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May 16, 2007

SF Manifesto Is A Republican Platform

News about Ireland & the Irish

BN 05/16/07 SF Manifesto Is A Republican Platform – Adams
BT 05/16/07 Ministers' Work Goes Under Scrutiny
BT 05/16/07 Ahern's Full Speech To The Houses Of Parliament
BN 05/16/07 Ahern And Kenny Prepare For TV Showdown
BN 05/16/07 Kenny Willing To Work With Sinn Féin If Elected
BT 05/16/07 Opin: A Good Day For Republic, A Good Day For Bertie
BT 05/16/07 Opin: No Winners In Digging Up The Past
BT 05/16/07 Opin: From New York: Illegals Should Join The Queue
BT 05/16/07 Victims' Family Slams Troubles Internet Game


SF Manifesto Is A Republican Platform - Adams

16/05/2007 - 12:44:29

The Sinn Fein leader has described his party's manifesto as a
republican platform.

Healthcare, education, the constitutional right to a home and a
robust and vibrant economy are the cornerstones of the party's

It wants to see public money used to supply public services.

Gerry Adams said the party has proven its ability to show
leadership, and claims that Ireland is now more prosperous and
peaceful as a result.

"Sinn Fein is standing on a republican platform which has
equality at its heart.

"Equality and the rights of citizens is the core of our agenda,
or our programme for government."


Ministers' Work Goes Under Scrutiny

[Published: Wednesday 16, May 2007 - 11:00]
By Noel McAdam

Stormont's new scrutiny committees were today getting down to
work for the first time as another layer of the new devolution
dispensation kicked in.

The committees, which are intended to hold Ministers and senior
civil servants to account, are to meet on days when the Assembly
is not in full plenary session.

Today's schedule included the inaugural meeting of the now
statutory Committee of the Centre, which will monitor the First
Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Chaired by Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy, the meeting was due
to be given a briefing by the head of the civil service, Nigel

Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey was due to attend
the initial meeting of the Employment and Learning Committee,
chaired by Sinn Fein's Sue Ramsey.

Sir Reg was expected to be accompanied by the Department's
permanent secretary, Dr Aideen McGinley and deputy secretaries,
Greg McConnell and Catherine Bell.

A short distance down the new corridors of power the Finance and
Personnel Committee, chaired by Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin,
was holding a special session on the budget legislation involving
Department director Leo O'Reilly and Richard Pengelly, head of
the central expenditure division. Simultaneously, the first
meeting of the Regional Development Committee, chaired by the
UUP's Fred Cobain, was holding a Ministerial briefing.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ahern's Full Speech To The Houses Of Parliament

[Published: Wednesday 16, May 2007 - 10:22]

I am grateful for your welcome and I am honoured to be the first
Taoiseach to speak here at the heart of British parliamentary

Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker, Prime Minister, Distinguished Guests,

I am grateful for your welcome and I am honoured to be the first
Taoiseach to speak here at the heart of British parliamentary
democracy. But I speak not for myself today; I speak for the
Irish people and for the history and the best hopes of our two
island nations, yours and mine.

Today, following as it does so many remarkable days, is a new and
glad departure in an old and extraordinary relationship.

Ours is a close, complex and difficult history. But now with
energy and resolve this generation is leaving the past behind,
building friendship and laying the foundation for a lasting
partnership of common interests between our two islands.

For over two centuries, great Irishmen came to Westminster to be
a voice for the voiceless of Ireland and at times a conscience
for Britain too.

I am thinking above all of Daniel O'Connell and of Charles
Stewart Parnell, but the tradition is long and noble. And their
struggle to further the cause of the Irish nation in this
parliament resonated across the Irish Sea through the lives of
every Irish person.

Those who travelled that sea to take a seat in this place
believed in the proposition that democratic politics, however
imperfect, is not, first and foremost, a career or a means of
acquiring power. Rather it was, and is, the surest way to secure
and advance a fair society.

This year, Britain commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Act
of this Parliament that ended the appalling wrong that was the
Atlantic slave trade. This happened despite powerful interests
that argued the financial costs of abolition. But in one of the
most remarkable examples of a collective political act on moral
grounds, those interests were overcome. It was a moment of great
moral authority and one of the great stepping-stones to freedom.

In the words of Daniel O'Connell who died 160 years ago today:

"There is nothing politically right that is morally wrong."

And it was this faith too that was turned to the cause of the
rights of the Irish people.

