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May 09, 2007

NI Assembly To Launch Charm Offensive

News about Ireland & the Irish

BN 05/09/07 NI Assembly To Launch Charm Offensive
SF 05/08/07 McGuinness - Goal Is To Provide Better Future For All
SF 05/08/07 Adams - Today Is A Good Day For Ireland
BT 05/09/07 The Miracle Of Belfast
BT 05/08/07 Moment Of History
BT 05/08/07 Figures Of Past Watch As Executive Takes Power
BT 05/08/07 Sir Reg Vows To Prevent Carve-Up 'Axis'
BT 05/08/07 Deal Architects Are In Agreement On Events
BB 05/09/07 Queen And Pope Herald Devolution
BT 05/09/07 Peace Deal Praised By Senator Clinton
BN 05/09/07 Another DUP Councillor Resigns Over Power-Sharing
BT 05/09/07 Archbishop Hopes For Settlement Of Drumcree By Summer
BB 05/09/07 Vera McVeigh - Mother Of Disappeared Victim Dies
DJ 05/08/07 Derry Dissidents 'Not Going Away'
BT 05/09/07 Obituary: Tributes Pour In For DUP Man Dawson
BN 05/09/07 Almost 470 Nominated For May 24 Election
BT 05/09/07 Opin: Hard Work Follows A Momentous Day
BT 05/09/07 Opin: Together At Last, But Can You See The Join?
BT 05/09/07 Opin: Verdict- Things Only Get Better
BT 05/09/07 Opin: Hain: Hard Questions For Paisley & McGuinness
BT 05/09/07 Opin: 2 Adversaries - Now A Journey Begins For Us
BN 05/09/07 Live Budgie Found At Portlaoise Prison
DJ 05/08/07 Roma Weds For Third Time


NI Assembly To Launch Charm Offensive

09/05/2007 - 07:11:08

The North's new power sharing administration will today launch a
charm offensive as the team of ministers begins a series of

First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin
McGuinness will host their first joint reception at Stormont
since taking over as the joint heads of the new power sharing

The reception will recognise the role Northern Ireland's ethnic
communities play in the province.

Members of the Chinese, Indian and Pakistani communities will
join Eastern Europeans and other communities including Travellers
for the event.

Economy Minister Nigel Dodds will travel to Derry for a major

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane will visit schools in Antrim
and Magherafelt.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie will tour the site
of a social housing project in South Belfast.

Culture Minister Edwin Poots will meet children from both sides
of the sectarian divide in North Belfast who are involved in a
cross community sports project.

The new Northern Executive will also circulate a new glossy
leaflet through daily newspapers and government offices informing
the public about devolution and introducing them to the new

A Stormont source said: "Now that we have got the official
ceremony out of the way at Parliament Buildings, we can now get
down to the real day-to-day business of devolved government.

"I think everybody is relishing that challenge."


McGuinness - Goal Is To Provide A Better Future For All Our

Published: 8 May, 2007

Address by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont

"I am proud to stand here today as an Irish Republican who
believes absolutely in a United Ireland.

I too wish to welcome the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and all our friends from around the world
whose encouragement and support helped us reach this day.

Many people in this hall today played an important part in our
peace process. Many others could not be with us today. I want to
send our warmest thanks to them.

We will continue to rely on that support as we strive towards a
society moving from division and disharmony to one which
celebrates our diversity and is determined to provide a better
future for all our people.

One which cherishes the elderly, the vulnerable, the young and
all of our children equally. Which welcomes warmly those from
other lands and cultures who wish to join us and forge a future

A society which remembers those who have lost their lives. Last
Saturday I spent time with families in County Tyrone who had lost
loved ones. They and many others throughout our community have
suffered and continue to suffer as a result of our difficult and
painful past. So we must look to the future to find the means to
help them heal.

We must also focus on the practical.

To build we need the tools and as I have said we look to our
friends on these islands and beyond to provide the practical
support we need.

As joint heads of the Executive the First Minister and I pledge
to do all in our power to ensure it makes a real difference to
the lives of all our people by harnessing their skills through a
first rate education system, caring for our sick in the best
health service we can provide and building our economy through
encouraging investment and improving our infrastructure.

We know that this will not be easy and the road we are embarking
on will have many twists and turns.

It is however a road which we have chosen and which is supported
by the vast majority of our people. In the recent elections they
voted for a new political era based on peace and reconciliation.

On the evening of the Assembly election results I received a
phone call from a 100 years young woman, Molly Gallagher, in
County Donegal. She told me she was very happy with the election
results and that she was looking forward to seeing Ian Paisley
and myself together. I'm sure she is watching us today. Hello

As for Ian Paisley, I want to wish you all the best as we step
forward towards the greatest yet most exciting challenge of our

Ireland's greatest living poet, a fellow Derry man, Seamus
Heaney, once told a gathering that I attended at Magee University
that for too long and too often we speak of the others or the
other side and that what we need to do is to get to a place of
through otherness. The Office of the First and deputy First
Minsters is a good place to start. This will only work if we
collectively accept the wisdom and importance of Seamus Heaneys

Since March 26 much work has been done which has confounded
critics and astounded the sceptics.

Like these talented people from Sky's the Limit, who entertained
us so wonderfully today, we must overcome the difficulties which
we face in order to achieve our goals and seize the opportunities
that exist. This, and future generations expect and deserve no
less from us.


Adams - Today Is A Good Day For Ireland

Published: 8 May, 2007

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speaking at Stormont this morning
said "Today is another significant landmark in the process of
transforming life on this island. Today is a good day for
Ireland. I want to thank and commend everyone who worked to
achieve this."

Sinn Fein leaders from across Ireland are in Stormont today as
Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley take up their positions at the
head of the power-sharing government in the north. Among those in
attendance are party President Gerry Adams, incoming Ministers
Caitr¡ona Ruane, Michelle Gildernew, Gerry Kelly and Conor
Murphy. They will be joined from the south by Mary Lou McDonald,
Martin Ferris, Gerry Murray, John Brady, David Cullinane, Padraig
MacLochlainn, Joe Reilly, Jonathan O'Brien and Joanne Spain.

Mr. Adams said:

"Today is another significant landmark in the process of
transforming life on this island. Today is a good day for
Ireland. I want to thank and commend everyone who worked to
achieve this.

"I want also to remember everyone who was hurt or killed in the
conflict. Over the weekend I spent time in County Tyrone with
families of IRA volunteers killed 20 years ago today at
Loughgall. Days like today must be about ensuring that events
like Loughgall are never visited on another generation.

"I genuinely believe that we are all shaping a real process of
national reconciliation and building a new relationship between
the people on this island and between Ireland and Britain. There
are clearly many challenges ahead but have no doubt that all
these challenges can be overcome."

Creideann muid go bhfuil t£s d‚ nta le haghaidh r‚ £r do
pholait¡ochta ar an oile n seo. T Sinn Fein s sta go bhfuil na
hInstiti£id¡ Comhaont£ an Ch‚asta ar ais in it inniu agus molann
muid ceannasa¡ocht an DUP. Taispe nann na pl‚ cainteanna seo agus
an comhaont£ idir r d ph irt¡ na f‚idireachta¡ de cad is f‚idir
linn a dh‚anamh amach anseo.

