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March 07, 2007

Wrong Voter ID Cards Are Issued

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 03/07/07 Wrong Voter ID Cards Are Issued
BN 03/07/07 Paisley Battles Media Scrum To Cast Vote
Bt 03/07/07 Paisley Has Power To Dash Hopes Of Election Progress
BN 03/07/07 Taoiseach: McCabe Killer Will Be Freed In May
SF 03/07/07 Sinn Féin Assembly Candidate Gets Bullet In Post
SF 03/07/07 SF To Meet Parades Commission Over Lurgan March
BN 03/07/07 Rally For Illegal Irish In US
RT 03/07/07 Democrats To Publish Immigration Plan
BT 03/07/07 24-Yr-Old Dublin Man Pleads Guilty To IRA Membership


Wrong Voter ID Cards Are Issued

Some voter identity cards have been issued with the wrong
photograph attached, the Electoral Office has confirmed.

June Butler, the deputy electoral officer, said this had nothing
to do with the Electoral Office or the contractor who produced
the cards.

She said a well-intentioned community group held a session in
west Belfast's Park Centre using a digital camera.

However, some forms were attached to the wrong photograph.

There were almost 400 applications that came out of this
initiative and nearly 300 of them were approved.

It is not clear how many of these approved applications contain
the wrong photograph.

Since the problem was identified on Tuesday, six incorrect cards
have been discovered.

Ms Butler said the Electoral Office very much regretted that a
number of people would not be able to vote due to the errors.

She added that individuals could still vote if they have another
means of identification.

"We have sent them new application forms and invited them to come
into any of our six sights," she said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/07 11:37:37 GMT


Paisley Battles Media Scrum To Cast Vote

07/03/2007 - 10:58:35

Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley today had to battle his
way through a media scrum to cast his vote in the North's
Assembly Election.

The North Antrim MP was faced by a wall of photographers as he
arrived at Elm Grove Primary School on Belfast's Beersbridge Road
to cast his ballot with his wife Eileen.

Mr Paisley's DUP are hoping to remain the largest party in the

There was jostling among photographers from around the world as
they tried to capture images of the DUP leader as he arrived and
when he left the polling station.

Turnout across the 18 constituencies around the North was
believed to be slow – following the usual trends for elections in
the province.

"There has been a steady flow of voters," an Ulster Unionist
spokesman said.

"The weather is good. There is sunshine which will help turnout,
especially at this time of year.

"However we are not expecting a flood of voters until they return
from work some time between 4pm and 7pm."

The polling stations opened at 7am today and will close at 10pm.

A total of 257 candidates are bidding for 108 Stormont seats.
Each constituency will return six Assembly members.

Concerns were expressed by some parties at what appeared to be a
new move to prevent their canvas teams from assessing the
percentage turnout in individual polling stations.

"It appears the Electoral Office is restricting our ability to go
into the polling stations and get a sense of the percentage
turnout," a DUP source said.

"We are being told by staff at a number of stations that we can't
make these inquiries as we have done in previous elections.

"This has always enabled us in the past to get a sense of what
turnout is like in the various areas."


Paisley Has Power To Dash Hopes Of Election Progress

[Published: Wednesday 7, March 2007 - 08:31]
By David McKittrick

Northern Ireland's voters go to the polls today in an election
which, despite a remarkably low-key campaign, is expected to
deliver a highly important result for the peace process.

They are to vote in Assembly elections which, Tony Blair is
adamant, represent the last chance of restoring a power-sharing
devolved government to Northern Ireland. If the hopes of London
and Dublin are realised, the contest will pave the way for an
agreement between Ian Paisley and his Democratic Unionist Party
and Sinn Fein.

The inter-governmental timetable envisages a new administration
running before the end of this month. The nightmare scenario,
however, is that Mr Paisley could opt for delay rather than an
immediate breakthrough. It is not in doubt that his party will
strengthen its existing position as the leading grouping in
Unionism, which means he will have the option of becoming
Northern Ireland's First Minister when the Assembly convenes on
26 March.

The uncertainty arises from the fact that opinions within his
party differ on whether the time has arrived for it to go into
government with Sinn Fein. The weeks before 26 March will be an
anxious time as London and Dublin wait to see whether he will go
for it or say the time is not right.

Strong signals are coming both from the Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern,
that delay would bring political penalties.