It was O'Connell who built a mass civil rights movement to
achieve Catholic emancipation, and then to take on the cause of
the repeal of the Act of Union. The movement was founded firmly
on principles of non-violence, and became an inspiration for
peoples everywhere, confirming the power of an idea that again
and again has changed the world. That idea is an inspiration to
Irish people to this day.

O'Connell was also the champion of a wider and generous liberal
tradition which looked far beyond Ireland's shores to right
injustice and support the weak and the poor.

Two generations later, Parnell and his colleagues used their
disciplined mastery of the parliamentary system to force the
issue of Home Rule to the center of British politics and in so
doing created the first modern political party in these islands.

We remember too that it was Ireland that first elected a woman,
Constance Markiewicz, to the House of Commons - although she
chose instead to take her seat in the first D il as elected by
the Irish people.

Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker,

The historical relationship of Ireland and Britain too often
seemed as if it could be more accurately measured out in
repression and rebellions, over cycles of decades and centuries.
Conflicts have become synonymous with years - 1169, 1690, 1798,
1916 and into the recent agony of the Troubles.

It is a litany that too often seemed to confirm the inevitability
of conflict between us.

But, it was never the whole story - and now in our day and
generation, we have seen the dawning of a new era.

In an act full of the symbolism of new days of hope and promise
in Ireland, I had the honour last week to welcome the new First
Minister of Northern Ireland, the Right Honourable Ian Paisley,
MP, to the site of the Battle of the Boyne.

This was a battle for power in these islands and also part of a
wider European conflict. Its outcome resounds through the
centuries of Irish and British history to this very day. That
time marked the beginning of an unbroken period of parliamentary
democracy in this country. But its legacy in Ireland has always
been a matter of deep contention and division.

It is surely a miracle of our age that the undisputed leader of
Ulster unionism can meet with the leader of the Irish Government,
on that battlefield, in a spirit of friendship and mutual

The intertwined history of Ireland and Britain was - let us not
deny the truth - in large measure indeed a story of division and
conflict, of conquest, suppression and resistance. But, of
course, there are episodes in that story which are a source of
pride - just as there are others that are rightly a source of
regret and anguish.

Last year, I was proud to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the
1916 Rising. It was a hinge of history - and the turning of
events has continued since.

Those who fought did so in pursuit of a state which, in the words
of the 1916 Proclamation, "guarantees religious and civil
liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens
and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity
of the whole nation and all of its parts cherishing all of the
children of the nation equally".

The Rising did not have immediate universal support, and was
opposed, at least initially, by many of those Irishmen who served
in this Parliament, just as many in Ireland were shocked by the
heavy-handed exercise of power by the British authorities in its

Irish nationalism has its heroes as does unionism. We need to
acknowledge each others pride in our separate and divided past.

In 1998, in a groundbreaking act of recognition of our shared
journey, President Mary McAleese and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
jointly opened the Memorial Peace Park in Messines - a requiem to
the 200,000 young men from across the island of Ireland, Catholic
and Protestant, North and South, who fought in the First World
War, side by side. Some 50,000 did not return. Last year we
renewed this tribute in Dublin - and paid homage at home to the
spirit of an imperishable heroism - through a national
commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the battle of the Somme.

In another shining example of how we can engage with difficult
chapters of history without descending into spirals of
accusation, I remember the brave and generous initiative of the
Prime Minister in acknowledging the failures of those governing
in London at the time of the Great Famine in Ireland.

Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker,

Of course, the subject of Ireland was not always welcome in this
Place. I recall the words of Gladstone, who in November, 1890,
noted that:

"Since the month of December, 1885, my whole political life has
been governed by a supreme regard to the Irish question. For
every day, I may say, of these five years, we have been engaged
in laboriously rolling up-hill the stone of Sisyphus."

Prime Minister Blair and I can certainly empathise with this!

The so-called 'Irish Question' was for a long time shorthand in
these halls for a nuisance, a problem, a danger. A recurring
crisis that was debated here, but not where its effects were most

Today, I can stand here and say that the 'Irish Question' as
understood then has been transformed by the Good Friday

The Agreement has delivered peace and promise to Ireland by
accommodating the rights, the interests and the legitimate
aspirations of all. It represents the triumph of common interests
over inherited divisions.

It is not an end of history. But it is a new beginning.

It is an unchallengeable consensus on how any future change in
the status of Northern Ireland will be effected: only with
consent freely given, and with full respect for the rights of all
traditions and identities on the island.

As an Irish republican, it is my passionate hope that we will see
the island of Ireland united in peace. But I will continue to
oppose with equal determination any effort to impose unity
through violence or the threat of violence.