Rinne Sinn Fein an gn¢ do mhuintir na hireann uilig. Bh¡ stair
br¢nach againn-bu¡ agus glas. Ar an l seo caithfidh muid a
bheith d¢chasach..T imid ag iarraidh an thodhcha¡ is fearr a
th¢ga¡l le ch‚ile d r muintir uilig. T imid ag lorg s¡och n agus
cearta d'achan duine ar an oile n seo. Imp¡m ar gach duine tac£
linn amach anseo agus feicfidh muid r n-aisling ire an
comhionannas curtha i bhfeidhm san ioml n.


The Miracle Of Belfast

[Published: Wednesday 9, May 2007 - 09:15]
By David McKittrick

It is the closest thing to a miracle that Belfast has seen: the
sight of the two veterans, Protestant patriarch and iconic
republican, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to vow that they will
leave the past behind.

It flew in the face of all history, all experience and all
intuition to think of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness promising
to run Northern Ireland together for the benefit of all its

Reporting in Belfast for many years, I had watched the pair at
close quarters, but until recently never dreamt they could get
together: they seemed to occupy different political planets. Yet
it happened. Two warriors of the Troubles, whose natural habitat
seemed to be conflict, stood side-by-side in Stormont and
affirmed to the world that the war is over and that a new era of
co-operation is at hand.

Another minor miracle was that they did so with every appearance
of enthusiasm and mutual respect. Far from any hint of
reluctance, they projected that they are looking forward to a new
era with great relish. For a Belfast journalist this is all very
confusing and disorientating. They were so far apart that they
only rarely bothered to attack each other: they simply were
hardly on each other's radar screens.

Over the years I heard them, repeatedly and routinely, send out
the message that there would be no compromise, no sell-out, no
surrender. But now there is a new rhetoric and all of the old
certainties are disappearing.

Ian Paisley, now Northern Ireland's First Minister, spoke of "a
time when hate will no longer rule". Martin McGuinness, ex-IRA
and now his new deputy, spoke of peace and reconciliation. They
both clearly meant it.

Few doubt these guys could have fought on forever, fortified by
all the centuries of antagonism, yet the peace process came along
to rescue them, and Northern Ireland. Among those who regard it
all as a bit of a miracle was Mr Paisley himself, the one-time
opponent of the peace process who was sworn in to head it

In Stormont, the scene of so many failed initiatives which has
finally become the scene of a spectacularly successful one, Mr
Paisley began his speech by saying: "If you had told me some time
ago that I would be standing here to take this office, I would
have been totally unbelieving." Witnessing this were two prime
ministers, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, basking yesterday in
their status as those who stuck with the peace process against
such odds and steered it through so many crises.

Yet the recent history of the process, after years of taking two
steps forward followed by one step back, has been studded not
with setbacks but with minor miracles. The IRA has gone away, and
the big loyalist groups are fading. Anglo-Irish relations are in
a golden era, Unionists are developing friendly relations with
the Irish Republic. Soldiers have disappeared from the streets,
republicans support the police, and there are few funerals.

Northern Ireland suffered through 3,700 deaths: for a journalist,
the reporting of breakthroughs must always be tempered by the
knowledge that, brighter future or not, the new era will not
restore those lost lives. Yet there are now many minor miracles,
along with the new acceptance that the two sides should share
power. This settlement received overwhelming endorsement in a
recent election. The world, and almost everyone in Northern
Ireland, now simply wants the Paisley-McGuinness alliance to get
on with it.

And if Mr McGuinness can casually stroll into Mr Paisley's
Stormont office, as he did yesterday, then it is difficult for
any doubters to argue that he is unfit for government office.

Already the two are working closely together and presenting a
common front against the first thing they have identified as a
common target: Gordon Brown. They want a peace dividend, and the
fact that their campaign is a joint one means Mr Brown will find
it hard to send them away empty-handed.

In the Assembly the day was a mixture of the humdrum and the
near-miraculous. In a relaxed atmosphere, the former Speaker was
thanked and a new one sworn in, together with several deputies.
Ministers took the pledge of office, with Mr Paisley and Mr
McGuinness installed in the two top jobs and 10 others appointed
to head departments. This meant that devolution had "gone live".

The two prime ministers watched approvinglyfrom the public
gallery, then went along to the new First Minister's comfortable
corner office to take tea with the new McGuinness-Paisley
partnership. Then the four walked together down the marble steps
of Stormont's Great Hall to hear a song - "You lift me up" -
before delivering brief speeches. Tony Blair, paying tribute to
Bertie Ahern, said Northern Ireland now had the chance to "shake
off those heavy chains of history" which had been scarred by
hardship and conflict.

The Taoiseach declared: "Tony Blair has been a true friend of
peace, and a true friend of Ireland. For 10 tough years, he has
spent more time dealing with the issues of the island of Ireland
than any person ever could have asked any other person to do."

Years ago an astute observer of Northern Ireland forecast that
progress would eventually come in a rush. He quoted Ogden Nash:
"Shake and shake the ketchup bottle; first none will come and
then a lot'll." It is not, I know, great poetry, but it does
capture the sense that when a breakthrough does come, after years
of frustrating apparent stagnation, it can come on a scale
verging on the miraculous.

Mr Paisley in particular is - aged 81 or not - clearly raring to
go as in effect Northern Ireland's prime minister, and is utterly
unabashed by having a former IRA leader by his side. I know he
can be a highly comic character, and yesterday he deployed his
occasionally self-deprecating sense of humour, chatting away to
the prime ministers and Mr McGuinness as they sat on a sofa and
armchairs and sipped tea for the television cameras.

"I wonder why people hate me," he said with a chuckle, "when I'm
such a nice man." Mr Blair, polite and pleasant, maintained that
he would miss their meetings together: no one expressed
incredulity. As they all smiled, it occurred to me that the
troubles were ending not with a bang, but a cuppa.

But Mr Paisley has already warned that the new Northern Ireland
is not going to be a paradise. No longer will local politicians
be able to leave thorny issues in education or agriculture to
London to sort out: from now on, the buck will stop with them.

At some stage they will have to confront the question of
segregation in the cities, where almost 60 "Peace Lines," some of
them 30ft high, divide hardline loyalist and republican areas.
They are the starkest illustration of the fact that hardly any of
the Protestant and Catholic working classes of Belfast live side
by side, instead living in segregated districts and attending
separate schools: the kids don't know each other.

Some hope the new administration will tackle this most sensitive
and deep-rooted of problems. But all recognise that it will not
be solved quickly, for such divisions have been a feature of life
in Belfast for well over a century. The most optimistic just hope
that an amicable Paisley-McGuinness relationship will help by
setting a new tone.

In the meantime, it does the heart good to chart the progress of
Mr Paisley from the one-time firebrand who seemed to revel in
discord to the figure who, after his late-life odyssey, declared:
"That was yesterday. Today is today." And when he spoke of
looking forward to "wonderful healing", his language irresistibly
recalled the lines of the poet Seamus Heaney, which were written
years ago but which could have been inspired by the events of

"So hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge/
Believe that a further shore is reachable from here/Believe in
miracles and cures and healing wells."

'The day of tribal politics here is gone'

In Stormont, the atmosphere was one of back-slapping bonhomie.
But a few miles away on the streets of Belfast, those who lived
on the front line of the Troubles knew better than to celebrate
too eagerly.

The "Peace Lines", a series of barriers that have separated
Catholic and Protestant communities in Belfast for 35 years,
remain the most enduring symbols of the division in Northern
Ireland. Yesterday, those who live either side of them had a
suitably blunt message for their newly anointed rulers - "Get on
with it."

