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May 03, 2007

UVF: A Farewell To Arms?

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 05/03/07 UVF: A Farewell To Arms?
BB 05/03/07 UVF Calls End To Terror Campaign
BT 05/03/07 Too Little Too Late: Relatives Of Victims
BT 05/03/07 Hain Welcomes UVF Statement
BT 05/03/07 UVF's Full Statement
BT 05/03/07 PSNI Clerk Gets Bail On Terrorist 'Plot' Charge
BB 05/03/07 Restorative Justice Gets Go Ahead
BB 05/03/07 Brown Talks To Focus On NI Cash
IT 05/03/07 SF Call For Protection Of GPO Site
IT 05/03/07 Adams Visit Proves To Be A Moving Experience For Many
BT 05/03/07 Opin: Still Just End Of The Beginning For UVF
BT 05/03/07 Opin: Turning Off War Not Like Switching Light Out
BT 05/03/07 Extra Funding For Gay Pride... From A DUP Ministry
BN 05/03/07 McAleese Gives Seal Of Approval To Broadway Show


UVF: A Farewell To Arms?

[Published: Thursday 3, May 2007 - 10:33]
By Brian Rowan

The Ulster Volunteer Force announced today it had ended its war -
but was keeping its guns.

That was the mixed message to emerge in a major statement from
the terrorist leadership - read by the veteran loyalist Gusty
Spence at a news conference at Fernhill House in Belfast this

From midnight tonight the UVF and linked Red Hand Commando "will
assume a non-military, civilianised, role".

A leadership statement signed in the name of Captain William
Johnston - the UVF's equivalent of the IRA's P O'Neill -

All recruitment has ceased

Military training has ceased

Targeting has ceased and all intelligence rendered obsolete

All active service units have been deactivated

All ordnance (weapons) has been put beyond reach and the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (the
IICD) instructed accordingly.

Then the statement addressed criminality: "We reaffirm our
opposition to all criminality and instruct our volunteers to co-
operate fully with the lawful authorities in all possible

"Moreover, we state unequivocally, that any volunteer engaged in
criminality does so in direct contravention of Brigade Command
and thus we welcome any recourse through due process of law."

This is written as an endgame statement by the UVF and Red Hand
leadership, but the weapons issue is unresolved.

Putting its arms "beyond reach" means under the control of
paramilitary quartermasters.

Billy Hutchinson and one of the UVF's most senior leaders advised
General John de Chastelain of this decision in an early morning
call to Canada on Tuesday.

The general returns to Belfast on May 14 and is likely to call on
the loyalist organisations to engage with his Commission.

The political and security context to this statement is that the
UVF believes "the mainstream republican offensive has ended",
that the principle of consent "has been firmly established", and
that " the Union remains safe".

There is no apology for the loyalist war, but they repeat their "
expression of abject and true remorse to all innocent victims of
the conflict ".

They call on all violent dissidents to "desist immediately", and
urge the governments and security forces "to deal swiftly and
efficiently with this threat".

"Failure to do so will inevitably provoke another generation of
loyalists toward armed resistance," the statement adds.

Meanwhile, in a statement the IICD said: "We have seen the
statement by the UVF and Red Hand Commando regarding their future
intentions. While we are encouraged by their proposal to end
their involvement in paramilitarism and to reject criminal
activity we are concerned by their intention to deal with their
arms without the involvement of the IICD.

"Without the Commission's involvment action on arms does not meet
the requirement of the decommissioning legislation nor the
agreement reached by the parties in the Belfast Agreement. We are
ready to meet with the UVF representatives to discuss how we can
work together in dealing with their arms."

c Belfast Telegraph


UVF Calls End To Terror Campaign

The paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force has declared that it is
renouncing violence and will cease to exist as a terrorist
organisation from midnight.

It also said it will keep its weapons, but has put them "beyond

However, the arms decommissioning body has said this did not meet
the requirements set out in government legislation.

During the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the UVF murdered more
than 500 people.

Its campaign also claimed the lives of 33 people in bomb attacks
in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974.

