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April 20, 2007

Catholic Staff Warned Over UVF Spy Ring

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 04/20/07 Catholic Staff Warned Over UVF Spy Ring
BT 04/20/07 Arms Body To Meet PUP Leader
BT 04/20/07 Fury After Hain Says RUC 'Discriminated'
BT 04/20/07 Hain: Too Much Cash Is Spent On Inquiries
BT 04/20/07 DUP Has Let Family Down: Allister
IV 04/20/07 Neal Leads Bipartisan Delegation To Ireland
BT 04/20/07 MLAs Get An Extra £10,000 As They Return To Govt
UT 04/20/07 UUP 'Deathwish' Row Erupts
BB 04/19/07 Court Told Of City Parade Rioting
IN 04/20/07 Opin: Disastrous Nomination Is Latest UUP Mistake
BT 04/20/07 Opin: The Big Man Was Right
BT 04/20/07 Shark Spotted, But There's No Need To Panic
BT 04/20/07 Return Of Swift Indicates Summer Is Well On Its Way


Catholic Staff Warned Over UVF Spy Ring

[Published: Friday 20, April 2007 - 08:51]
By Chris Thornton

Thirteen Catholic workers from a Londonderry factory are caught
up in the UVF's spying operation - prompting incoming Deputy
First Minister Martin McGuinness to hint that the current probe
needs to be widened.

Mr McGuinness said it "seems too much of a coincidence that so
many Catholics in one firm have been advised of threats".

The High Court has heard allegations that personal details on
more than 100 republicans and nationalists fell into the hands of
loyalists through a PSNI clerk and a serving RIR soldier.

Mr McGuinness met 11 current and two former workers of the
unnamed business in south Derry, who believe there is a link
between the leaks and their workplace.

The spying operation was exposed when details were allegedly
found on five documents in Ballymena. The man accused of holding
the material, Darren Leslie Richardson (30) of Moneynick Road,
Randalstown, has also been charged with UVF membership.

PSNI clerk Aaron Hill, of Mainebank, Randalstown, is accused of
supplying him with information by illegally accessing names and
addresses from police computers.

The 22-year-old works in the Crime Management Unit.

The High Court also heard that Richardson told police a serving
soldier supplied him with information. He claims he collected the
material to identify people seen outside his house and denies
being a UVF member.

The soldier, who also lives in the Randalstown area, was
questioned by police but denied giving Richardson information.

Mr McGuinness is seeking "an urgent meeting with management at
the firm to relay to them the very real concerns of employees
that their details were given to unionist paramilitaries by
someone in the company".

He said there is a "significant and real threat to their lives".

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams raised the alleged spying
operation with Prime Minister Tony Blair earlier this week.

Mr McGuinness said: "We will also continue to raise this matter
with the two governments as we seek to gain for those threatened
the maximum amount of information to allow them to take adequate
security precautions."

c Belfast Telegraph


Arms Body To Meet PUP Leader

Brian Rowan
[Published: Friday 20, April 2007 - 12:16]
By Brian Rowan

The Independent Monitoring Commission will hold a weekend meeting
with the political party linked to the UVF.

Progressive Unionist Party leader Dawn Purvis told the Belfast
Telegraph she will meet the commissioners in Belfast tomorrow

The talks come as the UVF and associated Red Hand Commando
continue to make preparations for an announcement on the future
of both organisations.

That statement could be made before the May 8 devolution date -
although this has yet to be confirmed by the loyalist
paramilitary leadership.

Asked when the statement might emerge, Dawn Purvis said: "I can't
answer that, and if they (the IMC) ask me, I will say the same

Her meeting with the IMC is at the Commission's request, and
comes as the ceasefire watchdog puts the finishing touches to its
latest report.

That assessment will be published before May 8.

The commissioners - Lord Alderdice, John Grieve, Dick Kerr and
Joe Brosnan - have been meeting in Belfast this week, and had
been expected to deliver their latest assessment to the British
and Irish Governments soon.

But it is possible they could now wait to include the expected
loyalist developments.

On the IMC meeting, Dawn Purvis told this newspaper: "While it's
their job to shine a light on the negative aspects of
paramilitarism, it is up to us in the PUP to highlight to them
the good work that is going on, and to explain and help them
understand this process of conflict transformation."

