive

22/03/2007 - 19:05:44

Nationalist parties in the north have tonight criticised
suggestions that the North's new power-sharing Executive could
have an eight week gap between its first and second meetings.

As pressure mounted on Ian Paisley to agree to power sharing with
Sinn Féin by next Monday, talks sources hinted there could be an
eight-week "bedding in" period for power sharing ministers.

"The St Andrews legislation is very specific," a source said.
"The choice for the parties is to either nominate a full
executive or face the closure of the Assembly.

"The DUP have been saying for some time it could be May at the
earliest before they can share power but I think there's a
realisation that nominations must take place next Monday.

"The question is whether you can create an arrangement which
allows the parties to have devolved ministers but then give them
time to bed into their new roles. Ultimately that would be a
decision for the executive."

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams insisted today however that
devolved ministers must be allowed to fully exercise power from
next Monday.

"The choice is very clear," he said. "Either we allow the current
very unsatisfactory arrangements to continue where British
government ministers impose all types of punitive measures, or
locally mandated politicians take up their positions and try to
deal with all of these matters.

"In other words, that we govern and we govern from Monday when
ministers are appointed.

"We have an unprecedented opportunity and a huge amount of
preparation work has been done to get us to this point. We cannot
allow the rejectionists or those that don't want progress to set
the pace."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan also cautioned against the British
government offering breathing space to DUP ministers in a
devolved executive.

"We need delivery for the public, not some "breathing space" for
the DUP," the Foyle MP said.

"We need an executive up and running by March 26 to deal with the
issues that people want sorted - like water, health and the

"We cannot afford anything that ends up half way between
ambiguity and absurdity. We need devolution clearly and cleanly.

"Otherwise, ministers won't be credible with the public. And none
of us will be credible in negotiations with the Treasury if the
executive is only half-working.

"The danger is if we start half cocked we may stay half cocked.
So let's devolve fully and cleanly now."

Northern Secretary Peter Hain was returning to Belfast tonight in
preparation for the possible resumption of devolution next

Mr Hain will have to sign a restoration order by midnight on
Saturday, recalling the Assembly to appoint a power-sharing

All eyes will, therefore, be on Saturday's crucial DUP executive
meeting which will decide if the party will go ahead with
nominations to a devolved government on March 26.

If the North's politicians form an administration at Stormont
they could access a multi-billion financial package offered to
them by British Chancellor Gordon Brown today which would enable
them to defer controversial water charges.

The Chancellor offered the parties œ1bn (?1.47bn) in additional
money on top of the œ35bn (?51.6bn) already pledged over four

He confirmed œ400m (?589.5m) of the extra funds would come from
the Irish Government.

Mr Brown also revealed plans for a retail consortium agreement
involving five major chains - Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, B&Q and
Marks & Spencer - to create 5,000 jobs in the sector.

While he did not slash corporation tax in the North to 12.5% in
line with the Republic, Mr Brown announced David Varney would
head a review of future taxation policy.

Significantly, Mr Brown also agreed to the severing of the link
between the borrowing of low interest loans for the Northern
Executive from the Treasury and the raising of extra revenue
through local taxation including rates hikes and water charges.

Mr Brown's offer will be withdrawn if an executive is not formed
and the Assembly will be closed down.

The package received a muted welcome from parties in the North ,
with DUP leader Ian Paisley and his deputy Peter Robinson
describing it as a modest advance.

As the DUP insisted there were more issues which needed resolved
before a power-sharing decision could be made, a source said:
"There have been concerns in recent days that not everybody in
Ian Paisley's party is on board and that it could be tight.

"The party had staked its claim that its participation in a
devolved government would be condition-led and not calendar-led.

"However the (British) Prime Minister and Peter Hain have been
very firm that the March 26 deadline is rigid.

"There is a widespread view that the Rev Ian Paisley wants to do
the deal. The question is: can he bring everybody in the party
with him?"

The parties who would make up a power-sharing executive were
warned by the cross-community Alliance Party's leader David Ford
that the limitations in Mr Brown's financial package would mean
they would have to spend public money more wisely than before.

"It is clear once again that any extra money on offer from London
amounts to less than could be saved by ending segregation in our
public services," the South Antrim Assembly member said.

"The only way to avoid water charges, rates rises, tuition fees
and other stealth taxes in the coming years is to promote
integration in schools, leisure centres and health provision.

"Funds allocated by (British) government must be linked to
reforms in this direction. The inefficiences in our public
finances must be resolved. It is the government in Belfast, not
London or Dublin, which will have to resolve them."