The UVF statement said its weapons would be stored in a number of
arms dumps "under the control of the UVF leadership, but not
accessible for use by members".

The statement was read by Gusty Spence, who helped found the
modern day UVF in 1966.

It declared a ceasefire 13 years ago, but since then its members
have been blamed for more than 20 murders.

Speaking in Fernhill House in west Belfast on Thursday, Gusty
Spence said that from midnight, the UVF and its associated group,
the Red Hand Commando, "will assume a non-military, civilianised

As part of this move, he said the organisation had implemented a
number of measures to deal with what it called the
"transformation from a military to a civilian organisation".

These include an end to all recruitment, training and targeting,
and all so-called "active service units" have been de-activated.

On the issue of weapons, the statement said these had been put
beyond reach and that the Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning led by General John de Chastelain had been

However, it did not elaborate on what this means, or whether the
general will be allowed to verify its claim.

The Progressive Unionist Party's Billy Hutchinson said: "People
should be seeing this (statement) as a positive thing rather than
a negative thing."

'Constitutional question'

The statement also condemned any criminal activity by its
members, and said they should "cooperate fully with the lawful
authorities in all possible instances".

The UVF has accepted that "the IRA's war is over" and said it was
making this move now because it was satisfied that Northern
Ireland's place within the United Kingdom was now safe.

The statement said: "We have taken the above measures in an
earnest attempt to augment the return of accountable democracy to
the people of Northern Ireland and as such, to engender
confidence that the constitutional question has now been firmly

There was also a call to the government to tackle the threat from
republican dissidents, and a warning that these activities could
"provoke another generation of loyalists toward armed

However, the Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning urged the UVF to work with it to destroy its

It said it welcomed the statement, but was "concerned by their
intention to deal with their arms without the involvement of the

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain welcomed the move as "a
further welcome confirmation that Northern Ireland is emerging
into a new and positive era".

The SDLP's Patsy McGlone said there was "a yawning credibility
gap for the UVF on the issue of targeting and intelligence-

The Ulster Unionist Party's Fred Cobain said: "We hope it signals
the destruction of materials of war so that they cannot again be
used to inflict harm."

The PSNI said: "Whilst we welcome today's announcement,
individuals and organisations will be judged by their actions -
actions always speak louder than words."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/03 08:52:38 GMT

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern is hailing the
significance of the move and says he hopes it is a first step
towards total decommissioning.

Elsewhere, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has described the UVF
declaration as another important step in the peace process.


Too Little Too Late: Relatives Of Victims

[Published: Thursday 3, May 2007 - 11:28]

Almost 600 families were left bereaved by the UVF during 40 years
of killings - and many of them were anticipating today that the
terror group would need to do more to finally resolve its long

Some of the victims' relatives who spoke to the Belfast Telegraph
before the expected UVF statement welcomed any progress by the
loyalist group.

But there was also scepticism about the group's intentions - and
calls for more information about links to the security forces.

Records show the UVF was responsible for 569 deaths between 1966
and 2005. About three-quarters of them were Catholics and 25%

Their first victim was John Patrick Scullion, who was shot in
West Belfast on June 11, 1966 by the UVF gang led by Gusty Spence
- the veteran loyalist who delivered the loyalist ceasefire
statement in 1994 and the latest UVF announcement.

The most recent UVF killing was of Michael Green, on August 15,
2005, in the Sandy Row area of Belfast.

The Dublin-Monaghan bombings on May 17, 1974 were among the worst
incidents carried out by the UVF - leaving 33 people dead.

Margaret Urwin, secretary of the Dublin-Monaghan relatives' group
Justice for the Forgotten, said the UVF needs to come clean about
who helped carry out the bombings. Some evidence points towards
the security forces.

"The UVF admitted the Dublin-Monaghan bombings 19 years after the
event, after denying it all that time," she said. "When they
admitted it, they declared that they acted alone.

"There's enough evidence now that shows that's untrue as well. We
would like to see them come forward and tell the truth about what

"Obviously every move is a good move.

