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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
May 21, 2007
Roisin McAliskey Bailed Over Extradition
Roisin McAliskey appeared in court in Belfast
News about Ireland & the Irish
BB 05/21/07 Roisin McAliskey Bailed Over Extradition
SF 05/21/07 Call On German Authorities To Drop Extradition Demand
GU 05/21/07 Real IRA Ready To Renounce Violence
GU 05/21/07 Banker's Inquest To Throw Spotlight On US/UK Treaty
BT 05/21/07 Hopes Fade For Drumcree Solution
BB 05/21/07 Minister Defending Language Memo
BG 05/21/07 How Peace Arrived In Northern Ireland
BT 05/21/07 Loyalist Alienation From Police Must Be Arrested
BT 05/21/07 Talks Vital To Peace Process: McDonald
BT 05/21/07 Brian Rowan: Old Foes Get Down To Business
BT 05/21/07 Drumcree 'Dance' That Spawned A Monster
BT 05/21/07 Opin: Drumcree: Can The Issue Ever Be Resolved?
BT 05/21/07 Opin: Orange Order Evolving And Surviving
McAliskey Bailed Over Extradition
The daughter of a former MP has been released on bail pending an
extradition hearing over an IRA bomb attack on a British army
base in Germany.
Roisin McAliskey, 35, was detained in Coalisland, County Tyrone,
on a European arrest warrant.
German authorities want to charge her over an IRA mortar bomb
attack on an Army barracks at Osnabruck in 1996.
Ms McAliskey, the daughter of former Mid-Ulster MP Bernadette
McAliskey, faced a similar action in 1998.
On Monday, Belfast Recorders Court was told that the German
authorities issued a warrant for her arrest in October last year.
Ms McAliskey will appear in court again next month to face an
extradition hearing and was released on bail of œ2,500.
In 1998, the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, decided at that
time that she was too ill to be extradited.
She was pregnant at the time and was held in a special unit in
At the time, the German attorney general said Ms McAliskey was
still regarded as a suspect and called on the British government
to take over the prosecution.
But two years later, the Crown Prosecution Service said there was
not enough evidence for her to face trial in the United Kingdom.
Police officers, including detectives from the Extradition and
International Mutual Assistance Unit, were involved in the
operation to arrest her on Monday.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/21 14:29:15 GMT
c BBC MMVII
Call On German Authorities To Drop Extradition Demand
Published: 21 May, 2007
Sinn Fein Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness has today called on the
German Authorities to drop their extradition proceedings against
Tyrone woman Roisin McAliskey. Mr McGuinness's remarks came after
her arrest early this morning after a demand from German
Mr McGuinness said:
"Over ten years ago these matters had a more than adequate
hearing in a succession of British Courts. The arrest this
morning of Roisin on the foot of an extradition request from
German Prosecutors will be seen by many as petty and vindictive.
"Roisin McAliskey is the mother of two young children and she has
lived openly in her home town in the ten years since her release
from prison in England the last time that German authorities
attempted to have her extradited. She has always maintained her
"The German authorities should take note of the tremendous
progress we have achieved in Ireland in the course of recent
years and immediately drop the demand for Roisin's extradition
and allow her to return home immediately to her young family.
"Sinn Fein have already spoken to the British government on this
matter this morning and we would expect the Irish government to
back calls for Rosin's immediate release." ENDS
Real IRA Ready To Renounce Violence
Dissidents unite to end arms struggle
Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday May 20, 2007
The real IRA, the Republican dissident group that was responsible
for the Omagh bombing, will this week say that it is to renounce
violence having agreed with the Irish National Liberation Army
and the Continuity IRA on a peaceful Northern Ireland strategy.
It has been forced to accept that there is a mass of opposition
to terrorism even among working-class republicans.
One dissident republican source told The Observer yesterday:
'What use is planting a few firebombs in furniture stores and
'While the violence goes on the Provos can paint those opposed to
their strategy as mad bombers and killers. There must be an
alternative republican strategy to Sinn Fein and the sell-out at
Stormont, but it must be political and peaceful.'
Dissident organisations have been under severe pressure ever
since the Omagh bomb nine years ago. Twenty-nine people and two
unborn babies died when a Real IRA bomb ripped apart the centre
of the Co Tyrone market town in August 1998. To date no one has
yet been jailed in relation to the massacre.
The Real IRA stood condemned across the world for what was the
single biggest atrocity of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Its
leader Michael McKevitt , the Provisional IRA's former 'quarter
master general' was later arrested and jailed for directing
The organisation was forced to declare a ceasefire and although
it has since tried to renew its armed campaign RIRA has been hit
by mass arrests, infiltration and the interception of arms
A key measurement of the success of the Irish security forces
against it is that there are now more dissident republicans in
the Republic's prisons than there were Provos back when the IRA
declared a ceasefire in 1994.
The latest meeting of dissidents at the Ancient Order of
Hibernians' hall in Derry city centre brought together ex-
prisoners and republicans opposed to Sinn Fein sitting in what
they see as a 'partitionist' government at Stormont.
Ex-IRA prisoner Danny McBrearty organised the conference that was
attended by 200 delegates. He confirmed that the gathering
formulated a way for an alternative republican strategy.
A republican veteran who attended said recent sporadic attacks in
Newry and Belfast were only 'having a nuisance value' and were in
danger of putting nationalist people out of work. 'It's clear
from our own people that the appetite for a war has long gone.
CIRA and RIRA are poorly armed despite shopping expeditions to
the former Eastern bloc.