And on the expected UVF statement, she added: "That's what people
are working towards and all I can do is help and encourage that
process along."

Party colleagues John Kyle, Andy Park, David Rose and Stewart
Finn will join the PUP leader in the IMC talks.

In the build-up to that UVF statement, the PUP plans other
meetings with the British and Irish governments, the police and
the unionist political parties.

c Belfast Telegraph


Fury After Hain Says RUC 'Discriminated'

[Published: Friday 20, April 2007 - 08:38]
By Noel McAdam

Secretary of State Peter Hain came under fierce attack from the
DUP last night after telling MPs that Catholics were
discriminated against in the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The DUP said his comments were "outrageous, completely inaccurate
and totally unacceptable".

As details of the row emerged yesterday, East Londonderry MP
Gregory Campbell said he was calling on Mr Hain to unequivocally
withdraw his statement.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said Mr Hain would be
writing to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to "clarify"
the matter.

And he said the comments had been in the context of the "historic
imbalance" in the police, which the 50-50 recruitment policy is

Mr Campbell retorted, however: "As he well knows, the under-
representation of Roman Catholics that existed cannot be seen
only as the result of the campaign of murder by the IRA and was
not down to discrimination against individuals.

"Given that he felt he had to support and continues to implement
a policy of discrimination against the Protestant community, in
terms of 50-50 recruitment to the police, and indicated he
intends to continue that policy for the next three years, his
remarks are totally unacceptable.

"And he is completely inaccurate in the way that he attempts to
defend the indefensible while trying to engage in revisionism of
the past."

Mr Hain's remarks were said to have come during a private session
at the end of the Northern Ireland Select Committee hearing on

In the earlier, public section the Secretary of State had
robustly defended the PSNI 50/50 recruitment policy which he
insisted will continue until 2010.

Then, after Hansard staff had left, the issue returned to the
debate again.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said later: "The Secretary of
State will be writing to the committee regarding his comments on
this issue and will clarify matters in that letter."

c Belfast Telegraph


Hain: Too Much Cash Is Spent On Inquiries

[Published: Thursday 19, April 2007 - 11:11]
By Sam Lister

Too much money is being spent on public inquiries into the past,
the Secretary of State has told a powerful committee of MPs.

Quizzed over budget pressures faced by the PSNI, Peter Hain told
MPs that more than œ200m was being spent on investigations and
around half of that was on lawyers' fees.

While agreeing that inquiries had to be carried out, he
questioned whether the province wanted to continue paying out to
examine events over recent years or if it wanted to invest in the
future instead.

He told Parliament's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee: "We are
spending an awful lot of money on the past."

He added: "œ167m has gone on Bloody Sunday so far and half of
that is lawyers' fees."

The SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell said it was "unfortunate" that the
cost of the public inquiries was being "played off" against the
budget pressures.

He added: "Most of these inquiries are very necessary. There is a
need for some sort of closure for people."

Earlier this year the Belfast Telegraph revealed a œ300m cost-
cutting plan had been tabled for policing services in the
province. The proposed savings for the PSNI budget for the period
2008-2011 are part of the Government's UK-wide Comprehensive
Spending Review.

It would lead to a dramatic reduction in police overtime, cutting
3,000 additional daily hours to reach a total of 5,850 by March
2011. Mr Hain told the committee that the PSNI would have fewer
demands on it due to paramilitary ceasefires.

He added: "There are pressures on all budgets. The policing
budget is one that we have to be very, very careful to maintain."

c Belfast Telegraph


DUP Has Let Family Down: Allister

[Published: Friday 20, April 2007 - 12:00]
By Noel McAdam

The DUP has come under renewed attack from a former senior member
as Peter Robinson today predicted a "bright futures" if parties
in the Executive can build on shared interests.

"Prospects never before imagined lie before us if we can reach
out and grab the opportunities," the party's deputy leader
concluded in an exclusive article for the Belfast Telegraph.

But he warned for the Executive to work the parties needed to
respect the very real differences between them - and repeated his
assertion that "a battle a day" will be par for the course.

The East Belfast MP added, however, that the socio-economic
outlook of many nationalists and unionists is "not dissimilar.

"The desire to improve the lot of our community will be shared by
all Executive parties," he said.