"But if the republicans decommissioned, so should the loyalists
be expected to decommission."

The 13th anniversary of Roseanne Mallon's murder by UVF gunmen
will fall on the day Stormont is revived next week.

Her nephew, Martin Mallon, also called for the UVF to reveal the
role of informers in her killing outside Co Tyrone.

Undercover soldiers were present when she was killed but ordered
"not to react".

"There's still no word on who's pulling who's strings," he said.

"I supported Sinn Fein in moving forward, and things have to move
forward, but the British Government have to stand up and say 'we
were involved in a dirty war and we guarantee that our war is

"They're asking nationalists and republicans to support the
police, but the British government is still protecting these

"They need to be a lot more transparent about what went on."

Paul McKenna's sister Sharon was shot by the UVF on January 17,
1993, as she cooked a meal for a Protestant friend who had just
been released from hospital.

Earlier this year, the Police Ombudsman found that her killer had
been a paid police informant who was protected from prosecution.

Paul McKenna said he welcomed the UVF statement "though it is a
bit too late".

"Any move in that direction we would have to support," he said.

"What I'd really welcome is if they went away and left everybody

He said he would be "very sceptical" of any apology from the UVF.

The murder of Paul McIlwaine's son David, alongside Andrew Robb
in 2000, was linked to the UVF.

He said: "They have to decommission.

"First and foremost, get rid of the criminality and rogue
elements in the organisation. Then disband the organisation
itself - although you have to welcome any move and put it down as

He also wants the group to give information about killers who
acted outside the orders of the UVF leadership.

Raymond McCord's campaign about the UVF murder of his son,
Raymond Jnr, led to a major Police Ombudsman report about
collusion between members of the group and police.

"I want to hear they're disbanding," he said.

"I want their political people to explain why there's a need for
the UVF. It's no use just making a statement - the issue of
victims won't go away."

c Belfast Telegraph


Hain Welcomes UVF Statement

[Published: Thursday 3, May 2007 - 10:35]

Secretary of State, Peter Hain has welcomed the commitment from
the UVF and Red Hand Commando to end all paramilitary activity.

Mr Hain said: "Today's statement, committing the UVF and Red Hand
Commando to abandoning all paramilitary activity, is a further
welcome confirmation that Northern Ireland is emerging into a new
and positive era.

"The recent IMC report acknowledged that the leadership within
loyalism wants to move forward and this is an important
manifestation of that.

"Of course everyone is judged on what they do as well as what
they say, there must be delivery, there must be decommissioning,
but there is a momentum carrying Northern Ireland forward and
loyalism needs to be part of that.

"I specified the UVF in September 2005 following the loyalist
feud of that summer. In the light of today's statement I will
consult with the Chief Constable to review that position.

"For our part, we have always maintained that we will encourage
and support those who want to work to a positive agenda and
following through on today's announcement will be good for
loyalism and good for the wider community."

c Belfast Telegraph


UVF's Full Statement

[Published: Thursday 3, May 2007 - 10:14]

The UVF is to assume a non-military, civilianised role after
putting its weapons beyond use, the loyalist paramilitary
organisation announced today.

The full statement by the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand
Commando Command reads:

"Following a direct engagement with all units and departments of
our organisation, the leadership of the Ulster Volunteer Force
and Red Hand Commando today make public the outcome of our three-
year consultation process.

"We do so against a backdrop of increasing community acceptance
that the mainstream republican offensive has ended; that the six
principles upon which our ceasefire was predicated are
maintained; that the principle of consent has been firmly
established and thus, that the Union remains safe.

"We welcome recent developments in securing stable, durable
democratic structures in Northern Ireland and accept as
significant, support by the mainstream republican movement of the
constitutional status quo.

"Commensurate with these developments, as of twelve midnight,
Thursday May 3 2007, the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand
Commando will assume a non-military, civilianised, role.