'The groups have been reduced to launching fire bomb attacks on
commercial targets which aren't going to win us any favours.' An
INLA source also confirmed this weekend that the three terror
groups were united in acknowledging that there was no support for
armed struggle. 'It's time we listened to the people and gave
them a real political alternative,' the source said.
Banker's Inquest To Throw Spotlight On Controversial US
Series of cases highlight imbalance in terms
NatWest Three lawyer says fair trial is impossible
Monday May 21, 2007
The inquest this week into the death of a NatWest banker found
hanged near his home in Woodford Green, north-east London, is
likely to refocus attention on the issue of extradition of
British citizens to the United States. The dead man was a
colleague of the so-called NatWest Three, who were
controversially extradited to the US last year to stand trial on
This week's inquest at Walthamstow coroner's court could examine
whether a note left by Neil Coulbeck refers to an interview he
had with the FBI about the case. Mark Spragg, lawyer for David
Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby, who are charged with
wire fraud in connection with the collapse of Enron in the US,
said that the note could be relevant to his clients' case. It is
up to the coroner and Mr Coulbeck's family whether the note is
The NatWest Three were extradited last summer but will not stand
trial until October. Mr Spragg said that the bankers' chances of
a fair trial had been greatly reduced by the extradition.
"Everything that we warned might happen has come true," he said.
"They are not going to get a fair trial and that is the long and
short of it."
Mr Spragg said that the men were unable to subpoena witnesses who
were resident in Britain and the Texas judge handling their case
had declined their requests to order disclosure of what could be
vital defence information, something that would have been simple
to arrange if the trial had been taking place in the UK. He added
that, rather than having a fair trial, they would have to settle
for "pot luck".
The high court ruled on Friday that a man wanted for a double
murder in Missouri in 1997 could be extradited even although he
may never be released from prison. Lawyers for Ralston Wellington
argued that, if he was convicted, his lack of eligibility for
parole would violate his right under the European convention on
human rights not to be subjected to "inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment".
Lord Justice Laws said that he had reached, "without enthusiasm",
the view that a life sentence without eligibility for parole was
not a human rights breach. The case is now likely to go the House
Gary McKinnon, who is accused of hacking into US defence and
space web-sites from a house in north London, is continuing his
fight against extradition. His lawyers said yesterday that they
still did not know if the House of Lords would hear their case.
Mr McKinnon has argued that he should face trial in the UK, where
the alleged offences were committed.
The disparate cases highlight a growing disquiet in legal circles
over the operation of the 2003 UK-US extradition treaty, which
removed the requirement on the US to provide prima facie evidence
when requesting the extradition of people from the UK but
maintained a "probable cause" requirement on the UK when seeking
to extradite from the US.
The civil rights watchdog Statewatch, which has monitored the
issue, said that the treaty had removed key protections, as was
now becoming clear.
"No other EU countries would accept this, either politically or
constitutionally," said Ben Hayes of Statewatch. "Yet the UK
government not only acquiesced but did so taking advantage of
arcane legislative powers to see the treaty signed and
implemented without any parliamentary debate or scrutiny."
The impetus to change the system came in the wake of September 11
with the argument that it was essential that alleged terrorists
should be speedily extradited. In fact, of the 60 US extradition
requests from 2004 onwards, only five related to terrorism.
Forty-six of the 60 requests have so far resulted in "surrenders"
to the US.
The new system has caused particular concern in the business
community, which has led to appeals to the government to re-
examine the treaty.
"British citizens can be extradited to the US without prima facie
evidence of an offence," Richard Lambert, director general of the
Confederation of British Industry, said in January. "The
government has not addressed the concerns of business that this
is unfair treatment."
Hopes Fade For Drumcree Solution
[Published: Monday 21, May 2007 - 08:52]
By Chris Thornton and Noel McAdam
Prospects for resolving the Drumcree dispute in the near future
faded today as the Parades Commission came under attack from both
the local Orange lodge and nationalist residents.
In the run-up to the 200th anniversary of the parade, Portadown
Orange has signalled it would agree to their return march on
Somme Sunday, July 1 - a week earlier than their once-traditional
But the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition has accused the
Commission of leaking information to the media while Orange
leaders attacked the body for failing to kick-start mediation
The Commission, however, insisted, "we don't leak", and argued
that, while progress is "slow", it is taking place.
With just seven weeks before this year's Drumcree Sunday on July
7, a settlement which has now been prevented for 10 years had
been viewed by some as the first major test of the new political
era invoked by power-sharing between the DUP and Sinn Fein.
The two bitterly opposed sides in Portadown appear to have both
reversed their positions - but the result is the same stand-off.
After years of refusing to talk to the Coalition, Portadown No. 1
Lodge has agreed to enter mediation on the basis proposed by the
But the Coalition, which had long castigated the Lodge for
failing to agree to direct talks, now insists: "There is no
Breaking his silence since his resignation from Sinn Fein earlier
this year, Coalition spokesman, Breandan MacCionnaith, said
Drumcree was a "dying issue".
And denying senior Sinn Fein figures have been in Portadown in
recent weeks, he insisted his resignation had "absolutely
nothing" to do with the parades issue.
Mr MacCionnaith also accused someone within the Commission of
unhelpful leaking because reports had contained "something that
nobody else could have known".
But a Commission spokesman said: "We don't leak. We don't talk
about leaks" and argued the reports had contained publicly-
Portadown lodge spokesman David Jones said: "It appears to be the
case the residents are happy with the status quo, that there is
no parade. The Commission is part of the problem in giving
residents that comfort zone so they don't feel they need to do
Mr Jones said there had been no approaches about the possibility
of a July 1 parade, "but I would be inclined to think that if
there was an approach it would probably be looked on favourably".