Tommy Williamson's home stands in the shadow of one of the 25ft
walls that divides him from his Catholic neighbours. He said: "I
hope to God it works this time. It has to because people like me
want it too work. Politicians here need to get on with the job
they were elected to do.

"The day of tribal politics here is gone, thank God."

Across the barrier, Michael Connery, a Catholic student,
expressed a similar concern that progress in Stormont has yet to
be reflected in the reality of life among ordinary people.

He said: "Just because Sinn Fein and the DUP have agreed to a
return of the Assembly doesn't mean our communities are not still
divided. Segregation is a problem that has to be addressed. Until
the barriers come down and people really learn to live alongside
each other then I think political progress will be limited."

But while any optimism was bound to be cautious, there was a firm
belief that the co-habitation of Ian Paisley and Martin
McGuinness made the demolition of the Peace Lines a distinct
possibility as well as a long-held aspiration. Mr Williamson
said: "It symbolises segregation and segregation
institutionalises sectarianism.

"I remember my Dad saying to me 'good fences make good neighbours
Tommy'. But he was wrong. Segregation has ruined this community."

From bloodshed to partnership



June: Elections for power-sharing assembly. UUP leader David
Trimble is First Minister-designate

August: Real IRA car bomb in Omagh kills 29 people in the worst
single attack of the conflict.


December: Devolved government returns to Northern Ireland after
27 years of rule from London.


February: London suspends power-sharing assembly after IRA's
failure to disarm.

May: IRA says it will store weapons. Britain restores power to


July: Trimble resigns over IRA's failure to disarm.


October: Sinn Fein Stormont offices raided by police
investigating an alleged IRA spy ring. Power-sharing suspended
after arrest of Sinn Fein's head of administration.


October: Trimble claims lack of transparency in IRA's disarmament
meant he could not deliver his end of the deal.

November: The DUP emerges as largest party in Assembly elections.
Ian Paisley warns he will not sit in government with republicans
until IRA disarms and disbands.


June: Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern set
September deadline to end an impasse, but talks grind to a halt
before the end of the year.


April: Sinn Fein calls on the IRA to end its armed campaign after
a series of high-profile crimes.

July: The IRA says it has ordered its members to dump all arms.

September: Independent witnesses confirm the IRA has disarmed.

December: Denis Donaldson confesses to being a British spy.


April: Denis Donaldson is shot dead. The IRA denies involvement.

April 6: Blair and Ahern launch talks for reviving self-rule.


January: Sinn Fein declares it supports the Protestant-dominated
Police Service, a key condition.

March: Paisley and Gerry Adams hold first face-to-face meeting at
Stormont between their parties and announce a deal to revive
power-sharing on 8 May.

The new power structure

Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, was
sworn in yesterday as Northern Ireland's First Minister, leading
the first power-sharing government in the province for five

The former IRA member Martin McGuinness, a senior Sinn Fein
negotiator, was sworn in as Deputy First Minister. Both men were
elected unopposed.

William Hay of the DUP was elected as Speaker.

Mr McGuinness and Mr Paisley will head a power-sharing executive
whose 12 members have been drawn from the four main parties in
the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont.

The 108-seat assembly was set-up under the 1998 Good Friday peace
agreement, but was dogged by arguments over IRA disarmament, and
power was not transferred from London to Belfast until December

Since then, direct rule from London was reintroduced four times,
most recently in 2002 following allegations of Republican
intelligence-gathering at Stormont.

The Northern Ireland executive will have power over local affairs
including education and health, but London will retain
sovereignty over the province.

In the new executive, the DUP has four ministers handling
finance, the economy, environment and culture. Sinn Fein took
control of regional development, agriculture and education.
Ulster Unionist ministers will handle employment and health,
while the SDLP has social development.

c Belfast Telegraph


Moment Of History

[Published: Tuesday 8, May 2007 - 15:29]

Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness today promised to put hate in
the past and formally pledged to lead a power-sharing government
in a "new beginning" for Northern Ireland.

As the world watched, the veteran political foes joined forces as
First Minister and Deputy First Minister to usher in a new era
which Mr McGuinness said will involve a "fundamental change of

Images which would have been viewed as unthinkable even a few
years ago were being broadcast from Stormont across the globe as
the new Executive was formed by the Assembly.

It took only 45 minutes for the 12 ministers and juniors to take
the official pledge of office and bring about another attempt to
make devolution work after five years of political turbulence and

Afterwards, in the Great Hall in Parliament Buildings, the new
First Minister said: "From the depths of my heart I believe
Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace, a time when hate
will no longer rule."

The DUP leader said he had felt a great sense of relief from
people who wanted to see hostility replaced by neighbourliness.

But he also said that if it had not been for the "interference"
of some who claimed to have contributed to the political process,
today's outcome could have been reached much earlier.

New Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinness spoke of the many victims
over the four decades of the troubles and said: "We must look to
the future and look for the means to help them heal."

Referring to the unique joint office he now shares with Mr
Paisley, the former IRA second-in-command said: "I know this will
not be easy and the road we are embarking on will have many
twists and turns."

With behind the scenes negotiations continuing over an economic
package for the new Executive, Mr McGuinness also appealed for
the two governments to provide "the practical help we need".

There were jokes, too, as the newly-elected premiers of the
province shared a cup of tea with the Irish and British Prime
Ministers, who could both be out of office in the near future.

Mr Paisley quipped that a young man like Mr Blair was leaving
office in his 50s while he, at 81, was coming into government.

The two long-opposed politicians were also watched from the
public gallery by a range of people who helped put the peace
process together and prevent it, at crucial points, from breaking

They included the church decommissioning witnesses, the Rev
Harold Good, a former Methodist President, and Fr Alec Reid,
whose involvement in the process stretches back for years, as
well as one of the chief architects of the Good Friday Agreement,
John Hume, and dignitaries including American senator Ted

Mr Blair said: "We can see the chance to begin to escape the
heavy chains of history and make history anew."

He said many people had told him Mr Paisley would never agree to
share power, but the DUP leader had told him in the right
circumstances he would do what was necessary to see Northern
Ireland at peace.

"I believed him and he has been true to his word," Mr Blair said.

Mr Ahern pledged that the Irish government would work with the
Executive in the genuine spirit of partnership and friendship.

He said today had shown that divisions of the past can be put
behind us and this should be the last generation to feel the
anger of "old quarrels" .

Following the election of Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness the party
leaders nominated the Executive Ministers in turn - Peter
Robinson as Minister of Finance and Personnel; Caitriona Ruane as
Minister for Education; Nigel Dodds in Enterprise, Trade and
Investment; Michael McGimpsey as Minister for Health; Margaret
Ritchie as the Department of Social Development Minister; Conor
Murphy as Minister of Regional Development; Arlene Foster as
Environment Minister; Michelle Gildernew in Agriculture; Edwin
Poots as Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure and Sir Reg Empey
as Minister of Employment and Learning.

The junior ministers who will work in the First Ministers'
office, Ian Paisley Jnr and Gerry Kelly, were then appointed.

A DUP MLA was also elected as Speaker of the Assembly but Mr
Paisley undertook that his party will support a Sinn Fein
candidate to be the Speaker in the next Parliament.

c Belfast Telegraph


Figures Of Ulster's Divided Past Look Down As New Executive Takes

[Published: Tuesday 8, May 2007 - 15:39]

The gallery above was like a waiting room for the future,
populated by the faces of the past.