Irish Republicanism is inherently democratic and seeks to unite -
in their common interests - Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.

That is the principle on which I stand.

None of what has been accomplished in Northern Ireland in the
past decade could have happened without the most beneficial
transformation in British-Irish relations in over eight hundred

The depth and complexity of relationships between our islands
generation after generation defy summary or platitudes.

But now let us consign arguments over the past to the annals of
the past, as we make history instead of being doomed to repeat

Ours must and will be the last generation to feel the pain and
anger of old quarrels.

We cannot look back through eras far removed from the standards
and promise of today, through the very pages of our common past,
and tear out the bloodstained chapters.

But that does not mean we should write them into the story of our
future. Violence is part of our shared past that lasted too long.
Now we close the chapter, we move on, and it will remain there as
it was written.

Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker,

I stand before you as the elected leader of a young, modern and
successful country. The gathering pace of change in Ireland since
independence, and in this generation especially, has been

We have seized our opportunities and honoured our heritage.
Ireland is a small country, but today we are one of the most
globalised and enterprising in the world.

We have taken a place on the world stage in the United Nations
and the European Union. We have built a country of ideas, energy
and of confidence.

And it is this self-confidence that allows us, still conscious of
our history but not captured by it, to build a new and lasting
partnership of common interest that fully respects identity and
sovereignty, with you our nearest neighbour.

Today our partnership in the world is expressed most especially
in the European Union. Our joint membership has served as a vital
catalyst for the building of a deeper relationship between our
two islands. Europe forms a key part of our shared future. The
European Union has acted as a potent example of a new political
model that enables old enemies to become partners in progress.

On the world stage too we have a shared commitment to democracy,
to human rights and to international development.

And we stand together to make poverty history.

I think of the power of our example - of the history we have
written together in Northern Ireland. No two conflicts are
exactly the same and no two solutions will ever be alike. But the
world has watched as we grappled with our past and made our peace
with one another. Now our two governments can share our past
experience and newfound hope with others who are caught up in
conflict and feel despair.

Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker,

Our relationship is a partnership of people first and foremost.

No two nations and no two peoples have closer ties of history and
geography and of family and friendship.

Emigration was for too long a recurring theme of the Irish saga,
from the horrors of the Great Famine, to dark economic times in
the 20th Century.

Many Irish people came to this country as emigrants. And today
there are hundreds of thousands of Irish-born people living in
Britain today. Theirs were stories of dislocation, and stories of
aspiration, and then of new lives built, new families created,
new strands woven into the fabric of both our national

Today, there are over a hundred members of this Parliament with
an Irish background. And there are millions more like them in
Britain, who have gone on to new levels of success with each new

And, of course, the tide was not all one way. There are over
100,000 British citizens in Ireland now, a most welcome part of
an ever more diverse population.

British settlement, organised and otherwise, has given the island
of Ireland a British tradition too - not just in history and
language, borders and politics, but in a thriving community of
unionist people proud of who they are, where they came from, and
what they hope for.

They are a living bridge between us.

The Irish Government fully respects their rights and identity.

We value their voice, their vision and their future contribution
to the life of the island of Ireland in whatever way it should

Our economic partnership has always been, and remains, a
cornerstone of our prosperity and our friendship.

The origins of trade between our islands is lost in the mists of
time itself. And today our trading relationship continues to go
from strength to strength.

Irish and British people are driving the economies of both our
islands with efficiency and enterprise, regardless of politics or

The scale of our economic partnership is impressive and is
immensely important for all our people.

British exports to Ireland alone, are more than double that of
British exports to China, India, Brazil and Mexico combined. And
Britain takes almost half of our food exports and half the
exports of our indigenous companies.

And the achievements we have seen in Northern Ireland will open
up still greater opportunities for economic cooperation between
both islands and both parts of Ireland.

The people of these islands have woven a rich tapestry of culture
over the centuries. This has given rise to a partnership of
culture that is renowned across the world.

One of the most creative moments in human history was the meeting
between the English language and the Irish people.

It has given us some of the great works of world literature - of
Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw,
William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, John McGahern and many,
many others. Not the least of those was Richard Brinsley
Sheridan, who served in this House, was born in Dorset Street in
my constituency and is now buried nearby in Poets Corner at
Westminster Abbey.

They all found their genius in the English language, but they
drew on a perspective that was uniquely Irish.

Today, a vibrant cultural life is shared by both our countries
across every imaginable field - in music, dance, education,
theatre, film and sport.

In culture, as in sport, we share and together enjoy so much.

And in all these areas, too, our endeavours are not divorced from
our history, but are built on it.