His assessment came, however, as the party's former MEP Jim
Allister said the DUP decision to share power with Sinn Fein had
meant the family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney had
been let down.

"Having met the McCartney sisters recently, I was aware that they
hoped the DUP had secured a firm commitment from Sinn Fein to
take decisive action to bring to justice the murderers of their
brother," he said.

"I share their disappointment that today Ian Paisley had no
positive news for them. It seems Sinn Fein is set to continue in
the paths of obfuscation and still prioritises "looking after its
own" before securing justice for a victim of a foul murder."

Mr Robinson, however, said he was putting republicans "on notice"
that the DUP would be not only guarding against attempts to
advance a united Ireland but strengthening the Union.

c Belfast Telegraph


Neal Leads Bipartisan Delegation To Ireland

By Cahir O'Doherty

CONGRESSMAN Richard E. Neal, chairman of the Friends of Ireland
group in the House, led a bipartisan delegation of members of
Congress to Dublin, Belfast and London last week to underline
U.S. support for the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The delegation also had an opportunity to talk to the political
leaders in the Republic about the issue of immigration reform.

Speaking to The Voice on Tuesday Neal said, "I was very pleased
to see that more than 1,500 people participated in the Irish
Lobby for Immigration Reform's (ILIR) rally in Dublin last
weekend. It is another reminder of how closely the people of
Ireland are following the debate over immigration reform here in
the United States Congress.

"And it is an indication of how effective the ILIR has been on
both sides of the Atlantic in raising awareness about the
challenges facing the undocumented Irish living in America. In
fact, the turnout and enthusiasm of the participants reminded me
of the ILIR events I have attended in Washington, DC."

Neal spoke about his concern for undocumented Irish people living
in the U.S. who are currently unable to reunite with their
families, and he indicated that he believed there was renewed
political will to see an immigration reform bill passed.

"During my recent visit to Ireland, it was clear that political
leaders on the island are united in their support for
comprehensive immigration reform," Neal said.

"I had an opportunity to discuss the issue directly with
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern and Foreign Minister
Dermot Ahern and was struck by their compassion for the 50,000
Irish now living and working in the U.S. They are committed to
seeing this issue resolved favorably and in an expeditious
manner. They want to see Irish families reunited. As a supporter
of comprehensive immigration reform, I happy to join them in this
important endeavor."

Meanwhile, with the power-sharing government expected to be
restored in Northern Ireland on May 8, the U.S. delegation met
with not only with Bertie Ahern, but British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley and Sinn
Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness.

"As the first U.S. delegation to travel to Belfast after the
historic agreement between Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams, our
objective was to reinforce bipartisan support for the peace
process," Neal said.

The Congressman added: "We want to personally congratulate Tony
Blair and Bertie Ahern on their extraordinary leadership. Our
delegation assured all the British and Irish political leaders
that the U.S. Congress will remain engaged in Northern Irish
politics long after power-sharing is restored on May 8. We want
to see a future of peace, equality and prosperity for all."

The delegation included Congressman Jim Walsh (R-NY), Congressman
Joe Crowley (D-NY), Con-gressman Brian Higgins (D-

Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA),
Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL), Congressman Tim Holden

(D-PA), Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Congressman Tim
Murphy (R-PA).


MLAs Get An Extra œ10,000 As They Return To Government

[Published: Friday 20, April 2007 - 08:41]
By Noel McAdam

Northern Ireland's Assembly members are in line for a salary
boost of almost œ10,000 from the very first day of devolution.

After May 8 - with the power-sharing Executive in place - the 108
MLAs' pay packets go back to full strength.

Since the suspension of the Assembly, the salaries of Assembly
members have been cut.

After the Assembly elections of November 2003, they were
increased again marginally but have remained at the reduced level
of œ31,817.

But in just over a fortnight, the restored salaries will rise by
œ9,504 to œ41,321.

And senior Assembly sources said a pay review at a relatively
early stage of the new term could not be ruled out.

"All these salaries are subject to review and could change again
after May 8," an Assembly spokesman said.

Nonetheless, the Assembly has already turned down a pay rise
recommended by the Senior Salaries Review Board in early 2002
which would have put MLAs on œ45,250.

Assembly Commission member Jim Wells said members believed they
were well enough paid in comparison to doctors, nurses, teachers
and others who were seeking salary increases.