"To consolidate this fundamental change in outlook we have
addressed the methodology of transformation from a military to
civilian organisation by implementing the following measures in
every operational and command area:

- All recruitment has ceased;

- Military training has ceased;

- Targeting has ceased and all intelligence rendered obsolete;

- All Active Service Units have been de activated;

- All Ordnance has been put beyond reach and the IICD instructed

"We encourage our volunteers to embrace the challenges which
continue to face their communities and support their continued
participation in non-military capacities.

" We reaffirm our opposition to all criminality and instruct our
volunteers to cooperate fully with the lawful authorities in all
possible instances.

" Moreover, we state unequivocally, that any volunteer engaged in
criminality does so in direct contravention of Brigade Command
and thus we welcome any recourse through due process of law.

" All volunteers are further encouraged to show support for
credible restorative justice projects so that they, with their
respective communities, may help eradicate criminality and anti-
social behaviour in our society.

" We ask the government to facilitate this process and remove the
obstacles which currently prevent our volunteers and their
families from assuming full and meaningful citizenship.

"We call on all violent dissidents to desist immediately and urge
all relevant governments and their security apparatus to deal
swiftly and efficiently with this threat.

"Failure to do so will inevitably provoke another generation of
loyalists towards armed resistance. We have taken the above
measures in an earnest attempt to augment the return of
accountable democracy to the people of Northern Ireland and as
such, to engender confidence that the constitutional question has
now been firmly settled.

" In doing so we reaffirm the legitimacy of our tactical response
to violent nationalism, yet reiterate the sincere expression of
abject and true remorse to all innocent victims of the conflict.

"Brigade Command salutes the dedication and fortitude of our
officers, NCOs and volunteers throughout the difficult, brutal
years of armed resistance. We reflect with honour on those from
our organisation who made the ultimate sacrifice; those who
endured long years of incarceration and the loyal families who
shared their suffering and supported them throughout.

"Finally we convey our appreciation for the honest forthright
exchange with officers, NCOs and volunteers throughout the
organisation over the past three years which has allowed us to
assume with confidence the position we adopt today.

"For God and Ulster Captain William Johnston; Adjutant."

c Belfast Telegraph


PSNI Clerk Gets Bail On Terrorist 'Plot' Charge

[Published: Thursday 3, May 2007 - 11:23]
By Chris Thornton

A campaigner warned about a possible UVF threat said he fears the
"full extent" of the group's spy ring may not now be revealed
because of the way the authorities are handling the case, writes
Chris Thornton.

Relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson - whose details were
found in possession of a Co Antrim loyalist last month - raised
his concerns after prosecutors decided not to challenge the bail
release of a PSNI clerk implicated in the plot.

Aaron Hill (23), of Mainebank, Randalstown, was freed on bail by
the High Court yesterday.

Hill is accused of passing information about 64 people from the
PSNI computer to a suspected UVF member.

Prosecutor David Reid told the court that Hill accessed the names
and addresses after accused UVF member Darren Richardson gave him
car registration details.

Mr Reid added: "These details were passed to Richardson by text
message, telephone and given in person."

Hill was freed on œ1,500 bail after the prosecution raised no
objection to his release.

Mr Reid said there were no concerns about him turning up for
trial or interfering with witnesses.

Over 100 people were warned by police after Richardson (30), of
Moneynick Road, Randalstown, was arrested last month and charged
with UVF membership, possession of documents likely to be of use
to terrorists and possession of 30 rounds of ammunition after the
bullets were discovered in his desk at a Ballymena bus factory.

The court was told both Hill and Richardson belong to Randalstown
Sons of Ulster flute band.

The court heard Hill's fingerprints were on six documents seized
from Richardson, which contained personal details of 64 people,
and 117 car registrations.

Hill is accused of possessing information likely to be of use to
terrorists, misconduct in public office, and the unauthorised
disclosure of information.

c Belfast Telegraph


Restorative Justice Gets Go Ahead

Four loyalist restorative justice schemes have been given
official approval by the government.

An inspection of the schemes run by Northern Ireland Alternatives
found there was no evidence that they were a front for
paramilitary groups.

The inspectors found volunteers and staff were professional and
dedicated in their work with young people.

Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice Kit Chivers said the report
paved the way for groups to apply for more funding.

