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June 06, 2007

PSNI Resists Calls For Unarmed Police

News about Ireland & the Irish

BN 06/06/07 PSNI Chief Resists SF Calls For Unarmed Police Force
BT 06/06/07 Ruane In Historic Presbyterian Meeting
DJ 06/06/07 Mayor Refuses Photo With Sinn Fein Deputy
BB 06/06/07 Adams In Call For Eta Peace Talks
BB 06/05/07 Victim Of Attack 'Feigned Death'
BB 06/05/07 Major Push For Irish Language Law
BN 06/06/07 Junior And Leaving Cert Exams Begin Today


PSNI Chief Resists SF Calls For Unarmed Police Force

06/06/2007 - 18:10:44

The North's top police officer resisted demands for an unarmed
force today as Sinn Fein questioned him in public for the first

Republicans challenged Chief Constable Hugh Orde and his senior
command team during their debut on the new-look Policing Board in

No voices were raised, but Constable Orde was swift to reject
Sinn Fein representative Alex Maskey's assessment that he has
"robocops" patrolling neighbourhoods with guns.

Stressing the urgency of shifting the Police Service of Northern
Ireland towards becoming routinely unarmed, Mr Maskey wanted to
know what steps the force was taking to make it happen.

The South Belfast MLA insisted one of the Good Friday Agreement's
objectives was to end the days when all officers in the North are
equipped with guns.

However Mr Orde insisted it was never likely to happen.

He told the 19-member authority no other UK forces operated
completely without weapons.

"The notion of an unarmed police service is quite frankly a non-
starter," he said.

"Currently my assessment is that we are where we need to be.

"I have no plans to start removing guns."

Mr Orde's position briefly threw him into confrontation with Mr

Making clear his opposition, the Sinn Fein representative
declared: "Almost every officer is armed.

"Most of these officers carry these arms not from a security
point of view, but from a cultural one, as a personal protection

Despite the significance of Sinn Fein's arrival on the Board,
following it's historic decision in January to end decades of
opposition to the North's police and justice systems, the 90-
minute session was relatively muted.

Mr Maskey and colleague Daithi McKay - the party's third member
Martina Anderson was unable to attend due to other business -
challenged senior officers as they had pledged to do without any
heated exchanges.

Later, however, the party insisted that some of the most critical
work would take place behind closed doors.

"We tabled a number of questions for the PSNI Chief Constable to
deal with including the lack of co-operation with inquests into a
series of killings in Belfast and Tyrone, the lack of movement
towards an unarmed service and the continuing under
representation of Catholics in senior positions," said Mr Maskey.

"While public sessions like the one today are important,
particularly to allow members of the public to ask questions,
much of our work will take place on the committees."


Ruane In Historic Presbyterian Meeting

[Published: Wednesday 6, June 2007 - 11:38]
By Alf McCreary

The Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane, has made history by
becoming the first Sinn Fein member of a devolved assembly to
address a meeting of the Presbyterian General Assembly.

The Minister took part last night in a Talk Education session in
Church House in Belfast.

The audience included the deputy leader of the Ulster Unionists,
Danny Kennedy, and the Auxiliary Catholic Bishop of Down and
Connor, Dr Donal McKeown.

Those who made short presentations included the Reverend Ian
Ellis, secretary of the Transferor Representatives'


The Minister told the meeting: "Your churches have a long and
distinguished history of supporting education.

"I am keen to talk further to you about the future, and I want to
ensure that together we can create a culture of education and a
commitment to every child and young person."

She said that she had recently attended a presentation by 12
Shankill Road schools.

"It was a credit to them. Any successful schools I have seen are
those linked to their communities."

Last night's meeting was not a formal part of the General
Assembly which is being held this week, but it was an important
gathering in association with the Assembly which was addressing
key educational issues.

Five years ago there was controversy when Alex Maskey became the
first Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast to attend the

Opening Night of the General Assembly.

The atmosphere last night was relaxed, and the Minister was given
a warm welcome.

Music was provided by the pupils of Roddensvale Special School in
Larne, and there was Irish dancing from the pupils of Glynn
Primary School.

The presenter for the evening was Seamus McKee of the BBC.

c Belfast Telegraph


Mayor Refuses Photo With Sinn Fein Deputy

The new DUP Mayor of Derry Alderman Drew Thompson has confirmed
he refused to be photographed with his new Sinn Fein deputy after
his election, saying that "unresolved issues" remain over
Protestant alienation and trust.

The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Patricia Logue, said she was
saddened by the situation and the Mayor could have shown

Alderman Thompson, who declared he would be Mayor for all the
city, declined to be pictured with Deputy Mayor Logue at the
council's AGM in the Guildhall.

Ald. Thompson told 'FN' he did not believe that refusing to be
pictured with his deputy was a major issue.

"There are still a lot of issues that need to be resolved. I
intend to have a working relationship but we do not have to be
all 'buddy buddy' about it.

"I believe there is a lot of trust that has to be built. There
are still a lot of barriers there, one being Protestant
alienation and the other being trust. You have to feel confident
in the people you are working with and that doesn't happen over
night. It takes time.

"We have come along way. On Monday there was no Unionist
opposition to the choice of Deputy Mayor. That is the first time
that has happened for a long time."

Cllr Logue said: "I wasn't asked to have my photo taken with Drew
but I never knew he had refused to have it taken with me. If that
is the case then I am saddened. He could have taken this
opportunity to have his photo with me and to show leadership
between us for the sake of the city. Maybe the time will come one
day when he can sit down and have his photo taken with me.