The Commission said it welcomed the lodge's confirmation "that it
is willing and ready to enter into genuine and meaningful direct
dialogue based on (our) preferred model of mediation".
"(We are) working to put mutually acceptable and effective
structures in place, and while progress may be slow, real
progress is being made," it said.
c Belfast Telegraph
Minister Defending Language Memo
Development minister Conor Murphy has defended a memo asking his
civil service staff to use language he is comfortable with.
He was responding a News Letter story that staff should refer to
Northern Ireland as "here" or "the North" and the Republic as
Mr Murphy said he had given guidance about what was said in his
"Every minister... (is) asked for guidance in relation to what
language they are comfortable with," he said.
"I gave my guidance, I didn't issue any directive to staff about
what terminology they have to use in relation to their own work
it was simply guidance as to what I'm comfortable with when I'm
making speeches or issuing statements in my name."
He said that the guidance stands.
The memo, which also said Londonderry should be referred to as
Derry, was leaked to the Belfast newspaper.
Commenting in the paper on the memo, DUP MP Gregory Campbell said
Mr Murphy appeared to be trying to deny the existence of the
country in which he holds office.
"It is absurd to talk of the country to the south and west as
'all Ireland', even though they don't refer to their own country
in such terms," he said.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/21 11:17:04 GMT
c BBC MMVII
How Peace Arrived In Northern Ireland
By James Carroll May 21, 2007
"HAVE THE PATIENCE to work for a just and lasting peace," the
American president said. "Reach for it and the United States will
reach with you." Bill Clinton made that promise to Protestant and
Catholic Irish people gathered in Derry's Guildhall Square late
in 1995. Because the Irish found just that patience, their work
for peace was rewarded two weeks ago when Protestant and Catholic
parties jointly took responsibility for governing Northern
Ireland. Most astoundingly, the power sharing is between two men
who have spent their lives as sworn enemies. The firebrand
Unionist bigot Ian Paisley is now first minister, and first
deputy is former Irish Republican Army leader Martin McGuinness.
That they jointly presided over the historic ceremonies at
Stormont in Belfast is perhaps the most unpredicted turn in the
ever-unpredictable Irish story.
The road to this peace has been twisted and long, stretching back
through centuries of Irish resentment of British colonizers,
Europe's longest-lasting wars of the Reformation, and deep
hatreds bred of 20th-century violence that flared in 1916 and
again in 1969. When 14 unarmed Irish Catholics were massacred in
Derry by British soldiers in 1972, and when the soldiers were
then exonerated by London, the contemporary conflagration was
ignited. It was then that IRA recruitment took off in Ireland,
IRA fund-raising took off in America (Noraid), and people on both
sides began to treat the conflict as intractable. But it was not.
How was peace achieved in Northern Ireland? Among the most
important elements were these:
Irish self-criticism. The hyper-nationalism of Catholics began to
be criticized even by Catholics, including the writer Conor
Cruise O'Brien, who identified the poisonous mix of redemptive
suffering, ready violence, and the myths of 1916 as "the green
fog." Garret Fitzgerald (the Republic of Ireland prime minister
from 1982-1987) renounced the sacred Catholic ideal of a " free
and united Ireland" with the simple recognition that Northern
Ireland should never be forced into the republic against the will
of its majority. The Catholic Northern Ireland leader John Hume
was an unrelenting critic of Catholic violence.
A broader context. The narrow sectarian strife that wracked
villages and urban neighborhoods changed when the Northern Irish
world grew bigger, first through the coming of the European Union
( Hume was elected to the European parliament in 1979); then when
London and Dublin began to play constructive roles (the Anglo-
Irish Agreement in 1985); and when Irish-Americans replaced
support for the IRA with support for peace (Tip O'Neill and Ted
Kennedy established the Congressional Friends of Ireland in
An involved US president. In 1994, Bill Clinton granted a visa to
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, despite opposition from London and
the State Department. Adams began turning the IRA itself away
from violence. The high point of Clinton's 1995 visit to Northern
Ireland was the day he began and ended with private meetings,
first with Adams, then with Paisley. Each man felt understood by
Clinton. At the White House, across subsequent years, Clinton
transformed St. Patrick's Day from a celebration of green beer to
a political time-out, the only place on earth where the ancient
enemies would mingle freely. Clinton was key to the Good Friday
Agreement of 1998.
Improved economics. When the economy of the Republic of Ireland
took off in the 1990s, the entire island benefited. Northern
Ireland went from being an economic backwater to a center of
development, with improvements in employment levels and growth
that surpassed the rest of the United Kingdom. Joblessness among
young men, Catholic and Protestant both, declined dramatically.
Today's Belfast is rife with construction cranes and property
values are soaring. Investment has been slower in coming to the
northwest, centered on Derry, but there, too, hope for a better
life is replacing the economic despair that fueled the Troubles.
Peace is realism. The dream of peace, having transformed Europe
and ended the Cold War nonviolently, has taken hold in Ireland.
Some might say "even" in Ireland. Religious and class warfare had
imprisoned the imaginations of both communities, but now the
joined future is unfettered. The prospect of a pope-hating
Ulsterman in partnership with a "hard man" of the IRA was beyond
conceiving not long ago, yet it has come to pass. The Irish
themselves have done this, but they could not have done it alone.
The world is a different place, and, though one lately thinks of
social and political change as mostly for the worse, Ireland
shows the reverse to be true. A great, historic current is
running toward peace. If only certain others would take note.