Adams - Institutions Must Be In Place From Monday

Published: 22 March, 2007

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking prior to a party
meeting with Gordon Brown this morning said "The choice is very
clear, either we allow the current very unsatisfactory
arrangements to continue where British government Ministers
impose all types of punitive measures, or locally mandated
politicians take up their positions and try to deal with all of
these matters. In other words, that we govern and we govern from
Monday when Ministers are appointed."

Mr. Adams said:

At any point in a process like this, and we are now in the
countdown to the Assembly and the other institutions being put in
place, there is always the danger that a government will wobble.

We can be assured that those who are against this process will
make a concerted effort to derail this opportunity.

So we go forward with the very clear view that we are not for
wobbling - the people have spoken - they want the institutions in
place. They have to be in place from Monday and the Executive has
to be elected.

The choice is very clear, either we allow the current very
unsatisfactory arrangements to continue where British government
Ministers impose all types of punitive measures, or locally
mandated politicians take up their positions and try to deal with
all of these matters. In other words, that we govern and we
govern from Monday when Ministers are appointed.

We have an unprecedented opportunity and a huge amount of
preparation work has been done to get us to this point. We cannot
allow the rejectionists or those that don't want progress to set
the pace."ENDS


Decide Now, Blair Tells DUP

[Published: Thursday 22, March 2007 - 11:42]
By Noel McAdam

Prime Minister Tony Blair has bluntly told the DUP "now is the
time for decision".

But Mr Blair's spokesman also said that - while Monday's
devolution deadline will not be changed - the Government remained
willing to listen to the party's concerns.

He said their concerns over "being ready for government, etc"
were "legitimate".

His comments came after yesterday's House of Commons meeting
between Mr Blair and DUP leader Ian Paisley, who was accompanied
by his deputy, Peter Robinson, and party secretary Nigel Dodds.

Some DUP MPs argue the timetable which emerged from the St
Andrews deadline was not adhered to because of the length of time
it took for Sinn Féin to call its special ard fheis on policing.

And they have pointed to their party's agreed position which in
effect requires some form of monitoring period before powers are
devolved to an Executive.

But the Mr Blair's spokesman said today: "I think the Prime
Minister made it very, very clear to the DUP yesterday that he
can't change the 26th.

"That's the legislation and he does not believe the case for
introducing fresh legislation because the basis on which the
election was called (and) the basis on which the people voted was
the deadline of the 26th.

"He also believes now is the time to make the decision. That
said, people have legitimate concerns about being ready for
government, etc, and we will listen to those concerns."

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell, believed to be among the
leading sceptics within the party's senior ranks, said there
still needed to be a credible monitoring period of Sinn Féin -
which had not yet begun.

There was a "very basic need to see that Sinn Féin actually meant
it when they had indicated their conversion to the rule of law.

"We said that there would need to be a credible period of testing
for Sinn Féin. The credible period of testing has not begun,
given Sinn Féin's a la carte approach to policing in the form of
the MP Michelle Gildernew's refusal to offer her support for
information to be given to the police on dissident activity."

c Belfast Telegraph


Doubts On Paisley's Ability To Deliver Agreement

Frank Millar, London Editor
Fri, Mar 23, 2007

DUP officers were meeting in Belfast late last night amid growing
British government concern as to whether the Rev Ian Paisley will
deliver his party in time to meet Monday's devolution deadline.

The extent of those concerns became clear after another day of
intensive negotiations, during which chancellor Gordon Brown's
latest œ1 billion package - and a promised review of
differentials in corporation tax rates between Northern Ireland
and the Republic - apparently failed to clinch agreement on the
appointment of a new powersharing executive on March 26th.

In a further sign of tension within the DUP, Gregory Campbell MP
said he believed the deadline stipulated by the British and Irish
governments could not be met. And British pressure was said to be
building on deputy leader Peter Robinson amid fears that Dr
Paisley could lack key allies at tomorrow's scheduled meeting of
the party's executive.

Senior British sources made clear last night they were satisfied
Dr Paisley wants to meet the deadline and assume the office of
first minister at Stormont on Monday. And prime minister Tony
Blair was still banking on the exercise of Dr Paisley's authority
to overrule those prioritising concerns about party unity in
favour of delaying the start of devolved government until some
time in May.

As Dr Paisley and Mr Robinson flew back to Belfast, Downing
Street's expectation was that the DUP officers would meet again
today and that no final decision was likely to be communicated to
Mr Blair before tomorrow evening.

However, Mr Campbell told The Irish Times he believed the
situation, and the party's intentions, would probably be clearer
as a result of last night's meeting of the officers. Mr Campbell
also confirmed his view that Sinn Féin's "conditional" backing
for the Police Service of Northern Ireland meant the "testing
period" of republican bona fides demanded by the DUP executive
had not even begun.