Insisting that 26 March is an absolute deadline, Mr Hain said: "I
would hate to think that people will wake up on 27 March and
realise what an opportunity they have thrown away. 26 March is
the date, otherwise Stormont will close down."

Mr Ahern warned: "It would be unconscionable and deeply
regrettable if this agreed deadline is missed and if the
opportunity to govern is not taken. "

The Taoiseach said other options which had been drawn up were not
ideal. The governments did not want to pursue them, he added,
"but if we are forced into it, we are forced into it".

Voting will take place against a background of much-improved
security, in contrast to some previous contests when a heavy
security presence was required at some polling stations. In south
Armagh, for example, the once-strong military presence has been
reduced to a handful of soldiers in two bases. The Army is due to
leave the area altogether by the end of July.

Another phenomenon which is viewed as a sign of normalisation is
the fact that bread-and-butter issues, such as unpopular plans
for new water taxes, have played a prominent part in the
campaign. All parties have also already reached agreement that
Gordon Brown should oblige a new administration by supplying a
"peace dividend" and increasing Northern Ireland's already hefty
financial subsidies. There is talk that the Republic could also

Mr Paisley and Sinn Fein have had the occasional rhetorical swing
at each other during the campaign but they have tended to pull
their punches and generated little heat. Claiming credit for
recent concessions made by Sinn Fein, the DUP leader declared:
"Republicans have been forced to jump first and deliver before
government can be established. On any analysis huge progress has
been made towards a lasting form of democratic devolution. We
have already made very considerable progress and will compel
republicans to make full, and hopefully early, delivery."

The key players at Stormont

Gerry Adams

He has staked Sinn Fein's future on pursuing a peace process
which has included the steps of having the IRA dispose of its
weapons and cease its activities. By doing so he has made Sinn
Fein acceptable partners in government to most elements in the
peace process - though Ian Paisley has yet formally to agree.

Bertie Ahern

As Taoiseach for the past 10 years he has helped bring about huge
improvements in Anglo-Irish relations. He has also built many
bridges between Unionists and the Republic, including inviting
Ian Paisley to Dublin for breakfast. His efforts have reduced
Unionist fears about the Republic

Ian Paisley

The patriarch of Northern Ireland loyalist politics has become
the undisputed leader of political Protestantism after the
collapse of the Ulster Unionist Party. He is expected to make
gains in this contest, though the biggest question is whether he
will go into government with Sinn Fein by 26 March

Mark Durkan

Leader of the moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour
Party is fighting against the possibility of further Sinn Fein
inroads into his party's traditional vote. Sinn Fein is now the
largest republican party but this time round there is a sense
that any gains it will make from the SLDP will be modest.

© Belfast Telegraph


Taoiseach: McCabe Killer Will Be Freed In May

07/03/2007 - 12:10:10

The Taoiseach has confirmed that one of the men convicted of
killing Detective Garda Jerry McCabe will be released this May.

Media reports revealed yesterday that Michael O'Neill was due for
release on May 17th after serving eight years of his 11-year
manslaughter story.

O'Neill is being freed after receiving remission on his sentence
for good behaviour.

He was one of four IRA men jailed for between 11 and 14 years for
the manslaughter of Garda McCabe during a botched post office
robbery in Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996.

Responding to questions in the Dáil today, Mr Ahern said O'Neill
was legally entitled to remission and the Prison Service would
have no legal basis to continue detaining him after May 17th.


Sinn Féin Assembly Candidate Gets Bullet In Post

Published: 7 March, 2007

Sinn Féin's Billy Leonard yesterday received a bullet in the post
to his home address in Portstewart. He opened the envelope to
find it wrapped in bubble-wrap: there was no message.

Leonard says that it is the work of loyalists who have threatened
and attacked him before. The Sinn Féin man received a hoax bomb
alert at his home a fortnight ago.

He said:

"The most worrying thing is opening this in front of some of my
children. However, this type of intimidation will not stop me
doing my work as a political representative.

We have received telephone threats, hoax bomb alerts and now
this. It is clear that people are making a mistake in thinking
that this could change anything. It's business as usual whether
that be an election or the day to day grassroots work I do." ENDS


Sinn Féin To Meet Parades Commission As Anger Mounts Over Lurgan

Published: 7 March, 2007

A Sinn Féin delegation will meet with the Parades Commission
today, Wednesday 7th March at 11.30am at the Commission's offices
in Windsor House in Belfast as anger mounts over an Orange march
planned for Lurgan on St Patrick's Day.