James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.
Loyalist Alienation From Police Must Be Arrested
[Published: Monday 21, May 2007 - 11:15]
As Republicans make dramatic strides towards accepting policing,
Sir Hugh Orde has revealed that not one PSNI officer has an
address on the Shankill. Brian Rowan reports on why Loyalists
feel alienated from the police
Dawn Purvis says we're looking at "an increasingly marginalised
community within an already disadvantaged community -
particularly young males".
I'd called her because of something the Chief Constable Sir Hugh
Orde had said in a recent conversation - that there isn't a
police officer in the service with a Shankill Road address.
With all of the focus on Republican participation in policing,
this other issue has been below the radar.
In that high place of politics it hasn't really mattered - and
yet on the ground it does.
"My guess is it's a kick-on effect of the lack of educational
achievement in the Protestant working class community," the
Progressive Unionist Party leader said.
Ms Purvis spent a year on the Policing Board.
"I think the first step is building relationships - showing
working class communities the benefits of policing," she said.
There's talk now of outreach, more research, of drilling deeper
into application and recruitment statistics to see beyond the
trends and patterns of Catholic-Protestant, male-female and
Policing with the community is Ms Purvis' big theme. She believes
this is how you achieve better relationships, safer communities
and less crime.
And she argues: "In recent years the relationship between the
Protestant working class and the police has deteriorated."
The fallout from the controversial Whiterock Orange march in 2005
has been a contributing factor.
It is a problem that needs fixed.
In the working class communities you have the greatest number of
victims and most crime.
So, it's not just a problem that needs attention, but demands it.
There isn't a magic wand. It will take time.
The loyalist William Smith, who lives and works in the Shankill,
believes some way has to be found to change things.
"There's no open door for young Protestant working class kids.
They should have a cadre - a number of jobs per year - where you
serve an apprenticeship," he said.
He's talking about bypassing the entrance exams - opening a door
for those who have under-achieved at school.
"When they are in the police service, they can be educated," he
says. "Go in on a probationary basis to learn."
Mr Smith wants new thinking to help fix an old problem, which he
says was identified as far back as the Patten consultation - the
consultation that led to sweeping reforms within the police here.
And yet in all of those reforms - that changed so much -
something was very clearly missed.
"For a police service to be totally representative of a community
it needs to be creative and imaginative in recruitment processes.
It needs to have the confidence of the whole community in order
to get policing right," said Ms Purvis.
The police know that not only do they need to maintain the
relationships they have with the loyalist community - they need
to build on them.
But how that is achieved is a question of many parts that doesn't
yet have all the answers.
It's back to the point that there is no magic wand - no quick
"The current recruitment process is underpinned by legislation,"
a PSNI spokeswoman told the Telegraph. "However, police at a
senior level would always be conscious of the need to ensure that
we are getting recruits from all sections of the community."
Republicans - in the recent decisions of Sinn Fein - have opened
up a path into policing for those in that community who want to
It is a highly significant development, which will add to the new
And now we're hearing loyalist voices beginning to talk and think
their way along that same path.
Can the obstacles be cleared - is there a route from the Shankill
and from other Protestant working class communities into the
The next challenge is to find one.
c Belfast Telegraph
Talks Vital To Peace Process: McDonald
[Published: Monday 21, May 2007 - 08:39]
By Brian Rowan
Senior UDA figure Jackie McDonald has said that talks between
loyalists and republicans is where the peace process "has to go".
He was speaking to the Belfast Telegraph as efforts are being
made in the background to bring senior republicans and loyalists
A suggestion that the two sides should meet at the peace school
at Messines in Belgium has been rejected in favour of trying to
develop a dialogue locally. Last week, McDonald was pictured in
Messines with Belfast republican Sean Murray at a conference.
On the possibility of talks between senior republicans and
loyalists, McDonald said, "That's where it has to go."
"Anything they (the IRA) did, we tried to equal. The difference
between us and them was Semtex.
"Now, all of a sudden, the IRA never did anything," the senior
He said that, while the UDA continued to be "demonised", the IRA
had been allowed to "transform itself into this beautiful
butterfly called Sinn Fein".
"There were renegades, and rebels and criminals who abused the
organisation (the UDA) and the community at large," he said, "but
we've got rid of them."
"There are genuine people there trying to move in the right
direction, but there are politicians and people who are still
trying to demonise everyone in the organisation," he continued.
McDonald says there are still loyalists "who don't believe the
war is over".
On the threat posed by republican dissidents he said: "We're
still not away from the situation where one bomb or one bullet
can change things.
"They (the dissidents) are still seen as a threat. It's not all
singing and dancing yet."
McDonald supports the conflict transformation initiative being
developed within loyalist communities and sees worth in talks
with senior republicans.
He told the Telegraph: "There are people sticking their necks out
to try to make this work."
c Belfast Telegraph
Brian Rowan: Old Foes Get Down To Business
[Published: Monday 21, May 2007 - 08:37]
Below the highest level of politics here, it might just be the
most significant dialogue that is beginning to happen.
The talking is between republicans and loyalists; between people
with " authority" and "influence" in their respective
And the intention is to go beyond anything that has been tried at
ground level up to this point.
It is about trying to make peace in places where the two
communities live cheek by jowl, and it is being tried in Belfast
If it works you may well see the same experiments elsewhere. So,
there is much more to this than the photograph that was published
last week of a conversation between the senior republican Sean
Murray and the most prominent of loyalists, Jackie McDonald.
McDonald told me everything now is about conflict transformation,
and that " there is no position outside the peace process".