"In my opinion Monday is simply not do-able," the East Derry MP

Other senior DUP sources meanwhile agreed that Mr Robinson would
play a pivotal role in the party's decision-making process in the
next 24 hours, amid clear evidence that Mr Blair had not
convinced key doubters that failure to achieve devolution on
Monday would result in dissolution and spell the end of the
process for some time.

At his meeting with the DUP delegation on Wednesday Mr Blair told
Mr Robinson and fellow MP Nigel Dodds that he would not introduce
emergency legislation to shift the deadline or extend the life of
the Assembly.

However, it is understood both men equally directly questioned
whether the prime minister would really "walk away from his
legacy" for the sake of a two-month delay.

The Irish Times understands that, when pressed, Mr Robinson
indicated he would back Dr Paisley if he decided to go ahead and
form an executive on Monday - while warning Mr Blair this "could
be at a cost" in terms of DUP unity.

There were also unconfirmed reports yesterday of some differences
in the approach of Dr Paisley and Mr Robinson on the question of
"transitional" arrangements that might carry the party through an
interim period between the nomination of ministers and the formal
start of devolved government.

Northern Secretary Peter Hain made clear such an arrangement
would have to be within the existing legislative framework.
However, Mr Robinson was said to be holding out for new
legislation which would see an executive appointed but then
effectively "frozen" or existing in "shadow" form until May.

c 2007 The Irish Times


DUP Skipper Plots Course Into Uncharted Waters

[Published: Thursday 22, March 2007 - 16:56]
By Noel McAdam

Ian Paisley faces crucial meetings of party officers and his
ruling executive over the next few days. Can he persuade his
doubters to do the deal?

With good reason, Ian Paisley was in buoyant form on the first
post-election day of the Assembly last week.

He joked with party chairman Lord Morrow, charmed and shook hands
with a group of schoolchildren and passed through the Great Hall
looking very much like a First Minister-in-waiting.

But at one point, as I watched from the Press gallery, the DUP
leader sat slouched, head hanging heavy in his hand, giving the
impression of a man with the weight of the world on his

It was brief, but the change of demeanour was the single most
interesting piece of body language on a day when the prevailing
Stormont atmosphere seemed slightly more hopeful.

The prevailing view is that, in terms of the principle of going
into power-sharing with Sinn Féin, Mr Paisley passed his personal
Rubicon some months ago, possibly in or around the time of the St
Andrews talks.

As he has admitted, his own political 'Damascus road' alienated
some of his former political allies and even personal friends.

But even though he has still to speak to any member of Sinn Féin,
the DUP leader insists that is no barrier to the mechanics of
governance. It will be a work-in, not a love in.

But Mr Paisley still has to win the backing of his party's ruling
Executive before the prospect of power-sharing with republicans
becomes a reality.

And leaked accounts of the party's grassroots consultations
meetings following St Andrews demonstrate that 'Doc' does not
always have it all his own way at meetings.

Nevertheless, the calculation is that the party leader will be
able to persuade the remaining 'doubting Thomases' if he himself
has concluded it is time to do the deal.

The political distance which Mr Paisley appears to have come is
great. Perhaps only Sinn Féin, from opposition to the existence
of the state to helping run it, have travelled further.

His is a career built on toppling political leaders. Prime
Minister Terence O'Neill only wanted to reform Stormont and meet
Sean Lemass: yet he had to go.

In retrospect Brian Faulkner only wanted to share power with the
SDLP and have an Irish 'dimension' to his administration: he had
to go too.

From James Chichester-Clarke, Lord Moyola - who lost two seats to
Mr Paisley and the Rev William Beattie - to first First Minister
David Trimble, who lost all but one Westminster seat, with all
the many and varied Secretaries of State in between, they all had
to go.

Now, unassailable as the undisputed leader of unionism, Mr
Paisley is poised to take his own great leap. In the last stop-
start administration, his Ministers who included Peter Robinson,
Lord Morrow and leading skeptics Nigel Dodds and Gregory
Campbell, boycotted Executive meetings but, after some
skirmishes, had access to all the paperwork. Stay-away ministries
is not an option this time.

Many grassroots supporters, who voted for the party in this
month's elections, have been surprised at the speed with which
the DUP leadership appears to be gearing up for power-sharing.
They really shouldn't be.

The party's campaign mantra is that it would be condition-led
rather than calender led but the conditions seem to have come
closer towards the calender.

In many ways the final decision he must reach this weekend will
be based on the fact that the election is out of the way and the
entire 'anti-agreement' camp all but crushed. Mr Paisley has the
mandate he wanted.