"I think this has great potential and it's very petty if he
refused. It does nothing for the positive portrayal of the city.
He should want to sit down with me as Deputy Mayor for the people
of Derry."

Speaking about the growing closeness between political leaders in
Northern Ireland, she added: "This should be across the board."

Last Updated: 06 June 2007

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Adams In Call For Eta Peace Talks

The Spanish government and Eta must return to the negotiating
table, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has said.

Speaking after the Basque separatist group said it was ending its
ceasefire, Mr Adams said there was disappointment negotiations
had broken down.

Eta said its "permanent" ceasefire would end on Wednesday.

Mr Adams said that both sides had to show "restraint" and that it
was important to redouble efforts to resolve the conflict

"The lessons of the Irish peace process and indeed every conflict
resolution process throughout the world tells us that it is now
important to redouble efforts to put the process there back on
track," he said.

"All sides should show restraint and do everything in their power
to ensure that a process is put in place which can allow this
conflict to be resolved peacefully through genuine dialogue and

Mr Adams visited Madrid and the Basque country last year to urge
both sides to develop a peaceful settlement to their long-running
dispute, which centres around Eta's pursuit of an independent
Basque state.

It was reported in Spain that senior Sinn Fein politicians were
involved in the negotiations which led to last year's Eta


Eta declared a "permanent" ceasefire in March 2006, and had
insisted it still held, despite a bomb that killed two people at
Madrid airport in December.

After the airport attack Spain's Socialist government broke off
peace talks.

In a message printed by the Basque newspaper Berria on Tuesday,
the banned group said "minimum conditions for continuing a
process of negotiations do not exist".

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero condemned
Eta's move.

"Eta's decision goes totally in the opposite direction of the
path that Basque and Spanish society want, the path of peace," he
said. ETA's four-decade campaign to achieve independence for the
Basque region of Spain and southwestern France has claimed more
than 800 lives.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/06/06 05:25:51 GMT


Victim Of Attack 'Feigned Death'

A Ballymena man pretended to be dead to survive a sectarian
attack during which he was strangled, stabbed and beaten, Belfast
Crown Court has heard.

Aaron White, 35, of no fixed abode, is accused of attempting to
murder Michael Liam Reid in October 2003.

He is one of three men alleged to have carried out the attack in
a house in Patrick Place in Ballymena.

A prosecuting QC said Mr Reid escaped when left with one
attacker, while the others went for a saw to "cut him up".

He said that during the attack, Mr Reid came to the conclusion he
was going to die and decided his only chance of survival was to
feign his death.

The QC said the motive of the attack was vicious sectarianism.

He added that police later discovered Aaron White's glasses and
mobile phone in the house.

In September 2005, Mr White's 30-year-old brother Neil White from
Wakehurst Road, Ballymena, was jailed for 16 years after
admitting the attempted murder charge.

Mr Reid, who is a Catholic, told the court the attack on him
started after the two Whites and a third man came into the house
of a friend he was in and asked him who he was and where in
Ballymena he was from.


He said after telling them the truth, he was battered with a
"heavy object", while attempts were made to strangle him before
he was stabbed in the neck and shoulder with a kitchen knife.

Mr Reid said he intially tried to struggle but felt himself going
dizzy and losing strength. He then let his body go limp and
played dead.

He said he was left alone with Neil White while the other two
looked for a saw.

He was able get away after a struggle and ran into the street, he

Under cross-examination from a defence QC, Mr Reid rejected
suggestions that he was "disorientated" and did not know what was
really going on.

The trial continues.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/06/05 17:39:11 GMT


Major Push For Irish Language Law

As many as 4,000 responses to a proposed new Irish language law
have been sent to the government, as a consultation period comes
to an end.

The draft bill proposed that public bodies should specify
measures for using Irish when providing services.

It also proposed the creation of an Irish language commissioner
and giving people the right to use Irish in court.

Nationalists are strongly in favour of the measure, but unionists
have promised to block any bill in Stormont.

It is thought Department of Culture officials will not finish
analysing the responses until the end of the summer.

In a previous exercise this year, the department received 688
letters, 1376 postcards and a petition signed by 2,500 people.

Out of these responses, 93% were in favour of the Irish Language

The current consultation, ending on Tuesday, is on the basis of
draft legislation prepared under direct rule, which former
culture minister Maria Eagle described as a middle-ground

Meanwhile, supporters of the legislation gathered outside BBC
Broadcasting House in Belfast to protest about coverage.

Irish language activists and Sinn Fein's Francie Brolly were
joined by pupils from a primary school in Turf Lodge to protest
against what they said was the BBC's failure to cover a march
through Belfast supporting the act in February.

The campaigners also wish to see more Irish language programming
and greater protection for Irish speakers' rights in Northern

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/06/05 13:35:11 GMT


Junior And Leaving Cert Exams Begin Today

06/06/2007 - 07:31:06

More than 100,000 school children will today begin the 2007
Junior and Leaving Cert examinations.

Around three million exam papers have been distributed to 4,500
centres around the country for the 13-day trial which will run
until June 21 for Junior Cert and June 22 for Leaving Cert

Examinations will be held in 89 curricular subjects and native
speakers from across the EU will sit the exams in their mother
tongues at Leaving Cert level.

"I want to send my best wishes to all those students sitting the
Leaving and Junior Certificate examinations over the coming
weeks," said Minister for Education Mary Hanafin.

"For those taking the Leaving Cert, this is an important step on
their path to lifelong learning.

"All their study and hard work up until now will give them a huge
choice in further studies and career options in the future."

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