Confirmed figures yesterday also revealed that both the first
minister and deputy first minister will be on Assembly salaries
of œ111,183.

The total is made up of their basic œ41,321 pay and salaries for
their respective offices of an additional œ69,862.

In the case of prospective First Minister Ian Paisley, the total
increases still further when his reduced Parliamentary salary is
taken into account, giving an estimated œ138,850.

Deputy First Minister designate Martin McGuinness, like other
Sinn Fein MPs, does not receive a Westminster salary because of
the party's boycott of the House of Commons.

Sinn Fein says its elected representatives receive only an
"average industrial wage" while the remainder is transferred to
central party coffers.

The latest salary figures have been cross-checked, however, by
the Assembly Press office, the Office of First and Deputy First
Minister and the Northern Ireland Office.

They show the 10 departmental ministers will be on salaries of
œ77,562 - their MLA rate of œ41,321 plus œ36,241.

The junior ministers - Ian Paisley jnr and Gerry Kelly in the
Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers - get an extra
œ18,800 added to their basic salaries to give a total of œ60,121.

And the chairmen of the 10 departmental scrutiny committees will
be on salaries of œ52,185 when their office holder salaries of
œ10,864 are added on.

c Belfast Telegraph


UUP 'Deathwish' Row Erupts

Furious supporters of Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey have
accused elements within the party of trying to destabilise his

By:Press Association

The accusation came amid claims that the party`s chief negotiator
Alan McFarland turned down a chance to become health minister in
the new Northern Ireland Executive.

Empey supporters were furious about the claims, which surfaced
just before the Ulster Unionist Council`s annual general meeting.

A supporter of the UUP leader said: "It appears there are some
people who are on a deathwish for our party.

"The Ulster Unionist Party is still suffering from the infighting
that occurred during the David Trimble-Jeffrey Donaldson era and
some of our members seem to be intent on opening up new wounds.

"It`s ridiculous."

Other party sources alleged Sir Reg, having decided to claim the
employment and learning ministry himself, offered Alan McFarland
the health post in the new Executive.

However it is claimed the North Down MLA rebuffed the offer,
urging Sir Reg not to take a ministry for himself and concentrate
instead on rebuilding the party after its disappointing Assembly

South Belfast MLA Michael McGimpsey, who served in the last
devolved government as culture minister, was announced as Sir
Reg`s nominee for health minister instead.

The UUP finished fourth in the popular vote in the Assembly
election in March, behind the Rev Ian Paisley`s DUP, Sinn Fein
and the nationalist SDLP.

However, under Northern Ireland`s single transferable vote
system, the party returned with two more Stormont seats than the
SDLP, enabling it to claim two ministries to the nationalist
party`s one.

The Ulster Unionist Party would not comment on the latest claims.


Court Told Of City Parade Rioting

A PSNI inspector has told Belfast Crown Court how loyalist blast
bombs sent a "shockwave" through a Land Rover.

Inspector Andrew Galbraith was part of a police line attacked
after the re-routing of the contentious Whiterock parade in
Belfast in September, 2005.

John Mains, 37, and Colin Harbinson, 36, both from Highfield
Drive, deny attempted murder.

The pair were captured on camera firing shots at police, but
claimed there was never any intention to kill.

However, the pair have already admitted to a series of charges
arising from street disorder which broke out after restrictions
were imposed on the Orange Order march by the Parades Commission.

The charges include rioting, possessing seven weapons, ammunition
and possessing explosives with intent.

Revealing both the PSNI and the Army had anticipated violence on
the day of the parade, Inspector Galbraith said: "From an early
stage we realised the parade was not going the way it had been
anticipated by the organisers and they had, in fact, lost control
of the parade."

The inspector said at about 1510 BST he became aware the parade
had fallen under the control of loyalist paramilitaries.

He said moments later, as the procession reached a flashpoint,
officers were verbally abused by a group of people who had
gathered to watch the march.

The officer told the court he was "punched, kicked and jostled by
Orangemen then by supporters" at the flashpoint.

Inspector Galbraith said he became aware of "serious public
disorder" in the nearby Highfield estate with reports of "the
military taking heavy casualties."

After arriving on West Circular Road with other officers, where a
crowd of about 200 people had gathered, the officer said police
were pelted with missiles, including petrol bombs and stones.