From the point of view of timing, it may not get better for the
DUP than now. It is difficult to ascertain how the next
Independent Monitoring Commission report could give a very much
more positive assessment of the Provisional IRA than the last

He also has an inbuilt Executive majority and the promise of a
revamp of the Stormont rule book. By May the marching season will
have begun, water charges will be in and the battle over academic
selection lost.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ahern Warns Against 'Plan B' For North

22/03/2007 - 19:59:11

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern today stressed the need
for power-sharing ministers to be nominated next Monday.

"The legislation is absolutely clear that what must happen on
Monday is that ministers will be appointed and power will be
devolved," he told RT Radio. "That's if the parties are willing.

"It is then up to the executive to take forward how it does its
business amongst the parties - not for Peter Hain, not for Dermot
Ahern, not for the Irish or the British government - but for the
parties themselves.

"If they decide not to do that, then the whole situation goes
back to Plan B."


SF Urged To Join Policing Board

22/03/2007 - 15:04:09

Sinn Féin joining the Policing Board which holds the Police
Service of Northern Ireland to account will be the last piece in
the jigsaw of policing reform, the board chairman said today.

If devolution is achieved by next Monday's deadline following the
republican party's decision to support the PSNI, the Policing
Board will be reconstituted with Sinn Féin given three of the 10
seats reserved for political representatives.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said he looked forward to Sinn Féin
taking their seats on the board and insisted next week was

Board chairman Professor Desmond Rea added he hoped that if March
26 proved positive, the board could move forward into a new era.

"If everyone holds their nerve, we have a huge potential for
moving forward," said Orde.

"Provided we are not continually pulled back into our history, I
look forward to the future with a great deal of confidence."

There was clear evidence of Sinn Féin encouraging people in the
nationalist community to report crime to the police and
encouraging people to join the PSNI, he said.

If everything went as planned on March 26, and was followed with
Sinn Féin joining the Policing Board, "it will make the Board
fully representative of the community and it will hold me to
account in the way Patten envisaged", he said.

Speaking as the Policing Board launched its Policing Plan for the
next year in Belfast, Mr Orde said Sinn Féin support for policing
would allow people who voted for them to engage with the police
where they previously felt they could not.

"We are not there yet, it is not going to happen overnight," he
said. "There are some legacy issues we have to deal with but in
my judgment the trend is good."

Prof. Rea said Sinn Féin taking their seats would be "the last
piece in the jigsaw being put in place".

He added: "This society has so much to gain by that."

He said he hoped young members of the republican community would
now consider policing as a career and would apply to join.

Prof. Rea said a new board would have four DUP members, three
Sinn Féin, two Ulster Unionists and one SDLP.

The SDLP, he suggested, might feel there was rough justice for
them to be reduced to one seat by the arrival of Sinn Féin.

By taking their seats on the board when it was set up and Sinn
Féin refused to join, "they bore the heat of the night" but would
now be reduced in numbers, he said.

Improving public confidence in the police service was made a key
objective of the new Policing Plan.

"In the context of the changing political climate and policing
environment, the Policing Board wants to be assured that the
police have the confidence and support of all sections of our
community," said Prof. Rea.

Launching the sixth Policing Plan - and the first since Sinn Féin
gave its support to the PSNI - Prof. Rea said the service had
been set challenging targets in relation to police response to
emergency calls and the percentage of crime victims who were
satisfied that they had been kept informed about the progress of
their case.

The board, he said, would carefully monitor police performance.

Reducing the fear of crime and promoting safer communities also
featured as a new objective in this year's plan.

"People's perceptions of crime can have a significant impact on
public confidence," said Prof. Rea.

"Experiences of crime and anti-social behaviour can affect these
perceptions and exacerbate public fears."

During the next year, the police have been tasked with reducing
incidents of anti-social behaviour by 5%.

The board will also establish a baseline figure for the
percentage of people who feel safe in their communities with a
view to setting challenging targets for the police to increase in
the future, he said.


O'Loan Rejects Report Criticism

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan has rejected allegations that her
report into collusion was "error riddled".

A group representing more than 3,000 retired police officers
published a critique of her report and demanded she apologise.

Her report found Special Branch had colluded with UVF members in
north Belfast who killed up to 16 people.

A special debate on the findings of the report will be held in
the House of Commons later.

On Tuesday, the Retired Police Officers' Association, claimed her
report was riddled with basic errors of fact and judgement.

The body includes former Special Branch officers criticised by
the ombudsman.