Sean Murray says when he looks at the loyalist working class
community it is "a mirror reflection of what happens in our own
What people are trying to develop is something that has grown out
of contacts between ex-prisoners, and it is being taken to
"There's a qualitative difference with this," Sean Murray told
me. "This is a much more structured process."
"It hasn't been at this level before," Jackie McDonald said.
"There can't be half a process. You can't be half in and half
out. It can't work unless it all works."
But I understand the main loyalist paramilitary organisations
support what's happening, and, on the other side, some of those
involved have been identified with some of the most senior
positions in republicanism.
Their influence is still needed on the ground.
"The war's over," was the matter-of-fact statement of another
senior loyalist, and "all that demanding is premature", he
He was talking about loyalist decommissioning and calls for the
IRA Army Council to be stood down.
These are things that may come to be dealt with later, the
loyalist source suggested, but not yet.
That is not to say that there is no nervousness about all of
this. There is. It is to be expected.
But this political era of Paisley and McGuinness is opening up
other possibilities. Now, we are beginning to hear of this new
dialogue on the ground.
It's about making peace out of war.
And it's about the people - on both sides - who can make a
Behind the photograph, there is much more going on.
c Belfast Telegraph
Drumcree 'Dance' That Spawned A Monster
[Published: Monday 21, May 2007 - 10:15]
Extracts from a revealing new book on the Orange Order
Television pictures of David Trimble and Ian Paisley walking
triumphantly hand-in-hand long the bottom of the Garvaghy Road in
1995 after a deal had been agreed to allow Orangemen along the
route is widely held to have hardened residents' opposition to
subsequent parades. But was it a 'victory jig?'
Lord Trimble recalls that he and the local Orangemen had great
difficulty trying to negotiate with RUC commanders during the
first year of the protest.
"At the start, these officers simply wouldn't talk. They would
meet us and just say: 'This is it, go home.' It was really Ronnie
Flanagan's intervention at the last minute that resolved the
Assistant Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan was heavily involved in
the mediation process that got under way as violence erupted at
the police lines at Drumcree and elsewhere in Northern Ireland.
The Lower Ormeau Road in Belfast was a growing concern to
security chiefs as nationalist residents there objected to an
Orange parade passing through the area to Belfast city centre.
The tension on the Ormeau was heightened by the Orange threat of
diverting the entire Belfast Twelfth parade to the Ormeau area in
support of the local Ballynafeigh lodges.
With Drumcree and other protests elsewhere in the province to
contend with, the prospect of thousands of Orangemen, bandsmen
and their supporters descending on the Ormeau Road would have
stretched the security forces to breaking point.
At Drumcree, meanwhile, the Portadown Orangemen refused to engage
face-to-face with what they saw as a Sinn Fein-inspired
However, negotiations involving their political representatives,
the RUC, the residents' group and the Mediation Network
eventually led to a 'deal'.
On the morning of July 11, 46 hours behind schedule, the
Portadown District Orange Lodge paraded in silence down the
Garvaghy Road. Nationalists who'd staged a sit-down protest
allowed themselves to be lifted off the road by police and they
stood by the roadside with their backs turned as the Orangemen
marched past. The precise nature of the deal that facilitated
this is hotly disputed by both sides to the present day.
Residents' spokesman Breandan MacCionnaith gives his version of
events: "An agreement was reached which we believed would mean a
parade would go down the Garvaghy Road that day, on the condition
that all future parades would be with the consent of the people
living in the area. That was given to me by Ronnie Flanagan of
the RUC in the presence of the Mediation Network on the Garvaghy
" The march went ahead with only a handful of police on the road.
Without an agreement there would have been 2,000 cops on the road
to get it down. Our people stood aside as the Orangemen marched
by. Then as soon as the parade reached the bottom of the Garvaghy
Road you had David Trimble stating that there had been no
agreement and that the Orangemen had come down with their flags
flying as they intended to do in the future. The District Master
Harold Gracey also denied that there had been any agreement
reached with the nationalist residents."
From a nationalist perspective, worse was to come. When the
Orangemen reached Carleton Street Orange Hall, David Trimble and
Ian Paisley linked hands and with arms held aloft they paraded
'triumphantly' through the tumultuous crowd of cheering
Breandan MacCionnaith and his supporters on the Garvaghy Road
watched the television news pictures in dismay. "It was a red
flag to a bull," says MacCionnaith. "But at the same time we
thought they may have been showboating and at the end of the day
what we had to do over the next 12 months was to ensure that the
agreement which we and the Mediation Network believed had been
reached, was abided by.
"We were told that people from the Orange side were aware of the
agreement and that it was deliverable."
David Trimble denies that what became known as his 'victory jig'
with Ian Paisley was done with the intention of goading the
nationalist community in Portadown.
"No, that was not planned in any way," he says. "The parade
reached Carleton Street, the National Anthem was played and then
the Orangemen turned and faced each other on either side of the
road. Spontaneous applause broke out for the District Master
Harold Gracey and he was encouraged to walk down between the
ranks. Then someone called for me and someone called for Paisley.
" As I started to move I saw Paisley coming forward behind me.
Now this was my constituency, I was the Member of Parliament for
the area, he was not. I wasn't having that man walking down
Carleton Street ahead of me and I could see that was about to
happen. So I grabbed his hand to keep him back so that he
wouldn't get past me and he couldn't refuse to take it.
" The TV cameras were there and it was portrayed in a certain way
and of course the 'jig' never happened. That jig was as a result
of some bloody television man re-cutting and speeding up the
footage and I thought it was wholly improper."