As the new Executive took up the Government of Northern Ireland,
they were watched from above by many of the leading figures of
the peace process, including the Prime Minister on his way out
and the Taoiseach whose electors may soon force him to do the

Seven seats away and one row back were members of the IRA Army
Council, the group that came close to killing Tony Blair's two
predecessors. At least there were men named as IRA leaders in a
different Assembly at a different time.

Six years ago to the day, standing in the same chamber, the DUP
deputy leader Peter Robinson named Brian Keenan as the IRA's
assistant chief of staff, and Bobby Storey, who sat next to Mr
Keenan in the VIP gallery today, as the group's director of

Time marches on as the new First Minister said about another
matter - his arrest on the night the Good Friday Agreement was
reached - "That was yesterday. This is today."

Today, Mr Robinson is the Finance Minister of a new Executive
that includes at its head Martin McGuinness, another of the men
he named as an IRA leader.

Among others present were leading lights of the peace process,
including John Hume.

Nearby was Fr Alex Reid, who helped bring Mr Hume and Gerry Adams
together for their groundbreaking talks.

He sat near the Rev Harold Good, reuniting the clergymen who
witnessed the IRA's final act of decommissioning, along with a
list of other figures from the peace process like John Reid, Ted
Kennedy, Peter Hain and 30 members of the public who got in to
witness another day of history.

Below, on the floor of the Assembly, they were - again in Ian
Paisley's words - replacing hostility with neighbourliness.

Before the formal business of nominating ministers, Gerry Adams
offered his condolences to the DUP over the death of George
Dawson, the MLA who succumbed to cancer last night. Mr Paisley

There was also good humour. Mr Paisley nominated William Hay as
the new Speaker and the seconder, Jeffrey Donaldson, referred to
Mr Hay as a " stout defender".

MLAs shot looks at Mr Hay's girth and began to laugh.

Mr Hay took up his post and asked that out of respect for Mr
Dawson there should be no applause when the new ministers were
sworn in.

So it proceeded in a solemn atmosphere that at times had Bertie
Ahern squirming to get back on the campaign trail. There was
little drama - each of the ministers was already known and had
been handed their briefs, so they stood in turn and affirmed the
oath of office by reading off shiny cue cards.

Throughout there were quiet handshakes all around. The IRA men
were for the most part expressionless, but smiled to each other
when Gerry Kelly became a junior minister.

The new First Minister admitted he was surprised to find himself
standing where he was. "There's been so much despising by the
Press," said Mr Paisley

afterwards, "it was nice to see it was done with dignity."

Later Tony Blair talked about never forgetting those who lost
their lives, and acknowledged that some can never forgive.

But he said it had to be remembered that what many considered
impossible had been achieved.

After four decades of conflict and years of negotiation, the
formal business in the chamber took less than an hour.

There was no applause, just a quiet murmur as the figures of the
past who watched it all quietly filed out.

The IRA leaders were among them.

c Belfast Telegraph


Sir Reg Vows To Prevent Carve-Up 'Axis'

[Published: Tuesday 8, May 2007 - 15:43]

The Ulster Unionist Party today pledged to work to provide an
alternative to the DUP-Sinn Fein "axis" at Stormont.

As power returned to a devolved government, UUP leader Sir Reg
Empey promised to work with other parties to prevent the
development of an administration of self-interest.

And with two ministers in control of high-spending departments,
including himself, Sir Reg said unionism had to demonstrate that
politics was not a sectarian "power-grab".

"The UUP believes that the union offers the most progressive
constitutional, social and economic future for every region of
the United Kingdom - and for all of us in Northern Ireland," the
prospective Employment and Learning Minister said.

"We are delighted therefore that after years of stalemate and
false starts, the people of Northern Ireland now have a
government of their own."

Speaking just a few hours before taking up office, along with MLA
Michael McGimpsey in the health portfolio, Sir Reg said: "The
mission of the UUP, as we rebuild and reform, is to demonstrate
that unionism and politics in general is not about a sectarian

"We intend to work with other parties of the centre to offer an
alternative to the Sinn Fein/DUP axis, an axis built around
carve-up and party political self-interest.

"It will not be in the long term interests of Northern Ireland to
sustain an arrangement of this sort."

The East Belfast MLA said voters in the future will want a choice
based on social and economic issues ? in short "normal politics"
in Northern Ireland.

"In future administrations parties of a like mind can, and I'm
sure will, offer alternative coalitions," he said.

"We will be using our position in the Executive and the Assembly
to put Northern Ireland first. With 55% of the total Stormont
budget in our two departments, we now have a unique opportunity."

c Belfast Telegraph


Deal Architects Are In Agreement On Events

[Published: Tuesday 8, May 2007 - 15:45]

John Hume and David Trimble today said the historic events at
Stormont will finally implement the Agreement they helped create
almost a decade ago.

The former SDLP and UUP leaders, joint winners of the Nobel Peace
Prize in 1998, welcomed the shift in the political landscape.

But Mr Trimble said the DUP "had to change" to achieve power and
Mr Hume voiced disappointment the political journey has taken so

Speaking to the Irish Times Mr Hume said he strongly welcomed the
fact that both the DUP and Sinn Fein were committed to
implementing the Agreement.

And the restoration of power will finally allow politicians to
"get on with the real work of transforming our country, North and
South, for the better".

Mr Trimble said the Belfast Agreement has not changed in its

"The DUP obtained a variation of the procedure for installing the
first and deputy first ministers - so that they would not have to
vote for the election of a Sinn Fein deputy first minister," he
said, adding that it had not changed the character of the office.

Mr Hume (70) said it was a "terrible tragedy" that both the DUP
and the Provisionals helped bring down the Sunningdale Agreement
in the 1970s.

"In doing so, they consigned the entire community in Northern
Ireland to many lost years, countless lost opportunities and,
worst of all, thousands of lost lives," he said.

Mr Trimble said: "Despite the ups and downs in the years since
Good Friday, April 10 1998, I have no doubts or regrets on what
we did that day."

c Belfast Telegraph


Queen And Pope Herald Devolution

The Queen and the Pope have each been separately acknowledging
the return of devolution to Northern Ireland.

Her Majesty thanked US President Bush and his predecessors for
their efforts to help secure peace.

Meanwhile, the British and Irish ambassadors to the Vatican are
invited to an audience with the Pope where he will praise the two

The comments come as NI's new ministers undertake their first
engagements a day after power-sharing was restored.

First and deputy first ministers Ian Paisley and Martin
McGuinness are hosting their first joint Stormont reception,
welcoming ethnic group representatives.

Secretary of State Peter Hain is also expected to make a
statement to MPs later.

The Queen spoke about the political situation in Northern Ireland
during a dinner at the British Ambassador's residence in
Washington at the end of her six-day state visit.

She said: "I would like to take this opportunity, on the day that
has seen the formal transfer of power to the... Northern Ireland
Government, to thank you and your predecessors for your
contribution to bringing peace in Northern Ireland."

Pope Benedict is also expected to congratulate the governments
for their work to help restore devolution.

He has extended a personal invitation to the British Ambassador
to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, and his Irish counterpart
Philip McDonagh.

Both men are from Northern Ireland and have worked on the peace
process in the past.

They will attend a traditional farewell gathering at the Vatican
before the Pope leaves for Sau Paulo in Brazil.

A slimmed-down Northern Ireland Office team is focussing on its
remaining responsibilities, such as security.

The new ministers are getting to grips with their roles, with new
Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy already confirming
investment of more than œ14m in roads around Banbridge.