Speaking on Radio Ulster on Wednesday, Mrs O'Loan said her report
was "soundly evidence based" and that she was standing by it.

"A number of retired officers did assist the investigation," she

"They answered difficult questions, they answered them honestly
and the findings of the investigation arrive from information
received from police officers - serving members, retired members
- police documentation.

"It is a very, very soundly evidence-based report and I stand
absolutely by my findings."

Members of the association spent the past two months writing
their own paragraph by paragraph response to the document
published by Mrs O'Loan.

In it, they accuse the ombudsman of misusing the word "collusion"
in a way which had led to it being used as "a political

They said police officers who served their country were being
vilified in the court of public opinion.

The association has sent a copy of its report to the secretary of
state and is demanding a public apology from Mrs O'Loan for what
it said were unfounded allegations.

The ombudsman's report is also expected to be discussed in a
debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The Police Ombudsman found UVF members in north Belfast committed
murders and other serious crimes while working as informers for
Special Branch.

She found that Special Branch officers had given the killers

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/21 09:01:29 GMT



Criminal Justice Bill Has More To Do With Populist Vote Than
Being Tough On Crime - O Snodaigh

Published: 22 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus O Snodaigh TD has once
again expressed Sinn Féin's opposition to the Criminal Justice
Bill 2007. Speaking in the D il today during the second stage
debate on the Bill Deputy O Snodaigh said, "This Bill
unnecessarily and unjustifiably curtails the rights of citizens
and crucially it will not address gangland crime or the related
drugs crisis."

He said, "I want to categorically express Sinn Féin's opposition
to the government's latest retrogressive, impotent and dangerous
gift to an inadequately reformed police force. This Bill
unnecessarily and unjustifiably curtails the rights of citizens
and crucially it will not address gangland crime or the related
drugs crisis which the same government have allowed to become
entrenched in our capital and across the state. We are opposed to
the undemocratic manner in which the Criminal Justice Bill 2007
is being introduced and we are opposed to most of its content.
Like McDowell, I hope the 'Coalition of the Confused' will also
fully clarify their respective positions on the Bill's substance
for the sake of the electorate.

"What communities are crying out for is better policing. Not more
police powers and not new variants on existing offences but the
use of existing powers to enforce existing offences.

"The use and deployment of Garda resources is a key issue.
Successful convictions are determined by the work put into
building cases and the availability of witness statements is
influenced by the relationship between communities and the
Garda¡. Garda resources must be focused on these two key areas of
(1) investigative work gathering evidence, both testimony,
financial and physical evidence, and (2) community policing. 10
years ago the Report on Garda Effectiveness and Efficiency
recommended the civilianisation of appropriate task to allow for
the redeployment of fully trained Garda¡. Further reports
recommended this again in 2001 and as recently as last November.
During the intervening period Sinn Féin have frequently called on
the Minister to civilianise appropriate tasks. It is unfortunate
that it has taken such a high number of violent killings before
the government have given any indication that these crucial
recommendations might be implemented.

"The state needs to strip away the profits to be made from
gangland crime. While it does some great work, at times the
Criminal Assets Bureau appears to be little more than a political
tool misused for cases where the Revenue Commission would be a
more appropriate body. CAB should relentlessly prioritise the
pursuit of drug barons, great and small, until the financial
incentive to be gained from involvement in the illicit drugs
market and gangland crime is diminished absolutely.

"The government's response to gangland crime i.e. the legislation
before us today does not do what is necessary. This Bill has more
to do with getting a populist vote than with getting tough on
criminals." ENDS


œ1Bn Pledge For Devolution Return

Chancellor Gordon Brown has promised Northern Ireland an extra
œ1bn if devolution is restored on Monday.

He made the announcement after meeting the four biggest political
parties at Downing Street and described it as an historic
opportunity to move forward.

The cash is on top of œ35bn pledged by the government over four

Northern Ireland politicians have cautiously welcomed the
announcement, but the DUP has yet to confirm whether it is
willing to share power.

While the DUP refuses to talk directly to Sinn Féin, the
chancellor insisted he saw the four main parties together.

Observers described the atmosphere as very cordial and said the
Northern Ireland politicians acted like a power-sharing executive
in waiting.

Mr Brown said: "This is an historic opportunity to move forward.

"I believe the Northern Ireland political parties are all serious
about what can be done to achieve that.

"I believe that today by making possible the resumption of the
executive through having the resources that they need, the
potential for creating the jobs that they can and helping look at
some of the challenges they face, we can move this process

Of the extra œ1bn, œ400m has been pledged by the Irish

It is expected to be spent on projects like a major motorway to
Donegal and Londonderry - the biggest-ever cross-border project.