The case continues.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/19 17:13:58 GMT


Opin: Disastrous Nomination Is Latest UUP Mistake

By Brian Feeney

We know now the Ulster Unionist Party is sunk - not just damaged
beyond repair or holed below the water-line, but finished, kaput.

When the party leader, Sir Reg never-to-be-MP Empey, announced he
had nominated the wannabe knight of the doleful countenance,
McGimpsey, to be health minister in the new executive, that was
bad enough.

When Empey then expressed amazement that his announcement was
greeted with general incredulity, that was the clincher.

The fact that Empey could even consider nominating a guy like
McGimpsey shows his lack of political nous, how incapable he is
of playing the role of party leader.

Here, if anyone needed it, is the crucial evidence that poor old
Sir Reg should have stuck to retailing and, if he felt impelled
towards politics, to stay well behind the scenes.

McGimpsey should have retired in 2005 when he was beaten into
third place in South Belfast by the DUP's political novice Jimmy
Spratt, but no chance. He didn't understand what happened.

In March's assembly elections his cunning plan, for want of a
better word, was that his name would attract the UUP votes and
allow his 'lesser' running mates to get elected on his surplus.
McGimpsey was so well known he was bound to top the poll, wasn't

Ho, ho. So the constituency wasn't divided up and UUP voters were
allowed to vote willy-nilly. McGimpsey polled 2,600 votes, 8.7
per cent, and handed a UUP seat to Anna Lo.

Sean Crummey is probably better known in south Belfast than
McGimpsey. It is Crummey's satirical impressions of McGimpsey in
The Folks on the Hill which have turned his McGimpsey character
into a figure of ridicule - dull, doleful, pretentious, with a
whinging monotonous voice.

Not surprisingly, in the real world, Sean Crummey's character
couldn't have topped the poll anywhere in March. He just hasn't
got it.

Leaving aside McGimpsey's public persona, disastrous though it is
in a TV age, there are other compelling reasons why he should
never have been considered for ministerial office.

In April 2004, obviously with an eye to the upcoming British
general election, McGimpsey adopted a shameful position after a
leafleting campaign and attacks on new apartments in Sandy Row.

Standing in Sandy Row after windows were broken and local morons
daubed anti-Catholic slogans on the walls, our hero proclaimed
that it was a "non-threatening protest".

Shame. Shame.

If the leaflets had said 'No Jews', or 'No Blacks', what would
his reaction have been?

His colleague Esmond Birnie, who had better eyesight, denounced
the campaign as "intimidatory and designed to be intimidatory".

Later that year, in October, McGimpsey again excelled himself in
his knowledge of the constituency when he claimed he did not know
the UDA and UVF were involved in allocating housing in Donegall
Pass, in reality preventing housing there being allocated to
Chinese people.

What McGimpsey also didn't know was that if this was a genius
move to garner a few votes from the local yahoos, they were going
to vote DUP if they voted at all.

Of course it did wonders for McGimpsey's support among south
Belfast's Chinese, just as his equivocation about the apartment
block in Sandy Row did wonders for his chances of transfers from
Catholics last March.

Sir Reg might imagine that trying to boost McGimpsey's profile
will give him a chance to recover the South Belfast Westminster
seat in 2010.

On the contrary, the only person who would support that notion is
Alasdair McDonnell.

The more votes McGimpsey gets the more certain it is that
McDonnell will hold the South Belfast seat. That really will
endear the UUP to the unionist voters of south Belfast.

In the end it's not McGimpsey's fault that Empey nominated him
for health minister except insofar as McGimpsey should have
retired from politics as a failure in 2005.

No - the sole fault for this disastrous nomination lies with the
party leader and is simply the latest in a series of mistakes and

All in all they show that if McGimpsey is a hopeless choice for
health minister, Empey is hopeless as party leader.

The trouble is, there's no-one else. Finis UUP.


Opin: The Big Man Was Right

[Published: Friday 20, April 2007 - 11:40]

The DUP has faced fierce criticism since it declared it was
entering government with Sinn Fein. As some members leave amid
accusations the party has done precisely what it criticised the
UUP for doing, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson insists its
totally different this time round

There has been much commentary over the past few weeks about the
DUP Executive's decision, taken with the support of over 90% of
our delegates, to enter an all-party Executive in May, and the
meeting Dr Paisley and colleagues had with Sinn Fein which was
approved by a 15-1 vote by the Party Officers (Jim Allister being
the opposing vote).