"Most of the work undertaken by the schemes relates to community
development," he said.

"For that reason, inspectors would suggest that if ministers did
wish to support the schemes, core funding should not necessarily
come from the criminal justice system."

The inspection examined the parent organisation Northern Ireland
Alternatives and four schemes: East Belfast Alternatives; Greater
Shankill Alternatives; North Belfast Alternatives and North Down

Restorative justice is aimed at bringing victim and offender
together to settle minor disputes.

Supporters of such schemes argue that they provide a positive
alternative to paramilitary beatings and attacks in loyalist and
republican areas.

But critics have expressed concern that they may create a two-
tier justice system.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/03 05:37:47 GMT


Brown Talks To Focus On NI Cash

NI's first and deputy first ministers designate are due to hold
talks with Chancellor Gordon Brown on the shape of any future
peace dividend.

DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness will
meet Mr Brown in Edinburgh, in their first joint trip outside
Northern Ireland.

They will press for more funding for the new power-sharing
administration due to be created on 8 May.

They will also seek to reduce corporation tax in Northern

It is understood the DUP and Sinn Fein politicians have consulted
the Ulster Unionist and SDLP leaders about their priorities for
an economic package, ahead of the latest round of discussions
with Mr Brown.

No handshake

Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness will be accompanied by future
finance minister Peter Robinson and Conor Murphy who is due to
take over the regional development portfolio, which has
responsibility for water charges.

The two future junior ministers in the Office of the First and
Deputy First Minister, Ian Paisley junior and Gerry Kelly will
also attend the meeting.

Earlier this week, Mr Paisley said he would not shake hands with
Mr McGuinness when they are sworn in as first and deputy first

Devolution is due to return to Northern Ireland following an
agreement by the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/03 06:09:20 GMT


SF Call For Protection Of GPO Site

The area around Dublin's GPO should be designated a historical
quarter in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the 1916
Rising, Sinn Fein said today.

Party leader Gerry Adams today unveiled his 17 general candidates
in the capital -which include 14 councillors, two sitting TDs and
an MEP.

Mr Adams said the area around the GPO, Moore Street and O'Connell
Street "must be developed with an emphasis on learning and
tourism and in consultation with the people who live and work in
this community".

Fianna F il has earmarked the GPO site for a proposed museum.

Dublin Central candidate Mary Lou McDonald said planning was one
of the biggest challenges facing the city. "Sinn Fein has set
itself ambitions to become the leading voice for people across
Dublin," she said.

Mr Adams added: "We want to see Sinn Fein ministers at the
Cabinet table taking decisions to transform housing, healthcare,
education and transport services."

The party also called for reduced class sizes, 500 extra buses
for the city, a Minister of State with responsibility for drugs
and a properly resourced suicide prevention strategy.


Adams Visit Proves To Be A Moving Experience For Many

R¢is¡n Ingle with Gerry Adams: Gerry Adams moves people. To
tears. While pounding the streets of Carrick-on-Shannon, Co
Leitrim, yesterday with local Sinn Fein candidate Martin Kenny, a
dark-haired woman stops him in the street.

She is breathless at the encounter. "I'm so pleased to meet you,"
she says, shaking his hand. Overcome, she walks away wiping her

Afterwards, still weeping, the woman explains herself. "I am from
Omagh and 30 years ago, I left this country for London. Things
have changed so much. He is such a fine person, a symbol of
everything that is good and hopeful about Ireland," she says,
apologising for getting emotional. "I'm not," she insists, "the
kind of person who gets emotional."

There's a huge welcome for Gerry in Carrick-on-Shannon. He stops
to talk to some schoolchildren, who are thrilled to see him.

"Tiocfaidh r L !" shouts a young blond woman sitting in a car.
The response to this from Gerry and the Sinn Fein crew is muted.
Men in trucks beep at the Sinn Fein leader in support as they
drive past and trendy young men begin to follow him down the
road, pied piper style, towards the Shannon.