Irish Finance Minster Brian Cowen said the road would remove the
"single biggest impediment" to the future development of the
North West and the border counties.

"It will be the biggest and most important cross-border project
ever on this island," he added.

Mr Cowen said Mr Brown's package offered a real opportunity for
economic progress to accompany political stability in Northern

It is understood the British money could be used to delay and
reduce the new water charges.

DUP leader Ian Paisley described the chancellor's offer as
"modest progress".

Sinn Féin said while progress had been made, more work still had
to be done.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the talks had produced
"some modest improvement". These sentiments were echoed by SDLP
leader Mark Durkan.

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.

The two governments have given the parties until 26 March to set
up a power-sharing executive, otherwise Stormont will be

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/22 16:48:21 GMT


œ1M Is Confirmed For UDA Project

The government has announced that it will give more than œ1m to a
project aimed at moving the UDA away from violence and crime.

The Ulster Political Research Group has spent the past six months
drawing up a business plan to persuade the government to fund a
3-year project.

It said this could help transform the UDA into a non-paramilitary
group. The strategy appears to have worked.

The funding was announced by Social Development Minister David

"I expect that this additional support will deliver a quickening
in pace of the work of the UPRG in their conflict transformation
work that the latest IMC report identified was required," he

The œ1.2m will be used to open a number of offices in six areas
where the UDA has a strong presence, and to employ up to a dozen

The project will be administered by Farset Community Enterprises,
a community organisation based in west Belfast.

It will also be closely monitored by officials from the
Department for Social Development.

The funding application was drawn up after widespread
consultation with UDA members in a series of meetings throughout
Northern Ireland.

The UPRG claimed there was a genuine desire to change and for the
UDA to become a community association rather than a terrorist

In return for the funding, the government wants to see the end of
all UDA violence and criminality, including extortion rackets and
drug dealing.

If there is no noticeable reduction in these activities, the UPRG
has been told that the funding will be withdrawn.

'An integral part'

Secretary of State Peter Hain said: "For some time now, the
political leadership of the loyalist community associated with
the UDA has wanted to move the whole of the community away from
paramilitarism and gangsterism and criminality onto a democratic
political path.

"Onto a path where the loyalist cultural and political tradition
can be respected in a normal rule of the law and peacefi;

"But not one involving violence or intimidation or any kind of
paramilitary activity.

"We gave them a trial period, over a period of months to see how
this work could progress and now we have agreed a long-term
support for this objective, which I think is vital."

Frankie Gallagher of the UPRG said "the community is the
paramilitary organisation... they (the UDA) are an integral part
of the community".

"The money is not going to the UDA, it is not going to UDA
personnel or into their coffers," he said.

"It is going to a legitimate organisation which has existed for
some 20 years and which has been at the forefront of peace-
building in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland."

He added: "We have to face up to a new reality in Northern
Ireland. We have to make peace by talking to our enemies that we
don't like talking to - you do not make peace by talking to your

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/22 11:06:32 GMT


Plans To Fund Loyalist Group Criticised

Thu, Mar 22, 2007

Plans by the British government to give œ1.2 million (?1.76
million) over three years to an organisation connected to
loyalist paramilitary group have been condemned.

Northern Ireland's Department of Social Development is expected
to approve the funding today in response to a business plan drawn
up by the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), which provides
political analysis to the Ulster Defence Association.

Under the plan, the UPRG will employ 12 people to work across six
regions in Northern Ireland to enable loyalist communities to
access social and economic funds.

But SDLP East Derry MLA John Dallat has criticised the plan.

"It's hard to think that money I have contributed to the British
Exchequer in income tax is now being used to reward the agents of
killing gangs who murdered my constituents," he said. "It is like
being made to pay for the bullet that kills you."

East Antrim Democratic Unionist Party MP Sammy Wilson said he was
amazed that money was being handed over despite recent reports by
the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster that said
the organisation was still heavily involved in criminality and

"To give this group taxpayers' money is another example of bad
government and will simply outrage the tens of thousands of law-
abiding citizens throughout Northern Ireland," he said.

"But UPRG spokesman Frankie Gallagher said loyalism deserved a
process of conflict transformation equal to that undertaken by

"This funding will reinforce what the UPRG has been doing and
saying, that people want to move on from paramilitarism and from
crime," he said.

c 2007


Attack On PSNI Officers Condemned

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said he believes a "sinister
element" was behind an attack on police officers in south Armagh
on Monday night.

Police guarding the site in Crossmaglen where a military
helicopter crashed on Sunday, were attacked with up to 30 petrol
bombs as well as other missiles.