Earlier this year, the Irish and English rugby teams met in the
magnificent headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association at
Croke Park in Dublin. It was a match played and watched on what
is now a field of dreams, but was once the very earth of past

But it was a match played in the spirit of sport. No one forgot
the shadows of history, but everyone was living in the sunlight
of that day.

Of all these bonds - of family and friendship, of commerce and
culture - the greatest of all is our partnership of peace.

We have shown that even the seemingly intractable can be overcome
- that peace is not impossible and conflict is not inevitable.

We have learned, as Seamus Heaney wrote:

"Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to
be maintained".

The Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Downing Street Declaration and the
Good Friday Agreement: many of you here have been participants
and makers of this history. All of you have kept hope.

Peace in Ireland has been the work of a generation. Today, I
salute all those who helped to lay the foundations for what has
now taken shape. In doing so, I acknowledge the work over so many
years of the British-Irish Parliamentary Body and also our great
and valued friends in the United States who have been with us at
all times on the long journey.

When Prime Minister Blair and I started out together ten years
ago, we were able to build on the courageous early steps that Sir
John Major and his colleagues had taken with us.

But the contribution of Prime Minister Blair has been

This was not a task he had to take on and not one that promised
quick or easy rewards. He took it on simply because there was a
chance that a great good could be achieved.

Tony Blair has been a true friend to me and a true friend to
Ireland. He has an honoured place in Irish hearts and in Irish

Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker,

Nine years ago, the people of the island of Ireland
democratically endorsed the Good Friday Agreement, a clear
command to all political leaders to advance the work of peace.

In March this year the people of Northern Ireland confirmed that
command through the ballot box and set their seal on the path of
political progress.

There are certain days which define an era. More rarely there are
days that define the next, that embody the turn of the tide.

Too many Irish days have done so through tragedy and violence.

Tuesday, May 8th, in Belfast was a day when we witnessed events
that will truly define our time and the next.

Shared devolved government, commanding support from both
communities and all the parties in Northern Ireland, is now in
place. Now at last the full genius and full potential of the Good
Friday Agreement will unfold in the interests of all the peoples
of these islands.

Yes, there will be challenges ahead. But these challenges can now
be faced in a climate of peace and from a foundation of

There are real issues on which the people of Northern Ireland
disagree. Some are the sort that face every government, and it is
now the business of their politicians to find solutions based on
practicality and compromise.

Others are more fundamental issues of political and cultural

But we are now in an era of agreement - of new politics and new

The world has seen Ireland's economic achievements. There is no
reason why a peaceful and stable Northern Ireland should not
achieve similar success. We are ready to be a partner and friend
on the path to economic growth. Both parts of the island of
Ireland will gain and grow.

The Irish Government has demonstrated its commitment by
announcing investment in important and practical projects that
will support development and growth in Northern Ireland.
Chancellor Gordon Brown's financial package expresses Britain's
clear commitment. Now let us move forward with strong practical
support and increasing political confidence.

The tide of history can both ebb and flow and with it our hopes
and dreams. But last week's events are powerful evidence that we
are moving with the tide of lasting change.

There is now real strength in the consensus on the way forward.

We know the unique and delicate balance that binds this process
together and we are committed to doing everything in our power to
protect what has been achieved.

Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker,

In our impatience to build a better future we must remember those
who have died and remember those who mourn.

The conflict has left over 3,700 dead and thousands more
seriously injured during our lifetimes. This appalling loss has
left deep scars which cannot easily be healed.

I know that these are not empty words to Members of this
Parliament, who have also experienced tragedy and personal loss
at first hand. I remember those killed and maimed at Brighton and
I remember Airey Neave MP, who was murdered so close to where we
are today.

There is a gnawing hunger for the truth about the loss of loved
ones. The conflict has left many unanswered questions in its
wake. Some of these are the subjects of ongoing or promised
inquiries. In these days of hope and promise we know the deep
hurt and pain that linger in the hearts of so many and for whom
the journey of healing and reconciliation will never be easy.

Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker,

The relationship between Britain and Ireland has changed
fundamentally for the better. It is and will remain vital for
both our countries. The success we have seen - in re-imagining
British-Irish relations and in establishing peace in Northern
Ireland - is not the end, but only the beginning of what we can
achieve together.

Our mutual relations merit priority at the highest level. We must
sustain our hard-won achievements on Northern Ireland.
Remembering where we have come from, we must never, ever, take
for granted the stability and the hope that are now taking root
in Northern Ireland.

We have built a remarkable foundation for a whole new level of
cooperation between our two countries.