Nevertheless, the sight and sound of Trimble and Paisley walking
through the cheering ranks of Portadown District Orange Lodge was
portrayed as triumphalist and it may have scuppered for years any
hope of sorting out the Drumcree problem.
"I have got an awful lot of stick over it," concedes David
Trimble, "and I won't quarrel with that observation. I think it
was quite possibly how it was seen at the time. Certainly the way
it was portrayed in the media and particularly the way that idiot
in television turned it into a jig, I think some people think it
actually was a jig. It certainly had a negative effect."
The Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition believed it was misled by
Assistant Chief Constable Flanagan over an assurance it says
given by him that there would be no future Orange parades down
the road without the residents' consent. The seeds of discontent
were effectively sown for another stand-off the following year.
How UUP and Order divorced
Many observers believe the Orange Order helped David Trimble
become leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. What is more certain
is that the Order helped oust him from the post.
When David Trimble, an Orangeman since the early 1960s, swept
into the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party, he did so off
the back of the first Drumcree stand-off. The real influence was
that the overwhelming majority of the adult males active within
the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) were Orangemen. The Orange
delegates in the UUP were party stalwarts up until the time when
the Order started to become politicised on pro- and anti-Good
Friday Agreement lines.
Until the 1990s, the Order's leadership was dominated by Ulster
Unionists like Martin Smyth and Jim Molyneaux. There was also an
unspoken assumption that the Order would position itself behind
responsible leadership, politically.
David Trimble denies that the Orange Order was running the Ulster
Unionist Party; nevertheless, he was the leader who pressed ahead
with moves to break the historic link between his party and the
"When you say 'to break the link', you put it in very crude
terms," he says. "I was never looking to break the link. What I
wanted was to remodel the relationship to make it more
appropriate for the situation we are in today.
" I wanted to do this because first of all there is now a
multiplicity of unionist parties as opposed to a single party
having a relationship with an organisation that shared the same
broad objectives, so it was no longer appropriate."
Trimble says that his real objective was the reform of the
internal structure of the party to make it "clean and
He believed that the Ulster Unionist Council should be composed
solely of delegates from UUP branches as Orange delegates "were a
problem for us in terms of the perception and image of the party
and a problem too in terms of trying to broaden the base and the
appeal of the party".
Part of Trimble's aim was to attempt to persuade Catholics to
vote for the UUP, but he was also seeking to attract pro-union
people who were secular in their outlook or who felt embarrassed
by the religious associations in political parties in Northern
Ireland and preferred to vote for a party that did not appear to
be linked to any denomination.
As David Trimble tried to reposition his party amongst the
electorate, the removal of the Orange link got caught up in the
controversy over the Good Friday Agreement and sharing power with
He recalls that after 1998, the leadership of the Orange Order
found itself " in a slightly ambiguous position" and within
months moved towards an anti-Agreement stance. What happened next
was that "gradually over the next couple of years the leadership
of the Orange Order started to drop all the party stalwarts who
were Orange delegates and replaced them with delegates who were
going to follow the Order's leadership line of being anti-
To be an Orange delegate to the Ulster Unionist Council - the
party's governing body - you had to be a member of UUP branch as
well as being an Orangeman.
The pro-Agreement faction in the party was aware the anti-
Agreement members of the Ulster Unionist Council were getting
their supporters to join UUP branches to load the bases at the
"They were effectively stacking the deck within the Ulster
Unionist Council and that is the one point at which the Orange
Order was being used politically," says Lord Trimble. " People
were asking, 'Why is Trimble continuing when he gets a vote of
53% or 54% at the Council meetings? How could he run a party on
"I knew if you stripped out the Orange vote, then my vote was
between 60 and 70%. I knew that amongst the activists of the UUP
my true position was in the mid to high 60s."
There was very little that David Trimble could do about it at the
time. To change the rules of the party required a two-thirds
majority and he knew that he had no chance of achieving that.
The restructuring and reforms within the UUP came when the Orange
Order broke the link and withdrew its delegates.
Trimble, who is still an Orangeman, says that he does not feel
let down by the Order and his fellow brethren, explaining that it
was "a question of what was happening at the leadership level of
the Order". He sees a problem with the current leadership but
points out that while some people have left the Orange Order over
leadership issues, he knows many who, although they are not
comfortable with what the leadership is doing, are intent on
remaining within the Order.
Many observers attributed David Trimble's meteoric rise to the
leadership of the UUP to his high profile in negotiating a parade
down the Garvaghy Road after the first stand-off in 1995.
Television news footage showed the local MP wearing his Orange
sash walking up and down the paths in the graveyard at Drumcree
church, directing the Orangemen and, at times, it seemed, trying
to direct the security forces as well.
Lord Trimble, however, believes that Drumcree worked against him
in the race for the leadership.
" They did not want a leader who might be seen as being close to
Ian Paisley," he says. "So that walk down Carleton Street was
highly negative for me." He admits that it may have garnered some
Orange support for him "in the wider unionist family" but says
that it did not go down well with the Ulster Unionist Council
delegates, who were the people who were going to elect the
"Drumcree did not secure the leadership of the party for me," he
states categorically. "If Drumcree helped me, it helped in the
sense of showing that faced with a challenge, I accepted the
challenge and was prepared to approach it, but not in a 'safety
He compares himself with predecessor, Jim Molyneaux, who, he
c Belfast Telegraph
Opin: Drumcree: Can The Issue Ever Be Resolved?