Police said local representatives had helped calm the situation,
but a group of youths later resumed the attacks.

Mr Murphy said information about the attacks should be passed to
the police.

He said Sinn Féin representatives in the area had talked to
parents after the initial attacks and were able to get them

However, he said some youths returned at about midnight and
resumed the violence.

He said those who did so "perhaps had more of an agenda to work
out there".

The Newry and Armagh MP said he would speak with people in the
area on Tuesday.

"If I think that there is any information from the people who
caused damage to the community last night it should be passed on
to to the police, because those people who came later on and
attacked only succeeded in harming their own community," he said.

Two police vehicles were damaged in the trouble but there were no
reports of injuries.

On Sunday, an ambulance taking one of six casualties from the
crash was forced to stop because of hostile crowds, the Ambulance
Service said.

A group of youths ambushed the vehicle in Crossmaglen as it drove
towards the Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

A total of six people were injured, two airmen and four police
officers, in the helicopter crash. A number of them suffered
serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.

Stones, fireworks and snowballs were hurled at the ambulance crew
as they attempted to treat the injured.

Crash examined

"They stopped the vehicle for about a minute and shone torches
into it," the Ambulance Service's director of operations, Brian
McNeill, said.

"We are only trying to do our job and it is difficult enough
going to a major incident like that without having to deal with
unruly crowds, and it is unacceptable."

It was confirmed four of the injured were taken to the Daisy Hill
Hospital in Newry and two to the Craigavon Area Hospital - one by

A total of three police officers were later discharged, but one
policeman was still being treated for a back injury.

The craft crashed into a field close to Lismore housing estate
and the grounds of the Crossmaglen Rangers Gaelic Athletic
Association club.

Rotors were crushed and the tail had snapped off.

Up to seven ambulances and several fire tenders rushed to the
scene at about 1800 GMT on Sunday.

A military investigation will now be carried out to find out why
the accident happened.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/20 09:25:40 GMT


Loyalist Admits Feud Manslaughter

Leading loyalist Mo Courtney has admitted to the manslaughter of
UDA member Alan McCullough.

The body of Mr McCullough, 21, was found in a shallow grave on
the outskirts of north Belfast in 2003. He had been shot.

The prosecution at Belfast Crown Court said they were accepting
his plea and would not proceed on the murder charge

In January an Appeal Court judge ruled Courtney should face a re-
trial after a judge cleared him of murder.

A prosecution lawyer told the court on Thursday, "The Crown does
not make the case that the defendant shot Alan McCullough.

"The defendant... has indicated that he would make the case that
he did not know that a person at the scene intended to kill Mr
McCullough but that he did contemplate that a punishment shooting
in the form of a kneecapping would take place.

"The Crown accepts that the evidential problems arising from the
circumstances justifies the acceptance of a plea to

Courtney was remanded in custody and will be sentenced next

Mr McCullough fled to England with other members of UDA leader
Johnny Adair's so called 'C Company' when feuding broke out
within the organisation.

However, he returned to the Shankill area of Belfast after his
family got assurances he would not be harmed.

He was last seen leaving his mother's house in Denmark Street on
28 May, 2003, being driven away in a car.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/22 14:22:13 GMT


More Held In Double Murder Probe

A man and woman have been arrested by detectives investigating
the murders of two men in Belfast last week.

They were arrested after a house search in Whitecliff Parade, and
a suspected firearm was among items recovered.

The body of Edward Burns, 36, - who was shot in the head - was
found near the Falls Road and the beaten body of Joe Jones, 38,
was discovered in Ardoyne.

Four people are now in custody. Police said the killings took
place amid tension among dissident republicans.

Mr Burns was the father of five children, while Mr Jones had

The body of Mr Jones, from Poleglass, was discovered in north
Belfast, near Elmfield Street, at 0800 GMT. He had head injuries.

The body of Mr Burns, from the Ardoyne area, was found early on
Monday in a car park off the Falls Road near St Gall's GAA club.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/21 20:25:35 GMT


Call Made To Remove INLA Monument

The DUP has accused Derry City Council of breaching its own
equality guidelines by allowing an INLA statue to remain in the
city cemetery.

It follows last week's ruling by the Equality Commission that
Omagh District Council failed to act over an unauthorised hunger
striker memorial.

Alderman Willie Hay said the council never gave permission for
the INLA memorial to be erected in 2000.

He called for the statue of the armed INLA man to be removed.

"Here's a unique opportunity for the council to revisit the whole
issue again," he said.

"We've all got to remember a graveyard should be a very neutral
place for both communities - every community - to come along and
tend loved ones graves.