For decades our relations have been filtered through the prism of
conflict. Now, building on the peace and progress of the last
decade, we can begin to pay greater attention to the wider
partnership of common interests between our two islands.

Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker,

We can all contribute to peace, in ways that are great or small,
in acts of cooperation and respect, of dialogue and of resolve.

This is a test for all of us.

I call to mind the words of another great Irishman Edmund Burke,
who served in this parliament: "No one could make a greater
mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a

So now we look back at history not to justify but to learn, and
we look forward to the future in terms not of struggle and
victories to be won, but of enduring peace and progress to be
achieved together.

In that spirit, I close by recalling the words of John Fitzgerald
Kennedy, the first American President to speak to the D il. He
was an Irish-American who had deep connections of feeling and
experience with Britain as well.

On that day in Dublin, President Kennedy called Ireland "an isle
of destiny" and said that "when our hour has come we will have
something to give the world".

Today I can say to this Parliament at Westminster as John Kennedy
said in Dublin, " Ireland's hour has come".

It came, not as victory or defeat, but as a shared future for

Solidarity has made us stronger.

Reconciliation has brought us closer.

Ireland's hour has come: a time of peace, of prosperity, of old
values and new beginnings.

This is the great lesson and the great gift of Irish history.

This is what Ireland can give to the world.

Thank You.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ahern And Kenny Prepare For TV Showdown

16/05/2007 - 11:52:05

Ireland's top election rivals will come face to face in a high-
stakes TV showdown tomorrow night.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is fighting for political survival, while
Opposition leader Enda Kenny must translate rising poll figures
into real political capital.

However, the live television debate between Ireland's would-be
leaders one week before polling day has revived memories of
famous battles from the past.

Former TV presenter Olivia O'Leary, who chaired similar head-to-
heads, said every second is critical for both candidates.

Recalling the famous 1987 clash between Charlie Haughey and
Garret FitzGerald, she warned: "It's important not to get bogged
down in detail.

"Haughey was very good at that. He never brought paper in with
him, either to an interview or to a debate.

"People need to see your eyes, it's a trust issue.

"Garret loves detail. Haughey had a masterly command of detail
and was usually wise enough not to get bogged down."

Mr Ahern and Mr Kenny will face each other on RT's Prime Time
programme in an encounter which may well decide how their lengthy
political careers end.

However, with so much at stake ahead of the May 24 poll, the men
might be tempted to edge towards an honourable draw.

"The main requirement of the presenter is to be seen to be fair,"
said the veteran broadcaster.

"So the only people going to make it exciting are the
participants themselves.

"Most play a defensive game. The main thing they have to do is
not to lose."

However, with the prospective Taoisigh neck and neck there may be
a temptation to go in for the kill.

Fergus Finlay, former political adviser to Labour's Dick Spring
from 1983 to 1997, said he believed this debate was more
significant than any of its famous predecessors.

"The margin of error is much tighter," he said.

A lot has been made of whether Mr Kenny has the stuff to become
Taoiseach so there is a degree of pressure on him.

"Fine Gael would have gone into it with the thought in mind that
if they were to lose the debate they would have a week to

"The debate between Haughey and FitzGerald was very much a debate
between two equals.

"Intellectually and politically they were the equal of each other
and fought each other for a draw.

"This is the first time that such an experienced politician like
Bertie Ahern will be up against Enda Kenny, whose experience is
very little."

Ivan Yates, Fine Gael minister for agriculture in the mid-1990s,
who left full-time politics in 2001, agreed that the timing of
the debate a week before voters go to the polls is significant.

"Eighteen per cent of votes are still undecided," he said.

He predicted that a good performance by either of the political
leaders could spark a 2% to 3% shift in the polls.

"I would say that there will be very feverish preparations going
on behind the scenes.

"It is seen as a big moment for both sides."


Kenny Willing To Work With Sinn Fein If Elected

15/05/2007 - 15:42:22

The Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has said if he is elected
Taoiseach he would be willing to work alongside Sinn Fein
ministers in the North.

Enda Kenny was speaking from Westminster where he appeared to
soften his stance towards Sinn Fein whom he has repeatedly ruled
out as a coalition partner.

But Enda Kenny says if he is in power after May 24, he would be
happy to work with Sinn Fein in government in the North.

"I don't have any difficulty in standing by my beliefs and
principles and I'm very glad to see that Sinn Fein have joined
fully in the devolved power situation.