With Gerry it's all "how're you gettin'?" and "what's the craic?"
and "hiya missus, enjoying the weather?" and, if he's
interrupting someone: "sorry for cuttin' in on you". He wears a
freshly pressed light-blue short-sleeved shirt. Everywhere he
goes, he is greeted by outstretched hands and shy smiles;
everyone wants their photo taken with him.

Mostly everyone. There are tears of admiration on the campaign
trail in Roscommon-South Leitrim, but there are angry outbursts
too. Earlier in Boyle, Co Roscommon, a stocky man in shorts
refuses to shake Gerry's hand. He shoos him away, saying that his
brother was once forced to drive 15 miles with a proxy bomb in
the boot of his car. "You try it some time," he says, spitting
out the words. "And then try voting Sinn Fein."

Gerry just keeps on walking. "It's inevitable," says one campaign
worker. "The trauma that people went through, you will always
meet someone who is still emotionally caught up in that. But look
at the picture of Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley in The Irish
Times today, that's the future, not the past." The man in shorts
is soon forgotten.

There's a group of young men waiting outside Boyle courthouse who
have plenty of time for Gerry. Before lunch, he sits for a chat
in a hotel beside the river. Is May 8th going to add momentum to
Sinn Fein's general election chances? "Anybody who dismisses it
is making a huge mistake," he says. "Next Tuesday is going to be
a good day for Ireland, people are telling me they feel proud.
They have some sense of Sinn Fein being part of that, it was us
who made the agreement and people appreciate that."

He smiles and says Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley are "on

"I hardly get to see Martin anymore," he laughs.

Gerry Adams moves people. It's all very mysterious. At Cavan
hospital, the nurses tell him they appreciate his support, a
woman on a dialysis machine says he's made her feel better and
the old man in the sun-drenched garden of the psychiatric ward
smiles as he shares a few moments with the Sinn Fein leader.

As he finishes a lengthy tour of the hospital, a woman in a pink
dressing gown runs up the corridor desperate to say hello. He
gives her his warmest smile and she tells him about her gall
stones and her lung clot. "I just had to meet him," she says as
he walks away. Why? "Why not?" There's no tears, but her eyes are

c 2007 The Irish Times


Opin: Still Just End Of The Beginning For UVF

[Published: Thursday 3, May 2007 - 10:44]

It has been a journey through a bloody war to a different place,
and now, at last, the Ulster Volunteer Force is at the beginning
of some end.

Today's developments move us beyond the ceasefire delivered in
the name of the Combined Loyalist Military Command in October

But how far beyond that point is the debate that will grow out of
this latest loyalist statement.

We have been left with a question.

Is your war really over if you keep your guns?

This is the flaw - the mistake, the missing chunk in this endgame

And, in the eyes of many, it will be the making small of
something that could have been and should have been so much

Yet we shouldn't be surprised - not if we follow the word trail
that took us back to Fernhill House this morning for the detail
of this latest loyalist initiative.

We were here before - many years ago for that ceasefire
announcement of 1994.

Gusty Spence read the statement then, and 13 years later he was
once again the chosen voice to speak the words of the UVF and Red
Hand leaderships.

And, if you look, you will find the roots of those words in an
interview that is now one-year-old.

That interview given "with the full authority of the Brigade
Command of the Ulster Volunteer Force" was printed in this
newspaper last April.

Back then, the man who spoke to the Belfast Telegraph did so from
behind a balaclava.

And what did he say on the question of arms?

"Quite frankly decommissioning is not a word that we use in our
vocabulary. Decommissioning is something that the Ulster
Volunteer Force have neither promised nor discussed nor are
likely to become engaged in. It's not on our agenda."

Then those comments were set in some context.

"However, the issue of military material is something that the
Ulster Volunteer Force are very actively discussing. We recognise
that society is changing.

"We, engaged in the process that we are, wish to be responsible
about military materials. We do not want to see a Northern
Ireland awash with weapons and plagued by the misuse of those
weapons, and we are looking at that issue responsibly."