"I do not believe that there should be any organisation which
uses a graveyard for their own political ends and that's what
happened seven years ago."

Last week the commission said Omagh District Council breached its
own equality scheme by not acting over an unauthorised republican


It investigated a complaint about the memorial to IRA hunger
strikers, on the Old Dromore Church grounds and graveyard in

It said the political nature of the memorial, which included a
tricolour, may mark the area as republican.

The memorial also includes ten trees, one for each hunger

The commission said its high level of visibility may mark the
village as nationalist or republican and may not be conducive to
good relations.

The investigation also raised issues concerning the proposed sale
of the land by the council to Dromore Memorial Committee.

Omagh council has now decided that the proposal for sale should
be subject to an equality impact assessment.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/21 09:46:59 GMT



"Do More To Promote Irish" Europe Tells The British Government

Published: 22 March, 2007

Sinn Féin MEP, Bairbre de Br£n has welcomed the Council of
Europe's warning to the British Government that it must do more
to meet its obligations to protect and promote the Irish

Ms de Br£n said "We in Sinn Féin welcome the Committee of
Ministers recommendations based on the report drawn up by the
Committee of Experts (COMEX) stating that the British government
should act to promote and develop minoritised languages "as a
matter of priority".

"In particular, I welcome the call by the Council of Europe's
Committee of Ministers that the British government should, as a
matter of priority, develop a comprehensive Irish language
policy, including measures to meet the increasing demand for
Irish medium education, and that it should increase support for
the printed media in Irish. This is particularly timely given
the recent highly controversial refusal to grant official status
and recognition to Gaelscoil anna in the Glengormley area of
North Belfast, the recent difficulties faced by the Irish
language newspaper L with regard to funding, and the resistance
there is in many departments here to placing advertising in the
Irish language.

"The Council of Europe's recommendations also come hard on the
heels of last week's public refusal by the British Government to
fulfil its agreed St Andrews commitment to enact an Irish
language act in the 6 counties following a 12 week public
consultation. We feel this is a vindication of the demands of
Irish speakers here and an international recognition that the
half hearted approach by the British government must end. "

The report and recommendations come as part of the monitoring of
the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML),
which the British government ratified July 2001.

The report also cites report from Irish speakers who are
currently facing difficulties because of the failure to enact an
Irish Language Act; representatives of Irish speakers had
encountered problems promoting Irish because of unrealistic
demands for equal treatment for Ulster Scots. Because parity for
Ulster Scots was not practically possible, it resulted in no
action being taken at all to promote the Irish language.

Ms de Br£n concluded "The Council of Europe report has been
broadly welcomed by the Irish language community in the North as
an international endorsement of their strong criticism of the
British government's continued neglect of the language in many
areas of public life and its disgraceful bad faith in relation to
its failure to fulfil its agreed commitment to enact an Irish
language Act for the 6 counties. This comes after 5000 people,
young and old, took to the streets of Belfast to demand their
rights." ENDS


Up To 250 Tourists Mugged Last Year

Wed, Mar 21, 2007

Up to 250 tourists, mostly Europeans, were mugged in Ireland in
2006, figures showed today.

The Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS), which helps visitors
who are victims of crime, said the second-biggest category was
theft from cars, usually hired vehicles.

In 2006, ITAS was referred 315 cases by garda¡, hotels and
embassies, and assisted 504 tourists.

The biggest crime was theft from person at 49 per cent followed
by theft from cars at 26 cases, which is slightly higher than
last year's figure of 23 cases.

Dublin Garda Stations referred about 75 per cent of cases to ITAS
followed by officers in Cos Wicklow, Galway, Cork and Louth.
Embassies, hotels and banks also passed on details of incidents.

There were 14 cases of violent crimes against tourists in 2006
compared with 11 cases in 2005. These included five robberies
with violence, six assaults, two aggravated thefts and one

A total of 86 of the four million British nationals who visited
Ireland in 2006 were the most-targeted for overall crimes at 17
per cent.

The Britons were followed closely by 76 Italians (15 per cent);
50 Americans (10 per cent); 45 French (9 per cent), 40 Germans (8
per cent) and 37 Spanish (7 per cent).

The statistics were released today as Sports Minister John
O'Donoghue launched a new ITAS DVD which highlights the services
available for tourists who become victims of crime in Ireland.

However ITAS stressed that Ireland is one of the safest countries
in the world for tourists.

ITAS chairman Joe Browne called on the tourist industry to help
distribute the DVD so that tourists who are victims of crime can
receive the best possible care and assistance.

Over 7.7 million tourists visited Ireland in 2006 - while 315
incidents involving 504 tourists were referred to ITAS.

c 2007

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