Among those out on the road are education minister Catriona Ruane
of Sinn Fein, who is touring two schools, and social development
minister Margaret Ritchie of the SDLP, who visits a Belfast
building site.

The first round-table meeting of the new executive is due to take
place on Thursday.

It follows Tuesday's historic ceremony at Stormont where Mr
Paisley and Mr McGuinness took office as first and deputy first

Direct rule by London-based ministers had been in place since
October 2002, when allegations of intelligence gathering within
Stormont led to the suspension of power-sharing institutions. A
subsequent court case collapsed.

An unprecedented meeting in March between Mr Paisley and Sinn
Fein leader Gerry Adams set the scene for Tuesday's ceremony at

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/09 11:13:28 GMT


Peace Deal Praised By US Senator

[Published: Wednesday 9, May 2007 - 11:35]
By Sean O'Driscoll

Presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton has said that the
Northern Ireland peace deal is a model for how the US and the
world should engage with one another.

Senator Clinton (right) made her comments in a lengthy and
carefully-worded statement that never mentioned Ian Paisley,
Martin McGuinness, the DUP or Sinn Fein by name.

She said that while the new Northern Ireland Government is
historic, the healing process will have to continue long into the

She also recalled the many people she and her husband met in
Northern Ireland in the lead up to the Good Friday Agreement.

"Today's events speak to the dedication of so many in Ireland, in
the United Kingdom, and around the world who have prayed, and
worked, and sought this day. I am very proud of the role that my
husband and I were able to play in helping to bring about peace
in Northern Ireland," she said.

While commending the party leaders, she said that the healing
process would have to continue for victims for a long time. She
added: "We know that many people have suffered great losses and
the healing process will continue well into the future, but
today's events remind the world that yes, peace is possible,"
said, adding praise special praise for Prime Minister Blair and
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

c Belfast Telegraph


Another DUP Councillor Resigns Over Power-Sharing Move

09/05/2007 - 09:55:44

Another DUP councillor in the North has resigned in protest at
the party's decision to share power with Sinn Fein.

Willliam Wilkinson, a councillor in Ballymena, has resigned from
the party following yesterday's ceremony to swear in the new
cross-community Executive at Stormont.

He had already resigned the party whip after the DUP agreed to
sit in the Executive with Sinn Fein.

Mr Wilkinson says the DUP has let down supporters who voted to
keep republicans out of power.


Archbishop Hopeful Of A Settlement To The Drumcree Dispute By The

[Published: Wednesday 9, May 2007 - 09:57]
By Alf McCreary

The Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Alan Harper has said
that he is " hopeful" that the Drumcree dispute may be settled
this summer.

Speaking in Kilkenny following his presidential address to the
General Synod he said: "I will not be taking any steps in the
public arena, but this does not mean that I am disengaged from
that situation.

"I have said repeatedly that I am happy to meet anyone who is
engaged in this issue. I have already met some people and I
expect to meet others. If anyone feels that he or she would like
to meet me, I have an open door."

He said that despite the achievements at Stormont the hard work
is only beginning.

He said: "The politicians now have to take full responsibility
for their actions and they have to do what they say they intend
to do, to create a prosperous and equal society.

"The difficulty of their task is illustrated by the length of
engagement that has been needed to get them to this stage."

Archbishop Harper said it was now in the hands of the local

"They must make it work and I believe that they have the wish to
do so, but it doesn't alter my opinion about the difficulties,"
he added.

"They have all come a huge distance but there is still more to

c Belfast Telegraph


Mother Of Disappeared Victim Dies

By Tara Mills
BBC Newsline

The mother of one of the so-called Disappeared has died at the
age of 82.

Vera McVeigh campaigned tirelessly for the return of her son's

Columba McVeigh was 17 when he was kidnapped and murdered by the
IRA in 1975 in their home village of Donaghmore, County Tyrone.

He was one of nine people killed by the IRA and secretly buried.

Mrs McVeigh had been ill for some time and suffered a massive
stroke last week and died in hospital on Wednesday.

Visited the site

In 1999, the IRA said it would try to help locate the bodies of
nine of the Disappeared, including Columba McVeigh. Only four
bodies were ever found.

Extensive searches for Columba McVeigh's body were carried out in
2003 at a bog in Emyvale, County Monaghan.

They started after the IRA said it had given information about
the whereabouts of the body to the Irish government.

Mrs McVeigh visited the site, saying she hoped it would allow her
to lay her son to rest.

Mrs McVeigh is survived by her two sons, Eugene and Oliver, and
daughter Dympna.

Eugene McVeigh told the BBC: "We would love it if there was a
conclusion to this and if we could just bury a body beside her,
because that's what she would have wanted.

"That hasn't happened in her lifetime, which is regrettable, but
if it happened in ours it would give some finality to the rest of

"But we're no different from other people who've been dealt a
personal blow."

Oliver McVeigh added: "The last eight or nine years certainly
took their toll on my mother, but she hung on in hope. She wanted
Columba in the family grave and then she'd be happy to follow

"But I wouldn't be her son, if I didn't keep the campaign going.
It will be more vigorous than ever. I just hope that the people
who refused to come forward to help, including some locals, are
proud of themselves."

Mr McVeigh said the time of her death was ironic given the
historic events at Stormont on Tuesday.

Last year, Mrs McVeigh met DUP leader Ian Paisley, who appealed
to those who knew where her son was buried to come forward with

He said at the time: "Let's hear the truth, identify the body and
let our dear sister and her family bring an end to it all. All
the agony, all the pain, all the tears."

During the meeting, Mrs McVeigh said she hoped his body would be
found: "It would mean the world to me."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/09 11:18:14 GMT


Derry Dissidents 'Not Going Away'

A Derry-based dissident republican pressure group has insisted
that it is not planning to go way as the North enters a new
political era.

The statement was made during an address by Danny McBrearty, of
Ex-POWs and Concerned Republicans Against RUC/PSNI & MI5 at a
wreath laying ceremony on Saturday to mark the 26th anniversary
of the death of Bobby Sands in Long Kesh.

He said that the death of the hunger striker was a "heavy price"
to pay for a government headed by the DUP.

"Today, it seems a heavy price to pay for an internal settlement
headed up by Ian Paisley and controlled by MI5 and the British

"Sinn Fein have chosen to become collaborators with this regime
and willing partners in the implementation of British rule in
Ireland. It is both ironic and tragic that their political power
rose out of the suffering and the sacrifice of Bobby Sands and
his brave comrades."

He told the gathering that the challenge facing republicans in
Ireland is to "unite and rebuild the republican family".

"We should take heart and learn lessons from the hunger strikers,
a combination of IRA and INLA volunteers who fought side by side
and gave up their lives for a common cause.

"Against the backdrop of these momentous deeds, we have former
republican prisoners turned politicians, such as Martina
Anderson, encouraging the Irish People of the occupied Six
Counties to co-operate with the British Intelligence services via
the RUC/PSNI and their Special Branch. Shame on you Mrs Anderson
and your Sinn Fein leadership." He added: "We, gathered here
today, will rise to meet any challenges that might confront us.
We do not plan to go away. From this platform I invite you all to
attend the Republican unity conference on Saturday at 2pm in the
AOH Hall, Foyle Street. At the conference, we hope to develop a
strategy to take Irish republicanism forward in a unified manner.
Your contributions would be most welcome," he said.

Last Updated: 07 May 2007


Obituary: Tributes Pour In For DUP Man Dawson

[Published: Wednesday 9, May 2007 - 11:05]

George Dawson, the DUP Assembly member for East Antrim, has died
at his home after a short illness. He was aged 45.