[Published: Monday 21, May 2007 - 09:02]
A decade since the Orange Order last walked the Garvaghy Road in
Portadown, Chris Thornton and Noel McAdam have been talking to
the main players and asking: can the march be resolved?
Lodge wants to see substance and not words
The Orange Order
An Orange Lodge will put its feet on the Garvaghy Road this
weekend. It does so every year, even though the march has in the
past sparked some trouble.
Accompanied by a band, some marshalls and other adults, Parkmount
Junior Lodge is to walk the lower end of Garvaghy on Saturday
evening just over a month before the traditional Drumcree Sunday.
But their adult counterparts of Portadown LOL No. 1 have now been
waiting for 10 years to finish their own march along the main
The lodge insists it is waiting to hear back from the Parades
Commission over its proposal to engage in mediation with the
Garvaghy Residents Coalition.
The offer was first made official last autumn, though it had been
put verbally even earlier, and reiterated more recently but,
according to lodge spokesman David Jones, there has been no
indication that it will happen.
The lodge remains critical of the commission, which it accuses of
being complicit in providing the Garvaghy Residents with a
"comfort zone" .
The Orange side recognises a change in the language and tone of
the commission's determinations but argues words are not enough.
"We would rather see some substance coming from the commission,
not just a change of emphasis in the words. For a start, if the
mediation is due to take place perhaps both sides will learn more
about each other and be able to come to some sort of
accommodation," spokesman Jones said.
"It appears to be the case the residents are happy with the
status quo, that there is no parade coming down the road. The
Parades Commission is part of the problem in that they have given
the residents that comfort zone that there is no parade taking
place, so the residents feel they don't need to do anything, they
have got exactly what they wanted. From our side we would be
quite disappointed that we are almost in the middle of May and
yet since last autumn we have not heard back about whether this
mediation is going to take place or not."
Though it is not due to hold its next meeting until the end of
June, Orange district officials have heard the recent spate of
rumours and noted the apparent optimism that the issue could at
last be addressed. But none of the speculation has caused any
actual movement on the ground.
Orange figures claim, however, there are indications Sinn Fein
has been privately applying pressure on the Garvaghy Residents
Coalition to agree to direct dialogue, an allegation denied by
both the party and residents.
Drew Nelson, grand secretary of the order's Grand Lodge of
Ireland, said: " What's kind of filtering back to us from various
sources is that the campaign organised by Sinn Fein against
various Orange Order parades has outlived its usefulness. The
question is whether they can now manage it."
But at county level an official, who did not want to be named,
said: " This could be the one time that Sinn Fein has created a
monster which even they will not be able to control."
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey, who last year urged efforts
to resolve Drumcree should begin, said he believed Sinn Fein had
backed off " riding roughshod" over the Garvaghy community.
"(Sinn Fein) went out of their way to create these things.
Drumcree was always the big one, but that is beyond them now and
they are not going to fall on the wrong side of the community
there," he said.
And while the Orange might have a more flexible approach at
district level, he added: "The fact is they are not going to get
involved unless they believe they are going to get something out
of it and I don't believe the evidence is there to support that
at the moment."
Yet no-one reckons resolution is impossible. There are many
'solution' scenarios which have been proffered. One which has
recently done the rounds is that in future the lodge visits all
the main churches in Portadown, only returning to Drumcree on a
six or seven-year circuit. But Mr Jones insists: " I can't see
that really being a runner."
Security forces play crucial but low-key role
The PSNI plays a crucial but increasingly low-key role in
attempts to resolve Drumcree.
As the potential for violence has decreased, so, too, have the
security operations around the parade.
The demands on the police and Army are still substantial every
July, but nothing like the operations there used to be in the
Police have a more settled relationship with the Orange Order -
promises of good behaviour have been met with reduced security
and increased trust.
But the PSNI has also been enjoying improved relations with the
nationalist residents of the Garvaghy Road, and won't want to
Police have moved to the back seat of Drumcree and don't want to
be dragged forward again.
The blocked parade in 1996 saw the biggest strain on security
resources. Rioting across Northern Ireland and a huge crowd
engaging in nightly violence at Drumcree nearly broke the RUC.
Police were forced to reverse their decision and let the march
down the road.
In 1997, they pre-empted the loyalist protest by clearing the
road, physically removing nationalist residents, for the parade
That was the last occasion the Drumcree march was completed. The
following year decision powers on parades were passed to the
Parades Commission, and it immediately banned Drumcree from the
The establishment of the Commission removed some of the pressure
on police, because Orangemen recognised senior officers were now
enforcing someone else's ruling instead of making the decision
Relations with the nationalist residents have also improved.
"There's been a big, big change on the Garvaghy Road," said SDLP
MLA Dolores Kelly.
"The acceptance of police is incredible. There have been and
there are improved relations between the police and ordinary
people of the Garvaghy Road.
"You'll see police riding about on bicycles - something you don't
see in other areas. It would be a backward step if police, all of
a sudden, got engaged again in the parading issue."
If there are any security problems concerning the parade, a key
difference could be Sinn Fein's engagement with the PSNI -
although Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd said any engagement about
Drumcree would deal with specific matters.
"We engage with the PSNI when we need to engage with them," he
'It's not been an issue for years'
For many in the Catholic parts of the Garvaghy Road, Drumcree is
already a dying issue.
They expect this summer to be the 10th without a return Orange
parade with only low-level security.
The parade doesn't feature in the lives of Garvaghy residents the
way it used to - and for some, that's it resolved.
"When the Orange Order held their 3,000 days of Drumcree march
last year, only 2 - 300 turned up," said Breandan MacCionnaith,
the leader of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. "There was
only a few hundred last July.