And in that year-old word puzzle you had both your clue and your
answer. The UVF was always going to deliver short of

And this - in a statement that in so many places can be read so
positively - is where the loyalist leadership missed the moment.
In clinging to their guns - the weapons of their bloody history -
they have failed to recognise just how much society has changed.

And in that missed moment - in the mistake they have made - the
paramilitary leadership have left this initiative wide open to

Out of their mouths, in another interview with this newspaper
last August, the UVF command accepted that "the Provo war" was

It is almost two years since the IRA ordered an end to its armed
campaign and moved quickly to decommissioning.

At nine different locations, watched by the de Chastelain
Commission and church witnesses, republican weapons were put
beyond use.

And, in those developments, a standard was set.

The UVF still waited.

It wanted certainty on Northern Ireland's political future -
certainty that has now been delivered in the making of the Sinn
Fein-DUP deal.

And all of this, in terms of demands and expectations, was going
to raise the bar yet higher - and it was raised to a height above
the UVF's reach.

You will be told from inside that organisation that
decommissioning would have threatened this entire loyalist

It just couldn't be delivered.

But that won't wash - not any more.

Weapons left under the control of paramilitary quartermasters,
are weapons that are still available for use.

Armies - even the paramilitary ones - are led and ordered.

Decommissioning is achieved by leadership direction.

'Volunteers' are told it is happening.

That's what the IRA did, and that's what made it possible.

So, we have a day of progress - significant progress - in all
that has been said about all that will stop.

But this is not the end.

It can't be, and it won't be until the guns are gone.

There are too many scars, too many wounds to be healed, and too
many ghosts.

And this statement - for all its words and all its worth - has a
missing part.

c Belfast Telegraph


Marching The UVF Off This War Stage Is Not Like Switching A Light
Out. It's Achieved By A Slow Melting Away...

[Published: Thursday 3, May 2007 - 08:28]
By Brian Rowan

The waiting is all but over - and the words are ready to be

On the Shankill Road in Belfast they have been preparing this
script for quite some time.

And when the curtain raises, we will have seen the stage before.
The setting and the main performer will be the same.

So, what is today all about?

It is about another contribution to the ending of conflict. It is
about peace and not war.

This is the outcome of years of talking inside the UVF and Red
Hand Commando organisations. It is about what the paramilitary
leadership believes it can deliver.

But many will not understand the reason for keeping weapons -
even if there is no intention to ever use them again. And this is
the flaw in this paramilitary endgame.

It is the question that asks: have they or haven't they gone

We know what this long discussion inside the UVF and Red Hand
organisations has been about. They have been talking to each
other about why they are still here, why specifically on the
question of recruitment, they became " numerically stronger" in
the period after the 1994 Combined Loyalist Military Command
ceasefire. And, so we will hear today, about a different UVF.

The orders and instructions are designed to remove the military
threat - and fashioned in a way to fit this organisation and the
Red Hand Commando into our developing peace.

This is a statement that will order an end to a range of
activities, recruitment, intelligence gathering, punishment
attacks and targeting.

But where will the guns be? And who are the quartermasters who
will have the keys to unlock those weapons if they are ever again

This is the huge weakness in this statement, the biggest question
that demands an answer.

There are those in the UVF leadership who look tired from the
talking - and who are showing the pressure of this moment.

While the politicians worked for an agreement at St Andrews last
year, the UVF and Red Hand leadership sat in the peace school at
Messines in Belgium - part of their thinking and working through
to today's statement.

And, now they are ready to speak their words and have them

Harold Good, the churchman who watched the IRA put its weapons
beyond use, talks about processes and journeys. Today, he and
others will recognise that the loyalist leadership has taken
another step forward.

But he also made that comment: "We do expect and we have a right
to ask for completeness."

Marching the UVF or any other organisation off this war stage is
not like switching a light out.

These things have to be managed - and they are achieved by a slow
melting away.

So, even after today's statement there will be a UVF and Red Hand
leadership and there will be unfinished business.

That is part of the continuing journey - this walk away from war
and the steps towards peace.