Deputy Kenny went on to express his happiness at Sinn Fein's
support of policing, adding: "We get on working as politicians
for the betterment of both communities in the North and for the
development in the community of Northern Ireland as part of the
island of Ireland and I see a very bright future there."


Opin: A Good Day For Republic, A Good Day For Bertie

[Published: Wednesday 16, May 2007 - 10:47]
By Maurice Hayes

For most of those who rose to welcome the Taoiseach in the Royal
Gallery of the House of Lords yesterday, there was a sense that
they were doing more than simply recognising one of the heroes of
the peace process, although that was the ostensible occasion for
the event.

Anyone with any sense of history was aware that what they were
really celebrating was a significant change in British/Irish
relations, the putting aside of old animosities, and the
beginning of a new era in which the two countries as equal
partners are ready to face the future together with mutual
respect and a sense of common purpose, not forgetting the past
but not allowing the past to put the future in a straitjacket.

By an odd coincidence another event which was to take place in
the Lord's Chamber later in the day added its own resonance to
the occasion.

Professor Paul Bew was being introduced to membership of the
House of Lords as Lord Bew of Donegore by David Trimble and
Baroness Onora O'Neill.

Even those with only a smattering of northern history will
remember Donegore Hill as the rallying point for the United
Irishmen of east and south Antrim in that bloody summer of
disappointed hopes in 1798.

Thus, by accident or otherwise, we had the two main strands of
historic Irish Republicanism represented in Westminster on the
same day: the modern Republicanism which the Taoiseach inherited
from his Cork father, and the older, radical tradition of the
Northern dissenters.

Even that epiphany had its own significance on a day that was
heavily overlaid with symbolism.

The event took place in Pugin's over-the-top interior of the
Royal Gallery, with its portraits of British monarchs stretching
back over the centuries, its massive wall painting of Waterloo,
and gold leaf and gilt slapped heavily on anything that showed
the slightest tendency to move.

Tony Blair appeared mainly to extol the contribution of the
Taoiseach to the peace process. In doing so he added his own bit
of metaphor in pointing to the friendship and constructive
cooperation between the grandson of a Co Donegal Orangeman and
the son of a Cork Republican.

In describing him as a great friend of the British people, he was
handing Bertie an accolade which will now be welcomed by most
people in Ireland, but, even as recently as 20 years ago, would
have been enough to damn him for ever in the eyes of Fianna Fail
and to destroy his chances of election.

Bertie's speech, however, despite the ritual bows to 1916
(managing however to bracket it with the Somme) and to the
Famine, was mainly about Irish participation in British
parliamentary democracy, invoking O'Connell (on the 160th
anniversary of his death), as the great proponent of non-
violence, Parnell and, later in the speech, Edmund Burke.

He also spent time, in a carefully structured and substantial
speech, on the interaction of the two Irelands; the interweaving
of traditions and identity between the two islands; the number of
Irish who, because of economic circumstances, had to make their
homes in England, and now the flow in the opposite direction; the
Irish impact on the English language and the Irish cultural
contribution in literature, music and public life.

What is interesting is the number of occasions on which he has
asserted that the peace process and the events in Stormont on May
8 represented not an end to history but a new beginning.

One sensed that, more than anything in the speech, more than his
remembrance of those who died or suffered, the Taoiseach was
reaching out to embrace and reassure unionists, to remind them of
the protection embodied in the principle of consent and his
willingness - which reflects that of all parties in the
Oireachtas, which is why the North is not an election issue - to
support the new arrangements in Northern Ireland and to underpin
them with economic cooperation which would benefit the whole
island, and Britain too.

In a little noticed debate in Stormont earlier in the week, Sinn
Fein did not oppose membership of the Commonwealth Parliamentary

More important were the terms used by Mitchell McLoughlin: they
were doing so simply to recognise the fact that such membership
was important to others. That, at least, is the beginning of
wisdom, of turning difference into diversity.

But back to Bertie.

The Taoiseach seemed to be articulating a new and more mature
British/Irish relationship in which interest and identities which
cross boundaries and seas in the archipelago (which we might
again be satisfied to call the British Isles) could be
accommodated and developed, and all within a wider framework of a
developing European Union.

The standing ovation at the end was a substantial tribute from an
audience of hard-nosed politicians for a job well done in the
peace process. It was a good day for Ireland - and for Bertie

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Reporting From New York: Illegals Should Join The Queue

[Published: Wednesday 16, May 2007 - 09:13]
By Walter Ellis

I see that SDLP Assembly members Alasdair McDonnell and PJ
Bradley (that would be SDLP MLA PJ) have called on the new
Stormont administration to make a donation supporting
undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States.