Mr Dawson had been a businessman and in 1998 became director of
Arena Network, the environmental programme of Business in the

He had served as Imperial Grand Master of the Independent Loyal
Orange Institution since the early 1990s, was a director of the
Evangelical Protestant Society and had been instrumental in the
establishment of a number of credit unions.

First elected in 2003, Mr Dawson had been appointed to act as
vice-chair of the Assembly's Finance and Personnel committee.

In February he participated in a pre-election question and answer
session on the economy organised by the Federation of Small

During the FSB meeting, Mr Dawson warned that any new executive
would be " set up for failure" if it did not secure an economic
package in advance.

He urged the parties to "work together and stick together" so
that a competitive corporation tax rate could be delivered to the

His last public appearance was in March when he took part in a
panel discussion on the election results for the BBC.

A native of Lurgan, Mr Dawson attended Banbridge Academy before
studying history and English at Queen's University. After
graduating he decided to go into industry and worked for textile
company Coats Viyella from 1983 until 1998, working for the
company in Northern Ireland, Merseyside and Morocco.

In 1996, he was appointed general manager of the Saracen clothing
plant in Lurgan which closed in December 1997, another victim of
cheap imports in the textil sector.

Mr Dawson took up his new post with Arena Network in 1998 and
pioneered the annual environmental audit of Northern Ireland's
top 100 companies. As recently as April, he was exhorting local
companies to address the subject of climate change.

Tributes to Mr Dawson were led by the Rev Ian Paisley, the DUP
leader, who said his contribution to the business life of the
province had marked him out as a real ambassador.

John Heaslip, chief executive of Business in the Community NI,
described Mr Dawson as a "passionate, professional and dedicated
colleague" and said he would be sorely missed.

Glyn Roberts of the FSB said Mr Dawson had been "a good friend of
the business community".

Mr Dawson is survived his wife Vi and their two daughters, Emma
and Sarah.

His funeral is due to take place at 2pm tomorrow at Randalstown
Free Presbyterian Church.

c Belfast Telegraph

Almost 470 Nominated For May 24 Election

09/05/2007 - 07:17:37

A total of almost 470 candidates have been nominated to contest
the upcoming election in the 43 constituencies nationwide.

Nominations for the May 24 poll closed yesterday afternoon.

Fianna F il is running the highest number of candidates (106),
followed by Fine Gael (91), Labour (50), the Greens (44), Sinn
Fein (41) and the PDs (30).

The Socialist Party, meanwhile, is contesting four
constituencies, while other candidates will also be standing for
the Workers' Party, the Christian Solidarity Party, the Fathers'
Rights and Responsibilities campaign, the People Before Profit
Alliance and the Immigration Control Platform.

The highest number of candidates are running in Laois-Offaly and
Dublin South Central, where 16 would-be TDs are competing for
five seats.


Viewpoint: Hard Work Follows A Momentous Day

[Published: Wednesday 9, May 2007 - 10:07]

The ceremonials are over and now it's down to business. Without
further delay, the Assembly must prove that it is more than just
a talking shop, for opposing parties, but a new power in the land
for progress.

It has an enormous task to fulfil, after 30 years of violence and
almost 10 years of negotiating a lasting deal. The mistakes and
omissions of the past, which have dogged the peace process, must
be put firmly aside and the new executive ministers will be
expected to combine their talents in the interests of all.

Many of the difficulties experienced in the last Assembly were
attributed to the lack of empathy between the members of the
executive, but the relaxed atmosphere yesterday was greatly
encouraging. There were generous tributes, from both sides, to
the late George Dawson, MLA, and the various appointments were
agreed, in advance, with a minimum of fuss.

This demonstration of professionalism, at the top, shows that the
unlikely pairing of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness may yet
bring about a fundamental transformation in the political scene.
Both will fight their respective corners, but if they do it with
courtesy and respect - and keep their ideological differences to
a minimum _ their relationship could become a model for the
entire community.

Most of all, the MLAs must recognise that they have been elected
not to prove their intransigence, as politicians, but as servants
of people who want a better way of life for their children. They
want better access to jobs, schools and health care, and they
want as many as possible of the barriers that separate
communities broken down. The political divide will remain, so
long as unionism and nationalism determine how votes are cast,
but it should never be a cause for violence, now that all the
Assembly parties are pledged to the principles of consent and the
rule of law.

As the executive ministers read themselves into their new
responsibilities, no one should be in any doubt about the
difficulties they face. Coming from four parties, they have
different manifesto commitments and different views on many
issues, which must be hammered into a shape that wins majority
support in the executive and the Assembly. Decisions must be
taken collectively, and have the consent of unionists and
nationalists, or the weaknesses of enforced power-sharing will
soon become apparent.

Goodwill was falling from the skies at Stormont yesterday, in
commendations from such prime movers as Tony Blair and Bertie
Ahern, but it can only carry the process so far, before harsh
realities intervene. Early decisions must be taken on burning
issues like the 11-plus, school closures, council reform, Irish
language legislation and the role of north-south institutions.
Stormy days lie ahead, but this time the strong men are in

Sky at night guy's a fright

The astronomer Patrick Moore is often seen as a national
treasure. He is viewed as enthusiastic, amusing and erudite; a
wacky great-uncle whose eccentric appearance and gruffness is
tolerated because of his service to the nation.

But the Monocled One reveals another side to his character in an
interview with the Radio Times, culminating in a fusillade of
criticism against women for allegedly ruining the BBC.

One can only imagine the reporter's consternation (and joy at
being handed a decent scoop) as Moore branded female newscasters
"jokey women" and criticised the BBC for hiding away interesting
programmes very late at night.

Doubtless there is no connection whatsoever between his views and
the 2am starting time of The Sky At Night.

"The trouble is that the BBC now is run by women and it shows -
soap operas, cooking, quizzes, kitchen sink plays" he said.

"You wouldn't have had that in the golden days. I used to watch
Doctor Who and Star Trek, but they went PC - making women
commanders, that kind of thing. I stopped watching."

Now, everyone is entitled to their views, and this newspaper is
no friend of excessive political correctness. But come on Mr
Moore, drag yourself into, well, the 20th Century at least.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Together At Last, But Can You See The Join?

[Published: Tuesday 8, May 2007 - 12:38]

Are they joined but not together? Chris Thornton reports on the
First Minister and the Deputy who's not his deputy

Once today's tributes are out of the way, the odd couple of Ian
Paisley and Martin McGuiness will wheel away from each other and
retreat to their offices at opposite ends of Parliament

It's there, with a 100 metres or so of plush corridor and
fluttering staffs of civil servants between them, that the real
business of governing Northern Ireland begins.

In spite of the physical distance, it's not entirely a case of
each going their own way. The cumbersomely titled Office of the
First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) is a joint operation,
and for pretty much anything to happen both men will have to give
their approval. That was often easier said than done in the last

In the short term before they took up office, the DUP and Sinn
Fein signalled an apparent willingness to horse trade in order to
get things done - letting the other side have its way on one
issue in order to get their own way on another. That's pragmatic,
but hardly evidence of the 'battle a day' that both sides

Political fight fans shouldn't give up hope, however. The seeds
for the occasional scrap are already being sown, as in the case
of the second battle of the Boyne.

In blockbuster terms, Boyne II: The Protocol Question won't have
the crowds storming box offices up and down the country, but it
is indicative of the pitfalls inside OFMDFM.