The major Orange march to mark the re-opening of an Orange Hall
in the town, will involve up to 2,000 marchers and fourteen
bands, has been described as unnecessary and unwanted by Sinn
Féin. The march is planned to commence at 2.15pm in the afternoon
and is expected to last until at least five o'clock. The
organisers of the march, Lurgan District No.6, have applied for
permission to march throughout the town centre. Controversially,
the organisers are also seeking the go-ahead for the march route
to include all of the predominantly nationalist Church Place and
William Street areas, as far as the railway station, where they
will turn and re-trace their steps.

Sinn Féin representatives held meetings with Parades Commission
representatives on Monday in relation to the march and will be
again meeting with the Commission on Wednesday morning.

Local Sinn Féin councillor John O'Dowd said,

"This is clearly a case of the Orange Order attempting to stir up
trouble in the town. There is obviously no precedent for this
march, and the organisers are deliberately and unnecessarily
ratcheting up tension in Lurgan.

"The last march which took place in the town centre on a Saturday
afternoon was organised by the Black Institution, and it was
widely acknowledged that the march had an extremely negative
impact upon trade that weekend. Indeed, one has only to look at
some of the comments carried in the local press in the aftermath
of that march to confirm that.

"This time, there is the added complexity of the fact, that this
march is planned for St.Patrick's Day when many venues will be
providing entertainment throughout the day.

"I have no doubt that the organisers, Lurgan District LOL No 6,
are attempting to inflame the situation locally and that fact can
clearly be seen from the route that they have chosen for this
march. Added to all of this is the very public stance taken by
Lurgan District LOL in relation to the political process and
their complete opposition to the restoration of a power-sharing
Executive and Assembly. The fact that this march is being held
one week after the election results would point to the fact that
Lurgan District LOL is clearly intent on attempting to use the
march as a rallying point for all anti-Agreement Unionists.

"From our viewpoint, we have asked the Commission to impose major
restrictions on the march. There can be absolutely no
justification for this march being allowed to proceed through the
town past the junction of Windsor Avenue and High Street. That is
what we have been saying to the Commission to date and that is
the position that we will be putting to them again on Wednesday
morning." ENDS


Rally Aims To Push Forward Case For Illegal Irish In US

07/03/2007 - 08:42:16

Up to 3,000 people are expected to attend a rally in Washington
today calling for legal moves to regularise the situation of
illegal Irish immigrants in the United States.

The demonstration is taking place while campaigners from the
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform meet US politicians to discuss
the situation.

The US Congress is still in the process of debating immigration
reforms that could offer hope of residency to many of the
country's 11 million undocumented immigrants, around 50,000 of
whom are Irish.

Fine Gael TD Paul Connaughton, who is taking part in today's
rally, has said he hopes the Democrat victory in recent
congressional elections will push forward the agenda.


Democrats To Publish Immigration Plan

Wednesday, 7 March 2007 11:46

Democrats in the US Senate are expected to lay out their plans
later today for comprehensive immigration reform.

At the same time, thousands of supporters of the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform are expected in Washington for a rally.

Last year, a bipartisan immigration bill passed the US Senate but
was blocked by Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Following victory in last November's midterm
elections, Democrats believe they are in a stronger position to
push through immigration legislation this year.

One of the architects of the Immigration Reform Bill, Senator Ted
Kennedy, told RTÉ News that it would be a hard fought battle, but
that he believed immigration reform could be passed this year.

He said he believes the mood of the American people has shifted
on the issue and 'most people want a workable solution'.

It is estimated that there are almost 12m undocumented people in
the US.

Democratic proposals are expected to be laid out in Washington
later today. However, a bill is not expected to be published for
at least another week.

Senator Kennedy is also scheduled to speak at a rally organised
by the ILIR.


24-Year-Old Dublin Man Pleads Guilty To Ira Membership

[Published: Wednesday 7, March 2007 - 11:56]

A Dublin man has pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to
a charge of IRA membership.

Cillian Kelly, of Riverwoood Grove, Carpenterstown, Dublin 15,
admitted membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself
the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann,
otherwise the IRA, on June 12th last year.

Senior counsel for the 24-year-old, Mr Paul Burns, asked for an
adjournment before sentencing.

He was remanded on continuing bail of €20,000 for sentencing at a
later date.

© Belfast Telegraph

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