Their argument, presumably, is that Irish illegals in America are
staunch, upright folk, seeking merely to add their diversity and
skills to the US population.

In fact, McDonnell and Bradley are asking the Assembly to
subsidise Irish illegals, contrary to official US policy, which
is to require those who have entered America unlawfully to leave
the country and take their places in the queue along with
everybody else.

The Bush administration's approach to immigration is arguably
foolish and blinkered. But for elected representatives of an
assembly that was in part made possible by the benevolence of
successive US presidents to then turn around and, almost as their
first act, to encourage illegality in America strikes me as the
height of arrogance.

No doubt McDonnell and Bradley would say that they are not in
favour of actual illegal immigration, but wish simply to create
legal recourse for its victims. But I'm afraid that won't wash.
Note, by the way, how Irish illegals are not described as such.
Instead, they are said to be 'undocumented', as if they had
arrived by accident in America and then discovered - botheration!
- that they had left their papers at home on the kitchen table.

The point about the Irish in America these days is that they are
in an entirely different category to, most obviously, Hispanics,
but also Africans, Asians and east Europeans. The Republic of
Ireland is now officially one of the richest, most open countries
in the world. The days when Protestants could boast that they
would never give up the blue skies of freedom (ie the British
link) for the grey mists of an Irish Republic are long gone.

And while Northern Ireland may now lag some way behind the south
in terms of financial well-being, it has been pampered for so
long by successive London governments that it is almost
impossible to tell that it does not, in fact, have an effective

The people of Northern Ireland live well by almost any measure.
Everybody knows the difference between pre-Troubles and post-
Troubles living standards. You only have to look at house prices,
the quality of cars on the road, the numbers of holidays taken
abroad and the proliferation of expensive restaurants to know
that 'our wee Ulster' has succeeded in conning its way into the
kind of overall prosperity that would not shame Germany, Denmark
or Switzerland.

In this context, and given the fact that the Republic, with its
'real' wealth, is just down the road, why should we be
subsidising illegal immigration into the United States? It
doesn't make sense.

No one can deny the difficulties of legal entry into the US. I am
married to a US citizen, yet it took me two years to secure a
Green Card. Having previously recorded my intentions with the
embassy in London, I registered with the Department of
Immigration within a month of my arrival in America. I then
underwent a gruelling series of interviews and medical
examinations, including legal checks, before being issued with
preliminary authorisation to remain. My legal bills, if I
remember correctly, exceeded $$3,000, with medical bills on top
of that.

I did not come here to make my fortune. I came because my wife
was keen to return to America after 14 years of living in the UK.
I pay my taxes and I have broken no laws.

The majority of present-day Irish immigrants (as distinct from
the post-famine wave) come from a society at least as wealthy and
provided for as the United States. Why should they receive state
subsidies to assist them in making what is in essence no more
than a life choice? They want to live in America because they
want to live in America. They are not poverty-stricken and they
are not on the run from a tyrannical regime.

They should fight their own corner and pay their own bills.

By the way, if you want a flavour of how many Irish-Americans
view the immigration question, consider this letter in a recent
edition of the Irish Voice:

"I am concerned that the number of foreign nationals living in
the Republic of Ireland is now 10% of the Irish population ¨ such
a large amount of foreigners is sure to have a significant
negative effect on Irish workers, infrastructure ¨ and even more
so, Irish pride, culture, heritage, national identity, etc.

"These people don't care about Ireland, they're just there to
make money and abuse social services.

"I hope that the Republic of Ireland significantly lowers the
number of individuals being allowed to immigrate to Ireland, puts
more restrictions on European Union workers, and gives those of
the Irish Diaspora whose closest link to Ireland is a great-
grandparent the right to Irish citizenship that they should be
entitled to.

"If the Republic of Ireland doesn't take these steps, then I fear
that the Republic of Ireland will no longer be Irish."

Another letter in the Voice argued that present levels of
immigration into Ireland meant that "the Erin of the Green Hills
and her rightful inheritors" were being "sacrificed on the high
altar of political correctness to the God of multi-culturalism".

Not all Irish-Americans think this way. Sister Lena Deevy, of the
Irish Immigration Center in Boston, wrote to say that such
attitudes were " awful" and made life very difficult for the
undocumented Irish in America. I'm sure the SDLP would agree.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: No Winners In Digging Up The Past

Brian Rowa
[Published: Wednesday 16, May 2007 - 14:07]

Have we had too many inquiries into the past? Security writer
Brian Rowan questions their necessity

It is an opinion that is shared right across the policing family.