Some time ago, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern invited Ian Paisley, as
First Minister, to join him at the Boyne battle site on Friday.
It's a great photo opportunity, illustrating new North-South
harmony where there was once bloodshed between Catholics and
Protestants. At the time of the invitation, Mr Ahern knew it
would grant acres of TV and newspaper coverage smack in the
middle of his re-election campaign.

Technically he should have invited Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness
together. But the Taoiseach's announcement of the visit made no
mention of Mr McGuinness - whose party happens to be an election

Nor has the Taoiseach's office been able to answer this
newspaper's questions about whether Mr McGuinness has been
invited. OFMDFM is also strangely silent on the Deputy First
Minister's position.

Mr McGuinness may let it pass: he could stop Mr Paisley going as
First Minister at the risk of looking precious, or force his
attendance and awkwardly try to insert himself into photos of Mr
Ahern and Mr Paisley. Even if that happens, photo editors will
weed him out, because the narrative for the day will be about two
kings returning to the Boyne. Nobody wants a deputy first king.

The whole "deputy" thing could be a sensitive area. Seamus Mallon
used to rail against the media for calling him "Trimble's
deputy", when their posts are meant to be equal in spite of the
titles (civil servants tend to talk about "the First Ministers"
rather than distinguishing between them). It made Mr Mallon look
a bit crotchety, but to him that was better than looking second

Mr McGuinness has the additional difficulty of a First Minister
who seems happy to convey the impression that the Deputy First
Minister is second tier. Mr Paisley has already referred to him
as "my deputy", and by Mr McGuinness' own account calls him
"Deputy" in private. It may be a mistaken snub, but the DUP
leader is not beyond such subtle cuts.

Again, Mr McGuinness may be happy to let it pass, but he risks
conveying the impression that he is somehow Mr Paisley's

A key indicator of their future relations could come when they
answer First Ministers' questions in the Assembly. Their
predecessors - Trimble, Mallon, Empey and Durkan - all sat
together in the chamber for questions, alternating whose party
they sat among.

No arrangements have been announced. Few at Stormont can imagine
Mr Paisley shuffling over to sit with the Shinners, but stranger
things have already happened. Three months ago, few could imagine
them together at all.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Your Verdict: Things Can Only Get Better After A 'Wonderful

[Published: Wednesday 9, May 2007 - 09:52]

Emily Moulton gauges reaction in Belfast city centre, while
Brendan McDaid listens to public opinion in Londonderry


As Northern Ireland's new ministers were settling into their new
roles yesterday afternoon, the Belfast Telegraph took to the
streets of the city to ask the public what they thought about the
historic event and asked them about their hopes for the future.

Margaret Burke, who has lived on the Antrim Road for most of her
life, described the restoration of devolution as a "wonderful

"It has been a long time coming," she explained. "I think it's
wonderful. Finally, we have got peace and stability and I hope it
brings benefits for everybody." When asked if she ever thought
this day would come, Mrs Burke quipped: "I always said never say
never. I have always tried to be optimistic. I also do hope it
will last and I am optimistic about that. I don't want us to
return to violence again."

Downpatrick man Gordon Peake, who was reading about the historic
event outside City Hall, said he thought it was amazing and
believed that, this time around the Assembly would last.

"To see those pictures on the front of the Belfast Telegraph... I
think it is quite amazing," he said. "But I think people should
not expect too much from our politicians just yet," he warned. "
They still need to work out a programme of Government."

Arts student Victoria Firth (21) from Ballygowan said she wasn't
really aware of and did not care about the restoration of
devolution, saying it was hard for her to support a Government
which she felt "voted in themselves ".

But she did concede it was a positive step, saying she "hoped it
would work out this time".

Springfield Road grandfather- of-three John Cassidy said he could
not believe this day had come.

"But now that it has I am very pleased," he said. "I hope it
gives our young people a better life. My kids were reared all
through the Troubles and I really hope things will be a lot
different now."

While Queen's University English student Stephen McDonald from
Armagh had not been following all of yesterday's events, he said
he was aware of how historic the moment was and believed it was a
"good thing".

Mary Corrigan from Carnmoney, however, was well aware of its
significance, saying she believed "only good would come of it".

"There was a time where I did not think it was coming but now I
do think it will last. It has to. They have no other choice. I am
very happy about it. Hopefully, it will bring more stability
here, more employment, more prosperity. And more shops for me to
run about in."


ON the streets of Derry's city centre, opinion among those polled
was unanimous: the restoration of power-sharing at Stormont was a
development of historical significance and confirmation that the
violence was over.

Yoga trainee Tracey Loughrey (32) from Glendale said: "This is a
major step and it's about time something has happened.

"I would like to think now everything will only get better."

Housewife Sheree McEleney from the Lone Moor Road said it was
great to see Derry man and fellow Bogside/Brandywell native
Martin McGuinness now at the helm of government.

She said: "It is an historical day today. Whoever thought Sinn
Fein would be sitting in Stormont? All good things come to those
who wait."

Ms McEleney added: "In terms of the future, I think provision for
young people must be a priority. In Derry, there are one or two
discos for young people and that's it. They have nowhere to go
and you see them with their blue bags 'round drinking. It is a
hard life for them and they need something."

Painter and decorator Jeff Kelly (33) from the city centre said:
"For me, in general the only change which is really significant
is the break from the past, going by the risks that have been

"I think now the politicians, if the whole place is to change,
need to start with themselves and put aside their differences.

"There is still going to be some rivalry and they need to be able
to deal with that and lead by example."

Creggan pensioner and housewife Theresa McGuinness from Iniscarin
Road described yesterday's events as "very, very important".

Mrs McGuinness said: "I didn't think I would ever see it and I
thought the things that are happening now would happen when I'm
long gone.

"I'm very glad to see it; we're getting more peace and things
have changed.

"Before, you might go down the town for your messages and (there)
might have bombings."

Rosemount teacher Jim Craig (62), however, said what was
established yesterday should have been done 30 years ago.

"It took so long, so many deaths, so many lives destroyed, before
we got this far.

"As a teacher, I would like to see education prioritised now and
everybody in the Assembly working for the common good of

Omagh housewife Sylvia Matthers (65) described devolution as a
great new dawn for the people of Northern Ireland.

"I think it's marvellous and I never thought it would ever come.
The challenge ahead is that there is plenty of work to do and
they need to concentrate on the youngsters because they are the
future," she said.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Peter Hain: Hard Questions For Paisley And McGuinness

[Published: Wednesday 9, May 2007 - 09:51]

It was a historic day - a day which even the most optimistic
observer of Northern Ireland's bitter and bloody past thought
they would never witness.

As the world looked on, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness took
the pledge of office as Northern Ireland's new First and Deputy
First Ministers and heralded the start of a new democratic

The dawning of this new beginning saw old friends of the peace
process return to Parliament Buildings. There, they saw two men
from very different traditions, sworn enemies, proving that the
events of the past do not have to be a barrier to a better,
shared future.

That shared future started yesterday, when the DUP and Sinn Fein
formally entered a power-sharing executive. They have agreed,
along with Northern Ireland's other locally elected politicians,
to take responsibility for the future, and this new political
reality has finally given the people of Northern Ireland what
they have both voted for and deserved.

I have no doubt that the new Assembly will work and the people
will feel the benefits of a devolved government. Yes, there will
be bumps and hiccups along the way, but that's a fact of life
when in government.