"If people are honest, this is the 200th anniversary of the
Drumcree march this year and somebody is deliberately trying to
hype this up into an issue when it hasn't been an issue for
Drumcree's profile is certainly diminished, and the argument from
the residents' group is that the Orange protest should be left to
That is a possibility, but a resolution would settle the matter
and lend huge symbolic significance to the efforts to end parade
disputes in other areas.
One factor in Drumcree's return as a headline issue has been
hints that behind-the-scenes horse trading between Sinn Fein and
the DUP would include a deal for a final march, possibly on July
1 this year.
Suggestions also followed that Garvaghy coalition were refusing
to enter talks and could be becoming the stumbling blocks to a
Both ideas have been denied by Sinn Fein and Mr Mac Cionnaith,
although all sides acknowledge the Parades Commission is
attempting to start talks.
Progress is slow, but it is being made
The Parades Commission has revealed the Drumcree lodge has not
only agreed to enter mediation, but to use the mediation model
which the commission itself prefers.
"There's no doubt they (the lodge) have shifted," a senior source
said. "And from their point of view, it is a significant move."
Almost every Wednesday, commission members meet at Windsor House
in Belfast and discuss the Drumcree situation. Each week the
latest application from Portadown Lodge No. 1 will have come
Then with equal regularity the commission will issue a detailed
determination, turning the request down.
Yet also every Sunday, after morning worship, one or two dozen
Orange members will parade from Drumcree Church of Ireland to the
security barrier, where a letter of protest will be handed in.
On the ground nothing has changed, seemingly for years. Yet
elsewhere, and not least within the commission, there have been
It has been at pains to repeatedly make clear it does not see the
current situation as a long-term resolution to parading in
The official line goes: "The Parades Commission is committed in
its view that local accommodation is the best way to achieve a
resolution in Portadown, that those involved should work towards
this resolution, and that there continues to be a sincere desire
among people on all sides for some form of acceptable outcome
which will allow Portadown to move on.
"The commission has repeatedly stated that it does not see the
current situation as a long-term resolution to parading in
Portadown, but is equally clear that the only way to deliver an
equitable and sustainable settlement is through an understanding
reached between Portadown LOL 1 and the residents' coalition."
c Belfast Telegraph
Viewpoint: Orange Order Evolving And Surviving
[Published: Monday 21, May 2007 - 08:18]
The Orange Order was formed more than 200 years ago, essentially
as a defence organisation, and for large parts of the intervening
period it has been on the defensive, both against internal and
What is remarkable - as a new history of the organisation
serialised in this newspaper reveals - is that the Order has
remained largely intact throughout its long and chequered history
and has remained broadly faithful to its founding principles in
spite of the many pressures on it to change.
Its longevity is due, in significant measure, to its democratic
structure. Although it has a central policy making committee, the
Grand Lodge, real power remains where it began, in the local
lodges. For many people Orangeism is a way of life handed down
over generations from father to son, a tradition which acts as an
A constant criticism levelled at the Order, even by those who
would broadly share its outlook, is that it is too defensive in
attitude. While that may reflect the siege mentality often
associated with Protestantism in general - and Protestants in
Northern Ireland in particular - it undoubtedly has stunted the
development of the organisation and led it into conflicts that
could have been avoided.
The Drumcree protests at the end of the 1990s may have begun as a
principled stand on the right to parade along a traditional
route, but sympathy, or even understanding, of the Orangemen's
position quickly dissipated because of the Order's defiant stance
against negotiations with Catholic residents opposed to the
parade. Many members of the Order itself were repulsed by the
mayhem which convulsed the province annually as a result of the
stand at Drumcree.
Post-Drumcree, the Order realised that it must change its image,
if not its principles. During the formative years of Northern
Ireland, the Order was a potent political force. Unionist
ministers could be summoned to lodges to explain any worrying
signs of liberalism and some political careers were ended by
running foul of the Order.
That political clout no longer exists, and if the power-sharing
template of the present devolved administration continues for the
foreseeable future, the Order will have to deal with a very
different set of politicians.
There are hopeful straws in the wind. The Order has met with
leaders of the Catholic Church; it recognises the inevitability
of dealing with Sinn Fein Ministers; it is trying to make the
annual parades more broadly appealing. Indeed some Orange
optimists are hoping for a resurgence of membership in the
Republic. But, whatever road it takes or decisions it makes,
there seems little danger of the Order marching off into the
Women of courage
The talent, determination and courage of two Ulster women deserve
special mention today.
Janet Grey and Hannah Shields both overcame significant hurdles
to conquer personal demons half-way around the world at the
The story of Janet Grey, the blind water-skier from the Lisburn
area, is truly remarkable. The act of being a blind water-skier
alone takes enormous skill and bravery.
But Janet almost died in an accident during training in Florida
three years ago - a crash that caused horrific injuries and which
has left her even today with a legacy of pain and trauma.
She was told she would never even walk again, let alone ski. But
this weekend Janet returned to competition and lifted five gold
medals at the World Disabled Water Ski Championships in
Australia. Hers is a truly remarkable achievement.
Hannah Shields, the mountaineer from Kilrea, achieved a lifelong
dream this weekend, also in the face of physical and
Four years ago, exhausted and suffering the early onset of
frostbite, Hannah and her team abandoned a climb to Everest's
summit just 300ft from their goal.
On Friday she scaled Everest by the arduous north face - finally
triumphing over the mountain that had so cruelly defeated her
Admiration and congratulations are due to both women today.
c Belfast Telegraph
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