For my part I believe each of the party's decisions was right and
I am sickened by those who, as they part company with us, try to
rubbish the significant gains of the past few years made by the


I accept that the decisions have not been easy to take nor
pleasant to accept, but only those in denial or those wedded to
nit-picking perfection would fail to see that, in spite of the
legacy left by the UUP, the DUP has massively transformed the
situation and safeguarded unionist interests. I am even more
revolted by the UUP smear that Ian Paisley has done what he
criticised Trimble and Empey for doing and the impudent and
thoroughly dishonest claim that the UUP did the "heavy lifting"
which made the present agreement possible.

Let me remind them that Trimble and Empey ushered Sinn Fein into
government while republicans held all their illegal weaponry,
continued with terrorist activities including murder and ran
their criminal empire at full tilt. Moreover, the UUP allowed
Sinn Fein into government while they opposed the police, often
violently, and refused to even recognise our courts. The UUP
allowed Sinn Fein authority in government departments without the
means to control any undemocratic actions and gave them a role on
north-south bodies without any accountability.

The DUP on the other hand refused to enter an executive which
would include Sinn Fein until after decommissioning had taken
place, paramilitary and criminal activity ended, support for the
police and courts was demonstrated and accountability measures
were put in place to control Sinn Fein activity in government
departments and on north- south bodies.

Those who cannot see the difference between those two positions
should not be allowed near politics. That, no doubt, is why those
with no discernment or vision were dispatched to political
oblivion by the electorate.

The difference is simple. The DUP forced republicans to transform
and conform. The DUP got the conditions right and got the
controls in place to safeguard the interests of unionism. That,
for me, was the only basis for moving forward. As for the claim
that the UUP did the "heavy-lifting" , I can authoritatively
state that the greatest difficulty the DUP has faced over the
four years it has been negotiating has been clawing back losses
made by the UUP. Negotiating a fair deal is a tough enough
assignment of itself without having to unravel, defuse or
eliminate the concessions handed to republicans by the UUP.


The lamentable failure and ineptitude of the UUP added to the
difficulty of our task. Far from doing the heavy-lifting, the
UUP's legacy added a greater burden for the DUP within the

So what of the prospects for the future? During the Assembly
election campaign I agreed with a comment made many months before
by Gerry Adams that working in the Executive would be "a battle a
day". While I notice that Martin McGuinness is trying to distance
himself from his leader's phrase I still stand by my remarks.

The comment was never intended to suggest that on many day to day
issues there would not be common ground. Of course there will be.
The socio-economic outlook of many nationalists and unionists is
not dissimilar. The desire to improve the lot of our community
will be shared by all Executive parties. However, if you ask me:
"Do you trust Sinn Fein?" I will reply: "I trust them to speak
like republicans, think like republicans and act like

I am not blinded from the fact that Sinn Fein is committed to
promoting and working towards a united Ireland. The DUP, however,
is committed to maintaining and strengthening the link between
Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Martin
McGuinness was pushing for a united Ireland last month, he is
pushing for it today and even though Sinn Fein have publicly
supported the police in this part of the UK and announced support
for the courts of this part of the UK they will still be trying
to alter Northern Ireland's constitutional direction in the
future. Given this racing certainty we can expect that where an
issue arises that can be turned to the advantage of the
republican goal it will be exploited by Sinn Fein.

There is nothing either to be surprised about or feared in
acknowledging that reality. As long as Sinn Fein seeks to advance
its political aspirations in a constitutional and democratic
manner, a political battle a day is par for the course in any
modern democracy. However, to deny that it will occur or to be
lulled into believing that the Executive is comprised of people
who hold the same political goals and intentions is patently
absurd and politically perilous.

The framework within which the constitutional question is to be
settled may be agreed and the means to dispose of it may have
been settled but the constitutional question itself has
manifestly not been settled.

There will be some na‹ve souls who will say: "But surely there is
no constitutional issue involved in education, regional
development, agriculture or health?" Wrong. The work of every
department can be skewed towards an all-Ireland agenda. It was
for this reason that the DUP held out for fundamental changes to
be made to the Belfast Agreement. It was for this reason that
controls and vetoes now exist in the new arrangements. They are
not there to stop or hinder the smooth working of government.
They are there to stop any abuse of the levers of power.