I have now passed responsibility for bread-and-butter issues -
such as education, health, the environment, investment and
agriculture - to locally elected and accountable politicians,
working on behalf of the people who put them into power. Direct
Rule has finally come to an end and I cannot foresee the
circumstances in which it would ever return. Northern Ireland has
moved on and it will not be going back to the dark days of the

Yesterday's restoration of the Assembly not only brought the
curtain down on direct rule, it also marked the completion of
Northern Ireland's amazing journey away from conflict and towards

The historic pictures at Parliament Buildings, of Ian Paisley as
First Minister and Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister
sitting side by side, provided the most visible expression to the
principle on which the peace process has been based: the
acceptance that the future of Northern Ireland can only be
governed successfully by both communities working together.

The great media presence there to record history has gone, and
behind the doors of parliament buildings the real work of
government begins. The new Assembly and Executive will not want
for challenges. When I became Secretary of State two years ago, I
was astonished and dismayed to find that Northern Ireland was,
and still is, heavily dependent on the public sector.

And so while there are record levels of employment, with rising
house prices an indicator of increasing prosperity, there is a
need to rebalance the economy to make it sustainable in the long
term. That means more inward investment, more growth for
indigenous companies and greater encouragement for entrepreneurs.

The deal negotiated with the Chancellor will not only see more
new money going in but, crucially, the Executive can plan ahead
in the certainty that its budget is fixed and, if it moves at
all, it will increase. Nowhere else in the UK has been given that

But there will have to be a lot of smart work to equip Northern
Ireland to face the global challenges from eastern Europe, India
and China. I have often said Northern Ireland can be world class,
and I still believe that, but it won't happen of its own accord
and it won't happen overnight. The new Assembly and Executive
have to make it happen.

Equally, there are fundamental issues around education that need
to be addressed urgently. At the top end, Northern Ireland
schools have an enviable record of high academic achievement. But
there are also far too many young people who leave school with no
qualifications. My own firm conviction is that having a system of
academic selection that brands the majority of children aged 10
or 11 as failures is morally, politically and educationally
indefensible. The new Executive and Assembly will have to decide
on the future shape of education, so that all children can have
the opportunity to develop their potential.

And so it will be across the range of issues on the environment,
health and agriculture, that up until yesterday I and my
ministerial team had to deal with.

I have been a passionate advocate of local democracy through
devolution. It has been a privilege to have been able to play a
part in bringing it to Northern Ireland.

Never has a minister so eagerly anticipated losing power, and
never was it handed over with a more glad heart.

The author is Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Wales

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Brian Rowan: Two Adversaries Have Travelled A Long Way, And Now A
Journey Begins For All Of Us

[Published: Wednesday 9, May 2007 - 09:45]

It was a day of many words, but a day when the pictures spoke so
much louder - and they spoke to us of peace. On their journey to
yesterday, two men have travelled a great distance, one through
war and the army council, the other through no and never, and
they've come to the same place.

And in that place, on those seats in that Stormont Hall, their
shoulders touched.

Martin McGuinness fought and ended the IRA's war. And Ian Paisley
has come to the place of power-sharing.

And, in their hands, those two men now hold our political future.
This is the new era, the new beginning, and it can work.

It can work because they want it to and because the people want
it to. This is not about forgetting the past. It is about making
the future, and it is being made out of change.

Inside the army council - inside the IRA - Martin McGuinness and
Gerry Adams delivered ceasefires, decommissioning and support for
policing. They did it their way, and it took time.

It took time to move an army of war into politics and towards
peace and it was done without significant damage to the
republican movement. That was important, because it means there
is no threat to this new day.

The war is over and the dissidents know it. They haven't got the
guns or the bombs to threaten the peace, but, even more
importantly, they haven't got the support. Adams and McGuinness
and the IRA and Sinn Fein leaderships have outmanoeuvred them in
every twist and turn.

But there is more to it than that. The dissidents can't move
without the police knowing. Their campaign, if it can be called
that, is the playing out of a phoney war, which they know they
cannot win. They have been defeated in the debates within
republicanism - the debates that Adams and McGuinness won on
their way to yesterday and that new day.

In the Stormont hall, the makers of the peace were brought
together, but some were missing. Where was Brendan Duddy? More
than three decades ago, when war was war and peace was nowhere to
be found, he was trying to get the British and the IRA into a
dialogue. He may not have been at Stormont yesterday, but his has
been a significant contribution to what we now have.

"I'm a very happy man," he told me. "In terms of the Stormont
situation, this may not be the last chapter in this book. So
what? The war's over, the killing's over, and if normal politics
makes for impossible moments in the future, the people have
chosen the road."

Some of those like Brendan Duddy, who have helped in the making
of this peace remain unknown because, for years, they chose not
to take the stage. Their contributions, however, have to be

The late David Ervine would have loved to have been there
yesterday - to see his prediction realised. He knew that Paisley
and the 'Provos' would come to make the deal. However, his widow,
Jeanette, was at Stormont, and that was important.

So, what are the next steps? Soon, the Army will be gone. We'll
see Sinn Fein on the Policing Board. General de Chastelain still
has work to do with the loyalists, and they still have work to do
to be part of this peace. Then, there is the question of the
past, and how it is settled.

But, for now, let's accept what we have. The war is over. And
that was heard in every word and seen in every picture in those
remarkable moments at Stormont yesterday.

The man of the army council and that other man of no and never
are telling us that things can be different.

They already are.

c Belfast Telegraph


Live Budgie Found During Cell Sweep At Portlaoise Prison

09/05/2007 - 08:04:32

A live budgie has reportedly been recovered by prison officers
during a massive search for smuggled goods in maximum-security
Portlaoise Prison.

Reports this morning say inmates were locked up in their cells
yesterday while a huge sweep was carried out in two particular
areas of the jail.

The search targeted the landing that houses gangland figures from
Dublin and Limerick, as well as dissident republicans.

Eight mobile phones were found, as were three SIM cards, 150
tablets (including ecstasy), a quantity of powdered drugs, a
large amount of home-made alcohol and 30 syringes.

This morning's reports say the budgie is believed to have been
smuggled into the prison by a female visitor who concealed the
bird internally in her body.


Roma Weds For Third Time

Derry actress Roma Downey has married American television
producer Mark Burnett in a quiet ceremony at the couple's home in

The ceremony, which took place last Monday, was Roma's third
wedding. The 47 year-old was married to actor Leland Orser from
1987 to 1989 and then David Anspaugh from 1995 to 1998.

Her daughter Reilly (10) was her bridesmaid at the wedding. Other
guests included family and friends and Roma's long time friend
and co-star from 'Touched by an Angel,' Della Reese who is an
ordained minister.

Sadly Roma's parents Paddy and Maureen from Derry are both
deceased. Maureen passed away after suffering a heart attack when
Roma was just 10. Paddy died in 1985.

For the ceremony Roma arranged for a plane to fly over trailing a
banner which read: "and they lived happily ever after".

The couple's publicist, Jim Dowd described the wedding as
"beautiful, simple, elegant and a true family affair."

Roma is the youngest of six children. Her father Paddy had four
children, John, Patrick Jr., Ann, and Jacinta. When his first
wife died he married Roma's mother, Maureen, and they had two
children, Lawrence (who is four years older then Roma) and Roma.

Roma's big break came in 1991 when she landed the starring role
in the TV mini-series 'A Woman Named Jackie'.

In 1994, she received the script for the pilot of 'Touched by an
Angel' which ran until 1993.

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