So, when Stephen Grange spoke the words at the recent annual
meeting of the Superintendents' Association, he was speaking for
many more than were in the room.

In how the past is being addressed, he said there was a need for
the Government to pause for breath.

Someone else put it much more bluntly. "We are in a hole and we
need to stop digging," he told me.

In his speech, Stephen Grange - a police chief superintendent -
said there was a "perception that a hierarchy of victimhood
exists", and there were "grave concerns about the present
management and focus of this process."

"We, in the Superintendents' Association, would call upon
Government to pause in this relentless pursuit of the past," he

They are talking about the public inquiries and the
investigations by the Police Ombudsman that dig deep into an
often very dirty war.

So what is their problem - their complaint?

The issues are balance and context - and the perception is that
the tools of these investigations and inquiries, the shovels and
spades, are digging in one place only.

They have a point.

We don't yet know what the contribution of the IRA, UVF and UDA
leaderships will be to answering the questions of our past.

When are they going to be asked and by whom?

Is any serious thought being given to any of this?

Maybe there is a need to pause for breath until we have some more
of the answers.

To only search some of the corners is to ignore much of what

So, if it's going to be done - if there is going to be an
examination of our past - let the investigating eyes look

I have said before that everyone who gave an order should be in
the room.

No side should be allowed to stay away - there should be no half-
truth process.

If we want the war examined, then let's examine it all.

And that's some of what we need to find out first.

Who will come to the table, and what will their contribution be?

Let's ask the political, security, republican and loyalist
leaderships who they will send into any such process and for what

And let us be sure we know what the victims need and want.

If we are going to pose the questions, then we need someone to
ask them - and getting that right would be a useful first step.

There are already suggestions in the background about who should
be " dusted down" to do such work.

We can be confident now that the wars are over.

What has grown out of our political process is something quite
remarkable, but underneath it all, there is a gaping wound that
needs some proper care.

The past and how we deal with it is important to our future.

There is some rich research out there. The Healing Through
Remembering project has produced written work that offers
possible ways forward.

They have thought this through, and they have given us the
beginnings of some process.

But who wants to be part of it and who doesn't?

Some of what was filthy in the world of the Special Branch and
informants has been shovelled to the surface in recent probes.

But that is only part of the story - part of our past.

We need a process. We need to know what the questions are. We
need to know who is going to ask them. We need to know who is
going to answer them. And we need to know what we are going to do
with all that information.

Maybe more than anything else, we need to take that pause for

What is it we want to know and why?

c Belfast Telegraph


Victims' Family Slams Troubles Internet Game

[Published: Wednesday 16, May 2007 - 08:13]
By Ben Lowry

(Poster's Note:

An Internet-based paramilitary game in which players are
encouraged to become republican or loyalist gunmen has been
slammed as "tasteless" by the family of a terrorist victim.

The Hooded Gunman website is attracting thousands of hits a day
from as far afield as Australia and America from players who
register as gunmen in their bid to become top dog in the Ulster
paramilitary world.

Gamers can gain kudos and money by dealing drugs, murdering their
enemies and dodging police officers who can spring up at any

The founder of the site insists it is ethical and has brought
together Catholic and Protestant players.

But Alan McBride, who lost his wife and father-in-law in an IRA
bomb in 1993, said that "the people who are putting these things
out need to wise up and step back and think about things".

The Wave Trauma Centre worker continued: "It is in extremely bad
taste for folks who have been hurt and lost in the conflict; it
trivialises the conflict here."

But the site creator, 32- year-old Newtownabbey man Warren Dowey,
said: " My site does not trivialise the Troubles. It is very

He added: "The game is paramilitaries against paramilitaries - no
civilians are involved and policemen cannot be attacked. It makes
the paramilitaries out to be scoundrels."

Some 2,500 people have registered to play the game since it was
set up in March by Dowey. He said the idea came when he was
having a few drinks with friends, and he realised there were many
games about the Mafia but none about the Troubles.

Mr McBride, a director of the Healing Through Remembering project
which seeks to help people deal with past tragedies, said: "We
are involved in pushing forward sensitive initiatives which can
be therapeutic for victims and this game does not fit into any of

Mr McBride said that it was better that people were playing
violent games than doing it in reality, but he added: "I would be
of the opinion that it normalises violence and that cannot be

Mr Dowey said: "I don't want to take away from the fact that many
people lost their lives to violence, but I just wanted to
highlight what I felt was the ridiculousness of it. I thought, if
The Hole in the Wall Gang can poke fun at the situation, so can

c Belfast Telegraph

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