It is understandable that there is a continuing focus on the
weapons question - but that is only part of today's story.
Progress is being made. Something positive is happening. But it
may take a while for people to believe.

c Belfast Telegraph


Extra Funding For Gay Pride... From A DUP Ministry

[Published: Thursday 3, May 2007 - 08:34]
By David Gordon

Belfast's annual Gay Pride Festival was boosted by a grant
increase from an incoming DUP minister's department.

Festival organisers were yesterday offered a œ5,110 allocation
for this year's celebrations - œ2,110 more than the 2006 funding.

The financial support has been made available by an offshoot of
the Department of Culture, which will have DUP MLA Edwin Poots as
its Minister from next week.

Mr Poots is a member of the Free Presbyterian Church and has been
a vociferous opponent of recent gay rights legislation in
Northern Ireland.

He signalled yesterday that he will not intervene over the
Belfast Gay Pride funding, despite strong opposition from within
his Church.

While stressing that his views on same sex relationships were
well known, the incoming minister pointed to equality legislation

"There is little point making decisions that will end up being
overturned in a court of law," he stated.

Mr Poots also said that he would not have a direct input on such
grant-aid issues.

The œ5,110 funding has been offered to Gay Pride organisers by
the Department of Culture- financed Community Festivals Fund

This Fund is administered by the Northern Ireland Events Company,
a sponsorship and promotional body bankrolled by the Department.

In a statement confirming this year's grant decision, CFF said:
"The group has been made an offer of funding in recognition of a
strong application which meets CFF criteria.

"In particular, CFF noted the group's efforts to develop and
improve the event and its success in generating income from the

The Department of Culture has stated that Events Company funding
decisions are taken "at arm's length from government".

Prominent Free Presbyterian Church minister, the Rev David
McIlveen, yesterday vowed to picket the Gay Pride parade through
Belfast again this year.

He also denounced the provision of grant-aid for the festival.

"We could never countenance the use of public money whenever
there are so many other demands for public money in more
legitimate areas," he said.

"We would appeal for the funding to be withdrawn."

The clergyman declined to comment on the fact that this year's
funding would be from the budget of a DUP minister's department.

Another Free Presbyterian Minister, the Rev Ivan Foster, has used
the issue to renew his criticism of the party's power sharing
agreement with Sinn Fein.

This year's Belfast Gay Pride Festival is due to run from July 28
to August 4, with a parade through the city taking place on the
final day.

c Belfast Telegraph


McAleese Gives Seal Of Approval To Slated Broadway Show

03/05/2007 - 11:01:17

President Mary McAleese has given her seal of approval to a new
Broadway show from the producers of Riverdance, despite its
slating by US theatre critics.

As part of her week-long American tour promoting links between
the two countries, the President attended a showing of 'The
Pirate Queen' last night on New York's Broadway.

While US critics slammed the show following its opening night,
the President joined last night's audience in giving the
performance a standing ovation, before meeting backstage with
cast and crew.

The brainchild of former Riverdance producers Moya Doherty and
John McColgan, 'The Pirate Queen' tells the story of Irish 16th
century pirate chieftain Grace O'Malley.

The show combines a sweeping score with elements of modern Irish
dance and song, capturing the epic story of O'Malley, her quest
to protect her people and save her true love, which ultimately
puts her on a collision course with her rival, England's Queen
Elizabeth I.

Following the international financial success of Riverdance, news
that the former producers were teaming up with Alain Boublil and
Claude-Michel Schonberg of 'Les Miserables' and 'Miss Saigon'
fame was greeted with much excitement among theatre

But following its opening night in Broadway at the beginning of
April, the critics waded in, with the New York Times, USA today
and others slamming elements of the epic show.

But despite the criticism, the President and her husband Martin
said they were thrilled with the production, giving performers a
standing ovation as they gathered on-stage, before meeting and
congratulating both queens and producer Moya Doherty.

President McAleese will today continue her US trip and will
attend a conference in St John's University in Queens, New York.

She will be conferred with a honorary degree in Law and will
address students on Ireland's transformation from a country of
mass emigration to one which immigrants of all nationalities now
call home.

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