Equally, having a cordial relationship with the Republic is to be
desired and having co-operation for our mutual benefit is worth
advancing, there is no part of me that wants to dilute my
unionism or enlarge political north-southery.

I put republicans on notice that they will be operating within a
process that will not be a one-way street. The DUP is not merely
in the business of guarding against attempts to advance the
nationalist goal of a united Ireland but of promoting,
maintaining and strengthening the union. The DUP openly admits it
has its own agenda. We are convinced the arrangements we have
secured significantly fortify the link with Great Britain. We
intend to build on the east-west relationship and reinforce the


I point out these realities not to deflate the prospect of moving
forward and making progress but to ensure that the basis for
moving forward is understood and soundly based. For the new
Executive to work, the parameters need to be understood and each
party needs to respect the very real differences which do exist
and instead learn to build on those areas where interests are

If parties can concentrate on those issues and areas which can
improve the lives of all our people rather than chasing
constitutional moonbeams then a bright future awaits. Prospects
never before imagined lie before us if we reach out and grab the
opportunities. The DUP is determined to make a difference and
will work earnestly with those who also want to improve the lives
and livelihoods of our people. Equally those who seek to push at
the constitutional boundaries can expect total and determined

c Belfast Telegraph


Shark Spotted, But There's No Need To Panic

[Published: Friday 20, April 2007 - 09:07]
By Linda McKee

A huge shark has been spotted cruising at the entrance to
Strangford Lough.

But there's no reason for fear - the gigantic fish was a basking
shark, which feeds only on plankton.

In fact, the shark, glimpsed at the Narrows by marine biologist
Professor Graham Savidge of Queen's University's lab in
Portaferry, was a relatively small specimen. Basking sharks are
among the biggest fish on the planet, second only to the tropical
whale shark.

Padraig Whooley, sightings co-ordinator with the Irish Whale And
Dolphin Group which reported the find on its website, said the
incident came one day after the year's first basking shark-
sighting in Irish waters, suggesting that the enormous beasts may
be responding to our rapidly warming waters.

"Irish waters are probably some of the best waters in the world
to find basking sharks, which is amazing because they are the
second biggest fish on the planet.

"The Narrows is an excellent place to see them," he added.

c Belfast Telegraph


Return Of The Swift Indicates Summer Is Well On Its Way

[Published: Friday 20, April 2007 - 12:18]
By Linda McKee

It's been one of the earliest springs anyone can remember - and
now summer is following close on its heels.

The annual Springwatch survey has revealed that the hawthorn is
blossoming and the swifts are back - events that traditionally
mark the start of summer.

The survey, run by the BBC and the Woodland Trust with the help
of springwatchers across the country, shows the unseasonally warm
weather is having a knock-on effect on Ulster's wildlife.

Patrick Cregg of the Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland said the
ongoing survey is building a fascinating picture of spring
emerging across the country.

"Records from Northern Ireland indicate some early natural
events, with reports of hawthorns flowering already coming in,
and the first swift sighted on April 10," he said.

"We're extremely grateful to all our existing springwatchers, but
we are appealing for more Northern Ireland recorders. With your
help, we will see exactly how spring is unfolding closer to home
and how climate change is affecting our precious wildlife."

The timing of the seasons is changing, with mild winter and
spring temperatures contributing to warmer than average
temperatures, said Dr Kate Lewthwaite of the Woodland Trust.

"One of the most famous vernacular names for the hawthorn is the
May tree and culturally and historically it is seen as signifying
the start of summer," she said.

"Due to the exceptionally mild start to the year, this summer
signal is arriving up to three weeks earlier than 30 years ago."

According to Celtic mythology, hawthorn is the plant most likely
to be inhabited by fairies. If a twig of hawthorn is tied
together with red thread to twigs from oak and ash, it will
provide protection from the fairies. One folk custom was to tie
ribbons or rags onto hawthorn trees on May Day as gifts to the

Meanwhile, swifts are normally expected to return from migration
around May 10, when temperatures are slightly milder.

To find out more or get involved in recording your seasonal
sightings, visit

c Belfast Telegraph

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